Friday, October 7, 2011

Austin


The way to Washington has a detour to Austin, Capitol of Texas. Austin is also well known for its lively music and arts scene. Near 6th Street you can see the home of author O. Henry. In late August Austin hosted the Armadillo Con science fiction convention. The weekend of September 24-25 6th Street was cordoned off for the Pecan Street Festival, full of live entertainment. That same week Austin hosted the joint annual meeting of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) and National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). All things change with time, and the growing size of this meeting is a sign of positive change.

At Thursday's dinner the speaker was physicist Stephen Weinberg. As many respected scientists do today, he railed about the mystery of an "accelerating" universe. He lamented cancellation of the Superconducting Supercollider in the 1990's and in the same breath condemned the International Space Station. With all due respect to Dr. Weinberg, experiments on the Moon and ISS may end up solving his "dark" mystery. The answer to the accelerating puzzle may not be in dark, but in light.

Weinberg's textbook on Relativity, which nearly every graduate student must study, takes great liberties with Einstein theory. He completely omits the i factor for time, which is a key to considering Space/Time as one entity. Weinberg completely ignores the possibilities in c, the speed of light. In his book he repeats an absurdity: h = c =1. The Planck value and c are definitely not equal to 1, and this may have led a generation of physicists down a dark path. If c were constant, the only way to explain supernova redshifts is by conjuring "dark" energies.

On Friday night we heard from Astronaut Pier Sellers, who devoted much of his career to assembling ISS. He brought some more NASA video showing Space missions. As astronauts tend to be, Pier was upbeat about space stations and the future. The scientific output from ISS is just beginning. We would happily share a spacecraft with Pier.