Infinite Regression?

From Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

Is this theory plausible? Is there any evidence for or against it? It has piqued my interest, but I can’t seem to find much information on it.

It’s certainly interesting, but I don’t think it’s really scientific. I base this on the fact that it would be impossible to test this idea and prove it wrong. Of course, that’s given my best understanding of cosmology, so I could be wrong.

Speaking of infinite regression, I read a story by Larry Niven that sort of goes like so: A guy summons a demon. The demon gives him one wish but his soul belongs to the demon in 24 hours whether he uses it or not. The demon can not leave the pentagram. The guy having the demon stop time for 24 hours, erases the pentagram from around the demon and then re-draws it on the demon’s stomache. When the 24 hours are up, the demon disappears and then reappears within the pentagram, which of course, is now on his stomache again…repeat as necessary.

Question. When does the demon vanish completely?

That is the basic premise behind “He Who Shrank,” by Henry Hasse, copyright 1936 by Teck Publishing Corporation. In the story, a man is injected with a strange chemical, named “Shrinx,” by a mad scientist (classic 1930s SF, isn’t it?) and is placed on a piece of Rehyllium-X, the densest metal in the Universe. He shrinks down infinitely, and visits an infinite number of Universes within the subatomic particles of the infinite Universes he visits …

Anyway, it’s a good story, if a little overdone in places. It’s very creative. I have it in Before the Golden Age, Book 3, edited by Isaac Asimov, copyright 1974 by Doubleday and Company, which is full of the stories that filled the prewar pulps and glossies (two kinds of magazines, one cheaply made for SF fans (pulps), one of more quality for general-interest audiences (glossies)).

IMHO, I don’t think it’s that plausible. Mainly because there’s no evidence of it, but the whole concept wouldn’t jibe with the basic concepts we do have evidence to back up.

I once read a choose your own adventure children’s sci-fi book, and one of the endings involved the opposite - some kids were made to grow larger and larger until they could see the whole universe, and then other universes, which in turn turned out to be subatomic particles. To this day I remember what I consider the corniest line from science fiction I’ve ever read: “Hey! Those universes look like quarks!”

Well, you could take your set and run SAS on it listing every field, thereby performing stepwise regression, but watch out…just because it says 3.7% of the variance is “explained” by variable 13 doesn’t mean that 3.7% of the dependent variable is caused by variable 13, because there are an infinite number of variables you forgot to assess, let alone figure into your equation. Not to mention the differences between correlation and causation to begin with.

Now, if you could list every one of the infinite set of variables and run stepwise regression…

It’s turtles all the way down…
The Standard Model has a limit to all of this stuff as we understand the “Russian Dolls” argument that Sagan made. Physicists can (and probably have) described this a bit better. In short, there are a few little areas of the Standard Model that have yet to be proven (such as the Higgs boson), whether certain “particles” have mass or change into other basic particles, but there does not appear to be another layer below what we already have largely confirmed.

There are some completely unproven theories, however, that suggest there may be other universes in which the same particles that exist in this universe also exist in other universes, perhaps explaining the very weird nature of sub-atomic particles.
A little boy is asked what holds the world up. He says that his daddy says that the world is resting on the back of the turtle. When asked what holds the turtle up, he says, another turtle. When asked again, he repeats the answer. Finally tiring of the silly game the little boy shouts out: it’s turtles, all the way down!

Pretty neat trick, being able to view a single quark!

(Note: Quarks are bound to two others. Always. Which triad of quarks you have determines which particle you have (protons and neutrons and some others are made of quarks). Trying to break them up uses energy that gets transformed into … other quarks!)

I like the word quark. Quark quark quark.


Derleth: “Quarks are bound to two others. Always.”

Yeah, in normal matter. But a meson is comprised of a quark and an antiquark. I’ve heard that in the Standard Model, quarks are indivisible, as atoms were once thought to be. DPWhite, you say there’s a limit. Is it quarks?

infinite regression must be true, because i saw it in a bad second-season episode of Mork and Mindy. watch out for that cat, Robin Williams!


p.s.- screw infinite regression. yay infinite jest!

Kinda like if I go halfway to the door, half of the remaining distance, half of that distance… etc…
I would never make it there.

I don’t know if it is quarks that aren’t divisible, I’ll leave that to someone who knows what all these little buggers are. “Damnit Jim! I’m a lawyer, not a physicist.” “Bones! Just do it.”

I’ve seen the charts in Scientific American all nicely laid out, and it is a lot simpler than the periodic table, and in a way quite elegant. And no, I don’t understand it.

OK, forgive a science hobbyist for popping in here, but it was my understanding that there is a minimum size in the universe,
and that no particle/wavelength could exist smaller that that. Thus wouldn’t that put a floor on how small these “universes”
could be? My not-so-good memory says that number is a relative of Plank’s constant…

Oh and I always found it amusing that Zeno (Xeno?) who stated emphatically that arrows would never reach their target because
of infinite regression (travel half the distance to the target, then half the remaining distance, then half the remaining, ad
infinitum), never volunteered to be the target in a demonstration.