Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Universe, and Everything, by Douglas Adams -- Yes, the answer is 42

A life too short:
So what we have arrived at here - and although the first shock wave of this arrival was in 1859, it's really the arrival of the computer that demonstrates it unarguably to us - is 'Is there really a Universe that is not designed from the top downwards but from the bottom upwards? Can complexity emerge from lower levels of simplicity?' It has always struck me as being bizarre that the idea of God as a creator was considered sufficient explanation for the complexity we see around us, because it simply doesn't explain where he came from. If we imagine a designer, that implies a design and that therefore each thing he designs or causes to be designed is a level simpler than him or her, then you have to ask 'What is the level above the designer?' There is one peculiar model of the Universe that has turtles all the way down, but here we have gods all the way up. It really isn't a very good answer, but a bottom-up solution, on the other hand, which rests on the incredibly powerful tautology of anything that happens, happens, clearly gives you a very simple and powerful answer that needs no other explanation whatsoever.
Cosmologists and physicists and such know this from the ascending--not descending--levels of the complexities of elements, I would think, nest paw? Stars start with the really simple elements, the really low numbers on the periodic table. Everything, literally, builds on those. Thr model for reality is emergent, not depository. (What Friere knew, too, for my friends in 'education.')

(Excerpted from: In memoriam
Douglas Adams' speech at Digital Biota 2, Cambridge U.K., September 1998
. Do yourself the favor of reading all of it. A Festivus present for your brain.)

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