Not Quite Science
My personal shortlist of the most adorable misconceptions from the fringes of human comprehension
Medium is practically the only social media site I frequent. Sometimes I’m delighted to learn interesting things I didn’t know before; sometimes I’m left shaking my head at the trite nonsense that apparently passes for discourse for so many. Occasionally I find myself smiling wryly at earnest articles written by individuals who clearly believe they are in possession of genius but who in reality are sadly on the wrong side of the Gaussian distribution of IQ scores.
What follows is a collection of my favorite scientific misconceptions authored by poor souls who stand forever as exemplars of Pope’s axiom “a little learning is a dangerous thing.”
Ever since Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, it’s been apparent that our universe is expanding (even though, ironically, Einstein refused to accept this inevitable outcome of his calculations and introduced a “cosmological constant” to result in a static universe; a decision he later called “my greatest blunder.”). Although measurements fail to agree on the precise rate of expansion, it’s clear that the universe is indeed expanding and has been doing so since the so-called Big Bang around 13.8 billion years ago.
This fact led one undiscovered genius to conclude the following: our expanding universe is exactly like a rubber band being stretched. Therefore, there must be something outside the universe pulling on it to stretch it. As the universe is very big this means whatever is pulling it must be even bigger. Logically if we humans have to pull on an elastic band with our hands to stretch it, it follows that a god must be pulling the universe with his very big hands. And so the expansion of the universe is proof that a god exists.
Or if not a god, then at least some enormous extra-dimensional alien, maybe an alien kid who’s bored and consequently distracting himself with a game of stretch-the-universe until it snaps or it’s time for his dinner. Let’s hope for our own sake that dinnertime is a long way off.