Cosmologists Are Blind in the Dark

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Posted on November 15, 2016 in Astronomy, Cosmology, Dating Methods, Dumb Ideas, Philosophy of Science, Physics

A rash of recent science articles shows that secular cosmologists have no idea where they are, or why.

Ever since cosmologists began invoking occult phenomena in the form of dark matter and dark energy, they have lost their way. If you don’t believe it, look at what they themselves are saying about their current state of knowledge – if it can be called knowledge at all.

Dark Matter Just Got Murkier (Live Science): Don Lincoln, a senior scientist at Fermi National Lab, shows that a whiz at math and physics can be clueless when it comes to philosophy. This is a good article to lead our list, because he shows the history of dark matter hypotheses, ending with “But, in the end, we still don’t know.”

The search for dark matter (Phys.org): Here’s another piece that reviews the long hunt for the elusive whatever. “Without dark matter, it’s possible that we would not exist,” one physicist says. The article talks about huge, expensive detectors that have all failed to find it. Is this progress by elimination, or a wrong track?

What Is Dark Matter? Prime Candidate Gets Profiled (Space.com): Mike Wall thinks the theoretical “axion” (another bit of mysterious unknown stuff “which has yet to be discovered”) may qualify as the next candidate for dark matter. Why? Because all the others have been ruled out; searches for other candidates have “come up empty.”

As hunt for sterile neutrino continues, mystery deepens (Phys.org): “Physicists speculated that the hypothesized particles might hold a key to better understanding of the evolution of the universe and why it is mostly made of matter and not antimatter.” But the plot thickens: based on experiments with a new detector, “scientists have ruled out a large portion of the range of possible properties the hypothesized particles were predicted to be hiding in.”

If Dark Matter Can’t Be Seen, What About Ghosts? (NPR): Adam Frank compares belief in dark matter to belief in ghosts. “It’s still early in the game but, at some point, if nothing is found, scientists may have to re-evaluate their ‘belief’ in dark matter,” he concludes. “In that case, they will have to come up with other explanations for the bumps we know we’re hearing in the night.”

New theory of gravity might explain dark matter (Science Daily): Erik Verlinde from Amsterdam is trying to get away from the need for dark matter by inventing a new theory of gravity. Is he on the brink of a scientific revolution or just whistling in the dark? He’s concerned that traditional gravity and quantum physics are incompatible. “Many theoretical physicists like me are working on a revision of the theory, and some major advancements have been made,” he says. “We might be standing on the brink of a new scientific revolution that will radically change our views on the very nature of space, time and gravity.”

Cosmological mystery solved by largest ever map of voids and superclusters (Phys.org): What the headline gives the conclusion takes away. While new maps of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) are consistent with Einstein’s relativity, “Our results resolve one long-standing cosmological puzzle, but doing so has deepened the mystery of a very unusual ‘Cold Spot’ in the CMB,” an astronomer says. “.…the Cold Spot mystery remains unexplained.”

Researcher presents work to understand formation of the universe (Phys.org): Just promises, promises: “If the predictions and the data match, it’ll be a further beautiful confirmation of the theory of general relativity, whereas if they don’t, it could be a tell-tale sign that we need a different theory.”

The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate—or is it? (Phys.org): This article presents the shocking possibility that dark energy may be a fiction – a wrong interpretation from too small a sample of supernovas. Now that a new sample ten times larger doesn’t show it, do three laureates have to give back their Nobel Prizes?

Rethinking the arrow of time (Science Magazine): Cosmologists aren’t sure what “now” means. They wonder why we remember the past but not the future. This book review indicates problems with the conventional understanding of time as the direction of increasing entropy. The reviewer likes the book, but says, “The significance of ‘now’ and how time, as well as space, might have been created by the Big Bang is more suggestive than emphatic, in my opinion.”

Nature’s Special Edition

On September 29, Nature published a special supplement about dark matter and dark energy. They make the world’s leading journal look like it dabbles in the occult: lots of toil and trouble, but so far only bubble.

The dark universe by Richard Hodson (Nature): Dark matter is still a mystery, but “Explaining dark energy is even tougher.”

The dark universe: 4 big questions by Neil Savage (Nature): And the questions are: (1) Is there a dark matter particle? (2) Does dark matter interact with anything? (3) Does the cosmological constant explain dark energy? (4) What will eventually happen to the universe.

Axion alert! Exotic-particle detector may miss out on dark matter by Davide Castelvecchi (Nature): This is about a “hunt in the dark” for a particle that depends on inflation theory.

Dark matter: What’s the matter? by Jeff Hecht (Nature): Reviewing all the negative results of searches, he says, “The leading theory of dark matter is running out of room to hide.”

Dark energy: Staring into darkness by Stephen Battersby (Nature): What do you see when you stare into the dark? Nothing except what you imagine. Battersby speaks of “An enduring puzzle… an energetic mystery.… dark futures” and other unknowns despite “a burst of ideas”. If dark energy exists, does it change over time? Answer the first question first.

Revealing the unseen Universe by Mark Zastrow (Nature): This article reviews the latest hardware trying to find gravitational waves and high-energy neutrinos. Those phenomena at least have some empirical basis.

Interview with Brian Schmidt (Nature): Schmidt shared a Nobel Prize in 2011 for the “discovery” of dark energy. He’s pretty confident of his finding (90%, he estimates), but he can’t rule out “unknown unknowns.” He adds, “But science is about getting out and occasionally being wrong, it’s what we’re there for.”

Interview with George Smoot (Nature): Smoot won a Nobel Prize in 2006 for finding tiny variations in the CMB that were interpreted as confirmation of the big bang. He’s asked about gravitational waves, not dark matter or energy.

Empirical Upsets

News outlets got all excited recently about results of a new sky survey involving the Hubble Space Telescope and other instruments.

  • Observable universe contains two trillion galaxies, 10 times more than previously thought (Science Daily)
  • The Universe Has 10 Times More Galaxies Than Scientists Thought (Live Science)
  • Our universe contains 10 times more galaxies than we thought (New Scientist)

The estimate comes from new mathematical models, not from actual counting. Still, it indicates how far off scientists can be about what is visible, let alone what is dark. “It boggles the mind that over 90 percent of the galaxies in the universe have yet to be studied,” Christopher Conselice, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Nottingham in the U.K., who led the study, said in a statement. “Who knows what interesting properties we will find when we observe these galaxies with the next generation of telescopes.”

Hello, Dr Cosmologist. What do you know?” Answer: “Not much. I don’t even know what I don’t know, or even what is knowable. But cosmic evolution is a fact!”

 

11 Comments

Reflectory November 15, 2016

David,

What is your alternative explanation for the phenomena that dark matter explains?

Please go into mathematical detail. We shall await breathlessly.

Editor November 15, 2016

Well, Reflectory, you’ll be breathless in due time according to your email address “return to cinder,” so why do you care about anything?
I suppose you would also argue that a movie critic must make a better movie or he has no right to an opinion.

Reflectory November 15, 2016

David,

You didn’t answer the question. What is your alternative explanation?

Editor November 15, 2016

Reflectory: Please read my earlier answer. You are committing the fallacy of shifting the burden of proof. It is the secular cosmologists’ obligation to prove their case, not for a reporter to provide an alternative. By their own admissions, as quoted above, they are lost in the dark. Let them drop their own failed theories and open their minds to alternatives that do not rely on occult phenomena.

Reflectory November 15, 2016

I’m afraid you don’t understand burden of proof.

Naturalism. Yes. This is how we understand reality. Unless you can prove Yahweh and Poseidon and Zeus. Good luck with that.

I know your alternative “explanation” is Jesus’s finger’s moving galaxy arms. I just want to hear you say it.

So, let us go through this charade you implore:

Please explain galaxy formation without dark matter and dark energy.

You know you want to say that Jesus’s finger done did it.

So I repeat: what is your alternative explanation?

Editor November 15, 2016

Oh, but you are not a naturalist yourself, Reflectory. Your own words reveal you to be a supernaturalist. You use the words “understand, reality, explanation” and “proof.” The laws of logic are not made of particles and forces; they supervene on nature because of the existence of mind and the necessity of moral truth. Neither of those evolve, and neither emerges from particles in motion. So it’s a question of which form of supernaturalism is true: your version in which reason and morality emerged blindly without a cause, or intelligent design. I cannot reason with someone who hides behind a charade of naturalism. And I certainly owe no obligation to answer a particular configuration of chemical reactions (that being you, according to your worldview).

Reflectory November 15, 2016

So instead of answering the plain question, you hide behind pre-sup apologetics.…

Editor November 15, 2016

All right, you got your 2 cents and more ad hominems in than you deserve. Happy Thanksgiving anyway.

Reflectory November 15, 2016

Still didn’t answer the question and edited my comment to boot. AND you demonstrate that like all creationists who learned what “ad hominem” means from Ken Ham, you don’t know what it means, exactly like him. LOL

Here’s some free education: ad hominem is a fallacy that reasons thusly: “You are stupid; therefore your arguments are false.” That is fallacious because it logically hangs the claims and validity of an argument solely on the ethos of the arguer. However, it is not fallacious to say “You are stupid. Here’s why: your arguments are invalid and your claims are false.”

Merry Christmas David!

Editor November 15, 2016

Well it appears that you just fell into your own hole. ‘Ken Ham is stupid, all creationists are stupid, therefore you are stupid.’ And since I did not learn any fallacies from Ken Ham, we can add ‘big lie’ to your list of violations. Since you know my name, how about revealing yours? Are you Ashley Haworth-Roberts coming back in a new disguise?
Your comments have veered way off the topic of the article, so they violate the rules for commenting. Happy New Year.

Buho November 15, 2016

Looks like I’m a bit late to this party.

Before I saw this mini-debate, though it ties into it, I wanted to comment that I’d like to see a run-down of reasons why so many scientists want to find dark matter and dark energy. I mean, if they can’t find anything like it, why do they keep hunting for it? What’s at stake? I’m vaguely familiar with one reason: it’s required to produce the arms in a spiral galaxy over billions of years. But if those billions of years don’t exist or initial conditions were finely tuned (by an intelligent designer) to produce these beautiful arms now (where they did not exist before), then there is no need for dark matter. Are there other reasons?

Reflectory, how did the ancients construct the giant heads on Easter Island? Did they use stone chisels? Steel tools? Power tools? Sand-blasting? Laser ablation? Was it one guy or a team? Was a rough shape hewn first followed by details? We might never know the exact mechanisms for creation, but we can certainly rule out naturalistic processes like wind, chemical weathering, and dark energy. Why are scientists so abhorrent to design when the evidence screams for it? Action by intelligence is a valid mechanism.

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