Posts Tagged ‘Scientific method’

With Physics Like That, Who Needs Reality?

June 9, 2015

The quest for reality has been exemplified by science. However:

From a recent New York Times op-ed, “A Crisis at the Edge of Physics:”

“DO physicists need empirical evidence to confirm their theories?

You may think that the answer is an obvious yes, experimental confirmation being the very heart of science. But a growing controversy at the frontiers of physics and cosmology suggests that the situation is not so simple.”

In December 2014 famous physicists George Ellis and Joseph Silk, published in the journal Nature…Scientific Method: Defend the Integrity of Physics…Attempts to exempt speculative theories of the Universe from experimental verification undermine science.”

Science is immensely old. I pointed this out for dogs in “Very Ancient Relationships“. The Ancient Greeks had more than six breeds of cattle which had been evolved in Greece, specifically, to genetically modify them in a suitable manner:

Obtained By Ancient Greece Artificial & Natural Selections

Obtained By Ancient Greece Artificial & Natural Selections

[The Greeks were famous for their mix of natural and artificial selection of cattle.]

Ellis and Silk wrote that:

“This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue — explicitly — that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical. We disagree. As the philosopher of science Karl Popper argued: a theory must be falsifiable to be scientific.

Actually, Ellis and Silk are completely wrong there. The theory that the Earth turned around the Sun, originated by Aristarchus of Samos (a Greek island in sight of Anatolia, presently swamped by refugees). Its competitor was the geocentric theory. However, there was a strong argument against geocentrism: it stretched credulity. Indeed, the Greeks could compute that the Sun was much much larger than the Earth. It made sense that the little thing turned around the big thing as Buridan pointed out (around 1330 CE). To this geocentrists could only reply with silly arguments such as: man and his creator are big, etc.

So Karl Popper was also wrong. In the most spectacular case.

The Heliocentric Theory was a full blown scientific theory, so was the Geocentric Epicycles. However only a careful study of the illumination of the phases of Venus showed definitively that the the latter was wrong. This happened only in the mid-Seventeenth Century.

Ellis and Silk: “Chief among the ‘elegance will suffice’ advocates are some string theorists. Because string theory is supposedly the ‘only game in town’ capable of unifying the four fundamental forces, they believe that it must contain a grain of truth even though it relies on extra dimensions that we can never observe. Some cosmologists, too, are seeking to abandon experimental verification of grand hypotheses that invoke imperceptible domains such as the kaleidoscopic multiverse (comprising myriad universes), the ‘many worlds’ version of quantum reality (in which observations spawn parallel branches of reality) and pre-Big Bang concepts.”

In other words, many leading physicists are arguing for leaving behind the search for evidence, the old fashion way, leaving no stone unturned, just like smart prehistoric men did. Instead:

“These unprovable hypotheses are quite different from those that relate directly to the real world and that are testable through observations — such as the standard model of particle physics and the existence of dark matter and dark energy. As we see it, theoretical physics risks becoming a no-man’s-land between mathematics, physics and philosophy that does not truly meet the requirements of any.

The issue of testability has been lurking for a decade. String theory and multiverse theory have been criticized in popular books1, 2, 3 and articles…. In March 2014, one of the founders of inflation theory, theorist Paul Steinhardt wrote5 in Nature that “the theory of inflationary cosmology is no longer scientific because it is so flexible that it can accommodate any observational result”.

As I said above, Popper was wrong: falsifiability is neither necessary, nor sufficient to qualify a theory as scientific.

Another example of untestable theory was biological evolution through natural selection: they Greeks knew it to be true. One can read the theory explicitly stated in Lucretius’ giant poem about the universe. However the Greeks did not. know how to test it. The only tests they knew were indirect, they had to do with ARTIFICIAL selection.

Still biological evolution was a valid scientific theory, although untestable for millennia, and perhaps even hundreds of thousand of millennia. Many a shaman is bound to have stumbled upon it.

New York Times: “Implicit in such a maneuver is a philosophical question: How are we to determine whether a theory is true if it cannot be validated experimentally? Should we abandon it just because, at a given level of technological capacity, empirical support might be impossible? If not, how long should we wait for such experimental machinery before moving on: ten years? Fifty years? Centuries? …

Are superstrings and the multiverse, painstakingly theorized by hundreds of brilliant scientists, anything more than modern-day epicycles?”

Not even that. Epicycles were useful and observable. They actually are true in some sense, because they reflect Fourier Analysis of periodic motions.

Today’s most brandished “scientific” theories have nothing good about them, and worse of all, they don’t pass the smell test. Just as the Geocentric Theory did not pass the smell test. Just much worse. Theories were a gazillion universes get created in every cubic millimeters are just insane. Arguable even more insane as the worst from Daesh.

And guess what? Both insanities are related. If all what our supposedly best minds, our most rational, most scientific minds can produce, and brandish, is sheer insanity, why can’t Islam Fundamentalists, Saudi despots, North Korean dictators, and hordes of degenerated plutocrats not be crazy too?

So why not go with the flow? There are jobs to be had there. Saudi Arabia is looking for more eight more executioners to execute those who “insult Islam“. No experience necessary. Just a willingness to whip and “amputate”.

Patrice Ayme’

Cosmic Background Fanaticism

July 3, 2014

We have one experimental find: the Cosmic Radiation Background (CRB), a uniform light from all over the sky at 2.7 degree Kelvin. I will argue that, on the face of it, it has three possible causes. However only one is considered to be true, and is consequently explored to death. That is, as if the lives of physicists depended on it. In truth, it’s only their careers that depend upon it.

A theory nearly everybody believes in, is the “Big Bang”. After all, it’s in the Bible. The Bible is popular, thus, so is the “Big Bang”. As behooves something so big, it’s supposed to explain everything, for example why there is a Cosmic Radiation Background, why there is Helium, etc.

Pleiades Star Cluster: Close To Olbers Effect...

Pleiades Star Cluster: Close To Olbers Effect…

Skeptics will smirk: for centuries people searched for the Cosmic Radiation Background: then, it was called “Olbers Paradox”. The “Paradox” was that there should be a Cosmic Light Background (the light of distant stars)…

Olbers’ reasoning was simple: 1) suppose the universe is infinite. 2) thus looking anywhere around the sky, once gaze is bound to end on the surface of a star. 3) therefore the sky ought to be uniformly bright according to the brightness of the average star.

[Let’s forget modern subtleties such as Red Dwarf Stars and Brown Dwarves…]

However, pointed out Olbers there was no uniform brightness.

Now one such uniform cosmic light has been found, though, nobody seems to remember Olbers’ name. Olbers’ reasoning is inconvenient.

Indeed, ever since Maxwell, we have established that light is electromagnetic radiation. So the Olbers Paradox could very well show up, not as visible light, but as a weak radiation. Why? Well, suppose that distant parts of the Universe recede, as Hubble and his predecessors and colleagues observed: the light from distant stars would shift into the very deep infrared… As observed!

However, now that the Olbers Paradox has become the Olbers Effect, it’s used to explain something else completely different, and outright weird: the Big Boom. Instead of being the light of distant stars (or the like), as Olbers would have had it, the Cosmic Radiation Background (CRB) is viewed as the light from… an explosion.

We see the expansion, we see the stars, we see the galaxies, do we see the explosions?

And the question then appears: what happened to the initial Olbers Paradox? Why does nobody talk about it anymore? Could it not be that the Cosmic Radiation Background is even boosted the Olbers Effect with, say, tired light?

Why are these sort of natural, historically laden questions not addressed anymore?

The answer is simple: take Princeton University’s Physics Department. All professors there are string theorists. Problem: strings don’t exist. So these people are professors of inexistence. No wonder they can’t answer history.

It’s true that theoretical considerations can lead to phenomenological interrogations. But string theory had its chance. By occupying all the theoretical space, it prevents other theories to have their chance too.

Let’s change intellectual gears, and lift the debate into Meta.

What we have here is one experimental find: the Cosmic Radiation Background (CRB), a uniform light from all over the sky at 2.7 degree Kelvin.

We have three possible explanations, yet only one is pushed and pushed and pushed. That’s not the proper scientific method. To figure things out, we have to look everywhere, and make sure that logical branching points have been explored.

OK, governments do not give enough money to do that. They prefer hedge fund managers and Google clowns.

In the age when robots can replace most work, it’s time to reconsider this. Why? Why is it so important to get the universe right? Well, be it only because by doing so, we make our intelligence more subtle. In Bangladesh, the sea is now rising more than 16 millimeters per year, threatening one hundred million people. And nobody knows why.

Perfecting our ability to observe and make theories is our essence. And no better place there is to perfect it than the entire universe.

On a more aggressive meta level, to understand fanaticism, and the related intellectual fascism is urgently needed. In this respect the entire field of physics, as the self described most clever people in the world can be exposed to be complete fools.

Remember the TOE? The Theory Of Everything? Well, as we now know, physicists have theories on, at most 4% of the universe. And those are obviously incomplete. But that’s another story.

In the same vein, maybe they have only a 4% explanation of the Cosmic Radiation Background. Those who are honest enough, and clever enough, will admit that may well be true. No honesty in matters intellectual, no intelligence.

Patrice Aymé

Science Rests On The Masses, Not Just Giants.

April 5, 2012

WISDOM BLOSSOMS FROM COMMON SENSE ON STEROIDS, LET IT BE SCRUTINIZED.

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It turns out that the OPERA “observation” of Faster Than Light neutrinos seems to have been caused by a not-fully-screwed-on right optical cable.

(It’s fascinating that the pitfall had not been detected earlier: because we use electronic computers, not photonic computers, information down an optical cable has to be transformed into electrons, and, because we are still at a gross point of technology, that means plenty of optical energy has to ramp up, until enough electrons can be excited, and generate a signal. If screwing is not right, the ramping up of power takes longer… Hence the infamous delay!)

Too bad. But let’s not forget we have neutrinos from a supernova that arrived several hours before the photons. However, that’s explained by supernova explosion theory: as the explosion proceeds, light gets bottled inside star material for a while, whereas the neutrinos of the intense thermonuclear explosion involving heavy elements rush out; in the sun, thermonuclear photons take hundreds of thousands of year to get out of the thermonuclear region, in the core, where they are produced. So it looks as if I will have to hold my faster than light horses a while back longer. Yet, Einstein’s own theory of gravitation, especially when cosmologically modified, means that the speed of light is all too relative…

(Physics) Professor Matts Strassler asks on his (excellent) blog, http://profmattstrassler.com/ a “Question to Laypersons: Your Views on the Neutrino Saga.”

This was the occasion for me to roll a few of my pet themes. (I have to relax with rather innocent considerations as I prepare an essay bound to make me many new friends, where I compare Arabized regimes to Vichy style regimes, just worse, that have perdured, for more than 13 centuries…)

“Prof” Strassler “would like to ask YOU a question or two.  And by “you”, I mean non-scientists.  I would like to know how seeing this episode unfold changed (or did not change) your view of science, or physics, or particle physics…  Are you disappointed in or pleased with the scientific process as you saw it unfold?  Are you more suspicious of or less suspicious of scientists and/or of science now that you’ve seen this happen? I think these are things that many scientists would be curious to learn.”

I commented this way: Don’t we all know quite a bit of science? … Say relative to, hmmm, Newton? We are living in a scientific society, whether we admit it or not.

By the time of Newton it was not know that there was such a thing as oxygen, it supported life, and oxidized stuff. That was a century after Newton’s apogee. Many a commoner not having formally studied science out of high school could reconstitute Lavoisier’s experiments nowadays.

Similarly for Pasteur’s experiences on spontaneous generation or… pasteurization.  And the idea of vaccination, formalized by Pasteur is also well known. As is continental drift.

You can go in the middle of Africa, meet a woman who does not know how to read, but she may well known Pasteurization… and why.

The basic ideas of the Quantum are less well known, true.

However this is partly the result of an anti-French bias, because the luminously simple idea of the French medievalist, prince de Broglie, is not taught, and, instead, Germano-Nazi physicists, such as Heisenberg, with their appropriately dark mumblings, are always evoked by those perhaps nostalgic of the Aryan, anti-French order… But I digress… As far as I am concerned, just like Einstein sucked Poincare’ dry, so did Heisenberg and Schrodinger with De Broglie (not to say they were not great scientists; just smaller, with smaller ideas; thus erroneously teaching the small for great has real consequences on… mass science, the science the masses know!)

But let’s go back to the ideas of Prof Strassler, which are shared with many scientists, namely that they stand on the shoulders of giants just like themselves, as they are a race of giants.

That’s how this fool of Chu got into supporting stupid (and intrinsically corrupt!) enterprises such as Tesla (465 million dollars of taxpayer money, so that Silicon Valley plutocrats can drive an electric sport car made in France, powered by glued up together laptop batteries; or Solyndra, more than half a billion from the taxpayers, for a tech that was obviously not going to work). OK, Chu, the energy secretary, has a Nobel in Physics, but that just means he was part and parcel of some intelligent project, and that he may have had, personally an intelligent moment.

But diligent a lot, and intelligent, once, does not mean diligent always, and intelligent always. Certainly not, especially if one suddenly imagines one belongs to a race of giants.

For more context on the preceding, see the New Republic (January 25, 2012):

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/100037/steven-chu-energy-obama-solyndra?page=0,0

What did I want Chu to do? Instead of playing Venture Capitalist with 25 billion dollars, just fund fundamental research, make sure you can persuade people energy taxes have to be risen,  make sure solar plants go up in the high altitude desert south west USA, and that very high speed train lines, in the North East and California get build.

On the latter there was an interesting development: those geniuses realized that in France Very High Speed trains mostly use conventional lines (one can use conventional methods with trains up to 125 mph, 200 km/h). By doing same as the French, the cost of Very High Speed rail in California crumbled down to 60 billion dollars, and still only 3 hours downtown San Francisco to downtown LA… roughly the time to go to the airport and pass security. Morality; go to Europe, and learn.

The expression “layperson” is shared by many a scientist, mathematician, and university type. Maybe not verbally, but certainly conceptually. However, that’s an error.

Indeed the expression “layperson” hints that scientists are some sort of priests. It reminds me of a short story of Isaac Asimov, where civilization has devolved, and, on a planet with multiple suns, the rabble hunts the few remaining astronomers, when an exceptional night occurs.

I also wonder what defines a “scientist”? A scientific degree? But what is really so special in common between a paleontologist and a mathematician? OK, mathematicians maybe do not qualify as scientists? But then a lot of theoretical physics, on the edge, is little else than mathematics gone so wild that even mathematicians avert their eyes (until it works, then they come to make it appear they invented it themselves…)

Something else: a lot of, say, cosmology is a magnificent razzle-dazzle show in full view of “laypersons”. However, a lot of the certainty there seems to have an OPERAtic component: bold assertions, not all the details in for sure (I am alluding, say, to cosmic inflation).

One thing scientists ought to remember is that scientific research is one thing, science itself, that is, certain knowledge that is indeed certain, is something else. It would be good to teach that to the public too, as it would help it learn to search for truth, and not to confuse inquiry with certainty.

Science is just the result of observant and sophisticated common sense. One sees both faling, increasingly, in the USA. A good indicator of that are the “Stand Your Ground” laws in the USA. Those allow any brute carrying a concealed weapon to assassinate anybody who gets in their way, as long as they can build a half way plausible story about the ground on which they stand. In particular if they don’t like the race of their victim.

As far as the gun lobby and the plutocratic lobby are concerned, it’s perfect. Marie Antoinette, being told people ran out of bread, supposedly quipped:”Let them eat cake!” (actually brioche, a viennoiserie, a type of pastry made where she came from!) As far as the gun lobby and the plutocratic lobby are concerned, it’s :”Let them eat lead!” Better: let them serve it, to each other.

That average Americans fell for such a divisive tactic is a testimony to not knowing anymore what common sense is. Something studying carefully the genesis of science can remedy. That is precisely while plutocrats hid behind theocrats to forbid the teaching of critical thinking. For teaching critical thinking, one cannot just teach literary criticism. Because it’s harder to show error, for certain in literature, or even philosophy.

In science, and science history, it’s much more clear cut. Both the truth, and the errors (and why the later happen, itself a type of meta knowledge).  

More generally, the most important subject of study at school ought to be the history of big ideas, big errors, vast delusions, and immense progress. Our civilization surfs on a tsunami of thoughts.

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Patrice Ayme

Deflating BIG BANG’s Inflation.

March 25, 2012

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!]

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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 observedinflaton 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.

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Patrice Ayme