Sunday, March 15, 2009

Big Bang Needs Your Help

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."

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Anonymous Matias said...

Great post. Thanks for that.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Qubit said...

Personaly I think to unify Physics, you actually have to unify physics. Seen as its already been done, you can only work out how it happened and that means; it does not need to make any sense!

What ever it was that created the universe needs never to be understood or worked out because we dont need to unify physics.

So technically the Big Bang needs no help at all, mind you if you look at it and its wrong you will have to fix it yourself. Fancy yourself as God?

12:49 PM  
Anonymous Bjoern said...

I won't dispute that the Big Bang Theory isn't perfect and leaves some questions open - but most of the "problems" you mention here aren't really problems.

* You call inflation and dark energy "ad hoc fixes" and "epicycles" - conveniently ignoring that both of these hypotheses have led to new predictions, many of which have been confirmed in the meantime.
Try e. g. looking here:"

* You say that inflation violates the First Law of Thermodynamics (energy conservation). That isn't true. Perhaps you should try reading up on energy and energy conservation in General Relativity bit, e. g. in the famous book by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler (chapter 20), or here:

* You say that inflation violates "Relativity's stipulation that nothing travels faster than light". Again, that is not true. And again, you should try reading up a bit on what exactly (Special and General!) Relativity say about the "traveling faster than light". Try e. g.
(both of these pages are about the usual expansion of the universe, but the arguments presented there apply equally well to inflation).

* You say that an accelerating universe would violate the First Law of Thermodynamics. I don't know how you arrive at that conclusion. And, BTW, the arguments above apply also to an accelerating universe.

* You say that dark energy was "inferred" because an accelerating universe violates the First Law of Thermodynamics. Again, simply not true. Dark Energy was inferred simply because it explains the observations, its invention had little to nothing to do with the First Law of Thermodynamics.

* You complain that nothing like inflation or Dark Energy have ever been observed in the laboratory. First, this complaint is rather strange, coming from a supposed astrophysicist - after all, do you also complain that e. g. nothing like a Supernova has ever been observed in the laboratory? Second, this complaint is not strictly true - the Casimir effect has been observed in the laboratory, an effect showing the presence of zero-point fluctuations in the electrodynamic field. And precisely such fluctuations are a possible explanation for Dark Energy!

* You then write a paragraph claiming that the anisotropies in the CMBR somehow disprove inflation. I can't follow you there at all, since a lot (most, as far as I know) of models for inflation have predicted exactly the type of anisotropies which are observed, including that they are the same at all wavelengths!

Finally: The quote by Bergman at the end shows a deep contempt for particle physics. Do you want to say that you have the same contempt towards most of the cosmologists today?

8:46 AM  
Blogger robert d said...

Big bang - The initial universe was very small, but not infinitely small. It had a surface and an interior. Conventional theory assumes that all parts of the initial universe were acted upon simultaneously. Assume not. Assume that the interior initiated the change with the exterior, or surface following. This condition can be shown under all regimes both real and imagined to better conform to current data – a universe in which the periphery is expanding faster than the interior. Note the inversion of interior and exterior in this conjecture.

The above highlights the real mystery of the universe – space. Energy and mass and the speed of light can all be accounted for rather simplistically once the concept of space is put on a much, much stronger theoretical footing. The most promising working here is currently being done in Bianchi Space Theory.

Although the real work in this field is being done by a 2nd Foundation (Asimov), the discerning reader is directed to Calogero, Heinzle, Lubbe, Tod, Mohanty, & Mishra.

Life is good,


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Blogger Unknown said...

So technically the Big Bang needs no help at all, mind you if you look at it and its wrong you will have to fix it yourself. Fancy yourself as God?Jinekomasti

4:53 AM  

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