Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Origin of the Universe in a Nutshell

Click on the title of this post to navigate to the site where this quote originates:

"I have done my own studies on the Origins of the Universe and as far as our Origin is concerned it can only be theorized and not conclusived. Scientific Investigations had lead to some convincing theories but nothing more. As I posted before what we need to find is the ORIGIN OF SPACE which will lead to the ORIGINS OF ALL THINGS. The Oigins of the Universe is NOT THE ORIGIN OF SPACE. The Universe is like a guest of Space -- it occupies it. I believe that somehow science is missing an oversight. I will tried to explain it again --- space is an entity which at one time contain nothing -- it was empty. This means that after so much time, in our sense of time, something came to occupied it. That something was a pollution to the whole of Space. The problem that I'm having is, just how this something came into being --- thats my problem................................"

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FluFlu writes that the stuff inside the universe must be separate from the universe itself. The matter and energy within it are of a different sort from the space it occupies. This is the classical view.

But, the Theory of Relativity, under intense scrutiny since 1905, has shown that matter, energy, space and time are all of the same fundamental essence. Space-time includes matter and energy by means of its plasticity and metamorphic talent. It is still called a "theory" only because we have not yet been able to observe the inner workings of other universes that might possess this same thread in their fabric. If we ever do observe other universes and we can discern such a thread, Einstein's theory will be referred to as the "Law of Relativity". It might be subsumed by some greater theory or law, but this has happened before to Newton's Laws, for instance, which were circumscribed by the "Theory" of Relativity. But they are still called laws.

The only theory in science that is more thoroughly confirmed is Quantum Theory. It too is called a theory only because we do not have instances of other universes to study wherein we can find this as a common thread. We should ignore the technicality because it is clear that "Quantum Law" governs the very nature of existence itself.

To be or not to be. That is the quantum question. Theoretically, there cannot be other universes that do not follow quantum law.

According to the current "standard model" of the universe and its origin, the expanding horizon that we can see with our telescopes may be extrapolated back to even earlier times. Due to the smooth nature of the trajectory that the universe seems to follow, this extrapolation can be extended almost to the very beginning. To do this, it helps to postulate an initial exponential "inflationary" expansion.

But, we cannot extrapolate all the way to t = 0, due only to another technicality. This limit is "theoretically" imposed by the idea that when the universe's history is run backward in time to the point when it must have been so very extremely dense and hot, then the basis for our normal intuitive understanding of physical laws breaks down, apparently.

But, I think that, solely for purely aesthetic reasons, physicists do not like to extrapolate the history of the universe to a point when it was smaller than a tiny distance derived from the definition of Planck's constant and younger than a fraction of a second smaller than a "Planck time". Well, O.K. It may not be necessary to go further than this anyway, but still, we do it.

According to the inflationary expansion hypothesis, the universe began when a virtual "point particle" materialized in the false vacuum and it failed to annihilate with its antiparticle, or else such annihilation is unecessary when virtual particles materialize in the vast energy sea of the false vacuum. Another view may be that there are orthogonal timelines to our own and annihilation simply has not and never will occur on our timeline.

The false vacuum acts like a huge quantity of superheated water. And the universe, remember, is a quantum entity: a particle or wave packet that is governed by quantum principles.

Quantum science is statistical in nature. It expresses events and processes in terms of probabilities. The appearance of a virtual particle is far more likely to occur in a very high energy state than in a lower one. This is because there are an infinite number of possible very high energy states while the number of potential lower energy states is limited by the fact that one arm of the infinite progression is cut off at zero. And, remember, the false vacuum is already a vast reservoir of almost infinite energy.

So, when the universe materialized, it instantly acted like a particle of dust in a cauldron of superheated water. This superheated "fluid" began to change phase. The initial catalytic high energy particle and a parcel of the false vacuum began to expand from a point, or from very near a point, to occupy a much larger and larger volume. Energy continuously transferred from the false vacuum to the new true vacuum of space as we know it, helping to fill it with energy in the form of extremely high energy light photons. As the universe expanded further, it began to cool, as expansion normally cools the contents of a system. High energy, intensely dense photons can indeed behave this way, as laser esperiments show.

And, its entropy also began to rise dramatically. When it had cooled far enough, various forms of matter began to condense out of that still small, dense volume of intense light. When it had cooled further, electrons suddenly were able to couple with protons, or with deuterium and helium nuclei, to give a dense neutral gas that was finally transparent to light itself. Previously, the matter/energy soup had been opaque.

The light that was present when this recombination process was complete is now detectable as the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). The light that had not condensed into matter was initially of very high energy, distributed according to a Maxwell distribution. The maximum in this distribution is now red-shifted down into the microwave region. But, because it exists within a very broad distribution, there are still a few remnants of this light that are presently still of an extremely high energy. This may be the source of some of the high energy cosmic rays that have been detected.

The hydrogen, deuterium and helium went on to form stars and galaxies while the universe expanded further. Some of the stars where so enormous that they "burned" their hydrgen/deuterium nuclear fuel very quickly and exploded as supernovae.

The cores of supernovae get so hot during this event and their existence in this state is limited in time so much that heavier elements like boron, nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, sodium, iron and all the rest of the elements of the periodic table were able to form and become isolated. Once they were suddenly exposed to the lower density and temperatures of intertellar space, the heavier elements were "frozen out" and preserved. This residue of heavy elements mixed with leftover hydrogen and deuterium to form new stars. After several cycles like this, the newer stars had enough of these elements to become surrounded by protoplanetary disks of dust. From this dust came the planets, including our Earth and all its life.

Yes, as Carl Sagan mused, we are stardust: from this dust we came and to dust we shall return