by Liam Scheff
Jan 1, 2010
– The Big Scam
The first thing you should know is that I don’t really believe in the Big Bang. I mean, no, I don’t believe in it at all, for a variety of reasons, which I’ll boil down into a singular potato for you:
I don’t believe it because it’s not true.
Okay, I’ll do better. But it requires some explanation of my particular philosophy.
I am of the opinion that the sciences have taken the place of the religions of the past. That they have inherited the position of ‘answerer of existential questions,’ that used to fall to the Church elders, before the Church was up-ended by Galileo, Bruno and Copernicus – but really, by the relentless march of technological progress by the human species.
Today’s sciences now hold the place of dispensers of great truths, and of great mysteries. “Why are we here? Where do we come from? What are we made of? Why do we get sick? How do we get better? Why do we think these thoughts? Where does our creative spirit come from? Where do we go after we die? What is the meaning of it all…?”
But who answers these questions now? “God is Dead” spake Zarathustra – or Nietzsche, I mean. The church is passé’, declared Voltaire. We are in an age of reason!
And so, these questions fell away from the philosophers, priests and prelates of old, and were gathered up by a new priestly class: the scientists. The inheritors of the mantle of trust and truth. And they did good work, for awhile.
And the relentless surge of technological progress that is the hallmark of our species sped on, and that, in itself, was proof to most people that science answered all questions. Television, CAT scans, Special effects, the MP3…The iPod is proof. Proof that science can’t be wrong.
Or is there a difference between that relentless march of technology, and knowledge? Of knowing, truly knowing, the answers to those large, penetrating, eternal questions: Why are we here, and where do we come from?
In 1927, Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Priest and astronomer, thought better of letting 2000 years of hard work go down the drain, and devised a method of aligning the Biblical story of Genesis with Galileo’s heretical observations and Newton’s heretical physics: “First there was nothing, then there was everything.” Could it be that simple? he must have asked himself, “To put religion back into astronomy?”
“First there was silence on the face of the deep, then the Lord said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.”
First there was nothing, then, BANG. There was everything.
At first, the idea was ridiculed, and seen as a ruse to resuscitate Genesis. But then, it was decided that this emotionally-satisfying Judeo-Christian idea should be treated more generously, and “proof” was sought out to make it stick. And so, proof was found.
The proof constituted the observation that some objects in space are moving away from Earth at a faster rate than others. And if there was a creation ex-nihilo, out of a “central nothingness,” then it stands to some sort of “reason” that the farther out you get, the older the stuff-that-came-from-nothing is. And as some objects were farther away, they therefore must be ‘older.’
(Now, I want to interject, for the record, I’m no atheist. I’m also no fundamentalist. My spiritual life is of deepest importance to me, but I don’t believe that we humans can take logos – the word – and believe that it can easily transmit total truth, in our metaphorical, limited language. So, when I hear “First there was silence on the face of the deep,” I hear a profound poetry, that signals to both truth, and belief. It points to a moment of creation – not THE moment. It is a resounding phrase, and I do love it, but it is not the only phrase that is resounding, that comes from ancient texts, to describe the birth of life, or of us. Interjection completed..now on with the essay).
Where were we…Right. The further out you go, the older things must be.
And so it came to pass, that by looking at the lightwaves that emanate from distant objects, the astronomers who saw them decided that the red light represented the oldest phenomena, and blue, the youngest. And so “redshift” became the measuring stick that proved the Big Bang correct.
Except that it didn’t. Because it also came to pass that a curious astronomer, named Halton Arp, regarded the heavens and noted that the theory did not hold. Red and blue objects were often closely aligned, in fact, touching, stemming from the same cosmic vortexes. Were red and blue signifiers of a singular moment of creation, or instead of an ongoing creative process?
It has been considered by many that Halton Arp’s observations “falsified” the Big Bang theory. (Falsified is a special ‘scientist’ word that, in schoolyard English, simply means, “proved it wrong”). For his trouble, Dr. Arp was banished from his University, and had to flee overseas to continue his research. (Galileo sends his regards, Dr. Arp).
Nevertheless, in subsequent decades, continued blows rained down upon the poor Big Bang. It was seen that there was not enough matter in the visible universe that would explain how it could hold itself together, if gravity were the only force active in outer space.
Oh! I forgot. Underpinning Father Lemaitre’s ‘discovery’ of the Big Bang, was the condition that the only active force in the universe was Sir Isaac Newton’s “gravity.” And gravity was determinable, (though it was a changeable and very weak force), through a mathematical equation. And in applying this math, it was also discovered that nothing really should be as it is, by any stretch of the imagination, and that neither you nor I can be here.
The astronomers were in a bind. They had two choices:
1. Throw out the Big Bang, throw out the gravity-only universe, and start looking for answers, or…
But, what do Priests do when an idea controverts a Biblical fact? They invent something to explain the contradiction.
And so, the astronomers put on their priestly hats and frocks, and began to invent. They invented “black holes,” immense space creatures capable of destroying galaxies, that were also invisible! They invented “dark matter,” immensely weighty material that comprised 90 plus percent of the universe, that was also invisible! And “dark energy,” which…yes, was also invisible, and could not be measured…
The Big Bang, as it now exists at all, rests on these hallowed ideas. Father Georges Lemaitre’s Gospel exists because of invisible space monsters.
And so, I don’t believe in the Big Bang.
But I’ve been anxious to ask a real astronomer, one who practices at the level of the current state of the art, to respond to my bothersome suggestion that this is all, at present, an irritating hoax, which is siphoning tax dollars and research years into a very real black hole. I spotted my chance last week, when the Wall Street Journal published a brief editorial by astronomer Lawrence Krauss, director of the Origins Institute at Arizona State University.
Mr. Krauss was writing on the “thrilling, possible breakthrough” that “leaked a tantalizing hint” on dark matter. The experiments took place in a giant hole in the ground – the deep Soudan Mine in northern Minnesota – where “something remarkable” was “discovered”:
“The actual result? Two pulses were detected over the course of almost a year that might have been due to dark matter, CDMS announced on Dec. 17. However, there is a 25% chance that the pulses were actually caused by background radioactivity in and around the detector.”
Thrilling, indeed! The published research paper itself is less thrilled, however, at the “chances”:
“Based on this revised estimate, the probability to have observed two or more surface events in this exposure is 20%; inclusion of the neutron background estimate increases this probability to 23%. These expectations indicate that the results of this analysis cannot be interpreted as significant evidence for WIMP interactions [those that ‘might indicate dark matter’], but we cannot reject either event as signal.” – Results from the Final Exposure of the CDMS II Experiment, Dec. 2009 (Note – thanks to Dave Smith of PlasmaResources.com for this citation).
Why would a non-significant event be talked up in the Wall Street Journal? (A paper read by investors…who may not be very critical of the science…who might be looking for an investment opportunity?) Who can say?
This is one of many such holes in the ground where Big Bang research is being conducted. The most famous hole is the eight billion dollar (and then some) Large Hadron Collider (also called CERN), in Geneva Switzerland, of which Mr. Krauss made comment:
“[M]y colleagues and I had concluded that in order to understand what we see, it is quite likely that a host of new elementary particles may exist at a scale beyond what accelerators at the time could detect. This is one of the reasons there is such excitement about the new Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Last month, it finally began to produce collisions, and it might eventually directly produce these new particles.”
“These new particles?” What new particles? Answer: Imaginary particles – those that “quite likely may exist” in order for the children of Lemaitre to understand what they see.
The question being asked by the scientists and engineers who’ve spent years and billions of tax Euros digging this giant hole is, “Can we collide sub-particles quickly enough to ‘recreate’ the Big Bang?” Nothing has come of it yet, nor of any previously existing giant hole they dug, but who can stop them from digging?
And so I put it to Mr. Krauss, in the comments section of the Wall Street Journal online:
“Present one study, any one study, that gives non-falsified evidence that we human beings can indeed measure a ‘beginning of time,’ and please make sure this number hasn’t been altered 30 times for political reasons, and been begrudgingly reached by ‘consensus agreement.'”
“Better yet, is Halton Arp correct? Is Redshift now falsified – ie, not a true measure of distance – and distance, or movement ‘away’ from a presumed ‘galactic center’, well, not really ‘distance’ at all, but something else entirely?”
Mr. Krauss wrote several responses, in which he exclaimed, “I have read a number of openly iignorant [sic] responses, a bunch of irrelevant political responses but yours concerned me because it has the aura of knowledge, but contains little.”
He added, “Your statement “What is invisible, and cannot be seen, measured, or located, does not exist,..” represents the antithesis of scientific progress.”
He continued, “blah blah blah…since you are such a pompous person I will respond briefly.” And provided a list of ideas which were “evidence for big bang,” including, “prediction of existence of microwave background with observed temperature,” and “prediction of observed hubble [sic] expansion.”
I held him to the questions he did not answer, and asked after his tendency to ad hominem, and he wrote the following:
“I am done with this particular piece now, and have other things to move on to, so this will be my last note to you. But in the spirit of the season I will apologize for expressing in print the frustration raise by your statements.. There are, alas, some arguments not worth pursuing, and some people not worth trying to convince. By predictions, I mean that one set of observations leads to a theory that predicts the result of another set of observations that have not yet been made.. in this case perhaps 1-2 dozen observations. When the results of those observations are in agreement with the predictions this suggests the theory that led to the predictions is on the right track. In the case of age, the GR predictions of expansion allow us to determine a dynamical age of the universe based in inferences using the presently observed rate of expansions. Then when that age is compared to the age of stars and globular clusters, derived using completely independent physics (nuclear reaction rates and the equations of hydrodynamic equilibrium) one derives precisely the same age. Similarly when one uses the derived age to predict what the present temperature of the microwave background should be, one gets the correct number. THis [sic] is how science is done. Happy holidays. I cannot give a physics course here, but if you want more details look in one of my books, or someone elses.”
Indeed…If you can find any one reproducible bit of evidence, so resilient as to allow itself to be called a “fact” in there, I’d be happy to buy you a drink. Any of his points, by the way, dissolves into controversy when prodded even slightly. That is, try to track the history of what the temperature of what the microwave background radiation “should be,” and you’re in for a journey.
I asked once more after those two questions, but he never did supply that paper, nor did he answer the question about Dr. Halton Arp.
Which leads me back where I started. I don’t believe in the Big Bang, because scientists tell me, by their actions, that I have no reason to trust them. That is, I don’t believe it, because it’s not true – it’s not in evidence.
What is in evidence, on the other hand, what has been observed, is a universe powered not by gravity, but by electricity, by the flow of ionized particles, bubbling and pinching, exploding in plasma and diffusing in aurora, pushed and pulled, prodded and goaded, excited and flung across lightyears, by the electro-magnetic forces that live in – that are – outer space.
I invite Mr. Krauss and his colleagues to have a look, and soon, because we, the tax-payers, are getting a little fed up with a scientific authority that insists on wearing Papal clothes.