piclist 2001\11\05\014624a >
Thread: how does a radar detector work?
picon face BY : Russell McMahon email (remove spam text)

> At 03:44 PM 11/5/01 +1200, Steve Baldwin wrote:
> > > While the constant known as the speed of light has served us well in
> > > the past, it may not be as "constant" as we have believed. There is
> > > credible work that challenges the accepted figure as a limit.
> >
> >I have no idea about this "credible work", but as a layman in the
> >subject, the speed of light does seem to make the assumption that
> >time is constant. Is it ?
> >Wrap your mind around that one. :-)
> Discovery channel this summer had a show on cosmology, near the end of the
> show, they discussed some evidence that the fine structure constant may
> be (constant).

Plotting early measurements and known error ranges of the speed of light
suggest that it has been falling at a decreasing rate over the last
millennia and that the curve is now "flattening out" to the stage that we
can consider it essentially constant. There are other interpretations of the
same data.

There is no known reason for the speed to BE constant or to have a
particular value.
There is not even, AFAIK, a REASON for it to have the same value in distant
localities although it would certainly pervert our ideas of the laws of
Physics if it did and require a few cosmological texts to be revised..

There are a surprising number of physical parameters which are inter-related
in such a manner that usual measurements which depend on some of them will
always reveal the same value for others even if there has been a change, due
to their inter-related nature. The speed of light is one such.

A simplistic analogy is attempting to measure the oscillator frequency of a
digital frequency meter using the meter. If a 10 MHz crystal is used then it
will appear produce a 10.000000 MHz signal no matter what its TRUE frequency
is, as the functioning of the meter depends on the initial assumption of
correct crystal frequency.

   Russell McMahon

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