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?