With Eric Clapton’s blues mellowing the background heat, I sit and stare at the screen, wondering how I’m going to be able to tell you the latest news from Skywalker’s jaundiced perspective. I looked at last November’s Breaking News, which announced with schoolboy excitement that I had received a letter from Sir Patrick Moore inviting me to Selsey. That was a year ago! Next month I will do my annual review, so for now let me give you just the latest.
On the personal front, it has been hectic as usual, and has been dominated by the Second Crisis in Cosmology Conference and the duties I have to fulfill in that regard. The committee must still collect full papers from all presenters and publish these in the proceedings. At the invitation of Alternative Cosmology Group founder Eric Lerner, I now find myself the editor emeritus (that means unpaid servant) of the ACG newsletter. This is a wonderful opportunity to broaden my horizons, for it will compel me to more thoroughly scrutinise the arXiv, and recommend papers in a reading list, with summary introductions. It’s quite a job, but very rewarding.
The latest edition (October/November) is my first effort—check it out at www.cosmology.info . In addition, I am drafting an article on the conference for American Scientist, plus reviews for Progress in Physics and 21st Century Science & Technology. And, of course, MNASSA, if they dare defy certain individuals who will not even contemplate this debate!
The conference was, in the view of participants and observers I spoke to, a great success. Some 40 papers were presented, and the mix of researchers was completely new. By my count, only six participants in CCC1 in 2005 were present at CCC2 (although several were on the programme as co-authors). The general standard of work presented was exceptional, and we were privy to some of the latest results and analyses.
The conference was organised along lines quite different from the first one. Papers were grouped into 8 panels by subject, and each panel had a chairman who managed the presentations, gave a panel summary when those speakers had finished, and then gathered the speakers for discussion and further questions.
My panel theme was quasars, and I was naturally delighted that keynote speaker Halton Arp was in my group. Because he is now advised against extended air travel, he appeared at the conference via video link from the Max Planck Institute in Germany. He presented a summary of his latest results, from a study of 118000 galaxies and 25000 quasars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey. Decades of criticism (in any case totally invalid) that Arp’s quasar sample base lacked numerical significance was firmly trashed. Statistically, the observational evidence for intrinsic redshift is now simply overwhelming. Deal with it, Big Bangers! It’s not going to go away…
Some very interesting results were obtained by various investigators by simulating ultra-large-scale structure using the Hubble law to plot positions in what is now called redshift space. Particularly impressive was the contribution of experimental physicist John Hartnett from the University of Western Australia. Despite, as I publicly pointed out, his country’s abject inability to play rugby properly, and notwithstanding, as he quickly responded, my country’s failure to do anything decent on the cricket pitch, we became friends and spent a lot of time in discussion.
Hartnett’s paper also uses data from the SDSS and 2dF surveys. A Fourier analysis of those data reveals a novel rendering of periodic redshifts, showing galaxies preferentially located in concentric shells with periodic spacing of delta z = 0.0102, 0.0246, and 0.0448. It’s analogous to the layers in an onion, with our point of observation in the middle. Prof Hartnett believes that this is a real effect, not an observational artefact, and that seems to indicate, like the Fingers of God anomaly I mentioned in my symposium paper, that we are at the centre of the Universe. Personally, I doubt it. I think it’s just the warp we get when we mistakenly assume that redshift equals radial distance. If Hartnett’s ongoing investigations reveal that it is centred on some nearby point rather than Earth, it would be a real space effect, and that would introduce us to the largest structure ever discovered—some billions of light years across! Periodicity in cosmological redshift values is now well established. The question is, what does that tell us?
Charles “Chuck” Gallo is another CCC2 cosmologist that I have found synergy with. Like me, he is applying Newtonian Mechanics to astrophysical structure and coming up with some interesting answers. He and colleague James Feng have used classical mechanics to simulate the mass distribution in galaxy disks, and found an answer to the rotation problem. It is a stunning piece of work, and deserves a lot of attention from the scientific community. It requires neither a modification of Newton’s laws (as MOND does), nor any supernatural, transparent “dark” stuff, like the lambda-CDM concordance model does.
Chuck, Brazilian Professor Andre Assis, and I now lead the charge to revert to pre-relativistic mechanics in astrophysics, embracing now my own work on the perihelion of Mercury, and Dave Thomson’s courageous reworking of Maxwell’s equations with non-Lorentzian (Galilean) transforms. It’s a brave new world, ladies and gentlemen!
One of the “softer” papers at the conference was an historical perspective by Andre Assis entitled Hubble’s Cosmology: From a Finite Expanding Universe to a Static Endless Universe (arXiv: astro-ph/0806.4481). Like many authors in both popular and formal science, I was guilty of blaming Edwin Hubble for the Hubble Law, with just a token footnote in The Virtue of Heresy acknowledging Hubble’s dissent. It turns out that expansion was not his interpretation at all, and Dr Assis shows by quoting from Hubble’s publications that he had remained deeply sceptical of universal expansion all his life, and had by the end of his career developed a personal cosmology built around a static, infinite Universe! That, my friends, from the “discoverer” of universal expansion. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Before I go, let me answer a question that has been raised by several of you concerning the remarks directed at me by Prof Phil Charles as he left the ASSA symposium. Yes, I did respond to him with a rebuttal. Obviously, since I had no opportunity to do so at the symposium, I put my counter-arguments in the form of a letter to Prof Charles, and emailed it to him on 21st August, 2008, at 01:02pm. That’s two months ago. I have not yet been honoured with a reply or acknowledgement. What do you think I should do? Graciously accept that he has no further argument, and concedes defeat? Or perhaps submit it to a top, widely read publication like Ndaba in the form of an open letter, and see if that wakes somebody up at the SAAO? Come on, fellas, we’re all astronomers here, trying to work this thing out. Talk to us.