Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pseudoscience, Maybe, But Nonetheless Appealing

We've all thought about the afterlife. Is it Heaven that we go to? Hell? Purgatory? Do our souls get weighed and judged (Egyptian)? Is there just a blank, empty nothingness? Or are we reborn to try it all again?

I've forced myself to believe in an afterlife to keep myself hopeful that I may rejoin my first love in it when my time comes, though I may rush that along at some point. Prior to her, or exempting her affect on my life, I've always leaned toward the nothingness, emptiness; no rebirth, no time spent in an eternity of suffering, maybe my soul gets weighed, but if there's nothing, why should I care which way the scales tip? Near the end of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, when Shadow dies, the scales balance out, and he gets to choose. His choice is that nothingness.

I recently found myself reading a book that has been sitting on my shelves for some time, but I never got around to reading. That usually only happens when I attend a library book sale and literally pick up box of books. Frederick Pohl's The Other End of Time. I took a look, not sure what I was getting into, and gave it a try.

Like so many other fiction books I've read, this had references to non-fictional concepts buried deep inside it. The storyline follows a group of scientists who are drawn into a war between two groups of aliens who are fighting over something called the Omega Point, which, more or less, is an afterlife that appears after the heat-death and collapse of the universe.

After the conclusion of the novel, there was an afterword from the author, where I learned that the name of the professor, Frank Tipler, who had taught one of the characters about this "omega point" was legitimately the name of the real scientist with hypothesized such a concept, and Pohl drew on his work for inspiration.

The Omega point, in short, is a universal afterlife. When we die, we are simply hastening our way to the end of the universe, and to immortality there.

Perhaps unfortunately, there seems to be a flaw in Tipler's math somewhere, and scientists since his publication have determined that the universe will not stop expanding and collapse in on itself again, but instead it will continue expanding, and the rate is actually accelerating.