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Big Blue Designing Chip to Decode the Big Bang

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the lighter-and-flatulence dept.

Supercomputing 149

Jerry Beth writes "IBM is working with European astronomy organization Astron to design a chip that will be used to help gather billions-of-years-old radio signals from deep space in the hopes of learning more about the origins of the universe. From the article: 'It's part of Astron's Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope project. The SKA will be linked to millions of antennas collecting radio signals from space. The antennas will be spread over a large surface area of the globe but, in the aggregate, they will form a square kilometer's worth of collection area. [...] The microprocessors will essentially help the antennas capture the signals, filter out extraneous data and then convert the signals into data. Astrophysicists will then analyze the data to look for patterns. The weakest signals are the prize in this project, because they will be the oldest.'"

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Big Bang Question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17133616)

Anyone know the name of the famous eunuch computer programmer?

We already know the answer! (-1, Redundant)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133622)

Even if a chip could be designed to decode the Big Bang, we already know the answer: "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

Re:We already know the answer! (-1, Redundant)

XenoPhage (242134) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133958)

Shouldn't it be something like 'Nothing to see here. Please move it along.' ? 42 bytes.. The ultimate answer...

Re:We already know the answer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134758)

42

Obligatory Hitchhikers Guide to the ummm... whatever... answer to the question,... what was the question.....

Re:We already know the answer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17136584)

Troll? Mods please use your brains once in a great bang or so. You don't design a chip to decode the Big Bang unless you have an idea on what went on before the great ka-boom. It could very well be a teaspoon of... nothing to see.

Side jobs (4, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133656)

Could this be used to decode and filter out the content on myspace and find intelligent life?

Re:Side jobs (1)

Bugs42 (788576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133772)

Sure, and maybe next they'll use it to filter out all the crazy women in the world and find the sane ones.

Wanna bet on which'll happen first?

Re:Side jobs (1)

MasterPi (896501) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135052)

That's easy. All you need is a blinking light and a burnt-out one. You have all the women stand in a line and tell them to go into the crazy line if the blinking one comes on and the sane line if the burnt-out one comes on.

Intelligent Life and MySpace (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134338)

Aren't the two mutually exclusive?

Look and calculate all you want (-1, Redundant)

emor8t (1033068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133664)

IT ALL TRACES BACK TO GOD! Ok, flamebait aside. How long before we actually find something? I mean space is the original Energizer Bunny, it keeps going, and going, and going......

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1, Interesting)

rainman_bc (735332) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133768)

IT ALL TRACES BACK TO GOD!

Okay, maybe I just don't get it... I'm not religious, but I don't buy into the big bang theory either... Why can't we just theorize that time is not finite - there's no beginning and no end...

Seriously, someone explain to me why time MUST have a beginning? Can't we just accept some things as being infinite?

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133960)

Because obviously time is a property of our universe, and has to bend its knee to our current law of physics (see all those relativistic effects).

If there was a big bang (VERY likely), then it also started what we know as "time".

But this doesnt exclude a bigger picture.

---
And nobody says time MUST have a beginning. Its just part of a scientific process about what we observe in the universe.

"accepting some things as being infinite", otoh, would be just that kind of dogma religious dimwits seem to like.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134000)

Why can't we just theorize that time is not finite...?


For the same reason humans concocted religion in the first place: it comforts them. Just as we're always looking and hoping for a parent-analog to take care of us.

We can't know, or even imagine, non-existance, because we've never experienced it. For many, it's too scary and awful to even contemplate. It's why when you ask them to try to imagine and describe death, they always say things like "black" and "cold". They have no other frame of refence to describe 'non-existance'.

We invent supernatural bogeymen as a way of dealing with the unknowable, and we conjure up 'Big Bangs' as a way of getting our minds around the Universe. It's a lot easier than trying to understand infinity and nothingness.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135504)

We can't know, or even imagine, non-existance, because we've never experienced it.

The problem is that you cannot experience non-existence.

You simply cannot, because otherwise you would be experiencing some type of existence.

No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

That said... On the bright side, you won't notice yourself not existing or wanting to exist and a minute or a millennium or a trillion years will be the same to you.

That said... Given infinite time (or time beyond our comprehension rather) the probability for us to spring back into existence gets higher. Eventually, we might come back into existence as we see ourselves existing now means that it is possible that we can just spring into existence from nothingness.

However, whether that means we get born 49 days from your death (Tibetan Buddhism) or in a trillion years from now on the Planet Grabash as a 20 tentacle methane breather monsters or perhaps even as yourself all over again if the universe suffers a big crunch and simply recycles itself exactly the same way as now due to Anthropic principle [wikipedia.org] (and the universe could not exist in any other way that it did or we wouldn't know it because we wouldn't exist) well... I really don't know.

There is no way to really tell what happens after death other than know the probability of spontaneously popping back into existence is probable.

You of course won't be able to pass along this information to yourself after you die so it maybe a moot point unless people in the future have kept this information about this idea.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17137030)

We can't know, or even imagine, non-existance, because we've never experienced it.

Of course we can. Before you were conceived, you did not exist. How was that "experience" for you? I think it's safe to say that death will be like that too.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (4, Insightful)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134040)

Why can't we just theorize that time is not finite - there's no beginning and no end.........Seriously, someone explain to me why time MUST have a beginning? Can't we just accept some things as being infinite?

The reason science exists is that some people cannot just "accept" things. They must ask why. They must have proof to back up their assumptions. From what I understand about the Big Bang, these scientists have reason to believe that time DOES have a beginning.

If there are scientists with evidence that time is not finite, then it would be helpful if someone provided a link.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (2, Insightful)

Eagleartoo (849045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134054)

I like your thinking,
  • It's funny to think that the Big Bang happened what 5 billion years ago or something like that and before that what?
  • Likewise God Created the heavens and the earth 6,000 years ago. . .
  • Likewise I was created 24 years ago and I've never experienced anything before that!
There's a saying in Algebra, as x approaches infinity y approaches 0 or maybe that's tangents in Geometry or maybe I'm off my rocker!

I think Einstein was on to something with that relativity thing.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

Reservoir Penguin (611789) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134430)

Maybe because the other theory, namely the Static Universe that had been popular in the first part of the 20th century couldn't explain the Hubble's observations (redshift)? The Big Bang theory simply explains the facts better. That's how science works.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17136062)

Maybe because the other theory, namely the Static Universe that had been popular in the first part of the 20th century couldn't explain the Hubble's observations (redshift)? The Big Bang theory simply explains the facts better. That's how science works.

Actually, observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation that were supposed to "prove" the Big Bang Theory were more in line with static universe predictions. The Big Bang predictions ranged from 5 to 7 and then to 50 Kelvin, whereas the static universe predictions centered closer to 3 Kelvin -- which is pretty much where the observed value ended up. Just because the Big Bang theorists were able to integrate this observation into their model does not mean that the data supports the Big Bang Theory.

Around 30 years ago, a researcher named Halton Arp attempted to publish a paper that showed that not all redshifts are cosmological. His paper was refused by The Astrophysical Journal without any criticism of his methodology and no attempt to refute his observations. There are actually numerous undeniable observations that indicate that high redshift quasars are between us and lower redshift galaxies. It's not a very popular topic amongst Big Bang advocates however because it disproves much of what they've been saying for so long. If you can demonstrate that quasars are being ejected from the centers of spiral galaxies, as is being proposed by Arp, and that these quasars are in fact proto-galaxies (baby galaxies) that expand in mass as they decrease in velocity away from the spiral galaxies, then it becomes hard to determine which redshifts are cosmological and which are due to this other effect.

It may appear to you that the Big Bang Theory "explains the facts better", but then why are scientists constantly making observations that violate theory? A week doesn't go by without another surprise in the news media. Astrophysicists will then speculate about what's causing these strange observations, but the media oftentimes passes this speculation off as if it is fact.

There are many very important unsolved mysteries in the universe that the Big Bang has so far failed to explain:

Why is the surface of the Sun only 6,000 Kelvin while the corona gets up to 2,000,000 Kelvin? If the Sun is nothing more than a nuclear reaction, which gets hotter as you move towards the core, then how is it possible that the energy does not heat up the surface in the process of heating up the corona? Astrophysicists have proposed something called magnetic reconnections, but this phenomenon has no scientific basis. It is not supported by either plasma physics or electricity and magnetism.

Why are sunspots dark? They are supposed to be the deepest regions which we can observe into the Sun, and yet they are also the darkest.

Why does the Sun appear to be getting hotter?

Why does the solar wind accelerate as it leaves the Sun past the planets? What is accelerating these particles?

How is it possible that neutron stars can stay together? There is a law of physics called "The Island of Stability" that requires that neutrons packed this tightly together should fly apart from one another. Neutron stars therefore violate the laws of known physics.

What is dark matter and dark energy? We're supposed to believe that these two things account for about 95% of the universe's matter. Many experiments have tried to directly observe dark matter, but not a single attempt has been successful so far. Until they are observed, they are nothing more than mathematical abstractions.

This is just a small sampling. There are many other problems with traditional astrophysics -- especially with the Sun. Astrophysicists treat all of these problems as if they are minor, unimportant problems and that we'll eventually get to them at some later time. But all of these problems are treated with the presumption that the Big Bang Theory is actually correct. It's possible that there are other cosmologies that could explain all of these things far better without having to invent new scientific phenomenon like magnetic reconnections. The only reason we are not looking into this possibility is because astrophysicists learn the Big Bang Theory in college to the exclusion of all other possible cosmologies. It should be no surprise then that this is what they believe.

There is in fact another cosmology called The Electric Universe Theory which can explain all of these things without resorting to exotic physics, and the only major impediment to believing this theory is to suppose that diffuse electricity flows over the interstellar medium between stars. With just this single supposition, we can explain all of these anomalies and do away with dark matter and dark energy. We already know that 99.99% of the observable universe consists of plasma, which can conduct electricity. The Electric Universe Theory is not pseudo-science. Applications of the theory are being used right now to induce rainfall in numerous countries.

Many people make the incorrect assumption that because we have lots of powerful technology that our science is just as sophisticated. This isn't necessariy the case.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

anarchyboy (720565) | more than 7 years ago | (#17136810)

"How is it possible that neutron stars can stay together? There is a law of physics called "The Island of Stability" that requires that neutrons packed this tightly together should fly apart from one another. Neutron stars therefore violate the laws of known physics." 'the island of stability' aside neutron stars are held together by gravity and there is no problem explaining their existance. Although there is a lack of knowledge in the nature of their interiors. Also dark matter and energy have essentially been observed due to their gravitational effect. If they hadn't been detected in this way people wouldn't be trying to work out what they are. I'm also not sure how the sun heating up and the presence of cool areas on the photosphere are evidence against the big bang. Physics is very sophisticated we understand the laws of nature to incredible degrees of accuracy. Quantum mechanics and general relativity give a very good understanding of the universe at large and small scales. However solving complex problems with either theory is still difficult. With quantum mechanics and the standard model there are lots of experiments available to find evidence in a lab. Astrophysics is harder because it's predictions can not be tested in a lab, this makes finding evidence for or against theories much harder.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17136822)

The Big Bang predictions [for CMBR temperature] ranged from 5 to 7 and then to 50 Kelvin, whereas the static universe predictions centered closer to 3 Kelvin -- which is pretty much where the observed value ended up.

The static universe was falsified by many other observations, one of which is the CMBR spectrum. Its predictions for the CMBR temperature are irrelevant.

Just because the Big Bang theorists were able to integrate this observation into their model does not mean that the data supports the Big Bang Theory.

Actually, it does mean that.

Around 30 years ago, a researcher named Halton Arp attempted to publish a paper that showed that not all redshifts are cosmological.

Arp's statistical methodology is biased in a way that guaranteed to indicate excess QSOs in the directions of bright galaxies.

There are actually numerous undeniable observations that indicate that high redshift quasars are between us and lower redshift galaxies.

That turns out not to be the case.

It may appear to you that the Big Bang Theory "explains the facts better", but then why are scientists constantly making observations that violate theory?

They don't. They may violate some particular model or another of astrophysics, whereupon a better model is constructed.

There are many very important unsolved mysteries in the universe that the Big Bang has so far failed to explain:

You continue to confuse Big Bang theory with other areas of astrophysics, such as stellar astrophysics. Please note that Big Bang cosmology has nothing to do with any of the questions you raise below.

Why is the surface of the Sun only 6,000 Kelvin while the corona gets up to 2,000,000 Kelvin?

There are a couple of proposed resolutions of the coronal heating problem; magnetic recoupling is one of them.

Astrophysicists have proposed something called magnetic reconnections, but this phenomenon has no scientific basis. It is not supported by either plasma physics or electricity and magnetism.

On the contrary, it is easily explained by those theories and is in fact known to be the mechanism responsible for solar flares.

Why are sunspots dark?

They're cooler than the rest of the Sun.

Why does the solar wind accelerate as it leaves the Sun past the planets? What is accelerating these particles?

Thermal energy and magnetic fields.

How is it possible that neutron stars can stay together? There is a law of physics called "The Island of Stability" that requires that neutrons packed this tightly together should fly apart from one another. Neutron stars therefore violate the laws of known physics.

The Island of Stability ignores the enormous gravitational field present in a neutron star. The laws of known physics predict that neutron stars are stable (up to a certain mass).

What is dark matter and dark energy?

We don't know. Dark matter may be the axions predicted by QCD or the neutralinos predicted by supersymmetry. Dark energy may be the cosmological constant introduced by Einstein.

Until they are observed, they are nothing more than mathematical abstractions.

Just like quarks? There are plenty of things in science that are only observed indirectly. Dark matter makes specific predictions which can be tested against observation (and many dark matter models have already been ruled out). Ditto dark energy, although less is known.

Astrophysicists treat all of these problems as if they are minor, unimportant problems and that we'll eventually get to them at some later time.

Ignoring the "problems" you've raised that aren't actually problems, you're still wrong; astrophysicists aren't ignoring actual problems such as the coronal heating problem. It's an active area of research.

But all of these problems are treated with the presumption that the Big Bang Theory is actually correct.

Again, stellar physics has little to do with the Big Bang.

There is in fact another cosmology called The Electric Universe Theory which can explain all of these things without resorting to exotic physics

Which is also wrong, much like everything else you've said here.

and the only major impediment to believing this theory is to suppose that diffuse electricity flows over the interstellar medium between stars.

That's not the only major impediment, but it is a major impediment, because observations demonstrate that there are no such "electricity flows" sufficient to produce the effects claimed. (Stars are powered by electric currents instead of fusion? Give me a break.)

Applications of the theory are being used right now to induce rainfall in numerous countries.

This is also ridiculous, unless you are trying to co-opt all of electricity and magnetism under the rubric "the Electric Universe".

God & the Big Bang (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134468)

As I have stated many times before on Slashdot, God and the Big Bang are not mutually exclusive.

See, God invented Mexican food first, and after that, well the Big Bang was pretty much inevitable.

"God and the Big Bang are not mutually exclusive." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17135340)

Yes, they are.

Faith (belief without evidence) is the antithesis of science (knowledge based upon observation, experimentation, evidence or proof).

You don't have to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134498)

Big Bang is just one of many cosmologic theories.

Re:You don't have to... (1)

drstock (621360) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134942)

Big Bang is just one of many cosmologic theories.
Yeah, and remember that it's _just_ a theory!

(Yes, I'm joking)

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

roban (122121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134616)

In fact many people have proposed (and are still proposing) cosmologies in which time (or the universe) has no begining. Osicllatory Universe theories http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscillatory_universe [wikipedia.org], in which the Universe repeatedly expands and contracts, are one example. The consensus today, however, is that Big Bang theory has been much more sucessfull at predicting and explaining empirical observations than have any competing theories. This has nothing to do with a preference for a "begining" of time. In fact many scientists resisted Big Bang theory out of a discomfort at that very idea.

There are Oscialltory Universe-type theories with repetetive "Big Bang" events, avoiding the need for a begining of time, but the cosmological parameters favored today suggest that the Universe will expand indefinietly, and indeed that the expansion is accelerating, and therefore that the universe will never recollapse. See the Lambda CMD Model (cold dark matter with a cosmological constant) for more details http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambda_CDM_model [wikipedia.org].

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134620)

A mathematical explanation of this would involve infinites. If time were infinite it would have to include all events (things that happen, anything, like a photon moving x meters). Which would also need to be infinite. But therein lies a problem. Mathematically you cannot have an infinite inside of an infinite. You can't even argue that one is 'smaller' by any constant than the other. This is because you cannot quantify an infinite. You either have two inconceivably large numbers, one slightly larger than the other, or you have one infinite.

Time is tied to the physical realm, therefore time and events cannot be infinite. Thus they need a beginning.

Or you could just lean on physics. IANAAstrophyisist, but as I understand it, according to most astrophysicists the universe can be proved to be expanding from the same point of origin. All the science has been repeatedly backed up by discoveries made with the Hubble and other orbital telescopes.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134784)

Apparently you're not a mathematician, either.

Can't have an infinite inside of an infinite? Ever heard of the Real number line?

How many numbers do you suppose fit between 0 and 1? (Hint: there are enough that they cannot be enumerated using integers, even though there are an infinite number of integers.)

Now, how many numbers do you suppose fit between 0.5 and 0.6? (Hint: the same answer is correct.)

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

roban (122121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134860)

Actually, in infinite set theory http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_set [wikipedia.org] there is a hierarchy of infinities. Think about the set of all integers {...,-1,0,1,2,3,...}: there are an infinite number of them. But the set of all real numbers (essentially "floating point" numbers of infinite precision for you programmers) must be larger than the set of integers since it includes the integers and more.

You are correct, though, that the expansion of the universe is one of the main reasons to infer a big bang. The other major piece of evidence is the microwave radiation (the Cosmic Microwave Background) left over from when the universe was a hot, opaque plasma shortly after the big bang.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

steveo777 (183629) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135578)

I'm aware of infinite sets and the like. (though I didn't get great grades back in Discrete Math) I was referring more along the lines of conceivable or tangible infinites. Events are tangible because... well... they happen. And so is time, we live in it, it can be measured.


Integer and real number sets are bit different. One can argue that there are 'more' real numbers than integers, but this isn't necessarily true either. Because integers go on forever, just like the amount of real numbers between 0.1 and 0.2, as an AC was trying to say. One will approach infinity faster, but they both operate the same. Similarly one could point out the infinite amount of reals between every consequent set of integers. At any rate, comparing number sets doesn't seem to apply to the tangible. But I'm open to discussion and correction.


I suppose it's the theoretical equivalents of saying you can't have an infinite amount of hydrogen atoms inside a bottle with infinite volume. One needs to be limited by the other in this case, therefore neither can be infinite.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

flynt (248848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135054)

As the others have pointed out, you're entirely incorrect here. Look up Georg Cantor, aleph-0, aleph-1, etc. There's a fascinating world of math out there, set theory is part of it!

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

Chakademus (1036482) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134732)

The reason scientists believe there must've been a big bang, or something very like it, is because of entropy. Time only flows in one direction, and as far as we can tell, there is no good reason why it should. Anyways, one way of figuring out which way time is flowing is the direction where entropy, or disorder, increases. I.e. you see an apple, fresh and organized, rot into indistinct mush, but never the opposite, though it is perfectly possible under the laws of physics, just not plausible. So as time flows, the disorder of the universe increases.

However, another property of disorder in a system is that a disordered system is *much* more likely than an ordered one. Thus, if we are currently in a somewhat ordered system, it is actually more like that the past up to now was more disordered than the present, and the future will become more disordered. Thus, we cannot truly tell which direction the past lies, and cannot trust our past experience. If this was the case, no science, or even normal living would be very nice. You would have no way of knowing what happened every time you do something, as past experience would not be a meaningful way of predicting things. Thus, oxygen might suddenly not enable us to burn glucose and we would die.

Thus, for us to be able to trust past experience, the past must be more ordered than the present. And as one goes back in time, there must be a time where there was absolute order (order cannot increase infinitly). This is what we call the big bang. As it would be perfectly ordered, it cannot become more ordered and thus time cannot decrease and has a beginning. The issue of size has to do with how all space is expanding, and that every galaxy is moving away from us a speed directly proportional to its distance from us, indicating that they all originated from the same point. (Galaxies have little actual speed through space, space is actually expanding between them, moving them apart. Like dots on a balloon.)

I'm not sure how well I explained it, but that's the gist of it, as I understand.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134810)

Why can't we just theorize that time is not finite - there's no beginning and no end...

Because if you look out at the universe, it seems that everything is moving away from each other. (I'm talking about inter-galactic scales here.) You can tell because everything is slightly redder than it should be, and the further away it is, the redder it is. The effect is not unlike the way an ambulance changes pitch when it gets closer and then goes away: as it recedes, the additional distance that the source moves between peaks spreads the peaks out. In light, further apart = redder.

If everything is moving away from everything else, then at some point in the past they must all have been in the same place. And when the matter gets that dense, time moves funny. It's a bit like the special relativity stuff: when things move, they gain mass, and get shorter. A heavy gravitational field is just like acceleration, so the formulas get really hairy. At some point they get so hairy that zeros are introduced, and some numbers go to infinity, and everything goes haywire.

Sorry if that's a bit long-winded, and I've still glossed over a lot of really crucial bits, but the shorter answer is: we observe stuff in the universe that implies that the universe had a beginning, at which the conditions were very different from what we see today. You can't explain it by saying that time is infinite, and so people try to figure out the right explanation.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134974)

> Seriously, someone explain to me why time MUST have a beginning? Can't we just accept some things as being infinite?

Can't we all just get along? No. Scientists (generally) don't just accept these ideas because they are more comfortable and neat-o.

Can't we just declare somethings unanswerable and unknowable? No. There is no need to just throw up our hands in mystic awe when the questions start to get hard.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

flynt (248848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135104)

If time has no beginning, how long would it have taken to get to the moment you're reading this post? I think in general, scientists (I hate when I have to use this term to mean 'people who use data to draw conclusions', it should be all of us) will believe what the data show them. If that points to a beginning of time, so be it. If that points to 'infinite' time, that's fine to. We can, and do, 'theorize' lots of things, but accepting them ususally requires more than a theory. I don't know why we should "accept time as being infinite" though?

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

General Fault (689426) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135118)

Wow. I think that you have all missed the point here. The Big Bang is not a theory invented to satisfy some psychological condition of needing a finite universe, in fact, the big bang does not even describe a finite universe. It does not try to predict an end to the universe or predict the existence of parallel or re-occurring universes. Even the prediction of a beginning that the big bang brings may be infinite as Stephen Hawking predicts as time and matter squeeze into an infinitely small point. That is a whole other topic, although related in some ways. There were/are many theories that describe an infinite universe in both time and size before the big bang theory became the prominent theory. So, why is it the prominent theory? Because the universe is expanding. From that simple observation (derived from the red shift of stars), one can simply reverse time (in your mind) and see everything collapse back to where it came from. If you go far enough back, you will see that everything will inevitably come from the same place. The one question I have about the Big Bang is, if everything in the universe was in one place at one time, wouldn't the universe have been contained within a black hole? Did the Schwarzschild radius grow with the universe? Is there a distance fro the center of the universe where light bends sufficiently to start returning to the center? Is that why the universe appears to be uniformly distributed around us? If the universe is oscillating, then would we see the beginning of other previous universes if we look for the light that has oscillated back and forth?

Pardon my spelling.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17135988)

The one question I have about the Big Bang is, if everything in the universe was in one place at one time, wouldn't the universe have been contained within a black hole?

No. [ucr.edu]

Is there a distance fro the center of the universe where light bends sufficiently to start returning to the center?

There is no center of the universe. [ucr.edu]

Is that why the universe appears to be uniformly distributed around us?

The universe is thought to be uniformly distributed around us ("isotropic") either because it started out distributed evenly, or perhaps more likely because inflation [wikipedia.org] smoothed out whatever irregularities once existed.

If the universe is oscillating, then would we see the beginning of other previous universes if we look for the light that has oscillated back and forth?

It's possible for light from earlier in the universe's history to circumnavigate the universe and reappear from another direction. However, in light of inflation, it is thought unlikely that the universe is closed or small enough for us to see that. Also, cyclic universe theories with "previous universes" usually imply that no light from a previous universe will make it through a Big Bang event to be seen by us (even if we could see through the cosmic background radiation).

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135130)

Okay, maybe I just don't get it... I'm not religious, but I don't buy into the big bang theory either... Why can't we just theorize that time is not finite - there's no beginning and no end... - you are not religious, but you are not scientifically minded either. We do not 'just theorize', we gather data and propose ideas - hypothesis and mathematical models. These models fit the gathered data and can be used to predict events in the future.

The current evidence shows that the Universe is expanding [ucla.edu]. We do not just theorize something for the sake of theorizing and for no reason, so we cannot just theorize that the Universe was and is and will be static forever, we know it is changing and expanding from an initial singularity.

Nothing in the Big Bang theory prevents further studies into the origins of the initial singularity. The time as we understand it only is applicable within this Universe because it is a property of this Universe and should we discover later that there are other Universes (a mathematical possibility at this point only,) the idea of time as we know it may not be applicable in them.

When you use the term 'infinite', you assume infinite time, and our understanding of time within our reality, this notion may be totally inapplicable to the original singularity and to the events preceeding the original singularity.

Cheers.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135256)

Seriously, someone explain to me why time MUST have a beginning? Can't we just accept some things as being infinite?

First, the human mind and computers cannot actually calculate infinity.

There is not enough brainpower nor matter in the observable universe to calculate such an amount.

Rather than to go insane at the thought of infinity or to try to create a machine that consumes all matter outside the observable universe, we simply create a placeholder.

Secondly, infinity does not actually exist in the physical universe.

As time does not exist other than as a unit of measurement and mostly as a matter of opinion and comparison of atomic decay. Time itself cannot be measured by polling a static unit of measurement like you can with matter or energy... As in... There are so much quantity and quality of matter or energy at any given point. Whereas time is merely a measurement of the comparison of what matter and energy are doing and for how long.

Considering it is also relative depending on how fast the energy or matter is traveling doesn't help the situation.

Even if there is infinite matter and energy in the universe, it would be impossible for anything to observe it all at once because of the space time problem.

Infinity might as well not exist if you can't observe it and even if you could would it really matter? Since, nothing else could exist as a single point of time, matter, and space no information could be transfered before the big bang.

However, this does not take an account of what is happening outside our observable universe or if there other universes. As in... There was a big bang, but there happens to be other big bangs or various other similar events happening elsewhere but so far away that light or xrays from those parts of the universe will never reach us... EVER!

Re:Look and calculate all you want (1)

BlueFireIce (1014121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135866)

Today most people agree that there was a beginning, where the real argument is at is in when and how.

Someone said something about the Oscillatory Universe and though at one time it was the hot new thing, when they started looking they found there to be to little mass in the universe to stop the "expansion". But expansion is not the only answer to the red-shift in light.

The first answer most people give is stellar motion (expansion). Which is the loss of light energy and its wavelength stretched or red-shifted from the light source moving away.

There is also gravitation, in which the star's own gravity may lengthen the wavelength of the light and/or from starlight passing near a massive object, like a galaxy.

Second-order doppler effect (Transverse doppler shift) can also explain the red-shift. As a light source moving at right angles to an observer will always be red-shifted. And when you use this for an answer, it implies that the universe may be in circular motion instead of expansion. However it could be all of them, it does not have to be just one answer.

As far as there being a beginning, it's just a matter of thermodynamics, as someone else said everything is falling apart which means it had to start at some point because if it was infinite all energy would be at equilibrium, meaning it would be the same everywhere, which is just not the case.

Re:Look and calculate all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17136284)

But expansion is not the only answer to the red-shift in light.

It's the only answer so far proposed that works. The alternatives you suggest do not.

The first answer most people give is stellar motion (expansion). Which is the loss of light energy and its wavelength stretched or red-shifted from the light source moving away.

In general relativity, redshift due to expansion of space can't be completely disentangled from velocity Doppler shift. However, it is known that the cosmological redshift cannot be due to galaxies merely moving away from us in a flat, non-expanding spacetime; among other things, an expanding universe predicts different luminosity-redshift curves than a non-expanding one (guess which we observe).

There is also gravitation, in which the star's own gravity may lengthen the wavelength of the light and/or from starlight passing near a massive object, like a galaxy.

Cosmological redshift is not due to gravitational redshift of the source star; the latter has a very specific value determined by the star's mass and radius, which is not obeyed by cosmological objects such as distant galaxies. Cosmological redshift is also not due to gravitational redshift of gravitationally lensed light; the redshift of the latter is essentially zero (cancelled out by an equivalent blueshift as the light approaches the lensing body).

Second-order doppler effect (Transverse doppler shift) can also explain the red-shift. As a light source moving at right angles to an observer will always be red-shifted. And when you use this for an answer, it implies that the universe may be in circular motion instead of expansion.

Nope. We don't see any such anisotropy in the universe. (Consider that there will be two antipodal points exhibiting zero redshift, not to mention a general angular dependence of redshift that is not observed.)

Furthermore, none of these explanations can account for the cosmic microwave background radiation, even if they worked for Hubble redshifts.

As far as there being a beginning, it's just a matter of thermodynamics, as someone else said everything is falling apart which means it had to start at some point because if it was infinite all energy would be at equilibrium, meaning it would be the same everywhere, which is just not the case.

Your argument fails. See, for instance, the cyclic model [arxiv.org] of Steinhardt and Turok, specifically how local entropy density does not build up from cycle to cycle in their model. (This does not violate the second law of thermodynamics; total entropy does increase, but it gets "diluted" in such a way that local universes can continually be produced.)

Most over-desgined chip ever (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17133696)

Millions of transistors for a chip that contains a single read-only register that contains the number 42.

42 (5, Funny)

hansamurai (907719) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133700)

They should just call it Deep Thought and get back to us in 7.5 million years.

Re:42 (1)

LouisZepher (643097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134900)

Cute. Too bad there isn't a -1 Obvious Joke mod, as that's pretty much the same thing I thought of when I saw the title. I can't say much myself, as I make numerous Adams' references here all the time. However, I try to make my references a tad more obscure and not as expected. "Nobody expects the Shoe Event Horizon! Our chief weapon is swollen ankles. And fallen arches. Our chief weapons are swollen ankles and fallen arches! And blisters..." - for example.

That said, I don't think our descendants will like the answer, but if we can get some clever agents and bicker back and forth about the answer, we'd be on the gravy train for life.

Re:42 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17135344)

All I heard was:

That was witty, but not as witty as I would have been had I been the one to post first! Allow me to educate you on how much smarter I am than you, you insipid drooling mongoloid. blah blah bliggedty blah blah. Isn't my vast array of esoteric, obscure and trivial knowledge of British sci-fi comedy minutiae that was written by someone else that I'm only repeating without any original thought whatsoever just because something reminded me of it overwhelmingly impressive ladies?

With so much pussy that must be coming your way, I'm surprised you have time to post on slashdot.

How else can it be applied? (2, Insightful)

Scothoser (523461) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133812)

This is very interesting, but it doesn't explain what is being filtered, and how it is being filtered. Assuming the signals that are being filtered are radio waves, that would indicate that the processor would need to be powerful enough to catch the weak waves (as indicated in the article), while still providing enough power to filter out the noise.

I trust the astronomists already know how to do this, but it would be interesting to see what the process would be.

Then it brings up the other question: What else can this processor be used for? If it needs to be produced in the millions to make it financially viable, where else will it be sold?

Perhaps it could be used to filter out wireless microwave radio signals, allowing for better reception in a cell phone, security within a wireless network through filtering, and elsewhere. Imagine having a hard-coded chip that will filter out background wireless "noise" and look for a specific signal from a wireless signal. Assuming it couldn't be easily hacked, it could potentially provide some excellent security to wireless networks.

Re:How else can it be applied? (4, Informative)

stevesliva (648202) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134158)

Then it brings up the other question: What else can this processor be used for? If it needs to be produced in the millions to make it financially viable, where else will it be sold?
Nope, IBM offers a SiGe foundry process. If you pay for the wafers, IBM will make them, whether you want 10 or 10,000. Yes, you may be designing a chip for a limited design run, but you're also designing a telescope that you'll only build once...

Re:How else can it be applied? (1)

n8ur (230546) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134622)

IANARA (I Am Not A Radio Astronomer) but I wonder if these are very fast correlator chips that are used to synchronize (I'm sure there's a much better technical word) multiple data streams so that the data from all the antennas in the array can be massaged to make X small antennas look like one gigantic one (in resolution). Apparently it's a process that's much faster to do in silicon (across many parallel channels) than in a general purpose CPU.

I visited the Parkes radio telescope in Australia about two years ago and specialized correlator hardware was a big part of the processing system. They had designed (IIRC) three generations of multi-channel correlator hardware.

Some filtering amplifies signals (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135368)

Correlation. That's how GPS works, for instance. GPS signals are way weaker than the noise they are embedded in. However, if you know the pattern (as you do with GPS) then you can tease the signal out of the noise.

If you don't (as with space), then you need to make some guesses and do a whole lot more searching with a lot more patterns to find a match. That's no doubt where BigIron comes into the equation.

Is it just me, or is this a waste? (0, Flamebait)

Josh Lindenmuth (1029922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17133988)

I can't help thinking "why?". At some point, doesn't it make sense to stop spending Billions of dollars of taxpayer money on Big Bang research? How much does it benefit us to know what happened .3 seconds after the big bang vs. 3 seconds vs. 10 million years? I'd rather see all this money fund research into advanced propulsion systems, robotics, and solar power technologies that will help us explore the Universe, rather than just gaze at it with ever more powerful equipment.

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134092)

well, on the one hand people want to know where we have been ("we" being existance)

I'm with you on this though...I don't care where we have been, I care where we are GOING

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (2, Insightful)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134270)

I don't care where we have been, I care where we are GOING

How can you know where you are going, unless you understand where you come from?

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134456)

I don't need to know that I'm polish if I am driving straight into a brick wall.

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (1)

quark101 (865412) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134152)

That's a very short sighted view of things. This is the same sort of "Blue Sky" research that places like Bell Labs did tremendous amounts of. Just because there isn't a potential application now doesn't mean there won't be one in 5, 50, or 500 years. What about quantum mechanics? why do we really need to know what happens at those scales? Who really cares about it? How is it going to impact me? Oh, yeah, that's right, this same kind of 'pointless' research that underlies all of modern semi conductors and almost the entire technology industry. Who knows? Maybe big bang research will be the underpinnings of the next major technological revolution. Maybe it won't. The only way to know is to do the research and to see where it leads.

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (2, Insightful)

i7dude (473077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134306)

it is easy to get lost in the ambiguous nature of the project's goal. put that aside for a minute. think about all of the advanced in communication and antenna theory, receiver design, and other technologies that will need to be developed in order to reach the ends of the project. while unearthing the big bang may not provide you with a tremendous amount of excitement; maybe you will sleep a little easier knowing that all of the technology advancements that go into research like this can/will be applied to other more practical areas of our lives.

many of the advances in technology that influence our lives today were unintended consequences of other research.

dude.

You don't have a clue about what science is (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134382)

Science is about understanding our world and finding truths.

If you think trying to find why the world exists and how it works is a waste of time you must clearly already know why we exist and what is the purpose of the human species. Please enlighten us because since the dawn of time nobody knows how the hell we should use our lives for.

Also many discoveries are useful after 50-100 years.

Look at how Maxwell lost his time finding formulas to calculate and study very abstract electromagnetic waves. Well you know what ? It took a lot of time but eventually these equations were the source of radio telecommunications. From your point of view nobody should have used money to support Maxwell though since during his time it was an abstract and useless concept.

Nobody is wasting time nor money until we know what our goal is. Until then, put everything in science to find out.

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (4, Insightful)

Red Jesus (962106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134534)

There are three ideas here and each is worth addressing individually:

At some point, doesn't it make sense to stop spending Billions of dollars of taxpayer money on Big Bang research?

At some point, yes. Diminishing marginal returns eventually bring down everything. But I wouldn't say we've gone too far; this program doesn't sound like it would cost anywhere near a billion dollars and the chips will probably be useful in other weak-signal applications.

How much does it benefit us to know what happened .3 seconds after the big bang vs. 3 seconds vs. 10 million years?

Newton couldn't have developed his universal law of gravitation without the observations of Galileo and Kepler that planets are attracted to each other. But now we use his law of gravity all the time. Relativity drew on the results of experiments that involved light reflecting back from the moons of Jupiter; now we need relativity to calibrate the electron guns in our televsion sets. Our understanding of nuclear physics got a huge boost from studies of the stars and the fusion processes going on out there. And nuclear power (and weapons) have impacted society in a grand way. How much does it benefit us to know what happened 0.3 seconds after the Big Bang? It helps us because the closer we get to the Big Bang, the closer we get to observing quantum gravity (in whatever form it takes). And while quantum gravity might not seem terribly useful right now, I have little doubt that it will have useful applications eventually. Basic research is important.

I'd rather see all this money fund research into advanced propulsion systems, robotics, and solar power technologies that will help us explore the Universe, rather than just gaze at it with ever more powerful equipment.

I can't help thinking "why?". At some point, doesn't it make sense to stop spending Billions of dollars of taxpayer money on Space exploration? After all, if looking at the universe with a cheap telescope is a waste of time, wouldn't going out and touching it in an expensive spaceship be an even bigger waste?

It's just you. (2, Informative)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134566)


At some point, doesn't it make sense to stop spending Billions of dollars of taxpayer money on Big Bang research?

It sounds like it's more European countries funding this. I don't see the US mentioned anywhere, so at best the US is but one funding contributor.

How much does it benefit us to know what happened .3 seconds after the big bang vs. 3 seconds vs. 10 million years?

I dunno.. how much did it benefit us more than 180 years ago when Michael Faraday was screwing around with magnets? How much did it benefit us when Gallileo was looking at the moons of Jupiter and realized that they revolved around Jupiter, and not the earth? Are you really trying to argue that understanding the basic forces of our universe might not possibly be of some use to us?

Scientific advancement and benefits to mankind aren't always a nice straight line where the benefit to an everyday person is immediately obvious.

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17134908)

Luckily, there are plenty of people - with the resources - who don't agree with you.

Remember kids: You not "getting it", that doesn't imply "it"'s bad. It just means that you don't "get it".

There are lots of things which I consider a waste.. But I'm also aware of that since my interest lay elsewhere, I'm probably not qualified to have an informed opinion.

Expensive wines, for instance.

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (1)

cohomology (111648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134932)

I don't think it's a waste of time.

1) It's part of Western culture in investigate the universe and not be satisfied with "God did it."

2) If you want a "practical" reason, signal processing chips like this would help the GNU software radio project.

3) Going to the moon wasn't practical, but it got me interested in science when I was a kid.
What got you interested in science and technology?

This is a double-coupon (1)

iridium_ionizer (790600) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135060)

This isn't a waste of money when you consider how much a next-generation (after CERN) supercollider would cost. The more we know about the Big Bang the more we will know about subatomic particles, quantum physics, and the "fabric" of the universe.

Although the chances of near-term applications developing from the science are slim, it could lead to the developments in quantum communications, subatomic "rocket" engines, and spaceships that "surf" on the gravitational waves to get around the galaxy.

Okay, so I am getting into the realm of science-fiction, but the facts remain: the Big Bang happened, it was a very large event with lots of weird stuff happening, and the effects are still floating around the universe (aka lots of data). We would be fools to not try to gather and make sense of some of that data in order to further understand the universe and so that we can make weird stuff happen (aka advanced technology) and maybe benefit mankind by doing so.

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135332)

Because.

Because we are human beings and it in our nature to question.

Because as a sentient species, we strive to find purpose in our existence, and the existence of all things around us.

Because there is more than one way to find the truth - theoretical physics, experimental simulation, exploration using spacecrafts etc.

See, at the end of the day, there is no one methodology set in stone. It does not matter how we do it, what matters is that we are doing it. That you consider Big Bang research a waste is an opinion, an opinion that someone else may not share. Of course, you may also find some religious folks saying the same thing, because apparently they already know the truth through their faith.

So, why do we need to do anything at all? Just pick your religion and do what it says and everything is going to be peachy at the end. I mean, the truth is apparently all in some book (or books) out there.

That's how ridiculous your statement sounds to some of us, because you feel that it is a waste of time. It is a question of what you want to understand and know, and how you want to get to that understanding.

Re:Is it just me, or is this a waste? (4, Insightful)

wanerious (712877) | more than 7 years ago | (#17136474)

I can't help thinking "why?". At some point, doesn't it make sense to stop spending Billions of dollars of taxpayer money on Big Bang research? How much does it benefit us to know what happened .3 seconds after the big bang vs. 3 seconds vs. 10 million years? I'd rather see all this money fund research into advanced propulsion systems, robotics, and solar power technologies that will help us explore the Universe, rather than just gaze at it with ever more powerful equipment.

Well, I *hope* it's just you. Just like I don't get what makes a cat do particular things from time to time, I don't get people who aren't fundamentally *curious*. Even stipulating that there may *never* be a single practical application or utility derived from cosmology, it speaks poorly for our species if we have the capability to probe our fundamental origins from our little speck in the cosmos but lack the effort. In all cases, when we probe the Universe with more precise instruments, we find mysteries that we not only cannot explain, but that we never before *imagined*. The subtlety and beauty of the Universe demands enough respect for it that we at least peer through the crack in the door.

A better headline (3, Funny)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134124)

Big Blue Building a Baffling, Buggy, and Bloated Behemoth Befitting Betterment of the Big Bang theories.

Impressive tech (2, Interesting)

frostilicus2 (889524) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134350)

I think this is great. The chips will contribute a huge amount of processing power which would be unavailable from current super computers, which will allow calculations with much greater resolution so we should learn a lot.

It would be interesting to actually know the performance of the chips. From the article,

The chips will be made on IBM's silicon germanium process and have a typical peak frequency, or speed, of around 200GHz. They will be made on the 130-nanometre process.
Bearing in mind that these are ASICs and they run at 200GHz each this should allow for an incredibly detailed model to be formed. Can anyone hazard a guess to how the performance would compare to "standard" efficient code running on a microprocessor?

I hope that this leads to some great science.

Re:Impressive tech (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17136590)

I don't know if the process is good for digital logic. I think there are reasons that digital ICs are generally CMOS, but I forget the particular details. In reading the article, this looks like it may be an analog chip.

pissed off (1)

Bizzeh (851225) | more than 7 years ago | (#17134788)

the creationists are gonna be pissed off about this one

Re:pissed off (2, Interesting)

DaveN59 (1036492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135202)

Umm, I consider myself to be a creationist, and I'm not pissed off. It seems obvious (to me, anyway) that the Big Bang theory and the creation story are just 2 different views of the same event. The universe was created from a singularity -- where once there was nothing now there is something. Sounds like creation to me. The more we learn about the universe we live in, the more in awe I become of God, the Creator of it all. Anyway, please hold your flames to a minimum. You won't change my fundamental beliefs about God and creation anymore than my spouting off about the Bible will change your cherished beliefs. If you choose to believe we evolved from whatever, so be it.

Re:pissed off (1)

KC7JHO (919247) | more than 7 years ago | (#17136978)

Why? Because most of them don't understand the 1st chapter of Genesis? Let's walk through it a second.

2: And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

What are they saying here? That there is a mass that existed, or was created.

3: And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Bang! Light ... everywhere, Light doesn't come from nowhere it has to have a source. The sun wasn't made yet neither were the stars or other planets. Sounds like this "Mass" called earth in #2 has been turned into plasma during an explosion to me.

4: And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Wow here we see that things are starting to settle out, the light (or plasma or what ever) is starting to coagulate to me.

5: And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Ok stay with me for a sec and remember the term "Day" keep in mind the term is used thought time as a frame of reference. So here it is stating that the time period where the light was divided from the darkness (the universal material? Plasma? W/E) is called the first day.

6: And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

Waters ... this is what the one who seen the vision of the "Big Bang" thought it looked like. Here we see that these "Waters" are starting to form into things like planets, stars, what ever but at this point they all pretty much looked the same.

7: And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8: And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Here we are into the 2nd time period and now have seen the material left from the "Big Bang" formed into bodies or masses.

9: And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10: And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
11,12
13: And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Ok now in the 3rd time period, we are talking about the formation of the earth it's self. Were other planets formed at the same time? Most likely but do the fact that there was not yet a sun or other stars how would the recorder of the event know. Perhaps this event was the impact that caused the moon to be formed? The one who recorded the vision of the event did not say.

14: And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16: And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17: And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18: And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19: And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Here we are in the 4th time period when the mases of the stars are igniting, to the observer/recorder of this event the moon seemed like a smaller version of the sun, perhaps if you were not ever told it was in fact a planet reflecting the sun you too would have a similar description of it?

After this the recorder begins to tell us about the creation of life, we are left to go and discover when, how, and all the other very real questions.

I am not a physicists or a scientist but I have great respect for those who look at the universe around us and question "How was it done?"

And what is with the belief that creationist all believe that the earth was created 6k years ago? I had never even heard of this belief until I started reading slash dot. It doesn't matter to me if you believe that God created the whole thing or not, I do however encourage you to explore the bible with a scientific mind. You may find that a lot more of it fits with the facts that scientist have held as not falsifiable than you think. You will find that the bible tells us to do this type of research, and to pray for wisdom while doing it. If you are a creationist, do study it most of you have no idea what is actually written yet you believe what you hear people say you believe.

Again I ask ... why would this upset a true creationist?

This technology would have a very nice application in any field where a very large sensor array is needed to gather and filter data. Think real time global temp, health monitoring, scanning space for asteroids, I don't know, use your imagination.

Think ... this is a beowolf cluster on a ... stick.

The Gist of It - (1)

ToxicBanjo (905105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135102)

It's a chip that is designed to have little noise while operating at super high frequencies (~ 200GHz) so that the faint noise of the universe can be properly detected. Cool!

The uses for this, shall I say "ultra low noise", technology could be highly valuable in the sensor and biometrics market. Less noise or interference is always better for any pattern recognition... ok, ok, except in chaos theory.

Still, I'd really like to see something on the software they will use to model the universe's noise data.

Decoding is all fine and good, but.. (1)

slashbob22 (918040) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135122)

I would love to see Big Blue design a chip to provide a loss-less encoding of the Big Bang. I am sick of the current "lossy" versions which always seem to be missing some information here or there.

Decoding the Universe (1)

BC Guy (657285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135184)

Where are all of the Douglas Adams quotes??
IBM should name their computer "42".

One big question (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135464)

And it's been bugging me for a while, but if someone somewhere knows the answer or where to find it, I would be forever indebted to you. Unless the particles that formed this planet travelled faster than light, how do we ever expect to be able to "see" the big bang using any electromagnetic energies? I'm not trying to be an ass hat, and I'm no physicist, but how can they say the universe is 15 billion years old, when it would have taken longer than 15 billion years for the dust that formed us all to get here from the big bang? Please no religous arguments, and only serious replies with information (unless you want to throw in a Flying Spaghetti Monster joke for fun)

Re:One big question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17135688)

Unless the particles that formed this planet travelled faster than light, how do we ever expect to be able to "see" the big bang using any electromagnetic energies?

We don't. Electromagnetic radiation can't be used to look back earlier than the photon decoupling time at which the cosmic microwave background formed, some 380,000 years after the Big Bang, because the universe was a hot plasma opaque to electromagnetic waves before that time.

In principle, gravitational radiation could be used to look back all the way to the Big Bang, however. (Whether we can ever practically detect gravitational waves from that long ago is more doubtful.) The universe is effectively transparent to gravitational waves at curvatures less than near-singularity.

I'm not trying to be an ass hat, and I'm no physicist, but how can they say the universe is 15 billion years old, when it would have taken longer than 15 billion years for the dust that formed us all to get here from the big bang?

The Big Bang did not occur at some specific location in space, like an explosion throwing matter into a void. The Big Bang happened everywhere in the universe at once, including right here: in classical Big Bang cosmology, all points in space started out compressed into an infinitesimal point, and then space subsequently expanded. Think of an inflating balloon: matter isn't transported from one side of the balloon to another; points on the balloon just grow apart.

Re:One big question (1)

KC7JHO (919247) | more than 7 years ago | (#17137272)

So to better get my head around this correctly, check my thoughts and tell me how far off base I am.
As I understand it in this compressed state the atomic matter was present but basically had no space between the pieces? The protons/neutrons/electrons? or what ever they were made of, and at the time of the BANG something caused this mass to decide "it needed some space" and the atoms were formed which caused enough presser to force everything to expand.

I am not trying to be foolish here I am, unfortunately, simply uninformed as the the theory of the actual mechanics of the event.
If you do not wish to answer, I can research the information in time, however thank you for any effort to explain the mechanics. (laymen terms please;)

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135528)

"IBM is working with European astronomy organization Astron to design a chip that will be used to help gather billions-of-years-old radio signals from deep space in the hopes of learning more about the origins of the universe.

IBM blew past the idea to go by the book and use OCR on a Bible to get an old testament about this instead of channeling their radical (radiocal) efforts to chip away at this spacey idea of extratextual evidence.

The Meaning/Origins of Life..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135676)

The Meaning/Origins of Life are relative depending on who asks the question:

Politicans: Votes.
Governemnt: Taxes.
Office Managers: Getting status reports.
Office Workers: Writing status reports.
Labor/Trade Unions: Complaining.
Corporate Executives: Golf.
Hermes Conrad: Requisition forms.
Nerds/Geeks: 42.
Soap Opera Junkies: 24
Rednecks: NASCAR
NASCAR: Rednecks

It's really not a hard question.....

The Square Kilometer Array (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17135958)


It's part of Astron's Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope project.


Since when is the SKA [skatelescope.org] Astron's project? Look at the length of the list [skatelescope.org] of partners.

(Btw, for non-astronomers out there, this is a truly impressive proposed system. It's going to be a long time before it's operational, but I am eagerly awaiting it.)

No direct big bang data... (2, Insightful)

Eric Damron (553630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17135996)

It seems to me that there is no way to get data coming right after the big bang unless you assume that matter was thrown out faster than the speed of light. I'm just a layman but wouldn't that data have passed us by a loooong time ago?

how does the microprocessor really help? (1)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 7 years ago | (#17136246)

The details from the artcle (which is certainly very little) do not say how this will help in radio astronomy applications. Of all the things that I can think of that would help weak signal detection, it certainly isn't the microprocessor. Assuming that they will use a digitized radio scheme, which seems likely based on the information provided in the article, the worst device to detect weak signals is the ADC which typically have noise figures in excess of 10 dB. The next biggest culprit in RF chains are mixers. Should they not be working on improving these weakness es instead? Otherwise, the only benefit that I see is that they essentially building a type of DSP which will optimize the FFTs and digital filtering that would allow them to compute the data faster, but not really detect anything weaker.

Improving the RF chain prior to the ADC will be the biggest help in detecting the weak signals. Now if they said that these microprocessors were also used to perform clustered computing for antenna gain computations, then that could help (since this would improve the RF chain).
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