By: Michael Mo
In the summer of 2017, I steeped myself in Liu Ci Xin’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy. I blasted through the 302-page Three-Body Problem in one sitting and soon finished Dark Forest and Death’s End in less than a week’s time. In short, Remembrance of Earth’s Past describes the series of events that followed humanity’s first contact with an alien civilization in an alternate reality (In case you are wondering about the fate of humanity, simply refer to the title of the trilogy and the title of the 3rd book for hints). During those summer months, I thought not of the golden sand of White Pine Beach but the advancement of fundamental physics. I worried not about the wildfires of the Interiors but the possible annihilation of humanity. That summer, I formulated my ultimate goal in life: to contribute to the scientific advancement of human civilization.
A key element that exists throughout the trilogy is the sophon, a subatomic particle that could monitor all activities and “lock” fundamental science experiments on earth. The idea of one particle devasting all sciences on earth had utterly startled my thinking and given me nightmares. What if this were true? I often wondered. Without valid experiments, not even the brightest scientists could confirm new theories; we would be trapped indefinitely. This idea has consolidated my devotion to science because science is our only survival kit in this menacing universe.
Dark Forest Theory
Another main element of this trilogy is the Dark Forest Theory. What this essentially means is that a civilization must attempt to wipe out all other civilizations they come across to ensure their survival. Of course, this is just a fictional idea based more on human philosophy whether than scientific discoveries. Nevertheless, it makes me think about our position in space, our vulnerability in space. Will the aliens really appreciate Johnny B. Goode when they capture Voyager 1? Or will they treat it as a threat to their survival instead and come eliminate humanity? According to Liu’s Dark Forest Theory, a civilization would wipe out all civilizations it comes in contact with, primitive and advanced alike, in case these civilizations experience technology explosions and become its actual enemies. Humanity is a naive child in space; to avoid calamity, it must learn to grow up.