Saturday, December 18, 2010

Running Rings Around Inflation

More people are getting tired of old cosmologies. The old inflationary paradigm proposed that the early Universe expanded at warp speed, many times faster than light. The distinguished Roger Penrose of Oxford has long been a critic of inflation. When others claimed that the Cosmic Microwave Background somehow "proves" inflation, Penrose wrote "In my opinion, we must be exceedingly cautious about claims of this kind--even if seemingly supported by high-quality experimental results. These are frequently analysed from the perspective of some fashionable theory." Penrose prefers to work on cyclic cosmologies, where the Universe recycles itself over billions of years.

In November Penrose and Vahe Gurzadyan claimed to have discovered ring formations in the CMB. They interpret these splashes in the cosmic pond as evidence of explosions in a previous Universe. Penrose sees the rings as supporting his cyclic cosmology. Other cosmologists claim that such rings are just the result of events in our own Universe. The controversy shows that not everyone believes in the mainstream cosmology.

More than 30 years after it was first proposed, the inflationary paradigm has not led to a compelling theory. 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. Inflation can never be proven--no human experiment can time-travel to the first 10^{-33} seconds to observe inflation in action, or even approach the titanic energies so near the Big Bang. The paradigm has created a cottage industry of competing theories, none of which can be proven soon. Physicist Paul Steinhardt, one of inflation's original architects, has abandoned the paradigm and now also works on cyclic cosmologies.

At one time NASA's Beyond Einstein program included an "inflation probe," an unspecified Space experiment to search for inflation's signature. Scientists could not agree what form such an experiment could take. After much argument, Beyond Einstein was concentrated on a Joint Dark Energy Mission, which itself has little chance of ever flying. Ambitious Space experiments involving inflation have led to naught.

In contrast, a cosmology where the speed of light was much faster can be tested today, for it also predicts that c continues to slow. As methods of measurement become more precise, such a surprising prediction can be tested. Experiments showing a c change would be the death knell for the inflationary paradigm. With their idea receding, inflation's proponents are ready to blow up.

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Blogger Ulla said...

Lubos had his own view.

We don't even know what time is in physical terms! It is related to decay of matter, or decoherence (part of the holism). In the quantum mechanics there is no time, so past and future and present are messed up. The future can invoke on present time even, as Nielsen suggested? He was spit on. Now penrose and Bogdanov brothers figure together? What a world!
The survival of information in black holes??? Etc, etc.

1:14 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Hi ulla: Since c and h may vary, we may be on the way to solving the thermodynamic "arrow of time." The uncertainties given by Planck value h may increase with time. The cosmological arrow of time is already solved, the Universe expands with time.

6:57 AM  
Blogger DV said...

Greetings, Lady L:

I could use your assistance if you will be so kind.

I have mentioned to a few people that inflation violates the speed of light limitation, and they have countered that the limitation applies to objects traveling through space, but not space itself.

This seemed to beg the following question: what about the entire universe inflating as claimed by the theory? Wouldn't this impact the matter even if space is somehow not affected by the limitation?

Finally I came across a "partial response" via Paul Davies' "The Goldilocks Enigma." On page 60 of the paperback edition, Davies admits/claims that all of the matter prior to the inflationary period would be "diluted to a negligible density" by inflation, but he then goes on to write that the extra energy (wherever that came from) stored up via inflation would end up as heat, and that such heat is more than enough to "create" all of the 10^50 tons of matter in the observable universe. He did not state where the extra heat beyond what was needed to create the matter went.

Your insights concerning these and similar claims will be greatly appreciated as I am also battling away in favor of the light speed drop and so on, so more ammunition is needed to counter the claims set forth above.

Many thanks!


1:35 PM  
Blogger Piotr Lak. said...

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1:54 AM  

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