A Theory of Reality that Makes Sense

Just to be clear, what you are reading is an opinion. It doesn’t matter whose, but it happens to be mine.

The universe in which we live is fundamentally rational. It has been postulated that the universe is lazy. It is lazy in that it will expend the minimum work possible to cause an effect. That implies that the universe operates rationally because it would require more effort and energy to operate irrationally; for example, instead of an object following a straight line in a flat universe with nothing else near enough to affect it, it suddenly stops, jinks left or right or up or down, or disappears altogether. Something else might cause the object to do those things, but that would require an extra cause to change its course.

What about people, animals, and plants? What about bacteria, single cells, ribosomes, mitochondria, and viruses? Are they rational? They are all part of the universe.

According to a widely accepted theory, the universe contains matter, energy, and forces organized as an open system, but it contains within it both open and closed systems. Open systems disintegrate over time. Matter is attracted to other matter when it’s close enough to have an effect. When this happens with enough matter nearby, a closed system may be formed. The lipid envelope of a virus, the lipid cell walls, the chambers of our hearts and other organs, oyster shells, the skins of animals and people, the cellulose of plants, the wood bark of trees, cars, houses, airplanes, submarines, rocket ships, earth, and the sun are examples of closed systems.

In a closed system, the rules are different. As I wrote previously, living systems are examples of closed systems. Living systems depend on mitochondria and ATP from the sun (photosynthesis) or food to provide the energy required for cells to replicate, produce heat, grow, do repairs, and to keep their internal environment at levels that allow them to survive (homeostasis). Living systems integrate matter during birth and growth but, at some point, growth stops and, later begins to decay until they die. At that point, they begin to decay. Eventually, as skin, the walls of organs, and cell walls disintegrate, what was a closed system becomes an open system once again, rejoining the universe and its rational laws.

So, while we are closed systems, why don’t we behave rationally? That’s a good question, but that’s not what I want to discuss here. What I want to discuss are theories, specifically theories that attempt to explain how our universe works, at the macro level, at the micro-level, and at our level. Theories are not immutable truths. Theories are approximations and they are provisional. It has been said that the attributes of a good theory are [1] that it interprets and explains something more or better than what was previously known and [2] that it predicts what that thing will do more accurately than previous theories.

Newton’s theories about gravity were pretty good. The math equations made fairly good predictions and the explanations seemed to cover a lot of different situations.

Einstein’s theories of relativity were better than Newton’s because his equations made better predictions over longer distances (light from a distant star and time dilation from different relative speeds). Einstein’s explanations seemed counter-intuitive, but they explained more phenomena (except for the micro-level); however, Einstein’s math breaks down where black holes, traveling faster than the speed of light, and lengths or times less than a Planck constant are concerned. What that means is that the math equations come up with an answer of infinity in those situations, and there are no infinities in the physical universe.

Quantum theories were better than Einstein’s theories at the micro-level where gravitational forces don’t seem to work and discovered particles more fundamental than protons and neutrons (quarks and bosons). Schrödinger’s and others’ equations predicted the behavior of quantum particles more accurately than any previous theories. The problem with quantum theories is in the interpretation and explanation of what’s going on at the quantum level. According to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, we can’t know both the position and the momentum of a particle with absolute precision. The more accurately we know the one, the less accurately we know the other. We can only predict where a particle is or will be, statistically. The math deals with the probability waves of particles, rather than the particles themselves.

Many of the explanations of quantum theories have been so outlandish (objects can be in two places at the same time, coherence, consciousness causing collapse, entanglement, cats being both dead and alive depending on whether we saw it or not, and a new universe generated for each particle state) that many quantum physicists would prefer to just stick to the math predictions and leave the explanations to someone else.

The Holy Grail of physics would be a Theory of Everything that would tie quantum theories together with the theory of relativity. String Theory has made a valiant attempt at that but, so far, no cigar. String Theory’s explanations are far less outlandish than quantum theories, but they don’t predict anything, and they haven’t even generated any testable hypotheses.

Oh yes, another attribute of a good theory is that it is falsifiable. That means it can be reliably tested (and the test can be repeated over and over, producing the same results each time) and proven true or false.

I believe that once we understand how the universe really works, our explanations of it will be more rational than they are today.

We live in interesting times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.