Re: Book: The Life of the Cosmos

Hal Finney (
Mon, 7 Jul 1997 17:29:47 -0700

Here is a quote which gives the rudiments of Smolin's idea about natural
selection of universes:

> "The other idea with which Smolin is associated is "natural selection"
> of universes. He's saying that in some sense the universes that allow
> complexity and evolution reproduce themselves more efficiently than
> other universes. The ensemble itself is thus evolving in some complicated
> way. When stars die, they sometimes form black holes. (This is something
> which I wear my astrophysical hat to study.) Smolin speculates (as others,
> like Alan Guth, have also done) that inside a black hole it's possible
> for a small region to, as it were, sprout into a new universe. We don't
> see it, but it inflates into some new dimension. Smolin takes that idea
> on board, but then introduces another conjecture, which is that the
> laws of nature in the new universe are related to those in the previous
> universe. This differs from Andrei Linde's idea of a random ensemble,
> because Smolin supposes that the new universe retains physical laws
> not too different from its parent universe. What that would mean is
> that universes big and complex enough to allow stars to form, evolve,
> and die, and which can therefore produce lots of black holes, would have
> more progeny, because each black hole can then lead to a new universe;
> whereas a universe that didn't allow stars and black holes to form would
> have no progeny. Therefore Smolin claims that the ensemble of universes
> may evolve not randomly but by some Darwinian selection, in favor of
> the potentially complex universes."


If we wanted to extend this in an Extropian direction, we might assume that
a universe which allows the formation of intelligent life will produce an
extra-large number of progeny thanks to the intervention of those life forms.
There are, however, some problems with this idea. Why create unpopulated