ID-100280633Bubble Universes, Multi-universes, D-Branes, and others – there are no shortage of theories about how our universe is structured. Like most economic forecasts, they are probably all wrong (sorry, my inner financial analyst couldn’t resist). This is no slam of the great minds of our time, it is simply a reflection of how little we really know about the universe. The good news is new information should be collected when new discoveries are made about particle physics with the recently revved up Large Hadron Collider, and the new observations of the universe are made with the launch of new satellites. (Not to mention the current fly-by of Pluto by New Horizons)

Until the great minds of our time unravel the mysteries of our reality, us mere mortals must choose an argument. For me, D-branes made the most sense. Dr. Lisa Randall, a particle physicist, offers a spoon feeding of the theory, allowing my simple mind to grasp it. Intuitively the theory makes more sense to me, as opposed to theories like multi-universes in which every possibility exists at once. Finally, Dr. Randall dangled some lovely worm (holes) in front of an aspirational science fiction writer.

D-Branes, or simply branes, is an effort to combine the mathematical beauty (so I’m told) of string theory with the science of observation of particle physics and the Standard Model. The brane we are confined to may have around 96% of dark matter (matter we cannot see) within it, offering another rich avenue to explore in science fiction story-telling. What makes it interesting for me is the theory these branes can warp and exist in a higher dimensional bulk (er, universe). When writing Evolved, this gave me a rich texture for the environment combined with opportunities to explore higher dimensions. It also gave me an interesting theory about two branes, or a separate energy field, interacting and causing our reality, or the Big Bang.

Warping means the brane itself can have a curvature to it. Taking this one step further into the fiction, I imagined a brane with a rich texture of mountain ranges on it. From our perspective held within the brane we cannot see these ridges. But, once identified they provide short cuts when traveling within the brane. Think of travelers through a mountain range with a map that enables them to choose the easiest path. More interesting, these ridges provide short cuts for particles that are only loosely bound to the brane. Neutrinos are strange particles that seem to only weakly interact with mass. I used neutrinos as a vehicle to travel between ridges. At this point I realize I’m moving further into fiction, but I made a great deal of effort to have at least an argument behind the fiction.

After all, part of the fun of Science Fiction is letting the mind wander over possibilities.

[Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at]