Astronomy Picture of the Day. Did they not grow into large-scale variations? An initiative by: Disclaimer | Credits | Technology . (This matched Einstein’s original model without a cosmological constant.). Planck data showed in 2015 that the simplest models are no longer tenable and need to be supplemented by exotic physics. Scientific Paper Reaffirms New Genes Required for Cambrian Explosion, November: In a New Book, Michael Behe Springs a Trap for Darwin, Determinism: Smart People and an Absurd Claim, Science as Oracle — “Where It Gets Weird”, Intelligent Design’s Yellow Star: Journal’s Disclaimer Refutes a Common Criticism of ID, Gonzalez Extends “Privileged Planet” Arguments, A Disappointing Decade for Human Evolution. But is degeneration still a failure? That seems a naked assault on the laws of thermodynamics. As String Theory for Dummies puts it, “This really shouldn’t be the case, if you think about it more carefully.” Assuming that current measurements are correct, the radiation must have exceeded the speed of light if it really communicated in this way, but that is forbidden by the standard Big Bang model of the universe. This space has no overall curvature. Inflation is now a built-in piece of our standard story of cosmic evolution. If the results can be trusted at all, they now suggest inflation is wrong, raising the possibility of cyclic universes that existed before the big bang.” Some were willing to trade the shadowy multiverse for (at least) one other (past) universe, however modest. Normally, you’d take this to mean that all the CMBR in the universe has somehow diffused throughout the universe, like heating up an oven. And if cosmic inflation has passed so many tests, why do so many variant models survive? He is the Physics Guide for the New York Times' About.com Web site. Inflation is not the only naturalist theory … Cosmic inflation solves these problems at a stroke. One issue with the inflationary theory is that the exact mechanism that would cause — and then turn off — the inflationary period isn’t known. Roberto Trotta: What has Einstein ever done for you. Experimental physicist Rob Sheldon offers some observations on the “firestorm” ignited by IL&S: Paul Steinhardt was an inflationary cosmologist himself in the early 1980s but he concluded in 2002 that it would not work. Daniel Robbins received his PhD in physics from the University of Chicago and currently studies string theory and its implications at Texas A&M University. Tiny energy variations during inflation, due simply to quantum uncertainty, become the sources for matter to clump together, eventually becoming galaxies and clusters of galaxies. The horizon problem is solved because the different regions we see used to be close enough to communicate, but during inflation, space expanded so rapidly that these close regions were spread out to cover all of the visible universe. Latest Podcast. But maybe it is more of a crossroads. Not only that, but even bits of it far off in different directions as observed from Earth have roughly the same temperature, although in an expanding universe there wouldn’t have been time for heat to pass between them to even things out. They were stung by the accusation that inflationary cosmology “cannot be evaluated using the scientific method” and that some proponents have proposed discarding a defining property of science: “empirical testability.” They retort that “it has been subjected to a significant number of tests and so far has passed every one.” That would settle the matter except that, as they admit, “Inflation is not a unique theory but rather a class of models based on similar principles.” Empirical science, they concluded with a flourish, “is alive and well!”. In trying to understand the universe, two major problems remained: the flatness problem and the horizon problem. 10 mysteries of the universe: How did it all begin? The horizon problem (also sometimes called the homogeneity problem) is that no matter which direction you look in the universe, you see basically the same thing (see the following figure). Cosmic inflation theory, first proposed by Alan Guth in 1981, modified the Big Bang theory (the Standard Model) by proposing that the universe, instead of unfolding at a steady pace, expanded rapidly shortly after it was created, which could account for apparent fine-tuning. Flat universe: The expansion of the universe and the density of matter perfectly balance out, so the universe’s expansion slows down over time but never quite stops completely. Cosmic inflation theory, first proposed by Alan Guth in 1981, modified the Big Bang theory (the Standard Model) by proposing that the universe, instead of unfolding at a steady pace, expanded rapidly shortly after it was created, which could account for apparent fine-tuning. Studying the universe’s origins hint that its beginning has no end, Microwave universe: Planck's first hi-res image. Theory that challenges Einstein's physics could soon ... estimate of readings of the cosmic microwave ... light theory sets it apart from the more mainstream rival theory: inflation. Applying one of science philosopher Imre Lakatos’s concepts, Sheldon labels cosmic inflation a “seriously” degenerating science program. The first is that Einstein’s general theory of relativity famously makes mass bend space and time – so you’d expect a universe like ours, containing mass, to be overall curved in some way, either in on itself like a ball (“positive” curvature) or out on itself like a saddle (“negative” curvature). By Andrew Zimmerman Jones, Daniel Robbins . The trouble is, thousands of papers can indeed be wrong. The flatness problem is resolved because the act of inflation actually flattens the universe. Perhaps stubbornly contrary evidence merely shows the need for more drive and zeal in generating new naturalist theories, not more reflection and evaluation of that direction. The Inflation Theory: Solving the Universe’s Problems of Flatness and…, By Andrew Zimmerman Jones, Daniel Robbins. Worse, inflation is very difficult to stop, creating a multiverse of causally disconnected universes that eternally bud off from one another. The flatness problem has to do with the geometry of our universe, which appears (especially with recent WMAP evidence) to be a flat geometry, as pictured in the following figure. Andrew Zimmerman Jones received his physics degree and graduated with honors from Wabash College, where he earned the Harold Q. Fuller Prize in Physics. That ironed out wrinkles in its early chaotic self and meant that even now far-flung parts were once in close contact, so could swap heat. What if naturalism changes the role of a science program? But multiverse cosmology flourishes entirely without evidence. Photo: NGC 2500, a barred spiral galaxy, by ESA/Hubble/NASA. If you now look 14 billion light-years in the opposite direction (call this Point B), you see exactly the same sort of CMBR in that direction. The geometry of such a universe is a positive curvature. At the time it looked like it had just one or two zeroes after the probability, but research added a few more until the theory just wasn’t justified anymore. Latest Vodcast. But in the same piece, he warned that “the inflationary paradigm is so flexible that it is immune to experimental and observational tests.” In May 2017, for example, we were told by one team that dark energy is pushing the universe to expand but we have not established the existence of dark energy; it is itself a theoretical concept. Picture an uninflated balloon, which can have all kinds of wrinkles and other abnormalities. Perhaps the speed of sound was faster than the speed of light back then or else there were existence of extra dimensions of space-time, as postulated by string theory. Cosmic Inflation Theory Faces Challenges 20 Jan 2017, 20:30 UTC. If you look in one direction in space, you’re actually looking back in time. Steinhardt pleads ignorance as to why he advocated the theory in the first place. It was invented to explain the 1:10^66 fine-tuning of the Big Bang, but in the end, it required 1:10^10^100 fine-tuning. Physics crunch: The dark void at cosmology's heart, The four puzzles that tell us a cosmological revolution is coming. NASA Picture of the Day. One way out might be to weaken the constant speed of light. Did something happen to smooth them out? With enough such theories tried and discarded, more convincing ones will surely appear. Many technical aspects of inflationary theory remain unanswered, though the models include a scalar field called an inflaton field and a corresponding theoretical particle called an inflaton. One wonders how many papers were written on the formation of the continents before plate tectonics was proposed. Somehow, the thermal information is communicated between Points A and B. But it’s still controversial. Inflation was invented to explain a couple of features of the universe that are really hard to explain without it. Perhaps light is still slowing now, just at a rate that is imperceptible even to our most sensitive detectors. Because this hasn’t happened, physicists need an explanation for why the minor variations haven’t increased dramatically. But the charges and countercharges between the three and the 33 raise a more promising possibility: Change the rules for evidence. IS&L replied that “The claim that inflation has been confirmed refers to the outdated theory before we understood its fundamental problems,” including the fact that generic inflation leads to eternal inflation and, in consequence, a multiverse: “And if inflation produces a multiverse in which, to quote a previous statement from one of the responding authors (Guth), ‘anything that can happen will happen’—it makes no sense whatsoever to talk about predictions. It turns out that the inflationary theory solves both the flatness problem and horizon problem (at least to the satisfaction of most cosmologists and astrophysicists). (The boundary is actually farther because space itself is expanding, but you can ignore that for the purposes of this example.) According to inflation theory, the universe was created in an unstable energy state, which forced a rapid expansion of the universe in its early moments. Two features of our universe puzzle cosmologists: One is the horizon problem: The universe looks the same in all directions and the cosmic microwave background radiation is about the same temperature everywhere. Even if design turns out to be the best explanation and the most fruitful for progress, it cannot be accepted, as a matter of first principles. Inflation theory brings together ideas from quantum physics and particle physics to explore the early moments of the universe, following the big bang. In fact, it’s darn nearly flat. According to inflation theory, this happens to the fabric of the universe as well.

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