Friday, November 19, 2010

Science: gut feelings...

The following started of as a quite silly BZU forum thread (that sprung from an even sillier thread), but some unusually good points raised inspired me to organise my current ideas about WTF is going on with the whole existence thing.

Discussion and debate are firmly encouraged...

Science has a pretty solid explanation for the formation of ...Galaxy, Sun, Earth...higher life forms, Man. Wherever there is dots in the last sentence there is a gap in our knowledge. 

We don't quite understand the origin of the Universe yet, although we totally get lots of stuff since then. Keep reading thread later for a theory if you interested. It's not mathsy or physics really, just a deductive thought process based on a few key observations.

We also don't understand fully how life originally evolved or whether or not it commuted here - this field of research is called Biogenesis

The theories (primordial soup, volcanic cooking, panspermia etc) are of varying accepted validity, just harder to prove cos 3.5 billion yo germs leave crap fossils. The theories may ALL be correct, it's not exclusive rights. 

But we do have a really really good picture of where life went from there through Evolutionary Biology and Molecular Biology - even if we don't quite yet know where it will go next, we know what drives it onwards.

Science has trouble with the very beginning of the Universe (Creation, Big Bang, Inflation etc) - for physicists the math often goes into weird unreachable realms at the edges, especially when you start talking about before and after. M-Theory (which to my understanding suggests that our Universe is floating about with others as a multidimensional membrane-like structure in supergravitational hyperspace) has a snap at it by trying to define an exterior frame of reference to observe it from. String theory is still stumped by it last I heard. 

Imagine nothingness.

Tricky huh. If there was no Universe then that's what there'd be instead - utter timeless emptiness, not even a void, cos there's nothing for it to be devoid of...

Time is meaningless cos matter and energy are non-existent. Nothing.

Therefore the state of play before existence itself came into being is largely meaningless, even to itself. In much the same way as you wake in the morning to find 8 hours have passed more or less instantly, an eternity of nothingness may as well be an eyeblink.

So the obvious alternative state is for something to exist. And this is where we find ourselves, sitting about in a Universe that does apparently exist and wondering WTF it's all about.

Therefore the whole point of existence seems very likely to be existence itself. Nothing more is needed, cos anything less is meaningless. That make sense?

OK so that's the why taken care of anyways. It's utterly unarguable, don't even try - it is self evident.

It is a common habit of people to look at the world as if they are apart from it, this is of course useful for observation and even true to a certain degree for an individual creature. Christians tend to view God as a discrete external presence, even though doctrines of omnipotence and omnipresence would seem to immediately refute the popular mindset.

However in the case of The Universe (or indeed GOD) your separate identity and your physical body are a bit of an illusion, and provide only your unique frame of reference as an individual human.

You are in fact a completely and utterly integrated sub-set of the Universe, and NEVER external to it. In fact if you think about it, each and every organism in existence can be seen to be the eyes and ears and tentacles and minds of the Universe (and/or GOD) itself.

In much the same way as our unobservable eternity of emptiness is meaningless, the Universe would also be kinda pointless without life.

A rock can't look at another rock or shag it to make more little horny rocks. Life therefore is maybe the best way for the Universe to know that it exists - and in so doing provide the meaning that non-existence lacks. This is therefore most likely the ultimate purpose of Life, to permit the Universe to observe itself and thus validate existence with a multitude of unique, individual, internal frames of reference - or more basically, to provide for individual life forms that can form any frame of reference at all - a rock or a cloud can't do this, only a life form can.

So it would seem that Life itself is critical to the existence of the Universe. Even moreso, based on observable phenomena, it could be utterly and intricately integrated into the actual mechanism of Existence.

Back to the Big Picture.

How can nothing turn into something. It obviously can't. 0<>1. However we ain't talking maths. "Before the Universe existed" is meaningless cos there was no such thing as time before time itself existed. And there were certainly no numbers.

We can get to that later. The obvious point to make again is that if nothing exists then that's it - nothingness is simply a non-state with no relationship whatsoever to anything that did ever exist. Just like apes didn't turn into humans - nothing didn't suddenly become The Universe, neither was it even filled by it or replaced by it.

Just like Atheism isn't a belief but the lack of one - anything outside the boundaries of The Universe effectively doesn't exist. You can't even effectively place a hypothetical observer there - he has nowhere to sit. It is NOT a Universe sized hole, that'd be a void - it is NOTHINGNESS.

Maybe the Universe as we know it began with an explosive phase shift from meaningless nothing to meaningful everything at some indeterminate point, but it's much easier to imagine that everything has always existed simply cos the only other possible state is meaningless non-existence.

The scientists among us might now interrupt and say "but they kinda know the age of the Universe, its about 17 trillion years (or something)". And I'd answer "Sure - but that's in our time frame..."

Time is relative - everybody has heard that old nutshell. I often wonder if a gnat lives the the equivalent of a rich gnatty life in its eyeblink 3 day existence. But processes at sub-atomic levels move faster still, at speeds approaching the speed of light.

In the very early Universe (like first few minutes-> hours in our frame of reference) free sub-atomic particles were the only things that existed, atoms hadn't even formed yet it was apparently too hot. It was all pretty wild and bright apparently, stuff was zinging around at near light speed all over the place. But again the times and velocities involved are relative to such as ours would have been impossible for many billions of years yet.

However anybody who has waded through all this so far should have spotted an issue...

If Life is necessary to the function and validation of the Universe as reasoned above, then it is almost inevitable that Life formed either with the Universe or occurred VERY soon afterwards.

Now I'm not saying life as we know it Jim. Not fish or plankton, not humans, not even virii and archaea. I have no idea what kinds of life would flourish in the early Universe, but if the reasoning is sound then something must have been alive somewhere for it to even get past the first few minutes. Maybe very tiny, very quick little analogs of us. Maybe beings of energy (or spirit?).

Maybe just maybe it was even God. In fact if you want a good argument to spin at a non-believer for Why God can reasonably be deduced to exist according to physics, you should maybe re-read the bits above very carefully.

The relativity thing comes into it now, gafftaped firmly to the Anthropic Principles.

After all, to any life form that existed at that (early) time, would have been suited to it. It's entire lifespan might take nano-seconds of our time, it's "planet" may have existed for a second or two. But to our alien, that was a long life and career and kids, and his planet an entire ecosphere with all the grandiosity of our own that supported his kind for billions of generations. Since I don't know a word for it, I'll call it  "Speed of Time."

I reason that the speed of time would start hitting the stratosphere as you approached the zero point - and I suggest to the physicists that approach it is all we'll ever do - it is a hard limit, beyond which is nothingness.

But as you approach that point, relative speed of time compresses approaching infinity. In this way, the Universe is actually infinite in time, just doesn't seem so to us cos our relative speed of time is so frikken slow that it seems linear when it is in fact curved - steeper (faster) in the past and ever flatter(slower) into the future. At T=0 speed of time is infinite.

So... Why does the observer have to observe at the beginning? Why can't it come in at the end?

Why can't the mere fact of an observation happening at time 6 determine that times 1-5 happened the way they did?

Good question - which is why I included the caveat that maybe life evolved shortly after, perhaps as soon as it was possible - before this there was just sub-atomic haze which itself is mostly meaningless...if there was nothing there able to observe it, that could mean that time didn't even come into being immediately...its a gray area.

Makes the head spin don't it :)

Very early in the Universe antimatter (non-baryonic) was apparently quite prevalent in addition to normal matter (our baryons). The 2 forms of stuff are opposite in fundamental ways and annihilate when they contact, creating large amounts of energy. This energy signature has been detected and measured BTW.

More recently than this Hawking postulated his own brand of radiation, created by the action of what he calls virtual particle pairs - empty space inside the Universe is never quite totally empty - it might be said to be non existent if it was. So what you get apparently, apart from the odd dust or gas particle is little particles than spontaneously pop into existence by borrowing energy from the background radiation - almost like water droplets get blown up by wind on a pond but most of them immediately fall back in.

These particles are always in +/- pairs and usually annihilate each other pretty much immediately. Sometimes, often near the event horizons of black (w)holes, they don't get a chance to. Read Hawking to know more, he's good.

To me the whole baryonic/non-baryonic annihilation event sounds supiciously like a really big ass virtual particle collision...

Maybe the initiation of the Universe was exactly that - maybe our entire Universe is the little puffy cloud of energy that was released into the void of a vastly larger Universe when a random pair of it's virtual particles collided. Or something like that anyway.

If that was true, then it stands that virtual particles in our Universe may well be tiny little pocket Universes, exploding into life at the point of annihilation and then evolving, fading and dying, all in a nanosecond of our wonderfully infinite :) 

Perhaps it's just a bigger version of the virtual particles, leaping spontaneously from a much more profound sort of void, but the micro/macro universe thing, where every single virtual particle event births a new baby Universe full of its own life forms and natural wonders is so much more appealing.

Maybe this is even the reason for the strange stretchy behaviour of relative time at really high speeds (time travels slower for you the faster you go) - it all functions to give the little guys their own time frame. In fact the virtual particles go so fast that anything outside that system would be at a relative standstill - no time and meaningless empty space is getting closer and closer to relative nothingness outside really...

Inflation/expansion is then neatly taken care of too - as are the kinds of phenomena that inspired M-Theory. What if the Universe is the result of some kind of titanic annihilating collision of two inconceivably large particles?

No wonder we can't see outside - even if we are like some kind of little pocket particle universe we may well be moving at very near light speed compared to whatever enormity we're floating in and still be vast distances from anything else... external light couldn't enter cos we are at lightspeed anyways, we'd effectively have our own event horizon.

...we can conclude that the Universe is expanding, relative to its own components, but not relative to anything else, because we cannot find anything else to measure it against.

Very neatly phrased.

Following the nested Universe idea, Our Universe would be expanding into real spacial void containing other stuff just as real as we are... however well beyond our event horizon, therefore could bear no possible physical relation to us -> doesn't exist for us -> relative nothingness.

And we already know the little guys are so quick that it's hard to catch them at all, we certainly can't see what's going on inside them. Our Universe is perhaps just the same relative to its pond, but one order of magnitude larger.

The speed of light limit and the vast timescale differences would act to prevent any interaction or information transfer between any of these universes (except perhaps gravity, which is what the supergravity people already suppose - super meaning "outside or above" in this case).

As was previously stated, you cannot have nothing and create something from that nothing. There must have been something out there before time (a measurement of fates unfolding, if you will) began. 

Exactly - which is why I don't tend to believe that utter nothingness was ever an actual "real state" - it almost can't be real. If this nested virtual particle collision model is right then it's actually not utter nothingness just relative nothingness which is apparently enough (see below). 

The linear time thing is deceiving for a start tho - we are trying to understand what went on in the first seconds of existence based on our perception of those seconds as mere seconds. If we'd have actually been there at that time, we may well have perceived those seconds as billions of years, and this would likely grow exponentially as you approach T=0. The Universe would be infinite to itself.

For those who do not believe in God, the argument is that the universe is constantly recycling itself. It starts as a "big bang," expands, stops, begins to contract, combines as a tiny little ball of compressed matter, and, once again, explodes, expands, etc., forever and ever.

This would be a "closed" Universe IIRC? Expansion slows, halts then reverses to Big Crunch when then may or may not go boom again? 

I used to like the symmetry but these days this result has long odds - given weakness of gravity, proton decay and sheer speed of expansion, I dunno if there'd be enough gravitational mass to ever cause a crunch given the distances involved.

Einsteins cosmological constant "C" (which he postulated to kinda reverse gravity to a replulsive force over distance) wouldn't work on much except big singularities once the protons start really popping...supermassive singularities might manage to vaccuum it all up eventually but it seems unlikely that our big explosion will ever actually turn itself around and spontaneously implode - that's not something you see a lot of in nature...

Using the reasoning above, the Universe would more likely be open - the little puff of gas and energy would eventually fade away, dissolving back into the void of the macro Universe (a void in it's frame of reference, but to the particle Universe it would be a largely timeless void because of the speeds involved - ie : relative nothingness.)

The other thing is that our Universe seems to be expanding faster and faster - not slowing down as it cools. This almost seems to suggest that it is expanding into some kind of vaccuum or void that is exerting a force on the matter. Otherwise how could there be acceleration unless Einsteins "C" constant actually was correct or something?

We are looking for a method by which A Universe can just spontaneously commence existing. I suggest the best place to start is to look at any other natural phenomena which features matter spontaneously appearing and see what that's all about. 

Virtual particle pairs are the only other example I can think of that seems analogous...seems uncannily so really, especially the polarised baryon V non-baryon thing.

Any outside force that is causing our stuff to accelerate outwards could almost only be external gravity leaking in - much like the supergravity people seem to conclude (or else some form of vaccuum energy I guess). And that force must be stupendously huge relative to internal gravity.

The russian doll virtual particle Universe idea above might help explain the presence of external gravity acting from a region that should be nothingness - it's only nothingness and meaningless relative to Our Universe...but it actually might contain stars and galaxies itself.

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