GENERAL RELATIVITY R.I.P

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An article in New Scientist (10/24/15) heralds the end of physics as we know it. What’s at stake here is Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. The article is entitled “Could cosmic megastructures be intruders from another world?” and is an attempt to get around the problem that General Relativity is defunct by arguing that all these megastructures that shouldn’t be there according to General Relativity, are not actually in this universe at all, but in fact are “illusory” and are windows into “other dimensions” or into “parallel universes.”

Einstein’s theory of General Relativity is a complex mathematical theory about the curvature of space-time. He adapted the Riemann curvature equations which were intended to measure the curvature of objects in 2-D and 3-D spaces and simply plugged a fourth dimension of time into these equations. The answers that emerge from these equations cannot actually be envisaged by us in our 3-D world view and Einstein himself was the first to admit that these calculations have no “physical” significance.

The mathematics is very complex and physicists use a trick to make their calculations simpler and thus arrive at an answer as to the curvature of space-time based on Schurr’s Theorem. Basically this states that if all points in some neighborhood of a Riemann 4-D coordinate system are isotropic then the curvature of space-time is constant throughout that neighborhood. Isotropy simply means uniformity in all orientations. No isotropy means no symmetry, it is as simple as that. This became the Cosmological Principle in Einstein’s theory. His equations only make sense on the basis that no place in the universe exhibits special or peculiar features. You can have patches of individuality in solar systems and even in galaxies but the universe overall should exhibit a drab homogeneity in all directions.

The problem is that in recent years cosmologists are finding more and more “megastructures” that indicate that the universe is not uniform in all directions. For a start in another article on this website “Truth is stranger than fiction” it is explained that in fact there are polarized swirls in the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) which means that at the level of the CMB the universe is not isotropic at all. No matter what direction you look in you are going to detect the CMB polarized differently. In addition it is now known that the CMB has a huge “cold spot”. In other words not only are there significant variations in polarization in the CMB but also there are significant variations in temperature. This is another nail in the coffin for the cosmological principle. The researchers who found this cold spot have attempted to explain it away on the basis that there is a “supervoid” in that region which is actually even more devastating for the validity of the cosmological principle. This supervoid is said to spread over 2 billion light years of space, and it is generally accepted for the cosmological principle to be valid there must be homogeneity on a scale of one billion light years at least.

On the other end of the scale is the Huge Large Quasar Group which is a structure that spreads over 4 billion light years and is said to contain 73 quasars. Quasars are the bright active central regions of very distant galaxies which makes this section of the universe particularly crowded. And just this year (2015) scientists discovered yet another megastructure this time consisting of galaxies emitting gamma-ray-bursts (GRBs) which form a ring a whopping 5.6 billion light years across and occupies approximately 6 percent of the entire visible universe. Gamma rays are highly energetic short-lived bursts of energy which are emitted from distant galaxies and the discovery of such a huge ring structure emitting GRBs was totally unexpected and unprecedented. “We really didn’t expect to find something this big,” says Lajos Balázs from the Konkoly Observatory in Budapest, Hungary, who led the study. Its size makes it five times larger than the typical scale at which the cosmological principle tells us that homogeneity should kick in.

It is therefore clear that the cosmological principle on which Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity depends is invalid. There have however been attempts to try and salvage the cosmological principle. One such attempt comes from string theory, or specifically M-theory, which works on a model of the universe consisting of 11 dimensions, and has given rise to brane theory. We perceive our universe as a single four dimensional membrane floating in a sea of similar branes spanning multiple extra dimensions. Proponents of this theory are arguing that these megastructures that have been recently discovered are actually the effects of a neighboring brane in another dimension overlapping with ours. In our universe they are merely an illusion, that is to say not real, and therefore the cosmological principle for this universe has not been breached. String theory is of course highly speculative and mathematical and to date no one has come up with any solid predictions stemming from string theory which can actually be verified.

Although it is highly unlikely and totally speculative that these megastructures observed in our universe are in fact illusory effects from neighboring dimensions or parallel universes, you will see in an article on this website “Proof the universe is virtual” that in fact a recent theory has emerged, stemming precisely from string theory, that our universe is a 2-D flat space hologram and one dimension and gravity are fictitious. If this theory is correct then it will not of course salvage the cosmological principle and Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, but it does indicate that these megastructures are indeed illusory in as much as they form part of the 2-D flat space hologram, and once we conclude that we have illusory megastructures in our universe spanning billions of light years, then it is somewhat of a moot point to be arguing whether the source of these illusions are alternative dimensions or are just the holographic nature of our own universe. Either way physics as we currently know it is kaput.

Even as all these articles are appearing that so many megastructures in the universe are tolling doom for the cosmological principle there are actually other physicists obsessed with their own particular theories that are confidently announcing that they have solved the riddle of firewalls around black holes which are also violating the cosmological principle. In an article in New Scientist “Entangled Universe: Could wormholes hold the universe together” (11/4/15) some string theory enthusiasts are now arguing that all of Einstein’s space-time is permeated with wormholes which means that every particle in the universe is entangled and that this network of entanglement is what acts like malleable strings of “chewing gum” to hold space-time together. They are confidently announcing that their theory has solved the enigma of firewalls around black holes which violates the requirement for isotropy in space-time which is an essential requirement for Einstein’s General Relativity to be correct. A great breakthrough, they think, which will inevitably lead to the Holy Grail, a unified theory of physics. Only trouble is that the cosmological principle is already mortally afflicted on account of all these megastructures in the universe.

To learn more about the relation between wormholes and entanglement read the article on this website “Beam me up, Scotty.”