3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Interestingly off-beat description of cosmology.,
This review is from: The Big Bang Never Happened/a Startling Refutation of the Dominant Theory of the Origin of the Universe (Hardcover)Lerner is a plasma physicist and cosmologist who holds to a theory broadly known as "plasma cosmology", put forward by a Swedish physicist and Nobel Laureate, Hannes Alven. One of the common conclusions of plasma cosmology is that the universe did not begin in a "big bang". Many other physicists argue that this is wrong, and that current research has vindicated the big bang theory. However, there are still a few lingering "plasma cosmologists" out there among the academics, as a quick internet search will confirm.
As far as I, a complete layman, can tell from this book, Lerner and the plasma cosmologists believe:
- electrical currents pass well through "empty" interstellar and intergalactic space. This much appears to be confirmed now by experiment, and be widely accepted.
- these electrical currents are as important as gravitational fields, or often more important, in the formation and inter-connection of stars and other bodies in outer space. This is still contentious.
From the latter point, Lerner makes some of the conclusions and hypotheses, which may be accepted by other plasma cosmologists:
- there is no reason to believe there is any "dark matter" or "dark energy". Electrical and magnetic phenomena can explain all the supposed gravitational anomalies we observe in space.
- the "background radiation" is probably caused by radio waves scattered by electrons, by absorption and re-emission in a different direction.
- there was no "big bang", and if the local area of the universe we inhabit is expanding, there are various possible reasons, of which the hypothesized expanding bubble of 4-dimensional space-time is not necessarily the most plausible.
- the universe is far older than the "big bang" theory suggests, and probably of infinite duration.
As such, his theory is all quite interesting, and quite novel. The details get quite technical, especially since electicity is now, shamefully, less well-taught than quantum mechanics and relativity. At least, since I personally know little of the physics of electricity, it is hard to form a strong opinion about the most technical parts of the book.
Lerner goes on to make further observations: especially that "big bang" theory is becoming like a new religious orthodoxy, hampering the progress of science and knowledge. He suggests that much of the justification for the "big bang" theory is the motivation to give some support to a "creationist" religious argument and so the "big bang" will assist a religious totalitarianism to hold back progress and human freedom. This all smacks somewhat of an ad hominem attack on his opponents, and I suspect he may have been goaded into it by some ad hominem attacks on his views. However, it tends to diminish the strength of his argument, which, like all scientific arguments, should really stand and fall on the strength of the evidence. Of course, he argues eloquently that the evidence supports him, but that in itself should be enough to for him to say.
Also, like most arguments finding tenuous links between very different things, it is certainly possible to make it cut two ways. For example, one could argue that Genesis (for example) does not describe a "big bang" creation ex nihilo, but rather the shaping of chaos into form, rather like Lerner suggests occurred with the forming of electrical plasma fields, which coalesced into the visible stars and planets.
As an outsider, I am not really competent to decide on the virtues of Lerner's views compared to those of the standard "big bang" cosmology. His view of the universe is certainly interesting, and was fun to read. His views on the relationship of science and social progress were also interesting, in the "chat to an interesting and very bright dude down in the pub" kind of way. This book is not an academic exposition of the science of plasma cosmology. However, it is an enjoyable account of what the arguments are all about, and the kind of emotions and feelings that are raised in the discussion, albeit from a partisan standpoint.