Search FQXi

If you have an idea for a blog post or a new forum thread, then please contact us at, with a summary of the topic and its source (e.g., an academic paper, conference talk, external blog post or news item).
Forum Home
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the blogger are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help

Joy Christian: "Thanks for correcting my English. My former PhD supervisor, Abner Shimony,..." in Classical Spheres,...

Thomas Ray: "Florin, don't those sour grapes make your teeth hurt? Why not join the fun..." in Classical Spheres,...

amrit: "Gravity without graviton, mass without masson, dar energy without darkon" in Time at the Event Horizon

Eckard Blumschein: "The how-question already implies the non-fatalistic view which I consider..." in How Should Humanity Steer...

Pentcho Valev: "The children of the universe are leaving the sinking ship because they now..." in Ripping Apart Einstein

David Brown: "Consider the question "How should humanity steer the future?" — there..." in How Should Humanity Steer...

click titles to read articles

Reality's NeverEnding Story
A quantum version of Darwinian natural selection could enable the universe to write itself into being.

The Quantum Dictionary
Mark Van Raamsdonk is re-writing how we define the shape of our universe. Can such translations help to unite quantum theory and gravity?

Q&A with Paul Davies: What is Time?
Where does time come from? Why does it seem to flow?

Quantum Computers Get Real
Fighting decoherence to scale up quantum technologies.

Q&A with David Rideout: Testing Reality in Space
Satellite experiments could soon investigate the boundaries of quantum physics and relativity.

April 23, 2014

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Why This Universe? [refresh]
Bookmark and Share

Blogger William Orem wrote on Jun. 28, 2007 @ 19:52 GMT
There's an excellent -- really -- article available for free download from called "Why This Universe?" by Robert Kuhn. The title, disarmingly broad as it is (one thinks of "Love and Death," Woody Allen's send-up of overly grandiose Russian novels) is nevertheless too narrow. The article is a synopsis, with a good amount of detail, of each of the major cosmological and philosophical issues surrounding the existence, and perceived characteristics, of the universe.

image: alon

Included in this multiverse of issues are "Meaningless Question‚" (nature and its parameters are a "brute fact," as philosopher Robert Nozick called it); "Necessary/Only Way‚" (the universe is the way it is as the result of "deep essence" of physical law); "Almost Necessary"; "Temporal Selection"; "Self-Explaining" ("the universe is self-created and self-explaining"); "Multiverse by Disconnected Regions"; "Multiverse by Cycles"; "Multiverse by Sequential Selection‚" "Multiverse by Quantum Branching," and so on, and on.

It's really a nicely comprehensive primer on the mind-bending fecundity of mind-bending possibilities, and excellent summer reading for folks interested in Foundational issues.

It's also good news this week -- or bad, if you were hoping for Relativity to take it on the chin -- for the question of whether fundamental constants have changed across time. The ratio of electron-to-proton masses has been carefully tested by an Australian lab comparing light from a quasar to the same type of light produced in a lab, in the thought that, one of these signals being a few billion years old, fluctuations across cosmic timescales would be observed. Physicsweb has the article, wryly titled "Fundamental constant is pretty much constant." The short version: plus ca change . . .

image: orangeacid

Question: Einstein was smart enough to realize that if the clock is slowing down by the same amount as the yardstick is shrinking, the inertial observer won't be able to tell that anything has changed. Is it possible that the fundamental constants could be fluctuating in sync with the parameters required for measuring them, so that they always appear to be inviolate?

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

report post as inappropriate

paul valletta wrote on Jun. 29, 2007 @ 04:22 GMT
Before I read the article link, I ask of the "way it is", ..why is it that some people ask certain questions, and other people ask other questions?

Why does the Universe display its reasons in such a varied way, why not create all questions and questioners as a default function, ie..say all questions by all persons exactly alike?

The next question of course is:In other many Universe's, what type of questions are asked, of other "possible" Universe's?

report post as inappropriate

paul valletta wrote on Jul. 1, 2007 @ 20:26 GMT
This is an interesting article :Why not Nothing?

The article author gives a vast and varied collection of quotes from all disciplines. But I have to admit I have a problem with the definition of "Nothing", so as the author and a number of scientists interviewed. So as an example I will quote form the article:

1 “Wouldn’t it have been easier

if there were not even one thing, in the

sense that there is no causal activity,

whereas things require causes to bring

them into existence? Wouldn’t it have

been simpler in the sense that there are

zero things if there are no things, and

that as a number zero is simpler than

one, two, three or any other number?

Wouldn’t it have been more logical in the

sense that the laws of logic do not imply

there are things and if there are things,

that fact is inexplicable in terms of the

laws of logic?” (For euphony, as well as

simplicity, I will continue to use

“Nothing”—Quentin, my apologies.)"

The problem here is "nothing" in the context of, order/simplicity is actually completely the opposite of what it represents, I have had this arguement some years ago so before I continue let me quote from the article again:

While recognizingthat the empty world is vastly, even

infinitely, easer to describe, van Inwagenreasons that this should not increase itsrelative probability unless “one is covertlythinking that there is something that is outside the ‘Reality’, and “the simplicity of the empty world provides us with no reason to regard it as more probable than any other possibleworld.” .

To create complete order, such as reducing any system to a uniformed unity, is actually the most complexed process one can imagine. The definition of "simple-order" would mean a process of complete and absolute control, control over every particle, halting all trajectories to ensure that no further collisions occur. Reducing a system to absolute order is far more complex than allowing a system to have a finite gentle movement!

In the article there is a quote by omongst others Roger Penrose:Penrose’s analysis of the “extraordinary ‘specialness’ of the Big Bang” is based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the

“absurdly low entropy” [i.e., highly organized]

state of the very early universe.

My argument is that the "absurdly low entropy" here, is actually the most comlex function to ever have occured! mathematical terms, the nothing is represented by the zero, who can deny this number as being the most complex number in existence, far more complex than infinite?

report post as inappropriate

bob wrote on Jul. 16, 2007 @ 11:50 GMT
Isn't "zero" in that sense different from Nothingness at least because it contains within it the potentiality of Somethingness? Doesn't the existence of the universe demonstrate that there is no such thing as Nothingness except in the weak sense of a nothingness that contains the potential for existence?

report post as inappropriate

Gevin Giorbran wrote on Jul. 20, 2007 @ 06:18 GMT
Hey Paul and Bob,

It is possible to fully understand zero in terms of complexity and potential, but you have to let go of your assumptions that zero exists in the past. Zero exists in the future of an expanding universe, not the past. Physicists have projected zero into the past in order to theorize that the universe naturally arose out of nothing rather than a God. In reacting to the bias...

view entire post

report post as inappropriate

Blogger William Orem wrote on Jul. 22, 2007 @ 15:39 GMT

I love these questions-- or, rather, this question, which surely is the most Foundational of all. It may also be the most important philosophical question: Why is there something? The best modern treatment of the question, already noted, is Robert Nozick's essay "Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?" from the book *Philosophical Explanations*. Nozick, who died much too young,...

view entire post

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

report post as inappropriate

Gevin Giorbran wrote on Jul. 28, 2007 @ 12:19 GMT
Imagine standing at the very precipice of the birth of the multiverse. Imagine a cliff and out beyond the edge of the cliff there is nothing at all. So you put your hand out to the surface and touch the originating moment. Now push through it. Reach beyond. What is it like? Any words come to mind? Is it frightening, or menacing? Is it vibrant with all the potential of being? Is it thick or dark,...

view entire post

report post as inappropriate

vince wrote on Nov. 19, 2007 @ 16:40 GMT
why should we wonder about the exitence of the universe while in the meanwhile we destroy it as much as we can ?

report post as inappropriate

Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Jul. 31, 2009 @ 14:24 GMT
Dear William Orem,

I will repeat here the answer to your question of why is there something rather than nothing. Originally I touched on this issue in your Out of Plato’s Cave blog.

The answer, is because it can be. Here is how.

Mathematics is infinite and by Gödel there is no possible axiomatization of math. Reality contains mathematicians who discover all this...

view entire post

report post as inappropriate

Please enter your e-mail address:
Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.