Does the Universe suck, or does it blow? That could be an existential question.
I am neither a scientist nor a mathematician, not a cosmologist nor a quantum physicist. I simply know enough about a lot to be dangerous. Please as you read the following, understand that it reflects some thoughts I had and that I present as sheer speculation. A mind game akin to contemplating the sound of one hand clapping.
To the extent that it may provoke any actual scientifically-grounded thought, that would be exciting.
What if we’re all really “matter chauvinists”? It wouldn’t be unreasonable. As thinking, reasoning matter, we’re kind of at the top of the “existence chain”, and that could make us a bit cocky.
But the problem with matter is gravity, and the problem with gravity is entropy.
Maybe nature does not abhor a vacuum. Or maybe nature is actually a vacuum chauvinist, and we just can’t ‘see’ it. (As the saying goes, if Nature abhors a vacuum, why is there so much of it?)
Entropy states that everything in the universe is ‘running down’; degrading into states of less and less organization. That seems to work for light, radiation, heat; all sorts of energy. Yet entropy doesn’t quite work for matter.
Matter has a weak attractive force called gravity. It makes two dust motes want to hang together, and get more dust motes to join the party. Gravity, as we understand it, wants matter to collect together; to grow more and more organized.
For entropy and gravity to exist at the same time in the same universe, energy has to be running down at the same time that matter is clustering up. Isn’t that a contradiction? Winding down and bulking up at the same time?
While watching an episode of Morgan Freeman’s “Through the Wormhole”, which questioned the directionality, linearity or even reality of time, I began to wonder about matter and gravity and entropy.
As I pondered, I became further puzzled by the notion of particles. Light, radiation, even electricity have particles, and we can ‘see’ them in one way or another, experimentally or otherwise. But then there’s the elusive ‘graviton’; a particle theorized to exist which carries gravity the way photons carry light, or electrons flow as electricity.
We haven’t had much luck finding gravitons.
I began to look at it another way.
What if the reality of the universe, call it “anti-mass”, is what we call the Vacuum? We think of vacuum as an emptiness; an absence of anything. Yet we also talk about vacuum energy; spatial volume created out of nothing, which is what we call the expansion of space, possibly at the same time creating almost-instantaneously self-destructing matter/antimatter particles.
So if space wants to expand and matter wants to collect and contract, what might that suggest? Entropy or anti-entropy, or something totally else?
Allow me to pose a completely speculative scenario with a slightly different perspective:
Vacuum expands, doing so with some form of literally indescribable vacuum-based pressure. Vacuum wants space all to itself, but there is this annoying ‘litter’ mixed into the vacuum which we’ll call matter. There’s not much of it, relatively speaking, but matter makes the place messy. When two bits of matter get close enough, there develops a sort of ‘surface tension’ akin to oil bubbles in water. Let’s say that the vacuum pressure pushes these particles close enough that the ‘surface tension’ at a certain proximity, created by the surrounding vacuum pressure, pushes them together and unites them. As the coalescing bits get bigger, the ‘surface tension’ created around them by vacuum pressure becomes greater, demanding more litter bits to merge with them from further and further away.
But vacuum pressure is always attempting to crush these things down into smaller spaces. Only the energy inherent in the litter bits, or resulting from their atomic reactions to each other, keep them from collapsing into singularities.
Large clouds of gas form, coalesce and begin to collapse under vacuum pressure, until fusion (or some other energy-generating reaction) begins to push the matter back outward to counterbalance the vacuum energy which is attempting to crush it. It’s not actually the mass of matter which keeps it ‘real’. Always, it’s the energy inherent in the matter – heat, electromagnetic repulsion, etc. – which actually fights matter’s eternal battle for existence against vacuum energy.
Perhaps it’s not gravity which warps Space. Perhaps it’s vacuum pressure creating the illusion of gravity, pushing up against matter, applying increasing ‘force’, and the warping of Space is actually the visible application of pressure against matter by vacuum.
In this concept, by the laws of entropy, gravity is not organizing matter into larger and larger pieces, because that’s not how entropy works. Rather, vacuum energy is expanding, pushing bits closer together and forcing them to coalesce and crush them into ‘nothingness’ (i.e., a singularity), and the coalesced matter fights back with its (finite supply) of repulsive energy, which is slowly used up; entropy.
Over time, large stars are said to lose the battle against gravity as their fusion fires die, when actually they may be losing their battle against external vacuum pressure. As fusions ends and heat pressure diminishes, vacuum pressure continues its relentless assault. The star mass continues to retreat, finding new lines of retreat and resistance, but ultimately retreating again.
Finally, at the end game, if the mass has enough surface for the flimsy vacuum to gain sufficient traction and matter’s internal energy resources have sufficiently waned, vacuum begins to inexorably win, crushing out, at the atomic and subatomic level, the heat, electromagnetic repulsion, and any other forces preventing subatomic and quantum level bits from coming together, cheek by jowl. At this stage, we have a singularity; a Black Hole.
Vacuum has finally done its work.
Heat, energy, radiation, light, electricity, always tends to move from high concentration to low concentration; entropy in action. These forms of energy are yielded, one way or another, by mass reactions. Over eons, every particle grows ever cooler and more energy-depleted, and as it cools it shrinks.
So in the end, gravity itself is an illusion. Mass is really just litter mixed into the vacuum, and the pressure of all that vacuum surrounding all that matter gradually pushes it together and squeezes it to death. If possible, into singularities.
Perhaps we need to be more grateful to Space than we know. It may be the only thing actually keeping us stuck to the Earth.
(C) 2011 by Michael R. Honig, All rights reserved.
Michael R. Honig has hosted ThinkWing Radio with Mike Honig on Talk650-AM (Houston), and maintains and updates the web site ThinkWingRadio.com. He is a political activist, writer, thinker, and avocationally a teacher. He has decades of experience in the retail business, the window fashions trade as installer and seller, and in film process control. (Like that’s gonna be useful anymore.) If he hasn’t worked at it, he probably still knows enough to be dangerous. Contact him through his website, www.ThinkwingRadio.com.