What is the Universe expanding into..

Do you think there was anything before the big bang?

  • I don't think there was anything before the Big Bang

    Votes: 50 12.5%
  • I think something existed before the Big Bang

    Votes: 172 43.1%
  • I don't think the big bang happened

    Votes: 49 12.3%
  • I think the universe is part of a mutiverse

    Votes: 188 47.1%

  • Total voters
    399

volume knob

Member
Paid Member
2011-12-19 5:25 am
North Shore
Where is the outer edge of the universe though?

If there is someone at what appeared to be at the edge of the universe relative to us, they would still be in the center of the universe relative to them and we would appear to be at the edge of the universe

Infact, the edge of the universe is not the edge of anything, its the beginning of time as we know it
 
Why is it that laymen always feel it helpful to comment on physics which even physicists struggle to understand? I guess ignorance is a weaker constraint than knowledge!

As SY says, in physics it is possible to construct syntactically correct English sentences which are semantically meaningless. That may be why physicists tend to use mathematics instead of English. This is not done in order to baffle the laymen; that is just an unfortunate consequence. Sadly, in many English-speaking societies an ignorance of even basic mathematics is regarded as a social benefit yet people who might struggle to solve a quadratic equation feel happy to comment on non-Euclidean geometry!
 

Bonsai

Member
Paid Member
2003-07-25 10:44 pm
Europe
www.hifisonix.com
I may be wrong, but I don't think E=mc^2 popped into Einstein's head as an explanation for mass energy equivalency. I suspect things gradually unravelled in that very unique mind of his to the point where he felt he was able to use math to prove his theory. He was on record as saying he was not a great mathematician, and actually sought the help of a fellow professor to develop some of the special theory of relativity equations. (I forget the guys name - I have the book in storage, like a whole lot of other stuff ;)

That's not to say that other people don't come at it from a pure math aspect, but to claim that you cannot begin to explain something in a language is also too broad a statement in my view.

I see nothing wrong with layman armchair theorizing - it's human nature to ponder things, even if in most cases you are wrong.
 
I think Einstein saying he is not a great mathematician is a bit like Feynman (for example - I don't know if he ever said this, but it is the kind of thing he might have said) saying that he struggles to understand physics; their ignorance greatly exceeds the knowledge of the rest of us!

E=mc^2 didn't pop into Einstein's head. It emerges from the theory (i.e. the mathematics) when you consider relativistic kinetic energy and momentum.
 
5th, when it comes to these questions we're all in the coutry of Oz - into metaphysics... Whaterver we think about it can be true or false - 50-50 shot but nobody will know for a very very long time which bet won. So, to get more earthly - have you read my call for help on my old shigaclone you smartasses? Shouldnt take more than an hour to pinpoint the failing part ;)

Regards
 

Bonsai

Member
Paid Member
2003-07-25 10:44 pm
Europe
www.hifisonix.com
Yes, you are probably right about Einsteins math. But, he sufficiently aware if his limitations to seek help.

So, maybe I got ahead of myself on the E= mc^2 thing.

The question is how did the thought process evolve - from equations written down or did he have an idea that he mulled over, and then expressed in math?

Math forces you to develop your thoughts within a strictly defined set of rules, so that's where the value is. If it does not stand up to scrutiny, it's either rejected, or the math result points a different way forward.
 
Well it was Feynman who famously talked about imagination being an important prerequisite for a theoretical physicist wanting to break boundaries. I think imagination is a pretty important aspect for all things developmental mind you.

I do not think that Einstein mulled over mathematics when coming up with his ideas, nor do I think Feynman did when coming up with his theories. The maths probably played an important role in how far they let an idea take them, before realising that it was probably a bad, or good idea. But I don't think that most peoples minds sit on equations when coming up with new ideas.
 
Well it was Feynman who famously talked about imagination being an important prerequisite for a theoretical physicist wanting to break boundaries. I think imagination is a pretty important aspect for all things developmental mind you.

I do not think that Einstein mulled over mathematics when coming up with his ideas, nor do I think Feynman did when coming up with his theories. The maths probably played an important role in how far they let an idea take them, before realising that it was probably a bad, or good idea. But I don't think that most peoples minds sit on equations when coming up with new ideas.

Exactly, which is why it is a display of pure ignorance to poke fun at "laymen" commenting on questions of the Universe. Furthermore, since we are inextricably linked to the Universe (identical to it) it only follows that even a basic ontology can address cosmological questions.

The most epistemologically significant things ever said about the Universe were uttered not by modern physicists but by ancient mystics, such as Lao Tzu.

The pure "physicists" will of course scoff at this, as a display of their pride and ignorance.
 
Commenting on what is 'outside' the universe requires some idea of what is meant by 'outside' which presupposes some understanding of what is meant by 'inside'. If 'outside' is a meaningless concept, as it may be, then all such talk is pointless.

One of the differences between physicists (and other scientists) on the one hand and some laymen on the hand is that physicists are quite good at knowing just how ignorant they actually are; laymen can be blissfully unaware of this. It is, of course, considered rude for the person who knows more to point this out to the person who knows less; curiously, the person who knows less finds it quite acceptable to accuse the person who knows more of ignorance. I guess that is the price we pay for democracy.
 

Philosophil

Member
2013-09-16 6:58 pm
I'm not a mathematician and haven't touched the subject since first year calculus in university, but I think it's fair to regard mathematics as a kind of language. The degree of abstraction makes it a very unique language, no question about that, but it still qualifies as a language in my understanding of the term. One of the fundamental features of a language is that it should be translatable into other languages in a way that makes sense. This often requires the use of analogies, but there is nothing odd or strained in this as a good case can be made that language and thought are both inherently analogical anyway.

When physicists try to translate their mathematical ideas into ordinary language they have to use analogies. There's nothing wrong with this as long as the analogies are not carried too far (e.g. taken too literally as identify relations). Obviously, based on what physicists seem to claim, the idea that the universe in its modern theoretical sense has an edge or a boundary in the ordinary spatial senses of those terms (e.g. an inside and outside) is a highly problematic analogy. The problem seems to occur when we take the analogy too literally (which is hard not to do). So it falls upon those who are well versed in the mathematical language of modern physics to provide us with a better analogy, one that can help better translate the mathematical sense of space into something that would make sense within the domain of ordinary language. The example of the mobius strip is one such attempt.

Even if the task of translation is difficult, attempts to make sense of these things in mathematically lay terms are important both socially and politically. People are curious and many want to have a better sense of the world and their place within it, and the work that scientists (and mathematicians) do is central in helping to advance that understanding. Ridiculing and blaming mathematical lay persons for trying to understand things that are outside their areas of competence and expertise seems counterproductive for it discourages healthy inquiry, which I think ought to be fostered and encouraged whenever possible.

As for the important role of the imagination, I think that is one of the more overlooked aspects of creative inquiry that deserves far more attention than it has received, and those who bring it up are right to emphasize it's importance.
 
Commenting on what is 'outside' the universe requires some idea of what is meant by 'outside' which presupposes some understanding of what is meant by 'inside'. If 'outside' is a meaningless concept, as it may be, then all such talk is pointless.

One of the differences between physicists (and other scientists) on the one hand and some laymen on the hand is that physicists are quite good at knowing just how ignorant they actually are; laymen can be blissfully unaware of this. It is, of course, considered rude for the person who knows more to point this out to the person who knows less; curiously, the person who knows less finds it quite acceptable to accuse the person who knows more of ignorance. I guess that is the price we pay for democracy.

I agree. But perhaps it is possible for "laymen" to reach similar levels of understanding by virtue of a completely different approach? In other words, modern Physics is not the only path...

We look at it, and we do not see it, and we name it 'the
Equable.' We listen to it, and we do not hear it, and we name it 'the
Inaudible.' We try to grasp it, and do not get hold of it, and we
name it 'the Subtle.' With these three qualities, it cannot be made
the subject of description; and hence we blend them together and
obtain The One.

Its upper part is not bright, and its lower part is not obscure.
Ceaseless in its action, it yet cannot be named, and then it again
returns and becomes nothing. This is called the Form of the Formless,
and the Semblance of the Invisible; this is called the Fleeting and
Indeterminable.

We meet it and do not see its Front; we follow it, and do not see
its Back. When we can lay hold of the Tao of old to direct the things
of the present day, and are able to know it as it was of old in the
beginning, this is called (unwinding) the clue of Tao.
 
As an answer before the thread got warm:"Likewise, laymen also display their ignorance of mysticism.

"Mysticism", properly defined, is "the identification of the Self and the Universe". The Self, being identical to the Universe, is quite capable of this realization. Only the ego stands in its way."

Well, well... I rest my case cogitech. The answer might just as well define the edge of the universe ;)

Regards
 
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