Problems with Standard Cosmology

2023 Feb 4

The standard Big Bang cosmological model is the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (ΛCDM) model. It apparently provides a reasonable account of observed properties of the cosmos, including (from Wikipedia):

  • the cosmic microwave background
  • the large-scale structure in the distribution of galaxies
  • the observed abundances of hydrogen, helium, and lithium
  • the accelerating expansion of the universe

I can accept some aspects of the this model, however, I have doubts this model is correct because I see some serious and (what seems to me to be) fatal problems with it. •••

I have been trying to learn the best explanations for these problems in the standard cosmological model. Occasionally I see papers or articles that address some issues with new explanations, but it seems that there is poor explanation for remaining problems in the theory.

This collection is issues that particularly bother me about the model. I may have to correct aspects of what I have written here if I learn more and if some of these problems in the standard theory are actually solved.

Unfortunately the paradigms of accepted scientific models are sometimes taken these days by their proponents as religious-level truth. The accepted model at the beginning of the last century was the Steady State model (which said the universe had an eternal past). When evidences against that model were discovered (such as the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation and the red-shifting of light from distant stars), it became scientifically convincing that our universe had a beginning.

Many fought against the evidence because it did not fit with their world view. They were rejecting it on metaphysical grounds, and not scientifically. Fred Hoyle derisively called it a "Big Bang" theory and the name stuck, although the model stuck around too in spite of him. The hold-outs against the new Big Bang theory in the end simply died.

Today the ΛCDM model is orthodox. However, today people are seeing issues with the model. Some have developed alternative models, but nothing has overtaken the standard model yet.

Creating and destroying energy

A fundamental law of physics is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. However, the ΛCDM model describes doing both these things in expanding space. •••

See more about this in The Expanding Universe

As space expands, all photons passing through it also expand. The energy of photons is proportional to their frequency which is 1 / wavelength. As the wavelengths of photons are stretched by the expansion of space, their color is changed redder. But this also means the energy of these photons is being directly reduced. Therefore, to explain redshift this model includes constant destruction of the energy of individual photons. •••

Photons have length, but they have no diameter, therefore they have no volume.

If photons were gaining size as the universe expanded, then we might say that their energy would be diluting, not being destroyed. However, since they have no volume, photons can't increase in size, therefore, cosmological expansion does destroy the energy in photons.


Photons interact with matter such as electrons. From electron interactions, a diameter can be calculated for a photon, however, this value only has meaning in the context of the interaction. The diameter is not independent of the interaction, so it is not an independent characteristic of the photon. (See Electromagnetic fields, size, and copy of a single photon.)

Another way of exploring this is to calculate the size of hole that will allow a photon to pass. (See The Size of a Photon.) However, since the photon is a wave (as well as described as a particle) this approach is not making a measurement of the photon's diameter. Such a calculated hole size is simply not a sieve like those used to discriminate the sizes of rocks.

Secondarily, we measure the energy density of space to be constant. However if space is expanding, its energy density would constantly be diluting. Therefore the standard model asserts that as space is expanding, new energy is constantly coming into existence to maintain a stable energy density.

These things cannot all be true.

Inflaton field

The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation is a very smooth background wash of microwave energy seen in all directions in the sky. We understand it to be the cooled remnant radiation from the initial energy of the Big Bang.

The CMB is very distant at the edges of the observable universe, but that poses a problem. If there is a radiant heater in a room in some house, the heat equalizes around the room because the heat travels quickly to all parts of it. However, the universe is so big that the heat could not travel in a timely way to equalize to the smoothness that we observe.

The accepted solution is that there was a fast inflationary period in the very early moments of the Big Bang. When the universe was initially small, the energy was evenly smooth because all the energy could travel the short distances needed to equalize. Then, a so-called "inflaton" field caused an exceptionally fast inflation in size which immediately took that smoothness out to the edge of the universe.

The problem is that the only evidence for an inflaton field is that we live in a universe which now has a large size and also it has a very smooth background energy. However, physics knows nothing about inflaton fields. If they once existed, they apparently do not exist any more. This is a problem in the scientific world of hard physics because such an inflaton field is unfalsifiable and not testable. Falsifiability is not always required in science, but without it the science certainly may be questionable. Testability is a key element of the hard sciences.

An inflaton like this field would also require an exceptionally huge source of energy to cause the necessary effect. All energy must have a source because energy can neither be created nor destroyed. However, there is no known or plausible source for this energy needed by the inflaton field in our universe. By all science we know therefore, this inflaton field was not naturalistic. •••

Maybe the inflaton field came from the multiverse generator?

However, see The Multiverse God

Cosmic Microwave Background

The cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) is sometimes cited as supporting evidence for the expanding universe. (The CMB is a smooth wash of energy that we see in all directions from us.)

  • The CMB is consistent with a universe that was initially expanded very quickly.
    • This universe could still be expanding.
    • This universe could have been previously expanded to a stable size.
  • The CMB is inconsistent with a universe that had been expanding at a steady rate from the beginning until now (because this would not enable it to remain smooth).

Because of the CMB, we know the universe must have been expanded quickly at the beginning. Standard cosmology, therefore, has a so-called inflation period at the beginning to explain the CMB. (A hypothetical “inflaton” field is suggested as causing the inflation.)

The CMB is clear evidence that the universe had previously expanded (meaning the universe had a beginning), but says nothing about if expansion continues. It is consistent with the ΛCDM model but is not exclusive evidence for it.

Expanding universe

The standard model says that the universe is expanding, and the most distant objects are expanding away from us at the greatest rate. However, I find a collection of problems about this with the model, and it is not clear to me that the universe is expanding. See The Expanding Universe

Gravity as prime mover

The standard model of cosmology attributes all universe-forming mechanisms to gravity. However, the gravity as prime mover model may need to be replaced because it fails to account for several observations of the universe.

Dark matter

The most important failure of gravitational theory is about stars that orbit the centers of galaxies. The stars should orbit at progressively slower (angular) rates the farther they are from the center (because gravitation attraction falls off as the square of the distance). We do see expected rates like this in our solar system where Mercury's rate of rotation is faster than earth's (at 0.24 earth years) and Pluto's is slower (at 252 earth years).

However, observations show the orbital rates of galaxy outer stars are not slowed as expected. In fact the error is substantial because the angular rates are nearly constant toward the edge of a galaxy disk. The gravity of the observed mass of the stars in the galaxies does not correlate with this effect.

Because of this, a huge amount of dark matter has been invented to add enough gravity to match observations. It ends up outweighing the matter we can see by about 6 times. This stuff is said to affect our universe only by gravitating. Unfortunately this also means that dark matter can’t be directly detected. In spite of this challenge, many sophisticated experiments have been created to try to observe the stuff. All have completely failed.

Positing this unobservable dark matter enables the model to become pretty accurate, although it still has issues. However, it's also possible there actually isn’t any dark matter to be observed. Its existence is inferred because of what we observe in the context of the ΛCDM model. In the context of some other models there is no need to infer it. •••

One alternative theory called MOND Modified Newtonian Dynamics, or Milgromian dynamics accounts for this without the hidden dark matter. “Mond's main postulate is that when gravity becomes very weak, as occurs at the edge of galaxies, it starts behaving differently from Newtonian physics.”

The MOND model not only matches the observations without any dark matter, but also is able to predict the orbital speeds of the stars with more precision than the standard model. However, MOND too has a problem because there is no physical mechanism for it.

(The standard model invents dark matter as a physical mechanism to account for the galaxy orbital issues, but conveniently it invents it as an unobservable - except for the gravitational observable that needs explaining).

Star formation

Gravity is used to explain the formation of stars. Immediately after the Big Bang, the atoms of the universe were mostly hydrogen and helium. Supposedly after the inflaton field spread them out, the atoms began to clump together under their mutual gravitation. Eventually they condensed down to a density which created the stars.

However, presently on earth we are facing a helium crisis because helium which escapes to the atmosphere does not stay here. The substantial gravity from the mass of earth is insufficient to retain it, and all the (valuable) helium escapes to space. If the gravity of earth (which is very much greater than the mutual gravity created by a cloud of helium) is still unable to clump helium to itself, then helium (and hydrogen) certainly would not clump on their own in a much weaker gravity.

Even if dark matter increased the local gravity, I cannot see how it would be sufficient. By the theory, there already is dark matter clumped in the area of earth and yet it still is failing to keep helium at earth. Therefore, I cannot see that there is any functioning mechanism for stars to form in the gravity model.

And the problem is worse: In order for the stars to light up in nuclear fusion, gravity had to compress the gases. (As a gas is compressed, its temperature is immediately increased.) With enough compression the gases would heat up to the temperatures needed to light up the fusion reactions. However, it takes substantial work to compress gases. Cold gases are not so difficult to compress, however, star formation is compression of hot gases.

The problem is still worse: Once a star lights up with nuclear fusion, the temperatures of the gases are then vastly increased. The nuclear reaction does not increase the gravity of the star, but it greatly increases the expansion pressure of the gases due to heat. If a star ever could condense and start fusion under gravity, it should immediately expand back out like a bomb, disperse its gases and disappear.

Gravity is a weak force, and is completely unable to bring and hold hot gases tightly together. I cannot see how the only supposed mechanism for star formation in the standard model is viable.

Earth's water

We live on an earth that has vast quantities of water, but this is a problem to explain with the standard gravity-driven accretion model.

It appears that substantial water has existed on the earth from original gravitational accretion. (Mineral evidence from zircons suggests liquid water has been on earth almost from the beginning.) However, if the earth formed initially as hot & molten (according to the standard model), then there would have been no liquid water - all water would have been vapor. •••

Note that the earth’s center is still hot enough to to drive water out of rock compounds and it would have been much hotter at a molten beginning, so even below-surface water should have been vapor.

Standard theory then suggests that it took about a billion years from earth's proto-formation until its magnetic field was established. In this interval the earth would have been cooling from its early all-molten state. However, during that time all of our water should have been lost. For about a billion years, the earth would have been unprotected from the solar wind, which would have been scouring all gasses away from the earth, including the vaporized water. •••

A study suggested that the moon may have contributed a magnetic field to the earth-moon pair to provide protection to a young earth. Note that today the moon has no magnetic field of its own.

This paper is based on measurements of magnetized moon rocks. The moon having a magnetic field and the timing of its existence is only a suggestion based on some modeling. And note the actual evidence is only that moon rocks formed in the presence of a magnetic field; it is not that the moon had a magnetic field when the earth needed protection.

Much of the water now on the earth exists bound up as hydrated minerals, but the explanation for that is also missing. •••

Note that water is generally expelled from minerals with high temperature and pressure - like what would have existed in the accreting earth.

In the standard model the earth would eventually cool, but there would be no opportunity for the minerals to bind with water. This is because they would still be under extreme pressure below the surface where water had already been expelled.

It is suggested that half of the water in our oceans came from early bombardment of water-rich asteroids. However asteroids don’t seem to have a composition that supports this idea. (It was thought that comets were dirty balls of ice, however, the comets we have been able to study are made of rock. The asteroids are also mostly rock.)

So, the standard gravity model predicts the loss of earth's water - not its retention.

Other failures to explain

There are features of our universe for which the ΛCDM model does not explain:

Aligned galaxies

Most galaxies have a plane of orbital rotation, therefore, as in spiral galaxies, they have an axis of rotation. We have now observed that the axes of galaxies are connected, distributed and aligned along rotating filaments. The ΛCDM model fails to explain this.

Temperature of sun's corona

The sun's corona has temperatures which dramatically increase after the solar particles leave the sun. The standard models would predict that it would be cooler. (Expanding gases and plasmas immediately cool.)

And many more

Wikipedia has a list of problems in physics, which includes issues in cosmology. This whole list is given optimistically as simply "unsolved problems" and does not therefore fault any current scientific models. Some of the issues I already listed are included there, but also many more.

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder has listed a few more:


Good scientific models usually also show us truth about what is modeled. These issues I see with the current Big Bang ΛCDM cosmological model lead me to question whether it is the right model and question its truth. The failures of the model on fundamental things really bothers me.

Questioning the dominant scientific models unfortunately is not without risk. There was hard fighting against the Big Bang and against its proponents by those invested in the Steady State model. Today skeptics against majority models are seen as kooky or worse. Why should those who follow science have this ad hominem view when the goal of science is not attacks on people, but is better scientific models?

We should be willing to look at alternative models and be willing to change our model when we find it is failing us. That is the way of science!