Recently there was an article by Tim Reyes asking if the standard cosmological model is a Rube Goldberg machine. The idea is that so many ill-fitting ideas have been put together that it seems unreasonably complex. I’ve used a similar criticism against certain models through the phrase “tweak theories are weak theories.” Given the latest implications that the Higgs field may contradict inflation, and the BICEP2 results may not hold up, should we really think of standard cosmology more as a tweak theory than a robust model?
There’s been several science headlines recently stating that “Scientists Claim Universe Shouldn’t Exist.” Which I suppose means we should all just vanish in a puff of logic, or (derp) the scientists have said something stupid again. Needless to say, “scientists” have said no such thing, and what has been said is an interesting venture into cutting-edge theoretical physics.
The BICEP2 paper has officially been accepted in Physical Review Letters. Having survived peer review, does that mean we can now declare that inflation has now been officially observed? Not necessarily.
Yesterday I talked about apparent sizes, and how Pluto can appear larger than a distant galaxy, even though the galaxy is much farther away. It turns out, however, that on really cosmic scales apparent size is only part of the story. That’s because the universe is expanding.
Have you ever thought about where your hands came from? Naturally, you got your hands from your parents. They gave you the DNA which determined the size and shape of your hands. All the muscles, bones and tendons in your hands were honed by natural selection to the form you have today. Your DNA traces its lineage through the entire history of life on earth from its early beginnings more than 3.5 billion years ago to the present day. It is a profound concept when you think about it, but that is just part of the story.
There’s a new paper in the International Journal of Modern Physics which presents evidence that the universe is not expanding. You heard that right. If true it would overturn decades of cosmological theory. It’s the kind of revolutionary find that wins Nobel prizes. It’s gotten a bit of attention in the popular press, but don’t throw your old astronomy books out just yet.
Recently rumors have been flying that the BICEP2 results regarding the cosmic inflationary period may be invalid. It makes for great headline press, but the reality is not quite so sensational. There may be some issues with the BICEP2 results, but that isn’t what the press is excited about. What they are really excited about is how science groups are airing their dirty laundry, publicly. So what’s really going on?
Measuring the magnetic fields of our galaxy poses an interesting challenge. The galactic magnetic field doesn’t emit or absorb light, and of course we can’t directly measure it at various places like we can for Earth’s magnetic field. The galactic magnetic field does, however, interact strongly with things such as ionized gas and electrically charged dust, so we can indirectly measure the field by the way it affects these things.
Last month research project known as BICEP2 announced evidence of inflation within the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Now a new paper argues that a different effect known as a radio loop could produce similar results, which raises the question of whether inflation was detected after all.