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Multiverse cosmologist says the concept of infinity is ruining physics

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Max Tegmark.jpg
Max Tegmark

MIT multiverse theorist Max Tegmark tells us why he thinks so:

Physics is all about predicting the future from the past, but inflation seems to sabotage this. When we try to predict the probability that something particular will happen, inflation always gives the same useless answer: infinity divided by infinity. The problem is that whatever experiment you make, inflation predicts there will be infinitely many copies of you, far away in our infinite space, obtaining each physically possible outcome; and despite years of teeth-grinding in the cosmology community, no consensus has emerged on how to extract sensible answers from these infinities. So, strictly speaking, we physicists can no longer predict anything at all!

However did Newton and Einstein manage? Oh wait, possibly by developing theories that the evidence supported, instead of theories like the multiverse, to which evidence is irrelevant—and then declaring war on falsifiability, as some of Tegmark’s colleagues have done.

In the past, many venerable mathematicians were skeptical of infinity and the continuum. The legendary Carl Friedrich Gauss denied that anything infinite really exists, saying “Infinity is merely a way of speaking” and “I protest against the use of infinite magnitude as something completed, which is never permissible in mathematics.” In the past century, however, infinity has become mathematically mainstream, and most physicists and mathematicians have become so enamored with infinity that they rarely question it. Why? Basically, because infinity is an extremely convenient approximation for which we haven’t discovered convenient alternatives. More.

Dr Sheldon
Rob Sheldon

Rob Sheldon responds,

A classic case of shooting the messenger.

Infinity was supposedly a modern invention, but we have a palimpset with Archimedes proof using the concept of infinity.

When the palimpset was discovered, it shook up the history-of-science community because contrary to “evolutionary” expectations, it showed that ancient Greeks were quite comfortable with the idea of infinity. So infinity is neither new nor an aberration nor dispensable, and least of all, pernicious.

So why the jihad against infinity? The problem mentioned in this blog, is the metaphysics of cosmology, both inflation and multiverses. These are rightly bad in their own terms, there is no need to drag mathematics down into the mud with them. A much better title for the blog would be “Materialism is a beautiful concept – and its ruining physics.”

The multiverse, (where everything turns out to be true, except philosophy and religion) is not, strictly speaking, a “war on science” (pretty tired rhetoric, eh?) in the sense of Boko Haram – which is deadly serious about the war. No, it means switching science from discovering and assessing evidence about the world we live in to cherrypicking evidence for naturalism, irrespective of the pattern of the evidence. That is why crackpot cosmology gets funded, and ideas that should long ago have been discarded (like string theory) stay alive. The road to reality is the road not taken.

Admittedly, the difference may be hard to spot.

Note: Infinity, as a math concept, is discussed here at Plus Maths.

See also: Lost manuscripts, recovered after exhaustive efforts, establish Archimedes as the founder of combinatorics

and

Consciousness as a fourth state of matter (Tegmark)

8 Replies to “Multiverse cosmologist says the concept of infinity is ruining physics

  1. 1
    Mapou says:

    For the record, I agree with Tegmark on infinity. It’s a pseudoscientific concept. It is really never used anywhere, except in name only. Newton never used it and neither did Einstein. Calculus doesn’t use it either in spite of claims to the contrary. Otherwise, it would be impossible to solve calculus equations on a finite digital computer.

    That being said, Tegmark is wrong about almost everything else including the multiverse, the existence of space/distance and the time dimension. I realize that many Christians love infinity. How else can God be infinite, omnipotent and omniscient, right? They’re wrong, IMO. The Biblical God never claimed such things about himself. On the contrary, he claimed the exact opposite. Just saying.

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    Here is a video on the struggle to tame infinity:

    BBC-Dangerous Knowledge – Part 1
    https://vimeo.com/30482156
    Part 2
    https://vimeo.com/30641992

    Georg Cantor started the ball rolling on ‘taming infinity’ here:

    Georg Cantor – The Mathematics Of Infinity – video
    https://vimeo.com/96082227

    The final fruit of ‘taming infinity’ was Godel’s incompleteness theorem:

    Kurt Gödel – Incompleteness Theorem – video
    https://vimeo.com/92387853

    How the incompleteness theorem applies to material computers and minds in general is commented on here in the follwing video clip by Gregory Chaitin

    Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing – Incompleteness Theorem and Human Intuition – video
    https://vimeo.com/92387854

    The Limits Of Reason – Gregory Chaitin – 2006
    Excerpt: an infinite number of true mathematical theorems exist that cannot be proved from any finite system of axioms.,,,
    http://www.umcs.maine.edu/~chaitin/sciamer3.pdf

    Algorithmic Information Theory, Free Will and the Turing Test – Douglas S. Robertson
    Excerpt: For example, the famous “Turing test” for artificial intelligence could be defeated by simply asking for a new axiom in mathematics. Human mathematicians are able to create axioms, but a computer program cannot do this without violating information conservation. Creating new axioms and free will are shown to be different aspects of the same phenomena: the creation of new information.
    http://cires.colorado.edu/~dou...../info8.pdf

    “Either mathematics is too big for the human mind or the human mind is more than a machine”
    Kurt Gödel

    The incompleteness theorem is extremely bad news for people who believe that there can be a purely mathematical ‘theory of everything’. Even Hawking himself at one time admitted this (and apparently subsequently forgot):

    The nature and significance of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems – Princeton – 2006
    Excerpt: ,,Stephen Hawking and Freeman Dyson, among others, have come to the conclusion that Gödel’s theorem implies that there can’t be a (mathematical) Theory of Everything.,,
    http://math.stanford.edu/~fefe.....el-IAS.pdf

    Stanley Jaki comments here:

    “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

    please note Jaki stated “even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time”, but that is not what we have, we have two very different theories that refuse to be reconciled with each other:

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Remarkably, infinity itself appears to be the main reason why these two theories cannot be united. The conflict of reconciling General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics appears to arise from the inability of either theory to successfully deal with the Zero/Infinity conflict that crops up in different places of each theory:

    THE MYSTERIOUS ZERO/INFINITY
    Excerpt: The biggest challenge to today’s physicists is how to reconcile general relativity and quantum mechanics. However, these two pillars of modern science were bound to be incompatible. “The universe of general relativity is a smooth rubber sheet. It is continuous and flowing, never sharp, never pointy. Quantum mechanics, on the other hand, describes a jerky and discontinuous universe. What the two theories have in common – and what they clash over – is zero.”,, “The infinite zero of a black hole — mass crammed into zero space, curving space infinitely — punches a hole in the smooth rubber sheet. The equations of general relativity cannot deal with the sharpness of zero. In a black hole, space and time are meaningless.”,, “Quantum mechanics has a similar problem, a problem related to the zero-point energy. The laws of quantum mechanics treat particles such as the electron as points; that is, they take up no space at all. The electron is a zero-dimensional object,,, According to the rules of quantum mechanics, the zero-dimensional electron has infinite mass and infinite charge.
    http://www.fmbr.org/editoral/e....._mar02.htm

    Quantum Mechanics and Relativity – The Collapse Of Physics? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHHz4mB9GKY

    Yet if we allow God to ‘play the role of a person’, (i.e. agent causality vs. blind causality), in mathematics as even Godel himself allowed,,,,

    The God of the Mathematicians – Goldman
    Excerpt: As Gödel told Hao Wang, “Einstein’s religion [was] more abstract, like Spinoza and Indian philosophy. Spinoza’s god is less than a person; mine is more than a person; because God can play the role of a person.”
    Kurt Gödel – (Gödel is considered one of the greatest logicians who ever existed)
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    If we rightly allow agent causality into math, then a resolution between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity readily pops out for us that resolves the infinity problem between the two theories.
    The unification, into a ‘theory of everything’, between what is in essence the ‘infinite Theistic world of Quantum Mechanics’ and the ‘finite Materialistic world of the space-time of General Relativity’ seems to be directly related to what Jesus apparently joined together with His resurrection, i.e. related to the unification of infinite God with finite man. Dr. William Dembski in this following comment, though not directly addressing the Zero/Infinity conflict in General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, offers insight into this ‘unification’ of the infinite and the finite:

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31
    William Dembski PhD. Mathematics and Theology
    Excerpt: “In mathematics there are two ways to go to infinity. One is to grow large without measure. The other is to form a fraction in which the denominator goes to zero. The Cross is a path of humility in which the infinite God becomes finite and then contracts to zero, only to resurrect and thereby unite a finite humanity within a newfound infinity.”
    http://www.designinference.com.....of_xty.pdf

    Moreover there is actual physical evidence that lends strong support to the position that the ‘Zero/Infinity conflict’, we find between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, was successfully dealt with by Christ.
    As would be expected, if General Relativity were successfully dealt with in the resurrection of Jesus from death, we find that gravity was apparently overcome in the resurrection event of Christ from death:

    Particle Radiation from the Body – July 2012 – M. Antonacci, A. C. Lind
    Excerpt: The Shroud’s frontal and dorsal body images are encoded with the same amount of intensity, independent of any pressure or weight from the body. The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image. Radiation coming from the body would not only explain this feature, but also the left/right and light/dark reversals found on the cloth’s frontal and dorsal body images.
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/19tGkwrdg6cu5mH-RmlKxHv5KPMOL49qEU8MLGL6ojHU/edit

    THE EVENT HORIZON (Space-Time Singularity) OF THE SHROUD OF TURIN. – Isabel Piczek – Particle Physicist
    Excerpt: We have stated before that the images on the Shroud firmly indicate the total absence of Gravity. Yet they also firmly indicate the presence of the Event Horizon. These two seemingly contradict each other and they necessitate the past presence of something more powerful than Gravity that had the capacity to solve the above paradox.
    http://shroud3d.com/findings/i.....-formation

    Turin shroud – (Particle Physicist explains event horizon on the Shroud) – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHVUGK6UFK8

    Moreover, as would be expected if General Relativity (Gravity), and Quantum Mechanics/Special Relativity (QED), were truly unified in the resurrection of Christ from death, the image on the shroud is found to be formed by a quantum process. The image was not formed by a ‘classical’ process:

    The absorbed energy in the Shroud body image formation appears as contributed by discrete values – Giovanni Fazio, Giuseppe Mandaglio – 2008
    Excerpt: This result means that the optical density distribution,, can not be attributed at the absorbed energy described in the framework of the classical physics model. It is, in fact, necessary to hypothesize a absorption by discrete values of the energy where the ‘quantum’ is equal to the one necessary to yellow one fibril.
    http://cab.unime.it/journals/i.....802004/271

    “It is not a continuum or spherical-front radiation that made the image, as visible or UV light. It is not the X-ray radiation that obeys the one over R squared law that we are so accustomed to in medicine. It is more unique. It is suggested that the image was formed when a high-energy particle struck the fiber and released radiation within the fiber at a speed greater that the local speed of light. Since the fiber acts as a light pipe, this energy moved out through the fiber until it encountered an optical discontinuity, then it slowed to the local speed of light and dispersed. The fact that the pixels don’t fluoresce suggests that the conversion to their now brittle dehydrated state occurred instantly and completely so no partial products remain to be activated by the ultraviolet light. This suggests a quantum event where a finite amount of energy transferred abruptly. The fact that there are images front and back suggests the radiating particles were released along the gravity vector. The radiation pressure may also help explain why the blood was “lifted cleanly” from the body as it transformed to a resurrected state.”
    Kevin Moran – optical engineer

    Scientists say Turin Shroud is supernatural – December 2011
    Excerpt: After years of work trying to replicate the colouring on the shroud, a similar image has been created by the scientists.
    However, they only managed the effect by scorching equivalent linen material with high-intensity ultra violet lasers, undermining the arguments of other research, they say, which claims the Turin Shroud is a medieval hoax.
    Such technology, say researchers from the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Enea), was far beyond the capability of medieval forgers, whom most experts have credited with making the famous relic.
    “The results show that a short and intense burst of UV directional radiation can colour a linen cloth so as to reproduce many of the peculiar characteristics of the body image on the Shroud of Turin,” they said.
    And in case there was any doubt about the preternatural degree of energy needed to make such distinct marks, the Enea report spells it out: “This degree of power cannot be reproduced by any normal UV source built to date.”
    http://www.independent.co.uk/n.....79512.html

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Personally, considering the extreme difficulty that many brilliant minds have had in trying to reconcile Quantum Mechanics and special relativity(QED), with Gravity,

    A Capella Science – Bohemian Gravity! – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rjbtsX7twc

    Bohemian Gravity – Rob Sheldon – September 19, 2013
    Excerpt: there’s a large contingent of physicists who believe that string theory is the heroin of theoretical physics. It has absorbed not just millions of dollars, but hundreds if not thousands of grad student lifetimes without delivering what it promised–a unified theory of the universe and life. It is hard, in fact, to find a single contribution from string theory despite 25 years of intense effort by thousands of the very brightest and best minds our society can find.
    http://rbsp.info/PROCRUSTES/bohemian-gravity/

    Considering that extreme difficulty, I consider the preceding ‘quantum’ nuance on the Shroud of Turin to be a subtle, but powerful, evidence substantiating Christ’s primary claim as to being our Savior from sin, death, and hell:

    John 8:23-24
    But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.

    G.O.S.P.E.L. – (the grace of propitiation) – poetry slam – video
    https://vimeo.com/20960385

    Matthew 10:28
    “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    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.

    Natalie Grant – Alive – music video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap2vrLCU85w

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    corrected link to post 3:

    Michio Kaku – The Collapse Of Physics As We Know It ? – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfrvTbsRWHs

  6. 6
    liljenborg says:

    Mapou, in which passages of the Bible does God claim to be finite (though a case could be made that the “exact opposite” of infinity is, in fact, zero or nothing), impotent, and ignorant? I suppose you could quibble about whether or not “omnipotent” means “can do anything” (which implies one could even do things logically contradictory like creating a squared circle) or “can do anything doable” or whether “omniscient” means “knows everything” or “knows everything knowable”. But I recall the bible saying things like “If I ascend into the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there” or “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be”(Psalm 139) Those sound rather like “omniscient” and “omnipresent”.

    God created spacetime, matter, and energy. Since He exists apart from space and time neither spacial references (to his size) or chronological references (his age, his perception of past, present, or future, questions about what existed “before” God or what will come “after” God) have any meaning. The closest term we have, then, to those questions so often asked by children first grappling with the concept of God: “How big is God?”, “How old is God?” is “infinity” (limitless, boundless, immeasurable). There is no ruler long enough to measure how big a being might be who exists outside of, and yet throughout all of Space. There is no calendar or clock that could date a being who exists outside of Time, yes is both the beginning and end, and in whom, at every moment, we “live, move, and have our being.”

    And if calculus doesn’t use infinity, what is my daughter doing in her pre-calc class at university with that little sideways “8”? You, obviously, did not have my calc professor. Newton may not have used infinity in his math, but Leibniz speculated on the implications of infinity in his calculus, that later found fruition when John Wallis used it to calculate areas under curves. I know I find some of the ideas found in the field of non-Euclidean geometry weird, but even my wife was able to grasp them when she read Leonard Mlodinow’s book “Euclid’s Window”. And non-Euclidean geometry is utterly dependent upon the impact of infinite values on lines, curves, planes, and volumes.

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    Mapou,

    Calculus doesn’t use it either in spite of claims to the contrary. Otherwise, it would be impossible to solve calculus equations on a finite digital computer.

    I don’t believe that’s true. Sure, you can solve lots of equations *approximately* (and sometimes exactly) on a computer, but that doesn’t mean calculus doesn’t “use” infinity.

    Here’s a challenge: What’s the area under the standard normal curve?

  8. 8
    Zachriel says:

    Mapou: Otherwise, it would be impossible to solve calculus equations on a finite digital computer.

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3639#comic

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