Monday, May 10, 2010

The meaning of life (pt2)...

[comment from facebook]

I'm actually being serious here - I really do suspect the purpose of life is to create black holes more efficiently than inorganic processes (ie gravity) can manage. That's why we live in a universe where the laws of physics are such as to encourage the development of intelligent life - it's evolution in action.

All we need to postulate is that black holes in any given universe contain other child universes that have inherited the physical laws of their parent universe with small random changes, and the rest follows from evolution.

My theory is that we live in a universe where the physical laws permit life to arise because it derives from a parent universe where black holes were created in large numbers by intelligent life. As we in turn will do in this universe... Ad infinitum.

The universes where the physical laws are such as not to permit life to arise will only have black holes (ie children) that are created by gravity, so they'll have far fewer of them than universes with life could achieve. So, standard evolution theory applies and the universes that have more children, ie those with intelligent life, will come to dominate reality.

Of course, this presupposes that intelligent life either figures this out and altruistically makes a point of creating black holes, or that there are other factors that would encourage life to create black holes. It may not therefore just be an accident that with our universe's physical laws the most efficient way to turn mass into energy is to drop it into a black hole, that may also have co-evolved to encourage sufficiently advanced civilisations to create and use them as power sources...


  1. In the mid 80s a friend and I used the Zeus assembler on the C64. One late night of hacking, we hit 'assemble' and a bee sprite appeared on the screen and flew around for a few seconds. For a moment we were frozen with WTF expressions on our faces. Then we spent the next hour searching the Zeus binary looking for that sprite... and we found it. I've often wondered if the meaning of life was somehow contained in the perfect alignment of circumstances that triggered that bee easter egg. I doubt I'll ever know for sure... but in the meantime... yeah... black holes... whatever.

  2. I'd forgotten all about that - one of Graham's ;)

    Ultimately it derives from the "busy bee" icon on the three rivers Perq machines, that used to fly about while the compiler was churning away...

  3. Hey, any chance of getting the source for C64 Zeus up on here? It'd be interesting (nerdgasm) to see it.

  4. Unfortunately Graham claims he's lost all his 6502 sources, but I suspect this might just be an attempt to deny ever having programmed the damned things...

  5. Oh that's a real shame. When I first got my ZX Spectrum in '83 I needed a cassette tape to record my programs. My mum had a yellow Fisher Price one she'd just picked up at a junk shop, so that became my first tape. I sold my Spectrum in '85 when I got my Atari 800XL, but I found that yellow tape a few years ago. In the early 90s acquired a ZX Spectrum (along with microdrives, Interface 2 and even a QL (!!!)) from my university when the Computing Lab was having a clear-out. So I have an Issue 3B 48K Spectrum (like my original one) along with my original Fisher Price tape with my earliest programs. I also have my 800XL, tape drive and 1050 Disk Drive and all my Atari tapes and disks... and my Atari ST and all its disks. I'll never throw it out. I can't tell you how many PCs I've been through though. They mean nothing to me (although I was quite fond of my 3Dfx Voodoo card). I live in the States now so that stuff hasn't seen volts in over 15 years, but I'd like to think it'd all come to life if I asked it to. Perhaps the capacitors have all dried up and the data bits on the magnetic media degraded long ago... but as far as I know it's sitting there as perfect as when I packed it.
    Rambling, nostalgia and remember-when's aside, I'm sorry to hear the sources may be gone. I can't say I've ever been too attached to my day-job code. Personal stuff though (especially first-steps early stuff: BASIC, Z80 and 6502) always feels worth hanging on to.

  6. > Personal stuff though [..] always feels worth hanging on to

    I agree. I still have the gear I developed the games on, well, the later ones at any rate.

    I wish I'd kept the first computers I built, but I was working on pocket-money and so I had to reuse the bits whenever I changed the design. I didn't even have a camera back then so there aren't even any photographs...

    One of them (the second) was built into the chassis of an ancient dekatron counter. I think my mother threw most of it away when I went to university... Aaarrgh!

  7. I went looking for my Fisher Price tape. Found it... and also "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"! I didn't even remember I had that!