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The Universe Is 13.73 Billion Years Old

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the so-happy-birthday-already dept.

Space 755

CaptainCarrot writes "Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer has summarized for his readers the new results released by NASA from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which has been surveying the 3K microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang. Some of the most interesting results: The age of the universe is now known to unprecedented accuracy: 13.73 billion years old, +/- 120 million. Spacetime is flat to within a 2% error margin. And ordinary matter and energy account for only 4.62% of the universe's total. Plait's comment on the age result: 'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'"

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755 comments

It is 13.73 billion years and three days old (4, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677824)

They forgot to take into account the time they did the experiment and the time they published the results.

Re:It is 13.73 billion years and three days old (5, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678226)

Yeah, but the universe has gotten 7.5 billion years older in the last 30 years, so you have to scale it too.

Re:It is 13.73 billion years and three days old (3, Funny)

Soleen (925936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678454)

13.73 Billion Years: hm, good uptime so far...
Will 64bit clock counter should be long enough to count since the creation of universe but for how long?

JEEBUS. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22677828)

The world is only 2,000 years old. :cletus:

Big Mistake (4, Funny)

clonan (64380) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677840)

'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'"

You NEVER tell a woman she looks older!!!

Re:Big Mistake (1)

farrellj (563) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677960)

And she doesn't look a day over 5 billion....

ttyl
          Farrell

Re:Big Mistake (5, Funny)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678136)

In the beginning the singularity was void and without (much of anything), then BLIND CHANCE said "Let there be Quanta!"
and the morning and the evening of the first femtosecond. .......And the Hawkings radiation begat energy, and the energy begat matter, yea even unto the event horizon... Hey the only Genesis I know well was made by Sega...

Re:Big Mistake (2, Funny)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678162)

She might be 13 billion, but she has the body of a 16 billion year old.

Re:Big Mistake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678264)

Wait, I was told it was 4.5 billion years..... Is that wrong too?

Re:Big Mistake (3, Informative)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678368)

That's the age of the Earth. So, yes.

Re:Big Mistake (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678370)

That's approximately the age of the earth, or 4.54 billion is about the best estimate. Since models for the accretion time (how long it took for collisions and gravity to build up the earth) vary, take that with a plus or minus of 10 million to 100 million years or so.

Re:Big Mistake (1)

kbmxpxfan (1251818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678354)

Maybe if we make the universe old enough we can give chance enough time to have actually created it.

Re:Big Mistake (5, Funny)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678434)

"The Universe Is 13.73 Billion Years Old"

Aren't we forgetting something before we start the flamefest?

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear universe
Happy

Oh crap the RIAA just appeared at my desk complaining about a copyright infringement.

Re:Big Mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678362)

Yeesh, they're making '6000 year' jokes in the summery too. Its like preemptive trolling.

Re:Big Mistake (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678412)

Most Bible Thumpers have it totally wrong. IF they actually read the bible, they would have found that the earth was NOT actually created in 6 or 7 days. YES YES That is the GENESIS account, BUT, the original hebrew/aramaic translations describe a day as a period or era (really undetermined period of time) Psalms describes that a day with God is as a thousand years (let you look it up for yourself). this does not mean day with God IS a thousand years. It really just means a day is a long long time. hence AS a thousand years and not IS a thousand years. SO it is plausible he created the universe AND still have the big bang theory still be in harmony. Except that Scientists don't want to accept that and Zealot, fundamentalist religionsists do not want to acknoledge this.

Make no mistake, what I am saying here is that an open mind be kept on BOTH sides. It is entirely possible our universe was created by a supreme being. There seems to be too much order in the small and larger details for that to be considered a "random" accident of the universe. On the other hand it coule be random which also seems possible as well. The answer is not conclusivly known for either or, and only human arrogance would presume otherwise. One day we WILL know the absolute truth of it. But at this time there is too much bickering and closed minded ness on both sides to actually try to figure this out.

Hundreds or thousands of years from now our decsendents (assuming we don't blow ourselves up before then) will look at us much the way we look at our ancestors or we will be living life the way the Bible says things will happen. Right now we have "the earth is flat" mentality about all this religion AND science. We know very little about space especially since we have not been out there exploring it. And no being just outside our atmostphere does not count. It gives alot of info, but until we can explore our own Solar System fully, we have very little data to go on other than what we can see with the limits of a telescope.

kinda like... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22677842)

your mom

Re:kinda like... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678130)

your mom

You forgot to post a link [uncyclopedia.org] .

WARNING: The linked article is about your mom. You poor guy...

Some Perspective: (5, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677846)

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself
and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss... and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right... but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all erridity and disallusionment,
and despite the changing fortunes of time,
there is always a big future in computer maintainance.

Remember the Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
especially with those persons closest to you...
that lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love, therefore; it will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth,
birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan,
and let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
Take heart amid the deepening gloom
that your dog is finally getting enough cheese,
and reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot,
it could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke of the Universe.
You have no right to be here,
and weather you can hear it or not,
the Universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god,
whatever you conceive him to be:
hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
the world continues to deteriorate.

Give up

Music by Christopher Guest

Wait (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22677856)

There was a universe before I was born?

Re:Wait (4, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678286)

Yes, believe it or not, there was. I know because I was a beta tester for dirt.

They never did get all the bugs out.

Re:Wait (4, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678482)

You do realize, sir, that this revelation officially makes you older than dirt?

Mother in Law's Age? (4, Funny)

ToxikFetus (925966) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677864)

Well, I'm glad that's settled. Now let's see if they can figure out my mother-in-law's age.

Re:Mother in Law's Age? (2, Funny)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678258)

Well they have at least put an upper limit on it. It must be less than 13.73 billion!

1373 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22677888)

Damn... the universe missed by 0.36 billion years.

Then it would have been totally 1337.

How much longer from 1337 to (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678184)

14773, with two shots of espresso?

Precision vs accuracy (5, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677890)

The age of the universe is now known to unprecedented accuracy: 13.73 billion years old, +/- 120 million.
This is precision, not accuracy. The result will be judged accurate when there are lots of duplicate experiments getting the same result.

Re:Precision vs accuracy (5, Insightful)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678302)

"The result will be judged accurate when there are lots of duplicate experiments getting the same result."

You can do the same experiment as many times as you want, but as long as you are using the same theoretical foundations, you won't get any closer to the actual result. The only way to judge that the results are accurate are to devise experiments capable of giving results similarly precise but which are founded on different, but accepted, principles. Sort of like how the various methods for dating fossils give similar results.

Re:Precision vs accuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678312)

-1, Pedantic

Re:Precision vs accuracy (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678470)

The age of the universe is now known to unprecedented accuracy: 13.73 billion years old, +/- 120 million.


This is precision, not accuracy. The result will be judged accurate when there are lots of duplicate experiments getting the same result.

I think what you object to is not the word "accuracy", but the word "known". What you appear to want is for the assertion to be validated by further testing.

The earth is round... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22677896)

...but the universe is flat.

The 6000-year people may be right (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677898)

'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'
Well, it doesn't look a day over 6000 years, thanks to Acme Space Wrinkle Cream.

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678000)

Contrary to what the average slashbot living in their parents' basement thinks, there *is* hard scientific evidence that the Earth is only 6000 years old.

For example... [creationmoments.com]

I wonder how many atheists will just pooh-pooh this evidence instead of actually trying to retort it.

Retort- (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678072)

Dinosaurs.

Re:Retort- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678138)

Like the pleiosaur corpse found by the Japanese in 1977? RTFA, troll.

Re:Retort- (0)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678186)

So a few cases is proof now?

Re:Retort- (1)

Naughty Bob (1004174) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678306)

I RTFA, it was hilarious. A Pleiosaur was spotted by a zoologist on a ship, but then the mean old Cap'n made the guy throw it back....

The best evidence I ever done saw.

Re:Retort- (1)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678398)

Your signature is _perfect_ for that reply!

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (1)

MonsterOfTheLake (880659) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678110)

6. The moon has always been an enigma, where did it come from? To this day there is no agreed answer except perhaps that God created it and placed it there on the fourth day of Creation.


Oh, I see, it's all so clear to me now. Praise Jesus!

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678144)

There isn't a single piece of hard evidence in that article. It is all conjecture and assumption based on misunderstandings of actual science. There isn't enough substance in that article to even be called pseudo-science.

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (1)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678414)

It is also bad math. Just about every paragraph assumes that the rate of X was always the same as it is now without using any historical data to make that argument.

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (1)

cerqon (1113099) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678152)

And you call that evidence.... we should make better schools.

Heh. (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678250)

Creationist science is like a cargo cult...They buy guys who have letters after their names, they use all the terminology, and put on lab coats...and still don't understand why no one takes their "science" seriously.

And it's the same old argument from ignorance: "No one has proven with 100% certainty how this happened, therefore it must have been God." Of course you can insert anything in where "God" is and the argument will be equally fallacious. I'd be nice if they'd throw out a valid argument every now and again.

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678308)

Nice fakepost, troll

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678460)

A much more common argument from creationists is that it looks like it's 13.73 billion years old, but it actually is only around 6000 years old, and the whole 13.73 billion years business is just there to fool us.

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (5, Informative)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678464)

I know a number of Catholics and other christians, a number of Jews, and a handful of Buddhists who would all reject your attempted "evidence" for a number of reasons.

The base reason, though, why you're entirely wrong, is twofold:

Number one, you're assuming that science is unchangeable and that what came first is inevitably more accurate. While this may be acceptable for scripture, it's exactly opposite to what's acceptable for science.

Why is this?

Because science is based on the assumption that while it may be the most useful explanation for the way things work at the moment, it may possibly be disproved with better equipment and techniques at some time in the future. Hence, this 'revisionism' that your link claims is somehow a bad thing is, instead, just the way science works.

Secondly, each of the explanations for the apparent "young age" given is incomplete. The age of Niagara falls, for instance, does not take into account geological uplift, vulcanism, deposition of sediments, or any other of the ways in which erosion is countered. The assertion that the sun is "getting smaller" has been measured; Heimholz' calculations were based on incomplete information and on an incorrect assumption that the sun was burning according to the standard oxygen-fuel model--being as nuclear fusion had not yet been discovered.

You do not have to be an atheist to practice good science. Many, many men and women of faith have no problem with scientific thought and principles, because they understand that science is not a -threat- to their beliefs, but rather a -celebration- of them. If your faith is so fragile that anything which does not read exactly according to your preconceived notion, your personal interpretation, of what the bible says is counted as a threat, then the problem lies not with science, but with you.

And I'm not posting as an Anonymous Coward because, unlike you, I can stand behind my words.

Re:The 6000-year people may be right (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678348)

Well, it doesn't look a day over 6000 years, thanks to Acme Space Wrinkle Cream.
Now that would acceptably explain the lack of space-time curvature within the 2% error margin!

Figurative or literal? (5, Funny)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677914)

"After about a microsecond, it had cooled enough for protons and neutrons to form. Three minutes later (yes, just three minutes) it had cooled enough for protons and neutrons to stick together."

Is it a literal microsecond or a figurative one? You always have to question measurements of time in creation stories. Did they really mean a minute? Maybe that minute was 4 years long...

Re:Figurative or literal? (4, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678014)

You always have to question measurements of time in creation stories.

Maybe in Genensis one day is 2 billion of our current years. That would mean the Biblical time period is correct. Maybe the creationists are right, just their precision is off!

Re:Figurative or literal? (1)

yakmans_dad (1144003) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678194)

That's a common wheeze -- days and nights were longer. Why is just days and nights that mean different things? Maybe when the Book said "light", it meant "girls in madras shorts" or "spumoni".

Re:Figurative or literal? (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678288)

More appropriately, what the hell is a "day" in the context of a formless void?

Re:Figurative or literal? (1)

Quattro Vezina (714892) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678446)

Or how the hell can there be light before any stars (or other luminous objects) are created?

Re:Figurative or literal? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678034)

"After about a microsecond, it had cooled enough for protons and neutrons to form. Three minutes later (yes, just three minutes) it had cooled enough for protons and neutrons to stick together."


Non sense. Who was measuring time and which reference frame was he using?

If he was moving close to the speed of ligth with respect to those protons and neutrons it could take several million years for neutrons and protons to form. And that scenario is very likely since at the beggining there was a big bang, with matter being thrown in opposite directions.

Re:Figurative or literal? (2, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678048)

I believe that at that point the time dimension(if you will) as already around. So yes LITERAL microseconds.

Re:Figurative or literal? (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678154)

Wooosh

There is no contradiction. (5, Informative)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677918)

It is simultaneously 13.73 billion years and 6000 years old, depending on your frame of reference. As we know, time dilation means that a spaceship flying for a year at a high enough speed could return to Earth only to find that the crew's families have been dead for a thousand years due to local time passing at different rates for objects moving at different speeds. For this reason, a photon moves at the speed of light no matter how fast you are moving relative to that photon. Similarly, from our frame of reference inside the Universe, 13.73 billion years have elapsed. From another frame of reference, it is 6000 years old and not a minute more. Both measurements are perfectly valid and correct.

Re:There is no contradiction. (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678016)

And when you can get a ship traveling sufficient close to C for this to be the case, let us know.

Re:There is no contradiction. (4, Funny)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678230)

I have this rowboat outside called the Poseidon. I drop a C compiler CD-ROM into the water next to it and I'm in a ship traveling close to C. Heck, I can travel close to C++ for that matter.

Re:There is no contradiction. (4, Funny)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678030)

So... you've proved that Photons are Christian?

Re:There is no contradiction. (4, Funny)

theskipper (461997) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678116)

Only if they've "seen the light".

Re:There is no contradiction. (1)

CrazyTalk (662055) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678254)

They could also be Jewish, you insensitive clod.

Re:There is no contradiction. (1, Funny)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678334)

You're never going to see a Jewish person moving THAT fast...

Re:There is no contradiction. (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678462)

No - he has merely shown that if we ignore GR and take all these fundamentalist nutters and load them onto the B ark and accelerate it to 0.99999999999990452c they will actually be correct and the universe will have been created 6,000 years ago in their frame of reference and then we can all be happy...although perhaps for slightly different reasons.

Re:There is no contradiction. (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678180)

For an observer to have only perceived 6000 years since the formation of the universe, they would have to have been moving at 99.99999999999% of c since the universe began.

Re:There is a contradiction. (1)

Enrique1218 (603187) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678492)

I don't think the Bible writers were flying on a spaceship at near the speed of light. The events that occurred in the Bible would of have to occur on something moving near the speed of light and not Earth. However, obviously the book was written here in the same reference frame as you and I and those telescopes exist. Thus, they are wrong and the theologians are wrong. Why is it hard for people to believe that modern scientists know more about the universe than a bunch goat-herders roaming in the desert?

How's that one end again? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677922)

How is it that a flat spacetime terminates again? Is that the one that goes off into timelike infinity and eventually has the protons break down?

-1 CUNT RAG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22677924)

ThX FoR AuToMaTiCaLlY MoDdInG ThIs DoWn

How flat is the universe? (5, Funny)

lpangelrob (714473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677954)

We now know that the universe is flat with only a 2% margin of error.

This would make a good bar bet - which is flatter, the universe, or Kansas? [guardian.co.uk]

Today? (1)

khendron (225184) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677966)

Happy 13,730,000,000 billionth Universe!

Sorry I didn't get you anything.

Re:Today? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678238)

The universe already has everything. What else are you going to get it?

Re:Today? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678450)

Where exactly would you get something that the Universe doesn't already have?

Just so everyone knows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22677988)

Dr. Phil Plait is a sex god.

The Answers Were Already There! (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22677998)

The age of the universe is now known to unprecedented accuracy: 13.73 billion years old, +/- 120 million. Spacetime is flat to within a 2% error margin. And ordinary matter and energy account for only 4.62% of the universe's total. Plait's comment on the age result: 'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'"
This was already spelled out in the bible, the answers are all there. Recall that the number of towns and villages in Joshua [ibs.org] concatenated with the number of sons Abraham's brother had [ibs.org] concatenated with how many days old Isaac was when he was circumcised [ibs.org] concatenated with the number of sons Noah had [ibs.org] concatenated with Jesus' age when he died is (by no mere coincidence) 2288333 1/3! Which proves that one year to God is like 2,288,333 and 1/3 years to humans.

Do the math, the earth really is 6,000 god years x 2288333 1/3 human yr/god yr = 13.73 billion human years old!

It all fits, the answers were already right before your eyes in the good book. Who needs a scientician or "NASA" to tell us this when we already know it?!

Insightful? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678094)

that was bloody funny as hell. Both extinguishing the 6000 year myth, and pointing at how any text can be twisted to find patterns.

Re:The Answers Were Already There! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678440)

...concatenated with Jesus' age when he died is (by no mere coincidence) 2288333 1/3!
Whoa! Hold on there, eldavojohn! How do you know God does math in Base 10?

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678038)

The universe was created 6000 years ago to look like it had been in existence for 13.73 billion plus/minus 120 million minus 6000 years old.

Creating it to look a lot like the Big Bang took place sure wasn't easy.

Yeah but... (2, Funny)

metalpres (1075199) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678040)

what was there 13.74 billion years ago? There could not have been nothing, something had to exist. You cant be making something out of nothing at all... except love of course (rimshot).

Re:Yeah but... (1)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678156)

what was there 13.74 billion years ago?

Your very own creative design of course.

Re:Yeah but... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678190)

"...something had to exist. "

says who?

"You cant be making something out of nothing at all"
Not with the laws of our universe, no.

Re:Yeah but... (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678208)

Naw, then you're making something out of wedlock. (ba-dum ching)

13.73 Billion Years Old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678044)

That's a hell of a lot of candles!

Gee (0, Troll)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678060)

I wish I could use a single measurement like microwave radiation to tell me that nothing at all existed before 13.73 billion years ago. I wish I could make that leap of logic to say that because of this one measurement we know that this was the beginning of all things. I mean, hey, this measurement points us towards an obvious single point in time... so that point in time must be the first point of all points, because this measurement proves it. Without a doubt.

Yea, I wish I could make that statement. But unfortunately that would be unreasonable. Because even though I can measure background radiation, and that radiation points to a single point in the past, I honestly cannot say for sure that this disproves the possibility of anything coming before.

Re:Gee (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678140)

Sure, there may have been "something before" but it wasn't 'our' universe. Perhaps it was 11-13 unstable dimensions, perhaps it was a one dimensional universe. But either of them would not me like ours in any fathomable way.

You say 'leap of logic' like this is the only data point. I hope that's not the case.

*sigh* (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678114)

Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.

I wish we could get to the point where we don't give these people credibility via recognition. People don't feel the need to mention the Flat Earth Theory whenever the subject of the round earth comes up.

I know the Evolution Deniers / Young Earthers are more vocal than the Flat Earthers these days, so it's probably not possible. I think legislative insanity should be fought vehemently. But doing this everyday mocking just plants the idea in people's minds that there is some debate, both with equally valid viewpoints.

One of the best ways to combat crazyness is to ignore it. We have very few Nazis in the United States because they are ignored as lunatics. Europe has a lot of them because they are banned. School shootings are caused by the media publicity of past school shootings. Holocaust denial is done because it gets attention. And similarly, evolution denial is fueled because of the controversy. Some people just want to believe the opposite of the mainstream.

The best way to put evolution denial and young earth insanity in the grave is to ignore it, unless it raises its head and tries for force its views down the throats of children.

Re:*sigh* (2, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678486)

Yea, but the reason the Nazi's got so nasty in the first place is because no one was willing to stand up to them.

Leave them their hysteria, leave them their irrationality, but don't allow their brainless assertions to go unanswered. I think this sort of thing is precisely the way to deal with them; humor, fact, and dispassion. Scientific fact stands on it's own, and has no need of faith or belief...If they want to continue to try and pretend that the evidence that sits right before their eyes is false, let them. But don't fail to point out their shortcomings where it is appropriate.

Corrolary (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678128)

'Some people might say it doesn't look a day over 6000 years. They're wrong.'

Correspondingly, some people might say that their off-topic sarcastic quips will matter in 6000 years. Likewise, they're wrong.

Such quips being a subset of their thoughts, all of which will be nicely irrelevant, along with all other likeminded people and all their thoughts, by then, naturally.

I now propose a toast to Natural Selection.

References on underlying postuate? (3, Interesting)

kbonin (58917) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678166)

The assertions in the article are derived from the following postulate:

If the universe were open, the brightest microwave background fluctuations (or "spots") would be about half a degree across. If the universe were flat, the spots would be about 1 degree across. While if the universe were closed, the brightest spots would be about 1.5 degrees across.

I've heard these sweeping statements before, can anyone point out a reasonably accessible proof that overcomes basic statistical counterarguments? Basic common sense here - I can infer some interesting characteristics about gravity by splashing paint on my wall and studying the results from across the room, but I don't really have enough data to overcome a host of other contributing factors...

You know you spend too much time online when... (1)

NotFamousYet (937650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678212)

you read "13.37 Billion Years Old".

What Does It Look Like? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678228)

Is there a picture somewhere of what the Universe looks like at its largest scale?

Preferably a zoomable model, though "zooming" across the scales of 13.73Bly would take quite a while, if you're actually watching the scenery pass.

FWIW, Celestia (and Google Earth) don't include scales anywhere near the largest one.

Re:What Does It Look Like? (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678340)

The results in this story are based on a picture of the cosmic background radiation throughout the universe at its largest scale. That picture may be found in the NASA link in the story summary. Galaxies are invisibly small at this scale.

Space, not spacetime (4, Insightful)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678274)

"Spacetime is flat to within a 2% error margin."

No, space is flat to within 2% (on cosmological scales, according to WMAP Year 5). Spacetime is curved, as per general relativity.

14 billion years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678318)

... yes, but what was 14 or 15 billion years ago? Just Nothing?

Re:14 billion years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678452)

-1?
Is this the answer to the question, hidden in the Slashdot Score?
That's what was 14 billion years ago, -1?

Goldilocks and the three cosmological clocks (4, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678320)

Before WMAP, the other two age indicators gave contadictory ages of the universe. The Hubble expansion constant suggested a young age 10 B.Y., though there was a wide error range depending on the distance measure.
Low-metal stars in globular clusters are thought to be the universe's oldest and from nuclear-synthesis physics thought to be 15 B.Y. The disagreement among the two clocks was so bad for a while, some astronomers thought the big-bang hypothesis was flawed.
The third and most recent clock - spatial power spectrum of the background microwave radiation- gives a percise age within the error range of the other two ages. Further observations of the other two clocks seem to be converging to this one. Astromenrs are now happy, kissing and making up.

Young Earth Creationists vs. Scientists. (0, Flamebait)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678384)

I'm not a Young Earth Creationist. I feel that a day for God is a different length of time than a day for man, and it is Biblically based. Also, how long is a day when the sun isn't created yet? The only conflict with science and the Bible that I see with a long day theory is that birds came on the scene before dinosaurs.

God is real. I wouldn't bother caring about the Christianity vs. Science debate if there was. The key is that there should be no debate because they fit together fine. Still, some Christians don't want to learn science, and some Scientists don't want to learn Christianity. Not everyone in the world needs to be a scientist because there are other jobs available. Everyone needs to be a Christian because it is the only way to be right with God. So the Christian who rebels against science is wrong, and so is the Scientist who rebels against Jesus.

One glaring problem with this calculation (4, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678392)

The universe was born on February 29 - so it's really just a bit over 3 billion years old.

Maybe... (1)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678402)

But until we had geologic evidence that showed otherwise, we always thought that magnetic North was up. For all we know, we're just 13.73 billion years into the current universal cycle.

I reiterate (1, Insightful)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678424)

A nice theory, but considering we're struggling with how to send a human being to Mars, juggling the number of stars in the MilkyWay - current estimates peg it around 400 billion -- and that one light year = 5,8 trillion miles, and our galaxy is 100,000 light years across, I think it's a bit outrageous to think we can so closely estimate the age of the universe or its shape/expansion rate. I have no problem with guessing based on current scientific models, just so long as that's what they call it -- an educated guess. I'm fond of what Tom Edison said: "We don't know a millionth of one percent about anything."

Personally, I'd rather see our scientific dollars spent closer to home.

Re:I reiterate (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678488)

A nice theory, but considering we're struggling with how to send a human being to Mars, juggling the number of stars in the MilkyWay - current estimates peg it around 400 billion -- and that one light year = 5,8 trillion miles, and our galaxy is 100,000 light years across, I think it's a bit outrageous to think we can so closely estimate the age of the universe or its shape/expansion rate. I have no problem with guessing based on current scientific models, just so long as that's what they call it -- an educated guess. I'm fond of what Tom Edison said: "We don't know a millionth of one percent about anything."

Personally, I'd rather see our scientific dollars spent closer to home./blockquote?

Are you in some sort of contest to see how many non-sequiturs you can load into a single paragraph?

Good grief but Slashdot sure invites some of the sloppiest thinking around.

The universe is NOT 13.73 years old! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22678438)

It is 13.37 years old.

Whoever said the universe wasn't 1337?

The universe is flat? (1)

YourMotherCalled (888364) | more than 6 years ago | (#22678444)

How flat is "flat"? I mean, if the universe were "flat" wouldn't we just see one intensely white line in the night sky?
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