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Does The Big Bang Theory Require Magic?
Is a Creator necessary for the universe to begin?
Table of Contents for this "Scientific Knowledge is Power" Hub Series
- Does The Big Bang Theory Require Magic?
- Does Abiogenesis Require Magic?
What is nothing?
Well, before we can explain how the universe can come from nothing, we must first define what "nothing" truly is. If you enter an empty room and are asked what is in the room, you would likely respond with "nothing." This is because your eyes are not capable of detecting anything present in the room. However, your basic knowledge and understanding of modern Biology/Chemistry would remind you that there are air particles and microbes also present in the room, despite the fact you cannot observe them with the naked eye. This same situation occurs when laypeople are asked about empty space. Modern Physics tells us that empty space is never truly "empty" at the quantum (atomic/subatomic) level due to the phenomenon of quantum fluctuation.
This book seeks to put everything in the context of astrophysics, which explains the origin of all things.
A Quantum Fluctuation
What are quantum fluctuations?
Quantum fluctuations describe how it is possible for the energy at any point in space to momentarily change (such as the amount of charge an electron appears to possess). This implies that a particle-antiparticle pair of energetic particles can spontaneously appear in empty space. This pair of spontaneous particles often collides quickly after spawning, again forming nothing. Quantum fluctuations are permitted to occur due to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which states that it is not possible to determine both the position and the momentum (velocity times mass) of a particle at any one time. Other than just offering an explanation for how empty space isn't truly "empty," quantum fluctuations can also be applied to our understanding of black holes.
Black Hole Anatomy
An Example of Hawking Radiation
The Relevance of Black Holes
Black holes represent an abomination in nature where gravity has gone awry. These are commonly formed when a very large star reaches the end of its life (after it has used up most of its hydrogen fuel and much of the core has turned to iron) and undergoes gravitational collapse. This collapse induces a supernova (a massive explosion that expels much of the outer star material) and the creation of a singularity from the remaining material. A singularity is a place in spacetime that appears to possess infinite density and is where the known laws of nature begin to break down due to our lack of understanding gravity at the quantum level.
A singularity has such a strong gravitational pull that any matter or energy coming within a certain range of it is inexorably drawn into the singularity. The outer limit for the range of this "point of no return" is referred to as the event horizon. These things result in the appearance of a "black hole" in the space surrounding the singularity (to the outer edge of the event horizon), where even light cannot escape. Black holes are occasionally surrounded by a bright accretion disk, consisting of the material the black hole is actively "feeding upon" (with some of the matter spiraling down into the event horizon slowly over time and the rest of the matter being carried away from the black hole in polar, relativistic jets).
Quantum fluctuations occurring just outside of the event horizon result in the black hole simultaneously shrinking and emitting radiation (known as Hawking radiation). This is because the particle that appears is capable of breaking free of the black hole's gravity (in the form of radiation), but the anti-particle is incapable of doing so and is consequently pulled into the event horizon, thus binding with a particle in the singularity and decreasing the mass of the black hole. This phenomenon partially explains why micro black holes are unstable and quickly evaporate (die). So, contrary to popular belief, there is nothing to fear from any micro black holes that might be created in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Black holes were actually the initial inspiration for attaining solid evidence supporting the Big Bang Theory, The same basic concepts and mathematical equations used to explain black holes (how everything can "disappear" down into a singularity) were simply reversed (by Stephen Hawking) to explain the Big Bang (how everything can "appear" from a singularity).
This examination of the universe encompasses all things in order to attempt to explain their origins.
Universe Inflation and Expansion
Black Holes Share Similarities with the Big Bang
How can the whole universe come from nothing on its own?
Now that we've established you can get particles from nothing, we have to explain how things scaled up in size from there. I'm going to focus on the theory of inflation in this discussion, as it is commonly the most accepted theory. The early universe is hypothesized to have been a singularity smaller than the size of a proton (although still a subject of debate, it was likely a product of the quantum fluctuations mentioned earlier). Inflation describes how this singularity can, by random chance, expand to a great size (by a factor of ~10^78; approximately 10 to the 78th power) in a very short time (~10^-32 seconds; approximately 10 to the negative 32nd power).
This was a self-perpetuating process that led to the expansion of the universe beyond the quantum realm and has since slowed down drastically (as the universe is still expanding). Typically, people refer to this initial rapid expansion as "inflation of the universe" and the slow expansion that is still ongoing as "expansion of the universe." Keep in mind that either of these expansion processes can be thought of as a balloon inflating/stretching, as opposed to the universe simply "leaking" into the empty space around it. This means that during expansion processes, all points on the "balloon" become farther apart (unless gravity/momentum is directing the action, otherwise).
Universal expansion can be thought of as a form of increasing entropy (disorder), which follows the known laws of physics. Although the exact mechanism driving inflation is poorly understood, scientists have determined that the chances of inflation occurring at random (to create the known universe) are greater than zero. This means that the random creation of a universe is inevitable, thus supporting the hypothesis that other universes outside of our own may also exist. If one totals up all of the energy/matter and space in our universe, it is found to equal zero. So, the law of conservation of energy still holds true, despite the fact the way the energy is distributed makes it appear otherwise.
This book discusses the implications of modern astrophysics within the grander scheme of things.
Couldn't the Big Bang just be a result of Divine influence?
According to the Hartle-Hawking State, the universe technically had no beginning in space or time, as the concepts of space and time are macroscopic properties (larger than the quantum realm) that did not exist until after the universe formed. This means that the universe could have arisen from quantum fluctuations and randomly expanded via the process of inflation. It is only after this period of inflation that time/space began and the four fundamental forces in the universe formed: the electromagnetic force (encompassing the electric and magnetic fields; also known as the Lorentz force), the gravitational force, and the weak (responsible for radioactive decay) and strong (responsible for binding quarks to form protons and neutrons, as well as binding protons to neutrons) nuclear forces.
Therefore, no time existed for a Creator to create anything. Magic was not required for the universe to simply "pop" into existence via the Big Bang. If you would like to learn more about the Big Bang Theory, please see the Amazon links below for some useful book resources.
Strength of Religious Faith Poll
Does possessing the knowledge that the universe can manifest itself change your perception of religion?
This hub is intended to educate people ranging from experts to laymen about the Big Bang Theory from a practical perspective. This information contains generalizations and by no means encompasses all exceptions to the most common "rules" presented here. This information comes from my personal experience/knowledge as well as various primary (journal articles) and secondary (books) literature sources (and can be made available upon request). All pictures, unless specifically noted otherwise, are my property and may not be used in any form, to any degree, without my express permission (please send email inquiries to email@example.com).
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© 2012 ChristopherJRex