Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Big Bang followup

I’ve been running this blog for nearly 5 months now and, until recently, it’s never garnered much attention. Apparently, my post on Big Bang misconceptions drew far more than I suspected thanks to Phil Plat at Bad Astronomy, Pharyngula, digg.com, and Stupid Evil Bastard linking to it among nearly 60 other blogs, now according to Technocrati.

I hadn’t intended for it to be so widely publicized. After all, these points shouldn’t be all that astounding and I’m not the first to address these points.

So I’m not really sure why it became so popular. But regardless of my expectations, it did. And I’m pleased so many people found it helpful. That single post has generated more comments than the rest of this blog combined I think (I haven’t counted but it sure seems that way). So to everyone that stopped by thanks and I appreciate the comments. I try to respond to as many as I can. Nearly all of the comments I received and saw elsewhere were positive. Even Panda’s Thumb’s (is that the correct possessive form?) local creationist stopped by but couldn’t find anything to say except that “it’s not cutting edge science.”

He’s right, and I never claimed it to be. It’s just the general science that people should have picked up in school, but from my experience, they haven’t. Even those that seem to really enjoy science and accept the theories often fall prey to these misconceptions and don’t have the complete picture. It seems to be such a pervasive problem that I can hardly fault the individuals, but instead would have to consider the schools at fault.

Well, kind of. Astronomy is a rather esoteric science that doesn’t have much direct application to every day life. Thus, it’s not stressed in schools, and is generally only very lightly touched upon. Very few high schools even offer a basic class dedicated to astronomy. So, I suppose we can’t blame the schools for not getting the point across when there’s so much more that’s important, and therefore leaving people to get their understanding from common knowledge which generally isn’t reliable.

But for all the kind comments I received, there were the inevitable loony ones from fundamentalists or people who have just read a bit too much sci-fi.

One of my favorites came from digg:
Misconception #5 --> "The Big Bang Actually Happened!" Of course it didn't and there is no proof that it ever did, but this is the misconception that most people seemed to be buying into the most.
I’m supposing the guy that wrote this didn’t actually bother to read what I’d posted as I did offer several independent threads of reasoning that all pointed to the Big Bang.

Also on digg, tdellaringa started on the typical rant that my post was meant to head off
No, the "big expansion" is not compatible with scripture. 6 days does not a big expansion make. No, days were not some unspecified amount of time.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i1/days.asp

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Accept it or reject it, just don't try to walk around it.
Such arrogance! “My interpretation of the Bible is the only one that’s possibly right!”

There were also a fair number of ad hominems scattered around:
who cares what a 22 year old astronomy student has to say on the big bang? typical college kid-who-thinks-he-knows-everything BS. This article just restated what most people already know if they've read anything about the big bang.
Have I ever claimed to know everything? I certainly can’t recall ever doing so. In fact, there’s been more than one occasion in this blog I’ve made an error that was caught by a reader and I cheerfully admitted my mistake and corrected it noting that such discrepancies were caught by others. But either way, what does my age have to do with anything?

Furthermore, not everyone who’s done reading about the Big Bang has gotten this as experience has clearly demonstrated. Over.And.Over.

But to all those people who enjoyed my post and left comments, I thank you and hope you continue reading.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for fighting the ignorance.

Keerax said...

I want to add kudos to you as well. I hadn't heard most of that stuff before and I appreciated the opportunity to learn something in an easily laid out format.

jared said...

Thanks for all of the insite on the big bang. I think that too many people get bent all out of shape over it. I think that when the bible refers to "days" that it really is talking about time periods. This allows for science like the big bang to happen.

Stephen said...

Great links to online cosmology papers.

One of the best videos i've seen on this subject is Professor Filippenko's What's New in Astronomy, 2003. 16 lectures in about 12 hours. Good graphics, and some really excellent demonstrations. If you just-don't-get something, going back and seeing it again tends to fill in the blanks.

It's a bit pricey. One of the members of my astronomy club bought a copy and donated it to the club library. I saw it twice, and many other members have checked it out.

Carl Sagan's 1980 TV series Cosmos is also available, updated in 1995. It's easier to follow than Filippenko. Despite the absurd pace at which science in general has progressed in the past 25 years, there isn't anything i'd consider wrong. There is, of course, new data for deeper understanding. So this might be a better introduction to Cosmology. Oddly, a club member bought a copy for himself, and liked it so much that he bought a second copy for the club. I currently credit Cosmos for framing my current understanding of the Universe. How i coped before 1980 is a mystery. The club copy has been in continuous demand since it was donated.

This library idea is a bit hard to fathom, but seems to be catching on.

Chet said...

Don't worry, Jon, I well understand your frustrations. Those that quote from "scripture" do not have the critical thinking in-depth comprehension of what they are quoting or reading. They are not independent "thinkers".
Jared, the bible is Hebrew pre-scientific, "primitive" view of a developing ego-centric culture defining itself by borrowing from local superior cultures of two-thousand eight hundred years ago: Egypt,Sumeria, Assyria, Babylonia, Phoencian, etc..
There wasn't any scientific thinking at the time. It wasn't and isn't science!
The "light of dawn of their rising Sun God" is not to be connected, at all, with our 20/21st century Big Bang Cosmology. And, it was beleived that the "flat earth and waters" had been void and empty, not the Universe! They were ego-centric Middle Eastern desert inhabitants. (And, still are.)

jared said...

Chet,

I said nothing about the bible being scientific. I simply said that I believe it allows for science and religion to coexist. Why do we feel the need to pick one or the other?

Ted said...

Jon,

You were just waiting to be discovered. That post and a few others put you on my list of 25 that I hit daily. I'm a junkie for all things cosmological (how many people send money to PBS to purchase Elegant Universe?), so keep it coming!

(I came here from Pharyngula)

Anonymous said...

"Kudos to you for fighting the ignorance."

The big bang is just bad theory.

This is a stupid smug smokescreen to suggest that those who disagree with it or are skeptical about it are 'ignorant'.

Its a dopey theory. And it won't last. It passes no CONVERGENCE test.

And it is an example of other-worldly mathematicians mixing up their models with reality.

The idea of a singularity for example..... No evidence for this exists anywhere except in mathematicians models.

Its a stupid idea and is not more signifincant then the weird things that happen when you divide anything by zero.

Stephen said...

Great links to online cosmology papers.

One of the best videos i've seen on this subject is Professor Filippenko's What's New in Astronomy, 2003. 16 lectures in about 12 hours. Good graphics, and some really excellent demonstrations. If you just-don't-get something, going back and seeing it again tends to fill in the blanks.

It's a bit pricey. One of the members of my astronomy club bought a copy and donated it to the club library. I saw it twice, and many other members have checked it out.

Carl Sagan's 1980 TV series Cosmos is also available, updated in 1995. It's easier to follow than Filippenko. Despite the absurd pace at which science in general has progressed in the past 25 years, there isn't anything i'd consider wrong. There is, of course, new data for deeper understanding. So this might be a better introduction to Cosmology. Oddly, a club member bought a copy for himself, and liked it so much that he bought a second copy for the club. I currently credit Cosmos for framing my current understanding of the Universe. How i coped before 1980 is a mystery. The club copy has been in continuous demand since it was donated.

This library idea is a bit hard to fathom, but seems to be catching on.

Chet said...

Don't worry, Jon, I well understand your frustrations. Those that quote from "scripture" do not have the critical thinking in-depth comprehension of what they are quoting or reading. They are not independent "thinkers".
Jared, the bible is Hebrew pre-scientific, "primitive" view of a developing ego-centric culture defining itself by borrowing from local superior cultures of two-thousand eight hundred years ago: Egypt,Sumeria, Assyria, Babylonia, Phoencian, etc..
There wasn't any scientific thinking at the time. It wasn't and isn't science!
The "light of dawn of their rising Sun God" is not to be connected, at all, with our 20/21st century Big Bang Cosmology. And, it was beleived that the "flat earth and waters" had been void and empty, not the Universe! They were ego-centric Middle Eastern desert inhabitants. (And, still are.)

Keerax said...

I want to add kudos to you as well. I hadn't heard most of that stuff before and I appreciated the opportunity to learn something in an easily laid out format.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for fighting the ignorance.