A NICE DAY FOR A WALK
Nelson looked up from his computer, got up, walked across the room, and kissed his wife, Dorotea, and said, “I think I’ll go for a walk to clear my head. It looks like a nice day for a walk.
Nelson was a physicist, a Professor at the local University. Dorotea was much more inclined to the arts. She did artwork on the computer and made jewelry. Her work was well in demand. Nelson was a demanding Professor, and not very much in demand by his students. His colleagues, however, had some respect for him.
Nelson stepped out the door and was greeted by a cool, gentle, caressing breeze. The sun was out, but there were a few clouds in the sky; a nice day for a walk. He walked, listening to the birds, taking in the scent of the lilacs, opening his arms, and watched a beautiful red cardinal land on a branch and start his song. He thought, “There is so much beauty here, does it have to end?
The thoughts he had intended to escape came rushing back at him. The evidence is there. The Universe is expanding exponentially. Will it continue to do so forever? If so, what will happen to all that we are and to all that we see here? Will memories, memorials, history, and any semblance of life be preserved in some form of “Heaven”, or will it all vanish in an infinitely expanding Universe? Can Religions deal with it? What good are morality, abstinence, kindness, fair play, and helping thy neighbor if everything gets dissipated with eternity? Why not just get what you can and as much as you can for yourself in the time allotted to you? Why put off for another day what you desire for today?
But there is another factor to consider: What is the cause, or force, driving this exponential expansion? Could it be Dark Energy? If so, then what does Dark Matter do? Is it possible that Dark Matter possesses a force that would pull at the expansion and cause it to slow down, and maybe even stop it or, perhaps, reverse it? What scenarios would that create?
Slowing it down would mean that it would take longer to achieve the ‘forever’ expansion. Stopping the expansion would mean that at some point in the exponential curve there would be a levelling off of the expansion, and the Universe would occupy a fixed space forever. We have no idea what the Universe would look like at that point in time. And we have no idea what effect a non-changing, stagnant Universe would have on the contents contained in that Universe. How would people respond to that? How should religions respond to that?
Nelson, puzzled with his thoughts, suddenly became aware of the people who were also walking, and enjoying their walks on such a nice day. He thought, “Why can’t we have this forever? Why can’t this last for every generation, forever? Is this what could happen in a non-changing, stagnant Universe”. “You know”, he thought, “Religions could handle this. They would have Eternity on their side and they can preach that Heaven on Earth could become a reality if we all accepted and respected each other. They can preach that we could all share nice days for walking, listening to the birds, taking in the scents of the flowers and the baking and the cooking, and taking in the sights and sounds of the beautiful and the not so beautiful.”
But then he thought, “What would happen if the force of Dark Matter reversed the exponential expansion and turned into an exponential contraction?” This possibility jarred him. The idea of an exponential contraction could, or would, he thought, result in a new Big Bang and the creation of a new Universe with same Mass and Energy and the same Mathematical and Physical Laws. He wondered, “Would that result in a replica of this Universe, but with a different consciousness? Or would the Laws of Probability alter the courses of events to provide a more unique Universe?”
Nelson stopped and looked around, and spied an empty bench. He went to it and sat down. “This”, he thought, “requires a lot more thought and I had better sit down to think about it.”
First, would information from one Universe be carried over to the next Universe? Probably not, but suppose it did. Who, or what, would receive it, and how? How would that affect the succeeding Universe? Would it make it possible for intelligent life in the succeeding Universe to alter the course of events to stop the contraction? How would Religions approach this subject?
Second, if intelligent life in one Universe cannot transfer information to the succeeding Universe, is it possible for the succeeding Universe to never develop an intelligent life form to discover that which has been discovered in the preceding Universe?
Third, would this process of Big Bang-expansion-contraction-Big Bang go on forever? If so, what would religions look like in those iterations?
Fourth, what would be the shape of the expansion/contraction curve? Would it be the shape of a 3-dimensional Normal curve? Would that reveal or imply anything?
Nelson had no answers to these questions, and he could not see how Physics or Cosmology could answer these questions. But, nevertheless, we know that we have a few billion years, of Earth time, to think about and explore these matters.
The beautiful day was turning into an exceptional evening, and Nelson got up off the bench and headed home to share the exceptional evening with Dorotea.