Quirks and Quarks: Before the Big Bang

By Sean Carroll | November 11, 2007 2:09 pm

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has a smart and engaging radio show, Quirks & Quarks. Yesterday’s show focused on a big question: What happened at, and before, the Big Bang? Mavens queried included Robert Brandenberger, Paul Steinhardt, Justin Khoury, and of course me (otherwise it’s somewhat less likely that I’d be blogging about it, I guess). The blurb:

The Big Bang theory of the origin of our universe is widely accepted by the physics community. The idea that our universe started out as some infinitesimally small point, which expanded out to what we see today, makes a lot of sense. Except for one small thing. That initial point, called a singularity by physicists, is a physical impossibility. According to the models we have today, the temperature of the universe at that first moment would have had to be infinite, which mathematically makes no sense. Also, the singularity doesn’t do a good job of explaining where all the matter and energy we see today in the universe came from. So, physicists are increasingly starting to look at other branches of physics to see what they can do to replace the singularity with a more reasonable proposition, one which can actually be explained by existing science.

Listen here. As we’ve talked about on this very blog, the time is right to push our understanding of the universe back before the Big Bang and ask what was really happening. Current ideas are understandably vague, but the only way to improve them is to keep exploring.

One slight clarification, to those who listen: in the interview, I give an entropy-based argument against bouncing cosmologies. That’s appropriate for the ekpyrotic universe, but not necessarily for the most recent versions of the cyclic universe. In these models, the universe never really crunches; it keeps expanding, but at some point flares back to life — particles are created without space ever contracting. Some sort of thermodynamic sleight-of-hand is still being pulled — the entropy of the whole universe rises monotonically for all of eternity, which seems a bit fishy — but the argument is somewhat different.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science and the Media
  • Nick

    Prof. Carroll,

    I would very much like to hear any speculation you might have about how science will eventually describe the big bang…

    NM

  • reader

    A real achievement would be to know definitely what was happening to the universe before nucelosynthesis.

  • Nonnormalizable

    Nice show… except for the constant stupid sound effects in the background! Gaahh!

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    If the sound effects help to make the science less intimidating and more accessible, I’m all in favor.

    Nick, some of my thoughts on that are in this post.

  • CarlN

    Oh man, as long as physicists believe that there can be anything eternal explaining existence, how can we say to religious people there is no eternal god how created the universe?

  • rgb

    I thought the presenter did a decent job, though I find the sound effects irritating as well.

    It would have been nice to clarify (in such a program) the distinction between the ‘Big Bang Theory’ as used here, and the ‘Big Bang Theory’ as a synonym for an expanding universe cosmology, where the primordial nuclei were formed at BBN. In fact when the presenter mentions, learning about Big Bang theory in school and thinking it was accepted, I would think it was mostly in this second sense.

  • John Merryman

    Sean,

    (CBC11/10)Dr. Sean Carroll, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology, isn’t convinced by either of these models. His view of the origin of the universe is that it’s the offspring of another, older universe. He believes that tiny quantum fluctuations in space-time of old universes cause the spontaneous beginning of rapid expansion, called inflation, and the birth of a new entire cosmos.

    Could expansion be due to micro quantum fluctuations, with the space created then falling into galactic black holes? That way, space expands, but the universe doesn’t. It would explain why everything is receding directly away from us, without all the problems of Inflation Theory.

    (CV4/27)Everyone knows that I have a hidden agenda here, namely the arrow of time. The thing we are trying to explain is not “why was the early universe like that?”, but rather “why was the history of universe from one end of time to the other like that?”

    We view time as going from past events to future ones, but if time exists as a dimension, then wouldn’t it be going the other direction? According to Big Bang Theory, the unit of time that is the universe, was in the future prior to the Big Bang and eventually it will be in the past, so it would seem to go from future to past. I realize this may seem incidential, but it raises the question of which is cause and which is effect, time, or the observation of it. Is time the basis of motion, or a consequence of it?

  • http://www.machineslikeus.com Norm Nason

    I recently came across a new theory by Peter Lynds, in which he describes his unique ideas about the origin of the universe. Fascinating reading; he has me convinced. The first link below is a summary of the Lynds theory (PDF). The second link is a paper titled: “Comparative Quantum Cosmology: Causality, Singularity, and Boundary Conditions,” written by four other researchers who discuss the Lynds theory in detail. The third link is Lynds’ paper itself, titled “On a finite universe with no beginning or end.”

    http://www.peterlynds.net.nz/plcs.pdf

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0710.5046

    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0612053

  • Mike

    Presumably in this discussion “big bang” means the beginning of the universe/multiverse. Perhaps it’s time to just call the beginning of the universe “the beginning of the universe,” and call the “big bang” the hot homogeneous space-like surface that serves as the initial condition for FRW cosmology. The point is these are not the same thing; the latter would be equated with reheating after inflation in the standard picture.

    I think this makes it easier to communicate with the public. Now the “big bang” is a thing that actually happened, and the big questions become when/how did it happen and what happened before. I think this phrasing more cleanly separates things we understand from things that we do not, and has an advantage of presenting the picture in a way where big bang theory does not appear like a house built on sand (I think the other phrasing can lend a layperson to think the validity of big bang theory may depend on the nature of the “big bang,” which in this phrasing depends on the beginning of the universe, which is something we might be far from understanding). Another advantage is this avoids any discussion of an initial singularity, which is not necessary and not believed by most physicists anyway.

  • chemicalscum

    I just came across this paper by Aguirre et al – “Towards observable signatures of other bubble universes”

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0704.3473

    If predictions on the existence of bubble universe effecting the CMB can be derived from eternal inflation, then we will indeed have potentially some real knowledge about ” Before the Big Bang”.

    On the other hand I am very dubious about the statistical arguments on parameter values due to the multiverse. Ultimately we are examining a sample of one, and if we have an infinite or very large finite population of universes, then we must consider the words of Spike Milligan in the Goon Show where he replied to the question “What are you doing here?” with the deeply philosophical statement “everybody’s got to be somewhere”.

  • chemicalscum

    Wow I just went to the CBC site and you can even download the show in OGG format.

  • maninalift

    Sean,

    The ill-justified view that I have generally taken about the big bang, whether bouncing or not is that the special conditions of a very small, hot universe allows a “low entropy boundary condition” or rather produces produces low entropy with high probability. This sounds ridiculous stated like that and it probably is, I have never looked at it properly: Perhaps I should play with a toy “quantum gas” model to see if there is any merit in it at all. Of course real cosmologists do not find the problem to be easy so I have little faith that my intuitive idea really works. If it does then a bouncing universe with low entropy “boundary conditions” at the narrow points makes as much sense as a big bang. Perhaps this is also one of those cases also where the vagaries of the interface between quantum and classical statistics is important. In which case there is some hope that the answer might be essentially fairly simple.

    Any illumination that you can give to someone who has spent too much time idly musing on this subject while falling asleep and none actually reading papers or doing maths would be much appreciated (I ‘ll start by reading your links).

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    I agree that the model/event distinction for meanings of the term “Big Bang” is a crucial one. I definitely made it during our conversation, but sometimes it’s hard for them to squeeze everything in.

    maninalift, why should you assume that the early universe (or any time in the universe’s history) is hot and dense? That’s one of those facts we’re trying to explain, not something given a priori. Moreover, if you take a star and squeeze it to make a black hole, it will become hot and dense, but nowhere near smooth.

  • maninalift

    I am not assuming the early universe is hot and dense.

    The stupid thing that I am saying is that somehow extreme compactness promotes correlation so that that of all of the possible solutions to your physics, the ones that are low-entropy at compact points are relatively common.

    Though I state that it is stupid, I can’t shake-off a sort of belief in it which is why I need to disillusion myself by playing with some simple model.

    If this were true though, it would not be an assumption that the early universe is dense but rather a consequence of being dense that the universe is early, since a low entropy point looks to an inhabitant of the universe like an early time.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    And what I’m asking is, why should there ever be “extreme compactness”?

    Again, what you’re getting at seems to not be empirically true: when you squeeze matter to an extremely compact state, it doesn’t smooth out. But there’s still the question of why it should ever be compact in the first place.

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  • Not Required

    “In these models, the universe never really crunches; it keeps expanding, but at some point flares back to life — particles are created without space ever contracting.”

    Which version is that? Space does contract in every version of the cyclic model that I have ever seen.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Not really. In the “Einstein frame” the universe crunches, but that’s not the frame that actually describes the motion of test particles. In the matter frame (in the versions of cyclic cosmology I’m familiar with) the universe just keeps growing, but the energy density increases.

  • John Merryman

    Sean,

    As space expands, does the speed of light increase? It would seem to me that if C doesn’t increase proportionally, it is measuring a stable dimension of space and the expansion would have to be a conventional increase in volume, but that doesn’t square with Inflation Theory. ?

  • Peter Lynds

    Dear Norm,

    Thanks. I’m glad you liked it.

    “…the time is right to push our understanding of the universe back before the Big Bang and ask what was really happening.”

    Dear Sean,

    I very much agree, although there is a “but” there which I do not think many appreciate yet, and it is related to questioning what was happening “before” the big bang, as well as to the question of whether the past is finite or infinite. The past cannot be infinite and the universe have no beginning (if so, it would be impossible for it to evolve forward, not only to where we find ourselves today, but at all). However, the universe can also not have had a beginning at some finite time in the past (if so, what caused it, and what caused that, and so on…). Both ideas result in very real contradiction. Moreover, it demonstrates that there must be something going deeply wrong with our regular ideas and assumptions about time, cause and cosmology.

    Any model that posits either a universe with a beginning at some finite time in the past, or a universe with an infinite past, cannot even potentially offer an answer to the question of the origin of the universe, as both ideas are faulty.

    Best wishes

    Peter

  • Not Required

    “In the matter frame (in the versions of cyclic cosmology I’m familiar with) the universe just keeps growing, but the energy density increases.”

    OK, right, I see what you are saying. Still, in the Steinhardt-Turok paper you linked to, they put great emphasis on the *contraction*; they argue that this is ok because they have a scalar with w > 1, which squashes all anisotropies when the universe *contracts*. So it does seem that an interpretation involving contraction is, in their eyes, an important part of the physics of their model.

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  • CarlN

    Sean, in order to make this interesting we could agree on a bet:

    I bet x dollars that in y years there will be no observations of anything before Big Bang. x could be symbolic 1USD (or a 1000 if you like) and y could be 5, 10 or 20 years for example. The bet should really go on for millions of years, but since we’re mortals then a limit must be set..

    Carls conjecture ( ;-) ) states that there will never be made any observations of anything before BB. Such speculations should therefore be shaved away by Occams razor.

    I hold that the BB represents the event when the universe started to exist (“created from” nothing). So it is impossible to observe anything “before” BB.

    Carl

  • John Merryman

    Peter Lynds,

    Any model that posits either a universe with a beginning at some finite time in the past, or a universe with an infinite past, cannot even potentially offer an answer to the question of the origin of the universe, as both ideas are faulty.

    So how do you propose to get out of that box?

    What if space is infinite and stable, otherwise the speed of light would have to fluctuate, as space expanded or contracted, but we wouldn’t be able to tell, because the speed of light would always be proportional.

    While time isn’t an actual dimension, but a property of motion, like temperature, rather then a basis for it, like space. Consider; If two atoms collide, it creates an event in time. While the atoms proceed through this event and on to others, the event goes the other way. First it is in the future, then in the past. (The motion of the earth, relative to the sun, goes through the series of events that are days and years, while these units of time go from being in the future to being in the past.)

    So which is the real direction? If time is a fundamental dimension, then physical reality proceeds along it, from past events to future ones. On the other hand, if time is a consequence of motion, then physical reality is simply energy in space and events are constantly being reordered and go from being future potential to receding into past circumstance. To the hands of the clock, the face goes counterclockwise.

    Even in the Big Bang model, the entire universe is a unit of time that goes from being in the future to being in the past. So what is more real, the energy that is present, or the units of time that pass by?

  • Peter Lynds

    Dear John,

    “So how do you propose to get out of that box?”

    Please see the links in Norn Nason’s post in this thread.

    I think time (relative interval, and that which is “represented” by a clock) definitely is just a consequence of motion and the capability for physical continuity in Nature. That is, it is not the other way around with time enabling motion and change.

    Best wishes

    Peter

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2007/11/dark-matter-issue.html Plato

    Well John there are such scientists known as SuperCosmologists and they think outside the box.

    Hmmm…. questions float around in my mind. :)

    It is about, going from a false vacuum to a true? What”Genus Figure” would explain this? A journey into the mathematical abstract with Mandelstam.

    I think reductionistic physics has pointed to the direction from this universe has undergone?

    A “relativistic condition” in the gluon plasmatic state? Of course Steinberg talks about the Granular, so to some it may not seem smooth.

    Is there not a direct link between “reductionistic physics” and the start of our universe? There is between cosmic rays and the work at Atlas.

  • Moshe

    Seems to me that a physicist’s knee-jerk reaction to “what happened before the big bang” is that this is most likely not a “good question”. It also strikes me that this is one of those ubiquitous physics-speak words that maybe is not appreciated by the general public, so maybe that is a good chance to explain that concept. Of course I am far from being fluent in the collection of answers given to that question, it may well be that the knee-jerk reaction is one of them already.

  • John Merryman

    Peter,

    If you accept that time is a consequence of motion, then the real question is how to include the entire cycle within the physical reality of the present. Heat, as radiant energy, expands out from hot bodies into space, but gravity is creating these bodies. So the cycle is of collapsing mass and expanding radiation. In this sense matter and energy constitute opposite effects and thus opposite directions of time. Consider a factory. The objective product is going from initiation to completion, but the process goes the other direction, consuming raw material and expelling finished product. Matter is the product, as it condenses out of interstellar gases, to ever larger bodies and eventually burns up, either radiating as light before it reaches the horizon line of the black hole at the core of a galaxy, or shot out the poles as a jet of plasma, if it falls in. The process is akin to a convective cycle, with galaxies as storms and CMBR as the atmospheric level of radiation, with the 2.7K cutoff as dew-point. Just as gravity causes our measure of space to contract, radiation would cause it to expand. Since there is no gravitational vortex to actually curve the path of light around, the only visible effect of this negative curvature would be red-shift. That is why the expansion mirrors a cosmological constant, not the rate associated with Big Bang Theory, so there would be no need for dark energy.
    So the measure of time is the relationship of content to context, which go in opposite directions. To the hands of the clock, the face goes counterclockwise. The sun goes east to west, as the earth rotates west to east and individual days go from future to past. Energy is constantly breaking out of old forms and creating new, as these forms go from being new to old. Just as our bodies cycle cells, the larger organism of the species is going on to new generations, as it sheds the old, while our individual lives start in the future and end up in the past. Consciousness is a function of this proceeding into the future, but thought is the structure of information receding into the past.

    Congratulations on your successes, you’ve been an inspiration of mine.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    Moshe, I think that even physicists get led astray by the difference between the prediction of classical GR and the real world. Most working cosmologists have a practiced set of explanations for why there is no such thing as “before the Big Bang,” as that’s where time and space come into existence. But the truth is, that conception comes out of classical GR, where the BB is a true singularity. But there’s no reason to believe anything that classical GR says at the singularity; the theory breaks down. In the real world, the BB might essentially be a boundary to spacetime, or there might be some perfectly well-defined spacetime that was “before” the Bang. So the properly correct answer is simply “we don’t know, but we’re thinking about it,” and I see no reason not to be honest about it.

  • Peter Lynds

    Hi John,

    “If you accept that time is a consequence of motion, then the real question is how to include the entire cycle within the physical reality of the present.

    I’m not sure if I understand what you are saying, although I would say that I do not think that the present exists either.

    Thanks for your kind words. I’m not sure about success though. I feel as though I’ve got an awfully long way to go. In relation to my cosmology model, I think a feature of this thread (or lack of it) probably gives an indication of why. Although the devil in me disagrees, I’ll bite my tongue though.

    Best wishes

    Peter

  • John Merryman

    Peter,

    The problem with any conversation is getting on the same page and when we do, it isn’t always the best one, since politics is as much a factor as reason, even in science.

    As for whether the present exists, it is only the physical that exists and it’s mostly moving about at the speed of light, so our minds think by consolidating all the input into flashes of individual thoughts. Otherwise it would just be a blur of energy. Our mind moves forward, consuming energy and the information it is recording, as the thoughts created quickly recede into the past. It is this sequencing that makes time seem like it must be a fundamental dimension.

    Another analogy for time is Complexity Theory, with chaos as future potential, order as past circumstance and the present as complex interface.

    Order for one person can be chaos for another. That is life.

    Regards,
    John

  • John Merryman

    On the relationship of reason to politics;

    Three dimensions are not an objective description of space. They are the coordinate system of the point that these three lines cross. While it takes a coordinate system to make sense of circumstance, any number of such frames can be used to define the same space. The tensions caused by this are politics. The linear sequencing of any particular frame isn’t as important to other frames, thus concern for the future and consideration of the past do not resonate across a fractured political landscape. In this case, the levels of activity and energy, i.e. temperature, are more descriptive then any linear accounting. It is only when the wave of potentialities has passed and winners and losers have been determined, with winners writing the history books, that it all gets squeezed into one frame and everything is linear and logical.

    Or, as has been said of politics in science; Change happens one funeral at a time.

  • maninalift

    Sean,

    I’m not sure I agree that we need to explain why there should be compactness. I look at the history of the universe like an electron in a box: there are your set of equations which permit a set of solutions and all solutions exist. If these equations look anything like GR then probably more of the solutions have one or more points where the size of the universe gets very small are stable. The question is, is our universe what we expect, i.e. is it typical of the all solutions to the equations that are habitable.

    Of course you have the advantage over me of knowing what you are talking about. Is it true that stationary cosmologies are rare solutions to the equations of GR and if so what is the reason that you feel we need to explain the Universe “getting small”.

    If all of the physics is reversible and the solutions are discrete then picking a history of the universe at random with equal probability and looking at the state of the history at a given time is the same as picking at random with equal probability from the set of possible states of the universe at that time. I’m just restating the second law of thermodynamics – sort of.

    Does the Anthropic principle explain everything, i.e. habitable universes are not homogeneous? I don’t think it adequately does, but I do think that it begins to.

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  • CarlN

    Another reason to throw out eternity: This is the eternal time paradox.

    Think of the time-line for something eternal. Mark off the present on the time-line as P. Mark off somewhere in the past as X. For an eternal reality (something that has always existed) it takes an infinite amount of time to reach X (by definition of eternal). Now we can push back X as far into the past as we like. No matter how far we push it back it will always take an infinite amount of time to reach X. And there is no limit to how far back we can push X. From this we can conclude that for an eternal reality the present time P will never be reached. This is the paradox.

    So anything eternal cannot exist. If something is to exist, it needs a beginning a finite time back in the past. Just like Bing Bang shows. As you all (maybe) know by now there are also other reasons why the concept of something eternal is logically impossible.

    Or am I wrong? :-)

  • Jo

    Carl,

    I think you’re right about it being impossible for the past to be infinite. But as Peter Lynds pointed out, the universe could equally also not have had a beginning at some finite time in the past. That is not to say that there was no big bang, because there almost certainly was. Rather that it couldn’t have represented a beginning.

    Jo

  • John Merryman

    How do we deal with the fact that past and future simply do not physically exist? I realize this is an intellectual conundrum, because our minds are a function of narrative, BUT this is physics, not history!!!!!! Only the physical exists and it only exists as its current state. That is a problem of physics that cannot be ignored forever. It is the elephant in the room.

  • rgb

    Sean on Nov 12th, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Not really. In the “Einstein frame” the universe crunches, but that’s not the frame that actually describes the motion of test particles. In the matter frame (in the versions of cyclic cosmology I’m familiar with) the universe just keeps growing, but the energy density increases.

    I always get confused about the Einstein Frame/Jordan Frame/Matter Frame stuff. It seems (from statements like this comment) that observables are different when computed in the two different frames, therefore the different frames are not equivalent, but there is a frame in which the calculations should be done, and doing so in the other is incorrect.

    Is this true or am I missing something? If true, which is the correct frame?Or could you please point me to a reference which discusses this issue?

  • CarlN

    Jo, either the beginning is a finite time in the past or else there is no beginning (eternal existence).

    But no beginning is not possible. No beginning of existence = No existence.

  • Jason dick

    rgb,

    Observables are frequently different when observing in different frames of reference. For a rudimentary example, if we take the reference frame of the driver of the car, the car has zero kinetic energy (since the driver is at rest with respect to the car). From the frame of a person on the side of the road, however, the car has significant kinetic energy.

  • Peter Lynds

    Dear John,

    I don’t see the lack of future or past as representing any problem. Indeed, as far as physical continuity is concerned, I think it represents something of a savoir! Of course, gr tells us that events and times are all mapped out together, neither happening in the past, present or future, and sharing equal temporal status. My cosmology model actually says the same, while also saying that what we would normally call the future can equally be called the past, and vice versa. As long as one recognises that, like instants and spatial points, space-time points do not exist either, motion can still take place (and the hands of clock rotate etc). This is a given and doesn’t require time (past, present, future, time physically existing etc). If you like, and as I said before, it is motion that enables time (the hands of a clock to rotate), rather than the other way around, and, in physics anyway, one has to forget about the past, present, future, time physically existing, flowing etc. All there is the capability for physical continuity, motion, change etc, in Nature – something which is a given if there is some matter present – and this in turn enables one to represent time (interval) with a clock. The same can be said for space and a ruler.

    Dear CarlN,

    “either the beginning is a finite time in the past or else there is no beginning (eternal existence).

    But no beginning is not possible. No beginning of existence = No existence.”

    I think you’ll find that a universe with a beginning at some finite time in the past is just as impossible as one with an infinite past. Neither can be correct. There is, however, a third option that doesn’t involve contradiction and actually resolves some other troublesome problems in the process. Recognising what it is just requires one to closely examine one’s regular assumption about cause i.e., that events are always caused by ones (that we normally would term to be) in the past. I think recognising that there really isn’t any other option and that there must be something a little bit different to what we’re used going on, also helps.

    Best wishes

    Peter

  • Carl Gordon

    Mr. LeFong:

    Things like stock market prices, miniature golf scores, post-drugged semen levels, and chronic back pain and flatulence can fluctuate naturally and may regress towards the mean and uncalled for. The logical flaw is to make predictions that expect exceptional results to continue as if they were the average, a representativeness heuristic if I ever saw one! People are most likely to take action when dissent, like morning wood, is at its peak. Then after results become more normal or less turgid, they believe that their action was the cause of the change when in fact it was not causal, wherein cohesion between objects of similar silly appearance is assumed. While often very useful in everyday life, it can also result in neglect of relevant base rates and volumes, an inability to play funk, and other errors. Another snag you may encounter involves describing some occurrence in vivid detail, even if it is an exceptional occurrence, to convince someone that it is a problem, when, throughout my garbled history, it’s been commonly identified again and again that, if the nuns of the order of Sisters of Saint Joseph are to be believed, I am the one with the “problem”. Though misleading vividness does nothing to support an argument logically, it can have a very strong psychological effect because of a cognitive forceful brainwashing called the availability heuristic. Another area that needs to be dealt with in a timely and thorough manner is several references in my late Elementary/Junior-high phase of mutational development, otherwise known as the “Parade of horribles”, originally referred to as a literal parade of people wearing comic and grotesque costumes, rather like the Philadelphia Mummers Parade or my yearly family reunion. It was a traditional feature of Fourth-of-July parades in dismal parts of the U. S. in the nineteenth century without indoor plumbing. A 1926 newspaper article about July Fourth celebrations in the White Mountains of New Hampshire notes “Old-time celebrations are to be held tomorrow at Littleton, Lancaster, Colebrook, and Conway, with all the usual features of street parades of horribles and grotesques, brass balls bands, decorated automobiles and vehicles, dance exhibitions by fire departments, basket picnics in convenient small groves, finger-sniffing contest sponsored by the local Catholic diocese, and the regional dwarf tossing semi-finals…”. And to further enlighten and confuse, in Hesse’s “Steppenwolf”, the protagonist affirms that the men of the Dark Ages (see “Living at Virginia’s house”) did not suffer more than those of the Classical Antiquity (see “Attending Catholic school in the 60’s”), and vice-versa. It is rather those who live between two times, those who do not know what to follow, that suffer the most. In this token, a man from Virginia’s house attending Catholic school, or the opposite, would undergo a gulping sadness and agony.

  • John Merryman

    Peter,

    Of course, gr tells us that events and times are all mapped out together, neither happening in the past, present or future, and sharing equal temporal status. My cosmology model actually says the same, while also saying that what we would normally call the future can equally be called the past, and vice versa. As long as one recognises that, like instants and spatial points, space-time points do not exist either, motion can still take place (and the hands of clock rotate etc). This is a given and doesn’t require time (past, present, future, time physically existing etc). If you like, and as I said before, it is motion that enables time (the hands of a clock to rotate), rather than the other way around, and, in physics anyway, one has to forget about the past, present, future, time physically existing, flowing etc. All there is the capability for physical continuity, motion, change etc, in Nature – something which is a given if there is some matter present – and this in turn enables one to represent time (interval) with a clock.

    I really do see a big problem with the concept of time where ” events and times are all mapped out together, neither happening in the past, present or future, and sharing equal temporal status.” It models time as a static dimension, when time is dynamic process. It’s like dissecting an organism to find out what makes it alive and then laying all the parts out in a line. Time is a vector because it has direction, but the point I’m trying to make, in pointing out that energy and information go in opposite directions, is that these two directions cancel out. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Thus; To the hands of the clock, the face goes counterclockwise. Therefore while it may have direction, it just doesn’t have dimension.

    If time is a property and consequence of motion, then it is similar to temperature, as they would both be methods of defining and measuring motion. Scale and vector. Even thermodynamics is a vector of a scalar activity.

    The same can be said for space and a ruler.

    I’m not really setting out to be too heretical, but I don’t see space as being entirely relative. Maybe our mapping of it is, but the territory is another matter. Consider first that gravity is described as bending space because light passing though gravity fields is distorted. Distorted compared to what? To what would otherwise be a straight line through that area. Light passing through a medium such as a glass prism is distorted, but we don’t say that space is bent because we know what the medium distorting it is. We say gravity distorts space because we really haven’t figured gravity out yet, other then it affects the relationships of matter and energy, so we model it as bent space.

    Now consider that Inflation Theory says that space itself is expanding, rather then the volume of the universe is simply increasing. What is it expanding relative to? Our most basic concept of distance in space is C, the speed of light in a vacuum. So if space is expanding, it would seem necessary that this basic ruler of distance be stretching as well, such that it would take the same amount of time/duration to cross the same proportion of space. Otherwise the speed of light is based on some other dimension of space then what is being expanded. Example; Say another galaxy is a billion lightyears away. If the universe doubles in size, is that galaxy now two billion lightyears away, or is it still only one billion years away, since our unit of measure, the lightyear, is being stretched as well? Obviously the problem here is that if our unit of measure was being stretched as well, we wouldn’t even be able to detect the expansion, since we would have nothing to compare it to. On the other hand, if C isn’t increasing, then we don’t have expanding space, we having increasing distance in stable space. To put this in context; Doppler Effect isn’t about expanding space either. It is also increasing distance in stable space. The train might be moving away down the tracks, but the tracks are not being stretched. The effect is due to this relationship of motion over distance relative to a stable measure of space.

    This throws a large monkey wrench into the Inflation Theory/Big Bang model, because all the galaxies outside our local system are redshifted so that they appear to be flying directly away from us, as if ours was the center of the universe. Thus it was proposed that it is space itself that is expanding, not just the universe in space.

    If, on the other hand, we have a negative curvature caused by radiation, being opposed to the positive curvature of gravity, this would explain redshift as a distortion of objective sight lines, as gravity distorts objective sight lines, as previously mentioned. Since it isn’t gravitational vortexes pulling matter and energy around, this wouldn’t actually curve the path of light, but cause it to redshift, as if it had to cross a greater distance then might objectively exist, like walking up the down escalator. Sort of like light climbing over a hill, as opposed to falling into a gravity well. Flat space would be if these two effects balance out. This idea first occured to me on learning that Omega must be very close to 1 for the universe to be as stable as it is. If expansion is balanced by gravity, then there is no additional expansion for the entire universe to expand, so it must be some form of cycle. Thus it can appear that all these other galaxies are flying directly away from us, because we only measure the light crossing the space, not all that falling into other gravity wells. Additionally the pressure of expansion would cause the outer bands of galaxies to spin faster, explaining the reason ascribed to dark matter.

    One of your early observations about dimensions not being completely dimensionless, i.e. a point/line/plane cannot have a zero dimension, was very influential to my ideas about space, though I might describe it as a virtual dimension. The point is that they are still a point of reference and not zero. Zero in geometry isn’t the dimensionless point, but the absence of any point, with the potential for all points. In other words, empty space as the absolute. Both everything and nothing, complete neutrality. Flat line down the middle, as well as balance between the two sides. The vacuum that fluctuates.

    To tie this back to the discussion of time, if time isn’t actually a dimension, then arguing whether it has a beginning or end is about as meaningless as arguing how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The only point of relevance would be whether motion has cause. The most basic statement made on this is that the vacuum fluctuates. Space and energy are inseparable.

    Fortunately this is advocation, not vocation, or I would be out of work. The only one with the fortitude to actually address these issues I’ve raised on various threads in this forum over the last few weeks has been Jason dick and while he has admitted I may have a point, at least that there are potentially two directions of time, his rebuttal has been that unless I can express it in the mathematical formulae by which time is currently described, any point I might have is meaningless. To which I’ve pointed out that math, like any language, is a model, not an ideal. It is not an argument against what I said, but a retreat into formula. It’s about like saying belief isn’t really religion unless the Mass is in Latin. I can understand the lack of reaction though. The discipline of Physics requires an overwhelming amount of study of a system that is implicitly or explicitly based on the modeling of time as a dimension, so saying it isn’t is like loading a mac program in a PC. Does not compute.

    Regards,

    John

  • rgb

    Observables are frequently different when observing in different frames of reference. For a rudimentary example, if we take the reference frame of the driver of the car, the car has zero kinetic energy (since the driver is at rest with respect to the car). From the frame of a person on the side of the road, however, the car has significant kinetic energy.

    Sure, but then there is a clear way of the observer physically going from one frame to another. These have to do with a physically different state of the observer. In your rudimentary example, you would tell me to get into a car of speed v wrt to the standing man to see the zero velocity (and hence KE).

    Going from the Einstein to Jordan frame involves a conformal transformation and redefinitions of a scalar field. This seems like a more mathematical transformation somewhat like a use of a different coordinate system. In that case all observables must be independent of these frames.

    Perhaps, you are saying that there is a physical way in which an observer can go from one of these frames to another. If so, I would like to know how. That would perfectly answer my question.

    Thanks.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/sean/ Sean

    rgb, the difference between the frames is (as you seem to know) just a change of field variables. Morally, it’s not much different from a change of coordinates. In particular, any true “observable” won’t depend on the frame. But “size of the universe” (or really “scale factor”) is not an observable; something like “frequency of a photon in the observer’s frame” is. That can be calculated equally well in either frame, of course. In the Jordan frame it’s just a matter of solving the geodesic equation for the photon, so it’s tempting to think of that frame as “what observers really measure.” But you could also do it in the Einstein frame, where your description would involve a direct interaction between the photon and the scalar field.

  • CarlN

    Hi Peter, I think that a reality where time reverses on regular basis actually is an eternal existence. It has always “been there”. Now, why should there be something like this instead of nothing? Also, it seems that our universe will just keep expanding, and there will never be a “reversed time” state.

    You wrote earlier:
    “However, the universe can also not have had a beginning at some finite time in the past (if so, what caused it, and what caused that, and so on…). Both ideas result in very real contradiction. ”

    I believe there is no contradiction here. What is needed is an explanation for how something exists rather than nothing. And the explanation cannot involve anything but nothing!

    Nothingness takes precedence over existence. Nothingness does not need an explanation or a cause. Existence on the other hand, needs any explanation, but cannot be explained by something that exists. Trying to do so is circular logic. The explanation for existence cannot involve anything that exist. So existence has to come from nothing.

    But that is easy to understand:

    1. “When” nothing exists there are no hinders for something to start to exist. Any such hinders don’t exist “when” nothing exists.

    2. There are no conditions the need to be fulfilled for something to start to exist
    “when” nothing exist. Any such conditions don’t exist “when” nothing exists.

    3. No causation is needed for something to start to exist “when” nothing exits. Such need for causation does not exist “when” nothing exists.

    So creation from nothing is actually logical. And when something starts to exist, it also has a beginning (a big bang). And naturally there is no time that “runs” before the big bang. Time (in this universe)

    started only to run at the big bang. So we have naturally a finite beginning.

    This goes on further. One can for example argue that only self-consistent “things” can start to exist “from” nothing, so that its existence does not in any way contradict itself. So no wonder the laws of physics looks like mathematics. The math keeps the universe self-consistent.

    Sorry for the bad English!

    Regards,

    Carl

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2005/01/induction-and-deduction.html Plato

    CarlN: But no beginning is not possible. No beginning of existence = No existence.

    Peter Lynds: Recognising what it is just requires one to closely examine one’s regular assumption about cause i.e., that events are always caused by ones (that we normally would term to be) in the past.

    Unfortunately I can never agree with Carl’s logic. Mine, “may be” a contradiction.

    But here”s the thing that sets the thought pattern for me about how we reduce our thinking and invite the greater potential of probability becoming into any discussion.

    Namagiri, the consort of the lion god Narasimha. Ramanujan believed that he existed to serve as Namagiri´s champion – Hindu Goddess of creativity. In real life Ramanujan told people that Namagiri visited him in his dreams and wrote equations on his tongue.

    At first appearance of the ridicules would be the problem of the subconscious mind to introduce such outlandish circumstance to the objective mind to consider?

    Based under this process is a mathematical pattern?

    Now how could such “reductionistic features” produce such a probability in this situation.

    By ‘dilating’ and ‘expanding’ the scope of our attention we not only discover that ‘form is emptiness’ (the donut has a hole), but also that ‘emptiness is form’ (objects precipitate out of the larger ‘space’) – to use Buddhist terminology. The emptiness that we arrive at by narrowing our focus on the innermost is identical to the emptiness that we arrive at by expanding our focus to the outermost. The ‘infinitely large’ is identical to the ‘infinitesimally small’.The Structure of Consciousness John Fudjack – September, 1999

    This loop is inherent not only in the universe, but with our connection with reality? A Inductive/deductive approach. While this is a philosophical position, it is one that is necessary in providing that third option and enclosing the apparent contradiction with connectivity.

    Our attempt to justify our beliefs logically by giving reasons results in the “regress of reasons.” Since any reason can be further challenged, the regress of reasons threatens to be an infinite regress. However, since this is impossible, there must be reasons for which there do not need to be further reasons: reasons which do not need to be proven. By definition, these are “first principles.” The “Problem of First Principles” arises when we ask Why such reasons would not need to be proven. Aristotle’s answer was that first principles do not need to be proven because they are self-evident, i.e. they are known to be true simply by understanding them.

    Such acceptance of all things “already existing” allowed for the the provisions of Veneziano and others to introduce the a prior connection to our universe. It set the stage for further perceptions to be introduced? Also, verification.

    Does anyone see anything wrong with this position?

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2005/01/induction-and-deduction.html Plato

    John Merryman:

    To which I’ve pointed out that math, like any language, is a model, not an ideal. It is not an argument against what I said, but a retreat into formula.

    While this is has been my difficulty, I introduced a basis to the previous argument that is geometrically based. While it may have seemed “philosophical” it actually has some basis to it that one can retreat too, to see the ultimate form being expressed not only in our universe, but within the scope of our connection with reality.

    So on that point you are wrong in my view and Jason Dick is right.

  • John Merryman

    Plato,

    it actually has some basis to it that one can retreat too, to see the ultimate form being expressed not only in our universe, but within the scope of our connection with reality.

    I can see what you are getting at, that the whole is contained in the parts, but my problem is that trying to give form to function, which is what describing time as a static dimension does, is flawed. Think of it this way; Space is noun, time is verb. One is, the other does. It’s not like physics doesn’t understand this, consider the uncertainty principle, that you can’t measure both position and momentum. In more colloquial terms, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Trying to describe what is inherently dynamic as static misses the reality entirely. Is it any wonder that physics is trying to explain reality in terms of other dimensions and universes? It is science fiction. Psychedelic physics. Back in ’98, when Perlmutter and company found out that expansion didn’t match Big Bang Theory, there was no hint of reviewing the theory! Even though it did match a cosmological constant, the only possible explanation the cosmology establishment was willing to consider was that 70% of the universe is dark energy. Sometimes, there really are no weapons of mass destruction. Sometimes it’s the theory that’s wrong, not the evidence.

  • John Merryman

    A thought on other dimensions, universes, intersecting branes, etc. Has the physics profession considered the law of unintended consequences here? Can they propose these dimensions as anything more then the copyrighted product of their own imagination and not loose control over the idea? Why wouldn’t life inhabit these dimensions and interact with our own ? What a brilliant way to explain aliens and ghosts! We die, we just go to another dimension! UFOs? I guess they just fell out of that other brane we ran into last week.

    Don’t knock the supernatural without looking through that door you are opening. No telling what’s on the other side.

  • rgb

    Sean,

    rgb, the difference between the frames is (as you seem to know) just a change of field variables. Morally, it’s not much different from a change of coordinates. In particular, any true “observable” won’t depend on the frame. But “size of the universe” (or really “scale factor”) is not an observable; something like “frequency of a photon in the observer’s frame” is. That can be calculated equally well in either frame, of course. In the Jordan frame it’s just a matter of solving the geodesic equation for the photon, so it’s tempting to think of that frame as “what observers really measure.” But you could also do it in the Einstein frame, where your description would involve a direct interaction between the photon and the scalar field.

    While a is obviously not an observable, I was thinking (mistakenly) that the Hubble parameters is, or at least directly related to observables. I am guessing that I am going wrong because I am trying to extrapolate intuition based on FRW cosmology, where light rays follow geodesics. But, as you point out, the description in the Jordan frame would be more complicated, probably leading to all directly measurable quantities being the same. Thanks for helping me out.

  • Peter Lynds

    Dear John,

    “I really do see a big problem with the concept of time where ” events and times are all mapped out together, neither happening in the past, present or future, and sharing equal temporal status.” It models time as a static dimension, when time is dynamic process.”

    I get the feeling that you possibly didn’t understand what I said. Perhaps it got lost in the translation.

    Dear Carln,

    “I think that a reality where time reverses on regular basis actually is an eternal existence. It has always “been there”.”

    If you think about time in the regular way, making a distinction between past and future, yes, the universe is eternal. However, if one considers what is actually happening in respect to time in the model, it is finite (though without boundaries). A good way to think about it is to think of a clock, with the whole evolution of the universe from big bang to big crunch taking just 12 hours. Although the hands of the clock will continue to rotate indefinitely, it is the very same 12 hour interval that plays over, not a later one. There are no past or future cycles of the universe. It is one and the same.

    “I believe there is no contradiction here. What is needed is an explanation for how something exists rather than nothing.”

    You didn’t say why. In relation to why something exists rather than nothing, that is an entirely different question and the only one to do with the physical universe that I feel science is unable to offer an answer for.

    Best wishes

    Peter

  • John Merryman

    Peter,

    I get the feeling that you possibly didn’t understand what I said. Perhaps it got lost in the translation.

    If it is close to the following description you gave Carl, I think I have a reasonable grasp of your understanding of time.

    If you think about time in the regular way, making a distinction between past and future, yes, the universe is eternal. However, if one considers what is actually happening in respect to time in the model, it is finite (though without boundaries). A good way to think about it is to think of a clock, with the whole evolution of the universe from big bang to big crunch taking just 12 hours. Although the hands of the clock will continue to rotate indefinitely, it is the very same 12 hour interval that plays over, not a later one. There are no past or future cycles of the universe. It is one and the same.

    The point I’ve been making is that time as process isn’t between a cyclical vs. linear description of time. Consider; If two atoms hit each other, it creates an event. While the atoms proceed from one event to the next, the events go from being in the future to the past. So there are effectively two directions of time. The existing reality goes from past to future events, but the information created goes from being in the future to being in the past. That is why reality, as we perceive it, goes from being present to past. To quote Newton, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” So while we, from our subjective perspective, perceive time as directional, these two effects cancel each other out, so while time has direction, two actually, it doesn’t have dimension. It is not that the cycles of the clock repeat, but that from the perspective of the hands, the face is going counterclockwise. Since the hands represent the physical reality of the present, the units of time, the hours, days, years, what we percieve as the dimensionality of time, is going from being in the future to being in the past. Since current theory is that time is a fundamental dimension, then it is assumed physical reality proceeds along it, from past events to future ones. It is this intuitive understanding that is mistaken, just as we perceive the sun going east to west, when the reality is that the earth rotates west to east.

  • CarlN

    Peter, but don’t you see the problem? Observations show that the universe is not going to time-reverse. It is just going to keep expanding (at an increasing rate). And since there can be nothing eternal, this shows there is a beginning. And the beginning can only be “from” nothing (since eternal existence is illogical).

    Anything that is not explaining “Why something rather than nothing” is not explaining anything at all, in my view. Any other explanation involves existence (at some level) to explain existence. This is of course circular logic and must be rejected.

    Logic forces us to reject anything but “nothing” for explaining existence. It is only “nothing” that does not need to be explained.

    So this all fits together. Why something rather than nothing? Because “it” comes from nothing. And “it” also gets a “finite” beginning as well, as it must.

    Regards,

    Carl

  • John Merryman

    Carl,

    If you have something from nothing, then you need its opposite to occur as well. So it’s actually something from its opposite. Otherwise something from nothing would need explanation for what it took to occur.

  • Peter Lynds

    Dear Carl,

    Yes, if the universe continues to expand indefinitely, my theory is wrong. However, I feel that there are some compelling reasons to believe that the universe will eventually collapse. Some of these are discussed in my paper, but I feel that the most compelling (and, as yet, generally least recognised) one is that an ever expanding cosmos offers no answer at all to its origin…a question which is not possibe to answer if the universe is thought to have had a beginning at some finite time in the past.

    Again, the question of existence over non-existence is a different question. I think you are confusing it with the question of the universe’s origin, to which the model says that there was (and can be) no beginning (but yet that the universe is finite).
    Moreover, that the universe (and conditions in it) can have no “causal” explanation.

    Best wishes

    Peter

  • CarlN

    Peter, the origin of the cosmos is that it was created literally from nothing in the Big Bang. Contrary to conventional wisdom creation from nothing is a logical concept.
    “When” nothing exists there is not anything that can stop that from happening.

    John, “when” nothing exists there exists no requirement why also “the opposite” should occur as well. You could argue that also an “anti-universe” also should be created, but logically there is no reason to insist on this. So we can use Occams
    razor on it if we wish.

    Regards,

    Carl

  • John Merryman

    Carl, Peter,

    The idea that originally led me off the beaten track was the observation that Omega=1. That the rate of expansion and the force of gravity are balanced. While this point has been open to question, observations from, I believe it was COBE, proved it to be fairly close, if not equal. If this is so, then the universe is ultimately flat, with regions of intergalactic expansion balanced by the gravitational vortexes of galaxies. It first occured to me that the space, as we measured it, that was being pulled into galaxies, was re-emerging as vacuum fluctuation across the open spaces inbetween. In discussing this on forums back in the ’90’s, a physicist pointed out that the logical medium for this transmission was simply light itself. He used a far more complex description, but the point was simple. He also said that when he mentioned it to an older mentor, he was advised that if he wanted a job in the field, he’d do better to find ways to support accepted theory then question it, so he dropped it.
    The fact is that politics is as important to science as anything else. I’m into this because as a child I was fifth of 6 kids and I found out early on that the ones in charge got to decide what’s right and what’s wrong, so the only way I could win anything was to understand the facts better then anyone else. It has done me few favors in life because so much of what is accepted, from politics to religion, to economics and yes, even science, is biased towards the power structure and most change occurs when it gets so out of touch with reality that it collapses. As Stephen Jay Gould described it, Punctuated Equilibrium. Catastrophism to the classicists. Revolution to the politicians. Nova to cosmologists. Chaos to everyone else. But as Complexity Theory points out, a little chaos is necessary. Now the fact is that science has quite a few brownie points under its belt, so that the larger society will continue to tolerate its junk code for a long time to come, therefore the current situation isn’t going to change anytime soon. Remember it was well over a millenium between Ptolomy proposing epi-cycles and Copernicius and Galilao refuting them. So that’s why I don’t put much personal capital, beyond the obsession factor, into this discusssion. Here is another idea on another subject that I do get a fair amount of positive feedback on, not because it’s any better than what I keep pointing out here, but because the power structure is so much closer to collapse.

    http://www.exterminatingangel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=203&Itemid=118

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2005/01/induction-and-deduction.html Plato

    Growth is bottom up, not top down, so capitalism is at its most vibrant when wealth is most evenly distributed. The problem with treating the economy like a game of Monopoly is that when one person controls everything, the game is over and you start again. In real life this stage is called revolution.

    Money is a public utility, not private property. Pass it on.

    There are ways to introduce paradigmatic changes? The last line is a important one. :)

  • http://eskesthai.blogspot.com/2007/11/self-evident-dimensional-perspective.html Plato

    More on name

    John Merryman: Can they propose these dimensions as anything more then the copyrighted product of their own imagination and not loose control over the idea?

    Tried to respond.

  • John Merryman

    Plato,

    There are ways to introduce paradigmatic changes?

    The usual method is to have the old one collapse of its own inherent weaknesses and built the new one from the bottom up, out of the lessons learned. That’s why the Bush administration has given me such a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s so nice to see the old world order collapse when you want to start a new one. Just think, if Gore or Kerry had won, the Republicans would still be in control of the house and senate. Change is bottom up, even if it’s just the foundation crumbling.

    Here is part of an essay posted on a yahoogroups that was in my maibox this morning;

    Thing is, the History of Science shows that science itself is overburdened with the social aspect, an intrigue I refer to as ‘sand box.’ One thing that keeps people in the sand box is the simple function of eating. If you don’t want to play in the sand box of those writing the checks, you don’t get to eat. Got to keep one’s self and one’s family fed, you see. As a result of this, those who will ‘buy in’ when it comes to ‘articles of faith’ are the ones who are earliest to employ, since they don’t ask embarrassing questions. As a result, you get opacities based on what one might otherwise call cloudy thinking, thinking that can usually be tracked back to one leader and a covey of followers or other hangers on.

    I think that in any of this we need to be a bit less arrogant than is usually the case in science. I know that may seem a bit odd. But look at the evidence we have. How many times have you heard someone say that in a particular case that the outcome is governed by some equation? I’d guess that you’ve heard it quite a few times. Equations never govern. It’s that simple, the things that we write down or the words we define to suit ourselves govern nothing. What our various equations do, however, is at most predict how things should come out.

  • Giannis Chantas

    Hi all,
    I just wanted to ask those people that claim that there was not time before the bing bang: how can you use the phrase ‘there was no time’ which is in simple past for a period with no time? What you do in order to say that there was no time, is to incorporate time and say ‘there was no time’. This is a contradiction. And considering that mathematics are a byproduct of the natural language (also a bit more consistent), there cannot be any mathematical model in which time has a beggining and be consistent in parallel.

    “Truth is crooked, time is a circle”
    Nietzche , Thus spoke Zarathustra

  • Layman

    I am not here as a scientist, or as someone who is well-versed (in the least) in the terms and theories that are mentioned here. I’m just a guy who, for most of his life, has been terrified by the thought of a God-less universe and all of the implications that attend it. Of course, every logical fiber of my being has forced me to conclude that there isn’t a God, there is no particular point to my existence (or to anyone’s) and that we will all suffer the same dark, lonely and horrifying fate when we die: eternal nothingness. The idea of this causes me occasional panic attacks — and leads me, from time to time, to seek out answers in forums like this.

    I am writing this response because Peter Lynds’ theory, if valid, utterly destroys the one final micropscopic shard of hope that I’ve clung to in my darkest hours all of these years — namely, the idea that there had to be something before the Big Bang to cause it to happen; that even though science could condense all of the universe into one tiny speck, it still couldn’t explain how that speck got there.

    But here’s the thing: I don’t see how his theory resolves this. It seems to me (and again, what the hell do I know?) that he is simply saying that the Big Bang itself can be explained as a consequence of the Big Crunch; that the crunch caused the bang, and that an eternal crunch/bang cycle is playing out with no start or end. To me, this just seems like a vastly more complicated version of the existing Big Bang theory; instead of one Big Bang, he says there have been an infinite number. But doesn’t the same contradiction still exist — how the “materials” (for lack of a better term, since I don’t really know any) that make up the “speck” that explodes during the Big Bang to create the universe ever got there in the first place? How was nothing created from something?

    One previous poster tried to resolve this up above, and said that making something from nothing is logical. His reasoning seemed suspect to me, but I’m basing this on an entry level Logic class I took in college (plus my own B.S. detector), not any meaningful knowledge of physics.

    Anyway, I’m not sure why I’m even writing this. It’s an old thread and I doubt it will be seen. And my instincts tell me that Peter is probably right, simply because my instincts have always told me that there must be some scientific explanation for the whole nothing-from-something contradiction that I’ve clung to. Every other reason for believing in some supernatural order that I’ve toyed with has been discredited; this has been all I’ve had left for years. But I still don’t get Peter’s theory — and I admit, I don’t really want to, either.

    It really is terrible. None of us asked to be born. And we’re all forced to die. Every bit of enjoyment along the way is just cruel — something to make you cry when you realize how alone you will be forever and ever and ever and ever.

  • Giannis

    Dear Layman,

    I think that you don’t properly grasp Lynd’s model.
    You and I are obliged to live our lives again and again in identical fashion. Without a mere change. So enjoy it! and don’t panic…
    Cheers
    Giannis

  • Ken Albertsen

    The Big Bang theory doesn’t ring true for several reasons. I’m writing a book about it, so I won’t say more, except to mention; ‘Brane Theory’ – fits a lot better.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .

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