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What is the universe?

  1. May 7, 2003 #1
    What do you think the Universe is? What is its purpose? What is life's role? More specific question: Does anyone buy the ideas put forth in Tipler's "The Physics of Immortality"? And lastly, what do you think about the idea that the purpose of conscious life may be "written" somewhere in the structure of the universe, waiting to be found?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2003 #2


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    The universe is, by definition, everything.
    It may or may not have a purpose or life role -- it's a philosophical question with no answer. You may presuppose either.
    Since most of us probably have not read this book, you might wish to be more specific and tell us what those ideas actually are.
    How exactly could such a 'purpose' be written into the 'structure of the universe?'

    - Warren
  4. May 7, 2003 #3
    Right, I'm aware of the definition of the word "universe" in modern parlance -- I should've been more clear on what I wanted to discuss. I was hoping some brave souls would offer their opinions on what they think the universe, e.g. a chance fluctuation of energy signifying nothing, a system designed to demonstrate how efficacious Capitalism is in producing faux sugar :smile:, a solipsistic creation within your own mind (although I'd rather folks strayed from philosophical BS like solipsism), a system best understood from a reductionist viewpoint or vice versa and possibly "created" for 'X' purpose, etc.

    For those who have not read it, "The Physics of Immortality" is essentially a book that logically expands on the last chapter of "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle". BTW, if you have the free time to read it, it's rather fascinating. In it, Frank J. Tipler argues for the future (in proper time) existence of "God" (placed in quotes because he does not refer to the Judeo-Christian God, although he alludes to similiarities between what his theory predicts and worldwide religious dogma/speculation throughout the book) who will "resurrect" or emulate all life to have ever existed in the universe at the end of proper time (I believe his theory focuses on the universe as being closed although I think he delves into the possibility of an open universe ended in the Heat Death).

    It's been about 10 years since I read it and I must admit that when I first did I was only 13 so much of it flew over my head. I do remember that the God figure (he calls it the Omega Point) having subsumed the entire physical universe seconds (or fraction of a second) before the universe's death will be privy to knowledge of the entire state of the universe, and will therefore emlate all possible histories leading up to Its origin. The processing of All Knowledge will endure for an infinite amount of subjective time and therefore, seconds after the Omega Point's crowning achievement has been reached, it will be destroyed in proper time. However, it will exist eternally in subjective time, and he goes on later to give proof of why the Omega Point will also grant us (our emulated selves) with the gift of eternal subjective life.

    As far as how the 'purpose' of life may be written out in the structure of the universe: Well, it could be as simple as a sentence literally written out in a mass of material far off in space which may one day align with our line of sight so that we could read it with a telescope (as far-fetched as that sounds, you must admit that the little bit of knowledge humanity has already acquired suggests that the universe is an absurd place). Or it may be some kind of code embedded within a calculable real number. Sure intelligence is also explainable as a significant evolutionary advantage and may have risen up simply as a device to better propagate genetic code. But it seems to me that the emergence of intelligence and a comprehensible universe might signify more. HAHAHHAHA, and all this is coming from a former atheist.:smile:
  5. May 7, 2003 #4


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    Tipler makes a number of assumptions that lead to some problems. A few of them to note:

    1. He assumes that there will be a big crunch, while today cosmologists say that is unlikely.

    2. He assumes space and time are continuous and not discrete. This leads us to the classic singularity of GR. But many physicists believe that space and time are discrete, and that the singularity will be replaced by something finite.

    3. He also assumes that intelligent life will somehow be able to survive a universe with an average temperature of trillions of degrees. How something as simple as atoms, let alone life could survive in those conditions, is not made very clear.

    4. He mentions that as the universe collapses towards the omega point, unlimited energy will become availble, while ignoring the unlimited amount of heat and density. How does he explain the existence of complex structures in a universe hundreds of millions of times smaller than a proton?

    How does he deal with those problems listed above?
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