How Many Saints Are There in Outer Space?
The Endgame of the Technological Revolution
"[Bruno] is known for his cosmological theories, which conceptually extended the then-novel Copernican model. He proposed that the stars were distant suns surrounded by their own planets, and he raised the possibility that these planets might foster life of their own, a philosophical position known as cosmic pluralism. He also insisted that the universe is infinite and could have no 'center.'"
The Vatican, when confronted with this idea, asked: How many Popes are there in outer space? How many saints are there in outer space? This was unacceptable, and they burned Bruno alive.
We have since dreamed of reaching a Kardashev Civilization Type I and becoming worthy of that lofty achievement. Americans imagined the possibility in Star Trek and Star Wars fantasies. Those space operas revolve around mentalities and soul-based power, because advancing to control an entire planet (and beyond) is a question of motivation. Evolution of civilization becomes a question not of power, but of spirituality. What overall intention drives this immense enterprise?
Fans have long debated the different philosophies touted by these two science fiction franchises. In two videos (here and here), the vlogger Rafael Hernán Gamboa believes that Star Wars considers violence as a moral requisite for wielding and balancing power (as in this scene), while Star Trek does not. Negotiation in Star Wars leads to muddled confusion, waywardness, and shades of gray. By contrast, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry considered uncertainty, negotiation and gray areas to be sources of balance, inclusion, virtue and conciliation.
Star Trek and Star Wars are presented to the masses as pop culture escapism. But you don't have to listen very long to the leaders of the real life technological revolution before it becomes clear that they treat Kardashev Civilization Type I as their goal. To understand the decisions of Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, consider that they respectively saw and see themselves as Yoda and James T. Kirk - the real versions. The possibility that Star Wars and Star Trek depict Jobs's and Musk's emotional maps may confirm that they and other tech leaders are trying to build a planetary-level society, and eventually, an extra-planetary society.
That is, Star Wars and Star Trek are based on a true story. I do not mean that in terms of the references which those series make to history. It appears that the endgame of rapidly expanding technology and big science projects like CERN and the International Space Station involves an actual effort to reach Kardashev Civilization Type I, in which a unified global society harnesses the entire power of earth and controls it at will. That includes all life, the environment, and other natural and physical phenomena. Step back and consider the trends over the past 50 years in terms of that sobering thought.
But how can we harness the power of our entire planet, the other planets and the sun, or head out into the stars, if we can't prevent economic collapses? If we can't manage one measly international debt bubble? If we can't expand without relying on the institution of slavery? If projects such as the Roman Empire, much less the European Union, disintegrate? If political consensus becomes impossible and hatred, totalitarianism and war are inevitable?
Kardashev assumed that all of these questions revolve around one issue: energy.
Quantum Turns Macro: The Observer Effect and Entanglement
Meanwhile, on the quantum side of physics research, there have been curious developments this year with regard to energy and its effect on matter. Those developments build on two foundational quantum physics findings which established how particles interact. First, the double slit experiment proved that our observation or measurement of reality changes reality at the quantum level. This is known as the 'observer effect.' Light or matter under the influence of the observer effect suffers a behavioral collapse, such that either can behave like waves or particles.
Second, quantum entanglement connects two particles through what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance." One entangled particle is directly observed and affected by being observed. The other entangled particle is independent and not observed. Nevertheless, because the latter particle is connected to the first, it is still affected by the observer effect. Thanks to Chinese researchers, we even know how fast spooky action works between two entangled particles: more than four times the speed of light. I described these phenomena in my blog post, A Quantum Christmas.
Scientists have generally maintained that these quantum physics phenomena do not extend to the macrocosmic level of reality. But recent research challenges that conclusion. On 29 November 2018, the American Physical Society (APS) particularly noted two new publications:
-Ralf Riedinger et al., "Remote quantum entanglement between two micromechanical oscillators," Nature, vol. 556 (2018; published online: 25 April 2018): pp. 473–477.
-Igor Marinković et al., "Quantum Entanglement With 10 Billion Atoms," Physical Review Letters, vol. 121, 220404 (2018; published online 29 November 2018).
New Atlas summarized the first article in April 2018:
"To us living our lives on the macroscale, the tiny world of quantum mechanics seems weird and nonsensical. Take, for instance, quantum entanglement – the idea that two objects can become so entwined that changes to one can instantly affect the other, no matter how far apart they are. This has been regularly proven to be possible with atoms and molecules, but now scientists have managed to demonstrate it on a much larger scale, which is beginning to cross over into our everyday world.
Although entanglement was implied by his own calculations of quantum mechanics, Albert Einstein famously recoiled from the idea, insisting that there must be another hidden explanation that didn't require resorting to 'spooky action at a distance.' About 80 years on, though, quantum entanglement has been experimentally observed time and time again, and forms the foundation for emerging technologies like quantum computing, encryption and teleportation.
But the phenomenon has still been confined to the microscopic scale. Now, an international team of scientists has successfully entangled objects that are much larger – almost visible to the naked eye – which is a key step towards making more practical use of it. Even better, the researchers managed to hold these objects in their entangled state for up to 30 minutes, a huge improvement over the usual timeframe of fractions of a second.
The objects in question are a pair of vibrating drumheads, made of metallic aluminum on a silicon chip. With a diameter close to the width of a human hair, they're the largest individual objects to have been quantum entangled to date. Other 'macroscale' experiments have been performed, but these involved entangling many pairs of electrons and nuclei in an area about the size of a red blood cell. ...
The researchers say that the study paves the way for more precise manipulation of the properties of macroscale objects, which could eventually be put to use to make new kinds of routers and sensors. In future work, the team plans to use quantum teleportation to transmit the vibrations between the two drumheads."
In the November 2018 proof of macro-level quantum entanglement, the authors considered the implications for nanotechnology and quantum computing: "the team says that this setup could operate as a memory node in a quantum network."
If any research this year screamed PAY ATTENTION, it was this pair of articles. Don't be lulled back to sleep by the scientists' mumblings about practical applications in quantum networks and vibrating drumheads.
These findings are not only about the power gained by making computers smaller and smaller. The real question is how this work applies at larger scales, because it could be the key to building a Kardashev Type I Civilization. Kardashev's ranking depends on energy consumption and its moral and philosophical implications. I will discuss in later posts how these outcomes may connect to quantum effects engineered at macro levels.