Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Matter of Size

A wonderful article in Nautilus titled Can a Living Creature Be as Big as a Galaxy? is informative to the max, complete with a terrific set of illustrations, courtesy John Hendrix.





Addendum: What about on the supersize end of the spectrum? William S. Burroughs, in his novel The Ticket That Exploded, imagined that beneath a planetary surface, lies “a vast mineral consciousness near absolute zero thinking in slow formations of crystal.” The astronomer Fred Hoyle wrote dramatically and convincingly of a sentient hyper-intelligent “Black Cloud,” comparable to Earth-sun distance. His idea presaged the concept of Dyson spheres, massive structures that completely surround a star and capture most of its energy. It is also supported by calculations that my colleague Fred Adams and I are performing, that indicate that the most effective information-processing structures in the current-day galaxy might be catalyzed within the sooty winds ejected by dying red giant stars. For a few tens of thousands of years, dust-shrouded red giants provide enough energy, a large enough entropy gradient, and enough raw material to potentially out-compute the biospheres of a billion Earth-like planets.

Food for thought, eh? :)

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