The Big Bang

Tony Hollick (
Sun, 2 Nov 97 10:49 GMT0

John K Clark <> 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?

OK: let's look at this.

BTW: My Relational Mechanics paper (almost no equations!) is at:

As a preliminary remark: wonder a bit about optical illusions before
unthinkingly giving primacy to 'observations.' Newton constantly
used his theory to correct Astronomer-Royal Flamsteed's 'observations'
using his (Newton's) theory. (Drove Flamsteed crazy, actually!).

All 'observations' are theory-impregnated. A straw partially immersed
in water 'is observed to be' bent. Is it _really_ bent or
_objectively_ straight?

The velocity of light is (approximately) constant at 'c', but only
_relative to the emitting charge_. In a Galilean framework (i.e.
'position-space', which is _logically inescapable_ once you abandon
locality -- see Bell, Aspect etc.), velocity addition is clearly
demonstrable as well as being logically necessary.

However, there is a constant process of absorption and re-emission
as photons travel from A to B (there is no perfect vacuum in space
-- some of the most perfect vacuums around are probably right here
on Earth). Accordingly, all the photons arriving here from stellar
sources are ineluctably travelling at around 'c' relative to the
interstellar 'particle soup' which is what's actually emitting them.

NB: It is _extremely_ difficult to measure the velocity of a photon
without interposing interactions which entail absorption and
re-emission, thus destroying the original velocity.

Let's see _your_ proposals for measuring photon velocity... >:-}

In space, the free electrons are particularly voracious absorbers and
emitters of photons. The photons perform _work_ on the electrons as
they're absorbed and re-emitted. They move the electrons around.
This (along with photon-photon interaction -- see Jean-Paul Vigier
et. al.) is the cause of the cosmic (Hubble) redshift, which is of
course directly proportional to the distance stellar photons have to
travel to get here.

> >untestable,

It's untestable because it's unrepeatable (or so you should hope!).

[ FX: "BANG!!!" ]

[ FX: "Oh, f**k it... there goes the goddamn universe again..." ] >:-}

> 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.

No way, Jose! As Leibniz pointed out, the same facts can be
explained by an indefinitely large number of different theories.
Since all 'observations' are theory-impregnated also, the absurdity
of the assertion you cite should be plain enough. >:-}

> 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

Oh, c'mon!!! The cosmologists are 'explaining away' astronomical
artefacts older than the estimated age of the Universe all the
time!!! As is always the case with degenerating scientific
programmes, they scrap the evidence rather than their pet 'BB'
theories. "Normal-Science" physicists crave emotional security...

> To a first approximation the universe IS the blackbody radiation, the
> other stuff is just debris

NoNoNo; the Universe _includes_ the debris. And it's the
interstellar debris which is scattering the stellar radiation,
giving rise to the uniform background. It accounts for it very
well, actually.

> ... so I don't think a theory that predicts such a huge feature is doing
> too badly.

That's because you're looking for _confirmations_ rather than
_refutations_, as I am. Remember the mediaeval scholasticism "All
swans are white"? Millions of white swans 'confirmed' it, but the
black swans were there all the time, over in Australia...

> >and arguably physically impossible.

> Well, let's hear your argument.

One word. 'Singularity.' That is, 'impossible within known physics.'

"Ex nihilo, nihil fit"

> >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.

You've been reading too many childrens' histories of physics! Go
read 'Subtle Is The Lord' by Abraham Pais (who is far from agreeing
with me on his hero Einstein, BTW). It's fairly definitive
scientific biography. Once people 'bought into' the positivist idea
of 'the observable universe' being identical to 'the universe', they
_had_ to explain why the titchy island universe hadn't
self-gravitated long since.

How else would _you_ possibly explain this problem-situation?

The positivists don't _allow_ you to plead _absolute rotation_,
remember -- _you can't have rotation relative to * nothing *.

>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 ...

Well, thank Heavens for that, John! It's a dead philosophy!

> but that characterization is unfair, they're not that dumb.

Read Pais... They _had to be_ that dumb. Positivists are like
that -- their metaphysics gives them no choice in the matter!

> 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.

Are you saying that Kant was crazy? 20 000 people spontaneously
attended his funeral. How many are coming to yours? >:-}

Seriously: TRUTH has a central regulating role in values AND facts.

>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.

Humans invent and select (i.e. _choose_) our preferred theories and
Methodological Scientific Research Programmes. Ineluctably,
metaphysics is prior to physical theories -- it's unavoidable.

I have -- extropic -- 'touchstone tests': If General Relativity
depicts a four-dimensional Parmenidean Block Universe, within which
nothing ever changes, and in which free will is a delusion, I
_choose_ to say 'to Hell with it.'

If Ernst Mach tells us that all life is physically determined, with
consciousness being a mere _epiphenomenon_, I _choose_ to say "To
Hell with him too.' And his positivism along with him.

If a 'scientific socialist' says that all History is
materialistically determined, I say "To hell with all that" (tens
of millions of people indeed went to various Communist Hells via
just that notion).

My touchstone tests tell me that theories are volitional human
inventions, and their acceptance a matter of _choice_. If anyone
tries to tell me anything different, I just say 'To Hell with them
too.' It's a methodological decision. We do it all the time.

We _all_ take metaphysical positions, like it or not.

> The Big Bang either happened or it did not and human political theories
> do not matter a hoot in hell.

We will never know. We cannot travel back in time in any way which
could permit us to be certain. Compare and contrast:

"The statement 'God exists' has meaning, and it may even be true.
But since there is no conceivable observation which could _refute_
such a statement, it is _unscientific_." -- Bryan Magee, 'Popper.'

I had a nice chat with Bryan Magee the other day -- read his recent
"Confessions of a Philosopher."

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

> It's a catchy phrase and I loved Dyson's book...

Me too!!! >:-}

> >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?

Read Karl Popper, "Unended Quest" for starters.

Think a bit about the wisdom of swapping metaphysical straight
lines for 'straight-lines-as-light-beams-subject-to-gravity.'

I work with Cordwainer Smith's idea of an infinitely extended
cubic grid. Telepathic astronomy! >:-}

> >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.

Again: read Pais, "Subtle Is The Lord." He thought GR was wrong,
and spent decades trying to come up with 'a more realistic theory'
(like mine! >:-} Actually, it wouldn't matter a bean to me whether
or not Einstein did 'lose confidence' in his theory. His theory is
methodologically flawed and empirically falsified.

> Einstein discovered General Relativity in 1917

NoNoNo... we 'discover' _facts_ :- we _invent_ theories. You're
not an inductivist, are you, for Heaven's sakes? >:-}

> 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 hated it because it was ugly and detracted from
> the beauty of his theory, but he could see no alternative.

So, which General Relativity are you advocating: GR-with-added-CC or
vanilla-GR? Everyone seems to 'understand' a different version of
GR, anyway...

> In 1929 Hubble found that the universe was not static after all but was
> expanding, everybody was surprised and a few were delighted.

NoNoNo... Hubble observed a redshift of the specra of stars, which
is cleanly and easily accounted for by the interactions of stellar
photons with interstellar debris, which I have discussed previously.

> "the worst blunder of my career".

The worst blunder of Einstein's career was to steal Walter Ritz's
ballistic [(particle) theory of light without keeping Ritz's
Galilean Relativity framework. Alas, as did everyone back then,
Einstein had to keep 'in' with Lorentz to get anywhere. (Einstein's
Special Relativity and Lorentz's electrodynamics are functionally
identical -- SR is a mathematical formalism of Lorentz's physical

There's a (little-noticed) Ritz-Einstein paper on their agreements
and differences I'd like to get hold of. Anyone, pretty-please?

For all practical purposes, Walter Ritz _invented Quantum
Electrodynamics_ Ritz [1908]. Richard Feynman _must have known this_ --
he and Wheeler knew Ritz's work intimately well.

>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.

That verges on the absurd ... Relational or Faradayan or Newtonian
or Graviton-mediated gravitational force gets along just fine in a
Euclidean framework. What the hell are you talking about? GR?

> >This predated Copernicus!

> And takes nothing away from Copernicus.

It sure as hell takes away Copernicus' _priority_, just for starters!

> A scientific theory is more than vague armchair philosophy

However, scientific theories are human inventions -- their _origin_
is mostly impenetrable, and - mostly - irrelevant. All that we can
fairly ask of any scientific theory -- a _hypothesis_ -- is that we
can deduce testable descriptions, explanations and predictions from

There's an Adam-Smithian division of labour in these matters. A
theory may come to you in a dream (Kekule's benzene ring,
ferinstance). You post it here in 'Extropians', and it becomes
World III Objective Knowledge, existing quite independently of your
consciousness, and fully discussable by us. We then work with it.

p1 --> t1 --> dp --> ee --> p2

Where p1 is the initial problem; t1 the tentative theory; dp the
deduction of testable propositions; ee is error elimination via
refuting experiments, critical discussion, etc.; and p2 is the
resulting -- secondary -- problem-situation. Everything begins and
ends with problems and guesses.

> >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?

As above. The redshift is a function of the ratio of interstellar
debris (including other photons) to distance of space traversed.

>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.

I fully agree. Clumsily put!

> If it is caused by the Doppler shift then it must be due to the general
> expansion of the entire universe

Wrong way round... _If_ it's a Doppler shift, _then_ the Universe
is expanding. See? _If_ it's caused by stellar photons losing
energy on their way through the 'interstellar soup', the Universe is
moving around a bit, sure, but not 'expanding' overall. An infinite
Universe has nowhere to expand _into_. Right?

I thank you for an interesting discussion; I hope others here are
enjoying it too!

/ /\ \