Tag: Universe

Do You Exist In Infinite Universes?

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Experiments like the double slit experiment have spawned multiple interpretations of quantum physics, including the Copenhagen interpretation and Pilot Wave Theory. But the Many Worlds Hypothesis might be the most mind-blowing of all.

The most popular interpretation of quantum mechanics over the past hundred years was developed by Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in Copenhagen, around 1925. This was fittingly named the Copenhagen Interpretation.

Louis de Broglie [de Broy] came up with the Pilot Wave Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics at about the same time, which I’ve also covered.

Both of these interpretations share the belief that the measured path of a particle is the only real path. The other paths are mere possibilities.

About 30 years later, a slightly drunk Princeton student disagreed. While sipping sherry, or so the story goes, Hugh Everett III started asking, what if all the paths do exist, but are just taken in different realities?

Everett’s ideas were… not well received to say the least. At the time, Niels Bohr was then alive and active in scientific circles. He had a reputation for shutting down any physicist who dared challenge the Copenhagen Interpretation.

And that was where the idea stayed, relegated to the dustbin of history, for the next 2 decades, before it got rediscovered by Bryce DeWitt.

He was the acting editor at Reviews of Modern Physics in 1973 when he ran across the paper and was stunned that nothing ever came of this idea.

Since the 1970s, the Many Worlds Interpretation has gone from being fringe science to an idea mainstream physicists can get behind.

Stephen Hawking was a fan, as was Richard Feynman…though to hear physicists tell it, Feynman was a fan of literally EVERYTHING.

One prominent proponent of Many Worlds working today is David Deutsch, who is a quantum computer pioneer whose cool factor went through the roof when he was mentioned in Avengers: Endgame.

Does Your Mind Create The Universe?

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In 2005, Robert Lanza introduced the theory of Biocentrism to the world. Using quantum mechanics and tests like the double-slit experiment, he argues that consciousness creates the universe and not the other way around

The Truth About Empty Space

We often think of outer space as a never-ending vacuum filled with the occasional galaxy. What we don’t realize is that away from our eyes, this vacuum comes alive.

In order to understand what truly happens behind our backs in the vacuum, we must start by examining space itself.

So what is space? Quantum Field Theory tells us that space is composed of fundamental quantum fields, with a separate field for every particle that makes up our universe.

Electrons, quarks, neutrinos, and other fundamental particles are just the oscillations of the field with different energies. In specific, they have quantum energy, which exists as multiples of a baseline energy.

You can think of this as a ladder with energy levels. Each rung of the ladder represents the existence of one additional particle in that quantum state.

So the bottom of the ladder would be where there is no energy, meaning there are no particles. This is known as the vacuum state.




But as we will see, we cannot actually have zero-energy. Instead, the quantum field gently vibrates randomly. Sometimes this produces enough energy to form particles out of seemingly nothing!

The particles arising out of the fluctuation of quantum fields are called virtual particles.

Empty space is teeming with these virtual particles or “wiggles in the field”.

But there is a catch; these particles are created in particle and anti-particle pairs. They live only for a short instance of time until they destroy each other, popping in and out of existence.

The higher the energy of the particle, the lesser time it can exist. Wait a minute. Virtual Particles? That sounds sketchy. Let me show you the proof.

By definition, these elusive particles only exist when we aren’t watching, but their presence can be felt throughout the universe. In 1948, Hendrick Casimir came up with an ingenious idea to observe these virtual particles.

The Implications of Virtual Particles

Well, these seemingly insignificant particles have made quite an impact on the universe we know today. Not only do they explain “particle-particle interaction“, but they can be traced back to the origin of the universe itself!

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Why Is The Sky Dark At Night?

That question is not as simple as it may sound. You might think that space appears dark at night because that is when our side of Earth faces away from the Sun as our planet rotates on its axis every 24 hours.

But what about all those other far away suns that appear as stars in the night sky? Our own Milky Way galaxy contains over 200 billion stars, and the entire universe probably contains over 100 billion galaxies.

You might suppose that that many stars would light up the night like daytime!

Until the 20th century, astronomers didn’t think it was even possible to count all the stars in the universe. They thought the universe went on forever. In other words, they thought the universe was infinite.

Besides being very hard to imagine, the trouble with an infinite universe is that no matter where you look in the

night sky, you should see a star.

Stars should overlap each other in the sky like tree trunks in the middle of a very thick forest.

But, if this were the case, the sky would be blazing with light. This problem greatly troubled astronomers and became known as “Olbers’ Paradox.” A paradox is a statement that seems to disagree with itself.

To try to explain the paradox, some 19th century scientists thought that dust clouds between the stars must be absorbing a lot of the starlight so it wouldn’t shine through to us.




But later scientists realized that the dust itself would absorb so much energy from the starlight that eventually it would glow as hot and bright as the stars themselves.

Astronomers now realize that the universe is not infinite. A finite universe—that is, a universe of limited size—even one with trillions and trillions of stars, just wouldn’t have enough stars to light up all of space.

Although the idea of a finite universe explains why Earth’s sky is dark at night, other causes work to make it even darker.

Not only is the universe finite in size, it is also finite in age. That is, it had a beginning, just as you and I did.

The universe was born about 15 billion years ago in a fantastic explosion called the Big Bang. It began at a single point and has been expanding ever since.

Because the universe is still expanding, the distant stars and galaxies are getting farther away all the time. Although nothing travels faster than light, it still takes time for light to cross any distance.

So, when astronomers look at a galaxy a million light years away, they are seeing the galaxy as it looked a million years ago.

The light that leaves that galaxy today will have much farther to travel to our eyes than the light that left it a million years ago or even one year ago, because the distance between that galaxy and us constantly increases.

That means the amount of light energy reaching us from distant stars dwindles all the time. And the farther away the star, the less bright it will look to us.

The universe, both finite in size and finite in age, is full of wonderful sights.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

‘White Holes’ May Be the Secret Ingredient in Mysterious Dark Matter

White holes, which are theoretically the exact opposites of black holes, could constitute a major portion of the mysterious dark matter that’s thought to make up most of the matter in the universe, a new study finds.

And some of these bizarre white holes may even predate the Big Bang, the researchers said.

Black holes possess gravitational pulls so powerful that not even light, the fastest thing in the universe, can escape them.

The invisible spherical boundary surrounding the core of a black hole that marks its point of no return is known as its event horizon.

A black hole is one prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Another is known as a white hole, which is like a black hole in reverse: Whereas nothing can escape from a black hole’s event horizon, nothing can enter a white hole’s event horizon.

Previous research has suggested that black holes and white holes are connected, with matter and energy falling into a black hole potentially emerging from a white hole either somewhere else in the cosmos or in another universe entirely.

In 2014, Carlo Rovelli, a theoretical physicist at Aix-Marseille University in France, and his colleagues suggested that black holes and white holes might be connected in another way: When black holes die, they could become white holes.

In the 1970s, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking calculated that all black holes should evaporate mass by emitting radiation. Black holes that lose more mass than they gain are expected to shrink and ultimately vanish.




However, Rovelli and his colleagues suggested that shrinking black holes could not disappear if the fabric of space and time were quantum — that is, made of indivisible quantities known as quanta.

Space-time is quantum in research that seeks to unite general relativity, which can explain the nature of gravity, with quantum mechanics, which can describe the behavior of all the known particles, into a single theory that can explain all the forces of the universe.

In the 2014 study, Rovelli and his team suggested that, once a black hole evaporated to a degree where it could not shrink any further because space-time could not be squeezed into anything smaller, the dying black hole would then rebound to form a white hole.

Black holes nowadays are thought to form when massive stars die in giant explosions known as supernovas, which compress their corpses into the infinitely dense points known as singularities at the hearts of black holes.

Rovelli and his colleagues previously estimated that it would take a black hole with a mass equal to that of the sun about a quadrillion times the current age of the universe to convert into a white hole.

However, prior work in the 1960s and 1970s suggested that black holes also could have originated within a second after the Big Bang, due to random fluctuations of density in the hot, rapidly expanding newborn universe.

Areas where these fluctuations concentrated matter together could have collapsed to form black holes.

These so-called primordial black holes would be much smaller than stellar-mass black holes, and could have died to form white holes within the lifetime of the universe, Rovelli and his colleagues noted.

Although dark matter is thought to make up five-sixths of all matter in the universe, scientists do not know what it’s made of. As its name suggests, dark matter is invisible; it does not emit, reflect or even block light.

As a result, dark matter can currently be tracked only through its gravitational effects on normal matter, such as that making up stars and galaxies. The nature of dark matter is currently one of the greatest mysteries in science.

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Pass it on: New Scientist

Early Opaque Universe Linked To Galaxy Scarcity

It has long been known that the universe is filled with a web-like network of dark matter and gas.

This “cosmic web” accounts for most of the matter in the universe, whereas galaxies like our own Milky Way make up only a small fraction.

Today, the gas between galaxies is almost totally transparent because it is kept ionized — electrons detached from their atoms — by an energetic bath of ultraviolet radiation.

Over a decade ago, astronomers noticed that in the very distant past — roughly 12.5 billion years ago, or about 1 billion years after the Big Bang — the gas in deep space was not only highly opaque to ultraviolet light, but its transparency varied widely from place to place, obscuring much of the light emitted by distant galaxies.

Then a few years ago, a team led by Becker, then at the University of Cambridge, found that these differences in opacity were so large that either the amount of gas itself, or more likely the radiation in which it is immersed, must vary substantially from place to place.




To find out what created these differences, the team of University of California astronomers from the Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles campuses turned to one of the largest telescopes in the world: the Subaru telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Using its powerful camera, the team looked for galaxies in a vast region, roughly 300 million light years in size, where they knew the intergalactic gas was extremely opaque.

For the cosmic web more opacity normally means more gas, and hence more galaxies. But the team found the opposite: this region contained far fewer galaxies than average.

Because the gas in deep space is kept transparent by the ultraviolet light from galaxies, fewer galaxies nearby might make it murkier.

This discovery, reported in the August 2018 issue of the Astrophysical Journal, may eventually shed light on another phase in cosmic history.

In the first billion years after the Big Bang, ultraviolet light from the first galaxies filled the universe and permanently transformed the gas in deep space.

Astronomers believe that this occurred earlier in regions with more galaxies, meaning the large fluctuations in intergalactic radiation inferred by Becker and his team may be a relic of this patchy process, and could offer clues to how and when it occurred.

By studying both galaxies and the gas in deep space, astronomers hope to get closer to understanding how this intergalactic ecosystem took shape in the early universe.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

A Brief History Of The Future

The history of the universe is mind-blowing. But the future of the universe – and how it ends – is even more so.

From the end of the human race to the fate of planet Earth, the solar system, the Milky Way, and beyond, in today’s video, we talk about the far, far future and what it holds for everything.

Puzzling Cosmic Glow Is Caused by Diamond Dust Glamming Up Stars

Diamond dust is responsible for a mysterious glow emanating from certain regions of the Milky Way galaxy, a new study reports.

Astronomers have long known that some type of very small, rapidly spinning particle is throwing off this faint light, which is known as anomalous microwave emission (AME). But they couldn’t identify the exact culprit — until now.

In the new study, researchers used the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Australia Telescope Compact Array to search for AME light in 14 newborn star systems across the Milky Way.

They spotted the emissions in three of these systems, coming from the planet-forming disks of dust and gas swirling around the stars.

This is the first clear detection of anomalous microwave emission coming from protoplanetary disks,” study co-author David Frayer, an astronomer with the Green Bank Observatory, said in a statement.




The study team also detected the unique infrared-light signatures of nanodiamonds — carbon crystals far smaller than a grain of sand — in these same three systems, and nowhere else.

In fact, these [signatures] are so rare, no other young stars have the confirmed infrared imprint,” study lead author Jane Greaves, an astronomer at Cardiff University in Wales, said in the same statement.

The researchers don’t think this is a coincidence.

One to 2 percent of the total carbon in these protoplanetary disks has been incorporated into nanodiamonds, according to the team’s estimates.

Another leading AME-source candidate, a family of organic molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), doesn’t hold up under scrutiny, the researchers said.

The infrared signature of PAHs has been identified in multiple young star systems that lack an AME glow, they noted.

The new results could help astronomers better understand the universe’s early days, study team members said.

Scientists think the universe expanded far faster than the speed of light shortly after the Big Bang, in a brief period of “cosmic inflation.

If this did indeed happen, it should have left a potentially detectable imprint — an odd polarization of the cosmic microwave background, the ancient light left over from the Big Bang.

The new study provides “good news for those who study polarization of the cosmic microwave background, since the signal from spinning nanodiamonds would be weakly polarized at best,” said co-author Brian Mason, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virgina.

This means that astronomers can now make better models of the foreground microwave light from our galaxy, which must be removed to study the distant afterglow of the Big Bang,” Mason added.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

 

Elon Musk Says We’re Probably Characters In Some Advanced Civilization’s Video Game

I don’t want to freak you out here, but there’s a chance you’re not the only ‘you’ in existence.

I’m not talking about the possibility that you might actually have two different brains, which means it’s virtually impossible to tell which one is ‘you’.

I’m talking about the fact that there could well be countless parallel universes, and each one contains a slightly different version of you.

Within that parallel universe construct, our own reality might not be as ‘real’ as you think. Are some of the most massive objects in our Universe nothing but holograms?

Is our Universe itself a hologram? Is this whole thing one giant simulation and we’re just characters in the most advanced video game ever? I swear I’m not high.




Everything I just mentioned is part of actual thought experiments that have been devised and debated over by the world’s best thinkers for years now, because one way or another, we have to make sense of this very strange and incredibly unlikely reality we’ve found ourselves in.

At Recode’s annual Code Conference this week in California, billionaire tech genius Elon Musk was asked about the possibility of us humans being unwitting participants in a giant simulation built by some alien civilization that’s far more advanced than our own.

His argument is pretty simple, if we look at our own history of video games. Forty years ago, video games meant stuff like Pong and Space Invaders.

Now we have photorealistic, three-dimensional stuff that looks like this, and we could have millions, potentially even billions, of people all playing the same game online at the same time.

Sure, there’s a certain ‘uncanny valley‘ quality to our video game counterparts right now, but think of what things are going to look like in another 40, or even 20 years’ time, with virtual and augmented reality already trying to inch its way into our living rooms.

Musk explains:

“If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, even if that rate of advancement drops by a thousand from what it is now. Then you just say, okay, let’s imagine it’s 10,000 years in the future, which is nothing on the evolutionary scale.

So given that we’re clearly on a trajectory to have games that are indistinguishable from reality, and those games could be played on any set-top box or on a PC or whatever, and there would probably be billions of such computers or set-top boxes, it would seem to follow that the odds that we’re in base reality is one in billions.”

It might not be the most comforting thing in the world to think about – our reality isn’t at all what we think it is – but Musk says all of this being one big video game is about the best option we could hope for, given the alternatives.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

What Came Before The Big Bang?

It is difficult enough to imagine a time, roughly 13.7 billion years ago, when the entire universe existed as a singularity.

According to the big bang theory, one of the main contenders vying to explain how the universe came to be, all the matter in the cosmos – all of space itself – existed in a form smaller than a subatomic particle.

Once you think about that, an even more difficult question arises: What existed just before the big bang occurred?

The question itself predates modern cosmology by at least 1,600 years. Fourth-century theologian St. Augustine wrestled with the nature of God before the creation of the universe.




His answer? Time was part of God’s creation, and there simply was no “before” that a deity could call home.

Armed with the best physics of the 20th century, Albert Einstein came to very similar conclusions with his theory of relativity.

Just consider the effect of mass on time. A planet’s hefty mass warps time — making time run a tiny bit slower for a human on Earth’s surface than a satellite in orbit.

The difference is too small to notice, but time even runs more slowly for someone standing next to a large boulder than it does for a person standing alone in a field.

The pre-big bang singularity possessed all the mass in the universe, effectively bringing time to a standstill.

Following this line of logic, the title of this article is fundamentally flawed.

According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, time only came into being as that primordial singularity expanded toward its current size and shape.

Case closed? Far from it. This is one cosmological quandary that won’t stay dead.

In the decades following Einstein’s death, the advent of quantum physics and a host of new theories resurrected questions about the pre-big bang universe. Keep reading to learn about some of them.

Here’s a thought: What if our universe is but the offspring of another, older universe? Some astrophysicists speculate that this story is written in the relic radiation left over from the big bang: the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

Astronomers first observed the CMB in 1965, and it quickly created problems for the big bang theory — problems that were subsequently addressed (for a while) in 1981 with the inflation theory.

This theory entails an extremely rapid expansion of the universe in the first few moments of its existence.

It also accounts for temperature and density fluctuations in the CMB, but dictates that those fluctuations should be uniform.

In chaotic inflation theory, this concept goes even deeper: an endless progression of inflationary bubbles, each becoming a universe, and each of these birthing even more inflationary bubbles in an immeasurable multiverse.

Other scientists place the formation of the singularity inside a cycle called the big bounce in which our expanding universe will eventually collapse back in on itself in an event called the big crunch.

A singularity once more, the universe will then expand in another big bang.

This process would be eternal and, as such, every big bang and big crunch the universe ever experiences would be nothing but a rebirth into another phase of existence.

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Pass it on: Popular Science