Intelligent Design

Can the laws of physics change? Sure, every six months

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From PBS:

Are the Laws of Physics Really Universal?

As far as physicists can tell, the cosmos has been playing by the same rulebook since the time of the Big Bang. But could the laws have been different in the past, and could they change in the future? Might different laws prevail in some distant corner of the cosmos?

“It’s not a completely crazy possibility,” says Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech …

No, it is not. But how do we define a “completely crazy possibility”? As between “O’Leary’s late uncle Brian created the universe” all the way across the spectrum to “The theoretical particle, the Higgs boson, exists, but not where we expected to find it, ” where do we find Carroll’s possibility?

Most of the current research into the changeability of physical laws has focused on the numerical constants. Why? It’s the easier question to answer. Physicists can make solid, testable predictions about how variations in numerical constants should affect the results of their experiments. Plus, says Carroll, it wouldn’t necessarily blow physics wide open if it turns out that constants do change over time. In fact, some constants have changed: The mass of an electron, for instance, was zero until the Higgs field turned on a tiny sliver of a second after the Big Bang. “We have lots of theories that can accommodate changing constants,” says Carroll. “All you have to do to account for time-dependent constants is to add some scalar field to the theory that moves very slowly.”

But when they tried to study it:

But interpreting that fossil isn’t easy, and over the years researchers studying Oklo have come to apparently conflicting conclusions. For decades, studies of Oklo seemed to show that the fine structure constant was absolutely steady. Then came a study suggesting that it had gotten bigger, and another that it had gotten smaller. In 2006, Lamoreaux (then at Los Alamos National Laboratory) and his colleagues published a fresh analysis that was, they wrote, “consistent with no shift.” But, they pointed out, it was still “model dependent”—that is, they had to make certain assumptions about how the fine structure constant could change.

Pop science needs the changeable universe for the same reasons as the garment industry needs changes in fashion, only to tell us that we can wear what we like anyway, it doesn’t really matter.

Despite some tantalizing hints, the latest studies all show that changes to the fine structure constant are “consistent with zero.” That doesn’t mean that the fine structure constant absolutely isn’t changing. But if it is, it’s doing so more subtly than these experiments can detect, and that seems unlikely, says Carroll. “It’s hard to squeeze a theory into the little daylight between not changing at all, and not changing enough that we can see it.” More.

Rob Sheldon notes,

Sean Carroll is a noted Darwinist and multiverse proponent who thinks that the laws of physics could change in time and still be laws. (Just exactly how is something that changes a law?) Not exactly a philosopher, but you know what Einstein and Feynman said about physicists past their prime. He used the word “evolve” to describe how physics might change–and then made the rather preposterous claim that this happens to electrons in the early stages of the universe. (And was he there?) But it just goes to show how pervasive, how pernicious this Darwinism has become, so that everything evolves except his confidence in Evolution. When Darwin wrote his theory, it was trumpeted as a way to make biology look like physics, and now Carroll wants physics to look like biology. Truly it is a universal acid.

Sheldon is referring to Darwinian philosopher Daniel Dennett’s boast that Darwinism is a universal acid that eats away at everything in the sciences and in society.

For those who believe that, it is true.

Another friend writes,

Not only Sean Carroll, but also Lee Smolin and Mangabeira claim in their recent book, The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, that Laws of Physics could have evolved through the passing of time. The problem is that before addressing a question like that, you must first state what you take a physical law to be. What is its ontological status: a force, a cause…?

For Smolin’s viewpoint, see cosmic Darwinism.

But anyway, don’t the big networks have software now for these pop cosmo stories? Like, every six months, they just fill in new cosmologists’ names, run the Quote GargleTM from that guy’s books, TED talks, and big ideas stuff, and film a bit…hey presto!

Pop science is long past asking questions to which there may be answers, like:

Multiverse cosmology: Assuming that evidence still matters, what does it say?

and Where is the road to reality?

Can’t think why.

See also: If ID theorists are right, how should we study nature?

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22 Replies to “Can the laws of physics change? Sure, every six months

  1. 1
    daveS says:

    From Dr Sheldon:

    He used the word “evolve” to describe how physics might change–and then made the rather preposterous claim that this happens to electrons in the early stages of the universe. (And was he there?) But it just goes to show how pervasive, how pernicious this Darwinism has become, so that everything evolves except his confidence in Evolution.

    There are lots of creationist proponents of variable speed of light theories, so I’m not convinced this has much to do with Darwinism.

    And as the above quotes show, even the staunch Darwinist Sean Carroll is skeptical about a varying fine-structure constant.

  2. 2
    bornagain says:

    Theists who posit varying constants so as to arrive at a YEC interpretation are doing so against the axiomatic position of the Bible which holds that the constants do not vary.

    Whereas naturalists who hold that the constants do not vary are doing so against the axiomatic position of naturalism which holds the entire universe arose from random chaos.

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-581026

    “Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died: it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it.”
    Lewis, C.S., Miracles: a preliminary study, Collins, London, p. 110, 1947.

  3. 3
    daveS says:

    I seem to remember this issue coming up before. I don’t know of any way to prove, assuming naturalism, that a nonconstant c is more likely than a constant c. I really doubt that such a proof exists, but rather this is based on vague assertions about “random chaos”.

  4. 4
    bornagain says:

    daveS, random chaos, contrary to how willfully blind you are to your own worldview’s axiomatic presumptions, is presumed to be true within Naturalism. Don’t believe me? How about believing Einstein about it then?

    “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.”
    Albert Einstein – Letters to Solovine – New York, Philosophical Library, 1987

    As to Newton’s presumptions:

    This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator, or Universal Ruler;,,, The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect;,,, from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present:
    Sir Isaac Newton – Quoted from what many consider the greatest science masterpiece of all time, his book “Principia”

  5. 5
    daveS says:

    Yet, from one of your own copy & pastes:

    “Through these different measurements, you see the wave function collapse in different ways, thus proving its existence and showing that Einstein was wrong.”

    Even Einstein was wrong about quite a few things. Although he was a great physicist, his bare assertions don’t carry much weight.

  6. 6
    bornagain says:

    daveS, you do realize that the primary reason that Einstein was wrong on quantum mechanics is precisely because of his naturalistic/materialistic presumptions don’t you?
    In fact, it was his naturalistic/materialistic presumptions which also made him make his self admitted ‘biggest blunder’ by adding a cosmological constant to general relativity in order to avoid the beginning of the universe that had been derived from his equation.

    Of personal note, It is disappointing to see you becoming more and more dishonest in your replies as time goes on trying to defend your atheistic position.

    When you first came to UD, I had hope that there would be an element of truthfulness in you. But alas, you are just another dogmatic atheist who will say any lie no matter how preposterous.

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    Einstein was wrong on quantum mechanics

    See? 😛

    Like I said in #2, assertions only. No one has explained why varying speed of c follows from naturalism.

    I’m not really into presuppositions. The question of whether “constants” of nature might vary can be settled only by looking at empirical evidence.

  8. 8
    daveS says:

    Further to #7,

    I doubt the existence of supernatural events that others have described. Levitations, demonic possession, miraculous healing, etc.

    Why that would require me to subscribe to a worldview in which “the speed of light varies” is an axiom is beyond me. How could I know such a thing?

    No. For me, it’s strictly an empirical question.

  9. 9
    bornagain says:

    daveS, here are few notes:

    I find it very interesting that the materialistic belief of the universe being stable, and infinite in duration, was so deeply rooted in scientific thought that Albert Einstein, (1879-1955), when he was shown that his general relativity equation indicated a universe that was unstable and would ‘draw together’ under its own gravity, added a cosmological constant to his equation to reflect a stable universe rather than entertain the thought that the universe might have had a beginning.

    Einstein ended up calling the cosmological constant, that he had added to his equation, the ‘biggest blunder’ of his life.

    Cosmological constant
    Excerpt: Einstein included the cosmological constant as a term in his field equations for general relativity because he was dissatisfied that otherwise his equations did not allow, apparently, for a static universe: gravity would cause a universe which was initially at dynamic equilibrium to contract. To counteract this possibility, Einstein added the cosmological constant.[1] However, soon after Einstein developed his static theory, observations by Edwin Hubble indicated that the universe appears to be expanding; this was consistent with a cosmological solution to the original general-relativity equations that had been found by the mathematician Friedmann, working on the Einstein equations of general-relatvity. Einstein later referred to his failure to accept the validaton of his equations; when they had predicted the expansion of the universe in theory, before it was demonstrated in observation of the cosmological red shift, as the “biggest blunder” of his life.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.....nt#History

    Einstein’s Greatest Blunder – The Cosmological Constant
    “Much later, when I was discussing cosmological problems with Einstein, he remarked that the introduction of the cosmological term was the biggest blunder of his life.”
    — George Gamow, My World Line, 1970
    http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/~jpl/cosmo/blunder.html

    Einstein and The Belgian Priest, George Lemaitre – The “Father” Of The Big Bang Theory – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhLQ_b3bKdI

    In January 1933, the Belgian mathematician and Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre traveled with Albert Einstein to California for a series of seminars. After the Belgian detailed his Big Bang theory, Einstein stood up applauded, and said, “This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened.”

    Also of note, this was not the last time Einstein’s base materialistic philosophy had severely misled him. He was also severely misled in the Bohr–Einstein debates in which he was repeatedly proven wrong in challenging the ‘spooky action at a distance’ postulations of the emerging field of quantum mechanics. This following video and article highlights the Bohr/Einstein debate and the decades long struggle to ‘scientifically’ resolve the disagreement between them in quantum mechanics:

    The Failure Of Local Realism or Reductive Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    Einstein wouldn’t like it: New test proves universe is “spooky” – Oct 21, 2015
    Excerpt: Eighty years after the physicist (Einstein) dismissed as “spooky” the idea that simply observing one particle could instantly change another far-away object, Dutch scientists said on Wednesday they had proved decisively that the effect was real.
    Writing in the journal Nature, researchers detailed an experiment showing how two electrons at separate locations 1.3 km (0.8 mile) apart on the Delft University of Technology campus demonstrated a clear, invisible and instantaneous connection.
    Importantly, the new study closed loopholes in earlier tests that had left some doubt as to whether the eerie connection predicted by quantum theory was real or not.
    Einstein famously insisted in a 1935 scientific paper that what he called “spooky action at a distance” had to be wrong and there must be undiscovered properties of particles to explain such counter-intuitive behavior.
    The idea certainly confounds our day-to-day experience of the world, where change only appears to occur through local interactions. But in recent decades scientific evidence has been building that particles can indeed become “entangled”, so that no matter how far apart they are, they will always be connected.
    The Delft experiment is conclusive because, for the first time, scientists have closed two potential loopholes at once.
    The first suggests that particles could somehow synchronize behavior ahead of time, while the second implies that testing might detect only a subset of prepared entangled pairs.
    To prove their case, the team led by Delft professor Ronald Hanson used two diamonds containing tiny traps for electrons with a magnetic property called spin and measured all entangled pairs across 1.3 km separating two laboratories.
    The experiment effectively closes a chapter in an 80-year scientific debate,
    http://www.reuters.com/article.....GQ20151021

    Yet despite being misled by his base materialistic philosophy on both quantum mechanics and on the beginning of the universe, none the less both special relativity and general relativity have passed extreme levels of testing to validate their truthfulness as to being accurate mathematical descriptions of reality:

    “When this paper was published (referring to the circa 1970 Hawking, Penrose paper) we could only prove General Relativity’s reliability to 1% precision, today we can prove it to 15 places of decimal.”
    Hugh Ross PhD. Astrophysics – quote taken from 8:40 mark of the following link
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF1xSErF_f4

    “Recent experiments have confirmed, to within one part in one hundred million billion (10^17), that the speed of light does not change when an observer is in motion.”
    Douglas Ell – “Counting To God” – pg. 41 – 2014

    Moreover, what General Relativity and Special Relativity reveal to us empirically is truly astonishing. General Relativity and Special Relativity reveal that there are two very different higher dimensional eternities above this temporal dimension. Two very different eternities just exactly as has been held in Christian Theism for thousands of years.

    Special Relativity, General Relativity, Heaven and Hell
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_4cQ7MXq8bLkoFLYW0kq3Xq-Hkc3c7r-gTk0DYJQFSg/edit

  10. 10
    daveS says:

    Well, whatever Einstein’s philosophical problems, why do I need to hold to any preconceived notions about the speed of light?

    I guess I’m a naturalist. I just went for a run, in the dark, beside an old cemetery, and didn’t expect to see any ghosts (and none appeared).

    It never occurred to me, until I read about it here, to draw any conclusions about the constancy of physical “constants” based on this view.

  11. 11
    bornagain says:

    As to ‘not seeing any ghosts’:

    The following video gives us a small insight as to what it would be like to exist in a higher dimension:

    Dr. Quantum in Flatland – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5yxZ5I-zsE&feature=player_detailpage#t=25
    of note: The preceding video is the lead off video on the outreach page of Dr. Anton Zeilinger’s quantum group in Vienna:
    https://vcq.quantum.at/outreach/multimedia/videos.html

    It is also very interesting to point out that the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, reported in many Near Death Experiences(NDEs), is also corroborated by Special Relativity when considering the optical effects for traveling at the speed of light. Please compare the similarity of the optical effect, noted at the 3:22 minute mark of the following video, when the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape around the direction of travel as a ‘hypothetical’ observer moves towards the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light, with the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ reported in very many Near Death Experiences: (Of note: This following video was made by two Australian University Physics Professors with a supercomputer.)

    Approaching The Speed Of Light – Optical Effects – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQnHTKZBTI4

    “Very often as they’re moving through the tunnel, there’s a very bright mystical light … not like a light we’re used to in our earthly lives. People call this mystical light, brilliant like a million times a million suns…”
    – Jeffrey Long M.D. – has studied NDE’s extensively

    “I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.”
    Barbara Springer – Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2jLeoAcMI

  12. 12
    Mapou says:

    daveS

    There are lots of creationist proponents of variable speed of light theories, so I’m not convinced this has much to do with Darwinism.

    It just goes to show that there are crackpots everywhere.

    And as the above quotes show, even the staunch Darwinist Sean Carroll is skeptical about a varying fine-structure constant.

    Well, since the charge of the electron is part and parcel of the FSC, how can the crackpot advocate a varying charge but not a varying FSC? Major logic fail.

  13. 13
    daveS says:

    Does Sean Carroll advocate a varying charge? I’ve never heard that.

  14. 14
    Mapou says:

    Well, since Caroll believes that the mass of the electron was zero, it follows that its charge must also have been zero. Massless particles do not have an electric charge AFAIK, except in sci-fi. Therefore he believes an elementary particle can acquire both charge and mass by some Big Bang magic. Just saying.

  15. 15
    Vy says:

    It just goes to show that there are crackpots everywhere

    ???

  16. 16
  17. 17
    chris haynes says:

    Speaking as a Creationist, I dont see why constants, such as the speed of light or the gravitational constant, cant change with time. If its true, its true.

    On a personal level, I’d prefer that its untrue. Physical laws are tough enough and unclear enough already. Being lazy, the idea of learning a lot of new Physics isn’t appealing any more, and If time variance is true it will void much of our present understanding of the Physical world.

    Of course Atheists like the idea of time variance, because our present knowledge has put Creationism in the catbird seat. Our Atheist friends need something, (multiverses, new laws, 11 dimensions, whatever) to get back in the game. But if there is any intrinsic reason why time variance favors one side or the other, I’d be grateful to know what it is.

  18. 18
    Mapou says:

    All this talk about a varying speed of light is hogwash, IMO. The speed of light is much weirder than most people think. The truth is that nothing can move faster or slower than light. It is the only speed, period. If something appears to be moving slower than light, the motion really consists of many quantum jumps at light speed interspersed with many rest periods. In fact, at ordinary speeds, an object is not moving at all the majority of the time. At light speed, there are only jumps and no rest periods.

    You don’t understand motion even if you think you do.

  19. 19
    Zachriel says:

    Gravity used to be considered a constant force, then Newton showed that the force varied by the inverse square law.

  20. 20
    Mapou says:

    Zachriel @19,

    Stop lying, Croteau. This discussion has nothing to with forces but with the constants of nature. The gravitational constant is called a constant precisely because it is constant throughout the universe and it does not change over time. The inverse square law is also constant.

  21. 21
    daveS says:

    The truth is that nothing can move faster or slower than light. It is the only speed, period.

    I’ll try this next time I get pulled over for speeding.

  22. 22
    Phinehas says:

    @Mapou

    The truth is that nothing can move faster or slower than light. It is the only speed, period.

    My understanding of relativity is simplistic to say the least, but what you say here makes sense (to me) according to what (I think) I understand.

    I conceptualize the theory as four-dimensional space in which everything has a vector that is of c length. For most things, that vector is pointed primarily down the time axis. Said another way, most of our speed is directed toward moving forward in time. As things approached the speed of light in x,y,z space, however, this vector swings away from pointing primarily down the time axis to being orthogonal to it, at which point time has stopped for that thing.

    Am I close?

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