Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘cosmology

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

Falling Forever

with 2 comments

Another wonderful image courtesy of the Hubble Telescope. This is galaxy NGC 4911, located some 320 million light years away. So that means we are seeing it as it was 320 million years ago. That was the Mississippian period on Earth, so called because the rocks from that area are exposed along the Mississippi River. Earth looked a little different then:

OK, a lot different. No grass, no flowers, no fruit, nothing but ferns and primitive such plants. There were some little lizard like things, animals were  just beginning to move onto the land. Lots of bugs and spider like critters. The first flying insects were appearing. The food chain was rather primitive though. Bugs had just barely started eating plants, and other animals hadn’t started at all. Basically bugs eating leaf litter and decayed vegetation were the bottom of the food chain, and other stuff ate them. The oceans were strange too, while there were corals and such we would recognize, crinoids were very common, and trilobites were still around. The only octopus like thing was the nautilus. Lots of fish and sharks though, in fact the sharks then looked about the same as the sharks now. When nature hits a design that works, it keeps it. Although a point to be made is that while those sharks did indeed look very similar to today’s sharks, they did and do continue to evolve, none of the shark species extent then is still around.

On the plus side, there would have been no noxious pests whatsoever. No mosquitos, ticks, parasites, wasps, or anything even remotely unpleasant on land. No plants with thorns either. Just don’t go wading or swimming and everything will be fine. I mention these idyllic facts because according to Stephen Hawking’s most recent pronouncements, time travel is possible. And yes, in layman’s terms, there are paradoxes involved. In reality, no, there aren’t. That’s because whatever happened in the past … already happened. So a person can’t go back into the past and change anything. Even if someone does go back in time and murders their grandfather, all they will do is prove their granny slept around. I know sci fi movies have really muddied people’s thinking about these sorts of things; sadly, for the most part, sci fi movies are to science what cop movies are to real police work. Time travel may be possible, changing the past isn’t. Deal with it.

I digress, the thing about the Hubble image is that NGC 4911 is falling to its doom. OK, well, maybe not its doom, but it is falling into the Coma Cluster, one of the largest assemblages of galaxies in the known Universe. See the faint clouds around it? Those are stars that are being pulled away from NGC 4911 by other nearby galaxies in the cluster. Eventually NGC 4911 will lose its spiral arms, its satellite galaxies, most of its gas, and be converted into a boring yellowish elliptical galaxy. It will no longer be the stunning sight it is now.  On the plus side, as the Universe expands, the Coma Cluster will stay together due to gravitational attraction, and even when the rest of the Universe recedes into invisibility, galaxies in the Coma Cluster will still be able to see other galaxies. Our galaxy on the other hand will appear to be sailing in an infinite endless void some 50-100 billion years from now.

The Coma Cluster has some mysteries of its own. It appears to be about 90% made of dark matter. Um, dark matter is stuff astronomers can’t see yet but can tell it’s there because of its gravitational effects on visible matter. I should blog on it sometime, if I ever understand it. This is a higher percentage of dark matter than we usually see in the Universe. And to deepen the mystery, the Coma Cluster has an X-ray source in it that no one can explain. Yes, something, something apparently larger than a galaxy, is kicking out a heck of a lot of X-rays in the Coma Cluster.

My point here, is that this is an image of a spectacular event, an entire galaxy being sucked into one of the most enormous structures in the Universe, where it will be completely transformed into an entirely new type of galaxy. And not only is this epic in scale, I mean “one of the largest structures in the Universe” is about as big as it gets, it is also epic in time. For NGC 4911 has been falling to its fate since before animals crawled out of the sea on Earth, and will still be falling after the Earth is a scorched oceanless desert some billion years from now. Quite a show.

And yet no one has even gotten around to naming NGC 4911? Yes, the Universe is so filled with wonders we can’t even count them all, let alone name them.

(The Hubble image above is more or less Public Domain and is being used, not for profit, legally: Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: K. Cook (LLNL) et al. The image of Earth as it was about 320 million years ago is a public domain image. I wrote this post because it pleased me, I may switch back to that strategy for awhile.)

Written by unitedcats

September 14, 2010 at 6:51 am

The Eridanus Void … a Cosmological Conundrum

with 3 comments

Well, the readers have spoken. Today’s post will be about a space mystery. Good thing too, Afghanistan is such a  depressing subject. And there will be lot’s of time to discuss Afghanistan, as I understand it our new mission there is “We are staying forever.” Still, took me awhile to come up with an appropriate space mystery, most of them seemed so, well, pedestrian. The Phobos Monolith = it’s a rock. Weird dunes on Titan = sometimes the wind there blows in different directions. The face on Jupiter = I just made that up.

Moving right along, the Eridanus Void. A true space mystery. Anf there’s a nice double entrendre there too, because that is exactly what the Eridanus void is, a mysterious space in space. A what now? The Eridanus Void is an area of the Universe about one billion light years across (that’s really big) that appears to contain essentially no matter. No galaxies, no stars, no dust, no nothing. It’s billions of light years from Earth though, so not an easy thing to study. The void was found a few years back when they were looking at the cosmic background radiation. There was this big spot with very little background radiation. Then they compared that to a map of the Universe’s galaxies, and lo and behold there weren’t any there.

So, a big empty spot in space? What’s the big deal? Well, the big deal is that there shouldn’t be a big empty spot in space. It would be like finding part of the Earth’s surface where there was no atmosphere, how could that be? In the chaotic creation and expansion of the Universe shouldn’t there be stuff everywhere? Yes, yes there should. So the Eridanus Void is a problem. However, if this void actually exists, and it’s not completely certain yet, it would be one of the largest structures in the Universe. So it’s an exciting problem to people who get excited about the structure of the Universe.

OK, so, what are the possibilities? The first is that it is just a statistical fluke, and doesn’t really mean anything at all. IE it only appears strange because it is surrounded by more dense areas. Sounds good to me. One of the problems with trying to understand, let alone explain, these sort of cosmological mysteries is that frankly I don’t understand them very well myself, and that is particularly the case with stuff like this. Another possibility that has been proposed is that the void is something called a cosmic texture. If I understand that correctly, a cosmic texture is a defect in space time. Such defects are apparently allowed by theory, but none has ever been observed. I’m not really sure I can or want to understand exactly what that means, but again, if there is a defect in space time, I’m glad it’s billions of light years away.

It’s also been suggested that the void is simply a giant black hole. A billion light year across black hole. Even Captain Picard would have trouble dealing with that. While there doesn’t seem to be any known way such a huge black hole could form, there’s also to known way such a huge void in the Universe could form, so it’s not a completely off the wall suggestion. If I understand this theory, the black hole would have as much mass as the rest of the Universe.  And the Universe would in fact be “orbiting” around this black hole. Again, it’s very fortunate that we are nowhere near if this is the case, because then as we speak entire galaxies are being pulled to their doom.

Lastly we come to the most interesting and exotic theory. One Dr. Laura Mersini-Houghton, a professor of theoretical physics and cosmology has claimed that the void is the result of quantum entanglement with another Universe, and is empirical proof that parallel universes exists. She sounds like one hell of a smart person, so this theory, though controversial, is apparently testable and mainstream. I can’t really explain what it means, but suffice it to say that she claims the void is a “smudge” left where our universe was in contact with another universe during the first moments of the Universe’s existence. At least I think this is what she means. Apparently if it is a remnant of contact with another universe, there should be another void on the opposite side of the sky. I’m sure scientists are looking as I type.

And that’s all that can be said. Despite all the weird implications, the core mystery is pretty simple. There’s a huge hole in space,  and cosmologists and astronomers can’t explain why. Coming next week, who knows, I’m open to suggestion. Have a great weekend everyone.

(The above image of the “cold spot” in the CMB radiation is being used leghally in accordance with it’s creator: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Image credit: Nernom at en.wikipedia Here is the best link I’ve discovered yet on the void, it’s not exactly all over the net. A giant black hole?)

Written by unitedcats

August 13, 2010 at 10:20 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