“We do not realize what we have on Earth until we leave it.” -Jim Lovell

Well, the Scienceblogs comments are still on the fritz, requiring me to manually un-spam them one-at-a-time, but Starts With A Bang! is still going strong with some fabulous stories based on the best knowledge we have! This next week is poised to be a doozy of a fantastic one, as Treknology is out at last (Amazon is having a sale on it today, and my copies arrive on Wednesday), so next weekend I’ll have special instructions for you on how to order autographed copies from me. Also, check out Starts With A Bang on Forbes at 10:01 AM Eastern Time on Monday for the scoop on what promises to be the astronomical story of the year, I promise! Now, let’s take a look back at our stories from the past week:

For those of you who like radio, get up very, very early tomorrow (Monday) morning, and tune into Coast-to-Coast AM at 3 AM EDT / 12 AM PDT, where I’ll be their special guest to talk about science, astrophysics, and of course about the science of Star Trek! With all that on our plate, what more could you ask for? How about our comments of the week!

Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne are your 2017 Nobel Laureates in physics. Image credit: © Nobel Media AB 2017.

Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne are your 2017 Nobel Laureates in physics. Image credit: © Nobel Media AB 2017.

From Sinisa Lazarek on the spirit of the Nobel Prize: “I’m actually extremely happy that the Nobel prizes in science are still being given to actual people who are doing something worthwhile and still keeps the spirit of Nobel.”

I think they made a slam-dunk good decision this year as far as the physics prize goes. The whole idea of the Nobel Prize is for the person, people, or discovery that did the most to advance a particular discipline of science/humanities for the good of all people on Earth. It’s very, very hard to argue that the advances made in physics from being able to detect gravitational waves won’t be the greatest advance in astronomy since, perhaps, the launch of Hubble, the first use of multiwavelength astronomy, or even the invention of the telescope. This is truly a game-changer.

And if you’re still a doubter, I very much encourage you to pay extremely close attention to Monday’s news. Seriously.

Graham’s hierarchy of how to argue. (Pyramid format.) Image credit: Paul Graham.

From Michael Mooney on what I find offensive: “Well at least I know now that you rank criticism of your science, as I do, as more offensive than Elle H.C.’s straight out nasty personal insults.”

So we are all free to decide what we find more offensive. On the one hand, we have name-calling. You know, the kind of stuff we were all subject to when we were prepubescent kids and teenagers; the lowest ranks on the pyramid. Sure, it’s the lowest form of argument and the least able to refute an actual argument.

But then there’s what you do. You waltz into a science blog, written by a bona fide scientist, one who is legitimately and independently regarded as one of the best in the world at science communication when it comes to physics, astrophysics, cosmology, and astronomy. And you babble on nonsensically about how it’s all wrong, how we’re all believing in this house-of-cards hoax, and that we don’t know what science is. How we’ve got everything from relativity to quantum physics to astrophysics wrong, and how you know better. With no substance to anything you say, just confident, uneducated, loud ignorance. And when your folly is explained to you, it never occurs to you that the time for you to talk is over, and the time to listen is at hand.

Yes, I get it, physics doesn’t jibe with your way of making sense with the world. Therefore, you think physics is wrong. But it’s not wrong. You are. And although I quite gracefully allow you to shout into the void, you continue to say nothing that contributes productively in any manner, here or anywhere, as far as I can tell. So keep shouting into the void. But every time you threaten to leave, all I do is hope. Because the ship has sailed on me believing you’ll ever be humble enough to question your own ideas and actually learn something.

But every day is a new chance to get it right. Maybe today will be your lucky day. It’s up to you. Good luck. We’re headed into the science thicket now; maybe you’ll enjoy the journey.

Candidate planets from Kepler as of early 2011. Image credit: NASA / Kepler Science Team.

From Another Commenter on the number of planets Kepler missed: “It was a very good start.”

And this is a point that cannot be overstated. Take a look at the image above. Prior to Kepler, those purple points you see the ones up by the “Jupiter” line, were the only types of points we had, for the most part. Thanks to Kepler, we’ve discovered:

  • Planets down to smaller than Earth-size,
  • Around all types of stars in the Universe,
  • Orbiting quickly and closely,
  • And in a huge number of places.

The majority of planets appear to be peaked at sizes just a bit larger than Earth (but smaller than Neptune), but that’s also where Kepler was most sensitive. We basically know more about the inner solar systems of all star-types in the Universe than ever before, and Kepler was that tremendous first step in that regard. There is more to find, like medium-sized planets around large stars, the middle-to-outer solar systems, and the smallest, Mercury-sized planets and smaller around everyone. But that takes nothing away from the spectacular science that Kepler actually undertook!

Captain Gabriel Lorca aboard the bridge of the Discovery, during a simulated combat mission with the Klingons. Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive.

Captain Gabriel Lorca aboard the bridge of the Discovery, during a simulated combat mission with the Klingons. Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive.

From eric on the reviews of the new Star Trek: ““Black Alert” sounds like something the Wayans Brothers would put on a Star Trek send up.”

I would watch the hell out of that.

In an action-packed first two episodes, Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and Commander Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) have the fight of their lives in the debut of Star Trek: Discovery. Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive.

In an action-packed first two episodes, Captain Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) and Commander Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) have the fight of their lives in the debut of Star Trek: Discovery. Image credit: Jan Thijs/CBS © 2017 CBS Interactive.

From Steve Blackband on his level of Star Trek fandom: “I am the physicist/astronomy nutcase that pushed Neil Armstrong out of the way to get to Nichelle Nichols after all. Very embarrassing.”

This is a story I would actually love to hear. The self-flagellation you must feel you deserve ought to be tremendous… and yet you’re secure enough to own up to it. That’s incredible to come to terms with that. Good on you!

A scanning electron microscope image of a Milnesium tardigradum (Tardigrade, or ‘water bear’) in its active state. Tardigrades have been exposed to the vacuum of space for prolonged periods of time, and have returned to normal biological operation after being returned to liquid water environments. Image credit: Schokraie E, Warnken U, Hotz-Wagenblatt A, Grohme MA, Hengherr S, et al. (2012).

From Adam on why the spore technology never shows up in Star Trek: “The more I think about the spore drive and the lack of spore drive in any other Star Trek show, the more it feels like a huge plot hole for the series. I’m guessing that the tech is going to be lost at some point, because it’s never seen again, and since all the info for it is self contained on the star ship Discovery. However, we’ve seen countless other civilizations over the various shows, and none of them have this tech either.”

So I’ve got two theories on that: the Orson Scott Card theory and the Wesley Crusher theory. The OSC theory is based on the descolada/recolada storyline from his Ender’s Quartet series. That these spores exist throughout the galaxy, but they are biologically dangerous and need to be modified. We use genetic modification to silence the dangerous part of their genetic makeup, but it renders the “spore drive” unusable.

The Wesley Crusher theory is that the “spore drive” is what the Traveler uses to go throughout space and even time, and when Wesley goes to apprentice for him, that’s what he learns to connect with as well. But it’s a lost art (and science) that only a select few can still connect with.

More likely, it’s just a giant plot hole that they’re digging, and they’re going to need a deus ex machina to get out of it.

Executive producers and actors from’Star Trek: Discovery’ speak onstage during the CBS portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour. Image credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

From Denier on the end of Commander Landry: “In all seriousness, there was a moment in ST:D when the chief of security was working with Michael to drop the force field to the tardigrade pen, and I thought for half a second: “No big deal. The Chief of Security is far and away the strongest person on board”.”

And after half a second, you realized that you misspelled “dumbest,” which is a pretty high bar considering the level of crazy aboard that ship in general. Clearly nobody cared; she didn’t even get a funeral. You always hate to see a character that you’re told is smart, capable, competent, and so on, act in a way that’s antithetical to that. I personally cringe even more when it’s an underrepresented character, as I feel that’s just supporting the stereotype that, in this case, “women are no good at X.” It’s like the old xkcd comic:

‘How it works’ by Randall Munroe at xkcd.

And that’s just too bad. It wouldn’t have been hard to substitute some dumb, disposable redshirt, and keep one of the three major women characters alive, considering another one (Michelle Yeoh’s Captain Georgiou) was killed just two episodes ago. So we’ve got Lilly and Burnham, and they’re roommates, and that’s it for major women aboard the show now.

The worst part? I didn’t even notice that, until a woman I was watching with pointed it out to me.

The warp drive system on the Star Trek starships was what made travel from star to star possible. Image credit: Alistair McMillan / c.c.-by-2.0.

The warp drive system on the Star Trek starships was what made travel from star to star possible. Image credit: Alistair McMillan / c.c.-by-2.0.

From Dunc on whether Star Trek is scientific nonsense or not: “So, exactly like every other Star Trek then? ST has never really been hard sci-fi – it’s always been filled with sciency-sounding bafflegab and magical technology that has exactly whatever capabilities and limits the writers require at that moment in time (and change wildly from episode to episode).

I mean, I love Star Trek, and I’ve been (re)watching its different incarnations on a more-or-less continuous loop for almost my entire life, but let’s not pretend that this is a radical departure.”

There’s something different about Discovery, though. I’m still struggling to put my finger on it, but the best I’ve got goes something like this:

  • In previous incarnations of Star Trek, there was a new technology that was indistinguishable from magic that worked.
  • The science behind it was vague, loosely-based in what we knew, and not enunciated very clearly or with certainty.
  • The tech then made up new words to indicate that there were additional advances that included information that’s well beyond our current knowledge set.
  • And then scientists or science/tech-enthusiasts could fill in the blanks to make it feasible.

With Discovery, though, they’re trying to use actual, recent science news as the basis or justification for ideas that only follow if you misinterpret that science. I may not be explaining myself well, but that’s a big difference: from the edge of science with wiggle-room that then imagines new applications, to recent-but-well-understood science that gets twisted to mean something it never meant, and then taken to an extreme that pushes it into the realm of, “hey this is ruled out already given what we know but we’re plowing ahead anyway.” It may be only me who’s having trouble suspending my disbelief for it, but that’s what I’m seeing.

The predictions of Big Bang nucleosynthesis (curves) for the abundances of the light elements, based on the baryon-to-photon ratio (x-axis). The grey bar is that ratio, as observed by WMAP, and the horizontal lines are the observed element abundances. This picture pretty strongly constrains the normal matter density of the Universe in a way that most people here don’t appreciate.

From Sean T on the missing normal matter in the Universe: “The “missing matter” discussed in this post is normal matter. We know from real, actual observations of how things gravitate that we were not seeing all of the normal matter that exists. This WHIM is at least some of that missing normal matter.”

We know how much normal matter is in the Universe, folks. There really isn’t an argument on it: it’s ~5% of the critical density. It can’t be 10%, or 20% or 30%. It definitely can’t be 100%. And if you really want to know, it can’t even be 6%. Why not? The above measurements, from Big Bang Nucleosynthesis. If you want to make the light elements in the Universe, the elements we start off with after the Big Bang but before the first stars, you need to run the equations, and they’re dependent on the baryon-to-photon ratio. We count the CMB photons and know how many there are, so that means the only free parameter is the baryon density (i.e., normal matter density) of the Universe.

We observe the Helium-4, Helium-3, Deuterium, and Lithium-7 abundances in the Universe, and they are consistent with a baryon-to-photon ratio that gives the same Universe that WMAP and Planck gave: one with 5% of the Universe’s critical density being baryons. The new “missing matter” found is a part of that 5%. That’s what this discovery is; that’s what it says; that’s what it shows. That’s the story here. Anything else you’ve read into it to the contrary is wrong.

The Standard Model particles and their supersymmetric counterparts. This attempt to solve the hierarchy problem for particle masses predicts a whole new spectrum of particles, none of which have been detected. Image credit: Claire David.

From Frank on the state of the world of physics: “The world of physics may seem bleak now to some but I think we maybe really close to TOE.”

I think the opposite on both counts: I think the world of physics is incredibly bright, and there are so many interesting avenues to investigate. But I think there are many building their way to the dream of a theory-of-everything, and that path is proving quite fruitless. But we all have our own opinions, and you are entitled to yours!

On the other hand, we have three interesting comments about how to be wrong.

When the last puzzle piece doesn’t even fit into the puzzle, you know something is wrong.

From Michael Mooney: ““How To Be Wrong” is very simple. Don’t assume you “know it all” already. Imagine being an unbiased scientist.”

As a scientist, I very clearly and openly don’t assume I know it all, and am very open to challenging every assumption, result, and conclusion out there. But only when the evidence warrants it. In other words, I am biased in the direction that the evidence points.

On the other hand, I can encourage you to look inward and ask yourself those same questions. Has it ever occurred to you that you, as a non-physicist, non-scientist, and non-expert in this arena, don’t know very much about it? That you don’t have anything of value to offer to this discussion? That you should be in the position of closing your mouth and opening your mind, and listening to what those who’ve spent a lifetime studying this have to say about it? And that your vision of an “unbiased scientist” may be an utter abuse of science in and of itself?

From eric: “I’m in the process of teaching my kid lots of games. Like many small children, he doesn’t like to lose. But the more games he plays, the thicker the skin he gets. And the more he does it, the more he thinks about the overall activity rather than the outcome of any specific game. “Daddy won, I’m upset” becomes “Daddy won 6 of the last 10 and I won 4…pretty good” hopefully will become in the future “I have no idea who’s won more games this week. Play on!”

I think that’s a lot like science. People who do a little of it, or who have one single idea they focus on, tend to worry about whether it’s going to ‘win.’ Professional scientists, OTOH, tend more towards the attitude of “hey, 2 of my 50 papers have stood the test of time. Cool!” Or even “what, that paper of mine is still kicking around? I lost track. Who knew?” The activity becomes the focus, rather than the success or failure of any individual effort’s outcome.”

I like this interpretation. It’s not so much “how to be wrong” as it is “how to lose,” where being wrong is a specific form/special case of losing. Don’t be sad for the times you lose; all of us must come to terms with it, as you cannot win all the time. This is a valuable lesson, and should make you appreciate the times you were right (or won) all the more.

From GregH: “1. Thanks Ethan, for STEALING MY IDEA and writing it up better than I could.

2. Interesting that none of the comments here address being wrong. (Including this one.) Sure, it’s epistemology, but….?

3. Paging Dr. Dunning & possibly Dr. Kruger. Dr. Dunning, white courtesy telephone please.”

Hey, if I could invade people’s heads and steal their ideas, I would be a lot more successful than I am. 😉

An illustration of multiple, independent Universes, causally disconnected from one another in an ever-expanding cosmic ocean, is one depiction of the Multiverse idea. Image credit: Ozytive / Public Domain.

An illustration of multiple, independent Universes, causally disconnected from one another in an ever-expanding cosmic ocean, is one depiction of the Multiverse idea. Image credit: Ozytive / Public Domain.

From Anonymous Coward, summarizing what is and isn’t scientific about the multiverse: “It’s not a scientific theory because it can’t be tested as the other known laws of physics seem to preclude any possibility of testing it. But it does fall out as an intriguing consequence of the other bits of theory that do have observational consequences that can and have been successfully tested.”

Boom. You nailed it. I’m glad to see that I have successfully communicated the science of this to at least one person out there.

And I know it’s more than one, because some people seem to actually understand what I’m getting at, and what the purpose (and value) of what I do is. They’re just mostly silent here.

The expanding Universe, full of galaxies and complex structure we see today, arose from a smaller, hotter, denser, more uniform state. Image credit: C. Faucher-Giguère, A. Lidz, and L. Hernquist, Science 319, 5859 (47).

The expanding Universe, full of galaxies and the complex structure we observe today, arose from a smaller, hotter, denser, more uniform state. Alternatives to the Big Bang, like the Steady-State theory, fell out of favor due to the overwhelming observational evidence, but the Steady-State adherents never changed their mind, not until the day they died. Image credit: C. Faucher-Giguère, A. Lidz, and L. Hernquist, Science 319, 5859 (47).

Which is why I appreciate Sean T‘s comment: “…this blog is NOT a scientific journal. It is an attempt to communicate the current scientific consensus, along with other speculative ideas that may prove fruitful, to an audience that is composed of non-experts in the relevant scientific fields. The audience includes fellow physicists, other scientists who are not physicists (I fall into this category), and non-scientists. This type of communication can be very difficult due to the variety of the audience, and I personally think it’s well done, which is why I continue to read Ethan’s blog.

However, much like all science, the topics covered here ALL come with the same caveats — that this is our current best understanding of things and that this understanding might well change as new observations come to light.”

Everything is subject to revision. I have no doubt that if we continue to do science at the rate that we’ve done it over the past few hundred years, then by time the year 3,000 rolls around, we’ll look at much of our modern understanding of things the way we look at Copernicus’ or even Ptolemy’s “Universe” today: as quaint, as the beginnings of science, but full of bad ideas and assumptions that we didn’t even recognize. But we may look at it only as we look at Newton’s: as incredibly good, and fundamentally flawed and limited in a few ways, but super successful for its time and what it did nonetheless.

We are always learning and growing.

The first view with human eyes of the Earth rising over the limb of the Moon. Note how bright the Earth appears in comparison to the Moon. Image credit: NASA / Apollo 8.

The first view with human eyes of the Earth rising over the limb of the Moon. Note how bright the Earth appears in comparison to the Moon. Image credit: NASA / Apollo 8.

And finally, from bone-picker Art Glick on the Apollo 8 ‘Earthrise’ photo: “I have a bone to pick with the person that named Bill Anders Apollo 8 photo “Earthrise”. They clearly did not understand the mechanics of the Earth-Moon system.

The Earth does not “rise” on the Moon. I wonder how many people realize that if you lived on the Moon the Earth would hang in the same spot in the sky eternally. It would go through phases like the Moon does, but it would never change its position.

The only reason that Anders saw the Earth “rise” is because his craft was orbiting the Moon at the time.

To refer to the Earth “rising” from the Moon is just wrong.”

I presume you have the same bone to pick with the person who called it “sunrise” or “moonrise” since the Earth was rotating, not that any of these celestial objects were rising? I assume as well that you object to ISS astronauts claiming to see 16 “sunsets” in a day, since they’re only seeing the same effect over and over again as they go around the Earth?

I can’t tell you who first called it “Earthrise” (I don’t know), but I can give you Bill Anders’ recount of the photo itself. After they came around the Moon for their third orbit, they saw Earth appear over the limb of the Moon.

“I don’t know who said it, maybe all of us said, ‘Oh my God. Look at that! And up came the Earth. We had had no discussion on the ground, no briefing, no instructions on what to do. I jokingly said, ‘well it’s not on the flight plan,’ and the other two guys were yelling at me to give them cameras. I had the only color camera with a long lens. So I floated a black and white over to Borman. I can’t remember what Lovell got. There were all yelling for cameras, and we started snapping away.”

It’s incredible to imagine what that sight must be like. For those three men in 1968, there is no better word than “Earthrise” to describe what they saw. Let them have it; they experienced it and we didn’t. Maybe, someday, it won’t be such an uncommon experience, after all.

Go get your copy of Treknology now, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow for more incredible science and stories here on Starts With A Bang!

Comments

  1. #1 Frank
    Omaha,NE
    October 15, 2017

    One time a commenter here had said this blog is just a rehash of some others. I would want to say “I pity the fool” who thinks that 🙂

    In my opinion Ethan always doing an awesome work and also comments here are very high quality in general.

    “We are always learning and growing.”
    Hell yeah bra! 🙂

  2. #2 Michael Mooney
    October 15, 2017

    Wow! Harsh in both cases!
    Aside from being extremely braggadocious about himself (SO like Trump!), arguing science-by-authority and ignoring the substance of my arguments ( I “babble on nonsensically”) he has the brass to use Graham’s” hierarchy of how to argue” pyramid graphic with this, his favorite strategy, near the bottom:
    “Attacks the characteristics or authority of the writer without addressing the substance of the argument.”

    Ps: For those who don’t know, I am a retired psychologist with an avid interest in my chosen areas science for over 50 years, and I subscribe to the philosophy of scientific realism as contrasted with Ethan’s instrumentalism. He actually believes the relativity dictum, “It all depends on how you look at it”… resulting in shrinking physical objects and distances… just for openers.
    Finally, this is good for a hearty laugh:
    “As a scientist, I very clearly and openly don’t assume I know it all, and am very open to challenging every assumption, result, and conclusion out there. But only when the evidence warrants it. In other words, I am biased in the direction that the evidence points.”

  3. #3 Narad
    October 15, 2017

    For those of you who like radio, get up very, very early tomorrow (Monday) morning, and tune into Coast-to-Coast AM at 3 AM EDT / 12 AM PDT

    Um….

  4. #4 John
    Baltimore
    October 15, 2017

    Michael Mooney,

    Since you are retired, why not enroll in a local college, and take some of the physics classes offered? You have the time to invest, and the training might help you – either to rebut the claims you question, or to appreciate the physics behind the claims.

  5. #5 Art Glick
    October 15, 2017

    No, I would not object to it being called “Earthrise” had the moon been rotating to bring it into view the same as I don’t object to the term “sunrise” or “moonrise” for an observer here on Earth. It’s still rising in the sky to a stationary viewer on the planet.

    I really think you missed my point entirely. If you were an observer on the Moon, the Earth would hang there eternally in the same exact location, day after day, year after year, century after century. It would never move!

    I don’t think too many people realize that, and the Anders photo, or at least calling it “Earthrise”, perpetuates that misconception.

  6. #6 Art Glick
    October 15, 2017

    By the way, thanks for that account of that famous Apollo 8 moment. That picture hangs on the opposite wall in my office. It’s what I see when I look up from the screen, and by way of a bit of a confession, I have it mounted sideways to perpetuate the misconception I so vehemently deny. Had I hung the picture the way it was taken, the limb of the Moon would be vertical and not horizontal.

  7. #7 dean
    October 15, 2017

    “ignoring the substance of my arguments”

    There is no substance in your arguments MM, that’s the point. Everything objection you raise begins and ends with “That can’t be right because it doesn’t meet the definition of science I like.”
    You always leave the reader wondering “If he has some serious objection, why doesn’t he do the hard work and show it, with supporting calculations, to support himself?”

    Then we see something like your comment on whether the universe is finite or infinite in size, the comment where you demonstrate you don’t even have a basic grasp on the meaning of curvature, (almost as bad as cft’s mangling of math later in that string) and it’s clear you don’t have a clue about it. You just don’t like the results. Your comments are as baseless as the ones we still see from the occasional curmudgeon arguing that the “endless” decimal 0.999 ——- does not equal 1, or
    that it is possible to trisect a circle. Those folks don’t like those results either, and like you, they just don’t understand the underlying ideas. Like you, they won’t do the work to gain the understanding.

  8. #8 CFT
    October 15, 2017

    @John #3,
    Ethan is not the consensus in physics, sorry. His positions on inflation, global warming, quantum anything, psychology, biology, are not universal. In the real world, even in science, folks disagree about a lot of this stuff, and have good reasons to. Ethan pretends otherwise. Like many academic elitists who lack humility and court trendy leftist political views, he ignores human history almost altogether and replaces it with an idealized fiction that has little in common with reality. Go to some other physics sites where there is debate among physicists and scientists and you will see this is true.

  9. #9 Michael Mooney
    October 15, 2017

    John,
    I am not interested in being “trained.” I’ve studied whatever I’m interested in for about 60 years. (The “over 50 yr” estimate was too modest.) I am not impressed by credentials.

  10. #10 John
    Baltimore
    October 15, 2017

    CFT,

    “Ethan is not the consensus in physics, sorry.” As I have not suggested he is, no apology is needed.

    However, now that you raise the topic, he is IMHO pretty mainstream, if not exactly consensus. For example, he’s pretty much SOP for the Big Bang theory. In passing, Ethen gets kudos from me for the story on Hoyle’s development of nucleosynthesis. That was an interesting side story within the BB vs SS wars. Ethan’s writing on the Inflation hypothesis is also consistent with the other Science blog I follow. That conjecture is less well established than the BB, so yes, as a staunch defender of Inflation he’s open to greater criticism on that topic, and Sabine served up a good portion in her guest post. LOL! That had to sting!

    He’s on shakier ground when he gets into the Earth Sciences, and he knows it. That’s why he runs his stuff (or at least he says he does) past those whose focus is in that domain. Frankly, his duets with Denier are tedious, when they talk past each other, each correct within their chosen paradigm and each presenting evidence incommensurate for the other’s POV.

    But on hard physics, such as gravitational waves detected at LIGO and now VIRGO, he’s pretty much doing the Normal Science thing. There’s no Revolutionary Science at SWAB that jumps out and bites me in the nose.

    But enough about my opinion of Ethan’s writing.

    You claim that “Ethan is not the consensus in physics …”. OK. For the sake of argument, let us assume that is true. Please list the specific topics/items/details where Ethan’s claims are outré, eccentric, or unconventional.

  11. #11 John
    Baltimore
    October 15, 2017

    Michael Mooney,

    “I am not interested in being ‘trained.’ ”

    I suspect you were when you studied psychology. Why not in this discipline?

    ‘I am not impressed by credentials.”

    How about results? As the theories of GR & QM have been very productive, why not learn some of the POV that has been successful?

  12. #12 CFT
    October 15, 2017

    @John #8,
    This is something you really need to do on your own. No matter what source I quote, your first reaction is going to be to scoff, and that goes nowhere. I’m not playing that game. I am suggesting you widen your net and listen to far more voices. Sabine Hossenfelder who has posted on this site regards inflation as useless, she clearly states it doesn’t matter what you think another idea leads you to if it is still a dead end. Even considering an unobservable untestable conclusion with no predictive power seriously is a sign you aren’t really looking in the right direction and are starting to lose your way into mathematical mysticism. I also quoted you the literal horses mouth on inflation, Ethan’s opinion on the subject is nowhere near his professionally if you wish to pull rank:
    Google Paul Steinhardt, or just read the article.
    .
    https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/physicist-slams-cosmic-theory-he-helped-conceive/
    .
    When the guy who comes up with an idea tells you exactly why it’s a crap idea, and you ignore him and go along with a science popularizer pushing an agenda, you simply aren’t paying attention. Things aren’t going nearly as well as Ethan likes to claim.
    .
    You might also try the Not Even Wrong blog. You could learn about the growing divide between schools of thought in physics. I certainly don’t agree with many things said there, but it is a start which you can then chart your own course from.
    .
    Stop listening to the true believers for a change and start looking for the apostates if you want to know what is actually going on.

  13. #13 klac
    October 15, 2017

    “You waltz into a science blog, …”

    *slow clap*

    Nicely done Ethan.

  14. #14 John
    Baltimore
    October 16, 2017

    CFT,

    As a rule of thumb, when engaging in the exchange of ideas, the individual who make a truth claim is responsible for warranting or substantiating the claim. Absent supporting or substantiating evidence or argument, the truth claim usually lacks persuasive power, and is accepted as true by only the “true believers” as you call them.

    You’ve made the claim that Ethan, or more to the point, his posts here are “… not the consensus in physics …”. I have, for the sake of argument, granted that as true and have requested from you the evidence or line of reasoning you use to support your truth claim.

    Your reply was “This is something you really need to do on your own. No matter what source I quote, your first reaction is going to be to scoff, and that goes nowhere. I’m not playing that game.”

    I read that as declining to give the evidence or line of reasoning you use to support your truth claim. Fair enough. You are entitled to make as many unwarranted claims as you wish. I hope you do so with the foreknowledge that your original claim now lacks substance, and may be dismissed without further ado.

    As a matter of passing interest (perhaps), if you read the current entry on cosmic inflation in Wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_(cosmology) ) you may see that its assessment if inflation is generally in accord with that posted in this blog by Ethan. It is, of course, possible that Ethan wrote that entry, but it is for you to establish that link, should you wish to make that claim.

    I’ve provided my reference to support my position. Please reconsider and provide yours.

    As for your presumption of prejudice on my part “No matter what source I quote, your first reaction is going to be to scoff …”, that was uncalled for, and disappointing behavior.

  15. #15 Michael Mooney
    October 16, 2017

    @John #11
    I recommend that you study the difference between training and education. Also the difference between education and original work. I was in a “special studies” program for the latter, and my thesis was an original coalescence of philosophy and psychology. That included philosophy of science as applied to psychology.
    Ethan seems to be unaware of the limitations of his philosophy of science, instrumentalism, including of course the limits of our instruments in gathering information about the “real world.” I use scare quotes because of the philosophy that only what we can measure is real… And if we measure Earth to be flattened, as by a fast approaching observer, then that is an “equally valid” description of Earth, as per SR.
    But, of course, there is “no substance” to that criticism because SR is so well established. (One of my favorite peeves, of course. There are many more as evident in my history here.)

  16. #16 Michael Mooney
    October 16, 2017

    @dean #7
    “There is no substance in your arguments MM, that’s the point.”
    Vague generalizations are easy… no substance to argue about. Pick one and let’s get down to it.

    ” Your comments are as baseless as the ones we still see from the occasional curmudgeon arguing that the “endless” decimal 0.999 ——- does not equal 1…”

    I’ve been all over this one on another physics forum. Numbers are meaningless until they refer to “something.” Very, very, very close to one whole pie is still not a whole pie.

  17. #17 Elle H.C.
    October 16, 2017

    #17,

    You’re only hanging around here because you like the attention.

    If people stop responding to your claims you start complaining …

    Your a moron with absolutely no value whatsoever.

    You accusr Ethan of being ‘so Trump’ while actually it’s you who’s got no skills whatsoever and who criticizing none stop someone who’s actually gifted. It’s a bit like Trump harassing Obama for not having a birth certificate … to keep getting some love from racists.

    Only, Ethan isn’t really grasping what you are, and why you are doing so.

  18. #18 John
    Baltimore
    October 16, 2017

    Michael Mooney,

    “Ethan seems to be unaware of the limitations of his philosophy of science, instrumentalism, including of course the limits of our instruments in gathering information about the ‘real world.’ ”

    Ethan seems to be more focused on Physics than Philosophy. That may be why he spends less time that you think he should on the points you find engaging.

    If, by studying the principle subject material of this blog, you become more comfortable with it, you might have more enjoyable and fewer adversarial interactions here. That is assuming that you would prefer the former to the later.

  19. #19 Ragtag Media
    October 16, 2017

    Funny how our President Trump is used as a moral touchstone within a science communities “moral parameters”..
    In any discussion.. seems kinda ironic.
    lol

  20. #20 dean
    October 16, 2017

    MM, I will assume your whole pie comment references the issue with 0.999 — being the same as 1.

    Your comment “being very very close” is the clearest evidence you could give that you don’t understand basic mathematics. It is no wonder you are habitually wrong about physics.

  21. #21 dean
    October 16, 2017

    “my thesis was an original coalescence of philosophy and psychology. That included philosophy of science as applied to psychology.”

    I’m sure that level of work took you at least a month to finish. Nothing significant in the things you reference.

  22. #22 dean
    October 16, 2017

    John, none of the CFT, Mooney, ragtag, ever have evidence on their sides. It’s strictly denial and lack of understanding all the way down.

  23. #23 Steve Blackband
    October 17, 2017

    Philosophy is dead dontchya know? Just made up stiff by those who can’t do.
    As astrology is to astronomy.
    As faith healing is to medicine.
    As magic is to science.
    As homeopathy is to pharmaceuticals.
    As Star Wars is to Star Trek 😉

    Poking the bear…..

  24. #24 Alan G.
    October 17, 2017

    The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger Club is that it’s members aren’t ware they are in the Dunning-Kruger Club.

  25. #25 Alan G.
    October 17, 2017

    “aware” not “ware”.

    ‘Tupid keyboard (operator).

  26. #26 Michael Mooney
    October 17, 2017

    @dean #20
    You say there is no substance to my arguments. I challenge you to quit with the vague generalization and pick one of my arguments with “no substance” so we can get specific. You blow it off, presumably because you shrink from the challenge.
    Then I give you a specific argument against the common math nonsense you bring up (off topic) that .9999(etc) = 1. You say my comment is clear evidence that I don’t understand basic math, but offer no specif rebuttal. What evidence, exactly? Make your argument or quit blowing hot air.

  27. #27 Michael Mooney
    October 17, 2017

    @Steve Blackband #23
    Ethan’s instrumentalism is his philosophy of science. Scientific realism is mine. The difference is relevant to honest scientific dialogue… not that Ethan ever engages in the latter.
    Your cliche’ approach to philosophy doesn’t cut the mustard.

  28. #28 Steve Blackband
    October 17, 2017

    #7
    Cant say I was trying too hard.

    Origin (or not) of cut the mustard is interesting.
    https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/cut-the-mustard.html

  29. #29 Steve Blackband
    October 17, 2017

    OK Michael, being new to this blog i will bite a little. Looking up realism etc i am not sure i will be a convert, but with the fairness my best version of an open mind can muster I will indulge. I am bothered by needing to explain how science is successful, ‘making valid claims about unobservables’, ontology itself. Or that “a scientific realist would argue that science must derive some ontological support for atoms from the outstanding phenomenological success of all the theories using them.”
    Things like “For example, Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity showed that the concept of the luminiferous ether could be dropped because it had contributed nothing to the success of the theories of mechanics and electromagnetism.” It was dropped because it isn’t there I would have thought, Michelson Morely.. But thats wiki.

    So, I would be grateful if you would recommend me one or two articles that you think best define and support scientific realism for the beginner.

  30. #30 Michael Mooney
    October 18, 2017

    @Steve Blackband #29
    Here are a couple of links and a little commentary on scientific realism.

    http://www.fitelson.org/164/realism.html
    (quote edited)
    Traditionally, scientific realism asserts that the objects of scientific knowledge exist independently of the minds or acts of scientists and that scientific theories are true of that objective (mind-independent) world…
    Opposed to scientific realism are a variety of antirealisms, including phenomenalism and empiricism. Recently two others, instrumentalism and constructivism, have posed special challenges to realism. Instrumentalism regards the objects of knowledge pragmatically, as tools for various human purposes, and so takes reliability (or empirical adequacy) rather than truth as scientifically central. (end quote)
    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/
    (Quote)
    …scientific realism is a position concerning the actual epistemic status of theories (or some components thereof), and this is described in a number of ways. For example, most people define scientific realism in terms of the truth or approximate truth of scientific theories or certain aspects of theories. Some define it in terms of the successful reference of theoretical terms to things in the world, both observable and unobservable….
    Others define scientific realism not in terms of truth or reference, but in terms of belief in the ontology of scientific theories. What all of these approaches have in common is a commitment to the idea that our best theories have a certain epistemic status: they yield knowledge of aspects of the world, including unobservable aspects.
    … the scientific realist holds that science aims to produce true descriptions of things in the world
    Metaphysically, realism is committed to the mind-independent existence of the world investigated by the sciences.
    This idea is best clarified in contrast with positions that deny it. For instance, it is denied by any position that falls under the traditional heading of “idealism”,…(end quote)

    This includes relativity’s philosophy that it all depends on how you look at it, i.e., no objective world independent of measurement/observation. It also includes Ethan’s instrumentalism: ‘reality is what we can measure.’
    (Quote)
    Epistemologically, realism is committed to the idea that theoretical claims (interpreted literally as describing a mind-independent reality) constitute knowledge of the world. (end quote)

  31. #31 Elle H.C.
    October 18, 2017

    @MM

    From the page you linked to:

    “Led by the successes of statistical mechanics and relativity, however, PLANCK and EINSTEIN helped turn the tide toward realism.”

    and from yourself @27

    “Scientific realism is mine.”

    Now you either agree with Einstein and SR/GR and you are also a ‘realist’ or you aren’t one.

    You do realize what ‘successes’ means, it means that GR was proven to be ‘real’ while all you have been doing here is complaining that relativity is wrong.

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