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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
Club Notice - 12/15/00 -- Vol. 19, No. 24
Table of Contents
Chair/Librarian: Mark Leeper, 732-817-5619, firstname.lastname@example.org Factotum: Evelyn Leeper, 732-332-6218, email@example.com Distinguished Heinlein Apologist: Rob Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org HO Chair Emeritus: John Jetzt, email@example.com HO Librarian Emeritus: Nick Sauer, firstname.lastname@example.org Back issues at http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper. All material copyright by author unless otherwise noted.
It is a little sad to me when I see someone take an idea from an Isaac Asimov story--maybe it will be a robot story--and over- acknowledges Asimov. We get a novel like ISAAC ASIMOV'S ROBOT REVOLT by Herman Glimpshire. The "Isaac Asimov" will be in inch- high letters. The "by Herman Glimpshire" will be in tiny print. Even if it was idea that Asimov did not care for, it is more profitable to give him credit.
Curiously enough that is what modern day physicists are trying to do. Albert Einstein himself was embarrassed by how bad was the science that led him to propose that there was a cosmological constant. Einstein made the same mistake that Creation Scientists make. He started with what he wanted the universe to be and worked backwards to say what must be true if the universe were to be the way he wanted.
Well, he had his reasons for doing that. If your cosmological model of the universe says that you are here in the last years that comets will be coming around the sun, then you are probably wrong. It is much more likely that this is a typical year. Einstein looked at the universe and decided that it was not a recently created thing. The stars are there only slightly moveable. But the universe goes back for an infinite amount of time. After all what was there to start time running and what was there to put the stars there? A universe of finite, limited age almost requires some religious explanation. No the stars were at their distances in a sort of equilibrium. They could not have stood where they were for all time with gravity exerting a force to pull them together without there being a force pushing them outward. So he postulated an outward force that simply would counter gravity in the equilibrium. It was a necessary evil in explaining why the universe was fixed.
Einstein later called that his biggest blunder. Within a few years he learned that the stars were not fixed in their places. The universe was flying apart like embers from a fireworks explosion. There was no longer any need for his fictitious outward force. The outward force of the explosion was sufficient to explain why the universe was not falling together. And Einstein breathed a sigh of relief because he did not want to have to invent a new unknown force. Instead what he had to accept was that there was a beginning to the universe as we know it. That was a price he was willing to pay. After that the universe followed the well-ordered laws of physics. Right?
Wrong. Just over the last few years astronomers and cosmologists wanted to measure how much the pull of gravity was slowing the outward expansion of the universe. That would give them some idea if the universe would be coming together in a big crunch or would it keep expanding forever. Well, they got a shock. What the real meaning of that shock is, we may never know in our lifetimes. But it seems that not only is the expansion NOT slowing down enough to cause things to fall back together, the best it can be measured the expansion is not slowing from gravity at all. It is in fact speeding up. The pieces of the universe are accelerating outward. Force equals mass times acceleration. There must be an outward force. This of course assumes that we can trust observations made over a very long distance. We are assuming that the same principles apply to measuring light that has traveled the short distance from the sun to the earth and to light that has come across the universe over long periods of time. That may be the whole basis of the anomaly. But for now we do not know. It appears that there is an acceleration outward against the predictions of the physics we know.
So now people are saying that Einstein said there was an outward force and we seem to be seeing one so he has been vindicated. This is the force Einstein himself predicted. Wrong! First Einstein would not want to be vindicated. If the stars are not going to stay at sort of fixed distances, and they are not, then there is no need for the force Einstein predicted and he would be the first to want to dispense with it. Just because he mistakenly suggested one mysterious outward force to explain one hypothetical effect that was more the result of wishful thinking than of observation and there is another effect that requires an outward force does not mean it is the same force.
It seems to me that the people who want to say that Einstein predicted this outward force are a lot like the people who try to draw relations between the philosophy of ancient mystics and modern physicists like Gary Zukav in his book THE DANCING WU LI MASTERS. I don't happen to believe that ancient mystics knew anything of modern quantum physics and the drawing of a relation between the two smacks of superstition. One has to accept that coincidences exist and if we have to postulate a new outward force in the universe, it is deceptive to say that it was predicted by Einstein. Einstein would be the first to say that the newly postulated force should be associated with contemporary discoverers. [-mrl]
Quote of the Week:
The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. -- George Bernard Shaw