Friday, 4 April 2014

Turtle Soup


Reading a recent New Scientist, I was intrigued by the recent findings of scientists at the BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole They've detected primordial gravitational waves in Deep Space, and this appears to support the theory of Inflation, that is, cosmic expansion, the instant where at the speed of light the early universe expanded from the size of a subatomic pissant to, well, everywhere. Scientists are also working on data from the Plank Space Telescope, which, if it corroborates the BICEP2 findings, may confirm the theory- or not.

An issue that arises from the mathematical models of Inflation is that there are several versions of the event. All apparently meet the mathematical requirement, but which flavour do we like best? Chaotic? Natural? Higgs-like?

To further complicate things, the waves recently detected appear more pronounced than the mathematical models predict. Gravitational waves could exist, entangled, with differences in density, but paradoxically this may in fact help rule out the theory altogether. Instead, the supporters of String Theory may have their day.

The String Theory example given is that of a rolled-up piece of paper, representing a nine-dimensional universe. Around it are rubber bands. The bands are in fact vibrating strings, and if any of these strings meet or cross, a twisted loop can be formed (so states the model), which would release three dimensions of space and one of time. Arguments against String Theory are based on the fact that it comes without data. If the BICEP2/Plank data disallows the theory of Inflation, we may find ourselves in the even wilder reaches of ST.

It occurred to me that when the Big Bang is depicted through a video graphic, even on programmes where Science is the main focus, we are shown the event as though viewing an explosion from a safe distance. How can this be? If we are viewing a representation of BB, there is nothing else, so from what platform are we observing the phenomenon? Big black space, then in the middle of it, Big Bang. Go figure.

There are cultures, from the Hindu to the Delaware Indians, that believe the world rests on the back of a giant turtle, termed by the Chinese as Black Warrior and elsewhere simply as the Great Turtle. While it may seem absurd, it should give us pause for thought. Where space-time can be proved to exist as the result of the crossing of vibrating strings around a nine-dimensional universe rolled up like an evening paper, the turtle thing doesn't sound so far-fetched; I think we should add it into the theoretical mix. 

After all, watching Big Bang going off like a firecracker in the distance, we're probably standing on something.

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