Transhuman Page

Global Sphere


The Omega Point and the Final Fate of Life

How long can life survive in the universe? Can it evolve forever, or will the third law of Thermodynamics lead to universal heat death? Apparently there might be some ways around this fate, if intelligent life is sufficiently clever and tenacious.

Essentially life has to adapt as the universe grows older, changing itself to be able to survive when the stars grow cold. If the universe is open, there will be plenty of time to work in, but energy will become very scarce. Dyson has shown that a finite amount of energy is enough to guarantee infinite survival if it is spent sufficiently slowly (this is called the Dyson scenario).

On the other hand, if the universe is closed, it will recollapse into a Big Crunch after a finite time, becoming hotter and hotter. Life has to adapt and restructure itself to these conditions, and if intelligent beings accelerate the speed of their mental processes accordingly they can even experience a subjective infinite time during the last stages of the collapse (this is called the Tipler scenario).

A third possibility is that the universe may be open or closed, but new baby universes branch off due to natural or artificial causes, and intelligent life can survive indefinitely by migrating into new domains as the old become uninhabitable. This is commonly called the Linde scenario.


Long-Term Survival in the Universe
Cosmic Engineering and Evolution
The Omega Point Theory
Universal Immortalism
Other Sites
See Also


Long-Term Survival in the Universe

Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe by Freeman J. Dyson. About the possibility of infinite survival in the universe.
NASA and Self-Replicating Systems. About the NASA study about the feasibility of a self-replicating factory. As Dyson has pointed out, this essentially allows intelligent beings to manipulate matter on any scale.
Timescales in Open and Flat Universes
Burning: the cosmic commons: Evolutionary Strategies of Interstellar Colonization, Robin Hanson (PDF document). If intelligent life spreads in the universe, there will exist an evolutionary pressure towards increased expansion. This paper explores some of the implications.

Extraterrestrial Life

Extraterrestrial Politics by Michael A. G. Michaud (Cosmic Search Vol. 1 No. 3).
Generalized Life by Jerome Rothstein (Cosmic Search Vol. 1 No. 2). How different can life be?
Detectability of Extraterrestrial Technological Activities by Guillermo A. Lemarchand (SETIQuest, Volume 1, Number 1, pp. 3-13)
sci.astro ET Life FAQ
NASA Astrobiology Institute
Exobiology Links
SETI at Home. A project of using housands of Internet-connected computers for SETI.

Cosmic Engineering and Evolution

As Freeman Dyson has shown, intelligent life can if it is patient and smart enough, manipulate matter and energy on a cosmic scale, changing the evolution of the universe and maybe even its fate. According to some theories, intelligence even plays a cruicial role in the evolution of universes.

See also Space-Time Technology on the technology page.

Baby Universes (This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 31)) by John Baez. About the possibilities of "baby universes", and how they might be formed.
The fate of black hole singularities and the parameters of the standard models of particle physics and cosmology by Lee Smolin.
Possible Implications of the Quantum Theory of Gravity, An Introduction to the Meduso-Anthropic Principle by Louis Crane. Nontechnical paper about how the activities of technological civilizations could influence the evolution of baby universes.
Quotes about evolution by David Zindell
The Linde scenario by Mitch Porter. A vision of spawning baby universes, linked by wormholes, to extend the universe.
The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe by Andrei Linde (Scientific American).
Smolin's theory as explained by John Baez. Essentially the Linde scenario, as presented by "The Life of the Cosmos" by Lee Smolin.
Ian's Cosmic Matters Page. Describes the "coincidences" of the anthropic principle, and some variants of it.

The Omega Point Theory of Frank J. Tipler

Frank J. Tipler has proposed that it is possible for intelligent beings to process and store an infinite amount of information in the universe, if certain conditions are fulfilled. His definition of the Omega Point is essentially a future c-boundary which is a single point and an Aleph state, where

Information processing continues indefinitely along at least one world-line gamma all the way to the future c-boundary of the universe. i.e. Life never dies out.

The amount of information processed between now and the future c-boundary is infinite in the region of space-time with which the worldline gamma can communicate. i.e. There will be an infinite number of thoughts, experiences and events.

The amount of information stored at any given time tau within this region diverges to infinity as tau approaches its future limit. i.e. More and more is learned, and things never repeat themselves.

What has made his theory controversial is his claims that it is experimentally verifiable, that the beings near the Omega Point will resurrect anybody who has ever lived into a state close to classical descriptions of Paradise and that the Omega Point itself corresponds to the religious notation of God.

From a transhumanist perspective, the Omega Point is the logical conclusion of our striving towards higer levels, regardless of its nature. It is more of an engineering problem than a philosophical question.

My Comments on Tipler. Critique, observations and ideas.
The Tiplerian Scenario. How life could evolve towards the Omega Point.
Terminology from the Omega Point Mailing List
Omega Point Mailing List. A mailing list about the Omega Point theory of Frank Tipler. Archives can be requested by e-mail from (in PKZIP format).
Church of the New Era. A sketch of a scientific religion based on ideas similar to the Omega Point Theory.
Die Physik der Unsterblichkeit, a section of a larger website discussing theology as a subject of physics (in german).

Universal Immortalism

If the Omega Point theory is speculative, universal immortalism (the idea that death can be completely undone) is even more speculative.

Determinism, Many-Worlds, Resurrection and Cryonics by by R. Michael Perry. Discusses the possibility of resurrection if various interpreta tions of Quantum Mechanics holds true.
An Alternative to Deism Based on the Anthropic Principle by R. Michael Perry. Discusses an alternative to Tipler's omega point theory of im mortality based on the anthropic principle.

Other Sites

Home page of Frank J. Tipler. Several pages about the Omega Point Theory. Site for anthropic reasoning and the Doomsday Argument.


Freeman Dyson, Infinite in all Directions (Gifford Lectures Given at Aberdeen, Scotland April-November 1985)

Frank J. Tipler & John R. Barrow, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Oxford University Press; ISBN: 0192821474 1988

Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the Resurrection of the Dead Anchor Books/Doubleday; ISBN: 0385467990 1995

John D. Barrow: Impossibility. The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998

Reviews of The Physics of Immortality

Rant / Review of "Physics of Immortality" by John Walker.
The Odds on God by George Johnson. Review of "The Physics of Immortality".
Scientist Nitwit Atheist Proves Existence of God, Review of the book by Victor J. Stenger.
Tipler Review from New York Times.
Review by Danny C. Rich

See also

Philosophy Page
Posthuman Page
Megascale Engineering


Anders Sandberg /