back to article Results in on why life, the universe and everything exists

It's one of the most difficult questions that human philosophy and science have ever faced: Why are we here? Why is the universe and all that's in it here? The question becomes particularly knotty when one reflects on modern physics and the issue of antimatter. Theory shows that at the creation of the universe, equal amounts …


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  1. Mike Brown

    blind luck then?

    1. Rob Dobs

      Both are as proven as TimeTravel and BigFoot.

      Sure if you insist that things are one way, (without factually proving it first) it can be difficult to explain and rationalize your first statements.

      Universe is pretty simple really.

      Matter in motion

      (No time, no timespace, no antimatter, dark mater 4th dimensions etc.)

      Nothing ages, there is not past, its all just matter moving.

      So far everything that exists pretty easily and simply falls into this explanation.

      The universe can be infinite, and it could be eternal. For all we know there have dozens of cataclysmic explosions off and on for all of time, matter gathers together, makes black hole, black hits other black hole and boom, new galaxy spit out. Rinse and repeat.

      "Universe is growing faster than expected", "not enough matter to account for weight of universe".

      Who ever knew these answers (the correct speed of universal explosions or how much stuff should be in the universe) to begin with. Why can't these scientist just assume there original theory was wrong?

      Gavity, Atoms, pretty proven, repeatable science. I think a lot of this crap is built on a religious like belief that one scientist (Einstein) figured everything out first (he didn't) Yes he was very smart, had great ideas and was right about a lot of principals, but I think our entire education system and scientific discovery has actually in the long run been more damaged by a religious reverence to his THEORIES instead of looking at real facts and scientific data in front of us.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        The Universe cannot be infinite and eternal

        This is quite easy to prove:

        Look up at night. You will notice that the sky is dark.

        If the Universe were infinite and eternal then no matter which direction you looked, you would be looking directly at the surface of a star.

        Thus the night sky could not be dark, it would have to be bright, and therefore, the universe cannot be both infinite in size and eternal.

        This thought experiment has the following results:

        1) The universe could be infinite in size if it is not eternal, as the light from the distant stars might not have reached us yet.

        2) The universe could also be finite and eternal, as then there are only a finite number of stars.

        By using other thought experiments we can prove the universe cannot be finite and eternal, by use of gravity (everything would have collapsed together) and entropy (the stars would have gone out).

        That leaves 1) - Infinite but not eternal. This doesn't seem to make sense as it requires an infinitely large thing to have been created at a defined moment in the past.

        Incidentally, the reason we think dark matter exists is because we think Einstein's theory of gravitation is right - Remember that Newton's theory is identical to Einstein's at low spacial curvature, eg around a planet-sized mass and at a long distance from a star.

        Einstein's theory precisely matches the behaviour of every atomic particle observed in our solar system - it is therefore known to be right.

        However, it's also known to be inaccurate at subatomic scales - there is no religious reverence for Einstein's theory.

        The Standard Model seems to handle subatomic really well, but again doesn't quite work at larger scales.

        So, there are already a lot of scientists trying to find a better description of reality - that's what scientists do!

        1. Rob Dobs

          Speed of light?

          funny, it seems to me that I read a lot of articles challenging many of Einsteins theories (note not proven facts) as being incorrect, anything moving faster than the speed of light is just a recent example.

          Yes the sky is dark, but the less light around the more stars you see. Could be that if not so many things were in the way, we would actually see a sky filled with stars. We don't see any stars during the day, so our closest star seems to interfere with their visible light... huh? You don't think that others stars out there won't interfere with each others light?

          Plus much more obviously there are such things as obstructions... you know.... clouds of gas, solid planets, rocks, we for example has a massive belt of rock around our solar system that would tend to block any light. Who knows how many ex-stars are now black holes (which would block other stars light too BTW) So that's a pretty lame argument against an infinite universe. (Science also seems to have differing non-proven viewpoints about what actually is floating around in the space between space, many scientist are arguing that its not just a pure vacuum.)

          The further apart each star is the more likely that other planets, gas clouds etc could be blocking the light in between, and maybe there are just more black holes than stars?

          Also just because the universe is eternal doesn't mean the stars are... they collapse, explode, and get sucked up by black holes (like we have observed in the universe around us).

          You second argument on gravity is just as lame as one regarding light. Once enough mass is pulled in it creates a black hole, and even light cannot escape, since the gravity is so strong. But there is a tipping point, where the force becomes so great that it breaks gravity and explodes creating new galaxies. Maybe this happens when a black hole reaches a certain size, maybe it happens when two black holes collide together, but its certainly a process that could go on and on forever in constant moving cycle of matter in motion. It didn't by fact just have to happened in the one big bang.

          And ditto for entropy, stars don't just go out, they expel tons of energy and matter in their lifetime, this tends to get collected by large gravitational bodies like black holes, that could eventually explode shooting out new stars.

          Thought experiments are good for direction and philosophy, but they don't produce scientific results like the TV or nuclear bomb.

          Einstein's theories aren't known to be right, as they are not all proven science... that's my main gripe with his current standing...they are assumed to be right, and thus are not challenged. Not trying to knock the guy in general, he was brilliant and gave humanity a lot of great ideas and real science. But when you assume that someone is right, and go chasing the data to prove it, you will not only never find anything (if he is in fact wrong) but you also loose the ability to chance out what really is right.

          My main gripe is with Einsteins beliefs is in a time continuum, I have yet to see any proof of a medium called time. Things move, things move and we can measure them in reference to other objects movements, but nothing is time other than what we call it. Matter is always in motion, but it is just part of one constant now. Time travel will never be possible because the matter that was has moved, and is now something else. (or the same thing, but changed. (We don't "age" in the sense of time, we just get bad at keeping ourselves alive, and eventually can't). Try to give me one example of something that proves "time" exists, that can't be more easily explained as just matter in motion.

          Matter in motion, and until we have reason to think otherwise I see no reason to think its finite or limited in scope. The arguments you have proposed seem entirely unconvincing to me....

          1. Meph

            What is Time?

            You're joking right? Time is simply a man-made construct, used to measure how something changes. To use your analogy, to measure movement.

            If you have no frame of reference, how can you truly understand how something is moving. When you walk from one side of a room to another, do you instantly occupy both locations simultaneously?

            To understand the concept of a time continuum, blend the two concepts. It takes time for you to move from point a to point b, thus at a given point in time, you were at a given position in space. Assume for a moment that you have absolute control over the value for time, you can then move backward (or for that matter forward) in time to view the position and status of said object.

            In short, if time (regardless of what you call it) did not exist, you could hypothesize one of two truths, either nothing would move, or everything would simultaneously occupy every point in space. Neither seems to be particularly desirable.

          2. DRendar

            The theory of relativity DOES NOT say that travelling FASTER than light is impossible.

            It states that the energy required to accelerate TO the speed of light increases to infinity.

            Or in layman's terms - It's impossible to travel AT the speed of light, but there's nothing to say you can't travel faster.

            Of course how you actually get to be faster before travelling AT the speed of light is the tricky bit, and the reason why SciFi references making a JUMP to FTL - i.e. jumping over the light barrier.

          3. Richard 12 Silver badge

            @Rob Dobs

            I'm having a hard time working out if you're being deliberately obtuse, or just don't understand anything you're talking about.

            General Relativity is as proven as it is possible to be - the fact your GPS works, the way Mercury orbits the sun and the way particles accelerate to a high percentage of c in the Large Hadron Collider all match that theory *exactly*.

            It is also known that it doesn't work at very small scales - relativity just doesn't match the way electrons and other subatomic particles behave inside an atom.

            So if you want to replace Einstein's Relativity, then you have to replace it with something that has *exactly the same results* at the scales from atomic to solar system because we *know* it's right for those scales, because when you put in the numbers and compare to measured reality, it's *correct*.

            At the moment, nobody has such an alternative. When somebody comes up with one it will be very exciting!

            Secondly, pretty much everything you've written is either a misunderstanding or due to fuzzy and indeed circular thinking in places.

            BTW, the 'dust in the way' hypothesis was brought up more than a century ago, and is again simple to disprove:

            When light hits the dust, it will slowly warm up, and start to glow (ref. the incandescent lightbulb). Given enough time it will get to an equilibrium temperature as it loses heat at the same rate it gains it.

            As we are giving this dust an infinite amount of time, it will already be at the equilibrium temperature. As we are illuminating it with an infinite number of stars, it will be at the average star surface temperature. Thus the dust in the way will be as bright as an average star.

            One way to account for that would be to postulate that more dust is continually being created from nothing - except that doesn't match what we actually see when we look through our telescopes, and is therefore wrong.

            Entropy is known to increase in all closed systems we've observed. It's rather odd as it's the only scientific theory that defines the direction of time.

            Stars 'burn' fuel. They turn Hydrogen into Helium, releasing energy, and when they run out of hydrogen they continue with other elements. It turns out that when they get to iron they're stuffed because fusing iron absorbs energy. So the nuclear fire stops burning and they slowly cool down.

            Turning iron back into hydrogen in a closed system would mean decreasing the entropy of that system, thus infinite power.

            If you can find a closed system where entropy decreases then congratulations, you've found a perpetual motion machine, which is an infinite power source and we don't have to worry about oil, gas or indeed any fuel ever again.

            - Hint, even the US Patent Office won't accept patents for such machines without a working example.

            Finally, in science "Theory" means it's proven to be true beyond reasonable doubt within a given range of conditions. "Hypothesis" describes an idea that may or may not be true.

            Right now, we have different sets of theories for subatomic and the large, and the crossover in the middle is a bit fuzzy. It seems rather unlikely that really is the final answer, and so we are looking for a better set of theories.

            That Higgs Boson thing is investigating that - whether we find it, and exactly how it behaves if we do find it will decide which of our current 'next generation' hypotheses are right, or if none of them are.

        2. Pet Peeve

          The universe isn't infinite, it is, as Stephen Hawking said, "finite but unbound". There's no limit to how far it can expand, but there's a definite point where the expansion has progressed, i.e. how far the shockwave of the big bang has traveled.

          The short of it is that no matter where you are in the universe, you can't see farther than 13.7 billionish light years, or you'd be looking at something that existed before the universe did.

  2. scub


    Stories like this are always fascinating, but I cant help but think there is something fundamental missing in our corner of the grand scheme. I cant seem to get my head around time, We are told it is not constant in the universe and this I think is a bit of a sticking point. As Douglas Adams pointed out, we are not talking about a trip to the local post office here, its mind boggling the incredible expanse we are trying to deal with here.

    Could it be the case that the + & - annihilation thing is still going on and doesn't always happen in an instant, maybe its the fluctuations in time that's giving rise to matter?

    Does this make sense? Anyone know what Peter Griffin would think?

    On another note, I notice my sister likes balls of glass filled with fancy swirling patterns, dolphins and such, and if you look closely, there are lots of little bubbles in the glass. If you look from a 1/2 metre distance at the glass, the inclusions are pretty easy to map out, but if you put your eye up close and look through the glass, everything seems distorted in a way that makes it difficult to visualise via the curve of the glass and a little light refraction, everything can seem to be 3x out of position when trying to perceive their position and relation to one another. Isn't it the same for us looking out from within the ball and trying to cypher distance`s and relativity of other Stars?

    1. Arrrggghh-otron

      I was thinking exactly the same thing. Particularly at the start of the expansion of the universe would time have been warped at different points in the forming universe?

    2. Yet Another Commentard

      What would Peter Griffin think?

      "well there seems to be an absence of a certain ornithological piece, a headline regarding mass awareness of a certain avian variety" would be my guess.

      1. Isendel Steel

        Have you heard

        yes..yes I have

        1. Rameses Niblick the Third (KKWWMT)
          Thumb Up


    3. Pet Peeve

      doesn't work

      If there was a visible part of the universe that was mostly antimatter, we'd know about it because of antimatter decays into different particles than matter does. If I remember right, the flavors of neutrino are the best case for the universe being mostly matter - we'd be detecting more antineutrinos than we do if there were antimatter stars out there.

      One of the wacky theories I heard about to explain this is that the limit of the solar wind makes a sort of bubble around the solar system, and any antimatter is annhilated in the bow wave before it gets to us. Neutrinos mess that up though, with their nasty habit of almost never interacting with anything. And then there was this David Brin story, "the crystal spheres", which is another attempt to explain the same thing. Great stuff.

  3. IDoNotThinkSo

    Who is to say the whole universe isn't a blind alley.

    Anyway, my guess is that there is a mirror universe running 'backwards' in time where physicists are asking the same question and running the same experiment with their negative protons.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. metaspective
    Thumb Up

    It's simple really...

    ...universes are either anti-matter or matter, like people are male or female.

    Next problem?

    1. hitmouse
      Paris Hilton

      This is a hermaphroditic universe

    2. King Jack

      Some are both or neither..

      People that is. There are more than 2 genders.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        ISTR an old joke about a couple who had 3 children, 1 of each; Man, Woman & Hair-dresser

      2. Silverburn



    3. c3

      So ours having some anti-matter makes it bi-curious, right ?

      Someone inform the Westboro Baptist Church so they can make some "God hates anti-matter" signs or something.

  6. Simon Round

    I Think this explains it all really ......

    God's Final Message to His Creation, written in letters of fire on the side of the Quentulus Quazgar Mountains - "We apologise for the inconvenience."

    ― Douglas Adams, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

  7. ratfox



    1. Isendel Steel

      42 ?

      The Answer my be 42 but what is (more importantly) The Question ?

      The Question of Life, The Universe and Everything is "what is 6 x 9"

      which =! 42

      (got screwed up by the telephone sanitizers and middle management corrupting the data).

      See A.Dent, experiments with scrabble

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Six by Nine IS Forty-Two

        But only in base 13.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      42 -> for tea too

  8. b0llchit Silver badge

    Well then

    42 (forty-two)?

  9. Bakunin

    Why are we here?

    Because everyone has to be somewhere.

    1. c3

      And if you were homeless, you'd be home by now

      Just sayin

  10. Chad H.

    Quick question for the Physicsy types

    How do we know that what we look at through a telescope is Matter and not Anti-Matter and the non-anti-matter-ness isnt just local to earth. Take for example Pluto, how do we know its not made of Anti-Matter rather than matter, is there a way to tell without trying to crash some known matter into it?

    1. puffspluslotion

      If we lived in a universe filled with anti-matter, we would call it matter, and call what we call matter anti-matter.

    2. puffspluslotion

      Sorry, I didn't quite read the original question thoroughly but if "non-antimatter-ness" were local to Earth, I suspect that the Earth would have been destroyed long ago. We would at least be witnessing more frequent energy bursts from areas where the two came together. The universe is sparse but cosmic collisions still happen all the time.

      1. LaeMing

        Empty space

        isn't quite empty enough to avoid M-AM collisions. There would be very energetic convergence zones between the M and AM regions where - at least - free floating hydrogen and anti-hydrogen would be slowly but continually-and-energetically going 'pop'.

  11. Alister


    I bet I'm not the first...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "we see a universe in which there's a lot of normal matter - though certainly very thinly spread out - and almost no antimatter at all"

    Er, maybe they're just looking in the wrong place...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did anyone else manage to get through that article without images of their own Mum popping into their heads and the sound-bites being said in their Mum's voice?!

  14. Anonymous John

    Do we really want to prove we shouldn't exist?

    "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

    "But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don't. QED"

    "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

  15. schotness

    P'raps God did it after all

    Stick that in yer pipe & smoke it Richard Dawkins. Incidentally I'm joking.

  16. jake Silver badge

    Why are we here?

    To spend grant money, of course :-)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "10-year study indicates that theoretically it shouldn't"

    But it DOES, Blanch, IT DOES!

  18. Richard Wharram

    Which question ?

    WHY are we here?

    Why are WE here?

    Why are we HERE?

    Why ARE we here?

    Natural languages suck.

  19. Anonymous Coward 15

    There is a theory which states

    that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

    There is another theory which states that this has already happened.

    (Douglas Adams, of course)

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      SMART Revolutionary CodeXSSXXXX for Man's Evolution into Virtual Machinery? *

      Hi, AC 15,

      Is a theory, a flow of consciousness? And if the Universe is discovered to be here for us to play God and virtual poker games calling stupid bluffs, in order to erase them from the Future and ITs Great Games, for who needs fool jokers and spoilers in the pack, would something even more bizarre and inexplicable to replace it be just a figment of viable imagination or a computer program for presentation of virtual reality projects to be carried and broadbandcast around the world in an instant by IT and media, so that everyone can be on the same page of the script to be realised, although of course, would it then be virtualised pretext and enlightening and illuminating codex.

      Perhaps you would like to consider all available options and derivatives as shared and earlier posted [on 11/10/11 03:18 AM] in a feedback comment here .....

      And bizarre I would accept may the future be, but inexplicable, whenever one has control of words for the creation of worlds, is just a nonsense which is easily dismissed.

      PS ... El Reg, you do realise, do you not, that you are also in the frame for what could be a lot more than just fifteen minutes of fame with regard to the last sentence posted in Daily Bell feedback comment thread cited above, but at the later time of 08:06 AM. Indeed, I do believe that I may even have implied and promised such a strange turn of events, in appreciative recognition of your sterling service over many moons, .... and more moons than I would care to count . :-)

      And so what if IT fcuks up the System and the Establishment and presents them with something completely different and new [NEUKlearer and HyperRadioproActive]. Are you happy and contented with their collapsing ponzis and austerity shows with no cash available for anything, whenever you know that trillions upon trillions are available at the drop of a hat for those in the know who have lost the plot and follow no script at all….. which is madness, is it not, and some would even say downright criminal too.

      Henry Ford said it quite plainly, ages ago ...... "It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning."

      * An interesting elevation indeed for the simplification of performing great deeds that fulfil needs with feeds and seeds to nurture and harvest for future bounty and supernatural source supply.

  20. Fishy


    See title

    1. LaeMing

      That just moves the goalpoasts (and only very slightly)

      Universe is here because God made it.

      So... Why is God here?

      Because He is.

      So... occams razor, cut out the middle-diety as a surfluous step and conclude the universe is here "because it is".

      Hypothesis fails for lack of actual content.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not why but how

    How are we here not why are we here.

    1. Richard Wharram

      How are we here ?

      We're fine here. Thanks for asking.

      Could we make these boards only accept formal logic please ?

    2. madick
      Thumb Up

      Precisely! The research experiments described in the article attempted to provide some of the answers to the "how" question.

      Including the "why" question in the article's subtitle was simply misleading.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More (or less) anti-mater

    How do these boffins know that we are not the anti-matter?


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