Edward Tryon

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Edward Tryon
Born Edward Polk Tryon
September 4, 1940 (age 75)
Terre Haute, Indiana
United States
Citizenship United States
Fields Physicist
Institutions Columbia University
Hunter College of the City University of New York
Alma mater Cornell University
University of California, Berkeley
Doctoral advisor Steven Weinberg
Known for Proposing the idea that our universe originated from a quantum fluctuation of the vacuum

Edward P. Tryon (born September 4, 1940)[1] is an American scientist and a professor emeritus of physics at Hunter College of the City University of New York.[2] He was the first physicist to say our universe originated as a quantum fluctuation of the vacuum.[3][4]

Early life[edit]

He was born and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana.[5] Soon after he took his first physics course in his junior year at Wiley High School, he knew he wanted to be a physicist.[6]

Academia and intellectual influences[edit]

He entered Cornell University in 1958. He was very influenced by Noble Laureate Hans Bethe, who was one of his professors. He was especially affected by some advice Bethe gave him. "Our intuition is based on our experiences in the macroscopic world. There is no reason to expect our intuition to be valid for microscopic phenomena".[7] He graduated from Cornell University in 1962, earning a bachelors in physics.[8] He would then go on to do his graduate work at the University of California, Berkeley. Here he would be very much influenced by Steven Weinberg. He took courses he taught and would become a mentor to him.[9] His doctoral thesis would focus on the relationship between general relativity and quantum field theory.[10] His doctoral thesis was titled: "Classical and Quantum Field-Theoretic Derivations of Gravitational Theory."[11] He would graduate from the University of California, Berkeley with a PhD in physics in 1967.

Career at Columbia University[edit]

In 1967 he would begin working at Columbia University as a research assistant.[12] In 1968 he began working as an assistant professor for Columbia University and he would work at this university until 1971.[13]

Dennis Sciama and the idea that the universe is a vacuum fluctuation[edit]

In 1969 (some versions of this story say 1970), Tryon was at a lecture taking place at Columbia University being given by British cosmologist Dennis Sciama.[14] And when Sciama paused for a moment in his speaking, Tryon suddenly said out loud: "Maybe the universe is a vacuum fluctuation?"[15] Everyone laughed, assuming it was a joke.[16] He was embarrassed and so did not explain to anyone that this was not a joke. And Tryon says he only remembered this incident after he was reminded of it after he published a paper about this subject matter.[17]

Hunter College of the City University of New York[edit]

In 1971 Tryon left Columbia University and began working at Hunter College of the City University of New York.[18] He would spend the rest of his academic career teaching as a professor at Hunter College.

Is the universe a vacuum fluctuation?[edit]

In the early 1970s, there was still a strong belief among physicist that no one could speak about what came before the Big Bang and stay within the boundaries of science.[19] It was almost universally accepted that no scientist could explain why there is something and not nothing. This was the scientific climate Tryon existed in as he was getting settled at working at Hunter College. But soon after arriving at Hunter College he found himself in a writing project that he thought required him to do an exhaustive study of how modern science perceives our universe.[20] And in studying the many ways cosmologist see our universe, he thought he discovered a way it might have come into existence that no one had ever thought of. And he then wrote his idea up as a scientific paper and tried to get it published. He submitted his paper to Physical Review Letters, but they rejected it. He then sent it to the British scientific journal Nature, hoping it might be accepted as a "letter to the editor." An editor from the journal didn't just accept it, but decided to make it a feature article.[21]

The paper came out in Nature in December, 1973, with the title: "Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?"[22] It proposed the idea that our universe had originated from a quantum fluctuation of the vacuum.[23] The cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin said of the paper: "Now, what Tryon was suggesting was that our entire universe, with its vast amount of matter, was a huge quantum fluctuation, which somehow failed to disappear for more than ten billion years."[24] And physicist Alan Guth made this comment about the paper: "In his controversial two-page paper, Tryon advanced the startling proposal that on rare occasions, whole universes might materialize from the vacuum, and our universe may have begun this way."[25] This was the first time any scientist had used science to try to explain how our universe may have originated from nothing.[26]

In his paper, Tryon first deals with the idea of how our universe could have come from nothing and stay within the laws of physics. The first law of thermodynamics says energy can not be created or destroyed. Yet Tryon knew that our universe could come from nothing without breaking the law of the conservation of energy. He mentioned how our universe could have zero energy in it. He described how all the mass energy which is positive and all the gravitational energy which is negative cancel each other out leaving us with a universe with zero energy.That is how the universe could have begun from zero energy, nothing. Tryon gives credit for learning this idea from the general relativist Peter Bergmann.[27] The person who first discovered the idea that we might live in a universe equaling zero because mass positive energy is equal to gravitation negative energy was the physicist Richard C. Tolman. Because Tryon believed our universe was equal to zero energy, this was why in his paper Tryon said: "If this be the case, then our Universe could have appeared from nowhere without violating any conservation laws."

Tryon then goes on to describe how our universe could have come from a quantum fluctuation of the vacuum. He does this by simply applying our current scientific laws to that era before our universe was here. Since quantum mechanics and quantum field theory exist in our universe, he applies it to the place that is before our universe was. Like many physicists he believes that a vacuum, or empty space, existed before our universe existed. To a regular person empty space means nothing, but to a physicist empty space, or nothing, is never either empty space or nothing. To a physicist, empty space can never truly be empty. In physics, because of quantum mechanics and quantum field theory, every vacuum has something in it. At the quantum level in our universe because of the uncertainty principle, the law of the conservation of energy can be broken for just a brief moment, causing virtual particles to pop in and out of existence. And so Tryon says in the vacuum that was here before our universe was here virtual particles also existed. And these quantum fluctuations from nothing (the vacuum) eventually led to one of these particles popping into existence and becoming our universe.[28]

Tryon is not able to explain how one of these virtual particles grows to become a universe like ours, but he does say in his paper "that the laws of physics place no limit on the scale of vacuum fluctuations." And he also mentions in his paper how "vacuum fluctuations of our Universe are probably quite rare."

While Tryon was the first person to say how our universe was a quantum fluctuation of the vacuum, the German physicist Pascual Jordan was the first person to talk about how a star might be created from the vacuum by a quantum transition. In the 1930s a lot of physicists were looking how to explain if we lived in a continuous universe (an eternal one, always here), where was matter coming from. Jordan knew how a sun's mass positive energy could cancel out its gravitational negative energy, leaving a sun with zero energy. And this led him to speculate what would prevent a quantum transition from the vacuum from creating a new sun.[29] And Jordan was not suggesting that our universe could have come about by a quantum fluctuation of the vacuum, but how matter might be generated if we existed in an eternal (always here) universe.

And in the early 1970s, a Ukrainian from Soviet Russia named P. I. Fomin (Peter Ivanovych Fomin) seems to have independently came up with the idea that our universe could have come about by a quantum process.[30] But he did not publish anything until 1975, almost two years after Tryon came out with his paper, causing scientists to give Tryon credit for coming up with this idea first.

Tryon also believed this quantum event was without a purpose or cause. In essence, he was saying "that our universe could have originated in this way and emphasized such a creation event would not require a cause."[31] And this is why in his paper he would say the sentence: "In answer to the question of why it happened, I offer the modest proposal that our Universe is simply one of those things which happen from time to time."

And even though from this paper one is given the impression and sensation that the mystery of where our universe came from is solved, it is not. For in his paper he mentions how there is this "larger space in which our Universe is imbedded," but this place that existed before our universe existed is given only a very vague and short description. And while Tryon says our universe came into being by an accident from the laws of physics, he does not say what created the laws of physics, leaving the mystery not to be yet solved.

7

Career[edit]

Tryon's specialization is in theoretical quark models, theoretical general relativity, and cosmology. In 1973, he proposed that the universe is a large-scale quantum fluctuation in vacuum energy. This is called vacuum genesis or the zero-energy universe hypothesis. He has been quoted as saying, "the universe is simply one of those things that happens from time to time."[32]

Works[edit]

  • Tryon, Edward P. "Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?", in Nature, 246(1973), pp. 396–397.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reynosa, Peter. "Why Isn't Edward P. Tryon A World-famous Physicist?". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 22, 2016. 
  2. ^ Reynosa, Peter. "Why Isn't Edward P. Tryon A World-famous Physicist?". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  3. ^ Impey, Chris (2012). How it Began: A Time-Traveler's Guide to the Universe. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 411. ISBN 978-0-393-08002-5. 
  4. ^ Tryon, Edward P. "Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?". Nature. Retrieved March 26, 2016. 
  5. ^ Gribbon, John (1998). In Search of the Big Bang: The Life and Death of the Universe (New ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 303. ISBN 0-14-026989-4. 
  6. ^ Parker, Barry (1988). Creation: The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe. New York: Plenum Press. p. 186. ISBN 0-306-42952-7. 
  7. ^ Parker, Barry (1988). Creation: The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe. New York: Plenum Press. pp. 186–187. ISBN 0-306-42952-7. 
  8. ^ Gribbin, John (1998). In Search of the Big Bang: The Life and Death of the Universe (New ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 303. ISBN 0-14-026989-4. 
  9. ^ Parker, Barry (1988). Creation: The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe. New York: Plenum Press. pp. 187–188. ISBN 0-306-42952-7. 
  10. ^ Parker, Barry (1988). Creation: The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe. New York: Plenum Press. p. 188. ISBN 0-306-42952-7. 
  11. ^ "Classical and Quantum Field-Theoretic Derivations of Gravitational Theory". Harvard Education. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  12. ^ Reynosa, Peter. "Why Isn't Edward P. Tryon A World-famous Physicist?". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  13. ^ Reynosa, Peter. "Why Isn't Edward P. Tryon A World-famous Physicist?". Huffington Post. Retrieved March 28, 2016. 
  14. ^ Guth, Alan H. (1997). The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins. New York: Basic Books. p. 12. ISBN 0-201-14942-7. 
  15. ^ Gribbin, John (1986). In Search of the Big Bang: The Life and Death of the Universe. London: Penguin Books. p. 304. ISBN 0-14-026989-4. 
  16. ^ Vilenkin, Alex (2006). Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes. New York: Hill and Wang. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-8090-9523-0. 
  17. ^ Parker, Barry (1988). Creation: The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe. New York: Plenum Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-306-42952-7. 
  18. ^ Parker, Barry (1988). Creation: The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe. New York: Plenum Press. p. 189. ISBN 0-306-42952-7. 
  19. ^ Chaisson, Eric (1981). Cosmic Dawn: The Origins of Matter and Life. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. p. 42. ISBN 0-393-30587-2. 
  20. ^ Parker, Barry (1988). Creation: The Story of the Origin and Evolution of the Universe. New York: Plenum Press. pp. 189–190. ISBN 0-306-42952-7. 
  21. ^ Guth, Alan H. (1997). The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins. New York: Perseus Publishing. p. 271. ISBN 0-201-14942-7. 
  22. ^ Tryon, Edward P. "Is the Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?". Nature. Retrieved March 29, 2016. 
  23. ^ Vuletic, Mark I. "Creation ex nihilo-Without God". The Secular Web. Retrieved March 29, 2016. 
  24. ^ Vilenkin, Alex (2006). Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universe. New York: Hill and Wang. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-8090-9523-0. 
  25. ^ Guth, Alan H. (1997). The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins. New York: Perseus Publishing. p. 272. ISBN 0-201-14942-7. 
  26. ^ Guth, Alan H. (1997). The Inflationary Universe: The Quest for a New Theory of Cosmic Origins. New York: Perseus Publishing. p. 271. ISBN 0-201-14942-7. 
  27. ^ Tryon, Edward P. "Is The Universe a Vacuum Fluctuation?". Nature. Retrieved March 29, 2016. 
  28. ^ Gleiser, Marcelo (1997). The Dancing Universe: From Creation Myths to the Big Bang. New York: Penguin Books. p. 307. ISBN 0-525-94112-6. 
  29. ^ Gribbib, John (1986). In Search of the Big Bang: The Life and Death of the Universe (Second ed.). New York: Penguin Books. p. 344. ISBN 0-14-026989-4. 
  30. ^ Gribbin, John (1986). In Search of the Big Bang: The Life and Death of the Universe (Second ed.). New York: Penguin Books. p. 344. ISBN 0-14-026989-4. 
  31. ^ Vilenkin, Alex (2006). Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes. New York: Hill and Wang. pp. 184–185. ISBN 978-0-8090-9523-0. 
  32. ^ Holt, Jim (1994). "Nothing Ventured" DBanach.com (accessed August 21, 2006)