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Big Bang Breakthrough Team Back-Pedals On Major Result

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the no-bang dept.

Space 127

An anonymous reader writes A few months ago researchers announced they had discovered proof of the big bang. Now they're not so sure. Further research suggests cosmic dust might have skewed the results. "Back in March, the BICEP2 team reported a twisted pattern in the sky, which they attributed to primordial gravitational waves, wrinkles in the fabric of the universe that could have been produced when the baby universe went through an enormous growth spurt. If correct, this would confirm the theory of inflation, which says that the universe expanded exponentially in the first slivers of a second after the big bang – many believe that it continues to expand into an ever-growing multiverse. Doubts about the announcement soon emerged. The BICEP2 team identified the waves based on how they twisted, or polarised, the photons in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the earliest light emitted in the universe around 380,000 years after the big bang. Other objects, such as the ashes of exploding stars or dust within our galaxy, can polarise light as well."

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Were you there? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292735)

'Cause Christian scientists say if you weren't there, it didn't exist!

Re:Were you there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292811)

Christian scientists like Georges Lemaître?

Re:Were you there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292891)

"That's not a Christian scientist, that's a Whore of Rome's scientist!" -- a random Protestant

Re:Were you there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293403)

The Bible says in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

Were you there?

Re:Were you there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293871)

I was always under the impression that there were many beginnings.. for a great many things.

Re:Were you there? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293681)

no, but my father was and he was forever complaining about "the old days" and how he always had to climb the gravity well, in both directions.

Re:Were you there? (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 3 months ago | (#47294283)

no, but my father was and he was forever complaining about "the old days" and how he always had to climb the gravity well, in both directions.

In the snow. Never forget the snow.

Re:Were you there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294785)

It would be soo difficult to work out if the CXhristian god didnt keep hiding behind a curtain and leaving fake fossils lying around when his folllowers claim the world is 6,000 years old

Inflation was BEFORE the big bang (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292739)

Everyone repeat after me:

Science writers aren't scientifically literate. Inflation was BEFORE the big bang.

Re:Inflation was BEFORE the big bang (3, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about 3 months ago | (#47292763)

No, it wasn't.

Never trust the bangking system (1)

Mathinker (909784) | about 3 months ago | (#47294127)

Well, we can't be completely sure. Possibly, before the Big Bang, the Central Bang Bank messed up the Bang interest rate stabilization calculations, and our universe ended up getting a lot less Bang for our buck...

Re:Inflation was BEFORE the big bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294989)

Apparently whether inflation is included in or comes before the Big Bang is a matter of terminology that differs even among scientists.

Reference: the end of this article: http://profmattstrassler.com/articles-and-posts/relativity-space-astronomy-and-cosmology/history-of-the-universe/inflation/

Re: Inflation was BEFORE the big bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292787)

Everyone repeat after me:

Anon cowards aren't scientifically literate.

Re:Inflation was BEFORE the big bang (2)

mmell (832646) | about 3 months ago | (#47293109)

Nothing ever happens the way I expect it to.

The bartender says "Why the long face?"

A tachyon flies into a bar . . .

Re:Inflation was BEFORE the big bang (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 3 months ago | (#47294285)

Everyone repeat after me:

Science writers aren't scientifically literate. Inflation was BEFORE the big bang.

Everyone repeat after me. Anonymous Cowards aren't scientifically literally. It was AFTER the Big Bang. Try again.

Not the Big Bang (4, Informative)

TrekkieGod (627867) | about 3 months ago | (#47292743)

There's a ton of evidence for the Big Bang, the existence of the CMB at all being one of them. That result was meant to be evidence for Inflation [wikipedia.org] , which is used to explain why the universe appears evenly distributed everywhere you look, among other things.

Re:Not the Big Bang (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292765)

There is tones of evidence against the Big Bang also.

It is one of MANY theories, they group it under the STANDARD THEORY, because that is politically they want to push as fact, when in fact, it is not fact, and they do not teach other theories that are equally as valid. THAT is the problem with academia.

This science does sound quasi-religious. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292791)

This sort of science has always seemed really quasi-religious to me. The events themselves were not directly observed, and nobody really knows when, or if, they actually happened. There's far more speculation and outright guessing than we see in many other branches of science. Things like "cosmic background radiation" are always very sketchy concepts. While there may be some truth to these theories, they always give me the same uncomfortable feeling that religion gives me. There are the high priests, the ideas that cannot be questioned, and the claims that have limited or no evidence to back them up yet are upheld as truths. It isn't directly observative science, like elementary physics is.

Re:This science does sound quasi-religious. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292845)

CMBR isn't a sketchy concept, it's there to be observed - as it has been for several years now. The question is whether it's uniform or undulated, which is hard to determine as we're swimming through it. It's like trying to determine the shape of a cloud when you're sitting inside it.

Re:This science does sound quasi-religious. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47292905)

I'm sure you meant "for several decades"?

Re:This science does sound quasi-religious. (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47293139)

I'm sure you meant "for several billion years."

Re:This science does sound quasi-religious. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47293381)

I was talking about the horny sixties [wikimedia.org] . :-) But I get what you meant.

Re:This science does sound quasi-religious. (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#47294579)

CMBR could also be caused by something else entirely that nobody has thought of yet. It could just be that old photons finally decompose after 14 billion years, and that old photons turn red. Since we only measure photons at very short distances here on Earth, we have no idea if red shift in photons emitted billions of years ago is due to the same causes as photons that we artificially redshift for fractions of a second. Just as there are different physical forces that can move a steel ball. If you don't know about magnatism, and you observe a magnetic force, you can either say, "gee, I don't understand that" or you can also just say, "hey, looks like the laws of physics are different here than everywhere else, it must be some sort of gravity vortex!"

Every time I hear "Big Bang" I think of one of those "Vortex" gift shops.

Uh-huh... (3, Insightful)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47293175)

(1) CMB is based on data that can't be explained any other *reasonable* way and fills a gap in an otherwise too-sensible-and-supported-to-be-discarded model, (2) there are not "ideas that cannot be questioned" - in science, any existing model or theory has its chin out like a brash boxer, daring the rest of the data to "go ahead, take your best shot!" and if it does, we have a winner and new champeeen! Much of the problems with public perception of science have to do with the fact that people "know" how gravity and light behave, or the growth of a tree or the flight of a bird from their earliest days observing the world. They have little or no idea of the complexity that is behind any one of those things once you start to analyze them. That discovery is the stuff that most school science should (and now more than ever does) create in students. The sticky part then comes when science tackles something that most people will never observe - black holes, quasars, DNA, The Big Bang, TCP/IP, natural selection in vivo, etc. They then have little else to fall back on than practical experience: "It's not a big truck. It's a series of tubes...", "If God had wanted us to fly...", "It's turtles all the way down!" People will sooner cling to a familiar falsehood than an unfamiliar truth. I don't blame them, but I do want to make sure the truth is available.

Re:Uh-huh... (0)

marcello_dl (667940) | about 3 months ago | (#47293583)

> CMB is based on data that can't be explained any other *reasonable* way
There are no parameters for defining reasonable or unreasonable things in a universe, if you happen to exist in the same universe, because you have no way to discover all the rules from the inside of it. I posit you have no way to discover any of the rules from the inside of it.

Science does not explain, science models.
Because for every chain of reasons that science can come up with, "the last element is "because it is that way".

Right... (3, Insightful)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47293723)

All systems of thought only hold up in reference to their own systems - looking outside their relative window shows them to have flaws. Hume showed us that science as empiricism is only a good tool because the underlying empiricism supports its continued use - so it's technically a circular argument. Practically, it's the best way to stop getting hit by buses and for getting to the moon. So you have a way to discover best-for-now rules. Scientists understand they are building models the same way clothing designers understand they are building dreams. People needing to use science need to know that the gas grill will do amazing things and can also kill you. The nuances of modeling vs. explaining (or dreaming vs. wearing pants) are secondary at that point. And it's not so much "because it is that way" as it is "that's the current reach of our understanding". That first one makes it sound like we are throwing up our hands. The second makes is sound like we are resting for now, prepared to pick up the load again as needed.

Re:Uh-huh... (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#47294593)

(1) CMB is based on data that can't be explained any other *reasonable* way

Sounds very flat-Earther to me. "I dunno, so it must be the best of my ideas." No. If you don't know, it is probably NOT your best idea. ;)

Re:Uh-huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294891)

Sounds very flat-Earther to me. "I dunno, so it must be the best of my ideas." No. If you don't know, it is probably NOT your best idea. ;)

Welcome to all of science. This isn't specific to Big Bang theory, but any part of science is the best explanation that matches the data we can come up with. You can always come up with other explanations that might lack predictive power or contradict with other observations, or make require a large number of observations to be misinterpreted.

Re:This science does sound quasi-religious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293179)

It only sounds religious to you because you haven't studied it. Physicists aren't just making things up (as in Religion). The evidences is what leads them to certain conclusions.

Re:This science does sound quasi-religious. (0)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#47294599)

The good news, "Big Bang" is a cosmology thing not a physics thing. And unlike physicists, who are usually right, cosmologists are usually wrong.

Re:This science does sound quasi-religious. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294667)

Fucking hell, all those years I spent studying theoretical physics and then applying a mixture of general relativity and quantum theory to cosmology, and all that time I was kidding myself and it's "not a physics thing". Where were you 16 years ago, Aighearach? You could have saved me a hell of a lot of study.

"It isn't directly observative science... (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47293273)

"like elementary physics is." So you're willing to duck that snowball headed for your noggin, but the gamma radiation - not so much?

Re:Not the Big Bang (5, Insightful)

careysub (976506) | about 3 months ago | (#47293057)

There is tones of evidence against the Big Bang also.

It is one of MANY theories, they group it under the STANDARD THEORY, because that is politically they want to push as fact, when in fact, it is not fact, and they do not teach other theories that are equally as valid. THAT is the problem with academia.

The "tones" - frequencies and modulations in the cosmic medium - support the Big Bang model quite strongly.

The signal-to-noise ratio demonstrating the reality of the Big Bang in scientific data collected over decades is enormously higher than that of the posts appearing here today where numerous ACs spout contentless skepticism and derision, and to the extent they reference facts at all, they get them hilariously wrong.

Any AC who claims lots of evidence against a well-established scientific model, but it unable to cite a single scrap of same it simply polluting Slashdot and wasting everyone's time (including his/her own).

Re: Not the Big Bang (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 3 months ago | (#47293085)

Oh darn, if only you had.more room to provide use with those equally valid "theories"

Just tune into Art Bell (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47293307)

... that pretty much covers it. Hey, its balanced journalism, right? I mean c'mon he had Seth Shostak, Michio Kaku as well as John McAfee and Whitley Streiber.

Re: Not the Big Bang (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about 3 months ago | (#47293679)

He would have, but the margins on his screen were too small to jot them down.

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293159)

Please provide some legitimate evidence against the Big Bang. I hate it when people just throw these types of comments out without backing them up.
The Standard Theory of particle physics is one of the best confirmed theories in science.
Calling it political tells me you must have certain beliefs which are in conflict with it. But that doesn't make the Big Bang theory political... only you.

The only other theory that is equally as valid as the Big Bang is Evolution.

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 3 months ago | (#47293659)

There's the standard model of particle physics.

and then there's the standard model of cosmology. They are rather different-- and while one may inform the other, they the validity of one does not say much about the validity of the other.

Re:Not the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294877)

They are not completely unrelated-- the standard model of the atom led to a theory of stellar nucleosynthesis, which in turn helped us figure out how stars form.

By plotting the stars' spectrum, you can find out the chemical makeup of them because quantum theory tells you where the lines should appear on the spectrum.

From there, you can figure out how much hydrogen, helium, and other elements should be in the universe if the Big Bang happened, and how the spectra should shift if the stars are moving apart at a certain speed.

Lo and behold, the numbers agree with what we see through observation.

Re:Not the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293635)

What is the "STANDARD THEORY"? Do you mean the Standard Model which is specifically a set of field interactions that explain interactions between fundamental particles via a quantum field theory frame work? That theory doesn't have the big bang as part of it, but is just a specific list of models that describe particles. You can use some of those models to make predictions in conjunction with the big bang theory, and there are a few small things you can use the age of the observable universe to constrain (e.g. predictions related to proton decay, although modern experiments give lower error bars anyway), but none of that is needed or part of the Standard Model itself and it stands on its own (except for the known issues like neutrino oscillations).

Re:Not the Big Bang (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292819)

Big Bang; Bunch of Big Bull Shit!

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 3 months ago | (#47292901)

Cosmic inflation has always puzzled me - so the distance between particles of matter is slowly widening, without the particles themselves actually moving, why can't we observe this at the molecular level? Or do we? Even if its only a miniscule expansion at the smallest scales it must surely show some sign, and wouldn't it have some effect on say chemical interactions?

Wait a few trillion years . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | about 3 months ago | (#47293117)

Scientists call it the big rip. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293123)

The space between particles is not expanding... SPACE is expanding. If the space between particles were expending, then the molecular forces would be changing over time (which they aren't).
Gravity, and the molecular forces are still at work, also. So even if space is expanding, gravity keeps close things together still, and there is NO change in the distance between particles due to the expanding universe.

Objects that are close enough to stay gravitationally bound will continue to stay close to each other.

Also, Inflation is not happening anymore. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_(cosmology)

"...inflation is the exponential expansion of space in the early universe. The inflationary epoch lasted from 10^36 seconds after the Big Bang to sometime between 10^33 and 10^32 seconds. Following the inflationary period, the universe continues to expand, but at a less accelerated rate."

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293201)

small correction. We really don't have a good handle on why it appears that the molecular forces aren't changing over time. We're fairly confident that it's been extremely close to unchanged for at least 12 billion years, as what we see in the Hubble Deep Field appears very similar to closer parts of the galaxy. We can stretch that back with a little less confidence to 15 billion years with globular clusters, but beyond that, we don't have much empirical evidence. If the basic atomic forces are changing over time, it's so slow as to not affect any observable processes over the observable universe, but we can't with any confidence demonstrate that they are in fact, truly constant.

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

fnj (64210) | about 3 months ago | (#47293349)

"...inflation is the exponential expansion of space in the early universe. The inflationary epoch lasted from 10^36 seconds after the Big Bang to sometime between 10^33 and 10^32 seconds. Following the inflationary period, the universe continues to expand, but at a less accelerated rate."

One itsy bitsy correction if you don't mind. That's not 10^36, 10^33, and 10^32 seconds. It's 10^-36, 10^-33, and 10^-32 seconds. It makes the difference between the big bang lasting far longer than the present estimated age of the universe, and the fraction of a billionth of a trillionth of a picoseond which it actually lasted.

Inflation was raging, crazy quick. It makes a nuclear explosion seem glacially slow.

Re:Not the Big Bang (5, Informative)

careysub (976506) | about 3 months ago | (#47293153)

Cosmic inflation has always puzzled me - so the distance between particles of matter is slowly widening, without the particles themselves actually moving, why can't we observe this at the molecular level? Or do we? Even if its only a miniscule expansion at the smallest scales it must surely show some sign, and wouldn't it have some effect on say chemical interactions?

There are three different expansive phenomenon in modern cosmology - the initial inflation of the original symmetry breaking event, the subsequent vastly longer and slower expansion (measured by the Hubble Constant) that followed where the Universe coasted under influence of gravity alone, and then the recently discovered (and cosmically more recent) cosmic acceleration.that is now offsetting gravity.

The first event lasting a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second did indeed push all the particles then existing apart very fast, while creating lots of new particles.

The second phase of coasting, and the modern phase when cosmic acceleration kicked in, is currently pushing things apart on a cosmic scale, but not gravitationally bound structures, much less the far more strongly bound electromagnetically bound ones (atoms and molecules, and molecular agglomerations) or nuclear force bound structures.

Eventually, under current models, cosmic acceleration will strengthen to the point where it will start ripping apart these galaxy clusters. then galaxies, then star systems, then stars and bulk matter, then molecules and atoms, then nuclei,and finally composite subatomic particles themselves.

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

AdamHaun (43173) | about 3 months ago | (#47293215)

The Usenet Physics FAQ has a page covering this, although it doesn't answer your question directly:

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/... [ucr.edu]

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47293233)

As I understand it, chemical reactions, electron orbital sizes, etc, will all be the same even after space has expanded many times. While space is still expanding slowly, it's not having much effect on anything - the other forces (not that expansion is really a force, though it has similar effects) acting between molecules in close proximity will be overwhelming.

Again AIUI, an electron could continue happily in its orbit while space expands 10, 100 or 1000 times - as long as the expansion remains relatively slow. It's not the simple fact that space is expanding that might cause a big rip, but the fact that the expansion is accelerating, and will - one day - be so fast that it will outpace light, at which point no forces will be able to act over even a Planck distance (because by the time they've propogated, that Planck distance will have expanded too much).

Re:Not the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293515)

It's not the simple fact that space is expanding that might cause a big rip, but the fact that the expansion is accelerating, and will - one day - be so fast that it will outpace light, at which point no forces will be able to act over even a Planck distance (because by the time they've propogated, that Planck distance will have expanded too much).

Excellent simple and clear explanation, thank you.

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 3 months ago | (#47293737)

It's not the simple fact that space is expanding that might cause a big rip, but the fact that the expansion is accelerating, and will - one day - be so fast that it will outpace light, at which point no forces will be able to act over even a Planck distance (because by the time they've propogated, that Planck distance will have expanded too much).

And what happens when that happens? I'm going to guess the result is universal and cataclysmic. We could even give it a name. Let's call it The Big Bang.

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47294357)

It already has a name [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Not the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293653)

Imagine having two conveyor belts going in opposite directions. If you put an object on each, they will move away from each other. If you roll a ball on each at the right speed to match the belt speed, you end up with the distance between them not changing at all, unless the belt speeds change. If you put a decent strength magnet on each belt, they will stick together and not drift apart at all even if the belts change speed. In some sense the expansion of the universe can be thought of as a matter of inertia, and you can counteract it with inertia in a different direction or with forces strong enough to stick together (which turns out to be very, very weak, it doesn't take much force to over come it, so the electromagnetic force and stuff holding molecules together easily overcomes it).

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 months ago | (#47293321)

Can someone explain to me in plain English how the laws of physics are supposed to have worked some of the time but not all the time? because I'm having trouble wrapping my head around how the speed of light is supposed to be the ultimate speed limit yet for their big bang theory to work you have the time immediately following the bang having this FTL expansion?

Re:Not the Big Bang (3, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about 3 months ago | (#47293459)

The speed of light is the ultimate speed limit relative to the underlying spacetime. If spacetime itself expands or contracts, that speed limit may not apply. That is, in fact, also the basis of the Alcubierre warp drive [wikipedia.org] .

Re: Not the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293867)

Ah, that incredible warp drive that will never exist? Tell me, when it will be finally demonstrated beyond all doubt that interstellar travel is impossible, what will you do? Will you accept it? Or will you retreat into pseudoscience?

Re: Not the Big Bang (1)

mbone (558574) | about 3 months ago | (#47294603)

Oh, I don't think that the Alcubierre warp drive is actually physically possible, and I sure don't think Harold White's experiments are going to show otherwise (although I would be delighted to be wrong). But I think Alcubierre's solution is a valid solution of General Relativity, and it shows that strong-field fluctuations in space-time can, at least in principle, go faster than light.

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

strikethree (811449) | about 3 months ago | (#47295145)

How does spacetime know how fast something is going through it? If there is nothing else other than spacetime and a single photon, what regulates the photon's speed? What is the speed relative to?

Re:Not the Big Bang (2)

Opyros (1153335) | about 3 months ago | (#47293509)

The law of physics in question states that no information can be propagated faster than light. This does not conflict with space itself expanding superluminally. I'd suggest this Usenet FAQ, Is Faster-Than-Light Travel or Communication Possible? [ucr.edu] for a more detailed answer.

Re:Not the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293889)

Can someone explain to me in plain English how the laws of physics are supposed to have worked some of the time but not all the time? because I'm having trouble wrapping my head around how the speed of light is supposed to be the ultimate speed limit yet for their big bang theory to work you have the time immediately following the bang having this FTL expansion?

This is pretty good for plain English... you may need to look up some of the terms.

http://aether.lbl.gov/www/science/inflation-beginners.html [lbl.gov]

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

mbone (558574) | about 3 months ago | (#47293343)

There is a lot of evidence for the universe being in an early, condensed, hot state - as you say, the CMB is a one of them, as is the success of Big-Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN). If that is what is meant by the "Big Bang," then it is indeed well established. If, however, what is meant is there was some sort of singularity from which everything exploded than that, like the smile of the Cheshire Cat, seems to be receding into the distance or fading away.

This can be most clearly expressed by asking, how old is the universe? You will hear things like, the CMB represents conditions 300,000 years after the big bang, BBN occurred in the first 3 minutes, etc., but what is really meant is, the Hubble time at such-and-such an event was 300,000 years, 3 minutes, etc. In the theory of eternal inflation [wikipedia.org] (basically, the idea that inflation is the natural state of the larger universe, and our piece of that universe was just an area that happened to convert to a "true" vacuum state), inflation may have been going on a long time, or even an infinite time, so the Hubble time is just the time since the end of inflation; the actual age of anything (i.e., the time since the "Big Bang") is in such theories completely undetermined.

Re:Not the Big Bang (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 months ago | (#47294551)

All of the data that could support "Big Bang" is edge data, and therefore known to be inaccurate. For every sensor, the resolution drops off at the edge. If Big Bang is true, it would be like God theories that can't be proven, because you can only hope to get edge data.

That it is taught as a "fact" instead of as an unprovable hypothesis shows the difference between actual physics, and cosmology.

Actual physics is making predictions at the small scale that is not edge data, and where the predictions match observation to obsurd numbers of decimal places as soon as a new sensor comes out.

Cosmologists were wrong about everything, even Earth's radiation belts, and the solar heliopause. Predictions in the center of the range of our sensors are consistently wrong, and that is just nearby. And yet these same idiots bloviate about something 14 billions years away and at the edge of their sensors.

Re:Not the Big Bang (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294875)

All of the data that could support "Big Bang" is edge data, and therefore known to be inaccurate.

Like the oscillations and structures in the CMB that match out to several peaks? That isn't edge data. There are of course ways any science theory could have missed something, but it isn't edge data any more than a vast majority of science.

Cosmologists were wrong about everything, even Earth's radiation belts, and the solar heliopause

For someone trying to distance cosmology from physics, you are picking topics that are mostly studied by physicists. Cosmologists work on scales much larger than the solar system, with work within the solar system being mostly down to geologists, physicists and astronomers. If you want information on radiation belts or heliopause, you don't go to a cosmology conference, you go to a plasma physics conference.

So I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292747)

So I guess the big bang is just a theory, like evolution?

Maybe the TV show got it right after all!

Re:So I guess (1)

mbone (558574) | about 3 months ago | (#47292879)

They are all just theories. It's just that some are rather better confirmed than others.

Re:So I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293217)

I think you misunderstand what the word "Theory" means in science.
Theory is not just a fancy word for guess or idea. It is a model to explain an observed fact.
Saying "Just a Theory" demonstrates your ignorance of what it means to be a theory in science.

The Big Bang and Evolution are two of the best supported theories in any fields of science.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory#Differences_between_theory_and_model

Re:So I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293359)

Parent hits it on the head. Grandparent has an IDEA that his brain is functioning, but it's far from even being a theory.

Re:So I guess (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about 3 months ago | (#47293753)

Saying just a theory is sort of like saying "that legal opinion is just a judge's". In some cases, it's like saying "just the supreme court's opinion.". Sure, it might still be wrong, so let's get an auto mechanic's opinion on what the law is - let's stop having juries and just ask a random plumber to decide who's guilty of what - maybe we could flip a Bible and if it lands face up the accused is innocent... .

Re:So I guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293907)

Saying just a theory is sort of like saying "that legal opinion is just a judge's". In some cases, it's like saying "just the supreme court's opinion.". Sure, it might still be wrong, so let's get an auto mechanic's opinion on what the law is - let's stop having juries and just ask a random plumber to decide who's guilty of what - maybe we could flip a Bible and if it lands face up the accused is innocent... .

Couldn't be any worse than the recent rulings in the Apple patent law suits.....

Has anyone consulted da Pope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292793)

He da man with the connechions. Get wit da Pope, man!

Backpeddle? (4, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 3 months ago | (#47292817)

I am not sure "back pedal" is really the right word here. They did some research, published a result, other researchers pointed out potential problems with the conclusions, the original team listened to the criticisms and took them seriously.

Re:Backpeddle? (4, Insightful)

Tanktalus (794810) | about 3 months ago | (#47292847)

This.

Real science is always open to upending. If they weren't willing to listen to critics, they'd be called a religion.

Excersise for the reader: are there any other scientists not willing to listen to their critics?

Re: Backpeddle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293267)

The anti global warming ones on corporate budgets

Re: Backpeddle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293527)

Go suck a cock. Or better yet, get into your Smart car so I can flip it over while you are in it.

Re:Backpeddle? (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 3 months ago | (#47294279)

Scientists are human and can have the same flaws as any human. There are lots of scientists who have held onto their beliefs in the face of new evidence which is why it has been stated that for new scientific paradigms to be generally accepted needs a new generation of scientists to replace the old established ones. There is the ideal of a scientist, then there is the reality of humans playing scientist.
Famously there is Einstein refusing to accept quantum, Fred Hoyle refusing to accept the big bang and insisting on continuous creation and many more.
Usually it is plain old emotional involvement, Sir Oliver J. Lodge made many good observations on the make up of atoms, particularly electrons but after losing his son in the war became a firm believer in spiritualism and psychic research despite the total lack of evidence. Humans strive for security and form beliefs based on wishful thinking that makes them more secure, look at almost any religion.

Re:Backpeddle? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292857)

indeed, that's what science is - adjusting theories to fit observations. As opposed to religion - adjusting the data to conform to dogma.

Re:Backpeddle? (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47292961)

I am not sure "back pedal" is really the right word here. They did some research, published a result, other researchers pointed out potential problems with the conclusions, the original team listened to the criticisms and took them seriously.

Right... its even less serious that you make it out to be.

A dumbed down explanation of how it went:
Researchers: "We finally have conclusive evidence of Inflation!"
Critics: "That's pretty cool but did you consider X?"
Researchers: "Yes, but we're not ready to publish all the data yet. If we do, someone might beat us to some other stuff we're working on"
*data finally published*
Critics: "Ah, you did account for X. You're probably correct, but X could possibly be bigger than you accounted for in some rare cases."
Researchers: "Ah, we see your point now. Ok, this isn't conclusive evidence... but it's pretty darn close. There's another group that's very close to completing a study that will confirm our observation so we'll just wait for them as it will come sooner than anything we can do."

Re:Backpeddle? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 months ago | (#47293199)

Researchers: "We finally have conclusive evidence of Inflation!"
[runs off to make a viral video]
Critics: "That's pretty cool but did you consider X?"

tftfy

Re:Backpeddle? (1)

Tacos4Sanchez (936798) | about 3 months ago | (#47293207)

The way you script things there isn't exactly science either.

Science isn't supposed to have an agenda and then set out to prove the agenda, nor is it supposed to sit around and wait for others to sit around and prove it either. The scientific method calls for the formation of a hypothesis and then doing a series of tests that will attempt to disprove that hypothesis. True science requires standing up to the scrutiny of scientists attempting to disprove their own thoughts and ideas not holding back facts or data to prevent others from beating you to your discovery.

What you described seems more like a group of "scientists" who set out to prove themselves correct and have been too busy patting themselves on the back and arrogantly thinking they had all the answers to be bothered with attempting to properly test their own hypotheses... worse yet, your group seems to be lazy and accept failure when real scrutiny came and decided to pass the buck (testing) to the next guys... possibly the same guys they didn't want to collaborate with before.

I'm not saying that this isn't science, but I am saying that what you described isn't science.

Re:Backpeddle? (1)

fnj (64210) | about 3 months ago | (#47293413)

The scientific method calls for the formation of a hypothesis and then doing a series of tests that will attempt to disprove that hypothesis.

I would modify that slightly. For "disprove", substitute "support or oppose". The solar eclipse observational experiments of Campbell, Eddington and others were undertaken in a thirst for knowledge to FIND OUT if one phenomenon predicted by general relativity was actually evident; not really to try to prove or disprove general relativity. If the measurements of positions of stars near the disk of the sun indicated departures that the theory predicted, the theory was supported. If the measurements did not so confirm, the theory would become doubted. The former turned out to be the case.

Re:Backpeddle? (1)

mbone (558574) | about 3 months ago | (#47293417)

Actually, they did some research, had a press conference, other researchers pointed out potential problems with the conclusions, and they put some weasel words in the actual published paper. It doesn't matter; the way they went about this, and the weakness of their dust calibration, means that no one will really believe the cosmological interpretation of their results* until more data comes along. That may not take long, according to Nature News [nature.com] :

In addition, presentations given earlier this week at a cosmology conference in Moscow [iki.rssi.ru] , based on observations from the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite add fresh evidence that what BICEP2 [observed] could be entirely due to a confounding effect of dust.

* That doesn't mean that lots of theorists won't publish papers showing, or purporting to show, or speculating, that this or that implication follows assuming the BICEP2 results are right. That's OK, that's what theorists do. It's mostly harmless, and occasionally leads to something useful even if the original results were wrong.

25 pages?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292825)

Whatever happened to the 4-page limit at PRL?

New scientist story leaves out a lot (1)

Pausanias (681077) | about 3 months ago | (#47292827)

These BICEP2 guys didn't back-pedal of their own accord, friends---how about citing the much more senior and respected people, such as WMAP guru Spergel [arxiv.org] , who already DID the joint Planck analysis and showed them how hasty they had been? This is pretty poor reporting on NS's part.

BICEP2 were a bunch of young upstarts riding into town with guns a-blazing. The sheriff came down and told them to calm down, boys, calm down.

Re:New scientist story leaves out a lot (1)

beheaderaswp (549877) | about 3 months ago | (#47293191)

They were for the bang before they were against it.

Re:New scientist story leaves out a lot (1)

Sara Chan (138144) | about 3 months ago | (#47293219)

BICEP2 were a bunch of young upstarts

You got that right. And the tender egos of the Planck team got hurt by the "young upstarts" outdoing them. Awww, how sad.

Fact is, the BICEP2 team got the result and published in a leading journal. The team hardly backtracked at all. For more on this, see the blog post by Lubos Motl: "BICEP2 gets published in PRL [blogspot.co.uk] ".

It is pathetic how established scientists try to protect their egos from "young upstarts".

Re:New scientist story leaves out a lot (1)

mbone (558574) | about 3 months ago | (#47293425)

If anyone had any doubt that Lubos Motl has no credibility at all, that post proves it IMHO.

Polarization (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292865)

No, /only/ the Big Bang causes polarization. Or post-supernovae dust. Or mirrors. Or really anything that causes reflection to occur. So, basically anything but a black hole.

Time to rethink this article's thoughts on polarization?

A non-story about a non-story.

I wonder if the world is running out of critical thinkers.

Science by press conference (1)

mbone (558574) | about 3 months ago | (#47292867)

I still find it hard to believe that they would do a major press conference on results that depended (fairly crucially) on a calibration screen-scraped from a presentation from another scientific group. I would love to know the true back-story here - was knowledge of this dependency on screen-scraped data widespread within the BICEP2 group, or was this just some grad student who was being expedient? Didn't anyone try and contact the Planck group and ask for their best dust estimates?

While it is quite possible that such a technical flaw might have made it through the usual paper peer review process without being caught, that isn't the route they chose to take, which just makes it more embarrassing.

Re:Science by press conference (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 3 months ago | (#47293885)

Planck has yet to release their polarization data, so BICEP2 couldn't use it. To be clear, they also didn't use just the Planck data: the paper lists five different models for dust polarization, only one of which (DDM1) was constructed from what little Planck data they had available. All of them showed fairly tiny amounts of polarization from dust compared to their signal, hence the conclusion that it was a cosmological polarization (there were other reasons for that conclusion as well, of course). They published the conclusions they had based on the information they had available. That's how science works. You publish the results you got (with the uncertainties you calculated), the community looks at it to see if you made obvious errors, then tries to replicate or disprove it.

Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292871)

The big bang happened 6,000 years ago.

Re: Wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47292909)

Nah, that was just me making your great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great x 100 grandmother orgasm.

Re:Wrong! (1)

mmell (832646) | about 3 months ago | (#47293133)

No, it started seven years ago [cbs.com] .

Thank heaven for syndication - the 5th force (1)

jpellino (202698) | about 3 months ago | (#47293283)

-nt-

97%'ers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293279)

Yeah consensus!

Quite simple really (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 3 months ago | (#47293323)

The foreground dust in the Milky Way just happens to have a pattern of polarized light filtering capabilities that align with the largest grain structure of all the mass in the visible universe on the order of 5 sigmas from our current position. Coincidences like that happen all the time. It is a quirk of timing. In a few hundred years the Earth's position will have shifted enough that this "Ray-Ban effect" will disappear.

KangAndKodos... (1)

fightermagethief (3645291) | about 3 months ago | (#47293325)

Sorry there was some space dust on the lens...

The advantage to science (2)

nurb432 (527695) | about 3 months ago | (#47293447)

Is that it admits when its wrong. Religion, not so much.

Re:The advantage to science (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47293607)

Science: "The data doesn't fit the theory? Fine, we'll come up with another theory."
Religion: "The data doesn't fit the theory? THE DATA'S WRONG!"

It wasn't cosmic dust (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47294705)

It was the Bible, because the Universe did not come into being through this fictitious "big bang," as these people call it. The Universe was created by the Almighty G-d to serve His purposes, including housing His children.

Humanity is going to be stuck until it embraces and accepts the FACT that we are G-d's children and are created in His image.

Proof of the big bang? (2)

lippydude (3635849) | about 3 months ago | (#47295249)

"A few months ago researchers announced they had discovered proof of the big bang"

They were actually looking for evidence of cosmic inflation, as this would account for how the universe is isotropic, or the same over vast distances, something big bang doesn't account for.
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