Spitzer and Hubble discover strobe-like flashes in suspected binary protostar

Feb 07, 2013
NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes have teamed up to uncover a mysterious infant star that behaves like a police strobe light. Credit: NASA, ESA, J. Muzerolle (STScI), E. Furlan (NOAO and Caltech), K. Flaherty (Univ. of Ariz./Steward Observatory), Z. Balog (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy), and R. Gutermuth (Univ. Mass. Amherst)

(Phys.org)—Two of NASA's great observatories, the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes, have teamed up to uncover a mysterious infant star that behaves like a strobe light.

Every 25.34 days, the object, designated LRLL 54361, unleashes a burst of light. Although a similar phenomenon has been observed in two other young , this is the most powerful such beacon seen to date.

The heart of the fireworks is hidden behind a dense disk and envelope of dust. Astronomers propose the light flashes are caused by periodic interactions between two newly formed stars that are binary, or gravitationally bound to each other. LRLL 54361 offers insights into the early stages of star formation when lots of gas and dust is being rapidly accreted, or pulled together, to form a new .

Astronomers theorize the flashes are caused by material suddenly being dumped onto the growing stars, known as protostars. A blast of radiation is unleashed each time the stars get close to each other in their orbits. This phenomenon, called pulsed accretion, has been seen in later stages of , but never in such a young system or with such intensity and regularity.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This video, created from a sequence of images from the Hubble Space Telescope, shows a pulse of light emanating from the protostellar object LRLL 54361. Most if not all of this light results from scattering off circumstellar dust in the protostellar envelope. An apparent edge-on disk, visible at the center of the object, and three separate structures are interpreted as outflow cavities. The extent and shape of the scattered light changes substantially over a 25.3-day period. This is caused by the propagation of the light pulse through the nebula. Astronomers propose that the flashes are due to material in a circumstellar disk suddenly being dumped onto the growing stars and unleashing a blast of radiation each time the stars get close to each other in their orbit. The false-color, near-infrared light photos are from Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Muzerolle (STScI) and G. Bacon (STScI)

"This has such large brightness variations with a precise period that it is very difficult to explain," said James Muzerolle of the Science Institute in Baltimore, Md. His paper recently was published in the science journal Nature.

Discovered by NASA's , LRLL 54361 is a variable object inside the star-forming region IC 348, located 950 light-years from Earth. Data from Spitzer revealed the presence of protostars. Based on statistical analysis, the two stars are estimated to be no more than a few hundred thousand years old.

This infrared image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows an image of protostellar object LRLL 54361 and its rich cosmic neighbourhood, a region called IC 348. The protostar, which is the bright object with fan-like beams of light coming from it, located towards the right of the image, is letting off flashes of light every 25.3 days. Credit: NASA, ESA, and J. Muzerolle (STScI)

The Spitzer , collected repeatedly during a period of seven years, showed unusual outbursts in the brightness of the suspected binary protostar. Surprisingly, the outbursts recurred every 25.34 days, which is a very rare phenomenon.

Astronomers used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to confirm the Spitzer observations and reveal the detailed stellar structure around LRLL 54361. Hubble observed two cavities above and below a dusty disk. The cavities are visible by tracing light scattered off their edges. They likely were blown out of the surrounding natal envelope of dust and gas by an outflow launched near the central stars. The disk and the envelope prevent the suspected binary star pair from being observed directly. By capturing multiple images over the course of one pulse event, the Hubble observations uncovered a spectacular movement of light away from the center of the system, an optical illusion known as a light echo.

Muzerolle and his team hypothesized the pair of stars in the center of the dust cloud move around each other in a very eccentric orbit. As the stars approach each other, dust and gas are dragged from the inner edge of a surrounding disk. The material ultimately crashes onto one or both , which triggers a flash of light that illuminates the circumstellar dust. The system is rare because close binaries account for only a few percent of our galaxy's stellar population. This is likely a brief, transitory phase in the birth of a star system.

Muzerolle's team next plans to continue monitoring LRLL 54361 using other facilities including the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope. The team hopes to eventually obtain more direct measurements of the binary star and its .

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dschlink
5 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2013
"That's weird" is the basis for most advances in science. I hope to be around when this is figured out and what it implies for star formation and evolution.
Caliban
2.5 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2013
Possible stellar-scale evidence for the recently observed magnetic domain migration process?
Whatever it is, it is sure to advance our understanding of stellar formation.
It would be nice to find an example of very early trinary(or more) star system development for comparison.
Urgelt
4.7 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
This interpretation makes me uncomfortable. The problem is with the precision of the timing. Each pulse of light would require an influx of nearly precisely the exact same mass as prior pulses, in order to produce the same pulse strength.

Have they ruled out the possibility that the system is generating a consistent beam of light from continuous inflow of material, and that the 'pulse' is due to the beam swinging toward us due to orbital mechanics?
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2013
Each pulse of light would require an influx of nearly precisely the exact same mass as prior pulses, in order to produce the same pulse strength.

I'd think an variable type output would be more of a doozy. This seems to be a process of buildup to a tipping point and then non-linear dumping. There's no reason why the tipping point should vary - all else being equal.
rkolter
not rated yet Feb 08, 2013
Do we know that it is exactly the same strength pulse? I know the video seems to show that, but a difference of just a few percent might be glaringly obvious in the data but less so in the video?
HannesAlfven
1.6 / 5 (7) Feb 08, 2013
So, protostars involve regular, stable periodic pulses, oftentimes along filaments ... Whatever this is, it is most certainly NOT like an electrical transmission line, and whatever we do, we should not imagine that the plasma phenomenon of Marklund convection might be involved. After all, that's not what the textbooks say ...
Fleetfoot
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2013
This interpretation makes me uncomfortable. The problem is with the precision of the timing. Each pulse of light would require an influx of nearly precisely the exact same mass as prior pulses, in order to produce the same pulse strength.


The precision of the timing can just be due to the stability of the orbital period.

Have they ruled out the possibility that the system is generating a consistent beam of light from continuous inflow of material, and that the 'pulse' is due to the beam swinging toward us due to orbital mechanics?


If we only saw a pulse from a point, that would be reasonable but if you watch the video, you can see the light echo spreading out in several directions as if a sphere of light were illuminating the surroundings. There doesn't seem to be evidence of any directionality.
Fleetfoot
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 08, 2013
So, protostars involve regular, stable periodic pulses,


In some cases.

oftentimes along filaments


You are halucinating, there is no mention of "filaments" in the article, nor could any be seen due to the obscuring dust.

Whatever this is, it is most certainly NOT like an electrical transmission line,


Correct, not in the slightest.

and whatever we do, we should not imagine that the plasma phenomenon of Marklund convection might be involved. After all, that's not what the textbooks say ...


Correct, we should not "imagine", we should use the scientific method.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2013
Re: "You are halucinating, there is no mention of "filaments" in the article, nor could any be seen due to the obscuring dust."

You can indeed legitimately infer that you are seeing a rotating beam of light illuminating material surrounding the protostar, but where you seem to derail is when you propose that other people CANNOT infer plasma switching from dark to glow mode, in response to a charge transfer, along what can very fairly be called filaments.

All you've accomplished here is to give preferential treatment to your preferred inference that this supports the hypothesis of gravitational accretion. That's not the "scientific method". That is human psychology. The scientific method would involve philosophy of science, which is unsympathetic to personal preferences in the inferential step.

We can clearly see that protostars routinely form along filaments, btw. Whether or not you personally want to infer that in this particular case, that is not actually a controversy.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2013
We need a reality check here: A universe which is claimed to be 95% invisible to our instruments leaves an extraordinary amount of wiggle room for competing cosmological theories. We can *pretend* that it is impossible to create a competing electrical cosmology here, given such a situation, but are you not able to see that the dark matter is simply placed where it needs to be, in order to make the entire paradigm work?

There used to be a CalTech lecture by Sean Carroll up on YouTube where Carroll attempted to explain why MOND was inferior to dark matter. At the end of the lecture, a student spoke up:

"Can we go back to the bullet cluster? I think there's a danger in over-stating the case, and the danger is that you gave a long story about the past history, and the interpretation of where the stuff is. You don't know all of that. You have a plausible story. You see some stuff. People try to think, 'Gee, what could cause this?' ...

[cont'd]
Q-Star
4 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2013
There used to be a CalTech lecture by Sean Carroll up on YouTube where Carroll attempted to explain why MOND was inferior to dark matter. At the end of the lecture, a student spoke up,,,,,,,,,


Sean is one of the greatest teachers I know,,, and a top tier cosmologist,,, I'm thinking the student might have been a mediocre student at best.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2013
[cont'd]

"... And, you know, there's a pretty good story for that. But, you don't know that that's the whole story. You've gotta a whole kind of history -- a biography of astronomy which you wouldn't want to use in too sharp a way."

The video has since been taken down.

There is Science; there is pseudoscience; and there is critical thinking. The tricky part is that critical thinking and pseudoscience share a couple of features -- namely, the questioning of assumptions and listening to critics.

Cosmology and astrophysics can fairly be called ill-structured, data-starved domains. Hell, parallax only works to 1% the diameter of the Milky Way. The basis for our current cosmological and astrophysical theories is grounded in a mechanical belief system which preceded an ability to observe the enormity of the universe's electromagnetic spectrum. It took many, many years just to convince establishment scientists to believe that the Milky Way was emitting cosmic radio waves ...
Q-Star
3.9 / 5 (7) Feb 08, 2013
[cont'd]"... And, you know, there's a pretty good story for that. But, you don't know that that's the whole story. You've gotta a whole kind of history -- a biography of astronomy which you wouldn't want to use in too sharp a way."


Well then, I suppose I was being a tad too charitable,,, mediocre? Naaa, he probably couldn't pass a reading test over the "See Spot Run" level.

Could someone please interpret that quote for me? It was English, right?
HannesAlfven
1.7 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2013
Re: "Sean is one of the greatest teachers I know,,, and a top tier cosmologist,,, I'm thinking the student might have been a mediocre student at best."

It might help to remind everybody here that the physics PhD qualifying exams test a students' ability to memorize stacks of problem sets. There tend not to be any questions which pertain to philosophy or history of science. Jeff Schmidt has written about this extensively in his book, Disciplined Minds, which offers a scathing critique of the entire physics discipline.

If what you measure is a student's ability to perform "brain tricks", the divergent, critical thinkers will naturally be weeded out. In fact, anybody who stops long enough to think about what they are memorizing is toast.

How you measure success in the physics discipline can very easily be correlated with the disciplined culture of the physics community. And to the public, the apparent consensus which predictably results from this approach can look like consensus.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
Perhaps this will help ...

From http://www.julesn...6489.htm

"MR: When you first thought of writing this book, you were in graduate school, right?

JS: Yes, that's right. I got interested int he topic when I was going to professional training myself, getting a PhD in physics at the University of California, Irvine. It seemed like the best of my fellow graduate students were either dropping out or being kicked out. And by 'best,' those were the most concerned about other people and seemed less self-centered, less narrowly-focused, most friendly people...they seemed to be handicapped in the competition. They seemed to be at a disadvantage not only because their attention was divided, but because their concerns about big picture issues like justice and the social role of the profession and so on, caused them to stop and think and question, whereas their unquestioning gung-ho classmates just plowed right through with nothing to hold them back."

[cont'd]
HannesAlfven
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 08, 2013
[cont'd]

"As I mentioned, there's about a 50% drop-out rate for students entering University programs in all fields; and what I found was that this weeding out is not politically neutral. To put it bluntly, the programs favor ass-kissers."

---

We can pretend that we're hot on the trail of eliminating uncertainty in cosmology and astrophysics, but if we let that become our M.O., then we risk asking the same bad questions over and over.

The "constructivist" way of dealing with ill-structured "wicked" problems is to hedge your bets -- in this case, by intentionally elaborating multiple cosmologies.

Now, this might come as a surprise to you, but education reformers today tend to be constructivists. And in something like 22 states now, the new "core" standards permit the instruction of "pseudoscience" (as you would call it) to be taught alongside Science, in order to stimulate critical thinking.

There are already teachers in public schools teaching the Electric Universe, guys.
Q-Star
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 08, 2013
I certainly wouldn't use failed crackpots as a measure of success.

The "establishment conspiracy" mantra is what puts me on notice that the cranks and crackpots are about to enter the debate. Usually with some very old debunked or superseded theory packaged as if it something new and previously unknown which the mainstream won't accept because it is new, and they are stuck in their old ways.

Do ya see the contrary logic in that line of reasoning? Electric Universe is not an old failed or superseded theory,,,, it was never science in the first place. It started out as crank.

typicalguy
5 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2013
You know who would love this article? A certain "Neutron Repulsion" crazy man that claims there are neutron stars at the center of all stars. He hasn't posted in a while. What happened to him?
Q-Star
4 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2013
You know who would love this article? A certain "Neutron Repulsion" crazy man that claims there are neutron stars at the center of all stars. He hasn't posted in a while. What happened to him?


If I'm not mistaken, he also thought that the Sun was powered by nuclear FISSION rather than fusion, from the outside in, or some such foolishness? Is it the same guy?
typicalguy
5 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2013
You know who would love this article? A certain "Neutron Repulsion" crazy man that claims there are neutron stars at the center of all stars. He hasn't posted in a while. What happened to him?


If I'm not mistaken, he also thought that the Sun was powered by nuclear FISSION rather than fusion, from the outside in, or some such foolishness? Is it the same guy?


I don't recall that but it's probably him. He claimed the universe was steady state. My point is that in the old days he would have already been here spamming about this being a pulsar or some nonsense. To some extent the crazy people give this place a certain entertainment factor but they go overboard.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2013
Re: (stuff about conspiracy)

Are you aware that the way that websites convince you to click on the articles is by feeding your own opinion back to you?

Re: "Electric Universe is not an old failed or superseded theory,,,, it was never science in the first place. It started out as crank."

People choose to build cosmologies. Cosmologies are not "discovered". They are created.

Now, you can create an information bubble for yourself, and sit comfortably in it, imagining that other people cannot create a second cosmology. But, those of us who are paying attention can plainly see that the EU can indeed be made to work as a cosmology. It is simply the culture of the physics community which decides to not undertake the task.

The only people talking about conspiracies are the people who have buried their heads in the textbooks so deep that they have failed to take inventory of how naturally this new paradigm fits modern observations.
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
Are you aware that the way that websites convince you to click on the articles is by feeding your own opinion back to you?


If you're going to say such silly things, I can see why you would jump on the whole EU thing. It's so 'new agey" and 'smarty'

Hmmm, begs the question though: How did they know what my opinion was in the first place? I mean in order to feed it back to me prior to my clicking on the article they convinced to click on?

typicalguy
5 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2013
Here's a link to his stuff. There's even a comment by me there complaining about him. He was really getting unhinged about that time. Probably because people kept posting about his criminal background.

http://phys.org/n...sun.html
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
Re: "Hmmm, begs the question though: How did they know what my opinion was in the first place? I mean in order to feed it back to me prior to my clicking on the article they convinced to click on?"

The debunking worldview and faith in Science is what's trendy right now. All you're doing is subscribing to Carl Sagan's philosophy. The journalists know that you like this, and so they feed it back to you. It works like a charm for farming clicks, but it also drastically oversimplifies wicked problems like cosmology.

The far harder task which constructivists choose to take on is to meaningfully learn what the alternative idea is, and to then critically check to see which paradigm is more effective at fitting the observations. This requires a fairly thorough understanding of the claims being made on *both* sides, which is where the Sagan Standard causes problems. The Sagan Standard cultures ignorance of competing claims, which undermines this critical thinking process.
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
Here's a link to his stuff. There's even a comment by me there complaining about him. He was really getting unhinged about that time. Probably because people kept posting about his criminal background.

http://phys.org/n...sun.html


Yeah, that's guy I was thinking of. Where's he been? Prison maybe? I seem to recall he was a very old fellow, maybe he died or something.
Q-Star
3.3 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
All you're doing is subscribing to Carl Sagan's philosophy.


I don't subscribe to philosophers, they mostly waste my time with word games.

The journalists know that you like this, and so they feed it back to you. It works like a charm for farming clicks, but it also drastically oversimplifies wicked problems like cosmology.


Still begging the question, how do they know what I like so that they can "feed it to" me? "Farming clicks"???? Is that like raising chickens or what?
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
Part of the allure of Scientism -- this unquestioning faith in Big Science -- is that it comes packaged with an emotional feeling: The sense that humans have conquered Mother Nature, and that all that is left now is to simply tie up the loose ends. It's truly a feel good story.

And yet, 95% of the universe's matter has managed to somehow go missing -- which lends the story of established cosmology the feel of a Greek tragedy, really.

Had people known when Carl Sagan convinced the world to abandon catastrophism that, thirty years later, we'd fail to track down more than around 5% of the universe's matter, catastrophism would have remained on the table.

At what point do people look at the Sagan Standard, and think, "Hm, we've tried this. Maybe it's time to just create another cosmology, and see how it stacks up."?

Another 30 years?

How about 100? Then, neither of us will even be here to know how it pans out ...
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2013
You are halucinating, there is no mention of "filaments" in the article, nor could any be seen due to the obscuring dust.


You can indeed legitimately infer that you are seeing a rotating beam of light illuminating material surrounding the protostar,


Again you seem to be able to see things others cannot. If you actually read my other post, you will see that I argued that the observation did NOT support that interpretation.

but where you seem to derail is when you propose that other people CANNOT infer plasma switching from dark to glow mode, ... along what can very fairly be called filaments.


Again, there is no filamentary structure observed. Whether one exists or not is pure speculation on your part.

All you've accomplished here is to give preferential treatment to your preferred inference ..


That is exactly what you are doing.

that this supports the hypothesis of gravitational accretion.


I made no such claim, you are hallucinating again.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
How about 100? Then, neither of us will even be here to know how it pans out ...


"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Max Planck

Chances are, you're a bit younger than Q.

This one's for you Q;
"There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination." Daniel Dennett
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
At what point do people look at the Sagan Standard,,,,,,


Ya keep referring to that one,,,, but that is a model I'm unfamiliar with. Does that make me a poor acolyte?

Then, neither of us will even be here to know how it pans out ...


So why spend so much time chasing these unicorns and leprechauns? Let the philosophers deal with it, the MEANING of it all. I enjoy just observing it and being amazed, surprised and awed by it all.

If it were the metaphysical MEANING of it all that I was looking for, I sure wouldn't come here for help,,,, I come here for entertainment,,,,, simple entertainment provided by simple people who would like to think themselves profound, deep and complex.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2013
We can clearly see that protostars routinely form along filaments, btw. Whether or not you personally want to infer that in this particular case, that is not actually a controversy.


We also see galactic clusters forming in sheets and filaments, that is a natural prediction of gravitational collapse through Jeans Instability of dark matter.

are you not able to see that the dark matter is simply placed where it needs to be, in order to make the entire paradigm work?


Perhaps you should learn a little about standard cosmology before dismissing it, dark matter isn't just "placed", the structures that are expected to form are simulated numerically and then compared to large-scale surveys and match extremely well.

We can *pretend* that it is impossible to create a competing electrical cosmology here ..


That's not how it works, you are free to develop any model you like, but the onus is on you to produce the mathematical evidence to support it.
Q-Star
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Max Planck


Planck was a great physicist, but a poor philosopher.

This one's for you Q;
"There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination." Daniel Dennett


Dennett may or may not be a great philosopher, but I suspect, unlike Planck, no one will remember his name in a hundred years. Be that as it may, why would I go to a philosopher for advice on modern science? That would be like asking a Chevrolet mechanic for advice on the Ming Dynasty crockery.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2013
Re: ""A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Max Planck"

And yet, we are talking right now over the Internet, a global network which has the potential to spread new paradigms in microseconds. What remains to be seen is really how much effort we put into perfecting the act of argumentation, discussion and information visualization, in order to convey those new ideas. From what I can see, the most common disposition in science today does not actually accommodate new scientific paradigms. In fact, I've been seeing popular science articles recently pop up that suggest that we live in a post-Kuhn era. However, what's clear is that the announcement is being made without any attempt to validate the claim.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2013
Re: "Ya keep referring to that one,,,, but that is a model I'm unfamiliar with. Does that make me a poor acolyte?"

It used to be that when people didn't know about something, they wouldn't try to criticize it.
VendicarE
not rated yet Feb 09, 2013
Spectacular video.
Q-Star
1 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2013
What remains to be seen is really how much effort we put into perfecting the act of argumentation, discussion and information visualization, in order to convey those new ideas.


Your posts don't bode well for that.

From what I can see, the most common disposition in science today does not actually accommodate new scientific paradigms.


Your EU stuff is not new, not scientific, though it might considered a paradigm of some sort of thing.

In fact, I've been seeing popular science articles recently pop up that suggest that we live in a post-Kuhn era.


Prior to Kuhn, during Kuhn, or after Kuhn,,, Kuhn affected science not at all.

However, what's clear is that the announcement is being made without any attempt to validate the claim.


So validate a claim or two,,,, set an example for us dullards. Zephyr at least posits his ideas, attempt to describe his models. Your model seems to be how unfairly the world treats ya.
Q-Star
1 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2013
Re: "Ya keep referring to that one,,,, but that is a model I'm unfamiliar with. Does that make me a poor acolyte?"

It used to be that when people didn't know about something, they wouldn't try to criticize it.


Did I criticize your "Sagan Model"? No, I merely pointed out that ya keep mentioning it, and that I was unfamiliar with it,,, where is it to be found? On some EU site? I googled it and all I could find was some guy named Scott Sagan writing about why countries are building nuclear weapons. Nuclear arms is not a field that I have any experience with. I suppose ya might try to tell me that they actually work of beams of electromagnetic fields from the sun or something,,,,, but I'm pretty sure that I won't believe ya.
Caliban
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 09, 2013
We need a reality check here: A universe which is claimed to be 95% invisible to our instruments leaves an extraordinary amount of wiggle room for competing cosmological theories. We can *pretend* that it is impossible to create a competing electrical cosmology here, given such a situation, but are you not able to see that the dark matter is simply placed where it needs to be, in order to make the entire paradigm work?


95% of our universe is undetectable to our instruments because our instruments don't detect it.

This doesn't mean that 95% plus of the universe consists of electrical effects.

But that doesn't stop you, cd85, and now this 'yep' person from claiming that this is so.

There are definitely plasma effects, but they simply aren't operating on the scale at which you insist they are --if they were, then those very same instruments you ridicule would detect them.

Simple as that.



Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) Feb 09, 2013
.. we are talking right now over the Internet, a global network which has the potential to spread new paradigms in microseconds. What remains to be seen is really how much effort we put into perfecting the act of argumentation, discussion and information visualization, in order to convey those new ideas.


You only have to look at TeVeS to see that in action. Even laymen are aware of it and of course it is competing directly with GR, one of the most solid and thoroughly tested theories in science. TeVeS makes testable predictions which in some circumstances differ from GR and people are spending time and money to check those regimes, in galactic clusters for example. Whether it will survive those tests is yet to be seen but non-conventional theories can and do get publicity. Similarly the observation of type Ia SNe caused a major paradigm shift based on repeatable evidence.

However, the internet cuts both ways and it is just as effective in exposing crank theories like EU.

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