Gravity: A Theory in Crisis
Note: This is **not** a joke. How could gravity be a theory in crisis? Isn’t gravity one of the best-understood facts of nature? Don’t we all avoid jumping off cliffs because of the law of gravity? Gravity is doing just fine, thank you. It’s our theory of gravity, and the cosmology built on it, that is in crisis – according to a report on PhysOrg today: “Study plunges standard Theory of Cosmology into Crisis.”
Problems began in the late 1990s when cosmologists found unexpected brightness readings from distant supernovae. They appeared fainter than expected. Astronomy magazines were awash in reports that some type of mysterious energy was accelerating the expansion of the universe. Since no one could observe this energy, it was called “dark” or mysterious. To this day, no one has figured out what it is (see 05/01/2009, bullet 9), even though most astronomers have been claiming that dark matter and dark energy constitute 95% of the stuff of the universe (09/20/2002, 05/10/2004)
Hiding most of the universe in mysterious unknown stuff has been wearing thin on cosmologists. It’s not even a solution: the PhysOrg article said, “Even if it does exist, dark matter would be unable to reconcile all the current discrepancies between actual measurements and predictions based on theoretical models.” The situation appears ripe for a paradigm change. “Hence the number of physicists questioning the existence of dark matter has been increasing for some time now.” Are there any other contenders?
A leading alternative would have shocked 19th century physicists. It’s called “Modified Newtonian Dynamics” (MOND) – suggesting that even the triumph of the great Isaac Newton was not forever.
Competing theories of gravitation have already been developed which are independent of this construction [of dark energy]. Their only problem is that they conflict with Newton’s theory of gravitation.
“Maybe Newton was indeed wrong”, declares Professor Dr. Pavel Kroupa of Bonn University’s Argelander-Institut f�r Astronomie (AIfA). “Although his theory does, in fact, describe the everyday effects of gravity on Earth, things we can see and measure, it is conceivable that we have completely failed to comprehend the actual physics underlying the force of gravity”….
It would not be the first time that Newton’s theory of gravitation had to be modified over the past hundred years. This became necessary in three special cases: when high velocities are involved (through the Special Theory of Relativity), in the proximity of large masses (through the theory of General Relativity), and on sub-atomic scales (through quantum mechanics).
A new report in The Astrophysical Journal is making a convincing case for MOND. “This is a problematical hypothesis that has nevertheless gained increasing ground in recent years, especially in Europe,” PhysOrg reported. Some of the problems are that distant satellite galaxies under MOND cannot contain any dark matter (06/30/2001), but are moving too fast to explain with classical (Newtonian) physics.
Or one must assume that some basic fundamental principles of physics have hitherto been incorrectly understood. “The only solution would be to reject Newton’s classical theory of gravitation”, says Pavel Kroupa. “We probably live in a non-Newton universe. If this is true, then our observations could be explained without dark matter”. Such approaches are finding support amongst other research teams in Europe, too.
In support of Newton, it could be argued that his law of gravity is being modified, not abandoned. As with relativity, classical mechanics works for our everyday experience. It’s only at the extremes of the very small and the very large where adjustments are needed. Still, relativity in the early 1900s and now MOND in the early 2000s are pointing out fundamental shortcomings in a theory that was considered throughout the Enlightenment as the epitome of scientific achievement – a law that scientists and philosophers for centuries trusted to explain all the motions of the universe.
Darwinists often parrot one of their favorite sound bites, “evolution is a fact, like gravity.” The fact is, Evolution is attacked, like gravity. The main difference is that undermining theories of gravitation does not threaten the naturalistic worldview that underlies Darwinism. Therefore, Darwin-doubters are attacked, with gravity [gravity, n., importance, significance, as, the gravity of an offense].
But is it any less grave an offense to fool the public by appealing to mysterious unknown stuff – dark matter and dark energy – for over a decade? (see 02/28/2008 and article on ICR). Ponder the substance of scientific appeals to imponderable substances. Cosmologists have been invoking these imponderable or occult (mysterious, unknown) substances with alacrity in their cosmological models. Think of everything built on top of these assumptions – the standard model of the Big Bang, for one.
Another imponderable substance may be the “force” of natural selection. Calling a metaphor a force is a farce. Metaphors bewitch you (07/04/2003). So do farces, which only have a dark side. Duct tape is better. It has both a light side and a dark side, and it binds the universe together. Enough of this. Now get some gravitas [gravitas, n.: seriousness or sobriety], and may the Source be with you.