In the last post, I identified correspondences between superfluid motion and the phenomenon that are described by the equations of quantum mechanics and special relativity. The discussion leads to the assumption that light is a disturbance in a cold – and therefore highly ordered (“crystal-like”) – sea of dark energy.
The illustration in that post showed a perfect lattice, but given what we know about the universe, we’d expect the dark energy lattice to be a little less regular. For example, we know from the Michelson-Morley experiment that dark energy is entrained with massive objects, which tend to be round. There’s an old adage about “pounding a round peg into a square hole” (or was it the other way around) that fits here: the distortion created by the spherical Earth requires accommodation from the rectangular lattice, which will introduce defects.
And then we have the early history of the universe: unless the universe was unfolded from a single location, dark energy will organize itself locally, just as we see in crystals formed in solution. Here’s a picture of insulin crystals:
Now obviously as these crystals grow to fill in the volume, there’s going to be some places where they don’t fit together nicely, which is going to leave defects in the final mass. So it would happen with the dark energy lattice.
What would we expect to happen when light encounters such a defect? Well, a reasonable analogy is what happens when a water wave encounters a rock. While most of the wave will continue around the rock, ripples will be cast off all around.
Do we see evidence of this in our study of the universe? Well, yes we do. First of all is the cosmic microwave background. But there’s more than than. Recent studies reveal that there is too much light coming from the empty space between galaxies (see Galaxies Aren’t Bright Enough). Astronomers originally assumed that the light had to come from early sources (back around the “Big Bang”, which I think is hokum), but that early light should should be “stretched”, and therefore redder than it is. So the light must be coming from modern sources. Without any other proof, astronomers suppose that there must be many stars between galaxies.
In the lattice model, the cosmic microwave background and extra light between galaxies actually go together: if light is scattered by dark energy, it will lose a little bit of its energy (perhaps into microwaves) and change its direction. Therefore, some of the light coming from a distant galaxy will appear to have originated from empty space, and space will seem to be filled with microwaves.
Finally, the loss of energy from scattering in the lattice explains why light emitted from distant galaxies appears redder than light from nearer galaxies. In current theory, this is explained as due to the relativistic Doppler effect (similar to what we experience when a car passes us with its horn blaring, the pitch drops after the car passes us). But with the discovery of Dark Energy, other mechanisms may exist to explain this effect.
I will admit that the last two paragraphs are a “have you cake and eat it too” situation. If light from distant galaxies loses energy to scattering, it would be diffused as it passes, which would make the galaxies indistinct. But remember that the volume around galaxies is expected to have many more defects in the lattice than the intergalactic medium, which would cause stronger scattering in their vicinity. And when defects exist, radiation may also be emitted when the lattice reorganizes itself to close the defect. The point is that there is a whole set of new phenomena to consider when explaining astrophysical observations.
All this without needing to suppose a Big Bang at all.