The Big Bang

Big Bang cosmology arguably started in 1917. Vesto Slipher had measured 21 galactic redshifts by 1917. That’s when Albert Einstein wrote his cosmological considerations paper and Willem de Sitter came up with the de Sitter universe. The next year in 1918 Erwin Schrödinger came up with his cosmic pressure. In 1922 Alexander Friedmann came up with a non-static universe. In 1924 he came up with negative and positive curvature, and Knut Lundmark came up with an expansion rate within 1% of measurements today. In 1927 Georges…

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A compressed prehistory of dark energy

In the Wikipedia dark energy article you can read how the term "dark energy" was coined by Michael Turner in 1998. This was in a paper co-authored with Dragan Huterer called prospects for probing the dark energy via supernova distance measurements. It referred to the type 1a supernovae observations made by the Supernova Cosmology Project and by the High-Z Supernova Search Team. Their observations indicated that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, which was contrary to expectations and led to Nobel prizes in 2011: Expanding…

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Dark matter

There’s plenty of evidence for dark matter, ranging from velocity dispersion, flat galactic rotation curves, and gravitational lensing. The evidence for dark matter is so good we can even map it out: Image credit NASA, ESA and R. Massey (California Institute of Technology), see spacetelescope.org There’s also plenty of papers and articles about dark matter candidates. Maxim Khlopov refers to WIMPs, axions, neutrinos, mirror-world particles, extra-dimensional particles, and black holes. Andreas Ringwald refers to neutralinos, gravitinos, sterile neutrinos, and axions. Kim Griest refers to MACHOs, molecular…

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Dark matter candidates

Everybody loves a mystery, and one of the best mysteries in physics is dark matter. As to where it starts, check out Brian Koberlain who said its origins can be traced to the 1600s. Or Alexis Bouvard who in 1821 said anomalies in the orbit of Uranus could be caused by dark matter. Or see the Ars Technica history of dark matter article by Stephanie Bucklin. She said in 1884 Lord Kelvin concluded that “many of our supposed thousand million stars, perhaps a great majority of…

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Firewall!

The black hole firewall is a relatively recent idea. On Wikipedia you can read how it “was proposed in 2012 by Ahmed Almheiri, Donald Marolf, Joseph Polchinski, and James Sully as a possible solution to an apparent inconsistency in black hole complementarity”. Their proposal is known as the AMPS firewall, and the title of their paper is black holes: complementarity or firewalls? They cannot all be true They start by saying “we argue that the following three statements cannot all be true: (i) Hawking radiation is…

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The information paradox

The information paradox was first mooted by Stephen Hawking in 1976. For an introduction to the subject, see Brian Koberlein’s black holes tell no tales or do they? Then see Hawking’s paper on the breakdown of predictability in gravitational collapse. Hawking said information is lost down a black hole because the quantum emission is completely random and uncorrelated. He also said “this means there is no S matrix for the process of black-hole formation and evaporation”. The S-matrix is the scattering matrix which is to do…

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The Hawking papers

You can find a list of Stephen Hawking’s publications on the Hawking.org website. It starts with his 1965 PhD thesis. This is said to have “borrowed from Roger Penrose's theorem which described a 'spacetime singularity' being present in the centre of black holes”. Penrose was one of Hawking’s PhD examiners. Seven out of Hawking’s first ten papers concerned singularities. Singularities and the geometry of spacetime One of Hawking’s early papers was singularities and the geometry of spacetime dating from 1966. At 91 pages it’s curiously long.…

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Black holes

We can trace black holes all the way back to John Michell in 1783. He's the man who devised the torsion balance used by Henry Cavendish to determine the mass of the Earth. Michell was something of an expert on gravity. He talked about “dark stars”, and said this: "if there should really exist in nature any bodies, whose density is not less than that of the sun, and whose diameters are more than 500 times the diameter of the sun, since their light could not…

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