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WARNING: THIS SITE FEATURES ORIGINAL THINKING...Jim Croce once sang Don't tug on Superman's cape..., which seems like reasonable advice should we not wish to anger the supreme powers. We do have this duality in our culture: the Superman that is the state collective, the leftist call to a politics of meaning managed by the state, the deification of "we're from the government and we'll take care of you" - versus the Superman that celebrates individual freedom, private property, freedom of conscience, free enterprise, and limited government. We humbly take on the latter's mantle and, eschewing the feeble tug, we dare to PULL, in hope of seeing freedom's rescue from the encroaching nanny state. We invite you, dear reader, to come and pull as well... Additionally, if you assume that means that we are unflinching, unquestioning GOP zombies, that would be incorrect. We reject statism in any form and call on individuals in our country to return to the original, classical liberalism of our founders. (We're also passionate about art, photography, cooking, technology, Judeo/Christian values, and satire as unique, individual pursuits of happiness to celebrate.)


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February 16, 2005
A relatively relative problem with relativity
Filed in: Celestial, Current Affairs, Science

Though I continue to be generally dismayed with the scientific brahmanism that characterizes much of the science world, occasionally an interesting idea makes it past the censors into the public dialogue.

Such was a cover item of the November 27-December 3rd 2004 New Scientist (yep, I broke down and subscribed - running about 2 months behind reviewing them!): Einstein Eclipsed The puzzle that relativity can't solve.

This fascinating article describes the behavior of a common enough science experiment - the movement of a pendulum - that may exhibit very strange behavior under certain conditions.

Discussing some of the things the happen during an eclipse, author Govert Schilling presents:

But there may be more to an eclipse than meets the eye. Swinging pendulums go wild as if some mysterious force were tugging on them. Sensitive gravimeters give readings that fluctuate violently. Gravity itself seems to quiver a bit. Or so say a small band of physicists who claim that these mysterious phenomena hint at a fundamental flaw in Einstein's general theory of relativity.

And immediately follows with:

Needless to say, such claims have proved controversial. Celestial alignments, pendulum experiments, Einstein bashing - it all smacks of fringe science that deserves to be ignored. Surely there must be some conventional explanation.

But allows:

Yet when physicist Chris Duif of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands published a review in August this year of the various explanations that physicists have put forward, he concluded that they all fail to make sense of the bizarre findings. So now researchers are planning to pack up their pendulums and chase eclipses across the globe in the hope of settling the debate once and for all.

And the heart of the matter:

The first indication that something might be wrong came 50 years ago, in the summer of 1954. At the School of Mining in Paris, engineer, economist and would-be physicist Maurice Allais carried out an impressive series of pendulum experiments. Allais's original aim was to investigate a possible link between magnetism and gravitation. What he found was much stranger.

Let go of a pendulum and it will start swinging because gravity tugs down on it. Einstein's general theory of relativity explains this relentless tugging geometrically: every mass bends the fabric of space-time around it, so other masses slide down into the dimple in space-time. Walk into a room and you subtly distort space-time, pulling everything gently towards you.

Left to swing freely, a pendulum will always trace the same path through space. But because of our planet's rotation, the plane in which the pendulum swings appears to rotate slowly with respect to a laboratory on Earth. This effect was first demonstrated by French physicist Léon Foucault in 1851.

Surprisingly, Allais saw the pendulum's rotation rate increasing and decreasing in the course of a day, which was mysterious enough. Then, during a partial eclipse of the sun on 30 June 1954, one of Allais's assistants noted that the pendulum went mad. At the start of the eclipse, the pendulum's swing plane suddenly started to rotate backwards (see Graphic). It veered furthest off course 20 minutes before "maximum eclipse", when the moon smothered a large fraction of the sun's surface. Afterwards, the pendulum's swing went back to normal. It was as if the pendulum had somehow been influenced by the alignment of the Earth, the moon and the sun. (Ed. Emphasis added.)

Pendulumcraziness

In an improved version of his experiment four years later, Allais placed two pendulums 6 kilometres apart. During June and July that year, both displayed the same erratic rotation. The work caught the attention of Wernher von Braun, the pioneering rocket engineer. Spellbound by these apparent gravitational anomalies, he urged Allais to publish his results in English and not just in French (Aero/Space Engineering, vol 9, p 46).

And what could this all mean?

To Allais, the mysterious behaviour sounded as if it could signal the collapse of Einstein's general theory of relativity - a view he still holds today at the age of 93 and with the 1988 Nobel prize for economics under his belt. In particular, he claims that the pendulum results point to the existence of the ether, the hypothetical substance through which light waves were once thought to propagate. (Ed. Emphasis added)

Needless to say, none of this sits well with the established scientific views - there is a rehash of postulations that the original observations may have been due to instrument errors, 'cool spots' projected onto the earth during an eclipse - causing air movements or pressure changes, people being more active during eclipses (as if their running around would affect pendulums).

But Thomas Goodey, an independent researcher based in Brentford, Middlesex, in the UK, a trained mathematician is prepared to investigate the phenomena thoroughly - having been disappointed at a lunar eclipse on October 28, 2004 - he especially looks forward to the solar eclipse which will occur on September 22, 2006 under almost the same conditions as the one that Allais observed in 1954.

So, at least one series of scientific observations will be conducted to test a new theory - isn't that how it is supposed to work?

In a sidebar there is also discussion that the pendulum problem may be related to another real world observation:

According to physicist Chris Duif of Delft University of Technology, the mysterious behaviour of pendulums during solar eclipses may be related to another gravitational enigma: the Pioneer anomaly. In 1998, physicists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, discovered that the unmanned space probes Pioneer 10 and 11 are slowly veering off their expected course, as if the solar system is tugging a bit too hard on the two craft.

Fuel leaks and heat radiation are among the proposed explanations of the Pioneer anomaly, but despite extremely careful analyses the problem has never been solved. During a special conference on the anomaly last May in Bremen, Germany, a wide variety of unconventional solutions were discussed, but no clear consensus emerged. Scientists from JPL and the universities of Bremen and Cologne have now proposed a European Space Agency mission to study the mysterious deceleration in more detail.

Some astronomers think the Pioneer anomaly is evidence of a minor but important flaw in the laws of gravity. According to Newton's laws, the strength of gravity falls with the inverse square of distance. But Mordehai Milgrom of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, has proposed an alternative explanation which he calls modified Newtonian dynamics. In MOND, the inverse square law only applies where gravity is strong. Where it is weak, gravity fades more slowly with distance (New Scientist, 20 July 2002, p 28).

Modifying the inverse square law, some physicists claim, would also explain the motion of stars and galaxies without the need to invoke huge amounts of unseen dark matter in the universe. It may even point the way to a successful merger of general relativity with quantum mechanics - something scientists have been unable to accomplish so far.

So let's see - observable physical phenomena that call relativity, Newton's laws of gravitational mechanics, and the dark matter cosomological theory into question - and scientific observational inquiry takes place in what 50 something years privately funded by an interested researcher?

At least it's something. Which is more than we can say about most of the worshipped edifices of the new brahmans. Now those are some capes to pull on, eh?



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People Pulling

There is something very strange going on that is caused by the movements of the planets. Including the moon. The statistical evidence shows that the same kind of effect happens when the planets make specific angles with one another. Seems like gravitational harmonics are at work. These effects line up all the planets and moons into specific orbits. The same thing seems to be happenning here. A kind of gravitic amplification,

EMCEE: Something is happening. I like that your term 'gravitic amplification'.

Posted by: Brian Johnston at May 6, 2005 1:26:17 PM

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