Life, the Universe and Everything

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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 11:33 am

OK, so in this one it's mostly about the Universe:

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/mar/14/gravitational-waves-big-bang-universe-bicep

There is apparently speculation in the scientific community that a US-led research team is on the verge of confirming a major breakthrough discovery: that of "primordial gravitational waves". Now I'm not a massive expert on the subject (although it is one that fascinates me hugely), but as I understand it gravitational waves are like "echoes" of the Big Bang, or how the Universe came into being.

The speculation is that the team have detected "primordial gravitational waves", which would be a sign of what happened in the very very beginning of the Universe. The theory is that 10^(-34) seconds after the Big Bang, the Universe began to expand hugely, a process known as inflation, which helps to explain why the Universe is so remarkably uniform from place to place. Until now, there was no evidence for this Theory, but the detection of primordial gravitational waves would be a huge step to back it up, as it is believed that only inflation could amplify these waves to a detectable signal.

An anouncement is expected on Monday, exciting times!

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Post by ONETWOFOREVER on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 12:47 pm

How could the Universe be created?

what was before it?


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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 4:59 pm

as I understand it, the whole concept of "before" the Big Bang is completely meaningless, since that is when Time began.

Am I to understand you side with Roger Primrose's Theory Onetwo? The one by which matter is constant, with no creation or extinction. Thought Hawking disproved that one a while back, no?

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Post by kingraf on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 5:18 pm

Stephen Hawking is a bit of a superstar scientist, and superstars can't be wrong... even when they are wrong.

My issue with the big bang Is two-fold

1) Probability - There isn't enough space on the internet to write out the zeroes which would suffix the "." and prefix the "1" in terms of percentage chances of it occurring - or better put, if you bet on the big bang occurring with one Zimbabwean cent... your pay out probably ends world hunger forever...
2) The small matter of it flying in the face of physics.

Not decided on the theory myself - but for the life of me I can't see why it keeps being spouted as a doubtless fact.
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Post by Stella on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 6:56 pm

Fascinating stuff that largely goes way over the head. One theory is that our universe was created from a black hole from another universe, hence many universes. Something we will probably never know.

I do hope that we will one day time travel. Unfortunately not an experience we will see.
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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Sat 15 Mar 2014, 10:50 pm

sorry to burst your bubble Stella, but I'm almost certain Time Travel is rendered impossible by a consequence of Einstein's general theory of relativity. While I'm a little hazy on the details, if you accept the Theory as correct, the progress of Time can be slowed down indefinitely (by traveling as close as possible to the speed of light) but never reversed, which sort of rules out time travel. Then again, you never know...

raf, the reason the Big Bnag gets spouted as fact is simple: it's the only theory we have which stands up to all available evidence, as well as being backed up by a shedload more evidence (for instance gravitational waves, which are relics of said Big Bang). I would be curious to why you think it "flies in the face of physics".

As for Hawking, his disproving of Primrose's theory predates his rise to stardom by quite a bit (very much some of his early work), yes he's become a superstar, but that doesn't prevent him from being wrong: IIRC he was a fan of String Theory, a Theory which was meant to unify the main physics Theories (Gravtitation, Relativity, Quantum Mechanics and Electro-Magnetism), but hasn't lived up to its initial promise (in fact there's now a belief that a lot of effort was wasted trying to make various elements "fit" String Theory, and sometimes links were erroneously forced).

Stella, the black hole theory is interesting: I think one of the ways the Big Bang is visualised is as a black hole with time reversed. A black hole is a singularity which absorbs everything (including light, hence the name), until eventually you're left with nothing but a "hole". The Big Bang is sort of like that but backwards: start with a singularity, which expands, to become the Universe. I think this is something we'll never know: isn't there a principle or law which stated you can't observe the "outside" of something from within it? i.e. while it's not impossible that we'll be able to eventually work out exactly how the Universe came into being, and where it's going, we'll never know anything not pertaining to the Universe itself.

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Post by kingraf on Sun 16 Mar 2014, 6:57 am

For instance MfC, assuming the Big Bang theory is a realistic matter (and I'm not dismissing it... just how all the puzzle pieces are forced to fit in to it) - one would assume a uniform "bang" so to speak... Quite remarkable then that we have galaxies that rotate clockwise, and others anti-clockwise... Shouldn't occur (think of two kids falling out of the same merry go round... Both fall in a uniform direction).

Secondly - I assume we all accept the law of conservation of energy... Leaves a chicken-egg situation with the Bang.

It is my belief that in the absence of overwhelming evidence - all possibilities have an equal chance of having occurred.

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Post by Mad for Chelsea on Sun 16 Mar 2014, 10:27 am

hello again raf. When I read your first paragraph my initial reaction was "what is he on about? clockwise and counter-clockwise don't mean anything for galaxies". Let me explain: if you have a transparent clock, and look at the hands from the front they rotate clockwise (hence the name), but if you look at them from the back (ie through the clock) they are rotating counter clockwise. So how do we determine in the universe which way is "up" and which way is "down"? So then I had a quick browse of google (wonderful tool Very Happy) and it appears that clockwise and counter-clockwise do have a meaning in space, so there you go. Though I don't understand those meanings. It turns out as far as we know there are more galaxies which spin counter-clockwise than clockwise, i.e. there is a spin bias out there.

Re the law of conservation (assuming we're including Einstein's E=MC^2 here) then yes, we do accept it. But take a black hole, it absorbs everything right? hence energy (or mass) disapearing. So if we take the Big Bang to be a black hole with time reversed it makes sense somehow.

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Post by kingraf on Sun 16 Mar 2014, 10:49 am

Apologies for not being a better dance partner MfC - I'd have been much better at this 18-months ago. Alas, my interests have moved more towards philosophy, and African History. I can understand why you didn't initially catch the rotational argument - there's a law for it, which would have explained it - alas, it's name escapes me.
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Post by kingraf on Sun 16 Mar 2014, 11:03 am

Essentially - multi items resulting from the same explosion/release system, should have uniform motion. Therefore, assuming the big bang really happened - all galaxies should rotate in the same direction. The spin bias therefore, is a bit of stumbling block for me.

Re LCM - According to Hawking, black holes in fact evaporate slowly - therefore the energy doesn't actually disappear, and in fact slowly returns the energy back to the galaxy.
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Post by ONETWOFOREVER on Sun 16 Mar 2014, 1:26 pm

Does a black hole move like a scroll?

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