Hi John,

On 1/25/2012 11:57 PM, John Clark wrote:

On Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM, Stephen P. King <stephe...@charter.net <mailto:stephe...@charter.net>> wrote:

Stephen P. King <stephe...@charter.net <mailto:stephe...@charter.net>> Wrote:

    >  A "constant" that Einstein himself called the "greatest mistake of
    his life". The problem is that one can add an arbitrary number of such
    scalar field terms to one's field equations. Frankly IMHO, it is more
    "something from nothing" nonsense.

Yes, it amounted to a repulsive effect that came from space itself, and
you can set that constant to anything and mathematically the field
equations of General Relativity would still work. Originally  Einstein
saw no physical reason for that additional complication so he set it to
zero. But then he noticed that if it was zero the universe could not be
stable, it must be expanding or contracting; at the time everybody
including Einstein thought the universe was stable so he set it to a non
zero value and the cosmological constant was born. However just a few
years later Hubble found that the universe was expanding, so Einstein
thought the cosmological constant no longer had a purpose and said that
changing it from zero was the greatest mistake of his life.

Interesting. That is not quite the the story that I recall from Abraham Pais' biography of Einstein, but I might be misremembering.

In act 2 people working with quantum mechanics found that empty space
should indeed have a repulsive effect, but the numbers were huge,
gigantic astronomical, so large that the universe would blow itself
apart in far far less than a billionth of a nanosecond. This was clearly
a nonsensical result but most felt that once a quantum theory of gravity
was discovered a way would be found to cancel this out and the true
value of the cosmological constant would be zero.

In act 3 just a few years ago it was observed that the universe is was
not just expanding but accelerating, so now theoreticians must find a
way to cancel out, not the entire cosmological constant, but the vastly
more difficult task of canceling it all out EXCEPT for one part in
10^120. There are only about 10^90 atoms in the observable universe.

 John K Clark
And it is this amazing pin-point cancellation that is required to make the CC idea work that makes it even more suspect, IMHO. Perhaps the simple answer is that the mass-energy associated with the vacuum is purely off-shell and virtual and does *not* act as a gravitational source. Perhaps that 1 in 10^120 is a second or third order effect from something else or perhaps there are no primitive scalar fields at all. I have looked very hard at this question and so far have not found a single observed effect that gives evidence that virtual particles, or vacuum fluctuations or whatever one wishes to call them have any mass effects. What we do find evidence of is electromagnetic effects, but no mass effects. But this is getting away from the point that I am trying to make, finite systems subject to quantum mechanics have finite abilities to resolve, transform, receive and transmit information. Does this not have an effect on the world that we observe? Could it be that the finiteness we observe is merely the result of this constraint and *not* an objective 3p aspect of the universe? If my hunch is true, this idea would go a long way in solving many riddles of cosmology. For one thing we would not have to deal with all that "what caused the universe to Bang" in the first place. We would get the "perfect cosmological principle <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfect_Cosmological_Principle>" as a guide to proceed: The universe looks about the same to an average observer no mater where or when they find themselves. The average observer will always find itself in the center of a finite universe that has an event horizon in its extremal past.



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