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Gravitational Waves: The Shadow Ghosts of Science
by Duane Dunkerson



As Bishop Berkeley noted, skeptics find us to be ignorant. Berkeley could agree that we are blind to the true and real. Everywhere and for anything, something there is that is beyond the power of our comprehension. As Newton wrote - "what the real substance of anything is we know not". Newton in his Opticks felt gravity was of a manifest quality but that its cause (Hume be damned) was of the occult. By use of the occult he meant a hidden cause. For as far as others could go on about a cause for gravity, they used attraction. A mechanical cause, in other words, would suffice. This came down to ideas causing ideas, but that didn't stop them.

Newton was uncomfortable about the linking of gravity and attraction. Newton thought the cause of gravity was real but not material. He wanted to avoid action at a distance. This inconsistently necessitated, mechanically, an agent and that was the "aether". How else to prevent a loss of affect? (How could you or I have ideas, and think so that the thought could have an effect - an action? If you read what Plato wrote and act on it, isn't that action at a distance or, if you will, a contemporary writes it, you read it, and then you act?) But Berkeley wanted causation, in general, to go away. He replaced it with analogy and similarity. He agreed gravity was universal but that it did not control what did not yet exist. Newton agreed.

In regard to matter of whatever description, those favoring attraction found matter proportional to gravity. Gravity itself presupposed extension. If matter, extended, were to be bound up with gravity, then matter needed a base, a support, something to rest on. It couldn't just "be" but it couldn't have a design.

Berkeley went so far as to find attraction to be of the human world, a metaphor if applied to the inanimate. Things fall unaided. Enough said. If we go on into causation, with attraction, we (hello Hume) come to a lack of a sensible quality. It is of the Newtonian occult, best not go there. Not by occult is meant black magic but a hidden, unknowable agency. To remain in the sensible is to have it as good as it gets and the skeptics can be safely ignored. Stay clear of methodologically useful fictions.

They do try to reassert themselves via force and matter and the magic vase of Circe so notes Berkeley in his comments on Torricelli. The vase is matter and it contains force. It contains the gravitational force which has momentum which requires velocity which requires motion. Gravity is said to be in acting though no motion be apparent. If suddenly motion appears then the conclusion is formed that it had to be there at the time previously. How far back in time must one go? How far back in spacetime? Newton did not bring together time and space. For him attraction as per gravity was a mathematical hypothesis. Einstein put gravity on a geometric footing. Gravity, for him, was curvature, a curvature of spacetime. Did spacetime via Einstein go beyond hypothesis? It is today certainly not taken as other than a sensible quality and gravitational waves are said to be warps in spacetime.

The warped Earth in spacetime is subject to a force it applies to itself. So it weighs less than it should. Putting the subject this way presupposes gravity and Earth are one and the same. That is, as if Earth owned, so to speak, its gravity. Rather odd, but the alternative is to have no connection for Earth and gravity. The actual presupposition is for gravity. Gravity comes first and always is in existence. Then comes Earth and all else. Gravity is ubiquitous, Earth is not. If one says "Earth's gravity" one must mean gravity as applied to Earth. Gravity can get along quite well without Earth but Earth can't do without gravity, or, can't exist without gravity.

Then the newer, compared to Berkeley and Newton's concerns, bedrock for us is not ether but a spacetime - a spacetime that is supportive because it is curved. It seems that a flatline would represent no existence. Spacetime is nothing unless curved. One occurrence involving spacetime is gravity. A further occurrence thereafter is Earth. The Earth can be a familiar globe or the teeming foam of the quantum stage. In the latter case, spacetime provides no support. If one must have a support for the quanta, then it can't have a size. The Earth and all other occurrences for spacetime have a size as attribute. For the quanta, size does not matter. Occurrences there do not partake of objects.

(Can these non-objects be related to us? We have quantum effects at work for us every day. They are of the same Universe are they not? Presumably, yes we are of the same Universe. Though now, if of the quantum world, we can't safely speak about them. Since there are quantum effects then there must be quanta. But as far as we are concerned, now, they are functioning without support, no bedrock. This could be all to the good to be able to get away at long last from mechanics and into a quantum zone that has no need of supports. But, then, it may be beyond our description.)

Gravitational waves

Within our description are gravitational waves that are changes in the pre-existing curvature of spacetime. No one has detected gravitational waves (G waves). It has been argued, and a Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded, on indirect evidence of their reality in the Hulse-Taylor binary star system.
The Hulse-Taylor binary system is a special case of stellar interaction and G waves themselves are special cases of manifestations of change of position of objects in the Universe. Gravity is everywhere; it is what "is" without question anywhere and anytime. But G waves aren't all that common, they are sometimes and somewhere present. With G waves one has found an effect of acceleration of certain objects under certain conditions. Earlier on, in Newton's time, the acceleration was a given. In the realm of G waves it is a must. Finding G waves doesn't mean finding gravity.

J. Weber (I)

G waves were allegedly found in the 60s by Joseph Weber. He found a great many G waves at what were rather high rates. His devices are now called Weber bars. They are large solid bars of metal isolated from any and all outside interference. At least, it is asserted that they can be free of interference. Joseph Weber became a pariah of the physics community because of his adamant repeated declaration that his G wave detectors were proving the reality of G waves. Others did not think this to be the case and others did not find this to be the case. His bars were to be strained by the passage of G waves. The strain could cause the bar to resonant at a characteristic frequency and then it could be amplified. His claims were violently disputed in the 70s. The principal detractors were Richard Garwin and David Douglas in 1974.

G waves and interferometry

Since the 70s the bars have been updated with cryogenics and quantum devices. Only extremely large gravitational effects can be recorded by these bars. Presumably lesser waves can be noted by using laser interferometry involving objects of detection that are far apart. A wide range of frequencies are detectable as opposed to a Weber bar's resonant frequency. The wide ranges are sought from equipment spread over miles. LIGO, for example, has an interferometer at Livingston, Louisiana, and two more at Richland, Washington. LIGO, Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, is the most sensitive wave detection hopeful among the world's interferometric G wave operations. Beyond the world, in orbit, could be G wave detectors of the future. Earth bound interferometry is beset by various problems like shot noise that is random photons, thermal noise, seismic noise, crackle and pop from electrical atmospheric storms, the groan of stressed mechanical structures, and man-made activities that generate occasional interference.


G waves do not propagate through spacetime, they are alterations of spacetime, as oscillations. Einstein's general theory of relativity has gravity not as a force. Spacetime can be distorted or curved by the presence of massive objects. So is spacetime prior to mass or simultaneous or synonymous? Note that "prior" relies on time but we have spacetime. Can anything be prior to spacetime? In the old sense, what is prior to time is like asking what is prior to prior. When a person is writing about "curved" spacetime, "ripples" in spacetime and so on this is implied via imagery to be curvature or rippling of space. How does one curve or ripple time? But of course the error is to separate space and time. (But if spacetime is rippled or curved then it has structure. A structure has support. But then this way of thinking is erroneous and spacetime has no structure, no support. No physicality, no reality. It is a mathematical entity, an hypothesis. Existent only.) The ripples in spacetime are very weak. They are a travelling distortion of the geometry of space. Such ripples will jiggle any physical body it encounters. This jiggling occurs in space. But spacetime, as a concept, means time is jiggled too. What is jiggled time? Jiggled space is easily enough made known. Weber was looking for jiggled space. But G waves are jiggles in spacetime.

J. Weber (II)

To detect jiggles in spacetime, Weber of the University of Maryland in College Park used solid aluminum cylinders, about 2 meters long and 1 meter in diameter and suspended them on steel wires. G waves would set one of these cylinders vibrating at its resonant frequency - at about 1660 hertz and piezoelectric crystals attached to the cylinder would convert that resonance into an electrical signal. Weber claimed that his setup had only one source of noise and that was from random thermal motion of the aluminum atoms that made up his bar. This noise would have made the bar vary in length by, at most the diameter of a proton. This less than a proton diameter was a dimension he said he had often found exceeding a threshold for occurrence. This threshold was a moving target. Sometimes it was at one level then another. Also, the threshold, once located, wasn't precise. So a fuzzy threshold was a cross he had to bear.

That he was so afflicted would not be evident for some years. He continued to time and again find an abundance of G waves. In 1969, by then using 2 detectors separated by hundreds of miles, he announced that both detectors were receiving G waves. He noted such a plethora of signals should not usually come about for thousands of years. In 1970 he was recording more and more G waves and, more startling; they were coming from the center of the Milky Way. To verify and validate Weber's reports others built Weber bars and found nothing like what Weber was getting. It was thought that Weber, since he was an electrical engineer before he became a physicist, wasn't conducting proper data analysis. As with his thresholds, the analysis wasn't defined properly and allowed for subjectivity to enter. Also, some theorists of the time were caught off guard by the signal strength and the number of signals found. If Weber was correct, then astrophysics, if not basic physics itself, would have to be rewritten. In the hippie-dippy tenor of the times, such was seen as a possibility.

As noted, the possibility of the experimental pursuit of G waves began with Joseph Weber. The main account of his efforts to establish the reality of G waves comes from Harry Collins's book, "Gravity's Shadow, the Search for Gravitational Waves". Mr. Collins also wrote of the opposition of Weber's discoveries. Mr. Collins also wrote on sociological methods as they pertain to the yes or no of G waves. Mr. Collins produced text that has a sprawl derived from diversions that are perhaps feints in regard to the subtitled search. One feint could be noting that Weber's detection of G waves gained some traction from being announced during an era of American physics when, in America, soldiers returning from Nam were routinely spat upon. Pot smoke floated thick around protests and demonstrations. Law and order had no place in a promiscuous counterculture. The cultural boundaries for literature, film, medicine, physics, politics and most other expressions of thought were ended. There was at least a pseudo-youthful feverish rush to many activities like into certain sections of science.

Mr. Weber was already there and he was successful, at least in his mind, about having found G waves. Until 1960, all was theory. No one conceived of an apparatus that could find G waves. He most certainly wasn't making it all out of thin air. But what was it? G waves, per the Universe, should be abundant. Well then they could be weakly, very weakly, abundant. Even if very weak, still the Universe is rather formidable as to number of objects in various categories. (But could G waves found by Weber's unreliable detectors or otherwise vanish by an effect akin to Olbers paradox?) In 1962 a Weber detector in operation from 5:30 AM May 12 to 6:30 AM 48 hours later recorded an off scale event. Another off scale event had happened on May 8 to May 9. On the one hand such a detected magnitude meant a momentous discovery of a stunningly great energy source. On the other hand, it was concluded that it could be noise.

Either it was noise or it was something out there vastly asymmetric that had happened. Neutron stars in binary format at the end of their orbit could give rise to a powerful quiver. Unfortunately, for Weber, many others over the years had come to think all that he knew to be G waves were noise - be it experimental or mental. There was a span of time in which he had the G wave detector field to himself. Any and all of his detections later became suspect and a chance of a once in 1,000 year possibility might have been detected but that was before others pronounced it impossible. If he found a lot of signals, his threshold of detection could be said to be too low. If he raised the threshold, fewer signals resulted and they were too few for too many of the later researchers. Some had gotten positive results supporting Weber but they did not want to be seen as backing the wrong horse.

As criticism mounted, Weber came up with the idea of having a time delay inserted into analysis of coincident signals from two detectors. Also, his bars should have been preferential in detection from differing directions. He found they were doing so. Likely too, if they were G waves, they would produce data reoccurring in sidereal time and not solar time. He found that also. He did data analysis for delay, direction, and time with differing statistical methods. One method could give better results than another. If a still better outcome could be found, then that method was used. Picking the best doesn't mean one is using the best. This is known as statistical massage. Weber would not get on the same page as others who used, for example, an amplitude signal-processing algorithm while he continued to use an energy algorithm. Others used electrostatics to put in false signals to test their apparatus but Weber wouldn't do it.

To better understand Weber's battles and their outcome, Mr. Collins wanted to resurrect à la Proust the combat down to the level of skirmishes. At such a level, Mr. Collins could and did participate in the action. Fully engaged, locked and loaded, he found out about G waves through hearsay and socialization from those prominent in G wave research. But without a doubt, Weber was Mr. Collins's main man. Weber died September 31, 2000. He was 81. Besides the U of Maryland and U of Cal at Irvine, he had been at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton where he was affected by Oppenheimer and Wheeler. Dyson had pushed him.

Weber's research flourished when it was a solitary or nearly solitary game. Many potential researchers refused or at least were very reluctant to get into the game since getting meaningful results would be almost impossible. Perhaps they had read Epictetus - "Men are harried, not so much by things, as by their notions of things". Once the field of researchers engaging in the detection of G waves got even a few entrants then competition started. Competition was inevitable given that the object of the game was to catch a faint signal, a ghostly one or a shadow of a presence and to do so repeatedly or without question.

Weber was free at the beginning of the game to pick a threshold for the signal. If that threshold was reached or surpassed then he had an occurrence. The other early researchers came in the game and picked other thresholds. All of them, freshly active, could get along by doing it themselves and spending in the low thousands. Later, they needed hundreds of people and spending was in the millions. This transformation in quantity of personnel and money altered the expectation of what results counted for anything. The game of the ghost, find the ghost, or alternatively let the recordable shadow fall across the apparatus had to be repeated nor lack a question as to if it was fact, now altered.

Without the new facts, the merits of the data a researcher could get were judged acceptable or not based on personal qualities of the researcher or an opinion about that person's country or institution. If the experimental outcome could not drive the science, the theoretical aspect took control and then the theoreticians asserted that only certain results were valid or could become valid. To quality as acceptable came to mean satisfying the theoretician, never mind what your apparatus was doing. Scientific determinism, "causally constipated" was brought to bear on Weber. This is a "democracy of physical causes" that puts the execution of Caesar and the starting of Brian the Bulb on the same footing.

Weber went beyond the apparatus to obtain the means by which the apparatus could be supplying the data he was getting and, later, what he expected. He thought his detectors were more sensitive thanks to metastable states and multiplication factors. No one bought this. Nevertheless some G wave researchers were quite willing to release two sets of data, one of which was false. Imagine Newton or Einstein adopting such a procedure. Weber didn't knowingly publish papers having false data so as to fake out others. The false data people gave the sets out as a test. Post docs and full professors were being tested. Did they get at least a passing grade? Some must flunk, as always, lost and forgotten to science because the huge interferometer projects had to have someone seen to fail in order for the project to survive. It had become a Congressional funding matter in the millions of dollars. A little old cryogenic bar simply must not call into question the vast and primly proper enterprise of interferometic detection of G waves.

This nefarious sort of activity is not science. If G waves are under scientific discussion then such activity is unwarranted. Mr. Collins relates how Garwin and Levine could pave the way for the interferometer crowd by experimenting with apparatus, on the scale of a toy some said, devised to most thoroughly discredit Weber. Mr. Collins puts it in stronger terms but the foregoing will suffice. A change in Weber's reality by Weber acting upon himself was desired, to be imposed on him, if necessary, by external controlling agents. Can you spell "revisionism" as in the style of the Soviets?

How does science or its lesser but more virile relation, scientism, proceed? Mr. Collins quotes Planck's dictum of "science progresses funeral by funeral". Once the Old Guard gives up the ghost, or shadow, we can get on with it. Actually, the reputation for and activating of scientific demise can proceed death- as it happened to Weber. It was aided by snobs acting like high school kids and abetted by bullies acting like grade school kids. Onward the scientists rocket with some caught in research programs of institutions having their own "financial and cognitive" agendas. In the G wave field they teeter into disbelief and defenders have recourse to the implausible. Nevertheless, was there any doubt that the "inferometeers" would prevail against the "resonateers"? Meanwhile sideshows erupted that maimed all concerned as in the Vogt-Drever nonsense (as related by Mr. Collins) demonstrated in the LIGO scheme of things. Such sober (?) scientists carried on most reprehensively.

Enough already. For heaven's sake, where are the G waves? They haven't been found. The science, such as it is, has to be sifted out of the personalities, money, politics, double-dealing, statistical massages, scheming, and bad luck. An A for effort doesn't cut it.

Wo ist das spacetime?
All this is beside the point if spacetime isn't real. Maybe it exists, as concept and mathematically useful. That could be as far as it goes. In "A World Without Time" by Yourgrau, with an emphasis on time in what follows, Yourgrau states Einstein defined time in terms of its measurement with clocks and so set a limit. Time became no longer an absolute; it was limited to a frame of measurement. Einstein transformed time into space. Many others maintain something similar.

Yet it has been noticed that Einstein in a review of Meyerson's "La déduction relativiste" praised Meyerson for not doing a spatialization of time. Time and space, said Einstein, are fused into one continuum but the continuum is not isotropic. The element of spatial distance and the element of duration were to remain distinct in nature. Yourgrau, in regard to time as space, stated Einstein was inconsistent for a philosophical assessment of the mathematics of relativity. Yourgrau also notes Einstein was in agreement with Meyerson that the temporal component of spacetime was not a fourth spatial dimension. However, there is the rigid 4-dimensional space of special relativity. Einstein, Yourgrau further states, mentioned that past, present, and future have only the significance of a stubborn illusion and that "now" means something which physics cannot speak to. (Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics, described an instant as not a part of time since it is not extended, not an interval, and does not have duration.)

Kurt Gödel, the main subject of Yourgrau's book, went on many walks with Einstein at the Institute. Gödel had found that by relativity's lights, one could revisit the past. But then if so, it has never "passed". A time that fails to pass is not time at all. Kant, Einstein, and Gödel knew space and time were the fundamentals of human experience. But it was space that was the natural object of scientific inquiry. There is also motion. This is change of position and position could, in error, be said to be in space. But there is no place to put the position (or as they came to be, points) in anything. There is no supporting structure, no mechanical props. No ether, no absolute space or absolute time, no spacetime - if they must be real to support action at a distance or what have you.

Yougrau maintains that Einstein and Gödel well knew that time, not space, poses the greater scientific challenge. The dynamic nature of time, the fact that it flows, is its most striking feature. Kant, thinking of time, made it into an analogy. Science is geometrical in that it puts all it deals with subject to space. Time, in order to be dealt with, is done by analogy. So time, scientifically, becomes spatial. Einstein geometrized (he could not timetrize) physics and time got into spacetime. It became a fourth component. But then matter had to enter and then came general relativity but the Universe was found to expand, expanding over time. Special relativity has simultaneity as not absolute. It is local and relative. So how could the Universe be expanding, absolutely, over time? Einstein's metaphysics has the speed of light in the definition of time and motion. Time was relative to the motion of the observer and frames related to the speed of light. For the formalism of physics Einstein abandoned intuitions of space and time.

Yougrau finds that the advent of relativity enabled one for the first time to question the reality of time into a theoretical context amenable to formal mathematical methods. Are there the ontological implications of relativity such as can one maintain both the existence of intuitive time and the truth of relativity theory? Special relativity was epistemologically (the speed of light) inspired. Einstein had drawn ontological conclusions from epistemological premises. Then Gödel wanted to answer the question - is the temporal component of the fourth dimension of spacetime really time?

Yougrau reports Gödel put together a world model for the equations of general relativity that had a geometry so difficult that the temporal component of spacetime could not reasonably be seen as representing intuitive time. His spaceship, and he calculated the fuel it needed, would travel so that B was before A in time. So Gödel reasoned that the spacetime of his world was a space and the time component of spacetime was another spatial dimension. It was not the time of our ordinary experience. Gödel found nothing wrong with relativity. It is intuitive time that has the problems. Time is illusory if it is intuitive time.

Time, our time, is usually thought to have three parts. Two of the three are illusory in that they are not real. They are the past and the future. The third part is the present. Just how real is spacetime? How much of the present does it partake? Nothing. None of Einstein's calculations pertaining to spacetime are real. That is so if your preoccupation is with intuitive time. A horse of a different color comes into play if the concern is with time as a fourth dimension integrated into 3-D space.

Clocks in Einstein's world aren't the ones on the mantelpiece or those in towers like the one in Muri he gestured to as he spoke to Besso. They are a starting point, finally they become of a time "t" not like them. It is illusory that they be the same. We are of the now or more properly we were "now". We have been of the now. Einstein's time is one of measurement, always of the past. How do we know this? Memory.

Memory is first, last, always. It is who we are, it is them, and it is what is. It is it. Memory remembers. For a long time we have known of short term and long term memory. What of the fastest memory - of what we perceive constantly? The memory of perception. But then memory is usually referred to in the context of remembering. It is a memory that we have memory of. Einstein's clocks and, to a lesser profundity for most of us, time is of the perceived, the perceptive world. This perception is a fleeting and fleeing memory. Memory is imposed on us. It is involuntary. Undoubtedly one can suppress memory. One can improve it too but it was there to start with.

Yourgrau's book portrays differences in philosophical stances of some scientists. Realism and idealism are described in his book. They are equivalent to differing degrees of consensus, a consensus of memory. Having the most consensus is realism. Less of a consensus is there for idealism. Any consensus is one of individuals. All is subjective though consensus must be found for Others, for objectivity and, thus, the real world. Motion, such as it is, is memory. Memory it IT, there is no other. We remember "change in position", we "perceive" via memory. We have consensus via memory. Thus comes "reality." We remember sounds and so comes language. We remember symbols, letters and words, and we write. So we communicate. Many people revel in how defective is our memory. Well then, we aren't "we".

Is this all too much a truism? We glide or bump along taking it for granted that "it" is what is, given to us. See, hear, touch - but it all comes from memory. Memory is extremely pervasive. There is no getting outside it. It is involuntary. It "comes with the territory" - however you twist and turn, no other, no choice. If you have memory, this is it. Without memory you are done. You aren't "you" and you simply "are not". If our "objectivity", your reality, is apart from memory (however that could be arranged) then it is false.

We must have memory and then "remember" in order to know we are thinking. Thinking doesn't require knowing, "perceiving" - memory at its quickest. But to know we are thinking is to remember. We recall the perception, we think of it, with it, compose a memory, then we remember that.
Time itself isn't remembered. What was is remembered. What is, is what we generalize (not conceptualize) as "space". Occurrence is memory, remembering an occurrence is memory. There is quick memory and another memory. The only route to reality is through memory. Remembering memory, as it were, is time. There is no "time" except as concept, nor is there "space" unless as concept.



Unfound gravitational waves searched for diligently by hundreds with millions of dollars at their disposal can produce excursions into the weird. Such excursions come about because hundreds are at it and millions go unrewarded and because the waves are elusive and because theory says they must remain so.
JASON reported in 2008 on high frequency gravitational waves. The abstract reads:

"JASON was asked by staff at the National MASINT Committee of ODNI to evaluate the scientific, technological, and national security significance of high frequency gravitational waves (HFGW). Our main conclusions are that the proposed applications of the science of HFGW are fundamentally wrong; that there can be no security threat; and that independent scientific and technical vetting of such hypothetical threats is generally necessary. We conclude that previous analysis of the Li-Baker detector concept is incorrect by many orders of magnitude; and that the following are infeasible in the foreseeable future: detection of the natural "relic" HFGW, which are reliably predicted to exist; or detection of artificial sources of HFGW. No foreign threat in HFGW is credible, including: Communication by means of HFGW; Object detection or imaging (by HFGW radar or tomography); Vehicle propulsion by HFGW; or any other practical use of HFGW. For the relatively weak fields in the lab, on the Earth, or indeed in the solar system (far from the cutting-edge science of black holes of the Big Bang), the general theory of relativity and its existing experimental basis are complete, accurate and reliable."

The report in its later sections touches on the Li-Baker fractal membrane that is immersed in a Gaussian beam of microwave energy. The optics used can be equivalent to "allowing free divergence of the photons without optics at all". JASON affirms that no magic is involved and that the calculations are ridiculous or grossly wrong. They regard benefits and applications as unlikely and submit that actually use of the word "unlikely" is concluded to be "a totally inappropriate exaggeration".


Shadow ghosts

Shadow ghosts can be dark gray to black. They are earthbound. They are extremely evasive though cats and birds easily sense them. Some shadow ghosts have hats. They can be found with detectors powered by AA batteries that sound a tone when detection is successful. The detectors come with instructions about how to conduct a ghost hunt.


















Copyright © 2012
by Duane Dunkerson

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