Monday, January 16, 2012

King Day

Happy Martin Luther King Day in the US! In researching the life of Dr. King, I was surprised to learn he was a Republican. During the 1960's most of the opposition to civil rights came from the other party. This post was originally published in 2010:

Another Nobel Prize Winner: This Sunday, October 16, Washington's Martin Luther King Memorial will be dedicated. The ceremony would have happened earlier, but the surprise earthquake in September caused postponement. Even the US Eastern seaboard is vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis. Because of the delay, we visitors to DC have been able to preview the monument. Behind a 30-foot King statue is a marble wall filled with his quotes. One of King's bits of wisdom could apply to physicists puzzling about "dark energies."

"Darkness can not drive out darkness, only light can do that."

The answer to apparent acceleration of the universe has not been found in hypothetical "dark" energies. Such speculations are rejected by the public and will harm the reputation of physicists. Redshifts of distant objects are roughly proportional to recession velocity divided by the speed of light, v/c. The non-linear redshifts of Type Ia supernovae, which just won its discoverers their own Nobel, is more plausibly due not to v accelerating, but to c slowing down. The answer to the mystery is not in the dark, but in light.

In 2009 the Nobel Peace Prize committee inexplicably rewarded a man with no record of peace, leading to much ridicule. This year's award goes to Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, and Tawakkol Karman from Yemen. All three women have faced and continue to face formidable opposition. Karman, the first Arab woman to win the Prize, has been detained and harassed by mobs with clubs. Women who face such challenges deserve the Nobel Prize.


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