Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Beyond Einstein Decision


One week from today is September 5th. At 4 PM EST, the National Research Council will release their report "NASA's Beyond Einstein Program: An Architecture for Implementation." The report is intended to decide which of the five proposed missions (Constellation-X, Laser Interferometer Space Antenna, Joint Dark Energy Mission, Inflation Probe, and Black Hole Finder probe)will fly first. Regardless of the future, this writer is very grateful for the purple BEYOND EINSTEIN pen, which is all a theorist really needs.

Constellation-X is subject of a profile in August's issue of Physics Today. The article points out that the National Academies 2001 Decadal Survey named CON-X as a priority second only to the James Webb Space Telescope. "Constellation-X will also be able to use galaxy clusters to investigate the nature of dark energy with an accuracy comparable to supernova-based studies;" the article contnues, "thus it will also complement ground-based dark energy surveys."

At AAS HEAD and other meetings were hundreds of high-energy astronomers eager to see CON-X launch. Support for JDEM/SNAP is limited to a few physicists based mostly in Berkeley. It is no exaggeration to say that the leadership of SNAP team are not astronomers, but have all their training in physics. Getting a job in particle physics is hard, and "dark energy" allows a way to take astronomy funding. It has also allowed a way to adopt particle physics work habits--big experiments, big collaborations, big budgets, and conclusions based on groupthink. This is how the whole idea of "dark energy" got started.

If JDEM someday flies it will not return a single particle of "dark energy," just an equation of state. This can be found using JWST or other experiments. Even if repulsive "dark energy" exists, it would be so diffuse in Space that it could not power a cell phone. It has not led to a coherent theory, only an endless divergence of speculations. Physicists have been busy crowding the journals with specualtion about "dark energy."

Depending on decisions, pursuit of "dark energy" could delay other missions by years. Even if DE exists, it has no practical use. It will not even lead to a coherent theory, only endless speculation. All of those who read this, is "dark energy" good for science?

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6 Comments:

Blogger alex kaplan said...

It can be possible to create a wormholes with the dark energy,actually stabilize them in order that they will not collapse to black holes

10:29 PM  
Blogger nige said...

Even if repulsive "dark energy" exists, it would be so diffuse in Space that it could not power a cell phone. It has not led to a coherent theory, only an endless divergence of speculations. Physicists have been busy crowding the journals with speculation about "dark energy." - Louise

I agree. The reason why such ideas create so much interest is probably that they lead to so many speculations to fill up the journals.

By contrast, a valuable idea doesn't leave so much room for the mainstream to move in, so it is generally ignored.

I read in Clifford's attack on you and Kea on Asymptotia:

"As I’ve said to both of you before - extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If you make a strong claim, back it up with more than vague suggestions, sloppy reasoning, manifestly wrong interpretations of physical principles, and now, accusations that the person you are arguing with is sexist." - Clifford, comment#18

There is an accidental muddling of two prejudices. Clifford is being wrongly accused of sexism, when really he is probably just guilty of being elitist: if the woman in question has as many citations as Lisa Randall, she gets taken seriously (even if her ideas don't have "extraordinary evidence").

Lisa can publish her ideas on arXiv partly because they fit into the broad string framework of ideas, and partly because she can get them endorsed. It's not a matter of having "extraordinary evidence for extraordinary ideas." There is no "extraordinary evidence" to prove that a deformed extra dimension is the correct ad hoc explanation for why gravity is so weak.

All of Clifford's criticisms can equally be levelled at one of his own areas of special interest, string theory.

He doesn't choose to dismiss out of hand Lisa's ideas because "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" even though physically her ideas may have no extraordinary evidence behind them.

I'm not commenting about this directly on Clifford's Asymptotia since it will only have negative results generally. Clifford is by far the most reasonable string theorist I've ever come across, but I've no doubt that nothing positive will come from arguing with him about hypocrisy.

It does indicate that a very powerful presentation of new ideas is needed to get serious attention. Clifford, I feel, genuinely believes these alternative ideas are insubstantial, and it will require some effort to prove otherwise.

7:23 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

HI all. Alex's positive comments are appreciated too.

For nige: I've been monitoring the blogstorm around Tommaso's post, and noticed that even cvj left himself an "out":

"Maybe in the future you will find wonderful new arguments that will prove us wrong. Great."

Your reading of affairs is quite right. Strings and "dark energy" give people an excuse to write endless papers, get citations and advance careers. This said, I have met the other LR and she has been quite reasonable about the limitations of branes.

That powerful presentation of extraordinary evidence is coming soon.

7:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen arXiv 0708.4013 astro-ph ?
It says in part:
"... (WMAP) ... is marred by anomalies in the low-order multipoles of the distribution. These include a near alignment of the quadrupole and octopole axes ...
astro-ph/0703325 ... showed strong evidence for the alignment of spins of spiral galaxies with their spin vectors preferentially along ... an axis that is close to that of the CMB alignments ...
elliptical galaxies are found to show ... alignment ... The axis along which the elliptical galaxies are aligned is close to that of the spiral galaxy spins and the CMB alignments ...
This is a surprisingly large effect considering the
many factors, such as encounters with other galaxies and gravitational tidal shears, that would
tend to randomize the ellipticities on large scales. ...
the effect is a large-scale property of the universe out to redshifts about 0.20 ...
A large scale cosmic magnetic field acting on protogalaxies in the early stages of galaxy formation seems to provide a possible mechanism for explaining the elliptic and spiral spin alignments and has been proposed as a mechanism for causing the CMB alignments ...".

Could that magnetic field be related to astro-ph 0106281
Magnetic Energy of the Intergalactic Medium [IGM] from Galactic Black Holes
in which Kronberg et al say:
"... the aggregate IGM magnetic energy derived purely from galactic black holes since the first epoch of significant galaxy BH formation is sufficiently large that it will have an important influence on the process of both galaxy and visible structure formation on scales up to [about] 1Mpc. ...".

Tony Smith

7:07 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Interesting stuff, Tony. Back in 2003 WMAP was soun as "proving" a standard cosmology. Since then a lot of people have found anomalies in the CMB. Interesting that the first paper was produced by a single aiuthor.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course DE is worth pursuing. ~70% of the universe is made of it, and we have no clue what the underlying physics is.

10:42 PM  

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