Friday, September 12, 2014

Exotic Cosmology: Conclusion

Nearly five hundred years ago, scientists (if I may call these people scientists) must have thought they were really onto something when they invented the idea of phlogiston. They had “known” for centuries already that things were made of the primitive elements of earth, air, fire, and water. The fact that there was some fiery substance present in some things that made them burn seemed obvious. Yet when they tried to learn more about the properties of phlogiston through experimentation, they couldn't quite nail it down. It simply didn't behave the way they expected.

The problem laid at the root of the theory. This wasn't a case where they had the right idea and just needed to stick with it. They were looking in completely the wrong direction. The truth was exactly the opposite of their theory:
  • When a substance burned, phlogiston wasn't released into the air; oxygen was removed from the air.
  • Objects in enclosed spaces didn't stop burning because the air had become saturated with phlogiston but because the air had been depleted of oxygen.
  • Phlogiston was not a poison that saturated the air and made it unbreathable; instead the air was unbreathable because it had all of its oxygen removed.
What seemed to be the most obvious explanation (that there was something inside things that made them burn) turned out to be completely wrong. No amount of tweaking the phlogiston theory could save it. It was doomed from the beginning. It just took the scientific method of testing, observing, and repeating to discover how wrong it was.

When we consider modern cosmology, the Big Bang doesn't sound unreasonable at first hearing. We can see the stars moving away from us. If the universe is continuously expanding, then we need only extrapolate backward to conclude that at some point in the distant past, all matter very close together. It's obvious. Yet no matter how reasonable it sounds, some things just don't add up – things like the flatness problem, the missing matter and energy, the horizon problem, and the missing monopoles. There's also the unsettling coincidence that we appear to be at the very center of the universe.

To be certain, scientists have “explanations” for all these things. They invent “exotic” theories to explain their failed predictions. It's like phlogiston all over again. However, unlike phlogiston, we can't test these fanciful cosmologies as easily. The nearby stars, for example, move only according to the visible matter near them. In other words, there is no room for “dark matter” within 13,000 light years of us. Yet we are told that the galaxies which are millions of light years away are made mostly of dark matter. How would a skeptic disprove that? We can't fly there to do any experiments. Similarly, scientists say that there really is no center of the universe and it would look basically the same from any vantage point. Really? How do we test that? We can't even fly to the next star, let alone a star millions of light years away, to see how the universe looks from there. We only know what the universe looks like from our vantage point.

Scientists have liberty to be very creative. It is by thinking “outside the box” that has led to many inventions and scientific discoveries. But creativity is still governed by reality. The continuous tweaking to the very reasonable idea of phlogiston could only possibly lead to naught because phlogiston didn't exist. It was only through the scientific method that we were able to arrive at the truth.

Today, secular cosmologists aren't bound by the scientific method. They are free to propose the most outrageous explanations without fear of having their theories disproved by experimentation. Oh sure, their theories might come with predictions but even if the predictions fail, they remain undeterred because they can simply invent a still more outrageous theory to explain the failed prediction.

The Big Bang theory is simply a modern version of phlogiston. It might seem reasonable at first but it is completely contrary to reality and can only be kept afloat by continuously invoking very unreasonable sub-theories. These sub-theories, though, lie outside scientific inquiry. They can't really be observed or tested. They aren't as much theories as they are stories. Secular scientists believe them not because the scientific evidence for them is overwhelming but because they refuse to consider the alternative.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Exotic Cosmology Part 4: Dark Matter and Dark Energy

In my last post, I talked a little about the “Flatness problem” that exists in Big Bang cosmology. The term “flat” applies to the shape of a model that describes our universe as it exists. When the supposed Big Bang began, there had to be a precise balance between the rate of expansion and the rate the expansion slowed. A too fast expansion would have created an “open” universe where no stars could have formed. A too slow expansion would have created a “closed” universe” where all the matter would have fallen back together in a big crunch. Our universe is “flat,” that is, it has not expanded too fast or too slow but “just right.”

The precise, fine-tuned balance necessary between expansion and slowing is represented by the Greek letter omega (W) which has the mathematical value of 1. Matter produces gravity. At the beginning of the Big Bang, all the matter in the universe existed in a single point. As space began to expand, matter began to move apart so there had to be enough matter to slow the expansion enough to allow stars to form. The problem is, that even with all the visible matter in the universe, it would not create enough gravity to slow the initial expansion. It wasn't just a little bit less, it was only about 10-20% of the amount of matter needed to bring W to 1. Also, as scientists observed distant galaxies (which always form a spiral shape), they noticed the stars in those galaxies did not move in the ways predicted by the Big Bang.

With the amount of matter visible in the universe, the Big Bang is not a viable theory nor does it accurately describe the motions of distant galaxies. Rather than questioning their theory, though, scientists assume the matter is still there, we just can't see it! They actually believe that about 85% of all the matter in the universe is invisible.  They called this invisible matter, "dark matter."

When scientists add this hypothetical “dark matter” to their predictions of the movement of stars in distant galaxies, it does make their calculations match what is being observed. However, when we observe stars in our own galaxy, specifically those within 13,000 light-years from us, we can see that they are only affected by visible matter. The mass that we see around our own sun is attracted by visible matter and there is no room for any extra, “dark” matter.

So dark matter is one of those things that we cannot observe directly on earth. Even though it's supposed to represent the majority of all matter, it exerts no gravitational affect in the nearby universe. It simply another one of those exotic theories that cannot be tested nor observed and is invoked seemingly to just smooth out problems with a flawed theory.

But that's not the half of it. Scientists have recently discovered in the last couple of decades that the universe isn't just still expanding – it's accelerating! But what force out there could be causing the universe to expand more rapidly against the braking force of gravity? They theorized that space isn't really empty but is comprised of a force they termed “dark energy.” And if you thought that the idea of most of the matter that exists is invisible sounded “exotic,” then hold on to your socks. Scientists believe that about 75% of the universe is comprised of “dark energy.” So, according to Big Bang cosmology, the part of the universe that we can actually experience, observe, and test only represents about 4% of all there is. The rest of it is invisible!

Now, I'm not opposed to the idea that there may be particles we haven't yet discovered. The existence of dark matter or dark energy does not affect the creation model in the slightest. If such things exist, scientific inquiry might lead us to them. However, the Big Bang theory virtually demands that they exist. It sort of reminds me of Carl Sagan's “Invisible Dragon.” Secular cosmologists tell us it's there but they have a long list of reasons why we can't see it. I'll tell you another possible reason why we can't see it – maybe it's not there!

Maybe dark matter and energy are like phlogiston. Maybe they're like epicylces and deferents. They might seem to help explain what we observe but later we will find out they never really existed. They could just be symptoms of a flawed premise – a premise that is being kept afloat by continuously invoking fanciful explanations. Also like phlogiston and epicycles, maybe someday these too may be discarded when the underlying theory is abandoned.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Exotic Theories Part 3: Inflation Cosmology

The Big Bang model of the universe is a theory brimming with difficulties – I mean difficulties beyond the obvious, “where did all the matter come from” and “what caused it to begin expanding.” The problems I'm talking about are a little less obvious but still very substantial. Please note too that these aren't my objections to the theory. These are objections raised by secular scientists and discussed in this Wiki article.

The Horizon Problem: If we looked toward the eastern sky, we could see galaxies that are estimated to be 10 billion light years away. We could see the same thing in the western sky. So if one galaxy is 10 billion light years away in one direction and another is 10 billion light years in the other, then they would be 20 billion light years apart from each other. Are you with me so far? OK. Now, secular scientists date the universe to be around 13.8 billion years old. Assuming that is true, the light from the “eastern” most region of space has not had enough time to reach the “western” region. Even though we can see both ends, they should not be able to see each other because their light could not have traveled the 20 billion light years of distance between them in only 13.8 billion years. Are you still with me? OK. Here is the problem: everywhere we look, the universe appears to be homogenous.

If I dropped an ice cube into hot water, the cube would melt and the water would cool a little. Eventually, it all becomes the same temperature. That's homogeneity and it always happens eventually once the two things begin to interact. It seems to have already happened in the cosmos. The cosmic background microwave radiation, for example is the nearly the same everywhere we look. But how could the entire universe have evened out so uniformly if all the regions have not had enough time to interact?

The Flatness Problem: Matter produces gravity. Objects in motion have kinetic energy. When the supposed Big Bang happened, matter began to expand. Once the expansion began, kinetic energy would have carried the matter forward while gravity would have been slowing the expansion. Let me see if I can explain it in lay terms.

If the rate of expansion were too slow, gravity would have quickly pulled everything back into a Big Crunch. If the expansion were too rapid, the matter would have accelerated too quickly for stars to form. From the very beginning there must have been a perfect balance, a “fine tuning,” between the expansion and the slowing or else the universe could not exist as it is now. The precise balance of 1 is represented by the value Ω. The margin is so narrow as to be incredible. This illustration helps visualize a too fast or too slow expansion.

Missing Magnetic-monopoles: The Big Bang would have been a hot event, or so I'm told. Such an event should have produced magnetic-monopoles (a magnet with only one pole). Now, I confess the physics behind this prediction is a little beyond my understanding. Monopoles themselves sound a little “exotic” to me and when we consider that we've never observed such a thing, I'm not sure why anyone would predict there should be many of them. But the fact that there haven't been any found sure has cosmologists concerned. Failed predictions are usually evidence against a theory and the fact that the Big Bang predicts magnetic-monopoles yet none have been found should raise more than a few eyebrows. Nevertheless, scientists confidently stand by their model and seek a new theory that explains this lack of evidence!

Enter now Inflation cosmology! To help smooth out some of these serious difficulties in the Big Bang model, it was suggested in the 1980s that in the very early seconds after the initial expansion, the universe when through short period of hyper-expansion where it figuratively exploded from about the size of a grape to trillions of miles across in just a fraction of a second. They say such an event would solve a few difficulties.

First, they suppose that the homogeneity we observe occurred prior to the hyper-expansion, while all of space was still close together. When inflation occurred, it carried the homogeneity out with it.

Concerning the flatness problem, the inflation supposedly forced the value of Ω to that fine-tuned balance of 1. One web site compares it to a how a balloon smooths out as it inflates. I'm not sure how well the analogy describes the solution but, as the article says, most cosmologists are satisfied with it.

Lastly, cosmologists use inflation to solve the missing magnetic-monopoles problem. According to them, inflation was not only a rapid event, it was a cooled event. That is, as the inflation began, the super hot Big Bang cooled during the inflation epoch by about 100,000 times to just under the temperature where the monopoles would form. How convenient.

So what is the evidence for all of this? We'll, it's pretty much like the evidence for Oort cloud – they simply need it for their theory to be viable. It's a sort of fudge factor to get around some of the serious difficulties they know exist with the Big Bang. What caused inflation? They don't know. What stopped the inflation? They don't know. Why was it cool? They don't know. How did it reheat? They don't know. Actually, the idea of inflation is even less credible than the Oort cloud. In the case of the Oort cloud, at least we know that icy bodies exist in the universe. We've never seen an event like the inflation epoch and there's nothing in physics that would otherwise suggest such an event could or should occur.

I think scientists have become numb to what's credible. After all, once you accept the idea that all the universe could literally poof into existence out of nothing, then why couldn't there also be an imaginary event like inflation that immediately followed it? Once again, this isn't a case of going where the evidence leads. They know the Big Bang happened in spite of all its difficulties. Even the most serious problems with the theory could never cause them to even question it. Rather, it would only spur them to become more and more creative in explaining how it happened regardless. How could the Big Bang ever be disproved if scientists are allowed to invent exotic theories to explain away any objection?

Monday, August 11, 2014

How Petty

I'm taking a quick break from my series to relate something that happened to me personally.

I've been super busy with work lately. I had a person quit so I'm having to cover his shift until I can get someone trained. I'm scheduled 55-60hours each week for the next month or so. It sucks. Anyway, I got off about 8:30PM this evening and stopped by Red Box. It was my plan to do nothing else but relax, sit on the couch, and watch a cheap movie. I rented “Heaven is Real.” I hadn't watched it in the theaters because, frankly, it didn't look that interesting. It's sad that so many Christian based movies have cheesy dialogues poorly read by mediocre actors. I hate spending $10 only to be mildly entertained. However, I'm not adverse to spending $1 to be mildly entertained to I thought watching this particular movie would be an okay way to spend a couple of hours.

So, I change my clothes, heat up a cup of noodles, and pop in the DVD. Immediately I noticed a distinct whirring sound which I knew wasn't good then received a “disc cannot be played” error. I popped out the DVD and looked at it. The poor thing had been scratched to pieces. It's not unusual for discs to have scratches but this one was far worse than your typical left-it-on-the-top-of-the-entertainment-center type of scratches. They were deep and went in every direction. In other words, it was intentionally scratched.

Now, I can't help but thinking that the movie was vandalized because of its subject matter. Some militant atheist out there hates the idea of a movie actually talking about heaven like it's a real place so he rents the movie, defaces it, and returns it knowing that it can no longer be watched. How petty.

I guess it doesn't surprise me that an atheist would do this. I will grant that there are some atheists who would have a problem with destroying someone else's property but I know that there are plenty of them out there who wouldn't see a problem with it at all. Let's face it, if a person doesn't believe there is an absolute moral authority, then why should he care if he breaks something that's not his?

Oh well. I guess he's made a statement though maybe not the one he intended. He's shown me what I already know to be true. Some atheists are hypocrites. Some atheists are amoral. Some atheists are whiners. Some atheists are petty.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Exotic Theories Part 2: The Oort Cloud

What do you know about comets? When I was young, I used to think that comets hurtling through space were similar to meteors entering earth's atmosphere; I pictured it as a fiery ball with a long tail of flames. Comets were cool! I know now that comets are made of ice and the long tail we see is actually ice particles being blasted away from the body of the comet as it passes near the sun. Eh, maybe not as cool as a fireball.

The fact that comets lose some of their mass each time they pass near the sun has a bearing on the age-of-the-earth debate. Obviously, if a comet becomes smaller with each orbit of the sun, eventually it must disappear all together. Also, each time a comet comes near the sun, it also risks collision with a planet or the sun itself which would end its life immediately. Simple reason, then, forces us to acknowledge that comets can only exist so long. Their long tails are a visual testimony of their short livedness. Eventually, they will either exhaust all of their matter or crash into a planet. If our solar system were really billions of years old, they should all be gone by now. End of story.

One very famous comet is Halley's comet which passes by our sun once every 75 years. It is consider a “short period,” one who's orbit takes less than 200 years. Since Halley's orbit is only 75 years, in just one million years it would have passed by the sun more than 13K times! No one believes that is possible and I'm not suggesting that's what secular scientists believe. Actually, secular scientists believe the maximum life span of Halley is about 40,000 years. If the universe is less than 10,000 years old, this isn't a problem at all. However, it doesn't comport well with the idea that the solar system is millions or billions of years old. If the solar system is really billions of years old, why are there still so many short period comets left? In order to rescue their theory, secular science must find a source that can replenish comets as they are exhausted. After all, since there still are comets, and we know that most of them can't have been circling the sun for billions of years, these comets had to come from somewhere more recently.

One possible source that had been suggested is the Kuiper belt, a region of space beyond the planets known to have several, small, icy bodies orbiting about 4½ billion miles from our sun. It has been suggested that on occasion, these objects would collide with each other and get knocked out of orbit, fall toward the sun, and become comets. However, the Kuiper belt has a very round and stable orbit. Most people consider its orbit to be too stable to be a source for short period comets.

Overlapping the Kuiper belt is another group of icy bodies known as the “scattered disk.” The objects in this disk have a much more elliptical orbit which could be described as “dynamic.” They consider this to be a far more likely source for short period comets.

Whether or not the Kuiper belt or the scattered disk are viable sources for short period comets could be debated. I will grant this, though: we can observe these regions of space. We've never seen an object ejected from these regions and become a comet but at least we know these regions are there.

The point is moot though because even the secular scientists themselves are not proposing that Halley's comet, or similar comets known as “Halley-family comets” came from either of these sources. They are claiming there is still another source. They've dubbed this 3rd source, “the Oort cloud.”

According to Wikipedia, “The Oort cloud,... named after Dutch astronomer Jan Oort, is a spherical cloud of predominantly icy planetesimals believed to surround the Sun at up to 50,000 AU” [bold added]. Note the use of the word, “believed.” As we read through the entire Wiki article, we see a lot of other conditional descriptions; words like “conjecture,” “thought to be,” and “hypothesized” abound. The Wiki article is brimming with “facts” about the Oort cloud – things like it's composition, size, origin, location, etc. It's amazing that we can know so much about something that we've never seen and really aren't sure even exists!

From the second paragraph of the article, we read, “Although no confirmed direct observations of the Oort cloud are made, it may be the source of all long-period and Halley-type comets entering the inner Solar System, and many of the centaurs and Jupiter-family comets as well.” Interesting, huh? It sounds to me like an admission that the existence of the Oort cloud was born solely out of the need for a source of comets. I take that back. They're not implying any such thing. They are admitting it outright. Also from the article, under the heading, “Hypothesis,” we read the following:

In 1932, the Estonian astronomer Ernst Öpik postulated that long-period comets originated in an orbiting cloud at the outermost edge of the Solar System. In 1950, the idea was independently revived by Oort as a means to resolve a paradox: over the course of the Solar System's existence, the orbits of comets are unstable; eventually, dynamics dictate that a comet must either collide with the Sun or a planet, or else be ejected from the Solar System by planetary perturbations. Moreover, their volatile composition means that as they repeatedly approach the Sun, radiation gradually boils the volatiles off until the comet splits or develops an insulating crust that prevents further outgassing. Thus, Oort reasoned, a comet could not have formed while in its current orbit, and must have been held in an outer reservoir for almost all of its existence.

You can read it for yourselves. The Oort cloud was hypothesized seemingly for no reason other than the need for a source of comets! It about as scientific as saying comets are made by unicorns. We might not see unicorns making comets but since there are comets they had to come from somewhere, right? So the comets themselves are scientific proof of the existence of unicorns!!

Most people agree that science is founded upon observations. Here, we are talking about a hypothetical source of comets that cannot be observed so their belief is the Oort cloud is no more scientific than my belief in God. The existence of the Oort cloud is simply necessitated by a belief in an old universe. It's akin to a faith belief except they see it as more plausible because it's a “natural” explanation rather than a supernatural one.

There's nothing within the understanding that God created the universe that disqualifies the possibility of an enormous cloud of icy bodies orbiting so far away that we can't see them. But it's precisely because we can't see it that makes the entire thing seem suspect. I'm withholding judgment until we have real evidence. Until we actually find such a thing, the entire Oort cloud seems like nothing more than an exotic theory.