The End of the Universe According to Monkeys

On a recent podcast episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage, guest Brian Greene made a claim that suggested if we were to wait long enough (and able to see the end of the universe) that a brain would manifest itself in space.

Here’s the transcript I took from the audio, around the 17min40sec mark.

“[…] and if you keep on going, even beyond that, if you allow yourself to think about those particles wafting through the void – if you wait 10 to the 10 to the 10 to the 68 years. Alright, now we have a double exponential […] it’s possible that particles wafting through the void will just, by their random motions, recreate a brain. Thought itself may be resurrected in the far future through the random motion of particles.”

Now THAT’S the stuff I like right there. A cosmologist saying nutty sci-fi things like that. You’ve heard the saying, “something from nothing”, how about, “a brain from nothing”.

Oh, it gets better. He goes on to explain that his own brain could be recreated and that he could be hallucinating everything right now!

“[…] in fact those motion, those particles could recreate, say, my brain, the exact particulate arrangement of the ingredients inside my head right now. Which means I actually could be hallucinating this conversation and I’m just a brain floating in the void with memories and experiences that never happened – they are just mopped up by the particle arrangement of those randomly moving elementary constituents of matter.”

I think Brian Greene has taken psychedelics at some point in his life. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure he mentioned that on his most recent interview on the JRE podcast.

Another guest during The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast, astrophysicist Katie Mack, then goes on to explain that this is called the ‘Boltzmann Brain‘ thought experiment (transcribed from audio):

“[…] this is call the Boltzmann Brain problem, and the problem is that if you hypothesize a universe that is eternally expanding in this way – dominated by this dark energy which causes this accelerated expansion – then you can calculate for, under certain assumptions, that it’s much more likely that you are a hallucinating the entire history of the universe, then that the universe actually exists in any meaningful way”

Woah. It’s all fake and nothing means anything. Thanks for bumming me out, Kate.

Well, at least there were some laughs along the way. Actor, comedian, and banjo player, Steve Martin, was a guest on the show as well. He rips some good dingers and made me laugh.

If you’re looking for some fun, thought provoking content, you can listen to The Infinite Monkey Cage episode here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p08dy6ym

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(fun in photoshop)

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