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Evolution of the Universe Since the Big Bang
As time marches on, the Universe will continue to evolve. The changes will continue into eternity, but will there ever be an end to time?
Is eternity actually infinite, or does time repeat itself in a circular or cyclic progression so that the past and the future keep repeating?
If the Universe began from the Big Bang, then was time passing through nothingness prior to that, or did time exist at all?
A cyclic space/time continuum can be the answer to the problem that arises when we try to place endpoints on time, a beginning and an end. There are many alternate theories about time and space, as well as about traveling through time and space.
As time continues from the past to the future, everything changes in its own way. Nothing in the entire Universe is isolated. Everything affects everything else in one way or another.
Forces control the Universe that we have only begun to understand. We have yet to fully understand quantum mechanics, relativity theory, or the single entity of space and time.1
Even chaos theory is open for discussion and further understanding. That may very well be the end result when we reach eternity. That is to say, total chaos will be the way things end. However, I’d rather imagine that the end of the Universe would be total equilibrium.
Once that kind of equilibrium is achieved, space and time become meaningless because nothing is left to change. It all becomes equal. So equal, in fact, that time itself becomes meaningless. One might say that time stops.
How the Act of Observation Changes Things
Everything we experience in our little corner of space, and in our small segment of time, is just a small part of the entire picture. It goes without saying that we are part of the puzzle. Our very own existence has a strong effect on the rest of the puzzle.
Things on Earth are different because we are here. It's very possible that things in the outer limits of the Universe are also modified with every move we make.
We cannot measure or analyze anything without changing the outcome. So there is no way we can completely envision the actual reality of our world.
Something I learned in my old college engineering days is a good example of what I mean...
Simply by connecting a measuring device to an electronic circuit to test its functionality, changes the function of the circuit.
The fact that a voltmeter, for example, is connected to a circuit will change the way the circuit behaves. The circuit's new function is now related to the voltmeter being involved. It's a different animal, so to say.
Everything and everyone is different due to everything and everyone else that exists. Every single element in the Universe is interrelated to one another.
I think this is true with our minds as well as physical objects. We relate to one another in such a way that only a complex algorithm can define, and we continue to struggle with our misconceptions and misunderstandings.
Even time causes misconceptions. Einstein explained how the passage of time fluctuates for an observer based on mass and motion. Time may very well be a made-up idea. However, in order to maintain our structured way of handling our daily affairs and keeping our technological developments under strict control, we need to maintain a very precise view of time.
Atomic clocks use the caesium atom for this reason to try to attain a precise evaluation of time when compared to one another. Nevertheless, this still leaves the concept of time something that was made up for us to use to plan out activities.
It's really hard to say if time actually exists or not. Quantum physics tends to show that there is some other means of moving within our three dimensions without the passage of time.
Eventually Everything Becomes Total Chaos
The way I see it, eventually all matter and all energy of the Universe will be in total disorder with maximal complexity.2
When everything is in disorder, there is a total balance of everything. I think that leaves nothing left that can cause further changes. It's a complete equilibrium with no further tendency to change.
All things in the Universe will be aligned with no struggles to pull apart or combine together. It's perfect happiness, the end result of the evolution of the space-time continuum.
As time goes on, this interaction of everything in the Universe continues causing changes. Maybe even time and space evolve.
Yes, maybe time is also changing, but we wouldn't know it because we are following along the path of time with the same clock that's changing.
Change keeps occurring until everything is equal. Then time can no longer progress. Time stops. When time stops, space becomes meaningless, for space can only exist throughout time. It's all equal and there's nothing left to evolve.
The Time Paradox of the Big Bang
The paradox: If time doesn't have a beginning or an end, can anything have existed before the Big Bang?
Based on our present knowledge of physics, the latest scientific findings support the theory of the Big Bang.
At first thought, the idea of the Big Bang implies that there was a beginning. This, in turn, implies that there must be an end. One might say that all beginnings have an end.
However, we run into trouble when we try to impose an infinite measure on the timeline of the Universe from the Big Bang to a future that eventually ends. It brings up questions of what exists beyond the end, which is a paradoxical question.
Does time have a beginning and an end? If we want to believe that there is a beginning, then we have to describe it in some way.
It's easier for the human mind to comprehend time with a start and an end. Infinity is somewhat incomprehensible.
Even with the "Big Bang" as an explanation, there are two things to ask:
- If we insist on having a beginning then: "What came before that?"
- If we insist on having an end then the question is: "What comes next?"
Time Is Also a Paradox
Here's where we run into trouble. Our thinking creates a paradox. If the end is really the end then there is nothing left. The Universe is void of all matter. If what comes after the end is void of all matter, then how long does that lack of all existence last?
That very question implies that "time" still exists!
If time still exists then we haven't really reached the end of time yet. Therefore we might say there is still existence of the Universe.
If matter becomes non-existent due to being sucked into a black hole, for example, and time continues to tick away, then the Universe has a chance to recycle – to start over. So this defies the idea of an absolute end.
If we were to find a way to define an end, then we also need to find some way to explain a beginning. The difference between an endless measurement and a finite measurement is what we have trouble with.
Our comprehension of endless space and time is limited due to our inability to imagine a universe without time.
Our Limited Comprehension of Space and Time
Our entire Universe, everything we know and understand, everything we experience, is within our three-dimensional world.
It all happens within the timeline that we defined that runs from the past to the future, as far as we can comprehend. These definitions impose physical limitations to the Universe in our minds.
As human beings, with human functioning brains, we are limited to comprehending only what our five senses allow us to conceive and experience. We may be limited in our understanding of the Universe, but the space-time continuum goes beyond human imagination.
Taking that into consideration, we might assume that there is more to it – more to the universe, more to life, more to the laws of physics.
For the sake of entertaining our minds, let's assume that our world is influenced by something beyond space-time as we know it. This allows us to discuss other possibilities and other explanations.
Is There an End to Time?
The Progress of Time May Be Infinite or Cyclic
I don't believe there is a beginning or an end to time. Mathematically it makes more sense that time is either of two things: Infinite or cyclic. If time is infinite, then it is endless. If time is cyclic, then it repeats itself.
Time being Infinite means to go on forever. Things will always change with in infinite number of possibilities. If time is cyclic, it eventually loops around, repeating itself.
The question is, if time repeats, does it do so exactly the same way? Or does it repeat each time with minor differences. And if that's so, are the an infinite number of different repetitions of time?
If time is indeed infinite then we can assume that everything imaginable will eventually have a chance to occur in some way in some place at some time.
If time is cyclic, then all physical events and all thoughts of all species will repeat forever and ever. Moreover, if events do have minor differences on each repetition, then even cyclic time offers the chance for every alternative event imaginable to eventually happen.
Everything in the space-time continuum will repeat itself forever with endlessly varying possibilities. Each repetition would be a different reality and there would be an infinite number of realities.
Either way, infinite or cyclic, there would never be an end to this. Time would never cease to exist.
There Are Infinite Possibilities for the Laws of Physics
It's hard for the human mind to comprehend the concept of infinity. That's why we prefer to think that the universe started at a specific point in time: The Big Bang!
As I see it, the Big Bang could not have been the beginning. It was simply the starting point of the next stage of the continuation of time.
The past, before the Big Bang, may have been a prior time period where the law of physics was all vastly different from what we know today.
Once we all get sucked into a black hole, time itself becomes meaningless. Eventually it all explodes into another Big Bang, another Universe, another timeline all over again. Maybe it will be very different in endless possible ways.
There may very well be an infinite number of laws of physics. However, as we all know, there is only one that we are aware of. Everything we do is controlled by that one set of laws of physics that rule the Universe as we know it—this time.
© 2011 Glenn Stok