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Math Science

Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing 612

Posted by Soulskill
from the something-from-nothing dept.
KentuckyFC writes: "One of the great theories of modern cosmology is that the universe began in a Big Bang. It's backed up by numerous lines of evidence, such as the cosmic microwave background and so on. But what caused the Big Bang, itself? For many years, cosmologists have fallen back on the idea that the universe formed spontaneously; that the Big Bang was result of quantum fluctuations in which the universe came into existence from nothing. But is this compatible with what we know about the Big Bang itself and the theories that describe it? Now cosmologists have come up with the first rigorous proof that the Big Bang could indeed have occurred spontaneously and produced the universe we see today. The proof is developed within a mathematical framework known as the Wheeler-DeWitt equation. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle allows a small region of empty space to come into existence probabilistically due to quantum fluctuations. Most of the time, such a bubble will collapse and disappear. The question these scientists address is whether a bubble could also expand exponentially to allow a universe to form in an irreversible way. Their proof (PDF) shows that this is indeed possible. There is an interesting corollary: the role of the cosmological constant is played by a property known as the quantum potential. This is a property introduced in the 20th century by the physicist David Bohm, which has the effect of making quantum mechanics deterministic while reproducing all of its predictions. It's an idea that has never caught on. Perhaps that will change now."
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Mathematical Proof That the Cosmos Could Have Formed Spontaneously From Nothing

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  • by MadTinfoilHatter (940931) on Friday April 11, 2014 @09:39AM (#46724453)
    This is an abuse of the word "nothing", which is a universal negation "not anything". But quantum fluctuations in the quantum vacuum are something, and not nothing. The research might be interesting, but it does nothing for the question the philosopher is asking when he is wondering "Why there is somerthing rather than nothing?"
  • "Proof" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2014 @09:45AM (#46724519)

    This is not a "proof that the universe could have formed spontaneously from nothing". As is common in popular versions of science (and often even in peer-reviewed articles by scientists), there is a confusion between modeling reality and reality itself. All this proves is that the current most accurate (in terms of making predictions that we can measure) mathematical model of reality does not contradict the claim that the universe spawned from nothing (and of course the term "nothing" here is tenuous at best--it certainly isn't philosophical nothingness, because something did indeed exist, i.e. a state in which quantum fluctuations were occurring, such a state is not nothing, it is something... perhaps by "nothing" they mean a vacuum, but again, a vacuum is something since it is still governed by laws). And let's not forget that though QM has a lot of predictive power as a model, it is still just that, a model.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2014 @09:50AM (#46724567)

    Is your atheism so week, that you fall back on violence if confronted with evidence that seems to force you to realign your belief structure.

    What evidence?

    So tell me again how atheist are better than religious people?

    You seem to be taking your dislike for the one you replied to and generalizing based on that. Nice job.

  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Friday April 11, 2014 @09:52AM (#46724593) Homepage Journal

    Let's simplify.

    Conway's game of life creatures became sentient.
    They discovered they are made of cells.
    They said "Look, THE INFINITESIMAL CELL is always created from NOTHING. If things happens FROM NOTHING, there is NO NEED FOR A CREATOR, so THERE IS NO CREATOR, and besides NOBODY ever witnessed something different THAN THE DETERMINISTIC APPLICATION OF RULES. How smart are we?"

    So the guy at the PC said to himself "Thank you for nothing, guys" and went making himself coffee.

  • by fadethepolice (689344) on Friday April 11, 2014 @09:57AM (#46724643) Journal
    Since the equations only express the properties of the universe, what exaclty did the quantum fluctuation occur in? This seems to be more of a confirmation of M-theory than that the universe came from nothing. What is the formula for the state directly before the fluctuation ocurred? It seems that state would be necessary to calculate what the fluctuation occurred IN. That would, to me, be more of a discovery.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2014 @10:36AM (#46725047)

    Given the fact that I use the same logic to make the (in)existence of any God irrelevant to my living, I would actually applaud those game of life beings for coming up to the same conclusion. They can't observe me, and unless I start intervening (and then be observed), it makes no difference to them if I exist or not, no matter how much I bitch that they don't worship me or give me credit for their existence. I know I pressed the "Run" button. They have no way of knowing that. They can philosophise that somebody pressed a "Run" button, but there's no proof to it. And that somebody doesn't even have to identify as me. They can invent any number of "supernatural" gods that "inspired" them while I'm having that coffee - i.e. I'm not even at the computer, and I locked my screen - or I logged out of the MMORPG and its just the cloud applying rules in my absence.

  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Friday April 11, 2014 @10:38AM (#46725063) Homepage Journal

    Nothing that breaks the rules can be proven as breaking them, from the inside. What if the exception is part of the rules?

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc@carp a n e t . net> on Friday April 11, 2014 @10:44AM (#46725137) Homepage

    They are absolutely correct, there is no creator, he doesn't exist inside their universe. Within the context of their universe, the existance or nonexsitance of this creator is essentially meaningless to them.

    I really think the clock in a black box metaphor for scientific theories is the best. If someone gives you a watch and you have no way to look inside.... you can make observations, you can model its behgaviour, you can make theories which make predictions.... but unless you can open it, any gears you postulate, no matter how accurately they may model the output, can never be proven to be what is inside.

    Until you can devise a test based on observations that seperates one theory of whats inside form another, then the claim of which predictive theory with equivalent results is better has no basis.

    So until a theory of a creator produces a testable hypothesis, its really nothing special at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2014 @10:52AM (#46725209)

    Not if he gave them free will, meaning even the ability to do things that were "outside" of the creator's will/temperament. Unless he was omniscient then, he would know what they would end up doing.

  • by butalearner (1235200) on Friday April 11, 2014 @10:52AM (#46725211)

    Let's simplify.

    Conway's game of life creatures became sentient. They discovered they are made of cells. They said "Look, THE INFINITESIMAL CELL is always created from NOTHING. If things happens FROM NOTHING, there is NO NEED FOR A CREATOR, so THERE IS NO CREATOR, and besides NOBODY ever witnessed something different THAN THE DETERMINISTIC APPLICATION OF RULES. How smart are we?"

    So the guy at the PC said to himself "Thank you for nothing, guys" and went making himself coffee.

    Note that the guy at the PC doesn't care what happens to the sentient creatures, doesn't interact with them in any way after he starts the universe, and doesn't take any portion of the sentient creature with him for all eternity.

    You have it wrong, anyway. The vast majority of these creatures would say that they were Created. Some would simply accept this, having been taught so ever since birth, specifically with the knowledge that questioning their beliefs is one of the worst things they could do. Some others would look at the rules and realize that, had the rules been different, they would not have existed at all. They would see that as proof as a Creator and (through some further leap of logic) the rest of their beliefs, even though such a "proof" of the former does not in any way imply the latter. Still others would simply take Pascal's Wager and hope that their particular religion is the correct one.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday April 11, 2014 @11:10AM (#46725443)

    That someone would be omnipotent and omniscient with regards to this reality

    These are very loaded words. What exactly is meant by "omniscient", for example? The capability to find out anything about our universe, or the ability to find out everything about this universe? Or the ability to predict either anything or everything that hasn't happened yet? At one point, you're assuming a being whose complexity would be greater than the complexity of its own creation. Much like, e.g., we understand everything about a crankshaft but fail to understand many of our own computer simulations. There are a lot of people (like me) who don't strictly denounce the possibility of an "external" (or "transcendent") creator or simulator, but aren't buying the "our universe (or human bodies, or whatever) is too complex so it needs a creator" nonsense.

  • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Friday April 11, 2014 @11:13AM (#46725469)

    This proof, while impressive, does not proof that the cosmos could have formed spontaneously. It only shows that the big bang was not the start of the cosmos and something early and yet unknown pre-existed it. The old axiom that "ex nihilo nihil fit" (nothing can come from nothing), still holds, because if there were nothing, no matter, no energy, no anything, then there couldn't be quantum fluctuations to spontaneously form the universe.

    As such, the big bang must not have been the start of universe, but probably very, very, very close to the start of the universe.

  • by JackDW (904211) on Friday April 11, 2014 @01:09PM (#46726901) Homepage

    Hmm. Experience suggests the intelligent beings would stare at the 0.0001% and either deny the evidence for it, deny its relevance, or try to destroy it. Inconvenient facts are inconvenient.

    You want a piece of toast with the face of Jesus? You already had a man with the face of Jesus, and look what happened to him.... What chance does some toast stand?

I came, I saw, I deleted all your files.

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