An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on March 30th, 2017, 9:12 am 

As no explosion (even the Big Bang) could create something infinite it has been necessary for science to limit its size - generally by saying that the 'fabric of space' is curved. As the 9 year results of the WMAP survey disproved this notion and said that there isn't a curvature of space, the potential is there for the Universe to be infinite... which gives us a problem in terms of origin.

If the Big Bang was an explosive blob within an infinite nothingness, would that nothingness count as 'something' (because it is an area that could be occupied/identified from our location) or should we limit existence to where physical matter exists?

Of course, physical existence could truly be infinite with the Big Bang just representing a small part of the overall activity. We cannot know, but an infinite universe would seem to rule out physical creation by anything other than an infinite potential or infinite source... and in our experience, nothing physical can ever be infinite because it is defined by its boundaries.

So a truly physical infinity must either be eternal or must emerge spontaneously on an infinite scale, yet the principle of strict cause & effect denies chance, spontaneity, or randomness.... which would suggest that it could only be eternal. And yet the latest evidence to challenge Big Bang/Big Crunch suggests that there is spontaneity or randomness - either because it spontaneously emerged, or randomness ended its eternal sequence.

Does spontaneity or randomness point to genuine change (new start points) rather than just the next step in an inevitable sequence - in which case does this leave open the possibility of an origin of existence?

New theories of existence have sought to by-pass the exploding singularity notion to avoid such problems but the only ones that work seem reliant on the presence of additional dimensions - for which there is no evidence. Based on the evidence therefore, do we have to believe in the potential for spontaneity or randomness, and therefore the potential of an origin?
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby mitchellmckain on March 31st, 2017, 2:48 pm 

scientificphilosophe » March 30th, 2017, 8:12 am wrote:If the Big Bang was an explosive blob within an infinite nothingness

But it wasn't. This is a common misconception due to poor media representations. There was no blob separated from any empty space. All of space was uniformly filled with the same hot dense stuff. It is space itself which expanded and continues to expand and it is only because of this that the stuff began to cool. Thus the big bang DOES NOT require the universe to be finite. Space can still expand even if the universe is infinite. If it started out finite then it remains finite with a finite amount of matter and if it started out infinite it remains infinite with an infinite amount of matter. Which of these is the case remains an unanswered question. Any talk about the size of the universe refers to the visible horizon which is just how far we can see. This is not just due to the time it takes light to get to us but because at some distance the expansion can outpace the speed of light so we will never see beyond that point.

Ether way there are no actual boundaries and there iis no nothingness into which the universe expands. In a finite universe it is the space itself which is finite and it is only our habit of looking at space as limitless that sees expansion as an expansion into some kind of nothingness. There is nothing in logic or mathematics which actually requires such a thing.


scientificphilosophe » March 30th, 2017, 8:12 am wrote:If the Big Bang was an explosive blob within an infinite nothingness
So a truly physical infinity must either be eternal or must emerge spontaneously on an infinite scale, yet the principle of strict cause & effect denies chance, spontaneity, or randomness.... which would suggest that it could only be eternal. And yet the latest evidence to challenge Big Bang/Big Crunch suggests that there is spontaneity or randomness - either because it spontaneously emerged, or randomness ended its eternal sequence.

Incorrect. The one thing we do know is that the universe began 13.7 billion years ago, so it is definitely not eternal. If the universe is/was infinite then it simply began with an infinite sized singularity of energy density.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 4th, 2017, 10:33 am 

I have to disagree with you on several points.

Firstly, while I agree that the best estimate of Big Bang is dated to 13.77 billion years ago, it could either represent a pure start point (spontaneous creation) or has been more commonly interpreted by atheistic scientists as the latest in a series of Big Bangs (as part of eternal existence) - the Bang-Crunch theory.

If the exploding singularity idea was ever correct, the accelerating expansion of the universe has now broken any eternal pattern - and an end to any previously eternal cycle demands a spontaneous or external cause - however the principle of strict cause & effect denies the possibility of spontaneity or randomness.

Other theories based on hidden dimensions have therefore been advanced to get around the problem of a non-eternal sequence (which would make us dependent on luck to achieve our version of reality).

However that doesn't disprove the idea of spontaneity - it only suggests that the universal application of strict deterministic principles is questionable. However an expansion pattern does imply that an initial region where the explosion began was smaller and therefore not infinite.

A large but finite singularity can only ever be finite and not infinite.

A central question on the nature of existence is whether space has to be created before it is occupied. We can be pretty sure that the 'exploding' part of existence in which we find ourselves is larger than the bits we can see - however if this is indeed an exploding blob then what lies beyond? Nothingness or something? We have no way of knowing but we can't dismiss the possibility of nothingness - especially as space is now considered not to be curved - and therefore potentially infinite.

Logically, an infinite Universe cannot expand because, by definition, it must be everywhere. Some material within it may be expanding, (a bubble), but not the entirety.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby Braininvat on April 4th, 2017, 11:07 am 

Logically, an infinite Universe cannot expand because, by definition, it must be everywhere. Some material within it may be expanding, (a bubble), but not the entirety.


Maybe we should visit Hilbert's Hotel, to better examine this notion....

http://world.mathigon.org/Infinity

Before you are too certain of your logic, SP, it may help to read this.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 10th, 2017, 11:27 am 

Clearly Hilbert doesn't understand infinity.
There is no such thing as infinity plus one.
The scenarios suggesting that an infinite hotel is full is in itself nonsense if an additional guest can arrive.

Again - you haven't addressed the majority of my points and are reliant on this inaccurate distraction.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby Braininvat on April 10th, 2017, 11:43 am 

I'm sorry that you don't see the relevance. You are picking highly technical and esoteric subjects that require considerable education before it's possible to form coherent opinions.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 10th, 2017, 12:44 pm 

Infinity is everything or everywhere. There can only be less than infinity not more.

Abiogenesis is a separate chat.
Please stop avoiding the issue... especially when you have no knowledge of whether I have read the articles or not.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby someguy1 on April 10th, 2017, 6:04 pm 

Braininvat » April 10th, 2017, 9:43 am wrote:... you could say, with a straight face, that Hilbert doesn't understand infinity.


Completely off topic, it turns out that it's barely possible to confirm that Hilbert ever told the story of Hilbert's hotel. He never wrote about it and evidently only mentioned it once. It was either repeated or invented by George Gamow in his pop-math book, One, Two, Three, Infinity. A historian of science tracked down the fact that Hilbert mentioned the story in a public lecture in 1923, never mentioned it again, and neither did anyone else till Gamow's book twenty years later.

The Hilbert hotel story is a lot like rubber sheet and bowling ball gravity. It's just a nontechnical popularization of an idea, not the idea itself.

Galileo noted that we can put the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, ... into one-to-one correspondence with the perfect squares 1, 4, 9, ... but never went further with the idea. Today it's taken as one of the definitions of infinite sets that they can be put into bijection with a proper subject of themselves.

There are of course no infinite hotels, infinite supplies of guests, etc. It often confuses the issue to talk about Hilbert's hotel as if it's a mathematical argument; when in fact it's no more so than a bowling ball deforming a rubber sheet is an argument in relativistic gravity. Both stories are just popularizations for the tourists and are not to be taken literally.

If it were me, I'd abolish the story of Hilbert's hotel in favor of more precise mathematical arguments. The historical record is clear that Hilbert never took the story seriously, though he of course was extremely well versed in the mathematics of infinity.

OP, if I have the infinite set 1, 2, 3, 4, ... and I add 0 so the set, haven't I just added to infinity?
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 11th, 2017, 12:34 am 

OP, if I have the infinite set 1, 2, 3, 4, ... and I add 0 so the set, haven't I just added to infinity?


Perhaps we should take this onto another thread in the Mathematics section.
However as an immediate response....

If something is infinite it extends without end in all possible directions.
Whatever number you select, with however many zeros attached to it, it will represent a tiny proportion of the whole - which extends everywhere without end. A sub-set.
If it is infinite you can't add to it. There can only be infinity or less.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby someguy1 on April 11th, 2017, 12:44 am 

scientificphilosophe » April 10th, 2017, 10:34 pm wrote:
Perhaps we should take this onto another thread in the Mathematics section.


I'm always up for a good chat about infinity :-)

scientificphilosophe » April 10th, 2017, 10:34 pm wrote:If something is infinite it extends without end in all possible directions.


What about the unit interval on the real line? That's the set of real numbers between 0 and 1. It contains infinitely many points, yet it's bounded. It has a length of 1 and you could draw a finite circle around it and enclose all its points.

scientificphilosophe » April 10th, 2017, 10:34 pm wrote:If it is infinite you can't add to it. There can only be infinity or less.


But you didn't answer my question. Isn't 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ... an infinite set? And couldn't I add to it by tossing in 0? And then add to that by tossing in all the negative numbers? Then the rationals? Then the reals? (Something magic happens when we toss in the reals. The cardinality gets bigger). The the complex numbers? The quaternions?

You can always add more stuff to an infinite set. What do you say?
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 11th, 2017, 1:13 am 

By saying that there are an infinite set of sub-divisions between 0 and 1 you are admitting that it is unlimited/unbounded in some 'directions'.

Your example of 123 etc is limited because it does not include zeros or negatives.
With those things the sequence is unlimited and infinite.
Again - any number you think of will be a sub-set.

Please - continue this discussion in the 'Clarifying Infinity' thread within Mathematics.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby mitchellmckain on April 11th, 2017, 2:20 am 

scientificphilosophe » April 10th, 2017, 11:44 am wrote:Infinity is everything or everywhere. There can only be less than infinity not more.


Incorrect. Cantor showed that there were more than one kind of infinity. There are higher orders of infinity greater than others.

First there is countable infinity covered by counting in sequence and never stopping (or you can set up a 1-1 correspondence to this). Thus it corresponds to the natural numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4,...

There there is uncountable infinity such as the number of real numbers which can be shown is impossible to set up a 1-1 correspondence with the natural numbers. This has been shown to be entirely do to the inclusion of irrational numbers because it has been shown that the rational numbers (those expressible as a fraction) can be set in 1-1 correspondence with the natural numbers.

It is also believed that there is at least one higher order of infinity corresponding to the number of possible functions on the real line, but I don't know if this has been established without doubt. However, the first two orders of infinity has been accepted as factual. I think Cantor claimed that there was a procedure to get a higher order infinity by constructing what he called a power set from a given order of infinity. And thus it was his thinking that there is no end to the higher orders of infinity. But this is an unproven hypothesis.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 11th, 2017, 7:42 am 

Hi mitchellmckain.

An interesting post, thank you, but can we continue this on the other thread?

I translate 'more than one kind of infinity' to a more specific 'infinity in a direction'.
Personally I don't see how adding other sets of infinity diminishes or adds to the original infinity.

While infinities apply in certain directions, the sets can be limited in other directions.
The only credible 'add-to' is in directions which are limited.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby Braininvat on April 11th, 2017, 10:11 am 

The math is relevant to this thread's topic. Please allow mods to do their job and determine optimal thread locations. Again, I am sorry you are finding some points about the nature of infinity not relevant, but it's not really anyone's job (but yours) to teach you mathematics. Please don't take this as a personal affront or insult, but rather an advisement to continue your learning.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 13th, 2017, 9:44 am 

Braininvat » April 11th, 2017, 3:11 pm
The math is relevant to this thread's topic. Please allow mods to do their job and determine optimal thread locations. Again, I am sorry you are finding some points about the nature of infinity not relevant, but it's not really anyone's job (but yours) to teach you mathematics. Please don't take this as a personal affront or insult, but rather an advisement to continue your learning.


Braininvat
You have made many unfounded assertions that I lack knowledge when you have found out later that I know much more than you give me credit for.
Please stop making such comments.
I am happy to discover new things, but none of my points are made from ignorance.

If you have a point to make, make it, don't try to avoid the debate by slinging mud.

The reason why I started a separate thread is that the characteristics of infinity are going off the original point I was making... which was that an infinite reality couldn't be built up from a start point - especially on a limited timeframe. An infinite reality would need to be eternal.

All true start points/change points require spontaneity, randomness, or an external influence. Spontaneity and randomness are denied by causality. External influences would mean external to the physical environment in this instance.

Personally I do think that there are many indicators which point to the potential reality of spontaneity or randomness (the opposites of cause & effect). If these cannot be a feature of physical matter because it is entirely governed by causality, then if such capabilities are real they must come from another type of stuff.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby BurtJordaan on April 13th, 2017, 11:37 am 

scientificphilosophe » 30 Mar 2017, 15:12 wrote:Logically, an infinite Universe cannot expand because, by definition, it must be everywhere. Some material within it may be expanding, (a bubble), but not the entirety.

Well, the best interpretation of what the WMAP and Planck missions found is a flat, homogeneous, (i.e. logically infinite), but expanding space (i.e. negatively curved spactime). "Adding to" an infinite spacetime "from the inside" is no problem, I think.

Sure, the said missions could only "see" as far as the CMB radiation, but up to that distance there is no indication of any curvature. However, the measurements are not accurate enough to rule out a slightly positively curved space, meaning spatially finite, just very much larger than our observable universe.

The BB itself is merely a backward extrapolation and theorists cannot really say what has happened there. There are many variants of inflation and also 'bounce' theories that would have given today's observable universe. There are also modern variants that do not require a bounce in order to be eternal and our current accelerated expansion is quite compatible with them. In short, it means that large regions of space can become so devoid of matter-energy that it has extremely low entropy and quantum processes may start a new BB there, in multiple places, an infinite number of times...

In the latter case, "our BB" might actually have happened inside an infinite existing spacetime, contrary to popular scientific discourse. All of these theories still have consistency problems to solve, like how gravity enters the fray (we still do not understand gravity at the quantum scales). But, nice to philosophy a little without having to be definitive. ;)
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby vivian maxine on April 13th, 2017, 12:17 pm 

And didn't we have a small conversation about this once before when I questioned what goes on in those ever-expanding spaces? I had dreamed up quite a fancy about this but, of course, there was nothing scientific about what I imagined. Thank you, Burt_Jordaan, for much better thinking on the idea - to be expected, of course.

Sorry, I meant to quote this from Burt:

"Adding to" an infinite spacetime "from the inside" is no problem, I think.

"The BB itself is merely a backward extrapolation and theorists cannot really say what has happened there. There are many variants of inflation and also 'bounce' theories that would have given today's observable universe. There are also modern variants that do not require a bounce in order to be eternal and our current accelerated expansion is quite compatible with them. In short, it means that large regions of space can become so devoid of matter-energy that it has extremely low entropy and quantum processes may start a new BB there, in multiple places, an infinite number of times..."
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby BurtJordaan on April 13th, 2017, 1:33 pm 

The problem with "an infinite number of times" is then anything is possible and "our BB" is bound to have happened. No scientific theory required for how and why it happened. But, scientists hope that some combination of quantum physics and general relativity will eventually provide some compelling scientific reason why "our BB" was more likely than the rest.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby mitchellmckain on April 13th, 2017, 1:47 pm 

In other words, hard science stops with the BB. Any speculation about what happened before that might as well talk about God for the BB marks the end of means by which we have to measure anything. I am all for the freedom of believing whatever you want about what went before, though the bouncing universe isn't as popular among scientists as it once was since the evidence is pointing to an open rather than closed universe. I like Hawking's idea in "Brief History of Time" that it all began with a quantum event. Though many others like the idea of a higher dimensional reality of which the the measurable universe is only a small part and created by some kind of collision or something.
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 20th, 2017, 5:42 pm 

BurtJordaan » April 13th, 2017, 4:37 pm
"Adding to" an infinite spacetime "from the inside" is no problem, I think.


Hi BurtJordan. Thanks for your contribution.

The point I was originally trying to make relates to the question of infinity vs. true start points.

The issues of origin highlight the need for either an eternal process or a start point, but as mentioned before a true start point is denied by causality/determinism. The end to a previously eternal process is also denied by causality because it requires a spontaneous event to achieve this, if you are not prepared to consider things beyond our Universe.

So I am not clear what you mean by 'Adding to'. You can't add to the infinity of space from within - because it is already here. You can presumably only add to the material within it - which must either spontaneously appear out of an absence of anything, or be transferred from somewhere else.

Can you clarify?
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Re: An Infinite and Eternal Universe?

Postby scientificphilosophe on April 20th, 2017, 5:56 pm 

mitchellmckain » April 13th, 2017, 6:47 pm
In other words, hard science stops with the BB. Any speculation about what happened before that might as well talk about God for the BB marks the end of means by which we have to measure anything. I am all for the freedom of believing whatever you want about what went before, though the bouncing universe isn't as popular among scientists as it once was since the evidence is pointing to an open rather than closed universe. I like Hawking's idea in "Brief History of Time" that it all began with a quantum event. Though many others like the idea of a higher dimensional reality of which the the measurable universe is only a small part and created by some kind of collision or something.


Hi Mitchellmckain

I agree that you can only speculate about what may have existed before the Big Bang (if anything).
But in terms of looking at the evidence we have, there are a number of challenging factors in what we have discovered about the evolution of the Universe since that event.

We don't have to invoke God to make this interesting, and that probably wouldn't be helpful.

The Big Bang either marked a true spontaneous beginning or it was the next step in an eternal and inevitable process.

When we see that the acceleration in the expansion of the visible Universe supposedly began 5 - 6 billion years ago (just at the time of the formation of our solar system), there seems to have been a fundamental change which could only come from a spontaneous or external factor.

If people are not prepared to consider an external factor then are we accepting a break in causality/determinism?

On the Hawking point - I found it irritating that he speculates about a 'quantum event' without any notion of what that may represent. In his later books he also comes out squarely in favour of a spontaneous event... and again this must mean that he feels that the principles of causality/determinism must be broken.
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