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PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:13 pm 
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Cliff wrote:
Dear Ian
Does it matter where "god" comes\came from.
Arguably wanting to know that is falling into the same trap as cosmologists who think it might be possible to know everything.


I tend to think of the search for knowledge as wanting to know more rather than wanting to know everything. As to whether we can know "everything" - does it matter as that is such a long way away. and even if we did know everything would we know we knew everything (would some bright spark in a lab suddenly discover the answer to the last unknown ...).

I regard science as the search to understand more and better.I think cosmologists are just following that - trying to understand more and better.

As to where god came from - well we (some of us) are interested in where our Universe came from and if the answer offered by others if "from god" them it is a fair question to want to understand more and better about the universe creating god; in the same way as we want to know more about the depths of the sea, how matter works, environmental changes, etc., etc.

Ian


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:31 am 
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We can't know everything for the obvious reason that we live in an evolving universe. There are always new phenomena coming along.
Even if physicists had their Holy Grail of a unified theory of the Universe, change would still exercise an all-powerful presence, so there will always be something new to explore.
As for the Almighty, some of us are content to let the "Hereafter" look after itself. It seems to be the case that humanity is what it is through self-help. :D

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 1:31 pm 
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Dear Ian and Brian
I think we may be nearer in our opinion\ideas than one first might think.
Ian; I think your thoughts about where science is going (or should be) ie trying to learn more; is bang on.
I might be being as big headed as the cosmologists I tend to critiscise, but I get the vibes that cosmologists are gulity of getting ahead of themselves.
Brian; one thing I am slightly at odds with you is that you seem to put "god" in the "Almighty" bracket.
Almighty to me suggests an old fashioned religious view of GOD ie putting the fear of GOD into every body.
My thoughts of a "god" are not necessarily a religious creature (although if someone wants to worship "god" that's up to them.
I think of "god" as the possible creator. "god" possibly couldn't care less about morality or rights and wrong - "god might just enjoy watching the fun of what goes on in "god's" universe but never intervene (eg like conservationists not saving vulnerable creatures being eaten by the lion).
I don't want to suggest my idea is right, it's just a thought.
What I think I'm trying to suugest is anything goes !
Best wishes from Cliff
PS By the way, something else that occurs to me about the TV Horizon programme. Maybe, the participating cosmologists (or some of them) didn't really seriously believe in some\many of the ideas put over on the programme.
If that is\was the case I dont quite know what to make of it ?
Half of me says if that was the case I'm not impressed.
My other half has some sympathy with the cosmologists - perhaps they think extreme ideas go down well with the general telly viewers ?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 10:31 am 
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Cosmologists are members of the scientific community and can only work within the mathematical parameters set by the observational data.
If cosmologists acted like metaphysicians, sitting at desks dreaming up data-less ideas about the nature of the universe, their concepts would meet with practical failure.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with hypothesizing on the off-chance that it might lead somewhere, but the lay-person can be misled into thinking that a mere hypothesis is a genuine theory. Is "string theory" really a theory or an hypothesis only?
The HORIZON series of programmes are usually of a high standard for the lay-public, but this particular programme left much to be desired.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 8:35 pm 
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Dear Brian
I think we are splitting apart again.
From my standpoint you seem to be treating mathematics as some sort of god in itself. Indeed not just some sort of god but the be all and end all.
Secondly, I think of cosmologists as being pretty competent mathematicians. If they resort to invoking metaphysics, that might suggess to me either their knoweledge of mathematics is lacking,or possibly mathematics itself might be limited. It might be the truth (true) but not the whole truth.
I'm not quite sure what you are getting at in asking whether string concepts are really theory or hypothesis. My simplistic understanding is that the believers call it string theory and from what many "experts" tell us, String Theory is pretty sound mathematically. If that is the case and if String theory is wrong then it might not say much for mathematics.
I might ask another question, is maths a concept of nature discovered by humans, or is it a human invention ??
Even if mathematics is a perfect concept a problem might still be that humans who are rarely perfect are using it.
Anyway, I assumed (rightly or wrongly) that the cosmologists appearing on the Horizon programme were\are competent mathematicians.
Best wishes from Cliff


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:19 am 
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I think you might be misunderstanding me here, Cliff. Cosmologists work with mathematics, as do practical astronomers, but, as with the latter, they need the observational data ( e.g. COBE ) to work on. As I understand it, maths is a mental box of tools. :D
Yesterday evening's HORIZON redeemed itself with an excellent programme about perceptual psychology. Much of the information in the programme, with particular reference to the brain's perception of colour, was useful for skywatchers. It's surprising how many optical illusions we are prone to. :shock:

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:07 pm 
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Dear Brian
Thanks !
Your last response helps clarify things. My interpretation of much of your previous input was you seemed to be saying that as far as you are concerned maths is the all important factor in cosmology.
I accept maths is important but there are several other things to take into account, some being possibly just as important as maths - maybe even more important (?).
As I said before, my personal thinking is that cosmologists need to take a step back and possibly think less about computer modelling .
I even have some misgivings about more observational data being acquired to feed cosmologists with more data.
I might be being unfair but my feeling is that in the fairly recent past astronomers in general (not just cosmologists) have been collecting more data about a variety of things than they can fully analise. Possibly they jumped from one project to another too quickly.
Of course I can see another side to the argument analising data to the extreme can sometimes be counterproductive (law of dimminishing returns). I recall Newton's frustration with Flamsteed (I think it was ?) holding back publication of some results awaiting perfection.
I didn't see all the most recent Horizon prog, unfortunately I sa less than half of it. However, the final bit about German scientists apparently trying to enable humans to develope an extra sense (eg using the Earth's magnetic field to navigate) left me a bit uneasy. The young scientist on the programme seemed to assume that the possible ability of humans being able to create a evolutionary change in humankind would be a good thing - I'm not so sure myself. Whatever, that's hardly related to astronomy, so probably not suitable for discussion now.
I didn't see Horizon's piece about colour perception, which arguably is of interest to amateur astronomers.
Best wishes from Cliff


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:48 pm 
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Dear Ian (Deimos)
However, although I think about the issues from time to time, I don't worry about them too much.
Perhaps fundamental to my way of thinking is that humans will never understand\answer the ultimate questions.
I think David mentioned there are possibly many infinities, and Brian outlined what I think were his ideas about one of the possibilities.
I vaguely recall a fairly recent TV programme suggesting that some mathematicians have difficulty with the concept of infinity.
I must say I was pleased to hear that (hoping I did!).
One thing I would comment on is related to something you said earlier.
As I said previous looking back in time if the universe exists for ever, the past might be considered to have lasted an infinity of time, and looking ahead the future also an infinite time.
But that doesn't necessarily mean the past plus the future is 2 x infinity. Nor is it necessarily wrong to say it does equal 2 x infinity.
At least in my way of thinking, 2x infinity is still infinity,
whilst 0.5 x infinity is still infinity.
However, I might have difficulty in trying to explain what :-
infinity divided by infinity would be (?).
However, in order to not lose any sleep over the issue, my answer\understading would just be "Cliff's Rule(s)" :-
you cannot meaningfully add, subtract, nor divide infinity.
So it doesn't matter how far away the infinite past is now, nor how far ahead infinite time is ahead - they are total unknowns. If they werent unknown the universe couldn't be infinite.
Although I suppose it arguable that things get awkward if the universe is infinite old (in the past), but will only exist some fixed measurable time in the future (eg suppose the universe is only going to last 100 years in the future.
One way of looking at that is :-
Infinity + 100 years = Infinity.
My get out for that is "we (humans) do not have a clue when the universe will end. So any supposed "numerical" answer is meaningless. :-

Basically (at least from our point of view), we are here now and that's what matters.
Both my parents are dead, I like to think I have real memories of both of them. But soon no one existing will have any real direct connection with my parents and even if someone knowing them had written a book or filmed them, I do not think anyone reading the book or seeing the film would have a proper grasp of what my parents were really like. Go ahead a few hundred years and no matter how famous my parents might have been, peoples future understanding of them would be pretty poor. Go ahead a few thousand years and (???????????). Well that's my get outs !
Best of luck from Cliff (I'm not sure about you but I certainly need it ie good luck).


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:06 pm 
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Dear Cliff,

How about infinity squared?

Or infinity to the power of infinity.

Best not to try and think about it.

Regards, David


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:21 pm 
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Dear David
I did actually think about it - at least up to infinity squared. But I realised I was just tying myself up in knotts !
On the other hand, I think I do like to think about it, because I'm no great mathematician myself but its possibly the best chance I might have of indicating mathematics might not have the answers to everything.
best wishes from Cliff


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:43 pm 
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David Frydman wrote:
Dear Cliff,

How about infinity squared?

Or infinity to the power of infinity.


I had always thought (probably incorrectly) that infinity+1=infinity etc. (incl. infinity**infinity=infinity).

Ian


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:42 pm 
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Dear al(L)
I cann't see why there is this amazing sort of hang up about "god".
As I've said many times, I'm not religious, so in a way "god" isn't important to me (even if there is one).
As far as I am concerned myself humans will never understand everything.
I admit whether there is a god (or not) does interest me, but I am pretty convinced I will never know the answer (and think no humans ever will).
Many years ago I was happy to accept the Big Bang - as far as I was concerned cosmology was graspable then (although in fact of course my understanding of cosmology was very simplistic then and "real astronomers" knew a lot more.
However, still trying to look at it simplistically still, if anything cosmology seems to get ever more complicated, and we (ie humans are no nearer to determining the ultimate answer than we were before).
From what I gather Edwin Powell Hubble who I think tentatively discovered the general trend of galaxies to be moving outwards, himself never claimed the Universe was expanding and originated with the Big Bang (others made that claim though Hubble might happily have accepted it).
Whilst some cosmologists now seem to imply that just one more really big break through will solve all their problems.
I personally think not.
However, I do think that if there is a "god" (or a maffia of "gods") it could simplify everything.
Where did god or the god maffia come from(?) well I'll say he came from infinity an infinite time ago and when we observe that far we'll see him, her or them (of course my cop out!). Meantime hopefully the mathematicians will tell us all the answers and where god is (or maybe a few places god isn't).
Amongst othe things having a god maffia gets rid of any morality and explains why there is so much unnecessary suffering in the World (which might eventually be spread all over the Universe).
When my Dad was knocking on in years, he once said to me,
"Cliff what's it all about ?"
I never said anything but I felt sure what he meant and I he was happy with my blank-response. We never ever really discussed religion very much, but I think we could both be "classified" (although I hate classifying and categorising everything) as agnostics.
Best wishes from Cliff


Last edited by Cliff on Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 2:48 pm 
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there are whole complex orders of infinity, used by mathematicians as notations. Whether these thought trains have any practical use is questionable. But these thought processes can lead to useful work.

Regards, David.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:00 pm 
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Dear David
''''''Whether these thought trains (ie mathematical) have any practical use is questionable (?).
But these thought processes can lead to useful work.'''''''
I agree with that-IF THEY AGREE WITH ME !!!!!
Best wishes from Cliff (sorry if that's being naughty !).


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2010 3:19 pm 
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Discoveries often come from unlikely sources often unrelated to the original ideas or theories. Mathematicians have provided new insight into various problems. Whether the world is a better place because of this I don't know.

For instance although I am using the internet I have grave misgivings as to whether it should ever have been invented. It may benefit mankind or it could turn out to be our undoing.

I also think it crazy that if we have any sign of intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy we should try to contact them. The longer we can avoid such contact in my opinion the better.

But as I have said we all have our own opinions and beliefs or non beliefs, and if we don't harm others that is fine.

Best regards, David.


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