MJD 58,866

This entry is part 4 of 21 in the series Captain's Log

An idea can leak to the extent it has a name that is meaningful within a larger context. A name is, in a sense, a key that unlocks the significance of the contents of the interior of the named idea in terms of signifiers that exist in the exterior environment. But a name also binds and reshapes a new idea to forms that already exist, via metaphor, symmetries, isomorphisms, or rhymes. What one might call idea-socialization mechanisms.

In the Rick and Morty multiverse, our universe is “Dimension C-137 on the Central Finite Curve”. The logic of the vaguely topological sounding pseudomath name appears to have eluded fans so far. It is a name that only makes sense at the multiverse level, where the context of reference is a plurality of universes. Our universe wouldn’t even need a meaningless number without a multiverse reference context. But a number is a rather empty context in a sense: one that contains nothing but reference pointers to subordinate universes. It’s a pure addressing layer, with all actual content and structure, including distinguishable Ricks and Mortys, existing at the leaf level. The alphanumeric designator vaguely suggests two dimensions, and “central finite curve” suggests some sort of manifold within a higher-dimensional space of possibilities (Reddit suspects it is the subset of realities where Ricks exist).

The same kind of logic also applies to our own non-fictional universe. In my lifetime, I’ve seen the address of our home galaxy acquire a new level of named referencing. The Milky Way is no longer just part of the “local group” and “Virgo supercluster” (now an appendage). We are now part of the larger Laniakea supercluster, which puts us in some meaningful patterns of weirdly synchronized galactic rotations created by large-scale structures of hydrogen and dark matter apparently.

To go from meaningless reference number to meaningful name is to have an idea leak from its original container and enter into a condition of entanglement with neighboring realities. The synchronization of galactic rotations within the Laniakea supercluster, due to large-scale structure, is a leakage of the idea of the Milky Way galaxy, a sort of broader smearing of its identity. And with it, a smearing of your identity.

You, individually, are rotating in synchronization with galaxies 120 million lightyears away.

If you, like me, once wrote down your full cosmic address as a kid, with your name on the first line and “Virgo Supercluster” as the last line, that address now has a new last line, and it actually says something meaningful about you: how you are rotating.

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About Venkatesh Rao

Venkat is the founder and editor-in-chief of ribbonfarm. Follow him on Twitter


  1. Let’s face it. History ended with the Big Bang. Since then there are still events but they are meaningless droplets in a sea of post-historic boredom.

  2. The farce of Hegelian history. The Girondists won one round against the Jacobins and their regimes in 1989. The blow of the Jacobins shouldn’t happen again. Now 30 years later, they are stronger than ever, they are woke and green, they own international institutions and the hearts and minds of industry leaders, who act in guilty conscience and are addicted to cheap and interest-free money. Once again we are waiting for something to happen: a reactionary, bourgeois revolution or a great purge that destroys the bourgeois middle class and their false consciousness once and for all.

  3. dilbert dogbert says

    Made me think of medical conditions we have names for but no cures for. I guess naming is the start of the process of discovering a cure. Hope.

  4. Jerome A Helffrich says

    Sounds like, based on your choice of adjectives, that you are a scientist, probably physics or astrophysics? Anyways, I enjoyed reading this. I think Dimension C-137 may be a reference to the fine structure constant.