Is the Universe expanding?

I am often asked this question: Is the Universe expanding?

690958main_p1237a1Previously I have challenged the notion expansion of space or expansion of the Universe as an interpretation of cosmic redshifts. The whole notion is integrally linked with the standard big bang model for the origin and history of the Universe. Also I have written that the interpretation of cosmological redshifts, as resulting from expansion of space, is just another big bang fudge factor. Quite obviously if the Universe is not expanding then there was no big bang. Hence the expanding universe must be vigorously defended by those who hold to such beliefs. Continue reading

Four high redshift quasars puzzle astronomers

A team of astronomers led by Joseph Hennawi of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, using the W.M.  Keck observatory in Hawaii, have discovered the first quadruple quasar: four quasars with approximately the same redshift of about z ~ 2 and located on the sky in close proximity.  The online article1 from Max Planck Institute is titled “Quasar quartet puzzles scientists” with the subtitle “Astronomers must rethink models about the development of large-scale cosmic structures.” This is a discovery of the first known group of four quasars with the same redshift found in the same location on the sky. A research paper has been accepted for publication in the journal Science and a preprint is now available.2

The quartet resides in one of the most massive structures ever discovered in the distant universe, and is surrounded by a giant nebula of cool dense gas. Either the discovery is a one-in-ten-million coincidence, or cosmologists need to rethink their models of quasar evolution and the formation of the most massive cosmic structures.1

4 quasars zoom

Caption from original article: Rare find: This image depicts the region in space with the quadruple quasars. The four quasars are indicated by arrows. The quasars are embedded in a giant nebula of cool dense gas visible in the image as a blue haze. The nebula has an extent of one million light-years across, and these objects are so distant that their light has taken nearly 10 billion years to reach telescopes on Earth. This false color image is based on observations with the 10-m-Keck-telescope on the summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii. Credit: Arrigoni-Battaia & Hennawi / MPIA  (Ref. 1)

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Who says biblical creationists aren’t real scientists?

The claim has been made over and over again that biblical creationists are not real scientists. This has been particularly applied to the natural or physical sciences as compared to the social sciences. Some claim that creationists can’t think properly because of their “distorted” worldview. Thus they can’t do real science. Of course this is all nonsense. Belief in a Creator God does not impede one progress in scientific research but there are many examples where evolutionary beliefs have done so. One example that springs to mind is that of junk DNA, which survived as a scientific concept, at least, partly due to tacit evolutionary assumptions, and as a result very much delayed our understanding of the genome.1

I recently watched a short YouTube film called the “The Truth About PhD Creationists,”which argues along the lines of my opening statement. The author contrasted one measurable metric that might be used to gauge the quality and success of a scientist’s career — his/her publications and their citations — between those of one of the most well-known “big guns” of creation science, Dr D. Russell Humphreys, and that of one of the most well-known atheist personalities Dr Lawrence Krauss.  Both have PhD’s in physics. See the table below reproduced from the YouTube film, with one additional line of data. The table is quite self-explanatory.

The obvious point made is that Humphreys, a biblical creationist, has not published anything like Krauss, a secular atheist. Continue reading

Is mathematics intrinsic to the Universe?

That is an important question. Is mathematics a convenient construct — a human invention — that we humans use to describe nature? Or is mathematics more fundamental — intrinsic to the Universe — mirroring the divine ordered creation of a reasonable logical Creator?

Immutable laws

Theoretical physicist Lee Smolin in his bookTime Reborn” argues that what he calls the Newtonian paradigm is a myth. What he labels the Newtonian paradigm is the attempt by theoretical physicists, beginning with Sir Isaac Newton, to describe the Universe with immutable laws, using a mathematical description. Those laws are unchanging in time, as reflected in the idea that Newton understood the laws of nature as the result of Divine creation and hence that they are unchanging in time. Newton wrote:2

And from true lordship it follows that the true God is living, intelligent, and powerful; from the other perfections, that he is supreme, or supremely perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, he endures from eternity to eternity; and he is present from infinity to infinity; he rules all things, and he knows all things that happen or can happen.

From this standpoint he understood the laws of nature as the special creation of God. These resulted concomitant with the special creation of the Universe itself. The Universe is not the result of blind chance acting on some initial conditions and evolving accordance with those laws. Continue reading