[Marxism] Fwd: No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning

Jeff meisner at xs4all.nl
Sun Feb 21 13:49:33 MST 2016

At 12:55 21-02-16 -0500, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:
>The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model

I still have to read this article, and judging by its short length it will
not reveal much. I can't say it is definitely wrong, but I can say is that
it is very much on the fringe of cosmological research and should NOT have
become an article in the popular press, for the very reason that was so
well elucidated towards the end of the last physics article Louis posted on
Friday (for "popular books" substitute "popular articles"):

        The problem, however, is whether the proposal 
        itself warrants packaging these individual pieces 
        together into an entire book. When scientists 
        write popular books about science, there is an 
        implicit mandate to  present a balanced perspective 
        of the most exciting recent developments.  Because 
        the general public does not as a whole possess 
        the critical  scientific knowledge adequate to 
        the task of distinguishing which new  scientific 
        claims are widely supported and which are not, 
        it is easy for  a book to either knowingly or 
        unknowingly mislead. The danger of doing  this, 
        often seen when dubious preliminary results are 
        instead reported  as exciting discoveries in the 
        popular press, is that when they are  later retracted 
        or shown to be false the public’s trust in the 
        scientific process, and in the dependability of 
        results that have stood  the test of time and 
        experiment, diminishes.

I was so amazed at the quality of that book review including the above
discussion by the writer concerning other popular science writers'
irresponsibility that I couldn't believe it. But then I checked, and in
fact, in this one case, the popular article (book review in this case) was
written by an ACTUAL cosmologist and not the journal's "science writer." So
that explains the one excellent physics article Louis found in the
mainstream press.

The above explanation concerning what is appropriate for explanation to the
general public and what is (99% of the time) misleading, absolutely applies
to this new article which presents a theory apparently denying the Big
Bang. I say 99% because it is fringe theories like this, of which there are
many advanced by respected physicists (as there should be, since all ideas
need to be considered before they are proven wrong), which are most
"interesting" if not shocking, and thus make good reading material for
popular audiences, but which turn out to be wrong (at least) 99% of the time.

In this particular case, challenging the Big Bang, is challenging one of
the very strongest proven theories of cosmology. There are lots of other
widely accepted ideas at the frontiers of physics which can and should be
challenged as much as possible (that's the way you eventually find out they
were right!), but challenging the Big Bang is about like challenging that
the earth is round: you'd have a hell of a lot to explain! I believe the
Flat Earth Society still exists, but for very good reason their latest
theories are not taken seriously, not even in the popular press. That is
partly because most people have seen pictures of the earth from space;
unfortunately the equally strong evidence for the Big Bang is not so well
appreciated by the general public.

To go further I could address the post of Mark (who will admit that he is
not a physicist) which might sound reasonable on the face of it:

At 14:25 21-02-16 -0500, Mark Lause via Marxism wrote:
>I've always thought the Big Bang was a conveniently "let-there-be-light"
>explanation for the evidence. .......
> but the culture frames how these things get
>understood, and it's hard to separate the western religious tradition from
>the BBT.

That is almost completely opposite to how the current cosmology came to be.
Until well less than 100 years ago, most astronomers (before "cosmology"
became a named field) just assumed that the universe always existed and
always would. There was no evidence to the contrary, and it was the natural
thing to conclude. When I was a child, I remember reading Fred Hoyle who
was opposing the Big Bang theory with his Steady-State theory, and thinking
that it was much more satisfying philosophically (as if that should be a
criterion!) and probably true. Of course I found out, and Fred Hoyle later
admitted, that he had been wrong and that the evidence for the Big Bang was
extremely compelling.

Again, it had nothing to do with preconceptions or religious influences
(after all, any physicist or astronomer looking into space, even if they
were christian, knew that stories about the earth being 6000 years old were
pure idiocy!), and was counter to normal assumptions. It was from the
evidence uncovered by Edwin Hubble and others -- which had never been
expected! -- in which the velocities of distant galaxies receding from us
was found to increase with their distances. This implied an expanding
universe, and running the observed expansion backwards in time led to the
Big Bang. No one had particularly wanted to believe it, but it was as if
you traced the burglar's footsteps back to his abode. Since then a stronger
case has been made in terms of predictions that resulted from the Big Bang
theory, particularly the microwave background. That measurement which was
subsequently performed was extremely consistent with the Big Bang and no
other existing theories. Again, Fred Hoyle, the most respected opponent of
the Big Bang theory, did what scientists do when confronted with
irrefutable evidence: acknowledged his mistake.

Which is all why this paper really did not merit an article in the popular
press, for which I agree with the considerations I quoted above from the
excellent article (book review) Louis posted on Friday -- which I
absolutely recommend for those with an interest in cosmology:

 At 08:42 19-02-16 -0500, Louis Proyect via Marxism wrote:
>NY Review of
Books, MARCH 10, 2016 ISSUE
>by Lawrence M. Krauss
>Dark Matter and the
Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the 
>by Lisa
>Ecco, 412 pp., $29.99

- Jeff

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