The Grand Design (Part III)

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

We know how to visualize a three dimensional world. With Einstein, we added time as a forth. Einstein argued that time does not exist on its own, and neither does space. They both exist together and relative to each other. As you reach the speed of light, time seems to go slower on your ship (time passes much faster with someone that is observing your ship). As time goes slower, distances shrink (you cover more ground per the same time period). This was stated in Einstein’s special relativity back in 1905. To simplify things, let’s assume you are on a plane. Let’s say you start walking one yard forward and that it took you one second to do that. For a person observing you from outside the plane, you actually traveled tens if not hundreds of yards over the same amount of time. Space and time are relative here to the observer and not absolute. So, Einstein came up with the space-time concept that shows that space and time co-exist and affect each other. That is our fourth dimension. As we reach the speed of light, time comes to a halt (the time dimension is “folded” away) and we only have the concept of space (no time), and this is exactly what happened during the big bang when particles were traveling at the speed of light. That is why it is laughable to start talking about what happened before or during or even shortly after the Big Bang because time is not absolute and it was totally irrelevant as all those events above happened “simultaneously” and not in a simple subsequent chain of events. As the universe expanded and started cooling off, things “slowed” down away from the speed of light, which initiated the time dimension as it became “relevant”. A few things I mentioned and I need to quickly address before you continue to scratch your head. First, you may ask, I thought we said that the universe was shown to be accelerating away rather than slowing down. Wouldn’t that mean if we start with a speed that is equal to the speed of light, wouldn’t that mean that now we should be way ahead of that? Actually, that is correct, but it is the space in the universe that is expanding and accelerating, not particles. Think of it this way, some very strong force may come to your neighborhood and start expanding the space between homes, which effectively expands the total area your neighborhood is occupying. This doesn’t imply that each home will be bigger. As a matter of fact, at the same time your neighborhood is expanding a home may actually become smaller if you were in the middle of downsizing your home (to save taxes on livable space maybe) by removing rooms.

Now, you may ask another question and say: what do you mean by time dimension being folded away? That is good that you asked this question, because it brings me back to my initial point about the multiple dimensions in the universe. I want to start by throwing a bomb first and say: M-theory states that there are a total of 11 dimensions (10 space and 1 time dimensions). after I leave you to scratch your head for a few moments, I come back and go on to describe how to even visualize what that means. Let’s say you have a box that exists in three dimensions (obviously). Let’s say you start pressing against the top of the box to reduce the depth of the box until it reaches very close to 0. You will notice that your three dimensional box is starting to look like a two dimensional square. Just because the height or depth of the box is not entirely and visibly clear to you, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! Physicists call this “dimension folding”. We have folded the third dimension of the box until it appeared as if we only had two dimensions. The other thing to keep in mind is in a two dimensional world, we cannot even begin to comprehend what three dimensions mean (since we are not allowed to escape the xy coordinate system, there is nothing you can do to explain three dimensions to a two dimensional object. Keeping those two things in mind, now the idea that we may have 11 dimensions but all are folded except four (three space and one time dimension) does not sound “as” crazy as it did a few sentences above. Now, according to Einstein (through general relativity), gravity doesn’t exist! It is space curvature or dents that make an object exhibit what we know as gravity. The earth doesn’t rotate around the sun because the sun is “attracting” it. The earth rotates around the sun because the sun makes a dent or warp in the space-time “fabric” causing earth to fall right into an orbit around the sun. That is how Einstein explained why light seems to curve (or bend) around the sun to reveal stars that are located directly behind the sun. The light doesn’t bend, but its space-time path is bent. Think of an airplane traveling around earth in a straight line. From an observer’s perspective who is located on the moon, the airplane is going around in a circle and not in a straight line. To understand how an object can affect another object’s path by just curving the space around it, take an example of the game Curling. This is a game where a player slides a heavy stone down an icy path, and two other players skate on both sides of the stone and keep “sweeping” on both sides to induce curvature in the path to force the stone to slide left or right as it is moving down the path. They are not allowed to touch the stone, but they can affect its path by just sweeping around it causing a smoother incline in one direction or another to change the linear path of the stone to one that obeys changes in curvature.

Now, why did I start talking about space-time curvature? The Grand Design states that the curvature and the number of dimensions that are unfolded, together make up the laws of physics “for that universe”! There are a few assumptions here. First, that all natural laws observed by us come from very few (or just one) physics equation. Everything else was derived as an approximation to understand the behavior of the complex object (human beings, planets, etc.) The real law(s) that started the universe do(es) apply at the quantum level only since the universe started with quanta particles. The simple law(s) of physics that started everything else is (are) a direct consequence of the space-time curvature and number of dimensions. With higher number of dimensions, curvature is changed such that gravitational forces appear to be weaker. While with smaller dimensions they appear to be much stronger. With four dimensions that we have, forces are what we came to know and observe today. According to M-theory, there are 10^500 possible universes based on number of dimensions and their space-time curvature. The book states that ours is the most stable because with higher dimensions, gravitational forces would have been weaker and thus planets would have escaped their orbits (and earth would no longer have rotated around and enjoyed the heat of the sun). If they were stronger (less than four dimensions) planets would have collapsed onto themselves due to the stronger gravitational forces pulling objects together. That is why our universe lives longer and its “bubble” does not burst soon enough for us to not be able to exist. And that also explains “why” the physics laws are what they are.

So, does that mean we have found The answer to our existence? Not yet. There are so many assumptions that were used to come to the conclusion that the universe creates itself over and over again out of nothingness. Which means God is not “necessary” to allow this to happen. First, we are assuming the general relativity of Einstein is correct. It hasn’t been proven to be correct but it has correctly predicted many phenomenon in nature that nothing else was able to explain such as the bending of light with accurate equations, the unification of gravitational forces between big objects and small (quanta) particles, etc. It is also assumed that string theory is correct where matter and force is the same thing (this is necessary to explain how we can cancel the energy that exists in matter by assuming an equal energy exists in force fields that exist around the matter itself). That particles are not particles or waves but small strings that exhibit particle AND wave behavior based on how they vibrate. Strings were never seen in a lab simply because they are way too small to be observed using today’s technologies. It is also assumed that M-theory which encompasses versions of string theory is the correct set of equations that unifies all of string theories (there are many versions and explanations of string theory although they all arrive at same results). What stops us from “confirming” the statements made by the book (and those statements in no shape or form were initiated by the authors, but have been around for a long time), is the fact that we cannot use M-theory to explain how the infinite energy stored in matter is canceled out so we can reach at the fundamental 0-energy balance we were talking about. We assume it is all canceled out, but the only way to confirm this through the math is by proving that M-theory is finite ad solvable. By doing so, M-theory would not only have a mathematical proof, but it would have answered all questions about how the laws of physics came into existence. And if those theories labeled collectively as M-theory, can be reduced to a single equation, then that would be the one equation for everything that Newton, Einstein and physicists were chasing for centuries.

— To be continued here


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