I ran across this today:
According to prevailing cosmological theories, the universe is expanding, but not at a constant rate. As the universe gets older, its growth seems to accelerate over time, something that would be impossible without some sort of extra energy being added to the overall system. Dark energy, the theory goes, accounts for nearly 70 percent of all energy in the observable universe.
But a new study from Oxford has called dark energy’s existence into question, saying that the data is flawed or based on observations that previously assumed that dark energy was already a universal constant. If this is the case, then scientists may have to go back to reevaluate their understanding of the universe and how it works.
Dark energy and dark matter are two things that have troubled me for a long time about the current state of astronomy. Not only is dark energy supposed to be 70% of all energy in the universe, but dark matter is supposed to be 96% of all matter in the universe – or 24 times the amount of matter we can actually detect.
These are two things that cannot be seen or felt or heard or sensed, even with our best instruments (which are extensions of our five senses, in a very real sense). To me, there was something crooked in Denmark, some way that the astronomers had gone down the rabbit hole and had misjudged something or assumed some things that would end up being not true.
So, now it appears that at least for dark energy, this is exactly what has happened.
This new study is even based upon the original study the “discovered” dark energy in the first place. But the current study expanded the database ten-fold – which should give more statistically solid results. And what ARE the results?
The researchers’ study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, found that the data in their study of supernovae supported the theory that the universe is expanding at a constant rate. Because the rate of expansion is constant, there is no dark energy being added to speed up the process. This theory reflects a model of steady expansion that was widely accepted before dark energy was hypothesized in the late 1990s.
Thus, whet we may have here is proof that in the 1990s astronomers had gone down a blind alley and are only now correcting themselves.
This is instructive on more than one level. First, it’s good if scientists can correct themselves. Second, it is good that they can correct themselves before going too far down a blind alley. Both show that serious inquiry will eventually find a correct direction.
But now we have a slew of papers in the scientific journals that refer to dark energy, so if the conclusions of the new study are agreed upon, then those papers will need to be retracted or corrected.
Here is an example of science – MODERN science – thinking for a time that the facts in one area are one way, and that all thinking in other directions was a fool’s errand. In other words, science can be wrong, and just because the consensus says one thing, it does not necessarily mean that that majority is correct. Even shorter: A consensus can be wrong.
So, the next time you read about some inquirer who thinks the majority may be wrong, remember that dark energy is not only not real, but it never WAS. Take that and consider that maybe the iconoclastic thinker may have something to teach us.
In addition, if you think you see a flaw in a theory or hypothesis that everybody else thinks is true, don’t put yourself down. Heck, the flaws you thought you saw may be real. And if, once in a while, that happens, go ahead and smile.