I just reread BBNH and I’m wondering, what happened to derail alternative theories to the big bang? BBNH was published around 1991, here we are 18 years later, and the same villains are still in control of mainstream science.
What happened? How is it that faith based “science” has trumped real science yet again?
What hope is there that things will ever get better? That humanity will escape the 20th century dark ages?
I was moved to express my frustration at faith based initiatives and attempts to get people to accept results of, say, elections.
I guess my point, expressed with a tinge of sarcasm, was that large swathes of the population don’t operate along rational, systematic, enlightened lines. This seems especially true of people in positions of power. They have more to lose.
Some memes are strong and hard to dislodge.
Were you hoping for specific, causal factors in response to your post?
If you’re asking about search engine visibility, it comes down to the time and money a webmaster and/or promotional department are willing to put into building a lot of quality incoming links for at least the most commonly used search terms. Links coming from .gov and .edu are the most coveted for their quality. This explains why we can’t compete with the DOE and most universities for general terms like fusion, fusion power, fusion research, etc.
Permanent magnet motor sites (and, I imagine, ZPE and perpetual motion machine sites) like to bleat phrases like “repressed information”. Maybe it’s marketing, maybe it’s from not learning the basics of SEO.
See The Emperor’s New Clothes. If all the funding for a field comes from a couple of committees controlled by guys who have put thier whole life into BB theory, then the consequence of questioning it is no funds, no tenure, maybe no job. Change is difficult. But the Alternative Cosmology Group now exists, so we have growing company and we just sent out a new press release. It will be on our website http://www.cosmology.info very soon.
I had wanted to interact with Eric Lerner, author of BBNH, ever since I read the book the first time. I wanted to interact with Taleb after reading “The Black Swan” but that didn’t work out. Someone named “Lerner” posted the response I quoted above. I’ll behave as if that is the real Eric Lerner, because I still would like to engage in a back and forth discussion.
Note about a year ago I sent an email to Eric offering my services as a programmer in the focus fusion effort. I suggested using video graphics boards, say by NVIDIA, as computational resources. The focus fusion effort would perhaps be helped by doing complex simulations. While I don’t know enough math to assist, I had thought I could contribute programming services. I was also fired up to invest in the focus fusion effort.
Then the economy tanked. My portfolio fell by 50% and so I was no longer in a mood to invest, and put money at risk. I was scheduled to call Eric on a Monday, but I chickened out and never made the call. This is just by way of background. The concepts in BBNH come back to me upon occasion, and since I recently reread the book I’ve been thinking about related matters again. Sorry I’m so long winded…
There is a recurring theme which appears in BBNH regarding why is time only moving forward. Meaning since the laws of physics appear to function equally well forward or backward, why is there a direction of time. Eric you devote a lot of time to this question, and I’ve never understood why there is such a mystery. You cite the example of balls bouncing around on a billiard table, running a film backwards is just as believable as forwards, once the balls are in motion.
This is a convenient example that illustrates the problem of why time is one directional. But the example is a tiny subset of physical interactions that take place. Consider a box up on a shelf that tips over and falls to the ground. It is now in a lower energy state. This scenario is certainly not reversable. The box on the ground can no longer summon enough energy up to vault itself back up to the shelf. Things fall into lower energy states and are more stable. Things cannot enter higher energy states without some external source of energy.
Consider the lens of the human eye. The lens is made up of some transparent protein that can be deformed easily, so it can change its focus. The lens is formed in the womb along with the rest of the infant’s body. Upon entering the outside world, the lens is now subject to ultra violet radiation. Sometimes a UV light hits the lens in just the right way as to cause cross linking, or perhaps some damage to the lens protein itself. I’m unsure of the details. But suppose it is cross linking between two sulfur atoms in different protein layers of the lens. Suddenly this cross link exists and it’s a strong bond. Those layers can no longer slide relative to each other. The lens is no longer as pliable as it once was. The individual experiences trouble focusing the eye as well. And this is a typical manifestation of aging.
There is no mystery in this case why time proceeds in one direction only. The lens started out in a perfect, pristine state, then little by little acquired cross links and they persist. Once the sulfer atoms form their chemical bonds, they persist. They’re more stable than non-linked sulfur. QED. It’s like a lock snapping into place.
Or atomic nuclei bonding to form more stable nuclei, leading up to iron. Certainly each fusion is not reversable! At least without some external source of energy to break the bond.
Anyway I’ve never really understood why so much attention is placed on the question of why time is one direction only. Oh well.
Another point I wanted to make concerns the question of predictability. An argument is made that it is impossible to predict the future because space is infinitely divisible. One can never know exactly where all the particles are in order to model a system, because it would take infinite precision to even record the position of a single particle. And without knowing the exact positions, the errors will accumulate until the simulation will diverge from reality, inexorably, in increasing amount.
Why is it even a question? It feels like a sop to the religiously minded. They want the future to be uncertain. Free Will and all. Claiming that the universe can be deterministic in its principles, yet “we” can’t ever predict its outcome because we can’t ever get an accurate enough model of its current state—it sounds like a lame attempt to pacify religious people who wish that We Can Never Know The Mind of God. That is, writing out the physical laws of this universe would imply predictability and as such would imply that god himself is predictable, and as such is heresy. So in order to get past this obstacle (religious zealots that will sabotage efforts at achieving understanding) basically the assertion is, “Don’t worry—even if we do figure out the underying laws, we won’t be able to predict the future because we can’t know the current state accurately enough. You have nothing to fear!”
The truth is you don’t need space to be infinitely divisible in order to make it impossible to run the simulation into the future. Space could be quantized, it could take a finite amount of information to describe a particle’s position. Yet because we’re in the universe and every particle of the universe is interacting with every other particle, we can never be able to model the universe perfectly. CONT
The truth is you don’t need space to be infinitely divisible in order to make it impossible to run the simulation into the future. Space could be quantized, it could take a finite amount of information to describe a particle’s position. Yet because we’re in the universe and every particle of the universe is interacting with every other particle, we can never be able to model the universe perfectly.
Anyway I wanted to make a point about humanity’s approach to understanding the physics of the universe.
Einstein was always trying to fathom “The Mind of God”. Or “The Old One”. He felt that at the bottom level the principles of the universe must be elegant. Einstein—smart guy, right? Yet did he really believe in A Divine Creator? Can any scientist really believe there is a God and truly be scientifically open minded? I’m convinced Einstein failed because whether or not he did believe in Intelligent Design, his approach essentially was no different than if there was a designer.
Specifically if Einstein intentionally ruled out “inelegant” theories in favor of “elegant” ones, that conscious choice itself presupposes that the universe was designed by an intelligence that itself deliberately chose elegance over inelegance. The expectation of elegance inherently is thinking within the box. As such, einstein failed in his attempts to understand the universe. He was doomed to failure. Understanding can only come by abandoning all preconceptions, including the requirement for elegance, simplicity, an intentional design, purpose, and indeed meaning itself.
I would like to share a link to my own theory of why we exist, or why this universe we live in exists. Here it is:
Basically even if you start from the premise that “God created the universe” you have to ask, “Why does god exist? Where did He come from?” Eventually there is a requirement for spontaneous reality to come into existence. I believe that the infinity of all possible universes, with all possible physical laws, with all possible initial conditions, all exist and are real—each to itself. We’re just in one of the myriad possible universes out of all of those. All the others are imaginary. The mere potential for a universe to exist gives rise to it. It is real to itself. There is no Big Machine computing any universe. There is no creator. If anything universes are a spontaneous outcome of Information itself.
From that point of view the only thing special about our universe is that it is suitable for the evolution of life intelligent enough to wonder why it exists. There is no requirement that the physical principles of our universe are computable, elegant or even especially simple. They DO appear to be pretty simple, however. That’s also a bit of a surprise, when you think about it.
Let me give one more example of the Thinking Inside The Box. Newton realized gravity fell off in an inverse square manner. We know that any function can be exactly reduced to a Taylor Series expansion, as in
f(x) = a + b/x + c/x^2 + d/x^3 + e/x^4 ...
Newton noted that gravity appeared to fall off as the square of distance. As such there is only a term for (c) in the Taylor Series. a, b, d, e and all the rest are zero. Why must they be exactly zero? Why must c’s coefficient be exactly 1? Here is the subconscious expectation of simplicity. Of elegance.
Might there be non-zero terms for the other members? Are we (as a species) even looking for such things? “Gravity falls off as the square of distance. Therefore our equation is f=Gm1m2/r^2.QED”. That is really ridiculous, when you really stop and think about it. Who said the physical laws operating in this universe must have integer coefficients? Might the coefficients be, instead, irrational numbers? Might it take an infinite amount of information just to represent the equations themselves?
Might it take an infinite amount of information just to represent the equations themselves?
I wanted to share one other thought while I’m thinking of it. In BBNH there is discussion of the problem of black body radiation. It is presented that when one derives the blackbody radiation as a function of temperature from maxwell’s equations, one gets an ever increasing amount of energy radiated as the wavelength goes down. An infinite amount of energy would be blasted off from every black body!
The problem was “solved” by Planck arbitrarily asserting that energy is quantized. Presumably if EM radiation can only be emitted in integer multiples of Planck’s constant amount of energy, the black body equation can be utilized and there is now perfect agreement between theory and experimental evidence.
So therefore EM radiation is quantized, and thus quantum theory is born and 100 years later people are still building on top of this foundation.
And yet we’re at an impasse at our understanding. String theory is a monstrosity. The Big Bang theory is a joke! We’re at a dead end.
It occured to me that it is ridiculous how we believe EM radiation is quantized just because it allows an arbitrary equation to be used. It’s like humans are notorious confusing the equation that describes the underlying behaviour with the real behaviour itself! BBNH makes this point many times. Yet BBNH didn’t criticize Planck and quantum theory itself as being an instance of this. Perhaps the foundations of quantum theory are themselves untenable.
Who says that EM radiation has to be quantized? Why is it even necessary. When you come down to the underlying nuts and volts of why black bodies emit radiation, you will come down to some finite number of particles in the black body that are jiggling with random thermal motion. There is a spectrum of energy levels of the particles in the black body, at any given temperature. The radiation emitted prsumably comes from thermal collisions between particles. Because the temperature offers an array of energy levels of particles, there is a broad spectrum of energy levels of collisions. Yet no particle has infinite energy!
It is a statistical thing. At any temperature a body composed of particles has particles of varying speeds. Some are slow, some are fast. Faster and faster particles get rarer and rarer. An equation might say that no matter how high a particle’s energy level is, you would epect _some_ particles to exist at that energy level. Meaning a simple equation might demand _some_ tiny percentage of particles with truly vast amounts of energy.
Yet coming back to the real world, we deal with statistics. You only have a finite (yet very large) number of particles in any black body. The drop off in population as a function of energy level means that pretty soon you actually have zero particles with very migh energy level. The likelihood of finding such a particle in the body with vast energy becomes vanishingly small. A black body itself is not infinitely divisible. It is ITSELF quantized because it consists of a finite number of discrete particles.
One does not have to quantize the energy that a particle interaction can throw off. Things are already quantized because there are always an integer number of particles, in the real world. Matter itself is not infinitely divisible. Yet the equations that demand infinite energy emitted by a black body—they inherently must describe matter as being composed of an infinite number of particles!
This is ridiculous! And quantum theory is built on top of this assumption? Why not toss it all out and start over? Why not devise better equations that relate to real matter, composed of discrete particles?
Oh well. I’m out of steam writing this down. Sorry if I bored anyone.
I am currently reading a book, “The Future of the Internet” by Zittrain. Great book! Relevant to anyone who uses the internet. Relevant to people in countries where the internet is being used to crack down on dissenters. And at its heart, relevant to this endeavor.
A basic theme of the book is “generativity” vs. lockdown. The net is generative because it enables anyone to do pretty much anything, create anything, modify anything, in unexpected ways. And to collaborate and create, also unexpectedly. But this same generativity makes it possible for anyone to create harmful things. Spam, spyware, destroying other people’s reputations, files, finances, launching nuclear missiles - what have you. We’ve been living blissfully so far, enjoying the generativity, and suffering the increasing problems without doing much (like, instead of solving the spam problem, we just increase bandwidth. Many computers are sending 90% spam, unawares. When they get slow - more juice.) We’re just putting up with the nuisances.
The very success of internet is what’s causing the problems, and before you know it, we’ll have a cyber “pearl harbor”, or the attrition occuring now will have the same result - as it is already having - of people locking down. Shifting away from this generative realm, limiting themselves, in many interesting ways I hadn’t considered until reading the book. (e.g., giving power over to others to make decisions for us, basically. Like Tivo is able to file a suit and make another company retroactively withdraw content from your computer with an update, and so forth.) (think I used “e.g.” correctly there).
OK, I’m only halfway through this book, but it’s ringing a bell. Lerner’s book was, in part, about the tension between empirical and deductive reasoning. This internet book is getting me to see the interplay of generativity vs. lockdown as another operating force in the field of knowledge and information, religion and science.
There’s a parallell here, I feel. Maybe a bit of a stretch. Like the religious folk want to stop religious tinkering - have a final truth and shore it up, because when you allow tinkering, all kinds of harmful things enter the realm, and then just anybody can spew anything. Best shut it down and control entry. To a lesser extent (but nonetheless similar) science. You start letting people tinker too much, and you’ll be up to your ears in paranormal psychometrics or whatever. So you err on the side of control. Shut them out. Make barrier to entry very stiff. Fair enough - or not. As with the internet or with religions, the barrier can easily become proprietary and subjective. It’s a slippery slope. Objectivity is not a strong human tendency.
These things have a trend cycle, though. The burden of challenge is just high, but not completely blocked like it is with some religions. It’s playing itself out. It’ll take time.
Well, maybe not that much time if we had search engine optimization! Yes! My bad. I’ll get on that. Soon. I swear! “We have not yet begun to fight!”
But at some point, you’re going to have to relax and get comfortable with the uncertainty thing. It’s not so hard. You may even find it liberating.
Just a point of order; a Taylor series expansion is only possible when the function is so smooth that it can be differentiated again and again ad infinitum. Sound or light waves are a fair example. Otherwise it is just a polynomial approximation. (Taylor’s Theorem allows for a remainder)
I wonder why you stop at the particle level in your discussion. Can not an infinitely large Universe also be infinitely small?
I like where this is going, but I’d cut out some of the subjectivity and inject more of your thoughts on universe models (and resultant theories) including supporting evidence. With all of the media and opinion out there things get sort of convoluted. For example, relating QM with plasma cosmology and the Standard Model to explain gravity and the events of the colossal and the minute. Of course, Phil’s Dad, why should we suppose a bound upon the size of matter in the infinitesimal direction when we have not demonstrated the existence of a building-block (think lego - nothing exists in the lego world that is smaller than the smallest lego) like environment? Rather, the evidence has shown more of a relativistic environment; one with time, matter, and subsequent relationships and therefore organization (and let’s stay away from thinking about ideas in terms of their originators, or anything subtly ad hominem).
Anyway, can anyone attest to the assumption that dash is proposing to be a weakest link?
I would love to hear Lerner’s thoughts on QM, particle physics, gravity, and the Standard Model in relation to his experiences in research since TBBNH - and please include other favorite theories you’ve come across (variable speed of light, etc).
I guess a lot of people like to dream up science fiction-like realities (I don’t know, to keep them interested in science? Shouldn’t scientists be the most interested in evidence?), but I don’t see how these aren’t completely subjective. We have the evidence that is our experience, and then we have hip “physicists” telling us about the “true” nature of things: that QM shows that things are actually just weird (who would have thought). After reading The Dancing WuLi Masters, I don’t see QM as weird at all - where is the evidence that it is weird? Science now works at the quantum level verifying QM theories and at the macro level verifying our older theories - so? That doesn’t mean the evidence is telling us to be confused, it means the evidence is saying what is has always said: matter from little to big inherently requires a hierarchy of structures. “Reality” at the quantum level behaves like the double slit experiment, and “reality” at our level behaves, well, you know… This means that matter bunches up in a way (scales) so that layers exist with respect to one another - who is to say which one is the way things really are (they both are - not to say there is two, or one, or zero, or however many). I always hear the proposition that relates quantum weirdness to the experimenter and that it is sentient like us (read Jaques Monod to realize that either: neither are sentient or both are sentient; sentience is a term loosely meaning “like me”, “no, you know, can think the way I think”). The scientists thoughts are not collapsing the wave function, they are “collapsing” the concept of the wave function by bring philosophy into the equation. QM started working and they thought “oh man, how does this apply to me and my existence.” I could go on for a while, but I would like to hear from other scientists instead.
I wonder why you stop at the particle level in your discussion. Can not an infinitely large Universe also be infinitely small?
Along those lines recently I was trying to figure out if an infinite universe can actually “move forward” where every particle in the universe depends on the influence of every other particle in the universe. By “move forward” I mean where every particle progresses in whatever it ought to be doing. If the “next step” of a particle depends on the influence of every other particle in an infinite universe, how can an infinite amount of information be brought to bear on each particle. I’m still uncertain as to whether it’s possible, even with infinite computational ability.
Anyway as I was considering that, I realized that there is the issue of locality. A particle near me does not care what a particle in the crab nebula is doing “right now”. Whatever that distant particle is doing takes years to propagate here, due to the speed of light limitation. As such the influence of the crab nebula on particles in my local vicinity only depends on what was happening in the distant past “over there”.
Specifically it seems possible to have an infinite universe, provided the “aether” or fabric of the universe propagates effects at the speed of light. Every particle affects the aether, and those effects spread outwards. As such each region of the aether is dependent on the rest of the universe, but the problem is mitigated because you only have to be concerned with the immediate vicinity.
Now I’m trying to figure out if it’s possible to have no particles at all, only the “aether” and its characteristic properties. Might an electron not be a particle that exists on its own, and then has an influence on an electric field? Rather, could the “electron” be a stable phenomenon in the “aether” that has the effect of propagating outwards in all directions an effect on the aether like the electric field? So you have only the aether, plus stable “constructions” within that aether that we confuse as being particles. The question is, why have a particle, and then also have its effect on a separate field? Why not dispense with the particle and only have the field?
The way I visualize this is similiar to computer demo effects. There is a “fire” effect where you have a hot spot on a video window, and the “heat” propagates from hot to cold pixels. It’s accomplished with an averaging of neighboring pixels. If you simulate this you get a situation where “heat” bleeds away in a nice circular manner. An electron could be a stable source of “heat” that then bleeds off in 3 dimensions, the heat dissipating in an inverse square manner. Here is a link showing an image of such a “fire” simulation. http://www.xdr.com/dash/fire.html
It occured to me that perhaps there really are only two fundamental “particles” in this aether, the electron and the positron. Maybe somehow there is a stable mode where you get some 900 electrons and 901 positrions together and this blob forms a proton. Or 901 of each forms a neutron. In each case the overall “charge” on the heavy particle is correct, and its mass would be correct also.
Also I was wondering if a stationary electron is a perfectly symmetric structure in the aether, meaning it has a perfectly uniform effect on the aether spreading out in all directions. Perhaps a moving electron is no longer symmetric. It has a different effect on the aether, and this effect is itself moving through the aether.
I’m trying to figure out how special relativity can fall out of this approach. I don’t believe in general relativity, actually. I don’t believe space is warped. Rather, I like a uniform aether that actually does have a fixed reference frame. The question is how to have such a universe yet explain the observed effects.