Posts Tagged ‘Dark Energy’

Ever Darker Universe Expanding Ever Faster?

June 3, 2016

The most important discoveries in physics of the last 50 years are Dark Matter, and so-called Dark Energy.

The two most precise methods to evaluate the accelerated expansion of the Universe disagree by 9%. This surfaces from a recent 2016 paper. I am astounded by the fact that different methods agree so much.

A paper detailing the discrepancy, reported on the pre-print server Arxiv in April by Adam Riess of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, and colleagues, accepted by The Astrophysical Journal, reveals the slight discrepancy between the methods we have of measuring the expansion of the universe.

Not auspicious for life: Cepheids Stars Enable To Compute Distance. RS Puppis Shown Here, Varies By A Factor of 5 Every 40 Days.

Not auspicious for life: Cepheids Stars Enable To Compute Distance. RS Puppis Shown Here, Varies By A Factor of 5 Every 40 Days.

One method looks at dimples in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), a glow supposedly left behind by the hot, early universe just a few hundred thousand years after the alleged Big Bang. Space-based observatories like NASA’s WMAP and ESA’s Planck have measured small fluctuations in temperature in the CMB. Assuming we understand the physics in extreme detail, the size of these fluctuations let physicists calculate how fast the universe was expanding when the universe began, some 13.7 billion years ago.

The other method measures how distant galaxies appear to recede from us as the universe expands, using stars and supernovae of type Ia, which have a known brightness to estimate the distance to those galaxies. These Type Ia supernovae measurements led to the discovery of dark energy, and earned Riess and other physicists in Berkeley and Australia a Nobel prize in 2011.

The discovery of Dark Energy was astounding (although rumors existed since the 1970s). The physics established in the early Twentieth Century did not predict Dark Energy anymore than Dark Matter (Dark Matter was indirectly observed around 1934, but mainstream physics obstinately refused to pay attention for many decades… And still does not, on the theoretical side).

In the case of Dark Matter, it is hoped by the Standard Persons of the Standard Model, that a mundane, anticipated explanation will surface, such as SuperSymmetry (“SUSY”). SUSY would provide for plenty of mass, because it adds plenty of particles (one for each existing particle). SUSY assumes a perfect symmetry between bosons and fermions.

But I don’t believe very much that SUSY, even if it existed, would explain Dark Matter, for a number of reasons. Somehow the mass of the Super Partners would have to add up to ten times the mass of everyday matter. That’s weird (to me). Even worse, SUSY does not explain why Super Partners would get spatially segregated, as Dark Matter is (as far as I know, only my own theory explains this readily).

Instead I believe an obvious logical loophole in Quantum Physics will provide (plenty of) Dark Matter. And it makes the observed spatial segregation between Dark Matter and normal matter, obvious. One could call that little pet of mine, the Quantum Leak Theory (QLT).

I do not see a natural explanation for Dark Energy. Nor do any of the established theories. Actually, Dark Energy is not described well enough to even know what is really going on (different scenarios are known as “Einstein Cosmological Constant”, or “Quintessence”, etc.).

Yet, it is imaginable, at least in my own theory of Dark Matter, that the mechanism creating Dark Matter itself could also produce Dark Energy. Indeed the QLT implies that long-range forces such as gravity change over cosmological distances (a bit like MOdified Newtonian Dynamics, MOND).

To come back down at the most prosaic level: supernovae distance measurements depend on knowing the distance to nearby pulsing stars very precisely (such as the Cepheid RS Puppis depicted above). The European Space Agency’s Gaia mission, an observatory launched last year, which is measuring the distance to 1 billion Milky Way stars, should help.

Many other telescopes will soon come on-line. Astronomy leads physics, just as it did, 25 centuries ago. Nothing beats looking out of the box, and peering in the dark universe.

Patrice Ayme’

Astronomy Domine

April 6, 2016

Astronomy domine is a song much played in philosophy, not just by Pink Floyd, ever since there are men, and they observe. (Homo Erectus probably observed the last fabulous Galactic Core Eruption, two million years ago.)

Before feeding the pocketbooks of the greedy, science feeds the imagination of poets.

Astronomy has been at the forefront of physics, at least since Buridan (14th Century). Buridan applied his notion of impetus to explain that planets went around in circles from what we now call inertia. In Greek Antiquity, a large, wagon sized meteorite landed in Northern Greece, and was visited for centuries (it may have been a piece of Halley’s comet, which whizzed by spectacularly close in 466 BCE).

A Place Of Great Eruptions, Past & Future. Eta Carinae Nebula, At Least A Couple of Giant Stars, The Lightest One At Least 30 Sun Masses, the Largest Maybe As Much As 220 Solar Masses, 7,500 Light Years Away. Five Million Times The Luminosity Of the Sun. Stellar Natures & Explosions Are Far From Fully Understood!

A Place Of Great Eruptions, Past & Future. Eta Carinae Nebula, At Least A Couple of Giant Stars, The Lightest One At Least 30 Sun Masses, the Largest Maybe As Much As 220 Solar Masses, 7,500 Light Years Away. Five Million Times The Luminosity Of the Sun. Stellar Natures & Explosions Are Far From Fully Understood!

Supernova explosions are awesome: the most luminous one ever detected had a peak luminosity 570 BILLION times the luminosity of the Sun (yes, (570) 10^9 Suns; that was seen in 2015).

Supernovae are us. Supernovae create most of chemistry: the extremely high temperatures of their explosions enable light nuclei to smash into each other, and fuse, making most elements of the periodic table.

There are two main types of stars which explode as supernovae: white dwarfs and massive giant stars. In the so-called Type Ia supernovae, gases falling onto a white dwarf raise its mass until it nears a critical level, the Chandrasekhar limit, resulting in an explosion when the mass approaches exactly 1.44 Solar Mass. In Type Ib/c and Type II supernovae, the progenitor star is a massive star which runs out of fuel to power its nuclear fusion reactions and collapses in on itself, reaching astounding temperatures as it implodes, and then explodes.

Supernova science is very far from finished knowledge. Even the nature of the Crab Nebula supernova, which was seen to explode in 1054 CE, is not clear (it is known it was a big star, more than 8 Solar Masses; it left a pulsar).

Even the Crab was philosophically interesting in devious ways: the explosion was duly recorded by Europeans and Chinese. However the Muslims tried very hard not to see it (a mention was recently found). Indeed, the heavens, for desert savages, are supposed to be messages from God, and God playing games with stars was apparently not kosher…

Type Ia supernovae have completely changed our idea of the universe in the last two decades. (According to your modest servant, other types of supernovae may change our view of the universe even more dramatically. See the conclusion!)

Eta Carinae is the only star known to produce ultraviolet laser emission!

There is some philosophy to be extracted from Eta Carinae: if a star, or a system of gravitationally bound stars, can be that exotic, how sure are we from the astrophysics we think we know?

I am not the only one who thought of this. The teams who determined the accelerating acceleration of the universe (“Dark Energy”), had to exclude weird, sort-of Type Ia Supernovae… from their statistics (pre-selecting the population of explosions they would apply statistics on…). There are now other ways to detect Dark Energy (and they give the same results as the pre-selected Type Ia supernovae studies). So the results have been confirmed.

However my position is more subtle, and general. How sure are we of the astrophysics we have, to the point that we can claim that stars are unable to create all the known elements? In the proportion observed?

I am no specialist of astrophysics. But, as a philosopher, I have seen the science evolve considerably, so I think we cannot be sure that we absolutely need the hellish temperatures of the Big Bang to generate all observed elements.

Very large stars (600 Solar masses) have now been observed. They don’t live very long. I don’t see why stars thousands of Solar Masses, living only for a few hundred years, before exploding, are not possible. During these so-far-unconceived apocalypses, nucleogenesis could well follow unexpected ways.

And that could well remove one of the main arguments for the Big Bang.

Patrice Ayme’

Anatomy of Discovery

April 9, 2015

Discovery Is Generally Part Of A Logic. Therein A Tale.

Abstract: How does discovery works? It depends if it is about discovering where you put your keys, or if it is about discovering new scientific laws. Differently from the former, the latter always require philosophical jumps. Be it only to discard vast amounts of obsolete neurology. However most of “scientific discovery” is safe, being mostly about filling up the details of huge theories. Most of science cannot be anything else than about small stuff.

***

This is a tale of two scientific practices, at the extremities of the same spectrum. Surprisingly, they are antagonistic: the practice of small science is all too often the enemy of big science (it occupies minds, and leaves no space for the big interrogations). The theory of Ptolemy required at least three “epicycles” within “epicycles” to handle Mars alone. Even then that was not enough and Ptolemy cheated. This complicated logic was small science because the philosophy it used as context was small.

Basic Sketch In Plato Elaborated Further By Ptolemy, 6 Centuries Later

Basic Sketch In Plato Elaborated Further By Ptolemy, 6 Centuries Later

The Ptolemaic system had to introduce weird notions such as the “equant” around which the main orbit would happen at a constant angular motion, and so. This built-up of “necessary” complexities to make work previous “necessities” is not without reminding us of Quantum Field Theory’s weirder and weirder “explanations”, piled up high on top of each other.

An article in Scientia Salon on “the anatomy of scientific discovery: a case study” is ambitious, starting with its title. [Remarks below were not published by a third party as “too advanced for a general audience”. I apparently hold the readers of this site in high esteem!]

The SS article narrates the discovery of “Spontaneous Electric Fields” (abbreviated to “Spontelectrics”). However, while charming and instructive, in a smallish way, it is highly misleading, considering its all-encompassing title.

The article initially makes grand claims about what its purpose is:

“How do scientists discover new phenomena, and, just as important, how do they persuade other scientists… During its course, they do their very best to prove that their discovery is wrong, perhaps because it contradicts some well-established law. They set out to show that their new phenomenon may, in the polite phraseology of science, be an artifact…”

The first mistake here is implicit. The author reduces implicitly science to phenomenology (to “discover new phenomena”).

This is a mistake, it is too reductive. Really Big Science, as found in mathematics and physics, is about enormously complex theories, built upon a few facts. Big science is all about interpreting some facts, and organize that in a theory. A theory and its “laws” can be so strong that they prevent to discover, accidentally or not, anything outside of what it considers “relevant”.

Big scientific theories frame the discourse and reduce the facts that can be “observed”… Or the facts that will try (very hard) to observe. So Big Scientific theories tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To an extent that is surprising, theory controls phenomenology. We observe what theory tells us too observe. And how.

For example Aristotle claim that the heavenly bodies were part of an “ether” (not a material body). It was just a step from there to claim the Moon was a signal from god. Islam made it. Thus Muslim specialists spy on the Moon to know when god tells us when Ramadan starts. They observe, but they observe according to a theory.

This is why small science is easy, and big science is hard. Small science, by definition, works within a theoretical model it takes for granted. Whereas big scientific discoveries change paradigms.

The second mistake the author of “anatomy of discovery” makes is to give a virtuous view of science (scientists “do their best to prove” they are wrong).

Actually this is not true at all for really big science. Quite the opposite. Scientists do not “do their best” to prove that all they have painfully learned is wrong. Not only would that be a career busting mood, there is a neurological aspect. Mental inertia.

Big scientific interpretation is a form of neurology, and, scientists or not, people do not tend, or like, to “do their best” to prove their neurology wrong.

Then the author of the Scientia Salon article deflates his claim completely by “restrict[ing] ourselves here to the quite serendipitous, experimental discoveries, those that take place quite unexpectedly.”

It is quite rare that such discoveries break a paradigm. It can happen: the Michelson Morley experiment, an electromagnetic experiment showed that the simplest interpretation of the (then recently devised) ether theory could not be right.

However, looking at history, when the discovery of a really new phenomenon happens, Big Scientific models tend to stay unchanged.

A contemporary example of a potentially giant discovery is Dark Energy.

Dark Energy made the old cosmological model something one does not need anymore (it is its own “cosmic inflation”). I explained this in Billion Year Old Universe”.

The situation right now is that the official theory on cosmology has TWO different inflationary mechanisms. I have just ONE, the one that is observed. My theory is more powerful philosophically, and it’s less complex mathematically, and it depends upon much fewer hypotheses, and mine are observationally grounded.

However “scientists” working in cosmology have been keen NOT to notice my main point, that is that my theory is much simpler in all ways, thus much more powerful. Why did professional cosmologists not notice the obvious? Because they have a vested interest in the established mental order, the mandarins of which, they are. Because, if one adopted a Dark Energy centric model, all of theoretical cosmology (what goes beyond what is observed for sure) would be wiped out. Something that can be wiped out as an error is less honorable.

How is Big Science discovered? Feynman looked at it, and concluded that there was no rule.

However, I think there is. Big science is  generally discovered through Big Philosophy (Special Relativity does not escape the rule; Poincare’ and Lorentz introduced the “local time” theory to discover SR).

Meanwhile, those who really discover the big ideas, having assaulted the neurology of mandarins, will be punished.

They should be thankful.

The painless life is not worth having.

[Take that, Marcus Aurelius!]

Patrice Ayme’

Censored notes on the initial SS article:

Although presented as a big deal in SS, “Spontelectrics” is anything but. It’s just a case of contrary electric fields, the sort discovered by Faraday to explain the “Faraday Cage”. (Actually discovered by Benjamin Franklin, a rare American genius.) Make no mistake: it is interesting.

However, it is thoroughly small science, violating nothing important.

A bigger mystery, still unexplained: how rubbing one material on another can create electrostatic charge. This effect known to the Ancient Greeks require Quantum Physics we don’t master too well.

Another question rejected as irrelevant at SS is the question of why did the Geocentric System reign so long? My answer (not even attempted on SS), partly given in the past, has to do with fascism, intellectual and political. The Ptolemaic System was imposed, and endured, PRECISELY because it was bad.

For the bad, bad is good, and good, bad. So anything favoring the first is good.

Big Bang Proof Turns To Dust

September 22, 2014

Dust peppers outer space, around the enormous Milky Way galaxy. The Milky Way is much more massive than any other galaxy in the fifty galaxy strong Local Group (only the giant Andromeda has a comparable mass). So, naturally, it has a lot of dust. The dimly radiating dust grains are aligned with our galaxy’s magnetic field. The galactic magnetic field’s swirling gives a polarization to the dust glow, just as a crystal’s alignment polarizes reflected light.

Last March, cosmic inflation enthusiasts claimed to have seen ripples at the origin of time. They claimed to have used a telescope that was sensitive enough. Yet they used a sort of postcard lifted from the European telescope Planck, to evaluate how much galactic dust there was, polarizing the light. That was, at best amateurish, or scientific fraud, and, at worst, a scam on the tax paying public, who wants to be enlightened, not defrauded.

We Fraud, Therefore We Sink. How Inflation > Cosmic Polarization

We Fraud, Therefore We Sink. How Inflation > Cosmic Polarization

[That was the hope from Harvard’s Kovac; it just bit the dust. At least the picture is pretty.]

The Planck researchers were flabbergasted by the behavior of their American colleagues. They knew the dust could mimic the predicted signal from the Big Bang. No doubt the “Publish Or Perish” syndrome was at work again: say whatever to become a celebrity, being a celebrity is what a career is about. Damn careful thinking. Many a Harvard professor has appeared to believe that, whatever they say, whatever they do, it will be accepted. Unfortunately, they have often been proven right. And not just in physics, but economics, finance, politics, morality, philosophy. That makes Harvard the keystone of plutocratic propaganda.

Now, it turns out that this swirling pattern touted as evidence of primordial gravitational waves — ripples in space and time from the universe’s explosive birth — could all come from magnetically aligned Milky Way dust. A new analysis of data from the Planck space telescope concludes that the tiny silicate and carbonate particles of interstellar space could account for as much as 100 percent of the signal detected by the BICEP2 telescope and announced to big light and great banging this spring.

Do we need Cosmic Inflation, and its many absurdities? Of course not:

***

NO NEED FOR INFLATION: DARK ENERGY IMPLIES 100 BILLION YEAR UNIVERSE:

Now that we have Dark Energy (or Phantom Energy), we simply do not need Inflation Theory.

Dark Energy is a fact. Inflation theory a far-fetched stream of ideas which leads to universes exploding in every way, all the time, all over the place, a blatant absurdity, if there ever was one.

Indeed, having an uncountable number of universes on every pinhead is even more incredible than having to count how many angels sit on a pinhead, as some Medieval naïve religious types used to ponder.

In the scenario of the Big Bang we have now, space expansion accelerates in an hyper exponential way for a while (“inflation”), then decelerates until close to the present era, before re-accelerating from Dark Energy. This is weird, and logically contrived.

The most logically economical theory, from the barest known facts, is that cosmic expansion is completely due to Dark Energy. In that case, the universe is more like 100 billion years old. Nuclear synthesis of helium, lithium, etc. are generally rolled out to claim the Big Bang had to have synthesized them. However, those light elements could have been created thanks to some of the energetic phenomena observed since the Big Bang theory was elaborated (such as galactic core Black Holes).

The 3 degree K radiation could be due, in part to other phenomena than cosmic expansion. However, expanding for 100 billion years could be enough of an explanation.

Here we are faced with two theories explaining just as much. However, one uses an axiom (inflation) that is not a fact, but a fancy idea… And which is not even needed. Clearly Occam Razor ought to be applied, and Inflation and its Big Bang, decapitated.

***

And why does all this matter, for broader thinkers? First there is the poetry of it all. That enormous galaxy, our home, makes hearts melt with the possibilities, and perspectives.

The old name for galaxies was “island universes”. Kant worked on that for his thesis. The size of the Milky Way is baffling. It contains stars which are 13.6 billion years old (just 6,000 light years away, and uncomfortably close, if you ask me, to the presumed birth of the universe according to the Big Bang. It’s like a Freudian slip: ’Oh, and our Milky Way is old as the universe…’).

Secondly, and more importantly, scientists are supposed to roll out the most impressive, innovative, yet rigorous thinking. Yet, from Unobservable Strings, to Wishful Supersymmetry, to much Crazy Cosmology, there is a bad smell, and a poor show out there. Of course, the degradation of public logic suits the plutocracy just fine.

Thus, although it does not look like it, much the over-excitement in some areas of extremely speculative physics has much to do, you guessed it, with the fancy multiverses in finance, gouging We The People. Namely, if we learn to tolerate irrationality in physics, so will we, all over, as physics is supposed to be the shining example on a hill.

Hence the desire to impose the greatest rationality, and the strictest probity in physics, from the most general philosophical point of view. And for those who want to insure a sustainable civilization, and enough of the biosphere to survive to make it so.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: the essence of the preceding scientific ideas was sent to several popular physics and science sites. None of the sites published it. I was witness, in the past, of reviewers stealing ideas during the peer review process, or suppressing ideas which showed them to be wrong. This systemic censorship could be somewhat related.

100 BILLION YEAR OLD UNIVERSE?

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

Revolutionary Science

March 17, 2013

Abstract; Some of the interaction between plutocracy and science. As it turns out, well established science is very revolutionary, and plutocracy may have interest to swipe this under the carpet by promoting anti-science (as revolution is contagious!).

***

There is something called TED talks where authoritative speakers, often with commending, not to say commanding, British accents, distill a wisdom compatible with the reigning oligarchies, and a clipped delivery. Although the subjects vary, the tone seems to be always the same.

“TED” stands for “Tech, Entertainment, Design”. Anti-plutocrats should be aware that TED banned a talk where Nick Hanauer pointed out that “rich people don’t create jobs”. TED did not find Hanauer entertaining. Thus we know that, by design, TED applies the technology of eradication to some “ideas worth spreading”. [After getting lots of flak, after this essay was first published, TED reversed itself, and then published Hanauer’s talk. At least for a while.]

“Ideas worth spreading” according to TED, are those of plutophiles and plutocrats. So TED gave its ‘grand prize’ to the pseudo-Christian “Bono” of U2 (for becoming a Facebook billionaire?), or to Bill Clinton (for authorizing banks to invest in financial derivatives, instead of the base material world they used to belong to, before their elevation to the derivative universe?).

In a book called “Science Set Free” (USA), or: “Science Delusion” (UK) Dr. Sheldrake challenges notions about science that many take for granted:  Sheldrake itemizes what he calls the 10 “dogmas” of modern science, then tries to challenge them in his own special way.

Rupert Sheldrake was invited to give a TED talk. He is a Ph.D., a biologist, author of more than 80 scientific papers and 10 books.  A former Research Fellow of the Royal Society, he got a Ph.D.  in biochemistry at Cambridge U.  He was a Fellow in Cambridge, and Director of Studies in biochemistry and cell biology.

Here is the default world view of science educated people hold, according to Sheldrake. Every of these scientific dogmas is questionable, he says. As I will show, and it’s spectacular, little does he know…

1.  Nature is Mechanical.
2.  Matter is unconscious.
3.  The Laws of Nature are fixed.
4.  The total amount of matter and energy is constant.
5.  Nature is purposeless.
6.  Biological inheritance is entirely material.
7.  Memories are stored inside your brain in material processes.
8.  Your mind is inside your head.
9.  Psychic phenomena are impossible.
10.  Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that works.

(Sheldrake believes in his own weird and unnecessary theory. He does not understand the way units relate in physics, so he went on a flight of fancy from there. He wants young giraffes’ (!) minds to be educated by a mysterious force out there, not realizing that the environment itself is doing so, in subtle and mighty ways.)

What fascinated me, when I came across Sheldrake’s amusing list above, is that the most established recent science itself has thrown many of these dogmas down. So Mr. S. is blissfully unawares of the true state of science. Indeed:  

 1) Nature is Mechanical: we are machines, “lumbering robots” (Dawkins)

What’s outrageous about Dawkins, and many other leading thinkers, is that they do not seem to have a full vision of science. Question: What’s mechanics? It is certainly not about mechanical robots, in the classical mechanics sense. One has to realize that mechanics is Quantum mechanics. And nobody under-stands that. quantum systems have one thing in common with conscious system, namely that they are not completely predictable.

 2) Matter is Unconscious: lots of philosophy of mind in the last century is about proving that we are unconscious.

Right, well…Question: define conscious. Are sleep walkers conscious? Is an electron conscious when it decides to do whatever it’s doing with the 2-slits it seems aware of? Consciousness cannot be experimentally defined.

 3) Laws of Nature are fixed:

Remark: this is under constant check by physicists. When on the moon, the acceleration of gravity, a “law”, has changed. The reason for the suspicion is the fact the universe itself is evolving. Also Conventional Big Bang theory creates universes from nothing; that’s probably why it’s false.

Einstein himself admitted that his theory of gravitation threw down the constancy of the speed of light (be it only because gravitation can make light go around in circle, or come to a stand still).

 4)  The total amount of matter and energy is constant.

First we should know how to detect all the matter and energy, before we assert such a thing. The whole riddle of Dark Matter and Dark Energy is that we can’t do either. So, by astronomy’s own reckoning, right now, we miss 96%, we fail to detect or explain, 96% of the matter and energy out there (WMAP). The WMAP seven-year analysis gave an estimate of 72.8% dark energy, 22.7% dark matter and 4.6% ordinary matter.

This science is so official that the discovery of Dark Energy has already been rewarded by several Nobel Prizes.

 5)  Nature is purposeless.

Question: Are we part of nature? Some of us have purpose.

 6)  Biological inheritance is entirely material.

Question: What is material? Is information material? Is a photon material? If it is, and it is, then information is material. Much of biology is a mix of the inherited, and the informed. Both come from material processes.

 7)  Memories are stored inside your brain in material processes.

What else?

 8)  Your mind is inside your head.

We don’t know what “inside the head” means, because we don’t know how many dimensions the universe really has. Some contemporary physicists have tried to depict gravity as a leak, in three dimensions, of a stronger phenomenon, in higher dimensions. It goes without saying that the same could apply to minds.

 9)  Psychic phenomena are impossible.

I don’t know what a “psychic” phenomenon could be. Control of object by pure thinking has already been achieved in the lab by animals, including Homo.

 10)  Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that works.

Well the placebo effect really exists, and that’s pretty spiritual (as it’s all in the mind!). Speaking of revolutionary science…

***

ARE REMEDIES FOR THE PLUTOCRATIC PLAGUE GETTING FINALLY APPLIED?

It’s not clear the placebo effect will save plutocracy, though. The illusion that bankers and oil men created for us the best of possible worlds is fraying fast. (In spite of desperate counterattacks such as those orchestrated by Sheryl Sandberg, a creature of Larry Summers, soon to be adressed appropriately on this site.)

Real, mechanical, old fashion remedies against the plutocratic plague are on the way. The European Union ordered Cyprus to levy a 10% tax on plutocrats’ bank holdings. Otherwise, the EU will let Cyprus go bankrupt. It goes without saying that Cyprus’ days as a tax haven are over, should Cyprus’ Parliamentpass the law it has been ordered to pass. Meanwhile, ATMs are blocked.

In other anti-plutocratic news, France and Britain threatened to send sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to the rebels fighting the major plutocrat Assad. They gave what boils down to an instructive ultimatum to the rest of Europe.

By instructive, I mean that many countries that were clueless when confronting Hitler, are now incited, by France and Britain, in a pedagogical manner, to learn to assume some anti-fascist standing. For some of these countries, it’s like learning to walk. It’s an occasion for them to learn. Obviously, France and Britain will act, and Obama’s admirable USA, quite differently from Roosevelt’s despicable, cowardly and greedy USA, will follow.

Even Conservative PM Cameron had his fill with (Assad’s) outrageous plutocracy, so he offers to roll out the missiles. Nice.

***

Patrice Ayme

Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Gravitation, etc.

December 24, 2009

MYSTERIES GALORE…

Abstract: A few basic considerations on Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Gravitation, and how science proceeds. For once, nearly no statement here is in any way controversial… (OK, except a few snide remarks on the motivations of some revered physicists, and some tenets of physics requiring experimental proof, rather than blind acceptance…)

***

Deep mine experiments look for WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles). In Europe and the USA, the world’s two largest elementary particle accelerators have targeted their beams towards detectors in said mines, through hundreds of Kilometers of Earth’s mantle. Claims have been made for tentative events. It’s all very tentative, although tantalizing.

The idea for the WIMP search is a bit the same as with neutrino detection: bury deep underground, so that only WIMPs should be left.

Neutrinos are traditionally supposed to have mass zero (neutrino means the small neutral one, an Italian neologism invented by Enrico Fermi, Nobel prize winner, refugee from Mussolini, and scientific head of the nuclear bomb project in the USA; the concept was from Wolfgang Pauli, to explain the continuous spectrum of beta decay). But it turns out that neutrinos have mass, and they oscillate between types. A whole slew of experiments will try to know more soon. So neutrinos are a type of WIMPs, except that they are very light.

It has been known since 1933 (by the Swiss astronomer Zwicky, a supernova specialist, discoverer of the concept of neutron star) that galaxies and clusters of galaxies are missing mass by a factor of at least ten, if one uses straight Newtonian gravity on the observed motions of galaxies or their disks.

Now Newtonian gravity is the first order of the modern ("Einstein’s") theory of gravitation. Both theories differ only at very high speeds or fields. Hence the observed discrepancy would mean that our theory of gravitation is false. A class of modification of Newtonian theory was proposed (MOND = MOdified Newton Dynamics, where the gravitational attraction is the same for high acceleration, proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance, but slips into simply the inverse of the distance for weak accelerations).

But the way science proceeds is to milk a theory to death, until it dies. The Newton-Einstein theory of gravitation is correct in the Earth’s neighborhood, as far as we can see. So the reflex of experimentalists was to look for missing mass under the form of WIMPs. The search was on well before it became obvious neutrino had mass. Now that later fact is a game changer, since supernovas emit copious quantities of neutrinos. Indeed there is less of a missing mass now (maybe only a factor of five instead of ten…)

The apparent Dark Matter is concentrated in strange ways: halos, lobes…

clip_image001

Apparent Dark Matter Ring. Located in the "Fish" galactic cluster, 5 billion light-years away, and 2,6 million light-years across. Gravitational lensing can be seen (by looking carefully) and exhibits the enormous mass of the Dark Matter halo.

***

Please remark that in today’s physics, photons have mass zero. All other particles have some mass. The mass zero of the photon has been turned into religion by Relativity theory, but, ultimately, it ought to be considered an experimental fact, to be continually verified. If photons did have a mass, that would be much more of a game changer. It would most probably imply that gravitons have mass too, so gravity would have to be recomputed…

However, for reasons of logical completeness, Pauli (again!) noticed that Quantum Field Theory would work well if and only if each particle had a symmetric partner across the fermion-boson line. This is called SUSY ("SUperSYmmetry"). That would give plenty of WIMPs. So the search is on. 2010 will bring on line plenty of experiments worldwide, and the LHC in Geneva will ramp up in power.

As the preceding indicates, Dark Matter could be something radically new (new WIMPs), or simply explained: say by massive neutrinos (?).

Or then may be gravity was not as we extrapolated it to be, from around our little blue and white spaceship.

But the real mystery is DARK ENERGY. That, if confirmed, is way out of imagined physics (although it could be claimed that the ad hoc "cosmological inflation" used to explain the homogeneity of the Big Bang was just such a possible prediction!). The universe is expanding, as if there was out there a mysterious anti-gravity. There is no mechanism to explain this (although it can be written down in Einstein’s gravitation equation by re-introducing a scalar term, the cosmological constant, Einstein had introduced to make the universe static, before Hubble discovered the expansion, leading an opportunistic Einstein to declare the cosmological constant was "his greatest mistake").

In conclusion, we are extremely far from a final "theory of everything", contrarily to what some physicists have claimed with profit motivated outrageous naivety (there is great profit in books and fame). Profit is most often a bad adviser to the sharpest thinking (something profit obsessed American regressive economists fail to integrate).

Verily, in 25 centuries or so of official physics history, I do not know of one period when so much has been officially not known, and blatantly darkly mysterious. Anything could happen. For example, there is not one force theory, but two, and they do not agree conceptually. The explanatory scheme in gravitation (no force, just inertia), is completely different from the explanatory scheme for forces in Quantum Field Theory (whatever that mystery wrapped in an enigma, shrouded by immense Lagrangians, renormalized by reality turns out to want to say).

Patrice Ayme