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From the present to the past [Stephen Hawking]
PhysicsWeb ^ | 30 June 2006 | Staff

Posted on 07/04/2006 4:29:06 AM PDT by PatrickHenry

Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking and his CERN colleague Thomas Hertog have proposed a radical new approach to understanding the universe that studies it from the "top down" rather than the "bottom up" as in traditional models. The approach acknowledges that the universe did not have just one unique beginning and history but a multitude of different beginnings and histories, and that it has experienced them all. But because most of these other alternative histories disappeared very early after the Big Bang to leave behind the universe we observe today, the best way to understand the past, they say, is to trace our knowledge back from the present (Phys. Rev. D 73 123527).

Most models of the universe are bottom-up, that is, you start from the well-defined initial conditions of the Big Bang and work forward. However, Hawking and Hertog say that this method is flawed because we do not and cannot know the initial conditions present at the beginning of the universe and that we only know the final state -- the one we are in now. Their idea is therefore to start with the conditions we observe today -- like the universe is 3D, nearly flat and expanding at an accelerating rate -- and work backwards in time to determine what the initial conditions might have looked like.

The new theory aims to get round a fundamental problem of string theory -- the most popular candidate for a "theory of everything" -- which is that it allows the existence of a multitude of different types of universes as well as our own. Each possible universe in this "landscape" has its own fundamental constants and even different numbers of space-time dimensions. Moreover, string theory does not favour any particular universe over another, which is not a good state of affairs as we clearly live in a universe with a particular set of physical properties.

To address this, Hawking and Hertog say that all these alternative universes of string theory may have actually existed together in the first few instants after the Big Bang. At this time, the universe was in a "superposition" of all these possible worlds. However, most of these universes then quickly faded away to leave behind our present-day universe. By tracing our universe back from the present to the past, we can ignore most of other branches that the universe took because they are too different from the current universe.

While this idea sounds fantastic, it is based on Richard Feynman’s "sum over paths" formulation in quantum theory, which says that the probability that a photon, say, arrives at a particular place can be calculated by summing up over all the different possible trajectories of the photon. Although the photon could follow lots of different paths, the straight-line path dominates over all the others so this is the one we see. In the same way, Hawking and Hertog say that the universe did not take just one path through time to arrive in its present state, but took a multitude of paths, or histories. The "sum over all histories" is therefore the universe we observe today.

The new top-down theory could also explain why some constants of nature seem to have finely tuned values that have allowed life to evolve in our universe. For example, the cosmological constant, Λ -- the force that appears to be causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate, or the density of dark energy -- has a small positive value; if it were any smaller or bigger then life would not exist. According to the new theory, the current universe must have "chosen" those histories that led to the "correct" value of Λ otherwise we would simply not be here to experience it -- a theory also known as the "anthropic principle".

Hawking and Hertog also say their model could be tested by comparing observations of the patterns of minute intensity variations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation with those calculated by their theory when it is more developed. The CMB is the radiation left over from the Big Bang and should contain "imprints" of some of the very early alternative histories within it.


TOPICS: Philosophy
KEYWORDS: cosmology; cosmotologists; stringtheory
Hawking is always newsworthy. I added the bold font and underlining.

Happy 4th to all.

1 posted on 07/04/2006 4:29:08 AM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: VadeRetro; Junior; longshadow; RadioAstronomer; Doctor Stochastic; js1138; Shryke; RightWhale; ...
SciencePing
An elite subset of the Evolution list.
See the list's explanation at my freeper homepage.
Then FReepmail to be added or dropped.

2 posted on 07/04/2006 4:30:18 AM PDT by PatrickHenry (The Enlightenment gave us individual rights, free enterprise, and the theory of evolution.)
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To: PatrickHenry
I already had all of this solved the last universe we were all in, but somehow, the info keeps getting lost. ;)
3 posted on 07/04/2006 4:32:56 AM PDT by Son Of The Godfather
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To: Son Of The Godfather

"There's so much I don't know about astrophysics. I wish I'd read that book by that wheelchair guy." Homer Simpson


4 posted on 07/04/2006 4:35:49 AM PDT by CrazyIvan (If you read only one book this year, read "Stolen Valor".)
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To: PatrickHenry

"anthropic principle" hmmmm.. So the universe is uniquely oriented to allow life. (In addition to he cosmological constant, there are over ten constant numbers, for which a small change in any of them, would preclude life). Anthropomorphism is the poet's license to apply human qualities to a moon, a stream, an animal or tree. Seems to be a humanistic, secular bias here, I guess Hawking wants to be published as much as anybody else. If had called it the "genesis principle," even Mr. Hawking would be ostracized.
On the seventh day he rested, and it was good.


5 posted on 07/04/2006 4:58:17 AM PDT by mission9 (Be a citizen worth living for, in a Nation worth dying for...)
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To: mission9

Hawking is not troubled by the Genesis principle. That is where his line of reasoning leads. At creation God dismissed all alternative realities except this one.
Hawking has always brilliantly argued for Creation by Design and not by blind chance.
This, once again, puts the nail in the coffin of that old mummy, Darwin. Now to dismantle anti-theistic evolution as "scientific."


6 posted on 07/04/2006 5:11:18 AM PDT by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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To: PatrickHenry
Hope Radio Astronomer shows up soon to explain what all that meant.
A couple of SNs have already found the thread.
They really must check your "in forum." You should be flattered.
7 posted on 07/04/2006 5:22:17 AM PDT by ASA Vet (3.03)
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To: Alamo-Girl; betty boop

Gobble!, Gobble!......


8 posted on 07/04/2006 5:24:44 AM PDT by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole..)
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To: Amos the Prophet

You're on some serious drugs if you think Stephen Hawking is a Creationist.

http://www.hawking.org.uk/lectures/life.html

And it's pointless to point this out yet again, but Darwin wrote "Origin of Species" not "Origin of Life" or "Origin of the Universe."


9 posted on 07/04/2006 5:25:33 AM PDT by Strategerist
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To: mission9

The various anthropic principles are a pretty complicated subject, Hawking discusses them somewhat in the link I posted; Wikipedia has something better, probably.

One thing to keep in mind is that if there are billions of different universes with different constants and physical laws (which is a very real possibility) there would be several with the correct "settings" for life, basically randomly. However, those would be the only universes with intelligent life that could contemplate the unique settings of their universe, and they'd all incorrectly perceive that their universe was specially "set up" for them.


10 posted on 07/04/2006 5:28:37 AM PDT by Strategerist
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To: Strategerist

You're on some serious drugs if you think Stephen Hawking is a Creationist.
_________________

Have you read Hawking? His writings are informed by constant references to God. Or do you think this is merely literary rhetoric?


11 posted on 07/04/2006 5:36:59 AM PDT by Louis Foxwell
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To: Strategerist

And it's pointless to point this out yet again, but Darwin wrote "Origin of Species" not "Origin of Life" or "Origin of the Universe."
____

So... it is ok with Darwiniacs if God is involved in creation up to but not including the "Origins of Life?"


12 posted on 07/04/2006 5:39:26 AM PDT by Louis Foxwell
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To: Son Of The Godfather

Bizarro world strikes again.


13 posted on 07/04/2006 5:53:58 AM PDT by carumba (The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made. Groucho)
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To: Amos the Prophet
Have you read Hawking? His writings are informed by constant references to God. Or do you think this is merely literary rhetoric?

You are very generous in attributing theism to people of differing worldviews. Some folks I have run into one these threads would say anyone not attending their church is an atheist.

14 posted on 07/04/2006 6:49:17 AM PDT by js1138 (Well I say there are some things we don't want to know! Important things!")
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To: PatrickHenry
So the current universe must have "chosen" the histories that led to the "correct" value and the precise conditions that brought life into existence??? I meant to say the Current Universe. But now we're back where we started. Anybody who tries to teach this in the public schools is in for trouble from the ACLU and the rest of the atheistic Left.
15 posted on 07/04/2006 7:34:56 AM PDT by Savage Beast (9/11 was never repeated--thanks to President George Bush and his supurb leadership.)
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To: Savage Beast
So the current universe must have "chosen" the histories that led to the "correct" value and the precise conditions that brought life into existence???

Not "must have" in the sense that the universe absolutely had to do what it did, or that it's an anthropomorphic being making a choice based on foreknowledge. Rather, a deduction about the past is being made. It is only "must have" in the sense that, if conditions in the universe didn't fall out as liveable, nothing would be alive therein.

16 posted on 07/04/2006 7:43:32 AM PDT by VadeRetro (Faster than a speeding building; able to leap tall bullets at a single bound!)
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To: PatrickHenry

17 posted on 07/04/2006 7:45:28 AM PDT by Bratch
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To: PatrickHenry
Hawking and Hertog also say their model could be tested

Any mechanical model could be tested. That doesn't add anything to the possibility that they are finally tuned into ultimate reality.

18 posted on 07/04/2006 7:48:52 AM PDT by RightWhale (Off touch and out of base)
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To: Amos the Prophet

Ah redesigning the design, some are better at it than others. There will need be a retraining seminar to lay out the "fences" for the grant givers.


19 posted on 07/04/2006 7:51:14 AM PDT by Just mythoughts
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To: PatrickHenry

Thanks for the ping!


20 posted on 07/04/2006 8:04:05 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: hosepipe

LOLOL!


21 posted on 07/04/2006 8:04:35 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: js1138

You are very generous in attributing theism to people of differing worldviews.

________

There is but One God.


22 posted on 07/04/2006 8:16:51 AM PDT by Louis Foxwell
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To: PatrickHenry

I'm curious...

I know Stephen Hawking is not a climatologist (duh), but doesn anyone know if he's ever weighed in on global warming?


23 posted on 07/04/2006 8:21:01 AM PDT by BlessedBeGod (Benedict XVI = Terminator IV)
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To: BlessedBeGod
I know Stephen Hawking is not a climatologist (duh), but doesn anyone know if he's ever weighed in on global warming?

Yes, just last month. At a conference in China, he said he was "very worried about global warming." "Stephen Hawking warns about global warming"
24 posted on 07/04/2006 9:18:10 AM PDT by Eagle Forgotten
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To: Eagle Forgotten

Thanks! I see he's swallowed the kool-aid, too, but in even a worse way than normal. Too bad.


25 posted on 07/04/2006 9:32:52 AM PDT by BlessedBeGod (Benedict XVI = Terminator IV)
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To: PatrickHenry

We Were Discussing Stephen Hawking Just This Morning Pinggggggggg. . .


26 posted on 07/04/2006 9:35:40 AM PDT by Flyer (Don't question the questioner)
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To: pax_et_bonum

We Were Discussing Stephen Hawking Just This Morning Pinggggggggg. . .

And this time I ping the right person.


27 posted on 07/04/2006 9:36:57 AM PDT by Flyer (Don't question the questioner)
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To: PatrickHenry; Physicist; RadioAstronomer; Quark2005

Sounds like Hawking is taking a page from Robert Laughlin's book.


28 posted on 07/04/2006 9:39:53 AM PDT by RightWingAtheist (Creationism is to conservatism what Howard Dean is to liberalism)
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To: Flyer
And this time I ping the right person.

Does this mean that you just pinged some unsuspecting passerby?

lol!

Now, Flyer, that's an inventive way to meet women....

;-)

29 posted on 07/04/2006 12:20:40 PM PDT by pax_et_bonum (Whatever happened to Cynthia McKinney?)
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To: mission9
"anthropic principle" hmmmm.. So the universe is uniquely oriented to allow life. (In addition to he cosmological constant, there are over ten constant numbers, for which a small change in any of them, would preclude life). Anthropomorphism is the poet's license to apply human qualities to a moon, a stream, an animal or tree. Seems to be a humanistic, secular bias here, I guess Hawking wants to be published as much as anybody else. If had called it the "genesis principle," even Mr. Hawking would be ostracized.

I'm willing to "ostracize" any scientist who invokes the "anthropic principle," and your implication that Hawkins has surrendered his "science" to the PC Gods is appropriate.

To invoke this "anthropic principle" is to argue (without any data) that the universe is purposeful.

Regards...R.

30 posted on 07/04/2006 1:43:04 PM PDT by Rudder
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To: VadeRetro
It is only "must have" in the sense that, if conditions in the universe didn't fall out as liveable, nothing would be alive therein.

The essence of evolution is that living organisms are continuously and highly variable (as opposed to rocks), thus I would suspect that life was more apt to adapt to the conditions of the universe rather than vice verse.

31 posted on 07/04/2006 2:04:24 PM PDT by Rudder
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To: mission9
Guillermo Gonzalez & Jay W Richards, The Privileged Planet
32 posted on 07/04/2006 9:40:40 PM PDT by onedoug
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33 posted on 06/10/2008 8:53:12 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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