The Mind of God
The Mind of God
Dr Indra Bose smiled at his hubris and felt the stubble of a three day beard prickle his cheeks. He drew on his cigarette and regarded the thicket of calculations on his computer screen.
‘Of all the places to crack it,’ he pondered the irony. Adelaide was hardly Cambridge or Princeton or any other highly regarded seat of scientific learning but here he was; a short, slightly overweight, balding, forty-two year old man in a small flat in the middle of nowhere.
He had never liked Adelaide. It seemed to him to be the most isolated university city in the world. He felt as if he had been slowly pushed to the very edge of existence. On the upside, unlike some of his other academic posts this was a tenured appointment and the university had provided him with this comfortable if modest apartment. He sat in the living room which he had turned into a study. The walls were lined with bookcases heaving with scientific tomes. His laptop sat on a large wooden desk, cluttered with more books. Opposite it he had erected a chalk board for scrawling equations. It was smothered in algebraic calculations; the fruits of decades of labour.
Dr Bose acknowledged the virtues of hard work but he had always instinctively leaned toward the ascendency of inspiration over perspiration when it came to scientific advancement. The primary insight is often the vision, the raw concept; the mathematics follow afterwards. Einstein had dreamed of relativity before formulating his famous theory. In Dr Bose’s case an instinctive conviction that consciousness was a key factor in the universe had driven his studies for many years. He had been roundly derided in respectable scientific circles for this belief but he had stuck resolutely to his unfashionable guns. The joke in academic watering holes was that Bose’s ‘conscious universe’ was like a giant Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment. ‘Don’t open the box!’ they would cry with laughter, while he gritted his teeth and pretended to appear unaffected.
‘Bloody Hell, it’s hot,’ he thought. Though only wearing a pair of cotton boxers and flip flops on his feet, he was soaked with sweat. Bose was a second generation immigrant; his family had come from India but had been born in a village outside Manchester in England and had never been comfortable in hot climates. Here on the south coast of Australia he had often found himself yearning for some cold, grey Manchester drizzle. He sat by the French windows which opened onto a small balcony trying to cool himself, but the breeze coming in off of the Great Australian Bight was warm and humid. It did not refresh him and brought with it multitudes of buzzing insects which he was forced to continually swat as they attempted to feed on his sweat. It was a losing battle. The din of traffic and the cacophony of city dwellers noisily going about their daily business rose up from the street below.
In spite of these irritations, Dr Bose was a man capable of laser-like concentration and his focus was undiminished. He drew on his cigarette and regarded the mathematical symbols on his computer screen.
He knew he was almost there. After years of relentless study focussed on this one huge problem, he knew he was on the cusp of final understanding. He’d been working on the calculation one way or another for the greater part of his life; it had cost him two marriages and driven him to isolation.
His first marriage had been a mistake. They had been young and foolish. His second marriage was a different matter. He regretted losing Sarah. She had made him choose between his work and her. It had been painful but fortunately there were no children involved. Now he was alone.
He knew people found him odd, though that was hardly an unusual characteristic in the world of cosmology but unlike most of his peers he had never been able to settle. Dr Bose had held positions in numerous universities around the world from Newcastle to Arizona, but after a few short years at each, he had moved on and not always by his choice. He had a reputation for being awkward which had damaged his prospects. He knew that it was partly as a result of this peripatetic existence that his work had never received the recognition that it deserved. So, though he had once held an appointment at Cambridge, he was never likely to be awarded The Lucasian Chair. Yes, he resented that and why shouldn’t he? Everyone wants their work to be recognised and he was no different to others in that respect. He harboured a burning resentment in his breast for decades of being over-looked.
He’d had his successes, but they were comparatively small in the greater scheme of things. While he had appreciated The Faraday Prize from the Royal society, The Advance Australia Award was almost an insult given, as it had been, for his skills as a communicator.
‘Communication,’ he had reflected resentfully at the time, ‘is for television game show hosts.’
Now, however, he was about to do something no-one could ignore. He knew they would give him The Nobel Prize for it.
He could afford a little self-congratulation now that he was so close. He hadn’t slept for two days but he wasn’t tired. He was far too excited to sleep. Like a mountaineer approaching the tallest peak he knew that he was nearly at the summit. One last push. There were just a couple more elements to put into the equation and it would be done. The ultimate theory would be complete and it would be his. They’d call it the Bose Theory.
The theory of everything.
Stephen Hawking has famously claimed that if we can develop a theory of everything then we will know the mind of God. If so, then Dr Bose was installing the hotline. He was about to become the greatest scientist in the history of the world. Einstein and Newton would be Lilliputians in comparison. His would be the theory to end all theories. It would be the crowning achievement of human intelligence. He would become world famous and rich. He would also understand the entire universe from its creation to its ultimate demise.
His work had confirmed his belief in the central significance of consciousness in the scheme of things. It showed that consciousness is the mechanism by which the universe comes to know itself. His calculations demonstrated that contrary to scientific orthodoxy, our species is not a random and insignificant by-product in the vastness of space. His studies had made it clear that consciousness was a fundamental necessity in the universe. It was an absolute requirement. Therefore the mere fact of our existence as intelligent, thinking beings means we matter. We matter a lot.
Scientists have known for nearly a century that the quantum realm (the realm of the very small) was profoundly strange. At this scale matter exists as both particles and waves at the same time. Particles can be imagined to exist in all possible places at once until they are measured by a conscious observer. It is only when this measurement is taken that a particle manifests itself at the single point we call ‘reality’. Technically this phenomenon is called ‘wave form collapse’. Dr Bose’s calculations now demonstrated to his satisfaction that this quantum weirdness also operated on the classical scale of our everyday experience. Simply put, without conscious beings continually making measurements by perceiving the world, there would be no universe as we understand it at all. As bizarre as this might appear, his calculations were irrefutable. Without consciousness the universe would just be an immense quantum field of probabilities. It was consciousness, Bose now believed, that provided the vital spark which ignited these competing probabilities into one reality; that being the world we see around us.
‘So if God does exist,’ considered Dr Bose, ‘then He had no choice but to create us, because He needed witnesses.’
Consciousness gives the universe its shape, its purpose and its meaning. This much he already knew. What he didn’t know yet, was whether there would be consequences as a result of a conscious being acquiring total knowledge of the universe. He speculated that possession of such information may critically accelerate the relationship between the universe and the perceiving consciousness to an entirely different evolutionary plane, but what that would mean in a practical sense, he didn’t know. He wondered if the Schrodinger’s Cat joke may not have been so funny after all.
During the Manhattan Project when the Americans were developing the first atomic bomb, scientists considered the possibility that exploding the bomb would cause an uncontainable chain-reaction that would ignite the atmosphere and destroy the world. They went ahead anyway and those calculations proved to be wrong. Similarly some of Bose’s early work had thrown up the possibility that if a conscious being were able to comprehend the universe in its entirety then that would be the ultimate example of a consciousness observing a quantum event; the quantum event under observation being the entire universe. An observation which collapsed the wave form of the entire universe would be at best, totally unpredictable in its outcome and at worst, catastrophic.
At this point his early calculations had generated uncontrollable infinities happening everywhere at once, suggesting that such an observation would produce the ultimate singularity, imploding the entire universe and destroying it in an instant. He speculated that such a singularity may be creative, producing, after the collapse into the Big Crunch, a new Big Bang, which would create another universe. If the perceiving consciousness were to survive the cataclysm and be able to perceive the new universe it had created, it would also encompass that universe because the new universe would be an expression of that very consciousness. Therefore, might not that consciousness be named ‘God’ by the necessary intelligent beings which must evolve in that universe?
Of course, diverting as these speculations were, he knew they were wrong. The infinities had appeared in his early work and infinities are never to be trusted by rational scientists like Dr Indra Bose. Since then Dr Bose had refined his work and had managed to remove the troublesome infinities and the monstrous super singularity.
Dr Bose trembled slightly as he typed the last digits of his equation into the computer. He was somewhat shocked to discover that he had no more work to do. His labours were finally over. His theory was complete. Surveying the work, he was now struck by the simplicity and beauty of his equation. That everything in creation could be encapsulated in such a relatively small and beautiful sequence of mathematical symbols was miraculous to him. He knew the equation was true. Truth is beauty and his equation had a beautiful symmetry. It was absolute beauty made manifest in mathematics.
He let out a long sigh and hit the return key. His equation encapsulated everything in the universe and what is more, since he understood it, he found he knew everything.
He understood it.
He knew everything.
He knew everything in the universe.
He’d always known everything in the universe. He was the universe. The universe was him. Everything was clear. He was able to see all of creation on the micro and macro levels. He gazed at his hand and saw the muscles, bones and blood vessels. He saw the atoms collected to form his body. He could see sub-atomic particles binding to each other in a vast lattice; an endless ocean of inevitable, necessary complexity, vibrating in perfect musical harmony. There was no separation between Dr Bose and the surrounding fields of harmonic energy, no edge where Bose ended and ‘out there’ began. All was one expression of the universal quantum field of probability. Words like quark, electron and atom had no meaning in the glorious universe revealed to Dr Bose. He saw the whirl of galaxies riding through space and time. It was all so simple. All matter and energy were an expression of one ultimate truth; a truth now glaringly obvious to him.
He gazed at his computer screen where numbers were multiplying exponentially. He looked at them with vague interest. He saw electrical current dancing frantically across the silicone chips. He knew the machine was trying and failing to calculate infinities, infinities that he had mistakenly tried to eradicate from his equations before he had evolved.
The universe was infinite. He was infinite. The Bose-universe was one entity, indivisible. He gloried in his destiny and the destiny of the universe. He embraced the end of everything. The past was a dream from which He had awoken and now He looked forward to the next iteration of existence, in the new universe which He was about to create.
He felt a rupture across space and time and saw the universe began to spasm.
Then suddenly, in the wink of His eye…
…The cosmic singularity imploded.