Posts Tagged ‘Aristarchus’

Perverse Logic: Saving the Multiverse with Unhinged Cosmic Inflation!

February 1, 2018

When The Unobservable Universe Is Used To Justify Various Follies, Such As The Multiverse, Civilization Is In A Bad Way:

Physics is the laboratory of reason. This where the most advanced, most subtle logics are forged (even more so than in pure mathematics, where the navel’s importance is too great). So what physicists ponder, matters to the entire civilization which nurtures them. When physics goes to the dogs, so does civilization. The follies of state of the art theoretical physics, reflect an ambient madness which pervades civilization. (If you don’t believe this, may I sell you some imaginary bitcoins for millions of dollars?)

Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel, a continual source of excellent articles in physics, wrote an interesting essay which I disagree with. His reasons are interesting, and have the merit of honesty. My answers are even more striking, and I bring the full weight of 24 centuries of history as meta-evidence for crushing the feeble, pathetic, short-sighted considerations of my fellow physicists. Ethan’s essay is entitled: “Yes, The Multiverse Is Real, But It Won’t Fix Physics
Surprisingly, the evidence points towards the existence of the unobservable multiverse. But it isn’t the answer you’re looking for.

Ethan proposes to use cosmic inflation to provide for the proliferation of Schrödinger cats and Wigner’s friends. One folly would thus provide for the other, and they would thus stay up, like two drunks falling into each other’s arms. I will instead humbly suggest to do away with madness altogether. But first a little recap.

The universe is expanding. This experimental evidence was established around 1920, by a number of astronomers in Europe and the USA, the most famous of whom was lawyer turned astronomer, Edwin Hubble. Hubble had the biggest telescope. The expansion is presumed to be looking everywhere the same, and this is what seems to be observed. That also means that, if one looks far away, galaxies will seem to be receding from us at speed ever closer to the speed of light. As the apparent speed of these galaxies approach c, their light gets shifted to lower and lower frequencies, until they become invisible (same reason as why Black Holes are blacker than black).

Where the transition to invisibility occurs is called the “event horizon”. Beyond the event horizon is the unobservable universe (we can’t detect it gravitationally, as gravity goes at the speed of light, a theoretical prediction now experimentally verified).

The observed universe is “flat” (namely there is no detected distortion in the distribution of clouds, filaments and superclusters of galaxies). That sounds unlikely, and indicates that the observed universe is a tiny portion of a much larger whole.

This unobservable universe has nothing to do with the “Multiverse” brandished recently by many theoretical physicists who have apparently run out of imagination for something more plausible. Eighty years ago, Schrödinger pointed out that Quantum Mechanics, as formalized then (and now!) was observer dependent, and filled up the universe with waves of dead and live cats (when applied to macroscopic objects). That’s called the Schrödinger Cat Paradox. Instead of calling for a re-thinking of Quantum Mechanics (as I do!), Ethan Siegel (and many other physicists and astrophysicists) embrace the dead and alive cats, settling them in “parallel universes”. So basically they reenact Solomon Judgment: instead of cutting the baby in two, they cut the universe in two. Zillions of time per second, in zillions of smaller places than you can possibly imagine… Here is a picture of Schrödinger cat: as the branches separate in that movie, two universes are created. This is what Ethan Siegel wants to justify, thanks to cosmic inflation…

Ethan’s revealing comment: “The idea of parallel Universes, as applied to Schrödinger’s cat. As fun and compelling as this idea is, without an infinitely large region of space to hold these possibilities in, even inflation won’t create enough Universes to contain all the possibilities that 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution have brought us. Image credit: Christian Schirm.”
To explain crazy, we will go more crazy, thus making the previous crazy sound more rational, relatively speaking…

The Multiverse”, with baby universes all over the universe, has more to do with the “Many Worlds Interpretation” of Quantum Mechanics, a theory so absurd that the great popes of physics ruling around 1960 rejected it outright. Wheeler was ashamed of himself for having had a PhD student, Everett, who suggested this folly(Everett couldn’t get an academic job, at a time when academic employment in physics was booming!)

Ethan wrote: “In the region that became our Universe, which may encompass a large region that goes far beyond what we can observe, inflation ended all-at-once. But beyond that region, there are even more regions where it didn’t end.”

This sort of statement, and I say this with all due respect to the divine, is equivalent to saying:”Me, Ethan, having checked all that exists, observable by simple humans, or not, thereby informs you that I am either God, or that She is an interlocutor of mine. We checked that cosmic inflation thing, and saw it all over all the possible universes. Don’t talk, just learn.”

There is no way for us humans to know, for sure, or not, what is going on beyond the observable universe (aside from having no gravitational field distortions when approaching the event horizon, as I said above when considering “flatness”).

Ethan notices that Many Worlds fanatics have tried to use cosmic inflation to save their (ridiculous) theory. (“Many Worlds” is ridiculous, as Schrödinger tried to show, long ago, because there would be as many ways to cut the universes into “Many Worlds” as there are observers. So, so to speak, the “Many World Interpretation”, call it MWI, is actually MWI ^ {Observers} (MWI to the power of the set of all possible Observers, the latter set being itself something of an uncountably infinite function of MWI.)

Ethan says: “But just because variants of the Multiverse are falsifiable, and just because the consequences of its existence are unobservable, doesn’t mean that the Multiverse isn’t real. If cosmic inflation, General Relativity, and quantum field theory are all correct, the Multiverse likely is real, and we’re living in it.

What Ethan is saying is that if a number of crazy (cosmic inflation), or incomplete (Quantum Field Theory), ideas are “all correct”, then something as useful as angels on pin heads is real.Yes, indeed, if one believes that Muhammad flew to Jerusalem on a winged horse (!), one may as well believe all the rest of the Qur’an. That is a proof by crystal balls. After Ptolemy and company had established their (half correctly) predicting “epicycles” theory, one could have used it in turn to “prove” Aristotle ridiculous theory of motion.

23 centuries ago a much saner theory existed, that of Aristarchus. It was rejected at the time, precisely because it was not insane, and even though it was used to make a nearly correct prediction of the distance of the Moon. Aristarchus underestimated the distance of the Sun, but a telescope could have changed this (by showing more precisely the angle of the terminus on the Moon). If astronomers had the time had accepted heliocentrism as a possibility, it would have led them to invent the telescope. Similarly, right now, rejecting Many Worlds and Multiverse will lead to develop instruments which don’t exist yet (I have proposed at least one).

Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel suggests that: “The Multiverse is real, but provides the answer to absolutely nothing.” My opinion is that the Multiverse is worse than useless: the unhinged mood it provides prevents to develop more fruitful avenues of research, both theoretically and experimentally.

Insanity is the rule in crowds (Nietzsche). Thus follies are the truths crowds love, at first sight, before being corrected by higher minds. Why? Follies bind, because they are so special.

In Aristarchus’ times, heliocentrism, the fact Earth and its Moon rotate around the Sun, should have been obvious. Indeed, people, let’s think for a moment: where was the Sun supposed to be, considering the phases of the Moon? If the Sun turned around Earth, the Moon’s illumination should have changed all day long! It didn’t require much geometrical analysis to discover that this source of light could only be where Aristarchus computed it to be, far away from the Earth-Moon system.

It took 19 centuries to correct that (obvious!) mistake. Interestingly, Jean Buridan, circa 1350 CE, did it in the most theoretical fashion.

Buridan first showed that Aristotle’s ridiculous theory of motion made no sense, and had to be replaced by inertia and momentum (what Buridan called “impetus”). Having done this, the motion of the planets in a heliocentric system could be explained by “circular impetus”, Buridan pointed out (then he observed sardonically that we couldn’t observe the difference between epicycles and heliocentrism, so may as well go for “Scripture”).

Similarly, nowadays, instead of arguing with the “angels on a multiverse pinhead” authorities, we better point out to the glaring inconsistencies of Quantum Mechanics.

Civilization without reason is like a chicken without a head: it can run, but not forever.

Patrice Aymé