So that would mean that even the beauty and symmetry people find in mathematics is an illusion.
Is everything all right here?
However, asymmetries and imperfections are everywhere and are essential to how nature works. The asymmetry of time, for example, the all-too-obvious fact that time only flows forward from past to future, giving us history and cause and effect. The origin of this unique directionality remains unknown. Confusingly, the fundamental equations of motion that model how particles move in space tells us that time could flow either way. But how fundamental are they if they tell something we don’t see? The usual answer invokes the complexity of the system: large systems made up of many interacting parts somehow force time to move forward. There are many ways that an egg can be scrambled, but only one that a scrambled egg can be unscrambled to its original shape. But that’s not proof, it’s evidence. If we dig deep into the argument, we see a few hidden assumptions that remain unjustified. Worse, from a cosmic perspective, time asymmetry is built into the properties of the very early universe: to be what it is today, the universe had to be much simpler in the past (or, in more appropriate jargon, have lower entropy). What set that stage? We don’t know.
Or take the elusive neutrinos, particles forged at the heart of the sun that hit you trillions of times per second. While particles like the electron or the proton spin either clockwise or counterclockwise, the neutrino is what we call a “left-handed” particle, only spinning in one direction. This asymmetry is essential for the workings of stars and radioactivity. Another one is the matter-antimatter asymmetry, the fact that even though the laws of physics state that particles of matter and of antimatter should exist in equal numbers, they don’t. If they did, the universe would be mostly filled with radiation, and we wouldn’t be here asking questions. Why the neutrino only spins one way? Why is there more matter than antimatter and what sets the value of the asymmetry? We don’t know. The models we have of particle physics add these asymmetries by hand to make things work. Not too beautiful anymore, at least not in a “perfect” sense of mathematical order and symmetry.
Asymmetry is the engine of change.Marcelo Gleiser, “Physics needs an aesthetic revolution” at IAI.TV (October 4, 2021)
Right. Asymmetry allows the timeless to function in time. Of what would Marcelo Gleiser like to disabuse us?
Nature has its own aesthetics of the imperfect. To pretend otherwise and try to impose mathematical perfection as the only path to the truth impoverishes the many facets of nature’s beauty and leads, ironically, to a worldview as false and illusory as that depicted on Plato’s cave wall.Marcelo Gleiser, “Physics needs an aesthetic revolution” at IAI.TV (October 4, 2021)
So what, exactly, is this “false and illusory” view? Is this short essay another veiled “correct” assault on the fact of the fine-tuning of the universe for life? There seems to be a lot of that out there these days:
Orthodox science is now in a deadly conflict with facts… There can only be one outcome.
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Ethan Siegel makes another paper assault on the Big Bang Is the Big Bang the least popular widely accepted science theory? Theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel wishes it out of existence by positing a cosmic inflation that wipes out all possibility of knowledge.
Physicist Brian Miller reflects on claims that the universe had no beginning Miller: Sutter asserts that Bento and Zalel’s article offers a credible response against the evidence for a cosmic beginning. Yet this claim is only based on what might be possible in the realm of the imagination.