6. Does the Universe Expand?
— Wars & Famine, Nucleosynthesis & the Great Light —
Does the Universe Expand?
No it doesn't. You've been had. In 1929 Edwin Hubble (after him the most famous telescope in the history of telescopes was named) discovered that all those countless galaxies out there are moving away from each other. That can only mean that at any point in our past all those galaxies were closer than they are today. And if you would go back in time far enough you would eventually end up, together with all the galaxies and everything that exists in space-time, in one point. And, the headlines excitedly read, that means that our universe is expanding! Yahoo, said everyone but Einstein and a whole bunch of others who had grafted their reality model on a religion which dictated that the universe had been created the way it was and didn't change. This is quite peculiar since everything changes, and even in the Bible nothing ever stays the way it was. But that's beside the point.
The point is that when scientists reported that the galaxies disperse, the general public understood that the universe expands; that it gets larger. Well, no. The universe is the only thing that has an inside but no outside. There is no space outside space into which space could expand. Space does not get larger because in order to get larger it needs an outside to bigger. Doesn't have one. Yet galaxies move away from each other. What's the answer to this paradox?
The answer is that the universe does not expand, but implodes (to burst or collapse inward - Oxford Dictionary).
Think about it. The light from a star that sits 4 million light years away from Earth needs 4 million years to get here. That means that we see the star the way it was 4 million years ago. And it doesn't matter where it sits (over the North Pole, over Sidney, over Boston) as long as it sits 4 million light years away from us. That means that "4 million years ago" is a sphere around us. And any star upon that sphere is 4 million light years away and we see them all as they were 4 million years ago. Same for 5 million, except that this is a larger sphere since all stars upon that sphere are 5 million light years away. Same with 10 million years. Same with 15 million years. The Beginning is a sphere that encompasses us, and there's nothing larger than it. Whatever brought us forth, it brought forth in such a way that everything that has been made has been made in the Beginning. Imagine that. We're in the Beginning.
To serve common vernacular, we speak of the 'expanding' universe. But now you know better.
The early universe was a lot 'smaller' than it is today, and it also contained far more particles than it does today. In fact, the universe is really quite empty compared with what it used to be.
And it also was not translucent! There were so many particles zipping about at such high speeds that no particle (and that includes the light-particle or photon) was able to travel very far without being intercepted by some other particle and blasted into oblivion or else bursts of other particles that zipped off, collided, decayed, were replaced by others.
Particles always arise as matter-antimatter pairs and in the early universe there was not a lot more than pairs popping up and annihilating instantaneously. And the rub is that both regular space and time are consequences of many particles interacting. Which means that the early universe did not really contain space as we know it, and 'things' didn't really happen, because there was no time yet. All that existed was a thicket of thorns that busked and sizzled without the means of interacting or make lasting structures such as objects or even space-time as we know it. Particles lived tiny and insignificant lives; bursts of eternity brought back to a single instant. No glory. No memory. A gloomy business for sure... But no matter how bad a situation is, it can always get worse. And it did.
Because the universe expanded the energy density grew less and less. And those particles that had a large mass (which after all is 'solidified' energy) became tougher to produce, while the killing continued at much the same rate. This period in our universe's history has been dubbed the era of the quark slaughter, although the larger leptons befell the same fate and died out. The killing went on until only the smallest particles remained: all the gluons, the photon, the Up and Down quarks, the electron and its e-neutrino.
And for some reason which is still unknown, the balance of matter and antimatter shifted slightly in favor of regular matter. This shift resulted in a minute excess of regular matter and while all other matter and antimatter cancelled each other out, the excess of regular matter survived and went on to live happily ever after. All of the matter that makes up our universe today, including planet earth and her dwellers was present at the birth of time and survived the fiercest era of destruction our realm has ever known.
Think about it. If particles were sentient beings they could all remember being part of this incredible turmoil, a world in which fellow particles arose and were killed off before they could come to make a difference. And suddenly something happened that no one could have anticipated. The dying ceased. Vast planes of space stretched out ahead in distances no one could have known were there. Suddenly there was room to travel as the survivors were a truly minute part of all the particles that ever existed. Like solely surviving a great disease that wiped out an entire city, being left with nothing but space. Alive in a realm of unprecedented grandness; alive without the prospect of ever having to die.
But that wasn't all. There was something else.
Some brief instances after the initiation of the Standard Model family of particles, the quark chapter discovered qualities within themselves that allowed them to bond with other quarks by means of the strong force and always in groups of three. By bonding they were able to form new particles - we call these particles protons - that were incredibly heavy compared to any of the leptons. And since this era was still mass dominated they became the most powerful creatures around, bouncing about and knocking smaller particles out of their path, like what herds of cows could do to a squirrel.
Later these protons would constitute the nuclei of atoms, and so we call the formation of protons the 'nucleosynthesis.' But since atoms did not exist yet these protons were not really nucleons. They only possessed the qualities required to become nucleons, if the need arose. And it did when the mass-dominated era was surpassed by a new one.
The mass-dominated era came to a halt and another era commenced. An era in which particles connected to each other in an odd and marvelous way, and individual life gave rise to a new kind of living; the formation of the first atoms. There was eternal life. There was connectedness of such vehemence that it resulted in new, atomic 'life' forms. And there was a light, a Great Light that set the entire universe ablaze, that gave particles the ability to bond and which supplied particles and the atoms they formed with an unending source of fuel, to travel, to engage, to make objects, stars and planets and eventually an even greater thing: that which is generally known as a living creature; cells made from atoms, cells that fed and reproduced and were autonomous and were able to capture the Great Light and instead of degenerating it into kinetic energy or heat were able to transform it into a chemical or electrical equivalent. The miracle of life.
The Great Light
As said before, initially the universe was not translucent. Compare conditions of the early universe with an ordinary cloud in the sky. Made from tiny droplets of water the cloud seems almost solid even though it isn't. The early universe was far more energetic than a simple cloud but the effect was the same. Free roaming particles caught and emitted photons continuously and no photon could travel very far on its own. After the nucleosynthesis the universe kept on expanding but both protons and electrons were still too energetic to bond and the e-neutrinos were not even able to bond and kept running around like headless chickens.
But long after the nucleosynthesis the energy density of the universe dropped below a certain level and electrons were able to stick to nucleons by means of an electromagnetic field. That moment marked the beginning of reality as we know it. As soon as electrons connected to protons to make hydrogen atoms the universe became transparent and light could travel unobstructed from one region to another. Atoms were able to stick together, to form an economy based on thermodynamic and electromagnetic interactions. Soon particles gathered into stars and the universe became what it is now.
— This concludes our introduction to Quantum Mechanics —Go to the next chapter:
An introduction to Chaos Theory →
Summary 6: Does the universe expand?
- The universe implodes and the past is all around us. The phrase "expanding universe" is like the phrase "sun-rise"...
- The Standard Model particles largely died out due to wars and famine.
- Only when the heavier particles were gone, the lightest two quarks formed protons.
- When the wars had ended particles could (practically) live forever. Non-lethal interactions became possible. History became possible; Time began.
- When electrons connected to protons by means of EM the universe became transparent and larger objects could be formed.