Thursday, December 3, 2015

Singularities, Black Holes and the Big Bang

Stephen J. Crothers of the Alpha Institute of Advanced Study, Brisbane, Australia, who is also a well-known Rational Scientific Methodist, has written a new "scientific paper" about "singularities" and black holes.  It seems he paid $470 to have it published in a "scientific journal" of dubious worth called "The American Journal of Modern Physics."  In the paper he argues that black holes are impossible because singularities are illogical.   According to Mr. Crothers:
"the whole theory of black holes is fallacious"
"Just as people who believe in ghosts assign the action of ghosts to that which they do not understand, cosmologists assign the action of black holes to that which they do not understand."
 "The intellectual decrepitude of modern physics and astronomy is clear indication that they are diseased and dying sciences."
The paper can be found at the link HERE.   Some information about the so-called "scientific journal" in which the paper can be found is available at the links HERE and HERE.  Note that it is also not listed on Wikipedia nor in the list of ranked physics journals.  The name of the "journal" is very similar to the real scientific journal, "The American Journal of Physics," so don't be confused.

What Mr. Crothers apparently fails to realize is that the existence of black holes is generally considered to be a proven fact, while the existence of singularities is generally considered to be purely theoretical. One concept does not depend upon the other.

It's always been my understanding that "singularities" are just what you get when you do not have all the information needed to make a calculation.  Personally, I think there are probably spheres of super-dense matter at the center of black holes, since we know there are "regular" sized black holes that are formed when a star goes supernova, and there are super massive black holes at the center of galaxies.  How can a "singularity" with no dimensions come in sizes big and small?  The problem is, at this moment there is no way to prove what is at the center of either size black hole.

But, we can do research to get more information about "singularities."  I spent a couple hours on such research, and here is what I found:

Yahoo has this question: "How does a gravitational singularity work?"
With this answer:
"A gravitational singularity, that is, a place where the known laws of the universe break down, is a "solution" to Einstein's theory of gravitation. But it is known that Einstein's equations are only a partial description of reality. What is lacking is a theory that integrates gravity with quantum mechanics. If and when a "theory of everything" is developed, we may have some idea what really lies at the center of a black hole, but until then all we have is Einstein to go on. The notion of a singularity, infinite density in an infinitely small volume, is anathema to physicists; physicists detest infinities. Infinities in an equation are always a sign that something is wrong. One way to avoid infinities is to adopt a different theory of space and time. One such theory is loop quantum gravity which says that there is a minimum unit of space and a minimum unit of time. Once a minimum unit of space is filled, nothing more can be crammed into it. If anything more is to be added, it has to fit into the next minimum unit of space. Hence, no infinities and no singularities. But so far loop quantum gravity is only the outline of a concept, a concept that eventually will have to reconcile gravity with quantum mechanics if it is to have any validity."
Wikipedia has this comment:
"Many theories in physics have mathematical singularities of one kind or another. Equations for these physical theories predict that the ball of mass of some quantity becomes infinite or increases without limit. This is generally a sign for a missing piece in the theory, as in the ultraviolet catastrophe, renormalization, and instability of a hydrogen atom predicted by the Larmor formula."
Another scientific web site has this comment:
"The existence of a singularity is often taken as proof that the theory of general relativity has broken down, which is perhaps not unexpected as it occurs in conditions where quantum effects should become important. It is conceivable that some future combined theory of quantum gravity (such as current research into superstrings) may be able to describe black holes without the need for singularities, but such a theory is still many years away."
Yet another scientific web site has this comment:
"Most people worry about singularities involving general relativity: two examples being a black hole and the singularity that classical general relativity predicts was our universe at the moment it began. If you try to apply the laws of general relativity in these situations you will inevitably find the same 1/x singularities I've been talking about. How are we going to resolve these singularities? We expect quantum mechanics to do the job, since it is the theory that correctly describes physics at small distance scales. Unfortunately, while we have good theories of atomic physics, we don't real have a good theory of quantum gravity. Many of us think string theory will ultimately provide the resolution to these problems.

"In short then, a singularity represents an infinity and we generally don't think nature is infinite. The problem arises from not having some kind of 'floor' built into a theory that keeps you from taking the limit of 1/x as x goes to zero. The way out is to apply a new theory that has such a floor, such as quantum mechanics or string theory (quantum gravity)."
In Stephen Hawking's book "The Grand Design," Hawking wrote this about the Big Bang, where there are also calculations resulting in "singularities":
"Measurements of helium abundance and the CMBR [Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation] provided convincing evidence in favor of the big bang picture of the very early universe, but although one can think of the big bang picture as a valid description of early times, it is wrong to take the big bang literally, that is, to think of Einstein’s theory as providing a true picture of the origin of the universe. That is because general relativity predicts there to be a point in time at which the temperature, density, and curvature of the universe are all infinite, a situation mathematicians call a singularity. To a physicist this means that Einstein’s theory breaks down at that point and therefore cannot be used to predict how the universe began, only how it evolved afterward. So although we can employ the equations of general relativity and our observations of the heavens to learn about the universe at a very young age, it is not correct to carry the big bang picture all the way back to the beginning."
In other words, the fact that singularities are illogical cannot be used to claim that black holes (or the Big Bang) are illogical. Black holes (and the Big Bang) are confirmed by massive amounts of data which does not include singularities.  Singularities are simply mathematical results that show that something is missing or unknown in the mathematical equations.

Rational Scientific Methodists, however, appear to believe that to NOT have an answer to a scientific question is to admit to being ignorant or stupid. They seemingly feel it is better to BELIEVE that black holes are impossible than to accept that there is something unknown about what exists in the center of a black hole.

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