Tag Archives: wilson cloud chamber

Albert Einstein and Space-Time, Part Three

7 Mar

From www.mcgeepost.com .Copyright © 2013 Michael H. McGee. All rights reserved. Please feel free to share or re-post all or part non-commercially, hopefully with attribution.

We are looking deeply into the mythical part of twentieth-century science, which has been most spectacularly on display in the theories of the size and age of the universe, and the incorrect assertion that we can chronicle events far back in time, and that our eyes and instruments can actually see billions of light-years into space and observe the beginnings of our universe. All these assertions are false, and continuing to hold onto the “myth of far seeing” will impede progress in the forward march of theoretical and practical science in the twenty-first century.

Looking at science through myth is actually not too different than looking at science through a mist. The reality is present, yet it’s obscured by so many evanescent white clouds of illusion. Science is about what is real, or may be real. The myth of far seeing is in no way even a candidate for reality.

In the last entry I described the use of imagination by Albert Einstein to arrive at his general theory of relativity in 1915. A reader of an earlier version of this article said, “Actually, it was Heisenberg’s imaginings of Einstein’s imaginings that set the stage for the current confusion.”

Physicists such as Nobel Laureate Werner Heisenberg were quick to jump on the mythological Love Train with their own concoctions. Heisenberg embraced Dr. Einstein’s free-association with reality in order to amplify quantum theory, which attempts to explain both the cosmological and the sub-atomic. Dr. Heisenberg’s treatise “The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory” was first published by the University of Chicago Press in 1930.

In this book Heisenberg reported that he relied on a Wilson Cloud Chamber to arrive at his famous wave-particle duality. This proposition stated that at any time, a photon or other quanta of almost vanishingly small size could behave as either a wave or as a particle. The cylindrical Wilson Cloud Chamber was about 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) across by 1.3 inches (3.4 cm) deep. “Alpha particles” were shot, through a hole, into the super-saturated water vapor in this chamber. Photographs, made with cameras built in 1913, showed that the vapor-encased tracks were nearly straight lines. Later, “beta rays” were passed through a thin foil of matter into the vapor in the same chamber. A 1928 photographic plate showed the rays emerging from the foil were waves.

From this unusually impoverished information, plus some pencil and paper mathematics, Werner Heisenberg concluded that all elementary matter in the universe could be particulate at some times, and wave-like at other times. The problem? First, the matter shot into the Wilson Chamber had to be large enough to be photographed with a very rudimentary camera, so what he was seeing was not sub-microscopic elementary photons or electrons, but matter large enough to be visible. Second, it seems rather obvious that if you shoot matter through a hole (say, a rifle barrel) it will travel in a straight line. Even more blindingly obvious is that if you shoot matter through a foil screen it will photograph only in an irregular wave-like manner.

So is their actually a wave-particle duality? I really couldn’t say. Just don’t get me started on the Uncertainty Principle. Once again he used particles large enough to be visible, to develop a theory of uncertainty which he said applied to all of the most elementary and invisible particles in the universe.This theory said that you can’t determine both the position and the speed of a given particle when observing the particle. The act of observation changes one or the other.

This Uncertainty Principle could be described as a metaphysical proposition with just as much likelihood of being true. I choose not to do so, yet spiritual teacher Asara Lovejoy described Heisenberg’s principle as follows: “The substance of the universe is made of such small particles of matter that substance is more like a thought than physical matter. This seemingly invisible something from which we create our life has the ability to know when it is observed, and to react to that observation.”

I find it very, very sorrowful and stressful to question the reputations of Dr. Einstein and his colleagues including Dr. Heisenberg. Yet even until today no one has ever been able to reconcile Einstein’s 1915 relativity equations with the rest of known science. They never will, either. General relativity is a myth which contains some kernels of accuracy, kernels too small to parse with anything else.

The framework for the Big Bang, an abstract paper and pencil mathematical model of the universe, relies on Albert Einstein’s general relativity. What Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose claim to have demonstrated in 1970 was that, among other things, the universe must obey general relativity if it began at a single point billions of years in the past. The unstated reverse of this statement is that if the universe does not obey general relativity, or if general relativity is a myth, then the Big Bang is a myth, even according to these scientists’ own terms.

Another principle Heisenberg, Hawking and the other scientists have made us believe is that “formulas written on a piece of paper”, such as Einstein’s 1915 field equations, and later abstract computations of redshift, are identical with “the reality of the universe outside our solar system, which is the Big Bang.” The reality is that we really don’t know what is going on outside our solar system or how far away one thing is from another.

Even though we now have bigger telescopes than sixteenth century observers had, these telescopes really only make the stars look a little larger than before. The puny and superficial nature of our visual observations of what is outside of our solar system are entirely useless except as a source of imaginary story-telling, which is as it always has been.

There are some astronomers who actually claim to have “seen” with their own eyes almost all the way back to the origin of the universe 13.7 billion years ago. People want to believe we can see all the way back to the beginning of the universe, and know its most intimate workings.

I’m going to pick on Lawrence Krauss mostly because I have read his very informative and interesting book, A Universe from Nothing. I bought the book after he was interviewed on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central. I respect Dr. Krauss’s scientific credentials, and I understand fully that he is writing about theories which are generally accepted in the scientific community. He is writing to enlighten, with no intention whatsoever to mislead anyone. I’m not accusing him of anything; I’m simply disagreeing with the science he embraces with such joyous enthusiasm.

Having said this, it is necessary to tell you that the generally accepted scientific theories he writes about are pure fiction. What I’ve said up to now will give you some idea of the mythological and imaginary qualities of the current scientific theories of the creation, and of the claimed deep knowledge of the great size of the universe.

First, Krauss in almost every chapter attempts to apply Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to explain the “evolution” of the universe. As anyone who has read the works of Charles Darwin knows, the Master was describing a very limited and earthly phenomenon which showed that over even limited periods of time such as decades, organic productions of the earth changed and adapted to life on earth. If Charles Darwin were around now he would be shocked, outraged, and embarrassed at the current efforts to extend his theory to inorganic matter residing in outer space.

Next Krauss describes sessions with the great telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, where, he says, people have been able to see with their own eyes all the way through outer space to within 300,000 years of the Big Bang. This is the myth of far seeing.

If a person at a telescope can actually see events that happened more than 13 billion years ago, they are actually not looking at an event. They are looking at a speck of light which is visible in the present and which is said to have travelled more than 13 billion light years (13 billion years at the speed of light) without changing in any manner, to reach the telescope’s viewing field here on earth. One light year is about 6 trillion miles. So for the speck of light to have traveled through outer space for 13.77 billion light years means it has traveled more than 82 septillion miles to get to where we can see it.

The most amazing assertion is that this speck of light has not changed in any way during its fabulously long journey. What we are seeing now in the telescope is exactly what happened way back then. We can look at this speck of light and with certainty know what happened just after the Big Bang.

Is there anyone other than me who feels that a trip of 82 septillion miles would be a bumpy road, and that something would have been lost or gained, or distorted in some way, during such a journey? There are two amazing things here. First, that anyone can believe a speck of light could travel so far and be readily identifiable as the one speck from the Big Bang. Second, that anyone in their right mind could actually claim to have found the one speck in the vastly populated night sky which is a visual image of the period just after the Big Bang more than 13 billion years ago.

As I pointed out in another blog entry, Dr. Murray Gell-Mann, 1969 Nobel Laureate in Physics, makes it clear that the laws of physics are not deterministic, but are only probabilities over time. The moment in time of the presence of a speck of light in the sky is only probabilistic. There is no way to predict the exact source or point of view of the speck, only a curve of probabilities. Additionally, the direction of movement of such a speck of light over time is completely unpredictable. “If so much is unknowable in advance about one atomic nucleus, imagine how much is fundamentally unpredictable about the entire universe….” Dr. Gell-Mann says.

So there is a violation of established laws of physics in the assertion that a single speck can remain unchanged over any period of time, much less 13 billion years. The present position of the speck of light “from the Big Bang” is a sum over all the histories the speck of light could have undergone since its formation at an uncertain time and place. What we see in the night sky is only one of those histories, the one which is coherent at the present time, and its past is probabilistic at best. Worst case, the speck is a piece of dust on the lens of the telescope.

Another assertion Dr. Krauss makes in his book is that the BOOMERANG experiment a few years ago was able to make a map of all the “cosmic microwave background radiation” which was emitted more than 13 billion years ago just after the Big Bang. The detector was tied to a balloon hovering over Antarctica, Krauss says. It scooped up only radiation that was emitted way back then. This detector was so sensitive and precise that it was able to “map” this radiation in a way which proved that the universe was flat. This concept is not unique to Dr. Krauss. What he is describing is accepted science. Even NASA promotes the idea. See http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/media/030639/index.html

Even so, this study of cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) is fatally flawed and represents a fictional myth perpetuated by many in the scientific community. For one thing, it is simply stated as a fact that this CMBR had its source in the period just after the Big Bang. No one has made any effort to measure the 13 billion light years of time and space through which the CMBR must have passed through in order to reach the earth in a recognizable pattern. This would take a very long tape measure.

Additionally, the present status of this CMBR is subject to the same laws of physics which I just quoted from Nobel Laureate Dr. Murray Gell-Mann. The moment in time of the presence of each speck of CMBR in the sky is only probabilistic. There is no way to predict the exact source or point of view of the speck, only a curve of probabilities. Additionally, the direction of movement of such a speck of CMBR over time is completely unpredictable.

The large quantity of CMBR measured by the detector on the balloon over Antarctica could have just as easily originated inside the solar system, or it could have come from an unknown and unpredictable place anywhere in outer space. Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation is a mythological beast no more tangible than a Minotaur, and due to at a minimum the uncertainties described by Gell-Mann, we have no way of saying what it is. It could even be an artifact of the measuring device.

Because our scientists say it is so, then our myth of human scientific omniscience is preserved intact. We want to believe that we have complete or unlimited material knowledge of everything, and that we perceive all things with a clear eye. And we want it now. Yet, we will likely never know with any accuracy what is happening outside our solar system.

The Big Bang explanation for our universe states that all that exists on earth and in space began as a tiny or even zero singularity 13.77 billion years ago. Since this very exact time, the universe has expanded by trillions of times until it is the extremely large size it is today. Though our planet earth is a less than minuscule part of the whole universe, it is stated that we here on this planet earth can see all parts of our vast universe and coherently describe its history from the beginning to now.

Nobel Laureate in Physics Richard Feynman said in a speech: “It is much more interesting to live with not knowing, than to have answers that might be wrong.” I don’t know if Dr. Feynman would agree with my ideas of “not knowing” or not. Yet there is a fundamental truth in what he says: science must not be arrogant or overreach the actual knowledge available.