Published: Apr 16, 2023 by Vlad George Ardelean
Though we have reasons to believe infinite energy would be impossible, they are not convincing enough for us to stop trying. Endless energy’s benefits are so huge, that we should try to obtain it at the very least up to the point where it’s clear beyond any shadow of a doubt that it’s impossible to get.
Known limitations from Physics, so far
- The 1st and 2nd law of thermodynamics
- The conservation of energy (more generally, Noether’s theorem)
Our response to the laws of thermodynamics
The 1st and 2nd law of thermodynamics: These laws refer to closed systems. We don’t know if our universe is a closed system. This means we don’t know whether these 2 laws apply for the entire universe.
Our response regarding the conservation of energy
The law of conservation of energy: This law states that energy can’t be created or destroyed. However, it doesn’t say whether an infinite amount of energy already exists.
More precisely, Noether’s theorem says that in a given physical system, if we set up an event to happen at 3PM, or at 4PM, and if all relevant context is the same, then if our event happens exactly the same way at those 2 moments in time (or at any other 2), then energy will be conserved. Einstein’s General relativity however messes up precisely with time.
Noether’s law is broken by the accelerated expansion of our universe ( https://arxiv.org/abs/0803.0982 ). More precisely, in the context of general relativity it seems that it’s really hard to even talk about energy conservation, and the thing we can talk about, doesn’t seem to be conserved (see Sean Carrol’s article “Energy is not conserved” along with the other references). The Big Bang might also be a phenomenon that breaks energy conservation. At the very least, talking about what came before the Big Bang (so that we can compare the energy totals from before and after), seems outside the reach of current science.
A generic response
We’re not interested however particularly in the laws of thermodynamics or the conservation of energy, because as far as we know, the Big Bang itself could violate them both.
So far, we don’t have an understanding of what happens outside of our understanding of the Big Bang. Maybe there are many universes being created every second. Maybe they are accessible and exploitable. Maybe we can learn to create universes.
Does this sound crazy? Absolutely! Is it too crazy to try? We think not. If we look far enough into the past, people at those times would see the atomic bomb, flight, and videos as impossible things that we nonetheless achieved.
- Sean Carrol’s article “Energy is not conserved”
- Video from PBS Spacetime, mentioning that energy is not conserved: Noether’s Theorem and The Symmetries of Reality
- Sabine Hossenfelder’s video: “What is Energy? Is Energy conserved?”
Free photo from wikipedia commons