A new galaxy distance record by the Hubble Space Telescope

Hubble sees farther back in time than ever before

Above: This image of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field is a small part of the deepest infrared image ever taken of the universe. The small blue box outlines the area where astronomers found what may be the most distant galaxy ever seen, 13.2 billion light-years away, meaning its light was emitted just 480 million years after the Big Bang. It is small and very faint and is shown separately in the larger box. The galaxy is shown as blue because it emitted very blue light due to its high rate of star birth, although by the time the light reached Hubble it had been stretched into the infrared by the expansion of space, giving it a redshift value of about 10. Its official name is UDFj-39546284, but astronomers refer to it as the “redshift 10 galaxy candidate.” Credit: NASA, ESA, Garth Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Rychard Bouwens (University of California, Santa Cruz and Leiden University) and the HUDF09 Team.

Pasadena, CA— Astronomers have pushed NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to it limits by finding what they believe to be the most distant object ever seen in the universe—at a distance of 13.2 billion light years, some 3% of the age of universe. This places the object roughly 150 million light years more distant than the previous record holder. The observations provide the best insights yet into the birth of the first stars and galaxies and the evolution of the universe. The research is published in the 27th January edition of Nature.

The dim object is a compact galaxy made of blue stars that existed only 480 million years after the Big Bang. It is tiny. Over one hundred such mini galaxies would be needed to make up our Milky Way.

Co-author Ivo Labbé of the Carnegie Observatories puts the findings into context: “We are thrilled to have discovered this galaxy, but we’re equally surprised to have found only one. This tells us that the universe was changing very rapidly in early times.”

Previous searches had found 47 galaxies at somewhat later times, when the universe was about 650 million years old. The rate of star birth therefore increased by about ten times in the interval from 480 million years to 650 million years. “This is an astonishing increase in such a short period, happening in just 1% of the age of the universe,” says Labbé.

“These observations provide us with our best insights yet into the earliest primeval objects yet to be found,” adds Rychard Bouwens of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands.

Astronomers don’t know exactly when the first stars appeared in the universe, but every step back in time takes them deeper into the early universe’s “formative years” when stars and galaxies were just beginning to emerge in the aftermath of the Big Bang.

“We’re moving into a regime where there are big changes afoot. And what it tells us is that if we go back another couple hundred million years toward the Big Bang we’ll see absolutely dramatic things happening. That will be the time where the first galaxies really are starting to get built up,” says Garth Illingworth of the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The even more distant proto galaxies will require the infrared vision of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which is the successor to Hubble, and next-generation ground-based telescopes, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope. These new facilities, planned for later this decade, will provide confirming spectroscopic measurements of the tremendous distance of the object being reported today.

After over a year of detailed analysis, the galaxy was positively identified in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field – Infrared (HUDF-IR) data taken in the late summer of both 2009 and 2010. These observations were made with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 3 (WFPC3) starting just a few months after it was installed into the Hubble Space Telescope in May of 2009, during the last NASA space shuttle servicing mission to Hubble.

Pushing the Hubble Space Telescope to the limit of its technical ability, an international collaboration of astronomers have found what is likely to be the most distant and ancient galaxy ever seen, whose light has taken 13.2 billion years to reach us (a redshift of around 10). - click to enlarge

The object appears as a faint dot of starlight in the Hubble exposures. It is too young and too small to have the familiar spiral shape that is characteristic of galaxies in the local universe, such as the Milky Way. Though individual stars can’t be resolved by Hubble, the evidence suggests that this is a compact galaxy of hot stars that first started to form over 100 to 200 million years earlier in a pocket of dark matter.

The proto galaxy is only visible at the farthest infrared wavelengths observable by Hubble. This means that the expansion of the universe has stretched its light farther that any other galaxy previously identified in the HUDF-IR, to the very limit of Hubble’s capabilities.

Astronomers plumb the depths of the universe by measuring how much the light from an object has been stretched by the expansion of space. This is called redshift value or “z.” Before Hubble was launched, astronomers could only see galaxies out to a z approximately 1, corresponding to 6 billion years after the Big Bang. The Hubble Deep Field taken in 1995 leapfrogged to z=4, or roughly 90 percent of the way back to the beginning of time. The new Advanced Camera and the Hubble Ultra Deep Field pushed back the limit to z~6 after the 2002 servicing mission. Hubble’s first infrared camera, the Near Infrared Camera and Multi Object Spectrometer reached out to z=7. The WFC3/IR reached back to z~8, and now plausibly has penetrated for the first time to z=10 (about 500 million years after the Big Bang). The Webb Space Telescope is expected to leapfrog to z~15, and possibly beyond. The very first stars may have formed between z of 30 to 15, or 100 to 250 million years post Big Bang.

The hypothesized hierarchical growth of galaxies—from stellar clumps to majestic spirals—didn’t become evident until the Hubble Space Telescope deep field exposures. The first 500 million years of the universe’s existence, from a z of 1000 to 10 is now the missing chapter in the hierarchical growth of galaxies. It’s not clear how the universe assembled structure out of a darkening, cooling fireball of the Big Bang. As with a developing embryo, astronomers know there must have been an early period of rapid changes that would set the initial conditions to make the universe of galaxies that exist today. Astronomers eagerly await the new space and ground-based telescopes to find out!

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146 thoughts on “A new galaxy distance record by the Hubble Space Telescope

  1. Here’s a question to wrap your head around if you can. In what direction was the Hubble aimed to capture this object? And does it make any difference when looking back this far in spacetime? 🙂

  2. Wow! The amazing thing for me is seeing just how many galaxies there are in that tiny area of space.

  3. So basically, this galaxy is about 3 times older than the earth – pretty neat!
    Perhaps this article will also help to impart to the alarmists how small the relative scale of our 150 yrs of surface temp data actually is compared to the age of the earth and its likely climate extremes?

  4. How could a Big Bang produce a rose, apple trees, fish, sunsets, the seasons, hummingbirds, polar bears—thousands of birds and animals, each with its own eyes, nose, and mouth? Try to think of any explosion that has produced order. A child can see that there is “grand design” in creation.
    Try this interesting experiment: Empty your garage of every piece of metal, wood, paint, rubber and plastic. Make sure there is nothing there. Nothing. Then wait for ten years and see if a Mercedes evolves. Try it. If it doesn’t appear, leave it for 20 years. If that doesn’t work, try it for 100 years. Then try leaving it for 10,000 years. Here’s what will produce the necessary blind faith to make the evolutionary process believable: leave it for 250 million years.
    “New scientific revelations about supernovas, black holes, quarks, and the big bang even suggest to some scientists that there is a ‘grand design’ in the universe.” (U.S. News & World Re-port, March 31, 1997)
    “The universe suddenly exploded into being…The big bang bears an uncanny resemblance to the Genesis command.” Jim Holt, Wall Street Journal science writer.

  5. I find this hard to understand and yet I know it is probably true. If the universe started from a single point and expanded from there, how do you know that this galaxy is near the starting point and not as far on the other side of the beginning as we are on this side? Wheee!

  6. Isn’t it kind of odd that we mostly readily accept the unproven hypothesis of Big Bang but not the unproven hypothesis of CAGW even though CAGW literally is closer to home in both space and time.
    The psychology behind the belief is probably the same, but still how many times can astrophysicist and stellar astronomers make correction to past calculations of what was before their projections of what they say is is it and probable comes into question.
    To note this galaxy isn’t all that distant. It might’ve been if it had been discovered before that other equally distant galaxy that was discovered when the known universe , apparently, hadn’t expanded so many zillion light years past the past known visible boundary which, meagerly, is the known universe.
    But still I believe, but still I have to question what with what we think we know about our own planet and solar system and our own galaxy and the time it took “for us”, how feasible is it then for a galaxy to have formed in an apparent no time at all?
    With sub standard optics everything looks like fuzzy white legendary splotches.

  7. Nice to see that NASA are still doing some real science. When you stop and consider what is involved in the formtion of a galaxy, it is quite incredible that galaxies were up and running within what is really quite a short period of time (480 million years).

  8. I can barely get my head around how long it would take a manned spacecraft to reach Mars. The distances being thrown about for these primeval galaxies are incomprehensible… so how do these scientists know they are speaking the truth when it is not possible to confirm it?

  9. When the Hubble STS can be employed to achieve such observations, even after the Webb STS is operational, why should the Hubble not be continued in operation?
    I know that there are arguments predicated upon the obsolescence of the platform’s technology, but as a framework upon which new hardware can be hung while the old cameras continue to provide data, the Hubble STS no more warrants de-orbiting and disposal than does the Griffith Observatory warrant condemnation and demolition.
    How much real cost might be associated with continuation of the Hubble STS, particularly when orbital lift capacity is going to be required to loft and support the Webb STS successor?

  10. Re: the philosophical question of what was “before” the big bang ( or the singularity if you prefer): In the absence of Reality (spacetime as we perceive it), Probability rules.

  11. Harvard physicist Dr Brian Green wrote an interesting book, The Fabric Of The Cosmos, in which he explained the mathematics behind the Big Bang [which is still a hypothesis, but the most widely accepted hypothesis by physicists]. Greene explains that our 13+ billion year horizon is due to the length of spacetime since the Big Bang. In other words, the age of the visible universe.
    Greene says the math explaining inflation conservatively shows that if the inflation immediately following the Big Bang caused the universe to expand to the size of the earth, then our 27 billion year [diameter] universe would be much smaller than a grain of sand. It’s a much bigger universe than what we can see.
    But we can never observe anything outside of a 13 billion+ light year radius. As the universe continues to expand we’ll be able to see farther. But it will take a year to be able to see out another light year.

  12. as for directions, it is important that one can see in that direction for a long way. Look at the center of the galaxy and you cannot see past it. There are density variations outside the galaxy as well. One must find directions that don’t have much nearer stuff blocking the view. It is an accepted principle that the universe on the large scale looks rather the same in all direction.

  13. “Pasadena, CA— Astronomers have pushed NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to it limits by finding what they believe to be the most distant object ever seen in the universe—at a distance of 13.2 billion light years, some 3% of the age of universe.”
    Math problem here. If the universe was only 480 million years old then how is 13.2 billion years, 3% of the age of the universe???

  14. “Math problem here. If the universe was only 480 million years old then how is 13.2 billion years, 3% of the age of the universe???”
    May be a typo. Maybe a 9 was left off; 93%?

  15. “”””” Tim says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm
    How could a Big Bang produce a rose, apple trees, fish, sunsets, the seasons, hummingbirds, polar bears—thousands of birds and animals, each with its own eyes, nose, and mouth? Try to think of any explosion that has produced order. A child can see that there is “grand design” in creation.
    Try this interesting experiment: Empty your garage of every piece of metal, wood, paint, rubber and plastic. Make sure there is nothing there. Nothing. Then wait for ten years and see if a Mercedes evolves. Try it. If it doesn’t appear, leave it for 20 years. If that doesn’t work, try it for 100 years. Then try leaving it for 10,000 years. Here’s what will produce the necessary blind faith to make the evolutionary process believable: leave it for 250 million years. “””””
    Tim, are you suggesting that “Big Bangs” just don’t happen every day ? Surrely that’s good; what a pickle we’d be in if there was a whole bunch of “universes”. Evidently there aren’t a whole bunch; which is why it is called “The Universe”; it’s the only one there is. That’s why one hasn’t appeared yet, in your garage.
    And no I don’t believe those people who say there’s gazillions of universes. If you can’t, and never can detect them; by any means real or theoretical; no matter what as Dr Bill Schockley would put it; then they don’t exist; and it isn’t science to even talk about it.
    If it can be detected; by any means real or theoretical; then no matter how strange or weirdly it manifests itself; it IS a part of “THE UNIVERSE”.

  16. I have a friend who works on Hubble and I asked how long the exposure was to get such dim objects in the universe from the ultra deep field photos. The image he showed me had a twelve day exposure time. Talk about a stable platform. Additionally, the image he showed us had evidence of diffraction of some of the objects indicating that dark matter was present.

  17. “”””” David says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm
    Smokey I have a question. What did the universe expand into? “””””
    Who says it expanded INTO ANYTHING; it didn’t; the Universe just expanded. Balloons expand; they don’t expand into anything; they just expand, and every point on the skin moves away from every other point.

  18. George E. Smith says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm
    “”””” David says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:42 pm
    Smokey I have a question. What did the universe expand into? “””””
    “Who says it expanded INTO ANYTHING; it didn’t; the Universe just expanded. Balloons expand; they don’t expand into anything; they just expand, and every point on the skin moves away from every other point.”
    I suppose then that three dimensional space expanded into three dimensional space? space.

  19. David,
    There are more than 3 dimensions. There are at least four, and possibly eleven. I really recommend Brian Greene’s book. It’s easy to read, very little math, and astonishing in parts.

  20. Thanks Smokey, I like both your answers. BTW, you have many wonderful links which I assume you have catergorised. Is their any chance you could post maybe the ten or twenty best which illustrate such catergories as AGW the science, AGW the consensous, or IPCC bad science, etc, or however you have them catergorized?

  21. Tim says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm
    “Try this interesting experiment: Empty your garage of every piece of metal, wood, paint, rubber and plastic. Make sure there is nothing there. Nothing. Then wait for ten years and see if a Mercedes evolves. ”
    I saw an episode of the A-Team once and they made a helicopter out of a few bales of hay…

  22. Smokey yes I grasp a little about more then three demesions, however I can see such things as time and other demesions not existing prior to the big bang, yet I cannot imagine the basic three demesiona ever not being?

  23. What happens when we put a better telescope up there and it ends up seeing twice as far, will they suddenly find that the universe is twice the age they estimated it to be? Then these baby galaxies would actually be mid life crisis galaxies.

  24. Allen says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm
    ” …. so how do these scientists know they are speaking the truth when it is not possible to confirm it?”
    Same goes for “Climate Scientists”…

  25. Tim says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    How could a Big Bang produce a rose, apple trees, fish, sunsets, the seasons, hummingbirds, polar bears—thousands of birds and animals, each with its own eyes, nose, and mouth? Try to think of any explosion that has produced order. A child can see that there is “grand design” in creation.

    The galaxy is a tiny blip in the universe, filled mostly with nothing at all.
    The solar system is a tiny blip in our galaxy, filled mostly with nothing at all.
    The Earth is a tiny blip in our solar system, filled mostly with nothing at all.
    We are tiny blips on the Earth, filled mostly with rock and metal.
    1. If you have enough of these tiny blips, at some point one of them will have the right conditions for life. The rest is just life doing what it does – living and reproducing.
    2. If it ever did happen, ‘us’ (the result of said event) being there to witness the results (ie ‘us’) is really a certainty, not a fluke. We can see it because we are it.
    3. To think all of this was created just for us, with no evidence (other than possibly the duck-billed platypus, demonstrating humour on the part of any potential creator) is the truly fantastic idea (in the literal sense).

  26. I think the point is that the universe didn’t expand INTO anything. The universe IS space/time – before the Big bang there was no space/time, perhaps as noted above there was nothing but probability.
    However, the thing I don’t ‘get’ is how it is possible to view an object 13.5 billion light years away and say it existed just 500 million years after the big bang.
    If the light indicates the object is 13.5 billion light years away NOW, that means it took 13.5 billion years for the light to reach us. But I would have thought that at all points in that 13.5 billion years we were much closer to the object. So at the point the object actually EMITTED that light, 13.5 billion years ago, where we are now must have been significantly closer to it, so one would have thought the light would have reached us much earlier than this.
    I guess there is some pretty impressive math explaining how this all works, but just looking at it, I can’t for the life of me see how… I would have thought there’d be some sort of ‘event horizon’ at which light from the most distant points passes us by. Or put another way, I assume that very early on the rate of expansion fell to a significant portion less than the speed of light, which means light must always be out accelerating the rate of expansion, and therefore must not be detectable after some period of time.
    Did that make sense?

  27. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center produces science and scientific projects such as the Hubble Telescope and over 30 other space-based sensing platforms. How does a NASA that can produce these often amazing results allow its reputation to be debased by the questionable “temperature” databases that are produced and maintained by GISS?

  28. Do not struggle to comprehend this information.
    We are considering a conclusion based upon the most primitive data: the Lyman alpha emission of the hydrogen atom (which is in the ultraviolet) has supposedly been red-shifted (frequency-shifted) into the extreme infrared, by the expansion of the universe. The astronomer refers to delta lambda/lambda (change in wavelength divided by wavelength) in discussing the location in the spectrum of the H alpha line. For those interested, this is the emitted wavelength when the electron jumps from the second orbit back to the first orbit of the Hydrogen atom.
    And a redshift of 10 has been the holy grail for quite some time.
    Do not ask an astronomer how he converts this into distance. You will be hopelessly lost by the computations based on inflation and dark matter.
    12 days of exposure, with so few photons, makes the announcement open to serious questioning.
    Unfortunately the observation cannot be independently replicated, as we have no other space telescope able to do this kind of photography.

  29. Tim says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm
    How could a Big Bang produce a rose, apple trees, fish, sunsets, the seasons, hummingbirds, polar bears—thousands of birds and animals, each with its own eyes, nose, and mouth? Try to think of any explosion that has produced order. A child can see that there is “grand design” in creation.
    Try this interesting experiment: Empty your garage of every piece of metal, wood, paint, rubber and plastic. Make sure there is nothing there. Nothing. Then wait for ten years and see if a Mercedes evolves. Try it. If it doesn’t appear, leave it for 20 years. If that doesn’t work, try it for 100 years. Then try leaving it for 10,000 years. Here’s what will produce the necessary blind faith to make the evolutionary process believable: leave it for 250 million years.
    “New scientific revelations about supernovas, black holes, quarks, and the big bang even suggest to some scientists that there is a ‘grand design’ in the universe.” (U.S. News & World Re-port, March 31, 1997)
    “The universe suddenly exploded into being…The big bang bears an uncanny resemblance to the Genesis command.” Jim Holt, Wall Street Journal science writer.

    Yes, because the evolution of life and the spontaneous creation of an inorganic machine are EXACTLY the same. Ignoring the major logical fallacies in your argument, we’re still left with the fact that beings who evolved with the ability to detect patterns finding supposed patterns that assume a “design” in anything should be viewed with skepticism unless they can prove it.
    Because despite that book you like waving around, and your deeply held faith, the burden of proof to show that a creator exists is on you guys. When you can definitively prove a god/creator, in such a way that no other explanation fits the observational data, come talk to me again about how much you can retcon reality to what the bible says. Currently, there are several secular theories that adequately explain the observational data and don’t require us to be the most important thing in the universe.

  30. Graeme M,
    The concept of inflation explains it. In a tiny fraction of a second the universe expanded to close to its present size. That is much faster than light. It could do so because spacetime itself expanded, so Relativity is not violated.
    We view the early galaxies because that is what they looked like shortly after they coalesced, early in the universe’s history. Today, if we could approach them closely, they would look 13 billion years old. But we can only see them now from the light that has been traveling for 13 billion years.
    There are more galaxies farther out. But we can only see as far as the time since the Big Bang. And since the light from galaxies farther out hasn’t reached us yet, they can have no effect whatever on us, and vice versa. We are effectively within a bubble of our own 13 billion light year radius – a bubble that travels with each observer, and each observer is at the center of their own 13 billion light year radius bubble.

  31. Curiousgeorge says:
    January 26, 2011 at 3:38 pm
    “And does it make any difference when looking back this far in spacetime? :)”
    It might if time was a first order attribute of the universe. If however time was a second order attibute that arises from the existance and density of energy would the term spacetime have any meaning? Would a light-year be a fixed distance?
    How about this; If the universe is expaning then all in the universe is expaning, this includes all atoms, does this imply that the you, the earth and eveyting you see is also expanding? If your measurement equipment is also expanding at the same rate how could you know? Is the red-shift caused by the stars moving apart over time or did the photons just be bigger over time?
    Is time the opposite of gravity?
    Are both time and gravity second order attributes?
    Neither reltivity or quanum mechanics require the existance of time for the formulas to work.

  32. We can explain the origins of the universe…
    …but can’t predict tomorrow’s weather
    and have wires running everywhere, pipes underground to take away our poop, and push a gas motor with a propeller to cut our grass
    We are an advanced civilization

  33. Re: “The galaxy is shown as blue because it emitted very blue light due to its high rate of star birth, although by the time the light reached Hubble it had been stretched into the infrared by the expansion of space, giving it a redshift value of about 10.”
    But, of course, everybody should keep in mind that Halton Arp would counter this inference by suggesting that redshift is more appropriately an indication of a body’s AGE — as evidenced by filaments connecting high-redshift quasars with nearby galaxies.
    There are other explanations for what these guys are saying which are espoused by one of the world’s leading astronomers. So, to observe that they have glossed over this debate, and taken a side FOR THE READER, I think it demonstrates that they’ve adopted the role of an advocate for conventional theories.
    Arp is hardly somebody that anybody should be dismissing. I encourage everybody to watch the YouTube video titled “Cosmology Quest”, and your red flags will surely go off if you remain objective!

  34. Andrew30 says:
    “It might if time was a first order attribute of the universe.”
    As Einstein showed, time cannot be considered separate from space. They are two sides of the same coin, like electro-magnetism.
    “How about this; If the universe is expaning then all in the universe is expaning, this includes all atoms, does this imply that the you, the earth and eveyting you see is also expanding?”
    No, expansion of the universe takes place at great distances. The red shift doesn’t affect local matter.

  35. From what I have read, these fisrst stars are very large and so have very brief lives on the main sequence. The rate of supernovas with resultant blackholes and pulsars must be very large. I wonder if any of this is observable. I would imagine tht any supernova would be viable or at lest be more visble than the galaxy without them

  36. @ Andrew30 says:
    January 26, 2011 at 5:41 pm
    It might if time was a first order attribute of the universe. If however time was a second order attibute that arises from the existance and density of energy would the term spacetime have any meaning? Would a light-year be a fixed distance?
    How about this; If the universe is expaning then all in the universe is expaning, this includes all atoms, does this imply that the you, the earth and eveyting you see is also expanding? If your measurement equipment is also expanding at the same rate how could you know? Is the red-shift caused by the stars moving apart over time or did the photons just be bigger over time?
    Is time the opposite of gravity?
    Are both time and gravity second order attributes?
    Neither reltivity or quanum mechanics require the existance of time for the formulas to work.

    I love this kind of discourse and questioning, even the faith-based parts, or any other wild and crazy thoughts. 🙂 Do you know why? Because it’s the journey that counts, not the destination. 🙂

  37. Richard Verney wrote: “Nice to see that NASA are still doing some real science. When you stop and consider what is involved in the formtion of a galaxy, it is quite incredible that galaxies were up and running within what is really quite a short period of time (480 million years).”
    We can be sure that that the redshift value (z) = 10, but the corresponding age figure (480 million years old) depends on what cosmological model is used. The actual chronology of the early universe may have to be seriously revised in the future.
    Discoveries of evolved galaxies at ever higher redshifts distresses the fashionable LCDM (dark energy + cold dark matter) paradigm similarly to how lack of global warming in recent years distresses the AGW paradigm.
    Time will tell. Just wait and see…

  38. Smokey says:
    January 26, 2011 at 5:54 pm
    “As Einstein showed, time cannot be considered separate from space. They are two sides of the same coin, like electro-magnetism.”
    Really, where exactly?
    “No, expansion of the universe takes place at great distances. The red shift doesn’t affect local matter.”
    Are you saying that there is some magic distance at which point things that are farther apart than the magic distance expand and move apart and things closer then the magic distance do not?
    This magic distance must be somewhere between a plank length and the size of the universe. Any idea what the require distance between to collections of energy needs to be before it begins to exhibit this expansion and moving apart attribute?
    Is it a micron, a kilometer, a parsec, a light year, 10 light years, 100, 1000, a billion?
    Does it make sense to you that the rules of the universe change because of relative distance?
    Or is it not an actual distance but rather the volume of Ether between the collections of energy that determines the cut-off point for expansion 🙂

  39. as a sceptic of Big Bang – the notion that the cosmos (time and space) began at a point in time in the past – if something is over 13 billion light years away, it means that it takes that long for its light to reach us. It doesn’t mean that it is 13.2 billion years years old. It would well be 200 billion years old and we’re merely seeing what happened 13 billion years ago.
    Have always thought that cosmology had paradigms like climate science…
    Anyhow, if the universe is infinite, that how can infinity expand on itself? Something of a paradox. The same with time. (And indeed, what is it expaning into? The great infinite cosmos)
    It is inconceivable that there was a moment that did not precede another moment, soi t is quite probable to say that matter, space, time and what we understand of the cosmos today was not too dissimilar many thousands of billions of light years ago.
    Big bang is a theory borrowed from the religious precept of a creator at a point in time, and fashioned along nominally scientific lines

  40. I’m going to love the day when the new space telescope finds a galaxy older than 15 billion years. That’ll make some heads spin.
    This is not a “God designed it all” idea, but I’m reasonably certain that while there may have been a “big bang”, it may not have included all matter in the universe.

  41. Boy, a guy has to go an awfully long ways these days to find a nice, quiet little galaxy in the country.

  42. “Because despite that book you like waving around, and your deeply held faith, the burden of proof to show that a creator exists is on you guys. ”
    Actually, no one has to prove anything about God. Belief in God is based on faith, not proof. If you got no faith, then you do not believe in God, if you do, then you might.
    Somehow, I must have missed the warning in the rules for posting that opinions are verboten here and not welcome, either that, or you attacking someone because their view of the evidence leads to a different result than your preordained faith based opinion that secular science has all the answers.
    Just to humble your arrogance slightly, think about this, if at the end of the century your still alive and scientists have completely created a unified theory of everything, answer the question of why.
    [Note: Site Policy states: “Certain topics are not welcome here and comments concerning them will be deleted. This includes topics on religion…” Fair warning to all. ~dbs, mod.]

  43. astonerii says:
    January 26, 2011 at 7:06 pm
    “…the question of why.”
    This is the difference between science and non-science. As children we were taught the most important question to as is “Why?”. Later some learn that in science there never is a why, there is only a “How?”. Why implies a decision, a purpose, how only needs a method and no purpose. Those who believe that there is a purpose to the universe will ask why, those that believe the universe exist without purpose will ask only how.
    A psychologist may try to find out why people believe in God.
    A biochemist may try to find out how people believe in God.
    Both feel that they are asking the correct question.
    “…secular science has all the answers”
    No, I do not think so, it just has different questions.

  44. For fun…
    What they are claiming about seeing backward into time, and the age of the universe, and the ‘Big Bang’ are only constructions of their assumptions. The astrophysicists are just guessing.
    For example, to use Einstein’s famous thought exercise method:
    Imagine you were riding within that light that is sensed here by the Hubble.
    If you were, you were created 13 billion years ago.
    However, and this is key, if you were that light that originated 13 billion years in the PAST, you would be ‘seeing’ the FUTURE as you approached the Hubble. Because the Hubble was not created until the FUTURE.
    And you would, of course meet it and become gobbled up in its sensing elements.
    The ‘past’ meeting the ‘future’.
    Now, the point here is, if you assume you can look back into the PAST by looking out at the universe in a particular direction, then you should also be able to look into the FUTURE by looking in the opposite direction, or in some direction.
    But you can’t.
    No matter which direction you turn, you cannot see the future. And yet that light coming from that supposed galaxy is doing just that!
    So, in my opinion, their assumptions and calculations are incorrect somewhere.
    There is something far more miraculous going on ‘out there’ rather than a simple ‘Big Bang’.
    Now there is a way that I think the past can meet the future.
    The past can meet the future only if you assume that there is a sort of big spacious NOW.
    And it is not so much as the past meeting the future, because that is only one way of looking at it.
    It is more likely that both the past and future are both being created from any given NOW point.
    And if that is so, then there was no Big Bang.
    In my opinion,a more correct view would be that the universe is being continuously created from every conceivable NOW point. NOW.
    What you ‘see’ depends on what you ‘believe’…

  45. Tim,
    I’ll take natural laws that allow us to make useful predictions as opposed to being subject to the whims of a fickle diety. Similarly, I prefer the Rule of Law – rules applied to everyone equally – as opposed to being subject to the whims of a socialist regime that decides who should be punished or not. I assume I have free will rather than having a pre-determined fate.
    Yes, there are some assumptions that we must make to start with, but we try to go back to first principles. I prefer to take science a step beyond philosophy by seeking to create useful tools. Basic knowledge is essential, but that is a first step. Knowledge solely for the sake of knowledge is unprofitable. Practically speaking, you need to have a return on your investment at some point. Pure knowledge will eventually lead to something more useful, and its pursuit should be supported.
    Creationism is not scientific. What is the predictive value (an omnipotent god can do anything)? How can you test it? The concept is ‘faith based’ at its core, and therefore not debateable. The Sunday School lecture may be more helpful in other venues. Morality needs your support in our crumbling society. Everyone needs to have a solid foundation to make the right decisions.
    Certainly, there are things greater than our own individual existence. We, as a nation or species, might decide to set goals that could require multiple lifetimes to achieve. And defintely, there are things that are objectively good and evil.

  46. Lets see if I got this right:
    The Universe is 14 billion years old (Maya calendar suggests 16.4 billion).
    We see a star 8 billion light years away, then turn the telescope 180 deg
    and we see the same star 6 billion light years away?
    No, I didnt get it right, did I?

  47. Sorry the HBBT “hot big bang theory” Is to cosmology as is the AGW theory is to climate science..Total BS and un-provable. Typical NASA to “push the BB just like AGW. Although Cosmolgy is not economic in that sence it is as far as funding goes .Just like AGW. Infact as H. Arp has pointed out there is plenty of agenda in it for funding in astromomy and with its dodgy biased peer review system. Try to get an non BB cosmology paper published in Astronomy or the AstroPhysical Journal. Not much!


  48. “First God made heaven & earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.”

    Genesis, Revised standard version.
    To me, the bolded portion sounds a truly like a primitive, but very poetic description of the “Big Bang.”
    Belief can be a comforting and illuminating experience, but it can also be a blinding affliction; not saying it is right or wrong.
    Honest science endeavors – but often fails – to learn how the universe works; it keeps trying though.

  49. P Wilson says:
    January 26, 2011 at 6:28 pm
    “as a sceptic of Big Bang – the notion that the cosmos (time and space) began at a point in time in the past – if something is over 13 billion light years away, it means that it takes that long for its light to reach us. It doesn’t mean that it is 13.2 billion years years old. It would well be 200 billion years old and we’re merely seeing what happened 13 billion years ago.
    Have always thought that cosmology had paradigms like climate science…
    Anyhow, if the universe is infinite, that how can infinity expand on itself? Something of a paradox. The same with time. (And indeed, what is it expaning into? The great infinite cosmos)
    It is inconceivable that there was a moment that did not precede another moment, soi t is quite probable to say that matter, space, time and what we understand of the cosmos today was not too dissimilar many thousands of billions of light years ago.
    Big bang is a theory borrowed from the religious precept of a creator at a point in time, and fashioned along nominally scientific lines”
    Dear P. Wilson
    Your faith in science is absolute, and therin lies the problem, as there are no absolutes in science, which only deals with things relative and quantifiable. For instance your “It is inconceivable that there was a moment that did not precede another moment,” Is tantamount to saying “everything inclusive” has no cause as it always was, thus you defeat the law of cause and effect.
    This is the basis of the cosmological argument which says there must be an absolute, an infinite something above the laws of cause and effect.

  50. Smokey says:
    January 26, 2011 at 8:16 pm
    I tried that on an ex wife once, I thought for sure she was an alien.

  51. Tim says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm
    How could a Big Bang produce a rose, apple trees, fish, sunsets, the seasons, hummingbirds, polar bears—thousands of birds and animals, each with its own eyes, nose, and mouth? Try to think of any explosion that has produced order. A child can see that there is “grand design” in creation.

    Or a child-like thinker.

  52. Read “The Big Bang Never Happened”. It is an interesting read from a group of plasma Physicists who don’t buy into the red-shift is doppler in origin theory and propose some alternatives, as well as some interesting theories on how the shapes of galaxies are produce by large (galactic) scale electric charge flows and magnetic fields.
    Planck’s law says that E=hF, so if for some reason light were to gradually lose energy (E) as it travels through space (too small to measure locally, but big enough inter-galactically), the natural outcome is for the frequency (F) to drop proportionally with the loss of energy (h is Planck’s constant). This is an alternate explanation for why the red-shift is linearly proportional to the distance that light has traveled, and eliminates the need for the Big Bang. If it is true that light loses energy as it travels, it means that there is a big hole in our understanding of Physics (not unreasonable considering that we don’t know what we don’t know).
    I mean, after all, nobody really knows what an electric or magnetic field really is. We can measure it, and characterize it, but we don’t know why it exists or how it acts at a distance. There are lots of bizarre sub-atomic particle theories that attempt to explain it, but no one really KNOWS.

  53. I can see my house from here!! Lot’s of great posts on this thread. For some it is hard to face ones unimportance in the vastness of it all. I find it uplifting and meaningful. The joy of knowing that we have so much to learn. The journey being more important than the destination.

  54. All this “intelligent design” hoo-hah and not yet one word about the Super-Intelligent Space Squids.
    Much less the Noodly Goodness of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
    I’d like to repeat my request for consideration of whether or not the Hubble STS should be continued in operation even after the Webb STS successor is lofted and functioning if the Hubble platform can be expected to support observations of this character as well as other lesser tasks than the Webb system will be capable of undertaking.
    As for the religious types and scientific inquiry:

    The great trouble with religion — any religion — is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason — but one cannot have both.

    — Robert A. Heinlein

  55. There are more unknowns than known’s, more questions than answers, more puzzles than pieces.
    In my non-science vocabulary science gives us a process to observe, name, model and test. It has not/does not provide understanding or wisdom. We name ‘dimensions’ of time, space etc. however, that’s only our grasp at an idea of how it works. Are there more dimensions? Are dimension the wrong approach? Is there a unified theory? We do not know!!!
    Again: There are more unknowns than known’s, more questions than answers, more puzzles than pieces.
    What a mysterious, wonderful place we inhabit. Or do we?

  56. I don’t take seriously any scientific news that contain words “Big Bang,” “early Universe,” and “dark matter.” These are failed conjectures attracting those who need to paint familiar Old Man’s face on the fabric of the Unknown.
    As soon as somebody utters”Big Bang,” creationists gather like flies on… OK, like bees on honey.
    Red shift is a consequence of the curvature of space-time. The farther they look, the more galaxies they will see. Forever and ever, amen.
    Anthropocentric worldview is a lamentable short-circuit state of the brain that has no relation to macro-cosmic or microcosmic reality.

  57. Re: “Read “The Big Bang Never Happened”. It is an interesting read from a group of plasma Physicists who don’t buy into the red-shift is doppler in origin theory and propose some alternatives, as well as some interesting theories on how the shapes of galaxies are produce by large (galactic) scale electric charge flows and magnetic fields.
    Planck’s law says that E=hF, so if for some reason light were to gradually lose energy (E) as it travels through space (too small to measure locally, but big enough inter-galactically), the natural outcome is for the frequency (F) to drop proportionally with the loss of energy (h is Planck’s constant). This is an alternate explanation for why the red-shift is linearly proportional to the distance that light has traveled, and eliminates the need for the Big Bang. If it is true that light loses energy as it travels, it means that there is a big hole in our understanding of Physics (not unreasonable considering that we don’t know what we don’t know).
    I mean, after all, nobody really knows what an electric or magnetic field really is. We can measure it, and characterize it, but we don’t know why it exists or how it acts at a distance. There are lots of bizarre sub-atomic particle theories that attempt to explain it, but no one really KNOWS.”
    If more people paid attention to philosophy of science, they would feel obligated to consider such notions — and to try to make them work as diligently as the mathematicians have worked on the dark matter models.

  58. jack morrow says:
    January 26, 2011 at 7:07 pm
    How do you know you are looking back in time? Duh?

    That one is simple. Just look at the sun, the light from that close source takes 8 minutes to reach us, so what we are seeing on the surface of the sun actually happened 8 minutes earlier, or 8 minutes back in time.
    No matter what we look at, no matter how near nor how far, what we see is what happened back in time. The further away the source of that object we are observing, the further back in time we are seeing.

  59. Interestingly, Einsteins general theory of relativity breaks down when it comes to the singularity that supposedly spawned the universe in the current BB standard model. In fact you could say that general relativity theory is incompatible with the current standard model paradigm but at the same time intrinsically underpinning it. Counter intuitive to say the least.

  60. And those photons that made the image were actually emitted in all directions, but decided to instantiate themselves in the satellites camera, and immediately the wave front sphere of 26 billion light years diameter disappears, as the photon no longer exists, having been converted to an electric impulse.

  61. Re: 1DandyTroll says:

    Isn’t it kind of odd that we mostly readily accept the unproven hypothesis of Big Bang but not the unproven hypothesis of CAGW even though CAGW literally is closer to home in both space and time.

    It has zero impact on me as to whether big bang theory is correct or not. The scientists behind it aren’t claiming I have to change my lifestyle or that my lifestyle is responsible for multiple deaths in the future. They don’t gain political power or extra funding by pushing big bang theory over other theories. As far as I am aware there is no evidence that the Universe has “Big Banged” (and “big Crunched”) multiple times in the past and that the scientists are proposing that this “Big Bang” is somehow different.

  62. “The small blue box outlines the area where astronomers found what may be the most distant galaxy ever seen, 13.2 billion light-years away, meaning its light was emitted just 480 million years after the Big Bang. ”
    Only if there was a Big Bang (unproven/falsified) AND there is an expanding universe (unproven/falsified) AND redshift is evidence of expanding spacetime (unproven/falsified) AND extreme red shift is direct evidence of extreme distance (unproven/falsified) AND Hubble’s Law relating redshift to distance applies (unproven/falsified) AND etc etc
    Sure, accept small doppler redshift of light due to proper motion as this is observable and testable, but I’m afraid most of cosmology these days is just a narrative that has got nothing to do with reality. It’s just another Ptolemaic system – it has some explanatory power, but utterly wrong. A thousand years ago we had belief in angels pushing the planets round. People today scoff at this because immaterial entities and unknown energies that were undetectable by instruments were invoked as explanations to phenomena that could not otherwise be understood. But now we have immaterial entities and unknown energies that are undetectable by instruments (dark matter and dark energy – now supposed to make up at least 96% of the universe) being invoked as explanations to phenomena that cannot otherwise be understood. It would be the refuge of the scoundrel to say that though we can’t directly detect dark matter and dark energy we can observe their effects on matter – the medieval savants said the same: you can see the effect on the planets going round – that’s the observable phenomena. I don’t think there is any more dark matter or dark energy than there is Trenberth’s ‘missing heat’: the underlying assumptions and models are wrong, so this gives rise to results that don’t add up. When you have to invoke so many dodgy things (as in astronomy and cosmology) to ‘save the phenomena’ or ‘save the theory’ it’s high time to realize that something is very wrong with the underlying assumptions and physics.

  63. David says:
    January 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm
    In the criticism that you level: * tantamount to saying “everything inclusive”*
    the semblence of time being infinite is that we could count backwards forever without stop, in the same way that we can count forward without stop. We could count to many trillions of billions of years into the past, and the future, since there could not have been a moment that did not precede another moment, or a moment that will not continue from another moment. Similarly with space, or the cosmos, which as far as we know is infinite in all directions, thus being without any measurable magnitude, without dimension and without a centre or a quantifiable origin or first cause.
    This is indeed the problem of the contiguity between cause and effect, and the events that bind them together, which bear little reliable relation to one another.
    As an analogy, if you see a stone shatter a window, what is the necessary connection between the two, and the contiguous binding events? Science doesn’t know, but infers metaphysical concepts, such as force, resistance, kinetic etc. With a fulcrum and lever we have force and resistance inferred from the operation of the one against the other, but when they cease to exert, and instead become *potential*, then these metaphysical abstractions cease to exist, potential being another useful metaphysical hypothesis
    we can only know of the facts of the union between events but nothing of the necessary connection that bind the cause to the effect.

  64. Jantar says:
    January 27, 2011 at 2:28 am
    Therefore, according to big bang theory, the sun must be 8 minutes old.

  65. [Note: Site Policy states: “Certain topics are not welcome here and comments concerning them will be deleted. This includes topics on religion…” Fair warning to all. ~dbs, mod.]
    I did not detect anything about religion in this thread but heaps and heaps of faith, either faith in science or faith in … (what term shall I use to not cause offence?) … you get my drift.
    If faith is also to be banned then the whole AGW thing is off-limits and, in fact, it may be off-limits anyway as AGW has been given the status of “religion” in the UK.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthnews/6494213/Climate-change-belief-given-same-legal-status-as-religion.html
    Maybe time to re-write the Site Policy?
    [or maybe not]
    [Reply: I’m making sure things don’t get out of hand. So far the discussion is fine. ~dbs]

  66. George E. Smith says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm
    i’d differ on that. your balloon is expanding into the area around it, your living room, or where ever you are

  67. Time is an apple. Time is NO APPLE. Time is a worm in an apple. Time is a worm
    NOT in an apple; and yet such definitions will be absolutely meaningless to most
    people, for they can only think of time in terms of days or hours, and they do
    not think of time as an experience itself, or quite simply, being.
    Time is a construct of a consciousness that perceives it. It is not a reality separate from it.
    The mind, or your consciousness, can only focus on one ‘belief’ at a time.
    If you ‘believe’ you are seeing the ‘past’, your mind does indeed construct it for you so that it ‘seems’ that way. It constructs it for you in the form of the data that your eyes (or instruments) can then see. And for that ‘time’ you will only see that kind of ‘data’.
    But if you get rid of that ‘belief’ in time…then you will see something completely different.
    Mathematics is simply a numerical construct of what you wish to see, or believe you see. The numbers always work to some extent, because you create them to do so by the ‘assumptions’ chosen.
    There is no such thing as unbiased mathematics, or even science for that matter.
    That does not mean science and mathematics are not useful for practical everyday living, they are. But their basic reality as ‘artistic creations’ by ‘artists’ must be understood if one wishes to create a ‘fulfilling’ experience.

  68. Cosmologists and Astronomers, in general, are much more willing to state that they don’t know something, or to accept challenges to accepted hypotheses, at least from the general, mostly non-technical books I’ve read. I think they realize just how absolutely staggeringly little we know about the universe and are constantly revising theories based on new evidence and the avilibility of new tools. There is good evidence of the Big Bang, the incredilbly rapidly expanding universe, and the finite universe (our universe as one of many). There are some really huge leaps of faith too, but they’ve made many in the past that have come true based on theoretical physics. They really don’t even try to speculate as to what happened before the Big Bang. And there a huge number of pardoxies as well, at least when considering our earth based laws of physics. (For instance there is pretty strong evidence the the speed of light was different in the deep past)
    At any rate, Hubble and Swift have probably been the most effective “science projects” in history, they’ve made incredible contributions to the understanding of the universe. I remember when the first Deep Field photos came out from Hubble showing over 10,000 galaxies in a space of sky the size of a straw opening. And that was when it could only “see back” 6 billion years or so. Incomprehensible!

  69. Every galaxy is moving away from every other galaxy. Like dots on the outside of a balloon being blown up.

    jack morrow says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm
    I find this hard to understand and yet I know it is probably true. If the universe started from a single point and expanded from there, how do you know that this galaxy is near the starting point and not as far on the other side of the beginning as we are on this side? Wheee!

  70. One wonders if such a young “galaxy” has a black-hole in the center. Or if a black-hole is necessary as a “seed” for the formation. Or if a black-hole forms later during a “quasar” period.
    Lots of interesting questions.

  71. As an engineer I accept the “rules” of science we have today. But I am limited by the First Law of Thermodynamics. If matter can neither be created nor destroyed then the BB voilates that. Even string theory with branes etc include the existence of something being created from nothing.
    Besides if light is bent by the gravity fields of stars and black holes we don’t really know where that galaxy is. And it must be farther than stated if it followed a curved line to get here.
    My balloon expands into the air in my house which existed before the balloon.

  72. *****
    Smokey says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:35 pm
    Greene says the math explaining inflation conservatively shows that if the inflation immediately following the Big Bang caused the universe to expand to the size of the earth, then our 27 billion year [diameter] universe would be much smaller than a grain of sand. It’s a much bigger universe than what we can see.
    *****
    That’s something that also confused me at first. Can’t remember the website, but the guy seemed to know his stuff, and calculated that the universe at this point is at least 70 billion light-yrs in diameter & perhaps even much larger. The limit to what can be seen is not the “edge”, but just the sight-limit imposed by the finite light-speed.

  73. For the first time in the 30,000 years of human development, we have created a society so rich that we can spend so much time and effort on things this abstract. The pyramids? Childs play, like sand castles!
    I marvel at how far we have come, amazing!
    In the middle of a brutal winter, we can sit in the comfort of our homes sipping coffee and instantly debate with people around the world. And we debate about the inflation of a balloon and the events of a zillion years ago. Reminiscent of the debate as to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin!
    Wealth and leisure unimaginable only one hundred years ago!
    We are so rich and generous that for the first time (as Michelle O says) obesity is the number one health problem of the poor! It was not that long ago that periodic famine was the norm throughout the world.
    Incredible.
    However, we are headed for bankruptcy. With the current debt and the unfunded future liabilities, we will be lucky to feed ourselves, much less spend money on space craft.
    Too bad.
    Regards,
    Steamboat Jack (Jon Jewett’s evil twin)

  74. It’s very hard to discuss relativity, and the big bang with a language developed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is
    You need mathematics to explain it not english

  75. beng says:
    January 27, 2011 at 7:19 am
    Assuming we are at center of Universe and light has traveled 13.5 billion light years (BLY) to get year then the diameter of the visible universe is 27 BLY. As light is (assumed) to be omnidirectional then the universe should be 57 BLY minimum across in visible terms. But we have no idea if thats true.

  76. I think one thing the staggering revelations in Cosmolgy has revealed is that interstellar travel is a fools errand and the likely hood of other intellignet life ever crossing paths with humans is zero. I love what I call the Star Trek Paradox, that sci-fi writers can imagine ships the size of cities travelling at speeds approaching the speed of light encountering dozens of species of humanoid life (also with this technology) but can’t predict a credit card sized smart phone with the exponentially more computing power than 1960s room sized computers. Not to mention the instantaneous communications from the Enterprise to Starfleet over several light-years distance. I guess having to wait 8 years for a response would make for a dull series. 🙂
    Just think about Voyager. It is only just now approaching the edge of our solar system but think about how drastically our understanding of the universe has changed in the years since its launch!

  77. The problem we have is that if we weren’t there, then we don’t know for sure. It’s the same problem with origin by creation, and the same problem with origin by evolution, same problem with carbon dating, same problem with big bang. You can create models of the universe which seem to fit observations quite well, but in the end, they are still nothing more than models. If you weren’t there, then you can’t prove it. To a certain point, you can trust recorded human history, which only goes back a few thousand years. Will we ever travel to another star? Doesn’t look likely in this lifetime. For at least another century, we are stuck where we’re at. And still just making guesses based on long distance observation with no concrete proof.

  78. DocattheAutopsy wrote: “I’m going to love the day when the new space telescope finds a galaxy older than 15 billion years. That’ll make some heads spin.”
    That won’t happen — at least not as simply as that. You can’t tell how old a galaxy is just by looking it. What astronomers do is relate an observed redshift value to an age based on a cosmological model. If the cosmological model says the Big Bang happened 13.7 billion years ago, then no measured redshift value will be deemed equivalent to 15 billion years ago. On the other hand, if the new space telescope (i.e., JWST) finds galaxies with redshifts equivalent to, say, 13.5 or 13.6 billion years ago, so that those galaxies will have only 100 or 200 Myr since the Big Bang to evolve, then that will make heads spin and today’s preferred cosmological model will face a genuine crisis.

  79. The great trouble with religion — any religion — is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason — but one cannot have both.
    Sounds like a description of a lot of what passes for “science” today, too.

  80. Lots of unscientific emotional statements here; folks not liking the BB because it feels wrong. Sadly another unconscious manifestation of liberal feels good rationalization from nominal conservatives.
    The Big Bang is good science because it made predictions that are falsifiable and has so far passed test after test. The true scientific method in public observation.
    Somewhat after the big bang theory (a derogatory moniker from Fred Hoyle who favored the steady state model) was proposed, radio astronomers unexpectedly found microwave radio ‘noise’ in all directions which was caused by the 3 degree Kelvin thermal radiation predicted by the big bang model. The BB also predicted the relative amounts of hydrogen and helium which percentages were much later measured throughout the observable universe. There are many other such observations, any of which could have falsified and therefore blown away (Heh!) the BB theory. It’s a model which has been ‘tweaked’ by later improvements such as Cosmic Inflation, etc. but has stood the brief 50 yr test of time.
    Arp’s iconoclastic observations are old school and have not stood the test of time. The electromagnetic plasma guys are true fringe folks who have more emotion and personal investment than science in their closely held alternative view.
    Another couple misconceptions I’ve read here include queries of what will better telescopes show. Remember when we look 13.x billion years in the past or ‘away’ we’re looking close to the max time/distance that light can travel in the interval. Better scopes can never see ‘further’, well not until until another few billion years pass. Unproven but rational is Dr Greene’s statement that the observable universe, limited by light speed observations, is most likely a tiny in every sense of the word, fraction of this universe.
    Cosmology is alive and well as a science and has progressed greatly since it was closer to philosophy in the 1950s. Better instruments across all wavelengths have put measurement to the ideas and enabled those flawed postulates to be refuted by observation.

  81. I was not referring to Eric’s true fun speculation about the JWST, which if it finds much younger galaxies will blow away the current, not well established, theories of how galaxies form. The current theories would then be falsified, if so.

  82. Re: “It’s very hard to discuss relativity, and the big bang with a language developed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is
    You need mathematics to explain it not english”
    I would add to this poignant observation that the language of laboratory-tested physical mechanisms is also insufficient!
    And I would also clarify that to point out the former without mentioning the latter suggests (perhaps unintentionally) that the rest of us “just aren’t getting it” because we’re not mathematicians. In online cosmological debates, that’s actually a common tactic for dismissing critics of conventional cosmology.
    I think it’s fair to say that everybody has a right to disbelieve a universe which is only 4% baryonic. And perhaps, only a mathematician would claim that we should even cherish such a creation, or that we have no such right to challenge it …
    … Not that this is what you were claiming, of course …

  83. The so-called “big bang”:
    A point source that had infinite density in an infinitely small volume.
    Infinite can not be quantified. So, two terms are unquantifiable in the same explanation. It certainly isn’t a mathematically constrained physical theory.
    So, what is it?
    Dogma.
    Astronomers admit what they don’t know?
    Ever try challenging an astronomer about the “big bang”? You’ll find out just how dogmatic they are.

  84. The Truth Wears Off: Is there something wrong with the scientific method?
    by Jonah Lehrer
    December 13, 2010
    (excerpt:)
    This suggests that the decline effect is actually a decline of illusion. While Karl Popper imagined falsification occurring with a single, definitive experiment—Galileo refuted Aristotelian mechanics in an afternoon—the process turns out to be much messier than that. Many scientific theories continue to be considered true even after failing numerous experimental tests. Verbal overshadowing might exhibit the decline effect, but it remains extensively relied upon within the field. The same holds for any number of phenomena, from the disappearing benefits of second-generation antipsychotics to the weak coupling ratio exhibited by decaying neutrons, which appears to have fallen by more than ten standard deviations between 1969 and 2001. Even the law of gravity hasn’t always been perfect at predicting real-world phenomena. (In one test, physicists measuring gravity by means of deep boreholes in the Nevada desert found a two-and-a-half-per-cent discrepancy between the theoretical predictions and the actual data.) Despite these findings, second-generation antipsychotics are still widely prescribed, and our model of the neutron hasn’t changed. The law of gravity remains the same.
    Such anomalies demonstrate the slipperiness of empiricism. Although many scientific ideas generate conflicting results and suffer from falling effect sizes, they continue to get cited in the textbooks and drive standard medical practice. Why? Because these ideas seem true. Because they make sense. Because we can’t bear to let them go. And this is why the decline effect is so troubling. Not because it reveals the human fallibility of science, in which data are tweaked and beliefs shape perceptions. (Such shortcomings aren’t surprising, at least for scientists.) And not because it reveals that many of our most exciting theories are fleeting fads and will soon be rejected. (That idea has been around since Thomas Kuhn.) The decline effect is troubling because it reminds us how difficult it is to prove anything. We like to pretend that our experiments define the truth for us. But that’s often not the case. Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe. ♦
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/12/13/101213fa_fact_lehrer

  85. PhilW1776 says:
    January 27, 2011 at 9:32 am
    Lots of unscientific emotional statements here; folks not liking the BB because it feels wrong. Sadly another unconscious manifestation of liberal feels good rationalization from nominal conservatives.
    I question it not on feelings but the First Law of Thermodynamics. If matter/energy cannot be created then the BB is wrong.

  86. Re: “(In one test, physicists measuring gravity by means of deep boreholes in the Nevada desert found a two-and-a-half-per-cent discrepancy between the theoretical predictions and the actual data.)”
    It turns out that the Gravitational Constant G is one of the least constant of all of the constants. Theorists actually struggle to properly pin the precise value down (some claim that the measured values are not actually converging to any specific number). The readers of WUWT will surely be interested to know that there was a short NewScientist article sometime back which claimed that the G used in solar models is actually a different number than that used to model the planets!

  87. PhilW1776 says:
    January 27, 2011 at 9:32 am
    I’d say that a lack of evidence is the basis for refutation than emotion.
    If you want to infer a theory by invoking back ground radiation, you might as well say that the moon just became visible as night time arrives, thus the moon has just come into existance at that moment

  88. Re: “Ever try challenging an astronomer about the “big bang”? You’ll find out just how dogmatic they are.”
    I would not wish it upon my worst enemy. The BAUT treatment could arguably qualify as theoretical torture under the Geneva Conventions. This is where good, creative problem-solving approaches and ideas go to die. And once they’re done with you, they chew up the transcripts so good that it’s akin to spraying graffiti onto the tombstone.
    Some members of the Astronomy Picture of the Day spend all of their free time roaming around the Internet to extend this form of goodwill into areas where dogma and ideology have not yet established rule — as if to nip any competing approaches in the bud, before the public gets wind of them. Some even go by the name of “Nereid”, which is Greek for nymphs who protect sailors during treacherous seas. I think it is perhaps synonymous with the concept of the fraternity pledge, but within astrophysical circles (?).
    What was particularly telling was the fact that, back in my own days of online advocacy for the thunderbolts.info site, posting arguments to the Digg.com forums pulled more visitors to that site than the BAUT site. I could tell because the quantcast figures precisely matched my online advocacy timeline. Good arguments are in fact very powerful. One person today can make a big difference.
    But, of course, eventually, the Nereids will come and find you! And they will not relent until others are convinced to ignore you. And they will even make sure that people cannot even look up your theory on wikipedia. It’s so great that we can depend upon these people to protect the public from becoming “confused”.
    We live in a very strange world.

  89. Re: “Lots of unscientific emotional statements here; folks not liking the BB because it feels wrong. Sadly another unconscious manifestation of liberal feels good rationalization from nominal conservatives.”
    If that is your lens, then by all means, look through it! But, for many of us, it appears that conventional theorists are looking down the wrong end of the telescope, and telling us what they imagine that they see! This is an error in *approach* which we can also discuss in philosophical terms. And that is definitely a conversation worth having, as it helps us to correct course to better ideas.
    Re: “I question it not on feelings but the First Law of Thermodynamics. If matter/energy cannot be created then the BB is wrong.”
    There is clearly more than one way to skin this cat.
    But, very few actually take the next step and try to investigate the underlying causes for this grand mistake — as it is far easier to criticize the BB cosmology than to begin the personal investigation into alternatives with an open mind. Without a detailed understanding of the philosophical and historical errors, people tend to be overwhelmed by the options for where to re-start their reading.
    The biggest impediments tend to be personal; they are the ideologies which always tend to survive skepticism of the BB cosmology, such as:
    – The Sun is internally powered
    – Electricity in space is unimportant
    – Uniformitarianism
    The ideologies, after all, require no logical foundation. They are another form of human attachment (aka “emotion”).
    It also seems that cosmological thought in humans is a form of malleable finite state machine, and that there are some states of knowledge which present no workable pathway to better ideas. At this point, a person “knows too much”, and they begin to appear to younger generations as unable to alter foundational assumptions.
    And with so many assumptions and speculations mixed in with observational and experimental facts in scientific journalism today, some people find that the entire system requires a reboot.
    There’s lots of ways to discuss the problems in science today. People will one day write entire books on the subject of what went wrong — as Jeff Schmidt has already done with “Disciplined Minds”.

  90. 1DandyTroll says: {January 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm}
    “Isn’t it kind of odd that we mostly readily accept the unproven hypothesis of Big Bang but not the unproven hypothesis of CAGW even though CAGW literally is closer to home in both space and time.”
    The proponents of the Big Bang are not asking us to:
    1. change our lifestyles
    2. accept $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ of new taxes
    3. be the boss of us for our own good
    4. consider ourselves guilty of being a plague on Mother Gaia

  91. Pull My Finger says: {January 27, 2011 at 7:52 am}
    “Not to mention the instantaneous communications from the Enterprise to Starfleet over several light-years distance. I guess having to wait 8 years for a response would make for a dull series. :)”
    So it also was with “beaming”. The producers knew they could not waste time by showing travel in a craft down to a planet and back so they invented “beaming”. It was much more fun to watch the resolution of the plot within the 60 minute time frame rather than be realistic about travel. However, I always wondered why they just couldn’t assemble a bunch of atoms at the destination using the “biogenetic codes” of Capt Kirk and attending crew to create an additional one of each there while the “real” versions stayed aboard safe and sound.
    And let’s not forget the famous “swish” sound the Enterprise made in the opening credits as it traveled through space.

  92. Re: “The Big Bang is good science because it made predictions that are falsifiable and has so far passed test after test. The true scientific method in public observation.”
    So it would seem to those who do not actively follow the criticisms. After all, it’s a lot of work to do so …
    Re: “Somewhat after the big bang theory (a derogatory moniker from Fred Hoyle who favored the steady state model) was proposed, radio astronomers unexpectedly found microwave radio ‘noise’ in all directions which was caused by the 3 degree Kelvin thermal radiation predicted by the big bang model.”
    And yet, all is not well for the conventional theories in radio astronomy circles today. The most glaring problem is that the interstellar filaments marked by HI hydrogen and observed by one of the world’s most famous radio astronomers, Gerrit Verschuur, are in fact long, spaghetti-like twisted filaments.
    Of course, conventional theorists still call these structures “clouds”, even as Verschuur has observed them to emit the infamous critical ionization velocities at 50 km/s and 35 km/s. The 35 km/s signal is especially widespread, and is associated with the “anomalous high velocity clouds”.
    Verschuur even went one step further and linked WMAP hotspots with these filaments. But, conventional theorists, not surprisingly, fail to see any means of using his observations to confirm their theories. After all, CIV’s are not supposed to be seen in space, as that would suggest that these interstellar filaments are in fact conducting electrical currents.
    Something that appears to be lost on a lot of famous cosmological thinkers is that plasma beams naturally emit microwaves. Yes, the microwaves in the laboratory are synchrotron, but plasma cosmologists need not infer metaphysical causes for thermalizing the synchrotron into a smooth black body. This is perhaps why Fred Hoyle famously stated …
    “A man who falls asleep on the top of a mountain and who awakes in a fog does not think he is looking at the origin of the Universe. He thinks he is in a fog.”
    Re: “The BB also predicted the relative amounts of hydrogen and helium which percentages were much later measured throughout the observable universe.”
    In philosophy of science, there is clearly a burden to compare and contrast cosmological theories. To cite this as an accomplishment seems to baldly assume that the competing paradigm cannot make the same claim, right?
    Re: “There are many other such observations, any of which could have falsified and therefore blown away (Heh!) the BB theory. It’s a model which has been ‘tweaked’ by later improvements such as Cosmic Inflation, etc. but has stood the brief 50 yr test of time.”
    If the challenge is to create a workable universe with only 4% baryonic matter, I don’t think that it will be hard to formulate something to compare it against.
    Re: “Arp’s iconoclastic observations are old school and have not stood the test of time.”
    Yes, this is what happens when you present images of his filaments connecting high-redshift quasars to nearby galaxies in the wrong spectra. It lends the illusion to that the bridge is not there.
    Re: “The electromagnetic plasma guys are true fringe folks who have more emotion and personal investment than science in their closely held alternative view.”
    Hannes Alfven was a Nobel laureate. He actually created the plasma models which are to this day used, but he did so at the beginning of his career. By the end, after a lifetime of experimental research with plasmas, he realized that he had made a huge mistake. And he tried in vain to correct the record on his own mistake:
    “I thought that the frozen-in concept was very good from a pedagogical point of view, and indeed it became very popular. In reality, however, it was not a good pedagogical concept but a dangerous “pseudopedagogical concept.” By “pseudopedagogical” I mean a concept which makes you believe that you understand a phenomenon whereas in reality you have drastically misunderstood it.”
    [..]
    “At that time (1950) we already knew enough to understand that a frozen-in treatment of the magnetosphere was absurd. But I did not understand why the frozen-in concept was not applicable.”
    [..]
    “In 1963, Fälthammar and I published the second edition of Cosmical Electrodynamics [12] together. [..] We analyzed the consequences of this in some detail, and demonstrated with a number of examples that in the presence of an E|| the frozen-in model broke down. On [12, p. 191] we wrote:
    “In low density plasmas the concept of frozen-in lines of force is questionable. The concept of frozen-in lines of force may be useful in solar physics where we have to do with high- and medium-density plasmas, but may be grossly misleading if applied to the magnetosphere of the earth. To plasma in interstellar space it should be applied with some care.”
    Re: “Cosmology is alive and well as a science and has progressed greatly since it was closer to philosophy in the 1950s. Better instruments across all wavelengths have put measurement to the ideas and enabled those flawed postulates to be refuted by observation.”
    Einstein called his work “thought experimenting”, and he held out that he might be wrong all the way to his death. When he passed away, the book “Worlds in Collision” was observed to be on his desk, as testament to his own personal doubt.
    In fact, the historical record is quite clear that Einstein’s followers have always been much more rabid in his beliefs than himself.

  93. BA was pretty reasonable before merging with UT to become BAUT. After that, even the moderators were trolls against anything that was not consensus. The BA never even mentioned GW till after the merger, now he regularly refers to skeptics as deniers. The lure of money can corrupt anybody, I guess.
    Mark

  94. I have to say the plasma theory isn’t any more ridiculous than String Theory, which to me, smells of Mary Jane laced Unicorn Poo. 🙂 I’ll now duck for incoming String Theory missiles!
    BB has a lot, a LOT, of holes, but it at least a reasonable framework that is testable within our knowledge and comprehension of physics. And most BB proponets freely admit that the early moments of BB are almost enterly beyond the realm of explanation at this point. Much less the singularity and before, which they simply don’t even attempt to explain.

  95. The z factor in redshift is a bit of an oddity.
    I have imaged out to z=0.5 (Abell 851) which was used as a milestone in cosmology for the Deep Fields that Hubble has taken.
    This is the point where space gets vast in a hurry. All-sky scans and surveys don’t do deep imaging, there being way too much ground to cover and too few resources. Someone should do the math required to determine how many 1,000’s of year Hubble would have to operate to cover the sky at Deep-Field image depth.
    Feeling small yet?

  96. Just have to get this off my chest.
    Time does not exist. Vibrations in a ceasium atom or quartz crystal do, BUT not time. Time is a made up measurement created by man. Why does negative time work in every equation but not in real life. Because we make the damn rules in math not life.
    Many have said that ID people live in a self-centered god world. Well so do scientist. They’re God and make up the rules/theories and proclaim them unto man as truth. AGW, Big Bang, Quantum Physics… These are no more provable than God but we are told to believe the math, which you guys invented and construde to fit the agenda at hand.
    In summary… Everyone is full of Shite and should just enjoy the life you have been given.
    Treat others as you would want them to treat you. This explains everything we need to know for the limited time we will spend on this rock in a void.

  97. Andrew30
    “Are you saying that there is some magic distance at which point things that are farther apart than the magic distance expand and move apart and things closer then the magic distance do not?”
    Perhaps Smokey wasn’t clear enough. You are quite right to question a magic distance. Space expands at a rate that is proportional to the distance between two points. What that means is that, if for sake of argument, the space across a distance of a billion light years is expanding at 1/4 the speed of light, then the space across a distance of half a billion light years would be expanding at 1/16 the speed of light, and so on for however far you want to go.
    The reason for this is simply because each ‘slice’ of space is expanding away from it’s neighbours. If you are standing on my left and Smokey on my right and I walk to my right at 4 mph and Smokey walks at 4mph away from me (relative to me) in the same direction, then he is walking away from you at 8 mph. If you were also walking away at 4mph relative to me, then you would be walking 12mph away from Smokey.
    This means that at local distances, the expansion of space is very slow and gravity prevails. Gravity holds clusters of galaxys together because space does not expand sufficiently fast across the local cluster. When you get to the distances of individual atoms I can’t even guess what the expansion would be – probably would have to be measured in planck lengths.

  98. Smokey,
    “Graeme M,
    The concept of inflation explains it. In a tiny fraction of a second the universe expanded to close to its present size.”
    From what I’ve read, inflation occured between 10^-36 and 10^-32 seconds after the big bag. During that time it doubled at least 100 times in size, going from the size of a proton to about 10cm across. Quite a lot less than the present size of the universe.

  99. If we accept current theory about the Solar System it was created circa 4.6 billion years ago. However the earth contains elements above atomic numer 26 ( Iron) which according to current theory can only occur during a supernovae.
    Thus we have a theory that dust from a supernovae condensed under gravitiational force formed the Solar System.
    A star of this size lasts some 400 -500 million years. The dust then accretes to from the sun and the planets. It would suggest that the event happened some 10 billion years ago. I still think the age of the Universe is seriously underestimated. I believe that an age of 30 billion years would be more appropriate.
    We also need to evalaute any bias towards a geocentic view of the Universe. Our Solar System is unlikely t0 be at the centre of it. If there is a galaxy 13.6 billion years away the in the opposite direction there should be galaxies . say no more then 0.4 billiuon years old.
    This all pre-supposes that we are the only Universe.

  100. Curiousgeorge says:” January 26, 2011 at 3:38 pmHere’s a question to wrap your head around if you can. In what direction was the Hubble aimed to capture this object? And does it make any difference when looking back this far in spacetime? :)”
    Good question since there is now data to suggest that the fine structure “constant” differs depending upon in which direction one is looking. Also, the big bang is a theory with many problems when trying to rectify it with quantum theory. And as noted above is not the “fact” that many accept it as nor is the theory regarding red shift, which is accepted as fact by most. Very interesting stuff.

  101. Vince Causey says: January 27, 2011 at 12:56 pmSmokey,
    “Graeme M,
    “The concept of inflation explains it. In a tiny fraction of a second the universe expanded to close to its present size.”
    From what I’ve read, inflation occured between 10^-36 and 10^-32 seconds after the big bag. During that time it doubled at least 100 times in size, going from the size of a proton to about 10cm across. Quite a lot less than the present size of the universe.”
    The concept of inflation was invented, like dark matter, dark energy and dark flow to attempt to explain away many of the inconsistencies between the big bang theory and observational astronomy. Just like Einstein did with the cosmological constant he invented when the then observational data showed an unchanging universe when his math said it should be expanding. There are other potential explanations for these inconsistencies.

  102. Tom in Florida says: January 27, 2011 at 11:35 amPull My Finger says: {January 27, 2011 at 7:52 am}
    “Not to mention the instantaneous communications from the Enterprise to Starfleet over several light-years distance. I guess having to wait 8 years for a response would make for a dull series. :)”
    This one is easy in quantum theory. Entangled particles theoretically communicate instantaneously over whatever distance, of course the “whatever distance” in the tests I have read about is not too far.

  103. mkelly says: January 27, 2011 at 10:03 amPhilW1776 says:
    January 27, 2011 at 9:32 am
    ” Lots of unscientific emotional statements here; folks not liking the BB because it feels wrong. Sadly another unconscious manifestation of liberal feels good rationalization from nominal conservatives.
    I question it not on feelings but the First Law of Thermodynamics. If matter/energy cannot be created then the BB is wrong.”
    There are significant observations which suggest that at different energy levels and, indeed, even in different places, different rules and constants may apply just like Newtonian physics worked well enough at certain energy levels but relativity works better at higher energy levels. We may not yet be at the root level of physical science laws and constants, if there are any.

  104. Ah the trick is figuring out which one are connected and getting them all in that thingy in Uhura’s ear!

    This one is easy in quantum theory. Entangled particles theoretically communicate instantaneously over whatever distance, of course the “whatever distance” in the tests I have read about is not too far.

  105. Chris Reeve says: January 27, 2011 at 9:40 amRe: “It’s very hard to discuss relativity, and the big bang with a language developed to tell other monkeys where the ripe fruit is
    You need mathematics to explain it not english”
    Chris,
    re: your reply, I agree:
    Einstein was probably a pretty bright guy and he put the math to his work AFTER he worked out the logic with mental experiments. He also believed that the bottom line would be something “simple” like his E=MCsquared. And, of course, we know that most of his theories work quite well observationally, for those that can be measured. Cosmologically, we are still not there in the observational area.

  106. I am thoroughly enjoying this conversation, reading the different cosmological views of various commentators.
    Every time we think we know how big the universe is, a new discovery comes along that shows we erred on the small side. For an interesting example of how large our Sun is, watch this gif: click

  107. Yep, I remember when we made that one, it was a Kit Set model, but half way through the assembly we thought we’d pimp it up.
    Just for Giggles we put Blue Giants in an outer halo, then arranged some White Super Stars in a complex set up in the middle, gave it a nudge and off it rolled.
    Any-who, back then Super Stars came in packs of twelve, and if you’re in the trade you got a free pack for every ten packs you purchased, when had about a million packs left over and started messing about with the Great Attractor, seems all those super stars had pulling power.
    Ah those were the days, not like now,…can’t knock out a galaxy without some Moron insisting on dumping a cheap a$$ Black Hole in the middle, just use a Super Star stoopid!
    I still have a three dozen Super’s in the shed, might pop them on EBAY.

  108. Hoser says:
    January 26, 2011 at 8:14 pm
    “… Creationism is not scientific.”
    How does one “test” evolution? A science must be testable and falsifiable! Is there a single example of a species evolving into another in the scientific record? How does one evolve, say, an eyeball, one mutation at a time? (particularly without some sort of “design” pointing to the end product.) Where are all the “duds” which didn’t pan out?
    I would submit NEITHER is scientific; each depends on faith!

  109. Dave Dodd says:
    January 27, 2011 at 7:56 pm
    You hit the nail on the head with that comment!!!
    I submit to Anthony that now AGW is getting old hat WUWT takes on the evolutionists team/lobby. I think he would be surprised by the following he would get.
    Go for it Anthony………

  110. mkelly says: If matter/energy cannot be created then the BB is wrong.”
    Nope. Energy of position is negative. So if you add up the energy of mass and the negative energy of position you get a big zero. * Plus or minus Brownian motion, aka drunkard’s walk.
    But I still don’t have enough math to explain inflation – either the cosmological or the monetary kind. Plus, according to all Quantum theories, protons should decay, but don’t. Plus, electrons fit the equations of a black hole to a T. Plus, observational effects of what is called dark matter. 2.5% error in Gravitational constant? Maybe that explains my bathroom scale. So much inference on a small slope with an R-squared of 0.001. And a negative mass squared for neutrinos.
    Then, the first look for solar neutrinos found zero. And the first solar eclipse looking for gravitational curvature found – zero. The actual mass of Pluto couldn’t have caused the reported wobble in Neptune’s orbit. And scientists predicted any of zero, one, or two planets beyond Uranus, based on the observed wobbles of Uranus. Our data contain many “maybes” and “sighted once” and sighted several times, but the orbits didn’t match Newtonian physics and we stopped seeing it anyway.
    Won’t find any 15 billion year red shifts, even at z=1 billion, it would come out at some number of years after the big bang, which by definition is now set at 13.7 billion years. Suppose we received signals from Andromeda, that added up to astronomical data. Suppose further that we could triangulate deep space with this data and that some galaxy showed at 40 billion light years away. Some astronomers would swear that the Andromedans were fudging the data, some laymen would claim the whole thing was a fake, some biologists would be mad that they hadn’t sent any biological information, some would want us to spend more on defense, while others worried about the aliens showing up at Home Depot parking lots. Yet others would urge us not to respond because then the Andromedans would know where we lived, and might send us an Andromeda strain or something. Yet science would take the data and try to integrate it with the rest of known data, and just might come up with a plausible explanation.
    That is, until the Andromedans politely asked us about our religious beliefs.

  111. Cosmic microwave background radiation and X-ray background are not isotropic. This is confirmed by the latest, most exact measurements. And this is all one needs to know to forget about Big Bang creationism.
    The rest is human psychology, not cosmology: herding instinct and dogmatism. Scientists are human; therefore, as Galileo observed, most of them are fools.

  112. V in PA “Why does negative time work in every equation but not in real life.”
    What do you mean by ‘work’? These equations you speak of are mathematical models. You can do anything you like with the variables in any equation, but they may never be a description of anything real.
    Your question was a bit of a puzzle up to the mid-nineteenth century when a Newtonian, mechanistic view was the orthodoxy, but with the emergence of studies of statistical mechanics and thermodynamics they were getting a handle on the arrow of time. If you start with reality and try to deduce certain ‘laws’, one of them will be the Second Law of Thermodynamics. That requires that the arrow of time marches in one direction and can’t be reversed.
    “Time does not exist.”
    “Vibrations in a cesium atom or quartz crystal do, BUT not time.” To have a vibration there must be a succession of states, otherwise there is no vibration. What can the meaning of vibration mean without a succession of states. A succession of states and events requires time.
    “Time is a made up measurement created by man. ” This sounds like the old Sophist argument that ‘man is the measure of all things’. Sure, we define the measurement metric: the ‘second’ is a creation of man in that sense. And again, we men have a perception of time, just as we have perceptions of everything around us. But one should not confuse a measurement system or a perception with underlying reality. If there was no time before man measured it, or ‘created’ the metric, or perceived it, then there would be no succession of events, so nothing before man.
    In Christian theology time is created by God, who is himself outside of time and uncreated. There is no succession of thoughts with God: no beginning, no before, earlier, later, after, no end. In philosophy and theology the concept of time is a very difficult one; but as far as the natural world is concerned there is a succession of events. Whether time runs backwards or forwards you can only deny the concept of time if you say that all natural events are simultaneous.

  113. There certainly is nothing like looking for finding things.
    It never ceases to amaze me how one simple picture from a telescope can trigger so much discussion.
    One approach to avoiding all the ‘upset’ from such pictures is to simply not look.
    There were those in Galileo’s day who wouldn’t look through the telescope. They found the implications too upsetting.
    Folks, we really must admit we don’t really know what’s going on.
    But it sure is fun to keep looking and thinking and listening to the debates.
    BTW
    RayG says:
    January 26, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center produces science and scientific projects such as the Hubble Telescope and over 30 other space-based sensing platforms. How does a NASA that can produce these often amazing results allow its reputation to be debased by the questionable “temperature” databases that are produced and maintained by GISS?

    Members of the ruling class insisting their agenda be advanced, no matter what the facts are?

  114. I must say, Anthony has created one of the best blog/forums in terms of attracting great people to WUWT.
    I greatly enjoyed all those who posted on this subject, for example. The grace, good humor, very sharp minds, and openess here are very rare compared to other internet sites.
    A few here mentioned Star Trek. But the most important part of the Star Trek theme was not noted…to boldly go where no man has gone before.
    To me, the essence of science is to do just that.
    It can be space or time…or ideas.
    To explore.
    It seems to me that many here have that same attitude.
    Many thanks.

  115. Fascinating article and discussions. But in all of the discussion, I see some pros and cons on the “big bang” theory, but none on any other theories. While the Big Bang is the most popular, the one rub with it is still the singularity. In other words, before the bang, there is nothing to say where, what, how , when or who.
    Personally, while I am no quantum mechanic, I think the Brane (or n-Brane) theory has some flash to it. It basically uses known physics laws to explain the origin of the universe. But as with all theories, it still has that “leap of faith” aspect to it – there is as yet no way to prove the existence of multiple n-verses.
    My hope for mankind is he gets wise enough one day to prove or disprove the theories of the origin of the universe. I could never be a cat since I am just too damn curious!

  116. I have often pondered the BB. I understand the observation is that the expansion of the universe is increasing in speed over time. What I wonder though is will we ever reach an equilibrium so to speak where expansion slows and eventually stops and then the collective gravity of the universe takes over. Thus sending everything in reverse to an eventual big crunch. Much like shooting a bullet in the air. It seems to just keep going but eventually it will come down. If this is not the case then why the BB in the first place? Why was all the matter in the universe all in one spot? One explanation could be that all the matter in the universe came from another universe where all matter is that dense and some squeezed into our existence. Now existing in a universe where it has room to expand it does so. Of course I have no proof of anything. I simply have my ponderings. The point I make now is that I enjoy thinking about such things and that is what is important to me. Seeing other views gives me new ways to think which also brings me pleasure. Thank you Anthony for giving me one more reason to smile today.
    William

  117. Smokey says:
    January 26, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    “Math problem here. If the universe was only 480 million years old then how is 13.2 billion years, 3% of the age of the universe???”
    May be a typo. Maybe a 9 was left off; 93%?

    No necessarily and most likely neither a math problem nor a typo.
    The way I read that is that it that the 480 million years comprise the age of the universe when the galaxy UDFj-39546284 came into existence. With a bit of rounding error, 480 million years work out to about 3 percent of the age of the universe since the big bang, with the remaining 13.2 billion years since the origin of star formation in the galaxy UDFj-39546284 comprising the other 97 percent of the age of the universe.

  118. The first thing you want to look for when you see a high redshift object/quasar is a nearby galaxy that has an active center.
    Next, look along the axis of the galaxy for another quasar. Lots of luck with that though because the pictures which show these kinds of relationships between galaxies and quasars are always cropped. The observations which Halton Arp made during his decades-long career as an astronomer show that quasars occur in pairs along the axis’ of galaxies, like this: Image: http://www.haltonarp.com/illustrations/arphf2
    The next inquiry to make is into the redshifts of the twin quasars. The z values match closely, even when there are several pairs located with the same galaxy of origin. Truly fascinating is that the redshifts occur in discrete quantum values.
    Image: http://www.haltonarp.com/illustrations/arphf6
    Some have asked what difference it makes. This is a surprising, undreamt of picture of the universe based on observation and empirical evidence that show that “galaxies aren’t just these quiescent star piles” as Dr. Arp puts it. They are ejecting radio lobes, jets of relativistic material extending for millions of light years, and quasars. According to Halton Arp and Electric Universe proponents, there is a strong case that can be made that the quasars ejected from galaxies evolve into galaxies. Redshift= youthful matter.

  119. To Zeke the Sneak
    Are you saying that it appears that quasars could possibly be acting like offspring of galaxies, and in turn becoming galaxies?
    And in turn those further galaxies have more offspring in quasar form, and so on and so on.
    In other words, is it possible that parts of the ‘observed universe’ are ‘reproducing’ in a manner not dissimilar to ‘reproduction’ by people and other such creatures?
    If so, then I would go along with that observation.
    My gut feel has always been that the ‘universe’ is actually a living thing of a sort, rather than the big machine that mainstream science tries to model it as.

  120. Re: “Truly fascinating is that the redshifts occur in discrete quantum values.”
    Minor correction, which is worth mentioning: The *raw* redshift value appears to possess a quantized *component*. In other words, there exists separate velocity and quantized components to the total raw redshift value. And these quantized values appear to jump through a very specific sequence of values (!). We are most likely seeing some sort of quantum effect scaled up to astrophysical scales (Wal Thornhill has ideas on what’s going on …).
    This is worth mentioning because it seems to be lost on some of Arp’s critics. There is actually a paper floating around which claims to contradict Arp’s observations of quantization, but it does so by ignoring the fact that the raw value also has a velocity component (!). It appears that rigor is not so important when the point of the paper is to disprove an against-the-mainstream idea.
    Now, to provide some context, critics generally point to problems with Arp’s statistics, which I presume correlate the active galaxies to the quasar ejecta. This is the exact same strategy which has been deployed against Gerrit Verschuur’s numerous correlations between interstellar HI hydrogen filaments and WMAP hotspots. Whether or not it is the intention, arguments over statistics appear to be very effective at inducing disinterest in the controversy. After all, there is a large segment of our professional scientific institution who lack the interest in statistics necessary to guarantee that they are properly applied to their own papers.
    But, Arp’s statistical work does not constitute the entirety of his argument. There are also the images of quasars in front of galaxies (which we are told by conventional theorists are shining through the galaxy), as well as numerous images of filamentary bridges connecting high-redshift quasars to nearby energetic galaxies.
    A huge part of what creates all of this controversy is that many of these now-famous bridges are either cropped out of the popular APOD images, or the spectra which shows them are not shown (Stephan’s Quintet being the most famous example). How can we even have a logical conversation about this controversy if the imagery is being toyed with to suit the dismissals?
    And as I’ve stated previously, the freely available documentary “Universe — the Cosmology Quest” serves as an excellent introduction to the Arp story.
    Perhaps one of the best summaries of the controversy — from the EU perspective — is Don Scott’s here:
    http://www.electric-cosmos.org/arp.htm
    (This is also one of the very few places on the web where Stephan’s Quintet can be observed without cropping, and with connecting filaments.)
    As you guys read through this stuff, I urge you to contemplate the response you see from conventional thinkers in online forums to Arp’s claims. If you are objective and honest, you will at a minimum see controversy here. There is certainly enough evidence for funding this new line of investigation.
    We must all keep in mind that Arp — unlike his critics — is not driven by ideology. He merely stumbled upon proof that redshift is more complicated than conventional theory would have us believe, and he has decided to take a stand on this point, in hopes that it will attract more attention to the issue. That his *observations* discredit 60 years of conventional cosmological thinking is merely a byproduct of his research. He did not propose a model which demanded quantized redshifts, and then engage in a search to prove his model. This is an important distinction between him and his critics.
    I feel disgusted every time that I think about the treatment he has received. He’s a true hero for standing up for what he believes. Those who dismiss him without digesting the entire controversy are perhaps well-meaning thinkers. But well-meaning people can in fact do great harm. They should allow this debate to take center stage in public awareness, so that the public can make up their own minds. There’s just so much money and time at stake here. If there is even a SLIVER of chance that he is right, then the Big Bang is possibly a mistaken thought experiment, and every day that goes by is lost time and money.
    The skeptics among us should realize that this is one of the most critical debates in science today. Literally billions of dollars and the future of science itself is at stake. And yet, what you see amongst conventional theorists is a blatant desire to avoid discussion of the controversy. They repeatedly discuss Arp in terms which are designed to sweep him under the rug. It appears to me that they are prioritizing their quest to prove the Big Bang over the task we gave them — which was an honest investigation of the universe.

  121. The light we see now is billions of years old. For all we know there is a giant neon “eat at Joes” sigh hanging over that galaxy.

  122. this stuff is always amusing to read but the ‘big bang’ is not really a physical theory it is a logical theory….an inconsistent logical theory. like string theory, these guys are not talking about actual empirical objects, they are talking about theoretical objects.
    like their fuzzy galaxy…if i look through my $200 dollar burris at a milk jug at 800m, it looks just like that galaxy. however, through my buddies $1500 optics of the same magnification, it looks like a milk jug. but it is the same milk jug.
    and i can still put a round through it with my $200 burris 😉

  123. Chris Reeve says:
    January 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm
    This is worth mentioning because it seems to be lost on some of Arp’s critics. There is actually a paper floating around which claims to contradict Arp’s observations of quantization, but it does so by ignoring the fact that the raw value also has a velocity component (!).
    Thanks for that point. I understand there are some who have made the appearance of taking apart Arp’s work through use of statistics. I made an attempt over on tallbloke’s to analyze one of the papers; what they have done is take away the quasars from their parent galaxies and average them, among other hat tricks. Look here for the discussion and links to that abstract, and a few paragraphs from Halton Arp’s book, Seeing Red:
    http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/new-cosmological-model-bye-bye-big-bang/#comment-1831
    But even if one has no time to check the quantization issue or the velocity component, just look at the pictures! What are the chances that these quasars are falling along the axis of these galaxies in pairs, with similar redshifts, and yet are supposed to be receeding millions of light years behind the galaxy? What are the chances? Arp’s Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies has 333 celestial examples. There are even bridges in x-ray between galaxies and quasars. So even one example falsifies the redshift = distance. It topples decades upon decades of astronomical assumptions.
    And it poses some questions in physics for why quasars exhibit such intrinsic quantized redshifts. They need to get to work.

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