You’re not lost in a directionless universe

A news article in appeared in Science titled “It’s official: You’re lost in a directionless universe”1 where the author Adrian Cho reported on the results of a research paper published in Physical Review Letters in September 2016. That paper is available online as a preprint.In the online Science article the conclusion of the research is stated that

“For the first time, we really exclude anisotropy,” [the lead author] Saadeh says. “Before, it was only that it hadn’t been probed.”

universe_cmb

Top image: CMB temperature anisotropies map from Planck satellite. Bottom image: Simulated image from one of the models used where a preferred axis was introduced. Credits: (Top to bottom) ESA and the Planck Collaboration; D. Saadeh et. al., zenodo

The research involved simulations on a supercomputer where various forms of anisotropic structure and expansion of the universe were introduced in modelled universes. The authors looked for how those would affect any putative patterns that might be observed in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. The design was to see what would produce anisotropy in the CMB temperature data. See illustration to the right.

They found that none of the patterns they produced are observed in the CMB data from the Planck satellite. Ok, so that solves it! The Universe is isotropic and therefore the fundamental assumption for the big bang model—that is, matter is distributed uniformly throughout the Universe, on the largest scales–is correct and hence it validates the choice of the standard ΛCDM big bang model to describe the Universe. Well, no, not actually.

Firstly, for that to be true it would have to be assumed that the authors modelled all possible sources of anisotropy in the Universe. It would also have to be assumed that the patterns they generated in their modelled CMB temperature anisotropies were, in fact, indicative of large scale structure in the real Universe. There is no independent way to test that. All that researchers have available to them is supercomputer modelling. So how can you know what the Universe should look like with different types of anisotropic distributions of matter? There are no other universes available except this one, therefore we are always limited by this fundamental uncertainty. Continue reading

Development of an “old” universe in science

Notes of a lecture on the historical philosophical development of the notion that the universe is very old. The lecture was given August 1st 2015. See Age and Reason Seminar Adelaide for details.


Bishop James Ussher was the Irish Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland. He excelled in education, was fluent in Arabic and Hebrew. In 1654, after an exhaustive investigation, he published his date for the Creation of the Universe – 4004 B.C..When Ussher published this Creation date it was believed. There was nothing remarkable about that. If you add up the genealogies in the Bible, and with a bit of historical knowledge, you can easily get a time since the beginning of the world of around 6000 years. It was believed that God created the world as He said in Scripture about 4000 years before Christ. For roughly 18 centuries of the Christian era such a time period was widely believed.

In the 17th century Sir Francis Bacon developed the ideas of the modern scientific method – scientific empiricism—where one developed a thesis and did experiments to test it. Bacon has been called the ‘father of the scientific method.’

Middle ages onAnd it was from the Middle Ages science was nurtured in the Christian universities of Europe and flourished after that, from the Reformation on, underpinned by the rich Christian worldview that held that the Universe was created by a rational trustworthy God, and the unchanging laws of nature are His creation. Continue reading

Big Bang Fudge Factors

Hubble-universe

Alleged history of the Universe (from wikipedia)

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 article was edited and updated from my article ‘Cosmology is not even astrophysics,’ originally published 3 December 2008, creation.com.)

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]

Continue reading