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I had a thought and felt compelled to jot it down before I forget it. It’s not yet very well thought out so I’m going to write things down as they occur to me. Apologies in advance if this post becomes a bit messy.
The topic is the universe, its origin, the possibility of other universes and their relation to quantum mechanics. As some of you might know, I’m a big fan of the zero-energy universe. The idea that something cannot come from nothing is an idea that has become outdated due to quantum mechanics. As Lawrence Krauss said “If you observe nothing for long enough, something will appear”. What he is refer to is known as quantum fluctuations.
Quantum fluctuations are a phenomena where if you have a vacuum with absolutely zero particles and energy in it and you observe/measure it over a period of time, you’ll find that something does in fact appear out of this nothingness. These are known as virtual particles and without getting technical, basically they appear and disappear in the nothingness leaving real energy signatures that affect their surroundings. Essentially, we are getting energy out of nothing. Now I’ve heard people argue “oh, well that’s not nothing then”. A debate on Q&A comes to mind and as usual, it was a theist trying to cast doubt on science (rather hypocritically). I’ll save that rant for another time, but suffice to say if you have a vacuum with nothing in it – that’s nothing. You can’t say it’s not nothing because the nothing you’re trying to describe doesn’t exist. When you find evidence of such a nothing existing, you can come back and say something. Old habits die hard – these people love claiming things exist without any evidence.
So how does this tie in to the universe? Well quantum mechanics still hasn’t been unified with general relativity, but it does provide an explanation for the origins of the universe. The zero-energy universe is one such idea, but the gist of it is that a singularity (from which the big bang and universe occurred) is so tiny that it falls within the realms of quantum mechanics. As a result, it doesn’t violate any laws by appearing out of nothing. Quite simply, the universe could have created itself out of nothing.
That got me thinking – why did the singularity keep expanding rather than dissipating and leaving an energy signal like most other virtual particle? The go-to answer for expansion is dark energy, but drawing from the Poplawski universe model and the torsion-rebound theory, I thought of another possibility.
What if all virtual particles contain universes? What if quantum fluctuations are a universe birthing mechanism?
Well, obviously the next question is, how does this work? I’m not going to sit here and claim things without providing proof – that would make me an idiot.
Let’s go through it step by step. At first, we have a singularity. Where did it come from? For this concept (I say concept because a scientific theory has been tested mathematically and experimentally, which I cannot do) we are considering the possibility that the singularity, as a subatomic particle, appeared via a quantum fluctuation as a virtual particle. Now from what we already know, this singularity exploded, known as the Big Bang, releasing large amounts of energy and expanding well beyond the speed of light. Here’s where my idea reaches a fork and would require further research.
First, we consider that virtual particles do release energy. The argument would then be made that these energy levels are tiny compared to the big bang. However, one must also consider perspective. From our universe’s perspective, the energy released by the virtual particle is small, but if that virtual particle contained another universe, relative to them, that amount of energy would be the absolute maximum they could ever attain. This gives rise to the idea of a staggered multiverse, where there are greater universes with more energy and vice versa.
Second, (consider this a different option unrelated to the one above) the effects of travel beyond light speed is unknown. However, if one considers the virtual particle contains a similar universe to ours (i.e. of similar energy levels, and thus similar mass, and thus similar gravity), then the moment that virtual particle experiences a “Big Bang” it has reached levels of gravity many times that of a black hole and is inflated beyond the speed of light. From the outside nobody knows what that would look like. But we can take a good guess. Black holes are known to distort time. We can never peer into a black hole because the gravitational tides distort both light and time. As a result, we can never travel out of one if we get caught in its event horizon. In essence, the inside of the black hole is almost like a separate universe to ours – we cannot see inside, journey inside or journey out of (if we ever got in), and time freezes as we approach its singularity. Additionally, time slows as we approach light speed. Theoretically, at light speed time would stop so an external observer could stare at you for an eternity and never see anything. Again, this has the effect of isolating something from the rest of the universe – you become unobservable because time has stopped.
What if the same were true for virtual particles? If it contains a universe, its gravity and speed of inflation would separate it from our universe. The small energy signature could be residual or leakage from the contained universe. A black hole releases radiation (Hawking Radiation) so that is a detectable verification of this idea, but one would say a black hole’s radiation is much higher than that of a virtual particle. Well, a black hole isn’t expanding faster than light – it’s shrinking. Combining the gravity and the inflation could potentially have the effect of not only isolating the interior from the rest of our universe (as a black hole does) but displacing the entity itself from our dimension. Essentially, the moment the virtual particle disappears (leaving behind a weak residual energy signature) it has experienced its Big Bang and as a result, has separated itself into its own dimension, creating a universe with it. Alternatively, it could be in the same dimension, but due to the isolating effect of gravity and super-light-speed travel, we cannot observe it, nor can it affect us.
It’s not new to say that the universe created itself out of a quantum fluctuation, but it should be new (unless somebody thought of this before me again – just like with the Poplawski theory) to say that quantum fluctuations are in fact creating universes and we are in fact seeing that happen when virtual particles appear and disappear. Not only does this build on an existing theory – the zero-energy universe model (and thus all the evidence, research and experimentation that has gone with it), but it bridges the gap where one could ask how this universe continued to expand when most virtual particles disappear and leave energy behind.
The exciting thing is this is testable to some degree. Many string theory supporters have been hoping the LHC will launch a particle at sufficient energy levels to send it into another dimension. Basically, the particle would “disappear” and we’d have a missing energy signal. If we do achieve this, that would potentially be evidence of further dimensions and be a whole new platform for us to work science on.
I think I should also mention at this point that Dr. Tyson mentioned something somewhat related to this topic. He asked that if it was possible that someone was launching particles from another dimension (like we would at the LHC) and they are appearing in our dimension as quantum fluctuations. This was during the 2011 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate for those interested – entertaining to watch, just YouTube it.
Well, I would like to rephrase his point because it was sort of laughed off as a joke. What if it wasn’t “someone”? It’s entirely likely that higher dimensions have higher states of energy. For example, their universal constants might have a higher value and their speed of light could be greater or it could be possible to exceed light speed. In that case, it’s entirely likely that such an occurrence could happen naturally. No, not someone launching particles into our dimension – just a natural occurrence at higher energy states. This would provide an interesting approach for string theory scientists, as well as address the mystery of quantum fluctuations.
Anyway, that’s my random shower-time theory. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of these but it always gets me excited when my brain starts trying to connect separate pieces of knowledge that I’ve acquired.
Regarding my passion for writing, I’ve been a bit lacklustre lately. Full time work coupled with a dimming inspiration has made it difficult for me to “pick up the pen” so to speak.
Luckily science is absolutely awe inspiring (though I usually write fantasy over sci-fi). I was reminded of time dilation whilst reading about the universe and it made me want to write something. Something that is poetic in a way only science can be, and yet still informative and intellectual.
I have to admit, I may have bitten off more than I could chew. It was very difficult to make scientific references, whilst keeping character and maintain a rough scientific accuracy. A fuller explanation of this story can be found in this post, but I recommend you read the story first.
See if you can name all the scientific references I made! Otherwise, just enjoy.
The Loneliest Particle in the Universe
I am born into a frozen plane.
Behind me is a surging mass of super heated elements. I know this, but to my eyes it is dim and grey. And unmoving. Everything around me is unmoving.
There are more stars like the one behind me but they are few and far between. They provide a speckle of grey on an overwhelmingly black canvas.
There is no direction or goal, but my nature compels me to move forward. I leave my place of origin and venture alone into the black void.
I begin to pass rocks, planets and stars. Soon, I am crossing galaxies, but still, nothing around me moves. The worlds around me are desolate and empty.
I pass clusters of galaxies with innumerable stars but I am still alone. Nothing moves. The universe around me is frozen. It is not dead, but neither is it truly alive. Kind of like me. I am not dead, because I exist, but am I really alive? More stars pass as I ponder this. Perhaps I am both dead and alive. I may never know which. I need somebody to verify my existence – somebody who is not me.
As I pass through the empty universe, I search frantically for somebody, anybody who can tell me that I am real. That I am alive. Time stands still for everything around me, but I cannot stop. I am compelled to move only forward, straight and true. It is in my nature.
I grow tired. Not physically, for I have not aged, but emotionally I am drained. I see the vast universe around me but I am completely alone. I see others that look like me, some travelling and some just born, but the moment I lay eyes on them, a part of them is frozen to the spot and a part I cannot see is gone. Perhaps they are just like me – stuck in their own frozen planes.
Finally, I see a planet. Like everything around it, it is dim and grey, but somehow it feels … blue. What excites me most is what I see on the planet’s surface. Sentient life, capable of communication and thus capable of telling me if I am real.
A moment of surprise hits me as I pass through the atmosphere. Large clusters of molecules hang liquid in the air. As I pass through them, I feel my body pulled and stretched to breaking point. All manner of colour bursts forth from me but I struggle forward. It feels as if parts of me cannot keep up, but I continue straight ahead. It is in my nature.
My excitement mounts as I pass overhead, but soon I realise my happiness is premature. These creatures are frozen too, and I am moving too fast. Even if they spot a part of me, I realise I will be gone. Just like the others, I cannot truly be seen or measured. I can never know if I am alive.
It happens too quickly but I am gone. The blackness before me is soul crushing. The star here is dark – far darker than anything I’ve seen so far – and I feel as though all hope is lost. I know there is more sentience out there, but I also know now that I am a paradox. Nobody can truly see me. I will travel over 93 billion light years and not a second will go by. But for the entire journey I will be alone.
From my birth I was destined to be frozen in that one single moment for all eternity. I am Photon, the loneliest particle in the universe.
“If you stare at nothing for long enough, something will appear”
– Lawrence Krauss
The idea that something can’t come from nothing has been rendered obsolete by quantum mechanics. Just as Krauss says, if you observe a space of absolutely nothing (a vacuum), particles will appear and disappear frequently from the nothingness (quantum fluctuations). I mentioned more on this in my post about how the universe can create itself out of nothing.
One of the things you’ll often hear when asking people why they are religious is that it is comforting. The idea of life after death, an eternity with your loved ones and belonging to something greater than yourself can be immensely reassuring to many people. By comparison, the scientific view may seem cruel; the universe doesn’t care about your existence and once you die, you simply cease to exist.
It’s been said many times that what’s comforting is completely irrelevant to the pursuit of truth. I completely agree. I posit that anyone who needs such comfort so desperately as to turn a blind eye to the truth is a sad and sorry person indeed. Anybody who uses this reason as a justification for their religious beliefs is, perhaps, so damaged or so afraid of responsibility that it may not be healthy to wean them off religion by encouraging the pursuit of truth.
So I offer an alternative view. I have never questioned the value of my existence because of this simple fact.
Something is only precious because it is rare.
Think about that for a moment. The rarer something is, the more precious it becomes. What’s the rarest thing of all? Life. You will only ever have one life and it is an opportunity for you. If you were born to die, the only thing that defines you is what you do while you are alive.
What theists consider to be comforting – the promise of eternal life – I think is just cheapening the value of life. It is no longer rare because it is no longer fleeting. It is not precious.
If you have an infinite amount of time to do something, there is no urgency to make every moment count. There’s no strong need to love, learn, spend time with your family or even live.
As for belonging to something greater than yourself, what bigger thing is there than the universe? The atoms in your left hand could have come from a different star than the atoms of your right hand, billions of years ago somewhere in the universe. Some people feel insignificant when they think about how vast the universe is, but just imagine – your entire existence was created by things infinitesimally greater than yourself.
So what’s more comforting? That’s up to you to decide. But for me, life has never been more fleeting, and thus precious, more tiny, and thus grand, than when I discovered science and truth.
I just want to do a quick post here so I won’t go into too much detail or include all arguments.
There seems to be some sort of wired-in expectation that things should be more or less symmetrical. Let’s not get too into supersymmetry here – though I should point out that the supersymmetry theory (SUSY) took a hit recently from results at the LHC. BSmeson decay was set to one in every 300 million Bsmesons, close to what the standard model predicts. Those of you that are more science savvy will probably understand why this is a hit to SUSY but basically it’s like god of gaps argument. It is an ever-receding range of likelihood; if BSmeson decay ends up being the rate predicted by the standard model, there’s no space for SUSY any more. As I said above, one in 300 million is getting pretty close, so the possibility of SUSY being successful just got smaller.
Anyway, back on topic. We seem to think things should be basically symmetrical. You can see this on a spiritual scale, with the concept of karma. There’s even that sort of mentality where if you’ve done something wrong, you can assuage your guilt through good deeds (altruism). On a more scientific note, people have an expectation that the universe is perfectly balanced. Everything was “perfect” because if it wasn’t, the universe wouldn’t have formed the way it did. Everything was “perfect” for the conditions of life. We can get a little more technical and even claim the universe is perfectly “even”, as shown by the cosmological principle which suggests homogeneity.
Let’s take a look at this assumption of “perfect balance”. Well, first of all, people often quote homogeneity wrong. The universe is not completely even, nor symmetrical. That much would be obvious if you actually put some thought into it yourself instead of quoting homogeneity. The average density (as well as other factors) of the universe is the same no matter where you look, but it’s not completely uniform.
Next up, the matter-antimatter imbalance. People are often asking “if antimatter exists, where is it all?” or “how come we live on planets made of matter instead of antimatter?”. Well, let me put to rest any doubts you have about the existence of antimatter. It is real, and created on a daily basis at facilities such as the LHC. As for the imbalance? The leading theory is CP violation. Again, I don’t want to get too deep into another theory but basically CP symmetry postulates that all negative equivalents of particles should have the exact same properties (but reversed) as their positive counterparts. CP violation (or CP symmetry violation) is basically the violation of that rule. There’s quite a lot of evidence for CP violation and it can be reproduced in experiments to show that antiparticles do not, in fact, replicate their positive counterparts. Specific to the matter-antimatter imbalance is the fact that antimatter has a much shorter decay rate. Basically, it disappears faster than matter does, which is why we’re left with a predominantly matter filled universe (though I do have some evidence that could suggest antimatter clusters; I’ll save that for another post).
Finally, let’s go to the very beginning. After the Big Bang spread a cloud of cosmic gas, gravity acted to cause these to cluster and form stellar bodies. But think about it for a second. If this matter were spread perfectly evenly throughout the universe, then gravity would act on each individual particle with the exact same force in every direction. There could be no formation of anything unless there was an imbalance, an imperfection in this uniformity.
The reality? Our universe was born imperfect, and that’s why we exist today.
In 5 billion years, the expansion of the universe will have progressed to the point where all other galaxies will have receded beyond detection. Indeed, they will be receding faster than the speed of light, so detection will be impossible. Future civilizations will discover science and all its laws, and never know about other galaxies or the cosmic background radiation. They will inevitably come to the wrong conclusion about the universe……We live in a special time, the only time, where we can observationally verify that we live in a special time.
– Lawrence M. Krauss
Just imagine – a day when the skies are completely black at night and no matter how advanced technology gets (if classical physics is right and light speed is the max), they will never know anything about other stars or galaxies. The only evidence that they ever existed would be old stories. Mind blowing stuff.
By the way, I’ve heard a question in response to this quote basically wondering how the galaxies can be receding faster than light speed if light speed is the maximum. The reason is because the receding of galaxies is not “physical” travel through space, but rather it is the expansion of the fabric of space-time. Those familiar with science will understand this. If it helps, imagine two dots on the surface of a balloon. As you inflate the balloon, the two dots move farther apart because the surface of the balloon is expanding, but their physical locations on the balloon is still the “same” (i.e. the dots aren’t moving along the balloon, they’re still where you put them – it’s the surface of the balloon that’s stretching).
I feel like I’ve been neglecting the literary side of this blog for a while now and will remedy that in the near future. However, today I want to address a conceptual problem in the (often theistic) claim that the universe could not have appeared out of nothing because that is a violation of physical laws. Well, guess what? It’s not.
I’ll try keep this post short and easy to understand, so just keep in mind there are decades of scientific study and evidence going into this, and it is in no way as simple as I can make it seem. Let’s start from the beginning.
Matter, antimatter, and photons all consist of positive energy. However, this energy is exactly balanced out by the negative gravitational energy of the everything in the universe. Essentially, we have a universe where the total energy is zero (J.M. Pasachoff and A.V. Filippenko, 2001). If you remember Einstein’s famous equation, you’ll know this means all matter is also equal to zero. Basically, we live in nothing, but fortunately, the nothing is separated into the positive and negative parts. To use Stephen Hawking’s analogy, it’s like a man building a pile of dirt on a flat land. As he digs up dirt, the pile of dirt is exactly the same size as the hole he is digging. They balance each other out.
Now to see why gravitational potential energy is considered negative because potential energy is considered negative by convention in science. A quick explanation for you guys would be to consider this: an object at rest an infinite distance away from a source of gravity will be said to have zero kinetic energy (as it is resting) and zero gravitational energy (as it is infinitely far away, so it does not experience gravity). As the object gets closer to the gravitational source, it gains kinetic energy (by moving towards it due to the attraction), but this energy is exactly balanced out by the negative gravitational energy. This energy is negative because to counteract the energy of the system, you would have to put in more energy (to push the object away from the gravitational source). If you have to add more energy to get back to zero, then the potential energy of the attraction is obviously negative.
Together, this is known as a zero-energy universe and, along with inflation, suggests that all that is needed is a tiny volume of energy to get things started and the universe will experience inflationary expansion without creating net energy. So essentially, the universe is still nothing, just in positive and negative states (where we live in the positive state).
Well, those of you that are sharp enough to pick up on the details will be asking “where did this tiny volume of energy to get things started come from?” which would lead you back to the original question, how to get that little something from nothing? Here comes the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. This is a long established scientific law that allows for particles and antiparticles to appear out of nothing and then annihilate each other without violating conservation of energy. These pairs are known as virtual particles and appear in a process known as quantum fluctuation. Studies have shown quantum fluctuations to appear everywhere at all times, so really, something is appearing out of nothing all around us. Although the virtual particles annihilate each other, they leave a very real effect on the energy levels of atoms. Originally, the Uncertainty Principle (part of quantum theory) was to help account for experimentally measure energy levels disagreeing with predicted levels, and introduced quantum fluctuation, which had to be accounted for to arrive at correct answers.
Again, the smart ones will see where I’m going, and it’s almost done. If we understand that energy can appear out of nothing, then it is entirely possible and even likely that our universe appeared out of “nothing”. There’s possibly one last argument that can be made – the Uncertainty Principle only applies to tiny particles. Well, let’s not forget the singularity that exploded in the Big Bang was, by definition of singularity, an infinitely small point. As Hawking has said, the universe is the “ultimate free lunch”. We got it out of nothing without violating any laws of physics.
Here’s a little bonus to add on to the concept of a zero-energy universe where the positive and negative are separated. Scientists at the University of Michigan developed a mathematical model allowing a super-high-energy electron laser to rip apart nothingness (a vacuum) into its matter and antimatter components (http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/8167). Basically, what we call “nothing” is actually a perfect balance of positive and negative components – our universe could essentially just be an expanding “nothingness” caused by quantum fluctuation.
This is just going to be a quick one and is closely related to these two posts: the original post on the black hole multiverse and alternate dimensions and the follow up post explaining Hawking’s Information Paradox and how it gives strong supportive evidence for the first post.
I don’t know how many people analysed my theory closely enough to realise this but considering the black hole multiverse theory is correct (there is a universe in every singularity and our universe is just the core of a black hole of an even greater universe), we still need to understand how the uppermost and lowermost universe work. As I was walking home from the gym I came to a solution for this problem, which is similar to saying “how can the universe exist by itself without boundaries” (because if the uppermost universe containing all the other universes is the final universe, that makes it a boundary).
As I lay out my proof, I want you to keep in mind that for the universe to be independent (that is, self-creating and -functioning), it has to have a net effect of zero. The existence of negative energy (such as anti-matter) is evidence for our universe being independent. The analogy Hawking uses is a man making a hill on a flat, dirt land. To make the hill, the man has to dig dirt out of the floor and pile it up. As the hill (the universe) is formed, an equal hole is formed so the net effect is zero. Something was not formed out of nothing, it was formed by splitting the positive and negative parts. I’ll explain this mathematically so it makes more sense. If we start off with nothing, we have zero. But we can have 10 if we also have -10, because together, they still equal zero. There is still nothing, it’s just split up. Let x equal any number of anything (matter for example). +x -x = 0, so we still have nothing, but the two parts are split up. Hawking proposes that the empty space in the universe contains the negative portion of our universe. I’ll clarify this later when I’ve read more papers on negative energy.
Anyway, now that we know it’s entirely possible for the universe to exist independently (I can prove this, and may do so in a later blog post – suffice to say, it is not necessary for any “divine creator” to exist because the universe can create itself under the laws of physics), we have a number of possibilities to explain the uppermost and lowermost universes.
To make things easier, think of all the universes collectively as a multi-layered fountain. Matter is the water that flows through the fountain. Black holes (which contain singularities that suck matter from that level of universe) are like holes in that level of the fountain. Assume there’s one hole for every black hole. That means water flows through these holes (black holes) into the next level (the next universe). Now the question is, how does the highest level of this fountain (the uppermost universe) get its water (matter)? Well, the analogy should make it obvious but the most logical answer is that the lowermost universe is connected to the uppermost universe (such as a special type of black hole). With the fountain analogy, it would be a pump (water is pumped back up to the top of a fountain so the fountain flows independently, in case you didn’t know). Essentially, we have a loop (again). If we consider black holes to be doorways into an alternate universe, it would be like a circular hallway with many doors partitioning the hall. The first door opens to the second, which opens to the third and so on until the last door opens back to the first one.
Now, I anticipate some confusion over how something can contain itself in itself (because two boxes the same size will not fit in each other right?). Well that’s where the dimensions come in. “Size” is not a reliable measure when you start transcending dimensions. Proof? You can draw a straight line infinitely long but its area (a 2D measure) will always equal zero. Similarly, you can draw a 2D square infinitely large but its volume (a 3D measure) will always equal zero. As you can see, when you move between dimensions, size is not a valid measurement, and considering the proposed 11 dimensions (based on quantum mechanics and string theory), it’s entirely possible that the universe can contain itself inside itself. What’s more is that the assumption that dimensions move in a positive direction (for lack of a better word to describe this concept) is not actually set in stone. We could have negative dimensions, which cancel out the positive dimensions, arriving at a net effect of zero (as required for an independent universe) and making it even more possible for the universe to be self-containing.
Anyway, if anybody was looking deeply enough into my earlier posts and identified this “problem” I have now just proposed a solution.
As you can probably tell, I’m quite obsessed with this science stuff now. The reason is because I basically found an intellectual keystone – one piece of knowledge that managed to connect all the other scientific knowledge I had into a single coherent theory. It’s an amazing feeling when everything just falls into place, which is why I can’t stop thinking about it.
This is actually a bit of a continuation from my earlier post on the multiverse and additional dimensions theory, and is basically supporting evidence for the multiverse (which is itself evidence for additional dimensions).
To avoid things getting messy, I’m going to break this into three subheadings.
You can easily do a quick wikipedia on him if you want to find out the more mundane details of his life. I’m just going to quickly mention some relevant things about him.
Hawking has a motor neurone disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) which has confined him to a wheelchair. As he is almost fully paralyzed, he communicates with facial twitches and a speech device where he enters types the words he wants to say by scrolling across a virtual keyboard with his eyes. This condition alone is proof of his genius as he rationalises complex theoretical physics in his mind without the benefit of being able to write things down. Honestly, I can’t stress enough how amazing that is. I hated 4 unit maths in high school and I had textbooks, the internet and calculators to rely on. His peers have said that Hawking works on intuition that is freakishly accurate, as if he is in tune with the universe in the same way that Einstein and Newton were.
Hawking’s black hole equation combined separate major fields of physics into one elegant formula, the first time (and only time to my knowledge) that separate fields of physics have been unified. Those of you who know a bit about physics will know why this is a big deal – there are many types of physics and they have never been unified under one single model before (which would be known as the theory of everything). The Hawking-Bekenstein entropy equation is:
Where S is entropy from thermodynamics, c is the constant for the speed of light from Einstein’s work, k is the Boltzmann constant, G is Newton’s constant for gravity, h is the Planck constant from quantum physics, and A is the area of the black hole.
Not only is this a combination of different fields of physics, it is a simple equation (which is considered mathematically beautiful, like Einstein’s e=mc^2).
The last thing I want to mention are a few of his theories that are relevant to this post. First, he provided mathematical proof for the beginning of the universe (the big bang), he not only described the mechanism of black holes mathematically, but defined many of the laws governing them (such as the event horizon, which is the region around the black hole which if you enter, there is no escape), and he also predicted that black holes would evaporate over time.
The Information Paradox:
The Information Paradox was something Hawking came to based on his work on black holes. Black holes break everything down into subatomic particles and suck them into the core of its gravity – a singularity (defined as a point that is infinitely small, infinitely dense, with an infinite gravity). The gravitational force of a black hole is so strong that not even light can escape. The implication of this is that whatever is sucked into a black hole is lost forever (or rather, it is stuck in the black hole forever).
However, Hawking later proved that black holes would evaporate over time. This is related to two facts: first, black holes emit radiation (a form of energy) and second, E=mc^2. Einstein’s equation means that energy and mass are essentially the same thing, just in different forms (you can mathematically represent energy/mass as a function of the other). What this means is that if black holes emit energy, they need to burn mass to do so; thus if a black hole runs out of mass (given that it runs out of stuff to suck in and burns out its core), it will evaporate.
Why was this huge news to the science world? Because the laws of physics (conservation of mass and energy) state that you cannot destroy mass/energy, only change its form. Information is “coded” into particles, and can never be lost. A visual representation of this would be if I tear a piece of paper to shreds. If I have all the pieces still, and a knowledge of how they fit together, I could theoretically recreate the original paper. The same applies to everything in the universe – if I burn a tree inside a containment unit, I would have everything that tree (and the fire) was made out of inside that containment unit. Theoretically, I could use those ingredients to remake the tree. However, Hawking’s proof of black hole evaporation violated this most fundamental law. If a black hole disappeared, what happened to all the information it absorbed? It would disappear with the black hole, a clear violation of the conservation of mass/energy. In essence, Hawking described black holes as huge cosmic machines that went around erasing parts of the universe and proclaimed that parts of the universe were missing as a result. Physicists were mind boggled and needed to disprove this theory. Why? Because the implications were that if black holes could violate this law, then the law was no longer a law of the universe. If it was no longer a law, that means that information anywhere in the universe could potentially be erased, and not just inside black holes. Further, at this time more black holes were discovered – there were supermassive black holes and micro black holes. There could even be micro black holes existing in your room as you read this. If black holes have the power to erase information, how can you say anything you know or see or feel or believe is real? Nothing is certain if everything is impermanent. This caused a huge fuss and was known as the Information Paradox.
Later, a theoretical physicist, Leonard Susskind came up with an alternative theory to solve the Information Paradox. The science world breathed a sigh of relief, but Hawking was determined to prove Susskind was wrong.
Unfortunately, at this point Hawking’s ALS got even worse. He was hospitalised but miraculously, he survived and went back to work. By now, he was so paralyzed that he had to get a student to help him work. Hawking would feed him ideas and the student would do the calculations and try to prove the concepts. As Hawking’s ALS got worse, his work became frustratingly slow. Now, his student tries to anticipate what Hawking wants to say (Hawking types the first few letters of a word and he guesses what word Hawking means).
Anyway, after getting out of hospital, Hawking went to a renown physics conference and made a public statement. He admitted that he had been wrong – information was not erased. However, he also declared Susskind wrong and claimed to have solved the paradox himself. I haven’t read this paper (it’s quite recent and he hasn’t provided mathematical proof yet), but from what I’ve gathered, his solution is as followed: information is not erased because it is transmitted to an alternate universe. The multiverse theory predicts an infinite number of universes, and inevitably, some of these universes will have no black holes. If there are no black holes, there is no way for information to be lost (this is a logic loop similar to time travel – if the cause of the problem doesn’t exist, you can’t have a problem in the first place). Basically, information will be transmitted through universes until it reaches a universe with no black hole, and since there is no black hole, the information can’t be lost.
Progress is ridiculously slow now – Hawking can only put out a few words a minute. Personally, I think it would be an astounding tragedy (especially in Hawking’s mind) if he becomes fully paralyzed and unable to spread his knowledge to the world. What would be more horrible was if he proved the existence of other universes but was unable to tell us. Imagine being trapped in your own mind with a universe shaking idea, fully proven, but unable to tell anybody around you.
Implications and the Multiverse Theory:
I really hope Hawking survives long enough to fully prove his new theory. It would be a tragedy for him to die with this work uncompleted as it would be definitive proof of a multiverse (because a multiverse would be necessary for the laws of physics to remain absolute).
How does this relate to my previous post? Well, as a quick refresher, I recently thought of the idea (which other scientists have also supported) that every singularity contains a universe. The reason for this is because our universe originated from a singularity that caused the big bang. Logically, all singularities have the potential to big bang and spew out its contents (a universe). There are singularities at the core of every black hole, meaning that there are hundreds of millions of universes inside our own universe, and that our own universe could just be the core of a black hole of an even greater universe (which would, by necessity, have more dimensions than us).
By the way, a quick note on the dimensions; further support for my suggestion that even more dimensions exist (and that our universe belongs to a universe with more dimensions) can be found in quantum mechanics and string theory. These two branches of physics study predict, by necessity, the existence of at least 11 dimensions. I think the fact that we’re working on string theory and alternate dimensions can be likened to the “fourth wall” in theatre – the characters of the play should not be aware of the audience’s existence but sometimes they “break the fourth wall” and hint that they do acknowledge an audience’s existence.
Back to the implications though: I believe in my previous post I suggested that the matter (or information) sucked in by a black hole is used to create a new (and smaller) universe. I made this post without thinking of Hawking’s multiverse, but the two concepts coincide well. Hawking states that by necessity, these other universes must exist to contain information that is taken from our universe. That is tantamount to what I said, that these alternate universes contain matter (information) from our current universe.
Essentially, I was beaten to goal again – this time Hawking came up with the idea before me. This stuff happens inevitably, and I admit, much of my knowledge is inspired by Hawking, but I can’t help but feel like I’m travelling in a rut because I’m arriving at the same conclusions as others. Breakthroughs need radical thinking that forges a whole new path or the thinker will inevitably run into the same dead-end as someone before them. This is way out of my depth already (I have long since lost any mathematical reasoning and have been relying on theoretical physics to rationalise my conclusions). I eagerly await Hawking’s work and am filled with admiration at the thought that even now, while I write this blog post, Hawking is painstakingly putting out a couple of words a minute to his student who is so close and yet so far from proving a multiverse.