last updated August 15th, 2004 and is permanently morphing...
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Term from Teilhard de Chardin's evolutionary theory. The expanding omnidimensional structure of all reality-labyrinths on this planet; sum total of all human thoughts, feelings and (apparent) sense impressions.
This term was first used by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to describe the evolving sphere of knowledge/cognivity surrounding our planet.
A development he saw as the awakening of Global Self Awareness akin to modern interpretations of the Gaia theory. The formation of the global brain.
...the noosphere...no longer served as a mere passive repository of human information (the "Seas of Knowledge" which ancient Sumer believed in) but, due to the incredible surge of charge from our electronic signals and information-rich material therein, we have given it power to cross a vast threshold; we have, so to speak, resurrected what Philo and other ancients called the Logos. Information has, then, become alive..."
- Philip K. Dick - _Man, Android & Machine_
The nöosphere is defined as the sum total of all human knowledge and experience. This would include everything from our most private dreams to our knowledge of Universe itself. With accelerating technology as its catalyst, our nöopshere is expanding at its greatest rate in history.
According to the standard inflationary model of cosmology, the 'visible' universe mapped by our telescopes is an infinitesimally small speck in a much larger universe of at least a 1035light-year radius. If the galactic density of our own neighborhood is typical, then our bubble-universe should contain at least another 10100 galaxies - more galaxies than atoms in our own visible universe.
Despite the possibilility that life might be extremely rare, a number as large as 10100 is bound to produce an abundance of life throughout the universe. A place where countless lifeforms evolve beyond their womb planets into highly advanced space-faring civilizations. Even if somehow life only occurs once in the lifetime of a trillion galaxies, and out of those only one a trillion ever evolves out of its womb planet, we're still left with an astounding 1075 advanced societies - more alien cultures than the number of atoms composing planet Earth. For some perspective on such a number, there are more atoms in a single grain of sand than there are grains of sand on the beach from which it was plucked.
Assuming life were this rare, our nearest star-hopping neighbors would probably be trillions of light-years away. Only future technologies like travel through traversable wormholes (like the hyperspace of Star Wars) would ever give us the ability to connect with these cultures. For an enlightening discussion of some possible scenarios, see Michael C. Price's _Some Implications of Traversible Wormholes_
According to Price, the implications of such 'Contact' would be staggering,"The number of alien cultures would be so large, that it is unlikely anyone could ever catalog all of them, even if they did have computers the size of Jupiter! No historian could encompass the sweep of history, no biologist catalog the species. In a profound sense we'll have returned to a vast ancient world, surrounded by distant lands populated with mythical and fantastic creatures. Construction of a single universal map would be impossible. The culture shock of trying to absorb such a vast amount of new data would take close to eternity.
"If she lost her personal wormhole and forgot her
trans-species designation code (a seventy digit number!) she
would never, ever find her way home again. None of her
descriptions of where she comes from would relate to
anything anyone else knows. "
And just when you thought the universe couldn't get any bigger, along comes the idea of other universes and infinitedimensions...
Teilhard was also convinced that a further and even more profound change had taken place. On the one hand we could see humanity simply swept along in a evolutionary stream into the future over which he had no control. Or, we could see that an evolution conscious of itself could also direct itself.
"Not only do we read in our slightest acts the secrets of [evolutions] proceedings; but for an elementary part we hold it in our hands, responsible for its past to its future." Noogenesis moves ever more clearly toward self-direction; it is now something we determine.
In the noosphere, the binding units are not chemicals but human minds, the accumulated accretions of imagination, language, and thought. The noosphere itself evolves, and as it continues "adding its internal fibers and tightening its network," it will rope human individuals into increasingly collective forms of consciosness. Sounding a note that McLuhan would later trumpet, Teilhard argued that the noosphere's thick tangle of economic, social, and information networks would submerge us into an
with all the thoughts, wills, and passions of fellow creatures. Hold onto
your hats, though, for this evolutionary process
will not quit until matter achieves the ultimate state of superorganization
and complexity. At that point, Terra herself achives consciousness, and
collective humanity will kick up its heels for the final number in the Time
and Space Review. With matter and mind narrowing to a single point of
what technology gurus still call "convergence," we will find ourselves sliding
down a cosmic wormhole
that Teilhard dubbed
point." At that node
of ultimate synthesis, the internal spark of consciousness that evolution has
slowly banked into a roaring fire will finally consume the universe itself.
Our ancient itch to flee this woeful orb
will finally be satisfied as the immense expanse of cosmic matter collapses
like some mathematician's hypercube into absolute spirit.
- Erik Davis - _Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism In The Age Of Information_ p. 291
Members: Nils Paschen, Eberhard Schulz, Marcus C. Maichel of X-Dream