LETTERS TO NASA
PIVOTAL GRAVITY TESTS AT ECLIPSE
And now, the long-awaited... "THEORY OF EVERYTHING"
by Eugene Sittampalam
Page reviewed 27 April 2007
No matter how beautiful and elegant a physical theory is or how well it explains known phenomena, the theory would still fall flat on its face if it cannot correctly predict phenomena yet unknown.
There are over a dozen predictions in the book, most of which may be tested with present-day instruments and in existing facilities. We shall confine ourselves to considering just one set of such predictions in this page. (Three others are given in KamLAND Test, UCLA Test, and Two-Slit Tests.) The purpose here is also to get readers aroused and motivated, since it takes the greater scientific community to critically and conclusively verify the various predictions of the final theory, as propounded in the book.
The predictions in this page concern gravity. In this regard, three letters were written to NASA between March and June 2000. These letters are reproduced below since they also serve the purpose of describing the predictions and how the tests may be carried out.
Some of you (or someone known to you) may have access to lunar laser-ranging (LLR) observatories and equipment (that is, to precisely track and measure the Earth-Moon distance over a period of time). To those fortunate few: Why not have a crack here at getting your name into the annals of science and quantum gravity at the next solar or lunar eclipse?
The report of your
findings may be sent to a journal of your choice. (Physical Review D and
I was indeed
pleasantly surprised to get a response from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
First, readers may
like to take a whiff of a healthy breeze of change that may now be gently
blowing across NASA and the science establishment in general*. A sheer
coincidence, perhaps, that it should follow letters such as the ones reproduced
below and in the same fields of research. Typifying the refreshing and
praiseworthy trend would be NASA’s indirect acknowledgement of a rethink in their own web article of
NASA and the National Science Foundation are funding a new facility in New Mexico, the Apache Point Observatory Lunar Laser-ranging Operation or, appropriately, ‘APOLLO’ for short. Using a 3.5-meter telescope with good atmospheric ‘seeing,’ researchers there will examine the moon's orbit with millimeter precision, 10 times better than before. ...”
Read the full article in: http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004/21jul_llr.htm?list1012484
In August 2000, NASA researchers at JPL wrote to me, most understandably: "We do not see any influence of eclipses on the lunar range which is significantly larger than the range accuracies" (please see also below). Their esteemed profession and positions of responsibility wouldn’t have warranted any other initial response to a public query. However, it may now appear that they had suspected, on closer scrutiny, an annoyingly systematic orbital deviation. My subsequent letters, earnestly requesting of them for a restudy of both their past and future lunar laser-ranging data with a more wary eye, might have eventually yielded something in keeping with my predictions. NASA and the NSF would then have had also the moral obligation to resolve the matter once and for all. This may well have been the background to their readily funding the new APOLLO project to improve on “the range accuracies,” or to “examine the moon's orbit with millimeter precision, 10 times better than before.”
And the prime
mover for all this may well have been the then NASA Administrator, Mr Daniel S Goldin, taking a cue
from the closing lines of my appeal to him of 29 June 2000:
“FINALLY, THE TEST SHOULD PROVE MOST REVEALING EVEN TO THOSE STILL SKEPTICAL OF MY PREDICTIONS. THEY MAY – FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME – VERIFY THE EMPIRICAL VALIDITY OF THEIR PRESENT NOTION THAT THE INVERSE-SQUARE LAW OF GRAVITY ALWAYS HOLDS BETWEEN A PAIR OF BODIES IRRESPECTIVE OF ANY THIRD BODY IN THE SYSTEM. IN OTHER WORDS, DOES THE LAW IN REALITY HOLD, SAY, FOR THE EARTH AND MOON WITH THE SUN IN ANY POSITION, SUCH AS WHEN THE THREE ARE ALIGNED? THUS, ONE MAY CONSIDER THE TEST A CRUCIAL ONE – FOR CLASSICAL GRAVITY INSTEAD. And it’s a simple and low-cost one to boot, where only delay could prove costly to basic research.” (Please see the full text below.)
NASA’s seeming fervor now for a ten-fold increase in Earth-Moon distance measuring accuracy – after a 35-year lapse - though very intriguing, is indeed most reassuring. It is a discernment by the two great institutions that is sure to stand out in the annals of science as most noble and farsighted: One small step for NASA and NSF, one giant leap (in the offing) for science.
(Did my letters, below, really trigger it all? The APOLLO project is in such close wake to the colossal Gravity Probe B and LIGO. Is it also then an indirect acknowledgement of the fact that, in this age of ever-improving and overwhelming observations, the final GPB and LIGO results are destined only to join in the requiem for general relativity?)
gives another, from DOE in March 2004. This strangely followed publication
of my paper in Infinite Energy in their Jan-Feb 2004 issue with a
two-page introduction by the Editor-in-Chief, entitled: Why We Are
Publishing Eugene Sittampalam’s “Cosmic Microwave Background and the
Unification of Physics”. See also Generator Earth Central
for one more.
*http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-57/iss-4/p27.html gives another, from DOE in March 2004. This strangely followed publication of my paper in Infinite Energy in their Jan-Feb 2004 issue with a two-page introduction by the Editor-in-Chief, entitled: Why We Are Publishing Eugene Sittampalam’s “Cosmic Microwave Background and the Unification of Physics”. See also Generator Earth Central for one more.
The predictions here are fully illustrated in Gravity.
Readers may find the figures given therein to be
helpful in clarifying points in the text below. If not, please do not hesitate to write to me
The predictions here are fully illustrated in Gravity.
Readers may find the figures given therein to be helpful in clarifying points in the text below.
If not, please do not hesitate to write to me
------------------- COPY OF LETTER 1 TO NASA -------------------
The gravitational effect between two bodies is caused by their mutual shielding of the cosmic background radiation. (Each body shields the other from a part of the isotropic radiation, and the net effect on a body pushes the body toward the other; ref. 1.)
The initial apprehension is understandable, but the effective diameter of the cosmic body for radiation shielding is generally several times that of the sphere we see. Moreover, the radiation includes the sea of neutrinos known to overwhelmingly pervade space, which particles are now detected to have a gravitational effect (ref. 2).
The famous inverse-square law of gravity is now derivable from first principles (for the very first time!). And the long-sought theory of quantum gravity is now but a simple reality.
A decisive, yet simple, test of this final concept of gravity: During a total solar eclipse, the Moon falls in line between the Sun and Earth; the shielding the Moon provides the Earth ceases (due to the Sun's shielding from behind); and Earth would show this loss of attraction (suction) toward the Moon by moving away from the Moon. This excursion off the regular orbital path should also occur at partial eclipse. However, the blip should be most pronounced at totality. It follows further that the Moon in turn would do this 'shady hop' at a lunar eclipse, a maximum occurring at totality when the Earth aligns between the other two. (Classical theory, as you know, does not allow any shielding of the gravitational effect and would fail to explain the phenomena.)
The Earth-Moon distance can be measured today with great precision. Your serious consideration is therefore kindly requested hereby to check out these perturbations (outward drift and fall back) of the Earth and Moon respectively at the next solar and lunar eclipses (total or even partial). It is a prediction based on the final theory as propounded in ref. 1 (of which I am the author). If publicity is unwarranted here, NASA researchers may conduct the test as routine measurement and, if the prediction holds, submit the report to a journal of their choice. (If the prediction fails, they may then go public, if they wish, to denounce my work.)
There is already other evidence that gravity is being inexplicably affected during solar eclipses (ref. 3). As such, the prediction here is not at all wild or unfounded; and the cost to test it should be minuscule compared to what is in the pipeline for general relativity. (Sorry, ref. 1 is also a requiem to Einstein's world. In the light of the increasing data – it had to be simpler, the True Structure of the Observable Universe. And it takes just an engineer now to show it. Thanks to NASA for much of the invaluable data for the book. A simpler quantum mechanics shall now reign supreme across the entire realm of physics!)
Physics should see a radical reawakening across the board when our old notion of gravity – that this most ubiquitous force in nature springs from within matter with some mystical pulling or space-warping power – is first corrected. Complacency could only see research cost skyrocket further without an end in sight. Even the Nobelist Stephen Weinberg, a proponent of the now-defunct Superconducting Super Collider (estimated cost: "over 8 billion dollars"), did observe: "It is more likely that breakthroughs in theory or in other sorts of experiments will some day remove the necessity of building accelerators of higher and higher energies. ... How strange it would be if the final theory were to be discovered in our own lifetimes!" (ref. 4). The theory is indeed here already, strange though it must first seem by its embarrassing simplicity. And in all modesty I would go further to assert that we can now totally do away with not only higher-energy particle accelerators and fusion machines, but also our search for many constructs of the old theory such as black holes, dark matter, and big-bang relics.
After reading your line, "If we are to make grand breakthroughs in fundamental physics...," in ref. 5, I feel confident you will take a personal interest and give the matter due consideration and priority. This uncomplicated, yet pivotal, project could be a great forerunner (to blaze a more realistic and rewarding trail) in your envisioned "Cosmic Journeys" program. (Predictions abound in ref. 1, some of which may be considered by NASA for later testing.)
Please be good enough to acknowledge receipt
of this letter and do write for any clarification.
Thank you and best regards.
References and notes:
1. And now, the long-awaited... "THEORY OF EVERYTHING,"
Eugene Sittampalam, Vantage, NY, 1999.
(I shall rush to you a complimentary copy of this book; for a preamble and an important ADDENDA, please care to look up the book's website www.sittampalam.net.)
2. Reassessment of the reported correlations
between gravitational waves and neutrinos associated with SN 1987A, C. A.
Dickson & B. F. Schutz, Physical Review D,
vol. 51, pp. 2644-2668 (1995).
(Note: There is a misconception today that the neutrino can pass through, say, the Earth without affecting a single atom. In the renewed light of ref. 1, the quantum that is the neutrino recoils from around the equator of the subatomic particle of origin; being thus two-dimensional and radiating out, the packet drops in intensity with distance – but intercepts much more atoms than would the essentially one-dimensional photon; since the neutrino possesses energy, it also packs momentum – and transfers it in a chain reaction to EVERY SINGLE ATOM along the plane of propagation, subtle and beyond detection though the effect may be on individual atoms.)
3. Effect of the 1999 solar eclipse on atomic clocks, Thomas Udem et al., Nature, 16 Dec. 1999, pp. 749-750; and references therein on "a highly significant variation in the gravitational field during the onset of a solar eclipse" as well as on the effect on atomic clocks and pendulums.
4. Dreams of a Final Theory, Steven Weinberg, Vintage, UK, 1993, pp. 2 and 188.
5. Space Becomes a Physics Lab, Robert Irion, Science, 10 Dec. 1999, pp. 2060-2062.
------------------- COPY OF LETTER 2 TO NASA -------------------
To: Mr. Daniel S. Goldin,
Subject: Pivotal Gravity Test At Eclipse
Date: Monday 22 May 2000
Dear Mr. Goldin:
This is further to my letter to you of 27 March 2000, a copy of which is given below.
In just under 6 weeks, on 01 July 2000, will be the next (partial) solar eclipse. I do hope you will extend your pioneering spirit in this direction, too, to check out a potential world – the true and uncomplicated world of fundamental physics. (It will be a discovery beyond compare since at least Copernicus!) Your discussion on "how pioneers will continue to challenge accepted truths, which will lead to discoveries we can't even imagine," on 7 October 1999 at Salisbury State University, gives me cause to be optimistic.
There should hardly be a cost involved in the test here. The setup on the Moon is already in place. In 1969, as you know, the Apollo 11 astronauts deployed a reflector array in the Sea of Tranquillity. By beaming laser pulses at the reflector from Earth and receiving back the light, one can determine the Earth-Moon distance at any time to an accuracy of about 3 centimeters! The test involves just recording this distance on a few eclipse days. Hope it could be carried out early through the coming partial solar eclipses of 01 July 2000, 31 July 2000, and 25 December 2000 to a grand and historic conclusion with the total solar eclipse of 21 June 2001. The lunar eclipse measurements may take place in parallel on the nights of 16 July 2000 and 09 January 2001, both of which happen to be total eclipses. (Source: http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/eclipse.html.) For some eclipses, though, relocation of test equipment to vantage sites on the globe may be required.
The effective diameter of the Sun for gravitational shielding is several times that of the orb that we see. The Moon to us should enter this larger radiation umbrella some hours before solar totality and leave as many hours thereafter. The predicted increase in the Earth-Moon distance, therefore, should be detectable over this extended period. If this period, too, is recorded, it would give an estimate of the effective diameter of the Sun for gravitational, or long-range radiation, shielding. (Note: The Sun has also a countergravitational influence on its satellites, as expounded in ref. 1, but any shielding of this much smaller secondary effect need not be of concern to us here.)
Gravitational oddities at solar eclipses have long been the subject of many journal reports. Though mixed, they cannot all be ignored as Physical Review D, perhaps the most prestigious journal in the field, has carried several of these reports (ref. 3). The subject test here should now help resolve such matters for all time by first revealing to us – what truly causes the gravitational effect.
There cannot perhaps be a better back-to-basics contribution by NASA at this point in time. It is a simple test that we cannot afford only NOT to conduct: Its outcome would be far too great for science, NASA, and governments to ignore. Only delay can prove costly here to the taxpaying public. (Even Einstein expressed doubts about scientists ever detecting his predicted gravitational waves. Yet, billions of dollars are getting pumped in worldwide today to test this abstract and – what can now certainly be called – obsolete concept of ripples in some four-dimensional space-time. See: LIGO’s Mission of Gravity – Robert Irion, Science, 21 April 2000, pp. 420-423.)
The flat-earth and the geocentric societies all had to change their views with increasing hard data. On larger scales, the world generally turned out very different to what we had extrapolated it to be from our cozy little cocoons earlier. In like manner, Einstein’s general relativity, the current theory of gravity, has now seen better days of its usefulness. At the time it was conceived (1907-1915), hardly anything was known of the movement of celestial bodies outside of just our planets and moons. Galaxies were not even known then to exist, to say nothing of quasars and migrating galaxy superclusters. Galaxies, for instance, became an observational fact only in the 1920s. Is it now any wonder at all that constituent bodies of a galaxy or galaxy cluster do not follow the gravitational law that seems applicable to the diminutive solar planetary system? (See: Beyond Einstein – M. Kaku & J. Thompson, Doubleday, New York, 1995, Chapter 10.)
My services are, of course, available to you
and your test team at any time.
Thank you and best regards.
------------------- COPY OF LETTER 3 TO NASA -------------------
To: Mr. Daniel S. Goldin,
Subject: Pivotal Gravity Test At Eclipse – A Final Note
Date: Thursday 29 June 2000
Dear Mr. Goldin:
Please be good enough to take also into consideration this final item here on the subject. My letters to you of 27 March and 22 May are reproduced below for your ease of reference. A copy of my book was posted to you on 27 March.
You may rightfully feel that any scientific merit of my theory should first be appraised by peer review. However, I did (personally and desperately) seek many a top academic (at MIT and elsewhere) and journal editor to refute the breakthrough work. This was in order that I may not waste with it any more of my time or that of others, like yourself, but carry on with my normal life and (engineering) profession.
(1) In 1995, the renowned physicist, Dr. Howard Georgi of Harvard University was good enough to fully review my book’s first draft, though, for a fee. His critique proved very constructive but refutation fell short. He had also a second check from me, for $25,000, as an incentive for anyone at the entire physics department there to show at least one instance where my model would fail. (The simple understanding was that the money would not be a loss for me but, to the contrary, the person refuting my work would be saving me many times over by stopping me early in my track. And the person had only to satisfy Dr. Georgi alone to collect the money, which may be held as cash in hand by the latter.) Months passed in silence, and when asked if my second check could be returned, Dr. Georgi politely wrote in reply: "I have no intention of cashing the second check, but I had intended to keep it as a memento of this rather unusual experience. I hope you will not object to this." (I did not; in fact, I considered it a subtle compliment, coming from a top theorist and authority in the field of modern physics. Perhaps the great visionary had a gut feeling that one day that slip of paper would be a valuable collector’s item!)
(2) Dr. Dennis Nordstrom, editor of the prestigious journal, Physical Review D (Particles, Fields, Gravitation, and Cosmology) of the American Physical Society, too, reviewed my first draft in 1995. Mainly he was instrumental in spurring me on with guidelines to redraft and complete the book. (His reference: SF5602D; Theory of Everything; 24 July 1995.)
(3) Last September, Prof. Pekka Sinervo, Chair of Physics, University of Toronto, responded very positively (to me, a fellow Canadian). He accepted three copies of the published book for review by him and his department – regarded the best in Canada for graduate research. There has been no word from the good professor since.
I would greatly appreciate your contacting the above three gentlemen, if at all possible, for their opinion on the proposed gravity test. If they are not discouraging, perhaps you could favorably consider executing the test early (starting this Saturday?).
It is unfortunate that competent people like the above threesome cannot openly endorse an unorthodox concept such as mine due to the positions they hold. They can only refute it, which has not been forthcoming from any quarter to the present day. However, with an important prediction confirmed, truth and reason should prevail for this ultimate perspective on the nature of things.
FINALLY, THE TEST SHOULD PROVE MOST REVEALING
EVEN TO THOSE STILL SKEPTICAL OF MY PREDICTIONS. THEY MAY – FOR THE VERY FIRST
TIME – VERIFY THE EMPIRICAL VALIDITY OF THEIR PRESENT NOTION THAT THE
INVERSE-SQUARE LAW OF GRAVITY ALWAYS HOLDS BETWEEN A PAIR OF BODIES
IRRESPECTIVE OF ANY THIRD BODY IN THE SYSTEM. IN OTHER WORDS, DOES THE LAW IN
REALITY HOLD, SAY, FOR THE EARTH AND MOON WITH THE SUN IN ANY POSITION, SUCH AS
WHEN THE THREE ARE ALIGNED? THUS, ONE MAY CONSIDER THE TEST A CRUCIAL ONE – FOR
CLASSICAL GRAVITY INSTEAD. And it’s a simple and low-cost one to boot, where
only delay could prove costly to basic research.
With best regards,
------------------- COPY OF LETTER OF 30 AUG 2000 TO JPL (NASA) -------------------
To: Drs. James Williams, Dale Boggs, and
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Subject: Pivotal Gravity Test At Eclipse - Three Final Checks
Date: Wednesday 30 August 2000
Dear Drs. James Williams, Dale Boggs, and Jean Dickey:
This is to kindly request of you to make three further checks of your valuable LLR data.
You conclude in your very caring letter to me of 16 August: "We do not see any influence of eclipses on the lunar range which is significantly larger than the range accuracies."
This may well be due to the simple fact that the gravitational spheres of the Sun and Earth are indeed exceedingly large in relation to their opaque bodies. It may be perceived as follows.
The lunar orbit is not coplanar with the ecliptic. A lunar eclipse may therefore only occur when the Moon is close to the ecliptic plane at full moon. Even when the Earth's visible shadow fails to get cast on the Moon during any such half-yearly event, the larger gravitational umbrella of the Earth does still APPRECIABLY shield the Sun's influence on the Moon. Consequently, there is ALWAYS an increase in the Earth-Moon separation during full moons along these two stretches of the lunar orbit that straddle the nodes. This radial shift thereby becomes the rule, never the exception, and may not seem much different at eclipse to the unwary observer.
(a) The Moon can take more than the whole night to traverse the gravitational penumbra and umbra cast by the Earth during a total lunar eclipse. Calculations give this transit time as approximately 13.8 hours, using a conservative 2 and 6 diameters for the gravitational spheres of the Earth and Sun, respectively. (The solar corona itself can stretch to 6 solar diameters.) Both the descent into, and ascent from, the gravitational depression will thus be long and gradual for the Moon. Compared with averages on such full moon nights but without a visible eclipse, any difference can also escape easy detection.
(b) The plane of the lunar orbit makes only an angle of about 5 degrees with the ecliptic. Further, the gravitational diameters of the Earth and Sun, in reality, can be at least up to half times larger than the diameters considered above. If this be the case (which your present data may even support), the Moon would be in the Sun's gravitational penumbra for a spell on ALL full moon nights around the year. For example, 3 and 8 diameters for the Earth and Sun, respectively, will have the Moon coasting in and out of this eternal shade every single month at full moon.
(c) Gravitational diameters of celestial bodies, like their visual diameters, may only be determined empirically. (Without this prior information, quantitative predictions such as of range changes could only frustrate experimenters.)
Hence, your analysis of data may indeed be confirming the facts:
Thus, it may also be concluded that:
PERHAPS THE BEST WAY NOW TO RESOLVE THE
MATTER IS TO CHECK FOR THE FOLLOWING:
1. The gravitational shielding of the Moon at extreme situations near the ecliptic. At a full moon near the ecliptic, the gravitational shielding will be least in the situation where the Moon gives the widest berth to the Earth's shadow axis, that is, in a low-magnitude penumbral eclipse. In contrast, the shielding will be greatest at a total lunar eclipse when the Moon would pass right through the Earth's penumbral and umbral shadows. A detectable 'hump' may therefore be best seen in the latter when the fit of these two particular orbits is made. The last penumbral eclipse of 31 January 1999 and total eclipse of 21 January 2000 may be good ones to consider for this purpose. (The better total eclipse of 16 July 2000 occurred at the opposite node and may be compared with the best available low-magnitude penumbral eclipse at that same node.) The data you will be gathering on the next total lunar eclipse night of 9 January 2001 - with a wary and unbiased eye now - should also serve well to compare and contrast with earlier and later low-magnitude penumbral eclipse rangings. (Ideally, as you may agree, the data gathering should be from dusk to dawn at the various observatories to compile a good and continuous set of LLR data over as long a period as possible.)
AND - JUST AS IMPORTANTLY - TWO MORE PHENOMENA BEG TO BE CHECKED OUT HERE:
2. The bobbing of the Moon. The hump in the above fit will kick off a lunar bobbing. This subsequent motion should also be detectable and would suggest a countergravitational force from the Earth. (It is this subtle repulsive field from a central body that maintains its natural satellite in stable orbit under such perturbations - over the eons - without the bodies losing orbit and spiraling into each other.) The undulation gets maintained by the gravitational dip the Moon encounters at each full moon, in general, with a maximum boost in amplitude at a total lunar eclipse where the dip is greatest. These will confirm a perturbation (at full moons) and a damping and restoring action (between full moons) both of which cannot be explained by classical theory.
3. The librations of the Moon. The Sun's influence on the Moon also gets most lopsided as the Earth's shadow sweeps across the lunar disk during a total lunar eclipse. This periodic unevenness in the gravitational field about the lunar mass center sets up the so-called free librations of the Moon that you confirm in your very informative Science paper of 22 July 1994. "Without suitable recent exciting torques... the amplitudes of these free librations should have damped to zero," you also rightly contend. In the new light, though, full damping to zero never has time to occur – because the gravitational shieldings are frequent in their visits and they cannot also stop toting along and using their torque wrenches! Closer observations now should reveal the amplitudes here, too, to peak at a total lunar eclipse, as in 2.
(Thus, the bobbing is caused by the momentary dip in the Sun's effect at the lunar mass center; while the librations are caused by the eccentricity of that dip as it sweeps across the lunar surface.)
And when all is said and done in theory, it is researchers like yourselves at the real frontiers of science that ultimately matter for the advancement of science. More than even Nobel laureate theorists, when you speak, the scientific community sits up and listens and takes note. It would be a shame now to dismiss the subject matter out of hand should any more seeming problems come up with your data to date. Scores of serious problems did arise in my work but only to resolve themselves simply and beautifully since the overall concept here is solid. The perspective on gravitation, for instance, goes to explain all the known phenomena of orbital and cluster systems from the atomic to the cosmic without exceptions. Do, therefore, kindly check for ALL THREE phenomena outlined above. Any one of them at least suspected in your present data should justify the continued and closer investigation into all of them. The results, I'm confident, will go to only further validate this final insight into the nature of things.
Thank you most sincerely for your exceptional care and response to date. Thanks also for the Science reprint that you were thoughtful enough to post to me. It was received on 16 August. Hope you are in receipt of the three copies of my book that were dispatched by post on 18 August (to the return address given on your envelope). Any comments on the book, too, will be most welcome from your esteemed group at CIT. Hopefully, the book will give you that added zeal to continue these investigations to fruition - and to become proponents yourselves of the new vision!
------------------- COPY OF LETTER OF 20 DECEMBER 2000 TO JPL (NASA) -------------------
To: Drs. James Williams, Dale Boggs, and
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Subject: Jan 9 Lunar Eclipse
Date: Wednesday 20 December 2000
Dear Drs. James Williams, Dale Boggs, and
I do hope the night sky on January 9 will turn out to be a clear one for lunar ranging.
This letter is to kindly remind you of the test that could prove pivotal in the history of science. A concerted team effort around the globe could help immensely in this noble quest of ours to learn more of the uncomplicated rudiments of Mother Nature.
My last letter to you is reproduced below for your easy reference.
I hope to be at the APS meeting in Washington, DC, in April to present a paper on my work. Please let me know if any of you are planning to attend, too.
I am also trying to get APS to accept a sum of $25,000 and award it to the first person to successfully refute my model. (Seriously - now that some copies of my book are with you - any takers from NASA?) The abstract and covering letter sent to APS are also reproduced below for your reference.
With best regards and compliments of the season.
complete details on eclipses, readers may go to NASA’s website:
Finally, some facts on a typical gravity test project in progress today:
For want of a better theory of gravity, scientists today are flogging a dead horse – general relativity. The theory is as good as buried in the world of quantum mechanics. Still, one cannot say the exercise is wrong even if many fear that Einstein’s theories cannot possibly have much bearing on the real world. The flame of research and interest in science must be kept kindled among the young researchers, and doctorates and professorships awarded, to carry on the noble tradition at least until such time a better theory is found for the ever-inquiring mind to pursue. The chain, therefore, should never be broken. The cost to taxpayers, though, need not go to extremes.
General relativity research today is an international enterprise and a multi-billion dollar establishment. Naturally, there will be proponents and opponents for any such big-money venture. The individuals benefiting from the research grants, the proponents, will have their self interest to continue the research at least until they retire (without too much concern for results); the opponents outside will have their strong points, too; but we shall not indulge in either here. Instead, it may be more revealing to read between the lines of what the proponents themselves have to say to justify their exceptionally costly projects.
I was amused when I read the web pages of,
typically, Gravity Probe B. The following are some excerpts from those pages.
The blue highlights are mine.
Again, the following is by the proponents themselves:
(Excerpted from: http://einstein.stanford.edu/.)
Page 1: What is Gravity Probe B?
Physicists and engineers at Stanford University have created a wide range of exotic technologies to perform a satellite experiment that will probe the very foundations of space time.
Gravity Probe B is the relativity gyroscope experiment being developed by NASA and Stanford University to test two extraordinary, unverified predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.
The experiment will check, very precisely, tiny changes in the direction of spin of four gyroscopes contained in an Earth satellite orbiting at 400-mile altitude directly over the poles. So free are the gyroscopes from disturbance that they will provide an almost perfect space-time reference system. They will measure how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth, and, more profoundly, how the Earth's rotation drags space-time around with it. These effects, though small for the Earth, have far-reaching implications for the nature of matter and the structure of the Universe.
Gravity Probe B is among the most thoroughly researched programs ever undertaken by NASA. This is the story of a scientific quest in which physicists and engineers have collaborated closely over many years. Inspired by their quest, they have invented a whole range of new technologies -- technologies that are already enlivening other branches of science and engineering.
Page 2: Einstein after Seven Decades
Einstein forever altered our thinking about space, time and the Universe, but some of his most basic ideas remain untested and bafflingly at odds with the rest of modern physics.
Why after almost eighty years do we still need to test Einstein's theory of general relativity? The answer is that although it is among the most brilliant creations of the human mind, weaving together space, time, and gravitation, and bringing an understanding of such bizarre phenomena as black holes and the expanding Universe, it remains one of the least tested of scientific theories. General relativity is hard to reconcile with the rest of physics, and even within its own structure has weaknesses. Einstein himself was dissatisfied, and spent many years trying to broaden his theory and unify it with just one other branch of physics, electromagnetism . Modern physicists seeking wider unification meet worse perplexities. Above all, essential areas of general relativity have never been checked experimentally. ...
Einstein's Two-and-a-Half Tests
Different as Einstein's and Newton's theories are, within the solar system their results are almost identical. Only on a cosmic scale, or near extremely dense objects such as black holes, does general relativity bring large changes. Einstein in 1916 could only think of three potential manifestations of general relativity, all minuscule.
perihelion precession: Mercury's orbit around the Sun should gradually turn in its plane through an angle minutely different from Newtonian prediction -- an effect called perihelion precession.
starlight deflection: Stars observed near the edge of the Sun should appear slightly displaced outward from their normal positions.
gravitational redshift: Light leaving a star should change color slightly, shifting toward the red.
For over forty years, these three effects -- weak both in what they tested and in how well they tested it -- were all there was. Starlight deflection proved frustratingly difficult to measure. Mercury's orbit, though better, was subject to Newtonian disturbances. Least satisfactory was the redshift, which was observationally messy and hinged on the assumption (the "Einstein equivalence principle") far short of general relativity. This was at most a half-test.
Worse, competing theories soon appeared giving the same predictions for Einstein's tests of general relativity.
New Technologies and Negative Experiments
The 1960s began a new era in experimental relativity, exploiting new technologies -- radar, lasers, inertial instrumentation, hydrogen maser clocks, space. Einstein's tests have been tightened, other tests proposed, and, unexpectedly, a special circumstance has produced experiments of a new kind that do discriminate between general relativity and some of its rivals.
General relativity is a minimalist theory. Its assumptions are few, and (more remarkably) often where other theories predict a non-Newtonian effect, it yields nothing. The theoretical log-jam can be broken by negative experiments -- searches for phenomena that are absent from general relativity and Newtonian gravitation but present in competing theories. An example is the Nordtvedt effect, a hypothetical 28-day non-Newtonian oscillation in the Earth-Moon distance as the two bodies orbit each other in the Sun's gravitational field. Limits on this effect have been set by bouncing laser beams from the Earth off retroreflectors planted on the Moon by the Apollo astronauts. The resulting measurements have demolished several theories.
The Problem of General Relativity and the Need for Further Tests
The demolition work from the negative experiments, valuable as it is, does not prove general relativity. If one asks for positive evidence, the story is in one view much better than it was, in another distinctly unsatisfactory.
The Einstein tests seem secure. The redshift has been confirmed -- notably in the elegant NASA program Gravity Probe A. The perihelion data have been strengthened, and supplemented by evidence from an astrophysical object, the Taylor-Hulse binary pulsar (though other astrophysical data from eclipsing binary stars conflict). Starlight deflection is established, while a closely related new test, the Shapiro time delay experiment, based on radar ranging measurements to planets and spacecraft, has been executed very precisely.
All of this indicates (what few physicists doubted) that Einstein was on the right track. Other more profound phenomena, however, remain untested. Save for some indirect evidence from the binary pulsar, no data exist on gravitational radiation. Even less is known about a vitally important relativistic effect -- "frame-dragging."
Moreover, deep theoretical problems -- some old and some new -- remain. Einstein himself remarked that the left-hand side of his field equation (describing the curvature of space-time) was granite, but that the right-hand side (connecting space-time to matter) was sand. The mathematical structures of general relativity and quantum mechanics, the two great theoretical achievements of 20th century physics, seem utterly incompatible. Some physicists, worried by this and by our continued inability to unite the four forces of nature -- gravitation, electromagnetism , and the strong and weak nuclear forces -- suspect that general relativity needs amendment.
One obstacle to creative amendment, however, is the paucity of experimental evidence. How will Gravity Probe B contribute to meeting the need for deeper tests of Einstein's wonderful but troubling theory?
Page 3: Directionality in Space-Time
Troubled by the shortcomings of existing tests of general relativity, Leonard Schiff in 1960 proposed the use of orbiting gyroscopes to check unexamined directional effects in general relativity.
Gravity Probe B is designed to reveal -- and check with high precision -- two extraordinary consequences of general relativity, as seen by gyroscopes. ...
Gravity Probe B: A Different Kind of
The Gravity Probe B experiment comprises four gyroscopes and a reference telescope sighted on HR8703 (also known as IM Pegasus), a binary star in the constellation Pegasus. In polar orbit, with the gyro spin directions also pointing toward HR8703, the frame-dragging and geodetic effects come out at right angles, each gyroscope measuring both. What do the two measurements signify, and how does Gravity Probe B differ from all previous tests of general relativity, positive or negative?
First, Gravity Probe B contrasts with earlier tests (redshift measurements apart) in being a physics experiment, not a disentangling of complex phenomena in stars or the solar system. Events are under the experimenters' control; disturbing effects are eliminated rather than calculated out; exact calibration checks can be performed on orbit to authenticate the results.
Second, Gravity Probe B supplies two new, very precise tests of relativistic effects on massive bodies. Relativity experiments form three groups, based respectively on clocks, electromagnetic waves, and massive bodies. Amazingly, except for the possible radiation drag in the binary pulsar, there is still only one secure positive result with massive bodies -- perihelion precession. Yet, such tests are crucial in exploring the differences between Einstein's and Newton's dynamics. Compare, for example, starlight deflection with the geodetic precession of a gyroscope, two effects often bracketed together since both check the curvature of space-time. Starlight deflection follows from the electromagnetic theory of light plus a special limiting case of Einstein's equations. The gyroscope effects, both frame-dragging and geodetic, follow from the conservation laws for massive spinning bodies derived from Einstein's full field equations -- a critical element in the theory.
Third, most important, Gravity Probe B investigates the gravitational action of moving matter. Matter moving through space-time can be thought of as creating a new force -- gravitomagnetism -- which John Wheeler, dean of relativists, describes as being "as different from ordinary gravity as magnetism is from electricity." The frame-dragging measurement detects this force and fixes its scale. Commenting on its unverified status, Wheeler has said "It is hard to imagine a science so exposed for lack of evidence on a force so fundamental to the scheme of physics."
and Grand Unification
The frame-dragging effect, small as it is for the Earth, reaches far. It may underlie processes that generate vast amounts of power in distant quasars; it may clarify a strange physical hypothesis called Mach's principle. Above all, it may throw light on grand unification. Grand unification is the greatest challenge confronting theoretical physicists today. Gravitation, the strong nuclear forces, and the partially unified electro-weak forces must be connected, but how? Even the issues remain speculative but several clues suggest that general relativity may require amendment, and that the amendment, in the words of Nobel laureate C. N. Yang "somehow entangles spin and rotation." Says Yang: "Einstein's general relativity theory, though profoundly beautiful, is likely to be amended.... That the amendment may not disturb the usual tests is easy to imagine, since the usual tests do not relate to spin [i.e. frame-dragging]. The Stanford experiment is especially interesting in that it focuses on the spin. I would not be surprised at all if it gives a result in disagreement with Einstein's theory." ...
Page 7: Four Hundred Miles Above the Ivory
Tower: A Coherent Flight Program
In 1984, the NASA administrator described Gravity Probe B as not only an exciting relativity mission but also a "very interesting management experiment."
Gravity Probe B is expected to fly in the year 2001, more than forty years after Schiff's work. That it signifies more theoretically now than in 1960 proves Schiff's acumen.
The concept is simple: a spinning sphere, a telescope, a star, each referred to the next, and the star to remote quasars. The execution has demanded a strenuous interdisciplinary collaboration between physicists and engineers at Stanford and elsewhere, sustained over many years.
Interdisciplinary research is sometimes conceived, narrowly, as a bringing together of fixed expertises for a new purpose. Gravity Probe B needs more; hence its long gestation period. This is a physics experiment testing one of the most abstruse of scientific theories, general relativity. ...
Good management will strive to minimize risk, maximize the science return for the taxpayer's dollar, and -- very important -- enrich education by joining students with seasoned physicists and engineers at the frontiers of research. Risks will be addressed early; manpower deployed efficiently. Obvious concerns, but much thought and imaginative action to address them has been needed from three parties: NASA, Stanford University and the aerospace contractor, Lockheed. ...
Science Mission payload. in reviewing the program prior to granting his approval, the NASA Administrator remarked that the approach being followed would make Gravity Probe B not only an exciting test of general relativity but also a "very interesting management experiment." ...
Page 8: The Surprising Spin-Offs from
Gravity Probe B:
...But, beyond all is one spin-off, at least as profound, not to be measured in material terms -- education. Gravity Probe B has already produced 27 doctoral dissertations of extraordinary diversity, and now in its late phase counts 31 graduate and undergraduate students from eight different University departments working together at the frontiers of knowledge. To Leonard Schiff, the great teacher, this would have been deeply satisfying. It is a worthy heritage from what Dr. Frank McDonald, former NASA Chief Scientist, has called "the most challenging experiment that NASA will perform in this millennium." ...
– End of Gravity Probe B Excerpt –
In conclusion here, let us recall some parallels from history for classical general relativity and the final theory that I have presented in my book. Two items that caught my attention in the 14 January 2000 issue of Science should suffice for the purpose. In the article, entitled, The Endless Pathways of Discovery, Editor-In-Chief, Dr. Floyd E. Bloom, spotlights on page 229:
Such are the harsh realities of life even in the field of physical science. To get their work published in mainstream journals and be recognized among peers, researchers soon realize they have to ‘run with the herd’ and be supportive overall of any popular theory of the day. Theory and research thus most unscientifically feed each other, starving to death any good alternative theory that may tend to sprout. Thus, without a competing theory nurtured into strength and existence, any refutation of general relativity, for instance, is considered rocking the boat and is virtually shooed off with hardly a glimpse by review peers. This makes matters only worse both for rational research and for the advancement of science. New ideas, especially among the up and coming young scientists, too, get stifled in the early years and are not further pursued at the risk of not getting their doctorates and any of the lucrative - yet bridled - positions subsequently in the academe. Is it any wonder at all that not even a semblance of an alternative to general relativity survives today in the hallowed halls of learning?
In a protracted sense, the "N-rays" in (a), above, may now be compared with general relativity, which is considered to complement the accepted Newtonian gravity.
And the theory of continental drift in (b) may be compared with the final theory that I have presented in my book (after well leaving those hallowed halls!). Need the latter theory, too, wait forty years to be accepted? (I’ll then be forty years older; and also, probably, six feet under!)