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New findings: Discrepant values in universe’s expansion make everything murkier

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This image represents the evolution of the Universe, starting with the Big Bang. The red arrow marks the flow of time.
Big Bang/NASA

Error alone does not apparently explain the discrepancy in these figures:

For some methods, which rely on using the light from supernova and pulsing stars called Cepheid variables to determine their changing distance, it appears that objects move away from the Earth 73 kilometers per second faster for every 3.26 million additional light-years, also called a megaparsec. For other measuring methods, which rely on the electromagnetic radiation that reaches us from the early universe called the cosmic microwave background, the value is around 67 kilometers per second per megaparsec.

Most recently, a new result from scientists running the Dark Energy Survey has muddied the waters. Using measurements from supernovae, they in fact measured a Hubble constant of 67.7 kilometers per second per megaparsec, closer to the early universe measurement.Ryan F. Mandelbaum, “‘Expanding Universe Mystery Deepens” at Gizmodo

Amid calls for new physics, two new papers propose two different solutions. It’ll stay interesting, that’s for sure.

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See also: Rob Sheldon on the physics wars: Stagnation or not?  Oh sure, more data, there’s always more data. But new? Hardly. That is exactly the sort of stagnation Sabine Hossenfelder is talking about. An entire graduate student lifetime without anything new to report.

Theoretical physicist: My field is not going to the dogs Fair enough. But when you need a press agent, Madam Physicist, you need one. Why are you letting crackpots control the news stream from your field?

Is cosmology in crisis over how to measure the universe? One wonders how much of the problem stems from the need for a different universe from the one we have.

Theoretical physicist: Present phase of physics “not normal” – stagnation, not crisis Sabine Hossenfelder notes that working on the hard mathematical problems led to breakthroughs in physics but fears that, once again, the continued organization of conferences and production of papers will be the choice. Oh, and nonsense: “blathering about naturalness and multiverses and shifting their ‘predictions,’ once again, to the next larger particle collider.”


Physicist: The ultimate theory will be “geometrically natural” Garrett Lisi at Sabine Hossenfelder’s blog: “The high energy physics community has spent far too much time following the bandwagon of superstring theory, long after the music has stopped playing. It’s time for theorists to spread out into the vast realm of theoretical possibilities and explore different ideas.” He also thinks that the “naturalness” aesthetic that the fundamental constants should be near 1 is a “red herring” because “the universe doesn’t seem to care about that.” Many will likely welcome the freedom to explore new ideas.


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