Thursday, June 30, 2011


Apologies that this article took a few days to be noticed, from DAILY GALAXY:

Something Peculiar Is Going On

"Simulations based on the standard cosmological model indicate that galaxies should be uniformly distributed. But the universe appears to be clumpier than astronomers expected, according to the largest galaxy survey ever conducted."

Using data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, researchers made a 3-D map of 723,556 galaxies more than 4 billion light years away. Their paper appears in the June 13 issue of Physical Review Letters. The clumping found in the data could indicate that "dark energy" does not exist at all, and that we need to change old ideas about gravity. A change in the speed of light would account for the increased clumping quite nicely.

Physical Review Letters, 106, 241301, June 13, 2011


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Dark Energy Is a Fiction"

This is the title of an article in DAILY GALAXY. The article refers to researchers in Spain who have submitted to Physical Review D. They conclude that "cosmic acceleration" is an illusion caused by time itself slowing down. Time slowing down is mathematically equivalent to a changing speed of light!

Dark Energy Is a Fiction

When the speed of light itself is not constant, scientists will need some constant to anchor their reality. Logically it is much simpler to consider time flowing at a constant rate, and light to be slowing. We would then need to determine whether the $ \mu $ or $ \epsilon $, which are both related to c, change. Rather than today's shrinking job market, a c change would keep physicists busy for years.


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hole in the Earth Spreads

June is the 5th birthday of this little blog! There was a big increase in traffic this month. This article by Terrence Aym appeared June 6 on the website

Scientist: Black Hole Has Breached Earth's Core

"A brilliant scientist suggests a black hole may be responsible for recent Earth changes.

"What is causing the geomagnetic field flux? Why have regions of the field ripped and collapsed exposing Earth to the solar max fury rapidly approaching in 2012? Why is the Earth's core seemingly spinning crazily out of control and behaving in a way never before seen? L. Riofrio, who has worked with NASA, believes a black hole is in Earth's core."

Aym's article has been seen by over 17,500 readers worldwide. It has been picked up and repeated on Xenophilia , Mists of Avalon , and countless other websites. Somewhere the name Riofrio was confused with French geophysicist Arnaud Chulliat, leading to a series of nearly identical posts using his name. This blog pointed to Arnaud's work back in February, Magnetic Pole Flipping? , though his work does not consider Black Holes.

Since the scientist was not involved with writing the article, there are a few inaccuracies. The scientist only learned about this article while backstage on June 24! A Black Hole "breach" in Earth's core sounds a bit sensationalized, but journalists have their priorities. The "brilliant" writing is most welcome. Remember, the press heard it from Terrence Aym first!

Best comment:

"I mean, the photo used in the blog talking about the Earth eating black hole looks like a pic jacked off a Russian dating site..."

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Asteroid Life

Speaking of asteroids and life, this article just appeared in COSMOS magazine:

Meteorite Shows How Precursors of Life Evolved

"Organic matter found in a meteorite shows how the chemical precursors of life developed in deep space, with some asteroids acting like 'molecular factories' transforming life's ingredients before shipping them to Earth."

The article refers to the Tagish Lake meteorite, which was found in British Columbia in 2000. Examination of the meteorite has found organic molecules, the precursors of life. Many scientists have suggested that life may have began somewhere in Space, its precursors landing on Earth via meteorite or comet impacts. We may all be descended from extraterrestrial life.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Still Another Top 50!

These writings have not received a Shaw Prize, a Gruber Prize, or a Macarthur Grant. More important, this little blog has made another Top 50 list:

Radiology Technician's Top 50 Astronomy Blogs

Physics applied to medicine saves far more lives than fictional dark energies ever will. Thank you, Radiology Technicians! Getting science to a diverse public is far more important than following the herd.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Video Approaching Vesta

The DAWN spacecraft took this video on June 1 as it approached asteroid Vesta at a distance of 483,000 kilometers. At 100 km in diameter, this is the second largest asteroid after Ceres. We are fortunate to have samples from Vesta thanks to the Camel Donga meteorite found in Australia during 1984. This is the only asteroid to have a basaltic surface formed by volcanic processes. How asteroid Vesta could have been hot is a mystery. Even a small world like Vesta could conceivably be home to a tiny Black Hole.


Sunday, June 12, 2011


In Hawaii and Chile, we have seen two frightening examples of Earth's internal heat. The June 2 issue of NATURE reports the discovery of tiny worms or nematodes in a South African gold mine. The nematodes were found in water from depths over 3 kilometers. Previously scientists doubted that complex life forms could exist at such depths.

In recent decades bacteria have been discovered living at great depths. The nematodes apparently live off the bacteria, their small size allowing them to exist in tiny cracks in the rock. Carbon-14 dating suggests that this watery habitat has not seen light for over 2900 years. Bacteria and nematodes form a subsurface ecosystem far removed from sunlight. The very existence of this liquid habitat is a byproduct of Earth's internal heat. Without this heat, water in Earth's interior would be frozen solid.

Previously NASA astrobiologists, whom this scientist has had the pleasure of working with, discovered worm-like forms in a Martian meteorite. The Martian forms, resembling fossilized life, developed deep below the planet's surface billions of years ago. Discovery of nematodes deep in Earth's interior shows that even complex life forms can exist in planetary interiors. In 4 billion years, could worm-like bacteria have evolved into Martian worms?

Previous posts have suggested that Earth's internal heat could be product of a tiny Black Hole. Growing evidence suggests that life may have developed in planetary interiors before it appeared on the surface. Such life in sunless depths would draw energy from the interior. Similar life forms could also form in asteroids and even distant Kuiper Belt objects. The appearance of life beneath Earth and elsewhere may be due to heat from a tiny Black Hole.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Halemaumau Erupts

Aloha! Here on the Big Island we have experienced the slow motion eruption of Kilauea, much more gentle than the Chilean event. Our Hawaiian mountains are shield volcanoes, known for gentle growth with occasional eruptions. Recently Halema'uma'u crater within Kilauea volcano has been slowly filling with lava, causing concern that it could overflow. Presently the closest we are allowed to approach is this view from Jagger Museum.

The main eruption has been at Pu'u O'o vent, East of Kilauea crater. The Hawaiian Islands are slowly drifting to the Northwest over a volcanic hot spot in Earth's mantle. Seen from our island's frame of reference, the center of eruption has been slowly moving Southwest. Once it caused the Northwestern Islands to form first, starting with Kauai. Beneath the sea East of the Big Island, a new island is building. On May 27 we hiked to the top of Napau Crater, which is the closest we can approach. Pu'u O'o is the steaming vent to the left. The crater's interior looks like this:

All Earth's internal heat, which causes earthquakes and volcanoes, could emanate from a primordial Black Hole less than one millimeter in diameter! This heat also formed the continents and islands we live on. Deep within Earth, forms of life live entirely off this heat. The Black Hole also generates a magnetic field that guides compass needles and protects us from Space radiation. How wonderful and mysterious are the small things!

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Volcano in Chile

Image taken June 8 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite.

Since June 4 Chile's Puyehue volcano has been violently erupting, sending smoke and ash many miles into the atmosphere. In this photo the ash cloud appears to have made a turn, going North before being caught in Easterly winds and drifting past the mouth of Rio de la Plata. The cloud has closed airports in Argentina and even Brazil.

What could cause such smoke and fury? Why is Earth's interior, along with that of other planets, so hot? The textbook answer is "radioactive decay," but radioactive elements are rare in Earth's core. Meteorites dating from the time of Earth's formation are composed of nickel and iron. Radioactive elements were created in supernova explosions, and arrived much later.

Earth's crust, in which we sit, has the largest proportion of radioactive elements. Earth's core has temperatures in thousands of degrees, hot enough to melt lead. Even the most radioactive samples that can be found in the crust are not hot enough to melt. The hypothesis of radioactive decay in Earth's core is not supported by geological evidence.

If Earth formed around a tiny Black Hole, radiation from the singularity would keep the core hot indefinitely. The Black Hole would be barely the size of a grain of sand, but have a mass nearly 1/10 that of the Moon. With the surface area of a pinhole, it would be far too tiny to suck us up. For the Black Hole to swallow Earth, the inrushing material would have to exceed the speed of light. The tiny amount that is swallowed would generate radiation, which would oppose gravity's inward pull while keeping the core hot.

A Black Hole in Earth would rotate independently of the planet, dragging ionized material along with it. This would generate a magnetic field that would not necessarily be aligned with Earth's geographic poles. From time to time the magnetic pole would appear to migrate or change direction, exactly as has been recently observed on Earth. Earth's magnetic field protects the planet from the radiation of Space, making life possible on the surface.

Humans have long looked at volcanoes with terror and awe. Earth's internal heat formed the continents we live on. Beneath the surface, many forms of life thrive in darkness by living off this heat. The magnetic field protects us from harmful radiation. We owe all this to a tiny Black Hole, but humans may not be evolved enough to recognize a Black Hole beneath their feet. No wonder it is angry.

Video from Russia Today.

According to ClustrMaps, 419 blog visits in past 24 hours!

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Dark Energy Bad for Planets

(Disclaimer: This writer took Honours Physics from Dr. Marcy and received an A. Otherwise she is not involved in any of the missions mentioned, except for knowing the principals and the story.)

Happy D-Day June 6!

Dr. Geoffrey Marcy, along with colleague Paul Butler, were first to discover planets orbiting other stars. (However, another group in Europe beat them to the publishing line.) Since 1995 Dr. Marcy has become the leading planet hunter, discovering hundreds of new worlds. May 27 at a symposium in MIT, Dr. Marcy expressed his anger that a Terrestrial Planet Finder mission, which he has long advocated, has been pushed out of the funding queue. TPF was conceived to examine the nearest stars for habitable planets. Dr. Marcy lamented that planet hunting does not have support in the astrophysics community. In a 2001 Decadal survey, TPF was a number one priority. Since then many of NASA's astrophysics missions have been cancelled, largely due to emphasis on "dark energy."

In the 2006 NASA budget, TPF was delayed indefinitely. The troubles continued in 2007, when an ad hoc committee of the National Research Council pushed a Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) to the front of the astrophysics line. In Newport Beach this writer argued to the committee that "dark energy" would be bad for science. In the 2010 Decadal Survey, a cobbled-together concept called WFIRST, based on JDEM, was given first priority. Now, due to the mounting costs of the James Webb Space Telescope, WFIRST or anything like it are not likely to fly until year 2030.

How many times does a Cassandra have to warn that "dark energy" is a bad idea? While press stories crow about DE, other promising science has been pushed aside. TPF has also faced competition from a Space Interferometry Mission. Among the wreckage is an International X-Ray Observatory (IXO) and the LISA mission to search for gravitational waves, also delayed indefinitely. The end result is that no missions, even "dark energy" missions, will fly anytime soon.

Discovery of new worlds is a great achievement for science. Humans have long dreamed about exploring planets in other solar systems. Dr. Marcy, the Kepler mission, and others have shown that extrasolar planets are many and varied. The bottom line is that untold numbers of planets exist, while "dark energy" probably does not. Why should emphasis on DE be allowed to wreck science?


Sunday, June 05, 2011

Manta Ray Dive

The night was clear as the boats shined their lights into the waters off Kona. Standing in fins at our boat's dive platform, I placed one hand over mask and regulator, then took a Giant Step into the black water. Equalizing pressure on descent was difficult this night; our dive leader had to turn back when he could not equalize. Finally we settled on the bottom, in a rough circle like a campfire. We shined our dive lights above us to attract plankton and waited. We were hoping to meet with creatures who were as adept in this underwater world as we were clumsy.

Courtesy of Big Island Divers, this is what we saw the night of May 25. First one Manta appeared, then another, eventually a dozen surrounded our group. The Manta Ray is a gentle filter-feeder, living off plankton and small shrimp. Our dive lights attracted the plankton into glowing clouds above each diver. Nearly every night in this place Manta and human meet in a regular ritual. Attracting Mantas to this spot took years of patient work.

These big creatures, with wingspans up to 4 meters, effortlessly turned and dove among us. Many times a Manta would head straight for a diver so that the human cold see straight into its mouth, then deftly steer away at the last moment to miss the diver by inches. their huge wings swept breezy an inch from our bodies without touching. Sometimes two Mantas would head for each other, then turn in unison to face each other belly to belly. They are the masters of this environment.

When humans encounter alien creatures on some distant world, their meetings could be much like this. Since water has been found so abundant in the Universe, extraterrestrials could live like the Manta in a faraway ocean. Their domain may also be one of darkness, in the interior of a world like Europa or possibly Ceres. Once they are found. developing the rituals of communication may take years of work. The weightless underwater world has many similarities to outer Space.

That night we retired to the Sheraton Keahou Bay, in an oceanfront room with Mantas swimming outside the Lanai. The hotel's lights have attracted plankton and Mantas for years, making the bay into another Manta site. These gentle creatures have developed a ritual for encountering humans. We slept and dreamed about someday meeting extraterrestrials across a great and dark ocean.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Trapped by the Webb

While the press crows about "dark energy," the real story is that Physics support is sinking. The Director of NASA's Astrophysics Division lords over a shrinking plate of projects. As this little blog has reported in What a Tangled Webb We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive, and other posts, costs of the James Webb Space Telescope are consuming most of his budget. Some scenarios have JWST not launching until 2022-24. Any SNAP, JDEM, WFIRST or similar mission could not launch for at least 7 tears after.

Despite the press stories, only a tiny minority of scientists believe in "dark energy." Others try to invoke its existence to try to get more of the shrinking funding pie. There is not a single particle or track in a bubble chamber to prove DE's existence. Like the Emperor's New Clothes, it can only be seen by an enlightened few. With JWST delays, a "dark energy" mission will not fly until at least 2030! Long before then the world will know that the universe isn't accelerating, but light is slowing down.

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