Important decisions in life—like who to marry, what job to take, and what home to buy—are best made in the context of multiple independent confirmations. When every possible confirming source identifies the same choice, you can be confident you have made the correct decision.
The same principle applies in scientific research. Scientists strive to test their hypotheses by developing as many independent experiments and observations as possible of the phenomenon under investigation. Given an adequate number of independent experiments and observations, if every one produces results consistent with a particular hypothesis, then scientists can be reasonably assured the hypothesis is correct.
Last year, the second release of the WMAP survey of the cosmic background radiation (CMB, the radiation left over from the cosmic creation event) provided the scientific community with the best constraints to date on the cosmic creation event and the design of the universe for the benefit of life (see Connections for a lay-level description). Since that time, several other astronomical observational tools have caught up with the precision of the WMAP. Together they help determine exactly what kind of hot big bang model explains the origin and history of the universe and the degree to which certain cosmic features must be exquisitely fine-tuned to make life possible in the universe.
Those tools include the best ground-based measures of the CMB, the “Lyman-α forest” in quasar spectra, galaxy clustering parameters in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and determinations of the expansion history of the universe based on type Ia supernovae. A Canadian and two Slovenian astrophysicists analyzed all the data in the context of calculating which cosmic model best describes the cosmic creation event.1 Meanwhile, a Korean astronomer assembled the best available gravitational lens data to provide yet another independent determination of the cosmic density parameters.2 These five different methods all yielded the same results, namely, that the universe must have originated from a hot big bang creation event where the universe manifests two exquisitely fine-tuned density parameters.
All five techniques demonstrate consistency with the conclusion that about 74 percent of the “stuff” of the universe is dark energy while about 26 percent is matterâ€”a result that builds confidence in the notion of a created universe that exhibits extraordinary design levels to make life possible. Moreover, combining all measurements yielded a more accurate picture of the origin and history of the universe.
The big bang model most consistent with biblical cosmology is the inflationary hot big bang model. This model proposes that the expansion of the universe from the creation event was interrupted for a very brief period by an extremely rapid expansion (more than a trillion trillion times faster than the present expansion rate) when the universe was less than a quadrillionth of a quadrillionth of a second old. Such a period of inflation would explain two life-essential cosmic features: (1) how the universe has remained so extremely uniform and homogeneous; and (2) how tiny quantum fluctuations in the early universe were blown up to astronomical scale lengths and, thus, serve as seeds for birthing star clusters and galaxies.
Something called the “scalar spectral index” allows astronomers to test for inflation. This index would be greater than or equal to 1.0 if the universe never experienced an inflation episode. It would be exactly 0.95 in the case of simple inflation, that is, inflation governed by only one scalar field where gravity waves contribute little to the fluctuations in the CMB. It would lie between 0.95 and 1.0 if gravity waves make a significant contribution. If more than one scalar field operates on cosmic dynamics (at least one such field must be responsible for dark energy), then the scalar spectral index could be either less or more than 0.95.
The WMAP by itself yielded a scalar spectral index value of 0.951 ± 0.017. The WMAP in combination with the other four methods produced a value = 0.965 plusmn; 0.012. This new measure is not only more accurate, but also consistent with an inflationary hot big bang creation model where gravity waves make a significant contribution. Such a model squares well with theoreticians’ best models for black holes and particle physics.
The conclusion that only one scalar field is responsible for dark energy receives slightly stronger confirmation from the combined analysis. If only one scalar field (no quintessence) exists, something called the w parameter will = 1.0. WMAP by itself indicated w = 0.97 ± 0.08, whereas the combined analysis yielded w = 1.04 ± 0.06. This combined analysis strengthens the case for an inflationary hot big bang creation model. Such research also illustrates beautifully the biblical principle that the more in-depth we study and research the book of nature, the more evidence we will find for God and for His exquisite design of the universe for the specific benefit of humanity.
- Uros Seljak, Anze; Slosar, and Patrick McDonald, “Cosmological Parameters from Combining the Lyman-α Forest with CMB, Galaxy Clustering and SN Constraints,” Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics 10 (2006): 014.
- Kyu-Hyun Chae, “Cosmological Parameters from the SDSS DR5 Velocity Dispersion Function of Early-Type Galaxies through Radio-Selected Lens Statistics,” Astrophysical Journal Letters 658 (April 1, 2007): L71-L74.