Here's quite a nice overview of the computer model built at MIT to recreate thirteen billion years of the evolution of the universe.
Very pretty stuff.
But more and more I find myself thinking of celestial spheres. In classical times it was thought that the stars all rested on the surface of a sphere. The complex motions of the planets were explained by assuming that each was embedded in its own, independently moving transparent sphere. (Made of quintessence -- but let's not go there today.)
This system worked well enough, particularly after Copernicus placed the Sun at the center of everything. But only just well enough. As the measurements of planetary orbits got better and better, deviance from predicted results had to be explained away. To the orderly cycles were added epicycles and eccentrics. Angels were recruited to keep the things spinning. The machinery kept getting more and more complicated.
Meanwhile, troublemakers like Tycho Brahe discovered that comets passed effortlessly through these supposedly crystal spheres.
It wasn't until Johannes Kepler scrapped the entire system (well, almost all -- he kept the outermost celestial sphere so the stars would have a place to perch on) in favor of celestial mechanics that it all made sense again.
So every time I hear about the necessity of dark matter to make the numbers line up right, or the need for dark energy to explain observed phenomena, or that the rate of expansion for the universe is speeding up, or that in the early stages of cosmic evolution the whole shebang moved faster than the speed of light, or that "Einstein's greatest blunder," the cosmological constant, has been yet again added to or subtracted from our understanding of the Way Things Are . . .
Well. I just have to wonder if we're not missing something very simple and counterintuitive.
After all, how can the planets keep from falling down if they're not embedded in crystal spheres?
And . . .
Stephen Notley, the cartoonist-creator of Bob the Angry Flower did a much more succinct critique of the currently accepted model of cosmology in a cartoon titled CREATION: A Science Story. You can find it here.