The Big Bang

Owen Wilson shares a lot of joy over the years. We love his movies. “The Darjeeling Express” is a great one, among many others.

My son and I laughed seeing this (see video above) at the Perot Museum in Dallas today. Check out the white text beneath the handrail: “Narrated by Owen Wilson”. That’s funny.

I’ve been thinking about the big bang lately. I guess that sounds like something Owen Wilson would say. Oh, that reminds me, “Midnight in Paris”, he’s good in that one too.

So, anyway, people say, “Big Bang is the most common explanation we have, of the origin of the universe.”

But, does it explain anything?

I mean, it says “there was nothing and then there was everything”, and so on with some minor details. I’ve always felt that whatever it is that the Big Bang Theory says/posits, that what it doesn’t do is explain. But, of course, that’s to be expected. To explain is to set a very high bar, and things like this (science in general, since Isaac Newton) don’t reach for a standard of intelligibility that high. See Noam Chomsky’s excellent talk on the limits of human understanding and the contribution of Isaac Newton to the study of mind: https://youtu.be/D5in5EdjhD0

But that’s not really what I’m getting at. It’s not that the big bang theory doesn’t rise to the level of explanation. Rather, it’s simpler, a failure to attain a much lower bar; it’s simply that the theory makes no significant claim.

Things that are asserted/claimed/stated can either be shown to be true or shown to be false, or shown to be a mixture of true and false, or shown to be guesses based on reason and so on. And in such cases, where something is claimed, then one can say that one either believes in, gives credence to, or finds merit in a claim, or not. You can either believe it or not believe it. Defend it, or oppose it. For this to be the case, though, a claim of at least some minimal significance, must be made.

When there is no substantive claim, then there is nothing to either prove or disprove, believe or not believe, defend or oppose. This is near where the Big Bang resides. It’s very close to no claim at all.

Of course there are mathematics involved. And these are not unfounded. But their appropriate application is in doubt. This doubt is covered in a 2015 paper by [Ahmed Farag Ali – Saurya Das], described in articles here http://phys.org/news/2015-02-big-quantum-equation-universe.html  and  elsewhere like here http://www.dailydot.com/parsec/big-bang-theory-universe-may-have-existed-forever/

These are worth reading. The paper posits that the universe has no beginning. That rather it has always been. The universe’s existence extends forever into the past, and forever into the future. Check out the short articles describing the paper, and the paper itself.

But that’s scientific writing published in the physics community; let’s add some common sense reasoning.

Since Einstein, we know that we know, that both time and space (space-time) are elastic, AND, we also know that we know that we have no idea what time and space are. Let that sink in for a second. We, the most knowledgeable among us, our greatest scientists, we, have no idea what time is, nor what space is. For that matter, we have no idea what matter is. We have no coherent concept, since Newton, of the material, the physical (see again the Chomsky talk https://youtu.be/D5in5EdjhD0 ).

We don’t know what time, space, or matter are, and in fact, we’re not even close to any kind of coherent description of any of them, let alone explanation and understanding. And yet, knowing nothing about these, we subscribe to calculations of the age of the universe, and it’s structural behavior. Hmm. Let’s keep thinking.

I’m very pro-science. Don’t misunderstand. But I’ll come back to that.

An important discovery a few years ago directly undermines the Big Bang theory. Previously, and recently, we thought the universe was expanding (after the initial “inflation” period right after the big bang) at a constant rate, or slowing. Now we recognize evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, now. We are, right now, in a universe that is expanding at an accelerating rate.

This puts the calculations in doubt, right? At first glance we could recalculate and conclude that the universe, instead of 13.8 billion years old, is only a few years old, or maybe 2 seconds old. Or is it older than we thought? Since it’s accelerating faster than we thought, then does that mean that we’d expect the age of the universe to be older, or younger than the Big Bang’s calculation of 13.8 billion years?

Let’s assume (risking stupidity) that the age calculation has something do with amount of expansion (distance), and the rate of expansion (speed), and the change in rate, whether the rate is accelerating or decelerating, or constant, after the initial bang “inflation period”. Then let’s assume that the age of the universe (time) is a function of these factors: (1) distance, (2) rate, and (3) change in rate.

On what foundation then are we calculating the age of the universe, since we know now that we had been wrong on item 3 (change in rate of expansion; it’s accelerating), let’s ponder again also that we know that space-time is elastic. The idea that the space of the universe, and time, are concepts that we can grasp, is surely far overstating our abilities. We lack any kind of fundamental grasp on these things. But let’s continue.

Do we have any way of knowing if the change in the rate of the expansion of the universe, (3) , changes? Do we have any way of knowing if it sometimes accelerates and sometimes decelerates and sometimes is constant? Of course this is unknowable. What foundation then do we have for calculating the age of the universe? And yet this is Big Bang’s claim, that it identifies the age of the universe, and further that the universe originates in a singularity.

From the article at Phys.org  http://phys.org/news/2015-02-big-quantum-equation-universe.html describing the [Ahmed Farag Ali – Saurya Das] paper:

No singularities nor dark stuff

In addition to not predicting a Big Bang singularity, the new model does not predict a “big crunch” singularity, either. In general relativity, one possible fate of the universe is that it starts to shrink until it collapses in on itself in a big crunch and becomes an infinitely dense point once again.

Ali and Das explain in their paper that their model avoids singularities because of a key difference between classical geodesics and Bohmian trajectories. Classical geodesics eventually cross each other, and the points at which they converge are singularities. In contrast, Bohmian trajectories never cross each other, so singularities do not appear in the equations.

In cosmological terms, the scientists explain that the quantum corrections can be thought of as a cosmological constant term (without the need for dark energy) and a radiation term. These terms keep the universe at a finite size, and therefore give it an infinite age. The terms also make predictions that agree closely with current observations of the cosmological constant and density of the universe.

So perhaps, with [Ahmed Farag Ali – Saurya Das] we can say that, instead of a BANG, what we have instead is an …ahhhh…, an ahhhh that spans infinite time. We might add that this is perfectly reasonable because of course we have no idea what time is anyway. So not a BANG but an ahhhh, an ahhhh that has no beginning and no end, an ahhhh that goes on forever in the past and forever in the future. With [Ahmed Farag Ali – Saurya Das], we have a universe that begins — never — because it has always been, and, that at no time was condensed to a point from which it exploded.

Let’s add another puzzler. Recent evidence also shows that the universe (space, space-time) is expanding faster than the speed of light. Einstein holds that nothing can travel through space faster than the speed of light, but the limit doesn’t apply to space itself. See Derek Mueller explain here: https://youtu.be/XBr4GkRnY04 . Logically then, can’t we conclude that we have no way of knowing what the limit of space is, how far it extends ((1), distance)?

Mueller, in a great-as-always Veritassium video, explains that:

  • galaxies that are in superluminal space, that is, galaxies that lie beyond our “Hubble sphere”, the sphere within which light from receding galaxies may reach us because those galaxies haven’t receded yet over the faster-than-the-speed-of-light Hubble horizon…

These superluminal galaxies may not be beyond our view. Why? Because our Hubble sphere boundary itself is expanding, faster than the speed of light.

Here’s what this tells us and what it doesn’t tell us. It tells us, as Mueller well illustrates, that the galaxies that lie beyond our view, may enter our view. But that tells us nothing about the extent of what may lie beyond our expanding Hubble sphere.

We can picture this analogy. We drive our car down a road at night. We have the high beam head lights on. There are things that lie within the view of our headlights, and things that lie beyond the range of our headlights. The fact that things that lie beyond the range of our headlights then enter within the range of our lights, well, that tells us nothing about the possible extent of the range beyond our headlights. It could be infinite range for all we know, or a limited range with an extent limit somewhere, but how far away that limit is, we have no idea.

Because that range limit-extent then is unknowable (unknowable now, and can never be known), then, again, perhaps we can safely conclude that there can be no meaning in calculations of the age of the universe and the structure of it’s origin. The claim made by the Big Bang theory may take the form of, and sound like, a claim, but the claim may be completely unfounded,  undermined by

  • common sense understanding both of the limits of our observational powers and the limits of our understanding, and
  • by new applications of mathematics: [Ahmed Farag Ali – Saurya Das]

Science

I said above that I’m very “pro-science”. But that requires some qualification.

You “love science”? Good.

I never found that to be a position to either defend or oppose. I mean, its not claiming anything. It’s like saying, “I believe in literature; and you should believe in literature.”

All literature? Without differentiation?

“I’m a writer. I believe in writers. I believe what writers say. You should believe what writers say.”

Nonsense. Gibberish. Meaning enters only once one differentiates between writings. One likes some writers and not others, some ideas and not others, some more than others, some partially, some not at all. Some are lousy. Some are arrogant. Some are unfounded. Some are banal. Some on the other hand are eye-opening, profound, put their finger on the heart of the matter.

The same is so with science, no surprise because science is nothing other than an attempt to make sense of the world through observation using reason. This often fails and sometimes points to something that matters even as understanding remains and always will be, almost totally incomplete.

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