More new observations don’t fit current cosmological theory.
Measurement of Universe’s expansion rate creates cosmological puzzle (Nature News). The subtitle reads, “Discrepancy between observations could point to new physics.”
The most precise measurement ever made of the current rate of expansion of the Universe has produced a value that appears incompatible with measurements of radiation left over from the Big Bang. If the findings are confirmed by independent techniques, the laws of cosmology might have to be rewritten.
If dark energy is out there, it might have increased since the big bang, astronomers conclude from the new observations. Or, it might mean that the “standard candles” used to measure the universe are not reliable—so says Wendy Freeman, the astronomer who arrived at the oft-cited consensus age of the universe, 13.7 billion years.
Given the long-standing puzzles over dark matter, dark energy, inflation, fine-tuning and the multiverse, Adam Riess, astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins, made the following massive understatement, “I think that there is something in the standard cosmological model that we don’t understand.”
‘Bizarre’ Group of Distant Black Holes are Mysteriously Aligned (Space.com). According to thinking about the isotropy of space, one shouldn’t find mysterious alignments of objects, yet at least nine of them in a sector of space have spin axes that are aligned. It’s a “bizarre relationship”—
A highly sensitive radio telescope has seen something peculiar in the depths of our cosmos: A group of supermassive black holes are mysteriously aligned, as if captured in a synchronized dance.
Black holes don’t have any way of knowing about other black holes. They have no way of sharing information. How did they get this way? Some cosmologists are quick to offer hypotheses. Perhaps they were part of the same fluctuation when the universe was small. Maybe powerful magnetic fields aligned them. Maybe hypothetical particles called axions did it. Further down, though, the article is less optimistic.
The researchers hope to use this surprising discovery to perhaps better understand the conditions in which they formed, but the discovery will be a huge challenge to explain as there’s no cosmological model that can currently account for it.
“This is not obviously expected based on our current understanding of cosmology. It’s a bizarre finding,” said collaborator Romeel Dave, of the University of the Western Cape, South Africa.
The astronomers were not looking for this alignment when they found it. Now, they have a new “vexing problem” to solve.
Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? (Live Science). Is reality real? Who asks these kinds of questions?
Researchers pondered the controversial notion Tuesday at the annual Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate here at the American Museum of Natural History.
Those who are interested can read the article for the arguments for and against what they call a “legitimate scientific hypothesis.” Behind it, though, are philosophical notions of free will. No less than Neil de Grasse Tyson (of Cosmos 2.0 fame) thinks the probability is high that we are living on an alien’s hard drive. If so, he was just programmed to say that, so you can ignore him.
Need a spin doctor? Go to the cosmologists. They always know how to keep their jobs when they have been falsified, self-refuted or embarrassed by observations contrary to theory. They call the new observations “exciting.”