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Thread: *Cosmology and Controversy,* etc.

  1. #1
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    The book, *Cosmology and Controversy* by Helge Kragh, has been fascinating. I have read most of the way through the book and, while there is a lot of calculus (which brings back many mixed memories), I believe that the history of cosmology (primarily, in this case, of the competing *Big Bang* and *Steady State* cosmologies) is important to know about.

    The finding and imaging of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) has put the *Big Bang* (neither big nor a bang) theory in a position of having been based on solid observation, as well as on theory, unlike competing cosmologies (such as the Hoyle, et al., Steady State).

    I know that COSMOLOGY AND CONROVERSY is in my alma mater's science library and its student library, so it should be available somewhere. It can be purchased online. (Ask one of the search engines to go after it.)

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: ljbrs on 2002-11-13 20:44 ]</font>

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: ljbrs on 2002-11-17 18:55 ]</font>

  2. #2
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    Cosmology and Controversy by Helge Kragh.

    Sounds like a very interesting book ljbrs. I'll look for it. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  3. #3
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    On 2002-10-26 21:31, ljbrs wrote:
    Therefore, before people jump all over anybody else for proposing questionable cosmological ideas, they should all realize that many famous and illustrious scientists have had similarly strange notions about cosmology.
    Not only they "have/had had", but they "are having" and "will have had" and "will be having"...

  4. #4
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    Yes, well, once upon a time, most leading scientists had the cosmological idea that the Earth is flat. I find it okay to make fun of flat-earthers. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

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    On 2002-10-27 11:15, xriso wrote:
    Yes, well, once upon a time, most leading scientists had the cosmological idea that the Earth is flat. I find it okay to make fun of flat-earthers.
    I'd ask for a cite, but I'm pretty sure that would have been in pre-history, so it'd be difficult.

    Surely, most leading scientists have always thought that the Earth was round. Even Columbus's opponents thought the Earth was round.

  6. #6
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    There's a sort of common law of inertia in science. When the bulk (note - not ALL) of the known facts point to a particular theory, then that theory holds, the longer it holds, the more inertia or mass accumulates. New facts may come to light which are at odds with that theory, but its mass has usually incremented to a level such that it is immutable. Other theories of equal relative worth, and oftentimes a better fit to the observations, may be proposed from time to time, but without the necessary accumulation of mass they stand no chance of displacing the incumbent. Eventually a new theory may come along which fits all observations; given time it will ultimately topple the incumbent, which, as Douglas Adams might phrase it, then vanishes in a puff of logic. This is more or less how it was with the flat-earthers, God bless 'em.

  7. #7
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    On 2002-10-27 11:38, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
    On 2002-10-27 11:15, xriso wrote:
    Yes, well, once upon a time, most leading scientists had the cosmological idea that the Earth is flat. I find it okay to make fun of flat-earthers.
    I'd ask for a cite, but I'm pretty sure that would have been in pre-history, so it'd be difficult.

    Surely, most leading scientists have always thought that the Earth was round. Even Columbus's opponents thought the Earth was round.
    The Babylonians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians thought the world was flat. (Egyptian mythology specifically talks about the Sun God going underground and coming back up again in the morning.)

    Silas

  8. #8
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    On 2002-10-27 15:26, Silas wrote:
    The Babylonians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians thought the world was flat. (Egyptian mythology specifically talks about the Sun God going underground and coming back up again in the morning.)
    Why do you consider them scientists?

  9. #9
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    [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]
    Agreed - it's the greats that make the critical mass difference. Pity there's too few of them...

  10. #10
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    Atko:

    Agreed - it's the greats that make the critical mass difference. Pity there's too few of them...
    At least their ideas are still of great importance in Cosmology, perhaps with the exception of the *Steady State* cosmology which has been put to rest by the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) and the balloon experiments (BOOMerang and Maxima), etc.

    Ain't science grand?

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  11. #11
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    There's a sort of common law of inertia in science. When the bulk (note - not ALL) of the known facts point to a particular theory, then that theory holds, the longer it holds, the more inertia or mass accumulates. New facts may come to light which are at odds with that theory, but its mass has usually incremented to a level such that it is immutable. Other theories of equal relative worth, and oftentimes a better fit to the observations, may be proposed from time to time, but without the necessary accumulation of mass they stand no chance of displacing the incumbent. Eventually a new theory may come along which fits all observations; given time it will ultimately topple the incumbent, which, as Douglas Adams might phrase it, then vanishes in a puff of logic. This is more or less how it was with the flat-earthers, God bless 'em.
    Of course, I agree with your post thoroughly.

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  12. #12
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    At least their ideas are still of great importance in Cosmology, perhaps with the exception of the *Steady State* cosmology which has been put to rest by the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) and the balloon experiments (BOOMerang and Maxima), etc.

    Ain't science grand?

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]
    I wouldn't say put to rest entirely. BB theory has merit - it wouldn't have been proposed, or achieved its current position at the head of cosmological theory if it didn't. But the model does have inconsistancies - check out -

    http://redshift.vif.com/JournalFiles...F/V09N2tvf.PDF

    for a list of the top thirty problems with the theory.

    Because BB is currently mainstream, it's very difficult for alternative models to get a look in, in terms of peer review, funding or just plain old air-time. I tend to be a fence-sitter myself; I find this helps in being more receptive to new ideas or variations on old ones - [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] admittedly I have the immense and comfortable advantage of not doing physics for a living!

    I doff my cap to those worthies who keep plugging away at unfashionable areas of study - even if they don't create change, or are barking up the wrong tree, they often help to sharpen focus and improve existing theory, and just maybe, one of them will emerge as an "acknowledged great". Might have a look at that book you mention - sounds interesting.

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    I'mwritingfrom an internet cafe in Sydney, Australia (and the space bar on this keyboard doesn'twork well), so I don't havetimeto go into detail, but please don't take that linked article too seriously. I'll try to write a more detailed rebuttal when I get home, but forone thing, that whole "globular clusters are older than the universe" was laid to rest a while ago, when Hipparchos measurements showed that the clusters were not as old as people had previously thought. This is no longer considered to be a problem by anyone in the field. None of the other "problems" struck me as compelling, and several "problems" he cited were things I had always thought of as *strengths* of the theory. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    G'day from a traveller Down Under,

    Don

  14. #14
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    G'day right back at ya DoctorDon!

    I'll be interested to see your rebuttals - especially if you can answer all 30!! I know this has been doing the rounds for a while, and there have been rebuttals previously; the current link is the latest steady-state position (April 2002), including rebuttals to previous rebuttals(!). As ljbrs phrased it, "Ain't science grand?"

  15. #15
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    <a name="2-10-28.SR"> page 2-10-28.SR aka Science?Religion
    On 2002-10-27 20:17, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
    On 2002-10-27 15:26, Silas wrote:
    The Babylonians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians thought the world was flat. (Egyptian mythology specifically talks about the Sun God going underground and coming back up again in the morning.)
    Why do you consider them scientists?
    NO: Religious, artisians, etc
    or conversly more ballance in there crainal structures
    and for me it takes the form of a plain vs a circle {or the concept of ?A? tangent line )|

  16. #16
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    On 2002-10-28 10:00, HUb' wrote:
    NO: Religious, artisians, etc
    or conversly more ballance in there crainal structures
    and for me it takes the form of a plain vs a circle {or the concept of ?A? tangent line )|
    You must be talking about the left brain/right brain thing, but wouldn't they fall into the right brain classification, instead of a balanced one? I can see where scientists are often perceived as left, but my experience is that there is a strong balance in everyone, but small shifts one way or another--unless they have problems.

  17. #17
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    Atko:

    I wouldn't say put to rest entirely. BB theory has merit - it wouldn't have been proposed, or achieved its current position at the head of cosmological theory if it didn't. But the model does have inconsistancies - check out -

    http://redshift.vif.com/JournalFiles...F/V09N2tvf.PDF

    for a list of the top thirty problems with the theory.

    Because BB is currently mainstream, it's very difficult for alternative models to get a look in, in terms of peer review, funding or just plain old air-time. I tend to be a fence-sitter myself; I find this helps in being more receptive to new ideas or variations on old ones - admittedly I have the immense and comfortable advantage of not doing physics for a living!

    I doff my cap to those worthies who keep plugging away at unfashionable areas of study - even if they don't create change, or are barking up the wrong tree, they often help to sharpen focus and improve existing theory, and just maybe, one of them will emerge as an "acknowledged great". Might have a look at that book you mention - sounds interesting.
    Oh, it is very important to have alternate approaches to scientific theories. Science would stagnate, otherwise. On the other hand, I am NOT A SCIENTIST, and to be safe, I only consult sound scientific websites (.edu, .gov, .NASA, and the like) for information and, even then, am very, very careful. I do not want to be led astray. I observe theory/theories from a safe distance.

    Now, of course, you should not be getting your scientific ideas from me, either, for that same reason.

    On the other hand, amateur astronomers must become temporary Ptolemaics in their thinking if they are ever going to be able to do a decent Messier Marathon!

    ==========

    Incidentally, the *accelerating universe* which startled the astrophysical and cosmological communities near the end of the past century has changed ideas a lot. I love it when this kind of thing happens. However, I leave it to the professionals to do the persuading. Peer review is great stuff, and I trust it over the long run.

    The developing of these wonderful theories can go through tumultuous changes before coming to fruition (if at all). I just sit back and cheer for my heroes as they appear on the scientific battleground.

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  18. #18
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    Dr. Don:

    I'mwritingfrom an internet cafe in Sydney, Australia (and the space bar on this keyboard doesn'twork well), so I don't havetimeto go into detail, but please don't take that linked article too seriously. I'll try to write a more detailed rebuttal when I get home, but forone thing, that whole "globular clusters are older than the universe" was laid to rest a while ago, when Hipparchos measurements showed that the clusters were not as old as people had previously thought. This is no longer considered to be a problem by anyone in the field. None of the other "problems" struck me as compelling, and several "problems" he cited were things I had always thought of as *strengths* of the theory.

    G'day from a traveller Down Under,

    Don
    Your arguments are always clear (and based upon solid evidence) -- even without a working space bar. Being in Australia and able to view the Magellanic Clouds sounds marvelous. You lucky so and so.

    Not being a scientist, I am thoroughly timid about reading anything which has been thoroughly trounced by scientists; I did not complete my reading of the site listed earlier (by the URL).

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  19. #19
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    HUb':

    NO: Religious, artisians, etc
    or conversly more ballance in there crainal structures
    and for me it takes the form of a plain vs a circle {or the concept of ?A? tangent line )|
    Perhaps the ancients liked going *off on a tangent* as the phrase goes...

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  20. #20
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    Grapes:

    You must be talking about the left brain/right brain thing, but wouldn't they fall into the right brain classification, instead of a balanced one? I can see where scientists are often perceived as left, but my experience is that there is a strong balance in everyone, but small shifts one way or another--unless they have problems.
    From what I have read awhile back in SCIENCE, or in NATURE (at the moment, I forget which), we all use various portions of the whole brain when thinking. Then again, my memory can be very faulty at times and those multiple portions of my brain can close down completely if I am not careful.

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

  21. #21
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    On 2002-10-28 21:59, ljbrs wrote:
    Then again, my memory can be very faulty at times and those multiple portions of my brain can close down completely if I am not careful.
    Yep. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] Usually when my foot gets in its way.

  22. #22
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    Grapes:

    Your posts are always enjoyable.

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  23. #23
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    On 2002-10-27 11:38, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
    On 2002-10-27 11:15, xriso wrote:
    Yes, well, once upon a time, most leading scientists had the cosmological idea that the Earth is flat. I find it okay to make fun of flat-earthers.
    I'd ask for a cite, but I'm pretty sure that would have been in pre-history, so it'd be difficult.

    Surely, most leading scientists have always thought that the Earth was round. Even Columbus's opponents thought the Earth was round.
    Are you suggesting the majority of scientists always agreed the Earth was round? Or are you suggesting it was accepted the Earth was round before there were any scientists?

  24. #24
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    On 2002-11-02 01:22, beskeptical wrote:
    Are you suggesting the majority of scientists always agreed the Earth was round? Or are you suggesting it was accepted the Earth was round before there were any scientists?
    Both. Although, in the second case, I may need a definition of "accepted"--do you mean, a majority of the population believed it, because we don't have much data on that for ancient times and people probably didn't even give it a second thought. Those that did think about it seemed to come to the conclusion that it was round.

  25. #25
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    2,500 years ago the Greeks knew the Earth was round. They based their belief on observations of the varying altitudes of stars at different places on Earth, and the way ships would appear over the horizon, mast tops first, then the sails, and finally their hulls. Aristotle, in 300 BC, noticed that the Earth cast a round shadow on the moon. The Greeks figured out the general size and shape of the Earth, and defined a system of latitude and longitude, so that using two co-ordinates they could locate any point on the Earth. They were also of the opinion that the Earth could only be a sphere because that was the most "perfect" shape. If you view Greece as the cradle of civilisation at that time, then yes, everyone knew the Earth was round, scientist or otherwise, but, as Grapes mentions, most of the average Joe's probably didn't give it a second thought. It'd be interesting to run a poll today asking questions like -

    1. Is the Earth flat or round?
    2. Does the sun go around the Earth, or the Earth around the Sun?
    3. Is the Earth at the centre of the Universe?

    Some of the answers might be both enlightening and disappointing.

    But back to history - with the advent of The Dark Ages, all the round Earth stuff was forgotten. Mythology and superstition took over and we had a flat Earth with seas infested with serpents and demons - observation was replaced by theory, in a way, somewhat similar to Big Bang today ( [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] sorry - couldn't resist!).

  26. #26
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    On 2002-10-29 22:00, ljbrs wrote:
    Grapes
    Thank you
    On 2002-11-02 09:03, Atko wrote:
    But back to history - with the advent of The Dark Ages, all the round Earth stuff was forgotten. Mythology and superstition took over and we had a flat Earth with seas infested with serpents and demons - observation was replaced by theory, in a way
    Quit it. That is a myth. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    Courtesy of Washington Irving, et al.

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: GrapesOfWrath on 2002-11-02 09:13 ]</font>

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    On 2002-11-02 09:03, Atko wrote:
    Mythology and superstition took over and we had a flat Earth with seas infested with serpents and demons - observation was replaced by theory, in a way, somewhat similar to Big Bang today ...
    [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif[/img]
    Now THAT was good! ( [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img] sorry - now I couldn't resist!).


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    From an ardent observationalist, I find it amusing that people who don't like the Big Bang "theory" are themselves markedly NOT observationalists. Now, THAT'S funny.

  29. #29
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    How do you know we're not observationalists?

    I'll bet my telescope's bigger than yours.
    [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif[/img]

  30. #30
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    From an ardent observationalist, I find it amusing that people who don't like the Big Bang "theory" are themselves markedly NOT observationalists. Now, THAT'S funny.
    I agree!!!

    Big Bang Theory seems to be almost entirely substantiated by and dependent upon observation. I do not understand the positions of those who resist it. Perhaps they have not followed Big Bang Theory for a long enough time to see the changes as more evidence (through observation) is gathered. Big Bang cosmologists usually do not discuss the actual beginning of the Universe, because there is no measurable evidence for the first portions of a second. However, the research and observations concerning what happened after the initial beginning (thought to be neither big nor a bang) have led cosmologists to confirm the theory or to modify it slightly, i.e. the accelerated expansion of the Inflationary Period [Alan Guth], the measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, the measurements of the accelerated expansion of the universe of recent years from Type 1a Supernovae observed and recorded by the Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-Z Supernova Search Team, and observations by the balloon experiments of Maxima and Boomerang. The Big Bang is here to stay (until disproven by real cosmologists).

    Science is always exciting because it gives up faulty theories when they are shown to be in error. I do not think that the Big Bang is in any present danger.

    ljbrs

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