Astrophysicist Caleb Scarf has asked us to consider a daring hypothesis for conundrums around dark matter and dark energy
Columbia astrophysicist Caleb A. Scharf, has proposed that, if advanced technology might look like magic to less technologically advanced viewers, very advanced technology might look like the laws of nature:News, “What if ET has morphed into what we now call the laws of nature?” at Mind Matters News
Toward the end of Carl Sagan’s 1985 science-fiction novel Contact, the protagonist follows the suggestion of an extraterrestrial to study transcendental numbers. After computing to 1020th places, she finds a clearly artificial message embedded in the digits of this fundamental number. In other words, part of the fabric of the universe is a product of intelligence or is perhaps even life itself.
It’s a great mind-bending twist for a book. Perhaps hyper-advanced life isn’t just external. Perhaps it’s already all around. It is embedded in what we perceive to be physics itself, from the root behavior of particles and fields to the phenomena of complexity and emergence.
In other words, life might not just be in the equations. It might be the equations.Caleb Scharf, “Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?” at Nautilus (November 17, 2016)
This is a somewhat different riff from the hypothesis that we are a simulation advanced extraterrestrials have created. That hypothesis assumes that they manipulate natural laws; this one assumes they are the laws, more or less.
Takehome: Scharf’s hypothesis highlights the genuine difficulty of accounting for a universe that comes into existence without any underlying intelligence at all. His thought experiment amounts to an intelligent design hypothesis for the universe in which the creators and the laws of nature turn out to be the same thing. It is much bolder than the usual arguments around fine-tuning of our universe. It highlights the genuine difficulty of accounting for a universe that comes into existence without any underlying intelligence at all.