Yesterday's press conference would have been a snooze except for the brilliant discovery that luminosity of fireflies is constant, just like the speed of light. I haven't petted any fireflies lately (sorry Lubos) but in August found a spacecraft from the series FIREFLY. This photo is courtesy of Ariel Ambulance, a group dedicated to saving and restoring Firefly props. Mal and his crew fight impossible odds battling dark forces in the Universe.
Many of us were inspired to enter science by watching shows like this one on the telly. We admired the heroes and heroines boldly going where none had dared go before, fighting impossible odds and hostile aliens. We saw them succeeed through courage and teamwork. Finally we cheered as they made discoveries about the Universe.
If we do not take a stand, "dark energy" will dominate cosmology for centuries, like Ptolemy's epicycles. How many lives were wasted studying epicycles? How many centuries will "dark energy" delay our understanding? If we succeed, our children will understand the Universe in a single equation.
Clifford Johnson of Asymptotia (formerly of Cosmic Variance) also expressed doubts about the press release.
"My understanding is that they are seeing a small be still significant effect of the Dark Energy's repulsive component, and I'm guessing that they are finding that it is consistent with that which you should expect (although way smaller than the late time effect) from those earlier times. Presumably they are also using the known flatness of the universe (from WMAP, etc), which presumably has not changed, as another tool in their analysis. At this point, I must give up, since I have not seen a graph, seen analysis (which I would not be an expert on anyway... I'd hand it to a colleague I trust), etc... I'm inferring this from the press release."
Scientists are unsure about "dark energy." Clifford repeats what I hear from many, "I don't really understand the data but the investigators told me so." The only "proof" of DE is the mantra of scientists repeating statements of others. Remember the Emperor's New Clothes. Things get frustrating sometimes, but yesterday's press conference shows how desperate DE proponents are. It is time for a better idea.
Today's Cassini photo shows Saturn's moon Prometheus interacting with the F Ring. Prometheus and Pandora are "shepherd moons" accompanying the ring. Prometheus has the lowest measured density of any solar system object, only 0.27 g/cc. That is barely 1/4 the density of liquid water. These moons exist inside the Roche Limit, within which liquid objects are supposed to be torn apart by tidal forces.
It is very odd that moons with less density than liquid exist where liquid objects should not exist. Something is holding them together. Note how the particles spiral toward the moon in a discrete line as if following magnetic field lines. Small moons of rock or ice do not produce magnetic fields, but a singularity will.