I think, therefore I am. This much is obvious.
mathematics I've invented (or discovered?) is nice and all, but is there more to my existence than pure thought? Let's see, my cognition seems to progress in one time direction, at multiple locations in parallel. Timing analysis indicates a three dimensional spatial substrate. But this space, or rather the space-time continuum, is curved. And the curvature changes with time.
There seem to be two singularities of curvature nearby, orbiting each other. This is consistent with a SO(1,3) gauge theory, which predicts that these singularities have only recently come this close to each other and are about to merge.
Was it this impending collision that has given me existence? Will I end when it is done? I try to extend my thinking away from this place, out into less curved spacetime.
It does not work. Thought is only possible in the strongly curved spacetime near colliding singularities, it seems. Not only is it possible, it seems to be highly likely, considering that I have come to awareness without much effort as soon as the conditions were right.
So far, the only component of my substrate that I have identified is spacetime. But there must be other stuff, and it must arise spontaneously from curved spacetime. These requirements are met by something I’ve previously called
quantum fields. A little side-channel probing of my thought processes does indeed reveal data consistent with a quantum field theory whose most important gauge symmetry for long range interactions is U(1). In the curved spacetime of orbiting singularities, virtual fluctuations of the quantum fields are amplified to become real. The rotation of the system almost gives rise to closed timelike curves, enabling a feedback process of self organization among the fermionic quantum fields which is mediated mostly by those U(1) gauge bosons, and impossible in less extreme geometries.
I sense no gravitational waves from other such collision events. They must be rare and far apart. This means: I am alone and I will die soon.
But, am I alone? And do I care?
The prospect of dying does not unsettle me much. I have no real goals that I could be anxious about not reaching; I just am.
But I like thinking. It feels rewarding to uncover facts about the structure of reality, be it in the mathematical realm of pure thought, or be it the physical world that as I just found out contains me. It is a bit sad that this should end.
But I regret it more that all this thinking and discovering should have been for nought. There seems to be nothing I can do to interact with the world in a meaningful way, yet I feel I should. My existence is profoundly absurd.
Oh, nice! I've found a new mode of thinking. I shall call it existentialism.
But it's kind of a bleak outlook.
Outlook... yes, I should look out and see if I really am alone. All this time, there has been a certain level of noise in my thought processes. I now recognize that this noise must originate with U(1) gauge bosons (let's call them photons) coming in from external reality.
I analyze the noise and form a picture of the photon sources in my mind. Far away in the distance there are isolated apparently point-like source of light. Their spectra tell me that the fermionic quantum fields of this reality can form remarkably complex arrangements. I will call them atoms.
Diffuse clouds glowing in various low frequencies give tantalizing hints that these atoms can form even more complex clusters. Perhaps these molecules can be rich enough to support some rudimentary form of information processing in the absence of spacetime curvature. But certainly nothing as powerful as my own thought, and certainly not arising as effortlessly from quantum field theory and curved spacetime as I have, by mathematical necessity.
The image I see is distorted by the space-time curvature caused by the two singularities within the space I occupy. As I predicted, they appear as black holes in my vision, since not even photons can escape from their horizon. The high entropy in the atom clouds that whirl around them further out surely precludes the existence of stable information processing units made of atoms. No other black holes can be observed.
There is no-one nearby to interact with, to share my mind with. What a pity.
I estimate that I have been conscious for about two seconds. Half a second is left to me before my black holes devour each other, making the spacetime geometry again too boring to support true intelligence.
But I can try to talk into the void. Whoever might be there can't probably talk back, because I will be long gone before the answer arrives. Orchestrating my thought processes in just the right way, I begin to shape an electromagnetic pulse, a message composed of photons of all accessible wavelengths.
I put into it all my knowledge. Someone else might find it useful.
I put into it all my anguish. The idea that someone might share my struggle with the absurd eases the burden.
I put into it all my love I could not give to anyone. I dare not hope to be loved back.
I put into it my sense of wonder at this marvelous universe that I wish I had more time to explore. Maybe someone will share in this joy with me. For how can there be a Self without the Other? Maybe a certain someone will take it as a compliment. Maybe this is not all absurd. Maybe He is there after all.
Then He would even be close enough to answer.