I'd been putting off setting up my blog for a few months. Reading this article was what finally prompted (maybe even *forced* because I was so excited) me to start writing. I had so many thoughts and a massive Twitter thread just didn't feel appropriate. A bit long but quite an entertaining read, I highly recommend taking your time and thoroughly soaking in the sheer idea of aliens being indistinguishable from physics.   
Given our knowledge about the existence of multiverses, why haven't we discovered advanced life forms yet? Caleb Scharf proposes "Alien life could be so advanced it becomes indistinguishable from physics."
The idea is "What if life has moved so far on that it doesn’t just appear magical, but appears like physics?"
Before we move any further, it is important to understand the Fermi Paradox, String Theory and Transcension Hypothesis well.

Here are some of my favorite explanations:
Fermi Paradox
The universe is so large that, "as many stars there are in our galaxy (100 – 400 billion), there are roughly an equal number of galaxies in the observable universe" and because it's so large, there should be other intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. But where is everyone? We've never been in contact with anyone despite our advanced technology. Thus, the paradox discusses possible reasons for the lack of extraterrestrial life.
        1. There are no other life forms. We are alone.
        2. There's a barrier all life forms go through and only we made it through.
        3. The barrier is still ahead of us and it destroys all life. Can we survive?
Transcension Hypothesis
The hypothesis suggests an answer to the Fermi Paradox. As Jason Silva summarizes it, "After our technological adolescent and expansionist explorations, we turn from outer space to inner space. Our journey undergoes S.T.E.M. compression - the compression of *Space*, *Time*, *Energy* and *Matter*, until non biological minds live inside virtual worlds at the nano and femto scale, further compressing complexity until we create black hole-like conditions and disappear from the visible universe." After which we get propelled into the "future" where other advanced civilizations are.

Hooray, background knowledge - now, let's dive into the article!
Schraf offers, "if machines continue to grow exponentially in speed and sophistication, they will one day be able to decode the staggering complexity of the living world, from its atoms and molecules all the way up to entire planetary biomes" and once it has reached a pinnacle, it will use these complexities to create physical realms and dimensions. Then it could be said that we are a result of such a construction of a new realm. We are the "sufficiently advanced life [that is] not just  unrecognizable, but [is blended] completely into the fabric of what we’ve thought of as nature". Fascinating. So does that mean we are the aliens we've been looking for? No. From my understanding, the "physics" that lead to our creation is what is the 'alien' in this situation. We are the result. Make sense? It's a little weird to wrap your head around it but totally mind blowing when it clicks. I guess it can also be said we are the alien because we are the result but because we haven't contacted other extraterrestrial life forms "yet", but then you come back to the idea of how physics lead to our creation and then this entire thought process keeps looping.
Moving on, dark matter. “Dark matter could contain real complexity, and perhaps it is where all technologically advanced life ends up or where most life has always been.” What exactly is it defining dark matter as? Some type of subatomic particles visible in a “range of light” outside the known spectrum? That would possibly justify it as the last barrier in the paradox. That reminds me of organisms like the tardigrade because they’re invincible in the most environments scientists have tested including space and vacuums.
Another solution to the Fermi Paradox: dark matter is where other realms exist and since we don't know what dark matter is composed of, we don't know how to "get into" the other realm. "Today, at any instant, about 400 photons of cosmic microwave radiation are streaming through any cubic centimeter of free space." What is defined as free space? If we look specifically at dark matter then as Schraf says, we can apply quantum mechanics. When I read that, immediately the Transcension Hypothesis comes up. Let me put it simply, the hypothesis is superior levels of cyborgs and quantum computing to evolve life. I recently attended a conference hosted by Chris Hadfield, "Generator". One of the speakers, Neil Harbisson had an antennae implanted into his skull that allows him to perceive ultraviolet and infrared colours. Another, Moon Ribas, had elbow implants that allowed her to sense earth and moon quakes. I’d consider these to be the early rise of the hypothesis.

Storing information. "By storing its essential data in photons, life could give itself a distributed backup system. And it could go further, manipulating new photons emitted by stars to dictate how they interact with matter". Another area where this is already being applied, is researchers storing data on DNA strands. How is DNA relevant to storing data on photons? Well, it's a small step to storing data on DNA before moving onto Photons. I've got a lot of scattered thoughts about this specific idea, not sure what I want to express yet. I shall update this when I know.

The third possibility it discusses could incorporate string theory - “that means our universe must be part of a vast multiverse where the strength of dark energy varies from place to place”. In Brian Greene's TED Talk, at 4:55 the he says “When the astronomers worked out how much of this dark energy must be infusing space to account for the cosmic speed up, look at what they found. This number is small. Expressed in the relevant unit, it is spectacularly small. And the mystery is to explain this peculiar number. We want this number to emerge from the laws of physics, but so far no one has found a way to do that”. And this is where I want to leave off at. In the words of Caleb Scharf, "Life might not just be in the equations. It might be the equations".

If you found this topic as fascinating as I did, I would recommend checking out Carl Sagan's "Contact". It's more detailed and if you're into numbers it's interesting.

You may also like

Back to Top