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Perhaps no dark energy - Nobel prizes can't be taken back

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Winston

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A possible, major OOPS...

The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate—or is it?

http://phys.org/news/2016-10-universe-rateor.html

Five years ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, in the late 1990s, that the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace.

Their conclusions were based on analysis of Type Ia supernovae - the spectacular thermonuclear explosion of dying stars - picked up by the Hubble space telescope and large ground-based telescopes. It led to the widespread acceptance of the idea that the universe is dominated by a mysterious substance named 'dark energy' that drives this accelerating expansion.

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.

Professor Sarkar, who also holds a position at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, said: 'The discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe won the Nobel Prize, the Gruber Cosmology Prize, and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. It led to the widespread acceptance of the idea that the universe is dominated by "dark energy" that behaves like a cosmological constant - this is now the "standard model" of cosmology.

'However, there now exists a much bigger database of supernovae on which to perform rigorous and detailed statistical analyses. We analysed the latest catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae - over ten times bigger than the original samples on which the discovery claim was based - and found that the evidence for accelerated expansion is, at most, what physicists call "3 sigma". This is far short of the "5 sigma" standard required to claim a discovery of fundamental significance.

There is other data available that appears to support the idea of an accelerating universe, such as information on the cosmic microwave background - the faint afterglow of the Big Bang - from the Planck satellite. However, Professor Sarkar said: '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.

'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.'

Professor Sarkar added: '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.'

-----

I looked this up:

No one has ever been stripped of a Nobel Prize, because this is actually specifically forbidden by the organization which administers the Nobel Prizes. According to the Nobel Foundation, “no appeals may be made against the decision of a prize-awarding body with regard to the award of a prize,” and no prizes can be revoked after the fact, no matter how controversial they may seem. Despite the existence of several petitions pushing for retraction of controversial Nobel Prizes, it is unlikely that the organization will change its rules to make a revocation possible.
 

tightwad

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Well, there goes my excuse for getting home late after bowling. I usually tell my wife, "the universe is rapidly expanding and the dark matter slowed me down" Of course it never worked, but I had to give it a try. Her reply, "the only thing expanding are some certain gases and you are getting old - that's what slowing you down." Sigh, I can never win.
 

ksaves2

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So we're all going nowhere..................A bit slower?
 

Winston

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Well, there goes my excuse for getting home late after bowling. I usually tell my wife, "the universe is rapidly expanding and the dark matter slowed me down" Of course it never worked, but I had to give it a try. Her reply, "the only thing expanding are some certain gases and you are getting old - that's what slowing you down." Sigh, I can never win.
:) You've made the possible dark energy error even funnier.
 

aerostadt

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Winston,

Interesting article. Thanks for posting. Historically, the advancement of astronomy and theoretical physics has gone hand-in-hand with definite observations of new phenomena being quite often observed in astronomy first and corroborated by theoretical physics later. The presumptions of Dark Energy and Dark Energy are things that are very difficult to verify in the lab. The elusive theoretical particles for Dark Energy have yet to be confirmed in the lab. In fact Dark Energy probably involves scales that can never be verified in the lab. If the article is correct, then probably the Nobel prize for Dark Energy should not have been rewarded. It does make one wonder if the scientific community jumped to tenuous conclusions prematurely. The inflationary universe, which tends to be supportive of the observed cosmic background radiation, is widely accepted by the scientific community, but this is different than some later expansion.
 
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Winston

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Winston,

Interesting article. Thanks for posting. Historically, the advancement of astronomy and theoretical physics has gone hand-in-hand with definite observations of new phenomena being quite often observed in astronomy first and corroborated by theoretical physics later. The presumptions of Dark Energy and Dark Energy are things that are very difficult to verify in the lab. The elusive theoretical particles for Dark Energy have yet to be confirmed in the lab. In fact Dark Energy probably involves scales that can never be verified in the lab. If the article is correct, then probably the Nobel prize for Dark Energy should not have been rewarded. It does make one wonder if the scientific community jumped to tenuous conclusions prematurely. The inflationary universe, which tends to be supportive of the observed cosmic background radiation, is widely accepted by the scientific community, but this is different than some later expansion.
The following is my favorite cosmological theory since it neatly eliminates the singularity before the big bang while also explaining the far faster than speed of light inflation sequence - two branes spaced infinitesimally apart and not perfectly flat first colliding at a tiny single point which then expands rapidly outwards as the collision continues, the former point origin eliminating the singularity and the latter allowing the outward movement of the creation of space to be faster than the speed of light.

This is more of a religion than a science since it will be very difficult to prove, if it ever even can be, and is all math which, by the way, I don't come close to understanding. What lends credence to this math-based string theory stuff is the fact that the genius Edward Whitten took the five different independently consistent versions of string theory all arrived at independently and proved that they could all be beautifully mapped to one another as basically five internally consistent ways of looking at the same thing. That's one hell of a "coincidence."

Branes also possibly explain a few other things:

Why gravity is weak and the cosmological constant is small

Some versions of brane cosmology, based on the large extra dimension idea, can explain the weakness of gravity relative to the other fundamental forces of nature, thus solving the so-called hierarchy problem. In the brane picture, the other three forces (electromagnetism and the weak and strong nuclear forces) are localized on the brane, but gravity has no such constraint and propagates on the full spacetime, called bulk. Much of the gravitational attractive power "leaks" into the bulk. As a consequence, the force of gravity should appear significantly stronger on small (subatomic or at least sub-millimetre) scales, where less gravitational force has "leaked". Various experiments are currently under way to test this. Extensions of the large extra dimension idea with supersymmetry in the bulk appears to be promising in addressing the so-called cosmological constant problem.

Brane cosmology

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brane_cosmology

The Einstein level genius behind M-theory:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Witten

 
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tmacklin

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No one has ever been stripped of a Nobel Prize, because this is actually specifically forbidden by the organization which administers the Nobel Prizes. According to the Nobel Foundation, “no appeals may be made against the decision of a prize-awarding body with regard to the award of a prize,” and no prizes can be revoked after the fact, no matter how controversial they may seem. Despite the existence of several petitions pushing for retraction of controversial Nobel Prizes, it is unlikely that the organization will change its rules to make a revocation possible.

This isn't the first time they screwed up and it won't be the last.



 

Marc_G

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Interesting stuff.

However, the accelerating expansion hasn't been disproven, just made somewhat less likely. Time will tell. And even so, the universe is still expanding, perhaps just not quite as fast over time as previously thought.

It matters little; in 100 years everyone reading these words will be long dead...
 

KidRockET

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Dark energy causes...

Climate change...
 

Winston

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Interesting stuff.

However, the accelerating expansion hasn't been disproven, just made somewhat less likely. Time will tell. And even so, the universe is still expanding, perhaps just not quite as fast over time as previously thought.

It matters little; in 100 years everyone reading these words will be long dead...
Yeah, and we still have dark matter which I believe is on firmer observational grounds. However, even that could be due to some more fundamental misunderstanding of ours. The more we "know," the more we realize we don't know.
 
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