Flat Universe Flattens Twisted Logic

The observed universe is flat. I will explain what it means in practice, before going into a bit of theory. Including a sickle move through the lamentable precedent of the heliocentric system.

Basically, when we look at a galaxy which is very very very far away, it appears to have the same size as it should have considering its distance. Ah, yes, because we can determine the distance of a very very remote galaxy, or so we think, by looking at its red shift (how much redder it looks than what it would be if it were next door).

This apparently innocuous set-up creates lots of problems for the ruling cosmological theory, the Big Noise Bang. The barnacles attached to the Big Noise, thousands of professional cosmologists, would not be happy to see their ship sink, so they insist it’s doing all right. Yet I am dancing all around with the facts, and, should they read me carefully, they would be less sanguine about the respect they will enjoy, in the fullness of time.

Gravitational Lensing. Lensing Without Gravitation Would Signal Curvature. So Would Apparent Size Variations. Neither Is Observed, However far We Look.

Gravitational Lensing. Lensing Without Gravitation Would Signal Curvature. So Would Apparent Size Variations. Neither Is Observed, However far We Look.

The Big Noise cosmologists may well be wrong, because they suppose plenty of things for their model. All too many things, some of them, pretty weird. I get to the same observations, while being much more parsimonious with my hypotheses.

We have seen it all before, this conflict between common sense , and complicated absurdities by great priests, themselves at the service of higher authorities. Remember the Ptolemaic system? That claimed the Sun rotated around Earth. That absurdity ruled for around 15 centuries


Cosmology is serious business:

The Ptolemaic System Was An Obese Lie, Thus Contradicting It, A Capital Crime:

The bigger the lie, the greater the authority. So great authority loves big lies: it is a training ground for the feeble minds which make authority so great.

The greatest philosopher of the Fourteenth Century, and the greatest physicist of the Middle Ages, the Parisian Johannes Buridanus, sent the Ptolemaic system to the bottom of the sea (1320s CE).

However Jean Buridan, adviser to 4 kings, and head of the University of Paris, did not want to be burned alive. So Buridan presented all his new physics and cosmology as something “supporters” of the point of view that “authority does not demonstrate” were talking about (he named no names).

Buridan believed that the Earth turned on itself each day, and around the sun in a year, that the arrow would fall at the same point, because of his own theory of impetus. Etc. It’s all very clear, and some of it can even be read. (In this extract Buridan supports geocentrism; in later extracts, he concludes he cannot be distinguished from heliocentrism observationally; a full study of Buridan is not extant. Some of the later arguments of Buridan are found in Oresme.)

Even the ship example used by Galileo, 300 years later, to demonstrate the undetectability of uniform motion is Buridan’s invention, for the same purpose (Buridan’s student, bishop Oresme wrote about it too).

The Catholic Church, supported by King Plutocrat Louis XI, made reading Buridan a capital crime in 1473 CE. Buridan’s cosmology was posthumously re-amplified by his student and (self) publicist, the dying Abbot Copernicus.

That fancy, the heliocentric system, was, on the face of it, quite ridiculous: Buridan said the Earth was “tiny” so it was only understandable that the tiny thing would rotate on itself, while enormous thing would stay put.


Authorities Love Systems Which Lie And Make No Sense:

Why the heliocentric system, was entertained so long explains much of the enthusiasm for the Big Bang. The psychology is similar: an obscure set of ideas was made more hermetic by computations nobody understands. Actually, it’s Plato who launched the Big Ptolemaic Noise, six centuries prior to Ptolemy’s efforts.

Believing in the heliocentric system was good training for submitting to stupid authority, and learning to become non-critical.

But let’s go back to flatness.

Basic Math Of Flatness:

Our universe of stars, clouds, and galaxies, is three dimensional (as I often talk of high dimensions, see note: the “3” maybe an average of the “many”).

Geometries can be flat (a plane) or spherical (aka “elliptic”; as on a round planet), or “hyperbolic” (a saddle).

A mighty theorem (Perelman-Thurston; see technical note on mathematical background) implies that astronomically plausible non-flat geometries contain flat, spherical or hyperbolic elements.

I will simplify further.

Geometries are determined by their geodesics (the shortest paths). At least locally.

A non-flat universe means that that some perspective can be found so that two neighboring geodesics will either converge or diverge.

For a proof, just look at a sphere, or a saddle; the geodesics can be determined by pulling a string between two points, making the shortest paths. They are the greatest circles in the case of a sphere. Notice that the distances between two nearby strings, once pulled to make geodesics, vary. The big math proof, with equations, does not say anything more.

No Empty Space Lensing, No Curvature:

In space, geodesics are paths followed by light. If the universe is not flat, light will either diverge, or converge, as if space itself was a lens. This means that a galaxy, or a galactic cluster, will appear bigger, or smaller, than it should.

Some may object that lensing in space is well known, and is even used to look at the furthest galaxies. However that lensing is due to gravity slowing down, and bending light, as happens with light grazing the sun. That’s called gravitational lensing. Entire galactic clusters are known to operate as giant lenses.

If one saw lensing, with nothing in between, the lensing would not be gravitational and the universe would not be flat.

But so far, this has not been observed.

A perfectly flat universe means global curvature zero. However the basic idea of the Einstein Field Equation (EFE) is:


Actually, this equation is the basic idea, thus the ultimate simplification. As it is, it cannot work without further complications, because the object on the left has much higher dimension than the 10 dimensional tensor on the right; so one has to simplify the curvature first). The real equation is more like:

Function of Curvature = Mass-Energy-Momentum

There are a lot of mathematical details to figure out, to make that basic idea fit in. It took many stupendous mathematicians and physicists many years working together frantically to figure them out. In particular, Einstein and Hilbert cooperated intensely, helped by many collaborators… And the initial idea comes from the mathematician/physicist/philosopher Riemann (1866). So it took 60 years to make the idea work, and one should not expect casual readers to get the ideas in 60 lines, let alone 60 seconds.

An obvious (sort of) prediction was that, as the Mass-Energy of the universe is not zero (it’s full of galaxies, which have mass, and energy), then the curvature could not be zero. But then, if curvature (of the space-time of the universe) is not zero, then the universe has got to be moving.

Revolted by a moving universe, Einstein then added another curvature term, Lg. Lg counterbalanced Mass-Energy-Momentum, and gave a static (but unstable) universe.

Thus Einstein did not predict what the astronomers were starting to observe, namely the expansion of the universe. Einstein abandoned L (“Lambda”), calling it the “biggest blunder [he] ever made”.

(According to me, he made a much graver error in 1905.)


Dark Energy Flattens Cosmological Logic:

Ninety years later, the most basic supernovas were studied. They arise in binary systems: a star transfers part of itself to its companion, a super hot white dwarf. It is a bit like transferring gasoline on an amber: when enough mass has been transferred to Dwarf, the pressure and heat in the depth is just right for thermonuclear fusion to re-ignite explosively. It happens in exactly the same way always (although some argue about this). So these Type 1a supernovae are viewed as candles always of the same luminosity.

Large surveys (rejecting some explosion viewed as outliers) concluded that far-away Type 1a explosions were weaker than the Hubble law of expansion predicted. And the further one looked, the more the 1a explosions faded.

The conclusion was drawn that the universe expanded faster than the old model of Hubble and Einstein’s Gravitation theory predicted.

Greater expansion meant greater energy, and its source was not clear, so it was named DARK ENERGY.

Ironically to describe the simplest way to describe it was just to re-introduce the Lg term Einstein had introduced and then rejected, while he blundered about clumsily.


Your Humble Servant Flattens All:

It remains that the original theory of Einstein requires a very fine tuning of parameters to make our universe explode into its present very flat state in a bit less than 14 billion years. It also requires a supplementary explosion, called “Cosmological Inflation”.

I don’t have this problem.

I just wipe Einstein and his cohorts clean. I am master of my own soul. They have two Cosmological Inflations. I have just one, the one that is observed.

And my version of the universe can be 100 billion years old, or more.

I don’t confuse gravitation and revolution, inflation and what not. The Einstein Field Equations are correct, I just don’t apply them to the universe.

Simple does it.

Making something complicated simply because it allows to “shut and calculate” (the philosophical doctrine of contemporary physics) has been seen before. This was the trap into which Ancient Greek astronomy fell, making ever more sophisticated versions of the Ptolemaic system.

We should avoid duplicating our forebears’ mistakes.

Patrice Ayme’

Mathematical Note:

That I consider the universe three dimensional may sound as a strange admission, as I always advocate all sorts of dimensions, from the brain to fundamental physics. But not so: just view the three dimensional aspect as an… average.

(Here I am going to talk as a common physicist or mathematician, and elide the tweaking of fundamental axioms of topology and logic that I am wont to engage in, because I want to present the simplest picture.)

More precisely, this is what happens in two dimensions. In one dimension, the line or circle, there is just one geometry.

The USA mathematician Thurston launched a theorem, proven by the Russian Perelman, which showed there were just eight fundamental geometries in three dimensions.

(Disgusted by the dog eat dog attitude of famous mathematicians, some of whom I personally know, Perelman refused prizes, and abandoned math; I do share Perelman’s indignation, and then, more. Austerity, as imposed by plutocrats, has made even mathematicians like rats, prone to devour the innocent. The problem is not just in physics.)


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20 Responses to “Flat Universe Flattens Twisted Logic”

  1. ianmillerblog Says:

    There is a big resistance to change from the main-stream model, which is usually the first announced. Currently, the model is that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, because type 1A supernovae, that should be standard candles, are dimmer at large red-shift than expected. I remember asking an astrophysicist once whether the luminosity of such explosions could depend on the metallicity of the companion star. Since we see the outer shell only, that would be expected to be mainly the last material from the companion star. The short answer was no, it would make no difference. Subsequently, a paper came out in Science (340, pp170-173) that said there was a dependence on metallicity, with lower metallicity explosions being dimmer. Only relatively close supernovae were considered, so back to an astrophysicist. “That effect has been well understood and was taken into account.” Exactly why the peer review system, of Science did not pick this up was a mystery, but if it were known 20 years before publication, the question then is, how? Now there is another paper (ApJ 803 doi:10.1088/0004-637X/803/1/20) that suggests there are two classes of 1A supernovae, and the older ones are dimmer for another reason. The question now is, will dark energy be questioned, or last? My guess is, not readily for some time.

    Another curious question, for me, is that our earliest measured data is assigned a date of about 300 My after your big bang/noise whatever. Exactly how do they know that period was 300 My? They speculate an immense expansion that for no good reason suddenly stops and settles down to the Hubble rate. Why? I for one am not particularly impressed by this type of theory.

    • gmax Says:

      I think one of Patrice’s points is that this is pretty much like the famous theory that earth rested on a giant who stood on a turtle. Then the Shaman was asked on what the turtle rested. He replied:”Turtles all the way down”.
      Patrice said epicycles were like that (3 epicycles for Mars).

      The time thing is a mystery to me too. They said there were no nucleons how could they measure time?

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      The latter point I made extensively in “100 billion years universe”. Two have a tremendous slow-down in inflation and then a re-acceleration is beyond weird.
      Cosmic Inflation a la Russian, parroted by Guth, an arrivist who never heard of Russia, of course, is the ultimate Deus Ex Machina.

      Some of the Big Noise fanatics have admitted recently that the 300M you speak of could be much much longer. Indeed. As Gmax has it, they have no time.

      On the supernovae sampling: I noticed it too, and it rose my eyebrows. Really a lot. However, I trust the Nobel Committee on that one. All the more as I have long read other analyses that the expansion was non linear, but at least quadratic (Segal).Most experimentalists seem to believe it. With the quick acceleration of our astronomical means, if the 1A acceleration was not there, at all, it should have become long obvious.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      For skepticism on the 1a Supernovae candles, from last week, in a nice essay:
      View story at Medium.com

      • ianmillerblog Says:

        That is an interesting reference, but of course if the metallicity argument is correct, then there will be a continuum, and not just two classes. I am not sure in my own mind how the CMB shows the presence of dark energy. I thought it merely showed the age and expansion, still, I need to see the argument. However, i do not buy the argument that galaxies cluster at 500 MLY apart. Galaxies appear to have relatively continuous distances from us, , e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nearest_galaxies
        and the various sized spirals, and the ellipticals, are all generally considered to arise from galactic collisions.

        What I particularly dislike is the concept that there was a rapid expansion, it slowed down, it steadied, then it is starting to take off again. Where is the cause for the latter? Dark energy will not do it unless there has been an expansion of dark energy, and why that? There is one other point I am concerned about and that is in Ethan’s graph of dimming/red shift. I have seen the data with the uncertainties plotted by a relativistic cosmologist, and the first thing you note is the error bars sallow all sorts of conclusions, in other words, the data is not that robust just on observational grounds (remember you have to know the age of the SN fairly exactly) but there dis another problem. We assume the plot must go through the origin, but on even a casual glance, it does not appear to do so. The accelerated expansion is far from robust when the plot doe not have to go through the origin, although what that means is interesting.

        • gmax Says:

          I thought galaxies were VERY much in some places, and not others, that they made walls and voids, there are TRILLIONS out there

          • ianmillerblog Says:

            Yes, there are voids, and there are strings of galaxies, and intertwining strings of galaxies. What I am objecting to is the statement that there is a regular distance between them, plus or minus something. There are definitely big voids, but I am unconvinced they are regular and circular as implied.

  2. gmax Says:

    If what you propose here you have proposed for a number of years. If it turned out to be true, and all of the BIG NOISE people are wrong, it would be an enormous success for the philosophical method

    Anyway just awesome, true or not. And for people on main street, it looks more true than the big noise

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      You are right, my main reasoning is fully philosophical: I severely reduces the number of hypotheses. And remove the most absurd, the Cosmic Inflation (a Russian invention; not that Russian cosmologists are bad, far from it… Once one has removed Linde, now at Stanford U). I replace with what we have for sure. Nothing too far out, just the opposite.

      • Paul Handover Says:

        But beyond the philosophy if you are correct are there real, tangible consequences and if so what are they?

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Hi Paul! Glad to see you here. Sorry I did not come to LfD recently. Don’t hesitate to tell me when there is an article there I need to read.

          Tangible consequences? Overall the question handled here is what reality is. If my overall vision is right, there will be huge consequences in fundamental physics, and thus, long term, technology.

          More philosophically, if I am right, the tribe of theoretical physicists and cosmologists, have insufficient critical faculties. When Quantum Physics, Relativity and Einsteinian gravitation were evolved, all the participants were highly philosophically minded. They all thought that new philosophy helped them to create new science.

          There was a famous dialogue between Heisenberg and Einstein in the late 1920s, where the latter accused the former to have created a sort of dumb mechanics (the matrix approach to Quantum mechanics), and Werner replied that he had learned from Einstein to put in a physical theory only what could be observed.

          My theory at this point is only a sketch. But of course sketches are what is most important. The best example is Buridan who suggested, seven centuries ago, a whole panoply of sketches (including the arguments repeated by Copernicus, “Galilean” relativity and Newton’s First Law), that is, in my opinion, useful to this day. Some Buridan’s ideas are indeed strikingly modern.

          BTW, if one had told Einstein that the “sort of weird interaction at a distance” he complained about (EPR thought experiment) would explain life on Earth, he would have been aghast. But that is what is unfolding (we have the proof for the chlorophyll molecule)… So the weirdest of the Quantum turns out to be vitally important, literally speaking.

          • Paul Handover Says:

            Thank you. Both your post and your reply are on the fringes of my understanding. But the philosophy is fascinating. I will attempt to muse, philosophically speaking, in a following comment. But first let me re-read your post!

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              Bring it on. Intelligent people come out greater, even from silly questions. Or comments. A little secret is that so called “surfer”, or “hippy” questions are often the best. A “surfer”, a real one invented PCR, and got the Nobel. Practically that Polymerase Chain Reaction is the most practical instrument in biology; that allows to use DNA.

            • Patrice Ayme Says:

              It’s on the fringe of EVERYBODY’s understanding. My own reasoning rests on the Supernovae Survey/Nobel committee being right…

  3. gmax Says:

    Patrice, in the link you posted in an answer to Ian, they say there are 3 ways to check for Dark Energy, and they give the same answer. It’s not just supernovas. Care to elaborate?

  4. Paul Handover Says:

    OK, it seems to me to make more rational sense that the universe is flat. Much more sense.

    But that still implies that there must be, for want of a better description, boundaries. In the same way that we observe ‘edges’ to other galaxies in deep space.

    Is it entirely a gravitational effect that gives our universe a boundary?

    Then moving to the philosophical question. Is there any physical or cosmological process that offers a sense of how our universe came into being?

    I read recently that by 2025 we will be able to determine where in other galaxies life can be found. One can’t even imagine the profound impact that might have on how we see ourselves in the context of other intelligent beings a few parsecs away!

    • ianmillerblog Says:

      I believe the claim was that by 2025 we shall be able to determine whether there is life around some other nearby planets. I doubt that the resolution will be good enough to detect planets in other galaxies, let alone get infrared spectra from them

      • Patrice Ayme Says:

        Yes. At most.
        For other galaxies, forget it.
        Via Lactea, the Milky Way, is a super giant blue galaxy (MY interpretation)… OK, I better add this directly to Paul’s comment…

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Paul: I was planning to answer you thoroughly by a little essay, but time is very short these days… I will look into it.

      As Ian said, the claim is much much much much much much less than that. Actually credits have been refused to do this, to resolve planets in the neighborhood. The tech exists, but money has to go to plutocrats, not astronomers and their telescopes.

      Galaxies: Via Lactea, the Milky Way, is a super giant blue galaxy (MY interpretation)… Milky Way has 50 satellite galaxies, and filaments around. The other enormous galaxy is Andromeda, long believed bigger, but now smaller. Then there is Triangle, the third large galaxy of the Local Group. Other galaxies belong to far out groups.

      Point is that Milky Way is so enormously supergiant, it makes no sense to look anywhere else. Another outlier arm was just discovered between us and extra-galactic space…

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