Tuesday, March 03, 2015

[Science] Start Making Sense

Mavens of cosmology and metaphysics will occasionally remark on what tremendous progress we have made in understanding our universe. To that I say, "Bah!" What you see as progress I see as a mess. We have "solved" our equations with gussied-up hand-waving in the form of Dark Stuff: Dark Matter and Dark Energy. These aren't actual things, you see. When our formulas and expected values don't turn out to be right, we need to invent something that makes them work, thus Dark Stuff. This is our way of saying "Our equations are failing, so either A) they are outright wrong or, B) there is something out there we can't see that makes them right. We pick (B), and because we are scared of being wrong." Well, (B) might be correct but treating the selection of (B) over (A) as progress is shameless.

The Physics arVix Blog discussed a number of paradoxes that our current theories cannot explain. Some strike me as pretty damning of our understanding. For example:
Perhaps the most dramatic, and potentially most important, of these paradoxes comes from the idea that the universe is expanding, one of the great successes of modern cosmology. It is based on a number of different observations.
What's curious about this expansion is that space, and the vacuum associated with it, must somehow be created in this process. And yet how this can occur is not at all clear.
We know, or at least we think we know, that "empty space" is actually something -- fields and potential energy and so forth. So how does "empty space" get created as the universe expands? Either we have something wrong or there is another Dark Thing doing the creating -- a Dark Creator (careful, don't say God). (As I look through those paradoxes it sure seems like our interpretation and use of redshift causes a lot of problems. Hmmm.)

The latest broadside against convention is that there is now a theory of existence that doesn't require a Big Bang. Clarity: It's not a "disproof" of the Big Bang, but a possible structure of the universe that doesn't require one. Sadly it does imply an infinite universe and so doesn't resolve the issue of Creation requiring either infinity or a brute fact, but the overall effect here is the Einstein and Relativity is coming under doubt. While this is not really a new development, it is starting to gain force. (Tom Bethell wrote a book called Questioning Einstein years ago, suggesting we have failed by accepting relativity to the exclusion of other possibilities. Too bad he can't be as thoughtful about website design.) Just so we are clear, the argument here is not that relativity is wrong. There are tons of experiment outcomes it predicts exactly. The argument is that relativity is unnecessary to explain these outcomes.

For all our confidence in progress and our scientific hubris, it seems we are as susceptible to error and foolish faith as everyone else. We are not that smart after all. We are the most arrogant era of man and yet we are at least as wrong as every one before us.