- You'd never know it from official news releases, but
the Big Bang is broken and can't be fixed.
- A concession speech may be unlikely in 2005, but the
progressive decline of one of the twentieth century's most popular theories
now seems inescapable. The Big Bang has lost its theoretical foundation,
which was the Doppler interpretation of redshift (linking redshift to the
stretching of light wavelengths as objects move away from us). It is now
known that, while almost all observed galaxies are redshifted, the Doppler
interpretation of this shift does not provide a reliable measure of velocity
or (indirectly) of distance. Quasars and galaxies of different redshift
stand in physical proximity to each other and are observed to be connected
by filaments of matter. Quasars, whose high redshift would place them at
the outer edges of the visible universe, are in fact physically and energetically
linked to nearby low-redshift active galaxies.
- The Big Bang was dismantled by direct observation-including
a highly redshifted quasar in front of a nearby galaxy!
- In the rise and fall of the Big Bang hypothesis no name
looms with greater distinction than that of Halton Arp, the leading authority
on peculiar galaxies. Over decades, Arp amassed meticulous observations
challenging the standard use of redshift to prove an expanding universe.
But astronomers ignored or dismissed Arp's work, insisting that his conclusions
were either erroneous or impossible. Arp lost his teaching position. Then
he lost his telescope time and had to move to Germany to carry on his work
at the Max Planck Institute.
- For established science the greatest embarrassment could
come from public realization that, for decades, astronomers suppressed
the warning signs. The critical challenge was raised years ago, as early
as the 1960's, when Arp began publishing his findings. To his credit, Cornell
astronomer Carl Sagan acknowledged the problem when he was writing Cosmos
(published in 1980). But in the following years the politically influential
looked the other way, and the word quietly went out to science editors
at major newspaper and news magazines that Arp had been fully answered
and no more time was needed on the question.
- Here is an interesting historical fact. For many years
it has been known that the map of the universe acquires a bizarre appearance
when you let redshift determine distances. Suddenly galactic clusters stretch
out in radial lines absurdly pointing at the earth. The effect is called
"the fingers of God," and the earth-directed "fingers"
span billions of light-years.
- While big bang theorists have cobbled together "explanations"
for small-scale examples of the effect, the picture as a whole can only
be illusory. The galaxies are not, in fact, stretched out on radial lines
from the earth in the way suggested by the "map", but the invalid
Doppler interpretation of redshift does create that ludicrous picture.
Rationalizations of this effect have been a disservice to science. Theorists
should have stopped to notice the obvious.
- The failure of the Big Bang hypothesis could be the tipping
point in the collapse of modern cosmology, with reverberations affecting
all of the theoretical sciences. No domain of scientific inquiry stands
in isolation. It is now known that intense electric discharge (such as
coronal mass ejections from the Sun) can generate a redshift having no
connection to relative velocities. But cosmologists developed their ideas
about redshift and the Big Bang under the assumption of an electrically
inert universe. Their theoretical starting point invariably shaped their
thinking about the birth of galaxies. And these ideas, in turn, conditioned
scientific reasoning as to how a galaxy's constituent stars came into existence.
Concepts of star formation further constrained scientific reasoning about
planetary origins and the evolution of life. From the core of intertwined
assumptions, the chains of logic reached out to inspire-but also to shackle-human
- In this environment, cosmologists and astronomers were
free to present the expanding universe and the orthodox age and size of
the universe as facts. Alongside these "facts" have come a host
of mathematical fictions: from dark matter and dark energy to the ever
popular "black hole". Though much of today's exercises in esoteric
mathematics came after publication of Sagan's Cosmos, America's favorite
astronomer in the 1980's had registered a timely warning: "If Arp
is right, the exotic mechanisms proposed to explain the energy source of
the distant quasars--supernova chain reactions, super-massive black holes
and the like--would be unnecessary. Quasars need not then be very distant".
- Over the past quarter century the pure mathematicians,
with little or no interest in experimental science and only a passing regard
for direct observation, have indulged in a carnival of speculation. But
it is mind altering to realize that almost nothing revealed by our more
powerful telescopes was anticipated by these theorists. We now observe
a superabundance of fine filaments across vast reaches of space. In the
electrically neutral cosmos claimed by gravity-based cosmology, these filaments
find no credible cause. But in plasma experiments with electric discharge,
they are predictable.
- Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén, the father of plasma
physics, showed that cosmologists are mistaken when they imagine that magnetic
fields can be "frozen in" to a plasma. Electric currents are
required to sustain cosmic magnetic fields. And now, everywhere we look
we see magnetic fields at work: electricity is flowing across immense distances
in space. At both the stellar and galactic scales, these currents interact
with the magnetic fields they induce to create complex structure-strings
of galaxies, galactic and stellar jets, and beautiful bipolar stellar nebulas-all
with features never envisioned by gravitational theorists, yet corresponding
in stunning detail to plasma discharge formations in the laboratory.
- Will the year 2005 see a new beginning for cosmology?
When you consider the sheer momentum of earlier theory, together with the
potential costs in terms of reputations, public funding, and threatened
jobs, it would be foolish to expect the "tipping point" to mean
a wholesale abandonment of the Big Bang in one year. Discredited theories
rarely meet either an instantaneous or a quiet death. But we can confidently
predict a year of rapidly growing controversy, on an issue whose final
outcome is indeed certain.