# Seeing Red

Recently I came across a book called Seeing Red by H. Arp.
The book questions the fundamental ideas in the Big Bang Cosmology.
The basic idea that is questioned is that the Distance-redshift relation; that
is the more redshift and object has more distant it is from us. This idea forms
the bedrock on which the Big Bang Theory rests. So questioning this idea is out
of question for the Big Bang theorists. But even when an observation occurs which
does not confirm these ideas, it is so to speak, swept under the carpet, literally. When
the data confirms the beliefs that they hold; namely the theory; then the instrument is
working fine, when it does not, it is noise; the instrument is faulty.

Also it points out in the red tapism in the scientific community, where one follows
the leader or gets isolated, as  is the case with Arp. The opaqueness in the peer review’
process is higlighted by numerous examples which arp cites in his interactions with
editors and referees for the prestigious journals in Astronomy. The very value of democratic
process in science is under question, so are the naive ideas of Popper who thought that scientists
always try to falsify their own theories. Here it seems it is the opposite case, with scientists
trying to suppress the observations which contradict with their own pet theories, by all
possible means, most of them un-ethical for a scientist, at least in theory. Along with the
journals, the conferences are also exposed, in which only the already set theories are entertained
with no data which questions the popular theories are allowed to be shown, which is the very
spirit of science. When every thing else fails the integrity of the person is under question.

The last chapter is a must read for all students of science.
Here are some of the quotes from the text:

Quotes from Seeing Red

**
09
“No matter how conclusive the evidence, we have the power to
minimize and suppress it.”

12
Scientists, particularly at the most prestigious institutions, regularly suppress and ridicule findings
which contradict their current theories and assumptions.

The average astronomer, however, would look at them and start to
argue that they must be accidental, because astronomers now feel
compelled to fit the observations to the theory and not vice versa.

13
But no matter how intimidatingly complex the calculation, no
matter how small the probability of accident may be, the
calculation does not tell you whether the result is true or not. In
fact, no matter how significant the number is, scientists won’t
believe if they don’t want to.

14
A reasonable response would be to notice such a case and say,
“If I see a few more cases like this I will have to believe it is
real.” Most astronomers say, “This violates proven physics
[i.e. their assumptions] and therefore must be invalid. After all,
no matter how improbable, it is only one case.”

17
The paper was also testimony to the fact that sensible analysis
of observations was being blocked and ignored, while the high
profile journals were submerged with a flood of elaborations of
incorrect assumptions which prevented anyone from remembering
anything important for more than a few years.

21

The establishment always confuses data with theories.

Clearly, the main purpose of these “review of the theory talks” was
to fix firmly in everyone’s mind what the party line was so that all
observations could be interpreted properly.

23

Shortly thereafter, the Space Telescope Science Institute
announced it was suspending the amateur program because it was “too
great a strain on its expert personnel.”

Professionals start out with a theory and only see those details
which can be interpreted in terms of that theory.

The reason the point is so sensitive is that the influential people
in the field know what the observations portend, but they are too
deeply committed to go back. The result will surely be to inexorably
push academic science toward a position akin to that of the medieval
church. But if that is the evolutionarily necessary solution, then
perhaps we should hasten the process of replacing the present system
with a more effective mode of doing science.

25

“Well I know you can’t be right, but I will help you where I can.”

36

Martin Elvis from the Cambridge Center for Astrophysics (CFA)
jumped up and said, “That’s noise.” I argued that you could see that
it was not noise.

75

One thing has been accomplished, though. I now understand what
should be called the statistics of nihilism. It can be reduced to a
very simple axiom: “No matter how many times something new has been
observed, it cannot be believed until it has been observed again.” I
have also reduced my attitude toward this form of statistics to an
enough.”

91

“If you are wrong it doesn’t make any difference, if you are right it
is enormously important.”

175

I feel very strongly about what happened and I want to make my
position clear: Astrophysical Journal Letters is the normal journal
for publishing new observations from the Hubble Space Telescope. The
telescope cost billions of dollars of public funds. The vast
majority of page charges which pay for the publication of the
journal come from government supported contracts. The overriding,
first directive of the editor is to communicate important new
astronomical results. If the editorial process violates its primary
responsibility, it misuses public funds.

261

But the fatal flaw, it seems to me, is that people who are
interested in power are spurred by emotions which interfere with
their reason.

# Heaven and Hell

Circle Limit IV
Heaven and Hell

by M C Escher

Yesterday I have put up Escher’s Circle Limit IV – Heaven and Hell on my new desk. The Circle Limit series of drawings was drawn by Escher are essentially what are known as his hyperbolic tesselations. The new computer table that I have got has an odd shape. On one end the side is circular and it smoothly metamorphises into rectangle on the other side. Though it is not at all comparable to what Escher has accomplished, I feel bad even when I use the word metamorphosis for this, but I have not found anything better. The table is designed for use with a desktop. So it has sections for different parts of the desktop like the monitor, CPU keyboard etc.
Anyways the main point that I want to tell is that the table at one end is circular. Since I had put Escher’s Three World on another table, I thought it would be a good idea to use a ciruclar print of Escher for this part of the table. Of all the prints I had, which I had taken when I had at my disposal A3 sized printers, the one which fitted the purpose seemed to be Circle Limit IV – Heaven and Hell.

Let us see what Escher himself has to say about this series of works viz. The Circle Limits:

So far four examples have been shown with points as limits of infinite smallness. A diminution in the size of the figures progressing in the opposite direction, i.e. from within outwards, leads to more satisfying results. The limit is no longer a point, but a line which border’s the whole complex and gives it a logical boundary. In this way one creates, as it were, a universe, a geometrical enclosure. If the progressive reduction in size radiates in all directions at an equal rate, then the limit becomes a circle. [1]

And he says this about Heaven and Hell:

CIRCLE LIMIT IV, (Heaven and Hell)
Here also we have the components diminishing in size as they move outwards. The six largest (three white angels and three black devils) are arranged about the centre and radiate from it. The disc is divided into six sections in which, turn and turn about, the angels on a black background and then the devils on a white one, gain the upper hand. in this way, heaven and hell change place six times. In the intermediate, “earthly” stages, they are equivalent. [1]

Like most of Escher’s drawings this one also takes you to a different world. A world which is far away from the reality. A world of mathematics. A world of abstraction. But then as always we can make connections between this abstract world and the real world. The connections that we can make are dependent on the world view that we have. Some people fail to make the connection. They cannot see’.

The Circle Limit series is what brought Escher to the eyes of the mathematicians. H. S. M. Coxeter used Circle Limit II as an illustration in his article on hyperbolic tesselations. Since then the other works of Escher have been examined by the mathematicians, and we find that very deep and fundamental ideaso of mathematics are embedded in them. As to how Escher did it is amazing. The kind of clear insight that Escher exhibits in his artwork is astounding. He could visualize the mathematical transformations in his head and then transform them onto the artwork he was working with. Escher has said

I have brought to light only one percent of what I have seen in the darkness. [2]

This must be certainly true, as most of his artwork is nowhere close to what we see in the light. I rate the artwork of Escher as greater than that of the renessaince artist’s as they had just beautifully drawn what one could “see.” But with Escher we go a step beyond, imagination takes the control. What interests me in Escher is that he can make you imagine the unimaginable. What you know is not possible is demonstrated just in front of your eyes. Logic is discarded. Rather it is kept in the basement which is upstairs for Escher.

Yesterday you start to believe what you thought was impossible tommorow.

The way different things merge for Escher is just unparalled in the work of other artists. What has now become known as “Escheresque” is just the typical of his style. Lot of later artists are influenced by the works of Escher, I have found one Istvaan Orosz particulary good. There are others who are equally good but I don’t remember their names now….

Coming back to Heaven and Hell. The main artwork is in a woodcut format in black and white. For me this is a kind of dyad which represents the world. The idea of two opposing forces one termed to be evil and the other good are all permeating in the Universe. Here also the bat-devils and the angels are the representative of the same. There is no part of the Universe where these two are not present. It might seem that somewhere far out there there is nothing, but it is not so. Even there, the design is the same, it is just too far for us to see. This is what harmony in the universe is about. It is the same everywhere, when you have a broad enough world-view. The cosmologists say that the Universe is homogenous and isotropic, if you choose to “see” it at the right scale. The cosmologists often use Heaven and Hell to illustrate this point. For me introduction to Escher came in a talk by a cosmologist who used The Waterfall to illustrate the idea of a perpetual motion machine. Since then I have become addicted to Escher, as has everybody else who has some sense of imagination. For those who cannot appreciate Escher, I can just pity at their miserable imagination.

References:

[1] The Graphic Work of M C Escher by M C Escher
Ballantine 1975, ISBN 345246780595

[2] M. C. Escher (Icons) by Julius Wiedemann (Editor)
Taschen 2006, ISBN 3822838691