Sunday, 21 September 2008
Another interesting speculation brought up the "Quantum Enigma" (see previous post) has to do with creating a new reality.
The quandary is that if all reality is created by our observation, then does not "looking back 'now' give reality to what happened 'then'?" (John Wheeler, in the 1970s). So, it takes observation to bring reality to the Big Bang but whatever is doing the observation must have been created after the Big Bang---a rather self-referential bit of logic.
[quoting from the book now because it's so much easier than trying to summarize a summary ...]
"Accepting the boggle, we might ask: Though we could only create a universe in which we could exist, is the one we did create the only one we could have created? With a different observation, or different postulate, would the universe be different? It has been wildly speculated that postulating a theory that is not in conflict with any previous observation actually creates a new reality.
"For example, Hendrick Casimir, motivated by the discovery of the positron after its seemingly unlikely prediction, mused: 'Sometimes it almost appears that the theories are not a description of a nearly inaccessible reality, but that so-called reality is a result of the theory.' Casimir may also have been motivated by his own prediction, later confirmed, that the vacuum energy in space would case macroscopic metal plates to attract each other.
"If there's anything to Casimir's speculation, might Einstein's original suggestion of a cosmological constant have caused the acceleration of the universe? (Such a speculation can't be proven wrong.) Though taking such ideas literally surely seems ridiculous, we see how outrageously the quantum enigma has allowed us to speculate."
NOTE: The comment about Einstein and his cosmological constant refers to Einstein's initial theory of general relativity containing a constant, a fudge-factor more or less, that adds a repulsive force to keep the universe stable. But in 1929, Hubble announced that the universe is not stable but expanding and, therefore, Einstein's fudge-factor was not needed. Einstein called it the "greatest blunder of my carerr." He realized that had he believed his original theory, he would have predicted an expanding universe decades before it would be discovered. But the story continues because the effect of dark matter (no, not the "dark matter" of our Dark Philosopher's brain---although that is a force to be reckoned with and, perhaps, should be included in the equations) is a repulsive force not accounted for in the equations. Thus, Einstein's cosmological constant is back in the equations.
Posted by ken at 17:47