How Does Cosmology Study A Theoretical Entity?

Redshift is when an object moves away from an observer, for the past 90 years it has been measured. Unexpected dimness was detected from one of the most distant galaxies! In the 1990s, dark energy was proposed to explain this phenomena but Astronomers are unable to observe dark energy directly but use it to explain a force that is thought to be responsible for the accelerating pace of the expansion of the universe.

Physorg made an announcement that dark energy though unable to be observe directly has been measured with more precision than ever before by astronomers using the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

“By combining their observations of galaxy clusters with other cosmological data, the scientists made the most precise dark energy measurements to date. The new measurements are consistent with the simplest model, in which dark energy is a “cosmological constant”—an energy field that is uniform throughout space and time. The idea of a cosmological constant was introduced by Albert Einstein in 1917, but soon fell out of favor. In recent years, the idea has become popular again as a way of explaining the accelerating expansion of the universe.”

“The observations also weigh against so-called “modified gravity” models, in which gravity is either stronger or weaker than predicted by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. The new results show that the growth of cosmic structure is consistent with the predictions of General Relativity, supporting the view that dark energy drives cosmic acceleration.”

What is being measured is X-ray emissions from galaxy clusters which is then combined with a theoretical model of dark energy.  Light can be measured, but darkness? No, it cannot be measured. On another theoretical entity, Nature published an interesting debate on whether or not dark energy is a mystery which some scientists believe that 5 percent is observed and understood while 95 percent is not observed and understood. Other scientists believe it’s no mystery at all…

“We must demand more of cosmology than just piling on components or constants to a model to reproduce observations. Otherwise, we would still happily be adding epicycles to the Ptolemaic model of planetary motion. Cosmological models, along with their constants and components, must be grounded in laws of nature that we understand. The magnitude of the cosmological constant cannot currently be explained by any physics we know. Until it is, it is a mystery.”

I must applaud the comment above even though I disagree with his conclusion about the universe! The approach of studying  a “Theoretical Entity” like dark matter and dark energy is not good science. There is a saying, “for every complicated physical phenomenon there is a simple, wrong explanation.” –astronomer Tommy Gold. Giving labels like “cosmological constant” to things in the universe they don’t understand themselves with no natural laws doesn’t make the science any better! It suggests a contest to see who can invent a concept that goes beyond experience then gets popularized so it could be deemed as factual. In reality, if creation scientists would be doing stuff like this, they would be laughed at.

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18 thoughts on “How Does Cosmology Study A Theoretical Entity?

  1. And while you are answering my question, you can answer Eelco’s as well:

    (1) Blog readership numbers ?

    (2) Your qualifications to discuss any scientific subject, in response to the challenge to Olorin.

    (3) A substantive review of Signature in the Cell, promised for August 2009.

    (4) outstanding question from Upson Downes on mitochondrial Eve.

    And by the way, on my flagellum challenge, I still want a good rebuttal, since you have failed. . . .

    And remember, can give the impression you have no way to refute.

    On your attempt to answer my challenge,

    . . . the flagellum IS NOT EVEN IRREDUCIBLE. — G. Kuwajima was able to remove ONE-THIRD of the 497 amino acids from the flagellum, AND IT STILL WORKED PERFECTLY!!!!! . . . Also, we know that the L and the P-rings can be taken away from the flagellum, and it will STILL work. . . .

    You completely failed.

    You said,

    There is a difference between reducible complexity and irreducible. The Bacterial Flagellum has a universal joint, bushing, stator, rotor, drive shaft, propeller which of course resembles an intelligently designed electric motor made by man.

    The fact that it resembles a man-made motor means absolutely nothing. The person that Michael Behe quote mined even said (in NOVA’s Judgement Day) that the impression Behe gave of that quote was incorrect. He even pointed out that the flagellum still has the features of an organism that evolved.

    I notice that you cite the propellor as part of the so-called essential pieces. . . Are you aware that the propellor of the Eubacterial flagellum itself can be taken apart without harming the function? — You fail.

    You then said,

    It’s these specialized parts that makes up irreducible complexity. Without one of those specialized parts it’s unable to survive. In other words, the system needs those components to exist before it can function and survive.

    This statement presupposes that the original function of the flagellum was ALWAYS the same. The parts of the flagellum have their own functions independent of the actual flagellum, and therefore there is no need to assume that the flagellum had the same function originally.

    In fact, Darwin himself in the 6th edition of Origin of Soecies predicted that there would be change of function as evolution took place. On page 177 of that edition, he said,

    This subject is intimately connected with that of the gradation of characters, often accompanied by a change of function…

    Of course the flagellum could not work in THE SAME WAY if one of those major parts was taken away, BUT it would have had a chance of function as it evolved. The fact that Behe didn’t know that shows he doesn’t understand how evolution works.

    So, in the long hull, your answer isn’t good enough. So, still waiting. . . . .

    *waits, as a sound of a cricket chirping*

  2. NOMINATION FOR LAUGH OF THE MONTH:

    What is being measured is X-ray emissions from galaxy clusters which is then combined with a theoretical model of dark energy. Light can be measured, but darkness? No, it cannot be measured.

    If creationists had any sense of satire, we might believe Michael means this as a joke. But, in light of Poe’s Law….

    Dark energy can’t be measured, because darkness can’t be measured.

    Unfortunately, this is yet another manifestation of creationist literalism—The nature of a thing is determined by what we call it. If we call it “dark energy,” then its nature is darkness. We shall never convince them that the map is not the territory, nor that the name is not the reality. There is a reason they call themselves “literalists.” They pride themselves on their ignorance of what meanings lie below the surface of words.

    .

    Here’s a paradigm of literalist reasoning. Did you know that God is Stevie Wonder? This is an easy one to parse: God is love. Love is blind. Stevie Wonder is blind. Ergo….

  3. What is “dark energy”? How doers one measure it? And why do creationists despise it so?

    The real name is “cosmological constant.” If Michael knew anything about calculus, he would remember that one cannot solve any integral equation totally, but only within a “constant of integration” that must be supplied from external; boundary conditions. Sometimes its value is zero, other times it is not. Analogously, Einstein’s gravitational field equation

    R(mn)-Rg(mn)/2+Lg(mn)=8piGT(mn)/c^4

    is a tensor equation that may include an additional term that must be determined from external conditions. This is the cosmological constant L above.

    As you may see, the units of L is energy per unit volume—that is, energy density. THIS IS WHY WE CALL IT DARK “ENERGY”—because the equation that it appears in requires it to have the dimensions of ergs/m^3. Not because we think it represents some occult force.

    In fact, if the first law of thermodynamics is to hold, dark energy cannot be energy in the classical sense. Since the density of dark energy remains constant as the universe expands, then the total amount in the universe continually increases. So it’s different. And mysterious. So we call it “dark” energy.

    How do we gauge the amount of this stuff? Not, as Michael would have it, by measuring its darkness. Remember that it arises from Einstein’s field equation, which tells us the shape of spacetime for a given mass/energy distribution in the stress tensor T. But, if the cosmological constant disappears (L=0), the measured gravitational energy of the universe would collapse it into nothing. We know from astronomical measurements that this is not the case. But, if we make L nonzero, we can have a contracting universe, a static universe, or an expanding universe—depending upon external boundary conditions.

    So how do we measure dark energy? We measure the expansion rate of the universe and plug this value into L. It’s that simple, folks. (And that hard.)

    Michael is correct that the cosmological constant, a/k/a dark energy, is a “theoretical” entity. But not in the way he thinks—it is not a foreign concept invented from nothing. If Einstein’s field equation describes the universe, and L in that equation is found to be nonzero from measurements of the size of the universe, then the quantity of dark energy is known. That’s how you “see” dark energy.

    .

    The third question, as I have noted several times previously, is WHY DOES MICHAEL DISS DARK ENERGY?

    One might well think that dark energy displays the continuing power of God. Since the total amount of dark energy always increases, one might be excused for believing that God is bountifully creating it, saecula saeculorum. That is, dark energy (and dark matter too) is evidence of creation ex nihilo—just as they have been expounding all along.

    Although creationists are not known for logic, they are certainly adept at grasping any morsel of scientific lore that happens to wander their way (and at spitting out any that disagrees with them). So, how about it, Michael? WHY DO YOU HATE DARK ENERGY? Because Answers in Genesis tells you to? OK, then why do they hate it? Inquiring minds want to know.

    .

    [Eelco must be on holiday. Sorry for stepping all over his area of expertise.]

  4. Olorin: “[Eelco must be on holiday. Sorry for stepping all over his area of expertise.]”

    No, I seem to be banned … I cannot post anymore from my home IP …

  5. But Krissmith777 is taking care Michael does not forget the answer the outstanding questions …

  6. How about it, Michael? Has Eelco’s IP been banned?

    Why is it that, when dealing with creationists, we always expect foul play? Experience, I guess.

    .

    Eelco, try posting a short comment, waiting a few minutes, then posting the exact same comment again. My experience is that I would get a “duplicate comment” error on the second try. That is, banning takes place after the receipt protocol has completed.

    If you wish to communicate directly, or need a proxy, contact me at Olorin@frontiernet.net.

    Again, I hope my comment on evil—uh, dark—energy was not too simplistic. The subject is more nuanced than a couple of off-hand paragraphs can encompass.

  7. Olorin,

    Why is it when certain liberals cut and paste numerous postings it’s not spam, but when someone else does it, it is…? I can ban as many IPs as it takes, I make no distinctions…

  8. So, Michael, you did ban Eelco? From past experience with Eelco’s comments and your behavior, I find your reasons totally bogus.

    I can ban as many IPs as it takes, I make no distinctions…

    As many as it takes for what? To silence dissent in your small, dark cave? How long do you think this will protect you and your children? If your faith is so brittle that it cannot withstand dissent, or even examination, then you should be afraid, very afraid. Will inconvenient science go away if you can only just stop the mouths of scientists for a little while longer?

    It is truly ironic that ID/creationists complain of discrimination in getting their views across. During the anti-colonialism of the ’60s, the tin-pot dictator of a newly independent African nation once said, “I ask you for your freedom, because that is your way. I take away your freedom, because that is my way.”

  9. Michael,

    If you did ban Eelco, that will not make inconvenient facts go away -as Olorin said in the comment above.-

    When you banned Olorin, I told you that making a martyr out of him would only make his cause stronger. And, as far as I am concerned, that is exactly what happened since I now feel more inclined to comment and give my rebuttals to you despite the fact he is now back, and also the fact that I am not nearly as qualified as Olorin and Eelco to talk on Scientific matters. . . . . But at least I freely admit my lack of credentials, which you still have not answered for yourself on one of Eelco’s “outstanding questions which it a question on your qualifications. I at least read (or try to read up on subjects) so I can get at least a certain understanding, which you do not seem to have done. . . . And I do not mean simply quoting “dumbed down” websites and magazines like Science Daily .

    But I digress. . .

    What I said about making someone a martyr stands. . . You only make their cause stronger, not weaker. If Eelco is gone, that will not make his questions to you go away (I’ll post them myself all the time in his place if I have to). . . And I am surprised that you banned him in time for THIS particular post. . . Considering the fact that Eelco is a Cosmologist, he is the perfect person to comment on this post. (Notice I have not commented on Cosmology in the comments here? That is because I haven’t read much about it, so I do not know much about it. And even reading about something doesn’t make me an expert. — Well, okay, I took astronomy, but it was only an introductory class.)

  10. You’ve had introductory astronomy/ I’m jealous!

    If Michael would spend ten minutes actually looking up some of the nightsoil that his anonymous source feeds him for lunch, he’s know that he is being lied to, and then left to swing in the wind of ridicule.

  11. Sorry, the tin-pot dictator quote should read—

    “I ask you for my freedom, because that is your way. I take away your freedom, because that is my way.”

  12. Michael :Olorin,
    Why is it when certain liberals cut and paste numerous postings it’s not spam, but when someone else does it, it is…? I can ban as many IPs as it takes, I make no distinctions…

    Why are you throwing around the “Liberal” label here? And, why does it even matter? — Personally, I’m not even a liberal. Religiously, I am a “moderate Christian,” and politically, I am a Right leaning Libertatian. I’d say over all, I am actually right of center.

    Eelco was cutting and pasting because he has questions he was asking you, and there are perfectly valid.. . . . . I am still waiting for a good refutation of my flagellum challenge.

    All you have to do is answer the questions, and he will stop posting them. It’s as simple as that. . . And all you have to do is respond well to my flagellum challenge, and then I will stop posting it. . . .

    Now, stop running away from the questions. They aren’t going away.

  13. Well well – I do seem to be banned then, from my home IP at least.
    And this one will follow suit, I guess.

    Michael, is this what it has come to then ? Simplistic censorship ?
    You can answer the outstanding questions. The fact that you do not want to implies that the answers are:
    1) you indeed have very few readers on this blog
    2) you have no scientific qualifications whatsoever
    3) you haven’t got a clue
    4) you haven’t got a clue

    As for dark energy, Olorin has already reacted very appropriately, and I have little to add. Of course dark energy is somewhat controversial still, but it has various interpretations, one of them being a vacuum energy. I disagree with Kolb in the little Nature forum that Michael referred to that it is a complete mystery. It is not, but of we do not have a good theory for the value of the cosmological constant. Not yet, would be my answer. We know it is there, that is step 1. The next step is to try and explain it, like any other question in physics.
    Of course most constants in nature have a value which we do not know the origin of, so why would the cosmological constant be any different ?

    Olorin, krissmith777: I enjoyed reading your posts – keep them coming !
    Michael: I am disappointed that you refuse to discuss, and have decided to start banning. It was to be expected, perhaps, as most creationists go that way (by lack of arguments), but you seemed not to go down that route. By doing so you have abandoned open discussion, and you will never be taken seriously again.

  14. Michael must also be ignorant of the Streisand Effect, where attempts to censor increase the spread of the suppressed item. Way back in the halcyon days, John Gilmore, attorney fur the Electron9c Frontier Foundation, famously noted that “the Net treats censorship as damage and routes around it.” Something to ponder.

    Anyway, the offer of a back channel stands. Olorin@frontiernet.net

    ===================

    PS: I was simplistic in identifying dark energy solely with the cosmological constant; some identify it with other sources. The point was that it has the dimensions of energy. I would be interested in any reference you may have as to the possible impact of dark energy on the first law of thermodynamics.

  15. Michael, I have another question for you. . . .

    You said eariler,

    I can ban as many IPs as it takes, I make no distinctions.

    Since you say you make no distinctions, then answer me this: Name me one Creationist/Intelligent Design proponent that you have banned from commenting.

    If you make no distinctions, this should be very easy for you to answer. . . . If you don’t, I’ll simply add it as a supplement question to my flagellum challenge.

  16. Eelco,

    By the way, I just got your Myspace message. Sorry I didn’t respond before. I rarely use that account.

  17. Your conclusion is actually wrong in general, actually so is the person who you quote unless the quote in context says something very different.

    Basically there’s nothing wrong with making statements about what we can observe and/or measure of something we cannot see directly. In this case we can measure and observe the effects of the cosmological constant and dark matter even if we don’t know specifically what it is exactly or where it comes from. Science has a long and prestigious history of building up theories about mysterious things. First there was Copernicus who built up a model of the solar system in which the planets orbited the sun, for completely unknown reasons. Along comes Galileo who observes that everything falls to the earth at the same rate of speed, though with no concept of why things fall at all. Along comes Newton who builds up a model of why things fall by positing the existence of a mysterious force called gravity. Newton had no idea what gravity was or why it worked he only knew that he could derive a system of calculations that very nearly approximated observation with the variance being at least partially explainable via friction. The key here, though, is that Newton derived his model from his observations which is good science. Bad science would be developing a model and forcing it to fit observations either with ad hoc additions when the model doesn’t fit, by disregarding measurements or observations that don’t fit, by falsifying measurements and observations that do fit, or by fudging measurements or observations that don’t fit in such a way as to make them fit.

    Finally, though, along comes Einstein and finally we have an explanation of what gravity is. Essentially it’s a field which distorts the vectors which essentially comprise “space-time”, and is more accurately modeled by a metric tensor. Einstein prided himself on having arrived at the theories of special and general relativity entirely deductively from first physical principles relying on observation and measurement only for confirmation of the theories. The vector field of Einstein’s exists within a physical framework that we’re all in direct and very intimate contact with at all times and yet cannot directly observe, so we have yet another model based on something mysterious. Relativity makes heavy use of models of space-time.

    Ironically Einstein’s inclusion of the cosmological constant would qualify as bad science, it was an ad hoc addition to make the theory of relativity consistent with Einstein’s assumption that the universe was static. It was abandoned by Einstein and viewed by him as one of his biggest mistakes when it was discovered that the universe is expanding.

    In conclusion, physicists developing models about something they can’t see, in this case dark matter and dark energy, and cannot directly observe, or at least so far have not directly observed, is not unusual. It’s also only bad science if the scientists are trying to make the observations fit the model instead of deriving the model from the observations. At this stage we also have theoretical physicists who are, like Einstein was, trying to derive everything, including dark matter, from first physical principles through deduction, but that’s not an argument against physicists building workable models from incomplete information the way Copernicus, Galileo and Newton did (just to name a few).

  18. Finally, though, along comes Einstein and finally we have an explanation of what gravity is.

    Intellectually, perhaps we should be somewhat circumspect in saying that our latest theory tells us what spacetime “is.” Einsteinian relativity gives us a model which we can use to calculate accurate results—and which, fortunately, allows us a visualization tool as well

    But, one of Michael’s problems is that he devoutly believes that a thing “is” the name that you give it. If you say that a photon is something like a kumquat, then he will try to refute you by pointing out that photons do not taste sour, and are not allways yellow.

    There are so many things in physics that go beyond our limited-scale senses. Is light a wave? A particle? Both? Neither? Michael is forever trapped in the world that he can see, and in the time he can experience. Dark matter does not exist, because he can’t “see” it—look up his posts on this subject for yourself.

    When we speak of space or time, we should be aware that some think that these might not be fundamental entities, or may exist as epiphenomena of something else.

    Then the creationists will pounce: “See? You were wrong! Space is actually a fig of our imagination. And it doesn’t evolve, either. So there.”

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