Our universe always turns out to be bigger, more structured, more complex, and more weirdly efficient, than we've anticipated. So what are we doing wrong?
I would benefit from you discussing these ideas with mainstream cosmologists working in the trenches, perhaps in a podcast. Would be great to hear them say "Interesting idea, but I'm a bureaucrat physicist and that's above my pay grade" or "You are bonkers, that runs into X, Y and Z problems".
Also, what is the best book to read on Cosmological Evolution?
Hi Julian, it's a thrilling polymathematical exercise, and a seemingly inevitable direction from you after all the physics asides in your novels! Also a far more interesting way to do pop-sci history than the well-trodden path. Hope you're feeling a bit better.
I have only dipped my toe into your project, and am a particle physicist rather than cosmologist, but I would query the extent to which the historical development suggests that the universe itself is evolutionary, rather than it being our perception of it which has necessarily been iterated and refined. And recursive complexity can mean fractal simplicity rather than evolutionary development -- I'm sure you have or will touch on chaotic inflation and the like + anthropics as a mechanism to generate that "naturallly". Much debated, though.
Anyway, just wanted to give a -- maybe -- conventional physicist view, and see your thoughts on what options there might be beyond our quasi-established picture.
Enjoyed this and can definitely get on board with the Universe (or bigger...life?) being a living, evolving, growing 'thing'. Hints of process theory it seems like.
Shifted my perspective so I can now see from the two points of view. That’s progress. That’s the point. Yes?
Good morning read here on Bainbridge Island, 30 minute ferry ride from Seattle inside the watery flexed arm of Washington State.
Another brilliant one. Thank you for this.
Thanks, this is a great write-up. This is exactly why I started writing a hard sci-fi novel set on contemporary Earth: in order to explore the science of strange physics (aka physics that evolve as the egg matures) you need either to go into a lifetime of academic studies - all of which are tainted with a materialist bias. I've been thinking a lot about the "separation" of church and science with the Copernican revolution, and which biases that were inherited by science. The materialist bias (God as a maker of the universe, separate from it, and Jesus as a carpenter are perhaps the two foremost examples in religion) has stunted both our understanding of consciousness and the universe by separating them.
I wanted to write something light, so it's a mystery with both humans an aliens involved, and the aliens give me opportunities to explore the possibilities of consciousness being a fundamental (repulsive) force of the universe. For my aliens, evolution of consciousness and cosmology are the same, with biology being a branch of cosmology just like astronomy. Your quote "the flow of energy through the universe is such that, step by step, it builds out and protects complexity" is very much in line with the basic tenets of quinten force as my aliens understand it.
Hi Julian, it's the first time I read you... You give a list of examples of our errors in the 'same direction': universe is larger... more complicated... more efficient...
The list is missing "the universe is older than expected". The redshift-velocity-expansion interpretation has been contested since Hubble discovered the redshift-distance relationship. Just because all alternative explanations of redshift have failed (so far) doesn't mean that we have proved that redshift means expansion.
Unfortunately, any attempt at studying the universe outside the redshift-velocity-expansion dogma is met with "that's been proven wrong", which is no better than a strawman argument.
The video suggests an alternative cosmology that deserves to be studied seriously: "these are small, the ones out there are far away, and none of them are receding from you."
I am curious what you think would be the mechanism of this 'evolution'. 'Natural selection' doesn't seem credible, not that it seems credible even in terrestrial biology. I mean are two parent universes getting it on and the universes competing in some sense with a 'survival of the fittest'?
To be clear, I agree with your premises but I don't think that I see the conclusion in sharp enough focus to have an opinion on it one way or the other.
Overall fascinating idea. Cosmology seems due for a shaking up.
I don't buy the use of the term "multiverses". The word Universe is defined as everything that is, so even a prior big bang would still be a part of the universe. I don't buy big bang theory but if one does, the word multiverse is not acceptable to my pedantic side.
The Big Bang was originally proposed br George's LeMaitre, a Belgian Priest. In my opinion it was an attempt to protect the idea of creationism once we knew that the universe was much older than 6000 years.
In my view there is no beginning or end to the universe (spatially or temporally). With each new observation, latest being Webb, we see more (much more) of the same thing.
It is likely that red shift we observe is the result of something other than doppler effect. Some natural change over time of the wavelength of light which increases with age. One proposal I toy with speculates that time itself speeds up and that the ancient light only appears stretched because our clock runs faster today. That also explains the CMB as light so ancient that it appears stretched into the radio spectrum..and beyond into extreme longcwavelengts.
Mathematics can emulate infinity, but cannot actually calculate against a value of infinity. Since science requires mathematics, the idea of an infinite universe lies outside of science and is labeled "supernatural".
My substack has a couple of essays with this layman's thoughts on Cosmology.
This is only a half-formed thought — I loved this update, and I got genuinely hot under the collar at a fellow Russell's sidelining of a evidence-driven voice due to alliances with The Institutions of power, gender, and tradition. However, I also found myself knee-jerking at the implications and connotations of a few words that you chose. When you say that the Universe generates and protects complexity, I read that as stating or implying intent and direction.
Now, I am a fully-fledged member of the narrative that has erred on the side of assuming that the universe is entropic, and tends toward nothingness and eventual heat-death. So I recognize that my perspective (some might call it nihilistic) is being challenged by any evidence that — and here's a word you didn't use, but which floated to the top of my brain as associated with the words you did choose — environments that support complexity are being *nurtured* by cosmological processes. Which feels like a bridge too far in terms of personification of cosmic forces. Fine for Stan Lee and Steve Englehart, but not my particular cup of tea.
So that's an instinctive, protective response to my worldview being challenged, and I don't really have much more to share than an awareness of that and an investment in further discussions and discourse on this topic, because now I'm defensive but intrigued to figure out if I need to update my own underlying assumptions. A process which is always hard. With all the tangents you hinted at pursuing in future posts, maybe also: how does dogma get changed?
Yessssssssss. I've thought this about science for years - just as dogmatic as religion. The scientists are SO ANGRY when that is suggested.
This website is FILLED with the "mavericks" of science who were snubbed, dismissed and ridiculed - who turned out to be correct! Eddington and Chandrasekhar is so egregrious - because it's also got the intersections of race + colonialism working against the quest for truth.
There is so much investigative science happening right now that is suggesting a much more compassionate, nurturing and self-conscience universe that is making me hopeful for our collective future as descendants of Creation. Sheldrake for one...
I think we need to write the "observer" - the subject directing attention in the observation, into the equation. I think that will solve the TOE problem and unite all scales. We can't come to any real understanding of the universe while simultaneously trying to stand outside of it.
Thanks for doing this work. It's reaffirming.