UThe structure of the universe and the laws that govern its growth are remarkably similar to the structure and growth of other complex systems such as the internet, social networks, and biological networks such as the human brain. That is the finding of a study using massive supercomputer simulations of the universe, published November, 2012 in the journal Nature's Scientific Reports by Dmitri Krioukov and colleagues at the University of California, San Diego.
"[The] discovered equivalence between the growth of the universe and complex networks strongly suggests that unexpectedly similar laws govern the dynamics of these very different complex systems", according to Krioukov. But the nature of these universal laws of spacetime in the universe and complex networks remains elusive.
Social mood is a complex system related to human brain networks, as indicated in Robert Prechter's book, The Wave Principle of Human Social Behavior. The underlying dynamics that are common to both social mood and cyclic or wave models of the universe may suggest a universal law governing the dynamical structure of these two complex systems.
Expansion and Contraction in Waves of Social Mood
Expansion-progression and contraction-regression are fundamental forces underlying waves of social mood. At the heart of positive social mood is the force of expansion, whereas negative social mood is marked by contraction.
Positive social mood generates many forms of economic and sociocultural expansiveness. For example, Prechter has documented that during waves of positive social mood the economy expands and grows, and people become more:
--procreative and expand the birth rate of the population,
--ambitious and expand their goals and efforts to achieve,
--optimistic and hopeful, and expand their sense of potential and range of possibilities, and willingness to take risks,
--socially inclusive and expand the range of people they accept and with whom they are willing to interact. They also expand their tolerance of others and are more forgiving and apologetic.
--health conscious and expand their exercise, participation in health clubs, and overall physical activity. They also expand their efforts at self-improvement in general.
Humans even expand the height of skyscrapers that they build because of an expansive perception that the sky is the limit.
Conversely, during waves of negative social mood all of the above elements contract, as negative sentiment stimulates economic and social contraction and restriction.
At the individual level, noted psychological researcher Barbara Fredrickson has found empirical evidence that positive emotion leads to (a) expansion in the scope of people's attentional focus, so they more readily see the 'big picture," (b) expansion in the scope of their cognition, therefore improving their problem-solving ability and creativity, and (c) expansion in their scope of action, so that they engage in more varied behaviors and a wider range of actions.
Why is expansion--contraction a core feature of waves of social mood? Well, some distinguished cosmologists believe it is also the overriding principle in the existence of the universe itself. This suggests that the dynamical structure of social mood recapitulates the dynamical structure of the universe.
Cyclic (Wave?) Models of the Universe
The standard model of the origin of space, time, and the universe is the Big Bang theory, in which the universe had an explosive origin at a definite point in time about 14 billion years ago, and it has been expanding ever since (the inflationary model). This begs the thorny question of what existed before the Big Bang. As noted by Cambridge University physicist Neil Turok, there are no laws of physics that indicate how time could begin.
Turok, who has collaborated with Stephen Hawking and is director of the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics, and Princeton University physicist Paul Steinhardt developed a cyclic model of the universe. Unlike virtually all alternatives to the Big Bang theory, according to Time magazine in 2012, this cyclic model is taken seriously by mainstream cosmologists.
The details of the cyclic model (CM) are explained in the book Endless Universe by Steinhardt and Turok. Essentially, CM posits that we live in one of two parallel worlds, or membranes ("branes"), that attract each other. When they collide along an extra dimension of space, a Big Bang is created.
"The universe undergoes an endless sequence of cosmic epochs" with an expanding Big Bang that alternates with a contracting Big Crunch. The universe is engaged in eternal cycles of expansion and contraction. There have been many Big Bangs and Big Crunches and there will be many more.
This differs from the Big Bang theory of a single creation event, with subsequent expansion of the universe. In CM, the Big Bang was not the beginning but merely a cataclysmic event in a series of cycles. The universe explodes into existence not just once but repeatedly over trillion-year long cycles.
CM is highly regarded because it is consistent with current observational data as well as with sophisticated mathematical computations. It also resolves some of the problems associated with the Big Bang theory.
These two models of the universe carry differing implications. The Big Bang inflationary model proposes a definite beginning of creation, and an eventual dying of the universe. CM indicates "a universe that is made and remade forever." According to Turok, "The cyclic model emerged from the idea that each Bang was followed by another, and that this could go on for eternity. The whole universe might have existed forever, and there would have been a series of these Bangs stretching back into the infinite past, and into the infinite future...You actually can have an eternal cyclic universe which could last forever."
It should be noted that there are other cyclic models of the universe. Although less well accepted than CM, they too entail repeated expansions and contractions of the universe.
Both Social Mood and the Universe Undergo Alternating Expansion-Contraction
Social mood exerts an exceedingly strong influence on human affairs. In socionomic theory, waves of social mood form a fractal pattern of expansion-progression and contraction-regression that continually repeats at differing levels of scale, from very small to very large time frames. CM posits a pattern of activity at a very long time scale, with repeating alternations of expansion and contraction of the universe.
Social mood and the CM universe display a parallel dynamical structure. In socionomic theory, positive social mood results in expansion-progression-growth-construction, as does Big Bang inflation in CM. Periods of positive social mood are invariably followed by negative social mood, which leads to contraction-regression-deflation-destruction. as does Big Crunch decline, which always follows Big Bang expansion. This recurring pattern of expansion and contraction is present in both collective human affairs and in the unfolding path of the CM universe.
Waves of alternating expansion--contraction of social mood and expansion--contraction of the universe may both be part of a pervasive and overwhelmingly powerful organizing principle of existence, at both macro and micro scales. Dynamic expansion, not statis, is required for existence, and it is inevitably followed by contraction. This pattern repeats itself over and over at both the macro scale of the developing universe and in humans' mass sentiment.
One might object to this comparison on the grounds that Socionomic theory and CM are apples and oranges: social mood deals with collective human emotion, whereas cyclic expansion and contraction of the universe refers to physical objects and states. However, mind and body are closely linked; mood and emotion are grounded in physical structures of the body. Emotion is mediated by physical components of the brain, such as the amygdala. And mood has physical effects and is expressed through physical actions.
Furthermore, our biological and psychological nature is related to larger natural forces. Theoretical physicist Lawrence Krause stated, "Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded...You are all stardust…Our very bodies store within them the entire arc of cosmic history." In The Universe Within (2013), University of Chicago professor and provost of the Field Museum Neil Shubin writes that particles that form us traveled billions of years across the universe; elements in our bodies derive from supernova. "All the galaxies in the cosmos, like every creature on the planet, and every atom, molecule, and body on earth are deeply connected." It is therefore entirely conceivable that forces that affect the ongoing progression of the universe may also influence humans.
Furthermore, even if social mood was in fact completely divorced from the physical realm, this does not preclude the idea that expansion--progression and contraction--regression may be overarching, fundamental forces that affect the path of both the physical universe and social mood, our collective "emotional stardust" (as well as other natural phenomena).
ADDENDUM: Much excitement was generated in March, 2014 by an announcement from the BICEP2 Antartica cosmology project. Their telescopes detected a pattern of polarization that suggested the presence of huge gravitational waves that could only have occurred during Big Bang inflation of the universe. However, these observations need to be replicated by other scientists before being accepted as proof of the Big Bang.
At the June, 2013 American Astrophysical Society conference, Princeton astrophysicist David Spergal argued that the BICEP2 results could be explained simply by light scattering off the dust between stars in our Milky Way galaxy. If he is correct, according to Meg Urry, director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, "the widely heralded BICEP2 announcement was premature at best and wrong at worst."
In September, 2014, data from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite showed that the apparent gravitational waves indeed could have been produced by interstellar dust. The Planck space experiment is able to measure light from the microwave cosmic background at more wavelengths than BICEP2. Consequently, Dr. Paul Steinhardt called for the retraction of the BICEP2 paper. Thus, the cyclic model of the universe is still alive and well.