January 18, 2008

Of this I am certain...

...everything I believe is wrong. Well, except for that. Or to depersonalize and contextualize it, 100 percent of what humans have believed to be the truth about the big questions -- the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything, as Douglas Adams put it -- is wrong, because the fractional percentage of things we've gotten right in the anywhere between 90,000 and 200,000 years ago is so exceedingly slight (and ephemeral--we have always been and still are incapable of knowing what's right) that it's far safer to assume any truth is absolutely wrong. Perhaps in Canaan 30 centuries ago, for one brief shining moment, a people worshiped the one true god -- Baal -- but were extinguished. We do know that Epicurus divined (I use the word ironically) that the stuff of the universe was made of tiny indivisible elements which much be so small as to be invisible; that insight was lost for thousands of years.

So I'm not particularly troubled by this story the New York Times ran the other day:

It could be the weirdest and most embarrassing prediction in the history of cosmology, if not science.

If true, it would mean that you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions.

I thought things were probably like that ever since I read Julian Barnes' book The End of Time, though I am certain I am wrong about this.

I liked this bit from Times article:

In the same way the odds of a real word showing up when you shake a box of Scrabble letters are greater than a whole sentence or paragraph forming, these “regular” universes would be vastly outnumbered by weird ones, including flawed variations on our own all the way down to naked brains...

In an interview Dr. Linde described these brains as a form of reincarnation. Over the course of eternity, he said, anything is possible. After some Big Bang in the far future, he said, “it’s possible that you yourself will re-emerge. Eventually you will appear with your table and your computer.”

But it’s more likely, he went on, that you will be reincarnated as an isolated brain, without the baggage of stars and galaxies. In terms of probability, he said, “It’s cheaper.”

First, "Naked Brains" should be a band (probably already is), in which case "Cheap Naked Brains" would be a good alternative. Except that I'm probably wrong...

Posted by Ideofact at January 18, 2008 11:34 PM