The Grand Design (Part II)

This is a continuation of my last post (The Grand Design (Part I)).

Those virtual particle pairs are existent in theory only where it makes other physics equations balanced. No one has seen them, and if our physics laws are correct, no one will ever see one! The reason is because of Heisenberg uncertainty principle which states that you cannot pinpoint the existence of matter in space with high confidence since mass is energy and energy is mass, and they continuously move into and out of existence simultaneously. This is of course the simplified explanation. The more detailed explanation is out of scope and relevance at this point.

Advanced: Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that you cannot know both the position of a particle as well as it is momentum / velocity at the same time. The higher the certainty of knowing one of those two quantities, the higher is the uncertainty of knowing the other one.

Now, if we are past all the controversy of total energy being 0 in the universe, then it is easy to explain (at least mathematically) that you can have no universe at all one second, and all of a sudden you have one with -X and +X energy coming into existence which is OK because they add up to 0 anyways so we haven’t introduced anything new into or took anything out of the system. Now, we solved the existence from nothing, and collapsing into nothing, in an endless cycle. How does this apply to the big picture (universe) as opposed to just referring to the individual elements of it (particles)? The Grand Design states that the universe did not know anything about big and complex objects when it came into existence. It was all about particles (quantum physics as opposed to classical physics). So, the only laws that applied were quantum physics laws (laws that apply to small matter rather than big matter). It just so happened that our universe “lasted” beyond a critical point where complex life developed as we know it today (as opposed to immediately going back into nothingness). I am going to summarize billions of years worth of events into the next paragraph.

So, the universe was condensed in a very small particle about 13 billion years ago (we know of that value from various observations including microwaves that we receive today from the big bang, and from other observations such as the speed at which galaxies are moving away from each other today and when they might have all been close to each other before they started moving away, etc.) Energy expanded away from the position of the particle in all directions. “space” between those “newly” generated particles expanded faster than the speed of light (only space can travel faster than the speed of light). Stars formed from those highly charged particles (hydrogen -simplest form of atom). As hydrogen existed, so did helium (an isotope of hydrogen). Two helium atoms came together to form beryllium. This atom can only exist for a very short period of time and only under extreme temperatures, and that is why it can only exist temporarily in a star. Another helium comes with a beryllium to form a carbon atom (the only element that we know that is capable of making up a live cell). This process of three helium atoms coming together is called Triple Alpha process. Carbon atoms were and continue to be shot into space after the star explodes in a process known as Supernova. Those atoms then cooled off (slowed down) to become planets. Higher entropy and suitable surroundings (temperature, water and right amount of gases) allowed certain combination of atoms to form single live cells, which evolved over millions of years to what we know today as human beings. All of those are just theories that were postulated using observations of microwave rays that “told us” how the universe expanded and became what it is today, and how long it was evolving for before it reached its state today.

Advanced: By measuring the distances between us and the nearest galaxies and stars, and how fast they are accelerating away from us, we can back track to see how “close” all those objects were going back in time to 13 billion years ago (a number we estimated from observing microwaves that traveled to us from the big bang moment). That is how we came to believe that all those cosmic objects were so close to each other that they were all condensed into a small particle.

Now that we are experts of how the universe came into existence, this only naturally leads us to another logical question (actually, of many logical questions): how is it going to end? When is it going to move out of existence into nothingness again? Physics has no answers for those forms of the same question but there are a few theories. One of which says that as the universe expands, its attraction to the center (where the big bang started) is only getting stronger (like a rubber band, the more you stretch it, the more it wants to go back to its “stable” position). Some believe that the expansion is slowing down until it reaches a point where it comes to a stand-still, then it will all collapse back to its very small and dense particle to non-existence then back. More modern theories claim this is not possible because our observations show that the universe is accelerating in its expansion, rather than slowing down. So, how can the universe just disappear when it is ever expanding and becoming more “complex”? The Grand Design addresses where the universe is going (into non-existence), but it doesn’t address how it will get there. It gets away with saying that we should think of our universe as a bubble forming on the surface of boiling water, expanding then bursting then another one forms, etc. Actually, the book says many universes are born like those bubbles “simultaneously” and some burst sooner than others (thus not last long enough for life to develop) while others last longer (like our universe). This brings up an interesting point. Does that mean there are other universes that co-exist with ours? The answer is yes! Confused yet? Let me try harder to confuse you. Those universes do not “really” exist simultaneously. They are all possible paths our own universe could and has already taken. Let’s first address the “could have taken”, then we can address the “has already taken part”. Think of it this way. If you were on top of a mountain, and decided to throw a rock in one direction with certain force. That rock will end up somewhere in the valley. Now, think of how many possible combination of directions AND forces this rock could have been thrown with. All those are called possible paths that depend on initial state and certain conditions (force and its direction). The same with our universe. It could have taken any of many paths (we will save the other part of the universe having had taken all possible paths to when we mention the Feynman sum over histories later). Precisely, it could have taken any of 10 ^ 500 possible paths! That is 1 with 500 zeros to the right! Now, The Grand Design uses Feynman’s sum over histories principle to state that our universe has taken the “most natural path” which has the highest probability. This is nothing but the average of all possible paths it could have taken. The Grand Design goes on to state that our universe is actually the most stable of all, that is why it has the highest probability (a stable state). Now, what is the difference between our universe ad other universes in a multiverse system? Nothing but the number of dimensions and curvature of space-time. Tighten your seat belts even more.

— To be continued here


2 Responses to “The Grand Design (Part II)”

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