In a world set 10^40 years from now, or in cosmological decade 60 (a cosmological decade is a long term measure of time such that each successive increment represents a ten-fold increase in the total age of the universe), there will be no remnants of cosmological features that are familiar to us except for black holes. As such, this period of time is often referred to as the Black Hole Era. Given that this period takes place in the unfathomably distant future, it will be impossible to speculate about most things, including life. However, it might be safe to say that human life as we know it would not exist during this era, because even protons (or any baryonic particles for that matter) wont be around. Needless to say, organic compounds won't be able to form. What remains are the particles that have no intrinsic mass like photons and electrons.

The world I intend to forge from this apparent apocalyptic setting is one of cyber consciousness. I am trying to devise a means by which an entire civilization can essentially upload their consciousness to some kind of simulation system. Given that the Black Hole Era is very cold, the potential efficiency of the system would be extremely high and could possibly bring salvation to a civilization with a huge population. This is because the computational efficiency of the system would be operating at levels near the Landauer Limit, which might be roughly equivalent to simulating billions of people on 1 watt of power or less. Such efficiency will be needed, as the system will ultimately be fighting a losing battle against the entropy of the universe. Nonetheless, the time span (as well as subjective time at very cold temperatures) of the Black Hole Era will be so long that it would seem like an eternity if such a system could be constructed. This is the presumed motivation -- "eternal" salvation through simulation.

Question: Conceding that very distant events in the future are subjective, is there anything in the (current) laws of physics that explicitly contradicts a computer architecture that is made of entirely non-baryonic matter? If contradictions do exist, please comment on the feasibility of overcoming it through technology. (I hope I don't have to resort to something like a "Heisenberg Compensator")

Further Clarification

  • There is very little power available in the Black Hole Era, so the system must run on very low power, a few watts
  • 100% non-volatile systems are a plus
  • can have no baryonic matter (like protons or neutrons)
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The main problem here is that we don't know what nonbaryonic matter is. So we can't very well debate what could or could not be done using nonbaryonic (or "dark") matter. I recall a nonbaryonic, computationally-based civilization being sketched in Lucy's Blade by John Lambshead, but it was just two short chapters since the main story happens elsewhen. $\endgroup$
    – LSerni
    Jul 29, 2017 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ Since the particles you are talking about have a net nagative charge (photon 0, electron -1, neutrino 0, and the quarks would either be flying about randomly or sucked in by the black holes), there is no way I can think of which will have a stable and orderly system where information could even be representated, let alone processed. (Yeah, yeah, matter is energy is information, but how will you read, manipulate or write that?) $\endgroup$ Jul 29, 2017 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ @LSerni - I assume that (in the context of this question) nonbaryonic matter would be primary a leptonic matter. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jul 29, 2017 at 21:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The question is neat, and the world sounds amazing, and you should run with it. But there may as well be a non-baryon "ethereal" plane of existence, for all that we really know about it. Who is to say that the deep gravity wells of black holes can't harbor orbiting swarms of dark matter and energy that function as planets for non baryonic life? Wild speculation aside, maybe give spintronics a lookup, because traditional charge based electronics is a no-go, here. $\endgroup$
    – user8827
    Jul 30, 2017 at 4:03

2 Answers 2


While a long video, Issac Arthur has some interesting speculations here on far distant future civilizations "farming" black holes.

While as noted we have no idea how non baryonic matter is supposed to work or how to control or manipulate it, the black holes themselves are still usable as sources of energy, or even as immense "hard drives" with all the knowledge and information of the universe stored just on the edge of the event horizon, since information that is drawn into the black hole supposedly cannot be lost due to conservation laws. I certainly don't have anywhere near the ability to parse that argument, so it can be taken as a plot point if you want to incorporate it somehow (the information would have to be "regurgitated" in the form of Hawking Radiation, although how this would be done in any sort of controlled manner is beyond current understanding).

If this is the case, black holes can also become computers as well, which solves the conundrum of where the action in your story is actually taking place; it is all on the surface of the event horizon.

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Home sweet home......

  • $\begingroup$ I like the direction you're taking with it. Also really enjoyed that video. $\endgroup$ Jul 31, 2017 at 15:55

The basic and wholly unqualified answer to your question is "no," so long as there could exist a particle the motion of which can be used to express the intent of the designer. If, on the other hand (as @Varad Mahashabde points out), non-baryonic matter can't be controlled, then the answer changes states.

But, let's assume we don't know everything. Using a baryonic but real-world example: an optical computer is feasible, but even it must depend on electricity because you must eventually convert the light to something else to produce audio and (ironically) video. Nevertheless, the ability to do it with one form of energy (electrons) presupposes the ability to do it with another form of energy (photons) --- we just haven't come up with (e.g.) "photo-magnetism" yet.

But, if for no other reason than to give you more to think about as you develop your story, let's consider a few things.

You're talking about devising a civilization that is intentionally fighting the process of everything being sucked into black holes. The black hole era, after all, doesn't happen because everything has decayed. It happens because everthing has "come together" into black holes. It's nice to theorize that all other matter has ceased to exist, but that negates your ability to tell your story (what technology could overcome the ultimate decay of matter? None.) So, assuming we really are in the black hole era and not at the end of the universe....

1) Gravity would be an excellent source of power assuming a piezzo-like substance is created that induces the flow of electrons due to gravimetric shear in the same way piezzo-electric generators do with kinetic force.

2) And that's assuming our future society hasn't devised a way to generate useful power from Hawking Radiation, which (according to our current understanding, as I recall) must exist while black holes do. In other words, there may be vast amounts of accessible power.

3) Unless there is but one massive black hole during the black hole era, there will be areas of gravitic neutrality where minute quanities of particles --- and therefore our "object" that contains the engine supporting the society --- can exist. There may even be a "current" (like an ocean current) that these few particles, and therefore our society, slip through as they pass among the black holes.

I point all this out because while the creation of a non-baryonic computatational infrastructure is interesting, there is far more involved than the fabrication medium to ensure the survival of the whole. Coming up with the "everything else" will likely negate the need for a non-baryonic anything.

  • $\begingroup$ " It happens because everthing has "come together" into black holes." - not true. Supermassive black holes will ever hold only a fraction of universe's matter, and this fraction would only be decreasing as they would be "evaporating". $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jul 29, 2017 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Alexander, therein lies a good point that might be relevant to the OP. Will only a fraction of the universe's matter be held in black holes during the "black hole era"? According to the site he references, at that time "organized matter will remain only in the form of black holes," which is where my remark comes from. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 29, 2017 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ "organized" is the key word there. "Non-organized" matter would be outside the black holes. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jul 29, 2017 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ Forgive me for not understanding the difference? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jul 30, 2017 at 1:16
  • $\begingroup$ Matter can be either organized into some structures (from atoms to black holes) or just float free in elementary form. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jul 30, 2017 at 1:34

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