March 3, 2013
to be posted on

Professor Kip Thorne
Caltech 350-17
Pasadena, CA 91125-0001
626 395 4598

Dear Professor Thorne:
There is no way you could remember this, but about thirty years ago you taught at a cosmology conference in Georgetown, Texas.  John Wheeler was there as well.  I remember when other doctors at work would ask me where I was going.  I told them it was a cosmology conference.  “But that’s for sissies, isn’t it?”  “No, you’re thinking cosmetology.”  Or “But that’s all garbage isn’t it?  Just a con game.”  “No, you’re thinking astrology.”  It’s been kind of lonely out here in the boondocks. 

I was delighted to be able to ask you about what I had been thinking.  That was that the expanding universe was, or at the very least had been, a black hole.  Earlier, if not still, the size and density of the universe would have made it a black hole.  The only escape would be to have an infinite universe so there was no event horizon.  But if the universe were infinite, then it would be pointless to try to explain anything because everything was doomed to repetition down to the last atom in an infinite number of instantiations.  So the expanding universe was an absolute impossibility. 

The problem is easily solved.  Just reverse the direction of time.  Nothing else changes.  This also solves some other difficulties.  The Big Bang is suspect already because it sounds so biblical.  But a chaotic system out of which the universe condensed and is collapsing could be unbounded in time in both directions. 

A second point is that the bigger universe would take more information in order to encode the locations of everything, so there had to be information coming out of nowhere.  That would explain why the future is inherently indeterminate.  Yet there are these scientific laws that should in principle be time direction independent.  (Yes, there are arguments that the future and past are not actually symmetrical.  That data did not yet exist.)  In those days the answer to the increasing information in the universe was that as the universe cooled the information value of the location of the average ponderable bit of matter would fall exactly balancing the greater volume within which it was found.  My argument depended on an irreducible amount of information beyond that which thermodynamics describe.  Since that time it has become possible to place matter in a state of less than absolute zero temperature.  To achieve this, it is necessary to go through the absolute zero point, at which moment the atoms being manipulated should suddenly exist in equal probability throughout the universe.  The sample should vanish.  So that still leaves us with information coming from some extra-universe source.  But in backwards time information simply becomes redundant.  The past is knowable as the future is not.

There was a question of missing neutrinos from the sun, but enough work has been done on that so that I have given up the point. 

The third difficulty is that if Hawking black hole radiation were to be found, then it would be matter escaping from a black hole.  So that would leave us with black holes exploding on the smallest scale and the largest scale but collapsing in between with no clear cut reason as to why the behavior should reverse itself twice over scale.

So what my idea required was that “black holes” were really “white holes” out of which things could come but into which nothing could fall. 

Oh there was more, things like there should be a polyhedral structure to the universe, since it must be headed for ever higher organization which in reversed time would leave visible remnants, but that was kind of off the wall.

And watching something fall into a black hole was not really feasible, since observations close to the event horizon would be inherently difficult.

You had followed me courteously throughout this.  And than I explained what I thought was the Achilles’ heel of the idea.  You couldn’t see anything fall into a black hole so you would never know whether things were going in or out, so the theory predicted nothing and hence was no theory at all.

You cheerfully explained that during that very year there was a satellite going up to examine Cignus X – 1.  You proposed that a disturbance in the accretion disc might be found and be traced as it fell toward the event horizon.  That would disprove the theory and hence it really was a theory, (although I am sure you made mental reservation, “And is almost certainly wrong.”) 

I kept an eye on things while I pursued other interests. is my blog concerning these other issues, but I shall not trouble you with it.  As I watched, dark matter became more and more of a certainty.  That was gratifying.  If the universe ever was a black hole it must be one still and there was a time when it didn’t seem that the contemporary universe had enough mass for its size.

Then came the notion that the universe was speeding up in its expansion.  I thought that shouldn’t need much hand waving.  As a collapsing black hole, in reverse time of course, events then were down a gravity well compared with now; they looked like they were going slower; hence we seem to be going faster.  That makes a very specific prediction about what the apparent speed profile over distance must be; in the absence of handy data I haven’t even wondered whether I could calculate it.  I imagine you have already worked it out in your head. 

And now … ta da! … they have found a disturbance in a black hole accretion disc, just as you proposed.  I am totally amazed.  Of course the disturbance is coming out rather than going in, something that would be obvious in reversed time, but I’m sure a rationalization will be forthcoming.  Or maybe the wave will be reflected and go back inward.

I just wanted you to know that you predicted such a disturbance a very long time ago and I, for one, remember.


M. Linton Herbert MD   

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