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InterPur
2001-Nov-25, 06:51 PM
I am one of those who do not subscribe to the BBT. I believe more in the NSST that William C. Mitchell wrote about in his book, "he Cult of the Big Bang - Was There a Bang?"

Yes, I think there is a "cult". Any others out there share this idea?

Silas
2001-Nov-25, 07:42 PM
Is the word "cult" necessary?

As an intelligent non-scientist, I admire the "Big Bang" theory because of its descriptive power. It explains things "the way they are."

I don't think that the Steady State theory is sufficient to describe the evolution of the elemental mix of the cosmos over time, for instance, and I don't see how it can explain the recession of distant galaxies...

But, hey, produce a competing hypothesis and let's get to work. The worst that can happen is that I might learn something!

Silas

Tim Thompson
2001-Nov-25, 10:55 PM
A suggestion for further reading: Standard Cosmology and Alternatives: A Critical Appraisal, J.V. Narlikar & T. Padmanabhan, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics (http://astro.annualreviews.org/) 39: 211-248, 2001. Narlikar is well known as the late Fred Hoyle's student. Narlikar, along with Wickramasinghe, champions the quasi steady state cosmology (QSSC), no doubt much the same as the "NSSC". While it is no surprise that Narlikar points to the QSSC as the leading contender against Big Bang Cosmology (BBC), it should also be no surprise that Narlikar recognizes that BBC is the leading cosmological model for good reasons. His review of both cosmologies side-by-side is much worth reading.

I think it is both unfair, and incorrect, to use the word "cult" in relation to BBC. Scientists do not "believe in" BBC out of some need to maintain appearances or "political correctness". Rather, the majority of scientists accept BBC as a viable physical model for the evolution of the universe because of an old proverb: "You can't argue with success".

Well, of course we know that you can argue with success, and many do. BBC is not without its critics, but it remains nonetheless a theory of much explanatory utility & prowess. And even as Narlikar pojnts out, there are experiments coming to the fore, and in the near future, which will either strengthen or weakn BBC. He points out resulta which, if evident, will certainly push BBC ahead of QSSC even further.

As for me, I am content to follow where experience leads. BBC is not a matter of cults, it's a matter of good science.

David Hall
2001-Nov-26, 06:48 AM
Personally, I've always found the Big Bang theory(ies) to be a little weak in the intuitiveness department. Something has always bugged me about it. It's certainly not perfect and it doesn't cover all the bases yet. I really have a soft spot for the Plasma Cosmology theory as presented by Eric Lerner in "The Big Bang Never Happened". Some of the stuff in it was a little weak, and some of it has been outdated or disproved, but I think there's a lot of stuff in there that has been ignored or overlooked by the establishment up till now.

But why am I telling you all this? I don't know. Because in truth, it doesn't matter one way or the other what I feel or think about it. As long as the scientific method is being used, theories will survive and fall based on their own merits. Eventually one or the other will come forth as the best explanation for what's observed. Right now, the BB is the frontrunner in this regard, and is accepted as such by the majority. If in the future new information comes along to discredit it, it will be dropped for whatever explains things better. In the long run it's simply survival of the fittest.

I just don't worry about it, mostly because it just isn't important enough to go on a crusade about. There is no critical need to know 100% right now. We can take our time to test ideas and see what works and what doesn't. The truth will come out eventually. Until then, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

If there is any "cult" of the big bang, it's a very weak one. Personally, I think there is a small cult-like effect. The majority have attached themselves to this theory and therefore have a heavy motivation to support it, for professional and emotional reasons, among others. So it's been focused on in a less-than-dispassionate way. But then the other theories are also being treated by their advocates in the same way. The effect isn't entirely one-sided. It's just amazing to me how divisive this debate is. But I don't think you can call them true "cults". I think if and when enough evidence comes out to support or undermine any of these theories, the vast majority will accept the results with very little regret or feeling. Very few people are married to their ideas to the point of irrationality.

In the end it all comes down to the evidence. Until the evidence is strong enough to provide an air-tight case, there will be division and alternate theories. It's worth debating, but it's not worth getting worked up about. The best way to handle it is to adopt a wait-and-see attitude and, well, just wait and see. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

NottyImp
2001-Nov-26, 09:06 AM
"Very few people are married to their ideas to the point of irrationality."

Except the several billion or so who believe in a Supreme Being despite no evidence to back that belief up, of course.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: NottyImp on 2001-11-26 04:07 ]</font>

David Hall
2001-Nov-26, 12:55 PM
On 2001-11-26 04:06, NottyImp wrote:

Except the several billion or so who believe in a Supreme Being despite no evidence to back that belief up, of course.


Well, I was talking in terms of the physicists and cosmologists directly involved in this debate, but otherwise, I concede your point. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Iain Lambert
2001-Nov-26, 02:38 PM
Now you mention them, I've never figured out why there seem to be so many of those believers in a Supreme Being behind the steady-state idea. Surely you need a Creation to have a Creator? Or is this just yet another part of the ineffable, I wonder?

err, reading that back it sounds a bit like an attack on someone; while I'm on the vaguely-agnostic side and think the best evidence points to a bang you're quite welcome to argue against this.

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-26, 05:10 PM
On 2001-11-25 13:51, InterPur wrote:
I am one of those who do not subscribe to the BBT. I believe more in the NSST that William C. Mitchell wrote about in his book, "he Cult of the Big Bang - Was There a Bang?"

Yes, I think there is a "cult". Any others out there share this idea?

Yeah, they're as bad as the NSST cultists.

Silas
2001-Nov-26, 09:32 PM
Um...rather than dragging ourselves down into the hopeless arena of theology...

Can anyone cite an URL for the NSSC, and can anyone tell me if it is the same as, or different from, the QSSC?

e.g. For how long as the SSC been steady? Did it have a beginning 15 billion years ago... 35 billion... 90 billion... etc.? Or is it so precisely balanced and "steady" that it can't be said to have a beginning at all?

The sub-point for this question is -- if the SSC began 15 billion years ago -- about the same as the BBC (no Monty Python japes, thank you) -- then they will have a lot in common. On the other hand, the notion that the SSC might have begun 1000 billion years ago is, I think, falsified by the evidence...

Silas

Kaptain K
2001-Nov-27, 10:23 AM
The basic premise of *any* steady-state theory is that the universe had no beginning and will have no end. It has existed and will continue to exist FOREVER.

_________________
TANSTAAFL!

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kaptain K on 2001-11-27 05:23 ]</font>

Valiant Dancer
2001-Nov-27, 02:00 PM
On 2001-11-26 04:06, NottyImp wrote:
"Very few people are married to their ideas to the point of irrationality."

Except the several billion or so who believe in a Supreme Being despite no evidence to back that belief up, of course.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: NottyImp on 2001-11-26 04:07 ]</font>


You're confusing science with philosiphy, again.

Silas
2001-Nov-27, 03:10 PM
On 2001-11-27 05:23, Kaptain K wrote:
The basic premise of *any* steady-state theory is that the universe had no beginning and will have no end. It has existed and will continue to exist FOREVER.


Well, that's kinda what I'm wondering: the notion that the universe, as we see it, is time-invariant is falsified... But could a modified SSC exist where the cosmos began, mere without a Big Bang?

Could the cosmos have "coalesced gently" out of nothing, 15 billion years ago, and quietly and gradually have begun outward acceleration?

(I don't see any reason to prefer this notion...but it would, in general, fit the observed facts...)

Silas

David Simmons
2001-Nov-27, 05:24 PM
On 2001-11-27 10:10, Silas wrote:

Could the cosmos have "coalesced gently" out of nothing, 15 billion years ago, and quietly and gradually have begun outward acceleration?

(I don't see any reason to prefer this notion...but it would, in general, fit the observed facts...)

Silas



Isn't a strength of the big bang theory the fact that it accounts for the formation of the table of elements with few arbitrary initial conditions? The theory also predicts the observed microwave background radiation.

Could the "gently coalesced" idea do the same?


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Simmons on 2001-11-27 12:34 ]</font>

Wiley
2001-Nov-27, 07:14 PM
I have a quick question for y'all.

Is there any evidence, any what so ever, that contradicts the statement: "the universe evolved from a hotter, denser state."

Not necessarily BBC, but the more general idea.

lpetrich
2001-Nov-27, 08:26 PM
It is interesting that skeptics like Narlikar, Burbidge, and Hoyle have added some Big-Bang-like elements as the years have gone by; this IMO shows how strong the case for the Big Bang is.

Also, there is the interesting question of how far one can look back in time with the help of various nontrivial cosmological features, such as element/isotope abundances.

At earlier epochs and higher compression/temperatures, grand-unified-theory physics ought to come into play, producing such side effects as the matter/antimatter imbalance and topological defects like magnetic monopoles and cosmic strings as GUT effects were frozen out with continued expansion.

However, this freezeout is generally expected to make many more monopoles than are actually observed, and the matter/antimatter imbalance (about 10^-9) is far from a definitive test of GUT possibilities. Cosmic strings will focus matter behind them as they move, and cosmic-string loops will attract matter, but it is still uncertain whether the known density and microwave-background fluctuations either indicate the presence of cosmic strings or else rule them out.

These fluctuations may also be produced as a result of an "inflationary" era, when the Universe expanded exponentially and when quantum fluctuations would creep in. Earlier ones would be inflated away and later ones would be too small. The microwave and matter fluctuations can provide an estimate of what the inflationary-phase Hubble coefficient had been.

Beyond that, in the quantum-gravity epoch, the only real clues are in overall physics: the standard model and whatever GUT's one can reasonably infer.

Ravenous
2001-Nov-27, 11:14 PM
Exactly how would a universe have no beginning? The only tangible thing without a "beginning" should be space itself (in my opinion).

Isn't it mind-boggling to think that space is infinite?

Silas
2001-Nov-28, 03:24 AM
On 2001-11-27 18:14, Ravenous wrote:
Exactly how would a universe have no beginning? The only tangible thing without a "beginning" should be space itself (in my opinion).

Isn't it mind-boggling to think that space is infinite?


Cosmology is mind-boggling... Can't escape it...

I can, actually, cope with the notion that the cosmos "never began." That is because it is indistinguishable from the notion that the universe "began" a very long time ago...

("Very" having as large a value as needed...)

Silas

NottyImp
2001-Nov-28, 10:37 AM
"You're confusing science with philosiphy, again."

Well, no I'm not. There are millions of people in the US alone who actively pro-pound a Creationist cosmology that directly attacks scientific method and materialism. Taken as a whole, the earth probably has more people that don't believe in the Big Bang (or any other materialist cosmology) than do.

Frankly, I think it's very important to address that issue as well. Merely stating that "You're talking about philosophy, but I'm a scientist", is hardly an adequate response.

Spaceman Spiff
2001-Nov-28, 02:00 PM
Here is a site that takes the SSC and
QSSC to task:
http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/stdystat.htm

Valiant Dancer
2001-Nov-28, 02:50 PM
On 2001-11-28 05:37, NottyImp wrote:
"You're confusing science with philosiphy, again."

Well, no I'm not. There are millions of people in the US alone who actively pro-pound a Creationist cosmology that directly attacks scientific method and materialism. Taken as a whole, the earth probably has more people that don't believe in the Big Bang (or any other materialist cosmology) than do.

Frankly, I think it's very important to address that issue as well. Merely stating that "You're talking about philosophy, but I'm a scientist", is hardly an adequate response.




The statement you made was concerning the existance of a supreme being, not a cosmological theory. The existance of a supreme being is a philosiphy. Most people who believe in this supreme being are not Bible literalists nor Creationists. Scientists can be religious and skeptical. You have to judge the scientist based on his application of the scientific method. A scientist could believe that there is an invisible pink unicorn living in his garage, but if his research into cosmology is based on proper application of the scientific method, that theory is good. You can get about 5% of any population to believe anything. That would mean the noisy minority of 1.5 million people (fundamentalists) will push any given theory. Creationists just happen to be good at it.

NottyImp
2001-Nov-29, 09:34 AM
My original point was to hi-light the capability of our species to "stick to their beliefs to the point of irrationality". I happened to choose the example of a Supreme Being, but it could have been many other beliefs.

The fact that you chose the example of scientists who believe in a Supreme Being just makes the point even clearer. You say that they can still be sceptical, but clearly that scepticism (and more importantly their application of the scientific method) doesn't extend to their own faith. How irrational is that?

SAMU
2001-Nov-29, 12:19 PM
Just FYI. I did a search for Hubble Space Telescope pictures a few weeks ago. I fergit where they are though. Some beautifull picts there. I recommend The Eagle Nebula. Amoung them is a nice mosaic of picts clearly showing the "superstring" structure of a portion of the universe and you can get an impression of the "foamy" superstructure also.

SAMU

Valiant Dancer
2001-Nov-29, 02:12 PM
On 2001-11-29 04:34, NottyImp wrote:
My original point was to hi-light the capability of our species to "stick to their beliefs to the point of irrationality". I happened to choose the example of a Supreme Being, but it could have been many other beliefs.

The fact that you chose the example of scientists who believe in a Supreme Being just makes the point even clearer. You say that they can still be sceptical, but clearly that scepticism (and more importantly their application of the scientific method) doesn't extend to their own faith. How irrational is that?



Science may not be explained by philosiphy and vice versa. A scientist may say that he believes in the existance of a supreme being. Since it is a philosiphy, it only have to conform to the stricture of LOGIC. Lack of evidence does not indicate a lack of existance. Conversely the opposite arguement is just as logical. When dealing with OBSERVED phenomenon, the scientific method must be adhered to. Although you can prove that religious extremists are irrational, you cannot put forth that all religions constitute irrational thought. (Undistributed middle) The scientific method cannot be used to test a philosiphy. Only logic. The application of logic is hardly irrational.

Here's a question. Why does scepticism have to relate only to Atheism?

DJ
2001-Nov-29, 04:32 PM
On 2001-11-26 04:06, NottyImp wrote:
"Very few people are married to their ideas to the point of irrationality."

Except the several billion or so who believe in a Supreme Being despite no evidence to back that belief up, of course.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: NottyImp on 2001-11-26 04:07 ]</font>


I see you've taken a lot of flack for that comment, and it was well deserved.

The evidence is you, me, and everything we see. Whilst observations can relay how hydrogen turned to helium and then on to heavier elements, all of these events, including the original hydrogen seem carefully choreographed. In order for a set of rules to exist, some <thing> must have created those rules. The concept of a rule is in itself quite complex. Hell, I think a hydrogen atom is pretty darn complex too. But science makes it sound rudimentary. Yet science could never create a hydrogen atom. (It can make other existing things react to emit hyrdrogen, of course).

Nothing in science proves that everything came from an original bang. While that does not constrain what everything may be, it certainly speaks to some fundamentals which must be explained.

It is not simply a matter of describing what we are seeing and then using probability to predict what may happen. It's about understanding why.

Science doesn't even touch the "why," and that is the reason most people feel the way they do about science: it changes to fit what we humans discover as we discover it, it's a cottage industry of specialists who often cannot be challenged except by each other, and thus is impermanent, potentially corrupted, and defective at the core.

Lusion
2001-Nov-29, 05:46 PM
On 2001-11-29 04:34, NottyImp wrote:
The fact that you chose the example of scientists who believe in a Supreme Being just makes the point even clearer. You say that they can still be sceptical, but clearly that scepticism (and more importantly their application of the scientific method) doesn't extend to their own faith. How irrational is that?

The scientific method is a filtering process, not an epistemology. In fact, the scientific method really doesn't even come up with any theories.

Futhermore, scepticism universally applied isn't rational--it's solipsism. When to and when not to apply scepticism is indeed a philosophical issue.

Thus, neither scepticism nor the scientific method can be equated to rationalism, or specific beliefs for that matter. (Is it irrational for me to believe that the universe is real? Can I prove it using the scientific method?) If you can't gather evidence about something (eg, is that guy sentient like me?), then the scientific method doesn't apply, and other methods should be used (or, if you prefer, no methods and you can just ignore such things). But that doesn't make the belief irrational.

And no, thanks, I'd rather not debate theology on the forum (I'd be happy to in private message--btw, I am an atheist too). My only point is that bringing up specific beliefs (especially in general, with desregard as to why someone believes it) is a very bad example of irrationality.

Ducost
2001-Nov-30, 03:59 AM
On 2001-11-29 04:34, NottyImp wrote:
My original point was to hi-light the capability of our species to "stick to their beliefs to the point of irrationality". I happened to choose the example of a Supreme Being, but it could have been many other beliefs.

The fact that you chose the example of scientists who believe in a Supreme Being just makes the point even clearer. You say that they can still be sceptical, but clearly that scepticism (and more importantly their application of the scientific method) doesn't extend to their own faith. How irrational is that?



No matter how educated you are, everyone sticks to some belief to the point of irrationality.
For example a few years back, I went saw a creationist talk. I, myself, am an evolutionist, but I thought I should at least listen. Some of what the guy said made a lot of sense, and I didn't have access to the internet back then(at least not as much as I do now) so for all intents and purposes the "facts" in my mind wold have pointed to a creationist pespective, but I clung, and still cling to my evolutionist perspective, although now I'm much better equiped.
We must always accept a few things on faith, even if that faith isn't in a supream bieng.

NottyImp
2001-Nov-30, 02:28 PM
"When dealing with OBSERVED phenomenon, the scientific method must be adhered to."

So God is not an observed phenomena? Or are you saying that the scientific method cannot be applied to questions raised by philosophy? And here was I thinking it was applicable to all manifestations of the material world... except philosophy, of course.

Valiant Dancer
2001-Nov-30, 02:52 PM
On 2001-11-30 09:28, NottyImp wrote:
"When dealing with OBSERVED phenomenon, the scientific method must be adhered to."

So God is not an observed phenomena? Or are you saying that the scientific method cannot be applied to questions raised by philosophy? And here was I thinking it was applicable to all manifestations of the material world... except philosophy, of course.



bingo!!!! God is NOT an observed phenomenon. And in matters not concerning observed phenomenon, the scientific method is inappropriate. In these cases, logic has to be used. The existance and non-exisance of a supreme being are equally valid logical arguements. When people make statements about the real world observed phenomenon based on philosiphy, then the scientific method applies to the observed phenomenon. (In this way, Creationism is invalid as the hypothesis does not follow the scientific method.) A god belief does not relate to the material world. (No matter how much fundamentalists claim it does.) It relates to a philosiphy.

David Simmons
2001-Nov-30, 03:05 PM
On 2001-11-30 09:52, Valiant Dancer wrote:

in matters not[emphasis added] concerning observed phenomenon, the scientific method is inappropriate. In these cases, logic has to be used



And logic isn't much use either. All that correct logic guarantees is that the conclusion follows from the premises. But the premises need be neither logical nor necessarily reasonable.

Valiant Dancer
2001-Nov-30, 04:35 PM
On 2001-11-30 10:05, David Simmons wrote:


On 2001-11-30 09:52, Valiant Dancer wrote:

in matters not[emphasis added] concerning observed phenomenon, the scientific method is inappropriate. In these cases, logic has to be used



And logic isn't much use either. All that correct logic guarantees is that the conclusion follows from the premises. But the premises need be neither logical nor necessarily reasonable.


Reasonableness is a subjective area. It allows the acceptance or rejection of premises of a philisophical nature based on personal feeling. Premises based on observed phenomenon require the application of the scientific method. I do not accept as reasonable or correct the premise put forth that religion is irrational. The implication that could be drawn from it is that all theist scientist's works are suspect because they have a perpensity to think irrationally. Therefore, the only true and pure scientific thought is by Atheists alone.

NubiWan
2001-Nov-30, 11:16 PM
Welp, just can no longer resist, just have to put me two cents in, welcomed or not. Have the need for some abuse, guess so. This is an interesting thread BTW. Does anyone else find it interesting and amusing, how threads evolve and morf accross topics?

Me don't believe in the BBT, but do accept it as the best scientific model available, thus far. As said earlier, it best explains how our observable universe came to the state, we now see it. Am also convinced the universe has been proven to be 'open,' so the Steady State, as well as the Big Crunch, models are just no longer valid. There are some major problems with the BBT, however, monoploes being one. And more interestingly IMO, who or what, turned the BB on in the first place? For the BBT to work, it requires a singularity, a humongous one, to have contained all the matter-engery of the present universe, and this is after the null-out of particle/anti-particle formations, about 90%+(?) of its initial content. Granted, we've been observing for relatively insignificant peroid of time, but for all the Black Holes and SMBH's we've discovered, there is only this one, that appears to have 'burst open,' creating this universe we find ourselves within. Stevie Hawknings suggests BH's can evaporate, but have heard not a hint of how, they might 'explode.' Anyone?

Putting me money on something called the Ekpyrotic Universe model, but it is a gamble. (Silas, you might find this of interest.) Within it, no monopoles are formed, because the extreme heat isn't produced as with the BBT, and no singularity is required. It relies on superstring theory, as yet unproven. Within months, though, experiments at some of the particle accelerators, may begin to produce 'micro-black-holes.' If so, then superstring is valid, and by analyzing the radiation produced as they 'blink' out, we can begin to draw some conclusions about these extra dimensions.

IMHO it is only natural, that theology comes up in most conversations dealing with cosmology. Didn't our first cosmological models come from religion? Would go so far as to suggest, that only within the span of me own short sweet life, cosmology has departed from theology to become a stand alone science. Being something of an ambiguous agnostic, think the suggestion, that one, who believes in the existence of a "god," can't be a scientist, is absurd, just based on the history of science itself. Science confines itself to physical reality, of how's not why's. Science can determine correctness or incorrectness of methods, but has nothing to deal with questions of right and wrong. Science is a sub-set within the body of knowledge. When me stares out into the cosmos, am filled with a sense of wonder, awe, yes, even reverence. If you don't, can't say you are wrong, but you live in a universe, that is smaller than mine. Butt have a good week-end, no matter what...

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: NubiWan on 2001-11-30 18:25 ]</font>

NottyImp
2001-Dec-02, 10:20 AM
Now, before I go any further, let me say that my original comment about a Supreme Being etc. was really just a throwaway. That'll teach me, won't it?

I am not a philosopher, and know very little about it. I might just qualify as a layman scientist given my training. I am, however, an atheist and a materialist. Given that, I find the statement "God is not an observable phenomena" completely meaningless.

As I see it, the idea of God is no different from any other idea that is a product of the human (material) intellect. It has no more primacy than, say, the idea of atomic theory, and should be subject to the same constraints of truth or falsehood as that idea. So I'm afraid no "Bingo!" for me Valiant Dancer!

If philosophy deals with the ineffable, or non-material, then it's not going to get much shrift from me, is it?