Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Distant starlight

Rupert Sheldrake 
In my talk I said that the published values of the speed of light dropped by about 20 km/sec between 1928 and 1945. Carroll’s “careful rebuttal” consisted of a table copied from Wikipedia showing the speed of light at different dates, with a gap between 1926 and 1950, omitting the very period I referred to. His other reference (http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/lightandcolor/speedoflight.html) does indeed give two values for the speed of light in this period, in 1928 and 1932-35, and sure enough, they were 20 and 24km/sec lower than the previous value, and 14 and 18 km/sec lower than the value from 1947 onwards. 
1926: 299,7981928: 299,7781932-5: 299,7741947: 299,792 
In my talk I suggest how a re-examination of existing data could resolve whether large continuing variations in the Universal Gravitational Constant, G, are merely errors, as usually assumed, or whether they show correlations between different labs that might have important scientific implications hitherto ignored. 
A stock objection to young-earth creationism is the so-called problem of distant starlight. This presumes that the speed of light is constant. But Sheldrake draws attention to discrepancies in the observational data. Does this mean our measurements are inaccurate, or does it mean the speed of light is, in fact, variable? If the latter, then that complicates the appeal to distant starlight. 


  1. This could also be relevant to other problems like the horizon problem, which, insofar as I understand it, is thought mainly resolved by cosmic inflation though there's still enough doubt.

  2. I'm with AiG that the argument doesn't even need to be made. However, there is no theory explaining how the speed of light is constant. It is only assumed to be constant. In fact, since we know that gravity can change the direction of light, there is reason to think that not only is light not constant, but the speed of light is influenced by local conditions. Space-time is not as consistent as we would all like to believe.