Universe(s) Origin(s) 7 of 7 - Nothing / Everything
(Top Posts - Science - 072802)

Excerpts from "The Book of Nothing - Vacuums, Voids,
and the Latest Ideas about the Origins of the Universe"
(John D. Barrow, ISBN 0-375-42099-1) ...
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375420991

... Nothing, in its various guises, has been a subject of
enduring fascination for millennia. Philosophers struggled
to grasp it, while mystics dreamed they could imagine it;
scientists strove to create it; astronomers searched in
vain to locate it; logicians were repelled by it, yet theolo-
gians yearned to conjure everything from it; and mathe-
maticians succeeded.

Meanwhile, writers and jesters were happy to stir up as
much ado about Nothing as they possibly could.

Along all these pathways to the truth Nothing has emerged
as an unexpectedly pivotal something, upon which so
many of our central questions are delicately poised.

-Origins of Zero/Nothing Concepts-

... A fascinating feature of the zero symbol in India is the
richness of the concept it represents. Whereas the Baby-
lonian tradition had a one-dimensional approach to the
zero symbol, seeing it simply as a sign for a vacant slot
in an accountant's register, the Indian mind saw it as part
of a wider philosophical spectrum of meanings for noth-
ingness and the void.

... Bindu is used to describe the most insignificant geo-
metrical object, a single point or a circle shrunk down
to its centre where it has no finite extent. Literally, it
signifies just a 'point', but it symbolises the essense of
the Universe before it materialised into the solid world
of appearances that we experience.

It represents the uncreated Universe from which all
things can be created. This creative potential was re-
vealed by means of a simple analogy. For, by its mo-
tion, a single dot can generate lines, by whose motion
can be generated planes, by whose motion can be gen-
erated all of three-dimensional space around us. The
bindu was the Nothing from which everything could
flow.

... The Indian introduction of the zero symbol owes
much to their ready accommodation of a variety of con-
cepts of nothingness and emptiness. The Indian culture
already possessed a rich array of different concepts of
'Nothing' that were in widespread use. The creation of
a numeral to denote no quantity or an empty space in
an accountant's ledger was a step that could be taken
without the need for realignment of parts of any larger
philosophy.

By contrast, the Hebrew tradition regarded the void
as the state from which the world was created by the
movement and word of God. It possessed a host of
undesirable connotations. It was a state from which
to recoil. It spoke of poverty and a lack of fruitful-
ness: it meant separation from God and the removal
of his favour.

Similarly, for the Greeks it was a serious philosophical
dilemma. Their respect for logic led them into a quan-
dary over the treatment of Nothing as if it were some-
thing.

---
-insert-

Something from Nothing
http://www.calendarlive.com/top/1,1419,L-LATimes-Books-X!ArticleDetail-26133,00.html
Excerpt: ... Today many physicists believe that nothing-
ness is the foundation of everything, not just the arena
in which matter resides but the substrate from which
matter is actually constructed. As physicists envision
the universe now, everything that exists is ultimately just
a complex enfolding of the underlying substrate of empty
space. ...

-end insert-
---

The Indian religious traditions were more at home with
these mystical concepts. Their religions accepted the
concept of non-being on an equal footing with that
of being. Like many Eastern religions, the Indian cul-
ture regarded Nothing as a state from which one might
have come and to which one might return -- indeed
these transitions might occur many times, without
beginning and without end.

Where Western religious traditions sought to flee from
nothingness, the use of the dot symbol for zero in med-
itational exercises showed how a state of non-being
was something to be actively sought by Buddhists
and Hindus in order to achieve Nirvana: oneness with
the Cosmos.

... When the Chinese encountered the Indian system
in the eighth century, they adopted the Indian circular
zero symbol and a full place-value notation with nine
numerals. The Indian system was introduced into the
Hebrew culture by the travelling scholar Ben Ezra
(1092 - 1167).

... The Indian zero symbol found its way to Europe,
primarily through Spain, via the channel of the Arab
culture. The Arabs had close trading links with India
which exposed them to the efficiencies of Indian reck-
oning. Gradually, they incorporated the Indian zero
into the notation of their own sophisticated system of
mathematics and philosophy.

... Gradually, the advantages of the Indo-Arab system
became compelling and by the thirteenth century it was
quite widely used for trade and commerce.

... We have seen that our numerical zero derives origin-
ally from the Hindu sunya, meaning void or emptiness,
deriving from the Sanskrit name for the mark denoting
emptiness, or sunya-bindu, meaning an empty dot.

-Nothingness Philosophy/Theology in the West-

... Five hundred years ago, if you were a philosopher
you might have had to get a grip on the slippery abstract
concept of Nothing and persuade your peers that Noth-
ing could be something after all -- not the least, some-
thing worth studying.

But if you were a practising scientist, a 'natural philoso-
pher', you faced the deeper paradox of whether there
could exist a physical Nothing: a perfect vacuum of
empty space.

Worst of all, both of them risked serious disapproval
from the religious status quo for letting their thoughts
stray into such potentially heretical territory.

Nothing was an ultimate issue, what nowadays we
might call a 'meaning-of-life question': a question whose
answer has the potential to unsettle the foundations of
entire edifices of thought, carefully arranged to with-
stand the perturbations of new ideas.

... Greek philosophy denied the concept of Nothingness
right from its outset in the fifth and sixth centuries BC.
Thales and his school in Miletus maintained first that
'something' can never emanate from Nothing or disap-
pear into Nothing.

He used this intuition to deny the possibility that the
Universe could have appeared out of Nothing, a diffi-
cult idea to grasp and one that we in the Christian
West have become comfortable with only because
of two millennia of religious tradition.

... Sicilian Empedocles ... imagined matter to contain
pores of a mysterious light medium called 'ether'. ... it
was maintained in different forms until the start of the
twentieth century.

Its original purpose was simply to avoid having to admit
the existence of empty space in the physical universe
and to reconcile the picture of physical space and matter
with the philosophical conceptions of Being and the in-
conceivability of non-Being.

... Anaxagoras ... was the first philosopher to recognize
that our observations of the world are conditioned by
the frailty of our senses. ... Our senses are sampling
partial information about a deeper reality that they can-
not fully apprehend. His ideas were ones that would be
used by the Greek atomists who came after him as a
fundamental feature of their picture of the world.

The atomists maintained that all matter was composed
of atoms, tiny indivisible particles (the Greek word
atomos means having no parts), which were eternal,
indivisible and unchangeable.

... In complete contrast to the atomists' dogma, the
Stoics believed that all things were a continuum, bound
together by a spirit -- an elastic mixture of fire and air --
or pneuma, that permeated everything. ... the Stoics'
Universe was a finite continuous island of material
diffused by pneuma, but sitting in an infinite empty
space.

... The Stoic conception is of interest to us now be-
cause the pneuma was a forerunner of the long-lasting
idea that space is filled with a ubiquitous fluid, an
ether, which can be acted upon and which responds
to the action of other material.

... neither the views of the atomists nor those of the
Stoics proved influential over the next fifteen hundred
years. The dominant picture of the natural world that
emerged from Greek civilisation and wedded itself to
the Judaeo-Christian world view was that of Aristotle.

... The Aristotelian universe was finite in volume; it
contained everything that exists; it was a continuum
filled with matter; space was defined by the bodies
it contained. But unlike the dynamical ether suggested
by the Stoics, Aristotle's continuous ether was static
and passive.

-Christian Concepts of Nothingness-

... In medieval and Renaissance thought the paradox-
ical aspects of the something that is Nothing became
interwoven with the doctrines and traditions of Chris-
tian theology. ... A single Divine creation of every-
thing out of Nothing was a basic tenet of faith. To
speak seriously of the void or of empty space was
atheistic. It countenanced parts of the Universe where
God was not present.

... Augustine of Hippo (354 - 430, St. Augustine) ...
equated Nothing with the Devil: it represented com-
plete separation from God, loss and deprivation from
all that was a part of God, an ultimate state of sin, the
very antithesis of a state of grace and the presence of
God. Nothing represented the greatest evil.

... centuries later they led Thomas Aquinas to create
a fuller negative theology in which the attributes of
God were only to be spoken of negatively: He was
not finite, not temporal, unchangeable, and so forth.
Aquinas supported the Aristotelian abhorrence of
Nothing in an act of Divine creative transformation.

... It is important to recognise that although Christian
doctrine included the notion of creation out of noth-
ing (creatio ex niholo), it did not include the idea that
the creation was caused by nothing. The cause of the
creation is God, not some latent property of the void.
God always exists but the Universe just lacks a mater-
ial cause to initiate its structure.

... During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries theo-
logians were greatly impressed by the arguments for
the existence of God which cast Him in the role of
cosmic Designer. ... the Universe was viewed as a
harmonious whole in which all its components were
wisely and optimally integrated into a grand cosmic
scheme.

Humanity was a beneficiary of this scheme, but only
the most naive pictures of Design would insist on
making humanity's well-being the goal or final cause
of the whole creation.

The ether fitted into this teleological conception of
the Universe because it resolved the old objection
that a void space serves no purpose and implies that
the Deity was responsible for making things that were
a waste of space. The ether plugged this critical gap
by doing away with the purposeless emptiness.

-Elimination of the Ether / Advent of Modern Physics-

... Einstein's brilliant success in bringing together all
that was known about motion into a simple and mathe-
matically precise theory was the end of the nineteenth-
century ether. Einstein's theory had no need of any
ether to convey the properties of light and electricity.

... The developments in our understanding of mat-
ter and motion in the first few years of the twentieth
century brought to an end what is sometimes called
'classical' physics.

Just a few years before there had been serious specu-
lation that the work of physics was all but done. ... all
the great physical principles of Nature were thought
by some to have been mapped out. ... The discoveries
of the quantum theory of matter and the relativity of
motion changed everything.

... The most spectacular intellectual achievement of
the twentieth century is Einstein's theory of gravity.

... When Albert Einstein first began to explore the
cosmological consequences of his new theory of
gravity, in 1915, our knowledge of the scale of the
universe was vastly smaller than it is today. There
was no reason to believe that there existed galaxies
other than our own Milky Way.

... As Einstein continued he found that his equations
were telling him something very peculiar and unex-
pected: the Universe had to be constantly changing.

... In order to avoid a contraction and pile-up of mat-
ter in a cosmic implosion, there would need to be an
outward motion of expansion to overcome it -- an
'expanding' universe. ... In 1929, astronomers finally
established that the Universe is indeed expanding.

... Once upon a time it would have been suspected
that the nature of the most elementary particles of
matter had little to do with the shapes and sizes of
the greatest clusters of galaxies in the astronomical
realm. Likewise, few would have believed that a
study of the largest structures in the Universe would
be able to shed light upon the smallest.

Yet, today, the study of the smallest particles of mat-
ter is inextricably linked to a quest for a cosmological
understanding of the Universe and the organisation of
matter within it.

The reason is simple. The discovery that the Universe
is expanding means that its past was hotter and denser
than its present.

As we retrace its history back to the first minutes, we
encounter a cosmic environment of ever-increasing
energy and temperature which ultimately reduces all
the familiar forms of matter -- atoms, ions and mole-
cules -- to their simplest and smallest ingredients.

The number and nature of the most elementary parti-
cles of matter will thus play a key role in determining
the quantities and qualities of the different forms of
matter that survive in the childhood of the Universe.

... Einstein's development of the theories of special
and general relativity was one half of the story of
the development of modern physics. The other half
is the story of quantum physics, pioneered by Ein-
stein, Max Planck, Erwin Shrodinger, Werner Heis-
enberg, Niels Bohr and Paul Dirac.

... the quantum theory is fabulously accurate in all its
predictions about the workings of the atomic and sub-
atomic worlds. Our computers and labour-saving elec-
tronic devices are built upon the things it has revealed
to us about the workings of the microworld.

... As the implications of the quantum picture of matter
were explored more fully, a further radically new conse-
quence appeared that was to impinge upon the concept
of the vacuum.

Werner Heisenberg showed that there were comple-
mentary pairs of attributes of things which could not
be measured simultaneously with arbitrary precision,
even with perfect instruments.

This restriction on measurement became known as the
Uncertainty Principle. ... The uncertainty involved is
only significant for very small things with a size com-
parable to their quantum wavelength. ... classical con-
cepts like position and velocity cannot coexist when
one enters the quantum regime.

-Modern View of an Active Vacuum-

... The Uncertainty Principle and the quantum theory
revolutionised our conception of the vacuum. We can
no longer sustain the simple idea that a vacuum is just
an empty box.

---
-insert-

Birth of the Universe
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~js/ast123/lectures/lec17.html
Excerpt: ... Quantum Vacuum: The cosmic singu-
larity, that was the Universe at the beginning of time,
is shielded by the lack of any physical observers.
But the next level of inquiry is what is the origin of
the emergent properties of the Universe, the prop-
erties that become the mass of the Universe, its age,
its physical constants, etc. The answer appears to
be that these properties have their origin as the fluc-
tuations of the quantum vacuum.

The properties of the Universe come from 'nothing',
where nothing is the quantum vacuum, which is a very
different kind of nothing. If we examine a piece of
'empty' space we see it is not truly empty, it is filled
with spacetime, for example. Spacetime has curvature
and structure, and obeys the laws of quantum physics.
Thus, it is filled with potential particles, pairs of virtual
matter and anti-matter units, and potential properties
at the quantum level.

-end insert-
---

... it is merely the emptiest possible state in the sense
of the state that possesses the lowest possible energy:
the state from which no further energy can be removed.

... something that will prove to have enormous import-
ance for our understanding of the Universe and the
structures within it: it is possible for there to be many
different minimum energy states, and hence different
vacua, in a given system of matter.

... there really is a base level of electromagnetic oscil-
lation in space after everything removable has been
removed.

... The quantum vacuum with its seething mass of
activity has ultimately proved to be the foundation of
all our detailed understanding of the most elementary
particles of matter.

-Fundamental Forces of Nature-

We have found only four distinct forces of Nature
acting in the relatively low-energy world in which we
live:

Gravity
range = infinite
relative strength = 1 divided by 10 to the 39th power
acts on 'everything'

Electromagnetism
range = infinite
relative strength = 1 divided by 10 to the 2nd power
acts on 'electrically-charged particles'

Weak
range = (1 divided by 10 to the 15th power) centimeter
relative strength = 1 divided by 10 to the 5th power
acts on 'leptons and hadrons'

Strong
range = (1 divided by 10 to the 13th power) centimeter
relative strength = 1
acts on 'colour-charged particles'

... The action of these forces is sufficient to understand
almost all the things that we see around us.

The quartet of forces includes gravity and electromagne-
tism, which are both familiar to us in everyday life, but
they are joined by two microscopic forces which have
only been explicitly isolated during the twentieth century.

The 'weak' force lies at the root of radioactivity whilst
the 'strong' force is responsible for nuclear reactions
and the binding together of atomic nuclei.

The fact that the four separate forces have such differ-
ent strengths and act upon separate sub-populations of
elementary particles is deeply perplexing for anyone
seeking a hidden unity behind the scenes that would
unite them into a single superforce described by one
all-encompassing 'theory of everything'.

How can they be united when they are so different?

-Vacuum as Key Player-

The answer that has emerged reveals the vacuum to be
the key player. ... In a nineteenth-century vacuum com-
posed of empty space there would be nothing more to
be said. The quantum vacuum changes all that.

... The quantum vacuum can be viewed as a sea com-
posed of all the elementary particles and their antipar-
ticles continually appearing and disappearing.

... effects of the quantum vacuum enable us to see
how the puzzling obstacle to unification of the forces
of Nature posed by their different apparent strengths
might be overcome.

The force strengths do indeed differ significantly in
the low-energy world where life like ours is possible,
but if we follow the changes expected in those forces
as we go to higher and higher energies, they can be-
come closer and closer in strength until a particular
energy is reached where the strengths are the same.

... Unification exists only in the ultra-high-energy envir-
onment that would have existed in the early stages of
the Universe.

Today, things have cooled off, and we are left search-
ing for the remnants of a symmetrical past, disguised
by billions of years of history.

As the energies of our life-supporting environment
these forces look very different and the unity of the
forces of Nature is hidden.

The deep symmetry of the forces that should be found
at high energies is possible only because of the contri-
butions of the quantum vacuum.

This sea of particles is really there. Its effects can be
observed, as predicted, by the change in strength of
natural forces as energies increase. The vacuum is far
from empty. Nor is it inert. Its presence can be felt
and measured in the elementary-particle world, and
without its powerful contribution, the unity of Nature
could not be sustained.

... the vacuum ... influences the strength of the elec-
tromagnetic, weak, and strong forces of Nature, and
links the force of gravity to the quantum character
of energy. Each of these influences provides us with
observational evidence for the reality of the quantum
fluctuation and the fluctuations that support it.

These successes have flowed from a new conception
of the vacuum that gives up the ancient picture of the
vacuum as completely empty space. In its place is the
more modest view that the vacuum is what is left when
everything is removed from space that can be removed.

What is left is the lowest energy state available.

Remarkably, this means that the vacuum might change,
steadily or suddenly. If it does then it can alter the com-
plexion of the entire Universe.

... The subtleties and unexpected properties of the quan-
tum vacuum elevated it to play a leading role in funda-
mental physics in the mid-1970s. Since then its position
has become increasingly wide-ranging and pivotal.

... The adoption of a definition of the vacuum that re-
quires it to be only a state of minimum energy ... imme-
diately opens up a number of extraordinary possibilities.

The first question that we might pose about the vacuum
as minimum energy state is, 'Why should there be only
one of these minimum energy states?'

-Symmetry to Asymmetry-

... transition from a state where the minimum that the sys-
tem resides in is symmetric about the zero value to one
in which it is asymmetrical is a common phenomenon in
Nature and it is called symmetry breaking.

The phenomenon of symmetry breaking reveals some-
thing deeply significant about the workings of the Uni-
verse.

The laws of Nature are unerringly symmetrical. ... Yet,
despite the symmetry of the laws of Nature, we observe
the outcomes of those symmetrical laws to be asymmet-
rical states and structures.

---
-insert-

Symmetry Breaking
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~js/ast123/lectures/lec19.html
Excerpt: ... The effect of symmetry breaking in the early
Universe was a series of phase changes, much like when
ice melts to water or water boils to steam.

... With respect to the Universe, a phase change during
symmetry breaking is a point where the characteristics
and the properties of the Universe make a radical shift.
At the supergravity symmetry breaking, the Universe
passed from the Planck era of total chaos to the era of
spacetime foam. The energy release was used to create
spacetime. During the GUT symmetry breaking, mass
and spacetime separated and the energy released was
used to create particles.

-end insert-
---

Each of us is a powerful guide to arriving at the most
general expression of the laws of electromagnetism and
gravity. We occupy particular positions in the Universe
at this moment of time even though the laws of gravity
and electromagnetism are completely democratic with
respect to positions in space.

One of Nature's deep secrets is the fact that the out-
comes of the laws of Nature do not have to possess
the same symmetries as the laws themselves. The out-
comes are far more complicated, and far less symmet-
rical, than the laws. Consequently, they are far more
difficult to understand.

In this way it is possible to have a Universe governed
by a very small number of simple symmetrical laws
(perhaps just a single law) yet manifesting a stupendous
array of complex, asymmetrical states and structures
that might even be able to think about themselves.

In the last decade, there has been an enormous upsurge
of interest in trying to understand the asymmetrical out-
comes of symmetrical laws. The availability of inexpen-
sive fast computers has greatly facilitated this activity
because the complexities of the asymmetrical outcomes
are generally too great for unaided human calculation
to reveal what is happening in full detail.

-Universe Scope-

... If the Universe is infinite in extent then anything that
has any chance of occurring will be occurring some-
where, and so somewhere there will be a region where
there is a matter field whose potential-energy landscape
is shallow enough for a very slow change to create a
lot of accelerated expansion.

Even if this is an unlikely situation (although there is
no reason to think that it is), it will still happen in some
places and we will find ourselves residing in one of
them.

This scenario makes our picture of the geography
of the Universe vastly more complex. ... The little
variations in the structure of the vacuum from place
to place will have been amplified from microscopic
scales to the vastness of extragalactic space.

... The possibility of different vacuum states is far-
reaching because if our Universe possesses differ-
ent possible vacuums it means that the constants
of physics, quantities which measure the strengths
and properties of the forces of Nature, need not
be uniquely determined.

... Soon after it was realised that a 'chaotic' vacuum
landscape could give rise to different degrees of
inflation all over an infinite universe, Andrei Linde
and Alex Vilenkin, both Russian physicists now
working in America, realised that things could be
even more spectacular.

These ubiquitous bouts of inflation need not be
relegated to some time billions of years in the past.
They should be occurring continually throughout
the history of the Universe. Even today, most of the
Universe beyond our visible horizon is expected to
be in a state of accelerating inflation.

... Eternal inflation was not something that cosmolo-
gists went out to construct deliberately. It turned up
as an inevitable by-product of a theory which offered
a straightforward explanation for a number of the ob-
served properties of the Universe.

... Overall, the Universe is likely to be in a steady
state, but populated by many little inflating bubbles,
each spawning a never-ending sequence of 'baby uni-
verses'. Most of the Universe will be undergoing in-
flation at the moment. We live in one of the regions
where inflation stopped in the past and we could
not exist if it were otherwise.

... This revolution in our conception of the Universe
sees us as inhabitants of a large domain that has arisen
in a cosmic history with neither beginning nor end,
where the special requirements for stars and chem-
istry and life to evolve are met. This local part of
the Universe that has inflated to contain our visible
portion of the Universe is just part of the story.

Elsewhere, the Universe is predicted to be very dif-
ferent. ... our conception of the Universe has been
transformed and we must expect that what we can
see is not likely to be representable of the whole.

All of the complexity that we expect to define the
totality of the Universe around us is a reflection of
the structure of the vacuum. It is a bottomless sea
of energy for expanding universes to produce off-
spring in the form of sub-regions that go their
own way, becoming larger and cooler, ultimately
creating within themselves the conditions for fur-
ther baby universes to be born.

-Something Out of Nothing?-

At first, these events of inflationary reproduction
appear to be spawning something out of nothing.

In fact, the situation does nothing of the sort.

We might think that if a whole sub-region of uni-
verse appears and starts to expand then we must
be violating one of the great conservation laws of
physics.

The most familiar is the conservation of energy. It
was discovered in the last century that in all natural
processes, the quantity that we call 'energy' is con-
served. We can change its form, shuffle it around
in different ways, use it to turn mass into radiation
and vice versa, but when all is said and done, after
we do the final accounting we should always find
that the total energy comes out the same.

So we might think that if we go from 'no universe'
to 'universe' we are getting something -- energy --
for nothing and our fundamental conservation law
is being broken. However, things are not so simple.

Energy comes in two forms. Energy of motion is
positive but potential forms of energy are negative.
The latter is possessed by any body that feels an
attractive force, like gravity.

Universes and inflating domains within universes
have very surprising properties when we start to
inquire about their energies.

Einstein's theory of general relativity ensures that
the total of the positive values of the energies of
all the masses and motion with them is *exactly*
counterbalanced by the sum of the negative poten-
tial energies contributed by the gravitational forces
between them.

The total energy is zero.

An expanding region can appear without any vio-
lation of the conservation of energy.

This is a rather striking conclusion. It shows how
a large amount of inflationary expansion can be
underwritten by drawing on a large potential reser-
voir of negative potential energy.

... Vacuums can change; vacuums can fluctuate;
vacuums can have strange symmetries, strange
geographies, strange histories. More and more of
the remarkable features of the Universe we ob-
serve around us seem to be reflections of these
properties of the vacuum.

-Why is there Something Rather Than Nothing?-

Some regard such questions as unanswerable, some
go further to claim that they are meaningless, whilst
others claim to provide the answers.

Science has proved a reasonably effective way of
finding out about the world because it confines it-
self, in the main, to questions about 'how' things
happen. If it does ask the question 'why' it is gener-
ally about an aspect of things that can be answered
if one is in possession of a full description of how
a certain sequence of events occurs, what causes
what, and so on.

As one digs deeper to the roots of scientific theories
one finds that there is a foundation of a sort that we
call the laws of Nature, which govern the behaviour
of the most elementary particles of Nature.

... So far, we have not found a theory that requires
there to be only one possible universe.

... This question boils down to one about the nature
of the vacuum landscape for the ultimate theory of
the Universe.

If there is a single valley in this landscape, then there
is a single possible vacuum state and one possible
set of values for the constants of Nature that define
it.

If there are many valleys, and so many vacua, then
the constants of Nature are not uniquely specified
by one possibility. They can exist with different
values and ... they may even do so elsewhere in our
Universe now.

Hence there has emerged a more modest version
of the great ontological question, 'Why is there
something rather than nothing?' which physicists
are able to comment on in a meaningful way. From
their perspective, certain aspects of the world may
be inevitable or be necessary features of any uni-
verse that is going to contain living observers.

-Singularity-

... the old conclusions of the singularity theorems
are no longer regarded by cosmologists as likely
to be of relevance to our Universe.

Crucial assumptions in those theorems -- the attrac-
tive nature of gravitation, and the truth of Einstein's
general theory of relativity all the way back to the
earliest times when energies are so high that quan-
tum gravitational effects must intervene -- are no
longer likely to be true.

What are the alternatives?

-Cyclic Universes-

One option that has an ancient pedigree is that it had
no beginning. It has always existed.

A persistently compelling picture of this sort is one
in which the Universe undergoes a cyclic history, per-
iodically disappearing in a great conflagration before
reappearing phoenix-like from the ashes.

... suppose the Universe re-expands and repeats this
behaviour over and over again. If this can happen
then there is no reason why we should be in the first
cycle. We could imagine an infinite number of past
oscillations and a similar number to come in the future.

-Eternally Inflating Universes-

... Another means by which the Universe can avoid
having a beginning is to undergo the exotic sequence
of evolutionary steps created by the eternal inflation-
ary history.

... There seems to be no reason why the sequence
of inflations that arise from within already inflating
domains should ever have had an overall beginning.

It is possible for any particular domain to have a his-
tory that has a definite beginning in an inflationary
quantum event, but the process as a whole could
just go on in a steady fashion for all eternity, past
and present.

(end excerpts)

- - -

Excerpts from "The Hole in the Universe - How
Scientists Peered over the Edge of Emptiness and
Found Everything" (K.C. Cole, ISBN 0-15-100398-X) ...
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0156013177

... Understanding nothing matters, because nothing is
the all-important background upon which everything
else happens.

... For centuries, scientists, mathematicians, and phil-
osophers have tried to track nothing down, give it a
name, put a box around it.

... In the past few hundred years, the struggle to get
a handle on nothing has changed the course of mathe-
matics, physics, and even the study of the human mind.

And while that's a fact well known to science, precious
few laypeople have been let in on the secret: While no
one was looking, nothing became a central player that
creates number systems out of whole cloth; bubbles
up matter and universes; materializes sights, sounds,
perceptions.

As physicists and mathematicians plunged deeper into
the void, they emerged with an abundance of riches
that seems to have no end in sight. Indeed, the evolu-
tion of nothing into a full-fledged player in the universe
stands as one of the greatest paradigm shifts in human
thought.

... In physics, the study of nothing lies at the bottom
of every burning question from the cramped quarters
of subatomic spaces to the expansive realm of the
cosmos at large, and especially at the ragged edges
where the largest and smallest meet.

All properties of matter, of forces, of space, and of
time are intricately woven into the vacuum itself -- that
is, the ultimate nothing.

... The loveliness of mathematics and physics is that
it allows us to move the search for nothing out of the
realm of pure navel gazing and into an arena where
concrete questions can be posed. ...

(end excerpts)

[K.C's book offers yet another fascinating view into
how nothing is teeming with activity from which the
origin(s) of universe(s) may be understood - highly
recommended, but as this post is getting rather long,
I'll leave you in suspense - needless to say, it would
be a worthwhile investment to read the books listed
in this series of posts, and others, to expand your
horizons on the nature of being in this grand cosmos
of wonder and mystery whereby nothing is the most
important something that resides at the core of every-
thing that has existed, does exist, and will ever exist.]

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Posts in this series:

Universe(s) Origin(s) Preface
http://prohuman.net/universes_origins_preface.htm

Universe(s) Origin(s) - 1 of 7
}}} String Theory / Infinities / Singularities {{{
http://prohuman.net/universes_origins_1_of_7.htm

Universe(s) Origin(s) - 2 of 7
}}} No Origin of the Universe? {{{
http://prohuman.net/universes_origins_2_of_7.htm

Universe(s) Origin(s) - 3 of 7
}}} Multiverse? {{{
http://prohuman.net/universes_origins_3_of_7.htm

Universe(s) Origin(s) - 4 of 7
}}} Universes from Black Holes? {{{
http://prohuman.net/universes_origins_4_of_7.htm

Universe(s) Origin(s) - 5 of 7
}}} Cyclic Universe? {{{
http://prohuman.net/universes_origins_5_of_7.htm

Universe(s) Origin(s) - 6 of 7
}}} Einstein / Big Bang / Superstrings {{{
http://prohuman.net/universes_origins_6_of_7.htm

Universe(s) Origin(s) - 7 of 7
}}} Nothing / Everything {{{

http://prohuman.net/universes_origins_7_of_7.htm

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