“Scientific American: Cosmology Is Wide Open”
Commentary by: Rick DeLano
President: Stellar Motion Pictures
Producer/Writer: The Principle
The most important thing for us is to document where science stood….we wanted to make a film that in five years, in ten years, in fifteen years would be just as relevant as it is today, because it would show science grappling with observations that called its own basic, fundamental assumptions into question”—– Rick DeLano, Producer/Writer of “The Principle“, from “Thoughtcrime: The Conspiracy to Stop The Principle”
Welcome to the post-Copernican era.
The hammer blows now descending on standard inflationary Big Bang Copernican Principle cosmology are impossible to ignore- and those of you following “The Principle” website and FB page have a ringside seat.
Recent updates have focused on the preferred, earth-oriented directions in the sky now reported to extend from the Cosmic Microwave Background “Axis of Evil”, to phenomena including quasar and supernovae distributions, galaxy spin-directionality, galaxy morphological-type distribution, radio sky and quasar distribution, and more.
This time around we turn our attention to a remarkable feature article, “Pop Goes The Universe“, appearing in the January 2017 issue of Scientific American.
One of the three authors is Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University, an originator of inflation theory, which has been adopted as a basic assumption of consensus cosmology.
Inflation theory posits a period of exponential expansion of the universe on the earliest timescales after the Big Bang, providing the (theorized) physical mechanism by which standard cosmology accounts for the observed flatness, homogeneity, and isotropy of the observable universe, and also for the generation of the so-called “multiverse”.
In “Pop Goes The Universe“, Steinhardt and his co-authors provide another milestone by which to gauge the rapidity with which observational data of recent cosmology surveys, especially the Planck mission, are undermining the foundations of standard inflationary Big Bang cosmology:
“If anything, the Planck data disfavored the simplest inflation models and exacerbated long-standing foundational problems with the theory, providing new reasons to consider competing ideas about the origin and evolution of the universe… (i)n the years since, more precise data gathered by the Planck satellite and other instruments have made the case only stronger……The Planck satellite results—a combination of an unexpectedly small (few percent) deviation from perfect scale invariance in the pattern of hot and colds spots in the CMB and the failure to detect cosmic gravitational waves—are stunning. For the first time in more than 30 years, the simplest inflationary models, including those described in standard textbooks, are strongly disfavored by observations.”
The implications here are indeed stunning.
Inflation has been advanced in order to explain some rather serious conundrums facing standard Big Bang cosmology.
Those of you who have seen “The Principle” might recall Michio Kaku’s appeal to inflation as “the simplest way to get a flat universe from a Big Bang”.
Steinhardt and company point out that this supposed advantage instead reduces to a circular argument:
“Two improbable criteria have to be satisfied for inflation to start. First, shortly after the big bang, there has to be a patch of space where the quantum fluctuations of spacetime have died down and the space is well described by Einstein’s classical equations of general relativity; second, the patch of space must be flat enough and have a smooth enough distribution of energy that the inflation energy can grow to dominate all other forms of energy. Several theoretical estimates of the probability of finding a patch with these characteristics just after the big bang suggest that it is more difficult than finding a snowy mountain equipped with a ski lift and well-maintained ski slopes in the middle of a desert.”
“More important, if it were easy to find a patch emerging from the big bang that is flat and smooth enough to start inflation, then inflation would not be needed in the first place. Recall that the entire motivation for introducing it was to explain how the visible universe came to have these properties; if starting inflation requires those same properties, with the only difference being that a smaller patch of space is needed, that is hardly progress.”
The body shots continue, finally, in the form of a proposal that the “multiverse” deduced to exist from the inflationary assumption, is instead better understood as a “multimess”:
“…inflation continues eternally, generating an infinite number of patches where inflation has ended, each creating a universe unto itself…(t)he worrisome implication is that the cosmological properties of each patch differ because of the inherent randomizing effect of quantum fluctuations…The result is what cosmologists call the multiverse. Because every patch can have any physically conceivable properties, the multiverse does not explain why our universe has the very special conditions that we observe—they are purely accidental features of our particular patch.”
We can never hope- not even in principle- to subject the multiverse to any actual scientific experiment involving measurement, since by definition the multiverses are causally disconnected from us.
But Steinhardt and his co-authors go even much further:
“We would like to suggest “multimess” as a more apt term to describe the unresolved outcome of eternal inflation, whether it consists of an infinite multitude of patches with randomly distributed properties or a quantum mess. From our perspective, it makes no difference which description is correct. Either way, the multimess does not predict the properties of our observable universe to be the likely outcome. A good scientific theory is supposed to explain why what we observe happens instead of something else. The multimess fails this fundamental test.”
I am fairly sure that from now on, whenever possible, I am going to cease typing the word “multiverse”, and replace it with “multimess”, in the interest of linguistic clarity.
I have always despised the word multiverse, since it incorporates a fallacy of equivocation in its very utterance.
UNIVERSE makes sense.
The One Many.
That is a good word.
The Many Many.
Lawrence Krauss, similarly, asks us to believe in “A Universe From Nothing“. We are assured that “science” is sophisticated enough to have achieved a great breakthrough even though it must, finally, be admitted that Nothing turns out to be Something.
In fact what Krauss has achieved is nothing other than a museum-quality fallacy of equivocation.
Speaking of which, it turns out the standard cosmology Universe is not a Universe, either.
It is a Multimess.
Ron Hatch in “The Principle“:
“They have essentially reached dead ends.”
Which is a good thing, as Steinhardt and company remind us:
“Today we are fortunate to have sharp, fundamental questions imposed on us by observations. The fact that our leading ideas have not worked out is a historic opportunity for a theoretical breakthrough. Instead of closing the book on the early universe, we should recognize that cosmology is wide open.”
Very, very big changes lie ahead.
Signing off this time with Kate Mulgrew’s opening words from “The Principle” theatrical trailer:
“Everything we think we know about our universe is wrong.”