Boundaries and existence in the Infinite Universe

PSI Blog 20170705 Boundaries and existence in the Infinite Universe

In response to George Coyne, who wrote: 'In order for anything to exist it has to have boundaries,' henk wrote:

“Does a cloud have a boundary and if yes, how to describe that? I can see a boundary from the ground but not flying in the clouds.”

[GB: Boundaries exist because of what we describe in the Ninth Assumption of Science, relativism (All things have characteristics that make them similar to all other things as well as characteristics that make them dissimilar to all other things). Microcosmic boundaries consist of submicrocosms, each of which contains subsubmicrocosms ad infinitum. The macrocosm that surrounds each microcosm also consists of “submicrocosms, each of which contains subsubmicrocosms ad infinitum.” As you point out in your cloud example, boundaries are not absolute even though indeterminists often like to think that they are. A cloud, of course, has a boundary whether you are able to see it or not. There is a gradual to somewhat gradual transition between the cloud (a microcosm) and its environment (its macrocosm).

You asked how to describe boundaries. I will give examples from earth science. Geologists confront the vagueness in boundaries anytime they deal with nature directly. However, engineers, working at their drawings in the office, sometimes consider boundaries to be absolute. This can be a problem in the assessment of earthquake fault hazard. I once saw a fault map drawn by an engineer. It was a series of straight lines instead of having the curves, en echelon segments, slight changes in strike, and other vagaries that nature provides.

Another example:

The evolution of soils results in layers useful for determining their ages. However, soil layers are notorious for sometimes having vague boundaries that torment beginning students. This is how we describe boundary thickness in soil science: 


 henk: So, if the universe exists as a thing it must have boundaries? Why?

[GB: Of course, your very astute question involves the two opposing fundamental assumptions one can make about the universe: 1) that it is finite or 2) that it is infinite.

If the universe was finite, then like all things, it would have xyz dimensions and would have a beginning and an ending, as assumed in the Big Bang Theory.

If the universe was infinite, it would have different rules:

1.    It would have no dimensions.
2.    It would have no boundaries.
3.    It would have neither beginning nor end.

A finite object has a necessary boundary because it is a microcosm, an xyz portion of the Infinite Universe surrounded by its macrocosm (the rest of the universe). The boundary is formed by the interactions between the submicrocosms within and without as in your cloud example. A clearer example would be a helium balloon, which has a more definite boundary. It holds its shape as long as the pressure inside is similar to the pressure outside.

A microcosmic boundary is determined by deterrence—collisions with supermicrocosms in the macrocosm. It is what happens when Newton’s First Law of Motion operates in the Infinite Universe. All microcosms traveling under their own inertia eventually collide with one or more microcosms—such is the boundary. As an aside, we often speak of “determinism,” which speaks of the things that lead to deterrence, not necessarily of whether we can actually “determine” anything. In other words, henk, we have boundaries because the universe is infinite. In the Infinite Universe there is no place that a microcosm could go without running into another microcosm, which temporarily slows its further motion, constituting a boundary. The Infinite Universe “itself” has no such boundaries because it is endless, continuing on forever. The perfectly empty space of the idealist cannot exist and thus nonexistence is impossible.]


George Coyne said...

Thanks to Glenn for his assistance in this post.
There is only one requirement for a boundary to exist: that which is outside of it must differ from what is within the object. For example, “cloud” and “not cloud.”
When liquid droplets (of water or various chemicals,) frozen crystals or particles suspended in the atmosphere in close proximity are sufficient in numbers to be noticed by observers, they are described together as one object, which is referred to as a cloud. Each droplet or particle exists by itself, and has discernible boundaries, unlike the cloud whose boundaries are vague. These particles or droplets, when grouped together to form a cloud, are an excellent example of a microcosm. The particles or droplets are the submicrocosms. These contain sub-submicrocosms of H2O.

George Coyne said...

Paul A. Deck of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University wrote an article titled: “Why do clouds always appear to form in distinct clumps? Why isn't there a uniform fog of condensation, especially on windy days when one would expect mixing?” In it he explains why some clouds haves sharp boundaries, while others have diffuse ones. Here is an excerpt: ” Thus, how sharp a cloud boundary appears is a function of how much the cloud air mixes with the clear air environment.” https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-do-clouds-always-appe/

Kim Miller said...

Glenn, wondering if you feel this piece does the concept of boundary conditions of the universe justice / is related to this blog?


Glenn Borchardt said...

Kim: Thanks for the comment and the link. Regressives like these get a lot of press even though they usually make no sense. None ever seem to question the “expanding universe” interpretation. They are stuck with it along with its indeterministic foundation: Einstein’s “Untired Light Theory” (see https://thescientificworldview.blogspot.com/2019/04/why-do-big-bang-theory-and-steady-state.html). Consequently, I try to avoid getting involved in these “How Many Angels can Dance on the Head of a Pin” debates. Those regressive imaginings are more suited to sci-fi and religion than science.

Kim Miller said...

Thanks, Glenn. So I think you are saying that this concept of boundary conditions of the universe is itself a “How Many Angels can Dance on the Head of a Pin” debate? The exact shape of coming from a singularity would not apply if one is not coming from a singularity I guess. Nice math, wrong question?

Glenn Borchardt said...

Yes, yes, and yes. You are correct on all accounts. Remember that nonexistence (perfectly empty space) is an idealization, just like perfectly solid matter. Idealizations do not and cannot exist. So, the infinite universe goes on and on, without end (i.e., a "boundary"). Once you get all your ducks in a row, the boundary question disappears.

Kim Miller said...

Nicely said. Love the site! :D

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks so much!