Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and God

The scientific crusade to prove the non-existence of God continues unabated with some of the most nagging questions simply ignored or explained with some very labored theories, ranging from multiple universes, multi-dimensions, to permanence and multiple big bangs and big crunches. Unfortunately while scientists feel comfortable that they can explain everything that happened from the first Pico-second AFTER the Big Bang, they cannot come to any agreement as to what existed before the Big Bang or what motivated it without incorporating some idiotic superstition like God.

Of course the first problem lies with space itself. Did space exist before the Big Bang? Some say that it did but then space is expanding and if that is so, then it must have been smaller at some point. This line of reasoning leads to the more popular position that the Big Bang created not just all energy but space itself, because no matter how small that primordial pinprick of energy was it had to have space in which to exist at all. So at some point billions of years ago, there was an enormous explosion of energy that created space, time, and energy, but did that initial burst of energy create light? After all light is composed of photons but then light itself has some mysterious properties since it behaves as both a wave and a particle, but particles did not come until later and this brings us to another serious question.

If the Big Bang consisted of an explosion of energy – precisely what type of energy was that? Apparently it was Electro-Magnetic Energy, Gravity, the Weak Force, and the Strong Force. Of course these last two are rather mysterious but in order to explain was to come these energies had to have been there at the outset. We are also told this explosion of energy was extremely hot with temperatures exceeding those of the Sun. At the precise moment of creation only energy existed but this mega-energy burst very quickly broke apart into Gravity, with the remaining three energy forms continuing for a period before splitting into their respect forms. Once freed the weak and strong forces began immediately to gather up the electro-magnetic energy and form it into atoms. Up to this point there were no electrons, neutrons, or protons, but were there sub-atomic particles? After all we are told that protons and atoms are made up of “sub-atomic” particles which imply that these existed first but precisely what are these and where do they exist? Currently scientists can only tell you where they were because all they can see are the trails they leave behind but precisely where they were before entering our reality and where they went as they exited is simply unknown. But this is where the magic begins.

In this gigantic explosion of energy everything that was ever to be was created thus establishing the laws governing the conservation of energy and mass. Everything in the universe is made up of the same protons, electrons, and neutrons but these were created by the weak and strong forces gathering energy – which had to have been in a wave form since there were no particles as yet – and forming it into various atoms and molecules which in turn formed everything else including all life forms. Somehow all of this energy coalesced into the protons, electrons, and neutrons that make up the universe today but also along the way photons, gravitons, and now the mysterious Higgs-Boson were created, with this last energy (particle?) being the explanation as to why all of these energy forms have mass. It seems that in spite of all of the science and speculation explaining how we got to where we are there remains a little problem regarding mass. It seems that weight-wise a large part of the universe is missing. Space is empty when it shouldn’t be so science has postulated that empty space isn’t really empty it is filled with invisible Jelly Donuts which for argument’s sake we can call “Dark Matter” – flavor unknown. Precisely where this dark matter is, what shape it has, where it came from, and what its purpose might be is unknown.

More than likely it is made up of some particle(s) such as the elusive sub-atomic particles that are traveling at speeds greater than light, which is why they can’t be seen. But accepting the fact that there is such a thing as dark matter, scientists have discovered that the universe is not slowing its expansion but it is actually speeding up with stars on the periphery of space traveling at speeds very near the speed of light – and accelerating. The implication is that there is some great force pulling our universe apart which is why these galaxies are accelerating but this force is also unknown and invisible, so in a burst of scientific creativity this mysterious force has been named “Dark Energy”. I prefer to call it God.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

GOD, Physics, and the Hadron

The world of science is beside itself with anticipation that the new Hadron Collider will finally demonstrate the non-existence of God. This marvelous machine is intended to demonstrate the existence of the Higgs Boson which is a particle that gives mass in some magical way to all other particles. Of course the real problem is that there really are no particles at all, that is none of the particles that scientists like to play with and that are discussed and taught around the world really exist. The Hadron Collider is not only supposed to locate the Higgs Boson but it is also expected to give insight into what happened in the instant of the Big Bang. Unfortunately the real objective is to understand the “science” behind the Big Bang without having to actually come to grips with God, because the truly important questions will remain unanswered.

Prior to the Big Bang there was no space, no time, no energy, no particles, nothing – nothing at all. So what was there? Well no one knows – that is no scientist knows and certainly no atheist knows – there was nothing. So the first question if there was nothing then what triggered the Big Bang? Remember the first thing that the Big Bang had to do was to create space itself because the expanding universe had to fit into something and that was space. Once there was a space then there was a place for all of that incredible energy. So the second question must be what kind of energy was initially created? Well it must have been light (does that sound familiar), heat, and radiation plus other forms of energy but not necessarily gravity, because there was no mass because there were no particles – just energy.

Now this energy was expanding and filling space at an incredible speed, but less than the speed of light. But somehow all of this energy began to coalesce into particles – subatomic particles but precisely how this was done is mostly speculation because there were no particles so there couldn’t be any gravity, but then light has mass because it is composed of photons but were photons created as part of the Big Bang? Light has some really mysterious properties because while it has mass and can be bent by gravity it also acts as a wave so was the light emitted in the Big Bang a wave or a burst of particles? Apparently almost immediately after the Big Bang the released energy began to form particles, a process that apparently remains hidden since it is not ongoing and cannot be duplicated. So once these sub-atomic particles formed they immediately began to join together to create protons, electrons, and neutrons. These are the universal particles that make up the entire universe and everything in it, except of course dark matter—whatever that is- gravity, and the other forces and particles that remain invisible. The really important point is that everything in the universe is pure energy and why that energy has mass is unknown. Of course this what the Higgs Boson is supposed to do – it is supposed to the particle that produces mass in these energy fields called protons, photons, neutrons, and electrons.

The theory is that in the instant following the Big Bang all of this energy began to take on mass and coalesce into particles and then atoms and then molecules, which produced the various elements, which collected together under the influence of gravity which ultimately created all of the stars and planets. All of this can be explained by science even though parts remain speculative. Unfortunately some very uncomfortable questions remain, not the least of which is what caused the Bib Bang in the first place and where did that pin point of energy come from? Beyond that is why do things that are virtually invisible have mass? If every proton, electron, and neutron in the universe is identical why do some have life? Why do some think and some do not? How did life begin? These are the questions the Higgs Boson is supposed to provide the pathway to answers.

Of course it doesn’t take much of a stretch if you subscribe to the myth of God, to come up with some rather simple answers. When you read the first chapters of Genesis you get a pretty accurate, if somewhat poetic, description of the creation of the universe and life on Earth. Somehow I think the Hadron Super Collider will produce some interesting observations but no answers to any of these questions.