Frank J. Tipler

Frank J. Tipler

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Frank Jennings Tipler is a mathematical physicist and cosmologist, holding a joint appointment in the Departments of Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 and Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 at Tulane University
Tulane University
Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States...

. Tipler has authored books and papers on the Omega Point, which he claims is a mechanism for the resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the dead
Resurrection of the Dead is a belief found in a number of eschatologies, most commonly in Christian, Islamic, Jewish and Zoroastrian. In general, the phrase refers to a specific event in the future; multiple prophesies in the histories of these religions assert that the dead will be brought back to...

. It has been labeled as pseudoscience
Pseudoscience is a claim, belief, or practice which is presented as scientific, but which does not adhere to a valid scientific method, lacks supporting evidence or plausibility, cannot be reliably tested, or otherwise lacks scientific status...

 by some. Tipler is a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, a society advocating intelligent design
Intelligent design
Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...



Tipler is the son of Frank Jennings Tipler Jr., a lawyer, and Anne Tipler, a homemaker. From 1965 through 1969, Tipler attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.Founded in 1861 in...

, where he completed a bachelor of science
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 degree in physics. In 1976 he earned his doctor of philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 (Ph.D.) degree from the University of Maryland
University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland, College Park is a top-ranked public research university located in the city of College Park in Prince George's County, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C...

. Tipler was next hired in a series of postdoctoral researcher
Postdoctoral researcher
Postdoctoral research is scholarly research conducted by a person who has recently completed doctoral studies, normally within the previous five years. It is intended to further deepen expertise in a specialist subject, including acquiring novel skills and methods...

 positions in physics at three universities, with the final one being at the University of Texas, working under John Archibald Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler
John Archibald Wheeler was an American theoretical physicist who was largely responsible for reviving interest in general relativity in the United States after World War II. Wheeler also worked with Niels Bohr in explaining the basic principles behind nuclear fission...

, Abraham Taub
Abraham Haskel Taub
Abraham Haskel Taub was a distinguished American mathematician and physicist, well known for his important contributions to the early development of general relativity, as well as differential geometry and differential equations...

, Rainer Sachs
Rainer Kurt Sachs
Rainer Kurt Sachs is a German-American computational radiation biologist and astronomer. In particular he and Arthur Michael Wolfe were the authors of the Sachs-Wolfe effect, which concerns a property of the Cosmic microwave background radiation.- Life and career :He was born in Frankfurt am Main...

, and Dennis Sciama
Dennis William Sciama
Dennis William Siahou Sciama FRS was a British physicist who, through his own work and that of his students, played a major role in developing British physics after the Second World War. He is considered as one of the fathers of modern cosmology.-Life:Sciama was born in Manchester, England...

. Tipler became an Associate Professor in mathematical physics
Mathematical physics
Mathematical physics refers to development of mathematical methods for application to problems in physics. The Journal of Mathematical Physics defines this area as: "the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and...

 in 1981, and a full Professor in 1987 at Tulane University, where he has been a faculty member ever since.

The Omega Point cosmology

The Omega Point is a term Tipler uses to describe a cosmological
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

 state in the distant proper time
Proper time
In relativity, proper time is the elapsed time between two events as measured by a clock that passes through both events. The proper time depends not only on the events but also on the motion of the clock between the events. An accelerated clock will measure a smaller elapsed time between two...

 future of the universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

 that he maintains is required by the known physical law
Physical law
A physical law or scientific law is "a theoretical principle deduced from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by the statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present." Physical laws are typically conclusions...

s. According to Tipler's Omega Point cosmology, for the known laws of physics to be mutually consistent it is required that intelligent life take over all matter in the universe and eventually force the collapse of the universe. During that collapse the computational capacity of the universe diverges to infinity and environments emulated
Computer simulation
A computer simulation, a computer model, or a computational model is a computer program, or network of computers, that attempts to simulate an abstract model of a particular system...

 with that computational capacity last for infinite duration
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

 as the universe goes into a solitary-point cosmological singularity
Gravitational singularity
A gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system...

 (with life eventually using elementary particles to directly compute on, due to the temperature's diverging to infinity), which singularity Tipler terms the Omega Point. With computational resources diverging to infinity, Tipler states that the far-future society will be able to resurrect the dead by perfectly emulating the entire multiverse
Many-worlds interpretation
The many-worlds interpretation is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that asserts the objective reality of the universal wavefunction, but denies the actuality of wavefunction collapse. Many-worlds implies that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an...

 from its start at the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

. Tipler identifies the Omega Point final singularity as God since in his view the Omega Point has all the properties claimed for God by most of the traditional religions.

Tipler's argument that the Omega Point cosmology is required by the known physical laws is a more recent development that came after the publication of his 1994 book The Physics of Immortality. In that book, and in papers Tipler published up to that time, he had offered the Omega Point cosmology as a hypothesis
A hypothesis is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. The term derives from the Greek, ὑποτιθέναι – hypotithenai meaning "to put under" or "to suppose". For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it...

, while still claiming to confine the analysis to the known laws of physics.

Tipler defined the "final anthropic principle" (FAP) along with co-author physicist John D. Barrow
John D. Barrow
-External links:****** The Forum-Publications available on the Internet:************...

 in their highly cited 1986 book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle as a generalization of the anthropic principle
Anthropic principle
In astrophysics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is the philosophical argument that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. Some proponents of the argument reason that it explains why the Universe has the age and the fundamental...

 as follows:
Intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and, once it comes into existence, will never die out.

Critics of the final anthropic principle say its arguments violate the Copernican principle
Copernican principle
In physical cosmology, the Copernican principle, named after Nicolaus Copernicus, states that the Earth is not in a central, specially favored position. More recently, the principle has been generalized to the relativistic concept that humans are not privileged observers of the universe...

, that it incorrectly applies the laws of probability
Probability is ordinarily used to describe an attitude of mind towards some proposition of whose truth we arenot certain. The proposition of interest is usually of the form "Will a specific event occur?" The attitude of mind is of the form "How certain are we that the event will occur?" The...

, and that it is really a theology or metaphysics principle made to sound plausible to laypeople by using the esoteric language of physics. Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner
Martin Gardner was an American mathematics and science writer specializing in recreational mathematics, but with interests encompassing micromagic, stage magic, literature , philosophy, scientific skepticism, and religion...

 dubbed FAP the "completely ridiculous anthropic principle" (CRAP). Oxford-based philosopher Nick Bostrom
Nick Bostrom
Nick Bostrom is a Swedish philosopher at the University of Oxford known for his work on existential risk and the anthropic principle. He holds a PhD from the London School of Economics...

 writes that the final anthropic principle has no claim on any special methodological status, it is "pure speculation", despite attempts to elevate it by calling it a "principle". Philosopher Rem B. Edwards called it "futuristic, pseudoscientific eschatology" that is "highly conjectural, unverified, and improbable".

Physicist David Deutsch
David Deutsch
David Elieser Deutsch, FRS is an Israeli-British physicist at the University of Oxford. He is a non-stipendiary Visiting Professor in the Department of Atomic and Laser Physics at the Centre for Quantum Computation in the Clarendon Laboratory of the University of Oxford...

 incorporates Tipler's Omega Point cosmology as a central feature of the fourth strand of his "four strands" concept of fundamental reality and defends the physics of the Omega Point cosmology, although he is highly critical of Tipler's theological conclusions and what Deutsch states are exaggerated claims that have caused other scientists and philosophers to reject his theory out of hand. Researcher Anders Sandberg
Anders Sandberg
Anders Sandberg is a researcher, science debater, futurist, transhumanist, and author. He was born in Solna, Sweden. He holds a Ph.D...

 pointed out that he believes the Omega Point Theory has many flaws, including missing proofs.

Tipler's Omega Point theories have received criticism by physicists and skeptics. George Ellis, writing in the journal Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

, described Tipler's book on the Omega Point as "a masterpiece of pseudoscience ... the product of a fertile and creative imagination unhampered by the normal constraints of scientific and philosophical discipline", and Michael Shermer
Michael Shermer
Michael Brant Shermer is an American science writer, historian of science, founder of The Skeptics Society, and Editor in Chief of its magazine Skeptic, which is largely devoted to investigating pseudoscientific and supernatural claims. The Skeptics Society currently has over 55,000 members...

 devoted a chapter of Why People Believe Weird Things to enumerating what he thought to be flaws in Tipler's thesis. Physicist Sean M. Carroll
Sean M. Carroll
Sean Michael Carroll is a senior research associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He is a theoretical cosmologist specializing in dark energy and general relativity...

 thought Tipler's early work was constructive but that now he has become a "crackpot".

Quantum gravity and the theory of everything

In a Reports on Progress in Physics paper included in the journal's "Highlights of 2005", Tipler combines the Omega Point, a version of quantum gravity
Quantum gravity
Quantum gravity is the field of theoretical physics which attempts to develop scientific models that unify quantum mechanics with general relativity...

, and an extended Standard Model
Standard Model
The Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. Developed throughout the mid to late 20th century, the current formulation was finalized in the mid 1970s upon...

 of subatomic particle
Subatomic particle
In physics or chemistry, subatomic particles are the smaller particles composing nucleons and atoms. There are two types of subatomic particles: elementary particles, which are not made of other particles, and composite particles...

s to form what he maintains is the correct theory of everything
Theory of everything
A theory of everything is a putative theory of theoretical physics that fully explains and links together all known physical phenomena, and predicts the outcome of any experiment that could be carried out in principle....

 describing and unifying all the fundamental interaction
Fundamental interaction
In particle physics, fundamental interactions are the ways that elementary particles interact with one another...

s in physics.

Extraterrestrial Beings Do Not Exist

In 1981, Tipler published a paper entitled Extraterrestrial Intelligent Beings Do Not Exist. In it, he builds on the Fermi paradox
Fermi paradox
The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations....

 and others to propose the theory that the number of intelligent life forms in the galaxy equals one, us. He points out that mankind is close to having the technology that makes colonization of the galaxy feasible, and further points out that, in accordance with the mediocrity principle
Mediocrity principle
The mediocrity principle is the notion in philosophy of science that there is nothing very unusual about the evolution of our solar system, the Earth, any one nation, or humans. It is a heuristic in the vein of the Copernican principle, and is sometimes used as a philosophical statement about the...

, so would any other intelligent life form.

He discusses the SETI
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is the collective name for a number of activities people undertake to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Some of the most well known projects are run by the SETI Institute. SETI projects use scientific methods to search for intelligent life...

 effort, and builds a case that the most efficient means to search for other beings is to use von Neumann
John von Neumann
John von Neumann was a Hungarian-American mathematician and polymath who made major contributions to a vast number of fields, including set theory, functional analysis, quantum mechanics, ergodic theory, geometry, fluid dynamics, economics and game theory, computer science, numerical analysis,...

 self-replicating machine
Self-replicating machine
A self-replicating machine is an artificial construct that is theoretically capable of autonomously manufacturing a copy of itself using raw materials taken from its environment, thus exhibiting self-replication in a way analogous to that found in nature. The concept of self-replicating machines...

s. Using this method, Tipler calculates that the entire galaxy could be explored and colonized in less than 300 million years, a reasonably short amount of time on the geologic time scale
Geologic time scale
The geologic time scale provides a system of chronologic measurement relating stratigraphy to time that is used by geologists, paleontologists and other earth scientists to describe the timing and relationships between events that have occurred during the history of the Earth...

 and especially as compared to the age of the universe
Age of the universe
The age of the universe is the time elapsed since the Big Bang posited by the most widely accepted scientific model of cosmology. The best current estimate of the age of the universe is 13.75 ± 0.13 billion years within the Lambda-CDM concordance model...


In his paper, Tipler equates believers in extraterrestrials
Extraterrestrial life
Extraterrestrial life is defined as life that does not originate from Earth...

 with believers in UFOs, and surmises that both share the same motivation:
In the above, the author of the statement that Tipler quotes was Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...

, a noted proponent of SETI
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is the collective name for a number of activities people undertake to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. Some of the most well known projects are run by the SETI Institute. SETI projects use scientific methods to search for intelligent life...


Intelligent design

Tipler's writings on scientific peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

 have been cited by William A. Dembski
William A. Dembski
William Albert "Bill" Dembski is an American proponent of intelligent design, well known for promoting the concept of specified complexity...

 as having formed the basis of the process for "peer review" in the intelligent design
Intelligent design
Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...

 journal Progress in Complexity, Information and Design of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design
International Society for Complexity, Information and Design
The International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design was a non-profit professional society that promoted intelligent design...

, where both Tipler and Dembski served as fellows.

External links