Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Failure of Peer Review

Publisher Biomed Central has been forced to retract a large number of papers due to abuses of the "peer review" system. From the Washington Post:

Major Publisher Retracts 43 Scientific Papers Amid Wider Fake Peer Review Scandal

The system of "peer review" is supposed to ensure the quality of scientific papers. In fact the system rejects unconventional theories while allowing papers that are mediocre or completely false. Many, many more scientific papers are published full of questionable research. This scandal is barely the tip of an iceberg. Scientific research has become broken.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 2014

Here is one excerpt from the new book, THE YEAR OF LIGHT, March 2014 and the BICEP2 announcement:

Albert Einstein's birthday, March 14, is easy as Pi for physicists to remember because it is 3.14. In The Year of Light it will be even more memourable, 3.14.15. On March 14, 2014 Paul Steinhardt planned to post online a paper that would review and demolish cosmic inflation, showing its many inconsistencies and failings. Unfortunately Steinhardt was "scooped" by the dramatic BICEP2 announcement.

Already on March 7 someone on the BICEP2 team had leaked to Mark Kamionowski that they had found his long-sought gravitational waves. On March 12 Harvard-Smithsonian notified the press that a dramatic announcement was scheduled for Monday March 17, with Alan Guth and Andre Linde invited to attend. By Friday, March 14 speculation was abuzz around the internet and the scientific world that BICEP2 had discovered something important about the universe.

On March 17 the four chief scientists of BICEP2 staged a dramatic press conference at Harvard. They proudly wore matching blue BICEP2 T-shirts and sat in front of a diagram of cosmic inflation. They told the assembled press, and the whole world, that they had discovered gravitational waves from the time of inflation. Ron Cowen of Nature was in attendance, and he called the evidence a "smoking gun." That day Alan Guth said the BICEP2 result was 'definitely' worth a Nobel Prize.

The front-page headline in The New York Times read "Space time ripples reveal Big Bang's Smoking Gun," accompanied by a worshipful profile of Alan Guth. On March 18 Guth gave a triumphant talk at MIT. In attendance were Andre Linde and Ron Cowen. That week speculation turned to who would get the Nobel Prize. Guth? Linde? The BICEP2 team? Experts were proclaiming a gravitational wave revolution. Nature devoted a special issue to "Waves From the Big Bang".

In succeeding months the BICEP2 discovery had crumbled literally to dust. Doubts raised by other scientists, and better data from PLANCK, showed conclusively that BICEP2 simply saw dust in the sky. What had gone wrong? Why had a near-certain detection turn out to be false?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Waves and Dukes


(From Waikiki, 2006)

Duke Kahanamoku was an Olympic swimming champion and a hero to us islanders. He popularised our Hawaiian sport of surfing to the world. At age 20, in an amateur meet, he broke the world record for the 100-meter freestyle. This feat by an islander was so surprising that the athletic union didn't recognise it for years. He won Olympic medals for the US in 1912, 1920 and the Paris Olympics of 1924.

Between Olympics Duke Kahanamoku gave surfing displays around the world. His exhibition in Sydney on December 23, 1914 is regarded as the start of Australian surfing. A statue of Duke stands at Freshwater Beach north of Manly. Thanks to the Duke, Queensland's Coast is known as Surfer's Paradise. He worked as a film actor in Hollywood, like yours truly. While living in Newport Beach, he single-handedly rescued 8 people from a sinking boat using his board.

Future generations will wonder why this planet was called "Earth," since it is mostly covered by water. If one grew up on an island, it is obvious that we are surrounded by the sea. Pacific navigators colonised the islands from Asia to Hawaii in a process that took centuries. That is a natural model for exploring other solar systems.

As we have seen many times, waves are important to physics and astronomy. The imprint of waves in the CMB can determine whether inflation happened or a changing speed of light. Maxwell's equations show that visible light, infrared and gamma radiation are all electromagnetic waves. Contributor Nigel has explored the waves in nuclear explosions. Waves touch us in sound and in the tides. The effect of tides on the Moon is one more clue that c has changed.

Because sound waves travel in air and water waves through water, it was long assumed that light travelled through some medium. Since light travels throughout the Universe, this ether was presumed to be invisible and fill all Space, just like "dark energy." Maxwell himself believed that Earth travelled through ether like a ship through water. The inferrence of an invisible ether lasted until Einstein introduced Special Relativity.

In 1924, while Duke Kahanamoku was competing in the Paris Olympics, another duke was making waves nearby. A graduate student in Paris named Duc Louis de Broglie suggested that electrons also took the form of waves. Their wavelength is given by the relation h/p. De Broglie published this simple relation in an extremely short PhD thesis.

Like an equation about light, Duc De Broglie's thesis was short but revolutionary. His thesis would have been rejected outright except for the support of Albert Einstein, who recommended De Broglie for a PhD. Einstein also nominated De Broglie for the Nobel Prize in 1929--nice to have friends like that. Like Duke Kahanamoku's 100-meter record, Duc de Broglie's achievement almost went unrecognised. Thanks to supporters like Einstein, we enjoy both surfing and De Broglie waves.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Evolution of the Moon in 2 minutes 40 seconds


2 minute 40 second video of the Moon's history. According to the most popular theory, the Moon was created when a Mars-sized planet struck the Earth. The impactor was vaporised, and Earth's mantle was blown off into Space. The pieces of mantle were large enough to coalesce in Earth orbit until they formed the Moon. The Giant Impactor theory became popular after Apollo Moon samples were found to resemble parts of Earth's mantle.

The Moon first coalesced less 1/4 its present distance from Earth. Since that time 4.5 billion years ago the Moon has been slowly drifting away. This is interpreted as tidal forces transferring angular momentum from Earth's rotation to the Moon. Apollo's Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment measured this distance increasing at 3.82 cm/yr, anomalously high. If the Moon were today gaining angular momentum at that rate, it would have been in the same place as Earth only 1.5 billion years ago.

If the speed of light were slowly decreasing, time for light to return from the Moon would increase each year, making the Moon appear to recede faster as seen by LLRE. Change in the speed of light, predicted by the simple expression GM=tc^3, precisely accounts for the lunar anomaly. This is striking evidence that the speed of light is slowing today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Apollo 13


Here I am with the Apollo 13 crew! The Apollo Mission Control room in Building 30 is kept as much as possible in its historic state. The surviving crewmembers are Fred Haise (left) and Jim Lovell (right). Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert passed away in 1982. On the anniversary of Apollo 13 the crew and some ground personnel visited Johnson Space Center to share some memories. The mirror behind me has its own history--it was presented to the Mission Control crew by the Apollo 13 astronauts so they would be reminded who the real heroes were.

One anecdote: When the original explosion occured, the astronauts thought that the LM might have depressurised. They tried to close the hatch between the CM and LM, but for some reason it would not shut. If it could not be closed, the modules could not separate for reentry. Somehow when the time came the hatch closed and the Command Module separated for reentry.

Apollo 13 launched 40 years ago April 11, 1970. Originally called "the flight that failed," today we know that it was their finest hour. The crew on the ground and in Space performed heroically despite overwhelming odds. In an emergency, they "worked the problem." The performance of Apollo crews inspired many of us to solve problems of Space and Time.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Year

What a year has gone by! In May 2014 THE SPEED OF LIGHT was published, and is still selling briskly.

On March 17, 2014 the BICEP2 team announced "smoking gun" evidence in the microwave background of gravitational waves from inflation. This was immediately hailed as discovery of the century, worthy of Nobel Prizes. Those of us who understand light wondered if BICEP2 had seen something else. On February 1, 2015 a paper from the PLANCK team showed conclusively that the signal was just galactic dust. There is, as before, no evidence that "inflation" ever happened.

The idea, that the early universe briefly inflated many times faster than light, is at a dead end. It has not led to a solution, just an inflation of speculative ideas. Inflation is fundamentally untestable. Scientists can not time-travel to the first 10^[-33] seconds to observe inflation, and no conceivable experiment can even approach the conditions of the Big Bang. As Paul Steinhardt said in NATURE, inflation is scientifically meaningless.

A highly cited 1997 paper by Mark Kamionowski held out the hope that B-modes and gravitational waves in the microwave background could be signs of inflation. Despite many experiments seeking them, gravitational waves have never been detected. Some doubt that they exist or are detectable at all. Despite the hype, BICEP2's detection has turned to dust.

The inflation idea is thoroughly discredited. There is no evidence for it. The BICEP2 fiasco has brought discredit to the Big Bang and science itself. Now there is room for a better idea, a universe that can be explained with simple equations. Though it seems dark and mysterious, we live in a universe of light.

GM=tc^3, where G is Newton's gravitational constant, M and t are Mass and age of the universe. This universe has a characteristic scale R=ct. In Planck units these two equations combine as M=R=t. Mass, size, and age of our big universe are all related to the microscopic PLANCK units!

M=R=t is the simplest equation ever! A child could understand it! Why has it remained undiscovered until now? These will be some exciting years.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Year of Light

2015 is the International Year of Light, as proclaimed by UNESCO along with the International Astronomical Union and other organizations. It is 1000 years since Ibn Al-Haytham wrote the first treatise about light. 1815 saw Fresnel's work on refraction, and in 1865 Maxwell's equations showed that light is a form of electromagnetism. Of course we remember Einstein's General Relativity in 1915 and discovery of the microwave background in 1965. This is a very special and exciting year.

Last year saw BICEP2 claim "smoking gun" evidence of gravitational waves, which was later found to be just galactic dust. Today the old inflation idea is in serious disrepute. Cosmic inflation is untestable and therefore scientifically useless. The story of this so-called discovery of the century, and inflation's collapse, could fill a book.

It is also time to draw attention to a better idea, that our universe is explained by some extremely simple equations. These make the prediction that the speed of light is slowing, something that can be tested with more accurate clocks. Starting in 2016 the Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space may find a "c change" in science.

The new book project is THE YEAR OF LIGHT:

We hope you enjoy it, tell your friends, and consider backing. One candle can light the darkness.

Monday, February 23, 2015

THE SPEED OF LIGHT Still Moving

February 20 was another book talk on THE SPEED OF LIGHT, this time for the Fort Bend Astronomy Club in Stafford, Texas. The audience was very enthusiastic, and took home every available copy of the book. For the rest of you, it's still available online:

The Speed of Light

Monday, February 02, 2015

Cosmic Inflation Is Dead

For 35 years the paradigm of "inflation" has dominated studies of the universe. In 1979 Alan Guth and others first speculated that the early universe, at a time of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second, expanded many times faster than light and then stopped. Astronomers searched in vain for any evidence that inflation happened.; In March 2014 the BICEP2 experiment announced to great fanfare the "smoking gun" proof of infl;ation, graviatiional waves from the Big Bang. This weekend news came out that the "evidence" for inflation is just dust. The paradigm is dead.

Friday, January 30, 2015

BICEP2 Inflation Result Is False

The latest results from the PLANCK satellite will be released next week, and BICEP2 was wrong, wrong about detecting gravitational waves from "inflation". BICEP2 saw galactic dust, but their data was inflated into a "smoking gun" proof if inflation. More about this soon.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Planck Units: M = R = t

In response to some evocative comments, here is an old post from October 1, 2007! The Planck units point to a quantum nature of space and time. Though this post is celebrating its seventh birthday, this marvelously simple equation is still not common knowledge.
"I perceive the Universe as a single equation, and it is so simple..."

--LT Barclay in STAR TREK TNG: "The Nth Degree"

Posting was light the past week, but some work got done. Today we'll return to the subject of Planck units. Max Planck started as a conservative physicist studying atomic spectra. The ultraviolet catastrophe led him to a "act of desperation," the quantum value h. Planck was also instrumental in getting a patent clerk's first papers published in 1905. If not for Planck, the world might have taken decades to hear of Einstein.

Planck noted that combinations of h, c and G led to this "universal" system of units. At the time he had no way of knowing whether h or c were constant. Some science types get lazy and say that h = c = G =1. They are not equal, or they could be used interchangeably.

We'll use Planck's units to express something more useful. A basic principle states that scale R of the Universe is its age, a timelike separation from the "Big Bang." R and t are related by factor c, the "speed of light."

R = ct

This equation (1) caused the Big Bang. As t increases, the Universe expands.

R/l_pl = ct/l_pl

Now l_pl = ct_pl, so:

R/l_pl = t/t_pl

Expressed in Planck units, equation (1) becomes:

R = t

We can simply express that size of the Universe is related to its age. This may appear more palatable to those used to thinking that c is constant.

The Universe can't expand at the same rate forever, for Mass and Gravity slow it down. We do some calculations, and c is further related to t by:

GM = tc^3

Expressing equation (2) in Planck units:

M/t = c^3/G = m_pl/t_pl

M/m_pl = t/t_pl

The Planckian expression of GM=tc^3 was also noted by bloggers Thomas Dent and Lubos Motl. Using Planck units can be misleading, because they are not all constant. Now we can state both equations (1) and (2) in a single line:

M = R = t

Repeat: This must be the simplest equation ever! It relates everything you want to know about the Universe but were afraid to ask: Mass M, size R, age t, expansion rate and how it slows with time. This shows just how powerful mathematics can be. According to STAR TREK, one line may explain an entire Universe.

Planck is not the only one who started as a conservative physicist. When these equations are worked out, the appeal is hard to deny even for the conservative. Arriving at a simple solution makes all the challenges of science worthwhile. The simplicity may someday be noticed by physicists, possibly in the 24th century. This may be an equation far ahead of its time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book Tour Continues

THE SPEED OF LIGHT book tour started here in Johnson Space Center, has been to the North Houston Astronomy Club and Texas A&M University in College Station. Next stop is the Brazosport Astronomy Club meeting at Center for Arts and Sciences, 400 College Blvd in Clute, Texas on Tuesday October 21. We will start at 7:00 PM with a presentation on the Rosetta mission. Maybe you an make it!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Here Be Dragons Pt V

In 2005 our Cassini spacecraft made some amazing discoveries about Saturn and her moons. The moon Enceladus has a volcanic "hot spot" centred on its South Pole. The pole, which should be the coldest region on the moon, is the hottest! This spot emits an enormous plume of vapour which maintains Saturn's E Ring. Old theories of radioactive decay or tidal stress can not explain this hot spot.
Enceladus' core and behaviour can be modelled with a central singularity of 10^12 kg. This mass is typical for a primordial singularity. This object consumes only 2.8 kg per year and generates 10^9 watts of radiation. Water and other molecules near this centre are heated to a plasma. Electrons are stripped from atoms, and the resulting ions are drawn into circular orbits. The resulting current generates a magnetic field with the "positive" pole in the South.
Electrons and positively charged ions spiral along magnetic field lines to form bipolar jets, the classic sign of a singularity. The Northern jet is composed of electrons which are absorbed by the moon's interior. More energetic ions of the Southern jet penetrate these layers to warm the South Pole. Escaping ions spiral into space, exactly as observed by Cassini.
Unless Saturn's Rings are replenished, they would decay within 100 million years. Then we would face the anthropic question of why they exist in the right time for humans to view them. Thanks to the Cassini spacecraft, we have witnessed the E Ring being resuppllied from a moon. This observation suggests that similiar processes maintain the rings indefinitely.
Saturn and her Rings have long been objects of wonder and mystery. The processes that build moons and planets have been going on for billions of years. Humans have yet to understand what is before their eyes and beneath their feet. There is more to this solar system than meets the eye.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Here Be Dragons Part IV


Gunung Batur as we descended in the light of day.
There have been several mysteries about the planet we live on. What causes Earth's internal heat, which has persisted for billions of years? What powers the "dynamo" of planetary magnetic fields? How could the planets coalesce from an orbiting disk of gas? If particles collide at orbital velocities they will not stick together unless they have the mass of mountains. The answer lies not in geology, but in cosmology.
The Big Bang created billions upon billions of Black Holes. They formed from quantum fluctuations grown large by expansion of the Universe. They are the largest component of mass in the Universe, surrounding the galaxies with invisible haloes. Our own solar system contains hundreds of these tiny holes, and we have been ignorant of their existence.
When the solar system was but a disk of gas, a number of singularities started orbiting in the disk. One of these objects was smaller than a proton, yet weighed as much as a mountain. Larger particles were attracted and stuck to it. The singularity was far too tiny to eat everything up, but the small amount that was swallowed made the rest grow red hot. Eventually a ball of rock formed with a hot centre. This was the birth of a planet.
The singularity in Earth's core has the diameter of a grain of sand, and the mass of a moon. It has been giving off radiation for billions of years. The heat generated causes volcanoes to erupt, creates the continents, and forms hydrocarbons in Earth's interior. Our life and this planet would not exist without it. Even the petrol that fills your tank may be the byproduct of a small Black Hole!
This singularity spins independently within Earth's core. By dragging part of the iron core along, it spins the "dynamo" generating a magnetic field. That is why Earth's magnetic poles are not aligned with the geographic poles, and why this field sometimes changes direction. Venus has no magnetic field because its core does not spin. Mercury has a magnetic field and is here predicted to have vulcanism, which our MESSENGER spacecraft will discover in 2011.
These are truly exciting times! By climbing into the dragon's fiery mouth, we can understand the very origin of the world! A Black Hole can exist in the last place anyone would look for one, right beneath our noses! TOMORROW we will see another example supporting this theory.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Here Be Dragons Pt III


Indonesia's Mount Merapi erupted on this day, forcing thousands to flee their homes. On May 27 an earthquake in Java killed 5,800 people. The December 26, 2004 earthquake and tsunami killed over 200,000. Who says that fire-breathing monsters don't exist? Earth's violent interior is a subject of urgent study.
We woke before 0200 to climb Gunung Batur at night. This active volcano is 1717 m above sea level, and had its last major eruption in 1963. A 1917 eruption killed thousands and destroyed 60,000 homes. The outer crater is nearly 14 km across, big enough to contain a lake and several villages. Guided by our torches, we felt our way through darkness. At the summit, live steam issued from cracks in the Earth. Right on time, the monkeys joined us to watch the sunrise.
The Sun and volcano may be linked by origin. It has long been a puzzle how the stars collapsed and ignited from the tenuous interstellar gas. The heat of Earth's core, which causes volcanoes and earthquakes yet is critical to life, has also been a mystery. The answers may be related to Hawking radiation.
TOMORROW we look back on the volcano in the light of day, and relate cosmology to the fire beneath us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Here Be Dragons Pt II



"The survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said Tuesday."
Hawking's discovery that Black Holes give off radiation has the greatest potential affect on Earth. They convert mass into energy far more efficiently than nuclear fusion. He deduced that mathematically as a young postdoc. At the time, his colleagues thought it was rubbish. You go, Dr. Hawking!
This is the temple of Uluwatu in Bali, situated on a blade of rock jutting hundreds of metres over the ocean. The temple's true inhabitants are the monkeys, to whom we are but guests. I saw one little guy snatch the glasses off a tourist's face, then happily hang on to them while humans tried comically to make him give up. Finally the monkey threw the glasses off the railing, a 250-m drop!
Yesterday we saw a baby dragon. Tomorrow the monkeys will accompany us to the mouth of a real fire-breathing monster. There we may see evidence of Hawking radiation in action.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Inflation Crumbles to Dust

Like a vampire that refuses to die, the hypothesis of "cosmic inflation" has been sucking the life out of science. A new paper from the PLANCK spacecraft conclusively finds that the BICEP2 claim of gravitational waves from inflation was due to cosmic dust. More about this soon. Like Dracula after a stake has been driven into his dark heart, inflation crumbles to dust.

GM=tc^3, anybody can figure it out.

Here Be Dragons


Yesterday's photo was taken atop the pyramid at Chichen Itza, Yucatan. 1000 years ago, the Maya believed that Space and Time were the same phenomenon. How right they were!
"Here Be Dragons" was written on old maps indicating the unknown and dangerous. This photo was taken in Bali and this is a DRAGON. The world we read about in fairy tales really does exist! There are dragons and princesses, heroes and villains, good and evil. All we need do is be brave and look for them.
I was invited to Bali for the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Meeting. Scientists from all over the world met and shared some fascinating research. Dr. John Huchra (Vice-Provost of Research at Harvard) gave a very good review: "A delightful talk by Louise Riofrio on how a non-standard cosmology with a varying speed-of-light might reproduce the high-redshift supernova Hubble diagram." Thank you, Dr. Huchra!
I've been honoured to contribute a solution to the so-called "accelerating universe" problem. The answer is so simple that a child could understand it, yet matches the data more precisely than any other idea. The Maya were on to something! Tomorrow's post will have more from Bali.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chichen Itza

Here is the first photo published on this blog in '006. This is the top of the pyramid in Chichen Itza, Yucatan. Human figure added for scale. We have come a long way since then, but time has not eroded the enthusiasm. More photos to come!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

BICEP2: Inflation's Bubble Has Burst

I have refrained from commenting on the BICEP2 hype in March. The investigators claimed to have detected a pattern of B-Mode polarization in the cosmic microwave background. They claimed that this pattern was from gravitational waves predicted by the old inflation idea. Immediately there was talk in the press of Nobel prizes for BICEP2 and the originators of inflation. From the start many of us who understand the CMB questioned this result.

The WMAP data release of 2003 was also claimed to "prove" inflation, but that hype fizzled away. Getting results from the CMB is extremely difficult, because the background noise is many times more powerful than the signal. The CMB is subject to many interpretations.

Polarization in the CMB is difficult to decipher because foreground dust and gravitational lensing also produce polarization, which will mask anything from the early universe. Even if polarization was detected, it is not necessarily from gravitational waves.

No experiment has ever detected gravitational waves. Some theorists doubt that they are detectable or even exist. Other phenomena could theoretically cause gravitational waves, not necessarily inflation.

In the past 3 weeks the bubble of inflation has burst. Rumours reached the web from a fellow blogger and physicist in Resonaances that the data was suspect. The backgrounds were not properly removed because the BICEP2 team did not have access to raw data from the PLANCK spacecraft. BICEP2 STOLE a slide that the PLANCK team had shown at a conference and placed on the web. They "scraped" data from the pdf slide and reconstructed data from that. They did not notice the note "Not CIB subtracted" indicating that the cosmic infrared background had not been removed from the slide. BICEP2 announced their results by press conference before a peer-reviewed paper was published, triggering a frenzy in the press. 2.5 months later the paper has still not appeared.

To their credit, the press has been quick to notice that they were taken for a ride:

Nature.com: No evidence for or against gravitational waves

Time.com:Cosmic Deflation: Doubts Raised Over Blockbuster Big Bang Study

The Independent: Big Bang 'echoes' that proved Einstein correct might just have been space dust, admit scientists

Science News: Dustup emerges over gravitational waves discovery

Inflation continues to erode the credibility of science. Since it would have occurred in the first 10^(-33) seconds of the Universe, inflation can never be proven. No conceivable experiment can approach the titanic densities and energies so close to the Big Bang. An idea that is not testable is not a theory and is not science.

GM=tc^3, a child could figure it out!

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Speed of Light Marches On

Goodreads is giving away free copies of the book! The peer-reviewed Planetary Science paper is already free, but the book is much easier to read. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Speed of Light by L. Riofrio

The Speed of Light

by L. Riofrio

Giveaway ends May 23, 2014.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Baby Bulge in Saturn Rings

Our Cassini spacecraft has spotted a bulge in Saturn's A Ring, thought to be an infant moon in the process of forming. From Time magazine:

It's a Moon! Saturn Expecting a Baby

Not long ago it was thought impossible for moons to form inside the Roche Limit, a mathematical distance within which Saturn's gravity would theoretically tear small moons apart. Since reaching Saturn in 2004 Cassini has found many satellites within the Roche Limit. The very existence of Saturn's Rings is one of the oldest mysteries in our Solar System. Without replenishment, the Rings would decay within 100 million years.

As readers of this blog know, Saturn's Rings could be home to countless tiny Black Holes, souvenirs from the Big Bang. These little objects would gather Ring materiel to them, creating moons like a pearls forming around grains of sand. Presence of microscopic Black Holes within the Rings would explain how they have endured possibly for billion of years. Saturn's Rings show conditions similar to the birth of our Solar System. Formation of the moons give clues to how our Earth and planets formed.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Book On Sale!

THE SPEED OF LIGHT is now on sale at Amazon.com:

The Speed of Light

This book is the result of years of work. Who will be the first to review it?

Monday, May 05, 2014

Final form of paper

The paper has been published in its final form, the first peer-reviewed paper to show evidence that the speed of light is changing.

Calculation of lunar orbit anomaly

This has been years in the making. Already it has 5000 free downloads, the most ever for Planetary Science. Already it has drawn a dissenting paper, which is in the lowest 1% of viewership. Citations are always nice! Read it as often as possible.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Goal!

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

The GOES satellite took this photo of the storm-wracked US at 1815 Greenwich time on February 11. We have come to rely on the space-age miracle of accurate weather forecasts, but the weather satellites are starting to wear out. Replacements will be needed soon.

According to old models of astrophysics, 4 billion years ago the Sun shone with only 75 percent of its present luminosity. Earth would have been frozen solid, making the evolution of life unlikely. The geological and paleontological records both say that early Earth was warm enough for liquid water and life. Evidence from Mars says that planet had liquid water and possibly life when the model says it was frozen solid. Conflict of observations with the standard solar model is called the Faint Young Sun Paradox.

The Sun turns its fuel to energy according to E=mc^2. If the speed of light had changed as much as GM=tc^3 predicts, solar luminosity 4 billion years ago was almost exactly today's value. Over billions of years the Sun has maintained a roughly constant luminosity, making life on planets possible. If c had not changed in the amount predicted by GM=tc^3, life would not be here to think about it. Our life depends on a slowing speed of light.

The Faint Young Sun Paradox is described in more detail in THE SPEED OF LIGHT.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Far Galaxy and the Speed of Light

The Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have together found one of the most distant galaxies ever sighted. Abell2744 Y1 was formed about 650 million years after the Big Bang. Astronomers have now found many such galaxies from the universe's early years. Every galaxy ever found contains at its centre an enormous Black Hole, with millions of times the mass of our Sun. Science is baffled as to how galaxies and supermassive Black Holes could have formed so early.

Many theorists believe that the Big Bang created billions of primordial Black Holes. They would have formed from quantum density fluctuations grown large by expansion of the universe. Everything within reach of the fluctuation would collapse into a Black Hole. Size of a primordial Black Hole would be limited by a "horizon distance" related to the speed of light.

If the speed of light were always the same value as today, primordial Black Holes would be tiny. The enormous Black Hole at the centre of Abell2744 Y1 may be primordial, formed shortly after the Big Bang. This distant galaxy is one more sign that the speed of light was once much greater. Many discoveries of galaxies formed early after the Big Bang are all indicators of "c change".

Presently we are crowdfunding for a book about the changing speed of light. This discovery will someday be big. THE SPEED OF LIGHT will describe in non-mathematical terms data from distant galaxies, supernovae, the Sun and even the Moon. At this writing we are at 85 percent of goal, close but not yet there. This is a chance for all of us to make a "c" change.

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.
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