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The Universe is Absurd: we probably shouldn't even call it that

Updated on April 8, 2015

Introduction to the series

This article serves as a jumping off point for a series called "The Universe is absurd," which will attempt to explain what we know about the Universe and, perhaps more importantly, what we have absolutely no idea about. In this article, I will touch on subjects that illustrate the absurdity of the Universe. In future installments of the series, I will delve further into these issues, and perhaps elaborate on phenomenon that I have yet to consider, so please stay tuned.


The observable Universe and our constrained knowledge

A popular misconception regarding our relationship with reality is the common phrase "seeing is believing." Given that sight is only one of our admittedly erroneous senses, I am surprised that we so casually bind our version of reality with visual data.

We long have had this habit of constraining reality to the physically observable. In the case of the Universe, this tactic has some inherent flaws that I would like to combat. The action of observation has a critical limitation in that we require the effects of visible light to have had enough time to reach our visual cortex. We know that light has a constant speed in interstellar space, and only so much time has elapsed since the beginning of our spacetime. Thus, we are able to calculate our limitation in the manifestation of a visible radius. What lies beyond this radius is inherently non-observable.

Simply put, all of the light just hasn't gotten to us yet.


What does this mean for our version of reality?

The effects of our expanding Universe, combined with the speed limit of photons, make it impossible to obverse our Universe in its entirety. I am here to ask what is on the other side of this visible radius. We can likely assert that the unobserved Universe looks a lot like what we can see. What remains to be known is the possibility of other Universes. We have no reason to say that they do not exist, and we have no way of testing this with our current understanding of the laws of physics and our surroundings.

I am not here to tell you that other Universes definitely exist, only to explain that asserting otherwise is an inherently flawed position. Personally, I prefer the idea of multiple Universes. My position on the subject is as follows: if it happened once, what is to stop it from happening again? In this sense, the Multiverse seems almost likely.

Do you think it is possible that a Multiverse exists?

See results

Our misunderstanding of dimensions

We like to think of ourselves as existing in three dimensions, most commonly referred to as our X, Y, and Z axes. In static, practical applications, this approximation is sufficient in everyday life. When this version of reality starts to fall apart is when we introduce spacetime events.

A simple example of this is a normal meeting between two people. Giving X,Y,Z coordinates is insufficient to ensure they will meet up with each other. We also need to know what time this event takes place, in addition to the spatial position. For this reason, physicists have adopted the definition of time as the fourth dimension. Although we do not see time, it is just as important as our observable positions.

Many academics, including string-theorists, have asserted the existence of multiple other dimensions that we do not recognize in our normal reality. One of the most expensive pieces of equipment ever built on the face of the planet, the LHC, is currently on a quest to see if these extra dimensions exist. You can read more about this effort in the article linked below, and learn more about the theory of extra dimensions in the video below.

What this really drives home is the idea that our version of reality needs a modern overhaul. We at least need to be open to the theory of our persistent ignorance. What we await to be discovered in all likelihood may turn our current version of reality on its head.

Dark Matter and Dark Energy

Given that one day we discover that they exist, we must wonder what is taking up all of the space in these extra dimensions. We already know of energy and matter we are unable to explain, or even observe, with our current understanding of the Universe.

There exist many phenomena that cannot be explained with our current understanding of dimensions and interactions between matter and energy. For example, we have observed galaxy clusters that are rotating at a rate much faster than is predicted. The current theory is that there is extra mass somewhere within these bodies that is causing a gravitational effect on the observable matter and spacetime. We call this mysterious substance Dark Matter. All attempts to interact or observe this extra mass have proved unsuccessful. What this suggests is Dark Matter does not interact with anything within our known dimensions.

There is also an effect on the entire Universe that suggests another mysterious phenomenon. We predict that our Universe should expand, and can observe this effect due to alterations in visible light spectra emitted from distant galaxies. This effect is called red-shifting. The weird part is that the Universe is expanding at a rate statistically different from what we would expect. We can issue an explanation of this increased acceleration with the introduction of a force called Dark Energy. Again, all attempts to interact with or observe this force have proved futile.

The key takeaway from this analysis is simple. We do not have a reliable version of reality. Any prediction that we make based on this incomplete understanding is consequently flawed.


What is a Black Hole?

Extraordinarily massive objects, typically stars about 40 times the mass of our sun, are the foundation of a Black Hole. During fusion reactions, stars use up the smaller, reactive elements such as Hydrogen to produce heavier elements. The fusion process produces radiation that combats the gravitational pull this matter has on itself. During this period, the star is relatively stable. This process continues, producing heavier and heavier elements, until it is suddenly and violently halted by iron. This happens because iron is too heavy to be utilized in a star's fusion reaction.

Once a sufficiently massive star makes iron, gravitational pull takes over dynamic equilibrium of the mass. The object implodes on itself, shrinking until each atom is competing to occupy the same space as its neighbors. It violently flings matter and energy in what is known as a Supernova explosion. The innermost part of the star crunches down to an infinitesimally dense and small object. A Black Hole is born.

A Black Hole gets its name from the fact that nothing can escape its immense gravitational pull, not even light. There is a radial distance that surrounds the object, called the Event Horizon, where spacetime is literally bent at a rate that at least matches the speed of light. This is where everything starts to get exceptionally weird. The laws of physics break down, time ceases to exist, and we have no idea what actually happens to the matter and energy that falls in.


The Big Bang: spawn of a Universe

Since we know that the entire Universe is expanding, we can theoretically rewind time and see what happens at the beginning. All of this matter is expanding in a shockingly uniform manner, so much so that we must conclude that the Universe began in an infinitesimally dense and small state. We have supported this theory by analyzing the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, which exhibits properties that are consistent with the Big Bang Theory.

What we believe happened is that this ultra-dense singularity exploded into existence with a barrage of raw energy. The subsequent result is the creation of lighter elements that exhibit properties of mass. Since these newly formed particles have mass, they exert gravitational pull on each other to form interstellar clouds, planets, stars, and everything else that we observe in the Universe, including Black Holes.


Simmilarities of a Black Hole and the Big Bang

Reading the previous two segments back to back causes us to infer a dramatic realization. Black Holes and the Big Bang seem to have quite a great deal in common. They both contain a staggering amount of mass/energy. They are also both infinitesimally dense and small.

Furthermore, we are unable to predict what happens at the end of a Black Hole, nor at the beginning of the Big Bang.

This has caused some physicists to contemplate a shocking and revolutionary question. Could the matter and energy that goes into a Black Hole spawn an entire Universe, and could our Universe have been the result of a similar phenomenon? We already know that our current understanding of physics is insufficient to explain what happens to the contents of a Black Hole, and the conditions of the two entities are remarkably similar.

Take a look at the video below to see what top theoretical physicists think about Black Holes being theoretically able to spawn entire Universes.

The possibility of a Multiverse

This revelation brings us back to a question posed at the beginning of this article. Why are we so hesitant to contemplate the existence of multiple Universes? We are unable to see into, or otherwise measure, the space that these potential Universes would occupy, so we have no empirical evidence to argue that a Multiverse does not exist. Further interesting is our knowledge that there are countless Black Holes in our own Universe. If we can theorize that Black Holes may spawn Universes in another dimension, then we can subsequently reasonably argue for the existence of a Multiverse.

Throughout history, we have repeatedly, unfailingly determined that our cosmos is more beautifully expansive and complex that previously theorized. We should not continue to fall prey to this ignorance. We should not be content with the model of reality that we have reached up to this point. Science must push on, perhaps infinitely, in our quest for truth.


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    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      I actually really like the idea of continuous Big Bangs. I even presented this idea for the final in one of my Astrophysics classes.

      "If there really is no red shift [blue shift] to prove de-expansion of the universe, maybe we just aren't in that part of the cycle." Yes, this is definitely a possibility. I thought you meant expanding and contracting at the same time in different regions. The Universe could absolutely contract in the future, and could have in the past as well. I have no problem with this this and actually find it quite plausible.

      I definitely agree with everything you've said in the last comment. I think we've had a great discussion on the topic, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for taking part!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Well, being on the majority side of an issue doesn't make it true. And I only have my little theories for my amusement. I'm not trying to imply that you don't know about these things, I am simply trying to explain my views, which on a cosmic scale do not amount to a hill of beans.

      There is also no reason why the big bang theory could not have happened over and over and over. Maybe we are just experiencing part of an infinite number of big bang events. If there really is no red shift to prove de-expansion of the universe, maybe we just aren't in that part of the cycle.

      Maybe everything just expands until enough black holes form to suck everything back into one giant black hole again which again triggers another big bang event. Who knows?

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      I have actually already read this article. It is, as I said before, just two physicists that are proposing this theory. The majority is still on the side of the Big Bang, or something very similar to it. Anyway, I will address your points below:

      "Where the heck would [the Universe] have come FROM" This isn't solved by the infinite existence of the Universe. It would still have to come from somewhere. Something probably has to be infinite, as weird a concept as that is, otherwise we will forever be plagued by a battle of causality, but it just seems like our Universe is part of a larger picture. My reasons for thinking this will come up in further points.

      "CMBR is quite possibly the result of energy and motion." Ok, but what type of energetic event would cause this type spectra? Some specifics would be great. How would motion emit microwave radiation like this? Do you mean collisions? Motion itself is meaningless in terms of force and energy unless it is acting as a system of objects, like in a collision. This still doesn't really make sense to me. Maybe you mean acceleration? Acceleration would imply force, but motion does not.

      "What the heck would be on the OTHER SIDE of a boundary? More universe?" You obviously didn't read my notes on space curvature. Two of the three theories other than yours that I outlined would imply no borders. In both the torus (flat) and sphere (positive curvature), there are no boundaries. Think of it like a repeating sidescrolling videogame. You can go infinitely in one direction, but there is a finite amount of map. Maybe you're having trouble visualizing this, but you shouldn't even attempt to. I don't mean the Universe is shaped like a doughnut, it is just a two dimensional analogy. We live in three spatial dimensions, and the visualization is subsequently complicated.

      "We also know that stars are born and die in regular predictable cycles." We, being the scientific community, do not know this. It is true that stars are born and die, but it is not a predictably cyclical process. Most of the systems we see now are the result of intergalactic Hydrogen dust that accumulated following the energetic expulsion of the origin. Some of this matter has been trapped in black holes, some is trapped in brown dwarfs that now consist of elements too heavy to undergo nuclear reaction. The amount of matter that is available for nuclear reaction (everything lighter than Iron) is steadily decreasing, and will be trapped for a long time in the form of nuclear bonds. On top of that, the Universe is getting less dense because of accelerating expansion. Even regular expansion would do, but this just strengthens my point. We need sufficient energy density for nuclear fusion to happen, and that energy needs to be in the form of matter that a potential star would be able to process. Stars will not burn forever, and new stars will not always grace the sky. If the Universe has existed forever, our sky would be dark. This is the best current theory.

      "No one knows what a black hole is." Yes. Yes, we do. It is a very massive/energetic object that bends spacetime sufficiently to prevent even light from escaping its grasp beyond a limit called the Event Horizon. The only thing we do not know is what happens at the very center of this entity, which is very interesting, but doesn't imply we don't know what a black hole is. It is energy/mass, just like everything else.

      "The matter in the universe may be expanding AND contracting. There is evidence for both." There actually isn't. I don't know what your source is for this, but I'm sure even the most cursory Google search of the word "redshift" will provide evidence otherwise.

      "It is my opinion that matter is infinite and therefore we will never run out of it. Check out Quantum physics and Zero Point Energy." Ok, I'll take these both on below:

      Small amounts of matter can pop in and out of existence (quantum theory), but it always does so in pairs which annihilate an equal amount of matter that was formed. It is very unlikely that this could spawn stars indefinitely. Something must have happened to initiate an imbalance in matter/antimatter, or else the whole Universe would have annihilated itself. Even if matter were infinite, stars would not continuously form into infinity. This has nothing to do with the total amount of matter, but really the energy density of a regional system. Because the Universe is expanding, it will eventually not be able to produce new stars. So my question here stands.

      Zero point Energy just means that particles and fields have a positive energy when in their absolute ground state (ie, when at absolute zero in a vacuum). ZPE is a possible explanation for the accelerating expansion of the Universe. I don't know why you're implying I'm not familiar with the subject because it seems to support my position that the Universe is indeed expanding and not contracting.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Link to new theory -

      "It is possible that our Universe has existed forever" - It's not only possible, it is undeniable - Where the heck would it have come FROM?

      "Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation which is consistent with the Big Bang model" - Only because that is the only way physicists have learned to look at it. CMBR is quite possibly the result of energy and motion, not a residual of the "big bang".

      "This new theory predicts that the Universe is constant in size (density)" - I maintain that the universe is infinite in size - no borders, no boundaries. What the heck would be on the OTHER SIDE of a boundary? More universe?

      "we know that stars are able to sustain themselves for only a certain amount of time" - We also know that stars are born and die in regular predictable cycles. they have been doing so forever! All of the weird things have some sort of explanation, we just have not found it yet. No one knows what a black hole is. And other unexplained phenomenon is just that - unexplained.

      The matter in the universe may be expanding AND contracting. There is evidence for both. This is one of the reasons that the big bang theory hasn't become an acceptable theory amongst all physicists.

      It is my opinion that matter is infinite and therefore we will never run out of it. Check out Quantum physics and Zero Point Energy and things like quantum entanglement.

      It will be a long time before we even come close to understanding the universe. So playing with this theory or that theory is just fun. It exercises the mind :-)

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Austinstar: I just thought of another couple questions.

      This new theory predicts that the Universe is constant in size (density), and therefore existed forever. We know that galaxies are moving away from each other because of redshifting. That would mean that in the past, galaxies were closer together. Is there another explanation for what's going on here? I cannot reconcile this.

      Also, we know that stars are able to sustain themselves for only a certain amount of time. After a while, they either become supernovae, black holes, or a host of other exotic entities. Because the Universe is expanding, this means that eventually there will not be enough density to produce new stars. If the Universe is infinitely old, why are there still stars in the sky?

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Austinstar: I was able to find two physicists that are proposing this idea. I will mention that the overwhelming majority of physicists still believe the Big Bang Theory to be the most likely. It is possible that our Universe has existed forever, or at least I cannot think of a perfect way to refute that idea, but the fact of the matter is that we do see Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation which is consistent with the Big Bang model.

      My question would be as follows: if the Big Bang did not happen, what else could cause this static in microwave radiation? I will also note that the concept of infinity does not inherently bother me, it is only when postulated in the context of a Big Bang, or any finite origin, where I cannot resolve this apparent discrepancy.

      I would like to see the aforementioned link for my own education though.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I didn't explain myself well. Sorry. Physicists now believe that the big bang did not happen and the universe has no beginning or end. I'll look up the link and send it to you.

      This is the theory I've always held.

      The concept of infinity eludes even the best of minds. So don't feel bad.

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Austinstar: I think this is the only point where we are having a disconnect. Time isn't a constant, and it isn't simply a human construct. It exists just as tangibly as any of the other three widely accepted dimensions. What we measure as time actually gets manipulated by the mass and matter surrounding it. I will write more about this concept in The Universe is Absurd series in the future because I think many people have trouble grasping the idea of time as a malleable feature.

      To quickly illustrate the idea: the more energy that exists in a system, whether it be in the form of matter or otherwise, the slower time moves relative to other places in the cosmos. If you have a system of infinite energy density, time stops. It happens inside of black holes and at the origin. This concept is supported by general relativity, the standard model of physics, and empirical study. That means that if we exist within the Universe, as we do, time does not continue backward past the Big Bang. It's super weird to think about, but that's seriously our best theories hard at work. It's true that these are just theories, but they really are our best theories.

      I think a cool illustrative example of the flexible nature of time is the lifespan of a photon. For a photon being emitted from a star, let's say... two lightyears away, it takes two years to reach us. That's all fine and well, but that's only from our perspective. From the photon's perspective, moving at the cosmic speed limit, literally zero time elapsed from the moment of its emission and when it gets absorbed by your retina. What's even weirder, or maybe equally weird, is that it doesn't experience distance either. Just something for your brain to gnaw on for a while.

      In either case, I do agree that something could have "caused" the Big Bang, meaning there was something "before" it. I just don't think our current understanding of time and causality necessarily hold during this process.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Time is an artificial construct by mankind. It is a ruler only. A unit of constructed measurement.

      If you assume that the big bang actually happened, you can use it as a zero point. There was something happening one second before that zero point, two seconds before, three seconds before and so on backwards into infinity. Remember, you don't have to use seconds as a measurement, you can use years or eons. It looks like this:

      ... -3 -2 -1 ( 0 ) +1 +2 +3....

      with the big bang event being the zero point.

      And again, this same sequence works for space, time, matter, energy. If you can imagine a zero point, then you can imagine infinity before and after that point, and any direction around that point.

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Austinstar: I agree with this as a great possibility entirely, except for one point. For me, the beginning of time (as far as the Universe's origin is concerned) is at the Big Bang. Without space, the idea of spacetime, and therefore time, does not exist. Time is dependent on the matter and energy that coexist with it, just think of general relativity.

      At the moment of singularity, like in a black hole, time ceases to exist at least for those observing from outside the event horizon. I think the same could be said for the Universe's Big Bang. That being said, it is likely that the Big Bang resulted from something else, but I do not think that this relationship follows the concept of time and causality that we experience on a daily basis.

      If you dissociate yourself from the typical definition of time, and allow it to encompass a more vast array of phenomena, I would absolutely agree with you that time could very well be infinite. I guess in the end we are in complete agreement, I just had to add that little caveat, that our Universe's time is finite in at least one direction, the beginning. For what lies beyond our Universe, I would have no way of knowing.

      Thank you very much for your reasoning. It is much appreciated.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Sorry for all that. I don't think of the universe as flat, it's more like a sphere. From any zero-point that something occupies, you will have an infinite number of lines extending into an infinite number of directions. To use the ball as a model, pick any point on the ball and draw lines outward. There is an infinite number of lines that can be drawn from each and every point on the ball. And the lines extend into infinite space. Again, no borders.

      To me, the universe is infinite matter occupying infinite space and acted upon by infinite energy.

      The only way to travel through the universe is from point A (any zero point) to B (any other zero point).

      And just to clarify, a zero point can be a single atom or an entire planet. It's just the place you start measuring from.

      Picking a zero point in time is also wherever you want it to be. If point A is now, then point B is -1 or +1 infinitely, meaning that there is no beginning and no end. There is always a second before the zero point and a second after the zero point. And you don't have to use seconds, you can use any measure of time. If i am at a zero point of right now, there was always a year before now and there will be a year after now. This is also infinite. (backwards in time, forwards in time)

      It works for everything. time, space, matter, energy, the universe.

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @austinstar: I just realized how much I wrote, so I need to warn you: I went a little bit overboard here. Let's just write this off as an act of passion, shall we? Yes, I will be cleaning this up in a hub. Anyway, here goes:

      What is on the other side of space?

      This apparent paradox can be summarized as follows: If space ends, what is on the other side of it? If space never ends, how can we reconcile the concept of infinity? It's a catch-22 at its finest.

      The resolution of your issue with borders is convoluted but scientifically valid. The Big Bang actually creates space, the dimensions we interact with. Beyond this region there is nothing, not empty space, but actual nothing. Multiple Universes would not have to be separated from each other because they create their own space. There is no threat of Universe A's space occupying the same space as Universe B because they create enough of it for themselves and don't have to share. You have to stop thinking of space as an inherent quality of the outside of reality, because it probably isn't. The implications of this theory depend on whether we find the Universe to be flat, open, closed, finite or infinite.

      Let's talk about what it means to be flat. What I mean by this is that space follows Euclidean geometry, where parallel lines stay parallel, and right angles stay perpendicular into infinity. This can be true of three dimensions, it is just exceedingly hard to visualize, since we typically have access to a maximum of three dimensions. We can easily see if a two dimensional surface is curved because we can see into the dimension in which it is curved. Think of a ball. A ball has a two dimensional surface which experiences a positive curvature, allowing something to travel around it and end up in the same place it started. Flat curvature would be like a piece of paper. This is worrisome, because paper has edges.

      We actually do not know if the Universe is infinite or finite. What we do think is that the Universe is "flat" (euclidean). Although, it could simply be that it is so large that our comparatively small observable Universe seems flat, kind of like how we used to think the Earth was flat because our sample was too small. Anyway, this would look like an analogous sphere, where our three dimensions are the surface. I guess I should go through these cases briefly, but do please note that most of them lack what we would call a border, which I think you will find comforting, as I do.

      Let's start with your theory, because it is actually a well respected one. If we have a flat Universe, which we think we do, the most intuitive conclusion would be that it extends into infinity. This would truly be an infinite, flat Universe, and some physicists like this scenario best. The reason I have a problem with it is that we think all of the energy in the Universe came from the Big Bang. Since the Big Bang occupied/produced a finite amount of space at its origin, it seems unlikely it would be able to reach infinity in a finite amount of time, which is all the time we have so far, 14.7 billion years.

      Another theory is that the Universe is flat, but finite. This would be like the piece of paper I mentioned earlier. Since the Universe is constantly expanding, it will likely reach infinity, but it will take an infinite amount of time to do so. I like this theory because it respects time as a currently finite thing. What I do not like is that this theory implies there is an edge of space. If we were able to travel fast enough to get to that edge, we have no way of conceptualizing what might happen. Personally, this is enough to want to reject the theory, but we should be careful not to let our own potential misunderstanding invalidate an otherwise worthy theory. After all, relative to us, this proposed edge of the Universe is moving much faster than the speed of light, and can therefore never be reached. In this sense, even this version of the Universe would be effectively limitless.

      There is a workaround that keeps the Universe spatially flat, and finite, all without the existence of an edge, or border. This all sounds great, but the theory does have one drawback, it is increasingly convoluted. Here's how it goes: the Universe is spatially flat, and finite, but shaped like a torus (think of a doughnut). You would be able to travel infinitely in one direction, but would eventually be in the same place you left off, like travelling around the globe. Note that although space would feel infinite, and would have no borders, the amount of mass and spacetime is finite. This resolves my issues with infinite mass/space via finite time, and borders, but does so with a significant increase in complexity, which has been shown to be a bad sign for theoretical physics. It also implies multiple paths to the same points with varying distances, which seems illogical, but we are currently testing for evidence of this.

      The final theory I will present is one that violates popular opinion and, as far as we know, the current data set. It is also the theory I most qualitatively enjoy. This is a Universe with positively curved space, analogous to the two dimensional surface of a sphere. This would mean that we could travel infinitely in any direction and reach the same place we left off, ignoring the cosmic speed limit. It also means that spacetime and mass would be finite, but feel essentially infinite. We also rid ourselves of any inconsistencies with different paths being varied distances to the same points. The main problem with this theory is that the current data seems to suggest that our Universe is flat. It also implies that on a large enough scale, our Universe is non-Euclidean, though we would never notice this in practical application. I like to think of a possible reconciliation, where our sample is just too small. This is analogous to when people thought the earth was flat, because the area immediately surrounding them looked flat. Our observable Universe could be a significantly small enough portion of the total Universe for it to appear flat. We may be wrong. We do not know.

      All of these theories are valid, and all have their respective downfalls. The truth is, we may never know how the Universe really works, but the journey sure is fun.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I understand why physicists imagine "multiverses", but to me that implies that each "universe" be contained somehow and separated from each other. This is not likely in my mind. I lean more toward an infinite universe. No border exists.

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @electro: this really weirds me out too... I'm guessing we are akin to fish in a fishbowl. Sure, we can postulate the theories governing phenomena within said bowl, though a proper vantage point would kill us, if even possible to acquire. I hope to be one day proven wrong, but I think we are forever confined to these limitations. We can only develop laws that help us predict events within our bowl, without really ever knowing anything about the greater validity of our claims or the origin of these fundamental laws. In short, we may be able to figure out what happens, but the answer to why may always elude us.

    • Electro-Denizen profile image

      Charles 3 years ago from Wales, UK

      Great hub on one of my favourite subjects... yes to the theory of our persistent ignorance!.... In a very simple sense, one thing that always gets me, is that no matter how subtle the reasoning, which allows people like Prof Hawkins to assert various positions, the fact remains that we are within the phenomenon we are trying to observe. How can we observe anything accurately when we don't even have a correct vantage point? To assert anything with total conviction, would require... well, to be outside the universe itself... Enter stage left Rudolph Steiner, whose body of work is probably too turgid for most to even begin to read - he made such incisive points with regards to the bounds of philosophical knowledge, pointing out that we make leaps in apparently well thought out notions, without even realising we do... that being the truth, he wrote a lot about the validity of the intuitive faculties, that employ the same kind of leaps, that 'conventional' thinkers wouldn't generally admit to using.... Center stage, mysticism....

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @chef: here's my first crack at it:

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @chef-de-jour: oh man... I guess I have to now. The Higgs is definitely a hard sell, and I'm probably going to get in a bit of trouble for issuing my stance on the matter, but I can't resist. Wish me luck.

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 3 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Fascinating. Your article highlights the inconsistencies in our notions of reality and throws light on the head scratching phenomena of dark matter and energy. The genesis of our universe via a black hole intrigues the mind - I'll bet there are other theories about the consequences of a black hole 'swallowing' all that energy and mass - but it seems at least a probability from a layman's point of view.

      I look forward to you clearing up the misunderstandings about the so called God particle, the Higgs Boson, in your next feature.

      Voted up and sharing.

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      @Sue: Thank you very much. There are very few aspects of physics that we have yet to fully comprehend. This subject is one that is uniquely unresolved, which fascinates me. Thanks for the comment!

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando FI Chor 3 years ago from Andalusia

      Really interesting and open minded.

    • Luke M Simmons profile image

      Luke M. Simmons 3 years ago from Encinitas, California

      Thanks Prof Liway and Mel, the article definitely raises more questions than it answers, but I hope to delve deeper into possible solutions to these queries as the series unfolds. Prof, feel free to use any of my content in your lectures sans credit, just be sure to site images that are not mine (gotta set a good example here). Mel, I wanted to get more into this idea, but its so hard to conceptualize, let alone communicate, exactly how reality differs from what we allow to be our sufficient approximate in everyday life. Perhaps I'll be able to touch more on this in the future.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 3 years ago from San Diego California

      The multiverse concept makes sense to me. As is implied by your other hub on the dress, we don't even really see the reality that has reached us. We're not really seeing the photons before our eyes, we're seeing a computer generated image of those photons, the computer being our brain. I thought this was an exceptionally well written hub.

    • Prof Liway profile image

      Liwayway Memije-Cruz 3 years ago from Bulacan, Philippines

      What a thought-provoking hub...congratulations Sir Luke...I know this would be very helpful in teaching Physics and Physical Science.


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