ScifiHorizons 10th Anniversary Edition


The Universe Today

 Persus Cluster

Arrogance is a means to its own end


  Welcome to yet another ScifiHorizons special edition of The Universe Today! As readers familiar to this site already know, the goal of TUT is to provide thought provoking alternatives to current scientific theories, using real world data! This issue certainly qualifies that statement. While the articles contained herein may not be the grand finale’ of this series, they should be considered as the culmination of all that has been discussed in the previous articles. In this issue of TUT we will slay a metaphorical dragon that has been confounding astrophysicists for the last few centuries, and in doing so we’ll also demolish one of the central cornerstones of scientific thought. By the time we’re finished here, you’re going to have an entirely new appreciation of the Universe. If, anywhere along the way, you start feeling a little light headed, a bit woozy, perhaps, maybe because you’re no longer sure as to the true nature of the Universe, and your place in it, then just remember this simple phrase: “There is no spoon. There is no spoon. There is no spoon.” Repeating this “mantra” over and over again will not only help to calm you down, it may also lead you to the truth.

Standing on the backs of turtles

  Anyone who is familiar with Western mythology will know something of the story of Atlas, the Titan whose job it was to hold up the world. While this incredible feat was simply part of accepted Greek mythology, the Greeks of that era, possessing some of the keenest minds of the classical period, still had a few questions. So, Atlas was holding up the world, and they were okay with that, but what was he standing on? Titan or not, he had to be standing on something, right? And the answer they received was that he was standing on the back of a turtle (in some versions it’s an elephant, but since I heard the turtle one first, for the purposes of this exercise it’s a turtle). Which opened the door to the next logical query, which was, what was the turtle standing on? The answer-the back of another turtle. And that turtle was standing on the back of another turtle. Well, that wouldn’t do, of course, since you can’t have an infinite number of turtles, so eventually it was concluded that the bottom turtle was floating in a sea of pure white milk. This begged the question of where the milk came from and how was it contained in this space? The answer was that the sea of milk was infinite and bottomless. Which made the Greeks wonder why the turtle on the bottom, weighted down by the stack of turtles on top of it, plus Atlas and the world too boot, didn’t sink into the infinite sea of pure milk and so drown in its cold white depths, thereby creating a cascade effect that would upset the entire equation. Faced with this final conundrum, the Greeks chose to punt.
  Recently, I became aware of a new, pre-big bang theory that is currently making the rounds. (This is the latest fad-explaining how and why the big bang occurred.) It was postulated that prior to the big bang there were very small waves or pulses of energy circulating around, and, over time they came into contact with one another. Each time that they did, both individual waves were strengthened by the encounter and, occasionally, the contact would produce one or more new waves. Building in power and number with each new collision, they rose towards a crescendo. At some point the density and energy of these waves was such that it led to the big bang. (Interesting, isn’t it, that so many theories of this nature always have some sort of pseudo sexual element?)
  Keep in mind that all of the above took place prior to the formation of the Universe. Since both time and the laws of physics began with the big bang, they cannot be applied to any theories of the pre-big bang period. There was no time as we know it before the big bang, nor were there any laws of physics. Which means we can’t apply what we know about the Universe to any pre-big bang theory.
  Let’s start with those waves of energy-where did they come from? According to some of the latest theories matter can simply appear in the midst of an empty void (which tells me scientists are a long way from determining the true nature of existence). This same rationale was applied to the pre-big bang theory. But, as we have already noted, the laws of this Universe come into being at the same time the Universe was created, so we cannot reasonably apply them to any pre-big bang scenario without some more concrete proof of their existence. So, I ask again, where did these energy waves come from?
  And even more important question is, if the space they were circulating in was infinite, then what kept them from wandering off on their own solitary journeys into infinity. The implication here is that they were apparently in some sort of enclosed space, or else the rest of the theory simply doesn’t work. Okay, then, so how large was that space? What created it and held it together? Was there something beyond that space, or was it an entire dimension unto itself?
  Lastly, why did this only happen once? Were the multitude of waves exhausted, completely used up by the big bang, or are they building again? Could another big bang suddenly flash into being in the middle of our own Universe?
  Okay, I’m not saying that I would discourage such speculations as the aforementioned, as I think musings of this nature are part of a healthy and stimulating scientific discourse. However, these types of theories should be taken, as well as delivered, with the proverbial grain of salt. The truth is we don’t and cannot know about such things until we have some very real, and very solid evidence to go on.
  And when it comes to exercises like trying to apply complex mathematical formulas using the known laws of physics when describing a period about which we have absolutely no information at all-well, it should at best, be done with tongue and cheek.
  Otherwise, you might find yourself standing on the backs of turtles.

How to Fry Your Noodle

  Recently, as I’ve explored the foundations of existence, something has come to my attention that both troubles and fascinates me, something I just can’t explain. But it is there, and quite real, and though it is not accompanied by any sturm and drang or even a peal of trumpets and a release of white doves, it is stultifying due to the very fact that it exists. You see, somehow or other, we seem to have an instinctual sense of the greater reality of which we are a part.
  Allow me to illustrate:
  Matter and dark energy/matter are involved in a Universe wide war that, according to scientists, dark e/m will ultimately win. Matter, which is the Sun, the Moon, the Oceans, the Continents, and everything else we know, even ourselves, plus all those glittering points of light that we see when we gaze out into the night sky, can and must be quantified as “light.” Dark Energy and Matter, on the other hand, scatters this “light” as it pushes apart the components of the “big bang.” Through such actions Dark Energy and Matter will eventually push the various galaxy clusters into isolated pockets, and each one of these will become increasingly further and further away from its brethren. Therefore, Dark Energy/Matter can be seen as a destroyer, and quite literally the “darkness.” For, in truth, given enough time, it will smother all light.
  Now, consider if you will the concepts of good and evil, most often typified as light and darkness. Good seeks to build, not destroy. Good works for the welfare of all, and the exclusion of none. Good does not love war or seek it, but, when war is thrust upon it, valiantly opposes evil. Good is everything we think of as the “best” in our lives, be it people, things, places, or moments. But, most importantly of all, Good is an ideal that all of Humankind can ascribe too. Evil, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite of Good. Evil seeks to sully or destroy all that is good. Evil is the epitome of greed and narcissism, the fount of bigotry and prejudice. Evil seeks out war eagerly, and wages it without conscience. Evil is all that we detest and abhor, and we write and then enforce laws to quell the spread of its influence.
  Good and Evil. Light and Darkness. Order and Chaos. Simple enough, eh? Kind of an eerie coincidence, but I guess that’s it, right?
  Well, not exactly.
  It all comes down to a matter of scale, really. In this Universe there is the atomic level of existence (protons, neutrons, electrons and all that sub-atomic stuff), cellular life (either single cell creatures or the individual cells of plants and animals), and complex life forms (the actual plants and animals themselves). And while these three categories can be broken down and expanded into a nearly infinite number of sub categories, for the sake of this exercise we are going to concentrate exclusively on just the three aforementioned basic forms.
  At the atomic level or below, there is merely existence, and some interaction with the surrounding atoms, and, occasionally, a changing of form by either gaining or losing mass. But an atom cannot be aware even of the thing of which it is a part, much less be aware of the Universe.
  The same can be said of life at the cellular level. Single celled animals have some dim awareness of their surroundings, they may, if they live outdoors or in the seas, even have a concept of the Sun and the Moon (if not the objects themselves, at least an acknowledgement of their effects when they are overhead, the heat and energy provided by the sun, of course, and the light of the moon, which has profound effects on life at the cellular level). And, while the cells that make up the organs of your body may be interacting with one another, is it possible that they can have any concept that they are part of you? Much less any awareness of the Universe?
  Which brings us, of course, to complex life forms, and these are the various plants and animals that inhabit our world. At the top, as we so readily acknowledge, is Humankind. (Nothing greater than us, right?) Not only can we see the Universe, but we can attempt to comprehend it! We, perhaps alone of all creatures on this planet, have some primitive understanding of the greater reality of which we are all a part! And that places us firmly at the top of the hierarchal knowledge pyramid. We have an awareness that “lesser” life forms lack. Nowhere to go from here, then, is there?
  Is there?
  And now we get to the part that troubles me most-because I’m beginning to think the answer to that question is yes.
  What if the Universe and all of existence is merely the next step up on the ladder? What if the entire Universe is part of some vaster reality that is literally beyond our comprehension? Something so mind bogglingly large that our own Universe would seem miniscule in comparison?
  If true, then this concept might go a long way in explaining not only formation of our Universe, but also its ultimate dissolution. It might even explain why dark energy and dark matter exist, and why they are interacting with matter in the way that they currently are-and too what end. (The meaning of life and all that jazz, right?)
  All we need to know is the true shape of the Universe, and all will become clear. Maybe not. Because, even if we know the position of every atom and wave in the Universe, and from that can discern its true form, we still may find ourselves clueless. (Imagine an atom trying to conceive of the Universe.) If we could see the whole Universe at once, the shape that was revealed might not make any sense to us because there was no parallel to it in our existence. (Remember how different atoms are to cells, and how different cells are to more complex life forms.) Gaining even the most fleeting glimpse of the larger reality of which we may be a part could prove to be impossible, or incomprehensible.
  Maybe though, just knowing it is there will allow this concept to be factored into our equations, and through this lead to a greater understanding of Existence.
  Oh yeah-there’s just one more thing we need to discuss before I log this article. You see, if we are part of some greater reality, then all of our actions and interactions with one another may have more far reaching implications than we currently realize. In other words, some or all of our actions could be having effects that we cannot see in this Universe, but that may be manifesting themselves instead on some higher level of reality. If so, then the true purpose of our existence might be quite unlike anything that we can reasonably postulate or even conceive.
  So, let’s take the first supposition, the one we discussed earlier, that there is a “war” between light and darkness occurring in our Universe, and that somehow humans have instinctively been aware of it throughout recorded history, and then add to that the supposition that there is a higher reality of which we are a part, and which we once again appear to have always been instinctively aware of, and then put those two suppositions together, and suddenly you have the foundations of all religion and philosophy that Humankind has thus far produced.
More than just a coincidence? I think not. But it leaves me wondering, what else do we instinctively “know”?
  And that, my friends, is how to fry your noodle.

The Fault in Our Stars

  When it comes to things like cars, refrigerators, aircraft, and a wide assortment of various other things, building upon the existing model is a good thing. With each successive generation, the models become more efficient, easier to operate, and more reliable. And all of us benefit from this ongoing process. Oh, there are some things, like hammers, brooms, and doors, whose design has changed very little since their invention. Today they may be made of newer, more durable and/or effective materials, but their basic design has changed little over the intervening centuries. The bottom line is, that once Humankind invents something, as long as it is useful, we continue to improve upon its design. And this works quite well in almost every circumstance.
  (Yes, you’re right, kids! Time to slay the dragon!)
  Astrophysics is the exception to this rule. Allow me to demonstrate.
  A few centuries ago, a professor named Newton saw an apple fall and drew a certain conclusions from this event. Turns out that he was right, and he was also wrong. Very wrong.
  Based on this most basic misinterpretation, a man named Einstein built a beautiful series of equations that described matter’s interaction with the Universe. In many ways, he was absolutely right, but the phantom that he was chasing meant he was also wrong, too. This basic error, which can be traced back to Newton, kept Einstein from achieving his lifelong goal, The Unified Field Theory.
  Stephen Hawking, in describing his theory of a static universe of dust, in which a few denser pockets of dust began the formation of all that now is, came so close to the truth that he almost nailed it. But, once again, that same nagging error was there to mislead him, just as it had misled Einstein, and also Newton before him.
  This belief in a phantasm, a jabberwocky, a myth, has cost humankind uncounted sweat and treasure and brain cells, and all of it has been expended on the greatest snipe hunt in history.
  To further illustrate this point, let’s do a little experiment. Take an object (preferably one that can survive what comes next) and place it in the palm of your hand, palm up. Now extend your arm, then turn your hand over so that it is palm down. We all know what happens, and we think we know why it happens, but that’s where we’re wrong. We’ve misinterpreted the force that is in action here, just like Newton did. The information we are drawing upon is based upon his observations, but that information was drawn from an erroneous conclusion. Newton, of course, did not have that excuse. In fact, he really had the best excuse of all, because he was missing a key piece of information, which was why that he misunderstood the force he was seeing in action.
  You see, Newton, and Einstein, and Hawking, all believed what you believe, and, until a few short days ago, I believed, too. Gravity was pulling that object down. Well, it wasn’t. There is a force at work here, but it isn’t gravity. Gravity, like centrifugal force, is a myth. Gravity, does not exist.
  (There is no spoon! There is no spoon! There is no spoon!)
  Let’s allow Einstein to explain…
  Albert Einstein understood the physical nature of the Universe better than any other human in recorded history. Had it not been for the myth of gravity, he would have gotten the whole thing right, and achieved his goal of a Unified Field Theory.
  Einstein postulated that all objects in space distort the fabric of space, which he called “spacetime.” (Of course there’s a lot more to spacetime than that, but I’m not going to go into it here.) So, objects that had mass and density, would distort spacetime, because they exerted gravity, with the amount of gravity exerted depending on the size and density of the mass. Well, take out every reference to gravity in the previous sentence, and Einstein is absolutely correct.
  There is an invisible bubble around the Earth, as there is around every object in space. Einstein described this bubble as a distortion in space time. And he was right, sort of, but that bubble was not created by gravity. What Einstein thought of as spacetime is actually the medium of dark energy and dark matter. And that bubble, that distortion in what is otherwise the “smooth” fabric space, which is the mass of dark energy and dark matter that permeates our Universe, that bubble is actually like a pressure wave, pressing everything down, applying equal pressure on all sides, to give shape to this planet and every other planet, moon, and star in the Universe.
  The Higgs-Boson is a Unicorn. It is dark matter and dark energy, interacting with matter, which gives shape and form to the Universe. We know that dark matter and dark energy expand, and that they like to collect matter into pockets, where they inevitably attempt to mold said matter into a sphere. Science is willing to acknowledge that much. But there is more. Dark matter and dark energy combined together are the force that allows us, and every other object in the Universe, to maintain its shape. Remove the effects of dark energy and dark matter from the Universe, even for an instant, and matter would no longer be forced to maintain its current form. We, along with the rest of the Universe, might dissolve away into atoms.
  Time for a quick review of what we’ve learned so far…
  The Earth, along with every other object in the Universe, is suspended in a near limitless sea of dark matter and dark energy. In its normal form, dark matter and dark energy are at rest, making the fabric of space appear smooth and undisturbed. However, if you introduce matter into that placid black ocean, dark matter and dark energy surround said matter and began to compress it. If they are successful, they shape the matter into a sphere (adding rotation is what makes it oblate-more on that later) and from that point on they continue to compress the matter together and force it to hold its shape. Any new matter that is sufficiently small enough, and which strays close enough to the object, and isn’t moving fast enough to get away, is compressed into the object. (Remember, we’ve already discussed the undisputed fact that the Earth is actually getting heavier each year.)
  The mass, density, and shape of the object determines how great the level of compression the object will receive. When it is done correctly, the object will attain a spherical shape, because dark energy and dark matter are applying an equal amount of pressure in all directions at once. This is not as easy as it may sound, because some parts of the object will be denser than other parts. To counter this, dark energy and dark matter must press harder, while in other much less dense parts, the exact opposite is true. If you’d like to see all of the above effects in action, then just look at the Voyager and Cassini photographs of Saturn’s rings. The effects of these various types of compression waves are clearly expressed there.
  Since mass, density, and shape appear to affect the size of the compression bubble, and how much force it uses to compress the object, then it follows that the larger and more dense the object in question, then the greater the size of the compression bubble, and also the greater the force of compression. For an object like the super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy, the compression bubble is so gargantuan, and the force that it exerts so massive, that it compresses all that densely packed matter which the SMBH has been able to gather up, thus far, into a region that is smaller than a basketball. (Impressive, eh?) The SMBH compression bubble is literally so immense that the entire galaxy floats within it, which is why solar systems at the edge of the galaxy simply don’t go sailing off into space. (Unless, of course, they’re moving incredibly fast. Even then, they’d really have to have a good head of steam on for them to actually get away.) While dark matter and dark energy are pressing in on us, holding us down on this planet, forcing us to maintain our current form, they are also trying to compress every last bit of matter in this galaxy into the supermassive black hole at its center. Eventually, barring outside intervention, dark matter and dark energy will succeed in this endeavor.
  In essence, what we have learned so far is that there is no such thing as gravity. We have simply been misinterpreting the interactions between the matter that forms the visible Universe and the near infinite ocean of dark matter and dark energy in which it swims. And the truth, as we have just seen, while proving to be more bizarre than anything we have yet conceived, fits the facts as we know them much better than any phantom force called gravity. (You guys kept wondering why you couldn’t find gravity, eh? Kept saying that the greater part of the effects of gravity must be felt in some other dimension, because they weren’t being expressed in our own Universe, right? Well, now you know why.)
  When you put all this together, it ultimately leads us to the third great luminary, our own Stephen Hawking; one of the greatest intellects of this, or any, age. I said that his model of a static, dust filled Universe, with some regions where the dust was slightly denser than others, which led to the formation of the first stars, was almost bang on, right? And it was. (Although he was wrong about the scale. It’s not the formation of stars he’s actually describing, its galaxies!) From the available evidence, the earliest form of matter was not dust, but instead, were atoms, or even subatomic particles. The Universe existed in this static state, with only the most basic atoms on the periodic table in existence (and maybe not even that), until, by some mechanism that is as yet not understood, dark matter and dark energy were introduced into the medium. Immediately upon the introduction of dark energy and dark matter into the unformed universe of atoms, the aforementioned elements combined and began to compress the atoms or subatomic particles into pockets. This forced the simple atoms to combine into much more complex ones. Over time this compression led to the formation matter itself, and the rest occurred much as expressed in the esteemed Mister Hawking’s hypothesis. The difference is that the combined force of dark matter and dark energy was already well on its way to tidying up the Universe long before matter as we know it reached the state where it could be called dust. From the very beginning, dark matter and dark energy were doing what they do whenever they encounter matter of any sort. They were exerting as much force as needed to shepherd all that matter into a pocket, and then to compress it into the shape of a sphere. And it is this constant interaction between the matter that forms our Universe, and the dark matter and dark energy which compresses it, that has created everything we know.
  So now we come to the fault in our stars…
  To the scientific community in general, and to astrophysicists specifically, I say that the fault is not in our stars, and never was. A very basic mistake, made by the person who is least to blame, led to an erroneous line of thought that has concealed the true nature of the Universe from humankind for generations. Members of the scientific community must resolve themselves to the fact that there are no immutable rules in this or any other Universe. No model is or can be sacrosanct. Whenever evidence is encountered that calls the model into question, instead of searching until you find some mathematical trick which allows you to fold it into the model, or, if you can’t, then ignoring it, try exploring the anomaly, and find out why it seems to unbalance the equation.
  Scientific thinking has become too rigid, and questioning the established models now borders on blasphemy. This mindset has stifled scientific thought, and, because of that, progress and innovation, as well. Such rigidity in thinking must not be allowed to continue to dominate the various scientific fields because it will ultimately strangle them. Whenever sufficient evidence arises that calls any model into question, you must be willing to discard the established scientific model, in whole or in part, in light of the new evidence. The benefits of such flexibility are easy to see. Freedom of thought leads to imagination, and imagination leads to new horizons of scientific inquiry.
  What all this actually means is that any time one of your fellow scientists says that something doesn’t add up, instead of immediately smacking that person down and metaphorically burning them at the stake, you should ask them “Why?,” and then listen patiently to their response. Carefully consider everything they have to say, and don’t waste too much time defending the model. Chances are, they’re probably on to something.
  (Bet your equations start balancing out now, eh?)

The No Bang Theory

  The Big Bang theory. Quite literally it is a road map to the formation of all matter in the Universe because it explains how everything came into existence. The explanation makes for quite a show. There are a lot of flashing lights, and expanding clouds of matter, and it can really create quite a spectacle, especially when placed in the hands of Hollywood’s best CG types. Unfortunately, the BB is not a perfect theory. There are a few nagging problems yet to be resolved-like what caused it-and when it comes to this endeavor there are places that even science is willing to admit base ten mathematics will not take us. (As in the first few milliseconds after the Big Bang.) And there are other anomalies, of course. Nasty inconsistencies that do not fit, no matter how scientists try to fold them into the model. Such anomalies are ultimately either ignored, or “special cases” are created to allow for their existence. But it doesn’t end there. Many of the models physicists have created, including the esteemed Professor Hawking’s static dust theory, do not take into account the motions that would have begun with the Big Bang and continued right on through to today. Despite all these inconsistencies, the Big Bang theory still provides the best explanation for how all matter came into being.
  Right. Knowing what we now know, let’s take a look at what really happened.
  Originally, the Universe consisted of bits stuff so far below the sub-atomic that we have not yet discovered them. There is no question that these bits exist, and proof of that existence will be provided before we reach the end of this article. Suffice it to say, these bits probably had no motion, nor were they inclined to bond with one another, and this state of affairs continued until dark matter and dark energy were introduced into the Universe.
  Which brings us to the tricky part. At some point in the far distant past dark matter and dark energy were introduced into this pre-atomic medium everywhere in the Universe at precisely the same time. And, while we cannot at this juncture conceive how such a thing could be possible, we can trace the chain of events that must have followed such an introduction.
  Those tiniest bits of basic matter were compressed, first becoming structures below the sub-atomic, then progressing to the sub-atomic, and from there to electrons, protons, and neutrons. This achieved, dark matter and dark energy began to compress these basic building blocks together to form the first atoms (the lowest ones on the atomic scale).
  (Scientists have often wondered why the neutron is part of an atomic nucleus. Maybe the neutron wonders the same thing. All it knows is that first it wasn’t, and then it was, and immediately thereafter it found itself shoved in with all those other neutron, protons, and electrons, and it’s been there ever since. Neutrons are an ingredient of atomic structure, whether they like it or not. They may be nothing more than a byproduct of the formation of atomic particles, but dark matter and dark energy will still find a place for them.)
  Now that the most basic atoms had been created, they were compressed again. This caused some atoms to shed part of their atomic weight (protons and electrons) while other atoms gained that lost atomic weight, thereby transforming themselves into the heavier atoms that can be found further down the chart of atomic weights.
  The scary thing is, this process could have continued until every atom in the Universe had combined and recombined endlessly, leaving only the heaviest and most unstable elements on the chart, which would, over time, have left us with a Universe made mostly of lead. And this would have been the fate of the Universe, if not for a foreseeable consequence of all this compression. Because, somewhere along the line, individual atoms began to combine into the first bits of tangible matter.
  They were tiny, of course, these first bits of matter-roughly the size of dust motes, which is in essence what they were anyway. Since atoms appear to be selective in the company they keep, some of these tiny motes were made up of individual flecks of iron, while the vast majority of motes were made up of other basic forms of matter.
  This immense cloud of dust, which occupied the entire Universe, was then compressed again into patches of nebulae that were larger than many galaxies piled together (because, that’s exactly what they were). These earliest structures must have been truly titanic. Of course, dark matter and dark energy continued to mold them, to attempt to round them. And as they did, they filled in all the gaps from which that stray matter had been pulled, until eventually, all that was left were these titanic, irregularly shaped nebulae, and the stems that connected each nebula to the ones closest to it. (We see globes of dust maintaining a lifeline to their parent nebula, from which they continue to draw material for the globe. Same thing going on here, except these massive nebulae were trying to steal material from each other.) Over time the various nebulae sorted themselves out into groupings of galaxy sized spheres, and their constant contraction led to the formation of galaxies. As to the stems or straws that connected the titanic, irregular patches of nebulae to one another, well, compression forces from each end of the stem pulled them in such a way that they formed their own galaxy sized spheres, and thus their own galaxy.
  With this information, we can now understand the shape of the present day Universe.
  As to that proof I mentioned earlier-well, we’re going to hand the ball to the scientists for this one.
  Recently it was announced that scientists had concluded that matter could form out of nothing. That there could be nothing there and suddenly, matter would appear. Now, most of us, the first time we heard that statement, probably thought something like, “Gee, the D&D game must have run a bit long that night!” or, “Wow! I didn’t realize a room full of scientists could drink a full keg of beer in just one night!” (They can, and it’s a terrible sight to behold.) Thing is, though, as patently outrageous as this claim sounds, it’s absolutely true.
  Here’s what is happening: Those undetected bits of pre-atomic matter we were discussing earlier, well, they do exist, and not all of them have been corralled by dark matter and dark energy yet. Many of these pre-atomic bits of matter still inhabit what we consider to be empty space. They go through the same compression, the same assembly process we’ve just discussed and suddenly-Voila-matter seems to appear out of nowhere.
  According to the Big Bang Theory, some thirteen billion years ago all the matter in the Universe was packed into one tiny ball smaller than a pin head, and from here, and for reasons still not yet clear, that matter expanded to fill the Universe. Over time, denser portions of matter, which had more gravity than their surrounding components, drew in the rest of the matter closest to them, and using this formed the first stars. The central pillar of this theory is that the Universe is expanding.
  The No Bang Theory, on the other hand, presents us with a Universe in which all matter is being endlessly compressed. And the formation of stars, planets, moons, and even galaxies is merely a consequence of an ongoing process. Which leads us to a shocking, but unavoidable, conclusion: While dark matter and dark energy may be expanding, we, and everything else in this Universe that we consider to be tangible matter, are shrinking.

Let’s Get Small

  Dark matter and dark energy-they are the twin forces which are responsible for the creation of the Universe, and yet the very action that led to that creation, will also lead to its (and our) ultimate destruction. You see, dark matter and dark energy, the “negative force” (cosmologically speaking), are slowly but surely taking all matter in the Universe and crushing it. Yes, all matter in the Universe, and us along with it, is shrinking. It makes no difference how big any of us think we may be, in reality we’re actually getting smaller. Every single day. Since this effect appears to be taking place at a consistent rate, from the subatomic through the macro level, and seems to be happening simultaneously all throughout the Universe, we are, for the most part, unaware of its existence. In fact, the only way we can confirm this hypothesis is to note that dark matter and dark energy appear to be pushing all the galaxies away from us. This is not the case, of course. The rest of the galaxies really aren’t getting further away-they, and we, are just getting smaller. And, according to astrophysicists, this rate of shrinkage is accelerating.
  Yes, I know, your perception of reality tells you otherwise, but trust me, kids, this is really happening. The amazing thing is that even as far down as the subatomic level, everything appears to be shrinking at a consistent rate. So much so that we don’t even notice it. Each day the world looks the same, as though nothing has changed. But it has.
  Look, if this bothers you, consider that the rate at which we are shrinking may be as little as a billionth of a percent every day. So miniscule a rate that, if we could freeze the compression process-just for ourselves and not our surroundings- then half a lifetime or more might pass before we could detect any real changes in our environment. On the other hand, the pace of miniaturization could be faster than this (much faster). Either way, we would be unable to detect its progress. Ironically enough, because our instrumentality is shrinking right along with us, it may be impossible for us to physically measure the speed at which this diminution is taking place. However, some very bright person might be able to use the rate of the “expansion” of the Universe to figure out just how fast we’re actually getting small.
  As has already been noted, there is nothing to worry about here, because as far as we’re concerned, nothing has changed, or will change. Since this phenomenon is occurring throughout the Universe at every level and at a constant rate, there is probably no short (or long) term danger. But, if you’re still worried, then consider this: the entire Universe has been shrinking since the beginning of what we would call time, and it hasn’t seemed to hurt us (or anything else) so far. So we’re good for now.
  However, if you must insist on being paranoid about this, then you do have a point. Due to the ongoing compression of the Universe by dark matter and dark energy, we’re all fractionally smaller now than we were at the beginning of this article. Small world, huh?

Faster than Light

  Time. It is a concept that most flora and fauna on this planet can obviously comprehend. Plants, animals, and even some single celled creatures orient their lives by the changing of the seasons, and the phases of the Moon. Humans are also aware of the passage of time. One rotation of our planet, a period of light, followed by a period of darkness, then by the return of light, equals one day. Three hundred and sixty-five days equals one year. Ten years a decade, ten decades a century, ten centuries a millennium-and millennia become ages, many ages become eons, and eons-well, you get the picture. The past is all that came before us, the future is all that is yet to be, and the present is the elusive moment that we currently occupy.
  But we can break time down just as easily as we build it up. Days are broken down to hours, and minutes, and seconds. (All of these conveniently tied to the aforementioned rotation of our planet.) Because of the demands of science and industry, time has even been reduced to the merest fractions of a second. Yet even the smallest pulse of a second, be it a billionth, or even a trillionth, is still what we humans would call “real time.” As far as we are concerned, our lives, and all of what we refer to as existence, are occurring in “real time.”
Well, not exactly. You see, there is a factor that limits our perception of time. This roadblock in our time sense is known as the speed of light.
  (Remember, there is no spoon.)
  Most, but unfortunately not all (not yet), humans perceive the world primarily through impulses transmitted from their eyes to their visual cortex. These impulses originate when photons of light strike our eyes. So, we literally see the world at the speed of light. Scientists would argue that there is a very small delay between the time photons of light strike the object and are reflected back to you, and the short period (on average about one eighth of a second) while your brain interprets what you are seeing, which means that you aren’t seeing any event in “real time.” However, since all of this is taking place in little more than a blink of an eye, we’ll call it “real time” for now.
  The fastest thing we can see is a flash of light, because our eyes are geared to perceive photons of light. But a bullet fired from a weapon, which travels at a snails speed compared to light, is invisible to us. We need special cameras to slow the action down enough for us to even see the bullet. The same is true when it comes to the atom smashers, the great colliders like Cern and Fermi. If we could actually see into one of those chambers where the atoms collide, we would see a flash of light and some sparks, and, sadly, that would be about it. During that same interval, though, banks of high speed cameras will have taken millions of pictures, and what they show is very different than what we saw. A lot was taking place in that instant that was literally beyond our ability to perceive. So, even though we can see light moving at the speed of light, and this is what gives us our sense of “real time,” we actually are unable to see most objects that moving as fast as or faster than a bullet.
  Take television, movies, or video as an example…
  The human eye perceives our surroundings at seventy-two frames per second. Most TV, film, or video is shot, and/or displayed at a frame rate of roughly thirty-six frames per second (in television and video this empty frame is used to draw, line by line, starting at the top line and ending at the bottom line of the screen, the next frame to be displayed). Your brain fills in the gaps in between these empty frames so that you never notice their absence (or see the screen or monitor stutter or flicker as it redraws the entire next frame). Broadcasters call this phenomenon “persistence of vision.”
  Let’s do a little experiment. This one is so simple you can actually perform it in the real world without much fear of getting hurt. You’ll need one television set or monitor. Turn it on, and find a program you like to watch. Then, while carefully checking behind you as you do so, back away from the set until you reach a point where you can see both the monitor and what is behind and around it. Notice that your brain is receiving input that is occurring in two different time frames, and resolving it into the same time frame. Now, turn sideways, so that you can only see the monitor out of the periphery of your vision. Even from this angle, you won’t see a flicker or a gap. Your brain is still busily resolving the discrepancies between the two time frames, even though you are no longer looking directly at the monitor.
  Now, let’s take a walk through the downtown of any major city in the world, just after sunset (may want to go back to your imagination for this one). Note how many active monitors and video screens you see around you. Also, note that your brain is busily accounting for each and every one of these screens, viewing them in such a way so that each screen appears to be displaying their images in real time, whether you’re paying any attention to them or not.
  The main lesson you should take from this is that while the speed of light may limit our perception of time, the Human brain has the ability to manipulate images in real time so as to create a “smooth and constant” perception of reality, even if the images the brain is viewing are not all taking place in “real time.” What this means is that our perception of time as a product of the speed of light is as artificial as our perception of the video images on the screen. They are simply handy constructs, smoothing codes that the brain uses to construct an overall impression of our surroundings which it presents to us and calls reality. This constant interpretation of reality, which we perform during every waking moment of our lives, is what we choose to call “the present.” But, as you can see, reality, like time, is merely a point of view.
  When we supercharge an impulse, and then send it through a loop so quickly that it appears to arrive a millisecond before it was sent; as far as we are concerned, the impulse has defied time as we know it. The impulse, of course, did nothing of the sort. It simply traveled faster than light, and therefore, the impulse moved out of our frame of reference and remained so until it slowed to the speed of light again. Since the impulse was traveling faster than the speed of light, it re-emerged into our time frame at a point slightly earlier than it was sent. This is simply a consequence of the speed at which the impulse was traveling. It didn’t defy Universal time, only OUR concept of time.
  Now, if this is indeed the case (and the existence of neutrinos seems to indicate it may be) then the speed of light is not the limiting factor we thought it was. Keep in mind that Einstein uncovered this anomaly in his famous Theory of Relativity; there seems to be evidence that objects (within our frame of reference) which accelerate beyond the speed of light will, to all intents and purposes, seem to go back in time. But this is based solely on our perception of time, which is an artificial construct created by our brains to help give some semblance of order to our existence. The sad truth is that our perception of time may not be a true reflection of how time is actually flowing in the cosmos.
  As we noted before, when viewing objects here on Earth, the speed of light works quite well. But as soon as we look up, the whole scenario changes. Look at the Moon and we’re seeing reflected sunlight that left barely more than a second ago. Look at the Sun, we see light that left eight minutes ago. Look at the stars and you see light that has been traveling for decades, centuries, even thousands of years. Real time? To look at the night sky is to look far back into the past, not the present. By now, the entire galaxy could have changed, and we would have no clue about it. Not for the next hundred, or even the next thousand, years.
  While the speed of light as a time scale might work well on Earth, the size of the Universe is such that it is impossible for light to give us a real time view of even just the nearest planets and stars, much less the Universe. This is why what we perceive as time, as dictated by the speed of light and by our perception of its passage, is a handy construct, but should not be considered as a reliable measure of actual Universal time, which obviously exists at a scale much faster than the speed of light.
  And this leads us to one inescapable conclusion: According to scientists, even with the discovery of dark matter and dark energy, a significant portion of the Universe is still unaccounted for. Well, maybe it isn’t. Perhaps all that missing matter is right here, right now, all around us, and we can’t see it because it isn’t moving slow enough to be visible within what we consider as our time frame. (Remember, within what we consider as our time frame, such objects would be traveling backwards in time. And it is also quite possible that objects moving faster than light might not reflect light, making them devilishly hard to detect.)
  Keep in mind that the gravity Unicorn has led some of the greatest minds in history astray. When we recognize that what we thought of as “gravity” is really the interactions of tangible matter and dark matter and dark energy, then we began to realize that the “speed of light” is probably not the limiting factor we of which we’ve been led to believe. In fact, there appear to be ways around this cosmic speed limit, especially now that we know what has been holding us up. (As we will see in the next article.)
  Okay, one more time and I’ll let it rest. Our perception of time is limited to the speed of light. Anything traveling faster than that moves out of our time frame, and can no longer be perceived by us, until it slows to the speed of light and thereby re-enters our frame of reference. The speed of light as the ultimate speed of the Universe is a faulty conclusion based upon a misinterpretation of the interactions between the tangible matter that makes up the Universe, and dark matter and dark energy. As such, the speed of light is not the fastest speed an object can travel in space, and is most likely not the time frame upon which Universal time, the actual pace at which time is unfolding in the Universe, is based. Also, there may be objects moving faster than light, but since they are, by our standards, traveling backwards in time, we are unable to detect them.
  So, if it may indeed be possible to travel faster than light, then there are two principle questions that inevitably will arise: How will the brain react to the consequences of faster than light travel? And, once we attain such speeds, will we be the only objects in the Universe that are doing so?

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