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What We Read Today 11 February 2015

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Everything we know about the Big Bang could be wrong (Aja Romano, The Daily Dot)  A new theoretical description of the universe has been described which appears to be just as likely to be correct (or possibly better) as the widely accepted (and questioned) "Big Bang Theory".  In recent decades the competing "Steady State Theory" has been largely discarded (Wikipedia calls it "obsolete").  The new description was published this month by physicists in Egypt and Canada:  Cosmology from quantum potential (Ahmed Faraq et al, Physics Letters B, 741, 04 February 2015, 276-279).  The new theory is closer to the "discarded" theory than the "recently accepted" one.

The new theory avoids some poorly understood things associated with the Big Bang; namely:

(i) the smallness of Λ  , about 10−12310−123 in Planck units (‘the smallness problem’),

(ii) the approximate equality of vacuum and matter density in the current epoch (‘the coincidence problem’),

(iii) the apparent extreme fine-tuning required in the early universe, to have a spatially flat universe in the current epoch (‘the flatness problem’),

(iv) the true nature of dark matter, and

(v) the beginning of our universe, or the so-called big-bang.

The new work starts with 60-year old work by American physicist David Bohm who created a new description of motion in quantum mechanical terms.  Bohm was a protege of Albert Einstein and along with another Einstein protoge, Indian physicst Satyendra Nath Bose, is on a short list of legendary physicists who never won a Nobel Prize.  The Bohm equations of quantum motion are different from the classical geodesics utilized in the work that has produced the Big Bang Theory.

The result of the current work is an infinite universe that has no beginning and no end, "is now and ever shall be" (to use a well known line from religion).

Is the Big Bang Theory dead?  Quite the contrary, the new theory will undergo years of examination and anomalies are likely to be found.  These works should produce a new list of things not well understood in the new context and further breakthroughs will almost certainly be required in the theoretical framework to reduce the regions of "shadows".  But the researchers are expressing confidence that the reality of their new description will be reinforced over time, even as they admit the work is based on assumptions, simply different than the ones previously used to support the Big Bang but, in their view, better.  From the Physics Letters paper:

Given the robust set of starting assumptions, we expect our main results to continue to hold even if and when a fully satisfactory theory of quantum gravity is formulated.

Note:  Because of youthful Communist affiliations, Bohm was targeted by the McCarthy Committee and left the U.S. in 1951, never to return as a resident.  From 1952 until his death in 1992, Bohm held Brazilian and later British citizenships.  One curious note about his years in the U.S.:  He was denied access to the Manhattan Project which developed the atomic bomb because of security concerns but his Ph.D. research was useful to the bomb project and was classified top secret, denying him access to it and making it treasonous to work further on it.  He was even prohibited from writing a Ph.D. thesis and the degree was awarded in 1943 by certification attested to by his thesis advisor Robert Oppenheimer, Los Alamos Manhattan Project leader.  After receiving his doctorate, Bohm continued to do research adapted by the Oak Ridge Laboratory project that enriched uranium to build the first bombs.

Note 2: A longer review article is here: No Big Bang? Quantum equation predicts universe has no beginning (Lisa Zyga, Phys.org).  There is a very long collection of comments following this article, some very informative, some amusing and others quite trivial. 



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