The Persistent Universe (Cantor)

Andy James
8 min readAug 4
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

The Persistent Universe Hypothesis offers an alternative to the popular Big Bang theory and the competing concept of an eternally static universe. While many variations exist within the latter theory, they all share one commonality: the assertion that our universe is infinite in both time and scope. On the other hand, the Big Bang theory suggests a universe that is finite in both respects.

However, I find both narratives fundamentally problematic. According to both, the universe is paradoxically its own cause and effect. This essentially characterizes the universe as a perpetual motion machine. In the case of the Big Bang theory, it also behaves as an over-unity machine, purportedly producing energy beyond its initial conditions in the form of the elusive dark energy.

The US patent office, with its rigid criteria for what constitutes a viable machine, would likely dismiss both these theories.

In contrast, the Persistent Universe Hypothesis calls for a constant source of energy input. The transformation of this potential energy source into work results in the observable universe, which gradually depletes over time. By ‘observable’, I mean a universe whose behavior can be predicted mathematically. This theory also allows room for the existence of elements beyond our physical observation due to the vastness of the universe. Multiple universes could indeed exist within this framework. The key aspect of this hypothesis is the universe’s mechanical operation: it functions like a machine we might build to perform a specific task, but unlike any we have created so far.

Our familiar machines require an energy source to function; they convert this potential energy into work, which then eventually depletes. This process can be represented as: Input → Work → Depletion.

Drawing a parallel, scientists can be seen as operators and repairmen of a colossal machine. They have learned how to tweak and manipulate this machine through repetition, experimentation, and even modification. But they don’t have the user manual or blueprints. They are able to reverse-engineer down to the motor — which they label as a fundamental building block of the machine. However, the mystery of how or why the motor works remains. Often, they refer to this enigmatic motor as ‘energy’, the greatest puzzle in…