Plentiful Water in the Early Universe, and Other Surprises
Based on the following unexpected findings, secular astronomers’ ignorance of reality has reached cosmic proportions.
Plentiful water: It wasn’t supposed to exist, but “water was plentiful in the early universe,” Astrobiology Magazine says. Notice the contrast between belief and discovery:
Astronomers have long held that water — two hydrogen atoms and an oxygen atom — was a relative latecomer to the universe. They believed that any element heavier than helium had to have been formed in the cores of stars and not by the Big Bang itself. Since the earliest stars would have taken some time to form, mature, and die, it was presumed that it took billions of years for oxygen atoms to disperse throughout the universe and attach to hydrogen to produce the first interstellar “water.”
New research poised for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters by Tel Aviv University and Harvard University researchers reveals that the universe’s first reservoirs of water may have formed much earlier than previously thought — less than a billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only 5 percent of its current age.
Rare oxygen: By contrast, astronomers expected to find a lot of molecular oxygen in space. But now, Ken Croswell writes in Science Magazine, astronomers have to face the opposite reality. In “Why there is so little breathable oxygen in space,” he says that observations are forcing a new explanation for the unexpected results:
Oxygen is the third most common element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium, and in the 1970s astronomers predicted that molecular oxygen would be the third most common interstellar molecule, after molecular hydrogen (H2) and carbon monoxide (CO). It obviously isn’t. In fact, astronomers have detected interstellar molecular oxygen in only two places: the Orion Nebula and the Rho Ophiuchi cloud. But even there the molecule is much rarer than theory predicts. For example, hydrogen molecules in the Orion Nebula outnumber oxygen molecules a million to one.
Millions of missing galaxies found hiding in plain sight: That’s the headline of an article by Michael Slezak on New Scientist. Astronomers had thought that “compact spherical galaxies” represented an early stage of galactic evolution. Now, lo and behold, they’re found all over, even in the Milky Way. They have “exactly the same physical mass and compact size as the galaxies in the early universe,” astronomers say, and are 1000 times more prevalent in the local universe than previously thought, “roughly as many as there were in the early universe.” So much for that part of galaxy evolution theory. Did anyone predict this? Watch for the puzzled looks:
Emanuele Daddi at the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission was one of the first researchers to notice the apparent excess of compact spherical galaxies in the early universe. “The idea did not occur to us that they could actually be bulges of local [disc galaxies] that had not yet grown their discs,” says Daddi. “Neither did the few hundred papers that subsequently studied the problem consider this idea.“
Big void: Watch the bang fizzle in this unexpected finding about the large-scale structure of the universe, as reported by the Royal Astronomical Observatory: “Cold Spot suggests largest structure in Universe: a supervoid 1.3 billion light years across.” Carole Mundell at The Conversation says that this supervoid may not be the only one. The finding is leaving astronomers scrambling for a theory rescue device, including possible “exotic physics”—
In 2004, astronomers examining a map of the radiation left over from the Big Bang (the cosmic microwave background, or CMB) discovered the Cold Spot, a larger-than-expected unusually cold area of the sky. The physics surrounding the Big Bang theory predicts warmer and cooler spots of various sizes in the infant universe, but a spot this large and this cold was unexpected.
Dark matter: Here’s a vocabulary word to know in cosmology: “upend.” It means to tip over, invert, or falsify. Watch for it in this Nature article; it’s “unorthodox.”
After decades of studying dark matter scientists have repeatedly found evidence of what it cannot be but very few signs of what it is. That might have just changed. A study of four colliding galaxies for the first time suggests that the dark matter in them may be interacting with itself through some unknown force other than gravity that has no effect on ordinary matter. The finding could be a significant clue as to what comprises the invisible stuff that is thought to contribute 24 percent of the universe.
“This result, if confirmed, could upend our understanding of dark matter,” says physicist Don Lincoln of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois, who was not involved in the research. So-called “self-interacting dark matter” has been suggested for some time but it has generally been considered unorthodox.
Therein lies a conundrum; it’s a little hard to upend something that is not understood to begin with. Adrian Cho says for Science Magazine that this could “force a rethink of dark matter” now that the thinking has been upended.
Out-of-place black hole: Science Daily notes another surprise: “Dartmouth astrophysicists and their colleagues have not only proven that a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn’t supposed to be, but in doing so have opened a new door to what things were like in the early universe.” This implies, though, that the way things are supposed to be (according to astronomers’ theories) is wrong. Does that provide confidence that they see clearly behind the new door? The article goes on to quote astronomers who admit they don’t know what the conditions were for galaxy formation, or where black holes come from. “‘All the associations that people have made between galaxies and black holes tell us there ought to be no black hole in this system,” says [Thomas] Whalen, but the team has proven otherwise.”
A scientist will now explain dark energy: In an “Explainer” article on The Conversation, Robert Scherrer, astronomer at Vanderbilt U, comes to reassure the public that cosmologists know what they are talking about when they discuss “the mysterious dark energy that speeds the universe’s rate of expansion.” There’s the pithy illustrations for the layman, and the trust in the bruised reed of supernova standard candles, and a smorgasbord of possible explanations, including vacuum energy and the cosmological constant. His ending possibility, though, could be unsettling to the trusting student taking notes:
There is one other possibility: maybe scientists have been barking up the wrong tree. Maybe there is no dark energy, and our measurements actually mean that Einstein’s theory of gravity is wrong and needs to be fixed. This would be a daunting undertaking, since Einstein’s theory works exceptionally well when we test it in the solar system. (Let’s face it, Einstein really knew what he was doing). So far, no one has produced a convincing improvement on Einstein’s theory that predicts the correct expansion for the universe and yet agrees with Einstein’s theory inside the solar system. I’ll leave that as a homework problem for the reader.
Questionable chutzpah: “How we recreated the early universe in the laboratory” is a bold headline for a physicist from Queen’s University Belfast, but Gianluca Sarri tried it on for size in The Conversation. He’s addressing the antimatter conundrum of cosmology—the puzzle why our universe is predominantly made of matter, when big bang theory predicts an equal mix of matter and antimatter.
Understanding how matter behaves in this exotic state is crucial if we want to understand how our universe has evolved and, in particular, why the universe as we know it is made up mainly of matter. This is a puzzling feature, as the theory of relativistic quantum mechanics suggests we should have equal amounts of the two. In fact, no current model of physics can explain the discrepancy.
While Sarri might gain some bragging rights over the clever experiment his team performed to create the first electron-positron plasma in a laboratory, it’s hard to see how it relates to the real universe. He says the experiment “means an exciting branch of physics is opening up” that may help with “investigating the important matter-antimatter asymmetry,” but this implies that they’re only at the starting line, and a lot of work remains ahead.
Update 5/14/15: A press release from the Royal Astronomical Society suggests that a left-handed helical magnetic field that pervades the universe might explain the antimatter asymmetry. New Scientist says these “giant spirals found in space could explain our existence.” The physicist who proposes this solution says, “With this new result, we have one of the first hints that we might be able to solve this mystery.” It seems to just push the problem one step back, though: why would the universe show a preference for one hand over the other… or both? It’s back to the fine-tuning of initial conditions that kept our universe from annihilating itself.
Update 5/14/15: A rare quadruple quasar was reported by Science Magazine, which says this is a one-in-10-million chance. Ending comment by Daniel Clery: “So is this a cosmic fluke, or is it time to rewrite our theories of how the universe’s largest structures form?”
Was there ever a better illustration of the Blind Men and the Elephant? These stories, from leading journals and reliable sources, show that the most eminent astronomers and cosmologists are clueless about major aspects of the universe. Those programs people watch on TV (like Cosmos) that wallow in scientism and false confidence are caricatures of the reality. Secular cosmologists don’t understand 94% of reality, assigning it to dark things they know nothing about; they invoke occult phenomena left and right to rescue their assumptions, and they are surprised at every turn. They were clueless 15 years ago when we first started reporting the science news (e.g., 5/30/01), and they are just as clueless now, even with dark matter detectors, WMAP, BICEP and all the other whiz-bang instruments at their disposal.
Try Google-searching “big bang predictions” and you will likely find Bob Enyart’s list of failed big bang predictions at the top. The video clip about “Big Bang’s Missing Antimatter” is particularly amusing. Ask yourself; isn’t science supposed to be about things we know? People who believe God created the universe should not be afraid of these Sons of Anak in their walled cities (the universities). If they build on the wrong foundation, their house will fall.