Wednesday 10 February 2016

Gravity Waving Goodbye To Big Bang Doubts?

Gravitational waves: Scientists might be about to announce detection of 'ripples in the fabric of spacetime' | Independent.

It looks like creationists are about to be hit with another scientific discovery they are going to have to work hard to ignore, as another gap slams shut and no god was found in it.

There are persistent rumours in the scientific world that a team working with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) system will announce tomorrow that they have discovered 'primordial gravity waves'. These are gravity waves from the first moments of the Big Bang and, if confirmed, could increase our knowledge of exactly what happened in that first few microseconds of the Universe's existence.

Gravity waves are predicted by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity as the means by which gravity is propagated across space. The problem is that gravity is an incredibly weak force compared to other forces, so, if confirmed, this represents a triumph of precision engineering.

We are used to thinking in terms of the gravity of relatively massive bodies such as planets, suns, black holes, etc, but everything which has mass has gravity. A good illustration of just how weak gravity is compared to, say, the electrostatic forces between the molecules in the stalk holding an apple to a tree, which can resist the entire pull of the earth until the apple is ripe and the stalk detaches. The sum of the electrostatic forces in the small cross sectional area of the stalk are greater than the pull of Earth's gravity. Imagine then trying to detect the gravity of the apple itself, let alone the gravity of a hydrogen atom.

So, detecting gravity waves presents a special challenge to science if for no other reason than the extreme sensitivity required of the equipment used. It has been likened to trying to detect the smallest ripples on the surface of an apparently smooth lake from a mile away.

The major significance of this find is that it will confirm the hypothecated inflation in which the space within the nascent Universe expanded massively

In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation, or just inflation is a theory of exponential expansion of space in the early universe. The inflationary epoch lasted from 10−36 seconds after the Big Bang to sometime between 10−33 and 10−32 seconds. Following the inflationary period, the Universe continues to expand, but at a less rapid rate.

Inflation theory was developed in the early 1980s. It explains the origin of the large-scale structure of the cosmos. Quantum fluctuations in the microscopic inflationary region, magnified to cosmic size, become the seeds for the growth of structure in the Universe (see galaxy formation and evolution and structure formation). Many physicists also believe that inflation explains why the Universe appears to be the same in all directions (isotropic), why the cosmic microwave background radiation is distributed evenly, why the Universe is flat, and why no magnetic monopoles have been observed.

Inflation in the early phase of the Universe explains several things, all of which have been measured and found to correspond with predictions from the inflation model. For example, on a large scale, the Universe is homogenous (i.e., it is grossly the same everywhere), the cosmic microwave background radiation is grossly uniform but subject to local fluctuation and the formation of larger structures is as predicted by local fluctuations in the quantum vacuum as predicted by quantum theory. The one component that was lacking was the echo of this event - gravity waves.

So, for those creationists who refuse to accept that the Universe is more than 6000 years old and insist it was created exactly as it is today for no better reason than that some Bronze Age hill farmers thought it was, this is just one more piece of evidence to be ignored or stored away in a special compartment of their brain that doesn't communicate effectively with the superstitious part.

Mind you, with one of creationism's gurus, Ken Ham, having such a tenuous grasp of basic cosmology, it is unlikely they will ever get to read about inflation, gravity waves or quantum fluctuations. It takes a creationist like Ken Ham to come up with this answer to the question, "If God created the world, why are stars millions of light years away?"

Brendon, what a question! Yes, we know from the dates God gives us in the Bible that He did create the whole universe about 6,000 years ago. When we hear the term light-year, we need to realize it is not a measure of time but a measure of distance, telling us how far away something is. Distant stars and galaxies might be millions of light-years away, but that doesn’t mean that it took millions of years for the light to get here, it just means it is really far away!

Er... no Ken! It means that stars really are millions of light years away and so the light from them took millions of years to arrive here. The basic laws of physics are not going to change to suit your superstition. You are either lying because you do know the truth and want to mislead children or you are lying about knowing the truth when you are inexcusably and willfully ignorant. Either way, you are bearing false witness to a child and, more importantly, misleading a child about the world they live in.

There have been false alarms about the discovery of gravity waves in the recent past. Almost two years ago, a team from Havard-Smithsonian, working on the Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2) experiment at the South Pole, announced they had found evidence of gravity waves in the way light is polarized by the cosmic microwave background radiation, only to withdraw it later when the data they used was found to be unreliable due to possible interstellar dust which had not been fully allowed for. So we will need to treat this announcement, if the rumours are true, with a little circumspection until independently verified.

Meanwhile the creation industry will be holding its breath knowing that a discovery like this will deter more people from falling for their disinformation campaign and might even cause some of their more intellectually honest dupes to rethink.

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1 comment :

  1. Well, here is what they say about gravity waves.

    Not much, really.


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