Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Surah Al Anbiya , The Big Bang and a Century of Science

Friends ,

"Have not those who disbelieve know that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and We made every living thing of water? Will they not then know? " [ Surah Al Anbiya , 21 : 30 ]
I was discussing verse 30, from Surah Al Anbiya, alluding to the fact that 'heavens and earth originally started from one point' which opens up the paradox of the uncertainty of matter ,a well known paradox in non particle physics .The Big Bang Theory behind the early origin of the universe came into view . For the spiritually inclined, this particular verse when viewed with present scientific postulation of the origin of this universe from a 'singularity point' [ a quantum physics term meaning 'nothing, with no mass nor volume,], the concept of Kun Fayakun come into mind, and the spirit warms up to it and the hearts melt with increased piety and taqwa to the One God.
On the other hand knowledge without wisdom, as the ensuing discussion with an eminent friend of mine from the USA who share the same 'crazy' passion as mine on endurance horseback riding, exemplified the fact that specialised knowledge per se is double edged and does not gurantee faith :"Dia boleh membuka jalan ke arah kepercayaan yang nyata dan abadi dan pada masa yang sama bolih juga membawa kearah kekusutan .""Hanya AKU yang membuka pintu hati manusia , kamu [ Muhammad] hanyalah tidak lebih dari menyampai maklumat"" .His background was very much steeped in Quantum and Theoretical Physics.

To me ,if any hardcore scientist was to discover 'GOD", they would be the ones .They deal into realms way above you and me .The Einsteins , Carl Sagans and Stephens Hawkings of their world could literally 'calculate' and investigate God's 'fingerprints' on this vast universe quantify the probability of the universe happening as an accident as an odd of one to several billion billion billion billion.If they want , they would be the perfect Muslims yesterday but these poor souls as most of the people around the world today were rich in knowledge but lack that inner wisdom to differentiate between the trees,branches and leaves from the forest! He wrote :

Something I might know a little something about ;-) . I've given up on
hard core endurance riding since at six decades of age - the old body is
a bit worn for anything but going out, getting around and enjoying the
ride. But there is immense pleasure in that because the time is spent
with the most noble of all beast - the horse.

The history of physics is one of mis-starts, miscalculations, mistakes
and egos that are smoothed over by the next generation as experimental
methods and instrumentation allow us to probe deeper into the workings
of Mother Nature. It is a blessing to have people like Hawkin, Brian
Green (Elegant Universe), Leon Ledderman (The God Particle) and Roger
Penrose (The Emperor's New Mind) that have the ability to convey the
non-intuitive nature of physics (from Newton's viewpoint) to the layman.

It all really started when Sir Clerk Maxwell wrote down a set of four
simple equations for electromagnetic radiation, e.g. light. These were
simple enough looking but they debunked the concept of luminous ether
that physicists were holding dear at the time. Einstein noting the
implication that the speed of light was always going to be a constant -
formulated his special theory of relativity. This further stood the
scientific community on its ear. In reality today we say that Maxwell's
equations is an example of a Gauge theory where the Gauge is the Lorenze
transform. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorenz_gauge. Today most
physical theories depend of a "Gauge" in their formulation. Today in
Quantum Field Theory - the Gauge replaces the "wave function."

Heisenberg was a cleaver sort with his uncertainty principle. Actually
Heisenberg thought this was an issue of how we can measure - it is not
it is a fundamental property of how Mother Nature works. Today it is has
a very interesting formulation - much more interesting than the
original. Classically if one has position of a particle, call the
position X and the momentum of the particle, call it P, then it is not
possible to simultaneously to measure both X and P to arbitrary
accuracy. The is the more accurately you measure X the less accurate the
you can measure P and visa versa. It is a very simple equation DX*DP>=
h/(4*pi) where DX is the error in X, DP the error in P, h = Planke's
constant and pi=3.14159....

Good enough but position and momentum are conjugate variables of a
system. Conjugate variables have a precise definition that is related to
the "wave function" describing the system.
http://nostalgia.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_Principle. There are a
lot of conjugate variables running around. Two of the interesting ones
are time and energy. That is for any system DT*DE is bounded below. The
more accurate we know "time" the less accurate we know energy. Since the
total energy in the universe is zero - there is positive energy (matter)
and negative energy (anti matter) with dark matter making up the
difference to make them sum to zero this gives rise to an interesting
phenomenon. Take a vacuum - the physical definition of "nothing" or is
it? Is it possible for a positron (anti-matter electron) and a electron
to appear in a vacuum. They borrow energy from the uncertainty. But the
sum of the energy is that of a photon! The total energy of a
positron/electron is very close to zero (that of a photon) so the DE is
very small. Since the total energy is almost zero then Heisenberg's
principle seems to say they can appear and hang around for a while.
After a short time, the positron/electron pair annihilate one another in
a matter/anti-matter reaction releasing the photon - hence the total
energy is again zero. This "quantum hiccup" is in fact what happens and
was first postulated and verified experimentally by Dirac
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Dirac. This prediction has been
validated over and over. In fact a vacuum is full of "quantum hiccups."

Since the total energy in the universe is zero - the quantum hiccup
could hang around for a very long time since DE=0" - in fact it is one
the current theories of the universe that shows the most promise. That
is our universe is nothing more than a "quantum hiccup." In fact there
are probably many universes running around. One of the interesting
interpretations of quantum physics is the Parallel Universe formulated
by Everett at student of John Wheller (also Richard Feynman's thesis
adviser) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Everett

Today one of the more prominent theories of the "big bang" was it was a
giant "quantum hiccup" that started it all and we are sill in the DT
era. This also accounts for many universes - all but ours is out of our
"event horizon" hence not directly observable. However, there is some
though that they might be indirectly observable.

The deeper we delve into the workings of Mother Nature the clearer it
gets that she is going to make in more and more difficult to understand
her - just like any woman. Today the great quest is the Higgs boson,
a.k.a. The God Particle. One of the biggest mysteries in physics is what
is mass. Why do some particles have mass and some don't. For example
most particles, protons, electrons, neutrons, quarks, etc. have mass -
the interact with a force to "weight something." Some particles, for
example the photon, have no mass. What is the
differehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CERN that shows a chance to detect
it. CERN is the only particle accelerator with sufficient energy to
detect the Higgs and it is marginal.

Such a simple equation as DX*DP>=h/(4*pi) starting a lot of wheels
turning and I might say it has been a fascinating journey - one that is
not over by a long shot.

Theoretical Physicist Fritjof Capra, wrote a very interesting book
called "The Tao of Physics"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tao_of_Physics. The parallels between
what we observe on the quantum level and the how the Eastern Mystics
(Buddhism, Taoism, etc. ) view the universe have some very interesting
parallels. In fact Neils Bohr http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niels_Bohr
adopted the "Yin-Yang" symbol as part of his coat of arms when he was
knighted. So are we coming full cycle - are the similarities real or a
figment of the human desire to find a spiritual foundation? One of my
favorite Neils Bohr quotes is "Your theory is crazy, but it is not crazy
enough to be true."

Kesian dia .As I sit back at the end of most busy clinic days I cannot help but take a deep sigh .I see many intelligent and very bright people everyday : CEO's ,corporate guys ,young guys ,old guys ,healthy guys and very sick guys . Some of them are like lost 'sheeps'.Someof them I may not see again in 6 months time ,I know their 'aqidah' ,as in some I can even read their souls , but "memang benar hanya Dia yang Maha Esa yang dapat membuka pintu hati setiap makhluk '.We are just fellow travelers sharing and resting under a shady tree .We move on to our own individual destinations .

Could still remember that line from Tennyson or was it Anonymous ,we used to repeats in standard three :

"Under the bright and starry sky ,dig the grave and let me lie" .Moment like this I do feel nostalgic and sad as we are just like 'ships passing by in the night ' .

Dr Nik Howk


Malay Atheist said...

"Have not those who disbelieve know that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them.." [Al Anbiya, Ayat 30]

"I was discussing verse 30, from Surah Al Anbiya, alluding to the fact that 'heavens and earth originally started from one point' which opens up the paradox of the uncertainty of matter ,a well known paradox in non particle physics .The Big Bang Theory behind the early origin of the universe came into view."

If the Big Bang theory is right, there was NO MATTER AT ALL in the moments before the Big Bang, meaning there was NO HEAVENS OR EARTH to be split apart.

What makes your interpretation of the ayat even more ridiculous is that you then jump to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Please, if you want to have faith in whatever god, go ahead - but stay away from these "scientific miracles". They require to much information to be read INTO them before they can begin to make sense.

THINK, if these verses were meant to impress modern audiences with "scientific knowledge", why tease with only a few? And why are they so riddled with inaccuracies and incompleteness?

Science is about theories and proving them right or finding them wrong. Science is about change and development. If you hitch your scripture to science, you risk making yourself look like a fool when sceince turns around and changes certain theories due to new data and observations.

If you feel you must believe, then believe - don't use science to validate your faith. Because when you do that, you corrupt two of humanity's greatest achievements.

Pearls and Gem said...

Congratulations Malay Atheist....
I respect your views.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, the verse merely directs us to the Truth as conveyed by Allah Almighty that the universe was once a single entity, which was then split asunder. It is not alluding to a state of matter or no matter, of what preceded space and time, etc. But nonetheless the verse from Quran may allude to the act of creation - as something from nothing. This is not to confirm or deny current speculative and highly theoretical theories - which in themselves have many inconsistencies and is largely based on consensus of ignoring those inconsistencies.

Lastly please note, the scientific method does not lead to Truth, but is rather limited to the description and theories about the physical world we live in. And naturally these theories get challenged and negated or amended. The Quran is the Word of Allah, as revealed to humanity and is the Truth. It challenges man to negate it and find flaws or contradiction. Its doesn't dane to seek approval by the inferior intellect of man, Theoretical Physics, its is most high, above such uncertain and speculative thought.

Zulfi - A theoretical physicist!

Pearls and Gem said...

tq Zulfi. jarang anak melayu jadi theoretical physicist. most would rather choose only one or two blocks ahead and beyond that they would not want to think anymore.

i was reading muhammad asad's 'road to makkah' last weekend an marvel at the beauty of allah's grace.

even leopold weiss pun allah buka pintu hati dia . allah akan buka pintu hati sesiapa who embrace humility with the yearn to probe and learn the inner secrets of this universe with an open heart, and discard pride and prejudice.

insyaallah Malay Atheist, we both pray for him to be able to find his way thru this complex labyrinth of life sans pride !

Pearls Of Islam said...

Assalamu'alaykum... Is it okay I use your content and also comments for my blog... I' am having the same problem- dealing with an close, narrow minded atheist.