On Big Bangs and Little (WTC) Bangs
Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.
Some of the arguments about what properties a worthy model must have are not unique to this thread. There is a significant dissent amongst physicists to the Big Bang theory, and at least 300 scientists have formed the "Alternative Cosmology Group".
The following reference is from a summary paper on presentations in the First Crisis in Cosmology Conference
, helf in 2005. (See http://www.ptep-online.com/index_files/2005/PP-03-03.PDF
We read (p. 2)
Professor Mike Disney of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University calls a spade a spade. He has created and intersting benchmark for the evaluation of scientific models - he compares the number of free parameters in a theory with the number of independent measurements, and set an arbitrary minimum of +3 for the excess of measurments over free parameters to indicate that the theory is empirically viable. He ran through the exercise for th Big Bang model, and arrived at a figure of -3 (17 free parameters against 14 measured.) He therefore argued that the there is little statistical significance in the good fits claimed by Big Bang cosmologists since the surfeit of free parameters can easily mould new data to fit a desired conclusion. Quote: "The study of some 60 cultures, going back 12,000 years, show that, like it or not, we will always have a cosmology, and there hav always been more free parameters than independent measurements. The best model is a compromise between parsimony (Occam's razor) and goodness-of-fit".
Frankly, I don't think there is
a generally agreed on notion as to how much measurements should exceed free parameters (otherwise, Disney would have used that, I should think), and I doubt that that will be the end of the story, anyways.
However, if we adopt Disney's +3 value as a convention (call it "+3 significance"), then we can look at WTC collapse papers and and ask if they satisfy this criteria.
Before we do that, let's see if a +3 convention makes any sense.
For 1 dimension spring problem, if we statically measure the mass and spring constant, and dynamically measure the displacement and time, I think everybody would agree that the theoretical solution, incorporating Newton's laws of motion, will indeed be verified. (And we are not being lucky, so to speak.)
In this case, we have "+4 significance".
Furthermore, suppose we don't measure the spring constant k, but instead consider it a free parameter. In this "+3 significance" case, I'm sure most physicists would agree that we can simultaneously accurately determine k, as well as verify that our Newtonian analysis is correct.
Now, if we measure neither k nor the mass m, will our "+2 significance" experiment allow us to determine k and m? Of course not.
Since Sum(F) = -kx + mg = ma if we scale k and m by the same factor, then the dynamic behavior of the system will be the same.
In the "little Bang", WTC model of Greening, E1 is implicitly treated as a measurable. (An estimate, to be sure, but not one which is much in doubt.) However I claim that it is nothing of the sort. Greening's E1 derives from Bazant and Zhou's estimates, and I don't believe that quasi-static buckling energies, which completely ignore dynamic effects ala Calladine and English*, can be taken seriously.
(One could make a similar criticism regarding the mass of the top block, however I believe that such criticism is of less significance.)
The net/net is that, even granting a 1 dimensional treatment, the doubtfulness of E1 gives us a "+2 significance", as (analogously to a 1-d spring problem) we must decrease our measurables count by 1 at the same time
increasing our free parameters count by 1.
In other words, such simple models cannot be considered as capable of explaining anything, unless you can nail down the status of E1. If the proponents of these simple models really believe in their conclusions, then they should be eager to nail down the status of E1, instead of telling us that they have solved the problem, and that no further investigation is necessary.
* Neu-Fonze has recently cited papers which mention flexural waves, or some such, but has not told us how this quantitatively relates to either E1 or Calladine and English.