Crisis in Cosmology

An uncomfortable parallel can be drawn between the Big Bang story and the Christian myth of creation. At the root of the whole theory is faith, faith in things which cannot be seen or detected physically, such as an invisible form of matter and energy that is supposed to pervade the universe, or on a definite moment in time in which all matter as we know it came into being. The emphasis in theoretical physics and in mainstream cosmology is on pure thought and logic. Plasma cosmology on the other hand makes no assumption about the age of the universe; it places no limitations on the time available for large scale structures to form. The explanation for things that have occurred in the past lies in the processes that we see now, which in many cases we can explore in laboratory experiments. There is no effect without cause ‑ an infinite chain of cause and effect leads from now to the past.

For both the layman and the scientist the images produced by modern astronomical devices are a reminder of how astonishingly beautiful nature can be. What is immediately striking about them are the patterns of motion, patterns that are surprisingly similar to those that we see on earth, but on a cosmic scale. Huge swirling clouds of gas and dust roll through the space between the stars and the galaxies. Coils of hot gas explode from the remnants of a star. In every part of the universe, from our own Solar System to the most distant galaxies, we see evidence of change and motion. What is happening here? What is causing this?

The standard answer given by modern cosmologists is that what we see now in the movement of the stars and galaxies is the aftermath of a gigantic explosion which took place over 14 billion years ago. This is the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. But a flood of recent information from new terrestrial and space-borne telescopes has led many scientists to question this, the “standard model” of cosmology. A whole range of recent observations, of galactic structures, stellar and galactic ages, background radiation, the proportions of different elements in the universe, appear to contradict the predictions of the Big Bang theory. An increasing number of scientists believe that there are serious problems in this theory and there is a growing feeling that this part of science is in crisis.

In the summer, in Monção Portugal, a group of astronomers and physicists met to discuss the situation and to look at the alternatives. The meeting took place under the title “Crisis in Cosmology” and was the initiative of the “alternative cosmology group”. This is a group of scientists that includes the plasma physicist Eric Lerner, author of the book The Big Bang Never Happened (1). Last year, this group published an open letter in New Scientist magazine that questioned the fundamental ideas of the Big Bang, and also pointed to the restrictions that funding bodies are placing on research into alternatives (2) The conference in Portugal was the practical outcome of the discussion in scientific circles that took place after the publication of the letter.

In Reason in Revolt (3), Alan Woods and Ted Grant also pointed to the scientific and philosophical inconsistencies that exist in Big Bang theory. All the evidence that has emerged since then, and in particular the most recent observations, confirm their analysis – that the idea of the Big Bang is flawed, is inconsistent with a materialist and a dialectical view of the universe, and that ultimately its supporters will be forced to accept that it has failed to explain the known facts.

Microwave background radiation and inflation

One of the supposed successes of Big Bang theory is its explanation of the “cosmic microwave background radiation”, which was first observed in 1964. This is a low amplitude radio signal at frequencies similar to those used in a microwave oven, which is seen in all directions in space. Big Bang supporters say that this is the left over energy from the Big Bang explosion.

In fact when the background radiation was first discovered it was inconsistent with the version of the Big Bang theory that existed at that time. The theory could not explain why the radiation was so uniform across the sky, compared to the lumpiness of matter in the universe, clustered into clouds of dust and gas, galaxies and stars. But Big Bang theorists have at several times in the history of the theory been forced to adjust their ideas when they have conflicted with new evidence. In this case, in order to explain the smoothness of the background radiation, it was necessary to invent the idea of cosmic inflation. This is described in the following extract from the Wikipedia entry on the topic:

“Cosmic inflation is the idea, first proposed by Alan Guth in 1981, that the nascent universe passed through a phase of exponential expansion (the inflationary epoch) that was driven by a negative pressure vacuum energy density… As a direct consequence of this expansion, all of the observable universe originated in a small causally-connected region. Quantum fluctuations in this microscopic region, magnified to cosmic size, then became the seeds for the growth of the structure of the universe. The particle responsible for inflation is generally called the inflaton.”

This is meant to be a serious attempt to explain fundamental questions about the origin of the universe, but it is impossible to take passages like this seriously. The background radiation is smooth, so first the universe must expand very quickly and smoothly, driven by a “negative pressure vacuum energy density”, but the galaxies are lumpy, so everything then slowed down to give matter time to clump together – but randomly, as the result of “quantum fluctuations” which somehow become magnified into the universe we know. All of this is mediated by the “inflaton” – a particle that has never been observed (but presumably we are too late and have missed it). A science fiction writer could not do much better. (4)

Nonetheless, cosmic inflation became an accepted part of Big Bang theory. It preserved the theory by allowing its prediction of the cosmic radiation to be smoothed to match the observations. Much of what has been developed in the theory since then has been based on the “inflationary model”, and the current version of the Big Bang depends critically on this idea.

In 2003 results became available from a new satellite, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) which showed the cosmic radiation in more detail than previously. Initially, and again in the spirit of modern cosmology, the new results were described as a success for Big Bang theory and “a complete confirmation of the inflationary theory”. However subsequent analysis has shown the opposite.

One of the predictions from the inflationary theory is that the background radiation should be smooth apart from small random fluctuations. This prediction has been written into the textbooks, and has support from all the major proponents of the theory. Careful analysis of the WMAP results shows, however, that the radiation is not smooth. Glen Starkman presented results to the Portugal conference showing that not only are the fluctuations different from that predicted by Big Bang theory but they are aligned with the geometry of the solar system. Rather than being “cosmic” in origin – i.e. the left over energy from the Big Bang – it seems more likely that the radiation is light and radio waves from stars that has been scattered by dust and clouds in space, causing some of the radiation to line up with the local structure of our solar system and galaxy.

But the tendency to look for explanations in obscure theory is ingrained in modern cosmology. An astrophysics weblog discussing the WMAP results contained these recent entries:

“I have proposed an explanation in terms of many-sheeted space-time… See my article “Fluctuations of the microwave background as a support for the notion of many-sheeted space-time”. [Matti Pitkanen]

“Could this be explained by non-uniform distribution of mass in the universe? i.e. what if all the supposed dark matter is inside some giant black hole lurking somewhere, could that black hole affect cosmic microwave background photons in a way to produce such anomalies?” [Artem Khodush]

The discussion closed with the following:

“This is the problem with teaching and endorsing fantasies. Students start to think of fantastic (that is, absurdly unreal) scenarios instead of sticking to sane physics. The issue is that the data indicate an unexplained local contribution to the microwave background, after which the C in CMB [cosmic microwave background] is practically irrelevant, the Big Bang plain wrong, and inflation an opium smoker’s pipe dream.” [D R Lunsford]

Expansion and the red-shift

Further problems have emerged for Big Bang theory in its assumption that the universe is expanding as a result of the explosion at the beginning of time.

Edward Hubble, in 1929, was the first to notice a strange and unexpected behaviour in the light from distant objects which he interpreted as evidence of the expansion of the universe. Hubble saw certain sets of colours in the light that he could identify as belonging to specific elements. (Heated sodium gas, for example, always produces yellow light, as in street lamps, and other substances always generate or absorb colours that are characteristic of that substance.) But Hubble also noticed that the colours were shifted away from their normal position, towards the longer wavelengths at the red end of the light spectrum. Even more puzzling, the amount by which they were shifted was greater for galaxies that, judging by their brightness, were further away.

Hubble surmised that the red-shift of the colours was due to the light waves from the galaxies being stretched by movement away from the earth. A similar effect – the Doppler effect - occurs on earth when a source of light or sound moves; a moving train produces a high pitched sound when it approaches and a lower pitched sound as it moves away and stretches out the sound waves. But this interpretation of the red-shifts meant not only that the galaxies were moving away, but that the more distant galaxies were moving at the greatest speed. The galaxies were like dots on the surface of an inflating balloon - the universe was expanding.

This was the central observation that led to the idea of the Big Bang. In the motion of the galaxies, say the Big Bang supporters, we see the aftermath of a great explosion. Matter was at one time concentrated at one point, and is now rushing away from where the explosion occurred. This interpretation of the Hubble red-shift in terms of the expansion of the universe has become one of the cornerstones of Big Bang theory.

Eric Lerner presented a paper at the Portugal conference which seriously challenges this point of view. He has used images, aptly enough from the Hubble space telescope, to examine the surface brightness of the most distant known galaxies. The Big Bang theory makes predictions about how the surface brightness of objects should vary with distance which are different from the behaviour that would be expected in a non-expanding universe. His results show that the Big Bang predictions are dramatically wrong – distant galaxies are as much as several hundred times brighter than the Big Bang suggests:

“The data clearly show that the universe is not expanding, and that the redshift of light must be due to some other cause, perhaps in the properties of light itself. This also means that the universe that we can see is not limited in space or time—the most distant galaxies we see right now are 70 billion years old, much older than the supposed age of the Big Bang, and we will be able to see older and more distant ones with future telescopes.”

Further support for this point of view was presented in a paper by Thomas Andrews. He looked at distance estimates derived from the relative brightness of two different classes of objects: supernovae and the brightest galaxies in clusters of galaxies. He showed that the estimates from the supernovae contradicted those from the galaxies if the universe was assumed to be expanding. But when distances were computed assuming that the universe is not expanding the discrepancy between the two sets of distance estimates disappeared.

Age of the universe

Big Bang theory encounters some of its greatest difficulties due to its assumption of a “beginning of time”, a time when matter and motion emerged into the universe. Several studies have shown, however, that there is simply not enough time since the Big Bang for the formation of the large-scale structures that have been observed in clusters of distant galaxies. Francesco Sylosis-Labini presented results from a recent study that found structures in clusters of galaxies as large as 210 million light years in size; since the galaxy velocities are only 1/1500 of the speed of light it is impossible for structures of this sort to have formed in the time since the Big Bang. Other research using computer modelling has shown that even with the most favourable assumptions the large-scale structures that have been observed would require three to six times longer to form than the time that is supposed to have elapsed since the Big Bang.

Similarly, individual galaxies have been observed that are older than the Big Bang. The age of a galaxy can be estimated from the colour of the light generated by its stars; older and cooler stars produce more red light than young stars. Distant galaxies have been seen that, according to the colour of the light emitted by their stars, predate the Big Bang by as much as one billion years.

Big Bang theory has always had difficulties of this sort in reconciling observations of the universe with its prediction about the age of the universe. “Dark matter” – never observed, despite 20 years of expensive particle physics research ‑ was invented to explain how galaxies could be formed by gravitational collapse, given that there appears to be only 5% or so of the required density of matter in the universe to allow this to happen in the time since the Big Bang. But when it was discovered that the universe is apparently expanding at an accelerating rate it was necessary to quickly invent “dark energy”, to be turned on to accelerate the galaxies apart after the dark matter has finished its job of forming them. Now it has been suggested that large scale galactic structures could form if dark energy and dark matter are assumed to balance each other (although this would also make the universe 32 billion rather 14 billion years old – a small detail.) Eric Lerner reports, however, that the researchers responsible for this result “agree that this model is not at all realistic”.

Plasma cosmology

Astronomers and cosmologists are becoming increasingly aware of the role that plasmas and electromagnetism can play in a range of different phenomena in the universe. One of Eric Lerner’s presentations at the Portugal conference was an overview of plasma cosmology, the ideas developed initially by the plasma physicist Hannes Alfven.

Plasma is hot gas that has become “ionised” – negatively charged electrons have become separated from atoms leaving positively charged ions. An example of a plasma is the arc of a welding torch – free electrons and ions in the hot gas between the electrodes allow electric current to flow, producing heat, light and also radio waves which can interfere with nearby radio receivers. Perhaps as much as 99% of the matter in the universe is believed to exist in the form of plasma, either in the stars or in vast clouds of gas between the stars and the galaxies.

Plasma cosmologists believe that electromagnetic effects from plasma, which are ignored in conventional cosmology, can explain the effects for which Big Bang theorists are forced to invent never-observed entities such as dark matter and dark energy. Electrical currents in interstellar and intergalactic plasmas can generate magnetic forces that are as strong as gravitational forces, and it is these that can explain galaxy formation and structure without the need for dark matter or other absurdities. But conventional cosmology rarely considers anything other than gravitational effects.

Several participants at the conference referred to plasma-related effects in their presentations and in the general discussion. Donald Scott (5) pointed out in his paper, however, that main-stream astrophysicists often seem to be unaware of the basics of electromagnetic theory and that in this area too care is needed to avoid the tendency to invent false physics to fit theories: “Recently astrophysicists have been discovering (inventing) hypothetical entities and forces at an increasing rate. They have done so with impunity because these entities are not falsifiable – no in situ experiments are possible in remote space. But when experimentally verified laws of electrical science are disregarded or misinterpreted it is time to present a challenge – to initiate a dialog between the two camps that will resolve this contradiction.”

One of the unusual aspects of plasma cosmology is that it predicts a fractal distribution of matter throughout the universe. Fractals are objects that have repeating patterns at different scales from small to large; several papers at the conference discussed possible consequences of this behaviour. A fractal distribution implies areas empty of matter, voids between galaxies and clusters, will appear and reappear at ever larger scales. Since plasma cosmology makes no assumption about the age of the universe it places no limitations on the time available for such large scale structures to form.

Dark Matter

Much of the mass of the universe is believed to exist in the dark sector. Determining the nature of this missing mass is one of the most important problems in modern cosmology. About 23% of the universe is thought to be composed of dark matter, and 73% is thought to consist of dark energy, an even stranger component distributed diffusely in space that likely cannot be thought of as ordinary particles.” [Wikipedia]

Most people when they paint themselves into a corner will admit their mistake and splash their way out. Mainstream cosmologists turn round and dismantle the corner brick by brick until the building comes down on top of them.

Faced with observations of the motion of galaxies that can’t be explained by gravity alone, it would seem reasonable to consider the possibility that electromagneticism might be responsible. After all, since science began physicists have been able to find only four different types of force: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces, the last two of which act only at very small sub-atomic distances. Unfortunately however, there is less kudos in working with the classical physics of electromagnetism than in an exposition of some unexpected consequence of general relativity, and general relativity only deals with gravity.

Dark matter was invented to produce the additional gravity for galaxies to form, and also to prevent existing galaxies from falling apart. The rotational speeds of many galaxies are too large for the gravity produced by the visible matter to hold them together. Rather than looking for an explanation for this in known physics, as the plasma cosmologists have done, Big Bang theorists instead have invented an invisible form of matter and energy that is supposed to pervade the universe, accounting for as much as 95% of the total. Unfortunately, despite its enormous contribution to gravity, dark matter in other respects “weakly interacts” with normal matter, weakly excusing its lack of appearance to date in any experimental tests. This has not prevented the science funding bodies from planning to spend yet more money in an elusive search for this invisible substance which supports so many scientific careers.

Dark matter is not so much dark as missing. Recent studies of the infra-red radiation from galaxies have made it possible to estimate the mass of the stars in those galaxies. The gravitational effects in these galaxies and in clusters of galaxies leave little room for the dark matter. For galaxies the visible matter can account for 2/3 of the observed gravitational effects, although for clusters of galaxies less of the required matter is visible, possibly because it is obscured by the large amount of dust and gas in those objects.

The scientific method

There was a full conference session dealing with the question of how cosmologists and scientists in general should work in subjects such as cosmology where they are trying to understand very distant and inaccessible objects. Timothy Eastman pointed to the dangers that are inherent in the deductive approach that is common in cosmology and other parts of science, where explanations are derived from “laws of the universe” which are assumed to need no proof (and which can therefore be made up to fit the facts). One of the alternatives he suggested was computer-based “data-mining”, where computers are used to look for patterns in data without resorting to theory.

The popularity of the deductive approach rests on the fact that in a few well understood areas of science it has been possible to summarise years of scientific work in an abstract and highly compressed form, using a small number of mathematical statements. An example is Maxwell’s laws of electromagnetism:

These symbols express the connection between an electric field E, magnetic field B, the electric charge density r and the electric current density j, together with their changes in space and time, which are represented by the operators ∇•, ∇ x ∂/∂t. From these equations, so the story goes, it is possible to use the rules associated with these mathematical symbols to derive all the known electromagnetic phenomena. For a mathematician or physicist this is a very attractive, almost seductive, proposition, where everything appears complete and consistent and everything can be understood, at least by the initiated, through application of the laws of logic and their expression in mathematics.

Unfortunately modern scientists have a tendency to forget that it has taken many years of practical work by many people to reach this point in our understanding of electromagnetics, and likewise in the relatively few other areas of science where similar generalisations have been possible. Maxwell’s equations are described as axioms – statements for which no proof or demonstration is required. But this is a very one-sided view, which starts with the end result of perhaps thousands of years of human and scientific development and ignores what has gone before as if it was irrelevant. To reach the point where even the idea of an electric field, or the mathematical representation of change with respect to time or space, has been established, explored, developed, applied, tested and shown to be useful has required contributions from countless numbers of scientists over a long period of time. The four equations that make up Maxwell’s equations decompose into many more physical and mathematical concepts, linked to and supported by the results from a whole range of scientific activity. If they are axiomatic, if they are the point of departure, why does it take perhaps 15 years or more of education, including several years of specialisation in mathematics and physics, before they can be used and understood?

The emphasis in theoretical physics and in mainstream cosmology is on deduction from axioms, on pure thought and logic. The Big Bang theory, with its lack of support in observation, shows the danger inherent in this approach. Yet it is the prevailing method in cosmology, taught and encouraged in the universities because it gives very clever people an opportunity to demonstrate their brilliance through asserting the absurd. First a sweeping generalisation, an axiom from which all else will be deduced. Then the brilliant exposition, the startling conclusions, the sweep of the hand, the modest bow of the head, the ripple of applause.

Then the problems, the fix-ups, the silencing of the opposition.

There is a further difficulty. “From these laws all known phenomena will be deduced.” Well, not quite. Only in the simplest cases, for the simplest geometry and for a small number of features/particles/components/actions (preferably no more than two). The skill of the practising physicist lies in finding the approximation that is good enough, twisting and turning the ideas and the mathematics to try to make it fit the complexity. The reality of most physical phenomena is that there are many interlinked features, all of which interact. And increasingly physicists are beginning to find that it is the interaction that is more important than the details of the physical laws. Transitions occur that are determined by the complexity itself regardless of the details of the physics; this is why a fractal model can work over many scales and different physical mechanisms. The physical axioms and their deductions not only become inadequate, they become irrelevant. More general laws emerge – the dialectical laws of quantity and quality, of the union of opposites and the negation of the negation.

A purely empirical approach, where the need for theory is denied, is equally one-sided. Learning from experiment, generalising the experience, and then putting that to test in new experiments is as fundamental to the development of scientific ideas as it is to the development of an individual. Practicing scientists, particularly in observational sciences such as cosmology or geophysics, are continually drawing ideas from their data, testing these ideas by applying them back to the data, and refining or changing their ideas. This is induction and deduction, simultaneously, not one or the other but both together.

For Eric Lerner the question of methodology in the development of scientific theories is as important as the details of the physics. In a recent interview (6)<!--[endif]--> he commented that: “The big break through of the scientific revolution of Galileo and Kepler is the notion that the laws of the cosmos, the physics and science of the cosmos, is the same as the science we observe here on earth”.

Big Bang theorists assert, for example, that “in the beginning” (and it is impossible to avoid biblical expressions of this sort) all matter in the universe was concentrated into one single point of infinite density. True, we cannot say this is impossible. But any similar phenomena have never been seen, in any experiment or observation, and there are other possibilities that can explain the movement of the galaxies, the background cosmic radiation, the proportion of light and heavy elements in the universe, and the other observations which the Big Bang theorists claim, incorrectly, to explain. Rather than asserting, with no evidence and in complete contradiction to what has been observed to date, that matter was compressed to a point, it would be better to say “if we take the situation to the limit of massive gravity we don’t know what happens, but it is unlikely that matter appears or disappears because we have never seen that”.

Knowledge can be gained in many ways; experiments in the laboratory can allow us to understand nature better and nature can give us clues about where to look in those experiments. We can learn about nature by observing it directly, or by extrapolating from the known to the unknown. Eric Lerner says “The relationship between science in the laboratory and science in the cosmos runs in both directions. Many times important things about nature have been discovered by observing things in space.” This is the experience of his own work in plasma physics, where the plasma processes he studies in his laboratory are the counterparts of the processes seen in the galaxies.

A central problem with the theory of the Big Bang, he believes, is the assumption of an effect – the explosion of matter and energy into the universe – without a cause. For him this is the opposite of a scientific approach, which looks for the cause behind the effect. The power of science lies in its ability to generalise from observations and to make predictions – its ability to develop theory by studying the processes at work and then use that theory as a guide to action.

A creation myth

A further picture of the profound crisis that now exists for the Big Bang was given at the Portugal conference by Mike Disney in a paper titled “The insignificance of current cosmology”. He showed that current theories are based on an astonishingly small number of genuinely independent observations – he believes that at the most there are only five more independent observations than there are parameters in the theories. In his opinion:

“It can be argued there is little statistical significance to the good fits that impress conventional cosmologists… This same worrying situation has existed throughout the modern era of cosmology as the number of new parameters has expanded to accommodate the data.”

He has warned in the past about the dangers that exist in this situation:

“The most unhealthy aspect of cosmology is its unspoken parallel with religion. Both deal with big but probably unanswerable questions. The rapt audience, the media exposure, the big book-sale, tempt priests and rogues, as well as the gullible, like no other subject in science.” (7)

An uncomfortable parallel can be drawn between the Big Bang story and the Christian myth of creation. It is not sufficient to state, as do supporters of the Big Bang, that it is impossible to enquire what happened before the Big Bang – that there is no time before that time, and scientific enquiry, like everything else, must stop at that point. Mere mortals, sadly, cannot help but wonder. We only have to ask what initiated the explosion at the beginning of time to find that we are dragged back to the need for an initial impulse – the hand of God. In astrophysics this old idea comes dressed in modern clothes, but beneath them it remains medieaval in content. We are told that “quantum fluctuations”, supposedly a consequence of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, caused energy to appear for short periods, and triggered the birth of the universe.

Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is a statement of how accurately we can simultaneously measure certain pairs of quantities such as momentum and position or time and energy. Yet uncertainty of knowledge, difficulties of observation, and our current limited understanding of wave-particle duality, do not imply ambiguities in physical reality. Quantum fluctuations are a mystical and idealistic interpretation of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle taken out of context and devoid of physical content, in the tradition of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. (8)

It is a weak defence against the idealism and mysticism of religion to invoke an idealistic and mystical interpretation of quantum mechanics. Science increasingly has allowed us to find an explanation for natural phenomena, including the history and future of the universe, in material processes. God does not exist, there is no ghost in the machine, and we must look for God not in heaven but on Earth, in the reality of human existence. Human birth is a painful and traumatic experience. The scars show in the longing for that lost paradise, where literally “all is one”. In class society this basic fact of the human condition has its use as support for the rulers, the feudal landlord who appears for his rent with the priest in tow, the President and Prime Minister who excuse their terrorism by appealing to a higher authority, and then express God’s will in ton after ton of high explosive.

For the scientists of the alternative cosmology group the explanation for things that have occurred in the past lies in the processes that we see now, which in many cases we can explore in laboratory experiments. There is no effect without cause ‑ an infinite chain of cause and effect leads from now to the past. And for the plasma cosmologists the source of motion is matter itself, as described by the laws of electromagnetism.

This group of scientists are fighting to establish what is essentially a materialist and dialectical approach to the ideas of time and space and the origin of the universe. And they have done this because this is the only approach that conforms to the evidence. Eric Lerner says, for example:

The universe never had an origin in time but it evolves… There doesn’t seem to be any evidence that the universe is finite in either space or time, which goes right back to what Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for saying 400 years ago.” (9)

That the quantity of matter and motion is conserved in any process is a central and fundamental part of our knowledge of the physical world. And if matter and motion exist now then they always have and always will exist – not simply to the last syllable of recorded time but both before and beyond that time, whether recorded or not. For human beings to understand the abstraction infinity is difficult when it is so far outside of our experience and seems to have little practical meaning. Yet the existence now of matter and energy is the clearest evidence we have that they have always existed and always will. If we start with the physics that we know, then we have to conclude that the universe has no beginning, has no end, and that time is infinite.

But the universe is not static. Everywhere, at all scales, from the very small to the very large, there is change, motion and development. Galaxies, clusters of galaxies, evolve and change. Stars and planets are born, grow and die. Empires rise and fall against this backdrop. Individuals grow, learn, act and pass away. Within each individual billions of cells interact, grow, die and are renewed. And so on to the smallest scale and beyond. The human mind is the highest product of this process – as far as we know, as far as we can tell, in this small corner of the universe.

[1] See for further information on the alternative cosmology group and the “Crisis in Cosmology” conference; comments from Eric Lerner on recent cosmological observations are available at

[2] The statement is available at

[3] “Reason in Revolt”, Alan Woods and Ted Grant, 1995

[4] Guth’s work on cosmic inflation is pre-dated by James Blish's discovery of the Dillon-Wagoner “spindizzy”. This device is based on the Blackett-Dirac Equation, G2 = 8 P c /U where P is the magnetic moment of the body, c is the speed of light, and U is the angular momentum. By increasing U for every particle in a body, the constant of gravity is reduced. The concept was first described in the author’s novel Earthman Come Home (1950).

[5] An introduction to plasma cosmology is available at the author’s website

[6] To hear the interview go to

[7] “The Case against Cosmology” [General Relativity and Gravitation, 32, 1125, 2000. astro-ph 009020]

[9] Heretical cosmologists and astronomers are no longer burned at the stake but are instead threatened with death by starvation. Academic researchers work on short-term 2 or 3-year contracts, with no guarantee of renewal. Even to step slightly outside the mainstream – merely to suggest, for example that the Hubble constant is moderately different from the accepted value and therefore the universe may be older than assumed by everyone else - is enough to put a person’s job at risk. Only if researchers show they can bring money into the university by attracting funding will they eventually after 5 years or often longer obtain a permanent contract. Academic funding in cosmology is decided by committees of experts who built their careers on the Big Bang theory; they rarely support research into alternatives.