Faster than light communication

1 Conversation

On the Application of Networking Techniques to an Instantaneous
Communication System

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.

Modulation techniques

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.

Other Considerations

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.

Network Topology

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 clusters.

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 society.

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 list.


22.01.01. Front Page

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1The Discworld Series, Terry Pratchett, 19842Henry VIII, William Shakespeare, 16133Six Wives of Henry the Eighth, Antonia Fraser, 19994Burke's Peerage, 19985Henry IV pt I+II et al, William Shakespeare, 1609 and later

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