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Maybe the speed of light isn’t constant?

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From Stuart Clark at New Scientist:

The universe’s ultimate speed limit seems set in stone. But there’s good reason to believe it might once have been faster – and may still be changing now

Light’s constant, finite speed is a brake on our ambitions of interstellar colonisation. Our galaxy is 100,000 light years across, and it is more than four years’ light travelling time even to Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the sun and home, possibly, to a habitable planet rather like Earth. More.

Oddly, such a position was once widely derided as a young Earth creationist one.

It’s getting harder to be a respectable bigot these days. Just pounding the lectern in favor of a rock hard position and dumping insults on anyone who disagrees…

See also: Loophole in laws of physics enables light speed to increase?

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6 Replies to “Maybe the speed of light isn’t constant?

  1. 1
    nivera_79 says:

    I have no preference for a young universe over an old one, since I’m a muslim and we have no doctrinal or scriptural concrete Age of the earth and the universe, but I would be really fun that YECers were right after all about the age of the uuniverse, I’d love to see the face of all the bible-mocking braggarts.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    The problem with this is that the fine-tuning argument holds that there are fundamental constants that cannot vary by much. If they did, this Universe could not exist. In relativity theory, the speed of light is a constant. If that can vary, why not the others and then what price the fine-tuning argument?

  3. 3
    Charles says:

    Using the You Tube video transcript as my foil….

    0:14 But the Big Bang has a
    0:16 problem. The universe we see is too uniform. In the
    0:21 first instants of the big bang, some
    0:22 parts of the universe would have been
    0:24 hotter or colder than other parts. But
    0:26 today everywhere you look
    0:28 the universe is basically the same
    0:29 temperature, and that shouldn’t really be
    0:32 possible.

    Reiterating “In the first instants of the big bang, some parts of the universe would have been hotter or colder than other parts.”

    The Big Bang began from an infinitessimal point, smaller than the Planck distance. At that distance, everything was in contact and at equalized temperatures, and conditions would be identical everywhere. As the universe expanded, regions moved out of contact and differences can develop, but to within a few decimal places, temperature, having been equalized initially, wouldn’t need to equalize and remained consistent, whereas density changed (it clumped), for example.

    The “horizon problem” always presumes, without evidence or rigorous justification that temperatures would have been different (a cosmological “just so” story), and can’t equalize now due to regions being further apart than light can travel, thus we should see the temperature differences presumed to have existed intially.

    More likley, temperatures were always consistent, as the distances over which they might have varied are too small, initially. Temperatures began consistent at planck distances (that’s another way of saying energy began evenly distributed) and the resulting temperatures remained evenly distributed throughout the expansion.

  4. 4
    Querius says:

    If every point in the presumed inflationary universe was once at the center, why should there be any difference in temperature between these center points?

    What process would heat one up and not another one nearby?

    -Q

  5. 5
    Pearlman says:

    a big bang does not require the weak /faulty assumption of ongoing cosmic expansion so whole bit is based on faulty premise.
    see SPIRAL cosmological redshift hypothesis, a big bang model that explains why there is no ongoing cosmic expansion and no horizon problem, so no need to postulate light movement above conventional light speed

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    First off, the “big bang” is identical to dimensional inflation. It has no separate existence.

    Second, light interacts with virtual particles (look up the Casimir effect), the absence of which allows light to travel faster than the speed of light in a vacuum. This has been experimentally verified.

    Thus, one can argue that an increase in the density of virtual particles will cause light to travel slower (as it already does in glass and water). Conversely . . .

    What could cause a decrease in the density of virtual particles? Two plates that are so close together that they prevent the appearance of virtual particles, or . . . an inflationary universe.

    Such a model would produce a red shift from inflation alone, which is what we observe.

    -Q

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