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Thread: Has the Universe Always Existed?

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Has the Universe Always Existed?

    Has the Universe Always Existed?

    We have at the current juncture, two effective theories of the universe:

    1. Quantum physics, which is the framework underlying elementary particle physics, describing all known interactions of matter; that is, the electromagnetic, weak and strong force, together with all elementary particles. Together these particles are embedded into the standard model of all matter. The only interaction that is not described by quantum physics is the gravitational interaction.

    2. General relativity, on the other hand, is the most complete description of gravity arising from Einstein’s theory of gravitational force. But, for all its strengths, general relativity is incomplete. In at least two specific places in the universe the maths of general relativity breaks down, and fails to produce reliable results i.e. In the centers of black holes and at the beginning of the universe. These regions are usually referred to as "singularities," which are spots in space-time where the current laws of physics crumble.



    There is however now another approach that has completely rewritten our understanding of space and time. In all current theories of physics, space and time are continuous. They form a kind of smooth fabric that underlies all of reality. In such a continuous space-time, two points can be as close to each other in space as possible, and two events can occur as close in time to each other as possible.

    But another approach, called the “causal set theory”, reimagines space-time as a series of discrete chunks, or space-time "atoms." This theory would place strict limits on how close events can be in space and time, since they can't be any closer than the size of the "atom," i.e., there is a fundamental unit of space-time. It is somewhat akin to placing a microscope on your computer screen, in that you cannot get spacing smaller than one pixel.



    This has by definition, important implications for the nature of time and the beginning of time. For in this causal set philosophy, the passage of time is something physical, and should not be attributed to some emergent sort of illusion, or to something that happens inside our brains that makes us think time passes.



    The causal set approach also removes the problem of the Big Bang singularity because, in the theory, singularities can't exist. It's impossible for matter to compress down to infinitely tiny points. They can get no smaller than the size of a space-time atom.

    So, without a Big Bang singularity, what does the beginning of our universe look like?

    In the original causal set formulation and dynamics, a causal set grows from nothing into the universe we see today. Instead, with this new approach, there would be no Big Bang as a beginning, as the causal set would be infinite to the past, and so there's always something before.

    The implication is thus, that the universe may have had no beginning; that it has simply always existed. What we perceive as the Big Bang may have been just a particular moment in the evolution of this always-existing causal set, not a true beginning.

    What is so fascinating in this theory is in the rethinking of the notion of space-time itself, giving as it does a central role to time. It begs the question as to what it physically means for time to pass, how physical the past really is and whether the future exists already or not?

  2. #2
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I think I've heard that physicists do not know what time is. I have also heard that we are travelling through time at the speed of light. Well, strictly, we are travelling through space-time at the speed of light, but since we are probably not moving anywhere need light-speed, we are instead moving mostly through time. Something else I heard I thought was weird was that the universe is reckoned to be about 80,000,000,000 light-years across, so-to-speak, but the universe is only about 15,000,000,000 years old, so the universe has been expanding at faster than light-speed!

    I watched Professor Roger Penrose talk about his theory of the origin of the universe, which sounds cool. He reckons the universe eventually expands very thin, the stars burn out and cool down, black holes swallow up matter (I am not sure whether they swallow up everything, nearly everything or just a percentage). Nothing happens for unimaginable periods of time. Eventually even the black holes evaporate away via Hawking Energy. He says then that because there is no mass there is no distance and no time. Without mass, distance and time, the conditions at the end of the universe resemble the conditions at the Bing Bang, so the death of one universe is the start of another. Penrose thinks there are signals of the previous universe to our in the radiation distribution of the early universes, as it is not quite uniform. He thinks they are caused by super massive black holes in the previous universe. Something like that anyway. Other hypotheses are available.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    It seems a little strange, but I think we are at the same place as we were fifty years ago: The universe is either expanding, a steady state, or oscilating. There are different ways of describing it, and the alleged reasons have changed, but the possibilities are the same, and the support for each possibility is about the same.

    I do not think that cauaal set theory adds anything useful; although it may help explain some locat situaiton. But it makes no difference, becaause the correct description will not allow us to do aanything that we can't already do.

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    Voice of Chaos & Anarchy
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    Maybe I should have my time traveller go back to before the beginning to see what time and space were like then.

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    I think a proof that some sort of time exists is that some kind of animals seem to have a similar sort of perception of time as humans. For example, if they are fed at regular times, they will mark that time at the time of being feed.
    This discussion reminds me of the thread "Cosmology" initiated by Dreamwoven a long time ago.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Regarding time and space-time, another thing that stuck in my mind was when a speaker on the thought for the day slot on the radio morning news mentioned how Albert Einstein comforted a colleague whose mother had just died. He said she'd always be alive in her part of space-time.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Dear All

    Thanks for your input into this thread. I think it's safe to say that there is no definitive conclusion. But then why should there be as the knowledge required has such a long way to go? Reminiscent perhaps of when man knew not where the wind was coming from or where it was going. Even the flat earth theorists, speculating on what they observed in their space time.

    For myself the jury is still out. At one period I held perhaps a crude mish mash of; the cause & effect argument implicit in Quantum Physics, along with spiritual leanings I.e If every action has a direct and proportionate cause, then going backwards, there must be an initial cause. An initial Creator?

    But then the logic of this is flawed, just using the causal argument alone.

    So, what are we left with? Our physical and spiritual senses / imagination? Observations of the seasons, day/night, aging? The expanding science of astronomy & space exploration?

    My mother who died at 99 years of age once said to me, “Just think of me as if I were in the other room.” How similar to the instance mentioned by Kev67 of Einstein comforting a colleague.

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