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Hidden Reality? Obvious Fiction!
am 18. September 2012
With his latest book, Brian Greene has definitely left the realm of physics behind, embracing the outskirts of mathematics with it's weirdest options.
Here are a few examples:
The inflation within the Big Bang:
Yes, there had to be an inflation period of a few Planck times to allow the universe to exist in the first place; hence the essential difference to a gigantic black hole.
The only possibility to have an expansion faster than light is empty space. In his "Elegant Universe", Brian Greene suggested that the inflationary energy was in fact needed to unfold the three spatial dimensions; this makes totally sense. No sense at all, however, is the assumed de-coupling of matter from space, as is now suggested and which affects relativity, requiring an intense interaction of space and matter.
Further, the inflation is said to solve the "horizon problem", i.e. the uniformity of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR).
However, to achieve this uniformity, just two principles are required:
One, the invariance of physics, underlying the theory of relativity and,
two, basic thermodynamics, with each and every Planck volume (about 10exp-134 m³) interacting with it's immediate neighbour (something we observe eg. as "swarm intelligence" too). There is no need to inform one end of the cosmos about the properties of the other.
Moreover, such an enormous expansion could have been detrimental. Just look at the result of such an expansion: The explosion of a supernova, where the fast expansion into the surrounding space yields filaments of gas and dust, anything but homogeneous (see e.g. the Crab Nebula).
Looking at the CMBR, Brian Greene maintains that the resulting analysis (COBE, WMAP) would be an essential proof of the super-fast expansion.
However, the CMBR was primarily the confirmation of the Big Bang itself (as opposed to the "steady state universe"), the first result being the almost uniform temperature as the "left over" of the (hot) Big Bang.
Further analyses were needed to verify the "components" of the universe. The Fourier analysis, which revealed whether various signatures added to the final result of the CMBR signature, came to the conclusion of a flat curvature, an energy signature (later dubbed "dark" energy) that clearly dominated the CMBR (some 74%), the baryonic matter-energy level of 4% and another matter signature (later dubbed "dark" matter) of some 22%.
This analysis revealed nothing about a superluminal inflation behind all of this.
Maybe the best (worst) example, which he also showed in his DVD-set "Fabric of the Cosmos" (4th chapter), is the cosmos as a large, expanding cheese, where multiverses are "ignited" like sparks.
However, if the "cheese" would expand with the supposed tremendous energy, each "spark" had no chance to grow, but would immediately be strangled.
There are many more examples, all similar to the ones sketched out above. But I think you get the idea.
One of the basic problems with this book is that Brian Greene simply applies the laws of quantum mechanics to the macroscopic world, ignoring basic laws of physics as he goes along.
However, already in his "Elegant Universe", he made it clear that the laws of relativity and of quantum mechanics cannot be applied together; they brake down, make non-sensical predictions. I'm afraid, but now he offers a lot of non-sensical predictions around various ideas of eg. a multiverse.
If you are looking for some far-out phantasies about the cosmos and are ready to ignore even basic physics, this may be your choice. Brian Greene still has a thrilling, alluring way of writing.
However, when you are interested in answers to basic questions about our universe, don't bother. Brian Greene has left the promising way he opened with "The Elegant Universe".