I have been struck by the
low level of interaction between the observational and theoretical branches of
the effort. This does follow an old and honorable tradition in cosmology, but I
am betting that the approach is now inefficient and will not last. ...
The big bang cosmology is
six decades old, and I am startled to realize I have been studying this world
model for nearly half that time. It never was my plan; in fact, my first
reaction to cosmology was one of surprise that grown people could seriously
care about such a schematic physical theory. ...
P. J. E. Peebles, Principles of Physical Cosmology, Princeton University Press, 1993;
pp xii & xvii
Letter to the Editors
Date: 4 December 2006
To: Astronomy & Astrophysics <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Physical Review D <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Discovery of the Year 1998 – Science
Physical Review D
Dear Esteemed Editors,
Not too long ago, the following items (1–4) were typical of
your literature relating to "dark energy."
1) These exploding white
dwarf stars all blow up with nearly the same brightness, acting as
"standard candles," whose apparent brightness as seen from Earth can
be translated into distances. …Everything that researchers have concluded so
far from these distant beacons rests on a crucial assumption: that the redshifts actually are caused by universal expansion. Most cosmologists don't question this assumption, but
a few mavericks have proposed alternative explanations for the reddening of
distant objects – for example, a sapping of the photons' energies as they
traverse great distances. ...
By examining the light
curves of about 40 supernovae, Berkeley's Gerson Goldhaber and others in the Perlmutter
group [Saul Perlmutter, of Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, is the leader of one of the
teams] found spectacular confirmation that they really are speeding away from
Earth: Events that actually take a month on Earth were stretched to almost 7
weeks for the most distant of the supernovae.
Exploding Stars Flash New Bulletins From Distant Universe, James Glanz,
Science 280, 1008-1009 (1998)
theory of inflation – the name he coined for this superfast
early-universe expansion – has since vanquished every theoretical challenge and
grown stronger with each new cosmological finding, including the latest,
largest one: that the universe's expansion rate, long
thought to be slowing, is actually accelerating.
Guth's Grand Guess, Brad
April 2002, pp 32-39
3) ...one of the most
stunning discoveries of the past quarter century: the determination that the
expansion of the universe is speeding up, not slowing down. ...The world was
surprised; gravity, it had been assumed, should be slowing the expansion. The
teams were doubly surprised; each was certain its competitor would screw up and
get the wrong answer.
The fact that two
independent and fiercely competitive teams arrived at the same result gave
quick credence to the accelerating universe. Science
named the finding the Breakthrough Discovery of the Year in 1998. With
the subsequent addition of confirming evidence from measurements of the cosmic
microwave background, cosmic speed-up has become universally
accepted. The underlying cause, the repulsive gravity of dark energy, is
one of the great mysteries in all of science today. ...
Yes, Things Really Are Going Faster, Michael
S. Turner (University
of Chicago), Science 299, 663 (2003)
4) The new observations,
which include six of the seven most distant supernovae
yet discovered, give the first glimpse of how a key property of dark
energy is changing over time. "Dark energy is about 70% of the universe,
and we don't have a clue what it is," says Mario Livio,
a theorist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI)
in Baltimore, Maryland. "What is the strength of the
repulsive force?" …Because their brightness is known, these [type Ia] supernovae act as cosmic yardsticks that tell
researchers how far away distant galaxies are; meanwhile their color reveals
how fast the galaxies are speeding away. These two bits of information allow
scientists to measure how fast the universe expanded during different eras of
its 13.7-billion-year history, and that tells them how quickly that expansion
is speeding up because of the push of dark energy.
Light From Most-Distant Supernovae Shows Dark
Energy Stays the Course, Charles Seife, Science 303, 1271 (2004)
Since of late, however, the scenario seems to have had a
reversal (5, in editorial summary)…
5) Type Ia supernovae are used as
cosmological distance indicators. It is through them that the accelerating
expansion of the Universe was detected, and with it
the implied existence of dark energy. Their presumed reliability as 'standard
candles' stems from the fact they have a fixed amount of fuel and a uniform
trigger: they are predicted to explode when the mass of the white dwarf nears
1.4 solar masses, the 'Chandrasekhar' mass. Howell et al. now show that the high-redshift supernova SNLS-03D3bb does
not play by these rules: its exceptionally high luminosity and low kinetic
energy imply a super-Chandrasekhar mass progenitor. So future cosmological studies may need to consider possible
contamination from such events when calculating distances.
Candle in the wind, Editor's Summary on: The type
Ia supernova SNLS-03D3bb from a
super-Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf star, D. Andrew Howell (University of
Toronto) et al., Nature 443, 308-311
It is more than likely that the farthest supernovae we now
observe (with improved instruments and techniques) are only of such stars in
excess of the Chandrasekhar mass. The simple reason is that stars beyond a
certain distance from us and falling below 1.4 solar masses would fail even in
supernova brightness for detection.
"So future cosmological studies may need to consider
possible contamination from such events when calculating distances."
It's a commendable statement coming not only early but also
from the highest levels of the conservative mainstream. Understandably, "possible
contamination" is also a diplomatic way of putting it to the community
that these distances reckoned in the past can no longer be acceptable. Further,
the most serious ramification is that related theories, too, would suffer
the same fate. (These would include star formation by accretion and
the "bottom-up" hierarchical growth of structure by gravity.)
In that respect, the singular model I put forward, in a book in 1999, has remained unchallenged to
date (Discover, April 2002, pp.
66-71, has a feature on it, perhaps as a counterpoint to item 2, above, from
that same issue!). In fact, the model propounded seems only to get buttressed
by every such (verified!) observation now increasingly streaming in.
For a glimpse of this final model in the context of the
subject at hand, please see The Cosmological
From this and other linked pages therein, we may now confidently relegate for
all time not only dark energy but also dark matter and black holes to science
Let us, therefore, have that greatness of mind, and of heart
toward the next generation of researchers, to thus speedily chart mainstream
science on a truer and non-dogmatic course and out of its present dark ages.
Thank you and best regards.
645 Beach Road
Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Tel: +9421 222 6851
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