Let’s take a break from politics to get an update on the Big Bang…. (More)
As always, which is never, I’ll check in with our cosmic correspondent, Xyzyx:
Squirrel@BPI: Hiya Xyzyx! How’s Zeta Reticuli?
Xyzyx@OutThere: It was great when I left. I’m on the road, if there were roads in outer space-time.
Squirrel@BPI: I see. Well, I’ve read some headlines that say the Big Bang Theory has been proven wrong.
Xyzyx@OutThere: Ahh. So your science headline writers are still awful.
Squirrel@BPI: I think it’s a job requirement. So walk me through this. Did the Big Bang happen?
Xyzyx@OutThere: Um, yeah, we’re pretty sure about that. There’s lots of astronomical evidence that fits the predictions of the Big Bang theory: the cosmic microwave background, the expanding universe, the abundance of elements, and so on. And this year the Dark Energy Survey made their first maps of dark matter, and those fit the Big Bang theory too.
Squirrel@BPI: I thought Dark Matter was a SyFy/Netflix TV show.
Xyzyx@OutThere: It was. SyFy canceled it after three seasons.
Squirrel@BPI: No! Mrs. Squirrel loves that show!
Xyzyx@OutThere: Well, the creator said he’ll try to finish the story as a graphic novel or a comic book series.
Squirrel@BPI: Ahh, okay. So this dark energy survey found real dark matter? I thought we couldn’t see that?
Xyzyx@OutThere: Their measurements were based on the 4% of the universe that we can see. Yes, the math says 96% of the universe is dark energy or dark matter. And no, we can’t see that directly, not yet. But we can see what it does to things around it – the stuff we can see – and that’s how they made their maps.
Squirrel@BPI: So, umm, if all of that stuff is consistent with the Big Bang theory, why the weird headlines?
Xyzyx@OutThere: Again, because your science headline writers are awful. Look, the whole kerfuffle goes back to a 2015 paper published in Physics Papers B titled “Cosmology from Quantum Potential.” In that paper, two physicists took another look at a view of quantum physics called Bohmian trajectories, based on the de Broglie–Bohm theory of quantum mechanics.
Squirrel@BPI: You know I’m not gonna read all of those links, right? Coz even if I did, I wouldn’t have a clue what it meant.
Xyzyx@OutThere: Okay, here’s the nutshell version.
Squirrel@BPI: I like things that come in nutshells.
Xyzyx@OutThere: I know. Anyway, classical quantum theory is fundamentally stochastic. Random things happen and we can predict the frequency of different outcomes, but we can’t predict the next outcome until it happens.
Squirrel@BPI: Like in poker, I can estimate my odds based on the cards I can see, but it’s not over until the cards are dealt.
Xyzyx@OutThere: Yes, exactly. Well, basically, de Broglie and Bohm offered a deterministic version of quantum theory. We still observe randomness but, to use your poker metaphor, it’s as if the deck has already been shuffled. If we could peek at the rest of the deck, we would know what will happen before the cards are actually dealt.
Squirrel@BPI: Okay, I think I understand that. Sort of.
Xyzyx@OutThere: Well, those two physicists – Ahmed Farag Ali and Saurya Das – reworked some equations of cosmology, adding the principles of Bohmian trajectories. And their work predicted the same universe we observe, but with two big differences.
Squirrel@BPI: And one was no Big Bang?
Xyzyx@OutThere: Actually, their model still includes the Big Bang. But, and this is the first big difference, their model doesn’t require a singularity before the Big Bang … a Time Zero where all mass, energy, and space-time were compressed into an infinitely tiny Primordial Point.
Squirrel@BPI: Okay, so what do they say was before the Big Bang?
Xyzyx@OutThere: In their model, mass and energy were only quantum potential in a bundle of space-time, with no particles at all. And in their model, that particle-less bundle of space-time could be infinitely old.
Squirrel@BPI: So where did the particles and the Big Bang and all that come from?
Xyzyx@OutThere: The same phenomenon we see in the Casmir Effect. Fluctuations in the quantum potential field could have popped out particles of mass and energy and … ka-BOOM … the Big Bang happened.
Squirrel@BPI: I think I kinda-sorta almost followed that. So what’s the other big difference in their model?
Xyzyx@OutThere: Their model also makes some predictions about the characteristics of dark energy and dark matter. It’s a preliminary model and the math needs to be refined. But it looks as if it could tell us what dark energy and dark matter ‘look like,’ in terms of particles that high-energy physicists and astronomers could observe if they set up the right experiments.
Squirrel@BPI: Okay, that nutshell got kinda big.
Xyzyx@OutThere: Call it scuirological expansion. Anyway, here’s the meaty nut. The Ali-Das model makes different predictions about before the Big Bang and, as they and others develop the math, that model may help us understand the 96% of the universe that we can’t see. But we’re still pretty sure the Big Bang happened. There’s too much evidence to dismiss it.
Squirrel@BPI: Well, thanks for the update, Xyzyx. Where are you off to, by the way?
Xyzyx@OutThere: I thought I’d zoom by Area 51….
Squirrel@BPI: You’re kidding, right?
Xyzyx@OutThere: Yes, I’m kidding. My husband wants a new lawnmower, so I’m heading over to Sirius B. They’re having their spring sale. Hey, watch it jackass! Sorry. Traffic in the spaceport parking lot.
Squirrel@BPI: I’ll let you focus on driving. Thanks again for the update!
Don’t tell anyone, but I’m still confused….
Image Credit: Physics of the Universe
Good day and good nuts