Saturday, October 25, 2008

Moffat Reinventing Gravity

John Moffat began as a struggling artist in Paris, then became interested in physics. At age 20 he wrote a letter to Albert Einstein, and was surprised to receive a reply. They exchanged letters, and Moffatt became the only student at Trinity College to receive a PhD without an undergraduate degree. Sometime in the late 1980's Moffat became interested in a changing speed of light.

In 1992 Moffat submitted a paper to Physical Review D. The referees were outraged and his paper was rejected. In 1993 Moffatt's paper was finally accepted by the International Journal of Modern Physics D. Years later he came across the Albrecht-Maguiejo paper on the speed of light, which was written completely independently. As for precedence, Lord Kelvin claimed a changing c in a paper published in 1875!

In his new book REINVENTING GRAVITY, Moffat discusses everything from the speed of light to extra dimensions. From Chapter 6:

INFLATION AND THE VARIABLE SPEED OF LIGHT [VSL]

Given the chances of inflation happening in the early universe are so slim--and the phenomenon could only come about by extreme fine tuning--the sensible reader might ask: Is inflation actually an improvement over the original big bang model? Is it 40percent better? Or perhaps only 10 percent better? When one considers the problems of inflation in this way, the original motivation for inflation as a solution to the initial conditions of the universe is somewhat diminished...

WILL THE DATA DISCRIMINATE BETWEEN INFLATION AND VSL?

Despite problems and criticisms over the years, inflation has become accepted as a realistic picture of what happened in the very early universe. Why is more attention not paid to VSL, which is an alternative to inflation, solves the horizon and flatness problems, and predicts a scale-invariant spectrum of quantum fluctuations in agreement with experimental data? The answer may be more sociological than scientific. Inflation has been around a dozen years longer than VSL, and it is often easier to support the incumbent and not bother looking very deply into the qualifications of the challenger.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Kea said...

The sociology is indeed frustrating. I have heard more than one professional relativist spit out, in a spluttering manner, the conviction that c must be constant and that cosmology must be LCDM. Have they forgotten that the data need not comply with their prejudices?

8:49 AM  
Blogger qraal said...

Hi kea & Louise

Quite so. Elegant theories are often the victims of brute fact, but 'elegance' so often seems the deciding factor in physics of the last 30 years - since the triumph of the Standard Model I suspect. Physicists, as a herd, have produced String Theory, Supersymmetry, Super-Gravity and a whole lot else, but with particle accelerator data excluding just about every observable new particle... when will the farce end?

3:01 PM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Rather than "elegance" the deciding factor has been "symmetry". In the case of the speed of light, the symmetry is that the speed of light is constant.

In terms of Louise's theory and the cosmic background radiation, I think of it as an analysis of a game of pool on a table where, at any given time, the balls always travel at the same speed. You have a list of ball interactions. These consist of ball identifications and time identifications.

The time identification is from the temperature of the universe. You don't get space information cause space is uniform. Time is not (cosmologically).

The ball interactions cannot be explained as balls moving at constant speed while time passes at a constant rate and space does not inflate. So you have to conclude that one or more of these three assumptions is wrong. The tradition is to assume that space did inflate. But this is not the only way of dealing with the evidence.

3:45 PM  
Anonymous chimpanzee said...

"When Ideas become beliefs [ religion ] then they lose their ability to be discussed….."

It's like what my Caltech CS prof told me about theoretical physics: "it's very religious"

10:28 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thanks all for the intelligent comments! How amazing that scientists, many of whom reject religion, behave so religiously about their old ideas. It makes one wonder how much humanity has really advanced since Galileo's time. I do understand that real breakthroughs come only rarely. In the meantime, the herd must justify their cushy jobs with epicyclic theories.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Kea said...

Things are very quiet on the physics blogosphere at present. Heh, did you see that the Lucasian professorship at Cambridge is up for grabs? That would be a nice job. I am going to apply.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Victor said...

Why do scientist always insist that something, somewhere must be invariant - c, G, E, m, t - something. Long ago, Aquinas, a mendicant friar, convinced the universities of Europe to build all knowledge on Aristotle metaphysics. Aristotle insisted that we could not invent science unless we assumed that the properties of matter are not emergent.

Is the speed of light, c, a constant. How could scientists even know, since they start every deliberation with their creed that matter is not changing itself. This idea is the basis for almost every one of science’s empirical units. For example, clocks are assumed to measure invariant seconds, even though no clock can compare last year’s seconds with this years variety. Yet we can see the past all the way back to the beginning of the universe. No distant galaxy shines with the light of perpetual motion atoms. So what do scientist do? Invent invisible things to preserve their “constants” that were contrived with their historical creed. The scientific universe is 99% invisible and the 99% part is all black magic and phantom matter. No one has ever detected any of the vacuous processes or invisible matter that fills the scientific universe.

Is the speed of light a constant? Scientists use perpetual motion atomic clocks to determine how long a meter is with the speed of light. Now they measure the speed of light with their contrived meters and perpetual motion clocks. If matter is changing relationally, scientists could not detect changes locally with their system - all of which presupposes their historical assumption. Yet we can see the past with optics. No perpetual motion atoms are visible. Should we believe the scientific myths about invisible things or just accept what is visible - that all matter always changes as a relation?

4:10 PM  
Blogger robert d said...

It is all well and good to stipulate that c is changing, decreasing with respect to t, but unless you can postulate what is causing the change one is really making no progress.

Simplistically, I am assuming that you are saying that if the left hand side of your equation is held constant then as t increases then c must decrease. The bete noir here being though that once you start letting c fluxtuate , what prevents G from also adopting this posture.

A more elegant solution is to explain what constrains c to the finite value it now holds and then with respect to the constraining variables show how these variables induce a decrease in c with respect to time. Invoking Maxwell's equations would certainly give your work historical rigor.

One gets the impression in your model that c is independent of all else. A most unusual property.

Hail Holy Light,

d

9:05 PM  
Blogger Qubit said...

Time waits for no one, why should it wait for light?

11:09 AM  
Blogger Rinus Kiel said...

Maybe there is interesting material on the website of Barry Setterfield http://www.setterfield.org. Read his basic statement on the home page. And read through his research papers, read his answers on questions put to him. Good luck!

3:09 AM  
Anonymous Марјан од Виница (МК) said...

I'm just a working man with lousy English and no college degree. I read Moffat's book "Reinventing Gravity" and I conceive that he is rejecting theories with dark matter just because dark matter is still undetected(just like the ether), so I wander is there a theory that takes the ether as a dark matter.? I would like to read such a theory! It would be much more comprehendable for me:-)

12:51 AM  
Blogger Mr Lee Dong said...

Oh please these are all man made inventions cant you come up with your own to talk about besides your credentials

1:13 AM  
Anonymous generic viagra said...

I read that the famous phisist John Moffat was also an artist which is not surprising taking into a account that he was a brilliant man

9:50 AM  
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