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The “Expansion” of the Universe Myth(11-22-04)

By Reason McLucus

The biggest mistakes physicists make is when they claim that the different red shifts of light from distant sources indicates that “the universe IS expanding at an increasing rate.” This claim is based on the fact that there is a greater red shift in light coming from the most distant sources than from closer sources. The mistake physicists are making is confusing “relative time”with “absolute time”.

Relative time refers to when we receive information about distant events and when they impact us. For example, if a star explodes and becomes a super nova the actual time when that occurs is not important to earth. What is important is when any radiation from the star actually reaches earth.

However, when looking at the history of the universe and attempting to determine the timing of events it is necessary to look at absolute time. To determine if two events in different areas of the universe are related it is necessary to look at the timing of these events on an absolute scale rather than on when an observer on earth receives information about the events.

An event from American history illustrates relative and absolute time. During the War of 1812 information traveled at far less than the speed of light. News about the famous Battle of New Orleans reached the east coast prior to news about the treaty to end the various wars of the Napoleonic era. As a result Americans believed that the Battle caused an American victory in the war. Actually, the Battle was fought after the treaty had been agreed upon and had no impact on the war or the settlement.

This need to understand time is particularly important when determining the relative motion of objects in the universe at a specific time.

No definite statement of the relative motion of objects in the universe can be made if the data about the motion of some objects is billions of years old. If an object whose light is reaching earth 10 billion years after it left the object changed direction 5 billion years ago and started moving toward earth, observers on earth wouldn’t know about it for another 5 billion years.

The best that can be done is look at the relative motion of each object at the time it left the object. If the apparent red shift indicates relative velocity away from earth(and that is an assumption, not a fact), then we know that at 10 billion years ago objects were moving away at a relative velocity of V(units used are unimportant for this discussion) away from earth. T represents the time since the origin of the universe that the light left this distant object.

To plot the rate of explosion: at time T objects were moving away at velocity V; At T + 1(billion years) light left closer objects that were moving away at V - x; At T + 2 light left still closer objects at V - x - y... From this example we can conclude that if the red shift does indicate movement of objects away from earth, then at T velocity of expansion was V, at T + 1 velocity was V - x, at T + 2 velocity was V - x - y, etc. This information would indicate that any expansion of the universe slowed over time rather than increased.

There may be an alternate explanation for the red shift in light received from very distant objects. The distance between the energy pulses of a light wave might increase over very long time and/or distance. Such a change might also occur at short time and/or distance intervals, but be too slight to be detected. If the rate of change of the red shift is a function of the distance objects were from earth at the time light left or the amount of time it took for light to reach earth, then the resulting equation could indicate a rate of change in wavelength of light over long distances.