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[P]
The Big Bang: Reasons to Doubt It

By tiger in Technology
Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 08:56:40 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

The belief that the universe began roughly 15 billion years, in a Big Bang, is widespread. Is this belief correct? According to an observational astronomer, Halton Arp, the answer is no.

Perhaps the British free-thinker, Raeto West, said it best: “I regard the Big Bang as a creation myth for our time.”


Briefly, the idea of the Big Bang has the following history:

Since the beginning of human civilization, people have always questioned the origins of their existence, and the creation of the universe. Where did it all come from? How was it created? These are the questions that plagued ancient societies, and are those that still puzzle scientists today. Cosmology, the study of the large-scale structure and evolution of the universe, is the branch of science that has evolved from these questions.

The Big Bang theory of cosmology assumes that the universe began from a singular state of infinite density. As Joseph Silk defines the Big Bang theory, it is a model of the universe in which space-time began with an initial singularity, and subsequently expands. It was first implied in Alexander Friedmann’s complete solution of Albert Einstein’s equations, in 1922 [referring to Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, published around 1915, which claims that space is curved]. In 1927, Georges Lemaitre used equations to devise a cosmological theory that incorporated the concept that the universe has been expanding from an explosive moment of creation.

The term ‘Big Bang’ for these theories was coined by the Russian-born U.S. nuclear physicist George Gamow in 1946.

According to the Big Bang theory, the universe began with one large explosion, which took place about 15 to 20 billion years ago. We now refer to this explosion that began the universe, as the Big Bang, and it is from this theory that we are able to examine the evolution of the universe, from the milliseconds of creation, to the creation of galaxies, and from the formation of planets, to the presence of life on Earth. Because almost all astronomical phenomena can be explained entirely within the context of the Big Bang, or if not completely, can be explained to a greater degree than any other mode, this model of the universe has become the most widely accepted up to this point.[1]

The last sentence in the above quote is an example of just how easily one can be deceived into believing the establishment’s mythology. To understand the unstated assumptions in that last sentence, I have added a few notes: “Because almost all astronomical phenomena [that we have been told about in the information sources we have] can be explained entirely within the context of the Big Bang [according to those same information sources, because we, like most people, are not in a position to contradict any such claims, other than by citing contrary authorities, if there are any], or if not completely, can be explained to a greater degree than any other mode [again, according to those same information sources], this model of the universe has become the most widely accepted up to this point [we assume the Big Bang is true, as we have been taught, so we assume its correctness is the reason for its widespread acceptance].”

Here is the fundamental problem of knowledge that all people face: you don’t know what you don’t know

The key to misleading people about a given belief, is to control the flow of observational data that is relevant to that belief. To promote a given belief, screen out any observational data that contradicts that belief, and, at the same time, present only observational data that supports that belief. If the belief is false, then fabricate, distort, or misrepresent observational data, as needed. As long as a person is only aware of observational data that supports the belief, then that person’s mind, by means of its analytic abilities, will find that belief supported and reasonable.

Regarding the Big-Bang belief, is any relevant observational data being withheld from the public? The answer is an emphatic yes. My authority on this subject is Halton Arp (born 1927), who has been a professional astronomer since receiving his PhD in 1953. He was a staff member at Mt. Palomar observatory, California USA, for 29 years, and, since 1983, a staff member at the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics, in Germany.[2]

Halton Arp’s Observations

Halton Arp has a long career as an observational astronomer. His view of the universe, and the Big Bang, are neatly summarized as follows:

His cosmos is a steady-state universe, with no Big Bang and no expansion, and with the intermittent creation of new matter. Redshift is not velocity related but an inherent property of matter that decreases with age. The basic cosmological unit is composed of an old parent galaxy of low redshift, accompanied by smaller and younger companions with redshift excesses, and surrounded by newly-created quasars of high redshift. Both companions and quasars have been ejected by the parent galaxy.[3]

Astronomy’s symbol for redshift is the letter z. A concise explanation of redshift is:

‘Redshift’ describes the characteristic lines in the spectrum due to hydrogen, calcium, and other elements which appear at longer (redder) wavelengths than in a terrestrial laboratory. The simple explanation attributes this effect to the recession velocity of the emitting source—like the falling pitch of a receding train whistle, the Doppler effect.[4]

My own awareness of Halton Arp is due to my browsing of the Internet, which ultimately led to my learning of his book, Seeing Red [5], which I bought and read. Upon finishing Arp’s book, and realizing that I had been deceived by the American media—which had concealed from me, and from most everyone else who reads the various establishment science books and magazines, all of Arp’s observations—I decided to write this essay. Note that despite my science PhD, and my wide readings in science over many years, I was completely ignorant of Arp’s observations. As I said above: you don’t know what you don’t know.

By Arp’s observations I mean, primarily, Arp’s observation of a recurring pattern in the astronomical data, regarding the objects that are outside our own galaxy. His book, Seeing Red, has many examples of this pattern, shown in pictures and drawings, using astronomical data measured by other astronomers and published in the quasar and galaxy catalogues used by the astronomy profession. The astronomical data includes locations (sky coordinates), magnitudes (apparent brightness), redshifts (z values), and rotation-axis alignments of Seyfert galaxies. The recurring pattern that Arp shows, is that of a parent galaxy and its children. More specifically:

  • A parent object, which is typically a Seyfert galaxy.

    • Seyfert is a galaxy-classification category used by astronomers. Seyfert galaxies are so-called ‘active’ galaxies, characterized by “extremely bright cores whose luminosity shows extensive variability.”[6]

      Most Seyferts are spiral galaxies, with a clearly defined axis of rotation.

  • Distributed along the parent’s axis of rotation (this distribution tends to lie within two widening, opposite cones, whose tips are centered on the parent object), is a sequence of objects (these are the child objects). Because each of the two cones tend to contain the same types of objects, with the same redshifts at the same distances from the parent, the implication is that the parent normally births twins, ejecting each twin at the same speed, outward along the parent’s axis of rotation, but in an opposite direction from the other twin. The child objects include high-redshift quasars close to the parent (with the redshift decreasing in fixed steps, the further the quasar is from the parent), and ordinary galaxies further out.

    • A quasar is a pointlike object (as observed by astronomers), that has a high redshift (when compared to the redshift of galaxies; quasar z values range from a low of about .1, to a high of about 5).

      In Big-Bang theory, redshift is primarily a distance measure (the higher the redshift, the more distant the object), and quasars are at much greater distances than any galaxy whose structure can be seen. However, Arp cites enough examples of quasars with an apparent physical connection to the presumed parent galaxy, to refute the Big-Bang claim of quasar distances. This physical connection typically consists of a line or filament of luminous matter between the two objects (kind of like an umbilical cord).

      Also, as Arp points out, if the quasars are really at the claimed Big-Bang distances, then they should have a random distribution in the sky relative to the distribution of Seyfert galaxies, but they do not: The actual distribution of quasars is not random relative to the distribution of Seyferts. Instead, quasars tend to be clustered close around Seyferts—a situation that, according to Arp, Big-Bang astronomers simply brush-off as coincidence.

      Another consideration regarding quasars involves their brightness. Observed from Earth, quasars are faint objects compared to galaxies. However, if quasars are at the claimed Big-Bang distances, then quasars are roughly 10 to 100 times brighter than the brightest galaxies. Alternatively, given Arp’s pattern, in which quasars are the young children of a nearby parent galaxy, a quasar, like a young child, should be both smaller and weaker than its parent. And that is what is seen: quasars are both smaller and weaker than their parent galaxy, appearing pointlike and less bright. Thus, Arp’s pattern is a more direct and economical fit of the observational data, since, unlike Big-Bang theory, there is no need to claim an extreme intrinsic brightness for quasars.

    • The initial ejection speed for a child object from its parent, has actually been measured by means of radio astronomy using Very Long Baseline Interferometry. About this initial ejection speed, Arp says: “typically moving outward with speeds of from a few tenths of [the speed of light] to nearly the speed of light.”[7]

      Over time, the child object slows down, and, eventually, as it ages and grows, becomes an ordinary galaxy, moving at an ordinary speed for a galaxy (typically less than 1000 kilometers per second; lightspeed is 300,000 kilometers per second).

      Note that the speed of the child objects, by the time they are seen as quasars, can still be as high as roughly one-tenth lightspeed, and this speed either increases or decreases the quasar’s measured redshift (as measured from Earth), depending on whether that quasar is moving towards us or away from us (the actual amount of the redshift adjustment is a function of the quasar’s velocity vector relative to the Earth).

    • Regarding quasar redshifts occurring in fixed steps, this is known as the quantization of quasar redshifts. About this quantization, Arp says:

      In 1967 Geoffrey and Margaret Burbidge pointed out the existence of some redshifts in quasars which seemed to be preferred…. In 1971 K.G. Karlsson showed that these, and later observed redshifts, obeyed the mathematical formula [Arp gives the formula]. This gives the observed quasar redshift periodicities of: z = .061, .30, .60, .96, 1.41, 1.96, etc. …

      Many investigations confirmed the accuracy of this periodicity. And of course, many claimed it was false.[8]

      As Arp comments elsewhere in his book, the observation that quasar redshifts are quantized contradicts the Big-Bang model, therefore establishment astronomers dismiss the observation.

      Note that the observed quasar redshifts typically do not match exactly the values given by Karlsson’s formula, because each observed redshift includes the effect of the quasar’s speed, as already discussed above. However, Arp gives many examples in his book of apparent twin quasars (based on their locations relative to the parent), where each twin has a measured redshift that is offset from the nearest Karlsson number by the same absolute difference, but the two differences have opposite sign (as would be expected for twins ejected in opposite directions from the parent, and at an angle to the Earth, with one twin moving toward us—decreasing its observed redshift—and the other twin moving away from us—increasing its observed redshift).

Arp’s observations refute the Big Bang, giving instead a universe of unknown size and age, in which parent galaxies give birth to new galaxies that undergo a life-cycle that has a clear evolution from a juvenile stage (a quasar) to an adult stage (a galaxy such as our own Milky Way). At present, the observable universe has many examples of galaxies giving birth, and of juveniles and adults in all stages of development.[9]

Miscellaneous

A few miscellaneous items discussed in Arp’s Seeing Red, follow:

Regarding the possibility that the observed redshifts can be explained by tired-light (the idea of tired-light is that light loses energy—progressively shifting to lower frequencies—as light travels across cosmological distances), Arp says: “if we look through extragalactic space, the example of quasars linked to low-redshift galaxies demonstrates that two objects at the same distance with closely the same path length can have vastly different redshifts.”[10] Thus, the observational data refutes any explanation—including both Big-Bang theory and tired-light theory—that assumes redshift is primarily a distance measure.

About cosmic background radiation (in the various science magazines that I used to read, this was a frequent and popular topic for several years after the launch of the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite, aka COBE, in late 1989), Arp says:

Very weak photons, indicative of low temperature, and coming smoothly from all directions around us, were discovered accidentally in 1965. This [cosmic background radiation] was almost immediately hailed as another, especially decisive proof of the Big Bang.

It used to be stated that the Big Bang predicted the temperature of the cosmic background [which is 2.73 degrees Kelvin]. But a review of the history shows that George Gamow predicted T = 50K in 1961. … As early as 1926 Arthur Eddington calculated the photon temperature in and around galaxies as about 3K. Many investigators have since pointed out that if one takes the ambient galaxy starlight, and thermalizes it into lower-energy photons (redistributes the energy into an equilibrium state), one gets closely the observed microwave background temperature.[11]

Another long-time favorite cosmology topic that the American media feeds to the public, is the idea of black holes, which are claimed to be real objects, that are so massive that they suck even nearby starlight into themselves, causing them to be completely dark or black. Arp says: “The greatly publicized theory is black holes where everything falls in. But the observations show everything falling out!”[12]

Regarding academia and the larger society, Arp says:

What could be done, and is not done, however, is to use the observations to rule out a 75-year-old model [the Big Bang] which is presently unquestioned dogma. The mission of academia should be to explore—not perpetuate myth and superstition.

Today, any newspaper, science magazine, or discussion of scientific funding, will take for granted that we know all the basic facts: that we live in an expanding universe, all created in an instant out of nothing, in which cosmic bodies started to condense from a hot medium about 15 billion years ago. The observations are not used to test this model, but considerable drama is attempted, by implying that each new observation may force an important (but actually marginal) variation in the assumptions of the Big Bang. It is embarrassing, and by now a little boring, to constantly read announcements about ever-more-distant and luminous high-redshift objects, blacker holes, and higher and higher percentages of undetectable matter…. For those who have examined the evidence on redshifts, and decided that redshifts are not primarily velocity … the important question arises as to how a disproved assumption could have become so dominant.[13]

*** footnotes follow ***

footnotes

[1] At: http://www.bowdoin.edu/dept/physics/astro.1997/astro4/bigbang.html

The authors appear to be three college students. See http://www.bowdoin.edu/dept/physics/astro.1997/astro4. I have copy-edited the quoted text, to improve its readability.

[2] This biographical information is mostly taken from the following two sources:

http://www.astroleague.org/al/obsclubs/arppec/arphalt.html
http://redshift.home.pipeline.com/arpintro.htm

[3] At: http://redshift.home.pipeline.com/arpintro.htm

[4] At: http://www.heretical.com/science/redshift.html

[5] Arp, Halton. Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science. Apeiron, Montreal, 1998.

I have copy-edited slightly some of the quoted text from Seeing Red, to improve its readability.

[6] Ibid., p. 294.

[7] Ibid., p. 245.

[8] Ibid., p. 203.

In the quoted list of Karlsson numbers, I have given the correct value of .96, instead of the book’s .91 which is a typo.

[9] Where there is birth, there is also death. However, Arp does not discuss galaxy death in Seeing Red.

[10] Ibid., p. 97.

[11] Ibid., pp. 236–237.

[12] Ibid., p. 228.

[13] Ibid., p. 257.

*** end of footnotes ***

Except for the intro, the above text was copied from the first half of my longer article, Big-Bang Bunk; revised in February 2002.

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Poll
The Big Bang
o is real; it happened. 26%
o is what I learned in school (or saw on TV, or read in a book, or something similar), so I assume it is real. 12%
o is a creation myth for our time; it is not real. 11%
o is something I would have to think about and/or study further before reaching any conclusions. 50%

Votes: 124
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Raeto West
o [1]
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o [3]
o [4]
o [5]
o [6]
o [7]
o [8]
o [9]
o [10]
o [11]
o [12]
o [13]
o [1] [2]
o http://www .bowdoin.edu/dept/physics/astro.1997/astro4/bigbang.html
o http://www .bowdoin.edu/dept/physics/astro.1997/astro4
o [2] [2]
o http://www .astroleague.org/al/obsclubs/arppec/arphalt.html
o http://red shift.home.pipeline.com/arpintro.htm
o [3] [2]
o [4] [2]
o http://www .heretical.com/science/redshift.html
o [5] [2]
o [6] [2]
o [7] [2]
o [8] [2]
o [9] [2]
o [10] [2]
o [11] [2]
o [12] [2]
o [13] [2]
o Big-Bang Bunk
o Also by tiger


Display: Sort:
The Big Bang: Reasons to Doubt It | 174 comments (148 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
Says who? (2.80 / 5) (#1)
by andfarm on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:02:10 PM EST

All these theories are well and good, but there is no reason why they have any more possible validity than the Big Bang theory. In fact, there is very little to support them, while the Big Bang is heavily supported from many sources - for example, the microwave background cannot be explained by a steady-state universe. If the universe has always existed in a steady state, then WHY DO WE SEE "YOUNGER" GALAXIES WHEN WE LOOK FARTHER AWAY?!

*Sigh* Some people can never deal with the fact that the majority is generally correct. Sorry.

The majority (2.00 / 1) (#127)
by rasactive on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 07:49:22 PM EST

The majority, in my humble opinion, usually isn't correct. Especially if they didn't each come up with the idea independently. In a group, you are much more likely to just go along with everyone else rather than question what it is you're supporting. Cases in point (for me):

  • I'd say an unhealthy number of people would call "I can't believe it's not butter" butter and actually think it is.
  • A majority of people in the US think George Bush is doing a good job.
  • A majority of people take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (where I don't believe there is any "good" side to take)
  • The majority of US Citizens liked how Sen. McCarthy ruined the lives of suspected "communists" during the Cold War.

    Don't get me wrong. I think each and every individual person has something great to offer. But when a person gets together with another person to make a decision, everything goes straight to hell. Yes, I realize that these examples were very US-centric, but they all involve majorities. Do majorities only apply when they don't exist in the US?

    [ Parent ]
  • Oops (none / 0) (#128)
    by rasactive on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 07:50:15 PM EST

    I forgot to say, however, that I do agree with you on this one. I agree that the Big Bang happened.

    [ Parent ]
    backwards (none / 0) (#141)
    by vinay on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 10:07:47 AM EST

    The thing is, let's say I say "George Bush is doing a good job." Now, I feel I can back that up with relevant points and logical conclusions. Happening to agree with the majority doesn't make me wrong. What if the majority of my peers (defined as "people I interact with") happen to believe that Bush is doing a bad job? Am I right for disagreeing with them?

    I prefer to say, "I've looked at all the facts, and as many viewpoints as I can. This is the conclusion I've come to and why."

    Reading through your post again, I realize that you're not making decisions this way (saying majority says X, therefore I say !X), but it is a dangerous trap to fall into. I've seen people say (as a minor example), "I don't like X because it's so popular" (paraphrase!!). Now, I may not like X either, but I'd like to believe it's because I happen to think X sucks.


    -\/


    [ Parent ]
    Re: The majority (none / 0) (#150)
    by General Wesc on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 09:03:31 PM EST

    Similarly, the majority would say:
    • George Bush is serving as President of the U.S.A. (Correct.)
    • There is an Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Correct.)
    • McCarthy was a senator (Correct.)
    Usually wrong? I think not.
    And these people are laymen! They don't have hundreds of carefully analysed empirical experiments all worked into a (pretty much) logically consistent theory which is agreed upon by thousands of people who've spent years studying it, nor do they have many more highly educated people trying to disprove it, with no success.

    --
    General Wesc
    [ Parent ]
    I'm no astronomer (4.50 / 10) (#2)
    by DesiredUsername on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:04:37 PM EST

    but don't the statements "the universe is not expanding" and "redshift is unrelated to velocity" (esp that last one) contradict empirical evidence? Or are (astro)physicists lying to us as well?

    ana?

    Play 囲碁

    Same question re: black holes (none / 0) (#5)
    by DesiredUsername on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:07:45 PM EST

    What are these observations that see everything falling out? (except for Hawking radiation)

    Play 囲碁
    [ Parent ]
    I'm guessing (4.00 / 2) (#6)
    by spiralx on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:08:44 PM EST

    They're talking about X-ray jets, which are supposed to be the source of many quasars.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    But... (4.00 / 1) (#8)
    by DesiredUsername on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:10:20 PM EST

    xrays don't come out of black holes--they are emitted by matter falling into the hole, aren't they?

    Play 囲碁
    [ Parent ]
    Yup (4.66 / 3) (#10)
    by spiralx on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:12:56 PM EST

    They occur because of the angular momentum of the matter in the accretion disk... which was my point. It's totally within our current understanding of black holes, which makes his claim worse than suspect.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    +1 FP, but... (4.50 / 14) (#4)
    by spiralx on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:06:54 PM EST

    ... only because I think this a load of bollocks.

    Another long-time favorite cosmology topic that the American media feeds to the public, is the idea of black holes, which are claimed to be real objects, that are so massive that they suck even nearby starlight into themselves, causing them to be completely dark or black. Arp says: "The greatly publicized theory is black holes where everything falls in. But the observations show everything falling out!"

    How is this relevant at all? Conventional theories of black holes don't claim that it's impossible for large amounts of radiation and matter to be ejected from the vicinity of the black hole; X-ray jets are a logical consequence of the angular momentum of the accretion disk around a hole.

    If this kind of argument is typical of the book, no wonder it's not very well known.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey

    I agree... so why +1 FP? Make K5 look stupid? (3.20 / 5) (#12)
    by Spork on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:19:03 PM EST

    I worry that there is a kneejerk reaction by K5 moderators to +1 any load of vomit that seems long and spellchecked. We must resist this urge.

    By moderating something up, we are saying that we think it's worth our time to discuss this topic. Now I'm a big fan of discussing just about everything, but really, there are hundreds of far better "outsider" ideas in cosmology. This one is moronic (as you have noticed). Moderation should not be a reward for work put in, but rather reflect the degree to which we think the article presents something we need to think or talk about. It should be obvious in this case that this rubbish is not something we need to spread wider to the K5 main page. Perhaps a section page, but even there, it makes us moderators look pretty bad.

    For you non-physicists: A good rule of thumb to judge a physics idea is to see whether it has been published in a refereed journal. Many "outsider" ideas are. If not, it's probably the work of a hack trying to cash in on a credulous public.

    [ Parent ]

    Here you go (4.33 / 3) (#15)
    by quartz on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:29:50 PM EST

    A good rule of thumb to judge a physics idea is to see whether it has been published in a refereed journal

    Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, physicists and non-physicists alike can take a look at some of what the guy published in peer-reviewed journals. Now can we vote it up?



    --
    Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
    [ Parent ]
    Good link, thank you! (3.00 / 2) (#52)
    by Spork on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 01:57:49 AM EST

    Now the story should be rewritten with this link. I actually took a look at some of those pdfs and they look like responsible research. I now have a feeling that my objection is more to the way the K5 submission was written up. Anyway, I think the case needs to be made that this Arp is not merely a crank. Also, just what sort of universe does he propose we live in, if not an expanding one? A static universe? What of Obler's paradox? If these basic questions are answered then the story will graduate from physics-crank to physics worth discussing (though still probably wrong).

    [ Parent ]
    I think it's good to raise this topic (4.66 / 6) (#17)
    by SIGFPE on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:32:24 PM EST

    For one thing most people aren't in a position to make a judgement call about whether this article is moronic. It's probably better that these things are openly discussed rather than have members of a physics elite automatically mod them down for the benefit of those outside that elite. At the very least you might like to demonstrate exactly why it's moronic because to an outsider it might not seem that way. Of course it's probably not worth your time to do this with every crackpot theory but these things aren't all that common on K5.
    SIGFPE
    [ Parent ]
    I voted to section (2.75 / 4) (#18)
    by DesiredUsername on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:33:15 PM EST

    That way the article author can't claim his "alternative views" are being suppressed. Which is about the only "logical" leg the entire thing stands on.

    Play 囲碁
    [ Parent ]
    To reveal that K5 *is* stupid. (5.00 / 5) (#30)
    by elenchos on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:46:11 PM EST

    Not to make it "look" stupid. It's just a website. It's fun. Take it easy, and don't worry that it's going to cause loss of life if some bullshit gets posted. If anything, the danger is that too many factual stories get posted and some poor niave fool starts to take the Internet seriously.

    We're all doomed it that ever happens, let me tell you.

    Adequacy.org
    [ Parent ]

    A Question (4.09 / 11) (#7)
    by Lord of the Wasteland on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:09:20 PM EST

    Regarding the Big-Bang belief, is any relevant observational data being withheld from the public? The answer is an emphatic yes.

    Really? Then why are you citing a published book? Does it not contain observational data?

    Personal Confusion (4.00 / 6) (#9)
    by Woundweavr on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:12:40 PM EST

    I have the basic understanding of relativity and curved space and even a little bit of modern theoretical physics. One thing has always confused me, however, about the Big Bang theory.

    If the universe began with this explosion of an infinitely dense particle, why is the universe irregularly dense? If this is the creation of the universe, nothing could have slowed the matter and energy that was released(other than perhaps the speed of light, I guess) in one direction more or less than another. As the matter and energy originated from the same source as a part of the same process, shouldn't the universe be homogenous in make up and distribution? That is, why are there wide gaps of empty space between galaxies, and between solar systems? It seems like it should have either created one central mass in the center of the universe, or a wave containing all mass and energy traveling at the same velocity in an equally distributtion and homogenous makeup. Anyone see the (most likely painfully obvious) thing I am missing?

    Density (5.00 / 6) (#13)
    by spiralx on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:19:29 PM EST

    If the universe began with this explosion of an infinitely dense particle, why is the universe irregularly dense?

    Quite simply: quantum fluctations.

    This is actually tied to another problem called the horizon problem, which asks why no matter where we look the Universe is the same temperature - we can point our telescopes in one direction and then the opposite and despite the two areas being too far away for light (and hence any information) to have travelled that far within the age of the Universe each area looks the same.

    The answer there is inflationary theory - in which before inflation our entire Universe was a microscopic area of a larger whole within which conditions were uniform because the whole area was causally connected ie. light could travel across it. The process of inflation drove expansion far, far faster than the speed of light, but because it was initially uniform afterwards it was as well.

    However because of quantum randomness there were slight variances in the expansion, and we end up with slight variations in mass distribution, or alternatively exotic objects like quantum strings. These are sufficient to give rise to areas of greater density and thus galaxies and so on.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Why not perfectly smooth? (none / 0) (#148)
    by Hector Plasmic on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 03:50:24 PM EST

    I'd take exception with your description of the universe beginning as the explosion of an infinitely dense particle -- that would be a rather bad analogy.

    The Heisenberg uncertainty principle wouldn't permit a perfectly smooth universe, I'd guess.  Early fluctuations then become large over time.  That's drastically oversimplified, and as I understand it the answer's not fully known yet.  But maybe that's something you can hang your hat on.

    [ Parent ]

    Big Bang versus Inflation+Big Bang (4.66 / 6) (#20)
    by khallow on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:49:20 PM EST

    Well, while we're on the subject of questioning the Big Bang, there's also the matter of whether it had or didn't have "Inflation" associated with it. The Inflationary model of the Big Bang involves a period of unusually rapid expansion ("exponential" is a common buzzword). My understanding is that this expansion is associated with the phase change from a strange matter universe to the current normal matter universe. Needless to say, this hasn't been proven either, but is fairly standard for many cosmologists.

    As I understand it, the biggest problem with the steady-state theories is that no matter or energy creation has been observed. Neither has an macroscopic entropy-reversing operation. So there's no indication (IMHO) that what created the universe can actually be observed!

    Stating the obvious since 1969.

    Not strange matter (5.00 / 3) (#73)
    by spiralx on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 08:48:29 AM EST

    Strange matter is matter made up from strange quarks, which are a part of the Standard Model and exist in our Universe, if only for very brief amounts of time before they decay.

    The term you're looking for is "false vacuum" - the meta-stable state in which the energy of the vacuum itself it higher than it is now. Inflation occurs when through quantum tunneling the vacuum suddenly jumps through a local maxima and down to our stable, "true vacuum". The energy released through this process is what drives inflation. IIRC :)

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Strange matter (4.00 / 1) (#79)
    by khallow on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 11:58:34 AM EST

    Oh? I should have remembered that, except I probably deliberated deleted the relationship between "false vacuum" and "Inflation" from my memory as a voodoo science thing. My mistake, although I still think it's inexcusable to lob the Inflationary theory around like a well-established theory when no one has observed a "false vacuum" (or whatever the deux machina turns out to be). A windmill for me to tilt at...

    Stating the obvious since 1969.
    [ Parent ]

    And how... (3.85 / 7) (#23)
    by yicky yacky on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 09:57:41 PM EST

    ...the bloody hell does Mr. Arp explain away Saul Perlmutter and others recent work regarding the visible red shift in supernovae, which suggests very strongly that not only is the universe expanding, but that the expansion is accelerating?

    I'd like to know...


    Yicky Yacky
    ***********
    "You f*cking newbie. Shut up and sit in the corner!" - JCB
    Interesting... (4.66 / 3) (#34)
    by Matrix on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:54:54 PM EST

    This sounds very interesting. Since you seem knowledgable about it, would you care to provide a short summary of the facts and theories, and what the practical (er... Well, practical for astrophysics ;) ) upshot is? Might even be worth posting a story.


    Matrix
    "...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
    - Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
    [ Parent ]

    I'd love to... (none / 0) (#172)
    by yicky yacky on Fri May 03, 2002 at 03:01:19 AM EST

    ...but I fall into the category of 'probably erroneously over-informed fascinated layman' and would not consider myself to be the expert needed to give it the thorough treatment it deserves.

    On top of that, I'm up to my arse in a severely heavy workload (hence only posting the google links and not rooting out some original texts), not made any lighter by reading K5 throughout the day far more than I should ;D, and haven't got anywhere near the amount of time needed to do it justice - perhaps later - circa autumn...


    Yicky Yacky
    ***********
    "You f*cking newbie. Shut up and sit in the corner!" - JCB
    [ Parent ]
    He would probably say ... (5.00 / 2) (#137)
    by Stealth Tuna on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 06:21:19 AM EST

    That increased redshift is simply a property of supernova matter :)

    [ Parent ]
    Scientific Response (4.64 / 17) (#26)
    by Dolohov on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:28:21 PM EST

    What could be done, and is not done, however, is to use the observations to rule out a 75-year-old model [the Big Bang] which is presently unquestioned dogma.

    Yes, it could be done. Every honest scientist will tell you that there are observations that, were they actually made, would cast serious doubt on the Big Bang theory. The sharper astro-physicists will probably have a running list in their heads of the sort of things that would persuade them to change their minds about the Big Bang.

    Why? Because scientists are perverse people. In the history of science, there has been a great tradition of enjoying the act of proving the established theories wrong. Our greatest scientific heroes are the ones who showed everyone that what they "knew" was wrong. It is this tradition that drives scientific ambition, and is the reason why I no longer read articles purporting cold fusion. It does not make sense that scientists would suppress findings that fly in the face of tradition. The minute someone showed that the Big Bang theory is seriously in doubt, twenty or thirty astro-physicists would come out of the woodwork proclaiming that their pet theory fits that result exactly.

    Let me remind you something. There are a lot of creation myths out there. People believe(d) most of them because they were told to believe them. Most people who believe that the Big Bang occurred do so because they were persuaded that it was true, or at least that the methodology that arrived at it was sound. I've listened to the explanations, and seen some of the evidence, and I have firm confidence in the ability of observation and deductive reasoning to explain the world. The Big Bang theory satisfies my criteria for making sense, and what I've seen of Dr. Arp's evidence (I should note that I base this entirely on this article and the links, and have not read his book) fails to persuade me that it does not make sense. That I am accused of being duped by the media in a scientific cover-up and encouraged to believe that they are doing so to protect a theory that a lot of "establishment" physicists would give their left thumbs to disprove or radically alter, well, that just insults me.

    Just to play devil's advocate... (4.00 / 1) (#46)
    by Khedak on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 12:05:44 AM EST

    It does not make sense that scientists would suppress findings that fly in the face of tradition.

    That's true, but nor does it make sense that politicians elected to serve the public would abuse their power and exploit the public to maintain their position. Or that judges and lawyers will pay more attention to personal and professional loyalties than to the law when acting in an official capacity. The point is, interpersonal politics, personal ambition, greed, corruption, and fraud are actually a lot more common in the scientific community than most people are aware. And it makes sense, too: Scientists base their livelihood on their credibility, just like lawyers and politicians, moreso than other professions. Scientists can use their findings to support the promotion of a company's product, or to influence policy and legislation. And which scientific theories get published in the first place is largely a matter of interpersonal politics as well, while anything that can't get published is denounced as lacking "proper peer-review." I digress, most scientists are honest. But the question is, how many are corrupt, and is it enough for us to be wrong about something as important as this? Well, it's happened in the past...

    That I am accused of being duped by the media in a scientific cover-up and encouraged to believe that they are doing so to protect a theory that a lot of "establishment" physicists would give their left thumbs to disprove or radically alter, well, that just insults me.

    Well, which "establishment" physicists have the most to lose through evidence not supporting the theory? How much money and clout do they have, how much control over publishing and funding? These are the sort of things that need to be asked if you really want to know if you're being duped.

    [ Parent ]
    OK (4.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Dolohov on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 12:39:16 AM EST

    You're right, I overstated myself in characterizing all scientists, when I should perhaps have said that it did not make sense for astrophysicists to act to protect tradition. Scientists in general, while generally honest people, have been known to turn a blind eye to certain proofs and evidences so that their employers may profit, or to enhance their own prestige. However, in many sciences, the money and reputations are most easily made by neither rigid adherence to "dogma", nor by wildly going from theory to theory, but from a careful balance between orthodoxy and cavalierism.

    As for whether the orthodoxy has enough clout and money to successfully dupe me, well, my cousin is an astrophysicist, and it sounds to me that even the most successful telescopes and departments (Except, possibly, NASA) run on a shoestring budget. Besides, it seems to me that the moneyed interests in determining the origin of the universe are all arguing against the Big Bang, anyway.

    [ Parent ]

    "hard" sciences versus "soft" (4.66 / 3) (#60)
    by martingale on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:28:10 AM EST

    While you have a point, I think it's more applicable to the "soft" sciences.

    Physics, together with Maths and Chemistry share a property which you won't find so readily in other sciences: its practicioners agree to very precise definitions for the central concepts. That means that most debates can be decided one way or another with broad concensus. It also means that pulling a fast one based on one's reputation is very hard.

    In contrast, the softer sciences don't always agree on the exact meaning of the terms employed. For example, economics has several schools of thought on the subject of *value*. What is the value of a good? Is it the free market price, or the value of the labour required to produce it? This makes it rather less difficult to argue opposite points of view, and means that unscrupulous individuals have an easier time coopting scientific ideas to their own ends.



    [ Parent ]

    that's just romantic scientism (4.66 / 3) (#57)
    by eLuddite on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 02:31:55 AM EST

    In the history of science, there has been a great tradition of enjoying the act of proving the established theories wrong.

    You've just managed to invert the history of science. There is, in fact, a great tradition of orthodoxy in science. Scientific work, and perhaps more importantly, scientific reputations, are overwhelmingly concerned with gathering data, solving incidental puzzles and refining theories within the established paradigm.

    Tweaking, in a word; but while tweaking advances technology, it does very little to advance our understanding of nature beyond the current paradigm.

    It is very difficult for adherents of the scientific establishment -- scientists -- to overcome their banality and evaluate unorthodox work because unorthodox work comes without an established framework and process. Furthermore, the framework and process that is established is the ideological machinery responsible for suggesting the direction, approaches and questions working scientists undertake. "Normal" science is a snake consuming its tail.

    The normal course of science is constraint, not revolution, and scientists who think outside of the box are terminally unemployed. If you actually examined the history of scientific revolutions, you would know that rebellious, unindoctrinated young scientists without pedigree or reputation, but with considerable opposition in the academic community, are the source of your romantic revisionism.

    Read Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

    ---
    God hates human rights.
    [ Parent ]

    Sort Of (4.00 / 2) (#104)
    by Dolohov on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 09:01:20 PM EST

    We're both right, in a way. There is a long tradition of scientific orthodoxy, you're right, but it's a tradition residing in non-scientific and para-scientific organizations, such as the Catholic Church and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, although some of the royal science societies could be just as guilty. A lot of people who were never scientists, or who stopped being scientists worked very hard to suppress some scientific findings. The stories of Copernicus, Galilei, and Heaviside will all attest to that.

    Among individual scientists, however, the tradition was much the opposite. Every scientist whose writings I've read has expressed a desire, if not to outright prove the established theories wrong, to at least seriously push the envelope and discover something that nobody else did. The best way to do that, most found, was to attach themselves to brand new theories (The Copernican model, non-Euclidean geometry, relativity theory, etc) Now, the method that many other scientists chose was to go with the established theories as far as they could, and, true, some of them reached conclusions that they could not accept. But when that happened, I would argue, it was a result of personal stubborness rather than a desire to protect the establishment (The glaring exception may be Einstein's rejection of some of Heisenberg's results)

    The distinction that I'm trying to make here is that between scientists themselves and those people associated with science who are not doing any substantive work in the field. As it turns out, this distinction is very important to this particular article: Is Arp's work being rejected by scientists themselves because it is not sufficient to disprove the Big Bang? Or is it being rejected by the scientific presses and organizations who (For unstated reasons) seek to suppress anything that disproves the Big Bang? The popular opinion here seems to be that the former is the case.

    [ Parent ]

    Would that it were so. (none / 0) (#151)
    by freebird on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 09:23:05 PM EST

    There is a long tradition of scientific orthodoxy, you're right, but it's a tradition residing in non- scientific and para-scientific organizations

    Sadly, and while I share some of your faith in science as a community, I must disagree. Read Stephen Jay Gould's piece (in Ever Since Darwin, a 'collected works') about Plate Tectonics. He shows the tremendous (and vicious) force of orthodoxy that held back the acceptance (and even discussion) of Plate Tectonics for decades, in spite of sound evidence.

    Then he argues that this was not due to ego and power dynamics, but the scientific process at work - while there was strong,sound evidence, there was no theory yet, so it wasn't a good enough explantion to pass the gate. So there can be strong forces of orthodoxy within the community - but sometimes (sadly, not always) there are good reasons for this.

    ...TAGGATC...(etc)
    [ Parent ]

    Good Example (4.00 / 1) (#154)
    by Dolohov on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:51:20 PM EST

    There is going to be some of that, especially in smaller, more closely-knit fields.  Especially when nearly everyone involved has contributed to a given theory, it's going to take a lot to disprove that theory.  With plate tectonics in particular, you have to admit that the whole idea requires leaping a rather large mental hurdle.  I don't think that it has a lot to do with orthodoxy, as it does with human nature and sheer inertia.  Any time a radical change in thinking is imminent, people balk -- people become inherently suspicious when told that they've been doing (or thinking) things the wrong way.  But I think that scientists tend to be slightly better than the population at large when dealing with that kind of upset.  Nothing provably true has been suppressed for very long, except by non- and para-scientific groups.  The public perception is that this is not the case, but that perception, I would argue, is largely formed by proponents of creationism, astrology, and ESP -- people who cannot provide solid, repeatable evidence of their claims, and assume that the resulting skepticism must be personal.

    But those inertial forces of ego and orthodoxy are still there, I admit.  If quantum theory had been introduced merely fifteen years later, I suspect that it STILL would not be widely accepted, and nasty attacks would still be going back and forth.  Almost every major theory went through a period where the proponents were subject to nasty personal attacks.  But in most cases, that period was remarkably short, considering that the state of communications (Especially in the pre-telephone era) meant that debates which today would take days, would then have taken months (Or maybe years, if the participants were very spread out)  We're a little spoiled, these days, by the rapid rate of progress, that we forget that people's minds still take just as long to change and adjust.

    What it comes down to is that science gets new blood at a remarkable rate.  The current system by which new students must contribute to the state of knowledge, has sped up the process of scientific progress more than it is generally given credit for.  I think that if they were required to merely understand the existing state of the art, things would be much different.

    [ Parent ]

    We still don't know what we don't know (4.00 / 12) (#27)
    by mech9t8 on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:30:46 PM EST

    The problem is, we still don't know enough to say whether this guy's bullshitting or not. Tons of reputable scientists believe that the universe is likely expanding from some sort of big bang; this guy, apparently, does not.

    We have no way of gauging the accuracy of his observations, and the validity of his conclusions. This is merely some more information which we can add to other information we may have that we may find interesting, but are unqualified to judge.

    So either (a) lose the whole "we're being lied too" aspect and present it as an alternate theory to the popular big bang theories, and/or (b) actually present *both* sides of the arguments, including arguments, articles, and links from other scientists specifically addressing Arp's theories so we have some sort of context. As it is, this is just single-source rebuttal of things which are taken for granted in society, and, as such, screams "crackpot!"

    So, -1 from me for the article in its present form.

    --
    IMHO
    I have always suspected this was their plan. (3.63 / 19) (#28)
    by elenchos on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:36:59 PM EST

    In a nutshell, it goes something like this:
    1. Fool masses into believing in this "Big Bang" tripe.
    2.  
    3. Profit!!!
    But no more; the jig is up.

    Excellent work. On behalf of the entire human race, I thank you for finally revealing their wickedly clever plot.

    Adequacy.org

    Response from a Christian Astrophysicist (4.75 / 12) (#29)
    by xriso on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:42:32 PM EST

    Here. There is also this: List of 8 evidences against steady-state cosmology.

    Sure, keep it as a hypotheses, but I would strongly recommend preference for the (hot inflationary) Big Bang. There is no conspiracy among scientists. There is no way you could get them to agree on any one thing.
    --
    *** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

    Missing Poll Option (4.00 / 12) (#32)
    by Stickerboy on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:50:34 PM EST

    "It currently provides the best fit of any theory for the evidence we have, so I'll believe in it until a better theory comes along."



    -1 Arp is way out of date (4.36 / 11) (#33)
    by arthurpsmith on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:54:33 PM EST

    I heard arguments about Arp's theories back in the late 1980's - it was possible to show he was most likely wrong (statistically and empirically) back then, and there's yet more evidence that has piled up since then. The detailed numerical simulations and comparisons with the facts on the cosmic background radiation are one big part of the story; the recent discovery that the acceleration of the universe is not only there, but accelerating is another major piece.

    What exactly is the "big bang" theory these days? The "inflationary" cosmology currently in favor doesn't really specify too much about the very earliest times with highest temperatures and densities; the strong evidence for accelerating expansion also doesn't exactly determine what the far future of the universe holds. In fact, a recent proposal from Steinhart at U. Penn suggests a new form of the "oscillating" universe theory, where the background fields responsible for inflation and the accelerating expansion suddenly switch to a mode where they bring about deceleration and contraction, and then a "big bang" all over again.

    In any case, none of the current serious cosmologists give Arp any serious thought these days - the field has moved far beyond these early speculations.

    Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


    Steinhardt theory (4.50 / 2) (#39)
    by arthurpsmith on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 11:49:35 PM EST

    Here's a link to the Steinhardt cyclic universe theory. Steinhardt and company were also responsible for another "cause of the big bang" theory in their "Ekpyrotic Universe" model last year - this new cyclic universe theory is based on a new understanding of the "dark energy" that is causing the accelerating expansion right now.

    Anyway, the point is, there's no rigid conformity within cosmology - all sorts of theories are explored and discarded. Arp's was explored and discarded several decades ago, and the latest evidence in cosmology makes it even clearer Arp is just wrong.

    Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


    [ Parent ]
    Excellent timing, +1FP (4.45 / 11) (#35)
    by onyxruby on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 10:56:42 PM EST

    Excellent timing, especially poignant considering that just this week more secondary evidence to support the big bang came out. There's an excellent article on Cosmiserve.com describing how Hubble has been able to more closely age the Universe. I'll blockquote part of it for you in case you for reference.
    Because earlier Hubble observations show that the first stars formed less than 1 billion years after the universe's birth in the big bang, finding the oldest stars puts astronomers well within arm's reach of calculating the absolute age of the universe.
    I'd also like to point out an article I wrote some time back here on K5 that also gives secondary supporting evidence of the big bang. In short the universe itself carries a resonate tune, made possible by the big bang. One of my original sources is now a dead link, but you can find collaborating evidence here at this Boomerang press release. Under these unique odd circumstances I'm actually going to blockquote myself, as I don't feel like rewriting the same thing again.
    The soundwaves that were found are an impression of quantum scale energy fluctuations carried to earth by cosmic microwave background radiation. Scientists were able to measure the waves by looking at cosmic microwave background (CMB). These early soundwaves are thought to have created super and giant clusters of galaxies with their travel. The soundwaves are actually contained in primordial plasma. They are effectively overtones or harmonics of the big bang explosion that is said to have created the universe.
    I think this is an excellent example of an article that I can vote for whilst strongly disagreeing with almost the entire premise. I will however blockquote one thing that you write that I believe you hit the nail on:
    The key to misleading people about a given belief, is to control the flow of observational data that is relevant to that belief. To promote a given belief, screen out any observational data that contradicts that belief, and, at the same time, present only observational data that supports that belief. If the belief is false, then fabricate, distort, or misrepresent observational data, as needed. As long as a person is only aware of observational data that supports the belief, then that person's mind, by means of its analytic abilities, will find that belief supported and reasonable.
    I gave you the +1FP as much for this paragraph as I did anything else. I think your observation here is especially true insofar as matters of religion and especially propaganda are concerned. Study historical masters of propaganda like Joseph Goebbels and you can see how well they implemented the practices of what you wrote. This practice is still widely used today throughout parts of the world, and one could easily do an entire article on this alone.

    The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

    why not discuss binaries? (3.37 / 8) (#36)
    by jfkominek on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 11:33:34 PM EST

    this is rich.

    let me suggest "Introductary Astronomy & Astrophysics" by Zeilik & Gregory. pulibhsed by Harcourt Brace.

    This was my introductary astrophysics text book, and should be readable by anyone with a basic familiarity of calculus.

    In particular, one should consult the section of binary star systems. Redshit can be used to determine some of the properties of such systems. There are a number of other attributes of binary star systems which can also be used to determine the same properties. Thus allowing one to confirm that the values calculated by redshift are correct.

    The redshift values change as the stars move to and from us. It couldn't be caused by the stars magically flipping old and newness.

    With most of the stars in at least our galaxy being in clusters, any theory which doesn't immediately explain why the redshift of binaries acts the way it does, is quackary, IMO.

    Here's what I heard (4.00 / 1) (#38)
    by John Milton on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 11:48:28 PM EST

    The redshift values change as the stars move to and from us. It couldn't be caused by the stars magically flipping old and newness.

    I thought the same thing when I read this the first time, but if you look again that's not what he's saying. The argument doesn't seem to be that the newness or oldness of a galaxy or quasar inherently causes redshift. The argument is that these newborn objects are spit out of their parent galaxy at tremendous speeds. That's where the redshift is supposed to come from. As they age, they slow down, and thus their redshift decreases. The problem I see with this is that there is no explanation of what would slow these objects down. Certainly the interstellar gas couldn't cause that much of a momentum shift.

    One interesting point is that one would expect at least a few of these objects to be kicked out of the core with less than average momentum. That would be a great way to test his hypothesis.


    "When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


    [ Parent ]
    the giant conspiracy (2.66 / 12) (#40)
    by nodsmasher on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 11:49:35 PM EST

    yes there is a giant consperacy to keep big bang theory, all the scientist will be out of work and be on the street if it's disproved, there is a giant consperacy to keep this one perfacty rational and not cooky sounding guy down

    btw on black holes an article was recently published (by scientists) questioning black holes
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Most people don't realise just how funny cannibalism can actually be.
    -Tatarigami
    Sigh, (4.70 / 10) (#41)
    by manobes on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 11:50:38 PM EST

    Steady state universes are not consistent with observation. See Ned Wright's pages which contain a detailed critque of this theory. The author would be well advised to work through Dr. Wright's tutorial pages as well.

    I also take issue with this

    Another long-time favorite cosmology topic that the American media feeds to the public, is the idea of black holes, which are claimed to be real objects, that are so massive that they suck even nearby starlight into themselves, causing them to be completely dark or black. Arp says: "The greatly publicized theory is black holes where everything falls in. But the observations show everything falling out!"

    I've no idea what it's supposed to mean, but it's wrong. Observations of black hole candidates are consistent with (simple) models of the behaviour of matter as it falls into the hole. The matter speeds up, and in the process releases large amounts of energy (in the form of photons). I suspect this is what Arp is talking about. It's not inconsistent with the existence of black holes.


    No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


    Hawking radiation (4.00 / 2) (#54)
    by demi on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 02:05:07 AM EST

    the 'surfaces' of black holes are very hot, emitting large amounts of X-rays and various types of matter, at sufficient rates so that they are believed to evaporate in gigantic releases of energy once a significant proportion of the stellar mass is lost. See more here.



    [ Parent ]

    Just to be clear (4.66 / 3) (#55)
    by manobes on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 02:28:42 AM EST

    the 'surfaces' of black holes are very hot, emitting large amounts of X-rays and various types of matter, at sufficient rates so that they are believed to evaporate in gigantic releases of energy once a significant proportion of the stellar mass is lost.

    This is not what has been observed around black hole candidates. The radiation from these is caused by the radiation of the particles accelerating around the hole. To date, Hawking radiation has never been seen.


    No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


    [ Parent ]
    nobody's looking for Hawking Radiation AFAIK (4.00 / 3) (#58)
    by demi on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 03:22:35 AM EST

    because it wouldn't be very easy to detect it, considering that the total emissions from the single locus would be so small against the cosmic background. Evidence for the theory is supposed to come from the presence of short bursts of superenergetic cosmic rays produced by an evaporating black hole. These are single photons with energies in the range of ~1 J, if I recall correctly.

    I've always found this stuff fascinating but I admit it's not my area of expertise.



    [ Parent ]

    Hawking Radiation (4.33 / 3) (#80)
    by manobes on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 12:33:35 PM EST

    Nobody's looking for Hawking Radiation AFAIK because it wouldn't be very easy to detect it

    Right. However, there's a fansinating speculation that an analogue of Hawking radiation could be observed in hydrodynamic analogues of black hole systems. The preprint archive contains many papers on this, if you're brave here's a review.

    Evidence for the theory is supposed to come from the presence of short bursts of superenergetic cosmic rays produced by an evaporating black hole. These are single photons with energies in the range of ~1 J, if I recall correctly.

    I think you might be mixing things up. High energy cosmic rays aren't claimed as evidence for Hawking radiation (at least not that I know of, and I'm somewhat familiar with the subject). Incidentally the particles that have these high energies are protons, and the highest energy observed to date is 50J.


    No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


    [ Parent ]
    let me try again (4.00 / 2) (#103)
    by demi on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 08:15:56 PM EST

    I think you might be mixing things up. High energy cosmic rays aren't claimed as evidence for Hawking radiation (at least not that I know of, and I'm somewhat familiar with the subject). Incidentally the particles that have these high energies are protons, and the highest energy observed to date is 50J.

    To clarify: the hawking radiation reduces the rest mass of the singularity. Once the mass of the black hole decreases past the Swarzchild limit, it may evaporate/explode. A burst of high energy cosmic rays could be evidence for black hole evaporation. There are experiments in progress, with arrays of detectors, that have recorded bursts of such cosmic rays. That is the indirect evidence (by consequence) of Hawking radiation.



    [ Parent ]

    No sorry that's not right (4.00 / 1) (#106)
    by manobes on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 12:33:52 AM EST

    To clarify: the hawking radiation reduces the rest mass of the singularity. Once the mass of the black hole decreases past the Swarzchild limit, it may evaporate/explode.

    That's confusing. The hole doesn't begin to Hawking radiate until after all the matter has passed through the Schwarzchild radius. Before that it's not even a black hole, it's a collapsing neutron star. Once the black hole is formed, then the mass decreases, due to the radiation.

    A burst of high energy cosmic rays could be evidence for black hole evaporation. There are experiments in progress, with arrays of detectors, that have recorded bursts of such cosmic rays. That is the indirect evidence (by consequence) of Hawking radiation.

    Well that's a bit of a strecth. First, there are a number of different proposed causes for ultra high energy cosmic rays (UHECRs), none of which have been verified with any certainty.

    Second, as I understand it, one of the solutions is that the UHECRs are coming from gamma ray bursters. However, nobody knows what causes gamma ray bursters, one proposal is Hawking radiation.

    So the observation of UHECRs is, at best, indirect evidence for Hawking radiation, and really this is just one of several competing theories.

    www.phys.washington.edu/~walta/workshop_transparencies/cr-review_J_Wilkes.pdf has (among other things) a list of some proposed causes (note the absence of Hawking radiation). I got the gamma ray burster connection here.

    No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


    [ Parent ]
    Actually (5.00 / 3) (#74)
    by spiralx on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 08:52:04 AM EST

    For the surface of any non-microscopic black hole the Hawking temperature is less than that of the empty space around it - for instance for a 30-solar mass black hole the Hawking temperature is only 2*10-9K. It's only when the black hole is microscopic that the temperature gets very hot - in the normal course of things it's not enough to offset the mass a black hole gains through accretion.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    A few comments (4.92 / 13) (#43)
    by arjan de lumens on Fri Apr 26, 2002 at 11:54:49 PM EST

    Disclaimer: IANAC (I Am Not a Cosmologist)
    Also, as Arp points out, if the quasars are really at the claimed Big-Bang distances, then they should have a random distribution in the sky relative to the distribution of Seyfert galaxies, but they do not: The actual distribution of quasars is not random relative to the distribution of Seyferts. Instead, quasars tend to be clustered close around Seyferts--a situation that, according to Arp, Big-Bang astronomers simply brush-off as coincidence.
    Gravitational lensing. When a quasar lies directly behind another galaxy, the light emitted from the quasar may be bent by the gravitiational field of the galaxy, so that the light from the quasar can reach the Earth along multiple different paths; from the Earth, this will look like a normal galaxy with multiple quasars around it. This would explain the apparent clustering of quasars around normal galaxies.
    The initial ejection speed for a child object from its parent, has actually been measured by means of radio astronomy using Very Long Baseline Interferometry. About this initial ejection speed, Arp says: "typically moving outward with speeds of from a few tenths of [the speed of light] to nearly the speed of light."[7] Over time, the child object slows down, and, eventually, as it ages and grows, becomes an ordinary galaxy, moving at an ordinary speed for a galaxy (typically less than 1000 kilometers per second; lightspeed is 300,000 kilometers per second).
    Makes me wonder what force would cause this slow-down? The gravitational field of the parent galaxy wouldn't be nearly enough to appreciably slow down an object initially moving at ~50% of the speed of light. And given how there is no such thing as absolute speed (think about it: you can only measure speed differences, never absolute speed), how would this child object "know" what speed to move at when it becomes a normal galaxy?
    As Arp comments elsewhere in his book, the observation that quasar redshifts are quantized contradicts the Big-Bang model, therefore establishment astronomers dismiss the observation.
    Galaxy clusters. The galaxies/quasars that belong to a given cluster tend to have pretty much the same amount of redshift, and since most redshift measurements (until recently?) were mostly limited to a limited number of galaxy clusters, the apparent quantization is actually an expected result.
    Arp's observations refute the Big Bang, giving instead a universe of unknown size and age, in which parent galaxies give birth to new galaxies that undergo a life-cycle that has a clear evolution from a juvenile stage (a quasar) to an adult stage (a galaxy such as our own Milky Way). At present, the observable universe has many examples of galaxies giving birth, and of juveniles and adults in all stages of development.
    Let's see. If the galaxy density in the universe is non-zero, new galaxies are formed this way all the time and the universe has existed in this way forever, why is it that the universe is not presently chock full of galaxies or light from them at every point? Do galaxies somehow die? And what would a dying galaxy look like?

    absolute speed (3.25 / 4) (#64)
    by Cal Bunny on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 05:50:21 AM EST

    there is no such thing as absolute speed (think about it: you can only measure speed differences, never absolute speed)
    Isn't the speed of light an absolute speed?

    ^cb^
    Kudos to you for warping my fragile little mind. - communist
    [
    Parent ]
    not quite (4.50 / 2) (#67)
    by martingale on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 06:43:30 AM EST

    Most people I know let it be equal to 1 :-)

    Serioulsy though, the speed of light in a vacuum as measured in an inertial reference frame is observed to be constant. That was actually taken as an axiom by big E.

    [ Parent ]

    OT: Questions? (4.00 / 1) (#120)
    by Cal Bunny on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 04:15:48 PM EST

    I have never had a physics course (not even in HS) so I have a couple questions.
    1. An inertial reference frame is where you not accelerating, ignoring the acceleration due to gravity? So a freefalling body is in an interial frame of reference, corrct? Then what about a body moving at a constant velocity?
    2. If I were in a ship unknowingly taveling at a constant velocity what would the speed light be measured as? It seems like the measurements would vary depending on if I was moving towards the source of away from it, since my start and stop points (as if it were a 100m race) would move through space, too. If I were moving towards the source I was measuring, then the track distance would be shortened, and moving away from the source the distance would be lengthened. If I had a light source at both ends of the 100m track and I released a photon from each source at the same time, the source in the direction of my forward movement would cross the opposite line first, it seems.
    3. How does this change for an accelerating reference frame?
    Please take a clue-bat to me.

    ^cb^
    [ Parent ]
    One word: Relativity! (none / 0) (#121)
    by gidds on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 05:09:34 PM EST

    These are exactly the sort of questions that Einstein was trying to answer when he came up with the Theory of Relativity.  I've never studied it as such, but from my patchy knowledge:
    1. In Relativity, there is no difference between an object at rest and one moving at constant velocity.  At rest relative to what?  And moving with constant velocity relative to what?  As there are no fixed reference points, there is nothing to be `at rest' in respect of; velocity is relative, hence the name.  So an inertial reference frame is one experiencing no inertial effects, and this could be `at rest' w.r.t. us or moving with constant velocity.
    2. Another tenet of Relativity Theory is that the speed of light is constant for any observer.  This is very counter-intuitive; if you're moving relative to someone else, you'd expect to get a different measure of the speed of some third thing than they would.  But light's different.  This is where the time dilation effects come from: in order for the speed of light to be constant, both distance and time have to vary for different observers.
      In your example, if you were moving towards a light source, you'd expect to measure a higher value for the speed of light.  But instead of this, you'd find that time appears to go slower for the source than for you, which would balance out so that you'd still measure the same speed for the light.  (I hope I've got that right!)
      In any case, the rest of Relativity pretty much follows on from this assumption.
    3. Pass... Anyone more knowledgeable care to answer this one? :)
    Oh, and as a quick postscript, we know that Relativity is not The Truth® (if there is one); , not exactly, anyway; although it's our best explanation for many effects we see in the very fast and the very massive, it conflicts with effects we see in the very small, which QM explains better.  The Truth® is probably somewhere in between...

    Andy/
    [ Parent ]
    Light speed and frames of reference (5.00 / 1) (#122)
    by arjan de lumens on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 05:44:39 PM EST

    1. An inertial frame of reference is where you do not experience any forces accelerating you. This means that if you are within a freefalling body, in orbit around the Earth, or elsewhere where no forces work on your nearest environment, you are in an inertial frame of reference. If you stand on Earth itself, you are in an accelerated frame of reference, with gravity working on you as an acceleration of 9.81 m/s2. (if you sit in a closed box and measure a force accelerating you at 9.81 m/s2, no experiment you can do can determine whether you and the box are safely on Earth or being pulled through space with constant acceleration by a rocket or UFO.)

    2. If you measure the speed of light (in vacuum, in an inertial frame of reference) relative to yourself, you will always get the same result: 299 792 458 m/s. No matter what speed the light source or yourself moves at. Even if you have a friend who moves at nonzero speed relative to yourself measuring the speed of the exact same light beam, he too will measure that the light moves at the speed of 299 792 458 m/s - relative to himself. This result, while difficult to compehend and counter-intuitive in the extreme, is the basis of Einstein's Special Relativity and has been verified by numerous experiments.

    3. In an accelerating frame of reference, the acceleration (or, for that matter, gravity) will cause the light to appear to follow a curved path as well as getting red- or blue-shifted, making measurements more difficult.

    [ Parent ]

    orbiting frame (none / 0) (#131)
    by martingale on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 09:18:13 PM EST

    Just a small point: the orbiting frame is not inertial. If you orbit around the earth at constant velocity v say (circular orbit radius r), then your acceleration is v^2/r towards the earth. You can feel that yourself if you hold somebody's hands and start orbiting them. On Earth, the lab frame is usually taken to be inertial as a convenient approximation.



    [ Parent ]
    importance of reference frames (none / 0) (#133)
    by martingale on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 10:20:38 PM EST

    Others have discussed inertial reference frames, so I thought I'd give you a bit of history.

    Up till the late 19th century, everyone was more or less happy with Newtonian mechanics. To predict something (I'm simplifying), you selected a point (origin) and some directions and gave each object coordinates. Then you predicted how the coordinates evolved with time, through physical laws.

    Towards the end of the 19th century, experiments with light started to show strange effects, which didn't fit Newton any more. See the Michelson-Morley experiment. Several mathematicians and physicists (there was no big distinction in those days) found formulas to predict the newly observed phenomena (Lorentz, Poincare, off the top of my head), but these formulas clashed with Newtonian Physics, and looked completely fake, designed to fit the data. Nobody in their right mind would have taken them as new laws of physics, since there was no guarantee that they would explain future experiments.

    Einstein is celebrated because he showed a way of preserving in a way all existing Newtonian Physics, while accounting for the newly observed phenomenon with light. Essentially, he said: if we restrict ourselves to calculating coordinates relative to a reference frame which is not accelerated in any way, then all of existing Newtonian Physics is correct, but light itself, which is so much faster than anything else, has constant speed in all directions. He then went to show that the ad hoc formulas people had found could be derived from these premises, which is crucial for being taken seriously.

    This was great, because it meant that all the things people had known about Physics were still right, and the new rules about light could be incorporated in calculations without fear of contradictions at the low velocity end. It meant that anyone could come up with an experiment involving light and something else, and know what rules to apply to obtain predictions, which could then be tested to see if Einstein was still right.

    If Einstein had simply said "light has its own rules", it would have been useless. People would be asking "which rules do you apply in an experiment involving light and such an object?" But he showed how to obtain the ad hoc formulas which people knew fitted the observations but couldn't be justified until then.

    It was also hard to accept special relativity, because it meant that time and space were no longer of fixed size across all reference frames. One second for me is not the same as one second for somebody riding a photon. But through experiments, people have come to accept that.

    Another difficulty is that Einstein didn't say anything about the laws of Physics in an accelerated (non inertial) frame. What you have to do in that case is play stop motion physics, ie cut up time into really small pieces and pretend that during those small time intervals, the frame is non accelerated. So ordinary physics applies to the coordinates during that small time interval. Then in the next small time interval, the frame has changed, and you must transform the previous results into the new frame, before applying physical laws for that frame. And on and on. Needless to say, it's a bit more work.

    [ Parent ]

    Answers (5.00 / 1) (#149)
    by epepke on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 06:36:21 PM EST

    1.An inertial reference frame is where you not accelerating, ignoring the acceleration due to gravity? So a freefalling body is in an interial frame of reference, corrct?

    See answer to third question, but essentially, that's right.

    Then what about a body moving at a constant velocity?

    Same thing.

    It seems like the measurements would vary depending on if I was moving towards the source of away from it, since my start and stop points (as if it were a 100m race) would move through space, too.

    But it isn't. Light moves at the same speed no matter how you or the source are moving. Here's what happened. A guy named Maxwell came up with a series of equations to interrelate electricity and magnetism. They predicted that an electrical disturbance would send light (or what we now call radio waves, which is just another color of light) out at the speed of light. They didn't say anything about how fast the source was moving. So, people thought, AHA! Now we can measure the absolute speed of the Earth. It didn't work. After about fifty years of head-banging, including Lorenz, Poincare, and others, Einstein came up with the special theory of relativity to tie this all together. When you move, the speed of light doesn't change. However, your sense of time compared to others who are moving differently changes. Also, your measurements of distance change.

    How does this change for an accelerating reference frame?

    Acceleration, unlike velocity, is not relative. You can feel it without looking outside. Accelerating frames are the subject of the general theory of relativity. According to this, it is not possible to distinguish between a uniform gravitational field and acceleration. The gravitational field of the Earth (roughly) is impossible to distinguish from "outward" acceleration of the Earth. This makes perfect sense in spacetime, though it causes problems when thinking about just space versus time. In GR, the gravitational acceleration is not a real acceleration; a (nearly) parabolic path of a stone is a straight line (or geodesic) in spacetime.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    okay then (4.83 / 12) (#44)
    by raaymoose on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 12:00:29 AM EST

    A couple points. The first is the explaination of the 'Big Bang' as an explosion. We think of explosions starting at a single point in space and expanding outward. The 'Big Bang' cannot be thought of in this way. Each point in spacetime is the centre of the universe, that is, the 'Big Bang' took place in all places in the universe. The distances are explained because of the universe's expansion. Think of it as the galaxies staying put, but the spacetime between them is growing, much as two points on a balloon grow further apart as the balloon is inflated.

    Second, the 'Big Bang', much like the centre of black holes, is a singularity. That means our current physics cannot be used to explain it. Think infinite energy in zero volume - doesn't play well with our equations. Many people are confident once quantum theory and relativity are combined (quantum gravity) that we will be able to explain them.

    I would really like to see someone provide evidence of this 'tired light'. I don't see how light can inherantly lose energy by merely travelling if it doesn't interact with anything. It is also important to note that Hubble's constant (and thus the cosmological redshift) is not a very concrete value. It ranges between 50 and 80km/s/Mpc, depending on which measurements you look at, though it appears to settle right in the middle (65km/s/Mpc). This introduces some significant uncertainty into the measurements, which could be used against the current bundle of theories yes.

    Quasars are not at the 'Big Bang' distance. They're the furthest objects we have observed, other than the photosphere of the matter/energy decoupling which has produced the CMB. They are by no means at the 'Big Bang' distance, but they are quite far back. Regarding his questions about the distribution of the active galaxies, does he tackle the Inflationary theory?

    Now, editorial:
    Interesting reading, a bit unclear though. Probably would do better to explain why he's doubting the redshift evidence and explain the alternate theory of the redshift, rather than focusing on the active galaxies. It threw me and I had to read this a few times, and I'm familliar with all of this. Regardless, +1.

    It also would've been beneficial not to present this as some conspiracy to withhold information from the public. It's not, I certainly have heard this before and I've not read this book. I think it's more that his theories have been scrutinised and generally dismissed, but they aren't hidden.



    I wank, therefore I'm a wanker. (3.69 / 13) (#56)
    by Lord Snott on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 02:29:50 AM EST

    I can't believe the narrow-minded wanking I see going on in the comments to this article.

    Good one, Spork. "Make K5 look stupid?"
    After all, dismissing stuff without a reasonable argument is a sign of intellect.
    Spork == Wanker

    Good one, theElectron. "You had my waning interest for a moment there until you dropped the "science PhD" on me. If someone so learned as yourself can be duped, what hope do garbage such as we have?"
    Duped? Give me a reason why he's been duped and why what he says is wrong.
    theElectron == Wanker

    Good one, arthurpsmith. "-1 Arp is way out of date" ..because the BigBang theory isn't three quarters of a century old?
    arthurpsmith == Wanker

    Good one, infinitera. "1.You seem to be using similar logic to creationists." After all, if someone thinks different, it must be bad, like those backward creationists. Though I honestly can't see this supposed 'creationist logic'. "2.You rail against working within a paradigm, thinking this big bang stuff is a special case. Read more." There is no implication the BigBang is a special case, and railing against a paradigm, opposing a mindset, can often lead to the truth, if that's what you're after. Read the article again.
    infinitera == Wanker

    I thought the article was rather weak, but that doesn't mean everything in it is false. His comments on black holes were especially bad. Yes, a large amount of "Hawking radiation" is emitted from black holes, but that doesn't equate to "everything falling out" of them. I've read elsewhere about the quantisation of the red shift throughout the visible universe, and other anti-BigBang theory evidence. This article wasn't particularly enlightening, but I HOPED it would generate some decent discussion.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
    registration number 2,347,676.
    Bummer :-(

    hawking radiation - clarification (4.50 / 2) (#69)
    by butterfly on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 07:08:30 AM EST

    Yes, a large amount of "Hawking radiation" is emitted from black holes, but that doesn't equate to "everything falling out" of them.

    hawking radiation is not actually emitted from black holes. pairs of virtual particles come into being right at the interface (the schwarzschild surface). now, normally they would recombine, giving their energy back to the vacuum ~80 attoseconds later. however, at the schwarzschild surface, one of the two can fall into the black hole, leaving us with a particle that can escape. remember, it was created just outside the event horizon, so it has not been emitted from the black hole - which would be impossible. the truly interesting aspect to this (without MathML i'm not going to try and explain how, heh) is that this process actually leads to the black hole losing mass... the idea that things are "falling out" of them is wholly wrong, but they can "evaporate". intriguing, no?

    having an honours degree in astrophysics rarely comes in handy in everyday conversation [bet that surprises you ;) ], but i still wouldn't have done anything else - the maths was just maths, but the concepts were truly, truly, beautiful...



    "an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind"

    [ Parent ]
    Thanks! (none / 0) (#107)
    by Lord Snott on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 02:28:35 AM EST

    Don't you hate it when you stuff up?!
    I last read up on Hawking radiation about 5 years ago, so I'm a little rusty. Therefore, no doubt to Tigers disgust, I'll trust the word of someone who is part of the establishment :)

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
    registration number 2,347,676.
    Bummer :-(

    [ Parent ]
    disestablished (none / 0) (#109)
    by butterfly on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 06:17:37 AM EST

    heh, thanks for the vote of confidence - despite my "establishment" credentials. if it makes you feel better, i won an environmental essay competition a few years ago, with an essay exhorting peope to incinerate rather than recycle - because it can be more environmentally friendly! it was titled "recycling: should the dogma be burned?" - i won a bottle of ruby red port for my troubles...

    by the way, i absolutely love your sig... meant to mention that along with the clarification ;)



    "an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind"

    [ Parent ]
    Recycling (none / 0) (#139)
    by katie on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 08:09:11 AM EST

    I phoned up our local council (in the midlands) to ask where the nearest recycling plant for recyclable plastics is. They replied "Wales".

    So that foiled my attempts to be environmental on that front. The best they could do was "put them in the wheely-bins, we'll take them away, burn them and make electricity from them..."

    {"Them" being the plastic bottles. Not the wheely bins.}


    [ Parent ]
    Why Arp is out of date (4.00 / 1) (#132)
    by arthurpsmith on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 10:16:40 PM EST

    Perhaps my comment was too brief, but the problem with any scientific theory is it has to match the evidence of our observations. Up until 2 decades ago we didn't have much that could truly be called cosmological observations - sure there were the redshift numbers for thousands of galaxies, quasars, and other objects, and there was the "blackbody" cosmic background radiation. But we had no detailed observations of the cosmic microwave background, no Hubble studies of ancient galaxy distributions, no studies of gravitational lensing effects (which explain most of Arp's anomalous groups of quasars near closer galaxies) and orders of magnitude fewer samples of objects with high redshift.

    The point being, things have changed a lot in the last 2 decades in observational cosmology. There is now vastly more evidence that any cosmological theory has to match up with than before. The standard cosmological model has required a bit of tweaking (the inflation, "dark matter", "dark energy" effects) but basically has no trouble accounting for EVERY observation (including Arp's). But where is Arp's theory when it comes to explaining anything other than quasar distributions and redshifts? It just doesn't have the explanatory power to match modern observations. Which is why I said it was way out of date. I wasn't referring to fashion!

    Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.


    [ Parent ]
    -1: not-even-entertaining pseudo-scientific crap (3.33 / 6) (#59)
    by Chancellor Martok on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:26:20 AM EST

    Disclaimer: IMBACSD - I Might Be A Cosmologist Someday (well I'm studying it at the moment anyway)

    Some of you +1ed this since it's so hilarious, but I think it's rather more sad than hilarious... if he wrote it in jest, maybe.

    In all honesty, from having read a lot more than just Seeing Red, I really can't see how any other model so far proposed stands up to scientific scrutiny any more than Ptolemy's cosmological model did.

    You don't know what you don't know
    I couldn't agree with you more. I hardly think you can base your own beliefs on simply Arp's 'book'.

    A lot of the comments have already discussed why specific arguments you have mentioned are baseless, but I'll go through all of them again if I have to...

    As for your conspiracy theory claims, while the media may at times make Big Bang sound like it's accepted fact, if you can fine me any true cosmologist, physicist or any other scientist will claim Big Bang as fact, rather than the most plausible theory to date, I'll give you $100, US$100 even.



    -----
    Chancellor Martok  in Sydney, Australia
    "Castrate instead. That can surely rehabilitate. I did it volunatrily, and my grades went up!"  -- Sen

    Ptolemy's Model (5.00 / 3) (#82)
    by holycola on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 01:22:18 PM EST

    ...I really can't see how any other model so far proposed stands up to scientific scrutiny any more than Ptolemy's cosmological model did. Ptolemy's model predicted the movements of the heavens well enough for people for hundreds of years. Don't be arrogant in your understanding of current knowledge. It's unbecoming and there are surely things you think to be true that will make you the laughing stock of future generations.

    -----
    This is not a sig.
    [ Parent ]
    BANG!!! (2.83 / 6) (#63)
    by Stick on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 05:25:13 AM EST

    Doubt no more.


    ---
    Stick, thine posts bring light to mine eyes, tingles to my loins. Yea, each moment I sit, my monitor before me, waiting, yearning, needing your prose to make the moment complete. - Joh3n
    about black holes (3.85 / 7) (#65)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 06:00:05 AM EST

    Perhaps the most common reason given so far to knock Arp, is based on my short paragraph regarding black holes:

    Another long-time favorite cosmology topic that the American media feeds to the public, is the idea of black holes, which are claimed to be real objects, that are so massive that they suck even nearby starlight into themselves, causing them to be completely dark or black. Arp says: “The greatly publicized theory is black holes where everything falls in. But the observations show everything falling out!”

    Apparently, several people have assumed that when Arp says “But the observations show everything falling out!”, that he is referring to the locations in space where black holes have been claimed to reside. Actually, Arp is referring to the universe as a whole. Specifically, Arp means the apparent creation of quasars that grow into galaxies, as his primary example of things “falling out”. When I wrote the above paragraph on black holes, I did not imagine how some could get the wrong idea as to the meaning, so the fault regarding this misunderstanding is mine.



    Quasars that grow into galaxies? (4.00 / 1) (#72)
    by spiralx on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 08:41:28 AM EST

    I always thought that Seyfert galaxies were galxies containing a quasar. So the quasar doesn't "grow into" a galaxy, but instead grows larger within it.

    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Bad science (none / 0) (#147)
    by Hector Plasmic on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 03:38:06 PM EST

    Actually, the biggest problem I had with your article was that keep mixing up what redshift is considered to be. But I assume this was your fault, not Arp's. Of course, there's the problem with Arp assuming that redshift is something other than what we can test it to be. You provided us with no real hint that Arp might be right. As the basis for everything else, that leaves a big, big hole.

    Arp's comment about "things falling out" as some sort of refutation to black holes, as you've explained it, seems to be as entirely irrelevant to black holes as my stating that since sunlight comes "out of" the sun then black holes must not exist. Again, I will assume that you've quoted him badly out of context.

    All-in-all, the article doesn't really help Arp's case, or inspire me to run out to pick up his work to peruse for myself. Sorry.

    [ Parent ]
    you are right about the redshift mix-up (none / 0) (#159)
    by tiger on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 01:21:49 AM EST

    Actually, the biggest problem I had with your article was that keep mixing up what redshift is considered to be. But I assume this was your fault, not Arp's.

    Yes. The redshift confusion is my fault.

    I made a list earlier today of 5 misunderstandings and/or wrong assumptions that resulted from my article, as revealed by the comments. The redshift “mixing up” is already on the list.

    If and when I revise my website article, I’ll probably post a brief comment to this K5 article, giving notice to that effect.

    Thanks to all who commented.

    --
    Americans :— Say no to male genital mutilation. In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child



    [ Parent ]
    about the negative comments (2.55 / 9) (#66)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 06:39:58 AM EST

    The general tone of many of the negative comments, are typical examples of how priest-like the science establishment is on subjects that affect how people see themselves in this universe. When it comes to defending the current establishment view, often it is the wannabes who are the most vocal and insistent in their certainty as to how wrong the offending view is.

    Today, the high-priests of science are the physicists. And, not surprisingly, several of the wannabe comments have made appeals to the authority of physics. Well, ideally, the conclusions of science should follow from the observations. The Big-Bang theory does not fit the observations that Arp and others have made, and that is the main point of my article.



    a negative reply (5.00 / 6) (#68)
    by martingale on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 06:56:47 AM EST

    Does it occur to you that the "establishment view" is the rough consensus view of a large number of very smart and hard working individuals who developed physics over the century, so that any challenge will necessarily be very difficult to mount, irrespective of anyone's personal agenda?

    I'm quite willing to believe that you think Arp's book is convincing and thought of sharing it with k5 readers, but the conspiracy slant you gave your presentation isn't warranted imho.



    [ Parent ]

    about your argument (1.62 / 8) (#70)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 07:31:41 AM EST

    Does it occur to you that the "establishment view" is the rough consensus view of a large number of very smart and hard working individuals who developed physics over the century, so that any challenge will necessarily be very difficult to mount, irrespective of anyone's personal agenda?

    So, in effect, you appeal to authority: all those “very smart and hard working individuals who developed physics over the century”. How lame.

    If everyone followed your logic, mankind would still be burning people at the stake for challenging a religion that also had “a large number of very smart and hard working individuals who developed” that religion and its church and its whole world outlook, over many centuries.



    [ Parent ]
    you're confused (4.25 / 4) (#71)
    by martingale on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 08:29:35 AM EST

    So, in effect, you appeal to authority
    Not at all. All I'm saying is that it isn't (and shouldn't be) surprising that Arp's arguments, which you outline, are found to be flawed. Quite the opposite. It would be surprising (but not unprecedented) if they were revolutionary.

    Now if you want to compare science to a religion, be my guest: where's the thousand year old scripture? Where's the pontiff whose interpretation must be dogmatically followed? Where's the reward in the afterlife?

    [ Parent ]

    you're denial (1.00 / 3) (#95)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:52:30 PM EST

    Not at all. All I'm saying is that it isn't (and shouldn't be) surprising that Arp's arguments, which you outline, are found to be flawed.

    So, according to you, Arp's arguments …are found to be flawed. And the only thing you have given so far to support your statement that Arp's arguments …are found to be flawed, is your appeal to “a large number of very smart and hard working individuals who developed physics over the century.” And you say this is not appealing to authority? So, can you give me some other reason why Arp's arguments …are found to be flawed?

    Now if you want to compare science to a religion, be my guest: where's the thousand year old scripture?

    All the books, journals, etc., are the scriptures of today. And many of them assume the Big Bang is fact.

    Where's the pontiff whose interpretation must be dogmatically followed?

    The professors are today’s priests. There is no clear pontiff, but some may claim the top honor for Einstein.

    Where's the reward in the afterlife?

    Today, the rewards take the form of a successful academic career, including such important things as getting research grants. And having such a career, and getting research grants, usually means not rocking the boat, and not doing anything that can be seen as challenging the current dogmas.



    [ Parent ]
    Look dipwad (5.00 / 2) (#111)
    by physicsgod on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 11:49:02 AM EST

    You don't know cosmology. Not many people on this site do. And there sure as hell isn't time to teach you, or anyone else. The only way to argue this topic (that *IS* why the article is here) is to appeal to authority. You appeal to Arp's authority, I appeal to Hawkings'. To resort to "legalese" in physics is to admit your argument has no empirical backing, and hence invalid.

    --- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
    [ Parent ]
    No time? (none / 0) (#146)
    by Nick Ives on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 03:35:44 PM EST

    I'd be interested in a series of articles on cosmology. Take your time, I mean, even if you do it slowly over the course of a couple of years, that'd be cool.

    --
    Nick
    touch the sky

    [ Parent ]

    Not really my forte... (none / 0) (#156)
    by physicsgod on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 12:35:07 AM EST

    My interests lie in the other end of the size spectrum, I have a passing interest in cosmology, but I don't study it avidly.

    That being said, I'll take a look at the relevant sections of my local library and see what kind of resources are available, I might put something together (unless of course someone who has a real interest {or better yet experience in the field} is interested)

    --- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
    [ Parent ]

    Kickass... (none / 0) (#157)
    by Nick Ives on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 12:44:49 AM EST

    I saw a diary floating around by someone who is planning on doing a series of articles on particle physics. I quite like informative articles on any subject (from science to cookery) so like, yea, more is good.

    --
    Nick
    Consumer

    [ Parent ]

    Appeal to Authority (4.87 / 8) (#76)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 09:13:04 AM EST

    There's a disturbing tendency to treat the naming of logical fallacies as compelling arguments. As it happens, the appeal to authority is only a fallacy if the authority being appealed to is irrelevant. Its not a fallacy to cite Einstein's comments on physics. It is a fallacy to cite his comments on hairdressing.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    fallacy (1.60 / 5) (#92)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:20:52 PM EST

    There's a disturbing tendency to treat the naming of logical fallacies as compelling arguments. As it happens, the appeal to authority is only a fallacy if the authority being appealed to is irrelevant.

    So, who says appealing to authority is a fallacy, other than you? He appealed to authority, by saying “a large number of very smart and hard working individuals who developed physics over the century.” That is an appeal to authority.

    Its not a fallacy to cite Einstein's comments on physics. It is a fallacy to cite his comments on hairdressing.

    So, for you, Einstein is an accepted authority. But what does Einstein have to do with astronomical observations that contradict Big-Bang theory? Nothing.



    [ Parent ]
    Tedious repitition (5.00 / 5) (#94)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:45:16 PM EST

    So, who says appealing to authority is a fallacy, other than you?

    Umm. Pretty much everyone ? There are lists of logical fallacies - that is, arguments that do not imply their conclusions - all over the internet, and several books on the subject dating back to Roman times. For instance, here.. Whether you realised it or not, you were in fact invoking it as a fallacy: that is, you were pointing out (in your view) that his argument did not imply its conclusion.

    My point was that, since the authority being invoked is valid, the argument is not fallacious, that is, it does imply its conclusion, though it is also not conclusive (is anything ?).

    So, for you, Einstein is an accepted authority. But what does Einstein have to do with astronomical observations that contradict Big-Bang theory? Nothing.

    Indeed, nothing at all. I never said anything that implied he did. I only raised Einstein as an example. I have no clue what Einstein would have thought of Arp's theories, since he did not live to express an opinion. Its not my acceptance of Einstein as an authority on physics that would be relevant, but other physisists.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]

    your implication (1.20 / 5) (#96)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 05:14:02 PM EST

    My point was that, since the authority being invoked is valid, the argument is not fallacious, that is, it does imply its conclusion, though it is also not conclusive (is anything ?).

    You say, since the authority being invoked is valid, the argument is not fallacious, that is, it does imply its conclusion. So, you are making a very big judgment call: the authority being invoked is valid. This is your appeal to authority. You are assuming the authority being invoked is valid, are you not? If not, then why not? You need to give some concrete reason as to why the authority being invoked is valid, before I can take what you are saying seriously.



    [ Parent ]
    Not my judgement (4.60 / 5) (#97)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 05:47:53 PM EST

    As the link I posted said, an appeal to authority is valid - that is, not fallacious - if the authority in question is generally accepted by others in the same field. Since we're talking here about the accepted consensus in the field, thats pretty obvious, no ?

    Now, obviously a compelling scientific case that the accepted consensus was wrong would always be stronger than an argument from a valid authority. However, you haven't made one. According to the majority of astronomers, physicists and cosmologists, neither has Arp. If I really cared, which I don't, I'm bright enough that I could go and learn what it was Arp said, what the accepted theory says, and make my own decision. However, that would take a while, and, as I said, I don't care enough. So I'm going to continue to believe the generally accepted theory. This is rational, no ? I'm not telling you Arp is wrong, I'm telling you he's *probably* wrong, and as I've just shown, I have sufficient grounds.

    I would suggest, in fact, that you've fallen into a common trap: with no particular education in a subject, you've read a popular work by an advocate of an unconventional theory, and you're now rejecting any evidence or argument that he's wrong. I've seen several comments attached to this article, including another one of my own, that would have warranted a follow-up from you. Instead, it seems, you've chosen to reply to the weakest commments (such as the ultimate parent of this one).

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    fine (1.00 / 3) (#101)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 06:23:12 PM EST

    If I really cared, which I don't, I'm bright enough that I could go and learn what it was Arp said, what the accepted theory says, and make my own decision. However, that would take a while, and, as I said, I don't care enough. So I'm going to continue to believe the generally accepted theory.

    Fine. You do that.

    I would suggest, in fact, that you've fallen into a common trap: with no particular education in a subject, you've read a popular work by an advocate of an unconventional theory, and you're now rejecting any evidence or argument that he's wrong.

    Wow! Now you are making assumptions about my having no particular education in a subject, who has read a popular work, and am now rejecting any evidence or argument that he's wrong; and you are using these assumptions to dismiss me.

    Fine. You do that, too.



    [ Parent ]
    Yep (5.00 / 5) (#102)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 06:28:20 PM EST

    Don't take it personally, but you've not said anything of very much interest, beyond the original article. You clearly don't understand the theory you're advocating in depth, or you would have followed up to the more substantive comments. I'm not assuming you're an amateur. I'm sure of it, because if you weren't, you would have presented evidence to the contrary. You're just not in a position to convince anyone - beyond trolls and those who share your slightly paranoid views of the "establishment" - that Arp is right.

    If its any comfort to you, I've been known to do the same thing myself on occasion.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    [ Parent ]
    about 'argument from authority' (none / 0) (#170)
    by noodles on Thu May 02, 2002 at 10:36:09 AM EST

    On a side-note, outside of religious circles, valid authority onle lends weight to the probability of turh from that source. It is not a trump or overwhelming factor that ends the argument like a proof would be. It merely assists us in evaluating how much weight should be given to unsupported statements made by varying sources.

    So - Einstein, a working scientist, years of experience, educated in the field of the topic, is yes an authority. Like was mentioned tho, his opinions on hair styling are more suspect, and he is not an authority, because he plainly has no experience even with styling his own hair properly.

    ;)

    Seriously tho - the consensus in any scientific field is given great weight because it is under constant review and challenge sand more often than not overcame the previous consensus only by the great weight of its own validity. Any challenging theory is goig to have to go through at least as difficult a challenge.



    [ Parent ]
    Entrenched views (none / 0) (#125)
    by maroberts on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 06:34:41 PM EST

    If everyone followed your logic, mankind would still be burning people at the stake for challenging a religion that also had "a large number of very smart and hard working individuals who developed" that religion and its church and its whole world outlook, over many centuries.

    IIRC, it did take a lot to overturn the Church view. Galileo was placed under house arrest and forced to recant his ideas publically. It took several centueis to admit that witchcraft was hokum and the entrenched idea was difficult to overturn.

    You're arguing lamely for the sake of it - do better or drop it.
    ~~~
    The greatest trick the Devil pulled was to convince the world he didn't exist -- Verbil Kint, The Usual Suspects
    [ Parent ]
    Re: about the negative comments (4.83 / 6) (#81)
    by manobes on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 12:54:05 PM EST

    The general tone of many of the negative comments, are typical examples of how priest-like the science establishment is on subjects that affect how people see themselves in this universe.

    Why do crackpots always talk like this? There's nothing preist like about physics, anybody who could produce evidence that disagreed with the central idea of the big bang would get a trip to Sweden (where Mr. Nobel's prizes are handed out).

    When it comes to defending the current establishment view, often it is the wannabes who are the most vocal and insistent in their certainty as to how wrong the offending view is.

    Well, I'm not a ``wannabe''. I have a master's degree in particle physics and am about a year away from finishing a PhD in the same. I've had advanced undergraduate courses in cosmology, stellar astrophysics, and genaral relativity, along with a grad course in GR.

    Further, and more telling, the author of the page I reference, Ned Wright, is a practicing cosmologist. You did read his collection of evidence as to why steady-state universes are wrong, right?

    Today, the high-priests of science are the physicists.

    Yup, they give us the secret scrolls when we get the B.Sc degree. Seriously, do you understand how paranoid this sounds?

    And, not surprisingly, several of the wannabe comments have made appeals to the authority of physics.

    I'm not appealing to an authority on physics. I am an authority on physics. Granted, they're are a lot of people who know more about it than I do (i.e. Ned Wright) but I do know what I'm talking about.

    Well, ideally, the conclusions of science should follow from the observations.

    It does

    The Big-Bang theory does not fit the observations that Arp and others have made, and that is the main point of my article.

    Try to understand this. Let's asssume that Arp has found an anomoly in some small detail of the big bang. The problem is that there are a vast number of observations which support the big bang. So Arp has to make all these fit with his theory. And, as the webpage I referenced ( here) points out this has not been done.

    I've never understood why people find this lunacy worth reading (apart from humour value). Real physics is endlessly interesting. You reference Joepsh Silk in your article, have you read his book (The Big Bang)? It's a bit dated, but a very good introduction tothe core theory.


    No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


    [ Parent ]
    wannabe (1.66 / 6) (#88)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 03:52:53 PM EST

    Why do crackpots always talk like this?

    This is your opening statement. How telling.

    Well, I'm not a ``wannabe''. I have a master's degree in particle physics and am about a year away from finishing a PhD in the same. I've had advanced undergraduate courses in cosmology, stellar astrophysics, and genaral relativity, along with a grad course in GR.

    Yes, you are a wannabe. Very much so.

    Making a career in physics today is very hard, because very few new-PhDs are able to immediately step into an assistant-professorship shortly after they graduate. Instead, I have been reading the typical horror stories for many years now, about PhDs spending many years in post-doc hell, trying to break into the assistant-professorship ranks somewhere, and many of them never make it.

    Given the harsh reality of making a physics career, it is not surprising that those in the early stages of the process, do what they can to show their loyalty to the physics profession that they hope to become a part of. And, of course, attacking the heretics, in the way you do, is a good way to show your loyalty.

    Good luck with your hoped-for physics career. But you still have a long way to go before you leave the wannabe ranks.



    [ Parent ]
    Re: Wannabe (4.75 / 4) (#89)
    by manobes on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:10:10 PM EST

    Why do crackpots always talk like this?
    This is your opening statement. How telling.

    I've learned to spot crackpots pretty quickly. You're living up to the sterotype pretty well.

    Yes, you are a wannabe. Very much so.

    And you got your physics degrees where?

    Making a career in physics today is very hard, because very few new-PhDs are able to immediately step into an assistant-professorship shortly after they graduate. Instead, I have been reading the typical horror stories for many years now, about PhDs spending many years in post-doc hell, trying to break into the assistant-professorship ranks somewhere, and many of them never make it.

    Your information is out of date, the job market has gotten a lot better, and it continues to improve as the generation of professors hired in the sixties is now begining to retire in large numbers. Further unemployment rates for physics PhD's are typically less than two percent (which basically means full employment).

    Given the harsh reality of making a physics career, it is not surprising that those in the early stages of the process, do what they can to show their loyalty to the physics profession that they hope to become a part of. And, of course, attacking the heretics, in the way you do, is a good way to show your loyalty.

    Do you honestly think physics professors care about crackpot stuff like this? It's so minor (unlike in biology) that it's ignored. What matters to the people I work with is the physics work I produce. You have a vastly inflated sense of self importence. That's typical crackpot stuff.


    No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


    [ Parent ]
    talking about yourself (1.18 / 11) (#93)
    by tiger on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:26:37 PM EST

    You have a vastly inflated sense of self importence.

    You must be talking about yourself.

    That's typical crackpot stuff.

    You are beginning to sound like a broken record. Boring!



    [ Parent ]
    You weren't talking to me but... (none / 0) (#110)
    by WildDonkey on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 10:16:29 AM EST

    And you got your physics degrees where?

    Glasgow uni.
    I can't see what the problem is. To fit a mathematical model to something (aka physics) is very prone to doing precisely that. Fitting the model to existing data and then if necessary patching it to fit new data. The problem occurs when theres so many ifs, buts and maybes, JUST to make sure the theory half fits the new data. Didn't some guy recently discover the universe is actually accelerating outwards ? This makes me question the whole big bang thing anyway (not that I know the details) but shouldnt it be the big suck instead?

    The low rate of unemployment for physicists is due to the fact that most of them are working as programmers (me and most of my friends from uni for a start).

    [ Parent ]
    You weren't talking to me but... (3.33 / 3) (#112)
    by manobes on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 12:02:48 PM EST

    And you got your physics degrees where?
    Glasgow uni.

    Okay, did you study general relativity?

    I can't see what the problem is. To fit a mathematical model to something (aka physics) is very prone to doing precisely that. Fitting the model to existing data and then if necessary patching it to fit new data. The problem occurs when theres so many ifs, buts and maybes, JUST to make sure the theory half fits the new data.

    Okay, but Arp is advocating a steady state unverse. This doesn't fit the data, I gave a reference that explains this. The big bang fits the data very well (most noteably helium abundences).

    Didn't some guy recently discover the universe is actually accelerating outwards?

    Yes

    This makes me question the whole big bang thing anyway (not that I know the details) but shouldnt it be the big suck instead?

    Guess you didn't learn much getting your degree. If you don't know the details how can a recent result make you question them? As to the recent results, they indicate that the cosmological constant is not zero. While this is a very interesting result, it is not inconsistent with the big bang.


    No one can defend creationism against the overwhelming scientific evidence of creationism. -- Big Sexxy Joe


    [ Parent ]
    Yeah thats right I didnt learn much (u know me?) (none / 0) (#144)
    by WildDonkey on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 02:56:59 PM EST

    Okay, did you study general relativity?

    Nope. General relativity was an optional course in my final year which I declined to take as tensor maths wasn't something I was too keen on learning. It may have cropped up briefly in the advanced quantum mechanics class in as much as its effect on quantum models. Can't really remember too clearly - its possible that was special relativistic quantum effects only.

    This doesn't fit the data, I gave a reference that explains this. The big bang fits the data very well (most noteably helium abundences).

    It doesn't fit all the data unpatched. However current big bang theory is a hotch potch of patches (aka 'advances') to fix the model. "The model" is therefore always going to fit the data because its been patched so much. I believe one of the points of the article is that applying the same level of patching to Arps theories would perhaps fit the data even better.

    Guess you didn't learn much getting your degree. If you don't know the details how can a recent result make you question them?

    Because the main reason d'etre of the big bang theory at the beginning was because the universe was moving apart therefore it must have at somepoint been closer, closer, closer...a single point...a big bang, yes thats it, an exposion pushed us apart.

    Now when its observed to be moving apart at an increasing speed it strikes me that a basic premise (we're moving apart because of a big bang) may be incorrect, and we are moving apart because of something else, a force which is STILL acting. Either that or using redshifts to measure changes in speed is bogus. Anyway, fortunately for me I don't have to know everything about anything before I question it. It's a healthy attitude. When a basic premise is called into doubt if you don't doubt things built on that premise then there is something wrong with your attitude not mine. As for the cosmological constant not being zero, will thats just a patch on a patch on a theory. Einstein wrote it, someone else said "we need to remove it to fit the data", now its being added to fit the data again.

    [ Parent ]
    The issue of what do we believe and why do we .... (3.60 / 5) (#75)
    by umojamel on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 09:08:44 AM EST

    ...believe it is essential. Simply put, as a matter of culture we believe what we are told and see most often in our usual information sources.

    When our information sources are not objective, have a cutural bone to pick, or a whizbang to sell, our information sources let us down big time (=just about, nearly all the time).

    I explored this aspect in "J'Accuse", which went down in smoke in about ten minutes. so I put it in my diary.

    Crackpottery (4.53 / 13) (#78)
    by Simon Kinahan on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 10:29:25 AM EST

    Three of the surefire ways to spot a crackpot:

    1. Claiming there's a conspiracy on the part of "the scientific establishment" to suppress their findings.

    2. Claiming the media are aware of their findings but are deliberately misinforming the general public.

    3. Pointing out, as if it were some kind of secret knowledge, that science is provisional, we "don't know what we don't know", and that the current consensus is "just a theory".

    Now, I don't think Arp is a crackpot, he's obviously frustrated at the difficulty he's having in getting his theories accepted, but otherwise seems reasonably sane (though not necessarily right). However, the author is doing everyone a disservice by resorting to claims that there's some kind of conspiracy going on. Even if there is a conspiracy, saying in public that you believe one to exist is a pretty good way of getting ignored.

    Now, IANACosmologist, and you're probably not either. However, I know a few people who are, and I've read the pop science on the subject, and I'd be very surprised if any you could find a cosmologist or astronomer who thought the big bang was definitely how things happened. Its a pretty good theory - it explains a lot - but it has problems: for example, it involves a singularity. There are other expanding universe theories that might be better, and various astronomers are still considering variations on a steady state theory. In the light of these facts, its pretty daft to claim that there's some great conspiracy going on.

    It seems from the article above - and this may be the author's responsibility, not Arp's - that the biggest problem with the theory being proposed is that no explanation is suggested for apparent redness of quasars and other distant objects. For the theory to be credible some explanation has to be produced to explain why more distant objects - not just quasars - appear to be more redshifted than closer ones. It should be pointed out that most measurements of galactic distance - such as cepheid variables - do *not* depend on red shift to work. Indeed, the main reasons galactic distances are interesting is so we can compute how distance relates to redshift, and thus computer the rate at which the universe is supposed to be expanding.

    Similarly, but perhaps less critically, an explanation is required of how new matter is entering the universe. In fact, it seems to me that there is no necessary reason why, if quasars are actually not distant objects, but merely very redshifted for some other reason, we should reject the hypothesis that space is expanding.

    Simon

    If you disagree, post, don't moderate
    Re: Crackpottery (5.00 / 2) (#115)
    by a clockwork llama on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 01:01:54 PM EST

    There are more than three ways to spot a crackpot. If you're interested, you can use the The Crackpot Index. Though I can't be bothered to work it out myself, I would be interested to see how many points Dr. Arp receives.

    [ Parent ]
    it all comes down to prediction (4.55 / 9) (#83)
    by dukethug on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 02:05:29 PM EST

    Scientific theories can be evaluated on two criteria: the ability to explain observed phenomena, and the ability to predict the results of experiments. From a sociology of science perspective, they are also evaluated on how well they mesh with other scientific theories. The Big Bang is popular because it emerged as a consequence of Einstein's general theory of relativity, coupled with the common idea that red shift is indicative of velocity, and not "a normal property of matter."

    Now I need to understand a couple of things, before I can evaluate Arp's theories properly:

    1. Does Arp argue that relativity is wrong? If so, what does he offer in its place? If not, how does he explain the fact that general relativity implies the existence of the Big Bang?

    2. Can we do any experiments to validate the idea that red shift is just a property of matter, and is not related to velocity? If we can't, then it seems that Arp is fighting over a difference without a difference. If there's no way to test the idea, to discern what it implies, then this is philosophy, not physics.

    On a personal note, I find this whole story (and most of the comments) disgusting. I am terribly bothered by the idea of scientists whose research is held down by the weight of a giant conspiracy. All of these people seem to feel that they are "due" something. Science doesn't work that way. It's a collaborative enterprise, and if Arp's theories are eventually shown to be more correct than the Big Bang theory, then that is a great advancement for all mankind- not Arp. If you want to be rich and famous, don't go into science.

    I'm also ashamed of the automatic defense of science as Holy Truth by so many people who would automatically attack any theology as dogma. Guess what kids? It's the same shit served differently. At the roots of science, you'll find the same ludicrous leaps of faith that are at the center of religion. Blind faith in science makes you look like a jackass.

    science doesn't attack religion... (none / 0) (#169)
    by noodles on Thu May 02, 2002 at 10:21:21 AM EST

    ...it attacks any statement, and just happens to observe that theological ones turn out more often than not to be BS (see definition of 'BS' below).

    On a personal note, I find this whole story (and most of the comments) disgusting.

    Agreed. It's extremely distressing to see in the last few weeks alone how much psuedo-science and shockingly uncritical thinking (i.e. gullibility, naiveity, and such) there has been on K5. Granted, folks always pop up to debunk the stuff, but the fact that it needs debunking at all . it makes me wonder if some of these folks have a solid grasp of science principles. Of course, a lot of them are probably still in high school, but the poster on this article claims to hold PhDs. Of course, they may be in Art Criticism for all I know, but still...

    I'm also ashamed of the automatic defense of science as Holy Truth by so many people who would automatically attack any theology as dogma

    Ok, gotta take issue with that one. Religious people (which I'm assuming here you are - apologies if this is an error) need to understand something about how critical thinkers think. We don't give a free ride to anything. Not science (which is the whole point of the exercise) and certainly not to popular dogma (yes, this is the correct word, despite your not liking it due to its long associations with...oh! religion! ).

    Dogma is by definition a pronouncement that purports to be true, and whose truth has been 'settled' by argument from authority, *not* from evidence or any rigorous method of testing - because testing involves allowing the possibilty of falsehood, which certain authorities do not accept about thier pronouncements.

    Science involves a process of somewhat eager, some might say even occasionally vicious peer-review. It's not usually personal, but outsiders sometimes feel that way when scientists negatively review bogus statements (henceforth abbreviated as "BS") from the popular culture-at-large. An example is the nuking at every turn of Lomborg's BS by every working scientist who is willing to take time out from thier work to debunk yet another case of misinformation in the popular culture. One wishes they had time to attack "Crossing Over" on the SciFi Channel, which is one of thier leading programs.

    My point is that religious people need to understand that yes, when working scientists or anyone who has spent time working to discover new truths about the universe-at-large deigns to pay attention to religious notions, anything they say about them is likely to be percieved by you as an attack. Because that's how these people react to BS. Sorry, but it's just the way it is.

    If you (plural - 'religious people') have a problem with it, how about this? Try applying testing to your dogmas, and ditching the ones that are pure BS and accepting only those which turn out to have some basis in testable reality. You think you (again, this is plural 'you people') could do that? No? Me either. That's because dogmas would long since have done so if they could. The advantage to being known to be true is too massive for them to have ever refused it if they could have proved themselves. Look at gravity. No one has to have faith in gravity. You either float away from the Earth or you don't. On the other hand, you have to ask me to believe a lot of BS in order to even accept one of your dogmas.

    In short, speaking to all religious folk on here who feel the need to whine that science criticizes thier faiths/dogmas/'massively unlikely BS', get over it. Science attacks any unproven idea using attacks that are TESTS of truthfulness. Folks whose pet notions that fail tests shouldn't waste thier breath or my ear whining that the tests were too hard. They should grow up and start thinking for themselves (another scientific principle - don't accept arguments from authority - even our own).

    Lastly, science isn't accepted as 'Holy Truth', it's accepted as a body of well-founded, rigorously tested, self-consistent, externally testable, disprovable observations about the universe that are eevn now still under contant re-evaluation. Having seen it built up from a few centuries of effort, it is accorded a certain degree of earned respect. Contrast this with any theological body of statements (also abbreviated 'BS') which in contrast only shows ever increasing signs of being false the longer history progresses and the more our sure knowledge of the universe accumulated through science grows. BS may have been fine in centuries past when 99% of the people were illiterate and completely uneducated by today's standards, but in a literate or semi-literate era such as ours, you got to be willing to accept that the free ride is over.



    [ Parent ]
    Big Bang is not a myth, its a theory... (3.33 / 9) (#85)
    by StephenThompson on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 03:10:06 PM EST

    There is a substantial difference between Myth and Theory. The Former is a social phenomenon while the latter is a scientific phenomemon.

    "Myth" is defined as a popular belief that illustrates a cultural ideal.

    "Theory" is defined as an assumption based on limited information.

    It could be argued,I suppose, that Big Bang is an atheist Myth used to support the a-religious ideal, but it doesnt hold up well since the Big Bang starts from absurdity and therefore does not provide a satisfying first cause.

    Cosmologists do not 'believe' in the Big Bang, as they might believe in God or the next sunrise. Actually, they attack it from all angles, spending more time trying to prove it wrong than to prove it right. Scientific philosophy is actually based on negation of theory, not confirmation of it. That is to say, scientific progress is made by proving theories incorrect, not by discovering evidence that supports them.

    Actually, myths are theories. (none / 0) (#174)
    by eeee on Wed May 22, 2002 at 12:37:26 PM EST

    Basically, how it went down was that a bunch of Norsemen were sitting around a campfire in a thunderstorm. Big flash, loud thunderclap. These guys didn't know what electricity was, had very few or no instruments to measure any natural phenomena, and were basically just terrified and completely at the mercy of a natural world they didn't understand. So one of them gets up the courage to look around and see what he can see, to try to figure out what is going on. He notices that he has a giant hammer next to him that he uses to bash skulls of villagers in Gaul, and he knows he can make a loud noise with this hammer -- and in fact, he knows that when he hits something metal with it, sparks sometimes fly off it. This serves as his "data". Then he puts two and two together and creates his theory (or, as you state, "assumption based on limited information"). So, he says to his thains: "Thor, the thunder god, is angry, and is smashing things with his hammer Mjolner". Voila, a Myth/Theory is born.

    [ Parent ]
    pointless article (2.20 / 5) (#87)
    by boxed on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 03:26:31 PM EST

    This article is totally pointless. Of course the Big Bang theory has holes in it, ALL theories do, that's why it's a theory. The point is that there is no thery that is better. ALL other conflicting theories are either hundreds of times more complex (thus being eliminated by occams razor), or (this is more common) doesn't explain anything and thus is not science.

    The worship of science (4.05 / 19) (#90)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:17:29 PM EST

    The responses to this article are really telling about the authoritatian attitudes of a good number of k5 readers towards science.

    Science is done by real human beings, with all sorts of flaws, in hierarchical organizations where a reduced number of players get to call a disproportionate number of the shots (and thus whose errors get magnified). This contrary to the "democratic" image that many people here seem to be operating from, whereby scientists are the epitome of rationality, and if any person has a good idea which she can back up rationally, this idea will succeed.

    The reality is, of course, different. The way scientific research typically gets done is that big-name professors compete in a more frequently than not highly personalized fight for limited research funds (and that in such a fight, to admit failings in your research can get you in trouble). The actual research gets carried out by grad students, who very often have the real problem that their professor will not be very happy with their "performance" if they don't produce the right kind of result (I've seen many cases).

    There are also the issues of conceptual inertia-- if you've been trained all your life under a particular set of theoretical assumptions, you'll typically find it *very hard* to have the carpet pulled from under your feet with a foundationally different approach. Hell, I know people who are *professors* who keep on for years working on a theory they believe is wrong, just because (a) that's what they were taught as grad students, (b) they are on tenure track positions on departments where that is the dominant theory, and abandoning it would affect negatively their chances for tenure, (c) because they simply, after spending time with their teaching and research duties, and reading to keep up with the latest developments in the theory they use, and dealing with personal commitments like family, they just don't have any time left.

    Thus, for a scientific field to reject a better alternative it does not take a massive conspiracy of evil people out to deceive the public.

    It should also be mentioned that it is a very typical pattern of scientific theory change that when a new, clearly better theory comes along, the old professors reject it in favor of their old ways, and only some younger people adopt it. When the old people retire and/or die out, then it is that the theory takes off. (It is also known that at such moments, significant objections that the old people raised to the new theory get forgotten, but that's a story for another day...)

    --em

    Mediocre science (4.50 / 2) (#117)
    by thebrix on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 02:20:52 PM EST

    I can't help thinking you're referring to mediocre science and mediocre individuals (of both of which I know quite a few examples directly), and possibly experimental rather than theoretical science, as though they were representative of the totality, although I'm pretty sure they're a fair part of the totality. (In effect, bald men fighting over combs).

    However, historically, the really big breakthroughs have not been made from within such bureaucratic setups, and probably never could be. A theoretician, as Einstein put it, has a pencil as his laboratory and may not need (and, in the case of Dirac, for example, would probably disdain) teams of people and expensive supporting structures but, for example, Rutherford mentored a phenomenal number of excellent scientists and did crucial experimental work himself. When the conditions are right groups can do phenomenal things.

    I don't doubt that what you say happens in the short term. However, there are so many opportunities for exchanging information (quite apart from the expansion of media interest in science, I was astonished to find out that the entire corpus of work by British scientists in the last 20 years can be searched online!) that the right stuff gets out in the end. I don't think there are dozens of suppressed theories languishing in basements.

    [ Parent ]

    Not quite... (4.75 / 4) (#124)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 06:26:21 PM EST

    A theoretician, as Einstein put it, has a pencil as his laboratory and may not need (and, in the case of Dirac, for example, would probably disdain) teams of people and expensive supporting structures

    Not quite. Theoreticians need access to the research literature. This means academic libraries, which order all the costly specialist books as they come out and keep long-standing subscriptions to all the important research journals. These are clearly "expensive supporting structures".

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Relatively inexpensive (none / 0) (#140)
    by thebrix on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 08:38:47 AM EST

    Indeed, although the costs are miniscule compared to those of a great deal of experimental science (and the experimentalists need the literature as well, although the theoreticians may not need the experimentalists); the days when people like Rutherford and Thomson could do fundamental work with crude but clever equipment are gone.

    I know of an experiment in which three people (no collaboration) are currently working with £7m worth of equipment plus vast costs for liquified gases and so on ...

    [ Parent ]

    sponging (none / 0) (#153)
    by adiffer on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 11:49:12 PM EST

    Yah....

    but I can sponge off the nearby university for access to research materials. I can also stay in contact with others in my field and keep ahead of most things that appear in the library too.

    As a theoretician, I don't need a formal support system until I try to convince my peers of the value of my work. They judge me by my work and my position in a pecking order. I have a plan to deal with the pecking order issue when I need to.

    Until then, I am a theoretician that needs nothing but my pen, paper, and free (as in liberated) communication with anyone to whom I wish to talk.

    -Dream Big.
    --Grow Up.
    [ Parent ]

    Sort of (5.00 / 1) (#142)
    by JetJaguar on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 12:00:36 PM EST

    I think that you are correct in your assesment, but only up to a point. It is often the case that new theories have a hard time being accepted, for exactly the reasons you state. However, it is also the case that if a theory is "correct" enough evidence will eventually mount up, forcing its acceptance, regardless of how entrenched an older theory is. See the discovery of electron spin as an example, nobody believed it, and there were many physicists that were actively hostile to quantum spin theory.

    The fact is, progress does occur and new theories are eventually accepted, if they measure up. They may not gain acceptance as quickly as they might otherwise if scientists were less emotionally involved in their work, but they (we) are only human and not perfect, so the current status quo (whether we like it or not) is an expected outcome. It's not perfect, but eventually, on average, the right things do happen.

    [ Parent ]

    Good book on the subject (5.00 / 1) (#145)
    by Lemur on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 03:24:45 PM EST

    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Kuhn, Thomas S.

    Covers paradigm shifts and how theories displace one another, as well as the `social' aspects (the old guard that just can't get it, the up-and-commers who feel repressed and try to get the word out).

    Now if I could just remember what box my copy got stuck in n moves back . . .



    [ Parent ]
    Secondary topic question (none / 0) (#155)
    by adiffer on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 12:10:52 AM EST

    Do you remember if Kuhn goes into how the camp followers interact with the various factions supporting and opposing a paradigm too? I've been try to find my copy of the book too and not succeeding.

    This story reminds me of so many other situations I've seen where the rebel is capable of attracting followers outside the scientifically knowledgeable crowd. These supporters can't know (without learning the actual subject) the science well enough to know who is 'right' or 'wrong' and wind up relying upon the force of personality.

    It all reminds me of priests breaking away from the established order of the day and forming their own flocks. The force of their personality has a lot to do with their chances of success.

    -Dream Big.
    --Grow Up.
    [ Parent ]

    -1 (2.66 / 9) (#91)
    by VoxLobster on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 04:20:18 PM EST

    Calling the Big Bang a myth....not good. It's a theory. This is more of a nutcase rant than a story.

    VoxLobster
    I was raised by a cup of coffee! -- Homsar

    Concerning theories and myths... (3.00 / 3) (#123)
    by joto on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 06:23:39 PM EST

    Well, then. What is a myth, and what is a theory?

    A myth is a common belief that is held by a population of people, and usually, one also considers this belief to be false before calling it a myth. Since most scientists working with cosmology today believe the big bang actually happened, it would be awkward to call it a myth, since a myth is generally something we consider to be false.

    In general, a theory is assumed to be a simplified model of something. In natural science, one uses a theory of something to be able to make predictions. And the value of a theory is judged (or should be judged) purely by it's ability to predict new phenomena.(Of course, it also needs to be consistent and non-contradictory, but that is kind of obvious to most people). So if a scientific theory makes wrong predictions, it will be valued less than a theory that makes correct (or better) predictions.

    Of course, we must also take into account the nature of the predictions that can be made. If those predictions can never be tested in a laboratory experiment (or otherwise), they are as useless as no predictions. On the other hand, if those predictions can't be tested with todays technology, but maybe with future technology, the are little bit less useless, but not entirely interesting either. So to be highly valued, a theory should make accurate predictions about phenomena that can be tested in a laboratory (or some other) setting.

    A scientific theory is a theory that is highly valued by the majority of scientists working within the field (remember what is meant by value in the paragraph above).

    (Note: This is how science actually work. In theory (pun intended), a theory's value shouldn't be determined by a majority vote, but purely on it's ability to predict new phenomena, but that is harder to do in practice than in theory (again, pun intended)).

    Does theory imply truth? Of course not. We would all like to find truth of course, but failing a good criterion for truth, and generally being forced to use simplified models, no scientific theory can be said to embody truth. So science is not about finding truth, it is about finding methods of accurate prediction of natural phenomena.

    Ok, back to the original question. Is the big-bang theory a theory? It certainly is, it is a simplified model of something, and therefore a theory (this is almost a tautology).

    Well, that didn't tell us much. Now, is it also a scientific theory? At this point we must ask if the theory of big bang actually helps us make new and accurate predictions. Intuitively, it doesn't. It is about things supposedly happening in the past, that adds very little to our ability to predict current phenomena. And by it's very nature, the phenomena it tries to explain (the creation of the universe) is unobservable.

    But sometimes (or most of the time) intuition can be misleading. The big-bang theory actually predicts certain kind of phenomena. And if it predicts phenomena we cannot yet observe, but that we can observe in the future (with better technology), then it can be said to be a scientific theory.

    However, that is a blatant lie. There are many big-bang theories. And you have to pick one, to be able to make predictions. Simply saying that the universe started out as a singularity doesn't help us much. But once we start filling in the details about how this expansion occured, we can use that to predict how our universe looks today. But then we don't need the singularity anymore, because all the interesting stuff happened after the universe was created, and a theory could just as well pick an arbitrary starting point somewhere after the universe was created.

    But any such starting point would be completely arbitrary, it would be like creating a newtonian theory of mechanics arbitrarily limited to speeds below 60 km/h. Sure, the theory would help us make accurate predictions about physical phenomena with speeds lower than 60 km/h, but that restriction is arbitrary.

    And so it is, that most theories trying to explain how our universe is today, have to set a starting point, and the natural starting point is the creation of the universe. The only alternative is to say that the universe have always existed, but currently, the predictions made by such theories have not been able to make as good predictions as those assuming the universe started somewhere.

    Does that mean that the universe really must have started somewhere? Not really, for all purposes, that can just as well be considered a myth. The only thing we can conclude is that by assuming the universe started somewhere, we are able to make better predictions about the universe as it is today, than if we assume it has always existed. So yes, there are big-bang theories that are scientific theories, but big-bang itself is a myth, whose truth we can never verify.

    [ Parent ]

    Well, I am a cosmologist... (4.95 / 23) (#99)
    by Joh3n on Sat Apr 27, 2002 at 06:12:12 PM EST

    Moreover, I've worked with Chip Arp (actually, I just helped him reduce some data). Arp's contributions to the field many years ago (there's an atlas of galaxies named after him) were quite impressive. Unfortunately, he doesn't take quite well to criticism of his theory. He surmises that QSOs (quasars) are ejected from galaxies, and rejects any instances when gravitational lensing can provide a better description of many of his examples.

    The sad thing is that he goes so far as to accuse others in the field of purposely distorting our data, which seriously undermines his own credibility.

    I've talked with Chip many times about non-cosmological redshifts, and his default position always seems to be "You people can't explain this set of data points", to which I retort, "Yes, I can", to which he replies "Yes, but you use standard cosmology to make that explanation.....And on goes the loop.

    It is true that the standard cosmological model is incomplete at present. Hell, no theory will ever be complete. But the evidence points squarely at the hot big bang scenario from many, many directions, whereas Arps arguments come from a very narrow interpretation of a very small data set.

    One other thing: Gamow didn't coin the term big bang, it was Fred Hoyle, and he meant it sarcastically.

    -J
    ---------------------------------
    You can learn a lot about someone by popping in their un-rewound pr0n tape and seeing where exactly they came.
    -terpy

    Let me get this straight (4.94 / 18) (#105)
    by gbd on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 12:27:39 AM EST

    When you read a book by a lone man whose theories contradict those that are held by virtually all astronomers and cosmologists, you immediately assume that this lone man is correct and there is some sort of covert attempt by all of the rest of the world's scientists to bury the lone man's theories? No offense intended, but isn't it a bit more likely that the vast majority of astronomers and cosmologists reject the lone man's theories because they're not grounded in any reasonable interpretation of the observed evidence?

    I know it's popular to postulate a conspiracy involving some kind of evil, black-helicoptered, blue-helmeted, moustache-twisting, Persian-catted Scientific Orthodoxy making sure that nobody finds out The Truth. The fact of the matter is that if the theory has sufficient evidence, it will be accepted. Perhaps the most obvious example of this are Einstein's theories of special and general relativity, which completely shattered the way that we looked at time and the structure of the Universe. It had always been accepted that time was some sort of eternal one-way railroad track, completely separated from the three known spatial dimensions. The idea that time and space were both part of the same "object" (spacetime) was completely contrary to contemporary scientific thinking.

    But guess what? It was accepted, because it was consistent with the observed evidence.

    Frankly, the fact that a man's theories are so widely rejected by the mainstream scientific community says a lot more about the theories than it does about the scientific community. Your mileage, as always, may vary.

    --
    Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

    Eventually ... (4.75 / 8) (#116)
    by thebrix on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 02:00:33 PM EST

    A minor correction; it took a long time for both Special and General Relativity to be completely accepted because, especially with the Special Theory, the evidence was all around but not capable of being measured accurately enough.

    The General Theory was accepted first because it explained previously perplexing astronomical phenomena - and methods for comparing and measuring photographic plates were well developed by the 1920s - but to verify the Special Theory in full (the subtle reference frame effects, not E=mc^2 :) needed big advances in accurate timing which weren't really there until the 1960s and 1970s.

    (Incidentally, Einstein was a 'lone man' in both cases, more especially with the General Theory which essentially came from nothing whereas, with the Special Theory, there were fumblings in the dark by, among others, FitzGerald and Lorentz, but there was certainly no attempt to smother his theories. Given the Special Theory Minkowski produced, a few years later, brilliant workings-out which convinced many and are still instructive today, and many people realised the General Theory could be tested, by measuring the deflection of starlight from stars near to the Sun's limb during a solar eclipse, and put in a huge effort to do the tests).

    [ Parent ]

    I think a quote from Sagan is in order (4.50 / 6) (#126)
    by cyberdruid on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 06:51:58 PM EST

    "They laughed at Einstein. They laughed at Newton. Of course, they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." - Carl Sagan

    Just because one loner revolutionist-wannabe in a thousand is on to something, doesn't mean that you should treat them without a truckload of scepticism. It is important to take apriori probability into account.

    Also, the notion that the redshift of distant objects should be accounted to "aging matter" instead of speed sounds more than a little ad hoc. Redshift from speed can be observed every day. Redshift from aging matter has never been observed and is not predicted by theory. This is the very definition of "ad hoc".

    [ Parent ]

    Quote correction (4.75 / 4) (#130)
    by ToastyKen on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 08:57:14 PM EST

    For the record, the quote is: "They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown." -- Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain

    [ Parent ]
    Poll: The Big Bang (3.00 / 4) (#113)
    by X-Nc on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 12:30:00 PM EST

    It's real; it happened; I was there. - Q

    --
    Aaahhhh!!!! My K5 subscription expired. Now I can't spell anymore.
    more poll options (2.00 / 1) (#129)
    by martingale on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 08:51:10 PM EST

    Well I wasn't there *personally*, but my neighbour's uncle's former girlfriend saw it while driving to work

    [ Parent ]

    Where is the blueshift? (3.87 / 8) (#114)
    by NFW on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 12:47:02 PM EST

    If red-shift is a function of age, why do we see nothing with blueshift? Far as I know, we see only redshift. That seems suspiciously earth-centric.

    The expanding-universe theory suggests that all points of observation would perceive redshift. Thus the earth is in no way privileged. No problem.

    Arp's theory suggests that the shift is a function of age, in which case there should be a distribution of red- and blueshifted objects around us... yet we see no matter whose emissions 'are shorter (bluer) than in a terrestrial laboratory.' Are we privileged to be among on the youngest atoms in the universe? Or the oldest? I'm skeptical.


    --
    Got birds?


    Close to the Milky Way only (4.00 / 1) (#118)
    by arjan de lumens on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 02:40:24 PM EST

    There are a few (very weakly) blueshifted galaxies around. There is a total of about 100 of them, the most well-known one being the Andromeda galaxy. All of them are fairly close to the Milky Way (most of them orbit each other), whereas all the other known remaining billions of galaxies throughout the universe exhibit redshift.

    [ Parent ]
    Oh dear... (4.68 / 16) (#119)
    by xiox on Sun Apr 28, 2002 at 02:57:23 PM EST

    I am an X-ray astronomer. I don't think there's a great conspiracy here. Of course you can't know what you don't know, but the big bang model is a good working model for the start of the universe. If you can come up with evidence against it, that's good as it leads to development of the theory.

    The fact is that redshift is tied to movement directly by lab experiments. How do you think the policeman's radar gun works? You can easily map out the relative movements of parts of an astronomical object using the relative redshifts of the light coming from them. There is no evidence for age making photons redder. Arp probably has a problem explaining why you see different redshifts from the same object, which are described by inflows and outflows of gas from the object.

    Also we can see the host galaxies of quasars (e.g. here), so I can't see where all this rubbish about quasars being the "children" of galaxies comes from. I think Arp's theories can't stand up to modern evidence.

    If we look at black-holes, perhaps someone might explain how you could get the "horned" X-ray iron lines coming out of AGN, which show the light is climbing out of a deep potential well (see e.g. here), without having a black hole. This is probably the directest evidence of accretion from small radii which has been observed. You can't get the masses and sizes of the cores of AGN without them being black holes.

    I could go on a lot more, but I don't think this article is worth further discussion.

    same object redshifts (none / 0) (#138)
    by katie on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 07:45:18 AM EST

    "Arp probably has a problem explaining why you see different redshifts from the same object, which are described by inflows and outflows of gas from the object."

    Or even that the light from one side of the sun (or any other spinning body, but the sun is close and handy) is redshifted and the light from the other is blueshifted.




    [ Parent ]
    Dude (2.85 / 7) (#134)
    by Hopfrog on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 03:10:40 AM EST

    First of all, a black hole is not massive. It is a singularity, meaning it is so tiny it approaches nothing. It's sphere of influence, however, is massive.

    Secondly, the "Big Bang" is not really like a bomb explosion. It is the reverse of a singularity, like Hawking postulated. The whole point of the Big Bang is that the universe is expanding. Every other star is moving away from us. If that is happening, then the universe at some point muct have been a dot. And with the huge mass of the universe compressed into a dot, that would be a singularity, or the ultimate black hole.

    So, the big bang is not something out of nothing. It is merely a black whole that exploded to let all it's mass out.

    The most important thing in your statement is that red shift does not indicate retreat speed. f you can prove this, then you have shown that the universe is not expanding. Red shift measures the speed that stars are drifting away from us, and not their distance.

    It has been proven by observation that we CAN NOT have a steady-state universe. Claiming that needs some hefty proof, my friend.

    There is no "American media" conspiracy to keep Arp away from you. His work is just not recognized as being meaningful - there are thousands of scientists who postulate one thing or the other every day. You don't expect these to be spoken about in Fox every day, do you?

    Hop.

    His use of "massive" needs no correction (3.00 / 1) (#135)
    by digger on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 04:45:23 AM EST

    First of all, a black hole is not massive. It is a singularity, meaning it is so tiny it approaches nothing.


    The first dictionary meaning (from dictionary.com) is :-

    massive adj.

    Consisting of or making up a large mass; bulky, heavy, and solid: a massive piece of furniture.



    | optimisation precludes evolution |
    [ Parent ]
    Well even 'massive' is intended in the sense... (none / 0) (#143)
    by SIGFPE on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 01:06:10 PM EST

    ...of size, not mass, digger's response is still incorrect. The size of a black hole is measured by the size of the region enclosed by the event horizon and if cosmic censorship is to be believed then that's always bigger than just the singlarity.
    SIGFPE
    [ Parent ]
    I think he means... (4.66 / 3) (#136)
    by Obvious Pseudonym on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 04:46:25 AM EST

    First of all, a black hole is not massive. It is a singularity, meaning it is so tiny it approaches nothing. It's sphere of influence, however, is massive.

    I think he/she means 'massive' in the physics sense - i.e. 'having mass', not the vernacular sense - i.e. 'being very big'.

    While the size of a singularity is infinitessimal, it does have mass (and lots of it).

    Obvious Pseudonym

    I am obviously right, and as you disagree with me, then logically you must be wrong.
    [ Parent ]

    so what created the big bang singularity (none / 0) (#152)
    by brandon21m on Mon Apr 29, 2002 at 09:59:18 PM EST

    First, let's go back one step further. We have the singularity that will soon become the universe once it explodes. The first question that comes to mind is: where did that singularity come from? It didn't just appear out of nowhere did it? If not then who or what created it so that it could blow up into what is now our universe? Seems to me the further you go back to asking where did "that" come from whether it be the universe, the singularity that made the universe, etc. you still run into where did that previous object come from. Hopefully someone significant will realize that at one point we just have to stop and accept that God had to lend a hand in our existence. Of course that deals with religion and since not everyone is Christian then that "theory" can't be true for everyone's existence can it? At least that's the question people will pose to refute the claim since it's based on God whose existence supposedly can't be proven.

    Second question, just out of curiousity, is where exactly was the singularity located? Of course it would be the center of the universe right? But the universe is infinite as far as we know so how can there be a center? What, if any, is the significance of the initial location of the singularity that formed the universe?

    So, the big bang is not something out of nothing. It is merely a black whole that exploded to let all it's mass out.

    By the time a black hole would explode its mass would be so small compared to the mass of the present universe that it doesn't seem quite right that the universe could thus come from an exploding black hole. The masses don't match up.



    [ Parent ]
    re (none / 0) (#158)
    by sal5ero on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 12:45:04 AM EST

    since not everyone is Christian

    *sigh*... Christian's aren't the only ones who believe in God, you know...




    [ Parent ]
    Explanation (none / 0) (#160)
    by Hopfrog on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 02:00:15 AM EST

    Did you ever think of this - the distance between two atoms is infinite, because you can always divide into two. The distance between two planets is also infinite, because you can always divide it into two. So, if the universe shrinks into the size of a singularity, it is still the universe, but in much smaller form. So we might be living in a singularity right now, that might explode at some later stage.

    Anyways, the answer is that there has always been mass. It just contracts into a singularity, then explodes, then slowly contracts again. No God neccesary for that.

    And there is not "location" when we are talking about the universe. When the universe is a singularity, there is no "space" outside of this singularity. This singularity is the only thing existent. Space only exists if there are reference objects, and if there are no reference objects, it isn't space.

    Now that the singularity has expanded, there is surely some center of the universe. However, ALL stars are moving away from us! Does that make us the center of the universe? No, because if you look at the picture of the galaxy, you see we are in a wing of a spiral universe.

    Hop.

    [ Parent ]

    err.... (none / 0) (#161)
    by VrtlCybr2000 on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 03:48:44 AM EST

    No, because if you look at the picture of the galaxy, you see we are in a wing of a spiral universe.



    galaxy.. a spiral galaxy.... ;-)

    [ Parent ]
    true, true (none / 0) (#162)
    by Hopfrog on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 04:40:09 AM EST

    You got me pardner

    [ Parent ]
    ah close (none / 0) (#165)
    by raaymoose on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 02:02:45 PM EST

    You're just about spot on, but you must realise that there is no centre of the universe. Remember that local motion (within the galaxy, within the local cluster) is insignificant on the scale of the universe. This is just local gravity effects; it doesn't refute the fact that every point is the centre of the universe.



    [ Parent ]
    Some questions (none / 0) (#167)
    by brandon21m on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 04:47:32 PM EST

    Did you ever think of this - the distance between two atoms is infinite, because you can always divide into two. The distance between two planets is also infinite, because you can always divide it into two. So, if the universe shrinks into the size of a singularity, it is still the universe, but in much smaller form.

    Atoms can only get so close to each other can they not? I can only get so close to you as to touch you. Beyond that distance I'd basically be inside of you, overlapping the space you consume. I'd think that atoms can only get so close as to be touching each other and therefore they could not get any closer unless their shape could change in order to be more efficient with the space they take up (a bunch of squares would be able to consume all a given amount of space, a bunch of circles would waste some of that space). Therefore the density can only be so great because the atoms can only be compressed so much until there is no space left between them to consume.

    Anyways, the answer is that there has always been mass. It just contracts into a singularity, then explodes, then slowly contracts again. No God neccesary for that.

    You sure do put a simple concept to the complexity of our universe. Almost cheapens the existence of the universe in my opinion. As complex as the laws of our universe are I would think that they couldn't just be created on the fly. You don't get something like that by accident. It's just like Earth's weather systems. That complexity doesn't just happen. And you have to start somewhere. There can't have always been mass. It had to come from somewhere. If the mass always existed then time would have always existed.

    Also, when you just have a singularity you do have a reference object: the singularity itself. Assuming you have a singuarlity and nothing else then what do you call the "space" around the singuarlity? You simply have to have something there. Physicists keep trying to make the universe as simple as possible the further back in time they try to theorize time itself. At some point you just have to stop and realize that there was a beginning and that w/o a higher power creating that beginning there can always be questions for the events that occurred previously because you could always say "well what was there before" or "how did that get there". The existence of the universe can only be traced back so far until you run into a period of time where things didn't just happen on their own anymore. You run into a single cause without any other previous causes.



    [ Parent ]
    What created the big bang? dunno (none / 0) (#163)
    by drhyde on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 07:07:58 AM EST

    I know analogies are dangerous, but in this case I think it is useful.  I paraphrase this from James Hogan:

    Imagine a race of intelligent beings that live in a flame.  Their physics is that of the flame.  They can trace their flame-universe right back to the moment the match was struck.  However, they can't go back any further because their physics can't cope with the event which started the flame, as it involves cold-world physics - that is, their physics breaks down at the singularity which birthed their universe.  They could then hypothesise, like some humans do about their universe, that the flame-universe was created by a god.

    I see no reason why the event which started our universe is any different.  We are the flame people, and the big bang is a pretty damned good explanation of what happened in the moments immediately after the match was struck (note that it does NOT describe the moment that the match was struck - it can not describe the phase change from not-flame-universe to flame-universe).  However, it is nonsensical to ask what happened before the match was struck, as our physics breaks down at the singularity which started it all.  Any talk about the moment of the big bang or about what caused it is nothing but speculation.

    Of course, if someone has real evidence of the nature of that singularity or of what caused it, then I suggest that they publish it in a peer-reviewed journal, and then watch as everyone flocks to their particular brand of temple to pay their tithes.

    [ Parent ]

    British idiot, Raeto West (4.75 / 4) (#164)
    by jamiemccarthy on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 12:53:00 PM EST

    Perhaps the British free-thinker, Raeto West, said it best: "I regard the Big Bang as a creation myth for our time."

    To give you an idea of the trustworthiness of Raeto West, here is some text from his website regarding a subject with which I am intimately familiar -- me. Raeto wrote this back when I worked with The Nizkor Project. Let's see how many errors he can work into two and a half sentences:

    Several names appear relating to Nizkor, Daniel Keren, Jamie McCarthy, Ken McVay, who seem to be full-time employees; I'm uncertain even if the names are genuine. I don't know whether they claim any originality. As an example, Ken McVay posted on the 'Institute for Historical Revisionism'...

    He doesn't know whether my name is genuine despite the fact that we traded emails back and forth several times. At the time, neither I nor Daniel Keren was a full-time employee and there was no evidence suggesting that we were. And the name of the group is "Institute for Historical Review," not "...Revisionism."

    If you're wondering what this webpage is all about, the short version is that Raeto West is a Holocaust-denier, or at least someone who is so blunderingly contrarian that he's willing to give even Holocaust-denial the benefit of the doubt.

    Here's another example. In this passage, he's trying to tell his audience about what deniers say about the word "ausrotten." This is a German verb cognate with English "root out," and since the time of Martin Luther its meaning has been "to destroy utterly, to annihilate, to extirpate." Top Nazis such as Hitler and Himmler announced that their plans for "the Jewish people" were to "ausrotten" them.

    Holocaust-deniers have tried lamely to explain this away by arguing about the meaning of "ausrotten," and here Raeto tries vainly to summarize their arguments:

    What does `final solution' mean? ... For the sake of brevity I'll confine myself to the word `endlosung'. This was used in many German documents and speeches; nobody disputes this. Unfortunately its meaning seems to be ambiguous and also to have changed over the years. It could mean extermination; but it could mean uprooting.

    He's got the wrong word (and he spelled it wrong too). Even if he had the right word "ausrotten," no its meaning is not ambiguous, and no its meaning has not changed since the 16th century.

    The remainder of his page on Holocaust so-called "revisionism" is just as unreliable. He's not a bad sloganeer, but I think I'll take my views on the Big Bang from, what do you call them, oh yeah, reputable cosmologists.

    Conspiracy or dying hope (3.00 / 1) (#166)
    by kostya on Tue Apr 30, 2002 at 03:41:57 PM EST

    I'll leave the refutation of Arp to the comments below. I just want to offer an observation: prior to the Big Bang, the "holy, true, and absolute" belief was that the universe was constant and had no beginning. So Arp is just refusing to give up the ghost. Which isn't surprising--heck, Einstein fudged his work because he was firmly convinced of the steady-state model of the universe. He later claimed it to be the most singular error of his career.

    So is it a conspiracy, or does Arp just force the evidence into his favor because he can't accept a variable model of the universe? You point out people not wanting to accept evidence that contradicts their view point--have you considered that it might be precisely what Arp is doing?



    ----
    Veritas otium parit. --Terence
    Pre-Bang? (none / 0) (#168)
    by ironfroggy on Thu May 02, 2002 at 01:19:54 AM EST

    My only problem with the big bang is the same as my problem with Christian, Judaic, and Muslim creationism. Where the hell did the stuff from the big bang come from? Could we just settle on the fact that maybe the universe never was created? It could have just always existed. That's cooler anyways! Just a long, endless, never ending bang, ricochet bang, ricochet... See the proof!
    -- Question
    Pre-Bang. (none / 0) (#173)
    by NFW on Fri May 03, 2002 at 05:46:57 PM EST

    I could be wrong about this (I'm no cosmologist), but it seems to me that the 'big bang' event is NOT the beginning of the universe in a temporal sense. It is often spoken about as if the universe did not exist prior to the big bang, but the true significance of the big bang is that we cannot (yet? ever?) deduce anything about the state of the universe prior to the big bang. Not that it didn't exist prior to the big bang, just that we can't prove or disprove anything about its state prior to the big bang.

    The singularity at the start of the big bang episode represents a state of the universe that we cannot see through - it's the limit of our observational and extrapolational powers (assuming that "extrapolational" is actually a word). This doesn't mean the universe wasn't there beforehand, just means that we can't tell what it looked like beforehand. We can't observe it, can't test it, can't confirm or falsify any theories about it.

    To the scientific way of thinking, something you can't observe, measure, confirm, or falsify - even indirectly - is utterly uninteresting. It might as well be ignored. So when speaking casually they act as if the universe didn't event exist prior to the big bang. My guess is that it did - the idea that we got "something from nothing" is more than little abhorrent. But since we can't observe or extrapolate anything about it, we can't say anything about it, so we don't say anything about it. There's no way to prove or disprove any claims made of the state of the universe prior to the singularity, so any discussion would be a waste of breath.

    So while the singularity is popularly thought of as the beginning of "the universe," it's really just the beginning of the OBSERVABLE universe. Sure it existed prior to the singularity. But since (we believe) no information about it survived the singularity, it's completely uninteresting.

    It will be interesting when (if) someone figures a way to extrapolate from observable data to times prior to the singularity. In other words, when (if) we find information that survived the singularity. That seems impossible based on current theory, but one never knows.


    --
    Got birds?


    [ Parent ]

    I revised my article based on the comments (none / 0) (#171)
    by tiger on Thu May 02, 2002 at 07:18:15 PM EST

    The new version is at Big-Bang Bunk. The changes are concentrated in the Halton Arp’s Observations section.

    The changes address the following items brought up in the comments. Except for the gravitational-lens item, which I had said nothing about in my original article, the other items were misunderstandings and/or assumptions that were caused by the way I had written my article.

    • Arp has no peer-reviewed publications supporting his observations and/or conclusions.
    • Arp's book "Seeing Red" is a popular-science book.
    • Arp says redshift does not have anything to do with velocity.
    • Gravitational-lens excuse.
    • Arp's quote about black holes says that "everything is falling out" of black holes, which is obviously wrong.

    Thanks to all who commented.

    --
    Americans :— Say no to male genital mutilation. In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child



    The Big Bang: Reasons to Doubt It | 174 comments (148 topical, 26 editorial, 0 hidden)
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