Comments of the Week #72: On Dark Matter, Black Holes, Starlight and more!

“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.” -Jack London

When you think about the Universe all the time, from the smallest scales and the most fundamental particles to the largest cosmic structures and everything in between, the hard part isn't choosing a topic to discuss; it's choosing which small aspect to focus on! At Starts With A Bang this past week, here's what we chose:

And if you wanted another perspective on Meteor Showers, I had a contribution over at Forbes:

Our voting on which book chapter our Patreon supporters will receive is almost complete, and the two leading chapters are separated by just one vote! (Get in on this; join and donate today.) That said, it’s on to our Comments of the Week!

Image credit: ESO / L. Calçada. Image credit: ESO / L. Calçada.

From Chris Mannering on dark matter halos: "What I don’t understand is what sort of distribution of diffuse dark matter does it take for each next further away star from the core to speed up just enough in spirals that it’s as if the arms were solid. What is the formula for that?"

It's not, as you say, that it's as if the arms were solid; they aren't. They don't rotate around the galaxy like a record, where the outer portions spin at the same angular velocity as the inner parts. Nor do they rotate like the planets in our Solar System do, where the inner ones orbit much more quickly than the outer ones (below, left). Instead, they move at the same linear velocity as they orbit: the same speed, but because the orbital path is longer, they take longer to go around the galaxy.

The "formula" for this motion is that you need a diffuse halo of slightly decreasing density as you move outwards. So you need for the dark matter to be clustered somewhat more densely towards the center, and you need that density to fall off as you move to greater distances. The fall-off should be slow, and that's very consistent among cold (and warm) dark matter simulations and matches up pretty well with what we observe. There are arguments over the innermost cores of dark matter halos, but from a few light-years out and beyond, the density of the halo is well-understood.
Image credit: Chris B. Brook & Arianna Di Cintio, via Image credit: Chris B. Brook & Arianna Di Cintio, via

But make no mistake, the arms aren't solid. Rather, they move according to density wave theory, the general takeaway being that these arms are not consistent features, but are waves of new star formation triggered by compression waves of greater density that collapse the gas present in the galaxies. There's more going on than you might initially intuit here. Dark matter is part of the explanation (for the rotational speeds of the individual stars), but there's a whole lot more physics at play than just dark matter!

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and T. Brown and J. Tumlinson (STScI). Image credit: NASA, ESA, and T. Brown and J. Tumlinson (STScI).

From Anthony on the dark matter-black hole connection: "I assume that a black hole is still able to capture dark matter, even if one won’t form directly from dark matter."

It not only can, it must. Once you have a black hole, it's true that nothing that enters the event horizon can escape again. The vast majority of a black hole's mass is going to come from the initial event that caused its formation: the collapse of a giant stellar object and/or mergers of many existing black holes. But if you're a dark matter particle that happens to cross the event horizon, you're in there for certain, too!

Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope collaboration. Image credit: NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope collaboration.

I ran the numbers about a year ago, and here were some important takeaways:

  1. Black holes form almost entirely (~100%) out of normal matter no matter where they form.
  2. The ones that form where the density of matter is low — like out where we are — will have a substantial portion of that growth (around 16%) come from dark matter, but that growth is (on average) negligible compared to the initial black hole’s mass.
  3. The ones that form where the density of matter is high — like near the galactic center — will experience significant growth, but at least 99.996% of that growth comes from normal matter and not dark matter.

So yes, it happens! But it's not very important for the black hole's mass... at least, not yet.

Image credit: Ralf Kaehler, Oliver Hahn and Tom Abel (KIPAC). Image credit: Ralf Kaehler, Oliver Hahn and Tom Abel (KIPAC).

From Michael Kelsey on the dark sector: "Ethan, as a particle physicist I need to take exception to one of your introductory comments. You wrote, “Dark matter sure does have gravity, and it sure doesn’t form black holes, dark matter stars, planets, or dark atoms.”
Actually, we _don’t_ know this! In fact, some would argue that this assumption, in comparison to the part of the universe we do know about, is a horrible oversimplification. Why shouldn’t the various dark matter particles (why should there be only one?) have a whole suite of mutual interactions building up DM atoms, molecules, and larger structures?"

Well, there are some things we know. We know that you can't have incredibly dense, compact, bound clumps or we would have detected them due to microlensing. We know that the self-interaction cross-section can't be too large, or dark matter would be "sticky" and wouldn't form the diffuse network of large-scale structure that we require to reproduce the observed Universe. And we know that dark matter can't build up atoms and molecules the same way normal matter does because when two big "clumps" of dark matter collide, they don't emit heating signatures the way normal matter does.

Image credit: Gerard Lemson & the Virgo Consortium, via Image credit: Gerard Lemson & the Virgo Consortium, via

But with that said, we have only constraints on what dark matter cannot do. There's plenty of potential for it to be made of multiple components, for those components to self-assemble in some way(s), for self-interactions or dark matter-normal matter interactions to be non-zero, and for a slew of diffuse, low-interaction dark matter substructures to exist.

It's important to both keep an open mind, but also to be aware of what the constraints are. If Michael Kelsey is lucky, the dark matter-normal matter cross section will net SuperCDMS a Nobel Prize! If he's (and all of us are) unlucky, it may be so small that there will be no experiment we can design to detect that interaction at all.

The search continues.

Image credit: Tatsuya Tanaka of Miniature Calendar; original via Image credit: Tatsuya Tanaka of Miniature Calendar; original via

From PJ on miniature repairmen: "Love the back of the PC motherboard above! Makes me think about how small components are becoming. Tweezers & magnifying lenses are too common for repair of these boards. I could definitely do with a handful of these little guys to help. :)"

I'm pretty sure these farmers are planting rice-fields, but the detail on figurines this small is definitely impressive. This seems to be a uniquely perfected-by-the-Japanese phenomenon -- of miniaturization without the loss of quality -- but I'm glad we're equally impressed.

Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS.

From Denier on Mars Curiosity: "The Wile E Coyote landing was amazing. Kudos to ACME, but to this day the design decision on the wheels is hard for me to wrap my head around. Before Curiosity was ever packaged up for launch, they knew the wheel design was not good. Even Scarecrow, a testing version of Curiosity stripped down to only the drivetrain, was shredding these wheels."

To say that Scarecrow was stripped down is being completely unfair to the testing team: Scarecrow was configured exactly so that the forces on its wheels on Earth would be the same forces on Curiosity's wheels on Mars. They also have deliberately driven Scarecrow over harsher terrain and rougher conditions than they expected to find on Mars. Finally, the damage you show to Scarecrow's wheels (below) is severe, but you left something out.

Image credit: NASA's "Scarecrow" test team, MSSS. Image credit: NASA's "Scarecrow" test team, MSSS.

The rover still drove fine! Even with that damage, there's no problem in traversing sandy, rocky terrain. One of the tricks the Mars Curiosity rover uses to deal with its damaged front-and-middle wheels is very clever: it spends a good deal of time driving backwards, so that the undamaged rear wheels are in the lead. As Matt Heverly, the lead driver for Mars Curiosity, says:

"We have driven Scarecrow about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) in the Marsyard over rocks and slopes much harsher than we expect for Curiosity. There are some dents and holes in these wheels, but the rover is still performing well. We will continue to characterize the wheels both on Mars and in the Marsyard, but we don’t expect the wear to impact our ability to get to Mt. Sharp."

I think it's okay to talk about limitations, but three years in, Curiosity is doing just fine, even with the damage!

Image credit: David Kingham 2013 | The National Maritime Museum. Image credit: David Kingham 2013 | The National Maritime Museum.

From Steve Waclo on Perseid meteor viewing: "After pondering potential dark viewing sites, I finally took an old mat to the back of our community and just after midnight, reclined on a sidewalk with a view to the NE and minimal street lighting in my line of sight.

Within a few minutes, I was rewarded with an impressive streak of light that made my efforts worthwhile! 10 minutes later, two more in rapid succession, then a fourth about 15 minutes later. Five seemed to be a nice round number, but it was not to be and after another 15 minutes, I went home.

While I convinced myself I had seen other, fainter streaks, I believe the highly visible, and of course, much more spectacular displays that presented, would justify a half hour of post-midnight watching from even a bright, urban viewpoint."

Just a fun story that I thought I'd enjoy sharing with you from the comments. I've been "blessed" with clouds during Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights, but I did get to see a big bright streak on Monday. There are other great meteor showers out there, but the Perseids really shine for the enhanced brightness that comes from the great speed of the meteors hitting us. Tonight is probably the last decent night for viewing, so if you have a chance, go out and take a look!

From Denier on concern about what we don't know about cometary orbits: "Comet Swift-Tuttle has been documented all the way back to 69 BC. It is in a nice, stable 11:1 orbital resonance with Jupiter. If you know the last time it passed Earth, and the current position of Jupiter then you can deduce the location of Comet Swift-Tuttle. The physics of orbital mechanics is also pretty well ironed out at this point. Astrophysicists are routinely projecting orbital paths of objects in space dozens of orbits into the future.
Given all that, when Comet Swift-Tuttle last came by the Earth in 1992 it was 17 days from where it should have been. With an object moving 133,000 miles per hour, 17 days is a long way off. With the current awesomeness of telescopes, computers, an object 26 miles across with the Perseids serving as a yearly reminder of its existence, how was the Astrophysics community in 1991 so wrong?"

There are two issues here, both of which are very important to understand:

  1. The outer Solar System, beyond Neptune, where Comet Swift-Tuttle spends most of its time, is very poorly mapped. Gravitational interactions happening out there -- even small ones -- are completely unaccounted for. A slight tug could change its speed by just micrometers per second, which would change its arrival time by days.
  2. The comet is named Swift-Tuttle because it was first identified and discovered independently by Swift and Tuttle in the mid-1800s. The observations we had of its position then: 1860s era measurements (peaking in 1862), were the only precise observations we had to base its orbit off of.
Image credit: NASA, of Comet Swift-Tuttle, via Image credit: NASA, of Comet Swift-Tuttle, via

We'll do much better the next time around, since we did much better in the 1990s when the comet returned. But if you're getting at the important point that if we're off in our estimates by too much, the "cone of uncertainty" could indicate that the comet's path might include... our planet. Well, the next pass looks like this: "It is now known that the comet will pass 0.153 AU (22,900,000 km; 14,200,000 mi) from Earth on August 5, 2126."

Every orbit carries an estimated threat of around ~2 x 10^-8, but comets don't live for hundreds of millions of years before evaporating completely or getting gravitationally perturbed into a hyperbolic (escape) orbit. I wouldn't worry too much about it, but I wouldn't worry zero about it, either. If you're concerned with the long-term fate of life on Earth -- over the next many thousands of years -- pay attention to this guy, just a little, every 133 years or so.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble SM4 ERO Team.

And finally, from See Noevo on starlight (kind of): "What do think about the light the universe appears to be missing?"

It's very easy to grab a headline and draw an "OMG!" conclusion from it. Like in this case that light is missing from the Universe! But what does this actually mean? Not the headline, but the science.

What this study talks about is that intergalactic clouds and filaments of gas are ionized in a certain amount that indicates that there's this presence of ultraviolet (ionizing) radiation that must exist. The problem is, we only know of two sources for this radiation: hot, young, blue stars and quasars/active galaxies. And in the nearby Universe, we don't have enough of either one of those things to explain the ionization we see.

Image credit: ESA & NASA; Acknowledgement: E. Olszewski (U. Arizona). Image credit: ESA & NASA; Acknowledgement: E. Olszewski (U. Arizona).

The funny thing is, farther away, we do see enough to explain it! So what do I think of it?

I think there's very likely a mundane explanation out there. Perhaps the last big burst of star formation was sufficient to cause the ionization, which has persisted; perhaps we're just going through a period of inactive galactic nuclei that's transient nearby; perhaps the UV photons from young star clusters do escape into the IGM at higher rates than we expect; perhaps there's something happening at the outskirts of our galaxy absorbing the UV photons that try to re-enter our galaxy from the IGM.

But I don't think it poses a crisis of any type, save for astronomers that thought their picture of this phenomenon was complete. There's more to learn about a whole slew of things in the Universe, and that's a good thing. The process of investigation never ends, and I don't think we'll ever run out of interesting questions to ask! Thanks for sharing a great week with me, and know I'm looking forward to the next one.


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very interesting, though ,I dont understand the equations & many other things. But I hope that planet earth will survive all these turbulances & dangers will last for ever,the million years to come or will transport its organic substances to some other place where they will grow to lively beings , That is the law of nature,{physics}..

Thank you again, Ethan! As "Wow" pointed out, My comment was ambiguous; I appreciate that you extracted the salient point :-)

There are relatively viable models of more complex DM interactions, which imply the possibilities of some kind of structured "dark sector." Current limits (see, for example, BaBar's searches for dark photons in Y(3S) production) are not yet particularly stringent.

As you rightly point out, such interactions have to be small enough that DM can't dissipate its viral motion in haloes, and small enough that DM clumps stay small enough to avoid existing MACHO searches. But I'm not sure that structured DM is entirely ruled out.

By Michael Kelsey (not verified) on 15 Aug 2015 #permalink

Nice one Ethan, thanks.

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 15 Aug 2015 #permalink

Hi Ethan - just to expand a little, you definitely told me something new there....on some level I knew I was confused because every time read about it, and saw the wording which was that the velocities were constant, the first thing I'd think was "if they're constant the outer ones are losing ground". But then instead of follow it through I seem to have been just putting the contradiction out of my mind.
So that's really cool with thanks.
This density wave thing....the way it seems to be described would suggest it's an explanation but without smoking gun evidence as yet. Would you agree with that?

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 15 Aug 2015 #permalink

No, the appearance of those arms appear with only the existence of density waves coded into the simulation.

If a phenomenon is already sufficient, that is itself a smoking gun.

The reason I don't agree is because there is no (or little) scientific understanding of how or why spirals form. I think the explanation of the spirals will be closely tied in with the explanation of how they form in the first place.
That's not to say the density wave theory is not compelling. For me personally I think it is. But it seems wrong to look at evidence as if it's true...because it's very easy to be blinded to the anomalies and parts that don't fit.

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 15 Aug 2015 #permalink

That is no reason to believe it is wrong, though, do you know why?

Because your claim is incorrect.

Specifically "there is no (or little) scientific understanding of how or why spirals form".

Nope. You've been told what it is that makes spirals form.

Moreover you've been told your description of the phenomena is absolutely incorrect. Specifically "each next further away star from the core to speed up just enough in spirals that it’s as if the arms were solid".

if you've been told you're incorrect on the description of the phenomenon, you should consider that the problem is you don't know what it is not how it happens.

If you refuse to consider that, the fact that you've been told how it can be explained ought to give you pause for reflection.

If you refuse to consider either of those things, then what makes anyone think you will consider any answer that doesn't conform to what you already think is the case?

Heck, what do think IS the case?


one of the leading theories for spiral arm formation comes from galaxy collisions. Ethan knows more about that, for sure, but even for an amateur, the simulations are pretty convincing

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 16 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Chris

p.s. You can think of it like this.. all things being equal, you will get a more or less uniform distribution of matter around a central BH of the galaxy.. or eliptical galaxy. But any force acting on it.. and on such scales gravity being the strongest... even a small perturbation would cause waves to form.. and matter will clump on fronts.. add angular momentum to that.. and you get spirals.. simplified version..

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 16 Aug 2015 #permalink

Consider this scenario: I walk up to you, Chris, in front of a score of witnesses, draw a gun and shoot you through the head and kill you.

When the prosecutor says that I killed you by shooting you, would the response "It could have been something else" be fruitful and considered, or would everyone "close their minds" to the possibility that the evidence does not take into account the facts that don't fit.

Like why on earth would I do that?

Because maybe it was a stunt double or doppelganger. Maybe the scores of "witnesses" were paid to make up their story and I was not even there.

After all, if you don't know you will need an alibi, how many people have one available?

These are possibilities that may indicate something else.

But when it comes down to it, we use "We have the proven statements of several witnesses and evidence supporting the verdict of guilty of pre-meditated murder".

"It could be something else" also falls down within its own incongruent framework: how do you know it could be? "Because it could?" is not proof it actually could (see above murder scenario). If you give an alternative and say "It could be that!", HOW do you KNOW it could be? Just because it COULD be a conspiracy to frame me for murder doesn't mean it's possibly true. After all, I either did it or I did not. I can't have both done it and not. So there must be one ACTUAL true answer.

Claiming "It might not have been that" merely begs the question "how do you know?". Positing an alternative begs the question "Can you prove it was?" and even when done, it would, under this framework, still be valid saying "Well, it still might not be true".

This meaningless propositon of a nebulous "other explanation" is called JAQing off.

Or mental masturbation.

Or sophistry.

Hell, a solipsist would insist that you don't know you even said it, all you know is that you THINK you have the MEMORY of saying it.

There's a reason why such word games are rightly ignored every day by the vast majority of the world.

It leads nowhere other than paralysis and has no worth itself.

This sounds like a basic disagreement how science should/did operate. I didn't kick the matter into the long grass of 'maybe it is something undiscovered'. What I did was give a solid reason to be sceptical of any solution that doesn't involve a detailed theory of spirals.
That's reasonable, unless you think spiral arms formed one way and then carried on by a different way.
A question to ask yourself, is where does your position actually leave you, psychologically. Are you looking for new discoveries or alternative explanations? Have you ever?
You don't appear motivated to me. Also, I'd have to note the violent metaphors on the back of your other behaviour. You have a problem with how you treat people and interact.

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 16 Aug 2015 #permalink

It may be a basic disagreement, but the result of the way it is resolved leads either to paralysis and inaction (your way) or movement toward a better understanding of reality (everyone else's way).

If you think it is something else, prove it works. Prove it works BETTER and it will supplant the current understanding. If you think it correct, then why demand others do work to no avail?

Sophistry gets you nowhere. And it's used by most people to ensure that is the case.

"A question to ask yourself, is where does your position actually leave you, psychologically."

Yes, already done. You have never bothered yourself to do this activity.

"You don’t appear motivated to me. "

And what motivation has propelled you to this inaction you undertake? Or has the complete lack of alternative explanation and its proof been because you're too busy asking other people to do it?

What is YOUR motivation to say "there might be another explanation"? It hasn't motivated you to find one. What is your motivation to demand others do this work you have not? What is your motivation to continue JAQing off here?

I work hard on things like this, as well as the abstract methodological properties of science. Right now all of that has been forgotten. You are aware there has been no fundamental progress for about 70 years? All the theories at edge don't predict at all. All of them are 'infinity theories' in that they depend on an infinite resource right at their explanatory core. This includes the standard big bang model.

So there's a serious crisis, that could yet spell the end of science. As to your instincts for how science works....of courses there is a circumstance for accepting a theory. But because the whole emergence of spirals is largely a mystery, those are legitimate grounds for withholding judgement on this matter.
What I asked you to consider was your own state of mind and morale for discovery. You appear - appear - unmotivated and very probably depressed.
Because interacting with you is so problematic and results in this sort of discussion, I'm probably going to consider not interacting going forward, at least for a period. I'd suggest you do likewise.

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 16 Aug 2015 #permalink

"I work hard on things like this"

No you don't.

Unless the "this" you talk of is insisting that others must find a different explanation, every other possible explanation, and be open about all those other possible explanations being right.

But this is not hard work. All you have to do is read a little sophistry and not care about intellectual rigour. Or any purpose to your posts.

"You are aware there has been no fundamental progress for about 70 years? "


Neither is anyone else who is even vaguely interested in science AND WORKS TO KEEP UP TO DATE ON IT.

"All of them are ‘infinity theories’ in that they depend on an infinite resource right at their explanatory core. "

No they don't. A very very few do. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but some 70 year old theories did. I don't know if those have all been discarded.

"So there’s a serious crisis, that could yet spell the end of science."

Only if they listen to the likes of you and refuse to make a conclusion at all for "fear" that the conclusion is wrong. because your method is instituting credulity and this WILL spell the end of science.

However I conclude this is what you want.

"But because the whole emergence of spirals is largely a mystery"

Only to you. And only because you've refused to listen to anyone telling you that it isn't a mystery. If you had ANY INTENTION WHATSOEVER to listen to others or move from your preconceived position, you too would not be saying that any more.

"What I asked you to consider was your own state of mind and morale for discovery. "

I suspect you are merely hacking the shit out of the grammar here and "morale" was superfluous.

And I have. It is done EVERY SINGLE DAY by scientists if they are working. it is why spirals aren't a mystery, how the current big bang or standard model has no infinities and how it has changed from accepting the classical world to the quantum world and relativity.

Not by refusing to reach a conclusion, but by reaching one and acknowledging that it can change if something comes along that works better.

Only the anti science such as yourself do not change your theory in the face of evidence.

And so by projection you think that science does it too.

And by that refusal to change when evidence proves your conclusion wrong, you refuse to see that science doesn't do as you claim it does.

There is no interaction with you.

You are told something and this makes no difference to your claims.

The only thing left is WHY you wish to insist science must change but refuses to from orneriness.

New age woomancery? xtian fundamentalist belief? Trolling? Or a crippling lack of education and the worst excesses of DK?

No way of knowing for sure unless you 'fess up.

But nobody is required to look for alternatives merely because you don't think alternatives have been sufficiently investigated.

And if your "interaction" with others is going to be insisting on this, you will get nowhere with anyone else, other than fellow anti-science crusaders.

For which you'd be better going off to some other site that doesn't care about educating, only polemic.

"So there’s a serious crisis, that could yet spell the end of science."

... hardly..

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 16 Aug 2015 #permalink

Well sorry Wow for not adopting exactly what you think you know. What I see is that you know a bit of astrophysics, but that doesn't make you a guru of science.
And look if you don't want me here, speak to Ethan. If he asks me not to come here anymore, I will immediately respect his wishes. But that's because it's his 'house'. I'm sincerely indifferent to your wants in this respect.
Personally, I find hard to understand why he wants you here. These comments sections would be buzzing if were not for you, because of some sort of life crisis you have, that makes you behave immensely abusively. Worst of all is your argumentation which is little more than 'mirroring' - an incredibly unscrupulous amoral way to go about thing.

So yeah...get your reply in here because I know you feel you need the last word. But then go talk to Ethan. To be honest the only way I can make sense of you is that you are in some sort of relationship with him. Why else would he put up with your sabotaging of his blog?

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

hi Sinisa Lazarek,

And you think this because.......?

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

“All of them are ‘infinity theories’ in that they depend on an infinite resource right at their explanatory core. ”

>No they don’t. A very very few do. I can’t think of any off the >top of my head, but some 70 year old theories did. I don’t >know if those have all been discarded.

That's your opinion and the way you form opinions is you hear even a vague explanation coming from what you think of as an authority, and you adopt it and subsequent think very little about the matter again.

so it's no surprise that you are totally wrong in what you think. The Big Bang standard view is an infinity theory as defined, because of the cosmological principle. That's basic 101.

String theory is an infinity theory. The Anthropic principle is an infinity theory. MWI is an infinity theory. With the exception of Lee Smolin & Julian Barbour embryonic direction, all theories at the knowledge frontier are infinity theories.

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

"So there’s a serious crisis, that could yet spell the end of science. "

That's some serious pearl-clutching words right there. Luckily, there's nothing serious behind them. John Horgan, is that you?

"Well sorry Wow for not adopting exactly what you think you know. "

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!?

I'm sorry you're a fucking idiot and will never be able to learn anything.

No, seriously. I'm sorry you're so frigging clueless. I wish you weren't.

"The Big Bang standard view is an infinity theory as defined"

Citation fucking needed you moron.

“The Big Bang standard view is an infinity theory as defined”

>Citation fucking needed you moron.

No there isn't you big girl's blouse. It's logic. The only way to have what is observed no be that Earth is at or near the centre of the universe is if all observers at all points see what we see. That leads most people to say we're in an infinite cosmos.
But say at some 'edge' of the universe observers were seeing what we see on one side but nothingness in the other side. Well that means Earth has privileged postion back in the central parts.
It seems you are trying in life to bat over your intellectual paygrade.

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

Guth's inflation is another infinity theory

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

Dean says "That’s some serious pearl-clutching words right there. Luckily, there’s nothing serious behind them. John Horgan, is that you?"

Ahhh it's Dean, one of those who crawl up Wow's arse despite his behaviour. You experience behaviour like that as power don't you? It's like a down market version of lubos motl and his ridiculous dickweeds.

As to you comments, do you have an argument or are you like the other two - all mouth and no trousers

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

No, not power at all. I simply don't like statements which are pure hyperbole - as yours was - tossed about when the person making the statement doesn't go on to attempt any support for them. The fact that you have serious concerns about the topic - concerns you've laid out - doesn't automatically lead to the "collapse of science." You need to make an argument in a solid, cohesive, point-by-point way. That won't mean people will automatically agree with you, but it will give a base on which discussion/debate can be constructed. Absent the argument from you, there is no need to take the comment seriously.

I really don't need to provide any argument at all, because what I said was " that could yet spell the end of science". It's actually fine to say that without adding details because it is phrased as opinion. ("could").
And it's not just this...there'll be a pattern in your life in which you've survived by sucking up to basically becoming one yourself. That'll right back into school.

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

I don't see my last post as an attack of any kind, it is simply an explanation for my earlier comment.

And it wasn't a legitimate explanation was it. Because you didn't read what I said.

By Chris Mannering (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

And you toss out a chance to be taken seriously.

"I really don’t need to provide any argument at all"

Indeed you don't. And we can conclude from the lack of any evidence WHATSOEVER that you're full of crap and lying your ass off.

"No there isn’t you big girl’s blouse. It’s logic. "

No it isn't. It's an unsupported claim.

And as such is discarded as a big fat lie.

"Guth’s inflation is another infinity theory"

Not according to Guth's theory papers it isn't.

"That leads most people to say we’re in an infinite cosmos."


Only you so far.

@ Chris #18

Because science is much more then just cosmology alone, and in all honesty 99% of science doesn't really care if inflationary theory produces infinite bubble universes.

You either have a very poor description of what science is, or simply don't care and the statement is wrong just to draw attention. Either way, science is hardly in any peril just because you don't like some of the last two decades of cosmology.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

Chris @14:

You are aware there has been no fundamental progress for about 70 years? All the theories at edge don’t predict at all.

LOL what? Quite apart from the remarkable changes in cosmology that have happened in the last 40 years, you might want to look up BCS theory. And that was just the first thing that sprung to mind; I'm sure there are many many other examples of scientific theories that have been developed since the 1930s, are predictive, and do contribute both materially and intellectually to human progress. Probably none with the attention-grabbing cache of relativity or the big bang, but to say there's been no scientific progress in 70 years...while typing on a computer composed of materials that didn't exist 70 years ago...seems a bit, well, ludicrous. Surely as you type on that plastic while looking at that flat screen, you'll accept that there has been major progress in materials science and solid state physics?

It’s logic. The only way to have what is observed no be that Earth is at or near the centre of the universe is if all observers at all points see what we see. That leads most people to say we’re in an infinite cosmos..

Do you understand closed geometries? The balloon analogy? Its entirely possible to have a finite space where all observers see a similar view to what we see.

But beyond that, why rule out 'infinity' theories? Is there some logical inconsistency with them? Some reason they can't possibly be true? I don't see any prima facie reason why we should rule them out. They may seem odd and weird, but then again QM predicts some pretty odd and weird things to. Human intuition turns out to be a pretty bad judge of how the world works. If we find ourselves baffled and incredulous at some 'infinity theory' (I guess eternal inflation may be the poster child) and yet it fits the evidence best, well then the right thing to do is go where the evidence leads and ignore our incredulity.

Eternal inflation wouldn't be any form of "infinity theory" (which is not yet explained either to what it means or why it's so bad). Inflation to infinite size and use of infinite time aren't inherent to inflation but the end of a process.

The only valid definition of "infinity theory" I can conceive is one where the theory relies on a present infinity. Like non-singularity black hole interiors or the very early conceptions of the big bang (infinite mass in infinitesimally small area) and continuous creation (infinite age of universe at the current epoch).

Eternal inflation would no more be an "infinity theory" (has he watched too much Marvel Universe comics?) than integer numbers are, since they contain infinity as a terminal cause.

But I think chris here is really just clueless and looking for wild accusation to claim the scientits are just plain wrong and he somehow is the only crusader willing to break this stranglehold these elitists have over knowledge.

@ Wow
"has he watched too much Marvel Universe comics?)"

nah.. he might have watched BBC Horizon - Dancing in the Dark - The End of Physics?

and just like SN.. took the title and said.. aha! it's all gonna break..

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 17 Aug 2015 #permalink

Well I figured his obsession over "infinity theories" was the result of reading about the infinity gauntlet from the MU.

The fantastic setting fits in with his posts.