This amazing summary of our latest understanding of cosmology, by Lawrence Kraus, will blow your mind. It's what the majority of physicists now believe about the universe. It's the most informative hour I've ever spent in my life. You've GOT to see this!

Tags: cosmology, eternity, fluctuation, flux, kraus, nothingness, space, universe

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Indeed!
Lawrence spoke of 3 components of the universe that we’ve yet to confirm actually exist: virtual particles, dark matter and dark energy. Here’s the key concepts about them that (I think) I understand:

#1). Virtual particles come and go so quickly we can’t even detect them (yet).

#2). The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle mandates that empty space must be unstable and predicts, with confidence, that virtual particles flit in and out of existence at Planck scales of space. [I get an image of effervescence here, like the surface of a freshly poured glass of Coke.] This process is known as quantum fluctutions.

#3). The “sub-particle” Planck scales of space are so small that it includes the “empty space” between quarks within protons and neutrons. Virtual particles pop in and out of these empty spaces exactly as they do throughout the universe: including the vast vacuum voids between galaxies. Space is anything but empty.

#4). Solid objects (like us humans) are comprised of atoms which are mostly empty space. The mass of solid objects, therefor, is mostly derived from virtual particles.

#5). Einstein’s General Relativity was used to “weigh” the universe: specifically, his prediction of “gravitational lensing”. Visible artifacts of gravitational lensing have been found around a distant cluster of galaxies. Using this cluster of galaxies and its gravitational lensing effect on the light from a more distant galaxy 3 billion light-years beyond the cluster, astronomers were able to calculate the weight of the cluster. From this, they then extrapolated the weight of the entire universe (including its empty space).

#6). The weight of the universe was needed in order to determine the curvature (open, closed or flat) of the universe.

#7). Empty space between galaxies in clusters weighs about 50 times more than all the stuff in those galaxies.

#8). Dark matter and dark energy, unlike virtual particles, are permanent but also, as yet, undetected.

#9). The visible portion of the universe makes up less than 1% of its mass.

#10). Dark matter makes up about 30% of the mass of the universe.

#11). Dark energy makes up about 70% of the (unaccounted for) mass of the universe.

#12). Our universe is flat, expands forever, has zero total energy and could have begun from nothing.

What I don’t understand is:

#1). What about The First Law of Thermodynamics (conservations of energy/mass)? If dark matter has gained the advantage over gravity, thus accelerating the universal rate of expansion, doesn’t this violate the First Law?

#2). If the universe has zero energy and, thus, could have sprung from nothing, does this mean it’s impossible NOT to have a universe?

#3). If universal expansion creates space as it expands and the universe sprang from nothing, because nature abhors a void; doesn’t this mean that quantum fluctuations don’t require the presence of a universe to begin with?

#4). If quantum fluctuations don’t require a universe to begin with, doesn’t that mean that quantum fluctuations would be a feature of any and all universes?

No doubt, both my understandings and my questions are flawed. What I’m really hoping for is somebody who truly understands and can explain the scientific consensus on cosmology well enough to clear up my misconceptions.
#2). If the universe has zero energy and, thus, could have sprung from nothing, does this mean it’s impossible NOT to have a universe?

Lawrence said during the video that in quantum mechanics, nothing always gets you something.

#4). If quantum fluctuations don’t require a universe to begin with, doesn’t that mean that quantum fluctuations would be a feature of any and all universes?

Maybe. The physics are not well understood at a quantum level and as Lawrence was saying in the video, our foundational laws of physics could be environmental and local, i.e. pertaining to our universe only.

But, I only play a physicist on TV.
So, Reggie, your response to #2 means it's impossible NOT to have a universe . . . right?

As for #4 . . . I don't see how quantum fluctuations as a feature of all universes is incompatible with the locality of physical laws within universes.

You're only a TV physicist? Damn! Where's all the REAL physicists? Isn't there ANY here on TA?
So, Reggie, your response to #2 means it's impossible NOT to have a universe . . . right?

Well, I was just taking what Kraus said and extrapolating. That is always dangerous! But, if what he was saying and what I was interpreting is accurate, then Universe creation may be fairly common as a result of some underlying quantum physics.

As for #4 . . . I don't see how quantum fluctuations as a feature of all universes is incompatible with the locality of physical laws within universes.

It's not. His suggestion is that certain, inviolable laws of physics may not hold in other universes created by a similar a quantum genesis. Perhaps less gravity leaks away into hidden dimensions (if it does at all) and galaxies and stars will never form in that universe due to a varied physics. Certain conditions may differ randomly at the beginning that set natural laws into place for that universe. Ours just so happen to produce laws that resulted in astronomers.

You're only a TV physicist? Damn! Where's all the REAL physicists? Isn't there ANY here on TA?

Well...I haven't actually played one on TV....yet. I would love to pick the brain of somebody like Kraus, though.
I want to say something more about this video later, but right now I'm exhausted and just wanted to respond to this one point: "Lawrence spoke of 3 components of the universe that we’ve yet to confirm actually exist: virtual particles, dark matter and dark energy."
Dark matter and dark energy have been confirmed merely by the fact that we see that things aren't what we expected them to be - the terms dark matter and dark energy are simply referring to matter/energy that we can't detect right now but are also obviously having an effect on what we CAN see, and therefore know there must be something that we can't see.
Yeah, what she said.

I may not be a physicist, but I did major in physics in college before being seduced to the programming side of the force. :)
As I understand it, "dark energy" and "dark matter" are terms that are really just place holders for something we expect to find based on current models and measurements. We either find it or we have to seriously rework our models, right? The LHC may shine light on that.

But, in regards to virtual particles, those are a major component of Hawking's radiation, right? Isn't that much more solid than the "dark" stuff? Or does that hypothesis have better explanatory power than the other two and that is why it seems (to this layperson) more accepted?
In my opinion, dark matter is largely misrepresented in the media. It's not some big mysterious crazy new thing that physicists are trying to describe. While it is a mysterious concept (because the whole point of it is that we don't know what it is), it's not meant to represent some big mysterious substance - for all we know it could just be regular mass that for some reason our experiments can't detect right now. Essentially, yes, the names are just place holders for something totally new we need to discover or just getting better experimental techniques. It's called dark matter literally because it's "dark" to us - we can't see it except through it's effects on other things.

I think virtual particles is just an older concept so it seems more accepted. There's still a lot of work to be done there, though.
In my opinion, dark matter is largely misrepresented in the media. It's not some big mysterious crazy new thing that physicists are trying to describe.

I couldn't agree more. I think that there are two parts to that. First, the media get's erect anytime a scientist says "I don't know", hence the "X baffles scientists" headlines. The second part is that science gave this stuff a name with "dark" in it, which is sure to spark the feeble imaginations of superstitious and unscientific people. And those people buy the media's output, so cater to them!
Haha, that reminds me of this comic: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=1623
Exactly!

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