Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Fastest Man

The Bell X-2 rocket plane was built to explore the flight regime beyond Mach 3. Dropped from a Boeing B-50 mother plane, it would fly higher and faster than humans had dared before. Early tests indicated that aircraft at Mach 3 would encounter severe aerodynamic heating and severe stability problems. On September 7, 1956 test pilot Ivan Kincheloe (standing) became the first pilot to exceed 100,000 feet, flying the X-2 to an altitude of 126,200 feet. The saga of Icarus continues.

50 years ago September 27, 1956 Milburn "Mel" Apt (seated) flew to Mach 3.2, the first man to exceed three times the speed of sound. Having been instructed not to attempt any rapid control movements at high speed, Mel flew a nearly perfect flight profile. Unfortunately, shortly after reaching top speed the X-2 went out of control, leading to a flat spin. Both aircraft and pilot were lost. Apt's widow was informed that day.

Until the arrival of the X-15, no one would fly so high or so fast.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Faint Young Sun

This amazing photo shows Atlantis and ISS silhouetted against the Sun.

The "Faint Young Sun" has long been a paradox. Astrophysicists have developed detailed models of the Sun's evolution. According to these models life should not have evolved on Earth, because 4 billion years ago the Sun shone with barely 70% of its present luminosity. Earth's temperature would have been 15 degrees below zero centigrade and the planet woud have been frozen solid. Evolution of life would have been very unlikely.

Geology shows evidence of sedimentation 4 billion years ago, indicating presence of rivers and seas. Other geological markers confirm the presence of liquid water. Paleontology dates the earliest organisms at least 3.4 billion and possibly 4 billion years old. Clearly water and life both existed when models say that Earth was frozen solid. The fact that life exists to read this post contradicts the standard solar model. This conflict with observations is the Faint Young Sun Paradox.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ansari For President

You heard it here first: Anousheh Ansari is the true leader of Persian people. She represents the aspirations of women worldwide. When the history of regime change is written, her influence will be noted. She has advanced the cause of freedom as much as a squadron of B-52's.

Dozens of space travel enthusiasts, most of them women, burst into applause at dawn at an observatory near Tehran as the spacecraft carrying the first Iranian woman to travel into space appeared in the sky.

Anousheh Ansari, who began her journey into space Monday aboard a Soyuz TMA-9 capsule from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, has become an inspiration to women in male-dominated Iran.

The Soyuz spacecraft containing Ansari and Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin docked with the International Space Station on Wed. Sept. 20, two days after launch.

Space enthusiasts gathered Saturday at the Zaferanieh Observatory in Tehran were rapt as they followed the progress of the space station, visible to the naked eye for about two minutes, as it streaked across the sky.

"Anousheh is my hope," said teenager Delageh Dabdeh, watching the spacecraft as tears of joy rolled down her cheek. "She will shine in Iranian history as the woman who broke barriers and succeeded in conquering Space with her endeavour. Ansari has shown Iranian women the road to progress. We only need to believe in ourselves." (AP)

Ansari said she has received many messages from around the world, including Iran, particularly from girls and women. "I want to reach women and girls in remote parts of the world where women are not encouraged to go into science and technology jobs," she said, "They should believe in what they want and pursue it." (NY Times)

In the country where Ansari was born women are forced to wear headscarves, a man can have up to four wives, minorities are suppressed and protesters are jailed without trail. Her adopted country offers the opportunity to get rich, travel in Space and look great at 40. She has a bachelor's degree in EECS, a master's degree in EE, and is getting her next degree in Australia! Which system is right and which is an axis of evil?

Monday, September 25, 2006


Mahndisa's Thoughts are most valuable. Over the weekend she posed some very thoughtful questions. I hope to answer them adequately. Mahndisa, you are welcome to ask more. Hopefully this can answer Q9's question too.

1) When you speak of 2 objects separated by a distance in spacetime, from what frame are you taking the measurements; the observer frame, the frame of the moving object, or what?

Separation ds between two objects is an invariant as in Special Relativity, regardless of where it is measured from.

2) Are the objects moving with respect to one another as the most general case of your equations?

That separation ds is also invariant if they are moving with respect to one another.

3) Are calculations in the non inertial reference frames a feature of your theory, or are you performing calculations in the weak gravity limit only?

Someone should have asked this of Albert, because Special Relativity makes no allowance for gravity. SR can be modified to account for gravity, which will lead to a c change.

4) When you invoke a changing c, how is the expression modified in non inertial frames?

Change in c results directly from a non inertial frame with gravity included.

5) What is the mechanism for the change in c?

This results from unifying the local conditions of Special Relativity (which do not account for gravity) with the large-scale Universe of General Relativity. In SR, the interval ds is given by:

6) Are you assuming that the large scale structure of the Universe is Euclidean, given the expression R = ct?

No, it only appears Euclidean on the local scale. In the large scale it is spherical of radius R = ct.

7) Given this information, how have you applied the Minkowski metric to your derivations of distance and your distinctions between timelike, lightlike and spacelike separations?

As should be seen above, this curved metric with changing c reduces to the Minkowski metric. The math links SR and GR.

8) I also thought that you assumed a spherically symnetric spacetime in your model.

Correct. R = ct applies to the distance from the Big Bang singularity. On the local scale, distances can be considered as little r = ct. On the large scale, those distances are geodesics. For instance, the distance light has travelled since the Big Bang is (3/2)ct.

9) Do you think that your equations are scale invariant?

Not quite, because all this predicts that the Universe has a limited size. For example, the power spectrum of the CMB is not scale invariant, something the WMAP team blithely ignores.

10) Are your equations diffeomorphism invariant?

Yes, they are the same under all coordinate systems. This math should show that they are also Lorentz invariant.

I wish to expand upon question 5, to answer both Mahndisa and Quasar. As Einstein figured out in 1917, mass of the Universe will cause light to follow circular paths, like satellite orbits. Every photon that we see today appears to have the same velocity, because they are orbiting at the same Space/Time distance from the Big Bang origin. When the Universe expands, that distance increases. Like a satellite shifting to a higher orbit, velocity goes down.

Gebar, you are right about the equations of the Lorentz transformation. They are the equations of a sphere!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Corals and Cosmology

Many questions have come in lately. Today Kea's curiosity about coral reefs will be answered. Mahndisa's questions will be next, with both graphics and equations. Since we can't afford a SNAP spacecraft, we must be creative. The coral reefs of Queensland and Hawaii are an indescribable adventure. Snorkelling in the reef is a visit to another world. Among the reef's ancient wisdom are clues to cosmology.

Among the equipment left on the Moon by Apollo astronauts was the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment (LLRE). This simple passive device uses corner reflectors like those on a bicycle. By bouncing laser beams from Earth, astronomers can measure distances to the Moon with great accuracy. Data from the LLRE has told us that the Moon still has a liquid core, that Newton's G is indeed constant, and provides one more test of General Relativity.

Most important for this narrative, the LLRE tells us that the Moon is slowly drifting away from the Earth. Most of this apparent drift is due to tidal forces. As the Moon creates tides, the tidal bulge outraces the Moon due to Earth's 24-hour rotation. This bulge pulls the Moon forward by a tiny amount, increasing the Moon's orbital velocity. In this way angular momentum is tranferred from Earth to Moon across 384,000 kilometres of Space. This small acceleration is causing the Moon to slowly drift away. After 35 years of lunar ranging, this drift is measured to be 3.84 cm per year.

Geologists and paleontologists can tell more precisely how the Moon's orbit has changed. Coral gains layers on both daily and yearly cycles, dependent upon tides caused by the Moon. By studying fossilised coral, paleontologists can tell the length of Earth's day, therefore how much angular momentum Earth has lost. Growth rings in coral tell the height of lunar tides, indicating how close the Moon was in the past. Earth's record tells us that the Moon's average recession over the last 650 million years is only 2.17 cm per year.

Small discrepancies in orbits can be very significant. Copernican theory finally triumphed over Ptolemy because it could predict planetary orbits more precisely than epicycles. Mercury's orbital ellipse precesses at 5,600 arc seconds per century, yet a change of only 43 arc seconds per century was enough to verify General Relativity. With the additional momentum, the Moon's recession today is no more than about 2.9 cm per year. If the Moon appears to recede 1/3 faster than geology says, it is a serious anomaly.

If the speed of light slows, that would increase the time for light to return from the Moon, making the Moon appear to recede faster. From GM=tc^3, predicted c change per year is 1 in 41 billion. Multiplied by the Moon's distance of 384,402 km, that distance will appear to increase by 0.94 cm per year. Change in c may precisely account for the discrepancy in the Moon's drift. Like Mercury's orbit, the Moon may give us clues about cosmology and the Universe. As c change makes expansion appear to accelerate, it also makes the Moon appear to recede faster.

Above picture is from Australia, below is Hanauma Bay, Oahu

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Private Space

SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk, co-founder of Zip2 and Paypal. On March 24 his experimental Falcon I was launched from Kwajalein Atoll. Unfortunately the main engine failed after 29 seconds. Undeterred, SpaceX plans another launch in November. The much larger Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch in late '007. It will launch Bigelow's inflatable modules and the DRAGON spacecraft with a crew of 6-7. DRAGON will compete for America's Space Prize, 50 million for the first private spacecraft to fly 5 people into orbit twice within 60 days. This prize deadline is in 2010, so start building your rockets now.

At the International Space Development Conference this May, Musk told us he has contracts for 11 paid spaceflights. On August 18, NASA chose SpaceX along with Rocketplane Kistler to develop commercial launchers for the ISS. Musk estimates that price to orbit can be reduced to about 1000/kg. At that price, tourism starts to become very attractive!

A Lockheed representative told us that they could have Orion flying by 2012-2014. Some of these vehicles could be alternate launchers for the Orion. Doubts have been expressed about the Ares I design with its solid fuel first stage. Crews might get nervous flying atop a giant bottle rocket, for solid rockets can not be shut down or throttled once started.

Above are more models of ATLAS boosters. Below is the ASC SPACEPLANE, which is being developed in California. American Spacecraft Corporation is working on a full-scale mockup, which I hope to get photos of when available. They estimate that by 2018 there could be seven space stations with 40 people continuously in Space. Pioneers must be ready to take risks, but the opportunities are there before us.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Rocket Science

Contributor Nigel has written something so nice that I can only refer to his post. He has investigated whether quantities like G or c have changed. I hope that Nigel's writings are noticed by a larger audience, NEW, CV and especially Reference Frame. Our side is winning!

This J-2 rocket engine is powered by liquid hydrogen and oxygen. The original Saturn V used five of these in its second stage, plus one in the final stage boosting astronauts toward the Moon. An updated version of this engine may be used in the new Ares V. Plans for the Moon. Mars and Beyond use a combination of new technology with what worked in the past.

This is a meeting of people really working on Space, and the excitement is infectious. Men and women are enthusiastic, entepreneurial, and optimistic about the future. There is a great feeling of teamwork toward a common goal. Everyone feels that we are on the frontier, the same feeling we have in Australia and New Zealand.

On March 25 researchers from the University of Queensland test-fired a hypersonic scramjet engine, capable of propelling an aircraft at Mach 6.5! A hypersonic aircraft would be powered by liquid methane, and neither pollute nor leave sonic booms. It would pay off economically because each plane could fly multiple long flights in a day. After enduring 14-hour flights aross the Pacific, we would love to do it in one or two.

One of Australia's best-known physicists, Paul Davies CB (Order of the Bath) will be moving to Arizona State University. He will continue to be associated with the Australian Center for Astrobiology at Macquarie University. He has written many popular books like THE COSMIC BLUEPRINT. His writings and research focus on the very origins of life and the Universe. Davies has also written about a changing speed of light!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Inflatable Space

There's someone in that suit. News is coming about Space faster than I can write about it. Atlantis landed safely at Kennedy Spaceport at 0621 EST. For a few days there were 12 humans in Space. Still onboard the ISS is Persian-American Anousheh Ansari, who will be conducting experiments on behalf of ESA. She represents the true aspirations of Persian women. I am still saving my own 20 million!

From his HQ in Las Vegas, entepreneur Robert T. Bigelow built the Genesis inflatable habitat. It was launched into orbit by a Russian rocket July 12. Today Bigelow announced SUNDANCER, a fully crewed habitat to launch around 2009. It will weigh 19,000 lb and have an intial crew of 3. This will be a privately built space station! You heard it here first!

We are witnessing a transition in Space, where NASA is moving to the frontier of exploration and leaving Earth orbit for the private sector. Bigelow also announced plans to work with Lockheed on this ATLAS V booster. It is descended from the Atlas ICBM that boosted John Glenn into orbit. This is also a possible booster for the Orion CEV.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

To the Moon Alice, To the Moon

In response to a couple of requests, a more recently published paper on GM=tc^3 has been posted. I would like to have more, but it is not easy publishing papers saying that c is changing, and they have to be short. The math is similiar to the SLAC paper, because equations last forever.

I've been at the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Meeting. Talks and displays are about going to the Moon, Mars and Beyond. One could blog forever about problems in the world, but this room is full of the excitement about resuming humanity's greatest adventure. Above is Lockheed's model of the Orion CEV.

Below are models of the Ares I (left) and Ares V launch vehicles. Ares I will have a first stage adapted from the shuttle Solid Rocket Booster, a liquid-fueled second stage and the Orion with escape system on top. Ares V has two SRB's surrounding a liquid-fueled core, and a liquid-fueled second stage. The Lunar Lander or other big payloads can be carried on top.

Configuration of the lander will depend on whether it has separate descent and ascent stages (like in the 1960's) or uses two stages for descent. I have seen many fascinating concepts for Moon ships. Engineers here are evaluating designs as we speak. Witnessing a spaceship being designed is very exciting.

Recent GM=tc^3 Paper

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Retro Rockets

Plans for returning to the Moon have also been called Back to the Future. To reproduce the thrill for our generation, NASA is planning retro rockets similiar to those of the 1960's. Hey, if the retro Ford Mustang can be a hit....To answer Kea's question, an upcoming post will relate the Moon to corals and cosmology.

For one spacecraft to travel from Earth to the Moon and back would require a huge rocket with more stages than is practical. Von Braun and company had to choose between Earth Orbit Rendezvous (two rockets launched separately into Earth orbit so that one could refuel the other) or Lunar Orbit Rendezvous. Both plans were risky in the early 1960's when spacecraft had never mated in orbit, especially near the Moon. Thanks to some dedicated engineers, the latter plan was chosen and the US beat Russia to the Moon.

Because we wish to send even larger payloads, the new plan will use both EOR and LOR. A Lunar Module will be launched atop the Ares V heavy-lift rocket, which is based on Shuttle technology. The Orion Command Module and Service Module will launch separately using the smaller Ares I, which uses a single solid rocket booster. The two spacecraft will mate in Earth orbit, then use the Ares V upper stage to reach Earth escape velocity.

Like the Ford Mustang, the Orion looks like a 1960's vehicle but uses modern technology, like cupholders. The outside sports solar panels for green power, allowing Orion to remain in orbit for months. Today we have computers in a watch more powerful than those aboard Apollo. Thanks to automation, Michael Collins will not have to stay in the ship while Neil and Buzz see the Moon. Inside it will be much larger for a crew of 4-6. Use of modern composite materials will help the crew feel less like Spam in the can. Construction of Orion has just been awarded to Lockheed-Martin.

Returning to the Moon uses retro rockets because it should have been done yesterday. This program is vitally important to all kinds of science, especially astronomy and cosmology. The technology will someday allow us to put telescopes on the Moon. It will also ensure that the next crewed spacecraft to land on the Moon will have a flag on it and not MADE IN CHINA. A future post will show how cosmology benefits from the Moon and coral reefs too.

Below is a mockup of the original Lunar Module displayed at Worldcon. This week I'll be talking to engineers about design of the new LM.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Time Machine

More props at the Worldcon, replica Time Machine from "Back to the Future." Remember Doc Brown imploring Marty to think four-dimensionally? Processes that are irreversible in time are called Arrows of Time. We already can answer the Cosmological Arrow with R = ct. Expansion of the Universe is indistinguishable from the forward flow of Time.

If we drop a cup and it shatters, the pieces will not re-assemble themselves. Entropy of the Universe always increases. This Thermodynamic Arrow is related to Planck value h. Since most measurements indicate that the product hc is constant, as c slows h increases. Uncertainties related to h increase with Time. This small link between Relativity and Quantum Mechanics explains the Thermodynamic Arrow.

Steinn Sigurdsson has the latest dish on a Dark Energy Mission. We can wish them luck as they compete for funding with other projects. Queenslanders, a memorial for Steve Irwin will be held at his Australia Zoo on Wednesday.

I am not the sort who can ask for billion-dollar spacecraft to seek a dark energy equation of state. The Earth offers answers of her own. Evidence for a Theory involves the Hubble Space Telescope, our Subaru Telescope atop Mauna Kea, observations of the Sun, and even coral reefs. The Earth has made records of the speed of light, we need only look at them.

Friday, September 15, 2006

When You Wish Upon A Star

I have to travel light, often without extra clothes. Fortunately the World Science Fiction Convention has many costumes on display. (Honestly, I am probably too thin to wear this.) Disney says, "If You Wish Upon A Star...Your Dreams Come True." Discovering the secrets of Space/Time is the best Sci Fi dream come true.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the Subaru telescope atop our Big Island, astronomers have discovered galaxies that formed barely 500 million years after the Big Bang! Galaxies formed around Black Holes with the mass of a million Suns. These supermassive Black Holes could not have formed by evolution of stars. They are primordial, formed from collapse of quantum fluctuations. Mass of a collapsing Black Hole is limited by the amount of the Universe within its reach. Size of primordial Black Holes is determined by a horizon distance related to the speed of light. The earlier we find these supermassive PBH's, the more evidence favours a changing speed of light.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Happiest Place on Earth

This has been a quiet week so far, with nothing new from some science blogs. Viewership here continues to increase geometrically. Thank you LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO, WASHINGTON DC and other places for reaching 100+ viewings! Welcome OAHU; it is nice to see someone else from Hawaii enjoying this site. Your comments are welcome.

I have travelled to Anaheim, California for the World Science Fiction Convention. This event is held in a different world city each year, and draws everyone from film stars to scientists. Even Phil "The Bad Astronomer" was on some panels. This is an exciting event with more to see than any one person could describe.

Across the street is Disneyland! The California Screamin roller coaster illustrates the latest inflated paradigm, Slinky Inflation. According to this idea, the Universe bounces between periods of acceleration like a giant spring toy. Like all such ideas, this violates both Relativity and the First Law of Thermodynamics.

Theorists have also been promoting "eternal inflation," which would create multiple universes with differing physical laws. Christine has been nice enough to give one author a fair review. This idea is suspiciously like the string landscape, and may draw similiar criticism. Rather than explaining the universe, scientsits would invoke multiple universes. The entire inflationary house of cards relies on mystical repulsive "scalar fields" which can not be observed in nature.

Below is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror! In capturing the spirit of Rod Serling, it takes you on some real ups and downs! We must endure life's heights with its depths, but there are adventures in both. You know it is a bad day when Rod Serling is in a corner describing your life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Beauty in the Equations

Today's image is much more pleasant. History shows that our achievements last longer than the obstacles. That is reason to spend years working on something that may not be recognised in this lifetime. I hope you all enjoy the graphics.

The "Big Bang" can be drawn as a point. Cosmologists agree that the baby Universe had a finite volume and therefore a finite mass M. All points of this Universe were very close to one another. Our separation from the Big Bang is a matter of Time, not Space. That interval is simply age t of the Universe. Astronomers have estimated that age at about 14 billion years.

The light cone represents the local conditions of Special Relativity. Our mass, even the mass of our galaxy, is negligible compared to mass M of the Universe. We are within the light cone of that enormous mass, and its gravity is affecting us. Fortunately there was only one Big Bang to pull us back. As Newton showed, the gravitational force from a spherical mass distribution is the same as if all that mass were concentrated in a point.

Einstein theorised that this Universe is of spherical shape. Our three dimensions x, y and z are now confined to a circle. Any direction that we can travel in Space keeps us within that circle. The Universe might appear infinite and flat to our experience, but can still be curved in the fourth dimension.

In this spherical Universe, the combined gravitational attraction would be the same as if everything was in a point. There is no centre in Space, for every bit resembles every other bit. There is a centre in the Time dimension, which we call a "Big Bang." As time passes, our Universe expands away from the Big Bang.

Newton's Law of Gravitation insists that mass affects us at a distance. It is meaningless to express this attraction over Time, so we must add the conversion factor c. Here we can expand on one principle of Special Relativity. Since Space and Time are one phenomenon related by c:

Scale R of the Universe is its age t multiplied by c.

This astonishingly simple relation tells why we live in a growing Universe. As time t increases, scale R expands. Most laws of physics are time-symnetrical; they do not favour any direction forward or backward in Time. Expansion does not share this symnetry, it is called an Arrow of Time.

At a distant beginning time of zero, the Universe would have had zero dimension. Everything that we know resembled a single point. Since that time our Universe has been expanding. It can't expand at the same rate c continuously, for gravity slows it down. Conversion factor c must be further related to t. This leads to an astonishing but testable prediction.

Monday, September 11, 2006


New York City September 11, 2001 taken by ISS Expedition 3 crew.
(Courtesy NASA)

Five years later: Diane Sawyer with many of the children who lost their dads on 9/11/ Some children never got the opportunity to get to know their fathers. (Donna Svennvki/ABC)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Happy Birthday, STAR TREK

On September 8, 1966 the first episode of STAR TREK was broadcast in the US. At that time nobody had stepped on the Moon, telephones had cords and computers were big as a room. The show has gone through many generations, inspiring many to reach for the stars.

This replica of the Enterprise bridge was displayed at the World Science Fiction Convention in Anaheim this year. Astronomers, what do you notice about the pictures behind McCoy? Those images of the Sun and galaxy were taken from X-Ray spacecraft, something else that didn't exist in 1966. Left picture is from SOHO and right is from Chandra.

Who says scientists can't have fun?

Funny Stuff from WMAP

From Roger Penrose's "Road to Reality," a fascinating book that takes a properly skeptical view of fashionable ideas like inflation and the cosmic constant. It also contains an introduction to the spherical harmonics that calculate these graphs.

This is one of the graphs that "proves" a Concorde cosmology. Look at the left side. The data points only follow the prediction line for angles less than 30 degrees. Starting at l = 3 the points depart significantly from the prediction. Presented here in logarithmic form, the departure does not seem obvious. However, most of the sky is greater than 30 degrees!

Look for l = 2. This point has been COVERED by the vertical axis. That axis should properly be at l = 1, but here is placed to cover up that pesky data point. Presentation of this graph has been changed to better support the prediction.

Quoting Penrose: "In my opinion, we must be exceedingly cautious about claims of this kind--even if seemingly supported by high-quality experimental results. These are frequently analysed from the perspective of some fashionable theory."

Many of you work in physics or are interested enough to study and attend lectures. Your comments show that you are capable of critical thinking. The science presented here is strong enough to withstand any criticism. The next time someone lectures about inflation or dark energy, question them!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Potential Energy

The BIG SHOT atop the Stratosphere Tower launches me up the spire at 4.5 G's. (Maximum kinetic energy, minimum potential) At the top of that trajectory I float 1049 feet above the Las Vegas Strip! (Minimum kinetic energy, maximum potential energy)

How much energy is in an object? We always measure gravitational potential in relation to some other point. An object's potential is measured from Earth's centre, but that is only a tiny portion of the total. The object has more potential from the Sun. We don't feel the Sun's much greater pull because we share Earth's 19 km/sec orbital velocity. (Even many physicists don't know that the Sun exerts a greater pull)

There is still more potential from the Milky Way galaxy, to say nothing of all the other objects in the Universe. To find the total potential of an object, we would have to sum all those up! (Remember that R = ct and GM=tc^3)

Does anyone want to argue with this E = -mc^2 business?
To avoid confusion, we'll rename Eu as U = -mc^2 the Newton energy, and call E = +mc^2 the Einstein energy.

E + U = 0.

So the total energy of any object is just 0! This applies to any mass, no matter how large or small. Though there is no room to prove everything, this result also applies when you add kinetic energy, and even for massless particles like photons. (Anyone care to guess what the energy of a vacuum is?)

The total energy of the entire Universe is 0! It's the ultimate free lunch, which is how the Universe managed to expand from a tiny point to the complexity we observe today.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Inflation Leaking

Thank you, ST LOUIS for being gateway to the American West, building a great arch, financing Lindbergh's flight and being home to the McDonnell-Douglas plant, among other things. Many pilots have enjoyed the "Viking" takeoff, when an F-15 fresh from the factory lifts off and does an immediate 90 degree climb. Thank you also for reaching the milestone of 1000+ viewings! Welcome, PARIS to the 100 viewings club. I would love to hear from you sometime.

Concerning Steve Irwin, we should all applaud those willing to take risks. Today it is easy to be anonymous hiding behind a computer terminal. Sticking one's neck out invites criticism, slings and arrows. If not for the Steven Irwins, the Jacqueline Cochrans, or the Einsteins the world would not move forward. We need to encourage potential leaders not snipe at them.

When Stephen Hawking first proposed that Black Holes give off radiation, the idea seemed to defy common sense. The moderator of his talk got up and said, "Sorry Stephen, but this is absolute rubbish." Fortunately, others checked Hawking's calculation and the idea was soon accepted. Hawking's startling idea began his climb to fame.

Alan Guth first proposed the inflationary idea to explain problems with Big Bang cosmology, like uniformity in the microwave background and the apparent flatness. Inflation predicts that quantum density fluctuations expanded to form the seeds of structures. Because this idea was couched in the language of particle physics, it was quickly accepted. Now that the older generation is preparing to move on, new ideas are needed. Even the inflationary paradigm is leaking.

To answer Mahndisa's wise question: It is fashionable to say that the Universe is flat, like the Earth. Even the tiniest mass causes it to be curved. If you squeeze a cosmologist, they will admit that it must have begun with a finite topology, like a sphere. Inflation would have expanded a sphere so big that it would appear flat to our experience. Like an insect's view of the Earth, it is only flat if you can't conceive all of it!

It is also fashionable to say that WMAP "proves" inflation. The incredible force that would make the Universe expand at warp speed is still just a speculation. Inflation predicts that density fluctuations are the same at all scales. In fact, fluctuations are virtually zero for angles greater than 60 degrees, disproving inflation's prediction.

The above graph was given to me by Dr. Ned Wright of the WMAP team. As you can see, inflation's predicted spectrum is ruled out by both WMAP and COBE. The red line is a prediction of a Unified Space/Time. This prediction is hard to distinguish from the data points. Lack of large-scale fluctuations shows that the Universe is curved, just as a ship disappearing over the horizon shows that Earth is round.

Some people refused to peer in Galileo's telescope for fear of upsetting their Ptolemaic worldview. A growing number of cosmologists are aware of deficiencies in the "standard model." The WMAP team's latest report concludes: "An alternative model that better fits the low l data would be an exciting development." Time to look at those new models, boys!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Steve Irwin

With great sorrow Queenslanders mourn the sudden death of STEVE IRWIN, our world-famous "Crocodile Hunter". He was apparently killed in a freak accident with a stingray. Many of us will remember seeing him as children either on the telly or in his shows at the Australia Zoo. Queensland will not be the same without him.

I photographed this playful fellow in Australia earlier this year. Stingrays are not natural enemies of humans, but they often hide themselves in the sand. Many accidents have occurred when unfortunate divers stepped on them. The stingray's barb is extremely powerful and can pierce wood. It secretes a poison that causes reduced blood pressure and possibly shock. How unfortunate to be struck in the heart!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Einstein For the Weekend

Here are those two Einstein books lying together. Thank you for making this the busiest week yet, with hundreds of viewings per day. This site will strive to present the best graphics and the only equations on blogger. I hope you enjoy seeing beauty and not ugliness.
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