A QUESTION OF CIVILIZATION: What’s in the shed?!

In 1964 one of mankind’s greatest scientific feats occurred: the discovery of the predicted Big Bang Black Body relic radiation on the sky by two guys named Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. This feat would be recognized in 1978 by the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics. And just recently, the Planck Scientific Collaboration has issued a resounding reaffirmation of this discovery. Next summer Robert Wilson will be celebrated at the Starmus V Festival in Switzerland.

Fascinatingly, the discovery paper was very brief, like the Watson-Crick discovery paper.

However, if in the latter case brevity was the soul of wit, in the former case it was the heart of the scam.

When I read the PW paper for the first time with an investigator’s mind-set, I was struck by the fact that there is absolutely no description of the instrument they used. I looked in the scientific literature, and I could not find anything there either.

Here was my problem. This was a satellite communication equipment and as such was most likely set up to receive two orthogonal linear polarizations. But the cosmic black body radiation is unpolarized. How can you receive the total power from this black body with this antenna? You have either to add the power in the two linear polarizations to get the full power on the sky, or use one polarization and account for a factor of 2. What did they do? This is the information I was looking for. In other words, I wanted to know what comes behind the Holmdel Antenna that has become a visual icon. What’s in that shed? Not being able to find the answer, here’s what I wrote in my 2015 book The Falsifiers of the Universe: .. the powers in the two polarizations would then have to be added before determining the Antenna Temperature. At 4 GHz, this feed would probably be a substantial waveguide contraption, certainly not something one would forget to mention in a paper where this fact was of paramount importance.

Sometime later I learned that there was an exhibit of the PW equipment in Deutsches Museum, and photos of this were available at this web site. So now we know what’s in the shed. We can go back to my problem and resolve it.

Refer to the figure. Radiation travels from left to right. The silver horn is a replica to represent the Holmdel antenna outside the shed. Everything else is inside the shed. This is the original equipment. The horn has a square cross-section. As unpolarized radiation from sky travels through this square pipe as two orthogonal linear polarizations, it is gradually transformed to a circular pipe so as to be able to accommodate a device called an Orthomode Transducer (OMT). This is the device marked A by me. At A, the OMT separates out the two orthogonal polarizations. Half the power travels downward at A through a standard rectangular waveguide that carries the polarization with the electric field vector perpendicular to the plane of the paper. This portion of the radiation is used for calibration purposes. Thus, half the unknown signal power to be measured is prevented from going into the receiver. The other half – where the field is vertical and in the plane of the paper – travels to the right and enters the receiver at the point marked B by me via a standard rectangular waveguide, seen coming out of the plane of the paper. This is the entire power Penzias and Wilson analyzed, and deduced from this a 3.5 K black body in the sky.

Michael Fletcher has also provided a block diagram of the instrument, endorsed by Arno Penzias.

So, half the power that was incident on the Holmdel antenna accounted for the entire discovery of a black body of 3.5 K – a temperature that happened to be just right to clinch Big Bang. Morale of the story: Lose a factor of 2, get a Nobel.

This is only one of the many fatal faults of this experiment. In no way, shape or form did Penzias and Wilson find any black body of any temperature on the sky. Nor did John Mather. Nor did Herbert Gush, nor anyone else for that matter

In this context I remind you also of these old graphics:


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