Friday, July 20, 2007

A Universe, a big-bang

The story and history of big-bang model of universe is in itself a story rich with human travesties an triumphs. The story involves some theologists, some theorists, some experimenters and some mavericks.

I will be touching very briefly upon the work of these giants(for i cannot do better) as i take you on a tour of big-bang. However, dear reader, i warn you that you read this blog at your own risk because to a certain extent it draws heavily from the material my brain sucled in uniterrupted gulps from the wonderful book on big bang by simon singh. But let me make myself very clear "i cannot better a simon singh."

So with the above in my mind and with me having paid credit where credit is due we ponder over the following questions in silence for a few moments " How can one be sure of this model? why is this theory held as the chalice of modern science? who were the scientists who fought to bring acceptance to this unorthodox theory?"

There are obviously many other questions you can add to the list and we will try tackling most of them. At present the approach which seems only fitting to me, is a historical one. Lets ask ourselves "How could one actually believe that the earth was round"...

This is what i call the tragedy of the situation. In fact, how surprising the notion of round earth seem to us all in our early life!!! But once you get used to it, the trouble begins. Without any proper explanation staring in face this is nothing more than a burdened-but-real-give-in of our minds to scientific progress.

Perhaps the recent fight over Pluto's planat-ic (not platonic!!) status illustrates a case in point. Pluto is a planet if scientists believe so...otherwise its not. The blatant truth is NASA is itself divided among those who say Pluto is a planet and those who say it ain't.

I by no means happen to know whatPluto actually is and by no means do i proclaim to know what truth will emerge after a heated scientific debate. But i know enough to comment on philosophy of good science. In good science, like in any good detective novel, a fact which amazes most of the readers, in most cases, leaves other equally dumbsturck.

In other words whats brain-storming for you is brainstorming for me and usually the vice-versa also holds true.

But, with a round-earth, i believe things differ. We wonder equally and passionately about how earth could be round when kids but when we see satelite photos and other high distance ultra quality online-streaming, we know different.

The story of how roundness of earth was established, sings the unrivalled glory of human victory over human traditionalism. It begins with a Polish named Nikola Copernika. He is better known as - Copernicus.

Copernicus was able to "see" the earth's images with pure thought experiments and aided by sheer logic. That logic was deveoped in Greece, polished in Arabic countries and developed formally from its torn parts into a coherent system by Copernicus.

Long back, Aristotle had commented that the earth is flat and is the centre of the universe around which other planets and sun move in circles. To those of you who think gravitation was not a big idea, it seems best to let you know that at this point of time the falling down of objects to earth was a fact readily explained by earth's centrality.

However, Aristoragus, a contemporary of Aristotle, saw a problem. He knew that earth was the centre of the universe - thats okay so far. He expected everything to move around the earth in perfect circles - thats okay. What was not okay, was the fact that planets close to earth -mars and venus- moved in a strange way. They seemed to be exhibiting retrograde motion

This horrible name is understood quite simply. Actually this motion is what you can expect to see if you are watching a object cutting a circular path nearby. (the object is not circling you but circling something different. In case the object were to circle you, you will see uniformity in its motion. It will never speed up or slow down.)

But this is what Mars and Venus did. And if Aristogarus was thinking along the right direction (which he was) probably earth and mars were both cutting circles. Those circles could be around anything (not necessarily same). However, this idea was rejected, slayed by hypothesis of famed Aristotle. Still there were some who held this idea in a serious vein until they met Plato and his epicyles.

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