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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old January 28 2013, 10:56 PM   #16
Robert Maxwell
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

Metryq wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
The "currently accepted wisdom" is, ideally, based on the evidence we have.
Ideally, yes, but dogma is an all too common human pitfall. Sometimes even "extraordinary" evidence will not sway the stubborn. Halton Arp's work, right or wrong, was deemed so threatening that he was denied computer and telescope time, his papers suppressed; blacklisted so brutally that he had to go to another country to continue his work.

There are also cases where utterly unremarkable evidence has "extraordinary" consequences (e.g. two tiny Mars observations led the way to Kepler's Laws).

Quantum physics, like Newton's gravity, is more a description of nature than an explanation. Actuarial data.
It's not "dogma" to refuse to throw away a useful model that's backed up by mountains of empirical data just because somebody thinks they have a better idea. If someone believes they have a better model, they'd better have some solid evidence for it. Arp didn't--and still doesn't.
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Old January 28 2013, 11:17 PM   #17
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

Metryq wrote: View Post
Ideally, yes, but dogma is an all too common human pitfall. Sometimes even "extraordinary" evidence will not sway the stubborn. Halton Arp's work, right or wrong, was deemed so threatening that he was denied computer and telescope time, his papers suppressed; blacklisted so brutally that he had to go to another country to continue his work.
Nonsense. His ideas have been tested, and the evidence contradicted them. When he first posited his theories, the Big Bang was just one model among many, and he was far from the only one who offered an alternative. But in the past 20 years, improved telescopes have given us enough hard data to overwhelmingly verify the Big Bang. Those alternative ideas weren't suppressed, they simply turned out to be wrong. If this guy is claiming some conspiracy to conceal the truth, then he's the one blinded by dogma.

Science is not "threatened" by alternative ideas. On the contrary, scientists depend on having new questions to ask, new ideas to test, new experiments to try. Heck, a generation of string theorists have built careers writing papers about untestable new interpretations of physics. Attempts at revisionism are the lifeblood of theoretical physics, not a threat to it.


Quantum physics, like Newton's gravity, is more a description of nature than an explanation. Actuarial data.
Science doesn't pretend to be about addressing the why of things; that's a matter for philosophers. Science is about observing the universe and figuring out how it works. So that's a meaningless dismissal of quantum physics. The point is that quantum theory works as a practical tool for modeling and predicting the behavior of the universe. Its postulates have been extensively and consistently verified, and it's enabled us to invent many useful technologies and chemical and metallurgical processes.
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Old January 29 2013, 04:21 AM   #18
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

Christopher wrote: View Post
But in the past 20 years, improved telescopes have given us enough hard data to overwhelmingly verify the Big Bang.
"I think you've got it reversed, Mr. Krako." Every new observation creates another problem for the Big Bang.

Heck, a generation of string theorists have built careers writing papers about untestable new interpretations of physics.
Untestable theories are not science.

Science is about observing the universe and figuring out how it works.
And how does that differ from an explanation? I never said "why." And you're right, that is for philosophers. Newton did not explain gravity, he only quantified it. Einstein didn't explain gravity either, he added another layer that pushes us one step further from the answer.
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Old January 29 2013, 05:19 AM   #19
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

Metryq wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
But in the past 20 years, improved telescopes have given us enough hard data to overwhelmingly verify the Big Bang.
"I think you've got it reversed, Mr. Krako." Every new observation creates another problem for the Big Bang.
I don't know what gave you that impression. The microwave background data we've gained from the Cosmic Background Explorer and WMAP probes over the past couple of decades has been a motherlode, greatly refining our knowledge of the universe. We now know that the universe began 13.8 billion years ago, conclusively scuttling alternative theories like Fred Hoyle's continuous creation. Heck, the very fact that the microwave background exists is pretty much direct observational proof of the Big Bang. Sure, we're learning things that raise new questions about the specifics of the theory, things that add new complications, but that's just how science works. It doesn't mean the underlying theory is wrong, it means it's an active, working tool that serves as the basis for new investigation and discovery.


Heck, a generation of string theorists have built careers writing papers about untestable new interpretations of physics.
Untestable theories are not science.
Many skeptics of string theory would agree with you. But the point, as I said, is that the scientific establishment does not feel "threatened" by ideas that challenge conventional wisdom. If it did, then string theory would never have been allowed to get off the ground. Instead, it's sustained a generation of theoretical physicists even without any hard evidence that it's true -- because new ideas that challenge conventional wisdom are the bread and butter of theoretical physicists, the things that give them something to do in the first place to earn their keep and build their reputations.



And how does that differ from an explanation? I never said "why." And you're right, that is for philosophers. Newton did not explain gravity, he only quantified it. Einstein didn't explain gravity either, he added another layer that pushes us one step further from the answer.
I'm not sure what you mean by "the answer," or if it's relevant. General Relativity has been immensely useful. Every single one of its predictions has been verified by experiment -- which is also the case with quantum physics. Both fields of research have produced practical technological benefits. This very discussion is only possible with computer technology based on quantum mechanics. The GPS in your phone depends on the equations of General Relativity to determine its position based on its measurements of the differing clock speeds of the orbiting GPS satellites. And that's just the beginning. We may not have yet figured out how to unify relativity and QM, but each of them individually has provided countless answers about the working principles of the universe and how we can use them for practical gain. Which is not too shabby if you ask me.
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Old February 2 2013, 01:37 PM   #20
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

And how does that differ from an explanation? I never said "why." And you're right, that is for philosophers. Newton did not explain gravity, he only quantified it. Einstein didn't explain gravity either, he added another layer that pushes us one step further from the answer.
I'm not sure what you mean by "the answer," or if it's relevant. General Relativity has been immensely useful.
Sure - just the difference between the Montgolfier brothers and someone who actually knows why balloons float in the air.
Such philosophical insights (~why this happens so?) were at the heart of discovering special and general relativity in the first place. And many other revolutionary ideas.

As for crunching numbers - I see how successful this approach was. After all, string theory is the logical conclusion of this approach - a theory that could only describe the universe by having enough degrees of freedom to describe almost any universe imaginable (as you would expect, it's useless when it comes to making any predictions/any technological spin-offs/etc). And there is also the "success" this approach had in unifying relativity and quantum mechanics in decades of trying, etc.

But, of course, the 'why' is not relevant for Christopher.
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Old February 2 2013, 08:58 PM   #21
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

Here is an interesting link to an artificail universe model.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/01/mul...imulation.html
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Old February 4 2013, 10:25 AM   #22
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

COBE and WMAP: Signal Analysis by Fact or Fiction?
"According to Robitaille, COBE and WMAP have produced almost nothing of any scientific value."


Big Shock to Big Bang
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Old February 4 2013, 01:54 PM   #23
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

So if quasars aren't supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies, they are plasmoids then? I'm not very familiar with the Electric Universe theory, but neither do I have enough knowledge to dismiss it out of hand. What I don't get is why a plasmoid would generate an enhanced red shift.
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Old February 4 2013, 04:35 PM   #24
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

This article does a pretty good job of explaining what's wrong with plasma cosmology, and by extension, the "electric universe" idea.
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Old February 4 2013, 08:48 PM   #25
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
This article does a pretty good job of explaining what's wrong with plasma cosmology, and by extension, the "electric universe" idea.
Yeah, I wasted some time this afternoon looking into the so-called electric universe theory and soon decided it really was horse hooey. I'm now looking for some cream for my aching plasmoids.
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Old February 7 2013, 01:59 AM   #26
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
This article does a pretty good job of explaining what's wrong with plasma cosmology, and by extension, the "electric universe" idea.
There's an awful lot of venom and ad hominem in that article, especially for someone who is so convinced that the facts can speak for themselves.
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Old February 7 2013, 11:44 AM   #27
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

Christopher wrote: View Post
Anyone who defines it that way is missing the point, by making the mistake of defining science as just another belief system. The reason science works is because it's based on the evidence.
But that obviously does not apply to ""dark"" ""matter"". All there is to it, it's an effect that has been observed. Because it has the same effect we believe normal matter to be responsible for, "science" has labelled it "matter" though there is not one shred of evidence that it actually is some form of "matter" (the way we understand it).

The other problem is that it is factually invisible. Of course "invisible matter" is tough to sell to the public, so they decided to label it "dark" (which has led to some confusion in some Star Trek episodes where "dark matter" was used while in fact obscuring gas and other particles were involved).

Hence "dark matter" is as un-scientific as could be and reveals the limits of current science and our understanding of the cosmos and some celestial principles.

It's quite a cosmic joke that a catholic actor (reluctantly) provided the best answer thus far to the question what holds the galaxy together: The Force

Bob

@ Metryq

I see your point, quote from Rob Knop: "The problem is that when actual real astronomers such as myself are confronted with plasma cosmology, we have a hard time doing anything other than shaking our heads sadly, because it's so amazingly wrong, so patently silly if you know anything, that it's difficult even to know how to begin saying that it's wrong."

Sorry, if someone ridicules the other guy before dealing with the arguments, my life experience tells me something is wrong.

"As far as I can tell, plasma cosmology is motivated by people who just want to be different, or by people who have aesthetic or conceptual problems with things such as dark matter and cosmological distances."

Okay, I obviously do have an aesthetic and conceptual problem with dark matter for the aforementioned reasons. If that makes me a stupid person, I'm glad to be stupid rather than arrogant.

P.S. Apparently Professor Stephen Hawking, too, has problems with "dark matter". It's a subject he's not even touching with a 10 foot pole. I have several of his books and tried to put his comments on the issue together. It's a subject he gives a noticable wide berth which is so noticable it's actually remarkable!
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Old February 7 2013, 02:03 PM   #28
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

I have problems with dark matter and dark energy, which is why I refer to them as a modern version of the "here be dragons" legends to be seen on medieval maps. While I can accept that electromagnetism and plasma physics might have a bigger role to play on a galactic scale than is currently accepted, I find the electric universe proposals too widely divergent from accepted theories, which model the observations very well and can make predictions that are experimentally verifiable. Eventually, some assumptions (such as aspects of the cosmological principle, criticised long ago by Karl Popper) and currently popular notions (such as inflaton fields) might have to be modified or abandoned, but that the whole kit and caboodle is incorrect, I doubt. Anyway, as I'm not a professional astronomer, I can sit on the sidelines and watch.
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Old February 7 2013, 02:44 PM   #29
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

The Higgs boson was only inferred by the mathematics, rather than observed in reality, and its existence was not proven--until it was. Dark matter is much the same. Either we will actually find some, or we'll discover something else that's responsible for the same observed effects, and adjust our understanding accordingly. Either way, science has not failed. It sounds like some people are taking issue with current science not being 100% complete and correct about everything right now, and so their response is to chuck out all current cosmological science and replace it with something that has very little empirical underpinning and no supporting observational evidence.

To me, that is arrogant.
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Old February 7 2013, 03:34 PM   #30
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Re: Basic Science Question - "fabric" of space

^ ... or any supporting evidence is carefully selected and likely out of date. I concur. As to dark matter and dark energy, we're talking about 96% of the "stuff" of which the universe is supposedly composed. That's a lot to be ignorant about without having been able to measure it directly - although people at Gran Sasso and elsewhere are trying.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21340274
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