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Attention Science Nerds
#1

Attention Science Nerds
I was hoping some of you super smart science people in here could help me.   Smile I've been buying books on science for my little nephew and most of them have been very well done.  Recently I purchased a children's book for him on the Big Bang.  I usually read the books I buy for him first to make sure they are age appropriate and that there aren't any religious undertones sprinkled throughout the books.  

I have working knowledge of the Big Bang, but I don't claim to be an expert by any means.  However, in a read through of the book, I noticed (what appear to me) to be two errors.  I was just curious as to your opinions as to whether or not they are errors as I don't want to give a book to my nephew that has incorrect information.  I would also like to contact the publisher to correct the errors so they don't mislead other children into thinking X when the answer is really Y.  But as I say, I am not an expert and only have working knowledge of the Big Bang, so I could be off in my assessment.  

The first of what I think might be an error is the book stating that the singularity "exploded" with a big bang.  It's my understanding that the Big Bang was not an explosion, but rather an expansion of extremely condensed material.

The second of what I think is an error in the book is a part stating that the singularity "blew" itself up like a bubble, leaving empty space inside the bubble. The authors then go on to say the universe then filled up the inside of the bubble.  This part seems misleading to me even though I'm assuming they're talking about inflation.  

Anyway, any thoughts are appreciated.  And as I say, maybe there are no errors, but it just seemed that way to me.  Smile
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#2

Attention Science Nerds
(09-07-2020, 06:27 PM)Bcat Wrote: The first of what I think might be an error is the book stating that the singularity "exploded" with a big bang.  It's my understanding that the Big Bang was not an explosion, but rather an expansion of extremely condensed material.
An expansion, yes, but expansion of space itself. The *material* (not in terms of classical matter!) didnt move, its the space in which the material was embedded, that expanded.


(09-07-2020, 06:27 PM)Bcat Wrote: The second of what I think is an error in the book is a part stating that the singularity "blew" itself up like a bubble, leaving empty space inside the bubble.
Complete nonsense.
When the singularity inflated, the matter was so dense and hot that it was opaque to photons and we dont have any radiation giving us information about this time. It was anything but empty, rather the exact opposite.


(09-07-2020, 06:27 PM)Bcat Wrote: The authors then go on to say the universe then filled up the inside of the bubble.
Simplification to the brink of complete nonsense, continuation of above.

The sigularity expanded/inflated within a tiny fraction of a second into something lightyears across. Yet matter was so dense and temperature so hot that it took several hundred thousands of years (for the universe to expand further and) for matter to form as we know, for the universe becoming transparent enough to photons so that the cosmic microwave beackground could form.

For the first several hundred thousands of years the matter in the universe was so dense and hot that it was more like plasma, nuclei not able to catch electrons, photons (although they are almost *nothing* and can permeate almost anything) not being able to escape, and not being able to give us information. The universe was a big fat thick soup utterly opaque to anything.
R.I.P. Hannes
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#3

Attention Science Nerds
(09-07-2020, 06:27 PM)Bcat Wrote: ... the singularity "blew" itself up like a bubble, leaving empty space inside the bubble. The authors then go on to say.....

... that's where this guy goes...........

[Image: giphy.gif]
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#4

Attention Science Nerds
I think a lovely simplification would be one of those self-inflating life rafts. Everything is there the gas to inflate it the raft itself. Of course the opaque and solid raft walls are not a good analogy for anything, but it still serves to show the expansion of materials that are previously all in one spot. Perhaps we can just use those walls to signify known space?
The key to the analogy is that the Compressed Gas represents all the matter.
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#5

Attention Science Nerds
(09-07-2020, 06:51 PM)brewerb Wrote:
(09-07-2020, 06:27 PM)Bcat Wrote: ... the singularity "blew" itself up like a bubble, leaving empty space inside the bubble. The authors then go on to say.....

... that's where this guy goes...........

[Image: giphy.gif]

ROFL2
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#6

Attention Science Nerds
(09-07-2020, 06:27 PM)Bcat Wrote: I was hoping some of you super smart science people in here could help me.   Smile I've been buying books on science for my little nephew and most of them have been very well done.  Recently I purchased a children's book for him on the Big Bang.  I usually read the books I buy for him first to make sure they are age appropriate and that there aren't any religious undertones sprinkled throughout the books.  

I have working knowledge of the Big Bang, but I don't claim to be an expert by any means.  However, in a read through of the book, I noticed (what appear to me) to be two errors.  I was just curious as to your opinions as to whether or not they are errors as I don't want to give a book to my nephew that has incorrect information.  I would also like to contact the publisher to correct the errors so they don't mislead other children into thinking X when the answer is really Y.  But as I say, I am not an expert and only have working knowledge of the Big Bang, so I could be off in my assessment.  

The first of what I think might be an error is the book stating that the singularity "exploded" with a big bang.  It's my understanding that the Big Bang was not an explosion, but rather an expansion of extremely condensed material.

The second of what I think is an error in the book is a part stating that the singularity "blew" itself up like a bubble, leaving empty space inside the bubble. The authors then go on to say the universe then filled up the inside of the bubble.  This part seems misleading to me even though I'm assuming they're talking about inflation.  

Anyway, any thoughts are appreciated.  And as I say, maybe there are no errors, but it just seemed that way to me.  Smile

It was not an "explosion" though some writers find it convenient to describe it that way. In current theory, it was an expansion of timespace. But don't ask me to explain that. I can't, Sagan couldn't and Hawking died trying to understand it.

The best I can understand the second is that inflation from a singularity was not perfectly uniform. Random events and perhaps quarkian or quantum illogic may have been but something made the TINIEST lump and it all went from there.

You are more likely to be asked "what did the universe expand INTO"? That bothers me to this day. I cannot conceive of "something" without "more something" around it. Good luck with that. The simple answer is that the material existence is both real and not. The complicated answer is "we don't understand that yet".

Maybe explain to your nephew that the scientific method asks questions but cannot provide all the answers "yet".

Cheers on your adventure of answering unanswerable questions.
Theists disbelieve in all deities but one.  I just disbelieve in one less.
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#7

Attention Science Nerds
"How The Universe Works" series on the Science Channel would help the kid.
  [Image: pirates.gif] Dog  
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#8

Attention Science Nerds
(09-07-2020, 07:01 PM)Gawdzilla Sama Wrote: "How The Universe Works" series on the Science Channel would help the kid.

A good series. I have most of it on DVD but I think I've missed a season. If it is informational I probably have it. I hate commercials and not being able to "play from last view".

BTW, the DVD Neil De Grasse version of 'Cosmos' drives me nuts. The audio is slightly off the video and it won't let me
"start from last viewing". On the other hand, when I first heard they were remaking 'Cosmos' I immediately thought" De Grasse! So I put up with the annoyance.
Theists disbelieve in all deities but one.  I just disbelieve in one less.
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#9

Attention Science Nerds
I think while those two points aren't technically correct to my understanding, they seem to simplify the matter in an age appropriate way.
Personally I would explain and model those things differently so yea technically speaking not correct but a good foundation I guess?
Though I would probably not want to seed the information in the kid this way because the foundation is kinda incorrect I guess. Then again seeing how many adults cannot move onward from this outdated model...
2+2=4
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#10

Attention Science Nerds
Well I think they are trying to make something relatable to small children and something is inherently going to be lost in that effort. I don't think it's deliberately nefarious or wrong, but the author may not understand the subject matter as well as they could and isn't creative enough to come up with better metaphors.

For example the expansion is technically not an explosion, but a relatively rapid expansion from a tiny space to a huge space has enough similarities to an explosion that one could be forgiven for using the term in the service of brevity.

I'd tend to search for something more impressive though.

How old is your nephew? If he's at least 9 or 10 and curious about the topic, I'd think he could handle something a little more nuanced than this. At that age I was ravenous for details and full of questions.

If he's younger than that, then perhaps there's no harm in getting the rough concept across in this way, if you can't find anything better.
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#11

Attention Science Nerds
(09-12-2020, 05:51 PM)mordant Wrote: Well I think they are trying to make something relatable to small children and something is inherently going to be lost in that effort. I don't think it's deliberately nefarious or wrong, but the author may not understand the subject matter as well as they could and isn't creative enough to come up with better metaphors.

For example the expansion is technically not an explosion, but a relatively rapid expansion from a tiny space to a huge space has enough similarities to an explosion that one could be forgiven for using the term in the service of brevity.

I'd tend to search for something more impressive though.

How old is your nephew? If he's at least 9 or 10 and curious about the topic, I'd think he could handle something a little more nuanced than this. At that age I was ravenous for details and full of questions.

If he's younger than that, then perhaps there's no harm in getting the rough concept across in this way, if you can't find anything better.

He's 6, but I really want to make sure I don't plant a seed in his mind for him to latch onto with wrong information.  I don't think the authors were trying to be nefarious and I think they were trying to make things accessible to younger readers, however, I do feel they also need to be scientifically accurate if they are creating a science book for kids.
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#12

Attention Science Nerds
(09-07-2020, 06:27 PM)Bcat Wrote: The first of what I think might be an error is the book stating that the singularity "exploded" with a big bang.  It's my understanding that the Big Bang was not an explosion, but rather an expansion of extremely condensed material.
You would be correct.  Metaphorically, you might be able to refer to it as an 'explosion' of space and time.  The main problem I have always had with depictions of the Big Bang on science programs is that they always show it from the outside...

(09-07-2020, 06:27 PM)Bcat Wrote: The second of what I think is an error in the book is a part stating that the singularity "blew" itself up like a bubble, leaving empty space inside the bubble. The authors then go on to say the universe then filled up the inside of the bubble.  This part seems misleading to me even though I'm assuming they're talking about inflation.
Well, empty space only in the sense that it was a dense quark soup, then a dense plasma, and then an expanding 'cloud' of hydrogen and helium (and minute traces of lithium).  Empty in that there wasn't anything in it that we typically think of as an object.  But misleading, yes.  The universe had contents, but not really much in the way of things.  If they are talking about inflation, it doesn't sound like they're doing it very well.

This is kind of a problem I've had with science books intended for children.  I know you can't hit a ten year old with the full field equation for General Relativity and expect any of it to stick.

But you can pare things down more carefully and get the important points across without giving misleading models.  And I think stuff that's not known should be more carefully labeled, and labeled encouragingly—something along the lines of "Everything there is was squished down into a point smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.  There are many ideas why it suddenly expanded, but no one knows for sure yet.  Maybe you could figure it out some day!"

Yeah, I'm not a writer for children, but you get the idea.  I really do think that you can get young people interested in science with just six words: "I don't know.  Let's find out!"  The study of science needs to be interactive and engaging.
"Aliens?  Us?  Is this one of your Earth jokes?"  -- Kro-Bar, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
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#13

Attention Science Nerds
(09-12-2020, 06:15 PM)Bcat Wrote:
(09-12-2020, 05:51 PM)mordant Wrote: Well I think they are trying to make something relatable to small children and something is inherently going to be lost in that effort. I don't think it's deliberately nefarious or wrong, but the author may not understand the subject matter as well as they could and isn't creative enough to come up with better metaphors.

For example the expansion is technically not an explosion, but a relatively rapid expansion from a tiny space to a huge space has enough similarities to an explosion that one could be forgiven for using the term in the service of brevity.

I'd tend to search for something more impressive though.

How old is your nephew? If he's at least 9 or 10 and curious about the topic, I'd think he could handle something a little more nuanced than this. At that age I was ravenous for details and full of questions.

If he's younger than that, then perhaps there's no harm in getting the rough concept across in this way, if you can't find anything better.

He's 6, but I really want to make sure I don't plant a seed in his mind for him to latch onto with wrong information.  I don't think the authors were trying to be nefarious and I think they were trying to make things accessible to younger readers, however, I do feel they also need to be scientifically accurate if they are creating a science book for kids.

What can I say; you're a VERY good aunt. Since my mother conceived me at age 39, my aunts were all older ladies whose command of technology was limited to working dial telephones and maybe typewriters. I'm dating myself ... point is, I got nothing from them but cheek-pinches. I'd have killed for science books. Instead, I got The Rattle-Rattle Train.
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#14

Attention Science Nerds
(09-07-2020, 06:54 PM)Cavebear Wrote: You are more likely to be asked "what did the universe expand INTO"?  That bothers me to this day.   I cannot conceive of "something" without "more something" around it.   Good luck with that.  The simple answer is that the material existence is both real and not.  The complicated answer is "we don't understand that yet".
This question was responsible for one of those head-'splodey moments with my roommate.

He understood that the universe was expanding, but couldn't get the concept of what it was expanding into.  Which, yeah, is a fair question.

So I went (incorrectly) with the old raisin bread analogy, you know, how all the raisins inside it expand away from each other without any one raisin being the center of expansion.

He: But it's expanding into the kitchen.

Me: There is no kitchen!

He: Then it's expanding into the back yard!

Me:
[Image: il_570xN.485266383_7xsw.jpg]
"Aliens?  Us?  Is this one of your Earth jokes?"  -- Kro-Bar, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
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#15

Attention Science Nerds
The key to explaining our ignorance is making sure he understands that before a certain time (Planck-time, to get a little technical), the current "laws" of the Universe did not operate as they do now. As a result, our current models simply cannot explain what happened.
Freedom isn't free.
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#16

Attention Science Nerds
(09-12-2020, 06:41 PM)trdsf Wrote:
(09-07-2020, 06:54 PM)Cavebear Wrote: You are more likely to be asked "what did the universe expand INTO"?  That bothers me to this day.   I cannot conceive of "something" without "more something" around it.   Good luck with that.  The simple answer is that the material existence is both real and not.  The complicated answer is "we don't understand that yet".
This question was responsible for one of those head-'splodey moments with my roommate.

He understood that the universe was expanding, but couldn't get the concept of what it was expanding into.  Which, yeah, is a fair question.

So I went (incorrectly) with the old raisin bread analogy, you know, how all the raisins inside it expand away from each other without any one raisin being the center of expansion.

He: But it's expanding into the kitchen.

Me: There is no kitchen!

He: Then it's expanding into the back yard!

Me:
[Image: il_570xN.485266383_7xsw.jpg]

Personally I don't think there's any way a human mind can understand the expansion of space. We can't even comprehend the vast distances of space.
"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."
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