Crisis in cosmology continues with conference of big-bang dissidents
Published: 19 September 2008(GMT+10)
Image NASA, ESA, J. Hester (Arizona State University)
On 7–11 September 2008, about 50 dissident astronomers and physicists met at the Red Lion hotel in the quiet harbour town of Port Angeles, Washington, USA. I was one of them. They met to discuss problems facing the ‘big bang’ model of the structure and origin of the Universe, in the hope of one day developing a robust replacement that is not plagued with the problems the standard model faces.
This was the second in a series that started in Portugal in 2005. The conference was titled Crisis in Cosmology 2: Challenges to Consensus Cosmology and the Quest for a New Picture of the Universe.
It was also attended by a few dozen interested observers, and the local media.
Remarkably, the conference coincided with the commissioning of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva and reporters1 asked questions about the possibility of the LHC recreating some initial conditions of the early big bang universe. As it had been often reported that the LHC may create mini black holes2 and suck the Earth into its wake, the timing seemed perfect. [But see our article on the LHC hype—Editors].
The ‘big bang’ theory is a house of tissue paper that is about to collapse under its own weight.—Non-creationist physicist David Dilworth
Scientists from the conference told reporters that such questions hardly apply because the ‘Big Bang’ origin of the universe is a myth—it never happened. The Daily Peninsula News quoted them as follows:
‘Said physicist David Dilworth: The “big bang” theory is a house of tissue paper that is about to collapse under its own weight.’
‘Cosmology studies the natural order of the universe. A “good cosmology” would explain how the universe works, but not necessarily explain its origin, Van Flandern said … the “big bang” theory does rely on unproven ideas.’
In that article, Van Flandern went on to say that a level of agreement had been reached amongst the attendees. I would actually dispute that, unless it refers to the fact that the only agreement was that the ‘big bang’ is a poor description when compared to what we observe. The common thread of the conference was that something better is needed. And there was a lot of emotion—it seemed each had his own cosmology, and most were also atheists.
Image ESA, and Digitized Sky Survey (Caltech)
Most who attended were taking time off from their jobs or were self-employed. Only about eight were officially representing their own universities—myself included. Many others had been invited but were afraid to attend, afraid of being labelled by association with this group.
This group started the Alternate Cosmology group3 a few years ago with a general mission statement ‘Open Letter’4 that was published in New Scientist and outlined the many major problems with the standard LCDM (cold dark matter) ‘big bang’ cosmology.
Initially only a small number had signed the Letter, but when the website went up the list grew to more than 300, many from reputable universities.
During the introductory comments Peter Beckman was quoted saying, ‘He peered past the giants who were blocking the light.’ This was in the context of Sir Isaac Newton, who referring to his scientific advances, said ‘I have seen farther by standing on the shoulders of giants’—those who had gone on before. Clearly they feel that the dominance of the standard model now stifles new ideas—a dictatorship that controls how they must think.
They feel that the dominance of the standard model now stifles new ideas—a dictatorship that controls how they must think.
I asked a few attendees what their reason was for disliking the ‘big bang’. For example, if it was found that it could explain the observational data without introducing fudge factors, would you accept it? One participant told me, ‘For me it is philosophical.’ Another said he believed the universe was static. Another said he didn’t believe in the ‘big bang’, because it begins in time and that must have been a miracle. (It always ends up being a matter of faith—a worldview.)
Tom van Flandern, of MetaResearch Institute, laid out his requirements for a good model. They included that there must be no miracles. He stressed that almost every day—as if he felt that if he said it often enough, others would eventually believe him. Some didn’t accept that condition (me included) but for those others who didn’t it seemed it was not because they believed in miracles but because they believed the universe itself could create matter out of the ‘nothing’ i.e. creation ex nihilo.
Van Flandern was very dogmatic about not being dogmatic. He was convinced of his own belief in a static infinite eternal flat universe. He was quite forceful in putting his view, excluding all others.
I presented the work I have done on large scale periodic structure of the universe as determined from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the 2 degree Field Galaxy Redshift Survey (2dF GRS). Eric Lerner commented that what I have shown them may well be the largest single space structure ever discovered—1 billion light-years across. I think it could well indicate that our galaxy is cosmologically near the center of the physical universe—that we can see anyway.
Lerner presented his analysis of the Tolman surface brightness test for galaxies as a function of redshift (from z = 0.03 to 5.7), hence distance in the universe, when we look deeper and deeper into space. His claim is that the data will only fit a static non-expanding universe. This was also supported by a study of the separation between hydrogen clouds from Hubble Space telescope data. It found that they have constant separation as a function of redshift. This is certainly contrary to the notion that space is expanding and hence to the ‘Big Bang.’ And it is also a problem to any expanding universe model.
There was a lot of emotion and little agreement amongst the attendees. At times emotions were so strong that discussion became heated. But these men are passionate and I believe it is better to be passionate and seek a better answer, than to passively accept a flawed model. There is desire among them to expose the ‘big bang’, but they really don’t know how to proceed. It seems to again be a battle between David and Goliath.
While Van Flandern, as stated earlier, was very up front about rejecting miracles, others didn’t necessarily agree. As one told me, that supposes he knows all that can be known about the universe. It is a pity that this talented group is so against the notion of a Creator, who told us that He did create the Universe in a specific way some six thousand years ago as measured by Earth clocks. It is only left up to us to find out some of the details.
- Page A6, September 11, 2008 Return to text.
- This was voiced by some lone physicist but there seem to be no grounds for such a belief. Some very high energy cosmic particles exceed the final energy of the protons in the LHC, so few physicists give any credence to the claims. Nevertheless the opposing beams of protons racing around the 27 km beam path are not to collide for some time yet as various stages of commissioning and calibration are carried out. Full power will not be reached until after a year. Return to text.
- <www.cosmology.info> Return to text.
- <http://homepages.xnet.co.nz/~hardy/cosmologystatement.html/> Return to text.