Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Marni D. Sheppeard

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

There in Time

Most discussions of the Fermi paradox, at least amongst scientists, involve the mundane multiplication of several numerical factors, pulled out of the air, such as a concentration of life-supporting planets in the galaxy. But as Matti Pitkanen has discussed, a quantum gravitational view of the cosmos allows a more interesting resolution of the paradox.

Let us assume, first of all, that we are not special. That is, similar types of observer are possible in galactic or planetary states that differ from ours. Secondly, as the example of Earth illustrates, let us assume that the 20th century technological state is locally short lived. Then, even restricting ourselves to classical ideas of information transmission, we should not expect to detect alien signals until our ideas of information encoding become a lot more sophisticated.

But a truly quantum gravitational view of things would say something more profound: perhaps we haven't met alien dust because it isn't Time. In the evolution of emergent cosmic time, as viewed by Earthlike observers, the cosmos must reach a threshhold of complexity before its state can accomodate the transmission of information between galactic civilisations. Thus our state of understanding itself is the barrier that one day, if we survive, we might break.


Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Fascinating that quantum theory may even bear on the Fermi paradox. Hoepfully we will rezch that state of understanding soon.

January 09, 2008 6:12 PM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Thank your for the link, Kea!

I can imagine at least three different kinds of communications whose continual presence we do not realize with our present understanding of quantum physics and consciousness. All three rely on dark matter hierarchy involving arbitrarily large values of Planck constants representing higher levels of conscious existence.

Option 1: top-to-bottom.
Our relationship to the higher levels of conscious existence is that of a cell to organ, or neuron to brain, or that of mental image to conscious entity having it (mental image is conscious entity at lower level of hierarchy). It is probably very difficult for a neuron to realize that it is part of brain: it might intuit the existence of brain as a kind of God like creature.

Some of the ideas that we get, when we manage to get rid of the noise of sensory input and motor actions by meditating, might be communications these higher "dark" levels of conscious existence. These higher levels could induce standardized mental images like controlled energy flow induces standard self-organization patterns.

One can also consider communications between civilizations at same level of hierarchy.

Option 1:
Telepathic communications could rely on sharing and fusion of mental images based on quantum entanglement (this involved the notion of entanglement with finite measurement resolution and hyperfinite factors of type II_1).

Gigantic values of gravitational hbar would make possible the required quantum coherence in very long length scales. Reports about meeting ETs and UFOs might correspond to this kind of communications, kind of telesensory experiences: ETs could actually be in different galaxy.

Option 2:
Also "classical" communications are possible. Dark photons (perhaps even gravitons) with large hbar would be ideal for communications and my model of EEG as communications from biobody to personal magnetic body of astrophysical size relies on EEG photons with so large hbar that their energy is above thermal energy in living matter.

We do not yet possess instruments to detect dark photons. Hence Fermi paradox could be one aspect of the puzzle of dark matter.

January 09, 2008 7:35 PM  
Blogger nige said...

About on the Fermi "paradox": no alien ever relatively close to us could detect us or travel to us because the nearest stars beyond the sun are over 4 light years away. The oft-quoted claim that the earth has been leaving radio and TV signals for decades is a lie. The ionosphere reflects back signals below 100 MHz, and you really need microwave frequencies to avoid interference by the ionosphere. It's not possible to transmit at microwave frequencies at sufficient power that aliens light years away would have half a chance of detecting anything! You'd need to be transmitting immense power isotropically (in all directions) which would have unpleasant and lethal effects for life on this planet. This is factual. There is no way that any civilization, however advanced (unless they insanely built a receiver dish of immense size and decided to point it in our direction at a time such that we by coincidence had transmitted a powerful beam in that same direction, assuming that no intervening dust clouds or ionized gas clouds intervened), could detect life on earth from a hundred light years or more. Ignorance of basic radio signal propagation and detection problems leads mainstream people astray.

Taking the problem from another direction, the evolution of life requires significant time (4.5 Gyr) after a nearby supernova explosion that produces heavy elements like carbon, calcium, etc., from successive neutron captures. Hence, even forgetting about how far the planet needs to be from a star with a nearly circular orbit and a suitably fast spin rate that life won't freeze too much at night, it takes certain coincidences and a lot of time for life to evolve. Sir James Jeans falsely around 1905 put forward a theory that the planets formed from giant tides on the sun. In 1930 he claimed in "The Mysterious Universe" that 1 in 100,000 stars has a planet suitable for life on it. He had no evidence to support that number, either theoretical or observational. It wasn't science, but about 40 years later Carl Sagan adopted the same number. There are quite a number of problems with it. It seems to be fluke that human beings have evolved here, and it's not clear that we are really intelligent. (If human beings were so intelligent, why are string theorists in charge of hep-th, and why can't those with alternative ideas have enough convincing argument to overcome stringers? Hence, there is little sign of intelligent life here. If there's no intelligence here, why should there be any somewhere else?)

January 10, 2008 10:35 AM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

Can a civilization learn just one bit from another? How about two? What's the magic threshold, and how is it enforced?

January 10, 2008 11:23 AM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

A couple of comments to Nige about probability of life. Everything depends on whether one accepts the hierarchy of Planck constants.

1. Quantization of planetary orbits

Accepting Bohr orbitology and gigantic gravitational Planck constant means that the spectrum of planetary radii depends only on the mass of star and value of Planck constant which has discrete set of values. The masses of stars are in quite narrow range and also now one expects quantization from quantization of gravitational Planck constant.

This implies planetary systems are like atoms: highly standardized. This increases enormously the probability for the existence of planets allowing life.

2. Cold fusion as main source of heavier elements.

Around 2003 it was learned that the abundances of elements heavier than Li in an astrophysical object (galaxy or cluster, I do not remember) at distance of about 10 billion light years were very similar to those in solar system. This is impossible if the elements are produced inside stellar interiors. There is also so called Li problem: the amount of Li is much smaller than predicted by standard cosmology. The phase transition making part of Li is unstable against transition to dark Li with large Planck constant would explain this.

There is quite a lot of evidence for cold fusion and nuclear transmutations. Already one of the pioneers of bio-transmutations, Kervran, proposed that cold fusion could have produced considerable fraction of heavier elements in interstellar space. The time scale is quite short as compared to the time scale of fusion in stars which would explain the very strange finding above and also change the prospects for the evolution of life change dramatically. Large values of Planck constant are in key role in the TGD based model.

For references and detailed model see the chapter "Nuclear String Model" at

3. Evidence is acculumating that prebiotic life has evolved in interstellar space driven by radiation from stars. There is also anomalous radiation having interpretation in terms of many-sheeted space-time concept.

The model about how DNA can act as topological quantum computer that I have been developing during last month, leads also to vision about how topological quantum computation like processes have evolved in much simpler systems. The notion of magnetic body with magnetic flux tubes defining braids strands containing dark matter with large hbar, is the quintessence of the model. Any molecule, actually any physical system, creates magnetic field. This relates closely also to water memory, for which there is undeniable evidence but which has been claimed as crackpottery.

The problem is that mainstream refuses to take seriously all this pieces of evidence for new physics essential for life. To paraphrase Wheeler: Only understood phenomenon is real phenomenon.

January 10, 2008 1:18 PM  
Blogger ramzahn said...

What if it is simply synchronicity?
What if all of the biological species in this sector run on the same timeline?
Maybe the riddle about not receiving any messages lies within the fact that nobody in our neighborhood is farther advanced than ourselfs.

January 10, 2008 3:27 PM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Synchrony could be also considered as additional explanation: kind of huge generalization of isotropy assumption of Robertson-Walker cosmology.

In my own many-sheeted space-time cosmology is however replaced with Russian Doll cosmology: lightcones having lightcones within themselves. M^4xCP_2 would contain civilizations in all possible stages of evolution.

January 10, 2008 8:30 PM  
Blogger ramzahn said...

The question is: Do we observe "all possible stages of evolution"?

January 10, 2008 9:19 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

I have no comment regarding these other speculations, but I want to clarify the point of my original remark. I believe the idea is that there is some natural upper bound, due to quantum gravity, on the rate at which physical information can increase locally. Like the Bekenstein bound but increasing with time. Paola Zizzi has something like this (1, 2). Then the further proposal is that the bound which this imposes on the growth of local information processing complexity might be responsible for the failure to detect alien civilizations so far - there isn't yet room in the local gravitational Hilbert space (or whatever) for all the extra information which contact would bring. My point is that this is an implausible explanation because we clearly already have the ability to store terabytes more on this planet, just with existing computing hardware, and there is no reason why detection of an alien civilization should immediately result in even that much influx of information. And physically, we are many orders of magnitude from the Bekenstein limit anyway.

January 11, 2008 12:05 AM  
Blogger Kea said...

A synchronicity idea was what I had in mind. Your remarks are very interesting Mitchell, but the QG point that Matti is trying to explain (and which I agree with) is that the extra information isn't just a question of data on harddrives but about the level of consciousness of Earth as a whole, which must be considered as a quantum state just as qubits storing data on a computer.

January 11, 2008 9:03 AM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

But I don't see how that changes anything. Let us suppose that my momentary state of consciousness is a quantum state (of something). One day astronomers discover that the only way to make sense of the radiation and element-abundance profiles of some distant galaxy is to suppose an aeon-long process of stellar husbandry, clearly artificial. Then the Fermi paradox is no more, we now know they're out there. My state of consciousness will be different as a result, but the resulting change surely didn't demand that my mental Hilbert space acquired an extra dimension.

Now for all we know, maybe there is some slow cosmic phase transition which incrementally facilitates high-bandwidth communication between galactic civilizations. But you don't need to share googolbytes of information to wave hello to your neighbor! - and I can only see this hypothesis being relevant to bandwidth issues or to vaguer possibilities such as formation of entangled states on intergalactic scales, not to solving the basic problem of "where is everybody?".

It is also possible that signs of alien civilizations are already visible in the skies, but we don't yet know how to distinguish them from natural astronomical phenomena. And, to pile possibility on possibility, perhaps we have to undergo some transformation ourselves before we can recognize them as such (though if we're already equal to formulating the hypothesis, what is the mysterious extra ingredient necessary to validate it?). But in this case, I rather doubt that the present barrier to understanding is that the present state of the cosmos can't "accommodate the transmission of information". It would already appear to be physically possible, if we wished, for the human race to dismantle the planet Mercury and turn it into a little Dyson sphere of nanocomputers, quantum-entangled if that's necessary for whatever mysterious quantum leap is being proposed, thereby creating an information storage capacity orders of magnitude greater than that which presently exists in the sum total of all human brains on Earth. The fact that we haven't already done something like that must be attributed to the contingencies of developmental history in this solar system, not to cosmic background conditions, unless you are going to propose a third level of speculation according to which the galactic quantum mind provides the boundary conditions for life on Earth (or whatever).

January 12, 2008 3:50 PM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

A comment which summarizes my basic points. I believe that both Fermi paradox and dark matter problem tell much more about our misconceptions than about Universe.

To get rid of these misconceptions we must challenge our implicit beliefs about universe and quantum. I have been busily doing this for quite a many years now and I dare say that the results are impressive.

January 12, 2008 9:04 PM  

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