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Big Bang theory 5 (final)

  1. Mar 16, 2004 #1
    10) How can Physicists propose a Theory of Everything without considering more closely the state of nothing from which energy was created?

    A second impasse faced by cosmological theory - insofar as it attempts to explain the origin of matter – is when describing the circumstances under which the big bang occurred. Standard theory says that within 1-30 seconds of time’s beginning, the universe inflated from nothing at all into a sphere the size of a grapefruit. It coyly says that the initial push for this inflation was provided by the processes in which a single force of nature split into the four forces that exist today. Even more coyly it says that although there is still debate about the details of how inflation operated (a reaction to an action is not yet a considered option), cosmologists are confident that they understand everything that has happened subsequently. In this cheerful manner do they abandon the search for the cause of matter, and turn instead to examining its effects. It is like knocking on a door and running away before someone opens it.
    But running away is not an act of mischief. It is because in their work, physicists are obliged to ignore what cannot be observed or measured. If the big bang occurred from a state of nothing (not even space), a physicist faces an impossible task to describe the source of its energy. A similar dilemma applies to discussion of black holes and dark matter (although confirmation or denial will probably be reached via standard physics). Yet the understanding of a state of nothing should not be beyond the reach of human beings. We are already aware that not all in nature is of particle composition. While the physicist might regard the immaterial as insignificant, others consider it is a prime requisite to comprehensive understanding. This is not to question the personal intellectual level of the physicist, for physics is of necessity the study of matter. But some are aiming at a Theory of Everything. If that means a theory of all that is, they must be on a losing horse because matter appeared from nothing: The only truly free lunch that theorists delight in mentioning.

    Physics is therefore at a crossroads. If it is not prepared (or able) to enquire about unobservable attributes of the universe, it must declare itself not qualified to search for the origin of matter, and must continue instead with describing the nuts and bolts of the universe, and continue looking for ways of adapting existing matter for new applications. A Theory of Everything would be out of the question, because it would not include what caused the universe to exist. This would be a sad situation. Monkeys finding fresh bananas on the ground one morning might happily examine and eat them without wondering from whence they came. Human beings finding themselves in the universe must wonder how it (and they) got there. Burying the mind in the measured sands of certainty can make a monkey out of a human being.

    But the big bang did not occur from a condition of nothing at all. Reference to a state of absolute nothingness is possibly a statement of absolute nonsense. The big bang detonated from a condition of nothing physical at all: From a state of potential. For the bang to have occurred, there must have been potential for it to do so. We are preoccupied with matter, but aware that matter is not all there is. Nature itself is not of physical composition, although it controls all phenomena. Maths is not physical, but it can be used to describe those things that are. In all cases of nothing - especially of nothing physical - there is potential for something.

    The most disappointing aspect of cosmological theory, to this enquirer, is that having identified nature as the entity from which fundamental universal forces appeared, it makes no attempt to define that entity. While it is no doubt of value to examine the nuts and bolts of which the universe is made, human curiosity goes much deeper. Passengers in a train are not so much interested in the smallest components of their carriage, as they want to know from whence the train came and, more fascinating still, to where it is taking them.

    Perhaps it is time for Metaphysics to examine those aspects of the universe that Physics cannot reach. But to do it with a sense of responsibility, as the New Physics pondered by Sir John Maddox. For if we have ambitions towards occupying the universe to our full potential, it might be wise to consider more attentively the nothing out of which matter appeared.

    What in Physics is immaterial may prove to be profoundly significant in nature
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2004 #2
    I don't know about the "sad" part, but I agree with you on the rest. What many people still don't understand is that the universe is not an object, it is rather a metaphysical concept. The universe doesn't exist - it provides the ground through which objects can exist. The universe is neither an object nor a set - it is a system which is capable of accomodating objects, sets, and who knows what else. The universe cannot be observed - it can only be thought about. The universe is metaphysical by any sensible point of view.

    Our understanding of the universe will not evolve until we realize that physics is just one aspect of it, not the whole thing. Scientific cosmology is just pseudo-science.
  4. Mar 17, 2004 #3


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    Julian, I am not allergic to religion and do not wish to deprecate your essay merely on account of its spiritual (if that is the right word) motivation.

    You are a physicist (of some specialized stripe) IIRC and yet you complain about theoretical physicists because they passionately examine the bananas without asking where the bananas came from. This might be seen as specialization of labour. As a specialist, you can surely sympathize.
    If someone wants to play the bagpipes, without asking about the ultimate origins of music and musical instruments, we may as well let them do it and not complain. The main thing is do they get the notes right.

    It is not a cosmologist's job to ask about the non-physical nothing from which the universe presumably sprang. His business is to get the picture of the material universe right.

    If it came from disembodied Spirit or pure Will or Thought or something then let other people deal with that, if they have the necessary talent, poetical vision, spiritual seriousness or whatever it takes. You suggest that some requisites might be (as exemplified by Sir John Maddox?) a sense of responsibility, wisdom, and a desire for humanity to attain its full potential.

    These are not qualities that physicists have noticeably more than other people AFAIK.

    By the way you write well. You may be as well qualified as many a cosmologist to speculate and write about the non-physical nothing which you imagine as the ground of existence. Many of them do not write such a clear style of English with entertaining figures
    and such well-turned phrases as:

    "burying the mind in measured sands"

    But stylistic compliments aside, maybe you should take charge of the business of finding a spiritual content in the universe that one can meditate about-----and let the cosmologists and theoretical physicists concentrate on their job.
    Dont complain about them not doing what most of them are not suited for.

    Perhaps you agree with me that some of the language physicists use is juvenile and hyperbolic. That is a separate issue. The (half-serious at best) phrase "theory of everything" is either a kind of in-joke or it is disgusting. Calling the Higgs boson a "God particle" is even worse. Referring to the singularity at the onset of the current expansion of space a "Big Bang" is sophomoric.

    I do not think you will get anywhere trying to discipline physicists' slang any more than you can discipline teenagers in their use of language. Jazzy technical jargon is an area of free speech.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2004
  5. Apr 4, 2004 #4
    It's just a bunch of fun-loving guys groping around in the dark, giving themselves the occasoinal reason... to giggle.
  6. Jul 6, 2004 #5
    The Universe if not expanding. The redshift phenomena is indicative of the way in which emission travels through interaction with emission. The background microwave radiation is not left over from a big bang, but lis evidence that space is composed of the emission of objects.

    The measurements and mathematics paradigm has been overthrown by a new physics paradigm, that integrates science.

    See http://paradigm.blogharbor.com
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