Thursday, June 5, 2008

Origin of the Universe (as we know it)

"Do you believe the universe had a beginning, or has it always existed?" -Matthew

Good question Matthew. I don't claim to KNOW how the universe came into being, like Ray Comfort. It's funny to read Comfort's blog in which he says atheists believe "Nothing created everything." Unfortunately for Ray, this is just a straw man. No one with any credentials in the field, says that nothing existed before the Big Bang (except the boogie men in Ray's fantasies).

The fact is that we don't know what happened before the "Planck wall." The Planck wall is 10/\-43 seconds after the Big Bang. 10/\-43 is scientific notation which means (0.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000001) of a second. It is difficult, if not impossible to observe what happened before that time. Without observation, scientists can only speculate about what existed before the Big Ban. Certainly no one who is doing science says NOTHING existed.

Another problem of observation pertains to what are known as "horizons." Light travels at a finite speed. That being said, we can only gather information from light and gravity. The light that hits our telescopes has been traveling for billions of years. So our perview of information is limited by the amount of light that hits the instruments we use. Consequently, our information is limited, because events (which generated light) have reached us yet.

Personally, I believe matter always existed. This is just my opinion, and I don't claim to KNOW. You asked "Do you believe the universe had a beginning, or has it always existed?" Both, in my humble opinion are true. The "universe" or the galaxies and planets we see, had a beginning called the Big Bang. Matter, on the other hand, always existed. In other words, matter was transfered via the Big Bang to form the universe.

Ray completely ignores hypothesis that exist about what happened before the Big Bang. One of them is String Theory (AKA M-theory). String Theory is a mathematical explanation of how matter interacted before the Big Bang. String Theory says the universe was created by the collision of "membranes" which are made of strings. This is consistent with thermodynamics and other theories. At this point in time, String Theory is not science, because we need observable evidence (So was Einstein's Theory of Relativity before it was observed), but it is one hypothesis that shows promise and is being investigated. Ray, in his classical arrogance, completely ignores this.

Here are two hypothesis;

1) We don't know how the universe came into being, so God did it. (Violates Occam's Razor)
2) We don't know how the universe came into being, so we should keep looking.

Thanks for the question.

Further Reading;

NOVA TV program about string theory

Article about String (M) Theory

PDF File


Matthew said...

Ah, okay, sorry Steve, that question was poorly phrased. I didn't actually mean the current arrangement of the universe, I meant matter in general. Luckily, you answered that, too.

So how do you justify matter with no beginning?

SteveMudSkipper said...

Eternal matter doesn't violate the laws of thermodynamics.

Matter cannot be created or destroyed.

Matthew said...

Yes, however, it is impossible to traverse an infinite period of time. It was to this concept I was referring.

Matthew said...

Uh... Steve? You here?

SteveMudSkipper said...

I haven't died yet. haha

I don't think I can answer your other statement (not being a physics major).

Where did you come up with that? Who said you WOULD be able to traverse infinite space/time?

It seems to me, given Einstein's equations, time travel via wormholes is possible (not right now of course). What do you think?

Matthew said...

Lol, time travel via wormholes may or may not be possible, I don't concern myself too much with the concept.

I wasn't suggesting that a person could traverse an infinite amount of time, by the way. Here's what I was saying:

If the universe had no beginning, then it would never traverse a large enough space of time to reach the moment it is at now. While an infinity forward is plausible (because you would never reach the end of it), to suggest the same in the opposite direction is mathematically and logically impossible.