Re: Evidence for "Big Bang Theory"

Bruce D. Scott (
28 Apr 1995 14:01:49 GMT

: In article <3nofju$>, (Bruce D. Scott) writes...
: >Ben Weiner ( wrote:
: >
: >: This is not just garbage, it's insulting to the memory of so many
: >: Soviet scientists who were murdered or imprisoned for holding beliefs
: >: unpopular with Stalin's pets. Robert, even if you think advocates of
: >: your pet theory are being driven out of the profession, I defy you to
: >: name me any astronomers (or other scientists) in the US who have been
: >: physically harmed as a result of attacking "big bang" theories.
: >
: >Yes, quite a few of us by now in physics and other fields have met
: >colleagues from the former Soviet Union and learned about things like this
: >first-hand. Quacks cease to be just quacks when they slander people who
: >really put their livelihood on the line during those dark times.

: Well, I know of at least one US astronomer that was "harmed" in the sense
: that he was persecuted and denied his livelihood for attacking the Big
: Bang theory--Halton Arp. As a result of his continuing to look,and find,
: inconsistencies with cosmological redshifts (mostly quasars) he was finally
: denied telescope time. (I believe at UC Berkeley?) Whereupon, he quit in
: disgust and moved to Germany (at Max-Planck?).

: The West has more subtle ways of handling nonconformists...deny telescope
: time, deny funding, etc.

James, this is _exactly_ what I had in mind when I qualified myself above.
Halton Arp was denied time on HST [*] because his proposal was not judged
to have sufficient merit to jump far enough along the ladder to get into
the range where proposals were approved. Here is the point: the majority
of proposals were also rejected. The reason is that many more people apply
than can be accommodated.

[*] [When this was explained to me a couple of years ago, the telescope was
said to be the Hubble (HST)]

What is the result of this? Arp doesn't get "major-league funding"; he
simply gets minor-league funding. He has a position, and he publishes.
How one can compare this to people doing forced time in psychiatric wards
in the former USSR is something that needs to be explained to me.

For the record: I also would like to get "major-league funding" in the
form of massively parallel computer time, so my tokamak code could run well
enough to confirm or deny the majority of theoretical scenarios people put
forward to explain tokamak energy transport. The reailty is that there is
not enough resources to go around, and up to now I cannot do this. Too
bad. The judgement in Germany is that climate research is more important,
and the judgement in US fusion (where I don't work but can use a colleague
doing similar work as the example) is that a certain collaboration will be
the flagship and there isn't enough to go around for independent efforts on
the largest scale (there is only one "numerical tokamak" effort). That is
simply the reality of doing science in a society with finite resources. I
am not denying that personal pettiness enters these deliberations (it
does!), but these can be hardly called "human right crimes". The latter
start to happen when people's careers get destroyed [+], not simply when an
attempt to enlarge one's portion of the resource pool is denied.

I also would have liked to see Arp get his time, but that's how the
entrails fell.

[+] see this URL:

or the mirror site in Germany:

Dr Bruce Scott The deadliest bullshit is
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Plasmaphysik odorless and transparent -- W Gibson