On Tue, 04 Oct 2005 11:52:34 -0400, John Deer <JD@nowhere.com> wrote:

Here is my attempt to answer along with references that you can dig

into to get more meat regarding your specific question.

The prevailing cosmological theory (i.e. the Big Bang) is largely

based on a mathematical model of the Universe called the Lambda-CDM

model:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambda-CDM_model

This model has been developed over the years from observational data

and the input of many scientists. However, this is only a model of the

Universe and is only useful as long as the model makes predictions

that can be verified from observational data.

WMAP provided a data set that allowed astronomers to test the

predictions of the Lambda-CDM model at a scale and resolution

previously unavailable from various other cosmic background radiation

maps.

The WMAP team, and various other scientists I assume, analyzed the

WMAP data and combined it with other available observational data

sets. What they came up with among many things are these graphs:

http://lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov/product/...pectrum_ss.gif

Parent page:

http://lambda.gsfc.nasa.gov/product/...t/m_images.cfm

As others have stated in this thread, the graph shows the relationship

of the observed spectral variations in the WMAP (and other) data for

the cosmic background radiation. The red line shows the curve that is

generated for the Lambda-CDM model using the parameters identified by

the WMAP team as the best fit.

Back to the Lambda-CDM model, the six main parameters (again read the

Wikipedia reference above) "measured" by the WMAP team result in a

mathematical prediction of the age of the Universe. An example of how

the various ratios of dark energy and dark matter affect the

calculation of the age of the Universe is illustrated here:

http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_uni/101bb2_1.html

You may ask: where is the affect of ordinary matter in the graph?

Well, the amount of ordinary matter according to the Lambda-CDM model

is so insignificant as to be practically inconsequential!

So, observing the red line of the expansion graph (using the currently

preferred ratios derived from WMAP) shows it intersects the zero

Universe size at approximately 13-14 billion years.

Note that the red line also shows that the Universe will expand

forever.

Does this mean that the determination by the WMAP is not open to

revision or challenge? Of course not. But any competing theory has to

also account for the observed data and offer a model that can make

testable predictions as well or better than the current model(s) such

as the Lambda-CDM.

We had a local astronomy professor visit our astro club last fall and

present two detailed talks about the WMAP data and the implications

for cosmology. He had several interactive computer programs which

would allow him to input the various parameters and show the resulting

graphs. It was great fun to "play god" with the parameters and watch

how the Universe responded! ;-)

---

Michael McCulloch