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III. Ecosmos: A 21st Century Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet Lifescape

1. Quantum Cosmology Theoretic Unity

Tegmark, Max. Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. New York: Knopf, 2014. The MIT physicist and cosmic imagineer writes an opus that stretches what might be conceived as an explanation for where and why we find ourselves. Human, earthly existence becomes valorized into four levels of parallel multiverses, each due to a mathematical occasion. A primer appears in the December 2013 issue of Discover magazine, quote below, see also a review in Nature (505/24, 2014). Earlier versions (search), are on arXiv and in Foundations of Physics (38/2). A brief capsule does not apply, so we quote from “Bottom Line” of the last chapter “Life, Our Universe and Everything,” where, in contrast to most science books , a significance is yet held out for human beings, if we may so choose.

Yes, the author does note that a certain Galileo made a similar surmise some 400 years ago, along with others such as Eugene Wigner. But his main mentor in the 1990s and 2000s was the physicist John Archibald Wheeler, who brought him for a stint at Princeton. The second quote is a luminous note from Wheeler to MT, which conveys an innate sense of an abiding reality and creative source that would reveal august meaning if only we could discern it. In regard, Tegmark carries forth Wheeler’s core conviction that somehow we people, by our fact and act of conscious observation and recognition, can indeed influence the future destiny of the whole cosmos.

* Even though our two intellectual expeditions set off in opposite directions, toward the large and the small, they ended up in the same place: in the realm of mathematical structures. * On the largest and smallest scales, the mathematical fabric of reality becomes evident, while it remains easy to miss on the intermediate scales that we humans are usually aware of. * If the ultimate fabric of reality really is mathematical, then everything is in principle understandable to us, and we’ll be limited only by our own imagination. * Evidence suggests that there’s no other life-form as advanced as us humans in our entire Universe. * From a cosmic perspective, the future potential of life in our Universe is vastly greater than anything we’ve seen so far. * Yet we humans devote only meager attention and resources to existential risks that threaten life as we know it, including accidental nuclear war and unfriendly artificial intelligence. * Although it’s easy to feel insignificant in our vast cosmos, the entire future of life in our Universe will arguably be decided on our planet in our lifetime – by you, me and our fellow passengers on Spaceship Earth. (Bottom Line, 398)

It was a great pleasure and encouragement to talk to you in Copenhagen as I believe you share my belief that under and behind quantum mechanics lies some deep and wonderful principle yet to be discovered, as Einstein’s great geometric idea threw unexpected light on the power and scope of Newton’s supposedly all-embracing theory. The likelihood of such a discovery is surely proportional to our belief that there is something there to be discovered. (J. A. Wheeler’s 1996 note to MT, 214-215)

The Mathematical Universe Hypothesis implies that we live in a relational reality, in the sense that the properties of the world around us stem not from properties of its ultimate buildings blocks, but from the relations among these building blocks. This crazy-sounding belief of mine that our physical world not only is described by mathematics, but that it is mathematics, makes us self-aware parts of a giant mathematical object. (Discover, 47)

Tegmark, Max. Parallel Universes. Scientific American. May, 2003. Imaginative speculations on the implications of the latest quantum and cosmological physics which are opening upon hidden dimensions and an immense variety of universes.

Tegmark, Max. The Mathematical Universe. www.arxiv.org/abs/0704.0646. In this technical paper, first posted online as above, the MIT theoretical cosmologist reports on a decade of work toward an historic reconception that, as noted, would please Galileo. A full published copy is available in Foundations of Physics (38/2, 2008) with a popular summary in the New Scientist for September 15, 2007. Tegmark also directs the Foundational Questions Institute, funded by the Templeton Foundation, which can be accessed at: www.fqxi.org. A recent capsule of his life-friendly cosmology is noted in Current Vistas.

I explore physics implications of the External Reality Hypothesis (ERH) that there exists an external physical reality completely independent of us humans. I argue that with a sufficiently broad definition of mathematics, it implies the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) that our physical world is an abstract mathematical structure. I discuss various implications of the ERH and MUH, ranging from standard physics topics like symmetries, irreducible representations, units, free parameters and initial conditions to broader issues like consciousness, parallel universes and Godel incompleteness. I hypothesize that only computable and decidable (in Godel's sense) structures exist, which alleviates the cosmological measure problem and help explain why our physical laws appear so simple. I also comment on the intimate relation between mathematical structures, computations, simulations and physical systems. Abstract 101)

By insisting on a complete description of reality, the MUH (Mathematical Universe Hypothesis) banishes not only the classical notion of initial conditions, but also the classical notion of randomness. The traditional view of randomness (viewed either classically or as in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics) is only meaningful in the context of an external time, so that one can start with one state and then have something random "happen," causing two or more possible outcomes. In contrast, the only intrinsic properties of a mathematical structure are its relations, timeless and unchanging. In a fundamental sense, the MUH thus implies Einstein's dictum "God does not play dice." (118)

Toffoli, Tommaso, ed. Digital Perspectives. International Journal of Theoretical Physics. 42/2, 2003. A special issue devoted to exploring Edward Fredkin’s conception of a quantum universe that can be best understood in terms of discrete qualities similar to a computer program.

Turner, Michael. A Century of Physics: 1950 – 2050. Physics Today. September, 2009. From the University of Chicago, a review of past advances in quantum cosmology and a look ahead to a theory of quantum gravity, a “complete story of the universe,” the physics of complex “living things.” But its Ptolemaic mechanical paradigm and trillion year cosmic timeline does not include, has no place for, the very people able to achieve and articulate such vistas. Future projects will also engage “how biological machines work.” There is the greatest need to address these deep contradictions and to found an organic genesis universe with human creative cognizance as its central point.

Turner, Michael and J. Anthony Tyson. Cosmology at the Millennium. Reviews of Modern Physics. 71/2, 1999. A retrospective on humankinds’ progress in the 20th century to observe and describe in word, number, symbol and equation a vast, still unfolding, galactic cosmos.

Turok, Neil. The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2012. The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics director has stepped up to make this major contribution about the state of physical cosmology. The text is from his CBC Massey Lectures presented October 2012 in six cities to sold out audiences across Ontario (CBC Canadian Broadcasting Company). A clear survey of the historical endeavors and highlights of physics: “It is a story of fun, yearning, determination, and most of all, humanity and awe before nature.” (49) Yes, all are men, with much technology, the cosmic scenario is mechanically abstract, but as rare today the work is quite optimismic over an on-going promise. With this scene in place, Turok confronts a pervasive pessimism by dismissing string theory, Stephen Weinberg’s “pointless” mantra, and especially Lawrence Krauss’s The Universe from Nothing, along with Richard Dawkins nasty afterword, for malicious claims of an indifferent, accidental, senseless universe. As noted in Alan Lightman above, Freeman Dyson in World Philosophy, and elsewhere, a miasma confounds physics, evolution, and most science and humanities quick to write off, and abandon in despair. Important correctives as this, also Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel, and others, are vital to get reality back on a positive future track.

At every stage in the history of the universe, there was the potential for vastly more than what had been required to reach that stage. Today, this is more true than ever. Our understanding of the universe has grown faster than anyone could have imagined a century ago, way beyond anything that could be explained in terms of past evolutionary advantage. We cannot know what new technologies we will create, but if the past is any guide, they will be extraordinary. Commercial space travel is about to become a reality. Quantum computers are on the horizon, and they may completely transform our experience of the world. Are all these capabilities simply accidental? Or are we actually the door-openers to the future? Might we be the means for the universe to gain a consciousness of itself? (201)

Through a deeper appreciation of the universe and our ability to comprehend it, not just scientists but everyone can gain. At a minimum, the magnificent cosmos provides some perspective on our parochial, human-created problems, be they social or political. Nature is organized in better ways, from which we can learn. The love of nature can bring us together and help us to appreciate that we are part of something far greater than ourselves. This sense of belonging, responsibility, and common cause brings with it humility, compassion, and wisdom. It is time to connect our science to our humanity, and in so doing to raise the sights of both. If we can only link our intelligence to our hearts, the doors are wide open to a brighter future, to a more unified planet with more unified science. What a privilege it is to be alive. Truly, we are faced with the opportunity of all time. (256-257)

Vazza, Franco. On the Complexity and the Information Content of Cosmic Structures. arXiv:1611:09348. A Hamburg University mathematical cosmologist with a 2009 doctorate from the University of Bologna proposes a novel astro-analysis so as to include nature’s intrinsic informative and organizational propensities, as the Abstract conveys. FV has become a prolific contributor in these fields, see for example The Quest for Extragalactic Magnetic Fields at 1611:00043.

The emergence of cosmic structure is commonly considered one of the most complex phenomena in Nature. However, this complexity has never been defined nor measured in a quantitative and objective way. In this work we propose a method to measure the information content of cosmic structure and to quantify the complexity that emerges from it, based on Information Theory. The emergence of complex evolutionary patterns is studied with a statistical symbolic analysis of the datastream produced by state-of-the-art cosmological simulations of forming galaxy clusters. This powerful approach allows us to measure how many bits of information are necessary to predict the evolution of energy fields in a statistical way, and it offers a simple way to quantify when, where and how the cosmic gas behaves in complex ways.

The most complex behaviors are found in the peripheral regions of galaxy clusters, where supersonic flows drive shocks and large energy fluctuations over a few tens of million years. Describing the evolution of magnetic energy requires at least a twice as large amount of bits than for the other energy fields. When radiative cooling and feedback from galaxy formation are considered, the cosmic gas is overall found to double its degree of complexity. In the future, Cosmic Information Theory can significantly increase our understanding of the emergence of cosmic structure as it represents an innovative framework to design and analyze complex simulations of the Universe in a simple, yet powerful way. (Abstract)

Vedral, Vlatko. Living in a Quantum World. Scientific American. June, 2011. A long time in coming, a University of Oxford and National University of Singapore physicist describes novel insights into how quantum phenomena are being found to apply not only in arcane subatomic realms, but, as many have suspected, are in similar evidence for classical macroscopic living systems. “Entanglement,” the interaction of far-flung objects, and other such effects, is increasing recognized in chemical compounds, cellular doings, photosynthesis, superconductivity, vibrational motion, avian flockings, and so on. So the 20th century revolution continues apace, as it promising to now enter a vital new synthesis.

Verlinde, Erik. On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton. arXiv:1001.0785v1. The weekly New Scientist often extols the far frontiers of physics to interest readers. But once in a while, an item appears of much significance. This is the case with “Gravity’s Origin Falling into Place” (January 23, 2010) which reports on the above paper by the University of Amsterdam physicist. We quote at length whereof Verlinde considers Newton’s law to arise naturally in an emergent space from an intrinsic holographic universe. Similar to a credit card hologram, in such a cosmic context, a three-dimensional image lies embedded on a two-dimensional surface. One might add that every iota then characteristically contains a modicum of the entire scene. Peer approval comes from Nobel physicist Gerard t’Hooft of Utrecht University who commends the theory because it is founded on real physical features such as mass and force, and not just abstract mathematics.

The universality of gravity suggests that its emergence should be understood from general principles that are independent of the specific details of the underlying microscopic theory. In this paper we will argue that the central notion needed to derive gravity is information. More precisely, it is the amount of information associated with matter and its location, in whatever form the microscopic theory likes to have it, measured in terms of entropy. (2) The most important assumption will be that the information associated with a part of space obeys the holographic principle [8, 9]. The strongest supporting evidence for the holographic principle comes from black hole physics [1, 3] and the AdS/CFT correspondence. (2)

In this paper we present a holographic scenario for the emergence of space and address the origins of gravity and inertia, which are connected by the equivalence principle. Starting from first principles, using only space independent concepts like energy, entropy and temperature, it is shown that Newton's laws appear naturally and practically unavoidably. Gravity is explained as an entropic force caused by a change in the amount of information associated with the positions of bodies of matter. (3)

Vilenkin, Alex. Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. The Russian-American, Tufts University cosmologist writes his book to champion how the latest quantum, string and celestial physics seem imply an infinity and eternity of bubbling universes, each with a wide range of parameters, most destined to oblivion. Our local cosmos is a rarest, finely tuned instance which permits life and human observers to exist. By this last Copernican demotion, earth and human attain ultimate denigration. A clash of cosmologies reigns today, at the root of our civilizational chaos, with a waxing genesis creation on the horizon. (See also Knobe in World Philosophy)

In the worldview that has emerged from eternal inflation, our Earth and our civilization are anything but unique. Instead, countless identical civilizations are scattered in the infinite expanse of the cosmos. With humankind reduced to absolute cosmic insignificance, our descent from the center of the world is now complete. (117)

Walleczek, Jan and Gerhard Groessing. Is the World Local or Nonlocal? Towards an Emergent Quantum Mechanics in the 21st Century. arXiv:1603.02862. A keynote for the EmQM15 (Google) Emergent Quantum Mechanics conference held at Vienna University of Technology in October 2015. Walleczek is a German physicist previously at Stanford University Medical School and MPI for Molecular Genetics. Groessing is an Austrian Institute for Nonlinear Studies physicist. Among the 39 speakers (37 men and 2 women – Ana Maria Cetto and Silke Weinfurtner) are Gerard ‘t Hooft and Basil Hiley. Both talk abstracts and full slides are on the EmQM15 site. Into these 2010s, as worldwise scientific collaborations rethink everything, there are serious issues with the 20th century, rudimentary version of this deepest realm. As the quotes allude, older abstractions need to be brought into agreement with the nonlinear network sciences, whose pervasive presence implies a more organic milieu.

What defines an emergent quantum mechanics (EmQM)? Can new insight be advanced into the nature of quantum nonlocality by seeking new links between quantum and emergent phenomena as described by self-organization, complexity, or emergence theory? Could the development of a future EmQM lead to a unified, relational image of the cosmos? One key motivation for adopting the concept of emergence in relation to quantum theory concerns the persistent failure in standard physics to unify the two pillars in the foundations of physics: quantum theory and general relativity theory (GRT). The total contradiction in the foundational, metaphysical assumptions that define orthodox quantum theory versus GRT might render inter-theoretic unification impossible. On the one hand, indeterminism and non-causality define orthodox quantum mechanics, and, on the other hand, GRT is governed by causality and determinism. How could these two metaphysically-contradictory theories ever be reconciled? The concept of emergence, and the development of an EmQM, might help advance a common foundation - physical and metaphysical - as required for successful inter-theory unification. (Abstract)

The resurgence of interest in ontological quantum theory, including both deterministic and indeterministic approaches, challenges long held assumptions and directs focus towards the following questions: Is the world local or nonlocal? What is the nature of quantum nonlocality? If nonlocal, i.e., superluminal, influences exist then why can’t they be used for superluminal signaling and communication? How is the role of the scientific observer/agent to be accounted for in realistic approaches to quantum theory? How could recent developments in the field of space-time as an emergent phenomenon advance new insight at this research frontier? These and related questions will be addressed in the context also of a possible “deeper level theory“ for quantum mechanics that interconnects three fields of knowledge: emergence, the quantum, and information. The symposium provides a forum for considering (i) current theoretical and conceptual obstacles which need to be overcome as well as (ii) promising developments and research opportunities on the way towards realistic quantum mechanics. (Conference Overview)

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