Exploring the Multiverse
Welcome to my website! Here I will be sharing knowledge, speculation and possible implications from different perspectives and attempt to show what Idries Shah describes as the “miracle of unity.” Such unity requires understanding Natural Law and how that impacts all life everywhere in our Universe. Of course our Universe is incredibly large; current estimates of its size range from 93 billion to 7 trillion light-years depending on the model used to describe it (Space.com). A light-year (l-y) is the distance light travels in one year at the speed of 186,000 miles per second or 300 million meters per second, approximately 5.9 trillion miles or 9.5 trillion kilometers.
The photograph below is the famous Hubble Ultra Deep Field which was imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) between September 24, 2003 and January 16, 2004. There were a total of 800 exposures during 400 orbits of the HST for a total exposure time of 11.3 days. During this time, the HST was pointed at a seemingly dark patch of space. The image shows approximately 10,000 galaxies in various stages of evolution. Every point of light is a galaxy–the fainter ones being further away or smaller (esahubble.org).
The image below shows the Andromeda galaxy, which is the nearest galaxy to our own, the Milky Way, in what is known as the local group. The Andromeda galaxy, or M31 contains about 1 trillion stars and is about 200,000 l-y across whereas the Milky Way has about 100 billion stars and is about 100,000 l-y across. M31 is about 2.5 million light-years away which means that its light takes 2.5 million years to reach us.
When looking at this image, we are seeing the galaxy as it appeared 2.5 million years ago. This looking back in time applies to all objects we observe; the farther away they are, the further back in time we are seeing. There is no instantaneous transfer of information from one location to another, or is there? This would require packets of information (such as photons) to travel at infinite speed, but how fast is that? It is impossible for finite minds to comprehend infinity!
However, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity predicts the existence of particles called tachyons which have the peculiar properties of backwards time travel, faster than light (ftl) speeds and to some observers, infinite speed (sites.pitt.edu)! The best scientific minds have struggled to comprehend the implications of Einstein’s theories, and just recently (2015), one hundred years after the publication his General Theory, another prediction, gravitational waves were detected by the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory). These gravity waves were apparently caused by the collision of two blackholes, another prediction of Einstein’s theory.
As important as Einstein’s theory has been in understanding the Universe on the macroscopic (big picture) scale, there is another field of physics which is perhaps as crucial (or even more so) to comprehending the Universe on the sub-microscopic (atomic/sub-atomic) scale. Unfortunately, quantum mechanics provides very indefinite explanations about the behavior of energy and matter at such scales. Einstein himself (no big fan of quantum theory) famously stated that “God does not play dice with the Universe,” referring to the seeming randomness and probabilistic nature of quantum theory.
Quantum theory is very strange and apparently contradictory with ideas such as quantum tunneling, quantum entanglement (“spooky action-at-a-distance”) and wave-particle duality. The image below is an artists conception of the quantum world. The quantum revolution was begun by Max Planck, who developed the idea of the quantization of energy (massless packets of energy or quanta like photons). This new way of looking at reality has been supported by much experimental evidence despite the difficulty of understanding its predictions. It is very ironic that Einstein, given his disregard for quantum theory, received his only Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of the photoelectric effect (1905), which propelled the quantum revolution! Einstein rejected the implications that the quantum theorists attached to it.
When Einstein was developing his relativity, he was inspired by the philosophers David Hume and Ernst Mach, and abandoned the idea of absolute simultaneity (Norton, John D.); this decision gave him the courage to move forward with his theory. Einstein was also heavily influenced by the work of James Clerk Maxwell, who a little more than half a century earlier had unified electricity and magnetism in his theory of electromagnetism which continues to consistently explain electric and magnetic interactions. This unification of different phenomena into one theory began what Einstein and others would continue into the 20th and 21st centuries: the search for a single Grand Unified Theory (GUT) which explained all physical existence in this Universe. Einstein’s motivation for finding a unified field theory combining electromagnetism and gravity was to be able to explain the currently known physical Universe without invoking quantum theory. His quest consumed the last 30 years of his life with his work papers scattered next to him on his death bed. Einstein firmly believed in a rational and deterministic set of rules by which the Universe operated; he also believed in an infinite and static steady-state Universe until the discovery by Edwin Hubble of an expanding Universe in 1929. Einstein’s reluctance to open his mind to quantum possibilities may have been the cause of his failure to find a unified field theory.
The next milestone in the unification movement came during the 1940’s with the development of quantum electrodynamics (QED) which successfully brought together under one set of rules (quantum field theory) relativistic and quantum mechanical ideas (Britannica.com). QED explains all interactions between light and matter (as first noted in Einstein’s photo-electric effect) and between all charged particles. First begun by Paul Dirac in 1928 with his discovery of the quantum wave equation, QED was refined by the independent work of Richard Feynman, Julian Schwinger and Tomonaga Shin’ichiro (ibid). A curious idea in QED is that photons, which transfer electromagnetic (e-m) forces, are treated as virtual particles which cannot be detected–to do so would violate the law of conservation of energy and mass which states that these can neither be created nor destroyed only transformed (ibid).
So far I have discussed only a small part of the currently known foundation of how our Universe works. All the physics summarized so far relates only (as far as we know) to about 4% of what makes up our Universe. What about the other 96%? That is a really big question I will explore later. For now, suffice it to say that the 96% is made up of “dark” matter (23%) and “dark” energy (73%). The term dark is used because astrophysicists have no clue what they are since they don’t absorb or emit any known form of radiation (information). There is speculation that dark matter could be “hiding” inside of supermassive black holes. Astronomers also have no idea what’s going on inside of blackholes. The laws of physics (as we currently understand them) may not even apply there. The proposed existence of these phenomena is based on astronomical evidence which can’t be explained in any other way (i. e. by the 4% ordinary matter/energy).
Getting back to unification (of the 4%), so far only two forces have been discussed: gravity and electromagnetism. There are however two other forces which need to be mentioned–the strong and weak nuclear forces. The strong nuclear force is responsible for holding the nucleus (which is made up of neutrons and protons) together. Since the existence of protons had already been been discovered by Goldstein and Rutherford (wikipedia) and Chadwick had discovered the neutron in 1932 (scholarpedia), there had to be an explanation of why atomic nuclei (where the protons and neutron are located) are not blown apart by the mutual repulsion of the positively charged protons. In 1935 Hideki Yukawa proposed a strong nuclear force that was controlled (mediated) by the exchange of particles (mesons) between nucleons (protons and neutrons)(ibid). His idea was later (1970’s) refined in the theory of quantum chromodynamics (QCD) which proposes that the strong nuclear force is mediated by particles called quarks through the exchange of particles called gluons (because they “glue” the protons and neutrons together in stable nuclei (except for very massive elements such as uranium and other radioactive elements)(ibid).
The phenomenon of radioactivity leads us to the fourth of the four fundamental forces in nature: the weak nuclear force. Radioactivity had been known and described through the work of Ernest Rutherford, Enrico Fermi, Marie Curie, Henri Becquerel, Otto Hahn and Lise Meitner (Britannica). Radioactivity involves the interactions (decay) within large, massive and unstable nuclei (polonium being the smallest, least massive) characterized by the spontaneous emission of various particles and e-m radiation.
The cause of radioactivity is the instability of nuclei that results from the size of massive nuclei (more protons and neutrons crammed into the very small nucleus). The strong nuclear force (QCD) is only effective at very small distances within atomic nuclei. With larger and larger elements beginning with polonium, these nuclear distances become too great for the effective “gluing” together of protons and neutrons (which are made of quarks) by the exchange of gluons.
In the 1960’s, the independent work of Sheldon Glashow, Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg provided satisfactory explanation of the weak nuclear force only if they included the well known electromagnetic force in their theoretical framework (Brittanica). In this electroweak theory, four particles were required for mediation of the weak force: two charged (+,-) W particles and two neutral Z particles (ibid). These particles were experimentally observed (1983) in proton-antiproton collisions at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). The electroweak theory also postulated the existence of another particle (and field) to make it conceptually consistent. This particle was observed on July 4, 2012 in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and is known as the Higgs boson or so-called “God particle.” This is a reference to the concept that this particle (and field) give mass to all other known particles (CERN).
This summary of the physical nature of our Universe covers much of what is known that is based on experimental evidence, but many details are left out. So far as we now know, four fundamental forces exist: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force. But what happened to the so-called unification idea mentioned earlier? The currently accepted framework for explaining all of this is called the Standard Model of Particle Physics. This model includes the electroweak theory and quantum chromodynamics. QCD can be be linked with quantum electrodynamics (QED) under the umbrella of quantum field theory (Britannica and Britannica). There are alternative models to explain these four forces and the particles involved. One model, known as string theory, lacks the support of experimental observations. Critics say that the necessary observations would be impossible to obtain, but this a weak argument against it. Brian Greene is the primary proponent of string theory. Another theory, called loop quantum gravity is a variation of string theory based more closely on Einstein’s space-time geometry.
As challenging as relativity and quantum theory have been to understand and appreciate by the vast majority of people on this planet, they have nevertheless exerted a significant and broad influence in modern technology and popular culture. The current focus in theoretical physics is to bring gravity under the quantum umbrella or to find another theoretical framework which explains ALL known forces, particles and their interactions. As complicated as this sounds, most physicists agree that a truly Grand Unified-field Theory should be very simple and elegant (at least to them anyway)!
So you may be wondering (as well you should) what does any of this knowledge about our Universe have to do with the Multiverse or spirituality? Currently there are about 22 physical constants that determine (along with the laws previously mentioned) the overall nature of our universe. Cosmologists and physicists agree that these constants and laws (as we currently understand them) are “finely tuned” to allow for the evolution of structure and function from the quantum (submicroscopic) scale to the cosmic, macroscopic (astronomical) scale. This evolution includes that of life and especially intelligent life.
If however any of these laws or constants were tweaked a little the consequences would be extreme. Possibly resulting in no chances for life (as we know it) to ever exist at all let alone evolve into sentient (self-aware) intelligent life. So what about the possibilities of different constants and laws? Where would they exist? Blackholes, intergalactic space or just inside our own minds? Consider this: Edwin Hubble proved that the Universe is expanding and other astronomers have discovered that this expansion is accelerating (caused presumably by dark energy). This brings up the question: if our Universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? Also consider that the known physical constants were determined in the early moments of the creation of our Universe (Big Bang Theory) by random (quantum) variations (fluctuations). If there is “room” for our Universe to expand then there must be an awful lot (if not an infinite amount) of room for other possible universes with different sets of physical laws and constants (as determined by other random quantum fluctuations). Another consideration not mentioned earlier is that quantum causes and effects (waves, particles and interactions) can presumably extend over infinite (or nearly so) distances. Also, quantum variations can occur in “local” regions of our own Universe’s space-time which can trigger the formation of other “bubble” universes from our own.
All of these considerations point to the possibility of the existence of an infinite number of universes–many like our own pleasant and orderly home, but many that could be incredibly hostile to any possible organization or form of life. Of course, there would be many in-between universes as well. But so what? Why should we care about other universes when we have barely begun to explore our own? Knowing to better understand and deal with the realities that do exist.
At the top of every page of my website will be the guiding premise of everything I write. These words, which come from the so-called Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, have guided philosophers and scientists for many centuries. Modern physics and astronomy (as well as chemistry) have evolved from ancient times. Many of the greatest thinkers and scientists of this planet reached their grand conclusions and made their astounding discoveries by “standing on the shoulders of giant.” How can we possibly learn and benefit from our knowledge in the future if we fail to keep the lessons of the past close to our hearts and deeply within our minds? The answer is not only that we can’t, but also that if we don’t, we’ll be doomed to failure as an intelligent race in the vast Cosmos! Are there Others out there watching very closely to see how we will choose and progress or not? I think most definitely there are, but will they intervene on our behalf or just let be what will be? I think the answer to that can be found in my website’s tag line: “LOVE IS THE LAW! LOVE UNDER WILL!” If we do not truly love and through our willpower take right action in this world, then what we will do is continue to enslave ourselves and destroy any possibility or hope for a better future! Hasn’t our past been horrible enough?
Below is an artist’s conception of the Multiverse. Infinite possibilities, but what are the probabilities? I hope to see you somewhere in the Multiverse!