Is the universe ringing like a crystal glass?

The standard view of the expanding universe.

The standard view of the expanding universe.

Many know the phrase “the big bang theory.” There’s even a top television comedy series with that as its title. According to scientists, the universe began with the “big bang” and expanded to the size it is today. Yet, the gravity of all of this matter, stars, gas, galaxies, and mysterious dark matter, tries to pull the universe back together, slowing down the expansion.

Now, two physicists at The University of Southern Mississippi, Lawrence Mead and Harry Ringermacher, have discovered that the universe might not only be expanding, but also oscillating or “ringing” at the same time. Their paper on the topic has been published in the April 2015 issue of the Astronomical Journal.
In 1978 Arno Allan Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson received the Nobel prize for their 1964 discovery of the key signature of this theory, the primal radiation from the early universe known as the “cosmic microwave background” (CMB).
“Then in 1998 the finding that the universe was not only expanding, but was speeding up, or accelerating in its expansion was a shock when it was discovered simultaneously by east coast and west coast teams of astronomers and physicists,” said Mead. “A new form of matter, dark energy, repulsive in nature, was responsible for the speed-up. The teams led by Saul Perlmutter, Adam Riess, and Brian Schmidt won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for that discovery.”
According to Mead and Ringermacher, this change from slowing down to speeding up (the transition time) took place approximately 6 to 7 billion years ago. Since then, Mead and Ringermacher say a vast accumulation of high-tech data has verified the theory to extraordinary accuracy.
Figure 1 is a NASA diagram representing the events of the Big Bang from the beginning of time to the present day as described by the current, accepted model known as “Lambda CDM” or Lambda Cold Dark Matter, where the Greek Lambda stands for Einstein’s “cosmological constant”. This cosmological constant is responsible for the acceleration of the universe. The outline of the “bell-shaped” universe represents its expanding size. The transition time is the point in time at which the bell shape shifts from going inward to outward from left to right.

“The new finding suggests that the universe has slowed down and speeded up, not just once, but 7 times in the last 13.8 billion years, on average emulating dark matter in the process,” said Mead. “The ringing has been decaying and is now very small – much like striking a crystal glass and hearing it ring down.”

The universe ringing while expanding.

The universe ringing while expanding.

Figure 2 shows the new finding superposed on the Lambda CDM model of Figure 1. The oscillation amplitude is highly exaggerated, but the frequency is roughly correct. Ringermacher and Mead have determined that this oscillation is not a wave moving through the universe, such as a gravitational wave, but rather it is a “wave of the universe”.
Ringermacher says the discovery was made accidentally when, through their collaboration on dark matter modeling of galaxies, they found a new way of plotting a classic textbook graph describing the scale of the universe against its age (lookback time) that did not depend on one’s prior choice of models of the universe – as was traditional.
“The standard graph, the Hubble diagram, is constructed by astronomers observing the distances of Type 1A Supernovae that serve as “standard candles” for measuring the expansion of the universe,” said Ringermacher. “Analyzing this new plot to locate the transition time of the universe, we found there was more than one such time – in fact multiple oscillations with a frequency of about 7 cycles over the lifetime of the universe. It is space itself that has been speeding up its expansion followed by slowing down 7 times since creation.”
Mead and Ringermacher say this finding must ultimately be verified by independent analyses, preferably of new supernovae data, to confirm its reality. In the meantime, their work into the “ringing” of the universe continues.

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Astronomers Hedge on Big Bang Detection Claim


A group of astronomers who announced in March that they had detected space-time disturbances — gravity waves — from the beginning of the Big Bang repeated that claim Thursday but conceded that dust from the Milky Way galaxy might have interfered with their observations.

The original announcement, apparently heralding what they said was “a new era” in cosmology, astounded and exhilarated scientists around the world. At a splashy news conference on March 17 at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., the talk quickly turned to multiple universes and Nobel Prizes.

But even as reporters and scientists were gathering there, others convened on Facebook and elsewhere to begin picking apart the findings. What ensued was a rare example of the scientific process — sharp elbows, egos and all — that has played out over the last three months.

If indeed true, the detection of those gravity waves would confirm a theory that the universe began with a violent outward anti-gravitational swoosh known as inflation — a notion that would explain the uniformity of the heavens, among other mysteries, and put physicists in touch with quantum forces that prevailed when the universe was only a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. The idea once seemed like science fiction, but the astronomers’ findings put it almost tangibly in reach.

As everyone involved said at the time, however, the results needed to be confirmed; it was far too soon to book travel to those other universes.

Now, after weeks of public and private wrangling, discussion and debate with peer reviewers and other astrophysicists, the group, which goes by the name Bicep, has published its official paper in the journal Physical Review Letters. The authors, led by John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, write that they stand by their original claim — but they also now acknowledge it is possible that dust in the Milky Way galaxy might have interfered with their observations, producing much or even all of their signal. Continue reading Astronomers Hedge on Big Bang Detection Claim

Recipe for a universe: Apply heat and stir.

Expanding universe can emerge in remarkably simple way

Recipe for a universe: Apply heat and stir.

Recipe for a universe: Apply heat and stir.

When soup is heated, it starts to boil. When time and space are heated, an expanding universe can emerge, without requiring anything like a “Big Bang”. This phase transition between a boring empty space and an expanding universe containing mass has now been mathematically described by a research team at the Vienna University of Technology, together with colleagues from Harvard, the MIT and Edinburgh. The idea behind this result is a remarkable connection between quantum field theory and Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Everybody knows of the transitions between liquid, solid and gaseous phases. But also time and space can undergo a phase transition, as the physicists Steven Hawking and Don Page pointed out in 1983. They calculated that empty space can turn into a black hole at a specific temperature.
Can a similar process create a whole expanding universe such as ours? Daniel Grumiller from the Vienna University of Technology looked into this, together with colleagues from the USA and Great Britain. Their calculations show that there is indeed a critical temperature at which an empty, flat spacetime turns into an expanding universe with mass. “The empty spacetime starts to boil, little bubbles form, one of which expands and eventually takes up all of spacetime”, explains Grumiller.
For this to be possible, the universe has to rotate – so the recipe for creating the universe is “apply heat and stir”. However, the required rotation can be arbitrarily small. In a first step, a spacetime with only two spatial dimensions was considered. “But there is no reason why the same should not be true for a universe with three spatial dimensions”, says Grumiller.

Looking for the Structure of the Universe
Our own universe does not seem to have come into existence this way. The phase-transition model is not meant to replace the theory of the Big Bang. “Today, cosmologists know a lot about the early universe – we are not challenging their findings. But we are interested in the question, which phase transitions are possible for time and space and how the mathematical structure of spacetime can be described” says Grumiller.
The new theory is the logical next step after the so called “AdS-CFT correspondence”, a conjecture put forward in 1997, which has strongly influenced fundamental physics research ever since. It describes a peculiar connection between theories of gravity and quantum field theories – two areas which, at first glance, do not have much in common. In certain limiting cases, according to AdS-CFT correspondence, statements from quantum field theories can be translated into statements concerning gravitational theories and vice versa. This is almost as surprising as the idea of making statements about a stone falling to the ground by actually calculating the temperature of a hot gas. Two completely different areas are being connected – but it works.

In this kind of correspondence, the quantum field theory is always described in one fewer dimension than the gravitational theory. This is called “holographic principle”. Similar to a two dimensional hologram which can depict a three dimensional object, a quantum field theory with two spatial dimensions can describe a physical situation in three spatial dimensions.

A Correspondence Principle for Flat Spacetimes
To do this, the gravitational calculations usually have to be done in an exotic kind of geometry – in so-called “Anti-de-Sitter-spaces”, which are quite different from the flat geometry we are used to. However, it has been suspected for a while, that there may be a similar version of the “holographic principle” for flat spacetimes. But for a long time there haven’t been any models showing this.
Last year, Daniel Grumiller and colleagues established such a model (in two spatial dimensions, for simplicity). This led to the current question; phase transitions in quantum field theories are well known. But for symmetry reasons this would mean that gravitational theories should exhibit phase transitions too.
“At first, this was a mystery for us”, says Daniel Grumiller. “This would mean a phase transition between an empty spacetime and an expanding universe. To us, this sounded extremely implausible.” But the calculations showed exactly that. “We are only beginning to understand these remarkable correspondence relations”, says Daniel Grumiller. Which new ideas about our own universe can be derived from this, is hard to say – only spacetime will tell.

More information: “Cosmic evolution from phase transition of 3-dimensional flat space.” Arjun Bagchi, Stephane Detournay, Daniel Grumiller, Joan Simon. Phys. Rev. Lett. 111, 181301 (2013)
See also: A. Bagchi, S. Detournay and D. Grumiller, Phys. Rev. Lett. 109, 151301 (2012)

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On the bounce (Image: Richard Megna/Fundamental Photographs)

No need for inflation if cosmos was a bouncing baby

On the bounce (Image: Richard Megna/Fundamental Photographs)

On the bounce (Image: Richard Megna/Fundamental Photographs)

OUR universe rose from the ashes of a dying cosmos, thanks to a push from a ghostly force. So says a model supporting the idea that the universe was born not with a bang, but a bounce.

What’s more, the theory would do away with the popular notion that the infant cosmos rapidly ballooned in size during a period called inflation.

The earliest light emitted in the universe, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), dates to about 380,000 years after our cosmic birth. Oddly, it is roughly uniform everywhere we look. This would not be the case if the universe grew up slowly from a single burst. Far-flung regions of the sky should have developed very differently because they were not in contact with each other.

The most widely accepted explanation is that the universe went through a period of rapid expansion in the first slivers of a second after the big bang. This inflation would cause cosmic evenness, because spots that look similar today would have been in contact initially, before suddenly getting shoved apart. Quantum fluctuations in the very early cosmos would have seeded large-scale structures like galaxies …..

Timeline for 1948 papers on the formation of elements and galaxies. Rectangles span dates of
submission and publication. Bent lines mark the dates of presentation of Alpher's thesis, publication of
Gamow (1948b), submission of Alpher and Herman (1949), and oral presentation of Alpher, Herman and
Gamow (1949).

Discovery of the Hot Big Bang: What happened in 1948

Timeline for 1948 papers on the formation of elements and galaxies. Rectangles span dates of submission and publication. Bent lines mark the dates of presentation of Alpher's thesis, publication of Gamow (1948b), submission of Alpher and Herman (1949), and oral presentation of Alpher, Herman and Gamow (1949).

Timeline for 1948 papers on the formation of elements and galaxies. Rectangles span dates of
submission and publication. Bent lines mark the dates of presentation of Alpher’s thesis, publication of
Gamow (1948b), submission of Alpher and Herman (1949), and oral presentation of Alpher, Herman and
Gamow (1949).

P. J. E. Peebles
The idea that the universe is lled with the thermal radiation now termed the Cosmic Microwave Background was rst discussed in eleven publications in the year 1948.
These papers o er a detailed example of the process of development of a new and now very productive line of research, and of the confusion that can attend new ideas.
The confusion in this case left a common misunderstanding of the considerations that motivated the idea of the sea of radiation.