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July 29, 2010 1:15 AM   Subscribe

Maybe the entire universe as we know it really is just sitting inside a black hole of another, bigger universe.
posted by molecicco (104 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
So, like... does New Scientist share an editorial staff with High Times magazine?
posted by hincandenza at 1:24 AM on July 29, 2010 [27 favorites]


Okay. That means that our whole solar system could be, like one tiny atom in the fingernail of some other giant being. This is too much! That means one tiny atom in my fingernail could be--

... Could be one little tiny universe.

Could I buy some pot from you?
posted by Auden at 1:24 AM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Maybe the entire universe as we know it really is just sitting inside a black hole of another, bigger universe.

This is EXACTLY what I've been saying for YEARS! But would anyone listen to me? NOOOOOOOOO!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:30 AM on July 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


While entertaining the notion that we're all trapped inside a single mathematical point, it occurred to me: I'm sure glad I'm not claustrophobic!
posted by aubilenon at 1:40 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe the entire universe as we know it really is just sitting inside a black hole of another, bigger universe.

Okay, when do the Romulans and Spock show up?
posted by bwg at 1:40 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Turtles. Depth.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:43 AM on July 29, 2010 [17 favorites]


Mal was right all along...
posted by hamida2242 at 1:43 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really start to worry when actual science starts to be indistinguishable from Timecube level insane bullshit.

Oh wait, New Scientist? Good. Actual Science is safely out of harm's reach. I was worried there for a second. Let the entertaining crack-pottery continue, then.
posted by KingEdRa at 1:46 AM on July 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


When you stare into infinitely curved space time, infinitely curves space time stares into you.

More seriously, there are plenty of people who think the implications of the Schrödinger wave equation are Timecube level insane bullshit.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:06 AM on July 29, 2010


When you stare into infinitely curved space time, infinitely curves space time stares into you.

But WHO will win this cosmic face off?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:09 AM on July 29, 2010


When you stare into infinitely curved space time, infinitely curves space time stares into you

This is why physicists need to lay off the LSD.

Also, this could describe pretty every second meeting I have:

As you approach a black hole, the increasing gravitational field makes time tick slower and slower. So, for an external observer, any new universe inside would form only after an infinite amount of time had elapsed.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:14 AM on July 29, 2010


When Chuck Norris stares into the abyss, the abyss blinks.
posted by cthuljew at 2:15 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


This post is missing the "dude..." tag.
posted by longbaugh at 2:21 AM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Reading that article reminded me of this, which I read at the urging of a then-girlfriend. Although it didn't lead to us breaking up, foisting crackpot shit at me didn't really help her cause.

But, then, if it turns out to be right, I'm going to sad that I broke up with the smartest girl ever.
posted by hanoixan at 2:22 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


And inside that universe there is another black hole with another universe inside it. With another version of Metafilter. All of this sounds like some scheme to make me pay infinitely many times for my MeFi membership.

"Oh yes, the first Metafilter is only $5, but once you're inside you'll discover a bigger universe that will cost you another $5." And this goes on.
Man, I don't have infinitely many bucks.

posted by twoleftfeet at 2:22 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


BRMMMMMMM BRMMMMMMMM
BRMMMMMMM BRMMMMMMMM
BRMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
posted by qvantamon at 2:23 AM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is why physicists need to lay off the LSD.

Actually, I strongly disagree with this. Consider Feynman. Not to mention Watson and Crick and probably Sagan as well.

What I do agree with is that the New Scientist as a whole needs to quit bogarting.
posted by loquacious at 2:24 AM on July 29, 2010


"Would anybody like to smoke some pot?

Yeah.

You ever smoked before?

Sure.

When did you ever smoke pot?

I've done a lot of things you don't know about.

I won't go schizo, will I?

There's a distinct possibility.

Is this right?

Try not to drool quite so much on the end of it.

(Coughing)

(Singing) Hey, Pa.ula. I wa.nna. ma.rry you

Okay.
That means that...
our whole solar system...
could be, like...
one tiny atom in the fingernail
of some other giant being.

This is too much!

That means...

-one tiny atom in my fingernail could be--
-Could be one little...

tiny universe.

Could l buy some pot from you?"

posted by three blind mice at 2:24 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


This post is missing the "dude..." tag.

I will endeavor to use this tag whenever I get a chance.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:29 AM on July 29, 2010


Err, not that Watson and Crick were physicists, but notable Nobel Prize winners and capital-S Scientists.
posted by loquacious at 2:32 AM on July 29, 2010


Great discussion.
posted by klue at 2:37 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nobel Prize winning biochemists on LSD, sign in!
posted by twoleftfeet at 2:46 AM on July 29, 2010


Err, not that Watson and Crick were physicists, but notable Nobel Prize winners and capital-S Scientists.

Crick's undergraduate degree was actually in physics.
posted by atrazine at 2:53 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If anyone cares here's the paper. In other news Whoa Duuuuuuude.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:54 AM on July 29, 2010


dude tag added.
posted by molecicco at 2:58 AM on July 29, 2010


Ok, but seriously, if this potentially explains the origin of the big bang, then does that affect the theory of dark matter? As I understand it dark matter is presumed to exist so as to explain the universe's speed of expansion. But if we are (like, dude) trapped inside another universe, then there are outside forces which have some bearing on the speed of expansion, right?
posted by molecicco at 3:01 AM on July 29, 2010


Crick's undergraduate degree was actually in physics.

*crosses "learn something new" off of today's list*
posted by loquacious at 3:03 AM on July 29, 2010


dude tag added.

Unfortunately, scholars of the word "dude" don't agree on dude.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:10 AM on July 29, 2010


It might be better as "duuuuuude".
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:25 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dude: noun, fellow man
Dude: expletive
Dude: cool guy
Dude: interjection
Dude: subject and predicate
Dude: adjective

Dude
posted by Mblue at 3:27 AM on July 29, 2010


Ok, but seriously - I don't have anything to cite right now but there are newer models currently being explored and discussed that eliminate both the big bang and dark matter. Needless to say they're rather controversial, and even if they were spot on correct they would still be controversial and have to fight upstream for a few decades to gain favor. There's a lot of people who have put a lot of hard work into trying to make the big bang - and dark matter - work. And in a lot of ways it seems like we've reached a dead end, there, with too many loose ends to really formulate a proper Grand Unified Theory.

Waxing anecdotal and non-authoritative - the big bang never made any damn sense to me, even given the standard expansion models. Some kind of self-renewing steady state or flux-state system would make more sense and eliminate the need for dark matter in the model. How can you have a finite beginning to an open-ended, infinite universe? That just doesn't logically fit, to me.

Sure, this doesn't explain things like cosmic microwave background radiation as we understand it now to be an artifact of the dawn of time, as it were, but... yeah. The big bang just never really sat well in my mind - but AFAIR even Hawking has openly questioned if the big bang is correct in the recent past.

I'm certainly not saying toss science out the window and go woo-wooing willy-nilly off into the dark night of some handwavy holographic universe - but cosmology and physics as a whole really should be prepared take a step back from the research they're personally involved in and seriously ask themselves just how emotionally attached or invested they are in a given model - because that stuff happens all the time. How many times have we revised the model just in the past century alone? It's happened in the distant and recent past and it's happening now. People don't like to be wrong - but not liking to be wrong has no place in science.

Anyway, it's very late, I'm very tired and I need to sleep but since this is MetaFilter hopefully a real live physicist and/or astrophysicist will chime in and either refute or support what I'm sleepily blathering on about with some actual citations and articles about some of this recent stuff - because it's fascinating. If this thread is still going tomorrow I'll try to look for what I was reading to find some citations.

I rather like the idea of a steady-state universe, or even a semi-steady or semi-flux state. It makes more sense to me and rings more true logically and philosophically, but I wouldn't ever dare say I have the math or rigor to back it up.

Then again I often seriously worry that the moment we do actually figure it all out we'll either vanish in a puff of logic or someone will reboot the server and the whole universe will just leak to ground out of so many alien logic gates.

Also, how is it that we're not already topologically inside a black hole? Singularities are, in a sense, space-time curved so steeply it's turned inside out, no? Which side is out and which side is in? How many sides or surfaces does a Moebius strip or Klein bottle have, anyway?

posted by loquacious at 3:28 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really enjoy the way the new scientist boils science down to its bare essence:

If that is correct - and it's a big "if"

is way cooler than reporting statistics from actual experiments and observations. Though I would prefer if they qualified "if" with starbuck cup sizes rather than just a binary big or not.
posted by srboisvert at 3:32 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


We are here!
posted by pracowity at 3:36 AM on July 29, 2010


"Oh yes, the first Metafilter is only $5, but once you're inside you'll discover a bigger universe that will cost you another $5." And this goes on.
Man, I don't have infinitely many bucks.


I signed up when there was only one universe.
posted by pracowity at 3:39 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you put a black hole in a black hole do you get an infinite regression like the time the Master parked his Tardis in the Doc's?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:42 AM on July 29, 2010


I'm certainly not saying toss science out the window and go woo-wooing willy-nilly off into the dark night of some handwavy holographic universe ...


Stop making it sound like so much fun.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:47 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


/////////.\\\\\\\\\
(((((((((^))))))))



O______________________________>0*=BC/AC Earth/young girl
posted by Mblue at 3:51 AM on July 29, 2010


I think being an astrophysicist/astronomer must be the scariest job in the world. Whenever I try to think of ideas this big I feel an immense sense of terror. It's just too big!
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 3:54 AM on July 29, 2010


"Ok, but seriously - I don't have anything to cite right now but there are newer models currently being explored and discussed that eliminate both the big bang and dark matter. Needless to say they're rather controversial, and even if they were spot on correct they would still be controversial and have to fight upstream for a few decades to gain favor. There's a lot of people who have put a lot of hard work into trying to make the big bang - and dark matter - work. "
I wouldn't describe a lot of such models as controversial - it's not like cosmologists are going round trying to stop people from discussing them. It's only a matter of whether we can test them and how, and which models are the simplest to explain what we currently see. I can see where your concerns about cosmologists latching on to particular models excessively comes from, but I've not seen that happen myself - if a model fails tests people generally just move on ok I think, and cosmologists are generally quite willing to look at new models and find ways to test them. I know people who've worked on models that no longer fit observations, and they still keep working on cosmology - just on different things, and are doing so quite happily.

As for your other comments about the big bang theory - there's a problem in that it's not one theory. Depending on what exactly you mean it can be very general, just stating that the universe long ago was a lot smaller and hotter, and that is essentially undeniable fact now, but that doesn't mean we can say an awful lot about very early times or the possibility of times before that. You can have quite a bit of flexibility in exactly what your model does very early on, as long as it ends up looking like a big bang for the rest of the 13-odd billion years afterwards.

PS I think there's problems if the universe goes Klein-bottley or anything Mobius-like. I don't see how certain laws of physics can violate parity if you can swap parity by traversing such a surface appropriately. And there's long been certain parallels between black holes certain models of universes but that's not to say they're the same thing - see this FAQ for example which dates back to 1997
posted by edd at 4:03 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you put a black hole in a black hole do you get an infinite regression like the time the Master parked his Tardis in the Doc's?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:42 PM on July 29


Eponysterical?
posted by bokane at 4:04 AM on July 29, 2010


"Ok, but seriously, if this potentially explains the origin of the big bang, then does that affect the theory of dark matter? As I understand it dark matter is presumed to exist so as to explain the universe's speed of expansion. But if we are (like, dude) trapped inside another universe, then there are outside forces which have some bearing on the speed of expansion, right?"
Dark matter is invoked basically to glue together galaxies and galaxy clusters. Dark energy is used to explain the universe's accelerating expansion.
We can't do away with dark matter from this. I don't think it does away with dark energy either although that's less immediately clear - the paper does explicitly mention dark energy as a possible component of these sorts of universe though, so I think it doesn't help with any of the problems of the dark sector.
posted by edd at 4:09 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's only a matter of whether we can test them and how

Is this theory testable?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:19 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


cthuljew: "When Chuck Norris stares into the abyss, the abyss blinks."

As Nietzsche famously said, "If you stare too long into the Abyss, 1d4 Tanar'ri of random type will attack you."
posted by PontifexPrimus at 4:28 AM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


But WHO will win this cosmic face off?

Yes, have some!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:35 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you put a black hole in a black hole do you get an infinite regression like the time the Master parked his Tardis in the Doc's?

Yes. All black holes inside our universe actually contain our own universe. It is, in multiple places, inside itself.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:55 AM on July 29, 2010


It's fun to read this thread with the theme to Dr. Who as an earworm....
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:57 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's also fun to read this thread with the Pan Pipe Polka from the Ren & Stimpy soundtrack.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:02 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: looks like the paper suggests some possible tests but I've no idea if they're practical or how powerful they might be.
posted by edd at 5:09 AM on July 29, 2010


I think being an astrophysicist/astronomer must be the scariest job in the world.

Cosmology is an existential sinecure when compared with climate science or epidemiology. Those are some gun-loaded-with-a-single-bullet-in-your-desk-drawer jobs.
posted by Iridic at 5:21 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's already been proven that all of reality is a figment of the imagination of that autistic kid in the last episode of St. Elsewhere. Do try to keep up with your tropes, Science.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:39 AM on July 29, 2010


Well then what is the point of it all?
*launches himself in a rocket into a black hole*
Well then what is the point of it all?
*launches himself in a rocket into a black hole*
Well then what is the point of it all?
*launches himself in a rocket into a black hole*
Well then what is the point of it all?
*launches himself in a rocket into a black hole*
Well then what is the point of it all?
*launches himself in a rocket into a black hole*
Well then what is the point of it all?
*launches himself in a rocket into a black hole*
posted by Eideteker at 6:14 AM on July 29, 2010


Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist who for years has been most associated with loop gravity, as well as being one of the voices pointing out that string theory --while possible-- is currently full of holes, has too many solutions, and is too out of reach of experimental verification to achieve GUT status yet, has maintained a theory of universal evolution based upon black hole generation,. In essence he claims that a black hole pinches itself off from the mother universe and becomes its own: but the process generates different (random) values for the many fundamental universal constants. These altered values make it easier or harder for black holes to form in the new universe. In easier universes, black holes are created which spawn their own universes; harder universes die off with no black holey offspring. Therefore, the universe can be considered a giant breeding program to birth black holes. Heat death kills off universes but those that can spawn generate new ones before they die.

See Life of the Cosmos, his book about the Fecund Universe Theory. From 1997, so not exactly a new notion.
posted by umberto at 6:15 AM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Maybe we're all just part of a giant bong. Did anyone consider that, dude?
posted by ob at 6:29 AM on July 29, 2010


Oh hey sorry guys I knew I was supposed to show up in this thread but I just totally blanked.
posted by The Whelk at 6:30 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I predict one day we really will (possibly, quite by accident) figure it all out. Maybe we already have!

But the truth will sound so strange, so ridiculous no one on MetaFilter will be able to take it seriously, and soon, the theory will come to be viewed as so thoroughly discredited, buried under mountains of MetaFilter snark, that from that point forward, no one will dare suggest it again, even if some air-tight, experimental proof of the correctness of the theory could be devised.

All subsequent efforts at answering the Big Question™ will be doomed to futility from the start because we'll have already ruled out the one correct answer before we even began.

And thus, MetaFilter will have served its true purpose, acting as reality's last and best bulwark against forces that would otherwise send reality lapsing back into the ground state of utter nonsense from which it arose, helping to maintain the structural integrity of reality itself, because indeed, to know and understand a thing completely is, in a certain sense, to destroy it.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:38 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Watson and Crick? Fuck that shit! Rosalind Franklin!
posted by shakespeherian at 6:43 AM on July 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


*whoosh!* Hey watch it Shakesperherian, a joke of that nerdly density could devour the universe inside the universe!
posted by The Whelk at 6:48 AM on July 29, 2010


What we don't know about the nature of reality would fill a Universe. Or two. Or Infinity.
posted by dbiedny at 6:48 AM on July 29, 2010


the big bang never made any damn sense to me

Astronomer and SF author Sir Fred Hoyle, FRS coined the term "big bang" as a joke, and championed the steady state universe over the big bang theory to the end (2001).

He also believed in the primoridial origin of petroleum over "the suggestion that petroleum might have arisen from some transformation of squashed fish . . . surely the silliest notion to have been entertained by substantial numbers of persons over an extended period of time", and doubted the authenticity of the Archaeopteryx.

Max Planck said, "Science advances one funeral at a time."

I would add, "even if it doubles back on itself every once in a while".
posted by Herodios at 7:02 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Maybe this world is another planet's Hell."
- Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)
posted by robbyrobs at 7:14 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


*whoosh!* Hey watch it Shakesperherian, a joke of that nerdly density could devour the universe inside the universe!

I knew someone... special... would get it.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:15 AM on July 29, 2010


*Sings Brass In Pocket to self*
posted by The Whelk at 7:23 AM on July 29, 2010


Stop pretending.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:25 AM on July 29, 2010


You ever look at your hand? I mean really look at it?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 7:26 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


One thing I learned early in my physics career, is that if you think some theory "doesn't make sense", you need to check yourself. The real questions are, "is it self consistent?" and "does it make correct predictions?". If it does those things, you don't have anything to criticize about it. "Doesn't make sense" is just imposing your personal predilections on science. But the universe doesn't have to follow them. It was here first. It doesn't owe you anything.
posted by Humanzee at 7:32 AM on July 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


BRMMMMMMM BRMMMMMMMM
BRMMMMMMM BRMMMMMMMM
BRMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM


BRMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
posted by codacorolla at 7:37 AM on July 29, 2010


That dog is clearly the Prime Mover in the universe.
posted by The Whelk at 7:42 AM on July 29, 2010


"...the big bang never made any damn sense to me.... (it) just never really sat well in my mind... "

You don't have to "like" or "dislike" a theory for it to be true. The model remains valid despite your personal objections, at least until a succeeding model, one that better fits the evidence, is developed.

We see the same objection to science on "aesthetic" and "philosophical" grounds in response to anthropocentric global warming, evolution, and continental drift. Let's not make the same mistake here.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 7:48 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh man, this really hurt my brain. Guess the only thing for it is another Big Bang.

*prods partner* Right? Right?
posted by kinnakeet at 7:59 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure I've thought that - as soon as I read somewhere that if you calculate the Schwarzschild radius of the observable universe - you come up with a number that's... wait for it... the size of the observable universe.
posted by TravellingDen at 7:59 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let's not make the same mistake here.

Well, to be fair, there remain real scientific problems with Big Bang theory, too (and what better authority on the matter than HowStuffWorks, right? Not so much? Okay, okay... Let's try SciAm, too.). And there are other competing cosmological models that are also self-consistent and have equal predictive power.

It's definitely not the case that there aren't good reasons grounded in real science to harbor doubts about Big Bang theory. But still, I agree that nursing doubts about a theory solely because it fails to satisfy some intuitive requirement probably isn't a good idea either.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:02 AM on July 29, 2010


I also came in here to make an Animal House reference.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:21 AM on July 29, 2010


If we're not already too far gone here, can someone please explain why the linked source - New Scientist - would be considered something less than optimal? Hey, it SOUNDS impressive, but then so does "Fox News Channel," except I already know why I shouldn't take THEM too seriously...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 8:22 AM on July 29, 2010


Yo dawg...
posted by mullingitover at 8:24 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You ever look at your hand? I mean really look at it?

One of the ways that I am able to put up with annoying behavior is to imagine a petty level of Hell with an appropriate punishment for the offender; it's a trick I learned from this Italian guy.

The Petty Hell I have invented for people who boorishly over-speculate about the cosmos or the nature of reality is this: It's a parking lot just below purgatory and it's actually a pleasant place filled with plenty of creature comforts. There is only one minor punishment, pretty trivial really, considering that it's Hell and all. The offender's arms are bent at the elbows and locked into place so that their palms are 8 inches away from their face. The hands can move, the wrists can move, but the arms cannot, so that the hands will remain the primary object in the offender's field of vision...FOREVER.

Now that we are all aware that our behavior has consequences, let's continue this discussion.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 8:28 AM on July 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


METAFILTER: woo-wooing willy-nilly off into the dark night of some handwavy holographic universe
posted by liza at 8:34 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meh. I discovered this in seventh grade reading on the bus.
posted by cmoj at 8:37 AM on July 29, 2010


...Reading The Dancing Wu Li Masters. Dunno what happened there.
posted by cmoj at 8:38 AM on July 29, 2010


That howstuffworks.com article is bullshit. Those "problems" with the big bang theory are just misunderstandings that some people have about it, not genuine problems with the theory. That article was authored by Jonathan Strickland, a non-expert and it shows. The "alternatives" listed are extraordinarily cryptic, and most are discredited.

I'm not an expert on braneworld theory, so I won't comment on it, except to note that in my opinion, it's rather bizarre to throw out big bang cosmology in favor of braneworld on intuitive grounds.
posted by Humanzee at 8:41 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Humanzee: Well, yeah, hence the joke about How Stuff Works? being an authority.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:51 AM on July 29, 2010


One of the classic signs of a crank is that they're trying to do with trigonometry what real physicists do with tensor calculus.

If you go to MIT's The Net Advance of Physics and find this guy's chapter you won't see too much of that. (PDF with many many equations)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:57 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


You ever look at your hand? I mean really look at it?

Well yeah, of course, I mean. It's the primary way I interact with the world so I look at them all the ti... hmm. Interesting. Hold on... waitaminute, that can't be right....

holy crap.

Holy Crap!

HOLY SHIT!

Look at that! A universe, right there on my thumbnail. I'll be damned. I swear it wasn't there a minute ago, but what are you gonna do? Look at all those billions and billions of stars,,, man, it really makes you think about the scale of things...

Also, there is going to be a lot of sadness when I wash my hands in a minute.
posted by quin at 9:15 AM on July 29, 2010



You ever look at your hand? I mean really look at it?


Lemme see...



Oh... that's why my keyboard is so dirty.
posted by fuq at 9:36 AM on July 29, 2010


There's a whole universe in that box!

Dude, there's a universe in all of us.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:41 AM on July 29, 2010


Magnets.
posted by timdicator at 9:47 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Big Bang Abandoned in New Model of the Universe: A new cosmology successfully explains the accelerating expansion of the universe without dark energy; but only if the universe has no beginning and no end.
posted by homunculus at 9:53 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


This link (harvested from one of the comments to homunculus' link, above) discusses, if only tangentially, some of the remaining problems for Big Bang theory that might be worth taking seriously (relating specifically to the Big Bang concept of the singularity, which is really for all intents and purposes a kind of mathematical cipher--a weird black box of a concept more or less defined by its ability to reconcile what would otherwise be paradoxes).

Also, without Dark Matter and Dark Energy, neither of which as I understand it have been definitively proven to everyone's satisfaction enough to say there's consensus, Big Bang theory has problems explaining observed cosmic inflation. And the concepts of Dark Matter and Dark Energy are both relatively tenuous late additions to Big Bang theory, grafted on to the theory specifically to resolve what were found to be inexplicable failures in squaring the theory with observation.

So yeah, whether it "makes sense" or not, cosmologists aren't done questioning Big Bang theory either. It's still the preferred model, but it would be foolish in any case to mistake the map for the territory just because the map can lead us reliably to those particular destinations it happens to show. There might be other equally valid and useful maps that can lead to other very real destinations not included in that original map, too.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:32 AM on July 29, 2010


.... a variant of GR called the Einstein-Cartan-Kibble-Sciama (ECKS) theory of gravity.

Yes, final proof that the universe is a dog's breakfast.
posted by storybored at 10:51 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes. All black holes inside our universe actually contain our own universe. It is, in multiple places, inside itself.

It's like a universe-sized Klein bottle, where the black holes are the mouth(s) of the bottle. I just forced my brain to fully visualize this concept, and I'm pretty sure my brain responded by making a WHHHHOP noise and the pushing smoke out my ears.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:07 AM on July 29, 2010


From homunculus' link:
Shu's idea is that time and space are not independent entities but can be converted back and forth between each other. In his formulation of the geometry of spacetime, the speed of light is simply the conversion factor between the two. Similarly, mass and length are interchangeable in a relationship in which the conversion factor depends on both the gravitational constant G and the speed of light, neither of which need be constant.
This is just ordinary spacetime. In general relativity, the speed of light is typically set to one. Sometimes G is too, depending on how convenient that is for the calculations involved. I guess some people disagree, but most physicists I've talked to think it doesn't make sense to talk about changes in dimensionful constants like the speed of light. Commonly expressed as "c is constant, it equals one".

But there is a serious price to pay for this idea: the law of conservation of energy. The embarrassing truth is that the world's cosmologists have conveniently swept under the carpet one the of fundamental laws of physics in an attempt to square this circle.
This is just false. I find it inconceivable that this is how Shu explained his theory, all the interesting detail has been completely lost in translation, replaced with muddled garbage.

In general:
Theories that diverge from standard cosmology at super-high densities are still effectively big-bang theories ---they still say the universe is expanding from a much denser origin. Every physicist I've ever talked to has believed that general relativity (and hence big bang theory) would require modification in the brief times when density was super-high. This is not a problem with big-bang theory, it's a problem with quantum gravity.

Dark energy has a long proud history in Einstein's inclusion of the cosmological constant. Dark matter is backed by a lot more evidence than the typical MeFite seems to think. There are theoretical candidate particles that could explain it, a variety of indirect measurements of it (that nevertheless are in agreement with each other), and some ongoing attempts to measure it directly. Neutrinos were once theoretical concepts introduced to explain missing energy, but now we have neutrino detectors that can make images and particle colliders that can produce neutrino beams.

Is it possible that one of these exotic theories is right and the big bang theory with dark energy and dark matter are wrong? Yes. Should the people advocating them continue their work? Definitely. But there's a reason that the big bang model is standard, and the reaction to it here is almost entirely knee-jerk. Neutrinos are non-baryonic neutral particles. We know they exist. But somehow the idea that there could be another form of non-baryonic neutral particles that is more massive is just beyond the pale.
posted by Humanzee at 11:09 AM on July 29, 2010


Meh. Gravity sucks.
posted by Sparx at 11:28 AM on July 29, 2010


...a theory of universal evolution based upon black hole generation,. In essence he claims that a black hole pinches itself off from the mother universe and becomes its own: but the process generates different (random) values for the many fundamental universal constants. These altered values make it easier or harder for black holes to form in the new universe. In easier universes, black holes are created which spawn their own universes; harder universes die off with no black holey offspring. Therefore, the universe can be considered a giant breeding program to birth black holes.

But if intelligent life is able to create black holes someday (for energy, curiosity, weapons, whatever), then universes that are conducive to intelligent life like ours apparently is (at least in one case), are more likely to produce black holes, thus are more likely to exist and to create more offspring black hole universes with similar, intelligent life-supporting universal constants. This idea explains why our universe has the particular universal constants it has, not just because it is a likely universe for black hole generation due to the size and density of stars, proton/electron mass ratio, etc, but that is is a likely universe for black hole generation due to the existence of intelligent life.
posted by Illusory contour at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2010


While entertaining the notion that we're all trapped inside a single mathematical point, it occurred to me: I'm sure glad I'm not claustrophobic!

Didn't we all start from a single mathematical point? (Obviously still up for debate.)

How can you have a finite beginning to an open-ended, infinite universe?

IANAM, but I was under the impression that transfinite mathematics addresses this problem. (Perhaps not sufficiently. Infinity is awful tricky.)
posted by mrgrimm at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2010


Dark energy has a long proud history in Einstein's inclusion of the cosmological constant

Such a proud history that Einstein once called the cosmological constant his greatest blunder! (Of course, that didn't stop the evidence from supporting the idea.)

For me, singularity is the most problematic aspect of Big Bang theory. And many of the epistemological assumptions that underlie claims about observations that appear to confirm Big Bang theory. But then, you don't have to be a radical skeptic to be a scientist.

On the point about knee-jerk criticism of the theory, I agree. What's most fascinating to me is how often the knee-jerk criticism now originates from religious circles, when ultimately, Big Bang theory is one of the only physical theories that could still allow room for the possibility of divine intervention (again, because we still can't really say much of anything at all about that problematic singularity).

The history of Big Bang theory is fascinating to me: how an idea originally viewed as a fringe attempt to reintroduce God into the science of cosmology has since developed into such a rigorous theoretical system it's widely viewed (incorrectly) as one of Science's strongest arguments against religious faith.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:48 AM on July 29, 2010


No idea while I felt compelled to capitalize "Science," but then if I have to capitalize "God"...
posted by saulgoodman at 11:51 AM on July 29, 2010




This is why physicists need to lay off the LSD.



Wrong , they need to creatively employ it.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:56 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Such a proud history that Einstein once called the cosmological constant his greatest blunder! (Of course, that didn't stop the evidence from supporting the idea.)
I remember talking to a professor once and asking him what he thought about that. His response was that if a term could appear in a theory, you had to put it in. Maybe it's zero, and you can figure that out with internal consistency, or by experimental evidence; but leaving it out for "elegance" is wrong. This was shortly before the Type Ia supernova data came out, so it seems that my professor's instinct was right on. Einstein was obsessed with elegance, and it often served him well, but not always.

Yeah, the history of big bang theory is full of weird little ironies like the changing religious angle. My understanding was that it was basically forbidden in the Soviet Union for that reason.

I agree that the singularity is a problem, although I think it's primarily a job for a comprehensive theory of quantum gravity to address, not cosmology per se. One thing to keep in mind is that you could still have the universe formally originate in a single point, but not be a true singularity ---it could be a coordinate singularity where in the very earliest moments of the universe, the "time" direction is discontinuous, but density remains finite. This is where my money is, but budding or cyclical universes are certainly possibilities too.
posted by Humanzee at 12:15 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess Poplawski's paper is new, but this isn't exactly a novel concept. I remember the professor in one of my undergraduate physics courses mentioning this idea as a "mind blower" at the end of class, and that was over ten years ago. He was deriving the Schwarzschild radius or something, then said that for a sufficiently large black hole the entire universe could be inside its event horizon. Funny the things you remember over time.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:30 PM on July 29, 2010


Or, what TravellingDen said.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:56 PM on July 29, 2010


Geez, how much more doomed can the world be: We may already be squashed inside a black hole. We're pretty likely to be destroyed by a catastrophic asteroid impact in the next hundred years. And now, the base of our food chain is dying off at a rate that gives us only a little more than 50 years (not to mention we're slowly being cooked alive).

It's a race to the finish, people. Our finish. And it looks like the leading competitors are rounding the last corner onto the home stretch!
posted by saulgoodman at 1:11 PM on July 29, 2010


I'm a Boltzmann brain, inside a black hole universe, inside a black hole universe, inside the Matrix, inside the parallel universe where Bhutan is the only world superpower and the Olson twins were never born.

... So fuck you.
posted by dgaicun at 2:29 AM on July 30, 2010


Oh, I forgot to mention I'm also a computer simulation. And I suspect my whole life is being filmed and controlled by unseen reality television puppeteers. Or possibly muppeteers. I think I might be a muppet.
posted by dgaicun at 2:43 AM on July 30, 2010


Kevin Street: Well it's not exactly coincidence that the observable size of a critical density universe is about that of a black hole of the same mass, but that doesn't mean the observable universe is in a black hole.
As an example of the difference, when you model a black hole, you put a bunch of mass somewhere surrounded by empty space. When you model a universe you put a bunch of mass everywhere, so that no space is empty.
posted by edd at 3:33 AM on August 2, 2010


Giant star that should have been a black hole became something even stranger
posted by homunculus at 9:18 PM on August 19, 2010


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