I try to follow the general outlines of the current theories of theoretical physics, but it goes without saying that I don’t understand the math, and that I miss a lot of the details. So although I’d never even heard of “dark energy” before (antimatter yes; dark matter yes—and I think I had lumped dark matter and dark energy together), I’m interested in a report that calls into question the existence of dark energy:
According to the new study from Eötvös Loránd University in Hungary and the University of Hawaii, the discrepancy that dark energy was “invented” to fill might have arisen from the parts of the theory that were glossed over for the sake of simplicity. The researchers set up a computer simulation of how the universe formed, based on its large-scale structure. That structure apparently takes the form of “foam,” where galaxies are found on the thin walls of each bubble, but large pockets in the middle are mostly devoid of both normal and dark matter.
The team simulated how gravity would affect matter in this structure and found that, rather than the universe expanding in a smooth, uniform manner, different parts of it would expand at different rates. Importantly, though, the overall average rate of expansion is still consistent with observations, and points to accelerated expansion. The end result is what the team calls the Avera model.
“The theory of general relativity is fundamental in understanding the way the universe evolves,” says Dobos. “We do not question its validity; we question the validity of the approximate solutions. Our findings rely on a mathematical conjecture which permits the differential expansion of space, consistent with general relativity, and they show how the formation of complex structures of matter affects the expansion. These issues were previously swept under the rug but taking them into account can explain the acceleration without the need for dark energy.”
There’s so much we don’t know, and although it’s fascinating to speculate I doubt we will ever know enough to truly understand the universe’s formation in the scientific sense. As a very young child I was taken with such questions and even dared to dream that I might enter the field of cosmology myself. I was good at math and science, but not that surpassingly good, as I realized some time late in my high school or early in my college career. I am in awe of those who can do this at a high level, though, and follow their work as best I can.
As for dark matter and dark energy, I’ll leave it for now with a nod to the poets
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal,
There where the vines cling crimson on the wall,
And in the twilight wait for what will come.
The leaves will whisper there of her, and some,
Like flying words, will strike you as they fall;
But go, and if you listen she will call.
Go to the western gate, Luke Havergal—
No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies
To rift the fiery night that’s in your eyes;
But there, where western glooms are gathering,
The dark will end the dark, if anything:
God slays Himself with every leaf that flies,
And hell is more than half of paradise.
No, there is not a dawn in eastern skies—
In eastern skies…
Quite unexpectedly, as Vasserot
The armless ambidextrian was lighting
A match between his great and second toe,
And Ralph the lion was engaged in biting
The neck of Madame Sossman while the drum
Pointed, and Teeny was about to cough
In waltz-time swinging Jocko by the thumb
Quite unexpectedly to top blew off:
And there, there overhead, there, there hung over
Those thousands of white faces, those dazed eyes,
There in the starless dark, the poise, the hover,
There with vast wings across the cancelled skies,
There in the sudden blackness the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing — nothing at all.
And the music makers: