Monday, November 15th, 2010

Science Vs. Math, It's So On!

"I think this is funny because it explains a problem I’ve had with math all along, which is that math just makes stuff up: makes up numbers, and space between numbers, and relations between numbers, and I’m not even mentioning zero. Also I know that the horizon problem went something like, the universe shouldn’t have been born as uniform as it was because it was farther across than light—which created the uniformity—could have traveled by then. Something like that. So AG’s mathematicians solve the problem by making light travel faster than light."
I'm with Awl pal Ann Finkbeiner: Math sucks! (Especially zero!) After that, she kind of loses me. And hurts my brain. But I'm pretty sure I like what she's saying about this cartoon about the different methods of solving astronomy's "Horizon Problem."

8 Comments / Post A Comment

MollyculeTheory (#4,519)

In college I took a math class and was basically, ew do not want. Imma be a biologist!

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

Ah yes, if you can't explain experienced phenomenon then invent a theory of light traveling faster than light, or maybe the basic assumption of the Big Bang is simply wrong. Despite all the evidence that contradicts the central theory that the Universe had a starting point (Let There Be Light, but with numbers!) physicists continues to cling to this belief. The Big Bang has evolved into nothing less than a religious belief of modern physics.

Dave Bry (#422)

That is very interesting. The Big Bang theory as religious dogma. I like the idea of a universe with no starting point. (And by "like," of course, I mean, "will be all night thinking about, tortured by my inability of wrap my feeble mind around. Trapped by the perception of linear time.")

But really: Thanks, Lockheed Ventura!

SeanP (#4,058)

Oh, pish. For one thing, the big bang theory explains lots of experienced phenomena very nicely, thank you very much. The Cosmic Microwave Background is tough to explain without it, for one thing. Second, inflation theory has precisely nothing to do with "light going faster than light" (here's a hint: when your understanding of a topic contains a blatant contradiction in terms, your understanding is probably wrong). Inflation says that space itself expanded very quickly (which is both consistent with general relativity and explains the so-called horizon problem).

"Despite all the evidence that contradicts the central theory"? There is actually very little of that. The horizon problem is generally thought to be explained by inflation, as are what's called the "flatness/oldness" problem (too complex to go into here, see Wikipedia's big bang article), and the absence of magnetic monopoles. Matter/antimatter asymmetry and dark matter/energy are not explained by the big bang theory, but no other theory explains them either. It's fair to say that this is an area where the science is not set.

Accusing essentially the entire discipline of cosmology of abandoning science in favor of some weird religion is a really big claim, and it would be nice if you would produce some kind of evidence for it. The fact is that the Big Bang is as established a fact as there can be. Are there problems with it? Sure there are, just like there are with evolution, quantum mechanics, and other theories. But the Big Bang remains the best fit with the evidence we have.

Lockheed Ventura (#5,536)

My point is that the Big Bang Theory is in ways conceptually consistent with the "Earth as the Center of the Universe" theory that dominated our understanding of the Universe before the time of Galileo. That is, our observations are solely based on what we can perceive and indirectly reinforce the concept that WE are the center of the Universe. By WE, I don't mean the planet Earth or even our galaxy, but our portion of the Universe. Furthermore, it rather eerily mirrors the "Let There Be Light" theory of the Universe from the Bible. In the inflation theory and the singularity, there is an element of "magic time" where things happened that we simply cannot explain, and I wonder whether there may another explanation.

I don't reject the Big Bang Theory, but I am open to the idea that the Universe is infinite and timeless and that our current constructs are merely attempts to understand the Universe from our particular perch. I wonder whether we are discovering a larger and larger Universe, not just because it is ever expanding, but because it is indeed infinite. That what we observe as evidence of the Big Bang is not merely evidence of a localized Super Nova or collapsed Black Hole and that the phenomena we deem the "Big Bang" are merely localized events (in the Cosmos sense) that are occurring across the infinite Universe.

I also have issues with the Theory of Evolution, but we can discuss that at another time. For starters, there are periods of extremely rapid evolution and jumps which I have not found an adequate answer for. There is an element of religion to it as well. Not that I think that is a bad thing.

pepper (#676)

Wasn't this covered in Leviticus?

Annie K. (#3,563)

No, no, don't fight. Light going faster than light was what I said the cartoon mathematicians were saying. Dave is right, this is a mathmaticians vs. physicists fight, not a cosmology vs. religion one. Except LV brought religion into it. Anyway. If you do want to fight, you can fight over how good the evidence is for the big bang. I do love a good fight. Especially when there's nothing whatever at stake.

Scum (#1,847)

Math does not attempt to explain the physical world and it isnt supposed to. It is an a priori discipline whose proofs are often useful for the purpose of scientific inquiry.

Feyman can suck one by the by. Mathematicians engage in like futuristic virtual sex with girls of their own creation. Physicist's are forced to copulate with the dog faced, whiny, cellulite ridden mother nature as she is

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