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(Berkeley Lab)   If you've been lying awake at night wondering if Earth is passing through walls of dark matter or dark energy into different domains of space, don't worry - scientists are every bit as wacko as you are   (newscenter.lbl.gov) divider line 78
    More: Strange, dark matter, dark energy, mass-energy, Earth, magnetometers, physics, speeds, Department of Physics  
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3166 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Jan 2013 at 8:13 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-08 11:20:21 AM  

dbirchall: Type Ia supernovae do not make good laboratory test subjects.


You're just in the wrong lab.

/me too
 
2013-01-08 11:21:38 AM  

jfarkinB: dbirchall: Type Ia supernovae do not make good laboratory test subjects.

You're just in the wrong lab.

/me too


Well... you kind of need a new lab each time.

/and a new planet, and a new star system, and a new nearby stellar neighborhood...
 
2013-01-08 11:23:37 AM  

Vegan Meat Popsicle: I hate when I see a term like "domain wall" in a story, think "oh cool", then hit Wikipedia for more info only to be thumped in the head with a bunch of mathematical gobbledygook like "topological solitions" and "discrete symmetry"...


That's because theoretical physicists suck at English. They speak math. That's why your Feynmans are so rare.
 
2013-01-08 11:54:08 AM  

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: As an example of a reasonably intelligent and educated human being, at some point, after reading 20 or so books on cosmology by various authors, I am inexorably drawn to the conclusion that much of it is based on a "house of cards" model.


So let me get this straight:

You think that because the mathematics behind modern cosmology isn't as easy to understand as e=mc2, then it must be bullshiat? In other words, things must be simple enough for YOU to accept or else they're wrong?

That's an interesting take on the Anthropic Principle. So tell me: Why do you presume that the Universe is under any obligation to validate your capacity to comprehend its properties?
 
2013-01-08 12:55:00 PM  

Ishkur: Just Another OC Homeless Guy: As an example of a reasonably intelligent and educated human being, at some point, after reading 20 or so books on cosmology by various authors, I am inexorably drawn to the conclusion that much of it is based on a "house of cards" model.

So let me get this straight:

You think that because the mathematics behind modern cosmology isn't as easy to understand as e=mc2, then it must be bullshiat? In other words, things must be simple enough for YOU to accept or else they're wrong?

That's an interesting take on the Anthropic Principle. So tell me: Why do you presume that the Universe is under any obligation to validate your capacity to comprehend its properties?


Penn and Teller have been around for many, many years. Penn has his own podcast now, and has made some interesting friends over the years. Many of his friends are scientists.

Penn took one of these friends, although he wouldn't say who (but it was probably Feynman), to a magic show. The magician on stage did a levitation routine. It's a fairly famous trick in the biz and looks very convincing. His physicist friend starts freaking out about the danger of such a large volume of liquid nitrogen and electricity they'd need to run the superconductor magnets to levitate an adult male being located under the stage with so many people without protective gear in the same room. An insane conclusion about the trick that could only be reached by a physicist. In fact, it was wires. Simple strong wires.

That's the major problem with theoretical physics today. Scientists have a very single minded approach and with cosmology, there's very little chance to verify anything with experiments, so it all keeps building and building and building based on what the physicists know, which is math. What's actually happening is just pure speculation based on observation. Every new observation changes the math, but until we get some experiments in we'll never know. But Ockam's Razor is sharp as ever and it's highly unlikely in a universe as vast and complex as ours that our physicists in the 2000's are any closer to ultimate truth in their speculations than those of the 1900's or the 1800's were. The next discovery will turn it all on its ear, as is always the case.
 
2013-01-08 12:55:07 PM  
i recently watched a video about some eggheads essentially "mapping" dark matter. (the video was from the BBC Horizon series and has since been removed from youtube.)

anyway, from what i recall, there are currently experiments that can "see" giant blobs of dark matter via gravitational lensing. the scientists featured in this video were doing just that - mapping out dark matter by measuring the way the light from distant objects is "bent" when traversing areas where dark matter was concentrated.

/amateur youtube physicist/cosmologist
 
2013-01-08 01:45:27 PM  

doglover: Penn and Teller have been around for many, many years.


Well, that makes them totally legit.

doglover: Penn took one of these friends, although he wouldn't say who


Yeah, completely legit.

doglover: An insane conclusion about the trick that could only be reached by a physicist.


Oh, of course.

I don't get Penn & Teller, much less everyone's obsession with their shtick.  When they de-bunk something it's either something everyone else has already de-bunked or a highly scripted "shoot the messenger" fallacy.  Basically, being a sarcastic smartass for a living gets you unquestioning Fark hero worship.  George Carlin is also a Fark favorite and damn if he doesn't have a few quotable lines, but I'd bet if we ran the country based on his "policies" I doubt Kim Jong-un could sink the country faster.  Yet this community would probably vote him President if he was still alive and on the ballot.
 
2013-01-08 01:55:57 PM  

doglover: Scientists have a very single minded approach and with cosmology, there's very little chance to verify anything with experiments, so it all keeps building and building and building based on what the physicists know, which is math. What's actually happening is just pure speculation based on observation. Every new observation changes the math, but until we get some experiments in we'll never know. But Ockam's Razor is sharp as ever and it's highly unlikely in a universe as vast and complex as ours that our physicists in the 2000's are any closer to ultimate truth in their speculations than those of the 1900's or the 1800's were.


The only people I know who do that are string theorists.

But to throw your hands in the air and claim that they're just monkeying around with numbers and the CMBR is doing a serious discredit to modern cosmology. The truth is they might not have the complete big picture but they know they're on the right track. And the silver bullet example of this is the higgs-boson. It was predicted nearly 50 years ago through nothing but math. And the math said that if we build a particle collider powerful enough we would be able to detect it, and now, finally, the technology caught up with the prediction enough to verify. That's the essence of science.

No, we're not going to be able to experiment on the Theory of Everything in that manner, but that's okay because not all science is experimental. In fact, quite a great deal of it is deductive. We look at the available evidence and come up with hypothesis' for why it's so (no police detective witnesses a murder firsthand but cases still get solved). But the only true way to express it is through math because the Universe is just too weird to be explained through words (so reading a book on the subject is a terrible substitute. It will give you the gist, sure, but it cuts a lot of corners. That's why book form is the lowest form of science. It must be done, for the sake of the populace, but it's generally not how scientists explain their findings)

A good example of this is the computation of the orbit of Mercury. Around the turn of the last century, scientists noticed that its orbit was perturbed very very slightly (like off by about 43 milliseconds per revolution or something), and we didn't understand why. For awhile we speculated that there must have been another planet or asteroid nearby tentatively named Vulcan that was tugging on Mercury and being responsible for the perturbation, but that didn't make sense because it didn't factor into any other orbits or equations.

It was Einstein who figured it out: The sun's gravity well was tugging on the light reflecting off Mercury, throwing our observations off. This was the smoking gun that gave credence to the Theory of Relativity.

It's stuff like this that cosmologists look at: Evidence, build a basis off the evidence, and then build a basis off that basis. Eventually things do get extremely theoretical and abstract the further you get from the source, but they are still based on real evidence. It's not just all idle speculation.

Cosmologists are on the right track. But you're going to have to be patient -- the answers aren't going to come overnight. Just stay away from the string theorists and the multi-dimensional wackos.
 
2013-01-08 02:17:36 PM  

MrEricSir: How high do you have to get before you can become a theoretical physicist?


Very. These are the people I wish to hang out with, but alas, I am waaay outside their social circles.

So I come to Fark. Boy am I stupid or what?
 
2013-01-08 02:19:40 PM  

Jefferson Biatchmagnet: JolobinSmokin: So thread jack,

I've been inquiring all my friends who America's greatest scientist is/was. All the greats I think about are European, Einstein, Oppenheimer, hawking, and then the really old ones like newton Kepler and so forth, but American?

Is it truly richard feynam, and because he like playing drums and going to strip clubs, we get Sagan and Neil Tyson degrassi instead?

Don't get me wrong I love those guys, but has any American matched feynam?

I need someone smarter than me and closer to the industry to answer that question, could it be dr Watson mapping the human genome, was he even American?

/???

Off the top of my head, there's Linus Pauling, though his later-years obsession with vitamin C seems a little cranky. There's Murray Gell-Mann, arguably a more important theoretical physicist than Feynman (I'm not qualified to actually make that argument one way or another). Ernest Lawrence. Andrew Wiles..nope, British. Donald Knuth? Edwin Hubble. The guy who invented the transistor...Shockley? Just a few names, I'm sure the power of Fark can find more nominees.


Phil Plait!

Kidding but I love that guy.
 
2013-01-08 02:20:54 PM  

Any Pie Left: JolobinSmokin :

Bucky Fuller comes to mind.

Edison.

And Robert Goddard.

The Wrights approached flight as scientists would.


You didn't just say Edison in seriousness did you?

/oh, dear
 
2013-01-08 08:21:15 PM  

simplicimus: log_jammin: Just Another OC Homeless Guy: I read a LOT of layman-oriented stuff on cosmology. And I've got a pretty good nose for detecting bullshiat, and for reading between the lines. I'm beginning to get the impression that some of the people writing these books are throwing together string, baling wire, gum and duct tape in an effort to reduce the possibility of a First Cause to zero.

To avoid having to deal with the issue, they create invisible, omnipresent, and extremely powerful forces and entities that they really can't prove exist (gee, does THAT sound familiar?), except to say "Well, uh, those have to exist for the theory to work."

That, IMHO, is not good science.


have you explored the possibility that instead of them making things up to avoid "the issue", that perhaps you just don't understand what they're talking about? because that would seem to be much more likely.

The problem is these mathematically derived concepts are not empirically verifiable (yet). That leads to a certain skepticism.


This is partially true. That is, the lack of empirical verification partly contributes to the skepticism. The lack of simple explanations contributes the rest. The challenge is to weigh the various factors and not dismiss the concept out of hand due to a (possibly incorrectly) perceived wealth of weasel-words.
 
2013-01-08 08:28:43 PM  

log_jammin: simplicimus: The problem is these mathematically derived concepts are not empirically verifiable (yet). That leads to a certain skepticism.

skepticism is great. The problem is, in this country too many people have this idea that Bob the sanitation guy's opinion on quantum mechanics is just as valid as the opinion of a scientist with a PhD in the field. That's how you get the type of "skepticism" where a guy who reads "a LOT of layman-oriented stuff on cosmology" comes to the conclusion that scientists just make stuff up in order to "avoid having to deal with the issue", whatever that means. It's that very mindset that gives us creationists and the people who let them get away with it.


Please don't put words into my mouth, or falsely generalize my statements.
 
2013-01-08 09:04:34 PM  

The All-Powerful Atheismo: Just Another OC Homeless Guy: Suckmaster Burstingfoam: In all seriousness, does anyone in cosmology really take this dark matter /dark energy crap seriously?

I mean, nobody knows what they are or what they're made of, nor can anyone prove their existence by experiment.

Isn't it all kind of luminiferous-aether-y?

I read a LOT of layman-oriented stuff on cosmology. And I've got a pretty good nose for detecting bullshiat, and for reading between the lines. I'm beginning to get the impression that some of the people writing these books are throwing together string, baling wire, gum and duct tape in an effort to reduce the possibility of a First Cause to zero.

To avoid having to deal with the issue, they create invisible, omnipresent, and extremely powerful forces and entities that they really can't prove exist (gee, does THAT sound familiar?), except to say "Well, uh, those have to exist for the theory to work."

That, IMHO, is not good science.

Of course nobody anywhere is saying that invisible dark matter definitely exists, in fact there are several competing ideas. Dark matter just happens to be the one that fits best right now.

i.e. stfu and deal with it or come up with a theory on your own that explains the galaxy's rotational velocity.


What I question is not the theory, but the manner of presenting it. The presentation, unfortunately, fosters a certain amount of suspicion because all too often it seems as if it is made deliberately intelligible to the layman. And - please - don't give me the song and dance about "some things cannot be understood unless you have had 12 years of advanced mathematics." That is waaaayyyyyy too similar to "some things cannot be understood unless you have been anointed into the Priesthood."

(There are, unfortunately, some "scientists" who, possibly sensing a never-ending gravy train of long term employment, are working mightily to turn science into an abortion that has all the psychological, public relations, and "holy mystery" trappings of religion.)

If something is true i.e.( internally AND externally consistent), it can - with sufficient effort - be explained simply and clearly.

blog.tmcnet.com
If the explanation is not simple and clear, then one of two (or both) things have happened: it is NOT true, or the speaker/writer is confused and not a good spokesperson for the concept.
 
2013-01-08 09:21:51 PM  

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: And - please - don't give me the song and dance about "some things cannot be understood unless you have had 12 years of advanced mathematics.


Just Another OC Homeless Guy: If something is true i.e.( internally AND externally consistent), it can - with sufficient effort - be explained simply and clearly.


Don't you think learning the math could be considered "sufficient effort" towards understanding what the math says? It seems like you're trying to make the universe fit into what you expect of it.

Since you quoted him, do you think Einstein was incapable of understanding the spooky action at a distance? Or the statistical nature of quantum mechanics?
 
2013-01-08 11:59:06 PM  

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: If the explanation is not simple and clear, then one of two (or both) things have happened: it is NOT true, or the speaker/writer is confused and not a good spokesperson for the concept.


Some true things are not simple. You can explain aspects of them simply and clearly, but not the whole.

Here's another quote attributed to Albert Einstein: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler."
 
2013-01-09 01:23:09 AM  

sxacho: Don't you think learning the math could be considered "sufficient effort" towards understanding what the math says?


Would you go to Tibet and join a monastery for 4 years before talking about religion? No? Would you go to France for 4 years and study at Cordon Bleu before commenting on the flavor of your dinner? No? Would you go to the military and sign up for 4 years before weighing in on guns or war? No? Then you're a hypocrite to say it require collegiate level math education to understand your explanations.

If you can't describe your theory without using math, you can't describe your theory. Them's the breaks. There's plenty of scientists who are able to describe things without using the math. I've talked with them in person and watched videos of their lectures. If you can't do that, you shouldn't be talking or writing on Wikipedia, you should be practicing English because you seem to have forgotten it somewhere between dx/dy and dy/dx.
 
2013-01-09 02:01:31 AM  

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: Please don't put words into my mouth, or falsely generalize my statements.


I didn't.
 
2013-01-09 02:03:32 AM  

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: If something is true i.e.( internally AND externally consistent), it can - with sufficient effort - be explained simply and clearly.


Your inability to understand something does not make it true or false. It just means you don't understand it.
 
2013-01-09 02:29:27 AM  
"if?"
 
2013-01-09 07:58:15 AM  

doglover: If you can't describe your theory without using math, you can't describe your theory. Them's the breaks.


I'll agree that you should be able to describe it without using math. But I would also suggest that any such description might be limited to a broad oversimplification which can lead a layperson to draw incorrect conclusions based on incomplete information. Books or lectures written for the common man leave a lot to be desired compared to an actual academic treatment of some of this weird physics stuff.
 
2013-01-09 11:13:53 PM  

Ishkur: Just Another OC Homeless Guy: reduce the possibility of a First Cause to zero.

There was no First Cause and they're not looking for one. That is a fallacious argument.

/The laws of causality aren't actual physics laws. They're only used in philosophy and they are predicated on an absolute temporal constant. But we know that time is not absolute or constant; it is relative and predicated on velocity. So asserting cause and effect is a meaningless conjecture.


Really! So you could, say, put a loaded gun to your head and pull the trigger and nothing would happen?

Oh, wait, you must mean on the quantum scale! Oh, but wait, then where does apparent macro-scale cause and effect come from? Are you suggesting some kind of synergistic effect that converts non-causal random action to defined causal action?
 
2013-01-09 11:15:07 PM  

Ishkur: Just Another OC Homeless Guy: reduce the possibility of a First Cause to zero.

There was no First Cause and they're not looking for one. That is a fallacious argument.

/The laws of causality aren't actual physics laws. They're only used in philosophy and they are predicated on an absolute temporal constant. But we know that time is not absolute or constant; it is relative and predicated on velocity. So asserting cause and effect is a meaningless conjecture.



Addendum:

Oh, and when are you receiving your Nobel Prize for invalidating Newton's and Einstein's laws?
 
2013-01-09 11:27:16 PM  

Ishkur: Just Another OC Homeless Guy: As an example of a reasonably intelligent and educated human being, at some point, after reading 20 or so books on cosmology by various authors, I am inexorably drawn to the conclusion that much of it is based on a "house of cards" model.

So let me get this straight:

You think that because the mathematics behind modern cosmology isn't as easy to understand as e=mc2, then it must be bullshiat? In other words, things must be simple enough for YOU to accept or else they're wrong?

That's an interesting take on the Anthropic Principle. So tell me: Why do you presume that the Universe is under any obligation to validate your capacity to comprehend its properties?


I'm an accountant by trade, and if I wanted to I could give a lecture on GAAP/FASB/FASP pronouncements, presenting them in such a way as to baffle the best minds out there.... IF they assumed as a starting point that I was honestly presenting the subject matter and that "it's just too complex for non-accountants to understand." Sorry, I call shenanigans. A true fact in ANY field can - with enough effort - be clearly explained to lay persons.

I remember one time I conducted a seminar on a new automated distribution system that was being implemented. The audience consisted of 175 warehouse workers, NONE of whom had any college and many of which hadn't even graduated high school. Plus, about 10% of them spoke only limited English. The goal was to get the radically different system up with minimal confusion. Management was totally convinced that the only way to do it was to turn everyone into a robot, with "programmed" tasks. A combination of layered flowcharts, written procedure if-thens, and a 3 hour q&a proved them wrong.
 
2013-01-09 11:32:25 PM  

log_jammin: Just Another OC Homeless Guy: If something is true i.e.( internally AND externally consistent), it can - with sufficient effort - be explained simply and clearly.

Your inability to understand something does not make it true or false. It just means you don't understand it.


First rule of Communications 101: The responsibility to be understood is on the shoulders of the speaker.

My inability to understand something may mean that I haven't studied the issue enough... or it may also mean that the speaker either can't or won't present the "facts" in such a way as to make them understandable.

I'm smart enough and I've read enough - and I read between the lines well enough - to know when I'm being conned. Case in point: the Krauss book I mentioned. And my conclusions are backed up by others.
 
2013-01-09 11:40:48 PM  
What I find fascinating in this thread is all the hate, name-calling and generally childish behavior on the part of those who are DEFENDING SCIENCE! from alleged know-nothings and morons like myself.

The first sign to 3rd parties watching an argument that one of the two people is in the wrong is generally that one of them gets angry, starts calling names, and stops acting like an adult.
 
2013-01-10 01:57:30 AM  

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: First rule of Communications 101: The responsibility to be understood is on the shoulders of the speaker.


This isn't communications class. This is science class, and you are home schooling yourself.

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: My inability to understand something may mean that I haven't studied the issue enough... or it may also mean that the speaker either can't or won't present the "facts" in such a way as to make them understandable.


and one is a lot more likely that the other.

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: Case in point: the Krauss book I mentioned. And my conclusions are backed up by others.


yes. many amazon reviewers agree with you. That's KINDA like your work being published in a peer reviewed journal. kinda...
 
2013-01-10 12:01:44 PM  

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: Really! So you could, say, put a loaded gun to your head and pull the trigger and nothing would happen?


No, I would kill myself, but that's not because the laws of causality, that's because of the laws of motion, the laws of kinematics and the laws of thermodynamics (chiefly the law of conservation of energy).

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: Oh, wait, you must mean on the quantum scale! Oh, but wait, then where does apparent macro-scale cause and effect come from? Are you suggesting some kind of synergistic effect that converts non-causal random action to defined causal action?


When we're talking about the beginning of the Universe, which is where you want to assert the First Cause fallacy, all that exists is at the quantum level, therefore we must use quantum laws to describe what's happening. There is no macro level to describe or even quantify the Universe at that point.

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: I'm an accountant by trade, and if I wanted to I could give a lecture on GAAP/FASB/FASP pronouncements, presenting them in such a way as to baffle the best minds out there


That's completely irrelevant to whether your understanding something lends credence to its validity. The Universe is under no obligation to explain for you in neat and succinct terms exactly how its faculties work. If you have a problem understanding something, you cannot dismiss it as bullshiat. In fact, your skepticism should compel you to learn more about it and, if it is indeed bullshiat as you suspect, you should be able to attack it and see flaws in its assertions. You have yet to do so.

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: I'm smart enough and I've read enough - and I read between the lines well enough - to know when I'm being conned


In what way? Please explain.
 
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