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Discussion on Grava and Cosmology

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10/28/2000 Ray Cruz to Dr. Jim Kennedy by e-mail:

Hello Jim,

Hopefully you can devote a few minutes to reading and maybe critiquing my treatise on grava.  Thanks for giving me the inspiration to do this.

(Dr. Kennedy had previously recommended that Ray read 'The Elegant Universe' by Brian Greene, after several discussions about cosmology.  Ray read the book and felt compelled to resolve some of the issues presented by creating a new theory as presented here.  Ray attached the Treatise on Grava to this message.) 

Dr. Jim Kennedy replies to introduction to Grava Treatise by e-mail October 29, 2000

Ray:

Thanks for sharing this with me.  You obviously have been enthralled with this very interesting problem.  There are a number of seductive philosophical possibilities, some of which you have described.

Recalling that the scientific method is NOT the only way of gaining knowledge of the universe (e.g. if one could have a discussion with an advanced alien race, or perhaps God, one could skip over a lot of grief), there are some comments that can be made about the "scientific" approach. 

First of all, nature knows nothing of mathematics.  Nature behaves according to rules; the rules know nothing about mathematics.  (This is not unlike your description of Grava.)

Humans work the problem from the bottom up; basically by cut and try, and by rejecting what seems to fail.  We use mathematics as a way of trying to organize what we observe.  It is a tool, it is not the rule (though sometimes we talk like it is).  Math is just a means of quantifying how nature behaves.  This bottom-up approach has no sure guaranty of success, but it is the only way we know how to approach discovery in a systematic way. 

Philosophically, one can argue that the scientific method is guaranteed to fail as soon as we reach a point of trying to explain that which we cannot observe or measure (a point we have certainly not reached yet). Then again, our ability to "explain" the universe mathematically has (so far) always given us insights into how to observe that which before we either didn't know how to observe, or even know that we should/could look for. 

What we are really trying to do is "model" the universe, mathematically.  I stress the word "model".  Models are not reality, they are by definition "imitations". 

Intellectually honest scientists know that we are not "explaining" the universe, just building mathematical constructs that are (to varying degrees) successful in predicting the outcome of "experiments" (that is, given the "before" state, predict the "after" state of configurations of matter and energy involved in some sort of interaction).  From that perspective, within their original realms, general relativity (big mass/energy at large distances) and quantum theory (small mass/energy at small distances), get very high marks.

The big-versus-small realms of these two theories represent "endpoints" or extreme states of physical systems.  They clearly are not the more general case of ANY amount of mass/energy at ANY distance.  As pointed out in the Elegant Universe, the two theories cannot be directly combine and still yield meaningful answers. 

That doesn't mean that the two theories are intrinsically wrong.  It probably only means that, without realizing it, the mathematical descriptions of the two theories include certain hidden (and probably simplifying) assumptions that are justified in each extreme case, but cannot be successfully used together in the general case.

The challenges discussed in the Elegant Universe relate to finding out what those assumptions are and properly describing the more general set of rules underlying the whole range of mass/energy states.

To be seen as successful, any approach needs to provide a pathway to building the most general mathematical description, that actually works.

The concepts in the Elegant Universe show some promise of this, though they probably aren't the only way to do it.  It isn't immediately clear to me how one might do that with your picture, but that might be an area to focus your attention as you expand the concept into more details.

Some of the ideas in your thesis are reminiscent of others that have popped up before, so clearly you are in good company.  For example, in the 1930's (+/-) the British physicist Sir Arthur Eddington attempted to use quantum theory to calculate the total number of mathematically possible quantum wave functions and produce what he regarded as a calculation of the total amount of mass/energy in the universe.  He concluded (as you have proposed) that it was a specific fixed number. (I don't recall the names, but there are a couple of interesting popular books about his fascinating work.  There is another book that mentions him -- I think its "From Einstein to Eddington".)

About the same time, the mathematician Mach also proposed a principle that attempted to explain the equality of inertial mass and gravitational mass (something we still don't really understand) as the result of each particle in the universe interacting gravitationally with every other particle (sort of like your Grava notion).

Another book you will probably enjoy is Steven Hawking's "Black Holes and Baby Universes".  It's in paperback, I just saw it in Bookman's or someplace the other day.

Another issue is the question of how many universes there are (every black whole could be the "outside" of another universe (Hawking's "baby universes").  And even Hawking has found himself wondering, if everything is follows rules, who/what wrote the rules -- a question that is edging ever closer to being of scientific interest and not just metaphysical interest?

Regards,

Jim

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