Roger Eugene Hill
The life, career, scientific and spiritual insights of a physicist plus a few excursions into Complexity Science and Art.


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The Non-local Vacuum: A Framework for New Physics Beyond the Standard Models.
Popular Summary of the Non-local Vacuum Paper

The discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) in 1964 provided experimental evidence that the spacetime of our observable universe began with the event known as the big bang. Einstein’s theory of General Relativity (GR), that has very successfully explained what we observe about the expansion of classical spacetime, assumes that spacetime, and therefore time, emerged from a single point known as the singularity. This assumption leads to two problems that remain to be resolved.

The first is known as the “cosmological constant problem” and stems from the fact that the expansion of the universe from zero to classical sizes had to have passed through the quantum world existing at the smallest length scale (the Planck scale) of about 10-35 m. According to quantum theory, quantum fields have their minimum energy value within the vacuum. Quanta at the Planck scale would have the highest possible energy density value of about 10123 GeV/m3 (1 GeV is approximately the energy equivalent of the mass of a single Hydrogen atom.). According to GR, the universe has no center so that the singularity, the big bang and the vacuum exist everywhere throughout the universe. But the measured energy density of the universe is about 5 GeV/m3. So, the problem (also known as the “vacuum catastrophe” problem) is: “How can the omnipresent vacuum have an energy density more than 120 orders of magnitude larger than the universe without affecting gravity and disrupting the expansion of the universe?”

The second problem relates to the observed homogeneity of the CMB. The observations indicate that the radiating material producing the CMB had to be in communication long enough to achieve significant bulk uniformity before the radiation began. This would not be possible if the material was emanating from a point source at a more or less constant rate. This problem has been addressed by the theory of cosmic inflation that postulates an initial very rapid expansion before normal (GR) expansion began. But a problem remains in that the mechanisms that could have driven inflation have not yet been identified.

A third problem has recently arisen because of the statistically significant difference (by > 4σ) between two measurements of the Hubble constant that measures the rate of expansion of spacetime. One measurement (by the Planck collaboration) is based on features of the CMB indicative of conditions in the early universe and the other measurement (by the SH0ES team) is derived from astronomical observations made by the Hubble Telescope that are representative of conditions in the late time universe. Both teams stand by the uncertainties attached to their measurements which has led to what is called the Hubble tension. The standard (ΛCDM) model of cosmology, has no explanation for why the expansion of the universe has changed, much less, accelerated over cosmological time. The discrepancy between the two measurements was headlined in the March, 2020, edition of Scientific American as "A Cosmic Crisis"

This paper proposes a model of cosmology that provides a framework that: eliminates the “cosmological constant problem”; provides a mechanism explaining the existence and magnitude of cosmic inflation; and, provides a plausible explanation for how both measurements of the Hubble constant could be correct. The model also provides room for the physical existence of a non-local reality (a region without time/causality) that would explain the paradox of “spooky action at a distance” demonstrated to exist in recent experiments on quantum entanglement.

The basis of this framework (I call the Horizon Model) is that the big bang is not a naked singularity but represents the opening of a white hole and that time and local reality emerges not from the singularity itself but from the expanding big bang event horizon surrounding it. The key assumption is that the interior of the white hole is the reality of non-local vacuum - a region of pure probability filled with entangled Planck sized binary qubits. The separability of the indestructible qubits could give rise to 3-D space but the source of 4-D spacetime (gravity) and matter/energy are the quantized bits of the event (vacuum) horizon.

In this picture all quantum fields have their zero-point energies and quantum mechanics gains its time-dependence on the vacuum horizon. Some of the precedent ideas relevant to this model are discussed in the paper. The paper identifies several experiments that could potentially falsify the Model.

My colleague Richard A. Muller (we were graduate students at U.C. Berkeley at about the same time) has written a beautiful and thought provoking book on NOW: The Physics of Time in which he asks about the nature of "Now". The Horizon Model (HM) would say that "Now" is a quantum bit on the vacuum horizon where cosmological (past) time ends and local time begins. This quantum has a physical size (~10-26 m) and a time uncertainty of (~10-35 s). This quantum intervention that HM inserts between the past and the future would certainly challenge the philosophy of determinism.

Click here to view the PDF of an abridged version of the paper. The availability of the full version is pending its acceptance by the arXiv pre-print server.
REH 9/17/2021.






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