Manny Levels Home
THE THOUGHTCRETE DIMENSION
by Tony Giovia
Copyright © 2001 Tony Giovia
My name is Manny
Levels, and I am a troubleshooter for the National Science Foundation. One
mission of the NSF is to find the causes of unusual events – mainly, we
look for the equations behind the fireworks. The popular press says my work
is a like the X-Files television show, but they are wrong. I do not
investigate alien conspiracies trying to take over the world. At least, not
exactly. I'll explain.
Now, I know
you have seen the television and newspaper reports about Thoughtcrete. It was
the number one news story in April. But the media reported only part of the
story – the shiny part. Here are the high points, in case you forgot.
university was under construction in Paris. The main building, called
Mattercrete, had been completed and dedicated to Doctor Joseph Mattercrete,
the man who funded the school.
library building, called Thoughtcrete, was scheduled to begin construction a
week after the dedication of Mattercrete. Well, Thoughtcrete was built too.
Ten stories tall.
Floating 10 feet off the ground.
I was watching the story break on Fox when I got the call to get in to work.
* * * * * *
Netto is my boss
at the NSF. He has the look and feel of command when he wants to use it, but
he doesn't use it much. He has a big bald head, and today he had it polished
like a crystal ball. I saw my distorted reflection in it as I sat down in one
of his oversized, comfortable chairs.
I was used
to his stares. This one felt pretty angry. He was under the gun. "You are the
only person I know who will believe what I am about to tell you."
"I just saw it on the news. A levitating library."
Netto grunted. "This is
less than an hour old, so I don't have much for you." He tossed a thin folder
over to me. "You are on the next plane out."
background?" Here at the NSF, we don't do things that way. " So what's the
me. The Special Committee has called me twice in the last thirty minutes.
They want this investigated now. And they want you to do it.'
I nodded my
head. Some years ago I had been sent to investigate the discovery of a new
planet in our solar system. I landed on the so-called 10th planet, and met Bandwidth, its ruler. Since then, I've run into Bandwidth three more times. Right here on Earth.
I said what Netto was thinking. "They think Bandwidth is behind this."
shrugged. "They think Bandwidth is behind everything as provocative as this.
Here is what I have so far. You'll be updated with more as I get it.
fellow named Mattercrete is building a monument to himself, calling it
Mattercrete University. We have a newspaper photograph of him, taken at the
University's dedication ceremony. But we have nothing else on him, not even a
social security number. The money used to build the school came from the bank
account of the architect. Apart from that news photo, Mr. Mattercrete does
"The money came from the architect. So the architect is Mattercrete."
not. He volunteered that information in a published interview in Le Monde.
The architect is Woodland "Woody" Marble, his real name, and we do have a
record on him. He has designed a dozen projects around the world."
recognized the name. "He designed the Monte Carlo Art Museum. The one shaped
like a double helix. I've been there. Want to hear about it?"
"If it is relevant."
tell you something about his class. Each floor of the Museum has 2 wings,
North and South. The Museum takes a theme and isolates two floors for the
displays. The North wing of floor A is connected to the South wing of floor B
by moving stairs, and vice-versa. Each wing is dedicated to one form of the
theme's expression – painting, photos, video, sculpture, architecture,
music, literature, you name it. Mix and match any four." I smiled as Netto's
eyes glazed over. "Not a bad idea, but the curator needs help on the
grunted again. It wasn't his problem. He continued as if I hadn't said a
word. "Marble appears to be clean. Deposits were made to his bank by wire
transfer from a Swiss account. That is the money Marble says was used to fund
the building. I have someone working on Swiss cooperation, but no crime has
been committed. That gives us no leverage."
Committee wants you to locate Mattercrete. They want you to find out if
Mattercrete or Marble put up a building overnight, and how it was done."
Netto took out his pipe and squeezed the bowl. His knuckles turned white.
"Most of all, find out how he got a 10 story library to levitate."
I considered this for a while. "So, they want me to bring him in alive."
eyes softened, then hardened again. It's tough to make him laugh with
He responded with "You'll take the assignment?"
always my option to say no, although I never have. Besides, Netto was feeling
the pressure and it wasn't in me to let him down. I nodded.
Netto stood up and shook my hand, as was his custom.
* * * * * *
Netto is my big
boss and hands out the assignments, and Tristater is my "field controller". I
am supposed to report to him when I am on a case, but I usually don't. As a
member of the Special Committee, Tristater gets all my reports from Netto
But I do
talk to Tristater when I need help. On this one I thought I'd pick his brain,
if only to sort out my own thoughts. At his suggestion I met him at Ground
Zero, the Pentagon restaurant. The last place you want to be when it all goes
coffees and Atomic Hamburgers. Thin and energetic, Tristater still had the
honeymoon glow about him. He married a Senator's daughter about 3 weeks ago.
"You still look happy," I said.
He smiled. "It's groovy."
"Just wait." I was divorced.
I was at
the wedding. There were Senators and military big-wigs and blank-faced
government types that you think exist, but can't prove it. The Special
Committee members were there. And oh yeah, The President was in Jerusalem,
but The First Lady made an appearance.
straight – most of those people didn't show up to break bread with the
Senator. They were there for Tristater. He was, as they say, well connected.
floating Thoughtcrete building just got even more interesting," he said. "I'm
glad I'm the one to tell you."
"It's a spaceship."
that easy. It exists, it blocks the light, it casts a shadow. But birds fly
right through it.'
I wasn't sure what he meant. Based on my expression, he expanded.
solid. It is there, but it is not there. We have people poking things through
it right now."
arrived and we spent a minute preparing it. Then I continued. "You
mean, it's a projection?"
"If it is, it's a
good one. And it is not a library. It appears to be an exact duplicate of the
Mattercrete building." Tristater arched his eyebrows.
"Mattercrete II," I said.
the exact spot where the Thoughtcrete library was going to be. It has the
same windows and floors as Mattercrete. You look inside and see the same
rooms and chairs and computers that are in the Mattercrete building. But when
you try to go in the front door you fall to the ground. A helicopter flew
right into the middle of it and the pilot read the notices on the bulletin
boards. He even said there was standing water in the toilets. "
I tilted my
head back and looked upward. I wasn't sure how to think about this. All
I came up with is "But how?"
that's your job, not mine." After a time he smiled. He had an idea.
Tristater has depths that can make you feel like you just dropped off a
cliff. My guess is that he is the sharpest member of the Special Committee,
which is itself composed of the best minds in America.
"Spill it. " I leaned back.
buildings – one is named Mattercrete, the other Thoughtcrete. Must
means something. But what do Mattercrete and Thoughtcrete mean? Matter as a
school, and thoughts as a library?" It made a kind of sense, but it
wasn't the jolt I was expecting.
looked off to his left at a wall, long enough for me to look at the wall too.
His style is to hint at solutions, but never lay it out for you. It could be
very irritating. I looked at the wall but didn't see anything, not a
painting, not a window, nothing. Just white stucco. At the time, it seemed no
help at all.
"Is that it?" I asked.
lot there." The hamburgers came and we ate them. Later Tristater started into
his second cup of coffee and became conversational again. He tapped a finger
between his eyes. "So how's the hammer in your head?" he asked.
wedding, a friendly "drinking contest" broke out. I might have had one too
many tequila shooters with the groom and several people who never told me
their last names. I'm a good drinker, but no champ. After the contest the
main thing I remember is Tristater cutting in on me when I was dancing with
"I'm all better now. Or so the doctors say."
"Martha wants me to talk dirty to her now."
Martha is his new wife.
pretty much expecting this. I had screwed up, and now I had to say the right
thing. I said,
"My kinda girl."
Tristater busted out laughing.
This is why we are friends.
* * * * * *
I flew over in a
modified Army transport plane. Not comfortable, but it got me to Évreux, a
military airport outside Paris, in good time. A jeep and a
driver/interpreter, who said his name was Mr. Smith, were put at my disposal.
I don't usually get the military routine, but this was helpful because I
don't speak French and this eliminated language and orientation problems.
was wearing a Black Beret. I was careful not to offend him. He knew where to
go, and after a half hour of winery fields I could see part of the Eiffel
Tower. Twenty minutes more and I saw the tops of the twin towers Mattercrete
an enormous crowd, like Times Square on New Year's Eve. A perimeter had been
set up around both buildings, with a single entrance point. At the gate Mr.
Smith made it clear that he wanted to deal with the French military, not the
local police, and he got his way. Within minutes we were passed through.
People took my picture.
Thoughtcrete made an awesome sight. They were both the same gray color, with
alternating rows of round and square windows, Each was nominally ten stories
high, because that's how many floors there were, but it looked like the
ceilings were double height, because these were definitely twenty story
buildings. Thoughtcrete was 10 feet higher than Mattercrete – that's how
much it hovered off the ground.
"I feel like I'm dreaming", I said to Mr. Smith.
Sir." For the first time he smiled. "Good luck. Woodland Marble is in the
Mattercrete building, waiting for you. Do you want to see him now?"
"Let's take a look at Thoughtcrete first."
had been set up that allowed people to walk up to the front doors of
Thoughtcrete. Mr. Smith said a few words in French to the group of officers
at the platform's base, and after some arm waving we were allowed up.
were sliding glass, and they opened automatically when I approached. They
looked awfully real to me. I headed straight for them, and I was almost there
when Smith grabbed my arm.
"Sorry Sir, I go first if you decide to enter. I have my orders. "
answer, and instead drew his revolver and proceeded through the doors.
I stepped in right behind him.
straight to the ground, almost landing on top of him, except he hit and
rolled, while I hit and bounced. Layers of thick mats had been placed under
the doorway, and they softened the blow. It was an eerie feeling. I saw the
floor there, I put my foot on it, but there was no there … there.
A roar went
up in the crowd, with plenty of laughter. Lights flashed. Mr. Smith rushed
over, helping me up. "Are you all right, Sir?" I felt a twinge and a twang in
my left wrist, but I wasn't going to admit it to a Black Beret. "Well, that
was fun," I said instead.
up. The bottom of the building was closed off, a solid gray rectangle that
appeared to have incredible mass. Hanging just over our heads. I pointed the
way out and Mr. Smith, no fool, followed quickly.
I had the
idea that this was an advanced form of hologram, and I walked around the
entire base of the building looking for a power source. I didn't see
anything, but I didn't want to rule it out – yet.
After the tour I said "OK. Let's meet Marble."
From the outside the Mattercrete building was a duplicate of Thoughtcrete, except when I stepped inside Mattercrete I stayed inside. There was a vacant reception area in front, and behind it a hall with a line of doors on each side broken by elevator banks.
is waiting in the Administrative Offices, Sir." Mr. Smith pointed to the
small but definite chill went down my spine. Then another, larger chill
followed it. Thoughtcrete had the look and feel of a Bandwidth operation –
fantastic imagery, intense speculation, and a world-wide press ready to
pounce. One would get you five that Bandwidth was behind that door.
certainly remember that a few years back the Hubbell telescope discovered a
tenth planet in our solar system. Then a radio signal, now called the
"Message From Mentalos", was picked up from the planet. The Message said, in
effect, that if the Universe began in an explosion of energy, then everything
in the Universe is composed of energy – including ideas.
implied, among other things, that 1) the physical laws that govern
energy must also govern ideas, and 2) since energy and matter are
equivalent – meaning you can see energy as matter and matter as energy
(thanks to Einstein) – then ideas have mass and a physical existence,
expressed as geometric forms just like all other matter.
was kind of a shocker, and I was sent to Mentalos to investigate.
That's where I first met Bandwidth, the ruler of the planet. And as far as
anyone can tell, I am the only one who has ever seen Bandwidth. I should add
that "seeing" him is a tricky concept – Bandwidth has shown me that
he can assume any human appearance he chooses.
"I'll take it from here."
I was told to expect that." Then Mr. Smith saluted me. It was an unexpected,
awkward moment for me. I was out of practice but saluted back, then walked
right into the Admin Offices without knocking.
A short man
was sitting upright behind a desk, dictating a letter to a secretary who was
jotting it all down. They were the only people in the room. The man stood up
as I approached. He had white hair and a delicate, formal bearing. His brown
striped suit was perfectly tailored, and perfectly pressed. His eyes were
dull gray, without animation.
"Hello. My name is Manny Levels, and I am looking for Woodland Marble."
service." We shook hands. "Very pleased to meet you. This is my secretary,
wearing sunglasses, so dark that I couldn't see her eyes. But her lack of
eyes was offset by extremely pliable facial expressions. She ran a few at me.
I sensed an extraordinary gamut of feelings.
quietly, "May I ask who you represent? There has been a parade of people in
here today, and I would like to check you off the list."
"The National Science Foundation, United States of America."
at Maya, who made a check mark. Then she lowered her glasses and winked at me.
re-visited my spine. Bandwidth had a constant companion, Ms Terry. I don't
know if she was his wife, his advisor, his whatever. But she was always with
And her move … was a wink.
I turned to
Marble, who was already transforming into Bandwidth. He doubled in size, and
his mind, a maelstrom of lightning and ebullient geometric forms, erupted
from the top of his head and bounced across the ceiling of the room. Think of
it as a brainstorm of ideas, except these ideas possessed an actual physical
cross-shaped object assembled in the center of the turbulence. It was
composed of 8 cubes, a row of 4 followed by an additional cube attaching
itself to each face of the second cube in the row. I recognized it as a
tesseract, an unfolded 4 dimensional hypercube.
Each of the
8 cubes was a different color and began rotating – spinning – into its
neighbor, like a Rubik's Cube gone wild. The cubes spun faster and faster,
and the sight was so compelling it took a tremendous effort to take my eyes
off it. All around the tesseract smaller independent cubes distorted into
shapes I can't accurately describe, until they either found a stable design
or reverted back to a cube shape.
everything was spinning and changing at tremendous speeds, but it did not
become a blur. Instead the individual pockets of hysteria, taken as a whole,
felt like parts of an immense effervescent puzzle. It felt strong, resilient,
the show before, so to me it was spectacular. First timers would think they
were in a horror movie.
towered over me, full of force. He had the shape of a human, and just
emanated power. I could feel his presence throughout my body. I didn't
feel safe, because no way I could take him in a fight. But I didn't feel
Small talk wasn't Bandwidth's style, so I went right to it.
"That Thoughtcrete is a pretty fancy hologram."
laugh was so loud it set a French flag on the wall fluttering. "The
Thoughtcrete building is an idea. The idea of the Mattercrete building."
It sunk in
quick, but not all the way down. I worked it a little. I admit I get a
maximum thrill going head to head with Bandwidth. "You have told me that an
idea exists in many places at one time, and matter exists in only one place
at one time. Is that it?"
exist with or without material expression. The idea of 'nothingness' exists,
but it cannot be materially expressed without contradiction." Bandwidth
couldn't speak quietly. His voice boomed into the room. Any second I expected
Mr. Smith to burst in with his gun blazing.
Bandwidth went on. "In
this world material expression requires a minimum of 2 measurable dimensions
– length, width, height, duration. Even a one dimensional line must have
duration to exist."
sense to me, although I knew I'd chew it over later. Bandwidth had previously
defined ideas as representations of the "power relationships" among
interwoven energy patterns. I tried to get that in, and found a way.
Measurement is key to any relationship.
saying that Mattercrete is limited to four measurable dimensions. Does
Thoughtcrete represent another measurable dimension?"
Thoughtcrete Dimension is the library of all the relationships among all the
ideas – all the interactions initiated at Creation."
held out his hand to Ms Terry / Maya, who took it in a regal manner. They
both faced me, hand in hand. Ms Terry tossed her glasses and smiled.
let out one more bone-crushing laugh, and then he and Ms Terry just
disappeared. Gone. Now you see them, now you don't.
* * * * * *
For the record,
Mr. Smith said he did not hear a sound from the room, and he was standing
(guard?) just outside the door. He drove me back to the air base, and this
time when he saluted me I shook his hand instead.
somewhere over the Atlantic when I got the news that Thoughtcrete buildings
had appeared in Tokyo, London and New York. All of them hovering 10 feet off
the ground. Thoughtcrete was replicating itself.
plane I put together a preliminary report and sent it over a secure
connection to Netto. In the middle of writing it Tristater's "clue" suddenly
made sense to me. The walls of Ground Zero were constructed of reinforced
concrete. Tristate drew my attention to the wall to make me think of the
concreteness – the physical, energetic existence – of both Mattercrete
and Thoughtcrete. It is the common bond that joins them.
relatively calm when I entered his office. He pounded his pipe into the
ashtray with no particular aggression. No doubt the Special Committee had
reviewed my report and taken the heat off.
I mentioned the replications, which occurred after I had sent the report.
Melbourne, Moscow and Beijing to the list." When it was over (as you might
recall), there were a total of 10 Thoughtcrete buildings around the world,
before they all disappeared. Just like Woody Marble, aka Bandwidth, also
disappeared. It was not the first time Bandwidth proved to me that he has
been visiting Earth for a long time – it is a guarantee that he designed
the buildings attributed to Marble for the past 20 years.
carefully lit his pipe. Not too many people wanted his job – it is a
pressure cooker with many lids – so he pretty much did what he wanted. Like
smoke in a federal building. "So now Bandwidth is inventing a new Dimension
"He didn't say he invented it. More like it was already there, and he is
helping us see it."
"I see too
much already. Another Dimension and my brain will explode." I laughed. "Give
it to me again." He sat back.
my preliminary report. "This is how I put it together so far. Most people
would say that ideas exist, because they think with them and exchange them
with other people, and because ideas can affect behavior. But most of these
same people also say that ideas do not have a physical existence. So they are
saying that something that exists does not exist with material dimensions. "
I paused. "So they are saying that ideas exist outside the world of matter.
Bandwidth calls that place Thoughtcrete.
"A lot of
people would also say that the three dimensions – length, width and height
– the three perpendicular directions – require a fourth dimension, time.
Bandwidth defined time as Duration. I think he meant that without time, there
is no duration – and therefore no physical existence for the first 3
nodded. "The ability to measure material objects gives them physical
existence." Netto thought it over. "Maybe Thoughtcrete is the Fifth
point. But Bandwidth did not get into the numbering game. He said
Thoughtcrete is composed purely of idea relationships. Some subset of those
relationships have a Mattercrete existence, existing in one place at one
time." I waited for Netto to respond, but he didn't.
"If you add
the concept that ideas are composed of energy, which is the Message From
Mentalos, you come up with something like this. Bandwidth is saying that
Thoughtcrete is the Dimension of pure ideas, ideas composed of energy and
constructed according to the laws of energy. Ideas can exist with or without
material – 2 or 3 or 4 dimensional, one place, one time – expression.
Ideas do not need to have a 2 or 3 or 4 dimensional existence to belong to
Thoughtcrete. They exist there anyway."
closed his eyes and cupped the bowl of his pipe. When he came back he
said "Not unlike Plato's Theory of Ideas. The universe is ordered
according to eternal laws and forms, embodied by Ideas. Neo-Platonists called
the collected ideas The Logos – the Mind of God. Logos is pure truth –
pure logical design that exists independently of matter. All ideas already
exist – we just reveal them."
more sturdy than surprising, but he has surprises in him. Like that one. I
grunted. "Pythagoras pre-dated Plato. He said geometry is the secret
structure of the world – as did Albert Einstein 2400 years later. The
relationships of an object's parts defined it. Form is function and
identity." Netto's eyes narrowed. "Think you're the only smart guy here?"
I liked to think so, in spite of all the evidence. So I said, "Yeah."
was on my mind, so I mentioned it. "By the way, who is this Mr. Smith? He
said he had orders."
Special Committee assigned him, and told me after the fact. All I can say is
that the Committee didn't skimp."
I left it at that.
puffed a string of smoke circles. We both watched them form, linger, then
dissipate. The smell was sweet burnt vanilla. "So Thoughtcrete is the
Dimension of Ideas."
breaking it out. Mattercrete distinguished from Thoughtcrete. Everything is
composed of energy, but Mattercrete is energy patterns that exist in one
place at one time. Ideas can exist in many places simultaneously." I thought
of the multiple Thoughtcrete buildings springing up around the globe.
back and relaxed. "Bandwidth is using energy as the bridge between
Mattercrete and Thoughtcrete. I like the angle." His eyes drifted up. "This
feels like something", he said after a while.
There was a
beep, and Netto looked at his computer screen. He clicked a couple of times,
then said "An official statement from the Chinese. The Thoughtcrete building
in Beijing has been declared an enemy of the people. Public discussion of the
building has been banned. Over 200 arrests in the first hour of
say anything. Netto, manager of men and women who search for the practical in
the possible, sometimes at great risk, grunted. Then he took a long slow draw
on his pipe, igniting the bowl with fiery embers.
Manny Levels Home