Updated 27 Dec 2021
The impasse in which modern physics finds itself, in seeking to reconcile relativity and quantum theories, not to mention thermodynamics and the accelerating expansion of the Universe, is well known. Can a Pastafarian perspective offer a more fruitful line of approach than has hitherto been forthcoming?
In the Pastafarian religion, the deity and creator whom they worship is the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), manifest as a plateful of spaghetti and meatballs. In the associated interpretation of general relativity, gravity is not due to the curvature of space but to the FSM kindly holding down every smaller object with one of Its spaghetti strands, often referred to as "noodly appendages".
Because they hold everything down, Its noodly appendages should cluster around massive objects. Might they, or the associated meatballs if the spaghetti is immaterial, be the mysterious Dark Matter surrounding galaxies? Might we be able to test this hypothesis by measuring spectral emissions in the background radiation and looking for the signature of molecules found only in spaghetti or meatballs? Now that's physics!
In the neighbourhood of a black hole, the process of "spaghettification" due to extreme tidal forces when an object falls in has a sound theoretical basis and has actually been observed for large objects falling into a black hole (specifically, the dust and gas cloud created by the recent merger of a binary pair of stars). From a Pastafarian perspective, the presence of such spaghettified strands in the neighbourhood of a black hole presents an interesting theological topic. It is natural to understand them as the noodyly appendages of the FSM Itself. This raises a number of further points.
Firstly, why should a noodly appendage manifest at the base physical level near a black hole, when only its action does so elsewhere. For example the appendage which holds me down is not manifest, but the action of holding me down is very much so.
The suggestion seems plausible that most appendages are so thin they pass undetected, whereas such a supermassive object as a black hole requires an extra-thick, and therefore visible, appendage.
But the extra width cannot be for base physical reasons, it has to be metaphysical: the FSM can size Its appenadges as It pleases and implying It cannot would be heresy. So why would It want to? Might it be a Sign given to the faithful, unarguable proof of Its existence and benificence? Well, it is possible, but the forbidding of any base physical explanation is of course naive; if the FSM wants to adopt such a reason, who are we to argue?
Within the context of the extreme relativistic curvature of the Minkowski metric in the neigbourhood of a black hole, the following hypothesis occurs to me. In this region, it is well known that certain aspects of space begin to become timelike, while time begins to become spacelike. It is unarguable that a noodly appendage exists in time - the one that holds me down will last throughout my life. But let us suppose that it has no existence in physical (real) 3-space. Now bring it close to a black hole, causing its local Minkowski metric to rotate. Its spatial characteristic becomes partly timelike, which means to say that it now exists in space. Hence, we can now see it. But how come it still exists in time? I suspect that the partial rotation of the Minkowski metric causes the appendage to have a kind of partial or distributed existence in both space and time. Only when it reaches the central singularity will it completely disappear from time.
If this is true, then we have here a wonderful example of how a baffling mystery in classical space and time may be fully explained by moving to a relativistic model.
A quantum understanding of these same phenomena is of course essential to any attempt at developing a grand unified theory (GUT) of quantum gravity, or even a theory of everything (TOE) embracing the nature of the Universe as a whole.
For the Pastafarian, the immediate question is how a base physical object such as a gas cloud can transmogrify into a noodly appendage on a higher plane. Clearly, gravity is involved since this is the force exerted by an appendage when it has anything to exter that force on. We may without a qualm therefore interpret the spaghettification of the physical object as a drawing-out along the appendage in question. The partial spatial manifestation of the appendage offers a potential analogy with the virtual existence of many quantum particles. Might this paralell be more than just an analogy? Recall that the Casimir effect describes the exertion a real macroscopic force by virtual quanta. It therefore seems reasonable to seek some virtual parallel in the spatial existence-or-otherwise of the appendage, which is also capable of exerting a real force. The insubstantial appendage might thus be interpreted as having a virtual presence in real space, capable not only of exerting what we might crudely describe as a "Casimir gravity", but also of absorbing the mass-energy of the drawn-out object to manifest itself as a real entity. This manifestation is a slow process culminating, as described, in the eventual meeting with the central singularity. During the observable phase, the appendage and the drawn-out object will progressively exchage virtual and real physical existences, with the sum of the two appearing as a constant mass.
Eric Wargo briefly noted the parallel between noodles and the timelines which replace particles in the relativistic block Universe; an ordinary person like you or me comprises a collection of such timeline noodles temporarily bunched together, with a dynamically changing spatial cross-section, for the duration of our lives. Here, the noodles are four-dimensional.
Moving to the quantum level and speculative Grand Unified Theories, we may note the obvious parallel between spaghetti strands and vibrating strings. Might vermicelli play a role in unravelling the many problems faced by string and superstirng theories and lead to models which are open to experimental test? A unified theory of noodliness and meatballs, backed up by experimental support, might well turn out to be a unified theory of gravity, electromagnetism and the strong nuclear force.
Could Its noodly appendages be sub-dimensional branes within the context of M-theory? Possibly also they might be sub-dimensional intersections of a more fulsome brane (or branes) inhabited more directly by the FSM. Some theorists suggest that gravity might leak out into other branes, the Pastafarian interpretation suggests that gravity might rather be leaking in.
All this begs the question, what about meatballs? is there a minumum size for a meatball or are they essentially point-like and with no internal tolopogy? Are they necessarily of the same dimensionality as noodles? While theological differences over the dimensionality of noodles or meatballs might risk schisms wthin the Pastafarian faith, they might also spur the development of a new physics to help align theology and reality. For example extending Witten's M-theory to M-balls might prove enlightening.
Thus, the Pastafarian interpretation provides significant opportunities to view the problems of modern physics from novel angles and to approach issues of theoretical unification in ways which predict testable physical phenomena. This is more than can be said for many interpretations such as parallel worlds, multi-dimensional strings, quantum transactions, "shut up and calculate", and so forth. Of course, falsifying some given prediction is unlikely to deter the faithful Pastafarian, it is more likely to spur further novel, and one hopes equally testable, interpretations of specific phenomena. For example the early Pirate worshippers of the FSM belived that the stars were the Sun shining through holes in the Night Colander. Their belief was eventually falsified by Copernicus and his successors, but its failure only spurred the development of modern Pastafarian cosmologies such as those discussed here. This cycle of new ideas and new experiments is, again of course, what modern physics so desperately needs.
This author regards both Pastafarianism and atheistic materialism to be faiths or belief systems on a rational par with other religions. Though some are broader in their perspective than others, all seek to bring order to that which we are not equipped to understand; our brains evolved to survive and procreate, not to do philosophy or theoretical physics. However, different belief systems (the author's own included) prove of greater or lesser value to different people at different times.
Similarly the Pastafarian interpretation has, at an ontological level, no more nor less to recommend it than other contentious interpretations of modern physical theories: it stands or falls only on its ability to come up with testable predictions – and to cheer us up.
I once found myself in an argument with an advocate of Everett's parallel universes. He got quite heated.
"I have never seen a proof that parallel universes do not exist!" he declared.
To which I replied, "And I have never seen a proof that the Flying Spaghetti Monster does not exist."
He had no answer. For my part, I was pleased to see Its Noodliness cutting down to size an atheistic dogma as effectively as the religious variety with which It was originally invoked to deal.