baudrunner's space: Dark energy = dark understanding
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dark energy = dark understanding

Quite often we encounter the declaration by some distinguished space scientist that an upcoming space mission will have the potential to "fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe." NASA's Beyond Einstein program is the latest to earn this accolade by Charles F. Kennel, distinguished professor and director of the Environment and Sustainability Initiative at the University of California, San Diego and co-chair of a committee on the National Research Council reporting on the NASA program. He states, "All of the mission areas in the Beyond Einstein program have the potential to fundamentally alter our understanding of the universe". The study was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA and The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. There are five Beyond Einstein missions currently in the planning stage with the potential for any of these to evolve into more elaborate missions in their own right. As at this time, the Joint Dark Energy Mission is gathering the most momentum in moving toward the development phase because the underlying technologies are already in place. Dark Energy has been labelled the culprit in the accelerating expansion of the Universe. This expansion is assumed to be accelerating because the light from distant sources is red-shifted, or stretched, into the infra-red region of the optical spectrum and the cause of this red-shift has not yet been established with definite certainty, hence "Dark Energy".

I have a different idea on the nature of the red-shift. Red-shift analysis leading to Dark Energy interpretation is based on the presumption that there are no losses incurred in the transmission of electromagnetic waves, and that their propagation occurs consistently at a velocity that has been coined the 'speed of light'. However, scientists have understood for a long time that there is a "property of systems" called "Hysteresis", which can best be described as a form of delay, or lag, in the response to a stimulus of the system. Understand it as the result of a form of time-induced friction. By the logic of application to the transmission of light from distant sources, there is therefore a reduction in energy of the EM wave over time which translates into reduced frequency and wavelength. Our observation of the physical evidence of this can lead to exotic misinterpretations of the facts. What has been termed Dark Energy may be no more than hysteresis. What complicates the issue is the attribution to Dark Energy of the effects of gravity fields around very dense galactic clusters obscured by the massive dust clouds created by colliding stars and galaxies. These have recently been identified. I have already pointed out in my post Paradigm and stubborn will that our observation of the expansion of the Universe can lead to misinterpretation, and that the expansion is not accelerating at all but actually constant as can be illustrated with the rubber band demonstration described in that post. I am of the opinion that when the jury is finally in on what is going on out there we will accept that what we observe is the same illusion of acceleration coupled with the effects of hysteresis and that there is no such thing as Dark Energy. I predict that nothing new will be revealed by the Joint Dark Energy mission unless it is that we allow ourselves to accept this subtle change in the way in which we interpret our reality.

I am tempted to submit a request for proposal to NASA for a mission that will eclipse in importance and its contributions to our knowledge that of all of the space missions ever put together by all the nations of this earth over our entire history of space exploration. The total cost would not exceed $100 billion. What I propose is to construct a Very Large Array of 27 James Webb Space Telescopes optimally positioned for maximum field of view so that we can get a truly close look at our more immediate neighbours. It seems like a much more practical project. The total cost would still be much less than the entire America in Iraq mission by a factor of six.

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