Monday, April 09, 2012

"Dark Energy" Goes Begging

At the American Physical Society (APS) April meeting in Atlanta, physicist Saul Perlmutter again argued for more dollars to find hypothetical "dark energy". In 2011 Saul, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess split the Nobel Prize for claiming to discover DE. Unsatisfied with a measly 1.4 million dollar prize, they want 1000 times more money for a Space mission--once called SNAP, later JDEM, now WFIRST. Because of delays to the James Webb Space Telescope, WFIRST or anything like it will not fly until 2025 if ever. Nobel Prize or not, there is very little public support for "dark energy".

A supernova discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope on January 25, 2012 has been named by Adam Riess and his team at Space Telescope Science Institute for Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. This has led many to complain that only the International Astronomical Union can name an astronomical object. Keith Cowing of NASAWATCH called it Shameless Kissing Up to Congress at STSci. Nobel holder Adam Riess chose to defend himself in comments on Keith's blog post, with a supporting comment from Tod Lauer. Naming an exploding star for a sitting US Senator does seem like a desperate bid to curry a woman's favor.

The claim of "dark energy" rests on one main line of evidence, redshifts of Type Ia supernovae. Redshifts of distant objects increase linearly with distance, indicating expansion of the Universe. supernova redshifts appear to increase non-linearly, leading to speculation about acceleration and "dark" energies. A slowing speed of light, predicted by the simple equation GM=tc^3, fits the supernova redshifts precisely. The answer to the DE mystery lies not in darkness, but in light. If Nobel Prize winners are smart, why haven't they figured this out?

UPDATE: In the past day this story and outrage has spread to websites like the Daily Caller:

A New Way To Bribe Congress

"NASA’s pathetic move to name the Hubble data archive after the Senator (Mikulski) who controls their appropriations."

Also the conservative National Review:

Shameless Politicians Continued

One quarter of a Nobel Prize is still a great honor, one that no woman has received since 1963. Let us hope it is not sullied.

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Blogger Stephen said...

there is very little public support for "dark energy". - sounds disingenuous to me.

Even at the astronomy club, there is very little knowledge of "dark energy". That's because the phenomenon and evidence are so young. It's pretty easy to describe the evidence. It's not so easy to say much about what it means. That's because of the hundreds of ideas of what it might be, the best of them mismatch the data by over a hundred orders of magnitude. The public is hardly a good choice as an authority on such a subject. Such a statement is incredibly disingenuous.

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