Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cosmology in Crisis—Again! (Wal Thornhill)

Wal Thornhill on the observable and logical Electric Universe versus the deeply flawed and unscientific "Big Bang" theory:

“Nothing comes from nothing. Nothing ever could.”
—from The Sound of Music.

It seems the toughest thing for scientists to grasp—that a cherished paradigm like the big bang can be wrong. The latest crisis was reported in Physorg.com on May 5th: “Study plunges standard Theory of Cosmology into Crisis.” The study of dwarf companion galaxies of the Milky Way support the view that a “modified Newton dynamic” [MOND] must be adopted. “This conclusion has far-reaching consequences for fundamental physics in general, and also for cosmological theories.” One of the researchers involved said, “it is conceivable that we have completely failed to comprehend the actual physics underlying the force of gravity.”

In my news of April 21st I wrote, “we are so far from understanding gravity that we don’t know the right questions to ask.” There I proposed “Electrically Modified Newtonian Dynamics,” or “E-MOND,” as the solution for solar system stability. However, the problem involving the dwarf companion galaxies is more fundamental to cosmology. The first problem in physics is to choose the correct concepts to apply to our observations. That determines which physical laws to apply. But that’s not the end of it. We must remain aware that all laws are man-made and provisional—they are subject to modification on appeal. Historically, cosmologists have denied that electricity has any relevance in space. They have refused to consider how the laws of plasma physics might apply to their otherwise incomprehensible observations. Provisionality is a formalism to mask dogma.

Richard Feynman, lecturing his students on how to look for a new law in physics, said, “First you guess. Don't laugh; this is the most important step. Then you compute the consequences. Compare the consequences to experience. If it disagrees with experience, the guess is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It doesn't matter how beautiful your guess is or how smart you are or what your name is. If it disagrees with experience, it's wrong. That's all there is to it.”

Sounds simple? Perhaps that is why we see so many proposals for new laws of physics in the mad scramble for a Nobel Prize. But the emphasis is all wrong. It encourages wild guesswork and burgeoning complexity. Complexity facilitates endless “twiddling of knobs” to match new “experience.” Theories become practically unfalsifiable and unscientific—as witness, “string theory.” Underlying the guesswork in cosmology is the paradigm of the big bang. A paradigm is a system of belief that tends to be taken completely for granted. The guesswork is limited to modifications that don’t disturb the conviction. Questioning the established paradigm is resisted. The case of “the modern Galileo,” Halton Arp, is a classic example where the big bang “disagrees with experience” —and the experience is declared to be wrong. Feynman could usefully have added that it doesn’t matter how many people believe a theory, “If it disagrees with experience, it's wrong. That's all there is to it.”

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1 comment:

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