Barry Setterfield, November 15, 2008



On Monday 20th October 2008 Tom Bridgman published the following two graphs (the first two) based on the article “History of the Speed of Light Measurements” on our website. This paper was written to track the history of these measurements, the methods used, and the analyses made by others regarding the collected data. Some of the data points were discounted by the original experimenters themselves as being either the result of instrumental fine-tuning or basic instrumental error. Bridgman evidently did not read these sections of the paper as he has included those data points which were dicounted so long ago in his critique of my work.

Then he states he is criticizing a recently published paper of mine, "Reviewing a Plasma Universe with Zero Point Energy." He seems to be implying the following graphs are part of the Plasma paper. They are not.

One of the hallmarks of good science is to be able to examine the data as it comes in and adjust or change theories to match. This has been my goal consistently. Yes, originally it appeared from the data as presented in my 1987 paper, The Atomic Constants, Light and Time, that there was a declining trend in the speed of light which also appeared to be tapering off. However as more data has come in, it has become evident that Narliker and Arp's prediction of a slightly oscillating universe is correct, and therefore we should expect corresponding slightly oscillating measurements in a number of atomic 'constants' as well. Bridgman has evidently either ignored this in my papers or objects to the idea that I am willing to change my model to fit with the current data. This update is a continuing process, which is, I feel what all of science should be doing as we are now able to collect data so much more quickly than in years past.

Bridgman writes: “Surprisingly, Setterfield makes no comments in this Review indicating that his theory would predict a variation of radioactive decay rates with the Earth’s orbital distance.”  He has evidently missed one of the main points of all my papers, and that is that the speed of radioactive decay is dependent upon the strength of the Zero Point Energy and has little or nothing to do with any change in the earth’s orbit.


Response to Bridgman

On the first graph, below, it should be noticed that all the values determined for the speed of light from 1650 to 1840 are above the current value represented by the horizontal black line across the bottom of the graph. The scale on the vertical axis reveals that some values are very significantly above today’s value. This needs to be borne in mind in the following discussion. Bridgman has also added what he calls “Model fits” to the data in the form of green, blue and red curves which appear in both Graph 1 and Graph 2 (below). The green and blue curves were published as possibilities needing further investigation in the 1987 Report. That Report had nothing to say about the origin dates which Bridgman has included in his graph. These curves have long since been abandoned. As far as the red curve fit is concerned, with an origin date of 5792 BC, that has come entirely from Bridgman’s inferences as it has nothing to do with any model considered in the last decade. Yet this red curve is supposedly for the current model.

GRAPH 1: 1650 - 2000



In actual fact, the current model is mentioned in my paper “Reviewing a Plasma Universe with Zero Point Energy” in the Journal of Vectorial Relativity volume 3 (2008) issue 3, and the detail can be found on page 18 below equation (29) in that Journal. This is on this article that Bridgman is offering his comments. That Journal article indicates that the change in the speed of light is due to the behavior of the vacuum Zero Point Energy (ZPE). As a result of the discussion in that Journal, it is shown that the data seem to indicate the speed of light had dropped to its present value about 2600 BC, although this date is still only approximate and research is continuing. This date roughly marks the time when the ZPE had built up to near its maximum level. However, an ongoing oscillation in the strength of the ZPE was caused by a static cosmos that is slightly oscillating as Narliker and Arp’s research has indicated is happening. The result is an inverse oscillation in the speed of light and the run-rate of atomic clocks. This happens because the amount of energy of the ZPE in a given volume increases when the cosmos is at its minimum size; conversely, the ZPE energy density decreases as the cosmos expands to its maximum size. The oscillation means that the speed of light and the run rate of atomic clocks both dip below, and then climb above, their present values. This oscillation in the speed of light has been part of the model since the mid-1990’s  contrary to Bridgman’s implications.

The approximate form of this oscillation is traced by the data in Figure 8 of the plasma paper referenced above. The data also indicate that a turn-around or at least flat point occurred in this oscillation about 1970. However, the precise form of that oscillation has yet to be determined, as the universe appears to be oscillating in several modes simultaneously (put a full water balloon in a bowl to get an approximate idea of the sort of movements which can be seen in any one sector). In this case, flat points and secondary minima and maxima can be expected which are separate from the main oscillation. Because of this, the precise form of the universal oscillation is not yet pinned down. Consequently, no model fits to the data have been attempted over the last decade or more. It is therefore incorrect to say, as Bridgman did, that “Setterfield is so reluctant to display model fits with data.” The data are still being examined, and new data are waited for, to clarify this matter. As a result of the time taken with this examination, Bridgman claims that this is a sign that I am not fulfilling our motto of “letting data lead to theory.” In actual fact it is a sign that we want to see exactly where the data are leading before any definitive form for the universal oscillation is proposed.

After introducing the second graph (see below), which expands the vertical scale from 1840 to 1940, Bridgman goes on to state: “Many of the measurements Setterfield chooses to ignore (black) lie above and below the model fit and give very poor agreement with Setterfield’s models.” We have just pointed out that the precise form of the oscillation has not yet been determined, so that Bridgman’s curves, which have been gratuitously imposed on the data, have nothing to do with any model currently under consideration. But several other matters need mentioning here. It is absolutely untrue to say that these black data points have been “ignored”. In the History paper as well as in the 1987 Report, these data are discussed and the reason for them being “ignored” is made plain. Most of them were rejected by the very people who conducted the experiments themselves. Many were dismissed, as these experimenters informed their scientific audience, because they were preliminary results designed to “test the possibilities of the method.” Once the equipment and experimental procedure had been refined, their more accurate results were published. Others rejected some values they had obtained because of equipment malfunctions or because their data had been re-analyzed by some physicist who had given a more reliable value. All this has been fully explained in the original Report and/or in the History article as the individual experiments were discussed. It seems as if Bridgman has either not read these Reports as fully as he claims, or he is attempting to cloud the issue.

Bridgman goes on to state “Even more telling is the scatter above and below the modern accepted value [in the above figure]. This behavior is more indicative of systematic errors in measurement, not an actual trend.” Again Bridgman is rather undiscerning. To begin, all the values prior to 1840 are significantly above today’s value as shown by the first graph. Indeed they tend to be  above the current value by progressively greater amounts. In the second place, Bridgman’s data plot in Graph 2 shows that the only data below the current value are those in blue, namely the results from the Bradley aberration method. Omit these, and the tapering decline in lightspeed is then very evident. However, a closer examination of the Bradley aberration method, which has produced all the data points below the present value, reveals several items of extreme interest. When this method is considered as a whole, it is generally true that it registers a speed of light which is systematically low by up to 200km/s.  This genuine systematic error was first noted by Newcomb in the late 19th century and was again commented on by Kulikov in the mid 20th century. The History article and the 1987 Report both reference these comments.


GRAPH 2: 1840 - 1940


Kulikov is certain that this systematic error affected all the Pulkovo and Kazan values. When this error is corrected for, nearly all these aberration values are then shown to be above the current speed of light. But we can go further. The observations done at Pulkovo were all performed on the same equipment over a period of more than a century, and many were done by the same observers. Yet in these observations the same decline in the speed of light is strongly in evidence, but shifted into a lower range of values. The data are plotted on our graph below. Since the equipment did not change, and since individual techniques did not change either, the errors in measurement were essentially the same in all cases. As a consequence, the obvious decline in light-speed can be taken as a genuine trend, which was shown as dropping down to 1940.