Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Exalted Void

Let me be right up front with you:  astronomy is one of my 'weak suits.'

That being said, I got a good laugh out of Clara Moskowitz' recent article, Do We Live in a Giant Cosmic Bubble?  It's a well-written piece, so this has nothing to do with Ms. Moskowitz, per se.  The article more-or-less gives an alternative view to the typical understanding of 'space' and the whole dark matter/dark energy debacle.  Some scientists are now postulating:
Earth may be trapped in an abnormal bubble of space-time that is particularly void of matter. Scientists say this condition could account for the apparent acceleration of the universe's expansion, for which dark energy currently is the leading explanation.
The humor hits towards the end of the article.  Apparently, the biggest initial objection to this theory is that it means the earth is special.  Moskowitz writes that the void theory:

... negates a principle that has reigned in astronomy for more than 450 years: namely, that our place in the universe isn't special. When Nicholas Copernicus argued that it made much more sense for the Earth to be revolving around the sun than vice versa, it revolutionized science. Since then, most theories have to pass the Copernican test. If they require our planet to be unique, or our position to be exalted, the ideas often seem unlikely.  [emphasis mine]

I couldn't make this stuff up.  I wish I could.  It's a challenge to "science" for any view to postulate that the earth is unique.  I'm sorry... that's just hilarious.  Is earth not unique?  Does empirical evidence not support this?  Isn't earth still the only known planet with life on it?  Not just life - but intelligent life?  Isn't earth the only known planet able to support life as we know it?  Don't we have an abundance of H2O in liquid form here?  Is that not special?

Anyway, I don't mean to rant.  When I read statements like:
"This idea that we live in a void would really be a statement that we live in a special place," Clifton told "The regular cosmological model is based on the idea that where we live is a typical place in the universe. This would be a contradiction to the Copernican principle."

... I just have to laugh.

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