Avant garde physics collides with evolutionary biology in this ambitious cosmological treatise.
The worldview of modern astrophysics, comprising a Big Bang at the start of time, multiverses and enigmatic singularities, strikes the author as “a universe on LSD,” so she proposes an allegedly more sober alternative model of an “evolutionary cyclic” cosmos. The “cyclic” aspect means that the universe regularly expands and contracts, driven by the antagonism between gravity and a “perhaps fundamentally undetectable” short-range anti-gravitational force (“short-range” meaning one 100-trillion-trillion-millionth of a millimeter), each cycle ending in a giant black hole. The “evolutionary” aspect means that each cycle inherits traits from the preceding one but also undergoes a “parametric mutagenesis” that tweaks the strength of gravity, the speed of light and other fundamental constants and pushes the universe toward greater complexity—until, after a “cycle of identical cycles,” the universe starts over in a simple default state. (We’re now in a very complex cycle, Knight contends, in which the universe, through a “cosmomitotic division” analogous to biological reproduction, has sprouted 12 dimension—nine of space and three of time—grouped in three strata, each with its own fundamental constants.) Knight loosely applies her theory to topics from antimatter to Z particles, while tossing off prickly challenges to establishment physics. (“the author does not believe that the Higgs field exists.”) Her discussion is too difficult for laymen—“What causes a green up quark to change to a red up quark during rematerialization within the baryonic stratum arises as a consequence of the fact that the gluons, which hold the quarks together, are also undergoing oscillation at their own rate through the tristratum structure”—but physicists may find it equally daunting. Knight offers no equations or diagrams to elucidate the obscure, gap-riddled mechanisms by which her model operates. Worse, her speculations lack the tight linkage between theory and experimental observation and prediction that is the hallmark of rigorous science.
An imaginative but not yet compelling drawing-board sketch of a universe pulsing with vital rhythms.