A BIG NOISE DOES NOT BIG SCIENCE MAKE.
Abstract: The Big Bang cosmological model is possibly completely false. It depends alarmingly upon the speed of expansion of the universe, assuming that, for reason and mechanism unknown, it was, at some point, for some convenient duration, trillions of trillions of times the speed of light. Or maybe not.
I give also a few other reasons to throw cold water on the Big Bang.
Geometrically the Big Bang assumes that it is “turtles all the way down”. Yet, Quantum Physics, properly interpreted, gives us reasons to think otherwise. Especially after integrating the latest experimental results on the apparent singularization of Quantum waves (2011). (If that gets confirmed, singularization is the greatest discovery in Quantum Physics since 1924: Louis De Broglie would be right, and Niels Bohr, wrong. I have always believed in singularization.)
It is unfortunate that this activity, Big Bang physics, has been all too much celebrated as the greatest success of the human spirit, and scientific rigor. I will try to show below that it is closer to mythology than to proper science. Although my reasons below are deep and cogent, it is clear that even the masses have some intuitive doubts about scientists who seem all too sure about the grandest scheme of things. Having Hawking telling us about “A Short History of Time“, when nobody knows what time is, is not conducive to respect.
No wonder that, with such a model as the Big Bang brandished all the time as science much to admire, and presumably to emulate, all too many people feel that with science, anything goes. And thus, as often found in the USA, in a further identification, that anything goes is science. So to each its own. And next thing you know, fundamentalists pop up in every backyard.
On the positive side, Big Bang madness gives an opportunity to illustrate the fact that the topology of the space of all theories is not connected (if a single one of a few hypotheses Big Bangists make casually, is false, the Big Bang theory will completely implode into the nothingness it claims the universe arises from!)
[The essay is technical in parts; readers are invited to imitate Big Bang physicists, and jump over any part they don't understand, to get a feeling for the overall message, which is that Big Bang physics is not science according to the most exacting standards of science… Paradoxically enough for an area with such pretense!]
A physicist relates in “Turtles all The Way Down?” that he got an interesting email about the Big Bang. Basically the writer said it was obvious mythology, and the physicist insisted it was not so: “The writer said she didn’t see how you could make something out of nothing. She collects creation myths and thought that, no matter how you sliced it, it’s always “turtles all the way down.” This is a reference to creation myths where the world is poised on top of a turtle, which is itself poised on top of something else, but raises the issue: Is there any firm ground?
This is worth addressing because it illustrates the gulf between the understandings in people’s minds about the Big Bang on one hand, and how physicists deal with it on the other. To be clear – we have a wealth of observations that support the Big Bang, but you have to be careful. We can only look back into the universe to a moment 300,000 years after the ‘start,’ as best we can discern it. At this early moment, the universe went from being opaque to transparent… The remnant photons from this time are seen as the so-called cosmic microwave radiation “
The later pontificating affirmation depends upon the common wisdom interpretation of the 3 degree Kelvin Cosmic Microwave Radiation as photons from the Big Bang explosion. Well, that’s mostly an hypothesis. For example, if photons, just as neutrinos (long thought to be massless), turn out to have a non zero rest mass, that hypothesis will be out of the window.
Those cosmic microwave photons are supposed to be cosmically distended, and thus weakened, by the expansion of their wave packets from the cosmic expansion of space, the later itself depending upon the Big Bang model. This is just a supposition, albeit a crucial one. In other words, the Big Bang model is eerily reminiscent of a house of cards of mutually supporting assertions: turtles all the way down in a mutually supporting circle.
I will argue that it looks all too much as a vicious circle to be used as a way to illustrate what science is. Science is about establishing iron clad proofs, not wishful thinking with proofs depending upon what they want to demonstrate (which is all what the interpretation of cosmic photons as big bangers is).
Reconciling models with data sounds reasonable. That is what is done in most of science. However it is not scientific, if the models have nothing to do with reality to start with. If the model is angels on a pinhead, no amount of tweaking of the model, will get it right.
This is related to a much more general problem, that of the distance between systems of thought (which is all what “models” are). If models are too far from each other, they cannot morphed into each other.
When Darwinian style models were unable to explain ultra fast adaptative evolution, epigenetics had to be invented.
The greatest discovery in cosmology since the discovery of the expansion has been the fact that it proceeded at an accelerating pace. That was not predicted by the main stream cosmology.
It was pointed out by De Sitter (1917), Friedman (1924) and Lemaître (1927) that the Einstein gravity equation described an expanding universe (none of these scientists were American).
The work of a number of astronomers, culminating with Hubble, confirmed the expansion later: the visible universe was dynamic. As an homage to American hegemony, Lemaître’s law came to be known as Hubble Law. Never mind that Hubble himself as late as 1936, did not believe in the Big Bang finding weird the “anomaly of a curiously small and dense and… suspiciously young universe”. Besides the injustice, it introduces a flaw in the logical flow of discovery.
When it became obviously confirmed that distant galaxies were receding, and the further, the faster, Einstein proclaimed his “greatest blunder”, that of having introduced a “Cosmological Constant”, precisely to imply a static universe.
The Einstein gravity field equation was built to reflect Riemann’s 1854 idea on the nature of force. That came out of his Habilitationsschrift entitled Über die Hypothesen welche der Geometrie zu Grunde liegen (“On the hypotheses which underlie geometry“), a remarkable essay that contained just one equation (if that). Riemann observed that acceleration could be described by geodesics behavior, whether they came together, or separated. Thus force could be so described.
Basically, applied to gravity, that meant the gravity equation ought to be: curvature of spacetime = mass-energy of spacetime.
However Quantum Physics was discovered meanwhile. It says that energy travels in packets (Planck 1900-Einstein 1905). Yet, those packets are computed by waves (De Broglie 1923).
In other words, it was not turtles all the way down. At some point, the turtles turn into waves.
Einstein’s gravity equations did not incorporate matter, in a detailed way, that is, Quantum Physics. When some Quantum Field Theory ideas were introduced a bit (Zeldovich, before 1973, “Hawking radiation“, 1974), it turned out that, after all, Black Holes evaporated (contrarily to what Michell (1784) and Laplace (1796), discoverers of the idea of Black Holes would have expected to be ever possible in the slightest way).
But much more needs to be done: except when wave packets have collapsed, matter is all waves. The exact nature of these waves is unknown. Recent Quantum experiments, using “weak measurements” apparently exhibit waves-with-singularities, the picture De Broglie himself had proposed to go further than the Copenhagen Interpretation of de Broglie’s work.
Should something like the Big Bang make sense, the exact mathematical nature of the matter waves, and how to accommodate those singularities would have to become paramount. (As the purported confirmation of the singularities was published on June 2, 2011 in Science magazine, the depth of these considerations will take some time to reach the society of cosmologists… After all it took more than 40 years to realize that the time-energy uncertainty implied Black Hole evaporation, which should have been immediately obvious!)
Back to our cosmological theory timeline. Time passed. Gamow made fun of the notion of everything coming out of a point, calling it the “Big Bang“. However, the Cosmological Cosmic Background was found at 3 Kelvin, a remnant, it was suggested of said explosion.
That ruled out the Steady State Cosmology, it seemed.
Yet, when regions distant by more than light can travel, they were found to be the same, as if the universe had always been there.
So some physicists postulated that the universe had expanded faster than light by an enormous factor. That was called inflation, caused by a non observed “inflaton field“.
Indecipherable reasonings were rolled out to claim that the mass-energy uncertainty inequality could be made to fabricate matter and energy, as needed. Indecipherable: indeed, a point of infinite density does not make sense in Quantum Physics (which basically insists that there are no points). And never mind that the new Big Bang, cosmological inflation looked exactly like Hoyle’s Steady State theory, after all (as Hoyle himself pointed out to a frosty reception in 1994).
The Big Bang reasonings are full of major assumptions whose proofs are justified by the end, namely the Big Bang, truly a beginning (as found in the Bible?).
For example, how do we know that cosmological photons do not, in some sense, simply age, producing thus the 3 Kelvin background? How do we know that, if the universe can expand so incredibly fast at some point, it could not expand incredibly slow, at some other point? Or even shrink for a while, in a recession, before resuming inflation?
For that matter we do not know why, at this point, the universe is expanding ever faster. Or is it just here?
And what is the evidence that a universe can be created out of nothing? Stanford’ s professor Linde, one of the originator of the inflation cosmology, has been writing articles where he creates universes all over, all the time. There is zero evidence for that.
(There was a whole school of Soviet physicists who, for philosophical reasons, were highly critical of “General Relativity”, starting, correctly with its absurd name; they followed Vladimir Fock 1955 book… which I own. Zeldovich and Linde were among them, they basically discovered much of what was attributed later to Western physicists, to emphasize the glory of plutocratically connected universities!)
Big bang specialists will snarl that I did not mentioned that GUTs (Grand Unified Theories)fit the Big Bang like a glove, so my objection that the Quantum is not integrated in the Big Bang is uninformed.
However, we talk of different things, at different scales. The Big Bang ultimately makes assertions, unsupported assertions, I added, about what is called the Trans-Planckian scale, where Quantum Field Theory breaks down. Conventional Big Bang theory uses basically Riemann’s mathematics from 1854 CE that ignores the waves-with-singularities that the universe is probably made of. That’s fine as a classroom project, it’s not fine as an example of what science can do, or, a fortiori, of what science is.
Big Bang cosmology is not science in the usual meaning of the term. It’s not molecular biology, geology, or material science. Nor mathematics. It’s all too much a bunch of assumptions piled up on top of each other, covered up by ironclad naïve certainty, a contagious illness probably contacted from the Standard Model of particle physics.
Real science demonstrates why Sea Lions and Seals, although they look the same, at first sight, are actually very different, since they evolved from very different ancestors. That illustrates well convergent evolution, when the same mathematics in the environment lead to the same solutions.
Real science demonstrates how stars evolve, going through many stages according to their masses and the nature of the various successive thermonuclear reactions in their core.
Real science explains why life is carbon based, thanks to the wealth of complexities carbon chemistry lends itself to.
Real science explains what happens to cause a tsunami (confirming what Greek philosophers suspected it was, 25 centuries ago).
Big Bang cosmology uses all too finely tuned reasonings unsupported by firm logic or experimental certainty, all over its theoretical landscape. Possibly, it’s completely false. It is unfortunate that this possible complete falsehood is depicted by physicists eager for cheap fame or book sales as the ultimate in science. In its present state, it is the best creation mythology we have, or an amusing project, but little more than that.
Inflated science is poetry, or metaphor. It is not science. Real science is truth. Real science is what’s left when everything else has been exposed as lies. In the case of the Big Bang, among other things, all other possibilities besides the common interpretation of Cosmic Microwave Background, have not been examined in detail, and thus
Real science is what allows planes to fly, not a bunch of lies and exaggerations held together by the thin veneer of self glorification. Scientific poetry, such as the Big Bang, is closer to science fiction, or mythology.
John Huth concludes his essay reasonably with: “We [Big bang cosmologists]fully realize that our models will extrapolate to conditions that raise difficult issues, like infinite densities. More often than not, the difficult conditions are something we avoid talking about, because, largely, we cannot really test or measure these. If it is inaccessible, it is inaccessible. The work can be perhaps more likened to the work of explorers. Our job is to map new territories, and, if anything, we can only report on territories we’ve explored. What lies beyond the horizon is a matter of speculation.
Responses? Questions? Contact me on Twitter @John Huth”
One would wish cosmologists would be that reasonable, all the time, for all to read and hear. How well one has explored, that is the question. For the longest time, explorers reported the strangest things and monsters they had absolutely seen (an exasperated Aristotle dispatched students to go out and faithfully report on all the biology they could rigorously observe). To claim one has seen light from a big boom may be true, but it is not scientifically demonstrated. Yet.
(And that photons do not age seems unlikely to me for reasons I have mentioned in older essays of mine. I am happy to report that Feynman, no less, approved of my considerations when I evoked them.)
One interest of science is to teach how the faith we have in models can be reconciled with evidence. That the distance between models can be insurmountable is an important lesson in the history of thought. No amount of tweaking could bring the geocentric theory close to the correct one, the heliocentric theory. One had to shatter the faith, to realize that yes, quite possibly, planets were turning around the sun: that is what Buridan and his students concluded around 1300 CE, after rolling over Aristotle’s erroneous physics, and introducing the concept of inertia. However, of course, they added perfidiously, ‘scripture‘ said the sun turned around the Earth, so we may as well believe that, since we cannot tell at this point, for sure.
If the distance between models with scientific pretense can be insurmountable, so can it be, for the distances between mentalities (and, in particular, civilizations). That is the core justification of the crackdown secularism had to implement upon murderous superstitions. (The obvious example being the outlawing of the Celtic or Carthagenese religions, to put it intemporally, not wanting to allude to anything having to do with the sects of Abraham… At least today.)
It’s not turtles all the way down, or turtles everywhere. Genuinely different thought systems and mentalities exist. And the way to explore that is by excluding all other possibilities, the way real science does, and the way that, precisely cosmology of the origins does, and cannot do.
Some will cynically argue that, to get funding to launch satellites and other big science projects, one needs pretty stories to charm the infantile minds of politicians. But I will not go down that slippery slope.
The main interest of science is to teach to the obscure masses how to learn to distinguish truth from fiction. Everything else, however useful, is secondary. To pass a charming fiction such as the Big Bang for a certainty is just the sort of masquerade of the scientific method that genuine scientist will want to eschew.