God's DebrisАвтор: Scott Adams
ISBN: 0-7407-4787-8, 0740721909, 978-0740721908
Издана: Kansas City
“If the universe is nothing but dust and probability, cheapsoftwares.ru how does anything happen? ” I asked. “How do you explain gravity and motion? Why doesn’t everything stay exactly where it is? ”
“I can answer those questions by answering other questions first, ” he said.
“Okay. Whatever works. ”
“Science is based on assumptions. Scientists assume that electricity will behave the same tomorrow as today. They assume that the laws of physics that apply on Earth will apply on other planets. Usually the assumptions are right, or close enough to be useful.
“But sometimes assumptions lead us down the wrong path. For example, we assume time is continuous—meaning that between any two moments of time, no matter how brief, is more time. But if that’s true, then a minute would last forever because it would contain an infinite number of smaller time slices, and infinity means you never run out. ”
“That’s an old mind trick I learned about in school, ” I said. “I think it’s called Zeno’s Paradox, after some old Greek guy who thought it up first. ”
“And what is the solution? ” he asked.
“The solution is that each of the infinite slices of time are infinitely small, so the math works out. You can have continuous time without a minute lasting an eternity. ”
“Yes, the math does work out. And minutes don’t seem to take forever, so we assume Zeno’s Paradox is not really a paradox at all. Unfortunately, the solution is wrong. Infinity is a useful tool for math, but it is only a concept. It is not a feature of our physical reality. ”
“I thought the universe was infinitely large, ” I replied.
“Most scientists agree that the universe is big, but finite. ”
“That doesn’t make sense. What if I took a rocket to the edge of the universe, then I kept going. Couldn’t I keep going forever? Where would I be if not in the universe? ”
“You are always part of the universe, by definition. So when your rocket goes beyond the current boundary, the boundary moves with you. You become the outer edge for that direction. But the universe is still a specific size, not infinite. ”
“Okay, the universe itself might be finite, but all the stuff around it, the nothingness, that’s infinite, right? ” I asked.
“It is meaningless to say you have an infinite supply of nothing. ”
“Yeah, I guess so. But let’s get back to the subject, ” I said. “How do you explain Zeno’s Paradox? ”
“Imagine that everything in existence disappears and then reappears. How much time expires while everything is gone? ”
“How should I know? You’re the one making up the example. How much? ”
“No time passes. It can’t because time is a human concept of how things change compared to other things. If everything in the universe disappears, nothing exists to change compared to other things, so there is no time. ”
“What if everything disappears except for me and my wristwatch? ” I asked.
“Then you would experience the passing of time in relation to yourself and to your watch. And when the rest of the universe reappeared you could check on how much time had passed according to your watch. But the people in the rest of the universe would have experienced no time while they were gone. To them, you instantly aged. Their time and your time were not the same because you experienced change and they did not. There is no universal time clock; time differs for every observer. ”
“Okay, I think I get that. But how is any of this going to answer my original question about gravity and what makes things move? ”
“Have you ever seen a graph of something called a probability distribution? ” he asked.
“Yes. It has a bunch of dots on it. The places with the most dots are where there’s the greatest probability, ” I said, pleased to remember something from my statistics classes.
“The universe looks a lot like a probability graph. The heaviest concentrations of dots are the galaxies and planets, where the force of gravity seems the strongest. But gravity is not a tugging force. Gravity is the result of probability. ”
“You lost me. ”
“Reality has a pulse, a rhythm, for lack of better words. God’s dust disappears on one beat and reappears on the next in a new position based on probability. If a bit of God-dust disappears near a large mass, say a planet, then probability will cause it to pop back into existence nearer to the planet on the next beat. Probability is highest when you are near massive objects. Or to put it another way, mass is the physical expression of probability. ”
“I think I understand that, sort of, ” I lied.
“If you observed God-dust that was near the Earth it would look like it was being sucked toward the planet. But there is no movement across space in the sense that we understand it. The dust is continuously disappearing in one place and appearing in another, with each new location being nearer the Earth. ”
“I prefer the current theory of gravity, ” I said. “Newton and Einstein had it pretty much figured out. The math works with their theories. I’m not so sure about yours. ”
“The normal formulas for gravity work fine with my description of reality, ” he replied. “All I’ve done is add another level of understanding. Newton and Einstein gave us formulas for gravity, but neither man answered the question of why objects seem attracted to each other. ”
“Einstein did explain it, ” I said. “Remember, we talked about that? He said space was warped by matter, so what looks like gravity is just objects following the path of warped space. ”
The old man just looked at me.
“Okay, ” I said. “I admit I don’t know what any of that means. It does sound like nonsense. ”
“Einstein’s language about bent space and my description of God-dust are nothing more than mental models. If they help us deal wth our environment, they are useful. My description of gravity is easier to understand than Einstein’s model. In that sense, mine is better. ”
I chuckled. I had never heard anyone compare himself to Einstein. I was impressed by his cockiness but not convinced. “You haven’t explained orbits. Under your theory, how could a moon orbit a planet and not be sucked into it? Your God-dust would pop into existence closer to the planet every time it appeared until it crashed into the surface. ”
“You are ready for the second law of gravity. ”
“I guess I am. ”
“There is one other factor that influences the position of matter when it pops back into existence. That force is inertia, for lack of a better word. Although God-dust is unimaginably small, it has some probability of popping into existence exactly where another piece of God-dust exists. When that happens, one of the particles has to find a new location and alter its probability. To the observer, if one could see such tiny happenings, it looks like the particles collide and then change direction and speed. The new speed is determined by how far from its original spot the God-dust appears with each beat of the universe. If each new location is far from the old spot, we perceive the object to be moving fast. ”
He continued. “So there is always a dual probability influencing each particle of God-dust. One probability makes all God-dust pop into existence nearer to other God– dust. The other probability is that the dust will appear along a straight line drawn from its past. All apparent motion in the universe is based on those competing probabilities.
“Earth’s moon, for example, has a certain probability of coming toward the Earth and a certain probability of moving in a straight line. The two probabilities are, by chance, in balance. If gravity were a tugging force, the way we normally think of it, there would be some sort of friction, slowing the moon and eventually dragging it to Earth. But since gravity is nothing more than probability, there is no friction or tugging. The moon can orbit almost indefinitely because its position is determined by probability, not by tugging or pushing. ”
“What if all the dust that makes up the moon doesn’t reappear near its last position? ” I asked. “You said it’s only a matter of probability where the dust reappears, so couldn’t the moon suddenly vanish if all its dust disappeared and then appeared on the other side of the solar system? ”
“Yes, it could. But the probability of that is ridiculously small. ”
“The trouble with your theory, ” I said, “is that matter doesn’t pop in and out of existence. Scientists would have noticed that by now. ”
“Actually, they have. Matter pops into and out of existence all the time. That’s what a quantum leap is. You’ve probably heard the term but didn’t know its origin. ”
“I’ll be darned, ” I said.