## Sunday, December 24, 2006

### WMAP, COBE, CMB critics

Most of the members of the physics community have received a very polite e-mail - that could also be called "spam" - with links to the following three articles printed in "Progress in physics":

The first two papers were written by Pierre-Marie Robitaille, an influential experimenter from Ohio State University, while the last one is the work of Dmitri Rabounski. All of them are beautifully and professionally written and the first paper called "WMAP: a radiological analysis" contains nice pictures - both from astronomy as well as biology.

The only problem is that the content of all of them is complete nonsense. The first paper argues that the ☛COBE and ☛WMAP images do not satisfy the standards from NMR in medicine because of things like a low signal-to-noise ratio - such a low ratio that the medicine NMR people would be lost, he argues. ;-)

That's very cute but the first paper doesn't seem to explain what the pictures from COBE and WMAP - pictures that clearly agree at the qualitative level, to say the least - are actually showing except that it must surely be something inside our Galaxy or the Earth. However, this fact doesn't prevent the author from arguing that all cosmological implications of the WMAP satellite are statistically insignificant. Wow.

The real target are not just some details of the anisotropies: the target is the CMB itself. Why?

The remaining two papers - by two different authors - complete the revolutionary picture by providing the reader with the hypothetical non-cosmological source of the microwave background: it's the oceans! The last paper interprets this radiation from the oceans as the "monopole radiation". ;-) The water apparently conspires to produce a perfect blackbody spectrum with the extremely cool 2.7K temperature, including the nearly scale-invariant perturbations at the level of 0.001% that seem to agree with inflationary cosmology.

Figure 1: The oceans, a new source of the OMB (Ocean Microwave Background).

Do you really think that this is more reasonable than the creationist explanations of the fossils? If you do, what's exactly the difference?

If Prof. Robitaille and Mr. Rabounski learned a lesson from the recently successful crackpots, they will also argue that the cosmologists are speaking about extreme densities that can't be experimentally reproduced and about astronomical distances that we will never be able to reach. Their science is thus not falsifiable and any science that is based on observable physics such as the oceans is therefore automatically preferred especially because the oceans are cosmic-microwave-background-independent. :-)

The oceans are much closer to the spirit of the humans: they are almost as good an explanation as the anthropogenic explanation that is also guaranteed to be popular with the media. In other words, stars and galaxies suck. 900+ citations for Spergel et al. (2006) will be used as another piece of evidence of the troubles with cosmology, of their groupthink, and of their suppression of the original thinkers.

Robitaille is learning quickly. The basic error behind the Big Bang myth is Kirchhoff's error he made 140 years ago when he declared the universality of the blackbody spectrum. :-) In fact, as Robitaille argues in the PDF 2 paper, Planck's formula is just a mathematical abstraction without any physical content: only graphite and soot happen to be close to this abstraction for no good reason. ;-) Well, this is a good strategy: everyone must agree by now that the scientists who rely on mathematical methods must be charlatans who are not even wrong.

More seriously, the authors are clearly unaware that the blackbody character of the microwave background has been checked in detail - the CMB is actually the most perfect natural blackbody curve we have ever observed. It is much more perfect than the blackbody radiation from graphite or soot and if the authors would have problems to extract this result from the data, the cosmologists apparently didn't have this problem. Experimentally, there's no doubt that the radiation arises from some kind of nearly perfect thermal equilibrium, whether someone likes it or not. Moreover, we seem to know where and when this equilibrium took place. It was everywhere and less than 400,000 years after the Big Bang.

Figure 2: A comparison of COBE data with the 2.725 Kelvin blackbody curve. The actual error bars are 400 times smaller than the picture from a great introduction to cosmology by Ned Wright shows.

Nevertheless, it is completely plausible that a significant fraction of the recipients of the e-mail will conclude that there is a new controversy about the cosmic microwave background. This controversy will be supported by these beautiful papers that are full of quotes of authorities including Max Planck. The first author is a leader of a \$10 million laboratory so surely he can't be a cosmological crackpot, can he? What do you think, Mr. George Johnson?

And there is not just one person who says that the Big Bang is doomed and the correct explanation is terrestrial, not celestial - which will allow us to return to a geocentric picture of the world as promoted by great philosophers of good faith. There are two scientists claiming so at the same moment which is why it can't be a coincidence. And the second scientist is moreover an editor-in-chief of a scientific journal - in fact, it is even the same journal where all three papers appeared. ;-)

Besides the people who are intrinsically unable to see that the papers make no sense and are based on misunderstanding of basic physics and cosmology, there can be other people who will support this new "theory" about CMB because they will be paid a nice trip to an exotic place. Once a couple of journalists start to describe this "controversy", cosmology may be ready to experience a similar pleasure with media as theoretical high-energy physics experienced very recently. Similar events - disinformation campaigns organized by uninformed people with the help of media - will become increasingly frequent and ever more sophisticated. The public will be increasingly immersed in printed garbage that will be indistinguishable from the real stuff by most people until some influential people realize that there exists a problem that should be solved in some way.

So the journalists, why are you still waiting? ;-) A new exciting story is awaiting your bright pens and keyboards.

Update: In order for me to demonstrate that these medieval anti-scientific attacks are indeed spreading like mosquitos, let me mention that Stephen Crothers has informed me about his/their protest against the funding of the Australian International Gravitational Observatory. His main objection is that he thinks that the Big Bang and the black holes are incompatible with General Relativity according to his understanding of physics summarized in this paper. Using dozens of equations, Stephen Crothers shows that all relativists have fatally erred in their analysis of the "Efcleethean" and "Reimannian" geometries. :-)