Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Earthrise, Gusev Crater

On Earth it is 3:20 AM Universal Time on June 30, 2010. Due to the speed of light, a message from Mars would not reach Earth until 3:32 UT. This is the exact view you would see looking East from Gusev Crater, Mars. The Sun is shortly due to rise at the center of the frame. Rising ahead of the Sun, the bright starlike object at top centre is Earth. All of human history, the struggle to understand the world, has taken place on that tiny dot. This is a view that no human being has seen before.

The bright object between Earth and the horizon is Jupiter. This month the largest planet is on the far side of the Sun, making it appear among the inner planets. Uranus, just above the horizon, is too faint to be seen. From the vantage point of Mars one could easily view Earth, Venus and Mercury circling the Sun. If there were intelligent life on Mars they would long ago have figured out the Copernican model, something Earth beings didn't accept until barely 500 years ago. Travel to the Moon and Mars leads to scientific insights that no one has yet imagined.

Gusev Crater was also landing site of the Spirit Rover. Since 2009 Spirit has been stuck in loose regolith, becoming a stationary research platform. No communication has been received from Spirit since March 22, 2010. She may have gone into hibernation to conserve batteries. The Winter solstice occurred here on May 13, so the chances of Spirit waking are warming up. When humans travel to Mars, we will follow their survival with even greater interest. Travel to Mars is risky for machines and people, but it is our ultimate adventure.


Monday, June 28, 2010

A Place You've Never Seen

The next post will show the view from a place where the Sun appears to rise at 3:20 AM Universal Time on June 30. That is 5:20 PM June 29 Hawaii time or 10:20 PM June 29 in Houston. Due to the speed of light, a message would not reach Earth until 3:32 AM UT. This is a place no human eye has seen before, and the view is fantastic!


Saturday, June 19, 2010

They Grow Quickly

Wondrous Kea first reported this photo of a dust disk surrounding star Beta Pictoris. The picture was made by the European Southern Observatory's Very large Telescope (VLT). The star, barely 12 million years old, is already forming planets. Present science can not explain how planets form so quickly.

This may indicate the hidden influence of a Black Hole. The Big Bang probably created billions of tiny holes. If some of them were caught in a protoplanetary disk, their influence would cause planets to form quickly from dust as observed. Black Holes have the ability to seed formation of stars, gas giants, and even smaller objects.

From Space.com: A new study using data from both telescopes at our Keck Observatory looked at 15 young stars and their protoplanetary disks. The planets of these baby solar systems also appear to form very quickly. Someday Black Holes could be seen as ubiquitous. The planets and solar systems that support life may not have formed without their influence. Without Black Holes, dust could not accumulate into planets or stars.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Doubts in the Dark

The Cosmic Microwave Background. Who can see the cosmic acceleration? It's a matter of interpreting the data, and who gets the data first.

When redshifts of Type Ia supernovae were found to increase non-linearly, it was hailed as evidence that the Universe was accelerating. This would violate most laws of gravity, not to mention the First Law of Thermodynamics on energy conservation. To explain the "accelerating" data, scientists claimed a repulsive "dark energy." The first reports from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe were interpreted to favour DE, though WMAP says nothing about acceleration.

To quote Roger 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."

Doubts about the "standard" cosmology and its dark epicycles continue to spread. From Space.com:

Dark Energy and Dark Matter Might Not Exist, Scientists Allege

"Ever since these concepts were first proposed, some astronomers have worked feverishly to figure out what each thing is, while other astronomers have tried to prove they don't exist, in hopes of restoring the universe to the more understandable place many would like it to be.

"A new look at the data from one of the telescopes used to establish the existence of this strange stuff is causing some scientists to question whether they really exist at all. Yet other experts are holding firm to the idea that, whether we like it or not, the 'dark side' of the universe is here to stay."

The article cites work by astrophysicist Tom Shanks of Durham University. His colleague's studies show that "dark energy" is a matter of interpretating data. The first WMAP data release was massaged to favor DE, even thjough other interpretations are possible. Experts who have bet their careers on DE will peddle it until their last breath. In the meantime, the spotlight will move elsewhere. Evidence for a changing speed of light grows.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Water on Moon Too

Speaking of water, NASA-funded research has found that the amount in the Moon has been severely underestimated. The total could be greater than America's Great Lakes. We have known that the lunar regolith contains small amounts of water. It was thought to have arrived in small amounts via meteorites and the solar wind. The new data indicates that water exists in large amounts in, and has been there since the Moon's formation. Estimates range from 50 to 5000 parts per billion. Multiplied by the Moon's mass of 7.3 x 10^22 kg, there could be 10^14 kg of water in the Moon!

Whenever humans do return to the Moon, they will need to live off the land. A typical cubic meter of regolith contains about one quart of water. The lunar poles could contain even more locked up as ice. Data from the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment also indicates a changing speed of light.Water and other mysteries are ample reasons for humans to explore the Moon.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Mars Ancient Oceans

Could this have been Mars 3.5 billion years ago? Accumulating evidence from spacecraft like the Mars Reconniassance Orbiter shows signs of river networks on the surface. New research from the MRO laser altimeter, to be published in Nature Geoscience on June 13, shows that many river deltas were at exactly the same elevation 3.5 billion years in the past. This would indicate that the deltas all fed into one enormous ocean.

3.5 billion years is also the approximate age of carbonate globules found in meteortie ALH84001. These globules are one of four lines of evidence indicating Martian life from the metorite. This discovery from 1996 energized the new science of astrobiology. Recent work by Kathy Thomas-Keprta and colleagues at Johnson Space Center strengthens the case for ancient Martian life. This life could have thrived in an ancient ocean.

The "Faint Young Sun" hypothesis stated that the early Sun was 25% less luminous. Both Earth and Mars would have been frozen solid. The appearance of life would have been unlikely. Solar luminosity would continually increase (lower line) until Earth's oceans would boil. This astrophysical theory is not supported by evidence. Overwhelming evidence shows that both planets were warm enough for liquid water and life.

The Sun turns fuel to energy according to E=mc^2. If the speed of light c had increased at GM=tc^3 predicts, solar luminosity would be nearly constant (upper line). Earth would have conditions for life to evolve over billions of years. The fact that life exists to read this article is evidence that the speed of light has changed in precisely the amounts predicted.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 13, 2010

University Defies Nature

The Contra Costa Times reported this little story. Contra Costa County is over the hills East of Berkeley. The University of California is facing serious money problems. Somehow the University and its local papers didn't want to report this.

"University of California librarians are urging professors not to submit research to Nature or 66 related journals to protest a 400 percent increase in the publisher's prices.

"A new contract with Nature Publishing Group would raise the university's subscription costs by more than 1 million, library and faculty leaders wrote in a letter this week to professors throughout the 10-campus system. With recent budget cuts, UC libraries simply can't handle the higher price, which would take effect in 2011, the letter said."

The University of California was ground zero for "dark energy." Though their press claimed the "two independent groups" made the discovery, they were far from independent. One group was led from Lawrence Berkeley Labs. the other group's lead author had offices in Campbell Hall, not 500 meters away. The "independent" groups constantly were in contact checking each other's work.

Discovery of a cosmological constant or "dark energy" was hailed by SCIENCE magazine as "discovery of the year." Funding and praise were expected to flow to researchers if they embraced the Dark Side. Instead the University faces serious budget problems and can't even afford its NATURE subscription. Most people, even astronomers, doubt that DE exists. Going to the Dark Side has led to nothing but trouble.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Constant Change

From the June 4 issue of NEW SCIENTIST:

Distant Gas Blob Threatens to Shake Nature's Constants

"The basic constants of nature aren't called constants for nothing. Physics is supposed to work the same way across the universe and over all of time. Now measurements of the radio spectra of a distant gas cloud hint that some fundamental quantities might not be fixed after all, raising the possibility that a radical rethink of the standard model of particle physics may one day be needed.

"The evidence comes from observations of a dense gas cloud some 2.9 billion light years away which has a radio source, the active supermassive black hole PKS 1413+135, right behind it. Hydroxyl radicals in the gas cloud absorb the galaxy's radio energy at certain wavelengths and emit it again at different wavelengths. This results in so-called "conjugate" features in the radio spectrum of the gas, with a dip in intensity corresponding to absorption and an accompanying spike corresponding to emission."

In the article, NEW SCIENTIST quotes Michael Murphy from University of Swinburne (Australia). For the past 9 years Murphy's team, including John Webb and Victor Flambaum, have investigated apparent changes in the fine structure constant. This value, e^2/hc, combines the speed of light with Planck's value h and the electron charge e. Though their work has received some good press from time to time, most of physics tries to ignore it. Accumulating evidence shows that "constants" aren't constant after all.

We are still winning.


Locations of visitors to this page