The Physics Behind “Call of Cthulhu” Explained

You’ll be pleased to know that there’s a completely rational explanation for what sailor Gustaf Johansen saw that night on an island in the Pacific. Mathematician Benjamin K. Tippett explains that rather than Cthulhu, the whole event was simply the result of a bubble of spacetime curvature. Read what he had to say after the break.

In 1928, the late Francis Wayland Thurston published a scandalous manuscript in purport of warning the world of a global conspiracy of occultists. Among the documents he gathered to support his thesis was the personal account of a sailor by the name of Gustaf Johansen, describing an encounter with an extraordinary island. Johansen’s descriptions of his adventures upon the island are fantastic, and are often considered the most enigmatic (and therefore the highlight) of Thurston’s collection of documents.

We contend that all of the credible phenomena which Johansen described may be explained as being the observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature. Many of his most incomprehensible statements (involving the geometry of the architecture, and variability of the location of the horizon) can therefore be said to have a uni?ed underlying cause.

We propose a simplified example of such a geometry, and show using numerical computation that Johansen’s descriptions were, for the most part, not simply the ravings of a lunatic. Rather, they are the nontechnical observations of an intelligent man who did not understand how to describe what he was seeing. Conversely, it seems to us improbable that Johansen should have unwittingly given such a precise description of the consequences of spacetime curvature, if the details of this story were merely the dregs of some half remembered fever dream.

We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.

It sounds rather complicated, which is why Tippett has written a scientific paper titled “Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific” to explain his theory. Sure, Call of Cthulhu may be fiction, but Tippett’s paper may have you wondering if maybe, just maybe, there’s something to it all.

(Metafilter via io9)

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