Re: necessity of mental memes

From: Wade T. Smith (
Date: Sat Jan 26 2002 - 20:33:17 GMT

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    Subject: Re: necessity of mental memes
    Date: Sat, 26 Jan 2002 15:33:17 -0500
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    From: "Wade T. Smith" <>
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    Hi Dace -

    >It's common knowledge among physicists, astronomers, cosmologists, etc.,
    >that light didn't appear until 300,00 years after the big bang
    >(though I recently saw this figure upped to 400,000,
    >unfortunately without any explanation for the revised figure).

    The cosmic background radiation that we can detect, yes, began at that
    time. It is a space-time boundary caused by the scattering qualities of
    photons and the nature of the early universe. It's not that light
    (photons) was not there, but that it was undetectable.

    - Wade

    The behavior of CMB photons moving through the early universe is
    analogous to the propagation of optical light through the Earth's
    atmosphere. Water droplets in a cloud are very effective at scattering
    light, while optical light moves freely through clear air. Thus, on a
    cloudy day, we can look through the air out towards the clouds, but can
    not see through the opaque clouds. Cosmologists studying the cosmic
    microwave background radiation can look through much of the universe back
    to when it was opaque: a view back to 400,000 years after the Big Bang.
    This "wall of light" is called the surface of last scattering since it
    was the last time most of the CMB photons directly scattered off of
    matter. When we make maps of the temperature of the CMB, we are mapping
    this surface of last scattering.

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