Astrophysics and Astrochemistry

Technical stuff for understanding the cosmos.

Cosmology: Myth or Science?

J. Astrophys. Astr. (1984) 5, 79–98
For the Golden Jubilee of the Indian Academy of Sciences, representing a culture which has investigated cosmology for four millennia

Hannes Alfvén
Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, and University of California,
San Diego

1. Pre-Galilean Cosmologies

1.1 Ancient Cosmological Myths

Cosmology began when man began to ask: What is beyond the horizon and what happened before the earliest event I can remember? The method of finding out was to ask those who had travelled very far; they reported what they had seen, and also what people they had met far away had told them about still more remote regions. Similarly, grandfather told about his young days and what his grandfather had told him and so on. But the information was always increasingly uncertain the more remote the regions and the times.

The increasing demand for knowledge about very remote regions and very early times was met by people who claimed they could give accurate information about the most distant regions and the earliest times. When asked how they could know all this they often answered that they had direct contact with the gods, and got revelations about the structure of the whole universe and how it was created. And some of these prophets were believed by large groups of people. Myths about the creation and structure of the universe were incorporated as essential parts of religious traditions.

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A Conversation Between Friends about Black Magic

Spinning galaxies – what stops them from flying apart, Black Magic?


—– Original Message —–

From: John Hartnett

To: Hilton Ratcliffe

Sent: Friday, April 13, 2011 4:12 AM

Subject: question


From your investigations for your book and since, what would you say are the best lines of evidence for a static universe?


Professor John Hartnett

School of Physics, M013

University of Western Australia


On 14-Apr-11, at 08:17 PM, Hilton Ratcliffe wrote:

Hi John,

My position is that universal expansion is an extraordinary hypothesis (we do not observe expansion), and that therefore the burden of proof lies with those who propose it. Both redshift (Hubble Law) and CMBR are specious. We have a situation that is analogous with the proposal of Copernicus – from Earth, we observe that the Sun passes around the Earth, which appears to be at rest and central. Copernicus made an extraordinary proposal, that the Earth in fact rotates about its polar axis and creates the illusion that the Sun passes overhead. The burden of proof rested with him, and those who supported him. They succeeded, and now we have a proper understanding of the dynamics of the Solar System. No such verification of the expansion theory has been forthcoming and we therefore must continue to believe what we see (a static Universe) until we are shown otherwise.

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The Ring of the Lords

“A man is now.” Immanuel Kant

The Universe. We’re all entitled to make assumptions. It’s part of our basic belief system. That doesn’t mean that they are true, it just means that we declare the foundation of our idea of reality. We develop a particular idea of what reality is, and tend to stick to it. Sometimes we support it with logic, and sometimes it’s just gut-level instinct. My late father (a gifted physicist) gave me this advice: “Beware the man with a theory.” Had he lived long enough to experience this tragic era of theological terrorism, he might have put it another way: Don’t try to negotiate with a suicide bomber.

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Optics in Physics, Part II

Spectroscopy is the study of the absorption and emission of light by atoms and molecules, and how this relates to the wavelengths of light. It is a science of the spectrum, a set of energy bands of varying wavelengths (colours) produced by electromagnetic radiation. It is typified for a visually oriented species like humans by the rainbow band of colours that emerges when you pass white light through a prism (or sunlight through raindrops). This property of light became the domain of Isaac Newton in the late 17th century. In his 1704 masterpiece of theoretical dualism, Opticks, Newton defined many of the ground rules 200 years before spectroscopy was first seriously applied.

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Optical Instruments, Part I

It’s amazing how progress in astronomy has followed in huge leaps upon the development of new observational technology. The Middle Eastern scholars of the first five hundred years AD gave us the basis for mapping the sky when they devised the concept of degrees of arc—the novel idea that cycles can be represented by circles, quantitatively divided up into equal segments we today call degrees. They also invented the astrolabe, an instrument for measuring celestial angles. This technology carried us through the revelations of Copernicus, the eye-watering accuracy of Tycho Brahe’s observational catalogues, and subsequent analysis by Johann Kepler which resulted in our understanding of orbital motion and which led ultimately to Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation.

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A Letter to a Reader of The Virtue of Heresy

The stars are what they are irrespective of the opinions expressed in the field of cosmology. It amazes me that pronouncements are made about distant objects with such unshakeable certainty when in the cold light of day the reach of verifiable science is not nearly so self-assured. I am reminded of Al Gore’s brazen assertion that “the science is settled” in climatology, a field which rivals cosmology in chaotic outcomes. The most daunting challenge facing space science is that of scale. In an infinite Universe, we will always be infinitely more ignorant than we are wise. In my view, we have more than enough to keep us occupied in the celestial neighbourhood, and would do well to take things one step at a time. Compare the science proposed in Hannes Alfven and Gustav Arrhenius “The Evolution of the Solar System” with Alan Guth’s pronouncements on Inflation Theory, or George Smoot’s take on the CMB, or indeed, even the core principles of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. The question I like to ask myself is “How does this theory connect to observed reality?” In a sitting room conversation with Halton Arp a few years ago, the late Fred Hoyle said, “I suppose that in the end, Chip, the Universe will have its say.”

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Skywalker Interviewed by AuthorPoppet



Today I’m chatting with published astrophysicist Hilton Ratcliffe. Hilton is just one of those people who makes life infinitely interesting. No matter what question I have, he takes the time to *put things into perspective* for me, and he’s rather lovely. I’m pleased my path crossed his last year, and that we’ve maintained contact… let’s talk books, space, and big bangs (the innuendo in that is endless)…

Poppet • • • looks to Hilton…

The Virtue of Heresy: That’s quite a title – care to explain it?

The full title of my first book is “The Virtue of Heresy – Confessions of a Dissident Astronomer”. It has nothing to do with religion. Science progresses by being challenged. The history of organised knowledge has been characterised by periods – I suppose we might even call them dynasties – during which a prevailing dogma has held sway, and this has always meant the suppression of dissent. For example, the regime that promoted the Earth-centred Universe ruled science and society for about 2,000 years. It has invariably been the efforts of a few resolute individuals, the heretics that brought about regime change described as a paradigm shift by Thomas Kuhn. We owe the ongoing development of true science entirely to the efforts of those few dissidents like Copernicus and Galileo who risked their lives to challenge the orthodoxy, hence “the virtue of heresy”. My book puts that into a contemporary idiom, focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on insidious repression of dissent by a clique promoting Big Bang Theory in cosmology.

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Interview by Kirt Griffin for South African Astrophysicist Dr. Hilton Ratcliffe on the Sun & How it Drives our Climate

Interview by Kirt Griffin for South African astrophysicist Dr. Hilton Ratcliffe on the Sun and how it drives our Climate

A few years ago I was introduced to Hilton Ratcliffe by a mutual friend. He had published a book, “The Virtue of Heresy: Confessions of a Dissident Astronomer”. The book held me fascinated as it debunked many of the dogma that infiltrated the scientific lexicon. He disassembled each so-called theory, actually unproven hypotheses, in a calm scientific manner. He now has a new book and I can’t wait to read it. The video attached was taken in Durban South Africa and the responses by the local dog population to the animals in the African bush were a nuisance. It didn’t stop him from making his point in a very professional manner. The segment was broadcasted on African TV.

I hope you enjoy it. Dr. Ratcliffe has agreed to an interview and I have received the final responses today so without further ado, lets begin.

Kirt G: Were those dogs barking in the background or some wild African beast?

Hilton: That was a dog, but it was barking at a wild creature (vervet monkey). We had to stop and re-take several times because of wild animal sounds coming from the bush.

Kirt G: Could you tell us a little about yourself and maybe comment on your new book?

Hilton: Although I do research on the Sun, my work does not relate directly to terrestrial weather. I’m simply trying to establish a physical description of celestial phenomena and systems as far as physics can reach into space, and that’s not very far. My interest in the AGW debacle stems from a realization that it is the product of the same sociological and psychological factors as Big Bang Theory, with the caveat that AGW is easier to falsify scientifically. My hope therefore was that in helping to bring global dogma like AGW down, I would eventually, by analogy, provide some basis upon which to bring about freedom of astrophysics and astronomy from the grip of standard-model-mania.

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Online Discussion of Neutron Repulsion Energy

Dear Oliver, friends,

I’m an interested observer of this discussion, and look at it through the lens of physics (oh how I envy chemists that freedom to practice their art without strictures of meta-geometrical topology that afflict extra-terrestrial physics. Imagine if we tried to discuss chemical reactions in varying space curvatures).

For some years now, Oliver and I have collaborated on a Solar System model that aligns with conventional chemistry and physics rather than opposes them. Thus, we have an explosive progenitor in the form of an iron-rich supernova. Isotope sequences put that event at ~4.5GYA. That much is empirically verifiable, and is no longer controversial in the mainstream. What happens next is where physics and consensus depart each other.

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From Chapter 8 of The Static Universe

To understand cosmic cycles, study explosions. The moment a star dies in a supernova, an inexorable tide of creation goes forth, and it is a beautiful thing to behold. It represents cosmic nativity. A supernova (SN, plural SNe) takes a fraction of a second to explode, yet its brilliance outshines entire galaxies, and the nebula that remains is a starkly fascinating shadow in the picture of galaxies. In that telling instant, redistribution of assets saturates the environment, and consequently, it’s so easy to make supernovae major players in theories of cosmic evolution.

There’s a problem though. You see, SNe happen far less frequently than the old blue moon—about two observed per galaxy per century. That’s not nearly enough—by orders of magnitude—to account for stellar phenomena with anything approaching statistical significance. One per 50 years in a collection of a hundred billion stars isn’t going to do much in the bigger picture. But protagonists in the saga of expansion found a use for supernovae that quite exceeds the design parameters for exploding stars. They extracted from observational data a timescale warp in the fading glow of supernovae. Specifically, they targeted those supernovae known as Type 1A.

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