Monday, December 29, 2008

Dark Matter Revisited - Before It Is Gone Forever With the Pioneer Deceleration

Yo folks.

It is now 1:28 according to the little chronometer displayed at the lower right corner of my monitor screen. Unfortunately, that is 1:28 AM, not PM. So ... as usual, gotta try to make it short. But I am at it this awful hour because the topic seems important to me and a few fellow creationist nerds.

Why? Because some folks at Oxford University are sounding very very creationist-like in their cosmological thinking, publishing via the American Physical Society (but I think maybe failing to credit the creationist who came up with the idea.)

Where to begin? A bit over a year ago I commented on the comments of a newly-arrived physics grad student in NW USA from a country in east Asia:

When I asked her if she was sure dark matter existed, she gave me a rather disdainful look and carefully (speaking slowly I think) explained to me that the existence of dark matter is well known by its gravitational effects. She did not appear to understand that the implications flowed from the "Copernican Principle", the ASSUMPTIONS that (1) we are in no special place in the universe (and in fact no really special places would even exist in the universe), and (2) that the universe is unbounded. These are hypothetical boundary conditions used to solve the General Relativity equations. That in fact means that dark matter inferred by application of those assumed conditions is itself hypothetical rather than demonstrated fact.

BTW, it puzzles me why a hypothesis, or assumption, would ever be called a "principle." Isn't that begging the question a bit?

Well, anyway .....

I mentioned in my October, 2007, post (above) a cosmology suggested by Russ Humphreys in 1994 based on Biblically-based boundary conditions which would give a very different result. What are those boundary conditions? Specifically, drawing from the account in Genesis of the creation in which God separated the waters below the "firmament" from the waters above the "firmament", along with numerous Bible passages that God "stretched out" the heavens, Humphreys inferred that: (1) the earth is approximately at or near the center of the cosmos, and that (2) the universe is bounded, with a "shell" of mass concentrated in the vicinity of the boundary..

There have been others taking a similar tack. For example Dr John Hartnett, a physicist at University of Western Australia, reported, using a space-time-velocity metric of the late Israeli physicist Moshe Carmeli, at the International Conference on Creationism held in Pittsburgh, PA, USA, in August, 2008. With the Carmeli metric, the so-called "dark matter" effects may in fact merely be a property of space-time and not matter at all.

And it turns out that also in October, 2007, at almost exactly the same time the Asian physics grad student and I were having our conversation during our hike in the Cascade mountains, Dr. Russ Humphreys was publishing with a new metric including a gravitational potential term which would draw from the Bible's inference of a large mass "shell" (of water at the time of the stretching in Genesis 1) at the boundary edge of the universe and relatively insignificant mass density inside the "shell." See: (less technical)


Humphreys, D. R. 2007. Creationist cosmologies explain the anomalous acceleration of Pioneer spacecraft. Journal of Creation 21(2):61-70. Can be downloaded as a PDF document from the following page of the Creation Ministries International website:

The really interesting thing is that the anomalous deceleration of the Pioneer spacecraft (see the article) is explained by the Humphreys cosmology, but not by the big-bang cosmology.

So, now what about that team at Oxford? In September, 2008, an Oxford team published:

Timothy Clifton, Pedro G. Ferreira, and Kate Land. Living in a Void: Testing the Copernican Principle with Distant Supernovae. Phys. Rev. Lett., 101, 131302 (2008) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.101.131302

I tried to access the link this morning but could not reach it. But you can read the Science Daily summary at:

Dark Energy: Is It Merely An Illusion?
ScienceDaily (Sep. 29, 2008)
"Dark energy is at the heart of one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics, but it may be nothing more than an illusion, according physicists at Oxford University."
... "Although dark energy may seem a bit contrived to some, the Oxford theorists are proposing an even more outrageous alternative. They point out that it's possible that we simply live in a very special place in the universe - specifically, we're in a huge void where the density of matter is particularly low. The suggestion flies in the face of the Copernican Principle, which is one of the most useful and widely held tenets in physics."
... "Dark energy may seem like a stretch, but it's consistent with the venerable Copernican Principle. The proposal that we live in a special place in the universe, on the other hand, is likely to shock many scientists. The maverick physicists at Oxford conclude their paper by pointing out that forthcoming tests of the Copernican principle should help us sort out the mystery in the next few years."

So it seems now that folks at Oxford are willing to point out that it is POSSIBLE that "we simply live in a very special place in the universe." But more than that, they propose a test. According the the original article abstract as published in :

"...local redshift dependence of the luminosity distance can be used to test the Copernican principle that we are not in a central or otherwise special region of the Universe. Future surveys of type Ia supernovae that focus on a redshift range of ˜0.1–0.4 will be ideally suited to observationally determine the validity of the Copernican principle on new scales, as well as probing the degree to which dark energy must be considered a necessary ingredient in the Universe."


Respectfully submitted,



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