I have found a set of arguments that lead to an idea of reality that I haven’t read about anywhere. It is for me a pleasing idea and the only plausible reality I can think of. I have not yet seen how this framework of thinking leads to anything novel that can be empirically tested. However, it yields new perspective on fundamental questions such as:
- What role does the observer take in our cosmos?
- Can one explain the collapse of the wave function?
- What is time?
- How did the universe come into being?
- Why is the universe expanding?
I do not have detailed answers for these question in form or rigid mathematical proofs. Even though this framework might one day facilitate these proofs, if they exists, the purpose here is to embed the answers with in this framework which as you will see makes them rather intuitive. I want to say that this is not science, science are based in empirical evidence and reasoning. This is mostly philosophy and some part logic. Nevertheless, it might sometimes be important to step out of ones comfort zone to get to new insight. This is an attempt to do just this. If you disagree to what I have to say, please let me know. I want you to be sceptical while having an open mind and see where it takes you.
Let us start by understanding the concept ad hoc and how it relates to what I have to say. The expression is latin and translates to “for this” and its meaning is often used to describe a situation where one adds information without justification in order for a model to reflect the outcome of experiments. It is often an effective way to get something that works without understanding why. In science however, understanding is very important since it leads to further discoveries or more general models. An example of an ad hoc theory is the standard model of particle physics. The standard model together with the general theory relativity are the most accurate models we have today. However, it relies on adding something called the Yukawa coupling to its underlying symmetric theory in order for it to reflect nature. This together with its inability to explain gravity strongly suggests that something completely different is needed to encompass all of physics.
How does this relate to my thoughts on reality? I argue that any theory that involve ad hoc explanations must be incomplete. Every measurable constant in nature must be a direct result of its underlying theory, otherwise why did it take on that specific value and not any other. Another way of putting it is that reality is like it is because it has to be that way if it isn’t designed. If reality could exist in two possible ways but it turns out that reality is one of these cases, reality must have a creator. But if reality have a creator the model of reality must include the reality of the creator so we didn’t get anywhere. It could of course be that there are some infinite recursive designer scenario, but that too is a reality that we have to include in our models if we are to understand everything.
It all leads back to one reality that must be in the way it is. An apparent paradox is at our hands tha we might call the all and nothing paradox. If the universe has to be in the way it is, we could falsify this claim by saying that nothing is a possible reality. That nothing exists is actually a very reasonable reality it is very simple to explain and it has no information in it, clearly we are not living in this universe which falsifies the claim that reality is what it is because there is no other alternative. However, there is a remedy. Assuming that information is everything that exists – there is only 1 reality that has the same amount of information in it as nothing, namely everything.
Everything that can exist under some logical framework must exists and if information is everything, everything equates to nothing. It is hard to grasp what this really mean. An analogy to this is how we think of infinite random sequences such as the decimals of π=3.14159265358979… There is no information stored in this string of numbers, as far as we know, other than ever higher accuracy of the ratio between the circumference and the diameter of circle in flat space. The reason for this is that any possible sequence of numbers, however long, lies somewhere in the decimals of π. There is a fun webpage that uses this fact, check it out!. There is in some way no information stored in an infinite random sequences just as there is no information stored in no sequence at all. It is not completely true because a sequence will have a position within the decimals. A less similar but accurate example is the amount of information stored in a set of drawn card from a deck of 52 cards. For each new way you can do something you add one unit of information so drawing all cards from a deck will result in the same information as drawing no cards if we disregard drawing order. In the same way, nothing has no information just as everything can’t carry any information.
The conclusion we can draw from this is that everything exists. Reality is everything and nothing simultaneously. We can represent it with a mathematical object of perfect symmetry. Anything we do to this object will have no measurable effects, because if it could be changed we must use ad hoc arguments to explain why it is in one way rather than the other. The tricky part here is to explain why we do not see this perfectly symmetric universe. In our view we can store huge amount of information in very small spaces so how can this reflect reality. The reason is that we are a part of the system, leading us to the notion of an observer. Being an observer inside a system must break some symmetry that an outside observer perceives. In fact, I argue that an observer is defined by the symmetry it breaks. Let us use a thought experiment to clarify this idea.
Imagine that you and your identical twin is in a perfectly circular room, outside the room there is a person watching both of you. What ever you do, your twin will mimic. If you go right your twin goes right according to him. Now, let us add some information to the system. The outside observer names both of you, he writes down: “RIGHT” is to the right and “LEFT” is to the left in his view. The same type of information is now added by you. You name yourself as “I” and your twin as “YOU”. After this we isolate the outside observer from the participants so that he no longer can see what they are doing. In the same way we blindfold you and your twin so that you do not know where you are going or from where you came. After a while everybody can see again. For the outside observer your initial naming information is lost. However, since you are an observer in the system you will still be able to name you and your twin with the name you gave them. Obviously your twin will have the same naming but the important part is that in your case, the information is not lost. From an outside observer the system is symmetric with respect to mixing. However, from your point of view the system is not symmetric in the sense that you can separate “I” from “YOU” after mixing. It is an interesting thought experiment but it is not perfectly analogous. Another example of this phenomenon is the collision of two electrons. Two electrons are moving towards one another, at first you can separate the two particles but once they collided you do not know if they simple got moved of course or if they got repelled back to where ever they came from at the same angles as if they passed by each other. From the electrons point of view you will know the forces acting on you and you will make no mistake on where you are heading. It is impossible to determine which electron went in what direction for an outside observer but being the electron leaves no doubt.
Quantum physics experiments show that once you become a part of the system you are investigating, the symmetry of being in superposition of many possible states breaks. It is called the collapse of the wave function, I just call it becoming a part of the system. The bigger the system is, the harder it is to isolate the system from the outside world. In fact the whole universe is in superposition of being all possible universes but many symmetries have already broken giving us a world full of structure and information. What do I mean by already broken? It hints that symmetry was less broken at some earlier point in time. So what is time in this framework of everything I am trying to explain to you. I see time as being defined by how many symmetries that are broken. Time is known to be relative the observer, I will take it further and say that time of an observer is the amount of symmetries an observer breaks in order to experience what it experiences. If an observer has broken more symmetries it exists later in time. An observer moves in time by breaking symmetries, for each step in time the symmetry of undetermined possible futures breaks to the actual future you happen experience. All other possible futures are similarly experiences by other observers. You, at some time will end up in all these future states at a later time, but the notion of you or the definition of you at that point does not include those other potential futures.
Every observer have one unique history but must include all possible futures. If we go back far enough we might get to time zero or the observer from which all present observers are broken off from. This observer is reality. It is a perfect symmetric object that can’t be in any other way. It might be that big bang as we see it from the photons it produced is some aspect of this symmetric reality. Time might isolate us from the system enough in order for us to investigate its symmetries in the same way we can understand symmetries in isolated quantum systems in our labs. We can also extrapolate in the other direction. An observer that has broken all symmetries exist at the end of time. This observer can be said to be the fundamental building block of reality that when put together in different ways make up the structures of our universe.
The idea that time is symmetry-breaking is a reformulation of the second law of thermodynamics. Taken directly from Wikipedia the second law states that the total entropy can never decrease over time for an isolated system. Entropy is another word for disorder or the total number of distinguishable ways that a system can be in. It is a measure of how much information that can be stored in a system or in other words how many symmetries that are broken. You see, what I have to say does not invalidate any other laws of nature. It simply reframes them and makes them all fit to the bigger picture. The final and most powerful realisation of this framework is that many of the best techniques today to predict the future is to create a symmetric object and then break that symmetry in various ways. It is not stated in this way in the books but it is isomorphic to what researches do to calculate probabilities of future events given som initial conditions. A scientist would say that the action contains all of physics and therefor all of reality. The action is the integral of the lagrangian density over all of space-time. The action is what one would call a functional. It takes quantum fields and produce a single number, the integration symmetrizes fields to create an action and by applying different field derivatives on that action, thus breaking those symmetries, we get propagators. Propagators are one of the most useful objects particle physics and they all relates to building and breaking symmetries.
Finally, to explain why the universe expands, we simply recognize that space must be created when symmetry breaks. A circle for instance does not contain space before you introduce a coordinate which breaks the rotation symmetry of the circle since the coordinates will change by doing so. Expansion means that more space is created, so since time is defined by symmetry-breaking and space is created in that process we can conclude that space expands with time. How fast it expands might relates to what types of symmetries that are broken. If the universe only can split in to two possible future at each time we would see an exponential growth of new spaces. What ever we define as a unit of space one can easily see, depending on the structure of the symmetries that have been broken, that the rate of expansion could accelerate.
A language to describe these symmetrical systems might not be possible to obtain for observers within the system if we are to believe Gödels incompleteness theorem. We might not find all symmetries of reality but by finding an object that predicts all experiments when its symmetries are broken in the right way we do have a very useful model. The details in how this symmetries interact and produces consciousness and physical laws is still a mystery but using this framework as a guide we might be able to create better languages and techniques to achieve better experiences in and understand more of our infinitely symmetric universe.