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Momentous Big Bang Findings Questioned

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the science-is-self-correcting dept.

Space 154

sciencehabit writes "The biggest discovery in cosmology in a decade could turn out to be an experimental artifact, according to a report by a physics blogger. The blogger says the BICEP group — the team behind the huge announcement of the moments after the Big Bang a few weeks back — had subtracted the wrong Planck measurement of foreground radiation in deriving its famous evidence for gravitational waves. As a result, the calculation is invalid and the so-called evidence inconclusive. Intriguingly, the BICEP team has yet to flat-out deny this."

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Peer review (5, Insightful)

meglon (1001833) | about 5 months ago | (#46995281)

That's why we call it science, not religion.

Re:Peer review (-1, Troll)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 5 months ago | (#46995339)

No, you call it science when the party who did wrong owns up to it.

As long as they stand by their ground, then it's belief and therefore religion.

Re:Peer review (5, Informative)

tloh (451585) | about 5 months ago | (#46995409)

Hold on there, Nellie. Aren't we being just a bit quick to point fingers? It is entirely appropriate to stand your ground if it is firmly rooted in solid evidence and good reason. Let the data be subjected to scrutiny and defend itself to the extent possible. More likely than not, it isn't as conclusive or accurate as some may hope, but it doesn't automatically make it bad science. Whatever short-coming is uncovered this time around is another stepping stone toward getting it right. No one is wrong simply because you or anyone else arbitrarily say so.

Re:Peer review (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995765)

Seriously, I think of it like this: We are apes. Super-Apes, for sure, but apes nonetheless.. We escaped the jungle. We escaped the veldts. We escaped Africa, became the dominant macro-species of the entire planet. We basically conquered the ENTIRE...FUCKING...PLANET! We are (mostly) a smart bunch of apey motherfuckers. Sure, we might make little mistakes here and there in calculation like these chaps, but ultimately, WE ARE OUTPERFORMING EVERY OTHER OF THE FIFTY-MILLION SPECIES ON THE PLANET. Or under-performing I sometimes think....

Re:Peer review (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995841)

Hold on there, Shellie.

So you neither understood the summary, the links in question, or what the criticism was, right?

Or you're just a rabid science fanboi rushing to protect that which needs no protection?

But hey, on slashdot where nobody understands logic, science, the articles, and the summaries, you get rewarded with a big fat +5 for lugging out the one size fits all strawman and burning it.

Re:Peer review (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 5 months ago | (#46995875)

I believe in my theory, I try to prove it, I get data that supports my view.

So far, so good.

Someone pokes a hole in this thing I believed, and still do.

Now it gets weird.

I can fight against the establishment, for what I believe. Or I can admit defeat, and consider my theory back to hypothesis, or perhaps passing thought.

To change conventional wisdom, the heretic needs to fight a great number of preconceptions. Or the crazy guy needs to fight established and proven science.

Both sides believe their ideas. Being on the bleeding edge of science means one side does not stand with science. Both may have solid evidence and good reason. Both sides have faith in their procedures.

Until one side backs down, it will have adherents, deserved or not. In the last decade, several breakthroughs seemed possible, until data fabrication was admitted. One side won, the other defeated. But it did not feel settled until someone admitted defeat. Someone has to go on record saying its dead, Jim.

Re:Peer review (1)

narcc (412956) | about 5 months ago | (#46995899)

Or I can admit defeat, and consider my theory back to hypothesis

What? Theory and Hypothesis are different things. One does not graduate or degrade into the other.

Re:Peer review (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996023)

Both may have solid evidence and good reason.

That is all that needs to be said... if both have solid evidence and reason, then a consequence of inductive logic is that you can come to different conclusions depending on how your a prior experience and knowledge lead to you giving weight to different arguments. And then it is not a matter of waiting for one side to concede... that doesn't really settle anything in science. What is needed is further evidence that distinguishes between the two sides.

Someone pokes a hole in this thing I believed, and still do.

But it gets a lot more complicated when it the hole is arguable. Or in this case might have gone unnoticed for a while even with someone pointing it out. Even then it might need a double take, because if scientists dropped everything they are working on as soon as an a blog post is made claiming to have an issue, some fields would stop making progress as the pseudoscientists effectively mount a denial of service style attack. (Not saying this blog post is pseudoscience or even wrong, but having worked in research related to GR and black holes before, you can end up getting a lot of cold emails claiming that anything from a small to large part of your field is wrong, with a link that can be anywhere from a 1 page blog to a 100+ pages of disorganized notes, 99+% of which are a waste of time).

Re:Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996525)

but in this case, the error is one small thing, easily explained in terms even the stupidest person can understand.

It is in fact, an error of the kind where one might say, 'hey, this minus sign should be positive'. Easily pointed out, easily confirmed, easily admitted, and easily fixed.

But please do go on arguing imaginary hypotheticals.

Re:Peer review (4, Insightful)

tloh (451585) | about 5 months ago | (#46996151)

One side won, the other defeated. But it did not feel settled until someone admitted defeat. Someone has to go on record saying its dead, Jim.

This is utter B/S! What's with this black/white way of looking at things? By this line of reasoning, Copernicus was a hack for being too obsessed with the Sun. Galileo failed for not anticipating Newton. Newton failed for not anticipating Einstein. Einstein is a looser for being unable to handle QM. And we're all Dumbasses for not knowing the answer to every question ever asked. Seriously?

Whatever the case may be, BICEP should be acknowledged for taking a gutsy and ingenious shot at a daunting question. The approach is laudable and should be appreciated as modern, cutting-edge scientific research at its best: the meticulousness and dedication of working out of the South Pole, the engineering effort that went into such precise equipment design, the camaraderie and team spirit mustered among all the professional collaborators.

People who are eager to smear the project are doing a great disservice to science literacy by perpetuating low-brow stereotypical notion of what scientific research is about in this day and age. It is unsettling that the tendency toward sensationalism has somehow become a legitimate way of thinking and talking about these things. We're all becoming brain-dead National Inquirerers. This is shameful for a modern civilized society.

Re: Peer review (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996451)

Too many words, sciencehabit. As a peer reviewer I can tell you that the proponent of the refuted theory has to:
A) prove the refutation wrong;
B) find an alternative that does not need his mistaken calculations;
Or
C)abandon his hypothesis or his theory (depending on the role of the challenged calculation) and move on. This is the scientific method, not "admitting defeat". In science a failed theory or hypothesis comes with the territory. It is not "defeat" but part of the scientific method.
Edison was not "defeated" when he failed over 100 times to make a light bulb. He simply moved on with another hypothesis about materials until he succeeded. The basic theory was correct.

Re:Peer review (4, Insightful)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 5 months ago | (#46996943)

Someone pokes a hole in this thing I believed, and still do.

Now it gets weird.

I can fight against the establishment, for what I believe. Or I can admit defeat, and consider my theory back to hypothesis, or perhaps passing thought.

Now, if someone pokes a hole in my theory by pointing out a miscalculation, I'm not going to jump the gun and say, "You're Right!" first thing. I'm going to have to peer review that information, and depending on my (re)evaluation I'll come out and say what the updated calculation means for my hypothesis and release an updated or different conclusion -- I may even determine that the supposed erroneous calculation meant nothing to the results or determine that the critique was wrong and list the reasons why. Then this back and forth will continue until either my hypothesis is refuted or proven.

Both sides believe their ideas. Being on the bleeding edge of science means one side does not stand with science. Both may have solid evidence and good reason. Both sides have faith in their procedures.

No, there is no such thing as faith in science. No one strongly believes anything. We have strong evidence for things, and we conclude that based on evidence A, B, and C, it appears that X, Y, and Z are true; However anyone can come along and show that our conclusion is incorrect because of T, U or V and we'll embrace the correction. We don't have faith that our hypotheses and theories are correct, we have evidence. Faith is belief in the absence of evidence. Go back to theology101, you failed it son.

One side won, the other defeated. But it did not feel settled until someone admitted defeat. Someone has to go on record saying its dead, Jim.

Give them a chance to then, doofus. You sound like a raving loon. Time apparently exists, as evidenced by the delay in response. Right?

Re:Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998117)

No, there is no such thing as faith in science. No one strongly believes anything. We have strong evidence for things, and we conclude that based on evidence A, B, and C, it appears that X, Y, and Z are true;

So you've redone every experiment ever recorded by man? Or do you take what others tell you about them on faith? Empericism relies on physical laws to remain constant or at least predictable. By relying on emperical evidence, you take it on faith that evidence gleaned at time N will having meaning for time N'. Humans can not function without faith.

Thats stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998433)

Science provides (or at least try to provide) the best explanation to explain known facts on a subject. When new facts come to the table, old theories need to be either expanded or discarded, thats all.

Science is a process and EVERY result of the scientific process is tentative and pending review when new facts arise.

Faith has nothing to do with that and a big deal of the scientific process is PRECISELY to deal with well known shortcomings of human nature.

Re:Thats stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998545)

Except in the case of AGW. Then, Science provides the explanation that best meets the needs of their political overlords.

Re:Peer review (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | about 5 months ago | (#46998887)

No, there is no such thing as faith in science. No one strongly believes anything.

Good one. I had a chuckle.

Re:Peer review (1)

gtall (79522) | about 5 months ago | (#46997327)

You don't understand science. Science is a human endeavor, things can remain up in the air for a long while until the facts are sorted out. While they are up in the air, it is all still science. Once one theory is vanquished, that theory does not automatically become not science. Typically, there are features that it got right even if not the entire thing. And the things it got wrong are science as well. That's how scientists work. They make mistakes, they spend a lot of time in a haze, the universe is a complicated place.

The heretic is typically not a professional scientist or at least a respected scientist. The number of places where the heretic was right and the established science is wrong is insignificant compared to the reverse. If you'd spent any time in science at all, you'd see the legions of whackjobs are out there pushing nonsense.

The relativity of wrong (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 months ago | (#46997339)

Asimov said what I think you are trying to say [tufts.edu] . Science is a major branch of philosophy, in fact in when Newton was kick starting the enlightenment, it wasn't called science, it was called "Natural Philosophy". Assuming scientists make a good faith effort to follow the principles of their chosen philosophy then nobody has to "back down". Both sides of the argument have a strong faith that absolute truth is a worthy but unattainable goal..

Yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995993)

Speak it Applejack! Also true to form and logic about your objection.

Re:Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995489)

As long as they stand by their ground, then it's belief and therefore religion.

Or a mix of being human and inductive logic using potentially different priors.

"Hey Jack, I think you plugged that cable into the wrong port on the router." "But I double checked, and Bob looked it over too, I'm pretty sure I plugged it into the right place." Jack isn't being religious or going on faith her, he is saying that he thinks his and Bob's combined checking makes him think it is more likely the first guy made a mistake. Of course he could be giving undue weight to his own efforts of double checking, but even perfectly reasonable inductive logic makes mistakes too. The first guy might need to make a stronger case and give Jack a bit more time, or maybe Jack is just an egotistical ass and won't admit to being wrong, but the rest of the team will notice he is wrong and move on.

Re:Peer review (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 months ago | (#46998979)

Perhaps we should say faith-with-a-little-F to mean what you're talking about here. Like when you get on a bus, you have faith-with-a-little-F the driver isn't going to kamikaze it off the nearest cliff.

We could then use Faith-with-a-big-F to signify the one about what happens to you after you get on a bus and the driver does kamikaze it off a cliff.

Re:Peer review (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995787)

Modded down by science fanbois who don't understand science, again..

Do they keep getting dumber in science everyday?

Re:Peer review (1)

meglon (1001833) | about 5 months ago | (#46996047)

Your definition of science is flawed, although not surprising considering the incredible lack of scientific understanding the general population has... especially in the US.

Re:Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995361)

Another group independently doing a similar experiment on CBMR have found something different
the upper limit to the mass of the neutrino
http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/press... [ucsd.edu]

neutrino mass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996003)

Another group independently doing a similar experiment on CBMR have found something different
the upper limit to the mass of the neutrino

http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/press... [ucsd.edu]

They didn't find the upper limit to the mass of the neutrino. They just suggested that they *could* do so in the future. However, Planck data has been used for this, in combination with other cosmological data.

Re:Peer review (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#46995393)

Religion also has peer review; witness Martin Luther. However, disagreements often result in forking the religion, not down-grading one, unless you count popularity. If you count popularity and forking, then indeed there is peer review roughly equivalent to science and the difference is blurred, for good or bad.

interesting point (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 5 months ago | (#46995629)

That's a very interesting point. I hadn't thought of it that way.

Re:Peer review (1)

elwinc (663074) | about 5 months ago | (#46995651)

Religion also has peer review; witness Martin Luther. However, disagreements often result in forking the religion, not down-grading one, unless you count popularity. If you count popularity and forking, then indeed there is peer review roughly equivalent to science and the difference is blurred, for good or bad.

Galileo's peer review came a few hundred years too late. Torquemada was never peer reviewed. Neither were these Popes. [wikipedia.org]

Conclusion: in religion, peer review is more the exception than the rule.

Re:Peer review (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 5 months ago | (#46995709)

Galileo's peer review came a few hundred years too late.

Alas, the myth that Galileo got in trouble with the Church for his heliocentric opinions persists to this day.

Two things to note:

1) note that the developer of heliocentrism was a churchman, as well as a scientist.

2) what really got Galileo in trouble was calling the Pope a simpleton in a book he wrote about heliocentrism. Good rule of thumb - NEVER call the Pope names when you are living in a place he rules.

For that matter, calling pretty much any secular ruler an idiot put you in grave danger at that time if you were well enough known that people would pay attention to what you say.

Re: Peer review (0)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 5 months ago | (#46995915)

As any good viewer of Cosmos knows the church excommunicated the guy who hypothesized about heliocentrism.

Re: Peer review (2)

Pseudonym (62607) | about 5 months ago | (#46996879)

Are you by any chance referring to Bruno, whose "hypothesis" was a mystical vision? Or are you referring to Copernicus, who actually had calculations and was not excommunicated?

Re:Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995967)

Additionally, he was given peer review, in a sense. At his trial, he was given two options: recant his belief in heliocentrism, or prove it. He chose not to recant, and his instruments and observations weren't up to the task of proving it.

(He was tried in 1616, while annual stellar aberration [wikipedia.org] wasn't discovered until 1680, and its significance wasn't realized until 1729. Stellar parallax [wikipedia.org] , the other piece of evidence for the heliocentric model, wasn't successfully measured until 1838.)

Re:Peer review (1)

devent (1627873) | about 5 months ago | (#46996289)

Why do you need that to prove the heliocentric model? You just need to look at the planetary movement of one of the outer planets, like Mars. The outer planets appear to make a loop if watched from earth[1]. The apparent retrograde motion could also be explained with deferent and epicycle[2] but then you already left the geocentric model. And the retrograde motion was already understood as an illusion since Copernicus[1].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A... [wikipedia.org]
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996419)

No, the point of the epicycles is to keep the geocentric model.

Re:Peer review (5, Informative)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#46996597)

Why do you need that to prove the heliocentric model?

Because stellar parallax had been suggested as a necessary requirement for the heliocentric theory to be correct since the 1500s. Various attempts to measure it by Galileo's time had failed. So, the absence of parallax was one significant strike against heliocentrism in Galileo's day, if you go by evidence and scientific method. (Of course, the reality is that the "fixed stars" were much farther away than anyone thought possible, so it took much longer to measure the tiny movements necessary to show parallax.)

You just need to look at the planetary movement of one of the outer planets, like Mars. The outer planets appear to make a loop if watched from earth. The apparent retrograde motion could also be explained with deferent and epicycle but then you already left the geocentric model.

You should read some actual history of science, rather than the inaccurate executive summary version from some TV documentary.

In case you didn't know, Galileo's model of the solar system used perfect circles rather than ellipses (contrary to Kepler's elliptical model at the time, which actually fit the data -- Galileo frequently ignored inconvenient data when it didn't fit his astronomical theories). Thus, Galileo's model (and Copernicus's too) still required the whole Ptolemaic apparatus of epicycles. Contrary to popular belief, the circular heliocentric model that Galileo endorsed -- 'cause circles are cool and "perfect"! -- did not result in significantly easier math to explain the orbits.

Dig a little further into the controversy (for example, here [jstor.org] or here [niu.edu] , just to start with a few articles that are ~40 years old, showing how long historians of science have been pointing out significant problems), and you'll discover all sorts of other problems with Galileo's theories. For one, he originally wanted to publish his book as a theory of the tides -- because, frankly, that was the ONLY reason he had according to empirical science of the day that would differentiate a geocentric and heliocentric model. Of course -- well, the tides were caused by the moon, not the sun (again, Galileo thought Kepler's ideas that the moon caused the tides were stupid). But the bigger hole is that Galileo's theory required there to be only one high tide per day. As anyone who lived near the ocean at the time knew, there were two tides per day... but, well, that didn't fit with Galileo's theory. Oh well.

And, yeah, that was basically the only incontrovertible evidence Galileo put forward that proved heliocentrism over geocentrism (and note these were not just ignorant geocentrists: many of those in the Church at the time favored the Tyconic model, based on ideas from Kepler's teacher Tycho Brahe, who actually spent decades doing detailed empirical observations).

Seriously -- there were all sorts of valid objections to the earth's motion at the time when Newton's laws of motion weren't yet fully understood. Like why don't we fly off if the Earth is moving at such high speeds? Why don't we feel the motion? Why aren't there ridiculously high winds caused by rotation at high speed? Etc. We now know why these things don't happen, but actual scientists at the time weren't sure.

And Galileo's astronomical evidence really didn't amount to much (if he accepted Kepler's models, he might have something that fit the data better, but it still couldn't prove the motion of the Earth).

So, he hung his whole assertion of the proof of heliocentrism on the tidal theory -- which was so idiotic and so obviously contrary to observable evidence (one tide per day that has to come at noon?!?) that the censors refused to let him title his book "On the Tides" or whatever he wanted to call it, so he came up with the "Discourse on the Two World Systems" title.

Galileo was a great man and contributed a lot to the progress of science through his many experiments. But he really was quite ignorant when it came to his detailed astronomical theories, and he asserted that all sorts of things were true when they either were questionable or at times in contradiction to observable fact.

This does NOT excuse the Church's suppression of his work or his sentence. Obviously people should be free to speak their mind and write what they want. But no one in 1630 could prove that the Earth was in motion, and there were many good reasons to continue to question heliocentric models (particularly the wacky ones Galileo was peddling). In many other ways, Galileo made fundamental contributions to science... but don't for a second think that he was simply "following a standard rational scientific method" in his work on heliocentrism.

Re:Peer review (1)

devent (1627873) | about 5 months ago | (#46998319)

Interesting. Thank you for the new information.

Re:Peer review (1)

Barsteward (969998) | about 5 months ago | (#46997401)

"Why do you need that to prove the heliocentric model?" - proving the earth was not the centre of the universe was a bit heretical to the religious.

Re:Peer review (3, Informative)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 5 months ago | (#46998751)

Not really, Nothing bad happened to Copernicus when he proposed the heliocentric model.

Young Earth creationism is a recent invention of fundamentalist Christians. The Catholic Church has always interpreted Genesis as an allegorical tale. Both Saints Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and Augustine in the fifth wrote about the allegorical nature of Genesis, Aquinas going so far as to call anyone who believed in a literal interpretation of these events as "an embarrassment to Christians." Saying things that contradicted the literal truth of parts of the Bible didn't stop these men from being canonized. Since they were canonized, you'd be far more likely to be called a heretic for insisting on a literal interpretation of Genesis, as you'd be calling these saints wrong. You can't really accuse saints of heresy after they've been canonized.

Galileo wasn't persecuted for his scientific beliefs. He didn't really even have what we would consider "scientific" beliefs as he had no evidence. The learned Jesuits at the time were rightly skeptical of his ideas because no one had observed stellar parallax. The diagram of the solar system was basically set to "unknown" not because of anything the bible said but because nobody had evidence it was one way or the other yet, until Kepler came up with his three laws and backed them with Tycho Brahe's observations. Galileo just ranted and in poor fashion, called anyone who disagreed with him, including the Pope, a simpleton. While absolutely no one should be arrested for their words/beliefs, Galileo wasn't persecuted for his scientific beliefs but for being a dick.

The new Cosmos offered up another false "martyr for Science" in their first episode telling the story of Bruno, who was burned at the stake by the Church. Bruno had an idea the universe was infinite and the sun was just another star. This is a great idea that turned out to be true. Unfortunately, Bruno was not a scientist. He did not base his ideas on observation or experiment. He was right about this in the same way a broken clock is right twice a day. Bruno was a mystic who wrote books on magic and thought the planets and stars had souls. In Cosmos, he was persecuted for refusing to recant his "belief" in the scope of the universe. In reality, no one gave a shit about his astronomical ideas. He was persecuted and burned for his religious heresies, like denying the divinity of Christ. Again, no one should be burned for their religious beliefs, but he was not a martyr for science. Unfortunately Cosmos sacrificed its credibility by intentionally lying about the trials of Bruno.

The Catholic Church has never been anti-science and has always seen inquiry into the workings of the natural world as a way to better understand and grow closer to God. The Church accepts as fact the theory of evolution and the implications of modern cosmology. The Big Bang was proposed by a Catholic priest. Gregor Mendel, father of genetics was a monk. The "religion hates science!" trope is popular, but only really true with regards to fundamentalists, Christian or otherwise.

Re:Peer review (3, Informative)

Thomas Miconi (85282) | about 5 months ago | (#46996483)

I don't know what's more ridiculous - the fact that this contrarian tripe gets regurgitated every time the subject of Galileo comes up, or the fact that it keeps getting modded up.

Meanwhile, back in the real world... Papal condemnation of Galileo [umkc.edu] :

We say, pronounce, sentence, and declare that you, the said Galileo, by reason of the matters adduced in trial, and by you confessed as above, have rendered yourself in the judgment of this Holy Office vehemently suspected of heresy, namely, of having believed and held the doctrine—which is false and contrary to the sacred and divine Scriptures—that the Sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west and that the Earth moves and is not the center of the world; and that an opinion may be held and defended as probably after it has been declared and defined to be contrary to the Holy Scripture; and that consequently you have incurred all the censures and penalties imposed and promulgated in the sacred canons and other constitutions, general and particular, against such delinquents. From which we are content that you be absolved, provided that, first, with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, you abjure, curse, and detest before use the aforesaid errors and heresies and every other error and heresy contrary to the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church in the form to be prescribed by us for you.

Re:Peer review (3, Interesting)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | about 5 months ago | (#46996649)

I don't know what's more ridiculous - the fact that this contrarian tripe gets regurgitated every time the subject of Galileo comes up, or the fact that it keeps getting modded up.

Politics aside, Galileo's actual proposed science on heliocentrism was RIDICULOUS. His sole proof that the earth was in motion required there to be only one high tide per day at noon (which obviously was not true, but nevermind).

I've already posted more details above in response to another comment, but the fact is that -- while Galileo was a great scientist -- if you believe in modern science, you should NOT be holding up Galileo's defense of heliocentrism as if he were the model scientist or was following any sort of empirical scientific method.

It's a common mythology that was created in the 1800s (over 200 years after Galileo's trial) to make a "martyr" for the developing scientific cause. Galileo absolutely should NOT have been punished, if you believe in free speech.

But, as science, his astronomical theories were way off the mark, and he was going around asserting them to be true without question, all the while by insulting some of the most powerful people on the planet.

By all means, condemn the Church's action as suppression of free speech. But if you think Galileo was acting as a good "scientist" in his heliocentrism arguments (at least in the modern definition of "empirical scientist" who tests theories and relies on empirical data), you're sorely mistaken, and you're basically ignoring the entire literature of the history of science that has been researched and thoroughly discussed for at least the past 50 years!

Re:Peer review (1)

oreaq (817314) | about 5 months ago | (#46997335)

But, as science, his astronomical theories were way off the mark, and he was going around asserting them to be true without question, all the while by insulting some of the most powerful people on the planet.

I think it's not fair to measure him against what we know today. You have to compare his model against the scientific believe and knowledge of his time. That is what science is all about: finding a model that is less wrong than the model you had before. Are you arguing that the geocentric model is less wrong than what Galileo proposed? Which is closer to the truth? I understand that Galileo's model is more wrong than the geocentric model we use today but that seems irrelevant to the case.

Re:Peer review (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 5 months ago | (#46998855)

I would argue that Galileo's version of a heliocentric solar system was less predictive than a geocentric model. As another poster said, his ideas lead to the necessity of only one high tide at noon, and we know that isn't true. His idea of the motion of the planets still relied on epicycles to explain why they appeared to move forward then backwards then forwards again throughout the year because he was stuck on perfectly circular orbits.

His ideas made clearly false predictions, yet he insisted he was right. Geocentricism certainly wasn't right, but its predictive power was better than Galileo's ideas. As far as theory supported by observation, geocentricism was more predictive, and more scientifically correct than heliocentricism as proposed by Galielo. There's nothing 'wrong' or unscientific about disagreeing with Galileo, because Galileo was wrong.

Now, when Kepler showed up with his laws of planetary motion, backed up by Tycho Brahe's observations, that's some real science. He had observations that allowed for the formulation of a theory with predictive power that was tested and verified. Kepler actually performed science, and was not persecuted. Galileo was just a ranting dick.

Re:Peer review (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about 5 months ago | (#46996653)

Well it's easy to believe that "you're getting in trouble for calling the pope an idiot" wouldn't fly, so they gave him trumped-up charges. Like maybe you condemn the US President in the press, so you get prosecuted for some unrelated charge of smoking a joint. Just sayin'.

Re:Peer review (1)

will_die (586523) | about 5 months ago | (#46997709)

Stop cherry picking parts of the trial and what happened before and after!
The fact is he was given a trial to prove this idea and when he could not got slammed hard for it.

Re:Peer review (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | about 5 months ago | (#46997065)

You also have to see the situation from the point of view of Galileo's scientific critics. He was known to love a drink. Scratch that, he was known to love a lot of drink. He designed his improved contraption to look at the night sky, and reported little moving lights around Jupiter.

His fellow scientists had good reason to be very skeptical about his claim. We might have had to wait another hundred years if it hadn't been for Kepler.

Re:Peer review (2)

meglon (1001833) | about 5 months ago | (#46996033)

No. Your attempt to elevate power struggles of con men to be the same as peer review, where knowledgeable people in the same field work to duplicate results is laughable, unless you consider a group of inmates on death row judging the newcomer in the same light. New religions form (forked, if you want to use your term) because a group within the old religion didn't have enough power and control over their "sheep," and wanted more. If a science changes, it's because new ideas that come from new observations or math. Your religious "peer review" is nothing more than the con men dividing up shares of the loot.

Re:Peer review (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 months ago | (#46996509)

But it's hard to objectively measure the alleged motivations you mention. Also, the big bang is not scientifically repeatable (any time soon) such that repeatability of experiment is not an issue here.

I generally agree with your assessment of motivation, but it's very difficult to measure and present such objectively. Science shouldn't rest on guessing motivations of theory proponents.

Re:Peer review (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 months ago | (#46997939)

If you count popularity and forking, then indeed there is peer review roughly equivalent to science

Well, no. Because scientific peer review is based on science, while religious peer review is based on politics, or on making shit up.

Lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998455)

Thats why Christianity has 30000 distros and counting. Brings to the mind something that a hippy said long ago about a house divided...

Re:Peer review (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995401)

At least they are allowed to say something about it. All other science is settled because there is a consensus.

Re:Peer review (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46995447)

And the AGW pseudo skeptics come out of the woodwork to spin their strawmen of science.

Re:Peer review (2)

Mashiki (184564) | about 5 months ago | (#46995621)

Oh the irony of that post.

Re:Peer review (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 months ago | (#46995705)

The irony of pointing out that consensus isn't some violation of scientific principles, and that it soeasnt a stop anyone from challenging consensus?

Oh but I get it, if you're confronted with a theory that you don't like, the proper form of attack isn't to critique the theory, but to claim it is invalid because it does have support? After all we know bug bang cosmology, evolution, plate tectonics and quantum mechanics must be false because they enjoy near universal acceptance in the scientific community.

Re:Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998625)

The irony of pointing out that consensus isn't some violation of scientific principles, and that it soeasnt a stop anyone from challenging consensus?

Oh but I get it, if you're confronted with a theory that you don't like, the proper form of attack isn't to critique the theory, but to claim it is invalid because it does have support? After all we know bug bang cosmology, evolution, plate tectonics and quantum mechanics must be false because they enjoy near universal acceptance in the scientific community.

Not a single one of your listed scientific disciplines has ever been claimed to have been "settled". Look at the Hawing/Thorne/Preskill [wikipedia.org] bet of the implications of information theory on black holes.

Look at the wars in physics over unification and string theories.

But OMG just merely question any AGW claims and look what happens.

Re:Peer review (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995611)

And why must you make this a debate of science vs what you call religion? Try posting about something else for a change.

Re:Peer review (1)

artor3 (1344997) | about 5 months ago | (#46995717)

Yup, 'cause those are literally the only two things in the world, and we can never ever talk about one without bringing up the other.

Re:Peer review (1)

paiute (550198) | about 5 months ago | (#46995895)

That's why we call it science, not religion.

Yes, but your science keeps getting corrected and refuted. My religion is free of mistakes.

Re:Peer review (1)

meglon (1001833) | about 5 months ago | (#46996009)

No. Science is a distillation of our observations of the universe and things within it. When we can make better observations, we can get a more precise understanding of what and how it happened. That is science. That is why Newton was right, until he wasn't; and why Einstein is right, until some future date where he will no longer be. The understanding changes as we make better observations.

Religion, on the other hand, only changes when some new group no longer wants to believe in the old dogma because it short changes their worldview. It has absolutely nothing to do with reality, or new observations... just new people wanting to be in power. To suggest with anything other than complete farcical satire that a religion is free of mistakes is ludicrous on it's face and any form of substance conceivable. Religion gets very little, if anything, correct...because it's not based on reality to start with, it's based on power hungry individuals or groups using the delusional proclivities and gullibility of the masses against those people to control them. Con men usually use the same tactics, religion is just more organized.

Re:Peer review (1)

gtall (79522) | about 5 months ago | (#46997343)

" Science is a distillation of our observations of the universe and things within it."

Not really. Much of physics starts with a mathematical theory. Biology starts with theories about how something works. Theories may be informed by observations, but they are human imagination at its best. When a theory is confirmed up to some epsilon, we tend to believe it correct up to that epsilon...unless further results prove otherwise, or a better theory comes along which explains more. Science is not mere reading observations.

Lol (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998593)

This is the stupidest comment in this thread so far. EVERYTHING stats with maths, as a matter of fact, math used to be a religion by itself in the ol'e Greek civilization (look for the pythagoreans). Arguably, only thorough reason you can understand the universe and the foundation of reason is logic, a subset of maths. Even in a more basic way, understanding something means finding relationships between entities and thats PRECISELY what maths is about.

Physics do NOT starts with maths. Physics is about the observation of REALITY and the construction of models to explain said reality, but as I said before ANY sort of model REQUIRES maths.

To illustrate my point, the universal gravitation law did not started as a mathematical formula, it started with people witnessing objects falling over and over without any apparent external force; from there came a long process of painstaking measurement that demonstrated that objects fall at the same speed regardless of the geographical location, then once determined that that rate was constant, there came a rush to understand WHY was that particular constant, then inferring that the same happened in other objects outside of earth and FINALLY the formula came as the result of studying the interaction between said objects.

All that process is PHYSICS, the thing is it took a *lot* of time and effort and is not possible to go with that much detail in your already defective education system; add to the mix that your teachers are not likely to knowledgeable enough on the subject and not passionated or motivated enough to explain things properly to you and you got a shorthanded version that took you to the result without explaining the process.

Re:Peer review (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 months ago | (#46997057)

Science is like a journey, not a destination.

Re:Peer review (1)

iMadeGhostzilla (1851560) | about 5 months ago | (#46996341)

That you even bring this up is an indication that supporters of science today are in an ideological battle with supporters of religion -- and engaging in ideology of any kind is a loss for science. Let the religious folks do their thing, the brighter among them already know that religion concerns the spiritual and not the material aspect of human existence, the less bright you can't reasonably convince in anything anyway. (And let me point out that it works both ways -- the brighter in the science camp also know that science concerns the material and not the spiritual -- i.e. not what cannot be detected and measured -- aspects of our lives.)

Re:Peer review (1)

Sam36 (1065410) | about 5 months ago | (#46996345)

Exactly, you believe flat out lies that everyone has a different opinion on.

No peer review to be found here (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 months ago | (#46996593)

Except, this story is religion. It's just one guy making an unsubstantiated claim, and another guy linking to said unsubstantiated claim and giving truth to it based on "internet rumours". There's no peer review to be found.

Re:Peer review (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46997911)

Oh great!!! Someone subtracts the wrong Planck value and the religion bashing erupts. Ive never seen a website so dedicated to evangelical atheists before in my life.

Science is Settled (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998327)

What's he doing questioning their work? The science is settled! Don't let that guy speak. Ban all his papers from publication. Do not mention his work in the press. He is a denier! Vilify him! Ostracize him!

Re: Peer review (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 5 months ago | (#46998857)

You're thinking of "dogma". Religion isn't necessarily dogmatic.

Momentus? Really? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995321)

It would be momentous if the editors actually did anything around here.

Re:Momentus? Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995399)

I was secretly praying that it was some kind of latin scientific noun: 'momentus Big Bang', because the alternative is just shameful.

Re:Momentus? Really? (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 5 months ago | (#46995415)

Hmm. I thought it was a porno. Guess we know where you mind has been.

Re:Momentus? Really? (2)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 5 months ago | (#46995459)

Yeah. Momentus Big Bang was the one after The Pantsless Menace.

Re:Momentus? Really? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995503)

Well the populous around here isn't too picky about spelling.

Re:Momentus? Really? (1)

joelleo (900926) | about 5 months ago | (#46995549)

BAHAHA I see what you did there =)

Re:Momentus? Really? (3, Funny)

RoccamOccam (953524) | about 5 months ago | (#46995951)

I find it interesting that the editor has yet to flat-out deny this is an error.

um (4, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 5 months ago | (#46995407)

He is basing his objections on a screenshot of a PDF file and not the real data. I'm not saying his findings are incorrect, this is a huge discovery and needs to be thoroughly vetted, but come on. 1 guy suggesting a problem isn't news worthy.

Re:um (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 5 months ago | (#46996647)

...but come on. 1 guy suggesting a problem isn't news worthy.

This is Slashdot.

"You must be new here."

Re: um (1)

muridae (966931) | about 5 months ago | (#46996983)

Wasn't there already a hole poked in the BICEP findings, like a day after publication? Something about not accounting for the possibility that their findings were evidence of post expansion gravity polarization, not pre-expansion...or something like that. I recall that the consensus was still "this is super cool observation and probably right, but the Nobel hangs on that tiny detail."

Standard for the field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995453)

These sorts of arguments are standard for CMBR observations. Everything is a foreground in cosmology.

I'm here to shit up your site. (-1)

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Ain't Science Grand (4, Insightful)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 5 months ago | (#46995505)

There are at least a half a dozen experiments either taking data or analyzing data which will either confirm or refute the BICEP2 data, some releasing results in less than a year. Then we'll know the answer.

It's interesting, and sort of icky, how much "science" is being done by blog these days. No hard data to back up the claims, just rumors and hearsay. Yech.

momentous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995597)

momentous

Blogg-er (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995661)

Intriguingly, BICEP has yet to flat-out deny what a (semi-)anonymous blogger posted on a blog somewhere on the internets.

Re:Blogg-er (1)

hubie (108345) | about 5 months ago | (#46998873)

I don't know why this is intriguing. The way good science is done is you take your criticisms and you refute them when you have an answer. Bad science, such as how cold fusion unfolded, jumps immediately into lawyer mode and other such nonsense. You immediately refute criticisms if you can (i.e., you know the answer off the top of your head), otherwise you go back and look into it (given the size of the BICEP team, I am guessing the PI was not the one who actually crunched the numbers, so he would have to go back to the person/people who did crunch the numbers and check with them). Also, "flat-out deny" is a pretty overblown set of words to use. If they used the wrong background in their subtraction, then they do the reanalysis and give the new results. If they didn't, they show that they didn't.

I am not surprised (1)

sittingQuietly (935534) | about 5 months ago | (#46995685)

Even if they validate it in the end, I am skeptical.

Significance of lack of reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995687)

I think we all know what it means that these guys have not stepped up to refute these rumors: They have actual jobs and better things to do than dick around on blogs all day.

Oops! (1)

edibobb (113989) | about 5 months ago | (#46995713)

That's got to be really embarrassing, especially for all the people who didn't catch the error.

Headlines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46995897)

Are not self-correcting.

Torus shaped universe (2)

Tekoneiric (590239) | about 5 months ago | (#46995947)

I really think it will turn out that the big bang/big crunch is a constant process where the universe is shaped like a stretched torus or bar magnet and matter flows out the hole on one side across the surface and back into the hole on the other side constantly. The hole would likely be so small that it crunches matter down to energy as it flows thru to the other side. Since the universe appears to be expanding quicker we would likely be on the outflow side.

Re:Torus shaped universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996365)

So, we really are in a Pac-Man universe!

Re: Torus shaped universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996437)

The old lady did say it was tortus all the way down.

Re:Torus shaped universe (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46997187)

I really think it will turn out that the big bang/big crunch is a constant process where the universe is shaped like a stretched torus...

Based on any science in particular, or just a love of doughnuts?

Re:Torus shaped universe (1)

gtall (79522) | about 5 months ago | (#46997351)

Nah, it is really like corkscrew pasta. Particles slide around the corkscrew until they get dizzy and then fall off. What we see are the ones who couldn't stay on.

Re:Torus shaped universe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46997983)

Nice image, but in a pure sense a torus doesn't actually possess a hole (much less the two holes you seem to imply!) That may seem counterintuitive because when someone says "torus" we usually conjur up in our minds the picture of a donut-shaped object floating in space - and the donut obviously has a hole in it, right?

Well, the torus is actually the 2D surface, characterised by its topological properties, which don't mention a "hole" at all. The "donut" picture actually shows a torus embedded in 3D-space, and the "hole" arises as a property of the embedding, not of the torus itself. It's possible (and actually more mathematically convenient) to define the (2D) torus without referencing any higher dimensional space.

Think of an old-fashioned video game with a 2D game world in which you move an avatar up, down, left or right against a static background. If the avatar moves off the top of the screen, it re-appears at the bottom. If it moves off the left, then it reappears on the right and so-on. This game world is a torus (exercise: check it!) - and yet it's a purely 2D surface with no requirement to think of it being embedded in 3D or higher-dimensional space - and of course, this torus has no hole!

Re:Torus shaped universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998079)

You do have a problem with the corners of the screen in that picture.

Practically speaking obviously it's no problem at all, just map opposite corners to one-another, but if we're being a bit more rigorous they're four-to-one mappings and each corner maps to each other corner. This is even more entertaining with the 3D that the universe would be - a possibility taken seriously enough that searches have been made for signatures of toroidal topology on the CMB. There's nothing at all precluding a toroidal universe. GR is a local theory, and topology is a global feature. Tweak it enough and the universe could have a million holes and some ridiculous throats in it. Hell, an entire branch of theory attempts to take aspects of string theories and put them onto Calabi-Yau manifolds in an attempt to recover reasonable phenomenologies.

Forget the apparatus, use this PDF graphic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996631)

To quote the Science story:
"Part of the problem is that the Planck team has not made the raw foreground data available, he says. Instead, BICEP researchers had to do the best they could with a PDF file of that map that the Planck team presented at a conference. Moreover, Pryke says, conversations with members of the Planck team leave it uncertain exactly what is in the key plot. "It is unclear what that plot shows," he says."

Take your experimental data (which cost millions - and years of effort by many people) and combine it with a grainy graphic, then announce breakthrough results of significant importance. Why not? It still raises your chance of a Nobel prize from 0.0 to 0.5.

Prediction: it's raining where you're at right now.

Deny? DENY??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46996645)

the BICEP team has yet to flat-out deny this

Deny??? Wouldn't "rebut" be a better choice of words here?

If it helps (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46997073)

New Scientist, not a publication known choosing for sobriety over sensationalism but still at least a professional organisation who attempt to get quotes, have reported on this story.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25558-rumours-swirl-over-credibility-of-big-bang-ripple-find.html

This article contains this couple of paragraphs:

" "The rumour is that the BICEP team has now admitted to the mistake," wrote Falkowski.

Kovac says no one has admitted anything. "We tried to do a careful job in the paper of addressing what public information there was, and also being upfront about the uncertainties. We are quite comfortable with the approach we have taken." "

What this means is that BICEP2 are happy that the approach they took should eliminate the foregrounds correctly. The challenge is that they misapplied a preliminary Planck foreground map, which presented foregrounds across a range of frequencies, as applying only to a single frequency. If they actually did this then the BICEP2 analysis will certainly have to be redone, but there's no way Kovac is going to comment on that while work is going on behind -- it would be breach of contract if nothing else. If BICEP2 have done it and it comes out either in their own further release (most likely dropping the detection of gravitational waves down to a constraint of r~0.15 or so, which would still be good results) or ultimately in Planck's own polarisation release, then they'll explain what's gone wrong, or have it explained for them. Of course, it will be less embarrassing if they release their own partial retraction and explain their own mistake, rather than having others do it for them.

Ultimately, what we can say is that the BICEP2 dataset is valuable and, at present, nigh-on unique. It won't stay so for very long given the number of experiments that also target CMB polarisation which are upcoming, but we will never sneer at a further dataset -- and whether or not they've made a mistake in their analysis it's not as though the team were composed of chumps; this is a high-quality team, who have produced high quality data, which can be combined with other datasets to ultimately yield far tighter bounds on a variety of cosmological parameters. Any kind of witch-hunt should be ignored as the media-driven infantilisation it will doubtless be.

(Also while I agree with a couple of other posters that science by blog is pretty nauseating, it's ultimately no different from its previous incarnation, science by conference coffee break - just more pervasive. I still really don't like it but it's a fairly natural progression.)

Re:If it helps (1)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 5 months ago | (#46998285)

(Also while I agree with a couple of other posters that science by blog is pretty nauseating, it's ultimately no different from its previous incarnation, science by conference coffee break - just more pervasive. I still really don't like it but it's a fairly natural progression.)

There's a big difference between rumors spreading among specialists in a field at conference coffee breaks and somebody putting them on a public blog, where it's picked up by the press. If Falkowski had something substantive to say about the subject himself (and that's doubtful, since he's a particle physicist and not an expert on CMB foreground removal), he should have written a paper, put it on arXiv, and submitted it for peer review. Running to the press with unsubstantiated rumors is seriously unethical.

Re:If it helps (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46998771)

Related and reasonably measured from Nature.com this time:

http://www.nature.com/news/cosmology-first-light-1.15213

The summary doesn't match TFA. (2)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | about 5 months ago | (#46999075)

Specifically, the original poster writes: " Intriguingly, the BICEP team has yet to flat-out deny this."

However, the very first link quotes one of the PIs for BICEP by saying: "As for Falkowski's suggestion in his blog that the BICEP has admitted to making a mistake, Pryke says that "is totally false." The BICEP team will not be revising or retracting its work, which it posted to the arXiv preprint server, Pryke says: "We stand by our paper.""

The /. editors didn't actually look at the submission before approving it. Yeah, yeah, I know.

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