Monday, October 9, 2006

All Strung Out

Theoretical physics has confirmed agreement between the predictions of General Relativity Theory and its correlation to the physical world to within a trillionth of a percent precision – a precision that cannot be written off to chance. On the macro-scale, where general relativity predominates, this makes nature quite predictable. It also offers implications, the most profound of which is the suggestion that the universe must have had its beginning in a “singularity” of infinite density where all matter, energy, space and time were condensed.

At the same time, Quantum Mechanics has proven to be an extremely fruitful scientific discipline for predicting and understanding the micro-level workings of our universe. At the quantum level, indeterminacy reigns. But the probabilities describing unpredictable events succeed in some way to end in a predictable array of outcomes. Quantum mechanics offers its own view of the origins of the universe that also includes issues regarding the singularity. General relativity and quantum mechanics do well at describing their separate realms but they do not seem to be compatible with one another.

For many years the search has been on for some way of quantifying and describing this micro-level/macro-level paradox. Science believes the answers lay in some kind of Grand Unified Theory (GUT) that is capable of offering an integrated view for how the universe operates in its current fashion, and to understand the singularity from which it appears the entire universe emanated. The most promising version of a GUT, which first emerged in the late '70s, has been Superstring Theory, a theory that explains all the known forces and observed particles as having been produced by vibrations in tiny “loops of energy” called strings.

The theory is esoteric but the most comprehensive form of it requires the universe to have originated in ten dimensions, six of which quickly “rolled up” into a compact, invisible coil that exists everywhere within the four observable dimensions. Physicist Hugh Ross summarizes Superstring Theory as follows:
"It is the only theory that self-consistently explains all the known
properties of the known fundamental particles (now numbering 58), all the
properties and principles of quantum mechanics, all the properties and
principles of both special and general relativity, the operation of all four
forces of physics, and all the known details of the creation event."
Sounds like a winner ... or at least it did. Recently, doubters (and there have always been some) have become more vocal about the fact that they believe Supersrting Theory may be unraveling. Critics claim that Supersting Theory has become "a Rube Goldberg contraption" in its most recent, complex iterations. Interestingly, the reason for their skepticism lies in the fact that, to reconcile the complex implications of the theory, naturalistic scientists have been driven to postulate that an infinite number of universes exist and that they are all different . We just happen to be in the one that has all the parameters just right to allow for life to exist.

Notice that the theory, put forth by a plethora of scientists who demand that all scientific proposals must be empirically measurable and falsifiable, proposes a solution (an infinite number of external and therefore undetectable universes) that is both unverifiable and unobservable.

The hypothesis originally devised by Princeton graduate student Hugh Everett was at one time described as an “outrageous” interpretation of quantum mechanics because, as Nancy Pearcey and Charles Thaxton explain in their 1994 book, The Soul of Science, “…the idea of innumerable, unobservable universes co-existing alongside the one we see at any instant is too extravagant to be widely accept.”

More recently however, in the cover story for the May, 2003 issue of Scientific American titled, “Infinite Earths in Parallel Universes Really Exist,” physicist and astronomer Max Tegmark stated that, "The idea … seems strange and implausible, but it looks as if we will just have to live with it, because it is supported by astronomical observations."


Let's think about that one for a second. Notice that Superstring Theory does not attempt to explain the level of complexity (design?) that exists in our universe. It recognizes these astronomical observations and accepst them. Then, in order to impose a naturalistic explanation for this complexity on those observations, the existence of an infinite number other universes has been inferred.

In other words, naturalistic scientists have unwittingly admitted that the complexity exhibited by our universe can only be explained as having emanated from a potentially infinite source.

Now isn't that interesting? And isn't it also interesting that some skeptical scientists have actually exhibited some backbone by questioning such an explanation. Don't get me wrong. I'm no physicist and could not begin to explain the details of Superstring Theory to anyone. I don't know if Superstring theory is flawed or just in a slump. But I can recognize its implications.

And in this case, the implications are Divine.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Though I do not moderate comments, I reserve the right to delete any comment that I deem inappropriate. You don't have to agree with me, but I don't tolerate abusive or objectionable language of any kind.