Dutkiewicz Blasts Krauss Interview on “A Universe from Nothing”

Blog 20120620

Last week’s Blog highlighted an interview with “renowned cosmologist,” Lawrence Krauss, a professor at Arizona State, concerning his recent Big Bang book. My only comment was in the title of the Blog, where I suggested that it was a good example of mainstream confusion. Turns out that I am not the only critic disgusted with the media’s pandering to such claptrap. Here is an adamant man-in-the-street response from the leader of the Rock and Roll band, “Tricks,” from Michigan. I couldn’t have written it better myself:

Rick Dutkiewicz

Quotes from the interview are in bold letters:

“I think it is virtually certain that everything we see came from empty space,” Krauss exposited. “And all the physics I know is highly suggestive that our universe popped into existence as a quantum fluctuation.”

All of this because Einstein thought that light could travel through a "vacuum." Did they suck the air out of a flask and shine a light through that "vacuum" to prove this idea? All that proves is that light waves travel through a medium that is smaller than air molecules. Einstein admitted this later in his life.

No one had the balls to ask if maybe a laboratory "vacuum" is not the "empty space" envisioned in mathematical models? I guess a few did, but they were drummed out of the Good Ol' Boys club.

"…because of the laws of quantum mechanics and special relativity, empty space consisted of a bubbling brew of virtual particles spontaneously popping in and out of existence on timescales too small to notice."

There is no such thing as "empty space" except in mathematical equations. I figured that out in 5th grade.

I've been listening to a podcast dealing with the general history of mathematics. Some of the earliest mathematicians were very careful to point out that irrational numbers, negative numbers, and zeros do not exist in actuality. DESPITE their usefulness in equations that seem to accurately predict phenomena in the actual universe.

Science went off the rails when people stopped being careful about conflating the meal and the menu, the road and the map, the analogy and the actuality.

When mathematicians like Godel and Turing came up with proofs that showed the limits of mathematics as a logical model, the indeterminists in the scientific community seized upon that uncertainty to "prove" that if you look at the universe closely enough, you will find chaos and an "Uncaused Cause" (but modern indeterminists took away the capital letters and stopped calling it "God").

They aren't humble enough to say that this only proves that our measurements and models are limited and full of holes. No. They proclaim that this proves that the universe we observe as "reality" actually comes from a chaos that is causeless and empty, but filled with random fluctuations of being and non-being.

If that isn't equivalent to religious thinking, what is it? It pisses me off when I hear scientists asserting that religion and science are somehow compatible. It's the mirror image of religionists' claim that "if god didn't exist, we would have to invent him.”

Funny that so many educated people want their cake of indeterminism, but they don't want to call it "God.” So, they came up with a new flavour of indeterminism. They're only fooling themselves.

“I’m not interested in classical, logical descriptions of nothing, but rather what science tells us about nothing."

That shows how much confusion lives inside the mind of an indeterminist. Only mathematics and fantasy can tell us something about "nothing.” Science cannot tell us about nothing, because nothing does not exist. Science deals with existence. Only math and fantasy and religion deal with non-existence.

Science deals with reality, not with something that can become nothing, or nothing that can become something.

"purer form of nothing"

I'm in awe! Where do I light my votive candle to this "purer form" of "nothing.” A thing that is not a thing. What does he mean by "pure"? What does he mean by "form"? What does he mean by "nothing.” Doesn't "form" imply the opposite of "no thing"? How does one argue against such insanity?

"if ... quantum mechanics was applied to gravity, space and time would have become dynamical and so would have spontaneously appeared. So you wouldn’t have needed pre-existing space. Instead the space itself would have arisen.”

So, in this model we have empty space before space and time exist? Fluctuations occur before time occurs or matter exists? He keeps emphasizing how small and fast these fluctuations are. And all of this occurs in "empty space.”

What kind of reasoning leads one to insist that if something is small or fast enough, we should say it doesn't exist? I think his reasoning has random fluctuations of insanity.

"If you wait long enough, no matter how small the probability is, it must arise. If you have particle pairs with a gravitational attraction that is just right for their total energy to be zero, you’re guaranteed that something will arise from nothing."

But, but, ... how can you "wait" if we're talking about "before time existed.” Krauss is even blind to the internal contradictions of his model.

This is simple to point out. I think the block is not intellectual, but psychological. It has to do with lack of imagination and ability to think outside of the model. All the while they pretend to be radical thinkers, but they are rehashing the same old debate of "how many angels fit on the head of a pin.”


Unknown said...

The trouble with astrophysics summaries that has been dumbed down for non-expert consumption is that the average reader is too ignorant of the subject matter to understand the complexities. Whatever makes the author believe that musicians have what it takes?
The underlying problem is that the common meaning of "nothing" is not consistent with the scientific version of "nothing". This is further complicated by the fact that many scientists will assert that there is actually no such thing as "nothing". An infinitely small singularity could probably be defined as "infinitely small space/time/energy/potential particle". The average person is no closer to understanding this than they have of understanding the concept of double figure dimensions.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Thanks so much Rosemary. I will have a response on next Wednesday's blog.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Just an update on this whole theory of something from nothing. Coyne had a bit on it in his blog:


My comment to him was:

This snafu just shows how absurd creationism is. The Big Bang Theory (BBT) is no exception. It is amazing that in 2013 grown men still talk of the universe exploding out of nothing. How could the universe not be infinite and eternal? How could it have an end? As I have said before, the opposite of the indeterministic assumption of creation is The Fifth Assumption of Science, conservation (Matter and the motion of matter can be neither created nor destroyed). Otherwise known in its energy form as the First Law of Thermodynamics, there are no known exceptions to this assumption, just as there are no known exceptions to the determinist’s assumption that there are causes for all effects. What we are seeing here is the breakdown of a paradigm destined for the dustbin that includes the “Flat Earth Theory.” The BBT is the last gasp of creationism.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Here is Albert's NYT critique of Krauss:


It is not that bad, except for his even-sillier than Krauss conclusion:

"And I guess it ought to be mentioned, quite apart from the question of whether anything Krauss says turns out to be true or false, that the whole business of approaching the struggle with religion as if it were a card game, or a horse race, or some kind of battle of wits, just feels all wrong — or it does, at any rate, to me. When I was growing up, where I was growing up, there was a critique of religion according to which religion was cruel, and a lie, and a mechanism of enslavement, and something full of loathing and contempt for every­thing essentially human. Maybe that was true and maybe it wasn’t, but it had to do with important things — it had to do, that is, with history, and with suffering, and with the hope of a better world — and it seems like a pity, and more than a pity, and worse than a pity, with all that in the back of one’s head, to think that all that gets offered to us now, by guys like these, in books like this, is the pale, small, silly, nerdy accusation that religion is, I don’t know, dumb."

All just angels and pins, but it is ever-interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Rick Doogie said...

Angels, pins, and ad hominems.
The average person cannot hope to grasp the concept of nothing? The pope would say that same thing about the angels and pins problem. And I don't buy his spiel either.
For one thing, Rosemary's "infinitely small" is not a measurement that means anything, unless you make no distinction between fantasy and reality.
When your concept of reality is full of illogical paradoxes, you are mistaking the menu for the meal.