Archive for December, 2011

The Scientific Method and Quintessence Analogs

December 26, 2011

The Scientific Method and Quintessence Analogs

Wolfram Math World: A null hypothesis is a statistical hypothesis that is tested for possible rejection under the assumption that it is true (usually that observations are the result of chance). The concept was introduced by R. A. Fisher. The hypothesis contrary to the null hypothesis, usually that the observations are the result of a real effect, is known as the alternative hypothesis.

Most science knowledge is statistically validated. The scientific method requires scientists and all others who claim to think rationally to answer knotty questions by means of repeatable EXPERIMENT or careful verifiable direct observation. In order to do this effectively, one must formulate a hypothesis, a statement of some putative principle that engages all the known implications. These implications must be rather direct. Circumstantial consequences are just that – circumstantial and cannot be used to PROVE a hypothesis by their mere existence. Those better “former” implications must suggest substantive experiments that will verify or confirm them or not.

It is good if there are direct elements of the principle and subservient implications of the hypothesis. It is better if a complete and utter negative statement of the hypothesis can be formulated. Then, the net algebraic sum of the original hypothesis and the negative hypothesis should be zero. Logically, the negative completely cancels the positive hypothesis. This negative hypothesis is called the “null” hypothesis because it would nullify the other if it proves to be true and it would tend to validate the positive (or alternative) hypothesis if shown to completely false. At least, it would fail to PROVE it false, if Null was shown to be true in some minor ways. Then, when Null is invalidated, if direct evidence can be found that tends to corroborate the original positive (alternative) hypothesis, we can begin to regard it as a good logical beginning. AND THEN, if this alternative hypothesis can be combined with statements of principle that have already been proven and the combined implications of such a joint statement can be so verified, as before, we have the beginnings of proof.

The result should always be a hypothesis or “theory” with predictive value. Or, when only observation is what may be possible, a good theory will predict the results of a program of detailed observation.

The key to this process is our ability to form an experimentally testable Null Hypothesis. The evidence FOR the positive statement of the hypothesis (the alternative) is insufficient in itself because circumstances may combine to fool our little experiments. We are human. If an appropriate robust Null Hypothesis cannot be formulated, the original hypothesis is unsuitable to merit the attention of the scientist. Such a defective hypothesis is termed “unfalsifiable” because no Null Hypothesis can be stated the confirmation of which would show the bad hypothesis to be “false”.

This is relevant to the debates about Dark Energy (DE), quintessence, Dark Matter (DM) and so on. Dark Energy is the reservoir of potential energy that is supposed to exist as an underlayment or foundation of the universe. Quintessence is supposed to be a new force field that is just another component of the universe. All fundamental force fields have an associated particle. So, if there is quintessence, there should be a quintessence particle also. Invisible, undetectable Dark Matter (as, for instance, enormous super-galactic clouds of invisible, undetectable WIMPs – weakly interacting massive particles) is supposed to account for the anomalous rotation velocity distribution seen in galaxies and galactic clusters. Also, DM is supposed to result in redshift effects in observation of galactic lensing and in the Sunyaev-Zeldovich counterbalanced redshift phenomena. It is also supposed to explain anomalous apparent offsets in the barycenters of colliding galactic clusters. These would be indirect effects of DM. They are all explainable by other means. The confirmed existence of such phenomena cannot prove the DE or DM hypotheses because they do not address any NULL hypothesis.

Do not forget, to call one’s self a scientist (even an amateur scientist), one must respect the scientific method. It is not a scientist’s dogma any more than it is dogma to follow the firefighter’s code; one must respect the power of fire – or else you die. One may choose to die physically, or else one may wish to perish intellectually. The scientific method assures logical life after the virtual death of a bad theory.

An unfalsifiable hypothesis has no business occupying the time of the scientist. Whole theories have often been constructed from elaborate systems of unfalsifiable hypotheses. Such theories are often fun to think about, even edifying and inspiring – but they certainly are not science.

There is a place for faith. But, if a person of faith needs experimental proof, he will have little of either. We all need faith. Psychologically, we all use some form of faith in some way. In times of trouble and sorrow, sometimes it is all we have. Psychiatrists recommend it. Psychologists say that the “normal” person is the one who can “delude” himself to this self-assessment successfully all the time. In other words, normal people “lack insight”. Facetiously, they say that if we had true insight, we would all be permanently severely depressed!

God loves us, some believe. Mere belief makes it so. Existentially, epistemologically and eschatologically, if we can say sincerely that a principle of human conduct or relations should be timelessly true for everyone, then it is so. The Human Condition IS what we can sincerely say it should be. “Things” ARE as they “should” be. This is called Primary Christian (or Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) existentialism. All men and women of faith are Primary Christian (or Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or whatever) existentialists. Scientists must not be professional existentialists. They must be “positivists” or “logical positivists” (A.J. Ayer), at least in their professional (or amateur) dealings.

All true scientists hew to a strict code of honor as well as to the scientific method. Verifiably and repeatably confirmed experimental or observational Truth is NOT just a buzzword. Such Truth is meaning. Truth is the scientist’s life. Truth is noble. To the scientist, Truth is not relative. Truth does not evolve. Truth is an absolute ideal – there is only one truth, that is, it is unique. Our understanding of truth, however, does evolve. Understanding is indeed relative and it can be flawed. But, it hews to the above stated ideals in all cases. Otherwise, it is fatuous pompous propaganda: good for politicians and some clerics, but not for the scientist.

In a very real sense, to the scientist, the ideal of “Truth” is the next best thing to God.

Cosmologists are always wrong, but never in doubt. – Lev Landau

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Nobel Prize for Perlmutter & Riess

December 19, 2011

If one carefully reads the papers submitted to ArXiv astrophysics from after 1998, one sees that Saul Perlmutter’s and Adam Riess’s supernova research groups were not independent (as claimed) and that they were in serious communication. Perlmutter and Riess actually wrote a paper together before they could have otherwise come to cooperate.

They say that the data that the two groups got regarding the distances to supernovae type 1a and other bright extremely distant objects was not concordant at first. In order to force the two data sets to conform, they admit that they had to apply a mutual “adjustment”. This artificial factor was used by both groups to bring the data of each set into alignment with the other so that a smooth plot could be made that included all the data points.

The sense of this artiface alone is the sole “evidence” that they both cite for an accelerating rate of expansion of the universe. They might have applied the adjustment factor to the other data set in the opposite sense. Then, the universe expansion rate would have been seen as decelerating.

There was a choice to be made. A cynic might hazard a guess as to why they made the choice that they did. A cynic might also claim that P&R’s colleagues on the Nobel Committee were grossly biased because they were close friends and few in number. When a subcommittee reports to the full committee, though, their recommendation is often taken as Gospel. How often has the Nobel Prize award been found to be, if not unwarranted, uncompelling?

In college, we had to write laboratory reports on the textbook experiments that we did in lab. We were warned against manufacturing data. Our professors all said that this kind of “fudging” is a big “NO NO”. Ethical standards are not just for students. Still, as professionals who certainly are good scientists, Permutter and Riess, no doubt, think that they were perfectly well justified in applying their adjustment factor and did so in all honesty. But, the result is the same.

Origins, emergence and eschatology of the Universe: Dark Energy

December 14, 2011

Should we mean “the universe” or “the meta-verse” or “the multi-verse”? (Hugh Everett)

Presumably, when the universe formed from an ensemble of some sort of “inflaton” point particles (Alan Guth) as a statistically inevitable child of an extremely excited field, possibly the gravitational field itself, its hyperbolic (proportional to 1/r) field began to collapse into a parabolic (1/r^2) one. That collapse continues to this day. But, the process is almost done. There cannot be an infinite amount of energy sequestered in the hyperbolic 1/r field that would be available to fuel acceleration of the Hubble expansion rate by such a transformation. Transition to a lower potential energy parabolic field must provide a distinctly limited supply of extra impetus. Surely, after 13.72 billion years, the (1/r) potential energy mainspring has almost run down by now. The remaining (1/r) potential energy is called Dark Energy.

It accounts for the “missing mass ” in audits of universe contents and provides a convenient, theoretically rigorous and parsimonious basis for “acceleration”. Dark Energy could account for around 80% of the universe’s total mass, but audits are not so accurate. Still, The Mainspring still has enough oomph to last for at least another 140 billion years more!

The hyper-excited gravitational field sprang into existence simply because it could. It came to be in a tremendously excited state because very high excited states are much more probable than lower ones, because of the zero point cut-off. This is just like virtual particles come to exist and be annihilated all the time on the quantum level (this is confirmed by experiment). None of them become universes, though, because there is already one here. It’s a sort of a Pauli exclusion principle.

There has been some confusion. So, let us switch definitions of r. In the following, r is the rate of acceleration of expansion of the universe (or rotational acceleration around black-hole).

If the acceleration of the expansion rate is called a, and its present value is called P, then a = P at any given time, including the present. The simplest equation for the expansion rate’s effect on P would be an exponential decay expression, P = hoe^(-rt), where ho is an initial value for h, r is the rate of increase in this expansion and t is time.

We can get an estimate of a value for ho from Alan Guth’s formulation of the theory of simple inflation. The present values of both the expansion rate, P1, and acceleration rate, r, is observable. We can set t = 1, for the present value of t. So, we can summarize all relevant observations with this simple equation or the associated exponential expansion equation, R = Roe^(rt),where R is the putative instantaneous “radius” or scale factor of the universe.

The current value of the expansion rate is Ho, the Hubble “constant”, so P1 = Ho.

Back to our original definition of r (not R) as a radius or scale factor:

Exponential decay equations exhibit what is called a “dormancy” period or final plateau region. In this part of the discussion, here, r refers to distance from a center of rotation. Sorry. I missed this inconsistency in previous posts. I need a nicer symbol for the exponential period, another name for r; maybe Cyrillic backward “R” ? May be lower case Cyrillic “r” ?

The hyperbolic 1/r curve levels off near zero and continues to subside gently almost linearly for an indefinite time. Plot a graph yourself on the back of an envelope! Use mass M = 1, the smaller mass drops out for acceleration. And, assume G is any self consistent constant like G = 1. This is just for comparison purposes, so it matters not. The equation for orbital acceleration around a galaxy, say, levels off to a constant, even at infinity, for a hyperbolic 1/r black-hole galactic gravitational field potential diagram. (You have just DERIVED modified Newtonian Dynamics or MOND!) You must multiply r by the constant k = 1m (Systeme Internationale) for dimensional purity.

The current state of the universe itself may be considered as being in this (1/r) exponential decay dormancy or plateau period. The conclusion here is that acceleration of expansion may continue for a long time while very slowly decreasing nearer to zero.

The black-hole rotational acceleration connection implies that the universe may be rotating very very slowly right now. But, we cannot know. We would have to observe the universe from the outside, from the perspective of the meta-universe, to tell. From the standpoint of general relativity, we simply cannot tell from our perspective her and now.

Yet, in other words, even with acknowledged acceleration of the Hubble expansion rate, there does not necessarily have to be a “Big Rip” wherein the fabric of the cosmos is irreparably torn apart as expansion proceeds beyond a certain point.

By the way, “M Theory” doesn’t exist. M Theory is just an “ideal”. Brane Theory is not M Theory. Neither has ever predicted anything that can be experimentally verified and neither is falsifiable. Therefore, they cannot qualify as legitimate scientific propositiions. Not one single unique result has ever come from either. Furthermore, they are both unnecessary. Shrewd development of general relativity and quantum are slowly causing both to merge. What’s the hurry? Let true “M Theory” and “Brane theory” grow organically out of quantum and GR. Each step will be independently validated, then. No worry.

Origins, emergence and eschatology are fertile fields for philosophers. This is why we scientists are sometimes called “Doctors of Philosophy”, Ph.D.    Doctorae Philosophi.    I took Latin for three years and I am still not sure of this. German and Russian too, but this is no help. What happened to my old Latin grammar texts?