Wednesday, 23 April 2008
Frank Tipler and the "Omega Point"
I think my Daemon was especially active during a recent visit to the library, helping me to find all manner of reading materials with an ITLADian/CTFian slant. One of these is a book called The Spiritual Universe, by Fred Alan Wolf (one of the physicists who appears in the film What the Bleep Do We Know!?) In Chapter 5, Wolf outlines physicist Frank Tipler's "omega point" theory, which is proposed in the book The Physics of Immortality. I can't say I comprehend the theory perfectly, but it's all just so ITLADian, CTFian, Matrix-ian, etc., that I simply had to post an outline here -- and my apologies if this theory has already been discussed here on this blog at some other time.
To quote Wolf:
"Tipler, basing his ideas on Einstein's equations, proposed that the universe will proceed from the big bang, expand for a while, and then contract to the big crunch -- a finale he calls the omega point after Teilhard de Chardin, who originally came up with the idea of a final time. . . ."
"Of course the universe can expand and then collapse in different ways. In some of these ways objects can get out of touch with each other, meaning they become too far apart for any light-signaling to reach each other. This becomes a real problem near the end of time when the universe undergoes collapse; if it collapses to a series of separated volumes, communication to different regions around the collapse points will not be possible. If, on the other hand, the collapse continues to a single point, the omega, communication can continue to the very end.
"Tipler's model universe, which he hopes is like our universe, expands and contracts in such a way that failure to communicate will never occur. But as nice and neighborly as this may seem, Tipler's universe will still, unfortunately, come to a devastating end at the omega point. What actually happens is that the universe uniformly expands for a while, reaches a maximum radius, and then uniformly contracts to a big crunch with nary a wrinkle in the fabric of space (meaning no pockets of space form or get pinched off during contraction.) But -- and this is the big but -- if all goes well, we won't know that the universe is coming to a dead end, even though it is doing so, because we will be too engrossed, much too busy to ever notice.
"What will we all be doing? We will all be contained as computer programs in nanotechnologically designed micro-micro devices hardly a few pounds in weight. Our souls will be ghosts in machines, computer analogies of ourselves, and we won't even know it. That is, we won't even remember what we once were when these devices suddenly resurrect us as fleeting bits of data. How can this be? How could we ever be constructed as fleeting bits of data and not flesh and blood?
"Tipler answers that although we as flesh and blood creatures assuredly won't be there, our information will. His answer is based on the assumption that the universe is deterministic. In other words, even though the universe may be chaotic, nothing is ever lost. All of the information, every single bit of it, may be scattered from here to the end of the universe; nevertheless, it is still there. By the time the universe comes to an end -- the big crunch finale -- the universe will have grown small enough for intelligent machines to fetch and record all of this information . . . ."
"As the universe goes from birth to death, heaven and hell arise as naturally as apple pie at omega in a complex of highly speeded computerized nanotechnology that reproduces, at the final instant of time, a virtual reality of every thing that ever was. All we need is for life to be simulated by programs, a kind of virtual reality on the scale of microns and nanoseconds rather than on the human scale of meters and seconds. This means that these computer simulations will be processing information extremely quickly. In fact, as the universe approaches omega, when everything that once was far apart gets extremely close, things will be speeded up even more into a kind of complex, gigantic but ever-decreasing-in-size universal, computer-generated, virtual, orgiastic frenzy.
"This is Tipler's vision of heaven. It's in the last few billionths of a billionth of a billionth of a second heading toward omega that the fun really happens, and we all get resurrected in a virtual-reality simulation carrying out all of the lifetimes of humanity and perhaps even enjoying other previous life forms. We also will live through and repeat all of the hells and wars we have created. There is nothing, in principle, left out."
-- from "The Spiritual Universe: One Physicist's Vision of Spirit, Soul, Matter, and Self," by Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.
[My question is, How do we know this omega point scenario hasn't already happened, and we aren't already re-experiencing a computer-generated simulation? Looked at from an ITLADian perspective, I'd have to say that it's highly likely that it HAS already happened!]