Dark flow of the universe

Cosmic microwave background

Scientists from NASA have found that a large region of our universe is moving in a particular direction using observations of the cosmic microwave background and X-ray clusters. It seems that the local region of our universe, at least a couple of billion light years across, is moving towards a particular patch of the sky relative to the cosmic microwave background.

Gravitational models of the observable universe are not able to account for such a large-scale "dark flow", so they are speculating that the motion might have been due to the pre-inflation gravitational attraction from mass outside the observable universe. From what I can gather, it seems that an uneven distribution of mass and energy throughout the universe set our particular region of the universe moving slightly towards a specific direction. This would have been before the inflationary phase of the Big Bang. After going through inflation, the masses responsible for the gravitational attraction would have moved too far away for any gravity from them to reach us. And yet our local region of the universe would still maintain the motion due to inertia.

I could have misunderstood what the scientists were saying, though, so any corrections would be welcome. In any case, if there really is such a "dark flow", which should be confirmed with further astronomical observations, then it's mind-boggling in that it might give some of the first hints of what the outside of our observable universe looks like.

Big bounce with loops

I'm a sop for articles about fundamental physics. The October issue of Scientific American has an article about how loop quantum gravity might indicate that the universe didn't start with the Big Bang; instead, the Big Bang might actually be a Big Bounce, where the universe started expanding again after a collapse which erased all trace of its previous existence. It appears that at extremely high energy densities, gravity would no longer be an attractive force and instead becomes a repulsive force.

Continue reading "Big bounce with loops"

Child porn raid of a church

Why is it that it's always extremely fundamentalist religious sects which tend to favor polygamy with young girls? I thought it was supposed to the other way around, with godless gay marriage opening the door to polygamy and perverse sexual deviants. In yet another example of "upstanding Christian morality", another church has been raided for alleged child abuse and pornography.

I've sort of come to expect child abuse from extremist religious sects from stories about Christians and Muslims, but the accusations of pornography are rather a surprise. Maybe the pornography charges are mistaken, and it's just another case of some people still thinking that children and woman are property instead of being individuals in their own right. Considering how many religious people are so adamantly against gay marriage despite repeated clarifications that it's between two consenting individuals, I also have a sneaky suspicion that they lack an understanding of what "consent" means. It could explain why certain religious sects consider it just fine to indoctrinate children and marry them against their will, while being completely unable to wrap their minds around the marriage of two consenting adults.

Or it may turn out that the church really is producing child pornography. This would be a depressing case of a manipulative religious leader cynically exploiting his flock. Or maybe it's just due to an attempt to "record a sacred matrimonial union for posterity". Nonetheless, the absence of a concrete basis for religion kind of makes it hard for anyone to explain religiously why such things are wrong, which may be why these things happen much more often in an organized manner with religions.

The best case would be that this is all a huge misunderstanding and that no child abuse occurred. Sadly, history indicates that the chances for this aren't so good.

Not talking like a pirate

Pirate speech

Today is supposedly Talk Like a Pirate Day. However, being the gloomy and negative person that I am, I'm going to have to be a wet blanket and try to apprehend anyone who talks like a pirate. Pirates are truly a despicable lot who deserve no mercy, and this is as true as it was in the past as it is today. Anyone who wants to honor the holiday had better avoid me, since I may declare this a Talk Like a Pirate Hunter Day.

Then again, tis' on'y a talk like 'em pirates day, arr matey?