Some Reflections on the Nature of the Universe

Some Reflections on the Nature of the Universe
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By Nasir Rather

Ever since the dawn of human civilization, among the questions that has troubled man most is the question regarding the origin of the Universe. This question of how the universe came into being has not only attracted the best of minds in the fields of philosophy and physics only but also the mind of common man equally to see, analyze and observe the universe so as to reach some conclusion on origins of universe based on existing knowledge of the given times. The problem of the origin of the universe in earlier times, as Stephen Hawking says ,was bit like the old question: what came first-the chicken or the egg? In other words, what agency created the universe, and what created that agency. Until the 18th century, most of the brilliant minds had reposed their faith on the static universe. Static universe held the belief that the universe is unchanging with time and argued that the universe was both infinite in size and eternal in duration o, r in simpler words, it argued that universe had existed and would exist for ever. This model was accepted not because it was supported by observational evidences but because these people believed that something that is eternal was more perfect than something that had to be created.
Dennis Sciama, a long time friend of Fried Hoyle, in his defense of steady state model, regarding this theory once pointed out so “That he defended the this theory not because he deemed it valid, but because he wished that it were valid”. German Philosopher, Immanuel Kant, in his monumental book, “The Critique of Ppure Reason”, considered as one of the most influential works in the history of philosophy even argued that there were equally valid arguments for believing that the universe had a beginning and for believing that it did not. However, the problem with his conclusion lies in the fact that they are based simply on reason and not on any kind of observations. Furthermore, a difficulty in a static universe lies in a fact that according to Newtons law of gravity a star ought to attract every other star. If this holds, would not they all fall together in such a case?
However , as renowned astrophysicist , Professor Stephen Hawking writes in his book “Black holes and the Universes”, in the nineteenth century evidence began to accumulate that the earth and the rest of the universe were in fact changing with time. The evidence that universe is not static was provided by 2nd law of thermodynamics formulated by German physicist Ludwig Boltzman , which states that the total amount of disorder in the universe (Disorder is measured by quantity called entropy) always increased with time. This suggests that the universe(s) have been going only for a finite time. Otherwise, in case of an infinite history, it would by now have degenerated into a state of complete disorder, in which everything would be at the same temperature. So, all these observations were in total contrast with what static universe model argued for.
Scientists, nowadays, explain the creation of universe through a phenomenon called Big Bang (Big bang refers to singularity at which the density and curvature of universe would have been infinite and universe was extremely and immensely hot. Precisely it is this singularity where the laws of physics broke down). This theory is widely accepted because it is not only supported by reason but by observations as well. In 1985, a scientist remarked in a meeting “ It is as much true that universe started with a big bang in some finite past, as it is that the earth goes around the sun”. According to this theory, if we take the notion of the present galaxies and run it back in time, it would seem that they should all have been on top of each other at some moment between ten and twenty thousand million years ago. So, this entire matter would shrink into a minutely very small fire ball (the dimensions of which we can ot define) called as primary nebula. Then, through an expansion in this primary nebula some fifteen billion years ago it split up into various fragments which formed the matter for present day galaxies.
The greatest evidence in support of this theory had been the discovery, in 1964, by Arno Penzius and Robert Wilson, of a background of Microwave radiation from far beyond our galaxy for which they shared the Nobel prize in 1979.These radiations had the characteristic spectrum of radiated emitted by a hot ball. These, in fact, were emitted by the distant parts of the early hot universe and would be reaching us by now only in form of microwave radiations because of red shift as a result of expansion of universe. Acclaimed Nobel prize winning American theoretical physicist, Krip Thorn, commenting on a theory of big bang writes in his book, “The Science Of Interstellar “that we do not know what triggered big bang nor of, if anything existed before it. But, all we know is that there emerged a vast sea of ultra hot gas, expanding fast in all the directions Like a fireball ignited by a nuclear bomb blast or the explosion in the gas pipeline. Except that it was not destructive and that it created everything in the universe”. The conclusions of theory even finds a mention in the Glorious Quran in Surah Ambiya, Chapter 21:30, “Do not the unbelievers see that the earth and heavens were joined together and we clove them asunder”. Einstein’s revolutionary Theory of General Relativity even predicts this singularity. Though several attempts have been made to resists this conclusion but all have been in vain. Russell’s argument against God which is more of a philosophical nature than scientific with which he opens up his book “Why I am not a Christian”, as such, do not hold water, Likewise, the M- Theory, which is nowadays considered as a strong candidate for a theory of Quantum Gravity which in Hawking’s words allows the universe to create itself from nothingness (The Grand design) without the need of God is yet to account for a good scientific theory as of now. As, of now we should stick to this conclusion, that the universe was created.

—The author is a student of Physics at the Kashmir University. He can be reached at: