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Posts Tagged ‘Space

Fundamental Physics.

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If you think that we may someday reach a fundamental level of understanding.

I think we never will.

Not because we lack the resources, which we may or may not, but because there is no level that is ever fundamental.

The most fundamental understanding we already have today.

Or at least *I* have it. And it’s exactly what I keep talking about.

In the most simple terms it’s like this: There’s a phenomenon. Why did it occur? Ah, it seems to be causally linked to these phenomena. But why did they occur? Well, they seem to occur within this causal pattern with even more subtle phenomena. But why do those phenomena occur? And so on, and so on, and so on.

You either follow a never ending network of causality between ever new phenomenal patterns or you encounter at some point phenomena that don’t seem to be causally connected to anything and just happen. Once you encounter those you can come to the conclusion that they do, indeed happen for no reason or that they are causally connected in ways that you cannot fathom. But even assuming the latter you’re only back to chasing an infinite causality along an infinite causal network.

Well, if you assume that some phenomena happen for no reason then you can stop asking questions about a phenomenon’s past. The question “why” means “for what reason,” and if you assume that there are none then there is no “why.” If you assume that even if you can’t find any reason for the moment there might still be one you’re still stuck with why the infinite network of cause and effect exists. It could be caused by something but that just means there’s an even bigger network into which the infinite network is embedded. What about the whole thing of all causal connections, no matter how big it is? Well, if it’s *all* causal connections that there are then it cannot have a causal connection to anything outside it any more. So the whole entirety of phenomena and causal patterns between them has no cause.

And that’s the only fundamental metaphysical law you can be sure of. Everything altogether can’t have a reason because there’s nothing else by definition.

What else do you suggest would be a fundamental understanding? So we’ve discovered the hot, dense state that the Universe used to be in and we call it the Big Bang. Well, why did the Big Bang happen? Apparently our matter was caused by initial imbalances in the energy distribution of the Universe in its initial stages. Well, why did those imbalances exist? Even if you explain them through even earlier imbalances you haven’t really answered anything. Either you can infinitely regress in your causality or you can postulate at some point that this is just the Universe the way it was for no reason.

It can be fun to dig ever deeper, looking to see what else will turn up. But don’t expect ever to hit bottom! Or, if you hit bottom, you’re left with explaining why there’s a bottom there. There’s never any final answer that way.

The only final answers there are are: The principle of cause and effect exists for no reason, everything altogether exists for no reason, therefore its particular shape has no ultimate reason other than internal consistency if cause and effect sticks to the laws we’ve figured out. And that’s the way it is, the way it was, and the way it always will be, no matter how primitive or how technologically advanced we are.

Physics is interesting. It provides us with a certain amount of control over our environment and a reasonably good life. So, by all means, let’s keep exploring! But don’t expect it to ever provide you with salvation from existentialist uncertainty! Cosmologists who claim they could explain it all any day now are bullshitting you and maybe even themselves.


Written by ulrichschreglmann

April 18, 2010 at 4:08 am

Dark Matter.

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It occurs to me that if we had space telescopes floating in interplanetary
space for detecting gravity waves then it wouldn’t be all that hard to ac-
tually see that stuff—at least the dark matter that is irregular in shape
and rotates around itself or each other…

This is one of those fields in which we know we are virtually blind but
know theoretically how to construct eyes for ourselves. It would be a
revolution comparable to the introduction of the radio telescope last cen-
tury. The only problem is, gravity telescopes don’t work unless they’re
suspended in weightlessness and span huge distances…

But if we had them we might even figure out why galaxies are clustered
like the skins of bubbles in space. What force is driving them away from
the center of those spheres of seeming emptiness…?

Written by ulrichschreglmann

April 4, 2010 at 1:35 am

The Theory of Relativity.

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If the Theory of Relativity failed you would find phenomena that
are different depending on which frame of reference you happen to be
in – as in “if I move to this side or as I fall down this gravity well
I can measure different quantum phenomena as when I’m floating around
at this speed over here.”

As long as no empirical evidence has been gathered to that effect the
Theory of Relativity is airtight. The moment you find phenomena of
that sort it suffers the same fate as the Newtonian model – being con-
sidered a practical approximation. But to my knowledge that hasn’t
happened yet so far. Whether it’s merely for lack of opportunities
to have laboratories at vastly different speeds and orbits in space we
don’t know at this point…

It’s interesting how little we know about the forces that hold our
galaxies together. There seems to be as much ignorance about them to-
day as there was ignorance about the Solar System in Newton’s days.

Written by ulrichschreglmann

April 4, 2010 at 1:03 am

We currently have no successful model for self-sustained life disconnected from earth’s ecosystem.

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That’s why we must take baby steps. The first step
shouldn’t be about settling in space but simply of going there to
solve our energy problem down here on Earth.

For that we need space elevators first. We just have to have them.
Even if they cost hundreds of billions, it would be worth the expense.

Because with space elevators we can transport huge solar arrays into
geostationary orbit that collect electric energy there, where the Sun
shines at high noon 24/7 without weather, without nights, which would
be beamed down as microwave energy and collected by rectennas on the

That solves our electric energy problem, and if we changed our trans-
portation infrastructure accordingly, with plug-in hybrids, that
could go a long way of improving our quality of life everywhere. An
abundance of electricity would also make it possible to create hydro-
gen gas, which could be used in fuel cells and for producing ferti-
lizer without natural gas. Water shortages wouldn’t be an issue any
more if we had enough power to simply desalinate ocean water and to
pump it wherever it’s needed. Deserts could bloom from that and the
added photosynthesis could get rid of our atmospheric carbon dioxide

The next step would involve fuel factories in space. They would be
the first step towards an ecosystem. We’d use the sunlight for pho-
tosynthesis by pumping biomass through tubes, producing fuels like
biodiesel and ethanol using algae. That would let us run internal
combustion engines down here on Earth the old-fashioned way.

If we had this system going we’d also be able to produce oxygen,
which would be the first step towards actual stable biospheres.
This would be the point when we could start actually moving agri-
culture into space, which could grow to such vast proportions that
it could feed the entire population on Earth and then some. But
if all that food is grown in space it would also become a liveable
place for human beings, with much more space than the Earth’s sur-
face could ever provide. Ecosystems could be huge, thus cushion-
ing the effects of imbalances.

So these are the three steps: First electricity, then fuel, then
food. And then actual habitation as a fourth step. We wouldn’t
have to start out with working ecosystems. The first profitable
venture would simply involve collecting solar energy for Earth and
to go from there…

But we do need those space elevators for any of it…

Written by ulrichschreglmann

March 29, 2010 at 4:56 am