Nov 042016

by Kim Pederson…….

So in the previous blog I mentioned that the bright side of the Higgs doomsday ball of instant death (BID) that may eradicate us at any moment (either that or 10 to the 100 years from now, which would be better since Medicare and Social Security would have run out by then) was that the BID would “save us” from the space brain threat. More specifically, it would “do away with a paradoxical menagerie of disembodied intelligent beings that shouldn’t exist.” At least that’s how Adam Becker puts it in his New Scientist article “Death by Higgs Rids Cosmos of Space Brain Threat.”

Probably not what a space brain would look like.*

Probably not what a space brain would look like.*

Decker explains that the space brain threat came to light ten years or so ago when physicists (pesky little devils that they are) were noodling around with models of the universe and “discovered” that our future is filled with “Boltzman brains,” that is “fully formed conscious entities that pop out of the vacuum.” These brains would materialize, apparently, just because “there’s nothing to stop matter sometimes arranging itself in just the right way for this to occur.”

The Boltzman of note here was a 19th century Austrian physicist whose work led to the idea that a “thermal fluctuation” could give rise to a conscious entity that sees the universe. No way of telling, of course, if these pop-up corporeally challenged individuals would have good or evil intent. They might be like the bad boy who terrorizes earth in the 1988 horror film The Brain. If this were the case, we might wish for the BID to arrive because “the Higgs field will destroy the universe and the Boltzman brain paradox will be resolved.”

On the other hand, they might be friendly and charmingly befuddled, like Uncle Arthur on Bewitched. They are bound to be more intelligent, one would think, than we are given they wouldn’t be weighted down by having to decide what to have for breakfast and other such mundane requirements of a physical existence.

This gives me a thought. A group of us plays trivia on Thursday evenings and we often get stumped by questions like “what’s the largest object a blue whale could swallow?” The poster for trivia night says something like “Want to do better. Bring more brains!” This would be the perfect way to do that. Now if I can just figure out how to cause a thermal fluctuation. Just a small one, mind you. No need rearrange the entire universe just to win a round of Fireball shots for our table, as tempting as that might seem. After all, as Kurt says in The Brain that Wouldn’t Die, “the paths of experimentation twist and turn through mountains of miscalculations and often lose themselves in errors and darkness!” It seems best to avoid that, don’t you think?

*Theatrical poster for the film The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962). Public Domain.

Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings.

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Kim Pederson
Kim Pederson has been a freelance writer and editor since 1996. Prior to that, he was Senior Editor with Charles River Associates, an international economics consulting firm. Kim earned a B.A. in English (Honors) from the University of Montana and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop. His plays have won awards and been produced in Seattle and other locations; his screenplays have won awards and been optioned, and he has done work-for-hire scripts for film production companies. Kim lives in Key West with his wife Kalo and two Maine coon cats, VeuDeu and Pazuzu.
 November 4, 2016  Posted by at 12:50 am Issue #191, Kim Pederson  Add comments