Wolfram Alpha and the Principle of Astrogeometry

Regular readers of this blog (both of them) may remember the basically tedious and offensive but occasionally (accidentally) hilarious troll who keeps attempting to post comments like this:

I thought you might like to see the result of feeding the expression found in the above rant into Wolfram Alpha:

This is exactly the expression described above but produces nothing like the claimed value of the Hubble constant, and it’s in the wrong units too.

Update for the benefit of the extremely hard of thinking (especially Mr Hine):

π21 ≈ 2.75 × 1010 (dimensionless).

One parsec = 3.086 ×1016 m so one Megaparsec is 3.086 ×1022 m. Hence 2 × `a Mpc’ × c ≈ 2 × 3.086 ×1022 m × 3 × 108 m s-1 ≈ 1.83 × 1031 m2 s-1.

Thus the full expression is obtained by dividing this by the value for π21 obtained above giving a value approximately 6.7× 1020 m2 s-1 as demonstrated by Wolfram Alpha.

The correct value for the Hubble constant is about 2.2 × 10−18 s−1.


UPDATE: It’s interesting how the Megaparsec appears in the numerator in Mr Hine’s expression, but magically transfers to the denominator as far as the units are concerned:


I think I may have cracked it. I believe Mr Hine’s calculation involves using light-years instead of Mpc or SI (for some reason) the calculation is in which case the calculation becomes:

π21 ≈ 2.75 × 1010 (dimensionless) as before

One parsec = 3.26 light years so one Megaparsec is 3.26 ×106 million light years. Hence 2 × `a Mpc’ × c ≈ 2 × 3.26 ×106 m × 3 × 105 m s-1, using c in km/s.

When divided by the value of π21 this gives a number around 71 (I couldn’t be bothered with the extra decimal places).

However, although it is a number around 71 the units are then km/s times light years, not the correct units which are km/s divided by Megapersecs. The fact that the number comes out close to 70 is just a numerical artefact of Mr Hine’s basic misunderstanding of units and dimensions. In other words, it’s gibberish. I know you’ll all be shocked by this revelation, but it’s true.

17 Responses to “Wolfram Alpha and the Principle of Astrogeometry”

  1. Anton Garrett Says:

    Ask him whether he is engaging in this dialogue with you with the blessing of the leader/elders of the congregation he is in. Ask him which congregation that is and for the contact details of its leader.

  2. Have you tried it with the biblical value of pi=3?

    • telescoper Says:

      It doesn’t help much. The expression is dimensionally incorrect as well as being wrong by many orders of magnitude numerically.
      I think if one is going to indulge in numerology one could at least learn to do basic arithmetic.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      And if 22/7 had been logged in the Bible I suppose you would have grumbled that that was inexact too? Or 314159/100000?

      • telescoper Says:

        I think a bigger problem in this context might be the value of a Megaparsec. I’m not an expert but I’m pretty sure that isn’t defined anywhere in the Bible.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Phillip is referring to 1 Kings 7:23, not David Hine’s strange calculations.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        I think that Phillip is referring to 1 Kings 7:23 regarding the value of pi, not any comment of David Hine’s.

      • Indeed: “And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” (From the King James Version, the offical Word of God in English. Seriously, some believe that not only were the writers inspired, but also some translators, including those employed by King James. Interestingly, the KJV and Shakespeare were contemporaneous, both had a huge influence on the English language, and the two are very different. While Shakespeare coined a huge number of words and was otherwise innovative, the KJV sounds deliberately old-fahsioned—of course, today, to many, both sound old-fashioned.)

        This implies pi=3. Sure, it can’t be given exactly, but 3 sounds a bit too coarse.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        It is easily the nearest whole number, and they didn’t have a notation for fractions. Have you checked whether the quoting of an integer in the ancient world was taken by readers to mean “the nearest integer”?

      • There are, of course, several translations of the Bible. Here’s the KJV on the baptism of Christ:

        Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

        14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

        15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

        16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

        17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

        Here’s another translation:

        13 Dat time, Jesus come from Galilee side to da Jordan River wea John stay, so John can baptize him.

        14 But John wen tell Jesus, “How come you come by me? Eh, me, I no can baptize you. Eh, mo betta you baptize me! I need dat.”

        15 But Jesus say, “No need worry. Dis okay fo now, fo show we like do everyting da right way.”
        So John say, “Okay, we go den.” An he baptize Jesus.

        16 Right afta John baptize him, Jesus come out from da water, an you know wat? Da sky wen rip open. Jesus spock God’s Spirit coming down on top him. Look jalike one dove.

        17 An wow! Had one voice from da sky wen say, “Dis my boy. I I get love an aloha fo him fo real kine, an I stay good inside cuz a him!”


        Full of gems (more pleasure to those who recognize them from other translations), such as:

        Da Boss Above, he take care me,
        Jalike da sheep farma take care his sheeps.
        He goin give me everyting I need.

        He let me lie down wea da sweet an soft grass stay.
        He lead me by da water wea I can rest.

        He give me new kine life.
        He lead me in da road dat stay right,
        Cuz I his guy.

      • It is easily the nearest whole number, and they didn’t have a notation for fractions. Have you checked whether the quoting of an integer in the ancient world was taken by readers to mean “the nearest integer”?”

        It was just a joke. 🙂 Seriously, though, since tithes are mentioned in the Pentateuch, there was some concept of the idea of a fraction.

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        One Bible teacher whom I respect actually quotes the pidgin summary of justification by faith as getting the idea across with best clarity: “God ‘e say ‘im alright”.

      • telescoper Says:

        (23) Den Huram melt da bronze metal fo make da big roun watta tub. Was 15 feet from one side to da odda side, 7 feet 6 inch high, an aroun da outside, if you put one rope, goin be bout 45 feet long. (24) Jus unda da top part, all da way aroun da tub, he make two row picha dat look like roun gourds, an da gourds, ery one a dem bout two inch wide. Dey pour da hot bronze metal fo make da tub, so da tub an da gourds all come out da same piece. (25) Da tub stay on top 12 bronze bull cow statues. Three a dem look nort side, three look wes side, three look sout side, an three look eas side. Da tub stay sit on top dem, an dea okole all stay inside da middo. (26) Da rim, 3 inch thick. Da rim jalike da rim on one cup, an look jalike one lily flowa. Da ting hold 11,500 gallon watta.

      • Einstein is known for saying “Subtle is the Lord, but not malicious”. Actually, he said “Raffiniert ist der Herrgott, aber boshaft ist er nicht”. Allegedly, his own English translation (remember, he had moved to New Jersey) was “God might be slick, but he ain’t mean”. 🙂

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Some of these unusual Bible translations are made to help people of a different culture, some are done for irreverent purposes, but it remains a sort-of compliment.

        If I had a penny for every slick quote misattributed to Einstein that I’d heard, I’d be rich!

    • telescoper Says:

      news just in: apparently one should use the `modern, metric version of pi’.

      I hope this clarifies the situation.

  3. […] Here’s an amusing recent example of numerological nonsense being passed off as scientific reasoning. Note that Peter Coles’ correspondent claims that the science is on his side. How persuasive […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: