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  1. #61
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    Archie was one of my dad's heroes ... he even subconsciously adopted some of his mannerisms... it was weird to watch ... lol
    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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  3. #62
    Super Moderator Wind's Avatar
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    I got to watch that show thanks to my parents! We watched the reruns together some 15 years ago.


    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_urVFtG66OI

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  5. #63
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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    Plants have a kind of intelligence that is difficult for humans to understand. We have a lot of hubris. Most of my life contained the phrase, "Life just can't survive there," followed by the discovery of life there, wherever 'there' was at the time.

    Intelligence and sentience were considered even more rare.

    Now we're beginning to understand that life is all over the universe.

    Our existence here is pretty amazing. It took an asteroid to change things enough so that mammals could thrive and evolve into their many forms. Otherwise this still would be Dinosaur-land.

    Humans have managed to create many kinds of civilization. Which don't seem to last. But nature carries on.

    Long live chlorophyll.
    Plants could be intelligent or harbor intelligence through mutual symbiosis with fungus as well.

    We have hubris, but plants may have shrubris. No knowing what they say about us when our backs are turned. The wind 'whispering through the trees?!" Hah! That's the trees having a laugh at our expense!

    Quote Originally posted by NotAPretender View Post
    Archie was one of my dad's heroes ... he even subconsciously adopted some of his mannerisms... it was weird to watch ... lol
    Lord, I am sorry to hear that. Archie was kind of lovable in a creepy old conservative way.

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    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    yup O.G.
    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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    Super Moderator Wind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Octopus Garden View Post
    We have hubris, but plants may have shrubris. No knowing what they say about us when our backs are turned.

    Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4nGuEVs-JA

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  11. #66
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    Angry

    Today's entry for resolving "The Fermi Paradox" - Nap

    Did scientists really detect an "anti-universe" where time runs backwards?
    Time runs backward there. Other physicists are not convinced.
    ROBBY BERMAN 21 May, 2020


    Image source: Thomas Daems/Shutterstock/Big Think

    • NASA's ANITA observatory searches for neutrinos traveling with cosmic rays as they arrive on, and crash into, Earth.
    • ANITA detected high-energy particles that seemed to be coming out of the Earth, which isn't supposed to be possible.
    • After years of inconclusive hypotheses, the ANITA team published a paper claiming the particles reveal a parallel universe where time runs backwards.

    An Antarctic particle-observation experiment conducted in Antarctica in 2016 has produced what its scientists say may be evidence of a second universe parallel to ours, an anti-universe in which time runs backwards. On the other hand, maybe not. While there's little doubt about what the searchers saw, nobody has quite figured out what it was, and some imply the parallel-universe idea may be as much an expression of frustration over the unresolved mystery as a serious hypothesis.
    Here's what happened


    ANITA getting ready Image source: Balloon Program Office/NASA

    Ever since Austrian physicist Victor Hess realized that cosmic rays were bombarding the Earth from above in 1912, scientists have sought out ways in which they can be detected and studied without the distortion introduced by Earth's magnetic field. Fortunately, cosmic rays are accompanied by a detectable beacon: neutrinos, and neutrinos don't care about magnetic fields — they travel in a simple straight line.

    Antarctica presents an interesting opportunity to learn about cosmic waves. When low-energy neutrinos hit the ground ice there, they pass right through along with their cosmic-ray partners. However, high-energy neutrinos, such as those that accompany cosmic rays, can't pass through and crash into the ice, producing a shower of charged particles.
    NASA's Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna (ANITA) is designed to detect and measure these bursts, allowing scientists to figure out a neutrino's trajectory, and thus its source and that of its accompanying cosmic ray. ANITA is a collection of antennas sent aloft in a large balloon some 1-4 kilometers above McMurdo Base in Antarctica. It's made three month-long flights so far, hunting for signs of neutrino impacts over a million square kilometers of ice, but the only thing ANITA detected are what seemed to be bursts of background noise.
    However, as disappointed scientists waited on the surface during ANITA's third flight, they decided to go over the data from the first two missions one more time to see if there was anything they missed. The researchers found, in what they'd previously assumed to be noise, the signature of a strangely high-energy particle, with a charge of 0.6 and 0.56 exaelectronvolts (a billion billion electronvolts).

    The particle's trajectory is what made no sense: It apparently didn't come down from space — it was exploding outward from underneath the ice. Since high-energy particles can't pass through the Earth, ANITA's observation has puzzled the physics community for the last couple of years. (Since that time, three other similar particles have been observed by ANITA.)
    In March, since no definitive explanation has yet been put forward, experimental particle physicist Peter Gorham of the University of Hawaii and principle investigator with ANITA and his colleagues provided one. It's a stunner: The paper asserts that ANITA caught a "right-handed neutrino." The detection of such a particle would signify the presence of an anti-universe. In this scenario, the particle's direction would be explained as a reversed-in-time arrival of the particle on Earth from space.

    Just a sec, or anti-sec...

    Image source: NASA [me: poseur: Writer pretending to be a scientist ]

    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." — Carl Sagan

    In the case of the hypothesis proposed ANITA's team, theirs is more a matter of an extraordinary lack of proof in the form of convincing explanations that would be justify an extraordinary claim. Sagan would likely be unimpressed.

    "We are absolutely sure that there is new physics out there to be found," radio Astronomer Clancy James tells Jackson Ryan at c/net, explaining why it's not shocking that physicists can't explain the four reported observations detailed in the team's paper. Even so, astrophysicist Geraint Lewis point out, "There are a number of potential candidate particles that could account for the results from ANITA." There is also a theory that the geomagnetic current in the Antarctic ice distorts particle trajectories, potentially producing a head-scratching detection such a ANITA's.

    It's also true that one approach to an unanswerable question is to think outside of the box. "In such a situation you start exploring even more extreme possibilities," says Ekers.
    While astroparticle phenomenologist Pat Scott admits the anti-universe explanation is "plausible" — an interesting word in the mind-blowing arena of physics — he cautions, "There's nothing that necessarily makes it a detection of a parallel universe."

    Ron Ekers, of Australia's national space agency, suggests Gorham and his colleagues may just be sick of waiting for another answer: "The unusual ANITA events have been known and discussed since 2016. After four years there has been no satisfactory explanation of the anomalous events seen by ANITA so this is very frustrating, especially to those involved." He suggests the anti-universe idea is "a somewhat cheeky explanation ... born out of the frustration of having nothing else that worked."
    Concludes Lewis, "Whilst parallel universes sound exciting and sexy when discussing the ANITA signal, alternative ideas are still on the table."
    For now, the reaction of the larger physics community suggests we'll have to take the anti-universe theory with at least a grain of salt and consider ANITA's baffling observations a genuinely intriguing puzzle awaiting a provable solution.

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    • We may have spotted a parallel universe going backwards in time ... ›
    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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  13. #67
    Administrator Aragorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NotAPretender View Post
    Today's entry for resolving "The Fermi Paradox" - Nap

    Did scientists really detect an "anti-universe" where time runs backwards?
    Time runs backward there. Other physicists are not convinced.
    This "discovery" is not new ─ I think I even posted a thread about it here at the forum ─ and the late Stephen Hawking objected to the premise of time running backwards.
    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

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    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    oh, pooh ... Hawking wasn't perfect ya' know. But who am I to argue with Dr. Hawking ... ok, I will. At relativistic speeds quantum behavior time does run backward. A really out there thing to contemplate.
    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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    Administrator Aragorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by NotAPretender View Post
    At relativistic speeds quantum behavior time does run backward. A really out there thing to contemplate.
    Come again?
    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

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    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    at the edges of relative space...normal space-time, quantum behavior is strange. particles move forward and backward in time ... backward coming in and forward moving out. When the phenomenon resolves to a 'place' that we as observers can recognize, everything appears well ... normal. but it is a very zig zaggy path to get there. It is the only way that physical theory/mathematics will balance to rationalize relativity and quantum theory together. Actually it's quite imaginary and irrational ... but 'seems' to be true.

    multiverse versus the copenhagen thingy

    I haven't imbibed any alcohol if you're wondering ...
    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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  23. #72
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    Actually, my Fermi Paradox conjecture kind of got lost in the translation, so after a little more thought:

    As mentioned before, the odds that we live by accident in a exquisite and fine-tuned universe built just for us is essentially nil. So, perhaps this is OUR universe. The universe is limitless but what if it is just flotsam and jetsam beyond the parts that are essential for us. The rest can be dispensed with. That could be the overriding natural law. The creation of a universe that is exquisite and fine-tuned for whatever form of life is suited to it, while the rest is just useless flotsam and jetsam.

    To resolve the Fermi Paradox, it would be necessary to cross dimensional boundaries to 'find' other 'civilizations'. A pretty tall order for us, but our universe isn't devoid of indications that other life has solved this problem, but what might elude the standard scientist is that it isn't life as we know it.
    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    "Angels are growing in a flower pot at your door." What a great phrase.

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    WARNING: This may be pseudoscience but: Over at Mordor I actually found a conspiracy worth pursuing.



    Over the last six months, The War Zone has been deeply reporting on a set of bizarre patents assigned to the U.S. Navy. The patents, which are all the product of a single inventor, truly sound like the stuff of science fiction and include high-temperature superconductors, gravitational wave generators, compact fusion reactors, and high-energy electromagnetic field generators. Most radical of all is the “hybrid aerospace-underwater craft” claimed to be able to “engineer the fabric of our reality at the most fundamental level” by seemingly bending the laws of physics as we know them. Together, these patents seem to be the building blocks of a vehicle with truly out-of-this-world, UFO-like performance. As part of our reporting, we have been working to better understand the mind behind this mysterious intellectual property. Now, the elusive Dr. Salvatore Cezar Pais has spoken to The War Zone.

    Despite the patents sounding extremely far-fetched, official documents show that the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Naval Aviation Enterprise personally attested to the reality of these inventions and their importance to national security and peer-state competition in appeals with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Meanwhile, the scientists and physicists we have talked to have made it clear that they find the claims largely absurd and not grounded in scientific fact. At the same time, there is, in fact, many decades of government research into similar technologies that are very much alike in concept to some of Pais's work. As such, while these are obscure ideas and remain on the edge of science, they are not exactly brand new.

    SCIENTIST BEHIND THE NAVY'S "UFO PATENTS" HAS NOW FILED ONE FOR A COMPACT FUSION REACTOR
    By Brett Tingley and Tyler Rogoway

    NAVY'S ADVANCED AEROSPACE TECH BOSS CLAIMS KEY 'UFO' PATENT IS OPERABLE
    By Brett Tingley

    DOCS SHOW NAVY GOT 'UFO' PATENT GRANTED BY WARNING OF SIMILAR CHINESE TECH ADVANCES
    By Brett

    WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH UFOS AND THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE?
    By Tyler Rogoway

    CONGRESSMAN HAS WRITTEN AN OFFICIAL LETTER TO THE NAVY DEMANDING ANSWERS ON UFOS
    By Joseph Trevithick

    All of this has led many to wonder what exactly is going on with these patents and a multitude of questions remain unanswered. Are the Salvatore Pais patents simply proactive, hoping to get ahead of the game for when or if these technologies actually become feasible? Are they part of a misinformation campaign designed to lead America’s adversaries on a fruitless wild goose chase? Could they be an attempt by the Navy to try to emulate seemingly unexplained craft with incredible capabilities that its personnel have encountered? Could the Navy really be on the verge of changing human technological progress as we know it? Or maybe they even represent a breakthrough that has already occurred. Then again, could they be just the flimsy product of a persuasive and imaginative inventor and his gullible Navy bosses?

    The one person who would actually know the answer to these questions and more is Dr. Pais himself.

    New Details Emerge
    Dr. Pais recently published a new academic paper in the IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science journal detailing his work on his Plasma Compression Fusion Device. That device, the patent for which The War Zone has previously reported on, is a compact fusion reactor claimed to be capable of creating a net energy gain, a breakthrough that would revolutionize energy production if truly feasible.

    Like all of Dr. Pais’s other patents and publications, the paper claims that this revolutionary new fusion reactor employs “controlled motion of electrically charged matter through accelerated vibration and/or accelerated spin subjected to smooth, yet rapid acceleration–deceleration–acceleration transients, to generate extremely high energy/high-intensity electromagnetic (EM) fields.” In the case of this reactor, those EM fields are claimed to both heat the plasma within the core and also confine and compress it, enabling energy production levels currently out of reach.

    In the author section of the paper, it is stated that Dr. Pais has “advanced knowledge of theory, analysis, and modern experimental and computational methods in aerodynamics, along with an understanding of air-vehicle and missile design, especially in the domain of hypersonic power plant and vehicle design” as well as “expertise in electrooptics and emerging quantum technologies, particularly the laser power generation arena, and high-energy electromagnetic field generation, besides condensed matter physics, such as the emerging breakthrough field of room temperature superconductivity, as related to advanced field propulsion.”

    The paper also contains a headshot of Dr. Pais, which confirms that a picture purporting to be Pais found on a Chinese news blog that we included in our previous reporting was indeed him after all. That image's provenance remains unknown.


    A biography of Pais listed in his most recent publication in IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science.

    The IEEE publication states that Dr. Pais is no longer with NAVAIR/NAWCAD, but now works at the U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs (SSP). According to its website, SSP covers the “entire spectrum of activities from research, development, building of hardware, training of crews, and construction of facilities, through the continued operational support” of America’s Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and Ohio class and future Columbia class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). In 2018, SSP announced it was developing a new “Prompt Global Strike Weapon,” now known as the Intermediate-Range Conventional Prompt Strike, which consists of a hypersonic glide body on top of a rocket booster that submarines or surface ships that could launch and that could potentially reach any target on Earth within an hour, depending on the location of the launch platform.

    It remains unclear whether any of Dr. Pais's prior work at NAWCAD has migrated to his new position at SSP. From the sound of our correspondence, and by what we know about SSP's scope, it seems like this is very much a separate field of study. His transfer to this other research arm of the Navy is also puzzling. If Dr. Pais's patents were relevant, feasible, and if some of them were in actual testing as the Naval Air System's Chief Technology Officer assured the USPTO, why would that effort be stymied by a transfer to another unit?

    It’s also worth noting the well-established trend of the U.S. military making use of the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951 to file patents unavailable for public viewing, under which the Navy has been the most prolific filer since 2017. It seems particularly notable that Pais's patents, which according to top Navy officials were of major national security interest, were filed publicly, though the reason why remains elusive.

    Data compiled by the Federation of American Scientists showing annual totals of inventions filed under the Invention Secrecy Act.


    "The Pais Effect"


    The War Zone has reached out to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) and the U.S. Navy Office of Information to request more information about Dr. Salvatore Pais’s patents and a formal interview with Dr. Pais. So far we have been denied such opportunities. However, Dr. Pais did respond to a few questions directly by email recently and his replies only add to the curiosity and mystery surrounding these alleged wondrous technological breakthroughs.

    We asked Dr. Pais to clarify his background, as little information and much confusion surrounds the identity of the man himself. Dr. Pais would only state what is already public record, that he is “a graduate of Case Western Reserve University, received all my degrees at that school -- BS '90; MS '93; Ph.D. '98 - all in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering”, then adding that "More than this I cannot comment, thank you for your consideration.”

    When The War Zone asked if Dr. Pais could comment on his patents or his research in general, he sent the following reply:

    The fact that my work on the design of a Compact Fusion Reactor was accepted for publication in such a prestigious journal as IEEE TPS, should speak volumes as to its importance and credibility - and should eliminate (or at least alleviate) all misconceptions you (or any other person) may have in regard to the veracity (or possibility) of my advanced physics concepts.

    Mr. Tingley, do realize that my work culminates in the enablement of the Pais Effect (original physical concept). The Pais Effect comprises the generation of extremely high electromagnetic energy fluxes (and hence high local energy densities) generated by controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma states) subjected to accelerated vibration and/or accelerated spin, via rapid acceleration transients.

    Such high energy EM radiation can locally interact with the Vacuum Energy State (VES) - the VES being the Fifth State of Matter (Fifth Essence - Quintessence), in other words the fundamental structure (foundational framework), from which Everything else (Spacetime included) in our Quantum Reality, emerges.

    The Engineering of the Pais Effect can give rise to the Enablement of Macroscopic Quantum Coherence, which if you have closely been following my work, you understand the importance of.

    I must stress that all this work (patents, patent applications and technical papers) was conducted as a NAVAIR/ NAWCAD employee, and that my current position with Navy SSP has absolutely no bearing or in any way, shape or form has anything to do with this advanced physics work.

    Thank you for your interest in my physics concepts, and try to keep an open mind in regard to my work.

    Respectfully,

    Sal

    Salvatore Cezar Pais, Ph.D.

    A.D. MMXIX


    The email from Dr. Pais makes it clear that the inventor stands fully behind the science underlying these inventions, as radical as they sound. As we have explored in previous articles on Dr. Pais’s work, all of the patents stem from what the inventor is now calling the “Pais Effect,” the “controlled motion of electrically charged matter (from solid to plasma states) subjected to accelerated vibration and/or accelerated spin, via rapid acceleration transients.”

    Despite Dr. Pais’s insistence that the Pais Effect is indeed a real phenomenon and the assurance that NAVAIR’s Chief Technology Officer gave the USPTO, we have been unable to find a single scientist or engineer who can corroborate the claims made in Dr. Pais’s patents. Nevertheless, in another correspondence, Dr. Pais assured The War Zone that “as far as the doubting SMEs [subject matter experts] are concerned, my work shall be proven correct one fine day…”.

    Subject Matter Experts Have Their Doubts
    To help contextualize Dr. Pais's most recent patent and academic publication for the plasma compression fusion device, The War Zone spoke with Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer and reactor supervisor at the University of New Mexico who also serves as Senior Research Engineer for Verus Research, a company that is working on an advanced dense plasma focus fusion neutron source for the Army, a technology Willis says Verus does not view as "a competitive approach to a fusion power plant, or a competitor in any meaningful sense toward anything Dr. Pais is working on for that matter."

    According to Willis, Dr. Pais's most recent work represents "a classic case of pathological science." Willis says the literature for the plasma compression fusion device contains invented jargon, nonsensical statements, weak or absent evidence of an informed theoretical basis, an "overabundance of nebulous adjectives and adverbs instead of meaningful quantities in technical writing," and "lots of statements made in passing that seem to contradict basic and accepted physics."

    Willis says that Dr. Pais "references subjects that have consistently been plagued with pathological science and popular misunderstanding for decades, such as vacuum energy. It's hard not to suspect he's either drinking the kool-aid himself, or just chumming the waters for the kind of people who do."

    Still, even Willis notes that "this case is mildly unusual in that the author has a Ph. D. and is employed by the government, his patents are assigned to the government, and the paper is slated to appear in a rather widely-read IEEE outlet. However, these facts in no way temper my view that this is all basically nonsense--it just raises additional questions about the cui bono of this particular case."

    To help answer those questions, we spoke with Dr. Charles Collett, an assistant professor of Physics at Muhlenberg College who specializes in experimental low-temperature research on the quantum state of molecular magnets. Like most physicists we've spoken to about the Pais patents, Collett remains skeptical. While he admits that the theoretical basis for the so-called Pais Effect "is not outlandish, and indeed any charged matter that is undergoing a large amount of acceleration will produce this," Collett notes that there are likely "significant engineering challenges in creating a device" capable of producing such high electromagnetic forces.

    Collett concluded by adding that "the claims of macroscopic quantum coherence seem dubious," and that he "cannot see how that interaction could lead to any of the claimed effects."

    "Overall, my impression is that while there may (or may not) be an interesting engineering feat in the patents, the rest of the claims are extraordinary," Collett continued, "and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

    Extraordinary Claims
    As we continue to report on the extraordinary claims of Dr. Salvatore Pais and the inventions he has patented on behalf of the Navy, we continue to find scientists who suggest that the intended audience of these patents may not, in fact, be the scientific or aerospace communities as these patents and their supporting publications contain what most would call pseudoscience and empty jargon. Still, as we noted earlier, there are decades of research into similar approaches at breakthrough propulsion technologies or so-called "space time metric engineering", much of it U.S. government-funded.

    In fact, the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry (CFUSAI) formed by President George W. Bush and the United States Congress in 2001 concluded that "in the longer-term, breakthrough energy sources that go beyond our current understanding of physical laws, such as nuclear fusion and anti-matter, must be credibly investigated in order for us to practically pursue human exploration of the solar system and beyond" and adds that "these energy sources should be the topic of a focused basic research effort.”

    Maybe the research and patents of Dr. Salvatore Pais are a beginning attempt at the realization of this very long term goal. Then again, as a number of subject matter experts have suggested, they may represent something misleading, misguided, or misappropriated.

    Regardless, even with so many questions outstanding, we do know one thing for sure: Pais himself is clearly a true believer in his work.

    I couldn't find an actual patent number at the 'real' patent site
    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
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    A proposed solution to the Fermi Paradox

    This is a true conjecture proposed by a mathematician (I presume) but for me it is a bit of a tongue-in-cheek posting, if anyone bothers to even look at it I think it will be obvious as to why. I believe the author misstated a bit in his explanation of the simple groups but he might have been trying to dumb it down for the sake of folks like me. Compare the below to Numerology.


    The Sporadic Simple Groups

    A group in mathematics has a very particular meaning. A group is a set of elements and an operation that can act on any two of those elements, in doing so, four conditions must be satisfied. First there is closure---the result of the operation must be an element that is a member of the group; the operation of adding two integers, for example, always generates an integer. Second there is associativity---an example of this would be (1+2) + 3 being the same as 1 + (2 + 3); for associativity the order in which the operation is applied doesn’t matter. Third there is an identity---a unique element such that when the operator acts on it and some other element, that other element is unchanged; with integers under addition the identity is zero (for example, 1 + 0 = 0 + 1 = 1). Fourth there is invertibility---for every element in the group there is another element in the group such that once the operation is applied the identity element results; with the addition of integers, for example, positive integer have a corresponding negative integer that gives the identity (for example, 1 + (-1) = (-1) + 1 = 0). Thus the set of integers forms a group under addition. The set of integers doesn’t form a group under division, however because it fails the invertibility test. The order of a group is simply the number of elements in its set. The order can be finite, if there are a countable number of elements, or it can be infinite.

    One of the milestones of mathematics has been the complete classification of entities call finite simple groups. These groups all follow a simple pattern---except for 26 so-called sporadic groups. The smallest sporadic group is M11 and it is of order 7920. The largest sporadic groups is called the Monster group and its order is ~ 8x1053. These groups address several deep problems in mathematics.



    So---what is the canonical artefact?

    Well, let’s begin by stating what it isn’t. It can’t be a work of literature or music or art, for reasons mentioned bove. Similarly, it can’t be a technological marvel such as a steam engine (the beings on planet Xymphzyk might be clever but lack the materials to construct a working steam engine) or a codification of some advanced ethical principles (our friends on Xymphzyk mighth develop ethics that are entirely unrecognizable and, in any case, might feel no need to enshrine them). Instead, Foschini argues that the canonical artefact must be minimal---so that wildly different histories after the first second of the universe could still contain the object---and yet be so highly distinguished that there’s essentially no chance of the object appearing through natural processes. Such an artefact could be manufactured by creating a simple object made out of atoms (from the initial conditions we know that atoms will exist) and whose construction depends on some set N of the positive integers, some set of numbers that has a specific and deep meaning within pure mathematics. Furthermore, the canonical artefact must have a lasting presence; in other words, it must endure for some minimum period of time and the atoms of which it is made must be distinct from the surrounding material. This requirement helps us identify the artefact without ambiguity. How big must the artefact be and how long must it endure? Well, if n bits of information are required to express all the numbers of N then a convenient choice for t, the minimum lifetime of the artefact, is the ty it takes a ground state electron to orbit the nucleus of a hydrogen atom---so t = ty ~ 10-16 s. Foschini then goes on the give one possible example of the canonical artefact.

    Foschini takes N to be the ordered list of the orders of the 26 sporadic simple groups (see the box for a brief explanation of what this means). In other words, N is a particular sequence of 26 positive integers that relate to a deep area of abstract mathematics. It’s the sort of thing that an advanced, intelligent life-form would know about and understand. The first number in the list is 7920, the second is 95040; the 26th contains 54 digits, so I won’t bother to write it out. It takes about 1245 bits of information to express these integers, so following on from the discussion above we can say that the canonical artefact must possess a minimum of 1245 atoms. If we were to demand that these integers be expressed in base 10 then we’d be guilty of provincialism; that humankind routinely employs base 10 for its calculations is thanks to a quirk of evolutionary history that delivered us with ten fingers and thumbs. Foschini argues that a better choice would be the following: for each of the 26 integers in the list calculate the smallest number that is relatively prime to those integers, then express each of the integers in the appropriate base. (Two integers are “relatively prime” if their only common positive factor is 1. For example, the integers 4 and 5 are relatively prime since they are commonly divisible by 1 and nothing else; the integers 4 and 6 are not relatively prime since they are both divisible by 2.) For example, 7920 is the first number in the list and 7 the smallest number relatively prime to 7920. So we express 7920 in base 7, which gives us the first integer for the canonical artefact: 32043. The other 25 numbers in the list are handled similarly.

    Finally we’re in a position to construct the canonical artefact, and we’re free to use whatever method we prefer. Different life-forms will have different construction preferences---the ocean-living, ameliac creatures of Xymphzyk will use a quite different method to the desert-dwelling, multi-limbed creatures of planet Kyzhpmyz---but that doesn’t matter; the main requirement the life-form must possess (in addition to an understanding of the mathematics involved) is sufficient manipulative ability to construct something that belongs to the class of canonical artefacts. Foschini gives the following as one possibility. Imagine threading beads on a necklace, with the beads being identical except for mass: they come with a mass of 1 unit (which represents the number 1) , a mass of 2 units (representing the number 2) and so on up to a a mass of m units (representing the base m; this can be used if we need to represent the number 0). The material expression of the number 32043 (in other words, the base 7 version of the first number in the list N) is just the appropriate five beads sandwiched between some sort of separator---perhaps a bead that differs in shape or substance or size. We proceed in the same way for the remaining 25 integers on the list, adding the appropriate beads to the necklace and differentiating them by using the agreed separator. At the end we have something that is a canonical artefact. To reiterate: this method of construction isn’t the only option. We could use tokens instead of mass-graded beads, for example, as long as the tokens carry their meaning without a reliance on historical information. Three discs would be an adequate representation of the number 3 in base 7; but a disc with the symbol “3” inscribed upon it would not suffice---the symbol makes sense only for those who share our particular history.

    We have the canonical artefact---an object we can hold in our hands. So what? Well, we can calculate the probability of the even that the universe constructs the canonical artefact. First, let’s estimate how much “room” is available in the universe to construct the canonical artefact. Let’s be generous and say the univers is 20 billion years old---about 1018 s. The second, however, isn’t a good unit to use in this context; a more appropriate unit would be the “atomic year”, ty, which we’ve said is 10-16 s. In these units the universe is about 1034 atomic years old. There are about 1080 nucleons in the universe so the maximum “room” in which the canonical artefact can be constructed is 10114 nucleon-atomic years.

    Now suppose that the posited theory of everything, combined with the initial conditions, is indifferent as to whether the canonical artefact arises. Let’s make the construction of the artefact be as simple as possible, by supposing that the universe is full of mass-graded beads---all that needs to be done is to put the beads in the appropriate order and have that order last for minimum of one atomic year. Given that we need just over 103 bits of information to represent the 26 numbers of N, the universe can contain a maximum of about 10114/103 = 10111 of these beads. However, the universe can contain lots of sequences of 26 elements and we’ve stated that our N isn’t to be favored over the other possible sequences. There are about 21245 ~ 10375 sequence choices; our N is just one of them. So the probability that the universe constructs the canonical artefact is 10111/10375 = 10-264.

    A probability of 1 in 10-264 is as good as zero. One could argue instead that the the theory of everything, combined with the initial conditions, somehow strongly favors the emergence of life-forms that have the ability and inclination to construct the canonical artefact. But for this to hold true requires a 264 order of magnitude effect that’s quite unknown to physics.
    “Chance is perhaps God's pseudonym when He does not want to sign” Anatole France, Le Jardin d'Epicure

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