In 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, as part of two separate teams which published their results around 1998 that they claimed showed that the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. Also they claimed the existence of some sort of mysterious ‘dark energy’ that was driving the expansion at a faster and faster rate.
The interpretation of the 1998 data depended heavily on the big bang cosmological theory they applied and the assumption that it was the correct theory to describe the structure and time evolution of the Universe. It also depended heavily on the assumption that the type Ia supernova explosions that they used are reliable standard “light bulbs”, i.e. that those stellar explosions all were accurately chosen to have the same characteristic intrinsic absolute brightness.1 The latter, however, we now know is not the case.2
It has been shown that the stellar masses of the stars that result in the type Ia class of supernova are not so well-defined that they all fall within a narrow range as to give a clear standard in terms of the intrinsic brightness of the resulting explosions and hence the type Ia are not a uniform reference. Also as I have previously indicated circular reasoning was employed in the choice of the candidate supernova to be considered.2,3 The cosmology under test was used to choose the candidate Ia supernovae and then those chosen were used to test the same cosmology.
A new study, published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports, on a data set ten times larger than the original studies used (5 years ago) has been carried out.4
Now, a team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept. Making use of a vastly increased data set – a catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae, more than ten times the original sample size – the researchers have found that the evidence for acceleration may be flimsier than previously thought, with the data being consistent with a constant rate of expansion. (emphasis added)
So when you include ten times the amount of data and still use the flawed Freidmann-Lemaître big bang cosmology you now can say that those new data are consistent with no acceleration in the expansion.
The standard line is to say that there are other lines of evidence supporting the accelerating expansion. One of those claimed is the data from the cosmic microwave background (CMB). That radiation is assumed to be the faint afterglow of the big bang and there has now been two very precise measurements of the radiation and its temperature variations across the sky using the WMAP and the Planck satellites.
However, Professor Sarkar, who carried out this new study (and I am sure he is a big bang believer) said in reference to the CMB data:4
‘All of these tests are indirect, carried out in the framework of an assumed model, and the cosmic microwave background is not directly affected by dark energy. Actually, there is indeed a subtle effect, the late-integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect, but this has not been convincingly detected.’ (emphasis added)
I agree. The standard big bang model is first assumed then tested against the data. If something else is needed to make it fit the data it is included as a dark entity, like dark matter or dark energy. But they are really just fudge factors.5 There was one effect that was expected to be observed in the CMB data — the Sachs-Wolfe effect. It is the integrated effect on the CMB radiation passing through many gravitational potential wells of the galaxy clusters in its path to Earth. But that effect has not been detected.
‘So it is quite possible that we are being misled and that the apparent manifestation of dark energy is a consequence of analysing the data in an oversimplified theoretical model – one that was in fact constructed in the 1930s, long before there was any real data. A more sophisticated theoretical framework accounting for the observation that the universe is not exactly homogeneous and that its matter content may not behave as an ideal gas – two key assumptions of standard cosmology – may well be able to account for all observations without requiring dark energy. Indeed, vacuum energy is something of which we have absolutely no understanding in fundamental theory.’4 (emphasis added)
His first point is something I have said for a long time. I don’t think though that he would advocate giving up the idea of big bang cosmology but rather modifying it to allow for a non-homogenous universe. But I agree, we have been misled for a very long time. And now the cacophony from the dark entities of the dark sector are mounting significantly, leading to a ludicrous state in cosmology.6
Professor Sarkar added:4
‘Naturally, a lot of work will be necessary to convince the physics community of this, but our work serves to demonstrate that a key pillar of the standard cosmological model is rather shaky. Hopefully this will motivate better analyses of cosmological data, as well as inspiring theorists to investigate more nuanced cosmological models. Significant progress will be made when the European Extremely Large Telescope makes observations with an ultrasensitive “laser comb” to directly measure over a ten to 15-year period whether the expansion rate is indeed accelerating.’ (emphasis added)
He admits the standard big bang cosmology is on shaky grounds but must of course be hopeful that new data in the future will validate an accelerating universe.
If nothing else you take from his comments, in regards to his new study, is that the whole ‘science’ of cosmology is, at best, flaky. Cosmology is not actually science in the usual testable laboratory sense, because we cannot interact with the Universe, nor can we know what the Universe should actually look like at any epoch of its alleged evolution. Big bang cosmology is really a philosophical belief system and the standard model is based on the underlying assumption that there is no Creator. Hence the emergence of many dark sector entities, which are used to prop up the failed paradigm, even though we are constantly being told of the new improved precision with which cosmologist have determined the dark energy content or the dark matter content.
It reminds me of the story of the doctor every day telling the relatives that the patient was improving. Then when the patient died they asked the doctor, “What did he die from?” The doctor relied, “From improvements!”
Here we now read that dark energy is not needed when you include a larger type Ia data set to test the model.
I recall several years ago Nobel laureate Stephen Chu once addressing a thousand high school students in Canberra Australia. He said that we now know almost everything there is to know about the Universe except a few small details, what are dark energy and dark matter, which he said make up 96% of the matter/energy content of the Universe. He wasn’t trying to be funny. He was serious. But maybe he just could not see the problem.7
Interview with Prof. Sarkar (3 September 2018)
- Type Ia Supernovae, Hubblesite, accessed November 4, 2016.
- J.G. Hartnett, Accelerating Universe: Standard ‘light bulbs’ not so standard, April 29, 2015.
- J.G. Hartnett, Is the Universe really expanding — the evidence revisited, July 29, 2016.
- The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate—or is it? Phys.org, October 21, 2016.
- J.G. Hartnett, Big bang fudge factors, December 24, 2013.
- J.G. Hartnett, Where materialism logically leads, June 1, 2016.
- J.G. Hartnett, Cosmology’s Achilles’ heel, June 30, 2015.