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U-Turn of the Black Hole Research of Thanu Padmanabhan: Herd Behavior & Sociology of Modern Physics

As discussed in a previous blog, the noted scholar and researcher on gravitation, Prof. Thanu Padmanabhan, noted way back in 1988

 that the concept of Black Holes (BH) not only  leads to various inconsistencies but is unphysical too in certain ways. The  following paper coauthored by him

1. “The Schwarzschild Solution:Some Conceptual Difficulties’‘ by J.V. Narlikar & T. Padmanabhan published in Foundations of Physics, Vol. 18, pp.659-668 (1988)

mentioned that

“Nevertheless there are several conceptual difficulties associated with this simple and elegant solution that are usually ignored because of its manifest usefulness. Our purpose in this article is to highlight these problems since we feel that their eventual resolution will advance our understanding of the complex basic interaction of gravitation.”

Even before this the ABSTRACT of the paper may be recalled:

It is shown that inconsistencies arise when we look upon the Schwarzschild solution as the space-time arising from a localized point singularity. The notion of black holes is critically examined, and it is argued that, since black hole formation never takes place within the past light cone of a typical external observer, the discussion of physical behavior of black holes, classical or quantum, is only of academic interest. It is suggested that problems related to the source could be avoided if the event horizon did not form and that the universe only contained quasi-black holes.”

About continued gravitational collapse to a point, these authors wrote that

“Thus we have arrived at an inconsistency at R = 0. It could be argued that a point source at R= 0 is unrealistic and that the Schwarzschild solution works for a distributed source only. This way out is unfortunately ruled out by the phenomenon of gravitational collapse that inevitably results in all the matter converging to R=0 in finite
comoving time.”

Accordingly, this paper repeatedly stressed so-called “Black Hole Candidates”  could be just  Quasi Black Holes rather than true BHs. Also in principle, a true BH cannot be observed directly. ”

Later in the following paper:

2.Phase volume occupied by a test particle around an incipient black hole

T. Padmanabhan, Physics Letters A, Volume 136,  p. 203(1989)

he wrote that

“The volume of phase space g(E) available for a system with a definite energy E plays an important role in statistical mechanics. We compute g(E) for a test particle in Schwarzschild geometry and show that it diverges as the source evolves to form a black hole.”

The consequence of the DIVERGENCE of g(E) is that Entropy of the ideal gas too would diverge in case an Event Horizon (EH) would form. Note that when ever unphysical or singular properties of the EH become manifest BH proponents shout “Oh! This must be a coordinate singularity”. But Padmanabhan correctly emphasized that blowing up of g(E) or entropy was not all any coordinate effect, on the other hand such a divergence shows true singular property of the EH. In fact one can easily trace the reason for the divergence of Entropy to the singular properties of the metric coefficients of the Schwarzschild Metric at the EH:

So as per the research carried out by Padmanabhan during the 1980s, atleast as far as General Relativity (GR) is concerned,

(i) The singularity of the Schwarzschild Metric at the EH can lead to genuine physical singularities, i.e., EH does not correspond to a mere “Coordinate Singularity”, and

(ii) The concept of BH is unphysical, and the so-called BH Candidates should be “Quasi- BHs” which to a far away observer look almost as compact and BLACK as theoretical BHs.

Following this ,a logical and honest future course of his Black Hole research could have been to explore the subtleties and nuances of the complex topic of General Relativistic Gravitational Collapse to see how continued collapse must prevent formation of Theoretical BHs, and on the other hand lead to only Quasi-BHs.

But This Was Not To Be

However, Padmanabhan did not pursue any such uncertain, un-trodden and tortuous path of research. Instead, after a hibernation in BH research;  he went on writing papers after papers which assumed that (iii) Gravitational Collapse Must Produce Black Holes and Event Horizons  and (iv) Black Holes and Event Horizons are one of the most important concepts in not only gravitation but physics as a whole IN DIRECT CONTRADICTION to his own previous ideas (i) and (ii).

 In particular, the idea of  Event Horizons became the basis of his future research in Gravitation which won him all accolades and awards. Recall his later papers:

3. “Quantum Structure of Spacetime and Entropy of Schwarschild Black Holes” : Physical Review Letters, Volume 81,  pp.4297 (1988)

4. “Event horizon of a Schwarzschild black hole: Magnifying glass for Planck length physics”: Physical Review D, Volume 59,  id. 124012 (1999)

5. “Classical and quantum thermodynamics of horizons in spherically symmetric spacetimes”: Classical and Quantum Gravity, Volume 19, pp. 5387 (2002)

6. “Thermodynamics of Horizons”: Modern Physics Letters A, Volume 17, pp. 923-942 (2002)

7. “Why Gravity Has No Choice: Bulk Spacetime Dynamics Is Dictated by Information Entanglement Across Horizons”: General Relativity and Gravitation, v. 35, p. 2097-2103 (2003)

8. “Entropy of Horizons, Complex Paths and Quantum Tunnelling”: Modern Physics Letters A, Volume 19, pp. 2637, (2004)

9. “Gravity and the thermodynamics of horizons”: Physics Reports, Volume 406, p. 49-125 (2005)

10. “Entropy of null surfaces and dynamics of spacetime”: Physical Review D, vol. 75,  id. 064004 (2007) (Note: Null Surface is a surface similar to an “Event Horizon”).

11. “Einstein’s equations as a thermodynamic identity: The cases of stationary axisymmetric horizons and evolving spherically symmetric horizons”: Physics Letters B, Volume 652, p. 338-342 (2007)

12. “Gravity as AN Emergent Phenomenon”: International Journal of Modern Physics D, Volume 17,  pp. 591-596 (2008)

13. “Ideal gas in a strong gravitational field: Area dependence of entropy”: Physical Review D, vol. 83, Issue 6, id. 064034 (2011)

14. “Structure of the gravitational action and its relation with horizon thermodynamics and emergent gravity paradigm”: Physical Review D, vol. 87, id. 124011 (2013)

Let us not first debate “Which of the two Self-contradictory phases of research of Padmanabhan is scientifically correct?”

Note that even if one would consider Quantum Gravity BHs, the latter must yield GR results for large quantum numbers or for macroscopic cases. Thus even QG BH research must be organically related to classical GR results. And let the latter phase, Papers 3-14 be correct.  Note there is no harm if an honest researcher would change his course of research as new arguments, new facts would emerge . In fact, up to 1996, I was a strong believer in the Black Hole paradigm, but I took a U-turn by 1998, as my research showed that my earlier belief was incorrect.

If Padmanabhan were an honest researcher and committed to scientific truths alone, he should have offered due explanation as to how his initial research which showed that GR should not allow BHs and EHs was incorrect. But he made no such attempts. In fact in a very mysterious manner, he never cited his own papers 1 & 2 in almost 100 papers, articles, books authored by him which involved the concept of “Black Holes” and “Horizons” or “Null Surfaces”!!!!!!

Now let us quickly adjudge which phase of his research is the physically and scientifically correct. In a series of peer reviewed papers by the present author, it has been shown that Black Holes and Event Horizons Indeed Correspond to Genuine Physical Singularities and Hence They Are Unphysical & Must Not Form. To cut a long story short, it has been shown that

  • A Radially Falling Material Test Particle Would Behave Like a Photon If It would Reach The Event Horizon Irrespective of the Coordinate System Used; and this is not allowed by GR.
  • The Coordinate Independent Scalar Acceleration Felt By An Observer At the EH is INFINITE indicating EH is a PHYSICAL SINGULARITY. In fact this is the reason that “nothing not even light can escape the Event Horizon”.
  • There are indeed scalars made out of Rimmanian Tensor which become singular at the Event Horizon and a Free Falling Observer Can Very Well Detect this singular surface contrary to the basic argument of BH paradigm: REF:

16. “A note on a local effect at the Schwarzschild sphere”

Karlhede, A.; Lindstrom, U.; Aman, J. E.: General Relativity and Gravitation, vol. 14, June 1982, p. 569-571 (1982)

17. “On the Local Detectability of the Passage Through the Schwarzschild Horizon”: Tammelo, Risto; Kask, Üllar, General Relativity and Gravitation, Volume 29, p.997-1009  (1997)

18.  “Detecting Event Horizons and Stationary Surfaces”: Gass, Richard G. et al. (arXiv:gr-qc/9808055)

Eventually, these questions were uniquely settled by this blogger by showing that  Black Holes Have a Unique Gravitational Mass M=0, and they represent only asymptotic final states of continued gravitational collapse which could be formed only after radiating away entire mass-energy and angular momentum of the collapsing body. REF: 

19. Comments on “The Euclidean gravitational action as black hole entropy, singularities, and space-time voids” [J. Math. Phys. 49, 042501 (2008)]: A. Mitra, Journal of Mathematical Physics, Volume 50,  pp. 042502 (2009);  (arXiv:0904.4754)

20. “Why the astrophysical Black Hole Candidates may not be black holes at all”: A. Mitra 2004, (arXiv:astro-ph/0409049)

It has also been shown that continued collapse should naturally give rise to Eternally Collapsing Objects (ECOs):

An Eternally Collapsing Object (ECO) is a compact star that resembles a ball of fire; and it is so hot that its radiation helps it stay put despite its intense pull of gravity. Being extremely compact, ECOs mimic mathematical “Black Holes” in many ways, but there are observational reasons to believe that the so-called astrophysical “Black Holes” are really ECOs: The eruptions and jet formations from the black hole candidates are better understood if they are indeed hot balls of fire rather than a cold piece of vacuum with an imaginary surface from which “nothing, not even light can escape”.
ECOs however asymptotically shrink towards the mathematical Black Hole state of infinite compactness.

21.“ Radiation pressure supported stars in Einstein gravity: eternally collapsing objects”: A. Mitra, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 369, pp. 492-496 (2006)

22. “Sources of stellar energy, Einstein Eddington timescale of gravitational contraction and eternally collapsing objects”: A. Mitra, New Astronomy, Volume 12, p. 146-160 (2006)

23. “Likely formation of general relativistic radiation pressure supported stars or `eternally collapsing objects”’: A. Mitra & N.K. Glendenning, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, Volume 404, pp. L50-L54 (2010)

24. “Kruskal Coordinates and Mass of Schwarzschild Black Holes: No Finite Mass Black Hole at All”, A. Mitra, International Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics, vol. 2, issue 04, pp. 236-248 (2012), 10.4236/ijaa.2012.24031

25. “The Mass of the Oppenheimer-Snyder Hole: Only Finite Mass Quasi-Black Holes”, A. Mitra & K.K. Singh, International Journal of Modern Physics D, Volume 22,  id. 1350054 (2013)

26. “Does Pressure Accentuate General Relativistic Gravitational Collapse and Formation of Trapped Surfaces?”, A. Mitra,  International Journal of Modern Physics D, Volume 22,  id. 1350021 (2013)


What Could Explain The U-Turn of Thanu Padmanabhan?

Many greatest physicists including Eddington, Einstein and Dirac did not believe in Black Holes. However they could not offer any cogent reason which would resolve this paradox characterized by beautiful & exact GR solutions. The problem became even much more complex after it was found that indeed there are indeed valid Black Hole Candidates in X-Ray Binaries, Quasars and Many Galactic Centers. These massive compact objects certainly cannot be Neutron Stars or various other Alternatives like Star Clusters or Fictitious Super Massive Stars of Hoyle & Fowler.

And definitely Padmanabhan, though a great scholar and prolific researcher, was in no position to face this challenge. In fact his two initial papers 1 & 2, though profound and EXACT, are rarely cited. On the other hand, his latter papers affirming  his faith in the Black Hole Paradigm like a Neo-Convert got thousands of citations. Thanu is a bright researcher of course aspired to be not only a mainstream author but a sort of world leader, a Big Boss, in Gravitation Research. And this is possible only for a convert and not for someone who could be dubbed as a Crank or Heretic for being idiotic enough to challenge the holy scripture. A logical course of the initial phase of the Padamanabhan research could have been an attempt to show that the crucial assumption of “Trapped Surfaces” of Hawking & Penrose were incorrect. But  such a research would immediately make him cross swords with Penrose, Hawking and all “leaders” one can conceive of. It would have also led him to challenge the idea of a “Black Hole  Thermodynamics” and put on conflict course with Bekenstein, t’Hooft and who not?

Then let alone generous citation of his papers, they might not have been accepted in the first place, alteast in journals like PRD, PRL, CQG etc. May be despite his enormous talent, he would have been considered as a pariah with no entry to Blue Blood clubs. May be, no student would be ready to get associated with such iconoclastic research in order to protect their academic futures. May be, he would not have become “Distinguished Professor” and  the would be Director of IUCAA. Such possibilities are actually endless…

Incidentally, the fact that, continued GR collapse does not allow “Trapped Surfaces” in order that matter like trajectories of the elements of a collapsing star do not become lightlike was proved by the present author:

27. “Quantum information paradox: Real or fictitious?”: A. Mitra, Pramana, vol. 73,  pp. 615-622 (2009); (arXiv:0911.3518)

His books taught  everywhere are silent on the conceptual difficulties of black holes, his discussions on Gravitational Collapse do not go beyond the idealized pressure-less collapse model of  1939 by Oppenheimer & Snyder about which my take is the following:

28. “The fallacy of Oppenheimer Snyder collapse: no general relativistic collapse at all, no black hole, no physical singularity”: A. Mitra, Astrophysics and Space Science, Volume 332, pp.43-48  (2011)

He is leading researcher in Gravity; but his real uniqueness lies elsewhere: He is the only researcher in the world who hides in own research, appears to be mortally afraid of citing his own papers 1 & 2 which challenge the BH paradigm.

This is so when these two papers are scientifically correct because (i) the blowing up of g(E) at the EH is an EXACT & CORRECT result, (ii) EHs are indeed physical singularities and correspond to the central singularity because M=0 for BHs. Can QG qualitatively change these conclusions? It should not because Quantum Green’s Function blows up at the Event Horizon, which again can be traced to metric singularity of the Schwarzschild metric there.

28. “Quantum Field Theory in Schwarzschild And Rindler Spaces”:  D. Boulware, Phy. Rev. D11, 1404 (1975).

However, one may try to hide such singular behaviors by fudging the physics, by using the jargon of “near horizon” behavior, and by avoiding the EH. Even then most of the contributions of the relevant integrals naturally come from this “near horizon”. And then one can pretend that physics of the 3-D BH interior is encoded in the 2-D EH… then holography and justification of the most speculative hypothesis of BH Theromodynamics, Hawking Radiation can also follow. Of course, once on this glorious track, acceptance of the manuscript is guaranteed in any leading journal.

Incidentally, my prediction that the so-called BH candidates are ultramagnetized ECOs (MECOs) rather than true BHs have inspired several astrophysicists and here is a 2006 Center for Astrophysics, Harvard, press release to this effect:

One may partly appreciate this key to success of Padmanabhan research by recalling that post modern theoretical research, particularly, in the topics involving may not be about physical realities at all:

In their book A Different Approach to Cosmology, Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge and Jayant Narlikar used the photo given below to illustrate the conformist approach to standard big-bang cosmology. ‘We have resisted the temptation to name some of the leading geese,’ they say. May be the same photo help explain the enormous success of  the research career of Thanu Padmanabhan:



Meet the Indian who took on Stephen Hawking: PTI

Black Holes are exact mathematical solution of  Einstein’s General Relativity (GR). However, it is admitted by most of the GR experts that many exact GR solutions are not realizable. Nonetheless, most of the GR experts believe that, the black hole solutions must be real particularly because there are evidences of existence of massive astrophysical compact objects (which cannot be Neutron Stars or Pulsars). In 1977, Stephen Hawking used semi-classical gravity (a very tentative and crude form of Quantum Gravity) to conclude that black holes can radiate albeit by an incredibly small rate.

Meanwhile, during 1998-2002, for the first time in history, I claimed that, GR actually does not allow formation of finite mass black holes; and those exact BH solutions are illusory because the integration constant representing BH mass is actually zero.
I also insisted that for continued collapse, no exact BH or exact Event Horizon can form though the collapsing object can asymptotically become a zero mass BH by radiating out its entire mass-energy.

Then in 2004, Hawking too came too the conclusion that there cannot be exact black holes or exact Event Horizons. He of course used Quantum Gravity considerations which never become clear to anybody. After all, 30 years ago, he used Quantum Gravity to conclude that exact black holes can form and radiate. In this backdrop PTI produced the following report. It got widely transmitted the world over; and newspapers and websites featured it.


August 03, 2004 09:33 IST
Last Updated: August 03, 2004 10:06 IST

An Indian theoretical physicist  who questioned the existence of black holes and thereby challenged Stephen Hawking of Britain at last feels vindicated. But he is sad.

Abhas Mitra, at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, was perhaps the first and the only scientist who had the guts to openly challenge Hawking of Cambridge University who is regarded by many as the modern-day Einstein.

For over 30 years Hawking and his followers were perpetuating the theory that black holes — resulting from gravitational collapse of massive stars — destroy everything that falls into them preventing even light or information to escape.

Mitra, four years ago, in a controversial paper in the reputed journal, Foundations of Physics Letters, showed that Hawking’s theory was flawed. He proved black holes couldn’t exist because their formation and existence flouted Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Except a handful, the majority of mainstream scientists dismissed Mitra’s conclusions even though, till now, no scientist has contradicted him in writing. Mitra invited several notable black hole theorists including Hawking and Jayant Narlikar of India to criticise his work but no one replied.

Naturally, Mitra now feels vindicated following Hawking’s own admission two weeks ago at a conference in Dublin, Ireland, that there isn’t a black hole “in the absolute sense.”

In essence, Hawking’s “new” black holes never quite become the kind that gobble up everything. Instead, they keep emitting radiation for a long time — exactly what Mitra showed in his paper.

Hawking’s about-turn has vindicated Mitra. But, in retrospect, he feels sad about the treatment he got at home while trying to take on Hawking all by himself.

Too “embarrassed” to be associated with a man who challenged Hawking, even Mitra’s close colleagues avoided him and he became an outcast. To add insult to injury, BARC authorities removed Mitra from the theoretical physics division on the excuse that this division was meant only for those doing “strategic research.”

“The ironic element in this whole exercise,” Mitra told  PTI, “is that the person who actually dared to show that there cannot be any black holes was completely ignored both by the academicians and the media.”

A black hole is characterised by an imaginary boundary called the “event horizon” that shuts everything within. But in 1976 Hawking introduced quantum mechanics into the problem and claimed that black holes do radiate energy — although at a low rate — and ultimately vanish into nothingness.

The vanishing act, however, destroys all the trapped information as well – directly conflicting with the laws of quantum physics that say that information can never be completely wiped out. This is the “information loss paradox” associated with black holes that, in a way, was created by Hawking’s own work.

One logical resolution of this paradox would have been to realise that black holes did not exist. But Mitra says that such sweeping, yet logical thinking “was never undertaken by either party involved in this prolonged debate and they kept on debating effectively to make the paradox more popular and perpetuating.”

It was then that Mitra published his seminal paper showing that gravitational collapse of massive star can at best produce an “Eternally Collapsing Object” but not an “event horizon” or a black hole in the strict sense. “Since no event horizon is formed, there is no paradox at all in the first place,” Mitra argued.

In a subsequent work Mitra showed that the “Eternally Collapsing Objects” that he proposed are actually the massive compact objects now referred to as Black Hole Candidates (BHCs).

Motivated by Mitra’s work, American physicists Stanley Robertson and Darryl Leiter have confirmed in 2002 that BHCs have intense magnetic fields as predicted by Mitra and therefore are not real black holes which cannot have magnetic field.

Mitra says that in the light of new developments, “the supposed black holes are not really black holes and it would be intellectual dishonesty to still call them as black holes and keep the debate alive.”

Though his own colleagues had sidelined Mitra after his first paper, he is solaced by the encouraging e-mails he had received from several physicists around the world.

One from Salvatore Antoci, University of Padova, Italy, a noted relativist says: “Let me express to you my great joy in seeing your much-disputed paper eventually accepted for publication by Foundations of Physics Letters. Convincing the community of relativists about the mythical nature of black holes will remain a tremendous task, but it is a little less desperate thanks to your success.”

Peder Norberg, of the Department of Physics, Durham University, UK, said he carefully read through Mitra’s paper and found “that most of the results presented there are more than impressive” while Stanley Robertson, a relativist of South Oklahoma State University, USA said: “On first becoming acquainted with your work, I was dubious, thinking it unlikely that something as profound as belief in the existence of black holes could become erroneously established in the literature. In the meanwhile, I have found no errors in your work. It is fascinating.”

The only Indian who praised Mitra’s work was relativist Pankaj Joshi of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.

The BARC scientist recalls the episode in the 1930s when Subramanian Chandrasekhar’s work on the upper mass limit of white dwarfs was considered incorrect by celebrated astrophysicists like Sir Arthur Eddington even though no one could precisely point out any error in Chandra’s work.


Black Holes or Balls of Quark Gluon Plasma: Nature India (2010)

This is the text of the Science News published in Nature India on April 01, 2010 Featuring the Peer Reviewed Paper:

Black holes or balls of Quark Gluon plasma?

“ Radiation pressure supported stars in Einstein gravity: eternally collapsing objects”

by Abhas Mitra & N.K. Glendenning, Monhly Notices Royal  Astronomical  Society, 369, 492 (2006) | Article


Indian theoretical astrophysicist Abhas Mitra who has been questioning the existence of black holes (BHs) says his theory — contrary to the likely misinterpretation — is really “not in conflict with the basic mathematical notion of  BH.”

A black hole, according to its advocates, results from gravitational collapse of a massive star. Its pull of gravity is so strong that nothing — not even light — can escape. It is surrounded by an imaginary boundary called the ‘event horizon’ that shuts everything within.

But Mitra at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai had been arguing that under Einstein’s general theory of relativity gravitational collapse of a star cannot result in a finite mass BH as defined [1].

The radiation emitted by the collapsing star would get trapped by its ever increasing self-gravity and ultimately the outward pressure of this trapped radiation would counter balance the inward pull of gravity arresting the catastrophic collapse. This, Mitra says, is ‘akin to a leaking balloon whose contraction stops as self-gravity plugs the leak by forcing the molecules of the gas to move in closed circular orbits.’

what results, according to Mitra, is not a true BH but a

‘radiation pressure supported extremely relativistic star (RRPSS).’

Incidentally, noted astrophysicists Sir Fred Hoyle and Nobel laureate William Fowler had shown in 1963 that there could be stars supported entirely by radiation pressure rather than by gas pressure.

Mitra claims that the RRPSS proposed by him is the relativistic version of such radiation pressure supported stars of Hoyle and Fowler[2] Mitra nicknamed this as an ‘Eternally Collapsing Object’ (ECO) to signify its steady shrinking indefinitely without ever achieving BH’s point like singularity. The so called Black Hole Candidates (BHCs) regularly observed by astronomers as compact objects in many X-ray binaries and central objects in many quasars are nothing but ECOs, he says.

In his latest paper co-authored with Norman Glendenning of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States, Mitra has shown that the RRPSS generated during gravitational collapse of a massive star is ‘an intermediate stage’ before a true black hole state is formed asymptotically [3].

“Thus the scenario considered (in our paper) in no way denies that, mathematically, the final state of continued gravitational collapse is a BH,” Mitra told Nature India. The researchers further show that the BHCs are actually extremely hot balls of exotic Quark Gluon Plasma — a molten state of neutrons and protons.

  • References

    1. Mitra, A. Non-occurrence of trapped surfaces and black holes in spherical gravitational collapse. Found. Phys. Lett. 13, 543-579 (2000) | Article
    2. Mitra, A. Radiation pressure supported stars in Einstein gravity: eternally collapsing objects. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 369, 492 (2006) | Article
    3. Mitra, A. et al. Likely formation of general relativistic radiation pressure supported stars or ‘eternally collapsing objects’. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-3933.2010.00833.x (2010)

Original Link:

Genius Hall of Vindication

I came across this  this web resource : Mega International; Below I am just pasting what I read and admired. I hope some of you too would appreciate it:


All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
— Arthur Schopenhauer

When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. 
 Jonathan Swift

Some ridiculed ideas which had no supporters:

  • Ball lightning – lacking a theory, it was long dismissed as retinal afterimages
  • Catastrophism – ridicule of rapid Earth changes, asteroid mass extinctions
  • Child abuse – before 1950, doctors were mystified by “spontaneous” childhood bruising
  • Cooperation or altruism between animals – versus Evolution’s required competition
  • Instantaneous meteor noises – evidence rejected because sound should be delayed by distance
  • Mind-body connection – psychoneuroimmunology, doctors ridiculed psychological basis for disease
  • Perceptrons – later vindicated as Neural Networks
  • Permanent magnet levitation – “Levitron” shouldn’t have worked

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false. 
 Paul Johnson


Concepts which have proved useful for ordering things easily assume so great an authority over us, that we forget their terrestrial origin and accept them as unalterable facts. They then become labeled as “conceptual necessities”, etc. The road of scientific progress is frequently blocked for long periods by such errors.
 Albert Einstein


All great truths began as blasphemies. 
 George Bernard Shaw

Hans Alfven – Plasma Physics

The idea of parallel electric fields was proposed over 50 years ago by Nobel laureate, Hans Alfven of Sweden. Although ridiculed at the time as electric fields directed this way were believed to “short out” when oriented along the highly conducting magnetic field lines, observations gathered in space, such as those from the FAST satellite, as well as recent theoretical advances, have clearly shown that such processes produce the aurora and may indeed be widespread in nature. [Source: UC Berkely]


Svante Arrhenius – Ion Chemistry

His idea that electrolytes are full of charged atoms was considered crazy. The atomic theory was new at the time, and everyone “knew” that atoms were indivisible (and hence they could not “lose” or “gain” any electric charge.) Because of his heretical idea, he only received his university degree by a very narrow margin. The value of Arrhenius’ work was not well understood because the idea of a connection between electricity and chemical affinity, once advocated by Berzelius, had vanished from the general consciousness of scientists in his university at Uppsalla but attention from a couple of established scientists in Stockholm helped him to get recognition for his work. Arrhenius was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1903.

 John Logie Baird – Television camera

When the first television system was demonstrated to the Royal Society (British scientists,) they scoffed and ridiculed it. His work a crucial break-through in television technology. Today, 95% of modern TV is pre-recorded, an approach recommended by Baird. A large amount of contemporary TV utilizes the film scanning system of Rank-Cintel, which absorbed Baird’s Cinema Television. Baird’s single electronic gun CRT development work in 1945 was eventually followed in the design of the Sony Trinitron tube. In a manner that today seems commonplace, his initial mechanical solution was quickly supplanted by newer technology, but his inventive work continued and his legacy continues. Baird succeeded in perfecting visual transmission systems others had long abandoned. His single-minded tenacity proves that most obstacles are no greater than the limits of the imagination. […]

 Robert Bakker – Fast, warm-blooded dinosaurs

Robert T. Bakker is far and wide paleontology’s greatest and most well known character. You probably know Bakker as the man who hypothesized that dinosaurs may have been warmblooded, or the scientist who believed that diseases caused the demise of the terrible lizards, or the author who wrote the book the Dinosaur Heresies. But, there is much more to the career of Dr. Robert Bakker. […]

 Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar 

Chandrasekhar presented on white dwarfs and their size limits at the Royal Astronomical Society in January 1935, but the most famous astronomer at that time, Arthur Eddington, ridiculed his ideas. Chandra went to several famous physicists and asked them to check his calculations. All of them agreed that there was no mistake, but it still took decades before the Chandrasekhar Limit was accepted by all astrophysicists. Eventually his idea became the foundation for the theory of black holes.

Because he didn’t find acceptance by astronomers in England, and political fighting and favoritism blocked his chances for a good job in India, Chandra came to the United States.  Eventually, Eddington admitted that Chandra’s theory was right, and they made peace. Forty years after he first announced his theory, Chandra was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in physics.

Ernst Chladni – Meteorites

Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni was a Russian of German origin who was a member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences.  In 1794 he published a book in which he argued that meteorites were in fact rocks that had fallen from the sky.  He came to that conclusion after comparing the Krasnojarsk pallasite and an iron found in Otumpa between Paraguay and Argentina.  He noted their exotic make up.  He also pointed out that not only was the metal in the two rocks identical, there were no rocks even remotely near where they were found that were similar.  He correctly stated that they had in fact fallen from the sky due to the effects of earth’s gravity and further that these rocks formed fireballs when they passed through the atmosphere. This work was not well received by the leading scientists of the day because at the time meteorites were believed to be “thunder stones” formed in storms by earth rocks being sucked up in a vacuum and being struck by lightning.  Another reason was that most meteorites were stones and not irons.  Almost to mock his critics on December 13, 1795 under a clear blue sky a 25 kilo meterorite fell on Wold Cottage in Yorkshire.  Analysis of this stone found iron that matched the iron in the meteorites discussed in Chladni’s book.

 C.J. Doppler – Doppler effect

Proposed a theory of the optical Doppler Effect in 1842, but was bitterly opposed for two decades because it did not fit with the accepted physics of the time (the Ether theory.) He was finally proven right in 1868 when W. Huggins observed red shifts and blue shifts in stellar spectra. Unfortunately this was fifteen years after he had died.

 Galileo Galilei – Heliocentric Universe (Copernican viewpoint)

Galileo’s ideas about the universe at the beginning of the Scientific Revolution were first dismissed as being impossible. Upon review, however, the priests and aristocrats feared the worldview that Galileo’s universe was beginning to force upon them. Galileo was placed under house arrest until the end of his life, he received a formal apology from the Catholic Church only in the past decade, hundreds of years after his death. [The Galileo Project]

 Evariste Galois – Mathematics Prodigy; Group Theory

Galois’s terse style, uncompromising personality and the sheer originality of his ideas contributed to the delay in the publication of his papers and failure to get appropriate recognition for his work. There was also a certain amount of bad luck. One manuscript was lost when the reviewer died. Throughout his short life his mathematical insights were poorly understood. He was killed in a duel when he was just 21. Galois’ brother and his friend Chevalier copied his math papers and sent them to mathematicians including Gauss and Jacobi. Galois had wished that Gauss and Jacobi would review his work, but no record of any comments exists. The mathematician Liouville did review his work and announced to the Academy that he had found in Galois’ papers a concise solution

…as correct as it is deep of this lovely problem: Given an irreducible equation of primedegree, decide whether or not it is soluble by radicals.

He published Galois’ papers in his journal in 1846. The theory that Galois outlined in these papers is now called Galois theory.

Luigi Galvani – bioelectricity

Galvani’s experiments were ridiculed because they countered established views. According to Galvani, “They call me the frogs’ dance instructor.” His innovative experiments helped to establish the basis for the biological study of neurophysiology. The paradigm shifted from the view of Descartes and his contemporaries. Nerves were not water pipes or channels, as had been thought, but electrical conductors. Information within the nervous system was carried by electricity generated directly by the organic tissue.

 William Harvey – circulation of blood

He annouced his discovery that blood circulated around the body in 1616 causing the scientific community of the time to ostracize him. He had challenged Galen’s view, popular for 1400 years, that blood was continually being made and used up. Harvey’s theory was  met with much resistance because by implication it threw doubt on the value of blood letting, a very popular treatment of the day.

Sir Hans Adolf Krebs – ATP energy, Krebs cycle

Krebs displayed great flexibility in following surprising results. A humble and occasionally sardonic man, Krebs suggested to a meeting of the American Philosophical Society in 1970 that the way to impress upon governments the value of scientific exploration would be to do away with the vast amount of wasteful and gratuitous research he described as ”occupation therapy for the university staff.” Krebs received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Physiology.

Karl F. Gauss – nonEuclidean geometery

Kept secret his discovery of non-Euclidean geometry for thirty years because of fear of ridicule. Lobachevsky later published similar work and WAS ridiculed. After Gauss’ death his work was finally published, but even then it took decades for Noneuclidean Geometery to win acceptance among the professionals.

Binning/Roher/Gimzewski – Scanning-tunneling microscope

Invented in 1982, surface scientists refused to believe that atom-scale resolution was possible, and demonstrations of the STM in 1985 were still met by hostility, shouts, and laughter from the specialists in the microscopy field. It’s discoverers won the Nobel prize in 1986, which went far in forcing an unusually rapid change in the attitude of colleagues.

R. Goddard – Rocket-powered space ships

Goddard first obtained public notoriety in 1907 when he fired a powder rocket in the basement of the physics building at WPI. School officials then took an immediate interest in Goddard’s work and, to their credit, did not expel him for the incident. In this 1920 publication, Goddard outlined the possibility of a rocket reaching the moon and exploding a load of flash powder on its surface to mark the rocket’s arrival. The bulk of his scientific report to the Smithsonian was a dry explanation of how he used the $5000 grant in his research. The press picked up Goddard’ s proposal about a rocket flight to the moon and sparked a journalistic controversy concerning the feasibility of such a concept. Goddard was widely ridiculed, causing him to deeply resent the press corps, a view that he held for the rest of his life.

 Lynn Margulis – Endosymbiotic organelles

In 1970 Margulis was not only denied funding but subjected to intense scorn by reviewers at the NSF. “I was flatly turned down,” Margulis said, and the grants officers added “that I should never apply again.” Textbooks today quote her discovery as a plausible theory; that plant and animal cells are really communities of cooperating bacteria.

Julius R. Mayer – The Law of Conservation of Energy

Mayer’s original paper was contemptuously rejected by the leading physics journals of the time.

B. Marshall – ulcers caused by bacteria, helicobacter pylori

Stomach ulcers are caused by acid. All physicians knew this. Marshall needed about ?? years to convince the medical establishment to change their beliefs and accept that ulcers are a bacterial disease.

 George S. Ohm – Ohm’s Law

Ohm’s initial publication was met with ridicule and dismissal. His work was called “a tissue of naked fantasy.” Approx. ten years passed before scientists began to recognize its great importance.

Fernando Nottebohm – Regenerating neurons

After twenty years as a ridiculed minority, Nottebohm’s work with songbird brains was finally taken seriously, and the biologists of today now recognize that the age-old dogma was wrong: brains DO regenerate neurons after all.

Stanford R. Ovshinsky – amorphous semiconductor devices

Physicists “knew” that chips and transistors could only be made of expensive slices of single-crystal silicon. Ovshinsky’s breakthrough invention of glasslike semiconductors was attacked by physicists and then ignored for more than a decade. Ovshinsky was bankrupt and destitute when finally the Japanese took interest and funded his work. The result: the new science of amorphous semiconductor physics, as well as inexpensive thin-film semiconductor technology (in particular the amorphous solar cell, photocopier components, and writeable CDROMS sold by Sharp Inc. and other Japanese companies.)

Ignaz Semmelweis – Surgical cleanliness, puerperal fever

Semmelweis intuits that germs are leading to infections and death in surgical settings. He studies the phenomena and makes dramatic improvements in patient care that save thousands of lives. Instead of accolades, he is seen as bringing criticism on the medical establishment. He is demoted and ridiculed. In 1865 he suffers a mental breakdown and is committed to a mental institution. There, at age 47, he cuts his finger. Ironically, he dies of puerperal fever a few days later.

Nikola Tesla – Earth electrical resonance, now called “Schumann” resonance; brushless AC motor

An AC motor which lacks brushes was thought to be an instance of a Perpetual Motion Machine.

 F. Sherwood Rowland – Danger of Chlorofluorocarbons

He first warned that chemicals called cholorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were destroying the ozone layer. They were ridiculed for their work for years before being vindicated by the discovery of a massive hole in the ozone layer over Antarctic. Rowland, along with Mario Molina and Paul Crutzen, won a Nobel Prize in 1995 for their work.

 William James Sidis – Prodigy

Accomplished prodigy that was widely regarded as a dysfunctional failure because he collected subway transfers. Sidis published a number of thought-provoking and scholarly works and, in spite of myths to the contrary, seems to have been well-adjusted.

 Warren S. Warren – Anomolies in MRI theory

Warren and his team at Princeton tracked down a Magnetic Resonance anomaly and found a new facet to MRI theory: spin interactions between distant molecules, including deterministic Chaos effects. Colleagues knew he was wrong, and warned him that his crazy results were endangering his career. Princeton held a “roast”, a mean-spirited bogus presentation mocking his work. Warren then began encountering funding cancellations. After approx. seven years, the tide of ridicule turned and Warren was vindicated. His discoveries are even leading to new MRI techniques. See: SCIENCE NEWS, Jan 20 2001, V159 N3, “Spin Control”.

Alfred Wegener – Continental drift

Wilbur and Orville Wright – Flying machines

After their Kitty Hawk success, The Wrights flew their machine in open fields next to a busy rail line in Dayton Ohio for almost an entire year. American authorities refused to come to the demos, and Scientific American Magazine published stories about “The Lying Brothers.” Even the local Dayton newspapers never sent a reporter (but they did complain about all the letters they were receiving from local “crazies” who reported the many flights.) Finally the Wrights packed up and moved to Europe, where they caused an overnight sensation and sold aircraft contracts to France, Germany, Britain, etc.

George Zweig – Quark theory

Zweig published quark theory at CERN in 1964 (calling them ‘aces’), but everyone knows that no particle can have 1/3 electric charge. Rather than receiving recognition, he encountered stiff barriers and was accused of being a charlatan.

  Genius, Creativity and the Mainstream 

  Articles on Genius and Creativity  

  Genius Quotes 

  Discussions on Genius and Intelligence

  NOEON Newsletter

For the original source, See

Eternally Collapsing Objects: SciTopics

Last year, I received an invitation from  Elsevier for writing an article on my research for their Electronic Science Portal It is then that, I put up an article “Eternally Collapsing Object” in SciTopics. However,  few days back, I received another email from Elsevier that they are going to wind up or rather lock up SciTopics, and the contributors would not be able to edit their articles after Oct. 31, 2011.

Then at the eleventh hour, I thought I would do some minor final updating for this article; but in hurry, I pressed the “delete” button, and it got lost for ever. I found that it had received more than 1100 hits in the past 18 months and got disappointed in not being able to retrieve it. Nonetheless, now I find that, the article is still available in google cache, though shorn off its link to SciTopics. -Here, I reproduce the body of this article from google cache:


An “Eternally Collapsing Object” (ECO) is a hot ball of ultra-compact self-gravitating plasma. It is so compact that even photons and neutrinos tend to move in closed circular orbits within it and find it extremely difficult to escape out of its gravitational clutch. The preceding compactification process renders it so hot that the associated radiation pressure (almost) counters the pull of self-gravity to help it remain in a quasi-static state. In a very strict sense, however, the object is always radiating and contracting at an infinitesimal rate and is striving to asymptotically attain the true Black Hole (BH) state. This is the reason behind the epithet “eternally collapsing”.

This degree of ultra-compactness of an ECO is expressed by the fact that its surface gravitational red-shift z »1. In contrast, the Sun has z ~ 2×10 -6, a typical White Dwarf has z~2x 10 -5 -10 -4 and a Neutron Star has z~ 0.15. On the other hand, a Schwarzschild/Hilbert Black Hole (BH) has z=∞ The radius of an ECO is practically equal to that of a supposed Black Hole of same mass: i.e., R=R s=2GM/c 2, the Schwarzschild/Hilbert radius.

In view of the fact that an ECO has z»1, to a far away observer, it resembles a BH in many respects and accordingly it is a proposed alternative to the concept of a `Black Hole’. Despite such apparent similarities with a BH, there are important differences between an ECO and a finite mass Black Hole:

1. All matter in a static Black Hole is believed to be concentrated in a point like central singularity where both density ρ=∞ and the tidal gravitational field or the Kretshmann scalar K=∞. Otherwise, the region of the BH extending up to the Event Horizon (R=R s) is empty and without any matter or radiation. In contrast, as mentioned in the beginning, an ECO is filled with plasma and radiation. Further though both ρ and K could be very high for an ECO, they are finite and there is no physical singularity.

2. Also unlike a Black Hole, an ECO has a physical surface at R≈R s. But unlike a Neutron Star, the ECO surface is soft rather than hard. Consequently matter falling onto an ECO just merges with the pre-existing plasma without generating much accretion luminosity or Type I X-ray bursts.

3. A neutral Black Hole has no intrinsic magnetic moment. In contrast, an ECO being an ultra-comprssed astrophysical plasma, must have strong intrinsic magnetic field. Accordingly, a spinning ECO behaves like an extremely relativistic pulsar though steep spacetime curvature around the ECO obliterates the intrinsic pulsations. A spinning ECO is likely to have a magnetosphere and is thus often mentioned as “Magnetospheric ECO” or “MECO”.

The term “ECO” was first coined by the Indian astrophysicist Abhas Mitra in 1998 though the idea of ECO got developed later. In particular, American astrophysicists Stanley Robertson, Darryl Leiter, Rudy Schild and Norman K. Glendenning too contributed to the developments of the idea of an ECO.

An ECO may also be considered as an extremely relativistic version of a Radiation Pressure Supported Star (RPSS) first conceived by Hoyle and Fowler in 1963. In 2006, Mitra showed that if one would allow the RPSSs to be extremely relativistic, i.e., z>>1, then radiation pressure supported stars are possible for arbitrary mass, high or low.

In 2010, Mitra and Glendenning showed that , during continued collapse, as a massive collapsing star would enter its photon sphere (z> √3 -1) in its attempt to form a true Black Hole with z=∞, it would start trapping its own radiation in a dramatic fashion as ~(1+z) 2 . As a result, a stage will be arrived at an appropriate high z»1, where trapped radiation flux would attain its Eddington Value and the collapse would degenerate into an eternal quasistatic contraction.

This above mentioned concept of an ECO is based only on standard General Relativitstic ingredients such as radiation trapping & Vaidya metric and the astrophysical concept of an “Eddington Luminosity”. Since no new assumption/hypothesis is invoked at all, the concept of an ECO is no new theory, either mainstream or fringe!

However, this concept of an ECO got strengthened by the following later theoretical developments:

First, radiative gravitational collapse avoids trapped surface formation (Mitra 2009a), i.e., the ECO surface radius R(t)≥R s(t) even though both R (t) and R s(t) are shrinking ever. As a result an ECO always hovers just above its Schwarzschild/Hilbert radius and never plunges within the same.

Further there is an independent exact mathematical proof that the true Black Holes have necessarily zero gravitational mass (Mitra 2009b). This means that the so-called Black Hole candidates (or anything else with a finite mass) cannot be true Black Holes. Thus the concept of an ECO with z»1 and which is eternally contracting and radiating to attain a true Black Hole state having z=∞ and M=0 actually provides the missing link between the formation of a photon-sphere and a true Event Horizon. Note, the fact that M=0 for a true BH means that K~M -4 =∞ at the EH. And this resolves the century old mystery: why acceleration blows up at the EH and nothing can escape out of the EH.

In addition, it has also been shown recently that the Active Gravitational Mass Density of a quasistatic sphere decreases rather than increases with its pressure p; ρ g = ρ-3p/c 2 (Mitra2010). Therefore as an ECO would tend to become a perfect ball of radiation with p=(1/3)ρ c 2and z=∞, its ρ g= ρ -3p/c 2.→0, so that its gravitational mass M→0 in perfect accordance with the result that a true Black Hole has z=∞ and M=0.

Hence, contrary to the likely misinterpretation, the concept of an ECO is actually in perfect conformity with the exact solution for a Schwarzschild/Hilbert Black Hole.

The mean local temperature of an ECO is T≈600 MeV (M/M solar-1/2. This means that stellar mass ECOs are so hot that the neutrons and protons with it are in the molten Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP) state.

In fact Schild, Leiter and Robertson have already provided strong evidence that the central compact object s of the well studied quasars Q0957+561 and Q2237+0305 have strong intrinsic magnetic moment implying lthem to be ECOs rather than true Black Holes.

Preliminary numerical computations of Cuesta, Salim and Santos have indicated that the collapse of a Newtonian supermassive star is likely to form an ECO rather than a true Black Hole.


  •  Cuesta H.J.M., Salim J.M., Santos N.O., 2005. 100 Years of Relativity, Sao Paulo, Brazil, CBPF-NF-011/05 (Link »)
  • Mitra A. & Glendenning N.K. (2006), A Secular Quark Gluon Plasma Preceding the Black Hole Formulation, Lawrence Berkley National Lab. Preprint No. . LBNL-59320 (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. & Glendenning, N.K. (2010). Likely formation of general relativistic radiation pressure supported stars or eternally collapsing objects. MNRAS Lett. , 404(1), L50-L54, (arXiv:1003.3518) (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2005). Magnetospheric Eternally Collapsing Objects: Likely New Class of Source of Cosmic Particle Acceleration. Proc. 29th Int. Cos. Ray Conf. OG. Vol 3, :125-128; (arXiv:physics/ 0506183) (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2006a). Radiation pressure supported stars in Einstein gravity: eternally collapsing objects. MNRAS, 369: 492-496, (arXiv:gr-qc/0603055) (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2006b). Sources of stellar energy, Einstein Eddington timescale of gravitational contraction and eternally collapsing objects. New Astronomy, 12( 2): 146-160; (arXiv:astro-ph/0608178) (Link »)
  •  Mitra, A. (2006c). Why gravitational contraction must be accompanied by emission of radiation in both Newtonian and Einstein gravity. Physical Review D, 74(2): 024010; (arXiv:gr-qc/0605066) (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2006d). On the non-occurrence of Type I X-ray bursts from the black hole candidates. Advances in Space Research, Volume 38(12,): 2917-2919; (arXiv:astro- ph/0510162) (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2006e). A Generic Relationship Between Baryonic and Radiative Energy Densities of Stars. Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc. (Lett.), 367: L66-69 (gr-qc/0601025) (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2006f). Black Holes or Eternally Collapsing Objects: A Review of 90 Years of Misconceptions’ ‘ in Focus on Black Hole Research , (Nova Science, New York, 2006) ; Invited Book Chapter, 1-94 (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2006g)., Masses of radiation pressure supported stars in extreme relativistic realm. Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union (2006), 2:409- 410 Cambridge University Press (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2009a). Quantum Information Paradox: Real or Fictitious? Pramana, 73(3): 615 (arXiv:0911.3584) (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2009b). Comments on “The Euclidean gravitational action as black hole entropy, singularities, and space-time voids [J. Math. Phys. 49, 042501 (2008) . J. Math. Phys. 50(4): 042502.( arXiv:0904.4754) (Link »)
  • Mitra, A. (2010). Does Pressure Increase or Decrease Active Gravitational Mass? Phys. Lett. B., 685(1): 8-11
  • Robertson, S.L. and Leiter D., (2002). Evidence for Intrinsic Magnetic Moments in Black Hole Candidates. Astrophys. J., 565: 447 (Link »)
  • Robertson, S.L. and Leiter D., (2004). On the origin of the universal radio- X-ray luminosity correlation in black hole candidates. MNRAS, 350: 1391 (Link »)
  • Robertson, S.L., and Leiter D., (2003). On Intrinsic Magnetic Moments in Black Hole Candidates. Astrophys. J. Lett., 596: L203 (Link »)
  • Robertson, S.L., and Leiter D., (2003). Does Sgr A* Have an Intrinsic Magnetic Moment Instead of an Event Horizon? Journal of Cosmology: Vol 6, 1438-1472. (Link »)
  • Schild, R.E., Leiter, D.J. (2010).Black Hole or MECO? Decided by a Thin Luminous Ring Structure Deep Within Quasar Q0957. Journal of Cosmology: Vol 6, 1400 – 1437. (Link »)
  • Schild, R.E., Leiter, D.J., and Robertson S.L., (2006). Observations Supporting the Existence of an Intrinsic Magnetic Moment inside the Central Compact Object within the Quasar Q0957+ 561. Astron. J. 132: 420 (Link »)
  • Schild, R.E., Leiter, D.J., and Robertson S.L., (2008). Direct Microlensing- Reverberation Observations of the Intrinsic Magnetic Structure of Active Galactic Nuclei in Different Spectral States: A Tale of Two Quasars. Astron. J., 135(3): 947 (Link »)


Trouble For “Dark Energy”?

The 2011 Nobel Prize  in Physics was due to the research which found (since 1998) that far off Type Ia Supernovae appear to be somewhat faint if their Luminosity Distances would be interpreted in terms of the standard (the then) Big Bang Model. And this was thought to be indicating that the far off galaxies are actually farther off; as if space expanded more than what was expected.  Attendant  conclusion  was that  the space must be accelerating so that the embedded galaxies acquire that extra luminosity distance. Thus in 1998, the present version of the Big Bang Model called  “Lambda Cold Dark Matter” was born; here “Lambda” stands for Einstein’s “Cosmological Constant” or equivalently: “Dark Energy”.

This  interpretation that the universe is undergoing an ACCELERATED expansion rather than deceleration is however  based on several tacit assumptions like:

  • Type Ia supernovae are Standard Candles, i.e;. they all have same intrinsic luminosity
  • They explode in a spherically symmetric manner
  • The light coming from them are not attenuated by Lyman-Alpha clouds or inter galactic dusts or by likely atmosphere of planets (still undetected) along the line of sight:

And it is  this supposed ACCELERATED EXPANSION, interpreted in the paradigm of Big-Bang cosmology,  which gave rise to the concept of  “Dark Energy”, an unseen and undetected energy with the mysterious  property that it is associated with NEGATIVE pressure. In contrast, al the other forms of “Energy” we know of, at least, in the context of classical physics, generate POSITIVE pressure.

In turn, it is this fictitious “NEGATIVE” pressure associated with the “DARK ENERGY” which is supposed to be pulling the space apart and forcing it to  accelerate when one would expect that the, after the initial explosion,  cosmic debris would slow down due to their mutual gravitational attraction.

And here is a paper, published in today’s which claims that Type Ia supernovae need not have fixed luminosity. This finding questions the first & the second ASSUMPTIONs behind the idea of exotic “Dark Energy”.

Date: Wed, 26 Oct 2011 14:58:53 GMT   (1324kb)

Title: Evidence for Type Ia Supernova Diversity from Ultraviolet Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope

Authors: Xiaofeng Wang et al. (Almost 50 authors)
Categories: astro-ph.HE astro-ph.CO

Comments: 15 pages, 12 figures, submitted to ApJ
We present ultraviolet (UV) spectroscopy and photometry of four Type Ia supernovae (SNe 2004dt, 2004ef, 2005M, and 2005cf) obtained with the UV prismof the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope. This dataset provides unique spectral time series down to 2000 Angstrom. Significant diversity is seen in the near maximum-light spectra (~ 2000–3500 Angstrom) for this small sample. The corresponding photometric data, together with archival data from Swift Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope observations, provide further evidence of increased dispersion in the UV emission with respect to the optical. The peak luminosities measured in uvw1/F250W are found to correlate with the B-band light-curve shape parameter dm15(B), but with much larger scatter relative to the correlation in the broad-band B band (e.g., ~ 0.4 mag versus ~0.2 mag for those with 0.8 < dm15 < 1.7 mag). SN 2004dt is found as an outlier of this correlation (at > 3 sigma), being brighter than normal SNe~Ia such as SN 2005cf by ~0.9 mag and ~2.0 mag in the uvw1/F250W and uvm2/F220W filters, respectively. We show that different progenitor metallicity or line-expansion velocities alone cannot explain such a large discrepancy. Viewing-angle effects, such as due to an asymmetric explosion, may have a significant influence on the flux emitted in the UV region. Detailed modeling is needed to disentangle and quantify the above effects.


In 2009, I tried to see whether the total energy of the Big Bang Universe is indeed conserved or not:
“Einstein energy associated with the Friedmann-Robertson-Walker Metric”
A. Mitra, General Relativity and Gravitation, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp.443-469 (2010)
To my surprise, I found that Big – Bang badly violates the revered principle of conservation of energy. Here I also probed where a vacuum universe made of pure “Dark Energy” (Cosmological Constant = Lambda) would honor this cornerstone of physics. But I found that even here energy would not be conserved unless one would have
I had done  this and additional studies way back in 2008; and on the basis of them, I had argued in my talk  in the International Symposium on Experimental Gravitation January 5th – 9th 2009, organized by Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, India that there should be no Dark Energy on purely theoretical grounds irrespective of indirect observational interpretations to the contrary:
  • Arto Annila, Physics Professor at the University of Helsinki has just published a paper  in a recent issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

and which claims  that the supernovae data does not imply that the universe is undergoing an accelerating expansion.

He however claims that light moves following Fermat’s Principle of Least Time and which need not imply Inverse Square Law of Dilution of light intensity:

The principle of least time

As Annila explains, when a ray of light travels from a distant star to an observer’s telescope, it travels along the path that takes the least amount of time. This well-known physics principle is called Fermat’s principle or the principle of least time. Importantly, the quickest path is not always the straight path. Deviations from a straight path occur when light propagates through media of varying energy densities, such as when light bends due to refraction as it travels through a glass prism.

Here is the abstract of his paper:

“The variational principle in its original form á la Maupertuis is used to delineate paths of light through varying energy densities and to associate shifts in frequency and changes in momentum. The gravitational bending and Doppler shift are in this way found as mere manifestations of least-time energy dispersal. In particular, the general principle of least action due to Maupertuis accounts for the brightness of Type 1a supernovae versus redshift without introducing extraneous parameters or invoking conjectures such as dark energy. Likewise, the least-time principle explains the gravitational lensing without the involvement of additional ingredients such as dark matter. Moreover, time delays along curved geodesics relative to straight paths are obtained from the ratio of the local to global energy density. According to the principle of least action the Universe is expanding uniformly due to the irrevocable least-time consumption of diverse forms of bound energy to the lowest form of energy, i.e. the free electromagnetic radiation.”

Surely this would raise many questions. For details see:

Eternally Collapsing Objects

An Eternally Collapsing Object (ECO) is a compact star that resembles a ball of fire; and it is so hot that its radiation helps it stay put despite its intense pull of gravity. Being extremely compact, ECOs mimic mathematical “Black Holes” in many ways, but there are observational reasons to believe that the so-called astrophysical “Black Holes” are really ECOs:The eruptions and jet formations from the black hole candidates are better understood if they are indeed hot balls of fire rather than a cold piece of vacuum with an imaginary surface from which “nothing, not even light can escape”.
ECOs however asymptotically shrink towards the mathematical Black Hole state of infinite compactness.

Suppose a massive spherical star started collapsing due to its own weight. Then by Newtonian physics, sooner or later,  in a FINITE time, the entire star material should collapse to a geometrical point forming a SINGULARITY  where density of matter and strength of / are infinite. It  must be so because in Newtonian physical space -time has an absolute meaning and the (initial)  actual/locally measured  radius of the star, say R0,  is Fixed & Finite:

In contrast, in Einstein’s “General Relativity” (GR),  in the presence of gravity, the actual interior  or  PROPER radius (L)  is always larger than the externally perceived radius (R); i.e., L =  a R > R, because a>1.  Furthermore, the value of   “a”  will always increase if  the strength of self-gravity will increase; i.e., if the star would get more compact.  In fact, in strong gravity, similar stretching  (dilation)  happens for  time intervals too.  In this sense, in GR,  space-time is like a rubber membrane which gets stretched with the increase of gravity:

Therefore, there is no a-priori certainty that a Newtonian type singularity must occur for GR collapse. Despite this , even after the introduction of GR, most general relativists believe  in essentially the same Newtonian picture of gravitational collapse  by which collapsing matter must converge in a point like singularity in a finite ( proper/ physically measured) time.  This is unfortunately the case though not only  Einstein himself,  but  also many great physicists like

Sir Arthur Eddington, the best theoretical astrophysicist ever, Sir Paul Dirac (Nobel Laureate), one of the finest theoretical physicists ever,

Nathan Rosen and many others argued that this picture must be incorrect and the star must not collapse beyond what is known as its “Schwarzschild Radius”:

Here G is the gravitational constant and c is the speed of the light. For a star like the Sun, the Rs ~3 km and for star ten times more massive, Rs ~30 km.

In particular,  Dirac’s comment made in Proc. Royal Soc. (London) A 270, 354 (1962),  was:

“The mathematics can go beyond the Schwarzschild Radius and get inside, but I would maintain that this inside region is not physical space, because to send a signal inside and get it out again would take an infinite time, so I feel that the space inside the  Schwarzschild radius must belong to a different universe and should not be taken into account in any physical theory”.

Such objections however got ignored because of two misleading mathematical developments, and effectively mathematics beat physics:

1.  In 1939, two American physicists J.R. Oppenheimer & H. Snyder APPARENTLY showed that for general relativistic collapse of a DUST (a fictitious form of matter having no pressure at all!), not only does the DUST collapse to a singularity but a Black Hole (BH) is formed whose imaginary surface lies at Rs  and nothing can escape from within this surface, now called, an Event Horizon [1].

2.  Further, in 1965, while studying generic gravitational collapse, Sir Roger Penrose, a highly regarded mathematical physicist, ASSUMED that for continued gravitational collapse, sooner or later, a one way trap – door will form, and once the collapsing matter would enter this trap-door it will be doomed to hurtle inwards  no matter how much powerful rocket it would employ  to escape [2]. He essentially ASSUMED that at the advanced stages of collapse,  any section of the star having mass M and radius R, must plunge within its running Schwarzschild radius:

R(t)  < 2 G M(t)/c2  (1)

Obviously, this idea was a sort of generalization of the concept of the  formation of   an “Event Horizon” and got known as  a “TRAPPED SURFACE”. Once this ASSUMPTION was made, then under reasonable physical conditions, the collapsing matter must again end up in a singularity, as intended. Ideally, Penrose should have proved the inevitability of  the formation of  a trapped surface. But instead, he just ASSUMED the crucial Eq.(1)  which he was expected to prove or at least  attempt to prove! Nevertheless,  post 1965, most of  the mathematical relativists  adopted  the same ASSUMPTION. If a singularity will indeed form, the space-time membrane, after the initial dip, would suddenly be pinched off and stellar matter would  hit the  BOTTOM of the pit:

It appears that, only one  humble mathematical physicist Kriele  offered a proof that at least for a homogeneous sphere, there cannot be any trapped surface [3] . Unfortunately, Kriele could publish his result only in an  obscure journal and maybe  sensing trouble, he himself NEVER cited his important result!

Given this backdrop, in 1998,  completely unaware of Kriele’s work,  I showed that spherical GR collapse cannot form “trapped surfaces”  irrespective of whether the sphere is homogeneous or not.  I  published my proof  in peer reviewed journal first in 2000 [4] and in a broader context later [5,6].    Note, if a trapped surface did not exist, then in principle, collapsing matter could form
(i) Quasi-static Objects (Chandrasekhar mass limit becomes irrelevant for very hot stars),
(ii) Rebound due to heat , radiation or pressure, or
(iii) Simply keep on contracting indefinitely!

As already mentioned, while the last option is absurd in Newtonian physics, it is not so in GR.  As gravity increases, the space-time membrane elongates/dips and forms a pit; a particle undergoing collapse has to slide down this membrane into the pit. And if indeed the strength of gravity would grow indefinitely  (a–> Infinity) during continued collapse, then the


If so, continued gravitational collapse should indeed become ETERNAL without the formation of a true singularity.  Consequently, objects undergoing continued general relativistic collapse should end up as “Eternally Collapsing/Contracting Objects” rather than as Black Holes or “Naked Singularities” (Singularities not covered by any Event Horizon).

Later as  I interacted  with several American astrophysicists like Darryl Leiter , Stanley Robertson [7] and Norman Glendenning, it became clear that as the contracting object would become hotter and hotter under gravitational compression, the Radiation Pressure would become so strong that it would almost counter balance the inward pull of gravity. And it is in this way that  ECOs  conceived in 1998 could be realized  in real life [8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Thus ECOs are

Extremely Hot and Relativistic Radiation Pressure Supported Stars

whose radius  hovers  just above the  INSTANTANEOUS “Schwarzschild Radius” as conceived by Einstein, Eddington, Dirac, Rosen and many other great physicists.

These quasi-static ECOs are however always radiating (unlike true black holes) and losing mass energy by  the E= Mc2 formula. Suppose  as a given ECO radiates  and its mass decreases, it contracts by 1cm. But as it contracts, its gravity becomes bit stronger and dips the rubber membrane of internal space may be by 1.1 cm. Thus it becomes a hopeless  unending chase for singularity.

Recall that the Acceleration Due to Gravity  as measured by any static observer on the Event Horizon of a black hole is g=Infinity (limitless).

(And this is the reason,  why nothing can escape  from within the EH)

Similarly, gravitational red-shift of the EH, as seen by a distant observer too is infinite: z=Infinity (unbounded, limitless)

This means that, even if an extremely energetic gamma-ray photon would start its journey near the EH, its energy would reduce by a factor of (1+z) as it would reach the distant astronomer. And since z=∞, no energy would reach the astronomer, and he would see the EH as black.

In contrast, on the surface of an ECO, ” g’” and  “z” are extremely large, may be thousands or even million times larger than the corresponding values for a Pulsar/Neutron Star which is supposed to be an extremely compact star (object). Accordingly, to a distant observer an ECO appears almost as a “black hole” though it has a physical surface made of hot plasma (fire) unlike the fictitious mathematical surface of a black hole (Event Horizon).  As mentioned, it is the relentless heating due to extreme gravitational compression which makes the ECO essentially a “Ball of Fire”.


In classical physics, an absolute ground  state is characterized by E=0 . So, if a star would really become “dead” and the “singularity” would be its “dead body”  or the absolute ground state, then the singularity too should have

          E=Mc2 = 0; i.e.,  M=0::  Expected Mass of Singularity

Now recall that, the interior of an ASSUMED   (static) BH is swept clear of all matter/radiation because nothing  can stay put inside its  ”trapped region”, and the “singularity” is the only source of  matter/energy. Thus it is expected that a (neutral) BH may have unique mass M=0!  And indeed it was found that though the mathematical “black hole”  solution is a correct one, BHs nevertheless have unique gravitational mass M=0 [13, 14].

Note, in GR, an occurrence of M=0 need not mean absence of matter! This is so because gravitational mass is the sum total of all sources of energy including the NEGATIVE self-gravitational energy. Thus, an occurrence of M=0 may  imply that the (negative) self-gravitation has been so extreme that it has off-set the all other sources of energy like rest mass-energy of protons, neutrons constituting the star and all internal energies (heat, pressure etc).

And such a proof confirms that the so-called BLACK HOLE CANDIDATES having huge masses cannot be true black holes.

In effect the ECOs strive to become true mathematical black holes which have the unique mass M=0 [13]. However, an ECO never succeeds to attain this state. As an ECO continues to slide down self-created pit, the pit gets deeper and deeper, i.e. the depth increases eternally :

Actually, near the  singularity,” a” tends to blow up making interior radius L too blow up! Simultaneously, both “g” and “z” –> Infinity. Thus as if every sphere would internally  be stretched to Infinity if self-gravitation would push them towards gravitational singularity. Although such a scenario is weird, absurd from the point of view of Newtonian gravity,  it is plausible in GR;  as if all objects contain an Infinity within themselves!

Note, in principle, one should solve Einstein’s equations analytically to see whether singularities are indeed formed or not. Unfortunately, even the infinitely simplified Newtonian collapse equations cannot be solved analytically (or numerically, without many simplified assumptions) because one does not know the exact equation of state of matter and radiation transportation properties at extreme high density and temperature. Thus, so far no-body has analytically solved Einstein’s equations for truly realistic cases (without making various assumptions) to show that singularities are formed! And only way one can solve collapse equations analytically and without making convenient simplifications is by setting pressure=0! Of course, one must not hope that such an extreme unrealistic assumption would ever lead to a true physical picture.

In hindsight, Penrose overlooked that

(a)     Gravitational collapse must be radiative,  and the value of  M and Rs must keep on decreasing [15], and there is no fixed goal post which collapsing matter can target

(b)   Also, unlike what he ASSUMED, pressure always decreases effective gravity and  continues to oppose collapse in general relativity as it does so in Newtonian gravity [16].

Effectively,  at least for a spherical case,  Penrose assumed gravitational free fall of the star by ignoring resistive effects like pressure gradient and radiation/ heat flow etc.

In fact what Roger Penrose,  John Wheeler and many GR experts forgot was the intuitive comments by none other than Oppenheimer & Snyder THEMSELVES before they embarked on the idealistic, unrealistic computation about gravitational collapse:

Physically such a singularity would mean that the expressions used for the energy-momentum tensor does not take into account some essential physical fact which would really smooth the singularity out. Further, a star in its early stages of development would not possess a singular density or pressure, it is impossible for a singularity to develop in a finite time.

And may be  research works cited here  have indeed substantiated the above comment made in 1939 by the persons who are (incorrectly) credited with proving the inevitability of formations of “Black Holes’’ and “Singularities’’ in GR!

Incidentally, in 2011,  it was shown that even the apparent formation of “Trapped Surface” and “Black Hole” in Oppenheimer & Snyder Collapse was only a mathematical illusion and physically it does not correspond to any gravitational collapse at all as because when pressure is strictly zero, density too is zero, and there is no matter, no gravity [17]!


Most of the stars we know of, resist their gravity by means of gas pressure, i.e., the pressure due to electrons, ions and atoms. But, in the 1960s,   Sir Fred Hoyle, who many believe should have got the Nobel not once but twice,  and Nobel Laureate William Fowler  first pointed out that stars can be supported by radiation pressure alone if they would be sufficiently hot:


They went on to suggest that QUASARS contain such hot  RPSSs  rather than true BHs. Similarly, ECOs too are hot RPSSs. But there are important differences:

The RPSSs conceived by Hoyle & Fowler  were  strictly static Newtonian stars (z <<1), and their power source was ascribed to central thermonuclear energy generation having an efficiency < 1%   a la Sun; and the possibility of power generation by slow gravitational contraction was ignored.  Thus the RPSSs of Hoyle & Fowler were perceived to run out of nuclear fuel.

In contrast, ECOs  get their luminosity simply by releasing part of the gravitational energy by means of infinitesimal  slow contraction:

As the star contracts and becomes more compact, its negative gravitational potential energy becomes even more negative. Then, in order to conserve total energy, the star creates additional positive energy. Part of this positive energy makes the star even hotter, and the rest of it is radiated away, a process explained independently by Lord Kelvin &  Hermann von Helmholtz approx. 150 years ago:

The net  energy which can be tapped in this way is 100%:

E0=M0 c

the initial mass-energy of the star.  In this case, there is no need for invoking any specific fuel! Furthermore ECOs are dynamic solutions and they are extremely relativistic with z>>1.

As the exterior radius of the contracting star R(t) shrinks, Rs = 2GM(t)/c2     too shrinks (very slowly)  because of loss of mass by radiation.  So as if there is a perennial chase R(t) –>Rs = 2GM(t) /c2  ,  and by the time R(t) would catch up with  Rs,  both would  attain nil values as  the final ground state must correspond to    E=Mc2 =0.  Yet, it is likely that L(t)= a(t) R(t)–>∞, because a(t) –>∞  infinitely fast!



1. “On Continued Gravitational Contraction’’

J.R. Snyder & H. Snyder, Physical Review, vol. 56, Issue 5, pp. 455-459 (1939)

2. “Gravitational Collapse and Space-Time Singularities’’

R. Penrose, Physical Review Letters, vol. 14, Issue 3, pp. 57-59 (1965)


M. Kriele, Rend. Sem. Mat. Univ. Poi. Torino, Vol. 50, 1 (1992)


4. “Non-occurrence of trapped surfaces and Black Holes in spherical gravitational collapse: An abridged version”

A. Mitra, Foundations of Physics Letters, Vol. 13 , pp. 543 (2000); eprint arXiv:astro-ph/9910408

5. “On the final state of spherical gravitational collapse”

A. Mitra, Foundations of Physics Letters, Volume 15, Issue 5, pp.439-471 (2000); eprint (arXiv:astro-ph/0207056)

6. “Quantum Information Paradox: Real or Fictitious?”

A. Mitra, Pramana, Vol. 73, pp. 615 (2009); eprint arXiv:0911.3518

7. “Does The Principle Of Equivalence Prevent Trapped Surfaces From Being Formed In The General Relativistic Collapse Process?”

D. Leiter & S.L. Robertson, Foundations of Physics Letters for February 2003 ;

8.  “A generic relation between baryonic and radiative energy densities of stars’’

A. Mitra, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, Volume 367, Issue 1, pp. L66-L68 (2006); arXiv:gr-qc/0601025

9. “Radiation pressure supported stars in Einstein gravity: eternally collapsing objects”

A. Mitra, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 369, Issue 1, pp. 492-496 (2006); (arXiv:gr-qc/0603055)


10. “Sources of stellar energy, Einstein Eddington timescale of gravitational contraction and eternally collapsing objects”

A. Mitra, New Astronomy, Volume 12, Issue 2, p. 146-160 (2006); (arXiv:astro-ph/0608178)


11.“ Likely formation of general relativistic radiation pressure supported stars or `eternally collapsing objects”

A. Mitra, “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, Volume 404, Issue 1, pp. L50-L54 (2010); (arXiv:1003.3518)


12. “Black Holes or Eternally Collapsing Objects: A Review of 90 Years of Misconceptions’’

A. Mitra, in Focus on Black Hole Research, edited by Paul V. Kreitler. ISBN 1-59454-460-3. Published by Nova Science Publishers, Inc., NY, pp.1-94 (2006)

13. Comments on “The Euclidean gravitational action as black hole entropy, singularities, and space-time voids”

A. Mitra, Journal of Mathematical Physics, Volume 50, Issue 4, pp. 042502-042502-3 (2009).; (arXiv:0904.4754)

14. “ On the non-occurrence of Type I X-ray bursts from the black hole candidates”

A. Mitra, Advances in Space Research, Volume 38, Issue 12, p. 2917-2919 (2006); (arXiv:astro-ph/0510162)

15. “Why gravitational contraction must be accompanied by emission of radiation in both Newtonian and Einstein gravity’’

A. Mitra, Physical Review D, Vol. 74, Issue 2, id. 024010 (2006); (arXiv:gr-qc/0605066)

16. Does pressure increase or decrease active gravitational mass density

A. Mitra, Physics Letters B, Volume 685, Issue 1, p. 8-11 (2010)

17. “The fallacy of Oppenheimer Snyder collapse: no general relativistic collapse at all, no black hole, no physical singularity”

A. Mitra, Astrophysics and Space Science, Volume 332, Issue 1, pp.43-48 (2011); (arXiv:1101.0601)


TRIVIA:  From the Nobel Citation of  Louis de Broglie who was crazy enough to claim that electrons behave like waves as well:

“When quite young, you threw yourself into the controversy raging over the most profound problem in physics. You had the boldness to assert, without the support of any evidence whatsoever, that matter had not only a corpuscular nature but also a wave nature. Experiments came later and established the correctness of your view.”