Roger D. Isaacs
New Interpretations of the Hebrew Bible

Is the Universe in Good Shape?

Author Concept Illustration

The basic scientific method starts with observing the world around us and coming to conclusions about how it works based on those observations. It should also help to clarify why it works. Generations of humans going back to our earliest ancestors used this method to ask questions about the world in which they lived and came to their own conclusions about it. Even though they might have come to very different conclusions than we would do now, they were still curious about the world and wanted to know how it worked.

Looking at the writings and drawings of these ancient peoples you find that the image of the sphere or circle is extremely prevalent. The Greeks tried to understand the sphere from a geometric perspective, whilst the ancient peoples of the British Isles and Brittany created stone circles. The Egyptians associated the circle with the sphere of the sun imbuing it with a divine sensibility, as in their god Ra (who can be signified in Egyptian as literally a circle representing the sun). Later, Akhenaten used the same circle, this time with outstretched arms attached, to represent his god, the Aten (sun disc). It was very common for later thinkers to consider the circle or sphere a perfect shape and, in their view, divine. The early Hebrews saw the itself Earth as a flat disc and later heliocentric models saw the universe emanating from the sun in concentric circles. Whilst these theories of the universe are now discredited, it is important that the circle or sphere had primacy within all of them. The most rational reason for this would be that spheres and circles were observed abundantly in nature, and thus considered to be created by divinity.

From a physical perspective, the use of the sphere was considered one of the best ways to make an object aerodynamic. People crafting things to be hurled or thrown usually utilized spheres or balls for the purpose, because they flew more easily through the air – and were easier to catch. Examples are the very early cannons of the Chinese, some of which used cannonballs, and other round shot, as well as balls used for games, such as those used by the Greeks, Romans, and right down to our modern baseballs. Though all of these instances of the sphere or circle are hugely varied, from the cosmic to the mundane, clearly the shape was being observed and used by many people at many times.

In the course of our own studies, we have applied an observational method. Although crude, compared to the worlds of complex physics, chemistry, and biology that now exist, the ability to observe phenomena and come to rational conclusions is a fundamental basis of what it means to be a thinking human. So we propose below, in a spirit of curiosity, one possible scenario, explaining the structure and nature of the universe itself with reference to the every-present sphere. In all truth, these conclusions are based solely on observations and not experimentation, and therefore may at some point now or in the future be proven or disproven. It should be clear that is not our purpose here to propose absolute facts, but to observe closely our world and draw some possible conclusions from those observations.

What is the Structure of the Universe?

The shape and structure of the known universe has been debated. Proposals include flat, hyperbolic, torus, and spherical. In our thinking, we subscribe to the spherical model of the universe. Such a model seems to account for spherical and circular structures within the universe, and a universe emerging from a fixed point, expanding outwards uniformly, creating in the process a four dimensional universe that might form a continuous spherical shape.

In this spherical universe, all matter and energy, and the structure of the universe itself, emanates from central point (a singularity as proposed by the Big Bang Theory). Because the universe expands ever outwards centered on this point, we might expect “circles” of matter and energy to develop in the wake of this expansion. We can observe this omnipresent shape in the latest set of photographs from the James Webb Space Telescope (in this instance space material formed by stellar winds).

Image credit: NASA/ESA/CSA/Ryan Lau/JWST ERS Team/Judy Schmidt

There is a similarity of form between the tiniest components of matter and energy (like atoms and particles), cells, single-celled organisms, planets, solar systems, and indeed galaxies and the universe itself. All are spherical or spheroid-like, which might suggest that this shape is a vital characteristic of how the universe is organized. Through which process this shape arises is unknown, but it is undeniable that the sphere informs everything.

What are some possible reasons that this shape might occur? It seems that spherical shapes naturally form as matter travels, starting off amorphous but then gradually gaining a ball-like shape. As gravity pulls matter together, a sphere forms. Spherical shapes additionally minimize surface area and thus reduce the energy required to maintain a system. Spherical shapes are also efficient in distributing mass and energy uniformly. In celestial bodies, this allows for more even distribution of gravitational forces and accompanying heat. In the case of biological structures, such as cells, a spherical shape can provide efficient distribution of nutrients and waste products. Biological organisms evolve over time, and natural selection tends to favor structures and forms that enhance survival and reproduction. Spherical shapes may offer advantages in terms of stability, resource distribution, and protection, leading to their prevalence in certain biological entities.

In addition, gravity is a fundamental force that attracts matter towards each other. In large celestial bodies like planets, stars (including the sun), and galaxies, gravity acts to pull material inward. This force tends to pull material towards the center, naturally forming a spherical shape. When the density becomes too extreme, phenomena like black holes are formed. Spherical shapes can also be stable. This is particularly relevant in the context of planets and stars, where gravitational forces are balanced by internal pressure, resulting in stable and long-lived structures. On a smaller scale, within atoms and molecules, electromagnetic forces and quantum interactions also contribute to shaping structures.

What is the most simple component effecting this whole system? Each phenomenon (light, electricity, radiation etc.) may be made up of fundamental particles termed “quanta” (for example, photons, electrons etc.), which are the smallest discrete unit of that phenomenon. Theoretically, effecting these is Quantum Field Theory (QFT). Particles are viewed in QFT as excited states (quanta) of their quantum fields, which are more fundamental than the particles themselves. If a quantum field or fields underlays all existence in the universe, then it is an additional force holding everything together. That additional force, the most basic form of “reality” may be naturally “encoded” with the propensity to form spherical or circular structures. It could be that the nature of the universe means nothing can exist which is not spherical at the most basic level.

Unified Theory: Cosmic Evolution and Recurrence

We see a cycle of creation – destruction – and creation in stars. Is this sequence emanating from an original reaction that started with the Big Bang? When the Big Bang expanded, it moved all the material involved around. When that happened, the best way for all this material to move and form most efficiently was in spherical shapes. Below, a possible outline of this mechanism is put forward:

Inflationary Expansion- The universe undergoes a period of rapid inflation following the Big Bang. This inflationary phase amplifies the initial expansion, pushing matter and energy outward at an accelerated rate.

Boundary Formation – As the universe expands, it encounters a boundary or transition zone at its edge, which exists in higher-dimensional space as suggested by string theory. String theory proposes the existence of additional spatial dimensions beyond the familiar three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. In our scenario, we can draw inspiration from string theory to suggest that the boundary at the edge of the universe exists in higher-dimensional space, providing a mechanism for the outer rim to form and be sustained. This boundary acts as a barrier that ordinarily prevents matter and energy from escaping.

Outer Rim Formation – Matter and energy particles that reach the boundary accumulate and form an outer rim or shell-like spheroid structure. This rim consists of various particles and energy forms pushed to the edge by the relentless expansion of the universe. The distribution of matter and energy in the outer rim is uniform, consistent with observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Critical Mass Transformation – When matter and energy accumulate in the outer rim to a critical threshold, they undergo a transformative process due to the extreme conditions and forces present at the rim. This transformation alters their fundamental properties, allowing them to interact with higher-dimensional space. In current physics, critical thresholds often lead to phase transitions or dramatic changes in the behavior of systems. For example, in particle physics, high-energy collisions can lead to the creation of new particles through processes like particle decay. At the outer rim of the universe, extreme conditions and immense forces could trigger similar phenomena, causing matter and energy to undergo transformations that enable them to interact with higher-dimensional space.

Boundary Penetration and Multiverse Formation- Transformed matter and energy at the outer rim penetrate the boundary into higher-dimensional space. While our current understanding of physics does not directly address boundaries between our universe and higher-dimensional space, certain theories like string theory suggest the existence of extra dimensions beyond the familiar four-dimensional spacetime. If such higher-dimensional spaces exist, it is plausible that matter and energy could interact with them under certain conditions, potentially leading to phenomena like boundary penetration. Within this space, they follow trajectories dictated by the dynamics of higher-dimensional geometry, leading to re-entry into our universe at different points. Within the framework of string theory or other theories proposing extra dimensions, the dynamics of higher-dimensional space could dictate how matter and energy move once they penetrate the boundary. While the specifics would depend on the nature of these extra dimensions, it is conceivable that matter and energy could follow trajectories that loop back into our universe at different points, effectively creating new regions with distinct physical properties. This process contributes to the formation of multiple universes within the multiverse structure proposed by string theory and related concepts.

Cyclical Evolution – Cyclical processes inherent to higher-dimensional physics, such as collisions or interactions between different universes or parts of universes, govern the evolution of the entire multiverse. These processes give rise to cycles of expansion, boundary formation, rim accumulation, transformation, re-entry, and rebirth, shaping the evolution of the universe and the multiverse on a grand scale.

From History to the Future

Is it merely coincidental that many ancient civilizations, from the Greeks and Romans, to the Hebrews and Egyptians, also had a worldview that saw the sphere as integral to their cosmology and mythology? We shall never know for sure. But the quantity of observations seems to strengthen the idea that these civilizations, like us, were observing their world and noticing a simple pattern: that the sphere or circle was replicated in all things across the universe, and perhaps reflecting the structure of the universe itself.

The above was coauthored with Adam R. Hemmings, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and graduate of the University of Chicago and the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

About the Author
Roger D. Isaacs is an independent researcher specializing in Hebrew Bible studies and the author of two books, "Talking With God" and "The Golden Ark". Isaacs' primary research site was the archives of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, where he is a member of the Advisory Council. He also conducted research at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies, as well as digs, museums, and libraries in many countries, including Syria, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, and England.
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