3 Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem (The Three-Body Problem Series Book 1)

Liu, Cixin
Citation (APA): Liu, C. (2014). The Three-Body Problem (The Three-Body Problem Series Book 1) [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from Amazon.com

Part I: Silent Spring

Highlight (yellow) - 2. Silent Spring > Page 27
If this was so, then how many other acts of humankind that had seemed normal or even righteous were, in reality, evil? As she continued to mull over these thoughts, a deduction made her shudder: Is it possible that the relationship between humanity and evil is similar to the relationship between the ocean and an iceberg floating on its surface? Both the ocean and the iceberg are made of the same material. That the iceberg seems separate is only because it is in a different form. In reality, it is but a part of the vast ocean.… It was impossible to expect a moral awakening from humankind itself, just like it was impossible to expect humans to lift off the earth by pulling up on their own hair. To achieve moral awakening required a force outside the human race. This thought determined the entire direction of Ye’s life.
Note - 2. Silent Spring > Page 28
This passage refers to Silent Spring a book presenting pesticides as evil

Part II: Three Body

Highlight (yellow) - 4. The Frontiers of Science > Page 61
“I have no direct connection with the Frontiers of Science, but it is famous in academia. Its core goal is a response to the following: Since the second half of the twentieth century, physics has gradually lost the concision and simplicity of its classical theories. Modern theoretical models have become more and more complex, vague, and uncertain. Experimental verification has become more difficult as well. This is a sign that the forefront of physics research seems to be hitting a wall. “Members of the Frontiers of Science want to attempt a new way of thinking. To put it simply, they want to use the methods of science to discover the limits of science, to try to find out if there is a limit to how deeply and precisely science can know nature— a boundary beyond which science cannot go. The development of modern physics seems to suggest that such a line has been touched.”
Highlight (yellow) - 7. Three Body: King Wen of Zhou and the Long Night > Page 100
King Wen turned out to be right. The yearned- for Stable Era soon began. Sunrise and sunset began to follow a pattern. A day- night cycle began to stabilize around eighteen hours. The orderly alternation of day and night made the weather warm and mild. “How long does a Stable Era last?” Wang asked. “As short as a day or as long as a century. No one can predict how long one will last.” King Wen sat on the sandglass, lifting his head to gaze at the noonday sun. “According to historical records, the Western Zhou Dynasty experienced a Stable Era lasting two centuries. How lucky to be born during such a time!” “Then how long does a Chaotic Era last?” “I already told you. Other than Stable Eras, all other times belong to Chaotic Eras. Each of them takes up the time not occupied by the other.” “So, this is a world in which there are no patterns?” “Yes. Civilization can only develop in the mild climate of Stable Eras. Most of the time, humankind must collectively dehydrate and be stored. When a long Stable Era arrives, they collectively revive through rehydration. Then they proceed to build and produce.”
Bookmark - 8. Ye Wenjie > Page 111
Highlight (pink) - 8. Ye Wenjie > Page 112
He remembered taking a class in information theory as a third- year student in college. The professor had put up two pictures: One was the famous Song Dynasty painting Along the River During the Qingming Festival, full of fine, rich details; the other was a photograph of the sky on a sunny day, the deep blue expanse broken only by a wisp of cloud that one couldn’t even be sure was there. The professor asked the class which picture contained more information. The answer was that the photograph’s information content— its entropy— exceeded the painting’s by one or two orders of magnitude. Three Body was the same. Its enormous information content was hidden deep. Wang could feel it, but he could not articulate it. He suddenly understood that the makers of Three Body took the exact opposite of the approach taken by designers of other games. Normally, game designers tried to display as much information as possible to increase the sense of realism. But Three Body’s designers worked to compress the information content to disguise a more complex reality, just like that seemingly empty photograph of the sky.
Highlight (yellow) - 8. Ye Wenjie > Page 116
failed. Her world was too simple, and all she had were ethereal theories. When they collapsed, she had nothing to lean on to keep on living.”
Highlight (yellow) - 8. Ye Wenjie > Page 116
“But she was a woman. A woman should be like water, able to flow over and around anything.”
Highlight (yellow) - 10. Da Shi > Page 135
But I can sense the plan, a very comprehensive, intricate plan: damage scientific research installations, kill scientists, drive scientists like you crazy and make you commit suicide— but the main goal is to misdirect your thoughts until you’re even more foolish than ordinary people.” “Your last statement is really perceptive.” “At the same time, they want to ruin science’s reputation in society. Of course some people have always engaged in anti- science activities, but now it’s coordinated.” “I believe it.” “Now you believe me. So many of you scientific elites couldn’t figure it out, and I, having gone only to vocational school, had the answer? Ha! After I explained my theory, the scholars and my bosses all ridiculed it.” “If you had told me your theory back then, I’m sure I wouldn’t have laughed at you. Take those frauds who practice pseudoscience— do you know who they’re most afraid of?” “Scientists, of course.” “No. Many of the best scientists can be fooled by pseudoscience and sometimes devote their lives to it. But pseudoscience is afraid of one particular type of people who are very hard to fool: stage magicians. In fact, many pseudoscientific hoaxes were exposed by stage magicians. Compared to the bookworms of the scientific world, your experience as a cop makes you far more likely to perceive such a large- scale conspiracy.”
Highlight (yellow) - 10. Da Shi > Page 137
“You! Scientists! The odd thing is that the less practical your research is, the more they’re afraid of you— like abstract theories, the kind of thing Yang Dong worked on. They are more frightened of such work than you are of the universe winking at you. That’s why they’re so ruthless. If killing you would solve the problem, you’d all be dead by now. But the most effective technique remains disrupting your thoughts. When a scientist dies, another will take his place. But if his thoughts are confused, then science is over.” “You’re saying they’re afraid of fundamental science?” “Yes, fundamental science.”
Bookmark - 13. Red Coast III > Page 165
Highlight (yellow) - 13. Red Coast III > Page 168
[Instructions from Central Leadership] Others have already sent their messages out into space. It’s dangerous if extraterrestrials only hear their voices. We should speak up as well. Only then will they get a complete picture of human society. It’s not possible to get the truth by only listening to one side. We must make this happen, and quickly.
Note - 13. Red Coast III > Page 168
This is such a human-centric, almost petty, zero sum appreciation of what it would mean if you contacted extra-terrestrials. The hubris of thinking they will care about our tribalism. (kinda reminds me of a black comedien who jokes about blacks mistrusting all white peope and not being interested in discriminating good ones from bad ones)
Highlight (yellow) - 13. Red Coast III > Page 170
The message will be carefully vetted by a multidisciplinary review to ensure that it will not give away the Earth’s coordinates relative to the Milky Way. Among the three channels, transmission at the higher- frequency 12,000 MHz and 22,000 MHz channels should be minimized to reduce the likelihood that the source of transmission may be precisely ascertained.
Highlight (yellow) - 14. Red Coast IV > Page 176
This was the theory of “contact as symbol” proposed by sociologist Bill Mathers of RAND Corporation in his book, The 100,000- Light- Year Iron Curtain: SETI Sociology. Mathers believed that contact with an alien civilization is only a symbol or a switch. Regardless of the content of the encounter, the results would be the same. Suppose that the nature of the contact is such that only the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence is confirmed, with no other substantive information— what Mathers called elementary contact. The impact would be magnified by the lens of human mass psychology and culture until it resulted in huge, substantive influences on the progress of civilization. If such contact were monopolized by one country or political force, the significance would be comparable to an overwhelming advantage in economic and military power.
Highlight (yellow) - 15. Three Body: Copernicus, Universal Football, and Tri-Solar Day > Page 184
“It’s actually pretty simple. The reason why the sun’s motion seems patternless is because our world has three suns. Under the influence of their mutually perturbing gravitational attraction, their movements are unpredictable— the three- body problem. When our planet revolves around one of the suns in a stable orbit, that’s a Stable Era. When one or more of the other suns move within a certain distance, their gravitational pull will snatch the planet away from the sun it’s orbiting, causing it to wander unstably through the gravitational fields of the three suns. That’s a Chaotic Era. After an uncertain amount of time, our planet is once again pulled into a temporary orbit and another Stable Era begins. This is a football game at the scale of the universe. The players are the three suns, and our planet is the football.”
Highlight (yellow) - 16. The Three-Body Problem > Page 194
Back then, I thought of one thing: Have you heard of the Monte Carlo method? Ah, it’s a computer algorithm often used for calculating the area of irregular shapes. Specifically, the software puts the figure of interest in a figure of known area, such as a circle, and randomly strikes it with many tiny balls, never targeting the same spot twice. After a large number of balls, the proportion of balls that fall within the irregular shape compared to the total number of balls used to hit the circle will yield the area of the shape. Of course, the smaller the balls used, the more accurate the result. Although the method is simple, it shows how, mathematically, random brute force can overcome precise logic. It’s a numerical approach that uses quantity to derive quality. This is my strategy for solving the three- body problem. I study the system moment by moment. At each moment, the spheres’ motion vectors can combine in infinite ways. I treat each combination like a life form. The key is to set up some rules: which combinations of motion vectors are “healthy” and “beneficial,” and which combinations are “detrimental” and “harmful.” The former receive a survival advantage while the latter are disfavored. The computation proceeds by eliminating the disadvantaged and preserving the advantaged. The final combination that survives is the correct prediction for the system’s next configuration, the next moment in time. “It’s an evolutionary algorithm,” Wang said.
Bookmark - 17. Three Body: Newton, Von Neumann, the First Emperor, and Tri-Solar Syzygy > Page 207
Bookmark - 17. Three Body: Newton, Von Neumann, the First Emperor, and Tri-Solar Syzygy > Page 208
Highlight (yellow) - 17. Three Body: Newton, Von Neumann, the First Emperor, and Tri-Solar Syzygy > Page 217
“This is really interesting,” Qin Shi Huang said, pointing to the spectacular sight. “Each individual’s behavior is so simple, yet together, they can produce such a complex, great whole! Europeans criticize me for my tyrannical rule, claiming that I suppress creativity. But in reality, a large number of men yoked by severe discipline can also produce great wisdom when bound together as one.”
Bookmark - 18. Meet-up > Page 226
Highlight (yellow) - 18. Meet-up > Page 229
What is your impression of the Aztecs?”“Dark and bloody,” the author said. “Blood-drenched pyramids lit by insidious fires seen through dark forests. Those are my impressions.” The philosopher nodded. “Very good. Then try to imagine: If the Spanish Conquistadors did not intervene, what would have been the influence of that civilization on human history?”“You’re calling black white and white black,” the software company vice president said. “The Conquistadors who invaded the Americas were nothing more than murderers and robbers.”“Even so, at least they prevented the Aztecs from developing without bound, turning the Americas into a bloody, dark great empire. Then civilization as we know it wouldn’t have appeared in the Americas, and democracy wouldn’t have thrived until much later. Indeed, maybe they wouldn’t have appeared at all. This is the key to the question: No matter what the Trisolarans are like, their arrival will be good news for the terminally ill human race.”“But have you thought through the fact that the Aztecs were completely destroyed by the Western invaders?” the power company executive asked. He looked around, as though seeing these people for the first time. “Your thoughts are very dangerous.”
Bookmark - 19. Three Body: Einstein, the Pendulum Monument, and the Great Rip > Page 231

Part III: Sunset for Humanity

Bookmark - 21. Rebels of Earth > Page 249
Bookmark - 22. Red Coast V > Page 257
Highlight (yellow) - 23. Red Coast VI > Page 271
She didn’t find him unpleasant, but her heart was like ashes from which the flame of love could no longer be lit.
Highlight (yellow) - 23. Red Coast VI > Page 271
As she pondered human nature, Ye was faced with an ultimate loss of purpose and sank into another spiritual crisis. She had once been an idealist who needed to give all her talent to a great goal, but now she realized that all that she had done was meaningless, and the future could not have any meaningful pursuits, either. As this mental state persisted, she gradually felt more and more alienated from the world. She didn’t belong. The sense of wandering in the spiritual wilderness tormented her.
Highlight (yellow) - 26. No One Repents > Page 298
This was part of Shao’s long-term plan. She knew that the chaos in society could not last long. The young rebels who were attacking everything in sight had no experience in managing a country. Sooner or later, the persecuted and sidelined old cadres would be back in power.
Bookmark - 26. No One Repents > Page 298
Highlight (yellow) - 27. Evans > Page 307
“Pan-Species Communism. It’s an ideology I invented. Or maybe you can call it a faith. Its core belief is that all species on Earth are created equal.”“That is an impractical ideal. Our crops are also living species. If humans are to survive, that kind of equality is impossible.”“Slave owners must also have thought that about their slaves in the distant past. And don’t forget technology—there will be a day when humanity can manufacture food. We should lay down the ideological and theoretical foundation long before that. Indeed, Pan-Species Communism is a natural continuation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The French Revolution was two hundred years ago, and we haven’t even taken a step beyond that. From this we can see the hypocrisy and selfishness of the human race.”
Note - 27. Evans > Page 308
First time in the book i got the feeling that the 3 bodies are: Capitalism Environmentalism Communism
Highlight (yellow) - 27. Evans > Page 311
The focus of Christianity is Man. Even though all the species were placed into Noah’s Ark, other species were never given the same status as humans. But Buddhism is focused on saving all life. That was why I came to the East. But … it’s obvious now that everywhere is the same.”“Yes, that’s true. Everywhere, people are the same.”
Highlight (pink) - 29. The Earth-Trisolaris Movement > Page 317
The most surprising aspect of the Earth-Trisolaris Movement was that so many people had abandoned all hope in human civilization, hated and were willing to betray their own species, and even cherished as their highest ideal the elimination of the entire human race, including themselves and their children. The ETO was called an organization of spiritual nobles. Most members came from the highly educated classes, and many were elites of the political and financial spheres. The ETO had once tried to develop membership among the common people, but these efforts all failed. The ETO concluded that the common people did not seem to have the comprehensive and deep understanding of the highly educated about the dark side of humanity. More importantly, because their thoughts were not as deeply influenced by modern science and philosophy, they still felt an overwhelming, instinctual identification with their own species. To betray the human race as a whole was unimaginable for them. But intellectual elites were different: Most of them had already begun to consider issues from a perspective outside the human race. Human civilization had finally given birth to a strong force of alienation.
Highlight (yellow) - 29. The Earth-Trisolaris Movement > Page 318
The Adventist group was the purest, most fundamentalist strand of the ETO, comprised mainly of believers in Evans’s Pan-Species Communism. They had completely given up hope in human nature. This despair began with the mass extinctions of the Earth’s species caused by modern civilization. Later, other Adventists based their hatred of the human race on other foundations, not limited to issues such as the environment or warfare. Some raised their hatred to very abstract, philosophical levels. Unlike how they would be imagined later, most of them were realists, and did not place too much hope in the alien civilization they served either. Their betrayal was based only on their despair and hatred of the human race. Mike Evans gave the Adventists their motto: We don’t know what extraterrestrial civilization is like, but we know humanity.
Highlight (yellow) - 29. The Earth-Trisolaris Movement > Page 319
A civilization outside the human race would doubtlessly greatly attract the highly educated classes, and it was easy for them to develop many beautiful fantasies about such a civilization. The human race was a naïve species, and the attraction posed by a more advanced alien civilization was almost irresistible. To make an imperfect analogy: Human civilization was like a young, unworldly person walking alone across the desert of the universe, who has found out about the existence of a potential lover. Though the person could not see the potential lover’s face or figure, the knowledge that the other person existed somewhere in the distance created lovely fantasies about the potential lover that spread like wildfire. Gradually, as fantasies about that distant civilization grew more and more elaborate, the Redemptionists developed spiritual feelings toward Trisolaran civilization. Alpha Centauri became Mount Olympus in space, the dwelling place of the gods; and so the Trisolaran religion— which really had nothing to do with religion on Trisolaris— was born. Unlike other human religions, they worshipped something that truly existed. Also unlike other human religions, it was the Lord who was in crisis, and the duty of salvation fell on the shoulders of the believer. The main path of spreading Trisolaran culture to society was the Three Body game.
Highlight (yellow) - 29. The Earth-Trisolaris Movement > Page 319
Using a shell that drew elements from human society and history, the game explained the culture and history of Trisolaris, thus avoiding alienating beginners. Once a player had advanced to a certain level and had begun to appreciate Trisolaran civilization, the ETO would establish contact, examine the player’s sympathies, and finally recruit those who passed the tests to be members of the ETO. But Three Body didn’t attract much notice, because the game required too much background knowledge and in-depth thinking, and most young players didn’t have the patience or skill to discover the shocking truth beneath its apparently common surface. Those who were attracted by it were still mostly intellectuals. Most of those who became Redemptionists got to know Trisolaran civilization through the Three Body game, and so Three Body could be said to be the cradle of the Redemptionists.
Highlight (yellow) - 29. The Earth-Trisolaris Movement > Page 320
most of them believed that the ideal solution would be to find a way to allow the Lord to continue to live in the Trisolaris stellar system and avoid the invasion of the Earth. Naïvely, they believed that solving the three-body problem would achieve this goal, saving both Trisolaris and the Earth
Highlight (yellow) - 29. The Earth-Trisolaris Movement > Page 322
The ETO members’ alienation developed variously from the faults of human civilization itself, the yearning and adoration for a more advanced civilization, and the strong desire for one’s descendants to survive that final war. These three powerful motives propelled the ETO movement to develop rapidly.
Highlight (yellow) - 30. Two Protons > Page 324
INTERROGATOR: Let’s look at the current composition of the ETO. The Adventists would like to destroy the human race by means of an alien power; the Redemptionists worship the alien civilization as a god; the Survivors wish to betray other humans to buy their own survival. None of these is in line with your original ideal of using the alien civilization as a way to reform humanity. YE: I started the fire, but I couldn’t control how it burnt.
Highlight (yellow) - 30. Two Protons > Page 324
INTERROGATOR: You had a plan to eliminate the Adventists from within the ETO, and you even began to implement this plan. But Judgment Day is the core base and command center for the Adventists, and Mike Evans and other Adventist leaders usually reside there. Why didn’t you attack the ship first? Most of the armed forces of the Redemptionists are loyal to you, and you should have enough firepower to sink it or capture it. YE: It’s because of the messages from the Lord that they intercepted. All those messages are stored in the Second Red Coast Base, on some computer on Judgment Day. If we attacked that ship, the Adventists could erase all the messages when they realized that loss was imminent. Those messages are too important for us to risk losing them. For Redemptionists, losing those messages would be as if Christians lost the Bible or Muslims lost the Koran. I think you are faced with the same problem. The Adventists are holding the Lord’s messages hostage, and that is why Judgment Day has remained unmolested so far.
Highlight (yellow) - 30. Two Protons > Page 326
YE: (laughs) You also said “almost.” That’s the limit of Trisolaran power. They can only accelerate something as small as a proton to near the speed of light. So over a distance of four light-years, they can only send two protons. INTERROGATOR: At the macroscopic level, two protons are nothing. Even a single cilium on a bacterium would include several billion protons. What’s the point? YE: They’re a lock. INTERROGATOR: A lock? What are they locking? YE: They are sealing off the progress of human science. Because of the existence of these two protons, humanity will not be able to make any important scientific developments during the four and a half centuries until the arrival of the Trisolaran Fleet. Evans once said that the day of arrival of the two protons was also the day that human science died.
Bookmark - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 347
Highlight (yellow) - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 347
each listening post had several hundred listeners, but as technology advanced, there was only one person on duty. Being a listener was a humble career. Though they lived in listening posts that were kept at a constant temperature, with support systems that guaranteed their survival without requiring them to dehydrate during Chaotic Eras, they also had to live their lives within the narrow confines of these tiny spaces. The amount of joy they got from Stable Eras was far less than others got.
Note - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 347
Who could this be an analogy for today? Low risk, low reward existence but important. Heroic except for rhe personality to do it doesn't feel the cost of the heroism (they are harmonized or well-matched to the job)
Highlight (yellow) - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 348
In the deep silence of midnight, the universe revealed itself to its listeners as a vast desolation. What the listener of Post 1379 disliked the most was seeing the waves that slowly crawled across the display, a visual record of the meaningless noise the listening post picked up from space. He felt this interminable wave was an abstract view of the universe: one end connected to the endless past, the other to the endless future, and in the middle only the ups and downs of random chance—without life, without pattern, the peaks and valleys at different heights like uneven grains of sand, the whole curve like a one-dimensional desert made of all the grains of sand lined up in a row: lonely, desolate, so long that it was intolerable. You could follow it and go forward or backward as long as you liked, but you’d never find the end.
Note - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 348
The mirror image of what Ye felt listening on earth!
Highlight (yellow) - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 348
On this day, however, the listener saw something odd when he glanced at the waveform display. Even experts had a hard time telling with the naked eye whether a waveform carried information. But the listener was so familiar with the noise of the universe that he could tell that the wave that now moved in front of his eyes had something extra. The thin curve, rising and falling, seemed to possess a soul. He was certain that the radio signal before him had been modulated by intelligence. He rushed in front of another terminal and checked the computer’s rating of the signal’s recognizability: a Red 10. Before this, no radio signal received by the listening post had ever garnered a recognizability rating above a Blue 2. A Red rating meant the likelihood that the transmission contained intelligent information was greater than 90 percent. A rating of Red 10 meant the received transmission contained a self-interpreting coding system! The deciphering computer worked at full power. Still caught up by the dizzying excitement and confusion, the listener stared at the waveform display. Information continued to stream from the universe into the antenna. Because of the self-interpreting code, the computer was able to perform real-time translation, and the message began to show up immediately. The listener opened the resulting document, and, for the first time, a Trisolaran read a message from another world.
Highlight (yellow) - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 352
The first report did not cause him to leap up in ecstasy, and the second report did not cause him to sink into depression. He wasn’t even angry or resentful. All of these emotions—and other emotions, such as fear, sorrow, happiness, and appreciation of beauty—were things that the Trisolaran civilization strove to avoid and eliminate. Such emotions caused the individual and society to be weak spiritually and did not help with survival in the harsh environment of this world. The mental states that Trisolarans needed were calmness and numbness. The history of the past two hundred-some cycles of civilization proved that civilizations that relied on these two states as their spiritual core were the most capable of survival.
Highlight (yellow) - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 353
But there is another reason for destroying Earth civilization. They’re also a warlike race. Very dangerous. If we try to coexist with them on the same planet, they will shortly learn our technology. Continuing in that state would allow neither civilization to thrive. Let me ask you: You wish to be the savior of the Earth, but do you not feel any sense of responsibility for your own race?”“I am tired of Trisolaris. We have nothing in our lives and spirit except the fight for survival.”
Highlight (yellow) - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 353
“There’s nothing wrong, of course. Existence is the premise for everything else. But, Princeps, please examine our lives: Everything is devoted to survival. To permit the survival of the civilization as a whole, there is almost no respect for the individual. Someone who can no longer work is put to death. Trisolaran society exists under a state of extreme authoritarianism. The law has only two outcomes: The guilty are put to death, and the not guilty are released. For me, the most intolerable aspects are the spiritual monotony and desiccation. Anything that can lead to spiritual weakness is declared evil. We have no literature, no art, no pursuit of beauty and enjoyment. We cannot even speak of love.… Princeps, is there meaning to such a life?”
Highlight (yellow) - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 353
“The kind of civilization you yearn for once existed on Trisolaris, too. They had free, democratic societies, and they left behind rich cultural legacies. You know barely anything about them. Most details have been sealed away and forbidden from view. But in all the cycles of Trisolaran civilization, this type of civilization was the weakest and most short-lived. A modest Chaotic Era disaster was enough to extinguish them. Look again at the Earth civilization that you wish to save. A society born and bred in the eternal spring of a beautiful hothouse would not be able to survive even a million Trisolaran hours if it were transplanted here.”“That flower may be delicate, but it possesses peerless splendor. She enjoys freedom and beauty in the ease of paradise.”
Highlight (yellow) - 32. Trisolaris: The Listener > Page 354
I’m an ordinary man living at the bottom of society. No one would pay any attention to me. My life is spent alone, without wealth, without status, without love, and without hope. If I can save a distant, beautiful world that I have fallen in love with, then my life has not been wasted. Of course, Princeps, this also gave me a chance to see you. If I had not done this, a man like me could only ever hope to admire you on TV. So permit me to express myself as honored.”“You’re guilty beyond doubt. You’re the greatest criminal in all the cycles of Trisolaran civilization. But now we make an exception in Trisolaran law: You’re free to go.”“Why?”“For you, dehydration followed by burning is not even remotely adequate as punishment. You’re old, and you will not live to see the final destruction of Earth civilization. But I will at least make sure that you know that you cannot save her. I want to let you live until the day she loses all hope.
Highlight (yellow) - 33. Trisolaris: Sophon > Page 358
Let’s observe the facts: Humans took more than a hundred thousand Earth years to progress from the Hunter-Gatherer Age to the Agricultural Age. To get from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age took a few thousand Earth years. But to go from the Industrial Age to the Atomic Age took only two hundred Earth years. Thereafter, in only a few Earth decades, they entered the Information Age. This civilization possesses the terrifying ability to accelerate their progress. “On Trisolaris, of the more than two hundred civilizations, including our own, none has ever experienced such accelerating development. The progress of science and technology in all Trisolaran civilizations has been at a constant or decelerating pace. In our world, each technology age requires approximately the same amount of time for steady, slow development.”
Highlight (yellow) - 33. Trisolaris: Sophon > Page 359
The princeps said, “What we must do next is contain the progress of science on Earth. Luckily, as soon as we received the first messages from Earth, we began to develop plans to do so. As of now, we’ve discovered a favorable condition for realizing these plans: The response we just received was sent by an Earth traitor. Thus, we have reason to believe that there are many alienated forces within Earth civilization, and we must exploit such forces to the fullest.”“Princeps, that is not at all easy. We have but a thin thread of communication with the Earth. It takes more than eighty thousand hours to complete an exchange.”“But remember that, like us, the knowledge that there are extraterrestrial civilizations will shock all of Earth society and leave profound marks. We have reason to believe that the alienated forces within Earth civilization will coalesce and grow.”“What can they do? Sabotage?”“Given a time gap of forty thousand hours, the strategic value of any traditional tactics of war or terror is insignificant, and they can recover from them. To effectively contain a civilization’s development and disarm it across such a long span of time, there is only one way: kill its science.”
Highlight (yellow) - 33. Trisolaris: Sophon > Page 360
The science consul said, “The plan focuses on emphasizing the negative environmental effects of scientific development and showing signs of supernatural power to the population of Earth. In addition to highlighting the negative effects of progress, we’ll also attempt to use a series of ‘miracles’ to construct an illusory universe that cannot be explained by the logic of science. After these illusions have been maintained for some time, it’s possible that Trisolaran civilization may become a target of religious worship there. Then, unscientific ways of thinking will dominate scientific thinking among human intellectuals, and lead to the collapse of the entire scientific system of thought.”“How do we create miracles?”“The key to miracles is that they cannot be seen as tricks. This may require that we transfer certain technologies far above current human technology level to the alienated forces on Earth.”
Highlight (yellow) - 33. Trisolaris: Sophon > Page 361
“Project Sophon, to put it simply, aims to transform a proton into a superintelligent computer.”42 “This is a science fantasy that most of us have heard about,” the agricultural consul said. “But can it be realized? I know that physicists can already manipulate nine of the eleven dimensions of the micro-scale world, but we still can’t imagine how they could stick a pair of tiny tweezers into a proton to build large-scale integrated circuits.”“Of course that’s impossible. The etching of micro integrated circuits can only occur at the macro scale, and only on a macroscopic two-dimensional plane. Thus, we must unfold a proton into two dimensions.”“Unfold a nine-dimensional structure into two dimensions? How big would the area be?”“Very big, as you will see.” The science consul smiled.
Highlight (yellow) - 33. Trisolaris: Sophon > Page 370
“Princeps, this is mainly the result of recent messages received from the Earth. Your prediction has come true: The alienated forces on Earth really are growing. They have built a new transmission site completely under their control, and have begun to send us large amounts of information about Earth civilization. I must admit that their civilization has great appeal on Trisolaris. For our people, it sounds like sacred music from Heaven. The humanism of Earth will lead many Trisolarans onto the wrong path. Just as Trisolaran civilization has already become a religion on Earth, Earth civilization has this potential on Trisolaris.”“You’ve pointed out a great danger. We must strictly control the flow of information from the Earth to the populace, especially cultural information.”
Highlight (yellow) - 33. Trisolaris: Sophon > Page 380
“More and more sophons will wander in that planetary system. Added all together, they still won’t add up to the mass of even one-billionth of a bacterium. But they will cause the physicists on Earth to never be able to glimpse the secrets hidden deep in the structure of matter. Humans will never be able to access the micro dimensions, and the ability for them to manipulate matter will be limited to below five dimensions. From now on, whether it’s four point five million hours or four hundred and fifty trillion hours, Earth civilization’s technology will never achieve this fundamental breakthrough. They will remain forever in the primitive stage. The science of Earth has been completely locked down, and the lock is so secure that humans will never be able to escape from it by their own strength.”
Highlight (yellow) - 33. Trisolaris: Sophon > Page 381
“Sophons can create miracles?”“For humans, yes. Everyone knows that high-energy particles can expose film. This is one of the ways that primitive accelerators on Earth once showed individual particles. When a sophon passes through the film at high energy, it leaves behind a tiny exposed spot. If a sophon passes back and forth through the film many times, it can connect the dots to form letters or numbers or even pictures, like embroidery. The process is very fast, and far quicker than the speed at which humans expose film when taking a picture. Also, the human retina is similar to the Trisolaran one. Thus, a high-energy sophon can also use the same technique to show letters, numbers, or images on their retina.… And if these little miracles can confuse and terrify humans, then the next great miracle will be sufficient to frighten their scientists—no better than bugs—to death: Sophons can cause background cosmic radiation to flash in their eyes.”“This would be very frightening for our scientists as well. How would this be accomplished?”“Very simple. We have already written the software to allow a sophon to unfold itself into two dimensions. After the unfolding is complete, the huge plane can wrap itself around the Earth. This software can also adjust the membrane so that it’s transparent, but the degree of transparency can be tuned in the frequencies of the cosmic microwave background.… Of course, as sophons fold and unfold into different dimensions, they can display even more amazing ‘miracles.’ The software for accomplishing these is still being developed, but these ‘miracles’ will create a mood sufficient to divert human scientific thought onto the wrong path. This way, we can use the Miracle Plan to effectively restrain scientific endeavors outside of physics on Earth.”
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Author’s Postscript for the American Edition

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There’s a strange contradiction revealed by the naïveté and kindness demonstrated by humanity when faced with the universe: On Earth, humankind can step onto another continent, and without a thought, destroy the kindred civilizations found there through warfare and disease. But when they gaze up at the stars, they turn sentimental and believe that if extraterrestrial intelligences exist, they must be civilizations bound by universal, noble, moral constraints, as if cherishing and loving different forms of life are parts of a self-evident universal code of conduct. I think it should be precisely the opposite: Let’s turn the kindness we show toward the stars to members of the human race on Earth and build up the trust and understanding between the different peoples and civilizations that make up humanity. But for the universe outside the solar system, we should be ever vigilant, and be ready to attribute the worst of intentions to any Others that might exist in space. For a fragile civilization like ours, this is without a doubt the most responsible path

Translator’s Postscript

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Overly literal translations, far from being faithful, actually distort meaning by obscuring sense
Highlight (yellow) - 34. Bugs > Page 398
The best translations into English do not, in fact, read as if they were originally written in English. The English words are arranged in such a way that the reader sees a glimpse of another culture’s patterns of thinking, hears an echo of another language’s rhythms and cadences, and feels a tremor of another people’s gestures and movements