Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Terrapin cosmology

Skimming the archive I see that Danny did reply to something I wrote, for which I’ve offered no response.

I said,


Daniel Morgan said:

But there are even more problems. He says that “that time itself is a feature of the Big Bang,” but he goes on to say “that the energy/mass/matter of the Big Bang existed prior to the expansion.”

But if time began with the big bang, then there’s no timeline which he can retroject into the singularity; hence, his appeal to temporal priority is nonsense.

So much for his oscillating universe, which assumes a relative timeframe of expansion and contraction.


To which he said:


If only you could get off so easily:
just published article on calculating a "bounce" rather than a singularity from the GR equations --
Quantum Nature of the Big Bang

Perhaps I should clarify my point with a simple reference -- the Naked Singularity provides a way to give people an understanding of how event A can be causal to effect B without being prior temporally within B's spatio-temporal framework. If indeed every black hole is a naked singularity, we cannot deny that the space-time fabric no longer applies there. Let our universe be A and the new singularity B.
-The events that gave rise to B happened within the spatio-temporal framework of A.


It is hard to see how this is responsive to the problem. Let us remember how this aspect of the discussion got off the ground. As I recall, Danny said that modern cosmology invalidated the cosmological argument for God’s existence inasmuch as time began with the origin of the universe, in which case there could be no first cause prior to the universe itself.

i) If he believes that “event A can be causal to effect B without being prior temporally within B's spatio-temporal framework,” then what becomes of his original objection to the cosmological argument?

ii) He is tacitly assuming a relative chronology which embraces both A and B. As such, it stands outside of the chronology internal to both A and B respectively.

He is saying that events within A give rise to B. That assumes a temporal relation between A and B, as well as within A and B.

What physical structure is grounding this transcendent timeline?



-The fate of B is sealed: nothing within A can "undo" the singularity
-What occurs within B is completely unknown and unknowable from outside the event horizon, but there is no reason to suppose that B cannot undergo a transformation (independent of further causation from A) in which B expands again and produces its own, A-independent space-time.
-If anything happens within B, observers in B cannot "see" A, and can only go back to their own origin : the singularity itself.


So although there’s no direct physical evidence for A, they should postulate A anyway.

How does this differ, in principle from the reasoning for the cosmological argument?


Is it proper, though, for an observer inside of B to deny the existence of a causal A? Yes and no.

They cannot "see" A, yet it is clear that something did not come from nothing.


Of course, Aquinas, Leibniz, Swinburne, and W. L. Craig (to name a few) would agree: it’s clear that something did not come from nothing.

Moving along:


We'll wait and see, but I'll put my money on science to produce a GUT before the end of my life. The uncertainty of science doesn't bother me. Unlike yourself, I need no [quasi] claims to absolutism to sustain me. I love data, and interpretations of data change, and new data comes in all the time.


Several problems with this reply:

i) Unlike Witten, who’s a Fields medalist, Danny lacks the command of quantum geometry necessary to evaluate Brane cosmology for himself.

So he has to rely on popularizations, which he takes on faith.

ii) His appeal to the “data” continues to miss the point.

a) This assumes that the probative data is accessible.

But if Brane cosmology is a fourth-order abstraction, then how can it be descriptive of the physical universe?

We’ dealing with unobservables, not observables. Unobservables several steps removed from observation.

b) And even if the observables were available, this also assumes that the human mind enjoys direct access to the observables.

But a scientific theory of sensory processing does not justify that claim.

You cannot appeal to the “data” as some short of shortcut when the very point at issue is the inaccessibility of the data.

Moving along:


“How does Danny happen to know what the laws of physics were before the big bang? Wouldn’t’ the big bang erase any trace evidence of the “preexisting” universe?”

We don't know. In fact, that is why it is called a "singularity". The better question to ask is -- can the laws of physics we have now have originated in an event which itself canno be described by the laws of physics? If the answer is "yes", then we're done with science if the singularity is factual and historically correct. We can't go back any further. However, most people have no reason to suppose the answer is "yes", and, using mathematics and findings unavailable in Einstein's day, have seen the distinct possibility that the "singularity" may be an artefact of inadequate modeling. GR equations are insufficient, IOW. We have to have quantum gravity.

Until then, we have to use the known physics from this universe to extrapolate to how the universe arose. From there, speculating about the physics of other universes is indeed abstract and unscientific, which leads to your next point:

“vii) Likewise, why assume an alternative universe must be governed by the same laws and constants of nature?”

Great question! In fact, there is no reason to suppose that at all! Which, nicely, slices the Anthropic principle to pieces. If one single configuration of the constants gives rise to a universe which itself harbors life, and there are a huge number of other universes produced which do not harbor life, some of which capable of producing more black holes and singularities and "seeded universes", or not, the AP is defeated.

Of course, erstwhile models supposed a huge number of cycles of this one universe, something still unable to be scientifically disproven for the very reason you bring up -- the 2LoT, often invoked to falsify "steady state" universes, is "reset" with each singularity -- we cannot know what happens to "state functions" like the laws of thermodynamics through a singularity, and there is no reason to suppose they carry their net value through, versus becoming "0" again on the other side. The other observation intended to quash the steady-state is that our universe is expanding. A question is -- are the distant galaxies accelerating towards black holes which are, themselves, the seeds of new universes?

Either way, multiverse or single universe, with a cycle, with constants that do or do not change, then the whole anthropic principle is defeated.


Several more problems:

i) If the latest phase of an oscillating universe erases the evidence of a prior phase, then what evidence is there for an oscillating universe in the first place?

ii) If the laws of our universe may not be applicable to a previous cycle, then how can one offer a physical model of the oscillating universe as a whole?

iii) Why does Danny reject the cosmology argument on the grounds that it would violate the laws of physics when he endorses Brane cosmology, according to which it may well be illicit to extrapolate the constants governing this phase of the oscillating universe to the preceding cycle?

iv) In their yearning to abandon the anthropic principle, it’s striking to see unbelievers abandon Occam’s razor.

v) The cosmological argument is not dependent on the anthropic principle. Fine-tuning is just one version of the cosmological argument.

The fundamental principle underlying the cosmological argument, and, indeed, rational explanation generally, is the principle of sufficient reason.

Even if the megaverse or cyclical universe were true, the principle of sufficient reason would still obtain.

Leibniz could easily adapt the cosmological argument to a megaverse or cyclical universe.



This field is quite interesting on a variety of levels. Some are scientific, some "just" philosophical, but all give us pause for thought to consider the nearly endless possibilities of the origin and fate of our universe (and others).


In that event, why is he pinning his hopes on a GUT?

Moving along:


That's why I have wonder and awe of nature, while refusing to inject "God" into my own ignorance of what happened, as "God" explains nothing and gives me no more understanding or knowledge. "Poof" doesn't tell me a darn thing.


Danny continues to indulge his childish and anti-intellectual characterization of theism. Did he get this infantile adjective from Babinski?

To say that God has no explanatory power merely exhibits his ignorance of the literature.

His willful ignorance is no better than terrapin cosmology: it’s turtles all the way down.


Current quantum gravity work will probably do a complete overhaul of everything people have done thus far (modifying it for the better, of course).


“A complete overhaul of everything people have done thus far.”

Is this supposed to inspire confidence in the veracity of cosmological theorizing?

Danny speaks with the native optimism of the young. The great breakthrough is just around the corner.

The problem is that some of us have been around this corner before. Taking four right turns in a row is not a sign of progress.


  1. I just can't


    stand it any longer. I really


    really want to read this


    post but the format is so reader-

    ***META-INFO HERE***

    hostile that I can only assume

    ***!!! >:( >:( >:( !!!****

    that Steve does NOT want


    anyone to actually read it.

    < blockquote >
    Quoted text here
    < / blockquote >

  2. Kaff,

    It's not as if I get paid for blogging, and it's not as if I charge for the service.

  3. Steve, what I am trying to say is that I, and probably other readers, *want* to read what you wrote--it's valuable and insightful. But we *can't* because it's an unformatted mess. Do you want us to read or not?

  4. Hey, it wasn't that bad...

    It was readable for me.

  5. The logic and physical understanding is flawed:

    Projecting backwards to a naked singularity requires an assumption that isn't observed.

    The only evidence that we actually have at our disposal indicates that "nothing" doesn't exist, so you can't assume that the singularity was absolute, and if it was not, then yes... the footprint for everything that existed in the last universe will indeed be cast into the next regardless of whether time restarts or not.

    It is not logical to think that you can get asymmetry from absolute symmetry.