"Light Traveled Faster in the Early Universe" (Today's Most Popular)
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July 14, 2011

"Light Traveled Faster in the Early Universe" (Today's Most Popular)

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A brilliant  physicist João Magueijo  asks the heretical question: What if the speed of light—now accepted as one of the unchanging foundations of modern physics—were not constant?

"A number of surprising observations made at the threshold of the 21st century have left cosmologists confused and other physicists in doubt over the reliability of cosmology," Magueijo says. "For instance it has been found that the cosmological expansion appears to be accelerating. This is contrary to common sense, as it implies that on large scales gravity is repulsive. Another upheaval resulted from the high redshift mapping of the fine structure constant. Evidence was found for a time dependence of this supposed constant of Nature. Yet another puzzle was the observation of rare very high energy cosmic rays. Standard kinematic calculations, based on special relativity, predict a cut off well below the observed energies, so this may perhaps represent the first experimental mishap of special relativity.

"These three surprises are not alone and prompt several questions. Is the Universe trying to tell us something radical about the foundations of physics?" he continues. "Or are astronomers merely trying to irritate the conservative physicist? It could well be that the strange observations emerging from the new cosmology are correct, and that they provide a unique window into dramatically novel physics. Is the Universe trying to give us a physics lesson?"

Magueijo, a 40-year old native of Portugal, puts forth the heretical idea that in the very early days of the universe light traveled faster—an idea that if proven could dethrone Einstein and forever change our understanding of the universe. He is a pioneer of the varying speed of light (VSL) theory of cosmology -an alternative to the more mainstream theory of cosmic inflation- which proposes that the speed of light in the early universe was of 60 orders of magnitude faster than its present value.

Solving the most intractable problems of cosmology in one brilliant leap, Magueijo’s varying-speed-of-light theory (VSL) would have stunning implications for space travel, black holes, time dilation, and string theory—and could help uncover the grand unified theory that ultimately eluded Einstein.

Joao Magueijo's radical ideas intend to turn that Einsteinian dogma on its head. Marueijo is trying to pick apart one of Einstein’s most impenetrable tenets, the constancy of the speed of light. This idea of a constant speed (about 3×106 meters/second) -is known as the universal speed limit. Nothing can, has, or ever will travel faster than light.

Magueijo -who received his doctorate from Cambridge, has been a faculty member at Princeton and Cambridge, and is currently a professor at Imperial College, London- says: not so. His VSL theory presupposes a speed of light that can be energy or time-space dependent.

In his fist book, Faster than the Speed of Light, Magueijo leads laymen readers into the abstract realm of theoretical physics, based on several well known, as well as obscure, thinkers. The VSL model was first proposed by John Moffat, a Canadian scientist, in 1992. Magueijo carefully builds the foundations for a discussion of Big Bang cosmology, and then segues into the second half of the book, which is devoted to VSL theory.

Like most radical, potentially seminal thinkers,  Magueijo shakes the foundations of the physics community, while irritating off many of his fellow scientists. VSL purposes to solve the problems at which all cosmologists are forever scratching: those inscrutable conceptual puzzles that surround the Big Bang. Currently many of these problems have no widely accepted solutions.

Could Einstein be wrong and Magueijo right? Is he a gadfly or a true, seminal genius? Time will tell.

Joao Magueijo concludes: "One dramatic possibility is that the speed of light is a dynamic variable. If so we may indeed expect the above phenomena to be true. In addition, it could be that near black holes the speed of light congeals to zero, preventing observers from approaching the ``singularity'' and invalidating most current black hole theories. It might also be true that in the vicinity of cosmic strings the speed of light is much higher, allowing for high-speed travel without the annoyances associated with time dilation effects. Yet another possibility is that time variations in c cause the energy stored in the cosmological constant to be converted into normal matter. This process might even account for the creation of the Universe. Or perhaps something even more unpalatable to the unimaginative physicist is behind our existence.

"The amazing possibility remains that these radically new phenomena may also manifest themselves here and now, not just in the very early Universe. Maybe we have only recently started to look hard enough. Crazy as all of these ideas might be, some may already make contact with observations, unlike more conventional approaches to unification and quantization of gravity. For this reason I will argue that these off-the-mainstream "cosmic lessons" may provide the much sought after observational inspiration for such long standing unsolved problems as the quantization of gravity."

The Daily Galaxy via metanexus.net

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Comments

It is not a heretical question to ask whether the speed of light is constant
Everything can be challenged there are no sacred cows in Science
Such things are being eliminated when evidences shore up

Louise Riofrio has proposed that GM=tc^3. Since G and M (the mass/energy of the universe) is constant but t varies, c must also vary and would have been many orders of magnitude higher in the early universe. This would also account for the inflationary period following the Big Bang and the other phenomena mentioned in the article, and indeed parallels the idea proposed by Magueijo.

Since light was many multiples faster in the early Universe this means that the age of the Universe is also a lot shorter.
I wouuld suggest that we will find it is only in the range of 6000 years!

(This is pure made-up bullshit, but I expect to hear something like this from the creationist crowd in the near future!)

So how does this play into the creation of structures in the universe that are thought to have taken 100 billion years to form or, in other words, to the people that believe the evidence of a static universe?

The article points out: "Or perhaps something even more unpalatable to the unimaginative physicist is behind our existence."

And Lexusmaxus states: "[T]here are no sacred cows in Science."

As Allen illustrates, there certainly *are* sacred cows in science: things that evoke only emotion-based knee-jerk responses with no real thought from certain individuals, no matter how intelligent they might be in every other way.

But this is beside the point; this article (very well written, by the way: clear, concise, and positive) brings up some good points in Dr. Magueijo's hypothesis. Besides what's already been suggested here, perhaps the "subspace communication" from Star Trek, allowing real-time conversations over distances of light-years, isn't such a far-fetched idea after all. Find a way to transmit and receive data through some nearby brane where the speed of light is a few orders of magnitude greater than in our own, and there you have it.

This universe of ours is revealing more glorious things about itself at an ever-increasing pace.

Barry Setterfield proposed C-decay back in 1981. Scientists are finally warming up to the idea. Once built, toppling a "sacred cow" is anathema because pride is at stake. Ouch!

Barry Setterfield proposed C-decay back in 1981. Scientists are finally warming up to the idea. Once built, toppling a "sacred cow" is anathema because pride is at stake. Ouch!

"[T]here are no sacred cows in Science."

A study of scientific funding does not support this statement. Where funding is concerned this assertion requires something that the scientific community finds dubious. Faith. Where funding is concerned science is merely another religion. Stick to the text...or else....

it is a fact that light was stopped to zero by magnetic field confinement in the lab. inferred black holes have magnetic field cores that accelerate charged particles and trap light from escaping. light slows down traveling through denser mediums. light travels slower in water, glass, etc. c cannot be a constant, so neither can newton gravity be a constant. einstein made relativity using maxwell's electromagnetism equations, so that mechanics can work in space. EM forces are real but pseudo gravity requires phony dark matter and gravity black holes. the shapes of galaxies are just what they are by EM forces.
http://holographicgalaxy.blogspot.com
http://hologramuniverse.wordpress.com

The former Congressman met Amy Petigout and her 3-year-old daughter, Harper, more than a year ago. They've been together ever since. Kennedy said this committed relationship, where they each stand by one another, is a very different world from the one he's known in politics. It’s made him very happy.

This very news item was put up earlier on on this site and i remember to have put my comments then , supporting the idea of vaiable 'c' ! My own publications have conjectured this idea without any proof of theoretical nature. i ahppen to see the result of huge astronomical telescopes locate din Austarlia where the ligth signals from most distant galaxy were trapped and the speed of light measured indicated that its value was distinctly higher than the currently accepted value, which is treated as a constant. I published a mss ' Inconstancy of the Physical Constants and Strengths of the Force/fields ' couple of years back in an Indian Journal. It was based on a logic derived from some existing anamolies in Physics, specially in the field of Cosmology. Big Bang was a singularity event of huge dimensions and things should take up some time to get to a normal staedy state, as our present Physics has been studying for the past atmost 1000 years only. There has been a dark period too around 0-4 billions from the start of Big Bang Universe of ours!Thus, our basis for assuming constancy of the physical constants is highly unacceptable. Recent measurements of the value of the fine structure constant ' e/mc ' also shows varaition for distant galaxy 10 e 12 years old. Thought he change is slight. However, it is to be expected that the physical constants may have changed in an exponential way starting with BIg Bang, in oredr to reach stable constant values by now!

This very news item was put up earlier on on this site and i remember to have put my comments then , supporting the idea of vaiable 'c' ! My own publications have conjectured this idea without any proof of theoretical nature. i ahppen to see the result of huge astronomical telescopes locate din Austarlia where the ligth signals from most distant galaxy were trapped and the speed of light measured indicated that its value was distinctly higher than the currently accepted value, which is treated as a constant. I published a mss ' Inconstancy of the Physical Constants and Strengths of the Force/fields ' couple of years back in an Indian Journal. It was based on a logic derived from some existing anamolies in Physics, specially in the field of Cosmology. Big Bang was a singularity event of huge dimensions and things should take up some time to get to a normal staedy state, as our present Physics has been studying for the past atmost 1000 years only. There has been a dark period too around 0-4 billions from the start of Big Bang Universe of ours!Thus, our basis for assuming constancy of the physical constants is highly unacceptable. Recent measurements of the value of the fine structure constant ' e/mc ' also shows varaition for distant galaxy 10 e 12 years old. Thought he change is slight. However, it is to be expected that the physical constants may have changed in an exponential way starting with BIg Bang, in oredr to reach stable constant values by now!

What if light is just the chem trail of something much faster?

What if light is just the chem trail of something much faster?

Another thought on this subject: The c Einstein referred to was the speed of light in a vacuum. But what is a vacuum? In reality, there is no such thing as space completely devoid of anything. If there is no mass in the vacuum, there is at least energy. So perhaps the vacuum energy at one place/time in the universe varies from the vacuum energy at another place/time?

In particular, it's possible the vacuum energy at the time of the big bang didn't even exist yet, so light traveled [perhaps] infinitely fast. As the vacuum filled with energy, light became slower...

I've also been thinking about this. I believe that dark energy doesn't exist. Instead, it is the speed of light that has varied.

I'm sorry to break it to all of you 'scientists' but there is nothing to prove that the whole universe and all of the information in it wasn't created at this very moment. The universe is just information and your "billions of years" are just an illusion I'm afraid. Nothing you can say or discover will change that, end of story.

The speed of light is 3*10^8 meters per second, not 3×106 meters/second

'"[T]here are no sacred cows in Science."

A study of scientific funding does not support this statement. Where funding is concerned this assertion requires something that the scientific community finds dubious. Faith. Where funding is concerned science is merely another religion. Stick to the text...or else....'

Erm, isn't that just the economic principle of "market confidence" in action?

The fact that money is not invested until there is a case made to those risking their money on the pragmatism of doing so does NOT imply that science is a religion.

I've never heard of a religion adopting the views of one of the cults that they've spawned after being presented with a proof of the cult's beliefs. Faith doesn't work that way. Science, on the other hand, does.


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