Speed of Light

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ShoeshineBoy, Aug 9, 2003.

  1. I started the thread and I have no desire to be in a religious debate of any sort. I am interested only in the science of it all. Let each draw his own supernatural conclusions.
    #61     Aug 12, 2003
  2. Now here's a (pseudo-)scientific creationism for y'all:

    Selfish Baby Universes
    By Kenneth Silber 08/11/2003

    Has an Oregon lawyer discovered the secret of the universe?

    This question arises in connection with a new book titled Biocosm, by James N. Gardner. Gardner presents an imaginative, even bizarre, speculation about life's role in the cosmos. Yet unlike some scientific outsiders, he has made impressive efforts to gain scientific credibility, by publishing in peer-reviewed journals and suggesting how his hypothesis can be tested.

    Gardner's hypothesis is called the "Selfish Biocosm." It states that intelligent life plays a key role in a cosmological cycle whereby the universe, over enormous timescales, creates new copies of itself. The laws of physics, in this view, strongly favor the emergence of life and intelligence -- and indeed are designed to do so. However, this design is not of supernatural origin. Biocosm (Inner Ocean Publishing) carries the subtitle "The New Scientific Theory of Evolution: Intelligent Life is the Architect of the Universe."

    The universe, in Gardner's telling, is "selfish" in the same metaphorical sense that genes are regarded as "selfish"; it is geared for self-replication. The Big Bang thus resulted from a Big Crunch in a previous universe. Our universe will end with a similar event, giving rise to one or more baby universes. Intelligent life arises in each universe, and eventually develops the ability to create new universes friendly to intelligent life.

    But how did the cycle begin? Isn't there a gigantic chicken-and-egg problem? One might suppose the first universe containing intelligent life arose by accident, perhaps as part of an ensemble of universes that were mostly unfriendly to life. But Gardner regards this as an unsatisfying explanation. Rather, he proposes a notably strange idea. There may be a "closed timelike curve," a gravitational warping of space and time such that future events can influence the past. Thus, the universe may have been created by its own inhabitants!

    Gardner is a former Oregon state senator and U.S. Supreme Court clerk. His legal training, he states, helps him trace patterns of evidence across the traditional boundaries of scientific disciplines. Some of his interests are at the intersection of science and politics. He first delved into scientific publishing with a scholarly paper on complexity theory and the behavior of subnational regions (such as the Pacific Northwest or Spain's Catalonia); he also heads an organization called the Conference of World Regions. Gardner has published on the Selfish Biocosm hypothesis in the scientific journals Complexity, Acta Astronautica, and the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.

    In Biocosm, Gardner acknowledges, quite appropriately, that his hypothesis is highly speculative. At times, he lapses into an unbecoming pretentiousness, for example asking readers to "savor" the radicalism of his ideas. Still, he puts a laudable emphasis on trying to make the hypothesis testable (or "falsifiable," as he puts it, using terminology developed by the philosopher of science Karl Popper).

    For example, the detection of alien radio signals would support the Selfish Biocosm proposition that intelligence arises readily in the universe. So would studies of dolphins and other non-primate species showing strong language potential or convergent evolution toward intelligence. Similarly, the emergence of consciousness in artificial-life computer programs, or of superhuman intelligence through a combination of computing and bioengineering, would suggest that intelligence is a robust feature of the universe.

    Gardner also notes that the Selfish Biocosm jibes well with a recent idea in cosmology, the "ekpyrotic cyclic" scenario, which involves repeated creations and destructions of the universe. However, as he acknowledges, the ekpyrotic scenario has come under growing criticism from cosmologists. In any event, despite Gardner's efforts, a definitive test for his hypothesis is elusive. Intelligence could be widespread in the universe even if the Selfish Biocosm is false; or, intelligence might be rare but still ultimately robust enough for the cosmological task Gardner assigns to it. Similarly, Gardner's basic idea and the ekpyrotic cosmology are compatible but not strictly dependent on each other.

    Nonetheless, Gardner has produced an intriguing speculation, one that adds a new wrinkle to the debate over whether the universe shows signs of design. If Gardner is right, moreover, there are additional questions worth asking. For instance, do the intelligent beings in a Selfish Biocosm universe have any choice about whether to create new universes? Or do the laws of physics compel them to facilitate such replication? If there is a closed timelike curve, does that mean the course of events is precisely predetermined?

    And if there is a choice, will there be some kind of debate billions of years from now among competing superintelligent factions as to whether to go through with the Big Crunch project? Will environmentalist robots argue that it shouldn't be done? Will Tech Central Station be covering events, edited by a huge brain at the center of the galaxy?


    I've read some cutting edge sci-fi that examined similar or parallel hypotheses.
    #62     Aug 13, 2003
  3. Imo it is a variant on older themes such as multiple universes, "space foam", etc. Here's what I am interested in: how does it explain a predisposition to mutational advance and macroevolution? I can see how it would explain certain physical phenomenon but not life itself. I am curious...
    #63     Aug 13, 2003
  4. This has to be the worst understanding of the relativity theories I have come across on the Internet. It's just the opposite: the way time flows depends on the observer, in particular on his motion. This is evident already in Special Relativity and gets even more evident in General Relativity. Anyway, I am only an applied mathematician not a physicist, but I did happen to take a course in General Relativity at some point in my career, so I am pretty sure that I know what I am talking about.
    #64     Aug 13, 2003
  5. Well, it's not true they are talking with certainty about such things and if they do talk they are as bogus as Jack Hershey. Scientists know very well the limitations of their disciplines.

    Black holes are hypothetical objects, they may not exist, but the scientists believe they do exist. Of course, that's what the current theory says, but theories do change. Science is not static, about 100 years ago (yes, only 100 years ago) not so many believed in atoms. There was only indirect evidence that they exist. Nowadays we can manipulate them. The black holes are pretty problematic things to modern physics because they are objects inside which physics as we know it today does not apply any longer, so as you see the power of science is limited, but its progress gives us justifiable hope that one day we will understand what's going on even inside black holes. That is, if they truly exist.
    #65     Aug 13, 2003
  6. That is correct.
    #66     Aug 13, 2003
  7. I don't want to speak for anybody, but didn't he mean that the speed of light is independent of the observer or better yet the "frame of reference"? In other words, in all frames of reference the speed of light is, well, c?
    #67     Aug 13, 2003
  8. I have to say that from what I've read, this is incorrect as well. You don't have to use atomic clocks to measure the speed of light, right? Can't we measure the speed of light exactly throughout most of time and space using hyperfine split spectral lines on hydrogen objects throughout the universe and therefore right up to the very early stages of the universe. In other words, it's pretty easily to peer back in time 0 to maybe 10 billion years and see that the speed of light is exact because hydrogen's spectral characteristics have not changed over time (unless you believe Planck's constant has changed!).

    To me this is as strong of proof as one can get that (with all due respect) at the very best maxpi's theory is highly suspect. If I am looking at things wrong (which would be the case if spectroscopy was dependent on atomic clocks), someone let me know...
    #68     Aug 13, 2003
  9. stu


    I know I am right, I always are !
    Scientific theory is not based faith or is anything like the Gospel. For one thing Science makes sense. :D

    Any Scientific belief is rounded upon by other scientists who will energetically endeavour to test new or existing belief and rip it apart if they possibly can or use it to get at better understanding.

    What you read and decide to be convinced by, may or may not be good science. Of course all you see on tv progs and read in the papers is absolutely true isn't it? If you are prepared to group everything under the heading of 'proved science' because some 'scientist' said something on tv then I suppose you will believe ANYTHING people say.

    I guess that is just another description of a belief system based on empathy and called faith. A weak basis for meaningful discussion or for living a life on in my view.
    I don't think this is an earth shattering item (so to speak :)), I think the article might be referring to the problem with establishing how the atmosphere is being hit by ultra high energy cosmic rays which apparently have no place where they could have come from. It seems due to some of the protons which reach the atmosphere, these events should have been generated some 100 billion miles away from earth and as there is no source for them to emerge from so 'near' therefore, these rays should not be here. It is thought that these particles are unable to be produced from objects such a quasars as these are too far away. It appears astrophysics is not yet able to answer such conundrums and this has seriously pissed off TM_Direct to the point where he now considers apparently that all science is shit.

    However the study of superconducting cosmic strings may be able to help matters, as they could emit these extremely high energy protons / trapped particles and it may be that they are creating tiny spin off loops of superconducting cosmic strings, which in turn are being wrongly assumed to be high energy particles....

    OR disintegration of such strings could produce high energy cosmic particles. Strings are thought to carry massive quantities of trapped particles which exist whilst within the string but are released when strings are subjected to tremendously fierce cosmic effects. Some scientists see cosmic strings as the only possibility for carrying these particles and they could explain their existence from an origin - to them reaching earth's atmosphere.I don't think it directly argues the constancy of the speed of light although there are some interesting ideas which allow for the speed of light to be sometimes variable.

    An understanding of the wonders of the universe amounts to a little more than just expecting scientists to have an answer to everything and in my opinion it deserves a personal duty to understand more than just an urge for thoughtless dismissive statements which assumes science knows sh..t about anything.
    #69     Aug 13, 2003

  10. and you know this how?????? assuming there was a big bang ( which i don't beleive)....how would you or anyone else know that the universe is expanding at the speed of light? or that it is not contracting?....and does anyone know for sure the speed of light?
    186000 mps???? did they use a state trooper radar gun???
    #70     Aug 13, 2003