Concentric Circles in WMAP

Penrose and Gurzadyan have an intriguing new paper that claims there are low variance structures in WMAP in the form of concentric circles. They point to this as evidence of a pre-big-bang cosmology such as the one described in Penrose’s new book.

The ides is that these features come from events just prior to the start of the big-bang e.g. where a black hole is in its final throes of decay.

I am not totally convinced by this explanation but if the low variance circles are real and statistically significant then they certainly must be a signal of something. The level of significance is important of course. You may remember that everything up to and including the initials of Stephen Hawking have been found in the microwave background already.

58 Responses to Concentric Circles in WMAP

  1. Bill K says:

    Apparently they have found the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

  2. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    The argument for this is in some sense interesting, but I question whether it is for the reasons the authors claim. The conformal rescaling of the metric g_{ab} –> Ω^2g_{ab} rescales the Weyl curvature Ψ_{ABCD} – -> ΩΨ_{ABCD} if there is a 4-dim spacetime. In dimensions lower than 4 there is no Weyl curvature, so to push the Weyl curvature across the CCC I they seem to be saying there is a continuous flow of geometry. Their argument assumes that the CCC infinity I the spatial surface is smooth or flat. So the gravitational degrees of freedom on the other side of the CCC I are not carried over to our side. So the wave equation nabla^A_{A’}Ψ_{ABCD} = 0 across this region I is such that the rescaling conformal parameter appears to take up those degrees of freedom as other forms. This is interesting to think about with respect to the problem of degrees of freedom in quantum gravity. In particular with regards to how it is that loop variable quantum gravity imposes a huge number of independent degrees of freedom on quantum or noncommutative spacetime, when this in fact appears to be a huge over counting. However, what troubles me with respect to the argument about there being some propagation across the CCC I is this still presumes some continuous spatial geometry across the CCC I. However, if we were to assume that nabla^A_{A’}Ψ_{ABCD} = 0 tells us how spatial geometry propagates the vanishing of gravitational degrees of freedom at the CCC I from our perspective would seem to imply there simply is no spacetime geometry at all which we could extend beyond I.

    So these data might indeed be telling us something, but I wonder if it is what they claim with regards to “pre-big bang” events, or whether this might have something to do with the nature of gravitational degrees of freedom at the big bang.

  3. Bornerdogge says:

    Is there a chance the new Planck measurements will help setting the question?

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      Yes, good point. If there are really circles there they may be more clear with the higher resolution of the Planck data. If the statistical significance increased enough it would be convincing. If it stayed the same the question would remain unresolved.

  4. Luboš Motl says:

    Holy crap, Penrose failing in deducing the proper manifestations of diagrams that happen to be called Penrose diagrams – that’s cosmology of 2010, too.

  5. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    The whole thing is contradictory it seems. How can degrees of freedom about a pre-big bang physics be carried on Weyl curvature extended beyond the I-infinity? These data may exist, and as Bornerdogge Planck might give fine tuned data on these variances. I am not convinced of this as some evidence of pre big bang physics.

  6. Ulla says:

    Why must these rings be pre-BB. Can’t they be from the real BB? After all explosions creates these rings?

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      I think if they are post big bang they have to be something before or during inflation so that they can be expanded to such a size. Such events would be remarkable enough. The idea of the pre-big bang explanation is that it does not need inflation.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      The comment from Julian Barbour is interesting. However, the suggestion that Penrose’s theory would fail because electrons are stable is wrong. Protons will decay leaving positrons that will annihilate the electrons.

  7. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    Calling this pre-big bang depends in a funny way on what you mean by big bang. If you define the big bang as a thermal process, then this refers to post inflationary period. There clearly was physics then, though I am not sure it involves colliding black holes. The inflationary period is a phase where the inflaton, a field φ(a, t) with a = scale factor, has a potential V = V(φ) that is huge ~ s/L_p^4 for s = 10^{-10} to 10^{-14}. The variability of this comes from the Lagrangian density

    L = ½|∂ψ/∂t|^2 – ½|∂ψ/∂a|^2 – V(ψ),

    And where the field is replaced with the density ψ = φ/4πa^3. So we make the constancy assumption that there is no dependency with a and then the time derivative with time

    L = ½|∂ψ/∂t|^2 – V(ψ).

    The Euler-Lagrange equation will result in a dissipative term ~ ψ(a’/a), for a’ = da/dt. The Hubble parameter H = a’/a times the field that is like “friction,” so the inflaton field slows down and its energy is dissipated. There is then some sort of phase transition. The sloping energy reaches some critical point where the potential cliffs off into a well which defines the small vacuum energy that is the cosmological constant of the observable universe. This is bubble nucleation similar to S. Coleman’s 1980’s theory, and there may be a whole gaggle of these bubbles in the R^3 space of the universe. Linde has worked on these with his idea of pocket universes. Which ever is the case there appears to be some sort of phase structure here with the energy E ~ nkT/2, where the decline in the field energy reaches something similar to a phase transition from gas to solid or a transition to ferro-magnetism etc, and this results in a bubble of nucleation and the conversion of a lot of high energy vacuum energy into elementary particles in a thermal distribution. This happened with about a 60-efold expansion and this thermalization might be compared to a latent heat of fusion.

    Now having set that up, we consider this bubble nucleation or phase transition as the big bang. During the inflationary period prior to this anisotropies in the spatial manifold were exponentially stretched out. So the formation of black holes was highly unlikely. If we time reverse the situation and think of the universe as exponentially constricting at t – -> 0 then the formation of clumps might form black holes. However, these black holes are time reversed — the time reversal of white holes. So if Gurzadyan and Penrose are right in interpreting this data as some physics prior to the thermalization period, then it might be some foot print of an early while hole which exploded or dissolved during the inflationary period, and where we are seeing maybe the stretched out inflationary signature of a white hole. This is actually a reasonable sort of calculation to work up IMO.

    I doubt this has anything to do with a bounce. The spatial manifold R^3 of the universe will if we push it back to near the Planck time folds up into a sphere S^3 or some sort of quantum blob. I am being a bit imprecise here, on purpose to some extent, where this blob emerged by quantum gravity physics: quantum tunneling from the vacuum, D-brane collisions and/or … . For one thing I suspect that the number independent of degrees of freedom is very small, maybe zero, so there is little or no information imprinted on the universe we observe which is some causal signature of anything prior to this quantum gravity event.

  8. Bill K says:

    Of course Roger would disagree with all of this, wouldn’t he.

    I don’t know enough about it to argue either for or against, but my understanding is that inflation is “only a theory,” and despite having been around so long, there yet is no evidence to support it, except it’s a good way of getting the uniform temperature of the CMB.

    Roger’s CCC is an alternative route to that result, but wait – here’s what you also get! – an explanation for the low entropy of the initial state. Namely in the previous aeon it all got swallowed by black holes, which then evaporated.

    You mentioned bounces and quantum blobs. In CCC there is neither – the transition from one aeon to the next is smooth and classical, since the Weyl tensor goes to zero.

    Well what’s really earth-shattering about all this, if true, is the discovery of ring patterns in the CMB. I hope they would not make such a claim without doing a really careful analysis!

  9. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    I think the problem though is that if the Weyl curvature is zero across the boundary it is not clear to me whether it communicates informations between these aeons. Also remember that Penrose thinks that black holes really destroy information, which is not likely the case. My point is that maybe these circles, if they turn out to be real, might turn out to be due to something which can be understood in the inflationary setting. Signatures in the CMB which are non-Gaussian or that have kurtosis have been claimed already, but so far they don’t seem to have been found real.

    • Ulla says:

      I know very little about black holes, but to destroy information and to get a low entropy is not at all the same thing. A low entropy is a maximum negentropy and a very ordened state, like a diamond.

      BTW. Life is about that ordened state, so, is life a black hole then? 🙂 No. life is a balancing act between the two states of order. Too stiff, or too liquid are both bad 🙂

    • Bill K says:

      There’s not really anything unusual about this condition. From both sides, you want the Weyl curvature Ψ to be zero.

      In a spacetime which is asymptotically flat but radiating, the Weyl tensor goes as 1/r as you approach future null infinity (“scri-plus”). And here 1/r is the conformal factor Ω, so Ψ goes to zero while Ω-1 Ψ stays finite.

      Due to the cosmological constant Λ > 0, Penrose’s aeons are asymptotically de Sitter. We still have Ψ zero and Ω-1 Ψ finite, the only difference being scri-plus is now a spacelike surface.

      From the other side, the condition is not so obvious, but Penrose demands Ψ = 0 to get low entropy, in what he calls WCH, the Weyl Curvature Hypothesis. It seems like a paradox that the Big Bang can contain incredibly hot black body radiation and yet have low entropy. The answer is, some of the available modes are not excited, namely
      the gravitational modes, and these outweigh the matter modes. The Big Bang is low entropy because it is also incredibly uniform. This changes later, as the matter clumps and entropy increases. But initially no clumping, hence no gravitational modes. In other words, Ψ = 0.

      (Psst, even though Ψ = 0 on the interface, the normal derivative of Ψ is not. That’s how the information is transmitted!)

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      The problem is the wave equation is nabla^AΨ_{ABCD} = 0, and at the same time Ψ_{ABCD} = 0. The derivative is normal to the plane of constant Weyl curvature. So it is a bit odd. The Weyl curvature in the inflationary model would be large near the Planck or string time, but is stretched out and becomes small, much as with the Ω at 1/r becomes small as r – > scri+. That is small, but not zero.

  10. I do not really understood how the circles could follow from Penrose’s theory. Probably so because I do not understand Penrose’s theory. Ulla asked about possibility that they could have Big-Bang. One can also ask whether they could have post Big-Bang origin.

    If one allows more general 1-D curves as curves of coherence one can perhaps consider something like this.

    a) These curves should correspond to intersections of 2-D surfaces at which the inhomogenities of mass density causing the temperature fluctuations tend to be concentrated. There would be enhanced ed coherence along these surfaces if mass density at these surfaces is reasonably constant.

    b) The intersections of these 2-D surfaces with the sphere from which the radiation comes from for a given red-shift would define 1-D circles of exceptional coherence. Concentric circles of coherence look something too specific.

    c) More concretely, what comes in mind at the level of experimental facts are the large voids of scale 10^8 light years having galaxies at their boundaries. If one believes in fractal universe these kind of honeycomb like structures should appear in a hierarchy of discrete length scales..

    One can continue even further to the murky depths of TGD.

    a) Suppose that one believes that the flatness of 3-space is not due to inflation but due to a period of quantum criticality (dark matter energy as phases with gigantic value of Planck constant). Criticality is characterized by long range fluctuations and fractality. Therefore one indeed expects
    the fractal honeycomb manifesting itself as hierarchy of coherence circles in WMAP.

    b) Diving still deeper and taking seriously p-adic length scale hypothesis and zero energy ontology and causal diamonds, one would end up with the possibility that the fractal honeycomb with preferred size scales of cells coming as half octaves or powers of two or subset of them. This fractal structure would expand in various scales by discrete jumps involving perhaps the increase of gravitational hbar as size of CD is scaled up by two.

    c) We are now very deep -near to bottom- and there is still some oxygen left which we can waste to our last speculations. Could it be that these astro quantum jumps have occurred even at the planetary level: could large hbar quantum version Expanding Earth Theory make sense;-). Now we have no oxygen anymore. I am sorry. Maybe I should have warned;-).

  11. Luboš Motl says:

    My comments about that:

    Penrose’s cosmology is either equivalent to inflation or undefined gibberish.

    The circles may arise from negative-pressure matter such as cosmic strings or domain walls exploding during inflation.

    • Bill K says:


      Penrose’s CCC has many problems. Nevertheless, it does have a leg up on inflation. It made a prediction that has apparently been verified.

      Inflation has been around for at least 30 years. Noting that the most impressive time to predict something is before it has been observed rather than after, if the concentric circles follow as an easy consequence of inflationary theory, why have they not been mentioned before now?

      • Luboš Motl says:

        Dear Bill, could you please be more specific about the “here a miracle occurs” point in your comment – namely the sentence that “it made a prediction that has been verified”? I must have missed it.

        In recent years, this format of a would-be argument was used almost exclusively by pseudoscientific hacks. They never have any theory, predictions, calculations, or equations, but they use this unsupported ideology about verifications to impress cheap listeners, the kind of ignorant *and* stupid people who read books of the Smolin type.

        Concerning your second paragraph about inflation, whether an explanation of an effect is found before or after the effect is observed makes absolutely no difference when it comes to the validity of the scientific theory – it’s a purely historical coincidence, a part of social science.

        Science is about the explanation of phenomena – both phenomena that were observed in the past as well as those that will be observed in the future. It’s just not true that the goal of science is to deny that anything has been observed in the past, and only ambitiously talk about observations in the future.


      • Ulla says:

        I thought no pseudoscientists would be in wikipedia.

        The anthropic principle may be questionable, and so also why a blog like the Reference Frame would be in the reference list. Peculiar.
        On the opposite the consciousness has to be part of the cosmology. Without emphasis on humans. Smolin has no other option since he is atheist.

        But that do not make Smolin himself questionable. You can as well question many other things or theories in physics without making them pseudoscientific.

    • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

      Penrose’s CCC involves a conformal evolution of spacetime. The de Sitter spacetime of inflation is basically time dependent conformal transformation. For g_{ab} – -> Ω^2g_{ab} the transformation in the line element is ds^2 = Ω^2(du^2 – sum_idx_i^2). Now just define dt = Ωdu, and Ω = exp(sqrt{λ/3}t), and you have de Sitter evolution. So this is the inflationary period which is generically the same as any conformal region of evolution, frankly with CCC as well. So all of this pre big bang stuff amounts to some sort of anisotropy, maybe the white hole idea I suggested or some other phenomenology, in the early universe which got stretched out by inflation. This cosmic variance has then maybe left a finger print on the CMB, which is being reported here.

      • Luboš Motl says:

        Dear Lawrence, great but to formulate any kind of realistic physics laws we know, the scaling of the metric is important – not just its conformal structure. Proper distances may actually be measured – e.g. by the size of the atoms, their frequencies, or the Planck area that stores one bit of information anywhere in a theory of quantum gravity.

        Obviously, the only natural way to put the scaling to the metric that allows one to make the causal diagram “taller” (before the Big Bang) while it avoids vanishing distances is to have Omega scale like exp(t/t0) where “t” is the coordinate in the causal diagram in this case. With this behavior, the space inside is a patch of de Sitter space and inflation is the name of the theory that describes this exponential expansion. The expansion itself is driven by a positive cosmological constant, and to connect this fast expansion to the current very-slow expansion, one needs the effective cosmological constant to eventually drop, i.e. to derive it from a potential of a scalar field. The scalar field has to exist and it’s called the inflaton.

        Penrose claims that he has an alternative to inflation except that he hasn’t shown what it is supposed to be so far. He has only described the causal structure of an inflating Universe.

      • Philip Gibbs says:

        The key part of Penrose’s theory is that once only gravitons and photons are left in the universe there is no longer anything to set the scale, so the large universe become equivalent to the small beginning of the big bang.

        Like Motl I don’t really accept this. Even if there are no on-shell particles left there are virtual ones and the vacuum has a scale. I think you would need a very odd kind of physics for the scale of the universe to disappear. Of course Penrose seems happy to accept this odd physics.

      • Ulla says:


        Can you explain this to me a little better, without ad hocs, please.

        “The expansion itself is driven by a positive cosmological constant, and to connect this fast expansion to the current very-slow expansion, one needs the effective cosmological constant to eventually drop, i.e. to derive it from a potential of a scalar field.”

        How happen the drop of the effective cosmological constant?

      • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

        The inflaton potential is a ski slope which at the end of 60 efolds drops into a quadratic potential. That is the reheating phase, which lead to the much smaller Λ we observe now. This is a generic picture which on the surface seems to reflect the world we observe. There is of course lots of stuff we probably ignore. There may be signatures of braney physics imprinted on the CMB from the earliest moments (the high slope at the start of the ski jump potential), or as I suggested from white holes, or maybe other physics we are not cognizant of now. The inflaton potential is clearly phenomenological and the inflationary dissipation term ψ(a’/a) a’ = da/dt in the dynamical equation may be pointing to some sort of phase structure. This phase structure might be what induces the quadratic cliff off of the inflaton potential. So clearly the inflationary picture has a lot of wiggle room where we fit things by hand to make it work. However, this does not suggest there is a need for the CCC.

        The idea of there being a phase in the distant universe where there is no scale, say at heat death or where there are only photons and gravitons, is something which occurred to me a long time ago. In effect such a universe suggests there is no heat source available to run a clock. However, in 10^{100} years there will be the cosmological constant as a vacuum energy source. The horizon at r = sqrt{3/Λ} will emit Hawking-Gibbon radiation, similar to the Hawking radiation of black holes. So the vacuum energy of the universe may decay, and decay according to this scale. So there may not be the end of time until the vacuum has declined to zero, or the horizon has receded off “to infinity.” This will take an infinite time, and so the matter of there being an end to time is an ∞ – ∞ sort of issue, which is a sort of issue best avoided.

    • Bill K says:

      Thanks Lubos,

      Ok, next question. Now that concentric rings in the CMB have apparently been seen, you say they are a logical consequence of inflation, resulting from cosmic strings, domain walls, and so on. I’m still surprised that no one had mentioned this before, but never mind.

      Here’s the question: often it happens that an experimental result like this, one that originally seemed quite solid, upon better analysis turns out to have been just a statistical fluke, and is withdrawn. If Gurzadyan’s observation is withdrawn, what will you say? Will you also withdraw the “prediction”? Or will you continue to claim that inflation predicts circular patterns even if Gurzadyan did not see them.

      • Luboš Motl says:

        Dear Bill, right now, I personally think that these rings are just another way to see the WMAP acoustic peaks

        Note that the spectrum favors a positive correlation of places in the skies separated by 1° over, for example, 2° or 0.5°.

        All the data I can access indicates that Penrose et al. don’t understand this basic stuff, so they couldn’t eliminate the possibility that the excess of concentric circles is purely due to the acoustic peaks.

        The acoustic peaks do need some inflationary (or equivalent) era to be fully explained although they do materialize in the conventional Big Bang era.

      • Bill K says:

        “often it happens that an experimental result like this, one that originally seemed quite solid, upon better analysis turns out to have been just a statistical fluke, and is withdrawn. If Gurzadyan’s observation is withdrawn, what will you say? Will you also withdraw the “prediction”? Or will you continue to claim that inflation predicts circular patterns even if Gurzadyan did not see them.”

        Ok, that’s basically what has happened. Several papers (for example have concluded that Gurzadyan’s low-variance circles are just statistical fluctuations. At this point, Penrose’s pre-Big Bang cosmology lacks any observational support.

        And touché likewise for after-the-fact explanations in terms of cosmic strings, domain walls and acoustic peaks.

  12. I have mixed feeling about the depth of this initial data and our interpretations of it from a philosophic viewpoint.

    For one thing I feel Penrose is very solid in his cosmology and research and no one can call themselves a theoretical physicist who has not at least tried to understand his unique views. This was a brave speculation and one that if I make an analogy does not see the universe as a simple atom, inflating or cyclic or otherwise- but more like an atom with shells.

    On the other hand we can take say a map of Mars and I believe because of the pocks and craters imagine on even a global scale that we see faces there. Try it.

    But would we say the gods spoke the world into existence as gibberish? That something creative like black holes or beginning states of entropy have a definite place of origin looking back or that itself an illusion of perspective- circular because we look from the outside? Or is it that in a more general universe the laws of physics reach further than we have imagined, emanations averaged over the multiverse that does not make us special in all of seen creation on this planet as some now think?

    Whatever the underlying truths, Penrose has offered us another falsifiable candidate along with inflation and the brane cycling model for cosmology. Perhaps every center beyond singularity is such a model and it goes far with our reasoning power beyond simple inflation or big bang ex nihilo debate in metaphysics. There are no black holes in one sense only black planes as such models argue over what is linear and what is circular as we work our equations around the same insights.

    The PeSla

  13. Still few comments about claimed coherence circles but from different perspective.

    To my opinion the belief that inflation is the only possibility is one of the many myths of the theoretical physics of last decades. In TGD framework quantum criticality predicts flat 3-space and therefore serves an alternative to inflation predicting no exponential expansion. The classical correlate is critical cosmology having finite duration which is the only free parameter by imbeddability so that the approach is extremely predictive and there is no need to introduce inflatons, curvatons, etc.. whose existence is as questionable as GUT approach behind them. Its metric is very near to that of flat Minkowski space up to the last moments when it becomes singular (g_aa becomes zero as a = constant surface transforms from time-like to light-like). The analog of pressure is negative and reflects a constraint force due to the imbedding to M^4xCP_2.

    Exact Poincare symmetry of the theory is also essential for solving the basic problems of the standard cosmology and Robertson-Walker metrics indeed correspond to Lorentz invariant space-time surfaces (for critical period one has actually SO(4) symmetry). Also inflationary period would involve accelerating expansion and inflationary period and accelerating expansion would represent instances of one and same phenomenon. Fractal long range correlations are basic signature of criticality and one con consider that the honeycomb like structure appearing in 10^8 ly scale has a fractal generalization. The intersections of honeycomb cells with the redshift = constant 2-surfaces would be non-intersecting circles.

    Partonic 2-surfaces are basic objects of TGD Universe and there is interesting possibility that their intersections with constant redshift surfaces could be actually seen as circles in CMB. Could we really see the partonic 2-surfaces?

    The most natural manner to realize quantum criticality is by accepting hierarchy of Planck constants implying quantum coherence of dark matter even in astrophysical scales- in particular at the 2-surfaces defining the claimed coherence circles in WMAP. The notion of gravitational Planck constant was introduced by Nottale on basis of his and other’s observations about Bohr orbit like effects in planetary systems. This hierarchy would follow in TGD from the special properties of the action principle which is unique: Maxwell action for induced Kahler form defining U(1) gauge field which -as all induced gauge fields and metric- is expressible in terms of imbedding space coordinates. Canonical momentum densities are in 1-to-many correspondence with the time derivatives of imbedding space coordinates so that it is natural to introduce n-fold coverings of imbedding space as a formal tool and Planck constant is effectively n-fold at each sheet of covering.

    Quantum critical periods with effective negative pressure could correspond to the phase transitions changing the value of Planck constant and sequences of these rapidly occurring transitions would replaces smooth cosmic expansion in TGD Universe. These would at all levels of hierarchy of Planck constants and induce also effects at shorter scales.

    For a more detailed explanation see my blog.

  14. Just Learning says:

    I think the first issue is settling the question of what the probability is of concentric circles occuring in a data set the has variance. Penrose claims a random distribution of fixed points, but provides no estimate of the number of fixed points. The density of fixed points would be interesting I think. As that could lead to an estimate of entropy pre-recombination.
    I am not convinced that concentric circles are not indicative of spontanteous vortices occuring within the primordial superfluid.

    As far as I’m concerned, Penrose has lost it just like Hawking.

  15. Just Learning says:

    I would add that I am very skeptical of the notion of pre-big bang dynamics, but very suportive of the notion that post-big bang dynamics needs to be understood quantum mechanically and not classically.

  16. Just Learning,

    I am amazed how all the Phd’s take almost a religious stance on some of this cosmology to the point of calling each other hacks or saying they lost it when there is a disagreement. How much struggle there is before some empirical agreement that others should fall behind.

    Yours is a good question on the density of fixed points- I would say they are not random nor to be seen only classically- rather more crystalline on the large scales and yes on fractal like properties of scales.

    Now, in my analogy to such rings as if the (observable) universe an atom I like how you really upped the ante- for from one geometric viewpoint we should see evidence of the rings of a nucleus too- how else do we explain the recent results of a surprising liquid nuclear model? Are you not suggesting that fractional Hall effects go a little deeper into ideas of shell structures on any scale, in effect thinking along Penrose’s lines?

  17. Just Learning says:

    I suspect that the real explanation lies strictly within an understand of post big bang dynamics. We must invariable view CMB as arising from a 2 dimensional dynamcal fluid, as such we should expect there to spontaneously arising topological defects, such as vortices, and we should also expect conditions to arise that mimic conditions in cyclotrons. The first question that should be asked is what is the magnetic flux coming out of the regions that have concentric circles, I would suspect they are prime candidates for monopoles.

  18. Luboš Motl says:

    I have completely understood what they actually observed in the concentric circles: they have seen the L=40 excess in the WMAP data. See

    Why the bump is there – if it’s not just a fluke – remains unknown but it’s very clear that it’s just a small addition to the standard model of cosmology because L=40 is right in the middle of other values of L that are explained beautifully by the theory.

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      That is a nice observation. It makes me wonder what this acoustic peak would look like if the other frequencies were filtered out. It is just a random wave with extra power at that frequency, or does it really have well defined point-like source centres?

      If I was not so busy I would try to get hold of the WMAP data and do some analysis myself. I think it is public domain now.

      • Luboš Motl says:

        Dear Philip, thanks for your interest.

        First, the acoustic peaks don’t correspond to effects of any “sharp” frequency. The curve is totally smooth – the width in the L-space is not much smaller than the absolute value of L.

        They came from sound waves propagating through the plasma. These sound waves were more likely to be excited at some periods of the history – before the creation of the CMB. But clearly, there were no isolated point-like sources of the sound waves, and even if there had been, there would have been so many that it’s hopeless to try to enumerate them.

        The L=40 anomaly is different because the peak is not smooth in any sense. So the sources *could* be isolated and point-like for this purpose…

        Yes, it’s surely possible to get the WMAP data. After all, a high-res WMAP JPG image of the sky (or three of them or so, to get the channels) really contains all the information that the probe has ever given us. 😉

      • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

        Having checked some of the prior papers by Gurzadyan I suspect if Penrose and Gurzadyan were to respond to your calculation they would say, “Yes we know that already.” I have not seen a paper by Gurzadyan where he has done the sort of analysis on these rings in the sense he did work in the paper referenced in Penrose and Gurzadyan. While I don’t agree with their interpretation of this data as some pre-big bang it is not clear to me this identification of the data point on the multipole graph does much to falsify their claim.

      • Luboš Motl says:

        Dear Lawrence, I have exchanged a few e-mails with the Armenian author and his reaction was different than you suggested – and hopeless.

        He wrote me that he can’t see any 4.5° separation in the pictures and it’s like if I tell him that his red car is white. Moreover, he just climbed a peak in the Armenian mountains so he must be right.

        (He didn’t mention whether he has also surfed down the hill which would really settle all questions about cosmology.)

        I don’t think he understands the concept of spherical harmonics at all so it’s not possible to have a professional debate with him. He also confuses the difference between the signal and noise – and can’t really say what is the quantity in which they “see” a signal. He doesn’t want to say it because keeping things totally vague and un-quantitative is what makes science for those people more attractive, and much easier to nonsensically hype in the media.

      • Luboš Motl says:

        Otherwise, once I looked at the angular separation, seeing that they’re L=40 modes that are enhanced according to the Penrose et al. methodology, I don’t think that their observation may be “falsified”.

        It may still be a fluke, or a real effect that requires an explanation. However, L=40 is just in the middle of the simplest pre-first-acoustic-peak spherical harmonics so obviously, whatever created this bump occurred simultaneously with the phenomena that created the whole acoustic curve seen by WMAP. The bump, even if real, doesn’t require more pre-Big-Bang dynamics than any other point on the WMAP curve.

        It’s just preposterous to promote it as a paradigm shift. There may exist an interesting process – possibly even some cosmic strings or domain walls or whatever – that has to be added. But it’s clear that the bulk of the Big Bang dynamics has to be pretty much unchanged to agree with the whole spectrum of WMAP.

      • Lawrence B. Crowell says:

        Of course I have not pursued this with any great depth, so I can’t say whether the analysis G&P did is correct in analyzing the rings. The L = 40 Legendre periodicities seem to correspond well with the data and the “blip” on the CMB curve. Of course the data point does have small error bars, so this does appear to be something worthy of attention. I agree that this does not appear to be highly extraordinary, and the proposition this involves pre-big bang physics is resting on a weak reed here. The leap of reasoning is in assigning this an extraordinary time.

        This may simply point to some physics which occurs in the inflationary period, or some signature of initial anisotropic conditions at or prior to the onset of inflation. This might then be a weak acoustic signature of something, cosmic strings, domain walls, white holes ??? — as yet we do not know. However, I agree this does not stand out as something which clearly defines conditions prior to the big bang.

        I do not think this falsifies their claim, but it clearly illustrates how these data are not likely as unique as G&P claim. In fact this points to a general question that might be worthy of attention. As we look at the CMB for various signatures of the universe prior to the end of the radiation period, how can we calibrate a time associated with the source of any fingerprint on the CMB? This seems to be a whole lot more reasonable to ponder than the G&P claim, which is likely spurious.

    • Bill K says:


      They report rings on which the temperature variation is anomalously low. Wouldn’t that make the L=40 data want to be below the curve instead of above?

      Also, you seem to have concluded from inspecting their graphs that the rings are regularly spaced at about 4.5 degrees. However that is not what they say: “rings of low variance at certain randomly distributed radii.”

      • Luboš Motl says:

        Dear Bill, the “rings” you mention have a lower variation, and the other “rings” in between them have a higher variation. There’s no way to say which rings are which unless you would study the representation of individual values of “M” among the spherical harmonics with a fixed L. The only invariant quantity is the distance between the rings of the same kind.

        Now, the distance may a priori be anything, but it’s only the concentric systems of rings with separation of 4.5° or so that contribute to the “signal” while all other systems of circles appear by chance, as predicted from the WMAP spectral curve.

        This is of course the impression I get from their analysis. They don’t have anything more accurate to offer, however. Incidentally, the term “certain randomly distributed radii” is an oxymoron. If they’re randomly distributed, they can’t be “certain”. This confusion seems to be deliberate because they don’t want to say what exactly the “signal” they “see” is, and properly calculate the probability that it occurs by chance.

  19. The existence of single single circle of enhanced coherence would conform with the explanation of flatness of 3-space in terms of quantum criticality of sub-manifold gravitation rather than inflation. Of course, I am not talking about a prediction of TGD, just a possibility allowed by TGD approach. In any case, it would be ironic if this single ugly duckling could kill inflationary scenario!

    Maybe someone could list the reasons for believing that exponential expansion is the only explanation for the flatness of 3-space. Is there convincing evidence for exponential expansion? Or is it only flatness which is seen as evidence for the inflation.

    Of course, exponential expansion would smooth out the inhomogenities but Lorentz invariance of the space-time sheet representing cosmological evolution could alone explain this since ground states tend to be highly symmetric. There is also a sequence quantum jumps replacing quantum superposition of cosmologies in 4-D sense (making sense in TGD framework where strong form of holography holds true) with a new one in each quantum jump and this evolution could lead to a situation in which the superposition involves only small deformations of Lorentz invariant cosmology. Kind of approach to highly symmetric ground state but in 4-D sense.

  20. Pankaj Mani says:

    I have objection in the derivation of results of special theory of relativity using Lorentz transformation itself.

    Further, i have roughly resolved Riemann hypothesis and want objections to my resolution.

  21. Pankaj

    There should be little doubt that the hypothesis is true. In fact others like Peter Rowlands has made a connection with this idea and he half values that come up in particle physics (and of course the inverse square laws).

    But this is really the philosophic principle we are debating here as to how to see this possible evidence of concentric rings. Are we looking at a universe or perhaps one of many such of the things we see where that value covers all of the background space as does Lorentz phenomena? So what does it really prove? Can it tell us about things beyond the Big Bang as an ultimate or general concept or not?

    Just Learning,

    The monopole idea comes up and is of course interesting from several viewpoints and several ideas of inertia and so on with some rather radical and speculative but needed proposals. How does the momentum transfer from a black hole- it seems something to do with magnetism as the explanation left.

    Of course these effects real or not involves some concept of a plane or at least quadratics. Perhaps somehow a linear inclusion of such information too. Absolute values can have points that move even in a picture without animation. Lines of flux may have limited values as curves exceed the enumeration of lines in a plane and these certainly can be more or less isolated points and equations in the non-linear sets of solution. A flowing and liquid plane is a great metaphor.

    Thanks for the keen x-ray analysis and posting on this- it is about time we looked a little deeper into space, if I may use a metaphor of what Just Learning says mimics it- God’s cyclotron.

    • Just Learning says:

      Thanks for the additional discussion, just saw the comment to me. As I ponder some more, and the analogy takes hold in my mind, I can’t help but extend the analogy to one of thinking that we are part of a tangle of extended flux tubes that connect different parts of the surface at the horizon.

  22. Just Learning says:

    Getting closer to real explanation…

    Understanding the WMAP Cold Spot mystery
    P. D. Naselsky, P. R. Christensen, P. Coles, O. V. Verkhodanov, D. I. Novikov and Ja. Kim

  23. […] activity,” ArXiv, 16 Nov 2010. Me enteré de este artículo gracias a Philip Gibbs, “Concentric Circles in WMAP,” viXra log, Nov. 20, 2010. Me pareció curioso pero pensé “Kanijo ya lo […]

  24. […] 4 – Concentric Circles in WMAP […]

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