… or, “What if we were totally wrong?”
To say that the Universe ‘exploded’ from a ‘thing smaller than an electron’ in what’s commonly called “The Big Bang” could be a complete misunderstanding of the data we’ve gathered from our observations of the galaxies and ‘stuff out there around us’. Let me show you the ‘other side’:
Imagine Reality before this ‘Big Bang’, where the Singularity (as the pin-prick-sized Universe is called) doesn’t even exist yet. I know, this is hypothetical, but that it’s hypothetical is unimportant right now. Better yet, imagine this as the state after the Cosmic Heat Death of the Universe when all matter and energy has been stretched so thin that there is literally no Thing left – we are at absolute zero.
Entropy has risen to infinity in either of these situations. Why? Because the number of possible microscopic configurations of existence that this zero-universe can be set in and yet have it remain unchanged on the whole is zero (OK, infinitesimally-near zero, since log(0) is ‘undefined’), or, any change on a micro scale is a change on the macro scale because in this zero-universe, micro is macro.
So this zero-state of the universe is unimaginably unstable. The slightest most infinitesimal quiver of a ripple (physics-forbid that it be a ripple from a previous nearly-cosmically-dead universe!) will be the most infinitely huge alteration of the now-near-nascent universe because it will be the only irregularity in all Reality (i.e. in all of existence if you will).
So, I put to you the following question: “What if the Singularity were already the biggest it will ever be – i.e. half of all Reality?”
That would mean that ‘The Big Bang’ was in fact “The Big Coalescence” where the Universe doesn’t expand so much as it becomes more finely resolved – i.e. the ‘resolution’ of the Universe becomes more finely defined.
Furthermore, and at least for me, it makes more sense when we hear statements from astrophysicists that ‘space is expanding‘ – it wouldn’t be; it would look like objects were becoming more ‘distant’ from us, yes, but to use Julian Barbour’s unsettling statement (from his website here):
If all distances in the universe were doubled overnight, nothing would tell us this had happened.
Do you see what relativity does to our perceptions?
Here’s an ‘aide visuelle’ of sorts. I’d suggested this in an earlier post on ‘Strange and Relative Thinking‘, but I will reproduce it here for your convenience (I’ve edited it for relevance and highlighted important ideas in bold):
Imagine an infinite Othello game board filled with black-side-up pieces (This would be a visual analogue of the ‘pre-Big Bang state’). You flip one over to white (the ‘singularity’). That white is still ‘sameness’, but different. Now imagine the rule was that all neighbouring black pieces get flipped as a consequence: What would happen? What would it look like? An ever-growing white Thing (Circle? Diamond?). But the whiteness is still sameness – just like black – what’s actually happening is the advancement (dilation) of the boundary between black and white – the transformation of black to white; the inversion is growing.
Now, let that process run on for a while. A LONG while. So long that the Universe now looks like unchanging white sameness, infinitely.
There are a few troubles of ‘arbitrariness’ (relativity) at this point:
- What’s to say your initial unchanging blackness wasn’t in exactly the same scenario? (How is the Cosmic Heat Death of the Universe any different from the ‘pre-Big Bang’ state?)
- Who’s to say its “expanding?” Why shouldn’t its ‘size’ remain ‘fixed’ also, and instead it’s the Othello pieces which are getting smaller? – That could be seen like ‘getting higher and higher resolution’ (for a screen) – or ‘space’ expanding ‘inwards’. “Size” of white or black is meaningless or utterly relative/arbitrary.
- If we were to ‘lock our camera’ onto the ‘transformation front’, where it becomes the new ‘fixed point’ and white and black are ‘happening’ on either side of it, What of Time? Remember:
- This is supposed to represent ‘the Universe’.
- Both white and black are infinite and ‘happening’ simultaneously.
I didn’t edit-out that last part, and though the problem of ‘time’ remains valid in that conception, I would like you to temporarily disregard it. Instead, thing of ‘locking the camera’ on the front of ‘expansion’. Now imagine that ‘front’ were what we here in the real universe perceived as the “Cosmic Background Radiation” that many, if not all, astrophysicists think is a ‘snapshot’ of the ‘early’ Universe?
So my second question to you is: “What if the CMB were in fact our ‘inside view’ of the ‘outside’ of our Universe – where the Universe is happening right now?” though as I’ve repeated many times throughout this blog: the notion of ‘inside/outside’ is entirely incorrect. One must think of ‘beside‘ only.
Again, it would be natural to understand that this is indeed an image of the ‘young universe’ – forever young even, because it’s still happening from ‘out there’. Instead, it is we who are ‘getting smaller’ (please understand the choice of words for these ideas is difficult and I fully recognize that they are wrong – instead they are merely a manner of speaking).
Be careful though – this is not to say that we are in any way ‘being compressed’! On the contrary – remember this looks like ‘space is expanding’ – but instead the ‘stuff of space’ is resolving or ‘coalescing inwards’ (again, vocabulary fails me!) from the CMB ‘towards’ us.
Another ‘aide visuelle’ would be to picture pulling taffy (a neat video here) or chewing gum – except there’s no risk of it ‘snapping’. The idea is that the ‘imperfections’ are what we think of as ‘things’ – like the Cosmic Web (again, an interesting, if a little ‘dramatized’, video here) – each ‘filament’ of billion galaxies are ‘cracks’ in the Universe as it becomes ‘resolved’ and ‘more defined’.
How do you feel?
Unsettled, I hope. I’m not pretending any of this is correct – I haven’t the foggiest – but what I am saying is we need to be careful what our presumptions are:
- The early Universe was not necessarily ‘small’. I would even say it can be a benefit to think of it as mind-bogglingly-huge.
- The Universe is not necessarily ‘expanding’. I would say it could be ‘resolving’
- The CMB is not necessarily ‘In the Past’
- At those immense scales, we could mistakenly be presuming the CMB to be ‘static’ – but if you’ve ever been in a plane over the Atlantic and looked down at the ‘waves’, did they look like they were ‘moving’ to you?
- Space, I reiterate, is definitely not the way we think it is. Many of our notions of geometry rest upon certain false notions. There is no ‘inside/outside’ – we need to take a better look at ‘adjacent’ existents (no, I’m not just tooting my own horn, really) and what kind of space, exactly, can arise from that.
- This can have serious impact on what we understand as ‘dark matter/energy’ and interestingly also how we understand what may really be going on with ‘spooky action at a distance’. It may also have a serious impact on how we understand gravity.
In closing, please, if you know of any serious physicist (I’m not kidding, no nut-jobs!) who has considered these possibilities, let me know! If these ideas were dismissed, I need to know they weren’t because the person didn’t feel comfortable with these ideas. I will, of course, be searching on my end.