Tuesday, October 16, 2007

MAGIC and Light

The Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov (MAGIC) telescope recently began operations in the Canary Islands. MAGIC found that high-energy gamma rays from a distant blazar arrived 4 minutes later than low energy photons from the same event. This may indicate that particles travel at a different speed of light. The results are being hailed as indicating a new physics.

Though gamma rays are blocked by Earth's atmosphere, upon striking the atmosphere they give off showers of Cherenkov radiation. MAGIC detects this cascade of particles and calculates origin of the incident gamma rays. The blazar is in galaxy Markarian 501, half a billion light-years away. Blazars give off powerful jets of gamma rays simultaneously with lower energy photons. Both are forms of electromagnetic radiation and supposed to travel at velocity c. UC Davis Press Release.

Not long ago talk of a changing speed of light would get a woman literally shouted down. Today in Space.com Floyd Stecker of Goddard Space Flight Center says, "There are some postulated but unproven theoretical models, inspired by the motivation to unite the quantum theory with the general theory of relativity, which violate special relativity." Notice how the "constant c" trolls remain anonymous while the GM=tc^3 advocate has a name? Who is afraid of someday looking foolish?

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Blogger Kea said...

Since we know that light travels at different speeds in different media, it seems surprising that people insist on always considering it constant in their aether. Thanks for the update.

1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only does light travel at different speeds in different materials, the speeds are dependent on the photon energy or frequency. Consequently, why isn't this phenom considered with respect to the EM properties of the matter between the source and the receiver?

9:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job!

9:09 AM  

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