Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Physics and the 6-Day of Creation

It is a very clear example on what I mean by a good intention with a not-so-good outcome. The intention to educate the public in physics may be good, but often it leads to an unwanted bastardization of the physics itself. Deepak Chopra is one very good example. This is another.

This appears to be a Letter to the Editor by someone who learned about Relativity rather superficially.. "... especially in the Discover magazine with Einstein on the front cover... " no less. The writer seemed to be referring to one of the consequences of SR, which is time dilation. This "knowledge" was used to somehow justify the biblical description of the creation of the universe in 6 days.

And one thing struck with the theory that was shown in an illustration of a boy standing in the center of a circle with an old man riding around him at the speed of light. The theory shows that within a few minutes the young boy in the circle would be older than the man riding around him on the bike.

After we talked about that for a while, everything got plugged in. Time is different with speed and gravity and all those crazy variables. If this type of theory scientifically would exist, it blows the mind with the possibilites of everything else. If the universe is expanding, then if we rewind far enough back, the time dilation would be different. If that boy in the middle is older than that man on the bike, then he still went through the aging process, much like Earth going through the billions of years of aging.

Maybe a day really was nearly a billion years and maybe not much was lost in translation.

It is one thing to actually think and wonder about such a thing, especially considering that one only has a superficial understanding of the physics, it is another to have no qualms to actually write to a paper and let it be known to the world about it. There doesn't seem to be any kind of "quality control" on the part of many, especially in double-checking to see if one has fully understood what one is about to use and present to the "world".

The flaw in this argument, of course, is the very common mistake that almost everyone makes when they first encounter SR. Time dilation is the apparent slowdown of time in ANOTHER REFERENCE FRAME AS VIEWED BY SOMEONE IN A DIFFERENT REFERENCE FRAME. If A views the clock of B, where B is moving relative to A, then A sees B's clock as being slow. A doesn't see HIS clock as being any slower or different. And the same could be said from B's point of view. B sees clocks in A reference frame as being slower than his. B doesn't see his clock being any different.

Now, unless the author is implying that the universe literally has a motion that is VERY fast when compared to "God", so much so that god sees the clock in the universe as being time dilated, then the whole argument above makes no sense. Furthermore, why would god describes the formation of the universe from that point of view? After all, everything else about the genesis was described from the point of view within the universe itself, so the proper time to be used here is the local time of the universe. This, of course, is ignoring the lack of definition for "6 days", considering that Earth didn't come into existence until the final days.

While we can't stop some poor misguided souls from taking something and completely bastardizing it, as science writers and communicators to the public, we should always, in the back of our minds, think of what we say and how the public might understand what we say, because when they do this to physics, it isn't progress, but rather a step backwards. They understood the WRONG THING. I've often wondered in cases like this whether no knowledge is better than having the wrong knowledge. Having the wrong knowledge can often be dangerous.



The Universe said...

I had a wry smile at this one zapper. Many people misunderstand time, and some of those people who misunderstand it call for quality control to perpetuate that misunderstanding.

John Duffield

ZapperZ said...

And some people who think they are the Universe think they understand time.


TheCyndicate said...

The funny thing is that an MIT Physicist has actually written a paper on how the 6 day creation might very well be true.

It doesn't really have anything to do with standard time dilation.

The point he made, is that space stretches.

It stretches by a factor of 1 Million, Million.

If I was where the big bang took place & I shot out a 2 inch long laser beam towards Earth, by the time it reached Earth, that 2 inch long laser beam will now be 2,000,000,000,000 inches or 31,565,656.566 miles long.

Because as it flows across space, space is stretching and lengthiness the beam the entire time.

I always think that it is REALLY funny, when a Scientist claims to be practicing Science and that requires an open mind, yet that Scientist has already made him mind up that the Bible is wrong.

Instead of researching the subject, you find all the information you can that supports your feelings, so that you feel justified. THAT is not Science.

ZapperZ said...

"Researching" means that you make a complete citation of this "paper" so that other can (i) read it from the horse's mouth and (ii) find other citations to it. You didn't do such a thing, so now you're telling me how to do science?

And since when does "space stretches" without involving time? What physics is this based on? It certainly isn't SR/GR. I guess if one were to invent one's own physics, one can make things up as one pleases.

And THIS is science?