Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mathematicians Confirm Life on Mars

The 1976 Viking mission to Mars, sent to seek signs of life, may have found it. Viking's Labelled Release Experiment fed a mix of nutrients to Martian soil, cooked it, and measured the resulting gases for carbon dioxide or other products of biological action. To everyone's surprise, the soil yielded far more products than expected. Principal Investigator Gilbert Levin wanted to immediately announce the discovery of life on Mars, but was delayed by NASA bureaucracy. Before an announcement was made, other scientists popped up to claim that the results were due to non-biological chemistry. No scientist has ever found a way to reproduce these results without life. After 35 years Gil Levin continues to claim that his experiment found life on Mars.

A new study uses mathematical techniques to examine the Viking data. The study examines the raw data for signs of complexity, an indicator of life forms. Chemical processes are not complex; life forms are. The study appears to indicate that the labelled release results were produced by life. The paper, with Gilbert Levin as co-author, appears in the International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences:

Compexity Analysis of the Viking Labelled Release Experiments

This writer had the privilege of working with the scientists who in 1996 founds signs of fossil life on Martian meteorite ALH84001. That evidence has also been disputed. The argument over life on Mars may not be settled until scientists have a sample of Martian soil beneath their microscope. In today's funding climate, Mars has a low priority. While NASA was promised the basic research funding to go beyond Earth, planetary science budgets are being slashed. A complicated sample return mission is in jeopardy without US participation. Another way would be to send a scientist to Mars with a microscope. We all hope that the argument is settled someday.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Enterprise That Almost Was

In 1992 a FULL SCALE Starship Enterprise was planned for Fremont Street in Las Vegas. The mammoth 150 million dollar project would have been the Wienie (in Disneyspeak) drawing crowds to the undervisited "old" end of Vegas. Analysts calculated that, in addition to admission fees, the Enterprise would have paid for itself by increasing Vegas tourism. The NCC-1701A design measures 1000 feet long, longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall. This would have been 8th Wonder of the world, a tourism symbol along with Sydney's Opera House and the Disney castles. The project was approved by everyone from investors to Las Vegas' Mayor, but was stopped by a single veto from the old man who happened to be CEO of Paramount.

World-renowned attraction creator Gary Goddard recently talked about the Enterprise in his company's blog. Goddard quotes Albert Einstein: "Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds".

The Star Trek Attraction That Almost Came to Life

In one fell swoop Paramount lost countless milllions in licensing dollars, for there was no financial risk to the studio. Las Vegas eventually built the Fremont Street Experience, which revitalized that end of the Strip but had none of the Enterprise's drawing power. Some of the idea lived on in The Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton1998-2008. We all hope to look up and see giant Starships someday. Hats off to the real USS Enterprise CVN-65, now on her final deployment!

The Star Trek Experience closing in 2008.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Evolution of the Moon

2 minute 40 second video of the Moon's history. According to the most popular theory, the Moon was created when a Mars-sized planet struck the Earth. The impactor was vaporised, and Earth's mantle was blown off into Space. The pieces of mantle were large enough to coalesce in Earth orbit until they formed the Moon. The Giant Impactor theory became popular after Apollo Moon samples were found to resemble parts of Earth's mantle.

The Moon first coalesced less 1/4 its present distance from Earth. Since that time 4.5 billion years ago the Moon has been slowly drifting away. This is interpreted as tidal forces transferring angular momentum from Earth's rotation to the Moon. Apollo's Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment measured this distance increasing at 3.82 cm/yr, anomalously high. If the Moon were today gaining angular momentum at that rate, it would have been in the same place as Earth only 1.5 billion years ago.

If the speed of light were slowly decreasing, time for light to return from the Moon would increase each year, making the Moon appear to recede faster as seen by LLRE. Change in the speed of light, predicted by the simple expression GM=tc^3, precisely accounts for the lunar anomaly. This is striking evidence that the speed of light is slowing today.

Labels: ,

Monday, April 09, 2012

"Dark Energy" Goes Begging

At the American Physical Society (APS) April meeting in Atlanta, physicist Saul Perlmutter again argued for more dollars to find hypothetical "dark energy". In 2011 Saul, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess split the Nobel Prize for claiming to discover DE. Unsatisfied with a measly 1.4 million dollar prize, they want 1000 times more money for a Space mission--once called SNAP, later JDEM, now WFIRST. Because of delays to the James Webb Space Telescope, WFIRST or anything like it will not fly until 2025 if ever. Nobel Prize or not, there is very little public support for "dark energy".

A supernova discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope on January 25, 2012 has been named by Adam Riess and his team at Space Telescope Science Institute for Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski. This has led many to complain that only the International Astronomical Union can name an astronomical object. Keith Cowing of NASAWATCH called it Shameless Kissing Up to Congress at STSci. Nobel holder Adam Riess chose to defend himself in comments on Keith's blog post, with a supporting comment from Tod Lauer. Naming an exploding star for a sitting US Senator does seem like a desperate bid to curry a woman's favor.

The claim of "dark energy" rests on one main line of evidence, redshifts of Type Ia supernovae. Redshifts of distant objects increase linearly with distance, indicating expansion of the Universe. supernova redshifts appear to increase non-linearly, leading to speculation about acceleration and "dark" energies. A slowing speed of light, predicted by the simple equation GM=tc^3, fits the supernova redshifts precisely. The answer to the DE mystery lies not in darkness, but in light. If Nobel Prize winners are smart, why haven't they figured this out?

UPDATE: In the past day this story and outrage has spread to websites like the Daily Caller:

A New Way To Bribe Congress

"NASA’s pathetic move to name the Hubble data archive after the Senator (Mikulski) who controls their appropriations."

Also the conservative National Review:

Shameless Politicians Continued

One quarter of a Nobel Prize is still a great honor, one that no woman has received since 1963. Let us hope it is not sullied.

Labels: ,

Locations of visitors to this page