Re: poly: eschatology

From: Perry E. Metzger <>
Date: Sun Jan 11 1998 - 12:53:55 PST

Hal Finney writes:
> As David Brin mentioned, Frank Tipler's "Omega Point" theory predicted
> that the universe would be closed. Tipler argued that this was the only
> way that life could avoid the heat death of the universe. Freeman Dyson
> had suggested that life could last forever in an open universe, but Tipler
> calculated that it would be doomed to fall into an infinite regress.
> Maybe these recent discoveries will force people to find a way to escape
> Tipler's negative conclusions.

I find the idea that "the universe cares" about either of these
possibilities a weird quasi-religious idea. (No, Hal, I'm not
suggesting that you are suggesting that!)

Tipler has shown (maybe, I'm not convinced) that we can do an infinite
amount of computation in a closed universe, but with finite matter you
can only store a finite number of states anyway so at best you're
going to repeat yourself forever -- infinite computation is
uninteresting without infinite storage.

In an open universe, we eventually hit "heat death" too, which is
basically just the "ice" half of the "will it be fire or ice at the
end" question. Maybe we can keep computing forever, maybe not, but
I'm not sangune about whether it is meaningful in that case, either.

Generally, I'm optimistic, but we must also have a bit of realism
about this. Just because we humans would LIKE to be able to avoid such
an unpleasant end for life doesn't mean the universe will accomodate
our desires. We do have billions of years to consider the question,
and we may very well come up with really neat answers, but at this
point it is way too soon to get very far with the speculation. We just
don't know enough about the universe yet.

Received on Sun Jan 11 20:43:59 1998

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