Class Warfare Blog

June 3, 2016

Help! I Need Somebody to Help!

Filed under: Science — Steve Ruis @ 12:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

In a recent article in The Guardian (Universe is expanding up to 9% faster than we thought, say scientists) the topic of the universe expansion is accelerating is brought up again. Astrophysicists are now saying that far galaxies are moving away form us from 5-9% faster than expected. As I understand this they are measuring the speed of far galaxies and finding them moving faster and surmising that those galaxies would have had to have sped up to get to their current. The problem I have is what does “was expected mean.”

The scientific story is that the universe, not just matter and energy, but also space have been expanding at quite a clip since the beginning of the universe 13.8 billion years ago. Opposing this expansion is drag in the form of gravitational attraction between the matter (once it formed, it took a while). So that the longer a galaxy has been around, the more drag it will experience and the slower it would go. It wasn’t that long ago that scientists consider a scenario in which the gravitational attraction would slowly overcome the original impetus supplied by the “Big Bang” and the expansion would stop, reverse it self and all of the stuff of the universe would pull itself back together in what was called the “Big Crunch.”

Opposing the possibility of the Big Crunch scenario was the universe would expand forever scenario and several others. What was needed was data to distinguish between the competing scenarios.

As it turned out, the Big Crunch does not seem to work, currently most think the universe keeps expanding forever, but the question is how.

The idea of gravitational drag says something about what is going on. Since galaxies on the “edge” of the universe (those first created and moving longest) are now farther apart from other galaxies, the drag due to the gravitational pull of those other galaxies is less, so they should be slowing less that galaxies closer to the center of the universe. The galaxies on the “edge” are not only getting farther from the center but also farther from those galaxies to either side. This we were taught in grade school. The usual demonstration was to put to ink dots on a balloon and show that they get farther apart from one another as the balloon is inflated. The area of the sphere (centered on the center of the universe) gets larger as the square of the radius so the sideways expansion is as significant if not more than the expansion from the center of the universe.

So, since the galaxies farther away have been slowed at a lower rate (a lower deceleration) than closer galaxies, should they not be a tiny bit faster … ?

Or … did those galaxies have to go through stages like the ones closer in, so as to have the same effect on all?

This is very confusing. In order for an actual acceleration be going on, there must be some unseen “pushing” force, never encountered before (the so-called dark energy) or an unseen pull force never seen before (the so-called dark matter), or possibly the rate of space-time expanding is itself undergoing a rate change. I have not read anyone who has a handle on the expansion of space-time during the Big Bang so I suspect no one is an expert on a possible contraction or acceleration of it now.

Anyone? Anybody out there understand this?

(I suspect Sean Carroll might but currently I am ticked off with Dr. Carroll, which I will explain in my next post.)



  1. I understand what you are saying. I am familiar with the concepts. But you will have to look elsewhere for an expert 🙂

    Comment by shelldigger — June 4, 2016 @ 5:36 pm | Reply

    • The concepts of dark energy and dark matter sounds like grasping for straws and not realistic concepts. They are “things like” rather than serious predictions.

      It might also be like one of those things where people who say they understand quantum mechanics are lying. The whole practice of science is trying to train one’s mind to work like what one is studying and now we know that brain plasticity is at the core of that. But some of these things are rooted in behaviors so alien from the biology of our brains that to really understand them might require far from human transformation. (And theoretical physicists are considered weird now!)

      On Sat, Jun 4, 2016 at 5:36 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 4, 2016 @ 9:44 pm | Reply

      • Well, in a sense I believe they (DM/DE) are grasping at straws. They exist to fill the gaps in what we (think we) know vs. what we see.

        The models, based on what we (may) understand won’t work, can’t be expalined, without our new friends DM/DE.

        So DM/DE have been theorized to explain what we see, but do not yet understand. There is some sort of force working there, we know it is there, we just don’t have a handle on how/why it works. That is my understanding of the current situation.

        I feel like they will figure it though. And DM/DE will be better understood. Eventually.

        Anything quantum is water to deep for me. All I know there is they consider subatomic particles and electromagnetic waves to be have characteristics of both particles and waves. That is enough to drive me mad from the get go. I think the only person who thinks he has a handle on that subject is Deepak Chopra 😉

        Comment by shelldigger — June 5, 2016 @ 7:10 am | Reply

        • LOL! Deepak Chopra and other “users” of quantum phenomena understand so little. I even find scientists still stuck in primitive thought patterns. For example, many still believe that a quantum jump is spacial when it is entirely energetic (no spatial jump is required to make a “quantum leap”). The idea od electrons “jumping” from orbit to orbit without being in the space “between” was indeed strange, but it was because of the orbits (which were wrong). A hydrogenic electron can be in the 1s orbital, then absorb a photon of light energy and be in the 2s orbital with out moving at all (because all of the orbitals overlap to some extend–all being unbounded).

          I found quantum mechanics fascinating but I suspect it has changed a bit in the 45 years since I studied it seriously (and it was from a chemist’s viewpoint).

          I find it humbling that the “secrets” of the universe don’t just fall into our laps. A great deal of sweat (and tears) are involved in prising loose even just one fundamental tidbit. (Further evidence that the universe was not “designed” for us.)

          Comment by Steve Ruis — June 5, 2016 @ 9:06 am | Reply

  2. With that you have exceeded my quantum knowledge by about 2 light years 🙂

    Chopra is such a quark, I thought you might get a kick out of that. (semi evil grin)

    The universe wasn’t designed for us? /end snark

    We are darn lucky there exists a place for us to dwell. For now. The only certain aspect about the universe and life itself is, change is inevitable.

    Comment by shelldigger — June 5, 2016 @ 6:51 pm | Reply

    • That’s for sure (especially my waistline!).

      I suspect Deepak Chopra took his degrees at Charlatan U.

      On Sun, Jun 5, 2016 at 6:51 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Comment by Steve Ruis — June 5, 2016 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

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