One Cup of Coffee -- Two Cups of Infinity
Copyright 2016, John Manimas Medeiros
I got up one morning and had one cup of coffee and my brain started nagging me again about infinity and what does it mean and is the universe infinite in one direction, or both directions, or neither direction? That would be like two cups of coffee, empty or full. There is no partial infinity or almost infinity.
The physicists of the world are usually secular, or certainly act as though religious beliefs are dog shit on their shoes. They like to say: "If it can't be measured, it doesn't exist." How coy. So they can cope only with that which can be measured. Well, I have bad news for the physicists, because there is reason to believe that the universe is infinite, at least in one direction: outward. Every time we improve our instrumentation to detect what exists at a great distance, we find that as we register our detections outward there is always more universe than there was before. It is reasonable to infer that the universe does not have an outer boundary. Besides, if any scientists ever said that they had located the outer boundary of the universe, they would immediately be asked a very challenging question: "What's on the other side of the fence?"
Therefore, there is good reason to believe that the universe is infinite outwardly, which means the "large" cup of coffee is full. We will not locate the "end" of the physical universe because there is none. It still feels odd. How can the universe be infinite? What does it mean to go on a long trip in "one direction?" No matter how far we go, the trajectory of our trip is still like a mouse whisker floating in the ocean. But what about the other cup of coffee? Is the universe also infinitely small? The universe may not be infinitely small, and the physicists of the world have not seriously challenged the ancient Greek scientist philosophers who said: "There is a smallest possible particle." They are right of course, so long as we define a particle of real matter as an element. I can hand you an atom of iron, or of calcium, or of hydrogen, but I cannot hand you a neutron, or a proton, or a muon. I could hand you an electron -- at the end of a copper wire -- but you would not be happy to receive it. Have you ever heard a physicist claim that there are sub-atomic particles that are "infinitely small?" No, neither have I. A particle that was infinitely small would not be measureable, and if we cannot measure it we already know that it does not exist. Even though the infinitely small raises profoundly difficult scientific and philosophical problems, some physicists are great salesmen, or con artists, and they get billions of dollars to build a "particle accelerator" and then submit reports that they have a picture, a white line on a dark background, and that white line is the brief life, less than one-billionth of a second, of a fukupuon, which may be the God particle or the secret of life in the universe, or maybe it's the Michael the Archangel particle. Close to God, but not quite divine.
This is our second cup of coffee. What if the universe does not have a "smallest possible particle" and the particles of real, physical being go downward in size all the way to zero. That is obviously a problem for physicists, and philosophers, and all of us. Because, if matter descends downward to infinity, we know that we cannot measure something that is infinitely small. There is nothing to measure. However, that possibility, and just thinking about it, tells us something significant about physical reality, which is claimed to be the field of the physicists. If the universe is infinite outwardly, and also infinite inwardly, we know that there are two things, essentially real, that we cannot measure, and therefore physicists have designated is not real --- the infinitely large and the infinitely small do not exist because they cannot be measured. But, there is more.
Suppose, for the sake of getting something worthwhile out of this discussion, we pretend that a man from Oxford and a woman from Stanford were on a date and just after they consummated their mutual respect, they wrote an article that persuaded all the world that the real, physical universe was infinite in both directions. Then, the immeasurable size of the universe, outward, and the immeasurable size of the universe inward, could each be the divine essence of reality that escapes enclosure in our rational brains. We simply could not measure and therefore subject matter to our ultimate control, because both the very small and the very large would be infinite and beyond our capacity to detect or manipulate. We would live in a universe that we cannot control. This, if accepted as "physics" would be the discovery of that which is physical but also spiritual, reality that is beyond our mental reach.
This is not an attempt to promote religion or mystery, but an exercise in true science, science without institutional boundaries. The scientist and the religionist recognize the wisdom in the old saying: "Philosopher, know thyself." Thus, if we want to know who and what we are, the issue as to whether the universe is infinite in either direction, or both, is profoundly pertinent to who and what we are. If the universe IS NOT infinite inwardly, if there IS a smallest possible particle, then that lower boundary is the boundary that encloses life in the universe. We might be able to "know" that lower boundary, and that information would say something different about who and what we are. For me, I am fascinated by the fiction of consciousness that we call "time." For me, time is counting repetitive cyclical events and that ONLY and nothing more. Time is a count, an act rather than a thing. Another fascinating aspect of time is the duration of a particle of matter that might be required in order for a physicist to designate that particle as existing and therefore being "real." If we could not measure one quintillionth of a second, then anything that "existed" less than one quintillionth of a second would not exist. How far downward in duration can we go and still claim real existence? Don't dismiss this question. We, organisms who are the product of the awesome nature that we study, do not detect objects illuminated for less than 1/20th of a second, and we do not hear sound from vibrations that resonate for less than 1/20th of a second. That is like saying there are visible things and sounds that exist but we cannot measure them, and then again the "institution" of physics says that if we did not see it (measure it) or hear it (measure) it does not exist. But we create instruments to hear and see things of shorter and shorter duration. Therefore, we play in our minds with the infinitely small in both size and duration. I am finished with these two cups of coffee. If you think about what is written here for less than one hundredth of a second, you never thought at all. If you want to respond to these ideas, you could write a paper of zero words, or infinite words. Or, you could write for a specified period of time, such as one-billionth of a second.
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