Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A case for Emergence as the cause of the birth of the Universe

Glancing at the evening sky and watching a flock of birds return home has never failed to amaze me. Why? The seemingly coordinated movement of the flock is not controlled by any leader. Instead, it emerges naturally as each individual follows a few simple rules, such as go in the same direction as the other guy, don’t get too close, and flee any predators. This phenomenon, is called emergence.
"It's not magic," the physicist Doyne Farmer once said about emergence, "but it feels like magic." Birds, atmospheric disturbances, and city dwellers self-organize, giving rise to flocks, hurricanes, and distinct neighborhoods. Such entirely new properties and behaviors "emerge," with no one directing and no one able to foresee the new characteristics from knowledge of the constituents alone. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts and can be very distinct and unpredictable.

As long as there is an inherent affinity to self-organize, chances are emergence will occur. The propensity to self-organize is abundant on earth and since natural laws that hold good on our planet holds good for the Universe as a whole, it must be that self-organization occurs everywhere in the Universe as well.

It is this basic premise that I base my un-scientific theory on the birth of the Universe upon. Un-scientific, because it is neither based on facts nor evidence. But the circumstantial evidence, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, is so strong, I feel compelled to put it out there and maybe, just maybe, some scientific community might just decide there is an iota of merit in the proposition.

In the beginning, there was just dark matter. We know nothing about dark matter, but, I will ascribe it one property – the affinity to self-organize. When sufficient dark matter self-organized, the emergent result was a Bang. The self-organization did not occur at one single point but throughout the Universe, as long as sufficient dark matter could come together. Thus, there was not one single Big Bang, but multiple Bangs. How the Universe evolved after the Big Bang is well known and the same applies to each of these Bangs, with one significant difference – INFLATION.

The first version of the Big Bang theory (aka standard Big Bang) could not explain what is known as the Horizon problem. Our observations tell us that distant regions of space in opposite directions of the sky are so far apart that, assuming standard Big Bang expansion, they could never have been in causal contact with each other. Why? This is because the light travel time between them exceeds the age of the universe. So if nothing can travel faster than light how come these regions are at a distance much further than the distance light could possibly have traveled since the birth of the Universe? Yet the uniformity of the cosmic microwave background temperature tells us that these regions must have been in contact with each other in the past.

To explain this observation, the Inflation theory was introduced. It proposes a period of extremely rapid (exponential) expansion of the universe followed by the more gradual Big Bang expansion. Since Inflation supposes a burst of exponential expansion in the early universe, it follows that distant regions were actually much closer together prior to Inflation than they would have been with only standard Big Bang expansion. Thus, such regions could have been in causal contact prior to Inflation and could have attained a uniform temperature.

I always found myself not being able to reconcile to this Inflation theory. It appears to me to be a classic case of “retrofit”. Strange things do happen in the Universe, but this hyper expansion just for an exact period of fractions of a second, hmmm….

 Now let us go back to the idea of multiple Bangs. Since each of these Bangs occur at points in the Universe which are already at distances from each other, even if each of the expansions follow the standard Big Bang, none of these have to travel so further away from any one central point as needed by the single Big Bang. It thus resolves the Horizon problem. Since the Bangs occur at various points in the Universe, it would also explain the uniform background temperature found in the Universe.

Now through this theory, there is purpose and reason for dark matter, rather than being around just to provide the gravitational mass missing in the other “non-dark” matter (the galaxies, stars etc.) of the Universe. Present observations suggest that 380,000 years after the birth of the Universe, the amount of dark matter was roughly 63% of all matter. Now, nearly 14 billion years later it is roughly 23%.

I have an explanation for why this amount reduces all the time. Because, there are Bangs taking place all the time in the Universe. Dark matter continues to self-organize and give birth to new galaxies, stars, etc. And with each Bang, the Universe expands even further. What does this mean? That with each Bang, there is an expansion and each expansion, results in the acceleration of some parts of the Universe away from the rest. The constant acceleration of the Universe away from itself in every direction is another strange phenomenon and the incessant occurrence of Bangs explains this phenomenon.

Does this then obviate the need for dark energy? After all dark energy was introduced to explain the accelerating expansion of the Universe and I believe we have a plausible explanation in the preceding paragraph.

Now, I am not a cosmologist, not even a scientist and everything I have written in this article might be wrong, but then, I believe I have raised some interesting points worthy of consideration.

Would be interesting if some one chances upon this and thinks it worth a scientific scrutiny!

 Note: Certain text in this article have been re-produced verbatim from a) and b)


  1. Interesting concept of multiple Bangs. As you hope may create some discussions by the people in the know. Thanks for introducing some theories on cosmology.

    1. Mutliple bangs have already been a concept of quantum mechanics. The multiple bangs have resulted into multiple universes (as per string theory proponents. As per Henry griffith prponent, has given the conclusion of Multiple worlds for the schrodinger wave equation. Check brian greens explanation of "Fabric of the cosmos" in youtube for explantation without mathematical derivations.

    2. Yes, I have seen this series sometime back and it is indeed fascinating. It is also true that multiple bangs have been proposed and are a necessity of the string theory. However, per my understanding, multiple bangs result in multiple Universes, BUT, each bang resulting in ONE Universe and ONLY ONCE in the lifetime of that Universe. (Correct me if I interpreted it wrongly).

      What I am proposing is multiple bangs occurring in the lifetime of the same Universe - our Universe.

  2. Here is another link that expresses a similar thought process:

  3. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Complexity Simplified. I think this is an interesting idea and it is, as you said, what I was hinting at. While I, too, have wondered if it might be the case that dark matter self-organizes to give rise to ordinary matter, we know so little about it that there's no way to know if it has the capacity for self-organization the way regular matter does. Maybe one day we will know more, but for now all we can do is speculate, as you have done here.

    One thing I would say about your very well-written essay is that it is a bit shocking to me, as a scientist, to read that somebody "believes" a certain scientific scenario is so, even though you freely admit there is no evidence for it. In science, we don't (or shouldn't) bring belief into any theory we might suggest about the way things are. I prefer the term speculation to belief, because if you believe something all that strongly, what will you do when somebody discovers evidence that shows it can't be true? Who knows -- the truth may be even more fantastic and wonderful than what you've suggested here. I do like your ideas, and find it appealing to think that dark matter may self-organize into ordinary matter, but as a scientist I have to keep my mind more open to other possibilities as well.

  4. Raima, thank you so much for taking the time out to read this article.

    Thank you also for pointing out the usage of "believe". My intention was not to use it in the same context as belief in a religious system or an article of faith, but more as a figure of speech to reinforce the reason for proposing the idea despite the lack of evidence. Point taken, and I shall suitably modify the sentence.

    That said, there is enough empirical evidence to suggest the possibility that self-organization did/could occur at a universal scale. Just as we know how the Universe evolved, post the Big Bang, so do we know through Darwin's theory of evolution, how life evolved on Earth. But what about the equivalent Big Bang for life itself? Could it well be through emergence as well?

    And is there an inter-connectedness between the two? And deliberately so? No, I am not veering towards intelligent design, just suggesting that the same natural laws could have set both the phenomena in motion.

  5. Good Share.I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you're talking about. Can't wait to read more from you!

  6. Hmm, Yatin... great write up. Worth digging a bit deeper in this direction or any other, to avoid getting into a dead end. Science is like a maze and if you get stuck you have to go back and try another alley :-)