Tag Archives: Universe

The Final Questions

If someone, like me, sets out to face the currently unsolved questions of physics, it is good to prepare in advance that the struggle will not be easy. The greatest scientists have wrestled with these problems for many centuries, mostly with little success. Still, the thing is, we can’t help but keep trying, more and more persistently and more and more creatively.

Many people may say that without an experimental basis, we have little chance to reach any conclusions about the most important problems, and nowadays, when billions (in dollars and euros) are spent on the LHC and other similar projects without achieving any serious success, it may seem foolish the cultivation of domestic physics.

The truth is, however, that the philosophical approach can work very well in the case of fundamental questions without any experiment, and the Greek philosophers have provided the most surprising and best examples of this. Zeno’s paradoxes are alive and well to this day, although there are proposals for solutions on the stage, but we cannot rest completely on this front. The Greek philosophers used their common sense alone to create a picture of the world consisting of atoms, realized that the Earth is spherical, and made incredible statements about, for example, infinite time. They constructed the beautiful science of geometry and also achieved fundamental results about numbers. All this without having built anything for it. And although Greek science obviously could not be successful in everything, they formulated the basic problems, the ones we still struggle with today.

In order to ask questions and outline problems, mere reason is sufficient, and of course the perceptions that can be called everyday. The best ideas come from observations that are so simple that you’re surprised no one else thought of it much earlier. The best example of this is the case of Olbers, who looked up at the stars as a doctor and realized that the assumption of a static universe infinite in time and space conflicts with our everyday experience that the night sky is dark.

In order to formulate the final questions, we do not need anything other than observation and thinking. The situation is different with drawing conclusions and theorizing. Since these are not simple problems – that’s why we called them final questions – so that the research work for answers does not feel unnecessary, even if we do not get anywhere in the world, we are forced to outline a pessimistic scenario as a first step. This is not an escape, but rather a kind of protection against failure. Perhaps the problem with today’s physics is that it is not prepared for failure. If the theory does not find experimental confirmation, then the theory is modified in such a way that the ability to prove or disprove it exceeds the technical possibilities. Thus, there is always the excuse that the theory was not verified only because of the limited experimental possibilities. For this, it is usually sufficient to set a few freely selectable constants, or even to use some mathematical trick in order to save the faulty theory.

It would be very, very important that the creators of unsuccessful theories do not have to fear the collapse of their professional careers, because in order to protect their jobs, they are thus forced to endlessly divulge even otherwise indefensible ideas. If physics is full of physicists who consider their university position and professional prestige more important than honesty, not many breakthroughs can be expected in the future either.

We have to face the possibility that we have limitations. The limit can be mathematics itself, it can be the human thinking itself, and it can also be a complexity limit to our understanding. Experiments can also have absolute physical limits, for example we cannot conduct experiments at the absolute zero degree temperature, because it is impossible to reach it. We cannot perform experiments outside the Universe either, so for example we cannot measure from the outside whether the Universe is rotating or not. Of course, these are obvious limitations, but there are also less obvious ones. For example, we cannot have knowledge of the “true” reality, we have to accept that reality is what we believe it to be. We cannot know about the subjective experiences of other people, only indirectly, never directly. In addition to these, there can be many limitations, the formulation of which can be a limitation, for example, it is very difficult to understand and explain self-referencing systems, and the final questions are actually about self-referencing systems.

So, without thinking about anything for now, let’s formulate the pessimistic principle: the ultimate questions can never be answered, due to our physical, mathematical, logical and thinking limitations. No matter how much we try, no matter how long and no matter what, the final theory will never be complete and without contradictions (as Gödel already proved about mathematics). There will always be an inexplicable and incomprehensible phenomenon, a perception that will escape even the most cunning theory.

So our first step should be this, let’s accept that we are doomed from the start. This is not so difficult, although at first it may seem extremely strange to many, I would prefer to say that it is just an honest acceptance of the fact that we are human. Omnipotence and perfect wisdom are not in our possession, nor will it be. So we must stand on this ground, and looking the world from here, we must construct it in our own consciousness.

Could even the dear Reader say this, “Why don’t we stop here and be satisfied with this much?”. The suggestion is completely justified. The truth is that human life can actually be lived risk-free, relaxed, and even completely happy without dealing with any of these problems, even for a minute. A musician, a painter, a farmer, even a writer, but even a soldier or a steel caster can live a full, balanced, perfectly happy life without even the tangential proximity of philosophy or physics. This is very important, and I would like my statement to be really emphasized, that only those who feel that this is an indispensable part of their life should deal with this type of problem. For example, when I was in the seventh grade of primary school, I had thoughts like that maybe evolution could also work during the struggle of the Universes, or that time actually originates from the fact that we all move at the speed of light in a spatial dimension, and even then I felt incredible excitement thinking about such things during. Today I know that for me scientific thinking and philosophy cause more pleasure than alcohol or the use of mind-altering drugs for others. Maybe that’s why I don’t drink alcohol, and I’m not addicted to any other passion either, for me, chewing on the things of the world ensures a perfect full life.

Thus, I declare that those who find joy in it, should boldly open the book of Nature and research it, even if, as we know, we may be doomed from the start. Just as a mole cannot deal with the colorful world above the surface (I also wrote a short story about this), our fate may be the same, and time, for example, will forever remain indecipherable and incomprehensible to us. But the fact that we are thinking people – and may even be the only conscious species in the Universe – obligates us to try the impossible and face the difficult questions. In case we have a helper (another short story was written about this: during the destruction of a planet, chance writes the much-sought-after secret of existence, which of course no one reads). After this, I think we are ready to formulate the four biggest questions of humanity:

1. What is the time? This question is different from the next three, which have in common that all three are examples of a consequence without antecedent. Time, on the other hand, is the framework of all things, and at the same time, it is the most cunning, most elusive concept that only humans can encounter.

2. How did the Universe originate?

3. How did life originate?

4. How did we gain consciousness?

So the program was put together. What can we do with it? Well, according to the pessimistic principle, maybe nothing. But during the search, we can still feel good about it, and we can even find treasures…

October 22, 2012.

English translation: August 23, 2023.

COBE – Our Place in the Universe

NASA launched the COBE satellite on 18th of November, 1989. The main purpose of the mission was the examination of the thermal spectrum and the flatness of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Flatness is important in terms of the emergence of cosmic structures. If the background did not show any “grain”, then we could not know the origin of those material centers, which later the galaxies and galaxy clusters would develop from. COBE found those “ripples” of the cosmic background, which could start the build of these cosmic structures. This is therefore a clear success, confirming the currently most popular theory of birth of the Universe, the theory of Bing Bang.

Another confirming of the theory is also the result of the COBE mission. It turned out that the spectrum of the cosmic background radiation nearly perfectly matches the spectrum of the absolute black body radiation. That means that the Universe was in a thermal balance in that time. This of course raises more questions, in particular, in relation to the second law of thermodynamics: if the total energy was in the radiation field in thermal equilibrium with maximum entropy, than the heat death of Universe, – which was so often cited by the physicists of the 19th century, as the threat of future – will not come in the future, but already has occurred in the past.

There is a more interesting result of the COBE mission. A Doppler-effect is detectable in the frequency of cosmic background radiation. The radiation frequency shifts towards blue in one direction of space, and shifts towards red in the opposite direction. It is calculated from the amount of shifting, that the detector, which is Earth itself, moves in space with a velocity of 600 km/s.

And it raises very interesting questions. For we know – since Galilei and Einstein -, that absolute velocity has no meaning, if we speak about the speed of something, we should always point to the reference body, we mean the speed to. Now, however, here is a speed, which we measured without telling the reference point we used.

So is this an absolute velocity? In contrast with all we learned about the principle of relativity of Galilei and Einstein in the school?

The majority of the scientists reply to this, that it is compared to the speed of the background radiation, so there is no any absolute in it.

But the truth is not that simple. For what is that background radiation? This is an electromagnetic space of radiation, which fills the whole Universe. So this is not a reference point, or body, or any rigid object in the classical sense. This radiation space is absolute in the sense that it is accessible to all the observers of the Universe. All of them can measure their velocity referenced to the background, they can count the velocity referenced to each other from this, so an absolute frame of reference could be built with the help of this. In addition to, the temperature of the background decreases by the age of the Universe, so an absolute time scale is also can be constructed.

Though, there is a little problem with this absolute scale. Namely, that the local velocity of expanding could not be detected, but this could be expected from an absolute frame of reference. Now let’s take an object, which is – according to its distance and the Hubble constant – moving away from us with half speed of light because of the expansion of the Universe. If there is a true absolute frame of reference, then he can measure it referenced to the background radiation. This would result so drastic blue-, and red shift, that the cosmic background would seem radically different to him, than to us. But the background should be nearly the same for every explorer in the Universe, for if it were not, there would be a respected explorer in the Universe, and this would be a harder return of the geocentric view of world.

Let’s note that the absolute frame of reference is not the same as the respected explorer. The former is an electromagnetic background, the latter a material explorer, who would be selected as some kind of center of the expanding Universe.

The key question is that: when we can measure our velocity to the background radiation, so why are we unable to measure our speed which comes from the expansion of the Universe?

Michelson and Morley at the end of the 19th century did their famous experiment precisely because they wanted to show the movement of the Earth in relation to the hypothetical ether. The null effect led to the special theory of relativity. The COBE showed the movement of the Earth a century later, though not relatively to the ether, but to something very similar to it. If Michelson and Morley had executed the COBE measurements, would there be a theory of special relativity?

I think, not…

March 1, 2014.