A Journal for Western Man

 

 

 

 

Reading A Rational Cosmology

Leonid Fainberg

Issue LXXVII- November 11, 2006

 

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A Rational Cosmology

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Statement of Policy

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Dear Mr. Stolyarov,

It was a sheer pleasure to read your book, A Rational Cosmology. I feel like a traveler who was struggling to walk through a nightmarish forest of contemporary cosmology with its distorted Riemann geometry, wrapped-around-itself 17-dimensional space which is full of incomprehensive superstrings and collapsing wave-functions with terrible cries of dying Schrödinger’s cat in its background. Suddenly I’ve reached the clearing of your book, which presents a different type of Universe, a Universe in which time and space are clearly defined, which is free of endless contradiction, which is not going to die a cruel thermodynamic death or  collapse upon itself or  blast itself in the crazy fit called The Big  Bang. In other words, you present the Universe as a comprehensible, non-contradictory place which the human mind can study and understand, which Man can rightfully call his Home. For this I’d like to thank you. Your book also represents a great intellectual challenge; it is thought-provoking on a large scale, and this is also part of the pleasure. I’d like to share a few of my thoughts with you and with other TRA readers on the following issues underlined in the text:

1. Universe and Existence

You are using concepts of Universe and Existence interchangeably. However, these two concepts have a slightly different meaning; otherwise why use two concepts if they mean the same thing? According to Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff,

“Existence is the widest of all concepts .It subsumes everything—every  entity, action, attribute, relationship (including every state of consciousness)—every thing which is, was, or will be. The concept does not specify that a physical world exists.”(Peikoff. Objectivism p. 5)

Basically this concept comes to describe the fundamental fact that something exists as opposed to nothing. According to your description, by “universe” we usually mean the physical world, the total sum of entities. Existence is the subject-matter of metaphysics.  Universe is the subject-matter of Cosmology and physics. The Crab Nebula is part of the universe (and existence) but it would be awkward and not very appropriate to describe philosophy or individual rights as part of the universe.  Your definition of the universe as a collective designation of all entities has another corollary – this concept describes only known entities. Existence, however, describes any entity, already discovered or waiting to be discovered. Existence, therefore, is a much broader concept than the universe. The implication of this conclusion is that one cannot always ascribe properties of existence to the universe. Existence exists, and this is an axiom. But the existence of the universe as a collection of known entities is not axiomatic. (To talk about the universe as a collection of unknown entities would be contradictory-one cannot discuss an unknown universe). We have no knowledge of the whole universe, not even a significant part of it. For example, we have only recently discovered that 95% of the universe’s mass is made up of dark matter. So in actual fact we only know about 5% of what constitutes the universe.

To know the universe means to know what entities constitute it and by which laws they interact. This is the realm of physics, which studies the known describable universe. Existence, however, includes everything which is, including the unknown. Therefore, universal laws which describe the interaction of entities in the universe are not always applicable to existence. For example, it would be inappropriate to say that existence is expanding (like the universe). The only thing one can say about the laws of existence is that they should fulfill the criteria of non-contradictory identification.

2. Why the Big Bang?

“What did God do before he created the universe?  He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions.” In 1929 Edwin Hubble made the observation that distant galaxies are moving rapidly from us; in other words, the universe is expanding. This discovery brought the question of the beginning of the universe, the famous Big Bang. Here we have very clear demonstration of the philosophical void of our times. As it had been demonstrated in the Rational Cosmology and by other objectivists, the notion of the beginning of the universe is contradiction in terms. For example, if time didn’t exist before Big Bang and nothing was changing, then how did this alleged explosion take place? Time is a measure of the change, and an explosion is a very rapid change of matter by definition.  Philosophically, the Big Bang theory belongs to the category of concepts known as Primary or First-Cause-like primary mover, intelligent design, God, etc. The First Cause allegedly causes everything of its kind or everything altogether. However, this concept has intrinsic contradiction. If the Primary Cause is the cause of everything, then it has to be the cause of itself, and that leads to infinite regression. If the Big Bang is the cause of Universe, then what would be the cause of Big Bang? Evidently, it has to be another Big Bang, and so on ad infinitum.  Since infinite regression is a logical fallacy, the concept of Big Bang is not valid.

So, why did such a contradictory theory become so widely acceptable? I think it’s because the Big Bang theory has strong religious connotations. The Catholic Church, for example, officially pronounced in 1951 that Big Bang theory is in accordance with the Bible. However, astrophysicists were looking for some other non-contradictory explanations of the phenomena of an expanding universe and background microwave radiation. For example, nothing in the laws of physics or philosophy contradicts an idea that total gravitational pull of the universal matter may cause compression of this matter and explosion like a gigantic Super Nova star. But such an event doesn’t have to be the beginning of the universe or its end. The other possibility is the steady state theory which postulates that as the galaxies moved away from each other, new galaxies were continually forming in the gaps in between.

And finally, I’d like to quote the author of Big Bang theory himself. Stephen Hawking says in his book, A Brief History of Time: “It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity” Singularity is a contradictory mathematical fiction which describes entity without identity and which is a prerequisite for a Big Bang.

Contemporary physicists are desperately trying to resolve the contradictions of their current theories by constructing more contradictory, incomprehensible theories of alternative universe, parallel universes, multidimensional universe, string and superstring theories, etc.

This is vicious circle which can be only broken off by clear understanding that Existence exists, but contradictions do not.

3. Light 

Humans have always been fascinated by light. The Bible story tells us that God created light even before he created its sources: the Sun, Moon, and stars. Our ancestors apparently believed that light is an independent entity. Isaac Newton is famous not only because he discovered laws of movement and gravity but also for his corpuscular theory of light. The task of the philosopher is not to describe the physical nature of light—this is the realm of physics—but rather its metaphysical nature. The Rational Cosmology defines light as a relationship. With all due respect I beg to disagree, and here are my arguments.

Light is easily observable by our perceptional organs. However, one doesn’t directly observe a relationship like space or friendship—which are true relationships.

Light interacts with other entities—like the retina in our eyes, chlorophyll in plants, photoelectric elements, etc. It transfers energy and causes physical changes in these entities. A relationship doesn’t have such a quality.

Light possesses mass. That has been demonstrated experimentally by observing that light rays can be bent by the gravitational pull of the nearby star.

One can actually move objects by illuminating them. It is possible to use light as a means of propulsion in empty space, provided that the light sail is big enough. The claim that light is massless is apparently based on assumption that a photon doesn’t have resting mass. But there is no such a thing in reality as a resting photon (which for that reason is also called a virtual photon). When light is absorbed by another entity, it transfers its energy and ceases to exist. One can actually calculate light’s mass by using Einstein’s equation. If E=MC2, then M=E/C2. To calculate light’s mass, one has to measure its energy and divide by C2, which is constant. The very fact that light possesses energy and mass excludes it from the genus of relationship. Light particles cannot be observed by the naked eye or by any microscope, since light itself is tool of observation: to observe means to perceive particles of light.

Light possess other qualities: intensity, color, and fixed rate of propagation in space (C). The attempt to relate all properties and qualities of light to its source cannot be validated. Light sources don’t interact with other entities and don’t possess qualities of light. It is light which interacts with our eyes, not its source.

Light, however, doesn’t possesses the quality of volume. That is because light cannot be contained. But there are many other entities like that. What, for example, would be the volume of the water in the river in which water is flowing constantly? We only can calculate water velocity in the river exactly as in the case of light. 

In conclusion, I infer that light possesses all properties and qualities of an entity and should be defined as such.

Light’s physical nature is corpuscular, but in certain conditions, light may exhibit wave-like features. There is no contradiction. Many entities possess different qualities in different conditions. The problem is that contemporary physicists have created from this simple fact of nature such a philosophical mess that the conversation of Alice in Wonderland with the Mad Hatter looks likes a lecture on Aristotle’s logic by comparison. And that bring us to the sad but necessary topic of quantum mechanics.

4. Quantum Mechanics

“You believe in a dice-playing God and I in perfect laws in the world of things existing as real objects

 ~ Albert Einstein

In the beginning of 19th century, the universe as it had been described by Newton appeared to be a certain, predictable place. Some people such as Laplace even claimed that everything in the universe, including human behavior, is completely deterministic. The doctrine of scientific determinism remained the standard assumption of science until the early years of the 20th century.   

In 1926, Werner Heisenberg formulated his famous uncertainty principle, which postulated that it is impossible to determine the position and the velocity of a particle simultaneously. This approach led Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and Dirac to reformulate mechanics into a new theory called quantum mechanics. In this theory, particles no longer had separate, well-defined positions and velocities. Instead, they had a quantum state, which is combination of position and velocity.

The uncertainty principle also stipulates that it’s impossible to know the physical nature of particles: they are existing not as particles and not even as waves, but as something called a wave-function, an indefinable entity which becomes a particle or wave only in the presence of an observer. To demonstrate what all this actually means, I’d like to describe Schrödinger’s thought experiment. Suppose we have radioactive stuff with probability of decay of 50% per hour. Suppose we have put this stuff into a closed chamber, in which we also put a detector which responds to radioactive emission by releasing a poison gas. Suppose we also put a cat into this chamber. After one hour, we cannot know if this cat is dead or alive. We can only say that each probability is equal to 50%. Schrödinger’s claim is that this cat is actually neither dead, nor is he alive, but something in between—like a wave-function. Only by looking inside this chamber, we actually make the animal alive or dead.

For the first time in the history of modern science, physicists have explicitly proclaimed that:

  1. Entities can exist without identities.
  2. An entity’s nature is unknowable in principle.
  3. Existence depends on the observer, which means primacy of consciousness.
  4. There is no such thing as cause-effect connection.

The obvious question that one should ask is: what caused rational, objective science of the 19th century to become medieval subjective idealist superstition in the 20th century? The answer is: the philosophies of pragmatism and positivism which became dominant in the beginning of the 20th century and still dominate our realm of thought today.

Pragmatism teaches us that there are no Absolutes, no certainty, and every thing can be just what we want it to be.

Positivism discards metaphysics altogether and teaches us to function on the preconceptual level. As a result, contemporary scientists claim that existence is everything which fits their equations. They are unable to grasp the difference between the epistemological problem of inability to know if an entity exists and the metaphysical one of an entity’s existence.

In spite of all paradoxes and contradictions, quantum mechanics equations are working. This is a classical example of how one can be right for the wrong reason.

Recently, American physicist Lewis E. Little has published The Theory of Elementary Waves, which successfully resolves quantum mechanics contradictions.

5. The Theory of Relativity

Space has been defined in A Rational Cosmology as a relationship between two or more distinct entities. Space itself is not an entity and therefore cannot be the point of reference. This definition has an important corollary: contrary to Aristotle, there is no such a thing as absolute rest. In the hypothetical universe comprised of only one object, it would be impossible to determine if this object is moving or not. In the universe comprised of two objects, it would be impossible to determine which one of them is moving. The same principle applies to any number of objects. Every entity is resting or moving only relatively to another entity. Therefore, velocities of moving objects are relative to the object of reference, which can be voluntarily chosen.

Now the problem is that the speed of propagation of light is always constant in a vacuum, regardless of the point of reference. This fact has been confirmed by the famous Michelson and Morley experiment. They compared the speed of light in the direction of the Earth’s motion with that at right angles to the earth’s motion and found that both measurements were exactly the same. The Theory of Relativity resolves this contradiction by introducing the concept of relative time. The fundamental postulate of this theory is that the laws of science should be the same for all freely moving observers, no matter what their speed. This postulate is in full accordance with the Law of Identity. However, the notion about the relativity of time is a misnomer. Time is not an entity and cannot be relative (relative to what?). Time is a man-made tool of measure of the different processes. We use one process as a point of reference or standard to measure another process. When I say “I’m fifty years old,” I simply mean that since my birth the Earth has rotated around the Sun fifty times. This statement doesn’t say anything about the rate of my aging. What is relative is the rate of aging. We know from simple observation that the rate of the same process can be different in different circumstances. For example, iron will rust quickly in a damp environment and slowly in a dry environment, meaning that during the same period of time, a damp sample of iron will have more rust than the dry one. That doesn’t mean dampness shortened time of rusting and dryness dilated it. The same thing is happening to the object which has velocity near C: all processes in this object grow slower.

The greatest contribution of Einstein’s theory to the understanding of the universe is that energy and mass of entities are interconnected. The mathematical expression of this connection is the famous equation E=MC2.

This discovery has two consequences:

 1. An entity cannot be accelerated to reach C, since the accumulation of kinetic energy will increase its mass as measure of inertia. By approaching speed near C, the mass of the entity approaches infinity, and any further acceleration will require force which also has to reach infinity. Since infinity actually doesn’t exist, C cannot be reached.

2. An entity’s aging process depends on its velocity. The mathematical expression of this relationship is delta teta (rate of aging) = delta T (elapse of time) (1-V2/C2)/2. From this equation one can see that if V>C, then delta teta becomes negative. What does negative aging mean? A reverse of irreversible processes, a reverse of the cause-effect relation, eventually a refutation of the Law of Identity. To travel faster than C, we have to first overcome this physical and philosophical problem.

Leonid Fainberg is a contributor to The Rational Argumentator.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

Click here to return to TRA's Issue LXXVII Index.

Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's new comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, at http://www.geocities.com/rational_argumentator/rc.html.