Scientific American’s Winter 2015 Special Edition, entitled “Physics at the Limits,” is a collection of articles by physicists and physics journalists describing the current status of efforts to solve the deepest mysteries of the universe. Some of these problems have been worked on for decades and are no closer to being solved. Ideas that looked promising and inspired hope years ago haven’t panned out. I found the overall tone of the issue somewhat downbeat. Nobody is predicting that success is just around the corner.
Two articles caught my eye. “The Black Hole at the Beginning of Time,” by Nieysh Afshordi, Robert B. Mann, and Razieh Pourhasan, suggests that our (3+1)-dimensional universe is the event horizon of a black hole in a (4+1)-dimensional universe. They argue that their model helps us understand the densities of ordinary matter, dark matter, and dark energy, and eliminates the need for inflation. However, they admit that it doesn’t explain how it all began, since the origin of the higher-dimensional universe is a mystery.The second article, “What Is Real?,” by Meinard Kuhlmann, asserts that looking at the world as made up of particles and fields leads to conceptual difficulties, and that the world may actually consist of bundles of properties, such as color and shape.
These two articles are related, because the questions of how it all began and what is real can’t be answered independently. The physics and the metaphysics are inextricably linked. Physicists know nothing about metaphysics, are scared to death to get anywhere near it, and as a result, can’t make significant progress. One of my objectives for this blog is to get physicists to take metaphysics seriously.
As I explained here, here, and here, it all began with a single thought, which we call existence or consciousness. Yes, they’re the same. Existence cannot “not exist.” For a thought to exist, something has to think it. There isn’t anything else in the beginning, so existence must think itself. Which just means it’s conscious. Now, this is the hardest point to get across to physicists—or anyone else. “Existence exists” sounds like some new-age silliness, Yet it’s actually the key to everything. Once you “get” that existence exists, it’s not very difficult to understand this universe.
The existence that exists in itself is a logical concept. It doesn’t change. It doesn’t experience time. But logical concepts imply other logical concepts, and by existing in itself, existence implies the existence of everything that’s possible. That’s the universe. Fundamentally, it’s a logical universe that’s atemporal but has a logical structure. Starting with existence, concepts imply other concepts in stages. But there’s also a temporal universe among the things that are possible. You just have to look at the logical concepts as spacetime points and the logical stages as time, and you have a temporal, physical universe that matches the one we live in. I’ve explained all of this elsewhere in this blog.
Seen as a temporal process, the structure of logical concepts looks like an explosion of spacetime. Yes, it’s the big bang. But because it’s basicslly atemporal , the question of how it began is meaningless. The four-dimensional black hole of the first article I mentioned doesn’t exist anyway. As for the properties proposed by the second article, they’re just logical concepts, and they do exist, but to understand the universe you can’t look only at properties, so I think that to put all your efforts behind that idea will just lead to more frustration.
Physicists are trying to think outside the box. Unfortunately, they can’t find the door.