Gravitational vacuum energy in our recently accelerating universe

Research paper by Sidney Bludman

Indexed on: 12 Sep '08Published on: 12 Sep '08Published in: Astrophysics


We review current observations of the homogeneous cosmological expansion which, because they measure only kinematic variables, cannot determine the dynamics driving the recent accelerated expansion. The minimal fit to the data, the flat $\Lambda CDM$ model, consisting of cold dark matter and a cosmological constant, interprets $4\Lambda$ geometrically as a classical spacetime curvature constant of nature, avoiding any reference to quantum vacuum energy. (The observed Uehling and Casimir effects measure forces due to QED vacuum polarization, but not any quantum material vacuum energies.) An Extended Anthropic Principle, that Dark Energy and Dark Gravity be indistinguishable, selects out flat $\Lambda CDM$. Prospective cosmic shear and galaxy clustering observations of the growth of fluctuations are intended to test whether the 'dark energy' driving the recent cosmological acceleration is static or moderately dynamic. Even if dynamic, observational differences between an additional negative-pressure material component within general relativity (Dark Energy) and low-curvature modifications of general relativity (Dark Gravity) will be extremely small.