“One is nothing but an instrument on which the universe plays.” ~ German composer Gustav Mahler
Earth is tucked into an infinitesimal spot on an arm of the Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is one of 2 trillion galaxies in the observable universe, which is spread out spherically, with a diameter of 90 billion light-years. (A light-year is how far light travels in a year at light-speed (as fast as light can travel). A light-year is ~9.461 trillion kilometers.)
To explain how our existence came to be, this instrument begins its play at a beginning….
Universes are like petals of a flower: they unfold only when conditions are favorable.
3,800 years ago (YA), the Babylonians conceived a plurality of heavens and earths. 2,500 YA, Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu held that the universe originated out of nothingness.
The ancient Greeks thought existence eternal, comprising infinite space; so did a young Einstein. In the 6th century BCE, Anaximander of Miletus conceived the cosmos in a perpetual cycle of incarnation and reincarnation, powered by apeiron: an eternal coherence.
“The primal essence of the existing objects is also the fact that when they perish, they return as dictated by necessity.” ~ Anaximander
We do not know how or when the universe began. Astrophysicists have speculated by extrapolating backward, with guesswork about whether and how the dynamics of fundamental forces changed. Hence the following tale is one of speculative backfill.
The extant understanding of physics colors the picture: rendering a sketch rather than a portrait, as the yardstick for characterization of high-energy events on the periphery of quantum reality has smudges on the measurement lines; for good reason.
The Big Bang
“What was God doing before he made heaven and Earth? He was preparing hell… for those who pry too deep.” ~ Latin theologian Augustine of Hippo (354–430)
The prevailing cosmological model posits the universe explosively coming out of nowhere to create everywhere. The idea has been around at least since the 13th century.
Inspired by the recently rediscovered works of Aristotle, English scholastic philosopher, theologian, and scientist Robert Grosseteste wrote De luce (“The Metaphysics of Light”) in 1225. In the book, he proposed that the universe expanded from a pinpoint of light. Grosseteste assumed that light and matter were somehow entangled.
In the 1920s, astronomers discovered that distant galaxies are moving away, indicating that space itself is expanding. This implied that, at some point in the past, the contents of the observable universe had been a hot, dense primordial fomentation.
“All the matter in the universe was created in one big bang at a particular time in the remote past.” ~ Fred Hoyle in 1949 on a “hypothesis in conflict with the observational requirements”
The term Big Bang was coined by English astronomer Fred Hoyle in a 1949 radio broadcast. Hoyle was no fan of the Big Bang. He instead favored the ancient Greek paradigm of a steady-state cosmos, where the universe eternally existed, but continuously accreted new matter as it expanded. That there was no evidence of this worried Hoyle not a whit.
German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein was disturbed by the prospect of the universe starting with an explosive singularity. By 1931 he had a model of a stable cosmos, but it held a fatal flaw: the universe had to be at least 10 billion years old. Einstein found that “unacceptable,” as the cosmos could not possibly be that old.
Einstein abandoned his bias as new cosmological observations indicated the universe was not as static as he had hoped. Unconvinced, Hoyle and others took up the cause of steady-state a decade later.
The Big Bang theory was the 1931 brainchild of Monsignor Georges Lemaître, a Belgian Roman Catholic priest and astrophysicist.
“If the world has begun with a single quantum, the notions of space and time would altogether fail to have any meaning at the beginning; they would only begin to have a sensible meaning when the original quantum had been divided into a sufficient number of quanta. If this suggestion is correct, the beginning of the world happened a little before the beginning of space and time.” ~ Georges Lemaître
According to Hoyle, the Big Bang imported religion into physics, by dint of it being proposed by a priest. The irony of that objection went unappreciated by Big Bang objectors. As it turned out, steady state adherents were the believers in a false religion.
Owing to pervasive noise, the Big Bang won out. The 1964 discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation by American astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson secured Big Bang as the most acceptable explanation of the origin and evolution of the universe. Lingering radiative scattershot suggested that, literally out of nowhere, a hellacious firecracker went off to start it all. This interpretation is wrong, as is the conventional construal of how and when the universe began.
“In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” ~ English novelist Terry Pratchett
The conventional fiction is that 13.82 billion years ago (bya), a quantum pinprick of infinite intensity exploded into existence. There were no separate physical forces as experienced today; no matter; just a singularity of energy: a universe’s worth, taking no space to speak of, but pervading more dimensions than humans would ever perceive.
“The “big bang” hypothesis of creation is more a confession of desperation and bewilderment than the outcome of logical argumentation rooted in the known (or even unknown!) laws of physics.” ~ Belgian theoretical physicist Robert Brout et al
We do not know when the universe began, or how. The conventional 13.82 BYA origination date comes from the earliest light detected by a space telescope, in accordance with Robert Grosseteste’s 1225 surmise.
“The cosmic microwave background is the light that is the furthest away from us that we can see.” ~ American astrophysicist Adam Riess
The bruited Big Bang was actually a quiet affair. No sound was made. But the misnomer does make for a catchy cosmological slogan.
Embedded within the embryonic universe were the ingredients for all that would ever be. The cosmos started as a viscous fluid of subatomic proto-matter. The earliest perturbations in energy density and flow rippled through time, defining the topology of the universe.
According to the Big Bang story, 1 trillionth (10–12) of a second after the cosmos came into being, energy had spread sufficiently that electromagnetism and the weak nuclear force parted ways. Photons emerged. Other subatomic particles came into being.
By its spin, matter claimed the throne of everyday existence. Matter’s mirror – antimatter – was largely shuttered from the observable 4 dimensions; exactly how remains unknown.
A universe was taking form. The cosmos was quark soup for a microsecond. Then came protons and neutrons, as quarks settled into being part and parcel of larger particles. This was followed by the formation of atoms. The time frame in which these events occurred remains highly speculative.
“The standard hot cosmological model requires rather unnatural initial conditions at the big bang. One has to postulate that the universe has started in a homogeneous and isotropic state with tiny density fluctuations which are to evolve into galaxies. Homogeneity and isotropy must extend to scales far exceeding the causal horizon at the Planck time. In addition, the energy density of the universe must be tuned to be near the critical density with an incredible accuracy of ~10–55.” ~ Ukrainian American physicist Alexander Vilenkin
In 1912, American astronomer Vesto Slipher claimed that there were galaxies outside our own, having stars too far away to belong to the Milky Way. This radical notion was opposed by many in the astronomy establishment; a universe with more than 1 galaxy was ridiculous. In time, Slipher’s conviction prevailed, as further work convinced astronomers and physicists that the universe was expanding, having grown far astray of being just the Milky Way.
American astronomer Edwin Hubble is often wrongly credited with the discovery of distant galaxies. Hubble was at Slipher’s 1912 lecture and carried the conviction publicly.
Hubble’s law, which characterizes the Doppler shift of receding galaxies, was based upon Slipher’s data. The law was first derived by Georges Lemaître. Hubble confirmed the law, determined a more accurate measurement, and took credit.
Armed with an estimated size of the present universe, and a bogus guess about how long ago the cosmos debuted, cosmologists struggled to explain how the universe got from its supposed moment of inception to where it is today. There was an unfathomed gap between how small the universe supposedly started off as and how big it seems to be now; so the yawning gulf was filled with expansive stuffing.
“It is said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. But the universe is the ultimate free lunch.” ~ Alan Guth
According to a conjecture called cosmic inflation, 10–36 seconds after the Big Bang, the size of the universe mushroomed from next to nothing to the size of a dime: a 1078 size expansion or more in 3×10–36 seconds; faster than the speed of light. Apologists assert that cosmic inflation does not violate relativity theory because spacetime itself is expanding faster than the speed of light during that instant: absurd.
Cosmic inflation posits a supersizing of eye-watering magnitude in less than the blink of an eye, back when there were no eyes to blink. That’s quite a magical moment.
After a miraculous instant of cosmic inflation, the universe proceeded to expand at a leisurely pace, as it does now.
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American cosmologist Alan Guth proposed cosmic inflation in 1980 to resolve issues with the way the universe is today: stable, flat, and livable; a probabilistically remote outcome given the projected conditions of the early universe.
Cosmic inflation was a hypothesis shoehorned to fit a few facts; but more a conceptual bandage to cover the gap between the universe’s fabricated origination date and its current state. Unaddressed questions strike at its core plausibility. What caused inflation to start? How did it work? What caused it to stop? The balloon of cosmic inflation is deflated by answering none of those questions.
“The inflationary paradigm is fundamentally untestable, and hence scientifically meaningless.” ~ American theoretical physicist Paul Steinhardt
To kick in, cosmic inflation required a special ingredient called inflationary energy, which combined with gravity to blow the universe up in a brief instant.
Cosmic inflators posit an imaginary particle – the inflaton – as invoking cosmic inflation. After pulling off its miraculous job, inflatons supposedly disappeared without a trace. Apologists wave this away by assuming that inflatons decayed into other particles as the universe matured, without proposing how this transition was achieved.
There is no evidence for inflatons, which were supposedly a scalar field. No fundamental scalar fields have been observed in Nature. Inflation advocates do not address this.
To work, inflationary energy had 2 stringent requirements. Both are unlikely if not impossible.
1st, inflationary energy had to have been incredibly dense, and its density constant, except for nominal random quantum fluctuations. Yet this assumption of steadiness in quantum effects is inherently shaky. Quantum effects dominated the energy flow at the supposed moment of cosmic inflation. There would have been nothing nominal about them.
“Inflation was supposed to create a huge volume of space matching the observed large-scale features of our universe naturally. But unless the inflation energy curve had a very specific shape, the outcome would be “bad” – a huge volume with too high a density and the wrong distribution of galaxies. Given the range of possible values, bad inflation seems more likely.” ~ Paul Steinhardt
2nd, inflationary energy requires that gravity worked in reverse: repelling rather than attracting. No physics theory supports this. Gravity as an expansive pressure by itself discredits the inflation speculation.
If gravity in reverse isn’t hard enough to swallow, consider that, after an interval of just 3×10–33 seconds, inflation jerks to a halt, with the universe continuing to expand at a leisurely pace. Something had to have counteracted inflation, otherwise the universe would have been a quickly bursting bubble. But the inflation hypothesis has nothing to say of that. Instead, unless arbitrarily throttled, the math of inflation theory predicts that inflation never stops. Inflation is supposedly still sprouting an infinite multiverse by blowing up bits of spacetime.
(This speculation about parallel universes emanates from the rancid math behind the cosmic inflation conjecture. The infinities that arise in quantum mechanics equations are sometimes similarly assuaged into a many-worlds interpretation. That idea originated with Erwin Schrödinger in a 1952 lecture, where he speculated about what his famous 1925 wave-particle duality equation might mean. The off-hand concept gained currency in the wake of the cosmic inflation.
The basic idea behind a many-worlds scenario is that otherwise useful equations which spout infinities mystically suggest the proliferation of empirical universes much like our own (or maybe not so much like our own). There are several variations on this theme, but all seem silly in the context in which they are presented: to address gaping, inexplicable mathematical holes.
Several prominent physicists now tout some multiverse rendition. Others dismiss the notion as purely metaphysical, for being beyond investigation.
Infinities in equations which supposedly represent reality simply mean that the mathematical expression, however proximately useful, is fundamentally amiss. But physicists are reluctant to part with an eminently handy model, especially when nothing better is at hand.
It seems likely that there are other universes, if only because ours exhibits aging. Our cosmos having an origination point suggests it came from some unknowable somewhere rather than out of nowhere. Existence as eternal seems a safe bet.)
Besides lacking evidence, cosmic inflation presumes continuous infinities at every scale of existence. Cosmic inflation is both a physical and mathematical absurdity.
“The part of the multiverse that we observe corresponds to a piece of just one such bubble. Scanning over all possible bubbles in the multiverse, everything that can physically happen does happen an infinite number of times. No experiment can rule out a theory that allows for all possible outcomes. Hence, the paradigm of inflation is unfalsifiable.” ~ Paul Steinhardt
Another deflation for inflation is its requirement for density fluctuations in wavelengths at less than Planck length: the point at which space becomes so small as to be meaningless.
“The calculations are extrapolations into regions where we cannot trust them.” ~ Canadian theoretical cosmologist and physicist Robert Brandengerger
Credence for cosmic inflation not only lacks evidence – the evidence indicates otherwise.
Cosmic microwave background (CMB) is a radiation pattern that originated ~378,000 years after the supposed Big Bang. Cosmic inflation supporters point to the incredible growth instant as inherently creating a near-homogenous CMB. This is incomprehensible, as whatever energetic irregularities existed prior to cosmic inflation should have been amplified by inflation, rather than smoothed.
Polarization patterns to the CMB were reported in 2014 which inflationists inscrutably interpreted as gravitational waves, based upon mathematical assumption and nothing else.
“We believe that gravitational waves could be the only way to introduce this B-mode pattern.” ~ American cosmologist John Kovac
The work supporting this conclusion was shoddy: only a single frequency was measured, and that data was glommed onto an unreleased rough image of another survey. Multiple frequencies would be necessary to produce a credible assessment, and is the norm in such surveys.
Further, the report disregarded that cosmic dust could have mimicked the supposed signal. Yet that did not stop gullible partisans from overblown ecstasy.
“These results are a smoking gun for inflation.” ~ Israeli American astrophysicist Avi Loeb, chair of the Harvard astronomy department, in 2014; jumping the gun to declare his cosmological religion vindicated.
Careful review found the data worthless. Even if the data had been correct, the gravitational waves would have been opposite of what the cosmic inflation hypothesis predicts: getting weaker with scale, rather than stronger.
Einstein’s general relativity theory predicted gravitational waves. In 2016, such waves were inferred in the wake of merging black holes. Their nature contradicts the inflation hypothesis. In short, cosmic inflation contradicts relativity theories which have been repeatedly confirmed.
The CMB is somewhat supportive of the Big Bang hypothesis, but utterly out of tune with cosmic inflation. Beyond altogether failing to account for cosmic inflation, the CMB damns the idea with its asymmetry.
“We live in a lopsided universe.” ~ American science writer Ron Cowen
The temperature of CMB fluctuates more on one side of the sky, suggesting a curvature in space. This indicates that the universe, long presumed flat, is slightly curved – similar to a saddle. A curved universe knocks inflation out, as the asymmetry cannot be unaccounted for.
As with a sound wave, the CMB fluctuations can be analyzed by splitting them into their component harmonics – like a collection of pure tones of different frequencies or, more picturesquely, different instruments in an orchestra. Certain of those harmonics are playing more quietly than they should be.
“In addition, the harmonics are aligned in strange ways – they are playing the wrong tune. These bum notes mean that the otherwise very successful standard model of cosmology is flawed.” ~ astrophysicists Glenn Starkman & Dominik Schwarz
The 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson at ~125 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) puts another nail in cosmic inflation’s coffin. The Higgs field supposedly gives matter its mass.
At the Higgs’ inferred voltage, there simply would not be enough energy to inflate the universe as cosmic inflation claims. If somehow such energetic inflation was able to take place, cosmic stability via the Higgs field would have decayed, wiping out the universe.
“What inflation predicted was actually the reverse of what we found.” ~ Australian cosmologist David Parkinson
Besides disregarding that radiative energy does not begat gravity, the inflationary model does not take into account that any gravitational expansion would have distorted time as well as space. Gravity distorts spacetime, not just space.
Nor do inflationists consider that extra-dimensional (ed) dynamics may have been especially vigorous during early cosmic development, thus putting the 4D universe on a path that culminated in its current configuration. This is ironic, as the inflationary model assumes that the physics in the first few moments of the cosmos were much different than those that predominate now. If anything, the cosmic inflation conjecture is simplistic in supposing only 4 dimensions when general relativity showed there were more.
An abiding problem in cosmogony is that the earliest moments of the universe cannot be explained without an overarching physics’ theory of everything. Cosmic inflation goes way beyond that. In requiring sudden spacetime disjuncture, cosmic inflation lacks any foundation in known physics.
So why the longevity of a such an absurdity? Astrophysicists like the inflation equations developed in the early 1980s because they correspond well with observations about the current cosmos and are relatively easy to work with. Despite the conundrums and contradictory evidence, the supernatural mechanism of cosmic inflation is generally accepted.
Cosmic inflation is called for solely because of the assumed Big Bang date. If instead the cosmos is much older, as it must be, no such mysticism need be conjured.
“The idea of the big bang comes from a simple observed fact: galaxies in the universe are moving apart. If you play this trend back in time, galaxies (or their precursors) must have been all scrunched up 13.7 billion years ago. In fact, according to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, they were scrunched into a single point of infinite density – the big bang singularity. But an infinite density is unrealistic: that relativity theory predicts it is a sign that the theory is incomplete. Without a singularity to demarcate the beginning of time, the history of the universe may extend further back.” ~ German physicist Martin Bojowald
“The existence of an initial singularity is disturbing: a singularity can be naturally considered as a source of lawlessness, because the spacetime description breaks down “there,” and physical laws presuppose spacetime.” ~ Brazilian astrophysicists Mario Novello & Perez Bergliaffa
There is compelling evidence for a cosmos exceeding the conventional longevity estimate of 13.82 billion years. There were thousands of galaxies that were ~3,000 light-years in diameter 13 BYA. Such extensive galactic formation cannot be accounted for within a billion years of when the universe supposedly started. Even more inexplicable are black holes.
“Black holes at the centres of galaxies reach masses of over 10 billion times that of our Sun. Surprisingly, there were such massive black holes in the early Universe, just 800 million years after the Big Bang. How they grew to such mass so early after the Big Bang is a profound puzzle for physics.” ~ Australian astronomer Christian Wolf et al
There is no astrophysical explanation for how unimaginably massive black holes could exist so quickly after the assumed Big Bang. There can be no better evidence that the bruited Big Bang is a bust, and that the standard cosmological model (ΛCDM) is a myth. The only profound puzzle is why astrophysicists stick with an obviously fictitious model when abundant evidence indicates its falsity.
From our perch in the cosmos, the farthest we can detect is 46.5 billion light-years away. As light speed delimits cosmological distance, the universe must be at least 46.5 billion years old. Our universe would only be that young if Earth were in the center of the universe, and if the cosmos did not extend beyond our detection. Both assumptions are unlikely. The cosmos has likely existed for over 100 billion years, and perhaps much longer: 500 billion years or more is entirely possible.
“All we can truly conclude is that the Universe is much larger than the volume we can directly observe.” ~ NASA
Regardless of age, how our cosmos can come into being remains a central question. Cyclic cosmology is apt, and entirely fits the facts.
“This world, which is the same for all, not one gods nor men has made. It always was and will be: an ever-living fire, with measures of it kindling, and measures going out.” ~ Turkish Greek philosopher Heraclitus (535–475 bce)
Like Anaximander, Heraclitus conceived Nature in an incessant, eternal cycle of creation. This idea has reappeared throughout history. Ancient Andeans believed that the cosmos periodically disintegrated and reconstituted.
“All things began in order, so shall they end, and so shall they begin again, according to the ordainer of order and the mystical mathematics of the city of heaven.” ~ 17th century English author Thomas Browne
The cyclic model proposes that the existing universe is an expanding bounce from a previous cosmic contraction. Unlike the Big Bang of the standard cosmological model, the cyclic model accords well with known quantum effects and modern physics’ models.
“This is the latest stage in an eternal cycle of expansion, collapse and renewed expansion.” ~ American theoretical cosmologist and physicist Michael Turner
Cyclic cosmology explains the relatively smooth universe, as the smoothing could have occurred during the preceding contraction, before the expansion began.
“Space and time exist forever. The universe undergoes an endless sequence of cycles in which it contracts in a big crunch and re-emerges in an expanding big bang, with trillions of years of evolution in between.” ~ Paul Steinhardt
Cyclic cosmology eliminates the need for cosmic inflation as an explanatory plug for the otherwise inexplicable. Einstein theorized a cyclic cosmology in 1930. Many other astrophysicists have developed their own models since.
Cyclic cosmology puts the beginning of this universe as just another cosmic bubble bursting into bloom, not the mythical origin point posited by ΛCDM, the standard cosmological model. The cyclic model supports the prospect that multiple universes exist (multiverse), and that existence is eternal.
“A bounce takes place a short time before a would-be big bang.” ~ American astrophysicists Lauris Baum & Paul Frampton
With this cosmos part of a multidimensional membrane, cruising an even higher-dimensional space, the universe’s origin was an energetic intersection of membranes; something more than cosmic humdrum, but by no means the solitary singularity of a single Big Bang, with only this universe popping forth from literally nowhere.
Considering the inscrutability of a unique big bang, cyclic cosmology makes intuitive as well as factual sense. For one, cyclic cosmology accounts for cosmic microwave background radiation as a transference of energetic patterning from the universe’s previous incarnation.
Central tenets of Hindu thought posit: 1) time as cyclical; 2) chaotic causality; and 3) interdependence between microcosmic and macrocosmic existence. Hinduism supposes that existence has neither a beginning nor an end.
Hindus have it that the life force of organisms is constantly recycled (saaṅsāra). Earlier acts have later influence (karma), often in subtle ways, and possibly across cosmic cycles of spacetime (yugas).
Under the Hindu conception: time, causality, and the microcosm of individuals and cosmic macrocosm are all linked in an interdependent mix. The cyclic model of cosmogony supports the tenet of cyclical time, as does Einsteinian relativity.
Objection to the cyclic model is based upon classical physics laws of thermodynamics, which blithely assume that the universe is only 4 dimensions, and a closed energy system. Abundant evidence and modern physics instruct otherwise, rendering the objections archaic. In contrast to the irregularities and improbabilities of a singularity followed by faster-than-light inflation, cyclic cosmology seems sensible.
“The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms.” ~ Lao Tzu
Explaining cosmic creation is just the beginning of contention in storytelling about how the universe operates. The Big Bang hypothesis fails to address the critical question of how everything can emerge from nothing. Cyclic cosmology neatly answers the question by putting it off: this universe is simply a single incarnation of many, in an eternal cycle of creation.