Monday, November 14, 2011

The Oscillating Universe

I came across this short story “The Oscillating Universe” by Dennis E. Piper, published in The Observatory, Vol. 97, p. 10P-10P (1977), (PDF available here), and thought you might enjoy it:

One day the Professor called me in to his Laboratory. “At last I have solved the equation,” he said. “Time is a field. I have made this machine which reverses the field. Look! I press this switch and time will run backwards run will time and switch this press I. Field a is time.” Said he, “Equation the solved have I last at”. Laboratory his to in me called Professor the day one. “For heaven's sake, SWITCH IT BACK,” I shouted. Click! Shouted I, “BACK IT SWITCH, sake heaven's for.” One day the Professor called me in to his Laboratory...

19 comments:

Christine said...

Time troubles me. Me troubles time.

Bee said...

:-) The Oscillation would have been funnier even as a Palindrome. Do geese see God? And what about the past hypothesis? Best,

B.

Giotis said...

"Time is a field. I have made this machine which reverses the field."


Correct. In quantum cosmology time is a field. A massless scalar field or the scale factor is used as internal time with respect to which things evolve. I guess if you could reverse them the universe would start contracting. For the scale factor this is a tautology:-)

Bee said...

Well, yes and no, depends on what you mean with time. If time 'is' just a parametrization it is replacable by some other parameterization that might also be a field, in particular you can replace any appearance of time that way, though it's not very practical in most circumstances. If time 'is' more than that, then not. To see what I mean, is there time if you have no matter fields, ie a flat Minkowski space? I would argue that you have a time in some sense (the coordinate with the funny signature) but that sense is physically meaningless (what is time supposed to be unless you have something that changes?) But, fundamentally, where did it come from? Do you need the field for that? Do you need matter for that? I don't think there's presently a good answer to that. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

I think the field time represents is a field of dreams, as it was always here and it is us who then were able to come.

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable”


-T.S Elliot , “Burnt Norton” (1935)

Best,

Phil

Uncle Al said...

http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.5019
http://arxiv.org/abs/1106.4859
Equation 1

The bouncing universe, albeit with spacetime torsion not curvature. Space has no intrinsic chiral discrimination toward mass.

http://www.quantumdiaries.org/2011/11/14/lhcb-reports-observation-of-cp-violation-in-charm-welcome-new-physics-or-not/
Doesn't count.

Steven Colyer said...

I saw this in one of my books, not sure it's quoted correctly but the version you have is still good, brb ...

Steven Colyer said...

Found it! Original version from 1961 IS a palindrome. Typing it now ...

Steven Colyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Colyer said...

On page 43, The New Ambidextrous Universe, by Martin Gardner:

Frederic Brown has the distinction of having written an entire short short that is palindromic by words. He has given permission to reprint it in full, from his collection of outlandishly funny stories Nightmares and Geezenstacks (Bantam, 1961).

THE END

Professor Jones had been working on time theory for many years.
"And I have found the key equation." he told his daughter one day. "Time is a field, This machine I have made can manipulate, even reverse , that field."
Pushing a button as he spoke, he said, "This should make time run backward run time make should this," said he, spoke he as button a pushing.
"Field that, reverse even, manipulate can made have I a machine this. Field a is time." Day one daughter his told he, "Equation key the found have I and."
Years many for theory time on working been had Jones Professor.

END THE

Bee said...

Hi Steven,

Thanks for that! This is funny, I also came across the story in a book (JD Barrow, Impossibility), but neither in that book, nor in the source I linked to above is there any mentioning of Brown's story. In Piper's version the oscillation seems to be not simply periodic, maybe he was trying to make a point with that? Best,

B.

Plato said...

I am not sure if some of you people have heard of the Wayback Machine?

You cannot erase the future by eliminating the past?:)If you did you might call it something else but it's roots will have already bee established?

The only thing you can do is if you were in opposition is to supplement a different view for what is truly remembered...you see?:)

Hmmmm.....how to kick something out of it's orbit?:)

Best,

Steven Colyer said...

You're welcome Bee, and I'm sure Piper was trying to make a point. A rather nice take on the original. Totally random I only bought one Gardner book and I came across the original. Serendipity?

In any event, I see you have a new post up re ....wot's this?? ... lesbian erotica and wet t-shirt contests?? Naughty Bee... tell us more. :-)

Giotis said...

Not sure what you mean Bee. The fact that the time you are talking about (as a coordinate of a background spacetime manifold) is just a parameter with no physical significance is an old lesson of GR.

Bee said...

Yes. What I mean is that GR is probably not the fundamental theory of space and time, and thus fundamentally we don't actually know what time is. Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Ok but do you really believe that something that has lost its physical meaning already in the derived classical world will aquire it in the fundamental theory?

Bee said...

I don't, but I know people who do.

Giotis said...

Related subject: Bee did you check Bojowald's latest paper http://arxiv.org/abs/1112.1899 ? Due to holonomy corrections there is a signature change near the big bang singularity and thus a transition from Euclidean to Lorentzian regime. This is exactly what the Hartle-Hawking wave function postulates i.e. that the Euclidean space is the fundamental one and there was a signature change from Euclidean to Lorentzian regime. It's funny because the thing I really didn't like in LQC was the generic bounce picture it seemed to predict.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

I had seen it and marked it for reading. However, it will take a while till I will find the time. Best,

B.