Category Archives: Science

Lovecraftian Ecosystems – Introduction

Picture1

Hey everyone – it has been a while since I posted anything.  In fact, the last time I posted was during the NecronomiCon back in August 2019. This year has been crazy with all of the Harmful Algal Blooms I have had to deal with over the summer and fall as part of my job as a Limnologist / Environmental Consultant. While the blooms are slooooowly dissipating, I have a little free time to start posting again on Lovecraftian Science. I will try to make these posts fairly routine (maybe twice a month) and to do that they may be brief. Also, working on finishing up Volume 3 of the Journal of Lovecraftian Science now that the summer is over. Again, I apologize to everyone who has contributed to the Kickstarter for the additional delays.  Please be patient; I am hoping to ship them out before the end of this year.

I was fortunate enough to give two presentation at the NecronomiCon in August 2019. The first talk was on Lovecraftian Ecosystems so the next series of posts will be on this subject. This first post is a discussion on history of the term of ecosystem.

2019Poster-Hyades1_rect

The formal definition of an ecosystem is “…a community of organisms and their physical environment interacting as an ecological unit” (Lincoln, et. al. 1988).  The word “ecosystem” was first defined by British Ecologist Arthur Tansley in 1935 and was first used to describe the transfer of material between organisms and their environment.  Again, in 1935 Tansley defined the ecosystem as:

…the whole system (in the sense of physics) including not only the organism-complex, but also the whole complex of physical factors forming what we call the environment of the biome – the habitat factors in the widest sense (from McIntosh, 1985).

Picture2                             Examples of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems

However, it was G. Evelyn Hutchinson who re-defined the concept of ecosystem to be more quantitative in nature.  In fact, it was Hutchinson and his post-doctoral associate Raymond Lindeman who moved ecology from a descriptive “soft science” of the 18th / 19th to more of a quantitative “hard science” of the 20th century. Instead of merely identifying species and describing their life cycles and interactions, math and statistics could be used with models to construct experiments to predict how organisms interact and react in their environment and among themselves.  Hutchinson and Lindeman were limnologists (the sub-discipline of ecology I study / practice) and so many of these ideas were first initiated in focusing on the biogeochemistry and the transfer of energy among trophic levels in lake ecosystems. In a sense, it was logical for ecosystem science to begin with lakes since they appear to be very clearly defined and bounded ecosystems (as will be discussed later this distinct boundary is not the case).

Picture4                                                                         Photograph of a young G. Evelyn Hutchinson

Prior to Lovecraft’s time, the “hard sciences” were thought of as astronomy, physics and chemistry, while biology and ecology were “softer “sciences that focused primarily on descriptions.  This hierarchical view of the sciences was developed and promoted by the French philosopher and writer Isidore Marie Auguste Francois Xavier Comte (1798 – 1857). Comte stated that astronomy was the most general of the sciences, followed by (in hierarchical order) physics, chemistry, biology and sociology. I’m sure Lovecraft would have agreed with this hierarchy of the sciences, with astronomy being the hardest or “most pure.”

isidore-marie-auguste-comte-1-728

A hard science is typically described as one where controlled experiments can be constructed and performed to test hypotheses, with the use of math and statistics. In turn, the results of the experiments can be used to make testable predictions about the natural world. Over the last two hundred years we have seen the softer sciences utilize a more quantitative, scientific approach and this is particularly the case for biology, including the sub-discipline of ecology.

Ironically, it was the quantitative aspects of astronomy and chemistry that kept him from pursuing a career in either field. As Joshi has cited in, I Am Providence: The Life and Times of H.P. Lovecraft (Joshi, 2013), Lovecraft stated:

In studies I was not bad – except for mathematics, which repelled and exhausted me. I passed in these subjects – but just about that. Or rather, it was algebra which formed the bugbear. Geometry was not so bad. But the whole thing disappointed me bitterly, for I was then intending to pursue astronomy as a career, and of course advanced astronomy is simply a mass of mathematics. That was the first major set-back I ever received – the first time I was ever brought up short against a consciousness of my own limitations. It was clear to me that I hadn’t brains enough to be an astronomer – and that was a pill I couldn’t swallow with equanimity.

This is from a letter Lovecraft wrote to Robert E. Howard, dated 25-29 March 1933.

51uoSWjQq3L__AC_UL320_SR214,320_

While the term “ecosystem” was first coined and used in the scientific literature in the early 20th century, it was not widely used in popular culture at the time. Thus, it is not surprising that I could not find the word in any of Lovecraft’s stories or other writings. However, while he did not use the word, many of his stories include several of the ideas and concepts associated with ecosystems and that is what we will review over the next set of blogs. Next time we will talk about the ecosystem-based alterations associated with his tale “The Colour Out of Space.” Thank you – Fred.

NecronomiCon – 2019

Elder Things

Hello everyone!  I know it has been a while since an article has been posted (in fact I believe the last post was in January); work has been insane over the last year, particularly over the summer thanks to Harmful Algal Blooms.  However, I wanted to give an update on a few things.  First, the NecronomiCon 2019 begins in only a few days!  Just wanted give you my schedule – looking forward to seeing and meeting everyone!

On Saturday, 9 – 10:15 am, I am on a panel called “WE ARE NOT ONE THING: COLONIES, HIVES, COLLECTIVES AND COMPOSITES.” I will specifically be providing input on clonal organisms and the evolutionary advantage of such colonies.

I am also the Session Chair for the Armitage Symposium: Lovecraftian Grimoires: East & West, which will be on Saturday, 3:00 – 4:15 pm

I am also giving a presentation as part of the Armitage Symposium: Polar Myths & the Old Ones. My presentation is called “The Lackey / Fifer Hypothesis: The Weakness of the Old Ones.” This session is on Sunday, 10:30 – 11:45 am.

Finally, I will be giving an Academic Talk on Lovecraftian Ecosystems on Sunday, 1:30 – 2:45 pm.

Also want to mention that we will be completing Volume 3 of The Journal of Lovecraftian Science after the NecronomiCon and will be shipping out hard copies in the early fall.  I want to thank all of the supporters of our Kickstarter for Volume 3 and apologize for the delays in getting this tome to you.  By the way, we will also have copies of Volumes 1 and 2 of the Journal on sale at the NecronomiCon if you are interested in purchasing a copy.

Thank you and looking forward to seeing and talking to everyone in Providence, Rhode Island in a few days!

Rhan-Tegoth

 

Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 3 – Funded!

text-1024x576

With a little more than a day to go we hit the threshold where we will be adding a chapter and illustration on “The Curse of Yig,” one of several of Lovecraft’s revision tales in “The Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 3.” In addition to the Journal we are also offering a chapbook on the ecosystem of Lovecraft’s Venus in “In the Walls of Eryx.” Shown below is an early illustration for that tale by Steve Maschuck, who will be providing all illustrations. If you are still interested in the Kickstarter there is about a day left and it can be found at https://www.kickstarter.com/…/journal-of-lovecraftian-scien…. Again, thank you to everyone who has contributed! Fred.

walls or erx

Update on the Kickstarter for the Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 3

Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 3

Hey everyone – we just put a Kickstarter on-line for a 3rd volume of the Journal of Lovecraftian Science.  The theme of this volume will be Lovecraft’s revision tales.  A set of seven revision tales will be included in this issue.  In addition, if a specific threshold goal is reached an additional tale, “The Curse of Yig” co-written with Zealia Bishop, will be added to this volume of the Journal.

throne A draft illustration of the cover of The Journal of Lovecraftian Science, Volume 3 by Steve Maschuck

In addition to the third volume, a chapbook will be produced that discusses the ecosystem of Lovecraft’s Venus in the tale “In the Walls of Eryx” co-written with Kenneth J. Sterling.  The chapbook will describe the endemic flora and fauna of the Lovecraftian Venus and how ecosystems processes operate very differently relative to Earth.

walls or erx

Early illustration of “In the Walls of Eryx” by Steve Maschuck

If you are interested in the 3rd volume and this chapbook, please check out our Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1081353216/journal-of-lovecraftian-science-volume-three?ref=user_menu

Thank you for your time – Fred.

Lovecraft’s Annual Report on Astronomy, 1904

IMG_3107

As we have previously discussed from 1906 to 1918 Lovecraft’s writings focused heavily on astronomy.  He produced a number of articles and documents on astronomical observations, which were frequently published in newspapers such as the Providence Evening News and the Ashville [N.C.] Gazette-News.  Additionally, Lovecraft produced reports on the subject but much of this material has never been published and has been lost.  However, Necronomicon Press just printed 250 copies of a facsimile reproduction of Lovecraft’s The Annual Report on the Science of Astronomy, 1904.  The document includes notes as well as several illustrations by Lovecraft; some of these illustrations are shown below.  If you are interested this subject, I strongly recommend you purchase one since they printed only 250 copies.

IMG_3104

IMG_3106

Stephen Hawking’s Ideas in a Lovecraftian Cosmos

Yuri Milner And Stephen Hawking Announce Breakthrough Starshot, A New Space Exploration Initiative

On the 14th of March 2018 we lost one of the greatest scientists of the late 20th / early 21st century – Stephen Hawking.  He was a theoretical physicist, cosmologist and popularizer of science to general audiences, and in spite of being diagnosed and suffering from a slow-progressing form of the motor neuron disease known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), he led a full and productive life, working on exploring the mysteries of our universe and even beyond.  In this article we discuss how some of Hawking’s work was referenced and discussed in past articles here at Lovecraftian Science. A subsequent article will review some of Hawking’s work and how it can be used to better understand the Lovecraftian Cosmos.

In Lovecraft’s “The Music of Erich Zann” we hypothesized that Zann had somehow made a connection to a parallel Universe with his music. In the book The Grand Design, written by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, the quantum origins of the multiverse, including our Universe, is essentially composed of a Wave Function. This concept is based on Hawking’s idea of applying quantum mechanics to the entire universe or at least at the origins of the universe.  Other physicists such as Richard Feynman identified that a particle in motion does not have a specific or unique endpoint (Hawking and Mlodinow, 2012).  Thus, the endpoint is not “etched in stone.” Rather, there are varying probabilities of what that endpoint will be and while some endpoints will have substantially higher probabilities over others, all possible endpoints need to be considered. Consider applying this concept to the entire universe and beyond.

zann Illustration of “The Music of Erich Zann” by Andrew Brosnatch for Weird Tales.

At the sub-atomic level, this haze of quantum probabilities is reality.  In contrast, at larger universal scales the quantum reality does not have to be taken into account.  However, at the origin of the universe, when it was as small as a billion-trillion-trillionth of a centimeter, quantum forces dominated. Stephen Hawking’s Wave Function hypothesis of the Universe examines the birth of the universe from a quantum perspective so that there are an infinite number of all possible universes; we happen live in a universe that had a high probability of being stable enough to support life.  More than likely most of these universes do not have the specific “mix” of physical properties to support and sustain life; at least life as we define it.

The proposed set or network of theories that support the multiverse concept is called M-theory. Each theory explains certain physical phenomenon within a given range of scale.  When these scales overlap, different theories agree.  However, when the scales do not overlap, different theories describe certain phenomenon (e.g. Newtonian mechanics describing the influence of gravity on a planetary scale vs. quantum mechanics describing sub-atomic interactions).   Thus, given this proposed network of theories, M-theory allows for the existence of different universes with different laws of nature (e.g. the charge of the electron, the actual strength of gravity).

M-Theory_2880x1920-2880x1920 M-Theory is a set of theory that are inter-linked; the strength of these links are based on the scale being observed.

Linking Hawking’s Wave Function hypothesis with M-theory, if the generation of the multiverse was associated with a quantum reality, then these universes are not separated in the sense of space-time but in a “quantum wave function.” In other words, parallel universes are co-spatial; that is, they are separated by quantum properties rather than space-time properties (The Layman’s Guide to Quantum Reality by J.D. Lovil, 2017).  Thus, other universes are not billions of light years away or in the distant past or future. Instead, they exist and are woven into our very existence. The link or connection between or among universes may not be through wormholes or time travel but through weak gravitational interactions among the universes. In turn, gravitational dark matter and/or dark energy may be the key to other universes and the Old Ones.

wavefunction                                                              Illustration of S. Hawking’s Wave Function hypothesis of universe generation.

The music of Erich Zann may have been generating micro-scale gravity waves of a very specific disturbance within space-time to link our universe with another. Or, as Lovecraft’s story suggests, Zann’s music prevented beings from another universe from entering ours. Somehow, sometime in Zann’s life he could have been exposed to a situation where it was revealed to him that others from another universe are attempting to entering ours through gravitational waves. The music he plays may disrupt the wave generation just enough to prevent access. That is an extremely heavy burden on one person; preventing an inter-universal invasion from extra-dimensional beings.

La musica di Erich Zann- AlexScibilia                     The Music of Erich Zann by Alex Scibilia.

Next time we will discuss in a little more detail how others such as the Old Ones may have access to our universe and why they are so different from us. Thank you – Fred.