Hi Brent,

On 1/25/2012 2:05 AM, meekerdb wrote:
On 1/24/2012 8:27 PM, Stephen P. King wrote:
Hi Brent,

On 1/24/2012 9:47 PM, meekerdb wrote:
On 1/24/2012 6:08 PM, Stephen P. King wrote:
Hi John,

1. I see the Big Bang theory as a theory, an explanatory model that attempts to weave together all of the relevant observational facts together into a scheme that is both predictive and explanatory. It has built into it certain ontological and epistemological premises that I have some doubts about.

Such as?

Let us start with the heavily camouflaged idea that we can get something, a universe!, out of Nothing.

It is not at all camouflaged; Lawrence Krause just wrote a book called "A Universe From Nothing". That the universe came from nothing is suggested by calculations of the total energy of the universe. Theories of the origin of the universe have been developed by Alexander Vilenkin, Stephen Hawking and James Hartle. Of course the other view is that there cannot have been Nothing and Something is the default.

But note that this calculation, which flows inevitably from our knowledge of conservation laws, is done ex post facto, after the fact. We are here, experiencing a universe, and noticing that it is finite both in the spatial and temporal sense. Is this not what we should expect an entity that has a finite limit on its ability to observe? We seem to easily forget or ignore the full implication of finiteness! B/c of the way that time and spatial aspects cannot be taken as separate, the total universe could very well be infinite but we would never observe that totality if only because of the finite limits on resolution of our senses, no matter how extended they might be with technology. I am making a big deal of this as it is the reason why I have been arguing strongly against naive realism while warning against equally fallacious alternatives. The philosophical problems that we have been discussing in this List are very tough but I believe that we have a combined brain trust very capable of figuring this stuff out. :-)

2. Dark energy is nothing more than a conjectured-to-exist entity until we have a better explanation for the effects that it was conjectured to explain. We have never actually detected it. What we have detected is that certain super-novae seem to have light that appears to indicate that the super-novae are accelerating away from us. This was an unexpected observation that was not predicted by the Big Bang theory so the BBT was amended to include a new entity. So be it. But my line of questions is: At what point are we going to keep adding entities to BBT before we start wondering if there is something fundamentally wrong with it?

I think what you refer to as the Big Bang Theory is called the concordance theory in the literature. It includes the hot Big Bang, inflation, and vacuum energy. The reason Dark Energy (so called in parallel with Dark Matter) was so readily accepted is that it was already in General Relativity in the form of the cosmological constant. It didn't have to be amended; just accept that a parameter wasn't exactly zero.

A "constant" that Einstein himself called the "greatest mistake of his life".

Only because it caused him to miss predicting the expansion of the universe - or maybe you don't believe the universe is expanding.

Not so. The augmented field equations are unstable and strongly dependent on the precise choice of the Cauchy hypersurface input. The cosmological constant is a two-edged sword because it can give a universe that almost instantly collapses or explodes. You would do well to read up more on it.

The problem is that one can add an arbitrary number of such scalar field terms to one's field equations. Frankly IMHO, it is more "something from nothing" nonsense.

But you can't add any others that are simpler than the curvature terms, which are second order, except the constant CC term.

    OK, I will bow to your knowledge of the math on this point.

It is not possible to prove that something exists in an absolute sense, for who is the ultimate arbiter of that question?

There is no ultimate arbiter. What is thought to exist is model dependent and it changes as theories change to explain new data.

WOW! We been informed that we can now make things pop in and out of existence merely by shifting our belief systems. Who might have imagined such a wondrous possibility! Umm, NO. Existence is not subject to our perceptions, theories of whatever.

Read more carefully. I wrote "What is *thought* to exist..."; which is obviously true. We thought atoms existed long before they could be imaged. We think quarks exist based on a theory that says they can't be observed.

OK, but you get my point I hope. What I am trying to drive home is that we must be very careful with our use of the word "exist". There is a point where in our drive to have a theory that is invariant with respect to point of view we completely obviate the utility of the theory as predictive by being such as ourselves.

"The most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by
nothing, and for nothing."
         --- Quentin Smith

What a pathetic and sad philosophy to embrace. Why even bother living an instant longer?



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