Re: Big Bang: How widely accepted?

Roelof Ruules (
Thu, 31 Aug 1995 13:42:35 GMT

In <> (Robert Roosen) writes:

> Let me put it another way. The Big Band Model is certainly a
>nice physical model. It does indeed contain most of the observational
>information presently available from physical astronomy. However, it is
>just that--a model. i. e. a fit to a limited set of observations. For
>instance, the Big Bang does not include telepathy in its model.
Should it? As far as I know, no astronomical or physical theory that is
widely accepted includes telepathy. I don't think the BBT claims to explain
everything. (If there is one widely accepted misunderstanding about astronomy,
or physics, then it is that a physical `theory of everything' should explain
_everything_. It shouldn't. It should only tie together the fundamental
physical laws, the ones that are widely accepted right now.)

Come to think of it, the BBT does not include any psychological explanation.
Oh, and it does not include any linguistics. Hmmm, now that we are at it,
it's not very strong in explaining art either. Maybe it _is_ a bad theory ;)

>It is not really a cosmology. Many astronomical cosmologists say that openly.
>The support mainly comes from a bunch of war surplus physicists who learned
>how to do bomb calculations and are looking for somewhere else to peddle
>their skills.
Oh come off it! I don't know that many astronomical cosmologists, only those
working down at this University (the biggest in this country, by the way).
None of them was a physicist during the war, simply because they were too
young or not yet born. Yet most of them support the BBT, and they call it
cosmology, which it is.

> Explaining the origin of the universe with the Big Band (does anyone
>else commonly make this particular typo?) is like
>explaining the origin of milk by proving that it comes from the store in
>wax paper cartons. Indeed it does, however there is more to the story.
>Science has limiting assumptions, and those scientists unfamiliar with
>the universe outside their specialties are prone to think that those
>assumptions are real boundaries.
Unfortunately, those _outside_ the specialty think they can understand _and_
explain what is going on inside the specialty. Indeed science has limiting
assumptions. It would be a fine mess if it hadn't. Most research, both in
the sciences and in other accademic fields, has limiting assumptions, or
it would become simply too much. These limits are not sharply defined.
Some people in the field will call a certain theory `scientific', and others
in the field will not. That's one of the reasons why we do research.
Other theories are widely accepted, and yet leave questions unanswered---
simply because the alternatives are worse, and because it is always better
to have an assumption to work from than to have nothing at all. BBT is one
of those theories.
And finally there are theories that are so generally accepted, so well tested
and so convincing in their explanations and predictions, that they are called
laws. Even then, you may find a scientist or two not accepting such a
theory, but such is life. Mechanics, electromagnetism, relativity and
quantummechanics belong to this category.

All this does _not_ mean that it is easy to accept what you learn from these
theories. Especially quantummechanics seems to violate many of our intuitions.
Saying that the universe evolved from `nothing' is not easy to accept. Maybe
there was something before the Big Bang, who knows, but our current physical
knowledge does not permit to look beyond the BB. So be it, for the moment.

As I said earlier in this thread, let the physicists decide what is good for
them. But don't come banging into our little milkshop, saying you don't
believe the story about the cartons, if you don't know a thing about milk or