Dr. Wright is Wrong-- a reply to Ned Wright's "Errors in The Big Bang Never Happened"

A number of people have asked me to reply to Ned Wright's critique of the BBN. Observation since the last edition of the book was published in 1992 have only served to make the arguments in it stronger and to further contradict Wright's assertions.

Large Scale Structures

Wright claims that large scale structures in the universe can be created in the time since the Big Bang given the existence of dark (non-baryonic) matter in the right amounts. There are two errors here. Even calculations by advocates of the Big Bang show that the structures we observe would take about 5 times as long as the Hubble time(the hypothetical time since the Big Bang) to form, even with dark matter. And, second, there is no evidence that dark matter exists.

Galaxies are organized into filaments and walls that surround large voids that are apparently nearly devoid of all matter. These voids typically have diameters around 140-170Mpc(taking H=70km/sec/Mpc) and occur with some regularity[E. Saar, et al, The supercluster-void network V: The regularity periodogram", Astr. And Astrophys., vol. 393, pp1-23 (2002)]. These are merely the largest structures commonly observed in present-day surveys of galaxies. Still larger structures exist, but are few in number for the simple reason that they are comparable in size with the scope of the surveys themselves.

Since the observed voids have galactic densities that are 10% or less of the average for the entire observed volume, nearly all the matter would have to be moved out of the voids[F. Hoyle and M.S. Vogeley, "Voids in the Point Source Catalog Survey and the Updated Zwicky Catalog", Astrophys. J., vol 566, pp.641-651, Feb. 20, 2002].

Measurements of the large scale bulk streaming velocities of galaxies indicate average velocities around 200-250km/sec[L.N. Da Costa et al, "Redshift-Distance survey of Early-type galaxies: dipole of the velocity field' Astrophys. J., vol 537, ppL81-L84, July 10, 2000], a factor for 5 less than the 1,000 km/sec I conservatively used in my book.

To answer Dr. Wright's objections, let's look at results of large scale structure formation obtained by his colleagues who support the Big Bang, and whose calculations assume that the Big Bang happened.

To give the maximum leeway to the BB theory, we look at work that assumes some explosive mechanism created the voids, which would be much faster than if they were formed by gravitational attraction. For a cold dark matter Big Bang model, the time T in years, of formation of a void R cm in diameter in matter with density n/cm3 and final, present-day, velocity V cm/s is[ J.J. Levin et al, Astrophys J. vol 389, p464]:

T=1.03n-1/4V-1/2 R1/2

For V=220Km/sec, R=85 Mpc and n =2.4x10-7 /cm3 (assuming the ratio of baryons to photons, h=6.14x 10-10), T= 158Gy. This is 11.6 times as long as the Hubble time. Even if we increase n to reflect current assumptions about dark matter being some 6 times as abundant as ordinary matter, we still get 100 Gy, or 7.4 times the Hubble time. This is actually a bit worse than the figure we arrive at by just diving the distance moved by the current velocity, which ends up as 6.3 time the Hubble time.

Detailed computer simulations, which also include the hypothesized "cosmological constant" run into the same contradictions, in that they produce voids that are far too small. Simulations with a variety of assumptions can produce voids as large typically as about 35 Mpc[S. Arbabi-Bidgoli, and V. Muller, arXiv:astrop-ph/0111581 Nov. 30, 2001], a factor of 5 smaller than those actually observed on the largest scales. In addition, such simulated voids have bulk flow velocities that are typically 10% of the Hubble flow velocities[J. D. Schmidt, B.S. Ryden and A.L. Melott, Astrophys. J., vol. 546, pp609-619] which mean that voids larger than 60Mpc, even if they could be produced in Big Bang simulations, would generate final velocities in excess of those observed, and voids as large as 170 Mpc would generate velocities of over 600km/s, nearly 3 times the observed velocities.

Thus even with dark mater AND a cosmological constant, it is impossible for the Big Bang theory to produce voids as large as those observed today with galactic velocities as small as those today. As was true in 1991, the large-scale structures are too big for the Big Bang. They in fact must be far older than the "Big Bang".

The existence of "dark matter"

Dark matter, or "non-baryonic" matter is a hypothetical form of matter different from any observed on Earth but which is nonetheless required by the Big Bang. Current versions of the (ever-changing) theory require that total gravitating matter density be equal to 0.3 of the critical density but that of ordinary, baryon matter be only 0.05 of the critical density. This means that 0.25 of the critical density has to be in the form of some undiscovered, non-baryonic matter, generally described as Wimps, weakly interacting massive particles.

This "cold dark matter" or CDM, was hypothesized as essential for the Big Bang theory back in 1980--23 years ago. Since then physicists have searched diligently with dozens of experiments for any evidence of the existence of these dark matter particle here on Earth. Oddly enough every one of the experiments has had negative results. In fields of research other than cosmology this would have long ago led to the conclusion that CDM does not exist. But Big Bang cosmology does not taken "NO" for an answer. So the failure to find the CDM after so many experiments does not in any way shake the faith of Big Bangers in such CDM. This is evidence that what we are dealing with here is a religious faith, not a scientific theory that can be refuted by experiment or observation.

The idea that neutrinos might form a bath of Hot Dark Matter has also been undermined by experiments that indicate that while neutrinos do probably have some mass, it is of the order of 0.1 eV (energy equivalent), which means that total neutrino mass in the universe is likely to be around one tenth of the mass of ordinary matter.

Wright argues that the existence of dark matter if proved by the difference between the total gravitating mass inferred for galaxies and cluster of galaxies and the mass in observable stars. But this is an absurd non-sequitor. Observations have demonstrated that stars constitute only a small fraction of the total mass of ordinary matter that can be observed. In clusters of galaxies we can observe by X-ray emissions huge clouds of hot plasma, which have masses far greater than that of bright stars.

There is extensive observational evidence for ordinary matter in two other forms that are relatively dim, One is white dwarfs in the halos of spiral galaxies. Recent observations of high proper motion stars have shown that halo white dwarfs constitute a mass of about 1011 solar masses, comparable to about half the total estimated mass of the Galaxy [R.A. Mendez and D. Minnitti ,Astrophys. J., vol. 529, p.911; B.R. Oppenheimer et al Science, 292, p. 698]. While these observations have been sharply criticized, they have been confirmed by new observations [R. A. Mendez ,arXiv:astrop-ph/0207569].

Observations of ultraviolet and soft x-ray absorption has revealed the existence of "warm plasma' with a temperature of only about 0.2keV, which amounts to a mass comparable to that of the entire Local group of galaxies.(Nature 421, 719). If we adds up the warm plasma, which is sufficiently dim to be observable only as it absorbs radiation from more dim objects, the hot plasma, and the white dwarfs, we have enough matter to equal that which is inferred by the gravitational mass of cluster of galaxies. So there is no need for non-baryonic matter and there is no room for it either.

Conclusion: the evidence against the existence of non-baryonic"dark" matter is stronger than ever. Ordinary matter is only the only type of matter that exists.

A few points on Wright's misunderstanding of the plasma theory of the CBR

Wright argues that extended radio sources contradict the absorption of radio waves by filaments in the intergalactic medium. He points to Cygnus A and says that no absorbing filaments can be seen. This indicate Wright has not read the relevant papers, which make it clear that the absorbing filamtsn are quite small by astronomical standards. Except for an initial 1987 paper, where the idea was worked out only in rough way, my elaboration of the hypothesis of absorbing magnetic filaments have made clear that the filaments in general are too small to be observed directly. From the formulae in IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol.20, pp. 935-938, for example, it can be calculated that filaments that absorb 21 cm radio waves will be no more than 7,000 km in diameter, far too small to be resolved. Wright's arguing that the inability to resolve the filaments shows their nonexistence is similar to arguing that the inability to resolve individual dust particles in a dust storm contradict the idea that dust absorbs light from the sun.

Wright completely ignores the strong observational evidence that radio emission from galaxies does indeed drop off sharply with distance, relative to emission at IR wavelengths [E.J. Lerner, Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol 207, p.17-26], which are too short to be absorbed by the filaments. He offers no alternative explanation for these observations. This is characteristic of BB theorists, who simply ingrown inconvenient observations.

Wright's second objection, that a fractal inhomogenous collection of absorbers would lead to a non-isotropic distortion of radio sources is simply mathematically wrong. Fractal distributions are inhomogeneous in three-space, but their projection on to 2-space, the sky, tend to be isotropic.

However, we would expect some fairly small variations in the CBR because of the inhomogenous IGM--where there is more density of matter, we would expect a slightly brighter CBR. This would only be slight, because scattering and the contribution of the IGM along the same line of sight but at different distance would greatly reduce anisotropies, as described in [E. J. Lerner, Astrophysics and Space Science, Vol.227. p.61-81]

This is what is found. There is indeed a slight correlation between galaxy density and CBR intensity, as expected. What is particularly interesting is that this correlation extends over all angular scales, as would be expected from the plasma viewpoint. But in the BB hypothesis, which assumes the CBR originated BEHIND all clusters of galaxies and other very dense concentrations of matter, interactions with electrons will decrease the CBR luminosity. So there should be an anti-correlation of galaxies and CBR on small angular scales. Just the opposite is observed[Scranton et al, arXiv:astrop-ph/0307335]. The correlation continues to be positive even on small angular scales--as expected in the plasma hypothesis.

In addition, The WMAP results contradict the Big Bang theory and support the plasma cosmology theory in another extremely important respect. Tegmark et al [arXiv:astro-ph/0302496] have shown that the quadruple and octopole component of the CBR are not random, but have a strong preferred orientation in the sky. The quadruple and octopole power is concentrated on a ring around the sky and are essentially zero along a preferred axis. The direction of this axis is identical with the direction toward the Virgo cluster and lies exactly along the axis of the Local Supercluster filament of which our Galaxy is a part.

This observation completely contradicts the Big Bang assumption that the CBR originated far from the local Supercluster and is, on the largest scale, isotropic without a preferred direction in space. Big Bang theorists have implausibly labeled the coincidence of the preferred CBR direction and the direction to Virgo to be mere accident and have scrambled to produce new ad-hoc assumptions, including that the universe is finite only in one spatial direction, an assumption that entirely contradicts the assumptions of the inflationary model of the Big Bang, the only model generally accepted by Big Bang supporters.

However, the plasma explanation is far simpler. If the density of the absorbing filaments follows the overall density of matter, as assumed by this theory, then the degree of absorption should be higher locally in the direction along the axis of the (roughly cylindrical) Local Supercluster and lower at right angles to this axis, where less high-density matter is encountered. This in turn means that concentrations of the filaments outside the Local Supercluster, which slightly enhances CBR power, will be more obscured in the direction along the supercluster axis and less obscured at right angle to this axis, as observed. More work will be needed to estimate the magnitude of this effect, but it is in qualitative agreement with the new observations.

Wright's third objection illustrates the essential sloppiness of Big Bang thinking. He claims that statistics of flux vs number counts contradict the absorption hysptheises. In fact they confirm it. Contrary to Wright's claims that N~ F-1.8, where N is the number of sources brighter than F, the actual distribution is quite different. Wright's formula is roughly true ONLY for the very brightest sources, those stronger than about 200mJy. For sources dimmer than that, the relationship is very close to N~F-0.82, almost exactly the relationship Wright himself says is predicted by the plasma hypothesis [Windhorst, R., ApJ 405, 498]. Wright either is ignorant of this well-known fact, or deliberately ignores it.

There is no real mystery as to why the brighter sources follow a different relationship. As Sylos Labini et al{Physica A 226,195] demonstrate, for very bright sources, the number-flux relationship is distorted by finite size effects. Put simply, very bright sources or either very close or, if distant and intrinsically bright, very rare. For small volumes there will be too few of these very bright objects--for small enough volumes there will be none of them. As the volume increases to the size at which a fair sample of very bright objects occurs, the apparent density increases. This creates a purely apparent, statistical tendency for a more rapid growth in the number of objects with decreasing flux. The true relationship is only revealed with the more numerous dimmer objects.

A very similar change in the number flux slope occurs in the counts of optical sources, basically galaxies, with one important different. For bright galaxies, the relationship has an exponent of -1.5, but for dim galaxies, the exponent changes to -1.0. That exponent is just what one would expect for a fractal distribution of dimension D=2 with NO absorption. The fact that the radio sources have an exponent of -0.82, not -1.0, implies an absorption almost identical to that hypothesized in the plasma theory of the CBR. Without absorption, one would have to explain why more distant radio sources become systematically dimmer and less numerous compared with optical course--even at distances of tens of Mpc, far too small to be affected by evolutionary effects.

A Brief Note on the Hubble relationship

Wright says that my book endorses Alfven's explanation of the Hubble relationship. But again, that implies that Wright did not even read the book he criticizes. In the book, I present Alfven's, AND several other explanations of the Hubble relationship in the Appendix to the book (which was in both editions), as well as in Chapter 6. I concluded that "the question of the Hubble relationship remains unanswered" (p.279) and that none of the possible explanations were without problems, a conclusion that still stands. However, the one explanation that can be ruled out, because of its many contradictions with observation, is the Big Bang. We are not stuck with the Big Bang by default.

Light element production

In considering the arguments against the BB, Wright entirely ignores the contradictions between observations and BB predictions of light element abundances, pointed out in the preface to my book. These contradictions have only gotten sharper since the book was written (See my new review, Two World Systems--link to that document here).

Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) predicts the abundance of four light isotopes(4He, 3He, D and 7Li) given only the density of baryons in the universe. These predictions are central to the theory, since they flow from the hypothesis that the universe went through a period of high temperature and density--the Big Bang. In practice, the baryon density has been treated as a free variable, adjusted to match the observed abundances. Since four abundances must be matched with only a single free variable, the light element abundances are a clear-cut test of the theory. In 1992, there was no value for the baryon density that could give an acceptable agreement with observed abundances, and this situation has only worsened in the ensuing decade. The current observations of just three of the four predicted BBN light elements preclude BBN at a level of at least 7 s. In other words, the odds against BBN being a correct theory are about 100 billion to one

Wright's comments on the plasma theory of generating light elements in stars show, again, that he has not read the relevant papers that he is criticizing. He assumes that the distribution of stellar masses in the early formative periods of galactic history are the same as today, when supernovae produce considerable amounts of CNO compared to helium. However, the detailed models and calculations presented in my papers showed that the early galaxies were dominated by intermediate mass stars too small to create supernovae. These stars produce and blow off an outer layer of helium but very little or no CNO is released to the interstellar medium [E.J. Lerner, IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, Vol. 17, , pp. 259-263].

Similar errors occur in Wright's comments on production of lithium in cosmic rays. Since this occurs when protons in cosmic rays collide with CNO atoms, naturally the abundance of lithium is relatively high in current cosmic rays, give the interstellar medium contains a few percent CNO. But in very young, formative galaxies, where only one ten-thousandth of the current levels of CNO were yet produced, Li production was reduced by a comparable amount. Indeed we find that stars with heavy element abundance 10-4 that of the sun, and a few thousand times less than the ISM, have D/Li ratios that are also a few thousand times less than the 80-to-1 ratio Wright quotes. Typically, he misquotes the ratio of D to Li observed in the oldest stars, which is about 150,000 to 1, not 6 million to 1. But to a true Big Bang believer like Dr. Wright, making an error of a factor of forty in regards to mere observations is no cause of concern. Observations, after all, do not affect faith.