Sunday, January 30, 2005

Fire or Ice?

From an article at Prospect by Michio Kaku:
The universe is out of control, in a runaway acceleration. Eventually all intelligent life will face the final doom—the big freeze. An advanced civilisation must embark on the ultimate journey: fleeing to a parallel universe....

But since the big freeze is probably billions to trillions of years away, there is time for [an advanced] civilisation to plot the only strategy consistent with the laws of physics: leaving this universe. To do this, an advanced civilisation will first have to discover the laws of quantum gravity, which may or may not turn out to be string theory. These laws will be crucial in calculating several unknown factors, such as the stability of wormholes connecting us to a parallel universe, and how we will know what these parallel worlds will look like. Before leaping into the unknown, we have to know what is on the other side. But how do we make the leap? Here are some of the ways.

Find a naturally occurring wormhole....

Send a probe through a black hole....

Create negative energy....

Create a baby universe ....

Build a laser implosion machine....

Send a nanobot to recreate civilisation
If the wormholes created in the previous steps are too small, too unstable, or the radiation effects too intense, then perhaps we could send only atom-sized particles through a wormhole. In this case, this civilisation may embark upon the ultimate solution: passing an atomic-sized "seed" through the wormhole capable of regenerating the civilisation on the other side. This process is commonly found in nature. The seed of an oak tree, for example, is compact, rugged and designed to survive a long journey and live off the land. It also contains all the genetic information needed to regenerate the tree.

An advanced civilisation might want to send enough information through the wormhole to create a "nanobot," a self-replicating atomic-sized machine, built with nanotechnology. It would be able to travel at near the speed of light because it would be only the size of a molecule. It would land on a barren moon, and then use the raw materials to create a chemical factory which could create millions of copies of itself. A horde of these robots would then travel to other moons in other solar systems and create new chemical factories. This whole process would be repeated over and over again, making millions upon millions of copies of the original robot. Starting from a single robot, there will be a sphere of trillions of such robot probes expanding at near the speed of light, colonising the entire galaxy....

Next, these robot probes would create huge biotechnology laboratories. The DNA sequences of the probes' creators would have been carefully recorded, and the robots would have been designed to inject this information into incubators, which would then clone the entire species. An advanced civilisation may also code the personalities and memories of its inhabitants and inject this into the clones, enabling the entire race to be reincarnated.

Although seemingly fantastic, this scenario is consistent with the known laws of physics and biology, and is within the capabilities of a Type III civilisation. There is nothing in the rules of science to prevent the regeneration of an advanced civilisation from the molecular level. For a dying civilisation trapped in a freezing universe, this may be the last hope.
But why would we want to recreate civilization if it wouldn't include "us"? Why not use all that technological know-how to build a humongous space heater to fend off the impending chill? (Space heater...get it?)

There's only one proper way to end this post:

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

-- Robert Frost