Speed of light slowing

Robin Mandell (rmandell@jpusa.chi.il.us)
Sat, 23 Jan 1999 13:37:41 -0600

Hi list.
Anybody know anything about this idea?
Any implications for origins or even universe's age here?

THE speed of light - the fastest thing in the universe - is getting
>slower. Physicists have devised a new theory to explain how the cosmos
>emerged from the big bang which overturns one of the central pillars of
>modern scientific belief - that the speed at which light travels has always
>been the same.
> The idea, proposed by two experts from Britain and America, could
>rewrite the textbooks and challenge Einstein's theory of relativity if
>space observations reveal evidence to support it.
> Dr Joao Magueijo, a Royal Society research fellow at Imperial College,
>London, and Dr Andreas Albrecht, of the University of California at Davis,
>say the speed of light immediately after the universe was born may have
>been far faster than its present-day value of 186,000 miles a second. They
>say it has been slowing down ever since.
> "If it's true, it would be a very big leap forward that will affect our
>perception of the universe and much of theoretical physics," said Magueijo.
> The effects predicted by the theory are to be published in the
>scientific journal, Physical Review D. One mystery that it seems to be able
>to explain is why the universe is so uniform - why opposite extremes of the
>cosmos that are too far apart to have ever been in contact with each other
>appear to obey the same rules of physics and are even at about the same
> It would only be possible for light to cross from one side to the other
>if it travelled much faster than today moments after the universe was
>created, between 10 billion and 15 billion years ago. Their hypothesis
>suggests it was so fast that it could have been travelling at 186,000 miles
>a second multiplied by a figure with 70 zeroes after it.
> Calculations based on the theory also give the most elegant explanation
>for the speed at which the universe appears to be expanding, which is
>thought to be just fast enough to avoid an eventual collapse to a big
> Instead, the universe would simply grow for ever though at a decreasing
>rate, and its ultimate fate would be a slow, lingering death as all the
>stars burn out and every particle of matter within it separates.
> "It is remarkable when you can find one simple idea that has so many
>appealing consequences," said John Barrow, professor of astronomy and
>director of the Astronomy Centre at the University of Sussex, who has
>collaborated with Magueijo and Albrecht.
> The new theory rivals the accepted theory, known as "inflation", to
>describe what happened immediately following the big bang.
>The Herald (Glasgow), January 21, 1999, Pg. 20
>HEADLINE: Yes, life's a bitch
>BYLINE: Chris Boyce
> the symbiotic planet: a new look at evolution
> Lynn Margulis Weidenfeld & Nicolson, L12.99
> Among many New Age followers there is a belief in what they refer to as
>the "scientific paradigm". This is a rigid conceptual structure zealously
>maintained by a vast army of blinkered scientists all of whom regard any
>challenge to their hallowed temple as heresy. It is a serious
>misinterpretation of the reality of science.
> There are many scientific paradigms. Cosmology has its Big Bang,
>quantum mechanics its Standard Model, and physics has its relativity
>theory. The game of science is played at its deepest philosophical levels
>by those with the vision not just to challenge them but to set up new ones.
> One such player is Lynn Margulis, and the paradigm she aims to disrupt
>is nothing less than the theory of evolution itself.
> This is not to say that Creationist thinkers will find either comfort
>or ammunition in these pages. Margulis does not deny the concept of natural
>selection any more than Einstein denied Newton's concept of gravity. What
>she proposes is that the random appearance of characteristics is not the
>only source of diversity in organisms.
> She is the champion of the belief that life-forms can and do merge to
>form other life-forms, that these are new and clearly distinct from their
>component parts, a concept known as symbiogenesis. The details of how this
>operates are what make up serial endosymbiosis theory, or Set. This is not
>to be confused with Seti, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence,
>despite the fact that the late Carl Sagan, guru of life in the cosmos, was
>Margulis's first husband.
> We are treated to some delicious insights into their early
>relationship: how at 14 she "literally ran into him one day when I was
>bounding up the steps of Eckhart Hall", how her parents were never won over
>by his charm. Such forays into the autobiographical are typical of the
>book. They serve to expose the scientist as a person but also to frustrate
>any expectation of customary science writing. Margulis's prose style here
>is particularly idiosyncratic but, one feels, characteristic of the woman
>herself. She makes no pretence at impartiality and is quite open about
>this: "Some colleagues label me combatative; others, unfair. Some say I
>only collect relevant work and unfairly ignore contradictory data. These
>accusations may be correct."
> In this volume we have a scientist giving us a declaration of where she
>stands and how she arrived there. Current thinking on the evolution of
>mitochondria - the sausage-shaped bodies found within the cells of plants
>and animals - and other organelles such as the chloroplasts that provide
>plant cells with energy from sunlight, is that their remote ancestors were
>once independent organisms, bacteria. These formed symbiotic relationships
>with other cells and this worked so well that they eventually co-evolved
>into single organisms.
> Margulis goes further. She believes that symbiosis plays a fundamental
>part in the evolution of all life beyond the complexity of protists,
>single-celled creatures on the borderline between plants and animals.
>Fighting strong opposition to her ideas has become second nature. For all
>that, SET has steadily prevailed, grown, and attracted an increasing band
>of followers, particularly among microbiologists.
> Interestingly, Margulis is also one of the creators of a notion much
>cherished by the New Agers, Gaia - the name suggested by William Golding
>for the planet -wide life system which they regard as a type of super
>organism-cum-earth goddess. Margulis's concept of Gaia is really an
>extension of her SET thinking. She sees it as one great system comprised of
>countless smaller systems - a biological metaphor for the Internet, though
>on a vastly larger scale.
> Many scientists find it an unsound idea. In particular the
>neo-Darwinists, led by Richard Dawkins. For them the idea of a life system
>that has developed without natural selection is just a little bit too
>unorthodox to swallow.
> Although she regards it as a complex system, she does not see Gaia as
>being alive. Indeed she regards the New Age concerns that humanity is
>abusing Gaia and will suffer "her" wrath as being deeply misconceived. The
>idea that humanity poses a special threat to this "tough bitch" which has
>thrived on global catastrophes across the aeons is one Margulis finds