Don't give me any of that intelligent life crap, just give me something I can blow up
May 15, 2006 2:45 PM   Subscribe

For a star as big as our universe the calculated vacuum energy inside its shell matches the value of dark energy seen in the universe today. "It's like we are living inside a giant dark energy star" say two physicists and their collegues. Dark energy stars may do away with the concept of black holes. (also seen recently on )
posted by Smedleyman (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
So the universe is a dark star. Makes perfect sense to me.

Explains a lot, really.
posted by BeerFilter at 2:57 PM on May 15, 2006


That's where my matching socks went. No wonder.
posted by IronLizard at 3:08 PM on May 15, 2006


This is why I love science. Someone comes out with a totally fresh idea, and it's like "yeah cool, that looks interesting, why don't we take a closer look and do more analysis" (yes yes not as a rule but often enough).

Our religious cousins tend to stick their fingers in their ears and say "nanananana I can't hear you!" when presented with a new idea. 'Faith' I believe it is called.
posted by pivotal at 3:15 PM on May 15, 2006


Considering that all our evidence for the existence of black holes is circumstantial, dark energy stars sound like they work just as well.
posted by slatternus at 3:15 PM on May 15, 2006


*head explodes*
posted by wfrgms at 3:21 PM on May 15, 2006


Nice title.
False data can act only as a distraction. Therefore. I shall refuse to perceive you.
posted by dhartung at 3:33 PM on May 15, 2006


/yeah, I thought it was funky that both sort of raise phenomonology issues.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:37 PM on May 15, 2006


This is why I love science. Someone comes out with a totally fresh idea, and it's like "yeah cool, that looks interesting, why don't we take a closer look and do more analysis" (yes yes not as a rule but often enough).

Or they get attacked as a crackpot, or ignored, or whatever.

Anyway, this article seemed to be written much better then a lot of pop sci articles, with slightly less goofball metaphors then usual.
posted by delmoi at 4:20 PM on May 15, 2006


Yeah, I was going to do my usual rant against New Scientist links but this idea actually sounds interesting...

But then I've always had a bias against black holes and the whole singularity concept too.
posted by vacapinta at 4:28 PM on May 15, 2006


Event horizon, space-time singularity, quantum critical phase transition, vacuum energy...

This is so f*ing beyond me it's not even funny anymore.


posted by beno at 4:49 PM on May 15, 2006


This is why I love science. Someone comes out with a totally fresh idea, and it's like "yeah cool, that looks interesting, why don't we take a closer look and do more analysis" (yes yes not as a rule but often enough).

Our religious cousins tend to stick their fingers in their ears and say "nanananana I can't hear you!" when presented with a new idea. 'Faith' I believe it is called.


I love science too (and am a scientist myself), but we're JUST as guilty of doing the same thing. Science has been riddled with arguments and personal vendettas between researchers throughout history, who refuse to believe a new idea or theory put forth by others for some strange reason or another.
posted by RockBandit at 4:51 PM on May 15, 2006


I've always had a bias against black holes

Racist.
posted by tkchrist at 5:04 PM on May 15, 2006


Hunh? The article says that the difference between "dark energy stars" and "black holes" is that "dark energy stars" radiate. Um, didn't Hawking say that black holes radiate like 30 years ago? I guess I'll just have to assume that this is something that is not really explainable in a pop-science article.
posted by jlub at 5:09 PM on May 15, 2006


jlub:

IANAS, but Hawkings radiation was subatomic radiation... something about "virtual particles" becoming real as they escaped because some particles seem not to have gotten the speed of light memo. This is suggesting that they radiate infrared.... not so "black".
posted by trinarian at 5:27 PM on May 15, 2006


Very cool post.

trinarian:

My "understanding" (and I'm using the term especially loosely at the moment) is that it's the result of pair creation in which the particle and anti-particle happen to show up on opposite sides of the event horizon, and one escapes. That leaves the question of why the matter escapes more often than the antimatter, since, if it didn't, the black hole would break even over time, instead of evaporating.

Because Heisenberg insists that this affront to proper bookkeeping be straightened out promptly, something has to be annihilated. Because everything inside the black hole is basically guaranteed to be matter, the only solution that is allowed is the one in which the anti-particle falls in and the particle escapes.

Or so I rationalize the whole thing...

And, as a final semi-sequitur, Bob Laughlin is very sharp, and just generally extremely cool. I'm definitely going to be watching how this plays out, assuming my attention span holds out long enough for the research...
posted by MadDog Bob at 5:44 PM on May 15, 2006


does this mean i might see got at a phil & friends show?
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 6:02 PM on May 15, 2006


god, rather
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 6:02 PM on May 15, 2006


...the calculated vacuum energy inside its shell ...

*head implodes*

Oh, and I thought black holes radiated x-rays along their rotational axis.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:20 PM on May 15, 2006


I'll bet those scientists that are trying to create a black hole "in the lab" are finding all this to be a little stressful. Nothing like blowing a bajillion dollars pursuing the wrong thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:27 PM on May 15, 2006


I wonder if it's Russian nesting dolls all the way through the universe. If our entire universe can be configured as a dark energy star, and it contains dark energy stars...

"My God, it's full of stars"!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:34 PM on May 15, 2006


I know a physicist at Livermore. I'll see if I can get some more scoop on this later in the week.

Maybe it's dark energy turtles all the way down!

"Oh, and I thought black holes radiated x-rays along their rotational axis."

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I think those X-rays are from hot matter that either doesn't actually fall in, or while falling emit them? Something like that... it's not stuff coming out of the BH, it's the last gasp of stuff falling in?
posted by zoogleplex at 6:46 PM on May 15, 2006


IANAS, but it seems like one of the major differences between these dark stars and black holes is the lack of complete time distortion ("time standing still") at the event horizon.
posted by nonreflectiveobject at 6:47 PM on May 15, 2006


This is a much better summary than the New Scientist article (do some legwork, folks!) and has links to the papers too.
posted by vacapinta at 7:00 PM on May 15, 2006


OK interesting: a physicist aquaintance of mine commented that the guys behind this theory are possibly a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, so to speak.

Time will tell, I guess.
posted by pivotal at 7:04 PM on May 15, 2006


Great find vacapinta. The closing paragraph sums up nicely:
In my humble opinion, this approach may be good to entertain ourselves and our non-physics friends, but it is a misguided approach to theoretical physics - and I don't mean just fundamental physics right now but any physics that transcends our everyday lives - simply because theoretical physics has become less intuitive and more mathematically abstract, and it had to be so. And it will be so in the future. And it is one of the symptoms of a true conceptual progress. The humans have been trained to comprehend phenomena associated with classical, non-relativistic, low-energy physics - and it should not be unexpected that the intuition fails if we try to understand quantum, relativistic, high-energy, unusual phenomena that go beyond the realm of validity of our naive approximations.
It's important to know when to step back and leave it to the experts, lest one's head asplode.
posted by pivotal at 7:07 PM on May 15, 2006


Well, that settles it then. Now, on to the question of "why?"
posted by Balisong at 7:10 PM on May 15, 2006


Beno, love the reference!
posted by batou_ at 7:19 PM on May 15, 2006


That leaves the question of why the matter escapes more often than the antimatter, since, if it didn't, the black hole would break even over time, instead of evaporating.

Er, no. I'm not an expert on this topic, but I do understand the basics enough to know that that's wrong. What happens is that the virtual particles are created in return for a localized energy deficit, and once they annihilate the localized energy immediately returns to neutral.

Blackholes evaporate because one particle of the pair escapes, so that the energy deficit remains and the blackhole loses energy. Whether the escaped particle is matter or anti-matter is completely immaterial.

Because it is easier for half of a paired particle to escape a smaller black hole with a less intense regional gravitational distortion, smaller black holes evaporate more quickly. This is why creation of microscopic (nanoscopic? femtoscopic?) black holes in particle accelerator experiments is relatively safe - even if they did manage to grab the odd passing neutrino, they still wouldn't last long enough to do any damage.
posted by Ryvar at 7:21 PM on May 15, 2006


OK interesting: a physicist aquaintance of mine commented that the guys behind this theory are possibly a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, so to speak.

Ask him if the same isn't true of most people in the field.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 PM on May 15, 2006


I tried to do the calculation once, and I got that small black holes on the order of large atomic nucleii radiate and disappear within one planck time unit; too short of a time to do anything at all, possibly even theoretically. I believe I read that the threshhold for a black hole that stuck around a while was on the order of a mountain, but the source wasn't very reliable.

Thanks to Ryvar for refreshing my memory on how Hawking radiation works. It's important to remember that antimatter doesn't have anti-mass - it just has regular mass like matter, it just has symmetrically opposite charge. Also, if antimatter eliminated matter inside the event horizon, the black hole would suck the energy in and keep it so it would gain the same amount of mass anyway.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:12 PM on May 15, 2006


From my link above:

George Chapline just gave the most provoking and most bizarre colloquium we have seen at Harvard for years. (I guess that the talk would not be bizarre enough for Quantoken and perhaps not even for Arun, and I apologize if they will be disappointed by the amount of strangeness.) Chapline used to be a T.A. for Feynman's lectures, he was awarded by various awards, but his goal right now is to revolutionize our understanding of the strong gravitational fields...Chapline admitted that every time he was giving a talk, people would think that he had lost his mind.


So, more so than most, I'd gather.
posted by vacapinta at 9:13 PM on May 15, 2006


Love the title ;-)
I went up to Doolittle in the hall today and I said "[DELETED], Doolittle". And he said "[DELETED]." And I said, "Well, [DELETED] [GESTURE DELETED]". And he didn't get it!
posted by Pinback at 10:46 PM on May 15, 2006


Yeah, in retrospect, my assumption that the energy deficit had to be repaid in an annihilation involving the particle that didn't escape was naive in at least a couple ways. Thanks for the clarification.

I'd cite my favorite Mencken quote about simple solutions to complicated problems, but I've never been sure about the wording, and, I swear, it must be the most widely and creatively misquoted line on the web...
posted by MadDog Bob at 11:05 PM on May 15, 2006


"Quantum critical phase transitions are not just possible but have actually been seen in the Laboratory," he said. "

Thought that was interesting.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:09 AM on May 16, 2006


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