Evidence continues to mount that the universe and its contents appeared mature from the beginning.
Surprising abrupt diversity near the start: Galaxies were diverse, like those seen today, for most of the universe’s history, Space.com reported. A new Hubble survey “found that the assorted range of galaxy types seen today were also present about 11 billion years ago, meaning that the types of galaxies seen today, which astronomers described as a ‘cosmic zoo,’ have been around for at least 80 percent of the universe’s lifespan.” The survey pushes back the early maturity of galaxies from 8 billion years to 11.5 billion.
“This is the only comprehensive study to date of the visual appearance of the large, massive galaxies that existed so far back in time,” co-author Arjen van der Wel of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany said in a statement. “The galaxies look remarkably mature, which is not predicted by galaxy formation models to be the case that early on in the history of the universe.”
Science Daily left this conundrum unanswered. Indeed, it added another: “Another piece of the puzzle is that we still do not know why today ‘red and dead’ elliptical galaxies are old and unable to form stars, while spirals, like our own Milky Way, keep forming new stars,” another team member said. “This is not just a classification scheme, it corresponds to a profound difference in the galaxies’ physical properties and how they were formed.”
In the 20th century, most astronomers assumed that one type of galaxy evolved into another, in an evolutionary “Hubble Sequence.” Now, they all appear abruptly near the beginning. “Clearly, the Hubble Sequence formed very quickly in the history of the cosmos, it was not a slow process,” adds Giavalisco. “Now we have to go back to theory and try to figure out how and why.”
Other cosmology news stories show that major questions remain unanswered, established claims are being debated, and fundamental issues remain unresolved.
Revising Newton: A modified form of Newtonian mechanics named MOND is claiming predictive success, Science Daily reported – astonishing for a theory that reigned science for centuries. At the same time, MOND is dispensing with the need for dark matter.
Time bandits: A big dispute about the nature of time is brewing between cosmologist Lee Smolin and his critics. One of them, Huw Smith, reviewing Smolin’s book in Science, did not have kind words for the latter, who believes time is real. The dispute is an echo of the ancient Greek debate between Parmenides and Heraclitus.
Expanding detractions: One German cosmologist, according to PhysOrg, is disputing the hugely popular consensus that the universe is expanding. “Cosmology has no big bang singularity,” he wrote. “There exist other, equivalent choices of field variables for which the universe shows the usual expansion or is static during the radiation or matter dominated epochs.” Readers can decide whether his proposal is more or less bizarre than an instant universe from nothing.
The measure of man: A giant “Hubble Bubble” surrounding our galaxy may be affecting our measurements of the expansion of the universe, Science Daily reported.
Got time for space, or space for time? Zeeya Merali, writing in Nature, summarizes an article with basic questions: “Many researchers believe that physics will not be complete until it can explain not just the behaviour of space and time, but where these entities come from.” In text and in an embedded podcast, Merali wades through deep speculations that are more frustrating than enlightening, giving time to entrants like quantum loop gravity, string theory, holography, thermodynamics, and some even more abstruse. The problem understanding space-time, according to one cosmologist: “our job is hard because we are fishes swimming in the fluid at the same time as trying to understand it.”
Does a fish know that it is swimming in a fluid? No, because fish are not philosophers. Humans can speculate about big questions and ultimate answers in ways that no animal can. Whether they can arrive at truth by their own bootstraps, though, is a different question entirely. One clue that man might be onto something is the “surprise effect.” When a scientist is surprised by a finding, it indicates a possible falsification of his or her assumptions. The surprise of finding early mature galaxies is a good example. The abrupt appearance of a diverse group of galaxies already in mature states, is like the Cambrian explosion in the fossil record. It’s surprising to evolutionists, but not to creationists. Cosmologists should open their minds to the possibility that cosmic evolution has been falsified.