Volume 1, Issue 1 
1st Quarter, 2006

The Physics of Immortality, Threats to Terran Society, & Self-Replicating Nanotechnology, and An Exchange Between Frank Tipler and Ray Kurzweil Regarding Ways to Avoid an End to the Universe

Frank Tipler, Ph.D. and Ray Kurzweil, Ph.D.

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The essence of immortality is that we live forever, having an infinite number of experiences. The first person to actually consider whether this is possible was Freeman Dyson.

Freeman Dyson was concerned about how life could exist in an ever-expanding universe. I wondered if it is possible to have life continue to exist in a universe that expands to a maximum size and Tiplerre-contracts after finite time into a final singularity. I concluded - and this is the essence of what I worked out in my book, The Physics of Immortality - that it is possible for that to occur in a closed universe that behaves as I've described.

A shock for me were the experimental results from the late 1990s showing that the universe is not slowing down as my theory required, but that it is actually accelerating. Interestingly enough, an accelerating universe is also completely lethal to Dyson's theory. That's because in Dyson's theory, life, in order to exist, has to expand and engulf more and more matter on which to base its actual systems.

In my version, I also have life engulfing and taking control of the entire closed universe. Now, if the acceleration of the universe were to continue at its present rate, all the galaxies out there that we now see will eventually pass outside our event horizon in such a scenario - an unlimited continually accelerating universe. And then, because of lack of resources, life will inevitably die out. And it doesn't matter which type of universe you are in - open, flat or closed. You get nailed in any case and there is nothing we can do if the acceleration were to go on forever.

If life therefore is to exist forever, somehow this universal acceleration must be halted. Remarkably, the standard model of particle physics actually provides a mechanism for this. And the same mechanism to stop the acceleration provided by the standard model of particle physics also explains why there is actually more matter in the universe than antimatter.Unfortunately, this process is restricted mainly to particle physics. It has various names. In this talk, I'll call it "electroweak quantum tunneling."

I should emphasize for people who are not familiar with the standard model of particle physics that it is the model that explains everything except for gravity. It has been the standard theory in physics for about thirty years. Because you get an automatic Nobel Prize if you refute this theory, all particle experimenters are out there trying to refute it by conducting experiments showing that it is wrong. So far, they have failed. So I'm fairly confident, although I won't go so far as to say very confident, that we can actually trust this theory.

What does it tell us? It tells us that the universe's acceleration is due to a positive cosmological constant which is actually there in the equation - Lagrangian actually - for quantum gravity. And it's slightly larger in magnitude than the Higgs field negative energy density. For those of you who are not connoisseurs of the standard model, you've probably never heard of the Higgs field. The Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman calls it the "God particle," because it is the most important particle in the standard model. One of the things it does is to give rise to the mass of all particles, including itself. It is also responsible for splitting the electroweak force into the electromagnetic force on the one hand and the weak force on another. It is an extremely important particle, so calling it “the God particle” is somewhat appropriate.

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