Friday, March 20, 2015
Black holes and other deep space thoughts
Editor's note: As I am thinking about new articles to post, I sometimes go into to deep thought about things other than politics, sports, etc.
Here is something I was just giving some thought to about the existence of black holes. This should also give my readers a little insight as to how my crazy brain works sometimes. Enjoy!
I am always stunned by the certainty with which science is stated, even when it is all highly uncertain.
We do not know, with certainty, that black holes even exist. We only know that they should exist given our mathematical models of the universe; but, as has happened many times before, our mathematical models could be wrong. We cannot see black holes (by definition they do not emit light), we can only infer their existence by the motions and energies of surrounding activity.
Using that same method of inference, pre-Einstein scientists inferred the ether. They were proven wrong; our current models may be proven wrong as well.
Human beings are incredible engineers; I'm not convinced we are nearly as good when it comes to theory. We can take a mathematical model that represents cause and effect, and we can build unbelievable tools based on that model.
But because our tools work, we begin to believe that the model is an accurate representation and rarely challenge its underpinnings.
We have no concept what gravity is, why it works, let alone why it is here. The same can be said for time and space. How can we possibly be certain about black holes?
We know how gravity behaves, we do not know what it is, why it works, or why it is there.
Einstein's brilliant mathematical models describe outcomes of mathematical inputs, not the true cause. Please explain what gravity is; no one else seems to know. And describing it as the warping of space-time does little good when no one can describe space nor time.
There have been some interesting theories recently that describe gravity as an outcome of electro-magnetism. Other theories tell us it is added dimensions applying a force on the dimensions that we define as our universe.
Every time I try to follow string-theory's view on gravity I get utterly confused, so I'm not sure what it is (string theory seems to me to be the ultimate example of math-driven theories of reality.
But I've come far afield. My primary point was that black holes are the result of mathematical models, not real observations.
Why don't black holes turn into stars? if they become so compressed, they should become fusion reactions and turn into stars.
The internal pressure created by the fusion process keeps stars from collapsing due to their gravitational force. Once the fusion process runs out of fuel, gravity begins to crush the star.
It should be noted that if you were to cut a star in half and examine its structure, it would appear layered like an onion, with hydrogen making up the outermost layer, then helium, oxygen, carbon, silicone and finally iron at the core.
As gravity crushes the star the heavier elements are formed from the layer above them. As the star runs out of fuel it takes more and more energy to maintain the fusion process, thus once hydrogen begins to exhaust the star begins to burn out faster.
Stars go through different phases, depending on the balance between the outward pressure from the fusion and the inward pressure from gravity. Larger stars burn out and collapse faster than smaller stars and - depending on their mass - can end up as a neutron star (pulsar) or a black hole.
Black holes are thought to be massive stars that continue to collapse or compress. Not much is known about them, but it's thought that they compress to a singularity, a single point in the space-time continuum. There are theories that dispute that, though.
Gravity wins, always.
The amazing point is that the universe does seem to conform to mathematical formulas, from the tiniest sub atomic particles, to the cosmic structures that bind the universe.
Mathematical calculations proved that the complex physics of the atom bomb and hydrogen bomb would work before we committed the billions to develop it. Mathematical formulas predict the existence of subatomic particles decades before they are observed.
In other words, all the behaviors of the universe can be comprehended and modeled inside the human brain.
Why the universe should conform to mathematical principles and why the human mind should be engineered to comprehend them is a question for cosmologists, physicists, and theologians to ponder.
We see events that happened 26,000 years ago now. Is it possible that events in the future have already happened but that we are not there yet? If the world according to Einstein is deterministic and it was created as a four dimensional space-time, does it mean the time axis was fully created together with its 3-dimension space?
Nothing that happens or becomes can do so without a cause. Such a thing can't cause itself because to act means to exist but since it does not yet exist, it cannot yet act. A thing that happens cannot be caused by 'nothing' because 'nothing' has nothing to give, and one cannot give what one does not have. The only alternative is that it must be caused by another.
So, in order for a thing that has potential to exist to become extant, it must be caused by another. If it has not yet been caused, it remains in potential only.
So, what if everything that ever existed exists and everything that ever will exist exists and all we have is a window through which to view only small pieces at a time?
The notion of an infinite succession of causes doesn’t obviate the need for contingent things to have both a sufficient reason for their existence and cause for their existence in another. Even if there could be an infinite series of causes and effects, there would have to be something outside that series to have caused it, because it can’t be caused by nothing and can’t cause itself (nor have a sufficient reason for its existence in nothing or in itself).
Moreover, an actual infinity of things is impossible. As mathematical objects, infinities can be represented and manipulated mathematically, but as actual, concrete realities, they cannot exist due to the contradictions inherent in the notion of infinity. For instance, in an infinite sequence of integers, half are even and half are odd.
In the mathematical treatment of infinity, we define both subsets as infinite, but in actual, concrete reality, each subset would have both half the number of elements as the whole and the same number of elements as the whole, a contradiction.
Even more fundamentally, and again, considering only an actual, concrete infinity, since the elements of the sequence would each one be finite and limited, the sum of such finite elements has to itself be finite, because such finite and limited elements cannot provide what none of them have.
An actual infinity of such elements can never be realized, even though the number of elements may be potentially infinite.
So, things that can potentially be caused but have not yet been caused cannot be understood to actually exist. They have being, but only potential being, and they have non-being, too, albeit partially, in that they are not yet realized.
Now for my goofy thought of the day: To a photon moving at the speed of light, the universe is a point (space and time have been compressed to zero and mass would be infinite). So it is everywhere and everytime all at once. But in order for a photon to observe the universe, it has to expend itself.