Questions about John Hartnett's book, Starlight, Time and the New Physics


“Regarding the age of the universe in context with the speed of light: Is the resolution of the young universe [less than 10,000 years] found in the slowing of the speed of light due to the Law of Entropy, or is the answer found in John Hartnett's book, Starlight, Time and the New Physics in which his view is quite different. Kindly give me your opinion on this matter as I am a seminary professor and this subject is frequently asked by my students.”

You have mentioned John Hartnett’s answer to the problem of starlight travel time, a problem which all those who support a young universe must face. Let me briefly summarize his book.

Chapters 1 & 2 give some necessary background to his proposal.

Chapter 3 discusses “dark matter” as the means of overcoming embarrassment for standard astronomy which is based largely on gravitational physics.

Chapter 4 deals with Moshe Carmeli’s application of Einstein’s theories of relativity, which Carmeli claims are valid on a cosmological scale.

Chapter 5 discusses the “shells” of galaxy redshifts that Hartnett accepts may indicate that our earth/galaxy lies near the center of the universe.

Chapter 6 deals with the Scriptures which state that God stretched out the heavens, and some implications he sees as stemming from that. He uses the work of Halton Arp to propose a manner in which the galaxies formed during this stretching process.

Chapter 7 discusses Hartnett’s view that on Day 4 God stretched out the heavens using our location is space as the center from which everything stretched. At the same time as the stretching, time dilation occurred on earth in a manner that fits in with Carmeli’s relativity. This allowed billions of years to elapse in the rest of the universe, which was formed in that period by an Arp-like process, while only 24 hours elapsed on earth.

Comments - Plus Updates on Scientific Developments

1).ON CHAPTER 3: Many plasma physicists/astronomers and electrical engineers agree that “dark matter” is an unnecessary concoction. The problems which dark matter are meant to overcome are readily resolved by plasma astronomy. Plasma is the 4th state of matter in which atoms are stripped of one or more electrons. This means that a plasma is composed of positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons. As such, electric currents and magnetic fields play the key role in how plasmas behave and the structures they form. Plasma astronomy only started developing in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s as a result of space exploration. It has produced evidence that the majority of the universe has been formed by the influence of electric and magnetic forces independent of gravity.
When galaxy formation in plasma physics is examined in detail, as Peratt has done at the Los Alamos National Labs, it is found that galaxies behave exactly as predicted by the laws of plasma physics and the problems that gave rise to the necessity for dark matter on the gravitational approach evaporate. So an increasing number of astronomers, including Halton Arp, see dark matter as an unnecessary fudge factor. Currently, however, the gravitational “traditionalists” get most of the press in the popular media, which leads to the false impression that the dark matter really must exist.

2). ON CHAPTER 4: Over the last decade, there has come an increasing awareness that Einstein’s relativity (Special and General) leaves much to be desired. Many papers have been presented in scientific forums with alternative proposals. I have attended a number of these where there have been remarkably open and frank discussions about alternatives. Part of the problem is the two postulates on which all relativity is based. (a). There is no absolute reference frame anywhere in the universe. (b). The speed of light has a fixed value throughout the cosmos.

Item (a) has been proven to be completely fallacious. The discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR), sometimes called the “echo of the Big Bang,” has in fact provided the absolute reference frame against which all velocities in the universe can be measured. This includes the motion of our solar system around the galaxy, the motion of our galaxy around our Local Group of galaxies, and the motion of our Local Group and the Virgo cluster of galaxies in relation to the Virgo super-cluster of galaxies. All this was admitted by astronomer Martin Harwit in his standard text “Astrophysical Concepts,” p.178 (2nd Edition, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1988). After this admission, Harwit then tried to salvage what he could for relativity by saying (in reference to the CMBR) that, “The establishment of an absolute reference frame would emphasize the fact that special relativity is really only meant to deal with small-scale phenomena, and that phenomena on larger scales allow us to determine a preferred frame of reference in which cosmic processes look isotropic.” Once again, however, these items, which de-throne Einstein and the “traditional” approach, do not often appear in the popular media which often give the impression that Einstein has had the last word.

Item (b) leads to a discussion all of its own, and will be treated separately in a moment. Suffice it to say that it is the subject of ongoing investigation in several areas of physics. The conclusion is that Carmeli’s approach, and all those based on relativistic physics, fall on the first postulate alone, quite apart from more recent developments.

However, it is in this context that another option has recently opened up which has all the major predictions of relativity (special and general) but which has none of relativity’s restrictive postulates. This option emerged in a developing branch of physics known as Stochastic Electro-Dynamics (SED). This form of physics started developing in 1962, after being accidently sidelined since 1925.  Initiated by Planck in 1911, and reasserted by de Broglie in 1962, SED physics unifies quantum phenomena (predicted by Quantum Electro-Dynamics, QED physics) and the practical results of relativity. Yet it does so without the esoteric mathematics or the problematical concepts of either. It is based firmly on the foundation of an energy which is intrinsic to the vacuum, which has been measured by the Casimir effect and other methods. This energy is composed of electromagnetic waves of all wavelengths. The distribution of this energy shows that there are many more short wavelengths than long ones. As a result, the effects of this Zero Point Energy (so-called because it is there in a perfect vacuum at absolute zero of temperature) become very apparent at the atomic level. The battering of subatomic particles, like electrons, by the impacting waves of the ZPE causes these particles to execute a “jitter motion” which is the cause of quantum uncertainty. This jitter motion is known scientifically by its German equivalent of “Zitterbewegung”.

It has been shown by Haisch, Rueda, Puthoff and others that the ZPE’s action on sub atomic particles gives rise to gravity, and from there it can be shown that the effects predicted by relativity will occur. Thus there is a real physical cause for both quantum uncertainty and relativistic effects, which are not just the strange inherent properties of matter, but rather are the manifestation of the energy in the vacuum.  Since SED concepts unify large branches of physics under one mechanism, it is desirable to examine the options which it presents rather than persist with formerly useful, but now outmoded, concepts of QED physics and Relativity. Therefore there are several reasons why Hartnett’s use of Relativity may be suspect.

3). ON CHAPTER 5: These “shells” of galaxy redshifts around our location in space do not uniquely require the interpretation of the earth or our galaxy to be the center of the universe. All it requires is that light has behaved in a uniform way at any instant right throughout the cosmos. Then any location in space will see shells of redshift around them just as we do.

4). ON CHAPTER 6: There can be no disagreement that the Scriptures re-iterate many times that the LORD created the heavens and stretched them out. In this respect, SED physics mentioned above becomes prominent. According to SED theory, the Zero Point Energy of the vacuum actually originates from the stretching of the fabric of space in a manner similar to the way in which the stretching of a rubber band puts energy in the fabric of the rubber band. So modern-day SED physics and the Scripture are in agreement here. Even the standard Big Bang astronomy has no dispute with these facts.

However, Halton Arp’s interpretation of galaxy formation, which Hartnett adheres to, is by no means as secure. Gravitational physics does not support Arp’s view at all, and for that reason many astronomers discount it. However, it may legitimately be asked if the alternate view, indicated by plasma physics, supports it. While there are some in the plasma physics community who will go all the way with Arp, there are others who follow the work of Anthony Peratt more fully. Peratt has reproduced the complete sequence of galaxies that we find in space from experiments and simulations with interacting plasma filaments. It is entirely different from Arp’s approach and the formation of these “galaxies” in the laboratory plasmas can be timed and up-scaled to astronomical dimensions, given the known strength of the electric and magnetic forces involved. Since the Peratt experimental approach has accurately produced the various types of galaxies found in the universe, it is to be preferred to the theoretical approach of Arp. Therefore, the explanation offered by Hartnett, while a possibility, is a much less desirable option.

5). ON CHAPTER 7: It is here that any thinking Christian should pause and give the outcome of Hartnett’s model much thought. First is Hartnett’s claim that the heavens were stretched out on Day 4. However, the idea of stretching or creating an expanse is strongly there in Day 2, not Day 4 where nothing is said about expanding. The other passages in the Scriptures talking about stretching the heavens is always in the context of Creation Week and usually in the past tense. From the Bible itself, then, we only have two choices; either the stretching was continuous throughout Creation Week, or it was specifically isolated to Day 2. Day 4 therefore had nothing special happening in an expansion context. This in itself negates the conclusions drawn by Hartnett about events on Day 4. But we can go further.

It is on Day 4 that Hartnett (and Russ Humphreys) claim, on the basis of some doubtful relativistic interpretations, that 24 hours passed on earth while billions of years elapsed in the rest of the universe. On that basis, they assume that they have solved the starlight travel time problem. Perhaps. However, an even bigger problem remains. The total distance traveled by light through the cosmos since its inception closely approximates to the age of the oldest objects in the cosmos on the atomic clock in its various forms. Thus the oldest stars are measured radiometrically as being about 13 billion atomic years old. What we have here is a concordance about the distance that light has traveled and time elapsed on the atomic clock. The two go hand in hand.

Yet herein lies a huge difficulty. If this stretching of the rest of the universe allowed billions of years to elapse “out there”, while only 24 hours elapsed “down here,” then presumably the crust of the earth and probably our entire solar system was positioned so that they only aged 24 hours. Yet the radiometric or atomic clocks in our solar system, and on the crust of the earth, unquestionably register ages in billions of years. In other words, their model fails to address the very issue at the heart of the debate, namely the atomic age of the cosmos, which is inextricably linked to the distance light has traveled. In a word, their models have both been at least partly negated by the actual data from the created order itself.

However, there is one more point which almost everyone seems to have overlooked. Back in my early days as a Christian, I held to the common interpretation of Genesis 1 that has become known as the Gap Theory. That theory postulates that there is a massive time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Into this gap, all the astronomical and geological ages are placed. This approach has been roundly criticized by a number of scholars for a variety of reasons. What Hartnett and Humphreys have done is effectively shift that time gap to Day 4 of Creation Week. So effectively their model is a disguised form of Gap Theory. As such, the model is unacceptable Scripturally as well as having all the problems which have been outlined above scientifically.

The Alternatives

The alternative that has been mentioned in the question is the action of entropy, which might be presumed to slow light down as time progressed. In fact the action of entropy is to sap the energy of a system or change it into a different form. In the case of light, less energetic light is redder light; the velocity of travel is not usually considered to have been affected by this. This reddening of light from distant parts of the universe is observed in practice. However, most theories attributing this “redshift” to a cause associated with entropy have historically had to be abandoned. So what is the alternative?

The alternative that I favor accepts the recent developments in SED physics coupled with plasma physics as applied to astronomy. The key factor for the present discussion is the Zero Point Energy, which originated with the stretching of the fabric of space. As a consequence, the strength of the ZPE is uniform throughout the whole cosmos at any given instant. For some well-defined reasons, the ZPE has built up with time, and the mathematical form that this build-up took is defined by astronomical data. That data starts near our Local Group of galaxies and goes right out to the frontiers of the cosmos.  The ZPE governs the electric and magnetic properties of the vacuum, and, because of this, also affects the speed of light and the rate of ticking of atomic clocks. The reason is that as the strength of the ZPE increased, there were more ZPE waves per unit volume, so space effectively became “thicker”.

There is another way of envisioning this. Consider ocean waves; when the meet, they crest and peak and form white-caps which soon after disappear. In a similar way, when the waves of the ZPE meet, they form a concentration of energy. Because energy and matter are inter-convertible according to the relation E = mc^2 (which is easily derived independently of relativity theory), then when the ZPE waves meet, virtual particle pairs form. These virtual particle pairs are sub-atomic particles like an electron-positron pair, or a proton-anti-proton pair, or a positive and negative pion. In fact, according to SED physics, there is a whole zoo of these virtual particle pairs in the vacuum. They exist for a fraction of a second, then annihilate, and go back to energy. It has been calculated that, at any instant, something like 10^42 such virtual particle pairs exist in the volume of a cubic meter. Therefore, when the strength of the ZPE increases, so does the number of ZPE waves and so, too, does the number of virtual particle pairs. Hence space has become “thicker” with virtual particle pairs as the ZPE strength has increased. Because these virtual particle pairs are positively and negatively charged, analysis shows that they affect the electric and magnetic properties of the vacuum.
Consider what happens as a photon of light proceeds through the vacuum. It travels a short distance, hits a virtual particle pair and is absorbed. A moment later the pair annihilate, the photon is emitted and goes on its way (the direction of photon travel can be shown to be the same because of the momentum configuration). The photon only travels a short distance, when it hits another virtual particle pair; it is absorbed; the pair annihilate; the photon goes on its way. This process is fast, but takes a finite amount of time to occur. So the path of a photon through the vacuum is like a runner going over hurdles. The more hurdles between the start and finish of the race, the slower the runner’s time will be. Light photons are the same. Initially, when the ZPE strength was very low and starting to build, the speed of light was very fast because it encountered very few virtual particle pairs as it went through the vacuum. Then as the ZPE built up its strength, the photon encountered more and more virtual particles in a given distance and its speed dropped. Since Creation Week, the astronomical data show that the strength of the ZPE has built up by a factor of about 5 x 109. This means that the speed of light has dropped by the same fraction from what it was initially.

Finally, because all atoms are immersed in this ZPE, and sub-atomic particles are being battered by the ZPE waves and virtual particle pairs, then as the ZPE built up, atomic processes slowed down. It can be shown from the physics and math of the situation that the slow-down in atomic clocks has been by the same fraction that the speed of light has dropped. From astronomy, we know the form of the curve that the ZPE build-up has taken, and hence the form of the curve that the slow-down in atomic clocks has taken. Since it can also be shown that our gravitational clock, namely the time it takes for the earth to orbit the sun, runs at a constant rate, then we can correct atomic time to read orbital time. When this is done an amazing scenario emerges. There are 4 major eras in Geology separated by 3 catastrophes. These eras are the Archaeozoic (ending with the Snowball earth catastrophe); the Paleozoic (ending with the Permian extinction); the Mesozoic (ending with the K/T extinction) followed by the Cenozoic which is divided by an ice-age. These eras correspond to the time Biblically from Creation to the time of Noah (with the catastrophe of the Flood); then from the Flood to Babel (with the catastrophe of Babel and its dispersion); then from Babel to Peleg (with the catastrophe of the Peleg continental division in Genesis 10:25) followed by the ice age of Job (where the book of Job was written by Jobab, the 13th son of Joktan).

There is much more that can be stated, but that is the proposition with the ZPE in a nutshell. Plasma physics plays a key role in the Creation events as most astronomers agree that the universe started off as plasma. The plasma processes which form miniature galaxies in the laboratory have been timed, and those times up-scaled to cosmic dimensions. But plasma processes are dependent on electric and magnetic field strengths and the strengths of electric currents. Since the ZPE controls the electric and magnetic properties of space, it can be shown that when the ZPE strength is lower, all plasma interaction times are faster since currents and voltages are stronger. This means that the galaxies formed more swiftly with a low ZPE. In fact, it can be demonstrated with the ZPE lower by a factor of 5 x 109 or so, a whole universe can be formed in 6 days.

I have had papers published in secular scientific journals which lay the ground work for all of this, and have a set of Power Point Slides illustrating the lecture the “Science of Creation in 6 Days”. If you would like further information about any of this, please contact me.