Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sky Trackers Discussion

These are the excerpts from my discussion with my fellow Trinitian, Uthpala Herath at the facebook group Sky Trackers: Window on the Universe. The discussions started as an attempt to find the answer for a question raised by Uthpala, regarding Loop Quantum Gravity (A subject that is quite alien me) but ended as a deep discussion on cosmological implications of Buddhism.

Hey Uthpala, I think you got the answer for that Q at the official NASA facebook group. [His Q was whether Loop Quantum Gravity can be applied to black holes] We know the theory of LQG has inspired most ppl around the globe with it's 3 magnificent applications (nonperturbative quantization, calculation of the entropy of black holes and Big Bounce). As scientists vehemently feel uneasy with present standard model and the theory of big bang, I think we need huge refinements in our fundamental theories (Do you know that Stephen Hawking has bet that LHC would not find the Higgs Boson? If that happens, the future of Standard Model is at stake and ultimately could lead to the entire collapse of it!!!) Besides, to my mind, BBT too is purely unscientific with it's implication on the genesis of the universe... Don't you think it is hilarious to suggest an exact, predetermined moment some 13.7 Gigayears ago to bang our infinitely dense progenitor atom, or suggest that the entire universe has come out of nothing? Here I'm not pertaining to the Buddhist implication on universe, but pointing out the erroneousness of linear thinking (Thinking everything has an exact starting point and an exact ending, just like a straight line). Scientific community should ponder the fact that there’s something terribly wrong in our present understanding of the universe. There are some interesting new theories came out during last two decades or so, like MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics), String Theory and LQG, but none of them has proved correct due to the built-in mathematical complexity of them. And even our cutting edge technologies in particle physics can’t support them due to the huge energy gap in plank scale. But I hope those new attempts to overcome our barriers would result in a satisfactory understanding in a theoretical basis, at least.
Way go the Loop Quantum Theory, huh………………

Yes Uthpala, Buddhism has a unique view on universe. To my knowledge, regarding Buddhist view, there is a continuous process such in one period universe expands and in other, it shrinks on its own (I need citation for this fact as I'm not edified beyond what was on the grade 10 text book for Buddhism) Therefore you see that there is a nice correlation between Buddhist view of universe and the Big Bounce scenario predicted by LQG. Actually this is not the first time scientists forwarded a cyclic model on universe, but as my memory serves it was Alexander Strenagon during late 18th century was the first one to come up with such an idea. He called his theory, the 'Theory of Oscillatory Universe'. But it had a major deviation from the present LQG implication as it predicted a singularity situation (Just like what at the moment of big bang) at the end of each shrink. This theory was dismissed later, due to the fact that entropy of a closed system (here, in the universe) cannot decrease with time as a shrink of the universe would suggest that its entropy decreases with time. But even Einstein did favor the idea that universe could not have an exact birth and an end, but rather a have cyclic nature in evolution. This theory was refined by modern theorists introducing new methods to shrink our model universe without violating the second law in Thermodynamics. According to the big bounce scenario created by LQG, the universe does not collapse back to a singularity, but the gravity creates repulsion between collapsing matter acting as a repulsive force rather than acting as an attractive force at this highly dense situation.

Hey Uthpala, many thanks for explaining the Buddhist view on structural classification of universe. I admit that I'm no good at Buddhist Cosmology. And I will need some time to improve on that. I suppose these 31 mental states you mentioned include 16 Brahma loka, 4 heavens, 1 manussa loka, 1 pretaloka, 1 asura, 8 naraka. But out of them, the only world that is subjected to our matter on physical universe is manussa loka (human universe), isn't it? As I remember that is where Lord Buddha stated that 10^11 different human worlds (loka dhathu - sahassi, dwisahassi etc.) reside. And this physical world is further divided to 3 different worlds in size as Chulanika loka dhathu (Local cluster), Majjimanika loka dhathu (Local super cluster) and Maha loka dhathu (the entire universe). Your definition comes to the place of local cluster i think. Maha loka dhathu is described as immense and not to be measured or thought of by any means. This last explanation is so true that modern cosmology can't see anything beyond the observable universe as electromagnetic radiation - which is the source of all astrophysical observations, is not available beyond that region which is roughly a sphere of a radius 13.7B light years. It should be noted that this limit confines all our knowledge into this sphere whereas present acceleration of universe permits it to expand still far beyond that distance.
I think this website - which I found today - will be of a great use if you are particularly interested in Buddhist Cosmology :
Besides, my heartfelt thanks go to Uthpala, who brought me into this discussion:-)

Yes Uthpala, I'm so pleased to start a discussion of this kind, with you, regarding some controversial topics like cosmology and spirituality. But I wonder why no one else has contributed towards it yet as discussion is the best way to promote knowledge and understanding in all communities.
Back to the topic: although it’s not in your sense, I think combining sound waves with electromagnetic was done a long ago. Take an FM radio for instance. In it, the sound waves are modulated and transmitted all around the world as radio (EM) waves till an FM receiver grabs it. When it was demodulated, we get the exact sound wave (at least its footprint) we used before modulating. With reference to the Buddhist culture, the problem we encounter here is the how it is done in the context of a ‘person’ - that is, by not involving any kind of high tech method. In many Buddhist stories there are notations that Lord Buddha speaking to a group of people by sending a light wave. I’ve heard that Dr. Chandana Jayaratne mentioning many scientific researches do take place today to verify this fact. However, with the immenseness of our physical universe, we encounter rather big problem than that. That is that how Lord Buddha addressed human habitats all over the universe by a speck of thought whereas theories of Albert Einstein confines us to a magical number of 299 792 456 meters per second, which is nothing but the speed of light. Implications of his special relativity forbid us thinking of higher speeds beyond that. You know that, this is a highly rooted number in Physics. All those ‘side effects’ including time dilation, length contraction, mass inflation happen when a physical object tries to acquire this speed. Even EM radiation must stick to this speed. As this has become a headache to those who experiment in this subject, Stephen Hawking has indicated that even if we can’t go against Einstein, there should be a method to overtake or dismiss him! But, due to the fact that we yet see no way to break this barrier in the context of theoretical Physics, we have to think of a metaphysical methodology overcome this issue. Uthpala, my friend, I think you must have read the biography of late Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maithreeya thero that is compiled by Ven. Iththapaane Dhammalankara thero under the heading of ‘Budubawa Pathana Balangoda Ananda Maithreeya Mahanahimi’. I’ve got to read it only recently but WHOA, the unimaginable spiritual feats mentioned in that book, took me away to a new dimension of thinking about relation between physical and metaphysical universe. The world that we see before our eyes is a speck of this entire ‘sakwala’. It is rude to explore it with primordial equipment such as super huge telescopes but with our own mind - resides not far away, but inside if our mere 6 foot body!


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