Sing the paeans! The smartest man in the world is on the verge of solving the greatest mystery in the universe. Dr. Richard Carrier, having definitively answered the question of whether Jesus really existed (he didn’t), having perfected atheism, now applies his inquiring mind to Cosmology.
I Think, Therefore I’m Right
Though an historian by training and a free-lance bible lecturer by profession, Carrier has divined the essence of the very structure of the universe. He’s written a physics paper about it, and only needs a friendly physicist or two to read it over and add the physics part.
In Philosophy, Relativity and Quantum Entanglement, Carrier, by virtue of one ontological argument, clears up all the ambiguity and paradoxes that plague Cosmology, in particular, physicists’ “inability to reconcile quantum mechanics and relativity, despite nearly a century of trying.” All we need to do is “entertain theoretical possibilities that we presently reject,” specifically:
“… that spacetime is a real entity, an object in the same way particles are objects. An objective spacetime would not have a “location” in spacetime (there need not be any “other” spacetime in which spacetime resides), but otherwise it would be a thing, subject itself to the laws of relativity and quantum mechanics.”
Fortunately, there’s a philosopher in the house to handle the ‘spacetimes within spacetimes’ recursion, as physicists can be so cavalier about causa sui.
It might seem strange to you that someone bereft of any formal training in science could so quickly unravel conundra that have vexed cosmologists for so long. But remember that Dr. Carrier is gifted with an immense brain, ever active, relentless in its search for the truth. What takes lesser men years of dedicated research to determine, Carrier can deduce while dunking his coffee cup into his morning donut. Having conquered his own discipline, Dr. Carrier is gracious enough to lend his superlative cognitive abilities to others.
On a recent flight back from a New Testament roundtable in Des Moines, where he’d once again made Bart Ehrman cry in public, and scathingly corrected Acharya S on her Greek, Carrier had the opportunity to peruse a back issue of Science News, where he found three articles on quantum theory. A twenty minute delay before landing gave Carrier the required time to ruminate on the content of these scholarly pieces and formulate his Theory of Quantum Incoherence (“QI”).
When Quantum Mechanics (“QM”) first took off in the 1930s, many of its strange predictions conflicted with Relativity, Einstein’s model of the universe. In 1935, Einstein and two associates published a thought experiment (known as “EPR”) to expose what they saw as the absurdity of QM. When particles become entangled via quantum interactions, they seem to exhibit what Einstein disparagingly labeled “spooky action at a distance”. This apparent violation of causality, a cornerstone of Newtonian and relativistic physics, has been confirmed by actual experiment. It’s all a bit confusing to the lay person. Thankfully, Carrier gives us a very wordy primer on EPR experiments, as popular authors like Gribbin, Greene and Kaku (not to mention the Science News staff) have made such a hash of it.
QM, of course, has proved amazingly accurate, able to solve many riddles Relativity cannot. And, the incongruity exposed by EPR has been largely mooted by quantum decoherence. Carrier’s QI goes one step further by eliminating the need for QM entirely:
“it is theoretically possible to deductively predict all entanglement phenomena including the results of every EPR experiment, without recourse to any special theory of quantum mechanics.”
“It should be a simple matter for a physicist”, Carrier assures us, to predict the result of every entanglement in the universe by factoring certain attributes of massless bosons (not to be confused with lightweight former bosuns.)
Among the icons of the History of Science, Carrier’s Jet Blu napkin will join Newton’s apple. For on the back of it, Carrier first scribbled:
EP1: Relativity theory is true.
EP2: If relativity theory is true, then objects traveling at the speed of light relative to other objects pass zero time and are contracted in the direction of motion to zero length.
CN1: Therefore, spacetime always travels at the speed of light relative to a massless boson.
CN2: Therefore, on a boson’s entire path from emitter to detector, spacetime passes zero time and is contracted in the direction of that boson’s motion to zero length.
CN3: Therefore any entangled pair of massless bosons simultaneously occupies every point in space from emitter to detectors and any signal between them passes instantaneously.
Carrier’s stunning discovery: the entire universe is one giant Einstein-Bose condensate.
The Great Brane
Dispensing with Kaluza and Riemann, rejecting the seminal work of Veneziano, Schwarz, Green, Susskind, Nambu and others that indicated either 10 or 26 space-time dimensions, Carrier observes:
“it is known that spacetime allows motion in only three dimensions of space and one of time, yet there is no known reason why this restriction should obtain. Theoretically the number of dimensions can and should be infinite (in the absence of anything to restrict the number, the principle of indifference entails the number should be unrestricted).”
Witten’s M-Theory, which adds precisely one additional compacted spacial dimension to elegantly merge all five working string theories, therefore does not obtain.
The Principle of Indifference is a bit of epistemology stating that, in the absence of any reason to expect one event rather than another, all the possible events should be assigned the same probability. A key component of Bayesian analysis, Carrier’s forté, it’s virtually unknown to physicists. Which explains why their research has been dead in the water these past 78 years.
Out Riding Fences With The Spacetime Cowboy
Carrier can identify “only three logically possible explanations” why spacetime is “restricted to only a specific number of dimensions.”
The first, that particles possess properties prohibiting them from traveling into all but three of the infinite dimensions, he rejects as a “completely novel ad hoc hypotheses for which there is no evidence.” Those messy Dirichlet boundary conditions can now be ignored.
The second, that the objects in the other infinite dimensions coordinate to ‘push’ our particles into place, “entails an improbability that is beyond astronomical.” (Or, by definition, precisely astronomical.) Carrier is engaging in some fairly complex number-crunching here, so It’s unclear to the lay reader whether Carrier has just disproved Wheeler’s multiverse, or is merely a bit queasy about contemplating Hilbert spaces.
The only logically possible conclusion resulting from Carrier’s Aristotelean examination is:
“[S]pacetime is an objective entity and thus can, like any object (e.g. the surface of an apple), have a fixed number of dimensions as an innate property of its structure. This requires no novel ad hoc hypotheses, since the one entity being proposed (a real spacetime) is observed, and therefore is in evidence. It is also vastly simpler than the other two alternatives.”
Only four (or perhaps ten) dimensions can exist “because dimensions are objectively real and, as with any objectively real objects, there can therefore be a finite number of them.” Thus through philosophy does Carrier neatly reconcile Einsteinian spacetime with QM, something the p-braned Wang, Polchinski, et al. could never have sorted out.
Having first stated “Relativity theory” as a given, Carrier then cleverly disproves General Relativity:
“In any event, there is no logical connection between spacetime being shaped a certain way, and objects being thereby forced to move along that shape a certain way, so positing that gravity just is the shape of spacetime is actually a non-explanation of gravity as a force.”
Whether Carrier’s intention was to also to cast doubt on the existence of Calibi-Yau manifolds is unclear. In any event, String theory is just a minor embellishment of Cosmology, a sprig of parsley to its rib-eye, so Carrier wastes little time discussing it.
Savior to Science
It is indeed odd that entire generations of great scientists, from Bohr, Fermi, Heisenberg, Dirac & Pauli, to Wheeler, Feynman, Gell-Mann, Weinberg & Hawking, to today’s talented young crop, were unable to figure out any of this. It can’t just be that their brains weren’t as big as Dr. Carrier’s — no one’s is. One common denominator jumps out: all of these physicists had degrees in … Physics! In contrast, Dr. Carrier holds a Ph.D. in Ancient History from Columbia, the most prestigious school in America. Now we see how it was possible for Carrier, in the time from when the stewardess took his empty cup to the lighting-up of the fasten seat-belts sign, to recognize that the missing piece to the puzzle was philosophy!
We are privileged to live in the Age that gave birth to the brightest star ever to grace the firmament of great minds. We stand before the door leading to complete understanding of the universe. Dr. Carrier’s theory of Quantum Incoherence is the key that will unlock it.
All QI needs is some impressive-looking formulae to lend an air of authenticity. Say, something like
Any number of physicists, grateful for Carrier’s gift of Salvation to their inept, rudderless field, would surely do the maths gratis.
(c) 2013 by Matt Cavanaugh. All rights reserved.