Archive for June, 2008


Sunday, June 29th, 2008 by Terence Witt

I have a friend who’s a medical professional, but is incredibly skeptical about a wide variety of scientific topics, physics in particular. He doesn’t believe a word I tell him about anything to do with physics, from the equivalence between mass and energy to the power output of the sun. He doesn’t believe, for instance, that light is composed of photons. When I press onward, trying to establish a baseline of mutual understanding between us, digging for a common denominator, he will eventually relent that “of course the moon causes the tides!” or “of course the sun burns hydrogen!”, then look at me as if I’m an idiot. Yet this same person will believe the most ridiculous fishing anecdotes that you can possibly imagine. He’s a self-described skeptic, and for the life of me, I can never isolate the boundaries of his skepticism. But it is fun trying. Sometimes it’s difficult to resist the obvious temptation: “no, the sun actually burns coal…”.

During the course of releasing my book, which contains a number of new physics ideas, clouds of skepticism have enfolded me like a weather pattern. Remarks such as “I’m too skeptical to read something like that” or “I’m skeptical about anything that the scientists don’t agree with” are common. I’m left with the nagging suspicion that most skeptics don’t really know what it means to be a skeptic. Or, to quote the wonderful movie The Princess Bride, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means…”. The ‘skeptics’ that I’ve met seem to treat it like fashion, where they are free to choose, for no apparent reason, the subjects to which their skepticism can be liberally applied.

I am guilty of this as well, but I like to think that I reserve it for extreme examples. If I get an email from someone claiming to have been Werner Heisenberg’s confident, and who has secret knowledge of the inner workings of Area 51, I tend to be a little skeptical. If, however, someone thinks that they can produce a photovoltaic cell with an efficiency of 30%, I’ll listen for a while, trying to determine if what they say makes sense, regardless of their background. Skepticism is a powerful tool, but only if you use it for the purpose for which it was originally intended. It is not a shield that protects ignorance; it is a looking glass that promotes introspection. If what you believe can’t survive a few playful, penetrating questions, perhaps there’s something wrong with it. If there are topics that are, because of their nature, simply beyond question, or if you think consensus constitutes evidence and won’t ask questions if other people seem convinced, you might not be a skeptic after all. If you’re the only one in the room asking questions, you probably are a skeptic. True skeptics are a definite minority.

It is with no small amusement or irony that, by releasing my book, I’ve incurred the gestalt wraith of thousands of would-be ‘skeptics’ across the globe. The reason I wrote the book, after all, is because I am a skeptic. If you tell me something that isn’t entirely evident or seems a little odd, I will be asking questions. In some cases, lots and lots of questions. If you tell me the universe came from a primordial fireball 13.7 billion years ago, I’m going to keep asking questions until this story makes sense, and your answers don’t carry more weight just because you are the world’s leading cosmologist and believe in them with all your heart. Regardless of how artfully and strenuously we try to dodge the universe’s inevitable and immutable nature; regardless of how heroic our mathematics or strained our interpretations, logical consistency continues to matter, because it is the glue from which comprehension emerges. A lie told a thousand times might seem more believable than the truth, but only if you’re not a skeptic, and repetition doesn’t make it any truer.

So when the physicists tell you that the universe “doesn’t need to be rational” or “has nothing to do with common sense” or “your question is meaningless”, little bells should be going off in your head. I’m not saying that you need to treat modern cosmology like a scam, but it helps.

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On Philosophy

Thursday, June 26th, 2008 by Terence Witt

Nothing like limiting a subject to a managable scope…

When comparing null physics to contemporary physics, the subject of philosophy invariably comes up because many things that are important to null physics are labeled, somewhat disparagingly, as ‘philosophy’ by physicists. Philosophy, we are told, is not science, and according to many of the physicists I have talked to, it is not particularly important in and of itself. Philosophical tidbits of note in null physics include such trivia as ‘why the universe exists’, ‘why is energy quantized?’, and ‘why does the universe have universal constants?’

Modern physics’ stance on philosophy is incongruous on a number of levels, but let’s just hit the highlight reel today. Here are the main categories.

Judgement call

To begin with, as has become clear during the course of many conversations, I doubt that the majority of physicists really know enough about philosophy to be able to recognize it when they see it. Reading the great book ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ might be a good way to ease into the subject, but then they would be left with the false impression that philosophy has little to tell us about the natural world. So I don’t think people who are familiar with physics, but rarely delve into philosophy, are best suited to judge the line that separates the two. Not that philosophers are too eager to venture into physics either. Daniel Dennett forages through the life sciences to support many of his assertions, but he would seem to be the exception.


What physicists don’t seem to realize is that philosophy is, by its nature, an intrinsic part of every human activity, and there’s far more to it than arguing over the meaning of beauty or good. It rests at the very essence of physics, such as the ‘scientific method’. The thing that defines physics cannot, in and of itself, be a part of physics, because it separates physics from ‘everything else’. So it is philosophy that tells us where physics begins and ends, not physics.

lnconsistency or merely hypocrisy?

As noted, many physicists woud claim that a question such as ‘why does the universe exist?’ lies outside of physics, yet cosmologists are always telling us that they search for the hidden ‘secrets of the universe’. When I talk about null principles or null geometry, I’m often told something to the effect that “If you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist. Since we don’t have access to what came before the universe, it’s a philosophical issue.” As this is being written, cosmologists are looking for patterns in the cosmic microwaves that might tell them something about the state of the universe prior to the Big Bang. Yet to look at the contemporary universe for signs that it is the internal structure of nothingness is…philosophy.

Call me silly, but I think that there’s a fundamental difference between a debate over the meaning of beauty and a debate over the reason the universe exists. The universe is, ultimately, the reason why we have ‘physics’. No universe, no physics. The way the universe is, such as ‘really big’ and ‘filled with stuff’ is related (and the connection between the dots is very close here) to why it exists or where it ‘came from’. A chicken, for instance, makes a lot of sense if you’re in a barnyard and there’s chickens, eggs, and chicks coming out of eggs. A chicken would make so sense at all if you’re in a volcano or on the surface of the sun, because its properties would be entirely inconsistent with the environment.

So I guess the question is what is more ‘philosophical’. Using the known properties of our contemporary universe to deduce its geometry and most essential nature, or talking about things that are thought to have happened 13.7 billion years ago that we, by definition, have no way of accessing today?

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Witt to speak at the “Crisis in Cosmology Conference” in Port Angeles, WA in September

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 by Aridian PR

Terence Witt is bringing his message about Null Physics to the world. The author will lecture at the Crisis in Cosmology Conference during the week of September 7-11 in Port Angeles, WA. The event is hosted by the Alternative Cosmology Group. The title of the conference is “Challenges to Consensus Cosmology and The Quest for a New Picture of the Universe.”

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Press Room Contact Information & Materials

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 by Aridian PR

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