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The universe had to have a beginning, mathematicians say

In “Mathematics of Eternity Prove The Universe Must Have Had A Beginning” (Physics Arxiv blog, April 24, 2012), KFC tells us, “Cosmologists use the mathematical properties of eternity to show that although universe may last forever, it must have had a beginning”:

Audrey Mithani and Alexander Vilenkin at Tufts University in Massachusetts say that these [current cosmology] models are mathematically incompatible with an eternal past. Indeed, their analysis suggests that these three models of the universe must have had a beginning too.

Their argument focuses on the mathematical properties of eternity–a universe with no beginning and no end. Such a universe must contain trajectories that stretch infinitely into the past.

However, Mithani and Vilenkin point to a proof dating from 2003 that these kind of past trajectories cannot be infinite if they are part of a universe that expands in a specific way.

They go on to show that cyclical universes and universes of eternal inflation both expand in this way. So they cannot be eternal in the past and must therefore have had a beginning. “Although inflation may be eternal in the future, it cannot be extended indefinitely to the past,” they say.

They treat the emergent model of the universe differently, showing that although it may seem stable from a classical point of view, it is unstable from a quantum mechanical point of view. “A simple emergent universe model…cannot escape quantum collapse,” they say.


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4 Responses to The universe had to have a beginning, mathematicians say

  1. The idea that the Universe existed infinitely into the past always struck me as absurd. By definition, an infinity in distance or time cannot be traversed. If the Universe existed infinitely into the past, how could that infinity of time be traversed such that there is a “now”?

    The idea that the Universe had a beginning is perfectly understandable, but it of course raises a big question — what made it begin? The available answers to this question are philosophically uncomfortable to many people, thus the Multiverse has been invented. But the Multiverse is just a tuxedo version of the old infinite universe.

  2. There you go again, Stuart, hinting at a God who designed, created and sustains the universe. Give me a random- information unit, instead of a brain, any day!

    That’s why we materialists are so sharp about the how the universe was constituted by random chance. Randomiferous affinity.

  3. For most people beginnings can hint at minds, and that is philosophically unpleasant for some. Was it Eddington who said, “I find the idea of the universe having a beginning to be personally repugnant”?

    The Multiverse isn’t science (i.e. there’s no observation, thus no theory to explain an observation, and thus no testing); it’s an escape hatch to aid a preferred narrative.

  4. Did mathematics have a beginning?

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