Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Complete History and Future of the Universe (in 1,635 words)

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis, 1:1

Considering the fact that I consider myself to be an atheist leaning agnostic, it’s not often that I’ll quote the Bible. However, the above quote is relevant to my blog post this week. As you can probably guess, it is a quote which I have a very serious problem with. However, the problem I have with it may not be what you think it is...

Over the years I’ve given a lot of thought to the big questions about the Universe – such as how did it begin, how will it end, and is there anything else beyond it. It’s also a topic I’ve touched on in an earlier blog post. All of these thoughts have led to me developing a theory in my head to answer all of these questions, and it is this theory that I am going to share with you today.

However, I do so with one very important caveat. I am by no means an expert on this topic. I’m just an interested amateur who’s thought about it a lot. Therefore, what I write in this blog post may turn out to be completely wrong. And I accept that. In fact, if you happen to know of any evidence which disproves anything that I write below, then please do share that evidence with me. If there is something that I’m wrong about then I want to know about it.

Right then, so here goes. I subscribe to the Big Bang theory with regards to how our Universe began. That around 13.7 billion years ago all of the matter and energy in our Universe popped into existence. Shortly after the big bang protons and neutrons formed, they were joined by electrons to form atoms, and matter and antimatter annihilated each other, but there was just a little extra matter outnumbering antimatter, and that is what we see today. The Universe expanded, and continues to expand to this day.

The clouds of hydrogen atoms (with some helium and a little lithium) condensed to form the first stars, which formed heavier elements. New stars formed from what was left, and this is a process which has continued to this day.

Some of these heavier elements went on to form planets, and one day this little planet which became known as Earth formed, where life sprang up. This life evolved and developed until a race known as the human race appeared...

But they’re not especially important to this story. The Earth was formed around the Sun around 4-5 billion years ago. And in around 5 billion years the Sun will expand into a Red Giant. Whilst the Earth may or may not get destroyed, all life on it will become extinguished. Hopefully the human race will still be around, but living elsewhere by then.

That is the fate that will befall our Sun, but not all stars will end their life like this. The very biggest stars will collapse in on themselves, forming a black hole. Everything that falls inside a black hole is lost forever. Not even light can escape them.

Black hole’s themselves can vary in size. At the centre of most galaxies, including our own, are what are known as supermassive black holes.

And so the Universe spins on. Stars and planets are born and die. And maybe there are many planets out there with life on them, some of which may also be intelligent. But, as with the stars and the planets, nothing lasts forever, and the same is true of our Universe.

Entropy is forever at work. The Universe is slowly moving from an ordered to a disordered state. Occasionally, some order can be restored, such as the forming of a star or a planet. But it will not last forever. Entropy will always increase over time, and stars and planets will die.

As time moves on entropy will increase. Eventually, there’ll be nothing left that stars can form from. Energy will no longer be able to do useful work. Matter will break down, and even black holes will evaporate. Eventually, after trillions of years, in our Universe, there will be, literally, nothing.

Now, so far, so good. Everything that I’ve written above is broadly along the lines of what most scientists would subscribe to. I may have got some of the details wrong, and I have rushed through it all, but it’s broadly along the right lines. Now to add in to some of my personal views.

I have to admit that the personal views that I have come up with are not the result of solving some complicated set of equations based on the rules of physics, and are not the result of careful observations of the Universe. They have come about from a fundamental belief that I have about the Universe, and of Existence itself. I have forced my theory to fit this belief, which is a very unscientific way of doing things, and why I accept that I could be completely wrong. And I will admit to being wrong should I ever come across any evidence which disproves it.

In my earlier blog post I talked about the beginning of the Universe, and briefly touched on the idea of what, if anything, came before the Big Bang. And, above, I talked about the Universe ending. And so the Universe began, and it will end. But my fundamental belief is this:

I don’t like the idea of everything in Existence having an ending. I don’t like the idea that, in the far, far, distant future there will just be nothing. Nothing at all. No time, no space, no matter or energy. Just nothing.

Going to the other end of time, I don’t like the idea that before the Big Bang that was a similar state of affairs. I don’t like the idea that there was nothing, then there was a beginning, and then there was the Universe. All of this just feels Wrong to me.

And this is the major problem I have with the Bible quote at the start of this blog post. It’s not the bit about God that bothers me. It is the first three words: “In the beginning...” I don’t believe Existence has a beginning, nor does it have an end.

I accept that our Universe has a beginning and an end, but I don’t believe that is the whole picture. In my earlier blog post I also talked about the possibility of there being other Universes out there, Universes which we are unable to detect. Suppose there are other Universes out there, how do they all fit in to the big picture?

The theory borne from my personal views that I subscribe to goes back to black holes. There are other people out there that have a similar theory, and the theory is this: Inside black holes other Universes are formed. And, by implication, our own Universe therefore exists within a black hole in a parent Universe.

Each Universe has its own beginning and end, dictated by the life of its parent black hole. But time within a Universe runs differently than time in its parent Universe – it will run at a different pace. A year in a parent Universe could be, say, 10 years in the child Universe.

And so we have Universes born within other Universes. But where did all of this begin? How did the first Universe came about? I don’t believe there was a first Universe – remember, I don’t believe there was ever a beginning to Existence.

But how do I reconcile this belief? I’ll do my best to explain. Let’s call our Universe “Universe A”. Universe A has many black holes in it, each of which creates a Universe in its own right within it. Let’s call one of these Universes “Universe B”. Universe B will also have many black holes within it, each of which creates a Universe in its own right, one of which will be Universe C. And so the sequence continues – for how long, I don’t know. Eventually in this cycle there’ll be a Universe, which I’ll call “Universe Z”. This Universe will also have many black holes, each of which creates a Universe in its own right, one of which will be our Universe A.

And that is how I see the whole of Existence. It doesn’t have a beginning or an end. It is a cycle. The reality would be far more complicated than my simple explanation above, but the basic point is that there is no single point in the whole thing which you can call “the beginning”. It just “is”. It has always been and always will be, going round and round and round, at least to those inside it.

How big is this Existence? Well, I would simply say “huge”. There are billions of galaxies in our Universe, most with a supermassive black hole in the centre, and other smaller black holes within it. And if every one of these can give birth to a Universe within it that is as vast as our own, then that expands the size of Everything by a colossal amount. Plus, I couldn’t even speculate how many Universes there are in the cycle before we get back to our own. It is tens? Hundreds? Thousands? Millions? Billions? Trillions? I just don’t know. But there would certainly be a lot out there, within the whole of Existence...

Is there anywhere that all of this could be “seen”? Is there some plane of Existence, outside of all of the Universes, a timeless place, where all of this interconnectedness could be witnessed by some form of non-temporal consciousness? Possibly, yes.

But, if such a place existed, it would be the realm of God...

Next Week: A NaNoWriMo Carol

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