A simpler explanation for Dark Energy


One of the basic tenets of Science is expressed in Occam’s Razor; the simplest complete explanation for a phenomenon is the best one. (Doctors have a version of this in diagnosis: “If you see hoof prints in Central Park, think horses, not zebras”.)

It was the application of Occam’s Razor that led philosophers at the beginning of the Renaisance (there weren’t really scientists as we know them now back then) to agree that Copernicus’ idea of a heliocentric Universe was preferable over the Ptolemaic view of a Geocentric Universe. Copernicus’ idea was simple, required no complexity and did an adequate job on the whole of explaining what people observed in the sky. Ptolemy’s ideas were actually more accurate, but much more complex and required a couple instances of handwaving to make them work.

I think on that moment of science history when I read about Dark Energy and the Multiverse. There are a number of observations in Cosmology that don’t seem to make sense. To fix our models folks have come up with thing like Dark Energy and Dark Matter (which we don’t understand, don’t observe, and don’t fit into present successful models).

But there are other ways to explain what we see.

A Welsh cosmologist suggests that we can explain the anomalous cosmic acceleration as simply an observational artifact of a very large scale gravity wave resonance:

“Until now, cosmologists have considered only waves with relatively short wavelengths. But Schluessel’s idea is to imagine what the universe would look like if it contained much bigger waves with a wavelength of the order of the curvature of the cosmos itself, that’s some 10^10 light years. These would be waves left over from the big bang that continue to resonate slowly on a vast scale

Here’s the thing. Schluessel says these waves would distort the microwave back ground radiation in way that matches the preferred directions cosmologists see today. What’s more, it would also distort the light from distant objects in way that would make them look as if they were accelerating away.

Schluessel’s conclusion is that “Strong long-scale gravitational waves can explain cosmic acceleration within the context of general relativity without resorting to the assumption of exotic forms of matter such as quintessence.””

More here.

Elegant. Simple. Expected. (The Relativistic Field Equations predict the existence of Gravity Waves. We haven’t seen then yet, but…)

This, if true, fixes the issue of Dark Energy. It does demolish one of the nicer explanations for cosmic inflation, but hey, you can’t have everything.

It doesn’t say anything about Dark Matter though.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...


  1. I think there’s plenty of indirect observational evidence for dark matter. The relationship of velocity to distance for galaxies practically demand is. Imputed matter distributions in post collision galaxies strongly implies a dark component. Nutrinos with mass could account for it. There isn’t much room in the zoo for other massive fermions.

    Dark energy is a bit more specuative.

  2. There’s a sentence in the paper that hints at a gravitational-wave explanation for inflation too…LP Grishchuk has written extensively on gw-driven inflation.

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