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   <aanda.paris@obspm.fr>

               Astrophysical Journal           <apj@as.arizona.edu>

               Discover                               <editorial@discover.com>

Nature                                  <nature@nature.com>

               Physical Review D               <prd@aps.org> <prd@ridge.aps.org>

               Science                                 <science_editors@aaas.org>

Subject:   Breakthrough Discovery of the Year 1998 – Science



Astronomy & Astrophysics

Astrophysical Journal



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)


2) Guth's 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 Lemley, Discover, 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 (2006)


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 Redshift (http://www.sittampalam.net/TheCosmologicalRedshift.htm). 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 fiction.


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.


Eugene Sittampalam


PO Box 134
645 Beach Road
Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Tel:         +9421 222 6851
E-mail:    eugenesittampalam@gmail.com
Website: www.sittampalam.net


----- End of letter -----


Letter to the Editors 2005


Return to homepage