Monday, September 27, 2010

Geocentrism: Galileo was wrong?

Back on September 7, 2010, I received an e-mail from a member of the National Capital Area Skeptics (NCAS) pointing me to this site:

Galileo Was Wrong

The site advertises a conference, scheduled for November 6, 2010 in South Bend, Indiana.  The topic “Galileo Was Wrong: The Church Was Right.  First Annual Catholic Conference on Geocentrism“. 
I had meant to write sooner on this topic, but a number of other blogs have given it some entertaining attention.
One of the more entertaining aspects of the “Galileo was Wrong” site, is the number of Ph.Ds, some in physical sciences, listed under “Reviews”.  Not surprisingly, I could find NO evidence that any of these Ph.D. geocentrists have done any work in space-based technologies where their Geocentric beliefs are actually applied to do real things.  None of them appear to be involved in computing complex interplanetary satellite trajectories, or even launching satellites into orbit.  (My favorite quote is from the aerospace engineer who conveniently doesn't tell you about the other reference frames that are important for GPS operation.  In my post, Scott Rebuttal. I. GPS & Relativity, I list a number of references on how GPS actually works.  Some of these are texts used for teaching others how to properly decode the signals for designing new applications.) 

Like most pseudo-sciences, its practitioners never actually apply their 'science' in developing real technologies in areas where their 'science' would make a difference.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Classroom Astronomer: Crank Astronomy as a Teaching Tool

I have written an article based on my January 2010 AAS meeting poster (original post), titled “Crank Astronomy as a Teaching Tool”.   It has been published in the current (Fall 2010) issue of “The Classroom Astronomer”.

The main exercise in the article is the Electric Universe “Solar Resistor” model (see Electric Cosmos: The Solar Resistor Model and/or "The Electric Sky: Short-Circuited", pp 17-21) which I converted to a form suitable for analysis on a standard electronic spreadsheet. 

If there is enough interest, I hope to convert some more of the analyses on my sites into forms more appropriate for introductory physics and astronomy classes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Baryon Acoustic Oscillations are NOT 'Redshift Quantization'

I recently received this in my email, apparently in response to the redshift quantization article on my main site (William Tifft's Quantized Redshifts).
Re: Tifft's Quantized Redshifts article

How does one deal with the fact that more recent observations have confirmed and extended Tifft's original findings, even some studies by his initial detractors? Recent reports from Daniel J. Eisenstein and his collaborators have shown evidence of the baryon acoustic oscillations in the distribution of galaxies, in data from the SDSS and 2dF surveys. And they, as well as others, are planning even more extensive studies of this phenomenon with the next generation of telescopes and spectrographs.
Some Young Earth Creationists, as well as Electric Universe supporters argue that the alleged  redshift quantizations are real.

Here's the original story link from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) from 2005.  The lead author of the paper, Daniel Eisenstein, also has a web page concerning the discovery.

The main error the email author makes is the assumption that the 'baryon acoustic oscillations' mentioned in the article correspond to 'redshift quantization'.  A simple search can help clarify (wikipedia: Baryon Acoustic Oscillations).

All oscillations are not equivalent.  Baryon acoustic oscillations are seen in the cosmic microwave background radiation and are part of the evidence of the correctness of Big Bang cosmology.  There is a pretty good description of this on Eisenstein's site which graphically plots the evolution of this enhancement by plotting the power spectrum as the universe expands.

The bottom line is that the deviations from a uniform blackbody spectrum observed in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), represent density enhancements in the plasma at the time electrons and protons are binding to form hydrogen atoms.  We expect these density enhancements to provide the 'seeds' of enhanced gravity from which larger cosmological structures will collapse and eventually form clusters of galaxies, galaxies, and stars.  Therefore, we expect this enhancement visible in the CMB to leave an 'imprint' in the distribution of galaxies which we can observe today.

Note that the baryon acoustic peak is a broad peak in the power spectrum, corresponding to a wide range of frequencies, therefore a broad range of time, and therefore distance.  Eisenstein reports this scale of distance in on the order of 500 million light-years (the distance between here and the Andromeda galaxy is about 2.2 million light-years).  Clearly the oscillation does not represent that galaxies are only spaced every 500 million light-years, but there distribution of galaxies which is enhanced at those separation scales.  Not a very effective 'quantization', which requires a very narrow frequency peak.

In regards to William Tifft's work, Tifft claimed a very narrow frequency for his quantization, originally 220 km/sec, though later papers reported significantly different values.  The claim was galaxies only existed on 'shell's with this spacing.  Using the latest determined value of the Hubble constant of 72 km/s per million parsecs (about 22 km/s per million light-years), this corresponds to a galaxy 'shell' spacing of about 220 km/s / (22 km/s/mly) = 10 million light-years.  This is smaller than the spacing of the acoustic peak by a factor of 50!  Clearly the acoustic oscillation does not correspond to Tifft's 'quantization'.

I've added more information about redshift quantization on my blog, incorporating newer results, as well as discussing some of the errors that researchers make in using the power spectral density:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Science Channel: Top 10 Science Mistakes

The Science Channel has published their list of “Top 10 Science Mistakes” through history.

Ways Scientists Were Wrong- Top 10 Science Mistakes- Science Channel.

While the list included items across all sciences, a few astronomical items made the list, both of which still have adherents today.

First is the popular claim of Young-Earth Creationism (YEC)
No. 6: The Earth Is Only 6,000 Years Old Top 10 Science Mistakes
which still has adherents (Wikipedia: Creationism, Young Earth Creationism, Creationist cosmologies) but not among professional cosmologists who actually work with real data.

Second, is a smaller group, the biblical geocentrists,
No. 2: The Earth Is the Center of the Universe- Top 10 Science Mistakes
which, while smaller in number, still has some supporters (Wikipedia: Geocentric model, Modern geocentrism).

From my Reading List

I just started reading “Discarded Science: Ideas that seemed good at the time...” by John Grant.  I'm about half-way through it at the time of this writing.  The title is slightly misleading, as Grant often goes beyond what mainstream science thought at the time to describe what appear to be random cranks of the day.  However, even these diversions seem worthwhile as many of these cranks seem to borrow ideas from each other, incorporating them into their own mythologies.  I've noted this type of behavior on this site, such as YECs adopting some aspects of the Electric Universe for their cosmologies (Barry Setterfield joins the Electric Cosmos?Setterfield & c-Decay: "Reviewing a Plasma Universe with Zero Point Energy"The Electric Universe & Creationism).

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Electric Universe: Plasma Physics for Fun AND Profit!

Now for Part 3 of this series on plasma modeling.
  1. Electric Universe: Real Plasma Physicists Use Mathematical Models
  2. Electric Universe: Real Plasma Physicists Build Mathematical Models!
If, as EU supporters like to claim, plasmas are so intractable mathematically that no one can compute any model with any accuracy, why are commercial-grade software for modeling plasma systems on the market?  The fact that such systems exist at all is evidence that plasmas behave under the influence of natural laws and are not mystical, incomprehensible things.

There is plenty of published evidence of this fact.

Even More Research on Plasma Simulation Development

Consider this published dissertation: Studies of Electrical Plasma Discharges.  Note that Fig 1.10 of this work is generated by a plasma model, and is equivalent to the graphic in James Cobine's "Gaseous Conductors"  from the 1940s (pg 213, Figure 8.4) which EU supporters always like to reference.

Here are just SOME of the articles on plasma simulation codes I found with a quick search at the Cornell Preprint Server:

    •    From Theoretical Foundation to Invaluable Research Tool: Modern Hybrid Simulations
    •    dHybrid: a massively parallel code for hybrid simulations of space plasmas
    •    2.5 Dimensional Particle-in-Cell Simulations of Relativistic Plasma Collisions
    •    Three-dimensional PIC simulation of electron plasmas
    •    Particle simulation code for charge variable dusty plasmas
    •    New parametrization for differences between plasma kinetic codes
    •    Fokker-Planck and Quasilinear Codes
    •    Adaptive Multi-Dimensional Particle In Cell
    •    One-to-one direct modeling of experiments and astrophysical scenarios: pushing the envelope on kinetic plasma simulations

But more than just research papers, there are actually...

Available Plasma Simulation Codes

There is a publication that has collected a number of plasma simulation codes, with articles that serve as documentation:
Consider The Plasma Theory and Simulation Group at UC Berkeley.  If you scroll down the page, the group lists some of the projects, including commercial product development, where they have been involved.  A little further down the page, they actually provide a number of their plasma simulation codes in source code form.  Some of these codes were apparently used in designing a number of plasma devices so they have been tested against experiments.  Since they are provided in source code form, they could probably be compiled for almost any platform!  The EU supporters have NO excuses not to try these out for their favorite model of the Sun or galaxies.  But I will not hold my breath for them to do any actual work.

PLASMAKIN: a chemical kinetics package. From the SourceForge page:  “PLASMAKIN is a package to handle physical and chemical data used in plasma physics modeling and to compute gas-phase and gas-surface kinetics data: particle production and loss rates, photon emission spectra and energy exchange rates.”

VORPAL From the web page: “VORPAL enables researchers to simulate complex physical phenomena in less time and at a much lower cost than empirically testing process changes for plasma and vapor deposition processes. VORPAL offers a unique combination of physical models to cover the entire range of plasma simulation problems. Ionization and neutral gas models enable VORPAL to bridge the gap between plasma and neutral flow physics.”

PicUp 3D: This program models plasma interactions of satellites in the solar wind and other space environments.  A popular claim of EU supporters is that satellites cannot detect a 'uniform' flow of electrons or ions powering an electric Sun.  The problem with this notion is that the satellites are not uniform conductors so embedding in even a uniform plasma will generate voltages in the satellites structure and the electrons try to move into a configuration compatible with the plasma flow creating internal voltages which can sometimes kill the satellite.

But few of these codes are new.  How were they developed?

As with most of these types of codes, initially by a small group of researchers, or perhaps even an individual researcher, who had a need for a plasma code and wrote it themselves from scratch.  When the code was found to have reasonable agreement with the experiments the researcher(s) were doing, the code obtained wider distribution, and revisions by others.  Eventually, if the code is found useful for a wide range of problems where there is an industrial, commercial, or security interest, the code might get support from a larger team of researchers and developers, but that doesn't happen until the code has proven its usefulness.

Excuses, excuses...

Why haven't any of these codes been found (and utilized) by the EU 'theorists'?  There is sufficient documentation available that any interested party could run what currently exists, or write their own version in their programming language of choice.  Why aren't the Electric Universe books full of results of detailed simulations from which we can derive numbers which we can compare to actual measurements by spacecraft?

Why do we see nothing from EU but pictures (often taken by others doing legitimate research) and 'stories' indistinguishable from mythology?

Coming soon, some of the odds-n-ends on plasma modeling to close out (at least for now) this topic.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Science, Reason and Critical Thinking: Modern Science Map

Over at the “Science, Reason and Critical Thinking” blog, Crispian Jago has created an interesting visual representation of the development of modern science
The chart links prominent individuals in the development of a number of sciences since the 16th century, including theoretical physics and astronomy.  The graphic is laid out like a subway map, each separate 'line' corresponding to fields of science.  'Transfer station' symbols are located at individuals whose work had impact in multiple fields

Crispan describes the graphic as a draft, currently version 0.37, subject to revision.  Commenters are reporting a number of corrections and revisions.

I did a similar exercise with my “Cosmos in Your Pocket” paper, converting it into a poster for the AAS meeting in Miami, FL last spring.  I'll explore converting this poster into a similar graphic for posting online - just another item for my extensive To Do list...

So...What Happened?

Wow.  It's been over eight years since I last posted here... When I stepped back in August 2015,...