Thursday, February 13, 2014
At 9:40 PM CST Wednesday night the Kickstarter project HIT GOAL! Thank you backers! In a cold and dark time, we are bringing Light to the world. We have stretch goals, so there are still 3 days to back this project. Tell your friends!
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Light on a Cloudy Day
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
A Far Galaxy and the Speed of Light
Thursday, January 30, 2014
8 Days In
Thanks to backers, 8 days into the Kickstarter project we are already at 66 percent of goal. This will be the first book about the discovery that light is slowing down. All the data will be laid out,from supernovae, the Sun and Moon. There is only one equation in the whole book. Who can guess what it is?
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The Speed of Light
Many of you have expressed interest in my work about light, and I can't let you down. The latest book project on Kickstarter is THE SPEED OF LIGHT: Tell your friends that THE SPEED OF LIGHT changes everything!
Monday, January 06, 2014
LIGHT Update: 24 Hours
An update on the LIGHT book project: After years of writing, the project is doing well on Kickstarter with 24 hours to go. Mathematical models predict that we will barely reach goal, but all depends on the final surge. Thanks to backers like you, we may yet bring LIGHT to the world. My article on the movie GRAVITY is in the new Carnival of Space.
Sunday, January 05, 2014
The Universe of GRAVITY
Many of us who have worked in NASA love the movie GRAVITY. One of my NASA co-workers saw the movie 3 times in the first week! GRAVITY may go down in history as one of the top Space movies of all time, alongside 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Kubrick's vision of the year 2001 showed commercial flights to the Moon, a Moon base and a giant orbiting space station. GRAVITY showed us a future where the Space Shuttle is still flying and young women could still dream of being Shuttle astronauts. Like 2001, GRAVITY makes us wish to live in that alternate universe. In what year does GRAVITY take place? We hear that this is STS-157 when our Shuttle flights ended at STS-135. When the Shuttles were retired, there a plan was floated by a private entity to maintain two orbiters and a flight rate of 1-2 flights per year. This would allow US crews to reach ISS without being overly dependent on Russia. It would also allow missions that are impossible for Orion or Dragon, like Hubble repair or moving modules to a Space Station. After a stand-down of about 2 years, flights would resume around 2013. At 2 flights per year STS-157 would take place around year 2024. We know that GRAVITY takes place in the 2020's because China plans to launch their Space Station in that period. We don't see any Commercial Space Taxis in the movie, but they could be around. Commercial Space is right in front of our 3-D glasses, because a private entity operates the Space Shuttles. In this future other entities, both private and Chinese military, are in Space. The 2020's have also brought small improvements to Space Suits. The suits in the movie have helmet-mounted readouts and LCD wrist displays, which don't exist on the current Extravehicular Mobility Unit. The GRAVITY suits are more flexible, because we see Ryan Stone kicking her legs in panic! In this future new suits have replaced the EMU. The Mission of EXPLORER In GRAVITY, the Hubble Space Telescope is being repaired yet again. Does this mean that the James Webb Space Telescope, touted as Hubble's successor, has suffered delays or failure? We hope not, for JWST will look into an infrared spectrum that Hubble cannot, giving us glimpses into the early Universe. JWST's orbit at the Earth-Sun L2 point would allow it to escape the movie's orbital debris danger. JWST will not completely replace Hubble, for Hubble can still observe in optical and ultraviolet bands that Webb cannot. The Hubble would be valuable to astronomers if it could be saved. Telescope time, especially on Space telescopes, is scarce. There will always be more astronomers' projects than there is telescope time. The mission of Explorer is to preserve Hubble for the future. Hubble currently orbits at 360 miles above Earth's surface while while ISS orbits at about 220 miles. Many people have complained that GRAVITY shows astronauts escaping by EVA between them. This may also have been part of Explorer's mission. The Space Shuttle allows payloads like Hubble to be serviced and also moved. Another mission of Explorer was therefore to move Hubble to the orbit of ISS. The lower orbit would be above less of Earth's atmosphere and require more fuel to maintain, but would allow servicing from ISS when the Shuttle was not available. An International Future Viewers have also complained that a Chinese Space Station seems very close to ISS, but that may have been intentional. ISS is planned to deorbit sometime in the 2020's but China plans their own large Space Station. China has already expressed interest in other nations participating in its Station. Placing the Chinese Station near ISS would allow crew and equipment to be transferred between them. Potentially even whole modules of ISS could be moved to another Station. The movie GRAVITY shows a future where both private entities and other nations are in Space. It shows the capabilities of the Space Shuttle for repairing and moving the Hubble Space Telescope. The movie shows cooperation among nations in exploring Space. Finally it gives us young women a role model in Shuttle Astronaut Ryan Stone. Leaving the movie, we wish to live in her Universe.
Wednesday, January 01, 2014
Happy New Year! The LIGHT book project is at 50 percent of goal with less than 6 days to go. According to Kickstarter stats, 90 percent of projects that pass 40 reach their goal. Thanks for all your support. Best wishes in the New Year!
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Merry Christmas! As promised, a book has been completed about the speed of LIGHT. The Kickstarter project will go toward costs of placing the scientific paper free online and publishing the book: The project runs for two more weeks, so tell your friends!
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Mysterious Object in Saturn Rings
More from the AGU Fall Meeting in San Francisco: The Cassini spacecraft has discovered a mysterious object near the edge of Saturn's A Ring. The anomaly, nicknamed "Peggy," appears to be interacting with the ring material. Scientists are not sure whether Peggy is a small moon, a temporary vortex of particles, or something else. Wired article This would be an excellent place to seek another tiny Black Hole. Saturn's Rings could potentially be a sea of holes.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Rings Are Old, Old
From the huge American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco: Data from the Cassini spacecraft shows that Saturn's Rings are 4.4 billion years old, nearly as old as the solar system. Space.com article . Calculations show that without replenishment the Rings would erode away in less than 100 million years. On Enceladus Cassini has seen jets of volatiles erupt into Space to feed the E Ring. Saturn's Rings show conditions similar to the solar system's formation. The Ring system would be an excellent place to look for tiny Black Holes.
Friday, November 29, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving in the US! Here are more photos from this year's World Science Fiction Convention held in San Antonio, Texas. Someone was featured in a Fox News story on the Worldcon. The outfit seemed just right for the classic Star Trek bridge.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Who Is Having a Birthday!
The Tardis, Dalek and "The Brain of Morbius" at this year's World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio. Someone is wearing the wrong Sci Fi costume, but more about that in the next post. November 23 is the 50th anniversary of the very first DR WHO episode! Sadly it was overshadowed by the tragic events in Dallas on November 22. We are happy to say that the Doctor has reached his 50th birthday! The first episode was "An Unearthly Child" with William Hartnell as the Doctor. It begins with the Doctor's granddaughter Susan having trouble fitting in an English school. To a young Time Lady, the science taught in the school seems primitive! In 1963 scientists still disagreed whether the universe expanded or was forever in a "steady state". Discovery of the cosmic microwave background in 1965 convinced most that the universe evolved from a smaller, hotter state. Today the universities are teaching young minds about "inflation" and other "dark" energies. Today's science will someday seem very silly. TARDIS stands for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space. DR WHO has inspired many people to think of Space as a place of adventure full of fascinating and frightening creatures. Unlike most Sci Fi spaceships, the TARDIS can fade away and "teleport" itself through Space and Time without passing through the region between. It has also made us wonder whether Time and Space can be manipulated to teleport us to other worlds. After 3 years William Hartnell was replaced by Patrick Troughton. The producers came up with the innovative idea of having the Doctor "regenerate" into a new body. In a half-century we have now seen over a dozen actors (but no actresses) step into the role. The outgoing Matt Smith is the youngest Doctor yet. The Time Lords seem to have circumvented another effect of time, the ravages of age. From the April 1, 2010 issue of NEW SCIENTIST:
Time Lords discovered in California
"Time Lords walk among us. Two per cent of readers may be surprised to discover that they are members of an elite group with the power to perceive the geography of time.
"Sci-fi fans – Anglophile ones, at least – know that the coolest aliens in the universe are Time Lords: time-travelling humanoids with the ability to understand and perceive events throughout time and space. Now it seems that people with a newly described condition have a similar, albeit lesser ability: they experience time as a spatial construct.
"Synaesthesia is the condition in which the senses are mixed, so that a sound or a number has a colour, for example. In one version, the sense of touch evokes emotions.
To those variants we can now add time-space synaesthesia.
"In general, 'these individuals perceive months of the year in circular shapes, usually just as an image inside their mind's eye,' says David Brang of the department of psychology at the University of California, San Diego."
The Brang et al. paper is in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.
You may be fortunate if born among the "2 percent". Many people, no matter how educated, will never figure out that Space and Time are one phenomenon. The Universe has a characteristic radius, our distance from the "Big Bang". In Planck units, R = t. In units of meters and seconds, this would become R = ct. The Universe can't expand at the same rate c forever, so c must be further related to time. After doing some math, we get: GM=tc^3. In Planck units, these two expressions combine as M = R = t. Mathematics allows us to reduce the Universe to equations that even student Time Lords can understand. If physics professors can't grasp that GM=tc^3, they dismiss it as wrong. People should be valued for their differences, and more of us should try to be Time Lords. The Time Lords long ago figured out that GM=tc^3, leading to their mastery of Space and Time. Others may go to their graves muttering that the speed of light is constant, just as Earth is flat. Time Lords learned to regenerate their bodies, removing the ravages of time. All things change with time, even the speed of light.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Higgs and Englert
Congratulations to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert, winners of the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics! Higgs predicted existence of the Higgs Boson in a paper published in 1964, about the same time that Englert published a similar prediction. Carl Hagen, Tom Kibble of Imperial College, and Gerald Guralnik published about a month later. Higgs, 84 years old, has waited nearly 50 years for experimenters at the LHC to discover the Higgs Boson. We will not have to wait as long to confirm a changing speed of light.
Friday, September 27, 2013
From Pioneer to the Speed of Light
Interesting exchange on Rand Simberg's Transterrestrial Musings. The writer started about the Pioneer Anomaly, but then realized the article he was linking was 2 years old. The Pioneer Anomaly may be old news, but it led to an interesting discussion: ED MINCHAU: Let’s open up the speed of light can of worms. Rearranging some of the fundamental formulas involving the Planck constant can make h and pi disappear from the equations giving us GM=tc^3. Put another way, if the mass of the universe is a constant and the gravitational constant is a constant and age of the universe is not a constant, then the speed of light cannot be a constant. Alternatively, if c is a constant then one or both of G and M must be a variable function with respect to time. RYAN: Lots of different ideas have been batted around, personally I like the idea that the speed of light is actually slowing down as a function of time. c(t)=((GM)^1/3)/(t^1/3) That is the speed of light is slowing down as the inverse cubed root of the age of the universe. If your meter stick is contracting (the meter is defined by c) then there is an apparent increase in speed. Now days, with t being about 14.5 billion years, that makes that change tiny. However, in the early universe this would have looked different. More like a huge expansion of the universe. From what I can tell this matches the supernova and CMB data better than all that hockus pokus about dark energy/matter. Maybe I just like it because I understand it and I never could understand the dark energy argument. This also answers several other small nitpicking loose ends like, The Dim Young Sun Paradox, and The Receding Moon Paradox. But it would cut all those Dark Energy/Matter grants, so don’t expect this idea to gain a whole lot of big science backing. ED MINCHAU: I should really read all the comments before posting. Yeah, Ryan, I think Louise Riofrio is on to something with that equation. JOHNX: I commend these gents for doing all of this data research. However, moving from any old data compilation program to a new one, say C++ is always fraught to errors. I know (moving from Cobol to newer systems — nothing was perfect). Nevertheless, I think Ryan and Minchau are on to the right idea. Possibly, scientists can remove the idea of “dark energy” and “dark matter” for which there appears to be no answer except for mathematical plugs. Thank you ED, RYAN and JOHNX! It is always nice to hear that people worldwide are following the equation! There is more reason than ever to believe that someone is "on to something."
Monday, September 23, 2013
Congratulations to German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon winning her reelection. Raised in East Germany, she was educated as a physicist. Unfortunately a jobs in Physics are hard to get, so Angela must follow another career.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Shuttlecraft (Star Trek). Galileo Galilei believed in the Copernican model, that Earth travelled around the Sun. Ancient astronomers believed that Earth was centre of the Universe, just as today they insist that the speed of light is constant. After all, the Moon travels around the Earth. Galileo's telescope discovered moons of Jupiter, showing that objects could orbit something other than Earth. So-called scholars refused to look in the telescope, unwilling to upset their world view. Galileo suffered from persecution, trial and house arrest. Today he is honored as one of the great scientists of all time, and by having a Star Trek Shuttlecraft named for him. Galileo also was interested in light. At the time scholars disagreed whether light travelled instantaneously or had a finite speed. Galileo suggested placing lanterns on distant hilltops to time light's passage. Unfortunately, accurate enough clocks did not exist. Galileo's discovery of Jupiter's moons did lead to the first measurement of the speed of light. In 1676 Ole Roemer used an anomaly in observations of the moons to measure the speed of light. Roemer even predicted that one moon would appear late, and observations matched his prediction perfectly. Even Giovanni Cassini, Roemer's boss, didn't believe that light had a finite speed. Roemer's result was not generally accepted for 50 years. Today we have explored the distant hilltop of the Moon. Ancient astronomers insist that the speed of light is fixed, like the Earth. The Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment (LLRE) left behind by Apollo astronauts allows accurate measurements of the Moon's distance. Study of LLRE data shows a huge anomaly in measurements of lunar orbital evolution, indicating that the speed of light is slowing over time. See the paper Calculation of Lunar Orbit Anomaly. Today a Starfleet crewmember still strives to match the example of Galileo.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Happy Birthday Rosalind Franklin!
Today July 25 is the 93rd birthday of biophysicist Rosalind Franklin. Along with James Watson and Frances Crick, she did the hard work which led to discovery of the DNA double helix. In 1953 Watson and Crick published their groundbreaking paper on DNA, which barely mentioned Franklin in a footnote. This discovery changed the world we live in. Watson and Crick were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. Unfortunately for the world, Rosalind Franklin passed away in 1958. Today the Google home page has been nice enough to remember Rosalind.
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
The fourth and fifth known moons of Pluto, discovered in 2011 and 2012, have been officially named Kerberos and Styx by the International Astronomical Union. Kerberos or Cerberus was the three-headed dog that guarded the entrance to the Underworld. Styx was the river across which the Underworld was found. Pluto's first moon, Charon, was named for the boatman who ferried souls across the Styx. Pluto may not be a planet, but it can still have moons. The New Horizons spacecraft is expected to encounter Pluto in 2015, in time for the IAU meeting in Honolulu.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Americans, Democratic and Republican, Conservative or Liberal, disagree on many things. However, just as in the 1960's, there is bipartisan support for going to the Moon. A group of Congress members has introduced the Reassert American Leadership or REAL Space Act. This legislation would direct NASA to return humans to the Moon. The bill's sponsors include Sheila Jackson Lee (Democrat of Texas), Bill Posey (Republican of Florida) and Pete Olson (Republican of Texas). A National Research Council Report from 2012 found little support for the administration's stated goal of an asteroid either within NASA or among international partners. In contrast, the Moon mission has wide and bipartisan support.
Sunday, April 07, 2013
Getting Some Asteroid
NASA has been considering plans to capture an asteroid in Space. NASA to Lasso an Asteroid and Bring It Closer . Previous plans have suggested that astronauts using Orion make the multimillion mile journey to visit a Near Earth Object. This would be a journey of many months, far longer than any previous human space flight. Plans under study suggest that an automated spacecraft capture a small asteroid and bring it closer to Earth, possibly to the Earth-Moon L2 point. If that could be done by 2021, it would coincide with the first crewed flight of Orion atop the Space Launch System. Meeting up with a small asteroid would be an innovative and economical mission.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
David S. McKay 1936-2013
On February 19, 2013 David S. McKay passed away after a long illness. He was. PhD student at Rice University in 1961 when President Kennedy came to Rice for his speech committing the US to land on the Moon. He worked for NASA since 1965. On field trips from Texas to Hawaii, he trained Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in geology. Dr. McKay was the only geologist present in Mission Control when Armstrong and Aldrin stepped on the Moon. Dave McKay is best known today for his team's 1996 paper finding signs of life in Martian Antarctic meteorite ALH84001. The meteor was formed 3.5 billion years ago before being ejected from Mars and eventually landing in Antarctica. A Johnson Space Center geologist named Robbie Score found the meteorite on an Antarctic expedition in 1984. The McKay group's findings began the modern science of Astrobiology. Old models of the Sun predicted that 3.5 billion years ago Earth and Mars were too cold to support life. The Sun converts fuel to energy according to E=mc^2. Because the speed of light was faster at that time, solar luminosity was almost exactly today's value, allowing life to have evolved on Earth and Mars. Indications of Martian life 3.5 billion years old are another sign that the speed of light has slowed. I had the honor or working with Dave McKay from 2008 until near the end. Dave's generosity and experience with lunar samples was deeply appreciated. Manu woman scientist's careers were aided by Dave. Today February 24 I attended his funeral in Friendswood, Texas. His loss is deeply felt by his family and colleagues.
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
The American Astronautical Society (AAS) National Conference scheduled for November 28-29 in Pasadena, California has been cancelled. The event draws a lot of NASA speakers and scientists. Organizers blamed the lack of NASA participation due to travel budget restrictions. From Spaceref: American Astronautical Society cancels 2012 National Conference The agency that once sent Neil Armstrong to the Moon today can't send someone to Pasadena. Perhaps they can buy rides from the Russians, or wait several years until private companies can fly to Pasadena. This is disorganization of the highest order.
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Nobel Prize Devalued
As the science world awaits announcement of this year's Nobel Prizes, we recall that this year's prize amount is smaller. The Swedish foundation that awards the Nobel Prize is having financial issues: For Nobel Winners a Smaller Cash Prize On 2011 the Physics prize went to 3 scientists who in 1998 claimed to have discovered an accelerating universe. They split 1.4 million dollars 3 ways, with Adam Riess and Brian Schmidt getting only 350,000 each. That is not enough to buy a house in Maryland. All three men were part of large collaborations, of which the dozens of other collaborators get nothing. Starting this year the total prize will be only about 1.2 million. Only two women have ever won the Physics prize, in 1903 and 1963. If the Nobel committee waits past 2023 they will have broken the record. However, by then the world's economy may have improved enough to restore the Prize at least to its old value. The 2011 Prize was highly unusual in that it was given to the appearance of acceleration. There are many possible explanations that do not involve acceleration, from giant cosmic voids to (this writer's hypothesis) the speed of light slowing down. The 3 Nobel winners are at a loss to explain why they found indications of acceleration. Calculation of Lunar Orbit Anomaly GM=tc^3 predicts that light is slowing down. A child could figure it out.
Sunday, October 07, 2012
Most scientific papers are lucky to reach a few dozen readers. This article has just passed 1000 free downloads: Calculation of Lunar Orbit Anomaly As a comparison, the novel "Gabriel's Inferno" had 4000 free downloads from twilighted.net before moving to Omnific and selling 165,000 copies. Published evidence that light slows down is going to be huge.
Saturday, September 29, 2012
These have been a quiet few months, but this author has quietly published a peer-reviewed paper with evidence that light is slowing down today. The evidence comes from Apollo missions to the Moon: Calculation of Lunar Orbit Anomaly Someone has both predicted how much c is slowing, and used the Moon to successfully test the prediction. This major, major discovery is the most-viewed paper of the new journal Planetary Science. Read and access it often! The paper has raised such a ruckus that the journal editor is threatening to censor it out. Please read it today, for today could be your last chance!
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Escape from Syria
We anxiously await news from the Curiosity Rover approaching Mars. Syria’s first man in space, Mohammad Ahmad Faris, has travelled fr his homeland to Turkey to join the anti-Assad opposition.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Made in China
While Spacex is justly celebrating the Dragon docking with ISS, this month China plans a docking to their Space station with a crew, including one woman. This will be China's fourth human mission in Space, and the second with a 3-person crew. One crewmember will remain in the orbital module while two occupy the Space station. The Chinese Space program openly advertises their intention to land people on the Moon by 2024. Does the US even care?
Sunday, June 10, 2012
The passing of an era: Friday June 1 the mockup Shuttle Explorer, which had previously been displayed at Kennedy Space Center, arrived by barge to be displayed at Space Center Houston. From the patio at Outrigger's Grill and Bar I photographed Explorer passing under the Kemah bridge into Clear Lake. Explorer's destination was the Clear Lake dock South of Johnson Space Center, which once saw Saturn V stages arrive. Thousands of people lined Clear Lake to see Explorer arrive. Friday afternoon became a Shuttlebration for the arriving mockup. Sunday June 3 Explorer travelled by road past the JSC main gate to its final home at Space Center Houston. That's JSC Building 4 in the background. Houston was quite disappointed not to receive a flying Shuttle for display. The greater disappointment is that they are being retired with millions of useful miles left in them.