Mainstream Science Taking Heat on Multiple Fronts

Thought-Provoking Challenges to the Powers That Be • From Atlantis Rising News Sources

Egyptian archaeology took a big hit in 2013 with charges that two German archaeology students had stolen, and taken out of the country, paint material from the famous “Khufu Cartouche” found in one of the so-called relieving chambers located above the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza. The mark was first discovered in the nineteenth century by British archaeologist Colonel William Richard Howard-Vyse. To read more on the implications of the challenge to Howard-Vyse’s “discovery,” see Atlantis Rising #106, “Crime in the Great Pyramid,” by Scott Creighton. The latest news is more of what the establishment might consider rude behavior on the part of German students. Though dealing with another Egyptian artifact, the most recent episode targets German, not Egyptian, authority but academic authority nonetheless.

In October 2015, according to reporter Claire Voon, writing for the website Hyperallergic. com, two student artists (not archaeologists) entered the Neues Museum in Berlin and secretly scanned the museum’s most prized possession, the bust of Queen Nefertiti. Three months later, the artists, Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles, released online, completely free of charge and in the public domain, the entire 3-D image file. Previously, the bust had been off-limits to photographers, but now, anyone may download and manipulate, as they see fit, the authentic 3-D information. The artists themselves used the data to create a 3-D-printed, one-to-one polymer resin model they claim is the most exact replica of the bust ever made, with variations of no more than a micrometer. That bust is now on display at the American University of Cairo as a stand-in for the original. The original statue is 3,300 years old. It had been taken—some would say stolen—from its country of origin shortly after its discovery in 1912 in Amarna, Egypt by German archaeologists.

Called “The Other Nefertiti,” the project is the work of German-Iraqi artist Nora Al-Badri and German artist Jan Nikolai Nelles, who consider their actions an artistic intervention to make cultural objects publicly available to all. For years, Germany and Egypt have hotly disputed the rightful location of the stucco-coated, limestone Queen, with Egyptian officials claiming that she left the country illegally and demanding the Neues Museum return her. With this controversy of ownership in mind, Al-Badri and Nelles also want, more broadly, for museums to reassess their collections with a critical eye and consider how they present the narratives of objects from other cultures they own as a result of colonial histories.

The Neues Museum, which the artists believe knows about their project but has chosen not to respond, is particularly tight-lipped about accessibility to data on its collections. According to the pair, although the museum has scanned Nefertiti’s bust, it will not make the information public—a choice that puzzles some observers since many museums around the world are encouraging the public to access their collections, often through digitization projects. Notably, the British Museum has hosted a “scanathon” where visitors used their smartphones to scan objects on display and then to crowd-source the creation of digital archives.

The image of Nefertiti has been in the news a great deal lately, as speculation grows that her body may soon be found in the so-called tomb of King Tut. For more on this, Dr. Robert Schoch’s cover story for Atlantis Rising #116, “Hidden Chambers in Egypt.”

 

Are Our Bodies the Product of “Unintelligent Design”?

According to Discovery Institute writer, Ann Gauger, a couple of years ago prominent evolutionary biologist David Barash, a critic of Intelligent Design theory, writing in the New York Times, described a yearly talk—“The Talk”—he gives to his students at the University of Washington. In The Talk, he explains why Darwinian theory, if faced squarely, undermines belief in a “benevolent, controlling creator.”

His candor is to be commended, says Gauger. Many biology students likely receive a similar message, perhaps more implied than explicit, from their teachers—but what about his conclusions? Does what we know about biology run counter to the idea of purpose or design behind life?

In the Wall Street Journal, the prolific Dr. Barash recently highlighted a particular challenge, as he sees it, to “intelligent design.” He reviews two new books that describe the “evolutionary mess that our bodies are”—a hodgepodge, so this argument goes, of barely good enough solutions to physiological problems, a collection of compromises that leave us prone to injury and disease, according to the authors and according to him. Gauger hadn’t read the books in question, but Barash’s piece, she felt, provided an occasion to examine the often-heard argument for “unintelligent design.”

There’s an undercurrent that runs through that argument, sometimes visible on the surface, sometimes below the water, tugging our feet out from under us. That ripple on the surface goes something like this: our design isn’t perfect. That’s the visible part. Then there’s the undercurrent: If there were an intelligent designer he would have made perfect things. The ever frank Barash says this directly. Giving examples like the optic nerve and the prostate gland, he says, “An intelligent designer wouldn’t have proceeded this way.” Therefore we are the product of patchwork evolution and there is no designer.

Note, that undercurrent is an assumption. Who knows what an intelligent designer capable of creating life would have done? Theologians who believe the designer is God may argue about that, but science provides no insight.

It’s another assumption that good design never breaks down. Not many human machines can last seventy years without breaking down sometime. A 1940 Cadillac, top-of-the-line, in continuous use, would have needed considerable refurbishing by now to keep it running and looking decent. Its leather seats would likely have cracked and its paint job cracked and dimmed, numerous sets of tires worn out, its brakes replaced numerous times, and its valves and pistons either machined or replaced.

At the same age, many human beings look pretty good by comparison, since we generally keep running without replacement parts long after our warranty has expired.

Any human designer knows that good design often means finding a way to meet multiple constraints. Consider airplanes. We want them to be strong, but weight is an issue, so lighter materials must be used. We want to preserve people’s hearing and keep the cabin warm, so soundproofing and insulation are needed, but they add weight. All of this together determines fuel usage, which translates into how far the airplane can fly. In 1986, the Rutan Voyager made its flight around the world without stopping or refueling, the first aircraft ever to do so. To carry enough fuel to make the trip, the designers had to strip the plane of everything except the essentials. That meant no soundproofing and no comfortable seats. But the airplane flew all the way. This was very special design.

Last, despite what some, like Dr. Barash, would tell you, our bodies are marvels of perfection in many ways. The rod cells in our eyes can detect as little as one photon of light; our brains receive the signal after just nine rods have responded. Our speech apparatus is perfectly fit for communication. Says linguist Noam Chomsky, “Language is an optimal way to link sound and meaning.” Our brains are capable of storing as much information as the World Wide Web.

We can run long distances, better than a horse and rider sometimes. But bear in mind, not one of those animals can run, swim, or jump as well as we can.

Then there are our incredible fine-motor skills—think concert pianist—and our capacity for abstract thought, an activity we are engaged in right now.

Before allowing some evolutionists to drag us under, let’s remember and be grateful for all the things that go right and work well. Intelligent design does not mean “perfect design,” or “design impervious to aging, injury, and disease.” It means being a product of intelligence, whatever the source might be, giving evidence of care, intention, and forethought, as our bodies surely do.

 

Breaking Down Relativity

Researchers have shown how a bizarrely shaped black hole could cause Einstein’s general theory of relativity, a foundation of modern physics, to break down. However, such an object could only exist in a universe with five or more dimensions.

According to a press release from Cambridge University, the researchers from the University of Cambridge and Queen Mary University of London have successfully simulated a black hole shaped like a very thin ring, which gives rise to a series of ‘bulges’ connected by strings that become thinner over time. These strings eventually become so thin that they pinch off into a series of miniature black holes, similar to how a thin stream of water from a tap breaks up into droplets.

Ring-shaped black holes were ‘discovered’ by theoretical physicists in 2002, but this is the first time that their dynamics have been successfully simulated using supercomputers. Should this type of black hole form, it would lead to the appearance of a ‘naked singularity’, which would cause the equations behind general relativity to break down. The results are published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

General relativity underpins our current understanding of gravity: everything, from the estimation of the age of the stars in the universe to the GPS signals we rely on to help us navigate, is based on Einstein’s equations. In part, the theory tells us that matter warps its surrounding space/time, and what we call gravity is the effect of that warp. In the 100 years since it was published, general relativity has passed every test that has been thrown at it, but one of its limitations is the existence of singularities.

A singularity is a point where gravity is so intense that space, time, and the laws of physics, break down. General relativity predicts that singularities exist at the center of black holes and that they are surrounded by an event horizon—the ‘point of no return’, where the gravitational pull becomes so strong that escape is impossible, meaning that they cannot be observed from the outside.

“As long as singularities stay hidden behind an event horizon, they do not cause trouble and general relativity holds—the ‘cosmic censorship conjecture’ says that this is always the case,” said study co-author Markus Kunesch, a Ph.D. student at Cambridge’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics (DAMTP), “As long as the cosmic censorship conjecture is valid, we can safely predict the future outside of black holes. Because ultimately, what we’re trying to do in physics is to predict the future given knowledge about the state of the universe now.”

But what if a singularity existed outside of an event horizon? If it did, not only would it be visible from the outside but also it would represent an object that has collapsed to an infinite density, a state which causes the laws of physics to break down. Theoretical physicists have hypothesized that such a thing, called a naked singularity, might exist in higher dimensions.

“If naked singularities exist, general relativity breaks down,” said co-author Saran Tunyasuvunakool, also a Ph.D. student from DAMTP, “And if general relativity breaks down, it would throw everything upside down, because it would no longer have any predictive power—it could no longer be considered as a standalone theory to explain the universe.”

We think of the universe as existing in three dimensions, plus the fourth dimension of time, which together are referred to as space-time. But, in branches of theoretical physics such as string theory, the universe could be made up of as many as 11 dimensions. Additional dimensions could be large and expansive, or they could be curled up, tiny, and hard to detect. Since humans can only directly perceive three dimensions, the existence of extra dimensions can only be inferred through very high-energy experiments, such as those conducted at the Large Hadron Collider.

Einstein’s theory itself does not state how many dimensions there are in the universe, so theoretical physicists have been studying general relativity in higher dimensions to see if cosmic censorship still holds. The discovery of ring-shaped black holes in five dimensions led researchers to hypothesize that they could break up. This gives rise to a naked singularity.

What the Cambridge researchers, along with their co-author Pau Figueras from Queen Mary University of London, have found is that if the ring is thin enough, it can lead to the formation of naked singularities.

Using the COSMOS supercomputer, the researchers were able to perform a full simulation of Einstein’s complete theory in higher dimensions, allowing them to not only confirm that these ‘black rings’ are unstable, but to also identify their eventual fate. Most of the time, a black ring collapses back into a sphere, so that the singularity would stay contained within the event horizon. Only a very thin black ring becomes sufficiently unstable as to form bulges connected by thinner and thinner strings, eventually breaking off and forming a naked singularity. New simulation techniques and computer code were required to handle these extreme shapes.

“The better we get at simulating Einstein’s theory of gravity in higher dimensions, the easier it will be for us to help with advancing new computational techniques—we’re pushing the limits of what you can do on a computer when it comes to Einstein’s theory,” said Tunyasuvunakool. “But if cosmic censorship doesn’t hold in higher dimensions, then maybe we need to look at what’s so special about a four-dimensional universe that means it does hold.”