Cosmology Myths and Legends

How much of cosmology is belief and how much is science?

Neutrinos, Nautilus, and the Notre Dame

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

First and foremost, for me, knowledge is a journey, and I’m happy to hang around with people I can learn from. I prefer to do this in a pleasant way, hence the preference for comfortable chats over a cup of tea. My mother was a veritable teapot, and my late academic advisor, Professor Tony Bray, conducted all our research fuelled by tea and scones. It involves respect, courtesy, charming etiquette, and admission of our own ignorance.

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The Mystery of Life

In the ancient epochs of astronomy, it was tightly bound to social superstition, and there was little to set it apart from the religion of the day. The celestial sphere was perceived to be nearby, and charmingly benign. It was as if the stars in the sky were merely a backdrop to a world that existed entirely to nurture and benefit people. The self-importance that resulted from this myopic view is staggering. I’m trying to stay away from religion as much as I possibly can in telling this story, but gosh it’s a circus! We have in this day and age a popular conception of the creator of the Universe who is proudly male! Good grief! If there’s any one thing that persuades me that a literal take on biblical philosophy is incredibly naïve, it’s that God looks like a human male, and even more astoundingly, behaves like one, stereotypically. I’m not given to mocking the faith of others, but the conception of a patriarchal, sexist, chauvinist God is surely the most flabbergasting facet of a monumentally incredible belief system.

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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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A Review of the “Age of Stupid”

Well, I have after trial and tribulation managed to watch all of “The Age of Stupid”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a free download site that offered the entire movie in one chunk, so ultimately I resorted to YouTube and watched it in 9 episodes. Given the emotional style of the production, which requires uninterrupted flow to carry the feelings in the intended way, this was not ideal, but perhaps, in a way, it gives me an objective advantage – the fragmentation breaks the subjective grip, and lets one more freely examine the facts without syrupy emotional overhead. The Great Global Warming Swindle is by contrast produced entirely differently, and is much more satisfying to the objective investigator, regardless of ideological persuasion. Of course, both movies strongly express a particular point of view, that’s given, but by and large, one of them relies on tears and the other on data.

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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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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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