We have to talk about LIGO

I’ve mentioned LIGO a couple of times in passing. You know, LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory. Rainer Weiss of MIT had a lot to do with the idea back in the 1960s, as did Kip Thorne of Caltech. Things got serious in 1980 when the US National Science Foundation funded prototypes at Caltech and MIT, and funded Weiss to lead a study into a full size interferometer. Construction eventually started in 1994 and was finished in 1997. Observations eventually started in 2002 and stopped in 2010 without detecting any gravitational waves. Then there was a shutdown until September 2015, when “the world’s largest gravitational-wave facility completed a 5-year US$200-million overhaul at a total cost of $620 million”. Have a read of the timeline on the LIGO Caltech website, and the FAQ page. There’s two “observatories”, one in Livingston Louisiana, and one at Hanford in Washington state:

LIGO facilities images from the LIGO Caltech website

Each is, in essence, a Michelson interferometer. That’s the interferometer that was used in the Michelson-Morley experiment. That’s the experiment which didn’t detect the aether and started Einstein on the road to relativity. That’s the Einstein who said in 1920 that space was the aether of general relativity. It’s funny how what goes round comes round, if you catch my drift.

Virgo and KAGRA

Of course, the LIGO “observatories” are no longer the only interferometers like this. There’s also the Virgo interferometer in Italy, near Pisa. Note that Since 2007, Virgo and LIGO have agreed to share and jointly analyze the data recorded by their detectors and to jointly publish their results”. Not that there’s much happening right now of course. Take a look at the Virgo website. See the news item that says the LIGO, Virgo and KAGRA collaborations have “declared that, mainly because of COVID-related issues, the fourth observation period, known as ‘O4’, will not begin before June 2022”. KAGRA is a new interferometer situated in the Kamioka Observatory about 200 miles North West of Tokyo.

Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

The big event happened on September 14th 2015. That’s when LIGIO said gravitational wave signals were observed by the LIGO’s twin observatories”. Virgo was offline at the time. LIGO also said “this confirms a key prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity”. The associated PRL paper was Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger. It was published in February 2016, and was co-authored by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration. See Davide Castelvecchi’s Nature article on LIGO’s unsung heroes which says the paper had a staggering 1,004 authors. It included these wave plots:

Wave plots from Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

It was accompanied by a whole slew of stories in the news. See for example Robert Naeye’s Sky & Telescope article Detection of Gravitational Waves Heralds New Era of Science. He said the gravitational waves altered the path lengths in the interferometer arms by about 1/1000 the width of a proton. He also said “team members estimate that the colliding black holes had the masses of about 36 and 29 Suns, respectively. Milliseconds before they merged, these behemoths spun around each other at nearly the speed of light”. There’s also Christopher Crockett’s Science News article Gravitational waves explained. And Tushna Commissariat’s Physicsworld article LIGO detects first ever gravitational waves – from two merging black holes:

NASA artist’s impression of the GW150914 merger of two black holes, see physicsworld

There was also Jennifer Chu’s MIT News article Scientists make first direct detection of gravitational waves. And Calla Cofield’s Space.com article In Historic First, Einstein’s Gravitational Waves Detected Directly. And many many more. Such was the worldwide scientific excitement that Calla Cofield followed up the very next day with Gravitational Waves: What Their Discovery Means for Science and Humanity. She talked about new windows on the universe, and said it was like a deaf person being able to hear for the first time. She also quoted LIGO Executive Director David Reitze likening LIGO to the Renaissance.

A new age of astronomy beckons

It all sounds great, doesn’t it? A new age of astronomy beckons, using gravitational waves instead of light. Gravitational waves which are a different type of wave in space. You should know by now that I’m all for waves in space. I think the theory of everything is in essence William Kingdon Clifford’s space theory of matter, where everything consists of waves in space. I think the photon is a transverse wave in space, an electromagnetic soliton. I say things like this: “When an ocean wave moves through the sea, the sea waves. When a seismic wave moves through the ground, the ground waves. So, what waves when a light wave moves through space? The answer is space”. I also talk of the neutrino as being a rotational wave in space. Not only that, but I talk about waves as being more fundamental than fields. That’s because I think charge is what you get when you wrap and trap a sinusoidal electromagnetic wave into a double-loop spin-½ “spinor” closed path:

Strip images by me, GNUFDL spinor image by Slawkb, see Wikipedia

Then the wave doesn’t look like a wave any more, because at all locations around the closed path there’s a superposition of two wave amplitudes that add up to the same value. So it looks like a phase-invariant standing field instead. Hence in atomic orbitals, electrons exist as standing waves. So, as you can imagine, I’m happy with the idea of gravitational waves. If I could snap my fingers and somehow make the Sun go away, BOOM, there would be a rapid gravitational field variation spreading outwards in all directions. A gravitational wave. Ditto if I changed the size or shape of the Sun, or moved it abruptly.

I wouldn’t be surprised if gravitational waves propagated faster than light

As to the speed of the gravitational wave spreading outwards in all directions, I’m not sure. People say gravitational waves propagate at the speed of light, but I wouldn’t be surprised if gravitational waves propagated faster than light. See Galina Weinstein’s 2016 paper on Einstein’s Discovery of Gravitational Waves and note the mention of longitudinal waves. Then see the Wikipedia seismology article that says P-waves are longitudinal waves which move faster than the transverse S-waves. Now, you might say they can’t be gravitational waves if they’re longitudinal waves, because gravitational waves have to be quadrupole transverse waves. But I feel open minded about that. Sound waves are longitudinal waves, and gravitational wave detection has been likened to listening to the universe. If space sustains transverse electromagnetic waves, it’s akin to some kind of gin-clear ghostly elastic solid, and longitudinal waves propagate through solids. So I think we should expect to see longitudinal waves in space moving faster than light waves. Not everybody will agree with that of course. See the basics of gravitational wave theory by Eanna Flanagan and Scott Hughes. They said “to be compatible with special relativity, gravity must be causal: Any change to a gravitating source must be communicated to distant observers no faster than the speed of light”. I think of myself as a relativity guy, but I’m perfectly fine with faster-than-light waves. Knowing what I do about the nature of time, I don’t think faster-than-light waves would be acausal. I don’t have an issue with faster-than-light neutrinos either.

Gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time

However I do have issues with some of the things I read. Like “questions remain about the nature of the graviton”. Or the suggestion that gravitational waves may help illuminate the inner workings of black holes, akin to an ultrasound scan. I’m not just talking about the popscience news reports here. Take a look at the LIGO article What are Gravitational Waves? It says “gravitational waves are ‘ripples’ in the fabric of space-time”. That’s not right. Spacetime is an abstract thing that models space at all times, so it’s totally static. There is no motion in spacetime. The waves move through space, not spacetime. I have no issue with gravitational waves “carrying with them information about their origins”. After all, we see using waves. However this raises a huge red flag: “as well as clues to the nature of gravity itself”. Don’t get me wrong. I think there’s some good stuff, like the 8 years observation of the Hulse-Taylor binary pulsar neutron stars getting closer as they lose energy in the form of gravitational waves:

Binary pulsar image from the video by NASA

But there’s other thing that aren’t so good. Like this: “All of this changed on September 14, 2015, when LIGO physically sensed the undulations in spacetime caused by gravitational waves generated by two colliding black holes 1.3 billion light-years away”. There a problem with that. A big problem.

Caltech was where Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann were full professors

As to where I’m coming from, I suppose I ought to give a little background. Like academia is a dog-eat-dog world, where it’s publish or perish, and where propaganda and censorship is a way of life. A place where you get told don’t rock the boat or you’ll never make full professor. Caltech was where Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann were full professors. See George Zweig’s Origins of the quark model and his CERN interview. Zweig said Leon Van Hove “deliberately and systematically tried to keep my work from public view”. Hence Zweig’s paper remained unpublished whilst Gell-Mann got his own two-page paper published and so established priority. Zweig was Gell-Mann’s student, and it looks like Gell-Mann stole his idea. Also see Finn Ravndal’s how I got to work with Feynman on the covariant quark model. He talked about James Bjorken’s 1968 presentation where “Feynman in the front row was smiling and “Gell-Mann beside him was visibly excited”. Yet here we are more than 50 years later, and nobody has ever seen a free quark. If you have any understanding of the wave nature of matter or the electron and the proton, you’ll know why. It’s similar if you know anything about the history of the weak interaction. In 1957 Gell-Mann and Feynman had a lunch in Santa Monica with Ennackal Sudarshan and Robert Marshak. Gell-Mann and Feynman stole Sudarshan’s idea and wrote a paper on the theory of the Fermi Interaction. Feynman also stole the idea of a positron being an electron going back in time, and shared a Nobel prize for the QED fix called “renormalization”. It was only needed because QED employed a point-particle electron, despite what de Broglie, Schrödinger and others said, and despite the unequivocal evidence for the wave nature of matter. It was the wrong fix. It was a fudge that was a disaster for physics.

Blind Injection

Yes, all that’s ancient history, but it sets the scene. As does Kip Thorne telling us all about wormholes and time travel in the movie Interstellar, and in the associated book Science of Interstellar. He claims it’s all legit physics, when in truth a lot of it is total bullshit. As was his interview What goes on inside a black hole where he talked about the “the up-flying singularity”. Kip Thorne has got form. So has Caltech. Don’t forget that Caltech were involved in the BICEP2 controversy, which left a bad taste in the mouth. Do you know something else that leaves a bad taste in the mouth? Blind injection. An inner secret circle at LIGO actually has the ability to inject a fake signal into the interferometers without the knowledge of the rest of the scientists. See the Nautilus article by Jonah Kannar and Alan Weinstein called The Astrophysicists Who Faked It. The subtitle is The inside story of the gravitational wave signal injection. One has to wonder whether it’s the whole story.

Grave doubts over LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves

Especially when you see Michael Brooks’ 2018 New Scientist article Grave doubts over LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves. Sabine Hossenfelder featured it on her blog, see New paper claims that LIGO’s gravitational wave detection from a neutron star merger can’t be right. The paper is called On the time lags of the LIGO signals, and was written by James Creswell, Sebastian von Hausegger, Andrew Jackson, Hao Liu, and Pavel Naselsky. The spokesman is Andrew Jackson, who has written other papers on the subject. When you don the deerstalker and dig for dirt on LIGO there’s tons of it. But a lot of it is by fringe guys like Steven J Crothers, who is adamant that black holes don’t exist, and by guys like Pentcho Valev who is adamant that Einstein was wrong about just about everything. It isn’t paydirt, and it gets in the way of the good articles, like Shannon Sims’s Problems with the LIGO gravitational wave discovery.

Screeenshot from Shannon Sims’s blog Plasma Pics

As does Jennifer Ouellette’s Ars Technica article No more doubts: Two independent studies confirm LIGO’s Nobel discovery. It says this in huge red letters: “the Copenhagen group refuse to accept that they may be wrong. In fact, they are wrong”. It also refers to Natalie Wolchover’s Quanta Magazine article Studies Rescue LIGO’s Gravitational-Wave Signal From the Noise. That’s your typical Quanta Magazine hype, by popscience lapdogs who never bite the hand that feeds them. Take a look at Smriti Mallapaty’s Nature article Paper authorship goes hyper. Note this sentence: “But large-scale projects leading to multi-author papers have created a new challenge for publishing: who is left to peer review a paper when just about all the experts in a given field are among its authors?” All those “experts in the field” close ranks when somebody like Andrew Jackson rocks the boat. Only they aren’t experts in the field. Because they don’t know how gravity works. Hence that huge red flag about “clues to the nature of gravity itself”. We don’t need gravitational waves to give us clues about the nature of gravity itself. We already know about that.

The curvature of light rays occurs only in spaces where the speed of light is spatially variable

It’s like I was saying last time. When you read the Einstein digital papers, you see Einstein saying “the curvature of light rays occurs only in spaces where the speed of light is spatially variable”. He never said light curves because it follows the curvature of spacetime. Instead he said a gravitational field is a place where space is “neither homogeneous nor isotropic”. Einstein wasn’t wrong about this. See what PhysicsFAQ editor Don Koks said: “light travels faster near the ceiling than near the floor”. We have hard scientific evidence of that, in that optical clocks go slower when they’re lower. Light waves curve downwards in space like sonar waves curve downwards in the sea, because the speed of sound decreases with depth. Then matter falls down because of the wave nature of matter, and because spin is real. See page 26 of Schrödinger’s 1926 paper quantization as a problem of proper values, part II. He said “let us think of a wave group of the nature described above, which in some way gets into a small closed path”. He was talking about the electron. Also see Hans Ohanian’s 1984 paper What is Spin? He said spin could be regarded as a circulating flow of energy. So simplify the electron to light going round a closed path. Then simplify it further to light going round a square path. Then think what happens if the horizontal components are curving downwards. The electron falls down:

It’s all very simple and straightforward. You can liken the electron to a little motor boat with the rudder locked hard to starboard. It’s in a place in the sea where there’s an East-West salinity gradient because of a nearby estuary. The motor boat goes round and round in circles, only they aren’t perfect circles, so the motor boat works its way West. Have you spotted the problem yet? What would happen if you killed the engine? The motor boat would be dead in the water.

The mechanism by which a black hole falls down just isn’t there

It’s similar for a black hole. Gravity isn’t magic. There is no magical mysterious action at a distance. It’s a local phenomenon, caused by the inhomogeneity of space. Caused by a concentration of energy in the guise of a massive star “conditioning” the surrounding space in a non-linear fashion, hence spacetime curvature. When light moves through this inhomogeneous space, it “veers” downwards. The electron falls down because it’s essentially light in a closed path, and the horizontal element of the path is subject to that downward veer. Only if you could somehow zap that electron with infinite gravitational time dilation, the mechanism by which it falls down just isn’t there any more. In similar vein, the mechanism by which a black hole falls down just isn’t there. If you could somehow hold a black hole in your hand like a tennis ball, then if you turned your hand upside down and let go, that black hole wouldn’t fall down. Is a black hole totally immune to gravity? No, in that if you threw your tennis-ball black hole at close to the speed of light, it would follow a curved path like a light beam. But it would have to move through a lot of space to be affected by only a small amount. If you threw it past the Sun it would be deflected by only 1.75 arcseconds. Your black hole isn’t going to settle into an orbit around a star, just as a light beam isn’t going to settle into an orbit round a star.

Half of zero is zero

Don’t think black hole rotation can ride to the rescue here. A gravitational field is a place where the speed of light varies. Not the “coordinate” speed of light, the speed of light. That means Oppenheimer and Snyder’s 1939 frozen star paper on continued gravitational contraction is the right description for a black hole. It’s like Remo Ruffini and John Wheeler said in their 1971 article introducing the black hole“in this sense the system is a frozen star”. Only it’s more frozen then they thought, with even less hair. Drop your electron into a black hole and it falls faster and faster because the speed of light is getting slower and slower. Falling bodies don’t slow down, and a falling body can’t fall faster than the local speed of light, so something else has to happen. What happens, is a gamma ray burst.

Gamma ray burst image by Nuria Jordana-Mitjans, see IFL science

See my Firewall article where I refer to Friedwardt Winterberg’s 2001 paper gamma ray bursters and Lorentzian relativity. The falling electron would be converted into gamma photons and/or neutrinos departing in various directions, akin to a fragmenting flywheel. Some would head into the black hole, increasing its mass and gravitational field. A falling positron would be converted into gamma photons and/or neutrinos departing in different directions. That means a black hole breaks the rules for conservation of charge, and for conservation of angular momentum too. The gamma ray burst put paid to that. Say goodbye to any notion of a black hole rotating at half the speed of light. The event horizon is a place where the speed of light is zero, and half of zero is zero.

Black holes don’t fall down

With no gravitational mechanism inside a black hole, it breaks Newton’s third law too. For every action there’s a reaction. Hence the Earth and the Moon orbit about their barycentre. The barycentre is the common centre of mass, which is about 4,600km from the centre of the Earth. It’s similar for a binary star system. But what’s going to happen if one of those stars is a big star, and it collapses? There will be a supernova, and the result will be a black hole. Then the mechanism by which it was constantly falling towards its companion is gone. For every action, there is no longer a reaction. You might point to articles about astronomers discovering a black hole orbiting a star. But they assumed the black hole is orbiting the star. That’s because they think the black hole mass is 6.9 times the mass of our Sun, while its companion is 10 times the mass of our Sun. They didn’t actually measure it orbiting a star. They couldn’t have done, because black holes don’t fall down. If I could snap my fingers and somehow convert the Moon into a black hole, it would depart on a tangent to its current orbit around the Earth, and around the Sun. Google on wandering black holes. There’s a lot of hits.

The inspiral described by LIGO just can’t happen

All this means the inspiral described by LIGO just can’t happen. It can happen for neutron stars, but not for black holes. Now, some might say that this is proof that black holes aren’t what we think they are, and instead are quark stars. I don’t buy that. After decades of observations we are confident that Sagittarius A* is 4.28 million times the mass of the Sun, but only thirty times bigger in spatial extent. Not only that, but we can’t see it. That must mean the vertical light beam can’t get out, which must mean the gravitational time dilation is infinite. Which means it really is a black hole. Note that the photon sphere can’t save the LIGO inspiral. At r = 3 rs/2 it’s way too small. That means that this picture just has to be the wrong picture:

Black hole merger chart from Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

There’s been lots more papers, see LSC-Virgo Released Papers. There’s been a Nobel prize for physics, half of which went to Rainer Weiss of MIT, with Kip Thorne and Barry Barish of Caltech sharing the other half. There’s been lots more detections:

Mass plot graveyard image by LIGO-Virgo/ Northwestern U. / Frank Elavsky & Aaron Geller, see LIGO

Only they couldn’t have been detecting black hole mergers. So what were they detecting? I don’t know. Gravitational waves caused by something else? Maybe. But at 1/1000 the width of a proton? Using a Michelson interferometer? When a Michelson interferometer didn’t detect the aether, even though space is the aether? When it’s a Michelson interferometer with a blind injection mechanism? And where the wave nature of matter means light and matter are in essence the same thing, in either an open path or a closed path? So it’s like trying to measure the length of your shadow using the shadow of your stick? I don’t know. But I am reminded of a little saying. I’m not sure where I heard it. I think it was to do with medieval cathedrals and relics and the bones of saints. It’s this: when a church needs a miracle, a church gets a miracle. If you catch my drift.


This Post Has 33 Comments

  1. Greg R. Leslie

    Great to see you back in the physics-based saddle again John. As usual I need to re-read this several more times in order to digest it better.
    More comments from me to come soon.

    1. The physics detective

      My pleasure Greg. As for the saddle, sadly there doesn’t seem to be much physics around these days. And not much else either. Yee hah.

      1. Eric

        Thanks for the article!
        Don’t get yourself too down. The world is a strange place now. People aren’t meant to be isolated, and as great as near instant communication around the world is, the internet is no replacement for real people face to face over coffee or beer. Hopefully things pick back up before we all get dreary. We readers respect the work you’ve put into this blog. Thank you.

        1. The physics detective

          Thanks Eric. I’m not feeling down at all. OK it’s not good not being able to socialise or go out to bars and restaurants and the cinema. And there are some things going on in the world that I very much dislike. But actually I like working from home. My problem is that I don’t have enough free time to do this blog and all the other things I’d like to do. Like, mess around in the garage with things. Things like electromagnetism. Did you read this one: The TOE that Maxwell missed. There are one or two things I haven’t talked about.

  2. Tom Andersen

    Thanks for the article. Always interesting and enjoyable. Here is a paper on monopole gravitational waves (these ones would be at the speed of light) http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0309448

    Here is an question I put up about them on physics overflow – wanted to see what the answers would be. https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/154899/monopole-gravitational-waves-exist

    I find your question interesting about the native speed of monopole gravitational waves – ones that are not ‘simply being dragged’ by other matter/light/etc.

    1. The physics detective

      Thanks Tom. I’m fairly easy about monopole gravitational waves. Whilst I wasn’t fond of what Kutschera was saying about pressure because the dimensionality of energy is pressure x volume, I thought the paper was reasonable. I also thought the answers to your stack exchange questions were thoughtful and sincere. Perhaps what’s a bit of a shame that the answers didn’t drill down into the way a photon is both an electromagnetic wave and a gravitational wave too. Or talk about what sort of gravitational wave you could click your fingers and make the Sun disappear. Obviously that’s science fiction, but a rapid size change isn’t.
      Talking of stack exchange, see https://physics.stackexchange.com/a/139830/76162 where you can read this about monopole electromagnetic radiation: “For this term to be time varying at some fixed r, the total charge must change with time, i.e., charge must be created or destroyed which is inconsistent with the conservation of electric charge”. I’m confident that charge is destroyed when a charged particle falls into a black hole, the result being a gamma ray burst. I’ve said I’d expect to see gamma photons and neutrinos, but I don’t actually know that. Whilst energy can’t be destroyed, you could in theory spread it out so that it’s uniform. Then there would be no gravitational field at all. So changing the size of a gravitating body is going to generate a gravitational wave.

      1. Tom Andersen

        Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I have more here on how one can get a p-wave speed much higher than light speed here: Einstein’s Ether as a Fluid ( https://gravityphysics.com/2021/01/30/einsteins-ether-as-a-fluid/ ). Basically if one looks at the ether as a slightly viscous fluid, shear waves would be ‘slow’ (light speed transverse waves) while pressure waves would move much faster.

        1. The physics detective

          Excellent stuff, Tom. LOL, “as everyone knows that p-waves can’t exist in general relativity”. That’s everyone apart from me! I learn something new every day.
          I noticed what you said about your 25 year quest for the explanation of quantum effects via general relativity. Have you looked at electromagnetic geometry? John Archibald Wheeler proposed the geon, as if he didn’t know about the Breit-Wheeler process.

          1. Tom Andersen

            Geons – yes. I think Wheeler’s problem was that he did not go far enough. People are stuck on electromagnetism being fundamental. So they assume the EM field is a separate entity.

            Electromagnetism fails badly at small distances, where QED has renormalization problems and realistic models with ‘charge – paste’ in a ball explode (related problems). Geons partly solve that as they have ‘no little ball of charge’ but then you lose quantized charge etc.

            My solution is to try and figure out why charge does not vary in the Lorentz transform as does mass, etc. I am trying to build electromagnetic effects from only general relativity – uncharged naked Kerr singularities have a natural frequency of the Compton frequency, have huge cross sections to Planck length gravitational waves, etc.

            Charge is a pattern or structure. if one accelerates a 5000 word essay to 0.98c – its still a 5000 word essay. Charge is also invariant. Charge is a pattern.

            1. The physics detective

              You might like this, Tom: https://physicsdetective.com/what-charge-is/. I’m pretty sure charge is topological. It’s what you get when you wrap and trap a sinusoidal electromagnetic wave into an all-round “spinor” structure. Cut a long thin sinusoidal paper strip and make a Mobius strip out of it. It goes round twice.
              Guys like de Broglie, Schrodinger, Darwin, and Born and Infeld talked about the electron as a wave in a closed path in the 1920s. However they were considered to be the enemy by the Copenhagen school. Pauli, Heisenberg, Bohr etc promoted Yakov Frenkel’s point-particle electron to spite Schrodinger etc, and then QFT almost died a death due to the “problem of infinities”. It was saved by renormalization, which was a disastrous kludge.

  3. RoyLofquist

    John writes that Black Holes don’t orbit other bodies or objects for certain reasons. My question is why does anything at all orbit?

    From observation, everything in the Universe spins. From electrons to galaxy clusters, everything spins. Why? There is nothing, nada, zilch in either Newtonian dynamics or the field equation of General Relativity that says angular momentum. How can you have a cosmology that doesn’t account for a behavior that stands out like an ugly zit on your nose on prom night?

    That aside, let’s talk about orbits. There are three ways for objects to enter into an orbit around each other – ejection, injection, and rotorooter.

    Ejection is easy. Throw a ball. If the speed is sufficient to clear the horizon and not greater than escape velocity you have an orbit of some kind.

    Injection orbits are another matter altogether. They are exceedingly, extremely rare. If that were not the case then earth would have millions of moonlets.

    The third, rotorooter, is electromagnetism. An electric current is associated with (produces?) a rotating magnetic field. An electric current in a plasma does all kinds of funny things. Check it out.

    1. The physics detective

      Roy: things orbit because they have some lateral speed, and they’re also falling down. If they didn’t have that lateral speed, they’d fall straight down. Lucky for us the Moon has some lateral speed.
      Yes, spin is fairly common. An electron has spin, as does a tornado, and a hurricane. The Earth spins, so does the Sun, so does the galaxy. But not quite everything spins. I don’t spin. You don’t spin. And like I said to Tom, I’m confident that charge is destroyed when a charged particle falls into a black hole, the result being a gamma ray burst. The electron spin is destroyed when it falls into a black hole. The matter is destroyed too. Lorentz invariance does not hold. IMHO just because something is common, it doesn’t mean it’s absolutely ubiquitous.
      Sorry, what’s that about rotorooter? When I googled it, all that came up is the US version of our UK “Dyno Rod” drain cleaners. A current doesn’t really produce a magnetic field. It’s just that when you move relative to a charged particle, you start to see the screw nature of electromagnetism. Maxwell said this: “a motion of translation along an axis cannot produce a rotation about that axis unless it meets with some special mechanism, like that of a screw”.. An electromagnetic field is akin to a “twist” field, only if you move through it you might think it was a “turn” field.

  4. Jonathan Henderson

    Interesting article John. I was also surprised to hear that gravitational waves travel at exactly the speed of light. I prefer your suggestion that it would make sense if they travelled faster than light. Of course, for those wedded to a constant speed of light view point they would require gravitational waves to be limited by the speed of light, because in the constant speed of light picture where all sense of absolute time has been lost (mistakenly so IMO) anything faster than light would result in causality problems. But as you have excellently elucidated it makes far more sense to consider the speed of light as spatially variable, and to recover a sense of absolute time – when you do so there are no causality issues, that I can think of at least, with the idea that gravitational waves travel faster than the speed of light.

    1. The physics detective

      The point to note, is that as a gravitational wave is passing through, the local speed of light slows down. Hence when people talk about using pulsars to detect gravitational waves, I’m interested. As the gravitational wave passes through, the pulsars will appear to speed up temporarily. Because where we are, light and everything else slows down temporarily. So when somebody tells me gravitational waves travel at the speed of light, I know that this isn’t the whole story.

      1. Jonathan Henderson

        yeah, but surely we can’t measure the slow down, because our clocks will slow down also, no?

        1. The physics detective

          Jonathan: our clocks slow down when the gravitational wave sweeps past the Earth. However the distant pulsars don’t slow down. So our measurements indicate that they’ve speeded up for a second or two. However they didn’t speed up, our clocks slowed down instead.

  5. Abhinav Rao

    Hey John! Well written! Is there any way I could contact you live time like a social media account, I have some doubts and chatting in comments makes it a bit tedious

    1. the physics detective

      Best to email me. I’m ever so busy these days, so email is best for me. See how you get on with that, and if doesn’t deliver for you, maybe we could maybe talk on the phone or on Skype. But please, not about some my-theory guy’s 80-page paper on quantum mysticism!

  6. Greg R. Leslie

    Holy Schmoly John, will the miracles ever stop? A few thoughts on your latest blog.
    1. Interferometers that couldn’t detect the aether or disprove Einstein’s theories. Are these instruments actually good for anything?
    2.Murry Gell-Mann among many others who stole other’s ideas,and other fudges and kludges added to the dubious mix of “facts”.
    3. LIGO second sight is off-line, but it’s input was included in official results papers.
    4. And most shady & sketchy of all, the “blind injection” sham !
    No wonder none of the breakthroughs in current applied physics have very little to absolutely nothing to do with Penrose,Gell-Mann,Hawking,Bohr,Feynman, Frenkel,Pauli,Eisenberg among others.
    From what I have read over the last few months, the magnetic aspect of the electro-magnetic spectrum is much more important in event horizons, gamma bursts, blackholes,nutron stars, regular stars. Much in the form of complicated twists, turns,and spiral screw shapes ! YOUR POSITIONS ARE SLOWING BEING PROVED! DO I HEAR AN AMEN ?
    This is the real miracles that need to be pushed not the old outdated junk theories.

    1. The physics detective

      Greg: Thanks. I don’t think these instruments are any good for anything actually. I’d say much the same about most “Big Science” experiments. I’m struggling to think of any of them that’s contributed anything useful. That includes the LHC. I don’t think the quark model is good for anything either. Or renormalization. And yet stuff like this has allegedly been vindicated by the Big Science discoveries, and then set in stone by Nobel prizes. The more I learn, the more I think the work by people like Penrose and Hawking just isn’t physics. From what I’ve read, electromagnetism is more important than people appreciate. I think gravity has a secret electromagnetic nature, along with the nuclear force and the strong force. As for my positions being proven, I wouldn’t go that far. But I’ve been doing this for a good few years now, and I’d say more and more people think along the lines you see here. More and more people think physics has lost its way. My mate James showed me an interesting article today. Here it is: in Scientific American. Avi Loeb said this:
      “Which is the other problem with science today: people are not only motivated by the wrong reasons; they are also no longer guided by evidence. Evidence keeps you modest because you predict something, you test it, and the evidence sometimes shows you’re wrong. Right now you have many celebrated scientists doing mathematical gymnastics about lots of untestable things: string theory, the multiverse, even the theory of cosmic inflation. Once, in a public forum, I asked [physicist] Alan Guth, who originated the theory, “Is inflation falsifiable?” And he said it’s a silly question, because for whatever cosmological data an experiment gives us, a model of inflation can be found that accommodates it. And therefore, inflation is in a very strong position because it can explain anything! But I see this as a very weak position because a theory of everything is sometimes a theory of nothing. There may be no difference between the two.”

  7. Greg R. Leslie

    I decided to undertake a daunting task that I rarely undertake, and that is to tackle reading Ludwig’s actual scientific paper itself. After trudging thru the introduction I realized I could understand the gist of it all. The following technical sections,not much at all. No worries though, I did to come to what I think are interesting observations: 1. The list of names used in the footnotes and citations are the true titans of physics and cosmology : Newton,Ampere,Maxwell,Lorentz,Schroedinger,Kepler,Minowski,Einstein and dozens of other highly respected scientists. The list of names consciously absent were the usual lists of suspects : Bohr,Frenkel,Dirac,Hawking,Penrose,Wheeler,Tegman and dozens more…………. ad nauseum.
    All of this also got me to read up on vortices and the screw like aspect of electromagnetism. In a fashion dosen’t our own solar system move thru the Milky Way in both fashions,and the Milky Way itself move thru the universe with the other galaxies and heavenly bodies the same way? I’m pretty sure this is what Ludwig was getting at whilst connecting this to relavistic frame dragging and gravitomagnetism ?

  8. Zbigniew Modrzejewski

    LIGO : https://quantumantigravity.wordpress.com/gravitational-waves/
    The Physics Detective — ” Yes, there are doubts about LIGO’s discovery, especially when you see Michael Brooks’ 2018 New Scientist article Grave doubts over LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves. Sabine Hossenfelder featured it on her blog, see New paper claims that LIGO’s gravitational wave detection from a neutron star merger can’t be right. ”
    There are too many growing doubts, and therefore it can’t be right. This 2017 Nobel Prize was another hoax ( after the Higgs boson hoax ), because there is no physical spacetime to wave:

    “ Today, the Big-bang theory has become the orthodox cosmology. It nevertheless faces a major hurdle in providing a convincing account of how the universe can come to exist from nothing as a result of a physical process. No greater obstacle lies in the path of explanation than the mystery of how time itself can originate naturally. Can science ever encompass the beginning of time within its scope? […] Despite its popularity, the big-bang theory has not been without its detractors. Right from the start, attempts by astronomers to date the age of the Universe ran into trouble. The age kept coming out wrong. There wasn’t enough time for the stars and planets to come into existence. Worse still, there were astronomical objects that seemed to be older than the Universe – an obvious absurdity. Could it be that Einstein’s time and cosmic time are not the same? Is Einstein’s flexible time simply not flexible enough to stretch all the way back to the moment of Universe’s creation? […] Important though Einstein’s time turned out to be, it still did not solve the riddle of time. The time that enters into physical theory, even Einstein’s time, bears only the vaguest resemblance to the subjective time of personal experience, the time that we know, but cannot explain. For a start, Einstein’s time has no arrow. It is blind to the distinction between past and future. Certainly, it doesn’t flow like the time of Shakespeare or James Joyce, or for that matter of Newton. It is easy to conclude that something vital remains missing, some extra quality of time is left out of the equations, or that there is more than one sort of time. The revolution begun by Einstein remains frustratingly unfinished. […] The broad conclusion I reach, however, is that we are far from having a good grasp of the concept of time. Einstein’s work triggered a revolution in our understanding of the subject, but the consequences have yet to be fully worked out. There are major problems which hint at deep-seated limitations of the theory; discrepancies concerning the age of the Universe and obstacles to unifying Einstein’s time with quantum physics are two of the more persistent difficulties. Perhaps more worryingly, Einstein’s time is seriously at odds with time as we humans experience it. All this leads me to believe that we must embrace Einstein’s ideas, but move on.”
    — Prof. Paul Davies, the Beyond Center, Beyond.asu.edu

  9. John

    “Only they couldn’t have been detecting black hole mergers. So what were they detecting? I don’t know. Gravitational waves caused by something else?”

    From this non-physicist’s perspective, that -is- the question. If all of the GWD’s on the planet (4 now?) detect the same pulse in time, then there’s *some kind* of quadrupole event happening. And during a gravity wave event, wouldn’t our clocks appear to *both* speed up and slow down depending on the quadrupole’s polarity?

    1. The Physics Detective

      John: if multiple gravitational wave detectors detect something at similar times, allowing for wave speed, then one would certainly expect that some kind of event had happened. But I think many people would like to see independent experiments, rather than close collaboration and joint papers. It would be great if we then had something that indicated a direction for optical and radio telescope observations. It would be even better if say the gravitational wave moved faster than the light wave, so the optical and radio telescopes could see something like a supernova occur. As to whether we’ll ever get that, we’ll see.
      As for our clocks speeding up then slowing down, maybe. I think of a gravitational wave as something akin to what you’d experience if you flew exactly between two closely-spaced stars, but I could be wrong about that. I haven’t actually looked at the quadrupole nature of a gravitational wave. Sorry.

  10. Doug

    I just tried to ask some basic questions on reddit about how black holes can orbit each other if light slows to a stop at the event Horizon. Man, it was like a flock of parrots all just saying ‘c is invariant’ over and over again.

    I pointed to the Shapiro time delay, but instead of anyone explaining their point of view, I was mocked and nothing I pointed to was even responded to, except that I’m an idiot that knows no physics, etc

    I’m amazed at how much you’ve figured out when fighting such an uphill battle all over the internet! Thanks for this blog!

    1. G.R. Leslie

      I agree, the Physics Detective is one of the very few truly open science forums where rational adults can have real discussions without censor or ridicule.

    2. The Physics Detective

      Many thanks Doug. I got shadowbanned on Reddit almost as soon as I joined. I couldn’t find your question, perhaps you’ve now been shadowbanned too! But I shouldn’t joke, because it’s not funny. The censorship that abounds in physics and cosmology is just awful. What makes it really awful is that it’s censorship of bona-fide scientific knowledge by people who claim to be the custodians of scientific knowledge. What’s worrying is that in recent years we’ve seen a similar “outrageous censorship” spreading out from academia into the world at large. Not good. I have concerns about the Online Harms bill here in the UK.
      Greg: thanks. Quora is pretty good. I don’t know if I’ve ever said, but I have a website called physicsdiscussionforum.org . It’s a forum, But sadly these days I don’t have much free time to talk there.

      1. JB

        Hey there, I’ve been extremely distressed realizing the pseudoscience and general propagandistic nature of the LIGO activity over the last few hours, and was relieved to find your analysis and subsequent discussion. Based on what you two discussed about elemental problems in the standard model, I thought you might enjoy reading about the Corduus Non-Local Hidden-Variable theory if you hadn’t already. I’m not sure it would be falsifiable and it uncomfortably reminds me of strings, but it disavows multidimensionality beyond the three physical and offers empirical explanations for the suggested “inherent” yet magically non-empirical properties of quantum mechanics such as tunneling, spin and entanglement.


  11. Henry DelForn

    We have to talk about LIGO … yeah, we do. Two things: 1) the weakest wave it can detect has 10E37 gravitons so you have to improve detection by 37 orders of magnitude to see one graviton; 2) on the other hand, it did detect a movement of 10-20m in their 40 kg mirrors by quantum vacuum fluctuations.

    1. The Physics Detective

      I don’t think there are any gravitons per se, Henry. I don’t have an issue with gravitational waves, but I do have an issue with messenger particles. In electromagnetism people talk of virtual photons, but IMHO it’s important to remember that 1) they are virtual as opposed to real 2) they are not short lived real particles that pop in and out of existence, and 3) they are not the same thing as quantum fluctuations. Hydrogen atoms don’t twinkle, magnets don’t shine.

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