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Bluewolf027
2004-Jan-29, 05:19 PM
Over the past couple weeks out of curiosity I have been studying some of the current theories of the universe.

Not that I claim to be a cosmologist but here is what I think. We do not yet have the technology or the knowledge to truly discover how the universe formed, if it will end, how big it is how old it is, etc.

Since we have never been outside of our own solar system and still have much to learn about our own sun and planets, I think cosmology itself is a waste of time With all of the current theories about the origin and the state of the universe, many of them conflicting, my feeling would be that given time most of these theories will be proven wrong.

I think astronomy is a better science, learning through observation, instead of sitting billions of light years away from an object an theorizing about what it is that is going on with the object.

Just as theories like the earth was the centre of the universe were proven wrong I beleive that most if not all of the current theories will be dismissed over the coming decades and centuries, and that we will not truly begin to understand the universe until we are able to travel to the other stars and galaxies to observe and study first hand what is going on.

Tiny
2004-Jan-29, 06:00 PM
Everything has a weakness, not even a theory :lol: ... so for me I rather spend sometime study the solar system, but not the entire Universe... because a tiny system has a lot of secret still undicover, this is what I think, Science is basically depend on guess and fate, therfore, theory is the same which is depend on prove or realty....

Hope I don't write something off topic...
Cheers

VanderL
2004-Jan-29, 08:27 PM
Bluewolf,
I think you are probably right, but I guess cosmologists don't want to hear their work being called a waste of time.
About astronomy being a better science, it is the old "observational science" versus "theoretical science" discussion. I think both are valid, but I'd always put my money on observational science if there are conflicting views.
There is a strong need for people to connect the dots, and right now I share the feeling that there is a misplaced confidence about how the Universe works. Some people are even telling us that we have reached the end of science and there is only very little left to discover. I hope those people are wrong and I hope there is still a lot to learn about the Universe.
Cheers

LunarBase
2004-Jan-29, 08:54 PM
Cosmology is directly linked to the theory of everything (TOE) which itself is linked into the know forces, gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak. The more we know about these forces, then the more we know about the universe in which we live. This knowledge helps us in space travel, orbital mechanics, photon propagation and such. Sadly there is probably much more effort being spent on learning to beat casinos than in learning to live in the universe. I am impressed by what the cosmologists have accomplished and I hope they continue their hard work.

Bluewolf027
2004-Jan-29, 09:53 PM
Lunarbase

The the many branches of the theory of everything and the string theory contradict each other. The String theory itself is based on ideas that can not yet be proven and was formulated to support other theories which we still do not know enough about...

My point is not really that cosmology is bad science, no science is bad science, just that we are not yet advanced enough to understand the universe. If we do not yet truly understand the forces at work and the elements in our own solar system how can we honestly expect to know what is going on with the entire galaxy or the entire universe. Some scientists say the Universe is expanding and will continue to expand, others say that it is finite, some explain the redshift seen in the stars that are farthest from us by saying they are moving away from us at a very fast rate, others say that it is gravity that explains the redshift.

In my opinion instead of making broad theories that we have no chance of proving or disproving we are better to observe what we can about the universe and learn what we can about the forces at work and apply those forces in ways that we may learn to travel to the stars and then truly learn what is happening in the universe.

Of course that is just my opinion. I am sure there are many who will disagree

GOURDHEAD
2004-Jan-29, 10:08 PM
My guess is that the religions of the world were formulated and have been evolved by and through the efforts of proto-cosmologists. They were pursuing explanations of what and where they were and how to control those things that enhanced their survival. The cosmologists are continuing this effort to the benefit of us all. They stand on the shoulders of many more giants and now have much better equipment which is continually evolving along with better and better theories aided and abetted by the knowledge feedback loop. The more we know about the cosmos and the many ways by which it can terminate us, the more apt we are to survive. Only those who deserve (mostly by the luck of the draw) to survive, will.

Evil = chaos; virtue = order!!

TheAstronomer
2004-Jan-29, 10:26 PM
Greetings!

Although my given choice is observational astronomy, I can never forget in the deepest sense that every distant galaxy, quasar, or star cluster I view has happened in the past. If I witness a supernova, I am seeing the supernova as it occured whatever amount of light years it took for me to optically identify it. Thereby I have faith in comoslogy... The supernova is abiding by the laws of the Universe and I know and understand that I am witnessing a past event.

Astronomy, cosmology, physics, mathmatics... All of these walk hand in hand. How much more beautiful the visible Universe seemed to me in that one shining moment when I grasped the concept of String Theory! My galaxy sings in B-flat... And before my eyes is a symphony. Tell my why polarized light behaves in a particular way? And I will show its' proof in the night sky. Explain to me quantum entanglement, and I will watch Jupiter rotate... Knowing that as one side of the "ball" turns east? The other turns west simulanteously.

I am not a person of brains... But one of branes.

Is cosmology as waste of time? (hmmm... that's a "relative" question, isn't it? ;)) I can't image the night skies I so love to look at without the thoughts of Planck, Einstein, Heisenberg and even (gasp!) Hawking. What I learn through comosmology teachings and theories, be it right or wrong...

Makes them stars seem ten times more beautiful.

Rock on,

~T

Tiny
2004-Jan-29, 10:55 PM
Most of the teenagers(including me), they don't understand the feeling, but later after they turn 30 - 50, they will eventually understand, and probably can tell you the answer for that question : Is cosmology as waste of time? :lol:

Hope I don't write something off topic
Cheers

starrman
2004-Jan-30, 12:15 AM
Lest we forget, Ptolemy, Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, Mach, Einstein, et al - Cosmologists, every one. Our current understanding of the nature and behavior of the world, from the very small to the unimaginably large, is reliant on the work of cosmologists. Any valid theory, cosmological or other, must be disprovable, and our leaps in knowlege have been the result of one theory (or set of theories) superceding their predecessors. Certainly the current, occasionally competing theories, will in their turn be replaced by others that agree with observation more completely. And observational astronomy must always remember the debt of understanding owed to cosmology and to theory. Urbain LeVerrier and J. C. Adams were both theorists whose work led directly to the discovery of Neptune. We humans, by our nature, are given to inventing stories to account for the experiences we encounter in the world. Now our tools allow us to experience the world in ways vastly more sophisticated than those of even our close ancestors, and our stories have become more complex and detailed. But now and always, in the words of the late J. B. S. Haldane, the world, both large and small, will remain "not only queerer than we imagine, but queerer than we CAN imagine."

Clear skies,

Starrman

Faulkner
2004-Jan-30, 12:26 AM
it is the old "observational science" versus "theoretical science" discussion. I think both are valid, but I'd always put my money on observational science if there are conflicting views.


Sure, but I don't think any theory would last very long at all if it conflicted with observation!?

I don't see how the current cosmological model conflicts in any way with astronomical observation. The cosmology might not be complete...there are still shadow areas we need to clear up...but I think generally it's a very good interpretation of astronomical data. Not only that, but new data coming in seems to reaffirm the theory (not contradict it).

Also let's not forget that the THEORY quite often makes predictions (eg black holes, gravity lensing, etc) that are later confirmed by OBSERVATION!!

I'm optimistic we're on the right path. I don't think it's all one big convoluted daisy-chain of hot air!? (Then again, maybe it is...!?)

TheAstronomer
2004-Jan-30, 01:46 AM
Hey!

This gets more interesting by the hour, doesn't it? Too cool...

Astronomers are cosmologists, just as all great cosomological theorists were visual astronomers. I think it's a basic human need to explain what we see in a relative and meaningful way. Those initial and insightful thoughts later go on to be proved by the laws of physics... And those that cannot be proved by physics end up being supported by mathmatics. Humankind continues to reach for this. We need to know that things are a constant.

(hang in there, Tiny... Age is irrelevant. ;))

Without these theories, mankind would have never journeyed into space. If you ever have the opportunity to see an old Gemini capsule? You'd understand. These brave men flew into space on a theory... In a soda can! Take one look at an old Apollo capsule, and you will marvel that tiny bit went to the Moon on a theory! Pick up a piece of heat shielding that covers the bottom of the Shuttle, and think it was a cosmoligical theory that made it work. See a bit of solar sail?

And you look into tomorrow.

How far do we reach? Thanks to cosomology we believe... We belive we can fly to Mars, just as we believe Mars is made up same stuff as Earth. We believe we can touch a comet... And we have. These cosomolgical theories are the basis of all we hold to be true - And then we prove it to ourselves.

From the atmospheres on the planets in our own solar system... To the of study red/blue shift in distant galaxies through the eyes of Hubble. It's all there! Just like the cosmologist believed it to be... Quarks, neutrinos, dark matter, gravitational constants... Black holes!


Cosmology cannot be a waste of time -- Because maybe one day they'll figure out just how many licks it really DOES take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootise Pop. (and then we'll by gosh figure out a way to get there and prove it. ;)

Of course, this is just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Grinnin' in OH,

~T

Bluewolf027
2004-Jan-30, 02:32 AM
I agree with you guys in a way Faulkner, Starman, and TheAstronomer. You need theories as they are a part of science as is the proving or disproving of the theory. But the theories that you guys are bringing up are all observable and have been formed, proved or disproved by observation. The theories that I disagree with and the ones that many of the cosmologist's around the web whose papers I was reading were focused on theories that are not formed by observation, and not observable. Take for example the the theory that the universe is expanding we can not possibly prove or disprove this theory in our lifetimes as it would take millions of years of observation to do so. This theory was actually formed from the observation of redshift in distant stars. I can also name two other theories that were formed by the same observation. Then you take theorys like the string theory, the supersting theory, the m-theory. We do not have the technology to come even close to proving or disproving these theories nor were any of them formed from anything that is observable. I am not saying that people shouldnt theorize, its just my opinion that since we are just beginning to learn about our own solar system, that making broad generaliztions about that which cannot be studied is a waste of time, it will be decades or centuries before we gain a true understanding of the universe as a whole.

rahuldandekar
2004-Jan-30, 08:38 AM
Hi everybody,

I think that theory and observation are complementary to each other.
We observe the universe to check our theories. If we had not theories, our observations would be nothing but a database, and we wouldn't know what's next.
About the 'theories being disproved ' thing, I can say that the new theories based on earlier disproved theories are new steps on the path to knowledge. Theories tested, proved/disproved, new theories based on the more accuratre observational data,... this is a cycle, which we ride on this path.

Cosmology is not a waste of time, but if you think that astronomy and knowledge themselves are unnessecary , then you might not agree. Theories are neeeded, very, very much.

Sp1ke
2004-Jan-30, 09:10 AM
Just because some of the theories can't be disproved at the moment, it doesn't mean that they can't be tested by observational means in the future. For the question of whether the universe is closed, flat or open - it *might* be possible to measure this more accurately (so that everyone agrees rather than disagrees) and the important thing is to try. Science progresses in surprising directions and it's difficult to decide ahead of time what the most useful direction is.

The important thing, I think, is balance. Observational science is crucial but you also need the big ideas and wild theories to make the giant leaps of understanding. I think cosmology is interesting at the moment because there are so many unanswered questions so it's important that we keep thinking about them, to give us ideas about how we can use observations to support or disprove them.

moonglow
2004-Jan-31, 07:11 AM
(Wish this forum had a spellcheck) :D To be honest, we believe the only reason the observationalist extend theories is to get their name in print, the old publish or perish concept. The observationalists and cosmologists have chosen their means of producing income, the more they write the more they make. To earn their income their offerings have to be spectacular, or at least greater than the other guy's. Thus, ignoring the laws they know exist, they develope theories that they know themselves can't be proven. The known laws are very boring, having to apply them is even more boring, and not worth one penny in income. Science would be very poor without theories! Proof? Look at the botched attempts at proving human evolution, the false skulls, the phoney linage and embrio charts, all done to obtain or retain a grant to a "great" scientist or institution. The fact is, they publish, or they perish!

Bluewolf027
2004-Jan-31, 04:43 PM
JoAnn & Bob

I would have to disagree with your last statement. My opinion would be that 98 percent of people are honest. I think it would be wrong to attribute the dishonesty of the other 2% to the scientific community as a whole. Im sure you could provide 100 examples of falsified claims, or fake evidence. But I think that is the exception not the rule. It is my faith in people in general would lead me to disagree with your statements. What you are saying could be attributed to almost any part of society - take police officers for example - their are stories of prejudice, drug dealing, etc within their ranks but once again I would say that this is the exception not the rule, and I wouldnt make broad claims to say that the police community are all prejudice and they all deal drugs to further their own incomes as i know most of them to be honest caring people.

Faulkner
2004-Jan-31, 05:23 PM
we believe the only reason the observationalist extend theories is to get their name in print, the old publish or perish concept.

For sure, I think the "publish or perish" pressure exists...but that doesn't excuse any ol' crackpot theory appearing in some journal. The peer-group thing that exists is very conservative & stringent, very rigid editorialship. I think you need theoretical models to make human sense out of the plethora of observational data. And if one tiny piece of data is proved to be contradictory to that theoretical model, the model collapses. It is definitely not frantically kept together with chewing gum. For example, the orbit of Mercury contradicted Newtonian mechanics, so a new theory (relativity) had to be devised (or, rather, the old theory had to be extended) - and relativity seems to work & be irrefutable & a be a REAL portrayal of things. But even relativity has a thorn in its side - quantum mechanics. They both need to be reconciled. Doesn't necessarily mean they're both false representations of reality...just not complete.

In summary, I believe science moves forward. I think in this aspect we are lucky to be alive at this time in history. (In most other aspects, we are extremely unfortunate! :( )


I wouldnt make broad claims to say that the police community are all prejudice and they all deal drugs to further their own incomes as i know most of them to be honest caring people.

Well I just watched "Serpico" on TV and I'm convinced that corruption infests the corridors of power right to the very top of the pyramid! ^_^

TheAstronomer
2004-Jan-31, 07:55 PM
Wow.. The three of you have made some very, very valid points since I've looked at this last.

Bluewolf? You're right, dude. We don't have the ways or means to prove or disprove "string" theory. It's just a tidy way of making sense. If you view each each atom of every element and each law of physics as a "string", you make those of us that are musicians as well see things in a new light. Each string plays a note, each chemical compostion a chord... Affected by gravity? Harmonics... Who knows? Maybe if we could "see" in the same terms that we "hear", perhaps a distant galaxy is a symphony? Can we prove it? Nope. Can we dig it?

Heck, yeah.

JoAnn and Bob? Oh, you are so right. As much as I admire the theories of cosmologists, I feel a lot of times they do things in ways to validate themselves. Chances are pretty good that Stephen Hawking isn't visiting this forum, so I will admit that I've read all his works. Some things I find quite thrilling! And others? Dude... You borrowed someone else's ideas, added your own to it, and the came up with a mathmatical equation that no one short of an idiot savant can understand.

But just because I don't understand them doesn't means they aren't solid.

And you other guys are right. We would be no where without the visions of free thinking!

~T

VanderL
2004-Feb-05, 07:46 PM
But just because I don't understand them doesn't means they aren't solid.

Then again, it could mean exactly that. Alan Sokal showed us how the peer-review system can be fooled and there are numerous examples where even after the review process, the publishers had to admit the contents of some articles didn't hold up to scrutiny.
I think that good science also means that you can explain to anyone who is interested what the theory or model is all about.
Cheers.

TheAstronomer
2004-Feb-06, 01:56 AM
You are right. I enjoy reading about new cosmological theories, as well as accepted standards, but I really hesitate when they go off on a tangent. (and i mean that in every respect of the word.) I really wonder if some of this is accepted because it "came from the mind of so and so..." or if they are making a unique observation.

It makes you wonder if you sat down at the table with one of these gentlemen and asked them to put their theory in terms an ordinary person would understand if they could do it?

I'm still grappling with dark energy...

~T

Josh
2004-Feb-06, 02:06 AM
I really wonder if some of this is accepted because it "came from the mind of so and so..." or if they are making a unique observation.


That's a very good question. I know of a guy here at my university who has many theories about the origins of the unverse etc. He's had these theories written up for years and years. In the past he was constantly and consistently shunned by peer reviewed journals etc and his theories were said to be the stuff fruitcakes are made of. Then some guys at NASA did some research and observed exactly what this guy had been saying all along. These NASA guys came up with peer reviewed papers and only after that was he accepted. He was on the news a while back and said something to the effect of it being because they were NASA people that they were listened to and that the truth finally came out. Understandably .. he was a little sore at the establishment.

Tim Thompson
2004-Feb-06, 02:39 AM
It makes you wonder if you sat down at the table with one of these gentlemen and asked them to put their theory in terms an ordinary person would understand if they could do it?

I'm sure most scientists would not have the patience to try, and most probably could not do it even if they did try. But that inability has nothing to do with the level of understanding attained by the scientist, or with the probability that the theory is valid. It has everything to do with the communication skills of the people involved, the ability of the scientist to clearly say what they mean, and the ability of the listner to understand it. This kind of communication is really hard. I think I'm pretty good at it, and I've been working on that ability as a public speaker for many years. But I still find myself sometimes unable to communicate ideas that are just too mathematical, or too technical, to translate into plain English (http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=ENG).


I think that good science also means that you can explain to anyone who is interested what the theory or model is all about.

Along the same lines, I disagree here too. In fact, I think the opposite is likely to be true. Really good science is really hard to understand if you have no experience or expertise to draw on. How can somebody explain, for instance, string theory (http://superstringtheory.com/), to people who have, at most, completed high school algebra? Brian Greene (http://phys.columbia.edu/faculty/greene.htm) did about as good a job as one could with Elegant Universe (http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/fall03/005858.htm), but it's way short of the mark for really explaining what string theory really is. That's because, no matter how many spiffy drawings we make, visualizing a compact Calabi-Yau space (http://mathworld.wolfram.com/Calabi-YauSpace.html) is just not in the cards for any non mathematician, and probably not for most who are mathematicians. Understanding theories at any real level requires an understanding of the fundamental principles involved, which in turn requires an education & experience relevant to the question. The ability to explain a theory, in practice or in principle, has nothing to do with the validity of the theory, or with its scientific value.

Galaxy dweller
2004-Feb-07, 02:49 AM
Rahuldandekar, I agree with you fully. Observational astronomy helps Theory which, in its turn, helps astronomy to understand what it observs and what should be observed before everything else.

I fully disagree with JoAnn&Bob. Astronomy and cosmology are mostly filled with enthusiasts working in their fields not just for money (although exceptions are possible). It is exactly astronomy and cosmology which are farthest removed from practical greed and self serving egotism. If I were an astronomer and lived in the 19th century I would have challenged Bob to a duel (not JoAnn of course).

Now to cosmological ideas. I agree with most people here that cosmology is still in its infancy. In the beginning of the 20th century Rutherford came up with his planetary model of the atom: nucleus in the center (like a star) and electrons around it (like planets). Since that time the model has of course been subjected to numerous revisions. But when it was introduced it struck the imagination of lots of people. And here is what wrote then a Russian poet named Briusov:

Who knows? Perhaps those small electrons
Are worlds with continents and life,
With wars, great leaders, suspect thrones,
And forty centuries of strife.

Of course with modern ideas about atoms and electrons, no cosmologist would subscribe to the idea that electrons are whole worlds. But who knows? Sometimes poets and philosophers see deeper than scientists. Where is the end to the succession of smallness? First atoms were elementary, then subatomic particles, then quarks, then what: strings? Then what? Humans know so little. But we are learning more and more, that's what is important.

argolus
2004-Feb-07, 03:16 PM
o o
deflation (.) > (O) inflation >> (OO) infinity >>> o 8 o = time, space, speed
o o


life is sweet,
but life is short
so open your mind
to the truth in your heart

for in a fleeting moment
that no one can hold
tomorrow is gone....
behold!

TheAstronomer
2004-Feb-07, 07:39 PM
Oh, I LIKE this! The longer it goes on, the deeper and more informative it gets. Everyone has made some very valuable insights, additions and observations of their own... Wat a unique place this is!

I liked the response about the fellow who had formed theories that weren't accepted until he became part of NASA. How many of us who are quite ordinary people hold a frustrated scientist inside? Perhaps we are nothing more than the person next door who likes to study sunspots and can tell you with 75% percent accuracy when we're expecting a CME... But because we're "ordinary" and unable to express express things in science "terms", we have no validity in our claims. (and boy how we smile when we learn what we expected came true!) Perhaps a dude you observe with once in a while says, "You know, I'll bet we could jump across the concept of space/time through quantum entanglement." But since he's only your local carpenter, no one is really going to pay any great attention to the fact that he understands things about dimension instinctively that someone with a master's degree doesn't.

It's great fun to think this way, isn't it?

I really appreciate all the great links to pages to help illustrate just exactly what we've been talking about. You are very right, sir... It all boils down to communication skills. Where would we be without those minds in the middle who are able to grasp those concepts and put them into words understood by all? (or at least inspire us to continue to reach for understanding...) A rare and beautiful talent are those that can combine both! And so human-kind has given us the likes Albert Einstein, Richard Fenyman, Carl Sagan and yes, even Stephen Hawking...

And poetry! How brilliant you are to realize that all of this is a cadence! All tied together... Mathmatics, harmonics, poetry, cosmology, music, art and even our humble observances. Mmmmm... Mmmmm... Mmmmmm... More food for thought here than takin' a Mensa test on a snowy Saturday afternoon!

Ya'll are too cool... ;)

Rock On,

~T

Galaxy dweller
2004-Feb-07, 08:01 PM
Thanks, TheAstronomer, your enthusiasm is very rewarding to us all.

VanderL
2004-Feb-07, 08:07 PM
QUOTE
It makes you wonder if you sat down at the table with one of these gentlemen and asked them to put their theory in terms an ordinary person would understand if they could do it?


I'm sure most scientists would not have the patience to try, and most probably could not do it even if they did try

Can't say I like this very much, science is doing a bad job if it keeps all it's knowledge and discussions in little "knowledgeable" circles. It has to be communicated, and if people are unable to do this properly, it is just bad science. The fact that science has a specific language (math and jargon) that is not mastered by all, is a weak excuse when it comes to explaining what a theory or discovery is all about. Saying it is difficult is just a cop-out. We should demand clarity from the scientists, otherwise it is really elitist behaviour. I'm actually convinced that most scientists are striving to achieve this communication, if only so they can explain why they need funding from their grant-suppliers.
Cheers.

Dave Mitsky
2004-Feb-08, 08:38 AM
Originally posted by VanderL@Feb 7 2004, 08:07 PM

QUOTE
It makes you wonder if you sat down at the table with one of these gentlemen and asked them to put their theory in terms an ordinary person would understand if they could do it?


I'm sure most scientists would not have the patience to try, and most probably could not do it even if they did try

Can't say I like this very much, science is doing a bad job if it keeps all it's knowledge and discussions in little "knowledgeable" circles. It has to be communicated, and if people are unable to do this properly, it is just bad science. The fact that science has a specific language (math and jargon) that is not mastered by all, is a weak excuse when it comes to explaining what a theory or discovery is all about. Saying it is difficult is just a cop-out. We should demand clarity from the scientists, otherwise it is really elitist behaviour. I'm actually convinced that most scientists are striving to achieve this communication, if only so they can explain why they need funding from their grant-suppliers.
Cheers.
How very sanctimonious of you, VanderL. Tell me just what are your scientific credentials? What makes you so qualified to judge the professionals?

Exlucidating some scientific concepts in terms that laypeople can understand is difficult. I'd like to see you explain the mathematics involved and the reasoning behind the concepts in something as relatively straight forward as the two body problem -
http://orca.phys.uvic.ca/~tatum/celmechs/celm9.pdf - to someone who knows nothing about astronomy and physics and who has never studied algegbra, geometry, and calculus.

Dave Mitsky

Chook
2004-Feb-08, 09:13 AM
Quote David Mitsky:
"How very sanctimonious of you, VanderL. Tell me just what are your scientific credentials? What makes you so qualified to judge the professionals? "

You have not done credit to your usually thoughtful and knowledgable posting, David, by this personal attack.

You may not be aware of this - but many of us, in private communications, have commented on the objectivity, courtesy, restraint and professionalism demonstrated by VanderL.

It is your, and our, right to disagree with the opinion of others; but PLEASE show personal respect for the other gentleman involved with whom you disagree.

Thank you.

PS And I am not a bloody Moderator <_< .

Dave Mitsky
2004-Feb-08, 09:20 AM
Originally posted by Chook@Feb 8 2004, 09:13 AM
Quote David Mitsky:
"How very sanctimonious of you, VanderL. Tell me just what are your scientific credentials? What makes you so qualified to judge the professionals? "

You have not done credit to your usually thoughtful and knowledgable posting, David, by this personal attack.

You may not be aware of this - but many of us, in private communications, have commented on the objectivity, courtesy, restraint and professionalism demonstrated by VanderL.

It is your, and our, right to disagree with the opinion of others; but PLEASE show personal respect for the other gentleman involved with whom you disagree.

Thank you.

PS* And I am not a bloody Moderator* <_< .
Well, that is your opinion and you&#39;re certainly entitled to it. But making a veiled attack on me by mentioning that the fact I&#39;m a moderator on these forums certainly doesn&#39;t call for any criticism about your actions, now does it?

Dave Mitsky

Chook
2004-Feb-08, 09:29 AM
To David Mitsky:

Then I suggest that you be a shining example of "niceness", my friend.

Chook.

damienpaul
2004-Feb-08, 11:49 AM
Can I ask a question that has been nagging at me and in light of the rather heated discussion here, seems appropriate.

I would not classify myself a profesional anything, I am a student, always have been and always will be - am i wrong to listen to all sources and evaluate them in my way? as do my students. Regardless of the level of scientific &#39;professionalism&#39; in the person raising the information?

Tinaa
2004-Feb-08, 08:14 PM
The stereotypical scientist is seen as brilliant, passionate for their work and unable to relate well with others. Using representative heuristics is not always accurate, but it does tend to agree with many extremely bright people. Also, as Dave said, many ideas cannot be explained in plain language. One must have a modicum of knowledge to begin understand some subjects such as orbital mechanics, string theory, trig, chemistry, etc. The scientist are not always elitist, they are more comfortable with people who speak the same language, concepts, ideas, et cetera, just as the rest of us are. As I said in an earlier thread, trying to tell my daughter about quarks, leptons and the like does little good since she knows very little about atoms, yet.

VanderL
2004-Feb-08, 09:33 PM
As I said in an earlier thread, trying to tell my daughter about quarks, leptons and the like does little good since she knows very little about atoms, yet.
Of course the people must be interested in the subject and shouldn&#39;t get the information force-fed, let&#39;s say average people should be able to understand what is meant. It always works to find good analogies to communicate difficult concepts.
Cheers.

Duane
2004-Feb-09, 12:27 AM
On the question of the value of cosmology, in reading through the bulk of the replies in this section I think the answer has become almost self-evident. The very discussion of it&#39;s value is valuble, and gives weight to the premise that it IS valuble.

Blueplanet27, surely you are not suggesting that the science should be dropped simply because it is hard, both to understand and observe? IMHO that is the whole reason for the statement of a theory--I think that this may happen, I design a means to see if I am right. The scientific method seems to work very well.


I&#39;m actually convinced that most scientists are striving to achieve this communication, if only so they can explain why they need funding from their grant-suppliers.


I agree VanderL. Most people desire recognition from others, and scientists are no different. It would be a sad thing indeed, if you postualted a theory that has incredible merit but couldn&#39;t communicate to anyone.

I also don&#39;t think you need complete understandign of a subject to be able to gain an intuitive grasp of it. I have an understanding of Relativity because of the well communicated explanations of Sagen and Hawking, among others, but don&#39;t ask me to sit down and show you the mathematics that prove the theory.


am i wrong to listen to all sources and evaluate them in my way

Not only not wrong, absolutely this is the way it should be. If not for the questioning of "current" scientific knowledge, we would be living on a flat planet worrying about falling off the edge of the world and landing on Atlas&#39; shoulders.


"How very sanctimonious of you, VanderL. Tell me just what are your scientific credentials? What makes you so qualified to judge the professionals? "


Shame on you Dave Minsky&#33; I do not see the questioning of a concept or idea as sanctomony especially in the context of VanderL&#39;s comments. I do not mean to answer for him, as he seems quite capable of answering for himself, but I can tell you that MY scientific degrees are non-existant. Does that mean I am sanctomonious if I question an idea that I find unpalatable? Futhermore, if I find the arguments given by the author of that idea illogical and without merit, does that make me unable to argue the conclusions of that author?

Please explain to me exactly who you would define as qualified? Seems to me that Galileo had a number of "qualified" people around him, yet that didn&#39;t prevent his nearly being burned at the stake.

Frankly, if a professional is unable to explain a concept to me in a way that I can understand at least the principle if not the specifics, then he is not much of a professional. Even Newton was able to do that, and by all accounts he was not a people person by any stretch of the imagination.

Coming back to the value of cosmology, I find it remarkable how many theoretic ideas have come to be observed. A neutron star was only theorized at one time. A magnetar was also only predicted in theory, yet a handful of them have now been found. Think about it--extra-solor planets were only theory until the last decade.

Just because we haven&#39;t seen it YET doesn&#39;t necessarily mean we won&#39;t ever see it. That, good people, is the very essence of theory.

Dave Mitsky
2004-Feb-10, 07:12 AM
You&#39;re missing the point entirely Duane. Dr. Thompson, who is a professional scientist, described the difficulties involved in presenting a convincing explanation (which has to include mathematics at some level) of an abstruse scientific principle. It is one thing to popularize science and some writers, most notably the late Isaac Asimov, do a good job of it but saying something is so is not the same as rigorously proving it to be so with the necessary higher level mathematics, mathematics that perhaps only a few per cent of the population are able to understand. _A Brief History of Time_ was written without including mathematics to improve its sales potential. Even so this book, which has been said to have been purchased and left unread by more people than any other best seller, was rather difficult for me to wade through and I took a course in quantum mechanics in college.

VanderL, who in my opinion has been advancing "the Electric Universe" with a very clever agenda, has finally met someone who is able to effectively dispute the claims of this Veliokovsky based theory. If VanderL is a professional scientist, which I doubt, then he is certainly entitled to an opposing opinion regarding the dissemination of physical science to the public. If he is not, then why doesn&#39;t he believe what a professional scientist has to say on the subject?

By the way, my surname is Mitsky and thanks so much for that charitable rebuke.

Dave Mitsky

Chook
2004-Feb-10, 09:43 AM
Quote Dave Mitsky:

"VanderL, who in my opinion has been advancing "the Electric Universe" with a very clever agenda,"
Uncharitable insinuation.

"If VanderL is a professional scientist, which I doubt, …"
Uncharitable assumption.

"By the way, my surname is Mitsky and thanks so much for that charitable rebuke."
Uncharitable sarcasm.

Mr. Moderator - please see the Rules about being charitable on our forum.

damienpaul
2004-Feb-10, 11:27 AM
Of course the people must be interested in the subject and shouldn&#39;t get the information force-fed, let&#39;s say average people should be able to understand what is meant. It always works to find good analogies to communicate difficult concepts.

I use this same pricipal to teach my Special Education students Newton&#39;s Laws and my remedial Maths class to do differentiation- with staggering success&#33; - by the way, the way i measure the successs is by the way i noticed that they were applying that knowledge in the school, simulating the game we played in class with the correct maths etc.

Like many, i am no where near a professional at anything and only a 5th year teacher, but like so many people, i like to see and encourage others to see with their own eyes. (so to call me unprofessional would be a truth that would not need to be repeated - i have admitted it).

And as I have admitted that I am not a professional, is it therefore ironic (and delightfully flattering) that my students see me as, to quote:

a professional scientist

However, I always encourage, and have been encouraged to question the professionals....to me (and a lot of fellow non-professionals who i know) do not consider anyone&#39;s words as a be all end all of a theory. Often because I dare to ask a question, or even greet a professional - i am ignored or treated as a no hoper (this has happened repeatedly) - i do not see this as being acceptable - this is plain rude.

I will always teach my students to question the theories, to gather evidence, to understand theories through their eyes, and to never accept being ignored or being put down, as I was taught. Is this wrong, some have argued that i may be wrong, but i have never been convinced and I have always been encouraged to continue.

By the way, many professionals have replied and even contributed to my class curriculum, even got a letter from JPL encouraging my students - and I cannot even begin to describe the positive impact that had&#33; An email from Stephen J. Gould also really inspired them - how very kind of him to reply to an email from a girl who struggles with literacy but loves science - she is really inspired by his encouragement&#33;

So therefore I agree with Duane&#39;s comments:


do not see the questioning of a concept or idea as sanctomony especially in the context of VanderL&#39;s comments. I do not mean to answer for him, as he seems quite capable of answering for himself, but I can tell you that MY scientific degrees are non-existant. Does that mean I am sanctomonious if I question an idea that I find unpalatable? Futhermore, if I find the arguments given by the author of that idea illogical and without merit, does that make me unable to argue the conclusions of that author?

And ask, does this barrier apply to my students?

I hope the answer is &#39;Of course not&#39; but sometimes I am not entirely convinced and sadly, nor are my students


PS I do not mean to offend anyone with this, but this is the truth of my feelings and experiences

Faulkner
2004-Feb-10, 12:30 PM
Here here, DP&#33;&#33;&#33;

Whether the "electric-cosmos" theory is an accurate portrayal of the Universe & its physical workings, or whether it&#39;s just a bucket of bananas, is really beside the point... There are anomalies in current scientific thinking that must be addressed properly - ie scientifically. Not just brushed under the carpet in some reactionary...um...reaction.

I&#39;m noticing more & more in this forum a kind of conservatism that scoffs at anything outside the textbooks... Which can be dangerous, because the textbooks don&#39;t answer everything, and to search for answers, one must search "outside the box"...just like Einstein did. And Einstein flunked out of high school&#33;

We must question everything&#33;&#33;&#33;&#33; There are no answers without questions&#33;&#33;&#33;

For example: I&#39;ve questioned elsewhere the current cosmological model describing the geometry of the cosmos. No one can answer this one. But the conservatism is there, stifling creative thinking.

We do NOT know what this Universe "is" in which we find ourselves. It is a mystery, slowly being unravelled...perhaps. There is no room for conservatism here, because...we...just...don&#39;t...know&#33; (I just wish some of these experts would ADMIT it&#33;&#33;&#33;).

The Universe is not "conservative". It is very radical. ANYTHING is possible.

TheAstronomer
2004-Feb-10, 01:39 PM
"Creak... The movement of the door sends a shaft of fresh air into the smoke-filled room. A few dying embers drift down from above to join the ashes on their freefall. From the crack in the doorway, a sliderule emerges... On its&#39; end is hung a scrap of white cloth, with the words "Ozz Fest &#39;99" sculpted in black..."

Hey, There...

Is it safe to come back in here again?

At the risk of being laughed at and forever barred from a place I&#39;ve just found, calling a forum&#39;s moderator to step in the middle of a heated debate seems pretty much to me like asking the playground monitor to stop a couple of kindergarteners from arguing about who&#39;s got a better baseball card, ok? Use of quotes is seriously touchy... The written word can be taken so many ways. You cannot see the author&#39;s amused smile, the lift of an eyebrow or the intensity of a look that gives meaning beyond what he has written. Write a response one day - and read it ten days later. You&#39;ll find even your own words to have a different tone...

Although I would like to think that I could sit down around the dinner table with the world&#39;s greatest minds, past and present, and have them tell me all they know in ways that I can understand - I realize the burden is not on them to teach me what they know... It is on me to understand what they are saying. If just one of them can hand me a shining seed of an idea or concept, then I will take that seed, run with it, plant it, nurture it and watch it grow. When it has blossomed into maturity, I can then take it back to them with open hands, open eyes and open heart... Knowing I&#39;ve done my part... And then say:

"Hey, dude? How&#39;s come it flowered in red?"

Yes, this is a very simplistic way of trying to make a point, but I think you who read will understand what I am trying to get at. The minds that create the theories are offering you what they believe to be true. If you truly want to understand what it is about, you must take the intiative to learn what makes it so.

Always reaching for the stars,

~T

"A stray ember lights upon that scrap of white and burns a hole.. Revealing the numbers beneath. The sliderule withdraws, letting the scrap of smoking cloth fall to the floor. The door closes with a soft snick and from behind it it a voice echoes down the empty hall...

That&#39;s it&#33;&#33; I found the answer&#33;"

Josh
2004-Feb-10, 02:01 PM
Einstein didn&#39;t flunk out of high school.

Faulkner
2004-Feb-10, 02:47 PM
Didn&#39;t he? Oh. I just read the cliches, not the autobiographies&#33; :lol:

Fraser
2004-Feb-10, 03:44 PM
Hey folks, this conversation has gotten too personal, too fast. It&#39;s an interesting conversation, but it&#39;s raising hackles on both sides - I&#39;m going to close it up.