The Big Bang

John K Clark (
Sat, 1 Nov 1997 21:16:05 -0800 (PST)


On Sat, 1 Nov 97 (Tony Hollick) Wrote:

>The 'Big Bang' stuff is unscientific,

Because the speed of light is finite, telescopes are time machines.
What is unscientific in a theory about something you can see?


The Big Bang predicted that as our telescopes got bigger we would find that
billions of years ago the galaxies were closer together than they are now.
We have.

The observable universe has a radius of 10 to 20 billion light years,
the big bang theory predicts that we will never find an object in it older
than 10 to 20 billion years. So far at least nobody has, although some things
are getting close

In 1949 George Gamow used the Big Bang theory to predict that the universe
would be full of microwave black body radiation at a temperature of about
5 degrees Kelvin. It was a wild idea and the Big Bang was not very popular so
few paid much attention to Gamow, then 20 years later the largest feature in
the universe was actually found experimentally, it had the spectrum of a
black body and a temperature of 2.7 degrees Kelvin. To a first approximation
the universe IS the blackbody radiation, the other stuff is just debris, so I
don't think a theory that predicts such a huge feature is doing too badly.

>and arguably physically impossible.

Well, let's hear your argument.

>It owes its fell origin to the disastrous philosphical memes which
>invaded the scientific community at the turn of the century.

The Big Bang was unknown at the turn of the century and only became popular
in the 60's when the evidence for it overwhelmed competing theories.

>Logical positivism said: "You cannot disuss a universe you cannot
>observe. Thus, the univere is _defined_ as that which you can see
>i.e. a titchy one, around 5 000 light-years across."

I'm certainly not a logical positivist but that characterization is unfair,
they're not that dumb.

>embedded moralities and epistemologies of physical theories, most of
>which are _appalling_.

The appalling and crazy idea is that morality can be deduced from a physical
theory or that a physical theory can be deduced from morality.

>Don't import your enemies' anti-extropic concepts all unwitting.

I can think of no idea more anti-extropic than that we can determine a law of
physics or the nature of the cosmos by wishing. The Big Bang either happened
or it did not and human political theories do not matter a hoot in hell.

>Instead, our evolving Open Universe is infinite in all directions
>(Smass, Length and Time), with emergent -- novel -- qualities

It's a catchy phrase and I loved Dyson's book but infinity in all directions
is not needed. An infinite, never ending sequence of novel qualities is not
dependent on infinite linear space, or an infinite number of particles,
or even an infinite amount of proper time, but only on a infinite amount of
phase space. If the universe collapses and gets hotter without limit then
the information in it can also increase without limit, not by storing
information in the position of particles, that will keep getting less
important, but by storing information in the momentum of particles.

>Einstein's old GR idea of a closed but unbounded Riemannian space
>where nothing ever changes (determinist) is defunct

What is defunct about closed but unbounded Riemannian space?

>Einstein himself said it GR was in error many times.

Not quite. Einstein never lost confidence in his theory and even today no
reputable physicist has, unless you're talking about the singularity at the
center on a black hole, or when things gets smaller than the Plank length of
10^ -33 centimeters or events get shorter than 10^-45 seconds.

Einstein discovered General Relativity in 1917 and the equations said that
the universe must be expanding or contracting, at the time he thought this
disagreed with observation so he was forced to stick on a new term, a
"cosmological constant" to make the universe static. He always said he hatted
it because it was ugly and detracted from the beauty of his theory, but he
could see no alternative.

In 1929 Hubble found that the universe was not static after all but was
expanding, everybody was surprised and a few were delighted. Einstein
certainly wasted no time, in the very same year he cheerfully abandoned the
cosmological constant and called it "the worst blunder of my career".

>Nicholas of Cusa, a Catholic Cardinal, proposed in [1440] an
>infinite Euclidean Universe

And he was wrong. The universe may or may not be infinite but it is certainly
not Euclidean, if it were gravity could not exist.

>This predated Copernicus!

And takes nothing away from Copernicus. A scientific theory is more than
vague armchair philosophy, it must make testable predictions and produce
numbers, Copernicus's theory could do that, especially after the improvements
made by Kepler.

>The background radiation is the product of particle interactions

What particles? What interactions? What shape does your theory predict the
spectrum of to have, that of a radiating blackbody as observed? What
temperature does your theory predict this blackbody radiation to have?

>and also accounts for the apparent (but not real) 'Hubble RedShift.'

You could argue about cause but there is absolutely no doubt that the
redshift is real and almost no doubt that its magnitude is proportional to
the distance an object is from Earth. If it is caused by the Doppler shift
then it must be due to the general expansion of the entire universe, if not
then the Earth would have to be in a privileged position, the center of the
universe. I doubt it.

Yes, the redshift could be caused by some mysterious force unknown to science,
but we shouldn't invoke new physics if we don't need to and we don't need to.
Besides, nobody has been able to flesh out this mysterious force into a
testable scientific theory so The Big Bang has no real competition.

John K Clark

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