Did aliens hack the Voyager 2 space probe in 2010?

I don’t know how I missed this news item back from 2010! Then NASA reported a single bit-flip error occurred in Voyager 2’s software code used to communicate with Earth. That sounds pretty mundane in today’s IT savvy world where we are all used to software errors and corrupt code.

Artist's concept of Voyager in flight.

Artist’s concept of Voyager 2 in flight.

But sometime the corruption of code is due to deliberate interference. Hackers hack into computers everyday for fun or more nefarious reasons. In this instance several scientists suggested that the on-board computer was hacked by an alien race (from another star system) who were trying to communicate with us.

But note the Voyager 2 space craft at that time was nearly about to cross over into what we would call interstellar space. It was about to leave the solar system in 2010 at a distance of 90 times the distance between the sun and the earth. That is about 8.6 billion miles or about 14 billion kms. That means it takes a light signal nearly 13 hours, travelling at nearly 300,000 km/s, to travel from the space probe to Earth. For NASA to send and receive a signal that would take twice that time, nearly 26 hours. It is certainly at a distance where one can easily discount any Earth based hacker.

The following is excerpted an online news item from 6 years ago and is typical of the several available.1

NASA space probe Voyager 2, which left earth 33 years ago, may have been hijacked by aliens who are now trying to make contact with earth according to a German academic.

The craft, which is 8.6 billion miles from earth on the very edge of the solar system, has been sending back data ever since it was launched – until last month when it briefly stopped transmitting before starting to send strange messages that scientists cannot decipher.

German academic Hartwig Hausdorf believes the change could be down to extraterrestrials. He says that because the rest of the spacecraft is still working normally there may be more to the cryptic messages than meets the eye.

“It seems almost as if someone has reprogrammed or hijacked the probe,” he told German newspaper Bild. “Thus perhaps we do not yet know the whole truth.”

NASA was much more circumspect stating that they believe it was due to this one corrupt bit of code. That may have occurred due to radiation in space or impact by a highly energetic particle which flipped the bit. Continue reading

The problem with science is that so much of it simply isn’t

This is the opening sentence in an article titled “Scientific Regress” by William Wilson.The article is about science and the repeatability of scientific results in the published literature. (Indented paragraphs are quoted from this article, unless otherwise referenced.)

Scientific claims rest on the idea that experiments repeated under nearly identical conditions ought to yield approximately the same results, but until very recently, very few had bothered to check in a systematic way whether this was actually the case.

A group called Open Science Collaboration (OSC) tried to check claims by replicating results of certain science experiments. They checked one hundred published psychology experiments and found 65% failed to show any statistical significance on replication, and many of the remainder showed greatly reduced effect sizes. The OSC group even used original experimental materials, and sometimes performed the experiments under the guidance of the original researchers.

They found though that the problem was not just in the area of psychology, which I don’t even consider hard science anyway.

In 2011 a group of researchers at Bayer decided looked at 67 recent drug discovery projects based on preclinical cancer biology research. They found that in more than 75% of cases they could not replicate the published data. And these data were published in reputable journals including Science, Nature, and Cell.nature

The author suggested that the reason many new drugs were ineffective may possibly be because the research on which they were based was invalid.  This was considered the reason for the failure–the original findings are false.

Then there is the issue of fraud.

In a survey of two thousand research psychologists conducted in 2011, over half of those surveyed admitted outright to selectively reporting those experiments which gave the result they were after.

This involves experimenter bias. The success of a research program might be all that is required for success in the next funding round. So, what might start as just a character weakness in the experimenter ends up being outright fraud. The article states that many have no qualms in

… reporting that a result was statistically significant when it was not, or deciding between two different data analysis techniques after looking at the results of each and choosing the more favorable.

Continue reading

Comets, the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud

Abstract: With the development of modern space-based telescopes and the past decade or more of collection of data on both comets and celestial bodies found to orbit the sun at distance greater than that of the planet Neptune, a review of the current data suggests that there can be no longer any doubt that the Kuiper belt does exist. Though, the objects contained therein probably more rightly should be called Trans-Neptunian objects because there is no reason that the solar system ends at Neptune and a new region of space begins. However, there is no evidence that the putative Oort exists. The Kuiper belt was originally believed to be the primary source, from which the Oort cloud was populated, over the alleged 4.6 billion year history since our solar system formed. The latter still has not been found, yet it is critically needed as the only source of long-period comets for the uniformitarian theory.  However, I suggest that the existence of short-period comets as a young solar system argument may no longer be tenable.  (Accepted September 21, 2016, published January 17, 2017 in Creation Research Society Quarterly 53:5–13, 2016, PDF with colour figures.)

——————————————————————————————————————————

Comets were once thought to be atmospheric phenomena, and there was a time when they were believed to be harbingers of doom.1 Comets are now known to be dirty balls of ices and dust and some even icy dirt balls.2 They travel into the inner solar system displaying, in some cases spectacularly, their long tails, which comprise escaping gas and dust, sublimating3 from their icy surface. This display gets stronger as they approach the sun where the sun’s radiation has a very strong effect on the volatile chemicals in the ball of ice. Driven away from the sun, by radiation pressure and the solar wind, this loss of material depletes the mass of the comet. Some comets have relatively short orbital periods of less than 200 years, whereas others have periods much longer than 200 years. This has become a convenient basis for classifying a comet short-period or long-period. However the more significant criteria of classification is their orbital characteristics: inclination and whether prograde or retrograde in their orbital trajectories.

fig-1

Figure 1: Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) April 30, 2013. The comet was 3.9 AU (580 million km) from the sun and 4.3 AU (640 million km) from Earth. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

The Bible gives an age of the solar system and the universe of around 6000 years, but the nebular hypothesis proposes that the solar system began condensing from a giant collapsing cloud of molecular hydrogenand dust about 5 billion years ago and the material of comets formed about 4.6 billion years ago. However, based on the known loss rate of the material from observed comets, there should be no short period comets left.5,6

A typical comet (5 – 10 km in diameter) has a mass of 5 – 10 × 1014 kg. That may seem like a lot but comets lose tens of tons of material per second on approach to the sun. The comet Halley at its peak loss rate loses about 54 tons/second of gas including gas from volatile ices, at a distance of about 1 AU7 from the sun. Assuming the process only occurs during one third of its orbit—the portion when it is closest to the sun—a comet loses about 5.7 × 1011 kg/passage, which means it could only survive 95 passages around the sun before there is no matter left.8

Assuming that a comet is sourced from the original material from the creation of the solar system, if it passes the sun once in 200 years it could only pass 30 times in the biblical lifetime of the solar system, which is completely within expectation. In fact, it would only be 30% depleted of its initial mass. That means it still has 65 more passages left before all the material from its nucleus would be lost. But how could it pass 25 million times as required in the uniformitarian lifetime of the solar system? There is the problem. Why do short-period comets still exist if the nebular hypothesis is the true description of the formation of the solar system? Quite obviously this problem does not exist for the biblical creationist.

Long-period comets might have a period from a hundred thousand years up to a million years, it is alleged. But if they too can only survive 95 passages around the sun, they have at most only 95 million years of total life.9 So, why are there still any long-period comets? From the perspective of the uniformitarian nebular hypothesis, where do they come from? Continue reading

The Fingers of God effect: Not evidence for a geocentric universe

Abstract: When looking at large scale maps of the distribution of galaxies around our position is space it may be noticed that there seem to be finger like structures of these galaxies pointing back at the earth. This is called the Fingers of God (FOG) effect.  Some creationists have attempted to use this as an argument for an absolute geocentric universe. But the FOG effect can be simply explained by reasonable assumptions on the dynamics of galaxies within their clusters. Therefore it would be very naïve to use it as evidence in support of a galactocentric universe or an absolute geocentric universe. (This article is somewhat technical. First published in the Journal of Creation 22(2):75-78, 2008; edited here.)

Introduction

fingerofgod

Highlighted in red is a galaxy cluster plotted in direction on the sky and redshift (written in units of velocity (km/s)). The FOG effect is clearly seen in redshift space. Earth is at the apex of the pie slice. The argument is that the FOG effect results only in redshift space and not in real space when the intra-cluster motions of the constituent galaxies are properly taken into account.

On occasion I have heard discussed among creationists, that considered the Fingers of God (FOG) effect as evidence for a galactocentric1 universe and some foolishly even considered it evidence in favour of a geocentric2 universe.  The phenomenon is well known and in Wikipedia it is reported.

“Redshift-space distortions are an effect in observational cosmology where the spatial distribution of galaxies appears squashed and distorted when their positions are plotted in redshift-space (i.e. as a function of their redshift) rather than in real-space (as a function of their actual distance). The effect is due to the peculiar velocities of the galaxies causing a Doppler shift in addition to the redshift caused by the cosmological expansion.”3

From this it would seem that the FOG effect results from Doppler motion of galaxies within their clusters causing a line of sight effect in redshift space4 (explained below), which produces the effect of fingers of galaxies all pointing towards the observer if plotted on a map. But if one realizes that we cannot definitively know how galaxies in the Universe are distributed without making certain assumptions, then how can one use this effect as evidence for a galactocentric universe or even a geocentric universe?

Galaxies clusters are observed with constituent galaxies numbering in the thousands. It does not seem to be unreasonable to assume that within those clusters the galaxies have random orbit trajectories, meaning they orbit around their common centre with different trajectories. Generally clusters appear to be approximately spheroidal or elliptical in shape. And they are believed to be viralised.5  If the mass of the cluster, which includes large quantities of hot intercluster gas comprising about 3 to 4 times the mass of the constituent galaxies, is in hydrodynamic equilibrium then the galaxies are mutually bound to each other. This means on the Hubble timescale or the usually stated age of the universe,6 more than ten billion of years, the cluster will not break up. Using this fact, astrophysicists estimate the dynamical mass of the cluster by either measuring the temperature of the x-ray emitting gas or calculating the dispersion7 of a number of constituent galaxies, which act as tracers. This makes the implicit assumption that the galaxy clusters have had sufficient time in the Universe to come into dynamical equilibrium. Continue reading

Time in the mind of God

A study on 2 Peter 3 – Part II

Part I can be found here.

Possibly one of the most quoted and most widely interpreted verses in the Bible in relation to the chronology of the Bible from Creation to final Judgment is the 8th verse of chapter 3 of Peter’s second epistle (letter).

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.  (my emphasis added in bold)

Some have used this to re-scale the length of the Genesis 1 creation days from 24-hour days to 1000-year days. This feeble effort to try to get the creation chronology of the Bible to fit in with the alleged billions of years of the secular chronology is referred to as the day-age theory. But it makes very little sense as the second part of the verse reverses the order and thus using the same type of logic you would have to say that a 1000 years in the Bible really means a 24-hour day.

673px-aristotle_altemps_inv8575

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition. Credit: Wikipedia (Public domain)

Another problem is an understanding of what time is. Since the Greek thinkers, like Aristotle, time has been given a linear deterministic feature where past, present and future are referred to in a real sequence. But that is not the way the Hebrew mind operated.

God’s consciousness is a world consciousness in which everything that takes place is treasured and held fast in the eternal and is therefore as indestructible as ‘matter’. Without a world consciousness, all the history of humanity and of the universe would end in nothing; for a people, however, for whom life and history is everything, the concept of a divine world consciousness is as necessary as the concept of eternal being was for the Greeks. For the Israelites, the world was transitory, but Jahveh [Jehovah] and his words (and deeds) were eternal (Isaiah 40.8).1

… the Semitic concept of time is closely coincident with that of its content without which time would be quite impossible. The quantity of duration completely recedes behind the characteristic feature that enters with time or advances in it.1 (Emphasis in the original)

… time is for us an abstraction since we distinguish time from the events that occur in time. The ancient Semites did not do this; for them time is determined by its content. Time is the notion of the occurrence; it is the stream of events.1

This verse, 2 Peter 3:8, was written in Greek but by the Apostle Peter, a Hebrew. Therefore we should expect he writes with a Hebrew way of thinking. Reading the verse in context with those that precede it, it simply means that God does not view time the way we do.  In the preceding verses, it is made clear that God is not in a hurry to bring about the promised judgment. Judgment may not happen immediately but it will come at the time appointed. So God was telling the believers back in Peter’s time (and us now by extension) not to be too anxious because the Christ will return at the appointed time.

Considering that God is outside of time He does not view time the way we do. More than that; it is a Greek way of thinking to see time as a linear sequence. This verse reflects a Hebrew way of thinking to see time as the contents of the events themselves. To the earth observers the events may take thousands of years to unfold, in a linear fashion, but to the mind of God, and a Hebrew way of thinking, the events have already happened. They form a whole set, because what God says will happen, in our realm, has already happened for Him. Continue reading

Does the new much-faster-speed-of-light theory fix the big bang’s problems?

A recent paper1 by Niayesh Afshordi and João Magueijo asserts that they have discovered a testable cosmology wherein during a “critical” cosmological phase of the early universe the maximal speed of propagation of matter (and hence light) was enormously much faster than the current speed of light (c) and faster than the speed of gravity, which in Einstein’s theory is the canonical speed c. They revisit what has become to be known as varying speed of light (VSL) models, in contrast to the now popular cosmic inflation models. They believe light travelled much faster just after the big bang than it does now and have developed a mathematical model of a big bang universe only a miniscule fraction of a second after the alleged hot beginning of the Universe.

822px-joao_magueijo_p1020608

João Magueijo at the journée de la Science at the EPFL, 11 November 2005. Credit: Wikipedia

The big bang model has many problems, but the biggest and most difficult to solve is what is known as the ‘horizon problem’.2 Cosmic inflation has been invoked to solve this problem. Afshordi and Magueijo agree that,

… the Big Bang model of the Universe remains an unfinished work of art. Many of its late-time successes can be traced to the initial conditions postulated for its early stages, and these are put in by hand, without justification, other than to retrofit the data. The main culprit for this shortcoming is the so-called horizon problem: the cosmological structures we observe today span scales that lay outside the ever-shrinking “horizons” of physical contact that plagued the early universe. This precludes a causal explanation for their initial conditions.1 (emphases added)

Cosmologist believe that structure in the universe was seeded from initial density variations in the early universe. But for structures (clusters of galaxies, for example) to naturalistically form gravity must propagate over the scale of any structure in the timescale available to it at the past epoch when the structures were allegedly built. In addition we observe a uniform temperature across all the sky in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, yet sources on opposite sides of the observable universe have not had time to exchange energy, at the constant speed of light c, in the time available in the big bang universe. That is, they have not had to time to come into thermal equilibrium. These limitations are what are known as ‘horizons’. The major problem with the big bang model is that cosmic inflation scenarios are inserted by hand, to overcome these ‘horizons’ but without any justification for why inflation started and why it stopped. Quite obviously if the speed of light were infinite there would exist no such ‘horizon’ to thermal equilibration of the Universe. Continue reading

Was the earth created from ice?

A study on 2 Peter 3 – Part I

Secular science describes the formation of the planet Earth from a condensation of dust from a solar nebula some 4.6 billion years ago. That alleged orb resulted in a hot rock spinning in space that eventually cooled enough to form oceans about 3.8 billion years ago. The evolutionary origin theory also describe it cooling even further to the point of a “snowball” due to the early faint sun, which presents a paradox. The sun – in its alleged evolution – had much lower power output resulting in at least 20 to 30% less sunlight at the earth’s surface, making subzero surface temperatures, hence entirely ice-covered. In fact, they claim 3 separate periods total glaciation of the planet during its history.

snowball-earth-mit

Snowball Earth. Credit: MIT

What does the Bible tell us, in particular? Let’s look at 2 Peter 3. Continue reading