Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Cosmic Tapestry Instead

"The Big Bang Never Happened,” by Eric J Lerner, 1992

Once a theory becomes the title of a long-running comedy TV show and also a Hollywood movie called ‘The Theory of Everything,” you know it’s doomed.  Lerner shows you why.  Lerner is a plasma cosmologist who, from his somewhat dated vantage point in the 1980s, disassembles the weak scientific evidence of the Big Bang cosmology and suggests a more provable and simple replacement.  In doing so, he also traces the history of philosophic, religious and scientific thought starting in Greece, and shows how Platonic idealism and mysticism have made a comeback through the theory of the Big Bang.   Lerner is a science writer, so the text is mostly understandable to a layman, and when its not, it normally doesn’t matter ‘too’ much.

Spiral Galaxy - spacey power generator!
The book collects the work of many different scientists working against the scientific ‘establishment,’ which protects its pet theory with vehemence.  Lerner even questions the ‘peer review’ process, which blocked publication of his plasma articles in astronomy journals because of the power of leading astronomers.  Lerner sees the Big Bang theory as a re-creation of Augustine’s ‘ex nihilo’ Christianity circa 400 A.D., reflecting a current stagnation of science and (bourgeois) thought.  But this is not yet the dominant view among cosmologists.  He points out that most of the people in the field use math-based, not empirically-based methods, reflecting the recurring influence of idealism. 

Lerner even identifies the Greek abhorrence of labor as key to understanding the origins of the anti-empirical outlook. Most in cosmology don’t want to get their hands dirty in a lab, as 95% of papers in 1980 were math-based, seeking 'beautiful' formulas.  He indicates how science is affected by social attitudes.  As part of this he suggests that the idea of ‘pure reason’ originated from money earned through slavery and the consequent abstract accounting generated by that practice.  Lerner links the historical triumph of science with the triumph of free labor after the middle ages. (Or as a Marxist might also put it, the triumph of wage slavery…)

The foremost thinker in this book is Hannes Alven, who pioneered a new way of looking at the formation of planets, the solar system, stars, galaxies, and super-clusters of galaxies.  Alven thinks they are created mostly by massive electro-magnetic forces.  Alven and Lerner see the universe as an infinite electro-magnetic energy grid that has always existed, and is changing all the time.  Gravity itself plays a complementary but limited role in this universe.  Lerner points out that gravity alone (the ‘rock’ upon which general relativity and the Big Bang rests) does not have enough power to account for the mass, shape, age, size and energy in the universe, or the supposed original ‘expansion.’ 

Alven first began to foment a different theory by looking at the aurora borealis, common in his home country of Sweden.  The aurora borealis is caused by electro-magnetic solar prominences on the sun sending out charged particles that interact with the earth's magnetic field.  It forms characteristic colorful plasma filaments – something  Alven later noticed was common to galaxies too. What is remarkable is how ‘scalable’ the tiny shapes produced in lab experiments with electro-magnetism are – cells, filaments, ribbons, helixes, whirlwinds, vortices and spirals.  They are very similar to the structure of massive galaxies and super-clusters – and Alven thinks they reflect a common energy source.  The structure of giant galaxy clusters has been called the ‘cosmic tapestry’ and looks like an electrical-magnetic force field, not the result of an explosion from one point.   

Some of the books’ high points:

  1. Lerner shows the evidence for ‘black holes’ is thin – a favorite topic of Hawking.  He thinks they are much more likely some sort of electro-magnetic quasar.  Spinning galaxies create a massive current that spirals towards the center of a galaxy - some ‘ten billion-trillion amperes’ – ending in a massive outpouring of energy at the center.  Note:  Even Hawking is now backing off on black holes, given the myriad problems associated with the theory, such as some energy leakage. 
  2. The Big Bang predicts certain quantities of elements like helium that do not actually exist in the quantities required of the Big Bang.  Experiments have shown that stars generate helium normally, so you don’t need a Big Bang to explain its presence in the universe.
  3. Dark matter is another unlocated companion to the Big Bang theory – still to be found.  It is necessary because the amount of matter in the universe is too little for the Big Bang theory, (100 times less!) so they had to make it up.
  4. Super-strings?  A purely mathematical invention, never located either.
  5. The universe is ‘clumpy’ and un-homogeneous, not uniform or homogeneous, as assumed by Einstein.  Later cosmologists expected smoothness and consistency in the universe, given the conditions of the ‘birth’ of the universe - an explosion from one source.  However, the observable universe is not like that.
  6. Ancient super-cluster star galaxies are many billions of years older than predicted by the Big Bang.  Similar to the Greenstone rocks found in Ely, Minnesota, which are 4.3 billion years old, older than the time indicated in the Bible.  It’s the same problem, but here these clusters are around 60 billion years old, not 10-20, the age of the Big Bang.
  7. According to Lerner, the Hubble red shift, which is a key piece of evidence for the Big Bang, is still an open question – the only really open question.  There are several theories - perhaps it is a reflection of changes in our part of the universe.  Alven thinks the red shift is caused by matter/anti-matter collisions.  These two forces generally are kept apart, but sometimes the barriers between them (the “Leidenfrost” layer) are not sufficient.
  8. Experiments have shown there is something faster than light. 
  9. Galaxies and galaxy clusters have a structure related to each other - almost like a ladder - not a spray from a central location.
  10. The too smooth cosmic micro-wave background radiation is not a reflection of the Big Bang.  It was first theorized as some sort of background echo of that event, but has been shown to be produced normally in the present.
  11. Einstein’s theory of a closed universe, with gravity bending everything back in upon itself, is based on a level of gravity that is not in existence.
  12.  The growing variety of particles theorists use to populate the universe – neutrinos, axions, WIMPS, the many quarks, leptons, gluons, muons, pions, baryons etc. - might exist in a lab – but most do not. 
  13.  Infinity is supposedly the property of God, according to religious Catholics.  Hence they believe that nature or the universe cannot be infinite or unending.  Otherwise, ‘nature’ is God - and that’s paganism or pantheism. If you think the sun is really the most important thing in our little corner of the Milky Way galaxy, you’d be a bit of a pantheist and not a good orthodox Christian. 
  14. Lerner thinks that order comes out of ostensible chaos.  The theories of the ‘heat death’ of the universe or the final triumph of the ‘second law of thermodynamics’ – entropy - over every other process is simply wrong.  The development of the universe, of planets, of life shows that complexity grows out of simplicity, that change usually leads towards some kind of overall development or progress.  Thermonuclear fusion in stars is an example of growing complexity, not deterioration.  Lerner tops off his theory with the development of humans.  He is somewhat of a positivist. 
  15. Time goes in one direction.  Einstein considered time to be just another dimension, when actually it is the context in which the other dimensions exist.  Time does not reverse and there is no proof that it does.  To abandon time and history is to abandon experimentation, as nearly all science is based on measurement by time.  Going back in time is a fiction trope.
  1. Lerner connects scientific ideas with their social context.  For example, quantum physicists like Heisenberg and Bohr were brought up in Germany and Denmark during fascist times, when they worked on the Nazi nuclear program.  During this period they interpreted quantum theory in a mystical way, reflecting the dominant ideas of fascism.  They believed that logic doesn’t apply to the quantum world and that particles had ‘free will’ and could appear randomly.  Einstein opposed them in their dismissal of causality.    
  2.  A ‘theory of everything’ is impossible because the universe is infinite.
18.  Cosmic rays are not a product of the Big Bang, but of forces in the present universe.
  1.  Protons do not decay.  Proton decay was predicted by the ‘grand unified theory,’ a cousin to the ‘theory of everything,’ but this decay has not been discovered. 
  2.  Baby or multiple universes don’t exist, as posited by Hawking.  Again, no proof.
Lerner provides an explanation of plasma cosmology as an alternative to the Big Bang. Plasma cosmology relies on basic physics, violates no rules of science, is testable and observable, and has been shown to be accurate from small scales to large.  It is based on the force of electro-magnetism, produced by rotating bodies conducted through space gases – the plasma.  Electro-magnetism and quantum phenomena may even be linked by microscopic hydrodynamics on the micro level.  As Lerner puts it, “The result of this gravitational-electro-magnetic stage of evolution is the production of a complex and ordered system of entities, ranging from stars to galaxies to super-clusters, each pouring out concentrated electrical energy.”  Lerner thinks fusion is the ultimate source for carbonless power, yet present science has not been able to get around standard cosmology to focus on it.  

If you are interested in this topic, this book is a good addition to your library.

Other commentaries and books on this topic below:  Mike Gimbel’s talk at Mayday Books (video), my commentary and his pamphlet on the issue, “Dialectics and the New Physics,” reviews of the books “Reason in Revolt,“ and the “Ten Assumptions of Science.”  Use blog search box, upper left.  Other reviews on the relationship of science to dialectics, like "Ubiquity,' are also below.

And I bought it in the excellent used section at Mayday Books for $1

Red Frog
March 29, 2016

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