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.
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!”