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Ptolemy vs. Copernicus

 
 
yitwail
 
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2006 02:03 pm
i could have placed this topic in Spirituality & Religion, but i'm looking for an explanation more than a debate. i found a quote from Astronomer Fred Hoyle in a creationist site:

Quote:


http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2004/0322holzmann.asp

however, since the Coriolis effect & Foucault Pendulum establish that the earth *does* move, isn't Copernican theory more correct? (unless the Ptolemaic system could be expanded to explain those phenomena, and others like stellar parallax, that are caused by earth's motion?)
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Type: Discussion • Score: 0 • Views: 2,792 • Replies: 32
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2006 02:46 pm
This sounds a lot like the observer-centeed universe theory, popular with some quantum physicists. Essentially, it posits that since we can only describe what we observe from our particular locus, then we are, in fact, at the center of the universe, as we can only see things as they relate to us. (Gross oversimplification, I know.) In this view, the fact that the Earth and other planets appear to circle the sun is an irrelevancy.
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Aug, 2006 03:55 pm
observations of satellites apparently confirmed what's termed "frame-dragging"--a prediction of General Relativity that a rotating body drags space-time along with it by a minute amount. there's also a recently conducted NASA mission, named Gravity Probe B, that was supposed to measure this effect. they won't be announcing results until early 2007, maybe; there's a nice webpage on it here:

http://einstein.stanford.edu/

and this from a relativity Q&A at the same site:

Quote:
How does general relativity incorporate rotation?

It seems that way.

If you spin a bucket of water, the surface of the water deforms because as Mach said it is rotating with respect to the frame of the distant fixed stars, then by relativity, we should be able to keep the bucked fixed and rotate the universe with the same angular velocity, and the water should still deform even though the bucket is not 'actually' rotating. Evidently, in the 1960's, theorists were able to give a partial answer to whether these two experiments gave the same outcome, and showed that the two 'experiments' in general relativity would give equal outcomes.

A second question was whether performing the rotating experiment in a completely EMPTY universe would show NO change in the surface of the water even with the bucket rotating. There is no meaningful way to test this, and so it is not a physical question.

Currently, a number of sophisticated experiments are planned involving rotating bodies in Earth orbit, to verify other physical outcomes predicted by general relativity for rotating reference frames and gravitational fields.


now, if you rotated 2 buckets of water, the universe couldn't rotate around both of them, i imagine. so, considering all the rotating objects there must be in the universe, it seems unlikely that the earth should be the one that doesn't actually rotate, but apparently no way to disprove that, provided the Gravity Probe B results confirm General Relativity. Confused
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2006 06:20 am
Quote:


This is complete BS. No change in reference frame will equate these two theories. There are many direct consequences of the theories which predict very different results that can be validated experimentally, and this is how the Ptolemaic model was recognized to be false in the first place. For instance, the Ptolemaic model predicts that Venus can never be seen in full phase, which it can.
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2006 12:12 pm
s505, you're quite right. Hoyle is equating geocentrism with the Ptolemaic model, which is the best known geocentric model but known to be false. however, a stationary earth, with the sun orbiting it and all the other planets orbiting the sun, might be indistinguishable from a heliocentric solar system.

it's interesting to examine the Catholic Church's pretext for Galileo's Inquisition in this regard. according to the online Catholic Encyclopedia,

Quote:
...it must not be forgotten that, while there was as yet no sufficient proof of the Copernican system, no objection was made to its being taught as an hypothesis which explained all phenomena in a simpler manner than the Ptolemaic, and might for all practical purposes be adopted by astronomers. What was objected to was the assertion that Copernicanism was in fact true, "which appears to contradict Scripture".


this sounds a lot like Creationists' insistence that evolution is just a theory, yet Creationists don't seem to mind the heliocentric solar system being taught in schools as fact. Confused
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2006 12:30 pm
Quote:
s505, you're quite right. Hoyle is equating geocentrism with the Ptolemaic model, which is the best known geocentric model but known to be false. however, a stationary earth, with the sun orbiting it and all the other planets orbiting the sun, might be indistinguishable from a heliocentric solar system.


Certainly you could consider the Earth to be the center of an arbitrary coordinate system, but in this case the equations of motion for everything else would NOT be elliptical, in fact they would not even be CYCLICAL, and wouldn't even be possible to compute!
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spendius
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2006 12:32 pm
yitwail wrote-

Quote:
this sounds a lot like Creationists' insistence that evolution is just a theory, yet Creationists don't seem to mind the heliocentric solar system being taught in schools as fact.


The reason being that such a system does not have any important social consequences whereas the teaching of Darwin does.

Arthur Koestler's The Sleepwalkers is interesting on your subject.
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2006 12:36 pm
stuh505 wrote:
Certainly you could consider the Earth to be the center of an arbitrary coordinate system, but in this case the equations of motion for everything else would NOT be elliptical, in fact they would not even be CYCLICAL, and wouldn't even be possible to compute!


in which case God truly works in mysterious ways. Surprised
0 Replies
 
stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2006 12:52 pm
Rolling Eyes
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2006 08:45 pm
Perhaps you should have put this in the religion thread. The writer of this article neither understands or even respects science.

The science is well understood by any first year physics student. There is a simple difference between an inertial frame of reference and a non-inertial frame of reference. The earth is a non-inertial reference frame meaning that you can detect the effects of an accelarating frame (such as the coriolis effect).

But the problem is the desire of religious people to distort science-- in fact they must distort science in order to support beliefs that simple aren't supported by an objective look of the evidence.

The author explains it this way

Quote:

What we object to is using science magisterially to override what the [Bible] plainly teaches. For example, we object to using ‘science’ to deny a global Flood at the time of Noah, because the Bible clearly teaches this. However, we use true science to attempt to figure out the pre-Flood/Flood boundary or the Flood/post-Flood boundary in the geological record; and in the process we gain greater insight into the nature of this divine judgment. Similarly, we do not let ‘science’ explain away the literal days of creation or the order of creation (e.g. plants appeared before sea creatures and birds appeared before land animals). But we use solid biological science to better understand what God meant when He said that He created the plants and animals to reproduce ‘after their kind.’


Religion is not science. If you want a religious explanation then you go to religious people. If you want a scientific explanation you should go to a scientist.

Science is based on logic based on evidence and mathematics. It is a mistake to accept a view of science distorted by religion beliefs.
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ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Aug, 2006 09:23 pm
Merry Andrew wrote:
This sounds a lot like the observer-centeed universe theory, popular with some quantum physicists.


Popular with "some quantum physicists"!?!? I detect your scorn of "some" quantum physicists but you don't seem to understand any of quantum physics.

Quantum physics is based on a set of mathematical equations that are accepted because of their success in explaining how electrons work in experiments and in technology. In fact the computer you are reading this on depends on quantum physics.

There is a strange implication of these equations which imply that observing subatomic particles changes their state. Again, if you are reading this on a computer, then these equations correctly predict the way that electrons bounce through the semiconductors in you computer.

I don't think ANY quantum phycisists would use the term Observer Centered Universe.

But Quantum physics does say that observing particles changes their states in ways that are counter-intuitive.

If you don't accept this, I suggest you stop using any semiconductor based computers right away (and if it fits in a single room, it is semiconductor-based)

Quote:

Essentially, it posits that since we can only describe what we observe from our particular locus, then we are, in fact, at the center of the universe, as we can only see things as they relate to us. (Gross oversimplification, I know.) In this view, the fact that the Earth and other planets appear to circle the sun is an irrelevancy.


This is simply incorrect. Quantum Mechanics posits nothing of the sort.

General Relativity (which is a completely different branch of physics) teaches that all reference frames are equally valid meaning that any point is equally the center (or no points are the center).

No one-- not General Relativity, not Quantum Mechanics... no one says the fact the Earth and other planet appear to circle the sun is an irrelevancy.

Don't expect that physics you learn from the pulpit is valid.
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 03:46 am
ebrown_p -- mea culpa.[/] You're right: I'm no physicist, nor pretend to be. I don't, however, understand the last sentence of your post.
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stuh505
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 07:26 am
If you wanted to learn about religion you wouldn't ask a physicist, and by the same token, if you wan't to learn about physics you can't ask a religious fanatic.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 08:02 am
It is useful to understand where Hoyle was coming from. He was undoubtedly one of the most important astronomers of the twentieth century, and only missed a Nobel prize because his early work was overlooked. However, while acknowledging the value of Hubble's work which revealed the red shift and the expansion of the visible universe, he rejected what he contemptuously referred to as "the Big Bang." (He is often credited with coining the term because he publicly used the term in 1950, when it was not yet in currency--in fact, the term was coined by a Belgian cleric.) He long defended a steady state model for the universe, and pressed in the debate, especially as new evidence confirmed Hubble's thesis and the expanding universe model, he opted for a "creation field" explanation of existence of matter, ridiculing the notion that all matter and energy would be spontaneous generated. For that rather obvious reason, he became a darling of creationists (although not the young earth variety). Pushed further and further to the theoretic wilderness by new data, he long clung to his theory, and postulated what is now often derided as "punctuated creation"--the continuos, occasional creation of matter. He fought back by pointing out the flaws in confirmatory data, especailly the geological evidence that suggested that the earth was older than the cosmos itself. However, radio interferometry and confirmation of background radiation, combining to demonstrate more matter in the universe than previously thought, pushed the age of the cosmos back before the origin of the earth, and Hoyle was left high and dry on the cosmological sidelines.

I don't profess any profound knowledge of astronomy and physics, so one would want to do research on Hoyle and his theories, to understand them better than my poor ability to express them. He seems, though, to have become desparate to defend his cosmological view, and to become more and more "ossified," and more and more likely to lash out at evidence which contradicted his view. This lead him to question Darwin's theory of biodiversity arising from natural selection, further endearing him to creationist. Hoyle also became a science fiction author, along with his son, and creationist sites shamelessly quote passages of his fiction, in one of the most eggregious examples of quote mining.

Hoyle is a fascinating character, and the very avatar of the academic who cannot accept the refutation of his core position. I highly recommend reading up on him.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 08:07 am
By the way, Hoyle was no religious fanatic. He was intelligent to a degree few people ever attain to--that he consistently defended his steady state model, and was so lead down strange paths, should not be the basis to dismiss him. The religious fanaticism which swirls around his name comes from creationists who have shamelessly exploited his statements, usually out of context, because it allows them to contend that brilliant scientist was a young earth creationist, which is nothing but a big fat lie.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 08:07 am
By the way, Hoyle was no religious fanatic. He was intelligent to a degree few people ever attain to--that he consistently defended his steady state model, and was so lead down strange paths, should not be the basis to dismiss him. The religious fanaticism which swirls around his name comes from creationists who have shamelessly exploited his statements, usually out of context, because it allows them to contend that a brilliant scientist was a young earth creationist, which is nothing but a big fat lie.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 08:09 am
Bookmark.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 08:12 am
Sorry for the double post--marginally sorry, anyway.
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yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 08:16 am
Setanta wrote:
Hoyle is a fascinating character, and the very avatar of the academic who cannot accept the refutation of his core position. I highly recommend reading up on him.


Set, seems to me that no less a scientist than Einstein was subject to the same shortcoming in his refusal to accept quantum mechanics.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Aug, 2006 08:21 am
Indeed, Yit. I have been a student of history for all of my reading life, beginning at age seven. I have often questioned received historical wisdom, and have been ridiculed for it. It is extremely difficult to walk a line between "court historians" and "revisionists." I am glad that i never made an academic career of history--the pettiness is incredible and disgusting. I think how much more difficult it would be for those in scientific disciplines to back down from their positions, given that science is a field of investigation in which the refutation of one's cherished notions can be sudden and brutal. In other disciplines, one can fight to the last ditch. In science, evidence can destroy one's entire thesis virtually overnight, and how difficult it is for us to surrender our cherished beliefs, even if it just the excellence of our favorite football team, nevermind one's life's work.
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