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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Desperately seeking the steady state

For some strange reason, some scientists intensely dislike the idea of the universe having a discrete beginning point. I can't imagine why....
The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein's theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.

The widely accepted age of the universe, as estimated by general relativity, is 13.8 billion years. In the beginning, everything in existence is thought to have occupied a single infinitely dense point, or singularity. Only after this point began to expand in a "Big Bang" did the universe officially begin.

Although the Big Bang singularity arises directly and unavoidably from the mathematics of general relativity, some scientists see it as problematic because the math can explain only what happened immediately after—not at or before—the singularity.

"The Big Bang singularity is the most serious problem of general relativity because the laws of physics appear to break down there," Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and the Zewail City of Science and Technology, both in Egypt, told Phys.org.

Ali and coauthor Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, have shown in a paper published in Physics Letters B that the Big Bang singularity can be resolved by their new model in which the universe has no beginning and no end.

The physicists emphasize that their quantum correction terms are not applied ad hoc in an attempt to specifically eliminate the Big Bang singularity.
Let's see. The evidence suggests that "the law of physics appear to break down". That would be non-natural, perhaps one might say, "supernatural". So obviously, logic and evidence must be ruled out of bounds in favor of math that adds up correctly!

The mere fact that the physicists are "emphasizing" that they are not doing what they are observably doing tends to cast more than a little doubt on their theory. Perhaps the math will hold up, perhaps it won't. But it won't surprise me to see this turn out to be about as credible as historical South American temperature data revisions.
Using the quantum-corrected Raychaudhuri equation, Ali and Das derived quantum-corrected Friedmann equations, which describe the expansion and evolution of universe (including the Big Bang) within the context of general relativity.
Corrected, revised... we sure seem to see scientists using those words a lot these days.

Labels:

117 Comments:

Blogger Josh February 10, 2015 1:37 PM  

So if physicists no longer get accurate results, do we still have to trust biologists?

Anonymous Salt February 10, 2015 1:43 PM  

Corrected & Revised. Does appear there is a warming trend of sorts these days.

Anonymous Paul February 10, 2015 1:46 PM  

Warming, expanding, a trend's your friend when you get to pick the start and the end.

Blogger frigger611 February 10, 2015 1:47 PM  

I think they're going to have a hard time explaining away the theory of the expanding universe based on millions of measurements where red shift is observed. But I'll stand by...

Blogger dw February 10, 2015 1:47 PM  

"Our new model shows conclusively that the universe had no beginning and no end, thus doing away with the Christian God and His outdated laws once and for all. Now whos up for an orgy?"

Anonymous farmer Tom February 10, 2015 1:50 PM  

Reminds me of the fools in II Timothy 3.

Anonymous Fisk Ellington Rutledge III February 10, 2015 1:54 PM  

Scientists, in their arrogance, need to be reminded that there are some things that are beyond human comprehension. There are things that are mysteries and will remain mysteries despite the insane extrapolations that scientists seem to be so fond of. Science is an earthly tool bestowed by God in order to facilitate our lives here on Earth. Science is not useful in redefining God or "explaining" God out of existence. Leftists are unmoved by this fact, because their top priority is their need to BE God. Like the petulant, spoiled brats that they are, Leftists and their familiars in the Wonderful World of Science feel then need to be all powerful arbiters of the universe.

Blogger Owen February 10, 2015 1:54 PM  

I don't mind, "corrected, revised." If only other branches of Science! would take a step back in humility.

Anonymous Anonymous February 10, 2015 1:57 PM  

it does sound better than there was nothing then for no apparent reason nothing got super dense and exploded creating the universe.

much easier to make some stuff up then admit the possibility someone up there said bang and started it all off.

-AmicusC

Anonymous Meh February 10, 2015 2:00 PM  

"Corrected, revised... we sure seem to see scientists using those words a lot these days."

This is actually a sign that they're doing science. If the theory is not open to correction or revision, it is not science.

Anonymous Anonymous February 10, 2015 2:02 PM  

Vox I am normally a fan but the lens through which you are painting this is absurd. I personally don't think the theory of a persistent universe presented is correct but the motivations you imply on the scientist are ludicrous. Theoretical Physics and Quantum mechanics are probably the last avenues of scientific pursuit to remain largely untouched by the SJW crowd.

On another note simply revising Einsteins theory of relativity with a variable speed of light under beginning of the universe circumstances also works to explain the breakdown in physics and has been around much longer than the entire SJW movement.

Agree that most science has been corrupted but to imply ideology in the above is not realistic.

Blogger Krul February 10, 2015 2:06 PM  

Brian Koberlein has a blog post up about it.

Apparently the purpose of the model is to eliminate the singularity, since singularities, being infinitely dense, are "problematic". Personally, I don't see why an infinitely old universe is any less "problematic" than an infinitely dense singularity, but I'm no physicist.

Anonymous Alexander February 10, 2015 2:07 PM  

Twofer, we now have infinite time for TENS!!!

A great day for SCIENCE!!!

Anonymous Difster February 10, 2015 2:12 PM  

...and has been around much longer than the entire SJW movement.

That movement has always been around. What are you talking about?

And even without the SJW component (think rocket scientist shirts), the God deniers are still more or less in charge of science and will bend and twist it to avoid the obvious conclusion.

Anonymous old coyote February 10, 2015 2:12 PM  

meh. god is forever too: the intelligent, universal all. keep looking in the navel, priests, maybe some fuzz will panic a wakeup.

Blogger unclesol February 10, 2015 2:13 PM  

But the whole time I was in school we were told that it was foolish to believe in anything but the Big Bang Theory - because science! Does this mean that current scientific thought may not be the final word on How Things Work? Does that mean tomorrow someone else might come along with a completely new theory that explains almost everything and we will be told we are foolish for not just accepting it as fact? Gads!

Anonymous Difster February 10, 2015 2:13 PM  

And infinitely old universe is impossible since all matter is subject to entropy and therefore must have had a starting point.

Furthermore, if it was infinitely old, we couldn't have time to begin with since time is in fact a physical property.

Anonymous Stickwick February 10, 2015 2:15 PM  

Oh, man, I just had to chuckle when I read this article.

The model makes some interesting predictions that are consistent with observations, but even if this holds up, it still doesn't mean the universe is necessarily eternal, only that an initial singularity didn't exist, which in itself isn't even hot news. On the hot-or-not list of the physics world, singularities are so last season. Most physicists don't believe in an initial singularity anymore, mainly because, as the article says, the equations of general relativity break down at that scale.

What is still not in question is that the universe has changed with time. It was observably smaller and hotter and denser at earlier times, and the earlier back in time we look, the smaller and hotter and denser things were. If you try to extrapolate all the way backwards, yes, you end up with a singularity, but that's not necessarily the legitimate thing to do. It'd be like looking at earlier and earlier photographs of a human, and observing that he gets smaller and smaller the further you go back, and surmising that there must've been a point in time at which the human existed as a singularity. But, we all know that every human has a definite beginning and yet started off finite in size. So, there is no reason why the universe could not have had a beginning while being finite in size.

As for why some scientists are eager to do away with a beginning in time, there are two reasons for this, and one should not necessarily be confused with the other. The first is that, as Robert Jastrow observed, physicists like things that are philosophically neat and tidy, and a beginning is intolerably messy for some people. Cosmologist and priest Michał Heller discusses this in depth in his book Ultimate Explanations of the Universe; one comes away from this discussion with the impression that there's an OCD quality to the thinking of many scientists in that they irrationally insist on an explanation for the universe qua the universe. The other reason is, of course, that many scientists recognize the true meaning of a universe with a beginning, which is that there must be some kind of Creative Force behind it. For some, this is far to close to Genesis for comfort.

Corrected, revised... we sure seem to see scientists using those words a lot these days.

In this context, corrected does not mean that they're fixing something that was in error, but rather adding to something that was (and probably still is) incomplete. The Friedmann equations are purely general relativistic without taking into account quantum effects. Singularities -- like black holes and the alleged big bang singularity -- are where the relativistic and quantum realms collide. General relativity and quantum mechanics are exceptionally good at describing their respective realms, but the problem is that we haven't been able to reconcile them.

Blogger Krul February 10, 2015 2:16 PM  

Alexander - Twofer, we now have infinite time for TENS!!!

Actually, no. "The catch is that by eliminating the singularity, the model predicts that the universe had no beginning. It existed forever as a kind of quantum potential before “collapsing” into the hot dense state we call the big bang" (Koberlein). TENS couldn't happen until well after the big bang, so it's under the same time constraint as before.

Anonymous Alexander February 10, 2015 2:18 PM  

Blast! We were so close.

Maybe next time.

Anonymous lost me February 10, 2015 2:20 PM  

The laws of physics break down at the Singularity, as if before the Singularity the universe was empty and dark until something happened and suddenly, there was the Singularity, which exploded into light and planets and . . . that proves Genesis is a lie.

Wow, not following the logic of that at all. Plainly, I'm no scientist.

Blogger Maple Curtain February 10, 2015 2:28 PM  

VD:

In what sense are statisticians and mathematicians "scientists" anyway?

I admit having little to no intellectual curiosity about the origins of the universe - primarily, because I believe it is beyond my ken (and that of my fellow human beings).

So, as a non-physicist, I look on bemused as people doing complex mathematical equations claim to be doing "science."

Perhaps you, or someone else on this forum, can enlighten me.

Blogger Maple Curtain February 10, 2015 2:29 PM  

"Our new model shows conclusively that the universe had no beginning and no end, thus doing away with the Christian God and His outdated laws once and for all. Now whos up for an orgy?"

@dw: that has got to be a thread winner.

Blogger IM2L844 February 10, 2015 2:47 PM  

So, as a non-physicist, I look on bemused as people doing complex mathematical equations claim to be doing "science."

*laughs* Even Geologists smirk as they pass by the "Math Sciences" buildings on campuses.

Anonymous Noah B. February 10, 2015 2:50 PM  

"So if physicists no longer get accurate results, do we still have to trust biologists?"

They don't really care if we trust them as long as we do exactly as we're told.

And speaking of which, global warming isn't the greatest scientific fraud of all time. That title is still held by the pharmaceutical industry.

Blogger Vox February 10, 2015 2:54 PM  

Vox I am normally a fan but the lens through which you are painting this is absurd. I personally don't think the theory of a persistent universe presented is correct but the motivations you imply on the scientist are ludicrous.

From an actual physicist: "The other reason is, of course, that many scientists recognize the true meaning of a universe with a beginning, which is that there must be some kind of Creative Force behind it. For some, this is far to close to Genesis for comfort."

The fact that they emphasized "their quantum correction terms are not applied ad hoc in an attempt to specifically eliminate the Big Bang singularity" without being asked about it tends to indicate that is exactly what they are doing. Especially in light of the equations being "corrected".

Also, please choose a Name, Anonymous.

Blogger ECM February 10, 2015 2:57 PM  

The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.

It's probably worth pointing out that dark matter and dark energy are, themselves, corrections, so it's basically corrections all the way down...

Blogger J Thomas February 10, 2015 3:01 PM  

"Time" actually doesn't exist. It is just a measurement of velocity:

Therefore it's meaningless to talk about a "beginning", because a "beginning" and "end" would only be relative to motion.

Truly, agnosticism is the only reasonable position.

Anonymous Stilicho February 10, 2015 3:02 PM  

It's probably worth pointing out that dark matter and dark energy are, themselves, corrections

Or physicists' equivalent of "Here be Dragons" or the intellectual successor to "aether".

Anonymous Noah B. February 10, 2015 3:08 PM  

Or physicists' equivalent of "Here be Dragons" or the intellectual successor to "aether".

Yep. Show that the stuff actually exists in a bubble chamber, or by some other reproducible method. Until then it's just speculation that helps to force fit the generally accepted equations to the observed evidence.

Blogger sykes.1 February 10, 2015 3:08 PM  

David Bohm's model, which they used, has been thoroughly discredited. Lubos Motl, a quantum physicist working in string theory, has several posts in his archives detailing the various failings of Bohm's model. He also bashes many of the infamous people who want to modify quantum mechanics.

See him at,

http://motls.blogspot.com/

He's also very good on the Ukrainian nonsense.

Blogger RobertT February 10, 2015 3:13 PM  

Define the outcome. Do the math until it produces the outcome.

Good thinking. This is why no one should trust any scientist. They're obviously taught this technique in school.Reading tobacco leaves is preferable. It may be no more accurate, but it's tons more interesting.

Blogger RobertT February 10, 2015 3:15 PM  

The fat hypothesis
East Anglia
South American temperature data revisions
Now this.
How many other frauds have been perpetrated on us by science?

Blogger natschuster February 10, 2015 3:20 PM  

I didn't see an explanation in the paper for exactly what did happen. The Big Bang Theory is base not only on General Relativity, but on the observed red shift of galaxies, and the cosmic background radiation. That's empirical stuff. How do they explain that away? That's why the original steady state theory by Eddington was rejected.

Blogger Krul February 10, 2015 3:23 PM  

natscuster - How do they explain that away?

They don't. They're not suggesting there was no big bang. They're suggesting that there was no singularity.

Anonymous Stickwick February 10, 2015 3:27 PM  

Anonymous critic: I personally don't think the theory of a persistent universe presented is correct but the motivations you imply on the scientist are ludicrous.

Not at all. As I pointed out, not every scientist who objects to a universe with a beginning is specifically motivated by his dislike of the Bible, but many of them are, and unabashedly so.

From the moment there was any hint that the steady-state model was in trouble, everyone knew this brought the biblical creation story into the realm of plausibility. A real turning point was in 1961, when a radio astronomer named Martin Ryle was presenting what was then deemed near-conclusive evidence against the steady-state universe at the Royal Astronomical Society meeting in London. This was such a big deal that Ryle agreed to let the media in on this scoop only if they promised not to print it before it was formally announced. However, some of the newspapers broke the agreement, because the philosophical implications were so earth-shattering. From an interview with Cornell astrophysicist Martin Harwit, who was also director of the National Air and Space Museum:

Harwit: On the way to the [Royal Astronomical Society] meeting where this was to be announced I saw some hawkers who were peddling evening newspapers out on the street right in front of Burlington House in London, and the headline was: "The Bible was right." This was because Ryle had already given the newspapers his results before announcing them to the Society, and saying that the steady state theory was out. The world had a definite beginning; therefore, the Bible was right.

DeVorkin: Did Ryle say the Bible was right?

Harwit: No, that was the headline.

DeVorkin: That was the inference?

Harwit: Yes.

When I was a research intern in the physics department at UC-San Diego, I had the distinct privilege of meeting astrophysicist Geoffrey Burbidge, who was a longtime collaborator with Fred Hoyle (the guy who coined the term "big bang"). Burbidge was a major player in the physics world -- he and Hoyle came up with the stellar nucleosynthesis model that showed how heavier elements are manufactured inside of stars -- and yet he was a staunch opponent of the big bang model until his dying day. Certainly the fact that he was an outspoken atheist had something to do with it. He famously accused other physicists who were persuaded by the evidence of "rushing off to join the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang." He wasn't alone. Among others, I have also heard a well known Nobel laureate physicist state that part of the motivation for developing the multiverse hypothesis was to do away with God as the only contender for the Creative Force behind the universe.

This is what frustrates me about some Christians who insist that the big bang model is an atheist conspiracy straight from the pits of hell. If that were true, you'd expect these atheist scientist wouldn't be trying so hard to do away with it.

Blogger natschuster February 10, 2015 3:28 PM  

Krul:

I was under the impression that the Cosmic Microwave Radiation was consistent with a singularity.

Blogger natschuster February 10, 2015 3:32 PM  

Didn't Hawking do something similar to this in his book "A Brief History of Time?" He used what seemed to me to be a bit of sophistry to say that we don't have to go all the way back to the beginning of we use a "sum over history" model.

Anonymous Stickwick February 10, 2015 3:34 PM  

ECM: It's probably worth pointing out that dark matter and dark energy are, themselves, corrections, so it's basically corrections all the way down...

They are not corrections, they are bonafide scientific discoveries.

Blogger Krul February 10, 2015 3:36 PM  

natschuster - I was under the impression that the Cosmic Microwave Radiation was consistent with a singularity.

Yes, but Ali and Das are suggesting that it's also consistent with their model.

Anonymous Stilicho February 10, 2015 3:46 PM  

t he was a staunch opponent of the big bang model until his dying day. Certainly the fact that he was an outspoken atheist had something to do with it

Doesn't that describe Hole as well?

They are not corrections, they are bonafide scientific discoveries.

Aren't they "widgets" used as potential explanations of observed phenomena at this point? I suppose that could describe gravity as well, but as I understand it, dark matter and dark energy are at least one degree further removed from our observation and understanding at this point.

Anonymous Stilicho February 10, 2015 3:46 PM  

Hoyle

Blogger S1AL February 10, 2015 3:53 PM  

@J Thomas - and yet quantized time is a fundamental aspect of some versions of string theory, which first not follow from this explanation.

Of course, this is likely because every definition of time posited thus far is essentially speculation, especially given that time is not "measurable" in the traditional sense.

Blogger S1AL February 10, 2015 3:54 PM  

*does not follow

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 10, 2015 3:55 PM  

I'm no physicist, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I have never read any notion of dark matter or dark energy actually being "discovered" at all, except mathematically.

In fact, I seem to recall that there have been at least a few big, expensive attempts to discover a dark matter particle that remain completely in vain.

Blogger natschuster February 10, 2015 3:59 PM  

Joshua

I understand that what was observed were gravitational effects that could not be explained by the observed matter, so they came up with invisible matter. Likewise the expansion of the universe was observed to be accelerating. You need energy to make things accelerate. So they invented a new kind of energy.

Anonymous Stilicho February 10, 2015 4:02 PM  

I'm no physicist, so correct me if I'm wrong, but I have never read any notion of dark matter or dark energy actually being "discovered" at all, except mathematically.

and when I referred to them as observed phenomena I should have said they are theoretical particles and forces that would serve to explain or mathematically account for observed phenomena... but that's a little long-winded. Anyway, how would you describe them, Stickwick? My understanding is obviously that of a layman.

Blogger S1AL February 10, 2015 4:04 PM  

Natchuster is more or less correct. Dark energy is the best known explanation for the phenomenon of ongoing, accelerating expansion of the universe. Dark matter is the best explanation for gravitational effects with no known source.

But again, this falls into the category of "functional speculation." It's rather like early models of the atom... They fit the data (more or less) but we're not observable. And I suspect that the result will eventually be the same: the basic premises are correct, the exact principles are not.

Anonymous Stilicho February 10, 2015 4:04 PM  

oy... "potential explanations of observed phenomena"

Anonymous Stickwick February 10, 2015 4:09 PM  

Stilicho: Doesn't that describe [Hoyle] as well?

Not to the same degree. Hoyle was an interesting man; yes, he was an atheist, but it seemed like his objection to the big bang was more on natural philosophical grounds -- that desire for naturalistic tidiness Jastrow and Heller were talking about -- rather than on hatred of God. For that reason, he was able to accept that there was both something very special about the design of the universe and something very wrong with TENS. Hoyle was rather shaken up when he realized that the stellar manufacturing of carbon -- the most essential component for life -- could only happen because an extremely narrow window of energy permitted it. That prompted him to make his famous statement that the universe looked like "a put-up job." He also thought it was extremely unlikely that random mutations had anything to do with evolution, comparing the process to a tornado whipping through a junkyard and randomly assembling a 747. Even if he could never quite bring himself to believe in God (and I have no idea if this is true or not), he was intellectually honest enough to admit these things.

Aren't they "widgets" used as potential explanations of observed phenomena at this point? I suppose that could describe gravity as well, but as I understand it, dark matter and dark energy are at least one degree further removed from our observation and understanding at this point.

That's what I thought until I went to grad school and looked at the evidence more carefully. The case for dark matter is very strong, comprised of multiple independent lines of evidence. In fact, if dark matter doesn't exist, a lot of conventional physics is in big trouble. Part of the reason I'm so encouraged by the acceptance of dark matter is that it shows a touching faith on the part of my colleagues in our own laws. These people are obviously open to the notion of something which cannot be directly seen nevertheless having a strong, observable influence in the natural world.

The argument for dark energy is less robust than for dark matter, but it's still pretty strong.

And, not that it has anything to do with the scientific viability of these theories, but there is biblical support for dark matter and dark energy. The Bible speaks of darkness as though it's a thing unto itself and not merely the absence of light.

Anonymous tiredofitall February 10, 2015 4:11 PM  

"the God deniers are still more or less in charge of science and will bend and twist it to avoid the obvious conclusion." - Difster

And the "the obvious conclusion" is what exactly?

Anonymous Difster February 10, 2015 4:15 PM  

That the universe had a beginning and therefore a creator. Matter doesn't create itself.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 10, 2015 4:22 PM  

I understand that what was observed were gravitational effects that could not be explained by the observed matter, so they came up with invisible matter. Likewise the expansion of the universe was observed to be accelerating. You need energy to make things accelerate. So they invented a new kind of energy.

Yes, I know that---that doesn't address my question. No dark matter particle or dark energy signature of any kind has ever been observed. So... rather than take a look back at the equations that require this completely hypothetical and unobserved and unobservable and apparently undiscoverable substance, we'll just say that it MUST exist because the math tells us so? That's not very good science.

Anonymous Stilicho February 10, 2015 4:23 PM  

The case for dark matter is very strong, comprised of multiple independent lines of evidence. In fact, if dark matter doesn't exist, a lot of conventional physics is in big trouble

Interesting. Anyone trying to isolate and observe it a la the search for the Higgs boson?

Anonymous Stilicho February 10, 2015 4:31 PM  

we'll just say that it MUST exist because the math tells us so? That's not very good science.

No, but saying it MIGHT exist because the math suggests it, so we should look for it...is.

Blogger Krul February 10, 2015 4:32 PM  

Joshua Dyal, I think it's more of a Sherlock Holmes situation - "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

Anonymous p-dawg February 10, 2015 4:32 PM  

If the universe has always existed, they're going to need a new theory to explain why it's still in motion and hasn't reached equilibrium yet. Also why we appear to be heading toward heat-death. Basically, there needs to be a reset mechanism to combat entropy. One that I haven't seen yet (although there is a hell of a lot of things in the realm of physics which I haven't seen yet, of course.)

Anonymous Stickwick February 10, 2015 4:39 PM  

Joshua Dyal: So... rather than take a look back at the equations that require this completely hypothetical and unobserved and unobservable and apparently undiscoverable substance, we'll just say that it MUST exist because the math tells us so? That's not very good science.

Yes, it is, in fact, very good science. You don't seem to understand how science works. We have a body of theories and laws that were formulated over hundreds of years worth of observing and experimentation. This "math" has enormous predictive power, and has served us very well for all that time. So, what do you do when several different unrelated lines of evidence, all based on these well-tested theories and laws, all tell you the exact same thing? Just throw it all out the window because you don't like the implications? That would be very bad science.

Stilicho: Interesting. Anyone trying to isolate and observe it a la the search for the Higgs boson?

I think it is a category error to try to treat dark matter and dark energy as conventional forms of matter/energy, and therefore to try to describe them via particles or equations of state. My belief is that they are different manifestations of one underlying phenomenon that is itself the causal opposite of matter/energy. Thus, where matter/energy is discrete, dark substances are continuous, and you would not expect to find a particle. For that reason, I strongly believe that no "dark" particles will ever be found.

Blogger Thordaddy February 10, 2015 5:02 PM  

Now, there is confirmation... The anti-Supremacist rejects the existence of The Singularity. So what is Kurzweil actually talking about?

Anonymous kh123 February 10, 2015 5:08 PM  

"This is what frustrates me about some Christians who insist that the big bang model is an atheist conspiracy straight from the pits of hell. If that were true, you'd expect these atheist scientist wouldn't be trying so hard to do away with it. "

You have to appreciate that to Christians who aren't of the de Chardin mold, it's like asking them "Which side would you have chosen during WWII - the Germans or the Russians?"...



On some level, it parallels Christians reconciling violence or the doctrine of war with "as harmless as doves", where not every situation's going to be a clear cut yea or nay so as to abide by the latter. Hence the former "wise as serpents," because there's plenty of room for strategy and tactics that can lead to ultimately renouncing those beliefs, in order for victory in this life.

In the science/religion arena, as far as Christians are concerned, not only are there the rigid, lines-are-drawn advocates that hope for their set-piece battle - The AIG folks and their initial writing off of feathered dinos is one example - but there are those who seemingly accept any and whatever gains without possibly counting the cost further down the road - Hugh Ross' attempt to reconcile the ever-in-flux paleoanthropological dating scheme with the Adamic genealogy in Genesis.

How many times have we heard on this blog that what is considered consensus or accepted fact today, is almost guaranteed to be overthrown tomorrow. Most anything that leads to "This finally is a better interpretation of the Word, given our modern understanding" more often than not comes across the same as those newspaper headlines outside of Burlington House. Or, to some extent, the same as how much fanfare either Homo diluvii or Nebraska Man were initially met with.

Anonymous kh123 February 10, 2015 5:09 PM  

...So ultimately, the correct answer is: The Finns.

Anonymous DT February 10, 2015 5:11 PM  

Einstein fiddled with his own math to explain away a beginning. But he was honest enough to admit his error once empirical evidence, red shift, was found.

It's ironic that since then the scientific community has bashed the Big Bang over Christian heads as evidence of a purely natural universe. Those who are intellectually honest know that it in fact points to the opposite: a supernatural creator. That was the bias that drove Einstein to his mistake, and it is the bias that drives some physicists today to grasp at anything which might suggest an eternal and unbounded universe.

There will be increasing pressure to adopt some form of steady state model as it becomes apparent to even the most stubborn physicist that entropy absolutely precludes evolution in a universe the size and age of ours.

I've said it before: TENS died the day galaxy red shift was observed. They just haven't buried the rotting corpse yet.

Anonymous Stickwick February 10, 2015 5:17 PM  

kh123: You have to appreciate that to Christians who aren't of the de Chardin mold, it's like asking them "Which side would you have chosen during WWII - the Germans or the Russians?"...

I'm desperately trying to understand this, and so far have not been successful.

There are two broad options: either the universe has a beginning or it doesn't. One is in agreement with Genesis the other is in stark contrast to it. Science has taken the side that the universe has a beginning. Perhaps you can explain to me what exactly the problem is? Does it have anything to do with evolution?

Anonymous DT February 10, 2015 5:25 PM  

tiredofitall February 10, 2015 4:11 PM - "the God deniers are still more or less in charge of science and will bend and twist it to avoid the obvious conclusion." - Difster

And the "the obvious conclusion" is what exactly?


That life in this universe is a creation, and that the universe itself is most likely a creation. (I'll entertain the notion, based on some multiverse theories, that this universe may be natural and the creator of life happened to choose it among many naturally occurring universes. I doubt it though.)

Put another way: there is a higher intelligence, not of this universe, and therefore not directly bound by the laws of this universe, who gave us life. A God to whom we owe our very existence.

(I could tell you his name and what else he has done for you at great cost. But that part requires a faith leap. The first part is the simple and inescapable conclusion of observation+math.)

Anonymous Noah B. February 10, 2015 6:29 PM  

Yes, it is, in fact, very good science. You don't seem to understand how science works. We have a body of theories and laws that were formulated over hundreds of years worth of observing and experimentation. This "math" has enormous predictive power, and has served us very well for all that time. So, what do you do when several different unrelated lines of evidence, all based on these well-tested theories and laws, all tell you the exact same thing? Just throw it all out the window because you don't like the implications? That would be very bad science.

This sort of thing has happened before, though. Sometimes the math is close and works in some instances, and only requires a tweak here and there to become a more accurate predictor of the physical world. For a much simpler example, Rayleigh-Jeans -> Planck.

I claim no knowledge of the specifics of dark matter and dark energy. But it seems hard for me to believe that we have arrived at reasonable certainty that no other explanation exists for the macroscopic behavior of the universe since we have not yet been able to experiment with either dark matter or dark energy. Something new could well come along and the consensus may change. It was certainly my understanding 10-15 years ago that there was consensus that a singularity had existed. Now, with some new math, maybe we're not so sure.

And there's nothing wrong with having and admitting some uncertainty. In fact, it can be a very good thing. We all like to think that we know more than we actually do, but that pride can get in the way of discovery.

Blogger Longstreet February 10, 2015 7:35 PM  

I've nothing to add, but thank you Stickwick. Your perspective in these sorts of threads is of immense value to me, and I suspect a few others.

Anonymous kh123 February 10, 2015 8:37 PM  

Stickwick;

The upshot is that what seems like a clear divide to those within the fight, looks otherwise like two sides of the same coin duking it out, with the outsider being asked which side they're rather be on. From here, both sides look to lose for varying reasons, but ultimately because like Germany and Russia, they're arguing within the same framework that is ultimately fated to fail with the passage of time. The question "Why would atheists be attacking this framework if there wasn't some truth to it?" would be like hearing either aforementioned Allied/Axis members ask why their enemy seeks their destruction if their model of socialism wasn't in fact correct. To anyone outside of Christendom, it probably looks the same via Theistic Evos vs. Creationists, as a battle over "National vs. International" Socialism.

Anonymous clk February 10, 2015 8:59 PM  

The problem is assuming that the opposite of science is God ..that is if science can be proven wrong, then God is proven to exist. The reality is that if the science is proven wrong, its just replaced with better science.

My faith does not depend on science.. and science shouldn't try to prove my faith is correct. Science is science.. faith is faith...not the same. My personal experience with science is that it increases my wonder of the universe and as such my gratitude to God... but I don't expect atheists or even other theists to share that experience...

Blogger pyrrhus February 10, 2015 9:09 PM  

Just another theory cooked up without any evidence, like all of string theory...

Anonymous clk February 10, 2015 9:26 PM  

"There are two broad options: either the universe has a beginning or it doesn't. One is in agreement with Genesis the other is in stark contrast to it. Science has taken the side that the universe has a beginning. Perhaps you can explain to me what exactly the problem is? Does it have anything to do with evolution?"

One problem is "One is in agreement with Genesis, the other is in stark contrast ".. --- you desire to set your argument up based on the bible story of genesis -- its a faulty premise, a straw man, a bad foundation.. pick you metaphor ... The bible is not the standard for all science to be measured against.

Another problem is "Science has taken the side that the universe has a beginning"... that's the model that been in vogue since 1930... a much earlier science had a flat earth on the back of a large tortoise... if you tie your God to any one science model you are going to be disappointed at some point.

The evolution problem .. because if evolution is wrong then somehow God is right ....why is it God vs evolution... why would God not create a system of feedback's so that his creation would be self correcting over time .. that's what we do all the time .. and he is supposedly much smart than us...

You got to stop this trying to pull science rabbits out of a christian hat...

Anonymous Stickwick February 10, 2015 9:53 PM  

Noah B.: But it seems hard for me to believe that we have arrived at reasonable certainty that no other explanation exists for the macroscopic behavior of the universe since we have not yet been able to experiment with either dark matter or dark energy.

But we have been able to experiment with dark matter / dark energy, to the same extent that we experiment with any celestial phenomena. There are alternative explanations for dark matter / dark energy, but they all have significant problems, which is why they aren't as widely accepted.

I've commented on dark matter / dark energy extensively before. Unfortunately, the most comprehensive discussion disappeared when CoComment bit the dust, but this more recent comment thread still exists.

And there's nothing wrong with having and admitting some uncertainty.

Hey, we're not climate scientists here; give us some credit. We not only have no problem admitting uncertainty, we openly poke fun at it. One of the leading experimenters on dark energy likes to say that the "dark" in dark energy is as much a reference to our ignorance about the stuff as it is about its non-radiative nature. Rest assured that these dark explanations are still very much open for debate and that there is no attempt to hide the error bars.

Longstreet: I've nothing to add, but thank you Stickwick. Your perspective in these sorts of threads is of immense value to me, and I suspect a few others.

Thank you, and I hope so. As soon as I saw that article in the news last night, I knew Vox would be posting on it. Then the main disk on my work computer crapped out on me this afternoon, which is why I had the time to devote to this topic. Kind of serendipitous.

Anonymous Eric Ashley February 10, 2015 9:57 PM  

BB is a mildly clever lie; SS is a stupid lie. Why should I sign on with deranged fantasies propped up with government cheese?

Anonymous Stickwick February 10, 2015 10:01 PM  

kh123: The upshot is that what seems like a clear divide to those within the fight, looks otherwise like two sides of the same coin duking it out, with the outsider being asked which side they're rather be on.

This is the point where I get hopelessly stuck. How can there be another option besides eternal universe and universe with a beginning? How could those possibly be two sides of the same coin?

From here, both sides look to lose for varying reasons, but ultimately because like Germany and Russia, they're arguing within the same framework that is ultimately fated to fail with the passage of time.

Which framework is that, exactly? Again, does this have something to do with evolution?

clk: One problem is "One is in agreement with Genesis, the other is in stark contrast ".. --- you desire to set your argument up based on the bible story of genesis

I'm trying to discern precisely why some Christians have a problem with the big bang. The argument is therefore necessarily based on Genesis.

Blogger frigger611 February 10, 2015 11:29 PM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger frigger611 February 10, 2015 11:30 PM  

As a believer in God, I've noticed among my atheist friends a marked discomfort whenever I agree with their best science du jour. They recoil at the very notion that their ideas might somehow be congruent with mine.
The Big Bang theory? Why of course! Sounds like "Let there be light!"
What a show that must've been!
The atheists make a mistake - their arrogance permits tem to believe that they alone possess the intellect and capacity for wonder necessary to appreciate the import of such an event, such a spectacle - and further, that they were the first beings capable of such sublime imagination.
So now, recognizing a potential agreement with Scripture, they twist with frustration inside empty philosophies.
It's their way - they forever desperately attempt to prove themselves right one moment and wrong the next. This is the Age of Progressivism, in a nutshell.
What a miserable life.

Anonymous TheVillageIdiot(Ret.) February 10, 2015 11:35 PM  

Prof Stickwick:
I think it is a category error to try to treat dark matter and dark energy as conventional forms of matter/energy, and therefore to try to describe them via particles or equations of state. My belief is that they are different manifestations of one underlying phenomenon that is itself the causal opposite of matter/energy. Thus, where matter/energy is discrete, dark substances are continuous, and you would not expect to find a particle. For that reason, I strongly believe that no "dark" particles will ever be found.

So what about a “dark” wave?

Waving laser mouse in a small half circle in front of his face and saying,
“Never pay attention to the babblings of the Village Idiot.”

Professor DannyR
Whats The Matter U.

Blogger Manveer Claire February 11, 2015 2:15 AM  

Although I don't believe in a steady state universe, I don't get how belief in a steady state universe gets rid of a beginning. How do you prove the steady state universe didn't just pop into existence at some point in the past? It would have a beginning in such a case, they just wouldn't have something like an expansion to calculate when it was.

Blogger ScuzzaMan February 11, 2015 2:15 AM  

"the math can explain"

All this shit goes horrendously wrong at this point. Once you make this basic error - and it is an increasingly common error amongst the most high profile, celebrated, and richly funded of scientists - everything you say on any subject is simply wrong and only gets wronger as time goes by.

The math does not - for it can not - explain anything.

At best the math describes, and then only if you're applying the right math to the right situation. (Of which, when it comes to the first 30 microseconds of the universe's existence ... well, let's say that sufficient doubt exists to justify a degree of skepticism.)

The math can explain nothing.

Not least of the things which the math cannot explain is exactly why the math describes anything? Why is it that our universe seems to be governed by such elegant and yet ruthlessly unbreakable mathematical relationships?

Nobody - on this planet - knows.

God says it is because everything we do is a testament to our moral character ("even a child is known by his doings" ... (biblical use of the verb "to know" meaning a deep and intimate experience of that person's nature)) and so the universe is a testament to the unbreakable integrity of its maker ("I change not").

This 'explanation' does not satisfy the unbeliever, of course.

But wise observers note that it actually makes sense, while the claim that the math explains anything is nonsense.

Blogger JP February 11, 2015 2:30 AM  

I thought the science was settled!

Anonymous Giuseppe February 11, 2015 3:04 AM  

Stickwick,
Given your view of dark matter/energy as described in your comments here, how is that different from the suppositions of Harold Aspden (whom I met briefly before he passed) that actually seems to me to have made a pretty convincing case for aether actually existing (if somewhat refined in description from the 19th century version)?

Anonymous kh123 February 11, 2015 4:32 AM  

"This is the point where I get hopelessly stuck. How can there be another option besides eternal universe and universe with a beginning? "

I'm talking about the evolutionary framework and timescale used in either model. Hence the Russian/German parallel: Despite Nazi protestations, both frameworks were Marxist; both operated under socialist economic models... Etc.

Anonymous kh123 February 11, 2015 4:47 AM  

...Speaking as a Christian, the whole argument seems to be utilizing bits (large or small) from the evolutionary framework in order to (as one commentator above put it) find congruity with something atheists agree with, and then using that either rhetorically or (in this case) dialectically to undermine their atheism.

My own opinion is that it's fine as a rhetorical device. The problem is when it's used in the same manner as those headlines heralded in London that were attributed to Ryle. "Science proves the Bible correct," rings similar to "Socialism proves the Bible correct."

Anonymous Giuseppe February 11, 2015 4:58 AM  

Sykes.1
He also bashes many of the infamous people who want to modify quantum mechanics.

See him at,

http://motls.blogspot.com/

He's also very good on the Ukrainian nonsense.


He get the Ukraine story so demonstrably and spectacularly wrong (assumes no US involvement in the coup) I doubt anything he has to say on physics is worth reading.

Blogger Shimshon February 11, 2015 5:33 AM  

Stickwick, when were you at UCSD? I had a job in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences for a time, writing software to test the Electron Drift Instrument. That was in 1990, but I see the instrument itself didn't launch until 1999!

OpenID cailcorishev February 11, 2015 8:16 AM  

How can there be another option besides eternal universe and universe with a beginning? How could those possibly be two sides of the same coin?

Because the secularists, once they saw the Big Bang wasn't going away, successfully reframed it as incompatible with the Creation story of the Bible. To today's layman, BB and SS both fall into the "science says your beliefs are silly" category. So he thinks either A) these theories cannot be true because the Bible contradicts them, or B) these theories prove the Creation story in the Bible is not historical.

To put it another way, to the Christian who thinks the Creation story in the Bible requires a literal 6000-year-old universe (those years being from our perspective), there's little difference between a theory that says it's really 14.5B years and one that says it's infinity.

OpenID cailcorishev February 11, 2015 8:30 AM  

Although I don't believe in a steady state universe, I don't get how belief in a steady state universe gets rid of a beginning. How do you prove the steady state universe didn't just pop into existence at some point in the past?

The comic strip Bloom County offered one possibility:

Oliver: "I'll try to explain this in terms that the mollusk-like brain of the typical layman can grasp: The universe explodes...slowly expands... Then gravity draws it together...it collapses...and *explodes* again! A never-ending cycle...over and over...forever repeating.

Oliver: Curiously, the idea occurred to Stephen Hawking while watching "I Love Lucy."

Opus: I knew it!!

That reminds me: that's the way I was taught the Big Bang in the 70s/80s: not as a Beginning, but as a repeating event with no actual start point. Presumably there was something before the BB that provided the ingredients for it (but totally not "God"), but the Bang makes it impossible to see further back. Is that no longer the case? Do BB-believing scientists now consider the BB the beginning of all existence?

OpenID simplytimothy February 11, 2015 8:32 AM  

I've nothing to add, but thank you Stickwick. Your perspective in these sorts of threads is of immense value to me, and I suspect a few others.

Hear! Hear!

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 11, 2015 8:47 AM  

Yes, it is, in fact, very good science. You don't seem to understand how science works. We have a body of theories and laws that were formulated over hundreds of years worth of observing and experimentation. This "math" has enormous predictive power, and has served us very well for all that time. So, what do you do when several different unrelated lines of evidence, all based on these well-tested theories and laws, all tell you the exact same thing? Just throw it all out the window because you don't like the implications? That would be very bad science.

As I said before, there may well be evidence that I'm unaware of, because I'm not a physicist and don't claim to be up to date on the latest on this question. But I have to wonder; at what point, after years of searching for evidence in vain that would justify your mathematical hypothesis, do you take a step back and wonder if maybe the mathematical hypothesis needs to be revised since you continue to fail to find evidence to support it?

That absolutely is good science.

Again; if there's evidence about the actual existence of dark matter or dark energy that extends beyond the realm of equations, I haven't heard of it. I remember in particular reading of a big super-collider exercise meant to find some that completely failed to do so. Just a year or two ago. But I'll freely admit that I'm wrong if there's research out there that I don't know about.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 11, 2015 8:52 AM  

Aaaaand... there's the answer further down the comments. Thanks for the link; I'll follow up with that.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 11, 2015 9:01 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 11, 2015 9:04 AM  

OK, now I've read them. You have faith in the fundamental laws of physics; that they are unlikely to be proven wrong, or proven in need of revision.

Fair enough.

Personally, I'm a little more skeptical. The same was true for Newton's laws prior to Einstein's revision of them. I'm expecting a Kuhnian shift on the nature of the universe, although I admit I have no idea what that post-Kuhnian shift will look like.

OpenID bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 February 11, 2015 9:21 AM  

That's all very nice.
BTW, "math theory" tells us that Bumble Bees can't fly.

CaptDMO

Anonymous Saint Nic Beard February 11, 2015 9:24 AM  

As a pro-christian atheist I think many Christians perceive most Atheist to constantly be thinking about God and how to disprove him. In actuality those are only the SJW atheist who have accepted atheism and SJW ideology as their religion. Whereas many non SJW atheist don't think about the implications of god one way or another. - because they are atheist and are only interested in religion for is social implications.

Just because the SJW's are the loudest it seems extreme to paint all scientist with the SJW brush. Especially in theoretical physics. Remember many of the prominent man made global warming deniers are physicist.

Anonymous Andrew Spooner Jr. February 11, 2015 10:24 AM  

I recently read Max Tegmark's "Our Mathematical Universe" and and does a very good job of describing a universal that is both eternal in principle but has a unique moment of creation in practice. In other words, "God" exists beyond the boundary of cosmic background microwave radiation. In the later chapters he starts to wax philosophical in a way that suggests he should stick to his discipline when writing scholarly books, but the fundamental premise holds.

Anonymous Stickwick February 11, 2015 10:40 AM  

Professor DannyR: So what about a “dark” wave?

You're on the right track. There is good reason to believe that matter/energy particles are actually waves in some kind of medium. Modern physics has almost made this realization -- quantum-mechanically, it makes sense to treat them as waves -- but physicists are still hung up on this idea of there being no universal medium (the aether Giuseppe mentioned). Einstein more or less brought the aether back into the realm of respectability, but he did so by calling it "spacetime." I believe that, for all intents and purposes, dark energy will turn out to be the aether, aka quintessence, aka spacetime, the universal medium in which matter/energy waves propagate.

In terms of explaining dark matter, the analogy I like to use is pieces of fruit suspended in jello. The jello is dark energy and the fruit is matter/energy. The jello can be warped and wiggled and compressed and stretched -- these are the well-known effects of matter/energy on spacetime. Consider that wherever there is fruit, there is no jello, and wherever there is jello, there is no fruit. Now, what happens if you simply have a hole in the jello with no fruit? That hole would gravitationally act just like matter, but it would neither absorb nor radiate energy. It would be invisible. In other words, it would be dark matter.

Manveer Claire: I don't get how belief in a steady state universe gets rid of a beginning. How do you prove the steady state universe didn't just pop into existence at some point in the past?

How do you prove that you didn't just pop into existence five minutes before posting this comment? You can't. But nobody, including you, would accept this as a reasonable explanation for your commenting here.

Shimshon: Stickwick, when were you at UCSD? I had a job in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences for a time, writing software to test the Electron Drift Instrument. That was in 1990, but I see the instrument itself didn't launch until 1999!

Hey, neat. I worked at CASS the summers of 1999 and 2000 in Tytler's group. Do you remember who you worked for?

Anonymous Crude February 11, 2015 11:02 AM  

Stickwick,

How do you prove that you didn't just pop into existence five minutes before posting this comment? You can't. But nobody, including you, would accept this as a reasonable explanation for your commenting here.

I think another way of asking what Manveer is asking may be this. Multiverse speculation is already popular and respectable. Even if you have a 'steady state' universe, how do you rule out the state being spawned off another universe? Is it really totally unreasonable to entertain that possibility?

Keep in mind, plenty of people treat simulation theory as respectable and an open question.

Blogger ScuzzaMan February 11, 2015 11:22 AM  

The necessity for the existence of dark matter and dark energy is an artifact of an a priori assumption that gravity alone controls the motion of matter on the cosmic scale.

Since the observed motions of the cosmos cannot be explained by gravity alone, the believers in this quasi-religious dogma conclude that there must be missing - "dark"- matter out there.

(Like the missing links. They have to be there, the theory says so! It's the evidence that's wrong!)

They rarely have the humility to question the assumption which leads them to this position.

But electromagnetism, for example, is 39 orders of magnitude stronger than gravity. A small hand-held magnet will snap a nail up from the floor against the gravitational pull of the entire planet.

Inventing unobservables to explain otherwise unexplainable observations is, like Ptolemaic epicycles, the sign of a theory in crisis. A theory with fundamental flaws.

The 'gravity governs everything' assumption is the fundamental flaw in all the modern cosmologies.

It simply aint so.

Anonymous Eric Ashley February 11, 2015 12:05 PM  

Scuzzaman, have you read the later J.P. Hogan stuff? He was a hard sf writer, a Hugo winner when it mattered, an empiricist, and very oa gent the few times I was pleased to meet him. He turned from TENS and also to the Electric Universe.

Blogger ScuzzaMan February 11, 2015 12:13 PM  

Eric,

I never met him in person, but we shared a very friendly email correspondence for several years before his death.

He was a real scientist, open to challenging every assumption, and I learned a lot from him.

Anonymous Stickwick February 11, 2015 12:31 PM  

kh123: I'm talking about the evolutionary framework and timescale used in either model. Hence the Russian/German parallel: Despite Nazi protestations, both frameworks were Marxist; both operated under socialist economic models... Etc.

Why are these Christians accepting the atheist frame? We know from Game that it's a fundamental mistake to accept someone else's frame.

I get the sense that these type of Christians think that astrophysicists secretly retrofitted billions of years onto their data to satisfy the Darwinists. But the fact is, the big bang model has precisely zilch to do with the evolutionary framework. I have my students do very simple back-of-the-envelope calculations of the age of the universe using the observed speeds of galaxies, and it's unquestionably billions of years using this technique. I could show you how to do this yourself in less than an hour.

I'm guessing what happened is that, when all of this was first announced almost a century ago, Darwinian simpletons were dazzled by "billions," erroneously thinking this was sufficiently long for TENS to work. The truth is, what they really need is a de facto eternity, but now, unfortunately, it seems the big bang is indelibly linked with evolution for some Christians.

Anonymous Stickwick February 11, 2015 12:50 PM  

Joshua Dyal: Personally, I'm a little more skeptical. The same was true for Newton's laws prior to Einstein's revision of them. I'm expecting a Kuhnian shift on the nature of the universe, although I admit I have no idea what that post-Kuhnian shift will look like.

Newton is still valid, it's just that we know it's only within certain limits. Einstein provided the broader context by generalizing gravity. Without a doubt we're headed for another Kuhnian shift, but, like Einstein, it will not invalidate previous work, but provide a broader context for it. Personally, I think it will involve the realization that there is a causal opposite of matter/energy that is the universal medium.

Crude: Even if you have a 'steady state' universe, how do you rule out the state being spawned off another universe? Is it really totally unreasonable to entertain that possibility?

And what would that look like? What predictions does such a model make that can be tested?

ScuzzaMan: But electromagnetism, for example, is 39 orders of magnitude stronger than gravity. A small hand-held magnet will snap a nail up from the floor against the gravitational pull of the entire planet.

Do you really think physicists haven't accounted for stuff like electricity and magnetism? There are only four fundamental forces that have ever been observed. The nuclear forces are far too short-range to be of any consequence. Electricity operates on the same distance scale as gravity, and is far stronger, yes. But on very large scales, gravity dominates, because most entities very quickly become electrically neutral, and therefore magnetically inert, as well. That's not to say magnetism doesn't play an important role in celestial phenomena, but it's well accounted for.

Blogger ScuzzaMan February 11, 2015 12:58 PM  

Stickwick,

Your faith is touching, but not convincing.

And yes, I really think.

It is a habit I recommend to all.

"on very large scales, gravity dominates, because most entities very quickly become electrically neutral"

And there it is; the fatal presumption at the core of your belief system

It aint necessarily so.

Anonymous Quartermaster February 11, 2015 1:31 PM  

"Corrected, revised...." are two words that will always be associated with true science. The devil is in the manner in which those two words are applied. The way the so-called climate scientists have applied them is quite full of the devil.

Stickwick, perhaps you can explain how the galaxy holds together over the vast distances with just gravity at work. It might make a nice guess, but the math doesn't work very well. Interplanetary and interstellar space is also filled with that 4th state of matter, plasma.

Anonymous Stickwick February 11, 2015 2:03 PM  

ScuzzaMan: It aint necessarily so.

I'm always open to alternative explanations. So, what evidence have you seen that this is not so? I'd be interested to see your data and calculations showing that electromagnetism can account for the rotation curves of galaxies and galaxy clusters. Also, in what way does electromagnetism account for the gravitational lensing of galaxies and galaxy clusters, the confinement of X-ray emitting intracluster gas, and microlensing in the cosmic background radiation?

Quartermaster: Stickwick, perhaps you can explain how the galaxy holds together over the vast distances with just gravity at work. It might make a nice guess, but the math doesn't work very well. Interplanetary and interstellar space is also filled with that 4th state of matter, plasma.

As I said, I'm open to alternate explanations. Please show me how the math doesn't work and in what way plasma is involved.

Blogger Mangrove_Throat_Warbler February 11, 2015 2:28 PM  

cailcorishev posted:

"To put it another way, to the Christian who thinks the Creation story in the Bible requires a literal 6000-year-old universe (those years being from our perspective), there's little difference between a theory that says it's really 14.5B years and one that says it's infinity."

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^This.

Anonymous Giuseppe February 11, 2015 2:38 PM  

Stickwick,
Thank you!
Your comments are truly enlightning! I like your jelly/fruit analogy a lot, even if...instinctually/logically the concept of a "hole" in the "jelly" doesn't feel right to me, but I think a "hole" could just be a weird "warping" so it works for me.
And SO glad a real physicist like you is "aether positive". May I suggest you look at Harold Aspden's work. I maintain a site for his wife with most of his works there. He has all the maths, that is beyond me, but the logic seems right to me and he did predict some amazing properties of various particles before they were verified by experiments.

Blogger Joshua Dyal February 11, 2015 3:06 PM  

Newton is still valid, it's just that we know it's only within certain limits. Einstein provided the broader context by generalizing gravity. Without a doubt we're headed for another Kuhnian shift, but, like Einstein, it will not invalidate previous work, but provide a broader context for it. Personally, I think it will involve the realization that there is a causal opposite of matter/energy that is the universal medium.

Sure, up to a point Newton and Einstein are both still valid. The point is, the holes in their models requiring refinement started to become more apparent.

I think the notion of reviving quintessence, essentially, as the explanation for dark matter and dark energy has an oddly aesthetically appealing ring to it.

Not that aesthetic appeal is the way to find the answers, but it's always nice when answer have it, of course.

Blogger SirHamster February 11, 2015 3:37 PM  

I have my students do very simple back-of-the-envelope calculations of the age of the universe using the observed speeds of galaxies, and it's unquestionably billions of years using this technique.

Does that assume constant speeds for billions of years?

Anonymous Stickwick February 11, 2015 3:38 PM  

cailcorishev: To put it another way, to the Christian who thinks the Creation story in the Bible requires a literal 6000-year-old universe (those years being from our perspective), there's little difference between a theory that says it's really 14.5B years and one that says it's infinity.

I see. As I said, it's a fundamental mistake to allow your enemy to frame the issue, because, as Vox has pointed out many times, they will lie, distort, or base their arguments on ignorance. So, the remedy is to examine the Darwinist frame and see why it is we can reject it. The Darwinists have framed the issue such that 14 billion years is a long time; so long, in fact, that it might as well be eternity. But the reality is, in terms of TENS, it's a laughably short time, a mere blink of the cosmic eye. Couple this with the fact that the Darwinists don't even have billions of years -- life shows up almost immediately after the appearance of liquid water -- and you see that the whole Darwinist argument is a pathetic sham.

At this point, we can look at the behavior of the more intelligent atheists and try to figure out why it is they're in such fervor to do away with a beginning. The more intelligent atheists, like Hoyle, understand that the real issue isn't thousands vs. billions of years, but whether or not the universe has a beginning. If it has no beginning, it has no Creator, and Christians just have a creation myth with no basis in reality. If it has a beginning, it has a Creator.

Anonymous Stickwick February 11, 2015 3:42 PM  

SirHamster: Does that assume constant speeds for billions of years?

Yes, so it's only an estimate, yet it turns out to be adequate for back-of-the-envelope. And this is where the evidence for dark energy comes in. We can look at the recession speeds of galaxies at different epochs in the history of the universe, and that's where the evidence for accelerating expansion comes in -- the recession speeds of galaxies has been speeding up, and dark energy is the proposed agent for that acceleration. That means we have to adjust the age down a bit -- an accelerating universe is younger than one that expands at a constant rate -- but not by much, maybe 10-20%.

Blogger Robert What? February 11, 2015 6:06 PM  

OK, so if we are pack to steady-state we are also back to the anthropomorphic problem: how did the universe "just happen to" fall into the values for physical constants that would allow intelligent life (or any life) to develop? They had been answering that one with the "multi-verse". Are they now maintaining an infinite yet finite number of steady-state universes? Sounds like they are infinitely trying to have their cake and eat it too. But nothing is too fantastical in pursuit of "proving" that God does not exist.

Blogger Crude February 11, 2015 6:26 PM  

Stickwick,

And what would that look like? What predictions does such a model make that can be tested?

Do I need one? And does it need to? I ask this because, unless I'm misreading, you're a TENS skeptic. 'So give your alternative scientific model' is a stock reply there, as it is with the string theory skeptics.

Mind you, I respect where you're coming from here. But once cosmologists start throwing eternity around, I'm very skeptical about how seriously they should be taken.

Blogger Cogitans Iuvenis February 11, 2015 7:27 PM  

Something new could well come along and the consensus may change. It was certainly my understanding 10-15 years ago that there was consensus that a singularity had existed. Now, with some new math, maybe we're not so sure.

Just goes to show that the science is never settled. I've noticed an increasing trendy by the 'scientific community' in postulating ideas that seem to go against the very foundations that science relies upon. For example, there was the Steven's Hawkins debate, in which he was arguing against the necessity of a God to exist, where he argued something could come from nothing because they had observed some particle/gtaviton/tachyon or whatever appear out of nowhere. This statement is in direct contrast to everything we human beings have observed to date for thousands of years and goes against one of the foundations of science as a process. Now we have a claim that the universe may have always existed, despite all observable evidence that things have a beginning and an end.

What I found interesting one of the commentors postulated "well if the universe has always existed then doesn't that mean that god could have always existed since this would mean that theory would imply that there could be beings/things that do not require a beginning?" It set the forum on fire.

Anonymous Stickwick February 11, 2015 9:43 PM  

Robert What?: OK, so if we are pack to steady-state…

Even if this new idea pans out, we're not back to steady-state. The notion is that the universe existed for some unspecified amount of time, perhaps eternity, as a quantum potentiality, and then the big bang happened.

Crude: Do I need one? And does it need to? I ask this because, unless I'm misreading, you're a TENS skeptic. 'So give your alternative scientific model' is a stock reply there, as it is with the string theory skeptics.

I am a TENS skeptic, and, yes, in that spirit, one need not have a good alternative to legitimately point out that the current model is flawed. That's not what I'm trying to do. My point is that, if explanations like "the universe just popped into existence as is" are going to be seriously considered, then cause and effect have no meaning, and why bother to have an explanation for anything? We don't observe anything in nature to just pop into existence without a cause, so there is no good basis on which to seriously posit that the universe itself came to be in that manner.

Anonymous Stickwick February 11, 2015 10:30 PM  

Cogitans Iuvenis: Just goes to show that the science is never settled.

Never trust anyone who says the science is settled. For the record, it's rare to hear physicists say this in regard to anything in their own field. We've been through too many revolutions to be this mendacious or this naive.

I've noticed an increasing trendy by the 'scientific community' in postulating ideas that seem to go against the very foundations that science relies upon.

That's because those foundations are Christian in origin. The more science is divorced from its Christian roots, the more this will happen.

For example, there was the Steven's Hawkins debate, in which he was arguing against the necessity of a God to exist, where he argued something could come from nothing because they had observed some particle/gtaviton/tachyon or whatever appear out of nowhere.

Stephen Hawking is a formidable physicist, but he's a lousy philosopher. I hear this argument a lot, and it's bogus -- any physicist who uses it is playing sleight of hand with the meaning of the word "nothing." To see why, consider this explanation of virtual particles by physicist Matt Strassler (who has a wonderful popular-level blog):

The best way to approach this concept, I believe, is to forget you ever saw the word “particle” in the term. A virtual particle is not a particle at all. It refers precisely to a disturbance in a field that is not a particle. A particle is a nice, regular ripple in a field, one that can travel smoothly and effortlessly through space, like a clear tone of a bell moving through the air.  A “virtual particle”, generally, is a disturbance in a field that will never be found on its own, but instead is something that is caused by the presence of other particles, often of other fields. (emphasis added)

The emergence of these "disturbances" is not causeless, and thus the notion that the universe could similarly "appear out of nowhere" is not only invalid, it's really just pushing the origin problem back one step. If the universe is a quantum disturbance, then logically that implies there's a meta-universe with its own field(s) out of which our universe appeared. It's not nothing, it's something.

Blogger Shimshon February 12, 2015 2:23 AM  

Stickwick: Carl McIlwain. He did some Space Telescope work too, I believe. It was the coolest programming job ever.

Blogger ScuzzaMan February 13, 2015 2:01 AM  

@Stickwick

I recommend you to examine your assumptions. Imagine, for a moment, that they're not necessarily so.

For example, regarding "gravitational lensing", which is a fantastic attempt at a solution to a problem caused by the failure of the evidence to conform to theory. In particular, to Hubble's Constant.

The visible connections between high red shift and low red shift objects cannot be properly explained by lensing, as the probabilities dont stack up. People accept it as an explanation because it allows them to lazily assume they already know what's what. Re-jigging your mental model of "life, the universe, and everything" in order to accommodate new data that doesn't conform to prior theory, is hard work. Most people will do almost anything to avoid it - especially those who've built careers on specialising in and teaching the prior theory.

Indeed, lensing itself is a highly speculative idea, and to assume it because it allows one to ignore challenges to theory posed by evidence, is arse-about-face. The evidence always trumps theory.

Even radicals like Velikovsky, who recognised the electromagnetic nature of various phenomena, got it right more often than those who so manically accused him of heresy.

On which note, rigid adherence to official dogma smacks of religion, not science. You should know that this is why the host of this blog so regularly refers to scientism as religious conviction.

It is perhaps the most glorious irony of ironies: how often the manic reference to official dogma masquerades as reason.

You will struggle with this, I know, but some people dont even seem to realise they're doing it ...

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