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Right Again, Einstein
ScienceNOW Daily News ^ | 3 July 2008 | Phil Berardelli

Posted on 07/05/2008 5:49:29 PM PDT by neverdem

Enlarge ImagePicture of pulsars

It's relative. Astronomers have been measuring spin precession in an eclipsing pair of pulsars.

Credit: Daniel Cantin/McGill University

As if his reputation needed cementing, astronomers have confirmed Albert Einstein's status as a supergenius once more. Studying a unique pair of pulsars--small and extremely dense leftovers from supernova explosions--researchers have measured an effect that was predicted by Einstein's 92-year-old general theory of relativity. The result, they report tomorrow in Science, is almost exactly what the famous physicist had foreseen.

In Einstein's relativistic universe, matter curves space and slows down time, and the speed of light remains the only constant. But those are the big effects. The theory of relativity also includes some more esoteric details, one of which is called spin precession. The idea goes like this: Two massive bodies orbiting near each other will warp space enough to disturb the central axis around which both are moving, causing them to begin wobbling just like spinning tops. Strong gravity creates this so-called precession, and the more massive the objects, the easier the precession is to observe.

It's not an easy theory to test. Researchers need two very dense objects orbiting very close together, and they have to be able to detect what is going on between them. Black holes are dense, but their event horizons preclude observations. The lack of candidates and telescopic power had frustrated astronomers for years, until the discovery in 2003 of a particular pair of pulsars. These asteroid-sized objects pack sunlike masses, extremely small orbits, and incredibly fast spins. They also emit powerful and ultraregular radio signals that are easily detectable with Earth-based dishes. Most important in this case, one pulsar eclipses the other briefly every couple of hours. That's key to detecting precession, because during each eclipse astronomers can determine the precise angle of the radio signal and therefore the pulsar's wobble over time.

For the past 4 years, an international team has been carefully tracking the signals of one of the pulsars and monitoring the signals' direction during eclipses--a observational technique "that has never been employed before," says astrophysicist and co-author Rene Breton of McGill University in Montreal, Canada. The researchers determined that the precession of the pulsar's orbital axis advances by 4.77 degrees per year, plus or minus 0.66 degrees. Calculations based on Einstein's theory predicted it should advance by 5.07 degrees per year, well within the margin of error.

"It's bang-on," says astrophysicist and Nobel laureate Joseph Taylor of Princeton University. "Einstein's theory passed the test this time," agrees astrophysicist Fotis Gavriil of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who praises the study's "amazing high-precision measurement." So is Einstein's reputation secure? Says Gavriil, "Only with experiments like this will we know for sure."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Technical
KEYWORDS: alberteinstein; einstein; physics; precession; relativity; samebsdifferentday; stringtheory; tvf; vanflandern

1 posted on 07/05/2008 5:49:29 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
Junior's, Magnolia and other top bakeries over new trans fat limit (Bloomberg's New York)

Watermelon May Have Viagra-effect

Traumatic Neuralgia From Pressure-Point Strikes in the Martial Arts: Results From a Retrospective Online Survey

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

2 posted on 07/05/2008 5:59:23 PM PDT by neverdem (I'm praying for a Divine Intervention.)
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To: neverdem

Einstein amazes me.


3 posted on 07/05/2008 6:05:00 PM PDT by autumnraine
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To: autumnraine; neverdem; All
"Einstein amazes me."

Me too!!

Einstein Gore

4 posted on 07/05/2008 6:21:21 PM PDT by musicman
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To: neverdem

For another opinion an Albert:

http://nov55.com/einw.html


5 posted on 07/05/2008 6:51:02 PM PDT by Archon of the East (Universal Executive Power of the Law of Nature)
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To: Archon of the East

That guy who wrote the linked article is a complete crackpot!


6 posted on 07/05/2008 7:04:33 PM PDT by hellbender
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To: autumnraine

Don’t let yourself get amazed too easily. Einstein said some dopey things, particularly about gravity.


7 posted on 07/05/2008 7:05:33 PM PDT by wendy1946
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To: neverdem

8 posted on 07/05/2008 7:24:50 PM PDT by BIGLOOK (Keelhaul Congress! It's the sensible solution to restore Command to the People.)
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To: hellbender

“That guy who wrote the linked article is a complete crackpot!”

Perhaps, he just didn’t understand the gravity of the situation. :-)


9 posted on 07/05/2008 7:35:18 PM PDT by punster
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To: wendy1946

Don’t let yourself get amazed too easily. Einstein said some dopey things, particularly about gravity.


What for example?


10 posted on 07/05/2008 7:36:02 PM PDT by broncobilly
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To: wendy1946

“Einstein said some dopey things, particularly about gravity.”

Not being a physicist, I am surprised to hear that Einstein’s theory of gravitation has been disproved. What’s the story?


11 posted on 07/05/2008 7:39:23 PM PDT by vanishing liberty
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To: broncobilly
For one that it was a property of mass and space: that would not allow for something like the Podkletnov experiment or the NASA/Boeing GRASP project.

For another, Einstein stated that information could not be passed around faster than C whereas it is well known that gravity propagates instantaneously to within our ability to measure it.

12 posted on 07/05/2008 7:51:39 PM PDT by wendy1946
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To: hellbender
There are basically only two sets of standards: right and wrong. There is an objective criterion for the difference. It is constructivity. Right is constructive; and wrong is destructive.

If a missile is headed for that guy's house and I destroy it, that would be wrong.

I think I understand now.

13 posted on 07/05/2008 8:20:14 PM PDT by sig226 (Real power is not the ability to destroy an enemy. It is the willingness to do it.)
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To: hellbender

Yea it took me off guard a bit but some of his work on global warming seems to be pretty good.


14 posted on 07/05/2008 8:30:18 PM PDT by Archon of the East (Universal Executive Power of the Law of Nature)
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To: wendy1946
Don’t let yourself get amazed too easily. Einstein said some dopey things, particularly about gravity.
whereas it is well known that gravity propagates instantaneously to within our ability to measure it.

Wendy1946 has said some mighty dopey things about Physics here at FR. Like: "There’s never been a “big bang”, the universe is not expanding, and if dark matter or dark energy could be detected, it would not be dark. For that matter if the stuff were actually 95% of the universe as claimed, you’d be vacuuming it up off your carpets four or five times a day."

You're dead wrong about gravity affects being transmitted instantaneously - it is well known that gravity works at the speed of light just like all other fundamental force phenomenon.

Not being familiar with every last thing Einstein had to say about gravity, I can't say he didn't make any goofy statements there, but let's just say I hold him in slightly higher regard than you on the subject. (Massive, light-bending sarcasm there in case you didn't catch it....)

15 posted on 07/05/2008 8:38:46 PM PDT by Yossarian (Everyday, somewhere on the globe, somebody is pushing the frontier of stupidity...)
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To: Yossarian; wendy1946
You're dead wrong about gravity affects being transmitted instantaneously - it is well known that gravity works at the speed of light just like all other fundamental force phenomenon.

Incorrect. If this were true, gravitometers would point at the apparent position of the sun in the sky instead of at the true position, which is ahead of the apparent position, as they actually do.
16 posted on 07/05/2008 8:53:08 PM PDT by aruanan
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To: aruanan
Incorrect. If this were true, gravitometers would point at the apparent position of the sun in the sky instead of at the true position, which is ahead of the apparent position, as they actually do.

No, I don't have time to explain it, but you should read up on inertial frames. It all has to do with relativity - the relative frames w.r.t. each other., and gravity moves at the speed of light in each context.

17 posted on 07/05/2008 9:06:26 PM PDT by Yossarian (Everyday, somewhere on the globe, somebody is pushing the frontier of stupidity...)
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To: Yossarian
Educate yourself....
18 posted on 07/05/2008 10:07:22 PM PDT by wendy1946
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To: neverdem

Why does “the speed of light remain the only constant”?

Is there something special about photons within the universe of particles?

Is it the fact that humans have given the effect of photons the name “light” and found that the processing of light (”sight”) is the most useful of the human senses for survival?

Or is it because “light” is the first thing God created?

Inquiring minds....


19 posted on 07/05/2008 10:22:50 PM PDT by Lancey Howard
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To: wendy1946

lol...Tom Van Flandern? A crackpot’s crackpot. You’re embarrassing yoruself, Wendy.


20 posted on 07/05/2008 10:35:36 PM PDT by Mr. Mojo
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To: neverdem

Has anyone ever wondered why Einstein didn’t get a Nobel Prize for his theory on relativity?


21 posted on 07/05/2008 10:47:15 PM PDT by Born to Conserve
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To: Lancey Howard; annie laurie
Why does “the speed of light remain the only constant”?

It's constant only going through a vacuum. It gets bent and slowed down, i.e. refracted, going through various types of matter.

Is there something special about photons within the universe of particles?

It doesn't have mass, but it has energy according to its wavelength when it behaves like a wave.

Is it the fact that humans have given the effect of photons the name “light” and found that the processing of light (”sight”) is the most useful of the human senses for survival?

That's a judgment call.

Or is it because “light” is the first thing God created?

I'll take a pass on Scripture.

High Energy Gamma Rays Go Slower Than the Speed of Light?

22 posted on 07/05/2008 11:25:30 PM PDT by neverdem (I'm praying for a Divine Intervention.)
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To: Mr. Mojo

Tom is a former director of the Naval Observatory and a major sort of an expert on the subject; what exactly are YOUR credentials??


23 posted on 07/06/2008 4:24:06 AM PDT by wendy1946
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To: wendy1946
How about comparing the credentials of Einstein and Van Flandern (which is what this discussion is about). The former is, along with Newton, one of the two most brilliant physicists to have ever lived; the latter is a fringer (to put it kindly) who believes that certain features on the surface of Mars are sculptures of "faces" created by extra-terrestrial beings, and that the asteroid belt was created by an exploding planet. Van Flandern's views haven't found acceptance anywhere within the scientific community. (And no, the "scientists" interviewed on the Art Bell show don't qualify).

Einstein's theories (especially General Relativity) have passed rigorous test after rigorous test for close to a century.

24 posted on 07/06/2008 8:11:16 AM PDT by Mr. Mojo
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To: autumnraine

25 posted on 07/06/2008 8:26:10 AM PDT by AFPhys ((.Praying for President Bush, our troops, their families, and all my American neighbors..))
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To: Born to Conserve
Has anyone ever wondered why Einstein didn’t get a Nobel Prize for his theory on relativity?

No. This is well known.

26 posted on 07/06/2008 8:28:10 AM PDT by RightWhale (I will veto each and every beer)
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To: wendy1946
it is well known that gravity propagates instantaneously to within our ability to measure it.

I favor efforts to deconstruct Einstein's relativity, however, crackpots need to stand aside.

27 posted on 07/06/2008 8:31:34 AM PDT by RightWhale (I will veto each and every beer)
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To: wendy1946
Einstein said some dopey things, particularly about gravity.

He also made some prescient observations about dilettantes. Perhaps he saw you.

28 posted on 07/06/2008 8:32:27 AM PDT by Glenn (Free Venezuela!)
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To: Born to Conserve

IINM, in the first decades of the Nobel Prizes, the prize for physics was only awarded for applied (as opposed to theoretical) physics. So after the Eddington expedition validated his theory of relativity (i think the General Theory, but i’m not certain), the Nobel folk awarded the prize to him based (officially, at least) on his work on the photovoltaic effect, which he did in 1905.


29 posted on 07/06/2008 10:13:15 AM PDT by eddiespaghetti ( with the meatball eyes)
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To: AdmSmith; bvw; callisto; ckilmer; dandelion; ganeshpuri89; gobucks; KevinDavis; Las Vegas Dave; ...
thanks neverdem.
The result... is almost exactly what the famous physicist had foreseen.
Wow, talk about high precision. /snark

30 posted on 07/06/2008 10:32:39 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_________________________Profile updated Friday, May 30, 2008)
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To: neverdem; SunkenCiv; El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc
I love unintended inane humor ... "watermelon may have Viagra effect as two pulsars precess due to strong attraction" ... Yup, fits the 'good humor'. ;^)
31 posted on 07/06/2008 10:49:13 AM PDT by MHGinTN (Believing they cannot be deceived, they cannot be convinced when they are deceived.)
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To: hellbender
That guy who wrote the linked article is a complete crackpot!

Article was a big mess of worms, no?

32 posted on 07/06/2008 7:39:13 PM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: Yossarian
it is well known that gravity works at the speed of light just like all other fundamental force phenomenon.

Incorrect. If that were the case, then gravity would not bend light. Since it it measurably true that gravity does bend light, the speed of gravity is faster than the speed of light.

How much faster, I do not know. But it is faster.

33 posted on 07/07/2008 8:52:34 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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