Question: Do you think that life will continue in the Universe
Katie Freese: Well with the dark energy most people do
think that the universe itself will exist indefinitely, but the other
question is whether or not there can be life in the long term future.
In the standard explanation for the dark energy… I shouldn’t say
standard because it really is a big puzzle, but if there is a vacuum
energy that is constant in time it becomes more and more the driving
force of this expansion and causing evermore acceleration. In that
picture then life dies out because you’ve basically… It’s perhaps
counter-intuitive, but as everything gets farther and farther apart you
do have this floor to the temperature of the universe set by the vacuum
energy. It’s a hocking temperature, so as you’re trying to operate
closer and closer to this cutoff from this vacuum energy any kind of
life form actually overheats, so as I said it is kind of
counter-intuitive, but you just can’t… It’s something you can’t avoid.
Now on the other hand what we wrote in our paper is we were saying well
but if it is not a constant vacuum energy, if it either time changing
so that it is decreasing into the future or that you have this kind of
Cardassian Expansion that I was mentioning in either case then life
could actually continue because you don’t have this floor in the
temperature. In fact, instead it is also going down and so you can
continue in clever ways to have life continue to exist.
Question: Will life continue to exist as it does here on Earth?
Katie Freese: No, no, not at all. Yeah, something
really very unpleasant from our point of view, so I have no idea, but
certainly not people, not… Things will get very, very spread out and
distant and cold and I’m talking about life in the sense of computation
being able to continue.
If you think about our memories or our
thoughts as a type of computation then is there some way you could have a
molecular cloud, just like the kind I was talking about for the
formation of stars where the different pieces of it communicate in some
way and so you have intelligence of a completely different type than
what we’re… than what we enjoy. So these bodies that we enjoy are not
going to make it.
Recorded May 7, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman