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BBC swings and misses: “Why is there something instead of nothing?”, pt. 2 ( –> Being, Logic and First Principles, 24b)

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The exploration in-the-wild on Heidegger’s pivotal question is turning out to be quite fruitful. Here, we see BBC swing and miss, leading to dancing stumps.

Dancing stumps:

Video, with one of the greats at bat:

First, context, we are discussing here popularised forms of the idea that “nothing” has been defined by physicists to denote in effect a sub-universe that gives rise to quantum fluctuations and thus expanding sub-universes. Let’s clip from the parent thread LFP 24:

[KF, LFP 24, 41:] Let us continue our “in-the-wild” exploration, here a Robert Adler BBC article (as representing what we might find in high-prestige media):


[BBC:] >>Why is there something rather than nothing?
By Robert Adler
6 November 2014


People have wrestled with the mystery of why the universe exists for thousands of years. Pretty much every ancient culture came up with its own creation story – most of them leaving the matter in the hands of the gods – and philosophers have written reams on the subject. But science has had little to say about this ultimate question.

However, in recent years a few physicists and cosmologists have started to tackle it. They point out that we now have an understanding of the history of the universe, and of the physical laws that describe how it works. That information, they say, should give us a clue about how and why the cosmos exists.

Their admittedly controversial answer is that the entire universe, from the fireball of the Big Bang to the star-studded cosmos we now inhabit, popped into existence from nothing at all. It had to happen, they say, because “nothing” is inherently unstable.

This idea may sound bizarre, or just another fanciful creation story. But the physicists argue that it follows naturally from science’s two most powerful and successful theories: quantum mechanics and general relativity . . . .
Quantum mechanics tells us that there is no such thing as empty space. Even the most perfect vacuum is actually filled by a roiling cloud of particles and antiparticles, which flare into existence and almost instantaneously fade back into nothingness.

These so-called virtual particles don’t last long enough to be observed directly, but we know they exist by their effects . . . . [W]hen quantum theory is applied to space [–> note, we are now dealing with cosmology informed by extensions of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity over the past century] at the smallest possible scale, space itself becomes unstable. Rather than remaining perfectly smooth and continuous, space and time destabilize, churning and frothing into a foam of space-time bubbles.

In other words, little bubbles of space and time can form spontaneously. “If space and time are quantized, they can fluctuate,” says Lawrence Krauss at Arizona State University in Tempe. “So you can create virtual space-times just as you can create virtual particles.”

What’s more, if it’s possible for these bubbles to form, you can guarantee that they will. “In quantum physics, if something is not forbidden, it necessarily happens with some non-zero probability,” says Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts . . . . So it’s not just particles and antiparticles that can snap in and out of nothingness: bubbles of space-time can do the same. Still, it seems like a big leap from an infinitesimal space-time bubble to a massive universe that hosts 100 billion galaxies. Surely, even if a bubble formed, it would be doomed to disappear again in the blink of an eye?

Actually, it is possible for the bubble to survive. But for that we need another trick: cosmic inflation . . . . a fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the quantum-sized bubble of space expanded stupendously fast. In an incredibly brief moment, it went from being smaller than the nucleus of an atom to the size of a grain of sand. When the expansion finally slowed, the force field that had powered it was transformed into the matter and energy that fill the universe today. Guth calls inflation “the ultimate free lunch”.>>

[KF:] This is of course an expanded form of Dr Dawkins’ assertions in the OP above, where he made such heavy weather over the difference between something and a genuine no-thing. Thus, it falls victim to precisely the same inadvertent bait-switch fallacy that we already saw. In effect, it proposes a quasi-physical, speculative sub-universe that provides a space-time, energy-rich context for inflationary bubbles to form and toss up sub-cosmi such as ours, allegedly. With, of course, the sub-verse lurking as the implicitly claimed, brute fact necessary being world-root.

Never mind, heat death, traversal of the transfinite past in finite stage steps, the overwhelmingly more likely event of a deluded Boltzmann brain or even a comm coll term assignment to run a world simulation (and play at being god) etc as issues. And of course, don’t ponder the significance of fine tuning of our cosmos fitting it for C-chem aqueous medium life or how we get beyond dynamic-stochastic computation on substrates to genuine rational freedom and moral government of our intellectual life through inescapable duties to truth, to right reason, to prudence, to sound conscience, to neighbourliness, to justice, etc.

In short, in this “tell it to grandma” form, we are right back at the challenge: which candidate to be the necessary being world-root is the best explanation. Philosophy done while wearing a lab coat is still philosophy, and a relativity- and quantum- influenced space-time domain prone to instabilities and formation of inflation-prone bubbles — despite erroneous, misleading labels — is not a genuine no-thing.

So, absent an infinite reservoir of energy, absent a credible means to traverse a transfinite causally successive past in finite-duration stages (“years” for convenience), absent a good explanation for a fine-tuned world at so deeply isolated an operating point as the observed cosmos is, and absent a good explanation for mind under moral government, we should not be overly disturbed by such philosophising while wearing a lab coat and filling chalkboards with quantum and relativity calculations.

This inadvertently underscores the significance of the issue and opens up where it points. (It also brings out how ID-linked questions are routinely handled in the subtext without the courtesy of a serious mention or allusion. Yes, design theory issues are also highly important, but are deemed beyond the pale of “respectable” discussion, save to denigrate and dismiss. Welcome to the brave new world of C21 media.)

Earlier in the discussion, an occasional objector had suggested:

28 Pater Kimbridge July 24, 2019 at 9:59 am

“Why is there something rather than nothing?”
That’s the dumbest question humans have asked.
It presupposes that “nothing” is the default state, and that “something” requires explanation.

“Nothing” is actually the harder state to achieve. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and try to achieve it.

To this, I responded [KF, 30:] >>actually, the point is that given a going concern world with rational, responsible, morally governed creatures in it, there is a very plausible assumption, the weak form PSR:

[PSR, weak (investigatory) form:] Of any particular thing A that is

[. . . or (ii) is possible, or even (iii) is impossible],

we may ask, why it is

[. . . or (ii’) why it is possible, or (iii’) why it is impossible],

and we may expect — or at least hope — to find a reasonable answer.

That’s one jaw of our pincers.

The second, being the logic of being that fits well with it (cf. OP [–> all of that stuff about possible worlds then impossible vs possible beings, with some of the latter contingent and some necessary] ).

We can then get a solid grip on things.

Here, the subject of inquiry is one that Heidegger saw as big and insightful — and note this is the title and lead of the OP:

To philosophize is to ask “Why are there essents rather than nothing?” Really to ask this question signifies: a daring attempt to fathom this unfathomable question by disclosing what it summons us to ask, to push our questioning to the very end. Where such an attempt occurs there is philosophy. [ M. Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics, Yale University Press, New Haven and London (1959), pp. 7-8.]

Whose report do you think we should believe, yours or one of the greats, Heidegger?

On exploring, first we see that nothing is no-thing, non-being. Were there ever utter nothing, we would have no reality whatsoever, so we can now contemplate an alternative to what we experience. That is already a very powerful result of pure reflection on being.

But then also we see, non-being can have no causal capabilities.

So, if there were ever utter non-being, such would always be the case. That is, that a world is, implies that something has always been there, which we can term a root of reality.

Another very powerful result.

Further to this, that root taken as a whole is credibly an independent or necessary being. NB’s, being present as part of the framework for any possible or actual world, and being independent of external enabling causal factors, A simple case is the number 2.

Another very powerful result, we see that there is a root for any possible or actual world with causal capacity to account for it.

Going on, our world has in it morally governed, rational (not merely computational) creatures, us. That further constrains the root of reality. We are credibly requiring an inherently good and utterly wise NB as root of reality, to account for moral government as that is where the IS-OUGHT gap can be bridged (hence, BTW, the sort of resistance above). Such starts with government of our rationality through duties to truth, right reason, prudence, justice etc. Indeed, these govern our exchanges in this thread.

So, another powerful result, one that shifts the balance decisively against those who would suggest that moral government is delusional, and/or that it does not trace to a being that fills the required bill.

Not bad for a stupid or dumb question.>>

Looks like the philosophical dumb oxen are still filling the world with their bellowing. END

13 Replies to “BBC swings and misses: “Why is there something instead of nothing?”, pt. 2 ( –> Being, Logic and First Principles, 24b)

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    BBC swings and misses: “Why is there something instead of nothing?”, pt. 2 ( –> Being, Logic and First Principles, 24b)

  2. 2
    doubter says:

    In short, in this “tell it to grandma” form, we are right back at the challenge: which candidate to be the necessary being world-root is the best explanation. Philosophy done while wearing a lab coat is still philosophy, and a relativity- and quantum- influenced space-time domain prone to instabilities and formation of inflation-prone bubbles — despite erroneous, misleading labels — is not a genuine no-thing.

    I am inclined to accept this reasoning. However, not being a philosopher, I am troubled by the following train of thought:

    It is not apparent to me why there isn’t at least one other valid explanation besides the one that there is a necessary (creator) Being outside time and space. This one other alternate apparently valid explanation would be that the relativity- and quantum- influenced space-time domain with all the complexity of physics laws that embody the potential of inflation and formation of quantum “bubbles” (our present physical reality) simply has always existed – no origin story involving a Creator being outside space-time needed.

    It seems to me that this alternate explanation is simpler than the Creator being proposition, thereby meeting the Ockham’s Razor principle of parsimony. And it is seemingly no more apparently irrational for limited human minds to propose a creatorless always-existent physical reality, than it is to propose as you do an uncreated Creator being outside physical reality. Incomprehensible infinities are involved with both explanations that cannot be fully encompassed and understood by human minds.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Doubter,

    Good to hear from you.

    Recall, we start from the issue, why at least one actual world (and many possible ones) instead of utter non-being. The key consideration being, possible types of entities in possible or actual worlds. A PW being a sufficiently complete description of a compossible state of affairs, actuality being substantial not just a concept. Where, there is at least one actual world, ours.

    Were there ever utter no-thing (non-being through and through, no reality) then as non-being has no causal powers, such would forever obtain. If there ever were no reality there would not be a means for a reality, so as a world is, SOMETHING always was. The issue, is of what nature (and, outside time and space or the like are onward considerations, they are not assumed or inserted at this point).

    What could such be?

    Not, contingent as such depend on external on/off enabling factors — think about what a fire needs to begin or thrive. This also means, not composite, made up from distinct independent parts brought together. And yes, we are dealing with very special things here.

    Contingent beings, given the enabling factors, will be in some PW’s but not in neighbouring ones where one or more key enabling factors are “off.” Think, again, how we fight fires. Things impossible of being have core attributes as proposed that stand in mutual contradiction, so there is no PW where they can be, e.g. a square circle.

    Necessary beings are different: possible, but present in every PW; best understood as being framework to a world.

    For example for a distinct world W to be it must have some aspect A that distinguishes it from a near neighbour W’. We may identify a structure: W = {A|~A}. The partition is empty, nullity. There is a simple unit A and a complex one ~A, duality. We have 0, 1, 2 [and via von Neumann’s construction and other steps] the sets N, Z, Q, R, C, plus hyperreals and surreals in every possible world, locked into their frameworks. 2 for example is a necessary entity, it is not spacio-temporal (though it is manifested in space-time entities and operations), it has no beginnings, it is not caused, it cannot end, it is in fact eternal. And, there are — just taking numbers — a literal infinity of such entities. Yes, ~A is complex indeed, even though it is recognisably a unit: ~A = W – A. And there are other serious candidate NBs, many of them.

    This will normally take time to recognise and accept, it is strange, it cuts across how we have [not] been educated, etc.

    Take time to ponder, don’t rush.

    Now, back to that ever present independent something causally adequate to ground all actual (and possible) worlds. What I have described as a world-root. Necessary to any actual world, independent of onward enabling causal entities, always was there. Yes, that idea too is strange but forced by the logic of non-being.

    The debate is over candidates. (And BTW, a serious candidate NB will either be impossible of being or present as framework to at least one PW, and if that then in all PW’s including actual ones.)

    You suggested:

    one other alternate apparently valid explanation would be that the relativity- and quantum- influenced space-time domain with all the complexity of physics laws that embody the potential of inflation and formation of quantum “bubbles” (our present physical reality) simply has always existed – no origin story involving a Creator being outside space-time needed.

    It seems to me that this alternate explanation is simpler than the Creator being proposition, thereby meeting the Ockham’s Razor principle of parsimony.

    This is commonly suggested, but is deeply problematic. First, a quasi-physical world would be full of virtual particles etc and needs to have energy concentrations to drive processes. Absent infinite energy reservoirs in infinite time, concentrations would plausibly degrade into heat death.

    More to the point, a causal succession of finite stages faces a supertask in bridging to any finitely remote past point, say, k. (For convenience think of years.) Beyond k, k-1, k-2, k-3 . . . without limit. That is any finitely remote k [the bang or some point beyond] begs the question of prior transfinite traverse in cumulative finite stage steps. You don’t get to k, much less the k+n that is now. Occam implies that things should (for plausibility) be as simple as possible, but not simpler than that, paraphrasing Einstein. The implied infinite quasi-physical past fails this test by posing an implicit supertask. Ironically, going forward we can have a potential but never actually completed infinite, it just keeps going, conceptually even through heat death. Though at that point, instrumental clocks would no longer work, for want of energy sources.

    Moreover, fine tuning leads to the why isn’t this a boltzmann brain delusion paradox, because of the much simpler fluctuation to do that. Pass that, and most (overwhelmingly most) apparent cosmi will be computer simulations, another delusion world.

    So, no the broader steady state, quantum foam world picture is implausible.

    Going further, we are entities in a manifestly actual world (though some in our neighbourhood argue for a simulation world!). We are credibly rational (not merely computational) morally governed creatures, starting with inescapably known duties that you appealed to just to make an argument. Duties, to truth, to right reason, to prudence [so, warrant], to sound conscience, to justice etc. That is, we operate on both sides of the IS-OUGHT gap, which must be bridged in the only place it can be, the root of reality. On pain of ungrounded ought. We need a world root that is inherently good and utterly wise, capable of building a fine tuned cosmos fitted for C-chem, aqueous medium, cell based life including rational, morally governed life.

    A pretty tough bill to fill.

    KF

  4. 4
    jstanley01 says:

    Logically, the most parsimonious explanation for a universe that appears to be teleologically designed is that it is teleologically designed. Against which, the multiverse looks like yet another just-so story, cooked up as a dodge to avoid the obvious.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    JS01, you anticipate some of where we need to go next. Science, properly, is empirically circumscribed and so epistemologically restrained and anchored on tested reliability. But in a day when Science is overwhelmingly prestigious, there is a tendency Newton warned against: to play at speculative philosopher while dressed up in a lab coat. Here, taking advantage of the prestige of the lab coat to lock out free-flow comparative difficulties across live option worldviews. Thus, we see the imposition of a priori evolutionary materialistic scientism on grounds of claimed empirical reliability (i.e. God has been squeezed out of too many former gaps) multiplied by an assumption that such best meets Occam’s Razor (a principle of preference and plausibility not of warrant!). Of course, what is neglected is that such scientism is self-referentially incoherent (as it is a worldview dressed in a lab coat not actual operational science leading to a resulting law, also as evolutionary materialism ruins the credibility of rational mind). We do need simplicity but must respect the complexities of actual reality and the credibility of alternative worldview options to be assessed on comparative difficulties. Where, the overwhelming evidence of complex, functionally coherent, fine tuned organisation with associated information strongly and per trillions of cases reliably points to design. But, there is too often an ideological lockout dressed up in a lab coat. KF

    PS: Notice, the issues with the beginningless quasi-physical cosmos as a whole models that are on the table.

  6. 6
    ScuzzaMan says:

    This inflation thing’s a bit of a lark, innit?

    I do love the way that it’s just thrown in there as if it’s quite mundane and obvious, whereas from what we know about reality it’s actually completely impossible, and I particularly appreciated the final fillip of utterly spurious gilding on this cosmic lily:

    When the expansion finally slowed, the force field that had powered it was transformed into the matter and energy that fill the universe today.

    Do the people who write these fantasies ever read their own work?

  7. 7
    doubter says:

    Kairosfocus@3

    This is commonly suggested, but is deeply problematic. First, a quasi-physical world would be full of virtual particles etc and needs to have energy concentrations to drive processes. Absent infinite energy reservoirs in infinite time, concentrations would plausibly degrade into heat death.
    ………………………..and
    Occam implies that things should (for plausibility) be as simple as possible, but not simpler than that, paraphrasing Einstein. The implied infinite quasi-physical past fails this test by posing an implicit supertask.

    The “infinite quasi-physical past” could be a modified version of Hoyle’s steady-state universe. The steady-state condition would be over a vastly greater scale of space-time than that of our unverse. Our observational evidence for a hot Big Bang and finite age to the universe is correct, but still, on a vastly greater scale of time and space our physical reality would really be a pulsating or cyclic system, undergoing a infinite number of cycles.

    In this quasi steady-state cosmology, at the very largest scale of time-space the average density of matter would remain unchanged due to a periodic creation of matter each cycle. This scheme would adhere to the perfect cosmological principle, where at the very largest scale physical reality is basically the same at any time as well as at any place.

    There would be no heat-death because the system would be cyclic with an indefinite number of Big Bangs. Or alternately, heat-death would only be a local phenomenon encountered in each cycle of the system, compensated for by creation of matter each cycle.

    As I mentioned, this would seem to be a simpler system. Although it could be argued that the mechanism behind the periodic quasi steady-state creation of matter might have great complexity, as would the super-system of meta laws that governed the overall system. Of course, as you pointed out, Occam’s Razor only points to the most probable theory not unerringly to the only correct one.

    Moreover, fine tuning leads to the why isn’t this a boltzmann brain delusion paradox, because of the much simpler fluctuation to do that. Pass that, and most (overwhelmingly most) apparent cosmi will be computer simulations, another delusion world.

    We would not know, and would probably have no way of detecting, that one of these conjectures was the truth of our existence. I don’t think apparent absurdity is really a good argument against such hypotheses.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Doubter,

    Hoyle’s steady state model (involving continuous injection of H atoms [from where?]) was inconsistent with empirical evidence, most notably the cosmic background microwave radiation. That’s why it was abandoned.

    Second, as was already noted, empirical evidence of a vastly larger multiverse is precisely nil. This is an essentially ad hoc assumption inserted in part to evade implication of an evident beginning. Its obvious character is philosophy while wearing a lab coat. So, it cannot properly use the lab coat to lock out other worldview possibilities.

    Further to this, issues of heat death once ~ 10^25 s pass, as well as the challenge to complete the supertask of spanning a transfinite range to now in finite stage steps are on the table. Where, energy concentrations naturally disperse over time [part of the definition of heat and the core of thermodynamics], and where a successive finite stage process can point to the potential infinite but on logic as was outlined, cannot complete a transfinite traverse; so, in effect begging the question of a completed traverse of the implicitly transfinite (past without beginning) is a big red flag.

    On these alone, we can confidently hold the temporal-causal successive, cumulative past as credibly finite. Lord Russell et al are whistling while walking past big, unanswered questions. The duppies sitting on the fence are chuckling and are about to say: BOO!

    Also, fluctuations have a population distribution and something like a boltzmann brain popping into existence is vastly more likely than the sort of fine tuned cosmos we see. Indeed, on existence of powerful computers, in a multiverse world model, the further overwhelming likelihood is that we would be part of a simulation exercise. Any model that points to the likelihood of being part of a delusion world is immediately questionable as undermining credibility of mind and senses. We wouldn’t know is not good enough here.

    In short, there are serious, unanswered difficulties in what you have proposed as “simpler” thus relatively “plausible.”

    And that’s before we get to the import of fine tuning fitted to C chem, aqueous medium, cell based life in a deeply isolated operating point for the cosmology of a world. Or, the implications of our being rational [not merely computational] morally governed creatures.

    KF

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    SM, inflation is problematic, as a superluminal expansion of the spacetime fabric. It is also exceedingly fine tuned. That said, it is the best thing on the table that gets us to a cosmos with galaxies etc i/l/o cosmological expansion . . . which is understood to be accelerating. KF

  10. 10
    ScuzzaMan says:

    KF,
    Adding one impossible event/process because it is required to paper over an otherwise impossible theory does not strike me as an improvement.
    Nor am I convinced that the universe is expanding, nor that Hubble’s constant is a constant, nor that the perceived red shift tells us anything about rate of recession. But my own secular heresies aside, inflation is special pleading that its adherents would not tolerate in any other context. It is “required” to buttress current orthodoxy, not to explain anything.

    Regarding your comment to Doubter, I’ve read that that the steady state theorists predicted background radiation of 3 to 5 K while the big bangers predicted 30 to 50. The big bangers had better marketing, not a better theory – still the case today.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    SM,

    UD is really wide open as a forum, and issues can come up almost unpredictably from any direction. That is a healthy sign, though it can lead to messy, sprawling exchanges of ideas that can swing in many directions. Sometimes, all at once.

    Now, your concerns pivot on cosmological inflation, so, let’s use Wiki as a yardstick 101 for relevant background:

    In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation, or just inflation, is a theory of [–> left off, superluminal] exponential expansion of space in the early universe. The inflationary epoch lasted from 10^ – 36 seconds after the conjectured Big Bang singularity to some time between 10^ – 33 and 10^ -32 seconds after the singularity. Following the inflationary period, the universe continues to expand, but at a less rapid rate.[1] [–> and, expansion is seen as currently accelerating]

    Inflation theory was developed in the late 70’s and early 80’s, with notable contributions by several theoretical physicists, including Alexei Starobinsky at Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, Alan Guth at Cornell University, and Andrei Linde at Lebedev Physical Institute. Alexei Starobinsky, Alan Guth, and Andrei Linde won the 2014 Kavli Prize “for pioneering the theory of cosmic inflation.”.[2] It was developed further in the early 1980s. It explains the origin of the large-scale structure of the cosmos. Quantum fluctuations in the microscopic inflationary region, magnified to cosmic size, become the seeds for the growth of structure in the Universe (see galaxy formation and evolution and structure formation).[3] Many physicists also believe that inflation explains why the universe appears to be the same in all directions (isotropic), why the cosmic microwave background radiation is distributed evenly, why the universe is flat, and why no magnetic monopoles have been observed.

    The detailed particle physics mechanism responsible for inflation is unknown. The basic inflationary paradigm is accepted by most physicists, as a number of inflation model predictions have been confirmed by observation;[4] however, a substantial minority of scientists dissent from this position.[5][6][7] The hypothetical field thought to be responsible for inflation is called the inflaton.[8]

    Wiki goes on to give some more details:

    Around 1930, Edwin Hubble discovered that light from remote galaxies was redshifted; the more remote, the more shifted. This was quickly interpreted as meaning galaxies were receding from earth. If earth is not in some special, privileged, central position in the universe, then it would mean all galaxies are moving apart, and the further away, the faster they are moving away. It is now understood that the universe is expanding, carrying the galaxies with it, and causing this observation. Many other observations agree, and also lead to the same conclusion. However, for many years it was not clear why or how the universe might be expanding, or what it might signify.

    Based on a huge amount of experimental observation and theoretical work, it is now believed that the reason for the observation is that space itself is expanding, and that it expanded very rapidly within the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang. This kind of expansion is known as a “metric” expansion. In the terminology of mathematics and physics, a “metric” is a measure of distance that satisfies a specific list of properties, and the term implies that the sense of distance within the universe is itself changing, although at this time it is far too small an effect to see on less than an intergalactic scale.

    The modern explanation for the metric expansion of space was proposed by physicist Alan Guth in 1979, while investigating the problem of why no magnetic monopoles are seen today. He found that if the universe contained a field in a positive-energy false vacuum state, then according to general relativity it would generate an exponential expansion of space. It was very quickly realized that such an expansion would resolve many other long-standing problems. These problems arise from the observation that to look like it does today, the Universe would have to have started from very finely tuned, or “special” initial conditions at the Big Bang [–> of course, Wiki is not going to note that the inflation itself is fine tuned] . Inflation theory largely resolves these problems as well, thus making a universe like ours much more likely in the context of Big Bang theory.

    Physics dot org further explains:

    http://www.physics.org/article.....asp?id=137

    The inflation model was proposed by Alan Guth in 1980 as one way to explain two problems in cosmology – the horizon problem and the flatness problem.

    The horizon problem is that areas of the universe separated by vast distances have identical physical properties such as temperature, but, since the exchange of information is limited by the speed of light, this should be impossible, as regions on opposites sides of the universe have not been in causal contact with one another during the universe’s lifetime.

    The flatness problem is a similar issue relating to the lack of an explanation as to why the universe appears to be nearly flat on a large scale – i.e. why the density of matter and energy appear to be precisely fine-tuned so that the universe neither rapidly collapsed back in on itself shortly after the big bang nor expands so quickly that galaxies are unable to form.

    In the inflationary model, the extremely rapid expansion of the very early universe flattens out any large-scale inhomogeneities in temperature and density, quickly creating a large cosmos out of a much smaller one that was previously causally connected.

    Guth’s model also explains the origins of the large-scale structure of the universe – before inflation there are quantum fluctuations in the very early universe, which then get magnified to macroscopic size and become the sites where galaxies, and clusters of galaxies, form.

    Turning to Luke Barnes:

    https://arxiv.org/pdf/1112.4647.pdf

    We turn now to cosmic inflation, which proposes that the universe underwent a period of
    accelerated expansion in its earliest stages. The achievements of inflation are truly impressive
    — in one fell swoop, the universe is sent on its expanding way, the flatness, horizon, and
    monopole problem are solved and we have concrete, testable and seemingly correct predictions
    for the origin of cosmic structure. It is a brilliant idea, and one that continues to defy all
    attempts at falsification. Since life requires an almost-flat universe (Barrow & Tipler, 1986,
    pg. 408ff.), inflation is potentially a solution to a particularly impressive fine-tuning problem
    — sans inflation, the density of the universe at the Planck time must be tuned to 60 decimal
    places in order for the universe to be life-permitting.
    Inflation solves this fine-tuning problem by invoking a dynamical mechanism that drives
    the universe towards flatness. The first question we must ask is: did inflation actually happen?
    The evidence is quite strong, though not indubitable (Turok, 2002; Brandenberger, 2011).
    There are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, inflation isn’t a specific model as such; it is
    a family of models which share the desirable trait of having an early epoch of accelerating
    expansion. Inflation is an effect, rather than a cause. There is no physical theory that predicts
    the form of the inflaton potential. Different potentials, and different initial conditions for the
    same potential, will produce different predictions.
    In spite of this, inflation does provide some robust predictions, that is, predictions shared
    by a wide variety of inflationary potentials. The problem is that these predictions are not
    unique to inflation. Inflation predicts a Gaussian random field of density fluctuations, but
    thanks to the central limit theorem this is nothing particularly unique (Peacock, 1999, pg.
    342, 503). Inflation predicts a nearly scale-invariant spectrum of fluctuations, but such a
    spectrum was proposed for independent reasons by Harrison (1970) and Zel’dovich (1972) a
    decade before inflation was proposed. Inflation is a clever solution of the flatness and horizon
    problem, but could be rendered unnecessary by a quantum-gravity theory of initial conditions.
    The evidence for inflation is impressive but circumstantial.

    He then brings up fine tuning — please read the linked for details, I am cutting to the chase scene (and at risk of inviting objections on style — I have no interest in style here):

    Tegmark (2005) asks what fraction of initial conditions for the inflaton [–> a suggested particle] field are success-
    ful, where success means that the universe inflates, inflation ends and the universes doesn’t
    thereafter meet a swift demise via a big crunch. The result is shown in Figure 4. The thick
    black line shows the “success rate” of inflation, for a model with
    m-h/m_Pl . . . and m_v ~ 0.001 x m_Pl (This value has been chosen to maximise the probability that
    Q = Q_observed ~ 2 * 10^ – 5). . . . The success rate peaks at ~ 0.1 percent, and drops rapidly as
    m_h increases or decreases away from m_Pl. [–> That is, fine tuning is present] Even with a scalar field, inflation is far from guaranteed.

    If inflation ends, we need its energy to be converted into ordinary matter (Condition I5).
    Inflation must not result in a universe filled with pure radiation or dark matter, which cannot
    form complex structures. Typically, the inflation will to dump its energy into radiation. The
    temperature must be high enough to take advantage of baryon-number-violating physics for
    baryogenesis, and for phot + phot –> particle + antiparticle reactions to create baryonic matter, but low enough not to create magnetic monopoles. [–> which I recall as a hot topic in my late 70’s 6th form days]
    With no physical model of the inflation, the
    necessary coupling between the inflation and ordinary matter/radiation is another postulate,
    but not an implausible one . . . .

    Perhaps the most pressing issue with inflation is hidden in requirement I2. Inflation is
    supposed to provide a dynamical explanation for the seemingly very fine-tuned initial condi-
    tions of the standard model of cosmology.
    But does inflation need special initial conditions?
    Can inflation act on generic initial conditions and produce the apparently fine-tuned uni-
    verse we observe today?
    Hollands & Wald (2002b) 22 contend not, for the following reason.

    Consider a collapsing universe. It would require an astonishing sequence of correlations and
    coincidences for the universe, in its final stages, to suddenly and coherently convert all its
    matter into a scalar field with just enough kinetic energy to roll to the top of its potential
    and remain perfectly balanced there for long enough to cause a substantial era of “deflation”.
    The region of final-condition-space that results from deflation is thus much smaller than the
    region that does not result from deflation
    . Since the relevant physics is time-reversible 23, we
    can simply run the tape backwards and conclude that the initial-condition-space is dominated
    by universes that fail to inflate
    .

    In short, inflation is itself credibly fine tuned.

    Now, is it logically impossible for space itself to expand, no; nor is it logically impossible for that expansion to be very fast even superluminal. Neither, is it physically impossible. Clipping another online 101:

    https://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/topics_bigbang_inflation.html

    Although the universe has been expanding since the initial Big Bang, inflation refers to the hypothesis that, for a very short time, the universe expanded at a sharply INCREASING rate, rather than at the decreasing rate it followed before inflation and has followed since. By some calculations, inflation increased the size of the universe by a factor of around 10^26 during that tiny fraction (far less than a trillionth) of a second, expanding it from smaller than the size of a proton to about the size of a grapefruit.

    Technically, the expansion during this period of inflation (and even the somewhat slower expansion which succeeded it) proceeded faster than the speed of light. To explain how this is possible (the speed of light being supposedly the maximum speed it is possible to travel), an analogy may help. If two airplanes are flying directly away from each other at their maximum speed of, say, 500 kilometers per hour, they are actually flying apart at 1,000 kilometers per hour even though neither individual plane is exceeding 500km per hour. Thus, “expansion”, in terms of the expanding universe, is not the same thing as “travel”.

    It is still not clear to scientists, however, exactly what caused the inflationary phase, the best guess being some kind of a negative “vacuum energy density” (or positive “vacuum pressure”) triggered by the separation of the strong nuclear force from the other elementary forces at this time. It is hypothesized that this separation caused a kind of symmetry breaking or phase transition (analagous to the phase transition when water turns to ice), which left the universe in a highly unstable state with much more energy than it would otherwise have had, causing a sharp outward antigravitational effect, smoothing out most of the irregularities in the existing matter and creating vast quantities of particles in a very short time.

    This theory allows for some kind of very slight unevenness (so-called quantum fluctuations) on a sub-atomic scale at a very early stage in the growth of the universe which provided starting points for the large-scale structures we see in today’s universe. This suggests the rather bizarre possibility that the largest structures in the universe, the great clusters of galaxies, may actually have been spawned by sub-microscopic seeds.

    While of course, there are objectors to the Big Bang type model of cosmological origins, with all its problems — note, comparative difficulties across competing possible explanations within science — it is dominant for cause. That cause traces to strong evidence of expansion from an initiation some 14 bn y ago, from many lines of observations. Indeed it is strong enough that some years past Humphreys, a YEC astronomer, put forward a 15 BY, 15 k y model for cosmos and for the earth, positing a domain of stasis for our home world.

    That, I need not explore, the point here is to see why the BB cosmology and why inflation, with a side-light on its implicit fine tuning.

    So, no, if someone wishes to claim that inflation is impossible, then the impossibility needs to be fleshed out and warranted.

    Meanwhile, it does not affect the force of the core issue for this thread: why is there something, instead of no-thing? Nor, where that question points.

    KF

    PS: No, it is not a debate over marketing. Marketing is not going to carry the day in cosmology, there are too many observations and there is too much of a technical Mathematical apparatus. The debate extended from the 30s and 40’s to the 60s to 70s, and BB was not favoured because of the questions raised by a credible beginning to the observed cosmos. The summary was, the SS was beautiful but lacked empirical warrant. BB was ugly but had the observations, especially once cosmological background radiation was observed. Onward discussion is on fine variations in the basically uniform pattern of that background and its ~ 4 K blackbody temperature for the observed cosmos as a whole. (I link here: https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/cosmology/ideas/bigbang.htm )

    PPS: For further, broader 101 background on cosmology, astrophysics and timelines, try my IOSE discussion http://iose-gen.blogspot.com/2.....world.html

  12. 12
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Thanks, KF.
    Very comprehensive.
    I will note only one pivotal point:
    If earth is not in some special, privileged, central position in the universe, then …
    Why (on earth) would either of us accept that as a given?

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    SM, probably not the best application of the vastly over-extended Copernican Principle, so-called. Notwithstanding, Earth is not the physical centre of our solar system. The Sol system is about 2/3 way towards the rim of our barred spiral galaxy in a 200 MY orbit. There is no good reason to infer that our local galactic cluster holds a central position in the observed cosmos. Not, when we may readily see that different objects expanding from a centre at different rates will sort themselves by speed over time. That is farther away entities are moving much faster or slower than we are as part of a common expansion. As a result, we would see the sort of pattern observed. KF

    PS: Evidence that ours is a rarely privileged planet stands on other grounds.

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