A Response to a Response


A fellow wrote to one of the leading physicists in one of the American creationist organizations, asking about Barry Setterfield's work. He emailed the physicist's response to us and asked Barry if he had anything to say in response. Indeed, he did. Here is the letter from the physicist and Barry's response:

“I wish Setterfield would say "energy density of the vacuum" instead of "ZPE".  You're right to question how he knows that the speed of light is inversely proportional to that density. It might be, but it might not be. We have no way of knowing, as far as I can see. Sound speeds vary as the square root of the ratio of tension to mass in a membrane.  How would each of those change with R in his rubber band analogy?  More to the point, how could he prove it?

“I'd also like to know in what coordinate frame he would measure such a change.  He doesn't seem to recognize that in anyone's local frame of reference, such a change should be transparent, unobservable.  Local clocks should change in lockstep with c.  As far as I know he’s never really solved that problem … he merely offered some hand-waving years ago.

“He's got nuclear decay apparently changing in tune with c also.  So how would we have a detectable change, as RATE found evidence for?  That is, he's still having some types of clocks (like diffusion and atomic processes) changing with c, but other types not (like orbits of planets)."

Barry's Response:

Question 1.
The correspondent says he wishes I would use the term “energy density of the vacuum” instead of the Zero Point Energy (ZPE). There is a very good reason for not doing that. In my work, I am following the logical explanation of physical phenomena given by SED (Stochastic Electro-Dynamics) physicists as distinct from QED (Quantum Electro-Dynamics) physicists. QED physics has been trying to meld quantum electrodynamics with relativity theory and envisages the energy of the vacuum as arising from the action of Einstein’s Cosmological Constant, or some variant of it. On the SED approach, the ZPE has absolutely nothing to do with the cosmological constant. It originates and behaves in an entirely different way to the vacuum energy that the cosmological constant and QED physicists propose. As a result, any attempt to equate the two will be detrimental to a true understanding of the situation. The whole story can be read in my Monograph, “Cosmology and the Zero Point Energy,” or in two NPA Conference papers on our website:
Zero Point Energy and Relativity
Zero Point Energy, Light and Time

Question 2:
The correspondent wonders how we know that the speed of light is inversely proportional to the strength (or energy density) of the ZPE. That comes from several independent lines of enquiry. To avoid too deep a discussion, it can be stated simply that the ZPE exists as electromagnetic fields and waves. Just as waves at the beach peak and crest and form white-caps where they meet, so too, do the waves of the ZPE. At the point of meeting, there is a concentration of energy, and that concentration allows virtual particle pairs (like a positive and negative electron, or a positive and negative proton) to form momentarily. They then annihilate and go back to energy. The ZPE allows a veritable zoo of such particles. When the ZPE strength was significantly lower, in the early days of our cosmos, there were considerably fewer such particles. The number of particles per unit volume and the ZPE strength, or energy per unit volume, is correlated. Thus as the ZPE strength increased, the vacuum became “thicker” with virtual particle pairs.

When a photon of light goes through the vacuum, it has to navigate its way through this mass of virtual particles. It hits a particle, is absorbed, the particle pair annihilates and the photon goes on its way. However a fraction of a second later it interacts with another pair, they annihilate and the photon goes on its way. Thus the speed of light is dependent on the number of virtual particle pairs in a given volume of the vacuum. The speed of light is rather like a passenger train getting to its destination. The number of stops it has to make en route determines the time it takes to get from a given location to its destination. In this way the speed of light can be shown to be inversely proportional to the ZPE strength. This is explained in more detail and rigorously in several other ways in the Monograph and in two NPA Conference papers on our website here:
Zero Point Energy and the Redshift
Zero Point Energy, Light and Time

Question 3.
The correspondent wonders in what coordinate frame any change in the speed of light can be measured since local clocks will tick at the same rate as the speed of light, c. First, the questioner is making that statement based firmly on the standard Theory of Relativity. Among its postulates is one that states there is no absolute reference frame anywhere in the universe and another that says that the speed of light does not change. It is interesting to note that SED physicists working with the ZPE can derive all the basic effects predicted by Relativity, but without its restrictive postulates. The ZPE is a unifying concept for physics from the quantum level up to macroscopic phenomena.

However, I want to point out that both of these postulates have been shown to be incorrect. The first one was shown to be incorrect by the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). The absolute motion of our Solar System, our galaxy and our Local Group of galaxies can each be found separately from the CMBR. Once this was discovered, the problem it posed for Relativity was realized by a number of academics, including Martin Harwit. In his book Astrophysical Concepts, p. 178, he admits the problem, then goes on to salvage what he can for Relativity by claiming that relativity is only valid on a small scale (atomically) and that the CMBR provides an absolute reference macroscopically.

The second postulate about light was also shown to be incorrect by the aberration experiments. These measurements do not used clocks or distances as the relativity examples require; they only measure angles. The observations at Pulkovo Observatory using the same equipment over a period of a century showed that the measured angle had changed and that the speed of light had dropped. This method of measuring c obviates the relativity objection of clocks, and at the same time invalidates the postulate. The actual formulation of the major predictions of Relativity using the ZPE approach can be found in the Monograph and an NPA Conference paper here:
Zero Point Energy and Relativity

Question 4:
The correspondent wonders how it is possible to have orbital clocks ticking at a rate which is constant while atomic clocks tick at a rate proportional to the speed of light or inversely proportional to the ZPE strength. In response, it can be shown that the rate of ticking of atomic clocks is inversely dependent on ZPE strength due to its waves impacting on subatomic particles and slowing their motion. The stronger the ZPE, the slower the atomic particles move.

However, for orbital phenomena, the equation governing the period it takes for an object like the earth to go around the Sun is dependent on the ZPE in such a way that there are two mutually cancelling ZPE-dependent terms. This means that orbital rates are unchanging as the ZPE strength changes.  This is all discussed fully in the Monograph and much is summarized in the NPA Conference presentation reproduced on our website here:
Zero Point Energy, Light and Time

Question 5.
The correspondent finally wonders how the speed of light would vary with the change in radius, R, of an expanding universe. The universe radius is not the key factor here; rather it is the strength of the ZPE that determines the speed of light in a way shown in the previous segments. The strength of the ZPE is associated with the radius of the cosmos, and builds up as the universe is stretched. But while we cannot measure the radius of the cosmos directly, we do have a measure of the buildup of the ZPE strength, and hence the behavior of all associated atomic constants, given to us in the redshift.  Let me explain as briefly as I can.

Light from distant galaxies is shifted towards the red end of the rainbow spectrum by progressively greater amounts the further out into space we look. The redshift shows evidence of being quantized. This means that the redshift changes abruptly in a jump after being constant for a while. Some of these jumps actually go through the middle of galaxies. Because of this and other problems, the standard explanations of the redshift can be shown to be defective. It was in the 1980’s that physicist John Gribbin noted these problems in New Scientist. He then stated that one likely explanation for the redshift that needed investigation could be that it is intrinsic to the atomic emitters within galaxies.

Quite independently, in 1987, SED physicist Hal Puthoff and others demonstrated that the ZPE actually maintains atomic orbits right across the cosmos. Atomic orbit energy is governed by the strength of the ZPE. As the ZPE strength increases with time, the energy of all atomic orbits increases proportionally. This means that all atomic transitions which emit light become more energetic, so the light emitted is bluer with time. Because atomic orbit energies are quantized, or go in jumps, this means that the light emitted also becomes bluer with time, but in jumps.

Therefore, on this ZPE approach, as we look back in time, by looking out further and further into space, then we should see the emitted light becoming redder in jumps. This is exactly what is seen. It follows from this that the redshift is a measure of the strength of the ZPE, and associated atomic constants. This information can be converted indirectly to derive the radius of the cosmos, but not in the way that the questioner was thinking. More information is available in the Monograph and in the NPA Conference paper here:
Zero Point Energy and the Redshiftl

I hope that these answers show that there is a sound scientific basis to the ZPE-Plasma model without the explanations being unduly technical.