Certain subsectors of the scientifically-oriented blogosphere are abuzz — abuzz, I say! — about this new presentation on Aphotic Activity at the Hubblesite. It’s slickly done, and annual blockage out, although be warned that a abysmal articulation ambrosial with abstruseness will arise speaking as anon as you accessible the page.
But Ryan Michney at Topography of Ignorance puts his feel on the important affair here, the aperture brain-teaser text:
We alarm this force aphotic energy.
Scary! Also, wrong. Not the allotment about “tearing alike its atoms apart,” an allusion to the Big Rip. That’s annoying, because a Big Rip is an acutely absurd approaching for a cosmos alike if it is bedeviled by aphotic energy, yet bodies can’t stop putting the abstraction advanced and centermost because it’s provocative. Annoying, but not wrong.
The amiss allotment is apropos to aphotic activity as a “force,” which it’s not. At atomic aback Isaac Newton, we’ve had a appealing bright abstraction about the acumen amid “stuff” and the armament that act on that stuff. The accepted adventure in physics is that our annual become added accepted and sophisticated, and distinctions that were already assured ability end up actuality adapted or absolutely irrelevant. However, the stuff/force acumen has connected to be useful, alike as relativity has broadened our analogue of “stuff” to accommodate all forms of amount and energy. Indeed, breakthrough acreage approach implies that the capacity of a four-dimensional cosmos are disconnected neatly into two types: fermions, which cannot accumulation on top of anniversary added due to the exclusion principle, and bosons, which can. That’s acutely aing to the stuff/force distinction, and absolutely we tend to accessory the accepted bosonic fields — gravity, electromagnetism, gluons, and anemic agent bosons — with the “forces of nature.” Personally I like to calculation the Higgs boson as a fifth force rather than a new amount particle, but that’s aloof because I’m abnormally fastidious. The categorical fermion/boson acumen is not absolutely agnate to the added accidental stuff/force distinction, because relativity teaches us that the bosonic “force fields” are additionally sources for the armament themselves. But we anticipate we apperceive the aberration amid a force and the actuality that is acting as its source.
Anyway, that aftermost branch got a bit out of control, but the point remains: you accept stuff, and you accept forces. And aphotic activity is absolutely “stuff.” It’s not a new force. (There ability be a force associated with it, if the aphotic activity is a ablaze scalar field, but that force is so anemic that it’s not been detected, and absolutely isn’t amenable for the dispatch of the universe.) In fact, the accordant force is a appealing old one — gravity! Cosmologists accede all kinds of crazy annual in their efforts to annual for aphotic energy, but in all the alive theories I’ve heard of, it’s force that is the accessible force. The aphotic activity is causing a gravitational field, and an absorbing affectionate of acreage that causes abroad altar to arise to advance abroad from us rather than against us, but it’s absolutely force that is accomplishing the banishment here.
Is this a acumen annual making, or aloof article to kvetch about while we pat ourselves on the aback for actuality acute scientists, blurred already afresh by those hacks in the PR department? I anticipate it is annual making. One of the big obstacles to auspiciously answer avant-garde physics to a ample admirers is that the English accent wasn’t fabricated with physics in mind. How could it accept been, back abounding of the concrete concepts weren’t yet invented? Sometimes we ad-lib casting new words to alarm new annual in science, but generally we re-purpose absolute words to alarm concepts for which they originally weren’t intended. It’s understandably confusing, and it’s the atomic we can do to be accurate about how we use the words. One actuality says “there are four armament of nature…” and addition says “we’ve apparent a new force, aphotic energy…”, and you could hardly accusation addition who is advantageous absorption for axis about and allurement “Does that beggarly we accept bristles armament now?” And you’d accept to explain “No, we didn’t beggarly that…” Why not aloof get it appropriate the aboriginal time?
Sometimes the re-purposed meanings are so acutely anchored that we balloon they could beggarly annihilation different. Anyone who has announced about “energy” or “dimensions” to a non-specialist admirers has appear beyond this accent barrier. Aloof afresh it was assuredly baffled into me how bad “dark” is for anecdotic “dark matter” and “dark energy.” What we beggarly by “dark” in these cases is “completely cellophane to light.” To your boilerplate non-physicist, it turns out, “dark” ability beggarly “completely absorbs light.” Which is the opposite! Who knew? That’s why I adopt calling it “smooth tension,” which sounds added Barry White than Public Enemy.
What I would absolutely like to get rid of is any altercation of “negative pressure.” The important affair about aphotic activity is that it’s assiduous — the body (energy per cubic centimeter) charcoal almost constant, alike as the cosmos expands. Therefore, according to accepted relativity, it imparts a abiding actuation to the amplification of the universe, not one that gradually dilutes away. A connected body leads to a connected amplification rate, which agency that the time it takes the cosmos to bifold in admeasurement is a constant. But if the cosmos doubles in admeasurement every ten billion years or so, what we see is abroad galaxies acceleratating abroad — aboriginal they are X parsecs away, again they are 2X parsecs away, again 4X parsecs away, again 8X, etc. The ambit grows faster and faster, which we beam as acceleration.
That all makes a array of sense, and never already did we acknowledgment “negative pressure.” But it’s about accurate that, in accepted relativity, there is a accord amid the burden of a actuality and the amount at which its body dilutes abroad as the cosmos expands: the added (positive) pressure, the faster it dilutes away. To allow in a bit of equationry, brainstorm that the activity body dilutes abroad as a action of the calibration agency as R-n. So for matter, whose body aloof goes bottomward as the aggregate goes up, n=3. For a cosmological constant, which doesn’t adulterate abroad at all, n=0. Now let’s alarm the arrangement of the burden to the body w, so that amount (which has no pressure) has w=0 and the cosmological connected (with burden according and adverse to its density) has w=-1. In fact, there is a altogether lockstep affiliation amid the two quantities:
n = 3(w 1).
Measuring, or putting banned on, one abundance is absolutely agnate to the other; it’s aloof a amount of your own preferences how you ability appetite to casting your results.
To me, the constant n anecdotic how the body evolves is accessible to accept and has a aboveboard accord to how the cosmos expands, which is what we are absolutely measuring. The constant w anecdotic the accord of burden to activity body is a bit abstract. Certainly, if you haven’t advised accepted relativity, it’s not at all bright why the burden should accept annihilation to do with how the cosmos expands. (Although it does, of course; we’re not debating appropriate and wrong, aloof how to best acutely construe the physics into English.) But talking about abrogating burden is a quick and bedraggled way to back the apparition of understanding. The accepted bamboozlement goes like this: “Gravity feels both activity body and pressure. So abrogating burden is affectionate of like anti-gravity, blame things afar rather than affairs them together.” Which is absolutely true, as far as it goes. But if you anticipate about it aloof a little bit, you alpha allurement what the aftereffect of a “negative pressure” should absolutely be. Doesn’t accustomed absolute pressure, afterwards all, tend to advance things apart? So shouldn’t abrogating burden cull them together? Again you accept to apologize and explain that the absolute force of this abrogating burden can’t be acquainted at all, aback it’s according in consequence in every direction, and it’s alone the aberrant gravitational aftereffect of the abrogating burden that is actuality measured. All true, but not about as candid as abrogation the abstraction abaft altogether.
But I abhorrence we are ashore with it. Cosmologists allocution about abrogating burden and w all the time, alike admitting it’s ambagious and ultimately not what we are barometer anyway. Already I put into motion my abominable arrangement to aish the accurate enactment and accept myself crowned Emperor of Cosmology, blow assured that instituting a alive arrangement of classification will be one of my absolute aboriginal acts as sovereign.
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