Inside out

That’s what some of the early Greeks thought the world looked like. A big sphere floating around in empty space. With other spheres around it. I think it’s a cool idea. I wonder how civilization would have developed if they’d been right.

That’s not a story. It’s just an idea. You need characters, you need arcs. This is just Troutian idea pulp. What’s the message?

Can’t art just be interesting for its own sake? Maybe it’s more of a thought experiment than a story, but it’s still a cool idea.

I’m sure you’ll get some nerds excited. So what’s the point of divergence? How does this world start developing differently?

Well, the Greeks were proved wrong experimentally. You start to see it pretty quickly. If the sun is just another thing moving about in space, you can dig a hole straight down and there would be a shadow in it most of the time, except when the sun is exactly overhead. But actually, the light just hits the bottom all through the day, right until nightfall.

You’d also get a kind of line, like a hill, very far away that things would disappear behind. Even on the ocean, if a ship sailed away from you, you’d just see the mast after a while and then nothing. The tilted up view we get through binoculars would probably look crazy to them.

Can you even get gravity to work that way, to pull inward all the time? Wouldn’t you need to rewrite the laws of physics. Surely it would be beneath you to just handwave that away?

I think it mostly does work that way, in an empty universe. Especially if you took away most of the dark matter, the rest of it would just clump up into rocks that circle around each other.

How about day and night? Wouldn’t the Sun just heat up one side of this Earth clump?

Well, the Greeks imagined that these clumps moved around each other. I mean, that’s what we have at the centre: the Sun and Sakmet, spinning around each other. These would just be farther apart. If the Sun would circle the Earth-clump, it would experience day and night just like us. Or maybe the Earth-clump spins around its axis.

Or maybe the Earth would circle around the Sun, together with loads of other clumps.

I bet the churches would be upset about that.

Right? Just like when radio waves were discovered and showed the other pockets, and we found out we weren’t at the center of the universe. Except they would just need strong binoculars, so it would probably all blow up much earlier.

So you’d get an earlier Renaissance?

Who knows. It would work for the story.

I guess rocketry and flight would be less important. For us, there’s an incentive to travel to the other side of the earth quickly. They’d probably invest much more in tunnel-digging.

Possibly. For us, tunneling has always been about exploration. Finding out what’s out there and actually getting there. For them rocketry, would become a symbol of exploration. Getting to the other clumps would be a huge milestone. Like when we first dug down to the sub-Asian bubble.

And found nothing but darkness and slightly different rocks. I guess you have a romantic side after all. What about the shape of the universe? Would they develop neutrino detectors? Work out how big it all is? Or would their telescopes show them right away?

Pretty much. If the space between the clumps would really be empty they would see a sky full of other Suns from day one. They could look neutrino-years away just with the naked eye. And radio waves would let them see even further. I doubt they’d ever discover that neutrinos even exist.

How do you end a story like that?

I don’t know. Maybe with the end of the universe?

Is it as depressing as ours? The dark matter slowly squeezing us in like a trash compactor, when the suns run out of energy?

Pretty much. All these clumps would be like specks of foam circling the drain. Eventually everything would collapse into one big clump. It’s no more stable than the real universe. At least not in my story.