Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Vast Balloon

I was told, the universe is a vast balloon and all the matter rides on the outside membrane of this balloon. When we use the Hubble Space Telescope to look back in time, we see galaxies from all the way back to nearly the very beginning when light began to shine because we can only look backwards in time. As the balloon expands, the various galaxies race away from each other and soon enough, all will spin off into the eternal darkness, never to see each other again, to dwindle into cold pieces of stone...what a delightful idea...not.

I couldn't accept this fatalistic vision. It clashed with too many things, especially the idea that things are born, mature, die and then are reborn in a new form or shape. Nature has a tendency to create as well as destroy.

So I held my tongue for years until the Hubble Space Telescope began to reveal to us the true nature of the Universe. The joy with which I greeted each revelation is inexpressible. I still tear up when I look at some of the mind numbingly beautiful visions.

And I started counting.

How many galaxies are crashing into each other. Great grinding wheels, sliding into each other. "Maybe there is only a few", astronomers said when I was very little. As the clustering of galaxies became more and more obvious, string theory was created to explain this strange thing. Maybe they like string out, only to move away from each other, forever?

Then, in recent years, astronomers began to realize, galaxies slide into each other...a lot. And that we are sliding into Andromeda. And Andromeda and we are sliding along with the Local Group of galaxies into the Great Attractor.

Interacting Galaxies

Fossil Galaxies 'Eat Their Neigbors'

This BBC story is particularily funny because it is full of ideas that are not only half baked, but downright insane. Why would anyone call this giant conglamoration of a star system a "fossil" is beyond belief! It isn't dead yet. Nor dying. Nor going away, for that matter. It is FEEDING. Anything coming near their gravitational pools which should be called gravitational seas, slides helplessly down the maw of these beasts.

It would be like watching a living Tyrannasaurus Rex eat and saying, "It is a fossil" just because we see the results of its dinner 2 million years in the past. As granddaddy would say, "How do you know what it is doing today? There is no way of telling".

Then along comes this attempt at explaining things:

Black Holes 'Do Not Exist'
By Philip Ball © ESA/NASA
Black holes are staples of science fiction and many think astronomers have observed them indirectly. But according to a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, these awesome breaches in space-time do not and indeed cannot exist.

Over the past few years, observations of the motions of galaxies have shown that some 70% the Universe seems to be composed of a strange 'dark energy' that is driving the Universe's accelerating expansion.
George Chapline thinks that the collapse of the massive stars, which was long believed to generate black holes, actually leads to the formation of stars that contain dark energy. "It's a near certainty that black holes don't exist," he claims.
Black holes are one of the most celebrated predictions of Einstein's general theory of relativity, which explains gravity as the warping of space-time caused by massive objects. The theory suggests that a sufficiently massive star, when it dies, will collapse under its own gravity to a single point.
But Einstein didn't believe in black holes, Chapline argues. "Unfortunately", he adds, "he couldn't articulate why." At the root of the problem is the other revolutionary theory of twentieth-century physics, which Einstein also helped to formulate: quantum mechanics.

Ah, someone is treading nearby, but then misses:

He also thinks that the Universe could be filled with 'primordial' dark-energy stars. These are formed not by stellar collapse but by fluctuations of space-time itself, like blobs of liquid condensing spontaneously out of a cooling gas. These, he suggests, could be stuff that has the same gravitational effect as normal matter, but cannot be seen: the elusive substance known as dark matter.
Chapline G. Arxiv, http://xxx.arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0503200 (2005).
Bill Hamilton AstroScience Research Network http://www.astrosciences.info/ "I don't see the logic of rejecting data just because they seem incredible." Fred Hoyle

OK. The "in" thing today is "dark matter". This is the aether of the 21st Century. The mysterious force that "explains" everything. Only....it is a duex ex machina concocted to keep us from thinking about the Tyrannasaurus Rex galaxies happily munching on smaller galaxies.

Cute but no Kuiper doll.

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