The Universe According to Planck (The Satellite)

The big news overnight for science was the best measurement yet of the Cosmic Microwave Background [CMB], by the Planck Satellite.  The CMB consists of  microwave photons (particles of light with microwave wavelengths) that are the tell-tale leftover glow from the universe’s hot period, the Big Bang.  These photons are almost entirely uniform across the sky, and consistent with a glowing object of temperature 2.7 degrees Kelvin (or Centigrade) [poorly written] above absolute zero, the temperature where everything moves as slowly as allowed by quantum mechanics.  (Note added: A change of 1 degree Kelvin is the same as a change of 1 degree Centigrade, but absolute zero is 0° Kelvin and -273.15° Centigrade. Centigrade and Celsius are the same.) But they aren’t quite uniform!  And those slight non-uniformities, which speak volumes about the universe, have now been read with the greatest precision ever achieved.

The Cosmic Microwave Background - as seen by Planck and WMAP. Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration; NASA / WMAP Science Team
The Cosmic Microwave Background – as seen by Planck and its predecessor, WMAP. Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration; NASA / WMAP Science Team

Today my chores prevent my writing a proper post, and it doesn’t help that Planck released over a dozen papers overnight… it will take a while to sift through this.  But the bullet points that everyone is talking about are

  • On small angular scales, the universe looks about as simple and as consistent with current understanding as you could ask for (or not ask for).  Many speculative notions about how the universe might have developed in its earliest stages are now out of the question. The detailed measurements of the basic properties of the universe are slightly changed, but the overall picture is evolutionary, not revolutionary.  It’s a universe with a lot of “dark energy”, a lot of dark matter, some ordinary matter including three lightweight types of neutrinos… just as we thought before.  Kind of a weird universe, but not new.
  • The idea that cosmic inflation (a period where the universe was cold and expanding at a spectacular rate, following which the hot dense period we usually think of as the classic “Big Bang” began) may have occurred, making the universe so large and uniform, is unchallenged (one might even say supported) by the data at small and medium angular scales.  Inflation could have been caused in many different ways; some of those options are now excluded or disfavored by the data.
  • Planck’s predecessor, the WMAP satellite, found that there are some funny non-uniformities, a bit larger than you’d expect, at very large angular scales — and Planck sees them too, confirming their existence and allowing more precise study of them.  (The photons are a bit hotter [NO! Careless of me!  “The temperature fluctuates more”] in half the sky than in the other half, and there’s a cold spot, and some sign of alignment of large-scale distortions that were expected to be randomly distributed.) But interpreting something like this is tricky — it could just be a statistical fluke, and since there’s only one universe, you don’t get to improve your statistics with better measurements.  (That last point is called the problem of “cosmic variance”.) So if something interesting is going on in the overall shape or structure of the universe, I suspect we’re going to need an additional and different type of measurement to convince ourselves.  And I’m not sure what that would be.
    Planck’s confirms WMAP: the hemispheric asymmetry and the cold spot are real... but are they accidents or a sign of a misunderstood universe? Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration
    Planck’s confirms WMAP: the hemispheric asymmetry and the cold spot are real… but are they accidents or a sign of a misunderstood universe? Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

    Since the last point is the one that’s the most curious, I suspect it will draw most of the discussion and speculation over the next months — and certainly the headlines today.  (I also suspect the spin being put on it by the Planck collaboration — suggesting strongly that a rethink of the universe is necessary — is justified more by hope than by data.)  Meanwhile, perhaps there are more things that I missed that are hidden in those many papers…

    Planck_power_spectrum
    Planck’s data expressed as a “spectrum”; the typical magnitude of non-uniformities as a function of the angular size of those non-uniformities, with large angles at left and small angles at right. The data are fitted with a prediction using a mathematical model of the universe; the model depends on (among other things) how much dark matter and dark energy and ordinary matter are in the universe, and so by looking at which model fits the data best, Planck scientists measure these and other quantities.  The green band shows the effect of cosmic variance; we only have one universe, so at very large angular scales we can only measure a few non-uniformities, leading to large statistical uncertainties. Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

371 thoughts on “The Universe According to Planck (The Satellite)”

  1. The obvious thing to measure (and will be getting results on soon) is polarization. For example, we predicted a particular pattern in E-mode polarization associated with the cold spot if it’s really from a bubble collision.

    • It would mean the same kind of loose cables on both the WMAP satellite (US) and the Planck Satellite (EU), and that would be and incredible amount of either bad luck or coincidential special causes.

      Reading the CMB radiation is very different from other types of experiments, like the LHC, as CMB is the result of a “once in a lifetime” event for our universe, at least, and as we cannot “run the experiment” again, all we can do is have multiple measurements of the remnants of that unique event, while there are still remnants to be read and measured: as the expansion of the universe continues, the red-shift effect makes the CMB radiation “cooler”.

    • We don’t! I know you’re joking but hey — we don’t *know*. Nobody’s up there in space, checking. All we have is circumstantial evidence that the cables are working, because the electronics is all working and the quality of the data looks very good. Seriously — no single experiment should convince you of anything. It is always a good idea to have a second experiment. And so far Planck agrees well with all previous experiments, which gives us general confidence. In particular, all those anomalies at large angular scales? They were seen by WMAP first, but we believe them much more now because Planck sees them also. So if Planck has a loose cable, it probably doesn’t affect those anomalies… because then WMAP would need to have exactly the same loose cable…

      • Weren’t they also in COBE? I think George Ellis talked about some of the anisotropy issues even before COBE based on Earth observatyions.

      • Hi! When you get time to write a detailed article please clarify : How measurements of a period some 380,000 years after, can throw light on what happened during the first second! I am sure many others in addition to me are puzzled. Thanks.
        kashyap vasavada

    • aa. sh.: “All of reports talk about some sort of new physics, what would that mean in your opinion?”

      If you allow me to give a try, I do know an iceberg model which is not new but is new for the mainstream physics. In an iceberg model, a particle is defined as the “tip” (visible part) of the iceberg. And, this particle “iceberg” is composed of three parts.
      a. A big chunk of ice.
      b. A big ocean of water.
      c. A big sky of space.

      Here, the sea water is completely opaque, and the ice under the water is totally invisible.

      For a universe which contains only one (single) such particle (iceberg), its three constituent parts carry the equal weights among them in terms of energy. Then, the big chunk of ice weighs about 33% of the total. In terms of the “real” ice, the tip of the iceberg is about 10% of the total ice mass. In this model, let the particle (visible part of the ice) be 5% and the invisible ice be 28% (making a total of 33%).

      Now, this iceberg universe has 67% dark energy, 28% dark matter and 5% visible mass. In this model, the ice is also melting away, saying about a bit less than 10%. Then, the dark matter reduces to 28 – 2 = 26 (%) and the dark energy increases to 67 + 2 = 69 (%).

      This iceberg model consists of two points.
      1. It is a composed universe.
      2. There is a melting mechanism

      I am sure that these two points are new physics for the mainstream physics. Yet, according to this new Planck data, a particle theory which is not encompassing an iceberg-like model cannot be a valid theory.

      • “a particle theory which is not encompassing an iceberg-like model cannot be a valid theory.”

        Tienzen, the Planck data says nothing of the kind. Your model couldn’t possibly reproduce the spectrum of fluctuations shown in Figure 3.

    • /The detailed measurements of the basic properties of the universe are slightly changed, but the overall picture is evolutionary, not revolutionary./- this was my intuition.
      /funny non-uniformities, a bit larger than you’d expect, at very large angular scales(That last point is called the problem of “cosmic variance”.)/-
      “Time invariance” and “cosmic variance” are two sodes of same coin?
      So it is all difference between a piece of stone and raisin in a baking cake(cosmic inflation by dark energy or negative pressure). Rasin show some statistical difference than stone. But it will be more prominent in quantum distance “R”.

      There is change in constancy of heaven after 2013 ?

      • The fact that the “anomalies” are at very large angular scales is the biggest issue. Were they at small angular scales, no big deal, but at large angular scales i this implies that the universe as a whole (large angular scales) is correlated spatially (i.e., not isotropic), and the alignments of the large angular scale features with the ecliptic and equinoxes spells the end of the Copernican Principle. This is revolutionary, not evolutionary.

        • Unless, of course, it is a detector problem, an effect of some solar system physics that we don’t understand, or a coincidence. By the way, the sun and the moon have the same angular size in the sky, to the degree that we have beautiful eclipses, where the sun is just barely blocked, except for its corona. Do you make as much of that coincidence?

          • The detector problem is ruled out. This is what they said about WMAP and COBE, and Planck has a different type of detector (and improved scanning pattern) that was supposed to referree the detector issue. Planck, with its new detector type verified WMAP. WMAP and COBE used differential detectors, while Planck used a bolometer.

  2. question: which models of inflation are disfavored? Also when you say before inflation universe was cold. How much cold? Thanks.
    kashyap vasavada

    • NASA’s press release includes the following comment: “The findings also test theories describing inflation, a dramatic expansion of the universe that occurred immediately after its birth. In far less time than it takes to blink an eye, the universe blew up by 100 trillion trillion times in size. The new map, by showing that matter seems to be distributed randomly, suggests that random processes were at play in the very early universe on minute ‘quantum’ scales. This allows scientists to rule out many complex inflation theories in favor of simple ones.”

    • During inflation, the universe was cold. If it was warm or hot before, the inflation cools everything off just the same way rapid expansion of a gas will cool it. But in any case no one knows what happened before inflation.

      • Correct me please! My understanding was that during inflation universe heated up due to negative pressure which gives opposite effect to that we teach in freshman physics. May be I am mixing up different effects at different times. Thanks.
        kashyap vasavada

          • Yes,yes, I am mixed up!!! However, long time back I read an article in physics today(I forget the name of the author)as follows.
            dq=du+pdv. so for dq=0 (adiabatic) du=-pdv>0 for p negative. du>0 would lead to increase in temp (right?).
            That was behind my question.If you regard this a technical question not suitable for this part of the blog, I will wait. Already you are spending a lot of your research time for public understanding. At some point though I would like to understand this point. Thanks.

            • The equations you are referring to are appropriate when the temperature, pressure and volume are all from a snigle gas of particles. But here was have a gas of particles AND the “dark energy” (more precisely, energy and negative pressure density). In this sense it is a two-component system. The huge negative pressure of the dark energy drives the expansion of the volume; the total amount of dark energy grows, but it isn’t thermal. Meanwhile the (smaller and not very influential) positive pressure of the gas, in the context of this expansion, assures the gas cools to tiny temperatures.

      • I was told it’s not t=0, but rather t=10^-43 second when a 10^-33 meter point of singularity inflated… mathematics breaks down beyond that point, they said simulation beyond that point will yield garbage that doesn’t corresponds to what we could observe in this point in space and time.

        • You should be careful about over-interpreting time at that early point in the universe’s history. For one thing, we don’t know what happened before inflation, and for another, many theories of inflation suggest a very complicated structure of space and time prior to inflation, potentially making it impossible to define a set of clocks that can give you a useful, universal notion of time. Time is easy to define in our universe because it is big and uniform and flat; but a space-time with huge variation of shape from place to place does not lend itself to an obvious, preferable way to measure time, which leads to big ambiguities in the answer to such questions. All we can really say is that inflation need not have taken very long at all, but what happened before it…? still pretty much guesswork at this point.

        • Let’s bear in mind John A. Wheeler’s famous quote about the definition of time: “Time is defined so that motion looks simple.”

          This quote speaks volumes on General Relativity.

      • Your comment regarding that thermodynamic expression is a classical physics expression that applies at a macroscopic level. That is based on the Kinetic Theory of Gases, that applies Maxwell–Boltzmann statistics to describe the thermodynamic properties of ideal gases as the result of the interactions of a large number of molecules bumping into each other, that is, the result of the dynamics of a system of many point-like elements.

        In this sense, classical physics means that neither General Relativity nor Quantum Field Theory is involved, so, it would not be completely appropiate for an analysis of the early universe.

        Kind regards, GEN

    • aa. sh.: “Talking about –before inflation — is most un-scientific imagination.”

      You are right in the current definitions for science and for time. When time is defined as a quantum, both definitions will be changed, and “before inflation” can be talking about then, in terms of time quantum.

      “The hemispheric asymmetry” indicates that the entire universe has an intrinsic dynamics, and that dynamic must be inherited from the beginning, before the inflation.

      One of the most important results of this Planck data is that Neff is 3. Thus, a theory which is not intrinsically rule out the fourth generation cannot be a correct theory.

  3. Thanks…

    So Neff is 3….

    So what ever New Physics, e.g. sterile neutrinos, WIMPS, extended Higgs sector etc.. might exist are all “strongly” decoupled from the SM….

  4. I have a simple question: why the WMAP and Planck images are elliptical? there’s got to be a technical explanation for that particular shape of the images. Anybody from the (Planck) Collaboration to answer that?

    Kind regards, Gastón

  5. @Gastón
    Well I’m just a med student, so I might be wrong, but those pictures are Mollweide projection, hence their shape.

    • Jan,

      Thanks a lot for the comment: it makes sense as the Mollweide projection, even though it does have some distorsion (angle and shape distorsions), it offers an accurate representation of areas, which is very important for CMB pictures.

      Kind regards, GEN

    • @Jan, that’s correct. we have customarily used the Molleweide projection to display the all-sky Planck maps. Their “native” format is HEALPix (http://healpix.jpl.nasa.gov). The highest resolution we use is Nside=2048, corresponding to a ~1.7 arcmin pixel.

  6. The phrase “consistent with a glowing object of temperature 2.7 degrees Kelvin (or Centigrade) above absolute zero” is kinda confusing and somewhat wrong. The Kelvin unit, by definition, already means ‘above absolute zero’, so, it is redundant to mention that.

    The units Kelvin and Celsius (Centigrade) have the same increment or delta of temperature but differ in the value of the ordinate at the origin, so, to transform values from one unit (say Kelvin) into the other (Celsius), we have to apply a translation transform (that is a linear transformation) with a constant value for the shift.

    As a summary, we can have either positive or negative Celsius values (the Celsius scale allows that), but we can only have positive Kelvin values (the Kelvin scale by definition does not allow negative values, and due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, we can’t even measure zero K).

    Kind regards, GEN

  7. The expression ‘2.7 degrees Kelvin (or Centigrade)’ somehow gives the wrong impression that Kelvin and Celsius (Centigrade) are equivalent, and they are not: the only equivalence they have is in the value of the increment of temperature.

  8. Ooops…. based on the above pingbacks, our dear professor will be doing yet more damage control….

    Any evidence that Kaku is behind this one as well…. 🙂

  9. What are the odds that CMB radiation is a more recent static energy of our own cluster of galaxies rather then faint signature of the Big Bang inflation?

    • Extremely low. The radiation is incredibly uniform; these nonuniformities are very, very tiny, measured in parts per 100,000. Anything having to do with our galaxy or its cluster would be far less uniform, just as galaxies and clusters themselves are far less uniform. And look at how extraordinarily well models of the universe fit the data, with all its bumps and wiggles (in the last figure.)

    • There are different types of experimental evidence that validate the theory that CMB radiation is the remnant of the Big Bang (after the recombination started to happen and light was free to be able to travel to us): to start with, the red shift that is measured means that light has travel some 13.8 billion years to get here, so it can’t be light coming from closer quarters.

      Second, the red of of what are we measuring? the red shift of sprectra coming out of atoms. The atoms which spectra appears in the CMB radiation is another piece of evidence, as the oldest spectra that are being measured are only of the types of atoms that could be formed during the very early universe, that’s mainly Hydrogen, Helium and Lithium, which was first predicted in the late 1940s by the famous Alpher (Bethe) & Gamow paper on Big Bang Nucleosynthesis.

      Kind regards, GEN

  10. A flat universe? … that’s what they said about the Earth too.
    What is the dip all about? … and those fluctuations, God’s link with his flock?

    “Efstathiou said the Planck data also pointed to some “strange features” in the cosmic microwave background that may point to new frontiers in physics, including an unexplained dip at one point of the power spectrum, and an unusual distribution of large-scale fluctuations that roughly followed the plane of the solar system.

    “Why characteristics of the CMB should relate to our solar system is not understood. … I was explicitly told not to say anything about God in this talk — which I’ve just violated,” Efstathiou said half-jokingly.”

    • Here is what Lawrence Krauss said in 2005:

      http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/krauss06/krauss06.2_index(dot)html

      But when you look at [the cosmic microwave background] map, you also see that the structure that is observed, is in fact, in a weird way, correlated with the plane of the earth around the sun. Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That’s crazy. We’re looking out at the whole universe. There’s no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun — the plane of the earth around the sun — the ecliptic. That would say we are truly the center of the universe.

      The new results are either telling us that all of science is wrong and we’re the center of the universe, or maybe the data is simply incorrect, or maybe it’s telling us there’s something weird about the microwave background results and that maybe, maybe there’s something wrong with our theories on the larger scales. And of course as a theorist I’m certainly hoping it’s the latter, because I want theory to be wrong, not right, because if it’s wrong there’s still work left for the rest of us.

  11. (I’ve been googling but no joy) Could the universe be rotating? Does the cosmic background tell us anything about that?

    • Mike,

      I’m not really versed in these subjects, but I can tell you this much: if the universe were to be rotating, we would already have at least some evidence “pointing in that direction” (any rotation is always associated with a certain type of vector, and a vector, any vector, is something that at any given instant of time “points towards a certain direction”, so, the pun is intended).

      Kind regards, GEN

  12. Oh! Gee… The Plank anomalies reminds me so much to the Ying Yang Taoist symbol 😛 , do anyone knows where to get a high definition copy?

  13. Mr Matt

    I have been reading the article about Planck and I have noticed that it says the polarization data will be released in 2014.

    Could you explain what polarization is? What will people possibly learn from polarization that they do not know now?

    Thank you

    • I haven’t yet thought about how to explain this in a non-technical fashion — but I will try to write an article about this in the next few weeks or months. Sorry not to have something ready for you…

      • Then do a short technical one. Many of your readers can understand physics at the undergraduate level with minimal equations.

  14. Thanks for the excellent blog. One tiny correction to the term used: there is no degrees Kelvin, it is always Kelvin. So the CMB temperature is 2.7 Kelvin. To say ‘2.7 degrees Kelvin’ is not correct.

    • You’re right, of course — technically. The problem is that a non-technical reader doesn’t know this fact — which is always a problem in deciding whether to say it correctly without the “degrees” or to say it incorrectly but more clearly with the “degrees”.

  15. Now it is time for some needed clarifications :
    1- The assumed/speculated field of inflation has causal power to inflate space-time , what is the mechanism ?
    2- What is the role of its particle , the assumed inflaton , in the a/m mechanism ?
    3- What determined that inflation to begin at exactly the time at which it started ?
    4- What determined the acceleration of inflation ?
    5-What determined the duration of inflation ?
    I know that answers does not exist , but how are these points included in the man-made mathematical structure of the assumed most important event in the history of the universe , can we ever prove inflation paradigm ?

    • I am not an expert, just I’m doing some comments based on what I have read on this subject over time (the last two decades, actually).

      To start with, we have the predictions by both Sasha Poliakov and Gerardus t’Hooft that magnetic monopoles should have been created at the very early stages of the universe. We also have that we cannot find magnetic monopoles in nature in the present time: we can only detect “normal” magnetic dipoles in nature.

      In 1980, Alan Guth started to work on a theory that could explain what had happened to magnetic monopoles in line with Big Bang Physics and also in line with the fact that we can’t detect them nowadays.

      The expansion of the universe by itself, did not seem to be a good enough explanation, so, it had to be something more drastic, something that would have “thrown them out of the picture entirely”, so to speak.

      This is how Guth came up with the inflation paradigm as a plausible explanation for the absence of evidence of magnetic monopoles.

      Other people explored this inflation idea, and realized that it was not only useful as a “fixer” of other “problems” with this Big Bang “thang”, after some more refinements, it did make more sense, and all of a sudden we had many variants of inflation theories.

      As you can see, the post on Dr Poliakov’s prize and this post on Planck’s first batch of data are related in many ways.

      Kind regards, GEN

    • I only have a bachelors degree in physics, but I have read a lot on this topic so I will address your points one by one with limited knowledge, and maybe some wrong knowledge:
      1. The mechanism of the inflation. Inflation results from some unique solutions in General Relativity. In these solutions some of the energy that warps space-time comes from the pressure of energy and mass. In order to get inflation you need a solution with a negative pressure. One type of energy (maybe the only type) comes from particles with zero spin, exactly like the recently found Higgs Boson. These zero spin particles are generically called inflatons.
      2. What is the role of the inflaton. As already stated, it is a zero spin particle that imparts negative pressure in General Relativity which results in inflation. The Higgs Boson does not have enough negative pressure to cause the inflation for the Big Bang. The inflatons that do, in many models, come from zero spin particles associate with Grand Unified Theories. There are also inflatons in string theory that can do the same.
      3. What determined the time that inflation began. That is usually theory dependent. It essentially starts with an already expanding universe right after the Plank Era of the Big Bang (the first 10 to the -42 power of a second) when gravity decouples. This “slow” expansion decreases the temperature of the universe. When this temperature cools close to the temperature where the strong force decouples from the electroweak force in the GUT models of inflation the universe undergoes the rapid inflation of the inflationary scenario where the inflation is exponential. This temperature determines the time the inflation is initiated, about 10 to the -38 orders of magnitude of a second. The General Relativity solutions describe this scenario.
      4. The acceleration of the expansion is answered in 3. This occurs when the temperature of the universe get’s close to the decoupling temperature of the electroweak and strong forces in GUT models.
      5. What determines the duration of the inflation. This is where quantum mechanics comes in. The only way for the universe to cool below the decoupling temperature of the electroweak and strong forces is due to quantum tunnelling. The electroweak and strong force decoupling temperature is really a minimum in the GUT energy potential. The only way to get out of it is for the universe to quantum tunnel out of this minimum into a different cliff where the temperature rolls down a non-GUT energy potential to the current temperature we have now. Again the duration of the inflation is determined by the GUT model you choose. The duration ends when the universe is able to successfully quantum tunnel out of the minimum. This is usually 10 to the minus 35 orders of magnitude of a second.

    • Your questions can’t be answered in a single post; it deserves a set of articles comparable to some of the ones I’ve written on particle physics. I’ll have to plan them out and design them carefully (and I still have a few more to finish on particle physics too…) Some of what Chris said is correct; some is wrong; some is out of date; the story is complex.

      • Question. usually in physics papers, there are theoretical curves superimposed on experimental curves. How come no one shows theoretical curves for different inflationary models on the power spectrum curves (even before Planck)? Do all of them agree?!!!
        Can you clarify this in a general way? Thanks.
        kashyap vasavada

        • I think the effects are very subtle and would be hard to see. The main things that affect the spectrum curves are very basic properties of the universe. However, the differences can now be detected in Planck’s data and are plotted in many of the figures in http://arxiv.org/abs/1303.5082 . Many versions of inflation are ruled out.

    • In science, what really matters is that you present a theory, very well supported by lots of experimental data, published on papers that are peer reviewed and after some time, then it becomes part of the mainstream: anything else is just an opinion.

        • True but dreadfully incomplete. Some opinions are backed by evidence, some are not. It may be your opinion that cell phones do not work; it is my opinion that they do; these opinions are not equal, because one is contrary to evidence and the other is not.

          • fact: “noun 1. something that actually exists; reality; truth”
            opinion: “noun 1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.”

            Cell phones working is a fact, not an opinion… in my opinion 😉

            • Last time I checked, “everything” (which is the word you chose) means “everything”. Now you say everything isn’t everything. Interesting 🙂

              More seriously: There is a continuum between entirely-unsupported-speculation and fact. Opinions can be based on anything along this line (to the extent it is a line). We can most certainly distinguish unsupportable or unsupported opinions from ones which, though not certain, are based on facts or reasonable evidence or basic logical reasoning. And whether an opinion is popular or not is not necessarily correlated with whether it is based on facts/evidence/reasoning.

  16. Dark matter seems to be the founder of cosmic structures …….
    It is speculated that it consist of unknown particles…….
    Why many other possibilities are ignored ? DM could be a sort of “” pilot waves / force / field …….”” as per david bohm , or even could be a sort of pattern creating active information fields as per sheldrake …..who can tell or who can object ?

    • aa. sh.:
      Not knowing who you are, but many of your questions are good and important.

      Indeed, the current definition for particle in physics is very bad. No, dark matter needs not to be a particles of any kind. As the Planck shows, the particles accounts for only about 5% of the universe. Let me use one analogy to show the point. For the human universe without anything else, the human bodies can be viewed as particles, but everything else (works, events, relationships, and all the whatnot) accounts for the 95% of energy of this human universe. “Marriage” accounts for about 50% of energy in this human universe, but it is not a particle of any kind. Then, there is family (parents/children love), etc..

      In my view, until we change the understanding about “particle” in physics, the human-physics still has a long way to go.

  17. Thanks to both; Gastón E. Nusimovich, and Matt Strassler for your kind replies to my question. It was very helpful. What I find really fascinating is that the map of our universe in some ways resembles the neural network of a human brain. My other question is; is it possible that dark energy and dark matter are different densities of a Higg’s field? If this is true, the observed speeding of the galaxies could be due to that condition. With less or, zero resistance from the field, would galaxies be able to fetch observed speeds? On the other hand, could a more dense Higgs field create more friction on matter that would explain the gravitational inconsistency of expected gravity to that of visible matter in our galaxy. Am I light-years off?

    • Unfortunately, we know this can’t be the case. We can measure that dark matter is dense in some regions and less dense in others. Suppose the Higgs field was stronger in the dark-matter-dense regions; then electrons would have a different mass, and atoms would be different, and the light emitted by atoms would be different, in those regions compared to regions where the dark matter was less dense. But we measure the properties of atoms in both types of regions, by looking at the light that atoms emit, and they are the same. So that rules out such a hypothesis.

      The Higgs field causes no friction; that’s why it was so hard to detect. (Analogies that suggest otherwise, such as those that compare the Higgs field to molasses or snow, are simply incorrect analogies.)

      Dark energy is sufficiently mysterious (and uniform) that its connection, if any, to the Higgs field must simply be stated as unknown. There is no known reason why they should be related.

      • No one has ever “measured” dark matter. If they did, it would not be called “dark” matter. Dark matter is a fudge factor (like dark energy, inflation, etc.) that make the big bang theory work until something better comes along.

      • Thanks Matt, but what if particles follow a blueprint, as cells follow DNA code. In such a case, particles in more dense regions of Higgs field would not be able to gain more mass because there would be a law which strictly forbids it. The Higgs in that case would be the expected ‘dark matter’, and the dark energy would be perturbations in the field caused by gravitational dynamics. That’s what I meant with what I said earlier. (- my imagination on it’s highest setting :).

  18. Hi Professor,
    I have a question regarding the CMB temperature anisotropy power spectrum. Basically I understand what the spherical harmonic expansion is. In the famous power spectrum “temperature fluctuation” vs “multipole moment” diagram we see the error bars for low l are much larger then for high l, why it is the case? Intuitively small angular scales require finer measurement resolution and are more difficult in observation then large angular scales, so I expected large error bars for small angular scales (i.e. large multipole moments) instead for lagre angular scales. What’s wrong with this argument? Thank you very much for your very nice articles here.

    • Your argument is correct as far as I know for the smaller scales. Planck is just good enough that the widening at smaller scales isn’t really visible in the diagram. The larger scales are limited by the fact that we only have one sky to look at. If you consider a Fourier transform, you can’t get very exact amplitudes for wavelengths that are almost as long as your data.

      The article does mention this, but perhaps not very clearly:
      “Planck’s predecessor, the WMAP satellite, found that there are some funny non-uniformities, a bit larger than you’d expect, at very large angular scales — and Planck sees them too, confirming their existence and allowing more precise study of them. (The photons are a bit hotter in half the sky than in the other half, and there’s a cold spot, and some sign of alignment of large-scale distortions that were expected to be randomly distributed.) But interpreting something like this is tricky — it could just be a statistical fluke, and since there’s only one universe, you don’t get to improve your statistics with better measurements. (That last point is called the problem of “cosmic variance”.)”

      • Interpretation:

        1. The Copernican Principle is disproven (aligment of Octupole and quadrupole to the ecliptic and equinoxes)
        2. The Cosmological Principle is disproven (axis of evil)
        3. LCDM is not a correct model for our universe
        4. The Big bang DId not occur
        5. Inflation could not have occured

        Also, the axis of evil is independently verified of the CMB (i.e. galaxy rotation axis for instance, Logo). Planck independently verifed WMAP/COBE.

    • At small angular scales, essentially what is happening is that one makes many measurements at different points in the sky, and averages them; the average has small errors. At large angular scales, the measurements are fewer — at the largest, there are only two hemispheres — so the average has large errors. (More technically: spherical harmonics have two numbers, l and m; what is plotted is the power in a given l, averaged over all m. But the number of m values is 2 l + 1, so each data point is an average of 2l+1 measurements, and thus has errors which drop as 1 over the square root of 2l+1.)

      • A far simpler explanation than mine. Don’t know why I couldn’t come up with something better than a Fourier transform…

  19. Because it is so ridiculously cold in March in Holland this year, I was thinking “and it’s still about 273 Kelvin above absolute zero!” Then it struck me that the CMB temperature is almost exactly one hundredth of this number 2.73 K.
    (CMB: 2.72548±0.00057 K and 0 Celcius -273.15, according to Wikipedia, ).
    Although it is just a mnemonic, it is still fun that the CMB temperature is (given our Kelvin=Celsius incremental steps) almost exactly 1/100 the temperature in Kelvin where water turns into ice!

  20. Modern physics is mostly opinion ,because of relativity and quantum physics. It is true that that some experimental evidence supporting standard model but who knows another more profound theory also can explain better . The pillars of modern physics is shaky and shrouded in deep doubt from even mathematical analysis. Let us accept at least that..

    • Modern physics underlies computers, telecommunications, lasers, GPS devices, and many other modern technologies; relativity and/or quantum physics are used in medicine, for example in MRI scans and in PET scans, to diagnose diseases that you or a member of your family might have. The only thing shaky here is your understanding of the technology around you, and the fact that much of it uses quantum physics and some of it uses relativity.

  21. Thanks for that insight Professor, suffice to say that it’s murky beyond that point of singularity.. but still there are some who will say that 10^-43 second suggests that ‘time didn’t always existed but neither it has its first moment’. Considering quantum physics is already weird as it is, they are not helpful at all 😀

    • Well, it’s murky before the singularity is what I’m saying. We can’t be sure the singularity is reached because both our theories and our knowledge (even what we can infer from data) break down before that point. Anyone who tells you there was a singularity at the beginning and then inflation started shortly thereafter is telling you things that are not known to be true. I agree that many descriptions of the early universe mix things that we do know, things that we are pretty sure we know, and things that we are just guessing about — and I really wish people would do a better job of distinguishing those things, because I do feel it isn’t helpful to mix them up in a description of science to the non-expert. We are virtually certain there was a Big Bang (the universe was once a hot, dense soup, cooling in an expanding space); there was probably, but not certainly, a moment of cosmic inflation (a spectacular expansion of our portion of the universe to a size far larger than we can even observe, during which the universe was very cold, and following which the universe heated to high temperatures, initiating the hot and dense period of the Big Bang); and we can only guess about what happened before that, but many guesses suggest no singularity and various bizarre forms of space-time “foam” or strange space-time shapes, in the midst of which defining time may become difficult, ambiguous, or impossible.

  22. I was doubting the application beyond our solar system because of non isotropic field density of dark energy soup. I know GPS,MRI etc working which indirectly support some part of quantum and relativity. May be some profound theory waiting to better explain not only matter but dark matter,dark energy which is more than ninety five percent. However I am again studying those areas to remove my shakiness and thinking deep .Thank you for discussing as this forum is also for some people like us searching for truth.

    • Calculations of how atoms and relativistic subatomic particles should behave outside the solar system work fine, testing both quantum mechanics and special relativity, which both pass with flying colors. Testing general relativity is harder but there are no confirmed violations of it at this time.

  23. Is that CMB map supposed to be wrapped into a globe and the Planck satellite is at the center of it when it was plotted? I couldn’t imagine how come the Planck satellite collected microwave photons from all direction.

      • Let’s bear in mind that, if the satellite must scan the sky above the Earth, it must have a trajectory that can’t be geo-synchronous, as it has to capture photons arriving at “all around the world” (a geo-synchronous trajectory would have the satellite always “flying over” the very same spot on Earth, so, it would not be able to capture photons arriving towards any other parts of the Earth). That means that the trajectory will be an ellipse and not a circle (which is a special type of ellipse).

        So, it means that there are a few transformations applied to the measurements to produce the images, including the Mollweide projection transformation.

        Kind regards, GEN

        • I still couldn’t visualize that GEN, considering Planck satellite must hide its cryo instruments from the glare and heat of the sun. The map I heard, was plotted in 15.5 months.. that’s more than 1 orbit of the earth around the sun.

          • A geo-synchronous orbit makes sense for other types of observations, but in this case, it would take the satellite as much time to cover the sky as it would take that very same spot on Earth (when one below the satellite) to cover the entire sky, and that is not a very effective plan actually. It makes more sense to have a orbit that will make as many spins around the Earth per day as possible, so, that it could take the least amount of days to cover the entire sky.

            My previous comment is somehow deceiving, as geo-synchronous orbits can be elliptical orbits (most orbits are elliptical).

            Kind regards, GEN

          • I have read a little more about the orbit of this satellite: it follows a Lissajous orbit around the L2 Sun-Earth point.

            It is pointed that in practice, any orbit around points L1, L2 and L3 is dynamically unstable, thus the use of a Lissajous orbit (and frequent jolts from the propulsion system of the satellite to counter any detected perturbations), so, the satellite does not spin around the Earth, it actually follows a Lissajous curve around the L2 point. The L2 point is 1,5 million Kms away from the Earth (in the other direction of the Sun).

            It was interesting to do some research on this aspect of the orbit of the satellite.

            Kind regards, GEN

      • Thanks for the wikipedia link Professor, that’s helpful in viewing the CMB map at Planck satellite perspective. I will assume that the top part of the map is the northern hemisphere of the sky globe… Planck looked at it as if it is an inverted bowl. 🙂

  24. Professor Matt Strassler,
    first and foremost, thanks for your reply. I was wondering if it is correct to say that gravity is a distortion/displacement of Higgs field by an object with mass and v.? You said in your blog that in principle, one could create a black hole with photons. I get that. Gravity acts upon potential energy of the object, therefore also upon energy of mass-less particles like photons. Since Standard Model allows only for one Higgs boson, does it mean that supersymmetry is a better theory of the two to explain gravity? I do understand that gravitons have not been discovered yet. I draw a conclusion from that, that if they don’t exist, gravity is not a force as such, but an effect/ distortion of mass/ energy + v. upon space-time (Higgs field). Following that logic, we have only three fundamental forces of nature, not four. Am I correct?

  25. A small correction: The interesting thing that Planck and WMAP are seeing on large scales is not that half of the sky is hotter than the other half (well, it is, but that is just the CMB dipole, which is thought to be well-understood). What they are seeing is that there are more temperature *fluctuations* on one side of the sky than the other. I.e. one side looks more uniform, the other more uneven. By a sort-of significant amount (it is a bit hard to quantify exactly how much, since this is a posteriori statistic). The axis of this asymmetry is close to the north-south direction of our solar system, though, which is suspicious.

          • I should have phrased it more exactly: Why is it just the microwave signal and not other wavelengths?

          • I think you mean cosmological redshift, which stretches the em waves by the expansion of the spacetime. Doppler effect is about em waves escaping gravity and losing energy in the process and is manifested by its reduced frequency and increased wavelength. I have no idea yet how the geeks distinguish cosmological and doppler redshifts 😀

          • yes r.Got, that is how I understood it too, far ahead in time some alien teacher in other planet will be explaining to the kids in school that their cosmological radiowave background used to be in microwave 😀

            • Correct. When the universe was younger, the cosmic background had higher frequency and its spectrum was that of a hotter “black-body”, compared to today.

  26. ACCORDING TO –ESA– BLACKBODY SPECTRUM DOES NOT EXIST ……
    RADIATION FIELD DOES NOT HAVE TEMPERATURE UNLESS IT IS A BLACKBODY ……….
    THERE ARE NO SUCH THING AS EQUATING TEMPERATURE WITH B.B. SPECTRUM…….
    BIGGEST BLUNDER EVER !!!!
    source : the dreamheron chronicles.
    WHERE ARE WE ???

  27. The CMB radiation is practically isotropic, and it presents an almost perfect profile of black body radiation in the microwave region, that is, it looks just like a black body radiating at that very same temperature of about 2.7 K.

    Kind regards, GEN

  28. I had google about the ‘cold spot’ encircled on lower right of the CMB map, I found out its located in the constellation Eridanus. Eridanus is a river of stars which starts at Rigel star of constellation Orion. What does cold spot means? does it mean if I have a microwave photon detector, that is the place where I could detect the least photons or none at all? is that it?

  29. I was very young when I first heard about the big bang and the microwave background. If my memory serves me right, it was on Believe it or not tv show. It’s about the two dudes who accidentally discovered it, anywhere they orient their antenna they always get interference day or night. The final words of the show host is memorable… he replayed the interference and said, what you are hearing is the echo of the big bang. Is microwave a sound?

    • Sound is produced by pressure waves in the air: those waves of air travel to our ear drums and make them vibrate, and that vibration is what we percibe as sound.

      Microwaves are photons, that is waves of a different nature entirely. But a small percentage of the static that your TV set is able to capture from space is CMB radiation, mixed with spureous radiation coming from many other sources. Part of that

  30. Part of that “white noise” static is interpreted by the TV set as sound, while most of the signal is interpreted by the TV set as image, so, a small percentage of both the image and the sound of that static presented by the TV set is CMB radiation.

    • I fear you might be as old as I am…in FM and digital video there is a nonlinear suppression of AM noise..hence…the audio has gone silent and the TV screen blue these days long before the CMB levels…we are in effect discriminating against the CMB in concumer devices..no one tell the Supreme Court

    • The microwave interference was presented as noise on that tv show, because the two dudes who were working on a project for Bell telephone company were annoyed that they couldn’t get a clean reception. If my conjecture is correct, maybe if Orion was up in the sky and they happened to point their antenna at the direction of the cold spot maybe they will be baffled not only annoyed.

      Btw, about interference, have you experienced driving on a desert highway and hearing on the AM radio some eerie hum, whistle, and roar? they say it’s the planet Jupiter yelling.

  31. Matt—do you know what the error bars mean on the multipole plot? I see many dozens of points above the peak and not a single point is off the curve. Even if they were 95% error bars, shouldn’t a few be off?

  32. Does CMB results allow for the idea that our universe is moving in a higher dimension medium so half of the globe is hotter than the other half ?

  33. The science that I know is about the established rules of empirical, stable, and demonstrable protocol, of which I elaborated further into never accepting anything at face value and always considering alternative explanations of given phenomena. And that a theory will remain a theory because proven scientific fact is never appropriate.. a lifetime of observing white swans cannot allow the conclusion that all swans are white considering observation of a single black swan is enough to disprove that conclusion. If ever we saw a black swan we will verify it empirically using acceptable methods if it’s really black, and send the alleged black swan too from lab to lab and see if they will obtain same results that confirm it’s really a black swan… using acceptable methods of course.

  34. How sure are we that the yelling of planet Jupiter in radio waves didn’t, and couldn’t possibly interfere with incoming microwave photons being collected by Planck? …making it appear hotter? and explaining the Hemisperical temperature anomaly… just a thought 🙂

    • Let’s have the Planck Collaboration tells us with their first reports how the made sure not to get messed up with the readings. The following report contains detailed info pertaining to this issue:

      http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm?fobjectid=45543

      Regarding the composite image of measurements captured during the first complete survey of Planck, the report offers the following comment:

      “A map of the whole sky at optical wavelengths shows a prominent horizontal band which is the light shining from our own Milky Way, seen in profile from our vantage point. The superposed false-color strip shows the area of the sky mapped by Planck during the First Light Survey. The color scale indicates the magnitude of the deviations of the temperature of the Cosmic Microwave Background from its average value, as measured by Planck at a frequency close to the peak of the CMB spectrum (red is hotter and blue is colder). The large red strips trace radio emission from the Milky Way, whereas the small bright spots high above the galactic plane correspond to emission from the Cosmic Microwave Background itself.
      [Figure credits: LFI & HFI Consortia (Planck), Axel Mellinger (optical)]”

      This comment is very clear regarding the fact that the mission and the orbits of the satellite were designed with care to know what point of the sky the sensors are looking at, at any given moment of time during each survey.

      Now, as the data is starting to be made public, other scientists are able to analyze the same data and validate or refute the conclusion made by the Collaboration: this is science at work!

      If the Collaboration is arriving at some quirky or fuzzy conclusion regarding your argument, most probably some other scientists will bring up the issue to the table, if such an argument is plausible to be made.

      Kind regards, GEN

      • Thanks GEN, I hope some concerned scientists will explain that radiowave from Jupiter and Cosmic microwave is impossible to mix. I was thinking about our eyes which could see yellow, which is actually two colors, green and red mixed by our eyes and interpreted it as yellow… maybe that’s the same reason why planck saw hot 😀

        • Our eyes don’t do the mixing; our brains do it, for reasons that have to do with the way we consciously experience and interpret light. The scientific experiments don’t mix wavelengths; they’re designed not to do that.

          • Thanks Professor, so it was designed that the microwave in transit will not be affected by Jupiter’s radiowaves before it was collected by planck. It’s worthwhile to think about possible human errors, we have enough experience.. Einstein fudge factor which he called the greatest blunder of his life, Millikan’s unspoken question “Am I Wrong?” which caused the inaccurate value of e to prevail for some twenty years, loose cable and superluminal neutrino among others 🙂

            • I may have misunderstood the point; you mentioned the mixing of wavelengths *in the brain*, which is why I focused on the equipment.

              But in any case, it seems exceptionally dubious as an idea. If wavelengths of light mixed somehow out in space, that would almost certainly have shown up elsewhere in physics. [The only way I can see to get an observably large effect for long-wavelength electromagnetic waves would be to add an energy-dependent interaction. And in that case you’d end up with an enormous effect at small wavelengths, so that visible light of different colors would mix so much that we wouldn’t be able to see.]

          • Yes, I was not clear about mixing of waves in transit. It’s interesting discussion I’m motivated to google about it since I don’t really know how photons interact. 🙂

            • How photons interact: very rarely! To make two photons scatter off each other requires extremely powerful lasers — see for example http://arxiv.org/abs/1202.3339 — and it happens through an indirect quantum effect, involving disturbances in the electron field (often called `virtual electron-positron pairs’, which aren’t really particles despite the name.)

              The fact that photons interact so rarely is why we can see things so clearly all the way across the universe, and also why we can teach the theory of light to first-year college students.

          • Thanks for the link Professor, I read only the abstract and it looks too technical for me, I’ll read it later when I got a bit older. I like researchers who can write abstract, it tells me they know what they are doing.

            For the time being, I will assume that ESA considered the possible effects of Jupiter in the planck instruments, not only its radiowave yelling buy also its magnetosphere.. the second largest continuous structure in out solar system that almost fried our Pioneer probe. 🙂

  35. There is one fact that has not been openly brought to the discussion: we are receiving CMB radiation photons from all over the sky, that is, from all directions, and as these photons are coming from the past of our universe, it seems as if our universe only has a “rearview window” and it doesn’t seem to have a “frontview window”. This is evidence of an important and peculiar property of our universe: it is finite in size, but has no borders.

    • The relativistic physics of the big bang theory doesn’t account for a past, present or future, and Oxford dictionary defines time as the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole…. I wish I could understand that 😀

      • Up to a point: at the singularity, there is neither space nor time, so, time starts to tick (and space is defined for the universe to have a place to exist) after our universe is created, that is, once the singularity is no longer present.

        The paper that Stephen Hawking presented in the early 1960s (that helped him to be named a fellow of Trinity College) mainly states that there are certain simmetries between the singularity in black hole and how it affects time (at the event horizon and within the event horizon) and the singularity of the Big Bang and how it affected time, and the concepts in that paper are still valid. In this paper he proposed that what happens with space and time at the beginning of our universe is similar to what happens with space and time at the formation of a black hole but played backwards.

        This paper set the stage for the demise of Fred Hoyle’s Stationary State theory.

  36. I also was taught to say “degrees C” for Celsius/Centigrade but “K” for Kelvin (formerly known as “degrees Absolute”). Recently, though, I have seen both uses in scientific contexts.
    Since Kaye and Laby use K (Kelvin), that’s what I use but, frankly, there was never any need for the vitriol that some lecturers could generate when a student slipped up and put a “degree” sign into an answer.

    Regards,

    David Perkin.

    • In a context like this colloquial discussion, up to a point, it is tolerable to use and accept some “fuzzyness”, but, as we are talking science, it would be best if we stick to the rules, and that is, the use of precise definitions, concepts, units of measure and procedures.

      In the context of a class, even with undergraduates (that are learning how to behave and perform as professionals), teachers (professors) have to stick to the rules, without exceptions.

      Kind regards, GEN

  37. What is space expanding into? How is Higgs field created from singularity that’s suppose to be nothing, zero energy and yet, there is so much energy in the universe?

  38. “Planck’s confirms WMAP: the hemispheric asymmetry and the cold spot are real… but are they accidents or a sign of a misunderstood universe?”

    Assumption: The universe is not flat, but spherical and more specific, an expanding shell.

    Could the data support such a theory?

    Could the asymmetry be the frequency of the temperature wave within the universal shell?

    If it was a shell then we would be able to see “our back of our heads”, yes? Not if the expansion of the shell was so fast that light could not make the round trip fast enough.

    Maybe the 13.82 billion years is not the age of the universe, but merely the size of the arc of the shell that we can “see”? It will certainly look flat from our perspective and the data would still be valid.

    I predict inflation never happened, instead we are living in he sock wave of the Big Bang, the shell of the ever cooling matter that was produced at the Big Bang. There need not be a force from within the sphere that is stretching this matter apart, the mere momentum of the Big Bang is sufficient and gravity was never strong enough to counter it. If we can measure the frequency of this asymmetry, I believe we can deduce the size and age of the spherical shell.

    Our universe could very well be one of billions of universe nebulae that had gone off with a bang. If time (evolution) cannot reverse direction then there must be infinite universal nebulae. There need not be mulit-dimensions, it just that the entire space is so big and the dissipation is so fast (relatively speaking) that our universal nebula may never collide with another.

  39. That’s more or, less how I see it, too. It makes lot of sense to me that we (scientists) made a big mistake in trying to estimate the age of the universe relying on one concept (theory) only that when we look at our universe, we are looking backwards in time. If we are comfortable with the Big Bang model then we must realize that implossion doesn’t necessarily means that
    the energy released at the BB project itself outwardly in an all uniform way. We have no means to back this up. The initial energy of a Bang is a cocktail of ALL particles and ALL forces nature is ever likely to produce. Though inflation or, separation from the confined state is an instantaneous event, each particle will travel at it’s permitted speed. Particles are formed at the instant of Big Bang not some time after it because, particles are the very constituents of that energy and a new state that energy gets subjected to; merely freedom and a change in surrounding temperature drop. That’s why matter formed out of this energy is traveling not in an uniform way, allowing some regions of the universe to be ahead of other regions. So that when we peer with our telescopes into the deepest of the visible sky, we don’t know if we are looking at what’s behind of us or, what is ahead of us
    and therefore can never figure out the true age of the Universe.

  40. One of the difficult aspects of any theory that tries to explain the early universe is that the level of energy involved at that time was so immense, that we can’t yet design experiments that could reproduce similar conditions.

    But one thing we can do is to find out how a given theory would evolve over time and find out what predictions of the physical characteristics of the present day any given theory can predict, and compare those predictions with present conditions, which are very well known.

    Using this valid procedure, we can compare different theories and figure out which are the ones that make the better predictions and which are the ones that make the not so good predictions or even the worse predictions.

    There are many theoretical reasons why we can substantiate as valid this idea of finding out how a theory will evolve over time. One of such reasons is substantiated by Emmy Noether’s Theorems.

    • I agree with that GEN, a theory to be considered scientific it must be progressive and dynamic adjusting some of its aspects accordingly with the new data gathered. The big bang theory is anomalous, and hence we now have the Lambda-CDM model which is a parametrization of the big bang model… dark matter and dark energy were added as well as the resurrected and tweaked cosmological constant.. to balance the equations.

      Btw ALICE Experiment at CERN had attained a temperature 100,000 times hotter than the core of our sun, I guess they had a glimpse of smaller bang 😀

      • The big bang is a mathematical concept, an extrapolation of the observed expansion of the universe backward in time though the simulation starts at 10^-43 second and 10^-33 meter point of singularity.. the reason that it couldn’t be simulated beyond that point is because the particle refused to occupy a space which is smaller than its wavelength. I conjecture that it was from the simulation that they derived the 13.8 billion years as the elapsed time of the expanding universe, and also the 370,000th years of it when the photons were released which we could observed now as cosmic microwave background.

  41. CMB radiation is not a mathematical concept.

    In fact, it was predicted by many scientists, including Gamow and Alpher in that famouse paper of 1948 that I have mentioned previously.

    • The big bang is a mathematical concept and CMB radiation is one of its empirical evidences. An electron is also mathematical concept too but we accept electron as real. 🙂

      • Likewise, dark matter and dark energy is mathematical concept too, thrown in to balance the big bang equations. “We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but nature exposed to our method of questioning.” And our method of questioning is mathematics… as it is, most of our universe is missing and they are trying to find it 😀

      • The CMB is an observation, and the big bang theory is the only thing mainstream science will consider for its interpretation. This is not science it is philosphy using scientific tools.

        • John,

          Philosophy as a science also has to follow the scientific method. On the contrary, Belief systems, world-views or cosmovisions are free to wander and wonder, as these lines of thinking dare not to put their own ideas to the test, to be peer-reviewed, to publicate papers.

          It took more that 50 years for TBBT to be accepted as mainstream, and it had to go over a series of validations over the decades, to compete with many other theories, and to be found more robust and consistent with evidence that most other alternative theories.

          As a theory, it still is the frontrunner of the pack that still runs as viable explanations of the evidence that have gathered.

          • This may be true, but it trespasses significantly into metaphysics- which may in fact be ok, given how little we actually “know” about cosmology. Still, other views do not publicate in peer reviewed arenas often because they are rejected out of hand. It is very difficult to get through peer review if you question the copernican principle, for instance.

            There is a battle going on right now in Wikipedia, where an editor (Wikipedia: Copernican_principle) is trying to make a few statements that the Planck satellite confirmed WMAP and COBE, and verified the axis of evil, and the alignments to the ecliptic and equinoxes, and thus challenge the Copernican Principle. The editor is being chastised, and accused of fringe science (see the last edit: Wikipedia: Copernican_principle&oldid=549725066). This is the depths of control that TBBT and its $billions of funding have on the ability to even speak truth in a public arena.

        • Belief systems crave for the “Authority” concept that will propagate revelations to the crowds. “Authority” and “Ex Cathedra” (literally, “from the chair” in latin, as in speaking “from the chair” of authority) are main themes of Belief Systems, World Views or CosmoVisions.

          This concept of “Ex Cathedra” permeated to the scientific system at a very early stage, and there are still vestiges of this “from the chair” theme in the scientific system, as many universities still hold “Chairs” for professors that deserve a certain meritorial status or consideration, but the “authority” concept has vanished from the scientific system a long time ago.

          Just to give an example of a Chair that resonates deeply with the subjects that we discuss, is the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge, that over the centuries was occuped by Barrow, Newton, Airy, Babbage, Stokes, Larmor, Dirac, and more recently, Hawking.

          The works of Barrow, Newton, Airy, Stokes, Larmor and Dirac have certainly shaped influenced my studies during college, as those works (with many others) were an integral part of the curricula at my college.

          Kind regards, GEN

  42. Actually, it was Alpher, and then Alpher and Herman that did a lot of sudy on the CMB radiation prediction, but this knowledge was forgotten for some time, and then, brought back as very relevant in the 1960s but Dicke and Zel’dovich.

  43. Gastón, that is precisely where the problem lies, in the fact that we don’t know anything of pre-inflation period, it’s mechanism, amount of energy involved and it’s cause. Red shift proves what? That galaxies are rushing
    away from each other, but not Virgo Supercluster? Why is space not expanding in our cluster of galaxies? It should if the whole Universe is expanding. Of course, I’m not asking your personally, unless you have an opinion on it and wish to share it with us, but putting a question to demonstrate that something doesn’t fit with the Big Bang theory, nor inflation. Emmy Noether’s is right but Universe is beyond and above the application of her theory, as it stands and even less at an earliest of time of pre-inflationary universe.
    I hope I’m not shocking you with my outspokenness, and please know that I do appreciate your willingness to engage me on this topic. It’s nothing personal, either. I love science, astrophysics in particular. Matt is right about ordinary folk getting mixed messages from the media, and oftentime conflicting ideas of physicists who promote their own theories. The very fact that we have to account for dark matter and dark energy, two unknowns into equation should remind us that we’re trying to solve the biggest puzzle ever with 4% of data.

    • A comment: the Big Bang theory (that the universe was once very hot and dense and has been expanding smoothly since that time, and was probably preceded by a period of inflation) is in extraordinarily good shape. That fact is independent of the fact that we don’t know what happened before inflation.

      Your questions/statement “That galaxies are rushing away from each other, but not Virgo Supercluster? Why is space not expanding in our cluster of galaxies? It should if the whole Universe is expanding.” are red herrings. The statement of the Big Bang is not that all parts of the universe are expanding, or that all are expanding at exactly the same rate. The statements are that (1) on average and on large scales, the universe is expanding, and (2) that the non-uniformities in the expansion, now quite large on galactic and cluster scales, were much, much smaller at early times than they are today. And the measurements by Planck (and earlier satellites) of the Cosmic Microwave Background confirm statement (2).

      • I hope they will be able to complete JWST aand launch it soon, maybe it we finally tells us whether our universe is flat or spherical? I just cannot accept the flat theory. Nature is based on symmetry as its foundation and moving towards unsymmetrical parameters as densities increase and space-time expands. Where is the symmetry in a flat universe? Where is the beginning and the edge. How do you define infinity in a flat universe, not possible.

        In contrast, a spherical universe is the simplest and therefore the most likely model. I predict the 13.8 billions years is the diameter of the arc we can see. The edge, hopefully JWST will see will be all dark because the galaxies “over the horizon” would be moving away from us faster than the speed of light, i.e light is limited to c but space can move as fast as it wants.

        Suppose space-time already existed before the Big Bang occurred? We, humans, are living in a very short period of time, how could we possible measure the full span of space-time in such a small window of existence?

        Yes, we can only measure what we see but we don’t know what is and we will never know. I think if we use the universe as a mirror we could make ourselves better, instead of looking for someone else.

      • Oh, I tend to skim through posts. Sorry professor, thanks for correction on what Big Bang theory teaches, but (sorry to put but into it) isn’t the theory of inflation based on Hubble’s discovery of receding galaxies, alone. This fits in with the Big Bang Theory nicely, but as far as the cause of expansion is concerned, might it not be something else? We are trying to figure out the workings of our universe based on very little solid data so, adding ‘dark energy’ and ‘dark matter’ into equation is merely adding ‘x’ and ‘y’. We are nowhere nearer to explain the phenomenon of space-time expansion then we were 50 years ago. This makes ‘inflation’, and the terms; ‘dark energy’ and ‘dark matter’ rather fictional, and not a scientific discovery. Just saying.

        • The inflation he is referring to is not expansion, but a “special” period in the big bang theory that was hypothesized to have occurred in order to fit observed data, i.e., another fudge factor.

          Problem is that Planck results not only challenge the Copernican and cosmological principles (and thus effectively the big bang theory), but it appears it challenges inflation to:

          http://arxiv.org/pdf/1304.2785v1.pdf

          And in such a ay that the escape pod known as “the multiverse” may not be operational.

        • The same paper claims LHC results also spell trouble for inflation:

          “6. More trouble for inflation from the LHC?”

          • Nice, Steinhardt et al is preparing an escape clause for the big rip finale of the big bang or its other equally undesirable options of ending the universe. I wish they find a way around the second law of thermodynamics.. ‘cyclic model’ holds that the universe acts like a balloon that inflates and deflates over and over under its own steam. Can we reverse entropy? Really?

  44. Local cluster on shared gravitational influence don’t participate in the expansion of the spacetime, on the contrary galaxies within it tend to congregate closer. There is a small galaxy merging with our milkyway right now, and in turn our milkyway will do an intimate gravitational dance with andromeda in about 4 billion years from now, yes andromeda among few others are blueshifted.

    A local cluster held by gravity is like an elephant having a tug of war with a duck on the other end of the rope representing the vacuum-like dark energy that is causing the expansion. The duck pulls with all its might it keeps the rope taut but the elephant won’t bulge… at least not yet for the next 20 billions of years in the big rip, surely we won’t be around, our sun will go supernova 5 billion years from now 😀

    • Btw, is it useful to know that the speed radar being used by traffic law enforcers operates on the principle of redshift/blueshift doppler effect?

    • Sorry, missed to reply to you on this. Yes, I knew that. Thanks. But the analogy is that Universe is expanding in all directions like inflated balloon. Heard of that one? Andromeda, and magellanic clouds are already starting to merge with the Milky Way and yeah, In 50 mil. years head on collision with the Big sister, Andromeda.

      http://news.softpedia.com/news/Milky-Way-Already-Colliding-with- Magellanic-Clouds-77906.shtml

      • The picture of a balloon being inflated is nice, it gives us comfortable feeling that we understand what’s going on, but since it is just an analogy it can never be correct. Reasoning by analogy will usually lead to conclusions which have nothing to do with observable phenomena nor with calculations.

        The big bang theory tells that our universe emerged from nothingness, nothing as is in not even empty space where time could exist. As some video clips describe it.. “*”In the beginning there was nothing, somehow out of this vibrant nothingness: space, time, energy, matter emerged… “*”Theoretically there is no beginning, the simulation started at 10^-43 second when a 10^-33 meter point of singularity inflated and continuously expands, that gives a weird conclusion that time didn’t always existed nor time has its first moment. The balloon being inflated is inadequate to picture that event.

        • Romulo — your statements about the theory of the Big Bang are really not correct. Lots of video clips do describe it this way, but they are irresponsible, because (as I have complained in other posts) they are not distinguishing those things that are pure speculation from those that are well established.

          We simply do not know how the Big Bang began, and the theoretical story of the Big Bang does not require that we know. The modern theory of the Big Bang gets rolling at some point with inflation taking place, following which inflation stops and the universe heats to a high temperature and density, and the hot part of the “Big Bang” — the part that the websites and videos usually talk about — starts at that point. The fact that there was a hot dense period (with temperatures of perhaps trillions of degrees and likely much greater) is basically well-established now. That inflation took place is still not established but looks reasonable. What happened before inflation is pure speculation — we do not know enough about inflation to tell you what happened before it or got it started. There are many guesses, but they are quite different from each other, and quite a few of them do not start with nothingness. (And none of them started with a point of singularity.)

          The balloon analogy is actually better than you think, but indeed, it can’t capture everything that happens in the Big Bang.

          • It’s a dilemma for me Professor, either I accept that some galaxies are receding faster than light as indicated by their redshifts… or accept that the spacetime itself is expanding ever since the singularity. I’ve seen similar video clips, but it started with quantum foam and I instinctively dislike it.

            • If inflation is right, some galaxies are receding faster than the speed of light (but not the ones we can see). This does not violate relativity. General relativity is more general and subtle than special relativity; it says that when an object passes right by you, its motion relative to you will be less than that of light. But in curved space-time, a distant galaxy, which is therefore not passing by you, can recede from you (or approach you) faster than light can. And in fact, this is what happens, in dramatic fashion, during cosmic inflation.

          • Excerpt from Big Bang article of Wikipedia, peer-reviewed references are provided in the reference section of the article way down the the page…

            **” FLRW metric
            Main articles: Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker metric and Metric expansion of space

            General relativity describes spacetime by a metric, which determines the distances that separate nearby points. The points, which can be galaxies, stars, or other objects, themselves are specified using a coordinate chart or “grid” that is laid down over all spacetime. The cosmological principle implies that the metric should be homogeneous and isotropic on large scales, which uniquely singles out the Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker metric (FLRW metric). This metric contains a scale factor, which describes how the size of the Universe changes with time. This enables a convenient choice of a coordinate system to be made, called comoving coordinates. In this coordinate system the grid expands along with the Universe, and objects that are moving only due to the expansion of the Universe remain at fixed points on the grid. While their coordinate distance (comoving distance) remains constant, the physical distance between two such comoving points expands proportionally with the scale factor of the Universe.[36]

            The Big Bang is not an explosion of matter moving outward to fill an empty universe. Instead, space itself expands with time everywhere and increases the physical distance between two comoving points. Because the FLRW metric assumes a uniform distribution of mass and energy, it applies to our Universe only on large scales—local concentrations of matter such as our galaxy are gravitationally bound and as such do not experience the large-scale expansion of space.”**
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

          • “Your mathematics is correct… but your physics sucks!” said Einstein privately to Lemaitre.. and to Friedmann, Einstein also said “not all correct mathematics leads to acceptable theory!” But eventually Einstein endorsed the big bang theory and its pioneers.. Lemaitre et al, and he gave his petty cosmological constant an honorable funeral. I’m curious why Einstein encouraged Lemaitre to look into the possibility of models of non-isotropic expansion at that time when cmb radiation was not yet known… as it turned out, cmb radiation is non-isotropic.

        • “Vibrant nothingness” is allusion to the deeper interpretation of Heisenberg uncertainty principle that allowed the mathematics of General Relativity to proceed.

          Indeed, “Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think.” after all we evolved in a 4 dimensional realm, no wonder if we couldn’t grasp the concept of nothingness. The reality exposed to us could be bizarre and not intuitive but they could be expressed unambiguously in mathematical language.

          Try this simple algebra… 1/3 = .333… infinity! multiply the whole equation by 3 it’s 1 = .999… infinity! If anyone has problem in accepting that, I guess there is bigger problem for that one concerning the Lambda-CDM model… better chose another cosmological model without the math 😀

          • It is my understanding that the basic principles guiding our conversations is that we want to know a little bit more about science, to have a better grasp of the principles, concepts and ideas behind the equations, but un such a way that, even though in a lighter form, we try to use the scientific method as a guide to our line of thinking.

            Getting back to Romulo’s idea and numerical demonstration that infinity pops up everywhere we care to look for it, it is important that we do not trip into a simple conceptual mistake (infinity pops up in many places in math, but we shouldn’t careless with where and how we go after an infinite number, besides there are many types or orders of infinite numbers, as Georg Cantor studied and developed that concept, just to give an example).

            Numbers and the concept of numeration are both cool and important, but we better stick to the important part for the time being.

            The concept of number is important to science and technology in general, because it is a very simple abstract idea that is useful to represent content, and when I say content, I use it on purpose both a synonym for other concepts like size or extension, but also with a mathematical intent.

            When we say that any given number is finite, we are actually talking about a relative property of this “content” thing of numbers: a number is finite because its content is limited in such a way that we can compare its content with the content of any other number that we can think of and that comparison is possible for our mind to accomplish because the ratio of the two contents will be also a number which content is graspable by our mind.

            Any number is not finite when its content is not limited in the way we just described.

            The number 1/3 has a content that is clearly limited, so, it is clearly a finite number, and there is nothing special about the fact that under the decimal system we have to use an infinite number of digits to describe that number in an extensive way with all its digits.

            In the decimal system, the base is the number 10. We could use other numerical systems to represent numbers. Each numberical system has its own base, like the binary numerical system, which has as its base the number 2.

            We could also use the number 3 as the base of a numerical system. the number 1/3 expressed in base 3 will have one single decimal digit.

            On any given numerical system, the number of digits that we need to express the content of a given number are called significant figures, or sig figs, for short.

            Even though with base 10, we need an infinite amount of sig figs to express the content of the number 1/3, in base 3 we just need 1 single sig fig to express the content of the very same number 1/3.

            With these simple rules that I have briefly mentioned, it is very simple to demonstrate that, in base 3, the number 1/3 is a finite number and its content is expressed with just one single decimal digit (that contains a finite number, the number 1 as multiplier), when we calculate a change of content to a different numerical base like 10, the number 1/3 will remain a finite number and there nothing special about the number of sig figs, and in particular, no “conclusion towards infinity” about it.

            Kind regards, GEN

          • There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t 😀

            1= .999…infinity, is a process but I don’t wish to terminate the process, it’s like disregarding that a proton is the sum of infinite possibilities simultaneously going on within it.

            Anyways, for practical reason we can stop extracting the digits through infinity, like the pi.. cosmologists say 40 digits will suffice to compute the volume of the observable universe with a precision of one atom, though the digits of pi runs through trillions when they are testing their supercomputers.

          • There is a diffeentiation between “infinite” and “transfinite”. Georg Cantor explored these ideas. The distinction appears subtle, but is not.

          • infinite and transfinite it seems to me is similar to the management jargon active and proactive which I don’t like very much.. sort of code words for those who attended the same school of thoughts 🙂

          • Well, infinite is everything, including the kitchen sink. Transfinite is a never ending series with a specific pattern (usually).The set is defined in terms of “cardinality” and “power”. Infinite would include all possible transfinite sets (and everything else, except maybe God- i.e., God is infinite, but infinity is not God). Cantor’s flagship work is available form Dover Press and is pretty cheap (I can’t recall the title).

          • Cantor does not call it a pattern, but rather an abstraction- such as all irrational numbers between 1 and 2. This is a transfinite set, but it is not infinity.

          • Somehow that is similar to the big bang singularity that couldn’t be computed beyond 10^-43 second and was assumed zero lies beyond that point, hence the weird conclusion that time doesn’t always existed nor it has its first moment.

            That is similar also to Zeno’s paradox of motion which was resolved using a geometric series. However, it is not clear if the mathematical treatment done addresses the underlying metaphysical issues that Zeno was exploring. I’m still thinking about that hoping to grasp the underlying concept.

      • Oops…. my mind’s gone on holidays…, no, not Andromeda is not merging with Milky Way, yet.

        • Yes, Andromeda and Milkyway will do an intimate gravitational dance 4 billion years from now. I imagined it will be just like meshing of fingers except that there trillions of fingers that are billion of lightyears from each other. It was suggested that the merger be called Milkromeda if the human race still exist at that time 😀

    • Evidence for dark matter — specifically “cold” (i.e. moving much slower than light speed) dark matter — does not come from one source; it comes from many different types of of measurements. And no single structure in the power spectrum tells you such a specific piece of information.

      • Is it easier to assume from observed anomalies in galactic rotation. ie. stars and other celestial object moving at speeds that are roughly speaking the same as those near its center, when these should be much slower, that this is due to the presence of dark matter, which can not be detected, than to think that our understanding of black holes/ perhaps even gravity could be at fault? I can see how that would be possible since, we humans don’t like having our basic scientific concepts turned on its head.

        • Any scientific theory will eventually face some experimental evidence that does not square nicely with the its predictions.

          The case for black holes is different in many ways: first came the weird predictions presented by some bold scientists, that dared to face ridicule if such preposterous assertions were proven to be false.

          There was no initial weird evidence that pointed anybody’s attention to play with some equations to see if there was any possible prediction that would match the weird evidence

          Once the scientific community validated the initial weird predictions and there was some consensus regarding the idea of black holes, science started to look for some evidence, using the weird predictions to inform the search process (where to look, what to look for, how to look).

          Incredibly, some weird evidence matching the weird predictions was found, and the process gathered momentum.

          This process has been going on for some 50 years now, with new weird predictions still coming out of the scientific community, but now there is more “cross pollination” between the weird predictions informing the search process and the weird evidence informing and giving feedback to the theory.

          I’m not an expert on either of these subjects (cosmology, particle physics, quantum gravity), but it is my understanding that the evidence found regarding stars spinning faster than expected is better explained by something like dark matter and is not that well explained by black holes.

          Black holes produce very specific physical phenomena around them, which are well understood by science and have been validated by a pile of evidence after all these years.

          If the groups of stars that are spinning faster than expected were to be “driven” by a black hole, we should be finding at least some evidence those phenomena around black holes that would be related in a predictable way with the “fast spin” of those stars. Science has not found a strong case for this idea, so, as it was not a good candidate, the explanation had to be something else, and this is how DM was brought to the forefront as a candidate explanation.

  45. I got the a/m information from — galileo,s pendulum blog — telling that the third peak designates DM content , so 3rd = DM is an assumption ?

    • No, it’s a calculation. But it’s not so simple as you just described it. If you took dark matter away altogether, many aspects of the spectrum would change.

    • Galileo studied the pendulum problem only from a purely experimental perspective, that is, he did not have a theoretical model to start with to validate or refute with an experiment. What he did was to use an experiment to gather facts to inform the basis for a theory.

      It is very clear (or at least, it is my understanding), that part of his interest on studying pendulums was based on finding a system to measure time that at the same time could be reliable enough, portable and with enough resolution that it would allow him to measure precisely the time it took an object to fall to the earth from a certain height (like say, from the Tower of Pisa).

      It seems that he didn’t find the pendulum useful enough for that particular measurement of time, but nonetheless he found the experiments with pendulums interesting enough to be pursued.

      It seems that he was inspired by the swinging of the candelabra of the cathedral in Pisa, so, he only studied the case of a pendulum that behaves like an Simple Harmonic Oscillator, which is a pendulum with a very small displacement of the weight from the vertical position. Such a type of pendulum behaves very much a Simple Harmonic Oscillator because when the displacement is small enough, the angle of the displacement has such a small value that it is valid to equal sin(x) to x, where x is the value of the angle in radians.

      For larger displacements, sin(x) can’t be equal to x, so, the solution of the differential equation is not a Simple Harmonic Oscillator. In fact, the resulting diff equation doesn’t have an analytical solution, so, a numerical method has to be used to solve it.

    • When you mention “the third peak” in the signal, do you imply the third harmonic? If that is so, the solution to Galileo’s pendulum has only one harmonic, and it is not a proper system to represent a signal with multiple harmonics.

      For such systems with multiple harmonics, a tool like Fourier Analysis is more appropriate.

  46. Matt….i see here a wonderful piece of circular reasoning ! interpretation of CMB-PS is based on the assumed SMoC that includes DM , then they see signs of DM in the CMB-PS according to their interpretation …….wonderful indeed .

    • Yes, a right-handed helix will fastened your arguments if you turn it clockwise… it depends on the chirality of the helix and how you turn it.

  47. That is another wonderful piece of playing with words , ….. my point is :
    CMB-PS is not only consistent with DM concept , it is consistent with many other cosmologies , so concentrating on a favored or main-stream cosmology in interpretations and in results is a great insult to the public , even to science itself ……..it never should be allowed to say that ( the third peak is DUE to DM ,…..A FALSE AFFIRMATION ) IT COULD BE DUE TO MANY OTHER COSMOLOGIES .

    • The science nazis only allow the standard model to be considered. Reality is not what is, but rather what gets funded.

    • See my note above on (Wikipedia: Copernican_principle). There is a fight to include the possibility that the axis of evil, and more specifically the correlation of quad/octupoles to the ecliptic and equinoxes challenge the copernican principle. This is considered “fringe science” and research (in wikispeak).

  48. Umm…, sorry to have mumbled a bit on my previous post. On singularity and plasma, pls. read ‘quark-gluon plasma’ and to; ‘the mass is lost through radiation of ‘w+’ [kindly insert; (and ‘w-‘)] particles. Thxs!

    • Our anomalous cmb map especially its “axis of evil” which is aligned to the ecliptic and the equinoxes, challenge the Copernican Principle. My question to ESA and NASA would be simple if ever I could contact them… “Did you or did you not consider the planet Jupiter before you plot the cmb map?” 🙂

        • Yes, I inferred that the anomalies in the CMB map were caused by measurement goofs that consequently allowed contaminated CMB radiation to be measured by Planck satellite. The magnetosphere of Jupiter, the second largest continuous structure in our solar system that almost fried the Pioneer probe could have affected the incoming CMB radiation. Also, the radiowave emission from Jupiter could possibly affected the incoming CMB radiation by interference like what em waves do in the double-slit. I could be making a fool of myself but at least I told what’s going on inside my head, and created an opportunity to correct my knowledge about em waves.

        • I told ESA in their facebook page, I took their reply as, “don’t worry layman, calm down ESA knows what they are doing”. It’s funny, we’re communicating in english but I have a feeling that we don’t really understand each other 😀

  49. Are we misinterpreting dark matter and dark energy?

    Maybe it’s not what is there that we cannot see but what is missing from our field of view because it is moving away from us at speeds faster that light. i.e. the expanding spherical shell model of the universe.

    The total energy and momentum from the Big Bang also includes the sector of the shell we cannot see. Hence, if we can only see 5% then it could be an indication on how larger the sphere is, i.e. 13.82 billion years is the arc sector we live in or 5%, so the total sphere is 13.82 x 20 = 276.4 billion years in circumference. This is a big number which can only be if space is expanding faster than the speed of light and there is no law that states it cannot. The “plane” of the universe is the shell itself I predict once JWST is deployed full operational we will see that energy will be expanding at a faster rate above the plane than below the plane, i.e. the expansion outwards from the singularity.

    The only thing that can stop it is either collision with another universe nebula or dissipation of matter back the true vacuum, back to “nothingness”. What cause the extreme high pressure of the singularity is a mystery but true vacuum is not a total stable environment and if there are any fields that remain then what to prevent gravity (presumably the one field left) from collapsing into a high pressure region (the singularity) and repeating the whole process again? Sadly, in this scenario there is and end since the entropy will be higher the next and every consecutive cycle until there is no more fuel left in this universe. Hopefully our neighbors (adjacent universes) will give us a boost before we run out of fuel.

    Finish the damn telescope, please, before my passing. 🙂

    • I imagine that error would not be on the largest angular scales, and for sure would show up on smaller angular scales (where there are no alignments or correlations).

    • We could be wrong about dark matter and dark energy, and I agree we have only photons coming from the cosmos that tells us if the calculations are correct.. finish the damn telescope please. Balancing the cosmological equations is much complex, unlike in chemistry where coefficients balanced the equation that satisfy conservation of matter and energy is readily verifiable in the laboratory.

      There is something I’m not comfortable with, Relativity declared that the F in the newtonian gravitation is Fake.. or theoretical. Hence we use the relativistic equations instead, but in return we throw in theoretical dark matter and dark energy for the purpose of balancing the equations. Well, just a conjecture and could be irresponsible at that 😀

    • I think it’s alright if we could study the observable universe only and not the whole of it, in biology we don’t need the whole organism, we only need a minuscule of it in a glass slide to know volumes of info about it 🙂

    • You mean, you really believe that everything came out of singularity? The energy this universe contains came outta nothing? Seriously? I’m not mocking you. I like your reasoning but the concept of singularity is not well developed model to explain energy with. May be Planck scale is a larger dimension than we are capable of comprehending at our level of intellectual development, which means that this idea is not completely ruled out. However the ‘nothingness’ of it, may be is.

        • Hi, yes I believe that electron is real enough, too. It’s the meaning or, conjecture of what singularity represents, that’s nothingness, that I object to. I also object that all energy of this universe comes from that ‘nothingness’ on the bases that if zero energy = all energy, than zero is not ‘nothing’ but ‘everything’. I’m not talking about decimal values, either :).

          • The casimir effect proves that particles can pop in and out of existence. The black hole which is not really black because it emits hawking radiation, is a mathematical concept too.. and it is also a point of singularity. Heisenberg uncertainty principle allowed the big bang and upheld by the theory of relativity. Those are mathematical wizardry which all we can do is to accept or just leave them and let us just gather some sea shells on the beach or make some chrochet… unless we are like Feynman and capable of re-checking all the calculations by ourselves.

            I’m not aware that free space has impedance, I found out it’s considered a natural constant with a rounded-off value of 120 pi ohms or 376 ohms. It’s amazing that the Voyager could still overcome that resistance and our deep-space tracking antennae could still receive signals from voyager at 10^-16 watt of power. A modern-day electronic digital watch operates at a power level 20 billion times greater than that feeble level.

      • It is unfortunate the term, “nothingness” was used but I am willing to also use it in the context of describing true vacuum. In the broader scenario true vacuum can only exist in non-zero space-time, in other words I don’t believe that space-time can exist without a field(s) (maybe down to one) to define it begin with. True vacuum is never null, there is always some non-zero level of fluctuations that characterize the field(s) within that space-time region.

        My thoughts about the scenario described above are totally driven by this quest to define infinity and its corollary, the null set (or empty set). I am of the opinion that a cyclic nature of this universe or in other words the entire universe is oscillating from the singularity to full dissipation and but to singularity and repeat. But again the entropy then next cyclic must be bigger because time cannot reverse direction. And this can only be true if our universe is not the only space-time (somewhat of a closed region) out there. So, all the universes oscillate [naturally since oscillations of any parameter (quantum state) basically define space-time] with some very low level of interactions, too low for us to pickup, so far. It could be that the universal constants that can be measured today our far too big and hide the low level interactions between the universes.

        My take is that, infinity is the scalar quantity of the energy [quantum state(s)] while the null set is the direction which these states are driven to by variations of levels of energy within a specific space-time domain. So, one question would be if the null set is the end point why doesn’t it ever get there? Because of the residue field that will always be there even after “complete” dissipation (almost complete but not quite because of the interactions between adjacent universes which keep this field(s) always on. I think it would be gravity because it is the only way to get back to the singularity and repeat the process.

        Who know what the JWST will let us see? Maybe we will pickup these interactions with our neighbors?

        • Among the mission of JWST is abiogenesis. I’m intrigued, what infrared light can tell about the origin of life? The primary mission is to search for light from the first stars and galaxies that formed in the young universe after the big bang, perhaps the ancient infrared may reveal the origin of the fine structure of our universe? The natural constants that made life possible… Interesting.

          • Have you tried the google search feature? type the name of the natural constant such as ‘proton mass’ and click search… it will give you outright the value of proton mass.. some physicists say if you alter that value of proton mass a bit, hydrogen would not fuse into deuterium and conventional stars would be impossible as well as life as we know it.

            I don’t understand why physicists use different units of values, the google use kilogram, some will give Gev/c^2, Mev/c^2 , gram or u.. there is something weird about that 😀

          • I think it is more about Genesis, then abiogenesis at this point. The fact that large angular scale structures in the CMB effectively point back at us is quite telling. Most scientists will just brush it off (even though it largely invalidates huge swaths of their current models), but those who can see will not.

          • Right, Darwin says we were an accident. Genesis says we were created. Darwin’s basic premise was used as the foundation of modern big bang cosmology (we are insignificant), and all observations are forced to be interpreted through that premise. But the universe at its largest scale implies we are not insignificant; thus more Genesis than abio-genesis. A play on words, but a serious idea, too.

          • I’m looking forward what JWST can tell about the universal fine structure and the origin of life, I wish JWST lift off as scheduled without problems.

            I’ll bet a bucketful of Saudi Riyal for a handful of dollar, that the cmb map anomaly was due to measurement goofs than odin in valhalla coochy cooing his baby.

          • Anyways, how do we know if the universe as we know it is not just a computer simulation? A science project abandoned in the attic because the alien student who submitted it was so frustrated because he was graded F for it… It seems a QCD simulation expert in university of bonn germany knows what to look for… interesting.

        • Thanks Oaktree, I follow your line of thought but let’s suppose that our universe is connected to another dimension which is a dimension of infinity itself_ your null set. The universe would be like a baby connected via umbilical cord to it’s mother.

          In this scenario, universe did have a beginning, but not in a violent ‘bang’, and will not have an end but will continue to expand, forever. It will never exhaust its source; a) because of the scale difference between the two dimensions, b) it takes very little of this ‘stuff’ (energy – cosmological constant) to prevent the collapse of the universe. So it means it would not oscillate but have a slow rate of growth. The receding galaxies phenomena would be due to the shape of this universe rather than due to inflation. I imagine it to be in a shape of a donut and the motion well, how can I illustrate this? Try to imagine sending a ball down a huge tyre on an angle. Crazy idea? May be.

  50. Maybe there was no big bang. Maybe inflation is just the second to final desperate move to shore up the big bang theory. Maybe the demise of the Copernican principle with independent (of WMAP/COBE) confirmation of the “axis of evil” and correlation to the ecliptic and equinoxes by Planck means we start where we were 500 years ago (abeit with much more knowledge and capibility). Hopefully Planck is the last desperate attempt, and the next move is to a new model.

    • Yes, though we feel we’re nearly there in figuring it all out, the truth is, new discoveries will force us to reconsider some theories, adjust them or, completely replace them with the better ones. We think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it could be just a light from a Joe-bloke’s safety hat that we are seeing and not the real daylight.

    • John, I think you make an extremely good point. I think a lot of the scientists must really be scrambling now to see how they can somehow keep the Copernican Principle going even in light of the incredible confirmation of the “axis of evil.” The existence of this axis throws an incredible wrench into their hopes to sustain the cosmological status quo. I’ve heard that there is a really major science documentary coming out which discusses the latest findings including that of Planck and that it present a very serious challenge to the Copernican Principle whose demise appears clearly in sight. The site for the movie is http://www.theprinciplemovie.com.

  51. I mentioned Georg Cantor in the context of describing “different types or orders of infinite numbers”, and not in relation to just infinity as a single number: those different orders of numbers larger than all finite numbers that I have mentioned are transfinite numbers.

  52. Science uses the unit of measurement that makes the most sense within a certain scope of knowledge.

    You could use Unified Atomic Mass units, or Daltons, as a proper unit to describe mass of an atom, or mass of a nucleon, depending on the context, and within that context it would be OK, and it would not be the same numerical value than expressing it in terms of energy, or in Kg or pounds.

    Again, you can use the unit of measurement that is most convenient within a given scope or context.

    For instance, as units of barometric pressure we could use lbs/squared inch, Kilopascals, or the equivalent millimeters of the height of a column of Hg (mercury), that is in equilibrium with the given barometric pressure, this last unit would make sense if we are using a barometer based on a column of mercury: it would have a pipe of glass on top of a small dish or fountain of glass, with the pipe and the dish filled with mercury.

    The pipe of glass would have evenly separated marks to measure the height of the column of mercury that is within the pipe.

    So, it is customary in science and technology to use different types of measurements for a given physical magnitude, depending on the context.

  53. It is quite interesting to note how there appears to be a real bias by the admin folks at Wikipedia concerning the article Copernican Principle. It seems that a lot is being done to exclude scientific observations such as those of Planck which will in any way bring into serious question the sustained credibility of the Copernican Principle. No doubt the demise of the Copernican Principle would knock over a tremendous amount of scientific apple carts. The world of science would have to admit with much chagrin no doubt that they had it wrong for some 500 or so years! And if they had it wrong on something so basic as the Copernican Principle one can only imagine all the other stuff they may have got wrong! Looks like the high priests of science might not be so high and mighty after all.

  54. Let’s be serious about the way we consider the evidence.

    There are to different experiments, WMAP and Planck, that indicate there is something weird with the “axis of evil” data.

    So far, it seems that Planck’s data has around a 3 sigma range. We know that this is not multiple of standard deviations that is large enough to be seriously considered as a definitive conclusion (yet).

    There seems to be something that might require additional consideration, maybe a very thorough review and detailed analysis of the data and of the process of data gathering, even maybe the design of a new experiment that could validate or refute what there is of merit in this weird data (if there is any merit at all).

    Regarding this issue, I lean towards Larry Krauss’s opinion, as it is the work of the experimental and theoretical physicists, the astrophysicists, the cosmologists, all together, doing more of what they do best: science.

    Kind regards, GEN

    • GEN:

      I have to respectfully disagree with your point. It is 3 sigma TO THE PREDICTIONS OF THE STANDARD MODEL.

      Did God ordain the standard model as The Standard TM)? The signal is there. PERIOD. Now we have to deal with it. I really do not care how it compares to the standard model. There is something happening in the heavens- and it implies that we are in a special place, regardless.

      That the standard model may still have some chance of survival is remotely possible, but it will end up looking nothing like it does now by the time they add additional fudge factors to shoehorn it in.

  55. We don’t have a good interpretation of this evidence. We have to be very serious in the way we treat this evidence.

    This is not a binomial process, that if this evidence implies that there seems to be something special about where we stand in the universe as priviledged witnesses of this evidence (so far there is no validated evidence that would suggest that such an interpretation is the correct one, yet), it automatically would mean that the Copernican Principle is wrong.

    This kind of bogus argument is similar to the argument presented by Intelligent Design advocates that say that if there is some bit of evidence that Natural Selection can’t completely explain, that is automatically a disproof of Evolution and, so, it is a proof of Intelligent Design.

    Here we have some evidence that needs to be more thoroughly explored. It may need more experiments to be designed and conducted.

    It may imply that some theories will need some ajustments to better explain all pertinent evidence.

    In a way, this evidence brings to the forefront questions similar to the questions raised by the fact that certain universal constants have such a specific value and how does it all relate to the anthropic principle: is this evidence that the anthropic principle is correct?

    It is clear that so far, we can’t answer these questions towards either side.

    The multiverse (as an possible rebuttal of the anthropic principle) so far is an idea that is being pursued with certain experiments, some of the even related to Planck and the CMB radiation readings.

    Sean Carroll and Jeniffer Chen have written a paper some years back that present an interesting theory regarding the multiverse and the arrow of time.

    There are many different ideas that could explain this weird evidence without the need to break the framework, the scaffolding that holds science, even though it may have some theories adjusted, or corrected, or even discarded.

    Kind regards, GEN

    • The CMB is not the only evidence of the axis of evil. Galaxy rotation curves are another independent example. Also, the quantization of various bodies (i.e., galaxies, quasars, etc.), though perhaps more controversial, also point to this issue (anti-Copernican).

      The multiverse is just the next method to maintain the Copernican principle in light of these issues, plus the superluminal supernovae observations. Unfortunately, chaotic inflation is in trouble due to the CMB observations, and along with that the multiverse (which depends on chaotic inflation) is in trouble.

  56. There some modified gravity theories, like Mordechai Milgrom’s MOND theory, that can explain galaxy rotations “weird” behaviour without the need to discard the Copernican Principle.

    Science is not about cherrypicking evidence that works best to support a given idea purported to be a theory, neither is about cherrypicking certain theories to support a world view, a cosmo vision.

    In some ways, the Standard Model is something of a “scaffolding” theory, in the sense that we already know that it can’t be a complete theory, but it is the best that we know now.

    It works a a platform, a scaffold, that holds science together for the time being and allows us to reach higher for a more complete theory while we study nature, from the perspective of the Standard Model, to design experiments that may eventually deliver us the evidence that we need to build a better theory.

    Even though is a much better theory that Bohr’s theory of the Hydrogen Atom, these two theories are “scaffolding” theories: it was Bohr’s theory that paved the way to Heisenberg, Born and Jordan’s Matrix Quantum Mechanics on one side, and Schrodinger’s “Wellenfunktion” theory on the other. Then, Schrodinger demonstrated that both theories were equivalent and they became integrated into a single theory called QM.

    Then Dirac enhanced QM with special relativity and found a much better version of QM, were the intrinsic spin of fermions was a natural consequence of relativity instead of being “forced” into the theory like it was originally done by Pauli’s stroke of genius.

    Eventually, QED appeared and is now the standard view on how matter and the electromagnetic force interact.

    From Maxwell’s equations all the way down to QED, science had to go through a set of increasingly better interim theories, “scaffolding” theories.

    In fact, even though Maxwell’s equations are a beautiful mathematical poem, Maxwell’s original form for his equations was not “perfect”, as science still did not fully develop vector analysis at that time.

    It would require a few more years, and the work of Heaviside, Gibbs and Hamilton (we now use Heaviside’s perspective and notation), just to name three major pioneers and innovators of vector analysis (Hamilton’s Quaternions and its spaces of hybrid dimensions have become a disfavored idea for vector analysis, even though it is used in certain contexts where it is useful, like computer graphics, computer vision & robotics)

    Maxwell’s equations opened the door to both GR and QM, the main two perspectives that we have of physics.

    Kind regards, GEN

    • In principle (no pun intended) your explanation sounds fine. On the other hand, science writers and famous scientists are teaching the adoring public that this is practically absolute truth, and the public does not understand these things (nor perhaps wants to in many cases).

      What seems clear is that rather than face the demise of the Copernican Principle over the centuries, science instead chose to make science more and more complicated rather then even consider the distinct possibility that the Copernican Principle is invalid. (see for instance http://www.geocentrism.com/progrel.htm ). Mainstream science has consistently rejected that possibility in favor of its preference time and time again. There are two possibilities:

      1. We are special;
      2. We are not special;

      (If you want to play existentialist, I guess you can question the question, much like Clinton’s what is “is”; If you want to play epidemiologist, I would say 1 has won!).

      Mainstream science has fought, complicated science to extremes, swept under the rug, etc. to not have to consider half the possibilities (we are special) in favor of their preference (we are not special). This is not good science, this is bad philosophy.

      The time is come where choice number 1 (we are special) may get its due consideration IF SCIENCE IS NOT PERMITTED TO SWEEP THE CURRENT DATA UNDER THE RUG, like they did with galaxy rotation curves for decades (then invented dark matter).

      There are enough honest and open minded scientists out there that choice 1 may get a chance- Max Tegmark; Copi, Huterer, Schwartz, Starkman; Longo; Ellis, to name a few. The data is there. It is already clear from the [Wikipedia: Copernican Principle] article skirmish that various forces are out to cover it up. It seems clear even within the Planck release data (read abstract from paper I, then from paper XXIII).

  57. Gaston :
    Your understanding of intelligent design is totally corrupted and false , …..
    The fundamental concept of ID. is the following :
    When all natural / materialistic / physical mechanisms fail as a matter of principle in generating —- not explaining —- some physical phenomena , then the later MUST depend for its generation upon extra-physical mechanism.
    For ex. there is NO physical mechanism that is able in principle to have as input particles /fields / molecules ….etc and generate as output the configuration of the atlas/axis bones for example , or your feeling of desire to defend your point of view….
    Physics has NO point of views or configurations….
    All your supreme knowledge of materials does not include the configuration of an iron key ….
    See what i mean ? ID is NOT about ignorance , it is about supreme knowledge that fails to explain a generating mechanism.
    Learn , Gaston , learn.

  58. If a cosmological model doesn’t agree with observable phenomena, it’s wrong.. plain and simple… and it’s good and useful if it could be use in a predictive manner.

    I saw order and structure in nature which einstein said god of spinoza did it, and I want to know how it was started in terms of science, not only by metaphysics. I resented when somebody tried to flush down abiogenesis down the relevance toilet, and it’s good that science pick it up again.

    • It’s nice that some cosmologists calculate how our star constellations will look like in a certain period of time, that is useful if the human race will initiate diaspora within the next billion years, we don’t want them to bump into something when they engage their warp drives 😀

    • If you can except that some intelligent being made this universe as a project with a specific purpose in mind then you also must realize that such an individual is the master of every science and a top mathematician. But how he put this universe together he may not reveal to us at this time for couple of reasons that I don’t feel is appropriate to mention on this site. However, he approves of our desire to learn and our curiosity. After all, he made us with these attributes.

      • Yes, a science project abandoned in the attic because the alien student who submitted it was so disappointed he got an F for it. Maybe it’s a research about disintegration, much like what physicists do at CERN disintegrating protons to find the higgs boson in the extremely high temperature and pressure. CERN’s is messy but his’ is ibeautiful, as beautiful as the disintegration of sunlight into rainbow of colors.

        • No, you’re wrong. We are not ‘the science project abandoned in the attic..by an alien student who failed the assignment.’ The mess, uncertainty and such come from ‘free will’ given us and how we misused it to our demise. CERN is like a toddler smashing his toys to see how they work. Good luck.

        • I was trying to get the attention of my aloof creator that’s why I wrote that, I also said it’s ibeautiful like the disintegration of sunlight into rainbow of colors. What do you do when your parents are aloof?

          Einstein, Spinosa, Voltaire, and probably Lemaitre too had reached that PhD level of religion, they saw the order and structure of our universe and felt there is something divine. Even Sean Carroll the scientist that lacks finesse in discussing the inferred divine was arrested by the fine structure of our universe.

          They said particles have free will too because of its wavefunction, I conjectured that’s not so.. they simply suck in the measurements. If you are transparent and swimming in your pool flapping your arms and legs making waves, I could add up you amplitude to get your wavefunction and then I can hit your head. If I hit your head you get stunned and stop making waves! you’re a particle not a wave! voila! the mystery of wave-particle duality unravel before your eyes.

          Okay, those were just conjectures.. but still “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” I didn’t say that, Feynman did! 😀

          • OK, I see the humor coming out of you, but IMO ‘Einstein, Spinoza, Voltaire, and probably Lemaitre’ didn’t get it when it comes to understanding of ‘divine’, though these people had a healthy respect for God and a measure of faith, which is more than can be said of most scientists today. I believe that such a scientist can perceive the scientific truths about the universe easier than the one which omits intelligent designer.

            If you run your kitchen faucet on a very low and put your finger across the stream, you might notice the stream breaking into droplets of various sizes. That’s how I imagine the double-slit experiment to work. If unobserved/ undisturbed, the particle travels as a wave, when observed/disturbed, (by an apparatus, not a person) as a particle. Obviously, detector can not record a wave function either due to it technical limitations or, because the recording process somehow prevents the particle from its normal behavior. There is no free will involved here, just clear ‘off’ and ‘on’ switch. Same with the ‘spooky action at a distance’. Nothing spooky about it at all, but lack of understanding of a most fundamental mechanism in fermions; it can switch its polarity under special circumstances. Free will is a gift given to all INTELLIGENT beings. Particles are as intelligent as we make them to be. Blood corpuscle knows what to do in every situation it has to deal with before it dies, but this is due to DNA instructions found in a nucleus of every cell of our body. It points to intelligent
            designer rather than a ‘free will’. Agree?

          • Yes, the intelligent designer made biological machines and left them on auto-guidance system, and some nerdy engineers at JCVI are starting to learn its mechanism, perhaps they will meet the divine at the bottom of it.

            There are some physicists who are making progress getting around the common interpretation of the uncertainty principle. Some in university of toronto in canada and some in vienna university of technology in austria.

            To be or not to be, that is the question. We’re like hamlet with regards to free will. Yes we have choices, but which exactly is making the choice? Psychology tells that we are like proton with 3 quarks… the Parent within us which is the taught concept of life-we were programmed by our superiors when we were kids… the Adult within us which is the thought concept of life-the critical thinker… and the Child within us which is the emotional concept of life. If you believe in psychology which is not yet a science, which one is making the choices for you?

          • Psychology is not a science though the discipline is adhering to scientific methodology. It fails on consistency of results on repeatable experiments, it won’t have a sigma rating. You can make up all of the theories you want, but if you can’t test them, and then have other people repeat those tests and get the same results, it’s not science. Solomon proposal to cut the baby in halves is psychology, are you certain at this state of the world no real mother will agree to halved her baby? Likewise, are you certain that a guy with a whipcord could enter a place of worship and topple the tables of the entrepreneurs with impunity? I think he will be slaughtered on the spot at this present state of the world.

            Chemistry is a science, it’s consistent. Two moles of hydrogen mixed with one mole of oxygen in a steel chamber, ignite it with electric spark will give two moles of water vapor and heat anywhere in the universe. That is science.

          • The singularity of the big bang at 10^-43 second is speculative, but after about 10^−11 second, the picture becomes less speculative, since particle energies drop to values that can be attained in particle physics experiments.

          • Now I’m not sure if you know the guy with the whipcord or Solomon in my psychology example, anyways it’s on the wikipedia articles titled ‘cleansing of the temple’ and ‘Judgement of Solomon’… just in case you don’t know.

        • Because this blog is discussion about science? Georges Lemaitre is the first to propose what later became the big bang theory, he was a priest and as priest as he was, he resented mixing science with the unknown and unknowable, and I agree with him.

          The in god we trust in the dollar bill is not knowing.. it’s faith, faith bridge the gap between evidence and the entire lack of it. But faith is not for everyone, my inference is that some didn’t evolved enough serotonin receptors hence lacking some parameters in their brain and hence incapable of experiencing faith. Another inference is all were born with equal serotonin receptors but theirs atrophied due to lack of usage, maybe they grew up without given any toys by their parents and relatives.. never found an eastern egg in their life.. or always got coal from santa.. that sort of things. Respect the analogs let’s discuss just science. Analog is not pejorative, analog computers sent the first man on the moon! 😀

          • I see. so:

            JohnQPublic: Hey look, the Planck satellite data (and WMAP) indicate that the universe is pointing directly at us. Hey, look, galaxy rotation curves are aligned to the same axis (of evil). Hmmm… Maybe we need to reconsider the Coperncian Principle.

            ScienceGuy: Ah, no, we cannot do that because that may imply that there is a God, and since our religion, umm.., I mean we are scientists, we cannot consider that possibility.

            JohnQPublic: But, the evidence is real, it is no longer deniable.

            ScienceGuy: Nope. Since it conflicts with our opinion, we will just not consider it. Carry on.

          • I’m uncertain of your position, I wish you collapse your wavefunction. It seems you didn’t heard the good news that the vatican had recently lifted the excommunication of the ancient advocates of heliocentric system. Newton too for his gravity that keeps the earth on orbit and not some angels beating their wings.

          • Curiosity is one of the attributes of a true scientist, I assumed you googled and saw Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton? previously disliked but now liked by the vatican… John Lennon too is cool though unofficially, the kid was just bragging that’s all, said the vatican gazette.

            Btw, our solar system is flat like a pancake, the sun is rotating counter-clockwise if viewed at the top or at its north pole and all the planets are revolving around it counter-clockwise. The cmb map is a mollweide projection, it is as I learned in this blog is supposed to be wrapped into a sphere and planck the satellite plotted the cmb map from within that sphere. Planck the satellite plotted the map while revolving around the sun with the earth, systematically looking everywhere.. ‘above’ the sun and ‘under’ it, and all around except in the direction of the sun.. because the earth venus mercury and the sun was blotted out and disregarded. That’s how it goes inside my head while looking at the cmb map, that’s why I don’t understand your ‘the universe is pointing at us’. I don’t even see earth in the process of map plotting as well as venus mercury and the sun.

          • Isn’t it fascinating that Max Planck can still communicate with us about confirmation bias among other things? It transcends time and space and we couldn’t simply say chillax Planck you’re already dead!

            Btw, I found the old Krauss quote which I disliked for being goofy… *””In 5 billion years, the expansion of the universe will have progressed to the point where all other galaxies will have receded beyond detection. Indeed, they will be receding faster than the speed of light, so detection will be impossible. Future civilizations will discover science and all its laws, and never know about other galaxies or the cosmic background radiation. They will inevitably come to the wrong conclusion about the universe……We live in a special time, the only time, where we can observationally verify that we live in a special time.””*

            Our sun will be a super red giant about a billion years from now, mercury and venus will be vaporised and earth is habitable only to those who evolved to adapt in fiery environment with E=mc^2 stomach hence no need for much sustenance… perhaps Krauss was thinking about that? or something else such as diaspora of the human race? he don’t believe in Intelligent Design.. anyways, a director in vatican dislike Intelligent Design too, he don’t like their god being reduced to a nerdy engineer.

          • Romulo, psychology is a science of human behavior, not that I agree with much of it. There are opinions as to why humans make certain decisions. Those that backfire might stem from faulty perceptions or, neglected emotional needs that go back to one’s childhood, and some from prejudices created by negative experiences because someone else made a bad decision. No, we do have a free will. How we use it is another matter, and the environment also plays a role in how we develop as individuals. There are also people who never mature intellectually or, emotionally because they may suffer from some form of Autism or may be due to poverty, which gave them no opportunity to properly develop through education. There is also a hereditary factor somewhere in it. But I do understand what you are saying. Are we really choosing for ourselves or, are others making decisions for us. This especially applies to political decisions made for us, matter of education and job vacancies.

        • Take the CMB dmap. Now seconvolve the isotropies over different multipoles using spherical harmonics (i.e., deconvolve it on angular scale). Basically find its components in angular space. There really should be no patterns. The noise is supposed to be random (gaussian) and have no direction, Different angular scales should not correlate, ESPECIALLY at the largest angular scales. Oops.

          1. The dipole is split in to hot and cold spots by the ecliptic. This is usually dismissed by saying it is the solar systems motion through space; though some scientists say this effect should not be seen.

          Not having an accepted explanation include

          The quadrapole and octupole are correlated. There planes form an axis (a preferred direction in space) that goes right through us (the infamous “axis of evil”). The quadrupole and octupole are aligned with our ecliptic and equinoxes.

          You are right. Planck purposely missed us, and is looking at the farthest reaches of space YET appears to know about us. Lawrence Krauss commented in 2005:

          ” Is this Copernicus coming back to haunt us? That’s crazy. We’re looking out at the whole universe. There’s no way there should be a correlation of structure with our motion of the earth around the sun — the plane of the earth around the sun — the ecliptic. That would say we are truly the center of the universe.”

          • Lawrence Krauss too took the cmb map hook line and sinker as accurate despite being a skeptic himself? Thanks for the info. I disliked a quote from him last year for being goofy. Btw, he was the first to propose the dark energy.. a fudge factor? and he is author of an article titled god and science don’t mix. Wavefunction is commonly represented by greek letter Y, spelled ‘psi’ and pronounced like ‘sigh’ and for good reason.

          • I use that quote to indicate how seriously some scientists take the CMB features (they are no longer considered “anomalies” in my opinion). Lawrence Krauss said that after the WMAP results, and I imagine he felt or at least hoped that Planck would eliminate the features, but alas, ’tis not to be so.

        • As a believer in God, I usually end up discussing topics of faith with the commentators on almost every blog I visit. So, I’ve learned trough experience where to keep my mouth shut. That’s, I don’t wish to upset Matt in case he prefers the site to be more scientific than religious.

  59. Max Planck: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
    “Science advances one funeral at a time.”

  60. Science advances through theories and experiments, but Planck was right about how the natural renewal of scientists over the generations allows for new theories to become mainstream.

    During most of the first two decades of the XXth century, Einstein was a innovator, a revolutionary.

    By 1917, he started to realize about the uncertainty, the stochastic behaviour of quantum particles and how, if that behaviour that appeared in the formulas was correct, that would mean a fatal blow to the principle of strict causality. He started to firmly oppose against this idea in quantum physics. So, he became a conservative in QM, a strong advocate against the uncertainty principle and its derivations.

    For the next 18 years, he had an amicable “fight” with Bohr over all sorts of consequenc