David Deutsch puts a whole new perspective on our place in the universe in this challenging, amusing, and bewilderingly brilliant TED Talk.
Oxford physicist Deutsch is one of the most creative and original minds working in science today. He is the undisputed father of quantum computing and has written two very important, yet accessible, books – The Fabric of Reality and The Beginning of Infinity – both of which are essential reading.
Highlighting our ‘parochial misconceptions’ of our place in the universe, here he points out that our home, ‘Spaceship Earth’, is both special and vulnerable.
Special in that it is quite astounding that ‘chemical scum’ on a rock on one side of the universe could evolve to the extent that it could contain within its brain an accurate working model of phenomena occurring unimaginably far away on the other side of the universe .
Vulnerable in that ours is an extremely untypical place and the vast majority of the universe is incredibly inhospitable to creatures like us. As a result we had better start addressing the major problems facing us as a species, and soon.
But for Deutsch it’s not necessarily resources which are the problem, it is knowledge. Exploring how intelligent entities might survive into the long range future he posits that anything that isn’t forbidden by the laws of physics is therefore not impossible, and the only thing from preventing us from, say, harnessing energy from the vacuum of intergalactic space, is the knowledge of how to do it.
Always enlightening, it is well worth your time researching more of Deutsch’s work. Enjoy his Ted Talk below.
Chemical scum that dream of distant quasars