DC All Access: The Science Behind FBP
In this week’s episode of “DC All Access,” Tiffany spoke with FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics writer Simon Oliver and series editor Mark Doyle about the Vertigo comic and what we can expect from Rosa, the mysterious new woman to join the team. During the interview, Oliver mentioned that all of the phenomena Adam and the rest of the Bureau must respond to and contain have a firm grounding in actual scientific theory or hypothesis.
Considering just how crazy things have gotten in the comic’s run so far, this interested us. Quantum tornadoes, bubbleverses, wandering wormholes… Who knew physics could be so much fun?
We were curious about where the science ended and the fiction began in the world of FBP, so we asked Oliver to clear a few things up for us.
Have you always had an interest in science and physics?
I guess I’ve always had a passing interest, but as a writer on the lookout for story ideas, I very quickly found myself more deeply drawn in. Especially at the moment with so much happening in the world of physics, there’s really no end of material to work from and concepts and ideas out there to spin into stories. And the more crazy and far flung the idea, dig deep enough and someone far smarter than me has already hypothesized that something far crazier could be real.
How real is the science found in the comic?
Well, I do try and start from some real concept, proved or otherwise. Then (and this is or should be the standard writer’s disclaimer), I take pretty big liberties to make a story out of it. For example the “Bubbleverse” in the first arc was a concept I read about and thought would make a good starting point for the story, but loading FBP agents in a machine and firing them into it… Well, no guesses that I made that part up.
Is the idea of a quantum tornado based on any particular theory?
Not any one theory, but a lot of the influences in the book come from membrane theory.
In my not very good explanation—there are all these rolled up dimensions out there around us, and we could be separated from another universe by only inches.
Once you start getting into that basic concept, the idea that these membranes and dimensions could have a weather-like effect on our world suddenly doesn’t seem like so much of a leap. For example one serious contender to supplant the basic Big Bang Theory is that the actual “bang” was caused by these membranes being drawn together and making contact, and this is something that just happens every few billion years, kind of like the universe hitting “reset.”
It may sound crazy, but suggesting the world was round, or wasn’t at the center of the universe, was also once considered not just crazy, but actually heresy.
Anyway that’s just one single example, out of hundreds, to show how I really have to go a long, long way, to even begin to compete with real physics on the big picture, “mind-blowing” type front.
You mentioned the Bubbleverse. So things like that actually exist?
Pure hypothesis. But by people with letters after their names, rather than exclusively by me, a man who works in a dressing gown.
Are there any other theories or ideas you expect to come into play in future issues?
One I’m working on right now deals with reality. Is reality just a mass hallucination created by all collective minds working in unison? If so, do our individual wants, needs and desires get to have influence on how this reality plays out? If they do—as there are billions of minds—our personal influence is hugely diluted, and only very occasionally do we ever feel our influence on fate. Like that feeling you get when you just know a coin toss is going to go your way.
Without giving out too many spoilers, in my FBP story an experiment creates a “quantum reality,” one where only two minds get to create a much smaller version of reality, where their inner hopes and dreams guide their quantum reality and influence fate.
And then there’s an idea Robbi stumbled on about “Quantum Suicide” that I’ll be using soon that’s…well, pretty crazy. Just try Googling that one.
FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics #6 is available from Vertigo Comics tomorrow in print or digital. If you haven’t yet read the series, you can get caught up on previous issues in the DC Comics Digital Store.