Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another Journey to the Centre of the Earth

From Kea in New Zealand to Nige in the UK, Lubos in the Czech Republic and Tommaso in Italy, this blog has gained friends worldwide. The latest is Vladimir Barquisimeto from Venezuela in his blog La Cueva del Lobo. (The Wolf's Lair) He has said some very nice things, which hopefully my poor Spanish can do justice to.

"All cosmologists are overweight, old and boring men, or at least that is what we have come to believe...get to know Dr. Louise Riofrio, this Hawaiian, who is revolutionizing the way to comprehend our Universe.

"Black Holes are immense objects that exist far away in the centre of the galaxy, devouring stars and consuming all existence. But another type of Black Holes also exists; after the Big Bang the initial singularity divided into many fragments, some were supermassive, but many others were very small, including microscopic.

"Dr. Riofrio considers whether these mini-holes were an essential part of the development of the Universe, including whether our existence may have been impossible without them. She has suggested that one of these micro-singularities exists just beneath our feet, in the centre of the Earth."

Thank you, Vladimir! Carl has asked how we know there is a discontinuity 300 km from Earth's centre. This inner, inner core was discovered in 2002 by Adam Dzienwonski of Harvard and graduate student Miaki Ishii. Earth's inner core, 1150 km in radius, was discovered in 1936 by Danish seismologist Inge Lehmann. In the early 1970's Dzienwonski and Freeman Gilbert showed that the inner core is solid within a liquid outer core.

The inner, inner core was found by examining 30 years of data covering many thousands of seismic waves. (One suspects that the woman graduate student did most of this work.) Despite Professor Dzeinwonski's credentials, two journals rejected their paper before Proceedings of the National Academy accepted it. "A lot of people resist new ideas," Dzeinwonski concluded.

Inge Lehmann analyzed the paths of waves with names like PKP to find the core boundary. The strongest wave of all should be PKJKP, a wave travelling straight through Earth's centre and out the other side. The PKJKP wave has never been reliably detected; something sucks it up! Scientists have never figured out what could swallow the energy of an earthquake. Lack of the PKJKP wave is evidence for a Black Hole in the Earth.

At a film industry event I met the bodacious BRENDAN FRASER, star of THE MUMMY and GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE. His newest adventure is JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH. Brendan plays a scientist whose theories get him banished from the scientific community. Is resistance to new ideas a constant of the Universe? The movie populates Earth's core with dinosaurs and other fantastic creatures. We know more about Space than we know about Earth's interior. Like Space, Earth's core could hold wonders like a primordial Black Hole.

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Blogger Kea said...

Gee, thanks again for being so kind!

Is resistance to new ideas a constant of the Universe?

It would appear so! New ideas need momentum, as surely as rocks falling off a cliff face. Fortunately, they eventually hit the bottom of something and make a big mess.

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Louise,

thank you from me too for counting me in this short list of elected people! You also rank high in my own list of web friends...

And surely the Lubos from Czech Rep. you mention close to my name has no affiliation to a retired theorist from Harvard ? ;-)


6:26 AM  
Blogger Lobo7922 said...

Thanks a lot for mentioning my blog, is not everyday that Im in the blog of a Cosmologist that is revolutionizing the way we understand our Universe.
By the way excelent translation.
I tried to explain your theories as good as I understood them, and also give to my readers the link to your blog so they can research and learn for themselves.
Thanks again, I will tell about this to my grandsons when they are learning your theories in school ;D

6:16 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Thanks to all of you. Every individual counts and you are all valuable.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scientist, Actress Louise Riofrio

Do you have a dual residence in Hawaii & San Francisco? What about James Cook Univ/Queensland?

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good read, from "The Earth Revealed" video series. I saw it many yrs ago, & recorded it on video tape.

"Birth of a Theory"/transcript:

Today the Theory of Plate Tectonics is widely embraced. But the road to it's acceptance was long and at times fraught with controversy. .. As navigators charted coast lines the world over, scholars became intrigued by the similarity of the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America. In 1912, scientist Alfred Wegener introduced his theory of continental drift which sought to explain this similarity.

Alfred Wegener [ "crackpot" at the time ] was one of the individuals who in the 20th century has had a major influence on geological thought. He observed like several before him the geographic relationships along the Atlantic Ocean and the obvious match between particularly the African and South American continent. This led him to conclude that the surface of the earth -- the continents were not stable but in fact mobile and led to his idea of drifting continents. At the time it was not accepted, it was not well-accepted in either geological or other scientific thought, but ultimately became the foundation of what was a real revolution in geology.

Wegener's suggestion that the continents had once been joined and drifted apart to their present positions ignited a major controversy in the scientific community. Acceptance of Wegener's continental drift theory seemed to be divided roughly along hemispheric lines.

Tanya Atwater (UCSB):
"I think the geologists who were working in the Southern continents never had any doubt because the evolution of species is so clearly parallel on them, and they have so many other geological events that are in common between the South Africans and South Americans and into Antarctica once we began to explore it.

[ "Preponderance of Evidence", i.e. a strong circumstatial case ]

There is no doubt they were all parts of one piece. Most geologists weren't working in the Southern continents, they were working in Europe and North America and they just didn't have time.

[ "Division among hemispheric lines", the major scientific group were polarized in the North ]

Many scientists were especially disturbed by Wegener's explanation for how the continents moved apart."

"Some people like to say scientists are so fuddy-duddy they refuse to let any new idea come in and I think this is a bad way to think about this, and we don't want to leap on some glamorous new idea unless our data really does support it and our understanding of how the world works really can incorporate that. I think we really did not have any data that was so cutting and so clear that we had to accept this theory. I think they were actually being responsible. They were also being conservative but they were also being responsible scientists."

"In order to understand continental drift, we really needed to know the oceans are made and destroyed. We had very little understanding at all, even to the shape of the sea floor. So, we really needed some new technology. Oceanographic ventures are very driven by technology. It turns out (I hate to admit anything was good about World War II), World War II was very good for developing new technologies."

"To check their conclusion, Vine studied the magnetic stripe pattern across several mid-ocean ridges. He predicted if sea floor spreading did occur, the magnetic pattern on one side of a ridge should be the mirror image of the pattern seen on the other. With startling precision, Vine's prediction proved correct.

Vine and Mathews figured out this idea and published it as kind of an obscure paper to start with. Then when Fred Vine collected enough profiles across different mid-ocean ridges and saw it really was true, he went on the rode and was talking about it to anyone who would listen.

[ "You have to sell yourself [ & your Theories ]", as Bee said in her post (advice from her advisor). "Big Science..requires Big PR", as per the recent 2008 Fiscal Crisis for Particle Physics.

"It's not that no one was against it..NO ONE WAS FOR IT"

BIG Funding is required for BIG particle colliders ("Technology"), to get the BIG data for BIG theories (cosmological scales). Then, those BIG theories in turn needs to be "marketed" (market place of ideas) ]

In December of '66, he gave a lecture at Scripps Oceanographic Institution that just changed the whole direction of the Institution. I arrived there as a graduate student in January of 1967. I thought I was coming to this venerable old oceanographic institute, that everybody would be a little bit bored and they were just crazy. There were records strewn out on the floor, all over the halls. Everybody was in a chaos over this new idea. It meant a total different way to explain almost everything on the sea floor."

I was told by my geologist friend (U of Arizona alumni), that Tanya Atwater (aka "Mrs. Plate Tectonics") was "sent up a pole" (guinea pig) by some "old boring" geophysicists to test this controversial idea. She followed through, & the rest is history.

Tanya might not have known what the details of the geology were and had to admit such on a number of occasions, but she knew what her magnetic patterns were saying and she explained and defended those interpretations well. That's the thing that most impressed me: her intellect plus her courage to stand up and present and defend her ideas (as a graduate student, no less) to large, seasoned and skeptical audiences. She was marvelous, and provided a great lasting inspiration.

[ I get this feeling of "heroism" for Kea especially, she is really hungry & her determination shows.

"The Journey IS the REWARD", John Wooden/UCLA "Victory belongs to the most Persevering", Napoleon ]


Tanya Atwater:
"I guess you could say that the emergence of the concept of plate tectonics is an example of the scientific method in action. We use a great number of kinds of observations, all different, all seemingly unrelated, and bring it together in a model that explains everything. Prior to the advent of plate tectonics, we knew that we had mountain ranges, but we didn't know why we had mountain ranges; we didn't know why there was this incredible shorting. We knew we had volcanism near the margin of the continents, we didn't know why. These things are explicable based on plate tectonics and it is the fact that this new model, this new paradigm, resolves so many divergent seemingly unrelated geologic facts, observations that we already knew, that allow us to move forward to a new level of understanding."

"They [ old boring guys, "disproved theory": you can never prove a theory, YOU CAN ONLY DISPROVE IT ] ceased to become functioning members of the Research Community:
-- Marcia McNutt/MIT (also Scripps alumni)

I spoke with her in 2005 (1 of the few researchers that RETURNS PHONE CALLS, women are noted for their communication ability), so the lesson in the above is COMMUNICATION.

1. Theory must follow the data
need big $$ (Technology) to get the new "anomalous data points". As per Issac Asimov, "That's funny!?"

2. Need Funding & Technology
communication skills to funding agencies (& public)
[ Note that T. Dorigo uses his blog for public outreach, the recent scandal in Italy demonstrates how crackpot politicians fuel the poor perception of Scientists ]

3. Need to sell the Theory
communication skills

The 1/2/3 process takes TIME ("like a fine wine"), won't happen overnight. Patience/Perseverance is required.

The Fiscal 2008 crisis in USA (affecting ILC, & post LHC efforts) is a real blow to future theoretical work.

10:24 PM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Louise, thank you for the answer! I had looked up the reference and seen some others that mention other possible inner inner core (IIC) sizes.

Now the wave that doesn't make it through the core is the PKJKP. I think that knowing what "PKJKP" means will help the argument here...

The "P" on either end means that the wave begins and ends as a "P" wave as opposed to an "S" wave. These are pressure (compression), or longitudinal, or primary waves. These are the waves that exist in all material, both liquid and solid. The "K" means outer core, and "J" means inner inner core.

So the absence of PKJKP waves means that something down there doesn't allow any sort of wave to pass. That's kind of hard to do with solids. Hence, experimental support for Louise's idea.

7:24 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

For chimpanzee: Thanks, but blog policy is not to reveal where the blogger is working or volunteering at the moment. Your citing of plate tectonics is most valuable and revealing.

For carl: I am glad you enjoy research, that shows a true curiosity. A conventional physics education teaches nothing about PKJKP, so we have to go outside the system. I hope you get many more chances to speak (like Port Angeles in September?)

7:02 PM  
Blogger Lobo7922 said...

Take a look to this interview to Dr. Michio Kaku, he says that string theory is the only candidate to theory of everything

7:20 AM  
Blogger Lobo7922 said...

ups, I forgot to post the link:


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