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Physics looks for new Einstein as nature rewrites laws of universe
Times Newspapers Ltd. ^ | September 9 2001 | Jonathan Leake

Posted on 09/09/2001 1:05:44 PM PDT by telos

A GROUP of astronomers and cosmologists has warned that the laws thought to govern the universe, including Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, must be rewritten. The group, which includes Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir Martin Rees, the astronomer royal, say such laws may only work for our universe but not in others that are now also thought to exist. "It is becoming increasingly likely that the rules we had thought were fundamental through time and space are actually just bylaws for our bit of it," said Rees, whose new book, Our Cosmic Habitat, is published next month. "Creation is emerging as even stranger than we thought." Among the ideas facing revision is Einstein's belief that the speed of light must always be the same - 186,000 miles a second in a vacuum. There is growing evidence that light moved much faster during the early stages of our universe. Rees, Hawking and others are so concerned at the impact of such ideas that they recently organised a private conference in Cambridge for more than 30 leading cosmologists. Cosmology - the study of the origins and future of our universe - became popular in the early 20th century for physicists who wanted to think the unthinkable about creation. Einstein's theory of relativity, which describes how gravity controls the behaviour of our universe, was one of cosmology's greatest triumphs. But Einstein said there was an even deeper issue, which he described as whether God had any choice. In other words, could the laws that governed the way our universe formed after the big bang have worked any differently? He concluded that they could not. In the past 40 years, however, the increasing power of astronomical instruments has turned cosmology from a theoretical science into a practical one and forced scientists to re-examine Einstein's conclusions. Among the most striking claims is that our universe only exists because of a fine balance between several crucial factors. One is the rate at which nuclear fusion releases energy in stars such as the sun by squashing hydrogen atoms into helium and then other elements. Astronomers have found that exactly 0.7% of the mass of the hydrogen is converted into starlight and that if this figure had been just a fraction different then carbon and other elements essential to life could never have formed. Another puzzle is the so-called "smoothness" of our universe, by which astronomers mean the distribution of matter and radiation. In theory, the big bang could have produced a universe where all the matter clumped together into a few black holes, or another in which it was spread out evenly, forming nothing but a thin vapour. "It could be that the laws that govern our universe are unchangeable but it is a remarkable coincidence that these laws are also exactly what is needed to produce life," said Rees. "It seems too good to be true." What he, Hawking and others such as Neil Turok, professor of maths and physics at Cambridge, are now looking at is the idea that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, with different laws of nature operating in each. Some universes would have all their matter clumped together into a few huge black holes while others would be nothing more than a thin uniform freezing gas. However, Hawking and his colleagues increasingly disagree over how this "multiverse" could work. At the conference Hawking dismissed the idea of a series of big bangs on the grounds that it extended into the infinite past and so could never have a beginning.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: space; stringtheory; tinfoilhat
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Paranoid conspiracy theory? More to heaven and earth than is dreamt of in Man's philosophy? You be the Judge.
1 posted on 09/09/2001 1:05:44 PM PDT by telos
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To: telos


A GROUP of astronomers and cosmologists has warned that the laws thought to govern the universe, including Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, must be rewritten.

The group, which includes Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir Martin Rees, the astronomer royal, say such laws may only work for our universe but not in others that are now also thought to exist.

"It is becoming increasingly likely that the rules we had thought were fundamental through time and space are actually just bylaws for our bit of it," said Rees, whose new book, Our Cosmic Habitat, is published next month. "Creation is emerging as even stranger than we thought."

Among the ideas facing revision is Einstein's belief that the speed of light must always be the same - 186,000 miles a second in a vacuum. There is growing evidence that light moved much faster during the early stages of our universe.

Rees, Hawking and others are so concerned at the impact of such ideas that they recently organised a private conference in Cambridge for more than 30 leading cosmologists.

Cosmology - the study of the origins and future of our universe - became popular in the early 20th century for physicists who wanted to think the unthinkable about creation.

Einstein's theory of relativity, which describes how gravity controls the behaviour of our universe, was one of cosmology's greatest triumphs. But Einstein said there was an even deeper issue, which he described as whether God had any choice. In other words, could the laws that governed the way our universe formed after the big bang have worked any differently? He concluded that they could not.

In the past 40 years, however, the increasing power of astronomical instruments has turned cosmology from a theoretical science into a practical one and forced scientists to re-examine Einstein's conclusions. Among the most striking claims is that our universe only exists because of a fine balance between several crucial factors.

One is the rate at which nuclear fusion releases energy in stars such as the sun by squashing hydrogen atoms into helium and then other elements. Astronomers have found that exactly 0.7% of the mass of the hydrogen is converted into starlight and that if this figure had been just a fraction different then carbon and other elements essential to life could never have formed.

Another puzzle is the so-called "smoothness" of our universe, by which astronomers mean the distribution of matter and radiation. In theory, the big bang could have produced a universe where all the matter clumped together into a few black holes, or another in which it was spread out evenly, forming nothing but a thin vapour. "It could be that the laws that govern our universe are unchangeable but it is a remarkable coincidence that these laws are also exactly what is needed to produce life," said Rees. "It seems too good to be true."

What he, Hawking and others such as Neil Turok, professor of maths and physics at Cambridge, are now looking at is the idea that our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, with different laws of nature operating in each.

Some universes would have all their matter clumped together into a few huge black holes while others would be nothing more than a thin uniform freezing gas.

However, Hawking and his colleagues increasingly disagree over how this "multiverse" could work. At the conference Hawking dismissed the idea of a series of big bangs on the grounds that it extended into the infinite past and so could never have a beginning.


2 posted on 09/09/2001 1:10:43 PM PDT by StriperSniper
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To: telos
Einstein's belief that the speed of light must always be the same - 186,000 miles a second in a vacuum.

Now, it all depends on the meaning of: 'light', 'mile', 'second' and 'vacuum'. Doesn't it?

3 posted on 09/09/2001 1:13:29 PM PDT by A Vast RightWing Conspirator
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To: StriperSniper
Thank you.
4 posted on 09/09/2001 1:13:41 PM PDT by telos
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To: Physicist, ThinkPlease, RadioAstronomer, purple haze, PatrickHenry, VadeRetro
cosmology bump
5 posted on 09/09/2001 1:13:49 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: A Vast RightWing Conspirator
The good new is, words have meanings.
6 posted on 09/09/2001 1:15:00 PM PDT by telos
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To: jpsb
bump.
7 posted on 09/09/2001 1:16:53 PM PDT by Justa
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To: StriperSniper
This is just an outgrowth of supersymmetric string theory. It's not that big of a deal.
8 posted on 09/09/2001 1:18:27 PM PDT by jimkress
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To: telos
I'm working on it. When I'm rerady to publish my research we'll make some waves--or mabe some new particles..
9 posted on 09/09/2001 1:29:02 PM PDT by RLK
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To: jimkress
True. But,...

"It is becoming increasingly likely that the rules we had thought were fundamental through time and space are actually just bylaws for our bit of it," said Rees, whose new book, Our Cosmic Habitat, is published next month. "Creation is emerging as even stranger than we thought."

Is this significant?

10 posted on 09/09/2001 1:35:20 PM PDT by telos
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To: RLK
Make some snarks, er, I mean sparks.
11 posted on 09/09/2001 1:39:44 PM PDT by telos
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To: telos
Actually, my real love is physical science and engineering. I got into political and economic analysis because I was drifted. Last winter and spring I built a laser-driven interferometer that rivals anything at MIT. I've made some interesting observations. This farr I will begin a redesign and some measurements.
12 posted on 09/09/2001 1:44:50 PM PDT by RLK
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To: telos
No problem.

To make formating easier, use 'view partial source', you can get it HERE. It makes formating a breeze, just highlight, right-click om VPS, then highlight and copy. The HTML is already there for you.

13 posted on 09/09/2001 1:48:00 PM PDT by StriperSniper
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To: StriperSniper
Thanks, again; simple dl accomplished.
14 posted on 09/09/2001 2:02:48 PM PDT by telos
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To: RLK
"I built a laser-driven interferometer that rivals anything at MIT."

Do you think space based is necessary?

Why should we measure the Universe?

Is there a practical application to micro-optics?

15 posted on 09/09/2001 2:18:30 PM PDT by telos
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To: telos
For some reason I distrust cosmologists. Maybe because Al Gore worships the so-called cosmologist Thomas Berry. Take a look at this review of The Universe Story
16 posted on 09/09/2001 2:19:08 PM PDT by KayEyeDoubleDee
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To: StriperSniper
Thanks for the tip, Striper! dh
17 posted on 09/09/2001 2:32:00 PM PDT by dynamitehack
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
Cosmologists like everyone else are both good and bad.
I would call it the pursuit of elegance.
imo, Religion must deal with these issues and vice verse.
18 posted on 09/09/2001 2:35:21 PM PDT by telos
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To: PatrickHenry
At the conference Hawking dismissed the idea of a series of big bangs on the grounds that it extended into the infinite past and so could never have a beginning.

PH, I know that this isn't what you wanted to hear.

From Hawking's POV, it seems he feels both an temporally infinite Universe (or infinite repeating Universe) and a temporally infinite Deity suffer the same deficiency. Essentially, "it/he was always there" is just a philosophical sleight of hand to avoid the messy problem of origins.

This doesn't bode well for the turtles, either.

19 posted on 09/09/2001 2:59:56 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: A Vast RightWing Conspirator
"Einstein's belief that the speed of light must always be the same - 186,000 miles a second in a vacuum."

Einstein was basically stating his belief that light travels at 186,000 miles per second inside a light bulb, before crashing into the refrigerator!

20 posted on 09/09/2001 3:07:20 PM PDT by Hit & Run Poster (non-member since Quidam)
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To: KayEyeDoubleDee
I trust you don't think I agree with the manipulative Berry; I have faith the pursuit of truth will lead to God. At any rate, these scientific/religious/philosophic exercises move me toward faith. I am expecting no Heaven on earth.
21 posted on 09/09/2001 3:09:36 PM PDT by telos
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To: telos
I have faith the pursuit of truth will lead to God.

At which point we will tranq him, tag his ear and release him back into the wild
to monitor his migration and mating habits.

22 posted on 09/09/2001 3:16:08 PM PDT by Storm Orphan
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To: dynamitehack,telos
Just passing along what I learned from another FReeper (I forgot who).

(This place is an info gold mine!)

23 posted on 09/09/2001 3:19:02 PM PDT by StriperSniper
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To: longshadow
At the conference Hawking dismissed the idea of a series of big bangs on the grounds that it extended into the infinite past and so could never have a beginning.
PH, I know that this isn't what you wanted to hear.

They have no evidence. I'm still in the game.

24 posted on 09/09/2001 3:42:26 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: Storm Orphan
How can we, if we are dead?
25 posted on 09/09/2001 3:42:35 PM PDT by telos
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To: telos
Just a wee joke.
26 posted on 09/09/2001 3:44:08 PM PDT by Storm Orphan
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To: longshadow
Among the ideas facing revision is Einstein's belief that the speed of light must always be the same - 186,000 miles a second in a vacuum. There is growing evidence that light moved much faster during the early stages of our universe.
This doesn't bother me. In the very early universe, light could have moved faster. That's virtually implied by cosmological inflation. As long as no causality violations are involved, I see no problems. Now, of course, there are definite problems if we start traveling or communicating faster than light. But initially, photons moving out to the horizon faster than c, that's no big deal, theoretically. Or am I missing something?
27 posted on 09/09/2001 3:47:57 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: StriperSniper
Close those tags.
28 posted on 09/09/2001 3:49:33 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: PatrickHenry
Ooops! My bad, thank you.
Gotta look at results, not just the preview.
Will repeat 99 more times offline.
29 posted on 09/09/2001 4:03:15 PM PDT by StriperSniper
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To: Storm Orphan
Oh, I know; me, too;)
30 posted on 09/09/2001 4:15:12 PM PDT by telos
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To: PatrickHenry
But initially, photons moving out to the horizon faster than c, that's no big deal, theoretically. Or am I missing something?

I believe it does pose a problem, in that our method of "divining" the properties of the Big Bang is by projecting backwards in time the currently expanding Universe and applying the Theory General Relativity to see what the conditions must have been in earlier stages of the Universe's evolution. It seems to me that one cannot hold the belief that General Relativity is valid all the way back to the BB AND concurrently believe that at some earlier time in the history of the Universe light traveled at a speed >c, as the constancy of the speed of light is an assumption which underlies Special Relativity, which is nothing more than General Relativity in the absence gravity.

In other words, it seems to me that this would constitute asserting that Relativity was both true and NOT true at some point in the history of the Universe. This seems untenable, but perhaps there's more to the story that I don't understand.

31 posted on 09/09/2001 5:04:28 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: longshadow
It seems to me that one cannot hold the belief that General Relativity is valid all the way back to the BB AND concurrently believe that at some earlier time in the history of the Universe light traveled at a speed >c, as the constancy of the speed of light is an assumption which underlies Special Relativity, which is nothing more than General Relativity in the absence gravity.

I was making a one-time only exception during the brief period of cosmological inflation. I'm still reading Guth, so I'm fuzzy on this, but I thought that ftl expansion of everything is implied at that time.

32 posted on 09/09/2001 5:39:41 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: PatrickHenry
The universe that God created is both awe-inspiring and unexplainable.
33 posted on 09/09/2001 5:55:38 PM PDT by Ciexyz
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To: PatrickHenry, Physicist
I was making a one-time only exception during the brief period of cosmological inflation. I'm still reading Guth, so I'm fuzzy on this, but I thought that ftl expansion of everything is implied at that time.

You have me at a disadvantage, in that I have NOT read Guth at all. Notwithstanding that, I think I see the problem.

The "inflation" does proceed FTL. It is an inflation of space itself, and thus no matter (AFAIK) is being shunted around at FTL speeds, and no information is transferred FTL; hence, no violation of the Theory of Relativity.

If Guth says otherwise, I'll defer to his wisdom on the subject, but that's what I think is going on. Neither light (nor matter) is travelling FTL during the inflation, but the fabric of space does..... no violation; no harm.

I similarly defer to "Physicist" if he has a correction to my remarks.

34 posted on 09/09/2001 6:01:38 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: longshadow
No one needs to worry about the turtles. No temporally infinite universe is going to stop them from stacking all of the way down.
35 posted on 09/09/2001 6:09:51 PM PDT by Romestamo
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To: Romestamo
. . . temporally infinite universe . . .

I trust "temporally infinite" was a typo. Surely you meant "temporarily infinite."

</silly mode> (Don't shoot!)

36 posted on 09/09/2001 6:34:30 PM PDT by VadeRetro
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To: longshadow
The "inflation" does proceed FTL. It is an inflation of space itself , and thus no matter (AFAIK) is being shunted around at FTL speeds, and no information is transferred FTL; hence, no violation of the Theory of Relativity.

I too defer to Physicist. But I think that the inflationary expansion of space -- you're correct in that -- does involve moving those photons, which are in space. Perhaps this is a minor quibble to prevent Enstein from spinning in his grave. And as I tried to say before, this doesn't involve transferring information FTL, because it's strictly one-way, and no one is "out there" to receive this information. Thus no causality violations. If causality is preserved, I can sleep easy.

37 posted on 09/09/2001 6:36:17 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: All
The universe is not expanding, contrary to popular myth. It is a closed system in which things die. If the universe were ever expanding--creating itself out of nothing--there would be no laws, no physics, and nothing to guage anything by. See Exodus 28-40 for the dimension of the pyramid shaped universe (it may be a cone, but most likely a pyramid shape).
38 posted on 09/09/2001 6:42:34 PM PDT by bryan1276
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To: StriperSniper
I don't believe E=MC^2. How do you measure the output?Please tell the committee. thanks. parsy.
39 posted on 09/09/2001 6:48:52 PM PDT by parsifal
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To: telos
Why should we measure the Universe?

Got something better to do with your time? Like count Bonds HRs? Or is that measuring the universe as well?

40 posted on 09/09/2001 6:49:23 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: PatrickHenry
the inflationary expansion of space -- you're correct in that -- does involve moving those photons, which are in space

Did photons appear during or before the inflationary period? If they did appear, could they go anywhere without being absorbed by some kind of intergalactic gas [before the stars and galaxies appeared]?

41 posted on 09/09/2001 6:57:50 PM PDT by RightWhale
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To: PatrickHenry, longshadow
I too defer to Physicist.

God's honest truth? I can't help you here. While I understand Guth's contention that inflation proceeds faster than light, causing different portions of the universe to lose causal contact with each other, it is not exactly clear to me why it doesn't run afoul of special relativity. I think I can regurgitate the causality argument that permits it, but the math has eluded me.

Here's another misunderstanding I have about inflation. It's rather technical and I hesitate to mention it here, but I can't resist the opportunity to drop names, because I actually asked this question to a panel consisting of Guth, Michael Turner, Paul Steinhardt and Burt Ovrut, the giants of inflationary cosmology. Other cosmology giants such as Max Tegmark and Miriam Cvetic were there to speak up if they misspoke. (I was even sitting next to Alan Guth's mom at the time; although I didn't expect her to contribute to the discussion, some mojo might have rubbed off.)

We know that the total energy of the universe is zero. The problem is that mass, as well as energy, is conserved. (Suppose, for example, I have a pi0 of 135 MeV that decays into two photons of 67.5 MeV. The photons are massless by themselves, but together they still represent an invariant mass of 135 MeV.) But while there is negative energy (gravitational fields) there is no such thing as negative mass. I can't meaningfully discuss "the mass of the universe" as a concept, but I can state with confidence that there exists at least 100 kilograms of mass in the universe, because that is my mass. So since the universe started out with less than the amount of energy this represents, where did all my mass come from?

The answer was that it comes directly from the collapse of the false vacuum, and that mass conservation itself is only an effective global symmetry anyway. That's probably the correct answer, but again, the math eludes me.

42 posted on 09/09/2001 7:00:25 PM PDT by Physicist (sterner@sterner.hep.upenn.edu)
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To: RightWhale
Did photons appear during or before the inflationary period?

Good question. Photons per se didn't appear until the breaking of the electroweak symmetry, which was right about at the end of the inflationary epoch. But still there were some sorts of massless gauge bosons flitting around the universe all through inflation, that can serve as conceptual stand-ins for the photons we see nowadays (but that didn't technically exist back then).

43 posted on 09/09/2001 7:06:51 PM PDT by Physicist (sterner@stenrer.hep.upenn.edu)
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To: bryan1276
If the universe were ever expanding--creating itself out of nothing--there would be no laws, no physics, and nothing to guage anything by.

So you're saying that God couldn't have made it that way if he wanted to. OK, I believe that you believe it.

44 posted on 09/09/2001 7:08:41 PM PDT by Physicist (sterner@sterner.hep.upenn.edu)
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To: RLK
Now if we can get a practical 'anti-gravity' process up and running, I already have a dozen uses for it....

Like a space plateform that rises from earth's surface, using some of horizontal propulsion to achieve orbit. Or an anti-gravity sled that can carry huge amounts of spoil from an excavation site to a dump site. Or overcoming limitations of vertical construction. In fact, there probably many, mnay more uses for such an application than I could even think of.


Get busy, young Einstein. The world needs you.

45 posted on 09/09/2001 7:14:39 PM PDT by alloysteel
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To: Physicist, PatrickHenry, ThinkPlease, RadioAstronomer
God's honest truth? I can't help you here.

Wow.

Congratulations PH, looks like you managed to "stump the band!"

Anybody know what the prize is for getting "Physicist" to cry "Uncle!"? An fun-filled one week, all-expense paid vacation with medved and G3K?

All kidding aside, thanks for sharing your uncertainty on this topic; I was merely regurgitating what I thought I had read previously. And I certainly haven't even looked at the math behind it.

Perhaps one of our other resident cosmo-nerds can shed some light (no pun intended) on this topic.

46 posted on 09/09/2001 7:21:40 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: Physicist
The answer was that it comes directly from the collapse of the false vacuum, and that mass conservation itself is only an effective global symmetry anyway. That's probably the correct answer, but again, the math eludes me.

I'm sure it's no comfort, but the math eludes me too. And all that Higgs-field stuff which starts the whole inflationary scenario going. But I shall persever in my reading. At this point, I gather that inflation solves a whole bunch of problems (monopoles, smoothness, etc, which I never knew were problems) but it still has a gerry-rigged feel to it. For what that's worth.

47 posted on 09/09/2001 7:21:46 PM PDT by PatrickHenry
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To: RightWhale
I havent measured it, no need to since you're told how big it is by God.
48 posted on 09/09/2001 7:26:45 PM PDT by bryan1276
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To: Physicist
The answer was that it comes directly from the collapse of the false vacuum, and that mass conservation itself is only an effective global symmetry anyway.

I'm just speculating now, so bear with me. Is it possible that something about the inflationary scenario leads to the equivalent of a "temporary suspension" of the law of Conservation of Matter, which resumes it usual role and authority once the inflation phase is complete?

In the alternative, are you saying that the matter formed in the inflationary phase does NOT violate the C of M?

49 posted on 09/09/2001 7:27:02 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: Physicist
God couldve made it anyway he wanted to, but since He told you how he made it and how big it is, no need to speculate ;)
50 posted on 09/09/2001 7:28:39 PM PDT by bryan1276
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