Friday, January 28, 2005

Cosmic evolution

My partner has been reading a book on the multi-universe interpretation of quantum theory for her research on the films of Alain Renais. Yeah, that's what I thought.

I hadn't realised that the multi-universe view was still in the running but apparently it is and the book is a sort of tribute to physicist John Wheeler.

One thing that struck me was the use of the concept of evolution in two chapters. In one it was used just as a metaphor - the laws of the universe, such as the speed of light, may be changing, evolving.

But in the other chapter the term evolution was used more literally - the possibility that quantum wave states compete to become actualised at the macroscopic level.

There is one aspect of the evolving universe theory that is intriguing. If the laws governing the development of the universe can change, is it possible that conscious action can influence such change? Is it possible that the decisions made by sentient life can change the future of the universe, not just in terms of what events will occur, but by changing the laws through which events occur?

Given that a lot of the nastier aspects of life can in a sense be traced back to the laws of thermodynamics this would raise interesting possibilities. Presumably any such influence by the living would be very, very small in comparison to the non-living, but then it is only the living that can choose.

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