The Universe and Human Stupidity

Albert Einstein improved greatly our understanding of the universe. He remarked once (Source: Frederick S. Perls): “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”’

It seems to me that he improved our understanding also of human stupidity by proposing a repulsive force that would just balance the effect of gravity in intergalactic space. After the discovery that the universe is expanding, he called his proposal “the biggest blunder of my life” (Source: George Gamow).

In spite of Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity as an omnipresent contracting force, a static view of the universe had become generally adopted among scientists. When he proposed a perfectly balanced universe and rejected early criticism from Alexander Friedmann, Albert Einstein confirmed the truth of Schopenhauer’s remark that “There is no opinion however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is generally adopted”.

Isaac Newton. Source: https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/images/og-isaac-newton-124.jpg
Arthur Schopenhauer. Portrait by Ludwig Sigismund Ruhl. Source: https://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer#/media/Fil:Arthur_Schopenhauer_Portrait_by_Ludwig_Sigismund_Ruhl_1815.jpeg

An apparent acceleration in the expansion of the universe was discovered in 1998. Einstein’s repulsive force became then quickly embraced by scientists. It was for them the simplest explanation of data in line with the idea about an initial “push” overcoming gravity and called “the Big Bang“. While another explanation of the apparent acceleration is better in view of Occam’s Razor, it has been ignored long enough. Here is a brief description.

Occam's Razor (William of Occam). Source: https://skydancingblog.com/2012/11/05/nates-numbers-the-numbers-converge/adalovelace/
How the Big Bang may have happened... Source: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/science/how-the-big-bang-may-have-happened-decoded/articleshow/71851160.cms?from=mdr
Stephen Hawking boarded a modified Boeing 727 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2007, which then performed parabolic arcs where the aircraft is in free fall, allowing the passengers to experience moments of weightlessness. Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-43430023

Before the 1998 discovery, a continuous wave perspective on time was proposed by me. It predicted the apparent acceleration of the cosmic expansion, and a paper was sent to Nature and other publishers. Rejected as too speculative and rewritten, the resulting “Wave Theory of Time” (WTT) became published with quite a delay first by the Swedish Mathematical Society (SMS) in the autumn of the International Year of  Astronomy 2009 and later by the STAR society at the old Observatory in Stockholm. Both SMS and STAR published also a text written by me as a tribute to Stephen Hawking after his death 2017.03.14 precisely on Pi Day.

Nicolas Copernic (Nicolaus Copernicus1473-1543). Source: https://s4.thingpic.com/images/zC/AS3jwfNqUteSiJRmVdmvjhtG.jpeg

According to WTT, the Big Bang beginning of the on-going expansion of the universe is merely a zero-crossing point of a continuous wave in which subsequent half-cycles have opposite directions of a varying time measure. Besides predicting the apparent acceleration of the cosmic expansion and the magnitude of the cosmological constant so that the generally adopted assumption of Einstein´s repulsive force becomes unnecessary, WTT makes the so-called big number coincidences derivable. The continuous wave perspective on time is as crucial for these achievements as the Copernican perspective on space was for Newton’s explanation of the solar system.

Dark energy. Source: https://www.skatelescope.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/skascience_darkenergy_300dpi-1024x576.jpg

It is of interest here to note that a cosmological model in which the direction of time is changed at an expansion peak was once proposed by Stephen Hawking who referred later to that as a big mistake. In the light of history, Einstein’s remark about human stupidity is applicable to authorities in science as well as to independent researchers like me who challenge the scientific community. And it can one day be seen as applicable to those who now believe in the physical existence of “dark energy” as the origin of a force that counteracts gravity and as a dominating phenomenon in the universe. 

Leo Tolstoy. Source: https://russiapedia.rt.com/files/prominent-russians/literature/leo-tolstoy/leo-tolstoy_1-t.jpg

Leo Tolstoy made this remark:

“I know that most men — not only those considered clever but even those who are very clever and capable of understanding most difficult scientific, mathematical, or philosophic, problems — can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.”

The following lines are enlightening. They originate from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (Source: The Nobel Prize Organization).

Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Source: https://www.ecolux.se/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Bild-2--1024x683.jpg

“So what is it that is speeding up the Universe? It is called dark energy and is a challenge for physics, a riddle that no one has managed to solve yet. Several ideas have been proposed. The simplest is to reintroduce Einstein’s cosmological constant, which he once rejected. At that time, he inserted the cosmological constant as an anti-gravitational force to counter the gravitational force of matter and thus create a static Universe. Today, the cosmological constant instead appears to make the expansion of the Universe to accelerate.

The cosmological constant is, of course, constant, and as such does not change over time. So dark energy becomes dominant when matter, and thus its gravity, gets diluted due to the expansion of the Universe over billions of years. According to scientists, that would account for why the cosmological constant entered the scene so late in the history of the Universe, only five to six billion years ago. At about that time, the gravitational force of matter had weakened enough in relation to the cosmological constant. Until then, the expansion of the Universe had been decelerating.

The cosmological constant could have its source in the vacuum, empty space that, according to quantum physics, is never completely empty. Instead, the vacuum is a bubbling quantum soup where virtual particles of matter and antimatter pop in and out of existence and give rise to energy. However, the simplest estimation for the amount of dark energy does not correspond at all to the amount that has been measured in space, which is about 10 exp 120 times larger (1 followed by 120 zeros). This constitutes a gigantic and still unexplained gap between theory and observation – on all the beaches of the world there are no more than 10 exp 20 (1 followed by 20 zeros) grains of sand.”

The Comprehensible Universe

When the great physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg wrote his book The First Three Minutes (1977), he concluded that “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless”. His pessimistic conclusion is shared by too many physicists. Relief can be found in a comment made by the late cosmologist Stephen Hawking: “The human intellectual history is meaningful as a record of how we have come nearer and nearer to an understanding of the order in the universe”. However, the question is whether the history of the universe can be understood as meaningful in itself by having a purpose regardless of human intellectual history. 

The generally accepted one-shot model of the universe seemed pointless also to Hawking so he proposed once that the cosmic expansion will reach a peak followed by time reversal. He felt soon forced to abandon that proposal and said later that it was a big blunder. Albert Einstein said the same about his abandoned static model of the universe and he also said that “The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible” (Physics and Reality, 1936), While he described time as an illusion in line with the view that the universe seems pointless, its intrinsic nature is worth a better interpretation. My own thoughts on the subject were a decade ago published by The Swedish Mathematical Society, SMS. Generalizing the Einstein-Planck equation, it seemed logical to propose a wave theory of time, WTT. And as the universe is comprehensible by means of mathematics, it seemed equally logical to apply the Turing computational model for the purpose of coming nearer to an understanding of its order.   

The great physicist and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg
Alan Turing c. 1928 at age 16

SMS has published detailed descriptions of my handheld models for explaining the solar system, the Milky Way, and the apparent accelerated expansion of space-time. Designed to complement earth globes and to present cosmic proportions in an accurate manner, they are intended to present at a glance the message that the nature of the universe is dynamic sustainability and that repetition rules. According to WTT, the macro- as well as micro-scale phenomena of the universe can be traced back to repetition periods of fundamental waves described by a generalized version of the Einstein-Planck equation. WTT describes the nature of dark matter, of dark energy, and of the huge difference in strength between electromagnetic forces and gravitation. And the so-called big number coincidences are made derivable instead of being interpreted by anthropic reasoning.

Albert Einstein
Isaac Newton surrounded by symbols of some of his greatest findings

Einstein described Isaac Newton‘s gravitational force as caused by curved space-time. WTT explains that curvature as due to the continuous-wave nature of time described as a flow with a varying scale of time itself and with zero-crossing points where the direction of the flow is reversed. The simple two-dimensional model is extendable Into a three-dimensional continuous-wave model asserting the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

The three-dimensional continuous-wave model of time is meaningful. It makes macro- and micro-scale phenomena describe an ever-changing resilient universe. One day, it will make the present one-shot model of the universe seem as obsolete as the old static model.

Beyond Hawking

Stephen Hawking has been the Albert Einstein of our time. He became recognized as a prominent physicist who popularized the mysteries of the universe. But his thinking resulted, unlike the thoughts of Einstein, neither in mass destruction weapons nor in any products used in our daily life. And the universe seems more mysterious now at his death than when Einstein died. While another such superstar in science is highly unlikely, perhaps instead a skunkworks project team will in near-future get fame from pioneering research at those frontiers on which some light is shed in the following lines.

Albert Einstein

Many physicists believe, like Hawking and Einstein, in the possibility of explaining all the physical forces by means of “a theory of everything”. Considered the holy grail of physics, it would be something to celebrate like the first steps in 1953 on the highest peak of Mount Everest and in 1969 on the surface of the Moon. However, the Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg has expressed a common opinion of the leading authorities: “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless”. Einstein had to abandon a static model of the universe and Hawking abandoned a dynamic model with a nice symmetry for an oscillation back and forwards in time. Presently, a pointless universe is proposed as existing either in an infinite series as described by Roger PenrosePaul Steinhardt and others or in a multiverse as described by Andrei Linde.  While time has been described as an illusion in line with the view that the universe seems pointless, a wave interpretation of its flow makes everything less mysterious. Physicists describe elementary charges as having infinite existence if left alone and the same goes for photons. A continuous-wave model is applicable on both these elementary particles so why not try it also on corresponding yet to be discovered elementary particles of gravity? Could that open a door to make all the physical forces described by a unified field theory as sought in vain by Einstein and others? I showed some years ago in an article entitled Beyond Higgs how to motivate an extended use of the Einstein-Planck equation so as to develop a wave theory of time, WTT. It offers a key to interpret the nature of dark matter and of the huge difference in strength between electromagnetic forces and gravitation. And it makes the so-called big number coincidences derivable instead of “explained” by anthropic reasoning.  Like a ring, Einstein’s static model of the universe was limited but endless and definitively not pointless. A rolling ring can be used to describe a continuous wave (CW) that is sinusoidal and that will in the following lines be used to do what has been said to be impossible, namely to describe time itself. In a most simple CW model of a cosmic flow of time tc, a small measure of time dtc varies with regard to a reference measure of time dtr as expressed by the equation dtc/dtr = sin (2π tc/T)  where T is the wave period and dtr is equal to the positive peak value of dtc. If the cosmic expansion with time is chosen to be described by means of a reference flow of time tr as represented by atomic clocks, it shows the positive acceleration expressed by the estimated value of Einstein’s cosmological constant Lambda used today for describing the apparent accelerated expansion of space. That acceleration is predicted by the equality between the ratio dtc/dtr and, as derived from the sine wave function above, the ratio between 2 and the sum of exp(2π tr/T) and exp -(2π tr/T). The cosmic expansion is conceivable, however, without any atom clocks generating the reference time tr. In order to interpret the intrinsic nature of the cosmic expansion, it is, therefore, logical to apply the cosmic flow of time tinstead of the reference time tr making the positive acceleration an illusion and the physical existence of a force counteracting gravity and represented by Lambda simply an unnecessary assumption.  Einstein described the gravitational force as curved spacetime. WTT interprets that curvature as due to the CW nature of time where the period is in the order of 10 exp 20 seconds in the context of a yet to be discovered elementary particle of gravity and 10 exp -20 seconds in the context of the elementary charge controlling the atomic clocks. In a more developed version of WTT, the two-dimensional CW model of time tc becomes a three-dimensional CW model related to the Everett many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics asserting the objective reality of the universal wavefunction and challenging the view that the universe is pointless.

A Tribute To Stephen Hawking

He passed away on Pi Day…

Stephen Hawking passed away on March 14th which is dubbed as Pi Day and that happens to be Albert Einstein’s birthday. The International Mathematical Union had recently proposed it to be declared by Unesco as the International Day of Mathematics.

Hawking was born on January 8th, 1942. It happened to be the date of the 300th anniversary of Galileo’s death. Following the footsteps of another genius – Sir Isaac Newton – the chair of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge in England has been held by him. He was offered to be knighted and granted the title of “Sir” but declined the honor. Hawking became a winner of many prizes, among them the 2013 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics set up 2012 to be the most lucrative prize ever established in science, and the Crafoord Prize, astronomy’s equivalent to of the Nobel prize that he did not receive.

Like Ludwig Boltzmann, Hawking wished a tombstone adorned with his most famous equation. In combination with Boltzmann’s constant k, Einstein’s speed of light c, Planck’s constant h, and Newton’s gravitation constant G, it connects the black hole entropy S to the surface area A of the black hole event horizon. This equation between these fundamental quantities in physics is a fine example of mathematical beauty. The supreme example is Euler’s equation between the most fundamental numbers in mathematics: Euler’s number e, pi, and the imaginary unit i.

In Hawking’s famous book A Brief History of Time, he admitted having made a big mistake like Einstein who claimed that the biggest mistake of his life was to introduce the cosmological constant. Hawking’s idea was at first that the universe oscillated with a nice symmetry between expanding and contracting phases. He applied a cosmological model in which the contracting phase looked like the time reverse of the expanding phase. However, his colleagues proved soon to him that disorder would continue to increase during the contraction. Perhaps the last word is not said in this matter. His idea of oscillation with a nice symmetry is – like Einstein’s cosmological constant – worth a second chance in a new cosmological model. Hawking was optimistic: “All we need to do is make sure we keep talking… My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.”

As a young man thinking about marriage, Hawking was told that he could expect to die in less than five years. All kinds of support and a strong will added more than fifty fruitful years to his life. Considered by many to be the Einstein of our time, a speech synthesizer and a wheel-chair contributed to making him known to the millions.

Hawking leaves three children and two remarried ex-wives. During his funeral on March 31st, I have been writing these lines inspired by the view of Stockholm’s Observatory Hill in front of which I have lived and worked since 1985. To the left, the human curiosity is represented by the Old Observatory built 1753, and to the right, a sculpture erected 1939 shows the centaur Chiron raising himself from the ground. Today, it symbolizes in my eyes the triumph of mind over matter and the now buried man’s outstanding life.