- Note: I trust you, dear reader, to be able to determine whether or not this is fact or fiction. If you cannot, please see the note at the end.
Social media, broadcast news and academia alike have been buzzing lately with the latest discovery: a group of researchers from CERN, running experiments on the new Super-Large Encabulator Array, discovered a strange phenomenon last Wednesday, colloquilally dubbed the Moony-Bazingers effect. While the SLEA group has yet to publish a paper formally documenting their findings, those who are interested in the technical aspects will be pleased to find that, as of press time, 15 preprints are currently available on arXiv concerning the subject.
While a detailed description of the Moony-Bazingers effect is nearly impossible to give in the space we have here, a broadly summary was given by project lead Adam Shirtless at a press conference yesterday:
|“||So, um, here's the basic deal of it: you get some superconductors, and you use a laser to shoot a bunch of HTTP packets or whatever at the loop, and there's also this whole deal with mirrors and beryllium and whatever, and basically, like, if you point a refractometer at them, you get some insanely brutally gnarly stuff. And it turns out that if you take the waveform and throw a bunch of compute at it, it resolves into some totally different stuff, and it turns out that the different stuff is actually a bunch of valid HTTP packets that claim to be from weird places that don't exist. We don't really know where they're from, or if they're legit, I mean for all we know the whole thing could be total cap, but the math does mostly check out, so it's definitely big if true.||”|
Perhaps it is appropriate in a poetic sense, since CERN httpd was the first hypertext server, and www.cern.ch was the first WWW site back in '92; it's also appropriate in a practical sense, since CERN is the only organization in the world currently posessing an encabulator array of this size. Whatever the circumstances that lay behind this discovery, it is ground-breaking and unique.
Currently, experiments are underway to determine the properties and nature of the Moony-Bazingers effect; chief among them is the actual status of the data being received. If taken at face value, the data — which consists of HTTP packets that resolve into a variety of files, including Web sites — seem to originate from wildly different worlds than our own. For example, one configuration of the LEA (dubbed the "High Castle setup") yields a number of websites which claim to be located in the "Pacific States of America". Unfortunately, an even more mysterious phenomenon known as the "NFCC field" prevents these worlds from being explored, even with the most cutting-edge technology that has been tried. While varying turboencabulation frequency has allowed connections to a dizzying array of different "Bazingerzones", as they've been termed, all information that has been gathered from the connection so far has purported to be from Earth — or at least a planet with identical gravity, mass, density, elemental composition, set of constellations and solar system.
Plumbing the heights
"So," explained Dr. Shirtless at the press conference, "the shit of it all is, I mean, assuming any of this is real and we're not just on drugs or whatever, we figure the overwhelming majority of worlds never develop life, or they do so in a way that doesn't result in self-augmenting intelligence, or they do get complex societies but they never get around to building a bunch of random semiconductor technology, or they do build semiconductors but then something fucked up happens and they never get around to superconductors, or something. I mean, we had superconductors for a long-ass time and we didn't even think to do this until just now, so like, whatever. Big if true."
Through a generous grant by the Speedwagon Foundation, The Signpost was able to attend this press conference, and was included in the limited roster of organizations permitted to query what some are calling the "Scooses-Bazingernet". Other members of the Provisional Query Group included the WWW Consortium, the International Association of Applied Linguistics, the Unicode Consortium, the Internet Archive, the United Nations, the Associated Press, the National Enquirer, and selected research faculty from the Charlevoix County College of Theology and Forestry Technology (the latter by specific request of certain kingdoms on the other side of the connection).
Establishing connections to outzones has proven difficult — while all of them seem to possess technology capable of transmitting digital information, the transmission control protocol/Internet protocol often requires some modification to work properly.
So, too, are there linguistic differences. While a large enough corpus of text can usually be decoded by humans and machine learning algorithms well enough to give basic understanding, getting there is a challenge unto itself:
That's not mojibake — it's a joke about trees farting, which is a double entendre meant to indicate a "page not found" error message. It comes from Provisional Bazingerzone PB-82FB7E0A, appropriately termed the "Arrow Dudes". Hubert Glockenspiel, who's spent the last 15 years as the Unicode Consortium's Extraterrestrial Script and Character Integration Coordinator, has been taking an active role in the multinational attempts to decode and interpret these new languages:
"Sure, most of them tend to have written Wikipedia articles about their language, but we're finding a lot of stuff that doesn't even seem to really register as language," he said in an interview. "Some of them speak normal stuff like Volapük or High Akkadian, but some of them speak languages where a person's name is a SHA-256 hash of their genome. Or nouns are Fourier transforms of objects' emission spectra. Or, worse, they speak Lojban. So it's not something that's insurmountable, in most cases, but it's a process that is going to take us a while."
Wikipedias for fungi
One peculiar feature of the Scooses-Bazingernet, quickly discovered during initial tests, is that an overwhelming majority of the civilizations and species reachable through CERN's connection possess some equivalent of Wikipedia.
"Honestly, it makes no sense," explained Dr. Anita Pennywhistle, head of the newly-formed xenosociology team. "It's the product of a very specific technological moment and cultural zeitgeist, so you'd think it would only show up in a couple of specific scenarios. But it's basically everywhere. You've got a Wikipedia online from the Holy Strangite Concordat, the Universal Hoxhian People's Union, the Eternal Commonwealth of Byzantium, and so on. There's even a Wikipedia — somehow, bewilderingly, pronounced roughly the same way — in a world where intelligent life evolved from Fungi and not Animalia."
Due to this unique constant, shared across virtually all Bazingerzones, it is possible to conduct a detailed, comprehensive analysis of their history, culture, biology, and philosophy. While the content of the articles themselves have been put under a strict informational quarantine by the United Nations Security Council, The Signpost was able to wikilawyer our way into an approval to disclose the contents of various informational pages.
So far, our search has been slow, since we have to translate languages before we can read them. Towards that end, we've been working with Professor Glockenspiel's team to enhance their understanding of Wikipedia politics — strangely similar across a variety of civilizations and life forms — which, in turn, aids in their ability to decode the language. While our publications are still subject to approval by the UN Security Council, we expect to have them ready in time for next issue. Particularly, we look forward to bringing you the full translated text of WP:ANTLERSIZE — stay tuned!
Through their publication, we hope to inform you, our readers, of the fascinating aspects of what may well be the greatest discovery in the history of human civilization: policies, guidelines, and essays written by our own brothers, sisters, nongendered spawnmates, clonal peri-entites, conscious agglomerative systems, and autonomous persistent Boltzmann clusters class IV through XVII.
- The latter.