Galactic GPS from Nature's Clocks

Nature’s Most Precise Clocks May Make “Galactic GPS” Possible
01.05.10

Still from animation of pulsar rotating

Pulsars slow down their rotation as they age and eventually cease their characteristic emissions. That can change if an aging pulsar is a member of a binary system containing a normal star. Gas flowing from the star can spin the pulsar up to hundreds of revolutions a second and allow it to resume its lighthouse-like beams of radiation. Credit: NASA

› Watch animation

Colored circles indicate the positions of the new pulsars on the Fermi one-year all-sky map

Radio searches netted 17 new millisecond pulsars by examining the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope’s list of unidentified sources. Colored circles indicate the positions of the new pulsars on the Fermi one-year all-sky map. Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

› Larger image Radio astronomers have uncovered 17 millisecond pulsars in our galaxy by studying unknown high-energy sources detected by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The astronomers made the discovery in less than three months. Such a jump in the pace of locating these hard-to-find objects holds the promise of using them as a kind of “galactic GPS” to detect gravitational waves passing near Earth.

A pulsar is the rapidly spinning and highly magnetized core left behind when a massive star explodes. Because only rotation powers their intense gamma-ray, radio and particle emissions, pulsars gradually slow as they age. But the oldest pulsars spin hundreds of times per second — faster than a kitchen blender. These millisecond pulsars have been spun up and rejuvenated by accreting matter from a companion star.

“Radio astronomers discovered the first millisecond pulsar 28 years ago,” said Paul Ray at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. “Locating them with all-sky radio surveys requires immense time and effort, and we’ve only found a total of about 60 in the disk of our galaxy since then. Fermi points us to specific targets. It’s like having a treasure map.”

Millisecond pulsars are nature’s most precise clocks, with long-term, sub-microsecond stability that rivals human-made atomic clocks. Precise monitoring of timing changes in an all-sky array of millisecond pulsars may allow the first direct detection of gravitational waves — a long-sought consequence of Einstein’s relativity theory.

“The Global Positioning System uses time-delay measurements among satellite clocks to determine where you are on Earth,” explained Scott Ransom of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Va. “Similarly, by monitoring timing changes in a constellation of suitable millisecond pulsars spread all over the sky, we may be able to detect the cumulative background of passing gravitational waves.”

The sources Fermi detected are not associated with any known gamma-ray emitting objects and did not show evidence of pulsing behavior. However, scientists considered it likely that many of the unidentified sources would turn out to be pulsars.

For a more detailed look at radio wavelengths, Ray organized the Fermi Pulsar Search Consortium and recruited a handful of radio astronomers with expertise in using five of the world’s largest radio telescopes — the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in W.Va., the Parkes Observatory in Australia, the Nancay Radio Telescope in France, the Effelsberg Radio Telescope in Germany and the Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico.

After studying approximately 100 targets, and with a computationally intensive data analysis still under way, the discoveries have started to pour in.

“Other surveys took a decade to find as many of these pulsars as we have,” said Ransom, who led one of the discovery groups. “Having Fermi tell us where to look is a huge advantage.”

Four of the new objects are “black widow” pulsars, so called because radiation from the recycled pulsar is destroying the companion star that helped spin it up.

“Some of these stars are whittled down to masses equivalent to tens of Jupiters,” said Ray. “We’ve doubled the known number of these systems in the galaxy’s disk, and that will help us better understand how they evolve.”

NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the Department of Energy, along with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, and the U.S. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

Francis Reddy

Goddard Space Flight Center

See original story here.

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70 thoughts on “Galactic GPS from Nature's Clocks

  1. Dave Salt (05:11:29) :
    DARPA and NASA have been looking at this concept (XNAV) for quite a few years now.

    Many thanks for that background paper, Dave. Just looking at the headline I was wondering how you would manage to receive millisecond pulsar signals on a hand portable 🙂 – the paper you reference gives details. Good stuff, but not easy, though possible on a spacecraft.
    I wonder what the intention is with regard to detection of gravitational waves – presumably it would be to use a spacecraft as the reference object that the gravitaional waves perturb – and presumably also it would also be limited to the lower frequency gravitational waves, since pulsar frequencies tend to be in the millisecond range rather than the nanosecond range of GPS earth orbiting satellites.
    Fascinating stuff – thanks Andrew.

  2. For the sake of clarity: Radio signals are electric signals unless otherwise stated by the “de la belle epoque” science.

  3. Voyager.
    We have sent the location of our species into the void in the form of a pulsar map etched onto plaques fitted to our spacecraft.
    What was the very first thing the old time mariners did when they saw a strange vessel approaching? They destroyed any map that could lead a potential enemy to their home port.
    We learn nothing from history it seems.

  4. Henry Galt (06:35:58) :
    Voyager.

    Too late. We’ve been transmitting our radio then TV signals into space for over 100 years – so they’re now reaching stars up to 100 light years away. If “they” 🙂 can’t detect and locate the origin of our radio and TV signals then their technology isn’t great! Radio waves travel considerably faster than Voyager.

  5. Perhaps gravitational waves cannot be detected because they do not exist. Too bad these experiments aren’t a definitive test for existence/non-existence.

  6. Fear not John Cooke, it seems that our myriad signals disolve into the background radio noise, but a few light-yearsout from Earth. (I’m Googling for a reference, I heard this on a radio programme some weeks back, but can’t find a reference)

  7. John Cooke (06:55:52) : A good idea it would be to modulate the Sun at will… who knows if the all powerful “Al Baby” and Nobel prize winner, could make it..☺

  8. The study of the phenomena that is called gravity has a challenges. I think it is a great area for fundamental science advancement.

  9. I found the speed comparison to a kitchen blender oddly unfathomable and quite out of place -as I remember, the (ungeared) speed of a fractional-horsepower electric motor, as used in this sort of appliance, is 1500rpm. I have no idea of the rotational speed of the blade/stirrer on any blender as this sort of knowledge is seemingly unavailable. So how fast was the author inferring?

  10. John Whitman (07:39:13) : The study of the phenomena that is called gravity has a challenges. I think it is a great area for fundamental science advancement.
    Read The Field by Lynne McTaggart. How the Zero Point Field postulated by quantum mechanics enfolds gravity… and more… real cutting edge research by top scientists IMO, ostracised by the mainstream, wonder where we’ve heard that one before.

  11. Even if aliens are clever enough to weed out the signal of our TV/Radio broadcasts from the noise of our sun, and even supposing they find Voyager… the reality is we’re just not that interesting. The truth comes from Doug Adams wherein we see that whole alien civilizations and clusters of civilizations have existed for millions of years, and earth was so uninteresting that it didn’t even blip on their radar until it had to be destroyed for a cosmic superhighway.
    This is probably closest to the truth. Do the developed nations go and invade a remote swampland containing a primitive tribe just because they found a primitive smoke signal coming from them, or discovered a runic tablet explaining where they are? No. Sometimes wars spill over into such areas, but space is likely very different than land in how war is fought. The extreme likelihood is if aliens exist and life is plentiful in the universe, then the only aliens among us are researchers who are trying to finish their doctoral thesis and they’re stuck on earth until their advisor says they’re done.
    So, the reality that I find most likely is that the eyes of aliens we’re just a very backwards planet with no significant resouces and noone in space will ever give a d*mn about us until we get our sh*t together and start exploring the cosmos.

  12. @ John Cooke (06:55:52):
    Not necessarily true. Our radio and TV signals weaken and get perturbed over the trip out. Opinions vary widely on how far out advanced technology could detect our signals separate from background noise, but they seem to be between 2 to 50 light years out. Probably on the lower end for most of our signals. Not very far in the overall scheme of things.

  13. This article appears to be explaining the conclusion reached as a result of some puzzling data. Their explanation as to what is going on seems increasingly improbable and bizarre.
    Translating this article to what I think they are saying, in relation to the observations…
    Pulsars emit rapid pulses of radio waves (aka electric signals), and have been observed slowing down. Now we have observed some that speed up! So we have to concoct some explanation for it and this is our best shot.
    In a normal world, finding a pulsar that speeds up should bring the whole spinning-as-fast-as-a-blender-star idea into question and send everyone back to the drawing board. But since this is not the normal world the anomalous data has to be explained away by shoring up the existing theory, with another improbable explanation. Namely, that there exists an improbable mechanism that enables one star to effect another that is already spinning ridiculously fast, such that it will spin even more ridiculously faster.
    Put this same observation into the electric oscillator model of pulsars, and an entirely different conclusion may be reached. Both the slowing down and the speeding up have an obvious explanation if the resistance in the circuit between two capacitative bodies is changing or there are local changes in the electrical environment surrounding and powering the two stars in the oscillator. Changes in the resistivity of the “transmission line” of current in the space between the two capitative bodies would easily explain this phenomenon, and many others.
    So this article is a missed opportunity to apply some falsifying data to one theory and some strengthening data to another.
    The article does provide yet another example of how science by plugging away at only promoting the consensus view doesn’t really work. Why are they so insecure, could they not simply say, we observed this, and it confused the heck out of us, does anyone have any better ideas? To which the answer would be yes.
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/full/1995Ap&SS.227..229H

  14. Oh and if, as they suggest one of the bodies in the binary system, is loosing mass, and hence capacitative size then that too would speed up the oscillations.

  15. Lucy Skywalker (08:28:14) :
    ” Read The Field by Lynne McTaggart. How the Zero Point Field postulated by quantum mechanics enfolds gravity… and more… real cutting edge research by top scientists IMO, ostracised by the mainstream, wonder where we’ve heard that one before. ”
    Lucy,
    I will read your reference. Thanks.
    Gravity study has always been a open question in my mind, it has seemed fundamentally lacking. I am a BS nuclear engineering (got it when the Beatles were still together), worked for a US nuclear OEM for 30 years and now do nuclear power consulting internationally. Physics in general I have some comfort with, just question gravity concepts fundamentally.
    John

  16. @ keith (08:37:56)
    This article isn’t trying to explain pulsars scientifically at all. The text is an attempt at giving a broad laymans explanation of what pulsars do and why we think they do what they do to people trying to understand the technology of determining your 3D Vector in space.
    However, to my understanding, their explanation:
    “A pulsar is the rapidly spinning and highly magnetized core left behind when a massive star explodes. Because only rotation powers their intense gamma-ray, radio and particle emissions, pulsars gradually slow as they age. But the oldest pulsars spin hundreds of times per second — faster than a kitchen blender. These millisecond pulsars have been spun up and rejuvenated by accreting matter from a companion star.”
    …isn’t the best.

  17. snowmaneasy (08:50:46),
    The aliens will have a tough time deciding if they should invade Earth or not, depending on whether they tune in to “I Love Lucy” or “Superman”. But they’d better think twice; in a few more years they’ll see all the hi-tech gear we’ve got on “Get Smart”…
    Alexander (07:53:10), I seem to recall that the pulsar in the Crab Nebula spins at around 1800 rpm, close to b-flat.

  18. Great work!
    NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration are to be congratulated.
    SUGGESTION:
    a.) Change, “A pulsar is the rapidly spinning and highly magnetized core left behind when a massive star explodes.”
    b.) To, “A pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star.”
    WHY? Many scientists and ordinary citizens believe that neutron stars are dead nuclear embers that remain after a star explodes.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.
    In a neutron star, every neutron is highly energized by repulsive interactions between neutrons [“Attraction and repulsion of nucleons: Sources of stellar energy”, Journal of Fusion Energy 19 (2001) 93-98; “Neutron repulsion confirmed as energy source”, Journal of Fusion Energy 20 (2002) 197-201].
    A central neutron star may explain the energy, neutrinos, and Hydrogen pouring from the surface of any “ordinary” star:
    http://www.omatumr.com/Photographs/Suns_core.htm
    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  19. Oliver K. Manuel (09:14:28) :
    WHY? Many scientists and ordinary citizens believe that neutron stars are dead nuclear embers that remain after a star explodes.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    What you said next:
    A central neutron star may explain the energy, neutrinos, and Hydrogen pouring from the surface of any “ordinary” star
    is what is furthest from the truth.

  20. John Whitman (07:39:13) :Yes, because laws, no matter how accurate, are but artifacts which describe reality but they do not necessarily reveal real causes.
    Real causes are needed not beliefs. Empiriscism comes from empireia=practice in greek, laws should be reproducible in the lab otherwise are pure and self indulging imagination.
    empiricism emphasizes those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to evidence, especially as discovered in experiments
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism

  21. A method of reasoning is that of negation and solution by the absurd. If we face a difficult problem to solve, instead of seeking for adjusting reality to a “convenient” mathematical entelechia we could propose the negation of the existence of the phenomenon itself, as a way of finding out its real causes. We then clear up our mind of pre conceptions and start our “pillow thinking”..

  22. BTW We use to think, almost unconciously, that laws are “sacred”, they bear a name of a supposed “saint” who we are to believe in. That is simply prejudice.
    We have been taught to believe and accept and self indulge and to unconciously deceive and be deceived and be comforted by agreement and sociallized “consensus”.
    If we are to find anything new at all we should start from zero, from not knowing before hand and asking ourselves…what if…?
    By irrespecting those “saints” we are suppose to believe in and just ignoring that bunch of laws none ever tested in a lab we’ll be opening new grandiose vistas of the universe we live in, and we must not feel ashamed if what we find anyone can comprehend it because of its natural simplicity.

  23. snowmaneasy (08:50:46) :
    Of course this means that “I Love Lucy” has reached Vega

    Once we have conquered faster-than-light space travel, we may finally be able to get ahead of and recapture the broadcasts of the “lost” Doctor Who episodes.
    Question: Are these quasar signals individually unique enough to identify specific quasars? This may be needed for Galactic GPS to account for Doppler shift variances as we travel around the galaxy, especially if we end up using teleportation and have to figure out where we’ve suddenly appeared.

  24. Silly question, but why use pulsars for gravity wave detection? Why not use the existing EM radiation from distant stars/galaxies instead?
    [twinkle, twinkle – – – – – ?]

  25. Quote: Leif Svalgaard (09:42:56) :
    quotes: Oliver K. Manuel (09:14:28) :
    ‘WHY? Many scientists and ordinary citizens believe that neutron stars are dead nuclear embers that remain after a star explodes.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.’
    “What you said next:
    A central neutron star may explain the energy, neutrinos, and Hydrogen pouring from the surface of any “ordinary” star is what is furthest from the truth.”
    Leif comprehends little or nothing about nuclear rest mass data for the 3,000 types of atoms that comprise the entire visible universe:
    http://www.omatumr.com/Data/2000Data.htm
    His model of the Sun is like an innocent child’s model of an apple:
    “The outside is red, so the inside must be red, too.”
    And he fails to grasp anonymous hints (coincidences) that would lead a child to reconsider his model:
    The solar surface is 91% H (element #1), the lightest of all elements.
    The solar surface is 9% He (element #2), the next lightest element.
    http://www.omatumr.com/images/Fig1.htm
    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or a HS diploma, to see the obvious.
    I believed that fairy tale in 1960, before I started making measurements.
    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA PI foer Apollo
    http://myprofile.cos.com/manuelo09

  26. *******
    John Cooke (06:55:52) :
    Too late. We’ve been transmitting our radio then TV signals into space for over 100 years – so they’re now reaching stars up to 100 light years away. If “they” 🙂 can’t detect and locate the origin of our radio and TV signals then their technology isn’t great! Radio waves travel considerably faster than Voyager.
    *******
    Yeah, but the power of those transmissions is prb’ly too small to be discernable from background radio noise more than a couple light-yrs away from earth.
    This is off my head, but I’d bet.
    *******
    Henry Galt (06:35:58) :
    We have sent the location of our species into the void in the form of a pulsar map etched onto plaques fitted to our spacecraft.
    *******
    Yeah, but the chances of anybody/thing finding such a tiny object in the vastness of interstellar space are negligible. Not that I think advertising ourselves to outside space purposely is a good idea. Read Greg Bear’s sci-fiction The Forge of God and even better Anvil of Stars

  27. Leif Svalgaard (09:36:02) :
    JonesII (06:26:02) :
    For the sake of clarity: Radio signals are electric signals
    No, they are not

    I’m afraid my microwave oven does work this way.

  28. Leif Svalgaard (09:36:02) :
    JonesII (06:26:02) :
    For the sake of clarity: Radio signals are electric signals
    No, they are not.
    Seems like a matter of semantics to me. Radio “signals” are EM waves, aren’t they? EM waves are carriers of electrical energy ( unless the MIT professor mispoke ).
    I am still trying to figure out how a body accreting mass “spins up”, when additional mass, at least in our corner of the universe, seems to “spin” things down? I really don’t think I can read another of those boring astrophysical papers.
    sarc off

  29. Henry Galt (06:35:58) :
    “We have sent the location of our species into the void in the form of a pulsar map etched onto plaques fitted to our spacecraft.”
    A fact I added earlier in the month to the pulsar article on wikipedia – I was surprised it wasn’t already there.

  30. Can we say that radio waves are a frequency on the electromagnetic spectrum just as light, X-rays, infrared, and gamma rays?
    So-called “neutronium” is a theoretical substance that has never been observed in the laboratory and neutrons will not stay together and also isolated neutrons breakdown into a proton and a free electron.
    The assumption that pulsars “spin” is more based on a lack of other hypothesis rather than empirical evidence.
    In reality, “Science doesn’t know” is probably the best answer.

  31. Quote: James F. Evans (14:41:19) :
    “So-called “neutronium” is a theoretical substance that has never been observed in the laboratory and neutrons will not stay together and also isolated neutrons breakdown into a proton and a free electron.”
    Neutron stars are held together by gravity, but energized neutrons (e.g., ~12 MeV) can and do penetrate this gravitational barrier (e.g., ~90MeV) and escape. Solar wind Hydrogen is the decay product of these neutrons from the solar core.
    Just as 4 MeV Helium-4 nuclei (alpha particles) are retained in the nucleus of Uranium-238 but manage to penetrate the Coulomb barrier (~30 MeV) and escape.
    The half-life of U-238 is about 4.5 Gyr (4.5 x 10^9 yr). We do not yet know the half-life of the neutron star at the solar core that produces solar luminosity, solar neutrinos, and solar-wind H in the proportions observed.
    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA PI for Apollo

  32. beng
    V’GER
    🙂
    and
    TheGoodLocust
    Friends don’t let friends……
    but I just went and had a sneaky peek. Seems many writers have had similar ideas.
    I thought about the dumbness of the plaques as, many years ago, I investigated humans whose names are immortalised off-planet.
    e.g. “I am not a crook” and “Operation Kozara”.

  33. I think, with due respect for holy science, neutrons are held together by human stubborness. Self sex “marriages” are not a valid natural couple, like the CERN experiment, it won´t create any black holes or discover the hidden nature of God.

  34. But the oldest pulsars spin hundreds of times per second — faster than a kitchen blender.
    A good graphic of what one of these objects may look like can be found here

  35. I have to agree with Leif, EM maybe caused by electric currents or electric currents cause EM. EM can pass thru insulators and hard vacuum, electric currents can not.
    EM or better EMF (Electro Motive Force) is a general term for all the phenomina.
    Electrical energy and currents are in or on a conductor and the carriers are electrons.

  36. As to the discriptsion of a millisecond pulsar, this defies logic. I think we need a new theory. Sometimes starting over with all the new known data is better then patching up the old theory.

  37. Let’s try that again.
    But the oldest pulsars spin hundreds of times per second — faster than a kitchen blender.

    here

  38. PG: logic and reality are seen as unnecessary constraints by the theoreticians that dream these things up.
    Jeremy:
    I don’t believe in Neutron Stars, because they are such a ridiculous idea. They fail even a basic reality check as PG observes. Then on top of that they involve the invention of a new state of matter which is not directly observable (and they call this science). Basically as an engineer I don’t trust mathematicians that much.
    In the case of pulsars, the same effect can demonstrably be obtained with no moving parts. So why go to all the trouble of inventing neutron stars. What we are observing is analogous to a high energy electrical spike reflecting up and down a power transmission line.
    I think that the electrical theory of pulsars makes certain predictions. In particular all pulsars will be found to consist of a binary system.
    In the meantime the existing theory serves the same valuable purpose as the barriers around a hole in the road. Whenever anyone mentions a neutron star you can steer well clear. Same goes for black holes, imho, fine as an idea for sci-fi movies, but not vaguely realistic.

  39. p.g.sharrow “PG” (22:26:30) :
    “EM or better EMF (Electro Motive Force) is a general term for all the phenomina (sic).”
    EM (or em) is an abbreviation for electromagnetic as in emr (electromagnetic radiation), emi (electromagnetic induction) or emc (electromagnetic compliance). EMF (or emf) electromagnetic force is a different animal, and is certainly not “a general term for all the phenomina (sic)”. Specifically, electromotive force is the difference in electric potential (or less formally ‘Voltage’) and is measured in Volts. (1 Volt = 1 Joule / Coulomb).

  40. Oliver K. Manuel (15:03:47)
    Dr. Manuel’s above comment is partially in response to this quote:
    “So-called “neutronium” is a theoretical substance that has never been observed in the laboratory…”
    The long and short of Dr. Manuel’s comment is this:
    “Yes, it’s true that “neutronium” has never been observed in the laboratory — but that doesn’t matter, my theories depend on its existence, and so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it…”
    That’s not good science Dr. Manuel…with all due respect.

  41. Quote: James F. Evans (07:48:17) :
    “So-called “neutronium” is a theoretical substance that has never been observed in the laboratory…” etc.
    “That’s not good science Dr. Manuel…with all due respect.”
    Sorry, James, but I did not claim the existence of “neutronium”.
    Whether or not you like it,
    a.) Gravity is a nuclear force; the nucleus contains essentially all mass.
    b.) There is a repulsive force between neutrons; therefore no black holes.
    Dynamic competition between long-range attractive gravitational forces and and short range repulsive forces between neutrons powers the Sun and cosmos and fills interstellar space with hydrogen – a neutron decay-product that pours from the Sun’s surface in the solar wind.
    Each year the Sun releases 50,000 billion metric ton of hydrogen in the solar wind.
    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    http://www.omatumr.com/index.html

  42. 1. Astronomers lack the ability to sample most observed objects. Most observed objects are at distances which are large compared to our travel abilities. We cannot go there and come back. We can’t even get inside our own Sun. Except by inference. And mathematical physics.
    2. Information about astronomical objects must, therefore, be inferred. The story of inference is long and detailed; I will give just one example. Until very recently (astrographic satellites), parallax proved a very poor method for determining stellar distance. By careful and tedious means Eddington derived the mass-luminosity relationship. Some stars occur in pairs (double stars). Among the double stars there are a few which orbit one another sufficiently rapidly for detailed orbit computations. Combining the observed luminosity and the orbit characteristics allows the determination of the actual size of the orbit, thus the distance. As I said, this is very tedious.
    3. Recent advances in the detection of electromagnetic radiation from astronomical sources has provided data for which most assumptions are invalid. Pulsars are one type of radiation source. A long series of inferences has been used to rule out possibilities; the remaining (most likely) pulsar source is a rapidly spinning star remnant, which lacks fusible elements and is kept from ultimate collapse by nuclear pressure. By the way, ever watch an ice skater spin? As they pull their arms in towards their bodies, they spin faster. The angular momentum in the infalling gas cannot be lost; instead, that momentum speeds up the star.
    4. If you do not accept neutron stars, come up with another theory which is conisistent with the observed variation in the intensities of successive pulses. There are lots of observations out there. Do your best!
    5. The same observations that I have made about neutron stars apply to black holes. If you do not like the idea (Eddington certainly did not), come up with another theory. The arguments are multi-step, the math is formidable, and the observations (from the Chandra observatory and others) keep piling up.
    6. As for lack of observation: the Fraunhofer absorption spectrum of Iron XIV could not be duplicated in the laboratory for many years. That did not mean the lines were not in the Solar spectrum. They simply could not be accounted for. The arguments were fierce. The same was true for helium. Perhaps the new CERN supercollider will produce neutronium for sufficiently many attoseconds for some analysis to take place. Who knows? That’s why we do experiments.

  43. P.S.
    See any of several works by Stephen Hawking or Roger Penrose for more information about what is currently known about neutron stars, black holes, and stellar evolution. The whole story is far from over.
    As for gravity waves, several LIGO experiments are underway. Longwave Interferometric Gravity Observations, I believe. These are long evacuated tunnels in which standing waves are set up and monitored. In theory a gravity pulse would glitch the standing wave. This is, of course, after Joe Weber’s attempts at the University of Maryland were not successful.
    Who knows? The merging of two orbiting black holes would certainly make a distinctive signature!

  44. Dr. Manuel, if you don’t claim the existence of “neutronium”:
    Dr. Manuel wrote: “…I did not claim the existence of ‘neutronium’.”
    Well, what are your “Neutron stars” made from?
    It is my understanding that so-called “neutron stars” are supposedly made from “neutronium”.
    REPLY: This discussion is OVER, its off topic and stupid, and Dr. Manual please refrain from posting any more link bombs (which has been deleted) to your website on your iron sun theories, you are one post away from banishment. This is why I try to limit the topic, it invariable gets hijacked by the iron sun and electric universe people. – Anthony
    If not, what does the “neutron star” theory assert they are made from?

  45. mathman (08:55:34) wrote: “See any of several works by Stephen Hawking or Roger Penrose for more information about what is currently known about neutron stars, black holes, and stellar evolution.”
    I’m sorry, but Hawking and Penrose’s theories are complete garbage.

  46. James F. Evans (09:23:22) :
    I’m sorry, but Hawking and Penrose’s theories are complete garbage.
    Such a sorry statement really disqualifies you from any serious discussion. They may not be completely correct [if you can point out specific points and argue scientifically about them – e.g. whether information is lost in black holes], but such is real science: an approximation to reality as opposed to the know-all attitude of pseudo-science and fringe nuttiness.

  47. Anthony,
    I don’t see that this discussion is off topic at all. You made a post, it says a load of things that are questionable right from the off.
    This is precisely the type of conversation that scientists should be having, in order to put competing views on the table. Your limit of the topic is censorship.
    I am not an “electric universe person”, however I am angry that for 30 years no one told me that there was any viable alternative. I am now happy to discover the “iron sun” idea thanks to your attempt to censor it, since I had not heard of it before.
    I am interested in the science and I happen to think that the electric ideas make a lot of sense. For example if a cosmic ray or cloud of gas were to move into the space where the pulsar is present, then the conductivity of the region would change and the output of the pulsar would suffer a transient variation in its period. I had never thought of this idea before, since I wasn’t aware of pulsars speeding up before reading this article. I was looking forward to someone explaining to me why this isn’t the case. But now you have banned any other EU people from working this through with me.
    Frankly, on a site dedicated to the non-consensus I am a appalled.

  48. Leif Svalgaard: Black Holes are a conjecture based upon a mathematical result, so building conjecture upon conjecture, within the theoretical space, when we are talking about a physical entity is moving in pretty shaky territory, and theoreticians have got so used to doing this, and calling it hard science, while there is no one to call their bluff.
    So called confirming observations, are not confirming the Back Hole itself, but the conjecture nth removed. Methodologically speaking it is pretty open to the accusation of being a faery tale. This is why Mr Evans can write it off so easily.
    If they published their ideas with a probabilistic evaluation of how likely it is, i.e being honest about the methodological weakness, calling their theories “thought experiments” rather than “science” then they would have more credibility. However they publish with an air of certainty and arrogance because “maths is the highest purest science after all”.
    Have you ever met a graduate engineer with all the theory but absolutely no common sense, who doesn’t know what a left handed hammer is? I think that those of us who can see that theorists can be limited in the common sense department may be forgiven for being sceptical about their claims.

  49. Keith (12:29:29) :
    however I am angry that for 30 years no one told me that there was any viable alternative
    That is precisely the issue. These are not viable alternatives. They are in the ‘not even wrong category’.
    And there are websites dedicated to such fringe ideas. More of them, actually, than there are with real science.

  50. Quote: Leif Svalgaard (14:56:38) :
    “These are not viable alternatives.”
    No, Leif, you are wrong.
    You still know today what I thought I knew in 1960, before making measurements of isotopes and elements in meteorites, the Moon, the Earth’s mantle, the solar wind, Mars, Jupiter, and solar flares.
    “What is” will not change to match your theory, so you may want to reexamine your theory.
    That’s just the way it is,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA PI for Apollo

  51. Leif Svalgaard:
    may I suggest that you find a case study where a theory is proposed, predicts an outcome, and that outcome is subsequently observed, in no uncertain terms.
    Reading such a case gives you a very satisfactory feeling.
    For example Humpreys proposed a model, in advance, of measurements that was able to predict the magnetic fields of uranus and other planets that were subsequently measured. How often does that happen? Wallace Thornhill’s predictions of Deep Impact, and Neptunes hot south pole, also give that satisfying feeling.
    Remember that feeling, and then see if you get it each time you read a NASA press release with it’s on going song in which the chorus goes, “ooh we never expected this or that”.

  52. keith (15:43:24) :
    So according to you “the science is settled.”
    Where have I heard that before?

    you have heard it when you learned that the Earth is round, that mass and energy are equivalent [E=mc^2], that the Sun is 149,597,887.5 km distant on average, that the speed of light [uh-oh, this one might make some people gag] is 299 792 458 m/s, that the Earth is 4.54 billion years [another one to make some people gag], that an adult human has [should have] 32 teeth, that etc. etc.
    Of course, the above assumes that you at least a modicum of education, if not, well, then all bets are off… You tell me.

  53. keith (15:51:02) :
    may I suggest that you find a case study where a theory is proposed, predicts an outcome, and that outcome is subsequently observed, in no uncertain terms.
    Reading such a case gives you a very satisfactory feeling.

    You are correct, that is very satisfying. Back in 1967 I observed some magnetic perturbations in the polar caps of the Earth [I was living in Greenland at the time] and hypothesized that these were related to the polarity of the interplanetary magnetic field. At that time it took several years before the spacecraft data was finally processed into ‘science data’. Based on my theory and data, we predicted what the interplanetary field would be seen to be when the data was finally processed. This paper describes the result: http://www.leif.org/EOS/JA080i025p03685.pdf As you can see the prediction was nicely verified [see the Figures], and, indeed that is a very good feeling.
    Remember that feeling, and then see if you get it each time you read a NASA press release with it’s on going song in which the chorus goes, “ooh we never expected this or that”.
    That song is most often pure PR as they have to justify their funding. Most of the stuff they announce is just confirmation of earlier theories often decades old. Now and then they observe something unexpected and new as is normal when you venture into unexplored territory.

  54. Oliver K. Manuel (15:45:48) :
    “These are not viable alternatives.”
    No, Leif, you are wrong.
    You still know today what I thought I knew in 1960

    I thought we have over that ground often enough that we don’t need to hijack the thread once more.

  55. > “you have heard it when you learned that the Earth is round”
    Observed.
    > That mass and energy are equivalent [E=mc^2]
    I will leave that one, since that is one I have accepted by faith and haven’t yet questioned it much.
    >that the Sun is 149,597,887.5 km distant on average
    Observed.
    > that the speed of light [uh-oh, this one might make some people gag] is 299 792 458 m/s,
    I am not entirely convinced particularly since the nature of light is not very well explained. I am, like many, still waiting for an explanation which gives the “ah of course, its so simple”. I have been told that light behaves like both a wave and a particle, and I accepted it on faith because I was accepting most things that way. Yet there are many properties that remain unexplained such as the behaviour when polarized. The two slit experiment still defies deterministic explanation.
    I do occasionally have random thoughts about the nature of light, for example, what if the speed of light was nearly infinite, but the speed of effect of light on the detector was limited. In this case it would look for all intents and purposes as if the speed of light was fixed, irrespective of relative velocities. I am likely showing my ignorance here with this idea, but there is a principle at stake here. Science makes progress by such “random thoughts”, you try things out to see if they go anywhere. To do this you have to put accepted wisdom on the shelf for a bit even if the hypothesis is a bit off the wall.
    Some have suggested that the speed of light is changing even looking at historical measurements. Currently measurements using atomic clocks, will be constant, because any variation in c will be reciprocated by a change in planks constant.
    We also need an explanation for the mechanism behind red-shifted light from quasars, which do not apparently fit the hubble law.
    > that the Earth is 4.54 billion years [another one to make some people >gag],
    Not observed, I wasn’t there.
    It takes only one observation to challenge a theory. That observation is the fact that C-14 is found in diamonds and coal. Please I would like a convincing explanation for that.
    > that an adult human has [should have] 32 teeth,
    I can count them myself
    > Of course, the above assumes that you at least a modicum of education,
    > if not, well, then all bets are off… You tell me.
    I have some of the required education, a degree in engineering, but I was also taught to think, I can also see where I am being been spoon fed.

  56. Keith (19:11:58) :
    > That mass and energy are equivalent [E=mc^2]
    I will leave that one, since that is one I have accepted by faith and haven’t yet questioned it much.
    Ask people in Hiroshima
    > that the speed of light [uh-oh, this one might make some people gag] is 299 792 458 m/s,
    I am not entirely convinced

    Is observed in many different ways. and is actually used as the Definition of the meter, so the value is exact. The simplest way of observing the speed of light is the phenomenon of aberration. Just like rain seems to hit you harder in the front when you are moving, the position of stars and galaxies shifts because of the Earth’s movement in its orbit. The shift is 20.49552 arc seconds which for an orbital speed of 29783 m/s gives the speed of light as (180*3600 arcsecs)/20.49552*29783 = 299,733,050 m/s. Close enough as an estimate from the simple [inexact] formula given.
    We also need an explanation for the mechanism behind red-shifted light from quasars, which do not apparently fit the hubble law.
    Yes, they do to the extent that we can guess their distances [which is the difficulty here].
    > that the Earth is 4.54 billion years [another one to make some people >gag],
    Not observed, I wasn’t there.

    Nonsense answer, you were not there for any of the other observations.
    It takes only one observation to challenge a theory.
    No. In the vast majority of cases if an observation does not fit a well-established theory [i.e. one that agrees with thousands of observations], then the first place to look is to the quality and interpretation of the observation.
    That observation is the fact that C-14 is found in diamonds and coal. Please I would like a convincing explanation for that.
    Fact? There is no such documented study [provide a link to the relevant papers]. These substances contain small amounts of nitrogen and nearby radioactive processes could produce minute amounts of 14C the same way cosmic rays do it in the atmosphere. But more to the point, I don’t know of any study of this, so provide a link [and not just to a creationist/young-earth site with no further links].
    I can also see where I am being been spoon fed.
    It seems necessary, at times.

  57. gives the speed of light as (180*3600 arcsecs)/20.49552*29783 = 299,733,050 m/s.
    Need a ‘pi’ in there: gives the speed of light as (180*3600/pi arcsecs)/20.49552*29783 = 299,733,050 m/s.

  58. Quote: Keith (19:11:58) :
    1. “> That mass and energy are equivalent [E=mc^2]
    I will leave that one, since that is one I have accepted by faith and haven’t yet questioned it much.”
    2.” > that the Earth is 4.54 billion years [another one to make some people >gag],
    Not observed, I wasn’t there.”
    3. “It takes only one observation to challenge a theory. That observation is the fact that C-14 is found in diamonds and coal. Please I would like a convincing explanation for that.”
    Keith, I respect and admire your willingness to challenge dogma. Here are my responses to the above points:
    1. We routinely observe (delta)E – (delta)mc^2 in nuclear reactions.
    2. Claire Patterson first showed that Earth and iron meteorites formed about 4.55 billion years ago using Pb-Pb dating. This method does not require separate analysis of Pb and U isotopes because U-238 decays to Pb-206 (A = 4N + 2 series) and U-235 decays to Pb-207 (A = 4N + 3 series).
    The method that Clair used assumes that Earth and iron meteorites had the same initial composition of Pb isotopes. The later discovery that the solar system formed out of chemically and isotopically heterogeneous material raised questions about the validity of Clair’s conclusion.
    Subsequent findings that Earth and iron meteorites formed out of the same iron-rich region of the solar nebula lessened the likelihood of a major error.
    3. I did not know that C-14 had been observed in diamonds. That would be a problem to explain, since the half-life of C-14 (~5,000 years) is much less than the age of the diamonds. Can you provide a reference?
    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  59. C-14 is found many places it ‘should not’ be according to its half life, but basing the conclusion on half life alone, you do not get the full picture. There is also the material around the diamond, coal, whatever to consider. And it appears that this is the explanation for C14 where it ‘should not’ be. Not relevant to quasars at all, though.

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