Pan Spermia In The Veil of Her Moon (2005) © Roger Ferragallo.
The new Millennium loves the cross-pollination of ideas, mainly because of the computing revolution in communications. An episode ("Is The Universe Alive?" 13 June 2012) of Through the Wormhole covers a Millennial theory in physics that the universe, or even the multiverse, may be alive. This theory, put forward by Lee Smolin, applies Darwin's idea of natural selection to the propagation of universes (see my earlier post on how physicists are appropriating Darwin's theory to their ends). Smolin argues that universes reproduce themselves through black holes and form attached daughter universes. Thus our universe may be "just one member in a giant family tree of cosmoses." Smolin finds many parallels and analogies between biological life processes and cosmic reproduction.
Theoretical physicists then ask whether this tree of cosmoses is alive, or possibly even sentient. They wonder whether we could find the brain of this living cosmic tree.
Anthropomorphization aside, some of this thinking comes not from the understanding of biological processes but of computational processes. Physicists are almost unconsciously appropriating computing programming concepts and projecting them upon biology and physics (see my related post, which similarly finds the 1930s' cultural context of the scientific concept of dark matter).
According to these researchers, the universe functions like a giant, impossibly complex, computer; the assumption rests on the idea that if the universe is only a pattern of atoms, then that means the atoms could be organized according to a code. They could therefore be the ultimate "intelligent organism."
Researcher Juergen Schmidhuber blurs the lines between disciplines even more with his work on artificial intelligence. The German computing engineer plans to build supercomputers which are smarter than all human minds that have ever existed (see the Through the Wormhole clip here). He hopes to put teams of those supercomputers working together to find the core code of the universe. If any of this turned out to be correct or verifiable, would the code of cosmic reproduction and consciousness designate the multiverse's ego? Or its soul? Would we be products of a cosmic ego, a cosmic soul, or a cosmic digestion?