Here are some questions and thoughts about Physics and our reality that I consider really different than any normal textbook or piece I have seen written anywhere.
The scale of the universe is about 71 orders of magnitude in space and 61 orders of magnitude in time
We all know the universe is big. We thought the Earth was all there was at one point and the stars were a painting on the ceiling. Without a concept of stars and the distances involved you realize it is hard to think of what are those points of light anyway? It took us a while to realize they were other suns. For a long time we thought that was all there was and then we realized some of those points were actually other galaxies and the size of the universe made another huge expansion.
-5000 to 1530 : Total universe: 20,000 Kilometers ( 10 ^ 4 KM)
1530-1700: Total universe: 1,000,000 Kilometers (10 ^ 6 KM)
1700-1900: Total universe: 10 ^ 18 KM
1900 – 1990: Total universe: 10 ^ 23 KM (visible universe)
1990-2000: Total universe: 10 ^ 24 KM
2000-2016: Total universe: 10 ^ infinite ^ 4 REALLY REALLY BIG
Inflation is one of 2 theories we have of explaining the reason the universe is here today like it is. The problem inflation solves is the fact the universe we see should have collapsed long ago. The conclusion the universe is infinite in size is based on probability argument that if inflation happened here it must happen elsewhere and forever so the universe must be infinite but of course we don’t know that. Roger Penrose has proposed that instead of inflation the universe goes through a series of bangs he calls Aeons in which the universe rebooms again after some lengthy period and that he sees evidence of rings from prior explosions. In this case there is no reason the universe needs to be infinite in size. Neither theory is proven but inflation is the one accepted by most physicists. Either way its pretty big.
On top of that physicists have theorized that the universe has 4 levels of multiverse each of which has an infinite number of universes that is bigger than the next level. So, big really really big.
0 to 1800 : Total time: 10 ^ 11 seconds (5000 years )
1800-1930: Total Time: possibly infinite (steady state was prevalent)
1930-1990: Total Time: 10 ^ 18 seconds (13.8 billion years)
1990 – 2016: Total Time: Either infinite or 10 ^ 18 seconds
For much of human existence we thought the Earth began 5000 years BC.
Later we had no idea but assumed the universe was infinite in duration because when we looked in the sky things were stable. Even Einstein in 1915 when creating general relativity put in a factor called the cosmological constant to prevent the universe from imploding or exploding because he assumed like everyone else the universe was steady state forever. About 1930 we figured out from Hubble and others that in fact there was a limit to the universe and it appeared to be about 11 billion or a little more.
Today we have a good idea the universe is very close to 13.8 billion years old. At least the inflated piece we are in is that old. If inflation exists or Penrose is right then we have no idea how long this whole thing has been around so we are back to an infinite time frame.
The small (This is more interesting)
-5000 to 1400 : smallest thing: 10 ^ -6 KM or 10 ^ -3 M (a millimeter) visible
1400-1850: smallest thing: 10 ^ -9 KM or 10 ^ -6 M the microscope (single cells)
1850-1950: smallest thing: 10 ^ -15 KM or 10 ^ -12 M The electron
After this is theory:
1970 – 1985: smallest thing: 10 ^ -21 KM or 10 ^ -18 M (Quarks)
1985-2016: smallest thing: 10 ^ -37 KM or 10 ^ -34 M (Plank Scale)
These two objects (pencil tip and a cell) are 1mm and 1micron (10^-6M)
A hydrogen Atom and electron circling
-5000 to 1800 : 10 ^ -1 seconds ( human reaction time)
1800-1930: 10 ^ -6 microsecond physics experiments
1930-1990: 10 ^ -9 fastest computers
1990 – 2016: 10 ^ -23 the fastest clocks using atomic vibrations
After this is theory
1990-2016: 10 ^ -43 plank time
We have some idea of how small the universe gets because of the fact that the universe appears to be digital or made up of quantum’s of energy, quantum’s of baryonnes’s and quantum of momentum etc it is logical to assume that everything is quantized including space, time and everything else.
From the energy unit of a plank unit one can compute what are called natural units which is where the speed of light is 1, the plank constant is 1. In these units one unit of time is the time it takes light to go one plank unit of distance which is the wavelength of the smallest wave. These units imply a quantization of our world roughly as follows:
1 plank distance (smallest distance): 10 ^ -34 meters
1 plank time (smallest time): 10 ^ -43 seconds
We have observed objects as small as 10^-13 meters. This is the size of a single hydrogen atom. We have observed recently particles as small as 10 ^ -16 meters (the higgs)
We have clocks that can tick time at 10 ^ -23 seconds ( oscillations of some atoms). We have actually observed closer to 10 ^ -16 seconds. Our computers clocks closer to 10 ^ -10 seconds.
So, what does it mean that distance could be quantized down another 18 to 20 orders of magnitude? On this scale it means that a proton is as big to the smallest size like the size of the earth is to an atom. Or a human to the size of the universe.
Do we know that time or space are literally this small? Well, in one sense, no since we aren’t even sure space and time are real dimensions (see my articles on Roger Pentose) and we have not observed these units unlike energy and baryon which we observe all the time down to the unitary level. So, we don’t know that these dimensions exist but we have no reason to believe that it is quantized at a higher number either and it would be inconsistent with some other physics if it weren’t. We keep exploring smaller and smaller dimensions and smaller and smaller times and so far there does not appear to be any evidence that we are approaching any limit. The physics we are seeing at the sizes we are probing does not seem to be different or revealing that we are close to a limit. No theoretical other time or space limit is sensible from current physics. So we assume plank time and space is the ultimate limit of space and time.
The total range of the universe is 71 orders of magnitude in spatial dimensions and surprisingly 61 orders of magnitude in the time dimension.
In a similar way even more extreme in a sense the smallest fastest time we have observed is incredibly large number of minimum time units. 10 ^ 20 or so number of ticks of the universe happen in what we have ever measured as the smallest time interval. If 10 ^ -43 seconds is truly the tick of the universe then this is 10 ^ 26 times as many ticks of the universe clock as there are seconds since the universe began in every second. This is truly ridiculous amount of time or ticks every second.
The dimensions people deal with in the world today for the small are far smaller than humans can perceive to start with. We can’t see protons or imagine how fast a computer operating at 10 billion operations a second is running and yet these sizes and times which are not something we can easily imagine are on a scale of us comparable to our size to the size of the observable universe. The scale of the tiny or fast is incredibly more than even the scale of the universe to us.
What is going on in all that time and all that space that we haven’t observed yet?
What does this mean? One problem is that as we try to probe to smaller distances we need a more and more powerful beam. These energies are not easily obtainable at our scale. To see the higgs particle takes a good fraction of the energy output of the entire european continent for a very short period of time but nonetheless it is so phenomenal that to probe just another 6 orders of magnitude smaller in size dimension would take an accelerator from here to saturn. It’s not likely we will ever be able to generate enough of a beam to see down to 10 ^ -24 meters let alone 10 ^ -34.
The bizarre thing is that the particles and world down at this level is actually extremely energetic. This seems contrary to how we think of energy. Normally we think of large energy having to do with large objects. This is not true. It’s partly how we experience energy.
We measure energy by the frequency of say a particle of light. The smaller the particle the higher the frequency of light but the shorter the wavelength. To generate short wavelengths requires enormous energies but in another sense it is simply a particle with short wavelength. The fact that means for us that we need to use massive energy source to see it or make it is a consequence of how we are doing physics but it is the only way we know to see these things.
We have an idea of energy as related to explosions and forces. Huge forces. However, think about a nuclear fission bomb. We simply have some atoms splitting apart. The force holding these atoms together is released. Something very small that seems like a small deal actually is enormous at our scale. It is thought that a single ounce of plutonium if distributed equally could kill all 10 billion human beings with the force of the splitting atoms. The half life of plutonium is 24,100 years which means in 24,000 years there will still be half the plutonium left but the few atoms splitting off of an ounce could wipe out the human race in hours if delivered precisely.
Many of the particles we have identified have incredibly short lifespans, much shorter than the half-time of plutonium. Sometimes on the order of 10 ^ -15 seconds or even less. However, that means they exist for 10 ^ 28 ticks of the universes ultimate clock possibly. They aren’t so ephemeral after all. They are around for almost an eternity by the time scale of the universe!
You may say this is ridiculous. We don’t know if the universe has such a fine time clock. However, we are quite sure that if energy exists at the unitary plank scale then there must be something down at that distance or close to it and there is no reason at this time to believe the ultimate clock isn’t measured in plank time units. If time is continuous then of course it means that there is an infinity of time in every small unit of time, so the problem is much worse. I believe the world is quantized because it makes no sense to me to talk about an infinitely divisible universe.
What is happening with all this plank time? and Plank space?
Maybe nature is doing the quantum calculations we find so hard to imagine.
One of the concerns of quantum physics is that particles do amazing things while in the coherent phase. They find a solution to a difficult problem. This problem nature solves while hiding from us during the coherent phase of energy is finding the thing that uses the least energy among an almost infinite number of possible things it could do. I have long wondered how nature does this computation so quickly since at our scale it can take a computer years to compute what nature does faster than we can measure.
For example, a photon hits a clorophore portion of a photosynthetic plant molecule. The photon is ferried to a place where a CO2 molecule is. The photon impact the CO2 molecule and splits it apart generating O2 and Carbon. One could easily say this is the most critical process in all of life. In this process the photon is transported to the CO2 molecule in a process called quantum tunneling. This requires nature to figure out the trillions of possible ways the photon could go and find the least energy path that results in breaking the CO2 molecule.
It is not that nature is thinking I need to break that CO2 molecule let me find the cheapest way there. It is more that the plant has arranged it so the highest probable outcome of the photon is to find itself being used to break the CO2 molecule apart and nature prefers this path because it turns out to be the least energy path. After all, breaking the CO2 molecule apart results in energy release and a lower energy state for the system. The problem is that to figure out the least energy path requires using our linear thinking brains billions or trillions of possible paths and examining how much energy is needed for each path. Nature seems to do this instantly in a single quantum moment.
We frankly don’t know how every 10 ^ -10 seconds or so this photon can do this calculation and end up doing the thing it does. The remarkable thing about this calculation is that in the process of being the least energy thing to do the photon might have had to do in between some extremely expensive energetic things. This is why this is called quantum tunneling because to us the photon may have had to traverse a path that looks virtually impossible and took a lot of energy in the process of ultimately releasing more energy than it took.
We imagine how this happens by utilizing the bubbling foam of virtual particles that fills all of space. These virtual particles borrow energy from empty space to give the particle enough energy to tunnel through difficulties to ultimately attain the lower energy state. These random virtual particles are a key element of quantum physics and consume the computers time calculating all possible virtual particle combinations that could result in this or that consequence. In a later chapter I will explain this bubbling foam of virtual particles, what they may really be and how that works exactly.
It seems impossible
An analogy would be if a stream needed to climb a mountain to end up at the sea a “stream photon” would climb the mountain if needed to reach the sea. This is different than the real world where we know streams don’t climb mountains under any conditions. However, utilizing the apparently almost infinite energy to be borrowed in free empty space the photon stream can climb a mountain on its way to the sea if it turns out that path is shorter to the sea than going around it.
From a computational point of view the fact the photon could climb the mountain means we have to examine every path no matter how improbable it looks because in the end it may be the best solution. We have algorithms for finding these minimum solutions but they always end up choosing a partial good solution. They don’t find the best solution. Quantum mechanics always finds the best solution as if it examined every possible path exhaustively. That’s how we tell if we’ve built a true quantum computer or not. If it finds the exhaustively cheapest path then it is quantum behavior.
I’ve wondered and maybe some other people if after we built quantum computers we would find nature cheated too and didn’t find the best solution. So far the quantum computers verify that in fact nature does somehow do the exhaustive search.
So, if nature is doing exhaustive search then our linear brains conclude it must be trying all the possible paths. In fact, in some sense it is trying all the paths because we see all the paths chosen with the paths showing up in different probabilities. So, the photon doesn’t ALWAYS go up the mountain, sometimes it also goes around the mountain to get to the sea. Nonetheless, it does go up the mountain too and frequently it mostly goes up the mountain. If natures underlying clock rate is 10^-43 seconds then it has an enormous amount of time to calculate the cheapest path and all the other paths. We don’t know the limit of how complex the ability of nature is to detect the minimum solution. So far it does it regardless of the size of the problem to the best of our knowledge. If it is able to do so for arbitrarily large problems then it has an ability we could never emulate. In other words nature may be capable of something man may never be able to do with logic alone.
The missing time we don’t see is like an entire universe of time in seconds happening every microsecond
Let us look at this minimum time 10^-43 seconds. One millisecond to the age of the universe (13 billion years) is about 10 ^ 21. The ratio of the minimum time is about the same ratio to a millsecond.
For every millisecond the universe ticks off the same number of plank ticks as milliseconds has passed since the big bang 13.8 billion years ago.
This is a lot of time happening that we don’t see. An entire universes of time or even dozens of universes evolution from the big bang to now all in the blink of an eye. What is the universe doing in all those ticks of its clock? If you don’t believe in this number of ticks what number of ticks would you believe and why? Or do you believe like Penrose that time is not really a dimension at all and therefore not real.
In both these dimensions I have demonstrated the scale of the most minute amount of space or time is unbelievably small to the point that it is like the scale of humans to the universe. If these minimal time and space dimensions are reality which I believe most physicists believe is real then a lot of stuff could be happening that so far is beyond our ability to perceive. If god operates on dimensions of this scale then it gives whoever god is a lot of time to play around with things before we’d even notice.
Conclusion: Another universe within a universe
The amount of time and the scale of space are at least 20 orders of magnitude smaller than anything we have ever observed. Things could be happening on this scale we have no idea about. Whole universes even living things, sentient things could exist theoretically I suppose at these dimensions. We cannot probe at these dimensions and times. For the things operating at these times and scales our universe would be so slow that it would look like our molecules and particles were around for the entire length of time of a universe. 10 ^ 20 “moments” and the space would be so huge the particles we call our smallest atomic particles would be another universe.
While the energies of their short wavelength short duration particles at their scale would be typical and similar to particles at our scale. They would see everything around them because the energies and time scales they operate at would be atuned to that environment. They would be inherently different because they would see the ultimate time and distance scales where space and time jump. It is hard to imagine what that would be like but there would be plenty of time and scale for things to develop of great complexity.
It is boggling to imagine in every moment in time or space another universe. It seems impossible but if plank time and space exist then something is happening down there. What? That’s the question I’m asking? It will be interesting as we probe to smaller times and spatial dimensions what we see, if some structure emerges.