Strange Dark Matter Theory

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by Vulcan Logician, May 31, 2013.

  1. FlyingLemons

    FlyingLemons Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Location:
    Edinburgh/London
    I've been there before. The letters that he dismisses as people being rude to him are basically what every PhD student usually goes through at least once or twice... although in his case, he appears to believe it's an attempt to push him down rather than just advise him to stop wasting his and his supervisor's time on complete nonsense.

    In fact, the people who were "rude" to him appear to have been incredibly indulgent. If it had been me, I wouldn't have had their patience.
     
  2. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Italy, EU
    Metryq, you should look up what ad hominen means. I'm attacking the argument, not the person. For all I know, that Donald Scott is an upstanding guy and I'd love to have a glass of wine with him.

    But let's go on.

    Alfvén made some groundbreaking work in plasma physics, and was rightfully recognized for it. His cosmology, however, is rather shaky. It's a classic case of a man with a hammer: everything looks like a nail. He did some great discovery in plasma physics, and suddenly plasma physics is the fundamental law of nature and everything derives from it. It explains (not really) large scale structures, galaxy evolution, rotation curves, star formations, quasars, ect. Pretty convenient, and very self-gratulatory.

    Also, his work doesn't add up at all with the cosmic microwave background radiation, which asymmetries trace beautifully with the inflation scenario. There is no better proof of the Big Bang theory. It is really the smoking gun, and the matter is pretty much settled. (And let's not get into the "plasma scaling" crap: if you want bad science, look no further). "Plasma cosmology" looks like a the pet theory of a person that really, really likes electrodynamics, but nothing more. I understand its appeal to electrical engineers, tho.

    At least, it doesn't sound like the ravings of a "moon hoax" conspiracy theory lunatic, like that Crothers fellow.

    I'd love it if the universe was simpler, less esoteric, and more understandable. It would make my job much, much easier. But I was humble enough to realize that my desires have zero impact on the nature of the cosmos. So I rolled up my sleeves, and started to work.
     
  3. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Italy, EU
    That was hilarious.

    Favourite parts:

    The man has style, you can't deny that. :lol:
     
  4. Captain Nebula

    Captain Nebula Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
    - Albert Einstein (Which is also attributed to Richard Feynman by some people)

    Just remember, Einstein's famous equation - E equals m times c squared - is 8th grade or Freshman year math, no matter the physics behind it.

    Lay people get honorary degrees all the time. These scientists aren't magicians. You can learn their 'secrets'. When I ace'd my Astronomy class in college, it didn't make me better than some hobbyist who never took a class, but has read every book on the subject for the last 2 decades. That amateur could possibly know more than some college professors.

    Don't get stuck on the credentials.

    It is the height of arrogance to think that no one can learn this. Or that any of the scientists couldn't be wrong.
     
  5. T J

    T J Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2004
    Location:
    milky way... there abouts
    Walks into thread... :eek:

    Slowly backes out of thread...
     
  6. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    A Long Time Ago...
    But it's the height of ignorance to think that every idea put out by a lay person has merit.


    Heck, I'm just a sci-fi fan, not a physicist and even I've heard that this electric sky book is junk science.
     
  7. Asbo Zaprudder

    Asbo Zaprudder Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2004
    Location:
    On the beach
    From this thread, I deduce that there is probably useful research that could be done in the area of delusional disorders.
     
  8. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    I love this completely random comment that has absolutely nothing to do with the discussion at hand.
     
  9. Captain Nebula

    Captain Nebula Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    You must have missed what it pertained to. There are several topics going on at once here.

    Fair enough.

    But haven't you seen Good Will Hunting?

    :)

    Sorry for the joke, but thinking that only someone who has a Ph.D. is smart enough to understand something sure excludes anyone who couldn't afford to go to college or someone that has a hearing or vision disorder that interferes with learning in a classroom setting. It doesn't make someone dumb if they don't have a Ph.D. And it doesn't make someone perfect if they do.
     
  10. Venardhi

    Venardhi Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
    The Great Wide Somewhere
    Even Einstein got a lot of stuff wrong, like the cosmological constant. A lot of layperson theory is limited by a lack of knowledge and a desire for things to be simpler than they are. Yes, in the end a lot of this stuff does turn out to be 'simple' and clean, but most people who aren't schooled in such things tend to approach science from the flawed direction of coming to a conclusion and seeking evidence to support it while ignoring evidence that does not.
     
  11. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2008
    I missed nothing.
     
  12. Captain Nebula

    Captain Nebula Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2010
    Sure you did.
     
  13. YellowSubmarine

    YellowSubmarine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2010
    Not really. People with PhDs also tend to be short on the knowledge and understanding. Just far less often than lay people reading pseudoscience.

    When you're arguing against mainstream science, you're not arguing against one person with a PhD, you are arguing against the consensus of hundreds of people who have had decades of experience in the field and have published results independently in thousands of publications which were reviewed by other scientists who also have decades of experience in science.

    So you need to have a lot more than simple understanding of the subject at hand after reading about it
     
  14. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    What's arrogant is thinking that years of experience and understanding in a subject can be matched or exceeded by reading a math-light pop sci book over a weekend.
     
  15. Vulcan Logician

    Vulcan Logician Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    May 31, 2013
    Location:
    In the realm of pure logic
    Well sorry if I've wasted anyone's time by bringing juvenile ideas into this scholarly setting. Next time I have a half-baked hypothesis, I'll post it in the nether reaches of some science fiction show forum.
     
  16. FlyingLemons

    FlyingLemons Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Location:
    Edinburgh/London
    Except these things aren't simple, and after a point any non-mathematical explanation just won't cut it. You can give someone a vague idea of the more advanced ideas in physics, but any real understanding of a concept requires a solid grasp of highly complex mathematics.

    Wow, those must be very smart eighth graders to have learned about tensor algebra, relativistic mass and invariance and metric tensors. You missed out the part of the energy-momentum relation contributed by (pc)^2, by the way. Where that comes from is not 8th grade math.

    People who get an honorary doctorate from a university usually are highly accomplished at something. They don't just hand them out willy-nilly - you still have to have worked hard to be worthy of the honor.

    You can if you work hard to become competent. Me and iguana (any other scientists in here) put an awful lot of work to earn our qualifications, which are a measure of that hard work which people trust.

    Maybe he does. There are some incredibly well-read people out there, but...

    I have a PhD in theoretical physics and an MMath in Mathematics. What do those credentials say to people? Well, they say that I've managed to pass a lot of exams to a high standard, so they know I have a solid grasp of mathematical and physical concept. If I didn't, I'd have neither of those qualifications as I would have been weeded out by the exams or by the examination board at my viva.

    Credentials in physics, and in the rest of society, are not just pieces of paper. If you've gone to a reputable school such as Cambridge or MIT and graduated with high honors from said institution, it's quite fair for me to assume that this person does indeed know what they're talking about, and if they cast doubt on a theory, there's reason to believe them over someone unproven.

    If you come to me and say "I've solved everything!" out of the blue, and I look over your history and see a) no effort to actually attend an institution to gain formal qualification and b) evidence of bizarre ideas, alarm bells start going off. Then we come to this:

    Never said anyone couldn't. It just takes years of effort and hard work to become competent. Anyone who reads a few science books and suddenly "has solved it all" without acquiring a keen grasp of mathematics probably hasn't.

    On the contrary, knowing when you're wrong is one of the hallmarks of a competent scientist. How do we know when we're wrong? Well, there are several methods such as experimentation and simulation, but the most basic tool in understanding whether a theory is correct or not is dimensional analysis.

    You see, in physics all of the terms in the equations generally have a unit, and if they don't have a unit there's usually a good reason for it which can be explained through sitting down and working out what the units are. Physics is ultimately the mapping from mathematics onto the physical world, and if your theory is going to be any good it has to be expressed in scientifically measured units.

    A hallmark of many fringe theories is that the don't make use of this basic tool. Constants appear and disappear with impunity, and the answers seemingly come thick and fast which makes the fringe theorist crow about how he has confounded all of modern science with his wonderful theory of everything.

    Except there's one thing: probably he hasn't sat down and checked his units, or he's invented his own ones which haven't been empirically measured and standardized like the System Internationale (SI) ones have been and so they can't really be trusted.

    Fringe theories are big on the "answers", but if checked many of those answers are either in gibberish units that make no sense, or if the crank is a bit more scientifically literate, often in energy scales that have been ruled out by experiment and if they were true would manifest themselves in phenomena that would have been plainly obvious long before now.

    If someone comes up with a well-thought out theory that shows all the signs of being carefully checked by its author and is logically argued, then it's worth listening to. If, as so often, it's just a collection of bad math that makes no physical sense coupled with physical threats to those who point out its flaws (as is often the case), then there's no reason at all to take either the theory or the individual advocating for it seriously.

    You can have all the bluster you want, but at the end of the day it comes down to one thing: either you're competent, or not. Simple as that.
     
  17. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2001
    Honestly, what kind of replies did you expect?
     
  18. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2013
    Math is just a language, not "truth." Math must eventually relate to the real world; simply checking that the units on each side of the equation balance out is not enough.

    But back to the original topic of dark matter, which was created as an ad hoc patch to a cosmology that could not properly account for the structure and movement of galaxies. Dark energy was added after that to balance out problems created by dark matter. Together, these patches make up 95% of the "stuff" in the universe.

    I may not have fancy degrees in math, but the above sounds more like attempts to "save the phenomenon" (Big Bang) than a useful, predictive model. That is, it sounds like junk science. The layman sees one group saying, "The universe is non-intuitive and incomprehensible. You'll just have to trust us." Meanwhile, another group of equally degreed and working researchers says, "It doesn't make sense to us, either. We'd like to suggest an alternative model."

    Some laymen are just gullible enough to listen to or even entertain some of the alternatives. I read it all because it's entertaining; I have no stake in any particular model.

    A question for the math wizards—your professional, informed opinions—just out of curiosity: What do you think of the suggestion made in the original post? Keep in mind that hypotheses must be testable, and the OP involves substance that has not yet been detected and dimensions we cannot reach.
     
  19. FlyingLemons

    FlyingLemons Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2009
    Location:
    Edinburgh/London
    You start out by saying:

    and then you start going on about how math must relate to the real world while dismissing one of the basic tools of science.

    If the units of your equation are gibberish, then you're not getting anything useful, just gibberish. It's a basic consistency check that most theoretical physicists do to work out if their theories are unphysical - if it turns out they are, then you know what you're working on is nonsense.

    If someone suggests an alternative model that actually is mathematically consistent, that's good. If they suggest something that's nonsense, and then get all defensive to the point of physical violence when it's pointed out that their theory makes no sense, not so good.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    I'm in your ___, ___ing your ___
    Actually, a surprising number of them DID, and continue to do so.

    The real appeal of the Dark Matter hypothesis is that its unfalsifiable. If you assume a priori the existence of an undefined quantity called "dark matter" -- a substance which BY DEFINITION has no physical properties you can test -- then it is not possible to devise an experiment that could even theoretically demonstrate its absence. Virtually any experimental setup would return either inconclusive or positive results; there is no way to test for its presence and conclude in any coherent way that it isn't there.

    As does any fictional construct for which there is no corroborating evidence. Underpants Gnomes fit the observation that I am slowly running out of underwear, but there's no evidence that the gnomes themselves exist.

    The logical proof for dark matter depends on a number of rather dubious assumptions, in particular, the assumption that the existing model of gravitational interactions cannot be wrong, and that the existing model of mass distribution and the composition of galaxies, also, cannot be wrong (in the latter case, the assumption that our estimates of the mass of galaxies based on observations are sufficiently accurate as to require an additional "unseen" factor).

    I've seen the data astronomers have been using to support dark matter hypothesis. Been through it several times, each time scratching my head with a "what am I missing?" feeling. The most "conclusive" arguments in favor of it all have the same problem: if you don't start from a series of very specific and far-reaching assumptions, the entire theory stands on very shaky ground.

    Except that we have no primary evidence for the existence of dark matter; it is ASSUMED to be present based on distant observations of galaxies whose rotational velocity is higher than models predict it should be.

    That is a bit like theorizing the existence of God based existence of the Bible, based purely on the assumption that only God could have written it (because the Bible says so).