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From the Big Bang to the Big Crunch and Everything in Between: A Simplified Look at a Not-So-Simple Universe

From the Big Bang to the Big Crunch and Everything in Between: A Simplified Look at a Not-So-Simple Universe

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From the Big Bang to the Big Crunch and Everything in Between: A Simplified Look at a Not-So-Simple Universe

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5/5 (1 valutazione)
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278 pagine
4 ore
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Pubblicato:
Oct 7, 2011
ISBN:
9781462016990
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

In our passionate curiosity to unravel the mysteries of the world, life, and the universe, humans have contrived numerous theories, both scientific and religious, with each claiming more relevance than the last. Despite all of these influential postulates, however, the real truth remains obscured to us, as it likely will until the moment of our eventual extinction. In From the Big Bang to the Big Crunch and Everything in Between: A Simplified Look at a Not-So-Simple Universe, Dr. Vlad Van Rosenthal explores the subjects made complex by science and religionthose concerning our planet, our solar system, and our civilization.

Van Rosenthals compelling and accessible style introduces us to the fundamental explanations of the origin and future of our universe and of human life. From the cataclysmic explosion at the beginning to the one at the endeither from asteroids colliding with the earth, the nuclear explosion of nearby stars, or the fatal swelling of our own sunwe are a unique species on an unique planet that has most likely seen numerous civilizations and will hopefully see many more. We are all invited to form and debate our own perspectives on the earth, time, and space, for we are truly beholden to no ones mind but our own.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Oct 7, 2011
ISBN:
9781462016990
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Vlad Van Rosenthal, MD, was born and educated in the Soviet Union, where he received a prestigious national award for historical writings as well as threats for his “politically incorrect” reviews of Soviet literature. Van Rosenthal has lived in the United States for the past thirty years and is a physician in private practice.

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Anteprima del libro

From the Big Bang to the Big Crunch and Everything in Between - Vlad Van Rosenthal,

book

Prologue

To the reader:

We humans, as an intelligent species, are curious about our microworld—what is inside the atoms—but we are really fascinated by our macroworld—the world beyond our planet and solar system, beyond our view and reach, even beyond our imagination.

There are numerous publications covering this subject written by famous physicists, astrophysicists, and mathematicians. These publications are loaded with technical jargon and mathematical explanations.

There are two types of books on the subject of our existence. One is the religious kind, written by members of clergy, in which quotations from the scripture are presented as indisputable postulates of our history. The other type is written by scientists; in this type, physical laws are quoted as postulates of household knowledge.

Although these two kinds of books are as different as two sides of a magnet, they have something in common: all of these books are full of terminology, technical or theological.

Since this book is not written by a representative of either of the above categories of authors, it will lack almost any terminology, unless it is absolutely necessary, and in that case, the complete explanation of the term will follow.

Humans’ passionate curiosity to unravel the mysteries of the world, life, and the universe brings forth numerous theories, with each claiming to be more factual and relevant than the rest.

There are many professionals in the field who do not agree with each other. Some of these disagreements have been resolved by time and discoveries, but others are still up in the air. In this book, I try to reflect current knowledge and opinions on the subject of our existence and introduce for debate different interpretations as well. I have taken the liberty to suggest some unorthodox alternative interpretations. Do not dismiss them just because they were introduced by an amateur. Remember, according to legend, Noah’s Ark was built and navigated by an amateur and survived its amazing journey, but the Titanic was built and navigated by the best professionals of its time but had a tragic end.

I am an amateur on this topic in the sense of someone who engages in it as a pastime rather than as a profession. My scientific background includes years of medical school, and I extended this knowledge into more specific areas of nuclear physics and astrophysics. I wrote this book because relevant information has been scattered over hundreds of books and publications. For someone who is interested in the whole picture, it is easier to see all related information under one cover written for the general public.

Some of these theories are easy to understand, and some are difficult for someone outside of the specialized field.

This book is not written for members of the so-called flat-earth society or for people who believe that evolution is limited to a progression from potty training to party pooper.

Even with a number of theories on the subject equally influential and opposing each other at hand, the real truth still remains a mystery to humankind for now and probably for the foreseeable future.

This book is about our planet and our solar system, our universe and parallel universes, our civilization, and the destiny that awaits humanity.

I hope that reading this book will be as informative as it is entertaining.

Part I

The Past

Chapter 1

The Big Bang

God, before creating

the world, took off all

the directions and

started the all world

from the tiny dot by

spreading light all over.

The Kabbalah

We do not know who created the world, but according to the presently dominant idea, it indeed started from the tiny dot. A cataclysmic explosion, called the Big Bang, is presently accepted as the single scientific explanation for the creation of our universe.

The question about a scientific origin of everything became a subject for widespread discussion and interpretation less than a century ago. Prior to that, there was no such question. If someone did ask about origins, the answer was simple: the world was created in six days, the Earth was the center of the universe, and so on. Even with the invention of telescopes, when we realized that the universe is much larger than we thought, its origin still was not questioned, and millennia-long ideas were not challenged.

Everything we see and know as existing in our universe was a product of a single event about 14.5 billion years ago called the Big Bang. At the present time, the Big Bang is the best and perhaps the only explanation for the origin of our universe.

The Big Bang occurred at the moment of zero time, when the universe was at zero size and when laws of physics did not exist.

To understand how small space was at zero size, let’s imagine the tip of a needle and then decrease this size a billion times. Even if we can call this size infinitely small, it is still many billions times larger than a zero size.

To describe time, which did not exist before the Big Bang, the term absolute minimum time was invented.

Since time did not exist before the Big Bang, that means nothing happened before it. This was a time before the beginning of time, as we know it, and it is called singularity. Singularity is a state of infinite density, gravity, and curvature surrounded by empty space. There are no laws of physics as we presently know it that can explain exactly what it was, because singularity represents an unphysical state when gravity becomes infinitely strong and all matter and energy were concentrated at one point, at which all laws of physics would break down. Time and space were created at the singularity. Actually, according to quantum physics, the density of the singularity has a limit: its size would be 10(-33), which is smaller than an atomic nucleus. At the singularity, all laws of physics were invalid, because all quantities become infinite values.

Singularity really is a mathematical term representing a region of space. The characteristics of singularity are the curvature, which is infinite, and the radius, which is zero. As an example, let’s try to squeeze a football into a tennis ball, then into the size of a Ping-Pong ball, then into the size of an atom, then into the nucleus of an atom, and finally into the size of an subatomic particle or even smaller. Each time we decrease the size of the object, its radius decreases, but its curvature increases. Eventually it reaches the stage of singularity.

At the stage of singularity, everything is broken into the smallest denominators or ingredients, meaning there is no more division that can take place. In this state, mass has no volume; space is so small that it can be considered as nonexistent. Singularity is what was before the beginning of everything, and it is the ultimate end of everything.

If we were able to go back to the beginning of everything, we could only go back as far as singularity, since there was nothing before singularity. Usually, singularity is located in the center of a black hole; but in the case of the beginning of everything, it started from a so-called naked singularity, which is a space-time singularity that is not surrounded by a black hole. This singularity would be visible to an outside observer if there were one to observe it.

Regular singularity differs from the naked singularity by being always surrounded by a horizon that hides the singularity from view. In regular singularity, space bends around the object so much that it prevents anything, including light and information about the singularity, from leaving it. The famous physicist Penrose called this phenomenon the conjecture of cosmic censorship, but the no-less-famous physicist Stephen Hawking defines this generally accepted opinion and suggests that it is not entirely correct. According to him, information other than about the singularity itself may leak from the singularity.

Our existence started with a singularity and will end with a singularity. What happens to matter at the point of singularity is still unknown. It is also unknown what set the Big Bang in motion, so the question of creation is still in the air.

The first person who came up with an idea that the universe had a beginning was a Belgian astronomer Monsignor Georges Le Maitre in 1927. Le Maitre, using Einstein’s conclusion that the universe is expanding, logically assumed that in this case the universe must start from some point, meaning it had to have a beginning.

In 1929, using his studies of the shift of color in distant galaxies toward the red end of the spectrum, which is called the redshift, Edwin Hubble confirmed that the universe indeed is expanding and all galaxies are flying apart from each other in all directions and at great speed. The farther away a galaxy is, the greater would be its redshift.

The term the Big Bang was first used by astronomer Fred Hoyle in 1948. He meant it as a negative term, because he was a major opponent of this theory.

However, it is now generally accepted that all energy and matter currently in our universe was created at the time of the Big Bang and the total amount of all energy and matter created hasn’t changed since that moment.

Technically, the Big Bang was a manifestation of eruption of matter and radiation, which created everything from nothing, but what is more difficult to comprehend is that it happened everywhere and happened instantly. Matter, energy, space, and time were created in an instant from a volume smaller than an atomic nucleus. The products of this explosion began to fly away in all directions 14.5 billion years ago, and they will continue to fly until the end of the universe.

At the time of the Big Bang, time and the entire universe began from the point of infinite density and infinitely hot matter.

The smallest amount of time scientists have ever measured was termed attosecond, which is a billionth of a billionth of a second. But when we are talking about the time of the Big Bang, even this extremely small amount of time is too large.

Time, as we know it, began with the first calculable time, which is called the first chronon. This is an extremely small amount of time. The chronon is the billionth part of the billionth part of the billionth part of the billionth part of the billionth part of one second. It is hard to imagine that the entire Big Bang was over during the first chronon.

Fred Hoyle introduced a steady state theory. According to his theory, the universe is not only much older than astronomers indicate, but it has always existed that way and always will. Einstein, initially, also supported the idea that the universe is static; and in order to preserve his concept of a static universe, he even added an equation, called the cosmological constant. He introduced a repulsive force, which is supposed to balance gravitational force, which is trying to collapse the universe back to singularity. This cosmological constant theoretically is supposed to keep the universe in a state of equilibrium. When Edwin Hubble discovered that our universe was constantly expanding, Einstein’s cosmological constant was no longer useful, and at that time Einstein considered this constant as the biggest blunder of his life and the worst mistake he had ever made. Apparently, Einstein did not make a mistake: this cosmological constant was a real thing, but it took physicists over half a century to realize its meaning.

The key factor in the explosion of the Big Bang was temperature. Right after the Big Bang, the temperature of the universe was a hundred thousand billion billion, billion degrees Kelvin. The universe then was so hot that all four presently known forces of nature—gravitational, electromagnetism, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force—were combined in one, and it was represented by a single, so-called super force. In less than a billionth of a second after the Big Bang, gravity split from the other forces of nature.

Here is the sequence of events in our universe’s development during the first fractions of a second:

• 10(-43) seconds after the Big Bang, the universe’s temperature was 10(32) degrees (10 with 32 zeros), and its size was 10(-33)cm.

• From 10(-37) second to 10(-33)second after the Big Bang, the fabric of space and time expanded faster than light—in a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second.

According to MIT’s Alan Guth’s inflationary universe theory, a mysterious antigravity force caused the universe to expand much faster at that time than it does now. This theory did not violate Einstein’s Law, which states that nothing can travel faster than light. Einstein’s theory of special relativity made the speed of light a universal speed limit for all material motion in empty space, but Einstein’s limit applies only to objects moving within space and not to the expansion of space itself. It was and still is the only time when Einstein’s Law did not apply.

The extreme speed was not the only unimaginable factor at the time of the Big Bang. The volume of the universe increased by a factor of 10 to the fiftieth power, or 1 followed by 150 zeroes, in a fraction of a second. The present rate of the universe’s expansion is 70 kilometers, or forty-three miles per second. This rate of the expansion of our universe is called the Hubble constant.

The aftereffect of the Big Bang cannot be seen today with a naked eye; it can be viewed only on a microscopic scale, which is a scale below 0.01 mm. For this purpose, physicists use special units of measurement, called planck units after German physicist Max Planck. Planck’s length is about 10(-35) centimeters, which is the size of a string in string theory. Planck’s time is about 10(-43) seconds; this is the amount of time it takes light to travel the distance of the Planck’s length. Planck’s mass is 10(-5) grams. Planck’s constant is the minimal amount of matter in order for particles of this matter to be the product of the uncertainty in position and velocity. As small as it is, on atomic scales, Planck’s mass is very large; it corresponds to 10(19) hydrogen atoms.

Planck’s measurements represent the smallest possible measurements that can be made.

As the universe continued to expand and to cool, what was once a unified force divided into the electroweak force and the strong nuclear force. Then, the electroweak force split into the electromagnetic and the weak nuclear forces.

–––––––––––––––––––––

With all his achievements, Planck’s reputation was tarnished by his collaboration with Hitler. His former friend, Albert Einstein, never forgave him for that.

–––––––––––––––––––––

In one second after the Big Bang, the universe cooled to 10 billion degrees. At the same time, it extended from something smaller than a subatomic particle to the present size of the universe.

Two minutes after the Big Bang, the temperature dropped below 100 million degrees; this was the time for atomic nuclei to form. At this temperature, matter consisted of a mixture of unattached simple nuclei of atoms and free electrons.

According to the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, matter was created out of the gravitational energy of the universe in the form of pairs of particle/antiparticle. Every subatomic particle has a mirror image particle: an antiparticle, which has the same mass but opposite charge. If subatomic antiparticles exist, so the matter consisting of these particles must exist—anti-matter. If antimatter and matter collide, they would annihilate each other in an explosion.

Per Einstein’s equation, their mass would be converted into an enormous amount of energy. Considering that antimatter and matter cannot coexist, we do not anticipate antimatter to be present on Earth, but it could exist somewhere else in the universe.

Today, the negative gravitational energy of the universe is balanced by the positive energy of matter.

One hour after the Big Bang, the universe still maintained a temperature of about a million degrees, which kept all the matter in the universe in its first stage, plasma. (Fluorescent light is an example of plasma.) Presently, plasma is rare on Earth, but it comprises 99 percent of all visible matter in our universe.

At that time, because of extreme temperature, electrons were moving too quickly to settle into orbits around the nuclei; instead, the nuclei and electrons bounced off one another. The light was overwhelming, but it would have been impossible to see anything, because light, at this time, scattered repeatedly off the particles in the plasma, resulting in the universe being like a fog. Visible light is made of radiation quanta, called photons, which are bundles of electrical and magnetic energy.

One hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, cosmic radiation ceased to interact with matter. At this time, the universe was a mixture of hydrogen nuclei, electrons, and photons.

Three hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, the temperature of the universe had dropped below 3,000 degrees Kelvin. At that time, cosmic radiation decreased to a level that allowed atoms to form and no longer prevented light from traveling. This was a time of transition of matter from plasma to gas. Electrons acquired permanent orbits around the nuclei of the first atoms of hydrogen and helium. These two elements made up 99 percent of all visible matter.

Energy started forming mass. The universe became full of gaseous particles. From then on, light started to interact with gas and not with plasma, which changed the behavior of the light. The cosmic fog cleared, and visible light was released; our universe finally became transparent as we see it today, and the cosmos was filled up with photon light.

As temperature and radiation were dropping further and matter continued to decrease in density from its smooth distribution, the matter broke apart. Through gravitational attraction, it clumped together in huge clumps, which eventually became galaxies.

From the moment of the Big Bang, matter underwent different transformations under different temperatures.

There are four states of matter: From plasma, where the temperature was so hot that electrons were free—to gas where molecules cannot hold together; then to liquid, where molecules bond together but not tight enough to hold, allowing them to flow. Water is an example—to solid, which is the coolest state of matter; the temperature is less than 0 C., when atoms and molecules are locked together-ice is an example.

The coolest state of matter is solid; the temperature is less than 0°C, when atoms and molecules are locked together. Ice is an example of a solid.

The Big Bang marked the beginning of our finite universe. What will be the end of this universe is still a question, but it definitely has an end.

Chapter 2

Forces of Nature

There are four known fundamental forces recognized in physical nature, and all elementary particles in our universe interact by these forces. These forces are: gravity, electromagnetism, the weak nuclear force, and the strong nuclear force.

The first force is gravity. Gravity holds all large objects in place, such as planets in orbit and us on Earth. G is the designation for the force of one unit of Earth’s gravity. The acceleration of a rocket is also measured in Gs. The number of Gs is a multiple of the force of the Earth’s gravity. Without gravity, there would be no atmosphere, and all the planets of the solar system would fly away. The sun would explode, since nothing would balance its nuclear force.

Gravity is considered the glue of the universe; it binds matter in bulk. Gravity’s force is strictly attractive. It is the weakest force of nature, but its range is infinite. On the level of elementary particles, gravity counts for almost nothing.

An enormous amount of mass is needed to obtain a mass capable of exerting gravity. The entire biggest mountain does not create enough gravitational force to hold a single human hair. It would take the entire 6 trillion trillion kilograms of Earth’s weight to hold a single hair to the ground.

Without gravity, life on Earth would be impossible.

Antigravity is the opposite of gravity; it is a repulsive rather than an attractive force.

Antigravity caused the universe to inflate from the beginning of time and is causing the universe to accelerate today. (Acceleration is a change in an object’s speed or direction.) This force has no practical implications on Earth.

The second force of nature is electromagnetism. Electromagnetic forces move electrically charged particles. If we touch a hair with a comb, the electromagnetic force through the static electricity of the comb instantly overcomes the Earth’s gravity and lifts the hair. The electromagnetic force is stronger than gravity by ten to the fortieth power (1 followed by 40 zeros). The electromagnetic force holds atoms together in molecules.

Electromagnetism is responsible for our body appearing the way it does, as well as everything around us. Electromagnetism can be attractive or repulsive, positive or negative. Electromagnetic force is made of quanta, which are called photons. Electromagnetic force takes a variety of forms, including electricity, magnetism, and light itself. Electromagnetism is the force between charged particles; it pulls particles of opposite electric charge together. At the time of the Big Bang, electromagnetic radiation filled the universe; but by now, after 14.5 billion years, it has become a weak radio noise.

The third force of nature is the weak nuclear force. It has very short range and affects all except force-carrying particles. The weak force controls certain forms of particle emissions, such as radioactive decay during disintegration of atoms, when a neutron transforms through weak force into an electron, a proton into a neutrino. The nucleus breaks up in decay due to the fact that the weak nuclear force is not strong enough to hold the nucleus of the atom together. Nuclear fuel and radioactivity as well represent the weak nuclear force. It also plays a role in heating up the center of the Earth by

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    In our passionate curiosity to unravel the mysteries of the world, life, and the universe, humans have contrived numerous theories, both scientific and religious, with each claiming more relevance than the last. Despite all of these influential postulates, however, the real truth remains obscured to us, as it likely will until the moment of our eventual extinction.