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Inflation Will Change The World

The world seems to have been born out of nothing, and Lawrence Krauss explains a few things about how it expanded to the universe we see today.

In a recent episode of The Agenda with Steven Paikin, theoretical physicist and author Lawrence Krauss discussed a number of issues regarding cosmic inflation.

I don’t understand much about cosmic inflation, or physics for that matter, but I do understand the scientific thought process. The methodology underpinning the various theories, hypotheses and postulations presented in the program made sense to me in a most satisfying way.

I have no way of checking whether what Krauss says about gravitational waves – and how they’re supposed to reveal what the universe looked like a millionth of a trillionth of a second after the big bang – is valid, not without enrolling myself in college and obtaining my own advanced physics degree.

But I do know that his claims, and any claims a scientist makes, are checked by the entire scientific community. If they’re baloney, or inaccurate, or misguided and biased, at some point in time we’ll hear about it because people run checks on the subject matter in ways that involve evidence.

I don’t understand much about cosmic inflation, or physics for that matter, but I do understand the scientific thought process

I love evidence. It makes the world more interesting in ways hocus-pocus never can. Time and time again, it beats even the wildest imagination, tracing out a world truly extraordinary. I’m amazed at the depth it provides and the challenge it offers.

I’m amazed at how committed to the cause of discovery and innovation the scientific community is.

I’m amazed at how powerful a methodology science is, and how efficient it is, despite being totally decentralized and uncoordinated on a grand scale.

I’m also fascinated by the idea that humans have built a machine that measures time-space fluctuations to almost infinitesimal accuracy, and that there are people out there running it, making it yield meaningful data.

I’m amazed that Congress had the power to enable the construction of such a machine, yet voted it down, making everyone wait for the Swiss to commission one.

I’m content that science, which makes outrageous claims about reality, constantly changing our understanding of it, is diligently crosschecked by different people with different agendas, the findings of whom may corroborate or refute a theory, creating a sounder, albeit madder and more outrageous model of the universe.

I’m also fascinated by the idea that humans have built a machine that measures time-space fluctuations to almost infinitesimal accuracy

And I’m intrigued by the idea that we can know meaningful things about the microscopic world by observing the macroscopic scales first, then following the trail back to the source – and vice versa, from the microscopic to the gargantuan. A two-way street.

I’m curious to see what the Planck observatory will say about the recent discoveries on inflation.

Krauss points out that in science one has to be skeptical and always doubt the data, no matter how committed he or she may be to them, and I’m relieved to hear it. To avoid turning into a dogma, science has to keep doubting the data, subjecting everything to scrutiny and debate.

Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman comes to mind. He famously said that the easiest person to deceive is yourself. (Ed note: ‘The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.’)

So I nod in agreement when Krauss admits to feeling rather unsettled when one of his crazy ideas seems plausible or applicable. Seeing the universe abide by the extraordinariness with which he conceives it is humbling, exciting, astonishing, mind-blowing.

It also drives him to search for more answers, blowing his mind a little extra each time.

It also blows my mind. I’m amazed at the energy with which Krauss talks about his ideas and theories. His enthusiasm is akin to that of a child talking about his favorite toy, yet his arguments are informed and well formulated.

I’m intrigued by the level of curiosity with which the interviewer, Steven Aikin, approaches the issue, seeking to extract meaningful answers from Krauss.

Seeing the universe abide by the extraordinariness with which he conceives it is humbling, exciting, astonishing, mind-blowing

I’m elated when hearing Krauss point out that science really does what art and music and literature do – change our perspective of our place and purpose in the cosmos. The scientific enterprise does just that, by forcing us to be a little uncomfortable.

Clearly one doesn’t have to write poetry to portray the world in poetic terms. Blessed are the beautiful minds, be they artistic, scientific, or simply awe-struck.

I’m awe-struck, fascinated by the notion of the cosmos inflating from infinitesimal size – and infinite density – to the gargantuan universe that surrounds us. I’m blown away by the idea that as it expands, the universe falls out in certain areas, breaking apart, creating points of irregularity in space and time where big bangs may occur again, leading to a never-ending series of explosions, like pasta water — pasta water that boils over a hot pot.

I’m mesmerized by the concept of multiple worlds growing out of the same templates, a little different each time.

I wonder how this notion of permutation and iteration applies to humans, who are universes in and of themselves. I’ve seen people who share genes do very different things. I’ve seen people raised in the same environment lead totally different lives, yet be bound by the same principles.

I’ve seen strangers come together like drops of water.

I’ve seen the universe in the actions of a single person – in the history of a civilization.

I’ve seen the universe inside a child, growing and becoming more mature, filling up with information and experience, conjuring up a life from absolutely nothing, wonder determining its every move.

I’m intrigued by the idea that our cosmos is but one of countless many, and that we’re here to perceive it, analyze it and expand on it, maybe even augment it, adding our two bits to the endless cascade, no matter how meaningless our existence may be in the grand scheme of things.

I’m feeling good today. I hope you are too.

Here’s the interview: