Stephen Hawking and his relationship with God. What the British astrophysicist can say about the Almighty and the Universe.
You don't need to be a psychologist to understand: Hawking has been fighting with God all his life for the fact that he "punished" him so. But maybe it was the other way around - the creator "punished" the scientist for the fact that, while still a young man, before the onset of his illness, he decided to comprehend his secret? The irony of this paradox can only be compared with the irony of the Universe, closed on itself, which is finite in length, but has no boundaries. Such antinomies exist on the border of physics and philosophy. But from the point of view of the laws of nature - is there a creator? We will tell you what Stephen Hawking himself thinks about it.
Science and religion
These opposites have been fighting each other for about three thousand years. In 1277, Pope John XXI was so afraid of the existence of laws of nature that he declared them heresy. But, alas, he could not forbid even one of them - gravity. A few months later, the roof of the palace collapsed right on Dad's head.
However, religion with its plastic logic immediately found a solution to all problems. She quickly declared the laws of nature to be the work of God, who will change these laws at any time, as soon as they "want." And a bonfire - to those who think otherwise.
Later it turned out that everything is a little more complicated. The humble church was ready for this too. In 1985, at a conference on cosmology at the Vatican, Pope John Paul II stated that there is nothing wrong with studying the structure of the universe. “But we, - stressed the pope, - should not ask a question about its origin, since it was the work of the Creator”. But Stephen Hawking still wondered.
To answer this question, according to Hawking, it is necessary to understand the nature of only three ingredients that make up the "dish of the universe": matter, energy and space. But where did they come from in this "kitchen"? Einstein gave the answer to this. But he "stood on the shoulders of giants", so let's talk about everything in order.
Aristotle, Newton and Galileo
As is known, Newton based his laws of motion on Galileo's measurements. Recall that in the experiments of the latter, the body rolled off an inclined plane under the action of a constant force, which gave it a constant acceleration. So, it was shown that the real effect of the action of the force is to change the speed of the body, and not to set it in motion, as was thought before. It also followed from this that while the body is not exposed to any force, it moves in a straight line at a constant speed (Newton's First Law).
In addition to the laws of motion, Newton's works also describe the determination of the magnitude of a specific type of force - gravity. According to the Law of Universal Gravity, any two bodies are attracted to each other with a force directly proportional to the product of their masses.
The main difference between the views of Aristotle, on the one hand, and the ideas of Galileo and Newton, on the other, is that Aristotle considered peace to be the natural state of any body to which it aspires, if it does not experience the action of some force. Aristotle, for example, believed that the earth is at rest. But it follows from Newton's laws: there is no rest. Everything is in motion. Both the Earth and the train traveling on it.
What of this? The absence of an absolute "standard of rest" for physics had the same consequences as for a pupil of a parish school - entering the university. From this it followed that it was impossible to determine whether two events occurred that occurred at different times, in the same place. And this already means nothing more than the absence of an absolute, fixed space.Newton was greatly discouraged, since it did not agree with his idea of an absolute god. As a result, he actually abandoned this conclusion, which was a consequence of his own open laws.
But both Aristotle and Newton found a common "comforting": belief in absolute time. They believed that it was possible to measure its interval between two events, and the resulting figure would be the same, whoever measured it (if you use an accurate clock, of course). Unlike absolute space, absolute time got along very well with Newton's laws, and most people today believe that this corresponds to common sense. But then Einstein appeared …
3 equals 2
Calling himself a "gypsy and a vagabond," the great Einstein found out that the two components of the universe - matter and energy - are, in fact, one and the same, like two sides of the same coin. Its famous E = mc2 (where E is energy, m is body mass, c is the speed of light in a vacuum) means that mass can be considered as a form of energy, and vice versa. Thus, the Universe should be viewed as a “pie” that already consists of only two components: energy and space. But how did he come to this?
The same object - for example, a flying ping-pong ball - can be assigned different speeds. It all depends on which reference frame to measure this speed. If a ball is thrown inside a moving train, its speed can be calculated relative to the train, or it can be relative to the ground on which this train travels, and which, as you know, also moves around its axis, and around the Sun, which itself moves … and so further, without end.
According to Newton's laws, the same should apply to light. But thanks to Maxwell, science became aware that the speed of light is constant, no matter where we measure it. To reconcile Maxwell's theory with Newtonian mechanics, the hypothesis was adopted that everywhere, even in a vacuum, there is a certain medium called "ether".
According to the ether theory, light waves (and we know that light simultaneously has the properties of both waves and particles) propagates in it in the same way as sound waves in air, and their speed should be measured relative to this ether. In this case, different observers would register different values of the speed of light, but relative to the ether, it would remain constant.
However, the famous Michelson-Morley experiment in 1887 forced scientists to abandon the idea of ether forever. To the great surprise of the experimenters themselves, they managed to prove that the speed of light never changes, no matter what it is measured with respect to.
Einstein's principle of relativity states that the laws of physics should be the same for all freely moving systems, regardless of their speed. This was true for Newton's laws of motion, but now Einstein extended his hypothesis to Maxwell's theory.
This means that, since the speed of light is constant, then any freely moving observer must fix the same value, which will not depend on the speed with which he approaches the light source or moves away from it. This simple conclusion explained the appearance of the speed of light in Maxwell's equations without the involvement of ether or any other privileged frame of reference. But a number of other incredible discoveries followed from the same conclusion. And, above all, a change in the idea of time.
For example, according to the Special Theory of Relativity, the person riding the train and the one standing on the platform will differ in their estimates of the distance traveled by light from the same source. And since speed is distance divided by time, the only way for observers to come to a general conclusion about the speed of light is to disagree about time as well. This is how the theory of relativity did away with the idea of absolute time forever!
Another conclusion of the SRT is the inseparability of time and space, which constitute a certain community, space-time.
Developing the ideas of SRT in the General Theory of Relativity, Einstein showed that gravity is not at all some kind of attractive force, but a consequence of the fact that space-time is curved by the mass and energy that are in it.
In this regard, let us return to the illusion of absolute time, destroyed to the ground. Einstein proved that around massive bodies, such as, for example, the Earth, the passage of time should also slow down (roughly speaking, this is due to the curvature of space, and hence of time - some of their "stretching" around a massive body). The more body weight, the slower time will flow in its vicinity, and vice versa.
As you know, time flows faster on Earth's orbit than on the planet, so astronauts return home a little younger than they could have been if they had chosen another profession and would have always been on Earth. However, such "youthfulness" of astronauts is practically impossible to observe. Firstly, due to the proximity of the earth's orbit to the Earth, and secondly, because of the short-term stay of astronauts in orbit. But if any of them managed to go on a space journey on a ship that develops a speed close to the speed of light, and return in a year, then he certainly would not have found alive not only any of his loved ones, but also many generations of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Let's return to two other ingredients from which the Universe is "prepared": energy and space. Where did they come from? Today scientists answer: they appeared as a result of the Big Bang. But what is the Big Bang?
Approximately 13.7 billion years ago, the Universe was compressed into one unimaginably small point. This is evidenced not only by the well-known redshift effect, but also by all solutions of Einstein's equations. Sometime in the past, the distance between neighboring galaxies should have been zero. The universe had to be compressed into a point of zero size, into a sphere with a zero radius. The density of the universe and the curvature of space-time during these glorious times should have been infinite. They ceased to be so only with the Big Bang.
Another infinite quantity in the era of infancy of the universe should have been temperature. It is believed that at the time of the Big Bang, the universe was infinitely hot. As the universe expanded, so did the temperature. From here comes what we call matter. The fact is that at such high temperatures, which were in the Universe at the dawn of time, not only atoms, but also subatomic particles could not form. But with a decrease in energy, they began to connect with each other. This is how the substance appeared.
About 100 seconds after the Big Bang, the universe has cooled to a billion degrees (this is the temperature of the interior of the hottest stars). Under such conditions, the energy of protons and neutrons is no longer sufficient to overcome the strong nuclear interaction. They begin to merge, forming deuterium (heavy hydrogen) nuclei, consisting of a proton and a neutron. And only then the deuterium nuclei, attaching protons and neutrons, could turn into helium nuclei. The rest of the elements are born later, in the course of thermonuclear fusion inside hydrogen-helium stars.
After all this truly "hot" turmoil for about a million years, the universe just continued to expand, and nothing significant happened. But when the temperature dropped to several thousand degrees, the kinetic energy of electrons and nuclei became insufficient to overcome the force of electromagnetic attraction, and they began to combine into atoms. This is how matter appeared in our usual sense of the word.
But what about antimatter? What is it and where did it come from? According to the laws of physics, there is negative energy.In order to understand what it is, let's give an analogy. Imagine someone wants to build a large hill on a flat landscape. The hill is our universe. To create a hill, this someone is digging a large hole. The pit is the “negative version” of the hill. What was in the pit has now become a hill, so the balance is completely preserved. The same principle was at the basis of "construction" and our Universe. When a large amount of positive energy was created as a result of the Big Bang, the same amount of negative energy was generated at the same time. But where is she? Answer: everywhere, in space. The “pit” is our space, and all the matter to which we are accustomed and which we can observe, that is, what the Universe consists of, is a “hill”.
At the time of the Big Bang, the universe was compressed into an unimaginably small point. And it is at this subatomic level that General Relativity collapses, just as Newton's laws failed in their time when they tried to apply them to the motion of light. At the subatomic level, completely different, truly fantastic laws operate, which have no analogues in our everyday life. That is why the science that studies these laws, dealing with phenomena that occur on a very small scale - quantum mechanics - is so difficult to understand. The universe at the moment of the Big Bang is where the laws of quantum mechanics operate.
But, wanting to put all the puzzles of the universe, Stephen Hawking places his highest hopes on the creation of a unified theory of the functioning of the Universe - the theory of quantum gravity. She must reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics.
God plays dice
Quantum mechanics is based on the so-called uncertainty principle. It says: particles do not have individually precisely defined positions and velocities. But they have so-called quantum states, combinations of characteristics that are known only within the limits allowed by the uncertainty principle.
Quantum mechanics at one point dashed all hopes that the universe and all the processes in it could be predicted. She introduced the most terrible thing into science - accident. The laws of quantum mechanics only offer a variety of possible outcomes for something, and say how likely each one is. That is why Einstein never accepted quantum mechanics until the end of his life. He expressed his attitude towards her with the famous phrase: "God does not play dice."
One of the most important implications of the uncertainty principle is that in some respects, particles behave like waves. They do not have a definite position, but are "smeared" in space, in accordance with the probability distribution. And also, in accordance with the laws of quantum mechanics, the particle does not have any definite "history", that is, the trajectory of motion in space-time. Instead, the particle moves within certain limits along all possible trajectories, that is, it is, paradoxically, in several places at the same time.
It is possible to understand this only with the brain, calculations and equations, feelings and logic, it is almost impossible to do it. In our everyday life, a cup of coffee in the morning does not appear just like that. In order for a drink to appear on our table, you need to take coffee beans, sugar, water and milk. But if you look deeper into a cup of coffee, to the subatomic level, you can witness real witchcraft. And all because at this level, particles function according to the laws of quantum mechanics. They suddenly appear, exist for some time, just as suddenly disappear - and appear again.
All from nothing
But where did the unimaginably small point - our Universe - come from at the time of the Big Bang? From the same place as a cup of coffee: from nothing. Like protons disappearing and reappearing in a coffee drink, the universe emerged from nothing, and the Big Bang was caused by … nothing!
However, already in the next second after this event something amazing happened: time began. That is why it is impossible to go back in time before the Big Bang - it simply did not exist. This means that there was no reason for the appearance of the Universe, because for the presence of a cause-and-effect relationship, it also takes time. God simply did not have time to create the cause of the universe. For Stephen Hawking himself, all this means the impossibility of creation and the creator himself, because there was no time for this either.
In addition, in quantum theory, space-time can be finite in length (starting at the moment of the Big Bang), but not have singularities that form a border or edge. The universe, thus, is "closed" on itself, it has no boundaries, it is completely isolated and does not interact with anything outside of itself. And if this is so, then, according to Hawking, there is no need to find out how space-time behaves on the border, there is no need to know the initial state of the Universe. It, according to Hawking, can neither be created nor destroyed. She just is.
“As long as we believed the universe had a beginning, the role of the creator seemed clear,” Hawking writes in The Shortest History of Time. "But if the Universe is truly completely autonomous, has no boundaries, no edges, no beginning or end, then the answer to the question about the role of the creator ceases to be obvious."