Galaxy Creation 101
by JJ Mara
“My universe awaits!” the instructor bellows. “Who’s next to present their galaxy simulation?”
Thirteen large-headed students — all translucent, multi-dimensional beings — cower at her invitation. Except for Jess. His blob form floats reluctantly to the front of the Galaxy Creation 101 class; may as well get Instructor’s scrutiny of his dubious creation out of the way.
The instructor bores into Jess right from the start. “How long did you spend creating this so-called galaxy of yours?”
Jess bristles. “Seven days and seven nights.” He holds up the ecotarium that contains his galaxy simulation for the class to see.
“Slacker! Procrastinator!” Instructor shouts. Jess is her brightest blob in a class of over-achievers, but he lacks a work ethic. “Only seven days? And you probably took the seventh day off!” Privately, she’s proud of her heavenly group of ultra-intelligent disciples, but she has to ride her students hard. With stars expiring and black holes swallowing entire galaxies, she’s eternally in need of replacement parts. Instructor selects the very best simulations, and their creators get to launch their galaxies — for real — into her ever-renewing universe.
The other twelve blobs skulk behind their galaxy ecotariums. The students call their teacher ‘Instructor Destructor,’ because she lays waste to so many simulated galaxies — and their creators. Their ecotariums will face the Destructor’s ruthless inquisition soon enough.
The instructor scans Jess’s design sketches. “What do you call your galaxy, Jess?”
“The Milky Way, Ma’am.”
“Such a quaint name,” Instructor snorts. “And your energy protostar?”
“The Sun. I positioned it at the center of a solar system in a corner of my galaxy.”
“Sun? The design specs I see here will yield a wasteful cauldron of spewing flames with a catastrophically limited lifespan,” she says. “And what about your life-viable planet — hypothetically — in this solar system?”
“I call it Earth.”
“Tell us about this creation of yours, Jess, and how you’ve programmed your simulation of it to evolve.”
“I’ve got quarks programmed to explode and form protons and neutrons. All in a microsecond, too! Bang! The heat will be intense.” Jess had stumbled upon a canister of discarded quark particles in the student lab a week ago, and his creation took shape serendipitously from there.
“Good idea,” she says. “A rather abrupt start, though, given we’re in the evolution business.”
“After the explosion, it takes 400,000 years or so for my matter to cool down enough to form atoms.”
“That’s more like it. Keep going.”
“Clumps of gas congeal to form my stars. And then comes the fun part. I begin to rotate a giant cloud of gas and dust.”
“Yes! Yes! A rotating solar nebula! I’ve seen it before. Excellent Jess!”
Jess is on a roll with Instructor, and the other students see it. The cute, smart blob hovering in the front row leans in toward Jess. Two sensory tentacles emerge from her super-sized head, and she subconsciously begins rubbing them together.
“And then, Ma’am, I use gravity to collapse the nebula. Gravity, Ma’am!” Jess is struttin’ and stylin’ now, for the sole benefit of the tentacle-rubber. “Wait’ll you all see that nebula spin!” he goads the class. “Gravity will pull all the material to the center, and poof — a sun forms!”
“Gravity? Your design uses GRAVITY?!” Instructor considers gravity a risky engineering component. Too much gravity and a galaxy implodes. Not enough gravity and it rips itself apart. In the back row, the hapless blob looking over the smoldering oasis in his ecotarium was proof positive of gravity’s dual dangers.
Jess continues, albeit with less classroom mojo. “But not all my matter pulls toward the Sun. I’ve programmed the gravity juuuust right to leave plenty of dust behind to form my planets.”
“Just right? Sounds like landing a thousand angels on the head of a pin. Too much room for error!”
“I threw in a dose of dark energy, Ma’am, to counterbalance the gravitational forces.” Jess knows the dark energy is a blatant hack, so he dances right past it. “And Earth, my viable planet, Ma’am. I’ve programmed Earth to be just the right size and distance from my energy source to spawn and sustain life forms.”
“And just what is the dominant life form you’ve chosen as the hypothetical steward of your flawed design?”
“Humanoids. HUMANOOIIIDS!!??” Instructor’s blob form puffs in a rage to twice its normal size. Two students — both part of the back row gang — suddenly look ill and do all they can to cover up their ecotariums.
Admittedly, Jess ran out of time and took a random flier when he simulated humanoids to reign at the top of his planetary food chain. “Shoulda never blown off that last day,” he mutters.
Instructor sees a teaching moment. “Class, human beings are a self-destructive breed,” she begins. “They are innately territorial. They trust no one outside of their own clans. They selfishly hoard and waste resources, and yet they are envious of each other. And you’ve chosen this selfish race, Jess, to lord over your creation?”
“Where does it all lead?” asks the smart blob in the front row.
“Their wrath grows, and they fight one another with lethal weapons to control the planet we gave them,” Instructor divines. “The inhabitants ultimately extinguish their own race, long before any design flaw — like protostar cooling — can snuff out the physical planet itself.”
The students always marvel at Instructor’s omniscience and flawless predictive capacity, and here was another example.
“Never, and I mean never, inhabit a galaxy with humanoids when so many better alternatives exist.”
Jess slumps. “Should I trash my ecotarium, Ma’am?” The bin already overflowed with rejected galaxy simulations.
“No, Jess. Launch your simulation anyway. Get ‘er up an’ running. It’ll be a good object lesson for the class to witness how your dumpster fire of a galaxy eventually consumes itself.” They didn’t call her Instructor Destructor for nothing.
Jess realizes his galaxy simulation is doomed and so is his grade. He safely launches his flawed simulation inside its ecotarium, just as Instructor requested. But Jess is flummoxed, and he mistakenly launches the real creation sequence of his Milky Way galaxy too! Jess frantically pounds the ‘escape’ button to abort the launch program, but he’s too late to reverse its genesis. His instantaneous explosion out in a far corner of the universe had already triggered — for real — the creation chain of his galaxy, Sun, Earth … and those loathsome humanoids. “Uh oh.”
He slinks out of the classroom. “Oh God,” Jess mumbles, as he passes in front of Instructor.
“Yes my Son? What can I do for you?”
Jess’s galactic mistake is apparent to the whole class. The smart blob makes a note to re-code the bailout function in the galaxy launch program. She finally breaks the awkward silence. “We can’t just stand by as the human race self-destructs on a planet Jess created here.”
“Yes, yes, you have a point there,” Instructor says, infinitely unfazed. Real humanoids, vile as they are, will suffer, and Instructor will be complicit in their fate. “Jess will be dropping out of Galaxy Creation 101, of course. But here’s what we’ll do as a workaround,” she explains. “He can pick up Human Salvation 101. When the time is right, I’ll send Jess to redeem his despicable race of humans.”
“How can we help Jess?” says the smart blob.
“The planet and its inhabitants are his messy design, and they’re his to clean up! But the twelve of you can join him in this human redemption project — as his disciples.”
The three miscreant blobs in the back row perk up at this pronouncement. Instructor will transfigure them into human forms, and send them to Jess’s Earth on a class field trip!
“Your salvation trip will slow their self-annihilation, but it won’t eliminate it,” Instructor warns the class. “The humans will continue their self-destructive ways like a sacred rite. Their behavior will begin to mutate the very design components that hold their fragile planet in balance. Earth itself will react violently and decay quickly along with its inhabitants. We may need more than one salvage mission to slow down the inevitable.”
“Why don’t you just stop Jess’s creation and destruction sequence from happening altogether?”
“Even I can’t stop what is already written.”
This reasoning satisfies the smart blob and the entire class. As pragmatically intelligent beings, they do not concern themselves with what they cannot change. But they’ll look forward to that earthly field trip when the need for a tweak arises.
For now, though, the creation of Jess’s doomed Milky Way is irreversibly underway, and it’s time for the class to move on without him. “My universe awaits! Who’s ready to present their galaxy simulation?” Instructor Destructor is ready for her next victim.