Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Big Bang

Science, the limits of human knowledge, atheism, and religion. Part I.

with one comment

Yes, this is the post where I explain everything. That was a joke. I explain almost everything in this post. Of course dogs are mammals, that was a joke too. OK, this is an extemporaneous post because I had a thought. And like all good bloggers, when I have  a thought, my second thought is, can I make a blog post about this thought? In this instance, the answer is yes. Because this thought is a thought that I want feedback on. Yes, gentle readers, I am using your brains to hone my thinking. Probably best not to even try and visualize that.

Moving right along, the above is an image of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field. This is an area of the sky about a tenth the diameter of the full Moon. Astronomers picked a spot with little dust or nearby stars to obscure the view. There actually aren’t too many spots like this in the sky, we really are stuck in a hazy section of a galaxy. It could be worse, though it could be a lot better. That’s the topic for a future post, but I digress. It took the Hubble nearly four months to take this image, it’s the “deepest” image ever taken, showing galaxies that existed about 13 billion years ago, just hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang. If one tries to think about the time scales in this image, or the number of stars and planets involved, it’s more or less incomprehensible. At the time of most of the galaxies in this image, Earth and the Sun itself were just atoms scattered over a vast expanse of space, or in stars yet to spew them into space in supernovas. Earth wasn’t even a twinkle in the Universe’s eye when some of these galaxies in this image existed. Our galaxy itself, the Milky Way, didn’t even exist at the time of the furthest galaxies in this image.

So it’s safe to say that this is a data rich image. Astronomers will be studying it for decades. And building instruments to peer even more closely into the Universe, the Hubble II is in the works. And this is just one photograph, albeit a very special one. I could, if I wanted to, list vast numbers of other “data collections,” for want of a better word, that will keep scientists busy for decades. There’s still data being mined out of the Moon rocks and Russian probes to Venus decades ago. In fact it would be safe to say that the data  from the majority of space probes has yet to be fully analyzed. In a lot of cases new technology makes it possible to reanalyze old data, and all the while new data is being added at an increasing rate as newer probes get ever more sophisticated. In other words, despite their ever increasing understanding of the Universe, in a very real sense astronomers are losing ground in that the amount of data to be analyzed is ever growing larger.

And this is just one human field of scientific endeavour. Granted, it may be an extreme example of this, but the same thing is most definitely happening in other fields of inquiry. Museums around the world are filled with artifacts and biological samples that have yet to be analyzed. In fact new discoveries are made regularly by studying stuff in museum drawers. In physics, every time they build a bigger collider, they get results they didn’t expect. And have to build a bigger collider to understand them. New frontiers in archaeology and paleontology open all the time. Otzi is but one dead man, and new stuff is still being learned about him and his times decades after his discovery. Heck, a single finger bone in a cave in Asia recently revealed a hitherto completely unknown human-like species.

My point here, the first one at least, is that while human and scientific understanding of the Universe is growing every day, the body of unknown knowledge is keeping pace or even growing faster. Everywhere we look in the Universe around us, there appear to be layers of complexity that never end, new discoveries always reveal new unknowns.  Or in another way of looking at it, as the body of human knowledge grows, the boundary between what we know and don’t know gets larger! In other words, there will always be stuff for scientists to investigate, at this point it is clear that Victorian conceits about science understanding everything were childishly optimistic at best. The Universe is so  complicated and so vast on so many levels that it’s safe to say that humans in the foreseeable future won’t even come close to understanding it all.

In other words, the scientific understanding of the Universe is that we will never fully understand the Universe. It’s too large, it’s too complicated, and there are very finite limits to what humans can accomplish.  The Universe is greater, older, bigger, and more complex than humans can really grasp. And to me that’s just amazing. As J.B.S. Haldane put it: “My own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” No matter how much human’s understand, there will always be new mysteries and new frontiers to explore. At least in the foreseeable future.

What does this have to do with atheism, religion, and my as yet unmentioned blog post inspiring thought? That’s part II, coming tomorrow.

Part II is here: Science, the limits of human knowledge, atheism, and religion. Part II.

(The above image was taken by NASA and is being used legally within their guidelines. NASA does not endorse Doug’s Darkworld. Hell, NASA is likely completely unaware of Doug’s Darkworld. Probably for the best, they have better things to do.)

Written by unitedcats

February 27, 2012 at 5:14 am

What is outside the Universe revisited: “There is no God” is now a scientific fact

with 42 comments

One of the side effects of trying to write thought provoking blog posts is that often they provoke a lot of thoughts, expressed in the form of comments. And unfortunately I often do not or cannot take the time to address them all properly. Hell, I could write a book on my responses to the comments to the Dyatlov Pass Incident alone, and if someone offers me a pile of money,  maybe I will. Anyhow, I digress.

So, someone left this comment on my “What is Outside the Universe” post:

“Perhaps our existence is only the thinking of another.
Perhaps our dimensions being time, space, sound, gravity, light or energy, mass and speed or rate of expansion are the only ones the Creator chooses to contemplate. On the other hand,
If you go back to the idea that existing is a reality painted on a canvas that could be a variety of shapes including a sphere in or outside a parabola and flat or undulating surface that meets itself but always our existence is someplace. bigger, smaller but where?
I think that we are in the imagination of the Grand thinker and where is He? or She or It. Are we being crapped on a stump, floating in beer or piss or in a soap bubble. Will we ever be able to see or know?”

Well, um, yes. That’s the whole point I am trying to make. 400 years ago the idea that science could explain and explore the fundamental nature of reality was laughable. 50 years ago the idea that science could understand the nature and origin of the Big Bang was science fiction. Today scientists are using scientific instruments to peer outside our universe and see what is actually going on. And amazingly enough, what they are seeing is similar to what some philosophers have been saying all long. Our entire universe is a tiny fleck of foam on a storm tossed sea that extends infinitely in all directions, a sea that has been storming forever and will be storming forever.

And this sea contains energy such that we can’t comprehend it. Our entire universe was but a tiny speck of this underlying reality, that’s how “dense” the energy is in the underlying reality “outside” our universe. And our universe is one of an infinite number of universes, in the past and it the future. (Although “past” and “future” have very little meaning outside our universe.) I’m having trouble grasping the idea of infinite myself, but it means that for every decision point in my life, there is a universe where I made a different decision. Doesn’t it? And when one looks about at all the decision points in people’s lives, that’s a lot of universes. Infinite is more than a lot though, right?

The point I am making is that our universe doesn’t appear to have been created by God, it appears to have been a natural consequence of events in the underlying reality. A reality so vast and energetic it has created and will create an infinite number of universes. And science is on the verge of proving this. And no God or other supernatural being is needed to explain any of this. I mean, if God exists, he created a reality that has infinite energy and will create all possible universes and has always been here and always will be here. Clever trick, but there’s no longer anything to explain. “Reality contains infinite energy, exists forever, and creates all possibilities” pretty much covers all possible contingencies.

It may sound mean, but claiming a God is required to explain reality and/or the Big Bang is now logically akin to saying God is required to explain the sunrise. Scientists are probing the nature of reality itself and the origin of our universe, the very same way they learned about the Earth orbiting the Sun and everything since, by logical application of the scientific method and using increasingly sophisticated scientific instruments. Some evidence for this and the existence of other universes is illustrated above. Some cosmologists have detected patterns in the CMB radiation that they claim may be “bruises” caused when our universe impacted other “nearby” universes before the Big Bang. This particular line of inquiry may may not pan out, but it’s only one of many ways scientists are now exploring the very fabric of reality.

We are at a historical junction akin to when Galileo showed the Pope that Jupiter has moons. Some people started to understand it then, that’s one of the reasons they called the Renaissance the “Age of Reason.” And we are coming to the inevitable end of the journey Galileo started with his little telescope. Humans invented God to explain things we couldn’t understand. Well, scientists have now shown that there isn’t anything left that requires a supernatural being to explain. I can’t prove there’s no God, but when someone like the esteemed commenter above says “We can never ultimately know whether we are foam in an infinite  stormy sea or bubbles in an infinite glass of beer,” no disrespect intended, but they are talking metaphysics, not cosmology or science.

As far as reality goes, the reality we live in, there is no God. That appears to be a scientific fact now, whether people like it or not.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit and Copyright: Feeny et. al.  And then of course there’s the whole situation where as soon as people came up with a hypothetical supernatural being to explain why the sun shines and the grass grows, some people realized this was a great avenue to manipulate other people, but that’s a topic for another day.)

 

 

Written by unitedcats

January 26, 2011 at 7:57 am

The Ekpyrotic Theory: Looking for God at the End of the Universe

with 15 comments

It recently dawned on me why so many religions are so threatened by a few branches of science. It’s because certain branches of science, like SETI, cosmology, evolutionary biology, and astronomy are all basically looking for God. They are looking at the origin of the Universe, and the origin of the human race, and even if they aren’t actually looking for God … this is where God is supposed to be in so many religions. Yes, at the origin of the Universe, we should find this big glowing bearded white guy on a plinth, saying “Let there be light.” Well, there might be, but him and his plinth exist in five to nine dimensional space and don’t look like anything our feeble brains can even conceive of. In any event, this is a background and conclusion post to some of my long promised posts about God and the origin of the Universe and how the Universe created itself. I skip over a lot of details here because they would make the post too long, and more importantly, if people can follow my logic here, it will be far easier to go back and clarify in future posts. Also if it turns out I have made some glaring mistake, best to find out now and correct it later, assuming it can be corrected.

Now, where were we? Nine dimensional God, right. Fortunately there are humans whose brains are nimble enough to think about five to nine dimensional space, cosmologists and mathematicians for one, not to mention nuclear physicists. And they seem to have come up with a pretty good, experimentally verifiable, logical theory about what is on the “other side,” so to speak, of the Big Bang. Things are actually pretty exciting in these rarefied realms of science now, but one wouldn’t know it from the popular press. So anyhow, there seems to be a logical and scientific origin for the Big Bang. And not only was  the Big Bang logical, it was also inevitable, it was in fact a natural consequence of the nature of reality itself. The universe we live in is only a slice of reality, a slice created by natural events in background reality. Which has always existed. In other words, if God did indeed create everything, he created a reality where the Big Bang and the creation and evolution of our Universe were natural and inevitable outcomes of the nature of reality.

In other words, if God exists, he created a reality so perfect and self sustaining, that no God is required. In other words, (yeah, will be saying that a lot as I try to understand and explain this,) if the Ekpyrotic Theory pans out … there is nowhere left for God to hide. Now of course this theory doesn’t explain everything, in fact it’s clear now that reality is so complex by definition there will be things we can’t explain, but it does explain how we got here. Reality has always been here, the Big Bang wasn’t the “‘start” of anything, it was just another event in the seething mass of five to nine dimensional quantum reality for lack of  a better name. Well, I think cosmologists call it the “bulk” but that’s both  singularly tepid, and also inaccurate. There’s incredible things going on “out there,” our universe being only one example.

Now there’s two things with the Ekpyrotic Theory that make it particularly attractive as explaining the origin for the Big Bang. For one thing it eliminates the need for a singularity as the source of the Big Bang. What’s a singularity? Um, it’s where you cram a large amount of mass, say up to a universe, into  a dimensionless point. Some trick, eh? Well, no longer needed, since the Ekpyrotic theory says the Universe started as a cosmic string, and that has dimensions. What’s a cosmic string? A topic for another post, trust me. Secondly, the Ekpyrotic Theory does away with the need for the Inflationary Epoch to explain the early hyper fast expansion of the Universe.

So the Ekpyrotic theory, to sum it all up now, not only explains the origin of the Big Bang, it makes the Big Bang Theory  an even more elegant and therefore robust theory. And this will all be tested on the Large Hadron Collider, because if one can look at the basic structure of the Universe at a fine enough scale, predictable effects from these proposed “outside the Universe” realities bleed through so to speak. This is what I meant when I said scientists were going to look for God by weighing “tiny pebbles.” Well, no, much smaller than pebbles. Tiny little bits of our reality itself hurled to speeds not seen since the Big Bang. And at this scale things should be effected by forces “outside” of reality. Well, outside of our Universe, a universe that is but a slice of a much greater vaster reality that has always been here.

No God required is my final analysis. At the very least the “Well, everything has to have a creator” argument  is demolished. Reality has always been here quietly (well, it’s probably a noisy process in a  manner of speaking) spawning universes, ours being just one of an infinite number of them. And if one still wants to believe in God, well, he was clever enough to create a reality that appears to have always existed and doesn’t require the hand of God at any point to work. God’s day of rest so to speak lasts forever. So if you see a big glowing bearded white guy sitting on a beach chair in Cabo with a drink with a tiny umbrella in it, tell him to get back to work. Pretty sure though he’ll just point to his t-shirt which has  “Not My Problem Anymore” printed on it.

(The above image may help some understand other dimensions, pictured is a hypercube or tesseract, a cube in four dimensions. A tesseract is to the cube what the cube is to the square. Notice there are eight areas bounded by six sides, eight “cubes” if you will. The one on the interior, the big exterior one that encloses them all, and the six that surround the inner core. All eight of these cubes are exactly the same size and consist of all right angles, but of course we can only draw a poor three dimensional representation of a tesseract in our reality. Oh, it’s a public domain image too. It future posts I will expand on cosmic strings, brane theory, problems with the Big Bang and other supporting elements of the above, if people are interested.)

Written by unitedcats

June 22, 2010 at 7:11 am