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In cosmology the vacuum catastrophe refers to the disagreement of 107 orders of magnitude between the upper bound upon the vacuum energy density as inferred from data obtained from the Voyager spacecraft of less than 10/14 GeV/m3 and the zero-point energy of 10/121 GeV/m3 suggested by an application of quantum field theory. This discrepancy has been termed "the worst theoretical prediction in the history of physics."
How far off is this calculation? It varies on how you do the calculations. According to one type of calculation, the predictions of quantum field theory is wrong by a factor of 10/60, which is a factor of a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times. According to a different way of estimating it, the predictions of quantum field theory is wrong by a factor of 10/120, which is a factor of a million billion quadrillion quintillion sextillion septillion octillion times.
This prediction has been repeatedly referred to as the worst prediction in the history of physics. It could just as well be called the most wrong prediction in the history of human thought. No zealous apocalyptic doomer ever made a prediction more wrong, not even the preacher who predicted the end of the world would occur in 1843.
Now it might be easy for us to just dismiss quantum mechanics, because of this ridiculously wrong prediction – we could just say, “This just shows that quantum mechanics is all wrong.” But the problem is that quantum mechanics makes many other specific predictions that turn out to be exactly right. So scientists have to try struggle towards some guess as to how quantum mechanics could be right despite its very wrong prediction about the energy density of the vacuum.
Another problem is that for you to have an exact balance of positive and negative contributions to the vacuum energy density would require fine-tuning of about 1 part in 1060, which is 1 part in trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times.
It could conceivably be that there are many additional undiscovered types of subatomic particles. It could also be that when one adds up the positive energy from all of the virtual particles corresponding to these particles, and subtracts from that the negative energy from all of the virtual particles corresponding to these particles, one ends up with a vacuum energy density of zero or almost zero. But that would require an incredibly improbable coincidence, one which randomly would have less than 1 chance in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. It would be like the chance of you adding up all the money earned on planet Earth, comparing it to all the money borrowed, spent or charged on credit cards, and finding that the two sums matched exactly, to the penny – but it would be far more improbable.
As Professor Strassler puts it:
To say this another way: even though it is possible that there is a special cancellation between the boson fields of nature and the fermion fields of nature, it appears that such a cancellation could only occur by accident, and in only a very tiny tiny tiny fraction of quantum field theories, or of quantum theories of any type (including string theory). Thus, only a tiny tiny tiny fraction of imaginable universes would even vaguely resemble our own (or at least, the part of our own that we can observe with our eyes and telescopes). In this sense, the cosmological constant is a problem of “naturalness” as particle physicists and their colleagues use the term: because it has so little dark energy in it compared to what we’d expect, the universe we live in appears to be highly non-generic, non-typical one.
If such a coincidence has occurred, then scientists are using the wrong term to discuss this problem. They use the term “the vacuum catastrophe,” but the word catastrophe means something very bad. The fact that the vacuum is not even .000000000000000000000000000001 percent as large as predicted by quantum field theory, is however, something that is very good, because a very low vacuum energy density is necessary for our existence. If the vacuum energy density was even .000000000000000000000000000001 as large as predicted by quantum field theory, empty space everywhere would be far denser than steel, and intelligent life never could have appeared in the universe. There would be many reasons why suns could never have formed, and if they did exist, the super-dense vacuum would block all sunlight from ever reaching planets.
What is the proper term for an incredibly improbable but fortunate occurrence? The term is miracle. One definition of miracle is simply a very fortunate but very unlikely event, as in “the miracle of the jet landing on the Hudson River,” or “the miracle that no one was killed by the bomb.”
A key word to remember here is cancellation. Physicist look for ways that these things cancel each other out. This will allow for the value we observe. Quantum Field Theory has been very successful in it's predictions. It seems to show naturalness in the events that occur. This is akin to the rolling of a 7 or 10 when rolling a pair of dice. When they looked at what determined these outcomes they didn't find naturalness. They were of by 107 orders of magnitude in there predictions vs. observed evidence.
In other words, there's an enormous amount of zero point energy and a small vacuum energy density. This small density allows the universe to exist and it allows for us to be here. Naturalness predicted a smaller value for zero point energy in order to naturally match the small vacuum energy density. With this enormous number for zero point energy, they have ran into Design yet again. They need something else enormous to cancel out zero point energy in order to reach the small vacuum energy density. They can't change Quantum Field Theory because it's predictions have been so successful in explaining things. It's like someone fined tuned the universe by giving the instructions that you will find the universe on station 107.999987755555244555522222111188899999111225556688009999666645678999955444 I can go on and on. Some even say it should be called the Vacuum Miracle.
originally posted by: BobAthome
So what ever happened too the "Unified Field Theory" ?
or is it "Quantum Field Theory" all the rage now ?.
(Hint: The lottery company did not design or rig the drawing so that Mrs. Smith from Ohio will win and not the millions of others....)
originally posted by: Kashai
If a person who is a Professional Poker player plays about 100 hands per day. It is very possible that within there life times they we see at least 1 Royal Strait Flush (odds 1 in 650,000).
As to how random that is? It depends upon how many poker players there are that play 100 hands per day (22 hands per day would take 80 years).
In other words. This event occurs consistently, not randomly. it is dependent upon the choice of an individuals to play poker that much every day.