Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Cross Currents: Smarter than an astrophysicist

Am I the first to notice this howler in an old Cross Currents post? (unlikely, I know)

Here it is on October 29:

Put simply, the Big Bang Theory violates the known laws of physics. 

I don't even know how to begin explaining why this is stupid, not to mention breathtaking in its arrogance. In brief the author of this item, a layman who gets his science from Genesis, is challenging the prevailing cosmological model for the development of the universe. This model is supported by piles of observable evidence. It provides a comprehensive explanation of dozens of phenomenon. It is accepted by, basically, everyone in the scientific community. But this guy knows they are all wrong because  - whoopsie! - they all forgot to check if their "theory" fits the laws of physics.

Imagine the stupid look Stephen Hawking must have had on his face after reading Menken's article. Dr. Hawking probably asked his medical aid to lift his hand and use it to smack his forehead; then using his voice apparatus, he probably exclaimed: "Wow, a life of research and study, and I never checked to see if the prevailing cosmological model obeys the laws of physics! My colleagues in the astrophysics department at Oxford are all going to kick themselves when they hear about this!"

Anyway, if you're not as smart as Cross Currents and you want to see exactly how all those smarty-pant scientists make their theory work with the laws of physics you can ask Google, and in less than 10 seconds you'll be provided with eighty-zillion scholarly articles, plus plenty of stuff for laymen.  Here, let me steal from one of them:

There are many well-respected physicists, such as Stephen Hawking, Lawrence Krauss, Sean M. Carroll, Victor Stenger, Michio Kaku, Alan Guth, Alex Vilenkin, Robert A.J. Matthews, and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek, who have created scientific models where the Big Bang and thus the entire universe could arise from nothing but a quantum vacuum fluctuation -- via natural processes.  
In relativity, gravity is negative energy, and matter and photons are positive energy. Because negative and positive energy seem to be equal in absolute total value, our observable universe appears balanced to the sum of zero. Our universe could thus have come into existence without violating conservation of mass and energy — with the matter of the universe condensing out of the positive energy as the universe cooled, and gravity created from the negative energy. When energy condenses into matter, equal parts of matter and antimatter are created — which annihilate each other to form energy. However there is a slight imbalance to the process, which results in matter dominating over antimatter. 
I know that this doesn't make sense in our Newtonian experience, but it does in the realm of quantum mechanics and relativity. As Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman wrote, "The theory of quantum electrodynamics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And it agrees fully with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as she is — absurd." 
For more, watch  "A Universe From Nothing" by Lawrence Krauss, or get his book 

Search for more information about great is is that we have laymen who know more than scientists

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