Saturday, March 6, 2010

Strength of Gravity, Speed of Light

A direct link to the above video is at

I've talked many times about Gevin Giorbran, who asked me to take over the promotion of his masterful book Everything Forever: Learning to See Timelessness after his death. In a blog entry about time-reversal symmetry called Scrambled Eggs, I showed this graphic from Gevin's book:
This is the beautiful yet simple idea which Gevin proposed - that ultimately the reality we see around us is the result of two kinds of order pushing against one another. From within our entropy-driven arrow of time, we perceive the greatest grouping order to be the highly ordered "big bang" (or whatever phrase you prefer to use to describe the beginning of our universe), and we perceive our universe to be moving away from that beginning towards a highest possible entropy "ending" for our universe. What Gevin made clear is that this "ending" is really just another kind of natural balance, the greatest possible symmetry order state for our universe.

Understanding reality from the perspective of timelessness ties so beautifully into the digital physics "information equals reality" concept I keep returning to. It requires us to jump outside our limited "arrow of time" viewpoint and recognize that those two kinds or order, and all of the states that transition from the one kind of order to another, exist simultaneously.

Like water naturally finding its level, these two kinds of order are a part of nature. Like a scale with one 10 kilogram weight on one side and ten 1 kilogram weights on the other, these two kinds of order are really just two ways of describing the same thing, which is why "before" and "after" the existence of our universe is also really identical when you view this all from the perspective of timelessness.

Dynamic Tension
One thing pushes against another thing, and from that a third thing arises. This is also another way of thinking about constructive interference patterns and the holographic nature of our universe. Such ideas appeal because they speak to the scientific need to find nature's structures and show how the incredible complexity of our observed universe arises from relatively simple underlying structures and patterns. This also speaks to quantum mechanics - the idea that in the underlying quantum structures of reality, there can be one state, an opposite state, and a third in which both states exist simultaneously. Like yin and yang pushing against each other to create a holistic "one", this approach to understanding reality is as ancient as it is leading edge.

Where Does Gravity Come From?
Last time, in Holograms and Quanta, we looked at a new cosmology framework recently proposed by Dr. Erik Verlinde of the University of Amsterdam, which suggests that gravity is a property that naturally arises from our reality, rather than being a force which is transmitted. He likens gravity to the liquidity of water: there is no "liquidon" particle that transmits this quality of liquidity from one water molecule to another. In the same way, this would mean there is no "graviton" particle transmitting gravity throughout our universe - this theoretical particle would never be observed because it doesn't exist (we're running a poll question about that idea here at this blog right now, what do you think?).

In the New Scientist article about Dr. Verlinde's approach, it states that gravity arises from entropy, which might give the impression then that since the highest level of entropy is at the "ending" of our universe, gravity must come from the future! I would say that such a conclusion ignores the underlying timelessness that is the truer picture of our reality. I would like to propose an approach that relates to both Gevin's ideas and Dr. Verlinde's.

Gravity is the natural organizing principle where things tend to be grouped together. Dr. Verlinde's approach says that in a probabilistic universe, there is a higher likelihood of two large objects like a planet and its sun to be attracted to each other rather than repulsed.

What is Time?
"Time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once." This well-known phrase, attributed variously to Einstein, John Wheeler, and Woody Allen, makes us wonder a similar thing about space here - if gravity is a natural outcome of the probabilistic nature of our universe, then why isn't the most likely outcome that everything is gradually collapsing to a single point? There must be some other organizing pattern that is keeping everything apart. While dark energy is often used to explain what is causing the accelerated expansion of our universe, I'm sticking to my supposition that eventually both dark matter and dark energy will be shown to be caused by the extra-dimensional effects of gravity, coming from the other universes and the other organizing structures that are "outside" of our spacetime.

So what's the force that pushes against gravity? If gravity is drawing things together, what is pushing things apart, keeping them from collapsing into a single point? With this project, I'm proposing that it's the speed of light. In entries like How to Make a Universe and What's Around the Corner?, we've talked about how, in the multiverse landscape of all possible universes, we could move from one position to another and be moving through different values for these two constants. Selecting a different strength of gravity and a different speed of light would result in some other universe completely different from our own. Many of those would be unstable or short-lived or completely static, but in some the dynamic tension between those two forces would be balanced in a way to allow interesting patterns to emerge in the same way that our universe has.

In entries like You Are the Point and More Slices of Reality I've suggested the frame rate defined by the planck length for our universe could be thought of as being akin to a strobe light - when a strobe flashes at certain rates, it reveals interesting patterns in other repeating structures. Since the speed of light defines the size of the quanta --the granularity-- of our 4D spacetime, that would mean the planck length would be shorter if we were in a universe with a slower speed of light, and so on. Perhaps, then, it would be more accurate to say that "the speed of light is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once"? That's what I'm suggesting.

And, just as Dr. Verlinde suggests that gravity arises naturally, I am suggesting the same thing for the speed of light. Moving through the multiverse landscape would be moving through different values for these two fundamental organizing patterns, and everything else about our universe or any other, would arise from that selected position. How "sticky" and how "granular" are the resulting patterns going to be across all the dimensions as defined by a particular position within the multiverse landscape? Will they be balanced in a way that allows interesting things like a universe to emerge?

The Dynamics of Creation
So. One thing pushes against another thing, and out pops a third thing. When that third thing is consciousness, an observer such as you or I, we are back to the conclusion I reached in my book: that ultimately there are three organizing patterns interacting with each other, two of which are just "there" within timelessness, and a third which is actively engaged, through constructive interference, in the process of ongoing creation. This places each and every one of us within our own version of a cosmic dance that creates the beautiful universe that we are each observing right this very instant.

And if you're not enjoying the journey... why not?


Next: Poll 53 - One to the Power of Infinity

PS - These "three patterns interacting" we're talking about here tie in an interesting way to Karl Popper's Three Worlds. We're going to talk about Popperian Cosmology in a poll question we're looking at in about ten days about whether Imagining the Tenth Dimension can be compared to "lying to children".

1 comment:

Mkhan said...

The most real feel of time “the present” is infinitesimal. It cannot be measured. Measurement of time is mostly an afterthought. Time also has similarity to recording devices where “the present” resembles the sharp recording point like laser and past is comparable to the recorded material while future is the unrecorded portion. In this way past is just a memory. Similar thoughts were expressed by Mc Taggart when he described the similarity between written history and stories in their time characteristics suggesting that past is just like recorded material.

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