Archaeology, the Internet and Neutrinos
Or: Space and the Universe are a Palimpsest
For those who have followed archaelogical progress over several decades (and reconstructed it from the very beginnings of “modern” archaeology starting probably with people like Schliemann trying to find Troy etc.) it is quite obvious that not only have many things been unearthed in recent years that former generations would have never believed to have existed but it seems clear that what has so far been found is but a fraction of what there is to be found at some future point; and then some, because probably most of the stuff will never be found, go unrecognised or being inadvertently destroyed, e.g. while excavating for a new underground rail system etc.
And from even the slightest glimpse at how we in our present society dispose of everyday goods on a large scale, only to be destroyed, dumped, incinerated or, hopefully, recycled, it seems clear that whatever is still extant of all the tangible things that have ever existed as human artefacts is only but a tiny fraction of all the things that were ever made intentionally. And what has not been wilfully or unintentionally destroyed has often still not stood the test of time and simply disappeared or been corroded beyond recognition.
In fact, a lot of what archaeologists find is only preserved because it was re-used and is not found in its original form. Case in point are palimpsests, i.e. papyri or other written records that have been defaced and re-used (overwritten) but thanks to modern scientific methods allow the former underlying message to be reconstructed and read.
Other than that, public libraries and private collectors have strived to preserve old manuscripts and, if possible and aware of, collected every scrap of printed publication or manuscript ever written or printed. In more recent times this extends to audio or video sources and if human history is any guide, maybe soon olfactory records of scents will be added in an appropriate format.
Not that these public or private collectors succeed to find more than maybe 30% of what is currently in print – for once, self-publishers are often unaware or don’t care for depositing obligations in public libraries or else, like in the samizdat era in the Soviet Union, would rather not mak their efforts public for fear of reprisals, e.g. what terrorist group would voluntarily submit their latest manuals to e.g. the Library of Congress in Washington? So much of what has ever been manufactured, crafted or written, let alone communicated orally, has been irretrievably been lost. Or has it?
Let’s take a look at that: most likely most authors or publisher on the Internet are not even aware of these copies, some might even object to their works in progress being preserved in such a way, e.g. if they change product descriptions or if they had rather deny previous opinions or affiliations.
In any case, the Internet is an example of how even then records of illiterates could be preserved in all eternity, e.g. if a missionary to a remote tribe without even an alphabet or written records would file reports on a public website which in turn would then be archived by virtue of being copied, cited, downloaded on other workstations etc. Like an elephant the Internet never forgets.
Now fast forward to what humankind might at some point in the future become aware of and what CrisisMaven would like to prophesy (hoping the Internet will preserve it until the time may come for that vision to be proven true or finally being refuted):
Akasha – is it not just Universes’ Archive.org?
In all probability judging simply from the efforts humankind in modern “enlightened” times has made to preserve its own record(s)- any even more advanced race (for want of a better word for the all-pervasive “alien”) would be tempted to preserve even more of these tidbits of any information since one can never be sure how valuable it could prove further down the line as can be seen by the often suppressed knowledge on herbs and other natural remedies which pharmaceutical companies now try frantically to rediscover from e.g. indigenous tribes or through etymological studies and the like.
While the earth-bound Internet can be connected via cable even spanning the seven seas (though some is transmitted wirelessly still the greater part is and probably always will be transmitted “by wire” which includes glass fibres etc.) there is no such thing as an interplanetary, let alone an inter-galactic “cable”.
Also neither light nor other electromagnetic waves could be used because they suffer attrition through interstellar nebulae and are prone to be distorted and/or weakened over the aeons they would need to travel through space before reaching other inhabited planets in other galaxies.
However, as much as humankind from its earliest beginnings has striven not so much to exchange goods but also information, first by letter delivered on horse-back, then by telegraph and now via e.g. the Internet and mobile phones or by satellite etc. even to the remotest and most barren places so would extraterrestrial intelligences many millions (if not billions!) of years more advanced than us strive for
- the preservation of knowledge and “lore” down the ages as well as
- a permanent knowledge and “technology transfer” from other intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe and
- to have all that knowledge at their disposal “wherever they went”
just as much as we do here on earth.
A service technician used to carry a heavy paper manual only a few years ago, only to be replaced by a much smaller CD and now only recently being superseded by an online manual which is always up-to-date including a growing “knowledge base” in the form of “FAQs” and/or shared knowledge from other technicians in the field who had the same problem before and solved it.
All this knowledge and communication has to be all-pervasive and accessible 24/7 and everywhere on the globe. The same, only on a much grander scale, would have to apply to a knowledge base shared across the Universe. And just like the Internet one would need to be able to “plug into” that resource everywhere and at once.
And, if not transmitted by electromagnetic waves how could this then be achieved?
Well, CrisisMaven decades ago harboured a suspicion which seems to have become ever more likely or practical in recent years with what we know about the only substrate which might be used both as an intergalactic carrier as well as storage of that (truly “universal”) pool of information:
The Neutrino – Harbinger of the Past and our Future
Neutrinos travel both through empty space as well as through dense matter with equal ease, myriads of them come e.g. from the sun and pass through the earth almost without hindrance.
So if anyone were looking for a substrate with which to carry information across the universe at least at the speed of light then a neutrino would probably be it.
Like photons, neutrinos would succumb to the “duality of wave and corpuscle“, i.e. one would be able to modulate them like electromagnetic waves transporting e.g. information at radio frequencies or by sending them in discrete “digitised” packets.
Why would remote planetary communities who probably would never be able to meet physically want to do such a thing? Well, the question s rather: why would they not? No one stands to loose but everyone stands to gain from a scheme by which an advanced civilisation learns to harness an information carrier such as neutrinos as well as using it as a persistent information storage even if they would for aeons not know if ever and by whom that information was recognised at all, was put to use and to what use and if these beings then eventually would reciprocate. After all, look at the “blogosphere” – millions of people by now day in, day out publish stuff they have no real way of knowing if it is read and by whom (unless someone leaves a comment or quotes and links them from elsewhere) and yet they keep it up and at an alarming pace, thus creating, free of charge, a veritable Akasha chronic of the Internet’s fads and foibles.
Of course currently neutrinos prove so elusive no one can tell how they could be used as a carrier of information and how a receiver would look like. But CrisisMaven is convinced that neutrinos or something like them but as yet not discovered would be the “backbone” of the universal Internet, like a huge and unfathomable library. Since like with radio waves etc. once they have been received parts of their wave packet would be destroyed in the “reading” process so there would have to be relays etc. and “proxy servers” to make sure the stream of information never ends, constantly being retransmitted and enhanced down through the ages. But although humankind has as yet no realistic modes of participating in this universal brotherhood, we are convinced the day is not that far away in which, instead of looking for the very same thing in radio waves like at the SETI project, we will begin to become wise (indeed!) to the schemes of all the different intelligent communities around the universe, many of whom we may read by the time they may already be extinct or have moved house due to a pending stellar catastrophe involving their original home sun and without a clue as to how much further they would have advanced by the time they information reaches us as it would have been communicated millions of years, even billions of years ago.