Monday, October 20, 2008

Barry Setterfield joins the Electric Cosmos?

A reader of my work has recently pointed me to a major update in the work of Barry Setterfield. (I wonder if this also means that many of my links into Setterfield's site will now be broken?) It seems Mr. Setterfield has subjected his theory to a fairly major rewrite and in the process, has integrated many more aspects of the "Electric Universe" claims into his work. See Reviewing A Plasma Universe With Zero Point Energy? available at This means that my detour in dealing with some Electric Universe claims was fortuitous.

In Reviewing A Plasma Universe With Zero Point Energy, I see Setterfield repeats his same old errors.

Setterfield does not address any of the issues raised by myself or Dr. Jellison about his claims. I have found some reference to the issues raised elsewhere on his site. He mostly tries to dismiss the results as "conceptual errors" on my part. Let's see how many basic errors in math and data analysis Mr. Setterfield makes.

Fails to compare data to his model
Figures 1-5 of Setterfield's Review plots values of various physical constants subject to some variation in Setterfield's model. Yet none of these graphs display error bars on the points plotted. Nor does Setterfield plot the variation predicted by his model. For example, my Figures 1 & 2 below are plots of measurements of the speed of light (points with error bars) compared with plots of the various models for a changing speed of light which Setterfield has proposed over the years (lines). The data plotted here are collected from Setterfield's own site (History of Speed of Light Experiments).

Plot of Setterfield's 'data' from 1750 to the present.

Click image to see higher resolution
Figure 1: Plots of measured speed of light compared to Setterfield's models (1750s to the present)

Plot of Setterfield's 'data' from 1830 to the present.

Click image to see higher resolution
Figure 2: Plots of measured speed of light compared to Setterfield's models (1830s to the present) with tighter view on more recent measurements.

Notice that many of the measurements Setterfield chooses to ignore (black) lie above and below the model fit and give very poor agreement with Setterfield's models. Even more telling is the scatter above and below the modern accepted value in Figure 2. This behavior is more indicative of systematic errors in the measurment, not an actual trend. No wonder Setterfield is so reluctant to display his model fits with data!

On Setterfield's main page, he claims to "Let data lead to theory". Here we see a high-school math level example where he violates this claim.

Surprisingly, Setterfield makes no comments in this Review indicating that his theory would predict a variation of radioactive decay rates with Earth's orbital distance! Let's see if a revision includes this claim!

You might also note that I don't include Setterfield's latest model for the change in the speed of light in historical times. We'll see the problems with that in the next installment...

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