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Is Cosmos a “Piece of Light Verse” Tossed Off by a Bored God?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Last spring, I offered a harsh assessment of A Universe from Nothing (Free Press, 2012), in which physicist Lawrence Krauss proposed that physicists have finally, probably, maybe, sort of, answered The Question of All Questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? I add the qualifications because Krauss, responding to my post, commented, “I didn’t make any definitive claims… and I get offended when people claim I make such.” And yet Krauss was presumably not offended by the afterward of his own book, in which religion-bashing biologist Richard Dawkins declares, “Even the last remaining trump card of the theologian, ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?,’ shrivels up before your eyes as you read these pages.” Sounds pretty definitive to me.

In my post, I praised an upcoming book on the same subject, Why Does the World Exist? (W.W. Norton, 2012), by journalist Jim Holt. Holt’s book has finally been released, and I just reviewed it for Canada’s major newspaper, The Globe & Mail. Here is a modified version of my review:

In 1981, during what I’ll call an inner excursion, I figured out the riddle of reality. God—if there is a God—is so overwhelmed by the enormity of his own existence that he creates our weird, wonderful cosmos as a distraction. I’ve mentioned this hypothesis in a couple of books, but nobody takes it seriously. I’m not sure I do either. But I do take seriously what I like to call The Question: Why is there something rather than nothing?

Jim Holt, a journalist who specializes in science, philosophy and mathematics, is as fascinated by The Question as I am. He dates his obsession back to the early 1970s, when he was a “would-be rebellious high-school student” in rural Virginia. Delving into “impressive-looking tomes” on philosophy in his home-town library, he stumbled on a work by Heidegger that posed what Holt calls “the super-ultimate why question.”

The Question has haunted Holt ever since. He has read everything he can find on it, by theologians, philosophers, mathematicians and scientists, from Plato and Spinoza to Godel and Einstein. Over the past decade or so Holt also sought out and spoke to a wide range of living Questioners, and he has distilled his investigations and musings into a marvelous book.

Holt divides Questioners into optimists, who have faith that The Question will be answered; pessimists, who harbor doubts; and rejectionists, who view The Question as a meaningless pseudo-question. In one especially fun section of Holt’s book, he travels to Pittsburgh to confront the philosopher Adolph Grunbaum, whom Holt describes as “the Great Rejectionist” and “an octogenarian cross between Danny DeVito and Edward G. Robinson.” Grunbaum insists that the existence of the world is “utterly unastonishing,” a view that I find, well, utterly astonishing.

Another colorful character is the fecund-minded Russian physicist Andrei Linde, who helped popularize the notion that our universe is only one of many in a never-ending “multiverse.” Only half kiddingly, Linde confides his suspicion to Holt that a “physicist hacker” in a parallel universe cooked up our cosmos in a laboratory experiment. This hypothesis, Linde suggests, could account for the fact that reality is “far from perfect.” Linde, among others, has also conjectured that spacetime could be the inevitable consequence of quantum probability; roll the quantum dice enough times, and sooner or later a whole cosmos will pop out of the void.

Of course quantum mechanics cannot serve as a final explanation any more than God can. As the Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg points out to Holt, if you attribute existence to the laws of physics, you still must ask, Why are the laws this way, rather than some other way? “I think we’re permanently doomed to that sense of mystery,” Weinberg says glumly. (I was pleased when, in his section on Weinberg, Holt quotes my description of him in The End of Science as “a large, dignified elf.”)

Holt, who has a knack for treating heavy topics lightly, does not pretend that he or anyone else has definitive answers to The Question. The author of a previous book on the philosophy of jokes, Holt’s default style is clever, comic, ironic. But he can be poignant, too–for example, when recalling the death of his mother, who succumbed to cancer in a hospice as Holt held her hand. Death, after all, makes our contemplation of non-existence all too personal.

If we can never answer The Question, what’s the point of pondering it? For me and, I suspect, for Holt, the point is to be reminded of just how strange, improbable, even miraculous this world is. Favoring one answer over another—or, rather, claiming that one answer is truer than another, and possibly even absolutely true—strikes me as a category error, akin to arguing that Emily Dickinson is truer than William Blake or James Joyce—or the Bible, for that matter. Even the most scientific responses to The Question, written in the language of mathematics, should be viewed as artistic creations, works of the imagination, which should be judged according to how deeply they move us.

No doubt in recognition of this truth, Holt seeks out the novelist John Updike, whose riffs on The Question are at least as profound as those of the professional logicians and empiricists Holt interrogates. Maybe, says Updike (who died in 2009, just a year after meeting Holt), God concocted the cosmos out of boredom, to pass the time, “almost like a piece of light verse.” That’s not bad. But I still like my own hypothesis better, because it implies that God, if He exists, is just as stumped by The Question as we are.

Postscript: A reader in Dundas, Ontario, recently sent me a poem he wrote that explores the same topic as the post above.

Something or Nothing

By Brian Greaves-April 1, 2008

Something or nothing, I really don’t know
Something or nothing, I learned long ago
That some people claim, they know the truth
But they’re lacking in logic, and lacking in proof
Ask for the facts, they’ve nothing to show
Something or nothing, I really don’t know

Something or nothing, I’ve wondered so long
Something or nothing, no need to dwell on
It’s fifty percent, so choose what feels better
One or the other, it really don’t matter
Something gives solace, but the feeling’s not strong
I believe in something, but I could be wrong

About the Author: Every week, hockey-playing science writer John Horgan takes a puckish, provocative look at breaking science. A teacher at Stevens Institute of Technology, Horgan is the author of four books, including The End of Science (Addison Wesley, 1996) and The End of War (McSweeney's, 2012). Follow on Twitter @Horganism.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. lawkrauss 2:14 pm 09/21/2012

    one again you missed the point John… you do that so well… the trump card shrivels up because the question becomes less significant, and certainly less requiring of God to answer.

    LMK

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  2. 2. spameroo 3:54 pm 09/21/2012

    I feel like there is a lesson here, especially for great science communicators like Dr Krauss: Richard Dawkins’ stridency is as effective at spreading a scientific worldview as Pat Robertson’s hateful condemnation is at winning converts to Christianity.

    Dr Krauss, you can, of course, be bitingly antagonistic of religion, but often with humor, and always with some sense of humility (or humanity?) that Dawkins lacks. Richard Dawkins is a smart guy, and great at speaking to “the base”, but he makes it seem clear that he despises any people who aren’t convinced by cold facts. Those people probably aren’t convincable, true. But a lot of people who might otherwise be swayed by an explanation of the facts end up turned off to the explanation by the venom dripping from Dawkins’ teeth/pen…

    TL;DR version, Richard Dawkins seems to do more harm than good whe it comes to science and skepticism outreach.

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  3. 3. rloldershaw 7:35 pm 09/21/2012

    There is a particularly simple answer to “The Question”.

    If the cosmos is an infinite fractal hierarchy with discrete self-similarity, then there was no “beginning” to the Universe. In this paradigm the Universe is eternal and highly unified in terms of having one set of physical laws for all fundamental global scales of the hierarchy.

    The infinite eternal cosmos simply is, and has always been. There is no option for it to have ever been any other way.

    One can do away with the very dubious “anthropic reasoning” and the “multiverse reasoning” (basically anything goes) for various aspects on nature. We fit the cosmos and not the other way around.

    If the discrete self-similarity is exact then a simple Cantor-like matching argument can mathematically prove that the hierarchy is infinite. This can be explored and empirically tested within the observable portion of the hierarchy.

    Given that fractal self-similarity is ubiquitous in virtually every system and process that can be directly observed in nature, the resistance to an infinite fractal paradigm for nature as a whole is strange and disappointing.

    Robert L. Oldershaw
    Discrete Scale Relativity
    http://www3.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw

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  4. 4. RSchmidt 11:54 pm 09/21/2012

    “Favoring one answer over another—or, rather, claiming that one answer is truer than another, and possibly even absolutely true—strikes me as a category error, akin to arguing that Emily Dickinson is truer than William Blake or James Joyce—or the Bible, for that matter.” that would be true if science was only interested in yes or no answers. But our understanding of the universe is typically in probabilities and degrees of certainty. Some hypotheses create a higher degree of confidence because they seem to agree with what is already known. Other hypotheses create a lower degree of confidence because they do not agree with what we already know and/or only succeed in making the problem more complicated. The theist creationist hypothesis is of the later type. In fact, one can say that the theist assertion that the universe was created by a sentient being is so poorly formed that it doesn’t even meet the standards required of a hypothesis let alone theory. So, while I agree that the origin of the universe is still an open question, not every hypothesis is equally valid. I would also like to add that it is this type of thinking – that any answer is equally valid when there is no definitive answer – that gives the religious fanatics the confidence that their delusions deserve the same consideration as those that are derived from evidence and the scientific process. Furthermore drawing a parallel between the results of scientific inquiry and classic fiction is rediculous and a deliberate attempt to confuse rather than clarify. Scientists are not knowingly creating a work of fiction. A better comparision would have been selecting between biographies. We understand that the complexity of documenting a person’s life will result in errors and exagerations so how do we know which version is closer to the truth?
    Again you seem to have created a strawman for the joy and spectical of burning it down on Scientific American. I see the following line in many things you write, “the point is to be reminded of just how strange, improbable, even miraculous this world is.” You seem to find joy in ignorance as though not knowing something makes it somehow special. For those who have a passion for science, not knowing something inpires us to understand. It doesn’t stupify us. The universe is made exciting by the challenge to know it, it is made amazing when we understand the complexity and simplicity of its nature.

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  5. 5. vinodkumarsehgal 5:24 am 09/22/2012

    The Question “Why does World exist?” is akin to asking by a wave of water ” Why does Pacific ocean exist?” Outreach of any Human mind, however intelligent and fertile it may be, can not match the enormity of the Question. The way during dream state, imagination of human may diversify into endless streams leading to endless scenarios, similarly during awakened state mind’s reasoning and logic can also spread into endless streams. Hence there can be endless answers to the Questions. No answer better than other. Both logical reasoning and imagination are the off shoots of same mind.

    For the sake of intellectual acrobatics, we may indulge into Question endlessly but no finality shall emerge. If our finite mind could could comprehend and fathom the infinite God and infinite Universe, how the infiniteness of God, Universe and the Question shall reamin infiniteness?

    Thru mental understanding, we can not reach and comprehend the answer to the Question. Theoreticians, Philosophers and Physicists, however wise they may be, have not transcended “out of and beyond” mind. Therefore, while staying within the territory of mind, it is not possible for them to know what lies “beyond and out of mind”?

    Final realty lies lies beyond and out of mind — so declares the Eastern, especially Upnishadic mysticism and metaphysics of Hindus.

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  6. 6. Von Stupidtz 8:53 am 09/22/2012

    As one wise guy named Markos told me, science is supposed to answer the question “how” and not “why”. If we are seeking the answer to “why”, we should look some place else. Once we start thinking about science in terms of “how”, the confusion clears up.

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  7. 7. gesimsek 3:23 pm 09/22/2012

    As Wendell Berry relates in his book “Life is a Miracle”, if we could knew all the probabilities there would be no need for any move. Therefore, if God is all-knowing the reason why we are here cannot be because of boredom or curiosity. The answer why there is something or why we are here must be related with the answer to the question of what we are living for in this life.

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  8. 8. rloldershaw 6:29 pm 09/22/2012

    The question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” seems to presume that the cosmos was created.

    In the case of a created cosmos, it is natural to ask queestions like: “Could the cosmos not have been created?” or “Could the cosmos have been created differently?”

    In the case of an eternal cosmos that has always existed and always will exist, ‘The Question’ makes little sense because one of its two mutually exclusive options is forbidden.

    An interesting question might be: “Is there is any empirical evidence that supports the prevalent assumption that the cosmos was created?”

    It seems to me that the tendency to answer this question in the affirmative has a strong anthropocentric basis.

    Robert L. Oldershaw
    Discrete Scale Relativity
    Fractal Cosmology

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  9. 9. vinodkumarsehgal 3:40 am 09/23/2012

    @rloldershaw (8)

    There is also no evidence to suggest that cosmos has always been existing,. Even, for the sake of discussions, we may agree that cosmos has always been existing, a nos. of implications arise for which we no solution :

    i) If cosmos has always been existing, it implies there has been infinite eternity of time in the past. In the infinite eternity, copies of me, you and every person on earth might have existed NOT ONCE but infinite nos. of time. In such scenario, we shall land into the same situation as in case of multiverses.
    ii) As you say that the “Question” – Why does universe exist? or Why there is something rather than nothing? arise from the presumption that universe was ever created.

    But the “Question” also remains equally applicable upon a cosmos which has always existing since eternity.

    iii)Infinity is a concept which though exist but evades human mental comprehension. If we have to understand the cosmos thru mental understanding, let us keep infinity in abeyance. If we have to comprehend “infinity”, we ourselves may go out of “finite bounds of mind” — beyond space-time. It is difficult for me to elaborate upon this quote under limited space under comments.
    iv) We observe within the observable universe that universe is an evolving one with continuous formation of stars, planets and galaxies. Energy and matter are being continuously formed. This gives suspicion that universe was created sometime in past.

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  10. 10. patrick 5:07 am 09/23/2012

    Mr John Horgan,the Reference to the Heading ” Is Cosmos a “Piece of Light Verse” Tossed Off by a Bored God?”,-
    Quote
    Linde confides his suspicion to Holt that a “physicist hacker” in a parallel universe cooked up our cosmos in a laboratory experiment.

    Can anybody answer this simple Puzzle of Nature and creation,PARALLEL UNIVERSE START’S FROM WITHIN OUR SOLAR SYSTEM,GOD’S WISDOM,DESIGN ,SIMPLICITLY & HUMILITY OF CREATION,
    Within our Solar System,Find out,when viewed from earth, the- Fixed Location ( should be within 30 Degrees North or South of the Prime Meridian), date and time , WHEN EIGHT PLANETS MOVE ON THEIR ELLIPTICAL ORBIT’S AROUND THE SUN, IN EXPLCITLY FOUR PAIR’S of PARALLEL’S- in a perfect Classsical Symmetry

    Within our Solar System THIS OCCOURED ONCE IN THE LAST 300 YEAR’S ! ?.

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  11. 11. rloldershaw 10:36 am 09/23/2012

    Vino… says: “i) If cosmos has always been existing, it implies there has been infinite eternity of time in the past. In the infinite eternity, copies of me, you and every person on earth might have existed NOT ONCE but infinite nos. of time. In such scenario, we shall land into the same situation as in case of multiverses.”
    ——————————————

    In a discrete self-similar cosmos, both of these careless assertions are false. Because any object in the infinite fractal hierarchy is comprised of an infinite number of subsystems, each with its unique motions and history, there is no possibility of exact “copies” of people.

    Because the laws of physics and are the same on all fundamental scales of the cosmological hierarchy, and because the fundamental constants all obey strict self-similar scaling rules, the discrete self-similar (fractal) paradigm does not suffer from the bizzare, random, disorderly and thoroughly untestable features of the “multiverse” paradigm.

    Do I expect Vino… to grasp this entirely different vision of how nature works? Unfortunately, no.

    Robert L. Oldershaw
    http://www3.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw
    Discrete Scale Relativity
    Fractal Cosmology

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  12. 12. patrick 3:09 am 09/24/2012

    Ref. to Mr.11.Robert L. Oldershaw & Mr Vinodkumarsehgal- your script was appropiate and led to a powerful depth of thought’s,correct to the core base,
    “Because any object in the infinite fractal hierarchy is comprised of an infinite number of subsystems,……….

    Do you utilise Dynamic Alogrithmic approach ?, this is a very powerful algorithmic Tool ,which if Mathematically structured resolves the paradigm in which a Celestial bodies Orbitals are tracked,at a Fixed Time and Fixed Location in on earth, in reference to Galatic and Planetary Motions & positions,the observations can be solved, by identifying a collection of Celestial Bodies orbital’s Triangilation stages as the set Cascade’s towards subproblems, and tackling them one by one, smallest not zero, but Numerical 1, (1/2 + 1/2) ,using the answers to small problems to help gure out larger ones, until the whole lot of them converge or smoothly diverge.

    Notice that this algorithm is solving a collection of subproblems, We then proceed with progressively “larger” subproblems —distances to vertices,Nodes,and backtracking that are further and further along in the linearization —where we are thinking of a subprois solved. before we “shift tracks”,during the instantaneous Time of “PLANETARY RETROGADE “, AND PENETRATE THE NON-LINEAR TRIAD’S, node’s and vertices Alignment via Geometrodynamical Synchronization.

    This process will Converge you closer to your thoughts and good reasoning, Ref your statement , “In this paradigm the Universe is eternal and highly unified in terms of having one set of physical laws for all fundamental global scales of the hierarchy”. Wonderful setting. Thank’s.

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  13. 13. vinodkumarsehgal 10:29 am 09/24/2012

    @ rloldershaw

    I do not assert that I have grasped fully Discrete Scale relativity which you assert as a new paradigm for understanding Nature. However, I understand following about DSR which you have quoted under your latest comments also.

    For any object occupying at some cosmological scale, there may be INFINITE cosmological scales above as well as below that scales. I am not refuting this interpretation of DSR, if this is correct. Frankly speaking I do not know if this interpretation is correct or not. But one thing about which I am sure is that though infinite cosmological scales leading to infinite universe may exist ( there is all the likelihood that universe may be infinite) BUT INFINITE UNIVERSE HAVING INFINITE COSMOLOGICAL SCALES ( AT PHYSICAL GROUND, NOT IN MATHEMATICAL EQUATIONS) IS BEYOND MENTAL COMPREHENSION OF HUMAN BEINGS. SCIENCE DEALS WITH ONLY THOSE CONCEPTS WHICH FALL WITHIN MENTAL COMPREHENSION SINCE SCIENCE IS RESTRICTED TO AREAS FALLING WITHIN COMPREHENSION OF HUMAN MIND.

    @ Patrick

    I do not know about Dynamic Algoritham Approach. My interest is more in appreciating the realty of Nature at Physical paradigm rather than at mathematical plateform. Undoubtedly, mathematical treatment can be a very powerful tool but only facilitating one in understanding the realty at physical level. As such, I am not underestimating the significance of mathematical treatment of any phenomenon provided this leads to some realty at physical level.

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  14. 14. rloldershaw 6:20 pm 09/24/2012

    Vino says: “But one thing about which I am sure is that…INFINITE UNIVERSE HAVING INFINITE COSMOLOGICAL SCALES( AT PHYSICAL GROUND, NOT IN MATHEMATICAL EQUATIONS) IS BEYOND MENTAL COMPREHENSION OF HUMAN BEINGS. SCIENCE DEALS WITH ONLY THOSE CONCEPTS WHICH FALL WITHIN MENTAL COMPREHENSION…”
    ———————————-

    Many scientists, including professionals, independents and amateurs, would strongly disagree with your dogmatic statement.

    The concept of infinity can and must fall within the realm of science. I think you badly underestimate the potential of the human mind to understand and model an infinite hierarchical cosmos, especially one with the unique symmetry called discrete self-similarity.

    Robert L. Oldershaw
    http://www3.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw

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  15. 15. patrick 7:43 am 09/25/2012

    Ref: 13. Mr Vinodkumarsehgal 10:29 am 09/24/2012……….
    Dynamic Algoritham Approach. My interest is more in appreciating the realty of Nature at Physical paradigm rather than at mathematical plateform……………..

    I provided full Coverage briefing’s for your deep concern,
    on a Physical paradigm “Explicit Empirical observation”,Refer BLOG No.10,
    but there is a Caveat,applicable for Parrallel Universe,multiverse……where on earth observation’s, at a ‘Fixed Time and Fixed Location, the case of LIGHT, confirms, that light speed appears constant in Fixed Time(TIME DEPENDENT INERTIAL FRAME) at a pre-selected Location,if the Geometrodynamics of Planetary Orbital’s with Referance to Blog 10,
    are Synchronised in sets of Parrallel Pairs , in our Solar System,TIME FREEZES IN CONICITY INERTIAL FRAME TRIANGULATION UNDER DYNAMIC INERTIA GRAVIT’Y.

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  16. 16. Amazed! 1:09 pm 09/25/2012

    “the point is to be reminded of just how strange, improbable, even miraculous this world is.”

    Kudos! to you John Horgan for abiding by this deep thought. Life may be once and death may be a step away. If we don’t ask this question for ourselves now, then when might we?
    I would like to share my ruminations on your quote:
    ‘Nothing’ cannot be without evidence!
    Think of the universe before it was created. In all of spacetime there would be the infinite possibilities of the universe, as also the negation of these same possibilities. This proto universe itself, faces problem of existence : The problem is not how to make ‘something’ exist, but how to make ‘nothing’ exist. I suppose consciousness exists to witness the evidence that ‘nothing’ exists. But with its existence , we have a paradox: because consciousness exists ‘something exists’. The universe starts evolving to contemplate on the evidence of existence and non-existence. This act of contemplation causes reorganisation of the possibilities. The proto universe evolves and is ever evolving.

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  17. 17. COOKO 4:25 pm 09/25/2012

    JOHN, i like yours better also.
    I can just see it now. When God is asked that same question HE responds, “WHY ASK ME/HOW WOULD I KNOW”.

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  18. 18. christinaak 5:27 pm 09/27/2012

    I must agree with rloldershaw because the fact that the universe exists logically presupposes that the universe must have always existed in one form or another if it is logically impossible for something to come from nothing (that is ex nihilo). After all what are the properties of nothing, that allow nothing to become something? Does it even make sense to attach causal reasoning to the notion of nothing suddenly becoming something?
    I think the only way to reconcile the inescapable conclusion that the universe has always existed with what we know about the universe is by accepting an evolutionary cyclic model that allows for the universe to begin each cycle in a low entropy state. That means the universe must be capable of recycling its entropy. If the development of the universe is driven by thermodynamic processes (and it is) then there must be an inherent instability in the properties of the universe at its fundamental level. I think it is reasonable to conclude that the gravitational force provides one aspect of the properties that characterize the inherent instability of the universe. As General Relativity indicates that gravity that is unchecked results in a singularity.
    The problem with singularities is that by definition they represent gravity in ‘perpetual free fall’ which makes one wonder how the Big Bang could have happened in the first place (the notion that a quantum fluctuation started it all is a convenient dodge, but it is not intellectually satisfying). In addition, if one is to reconcile quantum mechanics with GR, then there has to be a minimum range limit for the gravitational force. The best way to limit the range of the attractive G force is by postulating the existence of a repulsive force that limits the minimum range of the G force. One could call this force the Antigravitational force. If this force exists it must have a subplack length range or it would have been discovered by now.
    It is the existence of this subplanck length range force that makes the quantization of matter and space possible. Its existence in oppostion to the gravitational force provides an explanation for the inherent instability of the universe that reduces to a thermodynamic instability. further, it is this inherent thermodynamic instability that results in cosmic expansion in order to reduce the thermodynamic gradient. Once the thermodynamic gradient is reduced the universe ‘dies’ and completes the cosmic collapse that precedes the next expansion phase. However, the cosmic collapse is not a uniform process but has already begun. Every black hole in the universe represents part of the universe that has already collapsed into what I call a state of “GRAVISTATIC EQUILIBRIUM” ( which represents an impermanent balance between the gravitational- attractive and antigravitational-repulsive forces). This also means that because space is quantized then black holes must also have a quantized structure within there event horizons as well as volume.

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  19. 19. vinodkumarsehgal 8:14 am 09/28/2012

    @christnaak “After all what are the properties of nothing, that allow nothing to become something?”

    If “nothing” will possess some properties, how will it remain ” nothing” in true sense.

    Actually, there is nothing as “nothing” in its true sense. Human being, with particular reference to scientists, refer arbitrarily any ‘existence’ lying beyond mind’s terminal understanding capability as “nothing”. Mind’s understanding should not become a priori in the existence of of any entity

    @amazed “The problem is not how to make ‘something’ exist, but how to make ‘nothing’ exist. I suppose consciousness exists to witness the evidence that ‘nothing’ exists. But with its existence , we have a paradox: because consciousness exists ‘something exists’.”

    What is the need for “nothing” to exist in its true sense? Why human should act on the presumption that with its mental faculties it can know every thing. The existence which lies beyond understanding of human mind are termed arbitrarily as ” nothing”. Yes, consciousness, the most fundamental entity, exist when nothing exist in the universe. Entire universe originates, evolves and survives within boundless ocean of consciousness. Our mind being a part of universe emerges out of that consciousness. This way you have to a fact about which eastern mystical spiritual philosophies, particularly, Upnishadic Hindu, have been pointing since millennia.

    @rloldershaw Without going into details of mathematical and scientific meaning of infinity, can any sane person state with hand on his/her heart that he/she can understand and comprehend infinity in physical terms? Should science study and promote such aspects which belie human mind’s understanding and comprehension?

    I am not denying the existence of infinity but supplementing that infinity does not fit within bounds of human mind. This does not amounts to underestimating the potential of human mind

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  20. 20. christinaak 11:18 am 09/28/2012

    What scientific evidence there is indicates that consciousness arises from the action of neurophysiological processes in the brain. It has no existence apart from the brain, and it makes no sense to speak of consciousness in any other context (are you familiar with the concept of ‘persistent vegetative state?’). Regarding nothingness, my point is that religions invoke the existence of a ‘deity’ to explain how the universe (something) came into being from nothingness (which makes no sense), and I maintain that the universe must have always existed (albeit in its most primitive form at the moment of the Big Bang). The best way to reconcile the low entropy state of the early universe with the otherwise inexplicable fine-tunig of cosmic parameters, and early development of complex structure is via an evolutionary cyclic model that recycles the entropy of preceding cycles.

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  21. 21. MTpackrat 1:22 pm 09/28/2012

    All of this delving into the philosophy of science is interesting but seems to lead nowhere except that people have different beliefs. I offer another topic to add to the discussion:

    If my understanding of the current state of science is correct (believers of some version of Eastern philosophy excepted), science proceeds under the assumption that there exists a ‘real world’ independent of the existence of human beings, an assumption which has no capability of being tested.

    The denial of this assumption is much more in line with the observation that the universe is mathematically oriented and able to be studied as science.

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  22. 22. Amazed! 12:06 am 09/29/2012

    @vinodkumarsehgal:
    That’s what I said that *nothingness* truly exists negated by *something* (consciousness) creating a paradox. Mathematically ’0′ is a whole number that doesnot exist but we cannot compute without it. If consciousness is experiencing the universe via mathematical computations then the whole universe can be expressed as ’0′ =nothing and ’1′= consciousness. Whatever lies beyond our present experience is in a state of superposition of ’0′ and ’1′. With each conscious moment we collapse the superpositions creating a stream of consciousness. Roger Penrose theorised conscious experiences as such.
    @christinaak
    //The best way to limit the range of the attractive G force is by postulating the existence of a repulsive force that limits the minimum range of the G force. One could call this force the Antigravitational force. If this force exists it must have a subplack length range or it would have been discovered by now.
    It is the existence of this subplanck length range force that makes the quantization of matter and space possible. Its existence in oppostion to the gravitational force provides an explanation for the inherent instability of the universe that reduces to a thermodynamic instability. further, it is this inherent thermodynamic instability that results in cosmic expansion in order to reduce the thermodynamic gradient. //
    You really truly need only two opposing forces to express the universe. Human mind too experiences a tension between the forces of good and evil. History can vouch for men’s psychological pre-occupation with the idea of good and evil. Mind and matter are two sides of the same coin.

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  23. 23. vinodkumarsehgal 1:53 am 09/29/2012

    @ amazed Whatever we, as conscious entities, experience at any time is the superposition of “1″ and “0″. In the highest state of consciousness, “0″ vanishes at all and only ” 1″ remains in existence”0″ is on continuous change while “1″ is changeless without any motion. When”1″ integrates with “0″, “1″ is colored with “0″ and appear to have same attributes as “0″

    @ christwalk Modern Neuro Science has not placed any concrete evidence to explain origin of a holistic consciousness in brain. What they have observed is the effect of consciousness impacting in bits upon various parts of brain. On the contrary, there are records of thousand of years for consciousness existing in higher dimensions above 4 D physical plane in spiritual/mystical parts of almost all religions. Jesus Christ told 2000 years ago that universe emanates from Word. Hindu mystics of Upnishadic period discovered even earlier than that that there exist a boundless ocean of consciousness which they named as Braham. Word and Braham were not invoked entities but discovered existences by these people. Robert Lanza is repeating same facts in 21st century.

    No religion invokes any “deity” to explain the creation of universe ( “something”) from “nothing”. There is no deity located in any remote corner of universe. On the contrary, entire universe originates, evolves and sustains within boundless ocean of consciousness — Word, Braham or deity if you wish to name the same. These are not my personal views but expressed by the people who discovered the truths of spirituality of all religions

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  24. 24. Amazed! 3:40 am 09/29/2012

    @vinodkumarsehgal:
    I said:
    //Whatever lies ***beyond our present experience*** is in a state of superposition of ’0′ and ’1′. With each conscious moment we collapse the superpositions creating a stream of consciousness.//
    not
    //Whatever we, as conscious entities, ***experience at any time*** is the superposition of “1″ and “0″.
    My view is the same as yours and it has been hypothised similarly by Roger Penrose.
    Something coming from nothing is *absurd*. The total energy of the universe is ’0′ because ’0′ and ’1′ act on each other cancelling each other out. Its a case of an incomplete picture made of missing pixels, and we have to complete it by working out the relationships of the missing pixels from the lighted ones. The universe therefore is a process.

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  25. 25. vinodkumarsehgal 9:36 am 09/29/2012

    @ Amazed I am supplementing you that even our present experiences are the superposition of ’0′ and ’1′. Apart from experiencing ’0′, basic nature of consciousness is to experience’1′ itself( self awareness)

    “With each conscious moment we collapse the superpositions creating a stream of consciousness.//”

    We collapse the superposition … creating consciousness? but what we? Are we something else than conscious stream? We ourselves are basically conscious stream but mingled with endless streams from ’0′ No further process of superposition for creation of consciousness. Currently our consciousness stream i.e WE are mingled with lot of streams from ’0′ leading to a nos. of identities. Identities come and go thro’ out our life depending upon varying streams from ’0′ but consciousness ( unmingled) remains same

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  26. 26. Von Stupidtz 4:34 pm 09/29/2012

    If secrecy is for losers, then why do we need to encrypt data?

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  27. 27. christinaak 1:56 pm 10/4/2012

    @vinodkumarsehgal ” If cosmos has always been existing, it implies there has been infinite eternity of time in the past. In the infinite eternity, copies of me, you and every person on earth might have existed NOT ONCE but infinite nos. of time.”

    That is exactly what I contend in my book “The Short Range Antigravitational Force and the Hierarchically Stratified Space-time Geometry in 12 Dimensions”. It is my contention that an inherent instability in the relationship (including potential range and relative strength in opposition to each other) between the universe’s REPULSIVE (antigravitational) and ATTRACTIVE (gravitational) properties (which are manifested as forces). It is this unstable relationship that creates the thermodynamic instability that drives the cyclic expansion and contraction of the universe. The evolutionary changes (adaptations) that occur resulting in changes in the relative nature, range, velocity of transmission, and strength of fundamental forces, as well as changes in cosmic parameters, arise because of the limited efficacy of any specific manifestations of these to permanently relieve the unstable relationship between the REPULSIVE and ATTRACTICE properties of the universe.
    The quantum nature of the universe probably arises because of this relationship between these oppositional forces that establishes the minimum size a discrete unit of space may have (and prevents space-time from being continuous).
    There must be a minimum distance or range that the Antigravitational Force can attain over the course of cyclic evolution if singularities are impossible (which I contend is the case). This means that there is minimum size (as well as a maximum size) that a discrete unit of space can ever attain during the course of cyclic evolution . There is a fundamental, interdependent relationship between the oppositional (repulsive and attractive) forces that requires a simultaneous change in the strength, range and velocity of transmissions of both when there has been an adaptational change at the commencement of a new expansion phase of the cyclic process. If there is a maximium threshold of instability allowable for the relationship between the Antigravitational and Gravitational forces that determines the limits on the relative relationship of the nature, range, velocity of transmission and strength of these opposing forces, then it is quite possible that the cyclic universe is itself cyclic (cycles of cosmic incarnations in cycles). In other words there is a simplest form and a most complex form the universe may take (in terms of the relative relationships already mentioned as well as the nature and value of cosmic parameters). This means that the end of a cycle of cycles, the universe has attained its most complex form, and when this universe has completed its expansion cycle it collapses and a new cycle of cycles begins with an incarnation of the universe in its simplest form. I must point out that the simplest or most complex form of cosmic cycles do not that to be identical from one cycle of cycles to the next (it just means that the values of the nature, range, velocity of transmission and strength of the fundamental forces will be identical). However, with all of eternity to work with it is probably inevitable that the right combinations will arise that permit each of us to exist again and again (because the dice are loaded). Incidentally another reason I conclude that a cyclic, cyclic model must be correct is because it avoids the problem a conventional cyclic model (that is also evolutionary due to inherent thermodynamic instability) has in reconciling an eternal existence of the universe with the notion of a beginning which is suggested by the sequence of evolution from simpler to complex forms.

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  28. 28. christinaak 1:59 pm 10/4/2012

    Oops typo! I meant to say “It is my contention that an inherent instability exists in the relationship (including potential range and relative strength in opposition to each other) between the universe’s REPULSIVE (antigravitational)….”

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  29. 29. christinaak 5:01 pm 10/4/2012

    I also meant to say “I must point out that the simplest or most complex form of cosmic cycles do not need to be identical from one cycle of cycles to the next (it just means that the values of the nature, range, velocity of transmission and strength of the fundamental forces will be identical).”

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