as told to Robert A. Freitas Jr.
Permanent URL of this document: http://www.nanomedicine.com/Frodo.htm
And now, the rest of the story...
FRODO Baggins looked up from his silent computer console, momentarily distracted by the beautiful azure-white orb of Arda seemingly frozen in space beyond the viewport. The westward drifting dawn terminator had just cleared Ered Luin – the Blue Mountains – near the coast and marched out to sea, leaving the headwaters of the River Lune in full daylight. It was mid-morning in his native Hobbiton, 22,300 miles below. Time for second breakfast. But food was the farthest thing from Frodo’s mind.
The most famous hobbit in world history recalled his last footsteps on solid ground and his first glimpse of Middle-earth from above the sky, 147 years before. The gleaming white sky ship on which he rode, disguised as an ordinary nautical craft, had set forth from the Grey Havens at Mithlond and sailed due west across Belegaer, the Great Sea, chasing the setting sun toward Valinor. Uncle Bilbo, his dear friend Gandalf, Master Elrond, the beautiful elven Lady Galadriel of Lorien, and a score of elder elves stood amidships, grasping a glistening alabaster balustrade as the ship heaved to and fro over low swells, the cutwater noisily chopping waves and the nodding prow throwing pungent salty spray through flapping riggings. How he’d missed Pippin and Meriadoc, and especially Samwise, at that instant!
# # #
“Now the Elves made many rings; but secretly Sauron, ere-servant of Melkor, made One Ring to rule all the others, and their power was bound up with it, to be subject wholly to it and to last only so long as it too should last. And much of the strength and will of Sauron passed into that One Ring; for the power of the Elven-rings was very great, and that which should govern them must be a thing of surpassing potency; and Sauron forged it in the Mountain of Fire in the Land of Shadow. And while he wore the One Ring he could perceive all the things that were done by means of the lesser rings, and he could see and govern the very thoughts of those that wore them. From that time war never ceased between Sauron and the Elves; and Eregion was laid waste....[After resting in the riverbed at Gladden Fields for 2,461 years,] the One Ring was found by Gollum, from whence Bilbo came into possession of it. Frodo the Halfling, it is said, at the bidding of Gandalf took on himself the burden, and alone with his servant he passed through peril and darkness and came at last in Sauron’s despite even to Mount Doom; and there into the Fire where it was wrought he cast the Great Ring of Power, and so at last it was unmade and its evil consumed. Then Sauron failed, and he was utterly vanquished and passed away like a shadow of malice.
“The Third Age was over, and the Days of the Rings were passed. Elrond and Galadriel rode on, and among them rode Frodo and Bilbo; and they rode down at last to Mithlond, to the Grey Havens in the long firth of Lune. There was a white ship lying, and upon the quay stood a figure robed all in white awaiting them, and Frodo saw that it was Gandalf. In that time the last of the Noldor set sail from the Havens and left Middle-earth for ever. In the twilight of autumn it sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mists of the world it passed into the Ancient West. Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air; the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.” [JRRT]1
# # #
ONCE beyond sight of land, with twilight just having fallen, the vessel underwent a peculiar transition. Thin sheets of clear diamond stretched forth their tendrils from hidden recesses along the gunwale. These projections curved overhead above the skysail, flexing then joining seamlessly at the zenith, coalescing into multiple half-ovoid silvered domes of tough adamant, abruptly blocking the grey mist that had pelted Frodo’s face. The rough-hewn splintered wooden hull smoothed itself into a polished unbroken surface. Vast volumes of sailcloth instantly retracted and vanished into secret chambers hidden within the masts. Frodo’s bare furred feet felt suddenly leaden, almost nailed to the swaying deck.
Strangely the ship ceased its gentle heavings and became rock-steady as a kitchen table-top, even amidst the unceasing waves. Frodo gasped as the vessel rose noiselessly, up into the air, lifting straight towards the stars. He glanced around nervously. The elves were chatting quietly as if nothing unexpected was happening. Uncle Bilbo peered curiously over the edge, equally unperturbed as the frothy ocean fell away. Gandalf’s eyes met Frodo’s with a twinkle.
# # #
“There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar [‘sky-father’]2; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And it came to pass that Iluvatar called together all the Ainur and declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the splendour of its end amazed the Ainur. Then Iluvatar said to them: “Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a great music.” In the music there were no flaws. To Melkor among the Ainur had been given the greatest gifts of power and knowledge, and as the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Iluvatar; for he sought therein to increase the power and glory of the part assigned to himself, and straightaway discord arose about him. Iluvatar sat and hearkened until it seemed that about his throne there was a raging storm, as of dark waters that made war one upon another in an endless wrath that would not be assuaged.
“Then Iluvatar arose and smiled; and he lifted up his left hand, and a new theme began amid the storm, like and yet unlike to the former theme, and it gathered power and had new beauty. But the discord of Melkor rose in uproar and contended with it, and again there was a war of sound more violent than before, until many of the Ainur were dismayed and sang no longer, and Melkor had the mastery. Then again Iluvatar arose, and his countenance was stern; and he lifted up his right hand, and behold! a third theme grew amid the confusion; it was unlike the others and could not be quenched, and it seemed there were two musics progressing at one time before the seat of Iluvatar, and they were utterly at variance. In the midst of this strife, Iluvatar arose a third time, and his face was terrible to behold. Then he raised up both his hands, and in one chord, deeper than the Abyss, higher than the Firmament, piercing as the light of the eye of Iluvatar, the Music ceased.
“Then Iluvatar spoke, and he said: “Those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done.” And Iluvatar arose in splendor, and he went forth into the Void, and the Ainur followed him, and he said to them: “Behold your Music!” And they saw a new world made visible before them, and it was globed amid the Void. And as they looked and wondered this World began to unfold its history. And as this vision of the World was played before them, the Ainur saw the coming of the Children of Iluvatar, Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers. Yet there are some things that they cannot see, for to none but himself has Iluvatar revealed all that he has in store, and in every age there come forth things that are new and have no foretelling, for they do not proceed from the past.” [JRRT]3
# # #
VISIBLE only as a luminous gem fixed in the southward skies of Hobbiton, the familiar Star of Valar grew larger and brighter above. Impossibly, the just-setted Sun crept back into view above the curving western horizon. Swift sunrise indeed! Soon Frodo could see the true form of his new home – a great three-dimensional stellate tree of spherical extent, comprising millions upon millions of gleaming diamond towers and emerald facets of regular dimensions, each sparkling with uncounted rays of sunlight refracted through acute-angled prisms and jewel-cut spires without number that unleashed a riot of brilliant flaming colors almost too magnificent to behold. Closer still, each crystalline parapet of this glittering celestial palace revealed a dendritic growth of smaller spikelets and protrusions, and so on with ever smaller congruencies down to the least a hobbit’s eye could see, a pleasing pattern that in a distant Age of Man would have been called a fractal or snowflake geometry. Near journey’s end, Frodo discerned tiny elven forms moving behind oddly-shaped windows in the smallest compartments, giving scale to this vast engineering marvel – now called Barad-Ilmen4 by the Firstborn – orbiting Middle-earth in space. There, elves and Maiar had dwelled with the Ainur since the evacuation of Valinor from the North-American continent prior to the bombardment of Numenor three millennia before.5
But Frodo was a loremaster and historian, not a mechanical engineer. His thoughts turned away from the unchanging but beautiful visage of Arda below, and from the small white whorl in the sky with small star-lights in its folds wherein Iluvatar was said to dwell with others who had renounced corporeal existence, back to the silent console in Gandalf’s grand office complex. There, in a high tower, as the great wizard’s most honored guest, Frodo resumed his perpetual but clandestine search for the earliest records of Middle-earth, seeking its true beginnings.
# # #
Literary scholars and lay readers typically assume that the historical events reported in Tolkien’s tales of Elves and Hobbits derive from a time in our planet’s not-so-very-distant past, as claimed by the Oxfordian author in his private letters: “The evidently long but undefined gap in time between the Fall of Barad-dur and our days I imagine to be about 6000 years. That is, we are now at the end of the Fifth Age, if the Ages were of about the same length as S.A. [Second Age] and T.A. [Third Age]. But they have, I think, quickened; and I imagine we are actually at the end of the Sixth Age, or in the Seventh.”6 If true, this would place the end of the War of the Ring at about 8500 B.C. in our calendar. But there are no corroborating written records nor any supporting archeological or paleontological proof. Where is Saruman’s adamant (diamond) tower of Orthanc? Where are the ruins of the Gates of Mordor and the Dark Tower of Barad-dur? Where are the bejeweled mountain cavern-cities of the dwarves? The overwhelming lack of physical evidence suggests these events cannot have occurred in our past.
There’s also a problem with the maps, as Tolkien hints: “It would be difficult to fit the lands and events (or ‘cultures’) into such evidence as we possess, archaeological or geological, concerning the nearer or remoter part of what is now called Europe, though the Shire, for instance, is expressly stated to have been in this region. [The Shire] is in fact more or less a Warwickshire village of about the period of the Diamond Jubilee. The action of the story takes place in the North-west of ‘Middle-earth’, equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the north shores of the Mediterranean.... If Hobbiton and Rivendell are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence. The Mouths of Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir are at about the latitude of ancient Troy.”6,7 But all efforts to fit Tolkien’s Middle-earth maps8 to the exact geographic9 or geological10 details of the Eurasian land mass have ended in failure. Most obviously, the Mediterranean Sea is entirely missing from Middle-earth. Heroic attempts to match the Middle-earth maps8 with the distant but predictable future or darksome past of Earth’s tectonically shifting landforms (e.g., Pangea11), based on contemporary computer models of continental drift,12 inevitably yield only defeat. No naturally-evolved past or future landform in a present-centered billion-year time window matches Middle-earth as well as the present geological epoch. Middle-earth, if real, thus cannot belong to Earth’s past, or to its present, or to its naturally-evolved future.
And yet Middle-earth could not lie too far removed in time from our own world. Tolkien reports the exact duration of a Middle-earth year to the nearest second, as 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds – “no doubt of the same length, for long ago as those times are now reckoned in years and lives of men, they were not very remote according to the memory of the Earth.”13 A day in Middle-earth is also said by Tolkien to last exactly 24 hours,14 the same as today. Presuming the daylength is being reported with the same ±1 second accuracy as the yearlength figure, then this places a severe constraint upon the dating of Middle-earth: the slowing of the Earth’s rotation due to lunar tidal influences increases our daylength by 1 second for every 63,000 years of geological time.15 So the entire 58,357-year period16 of Tolkien’s historical accounts must either end (if in our past), or begin (if in our future), very near the present-day. We can already rule out the past. Thus we are left with one inescapable conclusion: If the history of Middle-earth reported by Tolkien is a true chronology of actual events, then these events must have occurred sometime in our near future – most specifically, during the next 63,000 years. And events in that future period must have produced a significant and very unnatural restructuring of the Eurasian and North-American continental topography, something on the grand scale of planetary terraforming, that could wither an entire Sea.
# # #
THE evening had unfolded with extraordinary promise, Frodo reflected. He’d taken his sixth meal of the day and enjoyed a leisurely smoke with Gandalf, with pipeweed drawn from a special humidor that magically seemed always full, even when recently emptied. Such marvels were commonplace in Valinor. During their customary casual game of riddles the wizard had mentioned an ancient myth that implied a time before time itself. “There is one old idea,” Gandalf whispered slyly, “probably devised by the evil Melkor, that Iluvatar the One was once nothing more than a Man, who created Arda solely for his own amusement.” Frodo felt a sudden chill of excitement, but said nothing.
During his many decades of residence in the sky-city, Frodo had become intimately familiar with the Valinor computer system which gave him instant access to detailed records of the past doings of the Lords of Middle-earth. It was an historian’s dream come true! Yes, his technical knowledge was relatively shallow. Yet in another Age of Man he might have been derogated a computer hacker, as oft-times his curiosity led him to forbidden places. Reprimanded for unearthing hitherto buried records from the early First Age, two years ago, he’d learned discretion. In particular, he’d obtained one of Gandalf’s coded access keys. This allowed impersonation of the wizard on the ValiNet, avoiding most suspicion during his surreptitious cyber-travels.
Frodo re-checked and locked the tower door, then paused to gaze upon the natural beauty of Gandalf’s library. The unfathomably tall room was filled into its vast upper reaches with the loving embrace of two towering trees whose large trunks had steadily grown together in the reduced weightfulness of Valinor, their countless branches intricately intertwined in complex ways beyond all undoing. Even Frodo’s naturalist eyes could not begin to untangle them. Deep green leaves nourished by silvery veins brought life from sturdy boughs, rustling with delicate pleasure. Faint currents of moist earthy-fragrance wafted through the room. Near ground level two muscular but graceful aboveground roots interlocked like clasped forearms frozen in perpetual vow-making. It was upon this smooth, broad leaf-wreathed living ledge that Gandalf kept his modest collection of handcrafted books. On rare days, Frodo had cautiously turned a few pages, one by one, savoring the imperfect texture of real parchment and the faint scent of quill-ink. But today was not one of those days. The knowledge Frodo sought lay in an ancient past quite beyond the ken of any handwritten volume.
He retreated to his computer console near the giant picture-window and announced the familar words of command, choosing an ancient dialect of Beleriandic Noldorin:
Calad fana teitho pethi, kuyo.*
* “Machine that has knowledge,
“Shining white cloud that writes words, awaken.”
A bright satin-white cloud an arm’s length wide appeared hovering in mid-air. More spoken elvish words confirmed Frodo’s purloined access password code, and writing appeared in the cloud, rapidly scrolling up and down as Frodo moved his hands in peculiar staccato gestures resembling ancient sign languages. Iluvatar just a Man? This insane idea had never occurred to him, but strangely it drew him near it, like a moth to flame. Hour after practiced hour, he wandered the nonsensical backwaters of Valarian cyberspace. Suddenly an unexpected doorway opened into an unheard-of place. What was this? Sixty-thousand year old pre-Valarian records? Impossible! And yet, there was the door. Open. Beckoning.
Before entering, he considered. If this was really what it seemed, for what should he search? After pondering the question, a playful smile crossed his lips. With deliberation, he spoke a command initiating a search of these records for any mention of the word “hobbit”:
Ortheri: edro golw, pennas lhu ese-Iluvatar. Kyaro: hobbit.†
† “I command: open lore-file, history of the time before Iluvatar. Execute: hobbit.”
Oops! The display-cloud blushed ominously red in color and flashed accusingly. Frodo had stumbled into another restricted place. But, impossibly, the flashing soon stopped. There were no alarms. No pounding at the door (like last time). The reading cloud remained red. Frodo allowed himself to take a breath, then stared quizzically at the long lists of matches to his query that were scrolling through the red fog in three dimensions at blurring speed. He halted the scrolling and scrutinized his find. The word “hobbit” appeared in highlight on page after page of text.
He read further. Unbelievable! The entire contents of Uncle Bilbo’s books, first completed barely a century ago, were on file here, including the entire Red Book of Westmarch and the entire history of all Three Ages of Middle-earth. Upon closer examination of these works, Frodo noticed many minor changes in wording. There were also tens of thousands of pages he had never seen before, all bearing the word “hobbit”. A global find/search command reported that the term “hobbit” appeared no less than 920,173 times throughout all the texts. Gandalf’s name was there too. So was Bilbo’s name. Even his name was there, mentioned exactly 789,688 times. But how was this possible? These records were supposedly created nearly 59,000 years before he was born.
And just who was this imposter named John Ronald Reuel Tolkien who claimed to be the author of Uncle Bilbo’s books?
# # #
J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) was a major scholar of the English language,* specializing in Old and Middle English as a Professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at the University of Oxford. He was also a confirmed Luddite who loved “gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands” and never owned a television or a washing machine, and rejected refrigerated food and cars.17 “The Ring is the absolute Machine, because it was made for coercion,”18 wrote Tolkien. “By the Machine I intend all use of external devices, with the corrupted motive of dominating, bulldozing, the real world.17 The Enemy in successive forms is always concerned with sheer domination. As the servants of the Machines are becoming a privileged class, the Machines are going to be enormously more powerful. What’s their next move?”17 In his correspondence, Tolkien appears to regard all technology as a kind of “black magic” exemplified by a craving for “speed, reduction of labor and reduction of the gap between idea or desire and the result or effect.”19
Yet such cravings run deep, for even this confirmed Luddite20 came to dearly love at least one machine as a kind of “white magic” that augmented his natural human powers. As recounted by George Sayer: “I [decided] to take the risk of introducing [Tolkien] to a new machine that I had in the house. It was a large black box, a Ferrograph, an early-model tape recorder. He had made it clear that he disliked all machinery, but there was a chance that he would be interested in recording on it, in hearing his own voice....He was certainly interested. First he recorded the Lord’s Prayer in Gothic to cast out the devil that was sure to be in it since it was a machine. I played it back to him. He was surprised and very pleased with the result. It was striking how much better his voice sounded recorded and amplified. The more he recorded, and the more often he played back the recordings, the more his confidence grew. He asked to record the great riddle scene from The Hobbit....He went on recording until I ran out of tape.”21 A few years later, a personal correspondence to Sayer revealed that Tolkien had taken up with enthusiasm the regular use of a tape recorder.22
* In January 2003, a new, previously unpublished book by Tolkien was discovered by accident in a box at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England. The yellowing 2,000-page handwritten manuscript contains Tolkien’s translation and appraisal of the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. Michael Drout, an assistant professor of English at Wheaton College in Norton, MA, found the Tolkien material by accident in an abandoned box of papers while researching Anglo-Saxon scholarship at the Bodleian; Tolkien's translation of Beowulf and his line-by-line interpretation of its meaning would be published in 2004.23
# # #
APPARENTLY, Frodo decided after further investigation, this Tolkien fellow was a renowed writer of fantasy tales,24 but it was a mystery how Arda’s true history had come to be regarded as a mere fiction, or attributed to Tolkien’s hand. However, Tolkien was soon the least of Frodo’s worries. The hobbit dug still deeper into the pre-Valarian files and made several additional discoveries, each more disturbing than the last.
Firstly, after the appearance of the Tolkien writings on Middle-earth history, the record continued for another century or so, and then abruptly halted. Indeed, all the early records ceased.
Secondly, there were files of moving pictures, images of machines traveling under their own volition and great destructive powers being unleashed. The images bore certain testimony that in this long distant era before time began, Men existed, and controlled great powers, and made many terrible wars upon one another.
Thirdly, among countless other lists appeared a brief chronology of the last of these wars. This list seemed to confirm his worst fears – the end of an ancient world of Men, and of all other living things, in this venerable place they called “Earth.” The destruction was a result of some horrible weapon that Men had unleashed upon themselves, using some unknown artifice of machinery. Waves of guilt swept over Frodo at his gaining of this terrible knowledge that he knew he was not supposed to know. He fought for emotional control, finally blurting out:
whereupon the red display fog vanished instantly. Now he could think only of Gandalf. Even if his online impersonations must be confessed, he had to find Gandalf. The wizard would know what it all meant. He leapt from his seat, flung open the Tower door and bounded down the stairs, making directly for Gandalf’s sleeping quarters in the adjacent Tower residence complex.
* “Machine that has knowledge, sleep!”
# # #
Ecophagy (e-COUGH-uh-gee; from Gr. eco-, life, and Gr. -phage, to eat) – consumption and utter destruction of the entire terrestrial ecosphere by free-foraging self-replicating nanorobots.25 In this hypothetical disaster, ecophagic nanorobots made of inorganic crystalline carbon infest the winds worldwide, drawing solar energy from above the cloudtops and absorbing CO2 from the air as a carbon source, discharging corrosive O2 as waste product. Nanorobots blown to low atmosphere where the sky above them is opaque eventually lose power, becoming inactive and unable to defend themselves or to replicate, their tiny mechanized corpses commingling with the dirty drizzle of UV-damaged devices raining down from higher altitudes that deposit as a thin gray dust upon a restlessly heaving, groaning crystalscape that once had been verdant land. There, in the perpetual gloom of a forgotten wasteland, the last surviving microscopic biological defenders of Earth take their Pyrrhic victory, metabolizing the high-energy diamond content of the dead nanorobots as fuel by combining it with O2 from the air, releasing CO2 as waste and completing a closed carbon cycle that nature never intended.
# # #
“I came to a little world, of our Earth’s size more or less...and it was lit by a sun, rather larger than ours, but dimmed. The stars too were faint ... and there was a cloud or white whorl in the sky with small stars in its folds: a nebula perhaps, but much larger than the one we can see in Andromeda. Tekel-Mirim it was, a land of crystals. Whether the crystals were really of such great size – the greatest were like the Egyptian pyramids – it is hard to say....(T)here on Tekel-Mirim it was the inanimate matter, as we should say, that was moving and growing: into countless crystalline formations. Whether what I took for the air of the planet was really air, or water, or some other liquid, I am not able to say; although perhaps the dimming of sun and stars suggests that it was not air....
“Pyramids and polyhedrons of manifold forms and symmetries were growing like...geometric mushrooms, and growing from simplicity to complexity; from single beauty amalgamating into architectural harmonies of countless facets and reflected lights. And the speed of growth seemed very swift. On the summit of some tower of conjoined solids a great steeple, like a spike of greenish ice, would shoot out: it was not there and then it was there; and hardly was it set before it was encrusted with spikelets in bristling lines of many pale colors. In places forms were achieved like snowflakes under a microscope, but enormously larger: tall as trees some were. In other places there were forms severe, majestic, vast and simple.
“For a time I could not count I watched the ‘matter’ on Tekel-Mirim working out its harmonies of inherent design with speed and precision, spreading, interlocking, towering, on facet and angle building frets and arabesques and frosted laces, jewels on which arrows of pale fire glanced and splintered. But there was a limit to growth, to building and annexation. Suddenly disintegration would set in – no, not that, but reversal: it was not ugly or regrettable. A whole epic of construction would recede, going back through shapeliness, by stages as beautiful as those through which it had grown, but wholly different, till it ceased. Indeed it was difficult to choose whether to fix one’s attention on some marvellous evolution, or some graceful devolving into – nothing visible.
“Only part of the matter of Tekel-Mirim was doing these things...the matter that was specially endowed; a scientist would say...that was of a certain chemical nature and condition. There were floors, and walls, and mighty circles of smooth cliff, valleys and vast abysses, that did not change their shape nor move. Time stood still for them, and for the crystals waxed and waned.... The free will of the lifeless is a dark saying. But it may have some meaning: who can tell? For we have little understanding of either term...” [JRRT]26
# # #
“YOU’VE been a very naughty hobbit,” accused Gandalf with little conviction, seating himself at the computer table and activating it with a crisp wave of one hand. Another neat gesture called forth the red blinking fog display that Frodo had first encountered. Gandalf paused for an instant, momentarily surprised, frowning. “But your penalty will have to wait. If what you’ve told me is true, your prying has uncovered a most serious matter, and your actions may produce great ill.”
“The Tolkien record is over here,” offered Frodo meekly, pointing at a corner of the fog.
“I see it,” Gandalf growled, retrieving the material with a single cutting gesture. Another abrupt hand motion, the scene flickered, then the same material re-appeared, this time in a blue-colored fog. “Interesting. It checks. Hmmm.” Another gesture. Moving pictures appearing in rapid succession through the fog-display. Great fleets of machines plying the air. Vast cities of Men. A flash of light and a mushroom-shaped cloud destroying a great spread-out city. A Man walking on the surface of the Moon in odd raiment. Flying machines entering noiselessly into two rectangular steel mountains a quarter-mile high, which collapse as people flee in panic. A great assembly of people talking, in a building with hundreds of flags flying out front. A large statue of a human figure toppled by throngs of angry people. More fleets of flying machines, trailing dark glittering clouds. A sea of great crystalline blocks rises and falls. A brief typewritten war chronology appears.
Nanotechnology. Gandalf stroked his unlit pipe thoughtfully. Ecophagy. Gandalf looked back at his hobbit friend for the longest time, eyeing him with an unusual expression that was impossible to construe.
“What does it mean?” begged Frodo. “What do we do?”
# # #
“It was on one occasion, returning – or should I say ‘back-dreaming’? – from Tekel-Mirim, that I had the adventure I’ll close with....Maybe I had been speeding up, that is moving quickly down time in Tekel-Mirim, so as to get as long a story or sequence as I could....I withdrew, with my mind still so filled with the wonder of Tekel-Mirim that I could not even adream, and still less awake, recall the transitions or the modes of traveling, until my attention was loosened from my recollections and I found that I was looking at a twinkling sphere....I found a horrible disorderly shifting scene: a shocking contrast to Tekel-Mirim....Dark and light flickered to and fro over it. Winds were whirling and eddying, and vapors were rising, gathering, flashing by and vanishing too quick for anything to be discerned but a general ragged swirl. The land, if that is what it was, was shifting too, like sands in a tide, crumbling and expanding, as the sea galloped in and out among the unsteady edges of the coast. There were wild growth, woods you could hardly say; trees springing up like mushrooms, and crashing and dying before you could determine their shapes. Everything was in an abominable flux.
“‘This is really frightful!’ I thought. ‘Is this a diseased world, or is it a planet really inhabited by may-fly men in a sort of tumultuous mess?’....Soon I noticed down by the river, near the heart of the agglomeration,...several constructions that endured. ‘I must have a really close look,’ I thought....Of course, if one really concentrates on things – especially to observe their static forms, not their changes, as I’d been doing in Tekel-Mirim – then they tend to halt, as it were....So as I bent my attention, I lost all the acceleration that the excitement of Tekel-Mirim had induced. Things stood still for a moment, rock-hard. I was gazing at the [Radcliffe] Camera [on Earth]. I was about thirty feet above the ground in Radcliffe Square. I suppose I had at first been seeing the Thames Valley, at a huge speed; and then, slower and slower, Oxford since I don’t know when, since the beginning of the University probably....The clock on Saint Mary’s struck 7 a.m. – and I woke up for my appointment....It was the morning of...June 29th 1986, by our reckoning.” [JRRT]27
# # #
“WE’LL take these mysteries one at a time,” announced Gandalf, at length. “First, this Tolkien fellow. I checked; the 59,000-year-old data file is valid. It appears that he once truly lived. Perhaps in the distant past of our world. A great author of wonderful tales. But I can think of only one way he could have come into possession of any knowledge of the history of Middle-earth, let alone such accurate and near-complete accounts. Someone from Middle-earth had to assemble and operate a temporal palantir. Then they’d have to use it to send this information back in time, directly into the storyteller’s eager but unconscious mind. Probably while he slept. If the information was received when his mind was literate but his brain still youthful and plastic, say, around the age of ten years* for a Man for greatest effect, it would be forever written into his memory. If the sum of information was large enough it would completely divert his adult personality and goals.”
* Tolkien began learning Greek and inventing new languages at the age of 10.28 Even more telling are a series of symbolist designs Tolkien drew during 1911-1913 illustrating states of mind or being,29 one pair called “Undertenishness” and “Grownupishness,” hinting at some major mental transition near the age of ten, and two others, “Before” and “Afterwards,” showing an “approach to a mysterious threshold and then a somnambulist figure passing between torches on the other side of the door,”30 hinting at the dream-related nature of that major mental transition.
“This is possible?” asked Frodo. “But how?”
Gandalf did not hear the hobbit. A worried trace of understanding tugged his ancient brow, and when he muttered out loud at last, it was mostly to himself. “Save Iluvatar himself, there’s but one who would have the knowledge and skill to build such a device and operate it this way. It’s never been tried before....” His words trailed off.
After minutes of quiet waiting, Frodo could finally contain himself no longer. “But who?”
# # #
There are many speculations as to when Tolkien first got his ideas of Middle-earth. For instance, historian Jeffrey Henning31 claims that around 1913, at the age of 21, Tolkien had an epiphany. He read for the first time the Old English religious poem Crist of Cynewulf and encountered two lines that were to fire his imagination for years: “Eala Earendel engla beorhtast ofer middengeard monnum sended,” or, “Hail Earendel, brightest of angels, above middle earth sent unto men,” words that seemed to hint at something beautiful and remote. Henning says that Tolkien wanted to discover the truth behind these two Old English lines, and he began to conceive of a greater story, involving a mariner; and that from this simple line about Earendel, Tolkien began to discover the great tree of his mythology. Tolkien once said that he wrote the first stories of Middle-earth, that later became the Silmarillion, in late 1916 at the age of 24 while a soldier in the trenches during WWI. “Stirred by reaction against his war experiences, he had already begun to put his stories into shape, in huts full of blasphemy and smut, or by candle light in bell-tents, even some down in dugouts under shell fire.”32
But there is evidence that Tolkien may have received information that led to his stories about Middle-earth from some other source at an even earlier age, a source of which he may have been only subconsciously aware. This dim perception was revealed by Tolkien himself, in an obscure unfinished time travel story26 began in 1937 per agreement with his friend and fellow author C.S. Lewis.33 By his own accounts, after penning the second volume of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in 1945 Tolkien experienced temporary writer’s block and an irresistible compulsion to add new material to his old time travel story, now recast and renamed as the Notion Club Papers.26 Only after he had done this task could he bring himself to resume work on the third volume of the Rings trilogy, in 1946.
In Part Two of these Notion Club Papers,26 Tolkien speaks directly of his true source of inspiration through the mouth of his main character Lowdham – said to be, like Tolkien, an Oxford philologist, and with a childhood and adult background also suspiciously similar to Tolkien’s. On the fictional then-future date of 22 May 1987, Lowdham reports to his assembled friends:
“From the time of my father’s departure, I began to have curious experiences, and I have gone on having them down the years, slowly increasing in clearness: visitations of linguistic ghosts, you might say....[But] I am not a seer....[E]ver since I was about ten I have had words, even occasional phrases, ringing in my ears; both in dream and waking abstraction. They come into my mind unbidden, or I wake to hear myself repeating them....They began to come through, as I said, when I was about ten; and almost at once I started to note them down....But later on, when I was older and had a little more linguistic experience, I began to pay serious attention to my ‘ghosts’, and saw that they were something quite different from the game of trying to make up private languages....I’ve been painfully trying to indicate that I do not believe that this stuff is ‘invented’, not by me at any rate.” [JRRT]34
Later, on the fictional then-future date of 12 June 1987, the Tolkien-character describes more explicitly this experience of literary epiphany:
“‘Last night I fell suddenly into a deep dark sleep – and I got this.’ He waved a handful of papers at us. ‘I didn’t come round until nearly twelve this morning, and my head was ringing with words. They began to fade quickly as soon as I woke; but I jotted down at once all I could....’” [JRRT]35
In his own personal correspondence, Tolkien confided to a friend:
“This stuff began with me. I do not remember a time when I was not building it. I have been at it since I could write. The stories...arose in my mind as ‘given’ things, and as they came, separately, so too the links grew.” [JRRT]36 [For example,] ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ was written in hospital and on leave after surviving the Battle of the Somme in 1916, [and came out of my head] almost fully formed.” [JRRT]37
# # #
“YOU sent the information?” guessed Frodo, incredulously.
“I could not bring myself to risk such an act.”
The wizard eyed Frodo uncertainly, then seemed to arrive at a decision. “Before I answer you, there’s something you must see.” Gandalf made a complex gesture near the computer console and a hidden section of wall behind a small gurgling waterfall on the Earthward side of his study slid aside, revealing a large compartment that enclosed a wondrous sight. A meter-wide perfect sphere of gleaming obsidian hovered a few centimeters above a meter-wide silvery dish filled to the brim with a shiny metallic liquid. Several dozen tiny white cubes clung to the surface of the great featureless globe at regular intervals along great circle circumferences. A ghostly image of the structure now appeared in the display fog as well.
“Frodo, meet the Master Stone of Osgiliath. It was lost in the depths of the River Anduin at the burning of Osgiliath during the civil war of the Kin-strife, 1731 years ago, but was lately retrieved, intact, by me. It is the long-missing twin of the Master-stone that once lay in the Tower of Avallone upon Eressea.38 Those small white boxes help my computer converse rapidly with the stone. Of the Mirror of Galadriel39, in fixed position beneath the stone, you already have acquaintance.” Frodo’s eyes grew wide in amazement.
“Behold! The only known temporal palantir40 in existence,” announced Gandalf. “Of course, it has never been used to peer beyond Middle-earth.” He paused. “At least so far as I’m aware. I only finished building it three days ago.”
“So we could help these ancient Men, warn them what lies ahead?”
“You’ve already tried.” Gandalf shook his head. “It didn’t work.”
# # #
“Men of old used the palantiri to see far off, and to converse in thought with one another.43 Stones had this virtue that those who looked therein might perceive in them things far off, whether in place or in time.44 The remoter the past, the clearer the view, while for distant viewing there was a ‘proper distance,’ varying with the Stones, at which distant objects were clearer. The greater palantiri could look much further than the lesser.45 They retained the images received, so that each contained within itself a multiplicity of images and scenes, some from a remote past. They usually were kept in the dark, as the centuries passed, to limit their ‘overcrowding’.46
“The Stones were perfect spheres, appearing when at rest to be made of solid glass or crystal deep black in hue. At smallest they were about a foot in diameter, but some, certainly the Stones of Osgiliath and Amon Sul, were much larger and could not be lifted by one man. They were very heavy but perfectly smooth, and would suffer no damage if by accident or malice they were unseated and rolled off their tables. They were indeed unbreakable by any violence then controlled by men. Though without any external markings they had permanent poles originally so placed that their diameters from pole to pole pointed to the earth’s center; the faces along the circumference in the position were the viewing faces.47
“By themselves the Stones could only see: scenes or figures in distant places, or in the past. But when another mind occupied a Stone in accord, thought could be ‘transferred’ (received as ‘speech’), and visions of the things in the mind of one surveyor of one Stone could be seen by the other surveyor. It was only Sauron who used a Stone for the transference of his superior will, dominating the weaker surveyor and forcing him to reveal hidden thought and to submit to commands.” [JRRT]48
# # #
FRODO was seated at Gandalf’s console, grimly operating the controls while watching text and images dance in the depths of a satin-white fog-cloud display. His technical understanding of the affairs of machines was limited. Still, he had committed to memory countless riddles and songs, and he was determined to succeed at this. It was an easy matter to remember and adhere to Gandalf’s arcane and often mysterious instructions. Upon his command, the heart of the dark palantir had leapt to life, a kaleidoscope of millions of colors in millions of tiny square dots playing seemingly at random across its smooth warm surface. “No, no. Cause these three to meet at their common corner,” Gandalf instructed again, pointing at the display. He waited for Frodo to comply. The great globe rotated very slightly through odd angles. “There. That’s correct. Then again with the blue pane, and the red pane, and progressing through the entire spectralogue, rebalancing the before-colors as you go.” He observed Frodo patiently for a longer time. “Yes, that’s it. The machine is now harmonized. Retrieve the image of the pre-Valarian war chronology that you found earlier.”
Frodo complied and these strange words appeared in the fog-display:
Pre-Valarian Almanac, U.S. Military Headings, About 100 B.V. to End: *
First manned landing on Moon 102 B.V. (1969 C.E.)
U.S. quits Vietnam War 98 B.V. (1973 C.E.)
First U.S. attack on Iraq 80 B.V. (1991 C.E.)
War of Two Towers engaged after surprise attack from the air 70 B.V. (2001 C.E.)
Second U.S. attack on Iraq 68 B.V. (2003 C.E.)
First nanotechnology molecular assembler in U.S. 57 B.V. (2014 C.E.)
Surprise ecophagic attack launched by Iraq-Arabia 42 B.V. (2029 C.E.)
Secret U.S.-British nanotech defense grid repulses attack 42 B.V. (2029 C.E.)
Nanotech-based anti-ecophagic active shield authorized by U.N. 30 B.V. (2041 C.E.)
Second ecophagic attack launched by Assyrian Emirates 26 B.V. (2045 C.E.)
Global anti-ecophagic shield emplaced by U.S., U.K., & China 20 B.V. (2051 C.E.)
Third global ecophagic attack launched by New Babylonia 1 B.V. (2070 C.E.)
Earth’s surface destroyed by ecophagy, War of Two Towers ends 0 (2071 C.E.)†
Last Man uploads to L4 International Orbital Data Repository 0 (2071 C.E.)
* B.V. = Before Valar. C.E. = Common Era or Christian Era; also A.D.
† The 17th-century physicist and theologian Sir Isaac Newton once estimated, after much detailed calculation, that Armageddon would occur in the year 2060 A.D.49
“Remember, Frodo. This was the record after your message was sent,” the wizard explained. “This is history as we and our ancestors have recorded and lived it.”
Then Gandalf took the controls, directing the gaze of the temporal palantir back in time using a rapid fusillade of gestural shortcuts. “Now we search for the moment of intersection, on the day of your birthday, in the year...1902 C.E....There! You see it? Your Tolkien message!” Frodo squinted at the busy display, unsure which symbols Gandalf was pointing at. “Ah, you’re even using my same password,” muttered the wizard. “Now we track your signal forward in time, back to the temporal palantir you previously used to send the message, and read out the same record from the Stone’s stored records...if the file exists...yes, there it is. Let’s take a look.” New words appeared in the fog-display, positioned adjacent to the first set:
Pre-Valarian Almanac, U.S. Military Headings, About 100 B.V. to End:
World War II engaged after surprise attack from the air 82 B.V. (1941 C.E.)
World War II ends with nuclear detonation 76 B.V. (1945 C.E.)
First manned landing on Moon 49 B.V. (1972 C.E.)
U.S. quits Vietnam War 41 B.V. (1980 C.E.)
First U.S. attack on Iraq 32 B.V. (1989 C.E.)
Second U.S. attack on Iraq 28 B.V. (1993 C.E.)
War of Two Towers engaged after surprise attack from the air 26 B.V. (1995 C.E.)
U.S. attack on “Desert Triangle” (Iran, Syria, Palestine) 25 B.V. (1996 C.E.)
U.S. attack on Arabia, Mecca destroyed 24 B.V. (1997 C.E.)
U.S. convicted of war crimes, global economic blockade begins 22 B.V. (1999 C.E.)
First nanotechnology molecular assembler in Taiwan 14 B.V. (2007 C.E.)
Nanotechnology research relinquished by U.S. & U.N. 10 B.V. (2011 C.E.)
Surprise ecophagic attack launched by Iraq-Arabia 1 B.V. (2020 C.E.)
Earth’s surface destroyed by ecophagy, War of Two Towers ends 0 (2021 C.E.)
Last Man uploads to L4 International Orbital Data Repository 0 (2021 C.E.)
“What you’re seeing here was the old course of history, before the message was sent,” explained Gandalf. “My dear Frodo, it appears I was premature. You’ve done very good work indeed.”
“Look at the two chronologies.” said Gandalf. “Your message-sending interference gave this lost race of Men half a century more of life. And look – they almost reached accommodation with their machines.”
The hobbit looked thoughtful for a moment. “Several questions still trouble me, and I would have your counsel.” Gandalf nodded, and Frodo continued. “First, if I’ve already done this deed, why can I not remember doing it?”
Gandalf answered: “In sending the message, you slightly changed the course of history on ‘Earth’, which in turn slightly altered the history of Arda, and your place in that history. You cannot remember your former place in Arda’s history, because that history no longer exists. You can only remember your actions in this history, the one in which you have not yet sent any message.”
Frodo remained perplexed, but went on: “How is it that this Tolkien fellow, who seems to have been very bright and knew all our ways, never caught on that he had received a message?”
“Because you took care not to reveal to him one crucial piece of information: That the palantir, properly operated, can write thoughts unbidden into an unconscious mind. His own writings show that he had considered this possibility and arrived at the contrary conclusion, probably as a result of your misdirection. You were really quite clever. See here...” Gandalf made several quick gestures and a short bit of text appeared in the white fog. “In his own hand. Read this.”
“Two persons, each using a Stone ‘in accord’ with the other, could converse, but not by sound, which the Stones did not transmit. Looking one at the other they would exchange ‘thought’ – not their full or true thought, or their intentions, but ‘silent speech,’ the thoughts they wished to transmit (already formalized in linguistic form in their minds or actually spoken aloud), which would be received by their respondents and of course immediately transformed into ‘speech,’ and only reportable as such. The palantiri could not themselves survey men’s minds, at unawares or unwilling; for the transference of thought depended on the wills of the user on either side, and thought (received as speech) was only transmittable by one Stone to another in accord.” [JRRT]50
“Even with this misdirection, he came dangerously close to realizing the truth34 while writing his Lowdham story.”
Frodo seemed unconvinced. “If the palantiri can be employed as you say,” asked the hobbit, “why did not the dark lord Sauron use his own stone to foresee his defeat? Indeed, why could he not implant into the minds of his enemies the certain knowledge of their defeat, and by doing so, dissipate their resolve to resist him?”
Gandalf smiled at his friend. “There are many reasons. The operation of the palantiri is a subtle art requiring much study, and the full extent of its possibilities are not known to the Elves, nor even to most Maiar, including we Istari51 – and daresay even to many of the Ainur themselves. Sauron may not have fully understood, or if he did, may not have deemed the great learning effort worthwhile, so complete was his confidence in his powers of domination by simpler means, and since the one Mirror was in Lothlorien and beyond easy reach. Sauron’s main attentions were directed toward recovery of the Ring, which would confer power directly, rather than more indirect and uncertain instrumentalities such as the Stones. As a creature who worshipped the control of others, it did not occur to him until too late that anyone would attempt to destroy the Ring rather than use it for personal gain. So he did not actively seek, nor bother to learn, information about alternative courses of action. Finally, it is known that Melkor, the one among the Ainur whom Sauron served, actually was made aware of his future defeat by Iluvatar,52 and this foreknowledge must have been known to Sauron. But the pride and arrogance of these evil beings would not allow them to accept their doom.”
Frodo was silent for a time. “One more thing I must know,” he said at last. “Tell me: What was the human population of Earth when ancient Man was first destroyed, before the message was sent?”
“About 8 billion people,” answered the wizard, after consulting the display.
Frodo was shocked. This was a thousand times the current population of Middle-earth, an inconceivably vast number. Frodo shook his head, almost fearing to learn the truth. “And after my message was sent and their world was changed, how many Men were there, fifty years later, at the end?”
Gandalf paused, suddenly reluctant. “12 billion,” he answered at last. “12 billion Men.”
Frodo’s heart grew cold with revulsion, and with shame – and, finally, with the calm of terrible purpose. “I do very good work indeed, my friend,” said the hobbit after a long silence. “It seems I’m personally responsible for the suffering of 4 billion people.”
# # #
Imagine a world crisscrossed with billions of microscopic cables. Every object and living thing is imbued with countless microscopic nanorobots composed of nanocomputers, nanosensors, and communication nanodevices. Such is the physical instantiation of the remediated world that Iluvatar constructed for his final experiment – a world which he named Middle-earth, or Arda, in expectation of its hoped-for transitional nature. It was upon this quieting abode that Sauron imposed the Great Ring of Power. Recent speculations53 on the method of operation of the rings of power are mostly nonsense or posit unknown technologies. But the functioning of the rings is quite obvious once one recognizes that they are employed only in a nanotechnology-rich environment. The rings are, for the most part, autogenously-linked54 mobile command-and-control nodes by which the user can mentally tap into a worldwide communications network that is ultimately linked to all other nanorobotic instrumentalities which reside in the land, sea, air, and in the living creatures of Middle-earth.
Think of the global NanoNet as resembling a 3-D network of 1-micron-thick self-repairing communications fibers, invisible to the human eye, laid out in a 1-meter square grid pattern covering the entire surface of the Earth. The Net penetrates an average of 1 kilometer into the depths of the soil, in the same grid pattern, with mobile components extending an average of 1 kilometer into the air or overlaying similar watery volumes while stationkeeping at equivalent spacings. The optically pure diamond composite fibers total 2 billion billion meters in length and 4 million metric tons in mass worldwide, and there are 1018 distinct nodes at fiber intersections, spaced at one meter intervals in all three directions. A 1024-bit security code permits access to any individual node (giving 10308 possible alternate code sequences), so the total storage requirement to record all NanoNet nodal access codes worldwide is ~1021 bits. Each cubic micron within the cubic meter surrounding each node can be directly addressed for an additional 60 bits per voxel. This adds negligible overhead to the existing 1024-bit nodal security sequence.
Insects are the majority of all living creatures on the planet that are visible to the human eye, and they are ~1018 in number,55 hence the security codes for all insects, addressed individually, totals ~1021 bits. There are but 300 billion birds worldwide,56 and lesser numbers of larger animals, adding fewer than ~1015 bits more to the sum, and there are barely 10 trillion trees worldwide,57 adding only another ~1016 bits. The total sentient population of Arda, including Elves, Hobbits, Dwarves, Trolls, Ents, Orcs, and Men, never exceeds 10-20 million individuals.58 Since each possesses at most 1010 neurons, and with one neural control nanorobot (each having its own unique 1024-bit access code) positioned in every neuron, complete mind control of all sentient beings on Arda could be achieved by commanding at most 1017 nanorobots and ~1020 bits of additional access codes. Nanotechnology-based high-density mechanical mass storage systems such as hydrofluorocarbon tape drives59 achieve a storage density of 10 bits per cubic nanometer with ~1 millisecond access time,60 allowing packing the necessary several sextillions of bits into a subvolume of only 0.3 cubic centimeters inside the Ring. A single 1 cubic centimeter ring of power could comfortably contain the command codes for every living creature on the planet, every neuron in every sentient mind on Arda, and every cubic micron of all volumes of the Earth from 1 kilometer below to 1 kilometer above the surface. The Ruling Ring of Sauron contains by far the largest and most complete collection of these access codes, including the handful of more complex override codes to command the lesser rings themselves. The lesser rings contain substantially fewer such codes.
Sauron’s Ring is powered by hypergolic antimatter fuel,61,62 with 1 cubic millimeter of stored fuel burned at 50% efficiency providing 30,000 years of continuous power at 50 milliwatts, the maximum waste heat output of a high-emissivity Ring-sized 1 square centimeter thermal radiator surface that maintains itself no hotter than the normal 37 oC human body temperature. Power dissipation of a working mechanical nanocomputer is ~2 x 104 operations/sec-pW,63 hence 50 milliwatts can support a million gigaflops per second, crudely comparable to the processing power of a human brain.64 Thus when “much of the strength and will of Sauron passed into that One Ring”65 during its construction, this included not only the personal access codes Sauron had nefariously wrested from numerous sources but also an electronic avatar or simulation embodying some portion of his personality, motives, and intellect. This explains the lost Ring’s seemingly willful exertions to return to the hand of its Master. Thus also the Ring “gives power according to the measure of each possessor,”66 since the will of a new user of the Ring must contend with the contrary will of Sauron’s previously embedded near-sentient avatar.
The One Ring confers controlled invisibility by employing purloined access codes to take control of nanorobots stationed in the retinal nerves of all observers within eyeshot, then commanding those microscopic devices to block receipt of sensory input encoding specified elements in the observers’ visual field – in particular, the image of the Ring-wearing user. (Evidently Sauron’s Ring lacks the visual neural access codes for Tom Bombadil,67 who can still see ring-wearers that are invisible to others.68) Lesser rings of power can also control observers’ visual fields,68 as when Gandalf uses Narya (the ring of ruby) to appear larger and more menacing to Bilbo at Bag End,69 and when Galadriel uses Nenya (the ring of adamant) to appear larger and more menacing to Frodo70 and to hide the ring entirely from Sam’s view during the viewing of the Mirror at Lothlorien.71 Even Saruman can use his inferior ring72 to create a counterfeit countenance in the eyes of observers.73 By transdermally linking to internal nanorobots that reside inside the body of the wearer,74 the worn Ring enables night-viewing and remote viewing by its wearer, who can now download directly into their optic nerve bundle sensory data and images available through the NanoNet75 – as well as directly communicate with other rings.76 The rings of power confer health and immortality on mortal users by unsealing access codes to nanomedical cellular repair subroutines in corporeally-resident medical nanorobots. These subroutines are normally locked out in humans to assure a shortened lifespan in accord with Iluvatar’s “gift” of mortality to Men.77 Health benefits can also be conferred on others, as when Elrond uses Vilya (the ring of sapphire) to cure Frodo’s Nazgul-inflicted stab-wound during the hobbit’s recuperation at Rivendell.78
The Ruling Ring is nearly indestructible by force, in part because it incorporates tough diamondoid composites and in part because it possesses access codes for all active nanocomponents resident in, say, an axe blade, as well as the neuron access codes of those who swing the axe. This allows the Ring to autonomously command these nanocomponents to minimize the localized forces applied during an impact event. Sapphire is a hard diamondoid ceramic that does not soften up to 1800 oC nor melt until 2000 oC,79 which explains why a ring made of this substance cannot be destroyed in a conventional ironworking forge (typically 1000-1500 oC)80 as would be possessed by Elves, Dwarves, or Men. The hottest basaltic molten lava81 is only 1400 oC and cannot melt sapphire either, but since sapphire (3970 kg/m3)82 is much denser than rock lava (~2600 kg/m3)83 a predominantly sapphire ring thrown into a deep volcano would quickly sink into the viscous depths, effectively disposing of it.
# # #
THREE great doors of impermeable black adamant slide shut in grim succession as Gandalf enters alone into the Annex of Mandos, from whence Iluvatar may speak from afar, if He so chooses. Rarely does He so choose, but Gandalf’s quest is urgent. In the enveloping shroud of darkness, nearest the geometric center of Barad-Ilmen where all gravities are most easily cancelled, the floor gently falls away, leaving the wizard floating weightless in an empty starless void. After awhile, he begins to sense that he is not alone.
There are things which are easily described in words, other things which are possible but difficult to describe in words, and still other things which utterly defy verbal description and can only be shared with another mind by direct experience. Gandalf now finds himself in a queer place of this third kind, a place at once comfortingly familiar and achingly alien. After what seems an eternity, from all around him booms the mighty Voice of Iluvatar, a sound that reminds Gandalf both of rolling thunder and the earsplitting crackle of lightning.
“What Hast Thou Done?”
Gandalf shivers involuntarily, then replies: “I have accessed the Red Pages, my Lord.” A true, if imperfect, account.
Long moments pass. “I Know Thy Purpose. Dost Thou As Well?”
Gandalf hesitates again. Accord is essential. He answers carefully: “Though the world is old and the Powers grow weary, I see not the fugitive star in the sky, nor has Melkor yet returned through the Door of Night, as foretold in the Second Prophesy of Mandos84 of the Dagor Dagorath, the Final Battle85.”
Quickly booms the Voice: “Thy Love Of Others Is Great Indeed, To Risk So Much On Their Behalf. Very Well, Then All Shalt Thee Risk. Go Now, And Make Full Assistance To Him Howsoever He Shall Ask It Of Thee, For The End Of The Third Song Is Nigh. This Is My Command For Thy Ears Alone.”
There is a long silence but the celestial audience is not yet ended, for Iluvatar speaks again with familiar-sounding words, this time in a more temperate resonance as if to reassure.
“No Theme May Be Played That Hath Not Its Uttermost Source In Me, Nor Can Any Alter The Music In My Despite. For He That Attempteth This Shall Prove But Mine Instrument In The Devising Of Things More Wonderful, Which He Himself Hath Not Imagined.”86
So ended Gandalf’s last audience with Iluvatar.
# # #
“If there’s any magic about, it’s right down deep, where I can’t lay my hands on it,” said Sam.
“You can see and feel it everywhere,” said Frodo.
“Well,” said Sam, “you can’t see nobody working it. No fireworks like Gandalf used to show.”
– Frodo and Sam in Lothlorien, 14 February 1419 S.R.87
# # #
THE ominous buzzing outside the last protective barrier grows louder, the urgent chewing sounds of trillions of tiny diamond teeth grinding in his ears. Over the last 30 days, the defeated Man has seen the horrible deaths of his children and wife, his family and friends, his neighbors and countrymen, and his species and planet. Now mere seconds of life remain to him. He has a decision to make. Easiest to just let go.
But suddenly, in a flash of insight, he finds a reason to care again. Despite his complicity in the disaster, it is not yet his time to die.
Quickly adjusting his instruments, the Man-Who-Would-Be-Iluvatar lays down on the cold metal table, plugs a thick cable into the headjack behind his left ear, and subvocalizes words of command. Instantly 5000 kilometers of optical microcable woven into his cerebrum spring to life. Trillions of intimate nanosensors measure the real-time states of every synaptic junction and report the neurochemical microenvironment of every neuron in his brain. These data merge with the torrent of information flowing from his implanted artificial neurons, a mighty river of bits coursing through the Man’s internal fiberoptic backbone. Via the headjack, 1015 bits – more than a Library of Congress – per second pass outward through the cloister transmitters and upward to receivers in the International Orbital Data Repository, the one place of safety too high for the marauding ecophages to reach. Moments after his uploaded mind reaches the Repository, the Man’s last sensory recollection of Earth is the exquisite agony of his biological body being torn apart, cell by cell, as a flood of voracious ecophages penetrates his protected lair. He severs the communication link even before the ground-based transmitters are consumed.
The uploaded Man-Who-Would-Be-Illuvatar begins formulating a rational plan for the resurrection of the human race.
# # #
Middle-earth is a world so intimately infused with molecular nanorobotics that its inhabitants experience its wonders as ubiquitous and commonplace, much as a 20th-century industrial-world citizen of present-day Earth might regard electricity, running water, and timepieces. Based on the global hypsithermal energy dissipation limit of 1015 watts,88 up to ~1026 individually active (~1 micron3, ~107 W/m3) nanorobots may be simultaneously operated throughout Arda, or roughly 200 million nanorobots per 1 cubic-meter NanoNet grid node, without any thermal disruption of the local ecology. The many examples of casual NanoNet access reported by Tolkien include communicating with birds;89 Bombadil’s song of command to release hobbits trapped inside a willful willow tree;90 various keyed91 and voice-actuated92 stone doors; a small box of “nano-fertilizer” given Sam by Galadriel, whose command codes instruct other nanorobots present in Hobbiton soil to increase the growth rate of local plants;93 elven electronic telepathy94 and augmented sight and hearing95 via neuronanorobot-mediated96 NanoNet access; self-fastening diamond studs that unfasten by oral command;97 the ordering of Frodo to be “stricken dumb” at the Ford of Rivendell by the leading Black Rider;98 the palantiri99 which allow direct remote-viewing through the NanoNet; and the ability of the Valar to “walk unclad” as coherent virtual data structures throughout the NanoNet infrastructure.100 Immortal elves “killed” in battle upload their consciousness to a NanoNet data server in the Halls of Mandos and then await download into a newly reconstituted physical body,101 after the original “dead” body self-incinerates.102 In one case, the elven female Miriel wearies of life and uploads by choice, voluntarily abandoning her physical body.103
Middle-earth is no industrial backwater, either. A few examples of many: Manufactured diamond structures are everywhere, such as the unbreakable black tower of Orthanc,104 helmets of adamant in Moria, “gaping gates of steel and adamant” in Mordor,105 and a variety of diamond jewelry106 and rings.107 By Tolkien’s earliest account,108 the Elves manufacture molecular diamond by drawing carbon from the air: the ingredients for making diamond are listed as starlight (photons for energy), the purest water drops (yielding –H, –OH, and =O chemical moieties for surface passivation), the dew of Silpion (probably containing nanotech fabricators), and the thinnest air (the small CO2 content from which carbon may be extracted to build diamond crystal). The Dwarves employ a form of metal-like material of uncertain provenance called mithril109 that might incorporate ultrastrong carbon nanotubes or doped diamond. The Elves produce intelligent materials such as ithiuldin that reflects only starlight and moonlight, but not sunlight, and reacts to voice commands110 – the substance may incorporate intelligent microscale mirror arrays111 coupled with onboard nanosensors, nanoactuators, and nanocomputers along with a NanoNet uplink. The Elves also manufacture the Silmarils, large gemstones said to be harder than diamond, capable of self-repair, and solar-powered to maintain their perpetual internal glow.112 The Silmarils apparently contain troves of nanofabrication devices, as the gems’ owner is implored to break them open so that the destroyed Trees of Light might be rapidly rebuilt.113 The Silmarils also contain nanomedical curative devices or their command codes, as demonstrated by Beren, a Man, who is brought back from death after his hand touches a Silmaril.114
Unsurprisingly, there is also a great variety of nanotech-based military equipment in Middle-earth. This runs the gamut from the simplest of aids such as glow-sticks,115 self-untying rope116 and intelligent camouflage cloaks117 made by the Elves, to a nanoaggregate dagger used by a Nazgul ringwraith to stab and wound Frodo on Weathertop.118 This Morgul-knife leaves hostile burrowing nanodevices in the hobbit’s body119 and seems to vaporize in a puff of smoke120 when examined – the handheld weapon consists of several trillion temporarily adherent nanorobotic microparticles of utility fog121 which disband and disperse once their common purpose as a faux solid object is complete. After stabbing a Nazgul, Meriadoc’s sword, possibly fashioned on a skeleton of atomically-perfect monocrystalline iron,122 is smoking, then “writhes and withers and is consumed,”123 probably by defensive local-area disassemblers released by the Nazgul when the fell creature is attacked by the superior offensive disassemblers resident in Meriadoc’s sword. Elendil’s sword Narsil glows with the light of an internal power store,124 and Bilbo’s sword “Sting” glows with a blue warning light when Orcs are near125 (as do the elven swords Orcrist and Glamdring), no doubt tapping relevant sensory data via the NanoNet. Melkor attacks Valinor using obscurant black fogs of aerial nanorobots conveyed and released by Ungoliant,126 a spiderlike creature that is later consumed alive by these same devices.127 Gandalf demonstrates mastery of aerial nanorobots when he controls the color and velocity of smoke rings;128 Elrond compels large numbers of utility fog nanorobots to enter the river upstream of the Ford of Bruinen and raise themselves up to collect and direct a great wall of water that pummels and unhorses the Black Riders as they attempt to cross into Rivendell;129 and Aghan teleoperates a watch-stone composed of utility foglets that does battle with orcs and leaves its Druedain operator wounded because the sensory feedback through the NanoNet is so complete.130
Nanotech-based mind-control technologies are frequently encountered: Dermal contact with waterborne nanorobotry in Mirkwood induces loss of 1-2 months of long-term memory;131 NanoNet-mediated “fogs of confusion” are deployed as defensive security perimeters;132 dragons can control minds133 via the NanoNet; Felagund can disguise his appearance134 by manipulating the visual fields of others, perhaps by a method similar to that used by the Ring of Power; and standing within the Ring of Doom compels neuronanorobot-mediated truth-telling.135
Nanomedicine136 is also commonplace in Middle-earth. Indeed, the body of each sentient creature on Arda may incorporate shifting populations of up to many trillions of nanorobotic devices, as dramatically illustrated when a cloud of nanorobots flees from Saruman’s body after he is killed by Wormtongue in Hobbiton.137 Medical nanodevices are extracted from many nanorobot-rich host vegetations;138 nanorobot-rich medicines eliminate pain139 and cure wounds instantly;140 Aragorn can consciously will himself dead141 by ordering his internal devices to painlessly interrupt his heart and brain functions; physical contact with the nanorobotry contained within a Silmaril can restore dead mortals to life;142 and cell repair machines give Elves a sickness-free143 normal lifespan projected to be at least 1 million years.144 There is evidence of genetic engineering in the creation of dragons,145 Dwarves,146 Elves,147 Eagles,148 Ents,148 and Orcs;149 and Wizards have the ability to “blend” different races,150 though nanobionics may be involved in some of these cases. “Uplifting” of nonsentient living things to higher intelligence is widely practiced in Middle-earth, probably using a combination of genetic engineering and nanomedicine, with instances on record including dogs,151 dragons,152 horses,153 sheep,154 spiders,155 trees,156 and trolls.157 Nanotech-mediated shape-shifting is displayed by Beorn,158 Elwing,159 and the Valar.160 Biostasis, if not cryonics, was evidently practiced in Numenor.161
Other advanced technologies described in various versions of the legendarium of Middle-earth include, for example, space travel via Earandil’s flaming rocket ship named Vingilot162 and via other “ships” required for travel to Valinor after the fall of Numenor;163 the use of petrochemical flamethrowers,164 iron dragons (armored motorized tanks),165 electron beam weapons166 and possibly nuclear munitions;167 and the production of an artificial tsunami168 and dramatic orographic reconstructions of Earth’s landforms apparently via an engineered meteor bombardment of the planetary surface from orbit169 and by other means.170
Finally, there is Iluvatar’s original nanorobotic restitution of the planetary surface, creating Arda itself, after the ancient ecophages had swept Earth clean of most living things.
# # #
“WHY, Frodo, do you suppose that the ancient race of Men did not survive their Final War, whereas the peoples of Arda survived and prospered after the War of the Ring?” asked Gandalf, making some last adjustments to the equipment.
Frodo considered for a moment. “When the One Ring fell into the fire of Mt. Doom and was destroyed, only the bad magic went away. The good magic remained. Like yours, Gandalf. I think the race of Men did not make this distinction.” Frodo continued: “And the council of Elrond and the resulting Fellowship of the Ring was key to success. All of good will were sought out, and all were heeded, and joined in the solution, even the unloved oathbreaking Shadow-men of Erech. Our understanding of the problem was shared and true and clear. Indeed, all Three Ages ended well, only after the many races* combined to defeat evil. Our history proves it can be done and that it is the only way. Next time, perhaps the race of Men will entertain this path, as did we.”
* “Races” in the allegorical, not merely biological, sense, wherein the wizards, hobbits, dwarves, and elves of Middle-earth might have their cultural counterparts as scientists, environmentalists, businessmen, and physically-enhanced humans (and future transhumans) of our present-epoch Earth.
Gandalf murmured agreement, then rose from the console. “Have you found the new message-bearer?”
Frodo nodded, showing a name to the wizard. “He meets several tests. First, he was a prolific author, having written, by count, more words than any other Man on the subject of ‘molecular nanotechnology’ and ‘nanorobotics.’ He wrote extensively on the ecophagic threat that later would befall the race of Men. His schooling, sympathies and interests argue that he may be entrusted with the context. Of course, the Message cannot be sent until later in his life, when his knowledge of the machines is more complete, on the day after the Last War begins.”
“Your choice is ironic,” whispered Gandalf to himself, too softly for the hobbit to hear.
“This Tolkien fellow, he seems much like me,” Frodo went on. “Perhaps that’s why I chose him as my first message-bearer. His efforts helped but it was not quite enough. If there must be another message, it should be sent to a message-bearer who is more like you, Gandalf. Someone who is as interested in the ways of the machines as in the ways of the trees.”
“You realize the terrible risk to us all in your action? Be you successful, then Arda, and ourselves, and all we know and have done, may never come to pass.”
“In that case, our history would still be known for ever to the survivors in their works of literature,” countered the hobbit. “This differs little from history remembered.”
“But there’s a chance the troubles of Men might not be fixed, whilst our own existence may yet cease.” The wizard fixed his gaze on Frodo. “And that even more Men may die.”
“Men can do better,” declared the hobbit. Then, more confidently: “Men will do better.” Gandalf opened his mouth as if to speak but uncharacteristically Frodo interrupted, elaborating: “I know you once said that Elrond believed the race of Men was failing, and that there was no strength left in the world of Men. But Iluvatar himself was once a Man, and still he had the strength to make us, and Arda, and countless other wondrous things. More than any other race, Men are made in his image. Yes, they are easily seduced by power, but if the mere shadow of our history pushed them 50 years further into the bright sunlight of existence, how much more might they achieve with a truer understanding of what they face?”
The console clock began ticking off the final countdown. “See, Gandalf? Midnight has passed. It’s my birthday! A most fitting end to my 200-year career, don’t you think?’ These were the last words that Frodo ever spoke, to Gandalf.
The hobbit faced the console and carefully recited the words of transmission:
Ortheri: edro golw, pennas gaud-mine-menegya-neledol Arda.
Kyaro lek: Rasta, Ithil-neder, iaur-Yen otsocainen ese-Valar....*
* “I command: open lore-file, history of nanomachinery on Arda. Execute transmission: 12th Day of Halimath [Halimath (Hobbit English or Westron) = halig-monath (holy-month) (Old English) = September]31, ancient-Year 70 Before Valar...”
# # #
“...Never since have the Ainur made any music like to this music, though it has been said that a greater still shall be made before Iluvatar by the choirs of the Ainur and the Children of Iluvatar after the end of days.
“Then the themes of Iluvatar shall be played aright, and take Being in the moment of their utterance, for all shall then understand fully his intent in their part, and each shall know the comprehension of each, and Iluvatar shall give to their thoughts the secret fire, being well pleased.” [JRRT]171
# # #
AS a serious molecular nanotechnologist, I’m not given to idle flights of fancy. Yet I awoke the morning of 12 September 2001,* the day after the 9/11 tragedy, inexplicably smitten with a burning desire to see the forthcoming epic movie Lord of the Rings.† But the film would not open in local cinema houses until December 19th. Nearing my 50th birthday, I’d not given a single thought to J.R.R. Tolkien for almost 40 years since my childhood reading of his epic. I re-read the entire trilogy and was awestruck by the astonishing realism of the world of the hobbits, and its close physical similarity to our Earth. Tolkien’s finely detailed descriptions of cultures and battles seemed more like concise history lessons than mere works of fantasy.
In his writings, Tolkien always maintained the “fiction” that Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and the Silmarillion were derived from found ancient manuscripts, mostly originally authored by Frodo or Bilbo Baggins, of which Tolkien was merely the translator, editor and interpreter – a situation identical to much of his scholarly work on languages. “I am historically minded,” Tolkien once explained. “Middle-earth is not an imaginary world....The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live.”172
Strange thoughts stirred, unlooked-for, in my mind. Could Tolkien’s hobbit world possibly possess some actual historical reality – even if the great author didn’t fully realize it himself?‡ Thus began a research journey of several years....
* September 12 is the correct birthday of both Frodo and Bilbo in our modern calendar system. The common birthdate is usually listed as September 22 in Shire Reckoning173, but S.R. dates are 10 days in advance of our own174 because the summer solstice falls on the Shire’s mid-year’s day – the day between June and July – not on June 21 as in our calendar. By the same reckoning, Frodo and Bilbo departed Middle-Earth from the Grey Havens on September 11th.
† Elijah Wood, the actor who portrays Frodo in the famous Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, made his acting debut at the age of 8 in the time-travel film Back to the Future II,175 a movie which depicts how information sent back in time can change history.
‡ Astonishingly, though Tolkien died in 1973 (the very year the word “Nano-Technology” was first conceived for use in a scientific paper176) he fortuitously chose the then-future date of 1986 for his Lowdham character to describe the ecophagic fate of Earth/Tekel-Mirim. 1986 was the exact year of publication of Engines of Creation177, the first book to describe the future engineering discipline of molecular nanotechnology and the first book to warn of the potential future ecophagic dangers of microscopic “gray goo” machine replicators if they were allowed to run wild on Earth.
# # #
Cited works of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Fellowship of the Ring (FOTR), Ballantine, 1965; The Two Towers (TT), Ballantine, 1965; The Return of the King (ROTK), Ballantine, 1965; The Hobbit (HOB), Ballantine, 1966; The Silmarillion (SIL), Ballantine, 1979; The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (LET), Houghton Mifflin, 1981; The Book of Lost Tales 2 (BLT2), George Allen & Unwin, 1984; Unfinished Tales (UT), Ballantine, 1988; Sauron Defeated (SD), Houghton Mifflin, 1992; The Book of Lost Tales 1 (BLT), Ballantine, 1992; Morgoth’s Ring (MR), Houghton Mifflin, 1993; The Shaping of Middle-Earth (SME), Ballantine, 1995; The Lost Road (LR), Ballantine, 1996.
Other cited works: K. Eric Drexler, Nanosystems (NS), John Wiley & Sons, 1992; Patricia Reynolds, Glen H. GoodKnight, eds., Proc. J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference (CEN), Mythopoeic Press, 1995; Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (TAI), HarperCollins, New York, 1995; Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Vol. I (NMI), Landes Bioscience, 1999, http://www.nanomedicine.com/NMI.htm; Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Vol. IIA (NMIIA), Landes Bioscience, 2003, http://www.nanomedicine.com/NMIIA.htm; John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (TGW), Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, 2003; Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines (KSRM), Landes Bioscience, 2004, http://www.MolecularAssembler.com/KSRM.htm.
1. SIL:356, 357, 365, 366, 376, 377, 378; ROTK:384, 456-459. 2. BLT:293. 3. SIL:3-7. 4. Noldorin literal translation: “fortress in space above the sky”. 5. SIL:359-360. 6. LET:283 (#211). 7. LET:230 (#178), LET:375-376 (#294). 8. Karen Wynn Fonstad, The Atlas of Middle Earth, Revised Edition, Houghton Mifflin, 1991. 9. David Day, Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, Fireside, 1996. 10. Margaret M. Howes, “The Elder Ages and the later glaciations of the Pleistocene Epoch,” Tolkien Journal 3(1967):3-15; Robert C. Reynolds, “The geomorphology of Middle-earth,” The Swansea Geographer 11(1974):67-71; William Antony Swithin Sarjeant, “The geology of Middle-earth,” Mythlore 21(Winter 1996):334-339 and CEN:334-339; see also http://www.mythsoc.org/mythcon27.html. 11. Ron Redfern, Origins, Chapter V, Weidenfeld Illustrated, 2000. 12. Christopher R. Scotese, PALEOMAP Project; http://www.scotese.com. 13. ROTK:479 (App D). 14. MR:60. 15. Dean B. McLaughlin, Introduction to Astronomy, Houghton Mifflin, 1961, pp. 74, 171-2. 16. In Tolkien’s mythology [SIL:3-13], a Supreme Being named Iluvatar creates 15 gods (the Valar) and fashions a new Earth (called Arda), a series of acts that consumed an unspecified but relatively small amount of time, probably a millennium or less. We assume this process began in Year 1 and lasted exactly 1000 years. The Valar then enter Arda in Year 1001 and the history of the world begins, the reporting of which was to occupy virtually the whole of Tolkien’s life. In our Solar years, Tolkien’s “First Age” then begins in the Year 11,062 [MR:51,71; Valar Year 1050, using 9.582,682,42 conversion factor] and ends in the Year 51,775 [MR:58]; the “Second Age” (S.A.) lasts 3441 years [ROTK:455] and ends in the Year 55,216; and the “Third Age” (T.A.) lasts 3021 years [ROTK:486], ending in the Year 58,237 (S.R. 1421) at the conclusion of the War of the Ring after the Fall of Barad-dur. The last entry in the Fourth Age is S.R. 1541, or Year 58,357 [ROTK:472]. 17. LET, cited in James Bell, “J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of Machines,” 12 March 2002, http://www.LastWizards.com. 18. Interview with Christopher Tolkien in “J.R.R.T.: A Film Portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien,” directed by D. Bailey, London, 1992. 19. James John Bell, “One Machine to Rule Them All: Hackers, Luddites and J.R.R. Tolkien,” TheTechMag.com, 2002, http://news.TheTechMag.com/?article=1000010148. 20. Tolkien would by nature have interpreted any received knowledge of advanced technologies (which he could not comprehend, knowing nothing of science or engineering) as mere allegory rather than as literal truth. He would regard of greatest importance the interactions of living beings with those technologies, events which would be fully expounded upon, but he would relegate to background and vague “magic” the precise mechanical workings of the technology itself, which would not be reported in any detail. Thus the Lord of the Rings initially appears to be a work of fantasy rather than science fiction. How ironic that it is Tolkien, a Luddite living and writing in the mid-20th century, who gives us our first glimpse of a post-Singularity21 world – a world which fast approaches but has not yet overtaken us. 21. Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near, Viking Press, New York, 2005. 22. CEN:23, 24. 23. “New Tolkien Book Found”, 12 January 2003, News.com.au; http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue299/news.html. 24. In 2002, voters in a BBC poll named Lord of the Rings the greatest book of the 20th century, and in 1999, Amazon.com customers chose it as the greatest book of the millennium; Lev Grossman, “Feeding on Fantasy,” Time 160(2 December 2002):90-94. By 2003, there were 834,000 web pages that mentioned Tolkien. 25. Robert A. Freitas Jr., “Some Limits to Global Ecophagy by Biovorous Nanoreplicators, with Public Policy Recommendations,” Zyvex preprint, April 2000; http://www.rfreitas.com/Nano/Ecophagy.htm. 26. SD:207-8. 27. SD:209-211. 28. TGW:15. 29. TAI:34-40. 30. TGW:29. 31. Jeffrey Henning, “On Tolkien,” 1995, http://www.langmaker.com/ml0108.htm. 32. LET:66. 33. LR:7. 34. SD:236-239: “...I wish I could get more of it. But it’s not under my control, Stainer.” 35. SD:246, 249. 36. LET #131. 37. LET #221, #215. 38. UT:432 (Note 16), SIL:362. 39. “Many things I can command the Mirror to reveal...It shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be” [FOTR:468]. 40. How does the temporal palantir work? R.L. Forward41 suggests a time-phone42 might be built by applying an ultrastrong rapidly rotating magnetic field to spin up a fully ionized superheavy atomic nucleus, causing the highly-charged nucleus to elongate into a spinning cylinder or flatten into a rapidly rotating ring “that will allow messages encoded on gamma rays to be sent backward and forward in time.” But my knowledge is strangely incomplete in this matter. Perhaps, as with Tolkien and the palantiri, Frodo deleted one crucial piece of information, for our own good. 41. Robert L. Forward, Indistinguishable from Magic, Baen Books, 1995, pp. 263-264. 42. “Frequency,” New Line Studios, 2000; http://us.imdb.com/Title?0186151. 43. TT:259. 44. SIL:362. 45. UT:433. 46. UT:432-433 (Note 18). 47. UT:427-428. 48. UT:430. 49. “End of the World Is Nigh, Says Long-Dead Scientist,” Reuters (London), 24 February 2003, http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&ncid=573&e=4&cid=573&u=/nm/20030224/od_nm/armageddon_dc. 50. UT:429-430, 433. 51. UT:405-420. 52. SIL:6. 53. Jennifer Coombs, Marc Read, “Valaquanta: Of the Energy of the Valar,” Mallorn No. 28, 1991, pp. 29-35; Jenny Coombs, Marc Read, “A physics of Middle-earth,” Mythlore 21(Winter 1996):323-329 (also CEN:323-329); David Langford, “The science of cashing in,” SFX Magazine, Issue #36, March 1998,
http://www.ansible.demon.co.uk/writing/sfx/sfx036.html; Christian Lassen, “Technology in Middle-earth,” 27 June 2000; http://flyingmoose.org/tolksarc/theories/metech.htm; Wil McCarthy, “The one humvee,” December 2001, http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue243/labnotes.html. 54. NMI (Sec. 7.4). 55. C.B. Williams, Patterns in the Balance of Nature and Related Problems in Quantitative Ecology, Academic Press, 1964; C.W. Sabrosky, “How many insects are there?” in Insects, The Yearbook of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1952; “Numbers of Insects (Species and Individuals),” Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History; http://18.104.22.168/resource.faq/nmnh/buginfo/bugnos.htm. 56. Sankar Chatterjee, The Rise of Birds: 225 Million Years of Evolution, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997; see also: http://www.press.jhu.edu/press/books/titles/sampler/chatjee.htm. 57. Taking total tree biomass as 1015 kg worldwide178 and assuming 100 kg average tree mass. 58. Gunnar Brolin, “A Few Thoughts On The Population Of Gondor And Arnor,” Other Hands 3, 1993; http://otherhands.com/archives/articles/3/population1.html; Jason Beresford, “A Response To ‘A Few Thoughts On The Population Of Gondor And Arnor’,” Other Hands 3, 1993; http://otherhands.com/archives/articles/3/population2.html; Gunnar Brolin, “More On Population: A Response To Jason Beresford,” Other Hands 4, 1994; http://otherhands.com/archives/articles/4/population3.html. 59. NMI (Sec. 7.2.6). 60. NS (Sec. 12.6.4). 61. Peter G.O. Freund, Christopher T. Hill, “A possible practical application of heavy quark physics,” Nature 276(16 November 1978):250. 62. NMI (Sec. 6.2.5). 63. NS (Sec. 12.8). 64. KSRM (Sec. 5.9). 65. SIL:356. 66. FOTR:474. 67. FOTR:348. 68. FOTR:185. 69. FOTR:60. 70. FOTR:473. 71. FOTR:474. 72. FOTR:339. 73. TT:232. 74. NMI (Sec. 7.4.2). 75. FOTR:518-519. 76. SIL:356. 77. SIL:38. 78. FOTR:292. 79. Richard W. Hughes, Ruby & Sapphire, RWH Publishing, 1997. 80. “Iron Working,” http://www.regia.org/ironwork.htm; Ben Levick, “Ben the Blacksmith,” January 1993, http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Parthenon/7039/AshliRFC.html; “Chapter 5: The Age of Iron,” http://www-geology.ucdavis.edu/~GEL115/115CH5.html. 81. http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/frequent_questions/grp1/question3602.html. 82. NMI (App. A). 83. http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/frequent_questions/grp1/question4454.html. 84. UT:413; LR;358; SME:46, 88-89, 197-198, 249, 251, 298. 85. SME:44, 46, 86, 88, 91, 188, 201, 241, 244, 248-251, 371. 86. SIL:6. 87. FOTR:467. 88. NMI (Sec. 6.5.7). 89. HOB:244-246. 90. FOTR:169. 91. HOB:201. 92. FOTR:400-402, FOTR:425. 93. FOTR:486, ROTK:374. 94. ROTK:325-326. 95. TT:141. 96. NMI (Sec. 7.4). 97. HOB:19. 98. FOTR:286. 99. UT:421-433. 100. SIL:80. 101. SIL:227, CEN:168. 102. SIL:125. 103. SIL:68. 104. TT:204, 221, SIL:361. 105. ROTK:276. 106. HOB:19. 107. FOTR:472. 108. LT:138. 109. FOTR:413-414, ROTK:381. 110. FOTR:397. 111. “Digital Micromirror Device,” Texas Instruments, 1995; http://www.ti.com/corp/docs/company/history/dmd.shtml. 112. SIL:72-73. 113. SIL:86. 114. SIL:121, 177. 115. FOTR:487-488. 116. TT:276. 117. FOTR:479. 118. FOTR:263. 119. FOTR:293. 120. FOTR:265-266. 121. J.S. Hall, “Utility Fog: A Universal Physical Substance,” Vision-21:Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering in the Era of Cyberspace, Westlake, OH; NASA Conference Publication CP-10129, 1993, pp. 115-126. 122. CEN:327. 123. ROTK:146. 124. SIL:364. 125. FOTR:363, 447. 126. SIL:84-85. 127. SIL:90. 128. HOB:26, 130. 129. FOTR:296. 130. UT:397-398. 131. HOB:149. 132. SIL:110, 117-118. 133. SIL:267, 268. 134. SIL:206. 135. SIL:77. 136. NMI, NMIIA. 137. ROTK:370. 138. FOTR:266, FOTR:281, TT:212, ROTK:170-177. 139. TT:64. 140. TT:64. 141. ROTK:428. 142. SIL:121, 177. 143. SIL:121. 144. SIL:38. 145. ROTK:447-448. 146. SIL:40-41. 147. SIL:48. 148. SIL:43-45. 149. SIL:50. 150. TT:96. 151. HOB:126-127. 152. HOB:213-216. 153. HOB:126-127. 154. HOB:126-127. 155. HOB:155, SIL:84-85. 156. FOTR:164-166, TT:55, 89, 90, 95. 157. ROTK:511. 158. HOB:118. 159. SIL:305-306, 309. 160. SIL:80, 82. 161. SIL:329. 162. SIL:309-310, 312, 315. 163. SIL:349, 359, 378. 164. TT:221. 165. TGW:220-221; BLT2:170, 176. 166. SIL:343. 167. SIL:312, TT:302. 168. SIL:344-346. 169. SIL:346, 359. 170. SIL:51-52. 171. SIL:4. 172. LET:239 (#183). 173. FOTR:44, ROTK:486. 174. ROTK:483. 175. “The Elijah Effect,” Time 160(2 December 2002):88. 176. N. Taniguchi, “On the Basic Concept of ‘Nano-Technology’,” Proc. Intl. Conf. Prod. Eng. Tokyo, Part II, Japan Society of Precision Engineering, 1974. 177. K. Eric Drexler, Engines of Creation, Doubleday, 1986. 178. R.K. Dixon, S. Brown, R.A. Houghton, A.M. Solomon, M.C. Trexler, J. Wisniewski, “Carbon Pools and Flux of Global Forest Ecosystems,” Science 263(14 January 1994):185-190. © 14 August 2004 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved, excluding fair-use quotations attributed to Tolkien or others.
Last updated on 6 May 2012
since 14 August 2004