Mysterious radio signals from space are much better test of Einstein’s General Relativity

This illustration shows how two photons, one at a high frequency (nu_h) and another at a low frequency (nu_l), travel in curved space-time from their origin in a distant Fast Radio Burst (FRB) source until reaching the Earth. A lower-limit estimate of the gravitational pull that the photons experience along their way is given by the mass in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. CREDIT Purple Mountain Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences

This illustration shows how two photons, one at a high frequency (nu_h) and another at a low frequency (nu_l), travel in curved space-time from their origin in a distant Fast Radio Burst (FRB) source until reaching the Earth. A lower-limit estimate of the gravitational pull that the photons experience along their way is given by the mass in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
CREDIT Purple Mountain Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences

A new way to test one of the basic principles underlying Einstein’s theory of General Relativity using brief blasts of rare radio signals from space called Fast Radio Bursts is ten times, to one-hundred times better than previous testing methods that used gamma-ray bursts, according to a paper just published in the journal Physical Review Letters. The paper received additional highlighting as an “Editor’s Suggestion” due to “its particular importance, innovation, and broad appeal,” according to the journal’s editors.

The new method is considered to be a significant tribute to Einstein on the 100th anniversary of his first formulation of the Equivalence Principle, which is a key component of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. More broadly, it also is a key component of the concept that the geometry of spacetime is curved by the mass density of individual galaxies, stars, planets, and other objects.

Fast Radio Bursts are super-brief blasts of energy — lasting just a few milliseconds. Until now, only about a dozen Fast Radio Bursts have been detected on Earth. They appear to be caused by mysterious events beyond our Milky Way Galaxy, and possibly even beyond the Local Group of galaxies that includes the Milky Way. The new technique will be important for analyzing the abundance of observations of Fast Radio Bursts that advanced radio-signal observatories, now being planned, are expected to detect.

“With abundant observational information in the future, we can gain a better understanding of the physical nature of Fast Radio Bursts,” said Peter Mészáros, Holder of the Eberly Family Chair in Astronomy and Astrophysics and Professor of Physics at Penn State, the senior author of the research paper. Like all other forms of electromagnetic radiation including visible light, Fast Radio Bursts travel through space as waves of photon particles. The number of wave crests arriving from Fast Radio Bursts per second — their “frequency” — is in the same range as that of radio signals. “When more-powerful detectors provide us with more observations,” Mészáros said, “we also will be able to use Fast Radio Bursts as a probe of their host galaxies, of the space between galaxies, of the cosmic-web structure of the universe, and as a test of fundamental physics.”

The impact of the new method using Fast Radio Bursts is expected to increase significantly as more of the bursts are observed, and if their origin can be established more firmly. “If Fast Radio Bursts are proven to originate outside the Milky Way Galaxy, and if their distances can be measured accurately, they will be a new powerful tool for testing Einstein’s Equivalence Principle and for extending the tested energy range down to radio-band frequencies,” Mészáros said.

Einstein’s Equivalence Principle requires that any two photons of different frequencies, emitted at the same time from the same source and traveling through the same gravitational fields, should arrive at Earth at exactly the same time. “If Einstein’s Equivalence Principle is correct, any time delay that might occur between these two photons should not be due to the gravitational fields they experienced during their travels, but should be due only to other physical effects,” Mészáros said. “By measuring how closely in time the two different-frequency photons arrive, we can test how closely they obey Einstein’s Equivalence Principle.”

More specifically, Mészáros said the test that he and his coauthors developed involves an analysis of how much space curvature the photons experienced due to massive objects along or near their path through space. He said, “Our test of Einstein’s Equivalence Principle using Fast Radio Bursts consists of checking by how much does a parameter — the gamma parameter — differ for the two photons with different frequencies.”

Mészáros said his research team’s analysis of the less-than-a-dozen recently detected Fast Radio Bursts “supersedes by one to two orders of magnitude the previous best limits on the accuracy of the Einstein Equivalence Principle,” which were based on gamma rays and other energies from a 1987 supernova explosion, supernova 1987A. “Our analysis using radio frequencies shows that the Einstein Equivalence Principle is obeyed to one part in a hundred million,” Mészáros said. “This result is a significant tribute to Einstein’s theory, on the hundredth anniversary of its first formulation.”

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211 thoughts on “Mysterious radio signals from space are much better test of Einstein’s General Relativity

    • traveling through the same gravitational fields
      ================
      Galileo dropping two balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa

      [Thought that experiment was actually done with balls rolling down inclined planes. .mod]

      • This is a bit off topic, but it is easier for me to understand than the theory of relativity. I was taught that the Pisa experiment was not accepted as it was open to trickery, the way only way Galileo could disprove Aristotle was through logic. He asked people to imagine two balls, a heavy ball and a light ball. The light ball would fall slower, So if one were to attach the light ball to the heavy ball, the light ball would slow the heavy ball down. But now the combined mass of the balls is greater than the heavy ball so it should fall faster.

    • I thought science is settled that photons are massless particle/waves, thus not affected by gravity, but rather travel in a straight path through the warped space. So how is it the caption reads “…estimate of gravitational pull that the photons experience…”?

      • No.

        Head over to NASA and their pictures from the Hubble telescope. NASA has captured a number of ‘gravitational lenses’ images where strong magnetic fields bend light much as glass or water bend light.

      • The last I read, years ago, was that photons are “massless” at rest, but apparently have mass when not at rest. Actually, photon behavior tends to disprove the theory of relativity, but since it was adopted as the gospel, the tests are all intended to prove it, not disprove it, so anything that tends to disprove the theory is ignored, just like in the theory of AGW and climate science.

        and I say it tends to disprove it because if photons had mass, in order to fly at the speed of light, the mass would have to be virtually infinite, which it isn’t. and you can’t say it isn’t traveling at the speed of light if it is, in fact, light itself. So the moment light was seen to be bent by the Sun by it’s gravity, it disproved the theory, but that wasn’t acceptable, thus photons became massless at rest to keep the theory in good steed; instead of saying, okay, this isn’t quite right they tweaked it to make it right.

        Obviously, there are missing factors, but why look for them if you can accept the equation you have since it does seem to lead very close to the truth. But light proves that faster than light speed is possible, but no one looks to find out what the missing factor is, or where the equation and reality separate. It probably will diverge the same way as climate model output and climate data do.

      • Einstein would (in a terse statement) that gravity from massive objects distort space-time. So the photons travel in curved paths through the distortion. A more cognitive (but equivalent) explanation that led Einstein to the general theory of relativity is to imagine an elevator with a light beam passing through perpendicular to the elevator motion. If the elevator has constant velocity, the light will follow a straight line path. If the elevator is accelerating, obviously the light will be seen to travel in a curved path (as would a massive object) He assumed that you could not tell the difference between the force exerted on you by the elevator floor when being accelerated or in an unaccelerated elevator in a gravitational field, thus the physical results are equivalent in the two situations. With some very complex math to account for motion in the gravity of spherical bodies, like a star, this simple notion can be extended to the universe. Thus photon deflection by a gravitational field is not due to a force, but from taking a minimal path through the field.
        Read a small (mostly) non-mathematical book by Einstein, “Relativity” published in 1915, but readily available nowadays from the web.

    • They are thinking the radio bursts are puffs of magic GREEN energy love vapor, coming from tools used by wise, ancient, GREEN civilizations that utilize the Green House Gas Effect to chill sun-warmed rocks.

      First they warm the rock in sun and when the rock won’t warm any more,

      they then immerse it: Into a light blocking, frigid, refrigerated bath of gas coolants. This of course,

      because it’s GREEN technology, causes the rock to heat up so it’s hotter than it was, when more light was warming the
      light warmed rock,
      and when there was no frigid, turbulent, refrigerated bath.

      Just like the Green House Gas Effect here on earth; very common in physics. That’s why they CALL them – frigid heaterizers and hotteristical refrigeration.

      Well in places where they believe in the Green House Gas Effect they do. Right before they say ”and THAT’S how the frigid, refrigerated bath, made the rock warmer than before there was a frigid, refrigerated bath !”

      Ken
      January 5, 2016 at 9:48 am

      Why is this study being made? I thought the science was settled.

  1. As described, this tests that the speed of light is constant. The equivalence principle says that a gravitational mass is the same as an inertial mass.

    • I may be wrong, but it is my impression that something someplace has to break. If vacuum has vacuum energy, and the amount of vacuum increases as the universe expands, then either the density of vacuum energy must decrease, or energy is creatio ex nihilo which is the equivalent of the creation of mass ex nihilo. Of course, equivalently you could allow the speed of light to vary every so slightly with the age of the universe. I would doubt that one, but it does have interesting consequences.

    • This is nothing to do with testing the speed of light. The equivalence principle extends way beyond the “little bit” you learn in classical physics (inertial=gravitational mass)
      http://relativity.livingreviews.org/open?pubNo=lrr-2006-3&page=articlesu1.html.
      The “test” here relates to the equivalence between mass and energy in a gravitational field. Different energy photons should follow the same trajectories in space-time:
      “any time delay that might occur between these two photons should not be due to the gravitational fields they experienced during their travels, but should be due only to other physical effects,”

      • From a lay person point, a reality check on the statement “different energy photons” makes no sense unless you are saying photons have different masses. You can play in the math all you want and come up with all sort of intriguing things, but the bottom line is if you have photons, they would be equivalent in mass thus likewise energy. If they have different energy, they have to have different masses thus they are not both photons, unless one photon likes fast food stores and the other believes in organics. The only other option is that they are traveling at different velocities, but then there is a problem with the constancy of the speed of light. And this is exactly why I say photon behavior of and by itself disproves Einstein’s theories. They may be close, thus much of the research evolving from them have proven to be exciting and useful, but just as Newtonian Physics ran into a wall that relativity “seems” to fix, there is something that lies beyond relativity as we work closer to a true model of the universe. I have no idea what it is, but since everyone spends all their time trying to prove relativistic theory, it’s obvious no one is trying to find the next level might be. I only know that light disproves the theory, and if there is an ultimate velocity it lies beyond the “speed of light.”

      • Do we still believe then that photons are ejected by energy sources and not merely domino-like sardines packed into the ether at densities relative to the gravitational fields in force locally and just nudging-on the various vibrations coming at them down a multitude of lines??

      • “””””…..
        Tom O

        January 6, 2016 at 7:55 am

        From a lay person point, a reality check on the statement “different energy photons” makes no sense unless you are saying photons have different masses. …..”””””

        There is probably a reason why they don’t hire ” lay persons ” to do expensive science; like Higgs boson hunting for example.

        I found it quite fascinating to get on a Swiss electric train outside my little sister’s apartment in Meyrin to ride into Geneva. Her stop was the first one on the route that starts right outside the headquarters of CERN. So everybody on it damn near, was a Scientist coming from CERN.

        So I asked them what they were doing for an encore, with Higgs in their pocket.

        They just shrugged, and said “we don’t know. Maybe we need to build a bigger one now.”

        They actually were a lot of fun to chat with on the ride downtown. And quite sane people too.

        g

    • In terms laymen can understand, the quivalence principle says a particle at rest in a 1 g G field (gravitational mass) should be not able to distnguih the resulting force from a particle accelerating at 1 g (inertial mass).
      For example if you stand in a closed elevator on earth’s surface at rest and measure the force on your feet, you should not be able to detect any different force if that elevator is in gravity-free space accelerating at 1 g. Both frames are equivalent in both force on the feet and in their effects on time dilation and length contraction relative to an outside observer.

      • This aspect of the EP is not really the crux of what this work is aimed at. Einstein’s equivalence principle, holds that gravitational fields do not differentiate between photons of different frequencies, be they gamma rays, X-rays, visible light, or radio waves. The path of light can be distorted by the presence of a gravitational field, but this distortion will apply equally to high and low frequencies (energies). In laymen terms, this (roughly) equates to saying that gravitational fields do not differentiate between different masses (mass energies) and they will all follow the same space-time trajectories in a gravitational field.

    • “””””…..
      Michael 2

      January 6, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      Light is not massless. Nearly so, but not entirely. Small beads have been levitated on laser beam pointed upward.
      http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=20040028040 …..”””””

      Small beads have been unlevitated downwards by gravity. Ergo, per Michael 2 , Gravity is not massless. Nearly so, but not entirely.

      Those small beads reflect those laser beams, and they are supported by radiation pressure.

      g

      And you can support a single atom on a laser beam; even do it in three dimensions, and use it as an accelerometer.

    • E = mc**2 dudes.

      [Well, technically, it is the Delta Energy = Delta Mass x C^2. Change in mass, change in energy, in a perfect vacuum, with perfect theoretical particles. On a perfect blackboard. .mod]

  2. >> any time delay that might occur between these two photons should not be due to the gravitational fields they experienced during their travels<<
    But if two photons left the same source at the same time and travelled to the same destination (Earth) they would travel thru the exact same gravitational fields, right?

    Now, they referred to "different frequencies" — maybe that's the source of my confusion.

    • I was also somewhat confused by the wording of the release.

      It sounds like what they’re testing is that C is independent of f.

      • They already know that C is independent of f. But suppose the gravitational attraction isn’t the same (in proportion to the “mass” of the photon. The one with the heavier weight/mass will travel a longer, more curved path and arrive later.

    • Well now not so fast pilgrim.

      I think it has been pretty well established that two EM fields of quite different frequencies do in fact travel at different speeds; due to the dispersion of the refractive index of the medium they travel in.

      Refractive index is the ratio of the speed of EM radiation in a medium, and (c) the speed of light in free space (vacuum). And for all known non vacuum materials, the refractive index is a function of frequency. That is a consequence of variations in permittivity and permeability with frequency.

      Even ordinary air has a refractive index that varies with frequency.

      The green flash at sunset, is visual proof that the speed of photons does vary with frequency.

      Sixty years ago, I had to allow for the chromatic dispersion of air in measuring the wavelengths of neon spectrum lines with a Fabry-Perot etalon.

      g

      • George,
        In this case they are both in a vacuum. Now I would accept the argument that vacuum isn’t empty so there has to be some effect over f, but it would be hard to argue for different paths. Unless the whole point is to find the reflections over different paths…………

      • If those radio bursts are travelling trans galactically over such vast distances, they clearly are not in empty space, so the medium must have a refractive index that is greater that 1.0 ; but not by much.

        What about all of that dark matter and dark energy that is out there that we can’t detect except by its gravitational effects ??

        g

    • Einstein established that the energy of a photon depends upon its frequency (E = hf), and that energy and mass are interchangeable (E= mc^2). So from this we have hf=mc^2. Since h and c are constant, we have m = fa, where a is constant h/c^2.

      so it would appear the mass of a photon depends upon its frequency.

      • Fred, mass is not the only term contributing to energy. The complete equation for relativistic energy is E^2 = (mc^2)^2 + p^2c^2, or more clearly if we choose units so that c = 1, E^2 = p^2 + m^2. Photons don’t have a (rest) mass but they do have a momentum. The momentum is related to the frequency via the standard relation p = E/c = h*nu/c = h/lambda. So the momentum, but not the mass, depends on the frequency.

    • The longer wavelength is bent more than the shorter wavelength, hence the two paths are not the same. The longer wavelength, (radio), effectively takes a longer bow shaped path to earth, hence arrives later. The graphic in the article is poorly drawn.

    • Actually, they travel through all possible paths to get to the earth. A few are much more likely than others. Consider the old dual slit diffraction pattern with a source that shoots single particles at the slit.

      • Be careful when you reify mathematics. You may be entering a fantasy world. No photon has the energy to travel every possible path to the target. It is the math that allows the multi-paths.

    • You may wish you had not posted that truism, here, Ken, but I admire your zeal. You care about defeating the pseudo-science propagandists. Because you care about humanity. And that you also care about accuracy/precision is proven by your second, qualifying, post. All is well.
      Here. Let’s lift a mug of root beer *clink* and cry: “Down with envirostalinism – freedom rocks!”

      #(:)

      • I was a believer in AGW until I heard the magic phrase: ” The science is settled”. I knew that even the bedrock science of special and general relativity was and is being tested over and over again, because science is naturally skeptical. It’s skepticism is not based on politics. It is based on proof, with actual data.

      • I beg your pardon, Ken, I wrote poorly. I did not mean to imply that your questioning the unsupported-by-evidence conjecture of the AGWers was politically based. I think I’ll just stop here… . Nice 2nd post of clarification! And true, true.

    • Dawtgtomis

      Do the radio bursts contain coded instructions for intergalactic travel?

      Almost the right question!

      Not: Do these radio bursts contain the correct coded instructions for intergalactic travel?

      But, Are these coded instructions intended to keep the readers of the coded instructions trapped on their home planet around their home star for easier conquest later by the people encoding the instructions?

      (Why should the Belgiums enslaving the Congolese in 1910 tell their slaves how to make germs, guns, gunpowder, and goods? Why should the Arabs enslaving Americans in 1803 tell the Americans how to enter their harbors and shell their cities and cross the deserts between their cities? Why should the Romans attacking Carthage sell their triremes and swords and salt and steel to the Carthagians?)

      Further, if “I” were actually paranoid, instead of merely almost paranoid, I would encode instructions in the instructions to make a signal transmitter to tell me (the original sender) where the encoded instructions were being read, decoded, and being transmitted from by the (trapped and now easily conquerable) people who read them!

      • Whew! I was worried these were some sort of alien weapon targeting system. Like, hey Jim, what’s that laser dot on your forehead mean?

      • From the neck down, ALL star trek women are hot. For in the future there will be no cellulite. ^¿^

      • RACookPE1978 January 5, 2016 at 10:30 am

        I do not think you are being paranoid at all. As we haven’t a single clue what might be out there, good or bad, It makes perfect sense to be listening, but not openly broadcasting.

        For those who think that our signals are already precipitating to deep space. They are not.

  3. “ … ever since Kepler proved that the orbits of the planets are ellipses, relations expressible in quantitative form have carried greater weight than those which could be stated only qualitatively.”

    “Numerous important discoveries have been made
    ‘by investigating the next decimal place’. … “

    F.K. Richtmyer , preface to 1st ed , 1928 , Introduction to Modern Physics , 1942 .

    • Including the fact that the orbits of the planets are NOT ellipses.

      Well except in Kepler’s model of the orbits.

      Ellipses contain no mechanism for precessing.

      g

      • The true orbits can still be thought of as perturbed ellipses, with the perturbation of Mercury’s orbit due to General Relativity and orbits of the other denizens of the solar system perturbed by the other planets. The errors in the orbits from assuming an ellipse is much less than the difference between an ellipse and modeling the orbit as an offset circle.

        Compare this to a 3:1 range for ECS.

      • An ellipse is a completely fictional mathematical shape described by one of many kinds of mathematical equations; Cartesian co-ordinates or polar (vector) equations.

        Real planetary orbits are real not fictional. x^2 + y^2 + z^2 = r^2 cannot explain 8 km high mountains on earth, which is NOT a sphere, or any approximation to a sphere.

        People bandy about terms from mathematics, like ellipse, parabola, exponential, logarithmic, will nilly as if these things are real. They are not; we made them all up in our heads, and not one thing from ANY branch of mathematics actually exists anywhere in the entire universe. It’s an art form, it is not a part of science, which is about reality that we can actually observe.

        g

      • george e smith

        People bandy about terms from mathematics, like ellipse, parabola, exponential, logarithmic, will nilly as if these things are real. They are not; we made them all up in our heads, and not one thing from ANY branch of mathematics actually exists anywhere in the entire universe. It’s an art form, it is not a part of science, which is about reality that we can actually observe.

        I have always wondered how a “real” black hole can increase its mass into ever-larger (more massive black holes) if the “real” masses falling into it from beyond the Schwarzschild radius can’t fall into the black hole because they have to accelerate continuously, but can’t “accelerate to infinity” as they “stretch towards the hole” when they try to cross the radius. Thus, it would appear mass is added, but can’t get to the physical surface of the black hole itself.

        As well, since more recent theory holds that Hawkings radiation can leave a black hole, that there is no reason why a steady-state universe could not be present: Matter falls into black holes, mass/matter/radiation/particles pop out somewhere else.

      • RAcook,

        Time also stops at a singularity so what has always bothered me is that it must take some semi-infinite amount of time for matter falling into a black hole to progress to the singularity. Picture the the state of matter inside of the event horizon based upon time dilation and length contraction and the formation of a singularity becomes dubiuos along with a big bang originating from a singularity as some propose.

    • Gosh, Bob.
      I am glad you brought that small detail up. While all the records being kept of our temperature down to near the first decimal point, they are trying to force the people of the world to keep it in two decimal places. While this paper is just a latest of a string of papers (including Scientific America) it looks like another setup. I keep seeing things in papers that look good but, trying to duplicate a research test of a theory will be tough if there is no data to use. There has been 17 FRB’s detected in the 14 years of searching so far. I can see the lines of scientist getting longer at the steps of Double Dole-out U. All they are waiting for is a new and improved double decimal point radio array just to watch for them another 14 years.
      Those guyes are very predictable…

  4. More evidence of Einstein’s Equivalence Principle is interesting, though not all that exciting. A more interesting property of FRBs is one that cannot be explained by any known natural process.

    From https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22630153.600-is-this-et-mystery-of-strange-radio-bursts-from-space/

    “To calculate how far the bursts have come, astronomers use a concept called the dispersion measure. Each burst covers a range of radio frequencies, as if the whole FM band were playing the same song. But electrons in space scatter and delay the radiation, so that higher frequency waves make it across space faster than lower frequency waves. The more space the signal crosses, the bigger the difference, or dispersion measure, between the arrival time of high and low frequencies – and the further the signal has travelled.

    Michael Hippke of the Institute for Data Analysis in Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany, and John Learned at the University of Hawaii in Manoa found that all 10 bursts’ dispersion measures are multiples of a single number: 187.5 (see chart). This neat line-up, if taken at face value, would imply five sources for the bursts all at regularly spaced distances from Earth, billions of light-years away. A more likely explanation, Hippke and Lerned say, is that the FRBs all come from somewhere much closer to home, from a group of objects within the Milky Way that naturally emit shorter-frequency radio waves after higher-frequency ones, with a delay that is a multiple of 187.5 (arxiv.org/abs/1503.05245).
    They claim there is a 5 in 10,000 probability that the line-up is coincidence. “If the pattern is real,” says Learned, “it is very, very hard to explain.”

    Cosmic objects might, by some natural but unknown process, produce dispersions in regular steps. Small, dense remnant stars called pulsars are known to emit bursts of radio waves, though not in regular arrangements or with as much power as FRBs. But maybe superdense stars are mathematical oddities because of underlying physics we don’t understand.

    It’s also possible that the telescopes are picking up evidence of human technology, like an unmapped spy satellite, masquerading as signals from deep space.”

      • Yes, thanks, George.

        The Conclusion in your link states:

        Failing some observational bias, the suggestive correlation with terrestrial time standards seems to nearly clinch the case for human association of these peculiar phenomena.

        It’s fun to speculate about ET’s. But this appears to be more mundane…

    • ” from a group of objects within the Milky Way that naturally emit shorter-frequency radio waves after higher-frequency ones”

      In the article you referenced this is the kind of indecipherable nonsense written. One, meaning I, cannot make heads or tail of the thing.

    • Thanks for the link to “Is this ET? Mystery of strange radio bursts from space”, G. E. Pease, A most interesting article.
      Finding more FRBs shall give us more information, because there is so little now that almost anything goes. ;-)

  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wow!_signal

    Re: Mysterious radio signals from space.
    I am not a scientist, but I remain nonetheless fascinated by the Wow! signal that was detected back in August of 1977 by an Ohio State University telescope . I fully realize it is very difficult if not impossible for many in science to believe that it came from an alien intelligence given that the signal reportedly came from an area of a constellation in space with no stars or planets and that it was never detected again.

    I would however welcome the opinions of scientists and others here at WUWT regarding the signal. I imagine there are some (perhaps many) out there who still won’t rule out the possibility of the signal being from an alien intelligence given the strength and other characteristics of it although I myself can’t say I agree with them.

    If we know the area in space where it came from, how long would it have taken for the signal to get here? I believe I remember reading somewhere that it would have taken hundreds of years. At any rate, opinions on the subject are welcome. Thanks in advance.

    CD

  6. Another example of “important discovery” made by poor attempt of investigating next after next decimal place and promising that the measurement will uncover fantastic stuff…. when more sensitive detectors will be available. Ha-ha! is that what they call science these days? On the positive side: funding sources will be happy with publication that has “particular importance, innovation, and broad appeal,” according to the journal’s editors; public is entertained; a number of Chinese students will receive their degrees… However, why do I have this nagging feeling that my tax-dollars were spent for bunch of hooey?

    • Walt,

      Perceptive comment. I thought the same, when I read that incredible new discoveries will be made …when a new ‘detector’ is provided.

      Yep: ‘Ha-ha!’ Carp like this is a major waste of taxpayer funds, which are not infinite. Money-grubbing like this is endemic. It was begun by Michael Mann, and now it infests the entire “climate change” hoax.

      Enough! Let these doom-mongers pay for their own false alarms!

    • joe, Walt,
      At least my tax pounds, in the UK, benefit a different sub-group of – variously, unworldly nerds; worldly chancers; Daddy’s ‘little Einsteins’; greedy grant grubbers; and, I hope, one or two who understand the scientific principle [lots have posted Feynman on this on here. go see those].
      Auto

    • tad
      The Grand Grant-Grubbers Grievously Disagree.

      Search Me – one lot say ‘all is settled’ – and others say ‘Funding Firmly Forcible’ – by law.

      Auto – puzzled . . . .

      • Yeah, the science is never settled. No doubt improvements on General Relativity will come along. But if you want to find out what gravity does in our solar system, then Einstein is quite good enough, and Newton was so nearly good enough that most times it wouldn’t matter.
        Bit like climate science really – not settled, but pretty good.

  7. The concept of a Fast Radio Burst is a misnomer, and only points to a flaw in physics. Photons must always travel in free space at the speed of c. The fact that a “photon” is seen as a packet of energy with a varying frequency shows us that an “energy packet” is not a photon. The photon is the object that travels at c, it is not the amount of energy received by a receiver based on Planck’s constant. If anything, the photon must be equal to Planck’s constant times c, and has different dimensions than energy. When the photon is emitted at a frequency, we get light, which would be equal to the photon times frequency and have dimensions M L^3 T^-3. When the light stops traveling because it is absorbed by a receiver, then light divided by velocity gives us the energy. This is not the mainstream view, but it is the way the physics should actually be taught. The mainstream view is missing the unit of the photon (h*c) and the unit of light (phtn*freq).

    • As soon as I figure out how a photon’s frequency varies, I might be able to understand your post.

      g

      • george, a photon has no frequency. Photons are produced at a frequency so as to produce light. Specifically, 5.83 x 10^14 photons per second produce the light we humans perceive as green colored. This is the only way the word “quantum” can be applied to “photon.” There is no such thing as quantum energy because energy is not a structure, it is merely a unit of work. Energy can come in any size, so again, energy is not quantum.

      • Once you two have figured out the quandry of photon shapes, move on to tunneling. That’s the real magic of quantum physics, exploited by the semiconductors running the tablet I’m writing this with.

        Spooky.

    • David, you seem like you would know the answer to a long standing question I’ve had regarding the photon. Is a single photon like a single atom, where it can be divided no further and still be called an atom? Or is it like a single drop of water which can be divided into smaller and smaller singular drops of water? I ask because of an interest in “spooky action at a distance” where the experiment describes dividing a single photon into two and sending them to different detectors. Do you end up with two photons identical to the original, or two “half photons”?

      • We look at electrons and protons and see that they are tiny packages that are either spherical or toroidal. Their size can be measured. A single photon, however, acts over great distances and has not been observed to be a discrete package. This suggests that a single photon has reciprocal geometry to the electron. Think of a kernel of popcorn (discrete package), when heated it pops inside out. Photons appear to be an electron turned inside out. The shape is quite variable and flexible. but it takes on the appearance of a long, curved tube. A tubular photon could connect between great distances and when altered in one location it will affect the entire structure instantly. This could explain spooky action at a distance.

      • dbstealey, if a photon is a quantum structure, then it cannot have an inherent frequency. What is the sound of one hand clapping? When photons are discussed in mainstream theory, they are talking about a fixed amount of energy associated with the movement of an electron from one orbital to another. Energy is not a thing, energy is an action of a thing. When a photon or electron possesses energy, it is because the photon or electron is doing work, not because it is made out of some substance called energy.

      • David Thomson, you wrote that the size of electrons can be measured. But can it be? Electrons exist as probabilities, like photons.

        There’s a probability that an electron or photon can be anywhere else but where they’re likely to be. Electrons can jump thru a Josephson junction, which seems impossible. So aren’t subatomic particles all more or less like photons? (I’m curious, not trying to be a smarty. Fill me in if you can explain it so I can understand the difference.)

        Also: you say a photon has no frequency. Then how can a photon be ‘green’, for instance? It seems that photons must have discrete frequencies. What am I missing?

      • dbstealey, (replying to David Thomson)

        you wrote that the size of electrons can be measured. But can it be? Electrons exist as probabilities, like photons.

        There’s a probability that an electron or photon can be anywhere else but where they’re likely to be. Electrons can jump thru a Josephson junction, which seems impossible. So aren’t subatomic particles all more or less like photons? (I’m curious, not trying to be a smarty. Fill me in if you can explain it so I can understand the difference.)

        I am a visual/graphic/mechanical kind of learner. Try this image of the particles.

        What we call an electron can be visualized as a single continuous wave circling the nucleus .. But not as a planet (a single solid “dot” of something solid) but as a “comet” with a cloud-like probability of its “mass” centered in one region, surrounded by a “tail” behind it and a “nose” ahead of it. A “wave” theory would describe this same as a “probability of occurrence” highest at one region, but with a substantial non-zero probability (an atmosphere or a comet’s “tail”) all along the orbit.

        At the nucleus level, each “particle” is not a solid, nor an individual liquid drop as they thought in the 30’s and 40’s – but as “region” nestled directly against and through nearby “regions” (think of twelve, forty, or 235 solar systems passing through each other only occasionally interacting at the planetary level.)

      • Hoyt,

        As I understand the matter you asked about, No, the “particles” remain whole, and the “beam splitter” simply allows some (generally half) to proceed along path A, and some along path B . . the beam of “particles” is split, not the individual photons, electrons, or whatever.

      • Thanks for the replies gentlemen,

        JohnKnight- the original experiment I remember reading about involved what was described as a “single photon” being split into two and sent along distant pathways to 50% mirrors which offered an even chance that the incoming photon would either pass through the mirror or bounce off of it. It was said that every time a photon bounced off of one mirror, the second particle would pass through the other mirror, proving they were somehow connected. This relates to the above article in that I’m still not sure how it can be determined that the two particles of light were split into exactly similar things at the start.

        db- thanks for the link. I don’t believe in magic, so I’ll lean towards a mechanical explanation when I can find one.

      • Hoyt,

        Yes, experiments are done with single particle releases, but the particle is not split, rather it is afforded two pathways (as in the streams of particles experiments), the freaky thing is that the single particles seem to enter a strange state they call “super-position” . . and behave as though a part of the many particle experiments. They seem to travel down both pathways, until they are (or even could be) observed to be on.have been on one path or the other. At that point the “wave” aspect “collapses” and they act like a single particle on a single path.

        In other words, the particles behave as though they are half of a pair of particles, when it is not knowable which path they took, and that is how the “spooky action at a distance” is implied/generated. The moment detection is made (or not) along the one path, the particle(s) changes it’s apparent behavior on the other pathway, regardless of how far apart they are by that time . This seems to happen instantaneously (been done on miles long pathways) . . violating the speed of light limitations, in a technical sense anyway.

      • PS~ There is a thing called an eigenstate, wherein two particles are coupled in a quantum state, owing to a paired generation, can exhibit similar “action at a distance” behavior. They are not half particles though,

      • There is a rather good animation showing the nature of a quantum object (photon or electron) by simulating the classic two-slit experiment – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmq_FJd1oUQ
        Such an object exhibits the so-called wave-particle duality. Note what happens when INDIVIDUAL and totally independent quanta (e.g. single photons or electrons) pass through the double slit. Their quantum wave functions are altered to carry (probability) information about where they will collapse on the detector screen as individual particles. The accumulation of collapsed quanta (point particles) builds up into a pattern the same as the interference pattern produced by a pair of periodic wave sources at the slits. Highly “spooky”!

    • dbstealey, the electron has a “measured” Bohr radius and a “measured” classical radius. My interpretation of this is that the Bohr radius is the large radius of a toroid and the classical radius is the small radius of a toroid. The surface area of the electron would thus be 2pi(Bohr)*2pi(Classical)=Compton wavelength squared (Cw^2) and would be donut shaped. The thing about toroids is that they are flexible. You can increase the large radius and decrease the small radius to make a large thin tubular structure, or you can shrink the large radius and increase the small radius to make the equivalent of a sphere. As toroids, electrons could be stretched around an atom like a rubber band and still be discrete in size. When free from atoms, electrons could appear as point charges. None of this disagrees with observation and all of it fully agrees with the known and measured physical constants.

      • So David, can you give us a reference to a peer reviewed paper on the radius of the electron; either your “Bohr radius, which you say is measured or the classical radius which you say is also measured.

        My recent Handbook of Physics, has a lot of esoteric stuff listed in its tables, but nary a word on the Bohr radius of an electron.

        I thought the Bohr radius, had something to do with Atoms.

        Well I’m always ready to learn from anyone who knows more about this stuff than I do. And I set the bar pretty low.

        g

      • Dear Mr. Valencia,

        I’ve said it before, but I just must say it again: your persevering sweetness and light are a great blessing to WUWT. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” And I have no doubt that MANY readers here have thought the same, over and over. Thank you for all you do to keep the tone here elevated. It promotes clear thinking! (Seriously — fixing one’s mind on “what is noble, excellent, praiseworthy and true,” etc… makes one’s BRAIN WORK BETTER. A mystery… but, its effects are verifiable.)

        And it just makes the atmosphere of WUWT so much more pleasant to enter.

        Gratefully,

        Janice

      • Oh, Marcus…. (smile).

        When the man for whom I’m wearing a gold band on the fourth finger of my left hand dies, you and I will go on a date.

      • …..Janice, I’m CRUSHED…..I’ve lost all reason to live……..I…….I…..well…… I guess I could just make another silly comment !! That will fix it !! LOL

      • (chuckling)

        Dear Alan Robertson,
        Dear Marcus,

        I DID mention that gold band before on WUWT, forget when, sometime in mid to late 2015, I think. I am not married. He did not ask me to wear that band — I bought it myself. I will wear it, assuming I outlive him, until he is gone (can’t bear to say the word!)… . The ring = my heart is not available. Not that I am working at making it not available, no, it simply is “gone.” My heart is his. Thus, the ring, so no false advertising (I’m not THAT unattractive that I don’t need it!!).

        Okay. I only went on about something like this because I want to be completely above-board. I know what it is like to hope…. then find out…. (BIG SIGH)…… . Oh.

        I am so (and maybe I am just vainly thinking this to be the case, oh, well, still the same happy effect on my battered psyche) grateful to you that you would speak of me this way. What a generous pair you are. I hope very much that you DO find “her” (you are being prayed for, you know! :) ). “She” will consider herself blessed, indeed.

        And hold out for someone really wonderful — just like you

        Your WUWT pal,

        Janice

        P.S. I’m serious about the date, but… he is about my age, so that is likely to be at least 40 years or so from now!

      • P.P.S. Circumstances make it impossible for us to be married or even to see each other, but that could change ….. someday. And that definite, if far off, possibility, makes the wait worth it.

      • 40 YEARS ?…Me thinks this dried up old Irishman will be feeding worms long before that, but, it is always fun to play !! LOL

      • Close , we are parts of God(‘s brain) only with memory loss if you will.
        Or for those who believe in the Big Bang theory.According to the BB religion , everything started as one point. Thus everything is connected , seemingly divided but still one.

  8. Why don’t they just measure when a photon traveling west from Baltimore at 30 petahertz meets a photon traveling east from Chicago at 33 petahertz ?

    [Probably because it hertz to pet a 2000 kg metric photon. .mod]

  9. Why is it that of all the sciences, physics has the most accurate proofs of their theories, is hard-nosed enough to jettison entirely a theoretical framework if there is evidence that it’s not true, requires the utmost in human intellectual capacity to learn and understand, and yet manages to attract the largest number of crackpots willing to stand up and say that these guys are wrong, when the chances that someone not skilled in this field would make any kind of fruitful contribution would have to be calculated out to 26 decimal places. It is quite something.

    • It’s because it is fun^^ We know Einstein was right, but incomplete. We know QM is right, but incomplete, same with all the rest of it. We don’t even have enough of the puzzle pieces to put it all together, or maybe we do. We need that whacko out of the blue crazy idea to put it all together.

      Also the history of physics is crazy ideas that panned out. Satellite based clocks run faster than earth based clocks, the future determines the past, there is no such law as cause and effect (see previous comment), the oceans cool via evaporation not radiation, we live in exciting times.

      • We know Einstein was right, but incomplete. We know QM is right, but incomplete, same with all the rest of it.

        Except for climate science. That’s settled.

      • “Satellite based clocks run faster than earth based clocks…”

        Not all of them. Only those with sufficient height at low enough speed. You have two effects battling one another: the time dilation of velocity, in which inertial frames at higher speed see time slow down, and the time dilation of gravity, in which frames lower in the gravity well see time slow down.

        For circular orbits, the break even point is at about 1/2 Earth radius altitude. Below that altitude, satellite clocks run slower than those on Earth. Above it, they run faster.

    • It is because history of science shows that most of the major advancements were made by the crackpots. This same Einstein was a crackpot from the view of the “establishment” scientists. He couldn’t get position at any “respectable” University until he became famous. To give you another perspective – could have he become famous now? I really doubt it – picture a NSF Program Manager sending funding to a dude who wants to figure out of how would it feel to ride a light beam… That is why these days there is overwhelming dominance of the “establishment” scientists who apply their unhuman smarts to figure out the next decimal in something that a crackpot proposed 100 years ago. And there is no room for the crackpots anymore and that’s why we have this stagnation so eloquently described by Lee Smolin in his books. And that’s why we, the crackpots, allow ourselves to laugh at most of these publications of “particular importance, innovation, and broad appeal”.

      • It’s not a phenomenon unique to physics; it’s just more prominently on display there because of the intended precision of the results.
        Every field of knowledge has its rare innovative genius “crackpots” who actually break new ground, and its legions of accountants, auditors, and embroiderers who spend their entire lives explaining and exploiting the riches the crackpots uncovered.
        The true crackpots don’t ‘need there to be room’ for them and their ideas; they create it.

    • With a slight modification, that is, taking as given what you stated, it is, indeed, disappointing and unexpected that physics of all disciplines provides the world with a significant number of hustlers-for-AGW.

      How can this counter-intuitive result be? It can be because it is not a matter of the intellect, but of the heart.

      AGW, in the population called “scientists,” appeals only to a heart so clogged by greed or hubris that it no longer pumps enough discernment to the brain which begins to think in a shockingly cloudy fashion.

      “His logic did not serve to show him the falsehood of his reasoning, for his heart was in the l1e.”

      George MacDonald, 19th century philosopher and novelist.

      In short: physicists are human beings.

      • Thank YOU, Automobile – mobile!

        Say, how DID that long-sleeve shirt for formal wear fashion tip I gave you work out in Paris (when you went just after the Is!amic terror last auto – o + mn?)

        #(:))

      • “Better than the snuggl{y {he wore the last time he was there}???” Aaaaa. ;)

        I should think SO!

        [The mods are confused. Is a snuggl{y a squiggly snuggily? A squished snugglily? A squashed snuggled lily? .mod]

      • Oh Oh Janice, now you’ve confused the Mods…. ( see, I’m not the only old fart that doesn’t know what the #%$^ a Snuggly is ) Where is Aphan when you need her ? !! LOL

      • O Wise and Witty Mod – DO heed Marcus’ sage advice (at 3:47pm). That horrid ad appeared for DAYS in the WUWT “ads from your personal web history” box. Ugh. Who in the WORLD is buying those things???? All I can think of (once again) is: “make a good body bag.”

    • It is just me or you just wrote a 6 line question and forgot to add the question mark? Such long sentences are difficult to read.

      Regarding your comment, xkcd posted a cartoon that seems to disagree with your comment,

      (I hope it is properly embedded) I particularly like the last sentence about transporting neutrinos faster than light, but only on certain days through one area of France.

      • “transporting neutrinos faster than light, but only on certain days through one area of France.”

        I thought that only worked once they cross the Italian border.

  10. physics has the most accurate proofs of their theories
    ======================
    Because in physics a failed prediction means your theory is wrong. In climate science a failed prediction means your data is wrong.

    • Plus many. And, what climate scientists then do is change their wrong data to fit their believed right theory, not vice versa. Karl, 2015, NOAA. And, never ever discuss data that cannot be changed and doesn’t fit, like sat temp measurements of the pause Karl erased.

    • There are current “mavericks” who don’t seem to me to see physics as all that different from climate science, in terms of real “skepticism” ruling the roost, so to speak. This guy might just be on the verge of utterly decimating many long held assumptions about the universe we find ourselves in, it seems to me anyway.

      • A while ago I accidentally stumbled in to the world of the Flat Earth Society these nuts think they are mavericks when in fact they are totally nuts. They think a curved Earth is a theory. I have to come back to WUWT to regain sanity.

      • tomwtrevor,

        If I were trying to keep educated/intelligent people from seriously considering the possibility that Big Sciants was lying to them about things like global warming, I’d fund some things like the Flat Earth Society, so they would be hesitant to wander off the reservation, so to speak.

  11. One of the great remaining mysteries of science is the propagation speed of Gravity.

    Do we feel the gravitational pull of the sun where it is now, or where it was 8.5 minutes ago? Or some number in between?

      • G.E. Pease,

        Thanks for that interesting link. And it was written in 1998, and referenced in 1973! Why wasn’t I aware that gravity propagates FTL?? Answer me that! Here I thought I knew everything.

        Really, if true that would answer a few questions that have been bouncing around in my head for several decades:

        It still doesn’t answer why photons, which have some energy and thus mass, can still travel in a vacuum travel at the speed of light. If they’re really going that fast, then their mass must be infinite. What am I missing?

        And it doesn’t answer why when I look in a mirror, my right and left arms are reversed, but my head and feet aren’t…

        And what about the endochronic properties of resublimated thiotimoline?

      • Thanks for that interesting link. And it was written in 1998, and referenced in 1973! Why wasn’t I aware that gravity propagates FTL?? Answer me that! Here I thought I knew everything.
        Really, if true that would answer a few questions that have been bouncing around in my head for several years.

        I think it’s not FTL again.

        And it doesn’t answer why when I look in a mirror, my right and left arms are reversed, but my head and feet aren’t…

        Your eye’s are side by side, not one over top of the other.

      • db,

        When a photon “stops moving” it has no mass. It is the modification to the rest mass that gives the infinite term in the theory. The photon “mass” most people refer to is its momentum, which is a similar but different critter related to the energy of the particle.

        This is different than say an electron which has a distinct mass that must be accounted for as that velocity approaches the speed of light. When you apply a magnetic field to a fast-moving electron to bend it down a track, you better know how fast it is going or you will lose it.

      • Owen in GA,

        Thanks. There are a couple of other explanations upthread that I’d missed, too. I was neglecting momentum.

        micro6500, thanx for that explanation, too. And maybe this might help:

      • miceo6500: so you think if you close one eye when looking in a mirror the image will not be reversed?

      • dbstealey : “It still doesn’t answer why photons, which have some energy and thus mass, can still travel in a vacuum travel at the speed of light. If they’re really going that fast, then their mass must be infinite. What am I missing?”

        Photons have zero invariant (rest) mass so it is impossible for a photon to travel at any speed other than the speed of light (in vacuum). The “mass” you first refer to is this zero-momentum energy (divided by c²). The second time you refer to “mass” is the (total) relativistic definition of mass – it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate a non-zero invariant mass up to the speed of light. The Large Hadron Collider provides a good example of this: “The protons will each have an energy of 7 TeV, giving a total collision energy of 14 TeV. At this energy the protons have a Lorentz factor of about 7,460 and move at about 0.999999991 c, or about 2.7 metres per second (6 mph) slower than the speed of light (c).”

        Close… but still no cigar.

    • Let’s call Einstein’s General Relativity equation “mathematically difficult” – it is a little more difficult to come with a solution for a particular situation than to solve a quadratic equation. Fifty years ago we knew that gravitational waves existed, but we were not sure if they carried energy. A 1993 Nobel prize was awarded to people who measured a slowing down of a binary pulsar and showed that it was consistent with an energy loss by gravitational waves.

      To answer your question, we see the Sun where it was 8.5 minutes ago, and we feel its pull where it was 8.5 minutes ago.

    • ferd
      Have you met Pratchett’s kingons?

      I offer: –

      “The only thing known to go faster than ordinary light is monarchy, according to the philosopher Ly Tin Wheedle. He reasoned like this: you can’t have more than one king, and tradition demands that there is no gap between kings, so when a king dies the succession must therefore pass to the heir instantaneously. Presumably, he said, there must be some elementary particles — kingons, or possibly queons — that do this job, but of course succession sometimes fails if, in mid-flight, they strike an anti-particle, or republicon. His ambitious plans to use his discovery to send messages, involving the careful torturing of a small king in order to modulate the signal, were never fully expanded because, at that point, the bar closed.”

      From
      http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/66881-the-only-thing-known-to-go-faster-than-ordinary-light

      The late Terry was a wonderful writer – but it is possible that he has – again – strayed into fantasy . . . .

      Auto

  12. This violates every principle of the post-normal scientific method. Theories should be validated with computer models, not experiments. I declare this effort “anti-science”.

  13. An interesting thread. Not for the announcement, but for all the comments which made for some interesting reading.

    As for the importance, heh, they added a decimal place to measurement accuracy. That’s not a breakthrough deserving of “Editor’s Suggestion” due to “its particular importance, innovation, and broad appeal,” according to the journal’s editors.

    E=MC2 was a breakthrough.

    Wake me up when someone figures out how to build a warp drive. That’s a breakthrough.

  14. I saw recently on TV that tests using very accurate atomic clocks showed one slowed down when moved for a few days to a higher elevation and then returned and was compared to one that remained at the original location. I was surprised to learn that, as expected according to theory, that times slows down under higher gravitational fields. But how then does the speed of light remain a constant as it travels through space and encounters various gravitational field strengths?

    • RP,

      …how then does the speed of light remain a constant as it travels through space and encounters various gravitational field strengths?

      I suspect it’s because the photon is in its own reference frame, so it always thinks it’s going at c. Same thing when it goes through water; it’s speed slows by about a quarter, but that’s only what an outside observer sees. The photon still thinks it’s moving at c (and from its own POV, it is).

      Really, photons probably think they’re traveling infinitely fast. Time dilation would cause them to subjectively leave and arrive at the same time, even if they’re crossing half the visible universe. Or something…

    • Richard Petschauer : But how then does the speed of light remain a constant as it travels through space and encounters various gravitational field strengths?

      Light must always travel at c in empty space. General relativity describes gravity as a warping of space-time, so light (or anything else) will travel along a geodesic path rather than a straight line in the locally distorted space of a gravitational field, thereby changing direction e.g. gravitational lensing, but always travelling at light speed. It has zero invariant mass, so can’t accelerate or slow down.

      • Also, one needs to remember that gravity is not a force in relativity but a curvature of space/time and the photon is traveling in a straight line through curved space.

      • Jim G1 : “Also, one needs to remember that gravity is not a force in relativity but a curvature of space/time and the photon is traveling in a straight line through curved space.”

        I think you need to be a bit careful here. A geodesic is as close as you can get to a straight line in curved space, but it’s never a straight line. In an overall curved 3D space, you could head towards a source by following a light beam travelling along a geodesic from that source, and would never know you weren’t going in a straight line. (Somebody in a 4th spatial dimension would see it quite clearly though). But here we are considering local gravitational fields, so a distant observer would definitely see the curved nature of trajectories – either photons through gravitational lensing etc. or “free-falling” spaceships, which would fall along curved paths and become deflected or trapped into orbits.

    • Gravity doesn’t slow it, it bends it. So, when the path gets bent, the photons that reach you had to take a longer path than those that otherwise would have reached you would have, which results in an apparent delay.

  15. Another area of science that has been hamstrung by unphysical concepts for decades. “Geometry of Spacetime”. Try and visualise the above drawing in three dimensions rather than the two it is shown in and this should be all that is needed to falsify the concept. Sadly too many academics confuse “preposterous” with “profound”.

  16. I just had Al Gore and Dana N on the ‘phone. They want me to ask you all to stop discussing real science. They’re starting to feel left out.

  17. dbstealy, January 5, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    “And it doesn’t answer why when I look in a mirror, my right and left arms are reversed, but my head and feet aren’t…”

    I once tried to solve this mystery looking into the mirror by standing on my head, but darn… this time my arms weren’t reversed…

    • I have a better answer to this one.
      An excerpt from my (unpublished) novel, The Catalyst of Moonlight:

      “Gentlemen,” I said, “I will prove to you that the riddle itself is wrong: A mirror does reverse up and down, and doesn’t reverse right and left.
      “If you place a mirror on the floor and stand on it, you will see your head beneath your feet. Ditto for the ceiling. This proves the first part of my assertion. Now, as for right and left, if I hold up my left hand before a mirror, my mirror image also holds up his left hand.”
      “Nonsense, Orez!” the professor said. “He holds up his right hand.”
      “Does he, Professor? Let’s look at it more closely. How do I and my mirror-image establish what is left and what is right? I will hold up my left hand and say to him, ‘This is my left hand,’ and at the same time he will be holding up the hand opposite mine in the mirror and be saying, ‘This is my left hand.’ There is no possible ambiguity–we both agree that the hand we hold up is our left hand, correct?”
      “But Orez, what we mean when we say, ‘This is my left hand,’ is, ‘If you turn around and face the way I am facing, so front and back are reversed, then the hand you raise that is on the same side of your body as the hand I raise when I say ‘This is my left hand’ is your left hand.”
      Celia giggled, then stopped abruptly as the Professor looked sternly at her.
      “Why are you getting so complicated, Professor?” I replied. “Now you’ve said that in order to keep left and right straight, we have to reverse front and back. But that’s exactly what a mirror does! It reverses front and back! Not left and right! Look–if you wanted to see yourself as you actually are, pretend you’re three feet in back of your head. What would you see? The back of your head, of course. Your mirror-image preserves left and right but switches back and front: if you are facing north, your mirror-image faces south! The whole riddle is bogus, like everything Dodgson’s propounded!”

      • If my memory serves me right, this phenomenon once was a topic in the “Mathematical Games” section of Scientific American by Martin Gardner.

        The fascinating dimension of this mirror phenomenon is, it is a perfect illustration of our blind spots when looking and studying the world around us. What we see and perceive is deeply influenced by our perspective and behavior we normally aren’t aware of as they are just plain routine, apparently self-evidence or fixed in belief.

        Bogus or not, the simple answer eluded most of the solutions that were send to Martin (in those days it went by paper mail – somewhere in my archive I have an answer from Martin to a letter of mine, signed by Martin himself – great man).

        Another more simple clue would be to look at a book in the mirror, with the book not turned around a vertical axis, as we would do by habit, but turned around a horizontal axis.

        But then, maybe some mysteries should stay mysteries…

      • No Ronald; you have it all wrong.

        What you call your “left” hand is by convention in reference to a co-ordinate frame, in which the direction YOU are facing is defined as the POSITIVE Z direction. Upwards would be POSITIVE Y direction, and to your right is the POSITIVE X direction.

        Light that comes from YOU and heads in the positive Z direction will hit the mirror, and reverse ( IN Z). The chap in the mirror sees the light that appears to be leaving him, is travelling in your NEGATIVE Z direction, but in his conventional co-ordinate frame, that light is still travelling in HIS POSITIVE Z direction; the direction the HE is facing.

        And referred to HIS co-ordinate frame, the hand you are holding up is on HIS RIGHT in HIS co-ordinate frame of reference, because that is HIS POSITIVE X direction.

        You have to be consistent with your reference frames.

        Take for example, the situation for a fly caster who is going to cast a fly line forward, which is his positive Z direction. So he is going to impart a positive linear momentum to the fly line, and the fly that it carries with it.

        To do that, he brings his rod from a direction pointing backward over his head, in an upward arc, going up over his head, and then down in front of him So the fly line and rod tip, will also have an angular momentum, that is in a right handed clockwise direction, which by convention is the positive angular direction.

        So that generally upward arcing line trajectory combines a positive linear momentum, with a positive angular momentum, and looks something like the tracks on a Tank, that is moving forward.

        Now initially, the fly caster flipped the rod backward over his head along with the line, so he imparted a negative linear momentum to it. But the upward curving arc of the rod and line is now counterclockwise in the right hand screw frame, so it to is negative.

        So you have both linear and angular momentum either positive or both of them are negative.

        If you do it correctly the fly line will roll out in front of your like the tank track falling off the front of the tank.

        If you mess up, and you let the rod tip bounce upward at the end of the cast, that will impart a negative angular momentum to that portion of the line at thast time in the cast, whereas the first part of the cast had ++ linear and angular momenta, and now you have +- linear and angular.

        Those initially imparted momenta must be conserved once the casting stroke is finished so as the fly line unrolls in front of you, eventually the counterclockwise negative angular momentum, gets overtaken by the earlier launched positive angular momentum, and the fly line will tie itself into a knot right in front of your eyes, and it will all crash on the water in a mess.

        It’s called a tailing loop, and it was all caused by that rod tip bounce, that resulted from your poor casting technique.

        So you always have to keep your co-ordinate frames straight or you will create a mess somehow.

        And your mess was to think your mirror buddy has the same frame of reference that you do.

        He doesn’t.

        g

    • Jurgen, as you mention in your later comment, if I understand it correctly, the correct answer has to do with our unstated assumption that the mirror is vertical.

      I remember Martin Gardner’s column well. I used to have a book of his puzzles.

      • Mu!

        The mirror doesn’t reverse anything. Your right hand is reflected on the right, your left on the left, top on top, etc. It is your expectation or a rotation that is wrong.

      • George E. Smith and E. M. Smith:

        I agree with what you both say, and see no conflict with my explanation. The mirror doesn’t reverse right and left, it only appears to when we try to imagine ourselves as the man in the mirror, and also appears to reverse up and down if we put the mirror on the floor or ceiling.

        The original riddle, which is earlier in my book, was “Why does a mirror reverse right and left but not up and down?” Perhaps I should have included that in my first comment.

  18. Paragraph six seems to be saying that if the results don’t fit the theory something else must be messing with the results. Hmm.

  19. So they are saying that as the signal passes through the plasma and dust surrounding galaxies and stars, there won’t be a refraction or diffraction effect that will cause different frequencies to travel at different speeds?… I’m not so sure of that. We’ve already had papers describing this refraction effect for light passing through the edges of galaxies… I’m pretty sure gamma ray refract/diffract too.

  20. For those interested, some efforts to bridge the gap between GR and quantum theory hypothesize differences in how different wavelengths of light are influenced by gravity:

    http://www.lightandmatter.com/html_books/genrel/ch02/ch02.html#Section2.4

    2.4.1 Dispersion of the vacuum

    Some candidate quantum-mechanical theories of gravity, such as loop quantum gravity, predict a granular structure for spacetime at the Planck scale, √ℏG/c3=10e−35 m, which one could imagine might lead to deviations from v=1 that would become more and more significant for photons with wavelengths getting closer and closer to that scale. Lorentz-invariance would then be an approximation valid only at large scales. It turns out that the state of the art in loop quantum gravity is not yet sufficient to say whether or not such an effect should exist.

    • Discreet quantum packets of space time, with nothing in between. True nothing, ie granular space time. Fun to think about. It may also resolve some of the issues regarding black holes where space time is assumed to be crushed out of existence, by some, due to infinite gravity at the supposed singularity, which I am still trying to understand how it could form since time stops there. It should take forever for it to form.

  21. This is why Einstein is one of the couple of dozen scientists names we all know. None of the science ‘lites’ of the post normal period we are going through is going to make the cut.

  22. These sub-threads can be confusing, so this is a new one replying to several others in various places upthread…

    A very knowledgeably guy (who co-invented LED’s, IIRC) sent me the following points (paraphrased a little):

    • Photons do have discrete frequencies.

    • Photons and electrons aren’t remotely similar. Electrons are zero-sized point charges, and their electric field drops off with the inverse square law. So an electron needs to get relatively close to an atom for its field to interact by being captured and causing a reaction. There is a sort of target radius (cross-section), and if the electron gets inside that target, the reaction will occur; otherwise not. It’s like shooting at targets. The cross section is measured in ‘barns’ (10^-24 cm^2). ‘Barns’ comes from hitting the side of barn, because one barn is a quite large cross-section as nuclear reactions go; nanobarns or picobarns are more typical sizes.

    • Nobody ever talks about how close a photon has to come to anything to react, as in ‘get captured’, for example. But as surely as a wave will hit the beach, the photon will hit the CO2 molecule and get captured, so the photon’s extent must be quite large; maybe meters, as laser beams can interfere over path lengths of several meters.

    • CO2 molecules at 400 ppm are one in 2500 air molecules. The cube root of 2500 is 13.572, so CO2 molecules are about 13 to 14 molecular layers apart from each other at earth’s sea level. They don’t have any idea that they are not alone; they can’t gang up on the EM wave, or photon. So a single CO2 molecule will grab the photon if the photon passes within meters of the molecule; any CO2 molecule.

    Barns! I learned something new! (Actually, some other stuff, too: this helps explain why a little CO2 is enough to saturate certain frequencies).

    Finally, no one ever answered about the endochronic properties of resublimated thiotimoline…

  23. An interesting alternative point of view is also possible. Logically the same as the currently accepted view

    The current viewpoint is in what I call an X space.

    Plus infinity to minus infinity in all directions.

    How about a 1/x space instead as a viewpoint.

    In that case the 1/(c2 v2) term in the conventional view on the RHS becomes instead (c2 v2) on the LHS
    That term now lies with Maxwell’s equations rather than Newton’s which does seem more logical

    Still the same mathematical outcome though.
    Indistinuishable from the cuurrent view by maths or experiment.

    A very very different viewpoint That is still logically the same space.
    There appears at fist glance no way to prove or disporove this state of affairs.

    https://climatedatablog.wordpress.com/2016/01/03/the-duality-of-0-%e2%88%9e/

  24. I’m gonna go with occam’s razor.
    You’re all complicating the matter.
    So I’m right.
    Every time.

  25. Dear Lord, the level of Physics understanding in this discussion is (mostly) so low I am now doubting everything I previously read on WUWT. Last thing I needed.

    • lucaturin,

      Examples, please. Or is everyone else stupid?

      Assertions like yours get a low credibility rating here. If you disagree with a particular comment, you get to dispute it if you want to. But if all you do is complain about how “low” everyone else’s underastanding is, how do we know it’s not your own understanding that’s deficient?

      • I like this one: “Photons are produced at a frequency so as to produce light. Specifically, 5.83 x 10^14 photons per second produce the light we humans perceive as green colored.”

      • I like this one: “Photons are produced at a frequency so as to produce light.

        Photon’s have a length (and a shape), antenna’s and lens are designed based on the length, Frequency is time divided by the length of the EM field making up a photon, and I think all photons come from moving “charge”, just as all moving “charge” radiates EM fields, moving an EM fields moves particles with “charge”.

        Also photon’s are the force mediator of “charge”, they are why your hand does not pass through a wall.
        Almost all human interactions with the physical Universe are based on photon’s interacting with charge, all except those few that are based on the weak force (smoke detectors, radon production from natural uranium) and the less frequent strong force(fission reactors, Sun).

      • A few low-credibility gems from your own maunderings:

        “And I think the photon would effectively be two half photons; actually, they would each be a whole photon at a lower frequency.”

        “you wrote that the size of electrons can be measured. But can it be? Electrons exist as probabilities, like photons.”

        ” If they’re really going that fast, then their mass must be infinite. What am I missing?”

        “Really, photons probably think they’re traveling infinitely fast. […]. Or something…

      • “Specifically, 5.83 x 10^14 photons per second produce the light we humans perceive as green colored.” And if our eye only catches half of them, then we see red.

      • lucaturin,

        My comments are not refuted just because you don’t agree. I gave examples; you gave your opinion. For example, I wrote that a photon would effectively be two half photons, I did not say it was two half photons. I suppose I wasn’t as clear as I could have been. But I added that each would be a whole photon. You conveniently left that part out.

        Next, electrons are subject to the same quantum effects in a double slit experiment as photons. You didn’t know that? The experiment is much more recent, and more difficult. But in fact, even atoms obey the same rules.

        Next, I neglected momentum in my question of why photons have energy, and thus mass, which explains why they don’t possess infinite mass even going @ c.

        Finally, my comment on time dilation seems to have flown right over your head at FTL speed. Refute it if you can. But just asserting that it’s “low credibility” without any supporting evidence indicates that you’re the one with no credibility. I admit it when I’m wrong, or if I don’t know something. That’s the difference between us.

        So hey, how about that dangerous man-made global warming? Your opinion would fit in perfectly. Betcha think it’s a big problem, huh?

    • ” How wide is a photon and how do we know”
      It’s a property of em field as it leaves the emitter at the speed of light and how quickly the polarity of the field as it changes.

      • Depends on the emitter. In the case of a vertical, it propagates the 360 degrees horizontally. Dipole have lobes, phased arrays have lobes that sweep with no moving parts. Some dipoles spiro around each other and whatever shape that is.

      • SO that must be true for all wavelengths then? How did we measure the width? Or its is just derived from the length? And are you suggesting that polarised light involves some thing rotating. In which plane? It would have top be some sort or rod shape to get the outcomes observed.

      • ” SO that must be true for all wavelengths then? How did we measure the width? Or its is just derived from the length? And are you suggesting that polarised light involves some thing rotating. In which plane? It would have top be some sort or rod shape to get the outcomes observed.”
        I’m not sure if I understand both your question or its answer.
        If you have a vertical antenna and apply an electronic signal of the proper frequency it will create a standing wave of electrons and emit radio waves (photons) is a 360 direction. Like a bobber on a smooth lake bobbing up and down making ripples in all directions. A cloud of ionized gas, as the electrons jump to a higher level, when it falls back down, it emits a photon, in this case the antennas and randomly oriented, same as a piece of hot glowing metal, the electrons are vibrating in all directions. The radio signal is well polarized, where the other two are not, polarizers then act like a picket fence allow only one direction, one polarity of photon through.
        Though QM allows that one polarity of photon to really be made of opposite polarity mixing together with the combination passing through the polarizer.
        One of the human scale QM effects, take two polarizers, cross them at 90 degrees blocking light through them, but if you slip a 3rd polarizer at 45 degrees between the 2 at 90 degrees, I think about 25 percent of the light will pass through the 3 layers, because part of the light that will pass through both the front and the back can be the sum of 2 polarities, and a fraction of each align to the middle polarizer, and passes through the what was the 2 outer blocked sheets.

    • It’s not sensible to speak about the dimensions of a quantum object as if it’s some sort of body or particle. It can only be represented quantum mechanically as a probability distribution (wave function) which evolves in space and time. This is true of photons and electrons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xmq_FJd1oUQ is the best animation I’ve seen to help visualize the unvisualizable. After years of working in this murky world, you come to appreciate the sentiments of Niels Bohr:

      “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”

      and Richard Feynman:

      “I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”

      • Yes I know. But the facts are that something of a measurable size move from one place to the other. I don’t like ‘magic blue smoke’ form the movement in between

      • RichardLH :
        “Yes I know. But the facts are that something of a measurable size move from one place to the other. I don’t like ‘magic blue smoke’ form the movement in between”

        Quantum field theory provides the ‘magic blue smoke’. If you can imagine a well-defined (“measurable size” – according to some criterion) ripple in a field moving from one place to another …

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