Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Has the big bang theory been disproved?

It seems that most of the "science writers" have changed their job to the permanent promotion of low-quality and downright crackpot papers that are chosen not by their cleverness or according to the scientific evidence but by their "audacity to overthrow (and I really mean 'revert') all the paradigms of modern physics". As I was told later, Anthony Watts has become an inseparable component of this cesspool.

Almost on a daily basis, the readers are served wonderful stories about loons who have found something wrong with string theory or inflationary cosmology, nutcases who don't believe the Higgs boson, whackadoodles who have "disproved" the uncertainty principle or quantum mechanics or its fundamentally probabilistic character, nut jobs who have violated the rules of relativity and sent signals faster than light, and the persistent authors of a few other "widely expected paradigm shifts".

Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but a scientific revolution that would "confirm" elementary laymen's misconceptions about the contemporary science and that would simply return the picture of the world to the "previous iteration" has never occurred and most likely will never occur so the probability is virtually 100% that all these "paradigm shift" stories will always be just junk.

Just a week ago, the would-be science media were full of new stories claiming that the black holes don't exist which were inspired by a "gravity's rainbow" preprint by Ahmed Farag Ali and two co-authors. You may want to remember the Egyptian name I just mentioned. Why?

Because in recent 2 days, the news outlets have switched to a (not so) new fad: there has been no big bang!

I have written a couple of pedagogic blog posts explaining why it is physically right to say that the Universe began with a singularity even if quantum gravity is taken into account. But if you really want to talk about the pure textbook stuff, Ethan Siegel reminds you about the two meanings of the words "big bang", why the big bang did occur, after all, and what's the evidence that it did.

But I want to write a few words about the weird four-page paper – recently accepted to PLB – that has inspired this "big bang is dead" avalanche of delusions in the media. The preprint
Cosmology from quantum potential
was written by Ahmed Farag Ali (Egypt) and Saurya Das (Canada). The first question that a TRF reader may be asking now is: Haven't I already seen the name of Ahmed Farag Ali somewhere? The second thing that a laymen may want to notice is that this paper has, after 10 months, just one non-selfie citation. That's not too many, you know. Papers that are really transforming physics may get close to 10,000 citations, like Maldacena's AdS/CFT.

The third thing that attentive readers won't overlook is that the preprint isn't really "all about disproving the big bang theory". You will have a hard time to see that "the big bang is no longer the case" is a natural title by which the inkspillers may summarize the preprint.

The fourth aspect of the paper is that it will remind the Czech readers of the "puppy and kitty are baking a cake" fairy-tale by Josef Čapek, a Czech writer and painter (see the picture at the top and more images). You know, when these two animals (who speak Czech) were baking the cake, to celebrate the puppy's name day, they added all the ingredients they liked: sugar, salt, jam, a stinky ripened soft cheese from Olomouc, peanuts, cucumbers, bones, four mice, onions, chocolate, a sauce, garlic, lard, a pot of sour cream, pepper, sweeties, cottage cheese, gingerbread, vinegar, cinnamon, one goose head, and raisins, among other things. They didn't throw any bread to their wonderful cake because kittens and puppies don't like bread too much.

When they were finished with this yummy cake, a big evil dog arrived and devoured it. Good for the kitty and the puppy because you may imagine how the dog was feeling when he ate it. Incidentally, I think that there exist deep cultural differences between the nations and children in other nations, perhaps including the U.S., are being taught that this kind of a cake is exactly what you should be baking and doing with your life! ;-)

At any rate, the preprint is analogous to the cake. Even though it is just four pages long, they have added quite some unusual ingredients:
  1. the bold idea that the usual picture of dark matter could be wrong
  2. their belief that dark energy, as usually described, is almost certainly wrong
  3. deformation of the geodesics into "Bohmian trajectories", an idea that Das learned from his teacher Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri 60 years ago
  4. the proposal that the graviton is effectively massive, with a tiny mass of \(10^{-41}\GeV\), so that the curvature due to the cosmological constant may be attributed to the mass instead
  5. the Bose-Einstein condensate of gravitons which isn't the trivial thing you would expect
  6. a wrong conceptual idea that the singularities are the main enemy that has to be fought against: this is a part of the broader loop-quantum-gravity-like culture and Das has co-written papers with Abhay Ashtekar and similar authors
and many others. That's quite a cake. I need to emphasize that most of these ideas completely and conceptually disagree with the state-of-the-art physical theories used to describe the Universe; according to what we seem to know, these ideas are wrong. And they disagree in many respects; there seem to several independent radical "paradigm shifts" in the paper, if I spin their multi-dimensional crackpottery in a positive way.

At least, CBS is so far not modifying (or inserting "doubts" into) this TBBT theme song by Barenaked Ladies whose lyrics is perfectly accurate up to the moment when the Universe is said to collapse again, of course. ;-) That part of the song will be mitigated thanks to the cosmological constant. And of course, Barenaked Ladies are actually Four Dressed Gentlemen. I hope that you may trust everything else.

Nevertheless, the ideas may be interesting enough for physicists to think about them. Can't one replace the effects attributed to the dark energy – and perhaps even dark matter – by something like the supertiny graviton mass etc.? Can't there be a new type of a Bose-Einstein condensate of gravitons?

Is there any physically defensible way to deform the geodesic equation so that it would mathematically resemble the equations of the de Broglie-Bohm pilot wave theory? If you want to use this "brilliant idea", what will happen with locality and the equivalence principle? Are the changes a lethal problem?

I think it's unlikely – the probability is below 1% – that any of these "truly radical" changes of the paradigm may be right. But it seems virtually impossible that their combination – the "cake baked by the kitty and the puppy" – is the right way to rewrite cosmology. So many things seem so arbitrary and the ease with which they ignore what is actually known (what has been discovered after decades of work to agree with millions of observations) is blinding and suggests that they're as bad physicists – people with incredibly low standards – as the kitty and the puppy as cooks. They simply write random sentence and throw assorted half-baked weird ideas into the mix because they may ask themselves: Why not?

Your humble correspondent will spend some extra time with the ideas above, anyway. ;-) But the way how this weird paper was presented in the would-be science media was atrocious, indeed. However, we have gotten used to such things so I am no longer shocked. For the "science writers", this is an example of the business-as-usual, indeed.

Now I see that the "puppy and kitty" have been translated as "doggie and pussycat". Apologies for the non-standard notation. ;-)


  1. Dear Lubos: you said 27 march 2014:
    e.g.” the closer to the Big Bang we dive, the more uncertain our knowledge
    about the phenomena becomes etc.”

    So the Big Bang singularity could be a
    huge black hole nucleus, containing already all the universal stringy particles
    compressed together by the decreasing pressure of the collapsing Higgs vacuum
    of the former (multi-) Universe.
    Then the big bang could be the
    fractal shaped splitting and evaporation of this BB nucleus into the Lyman
    Alpha system creating local Black hole splinters and local Quark Gluon plasma
    with- or even without local reionisation See:

  2. I know from a very reliable source that this paper was previously submitted to PRD and rejected.

  3. The models are wrong because of the initial assumption that without GH gases the troposphere would have been isothermal. We know this assumption is made because we know the 255K temperature is at about 5Km altitude, and yet they say the surface would have been the same 255K. From there they get their sensitivity by assuming water vapor makes rain forests about 30 to 40 degrees hotter than dry regions and carbon dioxide adds a bit of warming also. In fact none of that happens.

    The assumption regarding isothermal conditions is inherently applying the Clausius "hot to cold" statement which is just a corollary of the Second Law which only applies in a horizontal plane. That we know because it is clearly specified (as here) that the entropy equation is derived by assuming that changes in molecular gravitational potential energy can be ignored. It is those changes which actually cause the temperature gradient to evolve, so we must always remember that sensible heat transfers are not always from warmer to cooler regions in a vertical plane in a gravitational field


    So they cannot prove that the Clausius statement they use to get their assumed isothermal conditions is correct in a vertical column of a planet's troposphere, and so they cannot prove the fundamental building block upon which they built the GH conjecture.

    Any questions are probably already answered here:

  4. I learned about this paper yesterday and decided to read it- the last time when i studied QM and GR was decades ago and probably I am missing something but to me it looks nonsensical and as far as I remember from the QM lectures the Bohmian mechanics was disproved shortly after the WWII- why the hell someone still cares about this???
    Also- the big question is HOW THIS THING PASSED THE PEER REVIEW???

  5. I was quite disgusted by the post at WUWT on this paper by people who have zero knowledge of GR or QM. They make the assumption that the paper has merit and they gleefully seem to enjoy a challenge to existing science. The term "settled science" has been used time and again by the warmist crowd and the implication is that physicists somehow believe that our modern understandings are settled but we all know that everything is an approximation to some reality...and physicists are striving to improve our understandings.

  6. Hi PhysicsGroup,

    I came across these issues before: you are incorrect in your isothermal 'initial assumption', and incorrect in your assertion that gravity causes a temperature gradient.

    If you take a spinning planet, where part of the surface is heated during the day and let cool at night, you get the average temperature of Earth as about 254 - 255 K (neglecting GH effect). See here , which includes day and night, and latitudes from pole to pole, for details. Nothing isothermal is assumed - this just takes spherical geometry, solar power, emissivity, rotating planet and albedo. The moon is a different story, due to very large differences between day/night temperature.

    The isothermal temperature profile of a gas under gravity has been solved for a long time. I did a numerical calculation here and an analytical proof here . Even though none of this is new, of course I like my versions better than the others (!), and gravity is very much included.

  7. Dear Jack, good that you have prepared me, thank you! The title Anthony Watts chose is

    Another ‘settled science’ topic is not so settled after all – Big Bang theory questioned

    Even though he previously repeatedly hyped cold fusion and similar garbage, I must still exclaim.

    Holy crap, I can't believe he is *this* stupid.

  8. Please explain "incorrect in your assertion that gravity causes a temperature gradient." I thought the adiabatic lapse rate was caused by a parcel of air moving vertically in a gravitational field. The derivations I have seen have been simple applications of the First Law.

  9. Yes, that's fine. However, that always applies to non-equilibrium situations - for example, you need a hot spot on the ground or a gust of wind to create a parcel in the first place. What PhysicsGroup is asserting is that the presence of gravity causes a gradient which would be present even for a static column. From his website you find 'So molecules at the top (with more potential energy) have less kinetic energy', implying lower temperature higher up, and that gravity has been 'ignored' in standard thermodynamics. Neither of these is true. I was intrigued by the idea that molecules higher up should have less kinetic energy, so should be colder, but this does not happen because temperature refers to a *distribution* of energies, and surprisingly (to some), the distribution stays the same so the temperature stays the same.

  10. Incidentally, the fourth Google hit for "massive gravity" is

  11. I was also disturbed by the post at WUWT, and the comments were worse, it was a crackpot feeding frenzy. But it did lead me to contemplate the damage CAGW has dealt to the credibility of science in general, not only by making science political, but also by the passive support offered by scientists in far more rigorous areas of science, physics among them.

  12. I prefer not to read the comment thread. ;-)

    It's nice to believe that someone specific may be blamed on that - like the climate alarmists - but I am just not sure that it's the case. The alternative explanation is that certain people just dislike everything that science has found - and even broken clock is right twice a day.

  13. This discussion is asinine, Bob, and your view is correct.
    When you are in an airliner at 11 km altitude it is very,very cold outside the plane. This is a simple consequence of gravity producing a temperature gradient. If the air below and above the aircraft were isothermal you would be in for a very rough ride. the plane would not survive the turbulence.
    Unfortunately, br is mired in self delusion.

  14. The paper we're commenting on mentions a graviton with a nonzero mass. I tried to find out what's known about that and found your blog post on the issue.

  15. The WUWT post has 511 comments this morning. Good Grief! This is what the Catholic Church calls "invincible ignorance."

  16. In Roman history, the fashionable Romans were always looking for the latest new trend in religious belief: a mystery cult from Greece, Egyptian, Hittite, Sumerian sects, you name it, whatever was the most exotic, weird and sexy trend. Unfortunately, we see this same human vanity applied to science by those who have substituted science as a religion. Since these never-satisfied neophytes have money, the presstitute media caters to them to acquire said money. It almost leads one to think Galileo should have heeded the Church's advice and leave the religious stuff to them. Oy vey! (slaps forehead)

  17. Yes. Sorry, I thought it had something to do with my first comment. The paper isn't actually using any massive gravity framework though. As you say it "mentions it".

  18. I'd be very interested to see you offer up some comments on some ideas:

    Bohmian mechanics assumes a true path is just hidden inside the potential, contradicting the Heisenberg uncertainty principle as Landau states it ('no concept of the path of a particle'), therefore this paper switching geodesics with Bohmian trajectories is somehow just cloudying up the true trajectory inside some random function and just labelling it quantum mechanics. Logically it makes sense that what they are doing will work because of this simple fact, right? However it's contradicting the most basic fact of QM, the very thing Landau uses to string *all* of QM together with.

    Bohmian mechanics cannot incorporate special relativity, so it's no shock they started with one theory ignoring special relativity to derive equations (quantum Raychaudhuri equation) in another theory that ignores special relativity (loop quantum gravity), in order to disprove basic consequences of general relativity. Kind of farcical when you say it like that.

    By reversing this chain of logic and deriving this QM Raychaudhuri equation, does it illustrate loop quantum gravity also ignores Heisenberg?

  19. So, are they saying that the matter energy in the universe equals vacuum energy. That is, Einstein did not make a blunder

  20. Hi, good questions. First of all, Bohmian trajectories as an "interpretation" of quantum mechanics are wrong in *all* contexts and this interpretation may be easily ruled out by one of many easily observed phenomena - like particle-antiparticle creation.

    But second, if this were just talking about the actual trajectories that would be calculated by Bohm for a given potential, it wouldn't be interesting for the cosmological empirical data because these trajectories stay at the places where the probability of the object's being there is high, and because these probabilities wave packets are highly localized, one wouldn't get any detectable deviation from the classical predictions at all because the objects are macroscopic. So one couldn't explain things like the acceleration of the expansion etc.

    So to get anything interesting that may deviate from the normal classical prediction, they need to insert much higher parameters to the guiding wave etc. - it may only be a mathematical analogy. They must effectively put Planck's constant on steroids. Then it's just a random non-relativist and other-principles-breaking theory that can't be justified by anything.

  21. It's a shame about Anthony Watts. His strong background in statistics frequently lets him attack warmist nonsense competently; but too often, as in this case, he overestimates his own abilities and writes nonsense. By his behavior he hurts the anti-warmist, anti-scaremongering movement as a whole.

  22. My word I've never considered the relation between particle and antiparticle in string theory terms, given how particles are little vibrating loops of some sort of geometry. Is it just a symmetry akin to chirality?

  23. That's the daily average and represents a massive opportunity cost to have 30K regular and true highly informed readers, yet less than a handful of them are on Twitter countering the alarm activists in action who play in link bombing teams, parroting all manner of readily debunked propaganda. Skeptical blogs are thus total failures at creating and effective grassroots activism, and instead seem to hinder it.

  24. The harsh political reality is that effective countering of climate hysteria in policy matters relied on the existing anti-science instincts of the religious right and the conservative blogosphere.

  25. I have always appreciated this fact. It is a political struggle in which most participants behave according to their political and ideological instincts even though the issue pretends (and both sides pretend) to build on science.

  26. Let me clarify my question. They claim to solve the coincidence problem, what do they exactly mean by that, and How did they do that.

  27. Yes, Big Bang Theory has been disproved along with Einstein's relativity theories (see ).