Nancy and Dennis provided the following summary of our August 12th meeting.

Today’s video consisted of a video of a talk given by Lawrence Krauss on cosmology, entitled “A Universe From Nothing.” (This talk can be viewed online here). This talk, given at the 2009 Atheist Alliance International Convention, contained some heavy-duty physics discussion, no matter that Krauss tried to water it down for lay people like ourselves. Krauss freely admitted he got interested in cosmology because of his desire to discover how we as humans on earth will meet our final denouement, and said he originally had several more colorful titles in mind for this speech but that they didn’t pass the censors.

The mystery, the not knowing, this is the excitement in science for Krauss; and he feels that this need to discover fuels scientific research. He pits this against religious teachings, which he says purport to know everything already.

He began by talking about Einstein, who tried to design equations to allow for all matter, and about Edwin Hubble, who discovered, among other things, that the universe is expanding uniformly and in all directions – a very difficult concept to get into one’s head. The Church, hard put to deal with this apparent proof, responded that science had now validated the Book of Genesis; then some in the Church decided this response was a bad approach since the theory took us back to before God, theoretically. Big problem for theists.

In discussing the expanding universe, Krauss talked a bit about how the velocity of expansion is proportional to distance, and how distances to the stars were determined. Exploding stars now give us the datapoint for this, a “standard candle.” In an aside Krauss remarked that we are all made of matter from exploding stars. We don’t need religion, Krauss joked. “A star died so that you could live!”

Krauss also explained how particles of “nothing” could be measured indirectly, and how we could then infer that “empty” space contains vastly more matter than matter we can perceive, perhaps as much as 90%. This stuff, termed “dark matter” by scientists, keeps the galaxies from flying apart and is a new type of elementary particle. The search is ongoing to prove, weigh, and measure it. Krauss’ speech, in 2009, came out before the Higgs Bosun particle was discovered, but that finding has only supported his discussion.

At this point we stopped the video, to be continued next week. Our discussion afterward ranged from questions and discussions on the science presented, to the presenter’s habit of religion-bashing. We do have to take into account Krauss was speaking to an atheist convention and would probably have modified his delivery for another type audience. 

 
 
 
 
 

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