The habits of the universe

 

The idea that time itself could cease to be in billions of years – and everything will grind to a halt – has been proposed by Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain. The corollary to this radical end to time itself is an alternative explanation for “dark energy” – the mysterious antigravitational force that has been suggested to explain a cosmic phenomenon that has baffled scientists…..

“We do not say that the expansion of the universe itself is an illusion,” he explains. “What we say it may be an illusion is the acceleration of this expansion – that is, the possibility that the expansion is, and has been, increasing its rate.”

If time gradually slows “but we naively kept using our equations to derive the changes of the expansion with respect of ‘a standard flow of time’, then the simple models that we have constructed in our paper show that an “effective accelerated rate of the expansion” takes place.”

– from The Daily Galaxy

I have a fondness for perspectives that stir up mainstream views, whether it is mainstream within a group or “mainstream” for me. Dark energy reminds us that for all we have learned about the universe, especially over the last century or so, there is still much more we don’t understand even when it comes to the basics such as the “laws” and “constants” of the universe. It may be that gravity operates differently from what we currently assume, or that time is not as constant as we think. There will always be more to learn and discover, some of which will turn our most basic and cherished assumptions on its head.

All maps, cosmologies, and stories about the world are projections of what is here now. They are within our own world of images, and we use them to orient, navigate, and make sense of the world. And the content of the stories also point at something we can find here now. In this case, they remind us that our most basic assumptions about the world are just that, assumptions. Sometimes very helpful. Never absolute truths.

Note: Just after writing this, I came across this story from NY Times.

“For me gravity doesn’t exist,” said Dr. Verlinde, who was recently in the United States to explain himself. Not that he can’t fall down, but Dr. Verlinde is among a number of physicists who say that science has been looking at gravity the wrong way and that there is something more basic, from which gravity “emerges,” the way stock markets emerge from the collective behavior of individual investors or that elasticity emerges from the mechanics of atoms.

Looking at gravity from this angle, they say, could shed light on some of the vexing cosmic issues of the day, like the dark energy, a kind of anti-gravity that seems to be speeding up the expansion of the universe, or the dark matter that is supposedly needed to hold galaxies together.

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In this case, mainly since  it is a reminder that the “laws” of the universe are not necessarily constant. It seems more reasonable to see them as habits of the universe, which may change over time or not.

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