Wednesday, March 23, 2016

There's Nothing There - Part 20

We've talked about There. Let's talk about Where. And maybe, When.

Every now and then, someone will ask, so, where did Big Bang happen?, for example. Where's the center of the universe? Where's the starting point?

Back before Copernicus and Galileo and Bruno came along, we thought we had the answer. The earth is the center of the universe. The Church had it all figured out.

It was logical, the Church said. God loves us. He put us on the earth. He must love the earth. We are the relational center of the universe, created by God to be in relationship with him. So the earth must be the physical center of the universe. God rotates around us, so the universe must rotate around the earth.

Well. First, that's neither logical nor necessary. Whether or not you accept the premise that God loves us (and you may not), it does not begin to follow that the earth is the center of the universe. You love your loved ones (duh), but that does not make them the center of anything except perhaps as a constant drain on your finances.

So, at some cost and courage, Copernicus and Galileo and Bruno fixed all of that, and eventually, everyone got comfortable with the idea that the earth was not the center of the universe, even religious people. Nobody's theology in any of the world's major faiths includes Geocentrism as a plank in the platform.

Which is a fine example showing us that religion and religious
Any questions?
people can get past science and accept what seem to be challenges to the faith without losing that faith.

So then we got the Copernican Principle, which says that not only is the earth not the center of the universe, but the earth isn't special, humans aren't special, the universe itself isn't special, nothing at all anywhere is special. Everything is very very ordinary.

As it turns out, the Copernican Principle made the same mistake with science that Geocentrism did with religion. That is, it takes one truth (the earth is not the center of the universe) and then jumps off in an entirely illogical and unconnected direction to say that the earth therefore is not special.

That is, just because your loved ones are not the center of the universe doesn't make them unspecial.

So what the Church said was, humans are special, humans live on the earth, so the earth is the center of the universe.

Here's what science said: the earth is not the center of the universe, so humans aren't special.

What's bad theology going one direction is bad logic going the other direction. 

Whether or not humans are special has absolutely positively without a doubt 100% maybe even 1000% (yeah, that's stupid) nothing to do with whether or not the earth is or is not the center of anything.

Everybody (outside of religion) believed that since earth isn't the center, then humans aren't special, though, and still pretty much believes it.

Most scientists and atheists believe that humans aren't special. Neither are the earth, the solar system, the Milky Way, any of the other galaxies, or even the universe itself. Everything is just a big accident produced by the laws of nature, and they don't give a rat's patootie about you or the universe.

Birdbrains. All in a flutter.
See where bad logic gets you? All in a flutter.

But then Big Bang came along and changed the whole game anyway.

Because there was a starting point, it looks like the earth is very special after all.

Here's a headline from Scientific American magazine in February 2016:

Exoplanet Census Suggests Earth Is Special after All

A new tally proposes that roughly 700 quintillion terrestrial exoplanets are likely to exist across the observable universe—most vastly different from Earth.

Alien angst
Here's a short bit from the article: "...Max Tegmark from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ... thinks Earth is a colossal violation of the Copernican principle..."

For us, it's a fine-tuning thing. As we mentioned once or twice.

And, as it happens, the earth is the center of the universe.

Well, the center of its own universe.

Works like this.

Asking the questions, "Where did Big Bang happen? Where's the

center of the universe? If the universe is expanding, isn't it
expanding away from one point, a starting point?" comes from not really understanding Big Bang.

Big Bang was not just the starting point of everything in the universe - planets, stars, galaxies, all of that. It was the starting point of space and time.

Which means that it was the starting point of all the points in the universe.

Which means that all of the points in the universe were once all at the same place. They were all the same point.

Which means that every point in the universe is the point that the universe is expanding away from.

Every point is the starting point.

Every point is the center of the universe. Actually, the center of its own view of the universe, the parts that are visible from each point, which are different from each point.

So the earth is the center of its own universe. So are you, of course. So is your elbow. And the tip of your nose. And all of your loved ones. Duh.

So the first answer to the question Where? is that all of the Wheres are the center of the universe. It's a Big Bang, relativity thing. Unlike the picture below, everybody is in fact the center of the universe. All of our universes overlap quite a bit, of course.

Now, there's the Quantum Wheres, too.

As in, for photons or anything traveling at the SOL, everything is just like it was back at the Beginning, at the Singularity, when all of the points where all at the same place. One point. All of the points in the universe for a photon right now! are at the same point.

And all of the Time in the universe happens at the same Time. Everything happens at once. If you happen to be traveling at the SOL. So right now! is always right now!

Photons are never late for anything, and they never go to the wrong place. Male photons never have to ask for directions, and female photons can take as long as they want to get dressed. If that sounds sexist to you, then just switch them around. Still works.

So all the Wheres and all the Whens are just one Where and One When. Which sounds like Dr. Seuss on steroids.

And even if you're not traveling at the SOL, if you are a quantum particle, you can occupy multiple Wheres and multiple Whens. Particles can be and are in many places at the same time, and sometimes they can even be in many times at the same, uh, at the same, uh, well, OK, it's not at the same time. They can be in many times at the same place. But they can also be in many times in many places, and many places at the same time.

And there's even a Where and a When for you yourself. Well, actually, that's not true. You don't get your own personal Where or When.

Simple question, just for starters. Where are you? Like, right now?

Answer - your Where is relative to all the Wheres that the universe has to offer.

Any answer you give is in relation to somewhere else. And as we all know by now, "relation" is code for "interaction". So you only have a location as you interact with it.

In your room. Your car. Your office. The bathtub. A ski lift.

North America. Earth. The Solar System. The Milky Way. Um, Mars. 

Or Nevada. It's hard to tell.

And all of those Wheres are moving. So you are moving, too. Your Where used to be ... There ... but now it's ... Here. And Here is always moving, changing, interacting with lots of other Heres and Theres.

Consider. Let's say you are in empty space in a spacesuit, just hanging out.

Now. Where are you?

There's nothing around you. No planets, stars, galaxies. Nothing but blackness. And you.

So. Where are you?

If there's nothing else in space (Space-Time, to be more specific), then you have no location.

Now. Here comes some other guy in a spacesuit. Zip! Off he goes. Or she.

So. Who's moving?

You both are only moving relative to each other. If there's nobody there, then nobody's moving. No body. No motion.

Not only do you not have a location, you only have motion relative to other things. Even motion and location are results of interactions.

And since you can't tell how fast you are moving, or that you are moving at all, and since Space and Time change with speed, but only relative to the places you left behind, then they can't change. Whatever that means.

Bottom line at the end of the day in the final analysis when all is said and done, Where and When only exist because of interactions between things made of matter, with mass, and of course, photons.

We should probably talk about Schroedinger's Cat now. Since cats, like everything else, aren't actually There until ... 

You look at them. In a quantum sort of way.

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