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We Should Not Exist
The God Particle Speaks
In the beginning, some scientists discovered the God particle. Among other things, it was the particle that made you fat. That's why they called it the God particle. But seriously, it was the particle that gave other particles mass. From a certain point of view you might say its existence is why you weigh something rather than nothing.
Further experiments concerning the God particle came across a curious phenomenon. Proof positive that we should not exist.
The Lazy Universe
There are some rules of thumb for the universe. One is that everything that can do so always seeks it lowest level. One of the easier ways to see what this means is to do the following: Throw a baseball up into the air. Now in the absence of any forces, fixtures, machines, strings or appliances to hold that ball up , if you were standing on the surface of the earth at the time you threw the ball up, what will it do? It will fall down of course. It will reach a point of highest energy, an unstable state, and it will fall back down to the ground. Eventually it will stop rolling and will likely lie there until you or the family dog picks it up again.
Well, it turns out that in so far as we can determine, everything everywhere, throughout all time will act like that baseball. Anything that finds it self in an unstable state will shed energy, position or whatever it needs to shed in order to reach a lower more stable state.
And so, when those who probe the conditions at the beginning of the universe take the God particle into account, and look for that stable state the universe surely sought out, they found that you and I were not there. In the stable state the universe as we know it should not exist. And therefore we should not exist.
Maybe they got the math or the science wrong. More research and more time will surely tell.
This is not the first or the only time the physicists have come across something puzzling in their studies. For instance, there are particles in the universe that are supposed to mediate the forces in the universe. Think of the interaction of forces and particles like a relay race. The particles are bound together by the baton they exchange. This exchange of particles causes the particles to be attracted to one another or to be repelled by one another.
A problem can arise if we think of truly fundamental forces that seem to effect everything. if the fundamental forces affect everything, they affect even the baton that was being exchanged. At some point we may come to situation where we need to describe force exchanging particles that can feel the forces they are exchanging. Physicists found that if they were not careful when describing these particles that can "feel the forces" they exchange, the math would produce infinities. The problem with something that seems infinite is that we human beings are quite finite. We are not everywhere at once and we are not even every when at once. Thus we tend to think that if some intermediate result in our math has an infinity in it, a mistake was made.
The Problem of Infinity
The infinity particles problem is not the first anomalous infinity in the history of physics. One of the oldest conundrums I can think of involving infinity comes from an old Greek philosopher. He said that in order for me to cross the room, first I must go halfway. Before I go half way, I must go a quarter of the way. before I go a quarter of the way I must go an eighth of the way. Since there is no numerical limit to how small a fraction can become it would seem that it will take an infinite number of steps to reach the other side of the room and since no human can do an infinite number of things reaching the other side of the room must be impossible.
Common sense and perhaps quantum theory can solve this conundrum easily. No human being can move 10^-33 cm (about the smallest distance known to practical physics) anyway. Our steps have a finite, observable length. There are some distances so tiny that they have no practical meaning for us. In fact, some scientists say that the universe of the very small and very fast is nothing like the large scale universe. If it where, we would constantly see objects of every possible size and type appearing and disappearing before our very eyes. In the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy a bit of fun was poked at this idea by having a whale appear out of thin air.
An infinity that can be matched by the group of numbers we call integers is countable because we could, given, infinite time, count it.
There are uncountable infinities as well. Such as the group of numbers know as irrational numbers. The infinite room is an example of an uncountable infinity. Between any two numbers, no matter how small, there are an infinite number of irrational numbers such as the pi or the square root of two. We can't even figure out a way to lay the group of numbers know as integers against the irrational numbers between two arbitrarily small irrational numbers. We could then never match up the nicely ordered integers against all the irrational numbers because there is no conceivable way--according to our mathematics to count them.
Another unaccountable infinity arose in they history of physics when a scientist tries to apply pre-quantum science to the stars in the sky.
The stars in the sky send light to us. Light comes in various frequencies. Before quantum mechanics if you asked someone how many frequencies of light existed in starlight he might have said, well, an infinite number. After all, frequencies are just numbers. As we have seen with the concept of irrational numbers, between any two irrational numbers or even between any two fractions there is always another number. The problem with this is that light has energy. If we are being hit with an infinite number of frequencies of light our night sky should be so full of light that it would burn our eyes and us to a crisp. But that doesn't happen. This was called the ultraviolet catastrophe. It was thought experiments like this that led to the theory of quantum mechanics. Some of the results of quantum mechanics can be counter intuitive but this one comports with common sense. Light actually comes in discrete frequencies. It does not come in every conceivable frequency. In fact if we have the proper measuring devices, we can write down exactly what frequencies of light are hitting us.
Never Never Land
One of reasons why some find science so confusing, or puzzling or mysterious is that they don't realize what science truly is. Science is not reality. Unless you are God almighty, omnipresent and omniscient, your science cannot be reality. At least in our lifetimes, we will never have a science that actually is reality. Our best science is a model of realty. A model, however good, is not reality. The reason why we sometimes get to the point where the model says one thing and reality says another is that either our model, or our understanding of our model is lacking in some way. Sometimes we come up with clever hacks like dark matter and dark energy--the origins of the missing mass of the universe--but no one knows much about what dark matter or dark energy are. They are constructs to make the math in the model work.
So either the scientists who say we should not exist are wrong, or we really don't exist, or we won't exist for very long.
The notion that we don't exist or won't exist for long can be less troubling for some scientists than you might think. There is at least one philosopher who says that we very likely don't exist in the way we think we do. Rather, like some entity in the Matrix we are merely simulated beings. So if the physics is a little off its because the simulation is a little off.
Still other thinkers say: What if we are actually constructs of a quantum mechanical universe? If we were, then there is nothing preventing our entire universe from flickering into existence for a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a second, and then flickering out of existence again. Now because of the titanic energies and masses involved, and maybe even a little time dilation sprinkled in, what for us might be billions or even trillions of years, might be over in the blink of an eye for an observer.