Friday, July 28, 2006

Bending light

Back in the early twentieth century scientists were seeking a chance to view a solar eclipse to "prove" Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Specifically, the theory that gravity bends light. The experiment entailed picking a star that would be hidden by the sun during an eclipse and seeking to "see" that star as the result of its light being bent by the sun's massive gravity.

My son Samuel, studying physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, is not particularly a fan of Einstein's theory. He made the observation that HEAT bends light, as anybody can tell on a scorching hot day in the south. He contends that the light frome the star was actually refracted by the sun's extremely hot ATMOSPHERE.

He agrees with me that the speed of light is affected by numerous things, the most obviously being media through which it travels. We agree that there is nothing to prove that outside of the presence of the galaxie's gravity and magnetism, the light of far away galaxies might very well be free of the restraints we put on the "speed of light." We certainly can't disprove this theory, for we have not "observed" the conditions in intergalactic space. This is his favorite answer to the apparent age of the universe due to distances. His theory holds that God created everything "in place" and then allowed it to begin to spread out.

I prefer to accept most of Einstein's theory, and have a lot of respect for Russell Humphrey's "White Hole" cosmology. A good overview of this view can be found at fellow blogspot blogger Scott Nelson. That being said, it is undeniable that heat and an atmosphere could very well account for the apparent gravitational effect on the light from a faraway star.

The point being, I guess, is that sometimes the simplest observations could also be the simplist answers.


hondo said...

Wow! Your son studies physics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University? Now I feel completely unworthy! I studied beer, pizza and women at Ball State University in Muncie, IN from 1978-83 (I thank God for His forgiveness!). Still, I was fascinated by his thoughts about heat bending light. Is that the explanation for the "wavy" heat emanating from a hot grill or a campfire? As for his theory about God creating everything "in place"--that makes a lot of sense to me. I believe that God uses that "plan" with all of us. He creates us with free will and then lets us go.
By the way, I have the link to your site all set up. Thanks for the assist! As a "Son of the South" and a S.C. native yourself, you might be interested in my post on Toy Caldwell. I would be very interested to know if you have any interesting anecdotes about the Caldwells or MTB. Have a great weekend!

Henry Martin said...

Actually, I am not a "native" of SC. It seems like it though, since I came to Greenville over 30 years ago (January or March, 1976). That's over half my life here! I grew up in various towns in north Florida and SW Georgia. I am a 1975 (Dec.) graduate of UGA.

My ancestors, however, DID come from the Upstate. The Smiths and Davises are for sure emigrants from SC to "Greenville" ALA [named, of course, from the "original"!]. The Martins MAY have been here, too, but I don't have anything on my great-grandfather Martin.

I don't know much about the MTB, but I have heard good things about them.

I am not sure if I can agree with your statement of our being "created with a free will" and being "let go" by God. That seems too much like Deism in relation to creation. God's hand is in EVERYTHING; He is not just an observer. But then, I am a Presbyterian.

hondo said...

Don't misunderstand what I mean when I say that God let's us go. I don't mean that God is a disinterested observer watching the world go by. What I mean by that is that God does give us free will--we can choose to love Him and to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, or we can choose to ignore Him. God continually calls to us in a million different ways, and continually invites us to draw nearer to Him. We can choose to ignore His invitation. We can hear Him calling to us because He created us in His own image--God's Holy Spirit speaks to our soul. I believe, though, that the more we exercise our free will by choosing to ignore God, the "deafer" (if that's a word) we become to His voice. There are consequences for exercising our free will!

Henry Martin said...

And so, OUR will over-rules God's will. Then just who is the sovereign here?

My understanding of "free will" is that we WILL do as we want to do -- according to our own will. The problem is, we will want to rebel!

The beauty of God being sovereign is that He choses his subjects and THEN changes their wills to "want to" do what he says. Only when one is in "bondage" to God will he be truly "free" to chose whether to obey Him. Before that, obeying God is NOT what we want to do. Any semblance to obedience is the unregenerate's attempt at "earning" God's acceptance. Not going to happen!

But then, I am a Presbyterian.