# The First Law of Thermodynamics VS. The Universe Created from Nothing

If the first law of thermodynamics states you can't get something from nothing then how does Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow break that law to put forward the argument that the Universe can and will create itself out of nothing due to a proposed law of gravity?

I began reading 'The Grand Design' but haven't come across any in-depth explanations on how they 'break' the first law of thermodynamics. And if anyone has read this book, could you tell me if it's entirety is their way of explaining that there's no need for God?
Hawking went in-depth about this on the program, "Did God Create the Universe", and I love Hawking but towards the end of that program I had many disagreements.

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mfb
Mentor
If the first law of thermodynamics states you can't get something from nothing
No, it states that energy is conserved in a closed system in a universe. Without universe, there is no law which can be broken.

So basically without a universe to have laws there would be no laws to break?

mfb
Mentor
Right. It does not explain why we have a universe at all, but that is a different question.

Couldn't space-time and the universe itself have been around before the Big-Bang? Because if the big-bang was the creation of everything within an existing universe all the physics and properties of matter, energy, mass, gravitation etc. should still retain the exact same properties as if the big-bang did create the universe along with space-time right? Although, even if this were true the answer to why we have a universe still eludes us I spose.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Couldn't space-time and the universe itself have been around before the Big-Bang? Because if the big-bang was the creation of everything within an existing universe all the physics and properties of matter, energy, mass, gravitation etc. should still retain the exact same properties as if the big-bang did create the universe along with space-time right? Although, even if this were true the answer to why we have a universe still eludes us I spose.
We have no idea what happened before 13.7 billion years ago. There are multiple theories proposed, all of which differ in what they explain. Some allow for the universe to exist beforehand, some say it was created by something else.

I dont know. I dont want to speculate or theorize but I truly believe the bubble of the universe existed before the Big-Bang. I imagine space as an aether of dark-fluid. The one dominating force would probably be the gravitational influence exerted from dark matter, and the dark energy that permeates the universe is a sort of 'play' on time, but instead of expansion there may be a slow rate of deflation due to the only governing force attracts the only matter present, the dark matter, which would seem to exert gravities influence on itself. (I'm not going in depth or getting technical with any of this so forgive any discrepencies lol).
These are merely, of course, simple explanations to one of any number of possibilities. I just like to imagine, and provoke creativity when on the topic of our universe.

The first law of thermodynamics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed.

However if the universe has net energy of 0, as many theories suggest, then there's no reason why it could not simply come into being for absolutely no reason at all.

Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
I dont know. I dont want to speculate or theorize but I truly believe the bubble of the universe existed before the Big-Bang. I imagine space as an aether of dark-fluid. The one dominating force would probably be the gravitational influence exerted from dark matter, and the dark energy that permeates the universe is a sort of 'play' on time, but instead of expansion there may be a slow rate of deflation due to the only governing force attracts the only matter present, the dark matter, which would seem to exert gravities influence on itself. (I'm not going in depth or getting technical with any of this so forgive any discrepencies lol).
These are merely, of course, simple explanations to one of any number of possibilities. I just like to imagine, and provoke creativity when on the topic of our universe.
This...this doesn't make any sense at all with respect to actual science.

RUTA
As I've posted elsewhere on numerous occasions -- a GR solution is a spacetime (4D) solution. You can take that solution and tell a dynamical, (3+1)D story by choosing a spatial foliation, but the (3+1)D story is not fundamental -- the 4D solution is fundamental. This is analogous to foliating Earth's surface into circles of constant "northness." You find that every location on Earth has a north story, i.e., something exists north of every point that you use to explain the existence of the point. Then you explain the existence of each circle by looking northward until you have a great mystery. What lies north of the north pole? OMG! Maybe there is another Earth attached to the north pole! There must be something north of the north pole! How else could the north pole exist? The existence of the big bang isn't a mystery anymore so than the existence of any other point of the spacetime manifold. The mystery is its singular nature.

Chronos
Gold Member
That is not unlike the mystery of the BB singularity, what can be 'north' of a singularity? It suggests a coordinate change might be in order.

RUTA
There are singularity theorems (see Chap 9, Singularities, p 211, of General Relativity, Robert M. Wald, Univ of Chicago Press, 1984) which make it clear that GR solutions applicable to cosmology lead to singularities under very general circumstances. Unlike the mathematical singularity of the Schwarzschild radius, these singularities cannot be removed by math transformations. GR genuinely breaks down for these situations. Thus, we need a new theory of physics to describe what happens at such points. Deleting the initial singularity and smoothly attaching another manifold is one way to push the problem elsewhere. Maybe conditions in the attached manifold don't lead to such singularities?

Anyway, my point has to do with the *existence* of spacetime points. Here is a nice quote:

“There is no dynamics within space-time itself: nothing ever moves therein; nothing happens; nothing changes. In particular, one does not think of particles as moving through space-time, or as following along their world-lines. Rather, particles are just in space-time, once and for all, and the world-line represents, all at once, the complete life history of the particle.” R. Geroch, General Relativity from A to B (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1978) pp. 20-21.

Thus, there is no "dynamical" explanation for the "existence" of spacetime points -- the existence of any spacetime point is as mysterious as any other. So, the mystery of "the creation of the universe" is a faux mystery associated with dynamical thinking run amok.

If the first law of thermodynamics states you can't get something from nothing then how does Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow break that law to put forward the argument that the Universe can and will create itself out of nothing due to a proposed law of gravity?
Why not? The law says that you have to drive on the right side of the road in the United States, but the laws are different in England.

The events of event zero are sufficiently different so that if you want to argue that the laws of thermodynamics don't apply there, you can. Now you might ask that if you can do that, then why can't you make up *anything* when it comes to the big bang.

*Exactly* That's why it's a hard problem.

Physical law are basic on observations. We see that energy is not created or destroyed in a vast variety of situations, which means that we can assume that it won't be in similar situations. If you have something that's something that we've never seen before, then you can argue that the rules are different.

And if anyone has read this book, could you tell me if it's entirety is their way of explaining that there's no need for God?
Hawking went in-depth about this on the program, "Did God Create the Universe", and I love Hawking but towards the end of that program I had many disagreements.
Hawking is a brilliant physicist. His ideas on the nature of God however are no better than yours or mine. One should regard Hawking's ideas on God to be the same as his ideas on French restaurants.

Actually there *is* a mystery that has to do with the conflict between GR and quantum mechanics. The unitarity principle of QM basically says that quantum information cannot be created or destroyed, and if you just bolt QM onto GR, you have a problem at the singularity with that happens.

There's nothing wrong with the "there is no north of the north pole" argument in classical GR, but it has problems when you bolt quantum mechanics to it.

RUTA
Actually there *is* a mystery that has to do with the conflict between GR and quantum mechanics. The unitarity principle of QM basically says that quantum information cannot be created or destroyed, and if you just bolt QM onto GR, you have a problem at the singularity with that happens.

There's nothing wrong with the "there is no north of the north pole" argument in classical GR, but it has problems when you bolt quantum mechanics to it.
Of course, there would be a problem with that marriage for exactly the same reason I explained above -- you're taking QM to be fundamentally a (3+1)D theory, i.e., time-evolved state for various 3D configurations. But, you can avoid this by rather taking a 4D approach to QM, e.g., path integral formalism. In a 4D approach to QM you compute amplitudes for 4D regions of the spacetime manifold (final boundary conditions are used to move out of configuration space) and view distributions commensurately. Then, again, the big bang is not 'mysterious', it's just a unique event and therefore is not empirically amenable to probabilistic study.

This...this doesn't make any sense at all with respect to actual science.
How much carbon dating have Earthlings done with rocks outside our solar system? Outside our Galaxy? Perhaps we exist in a space-time bubble created by the formation of our galaxy or star? The science of our universe relies way to heavily on information found from Earth's point of view, I'll keep an open-mind until we have additional evidence from the heavens.

Chronos