Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cosmic inflation smoking gun announced

Has cosmic inflation been proved? SciAm reports:
Physicists have found a long-predicted twist in light from the big bang that represents the first image of ripples in the universe called gravitational waves, researchers announced today. The finding is direct proof of the theory of inflation, the idea that the universe expanded extremely quickly in the first fraction of a nanosecond after it was born. What’s more, the signal is coming through much more strongly than expected, ruling out a large class of inflation models and potentially pointing the way toward new theories of physics, experts say. ...

The Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2) experiment at the South Pole found a pattern called primordial B-mode polarization in the light left over from just after the big bang, known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB). This pattern, basically a curling in the polarization, or orientation, of the light, can be created only by gravitational waves produced by inflation. “It looks like a swirly pattern on the sky,” says Chao-Lin Kuo, a physicist at Stanford University, who designed the BICEP2 detector. “We’ve found the smoking gun evidence for inflation and we’ve also produced the first image of gravitational waves across the sky.”
We will have to wait and see whether their is any other good explanation of the data. I have expressed skepticism about a lot of modern theoretical physics, but not that inflation might be at least partly correct. It seems plausible that the early universe was in a false vacuum, and then made a quantum leap to a lower state.

I have been skeptical about a whole set of ideas associated with inflation, such as string theory, multiverse, eternal inflation, etc.

John Horgan is still skeptical about inflation:
Indeed, inflation, like string theory, has always suffered from what is sometimes called the “Alice’s Restaurant Problem.” Like the diner eulogized in the iconic Arlo Guthrie song, inflation comes in so many different versions that it can give you “anything you want.” In other words, it cannot be falsified, and so–like psychoanalysis, Marxism and other overly flexible hypotheses–it is not really a scientific theory.

Inflation enthusiasts have claimed vindication before—for example, in 1992, when the COBE satellite produced a detailed map of the cosmic microwave background, the afterglow of the Big Bang; and in the late 1990s, when astrophysicists discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. But neither of these supposed confirmations of inflation held up.

Just two months ago, inflation pioneer Paul Steinhardt wrote on the website “I think a priority for theorists today is to determine if inflation and string theory can be saved from devolving into a Theory of Anything and, if not, seek new ideas to replace them. ...”
Considering that inflation seems to mean so many different things to different people, I am waiting to see exactly what was confirmed by the new experiment. We have what appears to be the remnant of a violent event in the early big bang, but I am not sure what all the consequences are yet.

1 comment:

  1. Space does that work exactly? And I mean exactly, how does space mechanically do anything since any physical thing stretching must obey very specific physical constraints? I suppose if you are gullible enough to believe one dimensional non divisible objects exist physically and can have elastic properties and vibrate (despite being indivisible, and one dimensional), you will believe just about anything. Maybe physicists should take a few engineering courses just to learn about actual stuff, and how it reacts or doesn't react to stress, pressure, heat, cold, torsion, compression, etc.. The only reason they claim spatial inflation is because the Big Bang monstrosity they have created for themselves requires it or it becomes even more inconsistent. As it is, BB is pretty ridiculous, exponential inflation? Please. Fact is, the Big Bang can NOT actually explain even the stellar structures of the universe without throwing out physics as we know it (not enough time has elapsed for things to be where they are), space and time have to jump around, speed up and expand without mechanical cause just to fit the theory to presently observed data of stellar phenomena. Much like Global Warming and Super Strings, the Big Bang is not predictive, virtually un-falsifiable, relies upon too many stacked assumptions that have not yet been proven true outside of theoretical speculation, and requires as much suspended disbelief as a child's magic show in order to be entertained by it. No Big Bang has been observed, and CMB could be caused by many different things, It is absurd to think the data has but one interpretation. Likewise, there are problems with Red Shifting, namely, if you are going to screw around with claims that space is expanding and accelerating at the same time or whatever, making any kind of calculations of speed or distance, even size are impossible, as you have jettisoned your meters of measurement to be constant, as are wavelengths of light being relied upon to be used in spectral analysis. If the space was actually changing, anything in it would be changing as well, you don't get to say 'Well, the space over there where we observe no physical objects is doing one thing, while our space over here is doing something else. What rubbish.