Could the laws of the universe be different?

Hello skeptics and other lurkers,

Today’s post again comes courtesy of a tweeter, who asked a question along the lines of this post’s title. This is a question which I have wanted to deal with for a while now, and I think that tonight is as good a time as ever for me to deal with it.

The laws of nature (as you should all know by now) are the laws which define the four fundamental forces we observe (gravity, strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetism) and the mathematical equations which describe these four forces. Most of the plight of modern particle physics is to find out as much as we can about these forces and equations, and see how it works out for the universe now, in the past and in the future, hoping to discover as much about our universe as possible, with the ultimate goal being to finish with one sum which describes all of these forces, the Theory of Everything (TOE). Last night I talked about string theory and the TOE, and this is one of the important parts in answering tonight’s question.

One of the most important ideas in particle physics is that, under extremely high energies, three of the fundamental forces (electromagnetism, strong nuclear, weak nuclear) can be united by one Grand Unified Theory (GUT) which describes all three forces. This theory has survived mathematical attempts at disproof and appears strong mathematically. This Grand Unified Theory is very important to particle physics. The hope is that, under EVEN higher temperatures and energies, this Grand Unified Theory can be combined with gravity to create the Theory of Everything. Gravity has always been a thorn in the side of physicists, and is actually the least understood and proven of all the fundamental forces, despite its obviousness in everyday life.

The hope and expectations are that gravity and the other three forces can be combined under higher temperatures to form one Theory of Everything. If it is true, as predicted by modern physics, then this has surprising implications for the four fundamental forces.

When the universe was born in the big bang, it was in a state of extreme heat, pressure and energy. Then it went under a process called ‘inflation’, where the universe expanded extremely rapidly (faster than the speed of light) and cooled extremely rapidly. There are two factors which are important in answering our question. 1. At the start, the universe was in a state of very high energy and heat, and 2. The universe expanded faster than the speed of light. Now, if there was ever a time in the history of the universe where the four fundamental forces would be combined, it would be right at the start.

Now, one hypothesis of a multiverse is extrapolated from this. If the universe went under rapid expansion while the four fundamental forces were combined, it could be true that, due to different parts of the universe being cut off from each other because of the speed of light, in different places, the universe could have cooled at different rates, meaning that the four fundamental forces could be different in those universes. Due to this hypothesis, it could be true that from one big bang, multiple universes could have been created. The definition of a universe is all of the things which can be observed, and seeing that these places are cut off from each other due to the speed of light, you have your self a multiverse, with different laws of physics.

This idea, like all multiverse hypotheses, has ramifications for the fine-tuning of the universe. It is one which is also hypothesized by accepted physics models, and is one if the easiest to accept, seeing that we know there must be much more out there than the observable universe.

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Roy Williams… Again

Hello there skeptics, atheists and scientists,

Today I am going to be blogging about Roy Williams again, I haven’t blogged about his arguments for a while now, I’ve been saving this one up. In his book, ‘god actually’ , Roy has a section entitled ‘Tackling arguments against a designing god’, today I am going to be rebutting some of these ‘rebuttals’. Most of his arguments are completely ridiculous in here, as he completely misses the point of particular arguments.

He discusses the idea of naturalistic, evolutionary, reasons for a religion to exist, and he misses the whole point of the idea. This argument is just a rebuttal of an argument used by Christians for religion. They say “If religion isn’t true, why does it exist. Religion must have some truth to it because otherwise why would humans have made up the concept in the first place. Natural explanations for religion like an evolutionary advantage to belief, or a ‘god center’ somewhere in the brain, are not arguments against god, as Williams portrays them as, they are rebuttals of arguments for god. And somehow, in all of it, Williams blames us for non-sequiters by saying that this is not an argument against god.

Another argument which Williams ‘takes on’ is the ‘god of the gaps’ argument, apparently, used by atheists. This is the first time I have heard god of the gaps being used to argue against god, but there you go. For as long as I can remember, the god of the gaps has been a logical fallacy describing religious people, not an argument against god. It has always been just like most, a rebuttal of theist arguments, not arguments of our own. Williams also happens to say that his beliefs are not god of the gap arguments, despite using arguments like irreducible complexity and creation of the universe, and quite often saying, “Science cannot explain this”, which is kind of the definition of the god of the gaps argument.

These are just a few of the arguments ‘taken on’ by Roy Williams, and they demonstrate the way Williams argues. He is completely unaware of the whole idea of most of the atheism VS religion debate. When it comes to science and logic, the burden of proof is on the affirmative (religion), and it is the job of the negative (atheism) to show the logical fallacies and factual incorrectness which may be present in these arguments. It’s quite fine for the religious to counter-rebut these arguments, but it’s not okay for them to claim that these are direct arguments against god, and then to just say that they are using non-sequiters. If he wants to tackle some real arguments against god, not some rebuttals, take a look at some of the apparent logical contradictions in god, the concept of cause-and-effect, or the idea of something from nothing.

That’s all for today, I will leave you with a quote from H. L. Mencken, “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”, H. L. Mencken, an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, critic of American culture and scholar.

More on quantum theory and the start of the universe(s)

Hello to my google using fellows (the one Bing user out there, get out!),

Yesterday I posted about an argument made in a book I was reading, god actually, which states that a multiverse theory is desperate, has no proof, and is against Occam’s razor. I also showed yesterday how there is indirect proof that multiverses should exist, and that it is logical, not desperate. Today I will be showing you how it is also something which is against Occam’s razor. But first, I will give anybody out there who doesn’t know, the low-down on Occam’s razor.

Occam’s razor is a logical tool to decide on what is the most likely theory to suit observations. It does not mean that what Occam’s razor says is the correct hypothesis, it just says what is the most likely hypothesis, but it is usually correct. Occam’s razor, in a nut-shell, states that the theory which invokes the least amount of new assumptions is most likely the correct theory. This can be applied to our solar system… It is possible to model a solar system which is centered around the earth and holds up to all observations, but this would be highly complex, and it is much simpler to create a solar system which is centered with the sun.

Now I will show how it applies to our god vs multiverse discussion. The stance taken by Roy Williams and Paul Davies is that it is against Occam’s razor to invoke an infinite amount of universes to explain the coincidences of one universe, and it is much simpler to explain these contrivances with a god who designed them to be that way.
This is wrong. In fact, I believe it is quite the opposite. I’m going to list the assumptions made by each side of the argument.

Goddidit: It isn’t really a lot of assumptions, just one MASSIVE assumption, that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, supernatural, existing-outside-of-the-universe deity who, for no apparent reason, decided to create a universe, with intelligent beings in it, just for his amusing.
Multiverses: We know about quantum mechanics and the “all possibilities are achieved” consequences of it, we know how the universe was created, and that if it probably happened for us, then it probably happened for a lot of universes. The only assumption, (if you want to call it that) is the quantum fluctuations occur, and this has been proven.

That means assumptions go as follows, goddidit 1 – 0 multiverse.

Occam’s razor, because it is a scientific tool which requires natural causes, cannot be used to support a supernatural explanation because if there were supernatural forces in the universe, then Occam’s razor is useless.

I will leave you with a quote from Bertrand Russell, “Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities.” Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, logican, mathematician, historian and social critic.

Quantum theory and the start of the universe

Hello, skeptics,

The inspiration for today’s post comes from a book I have started reading entitled ‘god actually’ by Roy Williams, an Australian author who claims to be able to show that god probably exists. It provides some interesting points (I said interesting, not valid) on why god should be taken seriously. I will be basing blogs on this book for the next few weeks while I read through it. I will use one quote from this book (this quote was taken from Paul Davies for use in this book.) to start my investigations.

“Invoking an infinite number of other universes just to explain the apparent contrivances  of the one we see is pretty drastic, and in stark conflict with Occam’s razor (according to which science should prefer explanations with the least number of assumptions). I think it’s much more satisfactory from a scientific point of view to try to understand why things are the way they are in this universe and not to invent imaginary universes to do the job.”

There a few things I have to say about this quote, and I may have to spread it over a few posts.
This book also states that there is no proof of a possible multiverse. This is true in the strictest sense, we have no definitive proof that multiverses exist, (we have no definitive proof that atoms are the way we think they are either) but we can make inferences from other observations.
I will also say that we cannot ever know what actually caused our universe to be created, because it is before time was created, and science cannot deal directly with that.
Lets look at this with quantum chance. I have blogged before that there are infinite ways that something can exist, and one way that nothing exists, and this means that something must  occur. scale this up, not only to one universe, but to more than one universe, (if it is certain that one universe must exist, then in this instance, it is also certain that infinite universes must exist) it means that this first spawned universe must also invoke other universes, and an infinite amount of universes must exist.

I will do a little flow chart to show the possible outcomes.

Even if it is very unlikely to happen, when you have infinite universes, they are all going to happen.

Multiverses will always result in some form of intelligent life, and instead of these multiverses being made-up figments of our imagination in a desperate attempt to show that humans can come to be about without a god, they are, theoretically, an essential part of theology and science.

That is all for me today, I will continue this topic tomorrow. I will leave you with a quote from  Douglas Adams, “Yes, I think I use the term “radical” rather loosely, just for emphasis. If you describe yourself as “atheist,” some people will say, “Don’t you mean ‘agnostic’?” I have to reply that I really do mean atheist, I really do not believe that there is a god; in fact, I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one … etc., etc. It’s easier to say that I am a radical atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that it’s an opinion I hold seriously.” Douglas Adams, English Author and atheist of some note.

Concluding Schrodinger’s cat

Hello to the skeptical gang, and that one creationist (you know who you are.),

Yesterday I made a post about how there may be infinite universes out there where every single possibility is fulfilled in that universe, and I also said that it not only talks about sub-atomic things like nuclear radiation of particles or whether or not the cat dies, but it most likely also relates to everyday things, like tossing coins.

Now, when I first heard about this theory and when I have since described it to other people, we have all had the same initial reaction. It’s just like those times in a TV series or book series where the writer has clearly run out of ideas for the season so decides to do the cliché parallel universe episode, where the personalities are turned around and it provides everybody with some ironic humor.  This is probably not the case for most universes. Out there somewhere in the multiverse, there will be a universe where that happens, but it won’t be the norm. And no, the way to access these parallel universes is not through a mirror.

I must explain, when things like this happen, obviously our universe is the universe which follows one line through the probability tree, there is no way in which we can change it, and there is no way in which we can leap from branch to branch through universes.

I also referenced a crazy experiment where a scientist conducts the Schrödinger’s cat experiment on themselves. This is just suicidal, because in almost every single instance, the scientist will be killed, but in one of the multiverses, he will survive. In this lucky universe, the scientist will survive and live to fight another day and to research more stuff in particle physics. In the other universes however, there will be much mourning for the gallant scientist who chanced his life for science, and will be forever more wondering, “Was there another universe out there with ‘the scientist that lived'”. The only proof for the multiverse so far, other than disturbances in the CMBR, is that experiment. Proof would be a living scientist, and a dead scientist proves nothing.

CMBR image

Circular disturbances to the CMBR are the only other way which we would be able to test the multiverse.

That’s about it for Schrödinger’s cat and the implications this thought experiment has had on current quantum theory. Originally designed to show how ridiculous it all is, it is now one of the most common descriptions of quantum mechanics around today. It is also the only reason why we remember Erwin Schrödinger, and is his lasting legacy.
To be honest, if there is one thing I would like to achieve in my life, is to have something such as a thought experiment like this named after me, it’s the only way for an Atheist to stick around after his death.

I will leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein, “God does not play dice.” Albert Einstein, possibly the greatest mind to reject the theory of quantum mechanics.

More on quantum mechanics

Greetings and salutations to all intelligent people in the meta-nation which is the internet.

Yesterday I made a blog about Schrödinger’s cat and the implications it has for quantum mechanics. Today I would like to talk about a more extreme Schrödinger’s cat experiment where the lowly cat is replaced for an actual scientist. This seems like a very crazy experiment to conduct and it is, because the scientist will most likely die, but maybe, just maybe, he will survive and live to test more stuff another day.

To find out why this experiment would ever be done, I will explain to you one explanation of the “one photon acts like a lot of photons” experiment that I talked about last time. The leading interpretation at the moment is that when something happens, say, a photon goes through a slit, or a radioactive atom decays, or you decide not to use conditioner in the shower, all of the possible outcomes are achieved with their respective wave functions, and these happen in different universes. What is interesting is that when something like Schrödinger’s cat happens, there is one universe in the multiverse where the cat dies almost instantaneously, and another universe where the cat does not die at all, and this happens with everything that happens in the universe, and other universes, and more universes. What this conjures up in my mind almost instantly in a tree, and I think it helps describe this well.

Probability diagram

A probability tree which shows well how this interpretation of quantum theory works

Imagine the world as it is now, there are two possibilities right now, you can continue to read this blog, or you can log off (which would be very rude) There will be one universe where you log off, this is universe A, and one where you continue reading, universe B. Now there are two ‘parallel’ universes. There will now be two choices in universe A, you decide to log back on, because you realize how rude what you did was, and one where you stay logged off. in universe B, you have two choices, you stay logged on because this is completely riveting stuff, and one where you do finally log off.

The universe that we do end up being in will be one of those possibilities, hopefully the one where you stay online. But that does not mean that the other universes do not exist, they still exist, but you and I cannot ever get back to that other universe. This explains the ‘one photon acting like lots’ experiments. It also means that occasionally, unlikely things will happen, like the cat not passing away. It also means that out there, in the multiverse, there is a universe where I am having a conversation with Michael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

That’s all for today, I will leave you with a quote from Michio Kaku, ” In fact, it is often stated that of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory. Some say that the only thing that quantum theory has going for it, in fact, is that it is unquestionably correct.” Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, co-founder of string theory, a futurist and a popularizer of science.