Registered: Oct 2003
Might the CMB drive a universal clock?
One of the problems in postulating that the physical universe as revealed by science might at some fundamental level be a massively parallel, discrete, simple process is the appearance that time progresses at a consistent rate everywhere, or at least does so after relativistic corrections.
But the data from recently much more precise surveys of the cosmic microwave backqround (CMB) gives a couple of data points that fit surprisingly, which also by their nature means they must have fit similarly ever since the decoupling (400,000 years after the big bang when the formation of neutral hydrogen provided transparent passage for the CMB photons, then as light at 2,900°K and now Hubble-expanded into microwaves at 2.7°K).
Those measured data points give the corresponding peak wavelength of the CMB blackbody spectrum of 0.2 cm and the density of CMB photons of 400 per cubic cm. (They are apparently known to even greater accuracy but that isn't important here.)
That wavelength can be taken as implying that you cannot know the position of an individual photon with greater accuracy, save arguably for the moment it interacts as a single quantum which may appear to have had a more precise position.
But quantum uncertainty can make it just as easy to think of each CMB photon as a disbursed (0.2 cm) perturbation and to realise that there would then be photons everywhere all of the time. (There are obviously also a lot of other photons inside the otherwise negligible volume occupied by stars or even solid matter where the CMB might be excluded.)
While the average CMB frequency is around 1.5 x 10^11 Hertz, being a (near) black body spectrum there are a range of frequencies always passing through, obviously 1.5 x 10^11 per second of them in any 0.0025 cubic cm.
From there, given appreciation of interference effects as a source of freqency multiplication, it does not take too much imagination to see the possibility that the hypothesised discrete microstructure really does have a universal clock signal available that might not require anything more than local stabilisation.
In an area where measurements typically have huge orders of magnitude, the really interesting thing is that this conception of disbursed photons fills the volume of space almost exactly once, even though there is nothing in the standard model which would suggest any fundamental reason for such a correspondence. Photons don't suffer fermion exclusion.
Now all we need to do here is find a toy (model) system that we can emulate on a computer which demonstrates the possibility and one more obstacle to the discrete view falls over. Of course that is a lot easier said than done.
Complex Systems Analyst
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