by Malcolm Bowden
There have been many articles on the work of Barry Setterfield of Australia
who has contended that the speed of light was faster in the past. This article
is to try and put the record straight for there are many unaware of the
confirmations that have arisen but which have had little publicity. It is
to try and correct this situation that the following facts are presented.
1. The first point is that there is criticism of Setterfield's early
work in which he -
a) shows that the speed of light has decreased by listing numerous measurements
of "c" made over many years, and
b) attempts to determine the mathematical shape of the curve by which the
decrease has fallen. Critics have sometimes slammed his attempts to find
the right curve (b) and thereby tried to ignore the clear evidence of a
definite fall (a).
Since those early days Setterfield and Trevor Norman have produced an
invited report for the prestigious Stanford Research Institute International
in 1987 .
This gives much of the background material upon which Setterfield bases
his claim of "c" decay (= CDK). This is 90 pages long and contains
The invitation to give this report came from Lambert T. Dolphin, (who was
sceptical at first), a member of SRI, where it was given peer revue and
also vetted by outside laboratories - all of them approving its publication.
Dolphin also gave a lecture on the subject in 1988 to the Batelle Institute
where it was well received. The SRI hierarchy tried to rescind the report
on an administrative technicality when they realised its implications. Dolphin
and his manager were made redundant.
Setterfield is still being criticised for "not publishing his results
in a reputable journal". What critics do not realise is that no journal
is prepared to publish such a revolutionary concept, no matter how well
researched it is. We then have the "catch 22" situation:- i) No
'scientist' will examine the paper unless it has been published. ii) Publishers
reject it because their referees do not like the implications and fail it
for trivial reasons such as no other journal has published it; iii) Therefore
no scientist reads of it in a 'reputable journal', etc. etc. The acceptance
by SRI was a major breakthrough that the hierarchy tried to rescind. See
also 6. below.
2. There has been much discussion of the paper by Goldstein et al. in
which they claim that after analysing Roemer's 1675 records of "c",
it has not changed by any significant amount. What these critics seem to
be unaware of is that these papers contains two huge errors that, when
corrected, result in SUPPORT for Setterfield's claim. I give the following
In 1973  Goldstein published in the results of his calculations on the
possible variation of the speed of light based upon the measurements of
Roemer. His conclusion was that the speed of light had not varied by more
than 0.5% from the present value. This paper has often been quoted as contradicting
the decrease in the speed of light by a number of both evolutionists and
creationists in various articles.
The errors the paper contained were pointed out my Lew Mammel in 1983 ,
. He circulated his criticisms by means of the computer network linking
the major astronomical centres of the world. What Mammel found first was
that in making their calculations for the phases of Io (the moon of Jupiter
used by Roemer), Goldstein and his co-workers incorrectly adjusted the average
TIME of the observations, when they should have corrected the PHASES of
Io. The result was that they obtained a value for "c" that was
falsely close to the present day value, i.e. their value of not more than
+/- 0.5%. After the figures had been corrected by Mammel, the result was
that "c" was 8% SLOWER with an error of +/- 9%.
His second discovery a few days later was that there was a major blunder
in a simple series of subtractions. Instead of subtracting the calculated
from the observed time, Goldstein had subtracted the observed from the calculated.
When Mammel amended this error, he obtained a value of 6% HIGHER than today
with an error of +/-8.6%. There is yet another error Goldstein seems to
have made in dealing with his results. He wrote a letter in February 1986
to Vivian Bounds and Setterfield quoted from this in his S.R.I. report.
The original letter said "..a light travel time 2.6% lower than the
presently accepted value. The formal uncertainty is +/-1.8%". Now,
with a travel time LOWER, i.e. shorter, the speed of light would be HIGHER
Humphreys contacted Goldstein, who admitted that he had (and I quote Humphreys)
"...stated his results ambiguously, apparently misleading both Bounds
and Setterfield. What Goldstein had meant to say was the speed of light
according to Roemer's data was 2.6% SLOWER in 1668 to 1678 by 2.6% than
it is now. Professor Goldstein has given me permission to quote the following
from his 2 November 1987 letter to me: 'The new result is that the velocity
of light was SLOWER in 1668 to 1678 by 2.6% than it is today. I do not think
the difference is significant however.'"
I would suggest that his first statement is not simply "ambiguous"
but is in fact very clear in its meaning - the transit time was less than
today and therefore "c" was HIGHER. The wording cannot be interpreted
in more than one way, and is simply a muddled expression on Goldstein's
part. In addition, to dismiss a variation of 2.6% as "..not significant"
when the whole subject hinges on a matter of a fraction of 1% is to try
to gloss over the fact that his calculations DID show a variation from the
present value, albeit lower (at that time at least). He still seems to be
unaware that the second error discovered by Mammel makes the final result
HIGHER than today.
This does call into question Goldstein's assessment of the whole subject,
and whether his scientific objectivity is as impartial as it should be.
The two major errors set out above require no further comment, except to
wonder, as Mammel does, how his papers passed the scrutiny of the peer reviewers
of the prestigious periodical in which they appeared. Questions remain,
however, such as - why did Goldstein made so many errors in his calculations
and then make misleading statements - all of them in a direction that opposed
CDK. Did he know that, correctly calculated, the results actually supported
a decrease in the speed of light? Was the article accepted in order to cast
doubt on a decrease in "c"?
4. Critics also refer to Aardsma's article  criticising CDK as though
it was a full refutation of Setterfield's poor maths. Here again, they
are unaware that there is a major error in Aardsma's method of analysing
the results. I have pointed this out in a very simple way  as it was
obvious even to me (and I am no mathematician) that Aardsma's method was
unsuitable for a curve.
Trevor Norman, Setterfield's mathematical expert, also slammed his badly
flawed analysis . Briefly, Aardsma used one half of a statistical method
which if used properly would have crashed the programme. He therefore used
the second half of another method to get the answers he desired. Norman
wrote to him pointing out this gross mistake but Aardsma claimed thathe
never received it. The erroneous method was duly published by Aardsma as
proving Setterfield's maths were wrong! Norman crticised Aardsma in very
strong terms in his article.
5. One of the most impressive confirmations of CDK is Setterfield's
list of 17 physical 'constants' . He obtained a number of past measurements
of such values as the Gyromagnetic Ratio, Ryderberg Constant etc. and found
that 11 remained constant, 4 increased slightly and 2 decreased. He then
showed that every single one had varied exactly as could be predicted from
an examination of their basic formulae with a decrease in the speed of
6. Quite independently of Setterfield, a Russian scientist, Troitskii,
has proposed  that "c" was very much higher than it is today
by an amount of 10^10 faster. This is within the order of the original
change of speed that Setterfield had proposed which was between 10^7 to
10^11. Troitskii had based this entirely upon his examination of astronomical
data, red shifts, superluminal jets etc., and not upon any direct measurements
of "c" with laboratory instruments. The publication of this result
in a professional journal is excellent confirmation of Setterfield's thesis.
The measurements of "c" have been made with very great accuracy;
more than enough to determine whether it has decreased or not. The fact
that virtually all the past measurements were above the present value should
surely indicate that it could not have been due to "errors of measurement
with inaccurate instruments" - which is the usual ploy used to dismiss
them. Michelson was a Nobel prizewinner in the subject and surely the fact
that he believed that "c" had decreased is worthy of some recognition.
There has been much ridicule and false mathemetics directed at Setterfield's
work, but those with qualifications in statistics agree that the evidence
is FOR a decrease in the speed of light. Many readers of such diatribes
will consider the case closed. Those that do are committing the crime of
failing to listen to the case for the other side DIRECT; i.e. not a critics
version of it which is then demolished as a 'straw man'. The information
set out above is only part of the massive evidence that exists on the subject
and I leave the reader to draw his own conclusions.
NOTE: In the UK only I circulate the SRI report, a supplement and
other correspondence for those interested to copy and return to me within
14 days. A4 SAE envelope (clearly written!) and a loose $1 stamp please.
M. Bowden, 92 Bromley Common, Bromley, Kent BR2 9PF.
 Norman, T. and Setterfield, B. "The Atomic Constants, Light
and Time" Stanford Research Institute International Invited Report.
 Goldstein S. et al. "On the velocity of light three centuries
ago" Astronomical Journal v78 n1 Feb. 1973 p122-125.
 Group - net.astro: From - lew@ihuxr.UUCP (Lew Mammel. Jr.): Message-ID:
795@ihuxr.UUCP: Date Rcd - Fri. 2-Dec-83 23:40:50
 Group - net.astro: From - lew@ihuxr.UUCP (Lew Mammel. Jr.): Message-ID:
800@ihuxr.UUCP: Date Rcd - Wed. 7-Dec-83 23:33:37
 Aardsma, G. Creation Research Society Quarterly 1988 v25 p36-40
 Bowden, M. "The Speed of Light - a Critique of Aardsma's Statistical
Method" (Letter) Creation Research Insitute Quarterly v25 March
 Norman, T. "Velocity of Light: Mathematician's Response" Ex Nihil Technical Journal v5 part 2 1991 p108-112.
 Setterfield, B. "The Velocity of Light and the Age of the Universe" Creation Science Association (Australia) Monograph 1983 (Now out of
 Troitskii, V.S. "Physical Constants and the evolution of the
Universe" Astrophysics and Space Science v139 p389-411 1987.
1.9.94 . Posted. June 2, 1996.