Monday, 19 August 2013

Requiem For A Universe II

The first time I read Poul Anderson's "Requiem For A Universe" in his collection, All One Universe (New York, 1997), I simply did not understand the ending. It was too cryptic.

It makes sense in the light of the article, "Wellsprings of Dream," later in the same collection. Freeman Dyson, John Barrow and Frank Tipler reason that, either at or after the heat death of the universe, consciousness will be able to survive, thinking slowly because of reduced energy but remaining alert and accessing knowledge of the entire past, maybe even resurrecting everyone that has lived and died. There are two possibilities here and I do not fully understand either, particularly not the option that fits an infinity of experiences into a finite time.

But this is the point of the ending of "Requiem For A Universe." Someone who expected quiescence after the heat death had not allowed for the activity of conscious beings capable of finding a way to transcend the heat death. Anderson says, "I don't believe in it myself." (p. 247) But we don't know. If this can be imagined now, what might be achieved in the future?

No comments: