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Why Time Might Not Be an Illusion
Einstein’s relativity pushes physicists towards a picture of the universe as a block, in which the past, present, and future all exist on the same footing; but maybe that shift in thinking has gone too far.

The Complexity Conundrum
Resolving the black hole firewall paradox—by calculating what a real astronaut would compute at the black hole's edge.

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Defining a ‘quantum clock’ and a 'quantum ruler' could help those attempting to unify physics—and solve the mystery of vanishing time.

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Calculating the odds that intelligent observers arise in parallel universes—and working out what they might see.

Sounding the Drums to Listen for Gravity’s Effect on Quantum Phenomena
A bench-top experiment could test the notion that gravity breaks delicate quantum superpositions.

March 18, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Why This Universe? [refresh]
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Blogger William Orem wrote on Jun. 28, 2007 @ 19:52 GMT
There's an excellent -- really -- article available for free download from called "Why This Universe?" by Robert Kuhn. The title, disarmingly broad as it is (one thinks of "Love and Death," Woody Allen's send-up of overly grandiose Russian novels) is nevertheless too narrow. The article is a synopsis, with a good amount of detail, of each of the major cosmological and philosophical issues surrounding the existence, and perceived characteristics, of the universe.

image: alon

Included in this multiverse of issues are "Meaningless Question‚" (nature and its parameters are a "brute fact," as philosopher Robert Nozick called it); "Necessary/Only Way‚" (the universe is the way it is as the result of "deep essence" of physical law); "Almost Necessary"; "Temporal Selection"; "Self-Explaining" ("the universe is self-created and self-explaining"); "Multiverse by Disconnected Regions"; "Multiverse by Cycles"; "Multiverse by Sequential Selection‚" "Multiverse by Quantum Branching," and so on, and on.

It's really a nicely comprehensive primer on the mind-bending fecundity of mind-bending possibilities, and excellent summer reading for folks interested in Foundational issues.

It's also good news this week -- or bad, if you were hoping for Relativity to take it on the chin -- for the question of whether fundamental constants have changed across time. The ratio of electron-to-proton masses has been carefully tested by an Australian lab comparing light from a quasar to the same type of light produced in a lab, in the thought that, one of these signals being a few billion years old, fluctuations across cosmic timescales would be observed. Physicsweb has the article, wryly titled "Fundamental constant is pretty much constant." The short version: plus ca change . . .

image: orangeacid

Question: Einstein was smart enough to realize that if the clock is slowing down by the same amount as the yardstick is shrinking, the inertial observer won't be able to tell that anything has changed. Is it possible that the fundamental constants could be fluctuating in sync with the parameters required for measuring them, so that they always appear to be inviolate?

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paul valletta wrote on Jun. 29, 2007 @ 04:22 GMT
Before I read the article link, I ask of the "way it is", ..why is it that some people ask certain questions, and other people ask other questions?

Why does the Universe display its reasons in such a varied way, why not create all questions and questioners as a default function, ie..say all questions by all persons exactly alike?

The next question of course is:In other many Universe's, what type of questions are asked, of other "possible" Universe's?

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paul valletta wrote on Jul. 1, 2007 @ 20:26 GMT
This is an interesting article :Why not Nothing?

The article author gives a vast and varied collection of quotes from all disciplines. But I have to admit I have a problem with the definition of "Nothing", so as the author and a number of scientists interviewed. So as an example I will quote form the article:

1 “Wouldn’t it have been easier

if there were not even one thing, in the

sense that there is no causal activity,

whereas things require causes to bring

them into existence? Wouldn’t it have

been simpler in the sense that there are

zero things if there are no things, and

that as a number zero is simpler than

one, two, three or any other number?

Wouldn’t it have been more logical in the

sense that the laws of logic do not imply

there are things and if there are things,

that fact is inexplicable in terms of the

laws of logic?” (For euphony, as well as

simplicity, I will continue to use

“Nothing”—Quentin, my apologies.)"

The problem here is "nothing" in the context of, order/simplicity is actually completely the opposite of what it represents, I have had this arguement some years ago so before I continue let me quote from the article again:

While recognizingthat the empty world is vastly, even

infinitely, easer to describe, van Inwagenreasons that this should not increase itsrelative probability unless “one is covertlythinking that there is something that is outside the ‘Reality’, and “the simplicity of the empty world provides us with no reason to regard it as more probable than any other possibleworld.” .

To create complete order, such as reducing any system to a uniformed unity, is actually the most complexed process one can imagine. The definition of "simple-order" would mean a process of complete and absolute control, control over every particle, halting all trajectories to ensure that no further collisions occur. Reducing a system to absolute order is far more complex than allowing a system to have a finite gentle movement!

In the article there is a quote by omongst others Roger Penrose:Penrose’s analysis of the “extraordinary ‘specialness’ of the Big Bang” is based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the

“absurdly low entropy” [i.e., highly organized]

state of the very early universe.

My argument is that the "absurdly low entropy" here, is actually the most comlex function to ever have occured! mathematical terms, the nothing is represented by the zero, who can deny this number as being the most complex number in existence, far more complex than infinite?

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bob wrote on Jul. 16, 2007 @ 11:50 GMT
Isn't "zero" in that sense different from Nothingness at least because it contains within it the potentiality of Somethingness? Doesn't the existence of the universe demonstrate that there is no such thing as Nothingness except in the weak sense of a nothingness that contains the potential for existence?

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Gevin Giorbran wrote on Jul. 20, 2007 @ 06:18 GMT
Hey Paul and Bob,

It is possible to fully understand zero in terms of complexity and potential, but you have to let go of your assumptions that zero exists in the past. Zero exists in the future of an expanding universe, not the past. Physicists have projected zero into the past in order to theorize that the universe naturally arose out of nothing rather than a God. In reacting to the bias...

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Blogger William Orem wrote on Jul. 22, 2007 @ 15:39 GMT

I love these questions-- or, rather, this question, which surely is the most Foundational of all. It may also be the most important philosophical question: Why is there something? The best modern treatment of the question, already noted, is Robert Nozick's essay "Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?" from the book *Philosophical Explanations*. Nozick, who died much too young,...

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Gevin Giorbran wrote on Jul. 28, 2007 @ 12:19 GMT
Imagine standing at the very precipice of the birth of the multiverse. Imagine a cliff and out beyond the edge of the cliff there is nothing at all. So you put your hand out to the surface and touch the originating moment. Now push through it. Reach beyond. What is it like? Any words come to mind? Is it frightening, or menacing? Is it vibrant with all the potential of being? Is it thick or dark,...

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vince wrote on Nov. 19, 2007 @ 16:40 GMT
why should we wonder about the exitence of the universe while in the meanwhile we destroy it as much as we can ?

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Jul. 31, 2009 @ 14:24 GMT
Dear William Orem,

I will repeat here the answer to your question of why is there something rather than nothing. Originally I touched on this issue in your Out of Plato’s Cave blog.

The answer, is because it can be. Here is how.

Mathematics is infinite and by Gödel there is no possible axiomatization of math. Reality contains mathematicians who discover all this...

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