My Problem with Tipler’s Thesis

My issue with Tipler – the Singularity. Not with the idea that God is the Singularity, as that has too many resonances with theology, both Christian and Kabbalistic. No problems with his Trinity concept either, as I am quite happy believing in God’s Triunity.

The real problem I have is when Tipler claims that Physicists are evading God by wanting to get rid of the Singularity from GR, particle physics and quantum cosmology.

The crazy thing is that Tipler mentions a few examples of singularities appearing in physics equations and how physics avoided them – for example the Hamilton-Jacobi equations of classical motion produce singularities when applied to wave motion, a ‘fault’ corrected when Schrodinger developed the full equations of quantum mechanics. One consequence of that successful singularity evasion is the Many-Worlds Multiverse that Tipler’s theories rely on heavily.

Another example is from the assumption that particles are infinitesimal points – that produces infinite field strength as the particle is approached infinitely closely. Feynmann ‘solved’ that by demonstrating shielding of the naked charge by virtual particles.

Another mentioned by Tipler is the extraction of infinite energy during gravitational interactions between particles – if there was no upper speed limit on interactions. But because lightspeed is that limit infinite interactions don’t occur.

Now if the success of modern quantum physics is based on “eliminating” singularities, then why is it an ‘evasion’ by physicists when they develop supersymmetry, String theory, Loop quantum gravity and so forth? Tipler, perhaps rightly, condemns all those theories as baseless theorising because they have no experimental backing (yet!)

But theoretical work surely precedes experimental work when we’re talking about such extremes of energy. Yet Tipler claims that physicists have religious issues with the idea of real Singularities in General Relativity and quantum cosmology – how can eliminating singularities in one area of physics be a successful method, yet be a manifestation of ‘the Gnostic heresy’ (as Tipler puts it) when it’s applied to cosmology?

Now I believe in Tipler’s Omega Point Theory and that means I have to accept a Singularity at the end of time, and the beginning, and All presents too. He could be right, but to excoriate modern physics as ‘Gnostic heresy’ because it seeks understanding beyond those cosmological singularities is a bit much.

And if the Large Hadron Collider produces supersymmetric particles? What happens then? Will Tipler abandon his faith in physics as he understands it?

I see a rather strong parallel with Aristotelian physics. Aristotle placed God, the Prime Mover, at the Cosmological boundary of the World – the outermost sphere of the heavens was propelled by the eternal, self-contemplating Spirit/Soul. Tipler’s Trinity is the cosmic boundary of the quantum Multiverse and governs its evolution, just like the Prime Mover’s perfect motion ‘governed’ the spheres below. Modern physics evolved because people were willing to think outside of the conceptual cage that Aristotelian beliefs created. Cosmological Singularities might be pointers to similar conceptual cages.

There are so many unanswered questions in the physics that Tipler wants us to adopt as proof of Christianity’s Trinity – why the particle masses of the Standard Model? What is mass? What is charge? What is information? What is consciousness?

None of these important questions even remotely gets an answer. No Christian should ever say that their belief gives them all the answers, and in light of that it shouldn’t condemn thinking outside what is known with certainty as ‘Gnostic heresy’ either. That’s the ‘kiss of death’ for meaningful scientific endeavour, which Christianity – in its worst moments – has been condemned for.

Tipler also discusses Darwinism and the idea of ‘randomness’ in mutation, applying similar terms of abuse. Personally I think he utterly misses the point of the word’s use in biology, which is no surprise coming from a ‘physics fundamentalist’. Biologists mean that ‘random’ variation/mutation is random because it doesn’t produce genetic changes that are perfectly adapted to the environmental pressure that is acting as the ‘selecting force’ on a population of genes. Genes change because of basic physics and chemistry NOT because an animal has to run faster, nor because a plant has to grow quicker on less light. Mutation occurs all the time in genomes and is assumed to be non-directed towards useful changes.

But that picture is inaccurate too because modern genomics research is showing that genes themselves can be deliberately mutated by a body when an organism is facing an environmental stress. Thus there are regions of ‘hypermutation’ which produce new antibodies when we have an infection, and hypermutation in microbes when they’re facing starvation. This doesn’t mean the mutations themselves are perfectly fit – they are, as far as human science can tell – random. But a population of genomes that are hypermutating dramatically increases the odds for a perfect adaptation to be found to an environmental stress.

So in the end I have so much to agree with Tipler on about cosmology and physics, but so much I disagree with about his personal struggles with modern physics. And as he freely admits that’s the real source of his personal career problems and – as I see it – personal bile-spitting that mars what would be a working theory of Christianity’s truths otherwise.

Hominids go Weird

Ancient human ancestors and cousins are a lot more diverse and weird than 20th Century discussions led us to believe. Dmanisi and Flores have shaken up the palaeoanthropological world like a Richter 10 earth-quake. Why so?

(a) Dmanisi blurs the line between Homo habilis and Homo erectus by being a mix of ‘primitive’ and ‘advanced’ features. Almost a perfect example of a transitional population. Old and New at Dmanisi

(b) Flores is a real shaker because the species was so close to us in time, the brain was so small, the tools so advanced, and now it has been revealed the post-cranial material is displaying very primitive features. Hobbits had Archaic wrists

…plus there was the recent find of a very small Homo erectus skull from what seemed to be a fully grown adult. An almost perfect African precursor to hominids like floresiensis and georgicus. Things have gotten weird and may well get weirder. We may find “little people” like the Hobbits almost anywhere.

Tipler’s Main Thesis

The real meat of Tipler’s book is his discussion of the nature of God and physico-mathematical proof of God-as-Trinity, thus proof of Christianity.

Tipler argues that God is the Cosmological Singularity of Feynmann-Weinberg Quantum Gravity, and the development of String Theory, Brane-worlds, Smolin Loop Quantum gravity and so forth are actually the evasion of the FACT of the existence of God by modern physics. Physicists can’t handle the real existence of the Singularity as implied by both General Relativity and the Multiverse of quantum theory applied to cosmology, because Tipler believes they’re in denial about the existence of an entity beyond space-time yet described by the laws of physics (the Singularity is Beyond, but connected to our Multiverse.)

So that’s his basic thesis – God is the Singularity pointed to by Quantum Gravity applied to cosmology. And that Singularity manifests, mathematically, as three ‘hypostases’ – the All Pasts Singularity, the All Presents Singularity, and the All Futures Singularity. He equates these with the Holy Spirit, the Son and the Father respectively. Thus God is a Trinity and (Orthodox) Christianity is objectively true.

Next post: my main issue with Tipler’s argument.

Physics of Christianity – a critique continued…

Frank Tipler’s latest book “The Physics of Christianity” makes a basic claim: Christianity is – potentially – a branch of physics and thus testable. Tipler defines miracles, not as violations of physics, but exemplars – miracles are unlikely, but spiritually significant natural events. They NEVER violate the laws of physics, they DO violate our human level expectations.

So what does Tipler claim? There’s a few historical claims, but they’re pretty minor. Here’s a few:

(1) He makes a case for Jesus’ Virgin Birth as being due to a parthenogenically produced diploid oocyte. Which isn’t that hard to induce in humans, apparently. He was an XX, thus no Y chromosome was required. What makes his case special – XX males aren’t too rare – was the transfer of all the male genes from the Y chromosomes of Mary’s lineage to the X chromosome – something that happens perhaps once in every 20,000 women per gene. For all the Y genes the odds are massively unlikely – thus miraculous by Tipler’s definition of a miracle.

(2) A supernova in Andromeda was THE Star of Bethlehem. He makes a pretty good case for this scenario and is well aware of all the competing theories, incorporating a few into the bigger picture.

(3) Modern day miracles of conversion are explicable by ‘natural causes’ (i.e. God’s laws.) Thus casting out of demons, visions of Jesus, raising the dead and miracle healing – all
have physical explanations. Respectively: ‘demons’ are like computer viruses of the mind (think: MPD), and exorcism is like a virus quarantine; visions are information from God; the ‘dead’ are resuscitated from suspended animation, not restored from rotted flesh (though see later), and healing is via mind-body interaction, otherwise known as the ‘placebo effect’, but induced by prayer and faith.

(4) The Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oveido possibly preserve real evidence of Christ’s resurrection via ‘reverse baryogenesis’ turning his baryons into neutrinos, thus uploading him into God. Both the Resurrection and Mary’s Assumption might also be testable by particle tracks in the rocks that formed the Holy Sepulchre and Mary’s Tomb.

And so on…

The big stuff is a bit more involved. Coming soon in my next post.

A first pass problem with claim (4) is that Tipler focuses a lot on the theories of Garza-Valdez on how a bioplastic film wrapping the threads of the Shroud’s cloth has caused the C-14 dating of the Shroud to be in error. Ray Rogers, whose work Tipler mentions briefly, strongly criticised Garza-Valdez’s theories and Rogers’s work on the C-14 sample area has made the bioplastic theory an irrelevance. The C-14 sample area was material different in chemistry and age to the rest of the Shroud – it was a Medieval patch, woven into the main body of fabric using invisible reweaving. Why it was chosen rather than random bits of the Shroud is unknown, but it has confused the scientific picture of the Shroud utterly.

Whedon’s ‘Verse

Joss Whedon’s “Firefly” reflects Joss’s disinterest in science in a subtle way. As a series it got so much right, like no noise in space, but it does have a few oddities from the point of view of Hard SF. Aside from that weird space-drive, I mean.

For example, the terraformed moons & planets of the ‘Verse are said to have had their atmospheres and gravity fixed by the terraforming process. Atmosphere is OK (in decades, mind), but gravity?

Here’s a speculative, but hopefully Hard SF take on fixing a planet/moon’s gravity. Question: without adding mass how do you increase a planet’s surface gravity?

Ans: Shrink the planet.

Consider: materials under compression increase in density. Intense gravitational and electromagnetic fields, perhaps even strong nuclear fields, cause materials to compress into denser forms. Some such are metastable, like diamond too, thus remain dense after the pressure subsides. Some fretful types still worry that particle accelerators might create bits of quark matter (strangelets) which can catalyse catastrophic collapse of the Earth to nuclear density. There’s several reasons why that’s unlikely, but what if there was a nuclear process that can collapse a planet’s metallic core and leave the silicate mantle?

The energetics are actually in favour of that occurring since shrinking a mass releases gravitational binding energy. If ‘Verse engineers found a way of shrinking a metallic core to 0.1% of its previous size then a planet would contract and its surface gravity would increase. At the core/mantle boundary the core’s gravity has increased 100-fold, thus enhancing compression of the silicates of the mantle.

How much would gravity increase? To double the surface gravity a spherical body would need to shrink to 70.7% of its previous size. Doesn’t sound like much, but it means the average density increases by sqrt(8)= 2.83. Escape velocity increases by just 19%, but that’s a second-order problem. Earth, so shrunk, would be just 9,010 km across.

One result I can’t parameterize is where the released gravitational energy would end up – some would become heat and probably melt much of the mantle, but that might be needed to create volcanism and revive a magnetic field. The rest would end up in the chemical bonds of the new high density phases of the compressed mantle.

Anyway there’s a new trick to add to fiction: compressed planets. I’m sure someone can imagine a way of limiting strong nuclear material, like quark matter, to just compacting a metallic core in the 500 years between Now and the ‘Verse.

Retrocausality experiment

John Cramer is a physicist at the University of Washington, and he has a plan for signalling backwards in time via quantum entanglement…

What’s Done is Done… or is It? (at New Scientist)

…which is well explained by the article, for a layperson, but from a physicist’s point of view here’s John’s own papers available online…

An Experimental Test of Signaling using Quantum Nonlocality

…of course there’s a few assumptions involved. Firstly, the quantum entanglement is caused by a forwards-backwards-in-time handshake between the interacting particles – John’s own Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. If instead the Quantum Multiverse is correct then the experiment might have a totally different outcome. Maybe. John’s Interpretation is mathematically equivalent to the Multiverse because both reproduce the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics… but the Multiverse doesn’t feature retrocausality.

Could John’s retrocausality experiments be proof or disproof of the Multiverse?

John Campbell’s Solar System

Seventy-one years ago John Campbell, future pivotal, legendary editor of “Astounding/Analog” SF magazine (1938-1971), was just another writer – actually two because he used “Don A. Stuart” as a pseudonym. He was fresh out of University with a physics degree and embarked on a series of monthly fact articles about the Solar System that lasted 18 months. Even 71 years later the series is surprisingly insightful and not woefully dated, unlike the fiction from the same era.

John Campbell’s Solar System

One particularly striking bit of ‘alternative history’ is this little passage…

IN 1666 the hated fourth law of light attracted Newton’s attention, and he tried an experiment to prove that white light is a blend of colored light. He admitted sunlight through a round hole to a prism, getting then the familiar colors, ranging smoothly, gradually, featurelessly, from violet through blue, green, yellow, orange to red. By means of a second prism he showed that they could be recombined to a beam of white light. Newton proved white light was compounded of colored. It was a great discovery.

For the fourth law of light is the law of the spectroscope. By it, to-day, the secret language of light may be read; by it, light talks like a garrulous old maid at a gossip’s tea party. It tells all the secrets of the universe. By it we can analyze the Sun and the million-billion-mile-distant star; we sample the air of Jupiter and Mars; and we time the speed of the moving stars. By it we analyze the minerals of Earth or star.

In 1666 America was a howling wilderness, where Puritan Pilgrims held on by tooth and toenail to a narrow strip of seacoast. England had just overthrown Cromwell. Men sought unicorns for their magic, cure-all horns. Oxygen was not to be dreamed of for a century and more. Chemistry, the basis of modern civilization, was alchemy, and men sought the philosophers’ stone.

In 1666 Newton, the man who developed the law of gravity from idle speculation on a falling apple, used a round opening to produce his spectrum, and got round images of the Sun in every color, smoothly overlapping and featureless. A spectroscope uses exactly the same apparatus save that they have a thin, hairline slit, so that each color is thrown in a hairline, sharply distinguishable mark of light.

Literally, by a hairline Newton missed the spectroscope. Had he used a slit, the spectrum of the Sun would have been bright colors crossed by mysterious black bands and lines. He could not have left that mystery untouched. He would have found that sodium thrown on a candlewick would produce bright-yellow lines matching exactly two powerful dark lines in the mysterious solar spectrum. Calcium would have given him red lines, copper and other metals —

Chemistry would have started up like a stung rabbit from spectroscopy, not test tubes! Oxygen in a year, not a century and a half. The elements of the rocks in months.

But spectroscopy waited untouched from 1666 to 1802. Can you conceive what an alien world this might have been had a man who mastered gravity, calculus and the laws of motion used that slit, the one great thing that challenges gravity for supremacy in teaching mankind?

…a particularly appropos alt.history as Newton investigated alchemy thoroughly to try to discern the fundamental laws underpining its concrete findings. In the end he failed and chemistry needed almost 150 years for Dalton’s atomic theory to revolutionise its methodology and organise its finding’s with an over-arching conceptual structure. But what if Newton had discovered the absorption lines in the spectrum first? Incredible scientific advances would have occurred 170 years early and the world would’ve had scientific chemistry before the Industrial Revolution, perhaps bypassing many of the dead ends.

Postscript

One downside that occurred to me, if chemistry arrived early via spectroscopy, was the fate of SF. Much of the early excitement of science fiction was the prospect of nearby alien life on the planets. If Campbell could pronounce the Solar System mostly dead in the 1930s after the first spectroscopic examinations of the planets, then early spectroscopy might have strangled the babe in its crib. Knowing the planets to be utterly unlike Earth by 1800, say, would have led to the still-birth of spaceflight. Missiles might have been developed, and flight, but with nothing to visit nearby, the major impetus behind the western inventors of the Space Race – the thought of Martians and Venusians amongst American, British & German space enthusiasts in the 1920s-40s – might have killed their efforts. No Goddard, von Braun, Ley, Oberth, and Clarke, to name a few.

But that may not have been the ‘kiss of death’ I’ve imagined for Russian space enthusiasts – Tsiolkovsky was of the opinion that ETIs were rare in the Universe, but that did nothing to dampen the passions of Russian wannabe cosmonauts. Perhaps the Soviets would have developed liquid fuel rockets before the Nazis? That alt.history would have been very different indeed with Stalin’s Russia bombarding the upstart fascists with Tsiolkovskyan liquid-fuelled missiles…

How much information is needed for Life?

I’m sick to death of people claiming ridiculous amounts of information in genomes. Pundits with an axe to grind against materialism like to liken the information in a simple cell to the Encyclopaedia Britannica – all of it. But we’ve actually measured the information in microscopic replicating biosystems – viruses, archaea and bacteria – so we have some guide to what’s needed. Biosystems are made of both simple and incredibly complex molecules – and the complex ones, proteins, are encoded as a sequence of DNA. In microbes the DNA is one huge loop – a ring – which tiny molecular machines called ribosomes read and convert the information into proteins. The information itself is the order of amino acids – twenty specific ones in most lifeforms – which make up the protein itself. Once the amino acids are put together into a string connected by chemical bonds the newly made protein then folds up into a shape that lets it do the specific chemistry task that it controls. For many proteins a large fraction of the amino acid sequence can be changed with no change in function or form – most of the action happens in a few small regions. Some protein machines are ubiquitous in function throughout the biological world – cytochrome c for example – but exist in a HUGE variety, with completely different sequences of amino acids.

So how much information will let a biosystem self-replicate? Viruses don’t, though some contain more DNA than the simplest bacteria. But Viruses do self-assemble after their proteins have been made by a host-cell’s ribosomes. In fact many intricate protein machines – which viruses are just one example of – self-assemble from their component proteins, without any apparent molecular “master-builder”. Instead as the proteins jostle around inside their host cell, their specific magnetic linkages will find each other and link up. Brief interactions between the proteins and other unrelated proteins might occur, but in the constant jostling only a proper fit will stick the two together fastly. It’s crowded and busy inside even the simplest cells.

The simplest self-replicating biosystem known is an intra-cellular parasite called Nanoarchaeum equitans a bacterial parasite with a DNA string about 490,885 base-pairs long. A base-pair is the minimal unit of DNA information, which can have four different values (equivalent to 2 bits of computer-style information.) There’s 3 bases per codon in DNA’s “language” so the Nanoarchaeum genome is about 163,000 codons long. A codon is roughly 6 bits. Thus the simplest self-replicator is the equivalent of about 122 kilobytes (1 byte = 8 bits.) There’s 10,000 symbols (including spaces) per page of the Encyclopaedia Britannica – I counted it out of curiosity one day. Each symbol of print is roughly a byte. Thus Nanoarchaeum needs just 12 pages of Britannica to encode its genes.

Taking into account the redundancy of the DNA codon code and the roughly 50%-80% redundancy of amino acid sequences themselves, that means roughly 34 – 13.5 kilobytes of information will code a self-replicating DNA-based cell. Just 3 to 1 page of Britannica.

That’s still a lot of information to “just happen”, but in our ignorance of proto-biochemistry we might be missing the key element that simplifies matters even further.

Weirder things might be needed. Physicist Paul Davies has speculated that backwards causation might cause the past to be at least partially determined by the future – thus biochemistry was arranged to be consistent with the existence of Life by the (future) observation that Life exists. Else there would be no observation for that “consistent history” to ever happen. This occurred not by design, as in engineering by an external god, but by an inner mathematical consistency that insists the Universe is observed and thus observers should exist.

The self-referential nature of that idea gives me a headache, but check out Davies “The Goldilocks Enigma” (called “Cosmic Jackpot” in the USA) for a fuller discussion. There’s a whole barrel of mysteries as to how proteins do what they do and we might find some pretty wild quantum effects are necessary for life itself.

Ask yourself: if you were a god how would you do it? Can Life be designed?

Milky Way Census

I am rather puzzled by just how many stars there are in the Milky Way too. Different sources give different figures, but ask an astronomer and they usually say 100 billion, roughly. That figure comes from actually measuring the light put out by the Milky Way and doing the sums.

If you look at the mass of the Milky Way – for example by taking the orbital radius and velocity of the stars at the galactic periphery, then working backwards – you get hundreds of billions of solar masses. However a BIG fraction is dark-matter and dark gas etc. and we really don’t know how much there is of either. If you look at the Milky Way from M31 and measure its mass via its satellite galaxy orbits you get about 1.2 trillion solar masses.

The total luminosity gives a less theory laden measure. That works out at about 55 billion solar luminosities and a baryon mass of about 60 billion solar masses. For a recent study check out this link. Divide that mass-figure by the average stellar mass and multiply by the fraction that is stars, and you only get about 100 billion stars. About 20 billion of those are roughly Sun-like. Assuming a Galactic disk age of 10 Gyr, a random spread of ages, and an oxygenic biosphere life-time of 1 billion years, thus there’s about 2 billion stars that could have planets with oxygen.

I’ll put my head out and say that 50% have terrestrial planets (Geoff Marcy’s estimate) and 50% of those systems have a planet in the habitable zone (Kasting’s estimate.) Thus there’s 500 million planets as old as Earth and in the right place for life-as-we-know-it. Not a lot different from Stephen Dole’s estimate from 1964 of 640 million. What’s different is that we now KNOW there are planets out there. Dole only know of a few possible planets – none of which are correct, though 61 Cygni is still a maybe.

But how many actually have life? A new study by researchers from my Alma Mater has demonstrated actual microbial remains from 3.5 billion years ago which is a boost to prospects for figuring out just when Life got started here. But does it tell us about Out There? Many popularists for SETI – the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence – argue that because Life arose very soon after Earth became stable (any time after 3.9 billion years ago) then it must be ‘inevitable’ and arise wherever it can. However the mystery of Life’s origin is still a matter of debate and very few facts. We do know that DNA-RNA style life is incredibly complex compared to basic organic chemistry, but we also know that cells make themselves using relatively small amounts of information. Their constituent molecules assembly themselves into an ordered whole very easily. How?

Until we know that the numbers of planets with Life might just be one.

Engineer the Sun!

Trying to imagine Life billions of years from now seems kind of futile to me. But if there’s any trace of us left then I can imagine they’d be familiar and yet very strange too. Certainly no end of SF writers have tried – Stephen Baxter, Poul Anderson and Charles Sheffield have had the balls to take readers to the end of Time, and beyond. Let’s be a bit more prosaic and stick to our little Solar System. So what would billions of years of technological advancement let us do?

We all know the Sun will evolve into a bloated, overluminous giant about 5 billion years from now – a timeframe that depends on the amount of heavy elements in the Core. According to a fairly standard model, the Sun’s future is as follows (in gigayears of the Sun’s age. Subtract 4.6 Gyr to get the date from now)…

(A) Core burning ends, t = 9.4 Gyr
(B) Redwards Traverse, end of Main Sequence, t = 10.9 Gyr (Sun pretty stable, Mars’ temperature rather nice)
(C) First RedGiant ascent, t = 11.6 Gyr (Sun goes from about 3 times present luminosity to about 2,400)
(D) Sun’s Core explodes, Helium burning begins, t = 12.1 Gyr (Sun pretty stable, Jupiter’s rather nice)
(E) Asymptotic Giant Branch, t = 12.2 Gyr (Sun goes from about 45 to 6,000 times present)
(F) Planetary Nebulae shed off, Sun dies as White Dwarf, t = 12.25 Gyr

Of course Earth, left to Nature’s course, dies long before the Sun even finishes Core burning. In about a billion years photosynthesis will crash and/or the oceans will be ploughed into the mantle by plate tectonics. Bacteria might survive for another billion, but eventually it’s all desert and a slow warming towards a Venus-like greenhouse. For Earth’s biosphere – and our “descendents” – the usual options are:

(1) extinction
(2) Move the Earth
(3) Live in mobile space colonies
(4) Put up sunshades
(5) Move to another planet

Instead of migrating, moving the Earth, or moving into space permanently – and they’re all options that might be taken – I would suggest a more radical option: engineer the Sun.

A few facts suggest this might be worthwhile.

First, the Sun will go red giant after using a tiny fraction of its total energy potential. This seems rather wasteful to me.

Second, magnetic fields can potentially reach all the way down into the Sun’s core. Thus we might be able to control the Sun’s energy output and its chemical evolution by inducing convection.

So just how much energy is available? If all the Sun’s mass converted to energy at current output it would last 14.5 trillion years. But it’s a giant fusion reactor instead. Proton-proton fusion, and associated reactions, convert 0.7% of the mass into energy. As the Sun is currently 74% hydrogen, proton-proton fusion would last 75 billion years using all the hydrogen. If we ignited helium fusion after that we might get another 30 billion years.

That sounds pretty good, but could we go further?

Some of the energy involved in the Sun’s evolution is from gravitational collapse. About half the Sun’s mass will collapse into a white dwarf liberating a few billion years worth. If the Sun could be collapsed further then even more would be liberated. The absolute limit is, of course, when the Schwarzschild radius is reached and we’ve made a black hole. If we collapsed the Sun into a quark-star just 6 km in radius we might extra a few trillion years of energy out of it.

Via reverse baryogenesis we might then extract all the mass-energy out of the remaining quark mass, thus getting the full 14.5 trillion years. All up we might extract 20 trillion years out of the Sun. But what happens then?

Instead of burning the Sun’s mass up perhaps we could change power sources. There’s a lot of dark matter around and the evidence is good that it self-annihilates with a release of real energy. Perhaps the Sun could be converted into a dark matter reactor? This is believed to happen naturally in white dwarf stars – but the power level is low. We might clever enough to develop a means of funnelling dark matter in to improve the output.

After all the options of this universe are tried perhaps we’ll have to look into higher dimensions to extend the Sun’s life even longer. We have a long, long time to figure out what to do.