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OBSERVATIONAL COSMOLOGY

By Ruth Ballard and John Dobson
Published 2005-02-17 11:28:51

OBSERVATIONAL COSMOLOGY

Can we, strictly on the basis of observation, and without the introduction of singularities, find a cosmological model capable of explaining the red shift, the background radiation, the origin of the hydrogen and the existence of galaxies and stars?

 

It was on a paucity of observation that most of the ancient peoples put the centre of the universe within their own domains. Only the people of the Indus Valley Civilization, whose traders carried antimony to Egypt and brought back tin from Western Europe put it far outside, some two thousand miles to the west. Some four thousand years later, Copernicus, on the basis of night-time observations more careful than those of Ptolemy of Alexandria in the second century A.D., put the centre off the earth entirely. But even he put it only ninety three million miles away, on our own sun. Early in this century, on the basis of much more sophisticated observations, Shapely and Trumpler had pushed the centre some thirty thousand light years farther out, to the centre of the galaxy. But Hubble, by then, had found that galaxies, much like our own, were flung about in space as far as the hundred inch telescope could see. And only then did it cross our minds that perhaps the universe has no centre at all.

 

By now our observations are far more extensive, and by now we understand that the entire universe consists primarily of hydrogen which seems to be falling together in its own gravitational field to galaxies and stars. But by now our understanding of physics has gravely changed, and problems undreamed of in those old days have now arisen.

 

By now we understand, from quantum mechanics, that the very existence of the hydrogen atom rests on an uncertainty. We understand, from Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which is the root notion of quantum mechanics, that the behavior of matter is governed by an unavoidable uncertainty in our measurements arising from the fact that the measurement itself necessarily disturbs what it measures. We understand now that only this uncertainty "explains" why the hydrogen atom exists, why the electron won't sit down on the proton, and that only this uncertainty "explains" why we don't fall through the floor or why the planets and the white dwarf stars don't collapse in their own gravitational fields.

 

By now we also understand, from relativity theory, that space and time are opposites and that the observer sees events away from him in space only by seeing them back in time in just such a way that the space and time separations are equal and the total separation, the four-dimensional separation, between the event of perception and the event perceived is zero. And we also understand from relativity theory that mass and energy are one and the same (E=mc2). And that what we have been calling the mass of the hydrogen atom is simply its electro-gravitational rest energy. That is, we see a universe consisting preponderantly of hydrogen atoms spaced out from each other against their mutual gravitational attraction in such a way that the gravitational energy represented by the dispersion is equal to the rest mass of the particles. But at the same time we see that the hydrogen atoms consist of electrical charges squeezed down against their own electrical repulsion to minute particles in such a way that the electrical energy represented by their smallness is, again, equal to the rest mass of the particles. (See Dobson, "The Electro-gravitational Rest Energy of the Primordial Hydrogen", Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Volume 88, p.606.)

 

These notions, arising from relativity theory and quantum mechanics, have brought a sea-change in our physics, and it is against the background of this sea-change that we must now understand the observations, the problems and the suggested solutions which form the subject matter or modern cosmology.

 

The Observations and the Problems

 

As we mentioned earlier, what we see now when we look into the far reaches of the observable universe, is that the universe consists primarily of hydrogen which seems to be falling together in its own gravitational field to galaxies and stars. What we don't know is whence came, or whence comes, the hydrogen or why it is made up of discrete electrical particles showing gravity and inertia, or when first it fell together into galaxies and stars.

 

We also see that in the radiation from the distant galaxies the spectral lines, as seen by us, are displaced toward the red end of the spectrum. It is from this evidence that it is usually inferred that the universe is expanding. What we don't know is whence comes this expansion, if it is an expansion, and if not, whence comes the red shift.

 

We further see that from all directions in space, we receive a great deal of radiation in the microwave, an isotropic background radiation which has the form of a black body radiation at about 2.7° Kelvin. What we do not clearly understand is how, or from what regions of deep space, this background radiation arises.

 

From these four observations, that the observable universe consists largely of galaxies and stars, that the galaxies and stars consist primarily of hydrogen, that the radiation from the distant galaxies is red shifted, and that from some unexplored regions of space we receive an isotropic background radiation, have arisen four of the great questions facing the modern cosmologists. And we must now examine several recently fashionable cosmological models with an eye to determining whether or not they can satisfactorily answer these questions: Whence the hydrogen? Whence the galaxies and stars? Whence the red shift? Whence the background radiation?

 

Three Models of the Universe

 

Out of an effort to explain the red shift arose the big bang hypothesis. It was inferred, by Gamov and others, that the red shift was simply a Doppler shift occasioned by the recession of those galaxies from us. On the basis of this understanding it was suggested that some fifteen thousand million of our years ago, all the matter of the observable universe was collected in a very small space, and that from this condition of compression it exploded outward, giving rise to the now observable recession.

 

Several problems have arisen in connection with this interpretation of the red shift. First, according to our current understanding, if all the matter of the universe had ever been confined to such a small space, its subsequent expansion would have been forbidden by its own gravitational encapsulation to what is now referred to as a black hole.

 

The second and third problems have to do with the temperature of the fireball. At the required temperature, according to our current understanding, the fireball, in its early stages, must have been smooth, i.e. without density fluctuations, and composed almost entirely of radiation. As the fireball expanded and cooled it is suggested that the radiation itself gave rise to the electrical particles of which the universe is now seen to be composed. But radiation, cooling to electrical particles, is known to give rise to equal numbers of particles and anti-particles. And there is no evidence that the observable universe is so composed.

 

Finally, if the universe expanded, some fifteen thousand million years ago, from a fireball of the required smoothness, then our current understanding is unable to account for the gravitational condensation of galaxies and stars, within the still expanding gas, in so short a time.

 

To obviate this last difficulty, as well as to avoid the necessity of introducing a singularity into the cosmological model, it was pointed out, by Hoyle and others, that even assuming the expansion to be real, we are not required to assume that it had its beginning in an explosion. Instead, it was proposed that a continuous expansion, without decreasing density, could be maintained by a continuous creation of new hydrogen throughout the expanding spaces.

 

However, the recent observational discovery of the quantitatively important cosmic background radiation has thrown this second suggestion into disfavor. It is generally considered that the steady state model cannot account for the existence of this 2.7° Kelvin background radiation, which is usually interpreted as the "echo" of the "big bang" i.e. the brightness of the fireball seen Doppler shifted by fifteen thousand million years of expansion, and which is often referred to as the "proof" of the big bang model and the "tombstone" of the steady state.

 

This interpretation, however, leaves unsolved all the problems of the big bang model, mentioned earlier, which it was hoped that the steady state model would obviate.

 

Thus, conceding the necessity of fitting our theoretical models to the observational constraints, rather than to the conceptual constraints arising from classical physics, Sir Fred Hoyle has recently called in question the interpretation of the red shift as evidence of expansion. "Expansion with respect to what" he asks. Obviously, with respect to the sizes of the atoms. But if we look at this the other way around, it is tantamount to the suggestion that the universe is not expanding at all but simply that the atoms are getting continuously smaller. (See Hoyle, Highlights in Astronomy, pp. 164-69_. It is the same as the problem of whether the largeness of the elephant is due to the smallness of the mouse, or whether the smallness of the mouse is due to the largeness of the elephant. Now if we look at the red shift the other way around, and consider that the atoms are getting smaller, it will, as he points out, have consequences which we can examine theoretically.

 

Since the electrical rest mass of the particles is related to their sizes (i.e. work must be done to make them small), it is clear that a decrease in size would entail and increase in rest mass. His suggested explanation of the red shift, then, is simply that as we look far away from us in space, and therefore far back in time, we are seeing the radiation from the atoms at a time when they really were larger and less massive. The question is: What governs the change in the size and rest mass of the particles? His answer is gravitational interaction. He suggests that the gravitational interactions which have given rise to the present rest mass of the particles began some fifteen thousand million years ago, at a time singularity which the proponents of the big bang theory refer to as the "beginning of the universe". But instead of considering the time singularity as the beginning of the universe, we need only consider it, he points out, as a cross-over from a time of minus-minus gravitational interactions to a time of plus-plus gravitational interactions.

 

Here he seems to regard electricity and gravity as opposites in the sense that whereas like electrical charges repel and unlike electrical charges attract, like gravitational charges attract and unlike gravitational charges repel. Then, at times greatly in excess of fifteen thousand million years ago, that is, far from the singularity on the far side, when the gravitational interactions were predominantly plus-plus but close to the singularity, on either side, when the plus-minus interactions (repulsive) were nearly equal to the sum of the plus-plus and minus-minus interaction (attractive), the rest masses of the particles would, necessarily, be less, approaching zero at the singularity.

 

At the cost of introducing this time singularity, Sir Fred is then able to explain not only the red shift, but the background radiation and the existence of galaxies and stars as well. The red shift, as mentioned earlier, is explained as the radiation from the atoms that really were larger and less massive. The background radiation is explained as the radiation from stars and galaxies in the time before the singularity, thermalized to a 2.7° Kelvin black body radiation by its interaction with particles of low rest mass at times close to the singularity. Finally, since the universe is not considered to be expanding, the problem of how galaxies arose, within the expanding gas, in so short a time, does not arise.

 

It will be remembered that none of these models has a satisfactory explanation for the origin of the hydrogen, and that even at the cost of introducing a singularity, the big bang model failed to explain the existence of galaxies and stars. It will also be remembered that the old steady state model failed to explain the background radiation. And Hoyle's new cosmological suggestion is able to explain the red shift, the background radiation and also the appearance of galaxies and stars, but only by introducing a singularity not found necessary in the old steady state mode. Can we avoid the singularity and yet find solutions for the four problems of modern cosmology, including the origin of the hydrogen? Can we, confining ourselves to the observational point of view of modern physics, avoid the difficulties facing the three models discussed above in the construction of a fourth?

 

The Fourth

 

Since without the introduction of the gravitational singularity suggested by Sir Fred, we (the authors) have already understood electricity and gravity as opposites, but in a somewhat different sense (See Dobson, cited above), and also since we understand the smallness of the proton as appearing by contrast to the overall largeness of the observable universe, rather than by contrast to the distances between the clusters of galaxies, we choose to go along with the older interpretation of the red shift. That is, that it is due to a cosmological expansion. But what is the driving mechanism for this expansion? The steady state had no answer, and we cannot accept the mechanism suggested by the big bang theory since it is beset by too many problems. Rather than seeing it as arising from a sudden, inexplicable explosion, we see the expansion as arising from the continual gravitational condensation of the hydrogen into galaxies and stars.

 

When we take a close look at what we know about the overall flow of energy in the universe as a whole, we find an odd thing. We find that the energy is being converted primarily from gravitational energy to radiation. As gravity condenses the hydrogen to galaxies and stars they radiate away this energy into the expansion of the space. And even if, after several thousand million years, the radiation is absorbed at all, (which is an unlikely event) it is absorbed with an energy far less than the energy of its emission. Now where does all the radiation go? Where does the energy go which the radiation loses in its long traverse of the vast, expanding spaces of the universe? It is lost in the expansion. If the universe did not expand the energy would not be lost and the night sky might not be dark.

 

Now in an internal combustion engine, when the energy of the expanding gases is lost to the expansion of the chamber, we say that the energy of the expanding gases is the cause of the expansion of the chamber. Can we not say, then, in the same sense, that the energy of the radiation that is lost to the expansion of the universe drives that expansion?

 

Now the observable universe must have a boundary imposed by this expansion, since objects receding from the observer faster than the speed of light cannot be seen or gravitationally felt by him or her. And the greater the rate of expansion, the smaller the universe enclosed within the boundary. Because the greater the rate of expansion, the nearer to the observer will be the points at which the receding objects will appear to approach the speed of light. Conversely, the lower the rate of expansion, the larger the universe enclosed within the boundary, and if the expansion were to stop, the universe might, conceivably, be infinite, and the brightness of the night sky might rival our sun.

 

Now if our understanding of the rest mass of the proton is correct, that is, if really it is gravitationally determined, then the greater the rate of expansion, the smaller would be the rest mass of the protons, and vice verse, since the expansion rate governs the size of the observable universe and therefore the number of protons from which each proton sees itself dispersed.

 

Curiously enough, this gives us a governing mechanism on the expansion rate. Because the larger the expansion rate, the smaller the observable universe which determines the rest mass of the particles. And the lower their rest masses the slower their rate of gravitational collapse and, therefore, the lower the radiation rate which drives the expansion. The smaller the expansion rate, on the other hand, the larger would be the observable universe which determines the rest mass of the particles. And the greater their rest masses, the faster their rate of gravitational collapse and, therefore, the greater the radiation rate which drives the expansion.

 

It is in the light of these considerations that we suggested earlier that the smallness of the proton is exactly the same thing as the largeness of the universe. Changing one changes the other. It is the ratio of the smallness of the proton to the largeness of the observable universe that determines the local rest mass of the protons.

 

Now the boundary, imposed on the observable universe by this expansion, is of the nature of an event horizon and no observer can see anything disappear beyond it. Because, as something is seen to approach this boundary, its speed of recession is seen to approach the speed of light. Then its radiation will be seen to be red shifted toward zero energy, its clocks (that is, all its internal motions) will be seen to be red shifted toward a stop, and its progress toward the boundary, along with the motion of its clocks, will also be seen to be red shifted toward a stop.

 

Now if, as seen by us, the energy of the radiation from distant particles appears red shifted away, then, as seen by us, the energy of those particles themselves, and therefore their rest masses, must likewise appear red shifted away. Now this apparent loss of rest mass by particles near the boundary clears up our understanding of the boundary in two important ways. First, the radiation reaching us from the region of the low rest mass particles must come in thermalized to a black body radiation at very low temperature, as we find it in the 2.7° Kelvin background radiation. And second, the particles themselves may be recycled back into the observable universe through the uncertainty principle. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle relates the observer to the observed through a necessary uncertainty in the position and momentum of the observed particles in such a way this if the uncertainty in the momentum of a particle approaches zero, the uncertainty in its position must approach infinity. Now as the mass of a particle approaches zero our uncertainty in its momentum must also approach zero because that momentum itself approaches zero. But if the uncertainty in the momentum approaches zero as the particle nears the boundary then the uncertainty in its position must approach infinity; so that we can no longer say that it is near the boundary, that is, we can no longer determine by any measurement that it is there.

 

From this standpoint, then, we can understand the "continuous" creation required by the old steady state model as no creation at all but simply as material from the boundary, recycled through the uncertainty principle, in the form of new hydrogen, with possibly some helium, and reappearing anywhere in the observable universe.

 

In the first three models sketched above, the universe is "actual" and "objective". Only in the fourth are actuality and objectivity called in question, and it may seem at first sight that this runs counter to the whole trend of modern physics. Bur that is far from true, it runs counter only to the point of view of classical physics, and we know that that physics was wrong.

 

We assumed, long ago, that the universe had a centre which could be objectively located. Ptolemy put it on the earth. Copernicus put it on the sun. others, more recently, have put it elsewhere, but always on the same assumption, that the universe is actual rather than observational. But if, at Einstein's suggestion, "we confine ourselves to observable", then we see that, regardless of the interpretation of the apparent expansion, the red shift imposes a boundary on the observable universe such that all observers, no matter how far apart they appear to be, find themselves at the centre.

 

What is seen in the first and third models as the objective singularity is seen in the fourth as an observational boundary to an observable universe. It is, at one, a boundary of mass, of energy, of space and of time. But it is not a boundary which can be visited. It is not a boundary which can be reached by an observer. The observer is always remote from the boundary by a distance which is the same in all directions and determined by the expansion rate.

 

Seen from this standpoint, we can, without the introduction of a singularity, explain the red shift, the background radiation, the existence of galaxies and stars and even the origin of the new hydrogen suggested in the old steady state.

 

One problem however, remains; probably the greatest problem of astronomy and the greatest problem of all physics.

 

Whence this Hydrogen?

 

It must by now be obvious that none of the tree cosmological models discussed above is in a position even to attack the problem of the origin of the hydrogen. The big bang model has no source for the fireball. The old steady state had no source for the continuous creation. And Hoyle's new cosmological suggestion simply pushes the problem to a remote past. It is only from the standpoint of the fourth that the problem can even be attacked. But, since a detailed discussion of the nature and origin of the hydrogen would be lengthy, we are forced to leave it for another article on apparitional geometry.

 

Before concluding, however, we would like to point up the nature of the problem. Hydrogen is made of energy, primarily electro-gravitational energy. Now if all we mean by causation is the transformation of that energy, from one form to another, then we have thrown in the sponge on the problem of the origin of the hydrogen because energy cannot arise from a transformation of energy. Nor can the conservation laws which govern transformational causation arise from such a transformation. As we see it, the problem really arises from rejecting the root notions of relativity theory and quantum mechanics and falling back, at the prompting of the genes, to the old, classical notion that the universe is actual, that is, that whatever exists arises by transformation.