This is me procrastinating dissertation work...
Roger Penrose, one of the physicists responsible for developing the theories about black holes, has said that the chance of an ordered universe happening at random is nearly impossible. According to Penrose, the chances are about 1 in 10 to the 123rd!
This number is so large that if you programmed a computer to write a million zeros per second, it would take a million times the age of the universe just to write the number down. I find this comforting.
Click here to see a BBC interview about his newest take on the Big Bang and what happened before it.
In this interview, Penrose points out that if you look "back in time" all the way to the big bang, you see an increase in order, making the moment of the Big Bang an incredibly organized state.
Since then, the universe has experienced increasing entropy.
Penrose's newest theory states that as the universe is ever-expanding, instead of collapsing back into itself, it actually expands so far out that time and space cease to exist. (Time is measured by relation of particles and movement. Thus, once all matter has decayed, time ceases to exist.) At this point, the timelessness once again exists.
In this timelessness, Penrose believes "another" (or maybe the same) Big Bang occurs. He says that this can agree with the quantum theory of multiple instantiated co-existant universes, but doesn't have to.
I find the "doesn't have to" part philosophically fascinating. The question of whether or not other universes exist would depend on whether or not the "same" Big Bang occurs each time. And the similarity of the Big Bangs would depend on the degree of organization in each. If the system is PERFECTLY organized, then there would be the same exact Big Bang each time. If it's even a quark off, then parallel universes would have to exist.
If this theory is correct (which I personally believe it is), there would have to be only one universe, or an infinite number of simultaneous universes. One or infinite.
The universe, if created slightly differently each time, would presumably be created in every way possible eventually. Furthermore, each instantiation of the universe would exist simultaneously (parallel universes, instead of sequential) because they were all created during a period of timelessness.
Penrose does not get into this concept of simultanaeity in the interview. Actually, he implies that he does not agree with me, calling the different universes "phases" of the one universe. I disagree with this one point of his theory. I like the perspective on it, calling them different phases of the same universe, but the way he presents it implies that he does not see each of its instantiations as simultaneous. In fact, he says that they are NOT simultaneous. I think that this is a logical fallacy, unless time itself is created differently in the different instantiations of the universe.
On the other hand, if it's the same universe each time, it's like it's got a beginning and an end. It's not really much like it happening over and over again just because it is encapsulated in timelessness.
I don't know which I'd prefer, personally. Multiple universes or just the one?
My other favorite thing about this theory is that it basically means that at its most extreme, entropy becomes the ultimate order.
The end of the interview gets into AI and the possibility of a man-made creative entity, very interesting, but I won't get into that here.
(The following is an excerpt from an essay on laughter.)
... Malunkjaputta went to see the Buddha and expressed to him his dissatisfaction about his not telling his disciples whether the world was eternal or non-eternal, infinite or finite, etc....
He demanded that the Buddha should either reply with a yes or no to his questions, or to admit that he was incapable of so doing. The Buddha answered him thus: A man has been wounded by a poison arrow, and his friends call the doctor. If the wounded man said, "I shall not permit this arrow to be torn out of me before knowing who the man is that has wounded me, which is his family, what he looks like, whether he is tall or short, dark or fair, and where he lives," he would certainly die before it were possible to help him. This exactly would happen to one who, before entering the road to liberation, would demand that he be given a reply to all his questions.
It is incredibly difficult for the human mind to grasp a true concept of time, let alone timeLESSness, simply due to our perceptual make-up. But I can't help but follow the instinct that timelessness must be closely akin to infinity. If time doesn't exist at all, then it seems that all time must exist in an instantiation of timelessness. Which makes no sense, I admit, but that is simply because it is a paradox (not because it is untrue).
Liberating ourselves from our consciousness can allegedly allow us to experience timelessness. Then we probably won't care so much about the answers to all of these questions. And according to the Buddha, then we'll know all of the answers. Oh God! Why do we even try?! Or, it the words of Penrose, "It matters and it doesn't matter."