[ExI] Re: Where’s my body’s Control Panel ?

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Tue Apr 14 01:32:27 UTC 2009

At 10:34 AM 4/14/2009 +0930, Emlyn wrote:

>If, before you
>colonize the galaxy, you first engineer yourself out of Middle
>World, then your mega engineering might look to the primitives like
>very strange rules of physics that almost make sense but not quite.

To quote THE SPIKE, where I recalled Stanislaw Lem's fictional notion:

<Re-writing the cosmic laws

Polish polymath Stanislaw Lem once made a similar suggestion.[1] Then 
why don't we find all those archaic galactic civilizations?

           ...because they are already everywhere... A 
billion-year-old civilization employs [no instrumental technologies]. 
Its tools are what we call the Laws of Nature. The present Universe 
no longer is the field of play of forces chemical, pristine, blindly 
giving birth to and destroying suns and their systems... In the 
Universe it is no longer possible to distinguish what is `natural' 
(original) from what is `artificial' (transformed).

The primordial cosmos might have possessed different laws in 
different regions (a notion common to current claims by cosmologists 
Fred Hoyle and Andrei Linde). If so, only in certain remote patches 
might life arise. Attempting to stabilize its environment, each early 
Spiked culture would jiggle the local laws of physics to its taste, 
until in their hungry expansion for living space they begin to 
encroach upon each other's territories.
           Vast wars would follow: `The fronts of their clashes made 
gigantic eruptions and fires, for prodigious amounts of energy were 
released by annihilation and transformations of various kinds... 
collisions so powerful that their echo reverberates to this day'--in 
the form of the 2.7 degree Kelvin background radiation, mistakenly 
assumed to be a residue of the Big Bang. It is a charming 
cosmogony--an explanation for the birth and shape of the observed 
universe--and it fits all too neatly with the colossal intergalactic 
filaments and voids first detected years after Lem published his jape...
           This universe of Lem's, torn asunder in conflict over its 
very architecture by titanic Exes and Powers, is saved from utter 
ruin by the laws of game-theory, which ensure that the former 
combatants must henceforth remain in strict isolation from each 
other. The chosen laws of physics that prevail, as a result, are just 
those restrictive rules we chafe under today: a limited speed of 
light chosen to slow conflicts, an expanding spacetime (good fences 
make good neighbors, don't you know). We live upon a scratchy board 
abandoned by the Gamers. The Universe observed and theorized by 
science is no more than `a field of multibillion-year labors, 
stratified one on the other over the eons, tending to goals of which 
the closest and most minute fragments are fragmentarily perceptible to us.'
           This delicious logic was not a bid by the distinctly 
atheistic Stanislaw Lem to reinstate a religious perspective in his 
then-communist Poland--something that the triumphant revival of 
Catholicism has done in the meantime, no doubt to Lem's chagrin. Nor 
am I seriously suggesting that this is how our universe really began. 
But the scenario does sketch out rather brilliantly just the kind of 
universe we might expect this one to become, following the human 
Spike. If so, has it happened elsewhere already? >

[1]   `The New Cosmogony', in his delightful collection of reviews of 
non-existent books, A Perfect Vacuum, Mandarin, 1991 (originally in 
English in 1979, sublimely translated by Michael Kandel), pp. 
197-229.  I am grateful to Mitch Porter and John Redford for 
reminding me of this wonderful, funny piece.

Damien Broderick

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