But I like knowing what ACTUALLY made up these elements I’m typing with and on. I can touch this stuff.

When I was super-into Science channel Science (which is a theoretical-physics heavy view of Science), one of my favorites shows went over M-Theory. It’s one of my favorite big-bang things because is removes the problem from this Universe/multiverse altogether.

I was lucky enough to have had exposure to
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Smolin as he was a fellow graduate of Hampshire College and I saw him give a talk back in 1990 about quantum loop gravity, at least as it was understood at the time, so I had some exposure to the early bits of string theory.

He’s also the author of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trouble_with_Physics – although I haven’t really followed his career.

I also had David Deutsche https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Deutsch who is all about quantum computation as a member of a mailing list I ran back in 1991-1997.. although I kicked him and his friend off of it because they were getting too academic for my tastes. I didn’t know he was going to become semi-famous but even then, wouldn’t have mattered.

Had early neural network exposure in 1990/1991 as well and I got to see a lot of theories I learned about in college and worked on with crappy 386 computers and VAX/VMS mainframes *finally* begin to take root today.

So: answer to 1:
Don’t know. My interest lies in the creation of the elements that make *us* up, which apparently come directly from the explosion of a star that existed BEFORE us, went nova, hit a giant molecular gas cloud, which created the very actual matter that makes us up, which connected through electrostatic charges and then further coalesced through gravity, spinning ’round and ’round ’til it make up the sun the planets and life and us.

Big bang stories are much further removed from reality and it’s just as likely that a cyclical creation-of-spacetime that feeds-forward/backwards on itself _could_ end up resulting in no-more-big-bang, depending on how the math goes and the stories go.

But I like knowing what ACTUALLY made up these elements I’m typing with and on. I can touch this stuff.

As far as 2 and 3:

I believe our definition of consciousness and awareness is quite limited due to anthropomorphism. It’s quite possible that there is life that we don’t currently consider life (such as crystals, or complicated forms as found at the center of stars or in molecular gas clouds) that might also qualify as life.

Awareness will be hard to test as long as Science remains committed to a purely externalist perspective. A slight change of Science allowing for valid subjectivity will fix that and I believe the sciences *will* address that missing piece when they’re ready.

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