The Imaginary Universe

Our Modern Creation Myth

Modern cosmology is an unscientific mess. There is simply no way to avoid this conclusion if the accepted modern cosmological model is fairly judged by scientific standards. The model, most commonly known as the Big Bang, is comprised of axioms and postulates that have no empirical underpinnings. It is further, physically absurd in a way that makes Ptolemy’s geocentric universe look sophisticated.

According to cosmologists the universe is comprised of 5% ordinary matter and energy while 95% of it consists of ‘dark’ energy and ‘dark’ matter. Dark in this case means that said matter and energy cannot be detected or observed in any normal way. Why then do cosmologists insist that these invisible effluvia actually exist?

For one simple reason, the existence of ‘dark’ matter and ‘dark’ energy is necessary to reconcile their standard cosmological model with observational reality. And that’s it. This invisible stuff must exist otherwise the standard model of cosmology is an abject failure.  The fact that dark matter and dark energy cannot be detected, except by their necessity to the model, is supposedly rendered irrelevant by a pithy, pseudo-philosophical aphorism:

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. 

The scientific vapidity of this exculpatory remark is demonstrated by simply applying it to the case of unicorns, angels or any mythological beast of antiquity you might wish to consider.

The preferred name for the Big Bang theory these days is the Lambda-CDM Concordance model which elegantly deploys the strategy, beloved of software manufacturers, of declaring a bug to be a feature. Lambda stands for ‘dark’ energy and CDM is an acronym for cold ‘dark’ matter. In effect the model has been named for two of its most prominent predictive failures. In cosmological circles this failure is deeply discounted lest it have any negative career effects.

I. Dark Matter

Ia. Galactic Rotation Curves

Actually, it is not entirely fair to the standard model to hold it responsible for the dark matter problem although the problem arises in the context of the model. Rather than being a consequence of the axiomatic errors of the model, however, it appears to be based upon an analytical oversimplification stemming from an unfortunate preference for mathematical convenience over analytical rigor.

The claimed galaxy rotation problem has been created by the improper use of the Keplerian method in deriving the expected galactic rotation curves. It is this erroneously calculated expectation that is the source of the perceived problem.

The simple fact is, the observed rotation curves do not exhibit a Keplerian decline because Kepler’s method is inappropriate for calculating for use in calculating galactic orbital velocities. The method was purposefully devised for use in the solar system. When calculating rotation curves for a planet it is assumed that all the mass within the orbit is concentrated as a point mass at the center.

Since 98% of the mass of the solar system is at the center (the sun), the method is perfectly reasonable as a first, two-body approximation for the planetary orbits in the solar system. It is however, perfectly unreasonable for calculating the rotation curves for any object orbiting anywhere in a galactic structure. The mass of a galaxy is simply too widely dispersed to allow such a simplification, no matter how convenient it may be for doing calculations.

This categorical mistake is widely acknowledged, though not as a mistake. This is from the Wikipedia entry on dark matter:

Early mapping of Andromeda with the 300-foot telescope at Green Bank and the 250-foot dish at Jodrell Bank already showed that the HI rotation curve did not trace the expected Keplerian decline.

From a 1980 paper by Rubin, Ford and Thonnard:

Thus the smallest Sc’s (i.e., lowest luminosity) exhibit the same lack of a Keplerian velocity decrease at large R as do the high luminosity spirals.

The ubiquity of the Keplerian method in determining the expected rotation curves of galaxies is clear in even a casual search of the literature.

Evidence that galactic rotation curves can be explained without the invocation of dark matter is found in the Tully-Fisher relation and in these recent studies:

[1609.05917] The Radial Acceleration Relation in Rotationally Supported Galaxies

In a well known 1937 paper the noted astronomer Fred Zwicky raises the interesting and relevant point that the gravitational viscosity which allows the galactic core to rotate as if it were a solid body should not be expected to drop abruptly to zero at radii greater than that of the core but should diminish gradually as the radius of orbiting bodies increases. When applying the Keplerian method outside the core the internal viscosity of the galactic system is reduced (in the model) arbitrarily and abruptly to zero from the radial distance at which it (Keplerian method) is first applied and for all greater orbital radii.

It seems odd that Zwicky’s reasonable physical intuition in this regard has been forgotten or set aside, but a recent paper on the history of dark matter points to the likely culprit, mathematicism:

…one of Zwicky’s main concerns was the possible internal “viscosity” resulting from the mutual interactions of stars. Only four years later, Chandrasekhar would demonstrate in his classic paper, “The Time of Relaxation of Stellar Systems”, that these interactions are completely negligible, allowing one to reliably describe galaxies as systems of non-interacting stars.

Chandrasekhar’s paper does not address the viscosity concept directly at all, but begins with a consideration of random stellar orbits in globular clusters. The model derived is then stretched without justification to apply to the non-random orbits of stars in a galactic disk. The paper does not in any sense demonstrate that viscosity forces in a spiral galaxy can be considered negligible. As mathematics this may be a compelling piece of work, but as science it is irrelevant. There is only, at most, a superficial qualitative analysis contained within the mathematical gymnastics. In fairness and on the evidence, it cannot be said that the author does not know the physics of the subject under consideration (galaxies), but any such knowledge is well concealed in the paper.

The point here is not to pick on Chandrasekhar; his paper is not some isolated, atypical, historical one-off. He’s a perfectly good mathematician just not much of a physicist. Math first is the way science has been done for the last 100 years or so. That approach is backwards and it is wrong.

Observed galactic rotation curves do not require or provide evidence for the existence of dark matter.

Ib. Galaxy Cluster Velocities


The absurdity of 95% of the universe being composed of undetectable ‘stuff’ is only one reason to conclude that there is a better than 95% chance that the standard model is fundamentally wrong. In fact the entire model is composed of ludicrous and absurd claims about the nature of physical reality, assumptions and assertions that lack any empirical foundation.

Is the universe we observe with instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope expanding in a unified, orchestrated way? The evidence for such an unlikely scenario is extremely weak, resting as it does on the assumption that the cause of the cosmological redshift is a recessional velocity. At least that was the original assumption. When that proved untenable because the alleged recessional velocities of distant galaxies were approaching light speed, the story was changed. The galaxies were no longer receding from one another; the spacetime between them was expanding. What you have then is a recession without a velocity and scientific realism disappears down a mathematical black hole.

No one has ever observed the existence of a ‘spacetime independent of the matter and energy that supposedly occupy it. The only scientifically valid statement that can be made about spacetime is that it is a relational concept, like temperature. The standard model, however, assumes that a physical, substantival spacetime exists and is, additionally, expanding uniformly and universally. The former is an a priori assumption of the model while the latter is an ad hoc mathematical fiction. There is no observational evidence to support either claim.

Expanding spacetime exists only for the purpose of reconciling the standard model, which presumes the expansion of the universe, with the physical reality that doesn’t seem to reflect that peculiar behavior. Expanding spacetime is a mathematical construct which has no physical correlate in the same way that Ptolemy’s epicycles have no physical correlate. Like ‘dark’ energy and ‘dark’ matter, expanding spacetime only exists in the model that requires it, not in the physical reality we actually observe.

Was the entire cosmos once upon a time compressed into a space smaller than a gnat’s ass? That may seem an absurd proposition, but theoretical cosmologists insist that it was so. And how did they come to that conclusion? They simplistically extrapolated backward from the dubious proposition that the entire universe is uniformly expanding, running an imaginary film of tis expanding universe in reverse. Eventually this rather simplistic line of reasoning arrived back at the event horizon of the gnat’s ass, beyond which theoretical cosmologists have been unable to formulate any coherent explanation of that peculiar state of affairs until fairly recently.

The latest wrinkle to this bizarre tale is that the entire universe didn’t have to squeeze into the gnat’s ass. Instead there was only some mystical stuff called negative vacuum energy in there that blew outward in a cosmic flatulence event, creating the entire universe out of nothing as it expanded at many times the speed of light; or maybe not. Almost 100 years in and the Big Bang proponents are still trying to say something scientifically coherent about the state of their ‘universe’ at T=0, the initial condition. Since the observed cosmos does not appear to have a singular origin it has no need to address this self-inflicted wound of the standard model.

The general public, scientifically unsophisticated and un-credentialed, is expected to believe this puerile nonsense on the authority of the many theoretical cosmologists who do believe it fervently. But on the basis of current observations, there is no rational, scientific reason to think that the entire Big Bang/expanding universe scenario is anything but a mathematical fever dream devised by the scientifically incompetent. There is no sound empirical basis for our modern cosmology, not in its conception and not in its baroque elaboration. Believe it if you will but don’t call it science. Call it the secular creation myth of the High Church of Mathematics.