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Restarting the Universe - A Thought Experiment

Posted on 2016-11-03
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Last Modified: 2016-11-10
Let's say the entire universe (both the parts known and unknown to us) restarted at the beginning of the new year January 1,1950 GMT.

Okay, we can't do that, but this is just a thought experiment.  

For this experiment, our present universe would cease to exist, and a replacement universe would be restarted (or recreated) in the exact state the replaced universe was in at the start of the new year 1950 GMT.  Lets call that restart time t0. In the replacement universe, all atomic particles, actions, human thoughts, etc. would resume in the state they were at t0.

My question is: Would random events and the butterfly affect from that restarted universe change the timeline as we now know it to have played out?

If so, what would be the nature of those random events?  

This is a science question.

WS
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Question by:WaterStreet
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by:aburr
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"This is a science question."
No, it is not. there is no way in which any thoughts on the matter can be tested.
Nevertheless it is an interesting question.
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"My question is: Would random events and the butterfly affect from that restarted universe change the timeline as we now know it to have played out?"

The answer is no.

If everything is reproduced EXACTLY, all influences, including the butterfly effect would be unchanged so the future would be unchanged too.
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by:WaterStreet
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Hi aburr.

What about neuronal noise in regard to behavior of humans and creatures having a neural network, and the subsequent propagation of individual and societal attitudes and events due to the butterfly effect.

"Neuronal noise is a general term that designates random influences on the transmembrane voltage of single neurons and by extension the firing activity of neural networks. This noise can influence the transmission and integration of signals from other neurons as well as alter the firing activity of neurons in isolation."  From http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Neuronal_noise
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by:aburr
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""Neuronal noise is a general term that designates random influences on the transmembrane voltage of single neurons and by extension the firing activity of neural networks. This noise can influence the transmission and integration of signals from other neurons as well as alter the firing activity of neurons in isolation." "

but the same comments apply here as applied to the butterfly effect
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by:CompProbSolv
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I would think that if it were truly random, then the restart would produce different results.

Keep in mind that "random" is often used in place of "too complicated to model at the present time".

Is a coin flip "random"?  We treat it as such, but I don't think it is.  The physics of its motion is pretty straightforward.  What is complicated (and not "random" in my mind) are the specifics of how we flip it.
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by:WaterStreet
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Are you saying the "random" events in the replacement universe would play out with the same outcome as  they did in the replaced universe?

If so then these events seem  to me as not being random.  Is there a scientific basis for that notion, or is there an argument this could be a philosophical issue?

WS
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by:WaterStreet
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my  previous was in response to aburr

WS
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by:aburr
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Let us frame the question somewhat differently.
IF we could create a video of the universe, would the video of the original universe after t0 (if it existed) be identical to the video of the substitute universe after t0.
The answer is, with the present state of science, no.
Quantum mechanics says that radioactive atoms decay at unpredictable and unknowable times.
People are trying to remove this randomness but so far have been unable to do so.
But, of course, we can produce neither video. So science ends and unproveable speculation continues.
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by:tliotta
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No, it is not. there is no way in which any thoughts on the matter can be tested.
Exactly so.

There is no answer other than perhaps "Maybe 'yes'; maybe 'no'."

Because we have no clue what actual "random" is, the answer depends on how it's interpreted.

If randomness is ruled by 'hidden variables', then there'd be no difference. The universe could stop/restart every 10 ms. and pause for a billion years between each "frame", and we could never notice that it happened.

But if such things as "truly random" physical events actually happen, then the restarted world would be a different place indeed from how it actually is. Most of us wouldn't exist because a different sperm would have effected fertilization at a different time (perhaps in a different parent parent). Every tornado would have followed a different path at a different time. Within days, almost every 'accidental' human event would have been different, perhaps not happening at all or being superseded by an earlier event. Different winners and losers in Las Vegas and Monte Carlo. After a year or two, slightly different politics could be evident. Slight tactical changes in the Korean War could lead to a very different result. Perhaps the early delaying tactics would have failed utterly, and the whole peninsula would be overrun, leading to a necessary nuclear response. Perhaps...

About the only thing certain in the case of "truly random" physical events is that the human world today would be very different in terms of who lived here, no matter if general historical tendencies remained the same. That alone would make for radical changes.
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by:WaterStreet
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Thanks to all of you, so far.

The responses range from aburr's no-change to tliotta's marco (worldwide) changes within a few years of t0.  
 
Can we all agree the answer is pure speculation, that it cannot be determined at this time, so we have no basis for rejecting (a) no-change, (b) macro worldwide changes within a few years or (c) some level of changes between these two?

WS
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by:aburr
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"Can we all agree the answer is pure speculation,"

sure
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CompProbSolv earned 250 total points
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I don't think I'd call it speculation.  THE question is whether or not there are "random" events.  Aburr claimed that quantum mechanics says that there is, which is consistent with how I was taught.  If there is true randomness there (or anywhere else for that matter) then the restart will end up with different results.  The differences may be apparent quickly or may take a long time, but they will start immediately.

If, on the other hand, the quantum mechanics randomness is another example of our incomplete model and there really is determination on all actions then the restart will end up the same as the original.

I think that the speculation is about randomness only.  The conclusions follow from that.
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by:tliotta
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I think that the speculation is about randomness only.
Completely agree. As long as we don't know anything about the true nature of "randomness", it's "Maybe 'yes'; maybe 'no'."

Worst part for now is that it can seem as if we can never know.
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by:WaterStreet
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You guys/gals are great.

CompProbSolv's answer hit home with me:
"THE question is whether or not there are 'random' events."   "Aburr claimed that quantum mechanics says that there is, which is consistent with how I was taught.  If there is true randomness there (or anywhere else for that matter) then the restart will end up with different results.  The differences may be apparent quickly or may take a long time, but they will start immediately.

If, on the other hand, the quantum mechanics randomness is another example of our incomplete model and there really is determination on all actions then the restart will end up the same as the original."

So, it seems to me (now) the speculation is about randomness only, as tliotta said, which seems be what all can agree.

Anyone reading this should read the entire thread (not too long as such conversions go) in order to see the progress of reasoning.

Thanks,

WS/Michael
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by:viki2000
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Hello guys
Nice to see you discuss smart questions, previously deeply debated in Philosophy/Religion section.
I’ve traveled lately and no time for EE, but I have read and like your talk.
I would like to continue the idea about “random”.

Let’s take the proposed example with flip coin test.
In the past when people started to think at “random” and used that flip-coin as example, obviously each one had in mind a man doing that. Just put the hand in pocket, grab a coin, throw it in the air and voila!   you don’t know on what side will end on the floor.
What if we use a robot arm on fixed stable table and later a moving humanoid robot, we know the force and direction of throwing the coin, the side of the coin before throwing in the air, the material, weight of the coin, and we know the gravity, air density (or vacuum), pressure, air flow, magnetic field on that point….and some other parameters that we can imagine/request for the experiment, then I think we can end up with the same side. We will know always and precisely how will end up on the floor.
Then we do not have random events anymore.
Then random means we do not know now, equals our limitation for the time being.
Coming back to human being, a trained person, one from circus or the magicians/illusionists that make tricks, but actually they are either very well trained, talented persons as prestidigitators or use faked coins (let’s assume is not the case), well they can get always the same result as they want and the flip-coin is not random for them anymore, similar as with robot arm test.
What I want to point out is the fact that usage of word “random” means in fact not knowing how will end up, not knowing the result of test/experiment, but the same test/experiment is not random anymore if we know a good amount of parameters which will help us to control the end result and then will not be considered random anymore by us. In both cases we may consider it scientific, but we tend to accept more scientific the situation when we know the end result, because that “random” implies that we are unable to reproduce the same end result in a laboratory, by repeating the experiment and that is the essence of what we call scientific.
Lately, since quantum mechanics, we had to accept a bit less in that direction, a compromise between pure random and the same result: the statistics. If repeating several times the same test we get statically a certain acceptable percent with similar end result, and then we do not consider it “random” anymore.
We lowered our standards of acceptance of what “random” is due to our inability to get always the same result when we repeat the same test. We cannot do it, we are limited. Heisenberg proved that. Quantum mechanics is a strange different world with its own laws and is not as we see in macros with clear black and white. Then comes even more difficult: subject-object interaction, the state and parameters of the test is influenced by the observer who participates at the test; you cannot have a fixed absolute reference.
Under these conditions, how to get rid of “random”?
There is only one way, which is hard, SF and faraway of the present scientifically power of investigation. We have to be outside of the present dimensions in order to not influence the exiting dimensions, in order to quantify from outside the exiting quantum events which seem totally random due to interaction of our investigating particles/fields with the particles /fields to be investigated. Then you have different perception and the laws seem different, the “random” seem to have logic seen from that external dimension. Even the universe, which now seems infinite, will show a part of its secrets, instead of infinite, maybe finite without boundaries as a 2D dimension being would perceive the surface of the Earth.
And that may imply things that we do not like to discuss, because are out of our present spectrum: existence in other dimension, God, precise creation instead of random evolution.
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by:WaterStreet
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Hi viki2000.

I couldn't unwind all of that for an answer to my question, so it greatly confused me.

From my opening post: "My question is: Would random events and the butterfly [e]ffect from that restarted universe change the timeline as we now know it to have played out?"

My understanding of the previous responses range from yes to no, to we can't presently determine that (if ever).

Where do you stand on these three?

WS
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by:viki2000
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My comments were around the word "random" which creates a big problem and confusion. I had no intention to answer your question as I thought you got the expected answer(s), but if you want my answer straight to your question, then comes indirectly from my comments about "random" concept.
But here it is:
- We cannot determine that from inside of the present known dimensions when we refer to what we define now as known universe, because our interaction as subjects/observers with the observed universe/object is linked and we influence and we are influenced by the laws that makes us part of it and you end up with incertitude described by Heisenberg, resumed at best guess based on statistics as happiest case or "random", unpredictable result, meaning unknown result as worst case, so we are pretty vague here.
To be honest with ourselves we must say it loud: we do not know. We should be able to be also outside of the box to fully understand what is happening, where the box is here the dimensions that we perceive in what we define the known (up to date) universe.
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by:viki2000
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You can go further with your experiment, and I had in mind since a while what I will tell you now.
Let’s suppose the dissolution of the present universe.
We have certain prediction based on calculations that in future the Sun will die and the universe will collapse on singularity.
Due to our spirit/hope, which dies last, let’s assume the humanity evolves to a certain stage when we would be able to go over that singularity because there are some options as:
-      We go in another universe parallel with the existing one.
-      We can go in another dimension(s).
As consequence, we may not take the technology and perhaps neither the knowledge with us as it is nor as it would be in that time in future, because the dimensions will not allow it, but in exchange we can exist, we can transfer our existence, in one form or another, our “to be”, not necessary these bodies, which is the main thing as long as does not end in suffering, which is the psychological contra argument. If it is unknown, bad or worse, then we are ready to take the chance for it as there is no other chance except ceasing. When is too much suffering for long time, then you prefer to be deleted, is better than long/infinite suffering existence. The rest does not matter. We can evolve in that dimension(s), we learn the laws of new universe and we can build from scratch models about it. Then it would be like a reset, without any knowledge about what was before, the previous universe. It would be high price but everyone would agree. Then we meet again with unknown and “random”.
Now, what would you say if we just came in the present universe like that?
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by:WaterStreet
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Thanks vicki2000.
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by:tliotta
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We have no way to know, so the point of the question seems only to be a survey of participants. Personally, I believe in 'hidden variables' and I'm close to believing that at least some of them will always be hidden from us.

So, I'm on the side of a different resulting universe.
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