Six Cosmological Fallacies
Clark M. Thomas
(copyright November 16, 2007, etc.)
Abstract:Six cosmological fallacies are examined. The unified nature of physical forces, and the dynamics among various universes in the multiverse, are explained in deceptively simple terms.
Cosmology; Gravitation; Multiverse; 04.00.00; 04.70.Bw; 04.90.+e
Cosmology is both a precisely tantalizing science, and a game. Cosmogony, the study of the Universe’s origins, is more theology than science. We are all midgets standing on the shoulders of giants. We are looking over a celestial ocean whose distant shore shall remain forever beyond our horizon.
This essay is the product of decades of thought. If you are able to read words, and equally visualize those words, then you should have no trouble with this essay. It may be necessary to read it several times, because of all the new ideas introduced. Your reward will be an elegant view of basic forces, and a sense of the universe behind our own universe.
Here are several of my favorite Albert Einstein quotes:
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education."
"It should be possible to explain the laws of physics to a barmaid."
"It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
"Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift."
"Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."
We humans cannot go faster than the speed of light.
This idea comes from Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, and it leads to all sorts of ideas about curved space (which is now seen as virtually flat space on a universal level), and energy/mass. These ideas are either true or false, according to their relative contexts.
Why is it that hardly anybody asks why the vacuum speed of light is just so? Maybe the speed of light ("c") dwells within our daily lives so intimately that we dare not question its number. On a local level light speed is virtually instantaneous; but carried out to the limits of our visual universe light reaches us only after having traveled over 13 billion years. That is hardly instantaneous.
Light photons are energy, but they also have characteristics of mass, which means they have inertial resistance, and they respond to the effects of gravity. Therefore, when we see the equation E = mc2, we are actually seeing the outcome between the force propelling the photon from its atomic origin and the resistance of the photon to that force. This formula deserves all the fame it has achieved, because it clearly illustrates the equivalence of energy and mass. What it lacks is an explicit, rather than implicit, "time for acceleration" factor. It also fails to model our universe during the brief initial burst of inflation after the singularity, and before photons existed.
We assume that the photon escapes in zero time, but that cannot be so. For the photon to start at zero speed and accelerate to "c" in zero time, it would have to have zero mass, which violates the original equation and many subsequent observations, including the bending of light in General Relativity spacetime. Even a quantum explanation for the photon’s initial journey generates additional questions.
Implied in the photon’s initial pop is the concept of elasticity. In this view elastic photons originate like rubber bands stretching for a brief time, and then snapping away from their source. Such a movement without moving at the base, until everything moves, looks like a quantum jump.
I recommend reconfiguring E = mc2 to include time to accelerate to the terminal speed from the initial pop. Let us use T for this time, and for light that number will be 1. Therefore, the improved formula will read E = mc2 / T.
If T = 1, then the revised formula is the same as the original. However, if it takes longer to accelerate an object to light speed (T >1), then less energy per unit of time will be needed for the duration. If T <1, that means even more energy is needed to reach light’s terminal velocity.
With this understanding certain problems in physics are clarified. For one, it is known that massive particle accelerators can only accelerate subatomic particles to speeds approaching light speed. That is because the "gun" is fixed, and the particles are whizzing past as plasma inside a "doughnut" controlled by massive magnets. Each pop of the gun has to catch up with the accelerated plasma, requiring exponentially increasing energies for minor increments in speed. It is not the "speed limit" of "c" which makes this so, rather the inertia against which the gun must work inside an infinitesimal pop. Jumping from the inertial frame of reference within which the gun resides, to the frame within which the plasma particles reside requires geometrically increasing energy as particle speeds arithmetically increase. Consider too that each pop is unique, no matter how many they are; they are not accumulative in this context.
Another physics puzzle is the idea that we can never exceed the speed of light. We need to think outside the box to envision space ships with exotic propulsion systems that can keep on accelerating the mother ship at "g", or the force of gravity on Earth. Eventually the space ship will exceed the speed of light as seen from Earth’s initial inertial frame of reference, from which the space ship came; while at the same "time" the ship is always "at rest" within its own frame of reference. Just because the above thought experiment has never been done by machinery, there is no reason why it cannot eventually be done in space. Yes, we can both be at rest, and going faster than the speed of light relative to an external inertial frame.
This unity within dualism also explains Zeno’s paradox of the arrow.
Black holes are/have singularities.
Stable black holes are not singularities, nor do they have singularities. They are at their core extremely compact matter, with a gravitational virtual shell outside the surface of that core from which even light cannot escape. That virtual shell around the core is known as the event horizon. The gravitational field of the core extends outward beyond its event horizon. Because of this extended field we can indirectly detect and "weigh" the contents of black holes from the behavior of nearby matter. This behavior has been documented near our Milky Way's supermassive black hole.
It has also been thought that the stable population of black holes could include many with modest amounts of matter, and almost microscopically small event horizon diameters. Micro black holes are unlikely to form in open space, due to the highly incompressible nature of atomic cores. Nor can there be tiny fragments of larger black holes, or even "spores" or "seeds" from larger black holes, for the same reason.
There could be created nano-sized black holes in a machine such as the Large Hadron Collider. Fears have been raised that such tiny black holes would sink to the core of the Earth, and eventually suck in the Earth itself. This disaster scenario is not likely, due to the quantum phenomenon of Hawking radiation, whereby the black hole "leaks" its contents and evaporates. A supermassive black hole should take many billions of years to evaporate, but micro black holes would evaporate very soon after they were formed.
Another way to look at black hole evaporation is to not explain it in terms of quantum theory, which is what Hawking did. Rather, imagine a less than perfectly spherical central mass spinning rapidly. That irregularity will generate high frequency oscillations in the nearly spherical black hole gravitational shell. Some photons just inside that shell will take advantage of this in-and-out oscillation, finding themselves very briefly outside that shell, and then continuing onward away from the black hole prison. Either the Hawking version or this version explains how even the largest black hole eventually evaporates.
Black holes in galaxies typically are composed of thousands or millions of solar masses, and up to billions of solar masses…all within a tiny area at the center of their event horizons. There can be more than one black hole toward the center of any given galaxy.
It has been supposed that today’s black holes are like the great black hole associated with the singularity that began what we call the Big Bang. Whereas there are similarities, the dissimilarities are more significant. We will discuss the Big Bang shortly, so I will only say here that what is at the center of each black hole does not consist of zero dimensions, which is the literal definition of a singularity.
The Big Bang began everything.
Yes, there was a big bang some 13.7 billion years ago, with inflation and all the building blocks of today’s known energy and matter. We live within that expanding horizon. That event explains some of what we are all about, but it does not explain the other 95.4% of what's inside the known universe, namely, dark energy and dark matter.
Less than 100 years ago astronomers referred to galaxies as spiral nebulae, considering them as parts of our Milky Way. Indeed, it was only toward the end of the 20th century that the omniscient Roman Catholic Church forgave Galileo for his uppity suggestion that moons go around Jupiter. Maybe, just maybe, God was up to something much grander than what the Old Testament spoke about. Maybe scientists were testifying through their experimental discoveries to the true grandeur of God. Or maybe not. Such is the dilemma of cosmogony, trying to deal with what we can know, encased in what we can never know.
I have long had a problem with the idea that everything came together perfectly at one instant in a singularity. Couldn’t something, a lot of something in the train of matter and energy, have lagged behind? The sheer task of perfectly and instantaneously cramming everything into one point in space would have been magical. Godlike synchronization opens the door to the idea of God being sui generis (self-generating), and the Universe being God’s sui generis expression. Something coming from nothing, except God, who can dwell outside the laws of physics. Neat and tidy, as long as you don’t wonder just how something can come from nothing, or wonder from where God "himself" came.
Wouldn’t it be more elegant and parsimonious to hypothesize that a sufficiently large concentration of matter/energy inside one black hole would be enough to trigger a total collapse of the core into a singularity, releasing a big bang? Such an event would not require everything pre-existing to come together perfectly, just enough. In that case, the "new" universe would be an event within the greater Universe, and elements of the newly created universal bubble would coexist with elements of the previous order.
Theology can tidy up, or obfuscate, all cosmological questions inside the concept of mystery, or inside a nice tautology. Religious theology is great at building grandiose structures, starting with the second floor, over air. Does consistency necessarily equate with truth? If so, then we would only need one theology, one religion. But which is the correct one? How can we independently and objectively verify our choice?
If God was the supreme architect behind the Big Bang, perhaps he used elements from a previous universe to build our own. Otherwise he created something from nothing other than his own spirit. Again, from where did God originate and when? Maybe "God" equals the eternal creative element within Totality; and "he" is not like a person, but rather how we personify cosmic creativity. If humans are, as Genesis suggests, created "in the image of God," then maybe we share in the god essence, even though we had nothing to do with the Big Bang itself.
The Big Bang created everything.
We know that super-massive black holes can persist for hundreds of billions of years. We know too that the numerous class of stars, red dwarfs, can last for far longer than the age of the known universe. The same can be said for white dwarfs and neutron stars. Even though most if not all of the dwarfs we detect are the product of our recent Big Bang, there may be other identifiable structures potentially predating the Big Bang. The huge question of the origin and nature of dark matter and dark energy, as it relates to the so-called primordial explosion, remains unanswered.
Science follows the Law of Parsimony, which states that, given two equally logical explanations for an event, we should start by choosing the simpler explanation. It is often possible to construct many equally logical explanations, but the progress of theories works best when more elegant explanations are used.
Concerning the Big Bang, the parsimonious explanation does not require divine intervention. (Nor does it logically exclude some degree of divine intervention.) This view sees our universe as a part of the Universe. The idea of a multiverse, composed of many bubble-like universes such as ours, works very well to explain many phenomena without reference to unverifiable theories.
In a multiverse there can be a ubiquitous soup of dark energy and dark matter within which individual universes pop up and fade away over many billions of Earth years. Each local universe can have its own version of the laws of physics, generated by its own big bang. The universal soup, in contrast, will have its own set of physical laws preceding the local laws. My guess is that (following the idea of parsimony) the laws of physics in the universal soup will be very close to, if not equal to, the laws of physics in most, if not all, universal bubbles. If so, it would mean that spacetime need not be confined to one bubble, but can cross between and among bubbles, guided by gravity.
Just before our "big bang" occurred, it was sufficient for enough mass to accrete to the primordial black hole. What happened then and there is what could happen inside any black hole, if given enough incoming mass/energy to reach criticality.
It is important to understand that gravity alone creates the preconditions for this explosion, wherein the Yin of incoming matter/energy instantly transforms into the Yang of outgoing energy/matter. Energy generated in our big bang cools thereafter to differentiate into energy and matter. However, the first expression of our big bang is what I call the Universal Yin/Yang. Even a supernova pales in comparison to what happened 13.7 billion years ago. Supernovae are interesting, because they may be local cousins to what may be going on in the multiverse. Their remnants also share the same laws of physics as their environment.
See Fallacy #6.
Gravity is the weakest of the four fundamental forces.
The four fundamental forces are gravity, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and electromagnetism. An argument can be made that there is only one fundamental force: gravity.
Gravity is experienced by us as the force that holds us to the surface of the Earth. This force is mathematically expressed as "g." Little g is equal to 9.81 meters/sec2. Note that this formula works only at the surface of the Earth, not below it or above it. It diminishes as we move outward from the surface, so that, for example, 1000 meters above the surface 9.81 becomes 9.80. Note further that gravity herein is an expression of acceleration, so that we could simulate Earth’s gravitation in outer space within a giant rotating wheel, already depicted in some space movies.
If we were to go to the center of the Earth, and somehow survive the heat and pressure, we would experience zero gravity. That is because we would have nothing pulling us downward, and everything massive completely surrounding us and pulling in all directions outward, with all the Earth-mass forces canceling out each other.
In the real world, this is how the Big Bang began: Following the accumulation of a critical mass of matter the core rapidly began to collapse and implode, whereupon the full Big Bang ensued. It all happened in such an incredibly brief time that it was virtually in zero time.
Gravity is the one force that works at great distances. Because every point within the known big bang is at the "center" of the big bang, each point appears to be as if it were gravitationally at the center of the universe. This fact is important, otherwise we would be towed far and fast toward what would be the only one center of the universe. At the same time, there are many major gravitational influences on us within the universal bubble, and possibly even originating from without our known bubble.
Here is a simple way to understand the elements of gravity within our experience, and from within what we can imagine on a nano-scale. First, we must accept that gravity is a function of mass and distance, and is expressed as acceleration. Acceleration allows us to unify energy and matter.
Newton's Second Law is written: a = F/m, where F is force, m is mass, a is acceleration. In this formula, if mass is zero the force will be +/- infinity, or better to say undefined. If mass approaches zero, but stays positive, then acceleration approaches infinity. At zero, there is no mass at all to accelerate. Within this framework we can see the clear relationship between mass and energy.
The general gravity formula represents the magnitude of mutual attraction between objects A and B, and is as follows:
Fg = GmAmB / r2
G = the gravitational constant (see below)
mA = mass of object A in kilograms
mB = mass of object B in kilograms
r = distance between the mass centers of objects A and B
The gravitational constant is a small number that expresses acceleration:
G = (6.67E-11) (m3) / kg x s2, with s being seconds. [Scientific notation in this formula means to move the decimal eleven places to the left. If it were E+11, we would move the decimal eleven places to the right.]
Now, let’s turn these formulae into something we can "see" with our minds:
I weigh about 180 pounds, or 800 Newtons. One Newton is about 4 ounces, or roughly equal to the weight of one of Newton’s fabled apples. This weight is expressed also as 8l.7 kilograms.
If my mass were reformed into a nice ball of one-half meter in diameter, then it would be one-quarter meter from the center of my mass to any point on the surface. Two of "me" placed directly together would have a pathetically small mutual gravitational attraction, because of our very low masses relative to the half-meter distance between our two mass centers.
Compress these two perfect balls each into five millionth’s of one meter in diameter, and place them next to each other. That means the distance between the two centers of mass would be 5E-7, or 0.5 millionths of a meter. Using the general gravity formula, the same two objects with much closer centers of mass would have a mutual attraction of about 445 pounds. This is very close to the 425 pounds that I would weigh at the cloud-top "surface" of gigantic Jupiter, and that’s just the gravitational force from two highly compressed units of "me" in outer space. Is gravity starting to look a little less wimpy?
The Earth has a mass of 5.98E+24 kilograms. Its radius is 6.378E+6 meters. Keeping my own mass as is, but changing both the diameter of my mass and the Earth’s to one Angstrom each, yields a gravity of 3.3E+34 Newtons. Talk about me putting on weight!
As diameter becomes zero a singularity is achieved, and gravitational attraction infinitesimally appears to become infinite at the surface of the ever-shrinking mass. Zero diameter is possible in a Big Crunch, only to be immediately followed by the transformation of all matter (Yin) into the outward force of energy (Yang), which is why all stable black holes do not have singularities, just local event horizons.
Only what we call the Big Bang had a singularity of infinitesimal duration, at the very moment when Yin flipped into Yang. The four so-called fundamental forces were first fused into gravity, only later to re-emerge as if there are four again.
While all this was going on, the space that would be occupied by the present universe was likely filled with dark matter and dark energy, and also with multiple other black holes that did not have the time/space to join the party. There may also have been a multitude of old stars in that space, remnants from the universe that preceded our universe within this region of the multiverse. This picture may look from a sufficient distance like a static state, but it is very dynamic. Just imagine any community of soap bubbles seen from a distance, and then seen up close.
We now know that dark matter interacts with ionized matter through gravity. This fact is well established. Dark energy also relates to what we know through gravity, as expressed through the acceleration of expansion of our universe. Dark matter very likely was produced early in our big bang. Likewise, dark matter from previous big bangs should have persisted nearby. All of this data points to gravity being the end of the road on the Grand Unification Theory trail. Gravity works in this universe. Gravity works in other universes. Gravity works across universes, yielding the illusion of Dark Energy. Gravity is the unifying force.
Is there room for God in all this? Why not? We haven’t yet seen beyond our own universe (though this may be possible, with very poor visual resolution). Nothing in what I have written herein excludes any divine force. Nothing necessitates divine design either. Perhaps teleology is local, and our god is a local being or beings of relevance to our personal destinies. Such questions are beyond astronomy and cosmology, belonging to the playful realm of metaphysics.
Fallacy #6: Our universe is The Universe
Less than one hundred years ago we thought our galaxy was all there is. With confirmation of a Big Bang at the beginning of our universe, it became fashionable to think of our universe as all there was. Even the Roman Catholic Church got onboard with this idea, being entranced by the theological possibilities of something coming from nothing but God.
In the 21st century many cosmologists are increasingly skeptical of the idea that our visible universe is the Universe. There are many conceptions of a multiverse, usually involving some image of bubbles. The unprovable mathematical elegance of string theories takes us both inward and outward among multiple dimensions, and along strange types of membranes called branes. All of this metaphysical thought is hopefully on the road to a Theory of Everything (TOE).
I am not alone in believing that it is possible, maybe even likely, that our universe is one bubble within a community of bubbles. The relationships could be fairly static, or there could be bubbles colliding with each other over the millennia. One recent paper investigates this collision phenomenon. Three cosmologists with the University of California, Santa Cruz, published in July 2007 a paper entitled "Towards observable signatures of other bubble universes." You are welcome to access their report at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0704/0704.3473v3.pdf
I believe it may be possible to see crudely beyond our own universe, using physics, not metaphysics. I am talking about seeing indirectly beyond the Cosmic Microwave Background. It may be possible to detect nearby universes juxtaposed to ours, whether they have collided with ours or not. This achievement alone will not establish a TOE, but it will open new areas of inquiry. How will we do this?
The mystery of gravity is its action at a distance. Newton saw everything attracted to everything, without any delay. Of course, Newton’s 17th century universe was much smaller than today’s. Einstein improved on Newtonian gravity by seeing things in spacetime. In spacetime mass warps the fabric of space and time. There is the famous image of a large ball depressing the "rubber sheet" of space and time, so that passing photons are bent on their path by the dimple. It is interesting that Newtonian physics helped locate Neptune beyond Uranus; and discrepancies in Neptune's orbit helped open the door to Einstein's physics, which Einstein refined by solving discrepancies in Mercury's orbit.
Confirmation of this effect on light comes from observational data involving gravity lenses, such as the object known as Einstein’s Cross. There is a danger in this elegance: We are equating what we measure, photons, with that which we are measuring, spacetime. Just because photons are gravitationally bent on their path by large masses, it does not necessarily follow that everything else is likewise bent. Nevertheless, going back to the simple formula for gravity, it is hard to imagine anything else involving energy/mass that would be immune to gravity. Therefore, it is highly likely that the bending of spacetime is real and fundamental, both on macro and micro scales. We must step up our vision to include a myriad of moving dimples in the fabric, ranging in size from sub-nano to inter-universal.
In quantum theory there exists the idea of a graviton. There could also be a virtual graviton which, much like virtual photons, is a mediator between subatomic particles. In the law of conservation of energy and matter, matter can be energy, and energy can be matter; and the direction is two-ways.
Note that individual photons and gravitons do not know in which direction they are traveling. So what guides them? Spacetime. It is the sum of degrees of "slope" in spacetime that determines how many gravitons from the universal soup are drawn toward a given mass. Only when the net slope is ninety-degrees, a "vertical" drop, does spacetime end at that point, when gravity becomes simultaneously zero and infinite. That process occurred for an extremely brief moment during our universe's Big Bang, when the Yin of contraction immediately switched over to the Yang of expansion.
If photons "go out," how then do gravitons "go in"? The answer is that photons are gravitons, both influenced by vast numbers of dimples in spacetime. Their individual direction and speed are determined by differential summations of these dimple effects. Both of these bosons (force carriers) are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Some of what we experience as incoming gravity could be bosons flowing in from universes outside our own.
We have already seen how gravity approaches infinity in black hole cores, and actually equals it at the point of singularity, which extremely temporarily annihilates local spacetime, allowing for the escape of energy. In our Big Bang the earliest inflation occurred because there was little or no localized matter to slow down or divert the escape. Once our universe progressively organized itself, with atoms, galaxies and all that we know, including resurgent gravity, inflowing dimples in spacetime became important, imperiling the infinite expansion of our universe.
It is interesting to contemplate the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) itself. Why did it take some 380,000 years after our Big Bang for photons to appear virtually all at once? A possible answer is that well before then gravity had re-emerged, and along with it an event horizon that restrained the new photons inside a gravitational "jail." After 380,000 years our universe had expanded far enough that this universal event horizon vanished. Evaporation of the Big Bang Event Horizon liberated the photons, and we see today that sublime event in all its noisy beauty.
A more conventional explanation is that the expanding and cooling universe from the previous dark age cooled to 3,000 K, which allowed protons to capture electrons, and which allowed the opaque haze of the previous state to vanish. We therefore see the nearest edge of the cosmic microwave background through the newly transparent universe.
Later on, about six billion light years ago (distance and time), a very strange thing started to happen. The rate of expansion of our universe started gradually to accelerate again. We know this from seeing our cosmic candle, the brightness of type Ia supernovae, being dimmer than we would otherwise expect beyond six billion light years. What does this mean?
If we perceive the total Universe as being much grander than our Big Bang universe, then the answer is simple: Objects toward the limits of our observable universe are NOT being subjected to awakening phantom Dark Energy. They are simply responding to the increasingly downward slope of spacetime as they approach, and are attracted by, what is beyond our own historical bubble. This multiverse gravitational explanation is more elegant than cooking up a new mystery force.
If whatever lurks beyond our own bubble universe is evenly distributed nearby to the boundaries of our universe, as in a uniform cosmic soup, then it will be impossible to detect significant differences in the rate of expansion of areas of our known universe. On the other hand, if there are other universes, so to speak, adjacent to our own, then their nearby-distant mass/energy concentrations could be indirectly detected.
To improve our trans-universal resolution we will need to have a much better understanding of gravitational effects, including gravity waves, from the localized distribution of matter/energy within our bubble. We will also need to expand our concept of spacetime, so that it is not confined to one universe in the Universe.
Our indirect "image" of such truly alien material beyond our Big Bang envelope will always have very low resolution, but we have to take what we can get. Only a transcendent divinity "above it all" could see better. Nevertheless, this singular low-resolution achievement would place us finite humans higher up the ladder of sentient beings on Earth and elsewhere who are living "in the image of God."
Since this essay was first written in 2007 the advance of science has continued, and will continue. In September of 2008 scientists announced their discovery of the likely presence of dark matter beyond our visible universe. That either means there was a universe preceding our Big Bang universe, with the initial inflationary expansion of our Big Bang pushing outward pre-existing dark matter; or it could also mean that there are indeed other universes in the Universe beyond our own.
This recent data comes from the WMAP satellite. Basically, a gravitationally strong patch some twenty degrees in diameter has been detected toward the Centaurus and Vela constellations. Very distant galaxy clusters are moving toward it in ways that cannot otherwise be explained. This WMAP observation opens the door for future observations of other gravitationally strong patches, and even for the concept of a broader halo of matter somewhat more distant. I invite you to read a report in Astronomy magazine at this URL: http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=7423
Eventually, it could be demonstrated that so-called dark energy may primarily be distant energy/matter increasingly attracting our known universe, as what we know moves toward the boundaries of our observable universe. If this flow is so, then the vision of everything, even atomic cores, being totally ripped apart by phantom energy in a Big Rip some 80+ billion years hence is not true. Of course, our own universe may vanish as such in a sea of bubble universes. Its constituent elements should survive elsewhere, to be followed by new bubbles created by future big bangs. There would be no end to everything within an infinite singularity of chaos, merely a mixing of the soup over and over again. In this extremely long term view, the more things change, the more they remain the same.
Thank you for reading all of this unifying essay. You may contact me at my email address, cmtastronomy, on the Hotmail service.
This essay was originally written October 9, 2007; with revisions by the author November 16, 2007; September 26, 2008; February 8, 2009; April 17, 2009; and September 14, 2009.