As a logical extension to my post on God allowing ___ to happen, or maybe an attempt to bring some depth to the subject, I suppose I should spend some time laying out my perspective on the rules. Said rules being the laws that the universe runs on, aka physics and most especially quantum mechanics. Even as I write the Q word I feel a bit of embarrassment; I am not a trained physicist – no PhD or any other credential to bring credibility to my thinking. I just read a lot and think about things the way I do. Apparently there is some basis in reality in my musings so what the heck, I’ll indulge myself and my “arrogance” and hope that someone more knowledgeable than I will refute it effectively and then finally I can drop the charade. Wow, no judgment there…
In the beginning… All the books on cosmology I have read point to the same beginning, aka The Big Bang. There are other models that come and go but that one has some staying power and I haven’t read anything that sufficiently casts doubt. Not yet anyway. So how did the Big Bang happen? What was there before and where was it? Nothing and nowhere. All we can point to (pun!) is a singularity, an infinitely dense “point”. There are two abstractions to begin with: infinite and point. So this “singularity” is by extension an abstraction. We don’t understand it because it is not understandable. What I personally think – and there is no math to support this (yet!) – is that the universe began as an idea and when God said “let there be light!” Oh boy was there! The way I see it is that this idea, this abstraction, was in fact a non-rotating singularity containing all the energy of an entire universe. But it was just “there” until energy was added (the words.) This follows the law of Inertia though, doesn’t it? The object at rest was at rest until it was acted upon by an outside force, again “the words.” Let there be light destabilized the singularity and it released all that energy.
This is where it gets tricky. In those initial moments – it’s hard to put them into terms of time – nothing existed as we now know it. There was just this mass of chaotic, overwhelming, indescribable energy. No atoms, no electrons, none of that. It was chaos in its infancy of finding order. Nothing but light. What’s interesting is the set of rules that governed the finding of order. The Newtonian rules (classical physics) had not yet settled in; no “large” structures existed yet. So what were the rules? This is where the quantum world begins, the blinking in and out of existence of the most elementary units of energy. And this is where, as I have read, science is deeply uncertain. I speculate that a “field” existed and still exists, that is the framework for order. It is generally referred to as the Zero Point Field, although some (many?) believe it is the “dark” (energy or matter.) In any case it is, I believe, the foundation for order. In the big bang the infinite became finite – it lost it’s “zero-ness” and became real. And more and more real as the infinitesimally small coalesced into larger and larger expressions. Photons (light) collided, entangled, and generally morphed into more complex structures, i.e. quarks, electrons, protons and such. This implies that photons have mass, or at least the precursors to mass, which is a new point of inquiry for physicists. These in turn began to express behaviors which we call Laws – gravity took hold as mass accumulated. The strong and weak nuclear forces formed atoms and elements. Electromagnetism: the expression of behaviors of these elementary particles.
As a brief aside, Smoot reminds us that the parameters that allowed for the evolution of the universe were incredibly narrow, the margin for error and thus destruction, so infinitesimally small – essentially everything had to be perfect. People talk about the “Goldilocks Zone” the Earth inhabits, and it is also true for our universe – everything had to be just right.
This was all during the so-called inflationary period where the universe grew, expanded, faster than the speed of light (as we define it now.) This is also a rather sticky point as it violates Relativity. But the rules of relativity have not yet begun to express themselves – it is still a quantum universe mostly. What I find interesting is how these two perspectives separated and coexist still. Interesting mostly because this is an area of poor understanding on my part. More reading is necessary and any suggestions on the cosmology and physics of the early universe are welcome – I have read Smoot, Hawking, Einstein, Rovelli, Feynman, and in an odd tangent Susan Casey (The Wave) but obviously not nearly enough! And not for the last time my disclaimer as to my near-ignorance of, well, everything.
As events unfolded – the endless stream of probabilistic events (Rovelli) larger structures formed. David Bohm calls it “unfolding from the enfolded.” Gasses, dust, the byproducts of chaos and creation/destruction, drew together via gravity and cooling. Larger and larger they grew, becoming stars, black holes, galaxies, planets. All a result of a very basic set of rules. It’s beautiful and elegant.
Something I have found very interesting comes from Rovelli. On the one hand he suggests that there is no such thing as time, but on the other he is forced to take into account the law of entropy. It is entropy, or the immutable and constant movement of all energy to balance, that creates the distinction between the Newtonian and the Quantum. It is the arrow of time, writ hard into the rules. Heat only moves in one direction. Something cold does not get hotter on its own; it is a function of the heat moving towards the less-heat. It’s one way only. So from the very moment of creation everything pointed at cooling, and by cooling the other rules began to express themselves. The weirdness shows up as the two primary structures (Newtonian and Quantum) are now separate. The underlying quantum structure remains while the Newtonian is now expressed “on top” of it. At least that’s how I see it. So time is a real thing because of entropy as revealed through the behavior of the Newtonian construct, but not real because of the uncertainty of quantum behaviors.
Another really interesting things is how these rules are revealed to us. Mathematics are the language of God. The rules are revealed in relationships between things and they form patterns that we can, if we look hard enough, uncover and maybe understand. Geometry is especially useful. I am very fond of the Fibonacci sequence (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21…) and how the spirals we see in nature follow this pattern. Or Phi and the Golden Ratio. And don’t forget fractals! I hated geometry class in high school, mostly because proofs are rigorous and I am lazy. I loved Trig in college but only because I could create beautiful curves by playing with the equations. But the truth is there, in the math, and you can’t argue math… it’s perfect.
I’m feeling especially stupid right now, and a little ashamed of my adjudged arrogance of even thinking I understand any of this. Am I making it up as I go along or am I actually on point? I may never know but my intuition and reading lean towards the latter. My wife tells me I have really good intuition, but I can’t do math with any significant capability. It’s just intuition.
Now that self-deprecation has been indulged in (again, and I really should stop that as it’s a distraction), back to my exploration of the Rules. They matter, as we humans, existing in this universe, are subject to them as are all things. And again, as I think about it, geometry presses its face against the glass of my imagination. The torus. The shape of consciousness and our interaction with life. Probabilities flow towards the center and the wave function collapses in the present, sending the “what ifs?” of the future permanently into the facts of the past. And those facts – our history – feeds back into both the present and the future, creating that wonderful echo chamber known as our self, the person we believe ourselves to be, the pattern of interpreting and giving meaning to the information we are attuned to. Now we’re getting into an area I actually really know something about – the pattern of the self. And it is governed by the same rules that all things follow.
This pattern of interpretation and meaning creates filters (for lack of a better word) that not only inform said interpretation and meaning but literally create a variety of probabilities. You go where you look, you experience what you pay attention to and by attending feed it and create a higher probability of experiencing it more. This is where pilot waves and the wave function are experienced, although no one but weirdos like me think of it this way.
These filters of interpretation and meaning create an emotional and intellectual myopia, a narrowing of perception that blinds us to possibilities. We become slaves to our limited thoughts and emotions and as time passes they atrophy, becoming dense and very difficult to alter. This is why so many are now turning towards psychedelics; these molecules put a hammer to the filters and open up new perceptions both internal and external. Although I have not experienced said hammer I can imagine – and I have a really good imagination.
Back to the atrophied filters. I see them as density gradients; the closer to the present moment information comes the more it is subject to our filters. We see what we believe and are less open to what actually may be. And once the wave function collapses and something has happened (become real) it becomes fixed in our memories – “it’s true because I experienced it.” These density gradients often distort our experience; we judge the information (interpretation and meaning again) and our emotions follow, and the pattern is reinforced. The filters grow stronger for good or for ill. Mark Twain puts it thus: “The problem isn’t with what we know for sure, it’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”
So what to do with this? That’s really all that matters. Remember Stevie’s Axiom #1: It’s not so much what you know but what you do with what you know that matters. And an honest answer is “I don’t know. Yet…” I mean really, this perspective seems to me, intuitively, to lead to something worthwhile. I just haven’t figured out yet what it is. Ideas, comments, criticism and abuse are as always most welcome.