THE WHOLE SHEBANG: THE BIG BANG THEORY OF OUR UNIVERSE

…for the Heav’n’s wide Circuit, let it speak For Maker’s high magnificence, who built So spacious, and his Line stretcht out so far; That Man may know he dwells not in his own; An Ediface too large for him to fill, Lodg’d in a small partition and the rest Ordain’d for uses his Lord best known. (Milton, Paradise Lost, Book VIII, lines 100-106) The idea that everything in the world has a meaning is precisely analogous to the principle that everything has a cause on which the whole of science rests. (Kurt Gödel) 1 It would be possible to describe absolutely everything scientifically, but it would make no sense. It would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. (Albert Einstein) 2
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THE WHOLE SHEBANG: THE BIG BANG THEORY OF OUR UNIVERSE As far as I can see, such a theory [the Big Bang] remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question. It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental Being... For the believer, it removes any attempt at familiarity with God... It is consonant with Isaiah speaking of the hidden God, hidden even in the beginning of the universe. (Georges Lemaitre, Catholic Jesuit priest and theoretical cosmologist who first postulated the foundational aspects of the Big Bang theory) 3 the universe must go through a calculable number of combinations in the great game of chance which constitutes its existence... In infinity, at some moment or other, every possible combination must once have been realized; not only this, but it must also have been realized an infinite number of times (Friedrich Nietzsche) 4

The Fundamental Questions Why is there something rather than nothing? Why do we exist? Why this particular set of laws and not some other?5 Why does time appear to run in only one direction in our universe?6 Some Other Difficult Questions What determines what the universe is like when it emerges from the singularity? If space and time didn’t exist before the singularity, how do we account for the laws of physics did they exist before the singularity? How can one apply the usual methods of science to a unique event like the singularity?7 Might non-luminous matter in the universe be composed of elementary particles created after the singularity that are presently unknown to science? Why is the visible universe composed of matter rather than antimatter?8 The Starting Assumptions (1) There is no picture - or theory-independent concept of reality. 9 What is part of the Real is always model-dependent. That is, we have departed from a classical understanding of the external world where physical things “are definite and independent of the observer who perceives them.”10 Instead, we inhabit a quantum world where the Real is determined by
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probabilities, not certainties that things exist as we perceive them. In fact, our act of observation changes their properties. Our Archimedes Point, a view outside the system of our inquiry that enables us to understand the complete workings of the system, is forever lost. Thus, “model-dependent realism corresponds to the way we perceive objects.”11 “The model that explains the most about our present observation, including the historical and geological evidence, is the best representation we have of the past.” 12 (2) The universe that humans presently inhabit was created 13.7 billion years ago.13 (3) The universe that humans can presently observe is made up of three spacial dimensions and one dimension of time.14 This is referred to as spacetime and is best described by the laws of General Relativity for macroscales and quantum physics for microscales. What is presently missing is a theory of quantum gravity, a law that explains what happens to spacetime at very small scales around the Plank length (a billion-trillion-trillionth of a centimeter; 10-33 centimeters).15 Presently, the best guess for what happens “when the universe was small enough to be governed by both general relativity and quantum theory” is that “there were effectively four dimensions of space and none of time.... our usual ideas of space and time do not apply to the very early universe.” 16 (4) Very early on in the life of our universe, a period of spacetime inflation occurred. This inflation was comparable to blowing up a one centimeter in diameter coin to ten million times the width of the Milky Way. This spacetime inflation of the universe occurred in much less than a nanosecond and is the reason it appears that all galaxies we can observe are moving away from us and those galaxies furthest away are moving faster than those closer.17 The process that describes the origin of the universe is called the “big bang.”18 (5) “Universes in which life can exist are rare.... if the universe were only slightly different, beings like us could not exist.”19 The Copernican principle suggests that “in the grand scheme of things, everything we know points towards human beings not occupying a privileged position” in our universe.20 There may exist as many as 10500 self-consistent worlds in the universe, each with randomly selected constants of nature and differing laws of physics and forces of Nature. All the possible sates defining the laws and constants of physics that our small bubble universe that we inhabit could potentially be part of is known as the landscape.21 (6) The arrow of time points in only one direction on a macroscale. This is due to the second law of thermodynamics that says that under normal conditions the entropy of a system always increases.22
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THE WHOLE SHEBANG: THE BIG BANG THEORY OF OUR UNIVERSE

The Arrow of Time in our Pocket Universe23 T = < 0: There are four dimensions of space and no dimension of time.24 What exists is vacuum space. Random quantum fluctuations in this vacuum space “lead to the creation of tiny universes out of nothing.” A few of these tiny pocket universes reach critical size, undergo inflation, forming galaxies, stars, and at least in one case, beings like us.”25 T = 0: A quantum fluctuation in the multiverse forms our specific pocket universe. The fact that we exist and can know this is determined by the weak anthropic principle (or selection principle). Out of all the infinite pocket universes that exist in the multiverse, our universe happens to be randomly selected to support life. 26 T = < 10-43 seconds (T= 10-43 seconds is the Planck time): the universe exhibits a quantum wavelike behavior that Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity cannot describe. This is the era of quantum gravity, “when the very nature of space and time becomes uncertain.” 27 T = > 10-35 seconds: all four know forces would have approximately the same strength. Vibrating strings (M-String Theory) have woven themselves together to form a 10 dimensional space and time (11 total dimensions). Within this 10 dimensional physical space, the strings have also formed structures, called p-branes that have many different spacial dimensions, but no more than 10. One of the structures the strings have formed is a three-brane, an infinitely large structure with three dimensions; one end of the strings are attached to this sticky structure, the other end wiggling in seven different dimensions. [This is the reason that we do not see all 10 spatial dimensions; we are trapped in/on the three-brane, and have no way to apprehend the remaining seven spatial dimensions.] The total entropy in the early universe is about 1088.28 Vibrating strings of the Plank length (M-String Theory) or the particular geometry of spacetime form the basic forces of nature, depending on the frequency at which they vibrate:

Force Strong Nuclear Electromagnetic Weak Nuclear Gravity

Force Particle Gluon Photon W, Z Graviton

Mass (x mass of proton) 0 0 86, 97 0

The vibrating strings or geometry of spacetime also form the basic elementary particles that combine to make up the matter of the world we live in:

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THE WHOLE SHEBANG: THE BIG BANG THEORY OF OUR UNIVERSE

Family I

Family II

Family III

Particle Electron Electronneutrino Up-quark Down-quark

Mass .00054 <10-9 .0047 .0074

Particle Mass Muon .11 Muon-neutrino<10-4 Charm-quark 1.6 Strange-quark .16

Particle Mass Tau 1.9 Tau-neutrino <10-3 Top-quark 189 Bottom-quark 5.2

Mass is in multiples of the proton mass. The values of the neutrino masses are known to be nonzero but their exact values so far have eluded experimental determination. The wealth of particles merely represents the different vibrational patterns that a string can execute. T = +10-35: about twenty pounds of elementary particles on the order 10-26 centimeters across are compressed together sufficiently to cause a phase change to occur (e.g ice melting and turning into water) that dramatically inflates (expands) during a mere 10-35 or so seconds after it began, a specific region of space by a factor of 1030 (e.g. scaling up a molecule of DNA to roughly the size of the Milky Way galaxy; we are fairly certain that this inflation occurs through experimental evidence; also, this inflation can occur repeatedly, sprouting new universes from older ones). The result of either scenario is the rapid expansion of three-dimensional space through time (the volume of the universe would have increased by 1090 and the energy embodied in the inflation field increased by the same huge factor), during which quantum fluctuations cause slight irregularities or clumping together of the basic elementary particles.29 T = ~1 second: protons (2 up + 1 down quark) and neutrons (2 down + 1 up quark) bond together to form nuclei of hydrogen (1 proton) and helium (2 protons + 2 neutrons). T = + 1 minute to ~300,000 years: the first atoms of hydrogen (1 proton + 1 electron) and helium (2 neutrons + 2 protons + 2 electrons), primordial nucleosynthesis and recombination to form atoms.30 The universe is now transparent and light appears.31 T = + ~400 million to 1 billion years: gravity has caused clumps of matter composed of hydrogen and helium atoms to ignite through nuclear processes creating the stars. These nuclear processes generate carbon and all the other known elements, which are spewed out into space when stars explode.32 The original inflation of the universe is slowing down as matter clumps together under the force of gravity. The stars have clumped together to form galaxies, which have in turn clumped together to form sheets of galaxies. In the portion of the universe in which earth resides, we have detected ~100 billion galaxies and each galaxy has ~100 billion stars.
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T = + ~7 billion years: All the galaxies now begin to move away from one another at fasterthan-the-speed-of-light, from the perspective of someone on earth. T = + ~9.4 billion years: our sun emerged as one of a new generation of stars in the Milky Way galaxy (100,000 light years across and 1,000 light years through the middle). The sun is located about two-thirds of the way out on the radius of the disk and slowly orbits the galactic center (a large black hole). T = + ~10 billion years ago: The Earth formed, one of the nine planets circling one of the 100 billion stars (the Sun) in one of the 100 billion galaxies (the Milky Way) in the visible region of one of an infinite number of universes (the multiverse) in a region of existence where space and time have meaning. The Earth was formed from star dust held together by gravity, had formed a crust, seas had formed from comets crashing into the earth that carried large amounts of ice, and a first atmosphere had emerged of methane, hydrogen, ammonia, and carbon dioxide. T = + ~10.2 billion years: prokaryotic life (blue-green bacteria) has evolved on Earth. T = + ~11.3 billion years: Over a billion years, the blue-green bacteria transformed the original atmosphere of the Earth from into one that was oxygen-rich. Eukaryotic life appears on Earth possessing mitochondria and nucleated cells surrounded by a membrane and evolved into multicellular organisms. T = + 13.9920 billion years: bipedal apes first appeared (~8 million years ago). T = + 13.9998 billion years: Homo sapiens first evolved (~150,000 years ago). T = + 14.0000 billion years: today a technologically oriented Homo sapiens organism has come up with this timeline. Our observable universe stretches out in all directions for 14 billion light years, the distance it takes light to travel in 14 billion years at 300,000 kilometers/second. [Light from our closest neighbor galaxy, Andromeda, has been traveling two million years to reach us.] T = + ~28 billion: our sun will have burned all its nuclear fuel, stopped its nuclear fusion (which produces heat and light) and exploded, destroying the Earth. T = + ~100 billion years: all but the closest of galaxies will be dragged away by the swelling of space at faster-than-light speed and will be impossible for us (on Earth, if the Earth still existed) to see, regardless of the power of telescopes used.

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T = + ~1,000 billion years: de Sitter space, empty space with a positive vacuum energy evolves according to the cosmic no-hair theorem - a universe with nothing but vacuum energy to take over will eventually evolve into empty universe with nothing but vacuum energy.33

ENDNOTES Letter to his mother in October 1961, quoted in John D. Barrow, The Book of Universes: Exploring the Limits of the Cosmos (New York & London, W.W. Norton & Company, 2011), 115.
1

Attributed to Einstein by Frau Born, paraphrased in Ronald William Clark, Einstein (1984), 243 quoted in Barrow, footnote #17, 316.
2 3 4

Barrow, 71.

Nietzsche in his book The Will to Strength (1886) quoted in Barrow, 245. This reasoning leads to all sorts of paradoxes: e.g. since life in a universe has a non-zero probability, there must be an infinite number of life forms in the multiverse (245). Also, there is a higher probability for a virtual universe (a universe created by an advanced civilization) than real universe in the multiverse which in turn requires the existence of a master programmer (a god?) to manage the various programming tasks for maintaining a virtual universe 242-44). It may be that god is a required, non-optional feature of the multiverse. See Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam Books, 2010), 5. Hawking claims that fundamental questions such as “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Why do we exist?” Why this particular set of laws and not some other? are all answerable within the real of physics without recourse to any other understanding (171-2).
5

See Sean Carroll, From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time (New York: Dutton, 2010). The claim is that the problem of the arrow of time requiring a low entropy beginning to the universe can be solved by imagining our universe as a ‘pocket universe’ in a bubbling sea of quantum fluctuations in the multiverse. The universe is not only eternal, the Big Bang is not the beginning of anything other than “regions of true vacuum, expanding and cooling after a dramatic [quantum fluctuation] and the background inflating spacetime in which [these pocket universes] are embedded” (331).
6 7 8 9

Barrow, 187. Barrow, 193.

Hawking, 42. “Observers are as important for theories of the universe as they are for the universe” (Barrow, 252).
10Hawking, 11

43.

Hawking, 46. “The fact that the past takes no definite form means that observations you make on a system in the present affect its past” (Hawking, 82). “WE create history by our observation, rather than history creating us” (Hawking, 140).

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THE WHOLE SHEBANG: THE BIG BANG THEORY OF OUR UNIVERSE Hawking, 50. “A model is a good model if it: (1) is elegant; (2) contains few arbitrary or adjustable elements; (3) agrees with and explains all existing observations; and (4) makes detailed predictions about future observations that can disprove or falsify the model if they are not borne out” (Hawking, 51).
12

“Bishop Ussher, primate of all Ireland from 1625-1656, placed the origin of the world... at nine in the morning on October 27, 4004 BC. We take a different view,” a model-dependent view that is overwhelmingly supported by hard evidence (Hawking 124).
13

“Remarkably, in order to explain observations we require about 72 per cent of the energy in reside in [] dark energy and the other 28 per cent to be in the form of other matter. Of that 28 per cent, just 5 per cent is in the form of ordianry matter,; the rest, 23 per cent is in the form of some type of non-atomic cold dark matter whose precise identity is not yet established” (barrow, 284-5).
14 15 16 17 18

Hawking, 131. The Plank length is 10-33 centimeters. Hawking, 134. Hawking, 129.

Presently, the “big bang” theory for how our universe formed assumes that our universe is only one universe in a multiverse. Today there are at least nine variations for what the concept of multiverse means (Quilted, Inflationary, Brane, Cyclic, Landscape, Quantum, Holographic, Simulated, Ultimate). “No familiar example of anything - not the number of cells in your body (1013); not the number of seconds since the big bang (1018); not the number of photons in the observable part of the universe (1088) comes even remotely close to the number of universes we’re contemplating” as making up the multiverse. Only with a multiverse that contains approximately (10124) distinct values “is there a high likelihood that there’s [a universe] with a cosmological constant that matches ours” (1.38 x 10-123 expressed in Planck units). See Brian Greene, The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos (New York: Alfred A. Knoff, 2011), 5, 149, 153, 309. Hawking, 144. “The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned, and very little in physical law can be altered without destroying the possibility of the development of life as we know it” (Hawking, 161). For example, all carbon molecules that exist in the universe originated from the collisions of helium nuclei in the furnace of stars. “A change of as little as 0.5 percent in the strength of the strong nuclear force, or 4 percent in the electric force, would destroy either nearly all carbon or all oxygen in every star...; Change those rules of our universe just a bit, and the conditions for our existence disappear!” (Hawking, 158-160).
19

“Because of this unavoidable [non-privileged] position, we must take account of what statisticians call selection bias” (Greene 2011, 146-7).
20

Barrow, 214. In this landscape, essentially “after inflation, the state that was chosen by a haphazard sequence of events will determine the character of the large inflated region that results....The entire universe is an ever-growing, expanding fractal branching process, budding an amazing number of new regions all the time.... Different regions will expand in different ways, with different densities, temperatures and shapes.... There are an infinite number of possible universes [in the multiverse]” (215, 217, 218, 219).
21

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THE WHOLE SHEBANG: THE BIG BANG THEORY OF OUR UNIVERSE “A system’s entropy is the number of yes-no questions that its microscopic details have the capacity to answer, and so the entropy is a measure of the system’s hidden information content” (Greene 2011, 253).
22

“Inflationary regions can give birth to other inflationary regions through quantum fluctuations, like branches growing off a tree. Each branch grows up to be as big as the trunk and sprouts branches of its own. The process, once started, continues forever, producing an infinite fractal tree with an infinite number of branches. Our universe is just one of many on one of these branches.” Essentially, our universe is a bubble, infinite in extent and “Beyond our universe, myriad other universes in the multiverse branch off in the distance, further than the eye can ever see.” See J. Richard Gott and Robert J. Vanderbei, Sizing Up the Universe: The Cosmos in Perspective (Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2011), 234. “In due course, the expanse of space will be riddled with bubbles inside of bubbles-each undergoing inflationary expansion, each with a different form for the extra dimensions and each with a smaller cosmological constant than the larger bubble universe within which it formed” (Greene 2011, 159).
23

One might claim that “there is no beginning to the universe in time because time disappears.... The story of this universe is that once upon a time there was no time” Even more astounding, the “threedimensional space around us that we call ‘the universe’ [may be] just a shadow of a truer higherdimensional reality.... and the choices that fix the number of times and spaces... might be determined completely at random or dictated by some as yet unknown principle” (Barrow, 265, 276).
24

Hawking, 137. But where did the original spacetime come from to form the universe we presently inhabit? “Alex Vilenkin, Stephen Hawking, and James Hartle suggest it simply pops into existence.” But Richard Gott and Li-Xin Li have proposed that a universe could be its own “mother” by giving birth to a branch that circles back in time. Whatever the original causal agency, the assumption is that “our universe forms in a high density inflationary see of dark energy.... Inflation in our region ends when the dark energy converts into thermal radiation (the hot big bang) and the explosive expansion starts to slow down” (J. Richard Gott and Robert J. Vanderbei, 234-5). The idea that the universe we inhabit was just a “virtual fluctuation from the quantum vacuum. governed by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle” was first postulated by the American particle physicist Edward Tryon in 1973. He thought the universe might be “‘simply one of those things that happens from time to time’” (Barrow, 254).
25 26 27 28

Hawking, 154-5. Barrow, 185.

This compares with a total entropy today of about 10101 (a supermassive black hole has an entropy of about 1090, and there are approximately 1011 black holes in the observable universe today) and an upper limit of entropy of 10120 if all the matter in the universe collapsed into a single black hole (Carroll, 63). Actually, this inflation probably “creates the conditions needed for further inflation to occur in subregions of this first inflation region.” Thus, the inflation is self-reproducing and eternal. That is, “while our little inflating ‘bubble’ universe may have had a beginning when its expansion began, the whole ‘multiverse’ of bubble universes need have had no beginning and will have no end” (Barrow, 210-11).
29

“We can observe the abundance of such elements today and obtain spectacular agreement with the predictions of the Big Bang model” (Carroll, 51).
30 31

Carroll, 52.
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THE WHOLE SHEBANG: THE BIG BANG THEORY OF OUR UNIVERSE Trees, birds, humans and all of life on earth are made from molecules comprised of the elements forged in the stars. Every atom of these elements, apart from hydrogen and helium, has been made by nuclear fusion in stars. See Denis Edwards, Breath of Life: A Theology of the Creator Spirit (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004), 7-13.
32 33

Carroll, 309.

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