Saturday, March 18, 2006

Inflation, Universe Style

More evidence for the big bang continues, specifically the inflation theory, thanks to the NASA probe WMAP. The age of the universe is now estimated at 13.7 billion years old following the big bang that caused one tremendous expansion of the universe in less than a trillionth of a second.

Currently I'm reading a book about this subject called The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene who gets a line in the article I linked above. I'm surprised he didn't get a few more lines as he is quite able in discussing physics and cosmology in layman's terms with a wit and wonder to boot.

I'm awed by the vastness of the universe. As the article states, all that we can see is a radius of 13.7 billion light years in distance, yet we now know that that radius is only a dot in the expanse of the universe. Conceivable there are parts of the universe that are trillions of light years distant. There may be no limit that we can even describe.

The information that is being revealed by the probe are more supportive of the big bang of the inflaton (without the i) theory. This theory is explained by Brian Greene in his book, I can't nearly do justice in explaining it here. But inflaton explains why the big bang happened as it did. It doesn't explain what was before the big bang or why we had a big bang. Those questions will probably never be answered.

Unless you care to say God did it. But that begs the question of who or what created God. In a cause and effect world and universe, what is the ultimate cause? How can there be a beginning when everything we know shows that something came before. Things we consider a "beginning" really have something that made that beginning.

A baseball game doesn't start on the first pitch, that's not the beginning of the game. It is a cumulation of players showing up, equipment being assembled, a diamond that was made sometime earlier, a history to depend on that allows for rules, etc., etc. It's the chicken or the egg, which came first? They came together, evolving beginning by beginning which weren't really beginnings. We can follow the chicken and the egg all the way back to the big bang that created the matter the chicken and egg needed to be made from.

Our universe may have been born from another universe, the theory is completely plausible but at this point unprovable. That chicken/egg may have come from a previous universe and universes. Our own universe may be giving birth through an inflationary burst (a big bang) to other universes, yet how would we know? We can't flip back and forth between universes to compare them, to verify them. At least as far as know now, we can't or are not doing that.

The one answer we may never be able to acheive, in a cause and effect universe was there an ultimate cause? Was there an actual beginning, nothing before?


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