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Cosmic Clowning: Stephen Hawking’s “new” theory of everything is the same old CRAP


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I’ve always thought of Stephen Hawking—whose new book The Grand Design (Bantam 2010), co-written with Leonard Mlodinow, has become an instant bestseller—less as a scientist than as a cosmic, comic performance artist, who loves goofing on his fellow physicists and the rest of us.

This penchant was already apparent in 1980, when the University of Cambridge named Hawking Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, the chair held three centuries earlier by Isaac Newton. Many would have been cowed into caution by such an honor. But in his inaugural lecture, “Is the End in Sight for Theoretical Physics?”, Hawking predicted that physics was on the verge of a unified theory so potent and complete that it would bring the field to a close. The theory would not only unite relativity and quantum mechanics into one tidy package and “describe all possible observations.” It would also tell us why the big bang banged and spawned our weird world rather than something entirely different.

At the end of his speech Hawking slyly suggested that, given the “rapid rate of development” of computers, they might soon become so smart that they “take over altogether” in physics. “So maybe the end is in sight for theoretical physicists,” he said, “if not for theoretical physics.” This line was clearly intended as a poke in his colleagues’ ribs. Wouldn’t it be ironic if our mindless machines usurped our place as discoverers of Cosmic Truth? Hilarious!

The famous last line of Hawking’s monumental bestseller A Brief History of Time (Bantam 1988) was also a joke, although many people didn’t get it at the time. A final theory of physics, Hawking declared, “would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we should know the mind of God.” Hawking seemed to imply that physics was going to come full circle back to its spiritual roots, yielding a mystical revelation that tells us not just what the universe is but why it is. Science and religion are compatible after all! Yay!

But Hawking ain’t one of these New Agey, feel-good physicist–deists like John Barrow, Paul Davies, Freeman Dyson or other winners of the Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. Deep inside Brief History Hawking showed his true colors when he discussed the no-boundary proposal, which holds that the entire history of the universe, all of space and time, forms a kind of four-dimensional sphere. The proposal implies that speculation about the beginning or end of the universe is as meaningless as talking about the beginning or end of a sphere.

In the same way a unified theory of physics might be so seamless, perfect and complete that it even explains itself. “What place, then, for a creator?” Hawking asked. There is no place, he replied. Or rather, a final theory would eliminate the need for a God, a creator, a designer. Hawking’s first wife, a devout Christian, knew what he was up to. After she and Hawking divorced in the early 1990s she revealed that one of the reasons was his scorn for religion.

Hawking’s atheism is front and center in Grand Design. In an excerpt Hawking and Mlodinow declare, “There is a sound scientific explanation for the making of our world—no Gods required.” But Hawking is, must be, kidding once again. The “sound scientific explanation” is M-theory, which Hawking calls (in a blurb for Amazon) “the only viable candidate for a complete ‘theory of everything’.”

Actually M-theory is just the latest iteration of string theory, with membranes (hence the M) substituted for strings. For more than two decades string theory has been the most popular candidate for the unified theory that Hawking envisioned 30 years ago. Yet this popularity stems not from the theory’s actual merits but rather from the lack of decent alternatives and the stubborn refusal of enthusiasts to abandon their faith.

M-theory suffers from the same flaws that string theories did. First is the problem of empirical accessibility. Membranes, like strings, are supposedly very, very tiny—as small compared with a proton as a proton is compared with the solar system. This is the so-called Planck scale, 10^–33 centimeters. Gaining the kind of experimental confirmation of membranes or strings that we have for, say, quarks would require a particle accelerator 1,000 light-years around, scaling up from our current technology. Our entire solar system is only one light-day around, and the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful accelerator, is 27 kilometers in circumference.

Hawking recognized long ago that a final theory—because it would probably involve particles at the Planck scale—might never be experimentally confirmable. “It is not likely that we shall have accelerators powerful enough” to test a unified theory “within the foreseeable future—or indeed, ever,” he said in his 1980 speech at Cambridge. He nonetheless hoped that in lieu of empirical evidence physicists would discover a theory so logically inevitable that it excluded all alternatives.

Quite the opposite has happened. M-theory, theorists now realize, comes in an almost infinite number of versions, which “predict” an almost infinite number of possible universes. Critics call this the “Alice’s restaurant problem,” a reference to the refrain of the old Arlo Guthrie folk song: “You can get anything you want at Alice’s restaurant.” Of course, a theory that predicts everything really doesn’t predict anything, and hence isn’t a theory at all. Proponents, including Hawking, have tried to turn this bug into a feature, proclaiming that all the universes “predicted” by M-theory actually exist. “Our universe seems to be one of many,” Hawking and Mlodinow assert.

Why do we find ourselves in this particular universe rather than in one with, say, no gravity or only two dimensions, or a Bizarro world in which Glenn Beck is a left-wing rather than right-wing nut? To answer this question, Hawking invokes the anthropic principle, a phrase coined by physicist Brandon Carter in the 1970s. The anthropic principle comes in two versions. The weak anthropic principle, or WAP, holds merely that any cosmic observer will observe conditions, at least locally, that make the observer’s existence possible. The strong version, SAP, says that the universe must be constructed so as to make observers possible.

The anthropic principle has always struck me as so dumb that I can’t understand why anyone takes it seriously. It’s cosmology’s version of creationism. WAP is tautological and SAP is teleological. The physicist Tony Rothman, with whom I worked at Scientific American in the 1990s, liked to say that the anthropic principle in any form is completely ridiculous and hence should be called CRAP.

In his 1980 speech in Cambridge Hawking mentioned the anthropic principle—which he paraphrased as “Things are as they are because we are”—as a possible explanation for the fact that our cosmos seems to be fine-tuned for our existence. But he added that “one cannot help feeling that there is some deeper explanation.”

Like millions of other people I admire Hawking’s brilliance, wit, courage and imagination. His prophecy of the end of physics inspired me to write The End of Science (which he called “garbage”). Hawking also played a central role in one of the highlights of my career. It dates back to the summer of 1990, when I attended a symposium in a remote Swedish resort on “The Birth and Early Evolution of Our Universe.” The meeting was attended by 30 of the world’s most prominent cosmologists, including Hawking.

Toward the end of the meeting, everyone piled into a bus and drove to a nearby village to hear a concert in a Lutheran church. When the scientists entered the church, it was already packed. The orchestra, a motley assortment of blond-haired youths and wizened, bald elders clutching violins, clarinets and other instruments, was seated at the front of the church. Their neighbors jammed the balconies and seats at the rear of the building.

The scientists filed down the center aisle to pews reserved for them at the front of the church. Hawking led the way in his motorized wheelchair. The townspeople started to clap, tentatively at first, then passionately. These religious folk seemed to be encouraging the scientists, and especially Hawking, in their quest to solve the riddle of existence.

Now, Hawking is telling us that unconfirmable M-theory plus the anthropic tautology represents the end of that quest. If we believe him, the joke’s on us.

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  1. 1. archee 1:12 pm 09/18/2010

    John Horgan—stop writing anything ever again! Who pays you to write this dribble

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  2. 2. way2ec 9:31 pm 09/18/2010

    Great article to have provoked such an assortment of reactions. I have to agree with Hawkings, there was no need for a God to "create" the Universe, especially if one’s definition of God is that God is everything, everywhere, and outside of time. Since our puny brains and limited senses can’t "grok" God, have NO IDEA as to what the physics or "prephysics" of the Big Bang entails, it would seem that God continues to elude our attempts to contain, define, delineate, "mathematize" either the act of Creation (our Big Bang) or Creation itself, multiple universes or this one that has so nicely allowed itself to become part of our awareness of it and of ourselves. The rest of the references to humor? God gets the first and last laugh, especially since there are those that claim that "He" made us in "His" image (apologies to all women, or perhaps they get to laugh even harder). Hawkings has the proper irreverence to put God outside of physics and Creation. We should all get past the clockworks of the universe as well as the need to have a clockmaker. And I agree with John Horgan, Hawkings has always had a smirk, as well he should. His humor is sometimes as profound as his need for it. Bet he would be the first among us to get one of God’s Cosmic jokes, Big Bangs and All.

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  3. 3. Dr. Paradox 10:51 am 09/19/2010

    People, you’re not paying attention. In this post Horgan said that Hawking "inspired me to write The End of Science". In his last post, Horgan said "My guess is that the more we learn about the universe, the more mysterious it will become. Which means of course that neither science nor religion will ever end."

    What you SHOULD be asking is, Does this represent a change of attitude on Horgan’s part? And if so, WHAT PROMPTED IT? Fair question, given the nature of this screed against M-theory…

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  4. 4. Klortho 12:16 pm 09/19/2010

    I just finished "The Grand Design", and, having seen John Horgan on bhtv before, and knowing that he’s repulsed by the Anthropic Principle, I Googled, and found this article. I thought Hawking did an admirable job using the AP in the book to argue for many universes, and was curious to see if what Horgan’s reaction would be.
    Upon learning the acronym CRAP, "Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle", and reading Horgan’s rebuttal of the concept, I’m just left dismayed and appalled.
    I agree that the WAP is tautological. But to call the AP in general "cosmology’s version of creationism" is unwarranted. Creationists attempt to explain the apparent fine-tuning of the universe with an all-powerful creator-god. Hawking, in his book, and proponents of SAP in general, attempt to explain it by asserting that many (or all) universes with different physical laws do exist, and the one we find ourselves in is necessarily one with apparent fine-tuning.
    He dismisses SAP by saying it’s "teleological" — which I take to mean that he thinks proponents invoke it to say that the universe somehow exists for "the purpose" of bringing us into being. I don’t understand this, and I would like some elaboration. I see SAP as an argument for the existence of a panoply of universes with different physical laws. If many universes really do exist, then WAP and SAP are the same thing. So is Horgan saying that the idea of many universes is as ridiculous as the idea of a creator-god?
    Hawking does a good job in his book of arguing that the fine-tuning is real, and is something that requires explanation. The universe has a myriad different properties and physical constants that, if they differed by even a little bit, would make the evolution of life impossible. Would Horgan argue that this is not something that requires explanation? The whole purpose of science is to explain anomalous phenomenon that we observe. This fine-tuning definitely falls into that category. If not God, then what could possibly be the explanation?
    I really want to ask you, John Horgan, don’t you see that: if one rejects the notion of a divine "fine tuner"; then every observation that appears to be fine-tuned (of a property that *otherwise would be free to vary*), based on the SAP, provides an argument in support of many universes? And that this is a non-trivial (non-tautological) assertion?

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  5. 5. jtdwyer 1:53 am 09/20/2010

    The most convenient aspect of any proposition for additional, separate universes is that it is untestable. If any exchange occurs between universes, potentially providing physical evidence, they are not separate. We are free to safely dream on, with no further interruption…

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  6. 6. frankenberry 2:12 am 09/20/2010

    Bravo. The scientist tells us how reality works, not why it exists. The irony is that cosmologists thought themselves superior to the spiritualists, and in the end what they had to say was just as specious, only it was void of any redeeming human meaning. It was Alice in Wonderland, only darker. Why don’t we just tell it as it is: Hawking wants to know why a brilliant mind is marooned inside a body with neuro-muscular dystrophy, whilst the riff-raff of the street and the rot of the prisons suffer no such fate. It is a horrific injustice. Why is life so wickedly unfair if God is so gloriously loving? I wish I had an answer. But I’ll tell you this, M theory and the WAP/SAP/CRAP has no answer either.

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  7. 7. Godexist 4:24 am 09/20/2010

    Oh hi PHySiCs !!

    Common Man: How are you? When will you reveal in your grand form or in at least mathematical equations? Tell me who created you , what are your building blocks.

    God particle (defines itself): I’m the last building block, I cannot be created nor be destroyed, but i continue to exist.

    Common Man: Does it means a ‘Steady state in Quantum ?’

    God particle: That is left for Hawking to answer that.

    Comman Man: You are CRAP(common ridicules answer by physicist)

    God particle: I’m unmoved by your comments

    Common Man: Oh my God!

    God particle: Now what!

    Common Man: I have realized !!!
    Iso Invocation: The Personality of Godhead is perfect and complete, and because He is completely perfect, all emanations from Him, such as this phenomenal world, are perfectly equipped as complete wholes. Whatever is produced of the Complete Whole is also complete in itself. Because He is the Complete Whole, even though so many complete units emanate from Him, He remains the complete balance.

    Iso 1: Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself, which are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong.

    Iso 2: One may aspire to live for hundreds of years if he continuously goes on working in that way, for that sort of work will not bind him to the law of karma. There is no alternative to this way for man.

    Iso 3: The killer of the soul, whoever he may be, must enter into the planets known as the worlds of the faithless, full of darkness and ignorance.

    Iso 4: Although fixed in His abode, the Personality of Godhead is swifter than the mind and can overcome all others running. The powerful demigods cannot approach Him. Although in one place, He controls those who supply the air and rain. He surpasses all in excellence.

    Iso 5: The Supreme Lord walks and does not walk. He is far away, but He is very near as well. He is within everything, and yet He is outside of everything.

    Iso 6: He who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything or any being.

    Iso 7: One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?

    Iso 8: Such a person must factually know the greatest of all, the Personality of Godhead, who is unembodied, omniscien

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  8. 8. fuzzball 9:39 am 09/20/2010

    I thought I was reading something from one of the supermarket fishwrap tabloids. I have lost a great deal of respect for SciAm seeing this here. I have been reading SciAm since the early days of Gardner and the mathematical recreations column when SciAm was a real science magazine. Now I don’t know what to call it.

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  9. 9. KatherineVRowe 1:20 pm 09/20/2010

    http://instabilityofzero.blogspot.com/

    My (brand new) blog about the place where science and religion meet. No personal agenda whatsoever, just want to further the possibility of a cohesive Theory of Everything.

    I definitely lean more towards science than religion myself, but good science is necessarily free of expectations, and must follow the evidence.

    The blog is just getting started, so I’d love comments – arguments, thoughts or suggestions are all welcome.

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  10. 10. jtdwyer 1:48 pm 09/20/2010

    David Cota – I do not consider the quests for dark energy or dark matter to be valid.

    I consider the analyses of gravitational effects that seem to require the presence of additional mass not included in astronomers’ estimations, intended to be supplied by the proposed dark matter, to be simply in error. To be succinct, I’ll refer to an unpublished essay of my own and a published analysis:
    http://sciencewithoutfiction.com/uploads/Mass_Distribution-_Galaxy_Rotation_Problem.pdf
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0806.1131

    As I understand, primarily from “Observational Evidence from Supernovae for an Accelerating Universe and a Cosmological Constant”, 1998, Riess, et al, http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9805201v1 , the requirement for dark energy arose primarily from a common misperception in astrophysics.

    Having most precisely determined that the most distant galaxies must be accelerating away from their observers at a greater rate than nearer galaxies, it was concluded that the expansion rate of the universe is increasing.

    However, those more ancient light emissions indicating greater rates of expansion reflect the expansion rate of the earlier universe. Those precise observations only confirm the expected deceleration of the universe.

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  11. 11. gesimsek 5:03 pm 09/20/2010

    May be the time has come to think about why we are here than where we are as human beings. Understanding the laws of nature did not make us happier or wiser and comparing ourselves with other species did not give us a clue about what it is to be human. As the ancient wisdom told us, we are here to realize our potential to be fully human, which does not mean survival of the fittest like the other beasts of nature. We are here to be the vicegerent of god, in the sense that we should act not on the basis of natural laws (name it karma!) but according to god given moral principles, which makes us different from animal kingdom, hence, human.

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  12. 12. jtdwyer 10:06 pm 09/20/2010

    David Cota – Thanks for your specific questions, David. Unfortunately, I am not a scholar, mathematician or astrophysicist but a lame old technical fellow. However, I’ll do my best to explain, as I understand, but please remember that the astrophysics community has been refining the standard hypotheses for forty years now.

    “Please explain where the 95% of the missing mass is.”
    The 95% figure is considered to be currently composed of dark matter (23%) and dark energy (72%). The dark matter estimate is, as I understand, primarily based on the estimates of spiral galaxy mass from observed galaxy luminosity and the observed orbital velocity of their stars at varying distances from their geometric center. The dark matter estimated is the amount of additional mass necessary to produce the observed galactic rotation using Kepler’s planetary orbital equations. This method effectively ignores the gravitational effects of the mass of innumerable additional stars within the galactic disc.

    The amount of missing mass was initially estimated to the amount required to align observed galaxy rotation with the Keplerian rotational curve derived from our Solar system. However, this estimate had to be increased significantly when it was realized that large amounts of peripheral gaseous clouds were also rotating much faster than Kepler would have expected. It’s all about adjusting our observations to our expectations…

    “Andromeda has been estimated to have between 100,000,000,000 to 200,00,000,000 starts not 1,000,000,000,000 as you claim in your document.”
    The estimated one trillion stars is a quote from wikipedia’s Andromeda galaxy entry, an estimate based on observations made in 2006 by the Spitzer Space Telescope infrared detectors. I make no claim on my own and include an estimate only for illustrative purposes.

    “If the effect you describe was correct there would be issues of what is happening at the core of the galaxy…”
    The effect I attempt to describe is the self gravitation of the galactic discs of spiral galaxies, which does not apply to the galactic core. I think that the galactic core region is primarily governed by the gravitational effect of the central supermassive black hole. By the way, it has been widely reported that galactic supermassive black holes invariably contain 0.5% of total estimated galactic mass. In comparison, the Sun contains 98.8% of total Solar system mass. These orbital systems are not comparable: the Keplerian Rotational Curve simply does not apply and should not have been applied to galaxies.

    “You fail to account for the earlier than expected birth of galaxies at a time when ordinary matter would not have had time to develop the infant galaxies (quasars).”
    I can only respond that this assertion contains many unproven assumptions. One possibility is that supermassive black holes were produced by the extreme densities of the very early universe…

    The currently established cosmological model contains so many unproven presumptions that it’s unlikely to survive as the final solution that cosmologists are so proud to present. Once again, it seems, we have just about figured it all out… Thanks again.

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  13. 13. Laertes 9:40 am 09/21/2010

    The anthropic principle puts me in mind of Candide in which Professor Pangloss affirms, every chance he gets, that this must be the most perfect of all possible worlds because God created it.

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  14. 14. legrand039 4:09 pm 09/21/2010

    for those of you interested in a different viewpoint, check out Robert Lanza’s theory of biocentrism. it’s probably unfalsifiable but, isn’t quantum theory as well?

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  15. 15. jtdwyer 4:15 pm 09/21/2010

    David Cota – Yes, it is difficult to explain, but as I understand this image includes generated dark matter filaments projected to be connecting galactic clusters at all scales – it is not an actual observational image but the construction of an enhanced model generated from composite observational data. I cannot explain in the correct terminology of general relativity, but I’ll do my best.

    The observed universe appears to us as a generally spherical form, with nearby galaxies surrounding our location, stretching out to more distant galaxies appearing at the periphery of the observed universe. This is the natural, spatial, perspective of our observations of the sky.

    However, the most distant light observed was not emitted from the spatial periphery of our current universe. The apparent `most distant’ objects are indicated by the detection of photons whose characteristic redshift and luminosity indicate that they were emitted long ago and have been traversing expanding spacetime since emission. These light emissions did not come from distant locations in any current spacetime but from a much earlier time.

    Observed distant objects do not now exist as they appear to us from ancient light emissions. Apparent distant clusters of galaxies have likely long ago merged to produce larger, more disperse galaxies now existing at distant locations that cannot now be observed because of the traversal time of more recent light emissions.

    It therefore is meaningless to view a composite spacial representation of detected light emissions from observed objects, since it actually represents objects as they appeared in recent time going back to very ancient times. It would be like making a composite model of the highway systems in the US, starting at the East coast in 1700, progressing across the country to the west coast in 2010. No meaningful representation of physical structure at any moment can be made of such a composite of observational data.

    I hope this helps explain that the now famous image of the universe structure is meaningless – attempting to find meaning in it is futile.

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  16. 16. mlrb2113 5:16 pm 09/21/2010

    Great article and probably right on. Stephen will never tell, though.

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  17. 17. SOLRAC2001 6:20 pm 09/21/2010

    The Briefest History of Time
    Or
    A Letter to Mr. Stephen Hawking

    Dear Mr. Hawking,

    Being neither scientist nor astrophysicist, it is with great humility that I address myself to you, to, dare I say, differ with you on the major premises presented in your now legendary book of which I took the liberty of parodying, above. Im sure youre quite used to being disputed or disagreed with by illuminati as well as fools, or both, and in danger of following suit or sounding like that feisty old lady, in your introduction to your book, protesting that it was turtles all the way down I would seriously like to challenge you and your soul-mates to re-examine premises laid down, some in the halcyon yesteryear, some not such a long time ago, and others yet to come.

    You, and others like you have noted that mankind is limited by the very faculties, our brains and all of our senses, that help and have helped us understand and even manipulate our environment a little ( e.g., from the humblest Aristotles experiments in his attempts to explain gravity by rolling boulders of different sizes down hills, or his ingenious realization that all matter was like the sandcomposed of smaller particles or atoms to our reasonably more sophisticated if not complex experiments at CERN, NASA, ESA, etc.) or even escape it, at least, temporarily in moon trips and now, the ISS.

    Herein lies the quandary, for although much has been achieved, our physical as well as intellectual limitations are an absolute cul-de-sac. As one of your colleagues put it in a lecture aired by the BBC on June 20, this year, Mr. Martin Rees of the Royal Society of Science, &Einsteins ideas would baffle a chimpanzee , when pondering on what would happen if man were to be confronted with superior alien minds. This is the crux of the matter. We, Mr. Reess chimpanzee are simply ill equipped to unravel or even be able to conceive of, or envisage the true essence of things great and small, their origins, and or, the reason(s) why they are here, there, and everywhere.

    I prefer my own parable which, although not based on the unfortunate ape or turtles, is based on what a praying mantis would do when presented with a sheet of paper. At first, it would contemplate it from a close distance witnessing its seemingly infinite span and eventually it would board it and once upon it, it would believe it to be its cosmos, endless and unlimited, yet while on the one side of the sheet, it would be totally unaware of the existence of the other side, or side B, of the sheet of paper. Mr. Reese, in his speech suggested that our cosmos could be like an origami. If thats the case then we are like that insect looking for the beginnings of the proverbial sheet and its boundaries if anyyet totally unaware of the origamis parallel worlds, warps and quirks as well as kinks, and much less aware of the cosmos beyond the origamis convolutions and manifold.

    The milestones weve achieved, and there have been many, are notable. From Aristotle to Galilee and Newton to Einstein, yet time and time again, their contributions, and I dare say yours included, although monumental and ingenious, still fall short when it comes to explaining the very things they set out to explain. These include time, space, or the universe, its synonym (interestingly, universum in Latin has a very figurative as well as literal meaning: the one-matter scattered or cast at once), or gravity, light and its very nature, atoms–the DNA of matter, dark matter or light matter, for that matter, etc. Evidence of the shortcomings are the latest and wayward disarray of theories that claim to have found the very thing that underpins the cosmos and beyond, i.e., the Strings Theory, the Chaos Theory, the Big-Bang Theory, the Quantum Theory, the M Theory or the omniscience-theory (the theory to explain all things), the Higgs boson particles- aka the God particle–being sought after at CERN, neutrinos, quantum physics, dark matter, black holes, time travel&the list is long and doubtlessly, it will continue. May I remind you of Platos Cave wherein its inhabitants came to believe that the world, or should I say, cosmos, consisted of, well, you knowshadows. Our situation is not very different. The American expression a shot in the dark or taking potshots would not be very inaccurate in describing our vane efforts to explain—everything.
    I am aware of the fact that we have no choice in the matter and must make full use of the faculties and qualities that have been endowed upon us, by whomI dare not speculate.

    Yet, I maintain that unless we are to escape our own very human if not inhumane limitations by means of, for example, artificial intelligence of a supreme sortnot a very implausible milestone if I may saycreated by mankind or imposed upon it by exterior sources, we will be doomed to forever tread on the endless planes or segments of the interminable and convoluted origami and will continue to gaze at the stars and be baffled, like the proverbial chimp.
    I suppose that given the time—and it may take a few thousand years if not another million–we will accumulate enough knowledge and our brains and other qualities will have evolved sufficiently to be able to not only perceive the unseen and conceive of the unconceivable, but also to fully understand it and be able to manipulate it to our convenience, whatever that may be consequently. Will it be as A.C. Clarke postulated in his brilliantshot in the dark– 2001 A Space Odyssey, the supreme force that inserts the enigmatic monolith on the terrestrial clay or rather and more probably; the miniscule monolith-shaped chip we all call Intel that will be inserted into our hybrid-USBportal-brain implants? Qu ser, ser? Time will tell?

    Time>>Space>>Gravity

    On the question of time and space, which you brilliantly handle in your monogramgiving us the scientists point of viewand which I dont pretend to emulate in any way, I would simply like to make some observations, that, Im sure, have already been made by others. But in the interest of absolute clarity and simplicity I put to you the following. Times as well as space are two phenomena that we, like all other phenomena described by man, have identified as an observable fact, an occurrence, an event, or what have you. Yet, neither time nor space exist in their own right as a tree a fish or a planet do ,observable and concrete as tactile evidence would prove.
    Who was it that said, seeing is believing? This is fine and good for the concrete tangibles in our world but intangibles or abstracts for that matter are, have been, and will always continue to trouble us simply because, well, we cant seem to get our brains around them. Time, space and gravity are the abstracts, par excellence that defy us simply because they dont exist yet somehow we feel their presence, particularly when it comes to gravity, and have even devised means and tools by which we could measure them&the next best thing to seeing or touching them.

    Or could it be that we have conjured up these abstractions simply because they suited us in order to explain the observable e.g., Newtons apocryphal falling apple. Upon pondering on the phenomenon that all things hit the ground if not fixed to it already, he went on to create the mathematics (an abstract measuring tool if ever one existed) that neatly explained this nasty habit of falling that all objects display. Since his day things have changed and we now see the limitations of Newtons law since it seems applicable to bodies in our shadowy world but once we escape its gravitational pull Newtons law falls short itself, no pun intended. And indeed, when it comes to explaining the behaviour of heavenly bodies–as they were so quaintly alluded to in the past—-stars and planets dont collapse into each other as Newtons law would have us believe instead they seem to respect each others distance and the space between them by some unexplainable mechanism&if only we knew which mechanism is responsible &.wed be all the wiser.

    Granted, Newtons and most other laws are useful in certain environments, mainly earthly ones. For how do we account for the expanding, static, or perhaps contracting space? That dark-void we call many things for no lack of words, including, firmament that continues to be there with all of its visible as well as invisible matter in its usual place. Recently, I read about another colleague of yours, that maintains that we, and by we he means our planet and everything that envelops it ( the origami ? ) are caught in a gigantic black hole, which might account for why space seems to be stretching itself endlessly on end. Did he say a black hole or a dark cave? Forgive my facetious pun but do you see the similarity here between Platos metaphor and your colleagues apocalyptic revelation?

    The point is that space, time, and gravity are abstracts, voids identified, measured and labelled by man and his limited, self concocted tools to help humanity understand them. But, the question remains, are we up to the challenge and do we have the wherewithal to understand the inexplicable? We can keep trying and our duty is to do just that but I doubt that we are up to the challengefor the time being anyhow.

    PS—I just heard your public proclamation to the effect that the creation of the universe does not require the intervention of some supernatural being or god.
    Its about time you came out of the closet!

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  18. 18. jtdwyer 8:01 pm 09/21/2010

    David Cota – Thanks for the kind remarks. I’m really more of a back-yard mechanic who relies on common sense to figure things out for myself, but I have tried to understand quantum entanglement. I’ll try to pass along what I now think.

    I think that the particle-wave duality issue comes down to all material elements manifesting as a self propagating energy wave linearly dispersed throughout spacetime whenever they are ‘in motion’. When manifesting as particles, they are stationary and not ‘in motion’: their motive energy is configured as an external field of internally directed (self opposed) potential energy known as particle mass.

    The most massive particles (such as quarks) were produced in the densest conditions (such as the early universe): they could almost never manifest as motive waves since their linear motion was obstructed and density was so great that their emission en energy could not be reabsorbed. That produced their particle state manifestation, most of the time or probability. That’s why atoms ‘wiggle’.

    Photons, in contrast, were emitted into lower density conditions (of the later universe) rarely (as a probability) manifest as a particle unless their emission energy/momentum is absorbed by an obstructing mass.

    Quantisized light is an emission of wave energy that, when absorbed, will manifest as a single photon.

    Wave energy can be optically redirected (by a mirror) and even split into multiple directions (like a forked stream of water). As a singular beam of light linearly propagating in multiple directions, any alterations that are imparted to the light wave’s characteristic properties apply to the entire (singular) wave. As each individually directed beam is individually absorbed or detected, an individual photon reflects the (then) current state the characteristic properties of the light wave. As long as no alterations occur between the separate photon detections, they will all reflect identical property states.

    That’s how I currently envision the mechanical processes of particle/wave duality, quantum mass and quantum entanglement. I think this represents all observational data: if I’m missing anything modifications would be required. I tend to focus on what I think works…

    P.S. The density or temperature of the emitting elements determines mass, particle/wave probability, etc.: the temporal density of the universe performs the particle selection function attributed to the ‘Higgs Field’. I don’t think there is a Higgs boson, since IMO mass is an external particle field.

    Link to this
  19. 19. robert schmidt 8:38 pm 09/21/2010

    @jtdwyer, "I think that the particle-wave duality issue" there is no issue. Particles and waves are concepts we apply to these phenomenon to help us understand them. They are models and as such they have a limited application. They do not imply by extension all the same limits on the system being modelled that are inherent in the model itself. For example, I could say life is a river. It has a beginning and end, it twists and turns, etc. But regardless of all the features that rivers and life have in common the analogy does not imply that life is made of water or erodes the landscape. Photons are neither particles nor waves, they are photons. We talk about photons as particles in one context and as waves in another. That’s it. No need to invent a hypothesis to explain the "duality". The "duality" only exists for armchair scientists who want to sound clever.

    Link to this
  20. 20. jtdwyer 12:16 am 09/23/2010

    The intent of your continuously critical comments always seems to be to prove that you’re the smartest kid in the class. It doesn’t matter.
    My casual use of the term `issue’ in discussing particle-wave duality did not warrant your sophomoric lecture on the `river of life’, much less justify your customary derisive remarks. Certainly there have been long standing contentious debates of this issue in the past, and there is even some disagreement among real scientists today – please check your references. This trivial point is not a topic for further discussion.

    Strangely, real scientists and non-scientists alike often describe photons as traversing spacetime. Likewise your dumbfounding statement, intended to be clever, "Photons are neither particles nor waves, they are photons." In fact, photons, like other identified `fundamental particles’ are considered to exhibit the characteristic properties of either waves or particles. I do not think that photons simultaneously exhibit the distinct characteristics of both photon particles and light waves, as you imply in your statements, “We talk about photons as particles in one context and as waves in another. That’s it”. I think these views are products of the historical confusion about particle-wave duality. In any case, for my purpose I found it necessary to distinguish between these two discrete states of matter.

    Link to this
  21. 21. jtdwyer 1:18 am 09/23/2010

    Quantum Entanglement… Particle-Wave Duality (cont.)

    [Disclaimer: I am not attempting to represent established explanations consistent with any theory or textbook but merely my own speculations regarding physical reality. As such, their value is limited to the extent that they might someday be shown to correctly describe actual conditions. Please do not challenge my assertions on the basis of their contradicting established references - I acknowledge that they likely do. Please let me know if they conflict with experimental evidence.]

    I am proposing that light is emitted as an energy wave and is manifested as photon particles only when detected by the material absorption of is momentum. I think this may be already generally understood by most particle physicists.

    I also propose that quarks, for example, are primarily manifested as stationary particles with characteristic spin and mass, intermittently manifesting as wave energy, briefly propagating in the direction determined by its last particle spin before once again manifesting as a particle. This specific combination of effects produces random, short duration movements, aggregating as a seemingly random ‘shimmy’ motion.

    Furthermore, I suggest that the duration or incidence of wave state manifestation is primarily an inverse function of the identified characteristic mass simply because identified mass is simply a function of the duration or incidence of particle state manifestations, and that the characteristic motions that can be associated with each fundamental particle is a function of its particle/wave state manifestation along with their spin and charge characteristics. For example, the photon has no rest mass and propagates linearly because the probability of it manifesting in its particle state, exhibiting mass and spin properties, prior to material absorption is effectively null.

    These propositions combine to provide a potentially viable explanation for the characteristic motion of atoms. I don’t think that this phenomenon has previously been explained by science, but then I’m neither a scientist nor a scholar.

    Link to this
  22. 22. jtdwyer 1:31 am 09/23/2010

    I’ll attempt a respond to one point in you comment (re-edited for legibility):
    "And indeed, when it comes to explaining the behavior of heavenly bodies …stars and planets don’t collapse into each other as Newton’s law would have us believe instead they seem to respect each others’ distance and the space between them by some unexplainable mechanism. If only we knew which mechanism is responsible, we’d be all the wiser."

    Perhaps Newton’s imaginary attractive force vectors between two objects effectively represented the net effect of two intersecting opposingly directed force fields. In this scenario, the collective potential velocity of aggregated mass (for spherical objects) radially contracts the energy of spacetime, just as linear momentum linearly contracts spacetime. The locally contracted spacetime forms an external force field surrounding objects of mass that imparts velocity to matter. The vector summation of the intersection of two gravitational fields is the effective equivalent of a gravitational attraction vector in classical mechanics.

    Small body objects within the gravitational field of a massive object accelerate in the direction of its center of mass at the velocity proportional to its mass, effectively irrespective of the small body’s mass.

    Two objects of comparative mass are each accelerated in the direction of the others’ center of mass, proportional to its mass, up to the point at which compression of the opposingly directed force fields produces resistance to further motion. This resistive phenomenon preferentially produces the orbital motions of massive objects rather than their direct collision.

    I hope this scenario may give someone some useful insights – it’s the best I can offer right now.

    Link to this
  23. 23. robert schmidt 10:58 am 09/23/2010

    @jdwyer, "The intent of your continuously critical comments always seems to be to prove that you re the smartest kid in the class." as opposed to your long winded made-up B.S. Ya, that’s not a cry for attention. You’re like some kid trying to explain why Santa Klaus is real without the cute and amusing bits. I find it tedious that you think you have soul right to freedom of speech. Everyone else has the freedom to shut up and listen to your nonsense. Criticism is the cornerstone of the logical process. If you want to play scientist you have to take the good with the bad.

    Link to this
  24. 24. jtdwyer 11:16 am 09/23/2010

    Your personal insults hardly constitute constructive criticism.

    Link to this
  25. 25. alan.bright.76 1:17 pm 09/24/2010

    I truly agree with author. Look at the comments, most of them have no proper answer except "this is insult to our hero so it must be illogical" type attitude. Fact mentioned in here are very clear. For M theory, you need 11 dimensions and membranes those are planc length! How exactly is this better in logic and science than the concept of god itself? Scientists like Hawkins want to keep denying truth and keep the objective perspective towards science which has limitation. There is a lot better theory offered by Eastern countries such as India in ites Vedic literature.

    Link to this
  26. 26. alan.bright.76 1:22 pm 09/24/2010

    I truly agree with author. Look at the comments, most of them have no proper answer except "this is insult to our hero so it must be illogical" type attitude. Fact mentioned in here are very clear. For M theory, you need 11 dimensions and membranes those are planc length! How exactly is this better in logic and science than the concept of god itself? Scientists like Hawkins want to keep denying truth and keep the objective perspective towards science which has limitation. There is a lot better theory offered by Eastern countries such as India in ites Vedic literature.

    Link to this
  27. 27. akl1951 4:33 am 09/30/2010

    The current controversy regarding Hawking’s latest book, `The Grand Design’ results from the celebrated scientist’s limited vision about `origins’ (of life and universe). Perhaps Hawking is under false impression that the current knowledge of quantum physics and general theory of relativity alone is sufficient to unearth mystery surrounding `origin of life’, whereas fact of the matter is that `origin of life’ involves deep understanding of diverse sujects such as genetics, astrobiology, and molecular biology besides astrophysics. Ironically, despite considerable advancement in the above cited fields in recent years, science just remains clueless about origin of life.

    Ashwini Kumar Lal, New Delhi

    Link to this
  28. 28. Godexist 4:46 am 10/3/2010

    Ok, Please tell me David suppose LHC detected the Godparticle, what does the godparticle made up off. If your answer is nothing its the ground zero in Physics then I call it CRAP (common ridiculous answer by physicist) You cannot be meaningless to laymen.
    —————-
    All of physics fanatics things are really CRAP, black holes says, eat up anything that comes in its path, tell me where are these things that end up in blackhole end up? You say in another universe, another dimension, passage through wormhole (what we have to believe all these things?)

    Please Please don’t make things complicated, they are simple, its only we try hard to understand in an easier way that makes complication.

    Dark matter, Dark Energy all CRAP CRAP CRAP
    So you mean that there are such things like DARK – MATTER -ENERGY that are unable to be detected my humans, Are they made up of different atoms that defer from what we observe ???

    What the author has written is true.
    These things exist in paper, sorry these things exist in mathematics alone not in physics.

    Link to this
  29. 29. Godexist 4:56 am 10/3/2010

    alan.bright.76 quoted
    ”Scientists like Hawkins want to keep denying truth and keep the objective perspective towards science which has limitation. There is a lot better theory offered by Eastern countries such as India in ites Vedic literature.”

    Actually Hawking doesn’t know the truth neither none of us know the truth.
    The inverse of this is also true.
    Hawking knows something but the something is other than science, but we all know the truth its ‘god’.

    Link to this
  30. 30. akl1951 12:54 am 10/17/2010

    I personally hold Stephen Hawking in very high esteem. It nonetheless does not imply that whatever he writes will be acceptable to everbody.It is wrong to presume that he is infallible.The celebrated scientist appears to have wrongly referred to the `Big Bang Model’ as the viable explanation for origin of the universe in his latest book, ‘The Grand Design’. I am not opposing the largely accepted hypothesis just for the heck of it. There are genuine reasons for this. The redshift controversy, presence of full-bloomed mature galaxies in the very early epoch of the universe as also the presence of superclusters of galaxies interspersed with supervoids in the cosmos are some of the unsolved mysteries that defy plausible explanation by the Big Bang model. I have detailed the prominent inconsistencies with the said model in my paper titled "Big Bang Model? A Critical Review" published in the peer-reviewed US journal, `Journal of Cosmology’ modified version of which is posted at the website: http://vixra.org/pdf/1005.0051v8.pdf . It is ironic that the mainstream cosmologists have remained indifferent to admit the cosmological realities despite the loopholes with the said model repeatedly being pointed out from time to time.

    Link to this
  31. 31. john_m_stanton 2:39 pm 10/22/2010

    What a pity! Both Hawking and Horgan are right to say that a final theory is near. And Horgan is right to write that M theory and string theory are dead. The strand model is a much better candidate for the final theory ( found at http://www.motionmountain.net/fun.html ) and it does make testable predictions, such as a lack of the Higgs bosons and a lack of supersymmetry. It would be great to hear what Hawking and Horgan think about it.

    Link to this
  32. 32. akl1951 7:34 am 10/23/2010

    Redshift Controversy

    As per Hubble’s law, galaxies in the cosmos are observed to recede on account of expansion of universe. However, there remains nagging uncertainty whether the redshift calculated on the basis of Hubble’s law gives true value of the receding galaxies. Some astronomers (Narlikar 1989; Parker 1993; Harrison 1993; Longair 1995) have serious reservations about the authenticity of the galactic velocities catalogued by astronomers using the Hubble’s velocity- distance law, v = Hd. Expansion redshift does not arise from the Doppler effect, nor is the redshift related to velocity by the special relativistic relation, 1+z =[(1+v/c)/(1-v/c)]1/2 (Narlikar 1993). Einstein’s relativistic Doppler formula merely applies to the motion of galaxies through space, it does not apply to the recession of galaxies (Seeds 2007). Moreover, Doppler redshift is bound by the laws of Einstein’s special relativity, which dictates that an object cannot travel faster than the speed of light whereas in the case of cosmological redshift, v > c is possible since the space which separates the objects (e.g. a quasar from the Earth) through a vacuum can expand faster than the speed of light.

    Under the cosmological redshift interpretation, galaxies are not receding simply by a physical velocity in the direction away from the observer; instead, the intervening space is expanding, which accounts for large-scale isotropy of the effect demanded by the cosmological principle (Harrison 1981). In the current cosmological model (Gray and Davies 2008), cosmological redshift z(cos) is described as the observable time-dependent cosmic scale factor (a), governed by the expression,
    1+z(cos)= a(now)/a(then). Bondi (1947) defined cosmological redshift as the summation of the Doppler shift due to an object’s motion through space, and the global gravitational shift (Einstein effect) due to the difference between the potential energy per unit mass at the source and the observer. Mathematically, cosmological redshift is expressed as
    z(cos) = z(dop)+ z(grav),
    where 1+ z(cos) =[(1+v/c)/(1-v/c)]1/2 (1+/c2), and
    is the difference in gravitational potential between the points of emission and reception of a photon, which hints at the Doppler shift not being the correct measure of distance between the source and the observer.

    Ashwini Kumar Lal, New Delhi

    Link to this
  33. 33. akl1951 11:25 am 10/27/2010

    The `Big Bang Model’ has been under controversy for quite some time. Eminent cosmologists like Fred Hoyle, Halton Arp, and Jayant Narlikar have been pinpointing the persisting loopholes with the said model from time to time. Instead of addressing those outstanding issues, advocates of the `Big Bang’ have taken it to be a prestige issue. Keeping in view some recent developments in the field of space science, when I submitted my manuscript titled “Big Bang Model: A Critical Review” incorporating critical analysis of the available scientific facts and results of the various space probes, for publication in a reputed international journal, I received a terrible shock when my paper was arbitrarily rejected despite very strong recommendation by one of the referees appointed by the the editor for review of my paper. The said paper did get enentually published in the April 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed US journal, Journal of Cosmology.Then, subsequent to publcation of the said paper, when I tried to get e-print of the published paper posted at arXiv( the prestigious scientific website maintained by the Cornell University, New York)),I was blacklisted by the arXiv administration on very flimsy ground of having pestered the arXiv adminstration for posting of the article opposing the `Big Bang Model’ at their site. The `Big Bang’ lobbyists just want perpetuation of the status quo in respect of the controversial `Big Bang Model’.

    Ashwini Kumar Lal

    Link to this
  34. 34. akl1951 11:27 am 10/27/2010

    The `Big Bang Model’ has been under controversy for quite some time. Eminent cosmologists like Fred Hoyle, Halton Arp, and Jayant Narlikar have been pinpointing the persisting loopholes with the said model from time to time. Instead of addressing those outstanding issues, advocates of the `Big Bang’ have taken it to be a prestige issue. Keeping in view some recent developments in the field of space science, when I submitted my manuscript titled “Big Bang Model: A Critical Review” incorporating critical analysis of the available scientific facts and results of the various space probes, for publication in a reputed international journal, I received a terrible shock when my paper was arbitrarily rejected despite very strong recommendation by one of the referees appointed by the the editor for review of my paper. The said paper did get enentually published in the April 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed US journal, Journal of Cosmology.Then, subsequent to publcation of the said paper, when I tried to get e-print of the published paper posted at arXiv( the prestigious scientific website maintained by the Cornell University, New York)),I was blacklisted by the arXiv administration on very flimsy ground of having pestered the arXiv adminstration for posting of the article opposing the `Big Bang Model’ at their site. The `Big Bang’ lobbyists just want perpetuation of the status quo in respect of the controversial `Big Bang Model’.

    Link to this
  35. 35. akl1951 11:32 am 10/27/2010

    As per Hubble’s law, galaxies in the cosmos are observed to recede on account of expansion of universe. However, there remains nagging uncertainty whether the redshift calculated on the basis of Hubble’s law gives true value of the receding galaxies. Some astronomers have serious reservations about the authenticity of the galactic velocities catalogued by astronomers using the Hubble’s velocity- distance law, v = Hd. Expansion redshift does not arise from the Doppler effect, nor is the redshift related to velocity by the special relativistic relation,1+z =[(1+v/c)/(1-v/c)]1/2 (Narlikar 1993). Einstein’s relativistic Doppler formula merely applies to the motion of galaxies through space, it does not apply to the recession of galaxies (Seeds 2007). Moreover, Doppler redshift is bound by the laws of Einstein’s special relativity, which dictates that an object cannot travel faster than the speed of light whereas in the case of cosmological redshift, v > c is possible since the space which separates the objects (e.g. a quasar from the Earth) through a vacuum can expand faster than the speed of light.

    Under the cosmological redshift interpretation, galaxies are not receding simply by a physical velocity in the direction away from the observer; instead, the intervening space is expanding, which accounts for large-scale isotropy of the effect demanded by the cosmological principle (Harrison 1981). In the current cosmological model (Gray and Davies 2008), cosmological redshift z(cos) is described as the observable time-dependent cosmic scale factor (a), governed by the expression,1+z(cos)= a(now)/a(then). Bondi (1947) defined cosmological redshift as the summation of the Doppler shift due to an object’s motion through space, and the global gravitational shift (Einstein effect) due to the difference between the potential energy per unit mass at the source and the observer. Mathematically, cosmological redshift is expressed as
    z(cos) = z(dop)+ z(grav),
    where 1+ z(cos) =[(1+v/c)/(1-v/c)]1/2 (1+/c2), and is the difference in gravitational potential between the points of emission and reception of a photon, which hints at the Doppler shift not being the correct measure of distance between the source and the observer.

    Ashwini Kumar Lal, New Delhi

    Link to this
  36. 36. akl1951 12:45 am 10/31/2010

    The celebrated scientist, Stephen Hawking appears to have wrongly referred to the `Big Bang Model’ as viable explanation for origin of the universe in his latest book, ‘The Grand Design’. The review paper titled ‘Big Bang Model? A Critical Review’ published in the peer-reviewed US journal, ‘Journal of Cosmology’(modified version of which is available at the wesite :
    http://vixra.org/pdf/1005.0051v8.pdf ) has detailed prominent inconsistencies with the said model. The persisting redshift controversy pinpointed by several cosmologists in the past, presence of full-bloomed galaxies with higher metallicity in the very early epoch of the universe, and presence of superclusters of galaxies and supervoids in the cosmos are some of the unsolved mysteries which remain inexplicable by the Big Bang model. It is ironic that the mainstream cosmologists have remained indifferent to admit the cosmological realities despite the loopholes with the said model repeatedly being pointed out from time to time.Ironically, Hawking’s immense popularity as a popular science writer hinges on success of his widely popular book, ‘A Brief History of Time’ that is all about the origin of the universe. Authencity of the information contained in these books depends on the validity of the ‘Big Bang Model’.When the said model itself in mired in deep controversy, what Hawking has been preaching to the world is a mere gossip without element of authenticity.

    Readers may also like to browse posting no. 435 on page 44 of the thread :’Stephen Hawking: God was not needed to create the Universe’ at the website :
    http://www.politics.ie/education-science/137173-stephen-hawking-god-not-needed-create-universe-44.html .

    ashwini Kumar Lal

    Link to this
  37. 37. ReaderX 7:57 am 11/6/2010

    On the whole I can’t see what’s wrong about what John wrote. By the look of it, there seems not much new in Hawking’s book after books from authors like Brian Greene, Michio Kaku and Lisa Randall.
    Zhe M-theory does not make any predictions. There are no measurement data which would support this theory, as Roger Penrose wrote in his review of Hawking’s book in the "Financial Times" of 4/5 Sept. 2010. Apart from it, even the Nobel Prize laureate Gerhard ‘t Hooft said that the M-theory did not explain any observable phenomena.
    When Isaac Newton researched mechanics, he was able to invent a new kind of mathematics (i.e. calculus) which he then made to to fit to physics.In contrast to it, the string theory is based on mathematics – in fact it could not even exist without mathematics, i.e. physics had to be made to fit to mathematics, even though it does not really fit: e.g. in the 5-D Kaluza-Klein theory the mass of the electron is too large (so-called "large mass problem") and the gravitational constant in the string theory is too large. One must keep in mind that 11-D spaces of the string theory are of Kaluza-Klein sort. But even before the development of the M-theory A. Einstein said: "One gets the impression that modern physics is based on assumptions, which somehow resemble the smile of a cat that is not there." David Lindley wrote in 1993 in his book "The end of physics – the myth of a unified theory": "Superstring theory may be a perfect, unique creation, a singular piece of mathematics. But it contains, apparently, the makings of a million different imperfect worlds, all equally possible." (i.e. the multiverse) And David Peat wrote already in 1988 in his book "Superstrings and the search for the theory of everything": "On one hand, there are mathematical excursions with no deep foundation;…And so the deepest questions remain. But at least more and more physicists are realizing that a crisis does indeed exist in physics,…”
    And as far as the Big Bang is concerned, fairly recently there is a new cosmological theory from Wun-Yi Shu, without a Big Bang and without singularities.
    It is also nothing new to declare philosophy for dead, as Hawking did. John Horgan has done it long before him in his book "The end of science" already in 1996.
    At the end to the question whether there is a connection between the science and the religion. For example, the Irish poet Oscar Wilde said already in 1900 that science is the history of dead religions…

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  38. 38. sridattadev 2:41 pm 11/12/2010

    Who am I? I am in this universe as much as it is in I.
    What is I? I is sphere full of love. I is the singularity.
    Imagination is more important than knowledge,
    for all that we know is just an imagination.

    http://sridattadev-theoryofeverything.blogspot.com/2010_01_01_archive.html

    Link to this
  39. 39. akl1951 3:05 am 11/15/2010

    The Big Bang Model has failed the crucial acid test for its survival that relates to detection of remnant of gravity waves from the earliest epoch of the universe. Existence of gravitational – wave background, predicted by Einstein in 1916 in his general theory of relativity, is expected from the violent early moments of the Big Bang much like the cosmic microwave background that fills the sky with radio waves from the early universe. As per Einstein’s prediction, the cataclysmic Big Bang is believed to have created a flood of gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space-time that still fill the universe, albeit at a very feeble strength to be discernible by the conventional astronomical tools. The much hyped LIGO experiments, undertaken at whopping sum of over $365 million, for probe of remnant of the gravity waves from the earliest epoch of the universe have so far yielded nothing.

    Link to this
  40. 40. freshthinker 8:05 am 11/16/2010

    Hawking ignores the very basic question about where the laws of physics come from. Even if true – though unprovable – M theory still assumes rather than explains the laws of Physics. The reason for going into the "God" question is that Hawking himself brings it up. There are many questions that "science" cannot answer since "science" is a method not a conclusion. As a Christian, I find that Atheism is a very incomplete explanation of the events of the world. Most of the time evidence that actually challenges that view – such as the very existence of the laws of physics (stop and meditate on that phrase for a moment), are ignored with hand waving and cries of "creationism" as though that were enough to invalidate the question out of hand. Apriori assumptions do not evidence make.

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  41. 41. daleshankins 2:00 pm 12/18/2010

    Atheism (or perhaps I should say very strong agnosticism as described by Dawkins and others)is not an explanation of anything, much less the events of the world. It is simply the acceptance that no one has yet presented a sound evidence for the existence of a theistic god. I bear no religion ill will but I cannot accept their version on blind faith. It is one thing to say that there may be a set of laws, force or model underlying everything, a force that we may not yet know and may never know. (I lack freshthinker’s certainty in saying that we CANNOT know,I prefer uncertainty to certainty). It is quite another to assert that the world was created by a triune God, that his son was born of a virgin, that he died for our sins and rose from the dead. Lack of complete knowledge about the natural world does not constitute proof for such bold claims.

    We do not yet, and may never know, to the fullest extent what is the ultimate source of the "laws of physics", but the lack of knowledge is not evidence for a specific theistic view such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. And yes, while it may be true that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" it is equally true that those making extraordinary claims must provide extraordinary evidence.

    I find it fallacious and self serving to claim that Jesus, Yahweh or Allah are the ultimate divine creators based simply on the fact that there are gaps in our understanding of nature. Given the current evidence for the worlds religions would it not be equally valid to say that they may have it wrong? What if there is yet another "God", who has yet to reveal himself? After all, Yahweh and Christ waited approximately 98,000 years before revealing themselves to modern humans.

    If God appears and starts suspending the laws of nature right, left and center I will change my opinion. Ancient texts and popularity are insufficient proof for me to abandon the scientific method, which as you say is not a conclusion. Unlike religion, the scientific method requires evidence that can be tested by believers and non-believers alike. Science changes, religion remains certain in its conclusions without requiring evidence. Don’t believe me? When was the last time a pastor discussed the testable fact that our brains are both atheist and "believers"? When the corpus callosum is severed, and the separate hemispheres of our brain are asked if they believe in God – the left typically says no, the right typically says yes. Does one hemisphere go to heaven while the other burns in hell?

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  42. 42. openeyes999 3:51 am 01/31/2011

    I think this piece is just about Horgan’s personal anger at a scientist with whom he disagrees and of whom he is extremely envious. (haters gonna hate) Is this guy someone you want representing you SciAm?

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  43. 43. openeyes999 4:03 am 01/31/2011

    Articles like this always lead somebody to say something like, "There must be a God, because something can’t come from nothing." Of course, what they always forget is that this explanation brings up the obvious point, "So then where did God come from?" Was there nothing and then suddenly a highly advanced omnipotent being appeared from nowhere for no reason, or somehow did this God being always exist? But then, how can something always have existed? Don’t all things have to have a start? And if not, then why couldn’t some natural phenomena that existed outside of time have started everything?

    The bottom line is nobody knows for sure how the Universe came into existence, but saying "God did it" is just as much a paradox as any other explanation. We don’t know. What we do know is that in the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang there hasn’t been a single shred of evidence for any God(s). We also know for certain that humanity is a tiny insignificant speck among trillions of stars and massive amounts of time; this universe has little to do with us. I think we all need to let go of our religious superstitions.

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  44. 44. openeyes999 4:16 am 01/31/2011

    "Like millions of other people I admire Hawking’s brilliance, wit, courage and imagination. His prophecy of the end of physics inspired me to write The End of Science (which he called "garbage")."

    This is the sole reason for this unscientific ad hom attack "article." SciAm, get rid of Horgan. He doesn’t write well and he isn’t an accomplished scientist.

    Link to this
  45. 45. drelliot 4:23 pm 02/12/2011

    What JH is getting at is how far the stringy multiverse empire Greene/Hawking/Randall have gone in exiling physics, logic, reason, empirical reality, and the Great Physicists. For instance, none of the following definitive quotes from the Greats are ever seen in their stringy works:

    In questions of science, the authority of thousands is not worth the humble reasoning of one individual. -Galileo

    Books on physics are full of complicated mathematical formulae. But thought and ideas (the fourth
    dimension is expanding relative to the three spatial dimensions at c), not formulae, are the beginning of every physical theory.–Einstein/Infeld, The Evolution of Physics

    But before mankind could be ripe for a science which takes in the whole of reality, a second fundamental
    truth was needed, which only became common property among philosophers with the advent of Kepler
    and Galileo. Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge
    of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are
    completely empty as regards reality. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it
    into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics–indeed, of modern science altogether. -
    Einstein, Ideas and Opinions

    …my observations have convinced me that some men, reasoning preposterously, first establish some conclusion in their minds which, either because of its being their own or because of their having received
    it from some person who has their entire confidence, impresses them so deeply that one finds it impossible
    ever to get it out of their heads. Such arguments in support of their fixed idea … gain their instant acceptance … whatever is brought forward against it, however ingenious and conclusive, they receive with disdain or with hot rage…. No good can comme of dealing with such people . . . their company may be not only unpleasant but dangerous. -Galileo

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of
    genius–and a lot of courage–to move in the opposite direction. -Einstein

    I don’t believe in mathematics. -Einstein

    Mathematics are well and good but nature keeps dragging us around by the nose. -Einstein

    More of what physics is and ought to be can be found here: http://fqxi.org/data/essay-contest-files/McGucken_What_is_Ultimately_8.pdf

    Link to this
  46. 46. drelliot 9:53 am 02/13/2011

    Articles like this is EXACTLY what Sciam needs more of!

    Hawking/Randall/Greene never quote the Greats, nor Nobel Laureates, as real physics and physicists get in the way of perpetual-motion fiat money machine/fiat physics.

    Contrast MDT’s elegant, unifying success with String Theory’s “not even wrongishness.” The first page of ST in a Nutshell states in a footnoted sentence:
    ST … gained popularity because it provides a theory that is UV finite.(1) . . . The
    footnote (1) reads: “Although there is no rigorous proof to all orders that the theory is UV
    finite…” lol!

    We don’t know what we are talking about. David Gross

    It is anomalous to replace the four-dimensional continuum by a five-dimensional one and then
    subsequently to tie up artificially one of those five dimensions in order to account for the fact that
    it does not manifest itself. -Einstein to Ehrenfest ( I magine doing this for 10-30+ dimensions!)

    String theorists don’t make predictions, they make excuses. -Feynman

    ST is like a 50 year old woman wearing too much lipstick.-Laughlin, Nobel Laureate

    Actually, I would not even be prepared to call ST a “theory” rather a “model” or not
    even that: just a hunch.-`t Hooft

    It is tragic, but now, we have the string theorists, thousands of them, that also dream of explaining
    all the features of nature. . .when one person spends 30 years, it’s a waste, but when thousands
    waste 20 years in modern day, they celebrate with champagne.-Glashow

    I don’t like that they’re not calculating anything. I don’t like that they don’t check their ideas. I
    don’t like that for anything that disagrees with an experiment, they cook up an explanation-a fix…
    It doesn’t look right. -Feynman

    superstring physicists … cannot demonstrate that the standard theory is a logical outcome of string
    t h e o r y . …they have not yet made even one teeny-tiny experimental prediction. ..superstring theory
    does not follow as a logical consequence of some appealing set of hypotheses about nature. –Glashow:

    The great irony of string theory, however, is that the theory itself is not unified. -Kaku

    If Einstein were alive today, he would be horrified at this state of affairs… The unsubstantiated
    belief of our day is relativity itself. It would be perfectly in character for him … conclude that his
    beloved principle of relativity was not fundamental at all but emergent(emergent from MDT!) -Laughlin
    more: http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/511
    http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/238
    http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/873

    Link to this
  47. 47. Alan McKenzie 12:02 pm 03/2/2011

    Why did Professor Hawking wait for over 20 years before acknowledging Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem as ruling out a complete Theory of Everything (TOE)?
    An all-encompassing TOE would not only include a logical derivation of the fundamental laws from a set of root mathematical axioms but would extend this logical derivation to every possible phenomenon in the universe as a mathematical statement.
    This is the definition of the TOE used by Professor Hawking, as evidenced, for instance, by his including the Goldbach conjecture formulated as a physical problem – in terms of wooden blocks – as part of “the theory of the universe”, as he puts it in his website.
    Applying Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem to the root mathematical axioms shows that the mathematical system is either inconsistent, which we can rule out, or that it is incomplete, ie, there are some true statements of the mathematics – manifest as phenomena in our universe – which cannot be deduced from the root axioms and, therefore, which cannot be predicted from the TOE either, since it is, itself, derived from the root axioms.
    The fact that a TOE derived from the root axioms of the type envisaged by Professor Hawking is incapable of predicting all the phenomena in the universe surely deserved a comment!
    In The Grand Design, again, no mention is made of Gödel, although this is less surprising if M-theory is regarded as a “conventional” TOE, which does not attempt to explain all phenomena.
    However, there is a final twist to the tale. While Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem shows that an all-encompassing TOE, which predicts all phenomena, cannot be derived from the root axioms, it is nevertheless true that a TOE which does predict all phenomena could, in principle, be written down without deriving it. It would simply not be possible to prove, in this universe, that what had been written down was, indeed, the genuine TOE. This, and other aspects of the TOE, are discussed in greater detail in http://www.godel-universe.com.

    Link to this

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