The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself?

Review in brief of the book: “The Big Picture, On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself,” by Sean Carroll a theoretical physicists at the California Institute of Technology. The book is the winner of the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.

Front cover of book. Published by Oneworld Publications, London, 2016, 470 pages.

On the inside book cover these questions are written:

Where are we? Who are we? Do our beliefs, hopes and dreams mean anything out there in the void? Can human purpose and meaning ever fit into a scientific worldview?

Carroll’s message in this book is that there is no ultimate purpose, we are only the product of matter and material forces, there is no meaning to life, there is no afterlife and meaning and purpose do not fit into any scientific worldview. But the author tries to dress it up saying that it’s what you put into your life that counts. Beauty is found in the observer. But he cannot escape his own bondage because his worldview ultimately does not allow for intrinsic meaning or purpose. He is just dead in the end.

There is nothing new in this book but a lot of atheistic philosophy stemming from Enlightenment philosopher David Hume. The author uses circular reasoning and begging the question. By assuming there is no Creator because He is not needed in the universe, to cause it or operate within it, and by assuming everything in the past evolution of the universe, and life in it, is explained by man’s current knowledge (Darwinian evolution of mutation and natural selection) then everything can be explained how it came to be. The universe needs no reason to exist. It simply is. Life needs no reason, it simply is. There was nothing before time began in the big bang so no question can be asked what was before? There is no First Cause because either the universe came into the existence with the beginning of time itself, or, time is fundamental and always existed so from it and the laws of physics the universe spontaneously arose from some quantum fluctuation. Now that we are smarter we have become to understand this true fact.

He talks of methodological empiricism as the correct way to learn the truth about the universe but he offers no direct empirical evidence for the origin of the universe in a big bang, or for the initial alleged low entropy state it started in, or for the spontaneous origin of life by random chance, or for the alleged Darwinian evolution of living organisms by natural selection over eons of history. We are essentially asked to just believe these as given facts as much as the author seems to. Only he offers up stories to justify his beliefs. As a book alleged to give the Big Picture of the Universe and all life in it, it fails on the very premise the author sets out to use—direct observation of the world to discover the truth. Continue reading

Antimatter matters for the big bang origin of the Universe

In what physicists have called a “technical tour-de-force”, scientists have for the first time made measurements of how antimatter atoms absorb light.1

The ALPHA antimatter experiment at CERN has measured an energy transition in anti-hydrogen.

The ALPHA antimatter experiment at CERN has measured an energy transition in anti-hydrogen. Credit: CERN

Researchers from the ALPHA collaboration team at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory outside Geneva, collected cold antihydrogen atoms in a magnetic “bottle” and irradiated them with an ultraviolet laser to test what frequency of light is needed to excite the antimatter atoms into an excited state. This was done to test to see if antimatter atoms behave the same way as their normal matter counterparts. No discrepancy (a null result) was found with standard theory, which predicts that antihydrogen should have the same energy levels as normal hydrogen.

The null result is still a thrill for researchers who have been working for decades towards antimatter spectroscopy, the study of how light is absorbed and emitted by antimatter. The hope is that this field could provide a new test of a fundamental symmetry of the known laws of physics, called CPT (charge-parity-time) symmetry.

CPT symmetry predicts that energy levels in antimatter and matter should be the same. Even the tiniest violation of this rule would require a serious rethink of the standard model of particle physics.

Cosmological implications

So what? you might ask! Continue reading

Warp drive

Gene Roddenberry’s classic sci-fi drama, Star Trek, made famous the warp drive, a theoretical concept whereby a spacecraft travels Faster Than Light (FTL).

I was once told by a ‘trekky’ enthusiast that the warp speeds they describe on the television shows and in the movies, may be calculated as follows. Warp factor w, from the original Star Trek series, means that the spacecraft travels at w3 times the canonical speed of light (c @ 300,000 km/s or 186,000 miles/s).3 Therefore warp factor w = 7 means the spacecraft travels at 73 = 343 c.  It would be unusual to hear that the starship the USS Enterprise (see Fig. 1) had exceeded warp factor 9, which is about 729 times the speed of light.

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Figure 1: The starship the USS Enterprise, from the original Star Trek TV series, which could travel faster than light by engaging its warp drive.

To travel even around the local neighbourhood of our galaxy warp factor 9 (from the original TV series) just won’t do it. The nearest star to our solar system is about 4 light-years away. So travelling at warp 9, you would take 2 days to get there. Not too bad but what about to other star systems?

To travel 50 light-years, which is a very small distance in the Galaxy and which includes very few stars—only 64 Sun-like stars—would take you 25 days at this speed. Within a distance of 100 light-years from Earth there are known to be only 512 stars of the same spectral class as our sun1 and very few of those might be candidates for a solar system that could potentially support life.2 So it would be much better to be able to travel 100 light-years quite quickly but that would take you 50 days, nearly 2 months. However in the TV shows they often arrive in just a matter of hours. Continue reading

Quantum theory to eliminate the beginning of the Universe

Genesis begins with “In the beginning God …”. But those who deny the creation of the Universe by God, the self-existent Creator, as described in Genesis–the book of beginnings–the first book of the Bible, would very much like to eliminate the beginning itself.

singularity

Mathematical illustration of a fictional singularity

I have reported before on various attempts to eliminate the beginning, even a big bang beginning in a singularity.1,2 Those who do attempt such a thing, think if they can find a mathematical description by way of some quantum gravity theory then it must also follow that the Creator is not needed and that that somehow eliminates Him.  As an example of this the following was stated in 2015 on the Phys.org news site in relation to some theoretical research, which I have previously reported1 on, but it is worth reiterating. It was stated that

The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.3 (emphases added)

The desire is there for an eternal universe because it eliminates the Creator. What is interesting in this case is that it also intends to eliminate the need for dark energy and dark matter, which I have long said are fudge factors. There is no laboratory evidence for their existence; they are only invoked in cosmology and astrophysics because the standard model just does not describe what we observe without them. This is an admission that that is the case.

The other big big bang problem is the singularity itself. No one has a clue about the physics that should have operated if the fictional singularity was once reality. The mathematical descriptions used in modern cosmology—developed from Einstein’s general relativity—just don’t work when time and space no longer exist as is believed to be the case in the alleged singularity.4 Continue reading

Now the expansion of the universe is not accelerating

In 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, as part of two separate teams which published their results around 1998 that they claimed showed that the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Also they claimed the existence of some sort of mysterious ‘dark energy’ that was driving the expansion at a faster and faster rate.

Hubble image of supernova remnant N 49 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Hubble image of supernova remnant N 49 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The interpretation of the 1998 data depended heavily on the big bang cosmological theory they applied and the assumption that it was the correct theory to describe the structure and time evolution of the Universe. It also depended heavily on the assumption that the type Ia supernova explosions that they used are reliable standard “light bulbs”, i.e. that those stellar explosions all were accurately chosen to have the same characteristic intrinsic absolute brightness.1 The latter, however, we now know is not the case.2

It has been shown that the stellar masses of the stars that result in the type Ia class of supernova are not so well-defined that they all fall within a narrow range as to give a clear standard in terms of the intrinsic brightness of the resulting explosions and hence the type Ia are not a uniform reference. Also as I have previously indicated circular reasoning was employed in the choice of the candidate supernova to be considered.2,3 The cosmology under test was used to choose the candidate Ia supernovae and then those chosen were used to test the same cosmology.

A new study, published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, on a data set ten times larger than the original studies used (5 years ago) has been carried out.4

Now, a team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept. Making use of a vastly increased data set – a catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae, more than ten times the original sample size – the researchers have found that the evidence for acceleration may be flimsier than previously thought, with the data being consistent with a constant rate of expansion. (emphasis added)

Continue reading

Does Dark Matter matter?

Cosmology and astrophysics nowadays is dominated by the need for the inclusion of Dark Matter at every scale, from galaxy size, to cluster size, to super-cluster size, to the size of the whole Universe. It is needed at every scale size to get the physics to agree with the observational data. After 50 years of looking in local laboratory experiments there has not been a single trace of it found anywhere. And it would not be overstating the case to say Dark Matter is in serious crisis!

dm-livesThis situation reminds me of a current political trend in America, that is, “Black Lives Matter”, which has turned into a major movement. The proponents of it, describe it as a response to virulent anti-Black racism that they claim permeates the US society.

With that in mind, and in response to a discussion on Dark Matter, a friend sent me this graphic (see Fig. 1), quite obviously as a joke. It is funny but on another level it highlights a problem in the cosmology/ astrophysics society that is not so funny. The problem is that the majority are saying “Dark Matter Lives”. And they are saying that despite the actual experimental evidence to the contrary. In their minds it only “lives” because without it the standard paradigm is “dead”.

Big bang cosmology and the dynamics of galaxies and clusters of galaxies require that “Dark Matter Lives”. Those who voice the obvious fact that Dark Matter is not real, or, should I say, is “dead”, are sidelined or ridiculed. The secular physics community hold that those who express such opinions are expressing a sort of anti-science bias because it ultimately involves a rejection of the big bang paradigm.

Recently the Dark Matter crisis has deepened even more. The admission by a group of theoretical physicists that the physics theory called supersymmetry (SUSY) has been all but disproven by 10 years of experimental searching with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has made matter worse.1  That meant one of the last hopes of a dark matter particle was the expected lowest mass supersymmetric particle, which has not been detected. Other searches for dark matter particles among neutrinos have also not been successful. After 50 years of searching no Dark Matter has ever been found. It existence is purely a matter of faith. Continue reading

Questions on the ASC model

The following I received in an email in relation to the ASC model. The ASC model, I believe, answers the biblical creationist starlight-travel-time problem. Actually it eliminates it, because there is no light-travel problem, of any sort, in that biblical cosmogony. I do agree though that people not familiar with ideas of relativity and the speed of light measurement may have confusion or misunderstandings on this topic. The writer’s words are in blue text and my responses in grey.

Hello.  I appreciate greatly your ongoing contribution to the creation-science cause.  However, I find I just don’t get ASC. I’m sure the following will expose a misunderstanding, but when you suggest ideas like celestial events being ”time-stamped” only when seen on Earth, that comes across as if God really created the stars earlier than Day 4, but their light was only visible on Earth on Day 4.  ASC also sounds to me like it’s not describing actual reality, but only appearances. Thus it seems (again, to my confused perspective) that straightforward biblical statements about actual celestial events are not trustworthy.

Firstly let me define ASC model. It is the biblical creation model where the Anisotropic Synchrony Convention (ASC) is assumed as the clock synchrony convention for timing all events. The ASC model was developed by Jason Lisle (references below) and I have developed my own model as an extension of his using the exact same ASC convention.

If starlight travel is to fit within 6 Earth-days, then it confuses me even further when you say that the ASC model doesn’t require time dilation.

I suspect you may tell me that my reasoning “assumes the ESC model,” as I’ve read you telling several others.  In case you would say the same to me, I don’t see how that could be the case, since I’d never heard of the ESC before an hour ago.  No, my only assumption here is that Genesis statements about celestial events are statements about actual reality, not mere “time-stamps.”  I don’t see how the ASC model can be squared with Exodus 20:11.

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Massive solar flare imaged with NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: NASA

Quite obviously not having heard the term, or even the reason, for something does not exclude the use of it from our experience as it could be something we have been taught all our lives but never known what it was called. Does the average person, who keeps their food cool in a refrigerator, actually know why it preserves food better than being left in a room temperature box? And does the average person even know the term ‘thermodynamics’ and how it works? Have they ever heard of ‘Gibbs free energy’ without which the fridge couldn’t do any ‘work’? Do they even know that refrigerators do ‘work’? Ignorance is not necessarily a valid argument.

Just never having heard the expression “Einstein Synchrony Convention (or ESC)” does not mean that a person doesn’t automatically assume it when thinking about an event connected to the reception of a light signal.

When the light from this massive solar flare left the sun we had our eyes closed but when we opened them, 8.3 minutes later, the light entered our eyes and we saw it at the moment of the eruption.” Continue reading