A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Unrelated Items

Bending the Aether

Space is full of lines.
NASA has discovered that Einstein was right, again. 
Time and space, according to Einstein's theories of relativity, are woven together, forming a four-dimensional fabric called "space-time." The mass of Earth dimples this fabric, much like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline. Gravity, says Einstein, is simply the motion of objects following the curvaceous [sic] lines of the dimple. 
This is what Einstein in his 1920 speech in Leyden called the "relativistic ether." 
If Earth were stationary, that would be the end of the story. But Earth is not stationary. Our planet spins, and the spin should twist the dimple, slightly, pulling it around into a 4-dimensional swirl. This is what GP-B went to space in 2004 to check. 
There is something that seems vaguely Michelson-Hale-ish about the business.
Put a spinning gyroscope into orbit around the Earth, with the spin axis pointed toward some distant star as a fixed reference point. Free from external forces, the gyroscope's axis should continue pointing at the star--forever. But if space is twisted, the direction of the gyroscope's axis should drift over time. By noting this change in direction relative to the star, the twists of space-time could be measured. 
So apparently the aether does spin with the earth, which may be why the Michelson-Morley experiment failed. 

Uncertainty About Uncertainty

Some physicists are questioning the ontological status of the Uncertainty Principle and questioning the received wisdom of Bohr and Heisenberg.  Now, Wolfgang Smith once wrote that a physical theory that results in singularities and paradoxes is probably a sign of a faulty metaphysics behind the theory, but one does wonder if the Name of Prof. Callender is whispered in the same halls as those of Bohr and Heisenberg. 

Away with that Pagan Nonsense!

Last week (19 July) was the feast of St. Macrina the Younger, described by Brandon at Siris.  On her deathbed, Macrina maintained a Platonic dialogue with her kid brother St. Gregory of Nyssa.  Some folks in that day and age were saying that because automata - clever machines devised for the emperor - seemed to work on their own, there was no need for the God hypothesis.  Macrina showed him how automata supported the argument for God.  That's right.  Those folks have always been with us. 


  1. It's not just gravity, according to what I've seen the other three forces (maybe four)are also the result of "fields" produced in spacetime by some agency. In short, not only is the universe bent, it's bent in different ways.

  2. Those folks have always been with us.

    Speaking of which, I'm very much looking forward to the inevitable TOFSpot takedown of Stephen Pinker's latest bit of intellectual vomit. :-)