Chauvinists of Time

November 21, 2008 | 1 Comment

Category: Ontogeny

I’ve been reading Lee Smolin’s The Life of the Cosmos, where our universe is estimated to have been born from another universe’s black hole.  Smolin hypothesizes that the laws of our universe may have been naturally selected over time as universes gave birth to new universes with slight variations.  Those universes with laws providing for ease of black hole creation were the universes that proliferated.  Smolin advocates applying Darwin’s theory of natural selection to understanding universe reproduction and galaxy ecologies.

The scale of these events is unfathomable.  A thought that comes to mind is the strangeness of physicists’ assumptions that the unfolding of these events is not characterized by life or consciousness.  Whereas life and consciousness fill the lives of those of us who inhabit a planet, consciousness does not operate at either the scale of the molecular processes that make up our bodies or at the scale of the galaxies and universes that transform the star stuff that provides the molecules that we’re made of.

Whereas the mystic differentiates between life and nonlife while he or she notes that consciousness invests both the living and the not, I’m starting to wonder how we can so blithely differentiate between life and nonlife with the principles of evolution possibly unfolding on scales of the universe.

Smolin explores exclusively Darwin’s theory of natural selection.  Oddly, Smolin quotes from Darwin’s Lamarckian work, The Variations of Animals and Plants under Domestication for the beginning of a chapter in The Life of the Cosmos emphasizing non-Lamarckian selective processes.  The quote by Darwin states that if a hypothesis is useful, it deserves respect.  Darwin makes this statement in the context of his theory that provides for the environment informing nonrandom features in progeny.

Smolin’s stated assumption is that universe procreation is characterized by the random selection of features for universes born of black holes.  We don’t know enough about the huge suns with 30,000-year life spans that become black holes, creating new universes to suggest the dynamics of random vs. nonrandom origins of new features.  But we might surmise that the principles that drive the four-scale nature of this work–biology, society, ontogeny, personal experience–might be evident in the ways that universes reproduce.  We can look for the prolongation of features of early universes into later stages of descendant variations, and the withdrawing of later stages of universes to early stages, earlier in the ontogeny of descendent universes.  How we would look for qualities of maturation in universes is beyond me. It may have something to do with the sudden emerging acceleration of our universe, etiology unknown.

Two things come to mind.  We humans are chauvinists of scale and chauvinists of time.

We behave like life and consciousness are characteristic of where we sit and where we sit only on the scales from strings and subatomic particles to universes and universe lineages.

We estimate that time has beginnings and ends because beginnings and ends characterize what we observe at the scale we are in.  Perhaps we are prejudiced by biology.  We are clearly prejudiced to believe that life occurs only at the scale we are in.

It partly comes down to this:  What information does a star turning black hole use to inform how it will vary from the universe that gave it birth so it will more likely seamlessly integrate into the environment into which it’s being born, and produce more universes?

What is the character of the environment that a universe is within?


This entry was posted on Friday, November 21st, 2008 at 8:15 am and is filed under Ontogeny. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
1 Comment so far

  1. collin237 on December 20, 2015 7:59 am

    Lee Smolin is the one with the prejudice. He apparently can’t imagine an evolutionary process without the trappings of biology. But there’s no evidence for his theory.

    On the other hand, the fact that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate suggests that the environment is only this one universe, with a growing and evolving set of spatial points.

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