New observations propose space-time is wildly fluctuating, rocking back and forth between expansion and contraction at a scale ‘billions and billions’ times lesser than an electron and scientists say the occurrence could help to lastly explain what’s driving the accelerated expansion of the cosmos.
In a recent study, researchers suggest a situation that could resolve the problems among quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of general relativity, by visualizing a space-time that’s ‘not as static as it seems.’
The scientists from the University of British Columbia propose there is a vast density of vacuum energy in the cosmos, as proposed by some – but, in their calculations, fluctuations between expansion and contraction cause it to almost cancel itself out. But, it doesn’t, and in its place gives rise to a tiny net effect that gradually causes the cosmos to expand at a rushing rate, they say.
“Space-time is not as stationary as it seems, it’s continually moving,” said PhD student Qingdi Wang.
“This is a new concept in a field where there has not been a lot of new thoughts that try to address this problem,” said Bill Unruh, a physics and astronomy professor who directed Wang’s work.
Researchers have long recognized the idea that an enigmatic force known as ‘dark energy’ is driving the expansion of the cosmos. It’s believed to make up approximately 67% of the cosmos’s contents, but it’s uncertain what dark energy really is, however many specialists point to vacuum energy as the best contender. But, when the theory of quantum mechanics is applied to vacuum energy, the model forecasts there would be far more vacuum energy than the energy of all the particles in the cosmos.
As an outcome, the gravitational effect – based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity – would possibly cause the cosmos to explode. In the situation suggested by Wang and associates, though, the two theories coexist without vicious results.
If space and time, are continually changing between expansion and contraction, the calculations permit for both the large density of vacuum energy and the gravitational effects of Einstein’s theory and over time, the minor net effect of the nearly-cancelled-out states drives gradually accelerating expansion.
“This occurs at very tiny scales, billions and billions times smaller even than an electron.” said Wang.
“It’s similar to the waves we see on the ocean. They are not affected by the extreme dance of the discrete atoms that make up water on which those waves ride.” said Unruh.