Bedtime Bemusement – Is The Velocity of Light Constant?

5 September 2014 AD

Is the velocity of light constant?

Tonight two granddaughters, Mary Claire and Kelsey, stay overnight to decorate two large rubber ducks in advance of our 2014 Rubber Duck Regatta in Rockwall. That’s another story for another time.

When asked about the speed of light, I asked Kelsey what she knows or thinks about the speed of light, constant or variable. This Rockwall High School freshman answered ‘variable’. When asked why she thinks the speed of light is variable, she responded: “Light slows down when it hits stuff.” Very scientific, indeed.

It’s axiomatic: when light runs into stuff, it slows down.

So, what led me on this train of thought? A friend sent me a link to a terrific debate between Canadian American astrophysicist, Christian apologist, and old earth creationist Dr. Hugh Ross and creation science speaker, debater, and evangelist Dr. Kent Hovind, moderated by Dr. John Ankerberg.

Central Issue

Both debaters agree: God created the universe and the Bible is true. They disagree on interpretations of data.

It seems to me the big divide between the two worldviews is the velocity of light which then boils down to the nature of time itself.

The law of entropy (also known as the second law of thermodynamics) and the first law of thermodynamics are basic to the most fundamental laws of physics.

Definition of ENTROPY

  1. :  a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system’s disorder, that is a property of the system’s state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system; broadly :  the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system
  2. a :  the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity
    b :  a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder

 Back to the Central Issue: The Speed of Light

Genesis 1:3 - And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:3 – And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

You were probably taught that the speed of light constant in space. (300,000,000 meters/second or 186,000 miles/second) That’s my story, too. In my adult life, I worked with aerospace electronics where I learned how dielectrics, in fact, affect the velocity of propagation of electromagnetic energy; light is electromagnetic energy.

It is then argued that the ‘c‘ of E = mc2 where ‘c‘ represents the speed of light, is a reliable constant with which we can accurately calculate astronomical distances. Remember how Kelsey said light slows down “when it hits stuff”.

Outer space is not a perfect vacuum in that it is not devoid of particulate matter. There is invisible matter in between planets and stars that, while not visible to humans, is known to be present.

Pertinent Article: New research shows speed of light is a variable

My professional experiences reveal to me a simple truth: the speed of light is not constant. If not constant, and we cannot quantify particulate matter in free space, then distances between our planet and observable planetary bodies beyond our solar system cannot be known with any viable precision.

Now, it’s bedtime. What do you think?

John White

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