Thursday, October 30, 2008

My November/Winter 2008 or 2009 'To Do' list

It has been a busy few weeks, some of which will be relevant to future posts here. I thought I'd post some notes on events and topics I hope to cover over the next few weeks. I just finished attending a small science workshop related to my day-job so my evenings are now a bit more open.
  • This past Saturday (October 25), I attended a conference in Washington DC sponsored by Reasons To Believe, titled “What Darwin Didn't Know”. Reasons to Believe is an organization of Old-Earth creationists (OEC). I'm not sure how I feel about OEC. In some regards, I think they are a sign of hope that more Christians can accept modern science with their theology. For the most part, I have few issues to argue with them on astrophysical evidence since they agree with modern astronomy and geology that the Earth and universe are billions of years old. However, even as someone with no professional training in biology, I found some of their claims in biology, particularly in regards to their version of 'Intelligent Design', to be very questionable. Some of the arguments they promoted are not that far from Young-Earth creationism claims. I've got many pages of notes from this day that I hope to add to this blog over the next few weeks. I just finished reading Hugh Ross' “A Matter of Days” and also purchased “The Creator and the Cosmos” and “Creation as Science”, also by Ross. I'll probably post a review sometime in the future.
  • I've actually been contacted by John Hartnett over my posts on his cosmology claims. He graciously sent me a copy of the latest version of one of his papers I'm commenting about and mentioned another paper under review. I need to follow-up on some of those issues. To reproduce Hartnett's work and examine other issues he does not mention, I've been rewriting my old time-series analysis codes. These programs were originally written in a programming language called IDL on a VAXStation under VMS. I'm re-writing them to run in Python on modern hardware. I'm also modifying them to handle spatial analyses (1-D and maybe even 3-D) and have encountered some discrepancies. I'm not yet certain of the cause of the discrepancies so I'm expanding my code testing scenarios. While the latest version of the Hartnett's paper seems to have backed away from a claim of strict redshift quantization, other creationists still invoke it. Once my software revisions are complete, I expect my software will still get some rather extensive use in this area. Some might ask why I don't use the same software as Dr. Hartnett, which he reports is Mathematica. The main reason is that science hinges on reproducibility. Since the algorithms should always be identical, in principle, it should not matter which tools are used. This provides additional validation of the analysis techniques and the tools.
  • In what is certainly the most interesting inquiry I've received in quite some time, I've had a creationist who presented at the '2008 International Conference on Creationism' ask me to examine his cosmological model and offer my criticisms. I may post some details on this discussion in the future.
  • When I heard about Barry Setterfield's revisions to his claims of a variable speed of light and integration with plasma cosmology (see my previous posts), I conducted a web search to see if others had posted on the topic. In the process, I stumbled across a response to my article, “The Electric Sky: Short-Circuited” on one of the Electric Cosmos forums. I hope to include responses to this in the near future.

So that's what's backlogged on my To Do list for November/Winter 2008/2009. I wonder if I'll complete it all...

1 comment:

rspeir said...

Reader,

I am the guy Tom mentions in his third bullet point. Am glad to make the connection with him and possibly (depending on his time) get a crisp, critical review of the young-universe model I proposed at the conference. I have been trying to falsify it for at least two years but am unable – it seems that my knowledge hits a wall and is unable to carry me to a sound, falsifying conclusion. My hunch is that it will ultimately fall short in some area. Can I say something? I will be shocked to find that a creationist in any capacity truly presents a credible model of a young universe utilizing the science we have available today. The system may indeed be merely 1000s of years old, but how? With the breath-taking images we are able observe today (God be praised for his terrifyingly beautiful works!), knowing the enormity and distance scales they possess, our pitiful endeavors to explain such power with our paltry science must fail miserably time and again. Even Russ Humphreys’ and John Hartnett’s young-universe models are only young up close! But for models to posit such vast age disparity in the system may be a problem in and of itself. For instance, how can the properties of the CMB be upheld? As we look back in time into increasing redshift, we are pretty certain that we should note increases in temperature, but we don’t -- the increasing redshift exactly cancels the expected rise in temperature. But such smoothness also speaks of a consistency of time in the overall cosmic substrate which may eliminate models which do not possess a true, all-pervasive cosmological time as does the BB model. But then, creationists, for the most part, seem to have trouble with the properties of the CMB anyway, so for me to suggest that they ‘have to uphold the properties of the CMB’ is just plain nonsense to them. Well, I am a creationist, but I must say that is a critical point where we divide – I believe very much in the presence and properties of the cosmic microwave background. Of course, then, my only recourse is to posit a young CMB if I am to hold to a young universe, and that concept may be shot full of holes before it gets a meter off the ground. If so, then I will have some realigning to do in my ideas of how it all came about. I will never give up my belief that God created it all (don’t even go there with me), and I will be extremely hesitant to yield in my acceptance of the properties of the cosmic microwave background. How shall it all end for me then? I will be a happy man in Christ but a frustrated man in science! Thanks for reading.