Unexamined Assumptions

Did you get all of that? It's a lot of stuff, and a lot to explain. The problems I've surveyed are mounting, however. It appears that something has to change.

But what? How does one sort through the options? It seems impossibly difficult.

The right place to start is by no knowing too much. I had been ten years out of the field when the light bulb came on in my head. I'm going to start free-wheeling pretty soon: after all, the pleasure of science is in the freedom of reckless thinking. So, I'll tell the story of my personal epiphany.

As of 2000, my prior mastery of particle theory was buried under an overgrowth of software development practice. I was going through a very difficult life transition, and my business was failing. For some reason, a year after leaving the family business, my brother Alex started a subscription to Time magazine to our office.

In late 2001 or early 2002, one cover announced an in-depth survey of forefront cosmology. It was depressing. Not the science - the science was breath-taking. It was the conclusion. The universe will eventually coast apart, the stars will go out, and for an infinity, the frozen planets and burned-out stellar cores will drift through space, lifeless.

Well, this wasn't the kind of prospect that one cherishes when struggling through overwhelming problems. Under those conditions, life cries out for meaning. So, I dwelled on the matter for an hour.

A response was found in the active galactic nuclei - the supermassive black holes at the center of our galaxy. Very slowly, gradients in the galactic gravity field will heat the frozen remnants that once supported life, and they will emit radiation. The loss of energy will slowly result in orbital decay, and the former planets and stars will be consumed by the black hole.

Wonderful prospect. The universe will be given over to the predators.

Except...! Except!

Galaxies exist in bound clusters, by which astrophysicists mean that they oscillate around each other. Therefore, the AGN remnants have a finite chance of again coming into contact. Such a collision will be greatly intensified by the ages-long accumulation of all the matter in each galaxy, enough perhaps to cause the cores to shatter once again, liberating a large part of the matter and energy they had consumed, and starting the laboratory of life all over again.

So: if this is how it resumes, why couldn't it have started that way? Maybe the spatial anomalies came first. Maybe space formed randomly in the nothingness, and eventually coalesced around empty pockets, and the crashing together of space rebounded off of the nothingness, creating matter, energy and the beginning of life.

And then, there was the lunch conversation I had ten years ago. I had asked a theorist: if we can have extra spatial dimensions, why can't we have extra time dimensions as well? To which he replied: "Because we wouldn't know how to do Hamiltonian Dynamics." Which means, in essence, "because we can't do the math."

Tell me, does a quark do math?

With this to get the creative juices flowing, let's take on some sacred cows.