” No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory , you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory. On the other hand, you can disprove the theory by finding even a single observation that disagrees with the prediction of the theory” – Stephen Hawking in the Brief History of Time
That’s theoretical physics.It is a branch of science (physics) where one observes a natural phenomenon and then applies the current knowledge of mathematics and known properties of physical objects to explain (the natural phenomenon). To make such astute observations one has to be not just at the cutting edge of present day science but also have the rare ability of creative imagination.
In contrast, experimental physics is where experiment tools are used to test or recreate these observed phenomenon.
So if a theoretical phenomenon can be recreated and can hold true in an experimental environment it results in a mainstream science theory and the advancement of science. But many theories of theoretical physics can never be recreated in experimental models ( at least not at present ) and therefore just remain at the theoretical levels. Some of these present such exciting and imaginative prospects that they become exceeding popular and capture the attention of most of the scientific world.
One such truly captivating model is the ‘Big Bang theory’ of the origin of the universe. Edward Hubble , after whom the Hubble space telescope was named observed that the stars and the galaxies are all moving away from us and each other or the whole universe appears to be expanding. It was but natural to conclude that once in the past, the stars and galaxies would have ‘theoretically’ been very close to each other. Mathematical calculations were applied to our existing knowledge about the velocity of light and moving objects to find out the speed at which they are moving away from each other. Moving back from there it was estimated that when in the past would they have been close-together, and thus there comes by mathematical calculations a time when all the stars and galaxies were just an infinitely dense composite mass of infinitely small volume.That was a moment of ‘singularity’ where this mass would suddenly disintegrate and start expanding.
This singularity was called the Big Bang !!
But wait, where in total ’emptiness’ did this infinitely dense mass exist, what was it filled with before the big bang and what are the limits of this vast space and then, what’s beyond ? The theory cannot conceptualize the answers to these questions and very soon after the Big Bang theory, Hawking himself was able to observe larges areas in space which were not expanding !
Now we know that it may not be a truly expanding universe, or it may be expanding in parts, obviously because we have made observations contrary to the previously imagined expanding universe !
Naturally one is tempted to look elsewhere, for it would be but naive to assume that no one prior to our current scientists was ever troubled by the questions the magnificent night sky poses.
It was then that I stumbled over the opening background score of the TV series – “Discovery Of India” , most of us would remember the haunting music played every Sunday noon…
सृष्टि से पहिले सत्य नहीं था असत्य भी नहीं
अंतरिक्ष भी नहीं आकाश भी नहीं
छिपा था क्या , कँहा ,किसने ढाका था उस पल को
अगम अटल जल भी कहा था।
सृष्टि का कौन है कर्ता , कर्ता है यह व अकर्ता
ऊँचे आकाश में रहता , सदा अध्यक्ष बना रहता
वही सच मुच में जानता या नहीं भी जानता
है किसी को नहीं पता ,नहीं पता,नहीं है पता नहीं है पता।
These are the first and the seventh shlokas from the Nasadiya Suktam of Rig Veda (Book 10 Hymn 129) They are perhaps the most famous shlokas of the Rig Veda because they are interpreted to be presenting a theory about the creation of our universe. There are several translations available of the shlokas, and differences about its actual meaning but the poetic mastery of the words is truly unparalleled.
(First image sent from NASAs planet hunter satellite )
Before creation there was no truth, there were no lies either
There was no sky nor the stars beyond
What was hidden ? Where ? Who was hiding it ?
At that time there was no unfathomable ocean also (1)
Neither death nor immortality was there
And there was neither day nor night
But for that breathless one breathing on its own
There was nothing else, surely nothing (2)
It was darkness concealed in darkness
And an uninterrupted continuum of fluid
Out came in material form and shape
That one lying deep inside, on it’s own intent (3)
Who really knows, who can declare
When it started or where form
And where will the creation end ?
Seekers and sought entered later –
And so who knows when all this manifested (6)
That one, out of which creation came
May hold the reins or not,
Perceiving all from above, That one alone
Knows the beginning, may not know too (7)
This is one of the translations on the internet, by Rayalu
Vishwanadha. Surely one can’t do enough justice to the shlokas
by quoting them in parts and hardly any translation matches the
ingenuity of the original but what makes these shlokas unique is
that they presented a picture beyond the Big Bang, almost
identical to the present theory of creation on the universe and
they also question the creator himself !
One of the shlokas that I found most striking is the third one
which states ‘ out came material form and shape of an
uninterrupted continuum of fluid..on its own intent’ . The
‘continuum flow’ contradicts the idea of a singular ‘big bang’ in
empty space and fascinating states the intent to be creation’s
The other equally awesome and enigmatic shloka is the
seventh one – ‘out of which creation came may hold the reins or
not ! ..that one alone knows the beginning –may not know
too !!” it says that the all prevailing all controlling creator may
be the only one knowing the secrets of the beginning of the
universe or maybe even He does not know about it. It is but
natural that the sought and the seeker appear only once the
creation has already happened !
Are these the vivid imaginations of a learned poet or are they
theories derived from meticulous observations made by brilliant
scientists of a different era ?
Our Vedas make a clear distinction between the ‘kavi’ the poet
and the ‘manasi’ the mind thinker. The kavi represents the
‘divine supra-intellectual knowledge’ which by direct vision and
illumination sees the reality, the principles and the form of things
in their true relations, while the manasi is the labouring
mentality which works from the divided consciousness through
the possibilities of things downward to the actual manifestation
in form and then upward to their reality in the self-existent
universe or ‘Brahmaan’ ! Essentially the poet and the scientist
strive to reach the same goal but take different routes.
Coming back,the most recent views our scientists have on the origin of universe are –
” we are told it (the big bang) was big,yet it was probably unimaginably small. We are told there was a bang,yet there was apparently no sound, and no space for anything to explode into. Some think it might have happened multiple times…..In this view, the essence of space and time can exist beyond the confines of the cosmos , but in a state of ‘roiling chaos’ we would not recognize. The Big bang is not a hard and fast beginning but a moment of profound transformation – one quite different from anything most of us could have imagined “—
John Cartwright, New scientist- 2018.
Compare ‘profound transformation -state of roiling chaos’ to ‘out came material form and shape of an uninterrupted continuum of fluid …on it’s own intent’ !! Uncanny similarity ? Well certainly the two descriptions deserve a second reading.
Interestingly, the Nataraja statue installed at the CERN states –
“Lord Shiva danced the universe into existence; he motivates it and he will eventually extinguish it ” .
About Time travel from Revati to Stephen Hawking in Part 3