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Author Topic: What was before the big bang?  (Read 45114 times)

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #25 on: 19/08/2015 16:38:30 »
Quote from: Pete
. A good example is the existence of, say, electrons. The early universe was too hot to have particles such as electrons or atoms. Eventually it cooled off enough for it to happen. If the universe has zero spatial curvature, which is quite possible and is actually looking that way, then, as will all models, its size started off with zero and in an instant grew to infinite. Then when it cooled off enough an infinite number of electrons, atoms, protons etc were created.

Zero to infinite is a different thing from finite to infinite.  Neither zero nor infinity is a finite number.  What do you have to do to zero to make it infinite?  How long would that take at any given rate?

On an earlier visit to the suggestion that electrons provided an example of finite objects that could become infinite, we never reached a conclusion.  For clarity, can we establish if we are saying that an electron is a finite object that somehow evolves an infinite field?  Or are we looking at a pre-existing infinite field, of which each electron is a specific excitation?

Quote from: Pete
Who's Cantor and what does God have to do with any of this?

I will not insult your education be assuming that this is anything other than the verbal equivalent of peremptory wave of the hand, intended to dismiss the subject.

Quote from: Pete
I hardly ever miss a point being made or that has been made.

Whilst I will not argue with that, it does not necessarily lead to a logical sequitur that would say: “Therefore I can’t possibly have missed this point”.

Quote from: Pete
 
Quote from: Bill S
If the number of atoms is infinite, it has always been infinite.
Cosmology and particle theory is inconsistent with your assertion. What is your justification for this speculation of yours?

 Most of the scientists I have talked to agree that a finite object would require infinite time in order to become infinite.  I appreciate that scientific veracity is not a matter of popular vote, but the opinions of experts must carry some weight, and as a rational being I tend towards those views that make sense to me.

Quote from: Pete
From what you just said here it's clear to me that you don't understand the physics of the early universe.


Thank you for highlighting my ignorance, which I neither deny nor excuse.  The point I was trying to make, however, has nothing to do with the time at which hydrogen atoms formed, or with Big Bang nucleosynthesis in general.  It addresses, rather, such issues as: If the Universe is infinite, has it always been infinite?

Thanks for the links, I will certainly follow them when time permits.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #26 on: 19/08/2015 16:53:20 »
Quote from: Bill S
I will not insult your education be assuming that this is anything other than the verbal equivalent of peremptory wave of the hand, intended to dismiss the subject.
I don't know what you're implying by that. I merely ask a simple question because I didn't know the answer. Please answer it.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #27 on: 19/08/2015 19:09:43 »
Quote from: Pete
I don't know what you're implying by that. I merely ask a simple question because I didn't know the answer. Please answer it.

I didn't want to risk insulting you by assuming that you really didn't know who Cantor was.  Perhaps the quickest explanation is a link.

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_Infinite
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #28 on: 20/08/2015 17:20:37 »
Bill - Cantor is wrong. He wasn't a cosmologist and had no idea of the concepts that modern physics would bring to the subject. I'll give an example below.

However, the subject of infinity is something I've gone over with you countless times in the past and as such I've said all that I can say on the subject. Let's just agree to disagree, shall we? If you've forgotten what I've said then let me know and I'll repeat it for you. Otherwise I have nothing else to add. What I've explained is quite well known and standard stuff in cosmology. Let me give you one last comment and that will be it.

A property of inflation is explained in appendix A of Inflationary Universe by Alan Guth. The author explains the hypothesis that the total energy of the universe is zero and always has been. If you wish to read it then it's online at my website at:
http://home.comcast.net/~peter.m.brown/ref/guth_grav_energy.pdf
and at Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-energy_universe

Suppose the universe started out with a Big Bang and at that moment it went from non-existence to being infinite in size. The total positive mass-energy was exactly balanced by negative gravitational potential energy. The positive mass-energy was in the form of an infinite number of elementary particles, the mass-energy also being infinite.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #29 on: 20/08/2015 17:48:07 »
Quote
Suppose the universe started out with a Big Bang and at that moment it went from non-existence to being infinite in size. The total positive mass-energy was exactly balanced by negative gravitational potential energy. The positive mass-energy was in the form of an infinite number of elementary particles, the mass-energy also being infinite.

I do not argue, and never have argued, with the concept of instantaneous change from zero to infinite.  I see no way in which it could be achieved, and intend following your link in the hope of finding something convincing. Unless/until that happens, I will continue neither to argue for or against.

What I do argue against is the claim that something finite can become infinite in a finite length of time.   As always, I am willing to be convinced.
 

Offline Mordeth

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #30 on: 20/08/2015 18:42:17 »
Hi Bill,

Please see reply #23 for a question I posted to you.

 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #31 on: 20/08/2015 19:48:33 »
Quote from: Bill S
I do not argue, and never have argued, with the concept of instantaneous change from zero to infinite.  I see no way in which it could be achieved, and intend following your link in the hope of finding something convincing. Unless/until that happens, I will continue neither to argue for or against.

What I do argue against is the claim that something finite can become infinite in a finite length of time.   As always, I am willing to be convinced.
You wrote both:

I do not argue, and never have argued, with the concept of instantaneous change from zero to infinite.

What I do argue against is the claim that something finite can become infinite in a finite length of time.

Why do you not object to something becoming infinite in an instant but not in a finite length of time? In any case that subject is off topic for this thread and I don't want to discuss it again myself.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #32 on: 20/08/2015 21:01:48 »
Quote from: Pete
Why do you not object to something becoming infinite in an instant but not in a finite length of time? In any case that subject is off topic for this thread and I don't want to discuss it again myself.

I respect your wish not to discuss this, but I also try to answer questions.

"something becoming infinite in an instant" is a misinterpretation of what I said.

Zero (which is not something) to infinite, is quite different from something finite to infinity. 

Something that happens instantly, arguably, does not involve the passage of/through time, so infinite time may not be involved.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #33 on: 21/08/2015 00:45:42 »
Quote from: Bill
I respect your wish not to discuss this, ...
Thank you my friend.

Quote from: Bill
"something becoming infinite in an instant" is a misinterpretation of what I said.
What you said was, and I quote - instantaneous change from zero to infinite which is precisely what it means to become infinite in an instant. So how is that a misinterpretation of what you said?

Quote from: Bill
Zero (which is not something) to infinite, is quite different from something finite to infinity. 
That's where you're quite wrong since the quantity zero is a finite quantity and is in the set of all finite numbers. If you thought otherwise then you have a bit of a problem with your knowledge of math. No offense intended of course.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #34 on: 21/08/2015 03:12:27 »
Quote from: Mordeth
I don't know.  Nor does science. I hope that answers your question directly.  What I say below is only an extension of the words: "I don't know".

Are you saying:  “The Universe came from nothing, but we have no idea how something could possibly come from nothing.”?

I hope you will agree that this is very different from saying: “The Universe clearly exists, but we don’t know how or why.”

Quote from: Mordeth
The models derived from General Relativity do not even describe the Big Bang as an event, so by definition it needs no cause.

I would strongly disagree with that statement.  Had you said:  The models derived from General Relativity do not even describe the Big Bang as an event, so we will not find a cause in GR; I would not have objected.  I would argue that the Universe needs a cause, even if we cannot agree as to what it might have been.

Quote from: Mordeth
There is no explanation, and likely won't ever be for causes at t<0 that impact events at t>0,

That may well be true, but unless you can explain how something can emerge from nothing, and how nothing can become something without the passage of time, logic says there must have been something before the BB.  Whether we ever can, or ever will know what that something might have been, is a completely different matter.

Quote from: Mordeth
Is your question a philosophical or metaphysical one?  I guess I am confused as to your intent.   Are you trying to convince me of something or are you honestly trying to understand something?

Arguing that something must have preceded the Universe, otherwise we would not be here now, is a matter of logic.  To speculate as to what that something might have been would probably take us into philosophy or metaphysics.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #35 on: 21/08/2015 03:28:19 »
Quote
That's where you're quite wrong since the quantity zero is a finite quantity and is in the set of all finite numbers.

Pete, you are still misinterpreting me.  What I said was " Zero (which is not something)".  I didn't say if it was finite or infinite.  In the context of our discussion it referred to the "nothing" from which the Universe is said (by some) to have emerged. 

I think you are right, this discussion might be best abandoned; but first  could we revisit an unanswered question?

Quote from: Bill S
On an earlier visit to the suggestion that electrons provided an example of finite objects that could become infinite, we never reached a conclusion.  For clarity, can we establish if we are saying that an electron is a finite object that somehow evolves an infinite field?  Or are we looking at a pre-existing infinite field, of which each electron is a specific excitation?
 

Offline chiralSPO

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #36 on: 21/08/2015 05:02:16 »
could we revisit an unanswered question?

Quote from: Bill S
On an earlier visit to the suggestion that electrons provided an example of finite objects that could become infinite, we never reached a conclusion.  For clarity, can we establish if we are saying that an electron is a finite object that somehow evolves an infinite field?  Or are we looking at a pre-existing infinite field, of which each electron is a specific excitation?
I like this reasoning.

Imagine a system in a state that contains zero sandwiches, but unlimited (infinite) amount of bread and cheese (in the correct proportion). Somehow, over some time interval, it all converts into an unlimited (infinite) amount of sandwiches. Apparently converting from zero (which is a finite number) to unlimited (infinite).

I think the "trick" is that is has to take an infinite amount of time for the conversion to take place. What would it mean "thinking relativistically" for it to happen simultaneously? Imagine an infinite array of proto-sandwiches converting into an infinite array of sandwiches all at the same time. There is no shared frame of reference anywhere within that array, so any definition of "now!" is meaningless. Therefore, I think that from the perspective of one (proto) sandwich, the transformation of all its fellows couldn't possibly be simultaneous, but would have to occur over an infinite amount of time.

And this is essentially what we observe: We can still see the big bang, we will always be able to see it--in some sense you could say it will always be happening, just further and further away, in a receding front (the edge of the observable universe) moving away at the speed of light (not accounting for expansion issues).
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #37 on: 21/08/2015 10:03:45 »
Quote from: Bill S
On an earlier visit to the suggestion that electrons provided an example of finite objects that could become infinite, we never reached a conclusion.  For clarity, can we establish if we are saying that an electron is a finite object that somehow evolves an infinite field?  Or are we looking at a pre-existing infinite field, of which each electron is a specific excitation?
An electron is a finite object.
 

Online jeffreyH

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #38 on: 21/08/2015 11:13:36 »
could we revisit an unanswered question?

Quote from: Bill S
On an earlier visit to the suggestion that electrons provided an example of finite objects that could become infinite, we never reached a conclusion.  For clarity, can we establish if we are saying that an electron is a finite object that somehow evolves an infinite field?  Or are we looking at a pre-existing infinite field, of which each electron is a specific excitation?
I like this reasoning.

Imagine a system in a state that contains zero sandwiches, but unlimited (infinite) amount of bread and cheese (in the correct proportion). Somehow, over some time interval, it all converts into an unlimited (infinite) amount of sandwiches. Apparently converting from zero (which is a finite number) to unlimited (infinite).

I think the "trick" is that is has to take an infinite amount of time for the conversion to take place. What would it mean "thinking relativistically" for it to happen simultaneously? Imagine an infinite array of proto-sandwiches converting into an infinite array of sandwiches all at the same time. There is no shared frame of reference anywhere within that array, so any definition of "now!" is meaningless. Therefore, I think that from the perspective of one (proto) sandwich, the transformation of all its fellows couldn't possibly be simultaneous, but would have to occur over an infinite amount of time.

And this is essentially what we observe: We can still see the big bang, we will always be able to see it--in some sense you could say it will always be happening, just further and further away, in a receding front (the edge of the observable universe) moving away at the speed of light (not accounting for expansion issues).

Your viewpoint is very interesting. This is a difficult concept but I think you have summed it up excellently.
 

Offline chiralSPO

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #39 on: 21/08/2015 15:10:29 »
Your viewpoint is very interesting. This is a difficult concept but I think you have summed it up excellently.

Thank you. I hope so.Though, as you point out, this is quite difficult to conceptualize, so this may not necessarily be the best way to think about it. Hopefully the discussion can continue on this matter (no pun intended)...
 

Offline Mordeth

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #40 on: 21/08/2015 16:14:49 »
Quote from: Mordeth
I don't know.  Nor does science. I hope that answers your question directly.  What I say below is only an extension of the words: "I don't know".
Quote from: Bill S
Are you saying:  “The Universe came from nothing, but we have no idea how something could possibly come from nothing.”?
No, I am not saying that.  I am saying that I don't know either way, nor does science.

Quote from: Bill S
I hope you will agree that this is very different from saying: “The Universe clearly exists, but we don’t know how or why.”
Hi Bill.  This is what I am saying:  "The Universe clearly exists,  but we don't know how or why."  We can only describe events from Planck time forward.  Everything else is a guess.  I believe I am now repeating myself.



Quote from: Mordeth
The models derived from General Relativity do not even describe the Big Bang as an event, so by definition it needs no cause.
Quote from: Bill S
I would strongly disagree with that statement.  Had you said:  The models derived from General Relativity do not even describe the Big Bang as an event, so we will not find a cause in GR; I would not have objected.  I would argue that the Universe needs a cause, even if we cannot agree as to what it might have been.
Clearly the statement you quoted from me above was written in the context of General Relativity.  Why would it be necessary to write "General Relativity" twice in the same sentence?  I feel you are parsing my words in order to refute them.  If you have another, better scientific framework in which to draw conclusions in this context, then please submit it for review. 

Quote from: Mordeth
There is no explanation, and likely won't ever be for causes at t<0 that impact events at t>0,
Quote from: Bill S
That may well be true, but unless you can explain how something can emerge from nothing, and how nothing can become something without the passage of time, logic says there must have been something before the BB.  Whether we ever can, or ever will know what that something might have been, is a completely different matter.
No, "logic" does not say there must have been something before the Big Bang.  Whose "logic" are you referring to anyhow? 

Quote from: Mordeth
Is your question a philosophical or metaphysical one?  I guess I am confused as to your intent.   Are you trying to convince me of something or are you honestly trying to understand something?

Quote from: Bill S
Arguing that something must have preceded the Universe, otherwise we would not be here now, is a matter of logic.  To speculate as to what that something might have been would probably take us into philosophy or metaphysics.

This issue has been debated for millenia.  From Aristotle to Olber to present day. I always liked Olber's paradox myself (yes I know it can be responded to).  What preceded our universe is one of the most fundamental questions that one can ask.  I do enjoy a great deal both discussing it and thinking about it, as well as debating it.  However, no answers are available, and no answers may ever be available.  There is a point whereby both our science AND our logic fails us.  We can no more prove these things than we can even deduce them.   When you ask what came before our observable universe (which we DO NOT KNOW), you are then forced to ask, well what came before that, and before that, and before that.  As I have told you, it ends up with TURTLES, the whole way down.

Consider this, Bill:

We shall define the Universe as all that exists, ever has existed or ever will exist.

Therefore, either:

1)  The Universe has always existed and is infinite in time.

Or

2)  The Universe is finite in time and had a beginning.

If 1) is true, the Universe cannot have a cause, by definition. (as it is infinite in time)
If 2) is true, the Universe cannot have a cause, by definition.  (as it is all that exists so there is nothing to cause it)

So, we are foced to accept the fact that the Universe exists without a cause. Very hard to digest, I know. 

Now, let us go farther and apply this to what we can observe, measure and calculate.

a) It is possible that the Universe is finite in time and "our" Big Bang is the beggining of everything (The Universe).  In this scenario, there was no cause (see #2 above) and all of time truly started here.

b)  It is possible that the Universe is finite in time but "our" Big Bang was preceded by another event, or some chain of other events.  These events are not observable though, and are disconnected from our space-time (maybe forever).  For us then, time started here.   For the Universe though, time started before our Big Bang.  If we could see back before our Big Bang, and if we could follow every prior event to its cause (in a Universe of finite time), we would logically eventually arrive at the first event, and this event would have no cause. (see #2 above)

c) It is possible that there was no Big Bang, and that the significant evidence suggesting there was can be explained some other way.  Even so, the Universe (all that exists) either began with no cause (#2) or is infinite with no cause (#1).

d) It is possible that the Universe is infinite in time, and that our Big Bang is just one event in an infinite number of events (which we likely can never observe or deduce).  There is still no cause (#1).

Even proposals of other "universes" or "dimensions" must follow the above, as they fall into the definition of the Universe (all that exists).  In any scenario you choose, you are forced to agree that something happened without any time for it to happen (the beginning), or that it has always existed (infinite in time).  Either way, you end up with no originating cause, which is precisely where your line of thinking breaks down.   To ask for any cause for either scenario is nonsensical and a false question, as it is unanswerable without invoking the metaphysical.  To ask why would be equally nonsensical.  To ask when could possibly be answered in a Universe of finite time  and to ask where is not covered here.
 

Online jeffreyH

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #41 on: 21/08/2015 17:04:57 »
Mordeth, I can see you have put a lot of thought into this. I can't see any fault in your reasoning.
 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #42 on: 21/08/2015 18:17:02 »
Mordeth, I can see you have put a lot of thought into this. I can't see any fault in your reasoning.
I haven't read what you wrote in detail since I don't want to think about this anymore but what I do recall from what little I know, after we straightened out our disagreement, he's right on track in my humble opinion.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #43 on: 21/08/2015 20:53:57 »
Mordeth, Jeffrey beat me to commenting on the amount of thought you have obviously put into this.  I have a lot of respect for people who think through there ideas, whether I (or scientists) agree with them, or not.  For that reason I would certainly not try to trip you up by paraphrasing what you post.  For what it is worth, I agree with much of what you say.

Quote from: Mordeth
This is what I am saying:  "The Universe clearly exists, but we don't know how or why."  We can only describe events from Planck time forward.


Let’s chalk that up as a major point on which we agree!

Quote from: Mordeth
  Everything else is a guess.

That’s an “almost agree”.  The sticking point for me is that, given that there is something now, I cannot see how there could ever have been absolutely nothing.  Had there been, there would still be nothing now; which, clearly is not the case.  What I am saying is that something must be eternal, but I agree that any attempt to say what that something might be would be just a guess.

Quote from: Mordeth
Whose "logic" are you referring to anyhow? 

This may be a bit off topic, but I think it is worth mentioning that logic is not subjective.  If we say “ your logic is different from mine”, what we are really saying is that your interpretation is different from mine; in which case, one or both of us is almost certainly misusing the precepts of logic. 

I still maintain that unless you can show, logically, how something can emerge from nothing, it is logical to claim that something must always have existed.

Quote from: Mordeth
Are you trying to convince me of something or are you honestly trying to understand something?

Certainly the latter, but possibly also the former; because I believe the best way to understand something is to try to explain it to someone else.  Practically all my notes are written as though I were explaining points to someone.  The advantage of real discussion is that the “someone” argues back.:)

Quote from: Mordeth
When you ask what came before our observable universe (which we DO NOT KNOW), you are then forced to ask, well what came before that, and before that, and before that.  As I have told you, it ends up with TURTLES, the whole way down.

I disagree.  If the turtle below our Universe is infinite/eternal, there are no other turtles, nor is there a “whole way down”.

Quote from: Mordeth
We shall define the Universe as all that exists, ever has existed or ever will exist.

Therefore, either:

1)  The Universe has always existed and is infinite in time.

Or

2)  The Universe is finite in time and had a beginning.

If your definition of the Universe is correct, then option 1 must be correct, unless you can show how something can come from nothing.  The nearest I have seen anyone come to that was JP.  He argued that because we are basing our reasoning on what appears to be the case in the observable Universe, we could not argue that there could not be conditions outside the Universe in which something could come from nothing.  The discussion, which ended in a succession of PMs, finished with agreement that “conditions” would have to be considered as something.

Duty calls, I’m afraid, so I’ll pick up your other points later.
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #44 on: 21/08/2015 22:40:45 »
Quote from: Mordeth
Quote from: Bill S
Had you said:  The models derived from General Relativity do not even describe the Big Bang as an event, so we will not find a cause in GR; I would not have objected.
Clearly the statement you quoted from me above was written in the context of General Relativity.  Why would it be necessary to write "General Relativity" twice in the same sentence?

The reason I used GR twice in the same sentence was to stress that GR can establish the truth of something only within GR.  The same thing might not be true, for example, in QM.

Quote from: Mordeth
What preceded our universe is one of the most fundamental questions that one can ask.

True, but do you agree that there is a difference between asking: “What came before our Universe”
and “Did anything come before our Universe”?

Quote from: Mordeth
If 2) is true, the Universe cannot have a cause, by definition.  (as it is all that exists so there is nothing to cause it)

Once again this begs the question: “Can something come from nothing?”

Quote from: Mordeth
So, we are foced to accept the fact that the Universe exists without a cause.

I disagree, we are forced to accept that we cannot identify the cause, but insisting that there is no cause is speculation.
-----------------------
Your choices a-d raise some interesting possibilities. My comments are my personal thoughts for which I make no claims to veracity.  I present them simply for discussion.

a) This is the something from nothing scenario again.


b) I’m fine with most of this, except that you take it back to an original finite event which had no cause.  This is “turtles the whole way down”, but with a turtle miraculously appearing somewhere in the column to start things off.  That doesn’t strengthen the something from nothing argument, it just pushes it back in time.

c) “It is possible that there was no Big Bang, and that the significant evidence suggesting there was can be explained some other way.  Even so, the Universe (all that exists) either began with no cause (#2) or is infinite with no cause (#1).”

I agree with the first sentence, with the proviso that you would have to come up with a good theory if you wanted to convince the majority of cosmologists that they should abandon the BB.

After that you return to the something from nothing, which we have already considered, then plunge into a tautology!  If the Universe is infinite it had no beginning, therefore no cause.  That is implicit in the definition “infinite”.

d) “It is possible that the Universe is infinite in time, and that our Big Bang is just one event in an infinite number of events (which we likely can never observe or deduce).  There is still no cause”

I know what you mean here, and, as it stands, I agree.  However as the “resident infinity crackpot” I have to suggest that you have problems that arise from an apparent misunderstanding of infinity/eternity.  For example: “infinite in time” suggests that eternity is a length of time, which it is not.  Eternity and time are completely different things and cannot realistically be mixed.  Similarly, we might talk of “in an infinite number of events”.  This suggests that infinity is a number, which it is not.

If this discussion is to continue, I would like to suggest that we consider using John Gribbin’s terminology:

Cosmos = everything that exists, or can exist.
Universe = our (in principle) observable portion of spacetime and its contents.
universe = any other universe that may, or may not, exist.
 

Offline Mordeth

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #45 on: 22/08/2015 02:13:39 »
Mordeth, Jeffrey beat me to commenting on the amount of thought you have obviously put into this.  I have a lot of respect for people who think through there ideas, whether I (or scientists) agree with them, or not.  For that reason I would certainly not try to trip you up by paraphrasing what you post.  For what it is worth, I agree with much of what you say.
Hi Bill,

It is apparent that you too have put much thought into this. I appreciate the discussion.

Quote from: Mordeth
Whose "logic" are you referring to anyhow? 

Quote from: Bill S
This may be a bit off topic, but I think it is worth mentioning that logic is not subjective.  If we say “ your logic is different from mine”, what we are really saying is that your interpretation is different from mine; in which case, one or both of us is almost certainly misusing the precepts of logic. 
Roughly speaking, logic is the study of the principles of correct reasoning. The rules are objective, but many forms are not. I think that Ayn Rand was correct when she referred to logic as the art of non-contradictory identification.  Know much art that is not subjective?   Please don't take this wrong, but any formal training in logic would make it clear that logic and philosophy take many forms, some of which are in opposition to each other.  Existentialism, which opposes rationalism, is based on subjective reasoning.  In fact it can be argued that codifying logic itself is subjective.  If you understood logical positivism, you would understand that one cannot ask questions that do not translate to observations.  The source of knowledge is derived from facts.   So an adherent of logical positivism would simply reject your question as meaningless, and would be logically correct, within that framework. Now,  Heisenberg, basically the creator of quantum mechanics, disagreed and had much to say on the subject.   There is signicant other critique of positivism.  This is well off track now so I will stop. The point is that the logical framework in which you ask and answer questions is as important as the scientific framework.  This was the point of my question.

Quote from: Bill S
I still maintain that unless you can show, logically, how something can emerge from nothing, it is logical to claim that something must always have existed.
Can you logically show me how something can have always existed? 



Quote from: Mordeth
When you ask what came before our observable universe (which we DO NOT KNOW), you are then forced to ask, well what came before that, and before that, and before that.  As I have told you, it ends up with TURTLES, the whole way down.
Quote from: Bill S
I disagree.  If the turtle below our Universe is infinite/eternal, there are no other turtles, nor is there a “whole way down”.
I said turtles, not turtle.  The turtle reference is a common joke in Cosmology.   It refers to the infinite regress problem Bill.  The Earth sits on the back of a turtle, says old lady.  Well what does the turtle stand on?  Another turtle of course, she answers.  And what does this turtle stand on?  It is TURTLES, THE WHOLE WAY DOWN! her final response.
Quote from: Bill S
If your definition of the Universe is correct, then option 1 must be correct, unless you can show how something can come from nothing.  The nearest I have seen anyone come to that was JP.  He argued that because we are basing our reasoning on what appears to be the case in the observable Universe, we could not argue that there could not be conditions outside the Universe in which something could come from nothing.  The discussion, which ended in a succession of PMs, finished with agreement that “conditions” would have to be considered as something.
Bill,  we already have a fundamental condition we cannot explain.  It is the alleged singularity at the origin of the Big Bang.  Our physics do not apply to it.  Nor does our logic.  And I have explained this many times.  Physics itself, math itself, breaks down.   So does our logic.

 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #46 on: 22/08/2015 02:59:52 »
Quote from: Pete
Quote from: Bill S
On an earlier visit to the suggestion that electrons provided an example of finite objects that could become infinite, we never reached a conclusion.  For clarity, can we establish if we are saying that an electron is a finite object that somehow evolves an infinite field?  Or are we looking at a pre-existing infinite field, of which each electron is a specific excitation?
  An electron is a finite object.

I have never questioned that.  If this is the best answer you can find to the questions, I think we should call it a day.  We are wasting your time and mine.
 

Offline Mordeth

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #47 on: 22/08/2015 03:12:14 »
Quote from: Mordeth
Quote from: Bill S
Had you said:  The models derived from General Relativity do not even describe the Big Bang as an event, so we will not find a cause in GR; I would not have objected.
Clearly the statement you quoted from me above was written in the context of General Relativity.  Why would it be necessary to write "General Relativity" twice in the same sentence?

The reason I used GR twice in the same sentence was to stress that GR can establish the truth of something only within GR.  The same thing might not be true, for example, in QM.
I used the term once in the sentence, as well as throughout my post.  It is enough for every person on Earth I am guessing, except you my friend.  I will no longer comment on this subject.   

Quote from: Mordeth
What preceded our universe is one of the most fundamental questions that one can ask.
Quote from: Bill S
True, but do you agree that there is a difference between asking: “What came before our Universe”
and “Did anything come before our Universe”?
Yes, but they are related and the second question will lead to the first.

Quote from: Bill S

Once again this begs the question: “Can something come from nothing?”
Bill, this question is very deep and fundamental.  I am afraid I do not have time to give you my thoughts on this right now.  It would also significantly derail this thread.   The very definition of nothing would first have to be agreed upon, and even then the question could rightly be dismissed as non-answerable in the logical form of positivism.
Quote from: Mordeth
So, we are foced to accept the fact that the Universe exists without a cause.

Quote from: Bill S
I disagree, we are forced to accept that we cannot identify the cause, but insisting that there is no cause is speculation.
I honestly think you either did not fully read my thread or did not understand it.  There is no flaw in the logic.   You can only argue my initial definition Bill.   In both cases, there is no cause.  Please read it again.



Quote from: Bill S
b) I’m fine with most of this, except that you take it back to an original finite event which had no cause.  This is “turtles the whole way down”, but with a turtle miraculously appearing somewhere in the column to start things off.  That doesn’t strengthen the something from nothing argument, it just pushes it back in time.
Bill, with all due respect, you missed the point. 
Quote from: Bill S
After that you return to the something from nothing, which we have already considered, then plunge into a tautology!  If the Universe is infinite it had no beginning, therefore no cause.  That is implicit in the definition “infinite”.

d) “It is possible that the Universe is infinite in time, and that our Big Bang is just one event in an infinite number of events (which we likely can never observe or deduce).  There is still no cause”

I know what you mean here, and, as it stands, I agree.  However as the “resident infinity crackpot” I have to suggest that you have problems that arise from an apparent misunderstanding of infinity/eternity.  For example: “infinite in time” suggests that eternity is a length of time, which it is not.  Eternity and time are completely different things and cannot realistically be mixed.  Similarly, we might talk of “in an infinite number of events”.  This suggests that infinity is a number, which it is not.
Bill, you entirely missed the point of my post.   For an argument to be logically valid,  it must be impossible for the premise to be true and the conclusion false.   Validity itself has does not care if the premise or the conclusion are false themselves, except that a true premise cannot have a false conclusion.  That is, you could have a false premise and a false conclusion, but still be logically valid.  It would not be sound though.   Logical systems themelves though must be sound, consistent and complete.  My argument was, and is therefore logical.  You can only invalidate my argument by proving my premise to be false which leads to a false conclusion.  But if you accept my premise, you must accept my conclusion.  This is deductive reasoning.  Please re-read each word of my post.  And I understand infinity as well as the next guy...meaning not at all.  Do you have some evidence of infinity outside of mathematics?
 

Offline Bill S

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #48 on: 22/08/2015 15:26:26 »
Mordeth, I'm not trying to cover all outstanding points in this post; partly through lack of time, and partly because I think that trying to cover too much at a time can lead to confusion.

Back in the late 1950s I was in the audience at a Grammar School, 6th Form, debate. The topic was: “Half a loaf is better than no bread; true or false?”  The conclusion was that it was false.  This (briefly) was based on the assertion that a loaf is a mass of bread, and you can’t have half a mass.  I leave you to identify the absurdity.

Whilst I acknowledge that dissertatio gratia dissertationis can be a valuable exercise, but I am much more interested in what makes sense than in what might be semantically “correct”.

Quote from: Mordeth
Quote from: Bill
True, but do you agree that there is a difference between asking: “What came before our Universe”
and “Did anything come before our Universe”?
  Yes, but they are related and the second question will lead to the first.

True, but I think it’s quite important to take the steps in sequence and not to assume that the more fundamental question has been answered if it has not.

Quote from: Mordeth
  The very definition of nothing would first have to be agreed upon,

“Define nothing!” = “standard cop-out”.  You are capable of better than that, Mordeth. :)

Quote from: Mordeth
a) It is possible that the Universe is finite in time and "our" Big Bang is the beggining of everything (The Universe).  In this scenario, there was no cause (see #2 above) and all of time truly started here.

I read this and I understand it.  I have no objection to the first sentence, but the statement “there was no cause” assumes knowledge outside that which you have identified as time.  You would need to justify that assumption.


 

Offline PmbPhy

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #49 on: 22/08/2015 17:23:23 »
Quote from: Bill S
“Define nothing!” = “standard cop-out”.  You are capable of better than that, Mordeth. :)
I have to admit that I don't know what he means by this myself.
 

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Re: What was before the big bang?
« Reply #49 on: 22/08/2015 17:23:23 »

 

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