On the Application of Networking Techniques to an Instantaneous
A mechanism has been proposed (Pratchett1) for the instantaneous
transmission of data across effectively infinite distances. It relies on the
premise that the property of 'Royalty' is (a) held only by a single person
at a time and (b) is transferred instantly on the death of a monarch to the
heir. By definition, there must always be a monarch, and therefore there
must be some property of 'royalty'. Pratchett proposes a fundamental particle,
the royalty (R), which is available in two sexes: the kingon (Rk) and the
queenon (Rq). These particles mediate the transfer of royalty between the
expiring monarch and the new incumbent.
What technical constraints exist?
Two functions are required to establish a communications mechanism using the
transfer of royalty: a method to identify the presence of royalty in a
non-destructive way, and a way to modulate an expiring monarch - preferably
also in a non-destructive way!
At present, we consider that the best way to identify royalty is to measure
the blueness of the blood. A trained observer can of course, after practice,
identify royalty by other means - for example the size and angle of the
ears, or other inherited markers - but it is felt that for normal users,
more mechanised methods should be available. We propose the excision of an
easily available vein - perhaps from the arm - and replacement with a
transparent section of tubing. Normal colorimity methods can then be used to
identify the presence of the royalty particle. Of course, care must be taken
to avoid problems due to the traditional genetic disease of haemophilia.
However, as well as detection, it is necessary to find some method to
reversibly modulate the presence of royalty in the transmitter. This will
require a more sophisticated approach due to the medical technology needed.
The premise of only a single monarch at a time implies, ipso facto, that
this can only be a digital transmission system. The monarch must be either
alive (i.e. royal) or dead (i.e. not royal). It will need a reliable method
to both terminate and reanimate the monarch in question - this will need
precision to avoid the potential indeterminancies of a half-alive/half-dead
state and also a certain amount of care to prevent the monarch being left in
a non-reversible state. It is likely that further research is needed in this
exciting area of study, perhaps in a republic.
Having defined a communication channel, we need to consider what is required
to make it into a network. The most common current digital transmission
methods are abstracted at varying levels - from the software interface down
to the hardware layer. We feel that this abstraction can be useful in this
context as only the hardware level needs to be addressed. The major
difference between using royalty and electronic methods of data transfer on
a single network chain is that of speed - although the transmission is
instantaneous the rate of data exchange is limited by the speed of colour
change in the the blood of the receiver. At least one heartbeat - and
probably more - is required to ensure that a colour change propagates
properly through the body. Assuming a normal human range of approximately
seventy beats per minute, we can deduce a maximum bitrate on the order of
thirty bits per minute. It is possible that this could be elevated by the
application of proper chemical regimes - overclocking - but like traditional
methods, overclocking by too high a margin can damage components. However,
it is still quite feasible to use compression methods on the payload
contained in the data packet.
However, there are other considerations. The most fundamental is of course
the constraint that this is a one-way medium - data transmission can only
occur from the monarch to the heir. To return data a second channel is
required. The transfer of an Rk particle is not necessarily synchronous with
the Rq particle transmission - indeed, they can be separated by many tens of
years in exceptional circumstances. Further, while conservation principles
suggest that an equal number of Rk and Rq particles exist within a closed
universe, we can point to experimental evidence suggesting that there are
local differences in the power density of these particles (Shakespeare2),
(Fraser3). Further, there are local conditions which suggest that in most
cases, an Rq particle does not transfer royalty. When it does, it is usually
in the specific case where an Rk particle has previously transferred with a
phase change to the Rq in question. It is also possible that other subtle
quantum effects occur in the cases where the direct line of succession is in
doubt. This suggests that there is little if any advantage in using matched
pairs of Rk and Rq transmitters.
A second problem related to this is that of connectivity. A normal
present-day network, at least in a local segment, is a multi-drop
arrangement. Each transmitter talks to a common line, and all receivers can
listen to all transmitters on the segment. Because the R transmitter can
only be received by a single receptor, the network structure needs to be
adjusted accordingly. The simplest structure is probably where two R-links
are used as a bridge to link two distant but otherwise normal network
This however is a simplistic solution and is limited as to the amount of
data it can traffic. It would probably be best used in parallel with a
normal (speed of light or less) network bridge for traffic of lesser urgency
but greater volume. We can of course envisage other network topologies: a
token passing ring is an option whereby a message circulates around a group
of nodes, each node either responding to a message addressed to it or
passing the message to the next node in the chain.
A refinement of this is the bi-directional ring, where messages pass around
the chain in both directions. This will require two R receivers and two R
transmitters in each node - twice as many as the single chain node - but
improves the redundancy of the network as losing a link now permits the
looping back of the data so that there is always a transmission path.
By doubling the number of transmitters and receivers again, we can improve
network traffic capability by changing the structure to a star network. Now
we have two way traffic to a common hub, which permits switching as required
between legs of the star. It is serendipitious that the star network appears
to be the most efficient method for communication in a far-spread galactic
How much royalty do we need?
There is one problem associated with this scenario - it requires an
increasing amount of royalty. Princes and princesses are required of course
- but these are of no use without an associated king or queen - and only one
of the many princes or princesses in a family group will be a suitable
candidate to be a receiver. Unfortunately, even in Europe, there are very
few royal families available (Burke4) and under present political
conditions it is unlikely that there will be more. We propose that this
situation should be rectified as soon as possible and suggest a method by
which it could be achieved.
Bearing in mind that a monarch must have a country of which to be a monarch,
we observe that there appears to be a shortage of such countries.
Additionally, a monarch requires at least a minimum number of subjects
nominally under his or her royal authority. However, the current political
situation in Eastern Europe hints that a 'virtual country' could be
abstracted. This need in no way affect the existing political structure of
the areas in question - it would simply be an administrative device for the
purpose of breeding royalty. It will probably be helpful that areas such as
Albania already have such personages as 'ex-king' Zog. His morphogenic field
may well predispose the area to the future recreation of royalty.
We then introduce potential royalty to the area and allow it to acquire
royalty by the traditional methods: murder, kidnapping, invasion and
treachery seem to be the best options (Shakespeare5). Once royalty is
established, the virtual country can be divided in two and the process
repeated. This will give an exponential increase in the amount of royalty
available over a period of a few tens of years, approximately the same time
scale as we can envisage as being required for the establishment of an
interstellar society requiring this kind of communication network.
In conclusion, we offer a method whereby a widely spread interstellar
society can maintain communication links, while at the same time
guaranteeing the continuance of the otherwise threatened concept of royalty.
We confidently expect to be recognised for our work in next year's honours
Now try So Long, And Thanks For Laughing