January 24, 2005


Escape from the universe: The universe is destined to end. Before it does, could an advanced civilisation escape via a "wormhole" into a parallel universe? The idea seems like science fiction, but it is consistent with the laws of physics and biology. Here's how to do it (Michio Kaku, February 2005, Prospect)

The universe is out of control, in a runaway acceleration. Eventually all intelligent life will face the final doom--the big freeze. An advanced civilisation must embark on the ultimate journey: fleeing to a parallel universe. [...]

As the universe expands, its energy content is diluted and temperatures eventually plunge to near absolute zero, where even atoms stop moving. One of the iron laws of physics is the second law of thermodynamics, which states that in the end everything runs down, that the total "entropy" (disorder or chaos) in the universe always increases. This means that iron rusts, our bodies age and crumble, empires fall, stars exhaust their nuclear fuel, and the universe itself will run down, as temperatures drop uniformly to near zero.

Charles Darwin was referring to this law when he wrote: "Believing as I do that man in the distant future will be a far more perfect creature than he now is, it is an intolerable thought that he and all other sentient beings are doomed to complete annihilation after such long-continued slow progress."

Darwin's teleology is not, in the end, sufficient for the faithful, so, of course, you have to produce this promise of life eternal.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 24, 2005 8:42 AM

If you want to read more about this go find the Xeelee series of books by Stephen Baxter. In the book that ends the series, actually there are prequels so its not really over-over, "Ring" he describes a device that sounds much like what the author of the story writes about.

Posted by: rps at January 24, 2005 9:34 AM

Why should I care? I'm just a talking rock. When I die, I will cease to talk.

In the meantime, blah blah blah, etc.

Posted by: Joe at January 24, 2005 10:40 AM

This is possibly (meaning not violating known physical laws) the worst conglomeration of unfounded wishful thinking I have read. Piling "could be's", "possiblies", "might be's", and "conceivable's" one upon the other, the author manages to amalgamate all the unconfirmed speculations of modern physics into an incoherent mass of delusional prose. The only hard scientific data in the article is the fact that attempts to confirm any of this have been negative, but that "might" change if only we would build a 10 light-year long particle accelerator.

He saved the best for the last -- his conception of a nanobot, smaller than an atom, yet containing all the information necessary to terraform worlds, establish ecosystems, and then clone a new civilization does not pass the laugh test. To think that the author is a professor of physics!

Posted by: jd watson at January 24, 2005 12:13 PM

The Rapture of the materialists is a worm hole. Who says God has no sense of humor.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at January 24, 2005 6:21 PM

The Rapture of the materialists is a worm hole. How apt.

Posted by: LUCIFEROUS at January 24, 2005 6:22 PM

Intolerable, but as Darwin said, natural selection explained the intolerable cruelty we observed -- or, to be more precise, explained that it was meaningless and therefore beyond the strictures of moralism.

Darwin, of all people, did not mean to say that just because something was intolerable, therefore it would not happen.

Orrin is concerned to show that Darwinism is teleological, despite its explicit denial, but he'll have to do better than that.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at January 25, 2005 1:39 AM

"a far more perfect creature"

Posted by: oj at January 25, 2005 6:01 AM