The Multiverse fanatics use “Quantum Fluctuations” to justify the existence of the… Universe. Their logic rests on the famous, and deep, inequality:
(Time Uncertainty) (Energy Uncertainty) > (Planck Constant).
I have an accompanying drawing of sorts which relates the preceding to the better known inequality called the “Uncertainty Principle”:
(Uncertainty Position) (Uncertainty Momentum) > (Planck Constant = h).
Uncertainty actually is not as much a “Principle” as a theorem (both inequalities are demonstrated below). The entire subject is very interesting philosophically, as we will see. The lessons are far-ranging, and all over. Yet recent physics textbooks have been eschewing the philosophical character of what is done, within the logic of physics, and stick to soulless formalism. The result has been an entire generation ill-equipped to handle philosophical questions (and yet, they are now forced to do so). Before I get into the philosophy, which appear later, let me roll out the basic physics.
OK, let’s give a few more details (hidden by implication arrows above). The Position-Momentum inequality is rather obvious, once one has got the basic quantum picture of the photon as a wave, and how it relates to energy.
- To locate an object V, one needs to see it. That means ricochet a photon of it (we have nothing better than photons to see… Although some French guy got the Nobel for seeing photons with atomic phase changes, but that’s another story).
- So throw photon P on V. To hit V, P needs a smaller wavelength W than L, the diameter of V. Otherwise, P being a wave when it moves, or, more exactly, explores space supraluminally, it will turn around V.
- The momentum of the photon P is inverse to W. [This is Energy = h (Frequency)]
- So the smaller L, the harder the photon P will hit the object V. That is, the smaller the localization of V, the greater the momentum of V.
So localizing a particle kicks it. How do we get to Energy-Time Uncertainty from there? The Standard Model (which is proven and consistent in its present very restricted domain: no gravity, etc.) has three classes of particles, one of them the class of force carriers. Force carriers go at the speed of light, c, and (thus) have zero mass (the Higgs gives them the appearance of mass as an afterthought).
So what do I do? Well momentum is basically energy (make c = 1), and time is space (thanks to c, measuring time is measuring space and reciprocally). Thus Position-Momentum becomes Time-Energy (the “real” proof as found in Messiah’s basic QM textbook involves functional analytic manipulations, but I doubt it really says more!)
[There are slick derivations of Time-Energy relationship using functional analysis. I am not so sure they make sense… As time is not really an observable in Quantum Physics. My primitive derivation found in the drawing is extremely basic, thus much more powerful. Their main advantage would be to mesmerize undergraduate.]
How Quantum Field Theory (QFT) Blossomed:
Philosophically, the rise of QFT is all about inventing new weird logics. Modern logic comprises Classical Logic, but has gone much further (multivalued logic, fuzzy logic, paradoxal logic, to quote just a few). Basically it has gone in realms where all the rules of classical logic fail. And physics has not come short, but made equally impressive contributions in weirdness.
Let me hasten to add that I find all this very valuable. De Broglie made reasonings I still do not understand. Dirac got the idea that the wave (equation) should be the primary axiom (getting spinor space, where electrons roam, from it, and then spin, anti-matter, etc.).
In QFT the Time-Energy Uncertainty plays a central role, and what is done is actually philosophically fascinating, and should inform the rest of philosophy:
- Time-Energy Uncertainty prevents to know fundamental processes if the product of uncertainty in Time, multiplied by the uncertainty in Energy is less than a constant (h).
- Thus, should such HIDDEN Fundamental Processes (HFP) occur, we won’t be able to detect them directly.
- Hence let’s suppose such HFP happen. Then let’s compute. We discover renormalization, and find end results which are different from those without the HFP.
- Check experimentally. What is found is that physics with HFP is correct, and physics without HFP is not.
- Einstein tried, but gave up on all this, after his friend Ehrenfest tried to teach them to him for three weeks at Princeton.
Philosophical lesson? Something can be hidden, in principle, and still have indirect, observable effects. (Application in politics? Think of the plutocrats’ most vicious ways, unobservable, in principle, as the media they control make sure of it. Yet, indirectly they are poisoning the world, and the world is dying.)
Some of Today’s Physicists Are Easily Philosophically Confused:
But let’s go back to pataphysics, it’s lot of fun. In the so-called Big Boom, time is supposed to go to zero. Pataphysicists reason that, then, as the uncertainty in time goes down to zero, the uncertainty in energy has got to tend to infinity. First problem: it’s not because the uncertainty on something goes to infinity, that this thing goes to infinity.
But the main problem is the easy way in which the time-energy uncertainty was derived above. If only that reasoning makes sense, it applies to particles, and even virtual particles (although some fully active physicists consider those virtual particles do not exist, only fields do, and Feynman himself was not sure, private conversation). Thus the reasoning above justifies Quantum Fluctuations as they are used in Quantum Field Theory… and, indeed, they are clearly a safe and effective theory there. They work so well that, according to EFFECTIVE ONTOLOGY, those virtual particles ought to exist (I am aware of the arguments against them, more on that another time).
Thus that particles can flicker in and out of existence because of Quantum Fluctuations, I have not only demonstrated in my very primitive (and thus very safe and effective) way, but nobody in the know can deny it happens, since QFT works, and proves the concept . During their brief existence, those virtual particles (or field fluctuations represented by particles, some sophists will insist) affect charge, mass, etc. and these renormalizations have been observed.
Notice that I said: flicker in and OUT of existence. Why OUT of existence? These particles flicker OUT of existence because of ENERGY CONSERVATION. Notice also that the universe does not flicker out of existence.
Pataphysicists Throw The Baby Out, And Drink The Dirty Water:
Physics is the search of basic axioms and the logic to bring them to life. One of these basic axioms is energy conservation.
This is what the pataphysicists propose to violate, as if they were Saudi paedophiles. Now violations can be justified in extraordinary circumstances (after all Aisha, who Muhammad married when she was six, came to love the Prophet more than any of his followers, and defended his work with her life, after His passing).
However the Big Boom theory of the creation of the universe is not such a great miracle, that it has to be preserved at all cost.
One should not throw the baby with the bath. Nor should one throw the baby out to preserve the dirty bath water. The precious baby is the principle of energy conservation. The dirty bath water is the Big Boom theory. That Big Bang already requires space to expand at zillion of times the speed of light. I have nothing against it, except it looks ad hoc. Pataphysicists have also smelled a rotten rat there, with that one and only, ad hoc inflation, too, so they say:
“Look at a blade of grass. What do you see? A blade of grass. But look beyond: here is another one blade of grass, and another, and another. Zillions of blades of grass. Then look at planets: zillions, And at stars: zillions, and galaxies too: zillions. Thus universes? Zillions too!”
It reminds me of the fable of the frog who wanted to make itself bigger than an ox. It was doing well, inflating itself, until it exploded in a Big Bang. Pataphysicists can inflate their minds as much as they want, it’s still all wind inside. Time-Energy uncertainty applies to Quantum Fields, inasmuch as it respects energy conservation. Agreed, it is only natural that those who got reputations out of nothing, feel now confident that they can get a universe out of nothing. After all, it’s what their existence is all about.
And the weirdest thing? There is a simple, a simpler, alternative to all the madness: the 100 billion years universe. We will see who wins. This is going to be fun.