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Thread: Any physics people? About infinity

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    Default Any physics people? About infinity.

    So, first off, I have absolutely no training on this topic, and I've never taken a physics class (which may be obvious in my post, LOL). I was wondering about the general concept of infinity with special focus on infinite universes, though, and wanted to see if anybody would comment. Several times now, I've been watching a program on Discovery or Science Channel in which renowned physicists seem to claim that infinite universes exist. I have trouble with this for a few reasons, and would appreciate some feedback.

    Their main argument seems to be that, because an object has infinite possibilities (not sure exactly what they mean here--possibilities with regard to... location?), then it follows that there are infinite universes in which the object exists in those possible states.
    • So, my first question is, does the existence of infinite universes imply the existence of infinite matter? Or would a finite amount of matter exist in the infinite universes at the same time? The rest of my questions rely upon this.
    • If I agree to the premise that an object has infinite possibilities, is that just a property or quality of the object? Why does this premise imply anything about the quantity of objects?
    • The scientists will illustrate their point with the idea that there exists a universe in which Napoleon won the war and Elvis is still alive. With this illustration, are they treating infinity like a number by pulling out a single instance? I know there are infinite integers, and you can identify a single integer, but that's a concept and not matter.
    • For each possibility, is there also an "anti-possibility"?
    • I'm gonna go ahead and ignore black holes for now.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I'll give this a crack, but I'm "only" a lay person too. Expect this post to be riddled with highly unscientific language and potential misrepresentation of scientific concepts.

    The way the infinite universes split off from each other means, each potential universe is like an alternate course that the particles that comprise matter can take. Universes where history itself is changed are really, really extreme versions of that.

    Basically, let's say you have an electron. They're not quite waves, and they're not quite particles. They're basically little wiggly things that vibrate. From what I understand, the wiggling is kind of random. What winds up happening is that the wiggling occurs in every direction at exactly the same time, but each direction of wiggle spawns its own universe.

    As to your question on the quantity of matter, the importance of what I said above is thus: each universe's matter content is parallel to every other universe's. It's just matter that's done something differently, if that makes any sense.

    Also remember that matter and energy are equivalent, so I'm pretty sure you can't lose matter, energy, or information from a given universe, making them a closed system. This is my highly uneducated educated guess, so don't quote me on that

    Also, remember that numbers are abstract representations of physical quantities. Much like you can pick a number out of an infinite set (like picking "1" out of the set of all integers), you can pick a single hypothetical universe out of the set of all universes. It's exactly the same

    As for whether there's an anti-possibility to each possibility, how are you defining "anti-possibility"? Is it just another class of a potential direction for matter to take?

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    Quote Originally Posted by April View Post
    • So, my first question is, does the existence of infinite universes imply the existence of infinite matter? Or would a finite amount of matter exist in the infinite universes at the same time? The rest of my questions rely upon this.
    I'll tell you some random ideas:

    If a system depends on two input variables, and these two can hold an infinite number of different states, the system is said to have a "double infinity" number of different states. Even if you fix one of them and you still got a system with infinite possibilities. For instance: assume time and space are infinite, even if you fix one (a certain moment in time), there is room for infinite coordinates (space) or viceversa.

    If a system has one input variable, and you get infinite "clones" of the system, you get an infinite number of input variables as a result.

    In both cases, I guess the answer is yes. Nevertheless, ask Chuck Norris as he created the universe, or so they say.


    • If I agree to the premise that an object has infinite possibilities, is that just a property or quality of the object? Why does this premise imply anything about the quantity of objects?
    An object floating in the space would be useless, unless you can relate it to others. Then you can play around and re-arrange the "reality" in many different ways.


    • The scientists will illustrate their point with the idea that there exists a universe in which Napoleon won the war and Elvis is still alive. With this illustration, are they treating infinity like a number by pulling out a single instance? I know there are infinite integers, and you can identify a single integer, but that's a concept and not matter.
    Infinite is not a number, but the absence of limits. Another POV: If you live in an island and no one knows how to swim, fly or build ships, you are isolated there. Anything far enough from your island is the infinity, either if it is 10 or 100000 kms away.


    • For each possibility, is there also an "anti-possibility"?
    I dunno

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    Quote Originally Posted by April View Post
    does the existence of infinite universes imply the existence of infinite matter? Or would a finite amount of matter exist in the infinite universes at the same time?
    Translated into my lingo I guess this question goes like this:

    Must a universe - whatever that is - that is infinite in volume contain an infinite amount of matter? Or can a universe contain just a finite amount of matter yet be infinite in volume?
    AFAICT the proper answer seems to be that nobody has a clue. Not sure I translated you correctly, though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by April View Post
    Their main argument seems to be that, because an object has infinite possibilities (not sure exactly what they mean here--possibilities with regard to... location?), then it follows that there are infinite universes in which the object exists in those possible states.
    Ok I translated you wrong.

    Your question is about quantum superposition of states, taking unitary evolution of states at face value and denying that applying an observable (Hermitian) operator to a state vector breaks the unitary evolution. Something like the Everett Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics or whatever.

    Some people may have a clue about that. I read a while ago something that suggested that unitary evolution breaks down on it's own accord as soon as objects become much more massive than elementary particles. In that case, the whole idea of any indefinite "parallell" evolution of states is dead.

    But I don't know.

    A second and quite independent idea is the idea of reality being a multiverse - a possibly infinite collection of totally or partly disconnected universes, each with totally different laws of nature. Which I don't a any clue about at all to be quite honest.
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    You have to understand the multiple universe theory isn't really an established milestone of physics or something, its an idea tossed around by theoretical physicists. It really has zero credibility because it can't be experimentally proven.

    It isn't a belief (nothing in science is a belief system) or an established theory in physics, that all physics people know, like the theory of relativity or something.

    Second of all the basic concept is that since the universe is infinite in scope, that there are an infinite number of possibilities, and therefore no matter how exceedingly rare it is for a star to give birth to the same solar system as ours and life to evolve just it did on ours, there is a place out there where it did, purely because its one options among an infinite number of them.

    It doesn't really pay to quantify this though as the old montage "garbage in, garbage out" applies..... if the theory is bullshit you gain nothing from throwing numbers in to better understand it.

    I don't really like the new-age pseduo science quantum spirituality stuff, I'm more than content asking a simple question like "what is matter" or "what is infinity" or "how big is the universe" or "what is the source of gravity" or "how massive is the universe". There are tons of interesting questions in physics that related to grounded things. I'll try to answer some question as well as possible according to my understanding but to warn you all I'm not a big pseduo science new age quantum spirituality guru guy.
    Last edited by male; 12-10-2010 at 08:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by April View Post
    • So, my first question is, does the existence of infinite universes imply the existence of infinite matter? Or would a finite amount of matter exist in the infinite universes at the same time? The rest of my questions rely upon this.
    • If I agree to the premise that an object has infinite possibilities, is that just a property or quality of the object? Why does this premise imply anything about the quantity of objects?
    • The scientists will illustrate their point with the idea that there exists a universe in which Napoleon won the war and Elvis is still alive. With this illustration, are they treating infinity like a number by pulling out a single instance? I know there are infinite integers, and you can identify a single integer, but that's a concept and not matter.
    • For each possibility, is there also an "anti-possibility"?
    • I'm gonna go ahead and ignore black holes for now.
    A complex science question...and Brilliand's probably still in bed. I'll try it anyway.

    An infinite universe would mean infinite matter, unless the universe is stretchy, which it is. Infinite universes would need infinite matter, unless all of them used the same matter, which I think is stupid, or some of them had no matter, which makes sense but probably doesn't matter.

    If something is infinite, it's a property and a quality and I don't know the difference between the two. If you want to kow quantity, just draw a sideways eight and drop the subject. It's easier than picturing really, really, really, ect. big.

    Philosophical scientists. It doesn't get much weirder than that. If it goes long enough without being proven, then can accept it as fact, and how does one prove that there aren't an infinite number of parallel universes? Personally, I don't think Elvis would even have been born in a paralled universe because his parents would never have met because Napoleon won the war.

    Anti-possibility? you mean a dimension in which all positive numbers are negative and vice versa? Whatever. Weird.

    Black holes are just big lumps of gravity. They're good to avoid, but I don't see why they need ignored.

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  8. #8
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    On Electrons: The statement, "They are not quite waves and not quite particles", is incorrect, they behave as both, they have all the properties of waves and all the properties of particles... its a duality, the wave particle duality, a fundamental paradigm shift in physical thought. Originally people thought things were either one of two things, particles or waves and they remained separate distinct things. This was because it was how people typically saw things with their senses. However as people began investigating deeper and deeper people realized that particles behave as waves and waves as particles-- that fundamentally there is no separate distinction between the two, everything in reality is both a particle and wave at the same time, the distinction between waves and particles is fundamentally absurd and nothing more than an optical illusion people were lead to believe by their senses. Its a hard thing to really grasp until you understand the history behind the experiments... electron diffraction and the photoelectric effect are two milestones... they proved that electrons, which had always been considered particles are actually waves also, and the photoelectric effect proved that photons, which had always been considered waves are actually particles too. No one really grasps this entirely until they study modern physics long enough because everyone is first brought up in school being taught classical physics. The wave particle duality was a profound paradigm shift in the way the universe works.

    On objects floating in space interacting: See quantum entanglement, the idea is that particles are entangled with all other particles, there is no way to isolate a particle entirely from anything entirely. Things are entangled. Part of this is because electrons don't exist as discrete points with finite boundaries, but exist as probablistic wave functions. 99% of the electron exists in an orbital shell determined by its quantum numbers which represents its energy, angular momentum, and spin... its unique orbital properties. The other 1% of the electron extends from where the 99% percent boundary ends and off to infinity. In a sense their are no real clear boundaries to an atom, and this is all because an atom is as much a wave as a particle. If you look at a ripple in a pond... consider while a disturbance may be localized at a single point when you throw a pebble in a pond that in fact that localized wave is connected to a membrane of the water surface and that such a localized disturbance can in fact spread out and cause disturbances all across the pond surface. This is the way atoms are in reality. They are not truely localized at a single finite point, they are but disturbances in a greater "pond". This is also a facet to the uncertainity principle. When something has high momentum and travels fast.... it has an uncertain position, when an atom travels fast, its wave function spreads out like ripples on a ponds surface and its position becomes uncertain. when an atom travels slowly and has a low momentum, its wave function becomes denser and more "spiked" and localized like the pebble being thrown into a pond. Fundamentally all matter is entangled, but its really how it moves through time and space that causes it to spread its influence out and become more or less localized. Now hopefully you can see why some theoretically physicists think in terms of string theory and membranes.

    On infinity: Yea its helpful to think of infinity as a concept and not a number in a normal sense. Infinity has strange properties... like inf + inf =/= 2*inf.... normal mathematical intuition is thrown out when working with infinity. Infinity is most concretely conceptualized iteratively in my opinion. Take a large number and add a large number to it, do this for an eternity and at the end you'll arrive at infinity. It's never really a static destination because in a sense if your doing something for an eternity, there really is no "end"... its more a figurative final destination that is never achieved. Usually in mathematics infinity serves as a limit or boundary of some sort. You can analyze things in terms of this approaches this destination (infinity) and this approaches this destination (infinity).... when you add the effects together they both are moving towards a similar destination (infinity). Now the real question is something like when two things are multiplied and one thing approaches infinity and the other zero... which dominates? Its a bit paradoxical.... but this in part is the dilemma faced in the definition of the exponential function. One element approaches infinity and the other zero.... but one element approaches its destination faster than the other and therefore the value converges to "e". So infinity is more helpful to think of iteratively and in terms of limits than it is as a static number or value.




    I'll get to some more stuff later

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    Quote Originally Posted by April View Post
    Their main argument seems to be that, because an object has infinite possibilities (not sure exactly what they mean here--possibilities with regard to... location?), then it follows that there are infinite universes in which the object exists in those possible states.
    It doesn't follow. I actually doubt that it's so, since that type of multiverse would only be possible if the randomness was something fundamental and not just a matter of us not knowing what's going to happen... and I favor "God does not play dice" (--Einstein). There's been experiments to demonstrate that particles behave as though random as opposed to as though having their own individual states, but AFAICT, entanglement (which HLD mentioned) provides a way for particles to be deterministic en masse without being consistent individually.

    Universe-splitting, on the other hand, would imply that determinism actually breaks down at that point, except for exactly one of the infinitely many universes. (Though there would be plenty more that only had one mistake in all of history... technically... an infinite number, but still an infinitely small percentage of the total number of universes. Tricky.) Some of them wouldn't even develop science because the laws of physics were so inconsistent.



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    Quote Originally Posted by Brilliand View Post
    It doesn't follow. I actually doubt that it's so, since that type of multiverse would only be possible if the randomness was something fundamental and not just a matter of us not knowing what's going to happen... and I favor "God does not play dice" (--Einstein). There's been experiments to demonstrate that particles behave as though random as opposed to as though having their own individual states, but AFAICT, entanglement (which HLD mentioned) provides a way for particles to be deterministic en masse without being consistent individually.

    Universe-splitting, on the other hand, would imply that determinism actually breaks down at that point, except for exactly one of the infinitely many universes. (Though there would be plenty more that only had one mistake in all of history... technically... an infinite number, but still an infinitely small percentage of the total number of universes. Tricky.) Some of them wouldn't even develop science because the laws of physics were so inconsistent.
    on the last note, if there were multiple universes and if these different universes less consistant laws of physics, then conservation of energy/matter wouldn't necessarily hold up. so to whatever question was about all universes having the same amount of matter, some might lose their matter to become nothing, and some might gain to become infinate... or something...

    idk something that i thought of right away when i first read Aprils questions.

    personally I'm with the one not fully understood universe thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by April View Post
    • If I agree to the premise that an object has infinite possibilities, is that just a property or quality of the object? Why does this premise imply anything about the quantity of objects?

    Just because at each turning point in an object's life, the object will follow each and every possiblility in each universe (which is presumed to be an infinite number of universes). If you wish to consider an object's outcome\possible outcome as a property, I don't see why not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    [/LIST]
    Just because at each turning point in an object's life, the object will follow each and every possiblility in each universe (which is presumed to be an infinite number of universes). If you wish to consider an object's outcome\possible outcome as a property, I don't see why not.
    Oh, so there is no such thing as faith, and you are in control of your every action.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Subterranean View Post
    All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
    you sound like an 80 year old indian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyrano View Post
    The Universe is a ball. We travel along its surface, never reaching an end point.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairy_ball_theorem



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    Quote Originally Posted by April View Post
    So, first off, I have absolutely no training on this topic, and I've never taken a physics class (which may be obvious in my post, LOL). I was wondering about the general concept of infinity with special focus on infinite universes, though, and wanted to see if anybody would comment. Several times now, I've been watching a program on Discovery or Science Channel in which renowned physicists seem to claim that infinite universes exist. I have trouble with this for a few reasons, and would appreciate some feedback.

    Their main argument seems to be that, because an object has infinite possibilities (not sure exactly what they mean here--possibilities with regard to... location?), then it follows that there are infinite universes in which the object exists in those possible states.
    • So, my first question is, does the existence of infinite universes imply the existence of infinite matter? Or would a finite amount of matter exist in the infinite universes at the same time? The rest of my questions rely upon this.
    • If I agree to the premise that an object has infinite possibilities, is that just a property or quality of the object? Why does this premise imply anything about the quantity of objects?
    • The scientists will illustrate their point with the idea that there exists a universe in which Napoleon won the war and Elvis is still alive. With this illustration, are they treating infinity like a number by pulling out a single instance? I know there are infinite integers, and you can identify a single integer, but that's a concept and not matter.
    • For each possibility, is there also an "anti-possibility"?
    • I'm gonna go ahead and ignore black holes for now.

    Thanks!
    infinite universes is an idea used to explain quantum superposition; basically the amount of matter is the same, but the organization of matter can exist (and does exist, according to some quantum physicists) in an infinite number of simultaneous configurations...there is a chance that a tornado (or a very resourceful result type ) will accidentally turn a scrap pile into a perfectly functioning airplane, but it is very unlikely...

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