Crisis in Cosmology?

  • Thread starter Garth
  • Start date

turbo

Gold Member
3,028
45
SpaceTiger said:
Anything seriously challenging traditional theories without being widely accepted by the scientific community seems obviously fringe to me. That doesn't mean it's wrong, just that it's as I say, "fringe." This includes MOND, anti-big bang, anti-relativity, anti-dark matter, etc. Scanning the forum, I can see posts on MOND, "leaking gravity", crisis in cosmology...almost half of them.
This forum is followed by lots of young folks, many of whom probably just lurk and do not post questions that are important to them, simply because they do not wish to be stomped flat by "those in the know". These kids are the core of our next generation of physicists, and they should be encouraged to re-evaluate the assumptions behind our commonly-held beliefs and either falsify them or re-affirm them. If these bright young people are told that they have to blindly accept everything that came before them and is commonly accepted, and then "build" upon it, they are being programmed to perpetuate the failures of our generation. (Google on Cargo-Cult Science by Feynman)

It is one thing to pass on the knowledge of our generation to the next, and it is another entirely to pass on our prejudices and ignorances without insisting on a self-check feedback process to weed out the unproductive ideas.

SpaceTiger said:
This has nothing to do with absolute "truth", just the current state of science. If these boards weren't magnets for crackpots, these discussions could be conducted on more even ground, but unfortunately it's the extremists that tend to be on the internet hawking their ideas, not the serious scientists.
Some regard the "current state of science" as the "absolute truth". Unfortunately to acheive this level of certainty, you might have to enroll in Divinity School, and check your inquisitive nature at the door. There is an old divinity school in central Maine called the Bangor Theological Seminary. I became acquainted with a few of the students at that school after playing chess with them and talking with them on campus, close to where my apartment was, and started privately calling it the "Bangor Teleological Cemetary". The school seemed to be set on killing any inquisitive natures they might have had. Orthodoxy is not going to produce another Feynman, nor another Einstein. Neither of them regarded previous theories as sacred, and both insisted that we must constantly re-examine the assumptions of previous models to avoid repeating mistakes that are handed down to us as "givens". I will gladly link to examples of their writings, if you'd like.

SpaceTiger said:
There was even a talk about this at the last American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting. People who don't gain acceptance by the scientific community have a tendency to fight a propaganda war instead. Part of the reason so many people believe the BS is that the BSers are so much more aggressive about selling to the public.
This is not true. It is very easy to popularize science and gain support for its funding. Feynman (a giant in his day) gave public non-technical lectures that were geared toward ordinary people (intelligent non-physicists), that were very successful in conveying his wonderment and satisfaction at learning about simple concepts in the real world. People gravitated to him, and he was a great PR man for science, even when physics was seemingly degenerating into the "non-applicable" field of QFT. Sagan had even more popular commercial success with his Cosmos series, although I'd expect to get more out of an hour of Feynman than out of 4 hours of Sagan. :smile:

We need to encourage young folks to think for themselves - to look at the papers and the public pronouncements, and evaluate them FOR THEMSELVES. Otherwise, they won't become scientists - they will become functionaries and bureaurocrats in the scientific community. There are open questions in cosmology that need real inquiries and real answers. Teaching our kids to regard the BB and the standard model as "hands-off" and expecting them to be satisfied with scrambling for crumbs on the margins is really self-destructive and dumb.
 
Last edited:

ohwilleke

Gold Member
1,474
377
Garth said:
A person who doesn't ask questions is a fundamentalist, in religious belief or science; theologians ask questions.

Garth
Fair point. I certainly didn't intend to disparage critically thinking theologians. It's the scientists who think it is fringe to even ask questions that I have a beef with.
 
138
0
There will alays be a crisis in cosmology. That is because a cosmologists ultimite goal is the theory of everything. And, as everyon learns eventually, the more we know, the more we realize how little we know.

Cosmologists finding descrepancies in their theories is not the sign of a field in crisis, but instead the sign of one that is healthy and vibrant. When cosmolgists take all of their theories for granted with out further destruction of their own theories, that is is when Cosmology will be in a crisis. For when a scientific field believes everything to be going perfect, that is when it is trully in the most trouble.
 
When every one can point at least two competing theories in cosmology and alternatives will be taken seriously then we may consider that the field is healed.

Once something becomes widely accepted it is no more challenging. You may conisider also The Final Theory.
 
Last edited:

Chronos

Science Advisor
Gold Member
11,398
738
No serious scientist considers any theory 'proven', just the most likely explanation. Were that the case, why would anyone bother to continue making observations? People who make a career out of asking questions have a reason for asking them. They do not care to rehash the ones that have been answered beyond a reasonable doubt. Striking evidence is required to resurrect those issues. It is very doubtful that even a gifted amateur can ask a question that has not already been convincingly answered.
 
138
0
Chronos- That maqy be true, but after all Einstein was just a gifted amateur, and he changed the face of physics.
 
There are many questions to be answred yet.
I don't think that we will find the answers in the mainstream because nature has to be extremely complex if it can be explained in the standard spacetime framework. Instead I like authors like Stephen Wolfram and Eugene Savov who point toward a fundamental simplicity.
 

wolram

Gold Member
4,234
553
I love asking questions that get those in the know re examining
there notes, but i know i will not be satisfied with the answer, because
i know that cosmology lacks rulers, yard sticks, and no matter how
informed my mentor is on theory, he has few known measurements
to rely on, having said that main stream science can only observe, test,
measure, predict, theorise on, by using the wealth of information gathered
by science, What else is there?
 

SpaceTiger

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,931
2
brightstar2005 said:
There are many questions to be answred yet.
I don't think that we will find the answers in the mainstream because nature has to be extremely complex if it can be explained in the standard spacetime framework. Instead I like authors like Stephen Wolfram and Eugene Savov who point toward a fundamental simplicity.
New theories will always start outside of the mainstream, that's pretty much a given. The whole point of this is signal-to-noise ratio. The vast majority of fringe work turns out to be wrong, so unless you're directly involved in the development, you'd be wasting your time reading it until it becomes established. Mainstream work using mostly established theory, on the other hand, turns out to be useful and/or right the majority of the time.

All I'm trying to establish is that the separation of the material is justified by the existence of two separate audiences: one that just wants astronomy news and one that wants explore the frontiers of astronomical/physical theory. This separation exists both within the general public and within the astronomical community itself. Whether or not you or I think a particular theory is worthy of one's time is beside the point.
 
any theory that offers a simple and logical picture of the universe, like for instance the theory of interaction, is worth the effort of learning it.
 

SpaceTiger

Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
2,931
2
brightstar2005 said:
any theory that offers a simple and logical picture of the universe, like for instance the theory of interaction, is worth the effort of learning it.
Right, and I'll bet mechanics think it's worth the effort for me to learn everything about my car. You can't realistically expect everybody to want to learn about every new theory. I barely have any free time in the day doing my own job; I can't imagine people in other fields can afford to become experts in fringe astronomy.
 

Related Threads for: Crisis in Cosmology?

  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
15
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
636
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
4
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
2
Views
3K
Top