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Time magazine spreads the horse manure

  1. Mar 24, 2014 #1

    phinds

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    Haven't seen this mentioned here yet. This week's Time Magazine has an article on the recent experiment at the South Pole that appears to have confirmed an observation of gravity waves (very cool) and in the first sentence they say that the universe started out as a single infinitely small point.

    So, what do you think? Is their science editor a moron? I vote yes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 24, 2014 #2

    Drakkith

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    Send him a message telling him to come here to PF for his "lesson".
     
  4. Mar 24, 2014 #3
    Roflmao good plan
     
  5. Mar 24, 2014 #4

    phinds

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    OOOH ... SUCH a talking to we would give him !
     
  6. Mar 24, 2014 #5

    Chronos

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    I suspect he will add a caveat - the observable universe.
     
  7. Mar 24, 2014 #6

    TumblingDice

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  8. Mar 25, 2014 #7

    phinds

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    Yes, different article and yes, I agree this one is properly written (at a quick glance anyway).

    The one I read is the march 31 hardcopy and the first sentence is

    It puts on no caveat about the Observable Universe and it goes on to say that what changed everything was "a primal explosion".
     
  9. Mar 25, 2014 #8

    bapowell

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    The online Time article also makes the unfortunate mistake of talking about inflation as parts of space flying apart at faster than light speed (even if we grant that expansion is a speed, which it is not, this statement is not unique to inflation).

    This is one of those discoveries that is hard to convey accurately to the lay public.
     
  10. Mar 25, 2014 #9
    Considering it is not a scientific magazine and it targets the public in general, the information doesn't have to be so precise and correct. Anyway, I'm sure that if the editor was here he'd go away crying. Even veteran members get corrected all the time, imagine a journalist.

    cb
     
  11. Mar 25, 2014 #10

    Drakkith

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    Agreed. Mostly at least.
     
  12. Mar 25, 2014 #11

    phinds

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    Veteran members don't say things that stupid. Well, OK, maybe I do sometimes.

    Still, this IS one of the most fundamental mis-statements that you can make in cosmology and it causes continued confusion in the mind of laymen. They read this crap often enough they believe it.
     
  13. Mar 25, 2014 #12

    Chronos

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    Beavis and Butthead astutely observed numbers are stupid - there are too many of them.
     
  14. Mar 26, 2014 #13

    phinds

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    I couldn't agree more. Damn things.

    On a similar note to this thread, I just heard a guy last night on one of those pop science shows saying that when you get an adrenaline rush due to a fight or flight response, you experience what is known as "time dilation".

    Sigh ...
     
  15. Mar 26, 2014 #14

    DrClaude

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    I'll be pedantic and point out that this in itself is in error. Gravitational waves have not been observed. It's their signature in the polarization of the CMB that was observed.
     
  16. Mar 26, 2014 #15

    George Jones

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    But what does it mean to observe something? We see the signature of the stuff that we are trying to observe in other stuff that we use for a detector.
     
  17. Mar 26, 2014 #16
    There are a lot more of us laymen than trained cosmologists in this world. I have been reading this forum almost daily for over four years and freely admit that I don’t understand half of what I read but I keep coming back because I’m interested in the subject and appreciate that which I can comprehend. In my opinion the science publications and programs intended for mass audiences do perform a needed and valuable service. They help me and others to at least conceptualize that which cosmologists cannot explain in common language. If while helping to bridge the communication gap is it really that important to differentiate for example between observable versus unobservable universe, or expansion versus explosion? And I have yet to see a good definition/explanation (by that I mean something a layman can grasp) on this forum whenever the issue of the ‘size’ of the universe at the big bang comes up.

    Let’s cut the science editor of Time Magazine some slack. He does not deserve to be called a moron.
     
  18. Mar 26, 2014 #17

    phinds

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    I disagree w/ much of your post, but that's just opinion for the most part, so I'll stick to this one statement, with which I definitely disagree.

    It has been stated on this forum MANY time, as follows:

    "universe" --- of totally unknown size, possibly infinite, but definitely believed to be at least many times bigger than the observable universe.

    "observable universe" --- a sphere of approximately 47 Billion light years radius, centered on your left eyeball.

    What is hard to understand about either of those?
     
  19. Mar 27, 2014 #18

    Chronos

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    Keep in mind they used to burn people at the stake for not dumbing down science enough to satisfy the temple priests. We have since become so civilized we merely vote down funding for science that is not dumbed down enough to satisfy politicians.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  20. Mar 27, 2014 #19

    strangerep

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    Probably doesn't answer Chiclayo guy's question. He was asking about the size at the big bang.
     
  21. Mar 27, 2014 #20

    OCR

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    Nothing at all, however... there is a 66.666…% chance it's his right eyeball.
     
  22. Mar 27, 2014 #21
    People can read relatively recent quotes from people like Hawking to this effect, so I really don't find it suprising.

    There's not a lot you can do when someone comes at you with "well Stephen Hawking believes in aliens, so why should I care about you and your Drake equation."
     
  23. Mar 27, 2014 #22

    phinds

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    NUTS! My eyes work faster than my brain sometimes. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Chiclayo, the size of the universe at the time of the singularity was unknown. It may have been infinite or it may have had a topology that is finite but unbounded (no center). Again, I don't see what's hard to understand about that. The question, it seems to me, is less what size and shape it had than where the *&@^#$& did it COME from?

    Whatever the shape was then, it's the same shape now, just bigger (unless it was infinite, in which case it is still the same size).
     
  24. Mar 27, 2014 #23
    Phinds…I think you missed the AT THE BIG BANG portion of my statement regarding the size of the universe. I am fairly certain that in the archives of this forum over the last four years you will find posts referring to the size of the universe at the instant of the big bang as ‘infinitely small’ (according to your opening post this is what the science editor apparently wrote), ‘pea-sized’, ‘grapefruit sized‘, about the size of a golf ball’, ‘unimaginably small’, and a host of others including infinitely large and unknown.

    Chronos…Burning people at the stake for presenting viewpoints that violate prevailing religious doctrine is different than burning them for not clearly expressing their thoughts. And as much as I personally favor science funding, I would hope that funding for anything would be denied if the petitioners cannot present in clear terms the nature of their project. And that is perhaps how people such as the science editor of Time Magazine, and Morgan Freeman with his science show could be/are of assistance, by paving the way in presenting basic concepts to the general public.

    Edit - just saw the above posts! :)
     
  25. Mar 27, 2014 #24

    phinds

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    See post #22.

    Not by any reputable cosmologists. I think what you are probably thinking of was "infinitely DENSE" and even that is probably not right.

    Huh? Where'd you get that? That isn't anywhere in my post.

    OK, you've seen #22
     
  26. Mar 27, 2014 #25
    Phinds… In your opening post you said, “…and in the first sentence they say that the universe started out as a single infinitely small point.” This is what I was referring to and was pointing out that this very description and others like it have been stated in this forum. But we’re getting wrapped around the axle here. The point of my posts is that the science publications and broadcasts do perform a service in presenting basic cosmology concepts to the general public.

    I recently read an internet news article commenting on a poll that supposedly showed that 1 in 4 Americans don’t know that the earth orbits the sun. In one of your posts in this thread you said, “The size of the universe at the time of the singularity is unknown. It may have been infinite or it may have had a topology that is finite but unbounded (no center).”

    Do you really think those 25% who don’t know that the earth orbits the sun are going to understand the words or concept? And I’ll bet that more than those 25% will be scratching their heads as they consult their dictionary, and that’s assuming that what you said has aroused their interest.

    Now…what if they heard Morgan Freeman say “…billions of years ago the universe expanded. It didn’t explode – grenades explode. It expanded, just like a baby grows, but much faster. We don’t know the size of the universe before it expanded but we assume it was smaller than it is now.” Clear as a bell - no dictionary needed.

    If I am appointed to the next vacancy for LCCF (Layman in Charge of Cosmology Funding) and you request funding in your jargon, even if you are on the verge of a major discovery you are probably not going to get your money. If you hire Morgan to present with you…the check is in the mail. :smile:
     
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