Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to change the world. And he lived in an ivory tower.
The Construction of the Ivory Tower
Kamal was the oldest son of a rich merchant of the village of Roch. Since young age, he was famous for his bright mind, already mastering all arts and sciences, while other kids at his age barely could speak. He grew up to become a respected scholar, known in the whole land.
When his father died, he alone inherited all family’s fortune, as it was the law.
What he did next surprised even those who always took him for an eccentric scholastic: he decided to build an ivory tower where he was going to isolate himself from mundane distractions, to solve all natural and human problems he judged important. Why the tower had to be made of ivory, nobody ever found out.
The tower construction, with all provisions he would need for a life in there, revealed to be extremely expensive. It consumed most of Kamal’s wealth. The little that rested, he donated to his brothers and sisters, granting them certain comfort, but far below that they were used to.
The tower sprouted in an isolated spot in the central plain, equidistant from the village of Roch, the holy city of Vacan, the great city of Oir’yn, the conjoined cities of J’lem and G’zar, and the forest of Amzan. Following the detailed projects of Kamal, the best masons, carpenters, builders, and architects from Oir’yn gave shape to the tower, working on the huge amount of ivory imported from Amzan.
The tower grew impeccably white, as a solid five-faced polygonal structure. It looked as a monolithic pentagonal regular rod, almost without any particular structure or decoration. Its only remarkable features were the crenelations in the terrace parapet and the five small windows, one on each face of the highest floor, where Kamal had his apartment built.
Although Kamal’s apartment took the whole floor, it contained only a small bed and a work desk laid in the middle of the ample pentagonal space illuminated through the five windows. The floors below stocked everything he would need for the next years of work and solitude. At a corner of his apartment, a set of spiral stairs communicated to the floors below and the tower terrace above.
In the days immediately before the ivory tower was finished, Kamal moved to his apartment in there. The masons were instructed to seal the only entrance, as he was not supposed to leave, or anyone to enter, until his work was accomplished.
As the workers left, silence waved through the tower. Kamal’s endeavor was about to start.
The First Challenge
In his first night alone, Kamal climbed to the tower’s terrace and contemplated the darkness between the stars. He mused about the mysteries of the universe.
Back to his apartment, he sat at his work desk and thought of the first challenge ahead of him, to derive a final theory of everything.
For years he worked till he found the solution. He finally arrived at a formulation that could conciliate quantum mechanics and general relativity, even in divergent limits near event horizons and at the Big Bang. In Kamal’s theory it was clear why the universe was born in a low entropy state, how it evolved into galactic clusters, and why it was on an accelerating expansion.
Then, Kamal derived a new formulation of classical and quantum mechanics based on the evolution of ensembles. Entropy and time irreversibility were naturally incorporated at the microscopic level, having time-reversible trajectories as particular limits. In his theory, the time arrow wasn’t a mystery anymore and quantum evolution from pure into mixed states followed a natural path, eliminating the measurement problem.
Kamal was satisfied, but a lot more work waited for him.
The Second Challenge
In the next day, Kamal stood at the window facing the holy city of Vacan. He looked at the maze of buildings and their thin minarets, surrounding the immense golden cathedral. He observed the constant flow of pilgrims converging into the city’s inner walls for their prayers. He thought of how deluded they were, wasting their time and hopes with clearly false idols.
Kamal knew that even the most eloquent proof of nonexistence of Vacan’s divinities wouldn’t change the minds of those faithful people. The better he could do was to show that there was nothing magical or supernatural about life and the human soul, and hope that the kids of the next generations would be brighter than their parents to appreciate that truth. With these thoughts in mind, it was time to tackle his second challenge, to derive a theory of life and mind.
Again, for years Kamal worked till he found the solution. He first showed how life originated on Earth, through a sequence of prebiotic self-catalytic processes fed by the sun and supported by inorganic mineral nanostructures. He showed how these processes increased in complexity and autonomy, purely following natural selection processes, without any divine intervention, up to the first autonomous mono-cellular being was born.
Then, he turned to the other extreme of the problem. He unveiled how the mind was an emergent phenomenon arising from the brain activity. He proved that this activity was expressed in layers: a first unconscious protoself simply registering deviations from the organism homeostasis; a core conscience creating representative images of the protoself; and an autobiographical-self binding the core-conscience history through memories and forecasts. Kamal’s theory definitively proved how emotions, feelings, memories, reason, and consciousness emanate from this process, without the need of invoking an extra-corporeal soul.
Kamal was satisfied, but to unveil the mysteries of the universe, life, and soul was easy. The hard challenges were still ahead.