March 27, 2015 | David F. Coppedge

Evidence-Based Cosmology

From what we observe, we can draw inferences without the need to posit occult phenomena.

Anthropic Observables

Fine tuning: A new measurement of the ratio between proton and neutron masses was calculated ab initio by European scientists. This ratio is very important for the stability of atoms. Their result, published by Science Magazine, confirms the narrow range of values that make our universe possible:

The existence and stability of atoms rely on the fact that neutrons are more massive than protons. The measured mass difference is only 0.14% of the average of the two masses. A slightly smaller or larger value would have led to a dramatically different universe….

The mass of the visible universe is a consequence of the strong interaction, which is the force that binds together quarks into protons and neutrons. To establish this with percent-level accuracy, very precise calculations based on the lattice formulation of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of the strong interaction, were needed. Going beyond such calculations to control much finer effects that are at the per mil (‰) level is necessary to, for instance, account for the relative neutron-proton mass difference, which was experimentally measured to be close to 0.14%. Precisely, this difference is needed to explain the physical world as we know it today. For example, a relative neutron-proton mass difference smaller than about one third of the observed 0.14% would cause hydrogen atoms to undergo inverse beta decay, leaving predominantly neutrons. A value somewhat larger than 0.05% would have resulted in the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN), producing much more helium-4 and far less hydrogen than it did in our universe. As a result, stars would not have ignited in the way they did. On the other hand, a value considerably larger than 0.14% would have resulted in a much faster beta decay for neutrons. This would have led to far fewer neutrons at the end of the BBN epoch and would have made the burning of hydrogen in stars and the synthesis of heavy elements more difficult. We show here that this tiny mass splitting is the result of a subtle cancellation between electromagnetic and quark mass difference effects.

In combination with astrophysical and cosmological arguments, this figure can be used to determine how different values of these parameters would change the content of the universe. This in turn provides an indication of the extent to which these constants of nature must be fine-tuned to yield a universe that resembles ours.

Their calculation of the mass difference – 0.14% — is very tight: almost one in a thousand. If that ratio varied by one-third of that tiny amount, a universe with stars and complex life could not exist. In a summary of the paper in Science, Jelena Stajic agrees:

Elementary science textbooks often state that protons have the same mass as neutrons. This is not far from the truth—the neutron is about 0.14% heavier (and less stable) than the proton. The precise value is important, because if the mass difference were bigger or smaller, the world as we know it would likely not exist. Borsanyi et al. calculated the mass difference to high precision using a sophisticated approach that took into account the various forces that exist within a nucleon. The calculations reveal how finely tuned our universe needs to be.

This paper dealt with things that can be observed and measured: protons, neutrons, and (by consequence) stars, planets, and life.

Matters Dark and Mysterious

In the same issue of Science Magazine, however, other cosmologists are on a losing quest for something they cannot see and do not understand: dark matter. Even the name sounds occult. Whatever it is (if it exists), it is “in a form outside the standard model of particle physics.” Astrophysicists have been searching for dark matter (inferred only by its supposed gravitational effects) for years now. New results announced by the ESA/Hubble Information Centre say that dark matter is “even darker than once thought.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-Ray Observatory, astronomers looked for dark matter interactions in two colliding galaxy clusters but found none. The results show that “dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.”

We know how ordinary matter acts when it collides: it leaves detectable “wreckage” behind. Dark matter, by contrast, is “a giant question mark looming over our knowledge of the Universe,” the press release says. The non-detection of a recognizable interaction cross-section adds to the pile of failed searches (see 10/30/13, 10/06/14). If it was crunch time in 1/24/15, it’s even more so now. Are cosmologists on a snipe hunt, looking for a phantom that doesn’t exist? The BBC News comes just shy of calling it a ghost story:

“If you want to figure out what something is made out of, you knock it, or you throw it across the room and see where the bits go.”

In this case, the bits went straight through each other.

Unlike the gas clouds, which grind to a turbulent halt, and the stars, which mostly glide past each other, the ubiquitous dark matter passes through everything and emerges unscathed, like a ghost.

To be sure, there are still some options available for the searchers, but they are narrowing. How much more time do they get, before unbiased observers accuse them of tinkering with mythology? (1/24/14). Remember, these same secular cosmologists—most of them materialists—believe in another occult phenomenon, dark energy, that is even more mysterious. Yet dark energy is supposed to be even more plentiful than dark matter (10/21/12). The universe we observe, they claim, represents only 4% of reality.

If one believes occult phenomena account for 96% of reality, then anything is possible. No wonder NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine speculated that dark matter might have been responsible for mass extinctions and geologic upheavals. Ghosts can do mysterious things in the dark.

So there you have it. The fine-tuning of the cosmos is evidence-based, backed up by decades of precise measurements. The effects of fine tuning are clearly seen in the things that are measurable and observable: stars, planets, life, and our own bodies. Dark matter, by contrast, has no hard evidence. Believers are running out of options for their Mysterious Unknown Stuff.

Unless you are prepared to jump off the deep end with unverifiable imaginations about multiverses and Boltzmann brains (akin to paranoid delusions), you’re stuck with evidence-based cosmology. Fine-tuning implies a self-existent Tuner outside the cosmos. Check the scoreboard: intelligent design 100, unguided materialism 0. Now go watch Privileged Species featuring Michael Denton for relief of stress caused by occult speculations.


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