The physics of the weird geometries of the corpse city of R'lyeh

Theoretical physicist and mathematician Benjamin K. Tippett has posted a paper called "Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific," which analyzes the account of Gustaf Johansen, the author of the manuscript embedded in HP Lovecraft's famous story The Call of Cthulhu, and tries to account for the weird geometries that hide "the corpse city of R'lyeh." It's got rendered diagrams and everything. Science!

We contend that all of the credible phenomena which Johansen described may be explained as being the observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature. Many of his most incomprehensible statements (involving the geometry of the architecture, and variability of the location of the horizon) can therefore be said to have a unified underlying cause.

We propose a simplified example of such a geometry, and show using numerical computation that Johansen`s descriptions were, for the most part, not simply the ravings of a lunatic. Rather, they are the nontechnical observations of an intelligent man who did not understand how to describe what he was seeing. Conversely, it seems to us improbable that Johansen should have unwittingly given such a precise description of the consequences of spacetime curvature, if the details of this story were merely the dregs of some half remembered fever dream.

We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.

Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific (via JWZ)



  1. Can’t believe I had to look up R’lyeh to make sure it was being spelled correctly.   And that I’ve been misspelling it all this time.  My soul is so going to get eaten for that…

  2. I honestly was tempted to write in my vote for the Cuthulu/Dagon ticket.
    They got me on the platform: “Why settle for a lesser evil”

    Eventually I did settle for a lesser evil though.

  3. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to examine those geometries that closely, lest your very sanity be forfeit.

  4. Full paper here.
    As a final point, our model requires that time passes exponentially more quickly on the outside of the bubble than on the inside. Such bubble of non-Euclidean geometry could be used to endure vast aeons of time while the universe outside it grows brittle with age.

    1. There is still a lot of work to be done in physics. Such as exploring the possibilities of Preons, the building blocks of Fermions and Bosons. Not to mention further work in String Theory. We are just barely starting to scrape the surface – there is much work left to be done.

  5. Nice work, but I was immediately reminded on similar sketches in “The Astronauts” by Stanisław Lem . Now we can debate wether Lem read Lovecraft or Tipett read Lem.

  6. Oh my.

    Sounds like Bob Howard of the laundry will have his hands full cleaning up the fallout of this little publication.

    1. You used the second floor plotter to run off the blueprints, didn’t you?  At some point we have to stop calling in warranty service on that thing and just get rid of it.

  7. Perhaps warped fermions account for the nebulous plasticity of that sky-spawn from the stars–my great uncle, a tenured professor of Medieval Metaphysics at Miskatonic University believed so. 

  8. I suggest that an Hallucinatory drug may have caused the perceived effects. This either by  accident, such as mould on foodstuff, or by the incumbent natives production of soporific compounds or liquids. 

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