Newport Beach at Sunset in 2007, the day someone argued to the National Research Council that "dark energy" would be very bad for science. Along with a changing speed of light, another prediction has come true.
The term "dark energy" has started to slowly fade. Yesterday August 13 a decadal survey on the future of astronomy was released by the US National Academy of Sciences. The report recommends a Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST) as a priority Space mission to be launched around 2020. WFIRST would be a 1.5 meter instrument remarkably similar to the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) studied for years by the US Department of Energy. The term "dark energy" is gone from the mission's name. WFIRST's mission will be to search for terrestrial planets around other solar systems, and look for "dark energy" on the way. This hedges everyone's bet when they admit that dark energy doesn't exist. Nature.com article.
At one time "dark energy" was the hottest ticket in science. An ambitious JDEM would launch around 2009 to find its equation of state. The hypothetical DE has not led to solution, but rather a divergence of speculative ideas. Even if the JDEM were launched, it would not return a single particle, just an "equation of state" which could easily be explained by a changing speed of light. First the DE researchers split into 3 competing camps, each with its own Principal Investigator (PI), each proposing a different mission. (Remember SNAP and DESTINY? Read The Dark Side
In September 2008 NASA and DOE tried to bring the 3 teams together for a combined proposal. The PI hopefuls were reduced to advisors in the new plan. The merged mission looked so expensive that NASA asked ESA to contribute. DOE, feeling jilted for the Europeans, dropped out and pursued their own experiment. When all this mate-swapping was finished, the alphabet soup agencies were back to three competing proposals.
Nature.com reported in 2009, Dark Energy Rips Cosmos and Agencies.
DE was called by Nature.com a "fudge factor." As for JDEM, the article quoted, "This is an example of a satellite blowing up before it gets built." In addition to a divergence of speculative ideas, DE has led to splits in science. Cost of the proposed mission has risen from 600 million to at least 1.6 billion US.
As readers know, "dark energy" is not a repulsive force, but an effect created by a changing speed of light. It can be predicted by a simple algebraic equation, too simple for scientists to figure out. For the solution, check the Nature.com physics blogs.
Just beneath FQXi is a little blog known by Nature as "GM=tc^3." It's not the same as a paper in Nature, but it is very popular blog!
Labels: dark energy, speed of light