Thursday, August 31, 2006

Einstein Continued: Real Equations

It is very, very exciting to have real equations on a blog! Previous bloggers relied on latex code without a decoder. Certain bloggers don't offer anything new except for snipes at each other. This site will strive to be both scientifically and technologically ahead.

Here, with acknowledgements to the supernova groups, is the updated Type Ia graph. Low redshifts increase linearly, indicating that the Universe expands and slows as Einstein-de Sitter predicted. Higher redshifts appear to curve upward, leading to speculation about repulsive energies. In fact, the data shows that c has decreased in exactly the amounts predicted.

Start with the expressions for c and R:

An object of redshift Z = 1.0 recedes at 60% of the present speed of light. That is only 42% of c at the time that light was emitted. The apparent z we measure is z = 0.57. For an absolute Z = 0.5, apparent z = 0.38 (horizontal arrows).

According to that other Einstein equation, energy output is also affected by change in c. For a supernova of Z = 1.0, energy output is doubled for a magnitude change of -2.5log(2) = -.75. For a supernova of Z = 0.5, magnitude change is -2.5log(1.5) = -.44 (vertical arrows).

Please observe the thick black prediction line. The line is difficult to see in the larger graph, because it is covered in data points. When the graph is blown up bigger, within error bars the prediction intercepts more than 90% of the points. Prediction fits the data precisely, without invisible energies.

It is possible to believe that a "dark energy" fills space and pushes the graph upward. Those of you with functional minds and critical thinking skills, which do you find reasonable? Hint: for some reason, others don't want you to see what is reasonable. The alternative to Theory is no theory at all, just an inferred fudge factor.

As you read this, more people are being exposed to real Theory with real equations. As was said in my very first posting, science is an adventure I am happy to be part of.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Einstein's Field Equation

Just as retrograde motion of the planets shows that Earth is not the centre, the Cosmic Microwave Background is first-hand evidence that c has changed. When we get our heads out of over-analysis and look at it, the average temperature appears the same over large areas. Large regions of Space were able to reach thermal equilibrium. Even at this time of recombination 300,000 years after the Big Bang, the speed of light was much faster.

One book everyone should take to bed (at least until my book is released) is called RELATIVITY: THE SPECIAL AND GENERAL THEORY by someone called Albert Einstein. It lists at only $6.95 US, far less than the $100+ book your professors forced you to buy. No one understood Relativity like Einstein himself. Einstein's mathematical techniques are different and more insightful than the shortcuts used today. The books written by others fail to capture Einstein's understanding of Theory.

In Chapter 31 Einstein attempts to envision the entire Universe. He concludes that the most logical shape is a sphere of 4 dimensions. His theory also predicted that a spherical space would collapse due to gravity. Einstein introduced a "cosmological constant," a repulsive force counteracting gravity. Later he called that his "greatest blunder." We shall not repeat that blunder.

When you have finished that book, move on to THE MEANING OF RELATIVITY for a more detailed mathematical treatment. In the appendix for the second edition, on page 117, he restates the field equation of gravitation, the "Einstein equation."

Here we see that R = ct and GM = tc^3 form a solution to the field equations of gravitation. Any cosmology should solve the Einstein-Friedmann equations. Since this Universe with a changing speed of light also fits the data, there is reason to be optimistic.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Puncturing of Inflation?

How many faces can you recognise in this picture? Unlike other blogs, this one will not ignore alternative ideas but give time to them. In a free society, ideas succeed and fail based upon their merits. Already I have discussed "dark energy". Peter Woit's blog is already devoted to "The Unravelling of String Theory". Today we turn to the inflationary paradigm. Does anyone have better ideas for a title? "Holes in Inflation?" "Blowing Up Inflation?"

One week ago The Australian reported a lively exchange at Cambridge over inflation. I count Alan Guth as a friend, and have a hard time believing that he would use insults. It would be sad if scientists acted like children. Since I have already entertained with monkey pictures, let's cut to the science:

"In the 1970's, Guth was one of those who realised that the Big Bang theory failed to explain how a hot chaotic fireball could become the cool universe with stable clusters of galaxies we see today.

"Rather than challenge the idea that time and space began with the Big Bang, he suggested the new universe had suddenly expanded trillions of times in a millionth of a second. That idea, called inflation, did such a good mathematical job of explaining the shape of the universe that it was adopted far and wide.

"Guth himself has built his career on it. Recently, however, it has become clear that the theory has major flaws. There is, for example, no widely accepted way for physics to explain how such 'inflation' could have happened.

"It also fails to deal with the 1990's discovery of 'dark energy,' the energy field that fills all space and which is now thought to be the cause of the universe's expansion.

"For Turok and others, such failings have become too much to live with. 'The supporters of inflation have become too evangelical. they have no idea why inflation happened but they still believe in it,' he declares."

As I have personally acknowledged to Dr. Guth, inflation is a useful step. It has provided a temporary explanation for observed phenomena. I do not write to tear other people down, for we have enough bad experiences with critics. The structure of science is built not by tearing out its foundations, but by replacing them with better ideas.

Anyone can observe that the planets appearing to move backwards in their paths, and the CMB shows that the early universe expanded faster than the present value of c. According to the inflationary paradigm, the early universe expanded at warp speed, many times faster than light. Such inflation would violate both Special Relativity and the First Law of Thermodynamics. After a quarter century of speculation, this paradigm lacks a mechanism to explain it.

Now we have a theory that is consistent with both Special and General Relativity, providing a bridge between them. CMB and supernova redshift data can be explained more precisely than with competing ideas. A true Theory contains a mechansim explaining why the Universe expands and c slows down. We are limited only by the speed of ideas to spread, which is much slower than light!

Because there is enough ugliness in the world, this blog will continue to build not tear down. NEXT: Given the limits of blogger, I will attempt to describe a solution to the "Einstein Equation".

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Celestial Sphere

Venice is known for masquerades. This sculpture decorating the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas represents an armillary sphere. The armillary was invented by Erastothenes in 255 BC. The gold rings represent the equator, longitude and latitude. The wide band angled from the equator represents the ecliptic with constellations of the zodiac. These devices usually represented Earth at the centre, which the modern artist chose to omit. Erastothenes was also famous for calculating Earth's diameter with amazing accuracy.

At about the same time Aristarchus of Samos wrote two books about the Universe. His work "On the Sizes and Distances to the Sun and Moon" contained estimates that were strikingly accurate. Those distances were measured from the Earth, fitting an Earth-centred cosmology. The enormous distances to solar system objects may have started Aristarchus thinking about alternatives. He wrote another book that is now lost and known only through citations by contemporaries like Archimedes. This second book introduced a cosmology with the Sun in the centre and Earth circling around it. Aristarchus also believed that the stars were infinitely distant, to explain their lack of parallax. Another contemporary wrote that Aristarchus should have been put on trial for the impiety of suggesting that Earth was not the centre! The cosmology of Aristarchus was incredibly prescient for its time, and the reaction to Aristarchus predated that given to Copernicus and Galileo.

Ptolemy made Earth the centre of his cosmology. From Ptolemy until the time of Copernicus, most people would believe that Earth was the centre of the Universe. In some ways this was a reasonable assumption to make. A navigator on Earth need not take into account the distances to stars, for they are too great to affect a navigator's calculations. Many scientists, including this one, keep on the shelf a clear globe with stars drawn on its surface. Though we realise today that this is just a convenience, for most of history humans believed that the stars were truly fixed to an immense sphere.

Anyone observing the planets for any length of time will see that they often appear to reverse course and travel backwards in their paths. To explain this retrograde motion, Ptolemy's cosmology relied upon epicycles, spheres within spheres. The planets were each attached to an invisible sphere, in turn attached to bigger spheres circling the Earth. These dark spheres dominated Ptolemy's Universe, opposing the tendency of objects to fall Earthward. Even today, it is tempting to explain the Universe with dark energies opposing gravity.

Old interpretations of Special Relativity treat the velocity of light as constant. In some ways this is a reasonable assumption to make, for c change is only visible at high redshifts. Special Relativity does not take gravity into account, for that is under the command of General Relativity. Linking the two Relativities leads to some surprising predictions. The best-known prediction is that c is not constant but changes over time. Change in c is visible in observations of high-redshift supernovae and other phenomena.

It is also possible to explain our observations with dark energies opposing gravity. Future posts will give time to these alternatives.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Community

The "big announcement about dark matter was Monday. The Coma Cluster shows evidence in favour of dark matter and seemingly ruling out MOND. It should be emphasised that "dark matter" and "dark energy" are unrelated phenomena.

A small but worldwide community of women has developed to blog about science. Their writings are original and informed. Unlike some other corners of the blogosphere, we do not waste electrons sniping at each other. The men do that more than enough, giving lie to the myth that women are the catty ones. In my absence, I heartily recommend:
Mahndisa whom I know from student days in California.
Arcadian Functor Kea is talking at Macquarie University in Sydney today!
Christine's Background Independence She has a PhD in astrophysics.
Backreaction Bee has the latest on subjects from the strings to dark matter.
Rae Ann is last but not least for her good taste in music and common sense.

I thank all of the above for their helpful comments. Future posts here will focus on science and continue to be positive.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

(From AP today) "A volcanic eruption in Ecuador's Andes mountains destroyed three villages, killed at least one man and left more than 60 others missing, the mayor of a village on the volcano's slope said Thursday."

Thurston Lava Tube snakes hundreds of meters through solid rock. Hundreds of tubes like this lead from Kilauea crater to the sea. The hot plume that formed them originated far below us, near the core-mantle boundary. The source of Earth's core heat has long been a mystery. When alone in the darkness, one wishes for the Light of Elendil to light the way. We can't reach Earth's core, but the mind can overcome any challenge.

A new discovery about dark matter will be announced Monday, August 21. Although MOND provides an alternative explanation,most evidence indicates that galaxies are surrounded by a halo of dark stuff. Like the Force, "it surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together." This mass gives off no light and can only be detected by gravitation. Those are big clues as to what it could be.

The Big Bang created billions upon billions of Black Holes. These were formed from quantum fluctuations grown large by expansion of Space/Time. The only limit to their size was the "horizon distance" related to the speed of light. Because c was much higher, Primordial Black Holes could have formed in a variety of sizes.

The largest Black Holes were true monsters devouring everything in sight. They cleared great voids between sheets of matter. The 70% of mass ascribed to "dark energy" could be hidden in those voids. Other massive Black Holes formed the seeds of clusters, galaxies and even smaller structures. The massive Black Hole at the Milky Way's centre may have predated the galaxy.

Smaller Black Holes formed great haloes surrounding the galaxies. Billions of times these tiny holes have collided with the Milky Way's dusty disk. These collisions triggered formation of the solar system and planets. Even if Earth formed without a Black Hole, it is likely to have collided with one. A tiny Black Hole would find its way into Earth's core and keep it hot for billions of years.

The answer to the dark matter mystery may be literally beneath our noses, shaking and roaring for us to figure it out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Into the Crater

Olympus Mons is the largest known volcano in the solar system, nearly 25 km high. This is a shield volcano like Mauna Kea and Kilauea. Hawaii's volcanoes were created by the Pacific Plate sliding over a hot plume. Because Mars does not have moving tectonic plates, this volcano sat atop its plume for hundreds of millions of years.

I'll be travelling for the next 2 weeks, so the posts will come less often. Seeing the world is a much better use of time than sitting at a computer. For your entertainment, there is a huge controversy in physics about "The Unravelling of String Theory". This was triggered by the publication of Peter Woit's book "Not Even Wrong" and Lee Smolin's "The Trouble With Physics". Reviews are in Time, New Scientist and Scientific American.

Here's one comment from Joanne at Not Even Wrong:
"If the worst case scenario plays out, and the LHC discovers nothing, then that is the end of particle physics as we know it. And that includes string theory. They may think they are immune, but they are not - they will fall due to lack of funding with the rest of us."

High energy physics enjoyed a free ride for decades because we gave the world nuclear power. This success encouraged physicists to build more expensive experiments to seek even more theoretical particles. The Large Hadron Collider and its search for a Higgs Boson are the latest examples. Physicists would like to spend hundreds of millions on "dark energy," even though it does not exist.

There are avenues of research far more fruitful than what has been fashionable. These lead to understanding of the very beginnings of Earth and the Universe. There are sources of energy far greater than nuclear power. I'm standing atop an energy source that most scientists still don't understand. Physicists need to get their heads out of the equations, take a risk and listen to Nature.

It is a cloudy day and I am inside Kilauea Crater. A 2-dimensional photo can not begin to describe this place. We are completely surrounded by hot vents billowing steam. We are only beginning to understand what is all around us. It is a great disappointment that we are not walking on Mars, but science still plods along.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Lava Flow

August 15 update from Hawaii Volcano Observatory:
"Lava continues to flow through the PKK lava tube from its source on the southwest flank of Pu 'u 'O 'o to the ocean. There are currently two widely separated ocean entries, East Lae 'apuki and East Ka 'ili 'ili, that are both inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park."

Like the Universe, the Big Island is expanding. These photos were taken February 7, and are courtesy of USGS. I am atop a magma plume, an immense river of heat rising from thousands of kilometres below. The soil in Hawaii is red because of the high concentration of iron near Earth's core. Hawaii sits in the centre of a Pacific Plate moving slowly over this plume.

In school they taught that Earth's core is hot because of "radioactive decay". The red Hawaiian soil, which originates deep within the Earth, contains no unusual traces of radioactivity. Radioactive elements like Uranium and Potassium-40 are unlikely to exist in the core; they are only common in Earth's crust. Something else is keeping the core hot, causing volcanoes, earthquakes and the land we live on.

The fire goddess Pele is continually building new land. Islands in the northwest like Midway were created first, then the major islands starting at Kauai with the Big Island as the youngest. Currently Kilauea volcano on this island is highly active and still adding to the island. As with the Universe, this expansion is slowing. To the southeast, a new island is building beneath the sea. It will surface in a few thousand years.

Lava from the plume bubbles to the surface within Kilauea's crater. As it flows toward the sea, some of the lava solidifies. Beneath this rugged surface are thousands of lava tubes. Behind me is East Lae 'apuki, where lava dumps directly into the sea. This could be the endpoint of a journey fired by Hawking radiation from a tiny Black Hole.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Big Island

Everyone needs a home to return to. The next few days' photos will be from a place very near to an islander's heart, HAWAII. With telescopes atop Mauna Kea and active vulcanism, the Big Island is the perfect place for a cosmologist. Kilauea Volcano has been very active lately, and there has been volcanic activity in Indonesia and the Philippines. Hawaii is conveniently located in the middle of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

For a light-hearted look at the current world mess, Green Helmet Guy from propaganda photos now has a blog! His views on fooling the media are timely and very funny! My response to those who imprison women in burquas is to wear whatever we want.

Mahndisa has contributed some interesting posts on Loop Quantum Gravity. Christine Dantas also writes about Quantum Gravity theories. You may also see the August 12 cover story in New Scientist about Sundance Bilson and Lee Smolin's work. It is very promising to see LQG get wide airplay.

Some consider Loop Quantum Gravity as a rival to the string enterprise. A few theorists look down on those not enmeshed in strings. There is absolutely no reason for rivalry, except that strings have jealously dominated theoretical physics for years. LQG may end up describing entirely different phenomena.

Recent work by Sundance and Lee at the Perimeter Institute suggests that LQG may predict the configurations of light particles such as the electron and positron. If so, that is a big and promising achievement. The Holy Grail of theoretical physics is to predict physical parameters, such as the masses of fundamental particles. As for two important parameters, the speed of light c and the Planck value h, readers of this site already know how to predict those!

Below is an aerial shot I took of Mauna Kea in Winter, all covered in snow. Here one can snowboard and snorkel on the same island. What more could anyone ask for?

Friday, August 11, 2006


(from Webster's) 1. a small hardy naturalized horse of United States western plains directly descended from horses brought in by the Spaniards.

The P-51 MUSTANG was originally produced for the Royal Air Force by North American Aviation. It was later adopted by the US Army Air Force, for the Mustang was one of the finest fighters made. Having a longer range than the P-40, it was able to escort bombers on missions over continental Europe. It was the mount of many famous aces like Chuck Yeager.

Difficult times can bring out the best in a society. During World War 2, the US needed all the pilots it could get. For the first time, African Americans were allowed to be combat pilots. They formed the famous Tuskegee Airmen, and the P-51 was their favourite aircraft. Women were also trained to fly fighters. Aviator Jacqueline Cochran organised the Women's Air Force Service Pilots (WASP's). Many of these P-51's were ferried across the Atlantic by woman pilots.

The shortage of men put large numbers of women into the work force. Rosie the Riveter and her sisters helped win the battle for production. This aeroplane may have been built by women. Wars are won by logistics, and women were the shieldmaidens. They paved the way for women to enter technical fields after the war.

After the war, these swords were hammered into plowshares. The P-51 became a star of the airshow circuit. In 1950, Jacqueline Cochran flew a P-51 to break the speed record for propellor aircraft. With the need passed, nearly all the African and woman pilots were returned to society. Many years later, another generation of women and minorities started appearing in the pilot's seat.

Some of you have faced the challenges to women and minorities in science. No one can deny that they exist. Even if a woman's ideas are better than others, she may be dismissed as a 'crackpot'. If our science and engineering are to stay ahead, we must encourage people to stay in science. A few heroes can pave the way for others to follow. Somehow, freedom and truth always win out.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Sunny Day in Wartime

This is the Captain's chair of HMAS VAMPIRE. She was commisioned in 1956, served in the Vietnam war, and became the Australian Navy's primary training ship. Nearly every RAN officer has spent some time aboard Vampire. Australia has contributed troops to nearly every major conflict from the first two world wars until today.

The news reminds us that this exciting time is also a time of war. Today women enjoy more freedom and opportunity than at any time in history. In response, bad guys have attacked around the world, from Bali to the Middle East to Seattle. Their leaders would have us uneducated and wearing the burqua. Like their predecessors 60 years ago, they universally hate Jewish people. Does anyone doubt that this is a worldwide war?

This time is unlike the 1930's because today's fascists do not wear uniforms, carry ID cards, or sign treaties. Cutting off the head does not kill the organisation, for it will grow back like a starfish. Rather than a top-down command structure, their nervous system is distributed. The internet that we enjoy spreads their message.

We can travel, meet and study in relative safety because far away others fight for that freedom. In the 1930's it was believed that ignoring fascism would lead to peace in our time. Appeasement led to Pearl Harbor, war and holocaust in Europe. Australia suffered air raids and nearly faced invasion during 1942. Hopefully we have learned from history.

Since many European flights go through Heathrow, today's events affect the IAU meeting in Prague. We are all products of the time we live in. Greater freedom allows us to study science in the first place. Finally, it is sometimes necessary to defend an idea even when it is difficult. This applies to c change or the very idea of freedom.

This post may lead to some lively discussion among friends. More comments are welcome.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Life from Mars Via Antarctica?

Rather than talk repeatedly about c change, I will spend a couple of days talking about some other fascinating research.

From the UK Guardian: "(August 6) marks the 10th anniversary of NASA's claim to have discovered life on Mars. Their announcement was based on the study of a meteorite known as ALH84001 that had fallen to Earth 13,000 years previously and remained undetected on an ice sheet in Antarctica until 1984."

From AP: "Ten years later, the results have not been verified. Skeptics have found nonbiological explanations for every piece of evidence that was presented on August 6, 1996. And though they still vigorously defind their claim, the NASA scientists who advanced it now stand alone in their belief." (Shame on you, AP, for beginning sentences with "and")

ALH84001 is so named because it was found in the Allan Hills, an area in the Trans-Antarctic Mountains that is rich in meteorites. Of the few known Martian meteorites, this is the oldest at 4.5 billion years. That is nearly as old as the planets themselves, and may date from a time when Mars was more comfortable for life. Above is an enlarged image of a particle from ALH84001, showing carbonate globules in orange. The 1996 researchers claimed to have found organic hydrocarbons within these globules. However, these compounds are commonly found in other meteorites and in Antarctic ice.

The picture below, taken with an electron microscope, shows tubular forms similiar to Earth bacteria. These formations are 100 times smaller than the bacteria we know. Discovery of magnetite grains was considered even stronger evidence for life. Other scientists claim that these forms can be reproduced without life. Since these photos come via AP, we must ask whether the Martians staged or Photoshopped them!

If Martian meteorites did carry life, we would face the question of whether life evolved on Mars first. Then we all could be Martians! Earth is downhill from Mars in the Sun's gravity well. The answer may wait until humans walk the surface.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Blue Shift

As Kea commented yesterday, the Blue Mountains appear blue because of eucalyptus mist in the atmosphere. This is an example of blueshift? Instead of being redshifted by expansion of the Universe, light here is shifted into blue. Today's physicists would say it is caused by dark energy...

Here you can also visit the spectacular Jenolan Caves. Last month scientists here announced their discovery that these caves are 340 million years old! That is far before the age of dinosaurs, the Carboniferous era. They are by far the oldest open caves on Earth. Previously Carlsbad Caverns in the US were thought to be the oldest at 90 million years.

As we learned from Special Relativity, Space and Time are both part of the same phenomenon. They are related by factor c, commonly experienced as the speed of light. Within these local conditions, c may be considered constant. Special Relativity does not allow for the curvature of gravity. We must consider the curved Universe of General Relativity.

The circle below represents our entire Universe, with spatial dimensions x, y, and z compressed into the screen. There is no centre in Space, for every bit resembles every other bit. There is a centre in Time, commonly called a "Big Bang." Near that initial singularity, total mass M occupied a tiny Universe. We are separated from that origin by age t. As Isaac Newton showed 400 years ago, gravitational pull from a spherical mass is the same as if all that mass were concentrated in the centre.

Newton also realised that the Moon's path and the trajectory of a cannon shell are both orbits around Earth's centre. Photon paths may be considered as orbits around the Universe. Radius R of this path increases with expansion. When a satellite moves into a higher orbit, its velocity slows. Mass M bends light paths into a circle, and slows the velocity of light.

Scale R of the Universe is its age t multiplied by c, or R = ct. From this one can derive GM = tc^3. To answer Q9's question about horizons, the maximum distance light can travel is given by int{c(t)dt} = (3/2)ct. The horizon distance is exactly proportional to scale R. The most distant visible objects are about halfway around that circle. That is why we don't see new structures appear in the CMB.

There is news on Universe Today that observations may require revision of the "Hubble constant," and therefore the estimated age. We can take measurements forever, and keep adding epicycles to explain these results. It is much better to explain the world from first principles. Then we can put the Universe on a T-shirt!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Blue Mountains

Most of Australia's 20 million people live along the coast. For decades the Blue Mountains were a barrier to exploration of the Outback. Aside from the rugged highlands, the lowlands are thick with rainforest. Today Australia's interior is largely empty, which leads to a feeling of being on a frontier. As we learn in quantum mechanics, even "impossible" barriers can be tunneled through!

Thomas Dent left a very intelligent comment on Rob Knop's blog:

"The 'Riofrio equation' G M = t c^3 where M is the 'mass of the Universe' (whatever that means) and t is its age, can be written in Planck units, which are much more sensible to discuss questions of basic cosmology. Then it becomes:

M / M_P = t / t_P

i.e. the mass of the Universe, measured in Planck masses, is proportional to the age of the Universe in Planck times..."

Kudos to Thomas for following this far. As I have written, it is likely that the product hc really is constant. If c ~ t^(-1/3) then h ~ t^(1/3). Then the 'Planck mass' M_P = sqrt{hbar c/G} is constant. Planck time t_P = sqrt{hbar G/c^5} works out to be proportional to age t of the Universe. Written in Planck units, both sides of M / M_P = t / t_P are still equal.

If h and c are related, then Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are linked! An increasing h explains the thermodynamic 'Arrow of Time". The uncertainties represented by h increase with time. The other arrow, the Cosmological Arrow, is simply explained by R = ct. Expansion of Space is indistinguishable from the forward flow of Time.

Behind me is a demonstration of quantum tunneling. The Blue Mountains may have once seemed like a barrier, but enough determined Australians eventually carved a railway through them! As with the "sound barrier" or any other barrier, there will always be those who say it can't be done. You don't have to be Chuck Yeager to push the envelope; sometimes we just need a child to say that the emperor has no clothes. There are no barriers, only challenges.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Dark Side

Before I spend a week writing about useful things, here continues the story of "dark energy."

"Two groups" studying the same phenomenon of Type Ia supernovae, and both using the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) telescopes in Cerro Tololo, Chile simultaneously announced dark energy in 1998. This was hailed by SCIENCE magazine as "Breakthrough of the year."

The largest group in Berkeley, the Supernova Cosmology Project, next planned a Supernova Acceleration Probe (SNAP). This would be a 2-meter infrared telescope located at L2, on the other side of the Moon. SNAP would find thousands of supernovae to further refine the "dark energy equation of state." This project would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

At a conference in Tucson, Arizona in March 2004; another group led by NOAO's Tod Lauer announced a rival proposal. Their Dark Energy Space Telescope (DESTINY) was touted as a lower-cost alternative. Just last week NASA chose this concept for further funding. Below are concepts for SNAP (left) and DESTINY (right).

They look the same, don't they? The SNAP team should have taken out a patent. The main difference is that SNAP would have a 2-meter mirror and DESTINY a 1.65-m mirror.

The smaller mirror leads to a spacecraft with about half the mass, with corresponding economies of fuel and launch vehicle.

Without substantial changes, it is difficult to see how the SNAP proposal can fly when a lower-cost alternative is available.

Neither project may fly anytime soon, for the space astronomy budget is dominated by the James Webb Space Telescope. JWST will look at similiar infrared wavelenghts to SNAP and DESTINY, and can also be used to seek high-redshift supernovae.

Assuming that either of these missions get off the ground, they will not capture a single wave or particle of 'dark energy' to prove it exists. All they will do is refine the magnitude-redshift curve in an attempt to distinguish between the myriad models for DE. Even if "dark energy" exists, it has no conceivable practical value. It would be so diffuse in Space that it could not power your car or even your cellphone. Speculation about repulsive "dark energy" has not led to understanding, but to a divergence of possible solutions.

Those of you who hold real jobs and pay real taxes, do you wish to spend hundreds of millions to fund "dark energy" experiments? Perhaps you see why physics has lost respect among the wider public.

If one wishes to investigate whether c has changed, all one needs is an inexpensive experiment for independently measuring c. Soon you will hear about experiments which do exactly that.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Observatory Hill

Sydney Observatory was established in 1858 and is the oldest observatory in Australia. The night sky here is beautiful, starting with the Southern Cross and a lovely view of the Milky Way. We also have fine views of nearby stars like Sirius and Alpha Centauri. Australia still has that frontier spirit of unlimited horizons. Especially when talking with Antarctic scientists, there is a feeling of teamwork toward common goals. Women in science are most welcome here. By the way, we have a whole group of astronomers working on a changing speed of light.

I have added a further comment on Cosmic Variance:
One could question the wisdom of calling something a "cosmic jerk," naming a "dark energy" after what Sith Lords peddled, or christening "Concordance" cosmology after a plane that crashed and doesn't fly anymore.

However, it is time to question the "independently supported" mantra. Evidence of cosmic acceleration was published simultaneously by two groups in 1998. One group was headed by Saul Perlmutter at LBL. The other lead author was Adam Riess of Berkeley, whose office was only 500 m from Perlmutter's. Both groups looked at the same phenomenon, redshifts of Type Ia supernovae. The independence was that Perlmutter was head of one group and Riess part of another.

Redshifts are the only evidence of cosmic acceleration. The CMB says nothing about acceleration. In fact, the CMB is good evidence that c has changed. Average temperature is the same over large parts of the sky, indicating that large regions were in causal contact. Even at the time of recombination 300,000 years after the Big Bang, c was much greater.

Additional evidence comes from Active Galactic Nuclei. These massive primordial Black Holes are observed to have formed shortly after the Big Bang. This could only occur if the horizon distance determined by c was much greater. There is even more precise evidence from a nearby star.

If one knows how to read a Graph, it can be seen that GM=tc^3 precisely predicts redshifts of Type Ia supernovae, even in the transitional "jerk" period. All this has been shown without inferring repulsive "dark" energies.

On the lighter side, in his comment on Not Even Wrong, Chris offers some hilarious career advice for a woman. He was also nice enough to include a trackback, so you can quickly return here. Not to worry, Chris, I have already met Stephen H. Your comments on Woit's post have been cut off, so you are welcome to leave them here.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


HMB ENDEAVOUR is a working replica of Captain James Cook's first command. In 1768-1771, Cook circled the world and produced detailed charts of New Zealand and Australia. Onboard is a piece of the original ENDEAVOUR, salvaged from the reef where Cook threw it overboard to lighten the ship. One of the nails was flown into orbit by the shuttle Endeavour. The thoroughness of Cook's mapmaking is extraordinary. How many Naval personnel today can draw their own charts? One has to step aboard a ship like this to appreciate the magnitude of Cook's achievements.

This is the deck containing the officer's quarters. As you can see, the overhead beams are barely 150 cm from the deck! If you didn't bump your head, there were many ropes and lines to toughen one's hands on. How often today do we spend 3 years out of communication making life-or-death decisions? Cook's ENDEAVOUR inspires us to show courage in lonely and difficult spots.

My two cents were added to a Cosmic Variance discussion on the Arrows of Time:
The Universe is based upon a very simple principle: Expansion of Space is indistinguishable from the forward flow of Time. In math terms, R = ct. Scale R of the Universe is its age t, multiplied by factor c. That is why, as t increases, the Universe expands. That is the first arrow of time, the Cosmological Arrow.

The Universe can't expand at the same rate continuously, for gravitation slows it down. Factor c is further related to t by GM = tc^3, where GM combines the Mass and Newton constant of the Universe. When t was tiny, c was enormous and the Universe expanded like a bang. As t increases, expansion slows and contnues asymptotically to this day.

Since the product hc is constant, h increases proportional to t^(1/3). As R increases proportional to t^(2/3), the number of available quantum states in this volume increases. A growing h leads to increasing entropy. That is the second arrow of time, the Thermodynamic Arrow.

If one calculates, the total energy of the Universe E = O! It's the ultimate free lunch, which is how the Universe expanded from a tiny volume to the complexity we observe today. You needn't add any energy to the system. Increasing h leads to complexity in the Universe.

Now we can state some initial conditions: At time t = O, R = O and the Universe resembles an initial singularity. We also have h = O, for in zero size there is no uncertainty in position of anything. The value of c here approaches infinity. These conditions are highly unstable, an initial extremum. A nearly infinite c caused the Universe to expand at an enormous rate, slowed by gravity.

Thoughtful replies are surprising and welcome! (From the assembled big brains, there was one reply: "huh?") Perhaps one day they will look at the math and see how GM =tc^3 fits the data better than other models, without any imaginary inflatons or dark energies. In the meantime, amazing things are discovered every day. James Cook is an inspiration to go where no one has dared go before.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

View from Another Bridge

This is the top of Sydney Harbour Bridge! In Arthur Clarke's THE FOUNTAINS OF PARADISE, the builder of the first Space Elevator is inspired as a child while flying kites beneath this bridge.
Today at Spaceflight Now is news that NASA has selected a concept called ADEPT to study for a future "dark energy" mission. Unfortunately for LBL, no one from the SNAP collaboration has been named to the team. The leaders of this ADEPT team also led the WMAP project, which will ensure that any data will be interpreted to confirm their Concorde cosmology.
Below is a picture I took of a baby WOMBAT. No particular reason to include it, except that Wombats are the cutest babes in the Universe.

Devils in Danger

More links have been added, for those interested in Space and science news. If you check out, there is news about a possible shuttle mission to rescue the Hubble telescope.
The animal that symbolises Tasmania is endangered by a mysterious disease. At least half of Tasmanian Devils found in the wild show symptons of an infectious mouth disease with symptons similiar to cancer. Research is still underway to determine the cause. We can hope that more can be learned, and that the population can recover from this strange epidemic.
I photographed this cute little fellow during supper. There will be no pictures of me petting him, (Sorry, LM!) for his jaws can chew right through bone. Here in Tasmania they serve an important function of removing "road kill" from the highways.
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