- Detective work
- Aging the universe with Hubble’s Law
- Could Hubble’s Law be wrong in providing the age of the universe
- Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation proves the Big Bang?
- Could the interpretation of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation be wrong?
- Alternative theories to the dark matter hypothesis
- Cosmic Inflation
- Let’s learn a lesson from some bath water!
Trying to put an age on the universe is a bit like detectives trying to work out who murdered someone way back in Tudor times, there are no human witnesses to what actually happened!
As these detectives do their research there may be various scenario’s put forward and some will get more votes than other suggestions.
In putting an age on the universe there obviously were no human witnesses and scientists have put forward different scenario’s.
One scenario that has got the most votes from other scientists is the Big Bang theory.
This does not mean that the Big Bang theory fulfils and answers all the problems, there are things in the universe which cannot be explained and other scientists have opposing views.
In this article we will be coming across the ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) model which helps to define the Big Bang cosmological model in which the universe contains three major components:
- a cosmological constant denoted by Lambda (Greek Λ) and associated with dark energy
- the postulated cold dark matter (abbreviated CDM)
- ordinary matter.
The ΛCDM model is frequently referred to as the standard model of Big Bang cosmology because it is the simplest model that provides a reasonably good account of the beginning of the universe. [ix]
In this article we look at the assumptions that are made in giving the age of the universe based on the Big Bang theory.
If you want to look at an article which accepts a billions of years old universe written into everything, see: How old are the stars and the universe?
Aging the universe with Hubble’s Law
If we agree that Hubble’s Law tells us that the universe is expanding, it also implies that in the past the universe was much smaller than it is today.The John A. Dutton e-Education Institute is the learning design unit of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University. [ii]
If we assume that the expansion’s apparent velocity (that is, how fast the galaxies appear to be moving apart) has been constant over the history of the universe, we can calculate how long ago the galaxies began their separation.
This should tell us the time that the expansion began, which should give us an estimate of the age of the universe…”
Notice the quote above starts with: “If we agree that Hubble’s Law…”.
It is not absolute fact that it is expanding, it has just got the most votes from the scientists.
So Hubble’s Law is:
v = Ho d
where v is the velocity of a receding galaxy (typically expressed in km/s)
d is the distance to the galaxy
Ho is the Hubble’s constant.
Hubble’s Law is based on the ‘Redshift’ of distant galaxies.
Redshift can be explained like this:
Doppler, an Austrian mathematician, discovered that the frequency of sound waves changes if the source of sound and the observer are moving relative to each other.‘What is ‘red-shift’?’ by The European Space Agency [iii]
If the two are approaching, then the frequency heard by the observer is higher;
if they move away from each other, the frequency heard is lower…
Light behaves like a wave, so light from a luminous object undergoes a Doppler-like shift if the source is moving relative to us.
Ever since 1929, when Edwin Hubble discovered that the Universe is expanding, we have known that most other galaxies are moving away from us.
Light from these galaxies is shifted to longer (and this means redder) wavelengths – in other words, it is ‘red-shifted’…”
So to return to Hubble’s theory:
The velocity of the galaxies has been determined by their redshift, a shift of the light they emit toward the red end of the spectrum.Wikipedia Hubble’s Law [iv]
Hubble’s law is considered the first observational basis for the expansion of the universe, and today it serves as one of the pieces of evidence most often cited in support of the Big Bang model.
The motion of astronomical objects due solely to this expansion is known as the Hubble flow…”
A calculation is then made and the age of the universe comes out at:
14.4 billion years…Wikipedia Hubble’s law [iv]
This is slightly different from the age of the universe which is approximately 13.8 billion years.
The Hubble time is the age it would have had if the expansion had been linear, and it is different from the real age of the universe because the expansion is not linear;
they are related by a dimensionless factor which depends on the mass-energy content of the universe, which is around 0.96 in the standard ΛCDM model…”
Could Hubble’s Law be wrong in providing the age of the universe
Not all scientists agree with using Hubble’s Law:
Wikipedia talking about Halton Arp states that he was:
known as a critic of the Big Bang theory and for advocating a non-standard cosmology incorporating intrinsic redshift…Wikipedia Halton Arp page [v]
(He) performed research at the Mount Wilson Observatory and Palomar Observatory, became a Research Assistant at Indiana University in 1955.
In 1957 he became a staff member at Palomar Observatory, where he worked for 29 years.
In 1983 he joined the staff of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Germany.
He died in Munich, Germany on December 28, 2013.
He was an atheist…
Arp never wavered from his stand against the Big Bang, and until shortly before his death in 2013, he continued to publish articles stating his contrary view in both popular and scientific literature, frequently collaborating with Geoffrey Burbidge (until Burbidge’s death in 2010) and Margaret Burbidge.
He explained his reasons for believing that the Big Bang theory is wrong, citing his research into quasars or quasi-stellar objects (QSOs).
Instead, Arp supported the redshift quantization theory as an explanation of the redshifts of galaxies…”
Halton Arp, an atheist, believed that he could see errors in the Big Bang theory and the use of Hubble’s Law to calculate the age of the universe.
He wrote in one of his books:
But if the cause of these redshifts is misunderstood, then distances can be wrong by factors of 10 to 100, and luminosities and masses will be wrong by factors up to 10,000.‘Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology and Academic Science’ (1998) by Halton Arp page 1.
We would have a totally erroneous picture of extragalactic space, and be faced with one of the most embarrassing boondoggles in our intellectual history…”
By putting a wrong conclusion on the cause of Redshifts it would give a ‘totally erroneous picture’.
Arp argued that the redshift was not due to Hubble expansion or physical movement of the objects, but must have a non-cosmological or “intrinsic” origin, and that quasars were local objects ejected from the core of active galactic nuclei (AGN).Wikipedia Halton Arp page [v]
Nearby galaxies with both strong radio emission and peculiar morphologies, particularly M87 and Centaurus A, appeared to support Arp’s hypothesis…”
I like this comment by dewcoons which basically says that throughout history the scientific community could ‘prove’ that their theory of the universe was correct, but as time went on their theory was found to be wrong:
Have you ever seen an Astrolab? (Do you even know what one was? Most people don’t.)Comment by dewcoons on Yahoo! Answers [vi]
It was a model of the universe that showed the movements of the plants, moon, sun and stars.
It was able to explain every known visible object and movement in the sky.
At the time they were build (centuries ago) they were probably the most complex machinery that man could build.
They perfectly demonstrated how the universe worked, and help many astronomers and others to develop theories on future movements of celestials object, etc.
They were great because they tied in perfectly with existing physics and math, showing how the different planet’s movement perfectly fit the five solid objects of geometry.
They mean everything needed for the “scientific process” – testable, repeatable, observable… and 100% wrong.“
Dewcoons comment continues:
The Astrolab was the scientific proof that the earth was the center of the universe, the sun revolved around the earth, and stars were in a fixed “bowl” of firmament that covered the flat earth.Comment by dewcoons on Yahoo! Answers [vi]
Every single thing needed to support that theory scientifically was there.
And it all worked perfectly with the evidence that we had.
But was completely wrong.
Since the time of telescope, we have learned a lot about out world, solar system and the universe around us.
It is bigger, bolder and more beautiful that anyone had imagined.
But we are also discovering every year that things we have learned through the telescope are just as wrong as the Astrolab. There are no channels on Mars, even though science had mapped and named them all.
Saturn does not have a ring, it has a series of thousands of rings, as do Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus.
From where we sit in the universe, we appear to see an expanding universe.
There is a Doppler Effect.
But from where we sit on earth, the sun appear to orbit us and is the same size as the moon.
Sorry, but we have not gotten to where we can observe the nature of the universe from anything but our little 0.0000000001% (if that) of the observable universe.
It is possible that the universe is expanding.
It is also possible that we may be sitting in a small area of the universe that is expanding.
It is also possible that we are in a universe that orbits a central point, and we would see a “right shift” in the movement of objects and an expanding of space between them because we are on the “inside” of the orbiting circle.
None of us know for certain.
The Big Bang is not the only possible answer to what we see in the universe.
Nor is an expanding universe…”
Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation proves the Big Bang?
There is a ‘glow’ that fills the entire Universe which is visible as microwaves – part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum.
The Big Bang theory suggests that there should be a ‘glow’ of microwave radiation from the eruption.
The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) has been accurately measured by orbiting detectors, and many scientists and astronomers believe that this is very good evidence for the Big Bang theory being correct:
The discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) in 1964 confirmed a key prediction of the Big Bang cosmology. From that point on, it was generally accepted that the universe started in a hot, dense state and has been expanding over time.‘Lambda-CDM model’ Wikipedia [ix]
The rate of expansion depends on the types of matter and energy present in the universe, and in particular, whether the total density is above or below the so-called critical density.
During the 1970s, most attention focused on pure-baryonic models, but there were serious challenges explaining the formation of galaxies, given the small anisotropies* in the CMB (upper limits at that time).
In the early 1980s, it was realized that this could be resolved if cold dark matter dominated over the baryons**, and the theory of cosmic inflation motivated models with critical density.
During the 1980s, most research focused on cold dark matter with critical density in matter, around 95% CDM*** and 5% baryons**:
these showed success at forming galaxies and clusters of galaxies, but problems remained;
notably, the model required a Hubble constant lower than preferred by observations, and observations around 1988–1990 showed more large-scale galaxy clustering than predicted.
These difficulties sharpened with the discovery of CMB anisotropy* by the Cosmic Background Explorer in 1992, and several modified CDM models, including ΛCDM and mixed cold and hot dark matter, came under active consideration through the mid-1990s.”
* anisotropies is having a physical property which has a different value when measured in different directions.
** baryons are a type of composite subatomic particles which contain an odd number of valence quarks.
*** CDM is Cold Dark Matter.
The quote continues:
The ΛCDM model then became the leading model following the observations of accelerating expansion in 1998, and was quickly supported by other observations:‘Lambda-CDM model’ Wikipedia [ix]
in 2000, the BOOMERanG microwave background experiment measured the total (matter–energy) density to be close to 100% of critical, whereas in 2001 the 2dFGRS galaxy redshift survey measured the matter density to be near 25%;
the large difference between these values supports a positive Λ or dark energy.
Much more precise spacecraft measurements of the microwave background from WMAP in 2003–2010 and Planck in 2013–2015 have continued to support the model and pin down the parameter values, most of which are now constrained below 1 percent uncertainty.
There is currently active research into many aspects of the ΛCDM model, both to refine the parameters and possibly detect deviations.
In addition, ΛCDM has no explicit physical theory for the origin or physical nature of dark matter or dark energy…”
Could the interpretation of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation be wrong?
As we have said, the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation theory is widely accepted by the scientific community, but there are a few dissenters:
A large majority of astronomers and astrophysicists support the ΛCDM model or close relatives of it,‘Lambda-CDM model’ Wikipedia [ix]
but Milgrom#, McGaugh##, and Kroupa### are leading critics, attacking the dark matter portions of the theory from the perspective of galaxy formation models and supporting the alternative modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) theory, which requires a modification of the Einstein field equations and the Friedmann equations as seen in proposals such as modified gravity theory (MOG theory) or tensor–vector–scalar gravity theory (TeVeS theory).
Other proposals by theoretical astrophysicists of cosmological alternatives to Einstein’s general relativity that attempt to account for dark energy or dark matter include f(R) gravity, scalar–tensor theories such as Galileon theories, brane cosmologies, the DGP model, and massive gravity and its extensions such as bimetric gravity.”
# Mordehai “Moti” Milgrom is an Israeli physicist and professor in the department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.
In 1981, he proposed Modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND) as an alternative to the dark matter and galaxy rotation curve problems. Milgrom suggests that Newton’s Second Law be modified for very small accelerations. [xii]
## Stacy McGaugh is an American astronomer and professor in the Department of Astronomy at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. His fields of specialty include low surface brightness galaxies, galaxy formation and evolution, tests of dark matter and alternative hypotheses and measurements of cosmological parameters. [xiii]
### Pavel Kroupa is a Czech-Australian astrophysicist and professor at the University of Bonn.
With Carsten Weidner he formulated the “IGIMF (integrated galactic initial mass function) theory, with Ulrich Bastian, took the first precise measurement of the spatial movement of two extragalactic systems. In 1997 he also discovered stellar-dynamic solutions for the satellite galaxies of the Milky Way without the need for exotic dark matter, etc. [xiv]
In the context of the present cosmological paradigm, ΛCDM, there are two major constituents of the Universe for which the only evidence is astronomical.‘A historical perspective on modified Newtonian dynamics’ by R.H. Sanders in The Canadian Journal of Physics 11 June 2014
There is dark energy, perhaps represented by a cosmological constant in Einstein’s equations.
This medium, comprising 70% of the energy density of the Universe, causes the observed present accelerated expansion evidenced by supernovae in distant galaxies and makes up the energy difference necessary for closure of the Universe.
And then there is cold dark matter — hypothetical particles, beyond the standard model of particle physics — comprising 25% of the Universe and interacting with baryonic matter (the remaining 5%) primarily through the force of gravity…
Here the cosmological paradigm impinges upon the dynamics of these well-observed local systems and should, in principle, be testable. And here it fails.
The evidence supporting the standard cosmological paradigm is said to be so overwhelming that there is little room for doubt.
This is in spite of the fact that the most well-motivated dark matter particles — supersymmetric partners — should be detectable in terrestrial experiments via the rare scattering of atomic nuclei.
In fact such events have never been seen in spite of considerable effort and expense invested in particle dark matter search experiments.
Lawrence Maxwell Krauss is an American-Canadian theoretical physicist and cosmologist who previously taught at Arizona State University, Yale University, and Case Western Reserve University.
He is an anti-theist (typically refers to direct opposition to the belief in any deity.) [x]
Physicist/cosmologist Lawrence Krauss recently convened a physics conference on St. Thomas, which included an all-star cast of cutting-edge theorists and physicists.‘The Energy of Empty Space that isn’t Zero’ A Talk With Lawrence M. Krauss [x]
The topic of the meeting was ‘Confronting Gravity.’
Krauss intended to have ‘a meeting where people would look forward to the key issues facing fundamental physics and cosmology’.”
Lawrence Krauss finished his article with these words:
when you look at CMB map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun.‘The Energy of Empty Space that isn’t Zero’ A Talk With Lawrence M. Krauss [xi]
Is this Copernicus* coming back to haunt us? That’s crazy.
We’re looking out at the whole universe.
There’s no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun — the plane of the earth around the sun — the ecliptic.
That would say we are truly the center of the universe.
The new results are either telling us that all of science is wrong and we’re the center of the universe, or maybe the data is imply incorrect, or maybe it’s telling us there’s something weird about the microwave background results and that maybe, maybe there’s something wrong with our theories on the larger scales. And of course as a theorist I’m certainly hoping it’s the latter, because I want theory to be wrong, not right, because if it’s wrong there’s still work left for the rest of us.”
* Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance-era mathematician, astronomer, and Catholic canon who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than Earth at the centre of the universe.
Alternative theories to the dark matter hypothesis
a) Modified Newtonian dynamics
Several independent observations point to the fact that the visible mass in galaxies and galaxy clusters is insufficient to account for their dynamics, when analysed using Newton’s laws.
This discrepancy – known as the “missing mass problem” – was first identified in 1933.
While Newton’s Laws predict that stellar rotation velocities should decrease with distance from the galactic centre, Vera Rubin and collaborators found instead that they remain almost constant – the rotation curves are said to be ‘flat’.
This observation necessitates at least one of the following:
- Dark matter: There exists in galaxies large quantities of unseen matter which boosts the stars’ velocities beyond what would be expected on the basis of the visible mass alone, or
- Modified Newtonian dynamics (MOND): Newton’s Laws do not apply to galaxies.
The basic premise of MOND is that while Newton’s laws have been extensively tested in high-acceleration environments (in the Solar System and on Earth), they have not been verified for objects with extremely low acceleration, such as stars in the outer parts of galaxies.
Milgrom suggested a new effective gravitational force law for low acceleration objects.
The majority of astronomers, astrophysicists, and cosmologists accept dark matter as the explanation for galactic rotation curves (based on general relativity, and hence Newtonian mechanics), and are committed to a dark matter solution of the missing-mass problem.
MOND, by contrast, is actively studied by only a handful of researchers. [xv]
b) Scalar–tensor–vector gravity (STVG)
STVG is also referred to as MOG (MOdified Gravity) and is a modified theory of gravity developed by John Moffat, a researcher at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario.
STVG has been used successfully to explain galaxy rotation curves, the mass profiles of galaxy clusters, gravitational lensing in the Bullet Cluster and cosmological observations without the need for dark matter.
On a smaller scale, in the Solar System, STVG predicts no observable deviation from general relativity.
The theory may also offer an explanation for the origin of inertia. [xvi]
Cosmic Inflation is a theory of increased expansion of space in the hypothesized Big Bang, proposed by physicist Alan Guth in 1979, while investigating the problem of why no magnetic monopoles are seen today.
He found that if the universe contained a field in a positive-energy false vacuum state, then according to general relativity it would generate an increased expansion of space and would resolve many other long-standing problems.
No physical scalar field has yet been discovered that is responsible for this inflation.
If this field did not exist, scientists would have to propose a different explanation for all the observations that strongly suggest a metric expansion of space has occurred, and is still occurring (much more slowly) today.
Inflation theory has many problems and these need to be solved: fine-tuning, eternal inflation, initial conditions, etc. [xvii]
Let’s learn a lesson from some bath water!
No human was there at the beginning of the world, so we have to look back and make the best guess we can.
How old is the universe?
Well we have to come up with a theory.
So let’s do a practical demonstration:
You come home one evening and find the bath is half filled with hot water – say 50 deg Centigrade.
How long has the water been in the bath?
The answer is easy, right?
Well, there could be several theories:
- The water came out of the tap at nearly 90 deg C and no cold water was added, so it has taken a long time to cool to this temperature.
- Some cold water was added so the starting temperature was about 75 deg C and has been cooling for about half an hour.
- It has only been run a few minutes earlier, because hot and cold water were added to give the desired temperature of 50 deg C.
Which theory is right?
We could debate this until the cows come home.
Any one of those three theories could be right, but the sensible thing to do is ask the person who ran the bath!
Scientists have their theories on how the earth began, but it is potentially impossible to scientifically prove because no human was there when it happened.
If we believe that God is not restricted to the laws of nature, then anything is possible.
He could create the earth from nothing instantly or over many years, whatever he chose to do.
From the Genesis account God created everything instantly and with an apparent age.
For more on this see: How old are the stars?
References open in new windows:
[i] Magnifying Glass. late 19th century. Retrieved from the Digital Public Library of America
[ii] The John A. Dutton e-Education Institute is the learning design unit of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University.
[iii] The European Space Agency
[iv] Wikipedia Hubble’s Law
[v] Wikipedia Halton Arp
[vi] Yahoo! Answers
[vii] Jacopo188, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
[viii] Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation by The Physics of the Universe
[ix] ‘Lambda-CDM model’ Wikipedia
[x] ‘Lawrence Krauss’ Wikipedia
[xi] ‘The Energy of Empty Space that isn’t Zero‘ A Talk With Lawrence M. Krauss
[xii] ‘Mordehai Milgrom’ Wikipedia
[xiii] ‘Stacy McGaugh’ Wikipedia
[xiv] ‘Pavel Kroupa’ Wikipedia
[xv] ‘Modified Newtonian dynamics’ Wikipedia
[xvi] ‘Scalar–tensor–vector gravity’ Wikipedia
[xvii] ‘Inflation (cosmology)’ Wikipedia