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At Scientific American: Understanding the cosmology crisis

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Philosopher of science Bjørn Ekeberg, author of Metaphysical Experiments: Physics and the Invention of the Universe, reflects on recent discrepancies in the measurement of the universe’s expansion, the so-far-unsuccessful hunt for dark matter, and other research downers:

It’s perhaps worth stopping to ask why astrophysicists hypothesize dark matter to be everywhere in the universe? The answer lies in a peculiar feature of cosmological physics that is not often remarked. For a crucial function of theories such as dark matter, dark energy and inflation, which each in its own way is tied to the big bang paradigm, is not to describe known empirical phenomena but rather to maintain the mathematical coherence of the framework itself while accounting for discrepant observations. Fundamentally, they are names for something that must exist insofar as the framework is assumed to be universally valid.

Each new discrepancy between observation and theory can of course in and of itself be considered an exciting promise of more research, a progressive refinement toward the truth. But when it adds up, it could also suggest a more confounding problem that is not resolved by tweaking parameters or adding new variables. Bjørn Ekeberg, “Cosmology Has Some Big Problems” at Scientific American

Sometimes what we are looking for isn’t there because things don’t work the way we thought. Phlogiston and the ether are examples of that. They were reasonable ideas centuries ago but chemistry and physics don’t work the way proponents thought.

Are we there again?

The crux of today’s cosmological paradigm is that in order to maintain a mathematically unified theory valid for the entire universe, we must accept that 95 percent of our cosmos is furnished by completely unknown elements and forces for which we have no empirical evidence whatsoever. For a scientist to be confident of this picture requires an exceptional faith in the power of mathematical unification.

In the end, the conundrum for cosmology is its reliance on the framework as a necessary presupposition for conducting research. For lack of a clear alternative, as astrophysicist Disney also notes, it is in a sense stuck with the paradigm. It seems more pragmatic to add new theoretical floors than to rethink the fundamentals. Bjørn Ekeberg, “Cosmology Has Some Big Problems” at Scientific American

All that said, faith in mathematics is better than faith in a lucky rabbit’s foot because the mathematics might make sense someday.

Note: Sabine Hossenfelder seems to be writing along these lines in Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray.

See also: Rob Sheldon: Here’s why physicists are surprised by the universe’s increased expansion rate The two methods differ in that one is “direct” and the other “indirect”. Clearly one or both of them is making a mistake. Since it is hard to find (and people have looked) a reason why the direct method is failing, the feeling is that the indirect method must have a mistake in its model.

and

Discover: Even the best dark matter theories are crumbling

5 Replies to “At Scientific American: Understanding the cosmology crisis

  1. 1
    Pearlman says:

    there is a difference between applying math to empirical observations and using math for an assumption based fudge factor like the missing dark matter or the missing dark energy, or the assumed ongoing cosmic expansion..
    reference the Moshe Emes for understanding science series volume II ‘SPIRAL cosmological redshift hypothesis and model’ where all the empirical evidence can align without those assumptions and fudge factors, based on a light speed limit of ‘c’ standard light speed. (so still assumption based, as is science by nature, as probability based.
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DP4TBZ5

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    as to:

    For a scientist to be confident of this picture requires an exceptional faith in the power of mathematical unification.

    The belief that there should be just one overarching theory of everything, whether theoretical physicists realize it or not, as the OP hints at, is a belief that is not born out of empirical evidence, but is a presupposition that is born out of theism.

    As John D Barrow stated “Our monotheistic traditions reinforce the assumption that the universe is at root a unity, that is not governed by different legislation in different places.”

    “Our monotheistic traditions reinforce the assumption that the universe is at root a unity, that is not governed by different legislation in different places.”
    John D. Barrow

    Professor Steven Fuller articulates the hidden Theistic presumption, that undergirds the belief that there should even be a single overarching mathematical ‘theory of everything’, very well in the following quote;

    “So you think of physics in search of a “Grand Unified Theory of Everything”, Why should we even think there is such a thing? Why should we think there is some ultimate level of resolution? Right? It is part, it is a consequence of believing in some kind of design. Right? And there is some sense in which that however multifarious and diverse the phenomena of nature are, they are ultimately unified by the minimal set of laws and principles possible. Insofar as science continues to operate with that assumption, there is a presupposition of design that is motivating the scientific process. Because it would be perfectly easy,, to stop the pursuit of science at much lower levels. You know understand a certain range of phenomena in a way that is appropriate to deal with that phenomena and just stop there and not go any deeper or any farther.”,,, You see, there is a sense in which there is design at the ultimate level, the ultimate teleology you might say, which provides the ultimate closure,,”
    Professor Steve Fuller discusses intelligent design in Cambridge – Video – quoted at the 17:34 minute mark
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nd-others/

    Likewise, Father Robert Barron weighs in here:

    Stephen Hawking’s “God-Haunted” Quest – December 24, 2014
    Excerpt: “Why in the world would a scientist blithely assume that there is or is even likely to be one unifying rational form to all things, unless he assumed that there is a singular, overarching intelligence that has placed it there? Why shouldn’t the world be chaotic, utterly random, meaningless? Why should one presume that something as orderly and rational as an equation would describe the universe’s structure?
    I would argue that the only finally reasonable ground for that assumption is the belief in an intelligent Creator, who has already thought into the world the very mathematics that the patient scientist discovers.”
    Robert Barron
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....92351.html

    In fact, it was Sir Isaac Newton’s Theistic presupposition that allowed the first major unification in physics (and arguably the founding of modern empirical science itself):

    Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation
    Excerpt: The first major unification in physics was Sir Isaac Newton’s realization that the same force that caused an apple to fall at the Earth’s surface—gravity—was also responsible for holding the Moon in orbit about the Earth. This universal force would also act between the planets and the Sun, providing a common explanation for both terrestrial and astronomical phenomena.
    https://www.learner.org/courses/physics/unit/text.html?unit=3&secNum=3

    In regards to this first unification, Sir Isaac Newton stated: “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One;,,,”

    “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator, or Universal Ruler;,,, The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect;,,, from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present”:
    – Sir Isaac Newton – Quoted from what many consider the greatest science masterpiece of all time, his book “Principia”
    http://gravitee.tripod.com/genschol.htm

    Nor is it a presupposition (that there should be just on unifying mathematical theory of everything) that is born out of math. In fact, Godel proved mathematics is incomplete.

    THE GOD OF THE MATHEMATICIANS – DAVID P. GOLDMAN – August 2010
    Excerpt: we cannot construct an ontology that makes God dispensable. Secularists can dismiss this as a mere exercise within predefined rules of the game of mathematical logic, but that is sour grapes, for it was the secular side that hoped to substitute logic for God in the first place. Gödel’s critique of the continuum hypothesis has the same implication as his incompleteness theorems: Mathematics never will create the sort of closed system that sorts reality into neat boxes.
    http://www.firstthings.com/art.....ematicians

    And as Vern Poythress stated in the following article after detailed analysis of Godel’s incompleteness theorems, since anti-theistic mathematics “will not acknowledge the true God, wise Creator of both the human mind with its mathematical intuition and the external world with its mathematical properties”,,, then the “anti-theistic philosophy of mathematics is condemned to oscillate between the poles of a priori knowledge and a posteriori knowledge.”

    A BIBLICAL VIEW OF MATHEMATICS
    Vern Poythress – Doctorate in theology, PhD in Mathematics (Harvard)
    15. Implications of Gödel’s proof
    B. Metaphysical problems of anti-theistic mathematics: unity and plurality
    Excerpt: Because of the above difficulties, anti-theistic philosophy of mathematics is condemned to oscillate, much as we have done in our argument, between the poles of a priori knowledge and a posteriori knowledge. Why? It will not acknowledge the true God, wise Creator of both the human mind with its mathematical intuition and the external world with its mathematical properties. In sections 22-23 we shall see how the Biblical view furnishes us with a real solution to the problem of “knowing” that 2 + 2 = 4 and knowing that S is true.
    http://www.frame-poythress.org.....thematics/

    Moreover, as Stanley Jaki stated, “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go.,,, This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”

    “Clearly then no scientific cosmology, which of necessity must be highly mathematical, can have its proof of consistency within itself as far as mathematics go. In absence of such consistency, all mathematical models, all theories of elementary particles, including the theory of quarks and gluons…fall inherently short of being that theory which shows in virtue of its a priori truth that the world can only be what it is and nothing else. This is true even if the theory happened to account for perfect accuracy for all phenomena of the physical world known at a particular time.”
    Stanley Jaki – Cosmos and Creator – 1980, pg. 49

    Yet we do not have just one theory in science that has ‘perfect accuracy’. We have two theories that reveal ‘perfect accuracy’.

    The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960
    Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space,
    http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc.....igner.html

    Of related interest, and as the following article states, “The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.”

    Theories of the Universe: Quantum Mechanics vs. General Relativity
    Excerpt: The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.
    In the 1960s and ’70s, the success of QED prompted other physicists to try an analogous approach to unifying the weak, the strong, and the gravitational forces. Out of these discoveries came another set of theories that merged the strong and weak forces called quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, and quantum electroweak theory, or simply the electroweak theory, which you’ve already been introduced to.
    If you examine the forces and particles that have been combined in the theories we just covered, you’ll notice that the obvious force missing is that of gravity (i.e. General Relativity).
    http://www.infoplease.com/cig/.....ivity.html

    Quantum field theory – History
    Excerpt: ,,, (Quantum field theory) QFT is an unavoidable consequence of the reconciliation of quantum mechanics with special relativity (Weinberg (1995)),,,
    The first achievement of quantum field theory, namely quantum electrodynamics (QED), is “still the paradigmatic example of a successful quantum field theory” (Weinberg (1995)).
    per wikipedia

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    The unification of special relativity and quantum mechanics came at the expense of ‘brushing infinity under the rug”

    Richard Feynman (and others) were only able to unify special relativity and quantum mechanics into Quantum Electrodynamics by quote unquote “brushing infinity under the rug” with a technique called Renormalization.

    THE INFINITY PUZZLE: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe
    Excerpt: In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored. Richard Feynman, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for this breakthrough, referred to this sleight of hand as “brushing infinity under the rug.”
    http://www.americanscientist.o.....g-infinity

    This “brushing infinity under the rug” with QED never set right with Feynman.

    In the following video, Richard Feynman expresses his unease with “brushing infinity under the rug” in Quantum-Electrodynamics:

    “It always bothers me that in spite of all this local business, what goes on in a tiny, no matter how tiny, region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now how can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman – one of the founding fathers of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics)

    Quote taken from the 6:45 minute mark of the following video:

    Feynman: Mathematicians versus Physicists – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obCjODeoLVw

    I don’t know about Richard Feynman, but as for myself, being a Christian Theist, I find it rather comforting to know that it takes an ‘infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do’:

    “Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman

    John1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John 1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is also the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

    The reason why I find it rather comforting is because of John 1:1, which says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” ‘The Word’ in John 1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos also happens to be the root word from which we derive our modern word logic.
    So that it would take an infinite amount of logic to know what tiny bit of spacetime is going to do is pretty much exactly what one should expect to see under Christian presuppositions.

    In fact, as a Christian Theist, I find both the double slit and quantum electrodynamics to be extremely comforting for Christian concerns.

    Double Slit, Quantum-Electrodynamics, and Christian Theism – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AK9kGpIxMRM

    Besides ‘brushing infinity under the rug’ the mathematical unification of special reality and quantum mechanics also came at the expense of quantum measurement. As Sheldon Lee Glashow states, “Although quantum field theory is fully compatible with the special theory of relativity, a relativistic treatment of quantum measurement has yet to be formulated.”

    Not So Real – Sheldon Lee Glashow – Oct. 2018
    Review of: “What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics”
    by Adam Becker
    Excerpt: Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and their contemporaries knew well that the theory they devised could not be made compatible with Einstein’s special theory of relativity. First order in time, but second order in space, Schrödinger’s equation is nonrelativistic. Although quantum field theory is fully compatible with the special theory of relativity, a relativistic treatment of quantum measurement has yet to be formulated.
    https://inference-review.com/article/not-so-real

    That is to say, although special relativity and quantum mechanics were mathematically unified in QED by “brushing infinity under the rug”, this unification between special relativity and quantum mechanics into Quantum Electrodynamics has left the entire enigma of Quantum Measurement on the cutting room floor.

    Yet quantum measurement is precisely where conscious observation makes its presence fully felt in quantum mechanics. As the following researcher stated, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.”

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: Some particles, such as photons or electrons, can behave both as particles and as waves. Here comes a question of what exactly makes a photon or an electron act either as a particle or a wave. This is what Wheeler’s experiment asks: at what point does an object ‘decide’?
    The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    Thus since QED, and by extension the standard model itself, has left quantum measurement, i.e. conscious observation, on the cutting room floor by “brushing infinity under the rug”, then it necessarily follows that our best theory of the interactions of the fundamental particles of the universe will never include an adequate account of consciousness. Yet consciousness is inextricably bound to quantum mechanics in such a fundamental way so as to make it an irreducible part of quantum theory, and thus an irreducible part of any other theory that may seek to be unified with quantum theory:

    How Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness Correlate – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4f0hL3Nrdas

    In short, although QED is empirically robust, it is still, since it has left measurement on the cutting room floor, nonetheless fatally flawed as a correct step towards a coherent mathematical ‘theory of everything’.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    And although special relativity, by ‘brushing infinity under the rug’, has been successfully unified with quantum theory to produce Quantum Electrodynamics, no such mathematical ‘sleight of hand’ exists for unifying general relativity with quantum mechanics.

    General relativity, as the following articles show, simply refuses to be mathematically unified with quantum mechanics in any acceptable way. In technical terms, Gravity has yet to be successfully included into a theory of everything since the infinities that crop up in that attempt are not renormalizable as they were in Quantum-Electrodynamics.

    Does quantum mechanics contradict the theory of relativity?
    Sanjay Sood, Microchip Design Engineer, Theoretical and Applied Physicist – Feb 14, 2016
    Excerpt: quantum mechanics was first integrated with special theory of relativity by Dirac in 1928 just 3 years after quantum mechanics was discovered. Dirac produced an equation that describes the behavior of a quantum particle (electron). In this equation the space and time enter on the same footing – equation is first order in all 4 coordinates. One startling by product of this equation was the prediction of anti matter. It also gave the correct explanation for the electron’s spin. Dirac’s equation treats an electron as a particle with only a finite degrees of freedom.
    In 1940s Dirac’s equation was incorporated into the relativistic quantum field theory that’s knowns as quantum electrodynamics (QED) independently by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. This is the theory that describes the behavior of electrons and photons and their interactions with each other in terms of relativistic quantum fields that have infinite degrees of freedom. QED allowed extremely precise calculation of anomalous magnetic dipole moment of an electron. This calculated value matches the experimentally measured value to an astonishing precision of 12 decimal places!
    The integration of Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics has proved to be far more difficult. Such an integration would give a quantum theory of gravity. Even after a sustained effort lasting more than half a century, no renormalized quantum field theory of gravity has ever been produced. Renormalization means a theory that’s free of infinities at zero distance or infinite energy because 2 point particles can interact with each other at zero distance. A non renormalizable theory has no predictive value because it contains an infinite number of singular coefficients.
    https://www.quora.com/Does-quantum-mechanics-contradict-the-theory-of-relativity

    Unified field theory
    Excerpt: Gravity has yet to be successfully included in a theory of everything.
    Simply trying to combine the graviton with the strong and electroweak interactions runs into fundamental difficulties since the resulting theory is not renormalizable. Theoretical physicists have not yet formulated a widely accepted, consistent theory that combines general relativity and quantum mechanics. The incompatibility of the two theories remains an outstanding problem in the field of physics.
    Some theoretical physicists currently believe that a quantum theory of general relativity may require frameworks other than field theory itself, such as string theory or loop quantum gravity.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_field_theory#Current_status

    Quantum Leaps – Jeremy Bernstein – October 19, 2018
    Excerpt: Divergent series notwithstanding, quantum electrodynamics yielded results of remarkable accuracy. Consider the magnetic moment of the electron. This calculation, which has been calculated up to the fifth order in ?, agrees with experiment to ten parts in a billion. If one continued the calculation to higher and higher orders, at some point the series would begin to break down. There is no sign of that as yet. Why not carry out a similar program for gravitation? One can readily write down the Feynman graphs that represent the terms in the expansion. Yet there remains an irremediable difficulty. Every order reveals new types of infinities, and no finite number of renormalizations renders all the terms in the series finite.
    The theory is not renormalizable.
    https://inference-review.com/article/quantum-leaps
    Jeremy Bernstein is professor emeritus of physics at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

    The irreconcilable infinity problem between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, and how it relates to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem, is dealt with in a little bit more detail in the following video.

    Gödel, Infinity, and Jesus Christ as the Theory of Everything – video
    https://youtu.be/x1Jw5Y686jY

    And as was also touched upon in the preceding video, I believe that the correct reconciliation of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ was accomplished via Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

    Allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”.

    (April 2019) Overturning the Copernican principle (with our two most powerful theories in science)
    Excerpt: Thus in conclusion, the new interactive graph by Dr. Dembski provides a powerful independent line of evidence, along with several other powerful lines of scientific evidence (from Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity), that overturns the Copernican principle and restores humanity back to centrality in the universe, and even, when putting all those lines of evidence together, brings modern science back, full circle, to Christianity from whence it originated in the first place.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/bill-dembski-and-colleagues-create-an-updated-magnifying-the-universe-tool/#comment-675730

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:15-22
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
    Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

  5. 5
    SmartAZ says:

    According to wikipedia, dark matter was invented in 1932 by Ian Oort specifically to fudge his data to agree with his theory. No such phenomenon has ever been observed without first assuming that it was there.

    The first step in the scientific method is “Observe something.” Dark matter is not science, it is fiction.

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