Changing Cosmologists views on Cosmological Cycles

Cosmology, astronomy, lunar, solar & planetary cycles

Changing Cosmologists views on Cosmological Cycles

Postby RayTomes » 13 Jul 2011, 02:51

For a long time cosmologists seemed to be uniformly agreed that there was a big bang that will be followed by a slow and boring heat death in the Universe. Then came string theory which is essentially about extremely minute cycles in the basic elements of the universal structure. It seems that both of these views are changing.

Several books have been written by previous proponents that now see string theory as a dead end and waste of time.

* The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science and What Comes Next by Lee Smolin

* Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law by Peter Woit

And just so that cycles does not lose its place in the scheme of things, there has been a considerable move to consider the Universe as cyclical with multiple big bangs and big crunches. Sir Fred Hoyle came to the conclusion that there were multiple "creation events", to quote wikilpedia:

Quasi-steady state cosmology (QSS) was proposed in 1993 by Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge, and Jayant V. Narlikar as a new incarnation of steady state ideas meant to explain additional features unaccounted for in the initial proposal. The theory suggests pockets of creation occurring over time within the universe, sometimes referred to as minibangs, mini-creation events, or little bangs. After the observation of an accelerating universe, further modifications of the model were made.

But the more orthodox have also looked to repeated cycles of the Universe, and we have:

* Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe by Roger Penrose

It is great to see these various characters looking at each others work, and Woit has reviewed Penrose in The Wall Street Journal and his own blog To quote Voit's review:

The currently accepted Big Bang model looks at what we can see of the past and projects this behavior into the future. Our best observations come from looking at patterns in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the thermal radiation that was produced 380,000 years after the Big Bang, at the time atoms formed and light could propagate freely. The manner in which the universe has continued to expand since suggests that, in the future, the universe will just keep expanding, with matter and radiation dispersing, entropy increasing and our fate a rather boring and lonely one to contemplate.

Many find unsatisfying this picture of the universe's distant past and future. First, it does nothing to answer the question of "what came before." Second, a universe that does something better than peter out would provide a more inspiring vision of our future. Mr. Penrose thinks he might have a better answer, which he calls "Conformal Cyclic Cosmology." The key words are "conformal" and "cyclic," and to explain Mr. Penrose's theory, it is best to take them in reverse order.

"Cyclic" indicates that the universe somehow circles back to a condition at which it could start all over again, in another Big Bang, an endless cycle of death and rebirth. Such cyclicity is a feature of several other recent speculative cosmological models, including some in which the Big Bang is just one of a sequence of collisions among multidimensional membranes or "branes."

"Conformal" refers to a particular type of geometry, which Mr. Penrose is a master of and which he thinks might explain why the universe won't merely keep expanding forever. (A geometry is said to be "conformal" if its properties don't change when it is transformed in a way that preserves angles but not distances.) Mr. Penrose's crucial point is that, in physics based on a conformal geometry, there is no way to characterize either distances or energy levels as "small" or "large."

... and in his blog:

So, I’m not convinced by the speculation about the far future, and for an evaluation of the ideas about extending back through the big bang singularity you’ll need someone more expert about cosmology than me. These topics are very clearly labeled in the book as speculative, without support from other physicists or any experimental evidence. The bulk of the book though is other material providing a background and context for the speculation, and it is this which I think makes it most valuable as a popular book. Penrose is a wonderful, elegant and clear writer, and he covers a lot of ground about physics beautifully here. Most remarkable are the illustrations, by far the best visual representations of a range of important ideas that I know of. Physicists and mathematicians work with lots of internal pictures in their minds representing important aspects of the concepts they are investigating, but very rarely do they have the technical skill to grasp some of the essence of these pictures and get them down on paper. Even more rarely do they make it into wide distribution in print, so I’m glad to see that happen here.

So, perhaps we will see more of a cyclic view of the Universe in the future.
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Re: Changing Cosmologists views on Cosmological Cycles

Postby RayTomes » 13 Jul 2011, 03:06

Roger Penrose has obviously found that a little controversy does well for promoting ideas. He calls this paper:

It begins:

Proposals for describing the initial state of the universe hardly ever address a certain fundamental conundrum [1] — yet this is a conundrum whose significance is, in a certain sense, obvious. The issue arises from one of the most fundamental principles of physics: the Second Law of thermodynamics. According to the Second Law, roughly speaking, the entropy of the universe increases with time, where the term “entropy” refers to an appropriate measure of disorder or lack of “specialness” of the state of the universe. Since the entropy increases in the future direction of time, it must decrease in the past time-direction. Accordingly, the initial state of the universe must be the most special of all, so any proposal for the actual nature of this initial state must account for its extreme specialness.

To interject some of my own ideas here, I think that the whole problem is not actually real. It comes from working from the bottom up instead of the top down. Modern physics and cosmology makes the assumption that the properties of the Universe are somehow present in its tiniest bits and that this translates to the behaviour of the whole. Instead, if we assume that there is some Universal law of the whole, we can discover that the properties of the parts can in fact be deduced to a considerable extent. My explanation of this is at

The success of such an approach is many-fold.

1. The relative scale properties of all the formations that we observe from the Hubble scale through galaxies, stars, planets, moons down to cells, atoms, nucleons and perhaps quarks, are all in predictable relationships of spacing.

2. Regularity is found at all scales, from galaxies and galactic clusters, through stars and planets down on to atoms and nucleons with very definite bond lengths, wavelengths and spacings.

3. The regularities at all scales also exhibit harmonically related distance and time periodicities. The observations of William Tifft on galaxy redshift periodicities is particularly important.

4. The entire Universe is a closed system, so there are no losses, no heat death.
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Re: Changing Cosmologists views on Cosmological Cycles

Postby cblatchl » 16 Sep 2012, 15:39

Heat death requires a closed system.

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