[ExI] Dark doubts

Gregory Jones spike66 at att.net
Thu Jun 17 21:20:46 UTC 2010

--- On Thu, 6/17/10, Gregory Jones <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
The astro-physics community didn't really even start getting really serious about that until about 1991 (after the launch and data came back from the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite COBE (another Lockheed Martin product (for which the CG and balance metrology effort was performed by your humble servant.)))... spike
Oops I was wrong about the date, it was about Spring of 1992, about late April or May (because it was after Yugoslavian independence which was in mid April 1992) when the COBE data was announced.  I started looking to get back into the metrology biz when I heard it.
We all have moments in our lives we remember with sparkling crystal clarity.  Most of these are actually negative events: grandma calls telling you grandpa has passed away, you get bad news from the medics, you have an accident, etc, but sometimes these moments are really good positive events.  The COBE results were one of those crystaling moments.  That rocked my world in 1992.
My friend at Lockheed was Wayne Brown, PhD in astrophysics, smart as all hell, Anders Sandberg smart, super focused guy, but really nice, kind and gentle at the same time, gay but never suggestive or aggressive, quiet, modest and good.  A few weeks before, he and I were at lunch talking about the cosmic background radiation.  I argued that there was a good chance it would be well below the measurement threshold of COBE; we wouldn't really get any useful data other than an upper limit.  I offered my intuitive handwaving arguments of why I thought so, based on scaling of an explosion all the way up to big bang scale.
But Wayne argued to the contrary, that the anisotropy could be into the measurable range, and he gave his reasons, but with actual equations and reasoning.  Wayne was so good about that, thinking clearly, treating me with respect, like I was in his league, like I was his equal.  Do let me assure you I wasn't in his league, not even in his division.  But that was his way.  Flattering it was.
Spring 1992, a few weeks after that lunch, Wayne popped into my office with "Spiiiiike!  The COBE results are back and YOOOOOU were wrong pal!  So was I.  But yoooou were more wrong than I was!"
One couldn't have made Wayne happier if one had handed him ten thousand dollars.  Seldom have I been happier about being wrong. 
In retrospect of 18 years, I am still amazed that the background anisotropy is as high as it is, and I am still unable write you an equation to explain why I am astounded.  Astronomy is that way, filled to overflowing with amaaaaazing truth.
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