Dark Matter Mystery Deepens
A new study by astronomers at the University of Portsmouth[i] finds that the cosmological constant, lambda, may not be a constant at all; it may be dynamic, changing over time. This implies that dark energy theory may not explain the cosmological constant as once thought. Their work is published in Nature Astronomy [ii] and summarized at Science Daily.
The cosmological constant, introduced by Albert Einstein over 100 years ago, is defined as the value of the energy density in the “vacuum” of space. Einstein added lambda to his equations in 1917 to force the math to work out in what was then believed to be a static universe. Hubble’s 1929 discovery that all galaxies outside the Local Group (the group of galaxies that contains our Milky Way) are moving away from each other implied an expanding universe rather than a static universe. After that discovery, Einstein abandoned the cosmological constant, calling it the biggest mistake of his life.
From 1929 until the early 1990s, most cosmologists assumed the expansion rate of the universe was slowing down due to gravity. Eventually, gravity would cause the universe that was initially in a state of dynamic equilibrium to stop, then contract, producing what was called the big crunch. It would rebound and expand again in another big bang. This would, according to common conceptions at the time, give rise to an oscillating universe that would expand only so far, stop, contract again, and collapse in cycles imagined to occur forever. The oscillating universe model, permitting an eternal universe, took the edge off theistic claims that the universe had a beginning and therefore must have had a Creator. The apparent discovery of dark energy in the 1990s, however, obliterated the oscillating universe. Dark energy is now considered an anti-gravity force that forever accelerates the expansion, preventing a big crunch. This forced cosmologists to face a beginning for the universe once again, and sent them scrambling for a new naturalistic model.
The discoverers of ‘dark energy’ were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2011. Measurements of supernova luminosities—assuming their distances by redshifts—were especially important in postulating the dark energy theory.[iii] As one commentator stated in an end-note to the article cited above, it appears that these Chinese researchers have falsified the standard cosmological constant. According to secular cosmologists, dark energy is a mysterious, unknown force behind not only the expansion of the universe, but its acceleration. According to the new consensus view, dark energy will eventually rip apart the very fabric of space-time. It can never return to its state at the beginning.
Dark energy is not the only mysterious “dark” component of modern cosmological models: there’s also dark matter. Observations of the rotation curves of galaxies, particularly of our own Milky Way, showed a deviation from expectations. Rather than tapering off, star rotational velocities stay fairly constant out to the edges. This surprising result, along with anomalous motions of galaxies within clusters, led to dark matter theory: some mysterious, unknown stuff must exist in abundance to hold these objects together.[iv] Around 1998, cosmologists were surprised again. They invented “dark energy to explain certain features of the expansion of the universe that could not be reconciled with observations of supernova magnitudes. Now … dark energy remains the most profound problem in physics.”[v]
Today, cosmologists tell us that dark matter and dark energy comprise 96% of the universe. Only 4% is matter and energy we can detect. The rest of reality is mysterious, unknown stuff.
The invention of dark energy reminds one of a remark by Timothy Ferris: “It used to be said that cosmologists, the scientists who study the universe as a whole, are ‘often in error but never in doubt.’”[vi] He added that “Nowadays they’re less often in error, but their doubts have grown as big as all outdoors”[vii] Dark energy is a prime example. Could it be that the indirect measurements which indicate the rate the universe’s expansion is increasing are caused by something else besides expansion? What that might be we can only theorize.[viii] The fact is, “much of our universe continues to be elusive” to explanation, and “the nature of most of the universe—the dark side—remains a mystery.”[ix]
Professor Bob Nichol, co-author of the study, added: “Since its discovery at the end of last century, dark energy has been a riddle wrapped in an enigma. We are all desperate to gain some greater insight into its characteristics and origin.”[x] In the end, he continued, “the nature of this missing mass has become one of the longest unsolved problems in modern physics.”[xi] And this is only one of the many major problems existing in modern evolutionary cosmology.
[iii] Freese, Katherine. 2014. The Cosmic Cocktail: Three Parts Dark Matter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. p. 11.
[iv] Freese, 2914. P. 11.
[vii] Ferris, 2015. P. 112.
[viii] Clegg, Brian. 2012. The Universe Inside of You. New York: MJF Books, p. 115
[ix] Freese, 2014, p. x.
[xi] Freese, 2014, pp. x, 9.
Science may never be able to explain such matters. Scripture may give us some hints that there’s more than we can see, indicated by references to “invisible” things (e.g., Colossians 1:16). The writer of Hebrews states: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). And Paul says in II Corinthians 4:18: “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
Dr Jerry Bergman, professor, author and speaker, is a frequent contributor to Creation-Evolution Headlines. See his Author Profile for his previous articles.
Speaking of dark matters, we recommend Dr Bergman’s eye-opening book, The Dark Side of Charles Darwin. Bergman sheds light onto the skeletons in the closet of the boy and the man who changed the world into a safe space for atheism, showing he was anything but innocent of what followed. Fully documented.