Before the Big Bang ?

When watching last week’s BBC Horizon, I was disappointed to see the singularity and inflation still at the root of big bang theories. That’s despite the fact that two key subjects were brought up very early – causation itself (which is actually not discussed further), and the logical problem with the idea of time itself before the universe existed, if the whole universe (including time) does start with the big bang. So I watched it again.

OK, good to hear that it is mainstream to think that the current “universe” is a region of space-time that arose (through a big-bang event) in a pre-existing super-multi-universe …. hooray, multi-verses are no longer a quantum hack, they are indeed connected by time and n-dimensional space and the laws of physics. (Interesting that people just put aside the “first-cause” problem – in accepting pre-existing / always-existed super-universe and of many possible adjacent and successive universes, no beginning, no end, but hey, ho.) Weak to suggest this is an evolutionary / Darwinian model simply because this (each) universe has an ancestor, chicken and egg, unless there is also some evidence of genetic inheritance, but an attractive analogy. [Post Note : genetic inheritance is one part of Rick’s argument – see links below. The new universe does inherit from the state (asymmetries / constants / boundary conditions / etc.) of physical laws from the previous one in which the bang occurs – so no mystery on meaningless coincidences (except first-cause of course).]

But why, oh why, to keep looking for radical speculative solutions to the “cause” of the big bang, without going back to existing known physics explanations, that were only dropped to make way for inflation / size and dark-matter / energy / cosmological-constant discrepancies in deriving the standard model ? (Negative gravity, events inside black-holes, collisions between branes, you name it ?)

Mersini-Houghton’s wave solution sounded the most convincing, but not clear why string-theory was mentioned ? Insufficient material in the programme to know anything about the actual theory she is using other than first-principle-wave-equations with no physical boundary conditions. [* Post Note: Boscovich UFT ?]

(Roll-call : Kaku, Linde, Singh,  Smolin, Turok, Penrose, Nichol, Giaimi, Mersini-Houghton)

Actually I only went back to this previous edition of Horizon on-line because of a random Facebook contact with Rick Ryals today, that led me to look back at his three key knols and the various arxiv references from there (below). Having got rid of the “preposterous” conjectures, the cosmologists need to wind back to fundamental physics in the one consistent super-multi-universe again. We’ve got so focussed on the “creation” god vs science debate in the current climate, that we have failed to notice that the workings of the current super / multi-universe are no longer dependent on any attempt to explain something from nothing. Cosmologists have forgotten that they’re not really physicists. Something rather than nothing is still a massively interesting question, but not a scientific one thank god.

Physics is science, and cosmogeny is metaphysics or theology again. Phew!

Rick’s links …. the order of reading is important …
Or if you can read only one, read How Politics Kills Science

Rick Ryals’ – Einstein’s Universe, No “Biggest Blunder”
Rick Ryals’ – Goldilocks Enigma, Cosmological Constant from First Principles 
**>> Rick Ryals’ – Anthropic Principle, How Politics Kills Science
Brandon Carter’s – seminal work on Anthropic Principles
Richard Lieu – cosmology is groping in the dark unscientifically
Larry Kraus – the energy of empty space that isn’t zero
P Z Myers, Jerry Coyne & Sam Harris – Religion Pollutes Science
Peter Rowlands’ Dirac ReWrite – From Zero to Infinity

And that Larry Kraus quote, quoted by Rick from the above,

“… there appears to be energy of empty space that isn’t zero! This flies in the face of all conventional wisdom in theoretical particle physics. It is the most profound shift in thinking, perhaps the most profound puzzle … … when we look out at the universe, there doesn’t seem to be enough structure ” not as much as inflation would predict … … when you look at CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun. Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That’s crazy. We’re looking out at the whole universe. There’s no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun ” the plane of the earth around the sun ” the ecliptic … … telling us that all of science is wrong and we’re the center of the universe, or maybe the data is simply incorrect, or … maybe there’s something wrong with our theories on the larger scales.”

“Our” theories notice. Our position as observers on earth IS privileged (as observers that is, observers that had to be here because of the laws of physics, but not because of us as creators, except insofar as we “construct” our world-view, yes, even you physicists and theologians; philosophers already knew it).

[Post Note : updated Rick’s links since Google Knol went down, and highlighted the key link.]

14 thoughts on “Before the Big Bang ?”

  1. A very concise comment from Ian there, with a lot of what he says I agree with.
    However I cant shake of the unnerving feeling that nobody else (except myself) seems to have to picked up on the fact that when the program describes Laura’s eureka moment about string theory, it iis very reminiscent of Douglas Adams account of the young girl sitting in a cafe somewhere in Islington who also suddenly worked out what it was all about but was unable to tell anybody as she was suddenly killed when the earth was demolished by the Vogon’s to make way for a hyper space by-pass.

    Luckily this never happened when Laura worked out (some) of the complexities of string theory, but what if she finally works out the theory to everything.
    Hopefully by then I would of unwittingly made friends with someone who lives somewhere in he vicinity of Beetleguice, and they can hopefully transport me of this rock before it gets demolished.

    Note to self – remember to pack one towel.

  2. Ha, yes. Towel already packed Stephen and The Guide fully charged on standby. Be interested in what professional physicists make of Rick Ryals line of reasoning in the links above.

  3. watched this and it all seemed to be about scientists trying to come up with a ‘something’ that ‘something’ could come from,not that they ever considered a Creator to be a viable option. But there was one short mention by an Asian scientist (sorry i don’t have his name) about experiments done or theory about the world’s largest vaccum chamber, as when under vaccum atoms ‘spontaneously’ appear, surely this is a demonstration of the ‘something from nothing’ that all such scientists are looking for.Of course that still does not explain how it happens just that it does!

  4. Problem with that view of the vacuum chamber experiment is that a vacuum is NOT nothing, it’s just no gaseous atomic atmosphere. There is still a lot exists and happening in a vacuum – energy, time and sub-atomic / sub-nuclear “energy/wave/particles”. That vacuum is still in THIS universe.

    It is of course interesting to understand how a new universe (and new atomic particles) can arise according to the laws of physics inside the current one – and pretty scary too. But the something rather than (literally) nothing question is totally different, and simply put to one side here as you note. (Makes you wonder why science ever bothers to argue with creationists when the question doesn’t actually appear to interest them.)

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  6. Has the BBC started a new horizon programme where we can learn more about Mersini-Houghton’s theory? All the blogs I’ve read seem to be as curious as me in wanting to know about her multiverse theory.

  7. @Lawrence – I have no knowledge of that I’m afraid. Stephen (Comment #1) seems to be connected to Mersini-Houghton. (Incidentally I strongly recommend the Rick Ryals “Anthropic Principles” links …. not to be dismissed lightly before following a particular new speculative theory; serious doubts about existing physics interpretations.)

  8. iv often wondered where god was before the big bang i think he was in his labratory doing his experiments with his test tubes and bunsen burner all bubling nicely when the little women shouted diners ready dont let it get cold so off he trots to get his diner just going to enjoy his beans on toast when he realizes he has nt turned the gas of under the test tube when there s an almighty bang is this how it happend

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  10. There is a heirarchy of intelligence. At the infinite top is obviously the supreme mind. Actually, the essence of matter (invisible or visible) is simply a dream construct in the supreme mind which is a living infinity. Infinity is alive! All the rest (observable or not) is simply an on going mental construct. This why scientists will never figure all this out until they accept the fact everything in existrence other than the supreme mind is again nothing more than controlled and structured oscillations of energy within the supreme mind.

  11. It’s an idea Steve, but hardly “obviously” – and just as much your “mental construct”, to use your term.

    I don’t think it’s true to say that the whole of existence is “simply” a mental construct – though I’d agree the way we see and understand (all of it) it is largely a mental construct based on our interaction with it.

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