Thursday, December 08, 2005

The medium (of the universe) is the message

You know we live in a post-modern world when even the serious academic articles start to smack of science fiction.

An article by Stephen Hsu of the University of Oregon and Anthony Zee of the University of California suggests that a putative creator of the universe could have encoded as many as 100,000 bits of information into variations in the cosmic background radiation merely by tuning the starting conditions. The article by Hsu and Zee on goes into much more technical detail. Science has a slightly easier summary blurb as well.

This reminds me of Charles Stross' novel Accelerando where, in one of many delightfully dense throwaway lines he talks about -
"...waves in the cosmic background radiation (which, it is theorized, may be waste heat generated by irreversible computational processes back during the inflationary epoch; the present-day universe being merely the data left behind by a really huge calculation)."
"... the weirdness beyond M31: According to the more conservative cosmologists, an alien superpower -– maybe a collective of Kardashev Type Three galaxy-spanning civilizations -– is running a timing channel attack on the computational ultrastructure of space-time itself, trying to break through to whatever's underneath."
I wonder if he got the idea from these guys or if it is just convergent evolution of cool ideas.

The description of the creator as a physicist hacker or deity or engineer is somewhat like Robert Sawyer's god in Calculating God. Sawyer's god is not omni-anything really, just very powerful, and it was around before the Big Bang of the current cycle. An alien comes to Earth to find evidence for God. One of the supporting arguments is that several planets widely separated in space have gone through mass extinctions at close to the same times over hundreds of millions of years. Sawyer's God is just a really good engineer that survived the last Big Bang to program the universal constants for the current Big Bang cycle to ensure the creation of life.

The way to know that you are living in a science fiction novel or not is this: In the novel scientists would already have discovered and deciphered the message written into the cosmic background radiation.


Anonymous said...

A very similar idea was also covered science-fictionally in Carl Sagan's "Contact". On the last few pages of the book, there's a block of digits buried deep in pi that yields a diagram of a circle. Of course, by your dictum, that proves it's a novel!

Anonymous said...

This is also somewhat like "Bible Codes," the theory that prophecies were algorithmically encoded in sacred texts & are now able to be decoded (Taking the Nth letter of every Nth word in the Bible, for example, obtains prophecies that have borne out already or may yet be)

Apreche said...

Not real science. Nothing to see here except more nutcases. Move along.

Anonymous said...

God's message to his creation? "Sorry for the inconvenience" (Douglas Adams)

Anonymous said...

If the message is in English, it's more likely from a creative hacker, like the one who's been beaming messages to DubYa.

mode80 said...

Another similarity in Jim Cowan's "The Spade of Reason"?

Anonymous said...

Creationism and bicameral minds always mix.
Just pure intelectual mansturbation...

mrmachine said...

what in fuck does this have to do with "creationism", you idiots?

gm said...

A professor in my department wrote a response to the article: physics/0511135.

Anonymous said...

No one seems to remember that this was part of Stanislaw Lem's HIS MASTER'S VOICE as well.

Richard Koehler said...

I have seen the warnings expressed in the article that gm points to. In short, because different observers in different parts of the universe see different parts of the cosmic background radiation, you have to be in the right place at the right (space-)time to see the message. I guess it is not so universal as one would have first hoped.

Anonymous said...

The reply writen by the professor in gm's dept. is hilarious!...

"Hence a ‘message in the sky’ is no better than a signal hidden in the human genome, or indeed a billboard picture of a plate of spaghetti that a particular set of drivers."

Kate said...

This is one area of science that I understand as a messy repercussion of reconciling the physics of our senses to our number system --I'm reminded more of the movie Pi than any sci fi. All the assumptions made before relating the idea of encryption to CBR are certainly modern to the degree of abandon.

Anonymous said...

you may want to refer to Hsu's web log

A.R.Yngve said...

This is a familiar, VERY tired form of lunacy that obsesses with numbers and "hidden messages" in the Universe.

Inevitably in these circles, someone will claim that the proportions of the Cheops Pyramid proves aliens built it, etc. etc.

Or: *COUGH*Intelligent Design*COUGH*

That SF writers also write these things shouldn't always be taken seriously -- it's SPECULATION, man! That's why it's called Science FICTION! -- but that doesn't deter people from thinking "We want it to be true, therefore it MUST be true!"


Thank you for reading this.

Anonymous said...

What about the patterns in fractals - is there a message there too?

Anonymous said...

Look up "Al Khemit"

civilization has been around in one form or another for over 650 thousand years.

Modern day skeptics are people who in medieval times thought the world was flat and opposed anything to prove otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Scientific theories are speculative as well so long as they remain theoretical. Should we take science seriously?

Science Fiction has often been ahead of Empirical Science who was playing catch up with concepts that were theoretically 'impossible'.

Science Fiction does of course not prove anything, like Empirical theories can only be disproved, rarely if ever proven, but one wonders when human minds will really start realizing that they are a closed circuit, their limit being what they think as possible or not; what they think their limit to be and that, until they have been bypassed; sometimes by 'Fiction Scientists'.


Anonymous said...

Stanislaw Lem's His Master's Voice is about human attempts (set a couple of decades back, during the Cold War) to decode the universal background radiation, mistaken at first for alien messages from the stars.

SKIP the first chapter.

Lem's novels are always two-thirds philosophical treatises, so approach it in that spirit. He is not a believer, so the message is more about humans' desperate need to find pattern.

Anonymous said...

Both science and Science fiction (the literary kind)share one important element, a sense of wonder. Now this Blog has made a similar contribution. Bravo!

Mike LaSalle said...

Here you are - go nuts:

The Bicameral Universe: A Theory of Everything in One Blog Post

By Mike LaSalle

Fair Notice: The following article is an expression of opinion. I assert no “truths” other than those I believe are commonly accepted by the scientific or (responsible) religious communities. I have discussed my thoughts on The Bicameral Universe more-or-less publicly at MND’s Colosseum. I make no claim of scientific expertise. I claim only to have an educated layman’s knowledge of the widely recognized theories cited below. In the event I have made any (or many) errors in technical expression, this author and publication will always be receptive to expert - if well intended - criticism and correction.

This article will review a set of well-known concepts in theoretical Cosmology. Its purpose is to offer a possible solution to the apparent discontinuity between Professor Frank Tipler’s Omega Point Theory asserting the existence of Almighty God - G-d, Allah, Yahweh, Shiva, you-name-It - and the scientific evidence for cosmological inflation. I offer the Bicameral Universe model to help explain this apparent contradiction.

In my Bicameral Universe model, the Big Bang is a single explosive event that propels massive ejecta in two equal but opposite directions in SpaceTime.

I propose that,

1. The Hubble Constant remains constant even for an area of space that is smaller than a Planck’s Length.

2. Hubble’s Constant is governed by the Anthropic Principle.

3. Observations that inflation accelerates over time and space is an outcome of the Anthropic Principle. (This is because analog observers can only function in a causal environment.)

4. The Heat Death is governed by the Uncertainty Principle. This is because, when indivisible particles become “infinitely” separated from each other (as they would in any imagined “Heat Death” scenario), they can be conceptualized as exising alone inside their own respective event horizons, “unobserved” by any former (or future) massive neighbors. Therefore Uncertainty applies in this case.

5. The Big Bang and the Big Crunch are one and the same event.


What is a light cone?: An object moving through space and time…

light cones in special relativity


Let’s say we have two indivisible subatomic particles A and B. The particles in question are the size of a Planck’s Length. At one particular moment in their respective histories as ejecta from the Big Bang, they were in close proximity with each other.

But, over time, cosmological inflation will eventually separate A from B by the full length of the Universe.

So, let’s fast-forward to about a googol years from now, and suppose that particles A and B are the last two contiguous particles left from what was formerly our universe. Inevitably, the Hubble Constant for inflation will compel these two relative particles to pass outside of each other’s respective event horizon. Then - voila - Heat Death Accomplished.

Here’s the kicker: I am assuming that Hubble’s Constant for the expansion of the universe is unrelenting even at sizes smaller than a Planck’s Length! (more detailed explanation here.)

Indeed, in that light, you might say that it is the Hubble Constant itself that prevents an object smaller than a Planck’s length from having both determinate position and velocity. (!)

So let’s go there: Particle A is now entirely within its own event horizon. It is speeding away from the edge of itself at a relative rate equivalent to Hubble’s Constant. No other particle has any more “knowledge” of it, and vice versa.

From the point of view of Particle B, Particle A is now traveling faster than the speed of light (and vice versa).

What happens next?

Particle A is alone, imploding at rate that is the precise inverse of Hubble’s Constant for inflation, because now the same “inflation” is directed to the purpose of implosion and (a deliberate?) stretching of the event horizon for the imploding massive object.


light cone lightcone of the bicameral universe


The bicameral universe concept requires a particular lynchpin: the unification of The Hubble Constant with a Planck’s Length.

You would be right to call out the apparent discontinuity in my layman’s mixing of the terms “Hubble Constant” (an astronomer’s term) and “Planck’s Length” (from the discipline of quantum mechanics and theoretical mathematics). But, please, hear me out… (If you have read David Deutsch’s The Fabric of Reality, you already have several legs up on anyone else reading this.)

Here’s wikipedia’s definition of The Hubble Limit:

The Hubble Limit is a concept in physical cosmology that is related to the Big Bang Theory. It refers to the limit where objects receding from the observer are receding at the speed of light. It is named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble, who was the first to discover that objects on a galactic scale are moving away from us. In the aftermath of the Big Bang everything in the universe is flying apart, and due to the fact that the speed of light is constant further away objects appear to be receding at a faster velocity. Eventually an object will appear to have a velocity which is the speed of light, and an object at this point is known to be at the Hubble Limit.

Astronomers have noticed that, the farther away galaxies are from us, the faster they appear to be moving away from us. “Objects” move away from the observer at a predictable rate based on their physical proximity to that observer.

Most people think of, let’s say a rock or a planet or a star when they think “object”. But so far as I know the Hubble Constant is true for ALL MASSIVE OBJECTS.

Stephen Hawking’s description of the Planck’s length is widely available in The Universe in a Nutshell. 176-178, 199.

Russian dolls within Russian dolls image, page 177:

Each doll represents a theoretical understanding of nature down to a certain length scale. Each contains a smaller doll that corresponds to a theory that describes nature on shorter scales. But there exists a smallest fundamental length in physics, the Planck length, a scale at which nature may be described by M-theory.”

Wikipedia’s entry on Planck’s Constant is considerably more oblique. But the short of it is, a Planck’s length is a unit of measurement beyond which the Eternal Laws of Nature say no precise measurement can be made.

In this sense, a Planck’s length represents a physical barrier in SpaceTime.

The only other physical barrier that is comparable to this phenomenon is - a Black Hole.

No information in, no information out.

The Uncertainty Principle applies for both the Black Hole and the Planck’s length.

We can’t say much about Quantum particles smaller than a Planck’s length because we cannot “see” them or otherwise “interact” with such particles. So, that means I could credibly assume that each area of “observable space” in my environment smaller than a Planck’s length contains at least one Black Hole.

The Uncertainty Principle trumps all comers, so the outcome of any bet you wish to make with me about what lies within a Planck’s length will be no greater than 50-50. And since I have a virtually unlimited number of Planck’s Length sized objects in my immediate environment (to say nothing of the predicted), I win the bet by odds.

That’s it: Black Holes all around. An ash heap of blackholes… that’s what universes are made of.


Inflation and Contraction Are Anthropic Constructions

In the summer of 2005 I initiated a thread on the Bicameral Universe model so that I could understand how a universe that apparently expands indefinitely could possibly reassemble to invoke a new (or recurrent) “Big Bang”.

With this essay I want to introduce some new concepts…

The image of the wasp’s nest above is useful in helping to conceptualize a chamber in which lines of incoming and outgoing causes intersect. This is the nexus of the Multiverse, where all possible outcomes of the Big Bang are generated or annhilated…

… Mathematicians might also ponder the Pentagonal Antiprism and ask whether such a structure can function as a logical passage between two incongruent but otherwise identical universes.

In the Bicameral Universe model, the Big Bang is a single explosive event that propels massive ejecta in two equal but opposite directions in SpaceTime. (The rate of ejecta spewing from the Big Bang must be in excess of the escape velocity required to cross the event horizon between the massive Bicameral Pairs.)

Later on, inhabitants of this ejecta (like us), might lay peacefully in a warm field beneath a moonless night sky and study the heavens and ponder what on earth is going on?

Well, it’s like this: You, the Ejecta, looked up at the sky with your eyes and your telescopes and all your other complex information gathering devices, and you figured out that the universe was expanding and would seem to expand forever.

But what you didn’t know, my dear Ejecta, is that you have an equal and opposite counterpart who lives in potential in the other chamber of our Bicameral Universe. Your observation that time moves forward is actually a construct - or perhaps an emergent process - based on the uneven distribution of mass between the two chambers. (The chamber in which you find yourself is always inflating, while the imaginary opposing chamber is always deflating.) Consciousness itself is thus an outcome of your mind’s “uncertainty” over which side of the Bicamera it is occupying/observing at any one time.

Thus the very definition of “inflation” is dependent on an analog observation of Particle A’s velocity and trajectory relative to that of Particle B.

In that sense, “Inflation” requires an analog observer as much as the analog observer requires Inflation. Therefore, the Anthropic Principle applies.

Here, take a gander:

Picture the Bicameral Universe as a figure-8 superimposed on the above Cartesian grid.

The Originating Point of the Big Bang is located at position 0,0. “North” is represented by the “+” pole and “South” by the “-” pole.

“North” represents the observed direction of inflation. In this model, we humans “live” in the “north” chamber of the figure 8, and this defines the range of our observable universe - which we interpret as inflating.

The “South” region of the model is strictly imaginary - but its existence is required by the Anthropic Principle, because without it, I am afraid, we poor humans would not even realize that we existed or - indeed - that we had conscious navigational choices to make as we sail the sometimes turbulent tributaries of the Multiverse.

We should think of the southern region of the model as an equal-but-opposite version of the northern region. It is almost a mirror-image.

But the most important thing to grasp here is that the relative movement of mass-through-space in one chamber must be offset by an equal-and-opposite relative movement of mass-through-space in the opposite chamber (possibly through a dual-flow mechanism as illustrated in this Pentagonal Antiprism).

holy-grail.jpgHuman consciousness therefore is an emergent outcome of the staccato discontinuities between the side of the chamber that is inflating, and the side that is correspondingly deflating. (The passage of time that we perceive is an illusion populated by the end results of our past cumulative decisions.)

A more “concrete” explanation for the phenomenon we call the “Present” might be the following: two incredibly long but precisely balanced “trains” of causes (each carrying the entire mass of the universe), collide headlong into each other with such force that - while most of the mass involved is instantly annihilated, some of it is propelled outside the event horizon of either pair - making of itself a “third party observer” to its own simultaneous (but never the less sequential) “acts” of creation and annihilation. This would explain why the Present is Eternal, but can never be actively observed in the past tense or the future tense - an observer can only observe his own total annihilation in the present tense.

I submit that a disoriented observer (e.g., a newborn baby) experiences time as a totality without causes - it’s as though the paradoxical conflict between creation and destruction is solved by allowing both to exist forever and simultanously (from the point of view of any observer)… If we filter this through the Anthropic Principle, you might say this observer experiences an “eternity” of disassociated sensations, followed by a slow realization that causes (and choices) can allow this eternal observer to change the observable conditions of its environment - including the ultimate choice: to “turn off” the Eternal Observation.

I submit that the “Present” appears transitory because it is, in fact, living evidence of the event horizon predicted by MC2.

But MC2 remains constant even now - even here in the event horizon itself - and so light maintains its signature speed of C even from our vantage point, here in the “middle of the middle” where Hubble’s Constant also predicts our location to be.

(I’m tempted here to quote Jack’s incredulous question from Nightmare Before Christmas: “…but what does it mean?”)

It means, I think, that the escape velocity for Time Travel is (probably) MC3.

But to get entirely out of the system (to the most Parsimonious rendition of it), you would need to cube that number again - giving you a grand total of 27 dimensions (or 26 + 1, where 1 = The Observer). Therefore, MC27 is the most humanly elemental explanation for the “state of things”.

holy-grail2.jpgFrom a theological standpoint, it seems to me that the Bicameral Universe model provides a solution to the age-old conflict in Catholicism regarding the “trinitarian” nature of God.

The Bicameral Universe model is obviously a BINARY system - as predicted by Professor Tipler’s Omega Point Theory. And also in line with Tipler, it describes the Trinitarian Nature of existence.

holy grailTipler’s Trinitarian model explained Christ as the Body and Host of our existence, But the universe is not GOD - it is God’s creation. Trinitarianism is an Anthropic Construction. God Himself cannot be Trinitarian, because, with the Bicameral Universe model, God is a SINGULARITY that Observes 26 unique dimensions - 13 evenly matched pairs. Human beings appear adapted to an environment that uses only the first three dimensions. But this is only a small part of what God Observes.

God cannot be Trinitarian. Instead, A4=MC^3^3 is a more fair representation of what God can “see” in respect to us. (Though, since God is Ever-Generative in Complexity and Order, I submit that humans are physically unable to comprehend His Scope greater than this.)

This is my summation:

1. TOE +

2. Origins of Human Consciousness +

3. Logical proof for the Inevitable Existence of Almighty G-D +

Here is my submission for a popular formula:


This is: “A” to the 4th power = MC cubed, cubed …where “A” represents all possible World lines for our universe. “A” is true for all observers. The Cartesian grid assumes four unique “A” quadrants. Each “A” must be cast as a subset of the other three imaginary quadrants - but (paradox alert!) each is simultaneously self-identified as “the” A. The only way out of the paradox is to assume that each quadrant contributes a single power. Thus “A” observed as a totality appears as A to the 4th power. Note that the Pauli Exclusion Principle states that no two identical fermions may occupy the same quantum state simultaneously. The Bicameral Universe Model explicitly avoids Pauli because the Bicamera represent DIFFERENT QUANTUM STATES for twin fermions. (See Fermions v. Bosons: Up Always Wins).

Please reference the following blog posts for more details on my Bicameral Universe Theory:

* Depardeux and Me
* Fermions v. Bosons: Up Always Wins
* The Holy Grail is an Hour Glass

Anonymous said...

You should check out this ESA series on the Hubble.