Sunday, 27 May 2018

The Dark Energy of Luke Barnes


Maybe I’m being a bit unfair with the title since the articles in question are attributed to more than just Luke, there are eight other authors:  Jaime Salcido, Richard Bower, Geraint Lewis, Pascal Elahi, Tom Theuns, Matthieu Schaller, Robert Crain and Joop Schaye.  However, as far as I know, the others aren’t Templeton Research Fellows – one of the articles has LAB (Luke A Barnes) but only LAB tainted with an association with Templeton.  And I note that there is a statement distancing that paper from Templeton (“The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation”.)  Oddly enough, the other article “The impact of dark energy on galaxy formation. What does the future of our Universe hold?”, despite having the same authors (admittedly in a different order), does not acknowledge that Luke is supported by Templeton.  Perhaps because Luke was not lead and Jaime Salcido didn’t want to have anything to do with Templeton if he could help it?

Anyways, I’m pondering not so much the paper as the raft of articles that are based on the papers, helpfully listed by Luke at Letters to Nature.  The spin of these articles varies somewhat, at least going by their headlines, from “Life in the multiverse could be commonplace” to “Bad information for the multiverse: it is nonetheless not going (sic)”.  Either life is teeming in the multiverse, or there’s no multiverse.

Interestingly, if you look at an example of the former – for example A multiverse may be hospitable to life:study – you will see that the scientist quoted is Jaime Salcido.  But if you take a look at an example of the former – for example Bad news for the multiverse: it's still not likely – the featured scientist is Luke Barnes.  There’s also a third spin, namely that there needs to be a “new law” for dark energy, which means that the article headline writer chose to focus on the words of Richard Bower – for example New Research Questions The Multiverse Theory, Calls For A New Law Of Dark Energy.

It looks very much like Barnes and Salcido have looked at the same data and Barnes has opted to interpret it as negating the multiverse (more on that in a moment) and Salcido has interpreted it as saying that life is probable no matter which universe in the multiverse you are in.  This would mean that we’re not that special and not even our universe is that special, as even one of the more Barnes-centric articles put it “That’s bad news for the multiverse, because it means there’s nothing particularly special about our universe - and no need for a multiverse to explain our existence.”  I’m pretty sure that Barnes wouldn’t be happy with that comment.
Barnes, you see, wants fine tuning, because that supports his god and as I have argued elsewhere, he’s a closeted apologist.  If we don’t need a multiverse to explain our existence, because our universe isn’t particularly special, then we don’t need Barnes’ god either.  If there’s evidence against a multiverse, that’s not going to bother real scientists because real scientists aren’t pushing an agenda.  Not that Barnes et al have come up with evidence against a multiverse, all they have is an argument that you don’t need to call on a multiverse to explain the amount of dark energy we have – as far as the star formation rate goes.  That’s alright, we don’t even know for certain that there is dark energy (see sceptical interpretations of dark energy related measurements – such as this).

Some of the articles present an argument that, if it comes from Barnes and/or Bower and isn’t merely a misinterpretation on the journalist’s part, is worryingly deceptive.  There is a suggestion, for example at Inquisitr, that the multiverse theory is there to explain (in part) the value of dark energy.  This is a ludicrous suggestion given that the multiverse has been suggested since as far back as 1952 and the term “dark energy” was only coined in 1998.  Additionally, it is argued that the multiverse simply falls out of string theory to the extent that if string theory is true then, necessarily, there is a multiverse.  String theory dates back to the 1940s, so again predating dark energy.  Basically, multiverse theory needs a fine-tuned value of dark energy to about the same extent as the value of dark energy needs a multiverse theory – namely, not at all.