Water, Water Everywhere in Space
The largest mass of water has been found surrounding a black hole in a quasar 12 billion light-years away. Space.com says the cloud harbors “140 trillion times more water than all of Earth’s oceans combined.” The discovery not only that “water has been prevalent in the universe for nearly its entire existence,” but that it “was present only some 1.6 billion years after the beginning of the universe.” Alberto Bolatto, of the University of Maryland, said, "This discovery pushes the detection of water one billion years closer to the Big Bang than any previous find.”
In other cosmology news:
- Lumpiness problem accentuated: A monster black hole two billion times the mass of the sun was found at redshift 7.085, just 770 million years after the big bang in the standard cosmological model (Nature June 30, 2011, pp. 583-584, doi:10.1038/474583a). For lumpiness problem, see 06/17/2011.
- Theory-laden methods: Astronomers are worried that the masses of the largest objects in the universe (galaxy clusters) appear to depend on the method used to weigh them (PhysOrg). They call this an “axis of evil” – “it is as if the Universe is being difficult by keeping back one or two pieces of the jigsaw and so deliberately preventing us from calibrating our weighing scales properly.”
- Evolution upset: Galaxies apparently do not form primarily by mergers, but by slow accretion of matter. According to Space.com, a “surprising find” that is “questioning long held theory” is portraying galaxies as slow eaters, not gas guzzlers.
- Dark matters: Astronomers in east Europe and Russia are claiming that mysterious unknown stuff, usually called dark matter, evolves the same way as ordinary observable stuff (visible matter). The article portrays dark matter as “exotic particles, not yet known to science” (Science Daily). See 02/28/2008, 10/08/2009.
- Cyclic universe because standard model needs alternatives: A European cosmologist is trying to simultaneously resurrect the cyclic universe model and account for the predominance of matter over antimatter (PhysOrg). Key quote: “Whether or not this scenario is accurate, Hajdukovic explains that it's important to investigate alternatives to the standard model of cosmology, given its limitations.”
- Rewrite the textbooks: Most elliptical galaxies are like spirals, a new atlas of galaxies shows. They would look disk shaped like spirals if their gas was removed (Science Daily). “The findings are likely to change our ideas of how galaxies form and see astronomy text-books rewritten.”
Philosophers and historians of science may want to take note of an article on PhysOrg, “The constants they are a changin'.” Sure enough, NIST is revising the values of some of the fundamental constants of nature. “The constants, which range from relatively famous (the speed of light) to the fairly obscure (Wien frequency displacement law constant) are adjusted every four years in response to the latest scientific measurements and advances,” the article explained. If nothing else, take time to enlarge the figure at the beginning of the article. This story brings to mind a Murphyism known as Osborn’s Law: “Variables don’t; constants aren’t.”
Don’t read a modern textbook on stellar evolution, galaxy evolution or cosmology (09/28/2009). The textbooks are being rewritten at such a rapid rate, you will only clutter your brain with falsehoods, and will have to unlearn what you learned. There is some value in reading them, though – for historians. It’s instructive to delve through the dustbin of discarded ideas to assemble lists of things that were taught to students as scientific fact, as a warning to them to become skilled at the art of critical thinking.
Interesting the prominence Genesis gives to primordial water at the creation (Genesis 1). The Bible’s top-down account of creation solves many problems. By contrast, evolutionists, with their bottom-up philosophy, have to build water up with only hydrogen and helium (and traces of lithium) to start with – actually, less than that: nothing that banged. They have to speculate that the first stars they call “Population III” (never observed) formed out of condensed hydrogen gas once atoms formed, burned for millions of years, then blew up as supernovae to create oxygen and other heavy elements before any water was possible. Even then, they have to account for the current observation of a supermassive black hole surrounded by incredible amounts of water shortly after their big bang. That’s just one of many awkward speculations required by the bottom-up feeders.