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Our Universe Is A Closed Electron In A Far Grander Universe We Can Never See?

  1. Oct 16, 2006 #1
    From Carl Sagan's Cosmos;


    [QUOTE]If the cosmos is closed...there's a strange, haunting, evocative possibility...one of the most exquisite conjectures in science and religion. It's entirely undemonstrated...it may never be proved, but it's stirring. Our entire universe, to the farthest galaxy, we are told...is no more than a closed electron...in a far grander universe we can never see. That universe is only an elementry particle...in another still greater universe and so on forever. Also, every electron in our universe, it is claimed...is an entire miniature cosmos...containing galaxies and stars and life, and electrons. Everyone of those electrons contains a still smaller universe...an infinite regression up and down.[/QUOTE]

    Another similar philosophical saying;

    [QUOTE]There is an idea--strange, haunting, evocative- one of the most exquisite conjectures in science or religion. It is entirely undemonstrated; it may never be proved. But it stirs the blood. There is, we are told, an infinite hierarchy of universes, so that an elementary particle, such as an electron, in our universe would, if penetrated, reveal itself to be an entire closed universe. Within it, organized into the local equivalent of galaxies and smaller structures, are an immense number of other, much tinier elementary particles, which are themselves universe at the next level, and so on forever- an infinite downward regression, universes within universes, endlessly. And upward as well. Our familiar universe of galaxies and stars, planets, and people, would be a single elementary particle in the next universe up, the first step of another infinite regress.[/QUOTE]

    It is an interesting conjecture, but obviously cannot be proved. If our universe is apart of a multiverse, there is no reason to claim that the multiverse isn't apart of some greater multiverse, and so on forever. And who knows, perhaps elementery particles can become infinitely small (correct me if this has been proven wrong). So in a way the closed electron universe conjecture isn't all that different in essence. An infinite regression up and down is what they both (this conjecture and M-Theory) share. Both also have an equal amount of physical evidence (unless you consider mathematics as physical evidence ;)).

    BTW though, why does it have to be a closed electron as opposed to a closed proton or closed neutron? Is there some universe manifesting property suspected in electrons?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2006 #2
    I do believe the technical term for that is "turtles all the way down". It is way to answer a question with a non-answer. And in this case, it is also total hogwash. Do search the internet on serious and considered answers to your musings.
  4. Oct 16, 2006 #3
    Speaking of non-answers, what have you done address his question?
  5. Oct 16, 2006 #4
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  6. Oct 17, 2006 #5


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    Sagan always did have a propensity for allegory [a trait common to writers of popular science articles and books]. This is all I interpret this to be. The known properties of electrons [as we know them] are not similar to the known properties of our universe. The comparison does, however, give an intuitive feel for the implications of an infinite mulitverse. In this scenario, our universe would indeed appear to be as insignificant as an electron to an observer riding a much larger turtle. But, I think, the multiverse proposition has no scientific utility. It appears impossible for us to observe any other turtles [a horizon thing].
  7. Mar 4, 2011 #6
    Interesting. this is a thought I was stricken with as a child.

    Standing in the woods in the Pacific Northwest, under a full moon, 7 years old. Seeing the full moon so clearly for the first time was my first perception of where I was really , which was .." somewhere in space " . It was the first time I was instilled with awe , and was an immediate mental foray into " how big/ how small ? " , which gave way to the multiverse idea ~ that infinity extends not only towards the microscopic, but to the macro as well. This I think that by intuitive thinking , it naturally leads to the logic of " It must be in something " Perhaps the same logic that says you can always draw a larger circle around a previously smaller one, and conversly, can theoretically tend to infinitly smaller subsets too, at least as far as I understand.

    I would almost be willing to posit that this idea is an intuitive one in human thinking throughout history and perhaps on rests on the fact that the idea of a " universe inside a universe " is recursive in nature :


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recursion_(computer_science [Broken])

    And recursion literally is infinity, nature itself is recursive.

    I realize that it's been said that some questions are pointless to ask, but how can a question not have an answer ?

    That's just plain 'ol silly.

    From what I understand, there is a " horizon of last scattering " of light that we can " see " to in the universe. And no further. So not only are we limited in that respect, we don't even have any way to measure the universe against anything larger, that is a consequence of the fundamental constants as we know them so far.

    It's not a false statement then to say that there is a possibility the universe may be much larger, or much smaller in relation to things we cannot see.

    And since the perception of time is relative ( correct me if I'm wrong ), we cannot prove that if our universe were inside of a larger set of multiverses, that the entire existance of our universe was not occuring in a yoctosecond in a much much larger universe several unversal magnitudes in size larger ( is there even a term to talk about the idea in science ? ), idk,..perhaps something completely insane to even think about.

    Graham's number^137 larger than this one or something crazy like that :eek:( for lack of better description to convey the idea) I mean,.... If our universe is estimated to be some 900 million light years across according to the below link that shows the scale of things relative to each other in a progression from the Planck scale to 900m yrs, and this perhaps is an incredibly small area in just another larger universe...


    Well,.. that's what I thought when I was a kid. It's a fascinating idea, I'm sure many say it's pointless to ponder, but can have a thought really have no gravitas ? It definitely can make me reconsider what I think to absolute, for it seems the name of the game in science is " be prepared to change. "

    * thinks to self....." I wonder if my babbling will get removed..? "*:shy:
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  8. Mar 4, 2011 #7


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    Because a proton and a neutron are not elementary particles, but are made up of quarks.
  9. Mar 5, 2011 #8
    I think the idea that the universe is fractal is quite plausible. One way to look at mathematical constructions is they are possible universes -- that somehow our brains have an ability to imagine the larger multiverse through mathematics. This would explain how so many purely mathematical ideas turn out to be essential to understanding physics. Since we can imagine fractals mathematically, they may turn out to be physically meaningful in modeling the universe. This is of course just speculation, but as far as I know there is no evidence to disprove the idea of a fractal universe.

    I'm reminded of a quote by V.I. Arnold: "Mathematics is a part of physics. Physics is an experimental science, a part of natural science. Mathematics is the part of physics where experiments are cheap." Now that theoretical physics has reached scales where experiments are very difficult, we may have to get used to the idea that mathematical speculation is valid science. String theory/multiverse theory is running into this problem right now; it's almost like theoretical physics and cosmology is becoming a new kind of theology!
  10. Mar 5, 2011 #9
    So, when the scientists at Fermilab, or the LHC, smash particles together, they may in fact be smashing universes together, and destroying untold billions of life forms.

    Let's hope our universe isn't next in the queue at a particle accelerator in some higher universe! :eek:

  11. Mar 5, 2011 #10
    I hope you are right about that, but if were true we might have a few billion or so years till it happens. They're moving reeeeeeeeaaalllyyy sllllooooooooowwwwwwwwlllyyyyyy.

  12. Mar 5, 2011 #11
    Or, perhaps we are already in the accelerator, and moving toward our impending doom.

    That could explain Global Warming. :wink:

  13. Mar 5, 2011 #12
    I've always considered if our universe was similar to an expanding galaxy on steroids that exists among a larger system. Would we likely see light from other universes? if far away enough I would guess not.
  14. Mar 8, 2011 #13
    Well our observable universe is cut off from the multiverse by the particle horizon. With typical definitions of universe, no that wouldn't be logically possible. Also, you should consider that dark energy is causing space to expand faster than the speed of light.
  15. Apr 11, 2011 #14
    Talking about the universe is like talking about the future. Both are probabilistic and have no provable objective reality.
  16. Apr 12, 2011 #15
    It can be disproved if you make certain assumptions. There are thermodynamic and quantum reasons why electrons are believed to be point particles, and because of those reasons if the universe is part of some larger structure, those larger structures can't behave like electrons in our universe.

    If you have a christmas present, you can tell if something is in it by hitting it and seeing if it rattles. We hit electrons, they don't rattle.

    Also there is a cool trick that shows that subatomic particles are exactly identical.

    If you have two coins that are different and you flip them, there is a 50% chance that you will see them in Heads-Tails, since there are four possibilities. HH, HT, TH, TT. If you have two coins that are exactly identical, there is a 33% change that you will see them in HT, since the three possibilities are HH, HT, TT.

    Electrons as far as we know are point particles. Which means that they have no internal structure, if they did have internal structure then a lot of quantum mechanics would be wrong. Now quantum mechanics could be wrong, but we have no reason right now to think that it is.

    Because protons and neutrons are not point particles. If you hit a proton, it will rattle.

    One other way of thinking about it is that if you throw a beanbag against the wall it will behave in a different way than if you throw a steel ball. The bits inside the beanbag will absorb some of the energy when you toss it against the wall. You see this with protons and neutrons which tells us that they are made of smaller items. You don't see this with electrons.
  17. Apr 12, 2011 #16
    Have you actually done this experiment? I think you will find that for different coins p(HH)=1/4, p(HT)=1/4, p(TH)=1/4, and p(TT)=1/4. In the second case, where the two coins are identical, p(HH)=1/4, p(HT)=1/2, and p(TT)=1/4. That is, HH,HT,TT do not each have p=1/3.
  18. Apr 12, 2011 #17
    You can do the experiment with particles and you end up with p=1/3. There are a lot of things that happen that depend on this. Superconductivity for example.

    The issue here is that you can "mark" a coin. You can't "mark" an electron or photon, and when you have groups of electrons or photons, the probabilities will work in a way that the odds of getting HH, HT, and TT are actually 1/3.

    So electrons are not coins.

    (I'm simplifying the discussion a lot, since I know about symmetry and anti-symmetry, but it's a sketch of an argument.)

    One thing that is important here is that physics is not philosophy. If you come up with a cool idea, your job as a physicist is to think through the consequences of that idea, and you'll often find some reason why that idea won't work. If electrons had internal structure than there are experiments that you can do to detect that internal structure. If those experiment detect no structure, then you can come up with original reasons why those experiments didn't detect anything, but that involves you changing your theory.
  19. Apr 13, 2011 #18
    You are right, of course. I was simply making the point that Bose-Einstein statistics do not apply to coins.
  20. Apr 21, 2011 #19
    Was just reading up on Dirac's large numbers hypothesis(LNH) and found this out:

    " LNH was Dirac's personal response to a set of large number 'coincidences' that had intrigued other theorists at about the same time. The 'coincidences' began with Hermann Weyl who speculated that the observed radius of the universe might also be the hypothetical radius of a particle whose energy is equal to the gravitational self-energy of the electron "

    http://danpritchard.com/wiki/Dirac_large_numbers_hypothesis [Broken]
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  21. Jul 21, 2011 #20
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