Make America Informed Again (Synopsis)

“Whenever I found out anything remarkable, I have thought it my duty to put down my discovery on paper, so that all ingenious people might be informed thereof.” -Antonie van Leeuwenhoek

We all have our biases, even if we ourselves are scientists. Yet if we want to make quality decisions about the world as we navigate through it, we need to be accurately informed. Without that as the foundation for our decision-making, we’re no better than an ideologue, going with our gut in spite of what the facts might actually indicate.

Many enthusiasts have proposed using an “impossible space engine” for interstellar travel, but there’s a long way from a mysterious thrust observed to a starship. Image credit: Mark Rademaker, privately (via Twitter), composed for NASA Eagleworks.

Many enthusiasts have proposed using an “impossible space engine” for interstellar travel, but there’s a long way from a mysterious thrust observed to a starship. Image credit: Mark Rademaker, privately (via Twitter), composed for NASA Eagleworks.

It’s a real problem that there’s so much misinformation out there, and it’s a problem that’s made worse by the fact that we’ve come to accept it. Most journalism and reporting today is of exceptionally low-quality, and somehow, the signal rarely manages to cut through the noise. We can make the world better – we can make it more informed – but it’s going to take work.

A fusion device based on magnetically confined plasma. “Hot” fusion is scientifically valid; “cold” fusion, not so much. Image credit: PPPL management, Princeton University, the Department of Energy, from the FIRE project at http://fire.pppl.gov/.

A fusion device based on magnetically confined plasma. “Hot” fusion is scientifically valid; “cold” fusion, not so much. Image credit: PPPL management, Princeton University, the Department of Energy, from the FIRE project at http://fire.pppl.gov/.

That work starts with each of us making a better decision of what to value. Can you choose truth over sensationalism in your news?

Comments

  1. #1 eric
    November 15, 2016

    RealClearScience just named their top 10 science websites for 2016, and I’m honored that Starts With A Bang is one of them.

    A big congratulations, Ethan!

    Coincidentally, it appears Google is changing its ad policies to ban fake news sides from its clickbait advertising. I only hope more prominent web sites and services will do the same (though my cynical side says ‘unlikely, given the money involved’). In any event, that won’t help the quality of science reporting in major news outlets (which was the focus of your post), but I do see it as a positive development within the theme of “make America informed again.”

  2. #2 Wow
    November 15, 2016

    It requires that people want to be informed,though.

    And about all they’ll be informed about is how Trump talked through his hat and wasn’t going to deliver anything he promised (not that he really had any chance, or desire, to do so to begin with), but that information will be jettisoned so as to blame everyone else for the continuing problems and lack of “progress”.

  3. #3 Omega Centauri
    November 15, 2016

    I don’t think we (as a society, not just the 1% that want to be scientifically informed) will have to hit bottom first. Its looking like we are gonna hit that bottom soon, and probably hard. Then maybe when the dazed people start to ask, how coulda it happened? we will have a chance to explain the value of
    clear thinking that is quided by solid epistemological proinciple, not gut feeling.

    I guess our job, is to prepare that blueprint, for the time when people are going to become receptive.

  4. #4 Omega Centauri
    November 15, 2016

    Oops, that was i don think (not don’t) Darned noneditable comments

  5. #5 axil
    November 15, 2016

    http://brilliantlightpower.com/plasma-video/

    A breakthrough in cold fusion is shown in the video above. A first of its kind self sustained unpowered plasma is produced for 100 seconds starting from 4:30 and ends at 6:20 of the video. The reaction produces a maximum power output in XUV light of 5 megawatts and an average output of 1 megawatts.

    The full presentation is here. Product release in 2017.

    Validation testing is presented in video #4

  6. #6 dean
    November 15, 2016

    Do we really need to have more of these scam “cold fusion” posts showing up here?

  7. #7 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    November 15, 2016

    At what cost to set up said reactor? What was left at the end of the 100 sec. demo? How do you channel off the extreme UV?And, if the demo was so good, why only 100 seconds worth? Summit’ smells like rotting mackerel …….

  8. #8 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    November 15, 2016

    It is more important to get a global ability going, not just one country over another. We are all a part of humanity.

  9. #9 eric
    November 15, 2016

    The reaction produces a maximum power output in XUV light of 5 megawatts…

    So, no gammas then I take it?

    And if this is the breakthrough, does this mean that you, Axil, are disavowing all the other previous tests you claimed were the big breakthrough?

  10. #10 axil
    November 15, 2016

    @PJ #7

    At 57:00 of video 3, reactor cost is $25,000.

  11. #11 axil
    November 15, 2016

    @Eric #9

    If you like soft X-rays (sorry no gamma’s), this plasma system produces them

    http://www.newinflow.ru/pdf/Klimov_Poster.pdf

    I disavow nothing.

  12. #12 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    November 15, 2016

    “That expertise is valuable,
    And non-expertise is a red flag’
    The big problem is, in a lot of cases even quite educated people can’t tell expertise from non-expertise. I have a BSc in Computer Science and yet I have to rely on you, Ethan, to inform me about astronomy. Your qualifications let me know you’re an expert, but it can be hard. Another problem is qualified people speaking outside their field of expertise. Case in point, climate change “scepticism”. A lot of “sceptics” have qualifications not related to meteorology etc.

  13. #13 eric
    November 16, 2016

    I disavow nothing.

    Then how can this be THE breakthrough, since you’ve claimed breakthroughs before? Doesn’t it also seem wierd and worrisome that when your community has a “breakthrough,” they don’t actually work on that particular breakthough any harder, they just move on to different ideas as if nothing happened?
    If a tokamak suddenly started being successful, then the majority of (normal) fusion research funds would shift to tokamak research. People would start focusing on it. But that’s not what we see in the cold fusion field. There, Team A makes a breakthrough…and there’s no shift in resources to explore it. Then Team B claims an entirely different breakthrough…and there’s no shift in resources to explore it. And so on. Its almost as if your various cold fusion researchers don’t believe each other’s claims of success. They certainly aren’t acting like they believe the others have made successful breakthroughs.

  14. #14 axil
    November 16, 2016

    @Eric #13

    In LENR, the “self-sustain” mode (SSM) is the Coefficient of performance (COP) multiplier that makes LENR produce more energy than is required to keep the reaction going. Up until now, SSM has only occurred in a lattice of condensed matter. It is very hard to maintain SSM in a metal lattice without melting the lattice, thus producing a reactor meltdown. Reactor meltdowns are the major design problems in LENR reactor design.

    With the advent of the SunCell design that operates at 7000K, now that SSM is made to occur in a liquid silver electrode set, reactor meltdown is no longer a problem since the reactor core is always in a liquid and a plasma state. The conquest of the reactor meltdown issue is the breakthrough of which I speak.

    In SSM, all reactor input power is shut down save the power to the EMF pumps that form the liquid silver electrodes. The COP in this reactor has been measured in performance testing to be in the 600s. (at 14:49 of video 4 – 5020 watts input, 3,200,000 watts output). In testing, SSM was found to last up to 30 minutes without input power applied.

  15. #15 CFT
    November 16, 2016

    Ethan,
    An interesting sentiment that doesn’t seem to go anywhere near a solution. Who is immune from being just as ‘inaccurately’ informed on a given topic as anyone else? Is the most highly educated neurosurgeon more informed about economics and basic accounting than a store owner? As for all that ‘low quality’ information you don’t like, what do you propose? Destroying it? Hiding it away as proscribed as the medieval church once did? Government censorship of some kind? A ministry of truth perhaps? Or do you think someone such as an ‘expert’ like yourself should be able to tell someone else what is and isn’t so?

    As an American who has studied this great country’s formation, history, wars, and guiding philosophies, I think this decision is best left to the individual to determine for themselves over the course of their own life. Listen to the experts if you wish, but always draw your own conclusions.

  16. #16 eric
    November 17, 2016

    @14: that’s a complete non-response. Your community doesn’t shift resources into following up each others’ “breakthroughs,” even as they tout each one as being so great that it will remake society in a mere few years. This is a pretty reasonable sign that even cold fusion *supporters* don’t believe what other cold fusion supporters are shoveling. Its more like the homeopathic industry; multiple efforts to run the same shill in parallel, rather than a scientific community slowly converging on new knowledge.

  17. #17 SteveP
    November 17, 2016

    Television has become saturated with lies and stupidity. Anything that tickles the baser instincts sells. Television, which could been an amazing vehicle for broadcasting university lectures, nature documentaries, history, reasoned discussion, fine arts, folk arts, lessons on using your mind, lessons on understanding your emotions, intellectual contests, etc., is instead predominantly a vehicle filled with commercials, violence,sports, food programs, pornography, religious pleaders for your money, political insanity, and phony documentaries on the supernatural. And now, someone who catered to all the baser instincts, in the form of casinos, bigotry and reality TV, is the leader of our nation. We had a real opportunity to be great. Instead, were are about to be taken over by a Russian aided tyrant. The hatred on the blogosphere is quite revealing, and knowing that the Russians have sock puppets all over the place should tell you something. We are in the most dangerous period of our entire lives, if not in the history of the nation. Donald the Red is our new leader. Face your fears. We have a real problem on our hands. It is not going to go away.

  18. #18 Axil
    November 17, 2016

    http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/10.2514/1.B36120

    Publication Date (online): November 17, 2016

    A vacuum test campaign evaluating the impulsive thrust performance of a tapered radio-frequency test article excited in the transverse magnitude 212 mode at 1937 MHz has been completed. The test campaign consisted of a forward thrust phase and reverse thrust phase at less than 8×10−6 torr8×10−6 torr vacuum with power scans at 40, 60, and 80 W. The test campaign included a null thrust test effort to identify any mundane sources of impulsive thrust; however, none were identified. Thrust data from forward, reverse, and null suggested that the system was consistently performing with a thrust-to-power ratio of 1.2±0.1 mN/kW1.2±0.1 mN/kW.

  19. #19 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    November 17, 2016

    Quick ! Put it on wheels & let’s see how far/fast we can go; NOT.

  20. #20 Denier
    United States
    November 17, 2016

    @SteveP #17

    Television, which could been an amazing vehicle for broadcasting university lectures, nature documentaries, history, reasoned discussion, fine arts, folk arts, lessons on using your mind, lessons on understanding your emotions, intellectual contests, etc.

    It does. Television give you all of that. Every bit. Television is no longer limited to what 3 major networks can send over the air. Now anyone can be a content creator. YouTube is full of university lectures, documentaries, and all the rest. It is all there. You can’t blame the mysterious content gatekeepers, entertainment executives, or the technology for society choosing to watch ‘Ow! My balls!’. At this point society needs to take some responsibility.

  21. #21 Wow
    November 18, 2016

    “Do we really need to have more of these scam “cold fusion” posts showing up here?”

    axil and the rest of the scammers do. It’s called “pump and dump” and the posts are part of the “pump” part.

  22. #22 Chris Mannering
    November 19, 2016

    mazel tov old fruit for making the top 10. I think that’s probably well deserved. I think your over-simplifying the situation in putting the responsibility at the door of journalists. As a matter of fact those 234 alien civilizations astronomer guys, have now come out and said it again. Hawking has got involved, sending in a crack team from his S.E.T.I – like project.
    So the scientists are full partners or worse in the decision to try hyping, with vitamin blustering and Cadbury’s ghostbustering.
    One other query relating to this. Wasn’t there a situation on this blog a year or two back, involving you yourself using google words and misleading headlines in order to maximize traffic? I’m pretty sure your alter-ego Wow left in protest. I could be wrong I suppose….have a chat with him in the bathroom mirror tonight, see what he remembers :o)

  23. #23 Chris Mannering
    November 20, 2016

    ack…I just re-remembered that ‘fruit’ is on the list of terms inadvisable for transatlantic discourse. It’s not a pejorative over here Ethan just throwaway divertissement.
    Right, with that now cleared up, I’m off for a fag

  24. #24 Wow
    November 21, 2016

    OK, chris, care to translate that from fruitloop into English?

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