Big Bang

Sabine Hossenfelder asks a curious question: Where did the Big Bang happen?

Spread the love

Wrong question, she says:

The universe started with a Big Bang and it’s expanded ever since. You probably know this. You probably also know that the universe doesn’t have a center. But where did the big bang happen, if not in the center of the universe? And if the universe expands, doesn’t that mean that matter on the average doesn’t move, contrary to what Einstein said, that absolute rest doesn’t exist? I get these questions a lot. And at the end of this video, you’ll know the answers…

There are two warnings I have to add when it comes to the “Big Bang”. First, I don’t know anybody who actually believes that this singularity is physically real. It probably just means that Einstein’s equations break down and must be replaced by something else. For this reason, physicists use the term “Big Bang” to refer to whatever it is that replaces the singularity to within a Planck time or so. A Planck time is about ten to the minus forty-four seconds.

Second, we don’t actually know that this extrapolation all the way back to the Big Bang is correct because we have no observations dating back to before roughly the creation of atomic nuclei. It could be that Einstein’s equations actually aren’t the right ones for the very early universe. So instead of a Big Bang it could also be that an earlier universe collapsed and then expanded again which is called a Big Bounce. Or there could have been an infinitely long time in which not much happened after which expansion suddenly began. That would also look much like a big bang. We just don’t know which one’s right. The “Big Bang” is just the simplest scenario you get when you naively extrapolate the equations back in time.

Sabine Hossenfelder, “Where did the Big Bang happen?” at BackRe(Action)

It would be interesting to know what other physicists think of her approach.

You may also wish to read: The Big Bang: Put simply,the facts are wrong.

4 Replies to “Sabine Hossenfelder asks a curious question: Where did the Big Bang happen?

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Even while trying to clarify the distinction between observation and extrapolation, she’s still conflating the two. We don’t have OBSERVATIONS of the origin of atomic nuclei. Our reliable OBSERVATIONS of stars and planets started around 10k years ago, and became quantitative about 3k years ago.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    The elephant in the living room problem with Sabine Hossenfelder claiming that “It probably just means that Einstein’s equations break down and must be replaced by something else”, and “It could be that Einstein’s equations actually aren’t the right ones for the very early universe” is that, number one, other than the creation of the universe and the center of black holes, which are by their very nature unobservable, Hossenfelder does not have any observational evidence that General Relativity is an incorrect mathematical description of the observable universe. As the following article bluntly states, “New observations of extreme astrophysical systems have “brutally and pitilessly murdered” attempts to replace Einstein’s general theory of relativity.”

    Troubled Times for Alternatives to Einstein’s Theory of Gravity – April 30, 2018
    New observations of extreme astrophysical systems have “brutally and pitilessly murdered” attempts to replace Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
    Excerpt: The neutron-star collision was just the beginning. New data in the months since that discovery have made life increasingly difficult for the proponents of many of the modified-gravity theories that remain. Astronomers have analyzed extreme astronomical systems that contain spinning neutron stars, or pulsars, to look for discrepancies between their motion and the predictions of general relativity — discrepancies that some theories of alternative gravity anticipate. These pulsar systems let astronomers probe gravity on a new scale and with new precision. And with each new observation, these alternative theories of gravity are having an increasingly hard time solving the problems they were invented for. Researchers “have to sweat some more trying to get new physics,” said Anne Archibald, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam.,,,
    All attempts to directly detect dark matter and dark energy have failed, however. That fact “kind of leaves a bad taste in some people’s mouths, almost like the fictional planet Vulcan,” said Leo Stein, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. “Maybe we’re going about it all wrong?”,,,
    “The business of alternative gravity theories is a messy one,” Archibald said. Some would-be replacements for general relativity, like string theory and loop quantum gravity, don’t offer testable predictions. Others “make predictions that are spectacularly wrong, so the theorists have to devise some kind of a screening mechanism to hide the wrong prediction on scales we can actually test,” she said.
    https://www.quantamagazine.org/troubled-times-for-alternatives-to-einsteins-theory-of-gravity-20180430/

    Trio of dead stars upholds Einstein’s gravity – January 16, 2018
    Excerpt: Observations of a trio of dead stars have confirmed that a foundation of Einstein’s gravitational theory holds even for ultradense objects with strong gravitational fields.
    The complex orbital dance of the three former stars conforms to a rule known as the strong equivalence principle, researchers reported January 10 at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. That agreement limits theories that predict Einstein’s theory, general relativity, should fail at some level.,,,
    Many physicists expect the strong equivalence principle to be violated on some level. General relativity doesn’t mesh well with quantum mechanics, the theory that reigns on very small scales. Adjustments to general relativity that attempt to combine these theories tend to result in a violation of the strong equivalence principle, says physicist Clifford Will,,,
    – per uncommon descent

    Quantum Foam Paper Suggests Einstein Was Right About Space-Time Being ‘Smooth’ – January 2013
    Excerpt: It appears Albert Einstein may have been right yet again.?A team of researchers came to this conclusion after tracing the long journey three photons took through intergalactic space. The photons were blasted out by an intense explosion known as a gamma-ray burst about 7 billion light-years from Earth. They finally barreled into the detectors of NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope in May 2009, arriving just a millisecond apart.?Their dead-heat finish strongly supports the Einsteinian view of space-time, researchers said. The wavelengths of gamma-ray burst photons are so small that they should be able to interact with the even tinier “bubbles” in the quantum theorists’ proposed space-time foam.
    If this foam indeed exists, the three photons should have been knocked around a bit during their epic voyage. In such a scenario, the chances of all three reaching the Fermi telescope at virtually the same time are very low, researchers said.?So the new study is a strike against the foam’s existence as currently imagined,,,
    “If foaminess exists at all, we think it must be at a scale far smaller than the Planck length,”?
    – per Huffington post

    Dark energy alternatives to Einstein are running out of room – January 9, 2013
    Excerpt: Last month, a group of European astronomers, using a massive radio telescope in Germany, made the most accurate measurement of the proton-to-electron mass ratio ever accomplished and found that there has been no change in the ratio to one part in 10 million at a time when the universe was about half its current age, around 7 billion years ago. When Thompson put this new measurement into his calculations, he found that it excluded almost all of the dark energy models using the commonly expected values or parameters.?If the parameter space or range of values is equated to a football field, then almost the whole field is out of bounds except for a single 2-inch by 2-inch patch at one corner of the field. In fact, most of the allowed values are not even on the field. “In effect, the dark energy theories have been playing on the wrong field,” Thompson said. “The 2-inch square does contain the area that corresponds to no change in the fundamental constants and that is exactly where Einstein stands.”
    – per physorg

    The second rather glaring elephant in the living room problem with Hossenfelder’s claim that Einstein’s equation should be replaced with another mathematical theory is that whatever hypothetical mathematical equation might replace General Relativity will itself also be necessarily incomplete. Namely, Kurt Godel proved that there can be no single mathematical theory of the universe that proves “that the world can only be what it is and nothing else”,

    “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go. In absence of such consistency, all mathematical models, all theories of elementary particles, including the theory of quarks and gluons…fall inherently short of being that theory which shows in virtue of its a priori truth that the world can only be what it is and nothing else. This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”
    – Stanley Jaki – Cosmos and Creator – 1980, pg. 49

    As Stephen Hawking himself honestly confessed, “Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing (mathematical) theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.

    “Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.
    – Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

    Moreover, Godel’s incompleteness theorem is not just some abstract exercise in the philosophy of mathematics, but Godel’s incompleteness theorem has now been brought into physics itself to ‘more concretely’ show that there never will be a purely mathematical theory of everything.

    Specifically, it is now proven that “even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,,” and that “the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”,

    Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics – December 9, 2015
    Excerpt: A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable,,,
    It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven. The findings are important because they show that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,,
    A small spectral gap – the energy needed to transfer an electron from a low-energy state to an excited state – is the central property of semiconductors. In a similar way, the spectral gap plays an important role for many other materials.,,,
    Using sophisticated mathematics, the authors proved that, even with a complete microscopic description of a quantum material, determining whether it has a spectral gap is, in fact, an undecidable question.,,,
    “We knew about the possibility of problems that are undecidable in principle since the works of Turing and Gödel in the 1930s,” added Co-author Professor Michael Wolf from Technical University of Munich. “So far, however, this only concerned the very abstract corners of theoretical computer science and mathematical logic. No one had seriously contemplated this as a possibility right in the heart of theoretical physics before. But our results change this picture. From a more philosophical perspective, they also challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-q.....godel.html

    In short, it is now proven that, mathematically speaking, the microscopic descriptions of quantum mechanics will never be successfully extended to the account for the macroscopic descriptions of General Relativity. Which is exactly what all these hypothetical mathematical ‘replacements’ to General Relativity are trying to do.

    Thus, in so far as Hossenfelder is operating under the assumption that physicists will someday find a mathematical ‘replacement’ to General Relativity, Hossenfelder is, via Godel’s extension to physics, found to be living in a mathematical fantasy land.

    As David P. Goldman put the situation that Godel has placed secular physicists in, “we cannot construct an (mathematical) ontology that makes God dispensable.”

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – David P. Goldman – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    It seems that secular theoretical physicists, such as Hossenfelder, who are trying to exclude God from any possible consideration in physics, and in direct contradiction to Godel, are stubbornly holding on to the erroneous belief that the universe will ‘someday’ be completely explainable by mathematics, with no need for God to ever explain the universe or explain the mathematical equations that describe the universe.

    Yet, (as Godel proved decades ago), they simply have no justification for their belief that mathematics, all by its lonesome, can function as a ‘God substitute’.

    These secularists, who seem intent on keeping God out of physics no matter what, never seem to ask themselves, “why should the universe even be describable by mathematics in the first place?”

    Yet the fact that mathematics is even applicable to the universe in the first place should be considered, in and of itself, a ‘miracle’ in its own right.

    Both Eugene Wigner, (a giant in quantum mechanics), and Albert Einstein, (who needs no introduction), are on record as to regarding it as a miracle that mathematics should even be applicable to the universe.

    Wigner, after rightly questioning the ability of Darwinian evolution to explain our ‘reasoning power’, stated that, “It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here.,,, The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve.”

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: ,,certainly it is hard to believe that our reasoning power was brought, by Darwin’s process of natural selection, to the perfection which it seems to possess.,,,
    It is difficult to avoid the impression that a miracle confronts us here, quite comparable in its striking nature to the miracle that the human mind can string a thousand arguments together without getting itself into contradictions, or to the two miracles of the existence of laws of nature and of the human mind’s capacity to divine them.,,,
    The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. We should be grateful for it and hope that it will remain valid in future research and that it will extend, for better or for worse, to our pleasure, even though perhaps also to our bafflement, to wide branches of learning.
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Likewise, Einstein stated that “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way” And Einstein even went so far as to chastise ‘professional atheists’ in the process of calling the comprehensibility of the universe a ‘miracle’.

    On the Rational Order of the World: a Letter to Maurice Solovine – Albert Einstein – March 30, 1952
    Excerpt: “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way .. the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if a man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the ‘miracle’ which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.
    There lies the weakness of positivists and professional atheists who are elated because they feel that they have not only successfully rid the world of gods but “bared the miracles.”
    -Albert Einstein
    http://inters.org/Einstein-Letter-Solovine

    Moreover, it is not as if the belief that the Mind of God must be behind any mathematics that describe the universe is a stranger to physics.

    In fact, modern physics was born precisely out of the Christian belief that any mathematics that might describe this universe are God’s thoughts.

    As Kepler himself succinctly stated in the year 1619 shortly after he discovered the laws of planetary motion,

    “O, Almighty God, I am thinking Thy thoughts after Thee!…”
    – Johannes Kepler – 1619

    Many more quotes along the same line from the Christian founders of modern science can be found, but the main point being is that modern science was born out of the Christian belief that any mathematics that might describe this universe are ‘God’s thoughts’ and modern science was certainly not born out of the secularist’s belief that “the mathematical realm is a rival to God rather than a path to him.”

    KEEP IT SIMPLE by Edward Feser – April 2020
    Excerpt: Mathematics appears to describe a realm of entities with quasi-­divine attributes. The series of natural numbers is infinite. That one and one equal two and two and two equal four could not have been otherwise. Such mathematical truths never begin being true or cease being true; they hold eternally and immutably. The lines, planes, and figures studied by the geometer have a kind of perfection that the objects of our ­experience lack. Mathematical objects seem immaterial and known by pure reason rather than through the senses. Given the centrality of mathematics to scientific explanation, it seems in some way to be a cause of the natural world and its order.
    How can the mathematical realm be so apparently godlike? The traditional answer, originating in Neoplatonic philosophy and Augustinian theology, is that our knowledge of the mathematical realm is precisely knowledge, albeit inchoate, of the divine mind. Mathematical truths exhibit infinity, necessity, eternity, immutability, perfection, and immateriality because they are God’s thoughts, and they have such explanatory power in scientific theorizing because they are part of the blueprint implemented by God in creating the world. For some thinkers in this tradition, mathematics thus provides the starting point for an argument for the existence of God qua supreme intellect.
    There is also a very different answer, in which the mathematical realm is a rival to God rather than a path to him. According to this view, mathematical objects such as numbers and geometrical figures exist not only independently of the ­material world, but also independently of any mind, including the divine mind. They occupy a “third realm” of their own, the realm famously described in Plato’s Theory of Forms. God used this third realm as a blueprint when creating the physical world, but he did not create the realm itself and it exists outside of him. This position is usually called Platonism since it is commonly thought to have been ­Plato’s own view, as distinct from that of his Neoplatonic followers who relocated mathematical objects and other Forms into the divine mind. (I put to one side for present purposes the question of how historically accurate this standard narrative is.)
    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2020/04/keep-it-simple

    In short, it is the secularist’s belief itself that “the mathematical realm is a rival to God rather than a path to him” that is the stranger to modern physics and which is the belief that is found to have had no place in the founding of modern science.

    Moreover, rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders of modern science),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”

    Jesus Christ as the correct “Theory of Everything” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vpn2Vu8–eE

    To give us a small glimpse of the power that was involved in Christ’s resurrection from the dead, the following article found that, ”it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.”

    Astonishing discovery at Christ’s tomb supports Turin Shroud – NOV 26TH 2016
    Excerpt: The first attempts made to reproduce the face on the Shroud by radiation, used a CO2 laser which produced an image on a linen fabric that is similar at a macroscopic level. However, microscopic analysis showed a coloring that is too deep and many charred linen threads, features that are incompatible with the Shroud image. Instead, the results of ENEA “show that a short and intense burst of VUV directional radiation can color a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin, including shades of color, the surface color of the fibrils of the outer linen fabric, and the absence of fluorescence”.
    ‘However, Enea scientists warn, “it should be noted that the total power of VUV radiations required to instantly color the surface of linen that corresponds to a human of average height, body surface area equal to = 2000 MW/cm2 17000 cm2 = 34 thousand billion watts makes it impractical today to reproduce the entire Shroud image using a single laser excimer, since this power cannot be produced by any VUV light source built to date (the most powerful available on the market come to several billion watts )”.
    Comment
    The ENEA study of the Holy Shroud of Turin concluded that it would take 34 Thousand Billion Watts of VUV radiations to make the image on the shroud. This output of electromagnetic energy remains beyond human technology.
    http://westvirginianews.blogsp.....in-is.html

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  3. 3

    Don’t be confused by Sabine’s argument. She has observational evidence of the BigBang. The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) observed all over the sky was evidence that the universe was dense and hot, > 1 million Centigrade about 380,000 years after the BB. We can’t see beyond that, because the universe was full of plasma and opaque to light, but 380,000 years compared to 11.7 billion years afterward, is pretty darn near the beginning of time. Physicists model the times we can’t see, and extrapolate back to 0.0 years, but they can’t extrapolate all the way back to 0.0 seconds, because all their equations become invalid definitely by 1e-34 seconds (Planck time) and probably a lot before that. That’s why Sabine says we don’t even know if General Relativity works in this time period. As James Clerk Maxwell said 150 years ago, we have to draw a veil over that origin because there are things that God didn’t reveal to us. Of course, Maxwell said that about the creation of atoms, but we now model them as made in the first 150 seconds of the BB, in what is known as the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis Era (BBN).
    Our models of the BBN are fairly good, we have 3 adjustable dials (dark matter, baryonic density, neutron/proton ratio) and we get the first 3 elements spot on. But we miss the fourth and higher (3He and 7Li). That tells us that we are simply fitting polynomials, we really don’t have a theory. (What is the difference? If I fit polynomials to the stock price of Microsoft, I can explain the past with great confidence, but it makes lousy predictions of the future. Because fitting polynomials isn’t a theory. Which, by the way, is the problem with global warming models.)
    Sabine doesn’t discuss this breakdown of the BB model at 150 seconds, but seems to be worried about the failure at 1e-22 or so seconds. Remember, we are extrapolating backwards from 380,000 years, and it doesn’t work too well at 150 seconds, why should further extrapolation be better?
    She then gets into the question of “where” the BB occurred, which is a metaphysical question about space. Is space eternal or created? She says created. Well then where is the guy who created it? The obvious answer is that God is not bound to space-time. It doesn’t help too much if we say “Heaven” because Genesis tells us God created Heaven. Maybe we need two kinds of heaven, the created kind, and the uncreated kind where God lives, and from which he created the universe. That also seems to fit with the Hebrew of Genesis pretty well, which goes to show that it is our English translations that make it hard to do cosmology from Genesis.
    But of course, Sabine can’t answer her own question. Because she doesn’t believe in heaven.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Hmmm, a video of Brian Miller discussing the Big Bang was just loaded onto Youtube:

    Physicist Brian Miller on Everything You Wanted to Know about the Big Bang But Were Afraid to Ask
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SeLcRles448

Leave a Reply