The beginning of the universe
The universe is expanding. It is expanding now, it was expanding yesterday, in fact it has been expanding for as long as we can tell. The Cosmic Background Radiation, predicted by the Big Bang Theory and subsequently confirmed by observation, leads scientists to conclude that the universe has expanded 1100-fold since shortly after the Big Bang.
The expansion of the universe has led almost the entire scientific community to conclude that the universe has not existed forever, but came into existence with the Big Bang, which is believed to have occurred 13.799 billion years ago.
A universe from nothing
In his book “A universe from nothing” Lawrence Krauss takes this idea a step further. He posits that the initial state of the material universe arose from nothingness, in such a manner that it’s total energy was and is exactly zero. This requires that the positive mass energy of the universe and its negative gravitational potential energy add up to zero, initially and at all times thereafter. In his theory, the universe can be regarded as the ultimate free lunch.
However, there are two major problems with the Krauss theory. Firstly, it doesn’t really propose that the universe arose out of absolutely nothing. Rather, it arose out of a pre-existing quantum soup. How this soup came to exist is left out of the story. Secondly, it presumes that there is pre-existing natural law, without any suggestion where that came from. So what!, you may say. But, given a choice between two theories, that of Krauss and a theory in which the initial state of the universe arose out of absolute nothingness, yet accounts for the same phenomena, which would you prefer? Surely, a complete theory beats an incomplete one every time!
Why the Krauss theory is incomplete
Cosmological theories such as those of Krauss are developed by looking what happens when we roll the clock backwards towards the initial state. That has resulted in predictions as to what the universe was like when it was 10-38 seconds old, at which point our physics becomes inadequate to extrapolate further back. However, even the extrapolations we have been able to make don’t quite fit all the observations, so scientists have searched for mathematical constructs which fit the observations better. That leaves us with theories which fit the facts but have no predictive power, because they tell us about the what but not the why. It’s like measuring the surface temperature of the sun as being 5,778 degrees Kelvin, and then coming up with the theory that assumes that the surface temperature of the sun is about 5,780 degrees Kelvin.
This focus on the what at the expense of the why is caused because those who develop cosmological theories start at the least illuminating end of the problem – our current chaos. It is more difficult to start with a chaos and work out how it was once ordered, than to start with order and work out how it descended into chaos. Anybody who has ever struggled to fit an appliance back into the box it came in knows how that works. In the same vein, it is more difficult to understand what an egg is by studying omelettes than to understand what an omelette is by studying eggs.
Einstein’s Holy Grail
Okay, you may say, but we do not and cannot know anything about the initial state of the universe, so how can this state illuminate us?
The above question sounds more honest than it actually is. The assumption that we cannot know anything about the initial state of the universe is only true if ‘knowledge’ means absolute certainty, but in that case we have no knowledge of anything at all, because absolutely certain knowledge is an illusion. With any less stringent definition of knowledge, there is a lot we can say about the initial state of the universe. To start off with, it must have come into existence out of absolute nothingness, otherwise it wouldn’t be the initial state. And that initial state must have occurred spontaneously, which is credible only if the transition from absolute nothingness to the initial state is simple. Note that the initial state consists not only of the things, but also of all natural law that that existed initially. After all, for the universe to develop from the initial state, the rules that governed how it could develop would have had to be in operation too. Just like the initial things, the initial natural law would have to have been extremely simple for it to be even remotely credible that it, too, arose out of absolute nothingness.
This line of thinking is a major step forward from the current level of scientific ambition, which reaches no further than the what of natural law. It provides us with analytical tools which help us answer the question as to why natural law is as we observe it to be. That puts Einstein’s Holy Grail within reach. As Einstein put it: “I want to know if God had a choice”.
Why this site?
This site is the result of a quest to use the Krauss theory as a basis to arrive at the simplest possible explanation for the universe we inhabit. It is a very ambitious quest, because it seeks to go much further than to describe the natural laws of the universe. Firstly, the quest leads to a consideration as to how natural law operates. For example, it seeks to know how each electron in the universe 'knows' how to behave as an electron. Secondly, the quest leads us to think about how natural law originated and developed, and whether the natural law which we see was inevitable.
This quest has resulted in a new, simple and extremely productive account of the initial state of the universe and the subsequent development of natural law and the material universe: the Quantum Occam – QO (pronounced kw-oh) for short – hypothesis. The QO hypothesis is that the universe and everything in it arose from a single 2 state quantum system, solely by means of established quantum mechanical processes. In this site, we argue that this hypothesis accounts for phenomena in the domains of mathematics, physics, cosmology, biology and philosophy. That makes it the first ever theory of truly everything.
Ingredients of QO
QO is composed of a number of ingredients, each of which, although they reinforce each other, can be investigated, applied and believed or disbelieved independently of the others. They include the following:
- The QO initial state, as outlined above
- The QO interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, including its application to the concept of natural law
- The Occam Method, a heuristic which can be used to determine the simplest explanation for a given set of phenomena
- QO physics, which explores the nature of time, space, gravity, elementary particles, motion, and energy, and provides a foundation for a new account for the development of the cosmos from the initial state until now.
The sheer ambition of QO makes it worth investigating. Even if you estimate that an approach that makes the claims QO does has only one chance in a thousand of being correct, surely that makes it worth spending an hour or two of your life to explore it. One way to start investigating QO is to start with the core phenomena . Another route into QO is to consider how QO accounts for the genesis of the universe, as described in the lemma Genesis. Or you can just surf around the site. The main menu, the links between pages, the search function, the tags and the navigational means which are provided in the footer will help you on your way.