Boltzmann Brain Discovery !

It began a few days ago, when an amateur astronomer Jonny Lapkins was photographing Jupiter from his backyard observatory. When, as usual, he was observing the Great Red Spot through his 14.5-inch telescope, something odd caught his eye: a dark mark. What does it signify? Another dark storm on Jupiter, or dark forces try to tear the planet apart, or dark energy shows its face through extra dimensions. There were no time to think, and Jonny in hurry sent his picture to everybody. If you did not get his email, probably, it is in a spam folder.


Image by Anthony Wesley

Two famous astronomers Mona Fritcher and Dona Pritcher, using the MASA Infra-red Telescope Facility immediately looked at the mark spotted by Lapkins. They said: “We believe it was an asteroid that missed the Earth. We are lucky that it is over there and we can still observe it”. Meanwhile, the LIZA Corporation looked at their huge Hobbit Space Telescope and made pictures with a higher resolution. What was a surprise for them when they realised that the dark spot is of the shape of brain. Whose brain could be on Jupiter? The answer is: it could be the Boltzmann Brain [O] only! The LIZA Corporation is too big to fail, so there is no other opinion. The Boltzmann Brain Community (BBC) News immediately reported about this noticeable event and called it the main discovery of twenty first century, even greater than discovery of Higg’s boson.

Now the question whether we are alone in the universe or not is answered! However, the LIZA Corporation went even further. They decided to verify experimentally that this is indeed the Boltzmann brain, not somebody’s else. They immediately analysed the spectrum of light reflected from the brain and found that it has a lot of grey lines. Therefore, they concluded that it consists mostly of grey matter rather than dark matter. But it is not enough to confirm that it is the Boltzmann brain. As it was pointed out by J. Richard Gott, III in [1], it is necessary to test whether it is an intelligent observer. The Boltzmann Brain Community remarked that the Boltzmann brain does not need to be examined for intelligence; it is intelligent because it belongs to Boltzmann. However, Gott in [1] predicted that a BB (Boltzmann Brain) will not pass the Turing test:

“…one should regard an entity as an intelligent observer if one could not distinguish it from a human being … the BB you see is likely to fail to answer the next one successfully (either by vanishing or by answering in nonsense)”.

The LIZA Corporation, because anyway it wanted to pursue scientific approach, sent a question to the Boltzmann Brain. Journalists were unsuccessful in finding out what kind of question was asked; the LIZA Corporation only said that this question is very important for humanity, especially who live in the upper hemisphere. While waiting for an answer, they decided to calculate the BB energy. Thanks to Bousso and Freivogel, who wrote in their paper [2]:

“We can still concerned about Boltzmann brains, and it remains true that we expect the first Boltzmann observers to show up after an exponentially long but finite time of order

t~exp(ER),                                                    (4.1)

where E is the energy of the brain and R is the radius…”

Formula (4.1) allows to find energy from knowledge of time of appearance of the Boltzmann brain and its radius. The LIZA Corporation was not able to measure the radius; they reported that there is indirect evidence that it is big (but not too big not to fail the Turing test). More accurate estimates are given in [3]:

“…we shall neglect the effect of the gravitational potential energy of de Sitter space on the Boltzmann brain, which requires that the Boltzmann brain be small compared to the de Sitter horizon”.

The Boltzmann Brain Community objected the LIZA approach: they insisted that the question should be sent in German because most probably Boltzmann did not understand English. Another concern that the BBC expressed: should the Boltzmann Brain be considered not intelligent if he simply does not want to answer.

Meanwhile, one of journalists penetrated to the LIZA Corporation facility undercover with a mask of an anonymous astrophysicist, and later reported that the Boltzmann Brain was asked whether he sees his shadow, because it would allow to make a groundbreaking discovery of when we will finally have a spring this year and also to save the groundhoax Phil from a death penalty. Can we trust the Boltzmann Brain? As Davenport and Olum pointed out in [4],

“…it appears that vacuum Boltzmann brains have a 50% chance to be mistaken about the direction of time in the universe of which they are part”.

We will continue to report news on the Boltzmann Brain discovery in our next posts. Meanwhile, for an interested reader, we recommend to learn about Boltzmann Brains, invasion of BBs, and other intriguing stuff from a selection of papers given below.


Click on the image.

Stay tuned.


[O] “A Boltzmann Brain is a self-aware entity which arises due to random fluctuations out of a state of chaos.” (Wikipedia)

[1] J. Richard Gott, III, “Boltzmann Brains – I’d Rather See Than Be One’’, arXiv:0802.0233 [gr-qc]

[2] R. Bousso and B. Freivogel, “A paradox in the global description of the multiverse”, JHEP 0706:018, 2007; arXiv:hep-th/0610132

[3] Andrea De Simone, Alan H. Guth, Andrei Linde, “Boltzmann brains and the scale-factor cutoff measure of the multiverse”, PRD 82:063520, 2010; arXiv:0808.3778 [hep-th]

[4] Matthew Davenport and Ken D. Olum, “Are there Boltzmann brains in the vacuum?”, arXiv:1008.0808 [hep-th]

[5] Andrei Linde, “Sinks in the Landscape, Boltzmann Brains, and the Cosmological Constant Problem”, JCAP 0701:022, 2007; arXiv:hep-th/0611043

[6] Alexander Vilenkin, “Freak observers and the measure of the multiverse”, JHEP 0701:092, 2007; arXiv:hep-th/0611271

[7] S. Carlip, “Transient Observers and Variable Constants or Repelling the Invasion of the Boltzmann’s Brains”, JCAP 0706:001, 2007; arXiv:hep-th/0703115

[8] Raphael Bousso, Ben Freivogel and I-Seng Yang, “Properties of the scale factor measure”, PRD 79:063513, 2009; arXiv:0808.3770 [hep-th]

[9] Andrei Linde, Vitaly Vanchurin, and Sergei Winitzki, “Stationary Measure in the Multiverse”, JCAP 0901:031, 2009; arXiv:0812.0005 [hep-th]

[10] Don N. Page, “Is Our Universe Decaying at an Astronomical Rate?”, PLB 669 (2008) 197-200; arXiv:hep-th/0612137

[11] Don N. Page, “Return of the Boltzmann Brains”, PRD 78:063536, 2008; arXiv:hep-th/0611158

[12] Raphael Bousso, Ben Freivogel and I-Seng Yang, “Boltzmann babies in the proper time measure”, PRD 77:103514, 2006; arXiv:0712.3324 [hep-th]

[13] Ben Freivogel, Matthew Lippert, “Evidence for a bound on the lifetime of de Sitter space”, JHEP 0812:096, 2008; arXiv:0807.1104 [hep-th]

About Natalia Kiriushcheva

I am a theoretical and computational physicist.
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2 Responses to Boltzmann Brain Discovery !

  1. Now, when GW have been experimentally reported, what is the next big thing left? Is it dark matter?

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