I’ve been on the road for several days, actually back in New York for my grandson’s Bar Mitzvah. Which was an interesting experience with some deep conversations with the Rabbi of a small Jewish congregation as well as with my grandson’s Bar Mitzvah coach, a physicist who is also a holocaust survivor, more about all that later. But one thing we were talking about was acts of faith, and one of those turns out to be the Big Bang, which now seems to be accepted by the establishment in physics as being a “something from nothing” event. As I mentioned a few weeks ago even one of Lucretius’s main premises back about 55 BCE, was that something could not arise out of nothing, so we shouldn’t place our faith in the gods out there. Another example, even the Pope now accepts the big bang, maybe encouraged by its seemingly miraculous occurrence.
It may well be that any and all models or theories of the beginning of our universe require some starting assumption that eludes explanation, that requires some leap of faith, but the most reasonable ones will have some basis in systems or processes that have an internal logic and plausibility that might stand up to testing. An example: this one emerged in a discussion of the big bang over coffee one morning.
Start with a point. Place yourself mentally out there in the cosmos, far from the shores of what we call our universe, and imagine a point. A true Euclidean point, without height, or depth, or breadth. Not even a Korzybskian “point-event” since that would require something we haven’t invented yet, time.
Then, apply a force. With the forefingers and opposing thumbs of two hypothetical hands, grasp the point, and draw it out in opposite directions. Length is not too important, except that it should exceed the elastic limit of our new object, or it will snap back and disappear when we let go. Let’s call this new concept a line. Now, we have created something that never before existed in this (almost) nothingness.
And, we have given it a new property, a dimension, length.
And, because the line persists, we’ve just created time.
Again, apply a force. Using our hypothetical hands once more, grab this “line” somewhere along its “length” and draw it out in the opposite direction from that length. We have now created a second new object, a “plane”, with a new, second dimension, breadth. Note that it is still invisible, undetectable.
Then, again, apply a force, with those same two hypothetical hands, crumple the plane as you would the cellophane wrapper from a Christmas gift. The invisible sheet has acquired two new attributes. It now has 3 dimensions – and parts of it are now visible. The points, the ridges, even some of the surfaces now reflect the photons striking them back to our still hypothetical perceptive organs.
The cellophane doesn’t necessarily stay crumpled when the force is removed. It may have a memory of its previously invisible state and try to return there (at a different level, (we would call this process increasing entropy). In the world of the cellophane wrapper this leveling may be delayed, since some more or less enduring distortion may have occurred. In the larger word of thin sheets of steel, such crumpling gives rise to heat and other radiation as the material itself is distorted by crumpling. We might want to consider this as another explanation of what happens in our microcosmic world as well. But if the crumpled sheet endures in this new state, it is likely that it is obeying some fundamental law that relates to the relationships of elements in its makeup.
None of this obscures what we have accomplished, however. “Even as a God”, we have created a universe out of, seemingly, nothing, in this “empty” space. Note that this whole process involved no explosions.
Almost as plausible as the “big bang”? Perhaps. Unfortunately, it shares the something from nothing characteristic, so we must discard it except in fiction or poetry, perhaps, and it also requires an outside force (an intelligent designer, maybe?) to come into being.
This has been brought to you as another product of The Contemplative Mind.