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Bet on the Big Bang

  1. Jun 7, 2004 #1
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  3. Jun 7, 2004 #2


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    Egg, there is a stupendous vagueness about what people mean by
    the "Big Bang"

    what do you mean by it, exactly?

    what model of cosmology, or models, do you imagine will be
    discarded by cosmologists within 3 years?

    to make a good bet you need precise specs
    you have to say what you mean and give some criterion.

    the people who lay real money bets on things like the Demise of String Theory
    have some definite criteria

    I wish I knew what you meant by Big Bang.

    My apprehension is that it has meaning only in the mass media and in popular imagination.

    All cosmologists know that if you push Einstein's 1915 model back it
    developes difficulties (infinities, glitches) at a certain time and fails to compute. So the model fails at that mark in time.
    this is considered as a fault and a sign that a quantized version of
    the model is needed.

    the place at which one cannot say anything because the model fails is
    affectionately called the "BB singularity"
    but its existence is just a temporary human intellectual shortcoming

    an improved Gen Rel theory will get rid of this "BB singularity"

    just because our current model fails does not mean that something exists in nature

    Zen saying: When the archer misses the target, he looks for the fault in himself.
  4. Jun 7, 2004 #3


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    Before saying anything further, why don't you take the time to learn about the scientific method? Seriously. The big bang theory will be finished when something better comes alone to replace it. That is, a model that can explain the available data the standard model cannot and make successful predictions. So far nothing does so.

    The sites mentioned have little to do with science (the third site is run by apologetics who believe santa claus created the universe a short while back) and there is much better material to read before being able to make an educated guess as to how long to big bang theory will around.
  5. Jun 7, 2004 #4
    I was recently entranced by the whole big bang buster movement because of dissatisfaction with a straw-man that I wrongly thought was the mainstream view: that is that the Big Bang was a causless creation-ex-nihlio and that all Existence was finite- which I feel is absurdity- but I have since updated my knowledge of the most popular theories and with all the ideas like multiverse models/ Landscapes/ infinite inflation/ ekpyrotic brane collisions/ multiple big-bang scenarios/ etc it is clear that there is no one out there really claiming a singular vision of what/where/when/how the big bang is- and no one is really claiming that it was purely causeless- just that in the distant past there was an event which seems to have caused our observable region of the universe to change in some way- generally an expansion/cooling- but beyond that there is no consensus- so there really is no need to quixotically battle with the Big Bang-


    /:set\AI transmedia laboratories

  6. Jun 7, 2004 #5


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    To elaborate just a little on what others have already said in reply to big-egg ... the observational data put forward to support the BBT is pretty solid; is big-egg expecting that within three years new observations will be solidly established, sufficient to require all flavours of the BB to be rejected? If so, I'm certainly curious as to what he (she?) thinks those observations might be.

    From another perspective, the observations to hand to date can take us back to the surface of last scattering (from the WMAP data on the CMBR), and to an earlier time of nucleosynthesis (with more uncertainty). How much further back than that you wish to go is somewhat a matter of taste; my own view is that the observational data doesn't (yet) provide all that much to constrain the models and theories at any earlier times (for the avoidance of doubt; some constrains yes).
  7. Jun 9, 2004 #6
    I think that there are enough observations already to look for something that makes a better sense than the big bang. For example, the similarity between the near and the most distant galaxies and the discovery of heavy elements in the most distant quasars suggest that the big bang universe enters one of its recurrent age crises.
    For alternative view, which is consistent with the mentioned puzzles you may look at

  8. Jun 9, 2004 #7


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    I didn't understand what "... suggest that the big bang universe enters one of its recurrent age crises" meant until I clicked on the link. big-egg, and Savov (per the link), seem to have misunderstood the Big Bang theory (BBT), or the recent galaxy and 'elements in quasars' observations (or both). For a start, the 'similarity between the near and the most distant galaxies' isn't what Savov makes of it, and is more a challenge to how we understand galaxies to have formed in the early universe (~300k to ~100M years) than to the BBT. Further, the 'similarity' isn't that early (or distant) galaxies look like the Milky Way (they don't). Much the same about 'heavy elements in the most distant quasars'; the data on the primordial abundance of nuclides - one of the three pillars of the BBT - is solid, and heavy elements in quasars would seem to have little direct relationship with the primordial abundances.

    As to whether Savov's ideas are 'consistent with the mentioned puzzles', well, the link only gives some nice words and hand-waving. To be taken seriously as an alternative, let's see some concrete, specific, quantitative predictions; the first three listed in the link are too vague to test (almost any observation could be claimed to match), and the last seems to me to be a meaning-free statement. For example, let's see a Savov prediction on the history of initial stellar mass function (roughly, the proportion of stars in each mass class, as they form in galaxies; how has this varied over the past ~13 billion years? Numbers, not words and hand-waving please).
  9. Jun 9, 2004 #8
    Sorry, at the moment I have only just picked at my TOES (Theory Of Entropic States), and I can seriously state that I am at least a decade away from re-configuring the Big-Bang model, and even at this early stage, I still only see my model as a New 'INTEPRETATION', an Extension so to speak! :frown:
  10. Jun 9, 2004 #9
    Not so with the (joint) Cosmology Statement - Open Letter to the Scientific Community. I recognize some of these names as belonging to real scientists. Yes, these people are in a minority position reacting against BB, but their complaints deserve consideration (as to whether they represent the actual situation).


    Is there a BB-dominated science ruling class that thwarts attempts to disprove or work independently of the BB presumption?

    Are research funds and use of facilities withheld from known opponents of BB?

    Is there need for regular consideration of opinions contrary to BB to keep scientists honest in their work? The claim is that observers are required to interpret everything in BB terms, when they should be reporting data cleanly.

    Is BB theory slippery, like those geocentric epicycle theories in the past that accommodated any possible planetary observations by merely changing the size and numbers of epicycles? The claim is that BB accommodates new data by ad hoc changes of parameters. Parameters like baryon-density/boson-density ratio and absolute-temperature-of-cosmic-background-radiation are just set to make things come out right for the current observations, rather than theoretically justified-- so goes the complaint.

  11. Jun 9, 2004 #10


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    Even that site has little science involved. A minority crying about the big bang theory on an internet website, unable to provide a better working model is nothing worthwhile.
    Yeah, and maybe they work together with the scientists and government officials who cover up UFO's? Spare us the silly conspiracy theories, please.
    I don't know, you'd have to check with the giant conspiracy of scientists mentioned above. From what I've read, it would seem that there is a lot of competition among scientists for funding, telescope time, etc. so it would make sense that such is reserved for promising fields of science.
    Anyone who would make the claim above demonstrates a profound ignorance of the scientific method.

    In spite of all the conspiracy theory nonsense, there is a very simple reason why the big bang has become the mainstream model. The big bang is not merely a hypothesis, it is a theory. That is, a model that can explain the available data and has made several successful predictions about cosmogical phenomena. It is a model that has been very successful and scientists have no reason to discard it until something better comes along. And to clarify on that point, any replacement must be able to either account for some existing data the current model cannot, and must make testible predictions about the observable universe.

    That doesn't mean a model that "feels right" or is philosophically pleasing. It means a model that can actually be tested. If it can't, scientists won't waste time on it for the simple reason that it isn't science at all. Do cranks ever once consider that maybe, no such model has come along? Regardless, how many physicists do you suppose actually think the standard model (cosmological) is complete? Their continuous search for a more complete model should immediately reveal the conspiracy theories to be the bull**** they are.
    There are free parametres to begin with. So what? The big bang did not become mainstream from being a vauge model that can encorporate any data. It become the preferred model by making testible predictions that have been confirmed by experiment time and again. A better model may come along, but it will have to pass the test of time like the big bang theory has to become mainstream.
  12. Jun 9, 2004 #11
    I'm going to play Devil's advocate here becasue I recently went through a "crisis in faith" concerning the BB- but arguments for it like your post Eh fail to actually provide a solid stance- instead it comes off as arrogant and it doesn't answer the question- posts like this that sound overlly "religious" in the conviction actually make you MORE doubtfull of the BB- not less-

    I came back to beliving in the basic ideas of the BB through my own search- the continual condecension and failure to argue against the opposing view-point does NOT help steer people to the right track again- you should consider this!

    here are some examples:

    this is incorrect- in EVERY case where the Big Bang is rejected- an alternative theory is always presented- most of the scientists who signed the letter are Plasma physicists and have been working on incredibly detailed/thorough/ mathematically rigourous Plasma Cosmology theories which they believe more elegantly/intuitively/accurately descibe the universe without the need for ad hoc devices like MACHOS/ Wimps/ Dark matter/energy and large extra dimensions- IS Plasma Cosmology a better model? I say NO- but I never see physicist and posters here actually explaining WHY- instead they ignore the theory and say "they don't offer an alternative to the BB" but they DO- some of these theories are too mathematically complicated for a non-mathemetician to really evaluate - it would be nice to see a SOLID MATHEMATICAL DE-BUNKING instead of simply ignoring these ideas!

    conspiracies ARE silly- but the idea that scinece is being done with ethical perfection is even more silly- scientists and boards ar humans- and humans are impoissibly hypocritical and biased- you try to be pure- but ultimately a maverick/crank is likely to get little funding REGARDLESS if her theory is solid or not- this is just a reality of being flawed humans-

    unfortuanetly this is not the case in reality- there have been a number of occaisons when data differed from prediction- especially with Inflation- and the theory was adjusted after the fact to fit the results of experiments- this does NOT invalidate these theories- it just demonstrates that the whole picture is not there- however I have to admit that even considering adjustments and "epicycles" the BBT still has a gigantic and unignorable amount of physical/logical support- even if the details aren't quite as solid- but if you try to cover up these kinds of weaknesses by ignoring them- it certainly makes the BB LOOK like it's wrong- it just doesn't help- you have to level with people so they can see the REAL stength of the BB and not the lie of perfection!

    If it wasn't for these attitudes I would have come back to the fold much sooner! no one wants to try and see the position of someone who is ignoring yours- even if they ARE more right! this is basic sociology here! but we all know how skillfull many scientists are with social/emotional sensibilities: i.e. NOT!


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    Last edited: Jun 9, 2004
  13. Jun 9, 2004 #12


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    Someone here in PF recently posted a link to what I think is one such paper, it was 67 pages long, yet barely (IMHO) started to address the astronomical data! :surprise:

    From my POV, an equally difficult task confronting all those who propose alternatives to the BBT is to 're-explain' just about all the observational results from extra-galactic (= outside the Milky Way) astronomy.

    Take a non-cosmological redshift, for example. First, what are those fuzzy patches of light (and X-rays, and IR, and radio, ...) which we otherwise called 'distant galaxies'? If they are galaxies, how distant are they? In these alternative views, what are the properties of these galaxies (mass, size, stellar mass function, rotation rate, gas content, ....)? You can see how tough these questions become by considering just size (as determined by some objective measure) - assuming a cosmological redshift, a 0.3, 1, 3 billion light-year distant cD elliptical galaxy is pretty much the same physical size as M87; under the alternatives they'd be much smaller (or larger). Another example: equilibrium IGM (as determined by X-ray observations of clusters).

    The CMBR is another example; whatever explanation a BBT alternative proposes, it needs to work through the implications of this alternative, and show consistency with the relevant astronomical observations! This is not for the faint hearted, and also isn't so much tough math as painstaking detail in tracking down the data (which exists by the TB) to test against these implications.

    Finally, just a word on the 'give us our daily funding and Keck time': these critics would, IMHO, make a stronger case if they could show that the vast amount of high-quality data already available FREE, in the public domain, has been extensively mined for support for their alternatives. After all, all they need is a high-speed internet connection and good data mining software.
  14. Jun 9, 2004 #13


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    A theory is not something you pull out of your ear

    I think the position has been quite well explained. The big bang is accepted because it's been such a successful theory. It has also been explained what it would take to replace such a model. And that's really all it comes down. Yet this is not enough because 99% of the critics (at least on this forum) are so because they can't tell the difference between science and general philosophy. They can argue against the big bang all they want, but they can't present a better model.

    Does it sound condescending? Perhaps it is. But if an individual can't be bothered to learn anything about science to start with, facts aren't necessarily going to steer them in the right direction. In that case they should just head over to the philosophy forum instead.
    No they don't. They post models that cannot be classified as theories because they have not had any experimental verification. In many cases, they post models that don't even make any testible predictions at all, which leaves us with philosophy, not science. Of course I am being generous, ignoring the "models" that aren't even consistent with the available data. See sci.physics for examples.
    I've seen scientists take the time to explain this numerous times, though the alternative model is not often specifically plasma cosmology. So why do physicists opt for the big bang model over plasma cosmology to be worthwhile? Probably because the big bang theory has made several successful testible predictions, while you can't say the same for plasma cosmology. In the absence of experimental success, plasma cosmology has not achieved the status of theory and cannot explain any data the big bang cannot.

    While proponents of plasma cosmology (and other alternatives to the BBT) will claim their model is at least simpler and requires less ad-hoc explanations, this claim is subjective, and many physicists would likely argue the opposite.

    From the Ask and Astronomer site:

    The bottom line is that there is no body of evidence that plasma cosmology is trying to explain, that ordinary gravitational cosmology cannot explain in a much simpler way.

    What then, does plasma cosmology offer as a replacement to the standard model?
    This has nothing to do with "ethical perfection". Science is a method that was developed to minimize human bias in the search for knowledge about the natural world. This method works fairly well because you can't argue with experimental success, no matter what philosophical bias you may have.

    The last statement in the quoted text is nonsense. A true crank won't get funding because he/she isn't doing science, and it's usually obvious fairly quickly. Do you honestly think an idea for perpetual motion would be rejected because of human bias?
    Oh? I thought this was a discussion about the big bang model, not inflation or anything beyond the standard model. One would be on shakey ground to call inflation an established theory, and there is competition from more exotic models to account for the early evolution of the universe. Without much experimental verification, these models are far from such the status of theory, but I think most scientists in the field would recongnize that fact.
    That is how science works. When a hypothesis is found to be incompatible with the evidence, it must be revised or replaced.
    Who is ignoring them? Certainly not physicists, who are always trying to find better and more complete models. No one is claiming the current models are complete, so to claim that anyone is covering up the shortcomings of the mainstream theories is ridiculous. However, when someone comes along complaining about a massive scientific conspiracy, they must be reminded that science is not about philosophical ideas that feel right. If an individual cannot be bothered to even learn about science before posting, hostile and even rude responses are expect and IMO, justified.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2004
  15. Jun 14, 2004 #14
    Food For Thought

    "just because our current model fails does not mean that something exists in nature"

    Something exists if its behavior self-consistently accounts for observation.

    "The big bang theory will be finished when something better comes alone to replace it. That is, a model that can explain the available data the standard model cannot and make successful predictions. So far nothing does so."

    This is not obvious in the context of the presented links.

    "As to whether Savov's ideas are 'consistent with the mentioned puzzles', well, the link only gives some nice words and hand-waving. To be taken seriously as an alternative, let's see some concrete, specific, quantitative predictions; the first three listed in the link are too vague to test (almost any observation could be claimed to match), and the last seems to me to be a meaning-free statement. For example, let's see a Savov prediction on the history of initial stellar mass function (roughly, the proportion of stars in each mass class, as they form in galaxies; how has this varied over the past ~13 billion years? Numbers, not words and hand-waving please)."

    The understanding of the universe should not depend on numbers but on qualitative reasoning [1]. That is what Savov does in his book. He tries to change our qualitative understanding first. Afterwards he offers some numbers, e.g. successfully calculates the ratio between the masses of the earth and the sun in the terms of his theory of interaction. His “firework universe” effectively removes the singularity in the universe beginning and generates finite bodies whose interaction accounts for everything including life and mind. What the BBT tells about the appearance of the observer? It tells nothing. The properties of the proposed 3D-spiral code of nature generate the properties of consciousness [2].

    The three pillars of the BBT – redshift, cosmic microwave background (CMB) and the abundance of light elements find a much simpler explanation in Savov’s theory of interaction. The light ages on it way from the distant galaxies and its structure expands to create the observed cosmic redshift [2]. The cooling of the just born firework universe made of multiscale bright stars created the CMB and its structure. The light elements H and He were more easily ejected from their sources (seen as stars) to create their predominant abundance in the cosmic space. The latter conjecture is confirmed in the content of H and He in the solar wind (about 99%).

    1. Maddox, J., Big bang not yet dead but in decline, Nature, vol. 377, 1995, p. 99.
    2. Savov, E., Theory of Interaction the Simplest Explanation of Everything, Geones Books, 2002.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2004
  16. Jun 14, 2004 #15


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    Hmm, so, according to Savov, an entirely appropriate way to proceed with science would be something like this (yes, it's a strawman, but the point is to illustrate a pretty radical difference between what Savov says (per big-egg) and science as is currently done): I've got a far better understanding of gravity than either Newton or Einstein provided; it's really {qualitative words about the marvelous new idea}. No, I've not written down any equations to characterise my new idea, and so I can't give you a method for calculating the trajectory of the Cassini spaceprobe, the orbit of the Moon, or even the fall of an apple on an airless world. I can assure you that my new idea works really well because I have successfully calculated the ratio of the time of the Permian and Cretaceous mass extinctions; my idea also explains the colour of the sands of the beaches of the island of Mindanao. Oh, and no, I can't share with you my calculations; nor have I submitted any papers to peer-reviewed journals.

    PF has two excellent boards on which we could discuss this - Theory Development, suitable for new ideas; and Philosophy of Science, where we could talk about how radically new approaches to doing science may become mainstream.

    If Savov's idea can be used to successfully estimate the ratio of the mass of the Earth to the Sun (to how many significant digits? what data sources did he use for the current observational values? what errors? etc), he surely could calculate the ratio of the mass of Phoebe to Saturn (or any of the moons of Saturn)! If so, he lost an extraordinary opportunity to make a splash - Cassini has just flown past Phoebe, and so a dramatically improved estimate of the mass of Phoebe will shortly be announced. If Savov would care to make predictions of the ratios of the masses of the remaining moons which Cassini will fly closely by in the next few years, a set of very specific tests of his idea would be possible.

    Alternatively, perhaps Savov could give us precise predictions of the angular power spectrum of the CMBR? The second year's results from WMAP will be out before too long, and a prediction which matches the soon-to-be-announced results would be a real coup for Savov.
  17. Jun 15, 2004 #16


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    light ages? with respect to what? light does not have a time dimension. photons wink in and out of existence simulataneously from the photon's reference frame. savov needs a refresher course in GR 101.
  18. Jun 15, 2004 #17


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    In that case, any disagreement reduces to "I like my ideas better than yours" and ends there. I think you'll find the philosophy section of the board more to your liking: science deals with numbers.
  19. Jun 15, 2004 #18


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    An immediate problem I see with the suggested "qualitative" approach (if I understand it correctly) is that it builds the explanatory model first and then finds the data that supports it (ignoring the data against it). In short, a scientist practicing this method would not look for data that can falsify the theory, which is an important part of the scientific method.
  20. Jun 15, 2004 #19


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    As I understand it, Burbidge, Arp, et al, are objecting to just this kind of behavior in regard to the Hubble redshift/distance concept. Not only the fault of not looking for insupportive data, but even worse, the ignoring of existing evidence to the contrary. From a basic web page on the scientific method (http://teacher.nsrl.rochester.edu/phy_labs/AppendixE/AppendixE.html):

    I. The scientific method has four steps

    1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.

    2. Formulation of an hypothesis to explain the phenomena. In physics, the hypothesis often takes the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.

    3. Use of the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or to predict quantitatively the results of new observations.

    4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

    If observation (for example the observation of apparently causually connected objects with widely disparate redshifts in the case of Burbidge and Arp) disagrees fundamentally with accepted laws, the Scientific Method demands that the observations be examined, disproved, or proved, THEN back to step 2, when the hypotheses are re-examined, if necessary. Unfortunately, the astronomical community has not comported itself well in this regard, and refuses to examine the apparently disparate redshifts critically. There are a number of very compelling examples of apparently physically-associated items with discordant redshifts, but there is precious little attention given to these quandries. It may be that there are other mechanisms beside cosmological expansion that can cause redshift, and the astronomical establishment does itself a disservice to dismiss examples of discordant redshifts so high-handledly without exploring the alternatives.

    It may be that the Big Bang is safe and sound, once apparently non-cosmological redshifts are examined and explained. Alternatively, the Big Bang might be threatened if the Hubble constant is re-examined critically. Either way, if the folks that feel that the Hubble constant is flawed should get a fair hearing.

    In a June, 1988 letter to me, Halton Arp wrote "While attending the 'Cosmology in Retrospect' symposium in Bologna a few weeks ago I had occasion to reread some of Hubble's old papers. It surprised even me. Hubble always said - 'if the redshift means velocity.' Even in a paper published after his death in 1953 he said that cxz=velocity is not formally correct."

    Halton "Chip" Arp is not a crackpot, or even a fringe observational astronomer. He is one of the 20th century's premier observational astronomers, and he has worked closely with some giants of the field. His survey of "interesting" (in the Chinese sense) galaxies is pivotal. When an astonomer of his magnitude makes some very basic repeatable observations and suggests that we need to re-examine some widely-accepted beliefs, we should pay some attention.
  21. Jun 16, 2004 #20


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    quantum physics [and Godel, for that matter] predict a certain amount of 'unpredictability' in observations. the best fit theory is as good as it gets. scientists are not dogmatic fools... some of them even have children to support. grant money is not free. they are very careful about what they publish because a single mistake could put an end to their credibility and careers.. or force them to write blame-game occult books about their failed theories to make a living.
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