January 15, 2024 | David F. Coppedge

Big Bang Cosmology Still in Crisis

The lumpiness problem keeps
getting worse, and most of reality
remains unknown to science.

 

Remember when astronomy was one of the “hard sciences”? Intimately tied to physics, whose laws are well characterized, astronomy seemed reliable. Astronomy lecturers with their chalkboards could explain stars, galaxies and the large-scale structure of the universe with equations. Cosmologists didn’t need to rethink the big bang, because cosmic expansion due to a big bang singularity seemed an established fact. They invoked the “Copernican Principle” (which Copernicus did not believe), sometimes called the cosmological principle, claiming that the universe is uniform and isotropic—implying that humans occupy no special place in the cosmos.

That was then. This is now.

Huge ring of galaxies challenges thinking on cosmos (BBC News, 11 Jan 2024). A large quasi-circular ring of galaxies has been detected. They call it the Big Ring. It’s 15 times the apparent diameter of the moon. It shouldn’t exist. Evolutionary materialist Pallab Ghosh reports that it “is so big it challenges our understanding of the universe.” Think about that. If the universe includes all of reality, what does that imply about modern science’s grasp of reality?

Such large structures should not exist according to one of the guiding principles of astronomy, called the cosmological principle. This states that all matter is spread smoothly across the Universe.

Ghosh quotes a UK astronomer, who says this “violation of the cosmological principle” is not the only bad news for standard theories.

According to Dr Robert Massey, deputy director of the Royal Astronomical Society, the evidence for a rethink of what has been a central plank of astronomy is growing.

“This is the seventh large structure discovered in the universe that contradicts the idea that the cosmos is smooth on the largest scales. If these structures are real, then it’s definitely food for thought for cosmologists and the accepted thinking on how the universe has evolved over time,” he said.

Dark Arts

Why is the universe ripping itself apart? (The Conversation, 8 Jan 2024). “A new study of exploding stars shows dark energy may be more complicated than we thought,” worries Australian astronomer Brad E. Tucker in Tontological form. He’s been part of a team measuring more light from Type Ia supernovas, the “standard candles” for cosmology. The results so far do not fit Einstein’s view of a “cosmological constant” that might explain the accelerating expansion.

Where does this leave us? With the idea that a more complex model of dark energy may be needed, perhaps one in which this mysterious energy has changed over the life of the universe.

The “cosmological constant,” however, is just a fudge factor that acts as a placeholder for ignorance. Einstein inserted the mathematical term early in his theorizing to keep the universe static. That doesn’t reify the fudge factor in the physical realm.

Largest stream of stars ever found could teach us about dark matter (New Scientist, 2 December 2023). Last month, Leah Crane reported on another big structure. The “newfound Giant Coma Stream of stars stretches nearly 1.7 million light years across,” she writes, hoping that apparent “holes” in the stream might be explained as voids “blasted through it by clumps of dark matter.” Her selected expert Javier Román tries to put a happy face on this discovery.

According to our standard model of cosmology, dark matter should clump up into “haloes”. As the galaxies in the Coma cluster whip around one another, so too should these haloes. Eventually some could barrel through the stream, leaving holes behind. These perturbations could be used to investigate the nature of the dark matter in the haloes, says Román.

Photograph of dark matter. White background provided for contrast.

But if astronomers do not know what dark matter is—if they have no observable particle to explain it—then the high perhapsimaybecouldness index in his statement indicates a high degree of ignorance.

New dark matter theory explains two puzzles in astrophysics (UC Riverside, 7 Dec 2023). Finagle’s Second Law jokes, “No matter what the anticipated result, there will always be someone eager to (a) misinterpret it, (b) fake it, or (c) believe it happened according to his own pet theory.” Is that happening here? Hai-Bo You steps up to bluff about his theory that he claims kills two birds with one stone: hot dark matter.

“The first is a high-density dark matter halo in a massive elliptical galaxy,” Yu said. “The halo was detected through observations of strong gravitational lensing, and its density is so high that it is extremely unlikely in the prevailing cold dark matter theory. The second is that dark matter halos of ultra-diffuse galaxies have extremely low densities and they are difficult to explain by the cold dark matter theory.

But cold dark matter (CDM) has long been the leading component of the big bang theory. What happens to other things when it gets replaced by theoretical SIDM—self-interacting dark matter? It may solve two problems but create many more. Stand by for the futureware update. “We hope our work encourages more studies in this promising research area,” Yu says.

‘We do not understand how it can exist’: Astronomers baffled by ‘almost invisible’ dwarf galaxy that upends a dark matter theory (Live Science, 15 Jan 2024). The headline speaks for itself. “Astronomers have discovered a super diffuse dwarf galaxy, named Nube, which gives off barely any visible light and seemingly defies explanation.”

Normally, astronomers think such gravitational anomalies are caused by dark matter — a mysterious type of matter with unknown origins that does not react with light and supposedly makes up around 27% of the universe’s mass. However, based on our current understanding of dark matter, there should not be enough of it to explain Nube’s unusual properties.

Before engaging any new, exotic theories, astronomers should apologize for misleading the public by making up mysterious, unknown stuff with “unknown origins.” Why was that considered “understanding” the universe at all?

Bleak Future

How galactic mysteries near and far are poised to shake up cosmology (New Scientist, 11 Jan 2024). Cosmology’s woes are accelerating, too, says astronomer Chanda Prescod-Weinstein. But she’s happy about it: it brings job security to the people who have been wrong for decades. “What a time to be an astrophysicist” she blurts. Yes, it’s a great time to be wrong. Look excited!

There were some exciting goings-on in astrophysics last year. The one that probably got the most attention was the question of whether NASA’s latest flagship observatory, aka JWST or what I like to call the Just Wonderful Space Telescope, had upended what we know about the timeline of galaxy formation. The hints that there might be a problem with our understanding of how galaxies take shape came almost as soon as JWST started returning data. In 2022, the world watched as astronomers learned that galaxies seemed to form earlier, or at least faster, than expected in the early universe.

Early maturity and early structure after a chaotic, random spread of particles was not expected (see xx). But that wasn’t the only upset. She mentions several others.

There is still a lot to be learned, which is part of what makes this JWST mystery so alluring. It is possible that the low metallicity in these early galaxies is telling us something about the history and structure of the IGM [intergalactic medium] and how galaxies have interacted with it over time. Thus, JWST has opened a host of new questions about star formation, galactic gases and extragalactic gases.

Here is a lesson on how to turn negative publicity into positive advertising. She says, “This is a great example of how doing science doesn’t lead to the end of science, but rather to more questions in need of answers.”

So how much should we trust a scientific community that has misled the public for decades about the nature of the universe? Is epic failure the way to “do science”? Would that work in any other job?

Cosmologists, it’s OK to admit ‘We were wrong, and we need to start over with new assumptions.’ Don’t give us this happy-face excited look about how glad you are that new data is exposing your mistakes. This goes for you, too, theistic evolutionists and methodological naturalists. Here’s a new foundation to build on that might work a lot better.

Postscript:

‘This century is special’: Martin Rees on the vast span of time (New Scientist, 5 Jan 2024). These failures by cosmologists did not stop “Astronomer Royal” Martin Rees from boasting that “Cosmology has transformed our understanding of time past and the aeons to come, pointing to a deep future in which life may morph into incredible forms.” He mocks the Biblical timeline and visualizes humans taking control of their own evolution, saying, “evolution via ‘secular intelligent design’ could operate far faster than Darwinian selection.”

Of course, Dr Rees has not actually experienced any vast aeons of time. From the photo in the article, he’s looking a little up in years. Maybe he should prepare to meet his Maker, since cyborgs from the future are unlikely to help him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  • dsharp says:

    I was confused where in the first article from the BBC you wrote that the huge ring of galaxies is “15 times the apparent diameter of the moon.” I thought that’s not very big. Then I read the BBC article. So suggest you add to your article the phrase size of the Moon “in the night sky as seen from Earth.” The word “apparent” may mean the same, but not to this uneducated novice.

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