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Math Science

Mathematical Proof That the Universe Could Come From Nothing 429

TaleSlinger writes: One of the great theories of modern cosmology is that the universe began in a "Big Bang", but the mathematical mechanism by which this occurred has been lacking. Cosmologists at the Wuhan Institute have published a proof that the Big Bang could indeed have occurred spontaneously because of quantum fluctuations. "The new proof is based on a special set of solutions to a mathematical entity known as the Wheeler-DeWitt equation. In the first half of the 20th century, cosmologists struggled to combine the two pillars of modern physics— quantum mechanics and general relativity—in a way that reasonably described the universe. As far as they could tell, these theories were entirely at odds with each other.

At the heart of their thinking is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. This allows a small empty space to come into existence probabilistically due to fluctuations in what physicists call the metastable false vacuum. When this happens, there are two possibilities. If this bubble of space does not expand rapidly, it disappears again almost instantly. But if the bubble can expand to a large enough size, then a universe is created in a way that is irreversible. The question is: does the Wheeler-DeWitt equation allow this? "We prove that once a small true vacuum bubble is created, it has the chance to expand exponentially," say the researchers.
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Mathematical Proof That the Universe Could Come From Nothing

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  • Nothing? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2014 @11:58AM (#48334093)

    So quantum fluctuations are "nothing" then?

    • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Funny)

      by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:05PM (#48334161) Homepage Journal

      So quantum fluctuations are "nothing" then?

      You have to be an expert in quantum mechanics to really know nothing.

    • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger@@@gmail...com> on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:08PM (#48334195)

      And that's the paradox. There is ALWAYS the question "but what caused THAT?" with no ultimate answer more satisfactory than a meta-physicist can come up with.

      • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:50PM (#48334509)

        there is always the question 'but what caused that'? really? there is "always" this question only if you continue to think about the world in the same mindset.

        you don't have to search for an answer in the world through Newtonian glasses. "caused" implies causation. causation implies a before, and an after. first there is the cause, then there is its effects. abstract ideas like before and after are looking at the world from a point of view of LINEAR time.

        if you truly study relativity, and i mean read Einstein's essays and not just the summary on wikipedia...you realize the linear view of time is just the way our electro-chemical computers (brains) process information. but in relativity, an atomic clock up in an airplane experiences time an a slightly different rate than you on the ground. since it is further from the earth. just think about that! imagine how warped and non-linerar time must really be, in a universe with supernovae and black holes! we can already measure two different RATES of TIME ITSELF just by using an airplane and an atomic clock. how crazy must the REAL story be? it will blow our minds in a thousand years when we understand it even better.

        so anyway, my point is time is not linear. in fact, most science on cosmology shows that near the big bang...all rules about time and physics break down and make no sense. so why would you expect that, at that critical moment, time is linear and simple and easily understood? why do you insist that at that moment, anything caused anything else? i don't think it really worked that way. it's just that the true way it worked is so complex, we are only now beginning to try to wrap our minds around impossible ideas like how anything would work in a universe without "before" and "after".

        i hope, instead of deciding that there is an un-solvable paradox, that you will continue to think about this stuff. don't give up. :)

        "There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in our philosophy." --Shakespeare's Hamlet

        • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Friday November 07, 2014 @01:05PM (#48334625)

          there is always the question 'but what caused that'? really? there is "always" this question only if you continue to think about the world in the same mindset.

          you don't have to search for an answer in the world through Newtonian glasses. "caused" implies causation. causation implies a before, and an after. first there is the cause, then there is its effects. abstract ideas like before and after are looking at the world from a point of view of LINEAR time.

          if you truly study relativity

          If you truly study relativity, you'll see the words "causality" and "causal" used. It's not a strictly Newtonian idea. As long as there's no faster-than-light travel, "X happens before Y" is an invariant - it's true in all reference frames.

          At least mathematically speaking, there are solutions to the equation of general relativity that have "closed timelike curves", so you could get causality violations, although those solutions might not be realistic (e.g., infinite rotating cylinders). See, for example, the Wikipedia page on Tipler cylinders [wikipedia.org], and the references to which it links.

          • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Informative)

            by drerwk ( 695572 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @01:28PM (#48334853) Homepage

            As long as there's no faster-than-light travel, "X happens before Y" is an invariant - it's true in all reference frames.

            No. http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/... [ucr.edu] and for the longer version http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]. In these examples, the doors either close at the same time for the observer stationary with respect to the barn, or at different times for the observer running with the pole.

            • Re:Nothing? (Score:4, Informative)

              by Guy Harris ( 3803 ) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Friday November 07, 2014 @01:58PM (#48335133)

              As long as there's no faster-than-light travel, "X happens before Y" is an invariant - it's true in all reference frames.

              No. http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/... [ucr.edu] and for the longer version http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L... [wikipedia.org]. In these examples, the doors either close at the same time for the observer stationary with respect to the barn, or at different times for the observer running with the pole.

              OK, sorry, should have said ""X doesn't happen after Y" is an invariant" (there don't exist reference frames such that X happens before Y in one frame and X happens after Y in another frame).

              • Nope. In relativity, each event* divides spacetime into three regions: the future that can be affected, the past that can affect the event, and anything that could be seen as simultaneous from some reference frame. Causality cannot travel faster than light, just like anything else, and whether X can cause Y, or Y can cause X, or neither, are the three sections of spacetime defined by an event. In the event that neither can cause the other, they've got spacewise separation, and some reference frames wil

            • Schrödinger's cat would have been a more common and well known argument, but that does not happen to fix the paradox of whether or not the Universe requires something in order to exist. Schrödinger's cat it's a separate paradox that attempts demonstrate that reality is not only subjective, but two alternative realities exist simultaneously.

              A Universe from Nothing is a book that came out a few years ago, explaining the Expanding Quantum Vacuum theory (and has a few slight derivations). The proble

            • Seriously? There are theories about this?

              A long time ago, when I was reading scifi, I asked a friend who is a theoretical quantum physicist about special relativity. I had two problems: first, that my internal simulation (I run complex systems like physics, economics, wars, and sociology in my head non-mathematically) indicated that time dilation would cause every object in the universe to exist in every position simultaneously; and second, that spinning the universe would be identical to standing in th

        • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by infinitelink ( 963279 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @01:22PM (#48334787) Homepage Journal

          there is always the question 'but what caused that'? really? there is "always" this question only if you continue to think about the world in the same mindset. you don't have to search for an answer in the world through Newtonian glasses. "caused" implies causation. causation implies a before, and an after. first there is the cause, then there is its effects. abstract ideas like before and after are looking at the world from a point of view of LINEAR time. if you truly study relativity, and i mean read Einstein's essays and not just the summary on wikipedia...you realize the linear view of time is just the way our electro-chemical computers (brains) process information. but in relativity, an atomic clock up in an airplane experiences time an a slightly different rate than you on the ground. since it is further from the earth. just think about that! imagine how warped and non-linerar time must really be, in a universe with supernovae and black holes! we can already measure two different RATES of TIME ITSELF just by using an airplane and an atomic clock. how crazy must the REAL story be? it will blow our minds in a thousand years when we understand it even better. so anyway, my point is time is not linear. in fact, most science on cosmology shows that near the big bang...all rules about time and physics break down and make no sense. so why would you expect that, at that critical moment, time is linear and simple and easily understood? why do you insist that at that moment, anything caused anything else? i don't think it really worked that way. it's just that the true way it worked is so complex, we are only now beginning to try to wrap our minds around impossible ideas like how anything would work in a universe without "before" and "after". i hope, instead of deciding that there is an un-solvable paradox, that you will continue to think about this stuff. don't give up. :) "There are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in our philosophy." --Shakespeare's Hamlet

          The proper response is Einstein's: he became deeply troubled by the consequences of his theories because they implied a beginning when, in his own words, his god was "Spinoza's", i.e. Deus et Natura--God and Nature being one and eternal. Einstein's position was this way because the ancient idea of an omnipotent Sovereign creating ex nihilo was not reconcilable with world cruelty (like Spinoza--also a heretical Jew). But the science (as he understood it) implied just this--a universe with a finite beginning--even if we speak of multiverses and shift the frame...or try to use probabilities to cover-up the glaring fact that a natural universe does not, really, make natural sense--nor is it sensible to fuzz it up with "well our brains just work that way." Among the great advances is that there turns out to be a series of primes and that various mathematical formula seem to indicate that math (or number) is not, in another of Einstein's favorite books (what is math) "[merely] a creation of the human mind." Einstein by the way, ended-up rejecting (as total) his belief to follow the science, and the way things have played-out since, under testing his theories are largely correct (of course, with refinement-revisions). I find it funny how probabilities keep being used to mask and cover-up failures to find causes and that this procedure is being substituted for real science even at the most fundamental levels of inquiry--this is the very thing Einstein condemned with "God does not play dice." And for those who are hyper-precise...I know all of the above is way too impreicse but then, doing better would require a longer crazier rant subject to much more deconstruction.

          • Crazy rant is correct because that's all it is. You're understanding of Einstein is severely lacking. Einstein believed in a deterministic universe and not the non-deterministic one espoused by Bohr and the Copenhagen interpretation of the quantum wave function. Einstein spent years developing paradoxes to demonstrate quantum physics could not be a complete theory. Unfortunately for Einstein, experimental physics kept validating quantum physics.
        • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by HiThere ( 15173 ) <charleshixsn@earthlink. n e t> on Friday November 07, 2014 @04:38PM (#48336823)

          There actually *is* a real problem here. At least if you consider space and time as parts of the universe. If there is no space and no time, then you can't have quantum fluctuations.

          My guess is that the actual universe is eternal, and that space and time exist without (most?) of the other features of the universe. But that they can be distorted by mass and energy. This essentially solves the problem as I understand it. There is the question of size in the absence of matter and a few other problems.

          If my guess is correct, any "universe" that's created by this process is temporary. (What are a few billion years to eternity?) What's not clear is what the constraints are. Can a new universe be caused (or happen) to erupt within an existing universe? The probability of each eruption at any one point would necessarily be extremely small (or it wouldn't match observations)...but this doesn't mean it couldn't happen, or that it couldn't be caused. What the effects would be are difficult to contemplate. Does the eruption cause new space and time to be created, pushing pre-existing stuff out of the way, or does it occur within the same space-time? Etc.

          P.S.: Whenever you get a singularity you get the laws of physics breaking down because division by zero is an invalid operation. But if Heisenberg's uncertainty rules, then you will never actually get exactly onto the singularity, so the laws don't break down. (You can divide by arbitrarily small numbers, as long as they aren't actually zero.) Sometimes other tricks are used to avoid this problem (see renormalization), but that's the simple way to say it.

          P.P.S.: If you actually read and understand Einstein's work you don't realize that ordinary linear time is an illusion, you realize instead that it's a pretty precise statement of the way things work at low energy levels. It just doesn't work as you approach certain boundaries (like the speed of light, Schwartzhild boundary strength gravity, etc.). This is predictable because we never experience those boundaries. If you want an actual illusion, think about the way electromagnetic waves are translated into color sensations.

          P.P.S.: To reiterate, the laws of physics do not break down near the Big Bang, only *AT* it. And Heisenberg uncertainty offers a way to finesse that problem.

      • Re:Nothing? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by itzly ( 3699663 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @01:02PM (#48334607)
        Our brains were made for the 4 F's: fighting, fleeing, foraging and reproducing. Understanding of quantum mechanics was not a driving factor, so we just have to accept that we don't understand.
        • The key to unraveling the complexity of quantum mechanics and relativity was the realization that intuition is a combination of evolved instinct and everyday observation, and as such is utterly worthless when applied to circumstances in which we neither evolved nor observe in everyday life. Quantum or cosmic scales, speeds near that of light. Or even the origin of the universe.

      • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by shadowrat ( 1069614 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @01:06PM (#48334633)
        In our experience, there's always a next question. I wouldn't call that a paradox. That's like saying driving down the road is a paradox because once you finish a mile, there's another mile.

        If we can say for certainty that our universe was created in this quantum fluctuation we answered a question. It raised another question about what is fluctuating, but that question doesn't invalidate the first. We moved ahead.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        That is not a problem. There really is no requirement for a definite beginning or a definite end.

      • There is ALWAYS the question "but what caused THAT?"

        Causation implies action and result, a before and after. Those concepts are a function of time, which didn't exist before the universe.

        It's like asking what the length and width of the universe were at the singularity - the question doesn't have meaning even though our reptile brains insist that time is always present (which is tremendously useful for hunting crickets, so no flags down).

      • Re:Nothing? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @03:22PM (#48335949)

        And that's the paradox. There is ALWAYS the question "but what caused THAT?" with no ultimate answer more satisfactory than a meta-physicist can come up with.

        See, you're thinking classically. Causality must be maintained. But causality is an artifact of the existence of time. The big bang created time as well.

        It would be like a stick figure on a piece of paper saying "Ok, so I was drawn by a giant pencil. But where IS the pencil?!? I can look to the top and bottom of the paper... to the right and left... there is no giant pencil! Therefor it cannot exist."

    • Sort of.

      It's not "something" in the sense that you're used to, in that it obeys strict progressions from cause to effect over time, or has point mass.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by evil crash ( 739354 )

      So quantum fluctuations are "nothing" then?

      Everyone knows they are caused by turning the electric can opener on and off.

    • This reminds me back when one insightful person referred to the stretches being done for string theories as "masturbated math." In the mechanico/natural-scientific realm, ex nihilo is mathematically and qualitatively not possible...by definition. That "Science" is being stretched to try and explain origins like this bespeaks much. That we are ignoring that probabilities are a tool to overcome our own limitations of dealing with complexity and at the same time cause-effect is grammatically the same thing as
      • This reminds me back when one insightful person referred to the stretches being done for string theories as "masturbated math." In the mechanico/natural-scientific realm, ex nihilo is mathematically and qualitatively not possible...by definition. That "Science" is being stretched to try and explain origins like this bespeaks much. That we are ignoring that probabilities are a tool to overcome our own limitations of dealing with complexity and at the same time cause-effect is grammatically the same thing as the last statement.

        In order for there to be "science," in the modern sense the scientific method [wikipedia.org] must be applied. This requires testable (e.g. collect experimental data, observing events in objective reality [wikipedia.org], etc.) of hypotheses -- that is, falsifiability [wikipedia.org].

        This work, as well as the various string theories, cannot be tested, so are not falsifiable. Hence, they are not "science" in the modern sense. However, the mathematics underpinning the work may allow for the advancement of real science. Hooray for mathematics!

    • And to add ...

      At the heart of their thinking is Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. This allows a small empty space to come into existence probabilistically due to fluctuations in what physicists call the metastable false vacuum. When this happens, there are two possibilities. If this bubble of space does not expand rapidly, it disappears again almost instantly.

      So, along with quantum fluctuations of "nothing", we also have to include time with this explanation. But, according to Einstein time is an integ

    • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
      Atreyu can fight the nothing! We live in Fantasia.
  • Okay, but (Score:5, Informative)

    by 31415926535897 ( 702314 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:00PM (#48334109) Journal

    1. Quantum fluctuations are not nothing, but I guess we have to sell headlines here
    2. Inflation Theory seems faster than "exponential" expansion. We're talking about a theory that went from the size of a singularity to something bigger than the visible universe in 10^-32 seconds. Exponential is quite pedestrian compared to what is theorized.

    • Mass is an emergent property. Once the density of the universe allowed for it, time emerged too and the expansion rate turned into something we can intuitively conceptualize.

    • Re:Okay, but (Score:5, Informative)

      by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:22PM (#48334293)

      1) Depends what you mean by nothing. by standard measures of "mass" or "energy" quantum fluctuations are pretty much nothing. In fact I'm pretty sure virtual particle pairs are *exactly* nothing if measured from a sufficient distance.
      2) Are you sure? I thought I had heard the growth rate referred to as exponential by cosmologists, though I couldn't swear it wasn't "science reporters" inserting fancy-sounding words they don't understand. After all in a scientific context "exponential" says nothing whatsoever about speed, it specifically refers to the shape of the growth curve: size = A^(Bt). If B is negative that can actually represent an infinitely slowing convergence to zero, as in nuclear radioactivity. And if A and/or B are large enough an exponential growth can be as insanely fast as you like.

      • Re:Okay, but (Score:5, Interesting)

        by radtea ( 464814 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @01:27PM (#48334849)

        Depends what you mean by nothing. by standard measures of "mass" or "energy" quantum fluctuations are pretty much nothing. In fact I'm pretty sure virtual particle pairs are *exactly* nothing if measured from a sufficient distance.

        There's a joke attributed to Abraham Lincoln: Q: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? A: Four. Calling a tail a leg does not make it one.

        Nothing in ordinary parlance (headlines, say) means an absolute absence, which is an empty concept, like the Philosopher's Stone or an honest politician. You don't get to decide for the sake a headline that it means something else. Only grasping little scumbag shills do that, people who are so fundamentally and thoroughly debased that they turn everything they touch--even language--into garbage.

        "Pretty much nothing" is not "nothing". "In terms of mass and energy" is not a relevant restriction. The quantum vacuum is rich in properties. There is absolutely no basis to ignore those properties for the sake of a dishonest, misleading and confusing headline. It's like people who say "Before Europeans arrived North America had no people in it!" Which is true, for a certain value of "people". This is why precision in language matters, because there are people who actually say things like that to the considerable detriment of their fellow-humans.

        "From a sufficient distance" would mean "infinity" if you want to talk about asymptotically vanishing properties of the vacuum, which would still leave all the other properties, so again: it isn't clear why anyone would dishonestly and stupidly restrict the discussion to one particular set of properties unless they wanted to dishonestly and stupidly made a false, dishonest and stupid claim that "the universe came from nothing!"

        So other than being dishonest, stupid and wrong, there is nothing at all dishonest, stupid and wrong abut the claim "the universe came from nothing."

    • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

      "...visible universe in 10^-32 seconds"

      I'm not sure "size" or "seconds" have more than a very abstract mathematical meaning in this context.

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      2. Inflation Theory seems faster than "exponential" expansion. We're talking about a theory that went from the size of a singularity to something bigger than the visible universe in 10^-32 seconds. Exponential is quite pedestrian compared to what is theorized.

      It's an expansion of space itself, not movement of what's in space. And time was not ticking at the rate our local time ticks. It was a long time for a fast clock, so to speak.

  • Wouldn't there need to be "something" for the quantum fluctuations to take place in? At least there would have to be some set of quantum rules of nature wouldn't there?
    • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:10PM (#48334209)

      >> Wouldn't there need to be "something" for the quantum fluctuations to take place in?

      Turtles. Mofo'ing turtles all the way down.

    • Not a silly question...

      It's important to distinguish the anthropic concept of three dimensions plus time-in-one-direction from cosmology. If we don't do that we just attempt to shape the universe in our own image. A whole lot of philosophy needs to be skipped over for the cosmological universe of discourse to make sense.

      There's a simple cheat to better intuit the fabric from which the quantum fluctuation emerged, called the anthropic principle. - Whatever fabric needed to exist did exist and still exists be

    • That is an intermediate question.The final question is: once you proved, not theoretically modeled but proved, that the universe comes from nothing, can you deny god? Or you have simply declared that a hypothetical god started from an empty universe? Implementation details....

      I can hear the hypothetical god laughing and saying: "Yes, I do like zero indexed arrays, you have a problem with that?"

      Take a simulation you run, whose self conscious creatures reverse engineered the rules and the initial conditions

  • The theory still implies something was there before...otherwise what were these quantum fluctuations "in" ?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From the summary:

      This allows a small empty space to come into existence probabilistically due to fluctuations in what physicists call the metastable false vacuum.

      and

      "We prove that once a small true vacuum bubble is created, it has the chance to expand exponentially," say the researchers.

      So, yes, this is a model by which a hyper-infinite sea of not-quite-nothing can have vastly expansive bubbles of actually-nothing. If you're wondering how this relates to the origin of our universe, it doesn't. The lopsided matter and energy of our universe indicates that it was not the result of a singular true-vacuum by any measure. If they had some model that allowed the metastable false vacuum to spawn vastly expanding non-vacuum bubble pairs of opposite matter/energy profiles, t

  • The word 'universe' is much less comprehensive than it once was. In this article, it excludes the 'metastable false vacuum', the precursor to 'the universe'. Did this happen in previous eras? Did anybody refer to the 'solar system' before we knew it was part of the galaxy?

    • The definition of the universe I've followed is 'All the known mass and energy', not all the known space/volume.

  • Dishonesty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:06PM (#48334163) Homepage

    Ex nihilo means literally nothing. There is not even the slightest trace of physical reality in the concept of ex nihilo. If quantum fluctuations are even possible, you are operating a level of existence above ex nihilo.

    • That's pretty much the reason why the catholic pope got in on the game.

      As a discordian pope, I excommunicate catholic assumptions of the meaning of such as blasphemy.

    • This is what I came to ask about. In a pre-big bang universe, how are quantum functions supposed to exist? And how and when did these phenomenon come into existence?
  • by uberdilligaff ( 988232 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:06PM (#48334167)
    Please. Mathematics provides a basis to model the physics. The mathematical model is not the physics. Models fit the physical world remarkably well, but not perfectly. For example, the equations of Newtonian mechanics fit the observed world very well until we could measure relativistic effects accurately. There are singularities in many of these equations where the behavior of the model may not fit the actual physics. To assert that properties of the model at obvious singularities "proves" the physics should be looked at with a great deal of skepticism.
    • Yup, I kinda wish someone would come up with a mathematical proof for geocentrism just to have something to have an FYI for the laity, so people don't go off the deep end over stuff like this.

      • by MouseR ( 3264 )

        Given the universe expanded from a singularity, any point in this singularity is the center of expansion.

        So, there's the geocentric proof.

      • The whole point of Relativity is that you can assume ANY frame of reference you like and get the same answers.

        In other words, if you assume that the Earth is the stationary center of the universe, with the rest of observed reality rotating around it, the numbers still work just fine....

        • In other words, if you assume that the Earth is the stationary center of the universe, with the rest of observed reality rotating around it, the numbers still work just fine....

          I think the real point of relativity is that not only do the numbers work, but that there's absolutely nothing more or less true about that assumption than there is about assuming any other frame of reference. They're all perfectly valid, not just numerically, but because the laws of the universe are fundamentally consistent and favor no frame of reference over any other. Indeed, the way relativity came about was because Einstein felt like such fundamental consistency was how things had to be, and then proc

      • Yup, I kinda wish someone would come up with a mathematical proof for geocentrism just to have something to have an FYI for the laity, so people don't go off the deep end over stuff like this.

        Well, the frame of reference of the Earth is an inertial reference frame, and, in that frame, the Earth doesn't move, everything else moves, so, in that sense, a geocentric solar system, a heliocentric solar system, and a "center of mass of the solar system"-centric solar system are all just a mathematical transformation away from each other, so, if "the Earth doesn't move" counts as "geocentrism", that should take care of it.

        "The Earth doesn't move, and everything orbits around it in simple circles or ell

    • Yes.

      Sadly, "Mathematical Proof That The Laws Of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, As Currently Understood, Allow A Vacuum Bubble To Expand To The Point That It Becomes The Universe" would probably not fit well in the title bar of a Web browser window and require word wrapping in the head of the page, not to mention attracting far fewer clicks, so they didn't choose that as the title, they chose something less accurate but shorter and with more "click me!" zing.

  • Could someone please explain this with a car analogy?
    • by jythie ( 914043 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:23PM (#48334301)
      Ok, so you don't actually have a car, but there is a parking lot, and you have pieces of cars and their antipieces (statistically, for every crankshaft, there is a crankshaft sized hole somewhere else), and given enough time a whole car worth of pieces appears in the parking lot, at which point the driver, who is now quite sick of having to watch where they are going due to the materialization of random heavy metal chunks in the air, can finally leave and get to their job at the car factory.

      Oh, and probably something involving proprietary gas. All the cars made at the plant after this one all use Void brand gasoline and explode unexpectedly if you try using any other kind.
    • It's as if a single-cylinder engine running on a tabletop in the only room in existence suddenly backfired and a whole fleet of semi trucks/lorries sprang into being in an instant, already pre-loaded with cargo, starting from that engine's intake manifold.

  • Didnt Lawrence Krauss write a book about this? http://www.amazon.com/Universe... [amazon.com]
  • So, nothing does exist!
  • ...a whale and a small bowl of petunias.
  • It’s all well and good to say our Big Bang was an inevitable quantum fluctuation in some frothy Metaverse, but then the real question becomes where the Metaverse comes from.

    Whether Metaverse or not, I tend to believe the true answer is something close to Max Tegmark’s Mathematical universe hypothesis [wikipedia.org]. There isn’t really any physical substance, we are the actualizations of pure math. This universe is just one of an uncounatable infinity of universes that exist because the are mathematicall

    • This shims another layer of abstraction in between the causa prima and the now.

      To be specifc, it makes sense for logical entities not to play outside the rules of axiomatic set theory. Axiomtic set theory is defined and limited by this assumption which in turn creates the very fabric by which we do math. - You make up a rule and then you follow it to its logical conclusion.

      Are humans logical entities? A lot of our existence is determined by the evolution of our neurons, which gives rise to an inherit body o

  • by neo-mkrey ( 948389 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @12:53PM (#48334529)
    That the slashdotism currently at the bottom of the page is: "The universe is an island, surrounded by whatever it is that surrounds universes."
  • Can we posit that the big bang quantumly precipitated the universe out of a uniform solution?

  • "One of the great theories of modern cosmology is that the universe began in a "Big Bang", but the mathematical mechanism by which this occurred has been lacking."

    WTF is that? A mathematical mechanism by which this occured? I mean, the universe is physical, the mechanism is physical, the mathematics are a description or a model for the physical thing, not the reverse. A mathematical model can describe and be close to the reality, but it can also describe something which doesn't exist at all. Sketching a mathematical model for the Big Bang doesn't mean the model is valid and describe the reality, you need experimental facts, and enough of them, to make sure the model

  • If there were quantum fluctuations before the big bang, then something had to exist before the big bang. As such, what was proven could be that the big bang was not the beginning of the universe versus the universe came into existence spontaneously.

    Besides, showing something could have happened this way is not the same as proving it did happen this way. Just because there could have been a second shooter on the grassy knoll doesn't mean there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      There was no before. Time was created with the Big Bang. Otherwise you are saying the Big Bang occured in a pre-existing universe, which is not the case. Then you have to ask yourself about this pre-existing universe and how it was created and so on. The before question is pointless.
  • Bullshit, as usual (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @01:29PM (#48334861)

    You cannot "mathematically" prove any properties of physical reality. You always have to abstract, losing accuracy. There is no way to prevent this inaccuracy and for proofs like this one, it is critical to not have this inaccuracy. Hence, this proof is meaningless. Really, this is basic stuff, stop getting it wrong.

  • The Federal Reserve has been using these accounting principles for decades.

  • When I read about false vacuum [wikipedia.org], it sounds like accepting this explanation of the origin of the universe involves accepting that the universe could spontaneously disappear, also - that lack of universe could have started somewhere and be expanding at the speed of light, even now. This feels no fun to me, and I find comfort in my recollection of Skolem's paradox from set theory class, which suggested to me that knowledge about a system (capable of being described by mathematics) that is obtained from within t
    • That could happen only if the current universe were itsself a false vacuum. This question is as yet unanswered, though there is a simple argument against it: If the universe were prone to a further decay, it would probably have happened by now. The current vacuum is thus likely to be the lowest one possible.

      If it did happen, it wouldn't be a 'lack of universe.' It'd just be a universe of a lower vacuum energy, which would alter certain quantum effects. Which in turn would alter all manner of atomic and mole

  • The question is: does the Wheeler-DeWitt equation allow this? "We prove that once a small true vacuum bubble is created, it has the chance to expand exponentially," say the researchers.

    ...and then our Universe is displaced by an entirely new one.

    And then there's this from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy [wikipedia.org]:

    There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

    There is another theory, which states that this has already happened.[

  • Before the big bang we were nothing. Anti-matter you could say. Because there was nothing. Then, a singularity so heavy, so singular, so dense, that it falls into our nothingness, our "anti-matter" and boom, created matter as we know it.

    While our universe seems to started from nothing, we actually are just another universe packed into travel size.

    While I am not an expert of anything but fixing computers, this is always what seemed more logical to me, then a "God" or something out of nothing theories.

  • Intellectuals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Art3x ( 973401 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @02:26PM (#48335413)

    "There are some ideas so preposterous that only an intellectual could believe them."

    --- George Orwell

  • by u19925 ( 613350 ) on Friday November 07, 2014 @04:46PM (#48336901)

    There is no such thing as completely mathematical proof. All mathematical proof require some axioms (fundamental assumptions) and all proofs depend on those axioms. You can't prove something mathematically to someone who refuse to accept your axioms (and there is nothing wrong with it). For example, if I don't accept Euclid's 5th postulate, you can't prove me that sum of triangle is 180 degrees. The same goes for this proof. There are set of axioms and what the author is saying is that "if you accept my axioms, then" "i have a complete mathematical proof...". The title of this story eliminates the first part to sensationalize the second part.

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