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Could the entirety of existence be one humongous extraterrestrial entity? Columbia University astrophysicist Caleb Scharf believes it’s possible.


According to Scharf, the driving force behind the entire universe might be the near-infinite intelligence of an alien civilization so old and advanced that it moved its entire existence into the quantum realm.

In a stimulating article published in Nautilus, Scharf argues that an alien species could evolve to such an extent, it could become indistinguishable from magic. Or physics, because the way it works is simply magic.

“If you dropped in on a bunch of Paleolithic farmers with your iPhone and a pair of sneakers, you’d undoubtedly seem pretty magical,” Scharf wrote. “But the contrast is only middling: The farmers would still recognize you as basically like them, and before long they’d be taking selfies. But what if life has moved so far on that it doesn’t just appear magical, but appears like physics?”

Scharf points out that we don’t understand what most of the universe is made of. We also have no idea how and most important, why it works. Only 5% of the universe is regular matter, the rest being an exotic blend of dark matter and dark energy.

Some astronomers, noting subtle mismatches between observations and models, have suggested that dark matter has a richer inner life.”

Like the night in Game of Thrones, the physical universe we observe is dark and full of terrors.

“In that case, dark matter could contain real complexity, and perhaps it is where all technologically advanced life ends up or where most life has always been. What better way to escape the nasty vagaries of supernova and gamma-ray bursts than to adopt a form that is immune to electromagnetic radiation? Upload your world to the huge amount of real estate on the dark side and be done with it.”

If a civilization managed to live long enough to decode the myriad of subtleties life encompasses, it could theoretically recreate the process in a different, much safer medium; it would be the transmutation of the mundane into the heavenly or as Scharf called it, the “normal-matter-to-dark-matter data-transfer system.”

Maybe this is what throws astrophysicists off and muddles every correlation between astronomical models and observations –the fact that dark matter is being artificially manipulated from within.

“Or to take this a step further,” Scharf added, “perhaps the behavior of normal cosmic matter that we attribute to dark matter is brought on by something else altogether: a living state that manipulates luminous matter for its own purposes.”

I agree with the astrophysicist when he says the universe does “funky and unexpected stuff.” Five billion years ago, it began to expand at an accelerated rate. Scientists believe this is a direct consequence of dark energy, but no one knows why this acceleration happened this late. Is it a coincidence that around the same time, life appeared on Earth?

“For many cosmologists, that means our universe must be part of a vast multiverse where the strength of dark energy varies from place to place. We live in one of the places suitable for life like us. Elsewhere, dark energy is stronger and blows the universe apart too quickly for cosmic structures to form and life to take root.”

Eight billion years passed between the birth of the universe and the day it started to accelerate its expansion. If life began early in the cosmos, it stands to reason it had enough time to evolve to a hypothetical Type V civilization on the extended Kardashev scale. When the universe was much more compact than it is today, it would have been easier to travel between stars and galaxies and thus conquer space. It’s almost certain the universe was a much more energetic and dangerous place than it is today. All the more reasons to migrate into an exotic plane.

In Scharf’s opinion, we might not “recognize advanced life because it forms an integral and unsuspicious part of what we’ve considered to be the natural world.

Dark matter and dark energy shape our universe and keep it together; gravity is simply too weak and the galaxies would simply disintegrate without these exotic components. It is possible that by transferring themselves into this ambient, the hyper-advanced aliens gave life as we know it a chance to express itself.

“Perhaps hyper-advanced life isn’t just external,” Scharf concludes. “Perhaps it’s already all around. It is embedded in what we perceive to be physics itself, from the root behavior of particles and fields to the phenomena of complexity and emergence.”

This intriguing theory is one of the best I’ve ever heard. It explores and validates all the possibilities. In its purest form, it tells us that aliens are real. And at the same time, they’re not. They’re both alive and dead. They created us by letting us create ourselves. They are everywhere and nowhere.

How’s this for a bar story?