Some Desiderata Not to be Overlooked

Before presenting these reasons I allow myself to give one example that in the accepted astrophysics things are not as solidly established as they popularly are presented to be. Distances to stars and galaxies of millions and billions of light years for instance – books, and articles and television programmes bombard us with those hard facts, but in truth they are arrived at by means of questionable procedures. Nobody – and nobody will deny this – has proven the Earth absolutely to be in motion with regard to the spatiality around us. Yet on the assertion that the semi-major axis of its elliptical orbit around the Sun has the in principle truly measurable length of 149.5 million kilometers, or about eight light minutes, everything else depends.

However, what cannot be helped we have to endure. The only thing left to me is to draw attention to an anti-relativistic indication that I deem to be fairly decisive.

heliocentric parallax geometryElementary geometry assures us that the triangles AS1B and AS2B (see figure 5) are determined if their angles at A and B and the length of the base AB are known. This Eu­clidean certainty is the first and the only firm step in the process by which modern astronomy measures – its practitioners believe – the distance to even the furthest distant stars. (That quasars are now upsetting the applecart somewhat I pass by) Paring down the matter to its essentials, the procedure is the following. Since the Earth annually describes, they think, the ellipse AB around the Sun S, the comparatively near stars S1 and S2 are yearly tracing very small, for the unaided eye imperceptible ellipses against the background of the more distant stars. Telescopic observations of S1 and S2 from the Earth at A and six months later at B, combined with the known length of axis AB, determine hence the two triangles. Simple trigonometry provides us thereupon with the lengths of Sun – S1 and Sun – S2, that is, with the distance to those stars. The angles at S1 and S2 are, of course, very small: even for the nearest star the total displacement is no more than about 1″.5, and only for some 700 stars the parallaxes are large enough to be measured with acceptable accuracy. The distances to most of them must thus be found by other means, that is by less certain indirect and statistical methods. Which implies modus ponendo ponens deductions that are in the nature of things not verifiable “on the spot”. Listing the more important of those methods the late George Abell uses in less than a page five times the adjective “apparent”, three times the verb “to estimate”, once the verbs “to infer” and “to assume”, once the adjective “approximate”, and last but not least the phrase “an intelligent guess”.(67) I leave it to the reader to appraise the trustworthiness of such procedures, and to calculate the probability of the obtained results being correct. Sufficient is it to say that, Copernicus being right, according to direct measurement the nearest stars would be 4.3 light years away.

Yet… “We know now that the difference between a heliocentric and a geocentric theory is one of motions only, and that such a difference has no physical significance”.(68) Referring the reader to the elementary geometric steps used in determining the distance to a star from a Sun-centered perspective, I hold that hence nobody can blame me for using the same steps in an Earth-centered model. Allow me for a few moments to return to that analogy of a super-scientific three-dimensional view on the two-dimensional “Flatland” paper Universe used in the foregoing. We – “bystanders” remember! – see the truth that the Earth-bound, viz. our pencil-bound observers, cannot see. And like Sir Fred Hoyle assures us, we may in our turn assure an imaginary Tychonian down there on the paper that his view is “as good as anyone else’s – but no better”. For, to quote Hoyle a second time: “Since the issue is one of relative motion only, there are infinitely many exactly equivalent descriptions referred to different centers – in principle any point will do, the Moon, Jupiter.. (69)

Suppose that we want the Flatland Universe we have created with respect to us centered on the Martian moon Phobos. Then it will be more difficult to shuffle the paper accurately, but for an observer on Phobos nothing is different. Furthermore: if we change the analogy to the one of a frictionless expanding balloon representing the unbounded and yet finite curved space propagated by Einstein, then the same considerations hold. Only an “outsider” can “know” – “insiders” can only guess and believe or not believe what the “outsider” tells them.

Unhappily there is a fly in the ointment of such a relativistic treatment of the problem. Whatsoever member of the Solar System we select to be the System’s centre, that treatment requires this member to move relative to the spatiality around it. Or, if we prefer to say it the other way around: that spatiality must be taken to move relative to the member in question. Returning to the Earth under our own feet: for the accepted explanation of stellar aberration and parallax it is a conditio sine qua non that our home in the Heavens runs a near-circular track through space, in which space light travels in a straight line through an aether to which, according to Einstein, the idea of motion may not be applied.

Apart from the question how we shall understand these words; and leaving aside Stefan Marinov, et al., and their “chopping” of radiation results about absolute velocities,(70) a fact is that not a single lateral motion of the Earth has been hard and fast experimentally demonstrated. Not only that: Einstein’s theories predict that this is the case for all celestial bodies, whether natural or artificial, moving with respect to us here below. Observers on all of them will always measure the absolute speed of light c to be c, unless perhaps we travel to the stars in the far blue yonder.