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A Changing Speed of Light?

A Quick Reference to the Problems with Setterfield's c-Decay Claims

Here's a quick guide to just some of the problems inherent in Barry Setterfield's c-Decay claims. Some of these items are already covered in detail in the document available on the main c-decay page. Others are under development for future release(s).

No complete dataset of speed-of-light vs. time is available.
Searching his site, he presents, at best, sparsely sampled points and partial functions of this import quantity - nothing that definitively covers the values from the time of creation to the present day. He claims both quantization and 'oscillations' in the values, yet I've found none of these clearly represented in his functional forms or data tables. Attempts to reconcile the 'datasets' he does provide generates bizarre and inconsistent results.

Intrinsic Redshifts and/or Propagation Redshifts?
Setterfield never clearly delineates which part of his claimed redshift is due to an intrinsic change in the emission properties of the source and which part is due to the differential arrival time of the propagating photons. He seems to invoke a mystical it just happens that way mechanism based on a single function of dynamical time. There is no experimental justification for such a model.

Ignores Propagation Effects due to changing speed of Light
Consider Car 1 leaves Point A at some speed that is slowly decreasing and Car 2 leaves the same Point A an hour later, always travelling slower than Car 1. Will they arrive at Point B an hour apart? No. Photons, either as wave or quanta, still obey this principle (that's how we measure the speed of light). This differential arrival time can be precisely calculated for any variation of speed with time. Setterfield defines a uniform dynamical timescale which would readily distinguish lightspeed propagation changes from intrinsic emission source changes, but invokes it whenever it suits him, not in a physically consistent manner, and inconsistent with observations.

A Multitude of 'Quantum' Errors
These points are based off Setterfield's work "ATOMIC QUANTUM STATES, LIGHT, AND THE REDSHIFT". This paper is full of notational bizarreness and mathematical inconsistencies which makes it difficult to decipher.

  • The Bohr Model only worked for a limited case of 2-body systems, yet Setterfield applies it to the cosmos which is considerably more than a 2-body system. He does this with no experimental justification. Contrary to Setterfield's claim, wave mechanics is not a 'refinement' of the Bohr Model, it totally replaces the Bohr Model and has far better agreement with experiment across a larger variety of systems.

  • Between Equations 108 and 110, Setterfield changes the definition of his variable, x. Does he realize what the physics implications of this are? In fact, they generate physically inconsistent results and are inconsistent with other claims on the same page!

  • Setterfield's relationship, c = k z, suggests either that the speed of light must be zero today (since z close to the Earth must be zero for regular Doppler effects to dominate), or that z is non-zero close to the Earth (since the speed of light is still finite at the Earth)! This equation is inconsistent with observations. He tries to 'quantum jump' the problems away, but where does it link to any observable?

A Plethora of Free-Parameters
It appears that whenever Setterfield's 'theory' gets into trouble, he tosses in another free parameter. These are done in a way that generates mathematical and physical inconsistences (such as with equations 108 and 110 mentioned above). This makes Setterfield's theory ad hoc, and therefore useless since it has no predictive power to test.

General Sloppy Presentation
Due to the rather inconsistent organization of Setterfield's site, it is virtually impossible to track the 'progress' of this alledged theory. It is extremely difficult to find relevant data (such as details of his c vs. time function) without slogging through a bunch of improperly HTMLized mathematics. This is inexcusable in an era with numerous Open Source and free software tools available which can properly typeset mathematics. If I were peer-reviewing this site for usability by the scientific community, it would not pass.

Last Modified: Tue Nov 24 23:41:15 2009