Arguments for the universe expanding toward a singularity.
1. It fits with Hubble's law and time dilation. 2. It does not require the supposition of unverifiable new substances. 3. It relies solely on empirical data. 4. There is no evidence to the contrary.
It’s a fact that the universe is expanding. Hubble’s law is simple: double the distance and the galaxies are moving away twice as fast.
Gravity affects time. This is another fact, which Albert Einstein predicted before completing his theory of general relativity. In 1976, the Chesapeake Bay experiment confirmed time dilation—atomic clocks run slower at ground level than up in the air.
From Einstein’s Universe, Nigel Calder elaborates:
“In Einstein’s theory the main features of gravity around the Earth are exactly the same as they would be if our planet were hollow, with a faked-up papier-mâché surface of mountains and seas, but having a black hole at the centre with the same mass as Earth” (74).
The way atomic clocks behave around a black hole singularity, or any massive body, is simple: double the distance from the black hole, and the slowdown of the clock halves.
The Big Bang is a popular interpretation of this evidence.
The BHUM suggests the universe is expanding toward a singularity.
While difficult to visualize, the benefit of this explanation is twofold: it doesn’t require the introduction of exotic new substances, and, it relies solely on demonstrable physical results.
When you take a few pennies (i.e. galaxies) and toss them off a tall building one after the other, the distance between the pennies will increase as they fall because the first penny dropped will always be moving faster than the second, and the second than the third, and so on—because of the acceleration due to gravity.
Perhaps a better analogy, with regard to spacetime, is to imagine the successive pennies funneling down one of those spiral wishing well things you see at the mall. The distance between the pennies will increase. Of course, the singularity is where all the money goes.
Interesting article. Thanks for the bumpdate and course correction.
What I mean by saying the universe is expanding toward a singularity is basically that the Big Bang and the so-called Big Crunch are the exact same thing. The image I used to describe this in the original blog post was an apple.
The skin of the apple represents spacetime. The core of the apple represents a singularity out of which the universe--you, me, all the stars and galaxies--emerged. One can imagine a galaxy, sometime after the Big Bang, moving out and away from this singularity according to Hubble's law, eventually crossing the "equator" of the apple/universe, and finally winding up right where it started.
Of course this is just a visual aid and implies nothing about the actual shape or structure of the universe. For a more detailed explanation please see the original blog post here:
It's puzzling because 4-dimensional objects are puzzling. But I must insist that this is an expansion, or at least looks like one. From the perspective of an observer anywhere on this apple/universe all the galaxies, everything, will appear to be moving away at an accelerated rate in all directions. And thus the observer is left to conclude the universe is expanding, which it is, toward a singularity.
I think we might be veering off into a fruitless semantic argument.
I said in the original blog post that the universe is expanding and contracting at the same time. However, from the perspective of an observer at any point the universe will appear to be expanding at an accelerated rate in all directions (according to Hubble’s law).
And as for discussing the shape of a hypothetical 4-dimensional object, I think the horn image helps.
Wish I could figure out how to paste this image in here but here's a link:
I guess the main point—if we can bracket the shape issue for a moment—is the fact that the empirical evidence suggests the universe is expanding toward a singularity. Hubble’s law states that double the distance and the galaxies are moving away twice as fast. This is exactly what one would expect (and can easily observe) of objects falling toward a singularity. The example I used in the blog post was tossing pennies off of a tall building. Drop three pennies in 5 second intervals and the first penny will always be moving faster than the second, and the second than the third, because of the acceleration due to gravity. The observer—the person dropping the pennies—might conclude that space is moving away from him (expanding), or, he might conclude that the pennies (i.e. red-shifted galaxies) are falling toward a gravitational singularity. Which they are, of course: the center of the earth.
I think I’ve made it pretty clear that to any observer—according to the BHUM—the universe will appear to be expanding.
“Not after the “equator” has been passed. Then it’ll look like it’s contracting.”
So I must ask you: Where would an observer need to be positioned for the universe to “look like it’s contracting”?
Unless you’ve mastered some sort of magical gorilla geometry to match your smugness, I’m afraid it’s mathematically impossible.
Maybe this example will be simpler to understand…
Picture a piece of plain old flat computer paper. The paper is the universe in this analogy! An observer (if it helps pretend you’re the observer) is positioned at the center of said piece of paper. Everything the observer can see—i.e. red shifted galaxies—appears to be moving away from him/her according to Hubble’s Law. From this empirical observation the observer concludes the universe is expanding. Yes, expanding. Hubble’s Law is the reason scientists believe the universe is expanding.
Now picture the edges of said piece of paper. The edges represent the singularity in this analogy. (Wait I though a singularity was a point not a square blah blah blah). You may need to take a piece of computer paper from your printer to see how it can be folded back to resemble a sphere. Yup, space can bend. Fancy that.
I should probably mention again, though I’ve stated this point before in multiple posts, is that we are talking about a hypothetical 4-dimensional object. You can’t picture a 4-dimensional object. Neither can I nor anyone! They don’t make sense. The closest we can get is a Mobius strip or a Klein bottle.
If you had actually read the original blog post this would not have been such a distracting issue.
When I said we were veering off into a fruitless semantic argument I didn’t mean to be an ass. I just meant that we were veering off into a fruitless semantic argument. You could avert this by having less of an ego, and understanding that when I use the word “expanding” I mean just that: expanding.
So I must ask you again, because this is the question you’ll dodge to save face: Where would an observer need to be positioned for the universe to “look like it’s contracting”?
I’ll tell you the answer: The observer’s head needs to be positioned somewhere near Uranus.
Great information. I wonder if more evidence than this needs to be presented to at least get people to admit there is a possibility that the universe is one gigantic black hole?
A gravitational singularity, yes, at the center of earth. This is gravity 101.
From Einstein’s Universe, Nigel Calder elaborates:
“In Einstein’s theory the main features of gravity around the Earth are exactly the same as they would be if our planet were hollow, with a faked-up papier-mâché surface of mountains and seas, but having a black hole at the centre with the same mass as Earth. [...] The German theorist Karl Schwarzschild offered this very useful interpretation almost immediately after Einstein published his theory.” (74).
Ah, yes. Back to semantics. How about a "center of gravity." Obviously there's not a literal black hole at the center of Earth (though I wouldn't be surprised if every "center of gravity" was determined to actually be a miniature black hole.) Gravity simply behaves as though there's a black hole in the center with the same mass as Earth--as stated by Mr. Schwarszchild.
Do you dispute the fact that there's a "gravitational singularity" at the center of the galaxy, too?
Regardless, I'm disappointed that a serious discussion about the possibility of our universe being a black hole has been derailed by this rather boring exchange.
Thanks for the info on how to post pictures and quotes.
Regarding the universe expanding and contracting at the same time, you asked:
How's that work? Aren't those mutually exclusive?
Yes. Expanding and contracting are generally understood as mutually exclusive concepts. I’m glad you asked the question because it touches on a broader point, which I believe underlies some of the confusion and animosity in the previous replies (including my own).
You also asked:
You wrote the blog?
Yes. I wrote the blog. I’d assumed since a link was provided in the initial forum post that the people who responded at least skimmed the contents. I can see now that the cliché: never assume anything, is at least partially true. And I apologize for that. The topic of the blog—the Black Hole Universe Model (BHUM)—is hard enough to digest for me even after writing it. And I’m the first person to admit that I don’t fully understand the implications of such a model. But I'll defend it tooth and nail because I believe it to be intuitively true.
The cosmology presented in the post is highly speculative. By that I mean it’s metaphysical. I obviously can’t prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that our universe is one gigantic black-sive-white hole. I’m simply saying this sort of interpretation—which is not a new idea and shares many features with other popular multiverse theories—seems to me to be the most likely scenario given the current empirical evidence.
So to fully answer your question, Catholic Scientist:
Aren't those mutually exclusive?
Yes. The concepts “expanding” and “contracting” are polar opposites. It’s a classic example of a disjunctive syllogism: either X or Y. But that’s precisely the reason the BHUM holds water. This antequeted sort of thinking is outdated, unscientific. It doesn’t correspond with the physical realities we see today.
Reference this section of the original blog post:
According to the principle of quantum superposition, physical systems—such as Alice’s and Bob’s entangled particles—can simultaneously be in many different states, including ones which are mutually exclusive.
Catholic Scientist, there’s no question the universe is a physical system. There’s no reason to believe it behaves otherwise. I would argue that the universe as a whole should behave similarly, if not identically, to the smallest observed particle. And why shouldn’t it? Carl Sagan, for one, seems to believe this is true.
The pennies are both moving away from him and falling towards the center of the earth at the same time.
I should have specified that the penny analogy presumes the negation of friction and air resistance (both of which play no role in galactic physics).
Then could I recommend that you either make fewer posts, or get fewer things wrong?
You can. And you’re right. I didn’t mean to imply there’s a black hole singularity at the earth’s center. It’s my hope, and I assume the case is, that you knew I didn’t mean that.
From now on I’ll be more careful with my terminology. You physics types, at least in this forum, seem to carry a premium in this category—which I respect. I must say that where I come from people make an effort to engage in Good Faith dialogue whenever possible.
But seriously, Dr Adequate, this is a website dedicated to evolution vs. creation and we clearly have no qualms in that arena. I will say that I respect your attention to detail and phrasing—two things I also hold in high regard.
JUST REMEMBER WE’RE ON THE SAME TEAM, DUDE.
You are correct that gravity of singularity causes the distance between two objects lying along the line to the singularity would increase with time due to tidal effects. However there is a second gravitational effect that produces a compression of separations perpendicular to the direction towards a singularity. Yet that compression is not observed. The observed isotropic expansion does not match your proposal.
I think you’re referring to spaghettification. My response to this is that the galaxies we can observe from earth are not close enough to the Singularity to observe this phenomenon.
So to wrap up this rather longwinded post, I must request that any questions henceforth will be directed at something either mentioned or implied and not answered in the original blog post.
In other words, why isn’t the universe a black hole?
You better be careful about making your reasoning circular...
All reasoning is circular. This circularity belongs even to the most rigorous of traditions, including science, mathematics, and logic. Give me one truth arrived at by noncircular reasoning and you’ve solved a foundational epistemological conundrum—the problem of contemporary philosophy.
And I don't understand how you can have trouble digesting and understanding something you yourself wrote. No offense, but doesn't that mean that you're just making shit up?
No offense taken. And I guess I am just making shit up—but how else would any progress occur? People come up with theories and those theories are tested. General Relativity, for example, was considered balls crazy until it wasn’t proven wrong by people staring at a solar eclipse. Falsification is the name of the game in science. In fact, the only thing scientists really know for sure—I mean with 100% certainty—about anything, is that they’re wrong. It’s a historical fact that science has always progressed through paradigms, which are closer to the truth, but never the Truth itself.
You seem to answer your own question here but I’d like to try to respond to everything. You said:
How so? What physical realities are you seeing today that suggest that the concepts “expanding” and “contracting” as being polar opposites is outdated and unscientific?
I’ve already given an answer to this, which you sort of touched on: the principle of quantum superposition. This is an empirically verifiable physical reality; a fact. You said:
Sure, but because one counterintuitive thing can be real doesn't mean that they all are. And things that happen on quantum levels don't really translate to the macro states that expanding and contracting apply to.
It is my understanding that scientists, particularly physicists, are working to explain how matter moves through space and time. Things that happen on a quantum level necessarily translate to the macro states because they literally comprise the foundation of those states. Physicists are not trying to discover the mysterious mechanisms behind one or the other. They want to explain both. AND THEY’LL BE THE FIRST TO ADMIT THEY HAVEN’T REACHED A GENERAL CONSENSUS. They might never.
So people here that claim or feign to know for certain that the BHUM model is incorrect have simply missed the point.
I’m not saying I’m right. I admit I have no idea, for sure, what sorts of rules (or Rule) govern this amazing cosmos. All I’m saying is—which many people have said before—is that it seems, according to empirical observation, that our universe seems to behave like what I’ve described here:
So far nobody has raised a single meaningful reason why this is not the case.
You raised a reasonable objection by saying that the universe, according to the BHUM, would actually appear to be contracting. I asked you:
Where would an observer need to be positioned for the universe to “look like it’s contracting”?
Anywhere inside it, during the phase in which it is in fact contracting.
You can't be inside it. The surface is spacetime.
After drawing your attention back to the paper analogy (please reference the previous post) you said:
And I am in the universe. In the analogy, I am embedded in the paper.
Even if an observer was “embedded in the paper”—a scenario completely of your own invention—in this analogy there’s no conceivable way the universe would appear to be contracting. An observer buried or “embedded” anywhere in “the paper” of this analogy—the skin of the apple—would observe an expanding universe according to Hubble's Law.
If I’m wrong please paste a picture with a point on the apple where an observer sees a contracting universe…
Since the singularity—in this clearly inadequate 3-dimensional representation—is omnipresent (the core of the apple) everything is always moving away, thus representing to the observer an expanding universe. The question of whether or not the universe is actually expanding or contracting is moot.
IT APPEARS TO BE EXPANDING FOR ANY OBSERVER AYWHERE.
This point is unarguable. Even if the BHUM is completely wrong according to this analogy an observer will always observe an expanding universe.
Does anyone want to talk about why this couldn’t be the case???
If time progresses from the bottom to the top of the apple
Time does not progress from the bottom to the top of the apple. According to the BHUM time is essentially unreal as with the majority of other multiverse theories.
If the skin of the apple represents the universe, then the Big Bang singularity is at the bottom of the apple, and the Big Crunch singularity is at the top of the apple. There is no singularity at the center of the apple, and the notion of a singularity being there is completely meaningless, since there is no "there" there.
The point of the apple analogy was to show that the Big Bang and Big Crunch singularity are the same thing. The universe both originates from and collapses into the same point—the singularity at the center of the apple.
Something like this:
But again, the universe is not a 3-dimensional object so debating the merits of the apple analogy is a waste of time.
@ Catholic Scientist
Sure I have:
Macroscopic things cannot contract and expand at the same time.
A macroscopic object cannot expand towards a singularity, it has to contract at some point.
The behavior of macroscopic objects cannot be described by quantum mechanics.
Your first two points assume that General Relativity (GR) provides a complete description of all physical phenomena. It also contains the implicit premise that the universe as a whole should be treated as an ordinary macroscopic object. We know for certain that GR is an incomplete theory and the jury is still out on the nature of the universe.