more unbelievable than pi = 3

Joe Barrera joebear at polymathy.org
Thu Aug 28 22:59:27 PDT 2003


If you started a religion with this
as your eschaton, no one would believe it.
In fact you'd probably be locked up.

- Joe :-)

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Physics News Update 651
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 2003 13:36:25 -0400
From: physnews at aip.org
Reply-To: physnews at aip.org
To: joe at BARRERA.ORG

PHYSICS NEWS UPDATE
The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News
Number 651 August 28, 2003   by Phillip F. Schewe, Ben Stein, and
James Riordon

THE BIG RIP: A NEW COSMIC DOOMSDAY scenario takes the present
acceleration of the expansion of the universe to new extremes.
Dartmouth physicist Robert Caldwell and his colleagues Marc
Kamionkowski and Nevin Weinberg at Caltech have determined that if
the supposed dark energy responsible for the acceleration is potent
enough not only will the space between galaxies continue to increase
but that the galaxies themselves will fly apart as will, at
successive times stars, planets, and even atoms and nuclei.  Since
the acceleration idea became established with astronomers a few
years ago in the wake of observations of distant supernovae, it has
been conventional to apportion the supposed energy inventory of the
universe as follows:  5% in the form of conventional baryon matter
(out of which atoms are made), 25% in the form of dark matter, and
the biggest part, 70%, in the form of dark energy.  Not a lot is
known about dark matter, and even less about dark energy.
Cosmologists have taken to discussing the enigmatic properties of
the dark energy with the use of a new parameter, w, which is the
ratio of its average pressure to energy density.  The degree of this
runaway expansion impulse is expressed by w.  What is the nature of
dark energy and how does it overcome the attractive pull of
gravitation in order to speed up the cosmic expansion, and what is
the proper value of w?  In the best known model, the "cosmological
constant" in Einstein's famous equations of general relativity
corresponds to energy and pressure of the universal quantum vacuum,
and is constant in space and time.  Here the value of w is -1.  In a
second popular model, the "quintessence"model, the dark energy is
associated with a universal quantum field relaxing towards some
final state.  Here the energy density and pressure of the dark
energy are slowly decreasing with time, and the value of w is
somewhere between -1/3 and -1 (w must  be smaller than -1/3 in order
for cosmic acceleration to occur).
In Caldwell's "phantom energy" model, there is no stable vacuum
quantum state and the energy density and the expansionary pressure
exerted on the universe seems to increase even as the spacetime
itself expands (with ordinary gases, pressure falls with
expansion).  In this scenario  w is less than -1. The implications
of this new type of cosmology are that bound systems should in the
course of time be ripped up (see figure at
http://www.aip.org/mgr/png/2003/200.htm ).   For example, at a w
value of -1.5 the universe would last for 35 billion  years before
being ripped apart. About 60 million years before the end, the Milky
Way would be torn apart.  About 3 months before the end the solar
system would become undone.  About 30 minutes before that the Earth
would explode.    And about 10^-19 seconds before the ultimate
moment of doom, atoms would be pulled apart.  Caldwell
(robert.r.caldwell at dartmouth.edu, 603-646-2742) suggests that
deciding between this model and the others might be possible in
coming years with much better data coming from microwave background,
supernovae, and galaxy measurements.  (Caldwell et al., Physical
Review Letters, 15 August 2003; text at www.aip.org/physnews/select)

[...]

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