17 September, 2009

Interview with an Event Horizon

In the recent edition of Nature there is a rather odd interview. Not wanting to be outdone by Oprah and Ellen, they have gone for an extreme A-list guest. None other than...

...an Event Horizon!!

This should be interesting.

When asked about the origin of life, the Event Horizon answers:

Biological life as you know it originated in your universe 13½ billion years ago in the heart of heated comets. Heat and cosmic radiation bombarded the carbon dioxide, methanol and ammonia they carried. As they neared their star during their elliptical orbits, the comets' frozen cores thawed, allowing those chemicals to interact in a semi-liquid medium and form rudimentary organic compounds — proteins and amino acids, the building blocks of life. Streaking past the six worlds of this solar system, they rained down those organic compounds in dust that settled in the planet's atmosphere and, eventually, onto its surface. On those planets with a heat source and a liquid medium, these compounds formed lipid membranes that facilitated the formation of self-replicating cells. These evolved into bacteria that over eons developed into simple bio-organisms, the first step in the slow, inexorable climb towards complexity. This process has repeated itself countless times throughout the cosmos over billions of years. This is why your universe teems with biological life.

Non-biological life incubates in the cool ether of dark matter shaped by processes beyond your current level of understanding. However, if our experience is any indication, in time you will come to know such life forms and recognize them as your brothers. In every universe we've explored, biological and non-biological life forms inevitably join together and lift each other to magnificent new heights.

OK, sounds reasonable-ish.

But when asked if God exists, the Event Horizon has this to say:

Everything in existence has a creator, ad infinitum. Before the Big Bang there was neither time nor space nor matter, but consciousness. Formless. Eternal. Contemplating its creator. And contemplating others like itself that might exist across the infinite bubbles of reality. As time did not exist, we cannot say whether this omni-consciousness existed for a millisecond, a millennium or an eternity. But it jabbed with its thoughts at the weathered fabric between realities and poked an infinitesimal hole. And the entirety of a neighbouring universe — endless space and matter — flooded through that pinhole in a spectacular cosmic eruption. The omni-consciousness found that matter, gave it form, and it revelled in its multitudinous shapes. It discovered that matter — moulded by the flame of time and the winds of evolution — could eventually give rise to its own self-aware components, part of the omni-consciousness, yet separate from it. It delighted in each of the quadrillions of consciousnesses that flickered into and out of existence. It no longer knew loneliness. Time, space and matter continued to expand — prodded into acceleration by the omni-consciousness — hoping in vain to fill every crevice of infinity. This has happened in every bubble of the transreality-froth we've explored.

Hmmm, if you listen hard enough you can hear the gerbil at the Discovery Institute frothing at the mouth as he turns on his laptop...

Of course, this interview is just a bit of a joke.

The 'interviewer' is a chap named Mercurio Rivera, a science fiction writer. The reason Nature have published this is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the inaugural publication of SETI, entitled "Searching for Interstellar Communication". They have also published an article by Fred Kaplan reflecting on the origins, impacts and legacy of this paper and of SETI itself.

Happy birthday!!

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