The Expansion of the Universe and the CMBR

Barry Setterfield, February, 2015

Question and Response

The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

When astronomers look toward the ‘edges’ of space, what is seen is rather like a fog.  Using a special kind of radio telescope, the electromagnetic waves coming from it were measured.  The electromagnetic spectrum looks like this:

electromagnetic spectrum

The waves that were measured were on the longer end of the spectrum, below the infrared.  They were microwaves – the same as we use in our microwave ovens.  This is why it is called the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR).  This led astronomers to the conclusion that it was an “echo”  of the expansion of the universe from an initial hot, dense state.  Years earlier, astrophysicist George Gamow had proposed that there should be some echo of the “Big Bang” as it cooled down from the expansion, and that the echo should be in all parts of the sky.  That is why, when the “fog” was discovered, it was interpreted as that echo.

However, the wavelength measured was different from what was originally expected.  They expected a shorter wavelength.  The measured temperature range of this fog was also lower than expected.  The CMBR was real; it was definitely there – but it was not quite what had been expected or predicted.  The conclusion the astronomers drew from this was that the initial expansion had been had been greater than expected.

The general consensus among astronomers is that all matter in the early universe started in the form of a dense, very hot plasma. In a plasma state, electrons are stripped from their atoms, so there are negative electrons and positively charged protons and atomic nuclei moving around freely. A dense, high temperature plasma would trap light-waves by bouncing them off the ions, electrons and subatomic particles, thereby not allowing any light to escape. (A similar effect can be seen in the way that car headlights do not penetrate a fog but get reflected back and forth.)  This would explain the fog-like appearance of the CMBR.

When the plasma cools, the subatomic particles can come together forming neutrally charged, ordinary atoms.  It is not until this happens that light can escape.

There are two separate models of the formation of the universe which must be considered at this point.  First, both models agree that there was an initial rapid expansion of the universe from  hot, dense plasma state.  (There is a group of plasma physicists which deny an expansion and therefore deny the distant CMBR, however the CMBR is there and must be accounted for.)  The standard, and older, model states that gravity waves were produced by the expansion, and therefore gravitational effects should be present in the CMBR.  It was expected that these effects would be visible as the polarization of light.  (Polarization of Light is an article that explains this extremely well). In other words, the gravity waves would affect the light by polarizing it.

Astronomers searched for this polarized light using two telescopes: the European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope in orbit around the Earth, and the BICEP2 radio telescope at the South Pole. Initial results were encouraging and some important claims were made that the required polarization had been found. However, further work published in February of 2015 has revealed that both telescopes were not picking up polarization signals from the CMBR at all. Rather, the polarization signals were coming from dust in and near our own galaxy [E. Gibney, Nature, 518:16-17, February 5, 2015]. The CMBR has therefore not given them the absolute proof of rapid expansion and gravity waves that was initially expected, although the investigation is continuing. 

Because of these developments, there are those who question whether the CMBR actually comes from an event early in the history of our universe at all. Some claim that it is merely signals local to our own Milky Way system. But, unlike the CMBR, the distribution of such Milky Way signals is far from uniform across the sky. Others claim that the signals being picked up from the Planck telescope come entirely from the heat emitted by the oceans on Earth. But when the Planck telescope points away from the Earth, the signals are still there. So in each case, there have been strong arguments against these other propositions. Indeed, no other proposition has robustly stood as an alternative origin for the CMBR.

The Red Shift

The other proof that is usually offered for ongoing universal expansion from the very beginning is the redshift of light from distant galaxies. In the case of the redshift, light from distant galaxies is systematically shifted to the red end of the spectrum, the effect becoming greater with increasing distance. The usual explanation is that, as the cosmos expanded, the fabric of space also expanded and stretched the wavelengths of light in transit, thereby making them longer or redder. The longer the time the light-waves had been travelling, the more they were stretched, and so the redder they became. The Red Shift explains this.

The difficulty with the idea that the redshift is due to the expanding of space is that the spectral lines of the elements encoded in such light waves would also be stretched or broadened, but that is not observed. The “barcode” of spectral lines of the elements in light from distant objects is made up of sharp lines, just as in the laboratory, not diffuse, fuzzy or broadened ones, except in special circumstances.

The alternate explanation usually offered is that the redshift is due to a Doppler effect on light, which is similar to the stretching of sound waves as a police siren goes past you. As the police-car approaches, the pitch of the siren is high as the sound waves are compressed. But then the pitch drops as the car goes away from you because the sound waves are lengthened as the car recedes. A similar effect has been observed with light waves. The problem is that the redshift of light is so large for objects at the most distant parts of the universe that if the Doppler shift were the correct explanation, and the universe is continuing to expand (as that theory states), they must be racing away from us at close to the speed of light. Misner, Thorne and Wheeler in their standard textbook, Gravitation, show that is not possible [p. 767]. So the Doppler interpretation is also flawed.

Due to the clear defects in the explanation of the redshift of light from distant galaxies, there was a lot riding on finding the gravitational polarization of light in the CMBR.  With both of these ‘proofs’ showing severe problems, where does astronomy go from here?

The Hydrogen Clouds

Hydrogen clouds are distributed throughout the universe. As light passes through the hydrogen clouds, selective wavelengths are absorbed. This produces a dark line on the color spectrum of the light coming through the cloud. The dark line of importance here is called the Lyman Alpha line. As the light goes through an increasing number of hydrogen clouds on its journey, an increasing number of Lyman Alpha lines are built up in the spectrum. Hydrogen clouds further away from our galaxy have greater redshifts, as redshift does indicate distance.  That means the position of the Lyman Alpha line on the color spectrum from an individual cloud will be dependent on distance and hence registered by its redshift. As a result of traveling great astronomical distances, light passing through these clouds will arrive at earth with a whole suite of lines. This is referred to as the 'Lyman Alpha forest.'

Analysis indicates that, if the universe is continuing to expand, the average distance between the hydrogen clouds should be increasing as we come forward in time (which means closer to our own galaxy, since the farther out we look, the further back in time we are seeing).  This means that as we look back into the past, and hence to greater redshifts, the clouds should be closer together. However, if the universe is relatively static, the average distance between the clouds should remain fixed. A detailed study of this matter has been performed by Lyndon Ashmore, among others. The Abstract to one of his papers contains these conclusions:

"This paper examines the Lyman Alpha forest in order to determine the average temperature and the average separation of Hydrogen clouds over the aging of the universe. A review of the literature shows that the clouds did once become further and further apart (showing expansion?) but are now evenly spaced (an indication of a static universe?). ... Whilst these results do not support any cosmology individually, they do support one where the universe expanded in the past but that expansion has now been arrested and the universe is now static". [L Ashmore, 2nd Crisis in Cosmology Conference, CCC-2. ASP Conference Series, Vol. 413, Proceedings of the Conference held 7-11 September 2008, at Port Angeles, Washington, USA. F. Potter, ed., p.3 (Astronomical Society of the Pacific, San Francisco, 2009)].

So, while the standard model states that the universe expanded out rapidly and that expansion is continuing, the hydrogen cloud data indicate that the universe underwent initial expansion and then became static. This data set is in complete accord with an entirely different line of enquiry with different evidence.

An Alternate Model

The hydrogen cloud data gives real evidence for an initial expansion of the universe.  All those who agree to that initial expansion also agree that matter started in a dense, hot plasma state, in which electromagnetism was predominant. However, in direct opposition to the common idea that gravitational forces took over early in the age of the universe, it is proposed that electromagnetic forces have continued to predominate through the entire life of the universe with gravity being relegated to smaller scales such as our solar system.  This is explained in articles regarding something called the Zero Point Energy (ZPE).  In this model, gravitational polarization of light would not be expected in the CMBR.

While the Zero Point Energy (ZPE) approach offers an entirely different explanation for the redshift, the key point to note here is that the redshift cannot be used as direct evidence for universal expansion. The other main evidence for expansion is the CMBR, and it is for this reason that much time and effort has been expended to make that interpretation certain and so bolster the Standard Model.

If the standard model is incorrect, however, where exactly does the CMBR fits into the scenario? Is it evidence for the original cosmic expansion or not? It is at this point that the Plasma-Zero Point Energy (ZPE) Model comes in. It is becoming generally accepted that matter in the universe is still 99.9% in the form of plasma. As shown in "A Plasma Universe With Changing Zero Point Energy", the initial expansion of the cosmos generated the ZPE, and, as the expansion continued, the ZPE strength built up. Since a variety of research has shown that the ZPE is responsible for maintaining atomic structures across the cosmos, the ZPE had to build to a sufficient level before atoms could form. In other words, the initially low ZPE strength demanded that matter was in the form of plasma as atomic orbits could not exist until the ZPE strength was high enough to support atomic structures. As the expansion continued, the ZPE built up until eventually the first electrons could maintain their orbits around protons and neutral hydrogen atoms formed. It was at that moment in time that light could shine out of the plasma fog, and the CMBR was formed. Note that there was no need for gravitational waves or polarization, although polarization of light waves is always possible in plasma filaments.

From plasma physics, it can be shown that the formation of atoms gave the CMBR a temperature of about 5400 degrees Kelvin. However, investigation suggests that the CMBR temperature is currently 2.725 degrees K. The reason for the apparent temperature difference is the ZPE strength. A lower ZPE strength in the early universe means longer wavelengths are emitted by all atomic transitions, whether in visible light or any other part of the electromagnetic spectrum. As a result, all light emitted when the ZPE was lower will be red-shifted compared with today, no matter what part of the spectrum it is in. So the CMBR is only related indirectly to cosmic expansion.

Finally, if structures or polarizations are actually found in the CMBR, they will be related to plasma filament formation in the early universe, which would have occurred by the usual electromagnetic processes which operate in all plasmas. Then, as Peratt’s experiments have demonstrated, the plasma filaments interact to form galaxies, stars and planets [see for example: Data and Creation; the ZPE-Plasma Model].


Question and Response:

Question: Dear Sir, Just read your informative article, "The Expansion of the Universe and the CMBR." It makes one wonder why the scientific community is steadfast in only accepting a weak force like gravity in the formation of the universe.

My question revolves around the discussion of distant starlight and an article by Robert newton in the "Journal of Creation," April 2001. Could the one-way speed of light be instantaneous in one direction or traveling anisotropically? Since it appears to be impossible to determine this experimentally, is it just another philosophical argument that will never be solved?

Setterfield: Thank you for your questions; they are appreciated.

There are historical reasons why gravity has been assumed to be the main driving force in cosmology. First, Newton set everything in motion, and when an alternative came up in the early 1900's, it was squashed by Sydney Chapman, a mathematical physicist. It was only after his demise in 1977 that the way cleared sufficiently for the plasma/electromagnetic option to be considered. Even since then, however, it is still politically incorrect to mention the action of electricity in space, despite the fact that all magnetic fields that have been measured need electric currents to produce them. It seems that there is a desire to hold on to old ideas rather than acknowledge the truth, but that is typical of mankind generally.

This also has a bearing on the article by Robert Newton that you referred to. The article is based squarely on Special Relativity. Einstein, in this theory, maintained that there is no absolute reference frame anywhere in the universe and so everything is relative. The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) disproves that. As Martin Harwit has pointed out in his book Astrophysical Concepts, p.178, the absolute motion of our solar system around our galaxy can be determined by the CMBR, as also can the separate motion of our galaxy in our Local Group of galaxies, as also can the motion of our Local Group towards the Virgo cluster, and so on. In other words, the CMBR is the absolute reference frame for the whole of the cosmos. With these data contradicting Einstein, Harwit tries to salvage what he can for the theory by stating that Relativity only applies on a small scale (such as the atomic level) and that macroscopically an absolute frame really does exist. In saying that, Harwit is admitting that the very basis of Relativity is wrong. A study of the Zero Point Energy provides an alternate way of explaining observed relativistic effects without the restrictive postulates that Einstein put in place in order to achieve his results.

Unfortunately, the argument about the one-way speed of light is one of the ones that Robert Newton borrows from Special Relativity and is also incorrect. For example, we have indeed measured the one-way speed of light falling vertically from a star to earth. This is done every time the aberration experiments measure the speed of light. These give a one-way result for the speed of an incoming light photon that is in close accord with the current designated speed. It is certainly not infinite. Furthermore, there is no "hall of mirrors" or "transportation of time clocks" to consider in these aberration experiments, so the devices that Robert Newton uses to bolster his case are not relevant here, even if the theory was sound (which the CMBR proves is not the case).

Straightforward physics of the vacuum also requires that the speed of light be the same in all directions in a given region of space and not instantaneous in one direction of travel. This idea of one direction in which light-speed is instantaneous is itself a denial of plain physical principles and has only been introduced to protect Einstein's postulates. Indeed, it can be clearly stated that it is not impossible to determine these factors experimentally since (1) the CMBR shows that Relativity is flawed and (2) the alternative that is offered by the Zero Point Energy, which controls the properties of the vacuum, overcomes those flaws and (3) finally allows some common sense to prevail. In so doing, it also allows us to determine that the speed of light was much faster in the past (in all directions) when the ZPE strength was lower. This meant that light from many galaxies arrived at earth either near the end of Creation Week, or reasonably soon after, so if Adam had a telescope he could see the spiral galaxy M81 in Ursa Major, which is 11 million light years distant.

So finally, it can be stated that while some scientific philosophers may argue about relativity and its effects, the practical results from observation speak louder than they do and give us the truth of the situation. Once again, data should lead to theory, not vice versa.

I hope that helps.