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.
Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe
by Freeman J. Dyson. About the possibility of infinite survival in the
Politics by Michael A. G. Michaud (Cosmic Search Vol. 1 No. 3).
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.
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.
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
If the Omega Point theory is speculative, universal immortalism (the
idea that death can be completely undone) is even more speculative.
Home page of Frank J. Tipler. Several pages about the Omega Point Theory.
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.
Anders Sandberg / email@example.com 2000-03-11