Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Quantum version of Expanding Earth theory

TGD predicts that cosmic expansion at the level of individual astrophysical systems does not take place continuously as in classical gravitation but through discrete quantum phase transitions increasing gravitational Planck constant and thus various quantum length and time scales. The reason would be that stationary quantum states for dark matter in astrophysical length scales cannot expand. One would have the analog of atomic physics in cosmic scales. Increases of hbar by a power of two are favored in these transitions but also other scalings are possible.

This has quite far reaching implications.

  1. These periods have a highly unique description in terms of a critical cosmology for the expanding space-time sheet. The expansion is accelerating. The accelerating cosmic expansion can be assigned to this kind of phase transition in some length scale (TGD Universe is fractal). There is no need to introduce cosmological constant and dark energy would be actually dark matter.

  2. The recently observed void which has same size of about 108 light years as large voids having galaxies near their boundaries but having an age which is much higher than that of the large voids, would represent one example of jerk-wise expansion.

  3. This picture applies also to solar system and planets might be perhaps seen as having once been parts of a more or less connected system, the primordial Sun. The Bohr orbits for inner and outer planets correspond to gravitational Planck constant which is 5 times larger for outer planets. This suggests that the space-time sheet of outer planets has suffered a phase transition increasing the size scale by a factor of 5. Earth can be regarded either as n=1 orbit for Planck constant associated with outer planets or n= 5 orbit for inner planetary system. This might have something to do with the very special position of Earth in planetary system. One could even consider the possibility that both orbits are present as dark matter structures. The phase transition would also explain why n=1 and n=2 Bohr orbits are absent and one only n=3,4, and 5 are present.

  4. Also planets should have experienced this kind of phase transitions increasing the radius: the increase by a factor two would be the simplest situation.

The obvious question - that I did not ask - is whether this kind of phase transition might have occurred for Earth and led from a completely granite covered Earth -Pangeia without seas- to the recent Earth. Neither it did not occur to me to check whether there is any support for a rapid expansion of Earth during some period of its history.

Situation changed when my son Paavo visited me last Saturday and told me about a Youtube video by Neal Adams, an American comic book and commercial artist who has also produced animations for geologists. We looked the amazing video a couple of times and I looked it again yesterday. The video is very impressive (no wonder!) but in the lack of references skeptic probably cannot avoid the feeling that Neal Adams might use his highly developed animation skills to cheat you. I found also a polemic article of Adams but again the references were lacking. Perhaps the reason of polemic tone was that the concrete animation models make the expanding Earth hypothesis very convincing but geologists dare not consider seriously arguments by a layman without a formal academic background.

1. The claims of Adams

The basic claims of Adams were following.

  1. The radius of Earth has increased during last 185 million years (dinosaurs appeared for about 230 million years ago) by about factor 2. If this is assumed all continents have formed at that time a single super-continent, Pangeia, filling the entire Earth surface rather than only 1/4 of it since the total area would have grown by a factor of 4. The basic argument was that it is very difficult to imagine Earth with 1/4 of surface containing granite and 3/4 covered by basalt. If the initial situation was covering by mere granite -as would look natural- it is very difficult for a believer in thermodynamics to imagine how the granite would have gathered to a single connected continent.

  2. Adams claims that Earth has grown by keeping its density constant, rather than expanded, so that the mass of Earth has grown linearly with radius. Gravitational acceleration would have thus doubled and could provide a partial explanation for the disappearance of dinosaurs: it is difficult to cope in evolving environment when you get slower all the time.

  3. Most of the sea floor is very young and the areas covered by the youngest basalt are the largest ones. This Adams interprets this by saying that the expansion of Earth is accelerating. The alternative interpretation is that the flow rate of the magma slows down as it recedes from the ridge where it erupts. The upper bound of 185 million years for the age of sea floor requires that the expansion period - if it is already over - lasted about 185 million years after which the flow increasing the area of the sea floor transformed to a convective flow with subduction so that the area is not increasing anymore.

  4. The fact that the continents fit together -not only at the Atlantic side - but also at the Pacific side gives strong support for the idea that the entire planet was once covered by the super-continent. After the emergence of subduction theory this evidence as been dismissed: sounds very odd to me. It seems that geologists are doing "Wegeners" again.

  5. I am not sure whether Adams mentions this objection. Subduction only occurs on the other side of the subduction zone so that the other side should show evidence of being much older in the case that oceanic subduction zones are in question. This is definitely not the case. This is explained in plate tectonics as a change of the subduction direction. My explanation would be that by the symmetry of the situation both oceanic plates bend down so that this would represent new type of boundary not assumed in the tectonic plate theory.

  6. As a master visualizer Adams notices that Africa and South-America do not actually fit together in absence of expansion unless one assumes that these continents have suffered a deformation. Continents are not easily deformable stuff. The assumption of expansion implies a perfect fit of all continents without deformation.

Knowing that the devil is in the details, I must admit that some of these arguments look rather convincing to me and what I learned from Wikipedia articles supports this picture.

2. The critic of Adams of the subduction mechanism

The prevailing tectonic plate theory has been compared to the Copernican revolution in geology. The theory explains the young age of the seafloor in terms of the decomposition of the litosphere to tectonic plates and the convective flow of magma to which oceanic tectonic plates participate. The magma emerges from the crests of the mid ocean ridges representing a boundary of two plates and leads to the expansion of sea floor. The variations of the polarity of Earth's magnetic field coded in sea floor provide a strong support for the hypothesis that magma emerges from the crests.

The flow back to would take place at so called oceanic trenches near continents which represent the deepest parts of ocean. This process is known as subduction. In subduction oceanic tectonic plate bends and penetrates below the continental tectonic plate, the material in the oceanic plate gets denser and sinks into the magma. In this manner the oceanic tectonic plate suffers a metamorphosis returning back to the magma: everything which comes from Earth's interior returns back. Subduction mechanism explains elegantly formation of mountains (orogeny), earth quake zones, and associated zones of volcanic activity.

Adams is very polemic about the notion of subduction, in particular about the assumption that it generates steady convective cycle. The basic objections of Adams against subduction are following.

  1. There are not enough subduction zones to allow a steady situation. According to Adams, the situation resembles that for a flow in a tube which becomes narrower. In a steady situation the flow should accelerate as it approaches subduction zones rather than slow down. Subduction zones should be surrounded by large areas of sea floor with constant age. Just the opposite is suggested by the fact that the youngest portion of sea-floor near the ridges is largest. The presence of zones at which both ocean plates bend down could improve the situation. Also jamming of the flow could occur so that the thickness of oceanic plate increases with the distance from the eruption ridge. Jamming could increase also the density of the oceanic plate and thus the effectiveness of subduction.

  2. There is no clear evidence that subduction has occurred at other planets. The usual defense is that the presence of sea is essential for the subduction mechanism.

  3. One can also wonder what is the mechanism that led to the formation of single super continent Pangeia covering 1/4 of Earth's surface. How probable the gathering of all separate continents to form single cluster is? The later events would suggest that just the opposite should have occurred from the beginning.

3. Expanding Earth theories are not new

After I had decided to check the claims of Adams, the first thing that I learned is that Expanding Earth theory, whose existence Adams actually mentions, is by no means new. There are actually many of them.

The general reason why these theories were rejected by the main stream community was the absence of a convincing physical mechanism of expansion or of growth in which the density of Earth remains constant.

  1. 1888 Yarkovski postulated some sort of aether absorbed by Earth and transforming to chemical elements (TGD version of aether could be dark matter). 1909 Mantovani postulated thermal expansion but no growth of the Earth's mass.

  2. Paul Dirac's idea about changing Planck constant led Pascual Jordan in 1964 to a modification of general relativity predicting slow expansion of planets. The recent measurement of the gravitational constant imply that the upper bound for the relative change of gravitational constant is 10 time too small to produce large enough rate of expansion. Also many other theories have been proposed but they are in general conflict with modern physics.

  3. The most modern version of Expanding Earth theory is by Australian geologist Samuel W. Carey. He calculated that in Cambrian period (about 500 million years ago) all continents were stuck together and covered the entire Earth. Deep seas began to evolve then.

4. Summary of TGD based theory of Expanding Earth

TGD based model differs from the tectonic plate model but allows subduction which cannot imply considerable back flow of magma. Let us sum up the basic assumptions and implications.

  1. The expansion is due to a quantum phase transition increasing the value of gravitational Planck constant and forced by the cosmic expansion in the average sense.

  2. Tectonic plates do not participate to the expansion and therefore new plate must be formed and the flow of magma from the crests of mid ocean ridges is needed. The decomposition of a single plate covering the entire planet to plates to create the mid ocean ridges is necessary for the generation of new tectonic plate. The decomposition into tectonic plates is thus prediction rather than assumption.

  3. The expansion forced the decomposition of Pangeia super-continent covering entire Earth for about 530 million years ago to split into tectonic plates which began to recede as new non-expanding tectonic plate was generated at the ridges creating expanding sea floor. The initiation of the phase transition generated formation of deep seas.

  4. The eruption of plasma from the crests of ocean ridges generated oceanic tectonic plates which did not participate to the expansion by density reduction but by growing in size. This led to a reduction of density in the interior of the Earth roughly by a factor 1/8. From the upper bound for the age of the seafloor one can conclude that the period lasted for about 185 million years after which it transformed to convective flow in which the material returned back to the Earth interior. Subduction at continent-ocean floor boundaries and downwards double bending of tectonic plates at the boundaries between two ocean floors were the mechanisms. Thus tectonic plate theory would be more or less the correct description for the recent situation.

  5. One can consider the possibility that the subducted tectonic plate does not transform to magma but is fused to the tectonic layer below continent so that it grows to an iceberg like structure. This need not lead to a loss of the successful predictions of plate tectonics explaining the generation of mountains, earthquake zones, zones of volcanic activity, etc...

  6. From the video of Adams it becomes clear that the tectonic flow is East-West asymmetric in the sense that the western side is more irregular at large distances from the ocean ridge at the western side. If the magma rotates with a slightly lower velocity than the surface of Earth (like liquid in a rotating vessel), the erupting magma would rotate slightly slower than the tectonic plate and asymmetry would be generated.

  7. If the planet has not experienced a phase transition increasing the value of Planck constant, there is no need for the decomposition to tectonic plates and one can understand why there is no clear evidence for tectonic plates and subduction in other planets. The conductive flow of magma could occur below this plate and remain invisible.

The biological implications might provide a possibility to test the hypothesis.
  1. Great steps of progress in biological evolution are associated with catastrophic geological events generating new evolutionary pressures forcing new solutions to cope in the new situation. Cambrian explosion indeed occurred about 530 years ago (the book Wonderful Life of Stephen Gould explains this revolution in detail) and led to the emergence of multicellular creatures, and generated huge number of new life forms living in seas. Later most of them suffered extinction: large number of phylae and groups emerged which are not present nowadays.

    Thus Cambrian explosion is completely exceptional as compared to all other dramatic events in the evolution in the sense that it created something totally new rather than only making more complex something which already existed. Gould also emphasizes the failure to identify any great change in the environment as a fundamental puzzle of Cambrian explosion. Cambrian explosion is also regarded in many quantum theories of consciousness (including TGD) as a revolution in the evolution of consciousness: for instance, micro-tubuli emerged at this time. The periods of expansion might be necessary for the emergence of multicellular life forms on planets and the fact that they unavoidably occur sooner or later suggests that also life develops unavoidably.

  2. TGD predicts a decrease of the surface gravity by a factor 1/4 during this period. The reduction of the surface gravity would have naturally led to the emergence of dinosaurs 230 million years ago as a response coming 45 million years after the accelerated expansion ceased. Other reasons led then to the decline and eventual catastrophic disappearance of the dinosaurs. The reduction of gravity might have had some gradually increasing effects on the shape of organisms also at microscopic level and manifest itself in the evolution of genome during expansion period.

  3. A possibly testable prediction following from angular momentum conservation (ωR2= constant) is that the duration of day has increased gradually and was four times shorter during the pre-Cambrian era. For instance, genetically coded bio-clocks of simple organisms during the expansion period could have followed the increase of the length of day with certain lag or failed to follow it completely. The simplest known circadian clock is that of the prokaryotic cyanobacteria. Recent research has demonstrated that the circadian clock of Synechococcus elongatus can be reconstituted in vitro with just the three proteins of their central oscillator. This clock has been shown to sustain a 22 hour rhythm over several days upon the addition of ATP: the rhythm is indeed faster than the circadian rhythm. For humans the average innate circadian rhythm is however 24 hours 11 minutes and thus conforms with the fact that human genome has evolved much later than the expansion ceased.

  4. Addition: My son told that scientists have found a fossil of a sea scorpion with size of 2.5 meters which has lived for about 10 million years for 400 million years ago in Germany (see also the article in Biology Letters). The finding would conform nicely with the much smaller value of surface gravity at that time. Also the emergence of trees could be understood in terms of a gradual growth of the maximum plant size as the surface gravity was reduced. The fact that the oldest known tree fossil is 385 million years old conforms with this picture.

5. Did intra-terrestrial life burst to the surface of Earth during Cambrian expansion?

Intra-terrestrial hypothesis is one of the craziest TGD inspired ideas about the evolution of life and it is quite possible that in its strongest form the hypothesis is unrealistic. One can however try to find what one obtains from the combination of the IT hypothesis with the idea of pre-Cambrian granite Earth. Could the harsh pre-Cambrian conditions have allowed only intra-terrestrial multicellular life? Could the Cambrian explosion correspond to the moment of birth for this life in the very concrete sense that the magma flow brought it into the day-light?

  1. Gould emphasizes the mysterious fact that very many life forms of Cambrian explosion looked like final products of a long evolutionary process. Could the eruption of magma from the Earth interior have induced a burst of intra-terrestrial life forms to the Earth's surface? This might make sense: the life forms living at the bottom of sea do not need direct solar light so that they could have had intra-terrestrial origin. It is quite possible that Earth's mantle contained low temperature water pockets, where the complex life forms might have evolved in an environment shielded from meteoric bombardment and UV radiation.

  2. Sea water is salty (for why this is the case see this). It is often claimed that the average salt concentration inside cell is that of the primordial sea: I do not know whether this claim can be really justified. If the claim is true, the cellular salt concentration should reflect the salt concentration of the water inside the pockets. The water inside water pockets could have been salty due to the diffusion of the salt from ground but need not have been same as that for the ocean water (higher than for cell interior and for obvious reasons). Indeed, the water in the underground reservoirs in arid regions such as Sahara is salty, which is the reason for why agriculture is absent in these regions. Note also that the cells of marine invertebrates are osmoconformers able to cope with the changing salinity of the environment so that the Cambrian revolutionaries could have survived the change in the salt concentration of environment.

  3. What applies to Earth should apply also to other similar planets and Mars is very similar to Earth. The radius is .533 times that for Earth so that after quantum leap doubling the radius and thus Schumann frequency scale (7.8 Hz would be the lowest Schumann frequency) would be essentially same as for Earth now. Mass is .131 times that for Earth so that surface gravity would be .532 of that for Earth now and would be reduced to .131 meaning quite big dinosaurs! We have learned that Mars probably contains large water reservoirs in it's interior and that there is an un-identified source of methane gas usually assigned with the presence of life. Could it be that Mother Mars is pregnant and just waiting for the great quantum leap when it starts to expand and gives rise to a birth of multicellular life forms. Or expressing freely how Bible describes the moment of birth: in the beginning there was only darkness and water and then God said: Let the light come!

To sum up, TGD would provide only the long sought mechanism of expansion and a possible connection with the biological evolution. It would be indeed fascinating if Planck constant changing quantum phase transitions in planetary scale would have profoundly affected the biosphere.

For more details see the chapter Quantum Astrophysics of "Classical Physics in Many-Sheeted Spacetime".


At 9:47 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Hello Matti,
Thank you for your very interesting and calm analysis. I am an engineer in Michigan, USA with a fascination for evolution; most especially the evolution of the genome. I ran across Neal Adams theory last year and was really struck by it. I'm not a scientist of any sort, but It really seemed like a more intuitive explanation. Your exploration filled in some gaps and possibilities. Look forward to reading more on your website.
Best regards,

At 10:54 PM, Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Dear Jonathan,

we seemingly share some interests.

Actually the theory of Adams is not new: it is represented as various versions long time ago. Basic difficulties have been finding physical mechanism causing the expansion.

Wikipedia gives information about this ("Expanding Earth Theory").

Recenly I am working with DNA as topological quantum computer hypothesis (most recent postings) and leads to really fascinating and detailed view about what life is at the level of fundamental physics.



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