On Thursday, March 3rd, I had the chance to hear a lecture by John Dobson, founder of the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers Association, and all around cantankerous cosmologist, sponsored by the Minnesota Astronomical Society. His lecture was quite a trip, and well worth driving around the MN State High School Hockey Championship crowds filling the streets of downtown St. Paul.
Dobson is 89 years old yet quite spry, and has spent most of his life helping people discover the wonders of astronomy and the night sky.
He is also a former Vedanta monk who was asked to leave his order for doing astronomy rather than the sanctioned holy work.
His "Bang Free Cosmology" refers to his contention that Big Bang theory is a complete waste of effort, while his own "theory" seems rather short of proof and long on the supernatural explanation. He's cadgy about mentioning "god" or "gods" and instead refers to the Sanskrit physicists from 4,000 years ago as being on the right track.
I wasn't convinced of much, primarily becasue his major rhetorical device was to SHOUT VERY LOUDLY when he was trying to help us break through to his version of numerous theoretical positions. Usually he just played very fast and loose with his numbers and his formulas. I'd have preferred if he had talked more about telescope building. Oh well.
Most of the Minnesota Astronomical Society membership is a bit more sophisiticated than what he seemed to imply, so I'm not sure that his theory convinced anyone.
But I wouldn't have missed seeing the telescope maker whose name graces one of the most popular telescope designs of the last 30 years. It was fun.