Off World

Neil de Grasse Tyson on Whether Life Could Exist as Pure Energy (video)

In this video, a fan asks Neil de Grasse Tyson what he thinks alien life might be like. Is it possible that an alien species could exist as pure energy? Tyson explores a potential drawback to energy-based life forms. Comic co-host Eugene Mirman just wants to know if you could eat them.

Mark Eichenlaub, who specializes in physics, also weighed in on this issue:

You cannot isolate pure momentum or pure charge – the idea doesn’t even make sense. It would be like asking for a poem that was made not out of words, but pure beauty, or a balloon that wasn’t made of material, but pure loftiness. (People might use the imagery of “pure beauty” metaphorically, but you cannot literally have pure beauty existing on its own.) The same is true for energy…

In short, there is no evidence that you can have consciousness without a physical matrix for it. “Electricity is the flow of electrons. Heat is matter vibrating incoherently. It all requires matter. There is no energy by itself.” Hear what Tyson has to say in the video below…


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