Scientists at Port Angeles conference huddle over alternatives to 'big bang' theory

By Tom Callis, Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES There are no miracles, says a group of about 50 astronomers and others interested in the structure of the universe who are wrapping up a four-day conference today.

Something can't be created from nothing that is another principle the group agreed upon, they said at a news conference Wednesday at the Red Lion Hotel.

The "Crisis in Cosmology" conference was organized to develop criteria for creating alternatives to the "big bang" theory.

The principles for forming a new view of the universe that were developed by the group are:

  • Deductive, not inductive, reasoning should be used.

  • There are no miracles.

  • Forces of physics cannot become infinite or unlimited.

  • Something can't be created from nothing.

    The "big bang" theory is that the universe has been constantly expanding since its creation in a massive explosion about 13.7 billion years ago.

    Astronomer Tom Van Flandern of Sequim, one of the organizers of the Port Angeles conference, and others attending, dispute that idea.

    Said physicist David Dilworth: "The "big bang" theory is a house of tissue paper that is about to collapse under its own weight,"

    'Good cosmology'
    The intent of the conference was to come to an agreement on six criteria for the creation of a "good cosmology," Van Flandern said.

    Cosmology studies the natural order of the universe.

    A "good cosmology" would explain how the universe works, but not necessarily explain its origin, Van Flandern said.

    It wouldn't use explanations that can't be proven, he said.

    He added that the "big bang" theory does rely on unproven ideas.

    So, alternatives to the Big Bang theory could include a universe that is everlasting and without an origin.

    Van Flandern said a level of agreement was reached on four of the six criteria during the conference that began Monday.

    "Even if people have reservations about something, we all agreed that some of these ideas area a good basis for a new cosmology," Van Flandern said.

    Still disputed
    Principles still in dispute are:

  • Can anything travel faster than the speed of light?

  • Should physics have priority over math when developing a theory?

    Van Flandern said the debate over whether physics or math should have priority was particularly heated.

    "It was the equivalent of a food fight," he said.

    Van Flandern said members of the conference will be in contact with one another until a level of agreement can be reached on all of the criteria.

    That will take about a month, he figured.

    The conference was separated into eight panels.

    Van Flandern said each of the panels will publish findings in a journal which will likely take at least six months.

    Afterward, the findings are expected to be published in a single book, he said.

    Van Flandern said the journals and a possible publisher have yet to be selected.

    A unique conference
    Eugene Poliakov, Institute of Physics and Time scientific director in Moscow, said that Crisis in Cosmology sets itself apart from other conferences because it wasn't confined to one idea, and included a broad range of topics.

    "Even my wife said this conference stands out," he said.

    Dilworth described the conference as an historical event.

    "What is happening in my mind is a landmark," he said.

    "The pieces of the jigsaw puzzle" to the universe "are coming together."

    Dilworth described their work as "science-based cosmology."

    He said some of the explanations for the "big bang" theory such as black holes and dark matter can't be proven and are "imaginary."

    Big bang errors
    Van Flandern said the "big bang" theory has about 60 errors.

    A few of them, he said, are:

  • Quasar "redshifts" have little correlation with distance, and do not prove that the universe is expanding.

  • Microwave background makes more sense as an explanation of the limiting temperature of space rather than remnants of a "big bang" fireball.

  • Early galaxies were not primitive and metal-free as the "big bang" theory states.

    Van Flandern said there is evidence that some of the oldest galaxies and quasars contain a significant amount of metal.

    Alternatives
    Van Flandern said three main alternative theories to the Big Bang theory are:

  • Quasi-Steady State Cosmology, which states that matter comes into existence, expands and is replaced by other matter.

    According to this theory, the universe has always existed.

  • Plasma Cosmology, which states that everything in the universe is formed from a primeval plasma.

    This theory can accommodate ideas of an expanding universe.

  • Variable Mass Cosmology, which states that matter is ejected from old galaxies to pools of matter that expand, grow and become quasars.

    According to this theory, there is a continuing cycle of matter forming, growing, aging and dying.

    Why Port Angeles?
    The first Crisis in Cosmology conference was held in Portugal about three years ago.

    Van Flandern said the second Crisis in Cosmology conference was held in Port Angeles because he suggested it as a host city to the conference advisory committee about a year ago.

    "If you open your mouth, you end up being appointed," he said.

    The date and location of the next conference has yet to be determined.

    The conference was sponsored by the Alternative Cosmology Group, International Academy for Cosmological Studies, Virtual Institute for Rational Astrophysics, and Meta Research.

    Meta Research is headed by Van Flandern.

    It supports research with legitimate astronomical theories that lie outside the mainstream of Astronomy, according to its Web site, metaresearch.org.

    _________
    Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

    Last modified: September 10. 2008 9:00PM
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