Thursday, March 17, 2011

What I'm Thinking About Today

I was working on the website for my company I came upon this quote I first heard when I was 15:

The universe may have begun in a state of perfect symmetry. The theory says that matter rose out of energy while the early universe was expanding and cooling that form arose from formlessness like ice crystals congealing in a freezing pond. The mathematical symmetries that the unified theories have exposed at the foundations of natural law are more subtle and complex than those of snowflakes, but their principle is the same.  They imply that we live in a crystallized universe of broken symmetries.

Perfect symmetry may be beautiful, but it is sterile, perfectly symmetrical space means nothingness. As soon as you introduce an object into that space, you break the symmetry, thus creating a sense of location. There is a place where the object is and other places where it isn't and out of that comes tumbling all of the geometry of space as we know it.

Perfectly symmetrical time means that nothing can happen. As soon as you have an event, then you break the symmetry and time begins to flow in a given direction We live in a universe that is full of objects and events and that means that the universe is imperfect. The symmetries of the universe we live in are broken. It may even be that we owe the very origin of our universe to the imperfection of the breaking of the absolute symmetry of absolute emptiness. There is even a theory to this effect. It's called vacuum genesis and it suggests that the universe began as a single particle arising from an absolute vacuum. Curious as it may seem, this idea violates none of the known laws of physics. We have seen how virtual particles come into existence all the time from a vacuum and then fall back into non-existence. There appears to be no upper limit on the size and longevity of particles that can be created in this way. Its just possible that there might have been absolutely nothing out of which came a particle so potent that it could blossom into the entire universe. It is not very likely, but then it only had to happen once.

The theory of vacuum genesis is a new idea, nobody knows whether or not it is true, but it does satisfy two of the criteria of a sound scientific theory: its seems at first so strange that it must be preposterous and, like the universe itself, the longer you get to know it the more beautiful it becomes.

Out of nothingness could have come the spark of genesis. As the universe expanded and cooled, darkness descended. Then light dawned anew with formation of the first stars. Each star is a nuclear furnace where matter is coaxed into releasing a little of the energy it inherited from the primordial fireball. Thanks to imperfection, to the fractured symmetries that produce differences among the particles and forces, atoms in their varieties could build themselves into molecules and molecules rise up in alliances as life, and life gives birth to thought and thoughts produce theories about the creation of the universe.

Timothy Ferris
“The Creation Of the Universe”
It blew me away when I first heard it and even named my company after the theory.  Hope it does something mind blowing for you, too.

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