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Public interest

  1. May 24, 2008 #1

    wolram

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    I think string theory and quantum loop theory are the instigators in destroying public interest in cosmology, pop articles promised so much ,but nothing emerged, i also think that funding of cosmology projects will decline with diminishing results, it is no fault of the scientist, just bad luck that nothing (earth shattering) is coming from the millions spent.
     
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  3. May 24, 2008 #2

    wolram

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    Oh, and the demise of GPB may have put the cap on public interest, your long shot predictions may have sealed any advancement in cosmology, good work guys.
     
  4. May 24, 2008 #3

    cristo

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    There are a couple things I don't understand in your post: firstly, why should popular science dictate actual science? And secondly, I don't see a declining public interest in Cosmology: there are way more popular books on the subject now than, say, thirty years ago.
     
  5. May 24, 2008 #4

    wolram

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    May be you live in thought space, come down to reality space, diminishing returns equals less funding, popular books do not increase funding for essential research, interest in cosmology will decline if fantastic unsupported theories abound, the public needs a fact or two to keep an interest.
     
  6. May 24, 2008 #5

    wolram

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    Oh and i bet most book sales are to universities and libraries, not the general public, stuck on shelves unread, (by the general public), can any one give a break down??
     
  7. May 24, 2008 #6

    Nabeshin

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    Yeah, I probably agree with this. When all these books and publicity came out about string theory and everything it sparked a lot of interest, but now in the wake of that people probably don't take cosmology very seriously.
     
  8. May 25, 2008 #7

    cristo

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    Does that mean you agree, or you don't? :confused:
    What do you mean by "take cosmology very seriously"; are you saying that because, in your opinion, the interest in cosmology by the general public has recently dwindled people are now saying that cosmology is not a genuine science? Do you have any evidence for this, or is it just what you speculate?
     
  9. May 25, 2008 #8
    Wolram. It seems every now and then you post something negative about the state of cosmology. It’s getting a little tiring, especially when your conclusions don’t appear to be very sound.

    How about looking at it from another perspective, and seeing that it’s not speculative theories, lack of public interest or throwing more money at it, but a significantly greater challenge making more earth shattering discoveries.

    Wasn’t 98 a big year for cosmology?
    Wasn’t 64 a big year for cosmology?

    Next year we have Planck going up, won’t we see some big things come from that?, not to mention the LHC.

    Have some patience, the future looks far from worsening.
     
  10. May 25, 2008 #9
    I assume he means people don't want to expend their money or time on cosmology. Isn't that the most likely meaning? Why do you think otherwise?

    I take cosmology very seriously.
     
  11. May 25, 2008 #10

    Wallace

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    Sales of popular books /= research funding. There is plenty of money in areas of research that no one in the general public has ever heard of. Contrary to popular opinion, research funding is not determined by popular opinion or politicians. The total amount of funding a country gives to research is obviously affected by politicians, but whether it goes to string theory, cosmology satellites, cancer research, semi-conductor fabrications etc etc etc is determined by expert communities. This is true in effectively all major research countries.
     
  12. May 26, 2008 #11

    Nabeshin

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    Kind of. I should say that I haven't gone out and polled people on cosmology but this is just the impression I get. Because a lot of popular cosmology books (for most people, the only subject matter they will ever know) deal with things that are primarily metaphysics, in the public eye it can lose its position as a genuine science. Not suggesting any implications of this, just that it seems to be true.
     
  13. May 26, 2008 #12

    cristo

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    Which popular Cosmology books are these?
     
  14. May 26, 2008 #13
    The problem with cosmology is that it assumes a whole lot of stuff. The general public is going to go wow really, how do you know that? All they get in response is a bunch of mumbo jumbo that doesn't make any sense at all to them which is mostly all hypothetical. That leaves them in the position of either putting their blind faith into the matter, or to dedicate their lives to learning cosmology.

    I think people prefer science that they can observe for themselves rather than just taking some peoples word for it.
     
  15. May 26, 2008 #14

    cristo

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    What does modern Cosmology assume?
    This is something that really grinds my gears: why should it make sense to them? I don't expect someone to teach me, a layperson, how to perform brain surgery, and even if someone did write a popular science book on the topic, would you let me operate on your brain after reading it? The point is that there is only so much that one can popularise; there becomes a point in any technical discipline at which one must sit down and get their hands dirty.

    Fine, but then they shouldn't feel to need to complain about those that they can't comprehend!!
     
  16. May 26, 2008 #15
    Cosmology assumes Big Bang.

    Brain surgery can be observed, and people can see proof that it can work. Also even if they decided to dedicate their lives to cosmology, they would never be able to prove Big Bang because it cannot be observed and it cannot be tested.

    I'm just saying, why should the public be interested in it when it offers nothing to them.
     
  17. May 26, 2008 #16

    cristo

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    The current model of Cosmology is the big bang model, which simply says that the universe was, at one time in the past, a lot smaller and a lot denser than it is today. This has a huge amount of evidence to back it up. Cosmologists don't just make these crazy models that have nothing to do with the real world (well, most don't anyway)-- they are constantly looking for more data to either give the model a firmer base, or to disprove it.

    But that's why the general public don't really care about physics, not specifically Cosmology.
     
  18. May 26, 2008 #17
    Astronomy offers a lot because they deal with what we observe and that is much more real to us. Physics in general offers inventions and advances that are definitive. Nuclear and particle physics offer advancement observation and experimentation as well as energy. Engineers make stuff and invent things that we use and or observe. General Relativity helps us with space missions and GPS.

    My point is that public interest is always going to mainly be stronger in areas that are more tangible and realistic to people.
     
  19. May 26, 2008 #18
    Another thing is that Big Bang isn't honest to the public as to what it is. Firstly the name bib bang implies that the universe was created in the event of a "big bang". Also it is a gray area as top wether that is what the theory really means. Then you say it was just smaller and denser. Does that mean their was a big bang that created the universe or not? Is it just that when you actually delve into cosmology you realize that it simply amounts to observation indicating and expanding universe? Where does that leave the public who was told that cosmology tells us of the birth of the universe.
     
  20. May 26, 2008 #19

    Kurdt

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    Thats hilariously ironic when most of the general population, put heir blind faith into other things. :rolleyes:

    The problem with demanding evidence for each new advance in understanding a theory is that it is going to become more and more difficult to obtain that data. Take for example certain parts of string theory that predict a violation of the equivalence principle. We need first to design equipment that can detect the acceleration of a test mass relative to another to within fractions of the width of an atom. That takes a lot of developmental research time before the experiment can even begin. In that time theorists can and will have made many many more predictions at levels that are currently out of reach to experimentalists.

    Like others have mentioned, funding is not determined by public opinion of a subject. Whether the public take a dim view of scientists or not is of little concern to most scientists in terms of research but perhaps in terms of their own personal feelings. Some scientists take a lot of lambasting from the general public for no good reason.
     
  21. May 26, 2008 #20
    That may be true, but also it is ironic that most people who put blind faith into things don't read much non-fiction anyways. So even those who do put their blind faith into cosmology probably don't read cosmology books.
     
  22. May 26, 2008 #21

    marcus

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    I can't tell if you are just complaining about various aspects of life, or complaining and trying to attach the blame to someone.

    Or whether you are actually proposing that we do something.

    ========================
    if you are just complaining then the whole thing doesn't mean much but we can still try to respond. "big bang" was a name given by Fred Hoyle who didn't like the expanding model of cosmology. The name caught on with journalists and the public. Too bad.

    In scientific literature they don't talk about "big bang theory". The phrase big bang is typically just used to designate the start of expansion. Increasingly models go back in time before the big bang moment. In such models the big bang does not correspond to birth or creation (or other poetic ideas) it is just a step along the way. Cosmology's job is to describe the evolution of the universe as best we can, not to explain why it exists.

    Tough luck for the public if they got the wrong idea. Sorry about that.

    Do you feel you have to blame someone for this? Whom are you going to blame? Stephen Hawking? Brian Greene? The Pope? I think they are just trying to sell books or doing their job as best they can. If you want, blame a naive public with its craving for a Creation Story.
    ===================

    It would be more interesting if you had something to propose. If you see a problem, then what should we do? What should we write our congressmen about and ask them to do? What books should we buy to give our children? Do you see a problem that we can take some specific action about?

    ===================

    I'm not sure there is a problem. Astronomy research is on a roll. Discoveries are piling in fast. Funding is booming.
    And for very good reasons. Astronomy/astrophysics and observational cosmology are in a hugely productive historical period.

    Returns on investment here are way out of proportion with the average for normal periods of science.

    It has to do with new instruments observing new parts of the spectrum. And with large coordinated arrays.

    It could be argued that there isn't any problem here and there isn't anything we should be doing to correct the situation because it is going just fine already.

    =======================

    I think there MAY be some problems over next door in particle physics-----collider stuff---high energy physics (HEP). It might have to do with something simple, like maybe there are just too many HEP theorists and HEP phenomenologists. And there could be a problem of what to do with the more average or mediocre bulk of them. My impression is that many of the really smart ones have already gotten out and found new stuff to work on. But that is just my impression and I could be wrong. If there is a problem, I stress IF there is a problem, it might have repercussions for astronomy because it is next door. Problems at the neighbors are always worrisome. there could for instance sometime be a boatload of emigrees requiring assimilation. But that is very uncertain. I am not sure that there is a real problem here either.
     
  23. May 26, 2008 #22

    Nabeshin

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  24. May 26, 2008 #23

    cristo

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  25. May 26, 2008 #24

    Nabeshin

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    It's not a matter of what I'm reading, simply of what's out there for other people to read. Not everyone is going to pick up the best books on cosmology, or have the time to read several and get a broad overview of the topic from several points of view.
     
  26. May 26, 2008 #25

    cristo

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    Ok, I've lost where you're going with your argument now. You started off by saying that you don't take Cosmology seriously, then gave a link to some books that you say are primarily metaphysics. But.. these books are not talking about mainstream Cosmology, they are models derived from string theory. We're here talking about the standard model of Cosmology, aren't we, and so we should surely cite books on that topic?

    Anyway, I don't think this line of discussion is going anywhere.

    I also should state that I agree with what marcus has said above; if popular science gives people the wrong impression of real science, then we're sorry, but there are some things that cannot be put into laymans language and still remain precise.
     
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