The Universe Makes Itself

I’d like to welcome you to your universe.

This is a place where the order of events and the distance and time separating them depends on your speed and direction. It’s a place where even the ground you stand on is made of nothing more than vibrations in a quantum field. The very DNA that encodes the building blocks to create you could be made from nothing more than fragments of viruses and bacteria.

Amazing what happens when you let hydrogen atoms float around for 13.7 billion years.

This is the result of what is coming to be called emergence. You’ve heard it before. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Complex systems and patterns can form from the interaction of simple parts. The cell may follow the laws of physics, but it forges on and writes its own separate set of laws. The layers keep piling on top of each other, and pretty soon you have societies obeying yet another set of rules.

From fields and matter, you get love and war.

Almost everything you experience in your daily life is the result of only two forces of nature: gravity and electromagnetism. Gravity is what’s keeping you in your seat. Electromagnetism is what’s keeping you from falling through it, keeping your body chemistry in check, and allowing you to see these words.

Think about it. Almost every experience you’ve undergone is the result of protons, neutrons, electrons, gravity, and the electromagnetic force.

And you haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s possible yet.

If you’ve been told that science says you’re a machine, an empty vessel awaiting instructions, you were sold a brilliant lie. Machines don’t make themselves. Machines are linear. Machines are designed.

Science says that life makes itself.

How a complex adaptive system works

And it does so through the only real method in the universe that new things can be discovered: trial and error. A complex adaptive system works like this. Several small, simple parts interact with one another in a way that produces an emergent behavior. Feedback from this emergent behavior, and the surrounding environment, is fed back into the system. This feedback alters the behavior of the simple parts, which in turn alters the emergent behavior.

That’s how an anthill works. It’s how your brain works. It’s even how evolution works. And, it turns out, even the macroscopic world seems to evolve from the quantum world.

This is your universe. A place that makes itself.

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