Numinations — October, 1998

Food for Thought

© 1998, by Gary D. Campbell

Fellow Numinators—armchair travelers—I offer a final “taste of the Cosmos” as food for your thought. When last we met, our Numination focused on the microcosm of quantum reality. This time we shall expand our vision to the limits of the universe. We ourselves lie somewhere in between. Ours is a macro world compared to that of quantum mechanics. It requires a huge number of quantum components to construct us and the world of our lives and experiences. We can have no direct contact with the quantum world. The properties of our world only emerge from large numbers of things happening very, very fast in a microcosm far removed from us in size. At the macro-end of the size scale, there is a Cosmos that we will also never navigate. There are spans of time and measures of space that we know of but can never cross. At least, not as individuals. So, let’s reach out with our minds, from the comfort of our armchairs, to the farther galaxies and revisit why their light appears to be red shifted. The farther away another galaxy is from us, the more red shifted the light is coming from it. The implication drawn from this by today’s scientists is that the red shift is due to the Doppler effects of motion, and the more distant a galaxy is, the faster it moves away from us. However, what if there were another explanation for the red shift? What if it were not due to the Doppler effect of relative motion, but to some other kind of energy loss? Why do we expect that a quantum of energy, after traveling for several billion years, will be as robust as it was when it set out? If any energy were somehow “bled off,” the effect would still be a red shift. A different cause, but precisely the same effect.

We can verify that Doppler red shifts (those due to the relative motion between source and observer) are possible, but we can’t verify an “energy decay” that takes billions of years to occur. Any red shift looks like any other. For example, light is red shifted when it travels from a source deeper in a “gravity well” to an observer higher up. Could the curvature due to a “gravity well” be similar to the curvature of a universal geodesic? If the red shift of distant galaxies is not due to their motion away from us, but due to some other cause, then there was very likely no Big Bang. The universe, on the grand scale, could be eternal and static. More than one thing could explain the red shift of light from distant objects. We simply have no data to sort them out, because all of our observations are restricted to the near end of forever.

According to the leaps of conjecture we took in our last Numination, black holes are the very stuff of which we’re made, and the very source of all creation beyond the original existence of space and the energy it contains. The tiniest black holes are particles. Stellar black holes turn into supernovas and generate the heavy elements. Much larger black holes might erupt to create the protons, neutrons, and electrons of first generation stars. Cosmic black holes are universes unto themselves. Our universe could be a very large black hole contained in a larger one, and so on. All space is warped by the quanta it contains into finite, but unbounded, chunks. Each chunk is defined by its geodesic curvature, which is defined in turn by the paths that light takes to travel through it (which is set by the total quanta producing the gravity within it). On the Grand Scale, the universe may be static and eternal.

Now let’s take a look at the “Universe of the Big Bang.” This will follow the “standard model” pretty closely, but keep in mind that not every scientist is lined up in lock step over each point in this description. Based on the observation that galaxies are uniformly distributed in all three dimensions throughout known space, and that the more distant they are, the more red-shifted they are, scientists have inferred that a Big Bang some 15 billion years ago was the origin of the universe.

This was not an explosion at a point in three dimensional space, but an inflation of our three dimensional space within a fourth spatial dimension. The way to think of this is to imagine a balloon. Blow it up just a little and use a marking pen to put ink dots all over it. Each dot represents a galaxy. Now blow it up quite a bit more. Notice that each dot gets farther away from its nearest neighbors. All the dots move away from each other, but the farther away two dots are, the faster they move away from each other as the balloon is blown up. The two dimensional surface of the balloon is an analogy to the three dimensions of our own universe. Every line around the circumference of the balloon is a geodesic. Its two-dimensional surface expands into three dimensions. The Big Bang requires our three dimensional universe to be the surface of a four dimensional “balloon.”

If the Big Bang had simply been an explosion in three dimensions, it would have produced an expanding sphere of matter and energy. The energy would have traveled away from the point of origin at the speed of light, and the matter at some lesser speed. The explosion would be like a shell. Empty space would lie ahead of its wavefront, and relatively empty space would be enclosed within the expanding shell. Observations show us that this is not the case—we find that galaxies are distributed uniformly in all directions. Hence, the “balloon” scenario. In the standard model, the inflation of space itself does not have to obey the “speed limit” of light, and it is postulated that the universe initially expanded much faster than light could propagate through it. It is claimed that, even now, radiation from the original explosion is still reaching us. This radiation is called the Cosmic Background Radiation.

In the standard model light also follows the paths of universal geodesics, and the geodesics themselves are still expanding. It has not been determined if they will continue to expand forever, stop at some point, or even reverse and contract into some kind of Big Crunch. In fact, the mechanism and implications of this kind of expansion and contraction continue to be the subjects of lively scientific debate. Many crucial points in this model are far from being resolved—but, the fact of the Big Bang is rarely questioned.

One problem with the standard model is that so many aspects of it appear to be unrelated. Or, worse yet, that so many “fortunate” coincidences have ocurred to produce a universe in which we could arise. Of course, if this hadn’t been the case we wouldn’t be here. Given the fact that we are here, some scientists say it doesn’t matter how fantastically improbable a universe based on our model is, the model need only be supported by the fact that we are here. However, the best scientific theories and models have plausible connections all the way through. The standard model falls a bit short in this area.

What we have tried to do with this series of Numinations is to suggest alternatives for some of the assumptions of relativity, quantum mechanics, and the Big Bang. To summarize a bit, the model under Numination has it that there was no Big Bang—it postulates a different explanation for the red shift of distant galaxies. Our Numination has it that quanta (photons) are the constituents of everything (matter is simply energy in special configurations). This model has it that there is a deterministic reality at the quantum level, and only our inability to access it limits us to models involving “probability clouds” and “wave functions.” It posits that three dimensional space is infinite, and that time has no beginning or end; that geodesics form in three dimensional space causing “pockets” (black holes) that are topologically equivalent to “surfaces” in a four dimensional continuum (but that there is no “real” fourth dimension).

In the Numination model, geodesics result from the gravitational curvature of space, a curvature that is defined by the propagation of light. The geodesics of a black hole expand when there is a sustained pressure (incredible fireball produced by the total annihilation of matter) within it. On the smallest scale this is the case when an electron annihilates a positron. On larger scales, it would be more like the early stages of the Big Bang as it is currently conceived, but space itself would not expand, only the geodesics within it would change. All quanta travel exactly at the speed of light as compared to the background of space. When a black hole eruption into the next higher “geodesic environment” was complete, the original black hole would cease to exist. All quanta previously trapped within it would be freed.

Time in this model is nothing more than a comparison between periodic phenomena. The most basic of these are linked directly to the universal constant, the speed of light. Less fundamental phenomena—from the semi-fixed and semi-chaotic orbital mechanics of photons and particles, to the phenomena of heat, entropy, information theory, and biological processes—have a huge asymmetry of probability that gives an absolute direction to the passage of time. Time as a scalar unit is a convenience in defining physical models. Time as we experience it is an emergent property. Time as a dimension, or the concept of “time travel,” is nothing more than a confabulation of unrelated concepts (an intriguing fantasy).

Space and the quanta it contains may never have had a beginning, but the geodesics of our present universe did, and every photon and particle within it had a beginning and will have an end, in that they transmuted from, and will trasmute into, other photons or particles. All objects and phenomena are simply localized rearrangements of space and collections of quanta. Original creation? There is no such thing! Recycling is total and eternal. Everything is made from something that existed before. Everything is either a copy of something else, an accidental arrangement, or it lies somewhere in between. Evolution is the process that allows new arrangements to emerge, but no process permits a change in total quanta.

And, this Numination is no exception—it’s been traveled, tasted, and it’s ready for recycling!

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