Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Peasants Are Revolting

Across the globe, from Tripoli to Texas, people are protesting their national governments. Often these regimes are composed of an elite few who have lost touch with reality. They try to stay in power by controlling what the press is allowed to publish. In this way they can set terms of debate, and marginalize dissent. Despite their attempts to stay in power, regimes are being swept away.

In the science world, there is growing resistance to the idea of "dark energy." In turn, DE has led to doubts and confusion about dark matter. A former string theorist, now exiled to China, writes in Alpha Meme:

"The public repulsion against dark matter and dark energy is really annoying. Rob Knop at scientopia compares it to 17th century catholic church mentality; Ethan picks it up and bangs the dark matter explains everything drum although dark matter does not fit very well to galaxy rotation curves – Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) fits much better:"

The "dark energy" link to Wikipedia clearly states that DE is a "hypothetical" form if energy. The link from a former member of the Supernova Cosmology Project, one group which claimed to discover DE, is equally dismissive of the public. He now blogs from Squamish, British Columbia:

"I am regularly struck, when giving public outreach talks, or when hearing the topic of Dark Matter discussed amongst the general non-Astronomer public, at the separation between acceptance of Dark Matter between astronomers and the general (informed) public. (The general public at large probably doesn't have enough of a clue about Dark Matter even to have a wrong opinion, alas!)"

Remarks like this will alienate the public which funds science. In turn this will lead to more ridicule for "dark energy" and its advocates. The idea of a repulsive energy has been very bad for science. When will the scientists admit that the Emperor has no clothes? A simple expression like GM=tc^3 shines light on these dark mysteries.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Moon Tree

This tree in Monterey, California was grown from a seed carried by Apollo 14. Stuart Roosa carried the tiny seed as he orbited the Moon in the Command Module. After being raised at a nursery in Placerville, the seedling was planted here in 1976. The little seed has grown very quickly! Redwoods are the tallest living things on Earth, with the tallest known specimen reaching 114 meters.

The person by the tree had the honour of doing experiments with Lunar Sample 14003,96. This was a contingency sample brought back by Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell from the surface. Shepard later turned the sample handle into the famous golf club. Apollo 14 was also one of the missions bringing a Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. Data from LLRE is direct evidence that the speed of light is slowing down. From small seeds grow great trees.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Farthest Quasar

In the June 30 issue of NATURE, astronomers report discovery of the most distant quasar ever found. Once these enormously bright lights were called quasi stellar objects because scientists had no idea how distant or bright they really are. ULAS J1120+0641 dates from a time 12.9 billion years ago, about 770 million years after the Big Bang. This quasar emits 60 trillion times as much light as our Sun! It is powered by a Black Hole of 2 billion solar masses.

Dating from a time when few stars existed, this quasar is far too old to have formed from a collapsing star. It's central Black Hole must have formed from direct collapse shortly after the Big Bang. Size of a primordial Black Hole is related to the speed of light. Discovery of this massively powerful quasar is one more bit of evidence that c was much faster in the early Universe.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Juno Launches

(From this blog March 2007)

This photo of Jupiter combines a visual image from Hubble with X-ray data from the Chandra spacecraft. The North and South poles are alive with X-rays. Like Earth's aurora, this display occurs in both poles simultaneously 140,000 km distant! Something in Jupiter's core links the poles. Jupiter has an immense magnetic field, the strongest in the solar system. Presence of a singularity would explain Jupiter’s field, and why Jupiter gives off nearly twice as much heat as it receives from the Sun.

Cassini has seen a huge hurricane at Saturn's South Pole. The largest planet does not have a storm centred at the South Pole because Jupiter’s magnetic poles do not line up with the geographic poles. The magnetic field is angled 9.5 degrees, indicating that Jupiter’s singularity is offset like that of Earth. Jupiter completes its day in less than 10 Earth-hours. A southern jet radiating from Jupiter’s core would be bent further outward by the rapid rotation. Magnetic fields would cause the storm to rotate in an anti-clockwise direction as seen from above. For signs of such a storm, we can look at the latitude of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

Astronomers like Geoffrey Marcy and Debra Fisher have found "hot Jupiters" in other solar systems, giant planets orbiting very close to stars. Old ideas of planet formation can not explain these objects. They could not have formed solely from condensing gas, for solar radiation would cause the gas to evaporate. Presently astronomers speculate that they formed farther from their suns, and then drifted closer after formation. All of them? If that is true, why haven't our giant planets drifted into the Sun?

If giant planets formed around singularities, a Black Hole's gravity would prevent them from dissipating. Hot Jupiters could then form extremely close to stars. Rotating Black Holes could also account for the magnetic fields of Uranus and Neptune, and why those fields are far offset from the planets’ rotation axes. Jupiter's X-rays could result from the polar jets of a Black Hole.

Friday August 5 the Juno spacecraft successfully launched from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas V booster. Juno will arrive in Jupiter orbit during July 2016. Attached to Juno is a plaque depicting Galileo. 500 years ago in 1610 Galileo's telescope was first to spot the moons of Jupiter. Though thinkers like Copernicus had proposed that Earth was not centre of the universe, the Galilean satellites were the first evidence of objects circling something other than Earth. Galileo's discovery challenged the prevailing cosmology.

During Galileo's time scientists also disagreed whether light travelled instantaneously or had a finite speed. Galileo suggested stationing lanterns on distant hilltops to time light's travel, but of course he lacked an accurate clock. The first measurement of the finite speed of light was based upon eclipses of the moons Galileo discovered. In the 17th century Ole Roemer explained an anomaly in timing of occultations with a delay caused by the speed of light. In 1676 Roemer predicted that one moon would appear late, and his prediction proved precisely correct. Decades passed before Ole Roemer's results were generally accepted.

Today we have laser lanterns and the distant hilltop of the Moon. The Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment from Apollo has stationed reflectors on the Moon's surface. The initial purpose was to determine the Moon's distance, but LLRE has other applications. Measurements using the Moon can determine that light's finite speed is slowing down. New data about this coming soon.

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Vesta Turns

The Dawn spacecraft took this series of views of asteroid Vesta. We are fortunate to have meteorite samples of Vesta, blown off in some cataclysm. Vesta rocks show signs of melting, as if born in a volcano. What caused pieces of Vesta to be blown off is a mystery. Scientists have suggested a nearby supernova explosion, but such a catastrophe would have affected other bodies such as Earth.

A minor planet like Vesta could also be home to a tiny Black Hole. This dwarf planet would have formed around the singularity like a pearl around a grain of sand. The Black Hole would be too tiny to swallow Vesta, but the small amount it did eat would make the interior warm. A Black Hole could make Vesta volcanic, even sending some pieces hurtling into Space. Vesta contains tiny clues to the formation of our planet Earth.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Mars Water Today

(2-minute video from JPL) Repeated observations with the HiRise camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found these changing gully-like features, probably formed by liquid water flowing today. These features appear and disappear seasonally like stream beds. The water would likely be briny, leading to a lower freezing point. On Earth we often see life in briny water. Creatures like the common brine shrimp can even lie dormant for long periods when water runs dry. Recently researchers at California's Mono Lake claimed to find evidence of microbes that use alkali in their chemistry. The evidence for life on Mars continues to gather.

Our research on Martian meteorites shows signs of fossil life nearly 4 billion years old. Old theories of astrophysics claim that the Sun at this time was barely 75 percent as bright, so Earth and Mars would have been frozen solid. Evidence from both planets indicates flowing water billions of years ago. The Sun converts its fuel to energy according to E=mc^2. Because the speed of light was higher in the distant past, solar luminosity is calculated to be almost exactly today's value. If c had not changed in the amounts predicted, life would not have evolved on Earth. Evidence for "c change" is also gathering.


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