Part 4 of my review of the book: “The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe Itself,” by Sean M. Carroll. Part 3 is found here.
Understanding the World
Carroll devotes a few chapters to assessing how well we understand the world. He introduces us to Rev. Thomas Bayes who, in the latter part of his life, studied probability. He was published posthumously on the subject. His work has become widely used in mathematics, principally statistics, and also in physics. The subject has become to be known as Bayesian inference or Bayesian probability.
Bayes’ main idea involves how to treat the probability of a proposal being correct in the light of new evidence becoming available. In physics we rely on what we already know, or what we think we have established as foundational and we build upon that. When we get new information that could change our view we need to update what we believe is the probability of the hypothesis being correct in light of that new information. That probability is what is called a credence, or the degree of belief that we hold that we are correct.
So Bayesian inference attempts to apply a quantitative value to what we might infer from our attempts to explain the physical world. It is the basis of scientific investigation. In terms of experimental discoveries it is easy to see how this might apply. We can never prove any hypothesis or theory correct. All we can hope to do is update our credence, meaning to increase the probability of a theory being correct. In physics a threshold is established of 5σ (5 sigma) above which it is said that a discovery has been made. Statistically that is like saying there is only 1 in a 3.5 million chance that the signal isn’t real and thus the theory is wrong. That is a very low probability indeed. But some discoveries have been made at the level of 3σ or less.1 I know of one hypothesis that had a 6σ probability yet it turned out to be wrong.2
But things don’t always work out to be correct, even with a statistical probability above 5σ. Any hypothesis may be refuted but it can never be proven. Do you remember the claim of faster than light neutrinos in 2011? The OPERA team’s experimental results indicated a 6σ level of confidence, which is much higher than the 5σ usually required for new particle discoveries. But in the following year, as many expected (because we don’t expect any particle to break the speed of light limit), an error was found in the experimental analysis resulting from a loose fibre optic cable, and that meant those neutrinos obeyed the universal speed limit. When the new information came in the Bayesian credence could be updated to nearly zero. Continue reading
Diminishing solar activity may bring new Ice Age by 2030! This is the headline of the press release from the Lomonosov Moscow State University published online 17 July 2015.1
Figure 1: This image of the Sun was taken by NASA Solar Dynamics Observations mission on 15 July 2015, at a wavelength of 304 Angstroms. Note: No sunspots are visible. Credit: NASA Solar Dynamics Observations.
The arrival of intense cold similar to the one that raged during the “Little Ice Age”, which froze the world during the 17th century and in the beginning of the 18th century, is expected in the years 2030—2040.1
This is the conclusion of research presented at the National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno in Wales, by Professor V. Zharkova (Northumbria University) and a team of other well qualified scientists.
The sun has its own magnetic field, which varies in both amplitude and spatial configuration over time. The changes in the strength of the magnetic fields in the solar atmosphere results in changes of electromagnetic radiation from the sun, changes of the intensity of plasma flows coming to Earth, as well as the number of sunspots appearing in the photosphere (the visible lowest layer of the atmosphere which might be called the surface of the sun). They studied the changes in sunspot number, with a cyclic structure varying approximately every 11 years, which also has an impact on Earth’s environment. Continue reading
Figure 1: A gamma ray and neutron detector on board Dawn was used to determine the elements in the subsurface of the dwarf planet. It found water on the dwarf planet Ceres, located in the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars. Ceres. Credit: LA Times
In a recent LA Times news item it was reported that NASA’s Dawn spacecraft mission found life’s building blocks on the dwarf planet Ceres.1 However, the reality is that all that was found are possibly some biochemical molecules, molecules that are pre-cursor molecules to form the more complex chemistry in living cells.
Organic molecules are carbon based molecules and the chemistry of life is a special subset of those but from the spacecraft data no biochemical molecules were identified. Those would be molecules like carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids.
The news item reports that this new spacecraft
… using its Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer instrument, … has spotted organics lying on the surface.1
That is the only real fact in the report, that organic molecules of some sort have been found on Ceres.
While the scientists aren’t sure exactly what the compounds are, the fingerprint is characteristic of material containing carbon-hydrogen bonds, and may include components like methyl and methylene.1 (emphasis added)
But they don’t even know what the molecules are, and the research is hyped up in hope that scientists may find life–even just microbes–living on worlds other than our own.
We can now add this dwarf planet Ceres to other ‘space rocks’ that have been so hyped in the past few years in the quest to find life out there in the solar system. Examples are Mars,2 Enceladus (the sixth-largest moon of Saturn),3 Titan (the largest moon of Saturn),4,5 Europa (one of the 4 Galilean moons of Jupiter),6 and the asteroids.7 Continue reading
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. Credit: MIT
What does the Bible tell us, in particular? Let’s look at 2 Peter 3. Continue reading
This question surfaces occasionally. I am sent queries sometimes, especially when a creation speaker runs into someone with a background in physics and/or that creationist is challenged as to the plausibility of the model I presented in my book, Starlight Time and the New Physics.
In the book I developed an idea of a cosmological model based on Moshe Carmeli’s Cosmological Relativity theory. I used Carmeli’s cosmology to create a biblical creationist model for the origin of the Universe, with a timeline that includes the 6 days of Genesis creation beginning about 6000 years ago. I took parts of Carmeli’s big bang cosmology and added biblically based hypotheses (and speculations) to make it conform to Scripture.
The main text of the book outlines a sketch of how history the Universe would have unfolded if the cosmology and resulting cosmogony were a true for our Universe. The theme is that new physics is needed. The appendices 1-5 of the book are there to show the reader that the underlying theory (Carmeli’s theory) can explain what we observe in the Universe, where new physics was added, and thus what we build on that should also be valid. Appendix 6 is where I theorised about a Creation scenario. That is totally my own work, even though I extrapolated from Carmeli.
That means it is no longer Carmeli’s cosmology but a sort of hybrid cosmology. Carmeli only constructed a 4 dimensional (4D) space-velocity model for the Universe. He never found a full 5D model for the whole Universe, which might be used to construct a history close to the Creation epoch. I theorised on a new model–call it the Hartnett-Carmeli model if you like–which is 5D. I added the time dimension to Carmeli’s space and velocity dimensions, to create a linearised 5 dimensional model, something like an extension of special relativity but in 5 dimensions. That is shown in appendix 6. I then used that, making additional assumptions, to explore the idea of rapid time-dilation during Creation. The additional assumptions involved direct intervention by the Creator as might be expected during Creation. If the resulting scenario is a description of the true history of the Universe then that also provides a solution to the starlight-travel-time problem.
I do not claim it is the answer but if God did something like I describe it could provide us with an understanding of it. It is a possible solution and I admit there are several potential areas where the solution may be found. Adding new physics may be a simple way to avoid many fudge factors in cosmology but it does mean adding a new dimension that is very hard to even conceptualise. Continue reading
Two years ago I wrote a post with a Table derived mostly from biblical texts showing that the world was a little over 6000 years old, or in 2014 precisely 6188 years old. Since then I have learned that one of those biblical periods I used was incorrect and as a result the age of the earth and the whole Universe, in fact, as of 2016, is only 5975 years. That is less than 6000 years and gives us only 25 years to the 6000th birthday for the whole creation. That would be worth celebrating! It would be so nice if that is when our Father in heaven has decided to send back His beloved Son in the Day of the Lord, when judgment comes upon the whole world (Revelation 20:11). But watch and pray!
In this new calculation, only the period of time, derived from Exodus 12:40, for the children of Israel entering Egypt to their exodus has been changed, based on new information. Then I derive a new creation date where I get 3959 B.C. for the year of the beginning. Continue reading
Figure 1: The more usual picture of the sun with flares, and other turbulent activity. Lower right is a mid-level solar flare imaged on Nov. 12, 2012.
As predicted, by John L. Casey and several others, including my analysis,1 we are entering a period of massively reduced sunspot activity. This may have significant ramifications for weather on this planet. Reduce sunspots means reduced solar activity and hence reduced solar flares and other associated solar activity. A new article, headlined with “The sun has gone blank twice this month. This is what it means”, reports2 that we are now seeing the sun some days with no sunspots and none of the grainy turbulence features as shown in Fig. 1.
The news report2
According to scientists, this unsettling phenomenon is a sign we are heading for a mini ice age.
Meteorologist and renowned sun-watcher Paul Dorian raised the alarm in his latest report, which has sparked a mild panic about an impending Game of Thrones-style winter not seen since the 17th century.
“For the second time this month, the sun has gone completely blank,” Mr Dorian says.
“The blank sun is a sign that the next solar minimum is approaching and there will be an increasing number of spotless days over the next few years.
“At first, the blankness will stretch for just a few days at a time, then it’ll continue for weeks at a time, and finally it should last for months at a time when the sunspot cycle reaches its nadir. The next solar minimum phase is expected to take place around 2019 or 2020.”