Re: memetics-digest V1 #914

From: John Croft (
Date: Fri Feb 01 2002 - 15:47:29 GMT

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    You asked

    > > It would be like being on the inside of a bright
    > > lightfilled fog, coming at you at every
    > > wavelength. Everything is there. Nothing is "not
    > > there".
    > So you're saying it would have been extremely bright
    > in there.

    Yes, exactly.

    > How could the primordial universe have been bright
    > at the same time it was opaque? If something is
    > opaque, then nothing can be seen in it. It's the
    > precise opposite of brightness. Not just dim but
    > all the way black.

    Not necessarily, a fog is opaque. If you can imagine
    a very bright fog that is not a bad analogy. I
    understand the meaning of opaque has no colour
    (something can be any colour AND opaque). The oposite
    of opaque is not bright, but transparent. Opaque does
    not not imply black - just an inability to see through
    it to the other side (eg a dirty glass is opaque - but
    that "dirt" may be milk (which is white)).

    I wrote
    > > electrons were bound around the nuclei to make
    > > atoms, and light was free to travel, uninterupted
    > > from the "edge" to the COBE observer

    Ted replied
    > If photons were unable to travel in the early
    > universe, how could they have possessed *any*
    > wavelength, much less "every wavelength," as you
    > assert?

    Photons travelled freely between electrons, absorbed
    and emitted over and over again. Only after 300,000
    years did the elctrons settle into stable orbits
    around atoms, freeing photons to move unimpededly from
    that time to now. Ted it is a little like the way in
    which we see the sky as blue. Solar photons are
    scattered - absorbed and re-emitted - by dust
    particles in the atmosphere. It is this that gives
    our sky its blue colour. (Because white light is
    absorbed and blue light is re-emitted).

    Now imagine this occurring not just for white and
    blue, but for all colours, up to wavelengths equal to
    the diameter of the Universe, and you have the
    principle of the Big Bang at this epoch.

    > How can you use the term "light" or even radiation
    > to describe a collection of photons bound to
    > electrons and therefore unable to strike them from a
    > distance and illuminate them? The whole proposition
    > of light has been thrown out the window. Nothing is
    > left of the traditional meaning of the term.

    Yes it has, Ted. We see the sun. The solar
    photosphere is poduced not by light striking the
    surface of the sun and thereby illuminating it. We
    see the surface of the sun due to the emission of
    photons as a result of ionisation of atoms (above
    5,700 degrees). We use the conventional term "light"
    to describe this - so - equally with the Big Bang.

    > It's not light. It's just photons. It's the
    > particles which, when assembled, will constitute
    > light. To say an unformed set of photons
    > constitutes light is like saying a stack of bricks
    > is a house.

    Hmmm. Ted, a single photon is "light" - it can be
    destinguisged as such, even to the human eye. One
    does not need to assemble photons in any fashion to
    have light. They are light. Pure and simple, just as
    bricks are bricks.

    Hope this helps


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