Friday, September 30, 2011


More doubts about a repulsive "dark energy" arise every day. In a new paper accepted by Physical Review D, Christos Tsagas of Aristotle University in Greece suggests that apparent acceleration of the universe could be an illusion. The cause would be our galaxy being part of a "dark flow". Such a flow would make expansion of the universe appear nonuniform, creating the illusion of acceleration. The paper builds on work by Alexander Kashlinsky here in NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

This blog reported Kashlinsky's work back in September 2008, Going With the Flow. That year Kashlinsky reported that clusters of galaxies, including our Milky Way, appear to be moving at 600 km/sec toward some unseen attractor. What kind of enormous object could cause this flow is unknown, but it could be a super-sized ultra massive Black Hole. Old models of cosmology can not even account for the Black Holes within galaxies. Such immensely massive objects, along with the illusion of acceleration, are predicted by GM=tc^3 and a changing speed of light.

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Back in Texas, the Federal Aviation Administration plans to issue permits for testing SpaceX's Grasshopper vehicle at their McGregor test site. SpaceX will also be building launch facilities here in Texas, preparing for a 3-year test program. Grasshopper consists of a Falcon 9 1st stage tank, a Merlin 1-D engine, four landing legs, and additional tankage. The tests would culminate in Grasshopper lifting off and landing vertically.

Through the miracle of reusable airplanes, we can travel inexpensively from Texas to Washington DC. Yesterday September 29 here in Washington, SpaceX's Elon Musk spoke to us at the National Press Club. He revealed that SpaceX is working on a fully reusable version of the Falcon 9-Dragon combo. As seen in this 4-minute video, the first and second stages would both return to land vertically. The Dragon spacecraft, upon completion of it's mission, would reenter and land using it's escape engines.

A fully reusable spacecraft has been a dream since early concepts of the Space Shuttle. Original concepts for Shuttle visualized a two-stage vehicle with a winged flyback booster. The risk and development costs led to the solid boosters and expendable tank. If every piece could be flown again, Elon estimates that costs per launch could decrease a hundredfold. With today's technology,Elon thinks that a fully reusable booster can finally become reality.

The Falcon Heavy would use 3 parallel Falcon 9 first stages to lift up to 53 tons into orbit. Could Falcon Heavy also be made fully reusable? That would greatly decrease the costs of Heavy Lift. NASA is presently designing a Space Launch System using components adapted from Shuttle to launch 70 tons and up into orbit. A fully reusable launcher would give NASA and SLS some serious competition.


Thursday, September 29, 2011


Washington DC was rainy last night, but today's weather is lovely. The Canada-America-Mexico Physics conference is in the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel, within sight of the Capitol Building. Photos coming soon.

Proponents of "dark energy" claim that it's existence is proven, even if not a single sample exists. For proof they cite a complex chain of reasoning. Like the Emperor's New Clothes, only the truly enlightened can understand the evidence. Everyone else, even other scientists, can only quote the meme that DE must exist.

The September 29 issue of NATURE contains this paper:

Gravitational redshift of galaxies in clusters as predicted by general relativity

"The theoretical framework of cosmology is mainly defined by gravity, of which general relativity is the current model. Recent tests of general relativity within the Lambda Cold Dark Matter (ΛCDM) model have found a concordance between predictions and the observations of the growth rate and clustering of the cosmic web. General relativity has not hitherto been tested on cosmological scales independently of the assumptions of the ΛCDM model. Here we report an observation of the gravitational redshift of light coming from galaxies in clusters at the 99 per cent confidence level, based on archival data. Our measurement agrees with the predictions of general relativity and its modification created to explain cosmic acceleration without the need for dark energy..."

Despite the many press releases about "dark energy," doubts continue to grow. While data may fit a universe with DE, the same data also corresponds to no DE at all. Hypotheses of a repulsive "dark energy" has not led to theory, just a divergence of speculations that erode the reputation of science. While there will be no samples of DE, there is evidence of a changing speed of light.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Neutrinos Pass Through LIght Barrier

Neutrinos are shadowy particles that can pass right through the Earth. For a long time they were thought to be massless, now scientists know that neutrinos have a tiny mass. Neutrinos were found in three flavors: electron, muon and tau. Recently neutrinos were found to change from one flavor to another. These discoveries were not part of the Standard model of particle Physics.

CERN is known for the giant Large Hadron Collider. Built to discover the theorized Higgs boson, LHC has so far failed to find the Higgs. Scientists are beginning to doubt that the Higgs exists at all. If the Higgs boson is not found, the Standard model will be in jeopardy. Other experiments at CERN may be just as important for Physics.

Today researchers from CERN will announce that neutrinos can travel faster than light. From

Particles Break Light Speed Limit

The OPERA detector is located 1400 meters underground and 730 km from CERN. OPERA is designed to detect neutrinos emanating from CERN experiments. By timing neutrino travel over this baseline, researchers can say with confidence that they have exceeded the speed of light. For a long time that speed was considered an inviolable constant. As followers of this blog know, c is slowing down. All things change with time, and someday a constant speed of light will be seen as just a stipulation.

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

DAWN Brings a Vesta Mystery

The DAWN spacecraft orbiting Vesta has allowed scientists to create this false colour model of the asteroid. Vesta's South Pole contains an enormous depression hundreds of kilometers across. At first the depression was thought to be an impact crater, but it's shape is all wrong. More mysterious, at the South Pole is an enormous mountain 15 km high, one of the tallest peaks in the Solar System. Scientists are baffled as to how such a huge mountain could form here.

We are fortunate to have samples of Vesta that arrived on Earth as meteorites. Vesta meteorites show signs of volcanic heating. How heating could occur on an asteroid has also been a mystery. The answer to these puzzles may be something that formed shortly after the Big Bang.

Vesta's formation could be explained if it formed around a small Black Hole. As seen on Saturn's moon Enceladus, the singularity would cause the South Pole to be heated. This permanent hot spot would support volcanic action almost indefinitely. A mountain would build up until it rivaled Olympus Mons in height. Lava rocks from the volcano would be ejected into Space, a few of them reaching Earth as meteorites. Even an asteroid could potentially be home to a Black Hole.

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Monday, September 19, 2011


Another photo from USS Lexington: on September 11, 2011 we held a remembrance ceremony with members of all branches of the military. (The writer was on duty at a Naval base 10 years ago.) We would prefer to remember 2001 for Space Odysseys to the planets or big discoveries in Physics. In addition to terror and fear, someday we will remember the positive.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Vettes and Jets 2011

USS Lexington AVT-16 is an Essex-class carrier built (mostly by women) during WW2. For many years she was stationed in Pensacola, Florida as training carrier. Navy aircrew, including many future astronauts, learned the important art of carrier landings on the "Lex." Based in Corpus Christi, Texas, she is the oldest surviving aircraft carrier in the world. The weekend of September 10-11 she was host to "Jets and Vettes on the Lex," a Corvette show with nearly 350 cars on display. Photo is of a former Naval aircrew with her current ride. In background is one of the T-2 Buckeye jet trainers that operated off Lexington.

One of our F-14 Tomcats in the colors of VF-84 "Jolly Rogers," Carrier Air Wing 8 assigned to USS Nimitz. F-14 pilots and Radar Intercept Officers (RIO) loved fast cars, Corvettes or Porsches. Early Saturday morning our cars rode the aircraft elevator to the flight deck.

Looking forward from Lexington bridge. An F/A-18 Hornet in Blue Angel colors also sits near a catapult. The Hornet has replaced the F-14 as the US Navy's primary carrier-borne fighter.

Looking aft with A-3 Skywarrior. From the 1960's, the Corvette was preferred car of NASA astronauts. Pete Conrad's Apollo 12 crew rode to training 3 matching Vettes. The Corvette is considered the only American sports car in continuous production. As the astronauts' preferred ride, Corvettes are also a part of NASA history.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Space Launch System

Today NASA formally unveiled this Space Launch System (SLS), which would replace Ares to launch missions beyond Earth orbit. This design resembles the DIRECT system championed by rebel engineers. It is planned to initially launch 70 ton payloads to low Earth orbit, eventually evolving to 130 tons. SpaceX's planned Falcon Heavy would launch 53 tons. This plan will leverage the expertise and human resources of the Shuttle program.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Black Holes Are Dark

The above statement points to an obvious solution of the "dark matter" mystery. Since the work of Fritz Zwicky in the 1930's and Vera Rubin in the 1950's, astronomers have suspected that galaxies contain hidden mass. Something that is dark but has gravitational attraction is a perfect description of Black Holes, billions of them populating the galactic halo. Yet physicists tend to ignore Black Holes as "dark matter" candidates, preferring to search for exotic particles like neutralinos and WIMPS. None of these speculated particles has ever been found. Scientists from a particle physics background would prefer if the answer was in their exotic particles.

The August 23 issue of NEW SCIENTIST contains an interesting article:

Is the Universe Made of Holes?

"MOST of the matter in the universe gives out no light, or at least so little that it is currently undetectable. Yet we know it is out there because its gravity keeps stars and galaxies in their orbits. Pretty much everyone thinks that this so-called dark matter is made of hitherto undiscovered subatomic particles. Physicists are hopeful they will find a candidate in high-speed collisions at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland.

"But could we have got dark matter all wrong? Mike Hawkins thinks so. He believes that rather than particles, what we call dark matter is actually legions of black holes created shortly after the big bang."

Because the speed of light was once much faster, primordial singularities could have formed with a variety of masses. Mathematics predicts
that 23.87% of mass will have collapsed into singularities, surrounding the galaxies in haloes of dark mass. Some of these primordial Black Holes could exist in our solar system, even within Earth's core. The solution to this dark mystery may be beneath our feet.

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