Thursday, 11 January 2018

Could the Universe have Created Itself?

Skydive Phil has a new Before the Big Bang episode out, “Can the Universe Create Itself?”  In The Boundary Proposal and i-Time, before having seen the video, I suggested that the answer would be no.  Now, after having seen it, my answer remains a steadfast no.  Note that I have changed the tense in the title of this article, effectively making it a different question, but the answer to both questions is no.

I think that the star of the video, Gott (amusingly the German word for “god”, noting that all nouns in German are capitalised), was addressing a different question: could the universe have emerged from a closed timelike curve? or, could a universe which is temporally unbounded have a beginning in the finite past?  The answer to both of these, according to Gott, is yes.

My issue, however, is that all the clever folding of space (and balancing of different types of vacuums to result in zero energy and zero pressure) doesn’t provide you with an escape from the problem of (infinite) regress in which you keep going back to an initial state and ask how that “initial” state got there – at which point you admit to a new “initial” state.  Even if there was a primordial closed timelike loop out which our universe sprung (somehow resulting in the hot dense, pre-Big Bang state), you can ask how that closed timelike loop got there.  And was (is?) the medium in which that closed timelike loop existed (exists?)?  Clearly it’s not “in space”, but it would be a loop of something, presumably, “in” something.

I agree that, given the assumption of an initial closed timelike loop, we could have a universe that just happens due to a quantum fluctuation but I don’t think we really have an argument here against a theist (the believer in a different kind of Gott) who might argue for a quantum engineering version of the Creator, one that carefully sculpts a very specific closed timelike loop – from nothing and in nothing – out of which the pre-determined universe springs entirely in accordance with some divinely inscrutable plan.


I have a somewhat different view on cosmogony, the origins of the universe.  As I described in The Boundary Proposal and i-Time, I see this universe as being inside a black hole.  I also see the universe that is “outside” (and in a sense “outwhen”) our black hole as also being inside a black hole, although I don’t have the same level of evidence to support that notion – I am just assuming the consistency of relativity (some of the initial conditions would be not need to be consistent across universes).  And so on, each universe is encapsulated in a black hole nestled in the next universe up.  (I say “up” because a black hole is a gravity well and you go down into wells.)

Although this universe (and all universes in this chain) may be future eternal, we can nevertheless consider them as being a sequence of expansion-contraction phases (ECPs) – because the part that matters, the mass-energy will inevitably contract even if the empty space around it expands forever.

My concept is that it is possible, if unlikely, under quantum physics for things to wobble into existence.  Not things like Boltzmann brains, which are far too complex to actually eventuate, but tiny amounts of mass-energy.  Even if only miniscule amounts of mass-energy eventuate in each link of the universal chain, the chain is not limited as far as the number of links (the ECPs) so eventually, you will end up with a universe as large as ours.

I have no idea how much mass-energy could come into existence via quantum mechanical processes in each universe, but if we limit it to, for example, one joule per ECP, then to arrive at a universe our size would take 1070 ECPs.  This is a lot of iterations and it becomes less surprising that, eventually, a species such as ours should eventuate.  It could be that less mass-energy is added each time, perhaps the least amount of energy possible at the time it comes into existence - which today would be c.h/(width of the universe) and that is a pretty small amount of energy.

Now this idea can be applied to another problem – if only very small amounts of energy are added each time, how could it be that the first black hole formed?  If there was only a tiny bit of energy at first it would not be enough to form a black hole, because you need at least a Planck mass in a Planck volume (which is notionally the smallest volume).  However, if the lowest amount of mass-energy that can be added by quantum mechanics to a universe is defined by c.h/(width of the universe) then, when the universe is as small as it can be, at Planck volume, the width is one unit of Planck length and in that case the lowest possible amount of energy is precisely one unit of Planck energy, precisely what you need for your first black hole.  This first black hole would commence the ECP process, which is initially instantaneous (actually one unit of Planck time), until there is another quantum mechanical event that adds another minimum amount of energy.  So the number of ECPs between us and that first quantum mechanical event could be, well … astronomical.  Beyond astronomical.

In my model, the universe does not create itself, but its beginnings are extremely humble, it is equivalent to a multiverse – but at least partially sequential (I have no issue with each individual black hole spawning their own chain of future eternal universes, prior to be being subsumed in the final universal black hole) – and it gives support to the idea that a universe as suitable for life as ours could indeed arise merely by chance, even if “fine tuning” for it were necessary.


I did mention above that the universe, or at least the part of it that matters, will inevitably contract.  This sounds like it might be a big claim, so I will try to address that another day.

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