Prior to the existence of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), science believed that our universe was expanding slowly and could even fold back on itself one day. And in the year 1998, the HST discovered that instead of this slow expansion, this expansion rate of the universe was actually speeding up – and scientists still have no clue why.
What is Causing the Expansion Rate Increase?
One explanation might be dark energy. Instead of letting the universe to expand at a rate that is constant, this dark energy could be pushing it along and being the cause for the increase in speed. The thing is that today’s astronomers are only able to measure the expansion indirectly, thus by only measuring distances between two galaxies.
This dark energy is believed to make up approximately 68 percent of the universe, and that dark matter makes up about 27 percent. However, we can only define them in terms of gravity. This means that scientists today are only able to detect them indirectly; by the way they cause galaxies and stars to move relative to them. For example, the quantity of matter contained within solely galaxy clusters will not account for all the gravity that is keeping them together. So there must be another force helping out. For that particular mystery, dark matter is by far the most popular answer.
For about a century, astrophysicists have theorized about dark matter and its existence. A Swiss astronomer named Fritz Swicky was the very first to understand that there was a lot more matter floating around the universe than what we can directly observe. Even though he concluded all this in the year 1933, an astronomer from the US name Vera Rubin was the one who actually made this model more common during the 1970s, as he employed it to demonstrate how the stars move about at different velocities.
Hubble Constant Discovered
Then in the year 2011, Australian and U.S. astrophysicists took the Nobel Prize in the field of physics for their discovering the Hubble Constant in 1998. This constant describes the expansion rate of the universe. Since that happened, there have been several attempts to detect dark energy and dark matter, no there has been zero progress to date.
Today, André Maeder, who happens to be an honorary professor in the Department of Astronomy from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), has crafted a dramatically radical new theory that has shook up the world of astrophysics. He claims that neither dark energy nor dark matter even exists. Thus, he feels that these two concepts are not required any longer. Not only that, this Swiss physicist has demonstrated how the universe can work without them. These findings have been recently published recently in the publication The Astrophysical Journal. So how on Earth does this new concept work?
It is based on what is known as the scale invariance. This is a state when properties of matter will not change regardless of way you measure it, and regardless of scale. We could even multiply their energy levels or lengths by any number we choose and they will not change. There are certain fractals for example, that if we were to zoom in closer to them or fade further back away from them, they continue to keep the same shape and size. Their properties simply do not change. The same can be said for empty space as well. Whether you pan in or out, it is the same. This concept is not a foreign one to physics. Scale invariance has been a basic part of electromagnetic theory.
Maeder proposes that rather than having dark energy or matter, we have merely neglected to include scale invariance into our Standard Models—or our current model depicting the universe. So far, this has only been created primarily from Newton’s universal law of gravitation, Einstein’s law of general relativity, and also quantum mechanics.
“In this model, there is a starting hypothesis that hasn’t been taken into account, in my opinion,” Maeder said. “By that, I mean the scale invariance of empty space; in other words, empty space and its properties do not change following a dilatation or contraction.” If this is true, it would change everything we know about gravity and universal expansion.
What is actually different today is that Einstein felt that empty space operated on what is referred to as a cosmological constant. Today, we would consider this as simply a form of dark energy. Maeder’s model instead inserts scale invariance into empty space. He has tested this hypothesis on the accelerated expansion of space models, and it has actually worked without even needing dark energy. He has also applied it successfully to galaxy clusters.