Dark energy and the bitterest pill

 Copernican principle

It’s hard to get your head around dark energy, this universe-accelerating stuff that is supposed to fill the cosmos. Dark energy was invented to explain measurements that seem to show that the most distant supernovas all appear to be accelerating away from us. The thinking is that something must be pushing them away and that stuff is dark energy.

But for many astrophysicists, dark energy is a difficult pill to swallow. It requires the universe to be fine tuned in a previously unexpected, and frankly, unimaginable way.

So astronomers have begun a systematic investigation of all the assumptions on which the notion of dark energy depends. Nothing is sacrosanct in this hunt–these guys are tearing up the floorboards in the search for an alternative hypothesis. And that means revisiting some of our most fundamental assumptions.

One of these is the Copernican principle, that the universe is more or less the same wherever you happen to be. Principles don’t come much more fundamental than this but the evidence in its favour, at least on the scale that dark energy seems to behave, is pretty thin.

In fact, a number of theorists have calculated that the supernova data can be explained without the need for dark energy if our local environment were emptier than the universe as a whole. But to make this idea work, the earth must be sitting in the middle of a void that is roughly the size of the observable universe and that’s not compatible with the Copernican principle, not by a long shot.

Now Timothy Clifton¬† and pals at the University of Oxford in the UK have worked our how to tell whether such a void exists or not. They say that the next round of highly accurate measurements of nearby supernova should be able to tell us whether we’re in a void or not. So we shouldn’t have long to wait.

Either way, astronomers will find it hard to settle that troubling sensation in the pit of their stomachs. The truth is that when it comes to swallowing uncomfortable ideas, dark energy may turn out to be a sugar-coated doughnut compared to a rejection of the Copernican principle.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0807.1443: Living in a Void: Testing the Copernican Principle with Distant Supernovae

5 Responses to “Dark energy and the bitterest pill”

  1. Robert I. Marsh II says:

    How could the CERN LHC have anything to do with the Accelerating Universe? Answer: The study of particle collisions, shall revolutionize every branch of science, technology, and industry. By completing the ‘Standard Model’, an understanding of material cosmology, will lead to Astrophysics’ new equations, and measuring optical devices. The dawning of a new age, in Space and Time exploration! Sure, the scientists are completely uncertain, and the LSAG safety report is riddled with gross inconsistencies, but if they get lucky – then even Nuclear and Plasma Fusion for Interstellar Space-Flight, and oh yes, Time-Travel!!! Think about the risk potentials v/s the positive unimaginable outgrowth potentials! RE: CERN LHC/ALICE/ATLAS 2009-2019.

  2. Robert I. Marsh II says:

    cONTINUED; Nuclear Fusion could meet our future world, desperate energy needs! CERN ALICE project collides heavy lead(Pb) ions, and creates hyper-density plasma, scheduled (once financed) in 2009! 2008 is lower energy-packet pulses (safety tests), with full-power collisions ongoing from 2009-2019, and beyond!?! Giant leaps for mankind, or disaster, only the future knows for certain!

  3. Zephir says:

    How could the CERN LHC have anything to do with the Accelerating Universe? It can propagate another inflationary period. Just kidding – hopefully.

    The brightening of distant supernovae follows from Universe omni-directional expansion by Aether Wave Theory. By AWT the Universe expands due its collapse, which increases the mass/energy density of vacuum by the same way, like at the case of common collapsars. It means, the Universe density increases with time so that the more distant parts of universe are less dense, then the near ones. The trick is, the matter is precollapsed already, so it collapses more slowly, then the vacuum. Such effect has even its measurable consequences, like the dilatation of meter prototype and disappearing of kilogram prototype.


    The brightness of supernovae explosions depends on the density of matter with compare to vacuum. As the density of vacuum increases, the Cepheid explosions are becoming more frequent, but weaker. This results into illusion of Universe expansion, when these supernovae are used as a standard candles, because more distant supernovae are brighter. The same effect affects the spectrum of the CMB too.

  4. Tristan says:

    This is why science is ace!

  5. Gus Cenkner says:


    Based on laboratory simulations, I believe dark energy is actually the energy contained in traveling shock waves. For details see:

    Cenkner, A. A. Jr., ” Dark Energy — Laboratory Simulations Lead to Predictions of:
    Star Accelerations; Formation of Spiral Galaxies; Creation of Voids, Walls, and Clusters”, ISBN 978-1-4343-0661-1(sc), 8/22/07