Thursday, December 8, 2005

The origin of the universe, chaos, fractals and "God"

by Elaine Walker, Dec 8, 2005
Current mood:  peaceful

Hi folks. I'm writing a series of essays about the stuff I think and wonder about. I hope to get some feedback as I go so I can keep improving them. My goal is to eventually write a book. Here are some of the topics I'll write about just to give you a preview: 

The origin of the universe - Was there an actual beginning in the Big Bang, or more of a "fuzzy" beginning with no actual pinpoint of origin? Are we holograms? This is a new idea that might bring together quantum physics and relativity. I personally like the idea of the universe starting from a perfectly symmetrical point of pure energy - what could be more wonderful than that idea? I even wrote a whole song about that entitled Big Bang, but I might have to let go of that if other theories explain things a bit better. Darnit. So I’ll be looking beyond the Big Bang theory and looking at new scientific inquiries. It can’t hurt to look. But my main focus, and what disturbs me most about the origin of the universe, is the “first cause problem”. “What caused the first cause”? seems like a silly question since “caused” is past tense, yet used to inquire about something that was before time. Yet, it is an obvious question coming from a creature living in a seemingly causal universe.

God - Is God logically necessary? In other words, does there really need to be a mystical entity to explain the origin of the universe, or is it possible that the explanation is contained within the universe itself? The universe is filled with paradoxes, and the idea of infinity is impossible for us to grasp, yet scientists still hope to explain the universe with rational explanations. Perhaps both of these ideas need reexamining. Maybe there was no mysitcal entity involved and the universe really did bootstrap itself into existence, but even so, perhaps we still need to let go of rational thought to a degree if we want to get to the bottom/beginning of things. The idea of letting go of rational thought is not easy to think about. 

Chaos theory and fractals - Can everything in the universe, besides intelligently designed objects, be explained on a certain level with chaos theory and fractals (ie. dynamical systems, complexity theory, etc)? I think so. Mandelbrot himself said this. It must be true! I've thought about this for many years and cannot find any examples of structures in the universe that don't appear to me to be fractal in structure, including timelines. History repeats itself in self-similar forms. There is no denying that! In fact, the more in tune I get (developing my “fractal geometer’s eye”) the more surprising places I see chaotic patterns and fractals. For the layman, chaos theory and fractals are intimately related. Chaos mathematics involves functions where the output is fed back into the input (the seed value), like a mathematical feedback loop. The resulting output would be a tree, or a cloud, or a mountain scape, or the stock market, or what have you. The output of these iterated functions is often fractal in nature, where there are self-similar structures at different scales. This is easy to imagine if you've ever stared at clouds out of an airplane window - close up they have certain shapes, and farther away you see the same shapes on a much larger scale. Mountain sides tend to look similar from far away or close up. That is precisely why geologists often put a knife in the picture for scale. Often a tree will be the shape of it's individual leaves. 

Consciousness - What is it, really? I do not believe we have a separate spirit that contains our consciousness. I don't deny that there might be something more to us other than our bodies and minds, but that is a different topic. What I'd like to expand upon is the actual mechanics behind consciousness. In brief, I believe it is somehow an overflow of our intelligence that is meant to act as a filter so that we can function properly. Not that we function properly anyway, but imagine if our brains were left to process everything they possibly could with no filter or self controlling mechanisms. I believe our consciousness has a specific function - to act as another layer on top of our subconscious that allows our brains to grow more complex without going haywire.