stan hummel

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Does anyone understand the Big Bang theory?

It is said that the theory of relativity is understood by several people (or a few more)... but i'm curious if anyone understands the Big Bang theory (+Infation). because it isn't so obvious at all.
why i think so, don't know exactly... just suppose... but assure nobody is going to refute this theory! just a few small doubts.
but the real problem is... do we really fully understand what it all might mean?
however (for facilitation) we won't be considering fates of the entire universe.
rather more interesting is what happens with us... real issue is the fate of our lost mind.
At the beginning we have something very small. our future universe is not the size of galaxy, earth, grain of sand... is much more tiny... just a POINT!
But the essence of this consideration is not vanity or divinity that point.
The real problem is moment (or thought process) in which the Real Universe turns into a Mathematical Universe.
know, it isn't easy to understand with such a modest possibilities of our mind.
however, if seems to us it's absolutely not a problem, just a logical consequence... so we probably have already crossed the border! but it's quite other story!
so how we are supposed to understand the universe when we don't have the slightest idea what we want to understand?

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    Jun 18 2013: According to the uncertainty principle, it's fundamentally impossible to measure distances smaller than Planck's length and time intervals smaller than Planck's time. In principle, we cannot say that the universe was smaller than Planck's length. Also, prior to Planck's time "after" the big bang (a purely mathematical moment in time), there was no time as such. According to it's own proven statements, science cannot know what was before Planck's time "after the big bang". We cannot say that the universe appeared according to the laws of physics, because there were no such laws (no universe - no laws).

    It seems to me that time count did not start from 0, it started from 1 Planck time interval. That first tick of the quantum clock must have been the beginning. That's the first moment in time when the concepts "before" and "after", "here" and "there" were established. We cannot say what was before: before was uncertainty.

    I think, it's an ultimately useless question to ask what was before the time when time began. Even logically, we start spouting nonsense. I once heard someone say trying to explain big bang to me "there was time when there was no time". Duh...

    What I have noticed contemplating these deep questions is that at certain point, we come to a nonsensical self-referring statement like "there was time when there was no time". And when we realize that what we say is self-refuting, it's time to stop. That's the bottom of it. There is nothing else to understand.
  • Jun 14 2013: BB is a scientific version of " let it be light !"
    You are not supposed to understand it, it needs belief.
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      Jun 15 2013: I agree. What you are suggesting does involve a violation of the Scientific Method which disqualifies the BBT from being called Science and puts it in the category of Spiritual, or Metphysical.
      • Jun 17 2013: Edward,

        I know that you said that you rather not see me commenting on your comments to others. But, wouldn't you think that if scientists work on the Big Bang theory then the BBT is scientific? That maybe there's something you don't understand about science?

        I mean, if I were out of science, and I suspected that something is not scientific, yet I knew that loads and loads of people working in a scientific discipline work on that, I would rather consider investigating the issue carefully before affirming in my outsider ignorance that such thing is not scientific. Some scientists might even try and explain that to you should your answer prove too hard to find. But just affirming it from little knowledge looks rather flabbergasting.

        I will not try and explain because our experience has been that my comments are mostly irrelevant to you. Therefore this is just an invitation for you to think about it.

        See ya, and now I leave you alone. Sorry if this disturbs your peace.

        P.S. By the way, natasha is quite wrong.
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          Jun 17 2013: For the record [off-topic]-- I DID NOT say I do not want you to comment. I cannot dictate who comments about what. What I said was I hope you don't mind if I do not respond to your comments about my comments made expressly to a third party. I am presently following that personal policy. Thank you for understanding Obey. Continue seeking truth.
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        Jun 17 2013: Agreed with Entropy... regardless whether you reply, I think that maybe you just don't understand the scientific method fully. Because the big bang theory properly follows just as anything else.
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          Jun 17 2013: 100% agreed sir. Many people do agree with Entropy (no pun intended). I do not understand the BBT fully. I will not challenge the idea that you and Entropy have a better understanding than I do of the imagined (aka theoretical) mechanisms which allowed a pre-existing, primeval "atom" to suddenly split open and spew forth its millions of billions of trillions of tons of matter and energy causing the Cosmos to be born. This was not a typical explosion because it had no single location in space. It happened everywhere at the same time which means the Universe has no center and looks the same from wherever you are in it!! This characteristic is called “homogenous”. Also, the BBT asks us to accept the idea that everything is always in motion because the universe is constantly “expanding” like raisins in a loaf of bread, coins glued on a stretching rubber band, dots on the surface of an inflating balloon, or frequency shifts in the light from distant stars. I do challenge is the assertion that the BBT explains in a full and scientific manner the What, When, Where,and How of the creation and operation of the Universe. For such an explanation to be accepted one must act on Faith, not on scientific evidence, because there is no such evidence for MUCH of the Theory. As for my understanding of the Scientific Method, it is a prescribed investigative procedure which consists of: Observation; Measurement; and Experimentation to formulate, test, and modify hypotheses. It includes 6 essential steps: 1) state goal; 2) acquire all available relevant information; 3) state expected outcome; 4) demonstrate actual outcome; 5) record all results; 6) compare expected outcome (3) to actual outcome (6). Please advise if that is not correct. The BBT does not "properly follow just as anything else", as you claim, the Scientific Method.
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      Jun 15 2013: Although its basis is what we observe and can deduce. Like cosmic microwave background, and the expanding universe, looking back through time with the Hubble telescope etc. Honestly I don't know enough about it to know how confident scientists are in the various elements of it.

      The Genesis creation story is just one of many and may have been influenced or borrowed from Mesopotamian culture such as a flood story .

      Most cultures or even tribes seem have traditions fulfilling a similar role - explaining how what they thought of as everything and people got here. Whether it involves a garden and making a women from a rib, or a rainbow serpent, I'm sure not any of these would be as reliable as something developed with the benefits of modern science.

      Like we now know our sun is just a star, one of billions in this galaxy, and there are billions of galaxies.
      That the earth orbits the sun and that the rotation of the earth causes the day night cycle.
      The sun is a giant nuclear fusion reactor.
      That there is a force we call gravity and atoms of various elements etc.
      That there are 8 planets (sorry Pluto) and a whole bunch of TNO's.
      That the earth is about 3.6 billion years old and the universe is about 13.6 billion years old.
      While we were not here to see it all, I suggest there is some basis behind all this.

      Most creation myths understandably have the Earth and humans at the centre of it all. The evidence we are now aware of suggests our planet and place in the universe is not so central as primitive peoples once speculated.

      Also, the hypothesis has evolved to the theory we have today. If new information supports improvements or a complete overhaul what we have today will no longer be the prevailing model.

      Whereas the two stories in Genesis don't change to conform with our improving understanding of the universe. We are stuck with liquid water and plants before the sun is created as one of the two great lights, and the question of incest with Adam and Eves kids
  • Jun 14 2013: Physicists, and many others, certainly demonstrate a level of understanding of the Big Bang Theory, but it is also certain that their understanding is not complete.

    For example, physicists have described the singularity that preceded the big bank as "infinitely small", as though that phrase has real meaning, whereas it is actually meaningless. Particularly when considered in the empirical context of science, which requires measurements, it is clear that it is impossible to measure something that is infinitely small.

    Your last question may be the most important. It is entirely possible that we are not supposed to understand the universe. It is possible that human understanding of the universe will forever remain incomplete. Since the earliest days of mankind, we have been filling in the gaps in our understanding of the universe by making up stories that have no solid basis in reality. We can continue to do that or we can recognize that our understanding of the universe is incomplete and become comfortable with not knowing.

    Physicists should have the intellectual honesty to clearly describe what is actually known and what is not known. Much of what they claim to "know" is their interpretation of their mathematical model of the universe, and those interpretations have never been confirmed empirically. For example, no one has measured any attribute of the singularity.
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    Jun 13 2013: I do .... I think it is a great comedy on TV.
    • Jun 13 2013: Finally---I can't believe that this discussion went this far without someone noticing
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    Jun 13 2013: I don't understand why anyone would believe in the Big Bang; however lots of smart folk do. So perhaps one of them could enlighten me.
    Do the Gas Laws apply in outer space ?
    If not, why not ?
    If yes, then why should we think that hydrogen atoms are attracted by their gravity to give birth to stars ?
    Simple question; not been easy to get an answer, so far.

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      Jun 13 2013: You haven't been able to get an explanation on the creation of stars!?

      Which Gas Laws are you referring to? have you read up on it?

      And here's the explanation for the creation of stars:

      (I do not understand how anyone can really think that the earth is 6000 years old)
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        Jun 13 2013: Hi Jimmy

        From your first link.
        This is known as Boyle's law which states: the volume of a given mass of gas is inversely proportional to its pressure, if the temperature remains constant. Mathematically this is:
        where k is a constant (i.e. NOT Boltzmann's constant).

        From your second link
        Stars form from clouds of gas and collapse under self-gravity. The collapse is stopped by internal pressure in the core of the star. During the collapse, the potential energy of infalling hydrogen atoms is converted to kinetic energy, heating the core. As the temperature goes up, the pressure goes up to stop the collapse.

        On earth the volume of a gas increases as the pressure decreases until pressure is ambient. Ie atmospheric, 14psi ish. In space the ambient pressure is zero ish. Therefore the gas will expand forever ish.
        On earth the inherent gravity in the hydrogen atoms is much less than the repellent forces, so the gas expands. I see no reason for space to be different.

        Yes, I have read up on it.
        The age of the earth has no effect on the problem.

        • Jun 13 2013: Is space different than on earth. No, but then space is mostly empty and even the densest nebula is still better than our best vacuums.
          Stars tend to be created in clusters where there are 10's of thousands of solar masses in one spot.
          Although the possibility of a uniform material self collapsing under its own gravity is possible is seems to be not likely. A shock wave from a nearby exploding star would be a good enough trigger after which gravity would take over.
          How did the first stars get started then?
          The expansion of the universe appears not to be uniform and the density differentials are enough to start gravity collapsing hydrogen into stars which would kick start the rest of creation.
          Don't forget that stellar nurseries are also areas of dark mater which makes the dynamics more difficult to understand.
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          Jun 13 2013: space is very different than on earth in some aspects. try going up there without a suit. gas laws suck your lungs right out your mouth. We have atmosphere. We have air pressure. We have gravitational resistance. We have air resistance. We have friction. Space does not. You find nothing to contradict creationism because none of these things have anything to even do with the earth supposedly being 6000 years old.
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        Jun 14 2013: Hi Gordon,

        ""No, but then space is mostly empty and even the densest nebula is still better than our best vacuums""
        That would make gravitational collapse even less likely.

        ""Stars tend to be created in clusters where there are 10's of thousands of solar masses in one spot.""
        What is the evidence for even one star being 'created' ?

        ""A shock wave from a nearby exploding star would be a good enough trigger a....""
        I've heard tis said, but also that it would take 3 or 4 surrounding the gas to go off at once. It's not gonna happen.

        ""...the density differentials are enough to start gravity collapsing hydrogen into stars which would kick start the rest of creation.""
        All the atoms are hurtling away fro a common source. By definition they are getting further from each other. There is no force in this process which would encourage this hypothetical collapse.

        Dark Matter is a totally imaginary mathematical convenience. However if it existed, it would be everywhere & have little effect on the Gas Laws.

        @ Brendan.
        You didn't address the question.

        Come on Big Bangers. If you believe this happened, surely you have satisfactorily thought through this problem.

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          Jun 15 2013: Peter why don't the gas laws apply to the sun and all the hydrogen etc float off as you seem to be implying. Gravity I guess.
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        Jun 15 2013: Hi Obey.
        For the same reason that the atmosphere doesn't leave earth. The earth has a gravitational pull on the gases. If the earth was to disappear you may be sure the atmospheric gases would waste no time in dispersing.
        Likewise the sun. The sun has a large mass exerting a gravitational pull on the surrounding gases. No one really knows, but I would bet that the sun is not merely a ball of gas.

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          Jun 17 2013: I'm still not seeing how gas laws even have anything to do with the big bang theory.
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        Jun 17 2013: Hi Brendan,
        The matter formed by the BB is postulated to be hydrogen gas. The other elements were supposedly made in stars. These stars were allegedly formed by the hydrogen clumping together by gravitational forces. You know the trouble we have compressing gas; it does not readily compress, it naturally tries to disperse. The gas laws are based on this inherent property of all gases. My quest is to try & understand why we think gas should compress spontaneously into stars in outer space, when the Gas Laws would appear to prohibit this.

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          Jun 18 2013: Thanks Peter, I think I finally got what you're asking. Correct you are that the first atom is supposedly hydrogen. Shortly after came helium. What actually happened is that a few of the elements, not just hydrogen, came from the big bang, and then all of those compressed differently to form different stars which is why we see nebulae forming. Gravity was able to still bring them together because they were still so close to each other.

          Nebulae are baby stars so to speak. They are the process of these gases slowly coming together and when they do, it is like a huge nuclear reactor in the core. They had so much energy that they kept getting bigger and were so hot that they could make even newer elements. Some of it escapes the star and cools into dust, which is what came to form planets, asteroids, etc.
    • Jun 15 2013: The gas laws are about smallish quantities of gas, where the gravitation of the gas is so small that ignoring it did not cause trouble. Stars and such from where there's such amounts of gas that they have enough gravitation to collapse. I truly can't understand why would people think that mathematical equations describing how gases behave in our little planet (the gas laws), would apply to quantities that Boyle, for example, never worked with.

      Even those laws are referred to as laws for "ideal gases" because they describe tendencies, but those people knew that real gases had their caveats due for example, to different atomic sizes, polarities in the molecules, et cetera, and that big quantities did not behave that uniformly. Just look at our atmosphere. Quite the complex behaviour (due to many factors, but also because of quantity). Also, our atmosphere has not completely escaped away because of gravitation. Nobody has put our planet's gravitation in jail form breaking the gas laws so far. Anyway, factors other than the general tendencies described by those laws have to be taken into consideration, and the enormous gravitation of enormous amounts of hydrogen are no joke.

      That's it. Easy: gravitation.

      P.S. I hope nobody has forgotten that even changes in gravitation and atmospheric pressure at different altitudes influence stuff enough that behaviour at sea level is used as standard.
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        Jun 15 2013: Hi Entropy,
        I don't remember reading anywhere that gas laws only apply to "smallish quantities of gas". Presumably the repellant forces between the atoms are magnetic, I don't know. However if the gravitational attraction is A, and the repellant force is 2A, then they are never going to attract. Also bear in mind that these atoms are rushing away from a common source, so their momentum is carrying them away from each other. Gravitational force between 2 atoms is negligible anyway, but at a few inches separation will be non-existent.
        The atmosphere is a totally different case. The mass of the earth is strong enough to exert a gravitational force on the atoms in the atmosphere; although I think the lighter gases can even escape that.
        All the textbooks give gravitation as the cause; along with exploding stars etc., but none have explained just how it overcomes the repellant forces.
        Beats me how folks can have such faith in the BB & yet this fundamental point has not been addressed. Sometimes we have to admit we don't know; but I guess funding is hard to come by without coming up with answers. :)

    • Jun 15 2013: It is not that gas laws are only applicable to smallish quantities of gas. It is that gas laws describe each only one kind of phenomena. The phenomena where they were developed, mostly the industrial revolution dealing with steam machinery and such. Obviously, they would teach you this in high school, and in engineering, since you need those mathematical formulations in your everyday job, which does not involve dealing with gases in stars. Even then those laws are not taken in isolation. Each describes one tendency, but to properly understand a system you have to consider more variables depending on the expected effect. Gas laws are approximations to ideal conditions for ideal gases that ignore other forces because the approximations suffice for certain problems.

      The filling of a vacuo in "normal", earthly, situations, is not due to repulsion between the molecules, but to kinetic energy and not enough attraction between molecules (too few). In your formulation you should therefore forget about repulsion until the molecules are very, but very, close. So you are left with gravitation. Now, remember that the gravitation is due to all the molecules, all the molecules attract each other. It's not a 1 to 1 thing. To illustrate, if we had this line of molecules:


      The one farthest to the right would be "feeling" the attraction from all the ones to its left. Less from the farthest one and more from the closest one, but still attraction from all of them. This is true for all the molecules. Overall, the forces are almost nothing in small quantities, but in huge quantities they are enough to have the system collapse onto itself. Once molecules are too close then there's repulsion, but if there's enough gravitation we get lots of interesting stuff going on, like stars.

      I hope that was clear enough.
    • Jun 15 2013: A few more points:

      1. The atmosphere is not a totally different case. Gravitation is gravitation is gravitation. No matter if it's exerted by a planet or by huge amounts of gas molecules.

      2. I am not "Big Banger" and I do not accept the Big Bang out of faith. I accept it as the current explanation given the current evidence. I would not care one bit if it turned out to be completely false. There's lots of open questions about the Big Bang, but Boyle's law has never been one of them.

      3. Now I see that the link provided by Jimmy already explained a lot. Here it goes again:
    • Jun 15 2013: Hi Peter,

      You are demonstrating some very good critical thinking. You have certainly demonstrated that the physicists have done a bad job of explaining the Big Bang.

      The "repellent force" in a gas is ordinary heat, the kinetic force of the movement of the molecules.

      The BB explanations that I have read and viewed say that expansion of the universe cools the gasses to near absolute zero, when the force of gravity, the total gravity of the gas clouds, overcomes the kinetic force of the molecules, eventually causing collapse into stars. To make the math work they had to invent an inflationary period, of unknown cause, during which the universe expands at an accelerated rate. I have never seen or heard any explanation for the origin or role of dark matter in the early stages of the Big Bang.

      I am not supporting the BB, just trying to add to the discussion. The BB seems plausible in some respects, but it does seem that it requires a lot of fudging to explain the universe that we see around us. That could be due to very basic flaws in the theory, or it might be due to physicists with poor communication skills. I try to keep an open mind. We are looking at the observable universe through a very tiny window.
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        Jun 15 2013: Hi Barry.
        Thanks for the info. Heat is the repellant force. That makes sense although this must be at a lesser temperature than, say steam. Heat manifests itself as vibration, so the atoms kind of bounce off of each other; is that right?
        So these atoms are rushing away from a common point at colossal speed. There is nothing to slow them, nothing to cool them. By the time they cool to absolute zero are they not going to be many miles appart? Let's say not, & they get attracted by gravity. As soon as they come into close proximity is not the temperature going to rise & the gas laws reinstated. I assume this is the case as scientists have postulated various exploding star scenarios to regain credibility.
        All this seems to stem from the Red Shift which is translated as an expanding universe. There are other possible causes of the red shift. Maybe we got that right, but extrapolating all the way back to a single point seems a stretch in itself.
        I don't think anyone understands the BB. But lots of professionals have a vested interest in claiming they do.

        • Jun 16 2013: As I understand it:

          The big bang was not an explosion, just an expansion in which space itself was expanding.. The best explanation for this that I have found is at this site:

          The main force that caused the deceleration of the of particles was the total gravity of the universe. Since the total volume of the universe at that time was much less than it is today, the effect of gravity was much greater. For the same reason, the particles were not necessarily miles apart. I have been trying to find an estimate of the temperature of the universe at the point when hydrogen molecules started to collapse into stars, but so for have had no success.

          "I don't think anyone understands the BB. But lots of professionals have a vested interest in claiming they do."

          After looking at many web pages about the big bang theory, and finding very little information about the formation of the first stars, I can understand why you think this. That point in the evolution of the universe is critical to the theory. One of the assumptions of the theory is that matter was distributed fairly uniformly at that point in time. That implies that the first generation of stars were all of roughly the same size. If the first stars were all small, there would never have been any supernovas and the universe would not look anything like what we observe today. Similarly, if the first generation were all super massive, today's universe would be impossible. So the fact that the universe looks as it does means that the first generation of stars must have had a predominance of medium sized stars. In turn, that indicates that the temperature and density of the universe must have been within calculable limits.

          So, based on the big bang theory, it should be possible to calculate that temperature and density in two ways, going from the BB forward, and starting with the current universe and going backward. Are the two calculations compatible?
        • Jun 16 2013: This seems to be the kind of equation to look for Peter:

          Gravitation and pressure are taken into consideration. As I said, Boyle never presented a problem for the formation of stars.

          As per Big Bang itself, it is not an explosion of material into empty space, it is an expansion where space itself expands. The energy at the beginning was so immense that there was no hydrogen yet. Not even neutrons and protons, but some sort of plasma. What would cool it down? Expansion itself. The same amount of energy in a bigger space means less temperature. Space was so small and hot when the first protons and neutrons formed, that many reacted and formed helium-4 by nuclear fusion. WIkipedia has a good primer on the [proposed] stages of the Big Bang (some better supported than others, of course, scientists don't know everything):

          In order to understand the Big Bang, you have to go to resources that explain as many details as you are interested in, at least up to the point where you would have to study nuclear physics. However, attempting to understand it from Earth-like experiences and too basic an understanding of such things as Boyle's laws, or imagining that the Big Bang was an explosion of packed hydrogen atoms, won't help you much.

          There's only so much that can be explained in a forum like this. Anything else is up to you.

          See ya.
      • Jun 16 2013: Unfortunately, creationists seem to be much more interested in figuring out ways to deny any science that contradicts their beliefs than in reasoning whether the points they try and make really make anything against those sciences. Here Peter attempts to use middle-school simplified science (at best), mixed with mere arithmetic, for problems that demand advanced math and proper understanding of physics.

        If Boyle's laws were a problem for the Big Bang, then physicists would already know that, and would have either abandoned the idea, or there would be loads and loads of articles saying how Boyle's laws won't allow for star formation. Yet, I did not find a single reference saying that because of Boyle's laws, stars should never form. Not a single reference saying that gases don's have gravitation. Given that I am the ignorant, were I to propose that Boyle's law is a problem, I would have no option but to think that either my understanding of Boyle's laws and of gravitation are wrong, or there's something I am not taking into account. I would therefore check as much information as possible. Probably find those description that say that gas laws apply under certain circumstances and that other forces have to be taken into account, etcetera.

        But creationists think the other way around. If semi-understood middle-school physics give them an opportunity to deny science, they use it no matter how ignorant they might look.

        Me? I admit my ignorance every single time and go try and figure things out before opening my big mouth. If I am still convinced, I still present my ideas humbly admitting that there might be something I'm missing. Even within my own area of research, when my results conflict with those from other people I ask if there is something I'm missing.

        The Big Bang is not a complete model. It's just the best model so far. That does not mean that it has middle-school-level problems.
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      Jun 15 2013: To keep it short and sweet, it's not an explosion. It was an expansion. The end. That's how it happened. I don't see what else there could be to ask. It expanded into what we know of today.
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    Jun 13 2013: I'm glad I found this, I would like to enlighten you that anyone can understand it. You just have to want it and keep your mind very open to anything being possible. All you must do is educate yourself and it's pretty easy. Special relativity and General relativity are perceived as more difficult to understand than they really are. The big bang was not actually a bang, that's just what creationists use in defense. When you add everything up in the universe, you get 0, so it may very well be that everything is nothing.

    The origin is not very small, it is infinitely small to be precise. We know very well what we want to understand, and that is a unified theory. We're very close there are only about a dozen universal constants we don't understand yet.

    When it is said people don't understand special relativity what it actually means is that people can't possibly perceive what it actually is. In fact, when it was originally theorized it was estimated that only Einstein and his colleague understood it. I just want to say that it would be very easy to understand both this and the big bang if you choose to educate yourself fully on it. Once seeing all of the ways a theory it's pretty understandable. I hope you choose to learn a lot about it!
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      Jun 13 2013: I second this!
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      Jun 15 2013: Do you agree that most of what you offer as Cosmogony for Idiots is not Science as defined by the Scientific Method?
      • Jun 15 2013: When I read Brendan's comment I see no cosmogony for idiots. I see nothing unscientific either. I just see an invitation to read about the science in order to understand it. An invitation that says that it is not so hard if you're willing to make the effort. The invitation contains some advances of what those reading about it might find. But they don't say "that's it." They say read and figure it out.
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          Jun 15 2013: I can see how you interpret my "for idiots" comment as derogatory, but I did not intend it to be such. There is a series of books which propose to explain things which are not easily understood in such a way that anyone (even idiots) can understand them. I think Mr. Olson should get credit for being the first (I believe) to do one for the BBT. No offense intended. You don't see any violation of the Scientific Method in: "When you add everything up in the universe, you get 0, so it may very well be that everything is nothing."? The Scientific Method I know does not accept "may very well be" as factual evidence. Do you seriously believe that the average person can "read and figure it [cosmogony and cosmology] out"? Not likely Entropy, not likely. I really think you and I are fixed-wired in the Contentious Position and I find it most unproductive. Based upon that belief I hope you will not be offended if I do not respond to your commentary on my remarks made to others. Keep studying amigo!
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    Jun 16 2013: I don't really understand gravity, or what an atom or electron is, or what energy really is.
    Does anyone?
    I can do all sorts of calculations, and design technology according to the science that makes stuff that works, but at its essence the cosmic and quantum is counter intuitive and extremely complex.
    So a time before atoms exists as they do today, or even a time before time existed (does that even have meaning) stretches my poor brain.
    Lucky there are smarter folks around.
    And I guess science doesn't require a total understanding in order to develop models that reasonably fit the evidence.
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      Jun 16 2013: Obey,

      I must say that I really appreciate you being a voice of reason here on TED. Keep up the good work!
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    Jun 13 2013: I'm no expert, but what I gather is that there was absolutely nothing going on, and then suddenly there was something. The change from nothing to something, is in itself fantastically powerful in terms of energy and thats why the explosion is still flying apart billions of years later.
    As for how this came about; this is totally incomprehensible to anyone - and thats why the word miracle or mystery can still be used to describe it.
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      Jun 15 2013: I think you share in the average (maybe above) person's understanding of the BBT. What is clear is that it does not comply to the Scientific Method. It is embraced as truth by faith, not by evidence or experimentation.
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        Jun 16 2013: Hi Edward,

        I'm not sure everyone who thinks there may be something to the BBT embraces it in the same way evangelicals hold to the Genesis stories.

        To me its just the prevailing scientific model looking at a time very different to the universe we see today.

        At least it acknowledges observations of atoms, elements, billions of galaxies, gravity, cosmic background microwave radiation, expansion, the age and size of the universe unlike most creation myths.

        Isn't expansion evidence that stuff was at least a little closer together at some time in the past.

        Isn't observing galaxies billions of light years away evidence that the universe is billions of years old.

        If they improve the theory or discard it for something better in light of new information, then that will be the prevailing model. Although some elements of the BBT seem fairly robust.

        All science is provisional in a sense although some parts are more established then others and less likely to be totally overhauled.

        I can deal with this ambiguity rather than have certainty in something far more speculative.

        I can't say I fully comprehend the early stages of the universe or what was before, if before has any meaning before time and space. But I'm not sure how positing an equally if not more inexplicable universe creating agent helps. Saying a god spoke the universe into existence doesn't really explain the detailed mechanism of how it happened. And then you have to explain the existence and origins of the hypothetical universe creator, with no reliable evidence or observations or testing possible.

        If a universe creating god could exist outside time and space, why not the preconditions of the universe?

        Anyway back to your comment, maybe some latch on to the BBT like religious people to their dogmas, but for others its a bit more nuanced position. I suggest something that takes account of what we now know about the universe is likely to be more reliable than primitive creation stories.
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          Jun 16 2013: The comparison I am interested in is between the BBT and the Scientific Method, not the BBT and Creationism. Please recognize you introduced Creationism into this conversation in a desultory manner.. I have zero interest in arguing about how flawed the Creationist position or how godless the BBT is. This conversation is about whether anyone understands the BBT or not. I say that if the BBT was fully compliant to the Scientific Method there would be no need for the question to be asked. No one asks if anyone understands Dirac's Constant or Newton's gravitational constant. In a way the question is self-answering, and the answer is "no". Please defend the BBT against charges that it is misrepresented to the non-scientific community as being much less callow than it really is. This conversation is not about ID or Creationist thought. Thank you Obey! Be well sir.
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        Jun 16 2013: Edward you said accepting bbt is faith. i just added some context comparing it to faith based creation stories.

        I'm not sure why you saying BBt is faith is on topic and me saying it isn't in the way some alternatives to the bbt are faith based isnt.

        While I respect your right to express your displeasure when people express an idea outside what you think is on topic, you don't get to decide what others think is relevant to the conversation. We are a diverse bunch and any topic or comment may spark any number of ideas people should be free to discuss.

        I stand by my points:
        - that it would be false to assume everyone who holds that the bbt is the best model currently available do not do so in the way some hold to religious creation stories
        - the bbt has more explanatory power and fits what we can observe better than any other alternatives i am aware of.

        if its the best we have then its the best we have until something better is developed.

        I do get your point that the BBT is not as concrete or testable in the way Newtons laws of motion are. We can not create universes in the lab. I tend to think theoretical physics still fits in the realm of science if it develops models that conform with observations or you adjust the model. WE can agree to disagree here on the definition of science.

        I suggest if physics and the universe was not so complex we would not be asking the question
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          Jun 16 2013: Science is about Truth, not about "the best we have". I made no comment regarding you being derogatory. I observed that you were desultory in bringing Creationism into the discussion. You go ahead and roast Creationism Obey, I cannot stop you. I can only remind you it is not the topic of this conversation. That's all I have. Fare well!
        • W T

          • +1
          Jun 16 2013: Desultory: Adjective

          1.Lacking a plan, purpose, or enthusiasm.
          2.(of conversation or speech) Going from one subject to another in a halfhearted way; unfocused: "desultory conversation.

          New vocab word for me.
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        Jun 16 2013: Creation stories are some of the most poetic and imaginative human constructs we have and part of religious traditions important to many people.

        Genesis, even when translated to English has some powerful resonating verses and profound themes.

        Conforming with our scientific understanding of the universe in 2013, not so much.

        I guess I see all science as only ever an approximation of the truth. Hopefully getting closer and closer and filling in gaps based on evidence.

        Theories must stand or fall on empirical evidence and are always open to falsification.

        Newtons laws were the best we had for centuries but didn't work so well at the quantum level.
        We improved or built on them with the theory of relativity.

        While testing the BBT is not the same as testing acceleration due to gravity, my understanding is there is testing.

        Predicting background radiation consistent with a big bang then finding it is the scientific method in action I guess.

        Positing the universe is static and then finding the universe is expanding via redshift falsifies the steady state hypothesis. Positing the expansion is slowing and then finding it is accelerating is also the scientific method in action and is used to refine the models.

        The science we had before Einsteins special theory of relativity was the best we had, he made it better, closer to the truth. Further discoveries have confirmed or improved on his work. Science is never the whole absolute truth.

        Desultory. I guess that is better. I need to be more careful reading the tiny writing on the phone. My bad. I'll repair my comment above.
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    Jun 12 2013: Really it is not that hard to understand?

    What about this do you not understand?
    • Jun 14 2013: I just watched the video link you posted.

      Is this what Americans are watching?
      No wonder your country and its people are joke.
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        Jun 14 2013: I know wasn't it funny? You Germans need to lighten up, maybe drink a beer.
    • Jun 15 2013: I was this close to make the same joke.
  • Jun 18 2013: A little observation here is that some people will tell versions of the events described about the Big Bang, often deformed, and rely on that to deny that the Big Bang is science. I am puzzled about this mental attitude because, to me, if I hear something like the universe was this small, and there was no time, and such, rather than accusing scientists of not being scientific, I would be curious to understand how they came to those ideas/conclusions. But no sir. Better deform as much as possible whatever pseudo-claims you have heard and then plug your ears, lest some knowledge inadvertently enter your ears.
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      Jun 19 2013: good point. i guess some have looked this more than others on both sides.

      perhaps something similar could be asked of those who think the bbt is the best we have.
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    Jun 17 2013: I kinda had a vision once about the "big bang" ..

    but it was visual .. or multi-dimensional ..

    And from that .. I kinda lost any sense of the arrow of time .. from it, the big bang is eternal .. and it is in every single instant according to the arrow-time convenience.

    But in the vision, it has a kinda side-time and none of that stuff can be anything except words.

    So all of god and math and science is really silly stuff .. but good enough to walk on the water of perception.

    The vision is this:

    The smallest thing more than zero is the universe. from it all dimensions explode - but none of them exceed the smallest thing.

    Just the word "thing" is enough. Or even the desire to have the word "thing" is enough.
    Or even bein able to have the desire is enough. From that - are infinite universes, infinite dimensions - more than any element can comprehend.

    All is contained within 1/infinity = next to nothing = everything. Thus 1/infinity=infinity. Unity = not nothing.

    The entire shape of all manifest is "not not". Compressed as !=

    Oddly, in the manifest "not" is the same expression as "equal".

    But the expansion 0 = not not not is not true nor is anything beyond not not .. odd and even are the same expression.
    Any expression of notness > 0 is the universe, all that is less than not is zero.

    So .. one gets this truth:

    Life is the infinite journey from not nothing to zero.
    This is otherwise known as entropy.

    My observation is that life actually consists of the resistance against entropy - inflections on the universal gradient of the reverse arrow.

    It further looks like each inflection creates sub-inflections which diminish infinitely to the physical expression of 1/infinity .. and that might well be the quantum limit - the scale upon which any inflection becomes infinite.

    LOL! - All that we can "have" is "death" - all that we "can be" is "life".
    we have and we can be - choose and be damned!
  • Jun 16 2013: Existence seems to demand the roundness of a three dimensional sphere. Can non-existence exist? Can there be a 2 dimensional plane that is not made of matter that has implication on matter without being of matter? If you look at the pinwheels of galaxies, as big as they are, they seem to be flung out relatively flat and thin--as if the arms of the spiral orbit the center on the edge of a 2-D wafer. I'm perplexed that we can talk so much about the nature of matter and atoms but after a giant star produces a neutron star or "black hole" there is no explanation of the matter these things are made of. Neutron stars are obviously spherical and exist in 3 dimensions. They must therefore be explained in terms of elements of matter. I asked similar questions of the so-called "black hole" and wondered how can we call something like that a "hole"? Is it a sphere in three dimensions made of matter with certain properties which must be explained in terms of elemental matter?, or is it flat--a two dimensional region of "implication" which bears consequence on matter but isn't matter itself?

    Is the reason we can't see a "black hole" because unless we are looking perpendicular to it, it disappears into flathood? If it's not flat, should we continue to call it a hole? If you assume that "gravity" causes a star to form why should anything exist after a star explodes? If something remains that has enormous attractive power one must ask the chicken or egg question ie. was there the presence of some phenomenon to cause the collapse which is preserved and added to? When a black hole "feeds" is it just that matter has come close which is not on the precise axis with the "hole"? Or is this nuts? Either it's a hole or a sphere. And if it's a hole, which becomes invisible if we look at it from a parallel edge, we have to realize that we are talking about non-existence as existing. When something exists and doesn't exist, it comes into line with things that exist on two places at once.
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    Jun 16 2013: Good question by the way.

    Just reflecting on your last sentence, we may not have the information or the cognitive capacity to assess and understand everything about the universe and its origins. We are products of time and space and our senses evolved to deal with medium sized things not the quantum and the cosmic.

    And we are talking about a time very different to the universe today. Before atoms etc. The physics of the universe today is hard enough.

    I guess individual capabilities vary too.

    The fact we as a species have learnt so much is amazing. High School students no more about the universe today than the greatest minds thousands of years ago. I'm confident we'll understand more and more, but there are likely to remain gaps. In fact when you figure something out it sometimes leads to more questions.

    Also do most people really understand how gravity works across great distances, gravitons and why mass attracts mass anyway. We are familiar with its effects but I suggest most of us really don't understand gravity, atoms etc.

    I suggest if most of us can't really grasp forces, energy and atoms at a fundamental level except for dumbed down models we will more than struggle with the BBT.
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    Jun 15 2013: I guess so. It seems pretty straight forward.
    Maybe I'm missing some hidden meaning.
    I guess it started as a sort of aspirational love story - science geek pursuing attractive neighbour.
    But Sheldon steals the show.
    Its a bit like friends with geeky guys and less women.
  • Jun 14 2013: Yes. Lots of people understand Big Bang Theory.
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    Jun 12 2013:

    Michio Kaku is AWESOME! Even in 1991.
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    Jun 12 2013: i don't but then i've never really studied it. as theories of the universe currently stand, they are not relevant to my life at all
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    Jun 12 2013: I don't think anyone could or would claim to understand the origins of the universe. This is a major area of scientific study, precisely because there is so much that is not understood.
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      Jun 13 2013: Well, none would claim certainty. We do however have the vast majority of cosmologists, astronomers, mathematicians etc that claim a very, very high degree of certainty when it comes to many things of the universe. I just wanted to say that "There are so many things that ARE understood about the universe", let's never forget that.
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        Jun 15 2013: Agreed sir. There is a problem though when those august folks who dwell in Etherial Land represent their proposed explanations as scientific truth. Many laypersons accept whatever these high priests of Science say to be declarations of certainty. Doesn't the Scientific Method require that ambiguity and subtle persuasion (brainwashing) are to be avoided? Isn't the only agenda in Science supposed to be to explain the What, Where, When, and How of the Universe? Isn't the Who and the Why of the cosmos beyond the scope of Science? It would be more honest, and less confusing, if High Priests would speak clearly in terms of what is known AND what is not known. This would help the non-scientists to form a clear picture of the actual state of Scientific knowledge.