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12 Yr Old Genius Sets Out to Disprove Big Bang?

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Ok, so I am not sure this is the right forum section but I thought I would post this here. I don't know much about physics or astronomy, but I know there are a good number of people here that know quite a bit about it. I was wondering what they thought of this:

At 12-years-old, Jacob Barnett is a genius. He’s already in college, his IQ is higher than Einstein’s, and for fun he‘s working on an expanded version of that man’s theory of relativity. So far, the signs are good. Professors are astounded. So what else does a boy genius with vast brilliance do in his free time? Disprove the big bang, of course.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/a-beautiful-mind-12-year-old-boy-genius-sets-out-to-disprove-big-bang/

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011103200369

I am particularly interested in this big bang part....but also his "expanded" theory of relativity.

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His objection to the big bang seems to be connected to the amount of carbon produced, not the philosophical point that that the universe can not have a beginning. If he hasn't realised the later he can't be that much of a genius.

:blink::wacko:

And how exactly does a big explosion 14 billion years ago imply that the universe had a beginning? :dough:

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:blink::wacko:

And how exactly does a big explosion 14 billion years ago imply that the universe had a beginning? :dough:

Well, the Big Bang is not just "a big explosion 14 billion years ago," now is it?

It is, according to Wikipedia "the event which led to the formation of the universe, according to the prevailing cosmological theory of the universe's early development."

Also, are you aware that you did 3 emoticons in one post? How old are you?

Edited by philosopher
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Well, the Big Bang is not just "a big explosion 14 billion years ago," now is it?

It is, according to Wikipedia "the event which led to the formation of the universe, according to the prevailing cosmological theory of the universe's early development."

Also, are you aware that you did 3 emoticons in one post? How old are you?

That theory explains the big bang as the beginning of the physical universe as we currently know it. It doesn't mean that existence itself started at the time of the big bang.

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His objection to the big bang seems to be connected to the amount of carbon produced, not the philosophical point that that the universe can not have a beginning. If he hasn't realised the later he can't be that much of a genius.

Lol

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That theory explains the big bang as the beginning of the physical universe as we currently know it. It doesn't mean that existence itself started at the time of the big bang.

This. It is the formation of the current physical universe. As far as I am aware the big bang theory has never been used as a suggestion for the start of the universe itself.

So anyone have anything to contribute?

Also, could someone explain this "universe does not have a beginning" thing to me in a simplistic fashion, or better yet, either link me to or otherwise explain the Objectivist view of the nature of the universe (if it is finite or not, and so on)

Edited by Jennifer
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This. It is the formation of the current physical universe. As far as I am aware the big bang theory has never been used as a suggestion for the start of the universe itself.

So anyone have anything to contribute?

Also, could someone explain this "universe does not have a beginning" thing to me in a simplistic fashion, or better yet, either link me to or otherwise explain the Objectivist view of the nature of the universe (if it is finite or not, and so on)

http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/universe.html

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“What did God do before he created the universe? He was preparing Hell for people who asked such questions.” In 1929 Edwin Hubble made the observation that distant galaxies are moving rapidly from us, in other words, the universe is expanding. This discovery brought the question of the beginning of the universe, the famous Big Bang. Here we have very clear demonstration of the philosophical void of our times. As it had been demonstrated in the “Rational Cosmology” and by other objectivists the notion of the beginning of the universe is contradiction in terms. For example if time didn’t exist before Big Bang and nothing was changing than how this alleged explosion took place? Time is a measure of the change and an explosion is very rapid change of the matter by definition. Philosophically Big Bang’s theory belongs to the category of concepts known as Primary or First Cause-like primary mover, intelligent design, God etc…First Cause allegedly causes everything of its kind or everything at all. However this concept has intrinsic contradiction. If Primary Cause is the cause of everything, then it has to be the cause of itself and that leads to infinite regression. If Big Bang is the cause of Universe then what would be the cause of Big Bang? Evidently it has to be another Big Bang and so on ad infinitum. Since infinite regression is logical fallacy, the concept of Big Bang is not valid.

So why such a contradictory theory had become so widely acceptable? I think it’s because that Big Bang theory has strong religious connotations. The Catholic Church for example officially pronounced in 1951 that Big Bang theory is in accordance with the Bible. However astrophysicists were looking for some other non-contradictory explanations of the phenomena of expanding universe and background microwave radiation. For example nothing in the laws of physic or philosophy contradict an idea that total gravitational pull of the universal matter may cause compression of this matter and explosion like gigantic Super Nova star. But such an event doesn’t have to be the beginning of the universe or its end. The other possibility is the steady state theory which postulates that as the galaxies moved away from each other, new galaxies were continually forming in the gasp in between…

And finally I’d like to quote the author of Big Bang theory himself. Stephen Hawking says in his book “A brief history of time”: “It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity” Singularity is contradictory mathematical fiction which describes entity without identity and which is prerequisite for Big Bang.

Contemporary physicists are desperately trying to resolve the contradictions of their current theories by constructing more contradictory incomprehensive theories of alternative universe, parallel universes, multidimensional universe, string and superstring theories etc…

This is vicious circle which can be only broken off by clear understanding that Existence exists, but contradictions do not.

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His objection to the big bang seems to be connected to the amount of carbon produced, not the philosophical point that that the universe can not have a beginning. If he hasn't realised the later he can't be that much of a genius.

With no effort on my part to pass judgment on his thesis, one can be intellectually brilliant and still be very badly philosophically misinformed. See the thread on Chris Langan.

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While it's common for cosmologists (especially when speaking to the popular press) to talk of the big bang as the "beginning" of the universe, I don't think there's anything intrinsic to the theory to necessitate this. What the theory does is trace back the development of the universe to a point, beyond which GTR breaks down. It's common to hear this point referred to as so many seconds after the beginning of time. This part of the theory (that the current state of the universe evolved from an earlier, much denser state) is very well grounded. The problems come in when cosmologists start speculating about what happens when GTR is inadequate.

One of the pieces of evidence in favor of the BB theory is the observed ratio of heavier elements to light elements, which is exactly what BB predicts. The brilliant little guy Jennifer links to disputes this, claiming that there is more carbon than there should be if BB is correct. Is he right? I haven't a clue. But if he's doing PhD level work in math at 13 years old, he's obviously a genius, his alleged philosophical inadequacies notwithstanding. Comments on those philosophical criticisms of BB cosmology below.

A number of people have repeated an argument made over the years against big bang theory by David Harriman. (This argument was in DIM 2004. Notably, DIM 2009/10 omit physics, and BB is replaced by string theory in the most recent outline of DIM. LL has different (better) arguments against BB. So it's possible Harriman (and Peikoff) no longer endorse this argument). I think it's a really bad one, so I'll explain why. The argument can be simplified as follows:

(1) The universe (by which proponents of this argument mean "all of existence") has no cause/beginning in time/moment of creation/etc.

(2) BB theory holds that the universe has a beginning in time (the Big Bang).

Therefore (3) big bang theory is false because it contradicts (1).

The argument only works if BB requires "universe" to mean "all of existence," but it need not. BB's universe is defined as space-time + matter. It doesn't imply that space-time + matter = everything that exists. One could, as Roger Penrose has, posit that the observable universe is a "bubble" existing in some larger totality. Thus the Big Bang would be an event within existence, not its beginning.

I'm not saying that there aren’t good criticisms of BB cosmology (there are), or that Penrose's ideas are true (or even methodologically well founded). I'm saying simply that the "there is no beginning" type arguments fail to seriously engage with the content of BB cosmology, and are thus not any good. We can criticize attempts to hold the big bang as the beginning of existence, but that wouldn't be a criticism of the theory, only one possible interpretation of it.

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...Contemporary physicists are desperately trying to resolve the contradictions of their current theories by constructing more contradictory incomprehensive theories of alternative universe, parallel universes, multidimensional universe, string and superstring theories etc…

This is vicious circle which can be only broken off by clear understanding that Existence exists, but contradictions do not.

These complex physical theories do not often wear their contradictions on their faces. The application of the fundamental axioms to any particular proposition is often a complicated task, and I do not believe it is possible to simply write off these entire branches of inquiry without a thorough understanding of the theories being criticized. There have been some truly weird experimental results in the field of physics, and it is not an easy task to provide a theory that explains them. Checking whether or not a particular theory is concordant with the axioms requires an in-depth understanding of that theory; proclaiming entire families of physical theories philosophically corrupt cannot be done lightly.

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@Jennifer, cosmologists use the word "universe" differently from philosophers. As the Ayn Rand Lexicon link shows, "universe" in philosophy is the broadest possible concept meaning literally "everything there is". Cosmologists, on the other hand, sometimes speak of multiple "universes" (!?), "multiverse", or, as you put it, our "current universe".

Now, the big bang, according to cosmologists, was not an explosion "in" space "at" a particular time. Rather, it was the "beginning" of spacetime itself. Philosophically, this is problematic. There is an interesting hypothesis by Sir Roger Penrose that is fascinating and much more consistent with an eternal universe (in the philosophical sense). It's called the Conformal Cyclic Cosmology and it identifies the "singularity" of our current "aeon" with the ultimate expansion / decay of the previous "aeon".

In this way, the universe doesn't have a beginning or end which is appropriate. Beginnings and ends occur within the universe, not to the universe.

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While I don't doubt that this kid is a genius, there is no way that he can be can considered an authority on science quite yet. Having a PhD level understanding of math makes him an expert on deduction, but he could not have possibly tested a theory that cosmologists have dedicated their life to. His question about carbon has been addressed before.

Let's acknowledge that he is brilliant, but also acknowledge that he is still 12 and still has much to learn about science.

Also, let's remember that "The Blaze" is a website founded by Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck is not a scientist, and I would hardly call anything associated with him to be accurate.

Edited by Black Wolf
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That theory explains the big bang as the beginning of the physical universe as we currently know it. It doesn't mean that existence itself started at the time of the big bang.

While I certainly agree that's how an Objectivist would have to interpret it for it to make any sense, I'm not sure that's the mainstream interpretation. Maybe they have no position on what (if anything) existed beforehand due to the mathematics breaking down. It would be interesting to hear the genius' personal opinion on this.

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Also, could someone explain this "universe does not have a beginning" thing to me in a simplistic fashion, or better yet, either link me to or otherwise explain the Objectivist view of the nature of the universe (if it is finite or not, and so on)

To see that the universe (meaning here, 'everything that exists') can't have had a beginning you just need to think about the concept 'create' and it's referents.

Like all concepts, to be valid it must be traceable back to percepts, and ultimately it gets it's meaning from them. So try to think up, e.g. 10 examples of creation you have observed, such as building a house or baking a cake. Then go over them.

You will see that in each case "creation" involved making something new by rearranging things that already existed (e.g. ingredients). It was not a process of bringing something in to being from nothing. Therefore an objective concept of creation (one that actually has referents) refers only to a process of rearranging reality, not pulling it out of nothing. So creation can only happen within the universe (where there is already "stuff"), not to the universe as a whole which would require something from nothing.

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While I certainly agree that's how an Objectivist would have to interpret it for it to make any sense, I'm not sure that's the mainstream interpretation. Maybe they have no position on what (if anything) existed beforehand due to the mathematics breaking down. It would be interesting to hear the genius' personal opinion on this.

I see. Point taken.

Edited by iflyboats
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Ok, so I am not sure this is the right forum section but I thought I would post this here. I don't know much about physics or astronomy, but I know there are a good number of people here that know quite a bit about it. I was wondering what they thought of this:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/a-beautiful-mind-12-year-old-boy-genius-sets-out-to-disprove-big-bang/

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2011103200369

I am particularly interested in this big bang part....but also his "expanded" theory of relativity.

The kid has a point. I took an astronomy 101 class and I wondered a similar thing, but never sought out to disprove anything (thought they taught it in the 102 class). For one thing we think the Universe is 13.7 billion years (I believe) because that’s as far as we can see (13.7 billion light years). The Universe could be bigger (I think it is), but the expansion rate of space keeps light from reaching us much like a black hole keeps light from reaching those outside of it. The kid was wondering if carbon could be formed in the beginning—he concluded that was unlikely given the model. He then concluded that the carbon formation would take about 20 billion years (longer than the model’s age of 13.7 billion years). I describe the theory of elements formation below.

Supposedly, only hydrogen without electrons (proton) and electrons formed from the beginning. So where do the heavier elements come from? If you start combining nuclei, then you start to get heavier elements, but in order to do that you need pressure (lots of it). You have four fundamental forces in nature. The electromagnetic (same sign repulse, opposites attract, and magnetism), strong nuclear force (what keeps the nucleus of atoms together), the weak nuclear force, and gravity.

As these hydrogen scatter after the big bang, their gravity pulls some of them together. Groups collect with other groups, and those bigger groups collect into bigger groups, and even bigger groups. Gravity is pulling inwards and the structure of the atom (electromagnetic forces are pushing the protons away from each other). Once enough hydrogen is pulled together, the gravitational forces start to overcome the electromagnetic forces and the protons become close enough for the strong nuclear forces to form helium and that reaction (fusion) produces an immense amount of energy and more outward pressure (which equalizes with the inward pressure of gravity or the mass goes poof). Assuming enough gravity, the young star consumes hydrogen and produces helium and a system of convection keeps a flow of hydrogen to the core to be fused into helium. It takes more pressure to turn He(2) into Be(4) than it does to turn H(1) into He(2) so the helium just hangs out.

There are more than (2) ways for starts to die as I understand. As soon as the hydrogen is consumed to the point where fusion stops gravity pulls helium together (denser than hydrogen) and either there is enough mass to increase the pressure so that fusion occurs with helium or the star dies (and the core is left); or there is enough gravity to initiate more fusion of heavier elements, but not enough mass to keep it together and the star goes super nova; or there is fusion and enough mass to keep the reaction going (there is still a smaller nova, which ejects part of the content of the star). These same three options affect heavier fusion processes, but only to a point.

There is a point where the electromagnetic forces are overcome all together by gravity and electrons fall into their nucleus and neutralizes the protons; this produces a Neutron Star (the biggest visible star) which are more prevalent the closer you get to the edge of the visible Universe (take that into account with time difference and I don’t think they exist anymore). The last element to be made before a neutron star occurs is suggested to be Fe(26) (I believe). If gravity becomes any bigger than neutron stars, then it may overcome the strong nuclear forces of the neutrons collapsing the nucleus structure, and producing a singularity (a black hole), which eventually fizzle out over time.

Where do the heaver elements than Fe (26) come from? Perhaps there are side reactions to make heavier elements while Fe(26) is being made; IDK, that is the extent of what I know. The process takes a very long time. The kid I believe took an estimate of how much carbon exists on earth (or in our solar system) and calculate how long the fusion process would take to produce that much carbon and came up with 20 billion years. The weird thing is our star isn't big enough to produce the heavier elements (Just He I think) so I have no idea where they came from.

Edited by m082844
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According to recent research, at least if you believe the Science channel, the larger stars CAN make Iron - but once they start to do so, since the fusion of Iron absorbs energy instead of releasing it, the fusion process collapses and that triggers the supernova. Within 30 seconds of making Fe, the star explodes - and in the resulting explosion, the heavier elements are created. Since those stars are SO massive, enough Fe is made by the star and Fe + other heavier elements in the explosion to form planets like ours later on.

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Actually my understanding is that stars can make iron without trouble, it's proceeding beyond iron that starts to use more energy than is generated. I agree with what Greebo said otherwise; my disagreement is regarding which side of the line iron is on. (Also, this is not recent research; it has been understood for decades--since 1957 at least.)

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Actually my understanding is that stars can make iron without trouble, it's proceeding beyond iron that starts to use more energy than is generated. I agree with what Greebo said otherwise; my disagreement is regarding which side of the line iron is on. (Also, this is not recent research; it has been understood for decades--since 1957 at least.)

Well, there's half a dozen TV scientists saying that it's Iron that does the trick over several shows - and I'm no astrophysicist so for me it's purely academic interest but I understand that they can be wrong...

Although one of those shows is narrated by Mike Rowe, so I think that settles it. It's Iron that kills stars! ;)

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According to recent research, at least if you believe the Science channel, the larger stars CAN make Iron - but once they start to do so, since the fusion of Iron absorbs energy instead of releasing it, the fusion process collapses and that triggers the supernova. Within 30 seconds of making Fe, the star explodes - and in the resulting explosion, the heavier elements are created. Since those stars are SO massive, enough Fe is made by the star and Fe + other heavier elements in the explosion to form planets like ours later on.

Iron asside, if the fusion stops, then why the explosion (super nova)? Just looking at the forces involved--gravity (in) and atom structure (out)--there doesn't seem to be a reason for a super nova if fusion stops.
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What JR said - the fusion doesn't stop - it just stops producing enough energy to keep the star from collapsing. As the star collapses, pressure increases, so heat increases, so now a new fusion process begins which is no longer balanced by gravity - it runs away and explodes the star, creating even MORE heat and higher order fusions.

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