Trends in Cosmology: Beyond the Big Bang
1. A modern creation myth
2. Spatial contortions
3. Redshift controversies
4. Inflation, dark matter, dark energy
5. Microwave background radiation
6. Light element abundances
7. Large-scale structure
8. Alternative cosmologies
9. The plasma universe
10. Theosophical cosmology
1. A modern creation myth
Most cosmologists today believe that the universe we inhabit exploded into being some 14 billion years ago in a titanic fireball called the big bang. The modern big bang theory does not state that a concentrated lump of matter located at a particular point in space suddenly exploded, sending fragments rushing away at high speed, but that space itself came into being at the moment of the big bang. The birth of the universe is said to have happened in the following manner. In the beginning, a tiny bubble of spacetime, a billion-trillion-trillionth of a centimetre across (10-33 cm), popped spontaneously into existence out of nothing as the result of a random ‘quantum fluctuation’. Due to a ‘phase transition’, it was suddenly seized by an intense antigravitational force which caused it to expand trillions of time faster than the speed of light for a few billion-trillion-trillionths of a second. The antigravitational force then disappeared, and the inflationary phase of accelerating expansion came to an abrupt halt amid an enormous burst of radiation. The heat energy and gravitational energy of expanding space then produced matter and, as the universe cooled, more and more structure began to ‘freeze out’ – first nuclei, then atoms, and finally stars, galaxies, and planets.1
Paul Davies and John Gribbin write: ‘the big bang was the abrupt creation of the Universe from literally nothing: no space, no time, no matter. This is a quite extraordinary conclusion to arrive at – a picture of the entire physical Universe simply popping into existence from nothing.’2 This theory is not just ‘extraordinary’ – it is utterly absurd! If there was no space, no matter, and no energy before the hypothetical big bang, then there was obviously nothing to undergo a random fluctuation and nowhere for it to occur. Moreover, expanding space requires the continuous creation of space (i.e. energy) out of nothing.
Nothing comes from nothing – except in the big bang theory
(and orthodox theology), where everything comes from nothing.
To avoid the illogical idea that the universe emerged from an infinitesimal point, or ‘singularity’, of infinite density and temperature, some theoreticians invented the equally fanciful notion of a ‘smeared-out singularity’. Prior to one ten-million-trillion-trillion-trillionth of a second (10-43 sec) after the big bang, when the universe measured 10-33 cm across and had a temperature of 100 million trillion trillion kelvins (1032 K), the distinction between space and time allegedly becomes blurred as a result of quantum fluctuations, so that an infinitesimal point can never form and the origin of the universe cannot be said to occur at a precise moment but is ‘smeared out’.3
Some of the latest theoretical ‘advances’ regarding the origin of the cosmos are based on brane theory (or M-theory), which postulates a universe of 11 dimensions, containing zero-dimensional point particles, one-dimensional strings, two-dimensional membranes, three-dimensional ‘blobs’, and higher-dimensional objects, up to and including nine dimensions. Mistaking these mathematical abstractions for realities, some theorists have proposed a cyclic model in which our universe consists of two branes separated by a microscopic gap in an extra dimension, and the big bang results from the (periodic) collision of the two branes.4
The big bang theory – also known as the lambda-cold dark matter model, or the concordance model – is based on three main pieces of observational evidence. Firstly, in the early decades of the 20th century it was discovered that the light from distant galaxies is ‘redshifted’, i.e. the spectral lines indicating their constituent elements are displaced towards the red or long-wavelength end of the spectrum when compared with spectra for the same elements on earth. One possible explanation is that the galaxies are rushing apart at great speed because the universe is expanding; from this it was inferred that the universe originated in a huge explosion. Secondly, the universe is filled with a uniform microwave radiation, which is claimed to be the faint echo of the big bang. Thirdly, the big bang theory is believed to explain the relative abundances of hydrogen, helium, and other light elements in the universe. Commenting on the evidence for the big bang, an editorial in the New Scientist stated: ‘Never has such a mighty edifice been built on such insubstantial foundations.’5
Over the years, various auxiliary hypotheses have been added to the big bang theory to bring it into line with new observations. Inflation theory, and the invention of exotic ‘dark matter’ and mysterious ‘dark energy’ (which are said to make up over 95% of the universe) are the most flagrant examples. Michael Disney has shown that the number of ‘free parameters’ (i.e. fudge factors) exceeds the number of independent measurements supporting the big bang theory, and there is no sign of any systematic improvement over time. He concludes that the big bang has all the hallmarks of ‘a folktale constantly re-edited to fit inconvenient new observations’.6
- Paul Davies & John Gribbin, The Matter Myth, Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1992, pp. 162-73; Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, hidden dimensions, and the quest for the ultimate theory, Vintage, 2000, pp. 346-70; Big Bang, en.wikipedia.org; B. Feuerbacher & R. Scranton, Evidence for the big bang, 2006, talkorigins.org.
- The Matter Myth, p. 122.
- Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Baby Universes and other essays, Bantam Books, 1994, pp. 83-90; The Matter Myth, p. 140.
- P.J. Steinhardt & N. Turok, ‘The cyclic model simplified’, 2004, arxiv.org. See also Big bang, blacks holes, and common sense and The farce of modern physics, section 4, davidpratt.info.
- New Scientist, 21/28 Dec 1991, p. 3.
- Michael J. Disney, ‘Modern cosmology: science or folktale?’, American Scientist, Sep-Oct 2007, americanscientist.org.
2. Spatial contortions
Big bangers theorize that space may be ‘positively’ curved, ‘negatively’ curved, or uncurved (i.e. flat and Euclidian) depending on how much matter and energy the universe contains. If the matter-energy density of the universe is high enough (i.e. if the density parameter Ω0 is greater than 1), space will be positively curved; in fact, it will supposedly curve round upon itself so that the universe is ‘closed’ and finite but has no boundaries or edges. If you were to travel far enough in one direction you would eventually return to where you started.
If the matter-energy density is below the critical value, space is supposedly negatively curved and the universe is said to be ‘open’, whereas if the density is exactly equal to the critical value, space is said to be flat. In both these scenarios, although space popped into being a finite period ago and expands at a finite pace, it somehow became infinite – and yet even though it is infinite it still manages to keep on expanding! We are told that a closed universe will eventually stop expanding and start to contract, culminating in a ‘big crunch’; this will result either in the universe completely annihilating itself, or in another big bang. If, however, the universe is open or flat, it will allegedly expand forever; eventually stars will burn out, matter will become utterly cold, all forces will fade out, and the universe will suffer a ‘heat death’ or ‘big freeze’.
Albert Einstein popularized the notion of curved space with his general relativity theory (1916): celestial objects allegedly warp the space (or more precisely, ‘spacetime’) around them, producing the force of gravity. However, spacetime is simply a mathematical abstraction in which time is treated as a negative length. And while lines, paths, and surfaces in space can be curved, no concrete evidence for the slightest curvature of space itself has ever been found; nor is there any reason to think that three-dimensional space can be curved – unless we conjure up a fourth dimension of space for it to be curved in.1 In Einstein’s theory all mass is supposed to produce positive spatial curvature; he did not take the idea of negatively curved space seriously, as it would have to be produced by some kind of ‘negative’ mass or energy. But modern big bangers simply assume that below a certain threshold density, all the mass-energy in the universe would produce negative spatial curvature.2
Diagrams representing closed, open, and flat geometries of the universe, corresponding to a density parameter Ω0 which is greater than, less than or equal to 1. (en.wikipedia.org)
The idea that space as a whole can be positively or negatively curved originated with the work of Russian mathematician Alexander Friedmann. If we draw a triangle on a flat piece of paper, the three angles will add up to 180º, whereas if we draw a triangle on the outside of a sphere (such as the earth), the angles will add up to more than 180º, and if we draw one on a saddle-shaped surface, the angles will add up to less than 180º. Similarly, if we could draw a huge triangle in space, the sum of the angles will be 180º if space is ‘flat’ and Euclidian. But it would supposedly be more than 180º if space were positively curved, and less than 180º if it were negatively curved. A curved surface is of course a very poor analogy for curved three-dimensional space. It is impractical to construct a huge triangle in space, but for theoretical and observational reasons most cosmologists now believe that the universe is most likely flat. However, for an expanding universe to be as flat as it appears today, at 10-43 second after the big bang it would need to have been flat to within one part in 1058; in other words, the big bang theory won’t work unless we fine-tune a crucial parameter to 58 decimal places!3
- See Space, time, and relativity, section 3, davidpratt.info.
- William C. Mitchell, Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, Cosmic Sense Books, 2002, ch. 20.
- Ibid., p. 66.
3. Redshift controversies
As a general rule, the spectral lines in the light from stars in our galaxy are redshifted if the stars are moving away from us and blueshifted if they are moving towards us, resulting from the stretching and compressing of light waves respectively; this is known as the Doppler effect. Since the spectral lines in the light from all galaxies, except for a few nearby ones, are redshifted, this could mean that the galaxies are moving away from us and the universe is expanding. The redshift of the light from distant galaxies increases with their apparent distance, as indicated by their reduced brightness or size. This is interpreted to mean that galaxies are moving apart at a velocity which increases with distance, with the velocity of the furthest galaxies approaching closer and closer to the speed of light. Cosmologists frequently cite the analogy of a raisin pudding; as the pudding heats and expands, the raisins – representing clusters of galaxies – move further apart. A redshift caused by expanding space is known as the cosmological redshift.
When proposing his gravitational field equations, Einstein added a ‘cosmological constant’ – an antigravitational force, known as lambda (λ or Λ) – in order to balance the force of gravity and keep the universe static. Alexander Friedmann (in 1922) and Jesuit priest Georges Lemaître (in 1927) independently found solutions to Einstein’s equations in which the universe does expand. At the same time, astronomers were discovering that the spectra of other galaxies were redshifted – which was compatible with an expanding universe. By the early 1930s the idea that the universe began as what Lemaître called a ‘primeval atom’ and has been expanding since its birth had gained broad acceptance. Einstein therefore abandoned the cosmological constant, but it was revived in the 1980s.
Although originally conceived of as an explosion in space, big bangers quickly decided that the birth of the universe must have involved an explosion of space because an explosion of matter in preexisting space would have had a definite, measurable location. Since the redshift is interpreted to mean that everything is moving away from us and that the velocities of expansion are the same in all directions, this would mean that we would have to be situated at or close to the centre of the explosion. To avoid the conclusion that we are located in a special place in the universe, it is therefore claimed that space itself popped into being with the big bang and has expanded ever since, carrying the galaxies with it. As no expansion of space is observable within our own solar system or galaxy or even group of galaxies, big bangers assume that the stretching of space must be taking place between galaxy clusters and superclusters – where it is safely beyond observational investigation. In the big bang model, the redshift is therefore not strictly speaking a Doppler effect, since the galaxies remain stationary while space itself expands.
This violent and chaotic-looking mass of gas and dust is the remains of a nearby exploding star or supernova (N 63A). The image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, with colour filters being used to sample light emitted by sulphur (red), oxygen (blue), and hydrogen (green). In stark contrast, the big bang universe is supposed to be expanding in a perfectly uniform and symmetrical fashion. This began as a simplifying assumption necessary to prevent the relevant equations from becoming unmanageable, but it is now an integral part of big bang dogma.
Since the early 1920s several scientists have argued that, instead of being caused by expansion, the redshift might be caused by light losing energy as it travels through space; this is known as the tired-light hypothesis. Several possible mechanisms have been proposed, involving the interaction of light with matter, radiation, or force fields in interstellar and intergalactic space.1 It is sometimes objected that such processes would produce blurred images of distant objects, but this is far from true of all mechanisms. Light could also be losing energy as it passes through the ether, as proposed by Nobel prize winner Walther Nernst in 1921 and by several later researchers.2 The ether is a subtle medium pervading all space and forming the substratum of physical matter. Scientists used to believe that light waves propagated through an etheric medium, but the ether was abolished by mainstream science in the early 20th century in favour of the fiction of ‘empty space’.
Today, the supposed expansion rate of the universe is still named the ‘Hubble constant’ even though Edwin Hubble, who in 1929 confirmed that redshifts were roughly proportional to distance, came to favour the tired-light model of an infinite, nonexpanding universe. Moreover, most of the galaxies he studied in deriving the redshift/distance relation were located within our Local Group of galaxies, and by 1934 cosmologists had decided that space within galaxy clusters is not expanding.3
Paul LaViolette, Tom Van Flandern, Eric Lerner and others have reviewed several observational tests of the different interpretations of the redshift, and show that the nonexpanding-universe interpretation explains the data much better than the expanding-universe hypothesis.4 To bring the big bang model into line with observations, an increasing variety of ad-hoc assumptions have to be introduced concerning the way the universe has evolved since its creation. Moreover, the adjustments made to enable the big bang theory to fit one set of data often undermine its fit on other kinds of cosmological tests, throwing the theory as a whole into confusion. Van Flandern concludes: ‘despite the widespread popularity of the big bang model, even its most basic premise, the expansion of the universe, is of dubious validity, both observationally and theoretically.’ As LaViolette says, with the abandonment of the myth of the expanding universe, we can look out on a new cosmic landscape: ‘Galaxies no longer rush away from us at incredible speeds, but instead float gently in the waters of the cosmos, like so many glittering lilies on a vast lake.’5
If extragalactic redshifts were caused purely by expanding space, as in the big bang theory, or if they were caused purely by light losing energy as it travels through space, as in the tired-light theory, then redshifts should always be proportional to distance. However, there are numerous instances where galaxies at the same distance have very different redshifts – which shows that other factors must be at work.6
Groups of galaxies consist of a central galaxy orbited by companion galaxies. The redshift of the group as a whole is supposed to be caused by its recession velocity. However, the redshifts of the companion galaxies should be slightly higher or lower than that of their central galaxy due to their orbital velocity around it. And since, at any given time, about the same number of companion galaxies should be moving towards us as away from us in their orbital motion, we would expect about half to have slightly higher redshifts and half to have slightly lower redshifts. However, the redshifts of all 22 major companion galaxies in our Local Group and the next major group are systematically higher than that of the central galaxy. Since the probability of this occurring by chance is a mere 1 in 4 million, the logical conclusion is that companion galaxies have intrinsic, excess redshifts, and that their redshifts are not simply the result of velocity. The systematic redshift of companion galaxies has been confirmed in every group of galaxies tested. Halton Arp points out that the excess redshifts of companion galaxies were routinely announced in Nature magazine in 1970, when the significance was one part in a few thousand. But now that the evidence has grown to overwhelming proportions, there is little likelihood of the results and their implications being discussed in the major professional journals.
As Arp has demonstrated in great detail, excess redshifts are correlated with younger ages. In galaxy clusters, too, smaller, younger galaxies have excess redshifts. In addition, it has been known since 1911 that the youngest, most luminous stars in our own galaxy have excess redshifts which generally increase with the relative youth of the stars. But obviously these hot, young stars cannot all be exploding away from us in every direction we look. In other words, redshifts are not purely a product of velocity.
The lower diagram shows redshifts (expressed as velocities) of galaxies in a segment of space (90º by 32º), plotted against their angular position as viewed from earth. The galaxies in red belong to the Virgo cluster. If we assume that galaxies lie at their redshift distances, such clusters assume an elongated shape – known as ‘fingers of God’ – pointing towards the earth. Since the earth is not the centre of the universe or the focal point of the Virgo cluster, this suggests that the redshift-equals-distance assumption is false. Attributing the wide range of redshifts to galaxies’ individual motions within a cluster is unconvincing because the velocities required are unbelievably large. It is also hard to understand how clusters could hold together if they were really spread out over such vast distances. The Virgo cluster is most likely more compact, as shown in the top left diagram.7
There are many cases of low-redshift galaxies that are physically associated with high-redshift galaxies and quasars (quasi-stellar radio sources).8 Arp argues that the high-redshift objects have been ejected from the low-redshift galaxies, and that their excess redshift is due mainly to their younger age. Some scientists argue that instead of being ejected from active galactic nuclei, the quasars and other higher-redshift objects form in denser areas (‘Z-pinches’) of the plasma streaming out of many galaxies.9 Pairs of such objects often line up on either side of active galaxies and are connected to their parent galaxy by luminous filaments or plasma bridges (‘umbilical cords’). However, establishment scientists insist that all such cases involve chance alignments of foreground and background objects, and they attribute the connecting filaments to ‘noise’ or instrument defects. Big bangers therefore persist in their belief that the very high redshifts of most quasars indicate that they are situated close to the edge of the visible universe and are rushing away from us at velocities approaching the speed of light.
If quasars really lie at their redshift distances, they would be shining brighter than a whole galaxy of 10 billion stars despite being not much bigger than the solar system; cosmologists claim that this energy is released by matter falling into hypothetical ultramassive black holes. Such massive objects would accelerate matter to such enormous speeds that high-energy radiation signatures would be produced, but these are not observed. Oddly, quasars with very different redshifts have comparable apparent brightness, forcing big bangers to assume that the size and brightness of newly formed quasars declines as the universe ages. In addition, the furthest quasars would be too young to have attained the observed level of metallicity; very high-redshift quasars and their host galaxies sometimes have a higher metallicity level than those at low redshifts. Stars within our galaxy have a measurable proper motion (e.g. Sirius, 8.6 light-years away, moves 1.3 arcseconds/year). Proper motions have been measured and catalogued for quasars, but this is ignored in the literature. The brightest quasar, TON 202, has a proper motion of 0.053 arcsec/yr, which, at its redshift distance, would be about 1000 times the speed of light.10 The speed at which the radio-emitting lobes emanating from some quasars are moving apart would also be hundreds or even thousands of times the speed of light. Attempts to accommodate these anomalies in the standard model are contrived and unconvincing. All the anomalies disappear if quasars are not at their redshift-implied distances.11
NGC 7603 is an active, X-ray-bright Seyfert galaxy with a redshift of 0.029 (8000 km/s). It is linked by a luminous bridge to a smaller companion galaxy. Yet the latter has a higher redshift of 0.057 (16,000 km/s) and, according to conventional assumptions, ought to be twice as far away. Big bang cosmologists therefore maintain that the apparent physical connection between these two galaxies is purely ‘illusory’ and ‘coincidental’. In 2002 it was discovered that the luminous filament between the two galaxies contains two quasar-like objects with even higher redshifts. The Astrophysical Journal and Nature refused to publish this observation, and it was finally published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, a peer-reviewed but less ‘prestigious’ journal. Furthermore, requests to make follow-up observations with the Chandra X-ray satellite and the southern Very Large Telescope were turned down. The story of NGC 7603 is a poignant example of how crucial scientific evidence is ignored and suppressed.12
The arrow points to a high-redshift quasar in front of a low-redshift galaxy NGC 7319. The quasar’s redshift dictates that it should be 95 times further from the earth than the galaxy. One big banger claimed that there must be a hole in the galaxy in just the right place for the background quasar to shine through! A jet of matter can be seen extending from the centre of the galaxy towards the quasar.13
To explain why many quasars appear to lie very close to low-redshift galaxies, it is fashionable for mainstream cosmologists to invoke the theory of gravitational lensing: the image of a background quasar is supposedly split into multiple bright images by the gravitational field of a foreground galaxy with a large mass.14 However, the probability of such an alignment is around 1 in 500,000, so it is hardly likely that all the nearly 30,000 instances of excess quasars around galaxies can be explained in this way. The probability becomes even more remote if the redshift-equals-velocity assumption has led to galaxy masses being overestimated. Moreover, microlensing and even millilensing by individual stars and clumps of dark matter also have to be invoked to explain the different optical properties of the supposed ‘lensed’ images of a single background object.
The Einstein Cross consists of four quasars aligned across a central galaxy of lower redshift, and is regarded as a prime example of gravitational lensing – despite the fact that Fred Hoyle calculated the probability of such a lensing event as less than two chances in a million, and despite the presence of plasma bridges between the quasars and the parent galaxy. (marmet.org)
To explain how redshift might be related to age, Arp and Jayant Narlikar suggest that instead of elementary particles having constant mass, as orthodox science assumes, they come into being with zero mass, which then increases, in steps, as they age. When electrons in younger atoms jump from one orbit to another, the light they emit is weaker, and therefore more highly redshifted, than the light emitted by electrons in older atoms. To put it another way: as particle mass grows, frequency (clock rate) increases and therefore redshift decreases. Light is also redshifted when leaving a massive body, and this gravitational redshift could also explain part of some galaxies’ large redshift.
If the universe is expanding, redshifts should show a continuous range of values. However, several studies have found that they are often quantized, i.e. they tend to be multiples of certain basic units. In our local supercluster, redshifts corrected for the orbital motion of our solar system show periodicities (expressed as velocities) of about 71.5 km/s and 37.5 km/s. For quasars close to bright, active spiral galaxies, their intrinsic redshifts show peaks at values of 0.061, 0.30, 0.60, 0.96, 1.41, 1.96, 2.63, 3.44, 4.45 ...15 If we add 1 to each number, this series becomes geometric: each term is about 1.23 times the previous one. These discoveries have met with fierce resistance from orthodox cosmologists and are largely ignored. There is no straightforward explanation in any model, but Arp’s suggestion that episodes of matter creation take place at regular intervals could be part of the answer. Since redshifts sometimes deviate from exact multiples of the basic units of redshift by only a few km/s, this seems to imply that the individual members of galaxy groups and clusters are moving far more slowly in relation to one another than is generally believed, except in the dense, central regions, where no quantization is found.
- Louis Marmet, ‘On the interpretation of red-shifts: a quantitative comparison of red-shift mechanisms’, 2011, marmet.org; Lyndon Ashmore, ‘Intrinsic plasma redshifts now reproduced in the laboratory – a discussion in terms of new tired light’, 2011, vixra.org.
- Paul LaViolette, Genesis of the Cosmos: The ancient science of continuous creation, Bear and Company, 2004, pp. 280-3; Tom Van Flandern, Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets, North Atlantic Books, 1993, pp. 91-4.
- A.K.T. Assis, M.C.D. Neves & D.S.L. Soares, ‘Hubble’s cosmology: from a finite expanding universe to a static endless universe’, 2011, arxiv.org; Hilton Ratcliffe, The Static Universe: Exploding the myth of cosmic expansion, Apeiron, 2010, ch. 2.
- Genesis of the Cosmos, pp. 288-95; Tom Van Flandern, ‘Did the universe have a beginning?’, Meta Research Bulletin, 3:3, 1994, metaresearch.org; Eric J. Lerner, ‘Evidence for a non-expanding universe: surface brightness data from HUDF’, 2005, photonmatrix.com; J.G. Hartnett, ‘Is the universe really expanding?’, 2011, arxiv.org; Martín López-Corredoira, ‘Observational cosmology: caveats and open questions in the standard model’, 2008, arxiv.org.
- Genesis of the Cosmos, p. 340.
- Halton Arp, Seeing Red: Redshifts, cosmology and academic science, Apeiron, 1998; Halton Arp, Catalogue of Discordant Redshift Associations, Apeiron, 2003; Halton Arp, Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies, Interstellar Media, 1987; Exploding the big bang, davidpratt.info; López-Corredoira, ‘Observational cosmology’.
- Donald E. Scott, The Electric Sky: A challenge to the myths of modern astronomy, Mikamar Publishing, 2006, pp. 217-8; Wallace Thornhill & David Talbott, The Electric Universe, Mikamar Publishing, 2007, pp. 18-9; Seeing Red, pp. 69-71.
- G. Burbidge & W.M. Napier, ‘Associations of high-redshift quasi-stellar objects with active, low-redshift spiral galaxies’, Astrophysical Journal, v. 706, no. 1, 2009, pp. 657-64, iopscience.iop.org.
- The Electric Universe, pp. 211, 220.
- Quasar TON 202 is within our galaxy, laserstars.org.
- Martín López-Corredoira, ‘Pending problems in QSOs’, International Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2011, v. 1, no. 2, pp. 73-82; The Static Universe, ch. 5.
- Halton Arp, ‘Research with Fred’, haltonarp.com; Catalogue of Discordant Redshift Associations, pp. 202-4.
- The Electric Universe, p. 17; The Electric Sky, pp. 209-10.
- Seeing Red, pp. 169-93; The Static Universe, pp. 174-80.
- Ibid., pp. 195-223; Jayant V. Narlikar & Geoffrey Burbidge, Facts and Speculations in Cosmology, Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 269-72; Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge & Jayant V. Narlikar, A Different Approach to Cosmology, Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 325-34; The Static Universe, pp. 74-8; W.M. Napier, ‘A statistical evaluation of anomalous redshift claims’, Astrophysics and Space Science, v. 285, no. 2, 2003, pp. 419-27.
Note on redshift (z) equations
z = Δλ/λe = (λr - λe)/λe (where Δλ = shift in wavelength; λe = emitted wavelength; λr = received wavelength)
z = √[(1+v/c)/(1-v/c)] - 1 (this means that recession velocity (v) can never reach light speed (c))
For velocities only a small fraction of light speed, z ≈ v/c
The distance to an object is roughly given by: d = zc/H0 (where H0 is the Hubble constant, currently put at about 71 km/s per megaparsec (1 Mpc = 3.26 million light-years))
4. Inflation, dark matter, dark energy
To solve a number of problems, big bang theorists decided in the early 1980s that 1 trillion-trillion-trillionth of a second after the initial explosion, ‘spacetime’ underwent a period of hyper-rapid inflation lasting about 5 billion-trillion-trillionths of a second, during which it expanded up to 100 trillion trillion trillion trillion (1050) times faster than the speed of light, growing from a minuscule point to a volume several million light-years in diameter.1 Then it somehow braked abruptly to a more leisurely rate of expansion. This utterly bizarre, ad-hoc theory shows how ‘creative’ cosmologists can be when the theory on which their careers and reputations are based is threatened. The mechanism responsible for inflation is completely unknown but it has already been labelled the ‘inflaton field’ (probably because this sounds better than ‘we haven’t a clue’). Theorists say that superluminal expansion does not violate relativity theory (which says nothing can move faster than light) because it is space that is expanding rather than matter that is moving. But as William Mitchell remarks, ‘how inflation can in some manner displace all the mass or energy of the universe without physically moving it, defies common understanding’.2
Inflation was considered necessary to explain how the microwave background radiation on opposite sites of the universe can be so uniform, and why the universe looks so flat rather than distinctly curved. Inflation is also said to have magnified density differences caused by quantum fluctuations to cosmic size so that they could become the seeds for the growth of structure in the universe. All the different versions of inflation theory make one testable prediction – that protons should eventually decay. All experiments to date have failed to detect any such decay, but this problem was ‘solved’ by tweaking the equations to extend the lifetime of protons.
The inflation model dictates that the matter in the universe must have a certain critical density, but the density of visible matter is only a tiny fraction of this value. However, the modern big bang theory claims that ordinary (baryonic) matter and neutrinos make up only 4.5% of the mass-energy of the universe, while dark matter makes up 22.7%, and dark energy 72.8%.
Before the invention of dark energy, many big bang theorists used to claim that dark matter must make up about 99% of the mass of the universe. Observational evidence led most astronomers to conclude that up to 90% of the mass of the universe might consist of dark matter. In our solar system, the orbital speed of planets declines with increasing distance from the sun, so that the solar system has a falling ‘rotation curve’. However, many galaxies have flat rotation curves, and the anomalously high speeds of the outer parts of galaxies are attributed to the gravitational effect of large quantities of unseen matter. Dark matter is thought to be concentrated around galaxies in vast halos. Observations of the speed with which galaxies appear to move in groups and clusters are also interpreted as evidence of dark matter.
There are undoubtedly ‘dark’, nonluminous concentrations of ordinary physical matter in our universe, but big bangers claim that the vast majority of dark matter consists of hypothetical physical particles (such as axions and weakly interacting massive particles, or WIMPs) which, unlike all other known physical matter, neither emit nor absorb light, and can be detected only by their gravitational effects. The main reason why big bangers postulated the existence of so much dark matter was purely theoretical – the big bang would not work without it, and most dark matter had to have unusual properties otherwise it would upset other aspects of the model. The existence of exotic dark matter therefore ‘rests on belief and not on any hard evidence’.3 Cold dark matter models were unable to accurately simulate the structure of the universe on both galactic and multigalactic scales simultaneously, and attempts to solve the problem by adding a bit of hot dark matter (such as massive, fast-moving neutrinos) were unsuccessful.4
To explain the evidence for dark matter, Mordehai Milgrom has proposed a modification of the inverse-square law of gravity, known as Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND).5 There is, however, no independent experimental evidence to support it. Some scientists argue that dark matter in the form of ordinary, nonluminous matter can explain all the observational evidence.6 Such matter includes clouds of dust, gas and plasma, low-mass stars (e.g. brown dwarfs), planets, and the remnants of dead stars such as white dwarfs, neutron stars and ‘black holes’ (sometimes called massive compact halo objects, or MACHOs). It has been estimated that interstellar gas, low-energy plasmas, and brown dwarfs might exceed the mass of luminous stars in our galaxy.7 And surveys based on gravitational microlensing suggest there may be 100,000 times more ‘nomad planets’ roaming our galaxy than there are stars.8 Other researchers explain flat rotation curves by invoking the operation of galactic-scale electromagnetic forces.9
Another approach questions whether the outer parts of galaxies (including our own Milky Way) really are rotating anomalously fast. The only evidence for this is the altered frequencies of light, which are interpreted as Doppler shifts caused by receding or approaching motions as seen from earth. An alternative interpretation of the spectroscopic data is that the altered frequencies are caused by particles in the outer parts of galaxies having slightly different masses (and therefore clock rates) than those closer to the centre. H.R. Drew writes: ‘Such a gradient of energy or frequency is well-known in biology, and is usually called a “developmental gradient”, as seen across the widths of growing embryos.’ The same may be true of any highly organized system of matter, including a growing galaxy.10
As far as galactic motions in groups and clusters are concerned, large amounts of dark matter are only required if the galaxies whose motions are being used to determine mass are assumed to be part of bound, stable systems; in certain cases some of the galaxies may not really belong to the group or cluster, or the group or cluster may be coming apart and disintegrating.11 Moreover, the fact that companion galaxies have excess redshifts and that their redshifts are often quantized strongly suggests that they are not simply velocities. Redshift quantization seems to indicate that the orbital velocities of galaxies must be less than 20 km/s otherwise the periodicity would be washed out. If this is true, the need for dark matter vanishes.
Map showing the distribution of dark matter over more than a billion light-years, based on the gravitational lensing of light from distant galaxies (www.space.com). The data say nothing about the nature or origin of dark matter. Some scientists think it may be ordinary matter and radiation pouring out of galaxies.12
In 1998 it was found that remote type 1a supernovae (exploding stars) were dimmer than expected on the assumption that they are ‘standard candles’, i.e. that they all have the same intrinsic brightness and explode in exactly the same manner. Big bangers interpreted this to be the result of time dilation, and concluded that, far from being slowed by gravitation, as they had expected, the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and has been doing so for about 7 billion years. To explain the alleged accelerated expansion, big bangers invented the notion of dark energy – a repulsive force present everywhere in space, associated with either Einstein’s cosmological constant or a new scalar field known as quintessence. A more sensible explanation is that type 1a supernovae are not standard candles.13
A pretty diagram. (hubblesite.org)
Michael Disney writes:
to explain some surprising observations, theoreticians have had to create heroic and yet insubstantial notions such as ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy,’ which supposedly overwhelm, by a hundred to one, the stuff of the universe we can directly detect. Outsiders are bound to ask whether they should be more impressed by the new observations or more dismayed by the theoretical jinnis that have been conjured up to account for them.14
Just because professionals cling to such a flimsy theory ... need not discourage the rest of us from being a good deal more detached.15
- Inflation (cosmology), en.wikipedia.org; Mitchell, Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, p. 214.
- Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, p. 220.
- Hoyle, Burbidge & Narlikar, A Different Approach to Cosmology, pp. 293, 307.
- Peter Coles, ‘The end of the old model universe’, Nature, v. 393, 25 June 1998, pp. 741-4.
- The Mond Pages, astro.umd.edu/~ssm/mond.
- Narlikar & Burbidge, Facts and Speculations in Cosmology, pp. 213-8; A Different Approach to Cosmology, pp. 281-93; C.F. Gallo & J.Q. Feng, ‘Galactic rotation described with bulge + disk gravitational models’, 2008, arxiv.org; bigbangneverhappened.org.
- Timothy E. Eastman, ‘Cosmic agnosticism, revisited’, Journal of Cosmology, v. 4, 2010, pp. 655-63, journalofcosmology.com.
- Andy Freeberg, ‘Researchers say galaxy may swarm with “nomad planets”’, 23 Feb 2012, news.stanford.edu.
- Eric J. Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened, Vintage Books, 1992, pp. 240-1.
- H.R. Drew, Apeiron, v. 4, no. 1, 1997, pp. 26-32, redshift.vif.com.
- A Different Approach to Cosmology, pp. 287-93; The Big Bang Never Happened, pp. 32-5.
- Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, p. 311.
- Ratcliffe, The Static Universe, pp. 166-71.
- Disney, ‘Modern cosmology: science or folktale?’, americanscientist.org.
- ‘Modern cosmology: science or folk tale?’, astro.umd.edu.
5. Microwave background radiation
The microwave background radiation (MBR) was discovered by Penzias and Wilson in 1965 and has a temperature of 2.73 kelvins (K). Big bang theorists had predicted cosmic microwave radiation with a black-body spectrum left over from the fireball of the big bang. Prominent theorist George Gamow predicted a microwave temperature of 5 K in 1948, 7 K in 1955, and 50 K in 1961. In terms of energy density, which varies as the fourth power of temperature, the prediction of 50 K yields a value over 113,000 times too high. Big bang advocates prefer to quote the value of 5 K predicted by Gamow’s students Alpher and Herman in 1948, but forget to mention that a year later they revised this to 20 K. Moreover, all the more accurate estimates of the background temperature by non-big-bang scientists are ignored. Walther Nernst gave an estimate of 0.75 K in 1938. In 1926 Arthur Eddington calculated that starlight would give a background temperature of 3.2 K. In the 1930s Ernst Regener concluded that intergalactic space had a background temperature of 2.8 K, and in 1941 Andrew McKellar estimated that temperature to be 2.3 K.1
According to the big bang theory, the MBR is the residue of the light emitted some 380,000 years after the big bang, when radiation decoupled from matter, meaning that the temperature fell low enough (3000 K) for electrons and nuclei to form atoms so that radiation could travel freely through space. The infrared radiation released at that time has allegedly been redshifted by a factor of over 1000 so that it is now microwave radiation. The smoothness and near-perfect black-body spectrum of the MBR are usually cited as confirmation of the big bang. But if the radiation has really been travelling through space for over 13 billion years and interacting with galactic structures, it seems far more likely that its spectrum would be smeared and distorted.2
The extreme uniformity of the MBR is interpreted to mean that matter in the early big bang universe must have been distributed incredibly smoothly – which makes it extremely difficult to explain how the universe ended up being so lumpy. In April 1992 it was announced that NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite had found tiny fluctuations or ‘ripples’ in the background radiation, supposedly caused by quantum fluctuations in the early universe. However, the temperature variations were much too vast in extent to be the ancestors of the galaxies and clusters observed today, and did not exceed 30 millionths of a degree – far too minuscule to act as the seeds for structures to form from. So although the findings were welcomed by big bang theorists (the COBE team leader said they were like ‘seeing the face of God’), they ‘simultaneously relegated most of cosmologists’ specific models for the formation of the universe to the trash bin’.3
Further MBR measurements have since been made by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) and various balloon and ground-based experiments; millions of dollars are being spent on this project in an effort to find support for the big bang. Mainstream cosmologists claim that the data fully confirm every aspect of the big bang theory and have enabled them to determine the age of the universe (13.75 billion years), the amounts of physically undetectable dark matter and dark energy, and numerous other parameters with unprecedented precision.4
Pierre-Marie Robitaille, an expert in magnetic resonance imaging, has presented a detailed and damning assessment of the COBE and WMAP projects.5 The WMAP satellite acquires signals at five microwave frequencies. To create images of microwave fluctuations or anisotropies, attempts are made to remove the contaminating foreground signal from our galaxy, which is 1000 times more intense than the signal of interest, which itself is subject to significant annual variations. The WMAP team applies complex and arbitrary methods of mathematical manipulation to ‘clean’ and combine the raw images, but has no way of verifying whether the ‘features’ that are left are truly of cosmological origin or the product of data processing. The images fail to meet accepted standards in medical imaging research. ‘An infinite number of maps can be generated from the 5 basis sets,’ says Robitaille. ‘There is no unique solution and therefore each map is indistinguishable from noise.’ This means that all the key parameters of the big bang universe that have been derived from the microwave anisotropies ‘are devoid of true meaning, precisely because the images are so unreliable’.
Robitaille says it has not yet been ruled out that the microwave signal measured by various satellites, and most recently by the Planck satellite, comes predominantly from the earth’s oceans.6 Water is a powerful absorber and emitter in the microwave and far infrared bands, and the oceans’ emissions are then scattered by the atmosphere.
Above: Images of the signals acquired by the WMAP satellite at the five observational frequencies: 23, 33, 41, 61, and 94 GHz, known as the K, Ka, Q, V, and W bands (from left to right, top to bottom). Below: The ‘cleaned’ and massaged image for public consumption. The average temperature is 2.725 K. The colours represent tiny temperature fluctuations: red regions are warmer and dark blue regions are colder by about 0.0002º. (lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov)
The claims of an excellent fit between the big bang theory and MBR observations are highly dubious. Eric Lerner points out that ‘the curve that was fitted to the data had seven adjustable parameters, the majority of which could not be checked by other observations’, and that even then ‘the fit was not statistically good, with the probability that the curve actually fits the data being under 5%’. For instance, the model greatly overestimated the anisotropy on the largest angular scales.7 The continuous stream of anomalous results from WMAP data is either ignored or the underlying theory is modified so that the prediction matches the measurements.8 A major anomaly is that the anisotropies in the MBR ‘do not seem to be scattered as randomly as expected’; they are aligned with the ecliptic and/or other local astrophysical structures.9
The earth is bathed in cosmic radiation in all wavebands from radio waves to gamma rays, and most of it probably originates in stars and galactic centres. Hilton Ratcliffe argues that the microwave background is no exception: ‘it makes much more sense as the limiting temperature of space heated by ambient starlight and radiation from astrophysical structures, including even the Earth itself, than the signature of a hypothesised primordial explosion’.10 To smooth out large variations and produce the measured black-body spectrum, the radiation would have to be scattered and thermalized by repeated absorption and reemission. Some researchers think that this could be done by tiny iron and carbon whiskers in intergalactic space, resulting from supernova explosions,11 or by a thicket of dense, magnetically confined plasma filaments pervading the intergalactic medium.12
- A.K.T. Assis & M.C.D. Neves, ‘History of the 2.7 K temperature prior to Penzias and Wilson’, Apeiron, v. 2, no. 3, 1995, pp. 79-84, redshift.vif.com; Mitchell, Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, pp. 104-5.
- Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, pp. 112-3.
- Scientific American, July 1992, p. 9.
- Lambda-CDM model, en.wikipedia.org; Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, map.gsfc.nasa.gov.
- Pierre-Marie Robitaille, ‘WMAP: a radiological analysis’, Progress in Physics, v. 1, 2007, pp. 3-18, ptep-online.com; Pierre-Marie Robitaille, ‘COBE: a radiological analysis’, Progress in Physics, v. 4, 2009, pp. 17-42, ptep-online.com.
- Pierre-Marie Robitaille, ‘The Planck satellite LFI and the microwave background: importance of the 4K reference targets’, Progress in Physics, v. 3, 2010, ptep-online.com.
- Eric J. Lerner, Two world systems revisited: a comparison of plasma cosmology and the big bang, 2003, bigbangneverhappened.org.
- Ratcliffe, The Static Universe, pp. 119-20, 129-30.
- ‘Ripples cause cosmic doubts over inflation’, New Scientist, 30 April 2005, newscientist.com; Eric Lerner, ‘Cosmology in 2007: a year-end survey’, bigbangneverhappened.org.
- The Static Universe, p. 128
- Narlikar & Burbidge, Facts and Speculations in Cosmology, pp. 243-4; Hoyle, Burbidge & Narlikar, A Different Approach to Cosmology, pp. 201-7.
- Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened, pp. 50-1, 268-78; ‘Cosmology in 2007’.
6. Light element abundances
When matter is created in high-energy collision experiments, equal amounts of matter and antimatter are produced. If matter particles come into contact with their antiparticles (which have opposite charge) they annihilate each other in a burst of light. The universe today consists predominantly of matter rather than antimatter, whereas the big bang is believed to have created equal amounts of both. To explain this, big bangers simply invented an unknown reaction called baryogenesis, which led to a very small excess of quarks and leptons (e.g. electrons) over antiquarks and antileptons.
In our Milky Way galaxy, hydrogen makes up about 74% of its mass, helium 24%, oxygen 1%, with the final 1% being accounted for by all the other elements; the abundances elsewhere in the universe are assumed to be more or less the same. All the 92 naturally occurring elements and their isotopes could have been produced through fusion processes in stars and other energetic environments such as galactic centres and through other processes such as cosmic-ray-induced atomic fission, provided the universe is far older than 14 billion years. In the big bang theory, on the other hand, the lightest elements (mainly helium, deuterium, and lithium) have to be made through nucleosynthesis in the early universe, during the period from about 3 to 20 minutes after the big bang. However, this is only possible by carefully choosing the ratio of ordinary matter particles (baryons) to photons. The baryon-to-photon ratio (or baryon number) has had to be periodically adjusted to agree with the latest observations. As Hoyle et al. say, ‘When a theory is specifically adjusted to have a certain property, it cannot be given over-much credit for having that property.’1
A major problem is that no baryon-to-photon ratio allows the observed amounts of helium, deuterium and lithium to be accounted for at the same time. For instance, using the currently favoured ratio, the amount of lithium-7 produced would be 2.4 to 4.3 times higher than observed.2 In addition, the abundance of helium in galaxies and old main-sequence stars is less than predicted.3 It is also worth noting that the big bang cannot produce the observed quantity of deuterium if the baryon density exceeds a certain limit – which is why big bang cosmology requires the bulk of dark matter to have exotic, nonbaryonic properties.4
- Hoyle, Burbidge & Narlikar, A Different Approach to Cosmology, p. 99.
- R.H. Cyburt, B.D. Fields & K.A. Olive, ‘A bitter pill: the primordial lithium problem worsens’, 2008, arxiv.org.
- Lerner, ‘Cosmology in 2007’; Mitchell, Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, p. 173.
- Narlikar & Burbidge, Facts and Speculations in Cosmology, p. 275.
7. Large-scale structure
While big bang cosmologists are extremely good at concocting highly speculative and untestable theories about what was happening during the first few microseconds after the big bang, they have been spectacularly less successful in explaining the large-scale structure of the universe that we observe today. The microwave background radiation is supposed to be the afterglow of the big bang. However, all the hypothetical steps leading from the tiny density fluctuations inferred from this radiation to the development of normal, full-sized galaxies are currently missing from the observations, as are the enormous quantities of exotic dark matter required to bring this about. Higher redshift objects should be smaller, duller, younger, closer together, and hotter than comparatively low-redshift objects – but they are not. Quasars and hydrogen clouds are equally spaced over a range of redshifts, contrary to what the big bang implies. The spectra of the most distant galaxies contradict the hypothesis that they should consist solely of very young stars. And extremely distant galaxies have been discovered that apparently formed long before the big bang universe could have cooled sufficiently. There is overwhelming evidence for the ongoing formation of not only new stars but also new galaxies, whereas big bangers originally predicted that all galaxies formed within a billion years or so after the big bang.
This Hubble Ultra Deep Field image of a patch of space below Orion shows over 10,000 galaxies. Most have high redshifts but appear mature rather than young. The idea that they could have formed within the first 500 million years after the big bang is highly implausible.1
The big bang model is based on the cosmological principle – the assumption that, on a large enough scale, the universe is isotropic and homogeneous, i.e. looks the same in all directions and from every location. Yet each time astronomers acquire more powerful telescopes allowing them to see deeper into space, they discover new scales of structure: first (in the 1920s) it was the existence of other galaxies, then clusters of galaxies, then superclusters of galaxies, then in 1986 came the discovery that galaxies are strung into huge sheets, ‘walls’, or filaments, sometimes stretching over a billion light-years, and separated by enormous voids. For example, the Sloan Great Wall of galaxies runs roughly from the head of Hydra to the feet of Virgo and is 1.36 billion light-years long. The discovery of these supergalactic structures has filled orthodox cosmologists with dismay.
It has been estimated that it would have taken from 80 to 250 billion years to form such structures. The 14 billion years that have elapsed since the hypothetical big bang are not enough time for gravity to sculpt structures larger than about 30 million light-years; expansion would have prevented anything larger from forming. It is possible that matter moved much faster in the past and later slowed down, but this deceleration would have distorted the spectrum of the microwave background radiation to a degree that has not been observed.2
This Sloan Digital Sky Survey map plots the position of
200,000 galaxies up to 2 billion light-years away.
Fractal and cellular distribution of galaxies within a radius of about 300 million light-years.3 (fractaluniverse.org)
Big bangers accept that up to a distance of at least 200 million light-years (a scale far larger than expected), the distribution of matter in the universe is irregular and fractal, with similar patterns repeated on ever larger scales. Beyond that distance, they believe that matter distribution smoothens out and ceases to be fractal. To salvage the cold dark matter model, they have had to add what they call a ‘bias parameter’ (yet another fudge factor) to their equations, which reflects their belief that dark matter is spread out in space more evenly than ordinary matter – even though dark matter surveys contradict this. They fully realize that a universe patterned by fractals would throw big bang cosmology out of the window. An Italian team, on the other hand, argues that the latest Sloan Digital Sky Survey data support the view that if astronomers continue to zoom out and look at even larger scales, they will find more clustering and more fractal patterns.4
A word of caution is in order here. Beyond about 300 light-years, the distance scale of the universe is highly uncertain since it is mainly derived from redshifts.5 The redshift anomalies discussed earlier indicate that high-redshift objects are not necessarily further away than low-redshift objects. It is possible that in the majority of cases redshift is roughly proportional to distance, but we have no independent way of knowing this or of verifying the calculated distances.
- Ratcliffe, The Static Universe, pp. 153-4.
- Ashwini Kumar Lal & Rhawn Joseph, ‘Big bang? A critical review’, Journal of Cosmology, v. 6, 2010, pp. 1533-47, journalofcosmology.com; Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened, pp. 21-5, 28-31; Mitchell, Bye Bye Big Bang, Hello Reality, pp. 86-7; A. Gefter, ‘Don’t mention the F word’, New Scientist, 10 March 2007, pp. 30-3.
- Colin Hill, Electro-Fractal Universe, 2006, ch. 7, fractaluniverse.org.
- Gefter, ‘Don’t mention the F word’; F.S. Labini, N.L. Vasilyev, L. Pietronero & Y.V. Baryshev, ‘Absence of self-averaging and of homogeneity in the large scale galaxy distribution’, 2009, arxiv.org.
- The Static Universe, ch. 3.
8. Alternative cosmologies
In the mid-17th century Archbishop James Ussher of Ireland made the startling revelation that God created Heaven and Earth on Saturday evening, 22 October 4004 BC. The modern theory that the universe originated out of nothing 13.75 ± 0.11 billion years ago is not much of an improvement. Perhaps it won’t be long before big bang theorists tell us what day of the week the big bang occurred on! They are already labouring under the delusion that they know what was happening during the first trillionths of a second after the moment of creation of the entire universe, and are so mesmerized by their mathematical dexterity that they have overlooked the absurdity of something being created out of nothing. Mathematics is a vital tool of science, but equations alone cannot tell us whether or not a particular theory is correct; if the underlying assumptions are wrong, mathematics merely enables scientists to be wrong with confidence.
In 2004 New Scientist published an open letter from critics of the big bang. The statement, which has now been signed by over 400 scientists and researchers, includes the following:
The big bang today relies on a growing number of hypothetical entities, things that we have never observed – inflation, dark matter and dark energy are the most prominent examples. Without them, there would be a fatal contradiction between the observations made by astronomers and the predictions of the big bang theory. In no other field of physics would this continual recourse to new hypothetical objects be accepted as a way of bridging the gap between theory and observation. It would, at the least, raise serious questions about the validity of the underlying theory. ...
Today, virtually all financial and experimental resources in cosmology are devoted to big bang studies. Funding comes from only a few sources, and all the peer-review committees that control them are dominated by supporters of the big bang. As a result, the dominance of the big bang within the field has become self-sustaining, irrespective of the scientific validity of the theory.1
Most cosmologists regard the standard big bang model as sacrosanct. In 1951 it even received the blessing of Pope Pius XII – it is essentially ex-nihil creationism in a (pseudo-)scientific garb. Textbooks no longer treat cosmology as an open subject, and cosmologists are often intolerant of departures from the big bang faith. Researchers who question the prevailing orthodoxy tend to find it more difficult to obtain access to funding and equipment and to get their articles published. In the early 1980s Halton Arp was denied telescope time at Mt. Wilson and Palomar observatories because his observing programme was regarded as ‘worthless’, i.e. his discovery of redshift anomalies was very embarrassing to the big bang establishment.2 He moved to the Max Planck Institute in Germany to continue his work. Since then, his requests for time on other major ground-based and space telescopes have frequently been rejected.
There are several rival cosmological theories.3 The steady state theory was first put forward in 1948 by Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold and Hermann Bondi, and once enjoyed equal status with the big bang. Although it accepts the cosmological redshift and expanding space, it argues that the universe had no beginning and will exist forever, and that the matter density in space never changes because matter is continuously being created. In 1993 Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge and Jayant Narlikar published a modified version known as the quasi-steady state (QSS) model.4 It proposes that the universe alternately expands and contracts over a cycle of 50 billion years, but that over longer periods of time there is an overall expansion, though the universe never had zero volume. Instead of expansion being caused by continuous matter creation, it is attributed to mini-bangs or mini-creation events, e.g. in the centres of active galaxies.
Like the original theory, the QSS model attributes matter creation to a ‘creation field’, which exerts a repulsive force. Normal physical fields have positive energy, which is depleted when work is done. But a creation field is said to have ‘negative energy’, which becomes more negative and therefore stronger when it creates and moves matter. Narlikar and Burbidge admit that this amounts to ‘sleight of hand’ but insist that it is ‘a sound idea mathematically’ – an illustration of the inability of some theoreticians to distinguish between mathematical fictions and reality. The theory holds that ‘everything is made out of nothing, despite the saying attributed to Lucretius that only nothing can be created out of nothing’.5 The idea that explosive activity within galaxies causes a generalized expansion of space is rather peculiar, and even big bangers admit that space does not expand within gravitationally bound systems such as galaxies. QSS supporters do at least recognize the reality of redshift anomalies, and have helped to discover and document them.
Many scientists favour the model of an infinite, eternal, nonexpanding universe, subject to constant transformations. Halton Arp, for example, argues that the redshift of extragalactic objects is caused primarily by the tendency of particle mass to increase with age, and only secondarily by light losing energy on its journey through space. The reason all the more distant galaxies are redshifted is because we see them as they were when light left them, i.e. when they were much younger. About seven local galaxies are blueshifted. The standard view is that they must be moving towards us, but in Arp’s theory, they are simply older than our own galaxy, as we see them.6
Arp believes that matter is created continually – not from nothing, but from the materialization of mass-energy existing in a diffuse state, in the form of the all-pervading ‘quantum sea’ or zero-point field. The universe, he says, is constantly unfolding from many different points within itself. He also believes that after a certain interval elementary particles may decay, so that matter merges back into the quantum sea. The quantum vacuum or zero-point field is the name given to fluctuating electromagnetic radiation fields produced by random quantum fluctuations, which, according to quantum theory, persist even at a temperature of absolute zero (-273°C, or 0 K). There is, however, strong experimental evidence pointing to a subquantum, nonelectromagnetic ether composed of subtler grades of energy-substance, with both electric and nonelectric properties.7
As Hilton Ratcliffe says, in an eternal, infinite universe, stars and galaxies are all at different stages of their own local cycles of development. Celestial objects form a hierarchy of structures of ever-increasing size, without conceivable limit, all of them spinning and, for most of their lifetime, in equilibrium.8 Opponents of an infinite, eternal, nonexpanding universe argue that if there is an infinite number of stars, the whole of the night sky ought to be ablaze with light (this is known as Olbers’ paradox). This argument ignores the obvious fact (denied by orthodox science) that light must lose energy as it travels through space, so that light from stars beyond a certain distance would never reach us in a visible form.
The meta model developed by astronomer Tom Van Flandern9 proposes that the nonexpanding universe is not only infinite in space and time, but comprises objects and entities spanning an infinite range of sizes. There is nothing unique about our own scale of things; the universe should look essentially the same on all scales. Van Flandern proposes that there is a light-carrying medium and a gravity medium, which play an important role on our own scale, but that there are infinite numbers of other mediums composed of particles of every conceivable size; even what to us are galaxies may be particles in a medium on a super-cosmic scale.
The subquantum kinetics cosmology developed by Paul LaViolette10 proposes that physical matter emerges from a preexisting ether. LaViolette, too, believes that the redshift arises because photons lose energy while travelling through intergalactic space, and that the universe is not expanding. His theory also predicts that photons gain energy in certain regions of space, such as within galaxies. This ‘genic energy’ is said to be produced in the interior of all celestial bodies, and to help explain the origin of solar energy and the energy that powers nova, supernova and galactic core explosions.
Plasma cosmology was pioneered by Swedish astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Hannes Alfvén, beginning in the 1950s. It proposes that the universe is infinite in space and time, and its present supporters, along with proponents of the related ‘electric universe’ theory, tend to reject the expanding universe interpretation of the redshift.11 It envisions a universe crisscrossed by vast electrical currents and powerful magnetic fields, ordered and controlled by electromagnetism as well as gravity. Further details are presented in the next section.
- An open letter to the scientific community, cosmologystatement.org.
- Arp, Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies, pp. 165-71.
- Alternative Cosmology Group, cosmology.info.
- Narlikar & Burbidge, Facts and Speculations in Cosmology; Hoyle, Burbidge & Narlikar, A Different Approach to Cosmology.
- A Different Approach to Cosmology, p. 195.
- Arp, Seeing Red, pp. 225-52.
- See Worlds within worlds and The farce of modern physics, davidpratt.info.
- Ratcliffe, The Static Universe, pp. 163-4.
- Van Flandern, Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets, pp. 79-116.
- LaViolette, Genesis of the Cosmos, part 3.
- Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened, chs. 5 & 6; Eric J. Lerner, ‘Evidence for a non-expanding universe: surface brightness data from HUDF’, 2005, photonmatrix.com; Scott, The Electric Sky; Thornhill & Talbott, The Electric Universe.
9. The plasma universe
Any model of the universe needs to take account of plasma physics. Plasma – also called the fourth state of matter – is an ionized, electrically conducting gas consisting of a high density of electrons and ions (atoms that have gained or lost electrons). Over 99% of the ordinary physical matter in the universe is believed to exist in the plasma state, including stars, the outer atmospheres of planets, and interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic mediums. A significant feature of plasma is that its behaviour is scalable: giant cosmic plasmas appear to behave in much the same way that small laboratory plasmas do here on earth, which helps to explain fractal patterns in the universe.
Plasma can operate in three different modes depending on current density and plasma density – the stronger the electric current, the brighter the plasma:
- Dark current mode: e.g. earth’s ionosphere (it only emits visible light during auroras when excited by the influx of solar particles), solar wind (stream of charged particles); the plasma radiates radio waves.
- Normal glow mode: e.g. fluorescent and neon lights, auroras, emission nebulae, comet tails, sun’s corona; the plasma radiates in the visible portion of the spectrum.
- Arc mode: e.g. electric welding arcs, lightning, sun’s photosphere (visible surface), sun’s looping prominences, filaments in sunspot penumbrae, solar flares; the plasma radiates intensely over a wide range of frequencies, extending up to X-rays and gamma rays in stars, supernovae, quasars, and active galactic nuclei.
Plasma was first identified as the fourth state of matter in 1879 by William Crookes, a distinguished physicist and chemist, and also a prominent psychic investigator and member of the Theosophical Society. Crookes called plasma ‘radiant matter’. His experiments involved the use of an electrical discharge tube – a partially evacuated glass tube containing a positive electrode (anode) and negative electrode (cathode), also known as a Crookes tube. In 1897, J.J. Thomson identified the ‘cathode rays’ in Crookes tubes as streams of negatively charged subatomic particles (now called electrons).
A Crookes tube, in ordinary light (top) and lit by its own fluorescence when in operation (bottom). Electrons emitted by the cathode on the left produce a green glow when they strike the glass walls. The shadow cast by the metal cross shows that they travel in straight lines. The anode is at the bottom. (en.wikipedia.org)
Irving Langmuir, in 1928, was the first to use the word ‘plasma’ to describe an ionized gas on account of its lifelike, self-organizing, self-sustaining behaviour. Just as blood is able to isolate an intruding foreign body, plasma responds to charged objects by surrounding them with a protective sheath or cell wall, often called a double layer (of opposite charges). If there is significant voltage difference between two locations in a plasma, a double layer will form between them and most of the voltage difference will be contained in it. Double layers can accelerate particles to very high velocities and account for rapid pulsing phenomena; their breakdown is accompanied by an explosive release of energy.
High-intensity electric currents passing through plasma tend to follow a corkscrew (spiral) path; they are known as Birkeland currents, after their discoverer Kristian Birkeland (1867-1917). These filaments often occur in pairs and twist themselves into rope-like structures, compressing between them any material in the plasma – this is known as the Z-pinch effect. These swirling filaments have been observed in the laboratory, in the sun, in nebulae, and at the heart of our galaxy. Related phenomena include the red ‘sprites’, ‘elves’, blue jets, and other transient luminous events seen in the earth’s upper atmosphere and associated with electrical storms. The ubiquitous filamentation and cellular structures of space plasma clearly point to the operation of cosmic electricity. Birkeland currents can account for structures such as polar jets emerging in opposite directions from galactic cores and the associated synchrotron radiation far more readily than ‘supermassive black holes’, which supposedly accelerate particles to velocities approaching the speed of light by the force of gravity alone.
Part of the Veil Nebula, a twisting cosmic plasma located in Cygnus.
It is described as a supernova remnant. (apod.nasa.gov)
In the plasma cosmology model, galaxies, clusters and superclusters are formed from magnetically confined plasma vortex filaments. Laboratory experiments and computer simulations indicate that interacting Birkeland currents can pinch and twist themselves into the shapes of spiral galaxies.
Simulation of galaxy formation with two Birkeland currents.1
Radio images of a supernova (SN 1987) and a star (Betelgeuse) embedded in a web
of plasma filaments, reminiscent of a network of arteries.2 (fractaluniverse.org)
Electromagnetic forces can be up to 1039 times stronger than gravity. However, most astrophysicists still believe that electrical forces are of minor significance in explaining the formation and evolution of galaxies and multigalactic structures. Due to their very limited knowledge of plasma, they believe that charge separation and electric fields cannot exist in space because positive and negative charges would be attracted together, immediately short-circuiting any charge imbalance. Yet as far as space probes have gone, they have measured separated electrical charges – i.e. electric plasma. This is because plasmas are good conductors of electric current, but not perfect conductors as orthodox scientists assume.
Central region of the Cat’s Eye Nebula, a planetary nebula. Structures seen here that are characteristic of plasma behaviour include concentric spheres, rays, intertwining spirals, bubbles formed of filaments and networks of filaments. (apod.nasa.gov; thunderbolts.info)
Extended Cat’s Eye Nebula in false colour ‘showing the complex filamentary, cellular and bipolar helical plasma features that have no conventional explanation’.3 (apod.nasa.gov)
The false belief in neutral, ‘superconducting’ plasmas has led astrophysicists to assume that magnetic fields are ‘frozen’ or ‘trapped’ in them and therefore persist indefinitely – an assumption which makes them easier to model mathematically. This idea was originally put forward by Hannes Alfvén, but he later disowned it and urged scientists to ignore his earlier work on ‘magnetohydrodynamics’ (in which plasma behaviour is described by means of magnetism and equations applicable only to the flow of fluids). His plea went unheeded, and consequently astrophysicists tend to ignore the cosmic electric currents that produce and sustain magnetic fields, and they are unprepared to deal with electric discharge in plasma, which does not follow the neat rules of magnetohydrodynamics. They fail to realize that all moving plasma produces charge separation and electric currents. Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott write:
As a result, the mechanical language of wind and water pervades popular discussion of astronomy today. Rather than plasma discharge effects, astrophysicists see expanding superheated gas, gas flowing in rivers, rains of charged particles, shock fronts, eddy currents, windsocks, and ‘nozzles’ creating rivers of ‘hot gas’ light-years in length and the jet of the galaxy M87.4
Another fallacy, which astrophysicists commonly invoke to explain unexpected energetic phenomena, is that magnetic field lines (imaginary lines indicating the direction of a magnetic field) can somehow ‘break’, ‘merge’, ‘open’, ‘pile up’, ‘get tangled up’, and ‘reconnect’, accompanied by the release of energy.
A spiralling jet of high-energy electrons spanning 5000 light-years, emitted by galaxy M87 (apod.nasa.gov). Its discovery in 1956 confirmed predictions by plasma scientists.
Proponents of the electric universe model, such as Thornhill, Talbott, and Don Scott, point to various characteristics of stars that are difficult for the conventional scientific theory to explain but more readily understandable in terms of electric plasma and glow discharge.5
The mass of our sun is said to consist of 75% hydrogen, with most of the rest being helium; less than 1.6% consists of heavier elements (e.g. oxygen, carbon, neon, iron). Like most other stars, it is believed to be powered by the fusion of hydrogen into helium at its core, where the temperature would have to be nearly 16 million K. The explosion of a hydrogen bomb is an example of an uncontrolled nuclear fusion reaction. Exactly how a hydrogen fusion reaction can be controlled at the centre of sun is unknown. All efforts to achieve a sustained and controlled nuclear fusion reaction on earth have so far failed, despite being funded to the tune of billions of dollars over the past 50 years.
Mainstream theory dictates that thermonuclear fusion should generate neutrinos (hypothetical chargeless particles that barely interact with matter and can only be measured indirectly). For a long time measurements indicated that the quantity of electron neutrinos reaching the earth from the sun was only about a third of what was predicted. This problem was eventually ‘solved’ by assuming that electron neutrinos change into undetectable muon or tau neutrinos on the way from the sun. The electric sun theory proposes that fusion and neutrino production take place only near the sun’s surface, e.g. in sunspot penumbrae and in the double layer above the photosphere. This is consistent with the fact that neutrino output varies with the surface sunspot cycle and variations in the solar wind.
The photosphere is covered with ‘granules’, which are supposedly the tops of 150,000-mile-long convection columns, made up of rising matter transporting heat from the sun’s core. This process allegedly takes hundreds of thousands of years, yet granules can change shape and even disappear within hours. In the electric sun theory, the sun acts like the anode (positive terminal) in a laboratory plasma discharge, and granules resemble the bright ‘tufts’ sometimes seen above the anode, sustained by incoming electrons; they are the tops of tornadic discharges thousands of kilometres long and lasting only minutes. Above the photosphere lies the thin chromosphere, which is normally invisible but reveals a reddish glow during a total solar eclipse. Above the chromosphere lies the corona, which extends millions of kilometres into space and is most easily seen during a total eclipse.
Solar eclipse 1999, showing the corona and the thin (red) chromosphere. (en.wikipedia.org)
Sunspot showing umbra, penumbra and surrounding granules (tufts).
Sunspots are slightly cooler and less luminous than the rest of the photosphere, and appear dark. The standard speculation is that ‘strange magnetic waves’ and ‘tangled’ magnetic fields are obstructing the rise of heated gases. However, the orderly behaviour and detailed structure of the granules and filaments do not conform to the model of turbulent convection. In the electric sun model, sunspots’ powerful magnetic field is caused by currents punching a hole through the bright photospheric plasma. The dark umbra in the centre of sunspots allows us to look deeper into the sun’s cooler interior. The surrounding penumbra is composed of rope-like filaments that look like electric discharge vortices.
Coronal plasma loops, spanning 30 or more times the diameter of the earth.
Recorded in extreme ultraviolet light by the TRACE satellite. (apod.nasa.gov)
Dynamic solar phenomena such as flares, prominences, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are the result of intense currents causing the breakdown of the double layer, accompanied by the release of energy. The standard model ignores the electric currents and invokes the unscientific notion of ‘magnetic reconnection’.
On the basis of the radiation emitted by the sun’s photosphere, its temperature is calculated to be around 5780 K.* Above the surface, the temperature falls by up to 2000 K before rising as high as 2 million K in the lower corona. This is unexpected if the sun’s central core contains a nuclear fusion reactor. In the electric sun model, there is a double layer in the chromosphere between the high-voltage plasma in the photosphere and the low-voltage plasma of the lower corona. Positive ions moving beyond the photosphere are accelerated and form part of the solar wind (a stream of ions and electrons travelling at 400 to 750 km/s); at the same time, they lose side-to-side random motion and are dethermalized, so their apparent temperature drops to a minimum. When the high-speed particles collide with the surrounding plasma medium, their motion is randomized (and therefore rethermalized), giving rise to the very high temperature of the corona. This illustrates the limitations of the scientific notion of temperature.
*Temperature should not be confused with heat. Temperature is a measure of the random (Brownian) motion of matter particles. Heat is thermal energy, and depends not just on the average speed (kinetic energy) of particles, but also on how many particles there are in a particular volume of space.
This ultraviolet image shows a plasma torus around the sun’s equator. The same phenomenon occurs in laboratory plasma discharges to a positively charged, magnetized sphere. The torus may help to explain why the sun rotates faster at the equator than towards the poles.6
In the electric universe model, all celestial bodies are charged. The sun is the most positively charged body in the solar system and the focus of a glow discharge. Its electric field of influence, or plasmasphere, extends a hundred times further from the sun than the earth. Each planet is surrounded by its own plasmasphere (often called a magnetosphere). If a body such as a large meteor, asteroid or comet were to penetrate the earth’s plasma sheath (double layer), violent electric discharges would occur between the two bodies that might deflect the intruding body or break it up.
The sun’s cellular plasma sheath at the boundary of its plasmasphere protects the solar system as a whole from the surrounding galactic plasma (interstellar medium). Thornhill and Talbott write: ‘almost the entire voltage difference between the Sun’s own plasma sheath and its galactic environment occurs across the sheath of the heliosphere, whose electrical nature astronomers have yet to grasp. Thinking in mechanical terms, they imagine a “bow shock” where the plasma of the solar wind meets the interstellar medium.’7
Orthodox astronomers believe that, at the end of stars’ active lifetime (i.e. when the thermonuclear fusion processes that supposedly power them cease) they collapse under their own weight.8 After shedding their outer layers, stars up to 1.38 solar masses (over 97% of stars in our galaxy) will allegedly end up as white dwarfs, which are thought to be about the size of the earth and around a million times denser than the sun. In the case of more massive stars, collapse tends to be accompanied by a supernova explosion. Stars between about 1.38 and 2 solar masses are thought to end up as neutron stars, which allegedly consist almost entirely of neutrons and have a diameter of 20 to 40 km, with a density some 300 trillion times that of the sun. Some theorists think that stars above 2 to 3 solar masses might end up as ‘quark stars’, in which neutrons break down into their constituent, hypothetical up-quarks and down-quarks, some of which turn into strange quarks and form ‘strange matter’.
More massive stars will supposedly collapse into black holes – extremely dense objects in which gravity increases to infinity, crushing matter to an infinitesimal point of infinite ‘spacetime curvature’. Aside from the nonsensical mathematical games theorists like to play with infinity (nothing finite can become infinitely large or small!), electric universe proponents argue that matter compressed gravitationally becomes liquid or solid and further compression is prevented by electrical forces, with the result that stars cannot collapse into superdense objects, though some think that objects as dense as a neutron star could exist.
Astrophysicists believe that stars must have a mass of at least 75 times the mass of Jupiter or 7% of the mass of the sun for the core to be hot enough (at least 3 million K) for nuclear fusion to occur. Many dwarf stars do not meet these requirements but still emit faint light. Cool stars such as brown and red dwarfs should not be able to emit X-ray flares, yet observations show that they do. In the electric sun model, stars’ luminosity and temperature depend not just on their size but also on the current density at the radiating surface. A slight increase in the current density impinging on a dwarf operating near the upper boundary of the dark current mode could shift the plasma into glow mode and also produce X-rays. Moreover, stars under intense electrical stress can undergo sudden changes in luminosity, which are hard to explain by the fusion theory. It is worth remembering that stars’ luminosity varies in different bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. For instance, Sirius A (twice as massive as the sun) is the brightest star in the sky, while its companion Sirius B, a white dwarf, is 10,000 times fainter. But X-ray images show that Sirius B is more luminous than Sirius A.
Top: This optical image of Sirius A has been overexposed so that Sirius B can be seen as a faint pinprick of light to the lower left (en.wikipedia.org). Bottom: In this X-ray image Sirius B is far brighter than Sirius A (chandra.harvard.edu).
Orthodox astronomers believe that towards the end of their lives, certain stars (including our own sun) that have run out of nuclear fuel develop into red giants. These tend to expel their outer layers, which are then ionized by the hot, luminous core. The expanding glowing shell of ionized gas is known as a planetary nebula (a term coined in the 18th century because they resembled giant planets when viewed through small telescopes). Some of these nebulae are roughly spherical, but most have a wide variety of other shapes (e.g. the Cat’s Eye Nebula above). In the electric universe model, a planetary nebula can result from nuclear reactions caused by a star being under abnormal electrical stress. Since these nebulae are composed of plasma instead of merely hot gases, their filamentary, cellular structures and development involve electrical discharge rather than just an explosion and shock waves.
According to the standard view, a nova is a cataclysmic nuclear explosion caused by hydrogen accreting onto the surface of a white dwarf star from a companion star. The explosion blows gases away and produces an extremely bright outburst of light. The rise to peak brightness can be very rapid or gradual, after which the brightness declines steadily. In the electric universe model, a nova can occur if the electrical stress on a star’s surface is very high; it may fission into two stars or merely eject its outer layers.
A supernova explosion is a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. According to the orthodox model, it occurs when the core of an ageing massive star stops generating energy from nuclear fusion, and undergoes sudden gravitational collapse into a neutron star or black hole. The imploding layers ‘rebound’ when they hit the core, resulting in an explosion that expels much of a star’s material at up to 10% of the speed of light, sweeping up an expanding shell of gas and dust called a supernova remnant. In the electric universe theory, supernovae involve catastrophic electrical discharges focused on a star, as is shown by their frequently non-spherical shapes and other characteristics.
As already mentioned, stars that have experienced a supernova are generally believed to collapse into neutron stars or black holes. Rapidly spinning neutron stars are known as pulsars; these tiny stars can supposedly spin up to thousands of times a second without flying apart, emitting a rotating beam of X-rays. Plasma physicists have shown that complex pulsar signals can be explained by plasma discharges, perhaps between members of binary star systems.
Star SK-69 202 exploded on 24 February 1987, becoming supernova 1987A (nasa.gov). It is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a companion galaxy to the Milky Way. The stellar blast is heating up plasma in the vicinity and causing it to glow. The luminous beaded ring around the exploded star is about a light-year across and is thought to have been shed about 20,000 years before the star exploded, but this leaves the bright spots unexplained. The two fainter rings above and below the star are on the same axis and show similar bright spots. The ultraviolet flash from the supernova explosion ‘turned on’ the rings several months after the event. The expanding supernova ejecta collided with the inner ring around 2001, causing it to emit X-rays. According to the electric star model, the spots are the cylindrical Birkeland currents around the expired star and are typical features of electric discharge in the laboratory. The supernova explosion appears to have made visible the classic ‘hourglass’ shape or ‘Z-pinch’ configuration of plasma around the star. Astronomers have failed to detect the neutron star that they believe must be left behind at the centre of the supernova remnant.9
A weakness of the electric universe theory is that stars and galactic centres etc. are believed to be powered solely by high-voltage electric currents travelling through space, and of unknown origin. Fluctuations in these currents are said to explain the sunspot cycle. It is claimed that since there is no fusion going on in stars’ cores, there is probably not much happening within them at all, and that stars do not evolve with age, but merely respond to changes in their immediate environment. Since prominent electric universe advocates tend to ignore the existence of an energetic ether, they do not see any other possible source of internal energy.
Comet nuclei appear to be solid, irregularly shaped, cratered rocks from about 100 metres to over 40 km across. They differ from asteroids in their highly eccentric orbits and sometimes spectacular displays in the heavens. Over 4000 comets are known to pass through the solar system, with orbital periods ranging from a few years to hundreds of thousands of years, but only about one per year is visible to the naked eye and many of these are faint and unremarkable. Some comets eventually become inactive, others fall into the sun, or smash into a planet or other bodies, and small comets may evaporate completely while passing very close to the sun. Some comets have been observed to break up into fragments.
Long-period comets (with orbital periods of more than 200 years) are believed to originate in the Oort Cloud, a hypothetical cloud of several trillion icy objects located from about 50 to 1250 times farther from the sun than Pluto. If true, a significant percentage of comets should be on hyperbolic orbits and launched out of the solar system by the sun’s gravity but observations contradict this.10 Short-period comets are believed to originate in the Kuiper Belt, beyond the orbit of Neptune.
Comet nuclei are popularly described as ‘dirty snowballs’, as they are thought to be composed of rock, dust, water ice, and frozen gases. When a comet approaches the inner solar system, solar radiation is believed to vaporize ices in the nucleus. Gases and dust expand around the nucleus to generate the glowing coma and are frequently swept back by the sun’s radiation pressure and solar wind to form comets’ enormous ion and dust tails. The coma is sometimes larger than the sun, while the tail can stretch 150 million km or more.
The nuclei of comets Tempel 1 and Hartley 2, as imaged by NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft. Tempel 1 is 7.6 km in the longest dimension. Hartley 2 is 2.2 km long, and is emitting visible jets. (en.wikipedia.org)
There are various problems with the standard comet model. Very little evidence of ice has been found. Recent observations have shown that comets have dry dusty or rocky surfaces, and many astronomers believe the ice must be hiding beneath the crust. Several comets have been seen discharging beyond the orbit of Jupiter, too far from the sun for a ‘snowball’ to melt. Astronomers have expressed astonishment at the number of jets of gas and dust a comet can emit, and the fact that the jets can emanate from the dark, unheated side of comet nuclei as well as the illuminated side. The violent jets seen exploding from Halley’s Comet in 1985 were far more energetic than explicable by the sublimation of ice in the sun’s heat. Another surprising discovery is that comets can emit X-rays, something usually associated with very high-temperature bodies.11
Rocky nucleus of comet Wild 2 (5 km in diameter) superimposed on its plasma discharge. The intensely active surface propels dust and gas streams into space, leaving a trail millions of kilometres long. (nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov)
The electric universe theory takes a different view of comets.12 All solar system bodies are negatively charged with respect to the sun, and as a comet accelerates toward the sun, the strength of the electric field within the comet’s plasma sheath steadily increases until the plasma discharge suddenly switches from dark mode to glow mode, producing the coma. Increasing electrical stress causes the discharge to switch to the arc mode, and cathode arcs begin to dance over the nucleus, giving it a star-like appearance, and machining the surface into craters, terraces and mesas. The wandering cathode arcs, seen as white spots in close-up images, also burn the surface black, which is why comet nuclei are blacker than copier toner. Rock is electrically sputtered from the surface and accelerated into space to form well-collimated jets. Ejected ionized material is guided electromagnetically into the filamentary plasma tail. Electrical discharges from a comet surface can induce large electric fields within subsurface rock, leading to breakdown and explosive fragmentation of the comet nucleus.13
Comet West, March 1976 (en.wikipedia.org).
- Scott, The Electric Sky, pp. 66-7.
- Hill, Electro-Fractal Universe, ch. 8.
- Thornhill & Talbott, The Electric Universe, p. 35.
- Ibid., p. 27.
- The Electric Sky, chs. 10, 11, 14; The Electric Universe, ch. 3.
- The Electric Universe, p. 68.
- Ibid., pp. 61, 71.
- Star, White dwarf, Neutron star, Black hole, en.wikipedia.org.
- The Electric Universe, pp. 82-3; SN 1987A, en.wikipedia.org.
- Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets, pp. 182-4; Oort cloud, en.wikipedia.org.
- Comet, en.wikipedia.org.
- The Electric Universe, ch. 4.
- Thunderbolts Project, Elenin and the mystery of exploding comets, youtube.com.
10. Theosophical cosmology
According to the theosophical tradition, or ageless wisdom, the universe is infinite and eternal. Within the boundless immensity of space, countless worlds, on every conceivable scale, populated and in fact composed of living, evolving entities at different stages of development, are constantly appearing and disappearing like ‘sparks of eternity’, passing through their cycles of birth, life, death, and rebirth. Furthermore, physical matter makes up only one small octave in an infinite spectrum of consciousness-substance, and there are endless interpenetrating, interacting worlds and planes, both grosser and more ethereal than our own, which are beyond our range of perception but are just as material to their own inhabitants as our own world is to us.
The universe is worked and guided from within outwards; more ethereal planes exercise a formative and organizing influence on lower planes, just as our physical bodies are ensouled by subtler elements of our constitution. The forces that move and shape matter reflect the patterns and prototypes imprinted on higher planes (the ‘universal mind’) in previous evolutionary cycles; an instinctive intelligence thrills through nature.1 The general theosophical term for the forces of nature is ‘fohat’, which is commonly associated with electricity.2 H.P. Blavatsky defines it as ‘the essence of cosmic electricity’, ‘in the universe of manifestation the ever-present electrical energy and ceaseless destructive and formative power’, ‘the universal propelling vital force’, representing ‘the active (male) potency of the shakti (female reproductive power) in nature’.3
Evolution and involution
Celestial bodies are born, evolve, die, and reembody. They can become bigger or smaller, approach one another or move apart. They can eject or absorb matter and radiation, explode, fission, collide, and merge. Space itself, however, is boundless and eternal. It cannot explode into being or annihilate itself. Nor can it expand or contract. G. de Purucker called the theory of an expanding universe or, even worse, expanding space ‘purely imaginary’, ‘a scientific fairly-tale’, and ‘all wrong’. He argued that the redshift of light from distant galaxies might be caused by light undergoing some form of absorption or retardation as it passes through the ether of space before reaching earth.4 He also wrote:
Occultism affirms that in all things both great and small, whether a universe, a sun, a human being, or any other entity, there is a constant secular cyclical diastole and systole, similar to that of the human heart. [This cosmic heartbeat] is nothing at all like the expanding universe. The framework or corpus of the universe, whether we mean by this term the galaxy or an aggregate of galaxies, is stable both in relative structure and form for the period of its manvantara [active lifetime] – precisely as the human heart is, once it has attained its full growth and function.5
Hindu mythology speaks of the inbreathing and outbreathing of Brahma, the cosmic divinity, when worlds are evolved forth from, and later withdrawn into, the bosom of Brahma. Some people have drawn parallels between this idea and that of an oscillating universe in which space alternately expands and contracts. But there is a more sensible interpretation. In The Secret Doctrine, when discussing the origin of worlds, H.P. Blavatsky quotes the following from the Stanzas of Dzyan: ‘The mother [space] swells, expanding from within without like the bud of the lotus’ (stanza 3:1). She adds the following explanation:
The expansion ‘from within without’ of the Mother, called elsewhere the ‘waters of space,’ ‘universal matrix,’ etc., does not allude to an expansion from a small centre or focus, but, without reference to size or limitation or area, means the development of limitless subjectivity into as limitless objectivity. ... It implies that this expansion, not being an increase in size – for infinite extension admits of no enlargement – was a change of condition.6
In other words, expansion can refer to the emanation or unfolding of steadily denser planes or spheres from the spiritual summit of a hierarchy, until the lowest and most material world is reached. At the midpoint of the evolutionary cycle, the reverse process begins: the lower worlds gradually dematerialize or etherealize and are infolded or indrawn into the higher realms; the heavens are ‘rolled up as a scroll’ (Isaiah 34:4). Thus, outbreathing and inbreathing can refer to the expansion of the One into the many, and the subsequent reabsorption of the many into the One.
The evolution and involution of worlds does not mean that space itself pops into existence out of nothingness, expands like elastic, and later contracts and vanishes into nothingness. It is the worlds within space – planets, stars, etc. – that materialize and etherealize. The infinite totality of worlds and planes not only infill space but are space.
According to theosophy, no thing or entity – whether atom, human, planet, star, galaxy, or aggregate of galaxies – appears randomly out of nowhere. A physical entity is born because an inner entity or soul is returning to embodiment, and each new embodiment is the karmic result of the preceding one. There is no absolute beginning or end to evolution, only relative starting places and stopping (or resting) places. Planets reembody several times during the lifetime of a solar system, and stars reembody many times during the lifetime of a galaxy.
Astronomers estimate that our Milky Way galaxy is 13.2 billion years old, i.e. about half a billion years younger than the supposed age of the entire universe. Theosophy, on the other hand, indicates that our galaxy is hundreds of trillions of years old. The major cycle (or maha-manvantara) of which our own solar system is part is said to last 311,040,000,000,000 years, and we are currently halfway through it, during which time 18,000 planetary embodiments have been completed.7
Mainstream science says that our solar system formed 4.57 billion years ago from the collapse of part of a giant molecular cloud. It speculates that in about 5 billion years, once all the hydrogen fuel in its core has been converted into helium, the sun will become a red giant; helium fusion at the core will begin producing carbon and oxygen, causing the outer layers to expand and engulf the earth. Eventually the outer layers will be thrown off and become a planetary nebula, while the stellar core will become a white dwarf and slowly cool and fade over many billions of years.
Again, theosophy suggests a much older age for the sun. The exact figures have not been disclosed but the information available allows a rough estimate. The earth is about 2 billion years old (compared to the figure of 4.54 billion years given by science), and its total lifetime will last 4.32 billion years, followed by a rest period (pralaya) of the same length. In each solar manvantara each planet reembodies seven times; the earth is currently halfway through its fifth embodiment.8 These figures imply that the sun is about 37 billion earth-years old and will exist for at least another 20 billion years.
Higher states of matter
Leaving exotic dark matter and dark energy aside, since these are fictions invented to salvage the big bang, over 99% of the matter in the physical universe is believed to exist in the plasma state. Whereas most scientists regard the sun as a ball of plasma (or fourth-state matter), theosophy says that the sun’s interior consists largely of matter in its fifth, sixth, and seventh states – states unknown to scientists on earth.9 What is currently called ‘plasma’ therefore includes finer, subtler grades of physical matter. Nebulae, too, are said to consist of matter in its three highest states; the dark nebulae consist of dormant matter, the remnants of dead worlds, and they begin to condense and become more structured and increasingly luminous after a new cycle of world-building and evolutionary activity dawns.10
While there is no doubt that heavier elements are synthesized from hydrogen and other elements in stars and nebulae,11 theosophy says that the sun is powered mainly by an influx of energy from inner planes of its constitution, rather than by thermonuclear fusion. The sun is the heart and brain of the solar system and a storehouse of vital-electric energies. It emits huge quantities of radiation and plasma (the ‘solar wind’) on our own subplane. Some of the energies and ‘rivers of lives’ that the sun emits are said to circulate through the solar system before returning to the heart of the sun.12
Based on observations combined with various theoretical assumptions, astronomers believe that white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes are very dense, compact objects. However, their true nature and the state of matter involved are unknown. It is commonplace nowadays to say that the centres of galaxies house black holes. The central, nonluminous structure in the centre of the Milky Way is a complex radio source known as Sagittarius A*, obscured by dust clouds. Mainstream astronomers believe that it is a superdense black hole of about 4 million solar masses. However, the core of galaxies, like stars, emits enormous quantities of matter and radiation, whereas black holes can only destroy matter. X-ray emission and polar jets are sometimes attributed to energy released by the accretion disk formed by matter falling into a black hole, but this theory faces serious problems.13
In theosophy, the term ‘central sun’ is used to refer, among other things, to the galactic centre. By analogy with our own sun, Sagittarius A* must consist of subtler states of matter than the four states known to official science. The central sun is an ‘ever-emitting life-centre’, existing in a ‘laya’ (highly ethereal) condition.14 There is a constant stream of energy-substance from one plane to another. The ‘creation’ of matter (i.e. condensation of ethereal into physical matter) is an ongoing process in planets, stars, nebulae, galactic centres, etc., and ceases only during pralayas. The reverse cyclic process is the disintegration of matter into radiation, i.e. its transformation into subtler grades of spirit-substance.15
Birth and death of stars and planets
All visible stars, planets, and moons are part of a ‘chain’ of 12 globes, existing on seven planes. There is one globe on the highest plane of any particular hierarchy, and one on the lowest, with two globes existing on each of the intermediate five planes. The same rule applies to comets, nebulae, etc.16 In our own solar system all the globes we see are the lowest globes of a chain hierarchy, but this is not the case in every solar system we can see. This helps to explain why most of the stars in our galaxy are members of binary or multi-star systems, in which two or more stars orbit around one another.17
Schematic representation of the twelve globes of a planetary or solar chain.
During each planetary embodiment, or manvantara, 10 life-waves or kingdoms of monads (consciousness-centres) – three elemental kingdoms, the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms, and three spiritual or dhyani-chohanic kingdoms – make seven rounds through all the globes, spending hundreds of millions of years on each one. During a solar manvantara there are seven planetary manvantaras; the globes of a planetary chain successively embody one subplane lower in each of the first four embodiments, then one subplane higher in each of the last three embodiments. After seven planetary embodiments, the entire solar system sinks into a solar pralaya; the sun ‘is then extinguished, suddenly, like a flash of light’.18 This event corresponds to supernova explosions and some nova explosions.19 Scientists believe that only very massive stars undergo supernova explosions, because in our own galaxy a supernova only occurs about once every 30 to 50 years. The most massive stars supposedly only last a few million years, because they burn hydrogen very rapidly. However, as indicated above, the active life of most stars is probably far longer than commonly believed.
The Crab Nebula, 6 light-years wide, is described as the expanding remnant of a supernova explosion. The star lay 6500 light-years away, and its violent explosion in 1054 was recorded by Japanese and Chinese astronomers and Native Americans. The orange filaments are the star’s tattered remains and consist mostly of hydrogen. Blue in the filaments in the outer part of the nebula represents oxygen, green is sulphur, and red is oxygen. The centre of the nebula contains a pulsar (believed to be the collapsed, ultradense core of the exploded star), which powers the nebula’s interior bluish glow. (en.wikipedia.org)
The Ring Nebula in the Lyra constellation is a planetary nebula located some 2000 light-years from earth. Scientists believe that this shell of plasma was expelled thousands of years ago by a red giant star, which was passing through the last stage in its evolution before becoming a white dwarf. The colours are approximately true colours. Blue represents helium, which is mainly located close to the central star, green represents oxygen, and red represents nitrogen. (en.wikipedia.org)
G. de Purucker says that during its lifetime, a star is extremely ethereal, with its outer luminous veils being far more ethereal than its hidden interior. As it ages, it gradually becomes less radiant, and its body becomes denser and more material until, just before it dies, it is on its way to becoming solid. At death, when the inner controlling life is withdrawn, the star explodes in a tremendous outburst of light, and innumerable fragments of various sizes are scattered through space to be swept up aeons later by the reembodiment of the sun which has just died, and also by other stars, along with planets and comets.20 The more spiritual parts of the star’s luminous garments vanish instantly, while the more material parts may take some time before disappearing completely. The planets die and disintegrate and become part of the sun’s body or direct environment before the sun expires and explodes.21 The death of the human body is likewise said to be accompanied by a flash of ethereal light, not visible to ordinary vision, ushering from every pore.
When humans die, their lower vehicles – physical body, astral model-body, and kama-rupa (astral shell) – slowly decay on their respective subplanes, while the human soul enters a dreamlike state of rest (devachan), and the spiritual and divine selves are in a nirvanic state. Something similar happens in the case of planets and stars. The physical and astral globes sooner or later disintegrate and their materials are dispersed and reused by nature in the formation of new worlds. The higher principles or life forces of a globe are transferred to a laya-centre, a ‘sleeping centre’ of relatively homogeneous, primordial matter, located outside our solar system.22
When the time for a new solar manvantara arrives, descending life-streams reawaken a highly ethereal solar laya-centre resting in space. On each plane it begins to differentiate and condense, and becomes a rotating, visible nebula, which then begins to wander through space as a ‘solar comet’. It moves slowly at first, but gathers speed, picking up material and becoming denser as it goes. Finally it reaches the location of the former solar system, where it settles. The cometary nebula has now become a vast disk-shaped body, with nuclei scattered through it, like organs in a body. In the centre is the largest nucleus, which develops into a sun, while the smaller nuclei around it grow to be the beginning of planets. The substance of the nebula is slowly absorbed by the sun and growing planets.23
The Orion Nebula is believed to be the closest region of massive star formation to earth.
It is about 1344 light-years away and measures 24 light-years across. (en.wikipedia.org)
At the very beginning of a new solar manvantara the planets condense within the solar nebula from which the sun itself is born; after that, each planet reembodies as a comet, in a process analogous to that of a reembodying solar system. When a planetary chain dies, its globes send their higher principles (or vital-mental-spiritual energies) into their own laya-centres (contained within the chain laya-centre), which remain dormant for ages outside the solar system, while other planets are going through their own evolutionary cycles. When the time for a new embodiment arrives, life impulses from higher planes reawaken the laya-centre and it becomes an ethereal nebula. Then it begins to wander through space as a comet, becoming more and more dense, growing partly from the energy-substances emanating from the indwelling monad and partly from life-atoms (from physical to divine) that previously formed their various vehicles, which are magnetically attracted to those monads. Eventually it is drawn back to the same solar system, and settles into an orbit around the sun, where it continues to accrete cosmic dust and larger bodies. Some short-period comets are on their way to rebecoming planets in our solar system.24
Once a comet in the highest states of physical matter has settled into an orbit around the sun, the elemental kingdoms, guided by the spiritual kingdoms, begin their activities, and gradually build a luminous, highly ethereal globe. When this stage finishes, the first round begins. The process of solidification or materialization proceeds until the middle of the fourth round, after which the globes and various families of monads gradually etherealize and spiritualize until they regain their original nirvanic state, enriched by their evolutionary experiences in the lower realms of matter.25
- See Key concepts of theosophy and Hierarchies: worlds visible and invisible, davidpratt.info.
- H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Theosophical University Press (TUP), 1977 (1888), 1:76, 85, 109-12, 119, 139, 145; G. de Purucker, Occult Glossary, 2nd ed., 1996, pp. 50-1.
- H.P. Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary, Theos. Co., 1973 (1892), pp. 120-1.
- G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, TUP, 2nd ed., 1940, pp. 435-8fn; G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, TUP, 1974, pp. 80-1; G. de Purucker, Esoteric Teachings, Point Loma Publications, 1987, 3:28-30.
- Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 80-1.
- The Secret Doctrine, TUP, 1977 (1888), 1:62-3; see also 1:4, 11-2, 41.
- Rounds and manvantaras: an outline, davidpratt.info.
- Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 293-8, 330-1; A.L. Conger (ed.), The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948, 1:33; G. de Purucker, Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979, pp. 62, 66-7, 375-6; H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Theosophical Publishing House, 1950-91, 5:155-63; The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, TUP, 2nd ed., 1926, pp. 162-5 / TPH, chron. ed., 1993, pp. 319-21.
- Occult Glossary, pp. 33-4; Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 127-8; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p. 66; The Secret Doctrine, 1:101, 588-90.
- The Secret Doctrine, 1:595-6.
- Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 299-303.
- See Big bang, black holes, and common sense and Black holes, redshifts, and bad science, davidpratt.info.
- The Secret Doctrine, 2:240fn.
- The Esoteric Tradition, pp. 143-4, 446-55.
- Occult Glossary, pp. 52, 130; The Esoteric Tradition, p. 172.
- The Esoteric Tradition, p. 182; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p. 525; see also The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, TUP, 2nd ed., pp. 451-2 / chron. ed., 1993, p. 370.
- Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p. 510.
- G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, TUP, 1973, pp. 327-8.
- Ibid., pp. 324-9; The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, 1:256-7; Blavatsky Collected Writings, 10:402-3.
- The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, 1:24-8, 2:137.
- The Secret Doctrine, 1:147, 155-6, 173; Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 136-7; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 550-1.
- Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 126-8; Studies in Occult Philosophy, pp. 325-7; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 60-2.
- Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 133-8; Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 59-63, 66-7, 78-80, 592; The Esoteric Tradition, p. 193.
- Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 197; The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, 1:256-7.
Big bang, black holes, and common sense
Exploding the big bang