March 21, 2013

"Astronomers released the latest and most exquisite baby picture yet of the universe on Thursday..."

"... one that showed it to be 80 to 100 million years older and a little fatter, with more light and dark matter than previously thought, and perhaps ever so slightly lopsided."

128 comments:

Gerry Blargeaux said...

Physicists believe that neither space nor time existed "before" the big bang. Isn't that cool?

Rich B said...

This was before Roe v. Wade, right?

Lem said...

I feel the baby universe is just so pointedly white that it feels deliberate.

traditionalguy said...

Are we back to the question of what existed before creation explosion and the corollary question of what now holds it together?

But the answer is no clearer...unless astro-physicists postulate Dark Energy and Dark Mass at war with the energy and mass that they can measure with current instruments.



Shouting Thomas said...

This was before Roe v. Wade, right?

Even before gay marriage!

Lem said...

Maybe they should just poll the age question.

Toby said...

Older, fatter & more lopsided. As I enter middle age, this is depressingly familiar.

Darrell said...

It's all about the dark matter. Fucking racist astronomers!

Nonapod said...

They recently have pretty much confirmed that the Higgs Boson does indeed exist, further validating the Standard Model. Still working on the whole Dark Matter and Dark Energy problems though.

SteveR said...

Fatter? Slightly lopsided?

Well that's obviously the side where NYC is.

YoungHegelian said...

The term "baby picture", while amusing, is misleading.

This is output from a computer model. A model with huge-ass matrices with no doubt tens if not hundreds of thousands of variables (degrees of freedom -- I always loved that phrase).

While the people who put these things together are brilliant, it's not like they can go back and look and see what was what a second after the Big Bang. They change some variables, run the model, and ask the question "So, does this look like what we've got now for a universe?"

Well, let me tell you, a lot can happen in 14 billion years.......

Revenant said...

This is output from a computer model. A model with huge-ass matrices with no doubt tens if not hundreds of thousands of variables

It isn't the output of a computer model. It is a graphical representation of the measured background radiation in all directions. It is what they will be comparing the output of their models *to*.

Darrell said...

I've had Easter eggs come out exactly like that and nobody made a big fucking deal about it.

Alex said...

Globular Clusters.

edutcher said...

Those are called breasts.

But wait until it learns to walk and starts waddling around.

Lem said...

When Kim Kardashian heard about an "exquisite baby picture" she inquired about hiring them for her baby pictures.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

More light and dark matter?

How dare you post such a link.

Your white supremacy is showing again there Professor Althouse, off to diversity training for you.

LordSomber said...

I've always been interested in astronomy. I'm an Aquarius.

Brew Master said...

I love the human fascination that all things have a beginning. The Big-Bang has always struck me as filling the need to assign a start, and therefor an end.

This is in parallel with our human existance regarding birth and death. You find this thinking in most aspects where humans struggle to interpret reality, whether that is in religion or physics.

It is nearly impossible for us to internalize the universe outside of this paradigm.

YoungHegelian said...

@Revenant,

I see your point, and will admit to some gun-jumping (but not assault-rifle jumping...).

I'll bet there's still more computer massaging of those images than they're letting on, though. And I don't mean just for "clarity", either.

Revenant said...

The "Big Bang" idea wasn't invented to fill a need for a beginning. It was invented to explain an observation: namely, that the large structures in the universe are moving away from each other. "They started off closer together" is the logical inference from "they are moving apart".

Revenant said...

I'll bet there's still more computer massaging of those images than they're letting on, though.

Er... what would be the point?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

How can the astrophysicists possibly know what they claim to know? We do know they must be brilliant, because they've managed to get paid quite a lot to expand their knowledge.

chickelit said...

Anybody else bothered by the vantage point?

rhhardin said...

You know it's news professionals when a change from 67 kilometers per second per megaparsec to 69 kilometers per second per megaparsec is called a factor of two.

Brew Master said...

Revenant said...
The "Big Bang" idea wasn't invented to fill a need for a beginning. It was invented to explain an observation: namely, that the large structures in the universe are moving away from each other. "They started off closer together" is the logical inference from "they are moving apart".


Not to quibble (who am I kidding), red-shift is the observation that the expanding universe theory attempts to explain. The big bang is just the ascribed starting point of this expanding universe theory, the starting point.

rhhardin said...

I don't know what they did to look earlier. Presumably that would have to be looking at a higher frequency so as to see stuff beating a little more of the ionized plasma that makes the early universe opaque.

I thought what they were up to was higher resolution more than earlier time.

Those lumps tell you everything, but you have to resolve the lumps so as to get a nice experimental power spectrum.

rhhardin said...

Earlier time in fact defeats the usefulness of the lumps a little.

You need gravity to have had time to form them.

The trick is that you then know a priori how big they are, so their experimental size tells you how far away they are.

rhhardin said...

Or, if you assume how far away they are, the discrepency tells you whether the universe is open, flat or closed.

Conservatives root for flat.

rhhardin said...

There's heavy computer processing to remove all the radiation known about already, which is a huge contribution from e.g. the Milky Way not to mention the cosmic background that was discovered by Penzias.

XRay said...

Could someone explain what projection (if that is the right term) method is being used. Is it something like a Mercator projection. Would the oval fold away from or toward. What exactly is the point of view.

The Godfather said...

The "lopsided" part is interesting, because as I understand it the theory was that (at a large enough scale) the universe looks the same in every direction -- and from any vantage point. If it's lopsided, then that's apparently not true.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chickelit said...

What exactly is the point of view?

I assumed it was God's perspective as it is from "outside" the Universe.

Revenant said...

Not to quibble (who am I kidding), red-shift is the observation that the expanding universe theory attempts to explain.

"Red shift" and "it is moving away from us" are the same thing, Brew. :)

chickelit said...

edutcher said...But wait until it learns to walk and starts waddling around.

It already looks big enough to roll to the bus stop.

n.n said...

An alternative to "Big Bang" which explains the perceived redshift is that the speed of light is not constant and experiences a progressive decay.

Is there an accessible independent frame of reference for its measurement?

Perhaps it doesn't matter. We don't know if time is an independent dimension or a property of motion. We are integral elements within the frame we hope to characterize and our perception is likely to be permanently constrained.

Revenant said...

Could someone explain what projection (if that is the right term) method is being used.

It is a Mollweide projection.

Would the oval fold away from or toward.

Toward. Think of it as a map of the earth for someone standing in the Earth's core.

Revenant said...

An alternative to "Big Bang" which explains the perceived redshift is that the speed of light is not constant and experiences a progressive decay.

The big bang produced more phenomena than just redshift. These other phenomena (e.g., microwave background radiation) have also been observed and cannot be explained by a decaying speed of light.

On the flip side, a decaying speed of light would have produced numerous phenomena besides red shift; none of these have been observed.

Capsule summary: "the speed of light decayed" is, at present, approximately as valid as "a wizard did it". Which is why you only ever hear it mentioned on creationist sites. :)

bagoh20 said...

"Physicists believe that neither space nor time existed "before" the big bang. Isn't that cool?"

Yes, very. And the question remains: why did it ever begin? I was always taught that a baby was never the beginning of the story.

Nathan said...

A touch too cloying, Mr. Overbye, even for the Times.

The gynocentric style has finally infiltrated the Science section.

FleetUSA said...

This seems like so much finger painting.

Is it relevant to our lives today? Should government spend millions on this astronomical navel gazing?

chickelit said...

FleetUSA asked: Is it relevant to our lives today? Should government spend millions on this astronomical navel gazing?

If God's existence can be disproven, then Good* Government can step in to fill the void.

I justify it on the basis of curiosity, but YMMV.

____________________
*note the addition of the extra "o"

chickelit said...

Also:

It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them. ~J. Robert Oppenheimer

Maguro said...

I still feel like dark matter/dark energy are basically excuses for why the formulas we have don't work rather than explanation of how things do work. Sort of like the epicycles the Ptolemaic astronomers used to explain the irregular movement of the planets in their earth-centered solar system model.

Cedarford said...

Gerry Blargeaux said...
Physicists believe that neither space nor time existed "before" the big bang. Isn't that cool?

=================
It is, but it is another blow to religions that claim a God the Creator.

Lucien said...

"Fatter, with light and dark matter" thqat means "well-marbled", right?

mtrobertsattorney said...

Your right Cedarford, but only if God is conceived of as a spatial body locatd in time.

Chip Ahoy said...

The microwaves that the satellite measured are 370,000 years old which is as far as they can go (as new as they can go) but they still have the patterns established in 1 trillionth of a second after the big bang.

Yeah, yeah, yes, do go on.

There was a burp

Yes, a burp, continue.

That was the dynamite of the big bang.

Perfect! Yes, I'm with you. Continue please.

Oh. That's on page two. Forget it then. You should have had entertained me with more cogent metaphors to hold my attention and more thoroughly confuse me. As it is, I'll take my information elsewhere. Good day. Isaidgoodday

Revenant said...

And the question remains: why did it ever begin? I was always taught that a baby was never the beginning of the story.

Causality assumes time; if X caused Y, X precedes Y. Since there is no "before the big bang" the big bang cannot have a cause in the sense we're used to using the word.

There are quite a few hypotheses, but I don't know how you'd start to test them. Personally I favor the explanation that we're being simulated on a computer. :)

Revenant said...

Is it relevant to our lives today? Should government spend millions on this astronomical navel gazing?

Who knows? The theory of relativity started out as astronomical navel-gazing with no apparent applications, but did ultimately lead to a lot of the technology we rely on today. It is hard to predict what an expanded understanding of the universe will allow us to do.

Worst-case scenario, we'll know more than we do now. Best-case scenario... we gain access to unlimited energy and material resources and learn how to bend space and time themselves to our will?

Mnemosyne's Notebook said...

I want to ask the MIT guy why the universe can't just tell us what it wants us to know.

Why does it have to try to tell us something? Why can't it just speak plainly? Is there a theory for that?

Revenant said...

I still feel like dark matter/dark energy are basically excuses for why the formulas we have don't work rather than explanation of how things do work.

It is entirely possible. Dark matter/dark energy get mentioned almost exclusively in the press because (a) they sound dramatic and (b) the rival theories are frickin' impossible to understand without a lot more math than a typical person is prepared to handle.

"There's matter out there causing that gravitational attraction, we just haven't found it yet" is comparatively easy to grasp.

rhhardin said...

Sort of like the epicycles the Ptolemaic astronomers used to explain the irregular movement of the planets in their earth-centered solar system model.

Epicycles are the Fourier series expansion of the ellipse.

Nini said...

Gerry Blargeaux said...
Physicists believe that neither space nor time existed "before" the big bang. Isn't that cool?

=================
Maguro: It is, but it is another blow to religions that claim a God the Creator.



You have not read the Kalam Cosmological argument?

Nini said...

Maguro: I still feel like dark matter/dark energy are basically excuses for why the formulas we have don't work rather than explanation of how things do work.


That maybe so. But even then Einstein wondered why mathematics were so good in describing reality. He wondered "what breathed fire into the equation?"

bagoh20 said...

" It is, but it is another blow to religions that claim a God the Creator."

So which is really a bigger leap of faith - that there is a reason and a cause for it all, or that it just happened without one? Which idea is least in line with the rest of our experience?

XRay said...

Thanks, Revenant. And you too, chickelit.

Lem said...

It already looks big enough to roll to the bus stop.

I seeee you.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

So which is really a bigger leap of faith - that there is a reason and a cause for it all, or that it just happened without one?

The former, because it requires not only believing in something that has no cause (God), but that that thing caused something else (the Big Bang). The latter requires only believing in something that has no cause (the Big Bang).

n.n said...

Revenant:

You're looking for a single, universal explanation. I did not offer one.

What numerous phenomena does decaying speed of light produce? Would you name one or direct me to a relevant resource?

XRay said...

"So which is really a bigger leap of faith - that there is a reason and a cause for it all, or that it just happened without one? Which idea is least in line with the rest of our experience?

Your question contains the answer, does it not. "Faith". As in, it is all pretty much a crap shoot as to reason. Roll them dice momma.

Revenant said...

It is, but it is another blow to religions that claim a God the Creator.

Not really, although it is certainly a blow to Old Testament literalists. But quite honestly anyone who is still a Biblical literalist in this day and age obviously stopped caring about scientific knowledge a long, long time ago.

The theory that time "began" with the big bang just means that any creator would have to exist outside of our universe rather than within it. For obvious reasons we have no way of ruling that out.

mtrobertsattorney said...

So Mr. Hornblotch, you say the universe just sprung into existence out of the void, out of absolute nothingness?

Indeed I do. It's magic I tell you, magic--the great secret is that all physics rests on magic.

bagoh20 said...

So it's either faith, or faith-faith. That's a relief, because I'm much happier when I get to decide myself.

Freedom!!!

n.n said...

certainly a blow to Old Testament literalists

Not really. The Old Testament is a written record of events designed for human understanding. It is similar to the articles of faith, including the "Big Bang", which attempt to match plausible explanations to observed patterns. They each represent philosophies attempting to explain phenomena outside of a rational frame of reference. The assertions made by both religious and atheists cannot be tested or reproduced. They are inferences made from limited, circumstantial evidence.

Revenant said...

You're looking for a single, universal explanation. I did not offer one.

I am not looking for a "single, universal explanation", whatever that means. I simply pointed out that while the big bang is supported by multiple observations, "decaying c" is supported by one but refuted by others. That means "decaying c" fails as a theory.

What numerous phenomena does decaying speed of light produce?

That's "would", not "does"; it isn't happening, after all. :)

A short list:

1. Gravity would bend past light differently from newer light, which it does not.

2. E = mc^2. Energy is conserved, ergo if c decreased with time then mass must have geometrically increased with time, which it did not.

3. As a side effect of 2, the vast majority of the stars and galaxies we can see wouldn't be able to exist at all. Those that did would have different physical characteristics corresponding to their lesser mass; they don't.

4. The microwave background radiation would be completely uniform, which it is not.

There are zillions of other reasons, but those are what leap to mind. The speed of light is a fundamental constant; if you futzed with it the entire universe would behave in a radically different manner.

David said...

What if the measurements of variations in heat are actually something else? Variations in time? Changes in the way heat is seen over time? Some kind of lens effect from forces or substances we can not presently imagine? Can the so-called big bang have happened more than once? Did the same thing happen in different times but at once? In different spaces at the same time? Are there other forces that we can not presently measure or even imagine?

My guess is that at some point the present theories will look ludicrously wrong.

What is nothing? What comes before nothing? What causes nothing to become something? Now that there is something can there be nothing again?

Revenant said...

So it's either faith, or faith-faith. That's a relief, because I'm much happier when I get to decide myself.

Belief in a causeless cause requires logic, not faith. Faith comes into play when you have the causeless cause start doing stuff. :)

chickelit said...

Suppose that our Big Bang was some alternative universe's Big Implosion? One day, our matter and energy will collapse back and explode out through the anti-matter side--or stepwise--coagulating black holes all come together in an anti-Big Bang. It's a frightening scenario to imagine and makes me want to go out and race cars in a "chicken run."

Revenant said...

Not really. The Old Testament is a written record of events designed for human understanding

That fails as an explanation. The order of creation is objectively wrong, and "people would have been confused by the correct order" is not a rational explanation for that.

If anything, it would be *less* confusing than trying to explain how day and night existed before the sun did. :)

Revenant said...

What is nothing?

To date, the only known example of "nothing" discovered by scientists is Congress' plan for tackling the structural budget deficit.

bagoh20 said...

"Belief in a causeless cause requires logic..."

Yea, OK, if it makes you feel better. I'm not disagreeing, nor am I religious, but you do choose that, just like everyone else, based on what you prefer, rather than any evidence.

n.n said...

Revenant:

That short list is built on assumptions. For example: an isolated system, and another: unspecified matter and energy. At what point do we distinguish between patterns matching observations and assumptions? Where do you draw the line between science and philosophy?

n.n said...

Revenant:

Perhaps a photon decoupling event following a "Big Bang".

You have attributed something to me that I did not write: "people would have been confused...".

I am also not suggesting that the Old Testament provides an accurate or even factual description. It describes phenomenon which occurred outside of a limited frame of reference.

Still, their writing does not refer to "day" and "night", but "light" and "darkness". Perhaps "dark" refers to dark energy.

In any case, it is not my interest to defend articles of faith, but to distinguish between philosophy and science.

Revenant said...

Yea, OK, if it makes you feel better.

How I feel has nothing to do with it. Any given event either does or does not have a cause. A cause must, by definition, precede its effect. Thus if there are no "uncaused" events, the universe must be infinitely old and contain an infinite number of events.

If the universe is infinitely old, by definition nothing precedes it and thus nothing can have caused it. If the universe is not infinitely old then it must contain at least one uncaused event at its beginning. Either way it is logically impossible for the ultimate source of what we see around us to be caused.

Personal belief has nothing to do with it, unless you count the personal belief that logically impossible things cannot happen.

I'm not disagreeing, nor am I religious, but you do choose that, just like everyone else, based on what you prefer, rather than any evidence.

That's a dumb thing to say.

Revenant said...

That short list is built on assumptions. For example: an isolated system, and another: unspecified matter and energy.

You're babbling. Please cite specific scientific objections to the points I raised. :)

Revenant said...

I am also not suggesting that the Old Testament provides an accurate or even factual description.

Well, yes, you did, although you might not have meant to. I said:

it is certainly a blow to Old Testament literalists

To which you replied "not really".

Old Testament literalists, by definition, believe the Old Testament provides an accurate, factual, literal accounting of creation. So yes, you were claiming that Big Bang cosmology was accurately described in Genesis.

Revenant said...

Still, their writing does not refer to "day" and "night", but "light" and "darkness".

Read further in; the days are separated by nights.

doustoi said...

They're so cute at that age!

doustoi said...

They're so cute at that age!

The Godfather said...

The creation story in Genesis 1 is a beautiful and poetic way of saying that God is the Creator and master of the universe. That is the purpose for which it was written, not as a cosmology text. The order of creation events is not important to its purpose (and Genesis 2, a different and older version of the creation story, has a somewhat different order of events). To us moderns it's interesting that Genesis 1 starts with "let there be light" -- energy, the Big Bang -- but that's just a coincidence.

Thoughtful Christians today do not imagine that God is part of the space-time universe. How could the Creator be part of the creation? Can the potter be part of the pot? Can the programer be part of the program?

So the idea that the physical universe, including time and space, had a beginning, and that neither time nor space existed before that beginning, is entirely consistent with Christian theology.

The reason to believe in God is NOT because such a belief is needed in order to explain physical phenomena. Why believe in God then? You need to work that out for yourself with (as St. Paul said) "fear and trembling".

n.n said...

Revenant:

Okay. Thanks for clarifying your perspective.

n.n said...

Revenant:

It's presented in a language and context suitable for comprehension by those early people. There is no hidden knowledge or motive to infer beyond that. It's similar to the use of dark matter and energy to represent unknown properties necessary to satisfy our modern physical models.

Dante said...

While the people who put these things together are brilliant, it's not like they can go back and look and see what was what a second after the Big Bang.

This is incorrect. These are actual received signals from the birth of the universe.

The universe is expanding at a high rate, nearly the speed of light, and so the original light (or other non-visible other photons) have to traverse a long distance to get here.

traditionalguy said...

For the record, the billions of years old earth is not contradicted by the Genesis account when properly read. Genesis 1:2 records an account of a restoration of the earth by God's spirit hovering over a disaster following a severe judgement of God that had left the original perfectly created earth of Genesis 1:1 in a topsy turvey and smashed up condition.

That re-creation job ended with God's choice to breath of a part of His life into a simple clay form He called Adam and Eve. That is the extent of the creation Revelation given in Genesis.

A desire to fill in missing knowledge lead fundamentalists to assert an erroneous young earth reading that Clarence Darrow so easily destroyed in the 1920s Scopes trial.

Inga said...

Trad Guy,

I'm going to have to reread Genesis 1:1. It's an amazing take on the Creation to assume it was a recreation, after being destroyed. But then again I was raised in a Fundamentalist church.

Inga said...

Reading about Pre Adamic man, interesting theory to say the least.

Inga said...

Instinct says (to me) that we crawled out of the primordial slime..... Oh well, I still struggle with accepting the Biblical Creation, either way.

traditionalguy said...

And where did the Neanderthals all go to? Some say homo sapiens must have eaten them to extinction, while and others say they must have interbred with the new homo sapiens and thus disappeared themselves. Hmmm.

Inga said...

I'm watching a video about The Gap Theory, fascinating stuff.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Everyone, atheists especially, should goggle in wonderment that one animal species on one planet is capable of hypothesizing and confirming those hypotheses about the state of the universe billions of years ago.

Everyone, atheists especially, should ponder the fact that for the first 5.0+ billion years the universe existed, there is no way "life", and especially intelligent life, could have existed.

Why? Because stars are the furnaces where elements heavier than hydrogen and helium are fused to become still heavier elements; it takes a star that much time to fuse lighter elements into carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. Then the star has to explode and release those elements as clouds of gas that take a billion years to coalesce around other younger stars to form planets.

So you have a universe five billion or more years old and with NOTHING able to perceive it.

Spooky.

mtrobertsattorney said...

"If the universe is infinitely old, by definition nothing precedes it and nothing can have caused it."

At any given point in time in an infinitely old universe of material causes, an infinite amount of time must have passed to reach that point. But this is impossible. Therefore, that point in time could never be reached.

The theory of an infinitly old universe material universe contains within it an inherent contradiction.

But aside from this problem, there is still the question of the explanation for the continued existence of an infinite series of material causes.

As for the notion of "uncaused" events in universe that is disclosed to us by our senses, if this idea were taken seriously, it would soon subvert science. Any event in nature could be labeled "uncaused".


Any speculation about an "uncaused" event such as the origin of the material universe leaves the world of science and enters into the realm of philosophy.

Illuninati said...

I believe the Genesis creation and flood stories are probably adaptations of Sumerian creation stories. The flood story is told much earlier in the Gilgamesh epic. The theology and cosmology are much more advanced in Genesis but it is not a literal description of creation. To understand the truth that the author of Genesis is trying to convey you need to see how it is different from the original story. Subtract the Sumerian myth from the Genesis myth and you get the new unique information Genesis is transmitting.

Until recently most great thinkers believed Genesis couldn't be right because the universe was eternal. It had always been. That was much more logical than the Biblical idea that the universe came from nothing. A Roman Catholic priest coinvented the Big Bang theory.

I believe Darwin was an outstanding scientist and a great thinker. His theory is the origin of species, not the origin of life. Evolution explains how life changes over time but it doesn't explain how life came into existence. So far I am unaware of any scientific explanation for life. There is much speculation but no actual demonstrated pathway to life.

Scientists have made wonderful progress in neuroanatomy and neurochemistry, but consciousness remains as elusive as ever. The neurons are not the answer. Any explanation must also involve the glial cellss which read the neurons and fire off slightly later than the neurons. The glial cells don't seem to be the final answer either. There is more.

Dante said...

At any given point in time in an infinitely old universe of material causes, an infinite amount of time must have passed to reach that point. But this is impossible.

Well, this certainly isn't necessarily correct. To understand, how much time is there between one second and the next? Is it an infinite amount of time? 1/2 a second, 1/4 a second, 1/8th a second, and so on? By this reasoning, one couldn't go from one second to the next, yet we do.

Dante said...

There seem to be many references to genesis, etc., here. What I do not understand, is why those references should be any more important than any other information that one learns from another human. To my knowledge, everyone on this post is writing about knowledge they learned from someone. A Bible reprinted, a person saying, etc.

Has anyone writing learned anything about these truths except by another person? And if it is from a chain, how strong is the chain?

To me, it doesn't take another person's word to find a justification for God, or something extraordinary. I was recently listening to an Astrophysicist marveling about the Universal constants (gravity, electric forces, etc.) She pointed out that if these were to vary by as much as one grain of sand of all the beaches in all the world, life would simply not be possible.

Yet, here it is.

Or even, if one considers evolution, the chances of our existence is so infinitesimally small. Science tells us 3 - 4 billion years of life on this improbable planet. The chances are even less than the universal constants for YOUR existence!

Imagine, of each generation, that your forefathers existed. Your father, maybe 4 of billions of sperm and hundreds of eggs over a roughly 20 year time span. Over the 60,000 years since people split, that's 3000 generations, or 1 exp -9 ^ 1 exp -9 3000 times, or 1 exp -27000 times 6 billion, or 1 exp - 26990 chances you will exist. Or essentially none at all!

To me, that's enough to appreciate the wonders of being alive, without needing someone to tell me it's not likely. I can take it as "Well, that's so improbable God wanted me to be here," or I can take it as "That's the way things are."

No Bible required.

Illuninati said...

Dante said:

"To me, that's enough to appreciate the wonders of being alive, without needing someone to tell me it's not likely. I can take it as "Well, that's so improbable God wanted me to be here," or I can take it as "That's the way things are."

No Bible required."

Dante, why did you say God? The Sumarians believed in many gods. The idea of one God comes from the Bible. Most Westerners, even the most skeptical, are deeply indebted to the Bible often without realizing it.

"Has anyone writing learned anything about these truths except by another person? And if it is from a chain, how strong is the chain?"

Almost everything you said comes from another person. You only know about the universe through a "chain by another person." Did you discover modern cosmology all by yourself just by thinking about the statistics of existence?

When one thinks about it, exactly what do statistics tell us?

Dante said...

Did you discover modern cosmology all by yourself just by thinking about the statistics of existence?


Evolution, I learned, but have subsequently observed. Of course, that's through senses.

The unlikeliness of existence? I discovered that through my own thought. I don't know of anyone else who has put it quite that way, except "You are a result of a long string of survivors."

My view is that to be what we are, we walked through an incredibly improbable line, with each step micrometer away, and we wouldn't exist. Even a micrometer is too much!

Yes, my own thought.

Dante said...

When one thinks about it, exactly what do statistics tell us?

I've always had a problem with statistics, such as bell curves and Poisson gunkola and such. I prefer binary, so my discussion is based on a probabilistic evaluation, excludes duplicates, which are unlikely anyway, etc. But, the basic idea stands.

Illuninati said...

Dante said:

"Evolution, I learned, but have subsequently observed. Of course, that's through senses."

Evolution has been very difficult to demonstrate through experimentation. For example, after selectively breeding thousands of generations of fruit flies, they are still fruit flies. This fixity of species is why evolutions have begun to talk about punctuated evolution.

"I prefer binary, so my discussion is based on a probabilistic evaluation, excludes duplicates, which are unlikely anyway, etc. But, the basic idea stands"

Scientists use probabalistic evaluation to decide between two alternatives. What are your alternatives?

"My view is that to be what we are, we walked through an incredibly improbable line, with each step micrometer away, and we wouldn't exist. Even a micrometer is too much!"

I agree with your observation, that improbable things exist, but I don't follow where you are going with it. Some very bright atheists have become theists by that process, others remain unconvinced.

Rusty said...

traditionalguy said...
And where did the Neanderthals all go to?

There's a bar on Water Street in Superior. I'm pretty sure that's where they all hang out.

Rusty said...

Mnemosyne's Notebook said...
I want to ask the MIT guy why the universe can't just tell us what it wants us to know.

Why does it have to try to tell us something? Why can't it just speak plainly? Is there a theory for that?

It is. We are having difficulty learning the language.


Rusty said...

What caused the first singularity to explode, or expand rapidly? Did internal pressure overcome gravity?

ricpic said...

As long as "The God Particle" is everywhere we're alright.

bagoh20 said...

"I'm not disagreeing, nor am I religious, but you do choose that, just like everyone else, based on what you prefer, rather than any evidence."

"That's a dumb thing to say."

It's not something you need to feel defensive about. It's just true for us all. Consider your limitations. Refusing to is dumb.

betamax3000 said...

Naked Harry Reems Robot says:

I made all of this.

betamax3000 said...

Naked Harry Reems Robot says:

I was there before the Big Dumpster.

betamax3000 said...

Naked Harry Reems Robot says:

Materials that were of the Inside became materials of the Outside, traveling at great speed.

betamax3000 said...

Naked Harry Reems Robot says:

The Source of These Materials was ever so slightly lopsided.

LarsPorsena said...

".... Any given event either does or does not have a cause. A cause must, by definition, precede its effect. Thus if there are no "uncaused" events, the universe must be infinitely old and contain an infinite number of events..."

The universe's way of saying "I am that I am".

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Brew Master said...

Tongue planted firmly in cheek:

Revenant said...

"Red shift" and "it is moving away from us" are the same thing, Brew. :)


Not quite the same thing, the movement is used as a postulate to explain the red shift. This is a very geocentric perspective that everything is moving away from us, in other words, we are the at the center of everything... for some reason I think we've heard this in the past, somewhere, sometime....

Dark Matter and Dark Energy are akin to phlogiston, completely unfalsifiable by observation, but used in a sort of magical handwave to explain the gaping holes in the current theory. For dark matter, that being the fact that observable mass in galaxies is not enough to hold them together structurally. Therefore.... Phlogiston!

Dark energy is used to explain away the fact that the big bang theory breaks down on the rate of expansion of the universe. Something has to exist to make the rate of expansion variable, viola Dark Energy.

But hey, a variable speed of light is magical thinking, but Dark Matter and Dark Energy, solid facts!

Capsule summary: Dark Energy must exist because the universe is not expanding at an even rate, nor is there enough observable matter to hold things together by current known laws of gravity. Therefore 'a wizard did it'.

"There's matter out there causing that gravitational attraction, we just haven't found it yet" is comparatively easy to grasp.

Add as well to this that said matter does not have any electrical charge, nor does it absorb, emit, or reflect light in any way, in fact it doesn't interact with the universe at all, other than it somehow makes up the difference between our theory of gravity, and the observable universe.

A thought experiement, is there a functional difference between an expanding universe, and one where all matter is actually shrinking? In the second scenario, where the fundamental building blocks of all matter are shrinking in size would have the same observable effects that we see with an expanding universe.

Why is one theory more plausible than another?

Remove Tongue:

Any given event either does or does not have a cause. A cause must, by definition, precede its effect. Thus if there are no "uncaused" events, the universe must be infinitely old and contain an infinite number of events.

If the universe is infinitely old, by definition nothing precedes it and thus nothing can have caused it.


This is what my original point references. This is the hardest concept for a human to understand, that due to our human experience we attempt to create beginnings and endings for everything we experience. It is nearly impossible for ones mind to grasp that the universe does not necessarily play by those rules.
A parallel to this is that geocentrism is a continual recurring theme within human society, which is also difficult to overcome.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Time is God's way of making sure that everything doesn't happen all at once.

Lem said...

This is the most complicated baby formula ever.

LarsPorsena said...

"..Dark Matter and Dark Energy are akin to phlogiston, completely unfalsifiable by observation, but used in a sort of magical handwave to explain the gaping holes in the current theory. For dark matter, that being the fact that observable mass in galaxies is not enough to hold them together structurally. Therefore.... Phlogiston!

Dark energy is used to explain away the fact that the big bang theory breaks down on the rate of expansion of the universe. Something has to exist to make the rate of expansion variable, viola Dark Energy..."
______________________________

I've been thinking the same thing.
For all of its sophistication, cosmology has some real medieval contrivances in it.

AllenS said...

Before the universe and the big bang theory, there was God.

Nomennovum said...

Astronomers released the latest and most exquisite baby picture yet of the universe ...."

Lucky for us God decided not to abort this baby.

Rusty said...


Why is one theory more plausible than another?

Because one is measurable and therefore subject to proof.

traditionalguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CyndiF said...

"..Dark Matter and Dark Energy are akin to phlogiston, completely unfalsifiable by observation, but used in a sort of magical handwave to explain the gaping holes in the current theory. For dark matter, that being the fact that observable mass in galaxies is not enough to hold them together structurally. Therefore.... Phlogiston!

This is incorrect. Dark matter and dark energy may (in my opinion do) represent limitations in our current descriptions of gravity and spacetime, but they most definitely have observational consequences and are directly tested all the time. They are also highly falsifiable. There is a difference between "we don't understand this yet" and "we just made it up."

CyndiF said...

There is also a solid reason to fund this. Cosmological experiments are the ones that discovered that dark energy (whatever its form) must exist. This indicates a significant challenge to our current theories of gravity and the composition of the universe. To say that shouldn't be funded is like saying that you are fine with the Newton guys' stuff in your everyday life so why follow up on that Einstein fellow?

Brew Master said...

Dark matter and dark energy may (in my opinion do) represent limitations in our current descriptions of gravity and spacetime, but they most definitely have observational consequences and are directly tested all the time.

Dark Matter and Dark Energy are not measurable, nor testable. No experiments have ever been designed to prove their existance. What you describe as observational consequences are actually observational anomalies which are explained using DM and DE.

They are postulations used to explain the unknown, just as phlogiston, or epicycles, etc....

Maguro said...

This is incorrect. Dark matter and dark energy may (in my opinion do) represent limitations in our current descriptions of gravity and spacetime, but they most definitely have observational consequences and are directly tested all the time. They are also highly falsifiable. There is a difference between "we don't understand this yet" and "we just made it up."

Falsifiable? How so? Please explain. What empirical obsevervations would disprove dark matter/dark energy?

Sam L. said...

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CyndiF said...

Dark Matter and Dark Energy are not measurable, nor testable. No experiments have ever been designed to prove their existance. What you describe as observational consequences are actually observational anomalies which are explained using DM and DE.

They are postulations used to explain the unknown, just as phlogiston, or epicycles, etc....

Ah, ok. There are theories of the composition of dark matter that are tested (WIMPs, dark baryonic matter, etc.) and can be falsified, which is what I had in mind. I agree that the overall dark matter and (even more so) dark energy terms are placeholders for unexplained phenomena but there are people developing hypothesis of their origins that are being tested. If no one comes up with one that stands up to the observational data, our models of gravity and spacetime will have to change. This seems most obviously true for dark energy.

Brew Master said...

Scaler Tensor Vector Gravity

Dante said...

I agree with your observation, that improbable things exist, but I don't follow where you are going with it. Some very bright atheists have become theists by that process, others remain unconvinced.

Where I'm going is that you can use the observation of improbability, infinitesimally small probability, to say "There has to be a God (or Gods, or whatever)." Or you can say "It is, because otherwise it wouldn't be." You don't need to find justification in books other people wrote and printed to have that awesome understanding.