The cover of this month's ASTRONOMY
magazine asks: Is the Big Bang In Trouble? This follows last year's article from NEW SCIENTIST, Why the Big Bang is Facing Its Toughest Test.
A growing body of evidence has made astronomers doubt today's model of cosmology. This has led to ad hoc fixes like "inflation" and "dark energy." The need for such speculative forces shows that the standard model desperately needs help.
Once upon a time most astronomers believed that the universe was eternal and unchanging, a steady state. Einstein in 1917 thought the universe was static, and added a repulsive "cosmological constant" to keep it from collapsing under its own gravity. The idea that the everything expanded from a tiny point was derided as a "Big Bang." After years of evidence--redshift of galaxies and the 2.7 K microwave background--most scientists agreed that the universe expanded from a hotter, denser state.
One key bit of evidence was the redshift of galaxies, increasing linearly with distance. While the evidence was debated, some astronomers proposed a "tired-light" hypothesis. According to this idea, the universe is static but light is slowing at such a high rate that it makes the galaxies appear to recede. This is quite different from the modern c change. Expansion of the universe is predicted by R = ct. Gravity causes this expansion to slow, predicting that c slows according to GM=tc^3. This tiny change is not enough to cause redshifts, but enough to make redshifts appear to accelerate.
The cosmic microwave background is key evidence for a Big Bang, but it also shows that Big Bang theory is incomplete. When one looks at the CMB (above), large areas of the sky have reached thermal equilibrium. This indicates that those areas could communicate faster than today's speed of light. Just as retrograde motion of planets shows that they orbit something other than Earth, uniformity in the CMB indicates that the speed of light was once much higher.
To explain CMB uniformity and other discrepancies, physicists proposed that the universe "inflated" at warp speed, many times faster than light. Inflation would violate both the First Law of Thermodynamics (conservation of energy) and Relativity's stipulation that nothing travels faster than light. This paradigm relies upon a repulsive "inflaton" causing accelerated expansion. Though "inflation" has been subject of 30 years study, no one has a clue how nature could move faster than light.
Evidence from Type IA supernovae indicated that redshifts accelerate related to c, as can be predicted from GM=tc^3. Since physicists assume that c is constant, they concluded that the universe is accelerating. This would also violate the First Law of Thermodynamics, so physicists inferred another repulsive "dark energy" causing acceleration. Like inflation, nothing resembling DE has ever been observed in the laboratory. With a fixed speed of light, the standard Big Bang needs both "inflation" and "dark energy" to explain observations.
Problems with the Big Bang have led some to doubt it entirely. ASTRONOMY features an article by physicist Paul Steinhardt: "Why the Universe Had No Beginning." Steinhardt was once a follower of inflation, but became tired of the utter lack of evidence. His article deals with cyclic universes, and idea that does away with the need for inflation.
The magazine points out many problems with cosmology's standard model. They point out the anisotropies in the CMB, which ought to spell doom for inflation. The inflationary paradigm predicts that the universe is flat, like the Earth. Temperature fluctuations are the same at all wavelengths. In fact fluctuations are nearly zero for angles beyond 60 degrees, exactly as predicted for a universe of scale R = ct. This evidence, which should doom inflation, has been blithely ignored.
Eventually the old cosmology, with its ad hoc fixes of inflation and :"dark energy," will collapse under the weight of its epicycles. We can end with the common-sense view of columnist Bog Berman. His comments on physics may apply to cosmology, a field that has been invaded by physicists and their methods:
"Most of us already are bored with today's mind-numbing list of particles. The Large Hadron Collider will surely discover many more bits of evanescent flotsam. To what end? Bosons, meson, pions, kaons, anti-quarks, J-particles--how much of this can we handle? Desperate theorists keep hoping for the Higgs Boson and other ultimate answers. A Grand Unified Theory of Everything. Yeah, right. Any day now."
Labels: cosmology, physics