No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning

Photo credit: NASA

By Lisa Zyga

The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.

The widely accepted age of the universe, as estimated by general relativity, is 13.8 billion years. In the beginning, everything in existence is thought to have occupied a single infinitely dense point, or singularity. Only after this point began to expand in a “Big Bang” did the universe officially begin.

Although the Big Bang singularity arises directly and unavoidably from the mathematics of general relativity, some scientists see it as problematic because the math can explain only what happened immediately after—not at or before—the singularity.

“The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there,” Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and the Zewail City of Science and Technology, both in Egypt, told Phys.org.

Ali and coauthor Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, have shown in a paper published in Physics Letters B that the Big Bang singularity can be resolved by their new model in which the universe has no beginning and no end.


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46 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – Although the Big Bang singularity arises directly and unavoidably from the mathematics of general relativity, some scientists see it as problematic because the math can explain only what happened immediately after—not at or before—the singularity.

    I thought “the singularity” was speculation about the unknown, and that the Big-Bang Theory was from the period of inflation to the present.

    @OP link – Motivated by the model’s potential to resolve the Big Bang singularity and account for dark matter and dark energy, the physicists plan to analyze their model more rigorously in the future.

    It all sounds very speculative to me!

  2. I only asked the same questions yesterday whether the universe evolved and whether there was a beginning or end. Quickly, a possible answer.

  3. @olli

    It’s a sign that god favours you and supplies quick answers to the questions you ask…. All praise to Olgun, the chosen one.

    Lovely bit of physics. I hope I live long enough for some definitive answers on this one. I also note that the symbol G is not present in the equations.

  4. @ David

    🙂

    There are so many of them, one of them must like me at least. The job is to find out which one and put them on my Christmas list.

  5. At last, a suggestion from theoretical physicists that makes some sense! I have long thought that the whole creation at the time of the Big Bang was highly dubious, and wrote it out years ago as follows:

    “1. In Universal terms, time is abstract and meaningless – there was no beginning, there will be no end. Time is an abstract and convenient social construct derived from the frequency with which our planet orbits the sun and rotates on its axis and used to regulate our activities;

    There was no “beginning of time” at The Big Bang, and there will be no “end of time” when the Sun swallows the Earth in 5 billion years or so, which in itself, strongly implies that there was no “design” involved in its creation;
    All of the matter in “our” universe (i.e. the bit we can see) exploded in a Big Bang, for unknown reasons;
    All of the matter in “our” universe was not “created” in the Big Bang: the First Law of Thermo-Dynamics (the Conservation Law) says matter is neither created nor destroyed, so it all existed in some form or another before the Big Bang;
    As Fred Hoyle once said when told of the theory of the creation of all matter during the Big Bang: “Show me the maths;”
    Whatever form it previously existed in, either

    (a) it collided with another “universe,” which caused its overall chemical and physical composition to change as new material was added, or

    (b), if there was a Big Crunch, then only its overall distribution of matter was altered;

    The Universe is unbounded and doesn’t just consist of what we can see. To believe otherwise is analogous to believing that the Earth is flat or that the Universe orbits the Earth;
    There are undoubtedly many other “universes” (probably an infinite number), which have either had Big Bangs, are having Big Crunches or are becoming cold and dark regions in space, in which condition their matter will remain for all eternity, unless the passing matter from a nearby “Big Bang” picks it up;
    It is also quite possible that the matter from another Big Bang is already heading in our direction, and that in the future, some astrophysicist may observe blue shift in an observed area of space, which will be the biggest “Oh sh*t” moment in scientific history;
    In the “whole” Universe (i.e. encompassing everything in existence), there have probably been many previous civilisations and there and will be many new civilisations in the future;
    In nearly every meaningful way, we can explain almost everything around us using the known and immutable laws of physics, chemistry and biology that are currently peculiar to “our” universe, which may only be altered by the addition of different material from another Big Bang;
    Since we will never invent warp drive and colonise other planets, what we currently have is all there is so it is therefore imperative that we make the most of it and determine our own future, rather than let events dictate to us;
    Many people compensate (consciously or unconsciously) for this stark reality by presuming that there is a god, a heaven and an afterlife, but as I will assert below (i.e. in the rest of a book I am writing), there is no god, and indeed all of the evidence we have collected about the nature of our existence negates the need for a divine, omnipotent creator;
    Despite this, some 88% of the planet’s population still subscribe to a religion and much of their behaviour is predicated on the existence of a god and their god’s judgement of whether they should “live on” in some form of heaven or other after their death;
    This is, sadly for them, a delusion, and no matter how complex the dogma or creed they have all created, there is no escaping this stark reality: as a species, mankind is merely a highly-evolved animal, marooned on Planet Earth and, for the foreseeable future, alone in the Universe. Our Planet is our home, it’s all we’ve got, there is no possible way of moving anywhere else and it is accordingly idiotic to despoil it as we are now doing.”

  6. Eddie #5
    Mar 2, 2016 at 4:45 am

    Hi Eddie,

    If you are writing a book, there are a few points you need to clear up.

    At last, a suggestion from theoretical physicists that makes some sense! I have long thought that the whole creation at the time of the Big Bang was highly dubious, and wrote it out years ago as follows:

    “1. In Universal terms, time is abstract and meaningless – there was no beginning, there will be no end.

    Regardless of if there was a beginning to the energy of big-bang or not, the concept of time in the space-time continuum as explained by Einstein, is very real, and used in engineering calculations for high velocity items such a SAT-NAV satellites.

    Time is an abstract and convenient social construct derived from the frequency with which our planet orbits the sun and rotates on its axis and used to regulate our activities;

    That concept was so, in the minds of humans pre-Einstein. Cosmology has moved on a long way from Earth-centred thinking.

    There was no “beginning of time” at The Big Bang, and there will be no “end of time” when the Sun swallows the Earth in 5 billion years or so,

    The Earth is quite irrelevant to the issue of the age of the Universe. Many generations of stars had come and gone, in the billions of years prior to the formation of our Sun and the Earth from their accretion disk.

    The Universe will also go on as our galaxy collides with the Andromeda galaxy long after our Sun becomes a red giant and fries the Earth.

    Since we will never invent warp drive and colonise other planets, what we currently have is all there is so it is therefore imperative that we make the most of it and determine our own future, rather than let events dictate to us;

    While the invention of a “warp-drive” is dubious, it may not be totally impossible.
    However, even without a warp-drive we may well be able to colonise planets in nearby star systems, or even future nearby star-systems when the galaxies collide bringing new star systems together.
    Indeed, if humans don’t make ourselves extinct before then, we must develop space transport to move away from Earth, before Our Sun expands to cook and vaporise the planet!

    We may well be able to establish bases on other planets as I commented on this earlier discussion.

    https://richarddawkins.net/2016/02/our-solar-system-scale-model-in-a-city-brain-candy-tv/#li-comment-199044
    The propulsion system must be mainly fusion-based. Assuming realistic maximum cruise speeds of 0.3 c and a sixty year flight duration, this places approximately forty-eight stars within an 18 light year distance within range of Icarus.

    Fusion drives would appear to feasible, as fusion power experiments are progressing, and ion-drive electric rocket engines using magnetic containment fields, are already operational on space probes.

  7. The Big Bang was simply a reference point used to calculate variables. (also a begining is the dogma/belief strongly introduced into our thinking via Sunday-School)

  8. Thanks Eddie ( #5) your thoughts are great and wonderful.
    Every scientist wants to believe he has scored a point by making a discovery. The theories we believe in today may not be relevant after a thousand years; and if there is another “intelligent” species out there, they can as well rightfully stake a claim to some theory. And there might have been countless big bangs and that have passed by, and countless yet to come, with civilizations in them. The truth will never be known, because what we think as “real” may not be so after all. No doubt, life on earth as we feel and experience, is a great gift from the Universe, but let’s understand it’s just a passing phase and we will soon become extinct. Let’s be content with what Albert Einstein said: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”. Nothing can be further from the truth that this statement.

  9. Once upon a time, everybody thought that the universe was eternal and static. Muslims looked up in the qur’an the parts where it seems to support that. And they said “Look, see, the qur’an is a scientific miracle!”

    Then later the big bang came along. Muslims looked up in the qur’an the parts where it seems to support that. And they said “Look, see, the qur’an is a scientific miracle!” Completely forgetting what was said before.

    Now if this new model turns out to be correct, and the universe is eternal, I make the prediction that muslims will look up in the qur’an the parts where it seems to support that. And they said “Look, see, the qur’an is a scientific miracle!” Completely forgetting what was said before.

  10. Subhash #9
    Mar 3, 2016 at 10:40 am

    Every scientist wants to believe he has scored a point by making a discovery. The theories we believe in today may not be relevant after a thousand years;

    It is important to remember that scientific theories are based on objective observations and repeat testing for confirmation or refutation.

    http://oregonstate.edu/instruction/bb317/scientifictheories.html

    What “theory” means in ordinary speech:
    The term “theory” means a very different thing when used in everyday conversation and in science. In our day to day speech, we often use “theory” to mean a guess or unsubstantiated idea about how something works (as in “I have a theory that gremlins are hiding my car keys”).

    So, what does the word “theory” mean in science?
    According to the National Academies of Sciences, “some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena”.

    People who don’t understand this distinction sometimes dismiss ideas saying “it’s just a theory” (this is very commonly used to suggest that evolution is just speculation, for example). But, when scientists speak of the theory of gravity or the theory of evolution, they don’t mean that these are random untested ideas that someone came up with after too many beers.

    The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), the world’s largest scientific society, has this explanation of what scientists mean when they use the word “theory”:
    “A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not “guesses” but reliable accounts of the real world.”

    The theories we believe in today may not be relevant after a thousand years;

    Scientific theories area not based on “belief”. They are based on repeatable observation and consistent results when tested by competent scientists.
    While all science is subject to up-dating in the light of new evidence, heavily evidenced and tested theories are unlikely to be refuted, while the observations on which they are based, are likely to remain repeatable.

  11. @ Subhash
    “…there might have been countless big bangs and that have passed by, and countless yet to come…” Are these “countless” big bangs… an infinite number of big bangs? Wouldn’t this very universe with you and me come up an infinite number of times then?

  12. I have for a long time wondered if the universe does indeed not have a beginning or end. A wheel does not. Maybe the universe is like a big wheel. If there is ‘big bang’ event, then it not only happened a long time ago, but it also is way off in the future as well. The wheel has a cycle to go, but always repeats. That’s how I see it.

  13. “laws of physics appear to break down there,”

    Oxymoron. If what we now have, the present state of our theories, were in fact “laws” they could not break down under any circumstances.

    Hence, we, humanity, are not in possession of any laws of physics whatsoever. Nobody knows them. All we have are approximations of parts of true reality whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before us.

  14. Stardusty Psyche #14
    Mar 4, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    @OP – “The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there,”

    This claim is essentially a strawman. As far as I am aware nobody claims the hypothetical mathematical singularity, actually exists!

    Oxymoron. If what we now have, the present state of our theories, were in fact “laws” they could not break down under any circumstances.

    Scientific theories and scientific laws are not the same.

    http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistry101/a/lawtheory.htm

    A scientific theory summarizes a hypothesis or group of hypotheses that have been supported with repeated testing. A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it. Therefore, theories can be disproven.

    Basically, if evidence accumulates to support a hypothesis, then the hypothesis can become accepted as a good explanation of a phenomenon. One definition of a theory is to say it’s an accepted hypothesis.

    A scientific law generalizes a body of observations. At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them. One way to tell a law and a theory apart is to ask if the description gives you a means to explain ‘why’. The word “law” is used less and less in science, as many laws are only true under limited circumstances.

    When scientists say that “a scientific law breaks down”, they are referring to it not applying to areas outside its limited circumstances. – Such as the laws of physics on the planets of the Solar System, do not necessarily apply in a neutron star or a black hole.

    We have limited examples of this where people assume chemical reactions are happening at the NORMAL TEMPERATURES AND PRESSURES of a laboratory bench at sea-level, and are surprised when they do not elsewhere.

    Hence, we, humanity, are not in possession of any laws of physics whatsoever. Nobody knows them.

    This is a flawed conclusion from a false premise.

    All we have are approximations of parts of true reality whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before us.

    This is a gross exaggeration!
    Many pieces of information are indeed approximate, but accuracies, error-bars, and probabilities, are usually stated in scientific documents, with substantial subject areas well evidenced and well known by specialists.

  15. Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them.

    Science is entirely descriptive. We have no explanations for why, ultimately, things are the way they are.

    The link you provide asks us to consider Newton’s “law” of gravity, which is in fact entirely descriptive and provides us no information as to “why”, and is furthermore incorrect and merely an approximation of relativistic effects when velocities are a small fraction of c.

    Theories explain things (“can become accepted as a good explanation”), “laws” explain things so the link contradicts itself. Explanations in science are only in terms of observations that ultimately lead to postulates, which lack explanation.

    The link you provided is a confused mass of jumbled words suffering from distinction without a difference, self contradictions, and confused notions about what we know and how we know it.

    “All we have are approximations of parts of true reality whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before us. ”

    This is a gross exaggeration!

    Sorry, I am sometimes guilty of using quotes assuming they will be recognized as such. My bad.

    The word “law”, however is symptomatic of your apparently exaggerated notion of the state of knowledge we possess. I suppose we all suffer from this from time to time, I am not immune.

    Newton was one of those geniuses who was recognized in his own day. He said:

    I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

    I really do wish all the wonderful scientists who go around making grand pronouncements about “laws” and what we supposedly know would keep that quote ever in mind.

    ” A theory is valid as long as there is no evidence to dispute it.”
    ” At the time it is made, no exceptions have been found to a law.”
    —Distinction without a difference

    “A scientific law generalizes a body of observations.”
    “Scientific laws explain things, but they do not describe them”
    —Self contradictory word salad. An observation is a description. When we observe we describe.

    “The word “law” is used less and less in science, as many laws are only true under limited circumstances.”
    —We have no universal “laws”. All scientific “laws” are only approximately true under limited circumstances.

    A quick search of the web for the supposed distinctions between “theory” and “law” yields much more such jumbled confusion, vague notions, distinctions without differences, and generally poor attempts to prop up what is a fundamentally flawed notion, that of a scientific “law”.

    Christian apologists are quick to use this ill conceived language, asserting that for there to be a law there must be a law giver, which is actually a reasonable argument. An answer is that humanity has no scientific laws, therefore we haven’t the need for a lawgiver to source them.

  16. Stardusty Psyche #16
    Mar 5, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    The link you provide asks us to consider Newton’s “law” of gravity, which is in fact entirely descriptive and provides us no information as to “why”, and is furthermore incorrect and merely an approximation of relativistic effects when velocities are a small fraction of c.

    as many laws are only true under limited circumstances.

    Newton’s Law is accurate to 6 decimal places of 1% at subsonic speeds on Earth! This is hardly”incorrect” or “merely an approximation”!

    A quick search of the web for the supposed distinctions between “theory” and “law” yields much more such jumbled confusion, vague notions, distinctions without differences, and generally poor attempts to prop up what is a fundamentally flawed notion, that of a scientific “law”.

    Perhaps you would like to test that flawed notion against these laws of science?

    https://www.grc.nasa.gov/www/k-12/airplane/thermo.html

    The zeroth law of thermodynamics involves some simple definitions of thermodynamic equilibrium. Thermodynamic equilibrium leads to the large scale definition of temperature, as opposed to the small scale definition related to the kinetic energy of the molecules. The first law of thermodynamics relates the various forms of kinetic and potential energy in a system to the work which a system can perform and to the transfer of heat. This law is sometimes taken as the definition of internal energy, and introduces an additional state variable, enthalpy. The first law of thermodynamics allows for many possible states of a system to exist. But experience indicates that only certain states occur. This leads to the second law of thermodynamics and the definition of another state variable called entropy. The second law stipulates that the total entropy of a system plus its environment can not decrease; it can remain constant for a reversible process but must always increase for an irreversible process.

  17. @alan4discussion
    Newton’s Law is accurate to 6 decimal places of 1% at subsonic speeds on Earth! This is hardly”incorrect” or “merely an approximation”!

    Ok, Alan, you just stated the approximate nature of, and how incorrect Newton’s “law” is. If the answer is not precisely correct it is wrong. Here our best present understanding of what really happens at any speed, subsonic, simply walking, or a snail crawling:
    dt’ = dt/sqrt(1-(v^2/c^2))
    In this formulation there is no lower bound on the velocity that produces a calculable effect.

    Kepler was motivated to derive his planetary motion “laws” largely because of tiny errors he found in measurements that showed the circular orbits proposed by Copernicus were wrong.

    Close approximations are what makes all our wonderful technology possible. Everything we own and use is built using approximations that are controlled to a sufficient accuracy as to allow the construction of practical working devices.

    When a calculated error falls well below our ability to measure or control for error in a physical system then that error loses it practical concern, but not its epistemological concern.

    However wonderfully practical these close approximations are, they are not the precise truth and are therefore incorrect representations of reality.

    Perhaps you would like to test that flawed notion against these laws of science?
    (link to the “laws” of thermodynamics)

    No problem. These much overworked “laws” were developed centuries ago to study heat. They are gross approximations of the underlying reality, an underlying reality that no human has yet discovered despite great efforts to do so and great progress made in modern physics.

    The truth underlying these heat transfer equations is a vastly complex world of subatomic interactions so far best described by the standard model, quantum mechanics, relativity, and the whole of modern physics. We have no means to solve practical problems at the medium scale we perceive ourselves to work at by using such detailed analysis. So, we have derived some practical approximations that treat this incredibly complex and ultimately mysterious system by its bulk average behavior.

    Perhaps the most overused “law” of thermodynamics is the 2nd. “Order”, in thermodynamics, is concentration of heat. But “order”, more generally, can be seen as arrangement of repetitive patterns, or an appearance of design.

    Every time a crystal grows order grows, in the sense of appearance of design by natural placement of repetitive symmetric patterns of construction.

  18. Stardusty Psyche #18
    Mar 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Ok, Alan, you just stated the approximate nature of how incorrect Newton’s “law” is. If the answer is not precisely correct it is wrong.

    I think if you or I, were to get an answer within 99.999999% correct, we would round it off and dispute the accuracy of someone who suggested it was simply wrong!

    Science does not do these sorts of contrary absolutism!

    Perhaps the most overused “law” of thermodynamics is the 2nd. “Order”, in thermodynamics, is concentration of heat. But “order”, more generally, can be seen as arrangement of repetitive patterns, or an appearance of design.

    Perhaps a quote would help clarify!

    If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations—then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation—well these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington
    http://todayinsci.com/QuotationsCategories/S_Cat/SecondLawOfThermodynamics-Quotations.htm

  19. @Riposte #12

    I always used to think not…

    If we assume an infinite sequence of big bang/big crunch universes, and if we assume that the starting conditions in each are effectively independent (which seems to be the premise of the question), then at first sight I’d say there is no way any two universes would ever by chance come out the same (right down to the extent of having Riposte and MadEnglishman discussing cosmology/philosophy on richarddawkins.net)..

    The number of universes in the infinite sequence discussed is an infinity, corresponding to the number of integers: you could label our universe 0, the previous one -1, the next one +1, and so on. It’s an infinite number, but like the integers, it’s “only” countably infinite.

    Intuitively, the number of possible different universes seems uncountably infinite (a larger infinity, as the number of real numbers is larger than the number of integers). I used to take this as a given.

    But… If time, space, energy are all quantised and if there’s a finite number of such components, then there’d be a finite number of configurations.

    So for the infinite sequence of bang/crunch universes to not repeat eventually, one of the following must hold:-

    the universe must not be quantised in all respects, some aspects (e.g. distance) must be continuous (i.e. maps to the real numbers rather than to the rationals/integers)
    quantised or not, the universe must be (uncountably) infinite in the number of (at least some of) its components

  20. I know it is old and worn out to complain about misleading science reporting. Unfortunately, misleading science reporting and science reporting are redundant. In this case it is the title (at least): No Big Bang?

    This is annoying. I’m sorry early cosmologists adopted the term Big Bang to describe our current theory of the evolution of the universe but they did. Now, saying silly things like the title imply there is something false about this theory. The fact is that we have enough precision now to quite clearly declare that if you have a theory which contradicts the basic precepts of the big bang theory then your theory is garbage.

    Now, I know what the article means to say. It means to say, “these scientists have managed to find a plausible way to avoid a cosmological singularity.” This has been a goal of cosmology ever since Penrose and Hawking developed their singularity theorems. Singular means the general theory of relativity breaks down and we know nothing of that region. A very attractive solution would be if spacetime was never really in that state.

    This is yet another in a long line of attempts to avoid a big bang singularity. To curtly paraphrase Lawrence Krauss, it is probably wrong. But it is an interesting attempt to take a possible interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to general relativity, perhaps incorrectly as we don’t know how to do this correctly, to come up with Bohmian quantum correction terms to the equations that approximately describe our universe. These corrections don’t allow for a big bang singularity among other consequences.

    So is there a big difference between, “No Big Bang” and “No Big Bang Singularity”? Unfortunately yes and science writers should know better.

  21. @alan4discussion
    I think if you or I, were to get an answer within 99.999999% correct, we would round it off and dispute the accuracy of someone who suggested it was simply wrong!

    If I were machining a part out of metal I would agree with you. In ordinary daily life you are correct. In mathematics, epistemology, theoretical physics, and the search for the truth of the underlying reality you are mistaken.

    Mathematicians and physicists alike love closed form solutions. Most mathematicians in particular typically detest numerical methods or approximations that merely get close to the correct answer, and use them only as a last resort when a precise answer cannot be arrived at.

    99.999999 != 100
    Those are 2 different numbers. They are not the same. If the correct answer is 100 then 99.999999 is the wrong answer.

    Science does not do these sorts of contrary absolutism!

    It is just those sorts of fine differences that lead to profound reformulations of our physics. Compare the equations of Newton to the Equations of Einstein to see what a difference 0.000001 can make. That size difference can be critically important in science.

    Perhaps a quote would help clarify!

    Quote mining is not a rational argument. There are no scientific authorities, never have been.

  22. The universe doesn’t care what you think. The universe doesn’t care what you call it. What is important is that people who value Reason and Science, the point of belonging to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, use the commonly accepted scientific terminology that describes the currently accepted science, in the currently accepted definition of the word used. That way, people who value Reason and Science know what the other person is talking about. As the evidence changes, the science changes, and a new definition for a word that describes that new state of affairs becomes the common usage and the people who value Reason and Science will use that word in that context.

    If you want to make up new definitions for existing standard scientific words with accepted meanings, go ahead, but it means that you ability to communicate with persons who value Reason and Science, is diminished, by your own hand.

    Most of what’s been written is intellectual “Chesting” with little value to anyone except to the ego of the Chester, with that actually being illusory. Those that observe from the outside just see silliness, not enhanced ego or standing.

    When Alan4D comments on this article, I know what he is talking about. When PecanP or O’Brien comment, I skim, and file it in the dustbin marked, Not Reason or Science.

  23. Stardusty Psyche #22
    Mar 5, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    It is just those sorts of fine differences that lead to profound reformulations of our physics. Compare the equations of Newton to the Equations of Einstein to see what a difference 0.000001 can make. That size difference can be critically important in science.

    Your problem seems to be a lack of understanding of the science AFTER the reformulations have taken place. Not only is Newton’s work extremely accurate at low speeds, but modern science in applying it on systems such as SAT-NAVS, has refined it by adding relativity and further refined it by calculating the effects of relativity not just on the satellites and signals, but also, along with the effects of gravity on the atomic clocks used to measure the time!
    They then coordinate a series and moving satellites and a moving rotating spheroid planet with uneven gravity and an irregular surface, to produce errors which are so small, that after the projected angles have been multiplied by tens of thousands of miles they are still usable!

    Perhaps a quote would help clarify!

    (But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation. – Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington)

    Quote mining is not a rational argument. There are no scientific authorities, never have been.

    I posted the reference to the second law of thermodynamics, and to this quote, as a test, to see if you knew what you were talking about or not. – You have confirmed “not”!

    BTW: You have also confirmed that you have no understanding of the term “quote mining”!

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Quote_mining

  24. @alan4discussion

    SP ” It is just those sorts of fine differences that lead to profound reformulations of our physics. Compare the equations of Newton to the Equations of Einstein to see what a difference 0.000001 can make. That size difference can be critically important in science. ”

    Your problem seems to be a lack of understanding of the science AFTER the reformulations have taken place. Not only is Newton’s work extremely accurate at low speeds, but modern science in applying it on systems such as SAT-NAVS, has refined it by adding relativity and further refined it by calculating the effects of relativity not just on the satellites and signals, but also, along with the effects of gravity on the atomic clocks used to measure the time!

    In other words, Newton’s “law” is incorrect and to be made useful for satellite based GPS relativistic effects must be accounted for.

    Again you argue against yourself with your own examples. My contention is that Newton’s “law” is incorrect. You provided an example showing that Newton’s “law” is incorrect.

    My contention is the Newton’s “law” is merely an approximation. You provided an example wherein that approximation is not good enough to allow for a working system.

  25. Stardusty Psyche #25
    Mar 6, 2016 at 9:09 am

    In other words, Newton’s “law” is incorrect and to be made useful for satellite based GPS relativistic effects must be accounted for.

    Newton’s law in not “incorrect”. They are correct within their defined parameters, with further adjustments being required when additional factors are in play.

    Again you argue against yourself with your own examples. My contention is that Newton’s “law” is incorrect. You provided an example showing that Newton’s “law” is incorrect.

    No I do not! You have simply failed to take on board the comment I posted @15 about specified limited circumstances needing to be included.

    The word “law” is used less and less in science, as many laws are only true under limited circumstances.

    When scientists say that “a scientific law breaks down”, they are referring to it not applying to areas outside its limited circumstances. – Such as the laws of physics on the planets of the Solar System, do not necessarily apply in a neutron star or a black hole.

    My contention is the Newton’s “law” is merely an approximation. You provided an example wherein that approximation is not good enough to allow for a working system.

    No! Newton’s laws are correct, but may need additional factors added to the calculations to accommodate other phenomena.

    In the arithmetic of a calculation or formula of an equation, it is not invalidated because someone missed off some of the input data!
    The process is simply incomplete and can be continued.
    It is only incorrect if the incomplete result is asserted to be the final answer.

    http://csep10.phys.utk.edu/astr161/lect/history/newton3laws.html

    I. Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

    II. The relationship between an object’s mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F = ma. Acceleration and force are vectors (as indicated by their symbols being displayed in slant bold font); in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the direction of the acceleration vector.

    III. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

  26. Whatever the origin of the universe, be it a Big Bang, a Big Tear or a status of lack of entropy, the second law of thermodynamics forces it to exist, as well as an end consisting of a maximum entropy status to also exist. Rejecting it to would entail much more problems than those that are fixed.

  27. Stardusty Psyche #18
    Mar 5, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    No problem. These much overworked “laws” were developed centuries ago to study heat. They are gross approximations of the underlying reality, an underlying reality that no human has yet discovered despite great efforts to do so and great progress made in modern physics.

    I find it ironic, that when someone writes this sort of confused waffle about solidly evidenced science, they go on to dispute the accuracy of scientific laws in an age when the science has achieved incredible accuracy!

    Stardusty Psyche #25 – Mar 6, 2016 at 9:09 am
    My contention is the Newton’s “law” is merely an approximation. You provided an example wherein that approximation is not good enough to allow for a working system.

    The applications of Newton’s laws and Einstein’s modifications are well understood. Difficulties in making measurements in no way reflect on the validity of the underlying science!

    http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast162/Unit5/gps.html

    The current GPS configuration consists of a network of 24 satellites in high orbits around the Earth. Each satellite in the GPS constellation orbits at an altitude of about 20,000 km from the ground, and has an orbital speed of about 14,000 km/hour (the orbital period is roughly 12 hours – contrary to popular belief, GPS satellites are not in geosynchronous or geostationary orbits). The satellite orbits are distributed so that at least 4 satellites are always visible from any point on the Earth at any given instant (with up to 12 visible at one time). Each satellite carries with it an atomic clock that “ticks” with an accuracy of 1 nanosecond (1 billionth of a second). A GPS receiver in an airplane determines its current position and heading by comparing the time signals it receives from a number of the GPS satellites (usually 6 to 12) and trilaterating on the known positions of each satellite[1]. The precision achieved is remarkable: even a simple hand-held GPS receiver can determine your absolute position on the surface of the Earth to within 5 to 10 meters in only a few seconds (with differential techiques that compare two nearby receivers, precisions of order centimeters or millimeters in relative position are often obtained in under an hour or so). A GPS receiver in a car can give accurate readings of position, speed, and heading in real-time!

    To achieve this level of precision, the clock ticks from the GPS satellites must be known to an accuracy of 20-30 nanoseconds. However, because the satellites are constantly moving relative to observers on the Earth, effects predicted by the Special and General theories of Relativity must be taken into account to achieve the desired 20-30 nanosecond accuracy.

    Because an observer on the ground sees the satellites in motion relative to them, Special Relativity predicts that we should see their clocks ticking more slowly (see the Special Relativity lecture). Special Relativity predicts that the on-board atomic clocks on the satellites should fall behind clocks on the ground by about 7 microseconds per day because of the slower ticking rate due to the time dilation effect of their relative motion.

    Further, the satellites are in orbits high above the Earth, where the curvature of spacetime due to the Earth’s mass is less than it is at the Earth’s surface. A prediction of General Relativity is that clocks closer to a massive object will seem to tick more slowly than those located further away (see the Black Holes lecture). As such, when viewed from the surface of the Earth, the clocks on the satellites appear to be ticking faster than identical clocks on the ground. A calculation using General Relativity predicts that the clocks in each GPS satellite should get ahead of ground-based clocks by 45 microseconds per day.

    The combination of these two relativitic effects means that the clocks on-board each satellite should tick faster than identical clocks on the ground by about 38 microseconds per day (45-7=38)! This sounds small, but the high-precision required of the GPS system requires nanosecond accuracy, and 38 microseconds is 38,000 nanoseconds. If these effects were not properly taken into account, a navigational fix based on the GPS constellation would be false after only 2 minutes, and errors in global positions would continue to accumulate at a rate of about 10 kilometers each day! The whole system would be utterly worthless for navigation in a very short time. This kind of accumulated error is akin to measuring my location while standing on my front porch in Columbus, Ohio one day, and then making the same measurement a week later and having my GPS receiver tell me that my porch and I are currently somewhere in the air kilometers away.

    The engineers who designed the GPS system included these relativistic effects when they designed and deployed the system. For example, to counteract the General Relativistic effect once on orbit, they slowed down the ticking frequency of the atomic clocks before they were launched so that once they were in their proper orbit stations their clocks would appear to tick at the correct rate as compared to the reference atomic clocks at the GPS ground stations. Further, each GPS receiver has built into it a microcomputer that, in addition to performing the calculation of position using 3D trilateration, will also compute any additional special relativistic timing calculations required [2].

    Relativity is not just some abstract mathematical theory: understanding it is absolutely essential for our global navigation system to work properly!

    There are no scientific authorities, never have been.

    I think this illustrates your problem in recognising expert opinion and solid evidence!

  28. Newton’s law in not “incorrect”. They are correct within their defined parameters, with further adjustments being required when additional factors are in play.

    That what makes them approximations. Approximations are not correct, they are only almost correct. In our practical daily live almost correct is often good enough to get by, and is typically much preferable to not even being close.

    Pop quiz, my friend
    3 + 3 = x
    What is the value of x?
    A) 9
    B) 0
    C) 5.999999
    D) 6

    (hint, the answer is D, if you chose A, B, or C you get zero points for this question on the test)

    Bonus question:
    Which answer is a good approximation for most practical purposes but is not the correct answer to the previous question?
    (hint, the answer is C)

  29. Origins and endings suggest nothingness.
    There may be absolute nothingness. But we definitely cannot conceive of it. However, Krauss made a good and humbling point in a debate I saw recently: what we cannot conceive of is not the last word on any subject: that which we cannot conceive of may still be possible.
    The defiance of any given co-called law of nature, for example, seems inconceivable. But most of these laws are based on probability and induction. The law of gravity might cease to be at any moment. Unlikely – but possible.
    I do know one thing: nothingness must remain an abstraction, a theory – as opposed to something we can verify through personal experience. When we die there will probably be nothingness. But no one has ever come back to verify this claim. And if the were to, it would be anecdotal. Scientists are not interested in anecdotes – even if the come from a former dead person!
    But theories and abstractions do not make it any less Real. – If it can be proven.

  30. @danielr

    “No beginning.” That is also inconceivable. And the same arguments apply.

    No beginning. No end. We don’t know now. We may never know. We may not be able to Conceive of it. But the universe doesn’t care. The track record of the universe in surprising Homo Sapiens so far, is outstanding. The universe is a real trickster. So it wouldn’t surprise me if there wasn’t a beginning, or an end. Or there is a beginning and end. The universe and I are at one here. I don’t particular care. I just want to know. We can think of stuff to discuss, that might be of interest to us, but the universe isn’t listening.

  31. @ David

    Hi, David,

    If you read my first comment above you will see that I said that what we can or cannot conceive of is not the test of what IS or IS NOT.

    (I must say this: the inconceivability of infinity and finitude re the universe is not without significance; a legitimate problem does exist. Arguing that the universe just IS does not solve that problem. Knowledge is an essential part of the ongoing problem concerning this seemingly paradoxical aspect of the “objective” universe.)

  32. Stardusty Psyche #29
    Mar 6, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    (hint, the answer is C)

    Hint – You still have no idea about the laws of science, and are conflating laws of science, with attempts at measurement and calculations! – Even after I gave you an example of applied laws and theories working in conjunction with each other @38.

    When more than one law, theorem, or parameters are applicable, it is the person who omits the other inputs who is wrong, not the law working within its parameters, or in conjunction with other laws!

    Spherical Geometry
    https://plus.maths.org/content/mathematical-mysteries-strange-geometries

    N.3. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

    Perhaps you could give me an example where this law (working within its parameters or in conjunction with other relevant laws), is wrong or inaccurate! (It is one of the simpler aspects of rocket science)

  33. Stardusty Psyche #29
    Mar 6, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Newton’s law is not “incorrect”. They are correct within their defined parameters, with further adjustments being required when additional factors are in play.

    That what makes them approximations.

    No it doesn’t! It makes them incomplete, with the known additional requirements needed to account for relative velocities and gravity when these are relevant.

    Approximations are not correct, they are only almost correct.

    The answers are only approximate when misused by omitting relative velocities.

    In our practical daily live almost correct is often good enough to get by, and is typically much preferable to not even being close.

    The fact that engineers find the results satisfactory, without making the final minute adjustments to most mechanisms on Earth, has no bearing on the omission of known requirements from the calculations.
    It is simply foolishness to omit part of a formula from a calculation, and then claim the included part is in accurate because the formula rather than the user is wrong!

    Pop quiz, my friend

    You do seem to be getting your information from pop-quizzes, rather than science papers or text books.

    It’s a bit like creationists who claim the second law of thermodynamics disproves the theory of evolution by way of natural selection!
    As the second law relates to increasing entropy in closed systems, their failure to recognise that the Earth has inputs and outputs of energy, and hence is not a closed system, simply illustrates that they are clueless about both thermodynamics and evolution!

  34. @david-r-allen #23

    When Alan4D comments on this article, I know what he is talking about. When PecanP or O’Brien comment, I skim, and file it in the dustbin marked, Not Reason or Science.

    I have not (until now) commented on this article. If you are referring to me in this comment, what specific comment(s) of mine are you having difficulty with? I would be happy to do my best to help you understand.

  35. Stardusty Psyche #22
    Mar 5, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    99.999999 != 100

    I’ll stick with the 99.999999+% accuracy of Newton , with the additional accuracy up-grades from Einstein’s General relativity, and special Relativity.

    Those are 2 different numbers. They are not the same.
    If the correct answer is 100 then 99.999999 is the wrong answer.

    If you wish to dwell in your assumed “remaining percentage” of approximated wrongness, after science has taken Newton and Einstein into account, that is your choice!

    https://richarddawkins.net/2016/03/no-big-bang-quantum-equation-predicts-universe-has-no-beginning/#li-comment-199451

  36. @peacepecan

    in #23

    I was referring to you. In summary, if you want to discuss something that is scientific, there are accepted standard definitions. This is so we know what we are talking about. If you want to write you own definitions for the universe, by all means do so, but to try and impose your personal definition on a scientific discussion, where the definitions are set by the standard science of the day, is a bit pointless. I don’t know how many posts you made on the meaning of the word “Universe” in your mind, but it didn’t contribute to the discussion on the topic, “No big bang” etc. What this meant, was that when I saw a post from you on this subject, I skipped it. And I like to read almost every poster.

  37. @david-r-allen #39

    Thank you for clarifying.

    Next time you feel compelled to comment on one or more of my comments on a particular news item or other post on this site, I respectfully request that you reply to me directly and on the same comment thread so that I can reply directly to you on the same thread and in a more timely manner. If you are not willing or able to do that, then I suggest you simply ignore my comments and refrain from making derogatory statements about me.

  38. Interesting times. I’ve been hoping for some breakthrough that could eliminate all the divide-by-zero errors that plague the current state of physics, and produce a way round the need for such irritating singularities. And if it can get rid of the fudge-factors known as Dark Matter and Dark Energy, all the better. I find them disappointing, like a poorly filled plot hole in a story. I look forward to the day when they take their rightful places alongside phlogiston, ether, souls, spirits and the elan vital.

    Maybe this is a step in the right direction. Or not. Hopefully it get’s careful consideration from those who can do the math. I look forward to the TV special that explains it all with lovely HD graphics, and I can bask in the warm glow of Understanding. Hopefully Neil deGrasse Tyson gets to front it, I like his voice.

    Meanwhile, I shall continue to trust the everyday accuracy of the science underpinning our technology, and be amazed by it. And perhaps hope that the next breakthrough will not only tidy up some loose ends, but also enable some new technology that is impossible within the current theories. Like GPS, pre relativity. Maybe getting round the difficulties with interstellar travel, that would be nice.

    Where did I read the notion that if we can imagine it (in sufficient detail) we can Make it So?

    ps I keep misreading Bohmian as Bohemian. Anybody else doing this?

  39. @OHooligan #41

    And if it can get rid of the fudge-factors known as Dark Matter and Dark Energy, all the better. I find them disappointing, like a poorly filled plot hole in a story. I look forward to the day when they take their rightful places alongside phlogiston, ether, souls, spirits and the elan vital.

    I don’t think you will get to see that day. That is it is highly unlikely that we will make a discovery that renders the terms incorrect or not useful. They are not analogous ideas to phlogiston or souls or even aether. Those were rather ad-hoc proposals to explain observations or data. Dark Matter explains a number of observations and both to some extent, certainly Dark Energy, are just names given to observational facts.

    Some did think that proposing unseen matter to explain gravitational anomalies was a step too far but they have mostly abandoned their alternatives. The evidence that there really is weakly interacting cold stuff out there following the rules of gravity is becoming extraordinarily difficult to explain using alternate rules of gravity. Indeed, most modified gravity equations simply cannot explain the data we have gathered, especially in the last 20 years.

    I used to wonder about this myself having both in undergrad and in grad school professors who did not like the dark matter idea. One of them had a rather beautiful idea resulting in an alternate set of field equations that gave rotation curves without extra unseen matter and acted repulsively on large scales and could be tuned to explain dark energy as well. But, alas, the bullet cluster and anisotropies in the CMB have not cooperated. By far the most likely case is that we really do live in a universe with copious amounts of weakly interacting stuff.

    The mostly likely discovery we will make regarding dark matter will be finding the particle that makes it up. We will still refer to it as dark matter because it is matter that is dark.

  40. @Northampton

    Feynmann explaining QED said (I paraphrase): you don’t have to LIKE it. But this is how you do the calculations, and you get very very accurate results.

    Just because I don’t like Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and Singularities, doesn’t mean I think they fail as explanations. I’d still like to see something more elegant, but that’s just me. Feynmann also said it doesn’t matter how elegant your theory, if it doesn’t agree with observation, it’s wrong.

  41. @OHooligan #43

    Ah, very good. I’m boring as I hope dark energy turns out to be just what we think it is; vacuum energy. Then string theorists have to explain it.

    Feynmann also said it doesn’t matter how elegant your theory, if it doesn’t agree with observation, it’s wrong.

    The full lecture where Feynman said that should be mandatory viewing for anyone taking a science class. Or maybe just mandatory viewing.

  42. I’m not an expert at all.
    But I think that [the universe has a beginning] is something similar with [a person has a beginning, from baby to adult then died]. So, that doesn’t mean the universe suddenly “boom” existed but just like a person who is born from another person so our universe is born from another universe. Never ending causality, there is no beginning – no ending, (cyclical???) and no need a creator.

    Just my fantasy thought :).

    regards.
    PS : I’m sorry for my broken English.

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