‘Settled Science’ syndrome hits Astronomy and the Nobel Prize

From the UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD:

The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate — or is it?

Five years ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, in the late 1990s, that the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace.

Their conclusions were based on analysis of Type Ia supernovae – the spectacular thermonuclear explosion of dying stars – picked up by the Hubble space telescope and large ground-based telescopes. It led to the widespread acceptance of the idea that the universe is dominated by a mysterious substance named ‘dark energy’ that drives this accelerating expansion.

Hubble Space Telescope image of supernova 1994D in galaxy NGC 4526.

Hubble Space Telescope image of supernova 1994D in galaxy NGC 4526.

Now, a team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept. Making use of a vastly increased data set – a catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae, more than ten times the original sample size – the researchers have found that the evidence for acceleration may be flimsier than previously thought, with the data being consistent with a constant rate of expansion.

The study is published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

Professor Sarkar, who also holds a position at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, said: ‘The discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe won the Nobel Prize, the Gruber Cosmology Prize, and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. It led to the widespread acceptance of the idea that the universe is dominated by “dark energy” that behaves like a cosmological constant – this is now the “standard model” of cosmology.

‘However, there now exists a much bigger database of supernovae on which to perform rigorous and detailed statistical analyses. We analysed the latest catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae – over ten times bigger than the original samples on which the discovery claim was based – and found that the evidence for accelerated expansion is, at most, what physicists call “3 sigma”. This is far short of the “5 sigma” standard required to claim a discovery of fundamental significance.

‘An analogous example in this context would be the recent suggestion for a new particle weighing 750 GeV based on data from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. It initially had even higher significance – 3.9 and 3.4 sigma in December last year – and stimulated over 500 theoretical papers. However, it was announced in August that new data shows that the significance has dropped to less than 1 sigma. It was just a statistical fluctuation, and there is no such particle.’

There is other data available that appears to support the idea of an accelerating universe, such as information on the cosmic microwave background – the faint afterglow of the Big Bang – from the Planck satellite. However, Professor Sarkar said: ‘All of these tests are indirect, carried out in the framework of an assumed model, and the cosmic microwave background is not directly affected by dark energy. Actually, there is indeed a subtle effect, the late-integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect, but this has not been convincingly detected.

‘So it is quite possible that we are being misled and that the apparent manifestation of dark energy is a consequence of analysing the data in an oversimplified theoretical model – one that was in fact constructed in the 1930s, long before there was any real data. A more sophisticated theoretical framework accounting for the observation that the universe is not exactly homogeneous and that its matter content may not behave as an ideal gas – two key assumptions of standard cosmology – may well be able to account for all observations without requiring dark energy. Indeed, vacuum energy is something of which we have absolutely no understanding in fundamental theory.’

Professor Sarkar added: ‘Naturally, a lot of work will be necessary to convince the physics community of this, but our work serves to demonstrate that a key pillar of the standard cosmological model is rather shaky. Hopefully this will motivate better analyses of cosmological data, as well as inspiring theorists to investigate more nuanced cosmological models. Significant progress will be made when the European Extremely Large Telescope makes observations with an ultrasensitive “laser comb” to directly measure over a ten to 15-year period whether the expansion rate is indeed accelerating.’

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207 thoughts on “‘Settled Science’ syndrome hits Astronomy and the Nobel Prize

  1. Well, this is one of the many things separating physics from psychology – the ability to question “settled science”.

    BTW, it also happens every time there is an eclipse of the sun…

      • Physics types also have their “doubters” but they too have to “obey” the “consensus” to stay within acceptable social parameters (perhaps many science fields are like this without realizing):
        “Nevertheless, as a physicist travels along his (in this case) career, the hairline cracks in the edifice become more apparent, as does the dirt swept under the rug, the fudges and the wholesale swindles, with the disconcerting result that the totality occasionally appears more like Bruegel’s Tower of Babel as dreamt by a modern slumlord, a ramshackle structure of compartmentalized models soldered together into a skewed heap of explanations as the whole jury-rigged monstrosity tumbles skyward.
        It would be surprising if the strange world of subatomic and quantum physics did not lead the field in mysteries, conceptual ambiguities and paradoxes, and it does not disappoint. The standard model of particle physics, for instance (the one containing all the quarks and gluons), has no fewer than 19 adjustable parameters, about 60 years after Enrico Fermi exclaimed, “With four parameters I can fit an elephant!” Suffice to say, “beauty” is a term not frequently applied to the standard model.”
        Following is “view all”:
        http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-man-behind-the-curtain/99999
        Following is page 4:
        http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-man-behind-the-curtain/4

      • Physic is a science. Psychology isn’t. When I studied psychology in the 60s, the aspiration was to make it a science. So far, it has not been achieved. I don’t know whether they are still trying.

      • There was an interesting paper released in 2015 that “vanishes” the singularity of the “big bang.”

        http://phys.org/news/2015-02-big-quantum-equation-universe.html

        They authors “quantum correct” the classical mathematics which implies the so-called big bang employing Bohm’s quantum trajectories in place of classical trajectories, which eliminates the singularity. It disposes of both the need for “inflation” and “dark energy.” The curiosity is why this hasn’t been done before. One of the notable aspects of the theory of the big bang is that the initial event and a good deal taking place in the very earliest flash would be occurring at a quantum scale.

        The crtitics seem mostly still out. One critic takes a mild-ish exception to a part, primarily on philosophical grounds. The human race seems to be composed of those who desperately “need” beginnings and those who don’t mind

    • So what are some of the things linking physics and psychology ? I mean excluding your many things that separate them.

      I’m already familiar with the well recognized fact that both words start with the letter ” P “.

      G

  2. This has been a problem for Astronomy for a long time. Inflation theory is bollocks, complete bollocks, nothing but bollocks.

    It is founded on assumptions. reminds me of another field. hmmm

    So how Nobels get given out based on assumptions… is bollocks.

    • Climate “science” operates similarly. It is based on promulgated false-assumptions and model outcomes having no basis in reality.

    • You can probably say that whatever we hold as our current theory will be proven to be violated by some experiment in the future. That is the nature of science. Until then, it is to be probed at every possible brick seam in the wall to find out someplace that the brick is loose.

      I am agnostic on what reality is. I can conceive of a reality that I might find comfortable, but I understand that what I find comfortable is not likely to be reality in the ultimate.

    • Well I think the term ” inflation ” as used in cosmology, refers to something other than what is supposed to be caused by “dark energy “. It was apparently a transient event from the era of archeophysics. Izzat the first 10^-43 seconds after the big bang, when all the interesting physics happened; or maybe 10^-34 seconds.

      I can never keep those two eras straight !

      G

    • You’re far from the only one to think so.

      Inflation theory requires parts of the universe to recede from each other at more than the speed of light. This bothered me the first time I heard of it. (I think I was about 12. I was a geeky kid…)

      Supposedly, this is possible because it is space itself that is expanding. Whether this actually means anything, or whether it is just Doc Smithian sci-fi-speak, I leave to more experienced Relativists than me.

      The sad thing is that if it is bollocks, the Alcubierre Drive doesn’t work…

      • You’re right. Inflation was needed to explain the size of the universe. If I correctly remember the size of visible universe is some 90 billion years – a bit too big for the 13. something billion years calculated age.
        Plus it can be shown that the universe is much bigger then that – there was some paper bringing the size at 250x the visible size.
        My take on it was that they should try again a new theory, still waiting, may take some 20 years until a new generation comes….

      • “Inflation theory requires parts of the universe to recede from each other at more than the speed of light.”

        The speed of light is relative to distance traveled in unit time. If you alter time or distance you get what seems to be faster than light but it isn’t faster than light where it is observed.

        Or something like that.

      • I think when Guth came up with inflation it was the explain the apparent homogeneity of the Universe, nt so much the size.

      • TheImpaler

        An argument that space – i.e. “nothing” is deformable, (mass through gravity changes the shape of space around the mass inversely proportionate to distance) implies an “aether,” just not apparently a luminiferous one, which is what Michelson-Morley ruled out.

    • I completely agree with you re: Inflation being complete bullocks. So is Dark Energy, the most audacious “fudge factor” ever conceived, created solely to reconcile a few supernovae discrepancy measures between white light “standard candle” distances with supposed red-shift distances. Oh, my, how Perlmutter et al must feel right now… Nobel Prize be damned. Let’s focus on and revisit our assumption about the meaning of the red shift, shall we? Also, apparently now there’s new work on H-Theory that shows there are certain quantum conditions that require reversal of entropy. With both these, the Big Bang just might die as well. Welcome to the new age of the timeless, ageless universe. Wouldn’t that just be grand and as a side benefit, twist the panties of the Cosmologists all in a bunch? :)

      • My own personal opinion is that Occam’s Razor should be used – what SINGLE wrong assumption could there be that would invalidate almost all of modern cosmology? Just maybe the Doppler effect of light travelling intergalactic distances isn’t quite correct? I know that Michelson and Morley disproved it’s existence on Earth, but maybe something like the aether CAN be found out in the Big Empty. So who is asking?

  3. Dark energy is a myth, in fact many myths have more basis in reality than Dark Energy and Dark Matter.
    Just like black holes, they are mathematical calculations given real physical properties

    Arrgghhghg. the arrogance, the ignorance, the delusion.

    • Dark matter isn’t a myth but a fact, at least in the case of baryonic matter, ie ordinary matter composed of atoms and subatomic particles. Some baryonic mass in the universe is simply too dim to be detected except by its gravitational effects. The case for non-baryonic dark matter might be less compelling.

      • You would do well actually to read, or even look through a telescope sometime.

        Astronomers have discovered much formerly dark matter, such as interstellar planets, previously too dim to be seen.

        Dark matter thus is a fact. Maybe you don’t know what a fact is in science. It means an observation. Dark matter has now been observed and detected by its gravitational effects.

        Suggest you read up on the difference between baryonic matter and non-baryonic, rather than regurgitating lies and nonsense.

      • Chimp — you speak absolute nonsense. All that is shown is that gravity isn’t behaving in expected ways. Assumptions behind those measurements include the distance scale involved, and flat space. The phrase “dark matter” is exceedingly unfortunate because it implies that only matter can affect our gravity measurements when it can be a host of other things, including, very likely as MH points out, big errors in our assumptions.

      • Willy,

        Dunno to which of my comments you are replying.

        The Planck Space Telescope observed the cosmic background radiation, not gravity.

        If you’re referring to my statement of the fact that baryonic dark matter has been observed directly, then it’s you are spouting nonsense. It has been observed both by more sensitive EM radiation sensors and by gravitational influences.

      • But doesn’t “Dark Matter” supposedly consist of the larger portion of the total mass, as compared to what we believe we can “see” other than gravitationally. I find myself compelled by the notion that the rotation of galaxies, seems to be all wrong, based on the amount of mass that we believe we can see, but a dark matter would fix that. But it appears that you need a whole boat load of dark matter mass.

        So if it is just like my ordinary garden dirt, why don’t I find any of it in my yard.

        But then “Dark Energy” stretches my credulity beyond what is comfortable.

        So I’d be happy to have dark energy disappeared. That would suit me. A completely unknown sort of fifth force, gives me the heebie jeebies !

        G

      • Dark matter thus is a fact. Maybe you don’t know what a fact is in science. It means an observation. Dark matter has now been observed and detected by its gravitational effects.

        It is not simply the speed with which stars move – getting more matter making it right, but this “dark matter” needs to be distributed in a special form to make it work.
        Dark matter has to be distributed around the galaxy in the form of a squashed ball, that would explain how the stars inside it correctly move.

      • There might be 100,000 times more “rogue planets” in the Milky Way than stars. This makes sense, since there are so many red dwarf stars, it stands to reason that brown dwarfs and sub-brown dwarfs might be even more numerous.

        Rogue planets moreover aren’t all failed stars, but also planets kicked out of their star systems. Some sport planetary disks, so could be nascent, dark dwarf systems, like miniature solar systems, with moon-like satellites in place of planets. Brown dwarfs are larger than Jupiter.

        However less massive than even the smallest stars, rogue planets by their very numbers could constitute a significant total mass of baryonic “dark matter”. Finding them is pretty hit or miss, whether by direct IR observation or by their gravitational effects, as for instance when passing in front of a star.

      • There have been lots of supposed candidates for the matter which is thought to be missing in order to account for the observed velocity of galactic rotation.
        All kinds of objects from brown dwarfs and rogue planets, and such things as MACHOs and WIMPs, and even neutrinos, have been considered and rejected as not being anywhere near numerous enough to account for the observed anomalies.
        So, either the galaxies are imbedded in large clouds of stuff which is only detectable by its gravitational influence, or of gravity as we currently understand it is incorrect at the scale of galaxies.
        People who have proposed seemingly simple modification to the inverse square relationship over vast distances have generally been scoffed at.
        Now, can anyone recall any incidences where, in science, what was supposedly accepted dogma…just about a “fact” in the minds of some…turned out to be wrong, and some guy who no one wanted to pay attention to was, in fact (!), right?

      • Although I am not so sure how they ruled out neutrinos just yet…given that no one is really sure if they have any mass or not.
        And no one has ever figured out a way to detect the low energy ones…so there is really no clue how many are zipping around everywhere.
        The number of neutrinos flying around is astounding, if one is to believe all the yammering. Just from our Sun alone, 65 billion neutrinos are passing through every square centimeter of your body every second.
        And similar if not greater numbers are produced by every other star that has ever existed…and supernovae…even more. And since they almost never interact with anything, most of the ones every produced are still flying around.
        I have to confess…of all the things that are hard to imagine…particles streaming through our body and the whole Earth and everything, in the billions and trillions and umpteen squintillions per second, is just a bit much to know what to make of.

      • Your comments read like repeats from a Marvel comic. You should by now have realised that there are many very highly qualified and knowledgeable people on this site.

    • mH, black holes have been observd three ways. 1. By thengravitational force they exert on nearby visible stars. 2. By the radiation emitted from near their event horizon as as matter falls into the hole. 3. Newly, By the gravity waves emitted when two of them combine. What began as a direct mathematical deduction from Einstein’s general theorymof relativity has ben observationally confirmed many times.
      Dark matter, on the other hand, has no theoretical underpinning. Einstein called his cosmological constant a blunder. And now we learn that the observational evidence does not rise to the requisite level of certainty. The answer is to find more Type 1a ‘standard candles’ just as CERN had to gather more data.

      • ristvan, don’t confuse “dark matter” and “dark energy.”

        The calculations of the orbital velocity of stars in a galaxy does not agree with the observed mass, so “Dark Matter” was postulated to explain it. The rogue planets that Chimp referred to are insignificant to the mass needed to get observations and theory to agree. It’s still just a weak hypothesis.

        “Dark Energy” is just a sexy new name for Einstein’s Cosmological Constant, which is an integration constant from the differential form of Einstein’s equation, and mathematically justified. Einstein’s actual blunder was not the inclusion of the Cosmological Constant, but his later statement that is was a blunder. There’s no physical reason to require that it be zero.

        As the article states, the acceleration of the expansion was found using other measurements. The fact that the probability is “at most 3 sigma” when more 1A supernovae are included does not refute the theory. 3 sigma is still pretty good. If only the Climastrologers would use 3 sigma (or even 2 sigma) significance before demanding the destruction of the world’s economy.

        And I question the hypothesis that all 1A supernovae are the same brightness, which is required for this measurement to have any meaning.

      • Macaw,

        It’s not just rogue planets orbiting the barycenter of the galaxy rather than stars, but whole galaxies previously undetectable have now been found.

        No one knows what portion of dark matter might consist of ordinary matter, ie composed of protons and neutrons, assuming non-baryonic dark matter even exists.

      • Question about observation #3: Did they actually observe these black holes merging or did they just assume that is what happened because that is the only phenomenon they know of that could create gravity waves of the intensity they measured?

      • OK, thanks Chimp. Then based on your response and what I have read, there is no independent confirmation, but based on the Gravity Waves and physics as we currently understand it, Gravity waves of this magnitude and shape could only be caused by the merging of two black holes.

      • Ric,

        IMO, that’s about the size of it.

        Maybe Dr. S. will favor us with his take on the validity of this conclusion, based upon the gravity waves (or whatever you want to call them) detected.

      • Ristvan, many astrophysical objects have been observed and have been found to be compact enough to be black holes, if such exist, but there has been no proof of the existence of an event horizon, which is the thing that would distinguish a black hole from some other exotic form of matter. There has not even been confirmation of Schwarzschild or Kerr spacetime geometry that would exist in the vicinity of a black hole, but until there is some evidence that something else is needed, black holes will remain as the prevailing paradigm.

        Dark baryonic matter exists and some quantities are exposed from time to time. Non-baryonic dark matter has been proposed to explain the flat galactic rotation profiles. It has also been used along with “dark energy” as part of the explanation for the supernovae redshift-luminosity relation, but neither has been verified. Both may well be indicators of a failure of general relativity theory to correctly describe gravity.

      • I recall a lecture in which Feynman speculated that since everything in science “evolves” it would not be unreasonable to think that the physics in other parts of the universe are different than what we experience in our tiny part of space and time.

      • @ristvan “Dark matter, on the other hand, has no theoretical underpinning. Einstein called his cosmological constant a blunder.”

        You seem to be confusing dark energy and dark matter. They are chalk & cheese – nothing to do with each other.

        And BTW, there is no historical evidence of Einstein EVER using the term “blunder” or even regarding his cosmological constant to be a mistake. (Seems that was the “invention” of Gamov trying to big-note himself – https://arxiv.org/abs/1310.1033) It was needed to enable general relativity to be consistent with the then-prevailing wisdom that the universe was static. As soon as Hubble discovered the expansion, Einstein was very happy to “bin” the ugly fudge factor as unnecessary. But it was and still is a valid parameter in his field equations.

      • Einstein Waves have existed ever since Einstein gave us his general theory of relativity, which at the time was a purely theoretical mathematical concept. Well mathematics is all fiction anyway, and you can make up your own for whatever reason. But based on that General Relativity, and also the similar mathematical concept of what a black hole was, it became possible to compute exactly what signal one should receive as an Einstein Wave resulting from gravitation, for any collision between any two black holes of any arbitrary masses, colliding along some arbitrary orbit.

        And since nobody could find any such thing for so long, well they had plenty of time to whittle away on their terracomputers, calculating the Einstein Wave signal for any encounter you wanted to propose. These generally comprised chirped waves, as the approaching combatants sped up and spiraled more rapidly, until they hit like a couple of lumps of jello. At that point the combined mass of jello then quivered until it shook off all the ripples in its surface, as it ” Rang Down ” as the saying goes, and slowly stopped ringing like a bell; except now the frequency was fixed rather than chirped. So they figured out nobody knows how many such scenarios. For each of those cases, they could also calculate the unique “matched filter” that alone could detect that specific signal with the maximum theoretical peak signal to noise ratio. The impulse response of such a filter is just the time reversed signal they are looking for.

        So if you catch some machinations from your LIGO gizmo, and save it; and also catch the same from its brother gizmo; over there;, and then you feed that signal backwards, into all of your matched filters that you have on your maxiputer; there is only going to be one such filter that gives you a picture of that exact signal that you fed backwards into the mixmaster, and does it for both of the LIGOmeters.

        And voila, you now have found an Einstein Wave that only matches a particular pair of black holes that you postulated were on a particular collision course.

        At this point, since the antenna that picked up this signal was supposed to only respond to the gravitational force; the gutsy scientist can now poke his big toe into the ice water, and suggest: “Well we found what Einstein was jabbering on about; but shouldn’t we call them gravitational waves, since our antenna only reacts to gravitational forces ??

        Well you see we know they are Einstein Waves, because they were calculated from his home made up mathematics. But the fact that we found a lookalike response from a real physical gravitationally sensitive antenna suggests that they really are gravitational waves.

        I’m kind of a chicken guy anyway, so I’m going to stay with the Einstein Waves, until some higher authority says it is ok to call them gravitational waves. But whatever they were they certainly found them.

        G

      • George e. smith – “Well mathematics is all fiction anyway, and you can make up your own for whatever reason.” I generally agree with a lot of what you say, but that is simply wrong – and as wrong as wrong can be. Certainly you can “make up” a “math” where 5-3 = 9 and 5*3 = -pi (of course I’m trivially short-handing for the sorts of operations that define groups, fields, rings, etc.), but it won’t obey the elementary rules required to define mathematical systems. As an example – first there were real numbers, then complex numbers, then quaternions, then octonions, etc., You can’t just “make up, for instance, “quintonions.” All of the others are actual algebras with consistent rules that are *derivable* not “made up” but you can’t “derive” self-consistent algebraic rules for “quintonions” because they don’t exist – and they don’t represent anything real, measureable, and observable in the universe, unlike the others all of which do.

        Math is neither games nor made up. If you can explain something in a clear mathematical framework you don’t have anything interesting to explain, scientifically.

      • I’m not aware that there ever was a theory of a luminous ether. I believe there was a theory of a “material” ether medium that propagated EM waves at the velocity of light. I believe I once read a chapter in a book, in which they calculated what the physical properties of that (mechanical) medium must be, such as mass density and then modulus of elasticity or bulk modulus; the things that let you calculate the velocity of acoustic waves in steel or aluminum for example.

        So you postulate such properties for the ether, and the requirement of a wave velocity of (c) , and you get totally loony bin values for those required properties.

        Water conducts compressibility waves (longitudinal) at around 4,000 ft per second, much higher than air. But the acoustic wave velocities in say aluminum are way higher than that, but nowhere near (c). So you need a much higher bulk modulus, and a much lower mass density, to get the speed of EM waves up to (c) in the medium as if they were compression waves.

        The crazy required values were one of the smell tests that led people to do what Michelson and Morley did. One of the all time fun experiments of physics. Milliken’s measurement of the electron charge is another one.

        And I like the more recent discovery of Einstein Waves best of all.

        G

      • Acceleration at the fringes of galaxies is strongly correlated with visible, baryonic matter. IMHO this destroys the dark matter hypothesis.

        Note the relationship is not linear, but an exact simple function describes the relationship..

        https://arxiv.org/abs/1609.05917

        Peter

      • PaulH – even more interesting is that for the first couple of runs of the Michelson Morley experiment they were SURE they had detected the movement of the earth in the luminous ether. Only later, more refined, measurements led to the opposite conclusion.

    • My new bifocals, Mark, read your comment as being about Dick Emery rather than Dark Energy. I shall never be able to think of it as such again.

    • Concerning dogma, and vested interests, ego careers and kudos, and feeding of intellect. You are correct

  4. “carried out in the framework of an assumed model”

    Sounds just like the vast majority of AGW research.

    If you assume that your basic model is correct and use that assumption to interpret your data, then of course you will find that the data supports the model. Because the data and its analysis is based on the model. You need to collect and analyze the data independent of your model and/or assumptions.

  5. I am sure that Bill McKibben thinks this dark energy is all the extra man-made CO2 oozing out of the earth’s atmosphere.

  6. In a similar vein, was it not only a week or so ago that it was announced that the previous estimate of 170 billion galaxies has been shown by the Hubble telescope to be a vast miscalculation and the new estimate is 2 trillion? Indeed if this is so then the need for ‘dark matter’ vanishes.

    • @Peter C
      “Indeed if this is so then the need for ‘dark matter’ vanishes.”

      This conclusion is pure rubbish I’m afraid. One of the strongest pieces of evidence pointing to something fitting the need for “dark” matter is the multitude of galaxy rotation curves measured – rotation profiles which can’t possibly be explained by any distribution or amount of “ordinary” matter (either seen or unseen) within the galaxy disk itself. The observed rotation of “outliers” like globular clusters – maybe as far away again from the centre as the visible edge of the galaxy – requires a halo of distributed “clumping” mass about six times the size of the visible disk.

      It doesn’t matter how many galaxies are discovered at high redshift – it won’t affect the need to find an explanation for the observed behaviour of individual galaxies.

  7. We do not have the means to measure distance over those ranges, red shift is a fallacy and there is no way to validate it except with a parallax which needs us to send satellites light years from earth to use for measuring distance.

    I mean, they still pretend the CBR map is real, even though they cannot ever recreate any given map, because the maps of CBR are the results of data processing and they change the coefficients every bloody year!! no map can EVER be recreated!!

    The majority of Astronomy is pure JUNK

  8. It must be nice to openly question and publish at the same time and use data. The academy is hurting elsewhere. Like some ex-patriots, you need to move very far away to have an honest discussion outside the Podesta monitoring system for consistent religious messaging. Other galaxies works best.

  9. People want to believe… Nay. Need to believe in something.

    The scientific domain is one of four logical domains, where the boundary is defined by a limit inversely proportional to the product of space and time (or motion) offsets from an observer’s frame of reference.

  10. Will this raise our taxes or decrease our standard of living ? Will mother earth be traumatized? Will there be a catastrophic event related to this, soon, should I worry ? Where the political action committee that I can join to save the expanding universe? The emotional content is lacking here.

  11. And generally (excluding astrophysics) physics is the branch of science that can make the most accurate
    predictions of phenomena. Least accurate science would be a contest between Sociology and Psychology.
    Climatology is more similar to Psych/Soc than to Physics.

  12. The universe is accelerating in its expansion? OK, then, given even a very low acceleration, the rate of expansion should be enormous by now after billions of years.
    Dark matter: matter that has no other effect than gravity. Doesn’t interact with matter or electromagnetic energy. Yeah, that makes sense.
    The thing is, physics MODELS the universe and they confuse that with reality.
    MODELS are not reality.
    MODELS could be made to work with the Earth at the center of the solar system.
    Right now, physics is a self-contradicting mess of “things” that combined make no sense at all.

    • “Right now, physics is a self-contradicting mess of “things” that combined make no sense at all.”

      Agreed – but this is usually a sign that we are waiting for the next big theoretical breakthrough.

      I have a theory – no, let’s call it a hypothesis, which is what you get before it’s dignified by the word theory – that the Universe possesses a property that I call conceptual elegance. By this I mean that if you understand sufficiently well how the Universe works, you can describe it in simple, elegant terms. Conversely, if our current theory of how the Universe works consists of a complicated mishmash of seemingly ad hoc ideas, then we don’t really understand how it works.

      Back in the nineteenth century, it was known that Newton’s law of gravity was not always obeyed – the famous orbit of Mercury conundrum – and all sorts of ad hoc explanations were in vogue, often satirized as “it’s an inverse square law except on Tuesdays”. Then along came Einstein with his general theory of relativity, and conceptual elegance prevailed once again.

      At this time we have an analogous problem trying to reconcile relativity theory and quantum theory. We do have some rather untidy ideas, such as string theory, which merely asks us to assume the existence of ten or eleven dimensions, as opposed to the normal three (OK, four if you count time). Since this is no more difficult than imagining the universe to be largely made of dark matter, what the hell. Or as the White Queen said in Alice Through the Looking-Glass, “why, sometimes I’ve believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast”.

      Some day, some bright spark will come up with a new model of the universe that will encompass relativity and quantum theory in one overarching concept, and with any luck will dispense with the need for dark matter. Conceptual elegance will have been regained. All the establishment scientists will then accept this as the ultimate truth, never to be questioned – until some awkward sod makes some verifiable observation that doesn’t fit into the current theory, and the whole process will start again. C’est la vie.

  13. Thanks Anth*ny — quite interesting, and you “beat” all the regular astronomy/physics sites AFAIK. Of course, this will take some (or alot of) time to sort out.

    • too funny

      No rant

      Just a LIST of issues where skeptics say THEIR science is Settled.

      No snark
      no caps
      no personal comments

      just a list

      of skeptic’s “settled science”

      I guess you cant take the look in the mirror.

      Typical

      [yes, it is a typical comment style from you lately – try to be less one-liner ranty -mod]

  14. Some how i feel that the concept of dark matter and dark energy depends on each other.
    If one fails the other might fail too.

  15. Celestial spheres, dark matter, greenhouse gas property … manmade constructs attempting to explain what we don’t fully understand.

    • And looking back on it, most of the constructs in history, at least the ones we haven’t forgotten, even some of the wrong ones, advanced civilisation.
      All the the way from the crazy idea of atoms, thru phlogiston to were we are today!

      • Ancient Greek scientists proposed the atomic theory of matter and heliocentric theory, but consensus found these hypotheses not only false but impious for 2000 years or so. Oreskes and Mosher need to study the history of science before trying to change the method that has worked so well for so long. And Orestes is an historian. She has to ignore all of her subject, along with actual science to spout her dangerous nonsense.

      • Regarding human blood as a ‘humor’ led to the practice of bloodletting for thousands of years. Dismantling modern energy infrastructure in an effort to limit the base of the food chain (atmospheric CO2) due to a construct that cannot be scientifically quantified. Two examples of errant constructs that have hindered, not advanced, civilization.

      • RPT,

        I surely hope not. But the philosophy of science has been influenced by non-scientists before, such as Karl Popper, whose doctorate was in psychology.

        The scientific method will prevail unless government outlaws it, because it works. Consensus, not so much.

      • @Thomas Homer, You might want to research the health benefits of blood donation for the person donating, which is our modern version of bloodletting. High iron levels are implicated in many chronic diseases and donating blood at least twice a year is apparently an effective way to keep iron at healthier levels. Your overall point seems valid, but bloodletting is likely not a good example, since it now seems like it is another case where the ancients knew better than we do what is good for health.

  16. Actually, it is clear that the universe is expanding at a constant rate, as has long been understood.
    BUT:
    Superimposed on that constant secular rate is a rhythmic expansion and contraction, which for lack of a better term, can be called “breathing”. It is this breathing mode which has caused so much confusion. This might be considered remarkable, so how do we know? Well, the answer is simple and straightforward.
    If you recall, in May and June, the global temperature (as measured by UAH) was plummeting like a rock, and the equatorial pacific temperatures had dropped to such a low value that more cooling was assured. I, as did several others, predicted more cooling the UAH Global measurement.
    What happened? Temperatures *increased*. Not just once, but for 3 months running. I was wrong, not just once (unbelievable as it my seem) but *THREE* times, an inconceivable result.
    So what does this have to do with the expansion of the universe?
    The satellites recording the data for the UAH data set rely on precision Platinum resistance thermometers. Part on their calibration relys on turning the thermometers such that they are exposed to the dark cold of deep space. the temperature recorded is them dependent on the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, or CMB, of the universe. This radiation is in the microwave region and is taken to be just a few degrees above absolute zero.
    Now the CMB itself was created in the Big Bang which created the universe. As the universe expands, the CMB lessens in intensity and shifts to longer wavelengths.Thus, the CMB is directly dependent on the size of the universe, and indeed, a measure of the CMB is a gauge of the current volume of the universe.
    So What Happened?
    Sometime around June, the universe went into a breathing “exhale” mode and starting contracting. This caused the CMB to intensify and shift to shorter wavelengths and caused the apparent temperature to increase. This in turn caused the UAH satellite calibrations to go up at the low end, shifting the entire calibration curve upwards by a few tenths of a degree. Therefore, the UAH data recorded for the last few months is a few tenths of a degree too high. Note that there is nothing really wrong with the UAH data, it is just dependent on the CMB which changed in a way which was not taken into account.
    This simple explanation of “Universal Breathing” explains three things:
    1) the confusion surrounding an acceleration in the rate of the expansion of the universe
    2) anomalously high global temperature measurements
    3) most importantly, how I could have been wrong in my temperature predictions *three* times in a row. As all fair-minded people would agree, a most inconceivable situation.

    That is my story and I am sticking to it.

  17. The Theory of “Dark Matter” originated when the speed of rotation of a galaxy was first measured, and found to be faster than the surmised weight of the galaxy could confine. There are other theories to account for this, mainly based on an assumption that gravity is slightly different at galactic scale. There remains absolutely no proof of either school of thought.

    “Dark Energy” is based on the assumption that all Type IIa (not Type Ia) supernovae are identical. Subsequent research gives strong indication that all Type IIa supernovae are not identical. This could be the first Noble Prize revoked. I wonder if they will ask for their money back.

    • “The Theory of “Dark Matter” originated when the speed of rotation of a galaxy was first measured, and found to be faster than the surmised weight of the galaxy could confine. There are other theories to account for this, mainly based on an assumption that gravity is slightly different at galactic scale. ”
      ==============================

      The theory of Dark Matter is also based on an estimation that galaxies are over 13 billion years old. The Big Bang theory cannot explain how galaxies were able to form so quickly after the “bang”, nor can the theory explain how galaxies could have held together since their formation, if it was so long ago.

      SR

      • If dark matter does not exist, not only would any early galaxy no longer exist, galaxy formation is called into question.

        SR

      • If dark matter does not exist, not only would any early galaxy no longer exist, galaxy formation is called into question.

        Or the non-existence of dark matter means an alternative hypothesis is correct. It wouldn’t be the first time that a famous physicist from a previous century was proved wrong at very large or very small scales.

        Two of the leading alternative hypothesis are MonD and MiHsC (that I know of, I bet there are others)

      • I think we can be fairly certain that galaxies form, questions notwithstanding.
        It seems that in the realms of the very large and the very small, cosmology and particle physics, it is more common for an ad hoc “theory” to be dreamed up one fine day by some supposedly smart as a whip cookie, and if no one can immediately poke huge holes in said idea, before you know it, people in the field are strutting around talking about these ideas as if they are established facts, rather than some eggheads brainchild…which may or may not be in any way correct.
        Cosmic inflation is a great example of this, as is dark energy. Dark matter has a somewhat stronger foundation, but it is still based more so on something that is unknown rather than something that IS known.

  18. ..I have always considered “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy” to just be simple mathematical place holders for the stuff the scientists don’t know yet…Most likely they are made up of multiple particles and energy that we have not been able to imagine ! IMHO

    • That their much larger sample has a higher noise level and that the fit therefore is poorer [only 3 sigma] is quite natural. Their Figure 2 http://www.leif.org/research/No-Acceleration.png shows the best result [the middle of the innermost red-dashed oval which is just the same as the standard model. All they have shown is that their data has higher noise.
      The comments here on WUWT generally show how scientifically illiterate people are.

      • Dr. Svalgaard…true dat!
        But overall the knowledge of the crowd here is far higher that in the general population, in my estimation anywho.

        There do seem to be several people who are more sure of themselves than their actual knowledge should permit.
        A little dash of humility in such matters goes a long way, IMO.

      • Don’t know about “models” but in classical statistics larger samples are better and “noise” results in a less convincing relationship which is what has been found in this study.

  19. “Gruber Cosmology Prize” that’s a give away right there, if named after the MIT economist Jonathan Gruber—the architect of Obamacare—who mocked “the stupidity of the American voter”

    • “the stupidity of the American voter”

      Obama was elected President twice. Hillary Clinton may well be our next President. Gruber may be on to something.

  20. The real story of interest this week ( to me) is how the number of galaxies in the universe has increased from 100 to 200 billion to 2 trillion – a factor 10. Turns out they have used models to extrapolate with what we can observe, to fill in large scale voids we can’t. I think they are trying to save general relativity. The thing is the public, when they get hold of it, will not know the difference and go for the higher – made-up – number of 2 trillion.

    • Except that the increase is based upon new observations, which naturally require rethinking assumptions about those parts of the universe still not directly observable.

      It’s not a plot of some kind.

      • “They were able to plot the number of galaxies of a given mass that corresponded to various distances away from Earth. The researchers then extrapolated their estimates to encompass galaxies too small and faint for telescopes to pick up. Based on this, they calculated that the observable Universe should contain 2 trillion galaxies. The paper1 will be published in the Astrophysical Journal.”

        https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/universe-has-10-times-more-galaxies-than-researchers-thought/

      • The new, higher estimate is based upon the same assumptions as the old, lower estimates. That is, you observe a region of the universe, count the galaxies there and scale that number up by the whole volume, assuming the density will be about the same in unobserved regions.

        What changed is that a galaxy was observed earlier in the universe than previously thought to have occurred. Hence, there are or were more galaxies than believed in the unobserved reaches of the universe.

        If you don’t like the assumptions now, then you should not have liked them before, under the lower estimates. Not every region of the universe does have the same density of galaxies, but it’s close enough for government work, ie a range factor of two, ie the prior guess of 100 to 200 billion.

      • The WiggleZ survey showed a thinning out. Sure there are galaxies out there, but not as clustered as nearby. If we add galaxies to the large scales, we may miss a vital clue to the geometry: if the universe is expanding (and it is still doing that even if not (possibly) accelerating) then why should concentrations be the same at large scales (or early time)? Maybe matter is emergent, who knows, but must not contaminate what we can see with conjecture or extrapolation. If we model, we muddle, just like with the climate.

      • “I’m not suggesting it is; I am just not happy with modelling.”

        but son, it’s ALL modelling

  21. The take home message is :

    Professor Sarkar said: ‘All of these tests are indirect, carried out in the framework of an assumed model’…..‘So it is quite possible that we are being misled and that the apparent manifestation of dark energy is a consequence of analysing the data in an oversimplified theoretical model – one that was in fact constructed in the 1930s, long before there was any real data.’

    Using a model that assumes a framework to confirm the framework is a error of magnitude.

  22. An astronomy article (Sept 2015) I read this morning said they thought there were two types of Type Ia supernova. One where two white dwarfs merge and explode, and one where a white dwarf accumulates material from a larger, main sequence companion causing an explosion on the white dwarf. Our “standard candle” for distance is a little more complicated than we realized.

    • A type Ia supernova occurs in binary systems (two stars orbiting one another), in which one of the stars is a white dwarf. The companion can be of any size from a giant star to an even smaller white dwarf. It needn’t be a main sequence companion similar to the Sun.

      • Chimp:
        One thing…Not limited to binary systems…many such dwarfs have two or more companions.
        And the case of two white dwarfs colliding is not limited to situations in which they started out in orbit about each other. It is thought that in elliptical galaxies, the vast majority of type 1a supernovae are from collisions between two dwarfs. If such collisions were mostly from stars in orbit with each other, it would not matter what sort of galaxy they reside in.

        Another thing…”main sequence” does not in any way imply a sun-like star, merely one that is fusing hydrogen in it’s core. On the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, it is the main band of stars. A given star’s position on the main sequence is determined mainly by it’s mass, and to a lesser extent it’s metalicity and some other factors. TA is correct.

      • I know that stars larger and smaller than the sun can be on the main sequence. I mentioned the sun because it’s in between large and small stars.

        It remains the case that to be a Type Ia Supernova, the system needs at least one white dwarf. The other star (or stars) can be big, small or in between.

      • Menicholas, I would think that a collision between two white dwarfs is far less common than one white dwarf accumulating mass from a companion non-degenerate star. A star expanding beyond it’s Roche limit and dumping mass on a companion is fairly common, actual collisions between two stars are very rare. There may be a form of supernova that comes from two white dwarfs, but we’ve probably only observed one or two at the most.

      • @Chimp
        Your description hits on the significant point. The type 1a supernova is characterized by the Chandrasekhar Limit, which is the basis for its use as a standard candle i.e. all type 1a explosions will have the same characteristic energy.

      • Scarlet Macaw,
        Just relaying what I believe to be the mainstream line of thought on this.
        I was surprised to hear that as well.
        As elliptical galaxies are likely formed by the merger of two or more spiral galaxies, the orbits of the stars within them are less unidirectional than in a spiral, where everything is very generally moving in the same direction on the larger scale.
        I agree that the conventional wisdom has always been that stellar collisions are very rare, and that even when two galaxies collide head on, the space between individual stars is so great that stellar collisions are unlikely.

        http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2010/type1a/

        http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/mar/HQ_12-086_Swift_TypeIa_Origins.html

      • @Menicholas October 22, 2016 at 8:55 am
        “Not so Alan. See links above and research the subject.”

        From what I’ve read (and DO provide the correct links/explanation if I’m wrong) it is possible to distinguish the characteristic brightness-time curves of the two types of 1A supernova in question. This therefore preserves the status of the single (1x) Chandrasekhar mass explosions as standard candles.

  23. Maybe I’m just dence ;-) but we know why water rotate s what makes a gas cloud rotate as in collapse s in to a star ? What is the Coralie’s effect that makes everything spin in the same direction ? Sun and planets right perspective bottom looking up but galaxies left black holes right . Brain crapping just a stupid question but bigs me ;-)

    • Not all celestial bodies orbit in the same direction.

      Venus, Uranus, some moons and many comets show retrograde rather than prograde motion.

      • Not what I asked my point was why spin at all how does the spin start from collapsing gas from nowhere . Geez like I don’t know about isentric orbit’s . does space time it’s self have a force to add different spins on different mass ?

      • Either I’m dense or your question was hard to understand.

        By spin, I assume you mean rotation rather than orbiting. The planets spin for the same reason that a glancing hit from a cue ball sends a pool ball spinning.

        It’s hypothesized that when the solar system was still a cloud of gas and dust, a shock wave from a nearby supernova bounced up against it and caused it to collapse. As it collapsed, its own gravitational forces pulled it into a flat, spinning “planetary” disk. Since our solar system was formed from that disk, its momentum sent nearly everything spinning in the same direction. Exceptions like Uranus and Venus probably derive their divergent spins from subsequent collisions with asteroids or other bodies.

        The planets have continued spinning because of inertia. In the near vacuum of space, rotating objects maintain the momentum and direction of their spin because no external forces have been applied to stop them.

      • Iorne, I understand your question, and it is a good one.
        The clouds of material from which stars and planets form always have some degree of angular momentum, taking the clouds as a whole.
        When it is a large cloud of gas and dust, the random motion of the various atoms and molecules are in every different which way, but overall, these motions are extremely unlikely to all exactly cancel…hence the overall angular momentum is merely the sum of the various random or near-random motions.
        As the cloud collapses, this angular momentum becomes concentrated in a much smaller volume, and the various random motions cancel out as particles interact with each other and jostle around, leaving only the net angular momentum of the original cloud as a whole concentrated into the spin of the ensuing condensed matter in the system.
        This same phenomenon on different scales results in spinning spiral galaxies, spinning stars, and planets, and moons, etc.
        Capisce?

    • Dear Iorne50, you might get some insights from a book by Frederick Kantor titled “Information Mechanics.” It is no longer in print but can be found used. Kantor passed away and there is, regrettably, very little left to know about him. Among his conjectures was the idea that conservation of momentum was not entirely linear in its additions, with the result that it would be inevitable for any large mass to have a residuum of angular momentum, and thus would rotate.

  24. Type Ia supernovae were considered to be “cosmic mile markers” and “standard candles” of fairly uniform brightness. This was based on the idea that “the star doing the exploding is a white dwarf with a fairly standard mass, so the supernova’s brightness is predictable.” But they are now discovering that type la supernovae are not as uniform as they thought. They have discovered much variation. There is still a lot we don’t know about these supernovae. Estimates of the expanding universe were based on the assumption that these supernovae were standard candles and could be used to estimate distance. Now that assumption has been questioned. At the very least, estimates of distance that are based on la supernovae must be given much larger error bars.

    • Please point to any experiments which have shown relativity to be incorrect.
      Or don’t you like the scientific method?

  25. I am mindful of three things: (1) the observations of Halton Arp, which were made without regard to any presumed theory; (2) the Cosmological Principle, which forbids that matter “out there” should be different from matter “right here;” and (3) the fact that the vast majority of matter in the universe is a plasma subject to electromagnetic forces, which are vastly more powerful than gravity. The presumption that gravity explains everything is simply intellectual ossification.

    And wrapping it up in relativity theory is still a dubious enterprise. (The Correspondence Principle, for example, is false.)

    • But the farther afield one goes in the Universe, the farther back in time one is looking, and so “out there” is not just “out there”, but also “back then”.
      And “back then”, the average metalicity of the various stars and also of the galaxies and of the entire Universe was less and less, the further back one goes.
      So stars in the original populations of stars to form had zero metalicity, save for the tiny amount of lithium thought to have been created in the big bang (recall that, in cosmology, a “metal” is any atom heavier that helium).
      And subsequent generations of stars became, on average, more and more enriched in metals, flung out into space from older stars as they cast away planetary nebulae and exploded into supernovae.

      And so the composition of stars has changed over time, on average.
      Some hydrogen and helium are getting used up, and other heavier atoms are becoming more common.

      So stars “out there” are different, and become more different the farther out one goes.

      • Hard to come up with a convincing alternative explanation other than the BBT for the CMB and its red shift.

      • Yes, indeed.
        I have wracked my mind and come up empty on that one more than once.
        Still…I find the argument that the Universe is not only stranger than we understand, but stranger than we can understand.
        There are mundane examples from everyday quantum mechanics that defy logical explanation in human terms.

      • What caused anything ? If you go back to the big bang, how did all that stuff get in there and what made it, whatever made the stuff that made it? Some things are beyond our ability to understand. In one way I don’t think the universe ever started, it always existed. Which is like a post I made earlier about black holes, time doesn’t exist in them. So if a black hole rotates, there is no sheer forces. Everything moves in sync. Not that I would know. Time is probably just a human construct .

      • Few if any scientific theories are perfect, ie without any problems, but IMO the BBT adequately explains the CMB radiation, so doesn’t really need an alternative. Just further development.

        It’s also neat that obscure physicists had predicted the CMB fairly closely, long before its discovery and while the Steady State Theory was the consensus favorite. Furthermore, the CMB would have been found by those looking for it because of the predictions, rather than accidentally by Bell Labs researchers, soon had the serendipitous discoverers not beat the purposeful lookers to the draw.

      • Chimp
        Indeed Steven Weinberg in “The first three minutes” considers it strange that there wasn’t more effort to find the CMB, since cosmology in the 50’s or even 40’s predicted it. Apparently experimentalists were unduly skeptical that it could be detected while theorists did not have the confidence to call the search for it. So in the end it was stumbled upon by radio engineers Penzias and Wilson.

      • Ptolemy,

        IIRC, however, some Russian scientists in late ’50s or early ’60s rediscovered the American theoreticians’ predictions (~5 K) from the late ’40s or early ’50s and publicized it, leading to some experimentalists to start to set up detectors, about the same time that Penzias and Wilson stumbled onto it (~2.75 K).

        I like to think about the brief interval (some thousands of years, maybe) during which the early universe was cozy, ie, say, 60 to 80 degrees F. Dunno what matter if any existed then beyond maybe hydrogen atoms.

      • According to Weinberg, it was Zeldovich in Russia who picked up the scent of the CMB from the theoretical work of Alpher and Herman in 1953. But by that time Penzias and Wilson (unaware of Alpher and Herman’s predictions) had already started cleaning pidgeon poo out of the Holmdel radio antenna and trying to measure radio emissions from space. According to Weinberg it was the breakdown in communication between theorists and experimentalists that probably delayed this discovery by a decade.

    • Chimp wrote: “Hard to come up with a convincing alternative explanation other than the BBT for the CMB and its red shift.”

      I’ve been well brainwashed in the Big Bang Theory, and have a hard time setting it aside. But I’ve always wondered why anyone would think that if something happened once, that it therefore could never happen again? If ongoing expansion in parts of the universe is real, wouldn’t this explain some areas of sky where we see blue shifted light?

    • To my mind, it is very interesting that all these comments take no issue with the points I raise.

      By the way, Edwin Hubble did not agree that the distance red shift was a result of the Doppler effect. He had arguments to disprove that assumption. (I read his paper, but can’t recall more detail.)

  26. ‘So it is quite possible that we are being misled and that the apparent manifestation of dark energy is a consequence of analysing the data in an oversimplified theoretical model – one that was in fact constructed in the 1930s, long before there was any real data…”

    Shit, noooooooooooooo! How can that possibly be?!?!?!?

    Oh, by the way – /Sarc off

  27. Help me out here
    Dark matter is needed to slow the universe’s expansion.
    Dark energy is needed to speed up the universe’s expansion?!
    Why not let them just cancel eachother out?
    Or else merge them together into “dark fudge” – the extra something needed to make the maths work while protecting our initial assumptions.

  28. As the entire Big Band model is based on the assumption that red-Chshifting of light from distant stars is from their motion away from us, the Doppler Effect, it begs the question of why they ignore the redshifting of light as it climbs out of a stars gravity well. The more massive the star, the greater the redshift. Their minds only recognize this effect when talking about black holes which suddenly redshift everything. With the likelihood that balck holes do not exist and that redshifting is first and foremost caused by gravitation effects, the Big Bang model is sreiously flawed. A steady state universe is much more likely and it does not call for the fabrication of Black, matter, black energy, and black forces—a whole new balck pysics that is supposedly undetectable. How great to have an undetectable major aspect of the universe that will require large grants forever, because they will never find what they seek but they know (believe, have faith) it is there.

    • higley, if the redshift was gravitational rather than from expansion of the universe then distant galaxies would have the same redshift as nearby galaxies of the same mass.

    • @higley7 “A steady state universe is much more likely and it does not call for the fabrication of Black, matter, black energy, and black forces—a whole new balck pysics that is supposedly undetectable.”

      If you want a static universe, you’ll have to introduce an extra term into Einstein’s field equations – a sort of cosmological constant. Oh, wait … already been done! It used to be called a … cosmological constant. Now it’s on the other side of the equals sign and it’s called dark energy. Take your pick.

  29. We have a long way to be able to understand all these issues.

    My guess is that it will turn out to be very different that we currently imagine.

    Dark Matter alone such a conundrum because every 100 experiments that has been tried to detect it has found nothing.

    One issue which has not been taken into account properly in all the explanations I have heard is that gravity only propagates at the speed of light. The stars on the far side of the galaxy are exerting a gravitational influence on our solar system based on where they were 100,000 years ago, not today. Other galaxies are exerting a gravitational influence on our galaxy from where they were as much as 13 billion years ago. Surely this changes things.

    • I think it was the late Tom Van Flandern who performed calculations of orbital stability based on the idea that gravitation propagated at the speed of light, and he arrived at the result that we should be seeing the effects of such instability…which we don’t. His estimate for the minimum speed of gravity was much faster than light (if not instantaneous).

  30. Reblogged this on gottadobetterthanthis and commented:
    This is important. Dark energy cannot be explained with invoking magic, at least not so far. If the expansion rate of the universe is not increasing, there seems to be no dark energy and no need for the magic. Seems like progress, or at least acknowledgement that we may not be on the right track with it.

  31. ‘The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate — or is it?

    Five years ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, in the late 1990s, that the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace.’
    _______________________________________

    Easy now – ain’t it 3 questions:

    a) accelerating expansion or

    b) still accelerating expansion and then

    c) why and to what extension still expanding expansion.

  32. What causes “action at a distance”, i.e. the influence of CHARGE (+ and -)??? What causes a MAGNETIC FORCE line? What is the basic nature of the “Yukka Force” the mysterious force that topples charge repulsion and allows multi bodies nuclei to exist? The ONLY person I ever found who has tried in the least bit to answer these with other than “hand waving” was Richard Feynmann . Then there is this: http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/OrianiRAenergeticp.pdf Since CR-39 is used for detecting environmental RADON gas, since there is NO OTHER SOURCE that could account for 300 particles hitting a 2 mm by 2 mm piece of CR-39, and leaving tracks pointing to a central source. (With some 40 tracks on another 2 mm by 2mm piece on the “other side” of the source, the implication is that of a burst of 300,000 alpha particles at one time..from ???? where. Rather than realizing the huge implications of this, Dr. Oriani has been dismissed as a “aging crank”. Here is a tribute to him in “Corrosion Research” magazine. I might quickly point out that the list of about 30 publications is a subset of the 300 some publications made during his life in electrochemistry. But then again, he’s obviously a quack, working on “Cold Fusion”…which of COURSE the hoity toits of Physics have “proven” does not exist. To their peril!

  33. And easy now 2 –

    ‘Indeed, vacuum energy is something of which we have absolutely no understanding in fundamental theory.’
    _____________________________________

    maybe here’s a reverse of anthropocentric view interesting:

    not an energy concentrated amongst our locale expands the visible universe around us:

    but the visible universe around us ‘falls’ into an heavier outer realm we haven’t the sensors to detect / except, of course, the recognition of expanding /.

    • I thought about this when I was much younger.
      I realized that if the space the galaxies are imbedded in were falling and contracting, instead of expanding, objects ahead of or and behind us would be getting more distant. But objects perpendicular to these directions would be getting closer.

  34. Anyway I can’t find an argument in that study contradicting the state of the art.

    Glad to get corrected / enriched – Hans

  35. Without taking into account the effects of electro magnetism and the effects of charged plasma, etc and so forth, much of what passes for bedrock knowledge is mostly just guesswork based on potentially flawed assumptions.

  36. Climatology based upon a 5 sigma, hell 3 sigma would change everything and alarmists know it. Much of this so called science is CRAP. Hockey anyone! Shit, the IPCC uses the, well…, what do you think, 66%, 75%, 90%, 95% model for significance!!! No no no, I bet it is at least 95% and my brother Vito is willing to bet 10 grand on it! SOLD, 95% it is! That’ll make those Deniers squirm :-). Data, we don’t need no stinkin data!

  37. Right or wrong the fact they can publicly question the established theory make it science not the sort of quackery that claims it is both science and beyond question as climate charlatans do.

  38. Narlikar’s theory, while mathematically complex, is simple in theory. You need only to assume that mass changes with time, and vice versa. And all the creationist myths of the postmodern cosmology disappear like wisps of reeking vapor.

  39. A quote from the field of human paleontology.

    “It’s surprising how often researchers find the very fossils which happen to fit their pre-existing theory.”

    • Not just palaeontology. The planet Vulcan was surmised to explain the peculiarities in the orbit of Mercury. The theorists predicted where it ought to be at certain times, and the astronomers “discovered” it … about 6 times IIRC! A “flaw” of human nature perhaps? If you’re convinced of something you’ll eventually “find” it.

  40. I really get a kick out of dark matter and dark energy. These concepts remind me of the “variable correction factor” we used in engineering school. This was the number that could be added, subtracted, multiplied or divided to your answer to get the answer the prof wanted. In short, classic equations(Newton or Einstein) for the force of gravity on mass didn’t balance so the equations were changed by arbitrarily introducing dark matter mass or dark energy no evidence for either.

  41. Objects in the curved mirror of our perception are closer than they appear.
    Also, the farther they are, the faster they seem to recede as we move along our local timeline.
    Today’s cosmology is tomorrow’s belly laughter.

  42. Many years ago, I (and I find I use this phrase more and more frequently these day – a phenomenon caused by global warming, no doubt) read a science fiction story in which an expedition arrived at the edge of the universe and found that the universe is entirely surrounded by a brick wall. A notice on the wall said that the universe ended here, and that there was nothing on the other side. A coin-operated viewing device set into the wall enabled the expedition members to look through and see, as advertised, nothing.

    Since it was a good story, I decided to adopt that picture of the universe as the one I would use in my daily life. I have never had cause to regret that decision.

  43. I think the title is misleading and unfair to physics “standard models”, which is what is being misinterpreted as “settled science”, in this case the “standard model of cosmology”, the “Big Bang model” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang .

    If one looks at the history of building up standard models one finds continuous checks and modifications to include new observations , and a continuous check for falsifications is going on both experimentally and theoretically. Standard models in physics are mathematical models that fit existing data and observations and predict new areas for searches, in order to check for validations. Even one false prediction rings bells and starts new experiments. It is why the LHC was built , why new astronomical detectors in space are planned,not just for validation , but for the possible unexpected new data that may falsify irrevocably the standard model, or at least force it into mathematically consistent modifications.

    When an ongoing expansion was announced, the model was modified by the introduction of the concept of dark energy , that is all. If better measurements falsify the numbers , that is that, the model will change again. There are no holy cows in physics.

    This is in contrast with the “settled science” of climate change, which has “morphed” from “global warming”. The innumerable falsifications of global warming forced a fuzzier model on the climate “science” by the believers who wanted confirmation of their faith and found semantics as a way of keeping faith. “settled” has nothing to do with “science” and everything to do with a religious like mental state of people calling themselves scientists. This has not happened to physics which is a strict discipline.

    Cranks exist in physics too, but they are a minority, the peer review method still works , thank God. If data change the standard cosmological model , so be it. At the moment the statistical errors of the new analysis are not definitive, and one has to wait for new data. If the Nobel committee was precipitate, so be it. It is not the Pope of physics.

    So all the physics “standard models” are not “settled science”, they are there to be tested again and again for validation in the search for new phenomena and new theories in understanding the cosmos.

    • Dear Anna,
      I really recommend reading the work of Halton Arp. It is all a body of observational evidence that does not fit the standard cosmological model. He was so at loggerheads with the traditionalists that he was denied observation time and had to move to Germany to continue working. So, don’t be too lofty about the self-correction of modern astrophysics. It (along with geophysics) has its own consensus and altar that must be served.

  44. …which is why even accepted and ‘well-established’ scientific conclusions need to be reassessed by independent investigators.

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