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& Prolog
Part 1.
Metabolic Metaphysics
Part 2.
Star Larvae
Part 3.
Space Brains

The Star Larvae HypothesisAstrotheology and Hinduism
Nature’s Plan for Humankind
Part 2. Star Larvae

The Proton Crisis and the Heat Death of the Universe

Biology extends the life of the universe by recycling black holes into new protons (through a technology sufficiently advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic).

Those nuclear organisms that populate the skythe starstake an interest in human affairs.

Or, at least that is what some ancient peoples believed. Any stellar interest in humans, however, is going to be a self interest. Stars count on biological organisms—star larvae (including humans)—to help solve a crisis. The crisis is a food shortage, specifically a shortage of baby food. Stars need technologically advanced civilizations to manufacture protons, so that new generations of stars can be fed during their infancy.

"My own picture of humanity today finds us just about to step out from amongst the pieces of our just one-second-ago broken eggshell. Our innocent, trial-and-error-sustaining nutriment is exhausted. We are faced with an entirely new relationship to the universe. We are going to have to spread our wings of intellect and fly or perish; that is, we must dare immediately to fly by the generalized principles governing universe and not by the found rules of yesterday's superstitious and erroneously conditioned reflexes. And as we attempt competent thinking we immediately begin to re-employ our innate drive for comprehensive understanding."

—R. Buckminster Fuller
Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

Normal science tends to hold that stars will become extinct and that the universe will expire from a "Heat Death," after stellar metabolisms have fused all available protons into various atomic nuclei. When that occurs, the last generation of stars will flicker out, and the universe will descend into entropy. The universe will die, essentially, according to normal science..

This far-off fate does not evoke much sense of urgency from a fresh brood of star larvae, such as us humans, because it looms so remotely in the future. But the billions of years that will pass before the problem becomes acute must seem proportionately less remote, and hence of greater urgency, to the stars themselves.

Researchers conclude that star production peaked billions of years ago and that galaxies already are running out of gas. After completing a survey of distant galaxies in 2011, Robert Braun, chief scientist for astronomy and space science at Australia's CSIRO institute, says bluntly, "Our result helps us understand why the lights are going out. Star formation has used up most of the available molecular hydrogen gas." The death of the universe is inevitable, according to normal science, because only a limited number of protons (hydrogen nuclei) precipitated out of the Big Bang. And only individual protons can be made to fuse—and deliver new stars—at the relatively low temperatures and pressures that characterize stellar nebulae—the particle clouds, or stellar nurseries, within which new stars condense. Protons fused into atomic nuclei by previous generations of stars do become incorporated into new stars and participate in nucleosynthesis, but they are too massive to initiate nuclear fusion. For that, kindling is needed, in the form of individual protons.

The Quantum Gravity Solution to Recycling Protons

"The perfection on earth is relative to the universal soul of the world. There are three atmospheres in which souls can dwell. The third leaves off where the planetary attraction of other worlds begins. Souls which have reached perfection on earth depart for another station. Having visited the planets, they go to the sun. From there they rise to other universes and begin again their evolution from world to world and from sun to sun. Within the suns they remember all; upon the planets they forget."

—Eliphas Levi
The Book of Splendours: The Inner Mysteries of Qabalism

Nonetheless, it would seem that a fresh influx of protons could extend the life of the universe by extending the generations of stars. The manufacturing of new protons, then, would seem to be the missing link in the stellar life cycle. Science already has identified the raw material from which new protons could be manufactured. It resides at the interface of two phenomena that physicists have been trying to integrate into a Grand Unified Theory. These are (1) gravity, including the intense gravity of black holes and (2) the indeterminate behavior of matter-energy at the quantum level. These two phenomena might cooperate to recycle old mass into new mass, the fresh stuff potentially taking the form of new protons.

When a large star exhausts its nuclear fuel, it collapses, creating a concentrated point of mass. If sufficient mass is sufficiently concentrated, goes the theory, the result is a black hole. Black holes are "black" because not even light can escape their intense gravity.

In the 1970s the British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking refined the theory of black holes in a way that suggests such practical applications as are proposed here. In his best selling A Brief History of Time Hawking included a chapter called, "Black holes ain’t so black." There he describes a phenomenon that has come to be called Hawking radiation. This radiation consists of particles emanating from black holes. The particles do not escape from the interiors of black holes, but rather appear spontaneously just beyond the boundary of a black hole, straddling the so-called event horizon. In Hawking's conjecture, these particles begin life as virtual particles—particle-antiparticle pairs—called virtual because they exist only for a fraction of a second. Typically the members of a virtual particle pair collide soon after they pop into existence, annihilating one another—end of story. But atypically, when this process occurs at the edge of a black hole, the outcome takes a different turn.

When a particle-antiparticle pair appears at the event horizon of a black hole, the members of the pair can become separated before they annihilate one another. One member will be pulled into the hole, leaving its partner alone in our universe—but virtual no longer. In the Scientific American book, "A Journey into Gravity and Spacetime," physicist John Archibald Wheeler describes this peculiar phenomenon,

"During these quantum fluctuations, pairs of particles appear for an instant from the emptiness of space—perhaps an electron and an antielectron pair or a proton and an antiproton pair. [. . . .] Under the conditions at the horizon [of a black hole], a virtual pair becomes a real pair. [. . . .] In the Hawking process, two newly created particles exchange energy, one acquiring negative energy and the other positive energy. The negative-energy particle flies inward from the horizon to the point of crunch; the positive-energy particle flies off to a distance."

"Smolinian selection may account for the fact that our universe has the necessary constants, dimensionality and laws to last for a long time. . . , long enough to spawn daughter universes (and INCIDENTALLY long enough to breed life). But Smolinian selection cannot account for the fact that our universe is specifically congenial to life, or to intelligent life, or to us. My negative conclusion would break down only if life itself is in the habit of engineering the spawning of daughter universes. As far as I am aware, this hasn't been suggested, but it is, I suppose, a theoretical possibility that daughter universes are generated as a consequence of the fooling around of highly evolved physicists."

—Richard Dawkins
In response to Lee Smolin posing the question

This means that a black hole eventually will evaporate, because each particle released into the universe by the Hawking process represents a net loss of mass from the black hole.

Protons: A Renewable Resource

"1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is probably wrong.

2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Arthur C. Clarke
The Three Laws

Through the wizardry of Hawking radiation, our universe converts the mass of black holes into new particles. If the appearance of particle-antiparticle pairs could be influenced, then the Hawking process potentially can be used to manufacture certain kinds of particles preferentially. If the process can be skewed to produce protons preferentially, then the generations of stars might be extended and the Heat Death of the universe postponed.

By engineering and implementing such a selective process, the universe would exhibit another characteristic of living organisms. It would heal itself, by manufacturing essential microcomponents of its body, just as biological organisms manufacture essential microcomponents of their bodies.

By engineering protons from the quantum fluctuations of spacetime, humankind’s extraterrestrial descendants not only will do nothing particularly innovative, according to the star larvae hypothesis, rather, they will be playing their assigned role in the regularly scheduled program. Which is already in progress.

Hyperdomesticated urbanites en masse already are locked into symbiotic relationships with their manufactured environment, at least in the first world. They are as much effects of the power plant and the automobile as they are causes. The contemporary urban scene of what Aldous Huxley called "motorized sitting addicts" is just one example of Marshall McLuhan’s general observation that, as they fashion technologies to satisfy their needs, human beings re-fashion themselves to accommodate the needs of their technologies. This is an underappreciated dimension of humankind’s intensifying symbiotic relationship with its own inventions and illustrates niche construction.

The star larvae hypothesis takes the extrapolation from current trends a step further. In light of the hypothesis, the manufacturing of stars becomes analogous to the caterpillar manufacturing in its chrysalis factory the butterfly that it becomes. Is the butterfly the transformed body of the caterpillar or a Frankensteinian artifact of caterpillar technology, one that consumes its creator? A human baby, by metabolizing raw materials into its own growing body, manufactures, according to a teleological, genetic plan, the adult that it becomes. The making of it and the becoming of it are indistinguishable. The Medium is the Message.

Similarly, the star larvae hypothesis proposes, humankind’s extraterrestrial descendants will manufacture and become stars. The process could be characterized as either one of manufacturing or one of metamorphosis (or both). Either way, the conjuring of protons from spacetime to extend the generations of stars will require that humankind's descendants invent and apply a technology sufficiently advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic.

NEXT > Quantum Gravity and the Physics of Consciousness


The Star Larvae Hypothesis:

Stars constitute a genus of organism. The stellar life cycle includes a larval phase. Biological life constitutes the larval phase of the stellar life cycle.

Elaboration: The hypothesis presents a teleological model of nature, in which    


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