Friday, November 17, 2006

Firefly


Yesterday's press conference would have been a snooze except for the brilliant discovery that luminosity of fireflies is constant, just like the speed of light. I haven't petted any fireflies lately (sorry Lubos) but in August found a spacecraft from the series FIREFLY. This photo is courtesy of Ariel Ambulance, a group dedicated to saving and restoring Firefly props. Mal and his crew fight impossible odds battling dark forces in the Universe.

Many of us were inspired to enter science by watching shows like this one on the telly. We admired the heroes and heroines boldly going where none had dared go before, fighting impossible odds and hostile aliens. We saw them succeeed through courage and teamwork. Finally we cheered as they made discoveries about the Universe.

If we do not take a stand, "dark energy" will dominate cosmology for centuries, like Ptolemy's epicycles. How many lives were wasted studying epicycles? How many centuries will "dark energy" delay our understanding? If we succeed, our children will understand the Universe in a single equation.

Clifford Johnson of Asymptotia (formerly of Cosmic Variance) also expressed doubts about the press release.

"My understanding is that they are seeing a small be still significant effect of the Dark Energy's repulsive component, and I'm guessing that they are finding that it is consistent with that which you should expect (although way smaller than the late time effect) from those earlier times. Presumably they are also using the known flatness of the universe (from WMAP, etc), which presumably has not changed, as another tool in their analysis. At this point, I must give up, since I have not seen a graph, seen analysis (which I would not be an expert on anyway... I'd hand it to a colleague I trust), etc... I'm inferring this from the press release."

Scientists are unsure about "dark energy." Clifford repeats what I hear from many, "I don't really understand the data but the investigators told me so." The only "proof" of DE is the mantra of scientists repeating statements of others. Remember the Emperor's New Clothes. Things get frustrating sometimes, but yesterday's press conference shows how desperate DE proponents are. It is time for a better idea.

Today's Cassini photo shows Saturn's moon Prometheus interacting with the F Ring. Prometheus and Pandora are "shepherd moons" accompanying the ring. Prometheus has the lowest measured density of any solar system object, only 0.27 g/cc. That is barely 1/4 the density of liquid water. These moons exist inside the Roche Limit, within which liquid objects are supposed to be torn apart by tidal forces.

It is very odd that moons with less density than liquid exist where liquid objects should not exist. Something is holding them together. Note how the particles spiral toward the moon in a discrete line as if following magnetic field lines. Small moons of rock or ice do not produce magnetic fields, but a singularity will.

16 Comments:

Blogger nige said...

If we do not take a stand, "dark energy" will dominate cosmology for centuries, like Ptolemy's epicycles. How many lives were wasted studying epicycles? How many centuries will "dark energy" delay our understanding? If we succeed, our chiildren will understand the Universe in a single equation.

Hi Louise,

I'm very much in sympathy with your approach and argument here.

I think it is a difficult issue - Christine Dantas made the point repeatedly to me that radical ideas were not welcome implying that anyone wanting to contribute needs to do so under cover of some existing framework like string or LQG.

The problem is that the world is extremely fascist now. You can imagine the situation in 1905, with the mainstream immersed in the aether and Einstein coming along without a professorship and dismissing it. Who would take Planck's place today, and publish it? It would have to be someone of Planck's standing (Nobel Laureate who had introduced a widely accepted revolution): there is really nobody remotely with the editorial power of Planck in the world today, so the Einstein model of quiet modest publication goes out of the window. You either quietly give up, or you make noise to be heard, otherwise you're easily censored out completely (controversial-type publicity is better than complete suppression).

The difference between the "scientists" who believe in the "truth" of dark energy and objective scientists is crucial.

The bad people in the mainstream believe in consensus, ie, might is right which is like saying that if a large enough number of clones/lemmings/sheep have been given faulty teaching from some fool who thinks that 1+1=3 then they must be right if they are a majority; which is why Ptolemy's epicycles, and other rubbish like caloric, phlogiston, and Maxwell's mechanical gear box aether, were mainstream beliefs.

The problem is only partly fighting this "consensus must be right" rubbish, the other part is improving the replacement theory.

Best,
Nigel

4:20 PM  
Blogger e sciaroni said...

"Dark Energy" is only the latest patch applied to the standard model to keep it alive. They've already used "dark matter", maybe a "dark force" will be needed next.

The real problem is the "Big Bang" itself. This theory probably WILL "dominate cosmology for centuries". What is needed is an ability to view the data without preconceptions; trying to see what the universe is really all about. This is hard to do after the immense effort of learning the details of past theories.

I actually don't think cosmology should be considered a branch of Physics.

4:31 PM  
Anonymous ttyler5 said...

Louise,

I wish you had said more in your post at Eric Berger's SciGuy blog, I have now transmitted comments there pointing out your dissent from the NASA interp of the new HST stuff and links back to your blog and papers.

There are a number of practicing scientists reading and commenting at Berger's blog, hope you will come back and speak up!

ttyler5
Houston

5:53 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

A pleasure hearing from all of you. Nigel, because of what we are doing "dark energy" will not dominate cosmology for 1500 years. The press conference shows it is others who are out of ideas. We have to nip DE in the bud before it really takes hold.

A shame about Christine--she got critical and then dropped out just after letting Kea add a post. You need to be able to take heat in this business.

Sciaroni, the BB model has indeed required plenty of patches. A repulsive "inflaton" to explain CMB uniformity, another repulsive energy to explai apparent acceleration, and our Ptolemaic world in the middle.

Tyler, I just looked at you posts and can only thank you! I will visit SciGuy many times in the future. Were you by chance at Griffin's AGU talk last Dec?

8:44 PM  
Blogger nige said...

e sciaroni,

Some friends double as enemies.

The Standard Model of particle physics is empirically based and has nothing to do with dark energy, and doesn't extend to incorporate/explain/include dark energy or dark matter.

The dark energy Lambda-CDM model is certainly ad hoc mathematical foolery, but the Big Bang in some form is the only theory I've every heard of which is based on empirical facts.

If you ignore the Big Bang concept completely, you then have the problem that you have to introduce metaphysics to "explain" why distant galaxies have redshifts.

There is only recession as a proved mechanism for the Big Bang redshift data; apart from that there is NO PROVED EXPLANATION of the uniform redshift of the entire spectrum of light (including dark and bright lines, bands, and continuous black body spectra) from receding galaxies.

"Tired light" has never been observed. Nobody has ever proved it is a real effect. Scattering by dust or gas would upset the detailed light spectrum because it is frequency dependent. Redshift data is not merely light turning red over large distances, it is a uniform shift in the entire spectrum.

Dr Ned Wright explains why anti-expansion cosmology ideas are pseudo-science in his essay "errors in tired light cosmology": http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/tiredlit.htm.

Note: I don't necessarily agree with or care about Dr Ned Wright's personal ideas (he may well believe in dark energy and fairies, just as Newton was a closet alchemist), but the SOLID SCIENTIFIC facts he presents at that page are useful, if incomplete.

What is upsetting is that you find X % of people religiously believe in the big bang complete with dark energy epicycles, and 100 - X % of people religiously believe that the big bang is complete nonsense and that tired light is perfectly logical.

There are few people who WANT EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE for every fact.

Tired light is just as much a religion as dark energy is; both are ad hoc speculations. Recession caused redshift is an empirical fact. Recession is a mechanism known to produce Doppler shift. There is no evidence of a mechanism for tired light.

Nigel

1:36 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

A shame about Christine--she got critical and then dropped out just after letting Kea add a post. You need to be able to take heat in this business.

Christine Dantas made the point repeatedly to me that radical ideas were not welcome implying that anyone wanting to contribute needs to do so under cover of some existing framework like string or LQG.

Dear Louise, and others,

Just for the record: the above statements highly distorts anything or everything I ever made in the blogosphere.

First, as I wrote in many other places in the same week that I deleted the blog, the posts were made available over at my blog. Just go there and download the zipped file. But that's OK, perhaps you simply didn't have the chance to read my communications on this matter elsewhere.

Second: no, the post by Kea, in which your work is mentioned, has nothing to do with my decision to end the blog whatsoever.

Third: I really feel very sad that you repeatedly stated that I "scared off" or cannot accept criticisms. This is a very big distortion on the reasons I quited my blog. I can only think that you mean intentionally to damage me personally. I have never, ever, done this to you or anyone over the blogosphere, or in "real" life, for what it's worth. The evidences are everywhere over the blogosphere. I had the support of everyone except from you, which I can only believe *you* were the one that didn't like to receive my criticisms on your work, so now that I am away (in fact, I am not, as you can see), you feel safe enough to spread your misconceptions on me. I hope I am completely mistaken (and if that is the case, I apologize). However, that is not what appears from your writtings on the event of my decision to quit.

I should not really care to drop this comment here, but in any case, this is my last attempt to make things clear to you.

Finally, I do favor independent research and thinking, and I hope you, Kea, nigel, etc, continue thinking over these hard problems. But if there is something really useful I should state here, I guess I'd say that you should be critical also to yourselves, and always think on the possibility that you may be simply wrong in certain point.

Best regards,
Christine
PS- I am not particularly against the idea of a varying c, but given our previous discussions, I really do not think the explanations you give on a possible varying c are convincing enough, given that you misinterpret several fundamental concepts.

3:50 AM  
Anonymous ttyler5 said...

Louise,

So surprised you had time to respond this fast! Are you moving at c or some variable!?! :^D :^D

Regardless, I must go rescue some of my best buds from the havoc they have visited upon their LAN and WAN recently. I drop this note just ta' letcha know I caught your reply and will be returning to this quadrant of the solar system shortly!

6:11 AM  
Blogger nige said...

Hi Christine,

Thank you for the correction and sorry for any misunderstanding.

I am disappointed that you stopped your blog as it was very good.

You wrote somewhere that you had received some criticism from a newspaper journalist or editor in Brazil over the manner in which the discussion was being done.

I appreciate that it is disappointing but that is because the media is often a cynical, rude, ignorant mainstream money-making organization.

Professor Michio Kaku wrote in the draft of a New Scientist article:

"We ... demand instant gratification. The media whips this up, lavishing praise when you are on the rise, and dumping on you when you are down." {Emphasis added in bold}

- http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=457#comment-15821

At the end of the day, of course it isn't always the media coverage, citations, honour, awards, prizes, hype, and the number of followers that determined how the world really is, it is evidence, and there is none in string and other religions like the ad hoc Lambda-CDM model. If you want to be extremely nice to people who believe in all sorts of rubbish, then you will have problems:

"... the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly... ”

- http://www.constitution.org/mac/prince06.htm

Since first publication in Electronics World, Oct. 1996 (I've been an occasional writer there since the Nov 94 issue), I've spent my spare time critically revising and developing calculations, and will continue so long as I'm able.

I hope that string theory will disappear and the physics climate in Brazil will change so you can start your blog again. It is the best source of information on loop quantum gravity and other developments.

Of course there may be some errors, but there are errors in the way string theory and ad hoc dark energy are hyped on the covers of magazines without scientific evidence, to make money by selling more copies as Jeremy Webb of New Scientist admits (click here).

Best wishes,
Nigel

7:49 AM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

HI Christine. It is a great pleasure hearing fron you. I hope all my comments say how much I miss your posts.

9:40 AM  
Blogger e sciaroni said...

nigel,
Thanks for your response.

I'm one of the few. I can see that the redshift increases with distance, and therefore can be used as a rough measure of distance. That doesn't prove that it is a doppler shift. The latest data also indicate that it varies in magnitude over distance. This is exciting and useful for probing the nature of the redshift.

I cannot explain why there is a cosmological redshift. In my view, most things are unexplained. But the doppler shift explanation is not proven just because there are no other good ideas!

I do consider the origin of the universe to be a question of metaphysics.

Please forgive my late response.

2:12 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Hi again sciaroni. Many people doubt the Big Bang. Narlikar gave a talk in Bali about alternatives. He and Fred Hoyle wrote a 2002 book, illustrating today's cosmologists as ducks in a herd. Riess and others applying all these patches doesn't help the BB any.

7:19 PM  
Blogger nige said...

Hi e sciaroni,

Thanks for replying.

I disagree with you because the Doppler shift CAN produce redshifts, this is an EXPERIMENTAL fact, and NO other mechanism can do it correctly. Your dismissal that in your opinion the Doppler shift is not a "good idea" or that a "better idea" is needed, is not science.

The definition of "proof" you are using is pseudo-scientifically stringent. Religious people did this with evolution as a last resort to dismiss evolution: they claimed God simply fabricated evidence of evolution or that there is some other explanation that has not been discovered yet. Trying to assert personal beliefs lacking evidence as a way to discredit existing evidence based science is not a scientific activity.

The Doppler redshift spectra
interpretation of distant clusters of galaxies and also even more distant supernovae leads to further evidence, such as the nucleosynthesis of the measured abundances of light elements in the universe by fusion at a few seconds to minutes after the big bang, and the prediction of the cosmic background radiation, which was experimentally confirmed in 1965.

I've done some work which shows that gravitational is a consequence of Yang-Mills quantum field theory in an expanding universe, which predicts the correct strength of gravity.

This last argument is censored for some reason such as ignorant fascist bigotry in the mainstream, but nobody has made a valid scientific objection to it so far.

Nigel

5:38 AM  
Blogger e sciaroni said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:21 PM  
Blogger e sciaroni said...

Hi nigel,

The cosmological redshift affects all light coming from great distances. I understand that the Doppler shift is the only mechanism known to produce a redshift. The problem occurs if we try to extrapolate this Doppler shift; we arrive at a point in space-time where the entire universe is compressed into a single point.

To reach our present universe would then require everything to overcome the immense gravity, bursting outward at great speed. This requires a lot of energy.

So the simpler explanation is that there is some other, unknown cause of the observed cosmological redshift, which is only noticeable over thousands of kiloparsecs.

6:04 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Interesting points, sciaroni. There are a lot of questions about the "big bang," which is why I have tried to find better foundations. Fortunately this cosmology ensures that total energy remains 0, the ultimate free lunch. One needn't add any energy to the system for expansion.

8:19 PM  
Blogger e sciaroni said...

Good luck fighting those dark energy epicycles. But beware of the fixed Earth (Big Bang).

5:57 PM  

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