Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Scientific Mafia

The Overrated "Masters" of the Universe


There are those in our midst who seem to believe that, once again, man is on the thresh-hold of discovering the answers to the final secrets of the Universe. This is undoubtedly an echo from the final years of the nineteenth century but, after that period of premature claims, one might have expected a little more reticence from the modern godfathers of world science.

However, sensibly keeping quiet does not seem a virtue of these people, to the extent that, on two recent Monday evenings on British television, the public has been given the opportunity to participate in the life and achievements of the ‘Master of the Universe’, Stephen Hawking. While no-one can but admire his courage and tenacity in the face of extreme physical handicap, one must question the power and importance of his scientific achievements. Indeed, when it comes to discovering the secrets of the Universe, precisely what are his achievements?

Many will be horrified at these words and the seeming impertinence of this question, but it is a question which must be asked, and answered, not because of Hawking the man, but because of what he represents. He is, in fact, in the eyes of many, the figurehead of that largely faceless body which controls what is, and is not, contained in that body of scientific knowledge which may be termed conventional wisdom; that body of scientific knowledge which is simply not open to question. Many topics are included in this but those of immediate concern here are probably the theories of relativity (both special and general), the theory of the ‘big bang’, the theory of black holes, etc.

As Stephen Crothers has recently pointed out, this final topic should really be a non-starter, based as it is on an incorrect statement of Schwartzschild’s solution of the Einstein field equations. However, again as Stephen has pointed out, even the incorrectly quoted ‘solution’ is included in, and protected by, conventional wisdom. One further surprising aspect of much of conventional wisdom is that the originators of much of this body of knowledge would have welcomed discussion and even criticism, provided that criticism was constructive. In this day and age, however, people who disagree with conventional wisdom do not face discussion and constructive criticism; rather they are either quietly ignored or destroyed. The first of these is possibly the more destructive action occurring in modern science because if something is quietly ignored, it gains no publicity and so remains unknown, except to the favoured few. This brings me directly to the whole idea of an electric universe.

Electric Universe - a natural alternative?

I first encountered the notion when reading the small book Rival Theories of Cosmology, which was published by Oxford University Press in 1960 and contains a ‘symposium and discussion of modern theories of the structure of the universe’. Originally there had been three talks on BBC radio and to these had been added a short discussion of the main points advanced in favour of relativistic theories of the universe (essentially what we now know as the big bang), the steady state theory, and an electric universe. Interestingly, there seemed no major disagreement between the advocates of the latter two theories, but both were at odds with the relativistic theories. To some extent, such is still the case but possibly the divide is increasing.

More recently, I have read The Electric Universe and have been further shocked by what I’ve read. Shocked because I was made even more aware of the power being exercised by the scientific mafia to protect accepted theories; shocked because, although I was aware of the work of Kristian Birkeland through contacts in Scandinavia, I realised that he was totally unknown to colleagues, some of whom work in plasma physics. To me, all this raises grave questions about the conduct of modern science.

However, another point which emerged very forcibly from my reading was the realisation that, although the conventional ‘big bang’ school rules out all interference from outside and demands that everyone describe everything in terms of the gravitational force, the electric universe adherents, while being able to describe so much, so accurately, make no attempt to rule out gravity completely even though it is such a weak force by comparison. This open-mindedness and unwillingness to completely ignore something is surely an indication of the true way of science.

When all is said and done, man produces models to describe something which, whatever else it may be, is certainly not man-made. All these man-made models are approximate. What else could we expect from our relatively puny human intellect? Nevertheless, because of all this, nothing should be thrown away. As someone once said of the conflict between the big bang and steady state theories for the origin of the universe, probably the true answer will involve aspects of both.

The power of math

One further point needs stressing, I think. I was initially trained as a mathematician, although my degree did involve two years of subsidiary physics. Over the years, I have come to realise more and more the power of mathematics but also the fact that that power can be misused. Mathematics is a beautiful subject and can be studied, in its own right, as a highly worthwhile intellectual pursuit. However, mathematics has a second role as the language of physics and, in that rĂ´le, it is simply a tool which must always remain subservient to the physics. If the mathematics throws up a result which does not accord with physical reality, it should be studied carefully but not accepted immediately unless a genuine physical interpretation can be found; the physics must never ever be made to fit the mathematics!

In our modern world, though, the mathematics being used to attempt to describe physical reality is becoming ever more complicated so that only the favoured few can follow. String theory is a perfect example of this, where many of the personnel involved are abstract pure mathematicians with little or no real interest in physics and yet huge claims are made of the advances in physical understanding coming from that area. It seems that many are claiming to be close to establishing a theory of everything.

What is meant by this is not completely clear but presumably it involves a grand unification of the fundamental forces. This I find intriguing since, as yet, no-one even knows exactly what a force is. Newton’s second law of motion is said to define force but actually it only explains what a force does! This is true of all forces; what they do is well known but precisely what they are remains a mystery. No; whatever extreme claims are made, the truth is that there is much to learn and discover and real advances will be made by people working together, rather than competing with one another aggressively.

It seems it is time for all clear thinking true scientists to band together to oppose the present day prostitution of science. The scientific mafia may hold the power of when and where people can, and cannot, publish; they may hold most of the research purse strings; but, in the end, the search for the truth must, and will, triumph!

Jeremy Dunning-Davies.

Editor's Notes: Dr. Jeremy Dunning-Davies is a Senior Lecturer in Theoretical Physics in the Department of Physics at the University of Hull, England. He is Chairman of both the Santilli - Einstein Academy of Sciences, and the Santilli - Galilei Association on Scientific Truth and is also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Dr. Dunning-Davies has recently launched a book titled "Exploding a Myth: 'Conventional Wisdom' or Scientific Truth?" and published by Horwood Publishing Limited in England.

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