Intelligent Design

Voom! Evolution in Fourier Space: part 2

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Tommy Gold, Herman Bondi, Fred HoyleIn my previous post, I suggested that we can learn from panspermia how to avoid the Origin-of-life (OOL) problem–by spreading it out. In the case of materialists from Epicurus to Hoyle, this was accomplished by making time eternal. If you have eternity to do something, they argue, why even the most improbable will necessarily occur. One can also make a spatial version of this argument by saying if the universe is infinite, then somewhere the improbable will necessarily occur. Sounds good, but…

Does this argument work?

Not the way they intend it to. For one thing, most cosmologists believe the universe to have begun in a Big Bang, which severely restricts the amount of time available for any improbable object. Likewise, many cosmologists think that the universe is finite, or at least, indistinguishable from finite size. This one is a bit trickier to argue, and so there have been many versions of an infinite universe, but every time a prediction of an observable effect is made, it turns out to fail. While there have been no lack of theories for an infinite universe, there have been no confirmations and a lot of disconfirmations, which would suggest we actually do live in a finite universe. So despite the ancient Greek belief in the infinity of time and space, the past 2500 years have been hostile to that position.

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22 Replies to “Voom! Evolution in Fourier Space: part 2

  1. 1
    Aleta says:

    The article says, “And multiplying zero by infinity has a well-specified answer, zero.”

    That is false, as any calculus student knows.

  2. 2
    Aleta says:

    For what it’s worth, the argument that Sheldon is taking to task – “if the universe is infinite, then somewhere the improbable will necessarily occur,” is false, but not because “multiplying zero by infinity has a well-specified answer, zero,” which is false.

    The reason the argument is false because the laws of physics limit what can happen, so just making a bigger universe doesn’t allow the laws of physics to do impossible things.

  3. 3
    mullerpr says:

    Aleta,

    Could you explain your certainty that the laws of physics will prevent something improbable or even impossible to happen?

    Is the laws of physics not just a deliberate parsimonious description of the physical universe that hold true for all known observations?

    Am I to understand that the laws of physics has some immutable transcendent existence apart from physical entities? What physical entities are we considering, only those in our universe?

    If thinking about these questions makes you realize that the consensus is that there is nothing that prevent us to think that there might be universes with different laws of physics.

    It will be a lot of fun to consider the following thoughts on an infinite multiverse.
    http://www.whatyououghttoknow......ultiverse/

  4. 4
    Aleta says:

    mullerpr: “Could you explain your certainty that the laws of physics will prevent something improbable or even impossible to happen?”

    Of course I’m not certain. My point is just that assuming that the laws of physics are such as we see now throughout the universe, hypothesizing a bigger universe – even an infinite one – doesn’t lead to the conclusion that all conceivable things will happen.

    mullerpr: “Am I to understand that the laws of physics has some immutable transcendent existence apart from physical entities? What physical entities are we considering, only those in our universe?

    If thinking about these questions makes you realize that the consensus is that there is nothing that prevent us to think that there might be universes with different laws of physics.”

    The article wasn’t about multiple universes, I don’t think – just about this universe being bigger. Also, although is really off the topic, I personally don’t think the “laws of physics ha[ve] some immutable transcendent existence apart from physical entities?” I think they are just descriptions of how the various parts of the universe behave.
    But neither of these latter two topics are related to the article, or my originals points.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    MP:

    Speculating on alternative unobserved universes is indeed fun. But,lacking an empirical base in observation it is not science, it is speculative philosophy. And the method of phil is comparative difficulties across competing options, so you have no good basis for ruling out ahead of time Theistic options or the like.

    And, on the limits of physical plausibility [not all that is logically or even physically possible is credibly observable on the gamut of the obse4rved universe], I suggest you take time to read Abel’s recent discussion on the universal plausibility bound, here.

    GEM of TKI

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Aleta, multiplying an infinitesimally a very large and growing number can come out just about anywhere indeed, but multiplying NOTHING or — worse — an impossibility as a hopeful cause, by any number of tries, will get you nowhere. And when you boil down the stuff on entanglements etc, it comes down to that.

  7. 7
    Aleta says:

    kf writes, “MP: Speculating on alternative unobserved universes is indeed fun. But, lacking an empirical base in observation it is not science, it is speculative philosophy.

    I agree, and my emphasis.

  8. 8
    mullerpr says:

    My objective was just to point out Aleta’s first wrong assertion that the laws of physics will prevent certain kind of things from happening in “our” postulated infinite universe.

    Talking about any actual instantiated infinite is problematic on a lot of levels and I though the video on the multiverse would be fun and informative for this discussion because non of the multiverse dilemmas can be avoided in a postulated “our/single infinite universe”.

    Kairofocus, I did consider these paradoxes posed by any form of infinity and it actually left me with no other option than to assume the Theistic position as the only sound epistemology.

  9. 9
    mullerpr says:

    Look at it from this point of view. A single infinite universe pose a glaring impossibility to measure/observe certain parts of such universe and those parts are just as much outside the reach of our conception of science as any postulated multiverse.

    Light traveling from an infinite distant part of the universe will never reach us because if it does it implies it was not infinitely far away.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    MP:

    Appreciated.

    Laws of physics, true, never yet caused anything to happen.

    However, in praxis, people use this loosely — and I don’t really like it [I taught my students to speak as precisely and correctly as possible], but have to recognise it — for the forces, patterns, tendencies, phenomena and circumstances described in the laws.

    On the comparative difficulties front, my own current way is the warranted credible truths approach. On this, evo mat and its travelling companions come up real short real fast.

    G

  11. 11
    Aleta says:

    I agree that we could never know, by direct observation, all that is in an infinite universe. However, I’ll return to this point: if we assume that the laws of physics throughout the universe, however big it might be, are the same as what we have observed here, then some things are going to be impossible no matter how big the universe: for instance, a perpetual motion machine. Now if you want to assume that in an infinite universe the laws of physics might be different elsewhere, then of course you can argue (as a matter of speculative philosophy) that things that are impossible in the universe as we know it are indeed possible elsewhere.

    But since that is an assumption beyond the original idea in the opening post about the universe being infinite, I think my point is correct: all other things being equal, the size of the universe in both space and time doesn’t affect the possibility or impossibility of some kinds of things.

    Of course, if there are things that are possible but unlikely, the size of the universe raises the possibility of some number of them existing, although it doesn’t change the raw probabilities. For instance, if you thoroughly shuffle a deck of 100 cards once on each star in the known universe, the chances of having a deck back in its original state, ordered by suit and number, is extremely small, yet in an infinite universe an infinite number of such decks would exist.

    But that is very different than something like a perpetual motion machine, which is impossible no matter the size of the universe.

  12. 12
    mullerpr says:

    KF:

    The WCT approach looks interesting and satisfying. For some time now I have tried to understand Alvin Plantinga’s work on epistemology. Even though I hardly understand even a 10th of the depth of his arguments it still is satisfying to see his rigor and encompassing approach to “warranted true belief”.

    I am sure the WCT would be well enhanced by his views.

  13. 13
    mullerpr says:

    Aleta,

    I have to conclude my discussion by urging you to seriously consider the implications of any kind of instantiated infinity. There are no form of boundedness (only space time being infinite etc.) that could tame the paradoxes presented by any form of instantiated infinity.

  14. 14
    Aleta says:

    I’m not arguing that an infinite space or time is even possible, so I don’t think, perhaps, that your remarks apply to what I’ve been saying.

    But I’m glad to conclude the discussion. I really only started posting because of the “zero times infinity = zero” mistake.

  15. 15
    mullerpr says:

    Aleta,

    I hope you at least enjoyed the video clip link that I placed.

  16. 16
    Aleta says:

    Thanks, muller, but I usually don’t watch video clips. I prefer to read.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related interest:

    Georg Cantor – The Mathematics Of Infinity – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4572335

    Gödel’s Incompleteness: The #1 Mathematical Breakthrough of the 20th Century
    Excerpt: Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem says:
    “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.”
    http://www.cosmicfingerprints......pleteness/

    William Lane Craig – Hilbert’s Hotel – The Absurdity Of An Infinite Regress Of “Things” – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994011/

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    further notes on infinity:

    I find it extremely interesting that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its “uncertain” 3-D state is centered on each individual observer in the universe, whereas, 4-D space-time cosmology tells us each 3-D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that I exist?

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men.
    From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth;
    He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    This is obviously a very interesting congruence in science between the very large (relativity) and the very small (quantum mechanics). A congruence they seem to be having a extremely difficult time “unifying” mathematically into a “theory of everything”.(Einstein, Penrose).

    The Physics Of The Large And Small: What Is the Bridge Between Them? Roger Penrose
    Excerpt: This, (the unification of General Relativity and the laws of Quantum Mechanics), would also have practical advantages in the application of quantum ideas to subjects like biology – in which one does not have the clean distinction between a quantum system and its classical measuring apparatus that our present formalism requires. In my opinion, moreover, this revolution is needed if we are ever to make significant headway towards a genuine scientific understanding of the mysterious but very fundamental phenomena of conscious mentality.
    http://www.pul.it/irafs/CD%20I.....enrose.pdf

    Yet, this “unification”, into a “theory of everything”, between what is in essence the “infinite world of Quantum Mechanics” and the “finite 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:

    The Center Of The Universe Is Life – General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and The Shroud Of Turin – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3993426/

    The End Of Christianity – Finding a Good God in an Evil World – Pg.31 – William Dembski
    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

    —————–

    Mass becomes infinite at the speed of light, thus mass will never go the speed of light.

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (photon) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a (photon) qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport.
    http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Single photons to soak up data:
    Excerpt: the orbital angular momentum of a photon can take on an infinite number of values. Since a photon can also exist in a superposition of these states, it could – in principle – be encoded with an infinite amount of information.
    http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/7201

    ——————-

    It seems from a general overview of the evidence I’ve collected thus far that “material” things have severe problems dealing with infinity. Whereas transcendent information bypasses those problems and fulfills the necessity for the infinity we deeply intuit must exist somewhere in a coherent reality. i.e. exactly what is going to stop an actual infinity from existing somewhere?

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Sheldon, this article may interest you:

    Water Was Present During Birth of Earth, Study of Silver Suggests
    Excerpt; Tiny variations in the isotopic composition of silver in meteorites and Earth rocks are helping scientists put together a timetable of how our planet was assembled beginning 4.568 billion years ago. The new study, published in the journal Science, indicates that water and other key volatiles may have been present in at least some of Earth’s original building blocks, rather than acquired later from comets, as some scientists have suggested.,,, The silver isotopes also presented another riddle, suggesting that the Earth’s core formed about 5-10 million years after the origin of the Solar System, much earlier than the date from the hafnium-tungsten results.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/re.....143457.htm

  20. 20

    Bornagain77,
    The silver isotope article was interesting, but it is illustrative of the difficulty separating space and time. We have silver isotopes on earth that match primitive meteorites (carbonaceous chondrites?), and from this we are supposed to infer a time history? I’m afraid my brief acquaintance with mass spectroscopy makes me skeptical of all such claims. It’s the same difficulty of inferring evolution from a few scattered bones. Time and space just aren’t the same.

    As for infinities, they are a fascinating subject, but like the phrase “image of God”, far too vague to permit actual predictions. The infamous Olber’s paradox asks the question, if the universe is eternal, why isn’t the night sky white with stars? To which we can add, why isn’t the earth white with heat? For if stars are infinitely old in an eternal universe, then there must be an infinite amount of heat, etc.

    So despite some obfuscation about calculus permitting 0*infinity0, (it doesn’t, unless you substitute some other expression for zero and infinity), the point is that infinity really doesn’t solve anything, it merely makes it hard to think about.

    But the real point of this post isn’t infinity, it is the Fourier Transform.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Dr. Sheldon, as I’m not literate in Fourier transform, I will limit myself to one more comment on infinities. I find that atheists and theists alike both deeply intuit a need for infinity within reality somewhere. For the atheists this was the “eternal” universe before that view was exploded by the big bang, and for the theists this has always been the infinite mind of God. I find that a couple of lines of evidence converged on the infinity of transcendent information thus fulfilling what was already a natural prediction from the theistic position (That the infinite mind of God created this universe). One line was pertaining to the mathematical definition photon qubit to an infinity of transcendent information (I hold the photon to be created by a “specified infinity”), the second line of evidence was the dominion that transcendent information exercised over photons of energy in quantum teleportation. The line emerges when we realize the first law states that energy cannot be created or destroyed by any material means, then the logic naturally follows that any entity that exercises dominion of energy must of logical necessity possess the same as well as greater qualities than energy. i.e. all transcendent information that can exist for all past, present, and future events of energy already must exist. transcendent Information cannot be created or destroyed i.e. an “actual infinity” can be found in transcendent information where it was blocked off to the materialists by the discovery of the big bang. I believe this is what Georg Cantor referred to as the “absolute infinity” of God. The beauty of it is that the infinity is arrived at and corroborated by empirical evidence.

  22. 22
    Aleta says:

    Hi Robert.

    You write, “So despite some obfuscation about calculus permitting 0*infinity0, (it doesn’t, unless you substitute some other expression for zero and infinity)…”

    In your opening post, you had written “And multiplying zero by infinity has a well-specified answer, zero.” I had pointed out that this was false.

    Why do you call my comment an “obfuscation”? You wrote something that was wrong, and I pointed it out. It may not have been the central theme of your post, but it occurred in a prominent place at the start of your article. I would think maybe clarifying or correcting your mistake would be a more suitable reaction than calling my comment an obfuscation.

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