Friday, December 30, 2011

"The End of the World as we Know It" with Stuart Robbins

Stuart Robbins, who operates the PseudoAstronomy blog and podcast was recently interviewed on the Point of Inquiry Podcast.

Stuart covers a broader range of topics than I, including things such as the Moon Landing Hoax, astrology and more recently the 2012 silliness.  I've followed a lot of Stuart's work, especially where it overlaps with my focus.

I've used one of the nuclear physics web tools developed by Stuart in examining some nucleosynthesis claims made by Barry Setterfield.

Stuart and I have possibly crossed paths a number of times, perhaps at the Washington AAS meetings, but I don't think we've actually met as yet.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Doin' Real Science: Simulating Particles

Many times on this blog, I challenge the purveyors of various pseudo-sciences to demonstrate their claims to the same standards that mainstream scientists must meet.  One of these criteria is that real science must make testable predictions.  In the physical sciences, this usually means numerical predictions which can be compared to actual measurements, whether in situ or observations.  When they're not evading the question completely, pseudo-scientists and their supporters construct all manner of excuses why they should be exempt from these standards.

To make the numerical predictions, modern scientists usually rely on computers to do the repeated mathematical calculations (sometimes called 'number crunching') that these types of predictions require.  Once the programs are written, the computer can perform them tirelessly.

One tool in many researchers toolbox is some type of particle simulation, used to study interactions and motions of many particles.  Codes written for an arbitrary number of particles, N, are usually called N-body codes.

I first wrote my own N-body code in 1979 in AppleSoft BASIC on an Apple II computer (wikipedia), in my early college years (the FIRST time I tried to complete my degree).  Back then, computational libraries for solving differential equations existed only for large scientific systems.  On smaller computers, you had to write your own, but plenty of documentation of the techniques was available.  One of the most popular techniques for solving these types of differential equations are the Runge-Kutta integrators (wikipedia).

Today, computer hardware is readily available, as are numerical processing libraries.  Numerical N-body solvers are simple enough that a competent programmer in high school could write their own. 

So for this project, I've updated my N-body code.  I've written the new version in Python (v2.7) and using the Python numerical libraries: numpy, scipy, matplotlib, and others (for more info on the installation).  I've also written an interface to generate rendered output using the POVray rendering package.

N-body Test Runs

In testing these types of codes, we usually perform runs on simple configurations where the solution is available in a known form.  Here's the results from a 2-body gravitational run, the Kepler Problem (wikipedia).  The program allows me to generate tables of particle positions once, after which I can read these tables and construct different types of plots.  Here I plot the results of the run in reference frame in which the velocities and positions are originally defined.

For a full-quality version of the movie, download here (8MB).

Note that for the two objects, there is a point that lies on a line between the two particles that represents the center-of-mass (wikipedia), or barycenter, of the two particles.  In this configuration, the center-of-mass moves in a straight line and at a uniform speed.  This is a property of the center-of-mass that can be mathematically proven for a system of particles interacting by a central force (where the force acts along the line between the particles).

Now let's define some of our mathematical terms:

x(A),y(A), z(A) = x, y, z coordinates of object A in the original coordinate system

x(CM), y(CM), z(CM) = x, y, z coordinates of center-of-mass in original coordinate system

Next we can plot the exact same data points, but this time we re-compute their positions in a reference frame where the center-of-mass is not moving.  We do this by computing the center-of-mass of the two particles at each time step (x(CM), y(CM), z(CM)) of the simulation, and then compute the position of the particles relative to that center-of-mass:

x(A,CM), y(A,CM), z(A,CM) = coordinates of object A in the CM coordinate system, where the center-of-mass is translated to the origin, (0,0,0)

x(A,CM) = x(A) - x(CM)
y(A,CM) = y(A) - x(CM)

For simplicity in plotting, I've restricted the simulation run to motion in 2-dimensions, x and y, with z=0.  For this type of problem, it can also be mathematically proven that if the particles start with all positions and velocities in the z-direction equal to zero, they will remain zero at future times.

Now we can plot the particle trajectories in the CM reference frame, which generates the following plot.

For a full-quality version of the movie, download here (9MB).

Now the two particles revolve around their mutual center-of-mass (position 0,0 in the plot), always keeping the center-of-mass on the line between them.  It can similarly be mathematically proven that in a system of particles interacting by central forces, the motion can always be separated into the motion of the particles moving around the center-of-mass, and the motion of the entire system along the center of mass.

Finally, we complete the Kepler 2-body problem by plotting the two particles in a coordinate system where the larger body represents the origin of the coordinate system.  This is the coordinate system of the original Kepler problem, and the coordinate system where Kepler's Laws (wikipedia) are defined.  To do this, we again use the exact same set of points generated in the simulation, and subtract the position of the larger body at each time step.  So

x(A,ref), y(A,ref), z(A,ref) = position of object A, in the coordinate system where the origin is object ref.

x(A,ref) = x(A) - x(A) = 0.0
y(A,ref) = y(A) - y(A) = 0.0
Object A resides at the origin in this coordinate system.

x(B,ref) = x(B) - x(A)
y(B,ref) = y(B) - y(A)

Plotting these results for each point in the simulation generates the movie

For a full-quality version of the movie, download here (9MB).
We also plot the position of the center-of-mass in this new coordinate system, which appears to orbit the main body.

For this simulation, I've chosen 1 AU as the unit of distance, and 1 year as the unit of time.  The large body is 10 solar masses and the smaller is 1 solar mass.  I've chosen the starting positions and velocities so that the orbits are sufficiently elliptical that you can see motions relative to the center-of-mass.  Competent scientists could use the information in these plots to estimate such additional parameters as speeds at apoapsis and periapsis.  Do EU 'theorists' know how to determine this information from the simulation?

To illustrate the flexibility of these types of programs, I can also generate simulations of electromagnetic systems.  Here I have a plot of some electrons and nuclei (hydrogen, deuterium, tritium, helium-3, helium-4) in a configuration where an external electric (yellow arrow) and magnetic field (blue arrow) are at right angles to each other.

For a full-quality version of the movie, download here (27MB).

This visualization was generated using the POVray renderer.  Currently, electromagnetic interactions between particles are not included in the simulation run, but will be added in the future.

Note that I have placed Creative Commons notices (BY-NC) on these movies for a reason (see Setterfield Again...).  Any website which hosts these movies must include a proper credit to me and a link back to this page.

Coming on Deck...

These are some opening samples of what can be done.  But this is just the tip of the iceberg of what can be done with this tool.

Future topics for this thread:
  • An introduction to N-Body simulations
  • The physics and mathematics of N-Body simulations
  • Some features of my particular implementation
  • How do we test/validate the simulations?
Some additional problems where I already have tests running:
  • Lagrange Points
  • Lagrange Points with an extra planet
  • Three-body systems such as Sun-Earth-Moon
  • Three-body systems such as Sun-Earth-Jupiter
  • Solar system model (Sun + eight planets)
  • Various particle and electromagnetic field configurations
Future models on my “to explore“ list
  • The “Tatooine system“, Kepler 16AB (NASAExoplanet Catalog)
  • Lorentz Slingshot (see 365 days of astronomy podcast)
  • Velikovsky's Venus (what would happen to a planet launched out of Jupiter?)
  • The Newton-Coulomb problem, or what if the Sun and planets had significant electric charge?
Future enhancements
  • Particle-in-Cell (PIC) support to accommodate more realistic plasma models (wikipedia).  This moves the code in a direction suitable to run a version of Peratt's galaxy simulations.  Will I  be generating testable models while Siggy_G is still generating excuses?
Suggestions for other configurations to study are welcome, PROVIDED they include a description of the principle the configuration can be used to test or illustrate.

And Still the Pseudo-Scientists Can't Meet the Standards

One of the popular whines from pseudo-scientists is that they could produce worthy results if they had the same funding as the mainstream scientists.

Gee, I'm sure a lot of practicing scientists would like to have that kind of funding as well, in the rare cases where it exists.

Most scientists are not paid to do research full time.  I certainly am not.  Often research is a part-time project, done between teaching classes or doing support work (writing analysis software, archiving datasets, visualization production) for other science projects.

Note that I did not have any grant to work on this project.  I didn't have to hire an army, or even one programmer, beyond myself.  Beyond the computer and operating system, I used open-source software available to anyone.  This was done on commercial grade computer systems (laptop & desktop), with the laptop used primarily for code development and testing, and the desktop system used for running the more heavy-duty processing of full simulations.

The code was developed in my spare time (though some components of the development have already found application in my day job).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm Still Here...

But just as last year around this time, other responsibilities eat away at the time I can devote to this project.

There has been a family genealogy trip to Gettysburg, PA. It seems that while I had ancestors on both the Union and Confederate side at Gettysburg, their regiments were placed and timed such that they never actually shot at each other. Lucky for me...

Then there was Halloween, and a weekend craft project making R2P2 (below), inspired by the Dalek O'Lantern.

And there are the regular fall holiday activities, gatherings, yard cleanup, etc.

In addition to all this, I am forced to move my main site due to Apple's changes to the MobileMe (iCloud) web hosting policies.  I expect my original "Dealing with Creationism in Astronomy" website will move (and might undergo a name change) sometime in Spring, 2012.  Stay tuned.

So my posting frequency for the next few months will probably be very irregular.  However, I am  using the time to organize a large series of posts on a theme relevant to posts over the past year, a preview to be posted soon.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pseudoscience and the Technomystic II

This is a continuation of the previous post (Pseudoscience and the Technomystic) with a more specific example from earlier comments.

Consider this comment in a previous thread by EU supporter, Siggy_G, complaining about how I repeatedly emphasize the coupling of science with modern technology:
Siggy_G: The “bundling“ I referred to, as often seen around here: taking all achievements related to technology, the mechanical launch itself, GPS-systems and what not, mentioning that in relation to the standard sun model or big bang cosmology, and labelling it as a confirmation of the model or theory itself. It would be as if Electric Universe proponents should mention all the electric/digital engineering behind practically ALL technology today, including everything used in astrophysics, and bundle it up as a confirmation of the Electric Universe notions... Would that be acceptable?
Is Siggy_G claiming that the Newton's laws of motion and gravitation used in predicting the motions of the planets are NOT the same laws of motion used to launch satellites into Earth orbit to distant parts of the solar system?

If that is the case, how does Siggy_G think it is actually done?

If physicists don't use the same knowledge base obtained in the classes we take on theoretical mechanics when they go to work for the flight dynamics division of the various space agencies around the world, WHERE do they get the knowledge to do the trajectory planing for these missions, often years in advance?

As for Siggy_G's 'challenge' to bundle modern technology with EU notions, I invite him to do so, but consider just some of the questions I had to address, and he must face:

1) Where did the “electric/digital” engineering come from?  Were iPads, digital cameras, modern home computers, etc., invented with no prior knowledge?  Did the inventor have a block of raw materials (silicon, copper, etc)  in their garage and one day built a modern cell phone?

2) Where did the semiconductor electronics that are the active components of those devices come from?  What knowledge base was needed to make them?  Did someone just throw together some raw chemicals in a vat and one day a microprocessor chip came out?

3) What about the materials used to make semiconductors themselves?  Were they just some random combination of materials someone thought up in their garage?  Are they naturally-occurring?  Some are, but most of the semiconductors we use today were designed in the lab.  How did we design those semiconductors?  Were they just a random combination of chemicals, or was there physics and mathematics that guided the development?  If you claim this, cite relevant references.

4) Does Siggy_G know that for years, the first discovered semiconductors were used as crystal diodes  (wikipedia: Crystal-diode) in early radio receivers, but no one understood why this material had the non-linear rectification behavior it had?  Their electronic characteristics defied explanation by classical (Maxwell) electromagnetism.  It would take the development of quantum mechanics to turn the curious properties of semiconductors into a useful tool, and astrophysics provided critical information along the way:

    •    Scott Rebuttal. III. The Importance of Quantum Mechanics
    •    More Astrophysics & Quantum Mechanics Connections

Now let's look at Siggy_G's challenge from another direction...

5) How is the use of a CCD camera to take astronomical images proof, or even evidence, of Electric Universe claims?

6) If you want to claim that the use or form of a particular tool is evidence of EU, then what about all the things we learned from astronomical images on photographic film *before* the invention of CCDs?

7) Is film chemistry as proof that the universe is actually chemical?  What does that imply for EU?

8) What about all the knowledge we obtained through naked-eye observations for centuries before that, with measurements performed via spider-web reticles?

Without addressing these types of questions, any such construction that Siggy_G proposes is the equivalent of "Joe is really smart and invented 'X', and he believes 'Y'.  Therefore 'Y' must be true."  Let's make a concrete example by filling in X & Y:
Johannes Kepler discovered the first laws of planetary motion, and also practiced astrology.  Therefore astrology must be true.
And it is easy to generate even more bizarre examples from the history of science.

I've documented how equations used for computing nuclear reactions in stars are the same equations used in nuclear medicine, the development of nuclear chemistry, nuclear reactors and even nuclear weapons.  Why did so many of the researchers involved in the early development of nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons also have prior contributions in stellar nuclear astrophysics (individuals such as Enrico Fermi (wikipedia), Edward Teller (wikipedia) and Hans Bethe (wikipedia))? 

That's the standard I've used in "Cosmos In Your Pocket".   I have been considering a more tutorial-style technical appendix that shows these connections in more detail.

What about the quantum tunneling relationship which Bethe used in 1939 to compute the rate of the p+p->d nuclear reaction, the first step of the proton-proton chain (wikipedia)?  Can Siggy_G demonstrate that it is NOT the same quantum relationship which Esaki used in 1950s to develop the tunnel diode (wikipedia)?

Have we seen a similar tracing of the knowledge base of basic electro-magnetism to a concise mathematical model of an electrically powered star?  To make an equivalent analysis for the Electric Universe, then Siggy_G would have to demonstrate something like the amount of energy carried by a cosmic scale electric current, sufficient to power the Sun, generates a magnetic field consistent with what we measure for the Sun.


I've already done that (see Electric Cosmos: The Solar Resistor Model), and the results weren't encouraging.  For Siggy_G to make a truly equivalent EU 'rebuttal', he would essentially have to solve this problem as well as answer the questions I've posed under “Challenges”.

So I invite Siggy_G to write his response, but I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pseudoscience and the Technomystic

One of the key themes that I try to emphasize in this blog is the unity of science and modern technology.  

The science of cosmology is really just the extension of the same physical principles we have discovered on the Earth and have incorporated into our technology.  See some of my previous posts on this topic: 
In some cases, the physical principles were understood from cosmological evidence before they were testable in the laboratory.

The Cosmos In Your Pocket: Expanded & Revised

The technological leadership the United States enjoyed in the post WWII era was due in no small part to the emphasis of science in the U.S. educational system in that time frame.  The decline of U.S. leadership in these fields can easily be tied to the decline of science understanding among the general population and pseudo-science has certainly been a component of that decline. 

One of the problems run into by pseudo-scientists is that when they deny some well-established aspect of modern astronomy or cosmology, such as the energy source of stars, etc., they are denying a knowledge base is tightly connected to the same understandings of nuclear physics, atomic physics, electromagnetism, etc. used in technologies we use every day. 

To defend their ignorance, the pseudoscientists eventually reach the point that they must deny how a number of well-established technologies work.  In the process, they sometimes manufacture alternative explanations which they try to make consistent with whatever alternative 'framework' they are trying to maintain.  For all intents an purposes, their alternative explanations evokes a quote from Arthur C. Clarke:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” - Arthur C. Clarke (wikipedia)
For lack of a better term, I'll call such an individual a technomystic.

Here's a few examples:

* Geocentrism: Our ability to travel in space depends on Newton's laws of motion and gravity, theories which do not define an absolute origin in space.  These equations are invariant under translation and rotation - the interactions between planetary bodies and spacecraft depend only on their RELATIVE positions, and not on any absolute spatial reference frame.  This is why we can use the exact same mathematics to get a spacecraft in orbit around other planets in the solar system as we use to orbit the Earth.  Some Geocentrists go so far as to deny space flight even takes place (such as claimed at Moving World - Deception).  The equivalence of all reference frames is built into modern star trackers used in the navigation of satellites (see Ubiquitous Aberrations) so this theory is actually tested 24/7 on satellites around the solar system.

* Relativity Denial: This is often a component of Geocentrism but it is also often invoked by Electric Universe supporters and some Young-Earth Creationists.  A number of modern technologies require high-precision measurement, with accuracy on the nano-second time scales, where relativity has already been demonstrated to become important in technologies such as the GPS system.  Most of the deniers invoke claims by researchers who are, at best, peripherally involved with GPS technologies, and I have yet to find one that has actually done the critical clock synchronization and/or signal time-of-flight analyses.  (see Scott Rebuttal. I. GPS & Relativity, GPS, Relativity & Geocentrism)

* Space Weather: The Electric Sun model advocated by the Electric Universe supporters, claims the region of space from the Sun to the heliopause is radically different from the conditions discovered by mainstream astronomy.  Conditions in this region can be hazardous to the operation of satellites and even the lives of astronauts.  Yet while mainstream astronomy and heliophysics understands the environment sufficiently to setup forecasting systems to protect assets in space (Space Weather Prediction Center), EU supporters evade demonstrating an equivalent capability, even when the data to do it are all publicly available.

* Young-Earth/Young-Universe Creationism: Young-Earth creationists try to get around technology implications of their 'science' by moving their changes back in time or far in space, such as the work by Barry Setterfield (see A Changing Speed of Light?).  However, this still creates problems for atomic/nuclear physics & applications as we detect a number of nuclear and atomic spectral lines in distant space with the same characteristics in Earth laboratories.  In this case, the safest theology are various flavors of Old-Earth Creationism (such as advocated by Reasons to Believe, etc.).

In most cases, it is difficult to get these technomystics to explain HOW many of the affected technologies actually work in their 'worldview'.  Short of claiming the technology itself is an outright fraud, the only clear answer we can get from them is that the technology does NOT work the way the physicists and engineers who designed and built the critical components say that it work and documented in many textbooks and design specifications.  I have found no examples of these technologies being developed and built by those who deny the fundamental physics, though we have many 'reinterpretations' of how these technologies work from those who, at best, were peripherally involved in the development.

Next: More exploration of the science & technology connection...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Electric Sun, Electric Comets & 'Conspiracies'

I got a good chuckle this week when I stumbled across this on the Thunderbolts Forum:
NASA Wiped Imagery of Comet Hitting Sun

Here's a few more rational evaluations:
The Electric Universe claims fail because EU supporters fail to compare this event to all the times that CMEs occur without a comet approaching the Sun.  Consider all these events from about a week in October-November 2003:

Solar storm Halloween 2003 SOHO EIT and SOHO LASCO‬

The 'snow' that strikes the camera after CMEs directed Earthward are the protons and other ions in the CME.  Some of particles scatter in the instrument at angles that let them cut across multiple pixels in the imager and create the occasional 'dash' structures that last for one image (as opposed to a comet that you would be able to track across multiple frames).

Update, June 4, 2012: Thanks to a reader who pointed me to a simple analysis of a possible comet/CME correlation on the Comets Mailing List: Sungrazer-CME statistical analysis.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Reading: "Cosmical Electrodynamics" by Alfven & Falthammer

Some time ago Dave Smith listed a few texts which were regarded by EU supporters as primary references.  There were three entries: Tony Peratt's Physics of the Plasma Universe), Cosmic Plasma by Hannes Alfven, and the Alfven & Falthammer text, Cosmical Electrodynamics, 2nd edition as EU references (see comment).

I had read Physics of the Plasma Universe some years ago.  Just recently, I finished reading the 1963 edition of Cosmical Electrodynamics (hereafter designated as CosEl for brevity).

In this text, did I find a testable model of the Electric Sun or Electric Comets?


What did I discover?

On pp 14-15, Alfven presents an example of charge separation in the solar corona and how it generates a very large voltage which will act to remove the charge separation.  This is why large charge separations cannot endure in cosmic environments, contrary to many of the claims of EU supporters (see Charge Separation in Space).  In the text, there was no mention of even the possibility that the Sun could be predominantly powered by external electric currents.  As I have documented elsewhere in this blog, Alfven was NOT a supporter of the electrically-powered solar/stellar model.

I've had some EU supporters complain about the use of the term 'ionized gas' in scientific press releases or other writing for the general public instead of 'plasma'.  I've spoken to some science writers who note that the term 'plasma' is more often associated with blood and health issues in the mind of the general public.  'Ionized gas' removes that ambiguity.  On page 134 of CosEl, even Alfven notes that 'ionized gas' and 'plasma' are often used synonymously.

In one of Alfven's papers from the 1980s (Recollection of Early Cosmic Ray Research), Alfven seems to suggest that Enrico Fermi took his idea of particle acceleration, a process that is today called Fermi Acceleration (wikipedia).  Yet on pages 38-39 of CosEl, published in 1963, Alfven describes the Fermi process with no mention of possible contributions by himself.  Why is this?  Was Alfven mis-remembering the origins of this process in the 1980s?

On pg 68-70, CosEl describes the process of radiation loss by charged particles moving in magnetic field, the origin of cyclotron (wikipedia) and synchrotron radiation (wikipedia).  This process has been identified in cosmic systems by mainstream astronomy and is credited to Alfven.  This radiation has been used as signature to identify current and electric fields in galactic jets (see Electric Universe: Measurement of the Electric Current in a Kpc-Scale Jet).  The radiation from this process was also the spike through the heart of Tony Peratt's galaxy model (Scott Rebuttal. II. The Peratt Galaxy Model vs. the Cosmic Microwave Background).  Even Peratt's own analysis revealed that current streams needed for the Peratt model should have been readily visible in the cosmic microwave background maps (Electric Universe: More data refuting the EU galaxy model), a fact repeatedly denied by EU supporters.

Chapter three goes into a derivation of the magnetohydrodynamical equations (MHD, wikipedia) and some basic applications.  Many of the examples explore the infinite conductivity/frozen-in conditions which magnetic fields can exhibit when imbedded in a highly-conductive plasma.  In spite of many of Alfven's comments to the contrary (On Frozen-In Field Lines and Field-Line Reconnection) picked up by the EU supporters (The Electric Sky, pp 120-127), this approximation is perfectly legitimate in medium and high density plasmas (CosEl, pg 191), but in low-density plasmas, such as planetary magnetospheres (wikipedia), it is probably not valid.  Many of the complaints are equivalent to claiming that we shouldn't teach projectile motion with Newtonian physics because air resistance is not included, in spite of the numerous applications where it gives results of acceptable accuracy.

On pp 121-124, Alfven discusses the Cowling theorem and the mechanisms of self-exciting dynamos.  Yet the dynamo model is strongly criticized by Donald Scott (The Electric Sky, pg 115, 127).  Despite Scott's criticisms, these dynamo models have already generated far more testable predictions ( than we've ever found from any EU 'theorist'.  Why should we believe Don Scott over Alfven on this topic?

For its day, Cosmical Electrodynamics was a perfectly good introduction to plasma physics, covering many of the aspects of charged particles in fields covered in many other plasma physics texts (such as those below from my collection).  We also see mention of early theoretical ideas and experimental work in applying kinetic theory to solving problems in plasma physics (pp 135) (see Vlasov Equation, wikipedia).  These and other techniques have improved considerably since CosEl was written in 1963, as noted by Peratt (Advances in Numerical Modeling of Astrophysical and Space Plasmas, 1997).  Today, mathematical modeling is a powerful tool for plasma physics, suitable for many engineering and commercial applications (see Electric Universe: Plasma Modeling vs. 'Mystic Plasma' and related posts).  Yet EU supporters repeatedly deny these advancements when it generates results in conflict with their cosmological claims.

I found NOTHING in CosEl that invalidates the basic tests I have done on Electric Sun models.  The fact is that CosEl repeatedly uses conservation principles in many of the analyses, just as I have done in analyzing Electric Sun models (Electric Cosmos: The Solar Resistor Model, Electric Cosmos: The Solar Capacitor Model. III),  If EU supporters want to say that my analyses are not applicable, then they are really saying that CosEl is full of nonsense.  CosEl did serve to remind me of additional plasma tests which can be applied against EU silliness such as the Electric Sun model.

Cosmical Electrodynamics provides yet another example of the disconnect of EU 'theories' with reality.  EU supporters want to present Alfven, Peratt, etc. as primary leaders in their 'science', but then want to discount the fact that much of the work by these same researchers actually DISPROVES most EU claims.

To paraphrase a recent statement by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, I'd say that EU's biggest problem is they are at war with their own talking points!

Perhaps Mr. Smith should have read Cosmical Electrodynamics more carefully before he recommended it...

References from Cosmical Electrodynamics
Modern References
  • “Computer Simulation Using Particles”  R.W. Hockney & J.W. Eastwood
  • “Plasma Physics: An Introduction to the Theory of Astrophysical, Geophysical & Laboratory Plasmas” Peter A. Sturrock
  • “Principles of Plasma Physics” Nicholas A. Krall & Alvin W. Trivelpiece
  • “Classical Electrodynamics, 2nd Edition” J.D. Jackson
Note that I have all of these references on my shelves, contrary to EU claims that astronomers don't study electrodynamics.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tidbits on Extrasolar Planets and Polonium Halos

I've been busy with a number of other projects of late, both work-related, and/or relevant to this blog, which has encroached on my writing time.  I may actually miss a few posts in the coming weeks as I work through these other projects.

One project near completion is my own N-body simulation (scholarpedia) code written in Python and running on modern hardware.  It can generate several types of plots and I can even generate output through the POVray ray-tracing software to make movies.  I've been testing the code with gravitational and electromagnetic problems.  This program will be used to provide a couple of visual examples for subjects discussed on this blog and I hope to start write-ups for it soon.

A side-benefit of developing the N-body code was that I also solved an algorithm issue that aided in the development of different work-related project - a small plasma simulation using PIC (Particle-in-Cell, wikipedia) methods.

Since I don't have a full regular post, I'll update on some recent news and other activities relevant to this blog.

More Exoplanets Imaged Directly
One of the YEC claims I've covered before (Another failed creationist prediction?)
suggested we would never have direct evidence of extra-solar planets.  Flying in the face of that claim are even more images of these extra-solar planets:
Wired: Exoplanet Portraits: Direct Images of Other Worlds

The discovery methods behind these extra-solar planets are also additional examples of of how astronomy knowledge grows by expanding on our existing knowledge base.   Many of these extra-solar planets were too faint to be imaged directly by technology of the day and many were first detected by their gravitational effects.  This approach has enjoyed much success throughout the history of astronomy and is currently part of the strategy in searching for Dark Matter (On Dark Matter. I: What & Why?, On Dark Matter. II: An Exotic Hack?)

Mystical Migrating Polonium...
I've already written a fair amount on Robert Gentry's claims about polonium halos (Polonium Halos as Evidence of a Young Earth? Polonium Halos). Here's an update with some new data I've uncovered.

I recently completed reading Richard Rhodes' book, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" (Barnes & Noble).  In the chapter discussing the development of the neutron initiator for the atomic bomb (pp 579-580 in the Easton Press Collector's Edition), the author mentions an interesting problem with the polonium used in the initiator:
Thomas shipped the Po on platinum foil in sealed containers, but another nasty characteristic of polonium caused shipping troubles: for reasons never satisfactorily explained by experiment, the metal migrates from place to place and can quickly contaminate large areas.  "This isotope has been observed to migrate upstream against a current of air." notes a postwar British report on polonium, "and to translocate under conditions where it would appear to be doing so of its own accord."  Chemists at Los Alamos learned to look for it embedded in the walls of shipping containers when Thomas' foils came up short.
So even outside granites and micas, polonium has a track record of moving around on its own. 

The problem is mentioned again in  "Contribution of Chemistry in Early Day Los Alamos" by Penneman and Meade.  However, the authors of this report attribute the polonium migration to the recoil of the atom due to the alpha-particle decay.  I'm a little dubious of that claimed cause as one would probably expect to see similar behavior in other alpha-decay radioisotopes near the mass of polonium.  To my knowledge, polonium is unique in this migration characteristic in this part of the isotope table.  However, the decay channel through radon is part of the polonium decay chain.  Note in my chart below:

If your polonium sample has some trace of Po-218 (half-life approximately 3 minutes) from this decay series, some fraction of the nuclei will beta-decay (two green arrows) up to Rn-218 where transition to a gas phase can allow the isotope to move.  Later, the nuclei can alpha decay (red arrows)  back to Po-214 (half-life approximately 160 microseconds) and some may decay to Po-210 (half-life approximately 138 days).  I suspect this migrated polonium is actually from traces of Po-218 in the original sample. If you only perform chemical tests to identify polonium, researchers might not notice that the isotopic composition of the sample.  The alternate branches in this decay series suggest one could test this hypothesis looking for migration of other isotopes in the Rn-218 decay.

So we see that polonium can move around in modern times WITHOUT divine assistance!

9/20/2011 update: fixed some typos.
6/7/2014 update: fixed broken link to graphic

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Electric Universe Apologetics, or, With Friends Like These...

(I had really hoped to get this out sooner, but other things kept intervening.  Sorry Jon.)

Back in May, 2011, Jon Voisey of “The Angry Astronomer”, wrote a story for Universe Today which was also picked up at

    •    Universe Today: Energizing the Filaments of NGC 1275,
    •    PhysOrg: Energizing the Filaments of NGC 1275,

As part of the article, Jon pointed out that this release would probably be exploited by the Electric Universe (EU) crowd as 'evidence' for their claims.  He was very quickly proven correct as the comment stream at became filled with comments from EU supporters.

There was one entry by a particularly long-winded commenter hiding behind the pseudonym “HannesAlfven” in the posts:
“To be clear, there will come a day when EU proponents create their own curriculum, based upon their own interpretations of observations and experimentation. Once this occurs -- and it is absolutely inevitable -- these quantitative models will be refined.”
I summarized a number of issues EU 'theorists' like to ignore in a recent post (Challenges for Electric Universe 'Theorists'). The problems of standard cosmology pale in comparison to the problems of EU claims which supporters repeatedly ignore.

So let's break up “HannesAlfven's” statement into smaller pieces to better explore its high density of nonsense...
“there will come a day when EU proponents create their own curriculum, based upon their own interpretations of observations and experimentation”
Science in the classroom is supposed to be well established - Newton's Laws, gravitation, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, nuclear physics.  Maybe a little speculative stuff is sprinkled in areas on the scientific frontier, to demonstrate that not all problems have been solved.  I suspect neutrinos were mentioned in 1940s physics classes even though not a single one had yet been detected directly. 

But since EU theories, such as the Electric Sun and galaxy-generating currents, have numerous problems, it cannot be considered as well-established so it does not belong in the classroom.

“HannesAlfven” proceeds to arrogantly claim that EU adoption “ is absolutely inevitable”.

While the standard model of the Sun has great (but not perfect) success, EU supporters have yet to demonstrate that their model can do things as simple as predict solar wind particle densities and speeds, issues vital for the safety of satellites and astronauts.  This is something the standard model does quite well.  Without this basic capability, EU will have a hard time designing radiation shielding for space flight.  How will anyone adopting EU 'theories' maintain a presence in space if they don't know how to shield their satellites?  EU's 'inevitable' adoption spells death for the space-faring capability of the adopter.

And finally, there's the really ROTFL close “...these quantitative models will be refined.” 

Huh?  Which quantitative models are those?  WHERE are they? 

Of course, the really funny part of this statement is the claim that the EU models just need to be 'refined'.

Astronomical models off by a factor of 2, or even a factor of 10, need 'refinement'.  When a model's predictions are off by factors of thousands or more, as EU models are (see Electric Cosmos: The Solar Resistor Model, Electric Cosmos: The Solar Capacitor Model. III., etc.), saying the models will be 'refined' is a joke more akin to a self-delusion.

But even more interesting about “HannesAlfven's” statement and attitude is how similar it is to the stated tactics and goals of Creationism and Intelligent Design movement - they want to push their material into the classroom first - and THEN they'll refine their 'scientific support'.

This same tactic was used in Dover PA by ID supporters.  This was the reason for the Dover 'Intelligent Design' Trial (wikipedia). 

EU supporters constantly try to promote their cause, not with actual scientific facts and testable hypotheses (like real scientists) but as a conflict of worldviews or a 'culture war', a tactic used in religion or politics. 

The fact is that science works regardless of your worldview or culture.  A cell phone or satellite works based on the quality of the science, and quality of the construction and maintenance, independent of whether you 'believe' it will work. 

However, one's worldview or culture can strongly impact whether one can actually build the technologies that science enables - those who don't understand the science behind a cell phone or satellite will never be able to design it or build one from the fundamentals.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Geocentrism's "Quantized Planetary Orbits"

Mr. Martin responds to "Stupid Geocentrist Tricks" with In Response to Dr Bridgmans "Stupid Geocentrist Tricks". I've already made some reply in the comments to the previous article.

One of the statements in Martin's response that really caught my attention was
Martin: "6. Quantized planetary orbits – a law of planetary distances matches the preferred redshift of quasars with a ratio of 1:1.23."
I conducted several searches to find more details about this claim, but only found it quoted in a number of online locations with no details of its justification.  I could find nothing describing details of the ill-defined 'law of planetary distances'.

But that wasn't too severe a problem.  After all, information on planetary distances in the solar system are readily available.  I collected some values from, Appendix 1a: Solar System Data. 
I included the values for the asteroid Ceres and even Pluto to increase the number of possible data points.

In the table below, I present the data and the analysis.  For each planet, I have the distance (actually the length of the orbit's semi-major axis) from the Sun (heliocentric distance) in kilometers, which is often designated with the letter a (column 2).  I then compute the ratio of the distance of the planet (n) and the distance of the planet immediately before it (n-1) (column 3).  Since there is no prior planet, we can't set the value of this ratio for Mercury.  We then compare this result to the claimed value (column 4) and report the percent error, 100.0*(actual-predicted)/predicted (column 5).

 Planetsemi-major axis
% error
Venus108,200,000 1.87 1.23 52%
Earth149,600,000 1.38 1.23 12%
Mars227,940,000 1.52 1.23 24%
Ceres446,000,000 1.96 1.23 59%
Jupiter778,330,000 1.75 1.23 42%
Saturn1,429,400,000 1.84 1.23 49%
Uranus2,870,990,000 2.01 1.23 63%
Neptune4,504,300,000 1.57 1.23 28%
Pluto5,913,520,000 1.31 1.23 7%
Note that not only is there significant deviation from the claimed value, but the claimed value of 1.23 isn't even a mean or median value of the actual data.  In fact, the claimed value is smaller than all the actual values.

As an additional check, I also constructed some plots using a planetary ephemeris file available at the JPL Solar System Dynamics web site.  The distance ratios are again computed based on the orbital semi-major axes.  The error bars are computed using the range of heliocentric distances driven by the orbital eccentricities.
Click to enlarge
We can also plot the ratio connecting the inner planet on the horizontal axis and the outer planet on the vertical axis and compare to the claimed ratio.
Click to enlarge
Again, the agreement with the claimed 'quantization' ratio is very poor.  But for Pluto (and it is no longer considered a planet so can that apply?), the error bars do not even overlap with the line marking the 1.23 ratio.

So what gives?  This poor fit agreement between actual data and the predicted line do not coincide with any generally agreed definition of quantization (wikipedia).  The scatter in the actual data points suggests that even some modification of the claimed 'quantization rule' would not improve the situation.  Again, it appears the Geocentrists are incapable of doing even basic math.  Or could it be that the Geocentrists know their statement is false and think their supporters are too ignorant to do basic math to check them?

If Mr. Martin or other Geocentrist supporter wishes to clarify this claim with a link to a specific analysis, I will allow them to post a link with more details OF JUST THIS PARTICULAR CLAIM OF QUANTIZED PLANETARY ORBITS.  Anything else will be rejected.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Miscellaeous News: Adam & Eve, Creationism in the classroom

I've been a little distracted of late, with either prep and/or cleanup from earthquakes (Wow!  My first earthquake where it was clearly an earthquake!) and hurricanes along the U.S. east coast, so here's a post of some creation/evolution news items of relevance.

I like posting the slashdot link to many of these despite the rather low signal-to-noise ratio of the comment.  The slashdot audience is sufficiently technically and scientifically savvy that the comments often include interesting and relevant side-links not included in the main story.

Slashdot: Evangelical Scientists Debate Creation Story
Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Some interesting quotes from the article:
Venema is part of a growing cadre of Christian scholars who say they want their faith to come into the 21st century.
This must happen, or Christians risk scientific and technological illiteracy vital to maintaining a growing a modern society.  Many of the creationists who comment in this blog have no idea of how many of the technologies they use depend on science which they wish to deny.
“From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith,“ says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe
I'm a bit disappointed in this as I do follow some of RTBs content.  Their astronomy is pretty good but I often disagree with some of their theological content.  I find it interesting that as more extrasolar planets are discovered, their position seems to be slowly migrating away from a doctrine that humans must be the only intelligent life in the cosmos.

BioLogos and the June 2011 “Christianity Today” Cover Story

Slashdot: Teacher Cannot be Sued for Denying Creationism

NCSE: A final victory in Texas
Creationists loose big in a case over science textbooks.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Setterfield, SED (Stochastic Electrodynamics), and NASA

I recently received an e-mail query in regards to Barry Setterfield's activities. I've been a little slack keeping up on that front as Mr. Setterfield began attaching many of his claims to the Electric Universe and I've had a lot of activity there.

The query reported that a Dutch site was suggesting that NASA was using a theory called SED for futuristic propulsion and that SED was related to Barry Setterfield's zero-point energy (ZPE) driver for his theory of c-decay (for more details on the problems with Setterfield's work, see additional links).

After a few searches, I found an English translation that was probably the original source of the information, which turned out to be the Zero Point Energy page on Setterfield's site.

Setterfield's page is largely a combination of quotations from more legitimate work spun together with Setterfield's own claims to make them appear consistent.  Setterfield often tries to connect his work to other, more legitimate work, probably in an attempt to raise his own credibility.  Most of it is pure nonsense that fails numerous other tests as documented in many other analyses.

Setterfield spends a lot of time trying to connect his use of the Zero-Point Energy (ZPE) to Stochastic Electrodynamics (SED), and then makes the NASA connection:
Setterfield: “On the positive side, NASA and other organizations have hired SED physicists in order to discover a power source for spacecraft and earth-bound applications utilizing the ZPE.”

Just What Is SED?

SED is Stochastic Electrodynamics (wikipedia), basically an idea to explain quantum mechanical principles by incorporating some randomness in electrodynamics through an interaction with the zero-point energy (wikipedia).

SED is NOT Setterfield's idea.

SED's origin can be traced back to the 1960s.  While SED has enjoyed some successes in matching predictions of some quantum phenomena, it has not been uniformly successful.  Even one of its original proponents regards it as something of a failure.  From Trevor Marshall, one of the developers of SED:
“While achieving some notable successes, for example with the Casimir effect, SED must overall be judged a failure.“
Not everyone has given up on SED and are exploring other variants:
Contribution from stochastic electrodynamics to the understanding of quantum mechanics

Zero-point energy has often been invoked to support a number of pseudo-scientific claims, such as various types of 'free-energy' devices.  I've yet to find any demonstration of one of these devices that can conclusively produce more energy than goes into it from other sources.  Bob Park has written about some of these devices in his book, "Voodoo Science" (wikipedia).

Setterfield's statement that NASA is hiring SED physicists is a bit dated.  The group was chartered to explore possible advanced propulsion techniques and there was some examination of possible applications of ZPE.  However, the group was shut down some years ago due to budget cuts (NASA: Breakthrough Propulsion Physics).  I've not seen any evidence that the ZPE explorations by this group used any of Setterfield's 'ideas'.

The bottom line is that NASA is NOT using any of Setterfield's ideas related to the ZPE or even the SED methodology.

The Electric Universe Connection

Towards the end of Setterfield's ZPE page, Setterfield appears to be actively courting the Electric Universe advocates.
Setterfield: “It is interesting that some of the Thunderbolts group of correspondents do not accept the ZPE. In this context I might point out that there are a diverse group of correspondents there and not everyone has the same views. Furthermore, I presented a major paper about the ZPE and the redshift at a science conference in June, and Dave Talbott of Thunderbolts was there to hear it!”
The presentation in question is apparently based on Setterfield's ZPE paper: “Zero Point Energy and the Redshift“, PROCEEDINGS of the NPA 6(2):1-10, 2010.  This is apparently a follow-on to material I've written about before:
Update May 13, 2014: fixed broken link.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Geocentrism: Laser Ranging Experiments

    Mr. Martin responds to "Stupid Geocentrist Tricks" with In Response to Dr Bridgmans "Stupid Geocentrist Tricks". I've already made some reply in the comments to the previous article.

    Mr. Martin's response is a collection of nonsense that can only be maintained if one is never required to test their claims against real physical measurements.
    Martin: "2. Science has demonstrated physical phenomena occur relative to earth as though the earth was stationary relative to the rest of the universe. As such, the geocentric model alone is the correct model."
    All of Mr. Martins 'proofs' of Geocentrism rely exclusively on experiments done on the Earth, while ignoring similar experiments elsewhere in space.
    Martin: "If Dr Bridgman denies this problem exists then let him have a look at a similar situation with the lunar laser ranging experiment. According to Dr Tom Murphy the experiment works by the mirror deforming according to relativity theory, causing the laser to bounce back in the mirror frame along a different line from which it entered, thereby the laser returns safely back to the moving earth. A clear indication of the mirror deformation is shown here figure 2, page 2 -"
    Here's an upper-level link to a larger collection of Dr. Murphy's documentation of Lunar Retro-Reflector (LRR) experiments.

    The Murphy paper discusses the aberration effect that must be considered in lunar ranging. I have already demonstrated that aberration effects have been measured and utilized for navigation purposes by satellites around the solar system (see Geocentrism: Ubiquitous aberrations) so Mr. Martin's claim that this is evidence for a motionless Earth are moot.

    The LRR is not the only laser ranging experiment.   I can think of three that have operated, or are operating, around the solar system:
    • MOLA was in orbit around Mars, 
    • LOLA is currently in lunar orbit, 
    • Messenger is at Mercury 
    (see Planetary Laser Altimetry). All these instruments operate by bouncing laser signals off the surface of the planet. All operate around the particular planet they orbit as if that planet were the center of the universe, or even as if the instrument itself were the center of the universe. The lasers use the exact same value of 'c' in computing their range from timing even though they are in motion relative to the Earth.  This is as expected from relativity.

    If the Earth were truly a distinguished coordinate system as Mr. Martin claims, then you would expect these laser altimeters to operate differently when orbiting another planet. Mr. Martin evades specifying what would be different in their operation. The simple fact is the laser altimeters operate exactly like they do when based the Earth, or Earth orbit, as predicted/expected by relativity.

    This is not an idle question.  If there were a way to distinguish a frame of absolute motion, it would be possible to build an actual 'speedometer' to ride aboard a spacecraft, instead of using the complex combination of spacecraft orientation and remote Doppler measurements currently required.  If Geocentrists are correct, they should be able to prove their case by the invention of such a device.

    Mr. Martin whines that Dr. Murphy won't respond to him. That is no mystery. People doing real work don't enjoy wasting their work time with Mr. Martin's type of silliness, whereas I do this as a hobby outside my day job.

    Mr. Martin cannot produce an experiment operating around the other planets, or in the space between them, that suggests Geocentrism is true. There are many experiments operating in these regions providing evidence that Geocentrism is false.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Goodies from my Recent Excursions

    Misconceptions in Sun-Earth Science

    From the education group for the IBEX mission, there's some plasma-science based Games & Activities. Of particular interest is Magnetic Pinball.

    Other plasma simulation explorations:

    I've written about the IBEX results and implications for claims of an electrically-powered Sun (and stars)

    Saturday, July 30, 2011

    Miscellaneous Links on Geocentrism & Relativity Denial

    If this post was released through the scheduled posting mechanism, it means I've been too busy to complete a post this week.

    So I use this opportunity to post a few links of interest I've accumulated.
    Things are a bit hectic right now with some short travel for a talk and local conference.  I may extend the hiatus to make more progress on posts that have been on my 'To Do' list for too long.

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    Stupid Geocentrist Tricks

    James Philips responded to “Heliocentrism's 'Vested Interests'...” with a number of comments which I will address in this post.

    Most of Mr. Phillips' claims suggest he is either ignoring or (deliberately?) misrepresenting much of the material I have already described in earlier posts of how coordinate systems are defined and used in astronomy.  These coordinate systems, verified by many experiments, make it impossible to define an absolute frame of rest.

    Here's some excerpts from previous posts defining these issues:

    Geocentrism: Galileo was wrong?
    Excerpt: Phil notes the distinction of geocentrism as a reference frame, a convenient way to relate measurements, and Geocentrism as a physically distinct frame that defines an absolute rest, so that the Earth is unmoving, unmovable, and not even rotating.  Astronomers use alternative references frames all the time - choosing the frames convenient for the analysis of the problem at hand - there are a number of them for the Earth and the Sun, which I utilize in my day job.

    Geocentrism: Does NASA use Geocentrism?
    Excerpt: Why would they not?  Why would you reference everything with heliocentric coordinates if you are in orbit around the Earth?  Or in orbit around Mars?  The heliocentric coordinates are just a coordinate transformation away from any other coordinate system you choose to use.

    You use the model appropriate to the scale of the problem you are solving. A geocentric model can be sufficiently accurate near the Earth, but deviates as one moves further away from the Earth.  When traveling between planets, NASA routinely transitions between the frame of the Earth, to the heliocentric frame, and to the frame of the target planet when the spacecraft gets near.
    The bottom line is that any coordinate can be used interchangeably, provided you do the correct transformation between them.

    The use of any coordinate system, even geocentric systems, is generally a matter of convenience, and does not (and by relativity cannot), define any kind of frame of absolute rest, which is the general interpretation of Modern Geocentrism (wikipedia).  In the blue sections below, 'B' is Mr. Phillips' marking of quotations from the original post, “Heliocentrism's 'Vested Interests'..., while 'JP' indicates Mr. Phillips' response in the comment section.
    B: As for my viciousness (maliciousness), why would anyone in their right mind listen to 'knowledge' which does not come from some actual accomplishment in the field they are claiming?

    JP: But Dr. Bridgman, the knowledge posted on your blog by geocentrists (and others!) challenging you has come from peer reviewed and published scientific papers. What are you so afraid of?
    Geocentrists are not promoting peer-reviewed science.  They are twisting the interpretation of peer-reviewed science.   Every time I check the details of papers referenced by Mr. Phillips and others, I find very inaccurate reporting of the results.  Mr. Bennett (mentioned later) directed me to some papers by R.V. Jones and others claiming the papers validated aether theory.  I finally retrieved the full papers and supporting citations and will have a future post with another example of gross misrepresentation of scientific results.
    B: Would you accept medical advice from an actor or other non-medical professional?

    JP: I think the best medical professionals agree that it is always wise to seek a second or even a third opinion, and that is what we shall do here, in a moment, and we shall request our second opinion from Dr. Einstein if you don't mind (or, frankly, even if you do).

    But it does seem as if you are suggesting here that truth is determined by academic credential. Surely you must admit that the whole history of scientific advancement shows us the fallacy of your implication above. In fact, if we think about it, every single scientific discovery begins life as the act of one single mind, advancing an hypothesis in direct contradiction to the established wisdom of the rest of the scientific establishment, doesn't it?
    By your 'lone mind going against the establishment' criteria and rhetorical games, we can cherry-pick our evidence and prove that the world is flat.  I have actually played this exercise with a creationist, where I used many of the creationist rhetorical games to 'prove' the Earth was indeed flat.  The creationist gave up after just a few rounds.

    Using rhetorical logic, Zeno 'proved' it was impossible for Achilles to overtake the tortoise (wikipedia).  Such games in rhetoric, or 'logic' don't make it true, much less useful.  Also see Item 6 of: Seven Warning Signs of Bogus Science, by Robert L. Park, Ph.D, (Quackwatch)

    Truth determined by academic credentials?  You have the cart before the horse.  Success at determining and expanding scientific understanding determined the academic credentials.  Many of those 'academic credentials'  were earned developing an accurate understanding of how atoms work that make small computers possible today, and understanding how gravity works which eventually made spaceflight possible.  I'm still waiting for a successful 'geocentrist' algorithm for interplanetary navigation.  Or are Geocentrists (again) going to opt for trying to steal, er, 'relabel' the standard coordinate transformation techniques and claim it is the same as the geocentrists theory? 
    It is apparent that you want us to shut up and accept your word.

    I submit this is hardly an authentic expression of the honest scientific mindset.
    I don't want to you accept my word.

    I insist that Geocentrists adhere to the same standards that real scientists must accept.  Hence it is the Geocentrists who must demonstrate the validity of their science through such tests as finding Lagrange points, etc. (see Geocentrism: Does NASA use Geocentrism?).  I want the Geocentrists to put their money where their mouth is.  Let's see the Geocentrists actually DO something with their 'science'.  If they can't do that, then it is they who is asking others to accept their word.
    Are your readers not ashamed of you, since you are a teacher? And how unfortunate are your students if they are indoctrinated in this way, instead of being invited to work through these questions carefully and honestly.
    Students ARE required to work through the theories carefully in physics and astronomy classes as anyone who's taken a real physics class knows.  Most physics students know that many of those equations in the engineering texts come from Newton's laws and other more fundamental principles.  A disturbing number of engineers seem to just blindly accept these equations and then deny much of the science behind them.  The better engineers understand the science behind the equations and can develop technology beyond rote applications of engineering formulae.
    B: There are plenty of people that do that and worse (see What's the Harm?), and they can pay a high price for ignorance.

    JP: But Dr. Bridgman, there is nothing in your link which addresses the question of whether heliocentrism has been scientifically proven. In fact, in a moment, we are going to allow Dr. Einstein to teach you that it has not been.
    It is well known that you censor the comments of geocentrists such as Dr. Robert Bennett and Rick DeLano, who have already pointed out the key fallacy embedded in your article here; that is, you assert that only the heliocentric reference frame is scientifically valid, when even Dr. Einstein and his scientific heirs insist it is not.
    There is NO preferred frame (beyond convenience for a given application).  Such a fact cannot 'prove' heliocentrism, but it is sufficient to disprove Geocentrism.

    But the real hoot is Mr. Phillips resorts to spinning quotes of Einstein and other developers of relativity to support his position, even though those quotations favor the equality of ALL reference frames, with favor to none.  Of course, the Einstein arguments are only valid if RELATIVITY is valid.

    So after spending a large part of his comments DENYING relativity, Mr. Phillips now invokes relativity when it is convenient?

    Unfortunately, physical laws are not a cafeteria plan, where you can pick-and-choose which physical laws you wish to believe.

    Bob Sungenis is your astronaut
    B: If you convince someone that a toxin is not poisonous, and they take a dose of the toxin and die, who is morally responsible for the death? You? Or do you just claim that it was their choice and go on your merry way?
    JP: Why, that would be *you*, Dr. Bridgeman. But please allow a geocentrist to apply the remedy.
    This is exactly the type of answer I expected.  So let's put it in a clearer perspective.

    You have a rocket (multi-stage) with a life support capsule capable of sustaining a human occupant for, say 10 hours or so. 

    Bob Sungenis is your astronaut.

    Mr. Martin & Mr. Phillips are in charge of designing the flight trajectory.  The goal is to successfully launch Dr. Sungenis into orbit, have him circle the Earth three times (to guarantee the flight has indeed achieved a sustainable orbit) and then return to Earth at a pre-defined destination.

    The spacecraft will be built making sure the star trackers don't correct for aberration (or perhaps only an earth-based aberration), since the spacecraft will be in a different reference frame.  This error would be small, but perhaps not entirely negligible.  Mr. Martin & Mr. Phillips must calculate the amount of fuel needed to perform the trajectory (with some reasonable margin of safety).  They must also compute the times and angles needed to apply the thrust to direct the rocket into orbit and for the re-entry maneuver.

    So will Dr. Sungenis make it back safely to Earth, or is he a potential Darwin Award candidate?

    If Mr. Martin & Mr. Phillips' calculation result in the spacecraft being placed on a bad trajectory, and consequently Dr. Sungenis' death, are they guilty of murder?

    Remember that NASA and other space agencies do these types of calculations routinely, launching humans into space (okay perhaps not so much for a while as the last space shuttle has just landed :^(.  Is Geocentrism's 'science' up to the task?

    Note that this is strong test of the geocentrist claim that the Earth is not rotating.

    Considering the extensive efforts being make to facilitate commercial access to space, this exercise may actually be testable in the not-to-distant future.  In fact, I'd be interested in working with other organizations to design an actual protocol for such tests, similar to the JREF paranormal challenge.
    B: Real lives depend on the proper computation of spacecraft trajectories, and not just the lives of astronauts (more below). The Geocentrists have offered nothing but rhetorical games to back their claims - nothing of the rigor required by science and engineering beyond a word game to relabel the mathematics.

    JP: Balderdash. The mathematics have been rigorously worked out and published nearly a century ago, in order to make mathematically precise the expression of Relativity's *foundational* postulate, that there exists no “best“ referencer frame.
    [ stuff deleted ]
    Again,  Mr. Phillips is apparently supporting relativity?  Relativity demonstrates the equivalence of ALL coordinate systems as a frame of reference.

    Then Mr. Phillips flip-flops yet again, trying to deny the validity of relativity with the claim below:
    JP: But wait a minute, Dr. Bridgman. Isn't it true that GPS uses a geocentric reference frame?

    Why, it certainly is: ttp://

    I dealt with this issue in Geocentrism: Does NASA use Geocentrism?  Since the great majority of GPS customers are on the Earth, why wouldn't we use the Earth as a key coordinate system?  If we built a GPS system in orbit around Mars, we would use a Mars-centered coordinate system, and but for the parameter values that describe the planet and its atmosphere, the equations would be identical (A GPS System for Mars).

    So how does this prove Geocentrism, that the Earth defines a frame of absolute rest?

    That GPS uses a geocentric system is irrelevant to geocentrism being a 'favored' coordinate system beyond matters of convenience.  They are already in planning for a positioning system to work ANYWHERE in the solar system.  Which coordinate systems do you think it will use?
    In fact, it has been shown by Wang and Hatch that all of the JPL software used for GPS and deerp space satellite navigation does “the entire calculation“ in the Earth-centered inertial (ECI) frame:
    Really? Mr. Phillips didn't check his 'facts' very carefully. 

    While the JPL GPS software uses  geocentric coordinate systems, it also uses ICRF for celestial reference, as noted in Geocentrism: Ubiquitous Aberrations.  But that is not the software used for 'deerp (sic) space satellite navigation', where ephemerides are based on ICRF, a system based on the solar-system barycenter (as described in Geocentrism: Does NASA use Geocentrism?).
    “…NavCom Technology, Inc. has licensed software developed by the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) which, because of historical reasons, does the entire computation in the ECI frame. Because of some discrepancies between our standard earth-centered earth-fixed solution results and the JPL results, we investigated the input parameters to the solution very carefully. The measured and theoretical ranges computed in the two different frames agreed precisely, indicating that the Sagnac correction had been applied in each frame.“--Ruyong Wang and Ronald R. Hatch, Conducting a Crucial Experiment of the Constancy of the Speed of Light Using GPS, ION GPS 58th Annual Meeting / CIGTF 21st Guidance Test Symposium, 2002, p. 500.
    So, Dr. Bridgman, it seems that *real engineers* writing *real software* for *real spacecraft* in fact use the very earth-centered frames you insist cannot be correct.
    I've been accumulating some info on Mr. Hatch's claims for some months now.  Notice that Mr. Hatch's work has only been published in the ION CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS (conference proceedings generally published papers from anyone who pays the conference fee), while none of his material has appeared in ION's peer-reviewed publication.  Mr. Hatch's errors are far too extensive to add to this already too-long post, so they're being collected for a future post.

    Mr. Phillips apparently doesn't know what it means to 'license' software.  He also claims I say one cannot use geocentric frames, contrary to my statements in Geocentrism: Does NASA use Geocentrism?

    Mr Phillips is becoming a bore.

    See how important it can be to get a second opinion, Doctor Bridgeman?

    Well, I could continue on mano a mano with all the rest of your comments, but if anyone reading all that I've responded to still wants to keep a closed mind on the question of geocentrism there's perhaps not too much else to say at this point.

    The greatest scientists have approached the great scientific paradigms of their day with an open mind, not a closed one. Truth be known, even the greatest ones today have not closed their mind to geocentrism even if many of them may be pre-disposed due to atheistic inclinations to reject it out of hand!

    If we have a better world today as Dr. Bridgman talks about it is due at least in part to the fact that the great scientists retain an open mind not a closed one. This is a simple fact which should not even be necessary to point out.
    And again Mr. Phillips' arguments degenerate into the standard drivel.

    So let's summarize...

    In his same set of comments, Mr. Phillips both advocates and denies relativity.

    Mr. Phillips has incorrectly claimed that I have stated heliocentrism is an absolute favored frame and that it is invalid to use geocentric reference frames. In both cases I have referenced recent posts illustrating I have not made such claims.  This is the kind of 'bearing of false witness' so common in creationist circles, which give Christianity a bad name and which I have complained about before (Creationist Junk Debunked).

    This suggests Mr Phillips is making stuff up to stay in the game (see Reason Seen More as Weapon Than Path to Truth).  Mr. Phillips has reached the point that he is arguing in circles and is wasting my time.  Similar nonsensical responses from him or others will be rejected in the comments.

    Challenges for Geocentrists

    Since Mr. Phillips has accused me of asking readers to 'take my word for it', let me clarify the questions that Geocentrists must answer, lest they be guilty of insisting readers take THEIR word for it.

    First, when Geocentrists wish to respond to any comments on this blog, the must first clearly specify which flavor of Geocentrism are they supporting:  A totally non-rotating Earth?  Perhaps a rotating Earth but fixed in the solar system?  Some other 'flavor'?  Failure to do so will result in comment rejection.

    1) If Geocentrists want to claim that the GEI/ECI/ECRF or GEO frames is favored, how would you tell?  What differences would one expect in the equations?  What make GEI/GEO a favored coordinate system, beyond personal preference?

    2) Let's consider for a moment the possibility that Wang & Hatch are correct and that the speed of light is 'c' only in the ECI reference frame.  But Sungenis uses the null MMX result as evidence that the Earth is not rotating, i.e. that 'c' is fixed in the GEO frame.  But the GEO frame rotates relative to the ECI  frame!  Relativity explains this in full mathematical detail today.  How do Geocentrist's explain this inconsistency?

    3) There are already proposals to install atomic clocks on Mars-orbiting satellites to make a GPS system to support rover and human operations on that planet (The global positioning system, relativity, and extraterrestrial navigation).  According to relativity, the equations for such a system in a Mars-centered coordinate system would look precisely like the Earth-centered system but for parameter values describing the planet's mass, size and atmosphere.  If relativity is incorrect, can the Geocentrists provide the equation systems needed to successfully support Mars exploration, or will Geocentrists be, like their 'science', limited to the Earth?

    4) Some months ago, Rick DeLano claimed that Geocentrism could explain the Lagrange points, five points of stability in the restricted 3-body problem (Wikipedia), and one of the predictions of Newtonian gravity and laws of motion. I challenged him to demonstrate it, considering that we make use of these locations in a number of operating space missions.

    The Geocentrists have been strangely silent on this so I add this to the official list.