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Teacher God stepped a little closer, then bent forward and gazed over his pupil’s shoulder and down on the trial universe about to form under the transparent reality dome. Then he frowned, straightened, and said “No. That’s too many.”

Pupil God, a creative and eager-to-learn lad of about fifty or so trillion turned away from the dome under which he was constructing the first molecule, and looked up at his teacher, then turned back to the shiny, spinning construct hovering, quite visible for its small size, in the sterile and shielded midair. He regarded it silently for some time, as if stalling or as if deciding how best to break some unpleasant news. Then he turned again and looked back up at Teacher God.

“Sir,” he began. “Gray’s Book on Universes is quite clear on this point. For expansive ramifications, which is what I’m aiming for here, Gray says eight, or even ten.”

“And your nucleus ratio?”

“Eight positives and two true neutrals.”

Teacher God, tall and ancient—give or take a few hundred trillion—drew himself even further erect, if that were possible, and re-frowned. “My Book on Universes does not hold that view,” he said.

“Yes, sir, I know. You recommend four electrons and a lighter kernel.”

“Yes I do. And you can take my word for this: you do not want more than four. Eight, in my experience, is to court disaster. It also makes for twice the gravity. Have you thought about that?”

Pupil God had thought about that, but gravity was not his main concern. Instead, he said, “Gray says four will make it too rigid, even prone to implosion.”

“I know what Gray says.”

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