British Columbia (Canada) - A radical alternative theory to the standard cosmological model has been of growing interest in recent years. While physicists have been able to integrate nearly all key components with resounding accuracy, a new study shows that this alternate theory may not be "in the black" after all. A recent scientific article entitled, "Can we avoid Dark Energy?" addresses the alternate theory head-on. In the end, the paper reveals that the Earth is not near the center of the universe, and that theories relating to dark energy are far more likely.
Earth near center: The "Void Theory"
At the heart of the alternate theory, called "Void Theory," is a concept which removes two fundamental principles that the standard theory, called "Concordance Model," employs. First, that the universe is comprised of space-time which obeys Einstein's equations. Second, the "cosmological principle" stating that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic on large scales, which is a generalization of the Copernican principle that "the Earth is not in a central, specially favored position."
By rejecting these two fundamental tenants of Concordance Model, an alternate theory arose. It states that the Earth is near the center of the universe, and there are large black voids of nothingness which exist outwardly for huge distances. These voids essentially distort the observed position of matter and energy even further out, making it appear to be accelerating when, in fact, it's just a result of the effects of the void.
To greatly simply this, it would be like looking down the road on a hot day when the sky seems to "blend into the road." It's an illusion, and the realty is that something else is happening. In the Void Theory case, the reality is the universe is not expanding - it just appears to be.
Reaffirming dark energy
However, a new study uses a complex analysis of background cosmic radiation - what scientists call the "residual effects of the big bang." The analysis shows that the Void Theory breaks down when the complex interactions of background radiation are heavily considered. A new model, called "Constrained Void Theory," does seem to fit, even with the complex interactions considered. However, it requires a reworking of several assumed components, including the near removal of the Hubble constant (which is so low as to "be ruled out") and adjusting the primordial spectrum - both hard held tenants of Concordance Theory.
The work was carried out by J.P. Zibin, Adam Moss and Douglas Scott of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia (BC) in Vancouver.
Developing a test
The BC researchers have also indicated that a test may soon exist to determine if the Void Theory or Constrained Void Theory is even remotely possible. They write in their paper, "Future [baryon acoustic oscillation] surveys ... will provide improved precision out to greater redshifts, placing unprecedented constraints on inhomogeneity. In this era of precision cosmology we can in fact begin to test the Copernican principle. In so doing, the Concordance Model or various Void Theory model alternatives can be reconsidered.
The study shows that avoiding the dark energy nature of Concordance Model requires extremely radical departures from traditional thinking, or that it's just impossible. While Concordance Theory holds up to everything thrown at it, there is still a huge resistence toward dark forms of matter and energy, and the search for alternate theories which do not employ these concepts continue.
So far, while Void Theory appears to have been debunked, Constrained Void Theory sits as the only real contender on the other side. And now that a test has been proposed, it's like only a matter of time before it is either ruled out completely, or bolstered.