While in France last week, I finished reading
"The Five Ages of the Universe",
by Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin, Touchstone, 1999
which is a comprehensible interpretation of the hard-physics paper Anders
first mentioned (and I subsequently referenced) regarding the evolution
and eventual end of the universe.
The good news is the book is very readable and pretty optimistic
for future possibilities. We can clearly get through the stelliferous
era (10^14 years), and if dark matter is real, probably the degenerate
era (10^39th years), though at a much reduced computation rate, and
perhaps even the black hole era (10^100 years).
They fail to delve into the possibilities SIs "saving" hydrogen
for controlled burning after the stelliferous era, or SI engineering
to prevent the proton decay of the degenerate era, or what happens
if there is no "real" dark matter. However, they make up for it with
a fairly wild scheme for building computers out of black holes
(though they compute pretty slowly...). They even toss a coin or two
at generating escape universes.
They also dump a fair amount of cold water on contracting universes,
have only a single reference for Tipler and don't discuss the
Omega-point Theory at all, presumably being unworthy of consideration
given our current knowledge of the universe.
Though I haven't read the entire Omega-point discussion, I'd urge
those people who have a problem with it to have people read this book.
It rests on a hard-core physical view of the universe as it is currently
perceived today (with only some "minor" stretching vis-a-vis the dark
matter and lifetime of the proton [for which only theoretical arguments
If future editions get extended to include some of the concepts we
frequently discuss, then we will have a nice framework on which to
rest many extropian perspectives.
I'd urge adding this book to the EI booklist as "approved"
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