Thursday, November 30, 2006

This Week's Action

There may be some happy news concerning childbirth soon. After more than a week, the discussion is still raging at Clifford Johnson's Asymptotia. The questions have been well-informed and entertaining. Pardons if I tick people off, but experience shows that some people wouldn't believe a slowing c if their car rear-ended a photon. Some comments reproduced below:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Travelling Again

I fear that I'm away from computers much of this week. It will means some great pictures soon. In the meantime, please see the comments on Asymptotia. Aloha!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Solution to Einstein Equation

Here again, R = ct and GM = tc^3 form a solution to the field equation of gravitation, the Einstein equation:

Things they don't tell you in school: Einstein didn't give it the name "relativity" and was not completely happy with that name. The relativity that is taught today is far different from what old Albert wrote down. Since to many people relativity means a fixed speed of light, perhaps we need a better name. How about "Einstein theory?"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Day

The Big Island had a 5.0 earthquake this morning. I hope to take a tour and check for damage.

2006 will be remembered by some as the year America's F-14 Tomcat was retired. The "Turkey," as it is affectionately called by aircrew, was in operation since 1974. This is an F-14A from squadron VF-84, with Carrier Air Wing 8 aboard USS Nimitz. The "Jolly Rogers" insignia made VF-84 a cool squadron to fly with. Anime fans, this was the inspiration for the markings in MACROSS. Aircraft from VF-84 appeared in THE FINAL COUNTDOWN with Kirk Douglas.

Naval aircrew (men and women) are distinguished by their aggressive personalities, their willingness to take and return flak, the insulting call signs they give each other, and their fondness for seeing things blow up.

The SWIFT spacecraft has found galaxy NGC 1316 to be full of supernovae. 4 Type Ia's have exploded there in 26 years, 2 in the last 5 months. SN 2006dd, circled at left, was detected on June 19 of this year. SN 2006mr to the right was detected a few days ago November 5. The bright spot at the centre is the galactic core. SWIFT allows us to catch stellar explosions on the fly.

Type Ia supernovae were thought to result from a white dwarf star acquiring mass from a stellar companion. When that mass passes a certain limit, an explosion is triggered. Because their masses are about the same limit, Type Ia's tend to have the same absolute magnitude of about -19.5. This allows them to be used as tests for cosmology.

Why NGC 1316 has so many Type Ia's is a mystery. Most galaxies have only 2-3 supernovae per century. It is highly unlikely that the conditions thought to cause Type Ia's could occur so many times in one galaxy. NGC 1316 has recently merged with another galaxy, which may have caused conditions producing Type Ia supernovae.

Redshifts of Type Ia supernovae are the only evidence for an "accelerating universe." The cosmic microwave background and large-scale structure tell us nothing about acceleration. The CMB dates from a redshift of 1000, far before any acceleration would have started. Supernova redshifts can be explained much more precisely by a changing speed of light.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Getting to GM=tc^3

Here is one way of putting the Universe on a T-shirt. This starts with an attempt to connect the local conditions of Special Relativity, which does not allow for gravity, with the large scale Universe of General Relativity. Nigel does it an even simpler way, by equating inertial energy with gravitational energy. The following derivation has a way of starting arguments, but the pot must be stirred. Start with the metric of Special Relativity:

This has been reviewed many times and no one has found a mathematical error. I recommend that it be published as many places as possible, so more people can check it. It leads to a solution of the supernova redshift problem, without any repulsive energies. I hope you enjoy it too.

UPDATE: Spirited discussion of this post has been happening at Clifford Johnson's Asymptotia. Thanks and a happy holiday to Clifford and all his colleagues.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Exploding Supernova Evidence

Here again is the Type Ia supernova data. Low redshifts increase linearly with apparent magnitude, which is how Edwin Hubble concluded that the Universe expands. Theory predicts that ci/co = sqrt(1 + Z), so when light of redshift Z was emitted, c was faster by sqrt(1 + Z). This leads to a precise solution of the "accelerating universe" problem.

An object of redshift Z = 1.0 recedes at 60% of today's speed of light. That is only 42% of c at time that light was emitted. The redshift we measure is z = 0.57. For an object of absolute redshift Z = 0.5, apparent z = 0.38 (horizontal arrows). Energy conversion E=mc^2 is also affected by c change. For an object of absolute Z = 0, that energy is doubled for a magnitude change of -0.75 (vertical arrow).

For low redshifts, sqrt(1 + Z) is negligible and the line is straight. Only at high redshifts does the line curve upward, making the universe appear to accelerate. The black prediction line is difficult to see because it is covered in data points. In the lower right it is blown up bigger. Within the error bars, the prediction still intercepts 95% of data points. This has been accomplished without dark energies, cosmic constants, or other epicycles. When a prediction fits the data this closely, what does it mean?

The sqrt(1 + Z) factor explains the "jerk parameter," why redshifts increase linearly at low Z and then curve upward. Corroborating data comes from the geological record compared to the "Faint Young Sun." If c had not changed in exactly the amounts predicted, Earth would have been frozen solid and we would not be around. People believed the accelerating universe because it came from two "independent" groups both on the Berkeley campus and in constant communication. Now there are two lines of evidence from truly different sources pointing to c change in physics.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Fun In the Dark

Thank you to all the hundreds who have visited this site each day. All things considered, this has been a good week. The big announcement on "dark energy" Thursday was either a big snooze or an embarassment. Except for the discovery that firefly luminosity is constant (like the speed of light), it was nothing new. At the same time there has been a surge of interest in GM=tc^3 as an alternative to DE.

A big round of appreciation to the divine Kea who has been tirelessly supportive. I share Kea's impatience at the way science has gone. We have been told to shut up and wait while others peddle imaginary energies. Waiting time is over. Big advances in physics are coming from Australia and New Zealand.

We do owe a debt to supernova researchers who gather data indicating c change. Their data verifies the prediction quite precisely. The observers who gather data can't yet see what is in front of their face. They have left the job of explaining the Universe to others.

This week's press conference was very much like another NASA briefing in 2004. Ed Regis wrote about it in February 2005 Smithsonian AIR AND SPACE. The writer and magazine usually deal with aeroplanes, spacecraft and things that work. Physicists, this is how the world sees you:


"Today's cosmologists might use computers instead of pencils, but otherwise their latest theories bear a suspicious resemblance to the World Classics of Crackpottery. Consider, for example, a briefing held last May at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., broadcast live to NASA centers around the country and Webcast over the internet. The stage of the James E. Webb Auditorium, tucked away in a glassy, modern building a few blocks from the National Mall, is ablaze with light and crawling with television cameras, monitors, microphones, and crew members, as if this were the 400,000th "Oprah" show. Instead, it's the latest episode of what might be called the Dark Matter/Dark Energy Follies, a series in which a bunch of astrophysicists repeatedly confess that they no longer fathom the universe it is their sworn duty to understand and explain."

Physicists spend an inordinate amount of time trying to look good in the eyes of others. In trying to please colleagues, we often forget how the outside world sees us. The vast majority of humans will never get PhD's or enjoy the opportunities that we have. Their taxes and tuitions pay scientist's salaries. They rely upon us to explain the universe for them and their children. The image of physics is in a tailspin. That is why the LHC is in Europe rather than the US and funding for JDEM is iffy.

Quietly, out of the spotlight, the real discoveries are being made by people you may not have heard of. They work with little or no funding because they are truly dedicated to finding the truth. I am glad that so many of you question how the universe really works. It is a lot more interesting than "dark energy."

Friday, November 17, 2006


Yesterday's press conference would have been a snooze except for the brilliant discovery that luminosity of fireflies is constant, just like the speed of light. I haven't petted any fireflies lately (sorry Lubos) but in August found a spacecraft from the series FIREFLY. This photo is courtesy of Ariel Ambulance, a group dedicated to saving and restoring Firefly props. Mal and his crew fight impossible odds battling dark forces in the Universe.

Many of us were inspired to enter science by watching shows like this one on the telly. We admired the heroes and heroines boldly going where none had dared go before, fighting impossible odds and hostile aliens. We saw them succeeed through courage and teamwork. Finally we cheered as they made discoveries about the Universe.

If we do not take a stand, "dark energy" will dominate cosmology for centuries, like Ptolemy's epicycles. How many lives were wasted studying epicycles? How many centuries will "dark energy" delay our understanding? If we succeed, our children will understand the Universe in a single equation.

Clifford Johnson of Asymptotia (formerly of Cosmic Variance) also expressed doubts about the press release.

"My understanding is that they are seeing a small be still significant effect of the Dark Energy's repulsive component, and I'm guessing that they are finding that it is consistent with that which you should expect (although way smaller than the late time effect) from those earlier times. Presumably they are also using the known flatness of the universe (from WMAP, etc), which presumably has not changed, as another tool in their analysis. At this point, I must give up, since I have not seen a graph, seen analysis (which I would not be an expert on anyway... I'd hand it to a colleague I trust), etc... I'm inferring this from the press release."

Scientists are unsure about "dark energy." Clifford repeats what I hear from many, "I don't really understand the data but the investigators told me so." The only "proof" of DE is the mantra of scientists repeating statements of others. Remember the Emperor's New Clothes. Things get frustrating sometimes, but yesterday's press conference shows how desperate DE proponents are. It is time for a better idea.

Today's Cassini photo shows Saturn's moon Prometheus interacting with the F Ring. Prometheus and Pandora are "shepherd moons" accompanying the ring. Prometheus has the lowest measured density of any solar system object, only 0.27 g/cc. That is barely 1/4 the density of liquid water. These moons exist inside the Roche Limit, within which liquid objects are supposed to be torn apart by tidal forces.

It is very odd that moons with less density than liquid exist where liquid objects should not exist. Something is holding them together. Note how the particles spiral toward the moon in a discrete line as if following magnetic field lines. Small moons of rock or ice do not produce magnetic fields, but a singularity will.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Your Tax Dollars At Work

These Hubble photos show supernovae within their host galaxies. Though they don't know what powers exploding stars, astrophysicists claim they can predict luminosity of Type Ia supernovae. By comparing the apparent luminosity to redshift, we can test cosmological theories. Today at a videoconference Adam Riess and Mario Livio announce that "dark energy" has been an ever-present part of the universe. Here is a hilarious quote from their press release:

"Pinpointing supernovae in the faraway universe is similiar to watching fireflies in your back yard. All fireflies glow with about the same brightness. So, you can judge how the fireflies are distributed in your back yard by noting their comparative faintness or brightness, depending on their distance from you."

When stationed at a Navy base learning to fly, I saw many fireflies. They do not, repeat DO NOT all glow with the same brightness. Male fireflies compete for females by varying their brightness. Female flies know this better than Hubble scientists. Perhaps the latter have seen fake fireflies in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

Below is their new diagram of the Universe. Note the galaxies circling around in epicycles. They make diagrams with cute balloons because they feel the public is too dumb for the truth. Americans, your tax dollars paid for this.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Crab Supernova

Courtesy of ESA and the Hubble Space Telescope, here is the explosion of the Crab Nebula visible from Earth in 1054 AD. We use supernovae to distinguish between cosmological theories. As you know, the apparent acceleration of redshifts has led some smart people down the wrong path.

Steinn Siggurdson has some excellent posts about the NASA Beyond Einstein programme, which I am associated with. There may be a showdown for launch slots between a Joint Dark Energy Mission, the Constellation X-Ray Observatory, and the LISA gravitational wave experiment. You know what this writer thinks of "dark energy."

Someone let me know if I am including too many videos or if the loading time of this blog is getting slow.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Universe in 60 Seconds, Without "Dark Energy"

Between ideas which entertain you, benefit you, or contribute to your understanding of the Universe, here's a bit about "dark energy." Rob Knop of Galactic Interactions is getting very depressed. He was a member of the Supernova Cosmology Project, one of the "independent" groups that claimed to discover DE. Now he is worried about his research grant, tenure, and his job. His comments reveal what a closed clique cosmology is.

"I was in the SCP once upon a time, and once somebody at the NOAO figured out that I was no longer on the SCP proposals and papers, I was fair game. (It's hard to find an SCP or GRB person who's not all over those things.)

"I did have funding for a year and a half. It was part of an HST program. That was a proposal put in from LBNL, and I was still with the SCP at the time. I managed to convince Saul (Perlmutter) that I should get some fraction of the money from that proposal, since I was the one (together with Rachel Gibbons) who wrote the software for, oversaw, managed, and ran the supernova search."

"Turning a solid proposal into an outstanding proposal means you're surfing the wave - which means being lucky. I was writing supernova cosmology accelerating universe proposals in 2001-2003, which were surfing the wave, but had the fatal flaw that I was an individual junior investigator at an institution where none of the rest of the large collaboration was housed."

"Surfing the wave" does not mean fun in North Shore Oahu or Surfer's Paradise. Rob refers to following the fashionable trend. It means promoting an accelerating universe because everyone else does, just like the Emperor's New Clothes. The difference is that standing on a surfboard requires a backbone.

One Trouble With Physics is that the field is a republic of fear. Large collaborations depend upon uniformity of thought. One's career depends on following the party line. Even members of the collaboration live in dread of losing funding and falling out of the field. Opportunities are limited for women, minorities and all us young kids.

On Thursday Adam Riess and Mario Livio of the Space Telescope Science Institute are scheduled "to announce the discovery that dark energy has been an ever-present constituent of space for most of the universe's history." Here is their data chart. It is more accurate to chart redshifts logarithmically. Then you can more clearly see that c is changing.

Riess and company's big announcement may mirror their paper from 2004, astro-ph/0402512. The abstract of that paper concludes: "Our constraints are consistent with the static nature of and value of w expected for a cosmological constant (i.e., wo = -1.0, dw/dz = 0), and are inconsistent with very rapid evolution of dark energy." He is back to arguing for a cosmological constant rather than evolving DE. What may be ever-present is a changing speed of light.

Riess was a postdoc at Berkeley in 1998, not part of the Supernova Cosmology Project but the rival High-Z Supernova Search led by Brian Schmidt from Australia. Riess was first author on a paper claiming discovery of cosmological constant. His office at Campbell Hall was less than 500 metres from Saul Perlmutter, leader of the SCP. This enormous distance ensured that the two supernova groups were truly independent.

In his book ORIGINS, Neil Tyson helps finish the story: "In striving for this goal, the astrophysics community struck a mother lode of good fortune in having two competing teams of supernova observers. The supernova results, first announced in February 1998, had an impact so great that no single group could have survived the natural skepticism of cosmologists to the overthrow of their widely accepted models of the universe. Because the two observing teams directed their skepticism primarily at each other, they briliantly searched for errors in the other team's data or interpretation. When they pronounced themselves satisfied, despite their human prejudices, that their competitors were careful and competent, the cosmological world had little choice but to accept, albeit with some restraint, the news from the frontiers of space."

Tyson is saying that a radical idea from just one source, even one collaboration, would not have survived. Now we see why physics is stuck in a rut. Unlike other blogs, this one gives time to competing ideas. You can decide for yourself whether there is "dark energy" or a changing speed of light. The only question is, will anyone listen?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wings Over the World

From time to time I will write about air travel. It is a big part of our lives; the line between air and Space travel is breaking down. Virgin Atlantic and others promise to take passengers on suborbital flights. We will see that a truly advanced airliner will be very much like a spaceship.

We saw last week how Boeing is using composite technology to build a fuel-efficient airliner. When you compare the first operational jet, the ME-262 and the latest 787, the shape has not changed much. There is still a tubular fuselage, a separate wing and engines hanging in nacelles. It is more efficient to combine everything in a single unit. The flying wings pioneered by Jack Northrop led to the B-2 stealth bomber. Last week MIT and Cambridge University researchers showed off this design for an airliner designed to be environmentally-friendly, both quiet and fuel-efficient.

Boeing's Phantom Works is separately developing the X-48B as a subscale test vehicle for Blended Wing Bodies, or BWB's. You've never heard of the Phantom Works? After Lockheed's Skunk Works was so effective, McDonnell-Douglas started their own shadowy organisation and named it for their F-4 Phantom. Boeing inherited Phantom Works when it took over McDonnell-Douglas, and gained flying wing experience teaming with Northrop on the B-2. Some have rumoured that this is the 797.

Welcome to the year 2030. Humans are walking on Mars, many nations have flags on the Moon, and this is your holiday ride. It carries twice as many passengers as a 747 but takes up about the same amount of tarmac space. That is another advantage of spreading the weight evenly around one enormous wing. There are not a lot of window seats, but by this time all passengers have television.

There are a lot of benefits to learning the secrets of Space/Time. In the future I hope to show you an aircraft that will be faster and even more environmentally friendly, whose exhaust is water!

We transition in 19 seconds from an optical picture of Sombrero Galaxy, Messier 104, taken by Hubble to an infrared view from Spitzer. The Sombrero is 28 million light-years away, at the edge of our Virgo cluster. Our Milky Way is part of the Local Group 60 million light-years from the cluster centre. The Virgo Cluster, containing thousands of galaxies, itself is shaped like a disk.

Spitzer's infrared view reveals a ring of dust encircling the galaxy, and a hidden disk of stars within this ring. Even in infrared, the Sombrero's centre is bright with radiation. Note how the radiation is concntrated in a small region. A massive Black Hole is believed to lie here, but that is of course invisible. Every single galaxy surveyed contains a singularity, suggesting that Black Holes were there before the galaxies. The only way that such objects could form is if the speed of light were much higher in the past.

Photo below is Uxmal in Yucatan, Mexico.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Stuck On the Stick

Sunday is the day of American football. The San Francisco 49er's just announced that they wish to leave their home at Candlestick Park. "The Stick," also known as Monster Park, first opened in 1960 when Eisenhower was president. Another "Stick" may be in trouble too.

From Nasawatch: "Sources inside the development of the Ares I launch vehicle (aka Crew Launch Vehicle or "The Stick") have reported that the current design is underpowered to the tune of a metric ton or more. As currently designed, Ares I would not be able to put the present Orion spacecraft design into the orbit NASA desires."

Though this blog has described the current Moon plan, alternatives should also be considered. There is still time to choose the Direct Launcher concept, which requires only one new booster. Spending too much time on Ares I risks running out of money for Ares V and being stuck in low Earth orbit. India's president just announced plans to reach the Moon in August 2025, possibly before China. The US can not afford to lose this race.

Fortunately people still have ingenuity and there are many other plans out there. Some of the private launchers described earlier, like Atlas V, could launch Orion into orbit. The Ares I with its new 5-segment solid rocket booster is a risky design. Who wants to ride atop a giant bottle rocket, anyway?
States of the Station

This video shows the ISS construction sequence in 25 seconds. Since the 1950's people have dreamed about assembling a space station. Despite all the obstacles and delays, the ISS is still coming together. 17 more shuttle flights are planned for completion, with one additional flight to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Atlantis, Discovery and Endeavour will then be retired to museums to make way for the Orion CEV.

The ISS was originally planned to house 8 astronauts. An X-38 reentry vehicle to be docked with ISS fell victim to budget cuts. As we learned from the Titanic, you need enough lifeboats for everyone. We rely on the Russian Soyuz as an escape pod, limiting crews to three. The Orion, ASC Spaceplane and other vehicles described here are designed to service ISS in the future.

This is not the giant orbiting wheel of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but MGM always made sets look grander than reality.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Great Cyclone of Saturn

You may recall my predicting that there is more going on in Saturn than meets the eye. Cassini sends us this picture of a cyclone (hurricane) fixed on Saturn's South Pole. From observations with our Subaru telescope, colleagues have determined that the South Pole is the warmest region of the surface. The storm is 8000 kilometres across!

My mother told stories of Pacific cyclones, which make a Kansas tornado look small. In our P-3 aircraft, we have studied cyclones up close. Forming an cyclone requires a source of warm gas. Like its little moon Enceladus, Saturn has a jet of hot particles from its core. This is exactly what we would see from an internal singularity. Among the planets, Saturn is unusual in that its magnetic poles are aligned with the geographic poles. The magnetic field behaves like a dipole with the "positive" pole in the South.

Heat in the core breaks hydrogen atoms down into electrons and positively charged ions, which spiral along magnetic field lines to form jets. The northern jet is composed of electrons which are absorbed by Saturn's interior. The southern jet is composed of more energetic ions which penetrate these layers to warm the South Pole. This is one more bit of evidence that planets are formed around internal singularities.

The Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes combined to create this image of the Orion Nebula. Green indicates UV and visible light images from Hubble, while reds and oranges are infrared from Spitzer. In the centre are 4 massive stars each with 100,000 times the mass of our sun. You can see this nebula tonight in the constellation Orion.

Big Ideas

Relating to the emperor's new clothes, just because most people support an idea does not mean it is a good one. This model hanging at Sydney's airport is as close as we will get to an A-380 for a while. The world's largest airliner will carry around 600 passengers. Originally they were supposed to be flying across the Pacific this year. With all the delays they will not carry any passengers until at least 2008.

The big plane was launched with great fanfare and an initial order from Federal Express. A super-jumbo has been studied for years, with American planemakers like Boeing deciding it would not be profitable. Airbus has discovered the hard way that simply scaling a plane up creates big problems. Among other things, the French and German divisions of Airbus use incompatible CAD systems. Since the 777 every airliner has been designed with CAD. This has led to big problems laying out the wiring, costing Airbus at least 6 billion dollars. Their last CEO resigned after just 2 months on the job.

In the meantime, Boeing has quietly designed a more advanced aircraft. The 787 will be built mostly from composites. Instead of the fuselage being built from metal panels, it will be formed in one piece like a plastic tube. Because of light weight and advanced engines, the 787 will have better gas mileage than any competitor, a big selling point these days. Boeing has sold more than 400 of the new planes, so many they can not keep up with the orders. The smaller plane will be far more successful than the big one.

At Federal Express it absolutely positively has to get there on time. This week Fedex cancelled their order of A-380's and switched to Boeing planes. At a relatively low cost, Boeing has used their new technology to design an bigger version of the 747. The new 747-8 will also be attractive to airlines because pilots will not have to learn an entirely different aircraft.

For decades there has been a fad for "big science." Physicists have enjoyed free rein to build bigger machines and bigger collaborations. That is why you see papers published with dozens of authors. As Lee Smolin, Peter Woit and even Sean Carroll have noted, that has led to few great discoveries in the past 30 years. Big science has led to a point of diminishing returns. Today a single determined researcher can achieve something "far simpler, more important and more testable than anything that Sean Carroll or any of his colleagues have ever invented in decades if not centuries of their fruitless and expensive efforts." (Those last kind words came from none other than Lubos Motl.)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Return to the Sea

Fishermen in Japan have accidentally caught a bottlenose dolphin with rear fins. These are thought to be the remains of hind legs, indicating that dolphin ancestors walked. The fins of common dolphins still have finger bones like a human hand. Though land animals evolved from sea life, about 50 million years ago dolphins abandoned the land and returned to the sea. Maybe dolphins know something we don't.

From my own experience, there are many advantages to living underwater. It is much easier to regulate one's body temperature when submerged. Tropical storms are hardly a bother. Swimming every day keeps one in excellent shape, which is why you don't see dolphins with pot bellies. There is a place off the coast of Queensland where dolphins come so close to shore that a little girl can wade out and touch them.

The dolphins tell me that their bulbuous skulls are shaped that way to localise sound signals, like the sonar dome in the bow of a submarine. That is also the purpose of the oil reservoir in the Sperm whale's head. I have never seen this written in the literature. Should I write a paper?

If we are ever to find intelligent life in Space we should be able to recognise it on Earth. Dolphins are more intelligent than we are in some ways. Dolphins do not waste their lives on drugs, alcohol, or "dark energy." This is the view from a dolphin's world, which looks very inviting.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Islands

In the background is the Sheraton Waikiki, site of the "Joint Meeting of Pacific Region Particle Physics Community" last week. The top floor of the Sheraton has a spectacular view which appears in many postcards. The coral reefs surrounding the islands are a place to study sea life and even cosmology. At 2:30 every afternoon the sea turtles come close to shore near this hotel. All you need is a swimsuit to meet them.

The model is clothed in "dark energy," which is invisible but dominates the universe. Unlike baryonic matter or dark mass, it has repulsive gravity. Only the truly sophisticated elite of physicists can see it. You can infer the existence of "dark energy" from all the cosmologists fawning over it.

Scientists continue to profess the existence of "dark energy." Like the epicycles, it is needed to support their outdated ideas of physics. The researchers themselves don't believe in what they are professing. Robert Kirshner calls this an "extravagant universe." Sean Carroll calls his own ideas "preposterous." They don't offer a clue whey DE exists, or why our matter is only 4.5% of the universe.

At one time it looked like "dark energy" would take over. It might have become the standard cosmology for 1000 years, like Ptolemy's epicycles. Woe be to anyone who questioned this Concorde cosmology. Fortunately, many of us have questioned this preposterous model. Now we have a much better theory of the cosmos, which DE researchers try desperately to ignore. From a few simple principles we can figure out the speed of light and even the exact 4.507034% of baryonic matter.

Radio astronomers using the Very Large Array in New Mexico have found immense arcs around Cluster Abell 3376. These arcs have been interpreted as shockwaves from galaxy structure formation. The formation of structures is another test of cosmological theory. Rather than affirming the Concorde cosmology, large-scale structures may rule out "dark energy" entirely.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fly by Night

Preparing an F-117 Nighthawk for flight October 27 at Holloman Air Force Base. She was part of a 25-plane formation commemorating the Nighthawk's 25 years in service and 250,000 flight hours. The first operational stealth aircraft has participated in battles from Panama to Iraq. It will soon be retired to make way for newer fighters like the F-22 and F-35. The pilots fly all their missions after dark; by owning the night they control the sky.

Once I was in the cockpit of an aircraft flying from California to Oahu. The Sun was far behind me, and by staying ahead I was able to extend night's passage. Mars appeared over the horizon in front of me, very bright in its opposition. The Red Planet seemed so close that my plane could reach it. I pointed the nose toward Mars and ended up in Hawaii.

If any pleasure approaches that of scientific discovery, it can be found in the cockpit. Looking down on Earth from above puts many problems in perspective. A city at night is ablaze with a million lights. Between those lights are roads, buildings, and people going about their business. Pools of light from streetlamps hint at the mass that lies below. If we understand that darkness, we know the Universe.

When they have nothing better to do, scientists can speculate about multiple universes. There is another universe, occupying the same Space/Time but hidden from our eyes. GM=tc^3 predicts, and observations confirm that the matter we see is just 4.507034% of all mass. We are the lights where most of the Universe is dark to our eyes. To be aware of this vast majority is to be a seeing woman among the blind.


This image of Galaxy Cluster MS 0735.6+7421 combines data from the Chandra X-Ray observatory, Hubble Space Telescope, and Very Large Array in new Mexico. This cluster contains dozens of galaxies held together by gravity. The red jets come from a Black Hole with a billion (10^9) times the mass of our Sun! The jets displace 10^12, a trillion solar masses of gas.

The blue regions are hot gas filling the space between galaxies. Cavities within the gas are filled with charged particles spiralling around magnetic field lines. These cavities are 640,000 light-years in diameter, nearly seven times the size of our galaxy. These are also possible locations of Black Holes.

According to theories of "dark energy," 5 billion years ago its repulsive force would have begun to dominate. Formation of galaxy clusters would have ceased as repulsion overcame gravity. We would see more clusters in the past than exist today. Astronomers have found FEWER clusters in the past, telling us that clusters are still forming. Rather than tearing itself apart with "dark energy," the Universe continues to form more complex structures.

Results from Chandra and the XMM-Newton spacecraft show that attractive "dark" mass is 4 times as abundant as previously thought. Instead of just 24%, dark stuff comprises the 95% of the Universe that is not baryons. There is no need for a repulsive "dark energy" to fill the rest. Our 4.507034% of light-emitting matter is just a footnote. We are the lights hinting at something else in the darkness.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Direct Route

John F. Kennedy said, "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade." In 1961 NASA was still not sure how to do that. Sending one spacecraft to the Moon and back would require a Nova rocket larger than was practical to build. The leading paradigm was an Earth Orbit Rendezvous (EOR), requiring two spacecraft to be launched separately. This was remarkably similiar to the current plan. A rebel group within NASA believed in a Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (LOR), which would require only one launch.

At the time LOR was excluded from discussion, as a changing speed of light is today. A courageous engineer named John Houbolt skipped the chain of command and wrote a letter directly to NASA's associate administrator. "Somewhat as a voice in the wilderness," Houbolt wrote, "Do we want to go to the moon or not? Why is Nova, with its ponderous size simply just accepted, and why is a much less grandiose scheme involving rendezvous ostracised or put on the defensive?"

Fortunately for history, Houbolt's arguments were accepted. In July 1962 NASA Administrator James Webb officially approved LOR. At the time no two spacecraft had mated even in Earth orbit. Even President Kennedy's science advisor thought LOR too risky. If not for this brave choice, reaching the Moon in the 1960's would have been impossible.

With a nod to Chair Force Engineer, history may soon repeat itself. A grass-roots effort, supported by engineers and managers within NASA, is proposing an alternate plan. This DIRECT launcher would replace both Ares I and Ares V. One new rocket would be far less expensive to develop and operate than two. This proposal would have more commonality with existing shuttle hardware. As seen above, it would use the existing shuttle launch facilities. (The white thing in the sky is the Moon).

The DIRECT launcher would use two of the existing Solid Rocket Boosters, strapped to a core stage based closely on the shuttle External Tank. A single launch could lift 98 MT to LEO, or carry both the Orion CEV and a lunar module. As seen below, this configuration is very much like the Saturn V that launched people to the Moon in 1969. This booster could also be adapted for Mars Direct missions. Given the budget pressures and continuing fight to keep the Vision alive, this is a proposal that should be considered.

As Mahndisa has noted, I sympathise with mavericks. If we are to reach the Moon, Mars and Beyond the political will must last for decades. The Vision has strong bipartisan and international support. I hope that our politicians stay the course, so that our generation does the Moonwalk.
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