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  Topic: Evolution Question #5, The Problem with the Speed of Light.< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
dougp59



Posts: 9
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 03 2006,10:56   

From www.evolutionsucks.org

A theory long held as fact since the early 20th Century is that the speed of light is a constant as summed up in E=Mc2 (Otherwise known as Einsteinís theory of general relativity).

Now, however, a debate has started over the question of is that really true.  If not, then Einsteinís theory gets tossed out the window.  

If the speed of light was faster in antiquity than it is now, than the universe is MUCH younger than currently postulated since the age of the Universe is currently theorized based on the assumption that the speed of light was, is and always will be a constant.

Question #5  Can you prove empirically that the speed of light has remained constant since the beginning of time?


Evolution Sucks

  
Reluctant Cannibal



Posts: 36
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 05 2006,10:14   

In answer to your question #5: No. I personally can't prove that the speed of light has been constant since the "beginning of time". I don't have an opinion one way or the other, but I strongly doubt that it has varied by more than about 1% in cosmologically recent times (i.e. during the Earth's history). I'm not a cosmologist myself, but I think actual cosmologists would agree with this. (Anyone who knows about this topic, please correct me, if I'm wrong).

Now I'd like to discuss some of the misconceptions in your question.

 
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A theory long held as fact since the early 20th Century is that the speed of light is a constant as summed up in E=Mc2 (Otherwise known as Einsteinís theory of general relativity).


The Special Theory of Relativity (of which E=mc^2 is one result) neither requires nor predicts that c is a constant. If c was bigger, E would be bigger. And both Special and General theories of Relativity have had very solid experiment confirmation.

 
Quote
If the speed of light was faster in antiquity than it is now, than the universe is MUCH younger than currently postulated


This doesn't follow at all. Here's a revised statement that I could agree with: "If the speed of light was hundreds of millions of times faster 6000 years ago than it is now, measurements of astronomical distance could be reconciled with a 6000 year old universe". Do you think that "c has always had the exact same value as today" and "c was hundreds of millions times larger 6000 years ago" are the only two possibilities?

 
Quote
since the age of the Universe is currently theorized based on the assumption that the speed of light was, is and always will be a constant.


Cosmological red shift is (I think, I could be wrong) the basis of estimates of the age of the universe, but it is not the only factor by far.

In summary, there is a huge logical gap between a non-constant speed of light and the assertion that the universe is very young. Would you care to fill it?

  
Reluctant Cannibal



Posts: 36
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 05 2006,10:43   

I would just like to add a comment on the Special Relativity thing: You might be thinking "Relativity does too depends on a constant speed of light". You will certainly see statements like "c is constant in all frames of reference". Special Relativity is constructed from comparisons of moving frames of reference at the "same" time. Different values of c at different historic epochs would not invalidate relativity.

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 05 2006,12:00   

Reluctant, I went looking for a reference for you because I seemed to remember a few years ago a young Brazilian (I think) physicist who theorized that the speed of light was different during the initial moments of the big bang and what the repercussions of this might be.  He did emphasize that this represented no threat to realitivity and he wrote a book about, but I forget his name.

Anyway, this is what I found and I was shocked, even though it has no relevance to the question at hand, I would have thought that this would have been more widely publisized:

Speed of light might have changed recently

  
Reluctant Cannibal



Posts: 36
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 05 2006,12:19   

Hi Skeptic,

you are thinking of Joao Maguiejo. I had heard about the fine structure constant thing in your link, also. That's why I left open the possibility of a percent or so variation in c.

But Douglas is a YEC. He needs to get from 12.7 billion years to 6000 years. He is looking for a multiple of hundreds of millions, not 1%. But I suppose that 1% is start.

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 05 2006,12:59   

Yes, I watched Maguiejo's lecture presenting his theory and he seemed very bright.  I always meant to get his book but I never got around to it.

Alas, as you say, this offers no comfort to young Douglas.

  
jeannot



Posts: 1200
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 06 2006,01:15   

My understanding is that, in the context of relativity, a difference in C means nothing. It's like saying "time goes faster, time goes slower". It's juste doesn't make any sense.

And what does this have to do with evolution, BTW?

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 06 2006,02:36   

Honestly, nothing.  It's just an attempt to recalibrate the mechanism by which the age of the universe is calculated.  Just trying to move 13 billion closer to 6,000.

  
Wesley R. Elsberry



Posts: 4491
Joined: May 2002

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 06 2006,03:55   

And, of course, the objection is just one of the old, bogus antievolution arguments.

See:

Claim CE411:
The speed of light was faster in the past, so objects millions of light-years away are much younger than millions of years.


Claim CE411.1:
Physicists Joao Magueijo at London's Imperial College and Andreas Albrecht at U. C. Davis say the speed of light immediately after the beginning of the universe was many times faster than it is now, and it has been slowing ever since.


Claim CE425:
The red shift from distant galaxies has been interpreted as a Doppler effect from the universe expanding. However, it may instead be due to "tired light." Photons age and shift to the red after a very very long time.


See also the Dopeler effect.

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"You can't teach an old dogma new tricks." - Dorothy Parker

    
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