Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Puncturing of Inflation?


How many faces can you recognise in this picture? Unlike other blogs, this one will not ignore alternative ideas but give time to them. In a free society, ideas succeed and fail based upon their merits. Already I have discussed "dark energy". Peter Woit's blog is already devoted to "The Unravelling of String Theory". Today we turn to the inflationary paradigm. Does anyone have better ideas for a title? "Holes in Inflation?" "Blowing Up Inflation?"

One week ago The Australian reported a lively exchange at Cambridge over inflation. I count Alan Guth as a friend, and have a hard time believing that he would use insults. It would be sad if scientists acted like children. Since I have already entertained with monkey pictures, let's cut to the science:

"In the 1970's, Guth was one of those who realised that the Big Bang theory failed to explain how a hot chaotic fireball could become the cool universe with stable clusters of galaxies we see today.

"Rather than challenge the idea that time and space began with the Big Bang, he suggested the new universe had suddenly expanded trillions of times in a millionth of a second. That idea, called inflation, did such a good mathematical job of explaining the shape of the universe that it was adopted far and wide.

"Guth himself has built his career on it. Recently, however, it has become clear that the theory has major flaws. There is, for example, no widely accepted way for physics to explain how such 'inflation' could have happened.

"It also fails to deal with the 1990's discovery of 'dark energy,' the energy field that fills all space and which is now thought to be the cause of the universe's expansion.

"For Turok and others, such failings have become too much to live with. 'The supporters of inflation have become too evangelical. they have no idea why inflation happened but they still believe in it,' he declares."

As I have personally acknowledged to Dr. Guth, inflation is a useful step. It has provided a temporary explanation for observed phenomena. I do not write to tear other people down, for we have enough bad experiences with critics. The structure of science is built not by tearing out its foundations, but by replacing them with better ideas.

Anyone can observe that the planets appearing to move backwards in their paths, and the CMB shows that the early universe expanded faster than the present value of c. According to the inflationary paradigm, the early universe expanded at warp speed, many times faster than light. Such inflation would violate both Special Relativity and the First Law of Thermodynamics. After a quarter century of speculation, this paradigm lacks a mechanism to explain it.

Now we have a theory that is consistent with both Special and General Relativity, providing a bridge between them. CMB and supernova redshift data can be explained more precisely than with competing ideas. A true Theory contains a mechansim explaining why the Universe expands and c slows down. We are limited only by the speed of ideas to spread, which is much slower than light!

Because there is enough ugliness in the world, this blog will continue to build not tear down. NEXT: Given the limits of blogger, I will attempt to describe a solution to the "Einstein Equation".

5 Comments:

Blogger Rae Ann said...

I've always been troubled by the Big Bang from an intuitive perspective. It's very interesting to hear other explanations for that. Thanks!

11:16 AM  
Blogger Paul & Michael said...

Is "Inflation deflation" too simple?

Are you familiar with the Sidney Harris cartoon captioned "The universe before the Big Bang (actual size)"?
It's just a small black dot, and it's not a symmetrical. Is he on to something?

2:57 PM  
Blogger Paul & Michael said...

Sorry, I meant to type:
"and it's not a symmetrical dot."

3:04 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Rae Ann, I hope to make it into something more intuitive.
Hee hee, Paul and Michael. You and Harris may be on to something. At least it is a boundary condition!

4:15 PM  
Anonymous About Medicine Blog said...

There is, for example, no widely accepted way for physics to explain how such 'inflation' could have happened.

9:12 PM  

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