III. Ecosmos: A Revolutionary Fertile, Habitable, Solar-Bioplanet Lifescape
1. Quantum Cosmology Theoretic Unity
Susskind, Leonard. String Theory. Foundations of Physics. Online December, 2012. The Stanford University physicist, author, initiator and vocal advocate of “string theory,” offers a synopsis of its history and status for a forthcoming issue of this journal “Forty Years of String Theory: Reflecting on the Foundations.” But per the quotes, and this paper alludes, four decades later there is little to show for it. It appears, as Susskind suspects, to be without foundation, is ever being propped up, epicycles upon epicycles, and is largely unprovable. See Smolin 2012 above for further qualms.
Just to be precise about what constitutes string theory, let me give a narrow definition. But it has the virtue that we know that it mathematically exists. By string theory I will mean the theory of supersymmetric string backgrounds including 11-dimensional M-theory and compactifications that preserve some degree of super symmetry. With that definition of string theory, there is no doubt: string theory is not the theory of nature – the world is not supersymmetric, and it has positive cosmological constant. Exactly how the definition has to be expanded in order to describe the observed universe is not known. (2)
Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality.
New York: Knopf,
The MIT physicist and cosmic imagineer writes an opus that stretches what might be conceived as an explanation for where and why we find ourselves. Human, earthly existence becomes valorized into four levels of parallel multiverses, each due to a mathematical occasion. A primer appears in the December 2013 issue of Discover magazine, quote below, see also a review in Nature (505/24, 2014). Earlier versions (search), are on arXiv and in Foundations of Physics (38/2). A brief capsule does not apply, so we quote from “Bottom Line” of the last chapter “Life, Our Universe and Everything,” where, in contrast to most science books , a significance is yet held out for human beings, if we may so choose.
* Even though our two intellectual expeditions set off in opposite directions, toward the large and the small, they ended up in the same place: in the realm of mathematical structures. * On the largest and smallest scales, the mathematical fabric of reality becomes evident, while it remains easy to miss on the intermediate scales that we humans are usually aware of. * If the ultimate fabric of reality really is mathematical, then everything is in principle understandable to us, and we’ll be limited only by our own imagination. * Evidence suggests that there’s no other life-form as advanced as us humans in our entire Universe. * From a cosmic perspective, the future potential of life in our Universe is vastly greater than anything we’ve seen so far. * Yet we humans devote only meager attention and resources to existential risks that threaten life as we know it, including accidental nuclear war and unfriendly artificial intelligence. * Although it’s easy to feel insignificant in our vast cosmos, the entire future of life in our Universe will arguably be decided on our planet in our lifetime – by you, me and our fellow passengers on Spaceship Earth. (Bottom Line, 398)
Tegmark, Max. Parallel Universes. Scientific American. May, 2003. Imaginative speculations on the implications of the latest quantum and cosmological physics which are opening upon hidden dimensions and an immense variety of universes.
Tegmark, Max. The Mathematical Universe. www.arxiv.org/abs/0704.0646. In this technical paper, first posted online as above, the MIT theoretical cosmologist reports on a decade of work toward an historic reconception that, as noted, would please Galileo. A full published copy is available in Foundations of Physics (38/2, 2008) with a popular summary in the New Scientist for September 15, 2007. Tegmark also directs the Foundational Questions Institute, funded by the Templeton Foundation, which can be accessed at: www.fqxi.org. A recent capsule of his life-friendly cosmology is noted in Current Vistas.
I explore physics implications of the External Reality Hypothesis (ERH) that there exists an external physical reality completely independent of us humans. I argue that with a sufficiently broad definition of mathematics, it implies the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) that our physical world is an abstract mathematical structure. I discuss various implications of the ERH and MUH, ranging from standard physics topics like symmetries, irreducible representations, units, free parameters and initial conditions to broader issues like consciousness, parallel universes and Godel incompleteness. I hypothesize that only computable and decidable (in Godel's sense) structures exist, which alleviates the cosmological measure problem and help explain why our physical laws appear so simple. I also comment on the intimate relation between mathematical structures, computations, simulations and physical systems. Abstract 101)
Toffoli, Tommaso, ed. Digital Perspectives. International Journal of Theoretical Physics. 42/2, 2003. A special issue devoted to exploring Edward Fredkin’s conception of a quantum universe that can be best understood in terms of discrete qualities similar to a computer program.
Turner, Michael. A Century of Physics: 1950 – 2050. Physics Today. September, 2009. From the University of Chicago, a review of past advances in quantum cosmology and a look ahead to a theory of quantum gravity, a “complete story of the universe,” the physics of complex “living things.” But its Ptolemaic mechanical paradigm and trillion year cosmic timeline does not include, has no place for, the very people able to achieve and articulate such vistas. Future projects will also engage “how biological machines work.” There is the greatest need to address these deep contradictions and to found an organic genesis universe with human creative cognizance as its central point.
Turner, Michael and J. Anthony Tyson. Cosmology at the Millennium. Reviews of Modern Physics. 71/2, 1999. A retrospective on humankinds’ progress in the 20th century to observe and describe in word, number, symbol and equation a vast, still unfolding, galactic cosmos.
Turok, Neil. The Universe Within: From Quantum to Cosmos. Toronto: House of Anansi Press, 2012. The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics director has stepped up to make this major contribution about the state of physical cosmology. The text is from his CBC Massey Lectures presented October 2012 in six cities to sold out audiences across Ontario (CBC Canadian Broadcasting Company). A clear survey of the historical endeavors and highlights of physics: “It is a story of fun, yearning, determination, and most of all, humanity and awe before nature.” (49) Yes, all are men, with much technology, the cosmic scenario is mechanically abstract, but as rare today the work is quite optimismic over an on-going promise. With this scene in place, Turok confronts a pervasive pessimism by dismissing string theory, Stephen Weinberg’s “pointless” mantra, and especially Lawrence Krauss’s The Universe from Nothing, along with Richard Dawkins nasty afterword, for malicious claims of an indifferent, accidental, senseless universe. As noted in Alan Lightman above, Freeman Dyson in World Philosophy, and elsewhere, a miasma confounds physics, evolution, and most science and humanities quick to write off, and abandon in despair. Important correctives as this, also Mind and Cosmos by Thomas Nagel, and others, are vital to get reality back on a positive future track.
At every stage in the history of the universe, there was the potential for vastly more than what had been required to reach that stage. Today, this is more true than ever. Our understanding of the universe has grown faster than anyone could have imagined a century ago, way beyond anything that could be explained in terms of past evolutionary advantage. We cannot know what new technologies we will create, but if the past is any guide, they will be extraordinary. Commercial space travel is about to become a reality. Quantum computers are on the horizon, and they may completely transform our experience of the world. Are all these capabilities simply accidental? Or are we actually the door-openers to the future? Might we be the means for the universe to gain a consciousness of itself? (201)
Vazza, Franco. On the Complexity and the Information Content of Cosmic Structures. arXiv:1611:09348. A Hamburg University mathematical cosmologist with a 2009 doctorate from the University of Bologna proposes a novel astro-analysis so as to include nature’s intrinsic informative and organizational propensities, as the Abstract conveys. FV has become a prolific contributor in these fields, see for example The Quest for Extragalactic Magnetic Fields at 1611:00043.
The emergence of cosmic structure is commonly considered one of the most complex phenomena in Nature. However, this complexity has never been defined nor measured in a quantitative and objective way. In this work we propose a method to measure the information content of cosmic structure and to quantify the complexity that emerges from it, based on Information Theory. The emergence of complex evolutionary patterns is studied with a statistical symbolic analysis of the datastream produced by state-of-the-art cosmological simulations of forming galaxy clusters. This powerful approach allows us to measure how many bits of information are necessary to predict the evolution of energy fields in a statistical way, and it offers a simple way to quantify when, where and how the cosmic gas behaves in complex ways.
Living in a Quantum World.
A long time in coming, a University of Oxford and National University of Singapore physicist describes novel insights into how quantum phenomena are being found to apply not only in arcane subatomic realms, but, as many have suspected, are in similar evidence for classical macroscopic living systems. “Entanglement,” the interaction of far-flung objects, and other such effects, is increasing recognized in chemical compounds, cellular doings, photosynthesis, superconductivity, vibrational motion, avian flockings, and so on. So the 20th century revolution continues apace, as it promising to now enter a vital new synthesis.
Verlinde, Erik. On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton. arXiv:1001.0785v1. The weekly New Scientist often extols the far frontiers of physics to interest readers. But once in a while, an item appears of much significance. This is the case with “Gravity’s Origin Falling into Place” (January 23, 2010) which reports on the above paper by the University of Amsterdam physicist. We quote at length whereof Verlinde considers Newton’s law to arise naturally in an emergent space from an intrinsic holographic universe. Similar to a credit card hologram, in such a cosmic context, a three-dimensional image lies embedded on a two-dimensional surface. One might add that every iota then characteristically contains a modicum of the entire scene. Peer approval comes from Nobel physicist Gerard t’Hooft of Utrecht University who commends the theory because it is founded on real physical features such as mass and force, and not just abstract mathematics.
The universality of gravity suggests that its emergence should be understood from general principles that are independent of the specific details of the underlying microscopic theory. In this paper we will argue that the central notion needed to derive gravity is information. More precisely, it is the amount of information associated with matter and its location, in whatever form the microscopic theory likes to have it, measured in terms of entropy. (2) The most important assumption will be that the information associated with a part of space obeys the holographic principle [8, 9]. The strongest supporting evidence for the holographic principle comes from black hole physics [1, 3] and the AdS/CFT correspondence. (2)
Vilenkin, Alex. Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes. New York: Hill and Wang, 2006. The Russian-American, Tufts University cosmologist writes his book to champion how the latest quantum, string and celestial physics seem imply an infinity and eternity of bubbling universes, each with a wide range of parameters, most destined to oblivion. Our local cosmos is a rarest, finely tuned instance which permits life and human observers to exist. By this last Copernican demotion, earth and human attain ultimate denigration. A clash of cosmologies reigns today, at the root of our civilizational chaos, with a waxing genesis creation on the horizon. (See also Knobe in World Philosophy)
In the worldview that has emerged from eternal inflation, our Earth and our civilization are anything but unique. Instead, countless identical civilizations are scattered in the infinite expanse of the cosmos. With humankind reduced to absolute cosmic insignificance, our descent from the center of the world is now complete. (117)