Frank Tipler on the Ultimate Rocket, Ultimate Energy Source, and Ultimate Future

Nobody ever accused Frank Tipler of not thinking big. Tipler, professor of physics and mathematics at Tulane University, is known for, in 1974, inventing a time machine based upon general relativity, arguing in 1980 that “Extraterrestrial Intelligent Beings Do Not Exist” [PDF], developing a cosmological model in The Physics of Immortality (1994) in which intelligent life must survive forever to achieve the teleological purpose of the universe, and in 2007’s The Physics of Christianity declaring a research goal to “make Christianity a branch of physics”.

He begins this talk at the Interstellar Research Group meeting in Montréal on 2023-07-10 stating that, as a cosmologist, “anything smaller than a galaxy is really too small to really notice”—so, thinking big. He then argues that the physical theories we presently have in hand: general relativity, quantum mechanics, and the standard model of particle physics, if taken to their logical limits (and nobody does taking things to logical limits better than Frank Tipler), explain most of the apparent mysteries of the origin and ultimate fate of the universe: the asymmetry between matter and antimatter, the low entropy of the early universe, the nature of dark energy and dark matter, and the ability of ultra high energy cosmic rays to propagate over intergalactic distances without scattering by the cosmic microwave background radiation.

His model predicts an energy spectrum of the cosmic background radiation that differs from the standard model of cosmology and presents here, for the first time, experimental results which appear to support his theory of its origin in the early universe.

The same processes that he argues existed in the early universe can provide the descendants of humans (who he believes are the only potentially spacefaring species in the universe) the means to spread the spark of life and intelligence throughout the cosmos. Indeed, the future of the universe cannot be predicted without taking into account their intervention in achieving its destiny: to preserve the unitarity which is a foundation of quantum mechanics, this Godlike future life must halt the accelerated expansion of the universe and reverse it into a cosmic collapse to an Omega Point singularity, allowing infinite subjective time, information processing, and acquisition of knowledge before the final singularity.

How will our distant descendants steer the cosmos toward its destiny? Tipler says “That’s why I’m talking to a room full of engineers. I’m telling you what physics allows; you figure out how to do it.” So, fine, he says, keep plugging away at colonising Mars, building space habitats for trillions of people, developing super-intelligent self-reproducing machines, and launching probes to nearby stars, but don’t forget where it all ultimately is leading.

In my 1995 science fiction story, “Einstein, Heisenberg, and Tipler”, I took note of the risks of annoying the Old One by intruding upon His prerogatives.


Has Tipler described what the general relativistic frame of an oscillating charge looks like? You know… the whole universe bouncing back and forth at 2.4GHz or whatever, while an electron just sits there looking on.

I don’t think this is the same as Paradox of radiation of charged particles in a gravitational field, which has apparently been resolved as the charged particle’s accelerated frame looking like a static charge that, because it is static, does not radiate.

I don’t recall his having written on the topic. Most of his academic publications have been in the area of “global general relativity”, where one considers models encompassing all of spacetime (similar to the “block universe” of general relativity, where there are no dynamics).

The puzzle of electromagnetic radiation from a charged particle in a gravitational field, and the proposed solution (the two links in your comment were both to the arXiv paper, was the first supposed to be this Wikipedia article?) due to the radiation being hidden behind a RIndler horizon for the equally accelerating observer is reminiscent of Mike McCulloch’s model of quantised inertia, in which Unruh radiation is the source of inertia due to asymmetry of the Rindler horizon for an accelerated object. This was discussed in the post here on 2023-03-19, “An Alternative Theory of Inertia will Get Tested in Space”. Comment 5 of that post includes a twenty minute talk by Mike McCulloch on the theory and how it permits a propellantless space drive.

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Yes, of course, and I took the liberty of correcting the link in my post to head of further confusion.

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Over at – a usually conspicuous Defender of The Faith at that site, when confronted with the “resolved” paradox of accelerated charges and general relativity, ends a rather lengthy palaver with this mealy-mouthed admission that physical theory doesn’t really admit conservation of energy even granting its “one miracle” of the big bang:

This violation of conservation of energy is traditionally understood to be due to observing things from the “wrong frame” of accelerated observer.

The problem does not go away if the acceleration is due to gravity, like for free-falling observer.

In such frames we can introduce fictitious forces acting on the Earth body and the charged body. But there is no apparent source of these fictitious forces and no apparent source of corresponding energy gained by those bodies. So the problem with energy conservation in such frames is already with kinetic energies of solid bodies and already in non-relativistic theory.

In relativistic theory including gravitation this problem is even worse. There can be things such as bodies accelerating and EM energy increasing without apparent source of energy. There are also things such as Rindler/black hole horizons where things disappear or freeze in time. There are difficult problems and energy conservation is one of them.

It’s sort of like he’s saying:

“What? Since when has anyone said conservation of energy was a thing? Move along. Nothing to see here.”


I have doubts about Tipler’s assumption of unitarity. It is only true for non-Bohmian orthodox quantum mechanics. It is no longer true for post-quantum mechanics with action-reaction in the sense I introduced in the 1990s later improved by Rod Sutherland.

See Section 7

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Conservation of energy comes from time translation invariance (one of the Noether theorems).
Time translation invariance is broken by gravity (curved spacetime) because both time and space translation invariance only work in globally flat Minkowski spacetime with zero real gravity. Trying to restore global energy-momentum conservation including the new gravity curvature field is not easy and is still a matter of some controversy - nonlocality of gravity energy (Roger Penrose). Local conservation is not a problem Tuv^;v = 0 it’s when you integrate over a 3D spacelike hypersurface that you get in trouble.

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