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Thread: Lifespan of the universe

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    Post Lifespan of the universe

    Mankind 'shortening the universe's life'

     
    Forget about the threat that mankind poses to the Earth: our very ability to study the heavens may have shortened the inferred lifetime of the cosmos. That does not mean the field of astronomy does direct harm. A universe with a truncated lifespan may come hand in hand with the ability of astronomers to make cosmological measurements, according to two American scientists who have studied the strange, subtle and cosmic implications of quantum mechanics, the most successful theory we have. Over the past few years, cosmologists have taken this powerful theory of what happens at the level of subatomic particles and tried to extend it to understand the universe, since it began in the subatomic realm during the Big Bang.

    But there is an odd feature of the theory that philosophers and scientists still argue about. In a nutshell, the theory suggests that quantum systems can exist in many different physical configurations at the same time. By observing the system, however, we may pick out one single 'quantum state', and therefore force the system to change its configuration.

    They often illustrate their concerns about what the theory means in this respect with mind-boggling experiments, notably Schrodinger's cat in which, thanks to a fancy experimental set up, the moggy is both alive and dead until someone decides to look, when it either carries on living, or dies. That is, by one interpretation (by another, the universe splits into two, one with a live cat and one with a dead one.)

    If we are part of the system, however, things get a bit trickier. Our observations do not change the system so much as help determine what state we find ourselves a part of. This latter facet, related to treating the universe as a quantum state, has puzzled theorists for some time.

    New Scientist reports a worrying new variant as the cosmologists claim that
    astronomers may have provided evidence that the universe may ultimately decay by
    observing dark energy, a mysterious anti gravity force which is thought to be
    speeding up the expansion of the cosmos.

    The damaging allegations are made by Profs Lawrence Krauss of Case Western
    Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and James Dent of Vanderbilt University,
    Nashville, who suggest that by making this observation in 1998 we may have
    determined that the cosmos is in a state when it was more likely to end.

    "Incredible as it seems, our detection of the dark energy may provide evidence
    that the universe will ultimately decay," says Prof Krauss.

    The team came to this depressing conclusion by calculating how the energy
    state of our universe - a kind of summation of all its particles and all their
    energies - has evolved since the big bang of creation 13.7 billion years
    ago.

    Some mathematical theories suggest that, in the very beginning, there was a
    void that possessed energy but was devoid of substance. Then the void changed,
    converting energy into the hot matter of the big bang. But the team suggests
    that the void did not convert as much energy to matter as it could, retaining
    some, in the form of what we now call dark energy, which now accelerates the
    expansion of the cosmos.

    Like the decay of a radioactive atom, such shifts in energy state happen at
    random and it is possible that this could trigger a new big bang. The good news
    is that theory suggests that the universe should remain in its current state.

    But the bad is that quantum theory says that whenever we observe or measure
    something, we can select out a specific quantum state from what otherwise would
    have been a multitude of states, each of which could have been selected out with
    varying probabilities.

    In this case however, it turns out that quantum mechanics implies that if an
    unstable system has survived for far longer than the average such system should,
    then the probability that it will continue to survive decreases more slowly than
    it otherwise would.

    Thus, as a result of making cosmological observations of dark energy, we may
    have confirmed that we are in a state where the probability of its survival may
    fall exponentially.

    "The intriguing question is this," Prof Krauss told the Telegraph. "If we
    attempt to apply quantum mechanics to the universe as a whole, and if our
    present state is unstable, then what sets the clock that governs decay?

    "Once we determine our current state by observations, have we effectively
    determined that the clock is not running at late times? If so, as incredible as
    it may seem, our detection of dark energy may imply both an unstable universe
    and a short life expectancy."

    Prof Krauss says that the measurement of the light from supernovae in 1998,
    which provided evidence of dark energy, may imply that the likelihood of its
    surviving is falling rapidly. "In short, cosmological observations may suggest
    that the quantum state of our universe is such that the probability of long-term
    survival is limited," says Prof Krauss.

    And Prof Krauss stresses that resetting the cosmic clock was not something we
    have done to the universe but rather what our cosmologically observations may
    imply about our knowledge of the cosmic clock: "I did not mean to imply
    causality - namely that our measurement itself reduces the lifetime of the
    universe - but rather that by being able to make our measurement we may thus
    conclude that we may not be in the late decay stage."

    This is not the only damage to the heavens that astronomers may have caused.
    Our cosmos is now significantly lighter than scientists had thought after an
    analysis of the amount of light given out by galaxies concluded that some shone
    from lightweight electrons, not heavyweight atoms. In all, the new analysis
    suggests that the universe has lost about one fifth of its overall mass.

    The discovery was made while trying to analyze clusters of galaxies - the
    largest cosmological structures in the universe - and is not the result of a
    cosmological diet but a major rethink of how to interpret x-rays produced by the
    clusters.

    Five years ago, a team at the University of Alabama in Huntsville lead by
    Prof Richard Lieu reported finding large amounts of extra "soft" (relatively
    low-energy) x-rays coming from the vast space in the middle of galaxy clusters.

    Although the atoms that emitted them were thought to be spread thinly through
    space (less than one atom per cubit metre), they would have filled billions of
    billions of cubic light years.

    Their cumulative mass was thought to account for as much as ten percent of
    the mass and gravity needed to hold together galaxies, galaxy clusters and
    perhaps the universe itself.

    But now the team has taken a closer look at data gathered by several
    satellite instruments, including the Chandra X-ray Observatory and have had a
    major rethink about these soft X-rays, the bottom line being that this chunk of
    the universe should now be discounted.

    The reason is that the soft x-rays thought to come from intergalactic clouds
    of atomic gas probably emanated from lightweight electrons instead.

    If the source of so much x-ray energy is tiny electrons instead of hefty
    atoms, it is says the team as if billions of lights thought to come from
    billions of aircraft carriers were found instead to come from billions of
    extremely bright fireflies.

    "This means the mass of these x-ray emitting clouds is much less than we
    initially thought it was," said Dr. Max Bonamente. Instead, they are produced by
    electrons travelling almost the speed of light (and therefore
    "relativistic").

    The discovery may also change what we think is the mix of elements in the
    universe because these soft x rays mask the tell tale x ray emissions of iron
    and other metals. "This is also telling us there is fractionally more iron and
    other metals than we previously thought," said Bonamente. "Less mass but more
    metals."

    Results of this research by Bonamente, Jukka Nevalainen of Finland's Helsinki
    Observatory and Prof Lieu have been published in the Astrophysical Journal.

    The calculated mass of the universe ranges anywhere from 10 to the power of
    53 kg to 10 to the power of 60 kg and is complicated by the fact that there is
    invisible matter we cannot see, called dark matter.


    By Roger Highfield, Science Editor
    12:00AM GMT 21 Nov 2007
    Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/s...rses-life.html

    And for those with a desire to know what the actual paper in question states, here it is:
    http://arxiv.org/abs/0711.1821

    Relevant links:
    http://scienceblogs.com/interactions...rtening-the-u/
    http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized...-the-universe/
    http://www.startrek.com/boards-topic...03708_33304244
    http://www.starstryder.com/2007/11/2...-you-must-die/
    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/20...-shorten-univ/
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=621
    http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/2...-the-universe/

    Nuclear physics in a SUSY universe (relevant data?):
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1007.5054

    I've read all of these articles thoroughly, and while many of them say that our observation is unavoidable and/or negligible in effect, what most of them neglect is the fact that the observation of something has caused, and is causing, this phenomenon. Whether you ascribe to the Copenhagen interpretation or MWI (which to my knowledge are currently the most popular of the lot among the scientific community):

    Copenhagen: observation has caused the wavefunction of the universe to collapse into its present state, accelerating entropy / Big Rip

    MWI: observation has nudged our (arbitrary) perceived/subjective universe onto the path where the wavefunction of the universe is in its present state, accelerating entropy / Big Rip

    I don't know all of the ins and outs of cosmology, or particle/quantum physics, but I try to keep up... and if I've read all this correctly then that means regardless of the cause, the universe is now aging and expanding more rapidly than before, and will likely continue to accelerate. Isn't that a really, really bad thing? Especially if the acceleration of the rate of expansion is exponential? What can be done to address this matter?

    What are your thoughts on this, AF?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Whether it's bad or not, whats to stop the universe? Nothing.


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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Nullpunkt View Post
    I've read all of these articles thoroughly, and while many of them say that our observation is unavoidable and/or negligible in effect, what most of them neglect is the fact that the observation of something has caused, and is causing, this phenomenon. Whether you ascribe to the Copenhagen interpretation or MWI (which to my knowledge are currently the most popular of the lot among the scientific community):
    Alright, let's go to school.

    In quantum physics, observation is measurement (which in turn is the same as quantum entanglement). It does not require an observer. An atom can observe another atom by emitting a photon. What we've come classicaly to explain with poorly defined concepts such as "wavefunction collapse" can also be shown to emerge from entanglement with a classical system (in a process called quantum decoherence, or dephasing). To re-iterate, observation does not require a sentient observer.

    Furthermore, on interpretations. Physics has moved on from the ancient debate that was MWI vs Copenhagen. Neither interpretation holds much in terms of serious water today. MWI isn't even a proper physical theory. It's flat-out unscientific, in that it makes predictions that are inherently unverifiable. Copenhagen has been generalized into consistent histories (which is at least less awful).
    D:

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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Eris View Post
    Alright, let's go to school.

    In quantum physics, observation is measurement (which in turn is the same as quantum entanglement). It does not require an observer. An atom can observe another atom by emitting a photon. What we've come classicaly to explain with poorly defined concepts such as "wavefunction collapse" can also be shown to emerge from entanglement with a classical system (in a process called quantum decoherence, or dephasing). To re-iterate, observation does not require a sentient observer.

    Furthermore, on interpretations. Physics has moved on from the ancient debate that was MWI vs Copenhagen. Neither interpretation holds much in terms of serious water today. MWI isn't even a proper physical theory. It's flat-out unscientific, in that it makes predictions that are inherently unverifiable. Copenhagen has been generalized into consistent histories (which is at least less awful).
    I know that observation is measurement and does not require a sentient observer. That wasn't my point. My point is that the measurement is being made by something besides us, and that regardless of whether or not we measure anything, the effect is still there.

    Consistent histories looks muddled and Occam-unfriendly to me. There's nothing unscientific about MWI, either:


    Asher Peres was an outspoken critic of MWI; for example, a section in his 1993 textbook had the title Everett's interpretation and other bizarre theories. In fact, Peres not only questioned whether MWI is really an "interpretation", but rather, if any interpretations of quantum mechanics are needed at all. Indeed, an interpretation can be regarded as a purely formal transformation, which adds nothing to the rules of the quantum mechanics. Peres seems to suggest that positing the existence of an infinite number of non-communicating parallel universes is highly suspect per those who interpret it as a violation of Occam's razor, i.e., that it does not minimize the number of hypothesized entities. However, it is understood that the number of elementary particles are not a gross violation of Occam's Razor, one counts the types, not the tokens. Max Tegmark remarks that the alternative to many-worlds is "many words", an allusion to the complexity of von Neumann's collapse postulate.

    MWI is considered by some to be unfalsifiable and hence unscientific because the multiple parallel universes are non-communicating, in the sense that no information can be passed between them. Others[56] claim MWI is directly testable. Everett regarded MWI as falsifiable since any test that falsifies conventional quantum theory would also falsify MWI.[21]

    According to Martin Gardner, the "other" worlds of MWI have two different interpretations: real or unreal, and claims that Stephen Hawking and Steve Weinberg both favour the unreal interpretation.[80] Gardner also claims that the nonreal interpretation is favoured by the majority of physicists, whereas the "realist" view is only supported by MWI experts such as Deutsch and Bryce DeWitt. Hawking has said that "according to Feynman's idea", all the other histories are as "equally real" as our own,[81] and Martin Gardner reports Hawking saying that MWI is "trivially true".[82] In a 1983 interview, Hawking also said he regarded the MWI as "self-evidently correct" but was dismissive towards questions about the interpretation of quantum mechanics, saying, "When I hear of Schrödinger's cat, I reach for my gun." In the same interview, he also said, "But, look: All that one does, really, is to calculate conditional probabilities—in other words, the probability of A happening, given B. I think that that's all the many worlds interpretation is. Some people overlay it with a lot of mysticism about the wave function splitting into different parts. But all that you're calculating is conditional probabilities."[83] Elsewhere Hawking contrasted his attitude towards the "reality" of physical theories with that of his colleague Roger Penrose, saying, "He's a Platonist and I'm a positivist. He's worried that Schrödinger's cat is in a quantum state, where it is half alive and half dead. He feels that can't correspond to reality. But that doesn't bother me. I don't demand that a theory correspond to reality because I don't know what it is. Reality is not a quality you can test with litmus paper. All I'm concerned with is that the theory should predict the results of measurements. Quantum theory does this very successfully."[84] For his own part, Penrose agrees with Hawking that QM applied to the universe implies MW, although he considers the current lack of a successful theory of quantum gravity negates the claimed universality of conventional QM.[65]
    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Many-worlds_interpretation

    That being said, the rate of expansion of the universe appears to be accelerating. I'm not concerned with the cause, explicitly. I'm concerned with the result. What can be done about it? How pressing of an issue could it potentially be, if the rate is accelerating exponentially?

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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Nullpunkt View Post
    I know that observation is measurement and does not require a sentient observer. That wasn't my point. My point is that the measurement is being made by something besides us, and that regardless of whether or not we measure anything, the effect is still there.
    My point is that observation is something that is inherent in the universe itself. Nothing but a complete entropic maximum (a.k.a. heat death) will stop the universe from observing itself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nullpunkt View Post
    Consistent histories looks muddled and Occam-unfriendly to me. There's nothing unscientific about MWI, either:
    Eh, consistent histories is pretty clear. It's merely expressing the problem in terms more in line with quantum-mechanical formalism. It's quite Occam-friendly in that it does away with the handwavy junk that has plagued older interpretations like Copenhagen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nullpunkt View Post
    "Real" MWI is unscientific. "Unreal" MWI doesn't say anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nullpunkt View Post
    That being said, the rate of expansion of the universe appears to be accelerating. I'm not concerned with the cause, explicitly. I'm concerned with the result. What can be done about it? How pressing of an issue could it potentially be, if the rate is accelerating exponentially?
    We can't do anything about the universe, anymore than protozoa can do something about the solar system.
    Last edited by Eris; 10-21-2013 at 03:02 PM.
    D:

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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Look if the universe were ever going to end it would already have done so since time would have ceased to exist too.
    Anime is a lot like sex. Done right it's a beautiful act of creation that brings a little more light into the world. If it's sick and wrong... it's even better.


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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Eris View Post
    "Real" MWI is unscientific. "Unreal" MWI doesn't say anything.
    As for "real" MWI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_realism

    As for "unreal" MWI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tautology_(logic)

    We can't do anything about the universe, anymore than protozoa can do something about the solar system.
    Protozoa can evolve, just like we did. And we can do something about the solar system. So why is it unthinkable that we should be able to evolve (and here I mean technologically, since that seems to be the path we are taking these days) and become capable of doing something about the universe?

    Say, for example, finding a way out of it?

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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Clayton_n View Post
    Look if the universe were ever going to end it would already have done so since time would have ceased to exist too.
    were you the one that claimed to have an i.q. near genius or was it animedude?

    anyway the way i see it, the universe has probably ended (collapsed, for lack of a better term) an infinite amount of times and the big bang has repeated an endless amount of times as a result. energy cannot be created or destroyed is what i hear, therefore the universe cannot literally end, just recycle itself every trillion trillion trillion years (rough estimate - actually i made it up).

    i failed high school science and this theory is based on faulty, fragmented information, but it makes sense to me and is deeply as i care to delve into the subject.
    hor·ren·dous
    adjective
    shockingly dreadful; horrible
    synonyms
    appalling, frightful, hideous

    --

    sometimes i don't know why we'd rather live than die

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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    nah, they recently found that it's actually expanding at an increasing rate. Which to me says we're heading towards the starting point instead of away from it.

    Like if there's an explosion in a zero gravity environment it forms a sphere unless something gets in its way.

    So if the big bang included the start of time past present future, and even alternate timelines would all expand in a ball in all directions too. So if the universe if expanding faster instead of, as the laws of entropy state, slowing down then we're probably going towards the start of the explosion rather than away from it.


    On the other hand there's the theory that time and space are both figments of somebody's imagination so unless I die yous hould all be fine. \


    hey did anyone else hear that they proved the Higgs boson theory? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson
    Anime is a lot like sex. Done right it's a beautiful act of creation that brings a little more light into the world. If it's sick and wrong... it's even better.


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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Clayton_n View Post
    nah, they recently found that it's actually expanding at an increasing rate. Which to me says we're heading towards the starting point instead of away from it.

    Like if there's an explosion in a zero gravity environment it forms a sphere unless something gets in its way.

    So if the big bang included the start of time past present future, and even alternate timelines would all expand in a ball in all directions too. So if the universe if expanding faster instead of, as the laws of entropy state, slowing down then we're probably going towards the start of the explosion rather than away from it.


    On the other hand there's the theory that time and space are both figments of somebody's imagination so unless I die yous hould all be fine. \


    hey did anyone else hear that they proved the Higgs boson theory? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson
    Bwuh...

    Alright. Look. Accelerating expansion means that the universe will expand at an ever-increasing rate, faster and faster, until it rips itself apart, aka the Big Rip. You're thinking of the Big Crunch, which is what would happen if expansion were decelerating to the point that gravitational attraction overpowers expansion. A static state (no expansion or contraction) would result in an eternal universe, and a static rate of expansion (not too fast, not too slow) would result in the Big Freeze, or entropic heat death.

    And they didn't "prove the Higgs boson theory". They found two previously unknown particles that fit the hypothesised particulars of two out of six Higgs particles.

  12. #11
    Senior Member Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    And they didn't "prove the Higgs boson theory". They found two previously unknown particles that fit the hypothesised particulars of two out of six Higgs particles.[/COLOR]

    okay the "god particle" if you want to get specific.



    Now here's the fun question.

    What is the universe expanding IN?
     

    Last edited by Clayton_n; 10-24-2013 at 05:19 PM.
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    Senior Member Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n has a reputation beyond repute Clayton_n's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lifespan of the universe

    Quote Originally Posted by Nullpunkt View Post
    Bwuh...
    here, this should help explain



    We're not really important enough to know how things work. Not like we can do anything abou tit whatever the true nature of reality is.





    Last edited by Clayton_n; 10-24-2013 at 06:58 PM.
    Anime is a lot like sex. Done right it's a beautiful act of creation that brings a little more light into the world. If it's sick and wrong... it's even better.


    Author of "How to Be an Anime Character" available from Amazon.com

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