According to reports, images of galaxies four billion light years away threaten to rip apart modern theories about space-time.
The rays of light that have travelled half way across the Universe may force astrophysicists to rethink their ideas about the Big Bang completely, which according to cosmologists gave birth, to the cosmos.
First physicist suggested that time does not flow in incredibly small, continuous units, but rather like finite and measurable bits, or ‘quanta’ (singular: quantum), as scientists like to call it.
Now, instead of time being made up of many infinitely, minute, individual moments, like grains of sand running through an hourglass, it again appears to move in a seamless, continuous flow. If this proves to be the case, it will cause consternation in the world of astrophysics and physics in general.
One of the biggest problems concerns the Big Bang. It implies that in the first instant of creation the singularity or ‘point’ that became the Universe had infinite temperature and density – something cosmologists have strenuously tried to avoid.
According to current theories, time should be divisible into 20-million-trillion-trillion-trillion Planck intervals. The shortest possible spatial measurement possible, ‘the Planck length’, is the distance light can travel in one Planck interval – about 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 001 centimetres (10 to the power of minus 33, that is 10-33).
Scientists believe time and distances smaller than Planck scales are ‘fuzzy’ because in a fundamental way they cannot be measured.
The theory allows for ‘Planck-scale fluctuations in space-time’, which translate very minute variations in the speed of light. However, these variations would only be evident in light that has travelled a great distance.
In a similar way, a sprinter running one per cent faster than his opponents might win a 10-metre race in a photo finish, while a one per cent faster marathon runner will finish hundreds of metres ahead of the rests of the field.
After billions of years, the faster components of a light wave would be far enough ahead of the slower components to make the beam's wave front noticeably distorted, or blurred.
Under ‘normal’ circumstances and ‘short periods’ of time, the velocity of electromagnetic radiation in a vacuum is supposed to be a constant and should be the same for all frequencies and wave lengths. This velocity is commonly referred to as the speed (or more accurately, ‘velocity’) of light and is represented by the letter ‘c’.
Where, c = 299,792,458 metre per second. It is more than a thousand-million kilometres per hour!
The frequency (‘f’) and wavelength (‘λ’ – Greek small letter, ‘Lambda’) of a wave are related by the expression:
c = λ*f.
Two astrophysicists from the University of Alabama in Huntsville tested ‘the theory of quantum time’ by looking for this blurring in Hubble Space Telescope images of galaxies at least four billion light years away.
[In Quantum Mechanics, it is usual to represent measurable quantities by operators in an abstract many-dimensional (often infinite-dimensional) so-called Hilbert space. Nevertheless, this space is an abstract mathematical tool for calculating the evolution in time of the energy levels of systems – and this evolution occurs in ordinary space-time. For example, in the formula A H - H A = iℏ(d x A/d x t), in which ‘i’ is √(−1) [An imaginary number.] and ℏ is 1/2π times Planck’s constant, ‘h’, the ‘A’ and ‘H’ are operators, but the ‘t’ is a perfectly ordinary time variable. There may be something unusual, however, about the concept of the time at which quantum-mechanical events occur, because according to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics the state of a micro-system is relative to an experimental arrangement.]
Dr Richard Lieu and Dr Lloyd Hillman were taken by surprise when they did not find the expected blurring. Instead, each image showed a sharp, ring-like interference pattern around the galaxy. Not finding the expected blurring suggested that time was not a quantum function and flowed fluidly at intervals infinitely shorter than Planck-units-of-time.
The findings were released in the online ‘Astrophysical Journal Letters’. Dr Lieu said, “If time doesn’t become ‘fuzzy’ beneath a Planck interval, this discovery will present problems to several astrophysical and cosmological models, including the Big Bang model of the Universe”.
The Big Bang theory supposes that at the instant of creation, the quantum singularity that became the Universe would need to have infinite density and temperature. To avoid that sticky problem, theorists invoked Planck time.
They assumed that if the instant of creation was also a quantum event, when space and time were both blurry, then you do not need infinite density and temperature at the start of the Big Bang.
“If time moves along like business as usual even at Planck scales, however, you have to reconcile the Big Bang model with an event that isn’t just off the scale, it’s infinite”, Lieu said.
Well, well! What a surprise! As I have warned before, one should never-ever ‘play’ with Mathematics and never-ever divide by zero!
If you need to ‘use’ Mathematics, by all means use it, but be careful not to ‘play’ (misuse?) with it!
In mathematics, there exist a very strict taboo against any division by zero and we should therefore always be on the lookout that we never do it. The reason why this is important can be explained as follows, namely:
a/0 = 0 … where ‘a’ is a real number and it is divided by zero
Multiply by 0, then:
a = 0.0 = 0 à [Something ‘a’ equals nothing ‘0’, that is!]
a/0 = a
Multiply by 0, and then:
a = 0.a = 0 à [Same nonsense again. Zero ‘0’ times something ‘a’ equals nothing ‘0’!]
If I do not have any money and I multiply that by a million I still have no money! What a disappointment!
So, when in fact you do divide by zero you can then stipulate any answer that you fancy, e.g. 1 = 2. Because what you have done is mathematical nonsense, or nonsensical. You are not playing according to the rules (or rather conventions) of the game!
Let us be criminal and do it any way. Say, for example:
a = b = 1 … where ‘a’ and ‘b’ are both real numbers
Then multiply by ‘b’:
a.b = b2 … where b2 is ‘b’ squared
Subtract ‘a’ squared on both sides:
a.b – a2 = b2 – a2
Now let us factorise:
a.(b – a) = (b – a).(b + a)
Divide by (b – a), then:
a = b + a
1 = 2 à [I can take anything now and double it without any effort i.e. 1 + 1 = 3 (or 4)!]
However, remember that ‘a = b = 1’, and thus ‘a – b = 0’.
Although this is absolute nonsense, it still seems to be prevalent in many ‘scientific’ theories today!
In the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution and abiogenesis theory, you start of with nothing (i.e. zero). Speaking metaphorically, you then multiply nothing with zero and then end up with something! Something out of nothing! In this case, not even the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) seems to work.
Some scientists maintain that this second law is the most fundamental law in ‘their’ universe! Nevertheless, other scientists switch this law off in this case to make their pet theories work. Even Pasteur now goes out of the window! [These scientists have no respect for their elders!]
Once you have mastered this neat trick you become godlike and you can do whatever you like. Nothing is impossible now! You can create; you are a creator! Bruce Almighty! It is like magic. No, it is magic!
Nevertheless, we must be careful here because ‘nothing’ is not necessarily equivalent to ‘zero’. This is another story altogether though. [See my essay, Nothing, Nothingness, and Zero.]
The Big Bang theory of the creation of the universe works exactly the same way, although ‘M’ theory at least now maintains that there are ‘multiverses’ in existence because of the interaction of some theoretical, extra-universal ‘membranes’ – these membranes hypothetically causes Big Bangs. Whatever these membranes are! In any case, it is theoretical, cosmologists seriously playing with their mollycoddle, mathematical equations.
Now beware: It is therefore of the utmost importance that all parents should caution their children not to play with mathematics! This is enormously grave stuff! The stuff of supreme, natural scientists!
To repeat, dividing by zero in ‘mathematics’ is taboo. Of course, this is not strictly correct; dividing by zero in ‘Algebra’ is taboo, but it is for example possible to divide by zero in ‘Calculus’!
In Calculus it is even possible to divide ‘zero by zero’ (i.e. 0/0) and get ‘a nonzero answer’. The rationale for this is that ‘zero in Calculus’ is not ‘nothingness’ like it is in the case of Algebra. In Calculus ‘zero’ is seen as an infinitesimally small number (nothing?) that is a number, which is ‘approaching algebraic zero’.
Now, even more bizarre, in Calculus it is possible to divide ‘infinity’ by ‘infinity’ (i.e. ∞/∞) and get a sensible answer! Infinity in Algebra is an abstract concept, but in Calculus, infinity is a perfectly functional number!
Few areas of Mathematics are as vital for science and engineering as that of Newton’s (1643-1727) and Leibniz’s (1646-1716) infinitesimal calculus!
Well, it seems that mathematics gives us an infinite number of choices – try to divide your income by zero (but not by infinity though)! It might do magical things for you!
Now, one of the biggest truths in the whole world: there is no such thing as a free lunch!
We all want something for nothing, but the world is an extremely stingy place and usually does not want to comply with our wishes. Economic resources are scarce and therefore have monetary value.
Take water for example. Water seems to be a free commodity, but we have to pay for it if we use it in our homes? Well water might possibly be free in certain circumstances, but to have it delivered to your home on tap is certainly not free. We know that the water needs to be sanitised, pumped, piped, stored, etc. The transport equipment needs to be constructed, maintained, and metered. This takes serious amounts of money. You need water; you pay! The people delivering your water do not work for nothing (or is it nothingness [?]).
This brings us to Economics, the science of human ecology! This science studies how human beings labour to survive in their environment. How humans produce, distribute, and divide wealth. To survive, nothing is more important than energy – the stuff of all life. All organisms and organisations have one purpose in mind, to get enough energy to survive. Energy is central to all life. The more energy an organism or organisation has control over the more powerful it is.
Energy is wealth and we need to create wealth – not jobs! The whole purpose of life is to procure, store, and use energy. Life needs energy and water – or at least all organic life, as we know it. I suppose that life can be defined in terms of its needs for energy!
If a society can get enough energy their survival is more or less secured – barring any unforeseen disaster! It was the same for the dinosaurs right up to the point where some disaster wiped all their energy from their very bones. Life can be tough and most societies in history always struggled to make ends meet.
To create jobs is very easy, but to create productive jobs (jobs that create wealth) is extremely tough! To add value (economic value) to society takes hard and productive work.
If I am appointed as the Minister of Job Creation tomorrow, I will immediately start to create jobs for Africa! Firstly, we can stop all mechanical transport of people and products between Johannesburg and Pretoria. We can do it manually (i.e. workers carrying everything) a la the French economist and essayist, Frederic Bastiat (1801–1850) tongue-in-the-cheek suggestion.
We will create thousands and thousands of new jobs immediately – but alas, wealth will surely start to diminish in step. Our already small pie will also grow even smaller and then much smaller – fast! But then again this dwindling little pie will be shared by more and more people! Why has nobody think of this before – their other schemes are at any rate equally as dazzling!
All wealth will eventually then disappears into nothingness. Nothingness or zero; not nothing, that is no thing. Poverty is not just nothing; it is something – something very severe! All of us have seen it, but some of us have even experience it first hand.
Poor people will tell you that poverty is not nothing, but certainly a case of nothingness or zero! Starvation is a very real experience of nothingness in your stomach – it is again not nothing! Is an awfully grim something! Something from nothing – not something for nothing!