Time magazine recently featured, as its cover article, "How the Universe Will End," a review of some of the current conjectures of cosmology and astrophysics.
The disturbing thing about the Time feature was the misleading manner in which it implied a consensus among scientists and the impression that these concatenations of conjectures approach the dignity of facts.
In truth, there are currently major upheavals in the field of physics, and there are increasing evidences that are challenging the current presumptions of "20th century science."
The Second Law of Thermodynamics indicates that the universe will, eventually, "wind down," and cease to exist in what is commonly called the "Heat Death."
The Time article simply summarizes some of the astrophysical conjectures on the details.
Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
- 2 Peter 3:12, 13
The Scriptures have much to say about the nature of the universe and space itself: for an in-depth study, see our Briefing Package, Stretching the Heavens, or our audio and video resources, The Creator Series .
Indeed, the great discovery of "20th century science" is that the universe is finite, and it had a beginning. The various alternative views of the events which followed the "singularity" of the Creation are collectively called "The Big Bang."
One of the most interesting disclosures in the Time feature was the review of what is often called "Dark Matter": that visible matter (and the energy associated with it) constitutes less than 5% of the matter in the universe! (We have been reporting on this periodically in Personal UPDATE since February 1993.)
It is disturbing to realize that virtually all of our insights and conclusions about the nature of matter has been drawn from a small sample of the larger reality!
The Time article, while illuminating in many respects, fails to indicate the emerging controversies within the field of physics: the non-constancy of the speed of light, the quantization of the red shift, the non-locality of subatomic particles, etc.
But what is provocative is the universal admission that there was a moment of creation - all the speculations focus their attention on the details which followed moments after creation.
Matter vs. Antimatter
For every particle there is an antiparticle; the existence of "antimatter" made up of antiparticles has been the staple of science fiction buffs for decades. It may come as a surprise to many of our readers that antimatter is the focus of serious study on the research frontier of particle physics.
One of the mysteries of creation is why there is any matter around at all. Matter, and its opposite counterpart, antimatter, congealed out of energy during the first moments of creation, acting according to Einstein's famous equation, E = mc2, which simply says that matter and energy are two different forms of the same stuff.
Matter and antimatter particles, during the early moments of creation, if in equal numbers, should have annihilated each other, melting back into energy. So why is there any matter in the universe at all? It exists because "nature" prefers matter to antimatter by a small margin. The margin is viewed as the reason why the story of creation does not end simply with, "Let there be light."
In 1967, the Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov, who later became one of his country's most famous dissidents, proposed a theory that explained the imbalance using a phenomenon called Charge-Parity Violation. 3 To say that CP symmetry is violated is to say that the physical properties of particles and antiparticles are not fully symmetrical. Contrary to previous assumptions, this actual phenomenon was first observed in 1964 when subatomic particles called K-mesons and their anti-Ks transformed into other particles in a slightly asymmetrical fashion.
If the physicist's theories were correct, the same strange behavior would be found in another, heavier, subatomic particle called the B-meson. Testing that prediction was the main reason for building a $177 million accelerator at Stanford known as the "B factory," which opened in June 1999.
Beams of electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons, are sent whirling around a 2.2 kilometer ring almost at the speed of light. When an electron and a positron collide, they occasionally form a B-meson and its opposite, an anti-B. These particles exist for only trillionths of a second before decaying further, so the experiment had to be "exquisitely sensitive." By studying the decay patterns left by some 32 million pairs of B-mesons, the team (of over 600 scientists from nine countries) has found the critical asymmetries that physics theory called for. 4 The experiment seems to confirm some understandings but raises still more questions. Yet the more we learn, the more we discover that we are in digital simulation: that lengths, masses, energy, and even Time consist of "quanta" of indivisible units that have no "locality."5 The broader reality - the spiritual reality - is what the Bible has been telling us about all along.
The contemporary discoveries of science can be exhilarating if accompanied with a humility and a respect for what we have yet to discover, always maintaining an awareness that the Word of God is supreme and inerrant.
We are the object of Design and that design has a purpose and a destiny that goes far beyond the limits of any laws of thermodynamics or whatever!
Praise His Name!
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- K. C. Cole, "Physicists Get A Big Bang Out of Findings," LA Times, July 7, 2001, p.1.
- Michael D. Lemonick, "How the Universe Will End," Time, June 25, 2001, cover article.
- Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and James Riordon, "CP Violation in the Decay of B Mesons," The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News, No. 547, July 12, 2001.