Physics and buddhism: The problem of the beginning


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By Ng Xin Zhao, Physicists Buddhist please download only for personal views or reference only, do not plagiarize any part of the presentation for your own presentation and/or criticism. Email me for further discussions if you are interested in the topic or wish to have this presented at your place/society/organization.

Disclaimer: information in the slides are due to the views that are (I think) true for the early 21st century. or at least in 2012. Future physics may make this looks like junk. And I'm open to that possibility.

Sorry that I've used some animation, thus you can't see the full slides.

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Physics and buddhism: The problem of the beginning

  1. 1. Physics and Buddhism: TheProblem of The Beginningby Ng Xin Zhaoaka The Evolution of Cosmology
  2. 2. Overview•Kalama Sutta•Problem Statement•Dalai Lama’s reply•Conventional wisdom•Physics Part•Conclusion
  3. 3. Kalama Sutta (AN 3.65)The Buddha named ten specific sources which knowledge shouldnot be immediately viewed as truthful without furtherinvestigation to avoid fallacies:•by revelations•by traditions•by rumour, gossip, hearsay•by scriptures,•by logical conjecture,•by it is a point of view, (common sense)•by having considered the reasons, (Philosophical dogmatism)•by agreement through Ones own theories•by experts•by the thought, This contemplative is our teacher.‘ (Authority)
  4. 4. Kalama Sutta (AN 3.65)When you know for yourselves that,•These qualities are skillful;•these qualities are blameless;•these qualities are praised by the wise;•these qualities, when adopted & carried out,lead to welfare & to happiness— then you should enter & remain in them.
  5. 5. Problem Statement•From an inconceivable beginning comestransmigration. A beginning point is not evident,though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered bycraving are transmigrating & wandering on. (SN15.13)•There comes a time, Vasettha, when, sooner or laterafter a long period, this world contracts. ….Butsooner or later, after a very long period, this worldbegins to expand again (DN 27)•Plus the concept of Kalpas (measure of age of onecycle of universe), infinite Buddhas, dependent co-arising…•Implies beginningless cyclic universes•Contradicts current Big Bang Theory!
  6. 6. Dalai’s Lama reply•“Even admitting that there was only one grandcosmic explosion, we can ask if this was theorigin of the entire universe or only thecommencement of our cosmic system inparticular. The fundamental question,therefore, whether the big bang, which,according to modern cosmologists, marks thecommencement of our current cosmic system,was the beginning of everything” - Theuniverse in a Single Atom (page 103)
  7. 7. Conventional Wisdom•Analogy by the Buddha in reply to the question: “Is thecosmos eternal? Etc…” by a monk who threatens to leave theholy life if it is not answered•A man was shot by a poison arrow•I wont have this arrow removed until I know whether theshaft with which I was wounded was that of a common arrow,a curved arrow, a barbed, a calf-toothed, or an oleanderarrow. The man would die and those things would still remainunknown to him.•"In the same way, if anyone were to say, I wont live the holylife under the Blessed One as long as he does not declare tome that The cosmos is eternal,... or that After death aTathagata neither exists nor does not exist, the man woulddie and those things would still remain undeclared by theTathagata. (MN 63)•Don’t ask nonsense questions, just meditate
  8. 8. Unconjecturable (AN 4.77)"There are these four unconjecturables that are not to beconjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation toanyone who conjectured about them. Which four?1. "The Buddha-range of the Buddhas[1] is an unconjecturable thatis not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness &vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.2. "The jhana-range of a person in jhana...[2]3. "The [precise working out of the] results of kamma...4. "Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is anunconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that wouldbring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it."These are the four unconjecturables that are not to beconjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation toanyone who conjectured about them."
  9. 9. This PresentationBy Kalama Sutta and the conventional wisdom thispresentation is a waste of time, but that’s whatcosmologists do•It addresses one important question too:Physics says there is a beginning, the Buddha says there isnone, so is Buddhism wrong?•To inspire people who distrust religion as a whole andtrust science generally come and see Buddhism.•To avoid clinging towards any particular viewpoint, be itPhysics or Buddhism as in accordance to the Buddhasteachings, by seeing the various changes in theevolution of cosmological model in Physics.
  10. 10. Summary•Buddhist cosmology demands a beginningless,cyclic universe to be consistent with teachings•Current Cosmology model is the Big BangTheory, but with a Singularity that needsquantum gravity theory•2 different quantum gravity theories produces2 different cyclic universes•Many discussions and verification underway…
  11. 11. Overview (Physics Part)•Quantum & Gravity•From Copernicus, Einstein tothe Big Bang Theory•Problems of The “Beginning"•Inflation•Quantum Gravity theories•Eternal inflation•Cyclic Universes–Entropy–M-theory, branesWidelyaccepted/recognized inthe fieldResearchfrontier anddifferentcontendingtheories
  12. 12. At very small scales, due toUncertainty Principle, VirtualParticles pair production happens:Quantum FoamQuantumHappens•At very small scales•Everywhere•Very fast
  13. 13. General Relativity: Matter curves spacetime,spacetime tells matter how to moveGravity adds up, most important consideration inCosmological scaleGravity
  14. 14. Einstein’s Static Universe12R g R Tµν µν µνκ− =12R g R g Tµν µν µν µνκ− + Λ =How space-timecurvesMass-energy-stress tensorEinstein’sequation forGeneralRelativity:CosmologicalConstant,AntigravityThe Universe isexpanding!The CosmologicalConstant is myGreatest Blunder!
  15. 15. Cosmological principleThe Copernican principle can be extended to become the cosmological principleCosmological principle: Viewed on a sufficiently large scale, the properties of theUniverse are the same for all observers. (in space)Perfect Cosmological principle: Viewed on a sufficiently large scale, the properties ofthe Universe are the same for all observers. (in space and time)
  16. 16. •Aka. Infinite Universe theory or continuouscreation•The Universe has always been expanding,matter always created to adhere to perfectcosmological principle•Has no beginning and no end, the universelooks the same at all timesSteady State Theory
  17. 17. •Universe was denser and therefore different inthe past•We know (almost) everything until the Planktime after the supposed singularity•(Conventional) There was a beginning, the enddepends on the curvature of the universeBig Bang Theory
  18. 18. •Forget about which one won in the end,•Which theory would you support if you were aBuddhist at that era?Poll
  19. 19. •Discovery of Cosmic Microwave BackgroundRadiation favours Big Bang Theory•The relative abundance of the light elements(H, He) is consistent with the Big Bangnucleosynthesis•Age of stars not older than the Universe•Evolution of GalaxiesAnd the Winner is…
  20. 20. •Singularity: point of zero Volume, infinitedensity, infinite curvature of Spacetime•Roger Penrose and Stephen Hawking wrote apaper in 1970 proving that the there musthave been a big bang singularity provided onlythat–General Relativity is correct and–the universe contains as much matter as weobserveInevitable Singularity
  21. 21. •Problem: Unpredictability of Singularity, allknown physical laws breaks down•Singularities implies General Relativity breaksdown near the “beginning” of the universe•Quantum effects (science at the very smallscale) must be combined: quantum gravity•What’s before the Big Bang?•General trend of this presentation:Beginningless universeThe Problem of The “Beginning”
  22. 22. •The Universe expanded exponentially for ashort time, solving the:–Horizon Problem: The Cosmic MicrowaveBackground Radiation to be (quite) uniform, butlight has no time to travel from one end of theuniverse to another–Flatness Problem: Our universe is close to acertain critical density, it must be even closer in thepast, why is it so fined tuned?•Evidence: Fluctuations (due to quantum foam)in the Cosmic Microwave BackgroundInflation
  23. 23. Recap•Quantum & Gravity•From Copernicus, Einsteinto the Big Bang Theory•Problems of The“Beginning"•Inflation•Quantum Gravity theories•Eternal inflation•Cyclic UniversesWidelyaccepted/recognized inthe fieldResearchfrontier anddifferentcontendingtheories
  24. 24. •Loop quantum gravity–Space is made of quantized loops–Quantum reformulated in the principles ofGeneral Relativity•String Theory / M-Theory–Everything is made up of (very small) vibratingstrings (Gravity in terms of quantum)–11 dimensions for M-theory, add in branes (2D ormore dimensional object)–Our universe might be living in a giant 4D brane!Quantum Gravity Theories
  25. 25. Several models of Cyclic universes,Big Bounce:•The universe experiences Big Crunch and followedby a Big Bounce, endless and beginningless cyclesof universesCyclic UniversesPossible because of loop quantumgravity
  26. 26. •Entropy (disorder) increases with each bounce,size becomes bigger for each universes:–there must be a beginning, and• 1998discovery of accelerated expansion of theUniverse implies the end of the universe mightnot be a Big CrunchProblems for Cyclic Universes12R g R g Tµν µν µν µνκ− + Λ =Cosmological Constantis back! Dark Energy
  27. 27. •If the Universe inflated, what’s stopping somepart of it to continue to inflate?•The universe will inflate forever forward, whynot extend this backwards?•No beginning, no end to the multiverse•, Evidence in theCosmic Microwave Background Radiation ofcollisions with other UniversesEternal Inflation
  28. 28. In the Anguttara Nikaya (Vol. II, p. 142; TheFours, No. 156), the Buddha says:There are four incalculable epochs, Bhikkhus.The four are:the enveloping epoch;the enveloped epoch;the developing epoch;the developed epoch.The epoch, Bhikkhus, during which there iscosmic envelopment is not easy to reckon as soMore from Buddhism
  29. 29. Dark energy in the form of phantom energy (w< -1)Universe accelerates so fast, Big Rip happensJust before everything rips apart, there is aturnaround, for a small piece of spaceThe Big Bounce that happens afterwards hasentropy reset and lowPossible problem: Each cycle produces moreuniverses, might there be a primordial universe?Unless there is infinite UniversesThe Baum–Frampton model
  30. 30. •Universes exist on branes (infinitely big), twobranes collide, causing Big Bang, alwaysexpanding, cyclically recurring, no need forinflation.The Steinhardt–Turok model
  31. 31. •Mithani and Vilenkin argue that the universecould not be past-eternal and must have had abeginning:•Susskind replies for all practical purposes, theuniverse was past-eternal: (Both 2012)Ongoing Discussions
  32. 32. •Cosmology is getting more and more active•Experimental/Observational predictions bymodels are to be tested–Scanning the Cosmic Microwave Background–LHC detecting extra dimensions gravity leak into•What’s the real motivation? To get rid ofsingularity or the beginning?•The real motivation in Buddhist point of view:Beginningless Cyclic UniverseConclusion? (for Physics)
  33. 33. The Baum–Frampton model•Universe accelerates so fast, Big Rip happens•Just before everything rips apart, there is aturnaround, for a small piece of space•The Big Bounce that happens afterwards hasentropy reset and lowWho knows what’s the next top model?Only Consistent Model So Far…
  34. 34. •"Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] theworld is an unconjecturable that is not to beconjectured about, that would bring madness &vexation to anyone who conjectured about it.•Impermanence of views•Yet, we are getting closer and closer to thetruth: practice so that we are closer and closerto NibbanaReflection
  35. 35. Summary•Buddhist cosmology demands a beginningless,cyclic universe to be consistent with teachings•Current Cosmology model is the Big BangTheory, but with a Singularity that needsquantum gravity theory•2 different quantum gravity theory produces 2different cyclic universes•Many discussions and verification underway…•Meanwhile drop all these and pull out thearrow!Shut Up andMeditate!
  36. 36. References & Pictures sources•Wikipedia, google, etc…•••••••••••••••••A Brief History of Time-Hawking••••••••••••••••••••
  37. 37. Question & Answers
  38. 38. So what if there was a beginning after all? WouldBuddhism demand for multiverse to exist?We had seen 3 types of Multiverse in the slides:1. Inflationary Multiverse2. Cyclic Multiverse3. Brane MultiverseThere are 6 more different Multiverse accordingto The Hidden Reality by Brian Greene, how doeseach of these affect the Buddhist cosmology andPhilosophy?Up next? Physics and Buddhism:Multiverses