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The Destiny of the Universe
FQXI ^ | 7/2/10 | Julie Rehmeyer

Posted on 07/17/2010 4:54:59 PM PDT by LibWhacker

A radical reformulation of quantum mechanics suggests that the universe has a set destiny and its pre-existing fate reaches back in time to influence the past. It could explain the origin of life, dark energy and solve other cosmic conundrums.

The universe has a destiny—and this set fate could be reaching backwards in time and combining with influences from the past to shape the present. It’s a mind-bending claim, but some cosmologists now believe that a radical reformulation of quantum mechanics in which the future can affect the past could solve some of the universe’s biggest mysteries, including how life arose. What’s more, the researchers claim that recent lab experiments are dramatically confirming the concepts underpinning this reformulation.

Cosmologist Paul Davies, at Arizona State University in Tempe, is embarking on a project to investigate the future’s reach into the present, with the help of a $70,000 grant from the Foundational Questions Institute. It is a project that has been brewing for more than 30 years, since Davies first heard of attempts by physicist Yakir Aharonov to get to root of some of the paradoxes of quantum mechanics. One of these is the theory’s apparent indeterminism: You cannot predict the outcome of experiments on a quantum particle precisely; perform exactly the same experiment on two identical particles and you will get two different results.

While most physicists faced with this have concluded that reality is fundamentally, deeply random, Aharonov argues that there is order hidden within the uncertainty. But to understand its source requires a leap of imagination that takes us beyond our traditional view of time and causality. In his radical reinterpretation of quantum mechanics, Aharonov argues that two seemingly identical particles behave differently under the same conditions because they are fundamentally different. We just do not appreciate this difference in the present because it can only be revealed by experiments carried out in the future.

"It’s a very, very profound idea," says Davies. Aharonov’s take on quantum mechanics can explain all the usual results that the conventional interpretations can, but with the added bonus that it also explains away nature’s apparent indeterminism. What’s more, a theory in which the future can influence the past may have huge—and much needed—repercussions for our understanding of the universe, says Davies.

Cosmologists studying the conditions of the early universe have been puzzling about why the cosmos seems so ideally suited for life. There are other mysteries too: Why is the expansion of the universe speeding up? What is the origin of the magnetic fields seen in galaxies? And why do some cosmic rays appear to have impossibly high energies? These questions cannot be answered just by looking at the past conditions of the universe. But perhaps, Davies ponders, if the cosmos has set final conditions in place—a destiny—then this, combined with the influence of the initial conditions set out at the beginning of the universe, might together perfectly explain these cosmic conundrums.

Testing Time’s Arrow

It’s a nice—if extremely strange—idea. But is there any way to check its feasibility? Given that it invokes a future that we do not yet have access to as a partial cause of the present, this seems like an impossible task. However, cunningly devised lab tests have recently put the future to the test and found that it could indeed be affecting the past.

Aharonov and his colleagues had long predicted that for certain very specific quantum experiments carried out in three successive steps, the way that the third and final step is performed could dramatically change the properties measured during the second, intermediate step. In this sense, actions carried out in the future (the third step) would be seen to affect results of measurements carried out in the past (the second step).

In particular, over the past two years, experimental teams have carried out repeated tests with lasers that show that by tweaking the final step of the experiment they can introduce dramatic amplifications in the amount by which their laser beam is deflected during the intermediate steps of the experiment. In some cases, the observed deflection during the intermediate step can be amplified by a factor of 10,000, depending on choices made in the final step.

These strange results can be explained simply by Aharonov’s picture: The intermediate amplification is the result of the combination of actions carried out both in the past (the first step) and the future (the final step). It is far more awkward to explain the results using traditional interpretations of quantum mechanics, says Andrew Jordan of the University of Rochester, who helped to devise one of the laser experiments. The situation can be likened to the way that Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the solar system and Ptolemy’s geocentric model both provide valid interpretations of the same planetary data, but the sun-centered model is thought to be simpler and more elegant.

While laser experiments are providing the team with good news, Davies, Aharonov, and their colleagues Jeff Tollaksen and Menas Kefatos, at Chapman University, California, are now searching for observable cosmic consequences of information from the future influencing the past. One place to look is the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the fading afterglow of the big bang. The CMB has faint ripples of warmth or coolness and thirty years ago, Davies developed a model with his then-student Tim Bunch, describing these ripples at the quantum level.

Davies and Tollaksen are now revising this model within the new quantum framework. Physicists have well-developed thoughts about what the initial state of the universe was and what the final state of the universe could end up being (most likely a vacuum, the inevitable result of continued expansion), and the team are putting these together with their new model to see if they can predict characteristic signatures of the future’s influence on the CMB that could be picked up by the Planck satellite.

"Cosmology is an ideal case for this approach," says Bill Unruh of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. "Since Aharonov has found such strange results in some situations, it’s worth looking at cosmology."

Davies does not yet know whether these ideas will pan out. But if they do, it would be revolutionary. "The remarkable thing about Paul," says Michael Berry of the University of Bristol, "is that he has very wild ideas combined with extreme care and sobriety."

That may be just the character needed to make a breakthrough. It might even be Davies’ destiny.


TOPICS: Astronomy; Science
KEYWORDS: allgoodthings; cause; cosmology; destiny; effect; fate; quantummechanics; startrek; stringtheory; temporalparadox; time; universe

1 posted on 07/17/2010 4:55:02 PM PDT by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker

42 as per Deep Thought.


2 posted on 07/17/2010 5:11:15 PM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
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To: LibWhacker

You're my density!

3 posted on 07/17/2010 5:11:30 PM PDT by workerbee (FAIL, BABY, FAIL!)
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To: LibWhacker

Not specified in the article, but definitely implied:

In step two of the experiment, you get a RESULT that’s dependent on what you do in step three.

So you get the RESULT first, and then you provide the CAUSE.

But what if you cheat?

What if you get the RESULT in step 2, and then fail to perform the action in step 3 that leads to that result?

What’s the universe going to do about it? Take it back?


4 posted on 07/17/2010 5:39:13 PM PDT by samtheman
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To: samtheman

If you want to know the past, present and future, go to Miss Cleo’s psychic hot line....same thing...


5 posted on 07/17/2010 5:43:36 PM PDT by goat granny
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To: LibWhacker
with the added bonus that it also explains away nature’s apparent indeterminism.

As Einstein said, "God does not play dice with the Universe"

6 posted on 07/17/2010 5:46:55 PM PDT by glorgau
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To: LibWhacker
The universe has a destiny—and this set fate could be reaching backwards in time and combining with influences from the past to shape the present.

The old rolling infinity inside out donut trick. That would explain it.

7 posted on 07/17/2010 6:05:42 PM PDT by rawcatslyentist (Jeremiah 50:31 Behold, I am against you, O you most proud, said the Lord God of hosts.)
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To: LibWhacker
Aharanov’s ideas sound like they were derived from his teacher and mentor, David Bohm, and by Bohm’s speculations about an implicate order under observed quantum randomness. And to inject the requisite political spin into this topic, Bohm was a Marxist whom Joe McCarthy inspired to leave the U.S.
8 posted on 07/17/2010 6:18:48 PM PDT by earglasses (I was blind, and now I hear...)
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To: LibWhacker
if the cosmos has set final conditions in place—a destiny

who set those final conditions?

9 posted on 07/17/2010 7:00:59 PM PDT by mjp ((pro-{God, reality, reason, egoism, individualism, natural rights, limited government, capitalism}))
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To: samtheman

That’s a good point. So if they get the 10,000 amplification during the 2nd step and decide not to proceed with the 3rd step, then what caused the increase? Unless perhaps the experiment was set up in such a way that it could not be stopped once it started. That all three steps occurred automatically in bang bang bang type fashion, one after the other.


10 posted on 07/17/2010 7:02:43 PM PDT by Humbug (we regret to inform you that this freeper is too busy at the moment to bother with taglines)
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To: Humbug
That all three steps occurred automatically in bang bang bang type fashion, one after the other.

No no no. In order for this to be understood the assumed timeline must be abandoned such that all 3 test occur simultaneously. Past, present and future are mutually interdependent and cannot be separated by other than intellectual constructs.

11 posted on 07/17/2010 7:40:21 PM PDT by Louis Foxwell (He is the son of soulless slavers, not the son of soulful slaves.)
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To: LibWhacker

The science of God by Dr Chuck Missler.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=496V7OR35vs


12 posted on 07/17/2010 8:04:37 PM PDT by hwkbeer (I will pursue my enemy and not stop till I consume him.)
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To: Amos the Prophet
In order for this to be understood the assumed timeline must be abandoned such that all 3 test occur simultaneously. Past, present and future are mutually interdependent and cannot be separated by other than intellectual constructs.

Hmm. Have you been reading Dune lately? Or maybe 'lately' is the wrong word here. So let me try again: have you been reading the Dune series now, then, or in the future? I just finished the 5th Dune book and i'll be darned if what you typed couldn't have easily fit into one of the chapter headings there. Ahh but then again you're Amos the Prophet, so of course you'd view time differently than most mere mortals.

13 posted on 07/18/2010 7:30:48 AM PDT by Humbug (we regret to inform you that this freeper is too busy at the moment to bother with taglines)
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To: AdmSmith; bvw; callisto; ckilmer; dandelion; ganeshpuri89; gobucks; KevinDavis; Las Vegas Dave; ...
Thanks LibWhacker.

· String Theory Ping List ·
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14 posted on 07/18/2010 10:07:35 AM PDT by SunkenCiv ("Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others." -- Otto von Bismarck)
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To: hwkbeer
The science of God by Dr Chuck Missler.

The Revealing Science of God by Yes.

15 posted on 07/18/2010 10:13:31 AM PDT by P.O.E. ("Now who's being naive, Kaye?" - M. Corleone)
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To: Humbug

It is a rather Duney construct. These nuclear physicists long ago went well off the deep end. Have not read a Dune novel in about 40 years. I don’t think I have the patience for it.


16 posted on 07/18/2010 7:15:09 PM PDT by Louis Foxwell (He is the son of soulless slavers, not the son of soulful slaves.)
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To: Amos the Prophet
Have not read a Dune novel in about 40 years. I don’t think I have the patience for it.

I can understand that. Dune itself was my least favorite book of the series and one in which i had a hard time getting through even after a couple of false starts. I'm glad i did as the rest of the series has what i consider a staggering amount of depth and has completely captivated me.

Not that this is illustrative of the series, it's just an aside, but here's a little nugget buried within Heretics of Dune (which i just finished yesterday) that many Freepers can probably commiserate with:

There was something almost insulting in Taraza's casual tone and only the habits of long association put down Odrade's immediate resentment. It was partly that word "liberal," she realized. Atreides ancestors rose up in rebellion at the word. It was as though her accumulated female memories lashed out at the unconscious assumptions and unexamined prejudices behind the concept.

"Only liberals really think. Only liberals are intellectual. Only liberals understand the needs of their fellows."

How much viciousness lay concealed in that word! Odrade thought. How much secret ego demanding to feel superior.

17 posted on 07/18/2010 8:14:34 PM PDT by Humbug (we regret to inform you that this freeper is too busy at the moment to bother with taglines)
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To: Humbug

I just finished reading “America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution” on another thread. Fits nicely with your quote.
Dune examines a variety of classes: government, social, economic, political and religious.
Do you believe the series is comparable to Atlas Shrugged as political commentary? Furthur, is the series a source of insight into our current history?
I may take them up after all.


18 posted on 07/19/2010 4:20:19 AM PDT by Louis Foxwell (He is the son of soulless slavers, not the son of soulful slaves.)
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To: Amos the Prophet
Do you believe the series is comparable to Atlas Shrugged as political commentary? Further, is the series a source of insight into our current history?

I would say "not so much" to the first question. It's there to some extent, especially in the later novels of the original series, but it's there mostly in a subtle way (the above quote from Heretics of Dune was a rare explicit moment in that regard). As to the second question, the Fremen and their rampage shows the Muslim militant mindset that we all know all too well by now. The Sisterhood is of course patterned after the Catholic Church, and is depicted in both a positive and negative light (one character says that "The Bene Gesserit are so close to what they should be, yet so far"). The spice itself is analogous to our dependence on oil.

The overarching theme though is one of freedom for humanity, freedom from any single dominant force controlling (or preventing) its growth.

By the way, a somewhat shorter work by Herbert exploring similar themes is the Voidship series, starting with Destination Void. It is more hard SF than Dune. I've only read the first two books but it helped me understand the Dune series better.

19 posted on 07/19/2010 7:36:22 AM PDT by Humbug (we regret to inform you that this freeper is too busy at the moment to bother with taglines)
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To: SunkenCiv

It could take weeks to comment on the logical and factual flaws in this article.


20 posted on 07/22/2010 7:31:53 PM PDT by allmost
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To: samtheman

It seems like scientists today refuse to admit that they are clueless about many things.


21 posted on 09/04/2010 5:02:45 PM PDT by MiltonFriedmanFan
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To: MiltonFriedmanFan

Most scientists in any age are opinionated hacks. There are more scientists now than ever before. It just means more hacks than ever.


22 posted on 09/04/2010 6:52:59 PM PDT by samtheman
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To: LibWhacker
Everyone knows that the universe is self-programmed to achieve social justice!!! [/sarc]
23 posted on 09/04/2010 6:56:08 PM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Zokhrenu lechayyim Melekh chafetz bachayyim; vekhotvenu beSefer HaChayyim lema`ankha 'Eloqim Chayyim)
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To: LibWhacker

I just knew that was what was going on


24 posted on 09/04/2010 6:58:40 PM PDT by woofie
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To: samtheman
The key phrase in the article is.... $70,000 grant.
25 posted on 09/04/2010 7:03:48 PM PDT by Texas Songwriter
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To: Texas Songwriter

Exactly. Grant money! Now that’s a destiny worth fighting for!


26 posted on 09/04/2010 7:05:39 PM PDT by samtheman
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To: samtheman

What if you get the RESULT in step 2, and then fail to perform the action in step 3 that leads to that result?


I think the implication is that if you get that result in step 2 invariably somehow, some way, you or someone else will perform step 3 which causes the step 2 results.


27 posted on 10/16/2010 8:19:59 PM PDT by Personal Responsibility ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" - Orwell)
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To: Amos the Prophet

A good way to think about it is that we simply do not have a sensory input to detect the passage of time the way we have eyes and ears to detect size, shape, depth and location of objects in space.

Our perception of time is just that - our perception.


28 posted on 10/16/2010 8:23:07 PM PDT by Personal Responsibility ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" - Orwell)
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To: Personal Responsibility
...we simply do not have a sensory input to detect the passage of time....

Excellent. Of course our sensory input is similarly subjective. We measure time as the distance between two points. I had a prof who claimed that thinking about time for too long would render one insane.

29 posted on 10/17/2010 7:00:29 AM PDT by Louis Foxwell (The American Revolution is just as unpopular with statists today as it was at our founding.)
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To: Amos the Prophet

He’s right. It’s like the old adage about the two dimensional beings trying to explain height. How could they? It’d be impossible for them to prove given the set of data they would have to work with.


30 posted on 10/17/2010 7:37:31 AM PDT by Personal Responsibility ("In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" - Orwell)
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