TWW felt this comment by Zeta, aka KOATAP (Knower of All Things Astrophysical) was fascinating. Deb and I have invited KOATAP to post occasionally on subjects related to science and faith here at TWW, and KOATAP has agreed!



Responding to: http://praisegodbarebones.blogspot.com/2010/04/age-of-light.html


Oh my – that article on it being ‘ok’ for God to create what we see for the sake of ‘beauty’ is … well hard for me to swallow. What we see ‘out there’ is a perfect example of how the natural laws of the universe ’should’ have played out over billions of years. It is perfect in every way. There are literally trillions of stories out there – stories of collisions, explosions, formations, planets orbiting stars, magnetic fields, relativistic shifts that tell us about frame dragging and how matter behaves at extreme temperatures and pressures – and what this fellow suggests is that everything from 6000 light years away to 13.7 billion light years away is a fiction – something not real. How can ‘the heavens declare the glory of God’ if they are a fiction? Is God a fiction?

Another side effect is this: everything we see is in the past. A few nanoseconds for the computer you are looking at to 8 minutes for the Sun, or an hour or so (43-52 minutes) for Jupiter or 4.25 years for the nearest star. If the universe ‘out there’ is a fiction, how do you know 5 minutes ago is not a fiction? How do you know anything is real and not just something God made up 3 seconds ago?

As for c-decay – the problems with this are legion. First of all, looking at e=mc^2, we see there is a direct correlation between the energy in matter and the speed of light. If speed of light is faster, then either the energy goes up, or the mass goes down. Consider if the speed of light was higher in the past: the mass of the sun would need to be lower to retain the same energy in its fusion reactions. But if the mass was lower, there would not be enough gravitational pressure to keep the sun from blowing itself up, unless the gravitational constant also changed. On the other hand, if the energy went up then the sun would also be producing much more energy than it is now, and the Earth would fry (even if the gravitational constant changed to keep the sun from blowing itself apart). Keep in mind the necessary change is over 1,000,000 times its current value! So a change in the speed of light requires necessary adjustments to a large number of the fundamentals of the universe just to keep the universe self-consistent, to keep it from self-destructing.

But God could play all the games with the constants to keep things together I suppose, only that would still produce other measurable/observable consequences. One aspect of a shift in the speed of light is a measurable shift in the fine structure constant. This can be ascertained through the careful observation of starlight. To this date no measurable change over time has been observed. Another problem is that as light changes speed of transmission it covers less distance per unit time, so the measured time between originally regular events appears to increase.

One of the most regular natural events in the universe is the radio pulses generated by neutron stars, or pulsars. Neutron stars are very small but extremely massive objects that spin about their axis from a few tens to hundreds of times per second. A typical neutron star will be a star with 1.4 times the mass of the sun crunched into a sphere a mere 20 miles in diameter. Careful measurements show only very small changes in their rotation interval that can be accounted for by the measured losses of energy due to normal physical processes. Nothing like the kind of change that could be expected with the shifts in speed required to get light from the most distant corners of the universe to the Earth. There is also no change in the distribution of measured rotational velocities of neutron stars with changing distance.

But back to the required changes in magnitude of the speed of light: for the light from the farthest observed galaxy over 10 billion light years* away to get to us in 6,000 years, the speed of light had to be more than 1,000,000 times faster in the past. That means m in e=mc^2 needed to be 1 trillion times smaller (c is squared – 1,000,000 squared is 1 trillion).

Another issue of course is radioactive decay – which also ties directly to the speed of light. Million fold changes in the radioactive decay rate also produce million fold increases in the amount of heat the decay produces. Those who have done the calculations point out the heat thus released would have melted the Earth’s crust – and it would still be molten.

But from a data standpoint, few know that there is actually a naturally occurring nuclear reactor in the Earth’s crust: the Oklo mine reactor in Gabon, Central Africa. Careful examination of that reactor shows no measurable change in decay rate for its entire existence – which appears to be about 2 billion years.

Finally, when we observe stellar explosions like Super Nova 1987a which occurred over 168,000 light years from here, we can see light propagating then and there at the same speed it is now. We can see the relative speed of decay for certain elements created in that explosion – and the decay rate is also the same as it is now. Based on the observed propagation of light at the time of the explosion and the measured distance to the star, 168,000 years ago is when the explosion happened. For that light to have gotten here in <6000 years, we'd need to see light zipping across the void at a minimum of 28 times the speed we observe, and it would have had to maintain that speed the entire time.

To summarize then, there is literally no real evidence for a changes in the speed of light. The speed of light is one of the most fundamental constants of our universe and it is key to how the universe works from the small to the large. It is then no wonder Genesis begins with its creation. There is then no reason to presume that against all evidence it has changed, unless one believes there is absolutely no possibility one could be mistaken in understanding scripture.

With over 20,000 Protestant denominations on the Earth, the Catholic Church and Russian Orthodox churches, and 3 different varieties of Judaism all holding to varying understandings of the Bible – does that postulate make any sense at all?


*The farthest observed galaxy is actually estimated to be about 13 billion light years away



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    In the mid 19th century, it was observed by Le Verrier that the ellipse traced out by the planet Mercury during its motion round the Sun was not constant and in the same place every time. Mercury’s closest orbital approach (perihelion) to the sun actually moves about the Sun at a very small rate (arc seconds) per century.

    Had it not been for the fact that Mercury’s orbit is the most elliptical of the bunch and for the advances of the his day in time measurement (chronometers), Le Verrier might have missed it altogether.

    Newton’s classical orbital mechanics could not account for this “should not be” motion and scientists were in a pickle to explain it until Einstein’s model finally resolved the mystery.

    What’s my point you may be wondering? Simply this:
    How long until Einstein’s long cherished model can no longer account for consistently observed anomolies in the natural world?

    I think it would be sheer hubris to dismiss the possibility that such events won’t happen.

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    THank you for your thoughts. I have contacted KOATAP and have asked him to respond. I know my limitations!!

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    I don’t think anyone believes Einsteins theory will be ‘the end’ of our understanding of the physics of the universe. We already know that something needs to be discovered just to merge what quantum mechanics has to say about the very small and what Einstein’s theory has to say about the very large. So someday we can expect a ‘better’ or more complete theory to come along.

    However, one thing most people don’t realize is the Einstein’s theory is one of the most successful theories that has ever been. It is still today being rigorously tested, and in every single test to date, the results predicted by the theory have been validated to the limits of measured precision.

    Some of the more interesting recent tests and validations include the Gravity Probe B whose purpose it was to confirm the Relativistic prediction of an effect called ‘frame dragging’, where time literally gets dragged by a rotating massive body. This was actually observed around rotating pulsars and accretion disks of black holes by the time the results came in, but Einteins predictions were confirmed to with the limits of the device.

    Another is the rather odd effect called ‘gravitational lensing’, where the mass in large galactic systems actually bends light passing through it and acts like a giant telescope lens. These massive gravitational lenses actually allow us to see much farther into the universe by magnifying the light from galaxies behind them. These images are often distorted, as the gravitational lenses are generally far from perfect, but using the effect and Einstein’s theory, we can actually determine the total mass and its distribution in the foreground cluster, as well examine the structure of the distant, lensed, galaxy (and hence see an earlier epoch in our universe’s history).

    A third item has been an experiment conducted since 1969 (though just recently terminated) called the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment. Here powerful lasers have been aimed at the moon at the little reflector left there by Apollo 11, and through that experiment (besides giving us centimeter or less accurate measurements of the distance to the moon) the prediction of Einsteins theory that the Gravitational constant is … well … constant, has been shown true to 1 part in 100 billion.

    Perhaps one a little closer to home is the little known fact (by the public at large) that our wonderful GPS system, which we use day in and day out to help us find the closest eatery or get us to a destination or around bad traffic, would not work at all unless the clocks on the satellites were not set to run a little fast. Not only are the set fast, they are set precisely the amount fast predicted by Einstein’s theory so that once they are in orbit and the clocks are slowed by relativistic time dilation, they will run at the correct rate.

    But without getting long winded, or overly complex, from the time of the first measurements of starlight bending around the sun to the very precise experiments being run today (often with accuracies to 1 part in a trillion), this rather amazing theory has yet to been found deficient in explaining the observations it predicts even one time.

    Zeta “KOATAP”

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    Thank you so much for your kind reply!
    I must also heartily agree that Einstein’s model has been born out in the empirical realm many times over.

    So far, so good as they say.

    But they also say …sooner or later…

    Muff Potter

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