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Name: John Z.
Status: educator
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001-2002


Question:
Recent discoveries suggest the cosmic background radiation is 'hotter' in one direction and 'cooler' in the opposite direction. the interpretation I read is that this is due to the earth's motion.

Does that establish an absolute frame of reference for the universe? (doesn't this contradict the theory of relativity?)


Replies:
I heard that the radio frequency background is "lumpy", I have not heard that it was hotter in one direction than some other. I do not even know how it would be possible to establish and absolute direction, since "direction" implies "with respect to some frame of reference". To my knowledge the theory of relativity is still alive and well.

A philosophical point -- Even if there were such a discovery, the proponents would have to come up with an explanation, not only for that particular observation, but also an explanation for all of the very numerous phenomena that the theory of relativity correctly explained and all the observations that the theory of relativity predicted even prior to the experiment being done.

A physical theory is different from a mathematical theorem. A mathematical theorem can be proven false (or incomplete) by showing a single valid example where the conclusion does not follow (assuming the logic is proper) from the postulates. A physical theory continues to gain validity as its predictions are verified by increasingly diverse and accurate observations. The theory of relativity has a pretty good track record.

Vince Calder



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