From Hilbert Space to Dilbert Space

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No Big Bang? Not so fast....

There have been a number of stories like Theory suggests universe without Big Bang in the media.

The new cosmology developed by Wun-Yi Shu of the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan also paints a picture of a universe with no beginning and no end.

This sounds like what in my youth was known as the Steady State Theory. As reported, the story is an example of ways in which scientific findings are reported and distorted by the media.

There are two basic problems

  1. The problem Shu is concerned about does not exist.

    His model preserves conservation of energy, which does not hold in conventional cosmology. The ABC story makes it look like this is a big deal. In fact conventional cosmology is based on Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, in which energy is not conserved (I linked to that article here). Conservation of Energy is true in our ordinary experience, and indeed in most of physics. It need not hold when the effects of General Relativity are dominant. This has been known since the 1920's.

  2. Shu's model does not account for the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.

    This is not a trivial point. The CMBR has been known for 41 years. In all that time only the Big Bang theory has been able to account for the observations of it. The most fundamental principle of science is that theories are tested by observations, and the ABC article did not mention that Shu's model does not explain anything about the CMBR. To its credit Technology Review did, although one of their commenters scolded them about the Energy Conservation issue.

So, we have a media fuss about a "theory" that (1) Deals with a non-existent problem, and (2) Has nothing to say about extensive observations that the conventional theory accounts for very well. One of the commenters in Skepchick found a tweet about it from Sean Carroll, author of the article I referenced above: "it's not very interesting." He is being more polite than Wolfgang Pauli, who once said about an unclear theory: Das ist nicht nur nicht richtig, es ist nicht einmal falsch! "Not only is it not right, it's not even wrong!".


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