The Grand Design (Part IV)

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

There are many other aspects covered in the book but I don’t see as necessary to state here to make the summary comprehensible. For example, the concept that if you have two theories arriving at the same conclusion, then neither one is more correct than the other. You could actually have multiple forms of the same real law and all forms are correct. This approach is called Effective approach, and is necessary to justify the variations in string theories do not necessarily invalidate them. Additionally, the book argues a model-dependent approach to understanding the universe where you cannot separate the observer from the observed (that nothing exists out of our observation capabilities). That the universe is behaving the way it is because we are observing it to be behaving that way (either through direct observations or indirect ones that come from convenience of such assumptions/observations to make the physics work). This seems to be a strange concept but take a simple example that was in the book. If you observe a sofa in the living room then you know it exists. If you then walk out of the room, does the sofa still exist? If you say yes because you just saw it one minute ago, would you bet your life that it wasn’t removed the moment you left the room (thus it doesn’t exist in the living room anymore)? However, while you are observing the room from the outside and notice that no sofa was taken out, you can “conveniently” assume it still exists because it makes your math correct and the other possibilities are not very significant. This is necessary to justify using M-theory (highly conceptual and unproved theory) as the basis for the conclusion of the book. Although it is unproved yet, it does make sense, and it has predicted accurately many other phenomenon.

Another less obvious but very interesting example is the two-slit with delayed-choice experiment. If you shoot a single particle beam of light through a board that has two slits in it, with another board behind it (where the light lands) you will see that the light exhibits a wave-like behavior because it doesn’t travel in straight line (each of the two slits act as a new source of light shooting light beams in various directions – this is called interference). Feynman explained this by saying that the single particle line did not just travel from the source to the final board, but it traveled to the board then back to the beam source through the other slit, then back again and back again to the beam source, etc. He explained that the beam had traveled every single possible path simultaneously as it reached the final board. Not only that, but the single particle actually interfered with itself as it traveled back through the other slit!! This caused interference! He then took the experiment further and added an observation point to see the particle the moment it passed through the middle board (with the slits). He observed that the light was not a wave, but a particle (he noticed a single particle traveling through the slit). But observing the whole system altogether (without the observation point on the middle board) showed the light to act as a wave and thus exhibited the interference behavior. Wheeler took this experiment even further and moved the observation point to right before the light hit the destination board (instead of observing the middle board). He noticed that when he started observing one slit from the destination board perspective, he saw the light going through that slit. When he changed the observation to look at the second slit he saw the light traveling through the second slit! When he stopped observing he noticed the light had traveled through both slits causing interference on the destination board! This has major consequences because remember we only have a single particle beam that was shot against the middle board. This means that this single light particle (photon) had the choice to travel through either slit one or two. When we did not observe the slits, the photon traveled through both simultaneously causing the interference effect! When we chose to observe slit one, we seem to have changed the photon choice of which slit to take AFTER it had already made the choice to travel through the slit we later decided to observe! When we started observing through slit two, we seem to have told the light to choose slit two to go through AFTER it had already traveled through slit two! Thus, our delayed choice affected the decision made by the photon in the past!

Those concepts of simultaneous existence and simultaneous position at every possible point in the universe (although only one path wins at the end with the highest probability, and this path is referred to as the Feynman sum over histories with every possible path being a history since it has already been traveled!) are very hard to imagine or to comprehend. However, those phenomenon have already been observed in experiments. Their explanations are theories, but they are the most probable theories because they are consistent in explaining the behavior and “weird” outcomes.

When I dove into those concepts mentioned above individually to understand them in more depth, I came to the realization that I had to accept them not because they make sense but because they provide reasonable answers to those weird observations. However, I couldn’t escape adding my own questions to how some of those things are stated or formulated. Since there are a total of 11 dimensions, before any universe is allowed to come from nothing into existence, this means that all possible physics laws (each of which is only unique per universe, but is contradicted across all others) existed in the same 11 dimension fabric. One of which is squeezed out into each universe as it comes out into existence. Does this mean that there was some sort of a “space” that has dimensionality, that already existed prior to any cycle of creating any universe? What is this space made up of? Did it have energy?

Another thing that bothers me is why do care so much about conservation of energy principles when the universe did not exist yet (for this coming cycle)? Why couldn’t the universe start from a plus or minus initial amount of energy? I know that religious people would love my argument because they would then conclude that for such “extra” energy to exist there must have been a super power to “add” it to the system as an initial state. While this maybe true, but then we are AGAIN using the principles of physics to say that this extra energy couldn’t have come without God’s intervention. But if physics did not apply then, then this makes God’s intervention, again, unnecessary to justify the extra added energy. Again, this is not to say that God did or did not exist. This is just saying that the universe explains itself. But like newton believed, maybe God creates the equation and lets the universe work using it without ever interfering with it (i.e. miracles). But that is outside the scope. The reason why I think my question is “extremely” valid is because that would explain all the extra energy that we have in the universe today that doesn’t have a matching canceling energy (to bring the total to 0). If the initial state if the universe was an initial +X or -X, then no matter how many virtual antiparticles you create that are equal in charge to existing matter, you will still end up with excess energy and that may be OK! Of course if this turns out to be true then those antiparticles may not even be necessary!!! Now, if what I am saying is true, that still doesn’t necessarily mean that all energies we came to know don’t need to cancel each other out or the observable balance of energy (a.k.a. First law of thermodynamics) is not true. This is after all artificial energy that was just transformed from existing energy and better be equal to what the object has lost. But that doesn’t mean the entire universe initial energy state couldn’t have started with an initial amount. I don’t understand why that is not possible or entertained.

Another thing that I don’t understand and would love to learn more about is, if objects cause dents or warps in the space-time fabric to cause gravitational effect on surrounding much smaller objects, are only certain objects allowed to make such warps? What is the minimum size or mass that is needed to cause such dent? If curvature is only relative, meaning that every object in existence will curve space around it but that depends on the mass of the object then does that mean that we, humans, can also cause curvature and instantly force smaller molecules to orbit around us? If no, why not if the ratio of mass between us and molecules is comparable to the difference between the sun and earth? If only “large” objects are allowed to dent space-time, doesn’t that imply that it is the mass of the object that transforms the dimensions of its environment and not vice versa? Think about it. Dents mean that you are creating a third dimension on a two dimensional space (think pulling a nicely folded tshirt upward to form a pyramid like shape, and you would notice that you just changed a two dimensional object (folded tshirt) into a three dimensional system). That means that the initial mass of the big bang particle (infinitely massive) is what forced the number of dimensions into existence (from a pool of 11 total dimensions). This has many implications. One of them means that as you travel close to the speed of light (and your mass approaches infinity), you will create your own dimensions similar to what the big bang particle did, and thus YOU will explode much like the big bang particle to form your very own universe!!

This is a very fascinating field. I hope to continue reading (and hopefully writing) about it 🙂


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