Friday, November 24, 2006

That energy is dark. And old too.

I just read a brief article entitled Dark Fingerprints in the November 18th, 2006 issue of Science News about new Hubble telescope results for "dark energy." These results (although the brief report didn’t go into the details) support the notion that the anti-gravity dark energy, which accounts for 70% of the universe's energy and matter, (a) was present in the universe at least nine billion years ago (extending the limit by four billion years) and (b) stems from the vacuum, pervades all space, and has a constant energy density.

These findings would then tend to strengthen the hypothesis that the dark energy comes from the cosmological constant. This constant, with precisely the characteristics hinted at by recent findings, was first proposed by Einstein then quickly abandoned. (That would be when Einstein disagreed with the biblical predication that our universe had a beginning.) The idea has been resurrected in this era of high precision cosmology to account for the unexpected result that the universe’s expansion is accelerating.

The Science News article did not bother to mention that the cosmological constant explanation of dark energy represents the greatest fine tuning in scientific history. For our universe to support life, the cosmological constant must be 120 orders of magnitude smaller than its expected value (but no more—i.e., it can't be zero, because something that is nothing cannot account for 70% of the universe.)

For those who believe that science is the enemy—we see another example that points to the opposite. The cosmologists performing these experiments may be believers or atheists—it's impossible to say because presumably (and rightly so) their irrelevant personal motivations were omitted from their proposals and their reports. However their findings, while not shedding light on its ultimate explanation—God or the multiverse—unambiguously support the fine-tuning conclusion.

Science rocks.

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