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Showing posts with label Martin Rees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Martin Rees. Show all posts

Sunday, January 15, 2012

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DEEP, ELEGANT, OR BEAUTIFUL EXPLANATION?

Scientists' greatest pleasure comes from theories that derive the solution to some deep puzzle from a small set of simple principles in a surprising way. These explanations are called "beautiful" or "elegant". Historical examples are Kepler's explanation of complex planetary motions as simple ellipses, Bohr's explanation of the periodic table of the elements in terms of electron shells, and Watson and Crick's double helix. Einstein famously said that he did not need experimental confirmation of his general theory of relativity because it "was so beautiful it had to be true." See:2012 : WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DEEP, ELEGANT, OR BEAUTIFUL EXPLANATION?
See which comments resonate with you. Some of my picks as I go through was by :

Raphael Bousso
Professor of Theoretical Physics, Berkeley



My Favorite Annoying Elegant Explanation: Quantum Theory .......General Relativity, in turn, is only a classical theory. It rests on a demonstrably false premise: that position and momentum can be known simultaneously. This may a good approximation for apples, planets, and galaxies: large objects, for which gravitational interactions tend to be much more important than for the tiny particles of the quantum world. But as a matter of principle, the theory is wrong. The seed is there. General Relativity cannot be the final word; it can only be an approximation to a more general Quantum Theory of Gravity.

But what about Quantum Mechanics itself? Where is its seed of destruction? Amazingly, it is not obvious that there is one. The very name of the great quest of theoretical physics—"quantizing General Relativity"—betrays an expectation that quantum theory will remain untouched by the unification we seek. String theory—in my view, by far the most successful, if incomplete, result of this quest—is strictly quantum mechanical, with no modifications whatsoever to the framework that was completed by Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and Dirac. In fact, the mathematical rigidity of Quantum Mechanics makes it difficult to conceive of any modifications, whether or not they are called for by observation.

Yet, there are subtle hints that Quantum Mechanics, too, will suffer the fate of its predecessors. The most intriguing, in my mind, is the role of time. In Quantum Mechanics, time is an essential evolution parameter. But in General Relativity, time is just one aspect of spacetime, a concept that we know breaks down at singularities deep inside black holes. Where time no longer makes sense, it is hard to see how Quantum Mechanics could still reign. As Quantum Mechanics surely spells trouble for General Relativity, the existence of singularities suggests that General Relativity may also spell trouble for Quantum Mechanics. It will be fascinating to watch this battle play out.



President, The Royal Society; Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics; Master, Trinity...

Physical Reality Could Be Hugely More Extensive Than the Patch of Space and Time Traditionally Called 'The Universe' .....As an analogy (which I owe to Paul Davies) consider the form of snowflakes. Their ubiquitous six-fold symmetry is a direct consequence of the properties and shape of water molecules. But snowflakes display an immense variety of patterns because each is molded by its distinctive history and micro-environment: how each flake grows is sensitive to the fortuitous temperature and humidity changes during its growth.

If physicists achieved a fundamental theory, it would tell us which aspects of nature were direct consequences of the bedrock theory (just as the symmetrical template of snowflakes is due to the basic structure of a water molecule) and which cosmic numbers are (like the distinctive pattern of a particular snowflake) the outcome of environmental contingencies. .


Theoretical physicist

An Explanation of Fundamental Particle Physics That Doesn't Exist Yet.....What is tetrahedral symmetry doing in the masses of neutrinos?! Nobody knows. But you can bet there will be a good explanation. It is likely that this explanation will come from mathematicians and physicists working closely with Lie groups. The most important lesson from the great success of Einstein's theory of General Relativity is that our universe is fundamentally geometric, and this idea has extended to the geometric description of known forces and particles using group theory. It seems natural that a complete explanation of the Standard Model, including why there are three generations of fermions and why they have the masses they do, will come from the geometry of group theory. This explanation does not yet exist, but when it does it will be deep, elegant, and beautiful—and it will be my favorite.


Mathematician, Harvard; Co-author, The Shape of Inner Space

A Sphere....Most scientific facts are based on things that we cannot see with the naked eye or hear by our ears or feel by our hands. Many of them are described and guided by mathematical theory. In the end, it becomes difficult to distinguish a mathematical object from objects in nature.

One example is the concept of a sphere. Is the sphere part of nature or it is a mathematical artifact? That is difficult for a mathematician to say. Perhaps the abstract mathematical concept is actually a part of nature. And it is not surprising that this abstract concept actually describes nature quite accurately.



theoretical physicist; Professor, Department of Physics, University of California,...
 Gravity Is Curvature Of Spacetime … Or Is It?......We do not yet know the full shape of the quantum theory providing a complete accounting for gravity. We do have many clues, from studying the early quantum phase of cosmology, and ultrahigh energy collisions that produce black holes and their subsequent disintegrations into more elementary particles. We have hints that the theory draws on powerful principles of quantum information theory. And, we expect that in the end it has a simple beauty, mirroring the explanation of gravity-as-curvature, from an even more profound depth.



Albert Einstein Professor in Science, Departments of Physics and Astrophysical...
Quasi-elegance....As a young student first reading Weyl's book, crystallography seemed like the "ideal" of what one should be aiming for in science: elegant mathematics that provides a complete understanding of all physical possibilities. Ironically, many years later, I played a role in showing that my "ideal" was seriously flawed. In 1984, Dan Shechtman, Ilan Blech, Denis Gratias and John Cahn reported the discovery of a puzzling manmade alloy of aluminumand manganese with icosahedral symmetry. Icosahedral symmetry, with its six five-fold symmetry axes, is the most famous forbidden crystal symmetry. As luck would have it, Dov Levine (Technion) and I had been developing a hypothetical idea of a new form of solid that we dubbed quasicrystals, short for quasiperiodic crystals. (A quasiperiodic atomic arrangement means the atomic positions can be described by a sum of oscillatory functions whose frequencies have an irrational ratio.) We were inspired by a two-dimensional tiling invented by Sir Roger Penrose known as the Penrose tiling, comprised of two tiles arranged in a five-fold symmetric pattern. We showed that quasicrystals could exist in three dimensions and were not subject to the rules of crystallography. In fact, they could have any of the symmetries forbidden to crystals. Furthermore, we showed that the diffraction patterns predicted for icosahedral quasicrystals matched the Shechtman et al. observations. Since 1984, quasicrystals with other forbidden symmetries have been synthesized in the laboratory. The 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Dan Shechtman for his experimental breakthrough that changed our thinking about possible forms of matter. More recently, colleagues and I have found evidence that quasicrystals may have been among the first minerals to have formed in the solar system.

The crystallography I first encountered in Weyl's book, thought to be complete and immutable, turned out to be woefully incomplete, missing literally an uncountable number of possible symmetries for matter. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned: While elegance and simplicity are often useful criteria for judging theories, they can sometimes mislead us into thinking we are right, when we are actually infinitely wrong.




Physicist, Harvard University; Author, Warped Passages; Knocking On Heaven's Door

The Higgs Mechanism......Fortunately that time has now come for the Higgs mechanism, or at least the simplest implementation which involves a particle called the Higgs boson. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva should have a definitive result on whether this particle exists within this coming year. The Higgs boson is one possible (and many think the most likely) consequence of the Higgs mechanism. Evidence last December pointed to a possible discovery, though more data is needed to know for sure. If confirmed, it will demonstrate that the Higgs mechanism is correct and furthermore tell us what is the underlying structure responsible for spontaneous symmetry breaking and spreading "charge" throughout the vacuum. The Higgs boson would furthermore be a new type of particle (a fundamental boson for those versed in physics terminology) and would be in some sense a new type of force. Admittedly, this is all pretty subtle and esoteric. Yet I (and much of the theoretical physics community) find it beautiful, deep, and elegant.

Symmetry is great. But so is symmetry breaking. Over the years many aspects of particle physics were first considered ugly and then considered elegant. Subjectivity in science goes beyond communities to individual scientists. And even those scientists change their minds over time. That's why experiments are critical. As difficult as they are, results are much easier to pin down than the nature of beauty. A discovery of the Higgs boson will tell us how that is done when particles acquire their masses.



Professor of Quantum Mechanical Engineering, MIT; Author, Programming the Universe
 The True Rotational Symmetry of Space.....Although this excercise might seem no more than some fancy and painful basketball move, the fact that the true symmetry of space is rotation not once but twice has profound consequences for the nature of the physical world at its most microscopic level. It implies that 'balls' such as electrons, attached to a distant point by a flexible and deformable 'strings,' such as magnetic field lines, must be rotated around twice to return to their original configuration. Digging deeper, the two-fold rotational nature of spherical symmetry implies that two electrons, both spinning in the same direction, cannot be placed in the same place at the same time. This exclusion principle in turn underlies the stability of matter. If the true symmetry of space were rotating around only once, then all the atoms of your body would collapse into nothingness in a tiny fraction of a second. Fortunately, however, the true symmetry of space consists of rotating around twice, and your atoms are stable, a fact that should console you as you ice your shoulder.

Remember even though I pick some of these explanations does not mean I discount all others. It's just that some are picked for what they are saying in highlighted quotations. Lisi's statement on string theory is of course in my opinion far from the truth, yet,  he captures a geometrical truth that I feel exists.:) You sort of get the jest of where I am coming from in the summation of Paul Steinhardt

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Antarctic Muon And Neutrino Detector Array....

Diagram of IceCube. IceCube will occupy a volume of one cubic kilometer. Here we depict one of the 80 strings of opctical modules (number and size not to scale). IceTop located at the surface, comprises an array of sensors to detect air showers. It will be used to calibrate IceCube and to conduct research on high-energy cosmic rays. Author: Steve Yunck, Credit: NSF




.....(AMANDA) is a neutrino telescope located beneath the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. In 2005, after nine years of operation, AMANDA officially became part of its successor project, IceCube.

AMANDA consists of optical modules, each containing one photomultiplier tube, sunk in Antarctic ice cap at a depth of about 1500 to 1900 meters. In its latest development stage, known as AMANDA-II, AMANDA is made up of an array of 677 optical modules mounted on 19 separate strings that are spread out in a rough circle with a diameter of 200 meters. Each string has several dozen modules, and was put in place by "drilling" a hole in the ice using a hot-water hose, sinking the cable with attached optical modules in, and then letting the ice freeze around it.

AMANDA detects very high energy neutrinos (50+ GeV) which pass through the Earth from the northern hemisphere and then react just as they are leaving upwards through the Antarctic ice. The neutrino collides with nuclei of oxygen or hydrogen atoms contained in the surrounding water ice, producing a muon and a hadronic shower. The optical modules detect the Cherenkov radiation from these latter particles, and by analysis of the timing of photon hits can approximately determine the direction of the original neutrino with a spatial resolution of approximately 2 degrees.

AMANDA's goal was an attempt at neutrino astronomy, identifying and characterizing extra-solar sources of neutrinos. Compared to underground detectors like Super-Kamiokande in Japan, AMANDA was capable of looking at higher energy neutrinos because it is not limited in volume to a manmade tank; however, it had much less accuracy because of the less controlled conditions and wider spacing of photomultipliers. Super-Kamiokande can look at much greater detail at neutrinos from the Sun and those generated in the Earth's atmosphere; however, at higher energies, the spectrum should include neutrinos dominated by those from sources outside the solar system. Such a new view into the cosmos could give important clues in the search for Dark Matter and other astrophysical phenomena.

After two short years of integrated operation as part of IceCube[1], the AMANDA counting house (in the Martin A. Pomerantz Observatory) was finally decommissioned in July and August of 2009.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://icecube.wisc.edu/science/publications/pdd/pdd12.php

External links


****
When a neutrino collides with a water molecule deep in Antarctica’s ice, the particle it produces radiates a blue light called Cerenkov radiation, which IceCube will detect (Steve Yunck/NSF)

See:Dual Nature From Microstate Blackhole Creation?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Physical Cosmology

Physical cosmology

Physical cosmology
WMAP 2010.png
Universe · Big Bang
Age of the universe
Timeline of the Big Bang
Ultimate fate of the universe
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution.[1] For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion. Cosmology as a science originated with the Copernican principle, which implies that celestial bodies obey identical physical laws to those on Earth, and Newtonian mechanics, which first allowed us to understand those laws.

Physical cosmology, as it is now understood, began with the twentieth century development of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity and better astronomical observations of extremely distant objects. These advances made it possible to speculate about the origin of the universe, and allowed scientists to establish the Big Bang Theory as the leading cosmological model. Some researchers still advocate a handful of alternative cosmologies; however, cosmologists generally agree that the Big Bang theory best explains observations.

Cosmology draws heavily on the work of many disparate areas of research in physics. Areas relevant to cosmology include particle physics experiments and theory, including string theory, astrophysics, general relativity, and plasma physics. Thus, cosmology unites the physics of the largest structures in the universe with the physics of the smallest structures in the universe.

Contents

History of physical cosmology

Modern cosmology developed along tandem observational and theoretical tracks. In 1915, Albert Einstein developed his theory of general relativity. At the time, physicists believed in a perfectly static universe without beginning or end. Einstein added a cosmological constant to his theory to try to force it to allow for a static universe with matter in it. The so-called Einstein universe is, however, unstable. It is bound to eventually start expanding or contracting. The cosmological solutions of general relativity were found by Alexander Friedmann, whose equations describe the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker universe, which may expand or contract.

In the 1910s, Vesto Slipher (and later Carl Wilhelm Wirtz) interpreted the red shift of spiral nebulae as a Doppler shift that indicated they were receding from Earth. However, it is difficult to determine the distance to astronomical objects. One way is to compare the physical size of an object to its angular size, but a physical size must be assumed to do this. Another method is to measure the brightness of an object and assume an intrinsic luminosity, from which the distance may be determined using the inverse square law. Due to the difficulty of using these methods, they did not realize that the nebulae were actually galaxies outside our own Milky Way, nor did they speculate about the cosmological implications. In 1927, the Belgian Roman Catholic priest Georges Lemaître independently derived the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker equations and proposed, on the basis of the recession of spiral nebulae, that the universe began with the "explosion" of a "primeval atom"—which was later called the Big Bang. In 1929, Edwin Hubble provided an observational basis for Lemaître's theory. Hubble showed that the spiral nebulae were galaxies by determining their distances using measurements of the brightness of Cepheid variable stars. He discovered a relationship between the redshift of a galaxy and its distance. He interpreted this as evidence that the galaxies are receding from Earth in every direction at speeds directly proportional to their distance. This fact is now known as Hubble's law, though the numerical factor Hubble found relating recessional velocity and distance was off by a factor of ten, due to not knowing at the time about different types of Cepheid variables.
Given the cosmological principle, Hubble's law suggested that the universe was expanding. There were two primary explanations put forth for the expansion of the universe. One was Lemaître's Big Bang theory, advocated and developed by George Gamow. The other possibility was Fred Hoyle's steady state model in which new matter would be created as the galaxies moved away from each other. In this model, the universe is roughly the same at any point in time.

For a number of years the support for these theories was evenly divided. However, the observational evidence began to support the idea that the universe evolved from a hot dense state. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background in 1965 lent strong support to the Big Bang model, and since the precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background by the Cosmic Background Explorer in the early 1990s, few cosmologists have seriously proposed other theories of the origin and evolution of the cosmos. One consequence of this is that in standard general relativity, the universe began with a singularity, as demonstrated by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose in the 1960s.

History of the Universe

The history of the universe is a central issue in cosmology. The history of the universe is divided into different periods called epochs, according to the dominant forces and processes in each period. The standard cosmological model is known as the ΛCDM model.

Equations of motion

The equations of motion governing the universe as a whole are derived from general relativity with a small, positive cosmological constant. The solution is an expanding universe; due to this expansion the radiation and matter in the universe are cooled down and become diluted. At first, the expansion is slowed down by gravitation due to the radiation and matter content of the universe. However, as these become diluted, the cosmological constant becomes more dominant and the expansion of the universe starts to accelerate rather than decelerate. In our universe this has already happened, billions of years ago.

Particle physics in cosmology

Particle physics is important to the behavior of the early universe, since the early universe was so hot that the average energy density was very high. Because of this, scattering processes and decay of unstable particles are important in cosmology.

As a rule of thumb, a scattering or a decay process is cosmologically important in a certain cosmological epoch if the time scale describing that process is smaller or comparable to the time scale of the expansion of the universe, which is 1 / H with H being the Hubble constant at that time. This is roughly equal to the age of the universe at that time.

Timeline of the Big Bang

Observations suggest that the universe began around 13.7 billion years ago. Since then, the evolution of the universe has passed through three phases. The very early universe, which is still poorly understood, was the split second in which the universe was so hot that particles had energies higher than those currently accessible in particle accelerators on Earth. Therefore, while the basic features of this epoch have been worked out in the Big Bang theory, the details are largely based on educated guesses. Following this, in the early universe, the evolution of the universe proceeded according to known high energy physics. This is when the first protons, electrons and neutrons formed, then nuclei and finally atoms. With the formation of neutral hydrogen, the cosmic microwave background was emitted. Finally, the epoch of structure formation began, when matter started to aggregate into the first stars and quasars, and ultimately galaxies, clusters of galaxies and superclusters formed. The future of the universe is not yet firmly known, but according to the ΛCDM model it will continue expanding forever.

Areas of study

Below, some of the most active areas of inquiry in cosmology are described, in roughly chronological order. This does not include all of the Big Bang cosmology, which is presented in Timeline of the Big Bang.

The very early universe

While the early, hot universe appears to be well explained by the Big Bang from roughly 10−33 seconds onwards, there are several problems. One is that there is no compelling reason, using current particle physics, to expect the universe to be flat, homogeneous and isotropic (see the cosmological principle). Moreover, grand unified theories of particle physics suggest that there should be magnetic monopoles in the universe, which have not been found. These problems are resolved by a brief period of cosmic inflation, which drives the universe to flatness, smooths out anisotropies and inhomogeneities to the observed level, and exponentially dilutes the monopoles. The physical model behind cosmic inflation is extremely simple, however it has not yet been confirmed by particle physics, and there are difficult problems reconciling inflation and quantum field theory. Some cosmologists think that string theory and brane cosmology will provide an alternative to inflation.

Another major problem in cosmology is what caused the universe to contain more particles than antiparticles. Cosmologists can observationally deduce that the universe is not split into regions of matter and antimatter. If it were, there would be X-rays and gamma rays produced as a result of annihilation, but this is not observed. This problem is called the baryon asymmetry, and the theory to describe the resolution is called baryogenesis. The theory of baryogenesis was worked out by Andrei Sakharov in 1967, and requires a violation of the particle physics symmetry, called CP-symmetry, between matter and antimatter. Particle accelerators, however, measure too small a violation of CP-symmetry to account for the baryon asymmetry. Cosmologists and particle physicists are trying to find additional violations of the CP-symmetry in the early universe that might account for the baryon asymmetry.

Both the problems of baryogenesis and cosmic inflation are very closely related to particle physics, and their resolution might come from high energy theory and experiment, rather than through observations of the universe.

Big bang nucleosynthesis

Big Bang Nucleosynthesis is the theory of the formation of the elements in the early universe. It finished when the universe was about three minutes old and its temperature dropped below that at which nuclear fusion could occur. Big Bang nucleosynthesis had a brief period during which it could operate, so only the very lightest elements were produced. Starting from hydrogen ions (protons), it principally produced deuterium, helium-4 and lithium. Other elements were produced in only trace abundances. The basic theory of nucleosynthesis was developed in 1948 by George Gamow, Ralph Asher Alpher and Robert Herman. It was used for many years as a probe of physics at the time of the Big Bang, as the theory of Big Bang nucleosynthesis connects the abundances of primordial light elements with the features of the early universe. Specifically, it can be used to test the equivalence principle, to probe dark matter, and test neutrino physics. Some cosmologists have proposed that Big Bang nucleosynthesis suggests there is a fourth "sterile" species of neutrino.

Cosmic microwave background

The cosmic microwave background is radiation left over from decoupling after the epoch of recombination when neutral atoms first formed. At this point, radiation produced in the Big Bang stopped Thomson scattering from charged ions. The radiation, first observed in 1965 by Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson, has a perfect thermal black-body spectrum. It has a temperature of 2.7 kelvins today and is isotropic to one part in 105. Cosmological perturbation theory, which describes the evolution of slight inhomogeneities in the early universe, has allowed cosmologists to precisely calculate the angular power spectrum of the radiation, and it has been measured by the recent satellite experiments (COBE and WMAP) and many ground and balloon-based experiments (such as Degree Angular Scale Interferometer, Cosmic Background Imager, and Boomerang). One of the goals of these efforts is to measure the basic parameters of the Lambda-CDM model with increasing accuracy, as well as to test the predictions of the Big Bang model and look for new physics. The recent measurements made by WMAP, for example, have placed limits on the neutrino masses.

Newer experiments, such as QUIET and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, are trying to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. These measurements are expected to provide further confirmation of the theory as well as information about cosmic inflation, and the so-called secondary anisotropies, such as the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect and Sachs-Wolfe effect, which are caused by interaction between galaxies and clusters with the cosmic microwave background.

Formation and evolution of large-scale structure

Understanding the formation and evolution of the largest and earliest structures (i.e., quasars, galaxies, clusters and superclusters) is one of the largest efforts in cosmology. Cosmologists study a model of hierarchical structure formation in which structures form from the bottom up, with smaller objects forming first, while the largest objects, such as superclusters, are still assembling. One way to study structure in the universe is to survey the visible galaxies, in order to construct a three-dimensional picture of the galaxies in the universe and measure the matter power spectrum. This is the approach of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey.

Another tool for understanding structure formation is simulations, which cosmologists use to study the gravitational aggregation of matter in the universe, as it clusters into filaments, superclusters and voids. Most simulations contain only non-baryonic cold dark matter, which should suffice to understand the universe on the largest scales, as there is much more dark matter in the universe than visible, baryonic matter. More advanced simulations are starting to include baryons and study the formation of individual galaxies. Cosmologists study these simulations to see if they agree with the galaxy surveys, and to understand any discrepancy.

Other, complementary observations to measure the distribution of matter in the distant universe and to probe reionization include:
  • The Lyman alpha forest, which allows cosmologists to measure the distribution of neutral atomic hydrogen gas in the early universe, by measuring the absorption of light from distant quasars by the gas.
  • The 21 centimeter absorption line of neutral atomic hydrogen also provides a sensitive test of cosmology
  • Weak lensing, the distortion of a distant image by gravitational lensing due to dark matter.
These will help cosmologists settle the question of when and how structure formed in the universe.

Dark matter

Evidence from Big Bang nucleosynthesis, the cosmic microwave background and structure formation suggests that about 23% of the mass of the universe consists of non-baryonic dark matter, whereas only 4% consists of visible, baryonic matter. The gravitational effects of dark matter are well understood, as it behaves like a cold, non-radiative fluid that forms haloes around galaxies. Dark matter has never been detected in the laboratory, and the particle physics nature of dark matter remains completely unknown. Without observational constraints, there are a number of candidates, such as a stable supersymmetric particle, a weakly interacting massive particle, an axion, and a massive compact halo object. Alternatives to the dark matter hypothesis include a modification of gravity at small accelerations (MOND) or an effect from brane cosmology.

Dark energy

If the universe is flat, there must be an additional component making up 73% (in addition to the 23% dark matter and 4% baryons) of the energy density of the universe. This is called dark energy. In order not to interfere with Big Bang nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background, it must not cluster in haloes like baryons and dark matter. There is strong observational evidence for dark energy, as the total energy density of the universe is known through constraints on the flatness of the universe, but the amount of clustering matter is tightly measured, and is much less than this. The case for dark energy was strengthened in 1999, when measurements demonstrated that the expansion of the universe has begun to gradually accelerate.

Apart from its density and its clustering properties, nothing is known about dark energy. Quantum field theory predicts a cosmological constant much like dark energy, but 120 orders of magnitude larger than that observed. Steven Weinberg and a number of string theorists (see string landscape) have used this as evidence for the anthropic principle, which suggests that the cosmological constant is so small because life (and thus physicists, to make observations) cannot exist in a universe with a large cosmological constant, but many people find this an unsatisfying explanation. Other possible explanations for dark energy include quintessence or a modification of gravity on the largest scales. The effect on cosmology of the dark energy that these models describe is given by the dark energy's equation of state, which varies depending upon the theory. The nature of dark energy is one of the most challenging problems in cosmology.

A better understanding of dark energy is likely to solve the problem of the ultimate fate of the universe. In the current cosmological epoch, the accelerated expansion due to dark energy is preventing structures larger than superclusters from forming. It is not known whether the acceleration will continue indefinitely, perhaps even increasing until a big rip, or whether it will eventually reverse.

Other areas of inquiry

Cosmologists also study:

See also

References

  1. ^ For an overview, see George FR Ellis (2006). "Issues in the Philosophy of Cosmology". In Jeremy Butterfield & John Earman. Philosophy of Physics (Handbook of the Philosophy of Science) 3 volume set. North Holland. pp. 1183ff. ISBN 0444515607. http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0602280v2. 

Further reading

Popular

Textbooks

  • Cheng, Ta-Pei (2005). Relativity, Gravitation and Cosmology: a Basic Introduction. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-852957-0.  Introductory cosmology and general relativity without the full tensor apparatus, deferred until the last part of the book.
  • Dodelson, Scott (2003). Modern Cosmology. Academic Press. ISBN 0-12-219141-2.  An introductory text, released slightly before the WMAP results.
  • Grøn, Øyvind; Hervik, Sigbjørn (2007). Einstein's General Theory of Relativity with Modern Applications in Cosmology. New York: Springer. ISBN 978-0-387-69199-2. 
  • Harrison, Edward (2000). Cosmology: the science of the universe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-66148-X.  For undergraduates; mathematically gentle with a strong historical focus.
  • Kutner, Marc (2003). Astronomy: A Physical Perspective. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-52927-1.  An introductory astronomy text.
  • Kolb, Edward; Michael Turner (1988). The Early Universe. Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-11604-9.  The classic reference for researchers.
  • Liddle, Andrew (2003). An Introduction to Modern Cosmology. John Wiley. ISBN 0-470-84835-9.  Cosmology without general relativity.
  • Liddle, Andrew; David Lyth (2000). Cosmological Inflation and Large-Scale Structure. Cambridge. ISBN 0-521-57598-2.  An introduction to cosmology with a thorough discussion of inflation.
  • Mukhanov, Viatcheslav (2005). Physical Foundations of Cosmology. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56398-4. 
  • Padmanabhan, T. (1993). Structure formation in the universe. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42486-0.  Discusses the formation of large-scale structures in detail.
  • Peacock, John (1998). Cosmological Physics. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42270-1.  An introduction including more on general relativity and quantum field theory than most.
  • Peebles, P. J. E. (1993). Principles of Physical Cosmology. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-01933-9.  Strong historical focus.
  • Peebles, P. J. E. (1980). The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-08240-5.  The classic work on large scale structure and correlation functions.
  • Rees, Martin (2002). New Perspectives in Astrophysical Cosmology. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-64544-1. 
  • Weinberg, Steven (1971). Gravitation and Cosmology. John Wiley. ISBN 0-471-92567-5.  A standard reference for the mathematical formalism.
  • Weinberg, Steven (2008). Cosmology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198526822. 
  • Benjamin Gal-Or, “Cosmology, Physics and Philosophy”, Springer Verlag, 1981, 1983, 1987, ISBN 0-387-90581-2, ISBN 0387965262.

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