Things I Do Not Know But Which Make Me Wonder: Du

The Big Bang Theory – the scientific theory not the television comedy – is beginning to seem a bit creaky. For some time now there has been entertaining hand waving to explain how the universe expanded much faster than the speed of light, but nothing else can travel so fast. Some say the universe is still expanding faster than the speed of light. Then there is the large scale structure of the universe. There shouldn’t be any. The dispersion from an explosion should be random and lacking in organization.

Now there is more. When I was studying cosmology there was a debate. The expansion of the universe was slowing. People such as Stephen Hawking debated whether the universe was massive enough to stop the expansion and reverse into a Big Crunch. People were arguing these two choices.

Now we are told that the expansion of the universe is not decelerating but accelerating. This acceleration is tagged Dark Energy. Roger Penrose says the one thing we know about Dark Energy is that it is not energy. By E=mc2 energy should have mass and slow the expansion of the Big Bang.

But there were alternative theories. The Big Bang won the contest before the creakiness was discovered. I just keep remembering that Fred Hoyle and the Steady-State folks predicted an acceleration pushing Galaxies away from each other. A negative gravity if you will.

The idea was that virtual particles arising out of the quantum froth or vanishing back into it would have a gravitational effect. In places were there is much matter there would be more vanishings than appearances. Particles cannot vanish where they do not exist When a particle vanished there would be an effect we call gravity. . And in places were there are no particles they could only appear with an effect of negative gravity. The empty cells between super-clusters would be an ideal place for such a phenomenon. Negative Gravity would seem a candidate for Dark Energy.

This would seem silly moonshine to me. But:

Fred Hoyle and the Steady-State people were bright and accomplished.

Between Inflation, Dark Energy, and large scale structure the Big Bang is looking creaky.

A prediction with an unexpected suggestion of verification after forty or fifty years arrests my intention.

I know ‘Sir Fred is off his rocker.” And I am not too up on defunct physical theories from before my birth. But there is the proposed explanation for both Dark Energy and gravity. And a reinterpretation of the 2.7K background may be easier than shoehorning the new data back into the Big Bang one more time.


Things I Do Not Know But Which Make Me Wonder: Unu

Every few years when I was younger there was a story. At least once it made it on the Associated Press. I considered it silly and tawdry. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t true; the number of insane and cruel acts in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was staggering. They mostly don’t get the news because they were overshadowed by the truly shocking murder of tens of millions. And after discussing the more important actions, one is too tired to discuss the merely bizarre.

It has been reported that Stalin hired Ilya Ivanovich Ivanov to create Human-Ape hybrids. Russian generals dreamt of workers and soldiers who were impervious to hunger, sleep deprivation, and cold. They also hoped for greater strength and ferocity. Dictators often wish to replace their people with a population that would be better for them. So far this is cheap, tawdry, failed, and pointless. It is also alleged that Ivanov may not have done this at all but just taken the money and played along.

But Stalin did not believe in Darwinian Evolution and Mendelian genetics. Stalin was a Lysenkoist. He believed in acquired characteristics. If a Kenyan couple is moved to Finland then their children will be more resistant to the cold than children brought straight to Finland from Kenya. If I put my seed packets in the freezer, then my plants will be less damaged by frosts. Absolute nonsense. But when the dictator believes nonsense prudent people play along. It is safer and remunerative. Ivanov is evidence that Stalin held these goals for workers inured to cold and hunger. But how would Stalin have met his goals in a manner in which he believed?

Many people were made to work to death by cold and hunger in the Gulags. Important people such as Sergei Korolev did work under such conditions. Many such people were obviously innocent. Mere innocence was not a defense. Also the death rate was low for death-camps. If penitentiaries, they made few penitent. And the output of wealth was too low for work-camps.

What I have never heard anyone suggest is that they may not have been so much a punishment as a Lysenkoist genetic experiment. Innocence didn’t matter and there were simplified rules to send people to the gulag because the gulag was not a punishment. Very few actually died because the former inmates were expected to have offspring. I believe this was the true way that Stalin sought to create the New Soviet Man.

I have no evidence for my idea. I have no expert to whom I can point. But it makes sense to me and explains the apparent gross stupidity of the Gulag.