Rob Sheldon: Dark matter, dark energy, … what is the role of evidence now?
|June 14, 2014||Posted by News under Physics, Cosmology, News|
Should a discrepancy between data and the existing cosmological theory be resolved by adding new entities such as dark matter and dark energy, or by modifying the underlying theory?
Paging Dr. Ockham. Preprint.
Duhem said “good sense” was needed to separate “novel theory” from “novel entity”. I’m not even sure why theories can’t predict entities and vice versa. I suppose the first has more of a metaphysical impact, while the latter has more of an epistemological impact. So the question becomes “Which is more likely, that we have misconstructed reality, or that we have mis-identified some observation?”
In my mind, it is hugely more likely that we have misidentified an observation. Metaphysics is dangerous business, because it is really so very pervasive and pernicious. I’d rather find the demons and exorcize them than argue about the reality of spirits the rest of my life.
I’m working on a paper that attempts to show:
a) Dark matter is in ice grains and comets, which are hard to see, but otherwise neither mysterious nor exotic. The “disproof” that excludes ice and comets relies on Big Bang Nucleosynthesis models, which are known to be over-simplified and over 50 years old. The reason no one updates them is that they give the “right” answer, but it is a delicate balance, and should more physics be put into the models, they will no longer give the “right” answer, which is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But more significantly, everyone wants to use the BBN models to exclude “baryonic matter” in order to justify the theorizing about exotic particles. Both the modellers and the “dark matter particle theorists” point to the other as their validation. It’s a scientific echo chamber, or a scientific paradigm, or a “shared metaphysics”. And it doesn’t work.
b) Dark Energy doesn’t exist for numerous reasons:
i) The need for dark energy comes from cosmological evolution models that cannot account for “voids”, large bubbles in the universe devoid of galaxies. But despite the models having millions and billions of pixels, they are “computationally limited” to simplified physics. Voids may simply be seeded at scales below their resolution. We don’t know.
ii) When dark energy is calculated from QM, the discrepancy with “void models” mentioned above is 120 orders of magnitude = 10^120
iii) The “evidence” for dark energy consists of the extinction of the light from very distant supernovae. If dark matter is ice grains and comets (see above) then dark matter naturally accounts for the dimming evidence deduced by Perlmutter, which earned him a Nobel prize some 3 years after his paper. Way too fast for a man younger than me, and for a paper with so many other interpretations. E.g., the Nobel is being used to validate the theory, and of course the theory validates the Nobel. Sound familiar?
iv) Dark energy destabilizes the universe. While it doesn’t greatly affect the dating of the Big Bang, it will mean that the universe ends “not with a bang but a whimper” This is a “time-asymmetric” solution that isn’t consistent with the flatness presently observed (and the fine-tuning it implies.) Roughly speaking, a man who makes a finely tuned Ferrari, isn’t likely to put it up on blocks and put a brick on the gas pedal to see what happens to the engine.
v) Once again, if dark matter turns out to be ice grains, then these grains will charge up and spin in the presence of starlight, which causes them to repel each other. Such effects would produce bubbles in the cosmos at early (more dusty) times that could account for the structure we see today, all without invoking new mysterious dark energy forces.
So what does history (and my analysis) demonstrate?
That novel theories are almost always wrong. That overlooked entities (observer limitations) are far more common than presently thought. That the same arrogance that wants to rework metaphysics and reality also seems to think that observations are exhaustive and infallible. That much of this theorizing is circularly validated.
If more scientists read the book of Job, they might learn the dangers of overtheorizing. Duhem was right–it takes good sense and humility to be a scientist.
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