Edited, and updated today, from article ‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics’ originally published: 3 December 2008 creation.com
The big bang model, used to describe the observations made in the universe, according to its advocates, now precisely has determined the history of the universe. See left graphic. Yet to do so it is filled with unproveable fudge factors. That may sound like an exaggerated claim but it seems to be the state of cosmology today.
This situation has come about because of the unverifiable starting assumptions are inherently wrong! Some brave physicists have had the temerity to challenge the ruling paradigm—the standard big bang ΛCDM inflation cosmology.1 One of those is Prof. Richard Lieu, astrophysicist, of the Department of Physics, University of Alabama, who wrote:2
‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics: all the principal assumptions in this field are unverified (or unverifiable) in the laboratory … .’ [emphasis added]
In an online paper,2 Lieu says that,
‘because the Universe offers no control experiment, i.e. with no independent checks, it is bound to be highly ambiguous and degenerate.’
He means that the same observations can be interpreted in several different ways. This seems a fair analysis, because ‘cosmologists’ today are inventing all sorts of stuff that has just the right properties to make their theories work, but stuff that has never been observed in the lab. They have become ‘comfortable with inventing unknowns to explain the unknown,’ he says.
Dark matter and dark energy
Cosmologists tell us we live in a universe filled with invisible, unobserved stuff—74% dark energy and 22% dark matter. But what is this stuff that we cannot detect yet should be all around us? Only 4% of the matter/energy content of the Universe is supposed to be ordinary atoms that we are familiar with.
For 40 years, one form or another of dark matter has been sought in the lab, for example the axion (named after a popular US brand of laundry detergent, because they thought its discovery would clean up some problems with particle physics). I have myself looked a putative dark matter particle—the paraphoton—a WISP (Weakly Interacting Slim Particle) not a WIMP (Weakly Interacting Massive Particle)—in a lab experiment over the past 4 years without success. Recently a claim was made of detection in a lab experiment but that claim would need rigorous verification. See Does the claimed ‘find’ of dark matter end the ‘big bang’ crisis?
Long before that, scientists invoked dark matter to explain puzzling dynamics in the solar system, such as the hypothetical planet Vulcan hiding behind the Sun to account for the discrepancy with the orbit of the planet Mercury. But Einstein solved the astronomical problem of that day with his general theory of relativity. What was needed was new physics and not some unseen dark matter. Is this the same today? See also Has dark matter really been proven?
Now we also have dark energy that is supposedly driving the universe apart at an even faster pace than in the past. On 30 May 2004 Physicsworld.com reported3
‘New evidence has confirmed that the expansion of the universe is accelerating under the influence of a gravitationally repulsive form of energy that makes up two-thirds of the cosmos.
‘It is an irony of nature that the most abundant form of energy in the universe is also the most mysterious. Since the breakthrough discovery that the cosmic expansion is accelerating, a consistent picture has emerged indicating that two-thirds of the cosmos is made of “dark energy”—some sort of gravitationally repulsive material.’ [emphasis added]
Apparently dark energy is a confirmed fact. But does the evidence confirm the universal expansion is accelerating? They are right about the irony, that although this energy is so abundant it cannot be observed locally in the laboratory. In 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for the discovery of the accelerating universe, which means dark energy must be real stuff (yeah right!), but it has no correspondence to anything we know in the lab today. So that makes no sense.
So does this accurately sum up the state of the Universe today? Or does the Emperor need new clothes?
‘ … astronomical observations can never by themselves be used to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” a physical theory. This is because we live in only one Universe—the indispensible “control experiment” is not available’.
There is no way to interact with and get a response from the Universe to test the theory under question, like an experimentalist might do in a laboratory experiment. At most the cosmologist collects as much data as he can and uses statistical arguments to try to show that his conclusion is likely.
‘Hence the promise of using the Universe as a laboratory from which new incorruptible physical laws may be established without the support of laboratory experiments is preposterous … ’ [emphasis added]
Unknowns to explain unknowns
Lieu lists five evidences where cosmologists use ‘unknowns’ to explain ‘unknowns’, and hence he says they are not really astrophysicists. Yet these evidences are claimed to be all explained (and in the case of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB)4 radiation even predicted5) by the ΛCDM inflation model. None of them are based on laboratory experiments and they are unlikely to be ever explained this way. They are:
- redshift of light from galaxies, explained by expansion of space,6
- , explained as the afterglow of the Big Bang,
- perceived motion of stars and gases in the disks of spiral galaxies,7 explained by dark matter,
- distant supernovae8 being dimmer than they should be hence an accelerating universe, explained by dark energy,
- flatness (space has Euclidean geometry) and isotropy (uniformity in all directions),9 explained by inflation.10
The ‘unknowns’ in the lab (meaning not known to physics today) are listed in bold type.
As an experimentalist, I know the standards used in so-called ‘cosmology experiments’ would never pass muster in my lab. Yet it has been said we are now living in the era of ‘precision cosmology’.11
Cosmologist Max Tegmark said,
” … 30 years ago, cosmology was largely viewed as somewhere out there between philosophy and metaphysics. You could speculate over a bunch of beers about what happened, and then you could go home, because there wasn’t a whole lot else to do.”[But now they are closing in on a] “consistent picture of how the universe evolved from the earliest moment to the present.”11
How can that be true if none of Lieu’s five above listed observations can be explained by ‘knowns’? They have been explained by resorting to ‘unknowns’ with the sleight of hand that allows the writer to say ‘we are closing in on the truth.’
What this leads to
I recall Nobel Laureate Steven Chu speaking to a large gathering of high school children on the occasion of the Australian Institute of Physics National Congress at the Australian National University in Canberra in 2005. He said that we now understand nearly all there is to know about the Universe, except for a few small details like what is dark energy and dark matter, which [allegedly] make up 96% of the stuff in the Universe.
Well, the cosmologists may have their planned objectives, to shore up their faith in a model that is based on false and unverifiable assumptions, but it is leaky bucket that cannot hold back the evidence that ultimately will be published against it.
The fact is that the history of the universe cannot be determined from a model which cannot be independently tested. And many fudge factors are needed for the model to describe the observations. The Big Bang cosmology is verified in the minds of those who already hold to that belief—that the Universe created itself about 14 billion years ago—ex nihilo. To me the biblical big picture is far more believable—only we are left to fill in the details.
- ΛCDM = cold dark matter cosmology with a non-zero cosmological constant, that also involves a rapid Inflation stage to smooth out the clumpiness of the early density variations and solve numerous other problems, including the lack of monopoles etc. See footnote 9 for further details, and Lisle, J., Light-travel time: a problem for the big bang, Creation 25(4):48–49, 2003.
- Lieu, R., ΛCDM cosmology: how much suppression of credible evidence, and does the model really lead its competitors, using all evidence? 17 May 2007, available at http://arxiv.org/pdf/0705.2462v1.pdf
- See physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/19419
- CMB=cosmic microwave background radiation. See also Hartnett, J., The Big Bang fails another test: The background echo of the big bang’ was supposed to cast a shadow but only if it is really true that this radiation is coming from far away, CMI, 15 September 2006.
- But for the logical and scientific fallacies of this claim, see Sarfati, J., Nobel Prize for alleged big bang proof, 7–8 October 2006.
- The metric expansion of space is the increase of the distance between two distant parts of the universe with time. It is an intrinsic expansion whereby the scale of space itself is changed. That is, a metric expansion is defined by an increase in distance between parts of the universe even without those parts “moving” anywhere.
- The speeds of gases (and stars) in the outer regions of the disk in spiral galaxies are inferred from Doppler line redshifts or blueshifts and they don’t obey Keplar’s laws of motion as predicted by Newton’s law of gravitation. Because those ‘speeds’ are anomalous I use the word ‘perceived’ here as it is an interpretation of the observational data, yet I am not saying it is an unreasonable one, but that it is unproven.
- Supernova = exploding star. A certain class, type Ia, is used as a standard light source to measure distance in the cosmos.
- Flatness describes the fact that all we ever measure in the universe is Euclidean. This is a cosmological fine-tuning problem, where the force of the big bang expansion matched the force of gravity to one part in 1060. Furthermore, since the Universe has departed from the needed critical density over cosmic time it must have been closer to perfect flatness soon after the big bang. Another problem is the horizon problem which has to do with the fact that light has not had enough time since the big bang to travel between what should be causally coherent regions of the visible universe, which means they are not causally connected (i.e. beyond the ‘horizon’). For example, light from diametrically opposite side of the Universe. Then why is it isotropic, generally the same in every direction we look. This is particularly true for the temperature of CMB radiation where we see the same thing—the Universe is isotropic, the same in all directions to within about 1 part in 105. This is called the smoothness problem and it is even more incredible because as the Universe expanded the isotropy supposedly lessened, starting at the level of 1 part in 1040.
- Inflation is the extremely rapid exponential expansion of the early universe by a factor of at least 1078 in volume, driven by a negative-pressure vacuum energy density. The inflationary epoch comprises the first part of the electroweak epoch following the grand unification epoch. It lasted from 10−36 seconds after the big bang to sometime between 10−33 and 10−32 seconds. Following the inflationary period, the universe continued to expand, but at a slower rate.
- See for example, Ellis, R., New age of precision cosmology, physicsworld.com, 1 July 1999; Primack, J.R., Precision Cosmology, New Astron.Rev. 49:25–34, 2005; Tegmark M., Precision Cosmology, MIT World, 7 June 2008.
- Has ‘dark matter’ really been proven?
- Light-travel time: a problem for the big bang
- CMB conundrums
- The Big Bang fails another test
- WMAP ‘proof’ of big bang fails normal radiological standards
- Planck sees the Big Bang—or not?
- Modern science in creationist thinking
- Does observational evidence indicate the universe is expanding?—part 1: the case for time dilation
- Does observational evidence indicate the universe is expanding?—part 2: the case against expansion