Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space

Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang? 225

Posted by timothy
from the hey-man-it's-just-a-theory dept.
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Back in the 1960s, after the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background, the Big Bang reigned supreme as the only game in town. But back then, we also assumed that what we consider as "normal matter" — i.e., protons, neutrons and electrons — was, along with photons and neutrinos, the only stuff that made up the Universe. But the last 50 years have shown us that dark matter and dark energy actually make up 95% of the energy composition of our cosmos. Given that, is there any wiggle room to possibly invalidate the Big Bang?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

Comments Filter:
  • Oh good lord. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Adam Colley (3026155) <mog@[ ]o.be ['kup' in gap]> on Sunday August 10, 2014 @04:26AM (#47640925)

    There's always the possibility of a theory being falsified but in this case the answer is almost certainly no.

    The big bang is not going to be invalidated, so say COBE, WMAP and PLANCK.

    Also, it's actually less than 5% baryonic matter it seems, 4.4%

    http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/unive... [nasa.gov]

    Be aware that dark matter is just matter we can't directly detect with our current technology (or just haven't /yet/), it's not something magical.

    • Oh good lord. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2014 @04:40AM (#47640963)

      Well, the fact that we can still hear the universe ringing at the exact range and frequency curve predicted by George Gamow nearly twenty years before Wilson and Penzias "discovered" it (see the cosmic background radiation - look it up), I'd say no.
      Also, the farther out we look, the faster galaxies are moving away from us. Run that backwards in time and we're all in the same place about 13.7 billion years ago. Again, I'd say no.
      Also, the balance of H, He and Li that was predicted...
      Also, the evolution and make-up of stars and proportions of heavy elements in near and far galaxies...
      Etc. etc.

      • by The Raven (30575)
        I thought that we had too much Lithium to match the prediction, that observed amounts exceeded predicted ratios.
    • Re:Oh good lord. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @04:41AM (#47640965)

      And maybe dark matter isn't at all, but just a matter (bad pun, I know) of our misunderstanding of something.

      Take the planet Vulcan [wikipedia.org]. No, not THAT Vulcan. But also a fictional one. Astronomers noticed Mercury isn't circling the Sun as it should, so something had to account for this. In their understanding back then, there had to be another planet that causes that. But then uncle Albert came along and explained it with relativity and now we know that gravity is the culprit, not some planet we can't see.

      What if this is a similar case? Like, say, (normal) matter having gravity properties that only become noticeable on a cosmic scale? Like, say, relativistic effects that take a DAMN LOT of gravity to become noticeable?

      I'm not saying it is so, I just wonder if we're dead set on Dark Matter or whether we're actually still looking in other directions? Or rather, whether serious scientists actually look into different options aside of Dark Matter to explain the discrepancies, not just crackpots and snakeoil peddlers.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by StripedCow (776465)

        Dark matter is probably just civilizations that have built (advanced forms of) Dyson spheres around their stars.
        This also explains the Fermi paradox.

        • Re:Oh good lord. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@CHEETAHnexusuk.org minus cat> on Sunday August 10, 2014 @08:02AM (#47641367) Homepage

          Dark matter is probably just civilizations that have built (advanced forms of) Dyson spheres around their stars.
          This also explains the Fermi paradox.

          Dyson spheres would glow in the infrared and therefore be pretty obvious. This is because they still have to radiate the heat produced by the star they enclose - otherwise their internal temperature would perpetually increase.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Dyson spheres would glow in the infrared and therefore be pretty obvious. This is because they still have to radiate the heat produced by the star they enclose - otherwise their internal temperature would perpetually increase.

            Isn't that purely supposition?

            Because, by the time a civilization has the technology to build a Dyson sphere ... we really have no of what else they would be able to do.

            Building a Dyson sphere sounds like it involves engineering challenges well beyond anything we can even imagine.

            So, I

        • Dark matter is probably just civilizations that have built (advanced forms of) Dyson spheres around their stars.

          Are the Dyson spheres so they can suck up all the cosmic dust?

      • by dbIII (701233)
        The alternative to dark matter is the hubris of thinking we can see absolutely everything. Journalists may be in that space but it doesn't seem that astronomers are.
        Analogy: you are in a dark room full of people with sparklers, but you know there are some without them because somebody without one just stood on your foot.
      • We have no idea what gravity.is, only how it behaves, same deal with dark matter. Perhaps there's no matter in dark matter, perhaps we are seeing a naked gravitational field. Technically all we are observing is a gravitational field, the "matter" itself has never been observed we just assume that all gravitational fields require some sort of matter to bend space, nature is under no obligation to comply to our rules, perhaps space is capable of bending by itself via local fluctuations in the expansion rate.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This guy has a very good video showing why we don't need the big bang or dark matter/energy to explain the state of "known" universe.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy47OQxUBvw

      • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @10:21AM (#47641925) Journal

        What if this is a similar case? Like, say, (normal) matter having gravity properties that only become noticeable on a cosmic scale?

        Models like this have been considered such as MOND (MOdified Newtonian Dynamics). These models were largely shot down by the aptly named Bullet Cluster [wikipedia.org]. This is a system of two galaxies colliding at a high relative speed. The gas from the smaller "bullet" cluster collides with the gas in the larger cluster causing it to slow down, heat up and emit X-rays so we can see it.

        So far so go. However you can also look at the mass distribution by seeing how it distorts the light from galaxies behind the cluster (this is called gravitational lensing). This shows that most of the mass of the smaller cluster has not slowed down and is now separated from where all the gas in the cluster is located. Effectively the collision has separated the matter from the dark matter because, unlike normal matter, dark matter has a tiny cross-section for interacting with itself or other matter. This is exceedingly hard to explain by modifying the behaviour of normal matter since you are observing a gravitational field where there is no normal matter.

        • by lgw (121541)

          MOND can't explain the CMBR data at all, while dark matter, WIMPs specifically, predicted the observed proportions accurately.

          So we know now: dark matter is there, it's ~80% of matter, and it's WIMPs not MACHOs. String theory predicts a family of 1-plank-mass-ish particles - just one more untestable string theory claim, but it would fit dark matter pretty well. If we ever actually build a dark matter detector that works, the worst might happen: we might have to start taking string theory seriously too! E

    • Oh good lord. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2014 @05:24AM (#47641037)

      We're finding it quite easy to directly detect its affects with our current technology - it's called a telescope. We just have no clue as to what it is or how it works.
      I'd like to point out that gravity is in the same category. Also time.
      We do know a lot more about light and electricity. Please check out "QED" by Richard Feynman. Well we actually don't know how that works ether, but we've figured out the math to make very precise predictions that usually match reality so we must be on the right track.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Rockoon (1252108)

        Please check out "QED" by Richard Feynman. Well we actually don't know how that works ether, but we've figured out the math to make very precise predictions that usually match reality so we must be on the right track.

        Indeed, QED is the most successful theory that man has ever formulated, and Feynman was IMHO far greater than Einstein or Hawking.

        When the first shuttle blew up, NASA picked up the phone and called Feynman, someone that never did anything for NASA before and was not involved in any way with the shuttles, rockets, or even anything astronomy. Feynman figured out what happened quite quickly, went before congress and both explained and demonstrated the problem.

        Einstein has a brilliant idea. Hawking had a b

        • Indeed, QED is the most successful theory that man has ever formulated

          No, actually that would be special relativity which has been tested to around 20+ orders of magnitude by cosmic rays [arxiv.org] as well as (arguably) tests of CPT symmetry [wikipedia.org] which last time I checked (quite a while ago) was at about 18 orders of magnitude.

          QED is 'only' at about 12-14 order of magnitude of accuracy (which is extremely impressive!). Indeed since QED incorporates Special Relativity it would be hard for it to be tested more accurately that SR since any test of QED is, by definition, a test of SR as well

        • by Opyros (1153335)
          Then what about Tomonaga and Schwinger; were they also greater than Einstein?
        • by Raenex (947668)

          Indeed, QED is the most successful theory that man has ever formulated, and Feynman was IMHO far greater than Einstein or Hawking.

          Please. Annus Mirabilis papers [wikipedia.org]

          That's four groundbreaking papers in one year (1905), any one of which would have made Einstein of historical significance. To follow that up with the only major advance on gravity since Newton 10 years later puts him well past Feynman.

          When the first shuttle blew up, NASA picked up the phone and called Feynman, someone that never did anything for NASA before and was not involved in any way with the shuttles, rockets, or even anything astronomy. Feynman figured out what happened quite quickly, went before congress and both explained and demonstrated the problem.

          He did good work on the panel, but it was hardly a big mystery as to why the launch failed. There was actually a conference call the night before the launch between NASA and the manufacturers of the O-ring. The latter wanted to scrub the launch b

          • by Aighearach (97333)

            Allow me to paraphrase your comment.

            "My subjective assessment is different than yours, but I'm so insecure about not being able to prove subjectives that I'm going to call your viewpoint names."

            Was Feynman a better showman than the other people who also came up with working math for QED? Yes.

            Einstein was also a great showman, who is widely believed to have stolen some of his theories from his first wife. Einstein is legendary as a showman, if you actually are interested in these sorts of non-science details

            • by Raenex (947668)

              Allow me to paraphrase your comment.

              Allow me to paraphrase your comment: I'm a jackass who thinks nothing substantial can be said when opinion counts, even when the accomplishments are well-documented and acknowledged by the larger scientific community. I also entertain spurious allegations about Eisenstein having plagiarized his wife, which has no credible evidence.

      • Re:Oh good lord. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @10:02AM (#47641829)

        We just have no clue as to what it is or how it works.

        I'd like to point out that gravity is in the same category. Also time.

        This.

        When Newton was first discussing his theories of universal gravitation, the scientific community was rather skeptical, because it invoked spooky "unseen forces" acting at a distance (i.e., gravity). The previous Aristotelean model of physics asserted that "normal" terrestrial matter came to a nature place of rest (earth sinks down to equilibrium, air rises to equilibrium, etc.), since Newton's first law hadn't been realized yet. Instead, real-world friction, etc. tends to bring things to a state of rest, which accords with everyday experience. All motion had to be explained by a "cause," something that propelled it into motion, and ultimately the matter would stop moving once it came to its natural state of rest.

        The motion of the planets could not be explained using this physics, so the celestial bodies were assumed to be of a different type of aetherial matter (or something) which was set in motion at the beginning of time or something.

        That was the proper scientific theory of the day, and it accorded with empirical observation and common sense -- terrestrial bodies stopped, celestial ones seemed to go in continuous motion forever.

        But Newton came along and equated the two -- and he developed a mathematics that described the motion. Unfortunately it depended on a "spooky" occult idea of forces acting at a distance. (Newton, of course, was really into the occult, alchemy, etc.)

        So, scientists of the day were skeptical. Newton eventually even published an appendix with future editions of the Principia explaining that his model didn't depend on "real" unseen forces acting -- instead, he basically came up with the modern scientific ideal that says: if the math works and predicts the phenomena, that's enough for science. A scientific model need not be concerned with philosophical questions or ultimate causes of phenomena as long as it can actually make good predictions.

        THAT, probably more than anything else, was the foundation of modern "science" laid down by Newton during the Scientific Revolution. People had been doing experiments and empirical investigations for millennia, but they always had to worry about ultimate "causes," which inevitably depended on somebody's pet theory of reality. After Newton, though, what matters is that the math works. Maybe the dark matter/dark energy model is hinting at some deeper aspect of reality and a more elegant theory that we will come up with many years from now... or not. But regardless, these ideas are exactly like Newton's "gravity" -- something which we observe, something we can have an accurate mathematical model of, but also something "spooky" that we don't understand completely yet.

        That's what the modern scientific process is all about.

    • Correctamundo. Given that the best theory of cosmology yet devised, the Lambda-CDM model [wikipedia.org], is a Big Bang theory that includes dark matter and dark energy, I would ... defer to Ian Betteridge's [wikipedia.org] opinion on the matter.
    • Dark matter is the foam noodles and other packaging material that the universe was transported in. It now lies in a skip at the back.
    • Part of the issue here is that the question is ambiguous. "Big Bang" has morphed and changed into may forms in the last century+ when it was first envisioned. So, which big bang are you and TFA referring to? The original that said all the mass was a few hundred thousand miles across and blew up? The one taught in the 1970s that all mass was compressed into a ball about 270,000 light years across and blew up? The one that still requires all of the mass to exist already and compressed down to a compact s

      • by lgw (121541)

        From a logical perspective we have been able to study quite a bit of our solar system hands on, and we have never been able to detect either dark matter or dark energy

        So all things that exist, exist within our solar system and are detectable with existing technology? The Higgs boson didn't exist 2 years ago, but exists now? I'm struggling to follow your reasoning.

        There were many theories to explain galactic rotation rates: MOND, WIMPs, MACHOs, many more I've forgotten. But out of the whole pack, WIMPs predicted the recent CMBR data accurately. When the math works, and accurately predicts unrelated measurements unknown when the hypothesis was made, well, science means

        • by s.petry (762400)

          So all things that exist, exist within our solar system and are detectable with existing technology?

          Not at all, and nowhere do I state any such thing. I do state that logically it's improbable, but not impossible.

          If you want to claim that up to 95% of the Universe is made up of dark matter and energy, fine. We can watch geysers on a gas giant's moon, but we can't detect 95% of the space between our Earth and the probe watching? Come now, something is wrong with that claim. Oh I know, someone decided that "dark matter and energy don't exist in our Solar system". Then why is it absent in our solar sy

          • by lgw (121541)

            If you want to claim that up to 95% of the Universe is made up of dark matter and energy, fine. We can watch geysers on a gas giant's moon, but we can't detect 95% of the space between our Earth and the probe watching? Come now, something is wrong with that claim. Oh I know, someone decided that "dark matter and energy don't exist in our Solar system". Then why is it absent in our solar system?

            Dark Energy is everywhere, but the name is terrible. I prefer the old "cosmological constant", even if it may not be constant. All we know about it is that the expansion of the universe is accelerating over time. No idea why or how (or at least stuff that's been explained at my limited level of understanding is just guesswork), but the measurements aren't controversial. And the energy that would be required to cause this expansion, overcoming gravity and all, would be the dominant thing in the universe

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Aighearach (97333)

        Not only can we not find the dark matter or dark energy...

        Look. We just recently mapped the Earth's radiation belts. Oops, they did not match prediction. At all. Not even the right number of belts.

        Voyager is out exploring the Solar System's heliopause. Ooops, not as predicted.

        That is the recent actual experimental work that has come out of cosmology lately. The rest of it is a lot of hand-waving using edge data points, at scales where nothing can be verified.

        Compare that to the work that actual physicists d

      • by pantaril (1624521)

        Gravitational lensing does not require either dark matter or dark energy. I find it odd that the NASA link discusses Einstein as the person that came up with the theory, yet fails to mention that Einstein did not theorize these two "dark" things. Gravitational lensing is a result of having curved space and obviously gravity. Dark * is not required nor expected..

        Einsteins theory doesn't use gravity at all. It works with mass and energy which cause curved spacetime which then causes gravitational lensing. The dark matter is predicted by this effect because we can't detect enough normal matter to justify the level of light-bending we can observe. Dark matter is also predicted by several other observable phenomena like the speed galaxies rotate around each other or cosmic microwave background.

        • by s.petry (762400)

          Einsteins theory doesn't use gravity at all. It works with mass and energy which cause curved spacetime which then causes gravitational lensing.

          The model Einstein had includes gravity, you are skewing how he viewed gravity as a property of mass.

          The dark matter is predicted by this effect because we can't detect enough normal matter to justify the level of light-bending we can observe.

          Einstein never predicted dark matter or dark energy, so that statement is a complete fabrication. Dark matter and dark energy were "predicted" when models of the "Big Bang" did not work. Stop and think about that for a while.

          Dark matter is also predicted by several other observable phenomena like the speed galaxies rotate around each other or cosmic microwave background.

          As with above the "prediction" is because our mathematical models of the "Big Bang" and gravity are not working, which means that they are not "predicted" but needed for someone's theo

  • Don't ask me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @04:34AM (#47640951) Homepage

    Do Dark Matter and Dark Energy Cast Doubt On the Big Bang?

    I have no idea! You should probably ask a physicist.

    • by physicsphairy (720718) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @05:37AM (#47641063) Homepage

      The physicists are the ones asking. We better take this one to the Big Guy Himself.

      "So, uh, we were wondering if you could explain why our orbital and rotational predictions for galaxies are not matching our astronomical measurements?"

      "They aren't? Are you sure? Let me check the source code. Oh, that's not good. Should have caught that a few billion years ago. This is going to be a real pain to patch. Unless. . . ."

      "Unless, what?"

      *lightning bolt strikes questioner*

      • by jd (1658)

        Given that physicists are seriously studying whether the universe is a computer simulation, that joke might not be too far from the truth. You have been warned.

        • by Improv (2467)

          If by physicists you mean to include some fringe folk like Tegmark, then sure.

    • I have no idea! You should probably ask a physicist.

      You called? The answer is no and we were not really asking this question ourselves since the one of the major pieces of evidence for Dark Matter (PLANCK CMB measurement) relies on Big Bang models!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 10, 2014 @04:47AM (#47640975)

    If a headline ends in a question mark the answer is always no. If the answer was yes they wouldn't ask, they'd tell.. The question mark is how shitty opinion pieces trying to push a view point try to masquerade as news.

    • If a headline ends in a question mark the answer is always no. If the answer was yes they wouldn't ask, they'd tell.. The question mark is how shitty opinion pieces trying to push a view point try to masquerade as news.

      Everything from medium.com is of low quality. They take some nice pictures, put them inline with some artsy text and then say absolutely nothing for several paragraphs. Every article I've read on there has been some made up controversy. "Does dark mater invalidate the big bang?" then 10 paragraphs later "No, not at all" So why exactly did you write this article?

  • by dottrap (1897528) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @05:05AM (#47641013)

    I thought Dark Matter was conceived to account for missing matter that the Big Bang theory predicts needs to exist.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I thought Dark Matter was conceived to account for missing matter that the Big Bang theory predicts needs to exist.

      No, it (mostly) came about when it was noticed that galaxies required a lot more mass than was visiible to keep from flying apart. The speeds of stars 'orbiting' was too high, and the things should have flown off. There were other oddities observed as well. All the behaviors observed could be explained if there was a lot more gravitational mass than what could be seen. Some of things seen wer

      • by Livius (318358) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @07:35AM (#47641305)

        I thought Dark Matter was conceived to account for missing matter that the Big Bang theory predicts needs to exist.

        No, it (mostly) came about when it was noticed that galaxies required a lot more mass than was visiible

        It's both, and other observations as well. That's why dark matter is a good theory for the observations we have at this time - several phenomena all point to the same explanation.

    • by Livius (318358)

      The big bang theory is the part we're confident about. There are observations that imply there are other phenomena happening, and dark matter and dark energy are, so far, the best theories to account for them, but they don't "cast doubt" on big bang cosmology - at best they're likely to lead to minor adjustments.

      Now, if something totally new comes along, then we could have a revolution in our thinking and need to come up with a new theory, such as when Aristotle's thinking was replaced with the Galileo/New

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's quite the opposite. You need dark matter and dark energy in order to explain the CMB and the distribution of matter in the Universe. Dark matter and dark energy fit perfectly in the theory, that's the main reason why the alternatives to dark energy/matter that have been proposed were rejected: they fail to explain the CMB and the distribution of matter, while the dark matter and energy explain it perfectly.

  • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Sunday August 10, 2014 @07:17AM (#47641257) Homepage Journal

    These theories have their own problems. As noted on Slashdot previously, neither exist around dwarf globular clusters or in the local region of the Milky Way. It is not altogether impossible that our models of gravity are flawed at supermassive scales at relativistic velocities, that there's corrections needed that would produce the same effect as currently theorized for this new kind of matter and energy.

    Remembering that one should never multiply entities unnecessarily, one correction factor seems preferable to two exotic phenomena that cannot be directly observed by definition.

    But only if such a correction factor is theoretically justified AND explains all related observations AND is actually simpler.

    There is just as much evidence these criteria are true as there is for dark stuff - currently none.

    • There may less dark matter in our region of the galaxy because of the Local Bubble [wikipedia.org]. When the supernova push all the dust out of our region, it could have dragged, via gravity, some of the dark matter with it.
    • It is not altogether impossible that our models of gravity are flawed at supermassive scales at relativistic velocities, that there's corrections needed that would produce the same effect as currently theorized for this new kind of matter and energy.

      Sure it is. And very smart physicists have considered this option, among many others.

      Remembering that one should never multiply entities unnecessarily, one correction factor seems preferable to two exotic phenomena that cannot be directly observed by definition.

      Of course it does. Something to remember is that "dark matter" and "dark energy" are perhaps bad names. They don't necessarily imply that there is something like "normal matter" or "normal energy" out there but is just "dark" (whatever that means). They're just convenient terms to refer to the mathematical "fudge factors" that need to be invoked to explain how things in the universe are actually moving. Whether they ar

    • There is just as much evidence these criteria are true as there is for dark stuff - currently none.

      Not actually correct. The bullet cluster (see Wikipedia) is extremely hard to explain without Dark Matter. This collision between two galaxies has effectively separated he normal matter from the dark matter so we observe a gravitational field bending light where there is no normal matter. Without Dark Matter you are left with the extremely hard task of trying to explain how a gravitational field can exist where there is no matter.

    • Why is parent modded up? Everything stated is wrong. Modified Newtonian Gravity (MOND) has been attempted to explain away dark matter for decades with no success. The Bullet Cluster pretty much put the nail in the coffin of MOND. Dark Matter is the simplest and currently only idea that actually explains all the observations. That's not saying anyone knows what it is but lots of experiments are getting close to getting first glimpses at possibilities.
  • Also dark (Score:3, Informative)

    by rossdee (243626) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @07:43AM (#47641319)

    The Dark Side of the Moon

  • by Goldsmith (561202)

    The answer is no.

    TFA says this in about 10 pages, with all the gory details.

    Can we try no to have clickbait headlines? TFA is a blog called "Ask Ethan" so it makes sense for the title to be a question. A more appropriate headline here would have been "Dark Matter and Dark Energy don't Impact the Big Bang."

  • I bet in a few years, a new theory called "Dark Bang" will replace it.

  • by thegreatemu (1457577) on Sunday August 10, 2014 @12:45PM (#47642599)

    I'm probably a bit biased here, but also an expert, since I am a physicist who studies dark matter for a living.

    The title's question doesn't even make sense! Big bang theory, and in particular studying the exact power spectrum of the cosmic microwave background, is by far the strongest evidence we have for the existence of dark matter and dark energy. All those pie charts you've seen showing the divisions of baryonic matter, dark matter, and dark energy? If they're properly cited, I guarantee every single one of them comes from data from WMAP or PLANCK: CMB experiments! You can't say that dark matter gives you room to invalidate the big bang, because without that we don't have really any strong evidence for non-baryonic dark matter in the first place...

"Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system] made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories." - Ted Nelson, October 1977

Working...