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Universe in a Nutshell : Stephen Hawking

11/26/06

  05:06:28 am, by Nimble   , 2998 words  
Categories: Reviews, Books, Science

Universe in a Nutshell : Stephen Hawking

Link: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/055380202X?ie=UTF8&tag=thecerealkill-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641&creativeASIN=055380202X

I must admit, that apart from the pretty pictures, light humour and some interesting background on Einstein, I was pretty disappointed in this book. It starts out well, but holes appear in it later, not just the black kind, and a lot of space is spent on seemingly interesting things that go nowhere.

Many people loved the book, though, so I will justify my disappointment a little more thoroughly with a tour of the book and the things that I take issue with.

Chapter 1, A Brief History of Relativity is a good refresher on relativity theory, and a good, breezy backgrounder on Einstein, and how he wasn't quite as bad at school as popularly construed.

I also liked the reference to the Jefferson lab built without nails to avoid the influence of iron in their experiments, without having considered the iron contents of the omnipresent brick used in construction.


Chapter 2, The Shape of Time, starts to get a little odd. We get an introduction to Hawking's following of "Positivism". However, I have not been able to discern what kind of Positivism he speaks of, since in various spots in the book, it seems to come down to ultimately not worrying about what model of the world you use, as long as it works mathematically. I'll have a few choice quotes a little later on.

He talks a little about the cosmic background radiation, and goes on to show the "pear shape of time", at least looking backwards based on tracing light backwards in time towards the Big Bang singularity, as the light will be bent by matter in the early universe. It's an odd-looking interpretation of something mathematical, since it seems pretty questionable that light would be bent in any particular direction until the universe got lumpy.

Here's my bad, quick approximation of the diagram:

Pear Shape of Time

It's worth mentioning at this point that there are no listed sources in this book, so it can be pretty hard to follow up where some of these ideas come from.

On page 42, there is an incorrect explanation of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Taking a look under common incorrect explanation, you see:

The uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics is sometimes erroneously explained by claiming that the measurement of position necessarily disturbs a particle's momentum.

Hawking's book has this quote in the diagram:

Low-frequency wavelengths disturb the velocity of the particle less.

(Yes, Hawking's book refers to velocity, not momentum, but the Uncertainty Principle deals with position and momentum, and velocity would only be a component of momentum)

Following this is some treatment of vaccuum energy, some fun diagrams of spin, and some different models of what could be happening when particles annihilate and then are re-produced, and a very brief introduction to String Theory and the problems it has had so far.

Then comes a paragraph which strikes me as just wrong on so many levels, that I have to reproduce it here in full:

I must say that personally, I have been reluctant to believe in extra dimensions. But as I am a positivist, the question "Do extra dimensions really exist?" has no meaning. All one can ask is whether mathematical models with extra dimensions provide a good description of the universe. We do not yet have any observations that require extra dimensions for their explanation. However, there is a possibility we may observe them in the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. But what has convinced many people, including myself, that one should take models with extra dimensions seriously is that there is a web of unexpected relationships, called dualities, between the models. These dualities show that the models are all essentially equivalent; that is, they are just different aspects of the same underlying theory, which has been given the name M-theory. Not to take this web of dualities as a sign we are on the right track would be a bit like believing that God put fossils into the rocks in order to mislead Darwin about the evolution of life.

What... the... hell?

First off, I don't really understand why, when you go off and increase the number of dimensions from 10 (which most String Theory variants use) to 11 of a web of mathematical theories that use similar approaches, that dualities are really, truly unexpected. Not to mention that these dualities were discovered in the early 90s, and that there is no universal M-Theory to this date.

"Do extra dimensions really exist?" has no meaning? Perhaps it doesn't if you never come back to make experiments that can actually test the implications. Roger Penrose, mentioned several times in this book, since he worked on many things with Hawkings, has many things to say on the importance of that question, and how it does matter. This shows some of the oddities of what Hawkings considers "positivism".

Finally, fossils are in nature. String/M-theory in any form has yet to prove itself capable of predicting any discovered phenomena. Comparing M-Theory certainty to the God/fossil/Darwin analogy is a bit like believing that God put fossils into the rocks in order to mislead Darwin about the evolution of life, to quote a certain someone :)

A little further down the same page, he starts a statement:

Because string theories don't have any infinities...

Quick! Somebody tell Penrose and Smolin so they can stop insinuating infinities still exist!

More pages give you a tour of imaginary time, a holographic universe (where more dimensions are "projected" down to fewer dimensions, like holograms converting 3D to 2D).


Chapter 3, The Universe in a Nutshell is slightly less odd, though it begins oddly talking about Prometheus:

Do we risk the fate of Prometheus, who in classical mythology stole fire from Zeus for human beings to use, and was punished for his temerity by being chained to a rock where the eagle picked at his liver?

Despite this cautionary tale, I believe we can and should try to understand the universe.

It does make me wonder who Zeus is supposed to be in a modern context in Stephen's mind, or whether this was merely some odd filler.

Now Olber's Paradox has been a bit of a pet peeve of mine. It's one of the strongest arguments against an infinitely old universe, and in rough prose form, goes like this: if you looked in any direction, your line of sight would eventually end up on a star, making the sky bright as a star. Since the night sky is dark, the universe conversely cannot be infinite. Rough diagram, since it's time for a diagram break:

Olber's Paradox

(Suffice it to say that I disagree with the foundation and implications of Olber's Paradox, but that's a discussion for another time)

On page 79, there is a pretty commonly-listed chronology of discoveries by Hubble. Pretty much every single book supporting the Big Bang Theory stops listing anything done by Hubble at 1929, even though Hubble worked for a few decades yet, until his death in 1953.

(Off the Wikipedia page, his later work is referred to as having methodological problems, in particular not taking luminosity of galaxy evolution into account. However, galaxy evolution is still proceeding normally 8-11 billion light years away, far beyond the reach of Hubble's observations, but I doubt Hubble's work will be revisited any time soon)

(I wish I knew how the graph on p.77 was obtained. It's a velocity versus distance graph. Velocity, they would be taking directly from the redshift. The important distances on the graph, though, are in the realm of the grey dots. They're not getting this by parallax; it's too far away. Light curves? How?)

In the next many pages, you get an overview of Feynman's multiple histories approach. In summary, though, here, too, Hawking overstates things:

The idea that the universe has multiple histories may sound like science fiction, but it is now accepted as science fact.

The subtext would be "...by everyone", but that's not likely the case. The Many-Worlds Interpretation seems as though it may have fallen from the mild majority it enjoyed a decade ago.

The Anthropic Principle is discussed for a few pages. Essentially, we exist, so the conditions that would allow us to exist have happened. Hawking goes through the idea that many universes are generated with all sorts of possible physical constants and the like, and only ones suitable for life can generate life.

We then are led into Inflationary Theory (which Penrose more recently has given a mathematical thumbs-down on). Now, he presents it as popularly understood. The link to the cosmic background radiation seems odd, though. Big Bang Theory 'predicted' cosmic background radiation, but without Inflationary Theory, there would not have been enough time for the universe to thermalize, which makes the cosmic background radiation seem like less of a prediction (to me, anyhow). Here's more of a quote from the book:

In the hot big bang model, there was not enough time in the early universe for heat to flow from one region to another. Nevertheless we observe that regardless of which direction we look, the temperature of the microwave background radiation is the same. This means that the initial state of the universe must have had exactly the same temperature everywhere.

In an attempt to find a model in which many different initial configurations could have evolved to something like the present universe... [continues to explain the genesis of inflationary theory]

The rest of the chapter rounds things off, including a fun chart of how bad monetary inflation was in the Weimar Republic, and how very much larger than that the universe would have inflated in those critical first moments.


Chapter 4, Predicting the Future, delves into black holes a lot more than the title would imply, and whether information gets lost there.

You find out the interesting bit of trivia that the French did not believe in black holes, by and large, when Hawking first went there to talk about his theory about how quantum theory means that black holes aren't completely black.

There are a few diagrams of black holes collapsing to a singularity, but the diagram on page 117 indirectly raises a good point: would black holes ever collapse to a singularity? The quote:

Someone watching the star at a distance will never see it cross the event horizon and enter the black hole. Instead, the star will appear to hover just outside the critical radius, and a clock on the surface of the star will seem to slow down and stop.

Here's my half-derrièred diagram:

Collapsing Star

There's a quick treatment of Hawking's black hole evaporation conjecture on pages 118-119 (with a disturbing small picture of the "no hair result" :) ), followed by an odd argument that the universe expanding would have something similar to a black hole's event horizon where there are objects in space expanding away from us so fast that their light will never reach us. This is followed up by an even odder explanation that since this would give a thermal horizon like a black hole, and we know to expect density fluctuations, these would be frozen in, and are the source of the variations in the cosmic microwave background radiation.

(I for one would guess that an universe with accelerating expansion, as seems to be popular these days, might not give quite that result, but I do not know for sure.)

The rest of Chapter 4 is a bit scattered. You'll find a snippet or two about p-branes and EPR, but it seems almost throwaway.


Chapter 5, Protecting the Past, is all about time travel, though it certainly meanders a bit.

Apparently, he makes quite a few bets with Kip Thorne (who in the age of corduroy looked disturbingly like Tim Curry :) ) Personally, I would have liked the canonical list of bets :)

The chapter explores a few scenarios, but does not seem to actually run with anything. Consequently, there's not a lot I can appropriately summarize. It basically starts with the standard "why not" according to relativity, and then proposes any number of outrageous cheats to get by this, and what sort of time travel some of these might produce, such as looping Groundhog Day-like over a history of finite duration.

On page 146, why can't you use a time machine with a closed light ray path?

[Infinite energy density on the horizon] would mean that a person or space probe that tried to cross the horizon to get into the time machine would get wiped out by a bolt of radiation.

The illustration on the facing page with God zapping the time traveller is just precious.

He goes into a conjecture that individual particles can loop forward and back in time, and later introduces his Chronology Protection Conjecture: that physics conspires to prevent time travel by macroscopic (i.e. big) objects... which makes you wonder what the previous bevy of pages was all about.


Chapter 6, Our Future: Star Trek or Not? attempts to make a few predictions about the future, Hawking has fun, although in the process makes a few slightly odd gaffes along the way, most of which show his field of speciality is not biology :)

Following population and electricity use graphs to their ultimate conclusion, you would get things like the Earth glowing red-hot from electricity use in 2600, and the population standing shoulder-to-shoulder. However, the view of the future he offers here is either nuclear war, which he considers a sick joke, or... Well, he simply states that he is optimistic that we will not snuff ourselves out.

On page 161, he makes a few mistakes, but some understandable ones. The simplistic evolutionary model he gives, with mere mutations plus survival, works for asexual creatures, not sexual ones.

He also likens evolution to a "random walk" in the space of all genetic possibilities, which it is not. (Intelligent Design proponents use this mischaracterization of a "random walk" and poorly apply information theory to presume that evolution "needs [unspecified but intelligent] help" to evolve anything)

He also seems to think that the amount of information that DNA contains is proportional to how intelligent the organism is, which is incorrect (take a look at the amusing use creationists put this to here).

Take this quote:

I think that the human race, and its DNA, will increase in complexity quite rapidly.

You don't need an increase in complexity, not even if you somehow wanted all humans to have double-sized brains. Remember: genes are a recipe, not a blueprint. To make a bigger batch, you double the ingredients, not the number of instructions.

He figures that since we will probably need bigger brains for bigger challenges, but bigger brains mean bigger heads, that growing babies outside the human body will allow us to bypass this built-in limitation.

I did catch an age-of-the-universe revision on page 169:

The human race has been in its present form for only two million years out of the fifteen billion years or so since the big bang.

That's bigger than the current consensus of 13.7 billion years. Where did this upward estimate come from?


Chapter 7, Brane New World, is another meandering chapter.

It starts off with talking about M-Theory, and how we have the edges of it... just not the center. To explore the energies needed to explore this, we need something which can probe down to a Planck Length, which is really, really small. This would require a particle accelerator larger than the size of the solar system, for which we simply do not have the budget.

There's a somewhat odd treatment of space in this chapter. He talks of the possibility of a "shadow brane", which is not something from a horror movie, but a "sheet" of reality "behind" ours (a certain distance in an alternate dimension). This sheet would keep the energy of gravity from totally leaking out of our universe by holding onto or reflecting some back.

It sounds like a weird solution in search of a problem, but on pages 183-184, he implies that there is actually research out to see if this is the case. (Nothing detected yet)

One thing he spends some time on in this chapter is the galaxy rotation curve problem. That is, galaxies rotate differently than we expect them to. They appear to need either a lot of invisible mass, or a modification of the laws of gravity. Stephen Hawking only makes reference to the invisible mass, a.k.a. dark matter, which can be ordinary or exotic.

He reports that the lean is towards the exotic on page 187:

However, recent study of the formation of galaxies has led cosmologists to believe that a significant fraction of the dark matter must be in a different form from ordinary matter. Perhaps it arises from the masses of very light elementary particles such as axions or neutrinos.

(Note, axions have not yet been found, but apparently are required by string theory)

Page 188 introduces the ultimate in weirdness, "shadow galaxies". This is another possible explanation for the odd rotation of galaxies, and it would be due to a "shadow galaxy", a galaxy on another brane that affects us with its gravity, but which we cannot otherwise detect.

I'd put that pretty low on the list of possible explanations, really.

The rest of the chapter is mostly dedicated to these brane worlds (This site has a picture of D-branes. If you imagine that our universe is actually in two dimensions on the left, and a shadow one on the right, you will get some of their meaning. As a side note, when I first went looking for diagrams in the links, I ran across a pretty horrid example of using the mysteries of physics to support whatever odd theological bent people have. Witness brane worlds for angels)

He feels that the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva may tell us for sure whether we live on a brane.


All in all, not the most inspiring science book I've read in a while.

Although, if you like pictures, it's certainly one heck of a lot prettier than my blog, nematodes or tax forms are.

23 comments

Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

Hi Richie!

Nice review! Couple of minor objections if I may :)

“…followed by an odd argument that the universe expanding would have something similar to a black hole’s event horizon where there are objects in space expanding away from us so fast that their light will never reach us.”

That just means that given enough distance between two objects, the space between them expands faster than the speed of light. There’s nothing odd about that, even if it might sound odd at first. Remember that space expansion doesn’t happen all in one place, it happens little bit here and little bit there, and when you add enough these little expanding bits between two objects, you have a total expansion going faster than light. Speed of light barrier is still not broken in any place.

“That’s bigger than the current consensus of 13.7 billion years. Where did this upward estimate come from?”

Well, he says “…or so…". ;)

11/29/06 @ 06:51
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

Hi there, Ari!

http://haltonarp.com is down for maintenance still, isn’t it? I wonder what they are doing with it…

Maybe I should start a forum here or something :)

Anyhow, as to your objections…

His first argument is certainly less odd than the second argument, it’s true. I understand that the light will never reach us, the way that it is currently defined as space itself expanding.

I should have reprinted a few more quotes in that section. He really does go off on odd tracks. He then overextends that analogy to say that there would be effects like real black holes, like it having a temperature… but in his theories, that temperature is from virtual particles spewing out on either side of the event horizon.

I suppose if the expansion were utterly constant, you could almost make a case even for that, though it doesn’t seem like the temperature from a centimeters-away-from-infinite-redshift surface would contribute to fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation, which is what he argues. Perhaps the assumption is that there are galaxies caught on that “event horizon"? Or this is the early universe? Could we even see the early universe in this scenario?

I suppose one would have to calculate whether that “event horizon” stays still even in the current accelerating expansion of space case. It might.

Still, there are likely simpler explanations of the variation in the cosmic background radiation.

I wonder if we test it in twenty years whether the variations will be the same? :)

As to the “or so…” phrase, that is almost always used to mean a value greater than or equal to the first value. “It’s $10 or so” means a minimum of $10. If it was $9, the speaker made a mistake.

So 13.7 is not actually covered in the phrase “15 billion or so” :)

So are you the one who was trying to look me up on google.fi? I was wondering :)

Anyhow, nice to have you drop by! Welcome to my little corner of the universe :)

11/30/06 @ 14:41
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

Arp’s site is still down. I don’t think there’s anything special going on as this wasn’t announced break, so I think it’s similar to the last time, site is probably just down and responsible person is probably not aware of it. I forget how many weeks it was last time.

But I didn’t see you posting much there before site went down, tsk tsk.
(This is just my clumsy way of saying that you have been missed there ;) ).

I don’t have answers to your questions relating to that space expansion black hole idea, it’s somehow difficult to grasp. I should probably read the book, but after reading your review I don’t think I will read it. Seems to be just another Big Bang book with nothing much new to offer.

“Still, there are likely simpler explanations of the variation in the cosmic background radiation.”

Well, the fact that those fluctuations correspond to distribution of galaxy clusters makes me think that it’s just some kind of residue radiation from those clusters. They claim it’s not, but I don’t know if I buy that.

“So are you the one who was trying to look me up on google.fi? I was wondering :)”

Yep, that was me. For some reason I have developed a habit that I don’t bookmark websites, instead I use google every time (I even do this for some websites I use almost daily). So every now and then I have been reading your blogs, each time resulting your name being searched by google.fi. :)

“Anyhow, nice to have you drop by! Welcome to my little corner of the universe :)”

Thanks, but as I implied above, I have been here lurking before.

12/01/06 @ 01:57
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

Our illustrious webmaster over there does take quite a while to notice things :)

That said, I think “www.haltonarp.com is temporarily down due to maintenance and upgrades.” has a chance of being true. He just doesn’t seem to have very good migration strategies (e.g. perhaps he moves the messages over by SQL statements that can only be run once - so any new posts in the old system would be lost, so he doesn’t leave the old system up)

I wonder what he’s doing? Maintenance and upgrades just doesn’t tell us very much.

I’d run a forum here, but the only one I have experience with, phpBB, I don’t like. The anti-spam and administration options are horrible - e.g., to try to get rid of new spammers, I need to go to the main page to see the “last person who joined", go to the admin page, look them up in the only-sorted-by-name awkward user name lookup, then click delete at the bottom of the user page, and then I still have to go off and delete all the messages individually.

But I didn’t see you posting much there before site went down, tsk tsk.
(This is just my clumsy way of saying that you have been missed there ;) ).

*grin* Thanks, Ari :) I did poke my nose in a few times, but I just… ran out of things to say. I now have a few more things to say, having read Penrose’s Road to Reality almost all the way through, and being halfway through A Different Approach to Cosmology by Hoyle et al, but I still have to finish and review the books here first to get my thoughts straight… and, of course, Arp’s site is down.

I might be able to put together a diagram of the ‘black hole’ idea… maybe.

Yes, it really is just another Big Bang book… plays around with a lot of ideas, but ultimately nothing productive, just “fun to think about"… if the concepts don’t annoy you :)

They claim it’s not, but I don’t know if I buy that.

I know. The sad thing is that it matters! Roger Penrose holds the cosmic microwave background as one of the most convincing reasons to believe in the big bang, and Penrose is actually an iconoclast - he points out serious problems in Inflationary Theory and String Theory.

*grin* I don’t often bookmark websites either - usually, I type them out, and hopefully, they’re still in the down-drop history list on the location bar, or I Google them, or they have an Atom or RSS feed and I stick them on my (now very large) Google Home page :)

Thanks, but as I implied above, I have been here lurking before.

It’s an even happier occasion when you come by and post a comment than when you come by just to look ;)

Besides, it means that at least one person other than me read my big review of Stephen Hawking’s book!

Cheers, Suomi-man.

12/01/06 @ 15:06
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

I wonder what he’s doing? Maintenance and upgrades just doesn’t tell us very much.

Well, he kept on promising some new features (I forget what they were) so perhaps it’s that.

I’d run a forum here,…

Nowadays, with a discussion forums at every corner of the Internet, it would be very improbable to get it running well in the terms of plenty of quality members. So I think most likely you’d end up with handful of people, full administrator duties, and a nagging question “why do I bother with this?” (Sorry for this pessimistic view ;) )

…but I just… ran out of things to say.

Yes, that quite frequently happens in a forum that has so limited scope.

I might be able to put together a diagram of the ‘black hole’ idea… maybe.

Don’t bother for my sake, I do understand the basic idea, it’s just that taking the idea to the extreme sort of leaves you scratching your head. It’s a strange black hole in that sense that you are inside of the outside of the black hole, it’s kind of reversed black hole geometrically.

Roger Penrose holds the cosmic microwave background as one of the most convincing reasons to believe in the big bang, and Penrose is actually an iconoclast - he points out serious problems in Inflationary Theory and String Theory.

One thing that might be behind this is that many cosmologists seem to be very convinced that space expands, and if you are convinced of that, then I think it makes sense to think that way about CMBR.

I don’t often bookmark websites either - usually, I type them out, and hopefully, they’re still in the down-drop history list on the location bar,…

Exactly how I do it too, except that I rarely type them out. I type them out when I realise that I have been hanging around a site almost daily basis for a long time, so it’s time for that site to be included in the drop-down history.

It’s strange though, because bookmarking really is a handy feature. Perhaps I alienated myself from it in the early days when I used to bookmark every other page I visited, and ended up with a bookmark management nightmare. Hmm… now that we got to talk about this, I think I’ll do something about this. You know what, I just bookmarked your Blog-page. :)

It’s an even happier occasion when you come by and post a comment than when you come by just to look ;)

Thanks.

Besides, it means that at least one person other than me read my big review of Stephen Hawking’s book!

True. It’s hard to win souls in today’s Internet. Ten years ago all you needed was to put something, anything, on the internet and there were lot of excited people watching. But today… well… everyone has website, and blog, and discussion forum, and… Hey, I only have the first one! Damn, I must be becoming an outcast…

12/02/06 @ 00:49
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

I don’t remember what he was promising for features at all. Auto line breaks? No creeping left margin on our big long threads? :)

Ah well, the forum idea is mostly if haltonarp.com starts taking way too long to come back, since the only other spot I know of to discuss such things is good ol’ BAUT, but you end up arguing interpretation , not implication, an awful lot, so it’s a good spot to test well-developed ideas, but not a good place to help develop them in the first place.

Forums are pretty easy to run - you just have to configure it properly in the first place, keep your eye open for spammers and participate every now and again.

I think the running-out-of-things-to-talk-about was mostly just that there wasn’t an awful lot of news going on, in the Big Bang camp (which we could argue), the astronomy camp (so we could interpret the observations or make smarmy comments about how “amazingly old the galaxies of 12.7 billion years ago looked"), or the alternative cosmology camp (which we could discuss… and argue).

Sometimes, too, it just gets exhausting to weigh in on the really alternative views.

It’s always nice (though rare!) when David G. Russell drops in there, because he’s one of our few links to real astronomic research. There are Chinese astronomers who are interesting as well (like Jin He - some of his thoughts echo some of the complaints I’ve heard about flouting background independence from Smolin, Penrose and others), but they of course tend not to hang around such forums as these.

My focus has just changed a bit over time. My web site itself is horribly out of date, because I find it annoying to edit. Wikis were harder to maintain watch over than I thought, and the collaboration component is pretty minimal if you’re running a personal Wiki. I used to do a lot more with newsgroups and Slashdot.

Blogs are just a nicer means of putting together content - just slightly harder to put together than e-mail, way easier than a web site, and others are free to react to your incendiary and insightful thoughts.

Nobody really needs to be visible, though. Well, not unless you’re going for a job interview and your visibility is relevant :) It’s perfectly acceptable to use the Internet for weather, YouTube, sports scores, sending silly jokes to friends, and searching for porn, and to be otherwise totally invisible. No outcast label need apply :)

I am honoured to be on your bookmarks!

You are not on my bookmarks, but I have an excuse. I put you in the links on the blog :)

12/02/06 @ 16:05
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

I don’t remember what he was promising for features at all. Auto line breaks? No creeping left margin on our big long threads? :)

I don’t think they were those (he-he). I might remember wrong, but long ago there were some promises about new features, but like I said, I forget what they were (if there even were specific features mentioned, perhaps it was just general promise about some yet unnamed features/bettering the forum). I’m keeping my fingers crossed for completely new forum software.

Ah well, the forum idea is mostly if haltonarp.com starts taking way too long to come back, since the only other spot I know of to discuss such things is good ol’ BAUT, but you end up arguing interpretation , not implication, an awful lot, so it’s a good spot to test well-developed ideas, but not a good place to help develop them in the first place

Yes, the BAUT is not the place if you want to have a constructive discussion of anything that isn’t mainstream. It’s only for debates. There are some other forums (Lyndon Ashmore’s and Tom Van Flander’s for example are the ones I take an occasional peek on), but they generally are even more slow than Arp’s forum.

Sometimes, too, it just gets exhausting to weigh in on the really alternative views.

True, I generally don’t bother with that anymore. One thing annoying in the alternative forums is that there is lot of people who are only there to promote their own idea, not to participate discussions as such. I’m actually surprised how little we get that in Arp’s forum, in that sense it’s a good forum.

It’s always nice (though rare!) when David G. Russell drops in there, because he’s one of our few links to real astronomic research.

You might know from Arp’s forum’s discussions that I’m currently doing some research in a group that involves him also. A-hem! :D Nice fellow he is.

No outcast label need apply :)

Yeah, but it seems that I’m not “hip” either (I even used only basic HTML in my website for crying out loud, no fancy java-stuff or any other such things). ;)

You are not on my bookmarks, but I have an excuse. I put you in the links on the blog :)

Yay!!!

12/04/06 @ 05:29
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for completely new forum software.

Me too. I appreciate how it can be a great learning experience to put one together, but if you don’t have time for it, and that appears to have been the case for years, it ceases to be a learning experience. I guess the big effort in that case would be trying to preserve any of the contents, because, quite frankly, there were some nifty messages on there that I would be sad to see disappear.

There are some other forums (Lyndon Ashmore’s and Tom Van Flander’s for example are the ones I take an occasional peek on), but they generally are even more slow than Arp’s forum.

I haven’t been to either of those two’s places there. It’s odd in a way that since Arp has his own theories, but is a non-participant, that seems to leave the discussion a little more open than one might expect. I read Tom’s book and reviewed it a while back. Lyndon’s theory, I just wasn’t quite able to absorb.

It’s days when I’m reading Penrose’s or Hoyle et al’s book that I feel particularly mathematically retarded.

One thing annoying in the alternative forums is that there is lot of people who are only there to promote their own idea, not to participate discussions as such. I’m actually surprised how little we get that in Arp’s forum, in that sense it’s a good forum.

There are quite a few postings like that which just seem to materialize without context. That said, the further out, self-aggrandizing or Chopra-esque they are, the less likely they seem to be to attract comment, which is as it should be, I think :)

As for myself, I don’t really have particularly strong theoretical leanings. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I’m inclined to take most of Arp’s observations at his word, though I’m less sure of the QSSC-inspired theories that come out of it.

My closest guess is that the universe is relatively static, pretty darned old if not infinitely so, and that there are processes which rob photons of their energy. William C. Mitchell’s Recycling Universe Theory is probably the closest-aligned with my own guesses as to how things work, though I do wonder about the exact recycling mechanism. Is there, as in QSSC, a process that takes all that energy sucked out of photons and deposits them in high gravity centers (akin to QSSC’s C-Field), which then spit out quasars to evolve?

Maybe it’s like the 1/2 cent checks in Superman III: perhaps neutrinos are the robbers, and they finally collect and show themselves in galactic centers.

Don’t hold me to that, though :) I will modify my path based on the evidence put forth :)

I’m looking forward to the LHC being built and bigger/better telescopes. Hopefully, there will be interesting surprises. I’m not holding my breath for a Higgs boson :)

You might know from Arp’s forum’s discussions that I’m currently doing some research in a group that involves him also. A-hem! :D Nice fellow he is.

*laugh* I do remember something about that, yes :) I was hoping for more frequent updates from the DGR camp because of that *nudge*. He seems a nice fellow from his postings on the Arp site and BAUT in particular. Voice of reason and all that :)

Yeah, but it seems that I’m not “hip” either (I even used only basic HTML in my website for crying out loud, no fancy java-stuff or any other such things). ;)

…and you don’t end your paragraph tags, either! ;)

Here, change your <H1> to:

<H1 style="font-size:smaller;font-family: Verdana;letter-spacing:normal;color:#003399;line-height: 140%;border:1px solid black;background-color:#FF6600;">

…and I’ll stop calling you uncool :)

Yay!!!

I see by my statistics that you did not use your new bookmark ;)

12/05/06 @ 20:24
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

I guess the big effort in that case would be trying to preserve any of the contents, because, quite frankly, there were some nifty messages on there that I would be sad to see disappear.

I have saved the discussions I have been involved with, but last time I did that was quite long ago, at least half a year ago.

It’s days when I’m reading Penrose’s or Hoyle et al’s book that I feel particularly mathematically retarded.

I have sometimes thought that if you can’t explain your theory so that laymen like us can readily understand it, it is a sign that your theory is not yet quite there.

My closest guess is that the universe is relatively static, pretty darned old if not infinitely so, and that there are processes which rob photons of their energy

Good description, I’ll add that it’s very big too, most likely infinitely so. ;)

Is there, as in QSSC, a process that takes all that energy sucked out of photons and deposits them in high gravity centers (akin to QSSC’s C-Field), which then spit out quasars to evolve?

Don’t ask me. :)

I was hoping for more frequent updates from the DGR camp because of that *nudge*

Well, there’s definitely something going on…

Voice of reason and all that :)

Indeed.

…and you don’t end your paragraph tags, either! ;)

Well, if there’s no need for them, why bother? Mind you, my website is just a draft in the sense that I haven’t put much thought into good website developing practices. For example, I have no idea if there’s some web-browser that would need the end paragraph tags. At some point I have to look into issues like that.

Here, change your H1 to:

Umm…well…that’s, umm, nice…I’ll think about it…

I see by my statistics that you did not use your new bookmark ;)

I have used it allright, but did you really think I would include you to bookmarks of all PC’s in my use? C’mon… ;)

12/07/06 @ 02:23
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

I have saved the discussions I have been involved with, but last time I did that was quite long ago, at least half a year ago.

I hope you saved some of those threads we had where people with Internet Explorer couldn’t even read it after a while because of that creeping style sheet problem :) Those were fun threads (and not just because it was mysteriously at the expense of IE users ;)

Gads, haltonarp.com is still down…!

(Perhaps it’s like a quantum teakettle: observing it decoheres it into the non-boiling state :)

I have sometimes thought that if you can’t explain your theory so that laymen like us can readily understand it, it is a sign that your theory is not yet quite there.

Some theorists never seem to get to that stage. Getting things to the layman stage is a lot like prototyping a release of software. You can keep doing cool hacks and look at how beautiful the source code is, but if nobody except the developers ever get to see any of it, or figure out user interface problems it’s going to have, what good is it? :)

Have you read Penrose’s book at all? I’m trying to figure out how much math background I’d need to start with to understand 25% of what he’s got listed in the book. Simple entry-level calculus isn’t nearly enough :)

Good description, I’ll add that it’s very big too, most likely infinitely so. ;)

I didn’t know we were so much on the same page on that :)

My guess on the size, too, is likely to be infinite - all indications are that space is completely flat, and I don’t know of many sensible non-infinite geometries that are completely flat.

Don’t ask me. :)

I guess it requires a few more diagrams. If I can figure out how to make good-looking galaxies in a paint package, I’ll probably throw some in when I review the “A Different Approach to Cosmology” book.

Well, there’s definitely something going on…

I would hope so!

So you have a read on whether DGR’s inkling of how the universe works is anything akin to ours? He’s a pretty tireless defender of the intrinsic redshifts (as an adjunct to, not a replacement for, cosmological redshifts, from what I’ve seen, which might be different than Arp and Narlikar, or perhaps he is only going as far as simply stating what’s in the data without bringing any Narlikarian explanations for cosomological redshifts)

Still looking forward to the next news bite. I’m subscribed to the ACG newsletter, and it wasn’t as exciting last time. Then again, I haven’t really heard anything exciting in news releases about the cosmos for a long time, even if it were something I disagreed with :)

Well, if there’s no need for them, why bother? Mind you, my website is just a draft in the sense that I haven’t put much thought into good website developing practices. For example, I have no idea if there’s some web-browser that would need the end paragraph tags. At some point I have to look into issues like that.

Used to do that myself. Then, when I started developing parsers and the like in the hopes of being able to extract information off real estate sites and the like (since their search capabilities were so bad), I started to realize how tough it is to work with ‘badly-formed’ HTML. You end up having to insert quite a few rules about resetting styles if particular things haven’t been closed by the time you close other tags. Just sticking <p> between paragraphs actually turns the whole page into nested paragraphs instead of sequential ones.

At the end of the day, they’ll look the same, but I sympathize more with standards, having seen what you have to do to handle violations behind the scenes :)

Umm…well…that’s, umm, nice…I’ll think about it…

I don’t see a web page update yet. I’m waiting… :) *tap tap tap*

I have used it allright, but did you really think I would include you to bookmarks of all PC’s in my use? C’mon… ;)

…and why not!??? :)

Cheers, Ari

12/08/06 @ 13:48
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

I hope you saved some of those threads…

I did, all of them (involving me). (This discussion seems to be turning out to be one of those also… :) )

…or figure out user interface problems it’s going to have, what good is it?

Well, it’s not good… and this is based on recent experiences with new DVD-recorder, I’m losing my nerves with it, designers of that thing are apparently totally alien to the term “user-friendly".

Have you read Penrose’s book at all?

No I haven’t, sorry.

I didn’t know we were so much on the same page on that :)

My guess on the size, too, is likely to be infinite - all indications are that space is completely flat, and I don’t know of many sensible non-infinite geometries that are completely flat.

The thing for me is that you would need to have very good reasons before adopting nonsensical concepts. To me, weird geometry would be nonsensical concept and that is what you need to have a universe with finite volume -> universe has infinite volume. Space expansion is a nonsensical concept for me too -> space is static. Another nonsensical concept is creation of the whole universe -> universe is infinitely old. But these are philosophical preferences, I can’t back them up with hard facts.

So you have a read on whether DGR’s inkling of how the universe works is anything akin to ours?

Well, not anything certain, but it seems that he might be roughly on same page. I think he’s very much on the same page with me in that we both seem to concentrate on the observational side, not caring much about theories.

He’s a pretty tireless defender of the intrinsic redshifts

Generally yes, but we all got pretty tired of BAUT-forum’s take on the subject, he hasn’t posted there for a long time, and I have made only couple of posts occasionally.

Still looking forward to the next news bite.

Did you look at the latest from Lopez-Corredoira & Gutierrez (http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0609514)? Quite interesting development.

At the end of the day, they’ll look the same, but I sympathize more with standards, having seen what you have to do to handle violations behind the scenes :)

I’m all for standards as well, and I’m going to put my website in line with them (some day when I have the time ;) ).

I don’t see a web page update yet. I’m waiting… :) *tap tap tap*

well… I’m sort of busy at the moment… you know what, there’s no need for you to keep monitoring that… I’ll let you know when I have done that… I will, I promise. :)

…and why not!??? :)

Just because :P

12/09/06 @ 05:29
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

Pinching quoted text from Ferment Magazine’s review of Penrose’s book, this is about typical:

A general U(2) transformation of the Hermitian matrix
(which we must bear in mind involves both pre-multiplication by
the U(2) matrix and post-multiplication by the inverse of that
matrix ) does ‘churn around’ the elements of this Hermitian matrix,
in very specific ways, but its Hermitian character is always
preserved. In fact this analogy is very close to the way in which
U(1) indeed acts in electroweak theory ( the only complication
being that we must allow for a linear combination of the diagonal
elements with the trace, in this identification, related to the
‘Weinberg angle’ that we shall be coming to in §25.7 )

I don’t even know my Riemann metric tensor from a hole in the ground. Most of the book is lost on me :) I’m not even sure where to begin gaining the skills to know what he’s talking about in most of the book.

But these are philosophical preferences, I can’t back them up with hard facts.

I understand, though nature seems to give hints by indicating that space is very, very, very flat, prompting oddball conjectures like Inflation (to wit, “space expanded so much faster than the speed of light for a mere moment, that it looks very, very, very flat)

Tough part about the field is that it’s just so much harder to do anything ‘definitive’ experimentally, but I have to admit that I really defected away when they started changing Big Bang Theory, and then had the nerve to turn around and claim they had predicted the things that they had adjusted Big Bang Theory to fit (like baryon density, which with tweaks still gave 25% instead of the 23.5% observed). They were still duking things out with steady-state when I first started reading science magazines.

Then string theory came along; a passing interest, but then to see them pursue the theory with no plausible experimental tests over decades - both fields as a whole have an illness of seeming to start from the conclusion and recast everything in that light.

That’s certainly not an approach that works in tracking down defects in my line of work, though I’ve met people who hold steadfast to the conclusion in software, and will doggedly paper over symptoms or invent unnecessary new pieces to solve things that weren’t a problem in the first place (before trying to make something fast, measure what was slow).

Generally yes, but we all got pretty tired of BAUT-forum’s take on the subject, he hasn’t posted there for a long time, and I have made only couple of posts occasionally.

I could see that. I’ve watched a few BAUT forum threads with you guys in it, and it can get just plain exhausting when you get to the point of flinging authorities back and forth or there’s an interpretation that people will brook no argument with. More papers and observations will help, but it’s apparent that you’ve probably reached the limit of who you can convince on BAUT :)

Nice of Phil to put the area together in the first place, though.

Phil Plait and P Z Myers are having a most amusing duke-out for Best Science blog.

More of the fun can be found here.

I’ve got to get in there and vote for PZ :)

Did you look at the latest from Lopez-Corredoira & Gutierrez (http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0609514)? Quite interesting development.

Hmmm!

From the abstract:

RESULTS. There is a clear excess of QSOs near the minor axis with respect to the major axis of nearby edge-on spiral galaxies, significant at a level 3.5-sigma up to angular distances of 3 deg. (or ~1.7 Mpc) from the centre of each galaxy. The significance is increased to 3.9-sigma with the z>0.5 QSOs, and it reaches 4.8-sigma if we include galaxies whose circles of radius 3 degrees are covered by the SDSS in more than 98% (instead of 100%) of the area.

So people are following up Arp’s claims, actually getting some interesting results that seem to corroborate Arp’s findings (a chance fluctuation is possible, but highly improbable). It’s a mighty thorough-looking paper.

Not only that, but the paper gets accepted to be published, too? Did it actually make it into A&A? How mainstream is A&A? (I think I remember DGR getting one of his papers published in ApJ, which has high standards, but will allow slightly less mainstream material as long as it adheres to those high standards)

Interesting :)

12/12/06 @ 23:23
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

Most of the book is lost on me :)

Looks like it would be lost on me too.

Tough part about the field is that it’s just so much harder to do anything ‘definitive’ experimentally,…

Yes, and yet they talk about precision cosmology. :D

…but it’s apparent that you’ve probably reached the limit of who you can convince on BAUT :

Perhaps so. Generally when I post to the Arp thread there, I don’t think about posting to the on-duty mainstream cheerleader I’m responding to, I think about posting to the silent readers, who might be more receptive.

Did it actually make it into A&A? How mainstream is A&A?

Well, apparently not yet, but arXiv says it was accepted to be published, so it will appear there. A&A is mainstream, but they all publish that kind of papers if there’s nothing wrong with the paper, and if they don’t run into ultra-mainstream referee.

12/13/06 @ 02:44
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

Yes, and yet they talk about precision cosmology. :D

13.7 Gyr +/- 0.2 Gyr was, and may still be all the rage these days. I thought that estimate presumed inflationary theory to be true, though.

Perhaps so. Generally when I post to the Arp thread there, I don’t think about posting to the on-duty mainstream cheerleader I’m responding to, I think about posting to the silent readers, who might be more receptive.

So the mainstreamers pop into the alternative forum every now and again with an “explain this!! challenge?”

Well, apparently not yet, but arXiv says it was accepted to be published, so it will appear there. A&A is mainstream, but they all publish that kind of papers if there’s nothing wrong with the paper, and if they don’t run into ultra-mainstream referee.

That’s good to hear. I hope the paper makes it in.

Speaking of ultra-mainstream referees, I’m reading The Long Tomorrow by a leading proponent of the evolutionary theory of aging by Michael R. Rose. He had a lot of fun when encountering peer reviewers who were molecular biologists, and they got their hackles up with the evolutionary propositions.

So what’s on your reading shelf? I have a funny feeling I may have asked you that in the forums at some point, but !@#$ haltonarp.com is still down…

12/19/06 @ 00:59
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

So the mainstreamers pop into the alternative forum every now and again with an “explain this!! challenge?”

Yes, they do that a lot.

So what’s on your reading shelf?

I’m currently going through John Gribbin’s book dealing with chaos and life (I could google it’s name, but I feel lazy now :) ), there’s lot of interesting stuff about chaos related issues.

12/19/06 @ 07:34
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

I’m currently going through John Gribbin’s book dealing with chaos and life (I could google it’s name, but I feel lazy now :) ), there’s lot of interesting stuff about chaos related issues.

Ohh! Lazy, lazy! :)

Is that one of his latest, Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity? The last book of his I had was Stardust, which was pretty darned good (I must say, I have very few problems with the way stellar research and science itself seems to be conducted).

So, haltonarp.com is still down. How long should I wait before going shopping for forum software and starting up a forum on cosmology.nimblebrain.net?

I think I would split the topics up a little differently: mainstream (perhaps - I might not do this since BAUT certainly gives this more than its due ;) ), main alternatives (plasma, QSSC, Arp/Narlikar), other alternatives (van Flandern?), personal alternatives (Lyndon), quantum physics (perhaps, since it seems strangely very strongly affected by cosmology) and astronomical news.

I would want forum software that is a little harder to spam in, if possible.

By the way, when am I going to see you spell my name properly (ritchie) in the google.fi search, Ari Jokimäki? ;)

12/20/06 @ 02:30
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

Is that one of his latest, Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity?

No, it’s Finnished version of “Deep Simplicity: Chaos Complexity and the Emergence of Life” (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Simplicity-Complexity-Emergence-Penguin/dp/0141007222) Probably the same book, just slightly different title in Europe and North-America.

The last book of his I had was Stardust, which was pretty darned good

He is a very good writer, there’s some interesting articles in his website too (http://www.lifesci.sussex.ac.uk/home/John_Gribbin/). Curiously, his website doesn’t list his newest books, latest there is from 1995, perhaps he thinks his newest books are not worth advertising ;).

(I must say, I have very few problems with the way stellar research and science itself seems to be conducted).

I wholeheartedly agree.

So, haltonarp.com is still down.

Yep, still!!! I have thought couple of times that I should track down Armen and ask what’s going on.

How long should I wait before going shopping for forum software and starting up a forum on cosmology.nimblebrain.net?

So, the two (cosmology.nimblebrain.net & haltonarp.com) can’t co-exist? :)

I think I would split the topics up a little differently: mainstream (perhaps - I might not do this since BAUT certainly gives this more than its due ;) ), main alternatives (plasma, QSSC, Arp/Narlikar), other alternatives (van Flandern?), personal alternatives (Lyndon), quantum physics (perhaps, since it seems strangely very strongly affected by cosmology) and astronomical news.

I would also split them up differently, but I’m not sure how. Yours has a problem in that who wants to post their theory to other or personal alternatives, everyone who is doing it seriously considers to be the main alternative. And from my point of view, it’s too theory oriented (where would you post the “hey guys, check out this quasar close to this galaxy!"?). I think I would follow roughly the haltonarp.com’s splittage so that I would have general astronomy, “new cosmology” I would rename “cosmological theories", I would take “quasars” and “galaxies” together and rename it “cosmological observations", forget about cosmogony, and I would add general science.

By the way, when am I going to see you spell my name properly (ritchie) in the google.fi search, Ari Jokimäki? ;)

Oh no! My face has z = 10 right now! I’m so sorry Ritchie! I don’t know how that escaped me, my pattern recognition software must have some bugs in it. I have probably done this also in haltonarp.com, you should have mentioned it sooner. Sorry once again.

12/21/06 @ 00:49
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

No, it’s Finnished version of “Deep Simplicity: Chaos Complexity and the Emergence of Life” Probably the same book, just slightly different title in Europe and North-America.

It probably is - they make a habit of occasionally changing the titles between North America and Europe.

I’m a little worried about Gribbin putting out a book on the emergence of life, though. I’ve seen a few attempts by physicists at attacking problems in biology, and they often get it wrong (Hawking: wrong on complexity of DNA - Penrose: wrong on neurology and consciousness). I wonder if Gribbin could get it right - he’s well-rounded enough that he might, but I would also guess that he might put too much stock in one particular mathematical contribution to life origins.

He is a very good writer, there’s some interesting articles in his website too. Curiously, his website doesn’t list his newest books, latest there is from 1995, perhaps he thinks his newest books are not worth advertising ;).

Well, perhaps when he started approaching his 50th book (he’s up to, what, 100 right now?), he got tired :)

So, the two (cosmology.nimblebrain.net & haltonarp.com) can’t co-exist? :)

I would also split them up differently, but I’m not sure how. Yours has a problem in that who wants to post their theory to other or personal alternatives, everyone who is doing it seriously considers to be the main alternative. And from my point of view, it’s too theory oriented (where would you post the “hey guys, check out this quasar close to this galaxy!"?). I think I would follow roughly the haltonarp.com’s splittage so that I would have general astronomy, “new cosmology” I would rename “cosmological theories", I would take “quasars” and “galaxies” together and rename it “cosmological observations", forget about cosmogony, and I would add general science.

Perhaps I’d just split the theory part into two categories: “main alternatives” and “other", but I would need better names for the categories. “Main alternatives” would include anything proposed/supported by two or more astronomers, so QSSC, Plasma Cosmology, Machian theories like Arp’s and Narlikar’s, would all pass.

I like the thought of combining quasars and galaxies into cosmological observations. Should we add other news in there? Where would we put the latest odd mainstream proposal? (Like the decelerating-then-accelerating universe in 2004?)

There ought to be a miscellaneous (but not called that), and I agree. Cosmogony was seldom visited, and posted to less often than that.

Oh no! My face has z = 10 right now!

Now that’s an excellent cosmologist’s take on facial colouring! I forgive you ;)

I don’t think you misspelled it on haltonarp.com, but unless you look it up, or we brave archive.org, or the site for some reason comes back intact with all the messages, I guess we will never know! :)

12/24/06 @ 00:23
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

I’m a little worried about Gribbin putting out a book on the emergence of life, though. I’ve seen a few attempts by physicists at attacking problems in biology, and they often get it wrong

I haven’t yet finished the book, but I don’t think he’s actually attacking the problem as such, perhaps more like pondering about it. And the word “emergence” in the title might not refer to origin of life, it might refer to a process called “emergence” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence).

Should we add other news in there? Where would we put the latest odd mainstream proposal?

Well, I would put it to cosmological observations. I wouldn’t divide the categories based on mainstream/alternative. Mind you, cosmological observations category might not be very good one, as there would in many cases be discussion about theories also. It’s difficult to come up with good way how to split these things up. Perhaps not split them up at all, have just one cosmology category instead.

Now that’s an excellent cosmologist’s take on facial colouring!

Well, of course the value is just a quess. I really should have taken spectra of my cheeks at the moment of blushing and compare it to the average spectra of my cheeks to acquire the actual redshift. Or at least I should have estimated it by looking up wavelengths of the colors involved ("pigskin” color and red) and estimate the redshift from those. By the way, isn’t there actual redshift mechanism here? Both colors originate from same matter, so it seems, at least initially, to be a redshift mechanism. It’s non-velocity, i.e. intrinsic one too. I wonder if the next big alternative for Big Bang has it’s redshift mechanism based on blushing.

I don’t think you misspelled it on haltonarp.com, but unless you look it up…

I looked it up from my saved files, and the first one I opened had this embarrasing mistake in the thread title!

12/24/06 @ 02:20
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

Argh! Where are my manners, it’s christmas eve here already, so merry christmas, Ritchie!

12/24/06 @ 02:23
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

I haven’t yet finished the book, but I don’t think he’s actually attacking the problem as such, perhaps more like pondering about it. And the word “emergence” in the title might not refer to origin of life, it might refer to a process called “emergence” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence).

Ah, that might not be so bad, then. There are a lot of systems I would consider emergent.

Well, I would put it to cosmological observations. I wouldn’t divide the categories based on mainstream/alternative. Mind you, cosmological observations category might not be very good one, as there would in many cases be discussion about theories also. It’s difficult to come up with good way how to split these things up. Perhaps not split them up at all, have just one cosmology category instead.

Just have one giant topic? *laugh* That’s a possibility :)

I wish I knew of forum software that allowed you to redirect follow-ups to another topic, like newsgroups can (although it has to be done manually). It could keep news items clean and yet still allow commentary.

Maybe we should start out with just a giant pile. We will need forum software that is good at handling threading and knowing which messages and replies are new.

Well, of course the value is just a guess. I really should have taken spectra of my cheeks at the moment of blushing and compare it to the average spectra of my cheeks to acquire the actual redshift. Or at least I should have estimated it by looking up wavelengths of the colors involved ("pigskin” color and red) and estimate the redshift from those. By the way, isn’t there actual redshift mechanism here? Both colors originate from same matter, so it seems, at least initially, to be a redshift mechanism. It’s non-velocity, i.e. intrinsic one too. I wonder if the next big alternative for Big Bang has it’s redshift mechanism based on blushing.

Maybe it’s not redshift per se. Maybe it’s blackbody radiation, and you’re simply going from white-hot closer to red-hot. Or maybe only alternating pixels of your face are receding. If it’s intrinsic, maybe it’s related to the K effect. We will call it the J effect, for Jokimäki.

Would I even be able to see you at z=10??

I looked it up from my saved files, and the first one I opened had this embarrasing mistake in the thread title!

…and I remained unoffended!? :)

Argh! Where are my manners, it’s christmas eve here already, so merry christmas, Ritchie!

It’s still just under an hour to go here, but fair enough! Merry Christmas, Ari!

12/25/06 @ 00:09
Comment from: Ari Jokimäki [Visitor]  
Ari Jokimäki

Just have one giant topic? *laugh* That’s a possibility :)

Yes, it is. Thing is that most likely you’ll start with handful of participants, and in that situation you really don’t need much subcategories. When you start having more traffic, then you might need subcategories, and what subcategories you need is dictated by what kind of things people are discussing in your forum. For example you might end up with people who like to discuss about growing daisies along the cosmological topics, so you would be forced to create a “growing daisies” subcategory (perhaps calling it “biology” subforum ;) ), and there’s no way you could have seen that one coming when you were planning your subcategories.

Maybe it’s blackbody radiation, and you’re simply going from white-hot closer to red-hot.

It’s not that because my body is not black, ha-ha-ha…

Or maybe only alternating pixels of your face are receding.

Alternating pixels would then have to be approaching, because there’s so high velocity involved that in order to keep everything in my face intact, it would have to be fast circular motion at the surface of my skin. But why we see only red, not the blue?

Would I even be able to see you at z=10??

I’m not sure, it might be that I would have to have blushed so much that my cheeks went infrared.

If it’s intrinsic, maybe it’s related to the K effect. We will call it the J effect, for Jokimäki.

Ok, I’ll start writing the wikipedia entry.

…and I remained unoffended!? :)

By the looks of it, yes. But perhaps you were secretly grinding your teeth…

12/25/06 @ 02:13
Comment from: Nimble [Member]  
Nimble

I’ve continued the conversation in our own thread over on the new forum(s) :)

http://forums.nimblebrain.net

It seems like it could work, and I was able to make the URL part of the software friendlier, and add some blockquoting goodness :)

(It’s great fun having the source code when you’re a programmer)

12/28/06 @ 22:51