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Old 06-26-2008, 08:28 AM   #139
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Aethyr Engineering

Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: 4th dimension
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Our Fractal Universe: A Sneak Peek at the New Cosmology

Our Fractal Universe: A Sneak Peek at the New Cosmology

Buddhabrot Mandelbrot VisualizationWe talk about the third dimension a lot, but most humans don’t live in it. Abbot’s Flatland was not so much a metaphor as an operational description of the sensory world most people inhabit: a continuous, unbroken plane that, despite surface variations and wrinkles, remains a flat stage for our two dimensional lives. This is inevitable, since humans cannot hover or fly without technology assistance, and few of us can jump higher than three feet off the ground.

And let’s be serious, here—what is a dimension? Have anyone ever even proved they existed? Sure, you can draw a Cartesian XYZ grid on paper, but you can also draw a unicorn vomiting angels. I’ve been digging through the concept of time for a month, and it’s a concept nobody can really define, despite the fact we all experience it. I’ve come to realize there’s very little humans can say for sure about space, either. The more we learn, the less we know. Everything you were taught in school is currently falling apart—so let’s take a look at a theory that will likely be replacing all this Big Bang horse****: the Universe is fractal and infinite at every level of scale.

Rethinking Occam’s Razor

“Each time we formulate a hypothesis, we take the simplest one possible. But what obligates the Universe to be simple?”

--James Peebles

I seriously question the assumption that the simplest explanation is usually the best. I find it truly bizarre that after the past century of scientific discovery, which has shown every single aspect of our Universe to be stranger and more complex than we ever thought possible, people still discuss the concept of Occam’s Razor with a straight face. Of course, most people having that discussion don’t even know Occam’s Razor, since the literal translation goes like this:

“...entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity.”

Before I dismiss the concept, I want to bring up one of the more interesting cognitive biases that humans are afflicted with: The Conjunction Fallacy. As puts it in his excellent paper, “Cognitive Biases Affecting Assessment of Global Risk”:

According to probability theory, adding additional detail onto a story must render the story less probable. Yet human psychology seems to follow the rule that adding an additional detail can make the story more plausible.

Of course, once you really dig into the field of cognitive bias, you’re left with the disturbing realization that our brain is just a hall of mirrors run by a monkey. It can be hard to get work done under those circumstances, so the less said about it, the better.

*That was from sept 21st - today i see this in the news:

Galaxy map hints at fractal universe

* 00:00 25 June 2008
* news service
* Amanda Gefter

s the matter in the universe arranged in a fractal pattern? A new study of nearly a million galaxies suggests it is – though there are no well-accepted theories to explain why that would be so.

Cosmologists trying to reconstruct the entire history of the universe have precious few clues from which to work. One key clue is the distribution of matter throughout space, which has been sculpted for nearly 14 billion years by the competing forces of gravity and cosmic expansion. If there is a pattern in the sky, it encodes the secrets of the universe.

A lot is at stake, and the matter distribution has become a source of impassioned debate between those who say the distribution is smooth and homogeneous and those who say it is hierarchically structured and clumpy, like a fractal.

Nearly all physicists agree that on relatively small scales the distribution is fractal-like: hundreds of billions of stars group together to form galaxies, galaxies clump together to form clusters, and clusters amass into superclusters.

The point of contention, however, is what happens at even larger scales. According to most physicists, this Russian doll-style clustering comes to an end and the universe, on large scales, becomes homogeneous.


Both stories are cont'd on their sites - so check it out
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