Dismissing Inflation

On rare occasion the ICR manages to publish articles on recent news items in an approximately timely manner. Today’s DpSU, “‘Smoking Gun’ Evidence of Inflation?” by Jake Hebert, is one example, attempting to counter the rather inconvenient announcement of evidence supporting the cosmological hypothesis known as inflation.

While quicker than is typical for the ICR, Hebert is by no means the first to comment on this issue. Discovery Institute cdesign proponentsist Stephen Meyer was quoted as saying that

…it’s really odd for people from a Creationist perspective to deny a theory that says the universe began out of nothing physical.

Naturally, many of his fellow creationists have a decidedly different view. Continue reading

A New Oldest Galaxy: z8_GND_5296

Keck TelescopesWe have a new contender for the title of “oldest known galaxy”: it has a redshift of z = 7.51, corresponding to an age only 700 million years younger than the universe as a whole, and has been assigned the code z8_GND_5296. Discoveries like this happen fairly often, as there is a sustained effort of astronomers staring at little red dots with similarly arcane designations in the hope of teasing out a little more information about the early evolution of galaxies. Continue reading

The Triune Universe

Triune universeMoving backwards, last weekend the ICR released a new That’s a Fact video: Three in One. The premise of the video is that the structure of the universe somehow reflects the trinity.

For centuries philosophers and theologians have tried to explain the Trinity. Some have tried but our attempts often fall short. However, God in His wisdom provided an example in creation that is a parallel to His own Triune existence—the universe.

Here’s a transcript of that video, with commentary interspersed to show why this is one of the ICR’s sillier ideas: Continue reading

The Huge Large Quasar Group

The Huge-LQGThe cosmological principle is the idea that, ‘viewed on a sufficiently large scale, the properties of the Universe are the same for all observers.’ In general, this seems to hold true – but Brian Thomas’ most recent article, Massive Quasar Cluster Refutes Core Cosmology Principle, is in reference to an apparently contradictory observation.

The homogeneity aspect of the principle places a limit on the size of structures in the universe, though exactly what value this limit has is not universally agreed upon. But according to a recent paper, A structure in the early Universe at z ∼ 1.3 that exceeds the homogeneity scale of the R-W concordance cosmology (open access), the newly-discovered “Huge Large Quasar Group” (Huge-LQG) is significantly larger than even the largest calculated value would allow. Continue reading

False Counsel

Experts – who needs them? In the face of the sheer number of scientists and other educated people who agree with evolution, creationists need to find some way to dismiss their expertise. Andrew Schlafly has his “best of the public” concept, claiming that these people (generally, those that agree with him) are “better than a group of experts.” For his November 2012 Acts & Facts article James J. S. Johnson too asks What Good Are Experts?

Buried deep within his article Johnson does make some good points about not trusting arguments from authority, especially when the authority is talking about something beyond their area of expertise. But these small nuggets of wisdom – so easy to acquire elsewhere – are few and far between. The bulk of the article, as you might expect, is an entirely nonself-critical attack on the expertise on anyone and everyone who disagrees with the position of Johnson and the ICR. He begins his article like so:

How should we react to “experts” who smugly announce that the Bible is disproven? What about science “authorities” who have assured us that the Higgs boson particle “proves the Big Bang,” contradicting Genesis 1:1? Do experts ever jump to unwarranted conclusions? If so, how do we know? And do experts ever inflate their credibility by stretching their credentials—if a scholar holds an astronomy Ph.D. is that a qualifying reason to believe the man’s opinion about biblical Hebrew?

The Higgs boson reference is cited to Jake Hebert’s September article, covered here. I am yet to find anyone actually making the quoted claim, and it’s unfortunate that the ICR is running with it as if somebody actually did. All in all, not a great start. Continue reading

Another Piece in the Puzzle

One of the cosmology news stories from earlier this month involved data from the South Pole Telescope which helped show that the period of reionisation – which is when galaxies first began to form – happened over a shorter timespan than previously thought. They found that it was complete as early as 750 million years after the big bang:

The data provide new constraints on the universe’s first era of galaxy formation, called the Epoch of Reionization. Most astronomers think that early stars came to life in massive gas clouds, generating the first galaxies. The energetic light pumped out by these stars is thought to have ionized the hydrogen gas in and around the galaxies, creating “ionization bubbles” millions of light years across that left a lasting, telltale signature in the cosmic background radiation (CMB). This relic light from the early universe is visible today everywhere in the sky and was first mapped by UC Berkeley physicist and Nobel laureate George Smoot, founder of the BCCP.

“We find that the Epoch of Reionization lasted less than 500 million years and began when the universe was at least 250 million years old,” Zahn said. “Before this measurement, scientists believed that reionization lasted 750 million years or longer, and had no evidence as to when reionization began.”

Continue reading

Quasars, Mitochondria and Archaeopteryx – What I Missed Because I Had Homework

There have been three Daily (pseudo)Science Updates from the Institute for Creation Research since I last had long enough to systematically make fun of them. First:

Quasars

Wednesday’s DpSU was called Water Near Edge of Universe Bolsters Creation Cosmology. It has in fact been so long since then that two other wordpress blogs that I read – Exposing PseudoAstronomy and The Sensuous Curmudgeon – have already covered it. It reads like follows: Continue reading

Remember That Sky Map?

Here it is again:3D Sky Map

Yes, Brian Thomas is today using a similar study, which (apparently) shows that the “Universe’s Matter Is Too Clumpy“. Amusingly, the study’s primary author’s name is Shaun Thomas, which is going to make this rather difficult… Brian Thomas says:

[Shaun] Thomas and his colleagues used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which represents an unprecedented “zoom out” view of the universe, to analyze the 3-D distribution of hundreds of thousands of galaxies. Seen from such a great distance, and assuming a naturalistic origin, matter should appear to be twice as smooth (i.e., evenly distributed) as it actually is. However, the matter is “clumpier than astronomers expected.”

With his source being this article from Wired Science.

About that “twice as smooth”… Continue reading

3D Sky Map and the Latest in DpSU’s

I would hope that you are all aware of the recent (ish) map from the 2MASS Redshift Survey. If not, take a look:

Click Through For a Much Bigger Version

Astronomers Unveil Most Complete 3-D Map of Local Universe

According to Brian Thomas, ‘Science’ Writer at the ICR, this map “Shows Big Bang Even More Unlikely“. This article is a borderline Type AE (see the Terminology page) in that Mr Thomas takes a study and bends it to suit his message, but it also has elements of Type Io as he also goes and talks about other things only sometimes related.

What does Mr Thomas think are the problems with the Big Bang in the light of this map? First, here is his description of the event:

The most popular nature-only explanation of the origin of the universe is the Big Bang, which proposes that all space, time, and matter were once densely packed into a tiny volume. For some unknown reason, this nugget exploded, yielding elements in ever-expanding space that eventually self-organized into such structures as stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies.

This isn’t a very detailed description, but we’ll live. See WP for a much better one.

[A] problem with the Big Bang is the horizon problem, which is the question of why temperature is so remarkably uniform throughout the universe when light has not had enough time since the Big Bang to travel throughout space and evenly distribute radiation.

Ah, the (former) horizon problem. I wonder if Mr Thomas has ever heard of Inflation?

Also, the Big Bang should have resulted in equal amounts of matter and antimatter, but the real universe is dominated by matter.

This is genuinely an unsolved problem in physics, and somebody will (I’m pretty sure) get a Nobel for this, but not for running around claiming it proves God and creationism. Basically, there are people spending their careers trying to discover what the differences between matter and antimatter really are, and whether their could be some small bias in favour of matter. Did you here about the CERN antimatter thing? Only now are we getting a good look at the actual particles, a nice change from near pure theory.

the First Law of Thermodynamics states that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed. Big Bang beliefs violate this law by positing the appearance of matter from no prior material.

You understand that creationism is exempt from such things by the ancient scientific principle of Goddidit.

At the very earliest parts of the Big Bang process, the general rules of the universe were a bit f**ked, as it were. It’s not unbelievable that thermodynamics did exist at the time, although I doubt that’s the solution here. It’s more a case that thermodynamics just doesn’t apply here – the Big Bang is the beginning of time, so it’s not a case of more matter being added to the the universe, as it was already there… Something like that, anyway. Go ask a physicist…

The Big Bang also violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics—which states that some orderliness is always lost when energy or matter are converted to other forms—by positing the creation of orderliness in the form of stars, galaxies, and galactic clusters, all with insufficient cause.

Is cause a quantifiable physical quantity now, like Force and Mass? 😀

But in all seriousness, this is not a valid criticism either. I once saw a video demonstrating planetary accretion on the ISS, using rice as a substitute for the rocks. I can’t find the source, but here’s a link to somebody else who evidently has, in order to prove my sanity. Basically, what happened is that there was a whole to of rice floating randomly in a bag, as they would under zero-g conditions. Over time, however, their minute gravitational attractions caused them to accrete into clusters. You might also know that if you have a group of different sized objects (or was it weights? I can’t remember. I haven’t been five for some time now… Basically, I’m talking about small pieces of sandstone in my personal experience.) and you roll them down a slope, they organise themselves out. Are these violations of the Second Law?

No. What is happening in all cases is that gravitational potential energy is being lost, and is turned into waste energy. This more than makes up for the organisation of the substance, whether it be rice, stone or hydrogen. There is no loss of Entropy and therefore no violation of the Second Law.

Now onto the actual study:

About 20 years ago, the first results from three-dimensional maps of sections of the sky showed unforeseen mega-structures. In stark contrast to the random and even distribution of stars that a Big Bang would have produced, galaxies are instead grouped into clusters and superstructures.2 And the galactic clusters, tendrils, and voids exhibited in the new 3-D map serve as a blatant reminder that this universe is not random.

Like prior star maps, this [new] one shows huge, intricate structures in space that simply should not exist unless they were put there on purpose.

They’re still random, just not quite white-noise random. This kind of thing is actually predicted by Inflation as I alluded to to above. You might be wondering about how the universe can be both homogeneous and contain mega-structures. Basically, the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is largely uniform, but after a certain level of detail is no-longer so. As the CMB was influenced by the density distribution of the early universe, we see similar pattens in the universe today. Said density distribution and it’s consequences is what is predicted by Inflationary Theory. As an aside, while the CMB was a successful prediction of the Big Bang itself (which raises the question of how, if the Big Bang did not happen, people theorising that it did predicted exactly what is observed), Creationists have never offered a convincing idea as to why it’s there and has the correspondence it does with the observed reality. And no, as you might have worked out, Goddidit doesn’t cut it. I want something funny, like lunar bukkake.

And that’s it, really, apart from the obligatory Biblical quote. Today, however, it isn’t even relivent, being merely a longwinded title for God:

he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth…that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in. (Isaiah 40:22)

Till next time…