The Universe: Order without design
by Carlos I. Calle
Published by: Prometheus Books
[review by New Scientist]
IN THIS excellent book, NASA physicist Carlos Calle tackles the question of whether the universe requires a supernatural "designer" or whether our cosmological theories can explain the wondrous reality around us.
The standard model of cosmology, in which a tiny piece of inflating "false vacuum" decays into a fireball, and stars and galaxies congeal out of the cooling debris, has passed many tests, but problems remain. Where did the false vacuum come from in the first place? And how do the supposedly enormous quantum convulsions of our current vacuum manage to cancel out to almost - but not exactly - zero, leaving behind a piddling "dark energy" that lies in the tiny range of values that allow life to exist?
Physics and cosmology alone may have the answers, says Calle. Combine eternal inflation, in which the primordial false vacuum continuously grows and decays, with string theory and you end up with a multiverse - a vast collection of universes, each of which has a different amount of dark energy. We find ourselves in one where it has just the right value for stars, planets and life because... well, we couldn't find ourselves anywhere else.
Another cosmological model that has emerged from string theory has our universe living on the surface of a "brane" floating in a higher-dimensional space. Our brane collides with a nearby brane over and over again for eternity, triggering an endless sequence of big bangs. This cyclic model may home in on the exact value of the dark energy we measure.
The model doesn't require a beginning, and some theorists suspect that eternal inflation may not either. Certainly, neither requires a designer. Cosmology still has a lot to figure out, Calle contends, but it is in good shape.
Well, that ought to knot up the panties of our fundamentalist friends. Eternal inflation rather than a god-source for the beginning of it all [or the continuation of it all]. Just a lot of brane and vacuums. Sounds so dull, so ordinary. Where's the pizazz! Where's the POOF! Where's the ALMIGHTY WORD!
I feel rather deflated, excuse the pun, and I'm feeling just a little sorry for those fundamentalists whose belief system just suffered a major torpedo blow to the bow, How will this change their lives? Reminds me of that old song, "No one to talk to, all by my self, No one to walk with...
Seems they will have to learn how to take care of their lives by themselves, figure out solutions by themselves, act as if they are fully mature adults for a change.
Do I think any of this will actually materialize? Of course not. They will just go on as if they learned nothing from science, and think as the Jews did some 4000 years ago when the 'heavens' were atop the glass dome, just above the clouds.