Welcome back to another entry in Gaming: For Official Use Only. I enjoyed delving into lesser known conspiracies in the last entry, and apparently more than a few readers did as well. With this entry I’ll begin with one of the best known conspiracies in gaming before I go to the real life conspiracy theory. Let’s talk DOOM.
One of the most iconic images in gaming history. Yes, the game is this freaking epic.
Considering this is a site entirely dedicated to gaming, I honestly don’t feel I have to describe DOOM in any real detail. That being said, there may be some kids reading this who haven’t been exposed to the violent amazingness that is DOOM, so I’ll do a quick recount. The basic story of DOOM is that the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) is conducting work on a base on the Martian moon Phobos. Your character is a Space Marine assigned to security there – this is likely the genesis of the trope, “A Space Marine Is You.”
As it turns out, the UAC is actually conducting secret experiments with teleportation that ultimately open a door straight to Hell. The demons in Hell flood the base, killing everyone and leaving your marine as the only survivor. The marine, being a marine, decides that the entirety of Hell needs to get a serious case of lead poisoning so with just a pistol, he goes out to kick the living hell out of…Hell. This leads to the grandfather of all FPS games where the Space Marine unloads with all kinds of weaponry while literally going through Hell and back to avenge his compatriots. Yes, it’s that freaking awesome.
Unfortunately, in real life double barrels don’t fire both barrels at once.
The focus of this article is conspiracies, so let’s look at what UAC was doing behind closed doors on Phobos. The basic idea was originally to design a form of teleportation which would allow fast and easy transport of people or materials. If you’ve seen Star Trek you likely know how the process works, and what’s interesting is that in real life, the only things we’ve teleported are photons, which are particles of light (yes, it is real). Before anyone goes on about how that’s not impressive remember that it’s in early stages. Computers have gone from room-sized monsters to fitting in your pocket with far more power than what we used to land on the freaking Moon. What goes wrong for UAC is that instead of a device like Star Trek’s teleporter or what we currently have, they used portals that bridge two places in spacetime.
Get ready, kids. Actual science content incoming. Spacetime is exactly what it sounds like. Albert Einstein’s brilliant general relativity shows that time and space are two sides of the same coin so anything that warps space also warps time. The normal warping we are accustomed to is gravity, which is caused by any size mass. Yes, even that paper clip on the table has gravity even though it is far outdone by anything else, including you.
Don’t worry, I learned science from the very best.
A wormhole is a mathematical construct that links two distant points in space via a hole literally through spacetime. The name “wormhole” comes from the idea of a worm eating through an apple. If the worm traveled on the outside of the apple, it would take far longer than just burrowing through the thing to the other side. Now according to Einstein, nothing but light can accelerate above or even exactly to the speed of light (186,000 miles per second if you forgot the last FOUO). However, with a wormhole you can traverse vast distances at relatively low speeds.
With a suitable wormhole set up, you could literally walk through the wormhole yet instantly travel light-years which is the distance light covers in a year. Do the math, I’ll wait … alright, you’re lazy. I consulted with Gaming Rebellion’s resident mathematician Rizzard Core and he told me that it’s nearly 6 trillion miles per light year. This is essentially a million million miles, or really freaking far.. Okay, now a wormhole may or may not look like what media has taught us portals would look like, but it could in theory connect not only different points in spacetime, but different points in the multiverse. The multiverse is exactly what it sounds like: the collection of various universes. Beyond that, as a wormhole is a hole in spaceTIME you could conceivably use wormholes to travel through time. I won’t go into this right now – go to Wikipedia for a damned good primer.
Imagine the two light blue sections are our solar system and Alpha Centauri. Travel would be very quick; this is why wormholes are interesting.
If the wormhole creation wasn’t exact, then you could possibly open up a wormhole to a place you don’t want to go: Hell, The Underworld, France, any number of horrifying places no man should go that might be inhabited by inhuman things. Lovecraft fans are nodding their heads knowingly about that idea.
My research on wormholes indicates that one would not have complete control over where the other part of the wormhole opens at, although I can’t imagine that if you have the technology to create a wormhole, you can’t control creating a second, so UAC screwing the pooch and letting Hell loose could work with a wormhole experiment. It’s not unusual for a fictional conspiracy’s mad science experiment to go to Hell, but it is quite unusual for that to be literal.
Nothing, even in theory, can prevent things from coming or going through a wormhole, short of closing the entire thing. If someone were to inadvertently open a gateway to Hell, then anything could come through until the gate was shut. This is also the plot to a few thousand B horror flicks for example The Gate.
Sweet dreams, kids.
What become interesting to me is that by keeping their work secret, the UAC leave a handful of Space Marines stationed at Phobos. By putting what they were doing out into the open, and possibly getting government permission to screw with the fabric of spacetime, they could have been open to getting more help than one seriously pissed off Marine with a kickass double barrel shotgun. Instead, they get either eaten or turned into the lowest level mooks you kill without thinking throughout the game.
A question I have is whether this wormhole experiment represents mankind’s only form of faster than light (FTL) travel; it isn’t really mentioned in the game. Phobos isn’t far enough away from Earth to justify FTL, but it wouldn’t hurt. FTL travel would actually make sense for UAC, as it would make shipping cargo and personnel much cheaper than a wormhole. Beyond that, any company that introduced any form of easy FTL travel would make the kind of money that people like Bill Gates can only dream about. I would hope there were easier ways than tunneling straight into Hell.
In real life, we don’t have wormholes at all, as they would require negative matter which has only recently been mathematically proven, so we haven’t been to Mars via shiny portals.
Or have we?
One of the most bizarre conspiracy theories to pop up recently involves a secret experiment NASA conducted in the 1980s. Supposedly, NASA came up with a device they called a “jump room” based upon designs by Nikola Tesla that allowed users to walk in and instantly find themselves on Mars (because as we all know, Tesla invented FTL). This would be actual FTL travel, and would revolutionize any kind of current space exploration, so it’d be a big deal if true. For those sci fi fans that are waiting for the reference, yes this is a CIA Stargate. Not Project: Stargate; that’s a totally different experiment and another post entirely.
Yeah, pretty much this, with less MacGuyver.
NASA recruited physicists, military minds, and some college students to perform the experiment under CIA auspices. According to the reports, the CIA was actually using this jump room to help build a US base on Martian soil. The team received a three week training course designed to help them survive the dangerous environment, which killed the majority of explorers. Supposedly less than 7,000 out of 97,000 sent in had made it five years. Yes, apparently the U.S. had a Martian base starting in the 70s.
Besides the obvious problem of Mars’s CO2 atmosphere, apparently volunteers for the project had to contend with various Martian lifeforms. This conspiracy claims that there were dangerous predatory species roaming the Martian wastes along with humanoid Martians, despite the fact that we have no evidence of any life on Mars above the microscopic level.
The very idea of having a human presence on the planet was to prove we had rights to parts of Mars, and to “be seen and not eaten.” Accordingly to one “eyewitness” on Coast to Coast AM*, the base may currently hold over 500,000 inhabitants. Originally the base was meant to serve as a continuance-of-government base in case of war, but as the years went on, the planners expected it to be the vanguard for expanded human settlement of Martian soil. Thus, the intent was for the Martian lifeforms to get accustomed to the presence of humans. Barring that, they wanted the lifeforms to know that attacking humans got them turned into trophies. Obviously there has been no large scale settlement or increased human exploration, so apparently the project was taken down for some reason that the witnesses never mention.
Because Ray Bradbury is freaking awesome.
Part of this conspiracy theory makes perfect sense. If wormhole tech was possessed by the US only, then the Soviets could never destroy the entire government. Even a nuclear holocaust wouldn’t destroy all of America’s infrastructure, and we could turn right around and whip some commie ass. Ignoring defensive strategies entirely, with a FTL wormhole, we could access the many asteroids in the titular Asteroid Belt to mine precious metals that may be in shorter supply on Earth, such as platinum or even gold. The Belt sits right between Mars and Jupiter, so it wouldn’t be too far out of the range of plausibility if we already could make the jump from Earth to Mars. This gives the US government a few extra reasons to have invested in what would have sounded far-fetched when pitched to them for that lovely old black projects budget.
The one thing about this theory, and what actually brought it into public awareness, was the name of one of the college students. He was a law student named Barry Soetero. Later in life he would go by his father’s last name and eventually get a pretty good job.
This guy might look familiar.
We tend to call him President Barack Obama today. At least, I do when I’m not talking politics; when I talk politics I tend tocall him very bad things. I vote Libertarian; sue me. Anyway, beyond the other BS conspiracy theories involving Obama’s birth certificate, this one became widespread enough that the White House saw fit to answer it. They responded that Obama had never been to Mars unless “you count Marvin the Martian.” The White House actually had to state that President Obama has never visited another planet. This amuses me so very much.
It was way too easy to mix these two theories together for a single article. I mean, wormholes that open onto Mars (or one of its moons) where a military base is often attacked by predatory creatures? This article nearly wrote itself.
Obama really looks like Bruno Mars. Appropriate.
I don’t believe for a second that the US had working wormhole technology for over thirty years, as we still have never produced negative matter in any quantity in a lab. To be fair, the first equations to map out how wormholes work were developed by Karl Schwarzchild shortly before he was killed in World War I. This doesn’t mean anyone has the constructs to make the very large leap from mathematical curiosity to real world technology. Jules Verne correctly predicted many modern technologies in the 19th century, but never lived to see any of them.
It’s certainly an interesting tale, but one that I have no doubts to be false. I will point out that NASA is working on FTL travel in public view thanks to Dr. Harold White’s work on making the Alcubierre Drive a reality. If we can work on an actual starship drive in public, why would we have hidden the technology to make wormholes? No matter what the truth may be, i.e., Obama’s never set foot on Mars, we still have a great story to discuss. Once again, I thank you for joining me for Gaming For Official Use Only. Until next time.
The most interesting show you’ll hear from 2 – 5 AM. Unless you’re really drunk and watching Spongebob.
*If you’re not familiar with it, Coast To Coast AM is a legendary paranormal/conspiracy theory/mystery radio show originally started by Art Bell that has never censored its call ins. It’s actually frequented by actual scientists such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku besides conspiratards like Alex Jones. It does all of those and is ridiculously entertaining. If you’re a skeptic like me, think of it like an open mic night for the Tinfoil Hat Crew. Some of them have better stories than most things you find in Barnes and Noble.