Dyson's eternal intelligence

Dyson's eternal intelligence

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Dyson's eternal intelligence (or the Dyson Scenario) is a concept that states an intelligent being would be able to think an infinite number of thoughts in an open universe.

The intelligent beings would begin by storing a finite amount of energy. They then use half (or any fraction) of this energy to power their thought. When the energy gradient created by unleashing this fraction of the stored fuel was exhausted, the beings would enter a state of zero-energy-consumption until the universe cooled. Once the universe had cooled sufficiently, half of the remaining half (one quarter of the original energy) of the intelligent beings' fuel reserves would once again be released, powering a brief period of thought once more. This would continue, with smaller and smaller amounts of energy being released. As the universe cooled, the thoughts would be slower and slower, but there would still be an infinite number of them. The idea was published in a scientific paper and in a popular book by Freeman Dyson
Freeman Dyson
Freeman John Dyson FRS is a British-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum field theory, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson is a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists...


Two recent observations have presented problems for Dyson's scenario. The first is that the expansion of the universe appears to be accelerating rather than decelerating due to a positive cosmological constant
Cosmological constant
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...

, meaning any two regions of the universe will eventually become permanently separated from one another. The second is that there appears to be a lower bound for the temperature of a vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

, meaning that the universe would not continue to cool indefinitely.

Also, many grand unification theories
Grand unification theory
The term Grand Unified Theory, often abbreviated as GUT, refers to any of several similar candidate models in particle physics in which at high-energy, the three gauge interactions of the Standard Model which define the electromagnetic, weak, and strong interactions, are merged into one single...

 predict that protons are unstable, albeit with a very long half-life. Thus the material base for intelligence could eventually disappear (in which case another type of matter could possibly be utilized). No evidence for proton decay
Proton decay
In particle physics, proton decay is a hypothetical form of radioactive decay in which the proton decays into lighter subatomic particles, such as a neutral pion and a positron...

has yet been detected, however.