deconstructing the god equation

Three internet cranks manage to achieve a truly impressive feat of meaningless numerology. We'll dissect it just for the hell of it.

I swear, PZ Myers gets the most absurd and entertaining spam on the web. Sure, I’ll get something from stark raving lunatics ranting about how Adam and Eve committed an act even worse than incest because she was made from his rib and was thus his genetically altered clone, and so the human species should never breed and allow itself to go extinct lest we pollute our gene pool. And yes, it came with the giant, badly formatted font that lets you know the author forgot to take his medication before typing it out. But never have I gotten the proof of the careful and deliberate planning behind the creation of the Earth and the Moon in a physics equation

Basically, the attributed authors measured something about circular stone monuments created by a Neolithic culture in ancient England, threw in the frequency of a hydrogen atom’s transition in space, a constant which represents all the numbers in a base ten numerical system in decimal form and arranged it into a formula. So we’re supposed to take the frequency of hydrogen’s transition line in a vacuum at 1,420.4058 MHz and multiply it by π, then divide the resulting mess by the frivolous Ω constant of 0.0123456789 which has absolutely nil to do with any other mathematical or physical constant. After we do that, we’re supposed to multiply the result by an esoteric conversion factor of 0.82966 for the answer to equal to the speed of light in a vacuum, making the end formula work out thusly…

c = Hl × π / Ω = 1,420.4 MHz × π / 0.0123456789 = 361,266.01 × 0.82966 = 299,797.961 km/sec?

Okay, so if we tweak a few decimal places when doing the math, we’ll eventually get very close to the speed of light with the help of the included fudge factor. But note the subtle moment in which MHz magically turned into kilometers per second. And the pointlessness of this entire exercise, which only proves that somebody could dream up a bizarre and very inelegant way in which you could make some constants equal the speed of light with arbitrary decimals thrown in to make it look like a legitimate formula and get the result you want. How can this possibly show any sort of evidence of intelligent design of the Earth and the Moon? This is just plain, old numerology that’s not even flimsily disguised. Take the numbers for a chapter and verse in the Bible, divide it by your height, multiply it by the weight of your third grade music teacher, raise that to the power of the number of props used by Carrot Top and gain a profound insight into the nature of all creation? I somehow doubt it.

The e-mail credits a trio of unrelated people with combing the ruins of Stonehenge and other megalithic sites, one of whom is Christopher Knight, the author of a New Age book which heavily borrowed from Dan Brown’s ancient conspiracy theory craze. It was supposed to fuse Freemasonry, Christianity, modern science and just about every crazy conspiracy theory out there into a profound explanation of Western religious history and was very swiftly dismissed as lunacy by experts, albeit in much more polite language. Could he have tried to play physicist? Maybe. Did he have it sent out across the web? I’m not so sure since PZ seems to be the only one who got this e-mail. Nevertheless, I thought it merited a post to serve as a warning to those who want to send science bloggers something offering proof of the supernatural, purporting to debunk evolution, or show a real live alien peeping into people’s windows. We will read it. We will look at the evidence. We will do the math. We will ask questions. And then we’re going to tear those flimsy attempts at playing scientist apart because we’re evil, merciless science bloggers, and that’s how we roll.

# science // pseudoscience / skepticism / woo

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