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

Our Weird Universe

Better instruments have gotten us better data, but it's still not enoughPerhaps the most hypocritical of the arguments used by the Institute for Creation Research that we’ve encountered recently is the claim that the use of what Brian Thomas called “rescuing devices” mean that an argument can be dismissed apparently out of hand. That is to say, should a scientific theory commit the heinous crime of adjusting itself to fit the evidence, it must be flawed.

What makes this hypocritical, of course, is that that kind of thing describes young Earth creationism in a nutshell – we saw an example of that in the very next article. But Thomas did have a point: the classic example of Ptolemy’s model of the solar system shows that modifications to a theory can be a sign of a failed paradigm, but in the same way that not all people who have their ideas dismissed are Galileo, if a theory changes to fit the evidence that doesn’t meant that it’s broken and does not describe reality.

It’s a question of balance between dogma and unfalsifiable pseudoscience, though it’s not properly a spectrum as creationism tends to manage both simultaneously. In his August Acts & Facts article (yes, there’s a point to this post), Jake Hebert asks “Why Is Modern Cosmology So Weird?” The answer, according to him, is that it’s the fault of “ad-hoc” additions to the Big Bang to make it work. And you can probably guess his conclusions from there. Continue reading

Quantum Fluctuations

All those quantums. (What? We haven't had a good sized picture in days...)

In A Universe from Nothing?, Jake Hebert (yes, him again) opens: “Explaining the origin of the universe is an enormous challenge for those seeking to deny their Creator: How could a universe come from nothing?”

His article consists of a botched attempt to refute claims that virtual particles could be the underlying cause of the big bang, which is apparently put forward by Lawrence Krauss in A Universe from Nothing (which has been mentioned a few times over the last year or so), and by Stephen Hawking elsewhere. 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…