Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Big success with the big bang!

To give you some context, after thirty-five years scientist Andrei Linde had his hypothesis about the birth of the universe confirmed this week. Wonder no longer that must have felt like, as “Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Kuo surprises Professor Andrei Linde with evidence that supports cosmic inflation theory. The discovery, made by Kuo and his colleagues at the BICEP2 experiment, represents the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the ‘first tremors of the Big Bang.’”

This is what it looks like to see your life’s work vindicated:

Alex Epstein commented on this video shared by physicist Eric Dennis...

I have never seen something like this on video before: a powerful mind getting the news that, after 35 years, his ideas about the basic nature of the cosmos have been decisively confirmed by observation.
Andrei Linde was one of the originators of the modern theory of the big bang, which describes how 380,000 years after this event, the matter particles in the universe had calmed down enough that light could begin to flow freely without the constant interference of matter. As a result, the specific pattern of gravitational energy suffusing the universe in this moment--the fingerprint of the plenum itself--was permanently imprinted on all the free-flowing light.
Today astronomers announced that they had finally succeeded in isolating small flashes of this light that had been flowing freely for 14 billion years--and more: that when they studied this ancient light, what they saw was the exact kind of pattern that Linde and a few others had predicted long ago.

As Dennis says,

the majesty of this particular development is that it's both [a significant piece of evidence supporting the big bang theory and evidence in support of gravitational waves]--and more. First, it is the most direct observation to date of gravitational waves. Previously we had only seen the indirect affect gravitational waves have on distant astronomical bodies. Second, it's a dramatic confirmation of a big piece of the inflationary model of the big bang, which says that the universe underwent an extremely fast period of expansion just after the big bang. And third, it's perhaps the most direct observational evidence we have indicating a deep link between quantum mechanics, which describes how particles of matter and light interact, and gravity, which describes the cosmic fabric on which these particles play. We still don't understand exactly how quantum mechanics and gravity are precisely related, but this is more reason to believe that there is some deep relationship between them.

And…

For those [here who reject] the big bang theory, I would ask: what is your explanation of the observed red-shifts of light from distant stars, of the specific pattern of abundances of light elements in the universe, and of the existence and exact black-body signature of the cosmic microwave background radiation (i.e. this graph:

File:Cmbr.svgFile:Cmbr.svg - Wikimedia Commons

    If your answer to that last question, for example, is that you do not know why the cosmic microwave background radiation would have a blackbody spectrum, or that you do not know what a blackbody spectrum is, or that you do not know what the cosmic microwave background radiation is--then I would suggest that you not make such confident pronouncements on a subject of which you are largely ignorant.
    Rest assured, however, that the probable source of your doubts about the big bang theory is a misunderstanding of what this theory asserts. Most importantly, it does *not* assert that the universe began 14 billion years ago, springing into existence from nothing . But to understand why the theory makes no such assertion--even when so many popular accounts of it do--you would have to understand the technical content of that theory. For then you would be able to differentiate the theory from much more speculative claims made by scientists and journalists of varying methodological prowess.
    It is particularly tragic that pretentious pseudo-science like much of the literature on catastrophic global warming has provoked some people to blithely dismiss large swathes of the most fascinating and solidly validated scientific insights human reason has ever produced. And it's too bad for those people that their biases are thus depriving them of the joy that the linked video properly evokes in the rest of us.

21 comments:

  1. Interesting and I hope to be impressed. Reminds me of an old pdf (Slide 35):

    “THE SCIENCE OF THINGS THAT AREN’T SO”
    (I. Langmuir, “Pathological Science,” Colloquium at The Oak Knolls Research

    Laboratory, December 18, 1953; Physics Today 42, 36, October
    1989, transcribed and edited by R.N. Hall)

    • In pathological science, scientists manage to fool themselves

    “Symptoms of Pathological Science:
    1. The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a
    causitive agent of barely detectable intensity
    2. The effect is of a magnitude that remains close to the limit
    of detectability
    3. Claims of great accuracy
    4. Fantastic theories contrary to experience
    5. Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the
    spur of the moment
    6. Ratio of supporters to critics rises up to somewhere near
    50% and then falls gradually to oblivion”

    • Davis-Barnes effect (1929), N-rays (1904), Mitogenic rays (1923),
    Allison effect (1927), ESP (1934), flying saucers

    http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/~lieber/LiebermanGEC05rev.pdf

    I do find it amusing; the overlaying of the (idealized) black body spectrum with that of the microwave hum which, at -270.3 celsius, and across a vast expanse would be expected to act as a black body, and absorb all incident radiation.

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  2. “The BICEP2 researchers have reported a surprisingly large number for r, the ratio of the gravitational wave fluctuations in the CMB to the fluctuations caused by perturbations in the density of matter. This value was previously estimated to be less than 0.11 based on all-sky CMB maps from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and the Planck satellite. BICEP2’s value, however, is around 0.20. “Everything hinges on this little r,” Guth says, “and this measurement changes things quite a bit. In fact, the models that looked like they were ruled out last week are now the models that are favored this week.” Such a high value of r, for instance, indicates that inflation began even earlier than some models predicted, at one trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the big bang.”

    Hey boys – why not make it a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of another trillionth?

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gravity-waves-cmb-b-mode-polarization/

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  3. More honest than an economist that theoretical physicist then tells us: “Theoretical physicists are notoriously bad at making predictions about what’s actually going to happen”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_-rS2v5Wt4

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  4. So who really gives a damn about this non-productive tax-payer funded rationalism? It is a worthless artefact of collectivism and robbery. What a load of useless mouth. These guys are just tax-eaters.

    Amit

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  5. Yeah, pah, science! Who needs it? What has science ever done for us? These guys should be day-trading or selling real estate instead.

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  6. I wouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water Chaz. They need to rethink their bathtub's construction, and apply what we know to what we see instead of inventing absurdities to patch up where their mathematical models fail. Less certainty about their Uncertainty. They are modern Platonists projecting their ideal equations complete with fudge factors (cosmological constant). Also I'd like someone to explain coherently why, if the Universe actually is accelerating outwardly [don't ask how - propelled by magic ex-nihilo dark matter] do our years not become longer?


    Some further Sunday reading:

    "The Horizon Problem

    The theory of cosmic inflation provides one solution to the problem (along with several others such as the flatness problem) by postulating a short 10−32 second period of exponential expansion (dubbed "inflation") in the first seconds of the history of the universe. During inflation, the universe would have increased in size by an enormous factor. Prior to the inflation the entire universe was small and causally connected; it was during this period that the physical properties evened out. Inflation then expanded the universe rapidly, "locking in" the uniformity at large distances.

    http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/Cyberia/Cosmos/HorizonProblem.html

    "how can such two causally disconnected regions have one and same temperature? Isotropy was simply an initial condition specified by the Standard Big Bang model. But such ad hoc assumptions don't make for a very satisfying theory.

    The horizon problem was finally explained by inflation.

    The instant before inflation began, 10^-35 seconds after the Big Bang, the "stuff" that expanded to become our universe was only about 10^-24 centimeter in diameter. All matter and energy were in close and uniform contact.

    Within the briefest instant, the universe expanded exponentially by a factor of about 10^50, stretching once intimately connected matter and energy to the farthest reaches of the universe. The information contained in the pre-inflationary universe didn't have to travel the speed of light--indeed it couldn't have--it traveled at the speed of inflation."

    Hubble’s “Constant”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metric_expansion_of_space
    "The acceleration of objects moving away from each other in an expanding universe is not the sort of acceleration which can be associated with a force as in Newton's second law because the expansion is an intrinsic property of the way space and time are measured rather than being due to dynamical interactions. Nevertheless, because the dimensional form of Hubble's Constant can yield an acceleration this has caused some confusion associated with the so-called "accelerating universe" which was first discovered and characterized in the late 1990s. In a universe that is undergoing a constant Hubble expansion, the universal Hubble Constant can be conceptualized as a universal acceleration, but Hubble's Constant is not constant through time since there are dynamical forces acting on the particles in the universe which affect the expansion rate. It was expected that the Hubble Constant would be decreasing as time went on due to the influence of gravitational interactions in the universe, and thus there is an additional observable quantity in the universe called the deceleration parameter which cosmologists expected to be directly related to the matter density of the universe. Surprisingly, the deceleration parameter was measured by two different groups to be less than zero (actually, consistent with -1) which implied that today Hubble's Constant is increasing as time goes on. Since Hubble's Constant can be associated with an acceleration, the change in Hubble's Constant over time can be associated with the time derivative of acceleration, and so some cosmologists have whimsically called the effect associated with the "accelerating universe" the "cosmic jerk.""


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  7. Gregster, I didn't know inflation had been around literally forever.

    Those monstrous rip off artists at Johnsonville Mall yesterday - Countdown, Whitcoulls, Zempalles café (with the yummy cute boy behind the counter) - despite all charging considerably more than this time last year, are almost "Johnny-come-lately's" by comparison! haha!

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  8. gregster

    Interesting, but what if Lerner is correct? If so, then the Big Bang never occurred (in the sense of it being the start of the Universe) and thus what has been observed is local and not a Universe wide expansion.

    Dark matter, dark energy, cosmological constants, "knowing the mind of god" and all that stuff; turtles all the way down!


    Amit

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  9. "...and thus what has been observed is local and not a Universe wide expansion."

    Indeed. I think we need to be careful not to conflate the universe with existence.

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  10. In the theory of inflation, our universe is just one bubble - there are many other bubbles. So this evidence appears to indicate that we live in a multiverse. How say the people here on that?

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  11. Elijah - you describe inflation not in the pseudo-scientific sense, and a good coffee with visual stimulation can prime the mind.

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  12. Peter Cresswell

    "Indeed. I think we need to be careful not to conflate the universe with existence."

    Please can you write some more about this. I would like to know more and surely there are other readers also who would like to as well.

    Amit



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  13. From the original post: It is particularly tragic that pretentious pseudo-science like much of the literature on catastrophic global warming has provoked some people to blithely dismiss large swathes of the most fascinating and solidly validated scientific insights human reason has ever produced

    That is false. The analogy between climate science and this Big Bang pomo-physics is exact. Each has its own reasons to keep pronouncing spectacularly far-fetched findings. That is how to keep the billions coming in from mugged taxpayers. From a man in the field in his article The dark clouds over US astronomy: "without a clear plan for the post-shuttle era, NASA is going to need a steady stream of exciting science results to capture the public's imagination and loosen the purse strings of Congress"

    In the theory of inflation, our universe is just one bubble - there are many other bubbles. So this evidence appears to indicate that we live in a multiverse. How say the people here on that?

    Philosophically "multiverse" is an invalid concept: The universe is the total of that which exists—not merely the earth or the stars or the galaxies, but everything. Obviously then there can be no such thing as the “cause” of the universe . . .Is the universe then unlimited in size? No. Everything which exists is finite, including the universe. What then, you ask, is outside the universe, if it is finite? This question is invalid. The phrase “outside the universe” has no referent. The universe is everything. “Outside the universe” stands for “that which is where everything isn’t.” There is no such place. There isn’t even nothing “out there”: there is no “out there.”

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  14. Context, Gregster, context. The big bank hypothesis doesn't require a multiverse. Outside existence has no referent, true. But in the context in which physicists are talking, they're simply hypothesising about a singularity that led to what we do know -- and outside of that singularity (or any singularity) we can only speculate.

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  15. Peter Cresswell

    But the trouble with the BB Theory is that it requires all sorts of make believe stuff like what has never ever been found (like "dark energy", "dark matter", "anti-gravity" and all manner of extraordinary weirdies what have never ever been detected anywhere, ever & for which no evidence of reality exists). On the other possibility, there was no Big Bang, no "singularity", only a universe of which we have seen only a very tiny bit- not nearly enough of it to make universal BB Thories stick. If, for example, Lerner is on the right track and the only forces responsible for what is being observed are those that are experienced in reality and for which plenty of direct evidence exists (weak and strong nuclear forces, gravity and electromagnetic), then there is no need for all the weirdie intellectual over-reach. No need for turtles all the way down.

    Also, if we accept and pretend that the universe did start as a "singularity", before it underwent a BB process, then there is no "outside" of the singularity. The singularity IS the entire universe at that point (!) and there is nothing "outside" of it to speculate about.

    Amit Cim

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  17. Amit, you're on the right questioning track. The m in "E=mc squared" means mass, and mass is charge rather than weight. More later.

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  18. Also I'd like someone to explain coherently why, if the Universe actually is accelerating outwardly [don't ask how - propelled by magic ex-nihilo dark matter] do our years not become longer?

    Any takers?

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  19. gregster

    "Any takers?"

    No! Not for that one. Even with Lorentz I can not see a way to get out of it and deliver a logical answer to you for that question (one that you'd not immediately be able to blow to smithereens and right out of the water). Perhaps someone can come back with a good answer. In the meantime I'll give out a try so that the objection (and the difficulty in providing answer) can be demonstrated. See what you think.

    OK. How about this? The years are getting longer but we do not notice because we are within the accelerating frame of reference. Our years are longer when measured by someone who is in a frame of reference that is stationary while ours is accererating past him. For us, the years seem to be the same as we always experience. He observes a different result.


    (On a slightly different subject, note that for Einstein, one of his assumptions was that frames of reference are non-accelerating).

    Amit

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  20. CMB hypothesis from observation (!):

    From http://www.haltonarp.com/articles/the_observational_impetus_for_le_sage_gravity
    “Now that we reference the primary reference frame we are reminded that this is yet another strike against the hallowed relativity theory which is supposed to have no primary reference frame. But the existence of the microwave background certainly reminds us that an average over the detectable universe certainly represents an obvious, primary reference frame. Moreover laboratory experiments like the Sagnac effect by Selleri and others reveals the presence of such a frame.

    The objection by Feynman to pushing gravity which was brought to my attention by John Kierein was that objects in orbital motion such as the earth would experience resistance from increased graviton flux in the direction of their motion. The answer, without computation, seems to be that this effect would only come into action at very high orbital speeds because of the very high speed of the gravitons. But in general it should be noted that my observational experience sheds doubt on any extragalactic velocities greater than about 300 km/sec. (rotational velocities in galaxies). This would imply that older objects must come very close to rest with respect to - what else but a primary, or universal reference frame.

    Quantization

    An unexpected property of astronomical objects (and therefore an ignored and suppressed subject) is that their properties are quantized. This first appeared when William Tifft, showed that the redshifts of galaxies occurred in certain preferred values, e.g 72, 144, 216, etc km/sec. Later William Napier demonstrated a periodicity of 37.5 km/sec with great accuracy. The outstandingly important, empirical implication to draw from these, by now exceedingly well established observations, is that the individual velocities of galaxies must be less than about 20 km/sec otherwise the sharp quantizations would be blurred. In turn this implied very little motion in a primary reference frame.”

    Halton Arp features in the YouTube series The Big Bang Never Happened. Worth a look.

    Amit - As far as Albert and frames of reference go, Arp writes there: "the hallowed relativity theory which is supposed to have no primary reference frame. But the existence of the microwave background certainly reminds us that an average over the detectable universe certainly represents an obvious, primary reference frame."

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  21. Halton Arp's obituary in The Telegraph: "From the 1960s, however, astronomers began to discover strange objects that became known as quasars — intense radio sources whose spectra are shifted dramatically towards longer, redder wavelengths of light, implying they are moving away from our galaxy at enormous velocities and are therefore at extreme distances away from us. Arp began looking at quasars and noticed that many appeared to be lying quite close in the sky to galaxies, sometimes in alignment with them. In 1971 he claimed to have found a “bridge” of gas joining a galaxy named NGC 4319 and a quasar that sits next to it in the sky. As the quasar had a far higher red shift than the galaxy, under conventional Big Bang theory it should be millions or even billions of light years further away. Its apparent proximity needed some explaining."

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