I've been doing some plot-related research - browsing through online back issues of Wired looking for ideas, basically. I found some interesting stuff ... specifically interesting is some material about Frank J. Tipler, who's published a book called The Physics of Immortality. It's one of those books with a great, fiction-worthy, but utterly implausible-in-real-life idea; in other words, perfect for using in a science fiction novel.
Tipler's idea is that information is the fundamental building block of the universe, and that physical matter is merely an expression of that information. He suggests that at the end of the universe, assuming an implosion, life in the form of intelligent machines would come to occupy every part of the universe, and that during the collapse the amount of energy and therefore processing power would become effectively infinite.
Or at least, that's what I think he said.
Since I'm playing around with the idea of Pasquale coming into contact with runaway AI's in space, that people on Earth fear because they don't know what they might do, it would be interesting if it turns out at the end that they are in fact building a time machine - a time bridge - that would allow them to leap forward to the end of the universe, to 'meet God' - the ultimate information processor. Tipler apparently even suggests in his book (I haven't read it, only about it) that these future, god-like machine minds would be able to resurrect every creature that ever lived in what is an infinite amount of subjective time. In other words, my AI's could be attempting to construct a door into heaven, and they want Pasquale and the rest of them to come ...