Black holes/big bang: a debate
Black holes: fact or fiction? (Dec 2004)
Black holes, redshifts, and bad science (Mar 2005)
In his interesting and controversial article ‘Big bang, black holes, and common sense’, David Pratt argued, to my surprise, that both the big bang and black holes are theoretical constructs, pure inventions. This was somewhat disillusioning, for I have quite a lot of confidence in modern scientific research in this field. But his views offered the opportunity for further discussion.
His arguments about black holes – the big bang will not be dealt with here – can be summarized as follows. No one has ever seen a black hole; they are theoretical objects. The basic idea behind a black hole – that gravity can become infinite and compress a large volume of matter to an infinitesimal point (or ‘singularity’) – is irrational and illogical; nothing finite can ever become infinitely large or small, for these are mathematical abstractions.
A study published in 1995, based on Hubble Space Telescope observations of 15 quasars, showed that 11 of them had no surrounding material that could fall into any hypothesized black holes, yet they were somehow producing intense radio emissions.
(Comment: the observations of the 15 quasars show only that 11 are producing radio emissions, for which no explanatory mechanism is suggested; the details about the other quasars are not mentioned and are therefore also unexplained.)
Galaxies M87 and NGC 6605 are emitting jets of material and are supposed to have supermassive black holes at their centres. According to D.P., black-hole supporters thought the jets were fed by a doughnut-shaped dust cloud around the M87 black hole and an accretion disc of attracted matter around the NGC 6605 black hole, but observations have failed to find evidence of either.
(Comment: these observations are from 2001 and 2003 respectively; this year one of the websites referred to presented a NASA report (16 Feb. 2004) showing that the ‘smoking gun proof’ has been found for the existence of a supermassive black hole that is tearing a star apart; see report below.)
David Pratt says it is significant that matter is nearly always seen moving away from galactic nuclei, instead of towards them as the black-hole theory requires. This is also true of our own galaxy, and the radiation coming from its centre does not match that expected to come from a black hole. Several scientists have concluded that the centres of active galaxies are regions of matter creation rather than matter destruction. D.P. refers to G. de Purucker’s remarks about laya centres, which energy can flow both into and out of. He adds that every point of space is in a sense a laya centre, and that every entity, every atom, every human, and every celestial body has a laya centre at its core, for every physical form is animated from within outwards.
(Comment: on the one hand D.P. sees matter nearly always moving away from galactic nuclei instead of towards them, and on the other, every celestial body is said to have at its core a laya centre, which, according to GdeP, can have a two-way circulation.)
David Pratt adds that one in six spiral galaxies are currently passing through an active, explosive phase. At the same time, galactic nuclei exert a strong attraction on surrounding matter. However, in his view, the idea that matter can disappear from our plane by being crushed to an infinitesimal point is not a serious proposition.
(Comment: in contrast to his assertion that matter is nearly always seen moving away from galactic nuclei, he says here that matter can also move toward the nucleus, but does not offer an alternative explanation to the supposedly nonexistent black holes.)
His interesting article is broader than this summary suggests and is supported with references to thirty scientific and esoteric studies. Nevertheless, I doubt whether his conclusion that black holes do not exist is correct. He bases his position on studies by ‘nonorthodox cosmologists’, which appear to be based on observations that mostly predate 2000.
My doubts are strengthened by reading newspaper and magazine articles and several books on this subject. Here are two reports taken from the Dutch daily, NRC.
NRC, 19-10-02, ‘Supermassive black hole in centre of galaxy is for real’:
Ten years of accurate measurements of the star that is closest to the galactic centre and follows an elliptical orbit has eliminated any remaining doubt. An international team of astronomers headed by Rainer Schödel of the Max Plank Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has determined the mass of the supermassive black hole to be 3.7 million solar masses, with a margin of 1.5 million (Nature, 17 Oct.).
Astronomers think that the centres of nearly all galaxies house a black hole with a mass millions to billions of times greater than that of our sun. A strong piece of evidence for these supermassive black holes is the x-rays emitted from their immediate vicinity, and the speed with which nearby stars move round that centre leads to the same conclusion ...
NRC, 19-02-04, ‘Black hole tears star apart’:
For the first time astronomers have unambiguously witnessed the tearing apart of a star that had ventured too close to a supermassive black hole. Yesterday the European Space Organization and NASA presented the results from two x-ray satellites which had observed this act of extreme cosmic violence. One per cent of the unfortunate star, which was about as heavy as our sun, has been swallowed by the black hole. The supermassive black hole resides in the centre of galaxy RX J1242-11, at a distance of about 700 million light-years from earth. Its mass is 100 million times greater than that of our sun.
It is true that mainstream scientists have to think of their careers, funding, and reputation, besides their integrity, and that dissident scientists find it hard to make themselves heard. However, the above reports come from renowned organizations working with prominent astronomers and the latest equipment, and the findings are published in eminent journals such as Nature. For the time being I shall assume – perhaps a little naively? – that black holes exist!
Black holes: fact or fiction?
The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd. – Bertrand Russell
Mainstream scientists tell us that black holes form by the gravitational collapse of extremely massive stars, and some speculate that large volumes of interstellar gas can collapse into supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies. During this process, gravity allegedly becomes infinitely strong, crushing matter to an infinitesimal point of infinite density and infinite ‘spacetime curvature’. This ‘singularity’, as it is called, is surrounded by a gravitational field so intense that nothing entering a black hole’s boundary can ever escape, not even light. Theorists predict that black holes can emit extremely tiny amounts of heat radiation, so that a typical black hole will evaporate in about a million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years.
As pointed out in ‘Big bang, black holes, and common sense’, the existence of black holes as defined above can be rejected simply on the grounds of logic and common sense. In the real world, nothing finite can become infinite or infinitesimal; nor can the boundless universe originate from an infinitesimal point, as the big-bang theory claims. As for the notion of ‘curved space’, which Einstein invented to ‘explain’ gravity, several scientists, and also G. de Purucker, have dismissed it as a mathematical delusion. Inside a black hole, ‘spacetime’ supposedly becomes so distorted that space becomes time and time becomes space. Aard Bol is silent about all this – which is not surprising, as it’s unlikely that he has found a way to turn the finite into the infinite, or space into time!
Leaving aside the weird theories about what goes on inside a black hole, what evidence is there that such objects exist? Black holes can never be observed directly, so scientists look for indirect evidence of them: namely, their gravitational effects on matter in their vicinity, and radiation coming from their direct environment (attributed to material falling into them). However, as Fred Hoyle and other critically-minded astronomers have noted, the available evidence merely points to the existence of highly condensed aggregates of matter which produce very strong gravitational fields – but these objects generally appear to be undergoing explosive activity rather than swallowing things up.
The black-hole theory has great difficulty explaining why gas is universally seen moving radially outward from galactic nuclei. It insists that matter must first be attracted towards a hypothetical black hole from surrounding space, and some of it may then somehow get flung in the opposite direction. In the previous article, I mentioned several observations showing that the postulated disks and clouds of gas and dust surrounding ‘black holes’ are often missing; this implies that the gas or radiation speeding outwards originates within the central object itself – which would, by definition, be impossible if it were really a black hole. After space-telescope observations in 1995 failed to detect material around hypothetical black holes at the centre of many quasars, the astronomer heading the investigation called the discovery ‘a giant leap backward’; this major problem for the black-hole theory has still not been solved.
While failing to give any serious attention to evidence contradicting black holes, Aard Bol insists that if any gas at all is moving towards galactic nuclei, this can only be because they house a black hole. It goes without saying that a galactic nucleus exerts a strong attraction on all the solar systems, gas clouds, etc. that make up that galaxy, but this hardly proves that the central mass must be a black-hole singularity of zero volume! Furthermore, evidence suggests that gas is prevented from approaching too close to the centres of active galaxies by the tremendous energy they radiate, which counteracts the inward pull of gravity, and by its own angular momentum, which causes it to orbit the centre at a considerable distance. In 2001, x-ray telescope observations showed that matter is orbiting the centre of our own galaxy at a distance 1500 times further from the centre than predicted by black-hole believers (LaViolette, 2003: 175, 224; 2004: 241-2). This seriously undermines the hypothesis that the intense energy coming from the centre of our galaxy is fuelled by matter being sucked into a black hole.
However, evidence that undermines the black-hole dogma is very quickly forgotten, and the following year, as Aard Bol mentions, a team of scientists claimed to have proven that the mysterious object at the centre of our galaxy – known as Sagittarius A* – was indeed a black hole (Nature, 419, 2002: 694-6). Their reasoning was very simple: measurements of the orbital speed of the star closest to it shows that the mass of Sgr A* is so great that a black hole is the only theoretical possibility – assuming, of course, that current theories about gravity, curved space, imploding stars, singularities, and the possible states of physical matter are complete and correct. Bol must be confident that they are, given the uncritical way he parrots any claims that black holes exist.
According to the second report quoted by Bol, astronomers have ‘unambiguously’ witnessed a star being ripped apart by a giant black hole in the centre of galaxy RX J1242-11. Unfortunately, the bare facts are rather less dramatic: all that has been observed is a powerful x-ray burst in the centre of that galaxy (http://chandra.harvard.edu). The entire story about what supposedly caused the blast is pure speculation! But because black-hole propaganda often fails to make a clear distinction between observation and interpretation, the unsuspecting public is easily misled.
Plasma physicist Wal Thornhill presents a critical analysis of this farcical ‘news’ report in his article ‘Black holes tear logic apart’ (http://www.holoscience.com, ‘News & views’). The black-hole theory focuses exclusively on gravity, which it fancifully treats as the ‘warping of spacetime’, while ignoring electric forces, which are a thousand trillion trillion trillion times stronger and would prevent a black hole from forming. According to the black-hole model, x-rays are emitted when gases are heated to millions of degrees by being pulled into a black hole at very high speed. Thornhill comments: ‘Using gravity to heat gas is the most unlikely method imaginable to produce X-rays. We use almost infinitely more efficient electric power to do it. And Nature is not known for being inefficient.’ He concludes: ‘The gravitational black hole model is fictional and worthless.’
The strong evidence that matter is being generated in the core of galaxies shows that they do not contain black holes, which, by definition, can only destroy matter. This problem has been known for decades. In the mid-1980s, for instance, astrophysicist and black-hole opponent Phillip Morrison said: ‘We don’t see things being swallowed up for the most part, we see things being spat out ...’ Galactic nuclei can even eject embryo-galaxies, which tend to have far higher redshifts than their parent-galaxy. The big-bang/black-hole model is totally unable to cope with this, and efforts have been made for decades to deny and suppress the abundant observational evidence (Arp 1998, 2003). Astronomer Paul LaViolette, who rejects the notion of black holes with their irrational ‘singularities’, proposes that galactic centres house ‘mother stars’ – highly compact objects which continuously convert etheric energy into physical matter-energy.
In theosophy, the term ‘central sun’ is used to refer, among other things, to the galactic centre. If we draw an analogy with our own sun, we can conclude that Sgr A* comprises subtler states of matter than the four states known to scientists on earth, that it is an ‘alchemical laboratory’, and that it contains a ‘laya centre’. A laya centre is a region, large or small, where energy-substance materializes or dematerializes, but these two processes need not always be taking place simultaneously or to the same degree.
Our own physical sun, for example, is clearly emitting huge quantities of radiation and plasma (the ‘solar wind’). According to theosophy, it is powered mainly by an influx of energy from inner planes, and not of course by the relatively small amount of physical matter it absorbs from its environment; even when it dies, it will not devour its planets and implode – instead, it will explode. Some of the energies that the sun is shedding are said to circulate through the solar system before returning – in one form or another – to the heart of the sun. All these processes could equally well apply to a central sun. H.P. Blavatsky says that the central sun is in a ‘laya’ (highly ethereal) condition, and calls it an ‘ever-emitting life-centre’ (The Secret Doctrine, 2:240fn). The radiation coming from the galactic centre indicates that the central sun is millions of times more powerful than our own sun.
Theosophy also suggests that when physical matter dematerializes or etherealizes, attractive and cohesive forces weaken – the opposite of what allegedly happens in a black hole. Whether matter can also dematerialize while undergoing compression is unclear. What we can rule out with absolute certainty is the possibility that gravity can become infinitely strong and crush matter to an infinitesimal point – a defining feature of the modern logic-defying black-hole doctrine. Even Einstein himself refused to believe that the ‘singularities’ allowed by his equations could exist in reality. It seems likely that, in time, more and more scientists will come to openly admit that singularities cannot form, that the idea of stars and gas clouds imploding needs rethinking, and that the ‘objects’ at the centre of galaxies do in fact generate and eject matter-energy – just as observations (and theosophy) suggest.
If Aard Bol were to take the trouble to acquaint himself with the work of dissident cosmologists, he would discover that far from basing their theories on obsolete data, they take account of data that conventional scientists prefer to ignore. Moreover, the fact that ‘prominent astronomers’ make observations with ‘the latest equipment’ is no guarantee that their interpretations and conclusions are correct – even if they are published in ‘eminent journals’ such as Nature. This magazine has in fact played a shameful role in the censorship of evidence challenging the big-bang theory (Arp, 1998: 190, 245). And when Rupert Sheldrake published A New Science of Life in 1981 – in which he argued that many biological facts require the existence of nonphysical ‘morphic fields’ – the editor of Nature denounced it as an ‘infuriating tract ... the best candidate for burning there has been for many years’!
In pursuing what H.P. Blavatsky called ‘free and fearless investigation’, the best approach is to examine a subject from different angles. In this way, blind faith in the latest scientific fashions can give way to critical, independent thought.
Halton Arp, Seeing Red: Redshifts, cosmology and academic science, Apeiron, 1998; Catalogue of Discordant Redshift Associations, Apeiron, 2003; www.haltonarp.com
Paul LaViolette, Genesis of the Cosmos: The ancient science of continuous creation, Bear and Company, 2004 (2nd ed. of Beyond the Big Bang); Subquantum Kinetics: A systems approach to physics and cosmology, Starlane Publications, 2nd ed., 2003; http://etheric.com
Black Holes, Redshifts, and Bad Science
Blind faith vs. critical analysis
In a response to the preceding article, Aard Bol says that he advocates ‘a more balanced approach to scientific research – with more pros and cons – than David Pratt adopts’. However, in his earlier article, Bol starts from the assumption that black holes exist, makes no effort to distinguish between observations and interpretations, disregards the challenges facing the black-hole theory, and even repeats the claim that a powerful x-ray burst in a distant galaxy is ‘unambiguous proof’ of a black hole. This is certainly a novel interpretation of ‘balanced’; it could easily be mistaken for the uncritical parroting of official black-hole dogmas!
Aard Bol also says that ‘Pratt’s articles might lead astronomers to classify theosophists as troublemakers and believers’. This seems to mean that if we make an in-depth study of the redshift controversy, for example, and come to the conclusion that the prevailing expanding-universe interpretation is wrong, we should either reject our own conclusion, or at least keep quiet about it, for fear of what the scientific majority might think of us. Such mindless servility to orthodoxy is a far cry from ‘free and fearless investigation’.
As the following example shows, it’s not just members of the public who often prefer to put their faith in scientific authorities than to exercise their critical judgement ...
Time master or time bender?
In the 1980s theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking made the startling announcement that if our supposedly expanding universe were to start contracting, time would go into reverse! People would allegedly get younger instead of older, water would fall upwards to form clouds, and broken cups would gather themselves together off the floor and jump back onto the table. Moreover, all this would seem perfectly normal to the inhabitants of such a universe.1 Because Stephen Hawking is widely considered to be one of the most brilliant scientists on the planet, a real-life ‘Time Master’, some scientists actually took this silly twaddle seriously!
Hawking subsequently announced that he had made a mistake. Time would not in fact go into reverse, he explained, because ‘the boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary’. By this, he does not mean that the universe is boundless in the sense of infinite. On the contrary, he’s saying that if there’s enough matter in the universe, space will curve back on itself and will therefore be finite. To enable space to perform this contortion, Hawking introduces the notion of ‘imaginary time’, which he defines as ‘a direction of time at right angles to real time’:
The curvature of space-time caused by the matter in the universe can then lead to the three space directions and the imaginary time direction meeting up around the back. They would form a closed surface, like the surface of the earth. The three space directions and imaginary time would form a space-time that was closed in on itself, without boundaries or edges.2
In other words, in rejecting his earlier nonsense about time going into reverse, Hawking invokes equally delusory nonsense about the warping of ‘spacetime’. There is no serious evidence for ‘curved space’ – let alone curved ‘spacetime’. We can speak of curved lines, paths, and surfaces in space, but the idea that space itself can be curved is meaningless, unless we conjure up a fourth dimension of space for it to be curved in.
As astronomer Tom Van Flandern has said: ‘Something is wrong with science – fundamentally wrong. Theories just keep getting stranger and stranger.’ He cites the big-bang theory as a prime example:
This theory requires us to accept the following: time and space have not always existed; both began a finite time ago; and both the age and size of the present universe are finite; also that all matter and energy in the entire universe were contained in an infinitesimal point at the ‘beginning’; that for some unknown reason it all exploded; that space and time themselves expanded out of that explosion; that at first space expanded faster than the speed of light; that the explosion was so uniform it emitted an almost perfectly uniform radiation everywhere; and the same explosion was non-uniform enough to create the observed, quite irregular matter distribution in the universe; ... that all matter in the universe expands away from all other matter as space itself continues to expand, although there is no center; that the expansion of space itself occurs between all galactic clusters and larger structures, but does not occur at all on scales as small as individual galaxies or the solar system ...3
The big-bang theory claims that during the first fraction of a second after the primordial explosion, ‘spacetime’ inflated exponentially, doubling its size roughly once every 10-43 or 10-35 second.4 In just one ten-billion-trillion-trillionth of a second the universe expanded by over a thousand trillion trillion per cent. And this hyper-rapid inflation, says Hawking, ‘produced all the contents of the universe quite literally out of nothing’.5 A truly remarkable achievement! No wonder Pope Pius XII, another believer in ex nihilo creation, gave the big bang his blessing!
Equally extravagant ideas are found in the black-hole theory. Black holes allegedly have a singularity at their centre – a point of infinite density and infinite ‘spacetime curvature’ where matter is crushed to an infinitesimal point by an infinite force of gravity. Within a black hole’s outer boundary or event horizon (located at a distance where the escape velocity equals the speed of light), ‘spacetime’ supposedly becomes so distorted that space becomes time and time becomes space. The event horizon itself is said to be simultaneously stationary and yet flying outwards at the speed of light. One black-hole theorist remarks:
If all of this sounds very strange, don’t worry. It is strange. ... It’s a bit like Alice in ‘Through the Looking-Glass’: she has to run as fast as she can just to stay in one place.6
In other words, it’s another case of pure twaddle being passed off as ‘science’!
Elementary logic tells us that no finite object or force can ever become infinitely large or infinitely small for these are mathematical abstractions – not maximum and minimum sizes that can eventually be reached. Thus singularities – whether at the origin of the universe or in the centre of black holes – cannot exist. Aard Bol responds to this as follows:
David Pratt claims that the existence of black holes must be rejected simply ‘on the grounds of logic and common sense’. Well now, what he actually means is on the basis of his own common sense and that of a few ‘alternative’ astronomers ...
Bol’s pretence that there are no fundamental logical problems with the black-hole theory is not very convincing. Even mainstream scientists admit that at singularities the ‘laws of physics’ break down. It would be more accurate to say that their own theories break down. Some big-bang/black-hole proponents are honest enough to admit this. For instance, the author of a pro-big-bang article confessed: ‘... theory predicts that, at the big bang itself, the temperature was infinite. Infinities warn physicists that their theory is flawed.’7
Aard Bol informs us:
Unfortunately not everything can be explained with common sense and logic. For example, light can be described as waves and as particles, even though the descriptions are mutually exclusive. Yet it continues to shine without any trouble.
Mainstream scientists have certainly failed to come up with a consistent theory of light, but this hardly proves that no consistent, logical theory is possible or that light itself behaves illogically! There are in fact more sensible theories of light already available. One of the most detailed and notable models, which is based on meticulous experimentation, is that photons are short-lived, vortex-like standing waves in the ether, and are generated locally when matter particles shed the kinetic energy gained from interaction with massfree electric waves – a form of electric radiation which is emitted by the sun and whose spectrum has been identified.8
Light was of course first observed before a theory was sought to explain it. The opposite is true of black holes: general relativity theory predicted the existence of black holes and scientists then went looking for some evidence. Interestingly, Einstein himself held that although singularities existed in his equations, they did not exist in physical reality. He argued that ‘matter cannot be concentrated arbitrarily’, so that black-hole singularities could never form.9
Abstractions vs. the ether
Many researchers are exploring the role of an underlying etheric medium of subtler energy-substance in producing physical matter, force, and light, and progress is being made with the development of technologies that tap etheric energy (or ‘vacuum energy’ as it’s sometimes called). Mainstream science rejects the notion of a dynamic ether, and prefers to ‘explain’ things in terms of abstract mathematical fictions (i.e. nothingness) – infinitesimal particles, one-dimensional strings, 10-dimensional spacetime, curved space, expanding space, etc. The latest craze is multi-dimensioned ‘branes’, including zero-branes and anti-branes (dreamed up perhaps by the ‘brainless’).
Abstractions have their uses but a problem arises when they are treated as if they were concrete things that can directly influence or compose matter and explain physical events. As G. de Purucker puts it:
The Occidental mind loves abstractions, loves to entify abstractions, to look upon them as concrete realities; and this psychological bias or habit is the cause of most of the philosophic and psychological confusion so noteworthy in the West at the present time.10
The infinities that plague various scientific theories arise from this infatuation with mathematical abstractions. As well as being evident in the big-bang/black-hole paradigm, this can also be seen in the standard model of particle physics, which describes electrons and quarks as structureless, infinitely small particles. Since infinitesimal points are abstractions and the objects we see around us are obviously composed of abstractions, this cannot be literally true. Moreover, an infinitely small electron would be surrounded by an infinitely strong electromagnetic field and would therefore have an infinite mass, whereas an electron has a measurable mass of 10-27 gram.
To get round this embarrassing problem, physicists use a mathematical trick: they simply subtract the infinities from their equations and substitute the empirically known values. As physicist Paul Davies remarks: ‘To make this still somewhat dubious procedure look respectable, it is dignified with a fine-sounding name – renormalization.’11 Physics Nobel prize winner Murray Gell-Mann says that renormalizability is a ‘wonderful property’ of the standard model, but admits that there is a price to be paid: ‘the occurrence of more than a dozen arbitrary numbers that cannot be calculated and must be taken instead from experiment’.12 Quantum gravity theory, however, is not renormalizable: to obtain finite answers requires ‘an infinite number of infinite subtractions with a correspondingly infinite number of undetermined finite remainders’.13
There is widespread recognition of the need to move beyond the standard model, but the current preference for inventing extra ‘curled-up’ dimensions and fictitious entities with either less than or more than three dimensions, as in string theory and brane theory, does nothing to advance our understanding of the physical world. More promising are efforts to model subatomic particles as condensed finite structures – vortices, tori, or standing waves – in an underlying ether.
According to general relativity theory, gravity results from matter curving or warping the ‘fabric of spacetime’ in some inexplicable way. There are, however, plenty of credentialed scientists who dismiss this attempt to reduce gravity to abstract geometry,14 and who share De Purucker’s assessment:
[Einstein’s] ideas with regard to the nature of gravitation as being ... a warping or distortion of space in the proximity of material bodies seem to be a mathematical pipe-dream, purely and simply, although doubtless very creditable indeed to the gentleman’s mathematical ability ...15
Here, too, there is a need for more concrete models of gravity and other natural forces, and several ether scientists are working on this task.16
Bias and deception
Aard Bol writes:
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if David Pratt were to show some respect for his opponents in astronomical science. According to him, ‘black-hole propaganda often fails to make a clear distinction between observation and interpretation’ and ‘the unsuspecting public is easily misled’. Such a statement suggests deception and that is not very polite, unless conclusively proven.
The reason popular articles about black holes tend not to highlight the distinction between observational facts on the one hand, and interpretations and assumptions on the other, is not because those who write them are out to deceive, but because they are absolutely convinced that the standard assumptions and interpretations are correct.
The same mind-set can be seen in the way galactic redshifts are nowadays equated with an expanding universe. Books on the big bang often state that in the early 20th century Edwin Hubble ‘discovered that the universe was expanding’. This is simply not true. In 1929 Hubble announced his discovery that redshifts increase in proportion to galaxies’ apparent distance, and pointed out that one possible interpretation is that the universe is expanding. The same year, Fritz Zwicky proposed that the redshift might be due to light gradually losing energy on its long journey through space – this is known as the tired-light theory. Ironically, although scientists nowadays speak of the ‘Hubble expansion’ and the ‘Hubble constant’, Hubble actually came out in favour of the tired-light model, arguing that ‘the expanding models are a forced interpretation of the observational results’.17 Modern astronomy textbooks are silent about this, and serious discussion of different interpretations of the redshift has long since disappeared from the pages of high-profile scientific journals.
Over the decades ever higher galactic redshifts have been measured and, on the basis of big-bang assumptions, this means ever higher recession velocities. By 1931 the highest redshifts (of what are assumed to be the most distant galaxies) suggested recession velocities of up to 20,000 km/s (7% of the speed of light), but nowadays the highest redshifts imply recession velocities only fractionally less than the speed of light itself. (The relevant equation allows redshift-derived recession velocities to approach ever closer to the speed of light but not to actually reach it.) Bear in mind that big bangers do not say that galaxies are moving through space at these incredible speeds, but rather that these are the speeds at which the space between galaxy clusters – but not within them – is stretching!
The tired-light hypothesis scores better than the expanding-universe hypothesis on a number of observational tests, but neither hypothesis alone is sufficient to explain all the data.18 Over the past few decades abundant observational evidence has emerged that galaxies at the same distance can have very different redshifts. In particular, there is evidence that low-redshift parent galaxies can eject high-redshift embryo-galaxies (usually quasars), whose redshift declines as they age.
This undermines the expanding-universe hypothesis, as it contradicts the assumption that redshift is invariably a measure of velocity and distance. Moreover, while the black-hole paradigm can accommodate matter being flung away from around black holes, it can’t handle the ejection of embryo-galaxies from galactic nuclei, and that is why such evidence has been banished from major professional journals for several decades. Those who have an idealized picture of how science works may find this hard to believe, but the evidence is readily available for anyone willing to take a look.19 Again, this does not happen because the scientists concerned are trying to conceal the truth – but because they are absolutely convinced that they already know the truth.
Astronomer Halton Arp has played a pivotal role in bringing redshift anomalies and galaxy ejection processes to light – and he has paid a very heavy price in his professional career. Arp’s own colleagues at the Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories became so disturbed and disbelieving of the results he was getting that in the early 1980s they recommended that he should not be allowed to make any further use of these telescopes to pursue his ‘worthless’ observing programme. This recommendation was implemented, and after taking early retirement, Arp moved to Germany, and now works at the Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik.
One leading astronomer objected that if Arp’s results were correct, we would have no explanation for the redshift. Hoyle, Burbidge and Narlikar comment:
In other words, if no known theory is able to explain the observations, it is the observations that must be in error! ... Thus, Arp was the subject of one of the most clear cut and successful attempts in modern times to block research which it was felt, correctly, would be revolutionary in its impact if it were to be accepted.20
Figure 1 NGC 7603 is an active, x-ray-bright Seyfert galaxy with a redshift of 0.029 (8000 km/sec). It is linked by a luminous bridge to a smaller companion galaxy. Yet the latter has a higher redshift of 0.057 (16,000 km/sec) and, according to conventional assumptions, ought to be much further away. Big-bang cosmologists therefore maintain that these two galaxies only appear to be physically linked: the connection between them is purely ‘illusory’ and ‘coincidental’!
In 2002 two young Spanish astronomers discovered that the luminous filament between the two galaxies contains two quasar-like objects with even higher redshifts. The Astrophysical Journal and Nature refused to publish this observation, and it was finally published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, a peer-reviewed but less ‘prestigious’ journal. Furthermore, requests to make follow-up observations with the Chandra x-ray satellite and the southern Very Large Telescope were turned down by the allocation committees. The story of NGC 7603 is a poignant example of how crucial scientific evidence is ignored and suppressed.21
Figure 2 In 1971 a luminous bridge was discovered between the disrupted spiral galaxy NGC 4319 and the quasar (or active galactic nucleus, AGN) Markarian 205 (top right of both images). It met with fierce resistance from conventional astronomers because the redshifts of the two objects differ by about 20,000 km/s.
In October 2002 the Space Science Telescope Institute issued a press release with a picture of NGC 4319/Markarian 205 showing no bridge and implying that it never existed (image A). However, the NASA image was not even printed deeply enough to show the outer spiral arms of the galaxy! A deep print of the same picture is shown in image B, in which both the spiral arms and the luminous bridge can be seen. Science (11 Oct. 2002, p. 345) ran a small article on the statements from both sides, but most science magazines simply accepted the NASA press release as refutation of the connection.22
Figure 3 This CCD image of NGC 4319 and Markarian 205 was taken by an
amateur astronomer at an English observatory in 1998.23
Figure 4 This image shows x-ray filaments emerging from Markarian 205 and ending on two quasars with much higher redshifts (.464 and .633). Dismissing the possibility of active galaxies ejecting higher-redshift objects, the ‘experts’ insist that the luminous connections must be due to either ‘noise’ or instrument defects!24
Black holes and central suns
The great ‘advantage’ of the black-hole theory, as far as most scientists are concerned, is that it requires no new physics, being a product of general relativity theory. It does, however, require faith in irrational mathematical concepts such as curved spacetime, singularities of infinite density, and the ability of time and space to metamorphose into each other. The prevailing view is that a theory supported by thousands of professional scientists can’t possibly be wrong, no matter how weird it may seem.
No one denies that galactic nuclei emit intense radiation and that large amounts of gas are seen moving radially outward from them. Since black holes can only devour and destroy matter, placing a black hole at the centre of galaxies requires the invention of highly complex, and sometimes torturous, mechanisms to explain how matter-energy ends up moving in the opposite direction.25 A key role is assigned to the accretion disc, consisting of gas orbiting a black hole. Unfortunately, the same outpouring of matter-energy is often observed even when there is no accretion disc to be seen. Furthermore, there is no convincing, generally accepted theory to explain how black holes could form at the centre of galaxies. Molecular gas clouds in the discs of spiral galaxies do not appear to be condensing into black holes; rotary forces prevent continuing condensation, and the same forces operate in galactic nuclei.26
If we take the evidence at face value, galactic nuclei appear to be generating and expelling matter-energy rather than gobbling things up. Can physical matter be created out of nothing? The big-bang theory says it can. But those who prefer the common-sense notion that nothing can come from nothing or be annihilated into nothing will find the idea of physical matter crystallizing out of, or dissolving back into, a subquantum ether far more plausible. There is extensive evidence from a variety of fields for a dynamic, energetic ether,27 and some researchers hold that etheric processes play a role in powering stars, supernova explosions, and galactic core explosions. All in all, it is far more probable that galactic nuclei contain energy-emitting ‘mother stars’ (as Paul LaViolette calls them) or ‘central suns’ (as theosophy calls them), than that they are cosmic plugholes in which matter is crushed into nothingness!
Astronomy by press release
Dramatic press releases about black holes are issued at the rate of about one a week. They are a good illustration of how astronomical observations are inevitably interpreted in terms of the dominant paradigm, while the paradigm itself is simply taken for granted. As demonstrated in his previous article, Aard Bol is fond of quoting from these reports without bothering with any critical analysis. In his latest contribution, he refers to a report issued by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which announces that there is ‘strong circumstantial evidence’ that a dense swarm of 10,000 or more relatively small black holes or neutron stars are orbiting the alleged supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy (known as Sagittarius A* or Sgr A*).28
What Chandra has actually observed is four x-ray sources with a highly variable x-ray output within three light years of Sgr A*. These are regarded as good candidates for x-ray binaries, consisting of either a black hole or a neutron star orbited by, and pulling matter from, a companion star. The figure of 10,000 or more black holes or neutron stars close to Sgr A* is a rough estimate based on the assumption that massive stars collapse into either neutron stars or black holes when they die, and will then spiral inwards towards the galactic centre as a result of ‘dynamical friction’ with other stars. It is further hypothesized that several hundred of these black holes or neutron stars then capture a star from ordinary binary star systems, but that only 1% of these black hole/neutron star binary systems are x-ray active in any particular year, thereby ‘explaining’ why only four highly variable x-ray sources have been observed near Sgr A*.
Figure 5 Chandra has discovered four bright, variable x-ray sources (circles) within 3 light years of Sgr A* (the bright source just above Source C).
The core assumption behind this exciting tale is that when a star of between about 1.5 and 3 solar masses dies, it collapses under gravity to form a highly dense neutron star, but when more massive stars die, gravitational collapse continues until gravity becomes infinite, producing a black-hole singularity of infinite density and infinite spacetime curvature. If gravity can’t become infinite then there are no true black holes, let alone 10,000 of them near the centre of our galaxy and 100 million in our galaxy as a whole!29
In his article ‘Astronomy by press release – news from a black hole’,30 Halton Arp relates an instance in which the equating of x-ray sources with black holes left black-hole proponents looking rather foolish.
Accretion processes onto Black Holes are supposed to enable them to radiate high energy X-rays. When X-ray telescopes found strong X-ray sources in galaxies they said, aha, this is too strong to be an X-ray star so it must be a black hole in orbit around a star – a binary with a massive Black Hole revolving around it. Discovery of these now MASSIVE Black Holes was so exciting that innumerable papers have appeared showing the X-ray positions and deep photographs at the positions of the objects.
Strangely, when these objects were seen optically, no one took spectra in order to see what they actually were. Finally a paper appeared in a refereed journal31 where the authors showed the spectra of two of them to be that of high redshift quasars! Just to cement the case, they looked at previously identified quasars in or close to galaxies, and in 24 out of 24 cases the quasars belonged to the class of Ultra Luminous X-ray Sources. ...
This result is a double disaster in that the massive Black Holes turned out to be high redshift quasars, not a Black Hole in a binary star. Perhaps worse, they have been accepted as members of nearby galaxies and therefore cannot be out at the edge of the universe.
In other words, conventional astronomers were so sure that the x-ray sources in question were black holes that they didn’t even bother to check their spectra (including their redshifts). It was Arp and his colleagues who took the initiative to do that. (Note that Arp is an observational astronomer par excellence; as Van Flandern says, ‘Arp knows the extragalactic sky perhaps better than any other living astronomer’.32) The outcome was most embarrassing for the black-hole establishment but, not surprisingly, ‘This result was not put out as a press release’. Arp concludes his article as follows:
... I remember an Astrophysics lunch at Cal Tech about 30 years ago. Stephen Hawking sat across the table from several of us who were discussing observations of ejection of new galaxies from the compact nuclei of active galaxies. Nothing of this ever crept into Hawking’s assumptions about Black Holes. Only very recently has he abandoned his dictum that nothing comes out of Black Holes and famously now concedes that a ‘little bit’ does come out. Meanwhile, in the many intervening years, stunning new evidence has emerged on the White Hole propensities of nature. Its only failure I can see is not getting into the press releases.
* * *
Flawed scientific theories cannot survive for ever, but powerful vested interests often prolong their demise. Recognizing how difficult it is for the ‘old guard’ to admit to fundamental errors and radically change their views (something that can also apply to members of the public), Max Planck, the founder of quantum physics, once said:
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light; but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
- Stephen Hawking, ‘The direction of time’, New Scientist, 9 July 1987, pp. 46-9; John Boslough, Masters of Time: Cosmology at the end of innocence, Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1992, pp. 179-82.
- Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Baby Universes and other essays, New York: Bantam Books, 1994, p. 75.
- Tom Van Flandern, Dark Matter, Missing Planets & New Comets, Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 1993, p. xv.
- ‘Cosmos’, Encyclopaedia Britannica, CD-ROM 2004.
- Black Holes and Baby Universes, p. 88.
- Ted Bunn, ‘Black holes FAQ’, http://cosmology.berkeley.edu/Education/BHfaq.html.
- Marcus Chown, ‘The big bang’, New Scientist, 22 Oct 1987, Inside science, p. 1.
- Paulo N. Correa and Alexandra N. Correa, Experimental Aetherometry, vols. 1 & 2A, Toronto: Akronos Publishing, 2001 & 2003, and vol. 2B, www.aetherometry.com; ‘Earth’s meteoric veil’, section 3, davidpratt.info.
- Tom Van Flandern, ‘Physics has its principles’, in: Konrad Rudnicki (ed.), Gravitation, Electromagnetism and Cosmology: Toward a new synthesis, Montreal: Apeiron, 2001, pp. 87-101, www.metaresearch.org/cosmology/PhysicsHasItsPrinciples.asp.
- Dialogues of G. de Purucker, Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press (TUP), 1948, 3:324.
- Paul Davies and John Gribbin, The Matter Myth, New York: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1992, p. 244.
- Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar, London: Abacus, 1995, p. 200.
- Black Holes and Baby Universes, p. 54.
- See: ‘Space, time, and relativity’, davidpratt.info; Infinite Energy, nos. 38 & 39, 2001, and no. 59, 2005.
- G. de Purucker, The Esoteric Tradition, TUP, 2nd ed., 1973, p. 861fn.
- See ‘Gravity and antigravity’, davidpratt.info.
- Paul LaViolette, Genesis of the Cosmos: The ancient science of continuous creation, Rochester, VE: Bear and Company, 2004, pp. 279-83 (http://etheric.com).
- See ‘Exploding the big bang’ and ‘Cosmology and the big bang’, davidpratt.info.
- ‘Universe – the cosmology quest’, DVD, 2003, www.universe-film.com; Halton Arp, Quasars, Redshifts and Controversies, Berkeley, CA: Interstellar Media, 1987; Halton Arp, Seeing Red: Redshifts, cosmology and academic science, Montreal: Apeiron, 1998; Halton Arp, Catalogue of Discordant Redshift Associations, Apeiron, 2003 (www.haltonarp.com); Fred Hoyle, Geoffrey Burbidge and Jayant V. Narlikar, A Different Approach to Cosmology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000, pp. 117-62; David G. Russell, ‘Evidence for intrinsic redshifts in normal spiral galaxies’, 2004, http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/astro-ph/0408348.
- A Different Approach to Cosmology, p. 134.
- Halton Arp, ‘Research with Fred’, www.haltonarp.com/?Page=Abstracts&ArticleId=5; Catalogue of Discordant Redshift Associations, pp. 202-4.
- Halton Arp, ‘Rebuttals’, www.haltonarp.com/?Page=Abstracts&ArticleId=6.
- Catalogue of Discordant Redshift Associations, pp. 22-3, 227.
- Seeing Red, pp. 18-20, 22-4, 154-6.
- A Different Approach to Cosmology, pp. 166-7.
- Ibid., p. 316.
- See ‘Worlds within worlds’, davidpratt.info.
- http://spacenews.da ncebeat.info/article.php/chandra_black_hole_swarm; http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2005/gctr_bin.
- John Gribbin, ‘Black holes reveal themselves’, New Scientist, Oct 1992, pp. 32-6.
- Halton Arp, ‘Astronomy by press release – news from a black hole’, Journal of Scientific Exploration, 18:4, 2004, pp. 722-5, www.haltonarp.com/?Page=Abstracts&ArticleId=8.
- H. Arp, C. Gutiérrez and M. López-Corredoira, ‘New spectra and general discussion on the nature of ULXs’, Astronomy and Astrophysics, v. 418, 2004, pp. 877-83.
- Tom Van Flandern, ‘Book review: Seeing Red by Halton Arp’, www.metaresearch.org/publications/books/SeeingRed-Arp.asp.
Big bang, black holes, and common sense
Exploding the big bang
Cosmology and the big bang
Space, time, and relativity
Gravity and antigravity
Worlds within worlds