Archive for October, 2010

The last post

29Oct10

The dark energy controversy is unresolved, and will likely continue to be unresolved for a long while yet. While cosmologists do use the ΛCDM model to fit WMAP (cosmic microwave background probe) and SDSS/2dFGRS (galaxy redshift surveys) data, sometimes they vary the ‘cosmological equation of state’ parameter (w), which should be set at -1 for a cosmological constant; w=-1 […]


A difficulty with presenting dark energy, and indeed cosmology in general, to the public is that it’s so complex and long winded. Does this add to the controversy? Reading reader comments on popular magazine articles, as I do, I sometimes find that there is a large amount of misunderstanding over dark energy, specifically which parts […]


The experts

26Oct10

I’ve been putting off, all semester, writing about the experts…those warm, fuzzy cosmologists we don’t really know but perhaps still love because they’re adventurers exploring the big beyond and that’s pretty okay by us. I read in Lerner that experts’ pronouncements are accepted on faith; he was upset about this because he thought it added to […]


While for obvious reasons dark energy hasn’t appeared often in the mainstream news, I had a look at 14 articles written in the New York Times between 1998 and 2001. The progression of themes went something like this: Report on the discovery –> universe a ‘mess’ Pondering a theory to match observations à fudge factor back […]


Since 1998, articles about dark energy in journals and magazines have become very common. The diagram, taken from Horvath, who argues for a Kuhnian paradigm shift in modern cosmology (Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Modern Cosmology: The Case for a Kuhnian Paradigm Shift, by Horvath, in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social […]


The third aspect of what makes dark energy a controversy is sort of a cumulation of some of the issues I’ve raised in past posts. There is a clear aversion to a dark universe and to a cosmological constant; some scientists are so unhappy with the situation that they actually hope that they’ve got it […]


Kuhn sure knew what he was talking about. The dark energy controversy, the major elements of it that I’ve discussed in the previous two posts, are perfectly Kuhnian. Recall that Kuhn says that controversies can arise when observations turn up anomalies in the theory; that is, when “nature has somehow violated the paradigm-induced expectations”. When […]