Sunday, April 21, 2013

Other projects...

I was recently quoted in Congressional Quarterly Researcher (CQ Researcher) as part of their article on Science and Religion.  While it's just one quote about geocentrism, the article interviews a great many of the big names in the science and religion conflict.

Public Talks
I'm tenatively scheduled to speak at Balticon, the Maryland Regional Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention  in Baltimore, Maryland, on Memorial Day weekend.  My talk is scheduled to be part of the Science and Skepticism track, sponsored by NCAS.  More details as the scheduling gets finalized.

Presentation/Talk Review
I wrote a short review of the science comedy routine "Feel The Power of the Dork Side" for the April 2013 NCAS Newsletter, Shadow of a Doubt.
Phys.Org: Teach science through argument, professor says
My greatest complaint about this article is that it describes scientific argumentation as if it is a purely rhetorical exercise, which is not the case - it must also adhere to strict standards of evidence, standards even stricter than those of a courtroom.  In the case of the physical sciences, the evidence primarily consists of models from which we can compute values of measurable quantities which can be compared to actual measurements.  Without that standard, you cannot move science into engineering practices.  We would never have successfully sent satellites and astronauts into Earth orbit and beyond without the detailed mathematical understanding of celestial mechanics developed in astronomy from Isaac Newton to the 1950s. 

Without the standard of linking the mathematical to the physical, science becomes indistinguishable from a political belief.

Not surprising, an Electric Universe advocate has jumped into the comment stream, arguing the problems with 'mainstream' models while ignoring the problems with their own (see Challenges for Electric Universe 'Theorists').  Naturally, I added some feedback to the comment stream.


Salvador Cordova said...

Dr. Bridgman,

This is Salvador Cordova. Your colleague, Jerry Jellison is familiar with me. Although I am a creationist and ID advocate, I have spoken well of your co-authored works with Dr. Jellison.

I also try to be fair minded and critical of my own side. For example, I got into hot water for being critical of creationist misuses of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics....

That said, since you mentioned the projects in progress, and if you are wondering about potentially pointed criticisms of creationist cosmology, I could suggest one possible criticism of the starlight and time models.

These models invoke slow clocks on Earth and fast clocks farther out.

If the Earth is 6000 years old but the far out galaxies are billions of years old, AND if the clocks on Earth are running slow compared to far away -- whereby we see billions of years of evolution in only 6000 years, this yields ratios in clock rates between the reference framces such that
we ought to see processes moving along from 100,000 to 1 million times faster when looking far out, i.e. we ought to see the spin in spiral galaxies real time. In fact the galaxies close should spin slowly and the ones farther out spin fast. But we don't see that, and hence to me those cosmologies may be falsified by this.

At least that is how I see it, but I have insufficient expertise to say it with conviction since these sorts of questions aren't addressed in any of my class texts in General Relativity or Cosmology.

But this could be one that you might consider adding. I do not believe I have the expertise to argue the criticism as well as you could.


W.T."Tom" Bridgman said...

To Mr. Cordova,

The attempts to define multiple timescales is a popular 'solution' for problems with creationist cosmologies. Many of them must find some physical parameter which they can adjust to make some measurement match the value they need. Barry Setterfield's 'c-decay' claims which myself and Jerry have explored provides excellent examples of how trying to change a physical constant to fix one type of observation creates conflicts for other types of observations.

I suspect that models with changing timescales between the Earth and cosmos have a simple transformation that can make them into a Setterfield-type model of rapid physical parameter change with cosmic age.

Because of the range of flexibility in defining such a model, I'd only be willing to explore it if the model were explicitly defined, say, how does the electron mass/speed of light/Planck's constant vary with distance from Earth, etc.