Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cosmology

I've been thinking about the Big Bang recently because of Horizon. It struck me that expansion is not explosion and that thinking of the big bang as an explosion is misleading. We're in the big bang now, as much as we would be at the start of the universe... it's not like this is the aftermath of an explosion, that the big bang was an event that has passed, the expanding Universe IS the explosion and it's exploding now as much as ever. If it extends forever then we would effectively have infinite universes, although all smoothly flowing instead of "separately" here and there.

But enough physics ideas and back to more important things, namely painting. I'll probably start doing that tomorrow, glazing Abandoning Someone Who Was A Friend To Me When I Had None.

Alas, Keele University has in its finite wisdom rejected my three paintings for the Three Counties Open this year. This is the first year in four that I've not got one in. I can only guess at why, and consider it a measure designed to make me paint superior paintings in future! So it's a good thing then!

5 comments :

Kathy said...

Well Mark, as far as I'm concerned the rejection of your three paintings demonstrates the short-sightedness of the jurors. Your work would elevate that exhibition! Keep your chin up.
As for the Big Bang, it's a great hypothesis. I spent a couple of decades considering it and teaching it in college. I'm excited that you mention that it's not an explosion (which would require gas) but, rather, an expansion. What's really cool is that without this expansion time (as we know it) would not exist. And, as Stephen Hawking postulated, if the universe begins to implode, will time reverse? Mind-bending. We know so little about this. What are we expanding into? How large is the universe? Is the universe shaped like a donut? I guess the answer to all this is "42."

Mark Sheeky said...

My chin is up. I'd hate to get in these shows all the time, that's no encouragement to do better at all!

Physics fascinates us both it seems. My favourite idea of late was by Roger Penrose, that once the universe expands to nothingness, mere photons, it will trigger a new big bang. My thought was "yes!", then hang on, the trigger implies the start of a new event, when one constant stream seemed more realistic...

Not sure if you can watch iPlayer over there but here's the link...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00vdkmj/Horizon_20102011_What_Happened_Before_the_Big_Bang/

Kathy said...

Hi Mark, Thanks for the link; however I'm not able to access it. Bummer! The expansion (=cooling) of the universe presents an interesting problem for science. Can it expand to the point of stasis and inertia? Or, will it reach a gravitational limit and cycle like a sun (Red Giant - White Dwarf - expansion - collapse into a Black Hole)? Who knows?? Hawkins idea of an accordian process that entails multiple expansions and contractions is interesting. It certainly conforms to the natural law that matter can neither be created nor destroyed (assuming, of course, that the universe is a closed system). The problem is human perception. We know and see so little. Makes for good science fiction, though!

Mark Sheeky said...

Looks like you'd have to send some cash to the BBC to get that link working :)

A new law of thermodynamics for you: Energy cannot be created or destroyed, except at the start of existence when it all was! Haha!

Fundamentally, science assumes that tomorrow will behave like yesterday. To a philosopher that's already very shaky ground.

I expect that some questions are funadementally unanswerable, and that the origin and fate of the universe is one of them. I wonder if Stephen Hawking would consider that answer cheating? Douglas Adams probably wouldn't.

Kathy said...

Ah ... yes, where did the first singularity come from?? That one isn't answerable (so far). Perhaps there's no such thing as a naturally-occurring closed system. It's true that science relies on the principle that "the key to the present is found in the past." Scientist must operate under that assumption in order to understand systems. Otherwise, we would succumb to wild speculation that would be wholly unlikely - like, I have a cavity in my tooth because aliens put it there while I was sleeping! Some, if not most, questions for science probably are unanswerable which is why we rely on philosophers to provide us with existential explanations. According to some, the poets ask the most fundamental question: "Is you is or is you ain't my baby?"