Podcast 106 – “How Rare We Are in the Universe”


Guest speaker: Bruce Damer

Lorenzo Hagerty, Sasha Shulgin, & Bruce Damer at Burning Man 20007PROGRAM NOTES:

(Minutes : Seconds into program)

[NOTE: All quotations below are by Bruce Damer]

08:17 Bruce tells about the three-day white out that followed the 2002 Burning Man festival.

15:59 Bruce talks about the problem of dust on the moon.

18:46“We all grew up seeing buried lunar bases and happy astronauts running around mining and other things, it ain’t going to happen. I concluded, after a lifetime of believing this and two years of actually working on this problem, that we’re not going to do this. We don’t have the technology.”

21.52 “How rare are we in the universe? How rare a thing are we?”

24:02 “These solar systems are out there. They’ve been bathed by our radio waves. Are there any receivers? Is there anyone out there to pick up ‘I Love Lucy’? Probably not. Why? Because those solar systems have all the wrong properties for probably our kind of life or any kind of life.”

29:39 “In this chunk of the galaxy we’re the only noisy solar system. . . . We may be extremely rare. We may be the only ones in our little quadrant. We may be the only ones in our galaxy, or the only one in our local group of galaxies. Life like ours is unbelievably difficult to create. And here we are, our concerns are can we get to the office on time. We don’t even think about the miracle each one of us is.”

31:42 “What I’m trying to build up is a picture of why you don’t need religion. All you need, if you want to be awestruck, is to consider the improbability of you, the improbable miracle that is you.”

35:05 [Commenting on a computer-generated depiction of an astrophysical zoom-out from Earth] “If the universe was at all attempting to find consciousness, for a split-second, a primate brain on Earth had in its little synaptic gaps a picture of the universe. The universe saw itself momentarily.”

Bruce Damer delivering his 2007 Palenque Norte Lecture at the Bruning Man Festival38:48 “What if the ultimate goal of life, of the universe, was to become fully conscious? And what I mean by that is the entire universe becomes, instead of this jumble of matter and quantum whatever, it becomes a single conscious being?”

42:02 “For life itself to have a chance to expand out into the universe, and populate and infuse the universe, we may be one of its only shots [at this], at least in our area. We’re one of the only chances to do this, and we have a very limited window.”

46:52 Bruce talks about the possibilities ALife might explore should it ever be set free in a quantum computer.

51:18 Bruce tells the story about his vision (during the AlChemical Arts Conference in September 1999) of Terence McKenna’s ‘getaway car’.

1:03:57 Bruce begins a stream of consciousness riff about quantum reality that is packed with mind-blowing concepts and ends . . . “In the universe you are all participants. So if you think about it you change it. If you try to study it you change it.”

1:08:39 “The next time you have a powerful dream consider that it may have come from the field.”


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Lorenzo’s Photos from the 2007 Burning Man festival

Bruce Damer’s Photos from the 2007 Burning Man festival

Matt Pallamary’s Photos from the 2007 Burning Man festival

Posted in Bruce Damer, Burning Man, Consciousness, Evolution, Future and tagged , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Comments from original blog page: http://www.matrixmasters.net/blogs/?p=222

    Ha ha, that 5:15 shot looks about the time we were huddled next to a large structure by Entheovillage for a little relief from the dust (not necessarily without joy)… Great lesson on remembering to bring goggles 😉

    Today is a good day, for the first time in a couple months i have my computer up ‘n running and can catch up on my delayed PS education.

    I’m glad you decided to post this speach first, for it was the one i was most eager to hear.. though it doesn’t compare to chill’n… or perhaps baking 😉 with some great people.

    I had even brought my somewhat tattered copy of tihkal for signing, but delayed gratification right.

    I will hopefully see and meet each of you next year 🙂

    may Bruce Damer find The Big One

    and deflect It

    thereby justifying 130,000 years of neurosis

    and of Holocaust

    and of Inquisition

    and hereafter

    we may present the future with an august past

    for the first time

    thank you for getting a podcast up so soon after the burn, and especially thank you for making it be Bruce’s


    Not to be negative here, or something like that, but all rainbows (in the sky) are two rainbows. Usually, you just can’t see the second one.

    Still, that is a rare occurrence in the desert and the pictures/vid are quite beautiful.
    one_hoop · 131 weeks ago
    Immediately after listening to this podcast, I listed to the Radio Lab podcast on Emergence. Somehow I thought they were related:


    Rainbows are optical illusions that do not exist in the sky but in the raindrops. As a result they are viewer dependent, if you can’t see them, then they “don’t exist”. The wikipedia article is pretty interesting.


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