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Ten weirdest cosmology theories: In print today. In Fluffo’s litterbox tomorrow

Here’s a link to the 10 weirdest cosmology theories (that New Scientist is prepared to take seriously enough to publish), and yes they are weird. Here’s one:

10. In the Matrix

Maybe our universe isn’t real. Yale Philosopher Nick Bostrum has claimed that we are probably living inside a computer simulation. Assuming it ever becomes possible to simulate consciousness, then presumably future civilisations would try it, probably many times over. Most perceived universes would be simulated ones – so chances are we are in one of them. In that case, perhaps all those cosmological oddities such as dark matter and dark energy are simply patches, stuck on to cover up early inconsistencies in our simulation.

Right, prof. Right. Uhhh …

Now, I don’t mind a bit of fun, like anyone else. I thought the turtles all the way down theory was okay, actually, except for the giant turtles. If they could get rid of that part, …
But I find intriguing the fact that the type of people who take this stuff seriously would probably oppose allowing teenagers to learn that there are evidence-based problems with Darwinism.

I am really looking forward to a reputable social scientist doing a serious study on who believes Darwinism and why, and what else they are prepared to believe.

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14 Responses to Ten weirdest cosmology theories: In print today. In Fluffo’s litterbox tomorrow

  1. “I am really looking forward to a reputable social scientist doing a serious study on who believes Darwinism and why, and what else they are prepared to believe. ”

    I agree! Why stop at Darwinism though? I wonder what fun correlations would come from such a study.

  2. Y’know, the term “theory” is used for all of these far-fetched and untestable conjectures. Yet the scientific community has a royal bird if ID is referred to as a “theory” or even an hypothesis. (The latter it certainly is.)

    I find Stephen Hawking’s north pole analogy to be quite telling. If Hawking would be presenting his north pole analogy, it is because anything outside of our universe, and anything prior to the big bang (theoretically time began at the big bang) is fully in the zone of conjecture.

    Cosmologists have a simple problem. The universe is clearly tuned more precisely than a Florida election. All of astro-Physics recognizes this. There is one obvious explanation for this — a designer. But that explanation is anathema. Real science can’t quite go there. Real science is stymied by the facts that it has uncovered.

    ID has spent a lot of energy in biology. But I think we forget that we are way, out front in cosmology. I believe that we need to pronounce our victory in cosmology before ever addressing the equation of biology. It gets kinda rediculous to reject ID from biology class but accept it in physics class.

  3. Yale Philosopher Nick Bostrum has claimed that we are probably living inside a computer simulation.

    And. Mr. Anderson. You know. He’s a scientist. Because. He says “probably”.

    And why is this the 10th weirdest cosmology theory?

  4. Actually, for a weird cosmology theory how about chemical randomly mixed to form amino acids which merge into 256 proteins to form a living cell when then reproduces itself which then mutates into all multi-celled life.

    It really and truely makes more sense to think we are living in a computer simulation.

  5. Snoop before you sneer:

    From the article:
    “Neil Turok of Cambridge University in the UK and Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University in New Jersey, US, have worked out how the big bang could have been sparked when our universe clashed violently with another. These clashes repeat, producing a new big bang every now and then – so if the cyclic universe model is right, the cosmos could be immortal.”

    On Turok ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neil_Turok ):
    “Neil Geoffrey Turok holds the Chair of Mathematical Physics (1967) at Cambridge University. [... He and his collaborators] also developed a key test for the presence of a cosmological constant, also recently confirmed. Turok and collaborators developed the theory of open inflation. With Stephen Hawking, he later developed the so-called Hawking-Turok instanton solutions which, according to the no-boundary proposal of Hawking and James Hartle, can describe the birth of an inflationary universe.”

    On Steinhardt ( http://wwwphy.princeton.edu/~steinh/webbrief/ ):
    “Paul J. Steinhardt is the Albert Einstein Professor in Science at Princeton University and is on the faculty in the Department of Physics and in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. [...] Steinhardt is a theorist whose research spans problems in particle physics, astrophysics, cosmology and condensed matter physics. He is one of the architects of the ‘inflationary model’ of the universe, an important modification of the standard big bang picture which explains the homogeneity and geometry of the universe and the origin of the fluctuations that seeded the formation of galaxies and large-scale structure. He introduced the concepts of ‘quintessence,’ a dynamical form of dark energy that may account for the recently discovered cosmic acceleration. He has also explored novel models for dark matter. Recently, Steinhardt and Neil Turok (Cambridge U.) proposed the ‘cyclic model’ of the early universe, a radical alternative to big bang/inflationary cosmology in which the evolution of the universe is periodic and the key events shaping the large scale structure of the universe occur before the big bang.”

    The upshot is that both of these men made major contributions to the “standard” Big Bang / inflationary model before they began developing the cyclic model. The cyclic model makes all the successful predictions of the Big Bang model, but also explains why the cosmological constant is 120 orders of magnitude smaller than it should be under the Big Bang model. The cyclic model is falsifiable, and indeed an empirical study is currently underway that could falsify it. The cyclic model, however weird it seems, is legitimate science.

    Denyse, I can only suppose that, if this were 90 years ago, you would have tried to use Albert Einstein as a dust mop.

  6. Note that, in order to avoid acknowledging that New Scientist is prepared to entertain completely baseless weird theories, Tom English must resort to highlighting one that I had not highlighted. Prediction: Whatever merit lies in Turok’s theory will be likely way overblown if it can be seen as falsifying fine tuning, thus clouding many issues. That is all part of the growing scandal of materialism.

    Had Albert Einstein behaved like that, he would be better employed as a dust mop. Indeed, he would be in hot demand, as few others have the right kind of hair.

  7. Tom English, “so if the cyclic universe model is right, the cosmos could be immortal.” So some hypothesis comes which rescues us from the harsh thought that we are the product of the thought of another.

    If there were more universes, there were infinite universes. If there were infinite universes then the fact that this one is as perfectly balanced as a Florida election is just our good luck. (After all, if it were not so, we wouldn’t exist, our existance proves that it happens to be so.)

    Though the credentials of the author of this hypothesis seem impeccable, evidence would suggest that his case isn’t good enough to pique Stephen Hawking’s interest. After all, he came up with his nort pole analogy very recently.

    But hey, there is a conjecture that rescues me from the harsh possibility of the G word, so I better bite, and bite hard!

  8. bFast, quoting the article: “so if the cyclic universe model is right, the cosmos could be immortal.”

    I was hoping someone would latch onto that. Anyone who takes a fun feature in New Scientist as a reliable description of cosmological theories has some problems with assessment of sources. I suspect that the author of the feature was not aware of Steinhardt and Turok’s latest work, if only because he does not mention the cosmologial constant. What I have read recently is that, under the cyclic model, the cosmological “constant” generally decreases as the universe goes through cycles of expansion and contraction, and that the cycle ends when the constant goes negative.

    For a more reliable article by a professional science writer, see
    http://physicsweb.org/articles/news/10/5/3/1

    But I have seen science writers make far too many mistakes describing my own field to take articles about other people’s fields with less than a grain of salt. Here is what Steinhardt and Turok have to say:
    xxx.lanl.gov/pdf/astro-ph/0605173

    “But hey, there is a conjecture that rescues me from the harsh possibility of the G word, so I better bite, and bite hard!”

    The model is irrelevant to the “G word.” Would you suggest that your G deity is incapable of creating a cyclic universe? Perhaps the harsh possibility is that scientific findings will not be consonant with a particular interpretation of the B book. Evidently you are unaware that Hindus believe in a cyclic universe. Would you like to proclaim for the record that the science of ID rejects prior to testing any model consistent with non-Abrahamic theism or polytheism?

  9. Denyse,

    “Tom English must resort to highlighting one that I had not highlighted.”

    “Must” is not so.

    “Yale Philosopher Nick Bostrum has claimed that we are probably living inside a computer simulation.”

    The first thing I noticed was “philosopher.” In my experience, philosophers always make wonderful scientists. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks that ID is entirely consistent with Bostrum’s model.

  10. Whoa, Denyse, did my other posts get you thinking about cosmology? Anyway, it appears that Tom English hasn’t read my other posts, or he doesn’t care much for Plasma Cosmology. Tom, working with Steven Hawking is not better in my book than working with Richard Dawkins or Daniel Dennett. I think Plasma cosmology is falseifiable (sorry if I’m spelling wrong) and once again, as the open letter proves, funding is denied for any proponents of a hypothesis that disputes the “dogma” of the big bang. Now, for those who dislike plasma because adherents state the universe is infinite and eternal, that too is an assumption: how/where/what generates the Bierkland currents?

    Denyse, thanks for the article, most amusing. Tom, links, but with the proviso, I’m not evangelical, so believe if you like in “dark matter” and “north poles” and such. But if the alternate theories meet Occam’s razor, without the duct tape of dark energy, dark matter, black holes, why the resistance. “What place for a creator,” wrote Hawking, and his ex-wife’s views are relevant. I think I’d call it hubris.

    On Hawking and God:

    http://www.leaderu.com/real/ri9404/bigbang.html

    The “main stream” Plasma Cosmologists, including a link to the Open Letter (note again, NO FUNDING!)

    http://bigbangneverhappened.org/

    Anthony Peratt’s site:

    http://public.lanl.gov/alp/plasma/TheUniverse.html

    http://public.lanl.gov/alp/plasma/cosmology.html

    And my personal favorites, check this on black holes, and yesterday’s story on making “assumptions on yesterday’s Thunderbolts.”

    http://www.holoscience.com/

    The thesis of the electical theorists is that “energy” (and I don’t mean “the ability to do work”) is very different from matter.

    Best,

    P.S.

  11. OK, just did a Yahoo search on Bostrum, here’s his stuff:

    http://www.simulation-argument.com/simulation.html

    Here’s Turok (isn’t that a Vulcan name?):

    http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/ngt1000/

    I’m sorry, the mainstream cosmologists just seem ludicrous to me, again, see this:

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/t.....ptions.htm

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/t.....kholes.htm

    Again, if cyclic models other than all one universe makes you happy, fine, but you’ll note the Discovery Institute and Dr. Dembski talk of an “inflationary fallacy” (I think his DESIGN REVOLUTION), but I don’t know if plasma, other than the TV sets, pleases them. Again, an infinite universe without beginning or end is an assumption by the plasma proponents; who knows? Should that preclude a Designer? I don’t think so.

    Tom, one last link, a Theory of Everything that will probably upset you, and most likely is incomplete, but a lot more elegant to me than dark energy, dark matter, superstrings, epi-cycles, multi-verses, and a light speed limit. God only knows if we could “communciate” with something if we weren’t hamstrung by the concepts of General and Special Relativity — we need more engineers, IMHO, and less “unnatural”-philosophers.

    http://www.holoscience.com/new.....e=gdaqg8df

    If you’re an atheist and believe in Hawking, my apologies if I hurt your feelings — you won’t believe anything that contradicts your faith. The problem is as has happened with ID the censorship; is that what all the blood spilt to create America, to deny expression, even if it’s wrong? If I.D. or Plasma Cosmology is “nonsense”, why the contempt, why the courts? I believe demonstrates intolerance, prejudice, and perhaps fear of being *wrong*.

    If there are multi-verses, and dark matter and dark energy, so be it. But when there are other explanations that obviously so many don’t know about, what’s going on?

    Brainwashing everyone with TV that to be a mindless celebrity is all that matters? Not to think or care about higher things unless they deny the numinous? That’s what college students should believe is important, vide CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND?

    The mathematics of plasma are beyond us mortals; see Peratt and his supercomputer work.

    For those who believe in the Hebrew bible as divine revelation, I don’t read the language proving the big bang. Look at the language, even in English:

    01:001:001 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

    01:001:002 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was
    upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon
    the face of the waters.

    01:001:003 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files.....book01.htm

    Consistent with an electromagnetic universe, not a “bang”.

    Goodnight, all!

  12. P. Phillips,

    I am incompetent to read primary sources in cosmology. All I can do is piece together a picture of cosmology by reading secondary sources, and I would never give much credence to that picture. I think almost all of the discussants here make statements that are, as a consequence of their reliance on secondary sources, far too strong.

    I read the open letter that appeared in New Scientist a couple years ago, and I was quite pleased to see this:

    “Yet the big bang is not the only framework available for understanding the history of the universe. Plasma cosmology and the steady-state model both hypothesize an evolving universe without beginning or end. These and other alternative approaches can also explain the basic phenomena of the cosmos, including the abundances of light elements, the generation of large-scale structure, the cosmic background radiation, and how the redshift of far-away galaxies increases with distance. They have even predicted new phenomena that were subsequently observed, something the big bang has failed to do.”
    http://cosmologystatement.org/

    You wrote, “Again, an infinite universe without beginning or end is an assumption by the plasma proponents; who knows? Should that preclude a Designer? I don’t think so.” Of course it does not preclude a designer. But I think it does preclude empirical design detection. In “an evolving universe without beginning or end,” one may always invoke the Law of Large Numbers to account for the existence of highly improbable events. Bill Dembski’s approach to design detection rests fundamentally on limiting the “probabilistic resources” available to chance processes. Most, if not all, of his publications on design inference assume that the universe came into existence with the Big Bang.

    A crucial problem for ID is that its inferences are predicated on the standard cosmological model. If cosmologists were to abandon the Big Bang model and adopt another, a number of design inferences might be invalidated. This is a far cry from the “no false positives” claim Bill Dembski made in his work with the explanatory filter.

  13. Hello, Tom,

    Thank you for your reply, and for clarifying perhaps the resistance, or potential resistance, to plasma and electic theories since Bill’s work may be predicated on the Big Bang. Pretty nice of Bill and his pals to let me post here, then, when I may inadvertantly provide ammunition against his work! :)

    I do hope you check some of the links; what is of note are the predictions on Deep Impact comet, which NASA responds to, off the recorrd, that they didn’t observe what the Electric theorists noted. If you want to research further, by all means. Personally, I find *asking* these questions, considering the work of both the establishment and dissenters one of the blessings of consciousness, of being self-aware, of being alive.

    Now, let me get my copy of THE DESIGN REVOLUTION and double check his work (because Jim Hogan cited Bill’s work and communicated with him, yet embraces alternate cosmology, and he didn’t note any contradicition in the two tenets.)

    Chapter 7 – the canvas. OK, now Bill is limiting himself to biololgy, and rightly so. Life may be designed, but we can’t say the Universe is.

    OK, here it is, pag 118-119 — I can’t copy/write it all, but let’s cut to the chase. Bill addresses the issue of the known and unknown Universe; but he uses the mainstream argument of multiverses. He writes “It is illegitimate to rescue chance by invoking probalistice resources from outside the known universe.”

    Thus, I would think that statement covers alternative cosmology pretty well. I think his “Universal Probability Bound” would still hold.

    If you read the link on Steven Hawking and “God”, and if you’ve read his work, the Big Bang challenges Deism. On the other hand, for Christian and Jewish cosmologists, perhaps your response indicates the tenacity of their grip on the theory, despite contrary evidence. Yet any theology that depends on science is highly problematic to say the least.

    If you’ve read my other posts, perhaps on “Is God Good”, I think that the scientific search for truth, ideally based on observation, experiment, and dash of humility, is in conflict with religious teachings. Both, I think, are human conclusions, perhaps inspired interpretations, but religion is problematic. So, if you allow me not to be boxed in by any theology, perhaps we are finding God in his creation, and the real “Designer” will not resemble the King Lear like personality, (I would risk becoming Tyndale in another time!) to borrow from Harold Bloom.

    My own, if I may speak personally, bias against Darwin was the fact, when I was not even a teenager, and learned the concept the fact that it portrayed evolution and adaptation as “random”; life doesn’t have any feedback mechanisms, it just blunders along. A thermostat responds to the environment, but living things just blunder along. And that idea was stupid to me; Bill derived the mathematics.

    Now, the Electrical theorists and Arp believe the extant, observable Universe is far smaller than 15 or so billion light years. So that would bolster Bill’s UPB.

    At any rate, I provided some of my links/comments to theorist Wallace Thornhill; he didn’t advise I can’t share his remarks, but he wrote me:

    #####################################################################################################################

    My view on Darwinism is that it explains very little and certainly not speciation. My views on the interconnectedness of the universe in real time allows me to propose that the work of Rupert Sheldrake on “morphic resonance” has a sound physics basis. If so, then the universe continually “learns” and what works in one environment may be applied in another similar environment. For example, the dinosaurs could not exist in the present Earth gravity and atmosphere, but there may be other worlds where they thrive. It is in a limited sense that I consider the interactions of matter via the electric force as the result of some initial “intelligent design.”

    As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to the BIG questions, our ignorance remains profound. (Yet we have clowns who think they almost have a theory of everything).

    ##################################################################################################################

    I agree with his last statement on profound ignorance. Yet if ID proponents are being honest, it is entirely possible that the “Unembodied Designer” has a different origin and nature than what theology explains.

    I have the sense that there is another *mind* out there; it wouldn’t bother me if that mind is different from the mind portrayed in sacred texts. On the other hand, perhaps this force *is* the source of the vast electric currents/plasma. Perhaps the Designer is the Universe figuring itself out? Perhaps we are here to answers questions the Designer has, to provide a purpose. Theology indicates one creates out of love. If a mind is perfect, why would it need anything outside of itself? (Unless one argues we are not — but such questions won’t have “scientific” answers.)

    Supposing the Designer is an ironist? Supposing Arthur C. Clarke had the right idea in 2001, but the unembodied intelligence isn’t space aliens? I have faith after I cease to exist in mortal form I shall obtain answers, because these are matters I care about.

    But consider this exchange I had with Wallace Thornhill:

    #########################################################################

    >Can your last response result in attempting any
    >”superluminal” experiment?

    Hi P.S.

    the answer is yes, provided you don’t use light or any
    electromagnetic radiation because its speed is limited by
    the natural response time of the medium. However, if you use the
    longitudinal electric force, like gravity, you can devise experiments to
    test its superluminal speed. I recommend you have a look at the work
    of the dissident astronomer, Tom Van Flandern at
    http://www.metaresearch.org/co.....ravity.asp

    >Are you and your colleagues working as Eric Lerner does on
    >any fusion or alternate energy sources, based on your
    >concepts?
    >
    >My best wishes,
    >
    >P.S.

    Not actively. However, I have suggested that the way to tap
    into nuclear energy is not via the “brute force and ignorance”
    approach of smashing nuclei together. Rather, it is to use the
    exquisite resonant nuclear reactions that biological enzymes routinely
    use to convert one element into another. See the work of Louis Kervran.

    I think the US research company of Blacklight Power have
    stumbled on to the resonant catalysis of hydrogen to form hydrogen
    atoms with the electron at a lower level than the so-called Bohr ground
    state. The process releases considerable energy. It is this
    intelligent, “tuned” approach, which will (IMHO) be the way of the future.

    It requires that we understand the physical basis for quantum effects
    instead of the metaphysics that surrounds the subject.

    Regards,

    Wal

    ####################################################################################

    If we sent a signal in that form, would any other intelligence answer us? I think it’s tragic no one is trying.

    Yeah, crazy right.

    But what about the potential of living things providing an inkling for alternate energy? I think we should try.

    Take care, Tom, and keep asking questions and seeking answers.

    Personally, I find there is truth in myth, vide C.S. Lewis.

  14. My final post, and then I’ll shut up on this topic (yeah, it’s OK to cheer).

    From this essay are the reasons I don’t think the Electric Universe, the “off beat” and protoscientific concept, doesn’t contradict a creator or creation and doesn’t imply an infinite universe. That said, I just don’t have any answers; my own opinion is that astronomical observations are supporting electric forces and not a gravity based cosmology.

    No one knows what the source of the “power” is; and “God” is always, and perhaps always will be, a matter of faith. Just so long we don’t attack one another in His name!

    http://www.thunderbolts.info/t.....ssible.htm

    EXCERPT:
    ========

    # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # ## # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

    You can’t get charge separation in space. Hence, the Electric Universe is impossible.

    The attractive electrical force between the charges of an electron and a proton is 39 orders of magnitude greater than the gravitational attraction between their masses. To separate the electrons from the nuclei of atoms in a spoonful of salt would require more energy than exists in the universe. An electron and an ion in space, with nothing between them but vacuum, will seek each other out as fast as they can and neutralize their electric field. Electrical phenomena in space can’t really exist.

    “But,” the argument goes, “the theories of the plasma universe don’t begin with neutral matter. They begin with the observation that charges are already separated. All the phenomena we see are visible because they radiate the energy that’s released as separated charges combine. We observe that they obey the laws of electrical circuits in plasma: formation of filaments, cells, and double layers; evolution through the characteristic sequence of instabilities as charges move toward equilibrium; coupling of larger-scale circuits to smaller-scale circuits. We don’t know where the largest-scale circuit gets its power; we don’t know why 99% of the universe is composed of separated charges; we only see the result.”

    The moral of this game? What you really can’t get is assumption-free explanations.

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