21 November 2010

Can't Fool Me! Happen to Know 'tis Turtles All the Way Down


People typically want every story to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even the story of the universe. We have invented a "big bang beginning", a mundane middle, and a deeply depressing deflationary vs. inflationary end. But famed physicist Roger Penrose is not content to leave it at that. Sir Roger says "it's turtles all the way down . . . ."
The Big Bang model holds that everything that now comprises the universe was once concentrated in a single point of near-infinite density. Before this singularity exploded and the universe began, there was absolutely nothing - indeed, it's not clear whether one can even use the term "before" in reference to a pre-Big-Bang cosmos, as time itself may not have existed yet. In the current model, the universe began with the Big Bang, underwent cosmic inflation for a fraction of a second, then settled into the much more gradual expansion that is still going on, and likely will end with the universe as an infinitely expanded, featureless cosmos.

Sir Roger Penrose, one of the most renowned physicists of the last fifty years, takes issue with this view. He points out that the universe was apparently born in a very low state of entropy, meaning a very high degree of order initially existed, and this is what made the complex matter we see all around us (and are composed of) possible in the first place. His objection is that the Big Bang model can't explain why such a low entropy state existed, and he believes he has a solution - that the universe is just one of many in a cyclical chain, with each Big Bang starting up a new universe in place of the one before. _io9_via_ImpactLab
Here is the abstract of the Gurzadyan / Penrose paper:
Conformal cyclic cosmology (CCC) posits the existence of an aeon preceding our Big Bang 'B', whose conformal infinity 'I' is identified, conformally, with 'B', now regarded as a spacelike 3-surface. Black-hole encounters, within bound galactic clusters in that previous aeon, would have the observable effect, in our CMB sky, of families of concentric circles over which the temperature variance is anomalously low, the centre of each such family representing the point of 'I' at which the cluster converges. These centres appear as fairly randomly distributed fixed points in our CMB sky. The analysis of Wilkinson Microwave Background Probe's (WMAP) cosmic microwave background 7-year maps does indeed reveal such concentric circles, of up to 6{\sigma} significance. This is confirmed when the same analysis is applied to BOOMERanG98 data, eliminating the possibility of an instrumental cause for the effects. These observational predictions of CCC would not be easily explained within standard inflationary cosmology _arxive
Well, there you have it. An eternal cyclic braid of universes all the way up and all the way back down. It is rather difficult to let go of this old universe -- the only one we know, after all. But if we have learned anything in the past century or so, it should have been that things are seldom as they seem. Beneath the surface, something is always lurking, ready to upset our best laid plans and theories.

Virtually everything you think you know, is wrong.


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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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