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Agreeing to disagree at the next Convergence conference

The closing panel. From left to right are  Patrick Brady, Stefania Gori, Immanuel Bloch, Sara Seager and Ian O'Neill

The closing panel. From left to right: Patrick Brady, Stefania Gori, Immanuel Bloch, Sara Seager and Ian O’Neill.


By Hamish Johnston

I have just returned from the Perimeter Institute (PI) in Waterloo, Canada where I enjoyed a fantastic few days immersed in discussions involving some of the sharpest minds in physics. The great and good were at the PI for the first Convergence conference and from what I have heard, the participants are calling it a great success.

But could it be even better next time?

At the panel discussion that closed the conference on Wednesday, several people suggested that “challenge” should be the theme of the next meeting. In particular, the structure of the meeting should facilitate questioning the views of individual researchers as well as more general critiques of accepted wisdom – cosmic inflation was one topic suggested from the audience. Indeed, one person in the audience suggested that participants in a forum could be asked to argue on behalf of an idea that they don’t accept.

In my experience, most physicists are extremely pleasant and polite people who are interested in understanding and developing the ideas of their colleagues rather than challenging them in a public forum. As a result, a “Challenge” conference could be difficult to pull off but it would certainly be an event I would want to attend.

The talk that came closest to fitting the bill for “Challenge” was Kendrick Smith’s lecture “Planck results and future prospects in cosmology”, which you will shortly be able to watch for yourself here.

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  1. M. Asghar

    There are so many problems, for example, in the domain of cosmology: the Big Bang, the inlfation, the dark matter, the dark energy, the black holes, that need challenging “divergent views and ideas” to undestand all of this in place of the convient “Convergence” bandied around here by the PI and its sponsors.

  2. Once you realize that causal sets form frequency ratios, which are energy ratios in accord with E=hf, you have the definition of energy and its quantum in terms of time alone. That’s no one’s “work.” That’s just the origin of mass/energy and the final reduction of physics to time, obtained by noticing something too simple for the genius mind to bother with.

  3. By inviting me Convergence would get enough challenge. TOEBI provides totally new approach which could be, as Kuhn would put it, the new paradigm. Single theory capable of taking over QM and relativity theories.

  4. Well then Hamish I would like to invite you and whoever else may be interested to a challenging conference on cosmology and possible theories of everything. I suggest Oxford as the venue and a date around 6 weeks from now, to be agreed.

    The PI Convergence conference, I understand was aiming for a more agreeable simplicity.

    The ‘Cosmic Challenge’ conference, would open with the proposition that actually the accelerating expansion of the cosmos (aka Dark energy) can indeed be simply explained as an effect of gravity, given a model on an infinite multi-cosmos universe. And this (once heretical and very challenging model) is actually the model that relativity predicts. And further from that, it’s this model that puts things on the best logical path to a theory of everything.

    The ‘Cosmic Challenge’ conference should also consider the social consequences of various theories e.g. does the ‘There is only one universe/ big bang’ view invite too much anthropic vanity, monotheism and thus conflict? Is the infinite multi-cosmos idea just too daunting and demoralising for the fact that it means we will never be able to fully fathom the universe?

    • Abed Peerally

      Multiverse, anthropic princlple and Big Bang universe: Except the Big Bang where there is some science, the others are merely philosophical. There is a false belief that since we cannot prove that there is a divine cause behind the BB, there is no hindrance in advancing trillions of accidental universes popping into existence from nothing. Clearly to any reasonable scientific point of view, there is a over violation of the LCE. But it is possible to show that this does not occur with the BB concept.

      • MJBridger

        Abed, actually it is the ‘only one Big Bang theory’ that is all about something coming out of nothing and seeming to break the conservation of energy principle, though there are logical tricks that say it isn’t.
        The Inflation theories contrive to ever create new universes without ending them. But the multiverse I propose, which predicts an acceleration for our cosmos, balances creation with elimination across the infinity.
        It is still true though that the problem of apparent intent is there regardless of whether you are talking about one big bang or infinite big bangs. It is just a bit more logical to suppose that if it could happen once it could happen many times (in an infinite universe) as that suggests there is some consistent physics that allows it to occur (as I would explain) rather than it being a pure one off miracle.

      • MJBridger

        It would be good to explain it all in full and how it answers all the questions and fits the observations, with simplicity. But it would be best to do that at a conference (responding to Hamish’s suggestion). Might you attend?

  5. Abed to Bridger

    Thanks for the proposition to attend the proposed conference. I have to attend one in Vienna mid November. Hamish and colleagues haven’t yet got a date and I wish to propose some topics for discussion. I certainly would be interested to attend as the origin of the universe is the most difficult scientific subject facing mankind. Regarding the implication of the LCE in this regard, this cannot be sidelined at all. So there is no possibility of tricking on this issue. Either it is, correctly, or it is not, which is unacceptable. Even a creator behind the universe cannot side track it in my opinion, in a way of speaking. I think once we can solve the origin of our universe the multiverses’ zillions of universes or any other higher level universe will simply follow suit. There should not be any misunderstanding in my remark, I am confident.

    • MJBridger

      I will fix a date for September or October.

      Re LCE (law of conservation of energy?)
      Say you ‘create’ two stars a certain distance apart. Their mass energy can be balanced by their gravitational potential energy (if they fall together). So you can say there can be a net zero energy, and you can thus create a universe out of no energy. But this is trick thinking as it overlooks the fact that gravity is being used as a bank of infinite energy (and you have to create the mass energy (and space and gravity) to create the gravitational potential energy. You don’t create a universe of great mass energy and gravitational energy out of zero energy.

      • Abed to Bridger

        Absolutely true. Even the zero energy issue in my mind is not what it is believed.


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