Rabbits Full of Magic

20 August 2009

 

Space (I Don't Believe In)


I tend to read alot of popular science and a few things about the modern scientific worldview irks me. First off is the tendency to put an evolutionary spin (things in the past were worse than things are now) on everything including scientific theories. It is a troublesome thing because not only does it encourage a dogmatic and less critical view of current scientific trends and theories, but it goes to great depths to devalue work of the past as 'pseudoscience'. Take astrology for instance, not that I think you can determine anything too specific with the method. But to deny that planetary bodies have any influence on us at all is absurd, when the moon is widely known to have a tremendous influence on the tides and our own bodies are 2/3 water. Fact.

My second problem is that I feel the value of the Coastline Paradox has been greatly overlooked. In quantum mechanics there is a measurement problem because a measurement device itself will directly determine the outcome of the experiment, yet on the macro scale of the every day world this problem is present and is a wonderful example of the ultimately futile nature of science where measurement devices will only ever attain a certain finite amount of fidelity.

Lastly, and here's where my rant begins, is the popular concept of Space, which might be my own personal confusion of Euclidian and Realitivity models of the universe. Think about the Big Bang, and most people imagine a big infinite Space with the big bang taking place in that Space. However, if Space is the distance between things, and in the Big Bang there was by definition no distance between things, Space would not exist. Indeed, as wikipedia sums up rather nicely,

Relativity theory lead to the cosmological question of what shape the universe is, and where space came from. It appears that space was created in the Big Bang and has been expanding ever since.

Comprehending the Big Bang is a difficult experience for me, much more difficult than imagining a cosmic explosion in nonthingness. For one thing, I don't see how all the matter (a finite amount) in the universe can be compressed to an infinitely small/dense size. For another thing, I believe that the relationship between Space and matter is suspect to the Coastline Paradox in more ways than one, and that this is why we smash this apart and we find atoms and we smash those and find electrons and we smash those and find smaller and smaller things and the number of things we find keeps getting larger and less predictable; just like in the Coastline Paradox.
I don't think we'll ever get to the point where something is solidly defined, where we can say 'This is the end of the line and there is nothing beyond this' and be objectively true about it. Because Space is human construct just like time. Kant was right:

"According to Kant, knowledge about Space is synthetic, in that statements about Space are not simply true by virtue of the meaning of the words in the statement. In his work, Kant rejected the view that Space must be either a substance or relation. Instead he came to the conclusion that space and time are not discovered by humans to be objective features of the world, but are part of an unavoidable systematic framework for organizing our experiences."

Lucas, John Randolph. Space, Time and Causality, 1985


Space is, like time, a method of measurement. The common sense view of Space; that of outer Space, of a vast black nothingness, the Biblical 'void', is utterly absurd when considered with a rational mind. If Space is 'nothing', how can anything manifest itself in nothing? I suppose one work around this problem would be to say that by being nothing, and by containing no beginning or ending, Space is infinite; what the Hindus call Nirguna Brahman, that supreme reality which is without form, quality, and personality.

I think in the future what we will begin to realize is that Space and Time and (Human) Consciousness are intricately interwoven concepts that must be understood as a unified whole. At that point will be a massive, cosmic paradigm shift into a new phase of evolution.


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