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Cosmic clocks, cosmic variance and cosmic averages

Authors: David L. Wiltshire

Comments: 72 pages, 5 figures, typos fixed; further summary at this http URL

Cosmic acceleration is explained quantitatively, purely in general relativity, as an apparent effect due to quasilocal gravitational energy differences that arise in the decoupling of bound systems from the global expansion of the universe. "Dark energy" is recognised as a misidentification of those aspects of gravitational energy which by virtue of the equivalence principle cannot be localised, namely gradients in the energy associated with the expansion of space and spatial curvature variations in an inhomogeneous universe, as we observe. Gravitational energy differences between observers in bound systems, such as galaxies, and volume-averaged comoving locations within voids in freely expanding space can be so large that the time dilation between the two significantly affects the parameters of any effective homogeneous isotropic model one fits to the universe. A new approach to cosmological averaging is presented, which implicitly solves the Sandage-de Vaucouleurs paradox. When combined with a nonlinear scheme for cosmological evolution with back-reaction via the Buchert equations, a new observationally viable quantitative model of the universe is obtained. The expansion age is increased, allowing more time for structure formation. The baryon density fraction obtained from primordial nucleosynthesis bounds can be significantly larger, yet consistent with primordial lithium abundance measurements. The angular scale of the first Doppler peak in the CMB anisotropy spectrum fits the new model despite an average negative spatial curvature at late epochs, resolving the anomaly associated with ellipticity in the CMB anisotropies. A number of other testable consequences are discussed, with the potential to profoundly change the whole of theoretical and observational cosmology. [Abridged]