The Scientific Indian

What is The Universe


I was reading a fascinating discussion at Cosmic Variance on Boltzmann Brain Paradox and what Feynman made of it. The paradox raises questions about the state of the Universe, why is the beginning different from the end? Why must there be an arrow of Time? In a chaotic Universe, are we living in a bubble of order that randomly arose? As I was pondering things beyond my reach, in my own small way I realized my conception of the Universe was erroneous. You see, I had always thought of the Universe as a really really large ‘thing’ inside which everything is, there is no outside, and that’s that. The Universe is made of all the stuff we know, everything we can imagine is inside it. Matter, Time, Space, Physical Laws are all part of this grand thing we call the Universe. What I failed to recognize so far is that the Universe is not static, it is not a room full of stuff. It is also in motion, it is continually changing. It is not the same Universe that was a moment ago. If this is the case, then the Universe is not just some ‘thing’ but an ‘event’, a happening. It is also verb not just a noun, it is like a ‘clap’. Each one of us is a tiny event lasting for a vanishingly small amount of time in this grand drama. We are minor movements in a symphony, not mute fixtures in a quiet stage.


  1. #1 Destination Infinity
    January 5, 2009

    This explanation is more abstract than the big bang theory! Science seems to be an ‘intelligent’ tool to repackage old wine in new bottle! Where are the facts?

    Destination Infinity

  2. #2 Rob W
    January 5, 2009

    Er… he’s not offering you an *explanation* here, Destination. He’s tweaking the way he thinks about the universe, trying to uncover basic (but misleading) assumptions. It’s a useful exercise.

    And frankly, the facts that humanity has about earlier stages of the universe are quite limited (though expanding bit by bit), so it’s not easy to make any kind of assured statements.

    You can’t get more “facts” by shouting for them.

  3. #3 bob koepp
    January 5, 2009

    Selva – You seem to be trying to articulate what some call a “process ontology”. You might want to explore Alfred North Whitehead’s efforts to systematically develop this notion. Or, if technical philosphy is not your bag, you might just want to go with Buckminster Fuller’s, “I think I am a verb.”

  4. #4 abb3w
    January 5, 2009

    As I’m not a physicist, I don’t know how much sense it makes. However….

    The current measure suggests that the < a href="">net energy of the universe is zero. This means the Big Bang came from Nothing. Since Nothing inherently has an entropy of Zero, the universe (consisting of Something, and thus having an entropy) thereafter has a higher entropy content. And of course, since Nothing includes having neither Space nor Time, this means that Nothing tends Instantly to Explode into Something…

    Add in the concept via Feynman diagrams that we live (if I recall from his “Surely You’re Joking”) in the most probable sum of all possible universes, and the tendency is for the entropy of the universe to continue to increase.

    If someone would like to explain the math of all this to me, please bring copious amounts of potable ethanol.

  5. #5 Selva
    January 6, 2009

    Rob, I could not have said it better.

    bob, I had been fascinated by ontological questions (especially Kant’s ideas). Thanks for the lead.

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