Pharyngula

Frank Tipler claims to have proven the existence of god with phyics. Will this be the sort of answer we’ll see in Ray Comfort’s promised 13 minute proof?

Notice that we don’t actually get to see the infamous equation. We see Tipler scribble a few words like “quantum” (does the word “quantum” actually appear imbedded in the formulas describing quantum mechanics?) and a few bits and pieces of math, and then the camera lingers on him writing “= god exists”, but there isn’t any substance shown. He says stuff like, “If you are using quantum mechanics and general relativity, you are forced to conclude that god exists,” but we never get a summary beyond the assertion.

I tried to find the equation on the net — it ought to be there, somewhere, right? He was scribbling it up quickly on a single large chalkboard, so it must be reasonably concise. Alas, the closest I could come was this plain English summary:

Tipler then concludes that life must be present to the end, using a string of complex and partly circular arguments: black holes evaporate, this would violate ‘unitarity, a fundamental law of quantum mechanics’ (nowhere in books on quantum theory, not even in Tipler’s book, do I find ‘unitarity’ mentioned), so universe must collapse, but ‘event horizons’ would force information and entropy to approach zero, this contradicts second law, thus event horizons do not exist, thus information goes to infinity, thus the universe is closed and goes to final singularity, but without life this would yield an infinitely improbable state, this contradicts second law, thus life must be present to guide universe to final singularity, thus event horizons are absent.

Biology has something to do with black holes? What? This guy is a kook. I’m not even going to bother with his claims to have proven the trinity and the truth of some brand of Christianity. You’ll also have to read Victor Stenger’s review of one of his books — Tipler is one weird dude.

Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron are going to have to do much better than that. I didn’t even feel an urge to rise from my chair from that, let alone kneel down and worship the Cosmic Pixie.

(via richarddawkins.net)

Comments

  1. #1 OsakaGuy
    May 6, 2007

    Sorry, I just put this in the previous post, but I attended the taping of the debate last night. I posted my report of the event on the Richard Dawkins Net forum:

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14055

  2. #2 Sastra
    May 6, 2007

    Colugo wrote (#13):

    If declarations of God’s nonexistence are regarded as part of normal science (rather than off-hours ‘big picture’ handwaving, like other aspects of one’s personal worldview), then pro-God counterarguments must also be admitted as scientific discourse.

    But of course pro-God arguments should be admitted as scientific discourse! There is no reason to assume upfront that if God exists it would leave no good evidence for its existence in Nature. In fact, we should expect the opposite. Do we just assume atheism no matter what, or should we be prepared to change our minds if warranted? The same holds for astrology and vitalism. They’re not “outside of scientific discourse” either. They are (provisionally) wrong.

    What’s significant about Tipler’s argument is that it CAN be made, and we could in theory find out that, by God, it works! I think this “God is outside of scientific examination” NOMA is b*llsh*t. It sounds like paranormalists who fail legitimate tests backtracking on whether or not they can be “tested” — well, yes, but only if we succeed in positively demonstrating our claim. Otherwise, no. Heads we win, tails you lose.

    (And, btw, the pro-God science arguments came first — Stenger and others naturalists making scientific arguments are responding. “New Atheism.”)

    And the press will report on it as if there is an active ongoing debate on theism within the scientific community.

    There is indeed an active debate going on in the scientific community. And Naturalism is kicking Supernaturalism’s butt. Science and Faith are only kept separate to protect religion from the kind of shredding it gets when taken seriously, as making actual claims about reality which have some sort of factual content. NOMA is a desperate attempt to save face, and would eagerly be discarded for the sham it is if Tipler manages to come up with a convincing physics theory demonstrating the existence of God.

  3. #3 Colugo
    May 6, 2007

    Sastra: “Do we just assume atheism no matter what, or should we be prepared to change our minds if warranted?”

    We can assume atheism/metaphysical naturalism or some other metaphysics as part of a personal philosophy, but these are not scientific conclusions.

    The distinction between metaphysical and methodological naturalism (the “MN Wall”) is less easily dismissed than NOMA. Some have apparently concluded that the MN Wall is a device designed to protect religion from scientific inquiry. I don’t see it that way at all. Its most important function is to protect science from being tainted by metaphysical speculation and flights of fancy.

    The various utterances of New Atheists, Intelligent Design advocates, and theistic evolutionists alike on the true nature of reality and the meaning of it all may, in a particular case, be wise or it may be risible – but in no instance is it science.

  4. #4 Torbjörn Larsson. OM
    May 6, 2007

    This is an unwieldy subject, especially without having read Tipler’s books.

    But to start with the reviews, Bonting seems to be a theologian without sufficient background to analyze Tipler’s arguments. He doesn’t know about such elementary properties of QM as unitarity, he describes singularities as inhabiting a point in time, et cetera. When Tipler describes Bonting’s depiction as “inaccurate”, it is probably a fair assessment.

    Stenger is instead well positioned to discuss Tipler, and seems to do so well. He promptly describes the ideas as old hat, and notes that the big crunch isn’t currently expected to happen. (Cosmologists are instead discussing if the converse singularity, the big rip, is likely. See for example Rob Knop’s recent post “The Big Rip : an end to the Universe without recollapse”.)

    He also notes that Tipler’s view means a fully naturalistic description of gods, souls and afterlife, and that theologists like Bonting will probably not have any of it. It is, as Collins’ and Miller’s efforts, simply bad theology. Further, since Tipler’s rapture is equivalent to a simulation, and as Stenger notes it is much easier to posit and more likely to occur that we already lives in one.

    I like that Stenger can both trivialize Tipler’s achievements and implicitly point him out as a nitwit by a proxy. “I am not sure he isn’t pulling our legs.” Yes, I wonder too.

  5. #5 Torbjörn Larsson. OM
    May 6, 2007

    So what do we get of Tipler’s argument, without reading his book? Not much.

    Notice that we don’t actually get to see the infamous equation.

    Apparently he wrote down the standard formulation of GR as an illustration. Reading Stenger’s interview, it seems Tipler’s argument is long and complex, riding on a lot of assumptions, and not amenable for a single line statement. Assumptions that furthermore is currently believed to be wrong.

    Biology has something to do with black holes?

    So you haven’t seen Smolin’s idea of “Fecund universes” (or, inaptly, “Cosmological natural selection”), which features evolution twice!? ;-)

    First, it incorporates a mechanism similar to selection to replace the anthropic principle for multiverses. Smolin uses the idea that black holes may spawn new universes. Thus, the universes that maximizes black hole production will dominate statistically.

    Second, universes that makes black holes are obviously also good for producing life.

    That black holes can spawn baby universes was later rethought. Smolin’s idea has other problems as well.

    Btw, as Smolin himself notes, processes that are similar to evolution are attractive because they can in principle be described from local behavior and statistics. (For example the anthropic principle has problems here.) In that perspective evolution is an ingenious invention by nature. :-)

  6. #6 windy
    May 6, 2007

    Sastra wrote: But of course pro-God arguments should be admitted as scientific discourse! There is no reason to assume upfront that if God exists it would leave no good evidence for its existence in Nature. In fact, we should expect the opposite. Do we just assume atheism no matter what, or should we be prepared to change our minds if warranted?

    This is exactly the point I have been trying to make for Colugo for a while now. NOMAists seem much more dogmatic and smug than “new atheists” could ever be, since they assume a priori undetectability of the supernatural. As far as I can see this assumption is either groundless or based on observations and science, but they then proceed to bash atheists for applying observations and science to god-belief.

  7. #7 Torbjörn Larsson. OM
    May 6, 2007

    Part of Tipler’s argument seems to be as Stenger says old hat, but it can be illustrative to see where his assumptions (as related here) deviates from current expectations.

    black holes evaporate, this would violate ‘unitarity, a fundamental law of quantum mechanics’

    I see in the thread several claims to the effect that “quantum mechanics and general relativity results in anything but total confusion “. That is wrong, and it was the genius of Hawking to demonstrate one of the first breakthroughs here.

    First, both QM and GR have several known shared characteristics.

    They both obey thermodynamics, locally. (Locally, since GR doesn’t admit describing total energy.)

    They both obey special relativity. locally. (Locally, due to GR again. And relativistic QM formulations are somewhat difficult at times, for example as QFT’s.)

    Second, gravity can be quantized. In fact, Distler describes this in an elegant post:

    It’s often said that it is difficult to reconcile quantum mechanics (quantum field theory) and general relativity. That is wrong. We have what is, for many purposes, a perfectly good effective field theory description of quantum gravity. It is governed by a Lagrangian

    which he shows but I will spare you here. ;-)

    In other words, as an effective field theory, gravity is no worse, nor better, than any other of the effective field theories we know and love.

    The trouble is that all hell breaks loose for ? ~ 1. Then all of these infinite number of coupling become equally important, and we lose control, both computationally and conceptually.

    Third, in different reconciliations so called “semi-classical” theories are used to combine different aspects of QM and GR. Hawking’s description of black hole evaporation is one such, inflationary cosmologies is another, CMB anisotropy is yet another, et cetera.

    Since this comment is too long already, I will continue later.

  8. #8 Sastra
    May 6, 2007

    Colugo:

    We can assume atheism/metaphysical naturalism or some other metaphysics as part of a personal philosophy, but these are not scientific conclusions.

    They can be. There are all sorts of paranormal/supernatural claims which are testable. People have actually set up and performed experiments hoping to get positive results, and had they done so we would have had to accept them. One can also easily imagine fictional scenarios where disembodied souls, reincarnation, ESP, PK, angels, the existence of God, Vitalistic Energy Fields, Cosmic Consciousness, miracles, and the Force are evident, testable, repeatable, and not in question, scientific or otherwise. There’s nothing in scientific method which rules them out upfront. Given clear definitions for what would be “supernatural” (and not just constantly shifting goalposts on ‘what we know’), both materialism and naturalism are falsifiable.

    That makes atheism/metaphysical naturalism a “working theory,” not an unprovable metaphysics which holds no matter what the evidence. Strong scientific support like a viable Tipler’s theory — or even strong empirical evidence like Jesus coming down from the clouds (or Coke cans spontaneously forming themselves)– would force most atheists to change. I would.

    I think that what you want to say is that Theism/Metaphysical Supernaturalism is a “personal philosophy” and it only seems fair to treat both sides equally. It’s “outside of science” like “I love my mother,” “share with the less fortunate,” “chocolate tastes better than vanilla” or “Tra-la-la.” Except that we can’t think of what it would mean to determine if those statements are true or false — but we can imagine God/Supernatural being true, and being scientifically verified. Tipler can certainly imagine it. Perhaps he can tighten up the math and make it work.

    So I suspect there is a category error in there somewhere.

  9. #9 Torbjörn Larsson. OM
    May 6, 2007

    So, where there we? Oh, yes:

    black holes evaporate, this would violate ‘unitarity, a fundamental law of quantum mechanics’

    So we can combine GR and QM in some cases. Hawking did that for black holes.

    A black hole curves space so severely by its gravitation that it is surrounded by an event horizon. This is where light or any other signals or matter future will inexorably be inside the horizon, there is no path out.

    The horizon is not a specific surface with high curvature or any other recognizable feature. But as I understand it, Hawking and others come to understand that it would also swallow some of the virtual particles that vacuum always produce temporarily. The remainder would radiate as thermal Hawking radiation.

    So not surprisingly black holes obey thermodynamics, they have a temperature and an entropy. But they have not much else besides that – a mass, momenta, angular momenta, and a charge. All other information about the matter that formed the hole or later sucked in is hidden behind the horizon. Famously, “Black holes have no hair.”

    Hmm. Seems a coffee break is coming up. The remaining information is sucked up by the black coffee horizon, for now. ;-)

  10. #10 Colugo
    May 6, 2007

    Sastra: “I think that what you want to say is that Theism/Metaphysical Supernaturalism is a “personal philosophy” and it only seems fair to treat both sides equally.”

    They just shouldn’t be regarded as science.

    Some on both sides of the theist-atheist aisle want to see a fight to the finish over God in the scientific arena, not just within the philosophical and public spheres where the debate should have stayed. In order to do that, these metaphysical muddlers want to break down the MN Wall. As the saying goes: “Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.”

    Chris-Ho Stuart is more eloquent than I; please read this post, including the exchange with PZ in the comments.
    http://duoquartuncia.blogspot.com/2007/05/is-dsouza-really-redefining-evolution.html

  11. #11 David Marjanovi?
    May 6, 2007

    Second, universes that makes black holes are obviously also good for producing life.

    That part is testable: find a neutron star more than 1.5 times as heavy as the sun, and it’s falsified.

    That black holes can spawn baby universes was later rethought. Smolin’s idea has other problems as well.

    Could you elaborate? Smolin seems not to have been convinced.

  12. #12 David Marjanovi?
    May 6, 2007

    Second, universes that makes black holes are obviously also good for producing life.

    That part is testable: find a neutron star more than 1.5 times as heavy as the sun, and it’s falsified.

    That black holes can spawn baby universes was later rethought. Smolin’s idea has other problems as well.

    Could you elaborate? Smolin seems not to have been convinced.

  13. #13 David Marjanovi?
    May 6, 2007

    Man, did I underestimate the traffic here…

    Second, gravity can be quantized.

    I remember having read about an experiment where people took a neutron and let it drop a few micrometers. It fell stepwise. Cool, no?

  14. #14 David Marjanovi?
    May 6, 2007

    Man, did I underestimate the traffic here…

    Second, gravity can be quantized.

    I remember having read about an experiment where people took a neutron and let it drop a few micrometers. It fell stepwise. Cool, no?

  15. #15 Sastra
    May 6, 2007

    Colugo (post #68):
    Thank you for the url, I found it interesting, but still disagree.

    Briefly, I would compare the issue of God to Mind-Body Substance duality. Both of them are believed in due to an intuitive “feel” that they’re correct. Doesn’t it seem as if Intelligence and Mind are special “things” which exist apart from the flesh, brain, and matter? Shouldn’t it be possible for mind to create and move matter, all by itself, or to leave the body? Look at all the stories and testimonials that this has happened. Intuition + Anecdotes = Reasonable Belief.

    But our scientific discoveries did not confirm our common sense expectations, and we have better explanations for why people would believe in miracles and psychic powers than that they really exist. Yes, someone can always say that the disembodied consciousness always “works” through the brain, but it’s unevidenced, unnecessary, and only held on to because it’s a failed hypothesis which still “feels right” contra the evidence.

    Materialism and Naturalism can be scientifically falsified. I agree that tacking God uselessly behind “how nature works” or tacking souls behind “how the brain works” is not science — but that’s not because it’s a question from some other realm, some totally different area. It started out in this realm, and was inferred from evidence. A better explanation came along, and it was adopted without abandoning what it replaced. That isn’t science … because it isn’t honest.

  16. #16 Torbjörn Larsson. OM
    May 6, 2007

    Well, well. It does take time to discuss what kooks can throw out in a single sentence.

    black holes evaporate, this would violate ‘unitarity, a fundamental law of quantum mechanics’

    So we know that “Black holes have no hair.”

    Now, this is a problem. If black holes radiate their energy (Hawking), they will eventually evaporate. As Dustin and Erik explained, QM demands unitarity, essentially conservation, and especially conservation of probability. (No “poof!” in physics. :-) So where did the entropy information go?

    AFAIK the problem, closer described by Erik, is still standing. As we can see in the link above, while Hawking radiation has entropy physicists seems to know too little about QG to impress the black hole entropy on it. (Since Erik mentioned the details, IIRC they are trying to get a handle on the horizon description.)

    Some went so far to suggest that unitarity is violated. But most physicists don’t think so. Hawking himself seems to have resolved the problem in his mind lately. He choose to admit defeat in a bet about evaporation and unitarity violation, and gave out a paper with his (semi-classical) resolution.

    Specifically, I think earlier explicit entropy violation formulations for black holes with string theory has been replaced with ideas where black holes are giant coherent quantum states, fuzzballs.

    Samir Mathur of Ohio State University calculated that the event horizon of a fuzzball agrees with the current theory of black holes, but in one way it is different. The event horizon of a black hole is very precise and strict while in a fuzzball the event horizon is very much like a mist; it is fuzzy, hence the name ‘fuzzball’.

    As described earlier a fuzzball doesn’t have a prominent singularity at its center, and so the destruction of data that is the essence of a black hole no longer exists in a fuzzball. Instead the data from the fuzzball marks the strings that carry the information in vibrations. These data can be given out by the escape of Hawking radiation.

  17. #17 Colugo
    May 6, 2007

    Sastra:

    “I would compare the issue of God to Mind-Body Substance duality. … (S)omeone can always say that the disembodied consciousness always “works” through the brain, but it’s unevidenced, unnecessary…”

    I think that’s an apt comparison. There is no evidence for either the soul or God and there’s no need for those hypotheses. 250 years ago La Mettrie argued that the fact that physical factors affect mental functioning obviates the soul concept. And a theistic-supernaturalist naysayer could always posit that despite the lack of evidence or explanatory necessity, there is some kind of undetectable but causal correspondence between these hypothetical entities and observable phenomena.

    However, I would argue that we should therefore forget all about the soul as far as science is concerned rather than making declarative statements one way or another. Look, we all know that the soul is just a whimsical trifle, unless we want to redefine the soul so it fits comfortably within a naturalistic cosmos, as with similar redefinitions of God and spirituality.

    “Materialism and Naturalism can be scientifically falsified.”

    Sure, with Christ coming down from the clouds or Cokes being miraculously turned into Pepsis (see Little Nicky). However, Supernaturalism/Theism has an inherent advantage. While a single confirmed supernatural event (which will never happen, of course) would falsify naturalism, the lack of evidence of such phenomena does not falsify supernature. One could legitimately argue that even if it is never truly falsified, it’s still useless, which is just as bad as well as being operationally equivalent. That’s fine.

    However, that just reconfirms methodological naturalism as the proper – and only legitimate – scientific approach, and metaphysical naturalism as the, in my view, most defensible philosophical (not scientific) perspective. But metaphysical naturalism is not the sole valid view as far as science is concerned, but science is properly indifferent to metaphysics.

    Do we really want to see theistic science (and atheist metaphysics) regularly leaking out of Zygon and other “science & philosophy & theology & the kitchen sink” journals into mainstream science journals? Not just theistic evolution either – Singularity millennialism, the Biocosm hypothesis, nested virtual realities, and who knows what else. That’s a big can of ontological worms.

  18. #18 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 6, 2007

    David:

    That black holes can spawn baby universes was later rethought. Smolin’s idea has other problems as well.

    Could you elaborate? Smolin seems not to have been convinced.

    I think the spawn process was related to the “white hole” solutions of black holes worming out to, or creating, other spacetimes. The specific details why white holes aren’t seen as a current attractive possibility I can’t remember, but I think Lubos Motls had a criticism on his blog that you can google. I have a vague memory with that it was not derived from string theory.

    The “other problems” are of the type that his environmental principle really has the same problem with admitting a descriptive statistic to make predictions with as the weak anthropic principle. In contrast to natural selection his baby universes doesn’t die. So even though we observe black holes and life “there’s no particular reason that we should be in a universe after many “reproductions” or one that is more primeval”.

    There are other environmental suggestions that may not have this problem, for example Boussou’s et al Causal Entropic Principle, maximizing entropy in the causally connected region (“causal diamond”) of their semiclassical cosmology.

  19. #19 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 6, 2007

    uuups. “Lubos Motls” – Lubos Motl; in case you go googling.

  20. #20 Sastra
    May 6, 2007

    Colugo wrote:

    Do we really want to see theistic science (and atheist metaphysics) regularly leaking out of Zygon and other “science & philosophy & theology & the kitchen sink” journals into mainstream science journals? Not just theistic evolution either – Singularity millennialism, the Biocosm hypothesis, nested virtual realities, and who knows what else. That’s a big can of ontological worms.

    My understanding is that the reason such fringe-science theories have not “leaked out” into mainstream science journals isn’t because there is a strict boundary between science and religion which doesn’t allow them to be considered. It’s because, by and large, they simply don’t have the same clear evidence and argument as mainstream-science theories. If they did, they would be mainstream. And they may yet become so — just as “alternative medicine” can turn into just plain old “medicine” when and if the evidence ever backs it up well enough.

    I still think this argument about keeping “metaphysics” out of science plays right into Phillip Johnson’s conspiracy claims about grumpy scientists refusing to consider all the evidence because they don’t like some conclusions as well as others. Intelligent Design, Parapsychology, and other fringe sciences are not being kept out of mainstream journals because they’re too “metaphysical.” They’re claims about the nature of reality, they’re testable, and they either fit or don’t fit within the existing structure of other theories. That’s not “morals and meaning.”

    Your argument may be based less on real problems with demarcation lines between what lies within the ability of science to address and what doesn’t — and more on practical considerations regarding what the general public is happy to accept as “science-y” enough to pass as good-enough science. People who like the idea that Tipler’s formula proves God will see the crituques above by Tobjorn, Erik, etc as minor quibbling over unimportant details. Critical examination isn’t critical — they’re just being critical.

  21. #21 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 6, 2007

    And finally some words on Tipler’s cosmology, since it isn’t quite as spectacular as it sounds.

    this would violate ‘unitarity, a fundamental law of quantum mechanics’ so universe must collapse,

    I don’t know details about Tipler’s Omega point.

    However, that the future final condition (as a boundary condition) could decide the evolution of cosmology is not a new idea. Again, old hat as Stenger notes.

    Currently I believe Hawking and Hartle presents such cosmologies in the perspective of “the wavefunction of the universe”. However, I think their universe ends in a type of universe (de Sitter) we don’t observe.

    The cosmology and observations we know today seems to preclude a collapse. See the earlier link to Rob Knop.

    Erik:

    the issue here should perhaps be whether or not black hole evaporation is a case of unitary time evolution. AFAIK (I’m not an expert) this is an unresolved question. Has Tipler or anything else argued that black hole evaporation violates thermodynamics?

    Well, if we could trust Bonting, it seems so: “but ‘event horizons’ would force information and entropy to approach zero, this contradicts second law, thus event horizons do not exist”. Sounds a lot like it could be akin to Hawking’s very technical analysis of unitarity. Except coming to the reverse conclusion.

    Parallel to Hawking-Hartle above, a few iconoclastic physicists seem to have taken up old and new ideas around reversibility of microstates and perhaps retarded- and advanced-time solutions to fields, in discussions of the arrow of time. That would presumably have problems with 2LOT. Is that what you think Tipler discusses?

  22. #22 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 7, 2007

    Erik:

    Thanks for the link! As a matter of fact, I had to complement those 10 pages with skimming a 61 (!) page rather technical paper to understand how his interpretation of QM ties into his problem with unitarity. I hope this cold dip into his production will keep me away from his books. :-)

    Since it become pretty involved, I think I will make two comments. The first here about his work in general, and some problems with that. The second around the specifics and some problems with that, answering you.

    In general, Tipler seems to me to be:

    – Technically proficient. (I see Keith agrees.)

    For this layman, he seems both necessarily erudite and able to both model and extract answers where he needs them.

    (Oh, have I forgotten things! Initially, I couldn’t wrap my head around a central point in his QM treatment involving a PDE quite like a Laplacian. A bounded answer on an unbounded volume means Liouville’s theorem gives a constant answer for the Laplacian, and it was applicable for his source-free PDE as well. Duh!)

    And now for the problems. He also seems to be:

    – A world builder.

    Nothing inherently wrong with that perhaps, many physicists are such even though it is mostly more productive to answer specific questions. But his model is more than most a house of cards. Remove a key assumption, and it will all fall.

    – Rambling.

    Both in his short general argumentation paper and the longer technical one he draws in wast amounts of nonessential details not because of its support but because he can treat it in his model.

    – Religiously inclined.

    Even though he professes to be naturalistic, he uses some of the usual methods such as large number reasoning (akin to his anthropic reasoning, I assume). He places unlimited intelligence as needed for his Omega Point treatment. “Once we give up these human ways of thinking, we can appreciate the true relation between intelligent life and the cosmos.”

    I don’t think teleology is needed for him, bit it is one of those nonessential details he injects.

  23. #23 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 7, 2007

    Erik:

    OK, now to answer your question. I think the 2LOT argument is this:

    In the presence of life absence of event horizons are most likely, since it is a necessary requirement for seeing our universe as it is, in Tipler’s model.

    And since the absence of event horizons can’t be unlikely in Tipler’s model, life must be present at the final singularity.

    ————————
    Since I needed to briefly look into Tipler’s model, I will take this opportunity to put my sparse notes on the net to have them handy:

    It seems to me that Tipler’s whole model builds on the problem with unitarity in event horizons. It is such a large machine so I don’t see how to compact it. (Actually, I lost the original pdf on his technical article, and found the arxiv one. It was really 100 pages outside the journal typesetting …)

    Instead, I will go though the main points and comment them as I go.

    – By forbidding event horizons Tipler claims to be parsimoniously consistent with known physics.

    – Zel’dovich seems to have treated event horizons in parallel with Hawking. He modeled proton (i.e. hydrogen) lifetime against the possibility that the vacuum very briefly produces virtual mini black holes. (As every other possible quantum state.) Tipler can conclude that to preserve unitarity he must prevent this, and the universe must be closed.

    Note: I haven’t looked into Zel’dovich model, but I found a comment elsewhere to the effect that he assumed small event horizons are effective. IIRC, I have seen other comments where mini black holes event horizons have virtually zero cross section against particles. Perhaps time to learn how these treatments work. :-)

    – Closedness permits Tipler to make his analysis of the wavefunction of the universe. He reconciles the Copenhagen interpretation with the Many world interpretation. The latter he interprets as deterministic.

    Note: Several problems here. Using interpretations is okay as long as the models produces falsifiable predictions. (And he does.) But he portrays Many worlds as “Multiversas”.

    The determinism in MWI is in the global view, yet he claims the local universe seems deterministic. But even here QM appears as producing genuine finegrained stochasticity at observations.

    Assume he uses a global time operator to later introduce his inverse time operator. Hmm, seems to be totally opposite claim to Bousso’s causal diamond, incidentally introduced to explain observations around event horizons…

    – Tipler uses consistency between Copenhagen interpretation and Many world interpretation to claim recollapse of his “multiverse”. (That was his picture in the video, btw.)

    Note: The Copenhagen interpretation is used to pick a classic sector in the MWI – seems nice. He is also picking a specific Hilbert space (rigged) and specific initial conditions (delta functions) that enforces global classicality everywhere, even into the singularities – not so nice.

    MWI world doesn’t interact – presumably not a problem in the final collapse.

    – Determinism permits to claim future-to-past determinism (causation). This is interpreted as teleology.

    Note: Several problems here. Teleology it becomes later, by introducing intelligence. He doesn’t really use teleology later. He glosses over classical chaos and how it produces coarsegrained randomness.

    – Life speed constraint forces life, surviving by being rare by the Fermi paradox, but wasteful by evolution, to come up with means to empty the universe of matter to produce energy.

    Note: Tipler is arguing against morality and/or intelligence as prohibiting waste and ruthless consumism, merely noting that life speed constraint prohibits “galactic government”.

    He is also mentioning a large number argument by Ayala that intelligent life is improbable. Channeling Dembski.

    Yes, monocellular life is the most successful. No, evolution being symmetric (going any which way) doesn’t preclude asymmetric initial conditions (monocellular life) diffusing to complex niches. A probabilistic model is probably too hard to set up. But, another treatment to check.

    The total matter-to energy conversion relies on ‘his’ unitarity producing an inverse time operator and used on his interpretation of baryogenesis.

    – Tipler uses a result from Penrose that closed universes have zero total energy.

    Note: Unknown treatment to me, vaguely familiar discussion. GR doesn’t permit total energy treatment, so I think Penrose’s result is problematical. In any case, two other treatments to eventually look at.

    – By constant total energy Tipler claims life is forced to resolve the final singularity, which also explains why it must survive that long.

    Note: He must finetune his model so every Hubble volume has one intelligence. He must also assume that the matter-to-energy conversion is highly (totally?) efficient in each volume.

    Final analysis: Funny how all his assumptions in his house of cards model of “Life, the Universe, and Everything” reminds of Ayalas improbability argument…

  24. #24 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 7, 2007

    This must be my day of mega commentaries. Time to cut back now. ;-)

    Erik:

    And since the absence of event horizons can’t be unlikely in Tipler’s model, life must be present at the final singularity.

    Sorry, I forgot: life must be present, since it’s actions prevent the final singularity to become an event horizon.

    Chuck:

    In case Tipler hasn’t heard, the universe is NOT closed. In the late 1990s they discovered that the rate of expansion of the universe is actually increasing. Cosmology has been grasping for explanations, and trotted out the old cosmological constant, or dark energy, as a possibility.

    Tipler is familiar with these developments. In fact, if you look into the paper Erik linked to you will see that he uses the acceleration in expansion and the cosmological constant.

    Among other things, as evidence for his baryogenesis – ‘anti-baryogenesis’ treatment. In fact, he claims that his 1994 book predicted an acceleration, but in his recollapse phase (presumably prolonging what he thinks is inevitable).

    Ollie:

    As already briefly mentioned, if he was somehow able to use both quantum mechanics AND general relativity, he’d be up for the nobel prize. This would mean achievement of the Grand Unified Theory (not to be confused with the Theory of Everything).

    GUT theories seems to combine gauge descriptions except GR, and some predicts the GUT scale – when the effective forces except gravitation comes together. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_unified_theory )

    So I don’t see how theories describing this combines QM and GR.

    Quantum gravity (QG) is the usual shorthand for combining GR with QM. TOE is the usual shorthand for combining all known effective forces (with QM). In string theory, QG and TOE is probably the same thing – it seems you can’t do one without the other.

  25. #25 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    May 7, 2007

    I still cannot make sense of Tipler’s argument concerning event horizons (how does the event horizons of the black holes disappear? apparently they neither remain nor evaporate…).

    I think he doesn’t let them evaporate, and relies on “intelligent life” to resolve the final singularity. But as you I find him hard to follow here, I can’t find any explicit claim.

    On the general definition I sort of agree, but Tipler could make an operative definition because he specifies in detail what he demands.

    Incidentally, your question makes me realise a consistency problem in his treatment. He notes that intelligence is rare because evolution can go any which way. We observe intelligence today, but it could disappear later.

    Now, in his ‘teleology’ he needs intelligent life, and speculate or assume ‘more intelligence’. Where did the “any which way” go?

    In any case, it was interesting to see what he did. It wasn’t as ill considered as I thought, but it was still impossibly tenuous.

    And far from main stream and where current observations and models takes us. Nothing interesting, I think.

  26. #26 James Redford
    January 6, 2008

    PZ Myers, Prof. Sjoerd L. Bonting is not a physicist, and his objections to Prof. Frank J. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory come from Bonting’s Christian perspective. As demonstrated in your quote, Bonting is not even aware of unitarity, which is absolutely fundamental to quantum mechanics.

    You obviously didn’t look very hard if the most you were able to find on the internet regarding Prof. Tipler’s Omega Point Theory is that article by Prof. Bonting. Below is one of Tipler’s journal papers on the Omega Point Theory:

    F. J. Tipler, “The structure of the world from pure numbers,” Reports on Progress in Physics, Vol. 68, No. 4 (April 2005), pp. 897-964. http://math.tulane.edu/~tipler/theoryofeverything.pdf Also released as “Feynman-Weinberg Quantum Gravity and the Extended Standard Model as a Theory of Everything,” arXiv:0704.3276, April 24, 2007. http://arxiv.org/abs/0704.3276

    See also:

    “Omega Point (Tipler),” Wikipedia, January 6, 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Omega_Point_%28Tipler%29&oldid=182549075

    “Frank J. Tipler,” Wikipedia, January 5, 2008 http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Frank_J._Tipler&oldid=182407923

    Theophysics http://geocities.com/theophysics/

    Nor is Prof. Tipler a “kook.” Tipler is not only a mathematician, but he’s also a physicist. He is a professor in the departments of Mathematics and Physics (joint appointment) at Tulane University.

    Prof. Tipler obtained his Ph.D. in 1976 from the University of Maryland, College Park in the field of global general relativity (the same rarefied field of Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking).

    As Prof. John A. Wheeler, the father of most relativity research in the U.S., wrote in the Foreword to the 1986 book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by Profs. John D. Barrow and Tipler (and of which is the first book wherein the Omega Point Theory appeared), on pg. viii: “Frank Tipler is widely known for important concepts and theorems in general relativity and gravitation physics.”

    The only way to avoid the Omega Point cosmology is to invent tenuous physical theories which have no experimental support and which violate the known laws of physics, such as with Prof. Stephen Hawking’s paper on the black hole information issue which is dependant on the conjectured string theory-based AdS/CFT correspondence (anti-de Sitter space/conformal field theory correspondence). (See S. W. Hawking, “Information loss in black holes,” Physical Review D, Vol. 72, No. 8, 084013 [October 2005] http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0507171 .)

    That is to say, Prof. Hawking’s paper is based upon invented and unconfirmed laws of physics. It’s an impressive testament to the Omega Point Theory’s correctness, as Hawking realizes that the known laws of physics require the universe to collapse in finite time. Hawking knows quite well that the black hole information issue must be resolved without violating unitarity, yet he’s forced to abandon the known laws of physics in order to avoid unitarity violation without the universe ending in finite time via collapse.

    So we have confirmation from no less than Hawking himself that one can’t get around the universe ending in a collapse in finite time if one sticks to the known laws of physics. The only way to get around that is to invent new laws of physics.

    Whereas the approach of Prof. Tipler and Prof. David Deutch (the formal founder of the field of quantum computation, being the first person to formally describe how quantum computation would work algorithmically; for which work he won the Institute of Physics’ 1998 Paul Dirac Medal and Prize), who has supported the physics of the Omega Point Theory, is different. They both believe we have to take the known laws of physics seriously as true explanations of how the world works, unless said physics are experimentally refuted.

    Some have suggested that the universe’s current acceleration of its expansion obviates the Omega Point. But as Profs. Lawrence M. Krauss and Michael S. Turner point out in “Geometry and Destiny” (General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 31, No. 10 [October 1999], pp. 1453-1459 http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9904020 ), there is no set of cosmological observations which can tell us whether the universe will expand forever or eventually collapse.

    There’s a very good reason for that, because that is dependant on the actions of intelligent life. The known laws of physics provide the mechanism for the universe’s collapse. As required by the Standard Model, the net baryon number was created in the early universe by baryogenesis via electroweak quantum tunneling. This necessarily forces the Higgs field to be in a vacuum state that is not its absolute vacuum, which is the cause of the positive cosmological constant. But if the baryons in the universe were to be annihilated by the inverse of baryogenesis, again via electroweak quantum tunneling (which is allowed in the Standard Model, as B – L is conserved), then this would force the Higgs field toward its absolute vacuum, thereby forcing the universe to collapse. Moreover, this process would provide the ideal form of energy resource and rocket propulsion during the colonization phase of the universe.

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