Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Crystal Nights - Greg Egan


Number of words : 9800
Percent of complex words : 11.5
Average syllables per word : 1.6
Average words per sentence : 20.7


Fog : 12.9
Flesch : 54.4
Flesch-Kincaid : 10.8


Daniel Cliff

A billionaire that wants to do AI research.

Julie Denghani

The best AI researcher of her generation.

Lucien Crace

A scientist for Cliff. Has a doctorate in genetic programming.

Sunil Gupta

Multimedia search engine entrepreneur.

Angela Lindstrom

Creator of AfterLife dying client avatar software.


A Phite who communicates with Daniel and gives him insight.


FLOPS rating

Measure of processing power for a computer.

Lattice QCD

Is a well established non-perturbative approach to solving the quantum chromodynamics theory of quarks and gluons.


Artificial Intelligence.


A photonic optical computer. Extremely expensive.

Thought Police

Phite monitoring software.

The Play Pen

Vacuum chamber containing an atomic force microscope with fifty thousand independently movable tips, arrays of solid-state lasers and photodetectors, and thousands of micro-wells stocked with samples of all the stable chemical elements.


Pascal's Wager

The name given to an argument due to Blaise Pascal for believing, or for at least taking steps to believe, in God.

Project Sapphire

Term for the Phite world experiment.

Higgs field

Theoretical field that permeates space and endows all elementary subatomic particles with mass through its interactions with them. Discovered by the Phites.

Big Bang

Universe creation event.

Matrioshka Brain

Hypothetical megastructure, based on the Dyson sphere, of immense computational capacity.


Made Cliff his first billion in Social Networking for infants.

Where Crace made his money. Web tech that finds reasons to eat bad stuff.


An international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of science and technology to improve human mental and physical characteristics and capacities.

Lunar Project

Phite research operation.



A created race, crablike, used in Cliff's evolutionary intelligence experiments.


Daniel Cliff is a technology billionaire who wants a research advantage. He thinks conventional AI research is a dead end, and decides to embark on a genetic programming evolution experiment. Thanks to his investment in advanced supercomputing technology he has the poewr to run these cycles of life far faster than time passes in the real world.

Various successes and failures happen, but he pushes his creations to outstrip humans in the area of physics. They discover the Higgs field and bootstrap themselves out of their computing prison, leaving him severely burned in the process, with his rivals catching up to him.

5 out of 5

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