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.

12 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. 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.

  3. 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.

    • 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”?

    • 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.

    • 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!

  4. […] 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 […]

  5. telescoper Says:

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

    I hope this clarifies the situation.

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