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Dr. Paul Sutter, Friday, 10-23-15 October 24, 2015

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Dr. Paul Sutter, Friday, 10-23-15


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Guest: Dr. Paul Sutter. Topics:  Science, The Big Bang Theory, Dark Matter, Dark Energy and astrophysics.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.  For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

During the first segment of our 97 minute program, Dr. Sutter opened up with a detailed discussion of the big bang theory and the physics and science to go along with it and support it with scientific evidence.  Almost the entire first segment was devoted to this comprehensive discussion.  We talked about proof, theories, truth, alternative ideas and scientific evidence including the cosmological microwave background light which is the oldest light in the universe.  Paul described this in detail, explained that it was really microwave radiation and how it supported an expanding universe.  Rather than summarizing this segment in detail, I urge you to listen to this show because it is one of the best ever Space Show science shows and discussions.  In my opinion, Dr. Sutter is gifted in his ability to explain complex scientific theories and concepts in ways that those of us who are not scientists can grasp and understand facts, scientific evidence, and theories.  In addition to the science, several listener questions came up along with mine about the meaning of certain words in use by the general public as compared to a scientist.  This was a very illuminating discussion and I think you will agree when you hear how theory, fact, truth, plus other words are used in science and what they mean to a scientist  as compared to how we use the same words in our daily vocabulary and word use.  BJohn asked questions about star formation and John from Ft. Worth called and added to our scientific discussion given his physics expertise and knowledge.  I personally want to thank him for his two calls which advanced the quality of our discussion, especially about an open and closed universe.  Then our guest added a third possibility, a flat universe.  Don’t miss this part of our program.

In our second segment, we talked in more detail about Dark Matter.  This too was an example of the clarity given the topics by our guest so listen carefully and enjoy and appreciate how something so complex can be made so easy for us to grasp and understand.  Later in the segment, a listener asked about the impact a TV show like The Big Bang Theory might have on people given the way it portrays “scientists.”  As this was one of my favorite TV shows, I entered the conversation and had a different set of thoughts about its impact than did our guest.  Listen to hear what we both had to say about it.  As I said on the show, in the 2,571 programs I have done to date, plus with all the scientists and engineers that I have met in person at conferences and elsewhere, I have yet to meet a real scientist or engineer that even comes close to being in real life the way the four Big Bang TV Show guys are with their personalities and science.  They are extreme over the top whacky characters that I really enjoy.  We also talked about famous scientists coming on the show for cameo appearances and always playing a role supporting the four nerds.  Paul and I had a great discussion about the show and its impact so don’t miss it, especially if you watch this TV show.  Near the end of our program, we talked about real life science labs as compared to those seen in big hit movies and TV shows with lots of CGI and design added to them.  Dr. Sutter talked about science outreach, his target audience for his outreach, and why he chose his targeted audience.  Just before the show ended, Ft. Worth John called back to reference dark matter with gravity.  An excellent way to conclude our program.

Please post your comments and questions on TSS blog above.  You can reach Dr. Sutter through his website or me.  His websites are https://physics.osu.edu/people/sutter.84 and www.pmsutter.com/#intro.



1. J Fincannon - November 3, 2015

Besides the confusion of where the edge of the universe is, you made a statement that if we could see in RF the universe would seem bright. But looking at the CMB spectrum, it seems like very low intensities which matches a blackbody radiation temperature of 2.7K. So unless your RF eyes are recalibrated to see such low intensities, I don’t think it can be called “bright”.

It sounds like even though the CMB glow was originally 3000 K (very bright), because space is stretched (wavelengths made longer), this has made it appear to be 2.7K. http://planck.cf.ac.uk/science/cmb
(So we won’t get any ideas of powering electronics using CMB energy.)

This is weird stuff.

2. J Fincannon - October 27, 2015

A good show, but as usual the topic is confusing. The guest almost answered my perpetual question, but not quite. He says the Big Bang was everywhere. But it always is made out to have started very tiny and expanded very rapidly. But also, I have been told that the Universe actually expanded faster than the speed of light to some very large size soon after the Big Bang.

What baffles me is that we can see the light/microwave radiation near the beginning of the Universe (its start). If the distance (light years) between Earth and the edge of the Universe (where the microwave radiation is at) is smaller than the number of years since the start of the Universe, then the light/microwaves would have passed us by now, so we should never be able to see the edge, just some light/microwaves AFTER the big bang. If the distance is greater (why the distance? because I was told of the great “jump” of space at the Big Bang), then the light/microwave has not reached us yet from the edge, so we have to wait for some time (X billion years likely). But no, astronomers/astrophysicists are always saying how they can see closer and closer to the Big Bang. What lucky is that!

I also have the problem that we are looking at the past the further we look into space, but shouldn’t all that stuff we are looking have been used to make the stuff we can see closer? I mean, the Cosmic microwave background isn’t really THERE right now, it is long gone, we are only seeing the radiation emitted when it happened (and somehow can keep seeing it). But that energy has gone on to make the first stars and early stars and later stars and later stars. These stars we can see using Hubble. But are all the stars made of the same matter? Its like I have a time telescope and can see ME 20 years ago and then 10 years ago and then 5 years ago. I am the same matter (essentially, ignoring cell shedding and different electrons), just at different times. Well, Hubble is a time telescope too, so what is wrong with my logic that I look at a star 10,000,000 light years away , then 1,000,000, then 100,000, then 10,000 and realize that they potentially could have the SAME material (at least a little) in them?

Paul Sutter - October 27, 2015

Great set of questions! Yes, the early universe experienced a period of rapid expansion, and in fact parts of the universe still expand faster than the speed of light. That’s not really a problem.

It’s important to remember that our observable patch of the universe is only a small “bubble” of the larger thing. When we look at a distant object, like a far-away galaxy or the cosmic microwave background, we’re not looking at our own patch, but from parts of the universe “over there”, and the light is just now reaching us.

So the light from the CMB that was present in our region of the universe has certainly flown away long ago, but we’re just now receiving light from a distant corner of the cosmos.

The analogy I like to use is postcards. I live in one city and you live in another, far away. Totally disconnected. I don’t contribute to your evolution and you don’t contribute to mine. But I can snap a picture of myself and send you the postcard. When you get it, a few days later, you’re not seeing me as I am *now*, but as I was a few days ago. In effect you’re looking into my past. Who knows what I’m up to at the moment you receive it? You don’t know – you’ll have to wait for another postcard!

J Fincannon - October 30, 2015

Thanks for answering! I think I am getting it.

This link states that the co-moving distance to the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) is 45.7 billion light years and to the edge of the observable universe it is 46.6 billion light years. But it also says the AGE of the universe is 13.8 billion years. Others claim the “entire universe” is 3e23 time larger than the size of the observable universe and others “only 250” times larger.

The way I USED to think of it is that the CMBR travelled from “the edge of the Universe” a distance of 45.7 billion light years. But the way you describe it, that doesn’t make sense. I interpret your response to mean that CMBR happened everywhere in the Universe (and this Universe @ 380,000 years old is not a tiny dot, but something quite huge and fairly close to our present size) at the same time. All the CMBR that happened at parts of the Universe that were closer to Earth have already passed us by, so we are seeing now only the CMBR that come from a distance exactly matching when we can see it now. That is the trick, to realize that it happened everywhere, which you did try to convey in your show.

Other more distant CMBR we can see in the future. It is odd that after 14 billion years (heck, even after 45 billion years) it seems like we could still see the CMBR since it happened everywhere in that huge 45.7 billion light year radius volume.

This stuff about the universe outside the observable universe sounds a little odd. Wouldn’t the mass from the outside affect our own universe?

Paul Sutter - October 30, 2015

You have it just about right!

The full universe is much much larger than our little observable patch. What we can see is limited by the speed of light and the finite lifetime of the universe. And yes, the universe is only 13.8 billion years old, but the observable radius is 45.7 billion lightyears. That’s because the universe expands faster than the speed of light. No, that’s not a problem, but that’s a separate discussion 🙂

When the CMB was created, by the way, the universe was only 1/1000th its present radius.

And no, the extra galaxies and whatnot outside our observable patch don’t affect us – at least we don’t think they do.

The CMB we see right now was “born” in a patch of the universe that is *now* 45.7 billion lightyears away. It wasn’t that far away when it was born. To return to the postcard analogy, add in plate tectonics. I sent you my postcard from Europe, and by the time you get it, I am slightly further away than when I sent it.

Another way to put it: the CMB is the edge of the observable universe (what we can see), but *not* the edge of the universe.

If we wait some more time, more CMB light will reach us that was born at an even more distant radius. That CMB light will be a little bit cooler. Heck, it’s already close to absolute zero! It’s estimated that in a few billion years, the CMB light will be so cool that it will be essentially undetectable. Lucky us!

I encourage you to catch my podcast – askaspaceman.com. I’ve done some cosmology episodes already, and plan to do more in the future. Thanks!

J Fincanon - November 2, 2015

Ack! This makes my brain hurt! I really doubt people get this. I will listen to your podcast #9, hopefully it will nudge me in the right direction.

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