Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quirky Quasars III

Although sensibly desisting these days from too many ridiculous stories on fundamental physics, the current issue of New Scientist contains two interesting reports.

The cover story discusses the power of random matrices to describe all kinds of complex phenomena and mentions the story of the afternoon tea at Princeton, where it was first realised that the Riemann zeta function zeroes obey distributions appearing in matrix theory. Another headline reads Time Waits for No Quasar:
Using observations of nearly 900 quasars made over periods of up to 28 years, Hawkins compared patterns in the light between quasars about 6 billion light years from us with those at 10 billion light years away. All quasars are broadly similar, and their light is powered by matter heating up as it swirls into the giant black holes at the galaxies' cores. So one would expect that a brightness variation on the scale of, say, a month in the closer group would be stretched to two months in the more distant group. "To my amazement, the light signatures were exactly the same," he says. "There was no time dilation in the more distant objects."
Hawkins' favourite explanation invokes primordial black holes, which must exist in such large numbers that they form the dark matter component of the observable universe. New Scientist asks, is the Big Bang theory wrong?


  1. Sadly Marcus Chown is the New Scientist wacky article author. In his book Afterglow of Creation he falsely claimed that the big bang wasn't an explosion, because in his definition explosions only occur in an air medium (thus, the Apollo 13 explosion in space wasn't really an explosion, and the nuclear tests in space in 1962 wasn't an explosion). Problem is, the big bang did create sound because it was a compressed gas for rather a long while. I find Chown's whole approach to popularizing science completely oversimplified and misleading.

    Notice the contradiction: 'All quasars are broadly similar, ... "To my amazement, the light signatures were exactly the same," he says. "There was no time dilation in the more distant objects".'

    Surprisingly quantitative precision, and perfect comparison of expectation to observation.

    However, regarding whether the Hawkins data disproves the big bang (your last sentence, mentioned as a wacky idea by Chown), there is Chown's sentence with its helpful hyperlink:

    'Supernovae show this "time dilation" in the speed at which they fade - far-off explosions seem to dim more slowly than those nearby.'

    So the big bang expansion-caused time-dilation is seen in the clean cut case of supernovae! All type Ia supernovae are really identical since they result from a critical mass effect, the Chandrasekhar limit (1.38 solar masses), so they release 10^44 J in a predictable way. Time-dilation is clearly observed with them, justifying an expanding universe. Time-dilation is not so clear with quasars because quasars are all different.

    I'd bet my life that Hawkins data is not clean but noisy and the noise covers up the time-dilation because there's also a time evolution to quasars so that the more distant (earlier) ones may differ from the later ones. This is just like Cold Fusion "evidence". Look for a small effect near or below the real noise level, and you can read anything into the data and claim anything (or nothing if you're objective).

  2. Welcome to the new location! Sounds like more evidence of massive primordial Black Holes, billions more indicators of a slowing speed of light.

  3. Can universe emerge as Verlinde said? What could poosibly make something to explode if there was nothing? Why must there be H-spinors in Hilbert space? So many contradictions and ad hoc assumptions.

    Those 'nets' looked very interesting, but I am hopeless in math :) In my mind the black hole is somewhere where all those H-spinors ('nets') are forced together and forced to make new patterns, new information. Some kind of 'greenroom'. Because nothing can escape. I think Big Bang was just a giant black hole. But nobody knows.

    Seen in that light ordinary matter is also some kind of 'black hole' :)

    Can this picture hold some kind of reality?

  4. If you read Arp, the quasar and supernovae data address completely different astrophysical situations. The paradox in the time dependency of the quasars comes from assuming that their redshifts are entirely due to their velocity with respect to the earth. I suspect that, with quasars, this is not the case.

  5. Carl says in his text: The electron absorbs the photon and its direction of motion is changed accordingly. But in this interaction, the photon is absorbed; thus it is possible to shield the electric force (with a conductor), or the magnetic force (with a superconductor).

    This happens everywhere,in everyday life.

    Carl continues: You convert these matrix elements into probabilities by multiplying them by spinors. Even if you don’t know the structure of the Feynman diagram for some interaction, you can deduce facts about its Feynman diagram by determining how many spinors must multiply it. In essence, one can count the number of legs going into the Feynman diagram.

    This is exactly what happens in a black hole too? But in a much more radical way than in everyday life.

    Planets can also be born around a small black hole.

  6. I know I am an outstander here, but I can't withstand this impulse :)

    On Lubos blog today Paul Frampton has written on entropy. I cit. "...about the holographic principle, applied not to cosmology but to heavy ion collisions and the Navier-Stokes equation were at a new high level and so inspiring, that I realized that the visible universe is a black hole,...realized that the accelerated expansion rate of the universe is a direct result of the visible universe being a black hole. Funnily enough, the bigger a black hole is, the less frightening it becomes. The one we live in is really big, 48 billion light years, in radius. "

    I will not 'drown' your blog, Kea.

  7. Thanks, Ulla! You are most welcome here.

  8. But you didn't like the black hole analogy :) In my mind it is the same as a CD-diamond analogy. In fact it is true as you said, the holography explains it. There are black holes everywhere, also in our own bodies :)

  9. Hi Ulla. Actually, I think you have great insight. I didn't particularly like the Feynman diagram point, but that is as much because I look at all this very differently to Carl as it is because you don't know much about it.

  10. No,I don't know much about it :) So I ask those who knows more.

    I thought if the Feynman diagram could be compared to the H-spinors, then they crash in a black hole, but they don't disappear, only make new attachments, because the energy don't disappear. The diagram becomes very complex. New information is born.

  11. Ulla, I think the intuition you have of information being born is good, but 'Feynman diagrams' are just a computational tool and not physical entities in themselves, although Carl might sometimes speak about them in that way, and when I talk about diagrams in category theory they also sometimes represent physical entities ... but the 'representing' step is where all the hard physics and maths is.

  12. Thanks Kea.
    I know the Feynman diagrams are a tool, but they represent something real, the forces or vectors (spinors?) doing work.
    But if black holes are dark, then there is no matter at all, and no Feynman d. perhaps twistors, gluons instead. Then there are the real primordial soup. Just like Big Bang :)

    What happen to the eternal atom then?

    I have also become convinced the math is the basement for our real world, but the problem is the criticality. Without criticality we get string theory :) Anything is possible.

    I'll not occupy your blog with this kind of discussion, when I don't know the right terms. I just wanted to get an answer if my thoughts had some chance.


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