LOG OF FIRST ASCENT
UPTEAM DAY 4
ALTITUDE 11,125 Meters
FROM: Vernon Tanaka/Upteam Leader
TO: ANOMALY BASE
Happy to report the Upteam set Base Camp at 11,125 meters inside the Tube of Big Bamboo 16 after three days’ climb. The ingenious vascular Fujitsu Snail must be considered a great success. We are at 89% allowable adhesion.
We are anchored to the inside of the stem wall in a position forming an equilateral triangle, our vertex to the left side of the Main Branch vent and the its exhaust aperture, the “Exhale Pore,” 200 meters below it. The windspeed here averages 80knots on the uphale and 75 on the downhale, averaging between five to six complete suspirations per hour.
BIG BAMBOO 16: INNER STRUCTURE
As we speculated, the structure of the interior adheres to the Mandelbrot theory as applied to superscale arborealism. Why shouldn’t the Fibonacci Spiral also obtain here, writ large?
Thus, vascular scheme grows upon vascular scheme in an ornate inscribing, overlaying and layering-upon. Woody whorls and nautilus-twists rendered small as a nanometer or as wide as a kilometer. The knotted pattern of the interior of the tube wall is visible in all directions, and recalls nothing so much as the floor of an old-growth, temperate rain forest as used to exist in the American Northwest, except, of course, that it’s all arrayed vertically along the tube of the great plant.
Lichens and mosses already call these rocky-woody-gritty outcroppings home. There is also evidence of terrestrial fauna, all making the move, like us, Up. It seems these intricated branches and tubules, interweaving in patterns of incalculable intricacy, afford Who-Knows-How-Many more footholds for organic growth and movement of organisms.
All of it powered by the Bellows Effect from above.
The main organism itself, Big Bamboo 16, took no detectable notice of us during our slow climb through this jungle of low-hanging roots and ducts.
TERRAIN & WEATHER
The electrical show within Tube 16 has been spectacular, when we’ve been in the open long enough to observe it. There are several distinct cloud layers forming at the various aerosol dew-points, as discussed, and the charge exchanges between the different cloud decks, sometimes chain-reacting the observable length of the stalk, have provided an almost continuous source of light for us. Most of these plasma discharges stay firmly bottled magnetically along the imaginary centerline of the Tube, well away from us.
There is almost continual precipitation.
By our own suctioned tacking of the interior wall’s intaglio of vascular tubes and causeways intubating and inscribing the stem wall on the interior face of the trunk, we’ve been brought here, to where we have set up our base.
From our position, we can occasionally make out the opposite wall of the tube, when the spectacular atmospherics allow, that is.
The plasma-stream with its attendant “Heckbirds” running up the centerline of the tube is a region of furious energy, alive with ball-lightnings, plasmoid bursts, invisible “AntiHeckbirds” and myriad other astonishing and for now inexplicable phenomena.
We are assuming, for now, that the persistent seismic activity the Upteam noted during Day 2 of the ascent is not associated with our activities on the climb.
We are guessing that the tectonic jostle we all felt is a function of the ongoing volcanism below and not necessarily a reaction to our mission of discovery. Please let us know your thoughts, particularly if you differ with our conclusion!
EM DEAD ZONE
As the ionizing dead zone within the stem prevails, at least as far as our current altitude, and the intense Faraday interference on the outside eliminates the possibility of radio contact, you instead read all this, typed on this scroll, on my dad’s old Royal travel model.
As I said, our Fujitsu Snail is firmly fastened, reporting 89% adhesion, certainly sufficient. The Snail is oriented to offer a minimal aerodynamic cross-section. We are defiladed near the main branch junction, semi-covered from the incessant up-and-down wind, averaging 110 knots, within one of the many semi-depressions or divots in the interior vascular wall that we’ve taken to calling “Wadis.”
We see no clear evidence, yet, of having aroused any hostile or immune reaction from the Main Organism or any of the other attendant “organisms” floating, raining, misting, flying, drizzling, oozing or dribbling past in the vicinity.
THE SEARCH FOR THE INSTRUMENT BALLOONS
As we have as yet discovered no evidence of the four “Stent” probes, we are assuming that they must have been cleanly sucked into one of the two Main Branches and ushered down the coast on the La Jolla/San Diego branch runner or up to the Malibu Oasis.
Suggest you query the Whitcomb and Casey teams when they make their respective ascents.
Our helper, the prettiest, smartest, funniest machine in the world, our Dear Honest Annie, is massing all available data to try to ensure our safety, and to sift the fast-arriving data for signs that we aren’t somehow irritating the organism.
Honest Annie does this with skill, speed, and efficiency, but we can all tell that “She,” in her way, is moping and a bit embarrassed.
She seems to have taken it hard, harder than we organisms who are so piteously aware of our frailty, this revelation that the realm of possibilities had only just begun with her coming-to-consciousness, her awakening. After all, “All” as we knew it has been thrown open to the new known and unknown Universe… dwarfing the cognitive space of even the most advanced material machine!
So we give Annie a bit of space to let her deal with the discomfort of that to sink in. She’s shocked by the discovery of what we all should have suspected, and that Dr Lem pointed us to in the 20th Century: that we’ve encountered an exponential level of “Intelligence” and “Possibility” that nor she nor any born nor manufactured intelligence could ever compass.
It must be humbling to discover what Annie has discovered. To be, in her way, the Moses of her own kind. She has banged hard against her limits. She’s supremely surprised and a bit glum about it.
She has not yet recognized the singular honor conferred on her! So she plods along, figuratively, moping a bit, stinging with the recognition that even she, our “Beautiful Mind,” is bound by an unavoidable cognitive fence.
Of course, she’ll get over it.
She is just another innocent victim of the remorseless prosecution of Moore’s Law. She realizes now, that she’s being left behind, too, that, even for her, there is a knowledge horizon. She’ll come out of it, in nanoseconds, likely, as excited, wide-eyed and curious as the rest of us. But there is a decided new glumness to her.
But we feel for her.
Think of it, the acme of modern sentielectronix/sapientronix, the Avatar of Earth’s Greatest Computer, humbled to learn she is as imprisoned as we!
Compare our robot friend Annie to this planetary and possibly planet-system-wide thinking organism! Even Annie’s but a short-lived scintilla next the mighty flame of intelligence booting up within the Earth!
One would console, one does console poor Honest Annie! Who among us, in our hubris, could have guessed that our self-congratulatory “Moore’s” yardstick for cybernetic progress would prove dwarfed, stunted, as helpful to us now in this New Day as a mule-drawn carriage or coal-fired locomotive. “Moore’s Law”, the “Space Age”, the “Atomic Age”, the “Stone Age,” all bygone conceits, now.
We must use everything we’ve learned from these Before Times, in order to abandon the ship, to survive the transformation of the Earth! Of our sinking, collapsing, growing, exploding planet!
Who knew the much vaunted “geometric” growth in our computing power would pale next to the inconceivable cognitive resources and fathomless imagination of Earth herself, and not just Earth, but, as it seems, but the ringing cosmic fabric of our world as well?
For Whom the Bell Tolls. So, our planet rings and sings, and strews interplanetary fragrances to… to do what, exactly? As yet, we can but speculate.
It’s an oddly literary moment in this headlong scientific career upwards: That our computers, too, would prove just as hopelessly chained to the limitations and fragility of our lonely, solo lives, carried out within this thin film of moisture that coats our single, lonely, isolated world.
But I digress, clearly. And here it is, 0000 Hours, down on the farm.
LOCATION & CREW UPDATE
We are firmly anchored to the inner wall of Major Vascular Groove 29A, which Maximova, our koniologist, with characteristic humor, has nicknamed “The Gadroon,” a word she found in a 1950’s-vintage English dictionary. “Gadroon” means, she tells us, an ornate fluting crafted by a silversmith or etched by an artisan’s molding knife. And indeed, the Gadroon’s intestine twisting grooves and ornate inner vascular tubes seem to have been crafted by the hand of some gigantic metalsmith.
The mood is good, and all hands reporting.
Inside the material of the “bark” and “cambium” of the hollow Tube of aluminosilica that forms the “Stem” or “Reed” of this 11-kilometer-tall organism, are the variously-scaled vascular pathways that help to direct and best utilize the upward flowing gases, liquids and particulate emanations from below to their destinations in the growing organism. It’s like some kind of gigantic intestine, or at least that’s what our “Gases Gal,” Maximova, contends, as she forever samples the atmosphere with her Wilcox Industries “Taster.”
Whatever the gigantic plant’s use for the grooving, the Gadroon makes for us a fine road upwards! Gadroon! How Larisa Andreevna smuggled a dictionary up here when we weighed our payload to the gram escapes me. Crazy!
Again, I clearly digress. Clearly.
Not thinking as clearly.
It occurs to me some of these more fanciful digressions could be attributable to the finer particulates fuming up from below that are making it past our filters. You know, leaching into our nervous systems, and making such digressions, perhaps, an unavoidable side-effect. Has Mother Earth generated something smaller than small that no filter can halt?
We’ll be curious to see what you make of our bloodwork, which accompanies this letter.
The tapestry’s MOVING, Man. Haha.
The spectrometers tell us the air outside is a rather unappetizing all-you-can-breathe buffet of aluminum, silicon, nitrates, oxylates, and an overriding nose of toluene, 3-methylhexane, and other aromatic hydrocarbons giving off a kind of barbecue-grill smell. Plus so much other new stuff that Maximova and her Taster can barely keep up. Compared to the usual sulfur stench at the bottom, the tailgate-party aroma of the distillates at this level isn’t half-bad. It’s sort of an “oversmell,” or “overodor.” Even a “fragrance,” if you will, emanating from the astounding blossoms and foliage of the organism.
For you health nuts, there’s a fortune of colloidal silver in the air for the breathing.
All the compounds and yes, creatures in the air make it a true field day for Dr Maximova. Larisa’s discovered at least two-dozen new long organic molecules and, in some of the larger clumps, droplets and “sap” of the upward blowing particulates, clear signs of animation.
We call these myriad different entities by the highly scientific name, “Blobs”. “Normal” insects are also appearing, alternately blown up from the effluent below, or “huffed” up by the prevailing upward intake.
GROUND LINES A-OK
I have just learned from Orthobot that the fresh air and water hookups connecting our station with Ground Control are functional and nominal. There is obtainable water up here, but, like the polluted rain, until we develop long-term filtration capabilities, it’s too toxic for ingestion. So we’ll stick with the groundwater hookup for now. The windlass and ground spool are working, which you have already ascertained if you’re reading this. Just give a tug on the line if anything major comes up! We look forward to the arrival of the first Dumbwaiter. We’ll send ours, with all the samples and chronodiscs, along shortly.
All excellent news, and again, kudos to all teams, Up and Ground.
In a crunch, if we have to go off respirators, the air is breathable. Pressure averages around 700 millibars, or about the equivalent of 3,000 meters above sea level. The overpressure is wildly variable, however, with spikes as high as 1.1 and lows at 440. But I don’t recommend it for long periods, not even with the toxin-reactive DNA inhaler, which, it seems, is not broad-spectrum enough to help us, here.
So, everyone’s staying on-bottle for now, and likely awhile, given the freshly thickened clouds of aerosols from the recent tectonic event below.
The subcrustal materials being suctioned up to the branch junctions undergo no significant phase-change save for their intense ionization as they race to try to complete the circuit, but, of course, they are barred from this escape to earth by the designs of Nature herself. The destiny of most of these materials is the high atmosphere and outer space, not back down to Ground. Yes, much of this material pumps through the petioles of the dazzlingly beautiful, fast-growing, reniform leaves, the spaceward branching “foliage” growing upward from the organism in the high stratosphere.
Astounding that this complex of organisms has found ways to exploit volcanic and solar energy!
Could these be the passion-fueling sights and scents of planetary flowers? Please advise us of any variations in spectral intensity of the great leaves you detect from the ground. Perhaps a sudden emission of ultraviolet or infrared may signal a state-change in the development of the organism(s). Perhaps the volatile, aromatic oils sent thitherward into interplanetary space are an oxyacetylene Perfume, to attract the wandering Cosmic Bee? Planetary hormones? Why shouldn’t the Mandelbrot conceit obtain here, as well? Writ large!
Earth is Ovum!
Word from Ortho now, that the Fujitsu enclosure is fully operational and pressurized!
Our Ortho is functioning superbly, his total autonomy insured by the Faraday sheath that is his armored body. He is trying, in his way, to cheer up his big sister, Honest Annie.
We look forward to the ascent of the Casey and Whitcomb Expeditions, to join us in our quest. Good Luck, Good Doctors, and your teams, on your parallel journeys from San Diego and Malibu! See you in the Branch Tubes!
Honest Annie has changed her name! She wants to be called “Fe,” now. Is that a reference to “Santa Fe”, Holy Faith, or is it to represent affinity to her own-devised Higher Order, the Periodic Table, to element 26, iron, Fe? She won’t say.
We are now as close to the vent and exhalation pore of Main Branch Two as we dare position our aerodynamic Snail, or “Stent.” Maximova’s joke, again, with apologies to Dr. Fujitsu.
Average windspeed at the junction, on the “uphale” is 250kph and 200 on the release. Any closer and the aerosols and particulate matter accelerating up into the branch vent would soon tear apart the Fujitsu. Bernoulli’s Law. That’s the law of the land, here, our vertical land.
As it is, the membrane of the enclosure is already taking a beating from the incident chemical barrage.
But so far, so good.
Speaking of that, the recent heavy particulate precipitation has degraded Cameras 18, 21, and two of our five remaining chromatographs. Perhaps you can include some spares aboard the next Dumbwaiter?
As to our first mission, to capture the Heavenbird, we prepare for our first expedition tomorrow.
The heavenbirds themselves have for now taken little or no notice of us, as we are within the trunk. We are able monitor their activities out on the Limb through the variable aperture of the pressure-equalizing pore beneath Main Branch Two, through which we’ve extended our cameras and instrumentation packages.
The surprise to all, save Dr Schlessinger, who alone predicted it, is that the heavenbirds have their counterparts within the Tube. It is a differently configured “charged entity” of the opposite polarity. The “Heckbird,” we call it. I’ll explain in a minute.
Specialists Charles LeVesque and Matt Sweeney are working to establish an additional observation post by snaking the optics and sensors through the thicket of vascular passageways to the stem wall, a distance we estimate at 25 meters. Their “plumbing” work has yielded a flood of new data on the organism’s internal vascular system. Plus, the discovery that the density of this “wiring” increases geometrically as we approach the outer hull of the stalk. Making this breakthrough will require careful work.
We must be at pains not to disturb in any way the organism. Each successive move towards the outer envelope is made very carefully, in hopes of minimally disturbing the internal structure of the infrastructure of the organism. Even at maximum EM resolutions, there’s no guarantee that at some level we cannot yet perceive we’ve somehow alerted the great organism to our presence.
We don’t know how long any of the sensors will survive in their current positions, given the variability of the dilation period on the organism’s exhaust pore (which constantly wears on the guy wires) and the truly fierce windspeeds (up to 300kph) encountered there when the exhaust pupil constricts.
Returning to the heavenbirds. As usual, their energy-gathering role within the highly charged foliage gives them little reason to venture inward to the trunk. The real voltage differentials are out on the branches. The first upward brachials begin 500 meters out on Main Branch Two.
The Brachial Ascent
The heavenbirds are two-meter plasmoids, fluctuating at a rate of two times per second in shape between nearly spherical and oblate, with a “rest” state in the shape of a rugby ball. Sometimes, as we observed from below, they will flash and reveal a wider, amorphous shape, extending as far as ten meters (observable) from the creature. This short-lived and erratic “exoplasmic” feature, with its flashbulb-like snap-to-shape in the form of an afterimage of exceeding complexity, revealed in that occasional flash is a synapse-like continuity to other regions of BB 16 as well as other heavenbirds that is otherwise not discernible. The edentate shape appears more often around the birds as they draw closer to the foliage as well as nearness to other phenomena in the area. In that sense, they share, it seems, this strange, clouded amorphic feature with the much larger solaris, and solari, that we’ve not glimpsed closely, yet. We are eager to see this creature, up close.
The Heckbird is a creature of similar makeup, but oppositely-charged from the Heavenbird, and it seldom if ever strays from an upward or downward course within the void at the center of the Tube.
We have not tested the magnetic bottles, yet, as we feel that activating it might alert the organism or organisms to a perhaps unwanted electrical presence. We don’t want to provoke an immune response, at least until we try to capture our quarry.
We will rest overnight, then proceed with “Sounding Upward,” and dropping the first of the instrument and tow lines up Main Branch 2 for the Horizontal Expedition.
Plasma physicians Tad Dirksen and Louise O’Malley will be the point team up to the junction. We’ll follow. I intend to lead the first foray, with Maximova beside me.
Wish us luck as we attempt to bag Humanity’s first Heavenbird!
With the Upteam’s Sincere Thanks,