Posts Tagged ‘Cosmology’

With Physics Like That, Who Needs Reality?

June 9, 2015

The quest for reality has been exemplified by science. However:

From a recent New York Times op-ed, “A Crisis at the Edge of Physics:”

“DO physicists need empirical evidence to confirm their theories?

You may think that the answer is an obvious yes, experimental confirmation being the very heart of science. But a growing controversy at the frontiers of physics and cosmology suggests that the situation is not so simple.”

In December 2014 famous physicists George Ellis and Joseph Silk, published in the journal Nature…Scientific Method: Defend the Integrity of Physics…Attempts to exempt speculative theories of the Universe from experimental verification undermine science.”

Science is immensely old. I pointed this out for dogs in “Very Ancient Relationships“. The Ancient Greeks had more than six breeds of cattle which had been evolved in Greece, specifically, to genetically modify them in a suitable manner:

Obtained By Ancient Greece Artificial & Natural Selections

Obtained By Ancient Greece Artificial & Natural Selections

[The Greeks were famous for their mix of natural and artificial selection of cattle.]

Ellis and Silk wrote that:

“This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue — explicitly — that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical. We disagree. As the philosopher of science Karl Popper argued: a theory must be falsifiable to be scientific.

Actually, Ellis and Silk are completely wrong there. The theory that the Earth turned around the Sun, originated by Aristarchus of Samos (a Greek island in sight of Anatolia, presently swamped by refugees). Its competitor was the geocentric theory. However, there was a strong argument against geocentrism: it stretched credulity. Indeed, the Greeks could compute that the Sun was much much larger than the Earth. It made sense that the little thing turned around the big thing as Buridan pointed out (around 1330 CE). To this geocentrists could only reply with silly arguments such as: man and his creator are big, etc.

So Karl Popper was also wrong. In the most spectacular case.

The Heliocentric Theory was a full blown scientific theory, so was the Geocentric Epicycles. However only a careful study of the illumination of the phases of Venus showed definitively that the the latter was wrong. This happened only in the mid-Seventeenth Century.

Ellis and Silk: “Chief among the ‘elegance will suffice’ advocates are some string theorists. Because string theory is supposedly the ‘only game in town’ capable of unifying the four fundamental forces, they believe that it must contain a grain of truth even though it relies on extra dimensions that we can never observe. Some cosmologists, too, are seeking to abandon experimental verification of grand hypotheses that invoke imperceptible domains such as the kaleidoscopic multiverse (comprising myriad universes), the ‘many worlds’ version of quantum reality (in which observations spawn parallel branches of reality) and pre-Big Bang concepts.”

In other words, many leading physicists are arguing for leaving behind the search for evidence, the old fashion way, leaving no stone unturned, just like smart prehistoric men did. Instead:

“These unprovable hypotheses are quite different from those that relate directly to the real world and that are testable through observations — such as the standard model of particle physics and the existence of dark matter and dark energy. As we see it, theoretical physics risks becoming a no-man’s-land between mathematics, physics and philosophy that does not truly meet the requirements of any.

The issue of testability has been lurking for a decade. String theory and multiverse theory have been criticized in popular books1, 2, 3 and articles…. In March 2014, one of the founders of inflation theory, theorist Paul Steinhardt wrote5 in Nature that “the theory of inflationary cosmology is no longer scientific because it is so flexible that it can accommodate any observational result”.

As I said above, Popper was wrong: falsifiability is neither necessary, nor sufficient to qualify a theory as scientific.

Another example of untestable theory was biological evolution through natural selection: they Greeks knew it to be true. One can read the theory explicitly stated in Lucretius’ giant poem about the universe. However the Greeks did not. know how to test it. The only tests they knew were indirect, they had to do with ARTIFICIAL selection.

Still biological evolution was a valid scientific theory, although untestable for millennia, and perhaps even hundreds of thousand of millennia. Many a shaman is bound to have stumbled upon it.

New York Times: “Implicit in such a maneuver is a philosophical question: How are we to determine whether a theory is true if it cannot be validated experimentally? Should we abandon it just because, at a given level of technological capacity, empirical support might be impossible? If not, how long should we wait for such experimental machinery before moving on: ten years? Fifty years? Centuries? …

Are superstrings and the multiverse, painstakingly theorized by hundreds of brilliant scientists, anything more than modern-day epicycles?”

Not even that. Epicycles were useful and observable. They actually are true in some sense, because they reflect Fourier Analysis of periodic motions.

Today’s most brandished “scientific” theories have nothing good about them, and worse of all, they don’t pass the smell test. Just as the Geocentric Theory did not pass the smell test. Just much worse. Theories were a gazillion universes get created in every cubic millimeters are just insane. Arguable even more insane as the worst from Daesh.

And guess what? Both insanities are related. If all what our supposedly best minds, our most rational, most scientific minds can produce, and brandish, is sheer insanity, why can’t Islam Fundamentalists, Saudi despots, North Korean dictators, and hordes of degenerated plutocrats not be crazy too?

So why not go with the flow? There are jobs to be had there. Saudi Arabia is looking for more eight more executioners to execute those who “insult Islam“. No experience necessary. Just a willingness to whip and “amputate”.

Patrice Ayme’

Flat Universe Flattens Twisted Logic

April 11, 2015

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.)


December 19, 2013

Abstract: Dark Energy is a fact. Dark Energy is not an extrapolation such as the Big Bang, or an extrapolation of extrapolations, such as Cosmic Inflation. Dark Energy enables a completely different cosmology. Taking Dark Energy seriously renders Cosmic Inflation and the Big Bang superfluous… And make the universe much older than usually considered.

The basic reasoning establishing the Big Bang is of primary school level. And yet, from recent observations, it is probably erroneous. I propose that the universe is rather of the order of 100 billion years old, rather than the official 13.8 billion [sic!]. Why do I think the universe is much bigger, and much older than most accredited, professional cosmologists do? Why would celebrity physicists be misinforming the public?

Galaxies To Infinity. 100 Billion Years Old, I Say.

Galaxies To Infinity. 100 Billion Years Old, I Say.

[One photon a minute to get this picture!]

Boldly averaging observations of red shifts in our neighborhood, it has been artistically found that galaxies located 3.2 million light years away recede at 72 kilometers per second (that art was involved is obvious when one gets in the detail… And why Hubble got the numbers wrong by a factor of two initially).

Divide that inter-galactic distance by that speed, and that should tell a primary school student when the universe started. The good news: physicists understand this. The bad news: it’s all too simple, reality seems to disagree.

Let’s do the computation in detail.

(We will use the notation “^” to indicate powers; so 10^2 is (10) (10), 10^4 is 10,000, etc.)

Light covers (3) (10^5) kilometers in one second, and there are around 100,000 = 10^5 seconds in a day. So light covers (3) (10^10) ( 3) (10^2) ~ 10^13 kilometers in a year (=10,000 billion kilometers). Multiply that by (3) (10^6), the distance to that receding galaxy, to get:

(3) 10^19) kilometers (3 times ten billion billion kilometers). Divide by 70 kilometers per second, to find how many seconds it took for galaxies to separate 3.2 million light years: that’s ½ (10^18) seconds. Now there are around (3) (10^5)(10^2) seconds in a year. One gets roughly 14 billion years.

14 billion years ago, or so, the material of that 3.2 million light year away galaxy was next door.

From, there, applying the Principle of Homogeneity (PH: that everything is everywhere roughly the same), one deduces that all those things that became galaxies were next to each other. Notice that this recourse to PH is a philosophical jump: it seems likely, because it is the simplest we can think of, but it’s not a sure thing.

The only way this could have happened is if this expansion all started in the same place… in time (not space!). Presto, you have the result that the history of the universe is that of a Big Bang that started 14 billion years ago. So far, so good.

Notice a second philosophical jump occurred: to get to the conclusion that there was a Big Bang, we assumed that the expansion happened at the same rate, all along. That sounded like the easiest hypothesis, 80 years ago (or when the Big Bang was explicitly formulated, around 60 years ago). But there was NO proof, that the expansion had been at that rate all along, and some observers of things cosmological, or theoreticians, begged to differ (even during the 1960s).

I certainly did not agree with the certainty that the preceding reasoning was a sure thing, because it was not. I do not trust concept that are viewed as sure things, when obviously they are not. I view in them probable examples of herd effects.

However, in the last ten years, it turned out that, to everyone’s amazement, a fact unanticipated by the majority of cosmologists emerged. The rate of expansion was found to be increasing noticeably.

A force expanded the fabric of space ever more. It was called “Dark Energy” (energy, because that’s what one needs to expand space, dark, because the force vector itself could be not be seen; also there already was one problem, called “Dark Matter”, mass distributed all over, dwarfing the visible mass).

I Propose Doing Away With Weird Stuff On Left Side Of the Sketch (Explosion, Cosmic Inflation, etc.)

I Propose Doing Away With Weird Stuff On Left Side Of the Sketch (Explosion, Cosmic Inflation, etc.)

The very existence of “Dark Energy” immediately busted the “universe is 14 billion years old” conclusion. Indeed, one cannot assume the expansion was 71 kilometers per second, all along, when we see that this expansion is now accelerating. It’s changing: get it? C H A N G E… It’s changing now, so it should have been changing in the past.

It’s more logical to suppose the expansion was always there, and accelerated all along, that the expansion accelerated in the past as it does now. So as the expansion of the universe is NOT linear now, it’s only simpler, logically, to suppose that it was NOT linear in the past. Instead, it looks as if, in first approximation,the expansion of the universe was some sort of exponential tapering fading in the past.

(In other words, since its rate is accelerating now, we may as well suppose it accelerated similarly, all along! Instead the extrapolated Big Bang + extrapolated Cosmic Inflation + Observed Dark Energy implies that the rate of acceleration of the Universe varied enormously in the past: first accelerating gigantically, then slowing down, then coming to a standstill, then re-accelerating… Weird!)

On the back of an envelope, considering the present rate of acceleration of the expansion, and extrapolating that acceleration in the past, your generous servant can determine the universe ought to be 100 billion years old, rather than 14 billion years.

Some will whine: and what of the Cosmological Background Radiation? Well I have a Quantum answer to that. There are also other explanations available such as Olbers Paradox, and Tired Light.

The 100 billion year old universe is philosophically, axiomatically, simpler. (It also gives a lot of time to explain enormous large scale structures such as bubbles and walls of galactic clusters, which looked too organized to have evolved in a mere 14 billion years.)

Why is it that physicists are presenting the date of 13.7 billion years for the age of the universe with so much certainty? Because smug, god like certainty, is what sells. To know things that only an oligarchy knows, especially if this esoteric knowledge violates common sense, can only make one famous, thus powerful. Hence well fed, the pelt lustrous and the mien proud.

Some do not require more than this: they are simple apes, greed is their event horizon. Real thinkers are made of nobler stuff. Meanwhile, the universe is out there: let’s look carefully, but emotionally, at the picture above: millions of galaxies, as far as we can see. One cannot avoid the feeling that this universe is much older than simply thrice the age of the Earth.

And now that’s what the simplest logic, clinging to the established facts, embraces.

Patrice Aymé