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And You Would Still Be Wrong.

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Posted by Paul Johanson on August 19, 2002 13:51:03 UTC

Andy, I never said that the universe was infinite - it isn't.

The place at which the creative blast occurred cannot be determined because no matter where you are in the universe it's behavior appears the same to you as it would to any other observer located anywhere else. Prior to the explosion space and time did not exist. The universe is not expanding into empty space - the space is created as the universe expands.

I understand this is a difficult concept to grasp, however the inability to determine the "center" of the universe is a fact long accepted by cosmologists, and virtually any cosmological text you examine or creditable cosmologist you consult will confirm this. It doesn't seem to make sense, but when you try to do it you find that you can't.

It was once suggested that perhaps the universe was indeed infinite and that it rebounded over and over again with the galaxies sling-shotting past each other during each gravitational collapse and expanding in the opposite direction.

This idea is unacceptable because such a scenario does not explain the cosmic background radiation that we see or provide a means to generate the temperatures and densities required to fuse the light elements (hydrogen and helium) from which stars eventually formed.

Now Andy, what follows is a rant that is not directed at you, per se, but has been building inside of me and I have to let it out before I have my own personal Big Bang.

A lot of posters raise interesting philosophical questions, which is fine so long as they don't refuse to accept the the way things are simply because they don't understand how it could possibly be that way. Some things are counter-intuitive and require a great deal of contemplation before they are even partially understood.

It seems fashionable these days for folks to perform "thought experiments" after the likes of Albert Einstein without assuming the burden of creating mathematical proofs and gathering observational evidence to support the conclusions they reach.

Einstein was haunted by the scenarios that he created and would brood over them for days and weeks and months at a time until he had resolved them intellectually. He would then proceed to the blackboard and determine if his answers could be proven mathematically.

Finally, he would announce his findings and ask other close friends, also all brilliant mathematicians, to verify his results. He would then publish his work, inviting the community of physicists to determine if observational evidence supported his position.

Albert Einstein was not a slow witted youngster who did poorly in mathematics, despite what youmay have been told. He was a child prodigy in mathematics who soon taught himself more about the field than the school he attended could teach. The work he did and the theories he developed regarding special and general relativity have been verified countless times through observational evidence. They are the basis for what is today called the Standard Model of cosmology, not because they felt good or coincided with how certain people thought things should be, but because they were painstakingly verified through experimentation and observation.

So I wonder, how many hours have our philosophical thought experimenters invested generating mathematical proofs or lying on the ground peering into the lens of their telescope painstakingly gathering evidence to support their position?

We don't do things the way Aristotle did anymore. We cannot know everything there is to know about the world we live in just by reasoning it out in our own minds. Is it any wonder that nearly all of Aristotle's contributions to the field of science have been found to be incorrect?

And I have one more thing to say: There has been a lot of articles in the news lately with headlines such as, "Was Einstein Wrong?" Just a word of advice...don't bet on it.

There is a lot of room for speculation in the field of cosmology, a lot of things we don't understand, and some things we don't even have decent theories to explain. However, the unknowable location of the center of the universe is not one of them. We should resist the temptation to beat a dead horse and move on.



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