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Terraforming the Cosmos

If you’re a sci-fi buff you know all about terraforming. That means changing a planet’s “atmosphere, temperature, surface topography or ecology to be similar to the environment of Earth to make it habitable by Earth-like life.” In your dreams right now, but the reality is probably almost on us.

It sounds kind of far-off, if not far out, in all senses of the word, and even distasteful if it could ever be done. But guess what? Now the discussion du jour is how to terraform Mars. It’s so banal that there’s even an entry for it in Wikipedia.

But even that is getting old hat. “Tabby’s Star” is a far-off object, presumed to be a star, recently discovered by astronomers who have found that it inexplicably dims. There’s no obvious explanations for the dimming.

But a new thesis is that this star is surrounded by an alien magastructure. Maybe that’s fanciful, but if it were true, would that count as terraforming too, this time, not of Mars, but of space itself? If so, an alien race has already been building cosmic infrastructure, just like politicians say they want to do here in the US of A but never actually get round to doing it. Maybe they will if its NIMBY?.

Terraforming planets? Terraforming a star’s spatial environment? If you can do that, why not terraform a solar system? A galaxy? What the hell, how about terraforming the entire universe?

Terraforming planets is the easy part. For starters there’s self-replicating robots, so beloved of sci-fi writers. The famous scientist John Von Neumann has already written how these could explore the universe. These would get their raw materials from planets with the right materials (no shortage of real estate here folks).

But now we have a new wrinkle – 3D printers. Self-replicating 3D printers. So we could have self-replicating printers and robo-workers to build factories, road, and even human parts. All over the galaxy and the universe. Whatever we want built is built. Piece of cake, really.

But what about terraforming galaxies or even universes? Obviously impossible. Or is it? If we wanted to terraform a universe, or several of them, how would we do it? Where would one even start? Smoking something perhaps?

It’s out there alright, but some dim outlines of how it could be done are starting to form in the cosmic haze.

There’s a theoretical basis for wormholes between dimensions. It actually comes from the master himself, Albert Einstein in his original general theory of relativity. With a collaborator, Nathan Rosen, he advanced the idea of a bridge between different parts of space. So there’s some good authority here, albeit no data at this stage. Still, it’s a start.

Recent research and thinking by cosmologists suggest there are ways to utilize these wormholes to get from point A to point B across different points of cosmic space. Could we use wormholes to transfer vast amounts of energy and matter across universes? How would we do that though?

Naturally the answer (at this stage) is black holes. There’s been plenty of speculation that these massive objects could be wormholes to other universes. Super-massive black holes can have the mass of a billion suns or more – check this one out that has a mass of 17 BILLION suns. Bring your high SPF sunscreen when you venture close.

What if we could download that mass, either in total or in part to the galaxy or universe it happens to reside in? That’s a new galaxy or several! That’s terraforming the cosmos all right.

And there are huge numbers of black holes. So there’s a lot more where that came from.

Black holes of course have the horsepower to move vast amounts of matter and energy if we can figure out how to harness their humongous stores of matter. If so we could move huge amounts of it – light or dark matter - to different places in and between galaxies so that we could change the mass distribution and the spatial locations of planets, stars and even galaxies just by directing the mass to different places. I think that would definitely count as terraforming the cosmos also.

String theory suggests there are other dimensions (10, 11 or 26). We can’t see them but they seem to be curled up. There is some sense that these might be another way to get between different points of the universe or even between different universes. Maybe we could figure out how to utilize them to get across different universes, as shown in the 1997 movie “Contact”.

A relatively new finding is that gravitation might be as weak as it is because it is shared between the different dimensions. Currently we call this “leakage” but you can also imagine it as a transportation mechanism for gravity between different cosmological locations. In that case it could be used to alter the distribution of mass and energy in different galaxies and universes. Another cosmic terraforming wrinkle for the curious.

I think you get the idea. If we can think things like this now, what will be thinking in a hundred years (if we survive of course). Terraforming the cosmos is likely to move from being totally weird to starting to knock softly on the doors of the common imagination, if not doability.

Of course if we can do it, so can ETs from civilizations way more advanced than ours. Maybe what we see out there is a cosmos that has already been “terraformed” by ET, or more accurately ETerraformed. They got there before us? The guys behind the Tabby Star megastructure. Spoilsports!

Maybe another name for that ET is God?











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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

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