“Despite its name, the big bang theory is not really a theory of a bang at all. It is really only a theory of the aftermath of a bang.” -Alan Guth

So you finally understand it. The Big Bang tells us that the Universe was hotter, denser, and expanding at a faster rate in the past.

Image credit: original source unknown.

Image credit: original source unknown.

The farther back we go, the closer together everything was, the higher in temperature (and shorter in wavelength) all the radiation was, and — of course — the younger the Universe was.

Image credit: Ned Wright (possibly Will Kinney, too), via http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/.

Image credit: Ned Wright (possibly Will Kinney, too), via http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/.

At some point, it was hot enough that neutral atoms couldn’t even form; as soon as an electron would find an atomic nucleus, a high-enough-energy photon would come along and ionize the atom’s constituents. In fact, you can go back even farther, to when it was hotter and denser, and atomic nuclei themselves couldn’t form, creating just a sea of protons and neutrons.

Image credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Image credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In an even hotter and denser state, protons and neutrons decompose into quarks and gluons, collisions at high enough energies will allow the spontaneous creation of equal amounts of matter and antimatter, and energy, temperature, density, and the expansion rate will all increase tremendously.

But not indefinitely; we can only go back a finite amount of time in the past, and that’s because what we consider “our Universe” didn’t begin from a singularity 13.8 billion years ago, but began when the previous stage — cosmic inflation — came to an end.

Image credit: Ned Wright.

Image credit: Ned Wright.

Inflation is a period of time where the Universe was expanding exponentially. Rather than being filled with matter, antimatter, radiation, and a teensy, tiny bit of energy inherent to space itself (today’s dark energy), the Universe’s energy content was completely dominated by energy inherent to space. Space was expanding exponentially, the quantum fluctuations that occur, which normally stay localized in our Universe today, are stretched out across the Universe, and cause the slight imperfections in energy density that permeate our observable Universe.

Image credit: Ned Wright, via http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmo_04.htm.

Image credit: Ned Wright, via http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmo_04.htm.

When inflation ended, that energy — through a process called reheating — was transferred from space into matter/antimatter/radiation, and that’s where the hot big bang comes from! The fluctuations gave rise to slight irregularities in the matter/antimatter/radiation density, and that’s where all the cosmic structure in the Universe — clusters, galaxies, stars, and us — came from.

Image credit: Cosmic Inflation by Don Dixon.

Image credit: Cosmic Inflation by Don Dixon.

So, knowing that, let’s talk about how inflation works.

Images credit: ESA & the Planck Collaboration (top), Planck Collaboration: P. A. R. Ade et al., 2013, A&A Preprint (bottom).

Images credit: ESA & the Planck Collaboration (top), Planck Collaboration: P. A. R. Ade et al., 2013, A&A Preprint (bottom).

According to Planck, the satellite that measures the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, the simplest, slow-roll inflation models are the ones that are most favored by the data. I can represent inflation as a very specific type of hill: when you’re at the top of the hill, that’s when inflation occurs; when you roll down the hill into the valley, that’s when inflation ends, reheating occurs, and the hot big bang that begins our known Universe occurs.

Image credit: me, created using Google's graph tool. It's pretty good!

Image credit: me, created using Google’s graph tool. It’s pretty good!

This type of graph represents the potential for the field that causes inflation. (The vertical axis is related to energy, the horizontal axis is arbitrary.) I will come right out and admit:

  • We do not know whether the field is a true quantum field, in which case there should be a particle associated with it: the inflaton, which we haven’t discovered.
  • Above, I have modeled inflation as a scalar field. It does not have to be a scalar field; it could be a spinor, vector, or tensor field, but we model it as a scalar for simplicity.
  • There is no reason for the field to start at the flat part; in principle, it could have started anywhere. But in order for inflation to work, it needs to start out at the flat part.

In fact, in order for inflation to work properly, the central, flat part of this potential needs to be very flat.

Image credit: me, using Google graph again.

Image credit: me, using Google graph again.

An upside-down parabola, show in blue, above, is not flat enough. Inflation needs enough time to stretch the Universe out — stretch it flat, stretch it so that it’s the same temperature everywhere, stretch it good — and only then can it roll down the hill, transfer the energy into matter/antimatter/radiation, and create the Universe as we know it!

Now, the evidence in our Universe — from looking at structure, but most convincingly from looking at the Planck data — tells us that either this exact thing (or something hitherto indistinguishable from it) actually happened.

Image credit: Planck Collaboration: P. A. R. Ade et al., 2013, A&A preprint; annotations by me.

Image credit: Planck Collaboration: P. A. R. Ade et al., 2013, A&A preprint; annotations by me.

The big question, the one we’d love to be able to answer scientifically, is how?

How did inflation occur? One of the mind-numbing things about inflation — both its great power and its great mystery — is the fact that inflation wipes out any information that existed about the Universe before inflation. That’s right, except for the last 10-20-to-10-36 seconds of inflation (depending on the exact model parameters you choose), we have zero information in our Universe today about what happened prior to that.

If we want to talk about what happened earlier, such as in earlier stages of inflation, hypothetically what (if anything) came before inflation, or what (if anything) caused inflation to start, we have to rely on theory alone at this point. There are those who throw up their hands and cry that this problem is insurmountable; I say let’s at least give credit where it’s due: to two ways we know it can work!

Image credit: David Hochberga, Carmen Molina-Parı́sc, Juan Pérez-Mercader, Matt Visser.

Image credit: David Hochberga, Carmen Molina-Parı́sc, Juan Pérez-Mercader, & Matt Visser.

One is if the potential changed form as the Universe aged during inflation. There are plenty of potentials that do this in many branches of physics, particularly when the energy of a system drops over time. (Which is what happens in a matter/radiation-dominated, time-evolving Universe!) But this is not a given.

What’s often cited as a far more likely possibility is to consider that, when the Universe was at a higher energy at an earlier time, different regions of space had different values of the potential, since they were indistinguishable. It’s sort of like if you flooded the graph, below, with some type of fluid that filled it up to the dotted thick line.

Image credit: me, using Google graph and a little editing.

Image credit: me, using Google graph and a little editing.

In most regions, if the energy-level (the level of the dotted line) is allowed to drop, inflation won’t occur, or the wrong type of inflation will occur. You’ll get no inflation if you’re over the valleys, you’ll get the wrong type if you’re near the high edges, but you’ll get the right type if you’re near the center.

But are you likely to get the right typeYes, yes you are. Here’s why.

Image credit: me.

Image credit: me.

When a region of the Universe undergoes exponential expansion, it creates more Universe in every region that’s expanding exponentially. Regions that expand any other way get swamped. Here’s an example, if you start with a region of radiation-dominated spacetime with a certain amount of energy, the volume of space it takes up will grow, over time according to the sequence:

  • 1, 2.8, 5.2, 8, 11.2, …

On the other hand, if that same region is inflation-dominated spacetime with the exact same amount of energy, then the volume of space it takes up grows according to this sequence:

  • 1, 8, 64, 512, 4096, …

You can see that both sequences go to infinity, but one of them goes to infinity much faster than the other! So now let’s come back to our potential.

Image credit update: Narlikar and Padmanabhan, retrieved from Ned Wright, edits by me.

Image credit update: Narlikar and Padmanabhan, retrieved from Ned Wright, edits by me.

If you’re at the flat part of the potential, you roll down it slowly, so you spend more time there, so even if just a tiny, tiny fraction of your initial Universe starts over the flat part, after much, much less than even one second elapses, now 99.9+% of the Universe that exists after inflation exists where the slowly-rolling part of the potential was.

But that’s assuming inflation was a classical field, which I just told you it probably isn’t. It’s probably a quantum field. Which makes the story far more interesting.

Image credit update: Narlikar and Padmanabhan, retrieved from Ned Wright, edits by me.

Image credit update: Narlikar and Padmanabhan, retrieved from Ned Wright, edits by me.

Because quantum fields spread out over time! This means that some of the new regions that get created, due to this quantum spreading effect, will actually have their inflaton field higher up on the flat part than they were before; this is the beauty of having a slowly-rolling, flat potential!

So inflation doesn’t just happen “more-likely-than-not” the way we think it should, inflation lasts an eternity, and 99.999999999…% of the regions of the Universe where inflation does end will look just like ours does!

Image credit: me.

Image credit: me.

These things have some fun names: the idea that the field could have started anywhere (the diagram with the black, dotted line over the potential) is known as chaotic inflation, while the idea that the inflaton is a quantum field, spreading out, and will persist for an eternity, is known as eternal inflation. For those of you interested in the Nobel Prize politics, this is very likely why, if a Nobel is ever awarded for inflation, it will go to Alan Guth and Andrei Linde as the two theorists; Guth for inventing the idea, Linde for chaotic and eternal inflation developments, with perhaps (speculatively?) the P.I. of Planck getting the third slot.

What happened since the end of inflation, that we understand pretty well.

Image credit: ESA and the Planck collaboration.

Image credit: ESA and the Planck collaboration.

But did inflation truly exist for an eternity into the past? Was there a state before inflation? A singularity? A Bunch-Davies vacuum that inflation came from? The information to know the answers to those questions might not exist within our Universe. For now, though, this is what we know, and I hope you enjoyed sharing it with me!

Comments

  1. #1 David
    April 19, 2013

    When inflation ends and energy is transferred to matter, what kind of coupling is there between the inflation field and ordinary matter fields? Is that one of the known forces, or something else entirely?

  2. #2 uke
    Queen Creek, AZ USA
    April 19, 2013

    How do you keep your sanity ruminating over this stuff all the time? I mean, Holy Crap. Thanks so much for putting this out there.

    BTW You’re making Baby Jeebus cry. You know that, right?

  3. #3 Daniel
    Aurora CO
    April 19, 2013

    if the entirety of space-time is expanding how does the speed of light remain constant? How can we determine the age of anything – if space-time is expanding shouldn’t time pass more slowly with every passing moment?

  4. #4 Perry Ismangil
    Sheffield, UK
    April 19, 2013

    Would the inflaton particle still exist today? And assuming we have a perfect detector, we will be able to find it?

  5. #5 Sascha Vongehr
    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme/100_million_times_slower_light_lameness_cosmic_inflation-70864
    April 20, 2013

    You seem to somewhat misinterpret the QM field spreading in eternal inflation, i.e. you confuse multiverse and many worlds (MW). The dead and alive cats are not in (spatially) different regions of the universe – their superposition is in the same box at the same spot. Equally, the MW in eternal inflation due to the spreading QM fields are not all different regions like the different universes in a classical stringtheory multiverse can be (meaningfully *spatially*). The “different” universes due to QM spreading (not due to different initially assumed regions, but specifically focussing on the *QM* spreading) in eternal inflation are, much like different possible observed particle locations due to a spreading WF are all due to one and the same particle (one location per thus distinguished Everett *observer*), the same damn universe with its ‘parallel worlds’. This holds on the level of description where we assume different regions initially (to get started describing). Of course, they are also the same in a more fundamental description like tautological model realism (TMR).

  6. #6 Sascha Vongehr
    http://www.science20.com/alpha_meme
    April 20, 2013

    Sorry, I meant tautological modal realism, not “model realism”.

  7. #7 Peter Smith
    April 20, 2013

    And in 100 years time we will have another 200 speculative theories about what happened prior to the end of cosmic inflation, none of them observable or testable, because, as Ethan says, all information has been erased. This is where science ends and philosophy begins. Some of us are not surprised.

  8. #8 Tihomir
    April 20, 2013

    Ethan, you’ve written about the subject before, and with each new article some aspects are getting clearer and some new questions arise. For example, if the inflation must have happened before the big bang, this would imply that the space/time was created (by inflation) BEFORE any matter (by the big bang). If matter and energy can be converted into one another (e=mc^2), does that mean there was no energy in space/time at all before the big bang? Did space/time have no inherent energy before bb? Or, if it did, was it some kind of energy inconvertible to mass and e=mc^2 was invalid yet because the big bang hasn’t occurred yet? We have theories about the smallest quantum of energy, and even the smallest quantum of space/time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_length) so I’d appreciate it if you could elaborate the interconnection between space/time and energy, if there is any.
    Thanks!

  9. #9 Kenny A. Chaffin
    April 20, 2013

    Thanks! Very well written and presented.

  10. #10 Wow
    April 20, 2013

    “if the entirety of space-time is expanding how does the speed of light remain constant?”

    From the photon’s point of view, no time or distance appears in the travel between the point of production and the point of absorption. If no time passes, then there’s no time for any expansion of the distance to manifest and change the speed required to move between these two events.

    Close enough an explanation for government work.

  11. #11 Filip Radulovic
    Madrid
    April 20, 2013

    I had some doubts about the relationship between Big Bang and Inflation, and this post finally cleared them. Thanks.

    Now, as it is sometimes the case in science, one answer leads to another question :) Therefore, I would kindly ask someone to say something about this: if inflation is “a period of time where the Universe was expanding exponentially” and which came to an end, someone might think that the Universe does not expand anymore, but as far as we know this is not the case. So what is the difference (if any) between Cosmic Inflation as an expanding Universe, and expansion that is happening today?

    Cheers

  12. #12 Roger
    April 20, 2013

    Interestingly, I just came over from an atheism discussion on Rosenhouse’s blog. With that reference in mind, I find the earlier mention of dark energy kind of funny. To paraphrase:

    “Dark energy. That stuff that we can’t see, can’t detect, but we KNOW it’s there. It is the energy inherent to the universe itself!”

    I don’t particularly doubt dark energy’s existence. I know it’s supported by our models and our mathematics. I just think it’s funny that one explanation of dark energy depends entirely on our belief in it, rather than our observation of it. You know, like religion. (The OBVIOUS difference is that, should we ever get a better working model of the energy and matter breakdown in the universe, we will use it. If we can prove that we are wrong, and there’s a better structure for the breakdown of our universe, we will shift to that model. Until then, dark energy is our best shot, and according to our models, it works.)

    So no, it’s not a perfect parallel. I just found it an amusing coincidence based on my selected readings this morning.

  13. #13 MandoZink
    Louisville, KY
    April 20, 2013

    Ethan,
    You have said of inflation:
    “before the Universe could be described by the Big Bang model — there was a period where it was dominated by the energy inherent to spacetime itself, and it expanded exponentially.” Could you possibly explain more on that? Analogies may help.

    I noticed David (Comment #1) asked similar questions as to that fundamental and puzzling initial condition of the universe.

    I wonder if you sometime you might elaborate on that definition: “energy inherent to spacetime itself”. What does that consist of ? What might be happening then and there? What is the correlation to Relativity?

    If you could ever write a complete article on this, it would be interesting to hear the speculation on how/where this “beginning” may have erupted. I am guessing that would also enter nebulous areas of multi-universe hypotheses.

    (Note: I am that guy who was stuck in jail with a view of the Paradise/Muhlenberg County TVA coal plant. Still on probation though, for growing my chemo -relief medication. Now at home immersed in physics and doing fine.)

  14. #14 Cliff
    United States
    April 20, 2013

    Regarding the “faster rate in the past” image, I think it came from physicsgg.me: http://goo.gl/8n91f

  15. #15 eric
    April 20, 2013

    …the Universe’s energy content was completely dominated by energy inherent to space…

    …When inflation ended, that energy — through a process called reheating — was transferred from space into matter/antimatter/radiation, and that’s where the hot big bang comes from!

    So, one might say:

    “In the beginning was the dark. And the dark was without form, and void. But then the dark expanded, and gave our universe some of the most important macroscopic properties we observe it to have today. After the dark had done all this heavy lifting, there was light. And the light stole all the credit.”

  16. #16 Wow
    April 20, 2013

    if inflation is “a period of time where the Universe was expanding exponentially” and which came to an end, someone might think that the Universe does not expand anymore

    You quoted two parts to the event:

    1) expanding
    2) exponentially

    and you then forget point #2.

    If it is expanding but not exponentially, then it HAS stopped expanding exponentially, hasn’t it!

  17. #17 Wow
    April 20, 2013

    “Dark energy. That stuff that we can’t see, can’t detect, but we KNOW it’s there. It is the energy inherent to the universe itself!”

    Uh, we CAN detect it. We can figure out how much of it there is too.

    So quite a bit unlike god. At least, any attempt to measure it has been met with failure for all sorts of godbotherer post-hoc rationalisations.

  18. #18 Filip Radulovic
    Madrid
    April 20, 2013

    @ WOW

    That is true, and that did occur to me as a possible explanation. However I have to admit that, at least for me, saying “the Universe is expanding exponentially, which came to an end”, means the end of expansion.

  19. #19 Filip Radulovic
    Madrid
    April 20, 2013

    This was actually how I understood it, but of course I can easily misunderstand things (previous comment).

  20. #20 MandoZink
    Louisville, KY
    April 20, 2013

    In reference to my earlier query, I somehow managed to jump from the previous blog to the comments on this one. Much of what I was wondering is actually covered in this blog. A hazard of too many pages open at once.

  21. #21 Rick DeLano
    April 20, 2013

    “Uh, we CAN detect it. We can figure out how much of it there is too.”

    >> False. We infer it, as a fudge factor by which to bridge the gap between theory and observations. It is neither a predicted, nor an observed, component of physics.

    It is a post-hoc add on.

    It exists at this point only as a term in an equation.

    “So quite a bit unlike god.”

    >> Quite true. Very unlike God, Whose necessary existence had already been derived by the philosophers millennia before the physicists were required to invent dark energy.

    There is of course abundant physical evidence for the *necessary* existence of God, while there is no physical evidence for the *necessary* existence of dark energy whatsoever.

    What dark energy is invented to explain has been shown by Clifton, et al, to be equally attributable to the adoption of a false assumption in our cosmological model (the “Copernican Principle”).

    If we abandon the Copernican Principle and place Earth near the center of an under density or void, we can account for observations without the need for dark energy.

    “At least, any attempt to measure it has been met with failure for all sorts of godbotherer post-hoc rationalisations.”

    >> Certainly it is true that all attempts to measure dark energy have failed, since no one has the slightest clue what it might in fact *be*.

    As above, the ontological status of “dark energy” as of this date is:

    mathematical fudge factor.

  22. #22 dean
    April 20, 2013

    There is of course abundant physical evidence for the *necessary* existence of God”

    That statement alone shows you have no concept of science. Why should anything else you say be taken close to seriously?

  23. #23 crd2
    April 20, 2013

    Perhaps he mistakenly left the ‘un’ off of the word necessary. (If only it were that simple)

  24. #24 crd2
    April 20, 2013

    Can we ban Rick from the comments already? how many more times do I have to listen to him talk about his pet theory. Rick, if your goal it to garner support for your quackery you my friend have chosen the wrong forum. You want to speak with people who are less educated then the typical SWAB reader.

  25. #25 Rick DeLano
    April 20, 2013

    crd2:

    I believe that Ethan has probably received abundant requests to ban me, and who knows?

    He might do so.

    I think he will not, since my points are, after all, legitimate.

    It is always easier to silence someone, than to answer them.

    It is of course often done in the blogosphere (to ban those with whom one disagrees), if one cannot answer the points they raise.

    @dean:

    Yes. The abundant physical evidence for the necessary existence of God is called “the cosmos”.

    It cannot have brought itself into existence.

    The contrary view is a logical absurdity.

  26. #26 Peter Smith
    April 20, 2013

    Why is it that some people with a certain worldview are so anxious to suppress other points of view? Answer the points (substantively) or ignore them. Surely the words won’t creep out of the page to attack you? On occasion I have seen the term ‘fascist liberalism’ bandied about. Perhaps it has some substance after all. Liberalism once had connotations of tolerant debate, a willingness to examine all points of view. Where has that gone?

  27. #27 Agan
    Singapore
    April 21, 2013

    Since the light of stars take so long to reach us, how do we know that we are not seeing the same stars many times over at different times of their lives? Wouldn’t that throw out many of the existing theories?

  28. #28 N.
    April 21, 2013

    It cannot have brought itself into existence.

    God could, then?

    LOL

  29. #29 Dr John Steichen
    Downers grove, IL
    April 21, 2013

    “It cannot have brought itself into existance
    God could then ?”

    Out side of time pre existance has no meaning
    One term for God is. ” I AM ”
    Outside of time God would either exist or not exist.
    But He would not come into existance because that is a time related statement.
    This forum has strengthened my faith or belief, which is beyond the knowable by science as described above, in God.
    Then how can He be known? You ask.
    I am allowed to believe that He has entered space time from outside (extra dimensional ) to reveal himself to his creation.
    And I am thankful for that.

  30. #30 Wow
    April 21, 2013

    “Why is it that some people with a certain worldview are so anxious to suppress other points of view?”

    Why is it that cranks with a whacked-out worldview want their words protected from the just criticism they deserve? And why do the silly little arses insist that ridiculing them is “suppressing” them, despite the ABSOLUTE FACT that the words aren’t suppressed OTHERWISE WE WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO READ THEM TO RIDICULE THEM.

    Seriously, if “Oh, you’re making fun of me!” is suppression, I suggest you go to North Korea and see what suppression is really like, you firstworldproblem-er.

    Liberalism means you’re free to spout whatever crap you like and others are free to laugh uproariously and make fun of it and you.

  31. #31 Wow
    April 21, 2013

    “at least for me, saying “the Universe is expanding exponentially, which came to an end”, means the end of expansion.”

    OK, so don’t YOU say it. Those who are saying it don’t mean “there is no more expansion”, so they are right.

    Please don’t read someone else’s words and then insert your own meaning into them to replace theirs. Any problems encountered are entirely your creation and only you can sort them out.

  32. #32 Wow
    April 21, 2013

    Dick: “I think he will not, since my points are, after all, legitimate.”

    No, that is entirely NOT why you don’t get banned, Dick.

    You don’t get banned because, a bit like Voltaire, he doesn’t agree with any of the crap you produce but will not silence them because they’re just heinously wrong.

    However, you ARE required to go here to play your whacked-out-theories card

    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2012/09/23/weekend-diversion-you-are-responsible-for-what-you-say/

    because this is meant to be used to educate people on the science, not give a forum for idiots and cranks to bullshit everyone and hijack every single fucking thread with their tiresome bollocks.

  33. #33 Wow
    April 21, 2013

    Seriously, Peter, what’s “liberal” about telling people “You can’t make fun of them!” or “You can’t disagree with them”?

    I can understand a conservative wanting to suppress discussion over a beloved topic unless it’s sycophantic in its agreement with the thesis, but it isn’t liberal to do so.

  34. #34 Steven Earl Salmony
    Chapel Hill, NC
    April 21, 2013

    What power (it appears to extend into the highest echelons of science, all the way to the American Academy of Science and The Royal Society) is so unique and seemingly omnipotent that we are stopped at every turn from discussing extant science regarding the human population? Is there not “cultural bias in science” that ultimately determines the boundaries of our thought, analysis and discourse when human beings are the subject of investigation? Perhaps St. Augustine was correct after all when noting, “Men go forth to wonder about the heights of mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the broad flow of the rivers, the vast compass of the oceans, the endless courses of the stars: and yet Men pass by themselves without wondering.”

  35. #35 dean
    April 21, 2013

    “The abundant physical evidence for the necessary existence of God is called “the cosmos”.”

    Goodness. It is always a shock to hear of someone so simple-minded they spout lines that boil down to “I don’t understand any science so it must have been” (then they fill in their favorite deity). I have to wonder why, if the complexity of your favored explanation for the universe comes from ancient goat-herders, you feel the need to hang out in a discussion of science (I am wondering only: please don’t take it as a question/opportunity to spout more of your crap).

  36. #36 dean
    April 21, 2013

    “Why is it that some people with a certain worldview are so anxious to suppress other points of view? ”

    Hmmm. I’m not trying to suppress Rick’s rampant stupidity – he is free to spout it as often as he wants. The fact that it is painful to read, and completely lacking in substance, doesn’t give me the right to stop him.

    However, neither he nor you have the right to tell me that I can’t call him out on his stupidity – or yours, either.

  37. #37 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    April 21, 2013

    Thanks, I _did_ enjoy that!

    I am again struck by the way the inflation potential looks like a cut out of a Higgs field potential as it has been presented to me (a Mexican hat potential). Asa a layman I wouldn’t ascribe too much to such coincidence, only an observation that nature prefers scalar symmetry breakings this way.

    inflation wipes out any information that existed about the Universe before inflation

    Well, it was constructed that way. Yay! =D

    But there are information that could be ‘surviving’ information in a very constrained sense (or perhaps better “caused”).

    - The assymmetry of time, Susskind’s tree level eternal inflation have it sourced as a global property by having terminal vacuums among those seeded by the process.

    - Tentatively something funny is going on with matter-antimatter symmetries as well, which may be caused by the process.

  38. #38 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    April 21, 2013

    Oh, I forgot: not having an x^2 term in the concave potential isn’t terribly “very” flat IMHO. Non-natural perhaps, for the TOE parameter-constraining sense of “natural”.

  39. #39 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    April 21, 2013

    @David: “what kind of coupling is there between the inflation field and ordinary matter fields?”

    I’m completely unqualified to discuss that, but I found this the other day:

    “Physicists and non-physicists might have been puzzled by a distinction that crept into my language above. I separated the simplest models from the arguably most compelling. I added the word “arguably” because I don’t think Muhkanov would make this distinction and neither would some others. However I am someone who would. Let me give you the argument why.

    (In most models) Inflation empties the universe out of everything except the inflaton. That was actually why inflation was invented in the first place. But, when we look at the universe today it definitely isn’t empty of everything except one field. We see hydrogen and lithium and helium and ever more complicated atoms and molecules. If inflation is true and inflation empties the universe of everything except the inflaton field, then, well, clearly everything we see now must have come from the inflaton.

    This means that the inflaton field must interact with us. The interaction might be very weak (in fact it has to be) and it might even be indirect through interactions with other intermediate fields, but sooner or later the energy in the inflaton field must turn into the energy in hydrogen, helium, the CMB, etc.

    This point was raised by Anupam Mazumdar late on Thursday and it is a major problem for the simplest models of inflation. For inflation to work, the energy density during inflation must be almost constant (but not quite). For this to happen the inflationary potential energy function must be almost flat (or, more precisely, must have an almost flat part of it). Any interactions with messy standard model particles will act to destroy this flatness.

    Finding a potential energy function that is stable to this feature is difficult and the simplest inflationary models simply are not stable to it. This means, that even though one can calculate the predictions for the density perturbations generated by these simple models it is very difficult to work out ways of generating our universe’s matter without ruining those predictions, or altering the potential so significantly that inflation would no longer even occur.

    From this perspective the most compelling inflationary models are those that are complete. These models can generate both the density perturbations and the matter in the universe. Such models do exist, though they aren’t without their own (arguably less severe) issues.

    The problem for testing inflation is that these models occur at lower energies than the simplest models and thus the primordial gravitational waves that they generate would never be observable. It is technically possible to write down a complete model of inflation that can generate primordial gravitational waves that Planck will eventually detect, but those models aren’t simple, nor are they particularly compelling.

    Still, time will tell…”

    [ http://trenchesofdiscovery.blogspot.fi/2013/04/the-universe-as-seen-by-planck-days.html ]

    Hope it helps.

  40. #40 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    April 21, 2013

    @Daniel: “how does the speed of light remain constant”.

    The universal speed limit is an indelible part of relativity and hence general relativity. So the theory equations works out that way. (I think, haven’t studied GR, only SR.)

    “if space-time is expanding shouldn’t time pass more slowly with every passing moment?”

    The same goes for time, which is only relative for different observers. But more specifically, it is the volumes of space that expands, time doesn’t come into it that way.

    @Sasha Vongehr: I have no idea why you insert many world theory et cetera. It is ordinary field quantum fluctuations the article describes, and how the process works from that.

  41. #41 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    April 21, 2013

    @Peter Smith: Eternal inflation is testable since the 1980′s, see Weinberg’s work on the cosmological constant.

    [Ethan has complained that it lack dynamics, but I think that dynamic is what we are seeing in the Planck description of field potentials.]

    @Tihomir: “if the inflation must have happened before the big bang, this would imply that the space/time was created (by inflation) BEFORE any matter (by the big bang).”

    As I understand it inflation happens within spacetime. If anything it may be the other way around.

    “does that mean there was no energy in space/time at all before the big bang?”

    I think Krauss noted in his 2009 video about a universe from nothing that inflation can only proceed if the energy density is zero, negative potential energy of gravity balancing the positive (inflation field?) contributions.

    [If not, it is clear that at the time of CMB the flat universe is roughly zero energy density, and you can make a classical argument why a future eternal universe such as observed must be a zero energy entity.

    Also, the potential of discussing how universes tunnels out of false vacuums implies the entity has zero energy I think. If it looks like a spontaneous fluctuation happened from the reference frame of the new universe it is most likely the zero-point energy state, so that is how it will be interpreted I think.

    Finally, I hear Friedmann cosmologies, the ones that have spacetime and, I imagine, some worthwhile extent due to good enough homogeneity, good enough isotropy et cetera - i.e. the only ones we know how to make - are based on a condition of zero energy density.]

  42. #42 Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    April 21, 2013

    Ha, the creationist rambling in the thread combined with the subject of my last comment had me just realize:

    Zero energy universes (which would be the natural implication of zero energy densities on large scale and large times, I would think) _must_ be the result of spontaneous processes, either eternal modulo some nebulous initial condition and/or rolling down or tunneling from previous vacuums. Because if and when it transitions, thermodynamic says a third heat source would insert energy and become visible in the CMB (if a universe results at all, I’m doubtful)!

    But those are the only possible universes. So now WMAP 9 year and Planck 4 year data releases has put it to the point. Either you have a universe. Or you have “gods”. You can’t have both!

    Oh, wow.

  43. #43 Cornel Slenters
    http://www.slenters.ch
    April 21, 2013

    The symbol at the foot of this page reveals the sacred geometry of the universe and that geometry emerges from the most fundamental force known to mankind, namely creative-R, as explained at http://www.slenters.ch We live in a participative universe and our experiences contribute again to a growing consciousness, expanding energy and expanding universe.

  44. #44 Filip Radulovic
    Madrid
    April 21, 2013

    @ WOW

    What I said in my first comment was: “someone might think that the Universe does not expand anymore”. So, I never said that someone is right or wrong about this. I explained what I understood from the part I quoted, and asked for an explanation.

    “Please don’t read someone else’s words and then insert your own meaning into them to replace theirs.”
    This is called misunderstanding. Even you do it sometimes!

  45. #45 Wow
    April 21, 2013

    Then you said you would do that too.

    for me, saying “the Universe is expanding exponentially, which came to an end”, means the end of expansion.

    So the “someone” you now assert is YOU TOO.

  46. #46 Wow
    April 21, 2013

    You need to read up the meaning of the word “misunderstanding” because there’s nothing to misunderstand there: it’s in plain black-and-white.

  47. #47 Nathan Burns
    April 21, 2013

    Practically all religions referred to the sun as their God, for they had no other explanation. Anything unexplainable was put down to “God did it”.

    Time and time again Science found a way. I see end to this cycle – yet we still have flocks of people claiming God as the answer. I’m sure that makes some people warm and fuzzy inside but it’s just a lazy explanation. Thank you to those who prefer to DO SCIENCE.

  48. #48 Nathan Burns
    April 21, 2013

    sorry, should read *I see no end to this cycle

  49. #49 Dr John Steichen
    April 21, 2013

    The arrogance that all theistic viewpoints are crap ignores the intelligence and scientific training of many many believers.
    Simplistic viewpoints based on a casual knowledge of religious beliefs make some atheists warm and fuzzy in their intellectual prison.

  50. #50 Dean
    April 21, 2013

    Do you have anything intelligent to add “dr” or just unimportant concern?

  51. #51 Mark McA
    April 21, 2013

    Back to the actual topic…

    Curious about one major point; I thought information could not be destroyed?

  52. #52 Serge D.
    April 21, 2013

    Theories and data (sometimes it reads like War and Peace)

    Let’s see with all the new telescopes coming up in the next few years how the data looks.

    If the data shows the same old universe the further we look (some active galaxies, some not, some with old stars, etc.), we probably have to question the Big Bang Theory.

    That is the interesting part, we will know more and more about galaxies from that period of time, say 13+ billions years ago. Not just the bright ones that could be detected first by our technology but all kinds of galaxies.

    Can’t wait to see the data.

  53. #53 crd2
    April 21, 2013

    @51: I think you rushing to a conclusion when you read “inflation wiped-out any information that existed before inflation” and say the information was destroyed. How can you say that? We know nothing about ‘pre-inflation information’. How can you be sure inflation didn’t just “push” the information out of the way instead of destroying it? You can be no more certain of this, than you can that it was destroyed. I take wiped-out to means more along the lines of removed from our ability to observe.

    My opinion aside, you clearly overlooked part of a previous comment:

    “But there [is] information that could be ‘surviving’ information in a very constrained sense (or perhaps better “caused”).” -Torbjörn Larsson (#37)

  54. #54 crd2
    April 21, 2013

    As for Rick and his defenders, I have no issue with Rick personally or what he has to say for that matter so long as it adheres to the rules set forth by the person kind enough to sacrifice his time to not only give us great posts, but also a place to discuss them in further detail in the hopes that we may become more intelligent human beings. If Rick wouldn’t start his 1st sentence on topic, and then intentionally, predictably and repeatedly hijack the comments by repeating the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over again I wouldn’t care so much at all really. Its just when you scroll down and see Rick DeLano you already know what’s coming next. Rick knows where to go if he wishes to have a long off-topic rant about whatever he wants. He can tell the world all about his earth centered universe. About how the whole universe revolves around the earth which just so happens to be so perfectly in the middle of some axis all fueled by Richard Simmons’s underwear sweat and his army of fanny pack wearing militant hamsters in plastic balls (which were ultimately defeated by Jesus with a rocket launcher riding on a T-rex in the Pre-Inflationary Wars of 1984). You can read the full theory in his upcoming book: A Brief History of Quackery: From Hampster Balls to Jesusaurusrex.

    At least I think that how his theory goes. I’m not sure as my eyes begin to bleed once I get through his 1st sentence, usually (although not always) lose all control of bowel movements, then I have a guy I pay to hit me in the head repeatedly with a hammer from behind when I get half-way through the 3rd sentence to knock me unconscious and keep my brain from shutting down my vital organs from the ridiculousness.

    To summarize, no one is suppressing Ricks comments. We are simply responding to them. He is free to tell us all about his theories anywhere at anytime….in the correct location. That is our issue. The LOCATION he is choosing NOT what he is saying (or attempting to say anyway).

  55. #55 Filip Radulovic
    Madrid
    April 22, 2013

    @WOW

    My sincere apologize, but your arrogance and lack of respect do not deserve any more comments from my side.

  56. #56 Wow
    April 22, 2013

    “Curious about one major point; I thought information could not be destroyed?”

    This is based off a (IMO incorrect) reification of the surprising concordance between information theory equations and thermodynamics (entropy) equations.

    They then jump from “they use the same equations” to “they are the same thing” then use the second law of thermodynamics to say that information cannot be destroyed because the second law of thermodynamics.

    Solid body rotational mechanics uses VERY VERY similar equations to the linear motions of Newton’s derivation. But nobody is saying that there’s anything fundamental about that.

    And the evanescent wave shows that sometimes mathematical detritus can show something “really” there (model the electric field of a beam of light as a complex number and plug it into the equations for total internal reflections and you get the same answers out much more “cleanly” mathematically, if you take the electric field as the real component of the complex number. But you ALSO get n exponential part continuing on at the reflection surface as a mathematical left over. But put another medium close enough and you can get a continuing beam from this “jumping” across a gap it “shouldn’t” be crossing) has made it sometimes fruitful to do this mental trickery.

    In this case, a bridge too far, I think.

    In this case, IIRC, it was about information like angular momentum. Would the angular momentum of the infalling material be retained in the black hole or removed?

    This, however, isn’t information that cannot be destroyed: collisions will exchange momentum, including angular. Therefore the original information can be removed. And if it’s an inelastic collision, then it’s not even transformed into other types of angular momentum to be reverse-calculated.

  57. #57 Wow
    April 22, 2013

    Filip, your butthurtedness over your black-and-white statements that I have relied upon show that you’re a fake and your continued assinine accusations are completely batshit nuts.

    When a fruitcake like yourself makes an accusation against another, there is no value whatsoever to those accusations and they are a waste of everyone’s time, so SFTU, you twonk.

    YOU started off putting words in other people’s mouths, that point was answered and then you say that YOU would have those words in your mouth, then that was answered and now you want to re-do history and pretend that it’s only “other people” who are dumb enough to do as you complain? Then whine about “arrogance” and “lack of respect”???

    DON’T PRETEND TO PUT WORDS IN “OTHER” PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE *YOUR* MENTAL ERRORS.

    Have the respect that other people are not braindead enough to think as you claim.

  58. #58 Wow
    April 22, 2013

    “The arrogance that all theistic viewpoints are crap ignores the intelligence and scientific training of many many believers.”

    That they are intelligent in some areas has ABSOLUTELY NO BEARING on whether they are dumb when it comes to their religion.

    Tom Cruise is a smart man. But when it comes to Scientology, he’s as thick as a tree stump.

    Because faith DEMANDS that you hand your forebrain in at the foyer.

  59. #59 Steven Earl Salmony
    Chapel Hill, NC
    April 22, 2013

    What kind of moral atmosphere is possible when people willfully choose to deny uncontested science regarding what could be real with regard to the human species? If people are presented with scientific evidence and say, “Well, I cannot refute what is before my eyes but still, I consciously and deliberately refuse to acknowlege it because it is unbelievable.” In such circumstances is it even possible to speak honestly or honorably of a moral atmosphere? Can there be morality in any meaningful sense without truth, that given to us according the lights and scientific knowledge we possess?

    The arc of moral order in the world must follow the ‘trajectory’ of what is true and real about ourselves and the planetary home we inhabit, I suppose.

  60. #60 eric
    April 22, 2013

    Daniel @3:

    if the entirety of space-time is expanding how does the speed of light remain constant?

    Don’t know whether this is right, but…remember that space and time are one thing. We can measure it in different ways, and when we do, those different ways of measurement will result in a conversion factor. One meter = 3.28 feet because we humans decided to measure length in two different ways, which has resulted in a conversion factor (same with gallons to liters). 1eV = 1E-19 Joules because we humans decided to measure mass/energy in two different ways, so we end up with that conversion factor. C = 3E8 m/s because we humans decided to measure spacetime in two different ways (meters and seconds), and that’s just the conversion factor between them. But at a fundamental physics level, 3E8 meters to a second is not much different from 3.8 liters to a gallon.

    Mark McA @51:

    Curious about one major point; I thought information could not be destroyed?

    AIUI, points so far away (from us) that the universal expansion between them and us is faster than lightspeed are undetectable, both in theory and practice. Every part of the “pre-universe” than wasn’t part of our inflationary event is in this category. So they may still be there, but we can’t access them because no light from there will ever reach here and vice versa.

  61. #61 John Duffield
    April 22, 2013

    Eric: you’re touching on something there. We know that optical clocks run slower where gravitational potential is lower. We know the same would apply to parallel-mirror light clocks. But high or low, we always measure c to be 299,792,458 m/s. The metre is the distance light moves in 1/299,792,458th of a second. And the NIST caesium clock finds a microwave frequency to define the second. But frequency is cycles per second, you can’t refer to frequency when defining the second. What really happens is we count 9,192,631,770 incoming microwaves and say “that’s a second”. We use the motion of light to define our second and our metre, which we then use… to measure the motion of light.

    Think black holes. Think about distant observers who say the coordinate sped of light at the event horizon is zero. Think frozen-star. Then think about an early universe where gravitational potential everywhere is very very low. So low that it can’t get any lower. What’s the speed of light in that universe?

    Zero.

    Hopefully that one little drop of general relativity makes you appreciate just how much speculative hypothesis exists in the given description of the early uneverse.

  62. [...] bang cosmology, yours truly will refer you to It starts with a bang. There is an interesting new post that I think for all intents and purposes should help in understanding what astrophysicists mean [...]

  63. #63 Evolution or Creation? Thought provoking..
    April 22, 2013

    Romans 1:20 “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,(What about the matter in the world or the “God particle” that holds everything together in your body?) being understood by the things that are made,(your bodies, the grass, the sun, the WHOLE UNIVERSE!) even his eternal power and Godhead;(the way everything in the universe doesn’t just stop working or the planets don’t bump into each other) so that they are without excuse(you are going to have a lot to explain because God gave you so many things so that you wouldn’t have to ask why or how or where or when).” Think about this, it is pretty thought provoking that a GOD would make a universe and a specific planet so that we could live, only so that we would curse him and mock his name…

  64. #64 Rick DeLano
    April 22, 2013

    @crd2 #54:

    I am happy to hear that your expressed desire to suppress me, visible in #24, is not real.

    It is only in places where you thing I ought to be suppressed that you wish to suppress me.

    I will do my utmost to try to discover a difference that would justify the distinction.

    I think it boils down to a similar sort of logic that was employed once upon a time, in the case of other undesirables; to the effect that as long as you sit in the back of the bus and don;t use my water fountain, we’re all good.

    I hope one day you are able to overcome this defect of character.

    I notice that neither you, nor anyone else, has been able to refute my original (correct) response to Wow, in #24 above.

    So, the necessary correction concerning the ontological status of dark energy standing unrefuted, it looks like our discussion has reached its logical conclusion.

  65. #65 crd2
    April 23, 2013

    You put words in my mouth that are not my own. My desire to suppress you is as it was when I spoke @ #24. Rest assured its real. My comment was to clarify to you the reason for my desire. Yet you seek to play victim through twisting words painting yourself as some persecuted herald. There are a set of rules that govern every system, why can you not abide by the rules of this one?

  66. #66 Sinisa Lazarek
    April 23, 2013

    @John #61

    It’s not only optical clocks. It’s any clock anywhere. The clocks that were used in airplane experiments to test relativity were cesium atomic clocks, not optical ones. And speed of light is also influenced by inherent properties of spacetime. If those properties were different, the speed would be different.

    There isn’t a Universal clock that measures time in Universe. Every point in spacetime has it’s own clock(time) that is influenced by surrounding properties of spacetime.

  67. #67 Wow
    April 23, 2013

    Oh look, the christian nutjob is being “persecuted”.

    It’s got to be grating when you’re so weak-willed that people laughing at your idiocies makes you feel persecuted.

  68. #68 eric
    April 23, 2013

    Rick @64:

    I notice that neither you, nor anyone else, has been able to refute my original (correct) response to Wow, in #24 above.

    First, your original response was #21.

    Second,there is nothing to refute. You have simply asserted that the cosmos is evidence for God but you haven’t said how, or why it should be considered evidence, or what God it’s evidence for. It is not at all clear to anyone how you have leapt from ’cause of the universe’ to the traits normally attributed to God (omniscence, omnipotence, benevolence, etc.) . There is no rational or logical connection between them.

    Third, people may not have responded because Ethan has asked people to discuss this sort of topic in this thread. I’m writing this post under the assumption that you didn’t know that, but I won’t respond to any further posts by you, about this, on this thread. If you want to respond to this post with your evidence etc. for God, post your response in the linked thread.

  69. #69 dean
    April 23, 2013

    Rick, substance-free crap like

    The abundant physical evidence for the necessary existence of God is called “the cosmos”.

    deserves nothing more than a dismissive snort coupled with a shake of the head – there is nothing serious enough to require a refutation.

  70. #70 CB
    April 23, 2013

    Ah, the common cycle:
    A: The universe is a coconut!
    B: That makes no sense because…
    [later]
    A: The universe is a coconut!
    B: That still makes no sense because as was already said…
    [many repetitions later]
    A: The universe is a coconut!
    B: Geeze, shut up about this “universe is a coconut” nonsense already!
    A: Oh, oh, you see that? He’s trying to silence contrary opinions and independent thought! And he didn’t even bother *trying* to refute my points logically! ‘Elp, ‘elp! I’m being repressed!

    It’s a fantastically successful tactic for manufacturing a superficial appearance of intolerance and oppression — which is terribly important for any crackpot, especially the Christian kind. That’s why it’s so commonly employed by crackpots. But in the realm of logic it has no merit and would get you laughed out of even the shoddiest school debate club. Even the “victory” it does achieve is a pathetic illusion.

  71. #71 Sean T
    April 23, 2013

    @CB,

    Not to mention that being persecuted, even if they really were persecuted, does not equate to being correct.

  72. #72 Sean T
    April 23, 2013

    Rick,

    Nobody is trying to supress you. However, there’s an appropriate time and place for things to be discussed. In the case of your ideas, it’s on the thread that was linked to above.

    Just by analogy: suppose I wanted to discuss why I’m an atheist and why I think that all religious people are crackpots. Would it be appropriate for me to walk into a church while the priest/pastor/minister/head crackpot or whatever is giving a sermon and start yelling that everyone in the church is a ridiculous crackpot and that there is no god? I’m sure that I would be “suppresed” for such behavior, and in some locales, I might be “suppresed” quite a bit more violently than you have been “suppressed” here.

  73. #73 Wow
    April 23, 2013

    And if you went there time and time again, the church would demand the courts put a restraining order on you, banning you from being near that place and “disturbing the peace”.

    And if you came back anyway, would demand that you be arrested and put in jail.

    When your deity has three faces, being two-faced about material things comes pretty easy.

  74. #74 dean
    April 23, 2013

    “When your deity has three faces, being two-faced about material things comes pretty easy”

    Can I steal that line?

  75. #75 John Duffield
    April 23, 2013

    @Sinisa #66: I know. Search arXiv on “variable speed of light”. Einstein talked about this repeatedly while developing GR:

    1911: If we call the velocity of light at the origin of co-ordinates cₒ, then the velocity of light c at a place with the gravitation potential Φ will be given by the relation c = cₒ(1 + Φ/c²).
    1912: On the other hand I am of the view that the principle of the constancy of the velocity of light can be maintained only insofar as one restricts oneself to spatio-temporal regions of constant gravitational potential.
    1913: I arrived at the result that the velocity of light is not to be regarded as independent of the gravitational potential. Thus the principle of the constancy of the velocity of light is incompatible with the equivalence hypothesis.
    1915: the writer of these lines is of the opinion that the theory of relativity is still in need of generalization, in the sense that the principle of the constancy of the velocity of light is to be abandoned.
    1916: In the second place our result shows that, according to the general theory of relativity, the law of the constancy of the velocity of light in vacuo, which constitutes one of the two fundamental assumptions in the special theory of relativity and to which we have already frequently referred, cannot claim any unlimited validity. A curvature of rays of light can only take place when die Ausbreitungs-geschwindigkeit des Lichtes mit dem Orte variiert.

    The English translations use the word velocity, but Einstein was talking about c. It isn’t a vector quantity. The bit in German translates to “the propagation speed of light varies with place”. Try various online translators to check for yourself. Some joker has changed google translate to say type instead of place.

  76. #76 Rick DeLano
    April 23, 2013

    @eric #68:

    there is nothing to refute.

    >> Correct. Dark matter, as I said, has the ontological status of mathematical fudge factor. Glad you agree.

    You have simply asserted that the cosmos is evidence for God but you haven’t said how,

    >> False. I have said how. Here it is again for you:

    ” The cosmos cannot have brought itself into existence.

    The contrary view is a logical absurdity”.

    Please notice that the above two assertions are also unrefuted on this thread.

    There is an excellent reason why.

    They cannot be refuted, and any attempt to refute them will quickly expose the exact logical absurdity referenced above.

    “or why it should be considered evidence,”

    >> The cosmos should certainly be considered evidence.

    The fact that it cannot have brought itself into existence should certainly be considered evidence.

    Those two points are all that we need to proceed, logically, to the *necessary* existence of God (there are a few ore steps to get from “cannot have brought itself into existence” to “God”, but I am still waiting for someone to engage the first two points. Smarter folk can think it through for themselves- the phjilosophers managed to do it millennia ago).

    “or what God it’s evidence for.”

    >> The case as it stands is evidence for the God of the Philosophers; that is, the necessary and sufficient Cause for the cosmos.

    “It is not at all clear to anyone how you have leapt from ’cause of the universe’ to the traits normally attributed to God (omniscence, omnipotence, benevolence, etc.) . ”

    >> The logically necessary attributes of the God of the Philosophers include:

    1. Eternity
    2. Simplicity (in the sense of non-composite)
    3. Omnipotence

    “There is no rational or logical connection between them.”

    >> Actually, there is rigorous logical connection between them, as has been known for millenia, and which is desperately required to be shown again today, to the poor philosophical illiterates who talk about a “universe from nothing”, which “nothing” actually contains at least two “somethings”; energy, and a law of gravity.
    “Third, people may not have responded because Ethan has asked people to discuss this sort of topic in this thread.”

    >> Wow introduced the topic of theism monto the thread. I responded.

    He was wrong on dark energy, and he was wrong on God. How can this not be relevant to a discussion?

    Some folks seem to wish to assert that the scientific method extends to the realms of metaphysics and theology.

    This assertion is ridiculous.

    Merely pointing it out is hardly irrelevant.

  77. #77 Rick DeLano
    April 23, 2013

    @John Duffield #75:

    It is very helpful to have these quotes laid out in chronological order.

    Thanks!

  78. #78 Sinisa Lazarek
    April 23, 2013

    @ John

    don’t understand your point. Are there people who think c is not constant.. sure. Did Einstein try, sure. Did he drop it just like aether, yup.

    from wiki:
    “General critique of varying c cosmologies

    From a very general point of view, G. Ellis expressed concerns that a varying c would require a rewrite of much of modern physics to replace the current system which depends on a constant c.[44] Ellis claimed that any varying c theory (1) must redefine distance measurements (2) must provide an alternative expression for the metric tensor in general relativity (3) might contradict Lorentz invariance (4) must modify Maxwell’s equations (5) must be done consistently with respect to all other physical theories.

  79. #79 dean
    April 23, 2013

    “Some folks seem to wish to assert that the scientific method extends to the realms of metaphysics and theology.”

    should read

    “Some people think theology has something relevant to say about the workings of the universe. It doesn’t.”

  80. #80 eric
    April 23, 2013

    Rick, I have posted my response to you on the you are responsible for what you say thread.

  81. #81 Rick DeLano
    April 23, 2013

    Well, dean, post it over here and I will be happy to respond.

    The subject matter has been introduced by Wow, and is logically connected to the discussion under way here.

    No need to set up a different water fountain.

  82. #82 Rick DeLano
    April 23, 2013

    @dean:

    Some folks think science has any possible thing to say about what brought the objects of scientific investigation into existence (metaphysics/theology).

    The self-contradicting claim that the universe self-assembled from a “nothing” that contains at least two “somethings” (energy and a law of gravity) is a museum-quality specimen of the woeful consequences of such an assertion.

  83. #83 Wow
    April 23, 2013

    No, the only self-contradiction here is your strawman, Dick.

    Well, you’re self contradictory too, but that’s kind of a given: it’s your raison d’etre.

  84. #84 Wow
    April 23, 2013

    “Can I steal that line?”

    No worries, it’s offerred under the CC-SSA license.

  85. #85 dean
    April 23, 2013

    “Well, dean, post it over here and I will be happy to respond.”

    I think you have me confused with someone else?

    The error is thinking that theology has anything informative to say about physics, as has been pointed out to you numerous times.

  86. #86 Monica
    California
    April 23, 2013

    I’m always surprised by how “catty” this forum can turn into.

  87. #87 Rick DeLano
    April 23, 2013

    Rick earlier: “Correct. Dark matter, as I said, has the ontological status of mathematical fudge factor. Glad you agree.

    eric: I was clearly talking about your assertions about God. If you misunderstood, I’m sorry. If you were just being snide, stop being snide.

    >> Since the thread began with a correction to Wow’s assertion concerning dark energy, I neither misunderstood, nor was I being snide.

    I was instead addressing the topic.

    I have said how. Here it is again for you:

    Rick earlier: ” The cosmos cannot have brought itself into existence.

    The contrary view is a logical absurdity”.

    eric: I don’t care about absurdity; many things that are apparantly true are absurd.

    >> None of the things which are true are logically absurd. This is a very great truth which has apparently escaped a generation of scientists who have not received the rigorous formation in philosophy and metaphysics/theology which every prior generation- including all the great discoverers of scientific principle- had received.

    For example, it were inconceivable that Planck, or Einstein, or Mach, or Newton, or Galileo, or Kepler, would have made the incredible logical error of asserting a “nothing” which turns out to contain at least two “somethings”.

    eric: QM is absurd – it also appears to be true.

    >> False. It is either true, and not absurd, or else it is absurd, and not true.

    The *apparent* absurdity of QM is a consequence of a logical error; that since we cannot determine then position and velocity of a particle simultaneously, that it therefore cannot be determined.

    The *conclusion* above is absurd.

    But it is not at all absurd to suggest that we cannot simultaneously determine the position and velocity of a particle, but can employ various mathematical lash-ups to allow us to proceed on a probabilistic basis.

    We can bootstrap our way through the issues, without committing ourselves to an ontological conclusion about reality itself (metaphysics).

    A stochastic metaphysics is an absurdity, since reality clearly is not stochastic at all levels- I can tell you with one hundred per cent certainty that the last key I shall depress in this sentence will be a period.

    eric: “AFAIK there is no proven law of metaphysics that says the universe cannot or must not be absurd.”

    >> To the contrary, it is exactly a law of metaphysics (the law of non-contradiction) which makes the universe coherent under the procedures of the scientific method in the first place.

    It is possible, of course, that the scientific method is incapable of describing all of even material aspects of reality.

    This does not render the universe absurd, nor does it render the scientific method useless.

    It is one hundred per cent certain that the scientific method is incapable of addressing questions which lie outside its legitimate operational domain.

    The question of what brought the objects of scientific investigation into existence in the first place lies outside its legitimate operational domain.

    “Now, I do care about logical non-contradiction. Any assertion or set of premises should not lead to contradiction. But you have yet to show how the statement ‘a thing bringing itself into existence’ is, on its own, logically self-contradictory.”

    >> Let me do so. A thing can not precede its own existence.

    Now I have shown how the statement “a thing can bring itself into existence” is logically self-contradictory (you’re welcome).

    eric: So no, you have not shown the existence of the universe is evidence for any flavor of God because “its absurd to think otherwise” is not a logical argument.

    >> The argument “the cosmos cannot precede its own existence” is a logical argument.

    It is quite an airtight one.

    Rick earlier: “The case as it stands is evidence for the God of the Philosophers; that is, the necessary and sufficient Cause for the cosmos…The logically necessary attributes of the God of the Philosophers include:

    1. Eternity
    2. Simplicity (in the sense of non-composite)
    3. Omnipotence”

    eric: I fail to see why any of those are necessary in a creator of this universe.

    >> OK. The Creator must be eternal, since It itself cannot be caused. The Creator must be Simple (non-composite) since were the Creator composite, Its components must themselves have been brought together in a subsequent composite, thus contradicting (1). The Creator must be Omnipotent, since a cosmos which exists potentially cannot actualize itself; only a Cause which is itself omni-potent can actualize the potentiality of the cosmos.

    eric: If you assume ours is the only one

    >> Another catastrophic logical error. The word is *uni*verse. It can only refer to one.

    eric: and there is no multiverse,

    >> Another catastrophic logical error. A “multiverse” can exist, perhaps, defined as a causally-separated domain within the *uni* verse.

    But it is very simple to see that the cosmos- the universe- is one, however many domains are subsumed within it.

    eric: I suppose the first two properties make some sense. But they have no basis if one allows for a multiverse, and the third one has no basis regardless.

    >> The first two are inescapably necessary. The logical error of your multiverse/universe objection is self-evident in the meaning of the words themselves.

    eric: So see this, for sake of argument let’s assume we all know beyond a doubt that entity A created the universe. As long as I know nothing else about A’s capabilities, then the only capability I am warranted in concluding A has is the ability to create the universe.

    >> This admission is sufficient. The key ability involved is the ability to bring into existence that which does not exist. Once that is acknowledged, the God of the Philosophers is affirmed.

    eric: I have no logical basis on which to conclude A can do something as simple as swing a baseball bat, let alone a basis for concluding A can do everything it is logically possible to do.

    >> To the contrary. If it has been shown that Entity A can bring into existence a cosmos which, operating strictly on the laws and principles embedded into its creation by Entity A, brings forth baseball bats which can be swung, then both baseball bats, and the swinging of them, is subsumed under the act of creation ascribed to Entity A.

    Rick earlier: “to the poor philosophical illiterates who talk about a “universe from nothing”, which “nothing” actually contains at least two “somethings”; energy, and a law of gravity.”

    eric: If you’re referring to Krauss, he talks about the state before energy and the law of gravity. Nice to see you’re so willing to call other people illiterate when you haven’t read their books.

    >> Direct quote from Krauss:

    “It turns out nothing is actually something, a boiling, bubbling brew of virtual subatomic particles popping in and out of existence…..”

    Rick earlier: Some folks seem to wish to assert that the scientific method extends to the realms of metaphysics and theology.

    This assertion is ridiculous.

    eric: That depends on what you mean by “extend.”

    >> I mean this: the scientific method deals with observable relationships between material aspects of reality. Its defining aspect is experiment. This is what makes it unique, and great: it is ceaselessly trying to falsify what it thinks it knows by putting what it thinks it knows to crucial experimental test *with the intention of falsifying it*.

    Needless to say, the proposition “no material thing can be its own cause” is not a matter subject to experimental test- *even though every experimental test will, ad infinitum, confirm the truth of the proposition*.

    The proposition is *not true* on the contingent basis of scientific experiment. the proposition is true *on metaphysical grounds*; that is, its contrary involves fatal self-contradiction.

    So science cannot extend its method beyond its legitimate operational domain, without incurring embarrassing logical absurdities such as “something (which is nothing) from nothing (which is something).”

    eric: Science can certainly point out that there is no empirical evidence for some theological claim.

    >> The necessary existence of God- certainly knowable on the basis of the truth that the cosmos cannot have brought itself into existence- is not a proposition accessible to, or refutable by, any conceivable experimental application of the scientific method.

    eric: Science can even, in some cases, say “hey, your theological claim should logically result in empirical evidence X, Y, and Z. We don’t see X. We don’t see Y. We don’t see Z. So as far as we can tell your claim is not ‘outside the realm of science,’ its just plain wrong.”

    >> If the claim involves predictable material aspects of reality, which must, necessarily, be observed as logical consequences of the theological claim, then yes.

    Science would have a legitimate, operational role to play in assessing such claims.

    But the proposition “the cosmos cannot have brought itself into existence” is not one of them.

    That claim is certain, and is not subject to inductive/experimental review.

    eric: But if you want to restrict theology and metaphysics to empirically untestable claims, then yes, almost by definition, science cannot be extended to those. To the theologians and metaphysically minded philosophers who choose to restrict their subjects in that way, I say: I applaud you for your well organized and coordinated retreat.”

    >> The shoe is precisely on the other foot, eric. It is science which is now sprouting epicyclical, metaphysical, mathematical fictions and imbuing them with the status of ontological reality- precisely *because* it is unable to put the capstone on its LCDM edifice.

    All honor to the attempt, but there is a false metaphysical assumption embedded in the system.

    I have pointed it out, and my prediction of the matter is resoundingly affirmed by the Planck data.

  88. #88 T-reg
    April 23, 2013

    @Rick
    @ #64: “I think it boils down to a similar sort of logic that was employed once upon a time, in the case of other undesirables; to the effect that as long as you sit in the back of the bus and don;t use my water fountain, we’re all good.”

    crd2′s response to you in no way implies that.

    The correct analogy is this, “As long as you defaecate in the toilet and not here in the dining room, we’re all good.”

    It’s NOT about YOU being here, it’s about WHAT you are doing here.

    Your request to dean at #81 shows that you still wish to defaecate in the dining room.

  89. #89 Rick DeLano
    April 23, 2013

    T-reg:

    It is clear you prefer to not deal with challenges to your beliefs, even though all of the challenges I have advanced are legitimate, and deserve a legitimate response, which I am happy that dean, at least, has attempted to provide.

    Your analogy above is simply your way of saying that any idea which does not strike your fancy is to be dismissed in advance.

    Hardly a scientific- or even a simply rational- approach to discussion.

  90. #90 crd2
    April 23, 2013

    Rick your making a huge leap by saying “the universe couldn’t have created itself’ then simply saying that logic then brings us to concluded the existence of god. As Eric points out the 1st 1/2 of that sentence is a logical one, but you lose all credibility when making such a grand leap as to evoke God (You go even more specific and claim the god as known for ‘millennia’. Quite a bold claim indeed).

    So, ok great, we all can agree that the universe did not create itself.

    We all understand that Krauss’s meaning of a ‘broiling sea of nothing’ is different then the true meaning of nothing as we define it. Krauss’s manipulation of the definition of ‘nothing’ is in no way supporting evidence for ‘god’ & is merely a marketing ploy to get attention (which clearly worked quite well).

    Quit trying to down-play dark matter as simply a ‘fudge factor’ of math (Your confusing DM with MOND). You still haven’t grasped how well dark matter agree with MULTIPLE observation? You might have learned this already while reading this blog if you weren’t so busy looking for any semblance of Ethan’s post to twist and comment to us how: “Ethan said [well vetted scientific theory goes here] which in fact logically shows [farting duck noises go here]” where you wrap-up your loosely connected idea by saying “…which brings our conversation to its logical conclusion. [as if adding 'logical' at the end is supposed to garner credibility after the content preceding it?]“

  91. #91 Wow
    April 24, 2013

    Yes, monica, and you’re the only adult in the room.

    Always seems that way to the perception of the angsty-teen.

  92. #92 G
    April 24, 2013

    Re. false vacuum:

    There were recently some articles published in various science news digests, to the effect that the measured value of the Higgs particle is consistent with the possibility that we presently reside in a false vacuum state rather than a true vacuum.

    Yet we also see Ethan’s diagrams here, indicating that the universe or a precursor for it may have resided in a false vacuum and is presently in a true vacuum.

    Are these two distinct and more or less differing or opposed theories? Or is it possible that I’m missing something, and the true vacuum of which Ethan speaks, has recently been considered to be yet another false vacuum plateau or valley of some kind, beyond which is the actual true vacuum?

    In general, what’s the relationship between Ethan’s vacuums and those of which the articles in recent digests speak?

    Re. beliefs about deities:

    Belief or disbelief in deities is ultimately reducible to a set of emotional traits for which we are beginning to understand the relevant neurobiology. Those emotional traits can have as their “content,” a deity, nature as such, or other.

    Thus we find instances of working scientists who are religious, and postmodernists who are both anti-science and anti-religion, and a wide range of variations. To oversimplify somewhat, it’s like taste in music or sex: it does not have a _necessary_ correlation with intelligence or scientific literacy.

    Where things get highly vexing, is where people feel compelled to argue theology based on science, or vice-versa. This is like asserting that if you understand classical music composition theory, you will necessarily also prefer bronze sculptures over oil paintings. Any such correlations are most likely spurious.

    In the end, one needn’t do more to justify one’s theism or atheism than to say “that’s how my brain is wired to perceive my relationship to the greater whole,” and that’s all. It needs no further justification, in either direction, than one’s orientation for same-sex or opposite-sex relationships, and arguing the case here is like trying to argue that any given sexual orientation is or is not “natural” for humans.

  93. #93 Wow
    April 24, 2013

    “it does not have a _necessary_ correlation with intelligence or scientific literacy.”

    However, you cannot be a scientist and replace the scientific method with the religious one.

    E.g. Roy Spencer who thinks that the bible is THE BEST and MOST ACCURATE historical record for the existence of life on this planet.

    Therefore when it comes to biogenesis, evolution and palaeontology, he’s most definitely NOT a scientist.

  94. #94 Wow
    April 24, 2013

    “In the end, one needn’t do more to justify one’s theism or atheism than to say “that’s how my brain is wired to perceive my relationship to the greater whole,””

    Incorrect.

    We are ALL atheists by birth.

    That’s why you teach your children your religion, if you have one.

  95. #95 eric
    April 24, 2013

    CRD2:

    Krauss’s manipulation of the definition of ‘nothing’ is in no way supporting evidence for ‘god’ & is merely a marketing ploy to get attention (which clearly worked quite well).

    I think you’re giving Rick too much credit and Krauss not enough. I didn’t respond to this particular point because responding in a thorough manner would’ve required me going to my copy of ‘A Universe from Nothing,’ find a bunch of quotes, etc. But since it’s come up twice now, my just-from-memory opinion is that Rick is quote mining. My understanding is:
    1. Krauss was initially sincere, albeit a bit naive about his use of the term nothing (so no, not just a marketing ploy).
    2. After getting a lot of pushback, he addressed the fact that there can be multiple definitions of ‘nothing.’ He addressed this point specifically and multiple times in his book. Its in his introduction. The whole structure of the book reflects it as he takes on each definition in turn. And in the last chapter he concedes that the question of where the rules came which produce space, time, mass, etc. out of a pre-state where there is no space, time, mass, etc. is not something physics can presently answer. Frankly I don’t know what else his critics can ask of him; at this point I think anyone who thinks he’s misrepresnting the issue just hasn’t read his book carefully.
    3. Rick’s claim that physicists think the original ‘nothing’ consisted of energy and the law of gravity is just plain wrong. Whether its Hawking, Krauss, or anyone else, the current mainstream view (AFAIK) is that (i) QM allows the spontaneous emergence of equal and opposite ‘things’ from nothing at all, (ii) our best measurement of the net energy of the universe is that it’s zero, so (iii) there is no need for anything other than the rules of QM to explain its spontaneous emergence. No gravity. No energy. Rick is tilting at windmills of his own making.

  96. #96 Steven Earl Salmony
    Chapel Hill, NC
    April 24, 2013
  97. #97 Rick DeLano
    April 24, 2013

    @crd2:

    Rick your making a huge leap by saying “the universe couldn’t have created itself’ then simply saying that logic then brings us to concluded the existence of god.

    >> I have already addressed this, twice, so either respond to the points, or else know that you are raising a point which has already been addressed.

    Below is the relevant excerpt which addresses what you claim was not addressed. Happy to address it further, if you have a specific objection:
    ***************************
    The logically necessary attributes of the God of the Philosophers include:

    1. Eternity
    2. Simplicity (in the sense of non-composite)
    3. Omnipotence”

    eric: I fail to see why any of those are necessary in a creator of this universe.

    >> OK. The Creator must be eternal, since It itself cannot be caused. The Creator must be Simple (non-composite) since were the Creator composite, Its components must themselves have been brought together in a subsequent composite, thus contradicting (1). The Creator must be Omnipotent, since a cosmos which exists potentially cannot actualize itself; only a Cause which is itself omni-potent can actualize the potentiality of the cosmos.

    eric: If you assume ours is the only one

    >> Another catastrophic logical error. The word is *uni*verse. It can only refer to one.

    eric: and there is no multiverse,

    >> Another catastrophic logical error. A “multiverse” can exist, perhaps, defined as a causally-separated domain within the *uni* verse.

    But it is very simple to see that the cosmos- the universe- is one, however many domains are subsumed within it.

    eric: I suppose the first two properties make some sense. But they have no basis if one allows for a multiverse, and the third one has no basis regardless.

    >> The first two are inescapably necessary. The logical error of your multiverse/universe objection is self-evident in the meaning of the words themselves.

    ********************

    crd2: As Eric points out the 1st 1/2 of that sentence is a logical one, but you lose all credibility when making such a grand leap as to evoke God (You go even more specific and claim the god as known for ‘millennia’. Quite a bold claim indeed).

    >> Instead, it is a simple statement of historical fact. I have alluded above to the grave problem of philosophical/historical illiteracy among the New Atheist Brights. Your continued reiteration of a point which has already been addressed, coupled with your manifest ignorance of the arguments of the Greek philosophers concerning the necessary existence of God, do not constitute an argument on your part.

    They constitute a confirmation of the malady I have diagnosed.

    It is a terrible malady.

    It reduces human intellects to the pathetically befuddled state of asserting that something (which is nothing) lawfully emerges from nothing (which is something).

    The irony here is how serenely confident the perpetrators of such an abysmal logical absurdity are, in assuming their intellectual superiority over the giants who created the metaphysical foundations which make *authentic* (that is, experimental/operational) science possible in the first place!

    But we now see, in clear outline, the catastrophic illogic which resides at the very heart of the rapidly-collapsing, epicycle-sprouting, entity-multiplying “something from nothing” consensus cosmology.

    crd2: So, ok great, we all can agree that the universe did not create itself.

    >> Yes, that is great, since you have just granted the necessary existence of the God of the Philosophers.

    Logic is a very dangerous thing.

    If one follows the logical implications of the truth to which you have committed yourself (and everyone else, although you can not, actually, speak for them in any authoritative way), then one arrives at the inescapable conclusion that atheism is that moust touchingly naive of all forms of faith- it requires of its adherent that he dispose, along with God, of logic and reason itself.

    crd2: We all understand that Krauss’s meaning of a ‘broiling sea of nothing’ is different then the true meaning of nothing as we define it.

    >> A remarkable sentence. You again presume to speak for all, and assert that all know Krauss is full of s***, but you then intend to slide right on by and reiterate the very absurdity you just admitted was wrong, as we shall see in a moment.

    The problem of rescuing the New Atheist Brights from their intellectual Black Hole is an interesting one……

    Compassion for our fellow human beings requires us to try.

    crb2: Krauss’s manipulation of the definition of ‘nothing’ is in no way supporting evidence for ‘god’ & is merely a marketing ploy to get attention (which clearly worked quite well).

    >> So you admit Krauss not only botched his foundational definitions, you now blithely assert him to have done so dishonestly, and for the explicit purpose of duping the gullible so as to obtain a better financial result from his con.

    Sheesh, I wouldn’t have dreamed of going that far.

    I just assumed the poor guy was a victim of his grotesque miseducation…….

    But I suppose that the New Atheist Bright version of “science” involves such expediencies as a matter of course.

    After all, if something, which is nothing, comes from nothing, which is something, it becomes rather difficult to object to any subsequent absurdities which might be proposed to follow.

    crb2: Quit trying to down-play dark matter as simply a ‘fudge factor’ of math (Your confusing DM with MOND).

    >> You are the confused one here, crb2.

    There is no dark matter. There is a term in an equation, which supplies the missing matter to bridge the gap between theory and observation.

    There is no dark energy. There is a term in an equation which supplies the missing energy to bridge the gap between theory and observation.

    crb2:
    You still haven’t grasped how well dark matter agree with MULTIPLE observation?

    ROTFL!!!!!!!!!!

    Get that, folks?

    We notice our theory is off by 96-99%.

    We invent two hypothetical entities, which we sprinkle in wherever needed to bridge the otherwise-insuperable gap between the predictions of our theory, and our actual observations.

    WE THEN POINT TO THE AGREEMENT AS EVIDENCE OF THE CORRECTNESS OF OUR THEORY!!!!!!!

    Now.

    If you do not shiver in disgust at the intellectual dishonesty of this little dipsy-do, then please.

    At least summon up compassion for the poor victim of such a foundational delusion concerning what the scientific method in fact *is*.

    Then quickly go here and find out:

    http://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/liu10/files/2010/08/KPopper_Falsification.pdf

  98. #98 Rick DeLano
    April 24, 2013

    @eric:

    “(i) QM allows the spontaneous emergence of equal and opposite ‘things’ from nothing at all”

    >> First, this is false. It is not “nothing at all” from which equal and opposite *things* emerge.

    It is a *something* from which these *things* emerge; that is, a *space* from which *particles* containing *energy* appear and disappear (or, more accurately, disclose themselves on such a scale that we are unable to directly observe them, and hence we infer them).

    So it is logically incoherent to state that “QM allows the spontaneous emergence of equal and opposite ‘things’ from nothing at all”

    The last three words are false.

    Which is the persistent, awful, crushing logical fallacy which underlies the entire con.

  99. #99 Quentin rowe
    New Zealand
    April 24, 2013

    @Filip R (#11):
    “So what is the difference (if any) between Cosmic Inflation as an expanding Universe, and expansion that is happening today?”

    @wow (#57): Stop being so righteous and please answer the question. I’d like to know also.

  100. #100 Wow
    April 24, 2013

    >> First, this is false. It is not “nothing at all” from which equal and opposite *things* emerge.

    How do you know?

    Where have you discovered the properties of absolutely nothing at all?

  101. #101 Rick DeLano
    April 24, 2013

    I know because nothing cannot contain something, Wow.

    If it contains something, it is ot nothing.

    Now.

    An intellect which finds this truth controversial, is an intellect fundamnetally handicapped in its ability to do, not only science, but even language.

    The use of language involves the use of words, which have meanings.

    The employment of words, so as to signify what is the opposite of their meaning, is, exactly, illogic.

    Which is the whole basis of the present, rapidly collapsing, epicycle-sprouting, entity-multiplying “something from nothing” consensus cosmoogy.

    PS: Science, actual science, is self-correcting, in that it proceeds via experimental test of hypothesis.

    The recent paper by Steinhardt on the “inflationary unlikeliness problem” is a very welcome example of the self-correction process in action.

    Something new is coming.

  102. #102 Wow
    April 24, 2013

    “I know because nothing cannot contain something, Wow.”

    Prove it.

  103. #103 Wow
    April 24, 2013

    And why did you not answer the ACTUAL question, Dick?

    Or is the answer “you’ve never ascertained the properties of nothing at all”?

  104. #104 eric
    April 24, 2013

    Rick @98:

    It is a *something* from which these *things* emerge; that is, a *space* from which *particles* containing *energy* appear and disappear

    AIUI, this is an incorrect interpretation of what people like Krauss and Hawking are saying. There is no spacetime needed to contain QM rules. They are talking about the spontaneous appearance of spacetime itself. What you are talking about in your example – spontaneous formation of particles out of a void within spacetime – is different (and is confirmed with reasonable certainty).

    So it is logically incoherent to state that “QM allows the spontaneous emergence of equal and opposite ‘things’ from nothing at all”

    If I change “QM” to “God,” is it still logically incoherent? If not, why not?

    I know because nothing cannot contain something, Wow.

    Your nothing seems to have a conservation rule (to wit: it follows the rule that something cannot come from it spontaneously). Without this conservation rule, your whole argument falls apart. So in my mind, then, the situation is this:
    1. Philosophers like you define their nothing as “nothing plus a conservation rule that prevents this nothing from changing, because that’s an intellectually appealing rule that accords with a normal human sense of how the world works.”
    2. Physicists like Krauss define their nothing as “nothing plus QM, because QM is best supported by the evidence…even though it allows things to happen that regular human sensibilities would find absurd.”

    Neither is really a more fundamental ‘nothing’ than the other, but the way I see it, the physicists have an edge in that their choice of rule governing what nothing can and cannot do has empirical support; the philosopher’s rule my feel correct to our guts, but our guts have been wrong before and they’ll likely be wrong again.

  105. #105 CB
    April 24, 2013

    “Your nothing seems to have a conservation rule (to wit: it follows the rule that something cannot come from it spontaneously).”

    I’m sure the response is that it’s “logically” inherent in nothingness and anything else is “absurd”.

    The problem is that what is logically necessary and what is an illogical absurd-ism can only be discussed rigorously within the context of a formal logical system. Anything else is just an appeal to what “feels” right and is therefore not logic.

    And there are many different formal logics, and each of them requires at least some axioms. There is no “fundamental” logic with no assumptions. The goal, then, of science is to figure out which logical system (and what subset of rules within that system) best describes the universe.

    To say that nothing logically cannot result in something is presuming a logical system in which that is a consequence of the axioms. That this logical system is the one that best describes reality is another assumption unto itself.

    Here is an expression in a commonly used logical system that does not have such a consequence of its assumptions:

    0 = 1 – 1.

    Two somethings — a 1 and a minus 1 — created from nothing. In fact I can create infinitely many somethings so long as they still sum to nothing.

    Which, perhaps not coincidentally, is also the case in Quantum Mechanics.

  106. #106 eric
    April 24, 2013

    CB – I agree. As far as I can tell, the “something cannot come from nothing” argument toes the line between definitional tautology (“if it does, it wasn’t what I define as nothing”) and the argument from incredulity (“it can’t happen because I can’t understand how it could happen”).

    Neither of which is any good, so being halfway between them isn’t very good.

    But I’ll make a charitable nod to history. I’m willing to accept that, prior to the 20th century, “something can’t come from nothing” was probably the stongest horse in the race in terms of ideas. Lots of examples of things obeying it, no examples of things violating it. I can’t fault anyone before the advent of QM for accepting the obvious conclusion from that data. But we now have evidence that there are at least exceptions to this asserted rule, if not outright violations. That should, if we are rational, revise our thoughts on whether such an assertion is really as fundamental and universal as we’ve been treating it historically. A different horse has been winning the race since about 1905; smart handicappers pay attention to that.

  107. #107 Rick DeLano
    April 24, 2013

    @Wow #102:

    “Prove it”.

    Certainly.

    Notice the word “nothing”.

    The first syllable is “no”, as in “zero”.

    The second syllable is “thing”, as in “thing.

    I am surprised at how difficult this appears to be for you.

  108. #108 Rick DeLano
    April 24, 2013

    “I’m willing to accept that, prior to the 20th century, “something can’t come from nothing” was probably the stongest horse in the race in terms of ideas.”

    >> Of course, in reality, nothing at all changed in the 20th century. It is true that a certain ideological commitment to atheism, combined with a confidence that the scam could be enforced by sheer bald-faced intellectual fraud if necessary, emboldened certain hucksters to start retailing the falsehood that “nothing” suddenly meant “something”.

    Now of course this is a fraud, and an embarrassment to any intellectually honest human being.

    The truth is, that the “nothing” referred to by the hucksters and their dupes is, in fact “something”.

    Several somethings.

    It is useful, however, to draw out just how far the promoters of this elementary and cynical con are prepared to go.

  109. #109 dean
    April 24, 2013

    “It is useful, however, to draw out just how far the promoters of this elementary and cynical con are prepared to go.”

    Yes, how far are you willing to go Rick? What is the limit to your dishonesty/stupidity?

  110. #110 Wow
    April 24, 2013

    It is over 9000, I reckon.

  111. #111 Wow
    April 24, 2013

    Dick: ““Prove it”.

    Certainly.”

    No, prove it.

    Don’t merely assert it.

    Prove it.

  112. #112 eric
    April 24, 2013

    Rick:

    >> Of course, in reality, nothing at all changed in the 20th century.

    Wow (the expression, not the poster).

    Okay, with that I’m out.

  113. #113 Sean T
    April 25, 2013

    Rick,

    Maybe the real problem we are having here is that there is no entity in the universe that has the properties that you attribute to the term “nothing”. That is, nobody has ever stated that the universe formed out of “nothing”, at least in the way you are understanding that term.

    In the way you are using the term, how can “nothing” actually exist? To say that an entity exists, must it not be “something” rather than “nothing”? If “nothing” cannot actually exist, then how would it make sense to say that the universe arose out of “nothing”?

  114. #114 crd2
    April 25, 2013

    Rick,

    Wow asked you to show how you have come to know the fundamental properties of nothing, yet all you have done is define its root word and pre-fix, you have told us nothing about its fundamental properties.

    despite your “flawless” logical mindset you forgot to understand that one word can have more than one meaning. Your arguing the philosophical definition of nothing when Krauss and wow, and hawking and me and eric are all speaking of the scientific definition of the word nothing. (which eric has already defined for you @ #95 (item 3).

    Your a funny guy rick. Its pretty amazing how your so bright that you can teach us all how wrong Krauss and Hawking are (guys who have dedicated their entire lives to their particular fields) Clearly two idiots whose sole life mission is to con the public with false information to keep grants and speaking engagments rolling in. Your an A+ asshat.

  115. #115 CB
    April 25, 2013

    Language defines reality, didn’t you know?

    Oh and we’ve now reached the pinnacle of religious crack-pottery: The claim that it is the scientists of the 20th century who were dedicated to a particular theological position which they were willing to use intellectual dishonesty to support despite it’s obvious factual falseness.

    That they got reality to conspire with them to a stupid number of decimal places is a particularly hard obstacle to overcome for the “obvious” wrongness part, but that’s not really the point. The point is that we should be glad hypocrisy is an abstract concept and not an energetic phenomenon or its density within Rick’s post would have collapsed to form a black hole.

  116. #116 G
    April 26, 2013

    Re. Wow at #93 and #94:

    Agreed with 93: one can’t replace scientific method (empiricism) with religious method (revealed wisdom), any more than one can replace a musical score with a painting or vice-versa.

    As for 94, children too young to have any clue or training about religion come back from near-death experiences (NDEs) reporting religious feelings and themes, including themes from other cultures not their own (e.g. three-year-old child of Christian parents has NDE with strongly Islamic themes, long before Islam was a major factor in our culture).

    So now one of two things is true: either the brains of a measurable percentage of the population are hardwired for religious experience regardless of upbringing, or those experiences in children are evidence of supernatural realities (above or outside of nature).

    I’d prefer to go with a normal curve whereby the hardwiring varies across the population. (Quasi-Freudian explanations such as “well the three-year-old must have heard some TV programs about religion, that influenced their NDE…” are unfalsifiable therefore part of the realm of belief rather than empiricism.)

    BTW, atheists also have NDEs with all the details _except_ that they report an impersonal (more accurately, transpersonal) presence, rather than a personified deity. IMHO more evidence for this stuff being innate in the brain, or alternately for it being supernatural. I’ll stick with my normal curves (and put up with being laughed at by my friends who are Bayesians;-) until/unless there’s empirical evidence otherwise.

    Re . a bunch of the rest of it:

    Holy cow, y’all are arguing about nothing! (G ducks and covers;-)

  117. #117 Wow
    April 26, 2013

    “As for 94, children too young to have any clue or training about religion come back from near-death experiences (NDEs) reporting religious feelings and themes”

    Just like they’ve come back with tales of an invisible friend who actually broke the cookie jar.

    G, the NDE can be stimulated by faffing around with electric probes in the brains of people who were NEVER going to be nearly dead.

    We have just put those effects down as “the evidence for life after death” and, unsuprisingly, when you assert those events as being supernatural, then those who don’t know they’ve been classified as supernatural still report the same features AND IT IS THE ADULTS who insist this is evidence for the supernatural.

  118. #118 dean
    April 26, 2013

    “I’d prefer to go with a normal curve whereby the hardwiring varies across the population. ”

    I’m sure you would, but since there is no evidence (certainly none supplied by you) to make that a reasonable assumption, it is pure crap.

    One of the hardest issues related to teaching and consulting in statistics is reminding people that real data is never Gaussian, and that without evidence to indicate the distribution is reasonably close, assuming things are normally distributed as a default is a dangerous thing. You must have missed that lesson.

  119. #119 crd2
    April 26, 2013

    I too will take my leave of this comment section. You’d think this post as about black holes going solely off the number of comments. Good discussion. I have learned some new things and I thank you for that.

  120. [...] Siegel has a wonderful blog on cosmology and he’s posted about Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and [...]

  121. #121 Lore Heidtke
    June 8, 2013

    if i have just signed up but I really would adore to see a specific letter (Lorelei Lee’s) is there some place i’m able to possibly view it or obtain a copy somehow?

  122. #122 Jeff Soltes
    Raleigh NC
    June 16, 2013

    So, in essence, what are you saying is that because what happened in previous inflations is essentially UNKNOWABLE, that there very well could have been, IN FACT, a galaxy far, far away! ;-) Very cool article.

  123. #123 KENNETH BEDFORD
    LODI CA
    September 11, 2013

    SO MUCH STUFF ABOUT THE UNIVERSE THAT I DID NOT KNOW

  124. #124 Marius de Jess
    September 14, 2013

    Allow me to ask: Are there not many things existing now, numerically many things?

    But when we think backward from this situation of many things by way of the mathematics used by physicists, then these many things get to be less and less and less until there is only one thing left, namely, a point, which point then is a thing, a one thing.

    Now, physicists cannot or dare not continue to think backward beyond this one point of a one thing, because they they will reach nothing-ness; and at this situation of nothing-ness or nothing at all, not even a point of something existing, physicists have to postulate that this nothing-ness is not the nothing-ness which we understand in standard language as no thing at all, no existence whatsoever.

    So, they stop at the one point, at the last last last situation, namely, from the one point that is then the situation of the universe at the very beginning of its existence.

    From this one point or one thing there is an event that is continuing to the present, namely, what physicists call inflation.

    And it is the inflation of this one point thing that is the process whereby this one thing becomes so many things even to the present, and still many things are coming forth into existence, while many things have gone out of existence except only leaving a record or a memory of themselves having existed once, a record in the universe of information, or a memory in the mind of man during the period of man’s existence of those things that had existence during man’s duration of existence to the present as man is still in existence today.

    So, may I ask the physicists here, is that correct: that by mathematics you folks calculate or compute the universe today all the way to when and where it was only one thing, that one point in which also was fused time and space and everything that will come about from it through its inflation.

    What do you think of my thinking?

    Marius de Jess

  125. #125 Vronowski
    Australia
    January 20, 2014

    Did anyone notice that the chronological diagram of the universe looks like a condom?

  126. #126 Balaji Karande
    India, Maharashtra, Pune
    June 11, 2014

    very good & important Knowlege about universe. I would like to read/see about the origin point & end point of our universe. The total structure of Universe.

  127. #127 Balaji Karande
    India, Maharashtra, Pune
    June 11, 2014

    Some of the astrologicians told us that after a certain time period our Universe will be ended in a black hole & our world be ended. How it is possible ? Can anybody explain me the Universal truth.

  128. #128 Matthew
    UK
    June 17, 2014

    How about inflation is what our universe is doing right now so when our universe gets too big it causes a vacuum that sucks our universe into a ball of energy and explodes into what we call The Big Bang and it all starts again lol I know nothing really about physics so give me a break with comments I love what physics is about though.