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:
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.
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.