New York Times Science Section on Boltzmann Brains
|September 29, 2008||Posted by Dave S. under Science, Poe's Law|
This NYT article came out just this past January 18th. It’s worth reading the whole thing which is much longer than the choice quotes below the fold. I hadn’t been aware there was greatly increased support for the Boltzmann Brain due to the discovery of dark energy.
It could be the weirdest and most embarrassing prediction in the history of cosmology, if not science.
The basic problem is that across the eons of time, the standard theories suggest, the universe can recur over and over again in an endless cycle of big bangs, but it’s hard for nature to make a whole universe. It’s much easier to make fragments of one, like planets, yourself maybe in a spacesuit or even — in the most absurd and troubling example — a naked brain floating in space. Nature tends to do what is easiest, from the standpoint of energy and probability. And so these fragments — in particular the brains — would appear far more frequently than real full-fledged universes, or than us. Or they might be us.
Cosmologists also refer to them as “freaky observers,” in contrast to regular or “ordered” observers of the cosmos like ourselves. Cosmologists are desperate to eliminate these freaks from their theories, but so far they can’t even agree on how or even on whether they are making any progress.
“It is part of a much bigger set of questions about how to think about probabilities in an infinite universe in which everything that can occur, does occur, infinitely many times,” said Leonard Susskind of Stanford, a co-author of a paper in 2002 that helped set off the debate. Or as Andrei Linde, another Stanford theorist given to colorful language, loosely characterized the possibility of a replica of your own brain forming out in space sometime, “How do you compute the probability to be reincarnated to the probability of being born?”