“There is a fine line between censorship and good taste and moral responsibility.” -Stephen Spielberg

Another week full of amazing science stories has gone by here at Starts With A Bang, and there are some fun and fantastic announcements! We welcomed a new contributor, Jess Shanahan, to our ranks; I found out that Forbes has made me their official Star Trek: Discovery reviewer when that new series premieres; I’m in the process of selecting the final, officially licensed images for my new book, Treknology (and pre-order today!); and from this coming Thursday through Sunday, I’ll be the Science Guest of Honor at NorWesCon in Seattle! Come if you can! Now, let’s take a look back at the past week of articles:

Thanks to our generous Patreon supporters, these articles appear ad-free on Medium one week from their original publication date. And now that it’s time to jump into this edition of our comments of the week, it’s also time to announce that any one-week bans we doled out have now expired. Welcome back to the fold, everyone, and remember to treat each other well!

Perceived knowledge vs. actual knowledge. Image credit: Justin Kruger and David Dunning, 1999.

Perceived knowledge vs. actual knowledge. Image credit: Justin Kruger and David Dunning, 1999.

From Denier on myside bias: “I’m not saying Scientists are bad for being wishy-washy intellectually as new information comes in. I myself am that way. I’m also not saying society is bad for being so tribal as it evolved for a reason. I just find it amusing when academics don’t realize they’ve incorrectly projected a trait where it doesn’t belong.”

I didn’t realize this was what your statement was attempting to convey. Yes, scientists are particularly good — they need to be or they won’t make it — at changing their mind in the face of compelling, overwhelming evidence. The general public is particularly bad at that, and particularly good at choosing sides and defending their side while attacking the opposite side regardless of the quality of the evidence. The further polarization of our society over the past 30 years thanks to the culture wars has arguably made this worse.

I like to think the way out will be evidence-based reasoning. That has proven to be naive so far.

Image credit: Universe Review.

Image credit: Universe Review.

From Michael Mooney on relativity and apparent versus real shapes: “You forget again that a contracted Earth is only “apparent,” i,e., that fast moving frames of reference do not change the physical shape of planets and stars. There is no physics to support shrinking planets and stars.”

On the contrary, Michael, it is only physics that supports a real length contraction. You see, the principle of relativity (and I’m oversimplifying by leaving out caveats here) is that the laws of physics are the same for all observers. If you move fast relative to anything else in the Universe, the laws of physics are the same for you as they are for anyone else. If you see an electron, it has an electric field with a total amount of field energy that’s identical to any other observer.

What happens if you’re at rest vs. in motion with respect to that electron? In order to keep the laws of physics the same, everything about that electron must change in a very particular fashion: its field lines must change, its spatial field density must change, the way a clock runs or distances behave must change, etc. Your measurements, from your perspective, show a real, physical departure from the measurements made aboard the electron, or in the electron’s frame, if you prefer.

The strength of the electric field lines will change in the direction of motion, if the charge is moving relative to you. Image credit: Carel Vandertogt.

The strength of the electric field lines will change in the direction of motion, if the charge is moving relative to you. Image credit: Carel Vandertogt.

That is physics. That is real. That you don’t like it (and/or don’t get it) doesn’t make it untrue.

When you say this: “I have never challenged the “big difference between what people see” in SR. I (and many other SR critics) only challenge the claim that those differences reflect actual physical variations in objects and distances. Yet no SR theorist will admit, “Yes, the differences are only apparent.””

I am puzzled as to what you’re contending. Are you saying that if you switch reference frames, or if you go to the rest frame of the object, then that’s the “true” physical size? That’s nonsense; all reference frames are equally valid. Are you claiming that physical objects aren’t really contracted in their direction of motion? They absolutely are, just like you and I are with respect to an incoming comet. It doesn’t change how we perceive ourselves or the measurements we make, but it’s a real, physical effect that occurs uniquely for every unique observer in the Universe.

Greenland from the ISS

Image credit: Fyodor Yurchikhin, of Greenland from the ISS.

From Lee Witt on contesting Denier’s claim that he reasons like a scientist: “Thank you for explaining your repeated refusal to understand the science of climate change – you prefer to believe the fake stories about the gloom and doom that you believe would result from addressing it rather than the mountains of evidence that support the scientists.”

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is presently at a little over 400 parts per million. If fossil fuel emission rates continue at their current values, we will hit 900 parts per million around the year 2300, give or take about 50 years. The increasing CO2 is the primary driver behind the temperature increases on Earth, although the feedback effects are what make it so dire, devastating and inevitable. Cities on Earth are predominantly located in coastal regions or otherwise on the water. A 3 meter sea level rise will submerge about 1.5% of Earth’s current land mass. Melting the Greenland ice sheet will raise sea levels by 8 meters. Melting all the permanent ice on Earth will raise sea levels by more than 30 meters.

You can view this map for yourself and see what sea level rise does to the parts of the Earth you care about. If you truly contend to care about your kids and grandkids, and I believe you, why should I not hold you responsible for your actions and advocacies that damage the lives and livelihoods and destroy the homes and cities of the adults, children and grandchildren of others?

Heat-trapping emissions (greenhouse gases) far outweigh the effects of other drivers acting on Earth’s climate. Source: Hansen et al. 2005, Figure adapted by Union of Concerned Scientists.

Heat-trapping emissions (greenhouse gases) far outweigh the effects of other drivers acting on Earth’s climate. Source: Hansen et al. 2005, Figure adapted by Union of Concerned Scientists.

From CFT on inexcusable reasoning: “…WHY many scientists don’t agree with the idea of carbon dioxide as being the climatic bogey man…”

Because they selectively ignore evidence. That’s it. There is no good reason for disagreeing with the idea. They ignore large portions of the full suite of evidence. That’s the reason. That might not be your reason or what you hear, but that’s the reason. It is motivated reasoning, plain and simple.

And when someone like Denier says: “No one has a model that perfectly predicts Earth’s atmosphere.”

That is true, but it’s also irrelevant. Yes, climate scientists are wrong in the sense that any science is wrong: there are some predictions that the theory cannot get right, and there are limits to the range of validity of what can be accurately predicted. But if you think that means that all climate science is garbage — or that a denialist model like Curry’s, Lindzen’s, or Easterbrook’s is just as good as the consensus model — then you have failed to understand some very basic principles of science. And remember, the quantitative estimates aren’t estimates that I made up; they are the best estimates I can find by the best scientists working on the problem. If you don’t like them, you are free to “believe” other estimates or come up with your own, but don’t expect anyone else to join you in your belief unless you expect them to abandon expertise (in this case) as you so willingly do.

But if you’re so convinced you’re right, why not go argue with the primary source? Why not become a climate scientist yourself and make sure the field gets it right? Why sit here and argue with an astrophysicist who sees extraordinary competence, scientific integrity and all the hallmarks of it being done right, about the finer points of something when you don’t even accept the coarsest points and the most robust conclusions of all?

The way that atoms link up to form molecules, including organic molecules and biological processes, is only possible because of the Pauli exclusion rule that governs electrons. Image credit: Jenny Mottar.

The way that atoms link up to form molecules, including organic molecules and biological processes, is only possible because of the Pauli exclusion rule that governs electrons. Image credit: Jenny Mottar.

From John on the difference between fermions and bosons: “What a huge difference a half-integer spin makes!”

Yes! And in particular, what a huge difference obeying or not obeying the Pauli exclusion principle makes. It’s easy to sort of say, “big deal, so I need to put my second fermion somewhere else,” but when you have large numbers of fermions, this gets very impressive (and very important) very quickly.

Pair production and matter-antimatter annihilation. Image credit: Addison-Wesley, retrieved from J. Imamura / U. of Oregon.

Pair production and matter-antimatter annihilation. Image credit: Addison-Wesley, retrieved from J. Imamura / U. of Oregon.

From Anonymous Coward on particle/antiparticle collisions: “Colliding a photon with another photon though, under the right conditions, will cause a form of pair production, and it will become an electron-positron pair. What happens when two Z bosons of the weak interaction come together like that?”

Forwards/backwards reactions — or time-symmetric reactions — are the norm in physics. When it comes to the particles in the Universe, if you collide (in general) a particle with its antiparticle counterpart, you can pair-produce any particle/antiparticle pairs for which you have enough energy available, so long as you conserve energy and momentum. There are not major differences in that regard from colliding an electron/positron, quark/antiquark, neutrino/antineutrino, photon/photon, Z-boson/Z-boson, W+ with W-, gluon with its proper gluon counterpart, etc. Cross-sectional differences and the subtle CP-violation of the weak interactions aside, it’s all practically the same.

Michael Kelsey gave even more detail: “Z0 annihilation has not been directly observed (because we can’t make Z0 beams, of course), but the production of Z0 pairs in high energy collisions (at LEP2 and the Tevatron) has been observed. The principle of “detailed balance” means that you can invert that interaction to recognize that a Z-Z collision can produce the accelerator original state. The result should be equivalent to gamma-gamma (or more precisely gamma*-gamma*) interactions, with some pair of particles produced.”

Simulations of how the black hole at the center of the Milky Way may appear to the Event Horizon Telescope, depending on its orientation relative to us. These simulations assume the event horizon exists. Image credit: Imaging an Event Horizon: submm-VLBI of a Super Massive Black Hole, S. Doeleman et al.

Simulations of how the black hole at the center of the Milky Way may appear to the Event Horizon Telescope, depending on its orientation relative to us. These simulations assume the event horizon exists. Image credit: Imaging an Event Horizon: submm-VLBI of a Super Massive Black Hole, S. Doeleman et al.

From John on testing Einstein’s general relativity: “Directly imaging the event horizon of Sagittarius A* ! How cool is that?!?!?
Even better is the potential to use the Event Horizon Telescope to test EGR”

If General Relativity breaks down anywhere, the physics of black holes is likely the “where” of that. While the physical size of the event horizon (keep reading, Michael Mooney) has some very explicit predictions for it, what we expect to see as the size of the event horizon is quite a bit larger, thanks to the deformation of space in Einstein’s General Relativity. (Which I know is what you meant by EGR, even though everyone else calls it GR.) That 37 microarcseconds is a precise prediction, and if it doesn’t match up by any amount larger than our uncertainty in the black hole’s mass, that could be a very interesting measurement indeed!

Saturn's E-Ring, as imaged here by Cassini, is created by it's frozen Moon, Enceladus, ejecting icy material over time. Enceladus is the bright spot at the image's center. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

Saturn’s E-Ring, as imaged here by Cassini, is created by it’s frozen Moon, Enceladus, ejecting icy material over time. Enceladus is the bright spot at the image’s center. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute.

From Jonathan on Saturn’s E-ring and Enceladus: “so on astronomical time scales, does the loss of matter to Saturn’s E-ring have a noticeable effect on the moon?”

One of the truly fantastic things about Cassini that most people don’t realize is how quantitative it is. Here’s a fun and relevant paper you may enjoy. During an eruption of Enceladus, particles leave the surface vents at a mean rate of about 51 kilograms/second, where 91% eventually fall back to Enceladus and the other 9% go into the ring. The total mass of the E-ring is approximately 1.2 billion kilograms, meaning that the particles live, on average, in the E-ring for only about 8 years. Do they get transferred to other moons or rings? Do they fall back to Enceladus? That Cassini hasn’t measured, but given that Enceladus has a mass of just over 10^20 kg, and that the Solar System is only ~10^17 seconds old, Enceladus still has most of its mass for certain as it did when the Solar System first formed.

Ice fishing here on Earth. Something tells me it would be slightly different on Enceladus. Image credit: Brücke-Osteuropa.

Ice fishing here on Earth. Something tells me it would be slightly different on Enceladus. Image credit: Brücke-Osteuropa.

From Sinisa Lazarek on the future news headlines of Enceladus: “Daily News for October 19th 2098
*Breaking News*
– Japenese Orbital Fishing Fleet (JOFF), which recently arrived at Enceladus to begin harvesting native prawns (Penaeus Enceladus) discovers two structures beneath moons thick icy crust. JOFF’s prawn-sonars specially designed to cope with enceladus ice detected what seems to be a US secret military base, some 2 kilometers under the ice. The base seems to be located just below the north polar belt of enceladus. To further their amazement, they also discovered an old USSR submarine under the south polar cap of enceladus. Both locations seem to be long abandoned….”

This is some pretty good science fiction writing here.

A false-color image highlighting Saturn’s hurricane over its north pole, inside the much larger hexagon-shaped feature. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI.

A false-color image highlighting Saturn’s hurricane over its north pole, inside the much larger hexagon-shaped feature. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI.

From Anonymous Coward on the physics of color: “We tend to think of certain wavelengths of light producing certain colours, but if you mix green (495-570 nm) and red (620-740 nm) light we see yellow. Did the mixing of colours cause the light we see to change wavelengths? No. The mixed light excites the M and L cones in our retinas equally, which the brain then interprets as yellow, the same as light in the 570-585 nm wavelength range would. There are even “imaginary colours” that cannot possibly be produced by any physical source of light. The eye has three different types of cones, the S, M, and L cones, and their sensitivities to the various wavelengths of light overlap.”

That’s the whole thing… when we talk about false color vs. true color, we talk about what your eyes can see. And while there’s a lot of physics behind color, there’s also a lot of biology behind color, too! The physics of color is about the wavelength of monochromatic light, or light of a particular wavelength, and that’s it. How our brains interpret it is far more interesting from a “what we see” point of view.

I did write a piece, years ago, answering the question of What Is Color?, if you’re interested, but I caution you that it goes right for the biology in short order, because “color” is inherently a human concept, too.

The 18 segments of James Webb in the laboratory, after completed assembly and all coatings have been applied. The gold is visually striking, but there's very little of it. Image credit: NASA / Chris Gunn.

The 18 segments of James Webb in the laboratory, after completed assembly and all coatings have been applied. The gold is visually striking, but there’s very little of it. Image credit: NASA / Chris Gunn.

From Tomas Ahl on mirrors versus other electronics for James Webb: “To really answer the title question I assume there is more gold than that to make the whole thing? In electronic components, cable connectors etc. Would that accumulate to an equal amount to what is on the mirrors?”

I would also assume that there is lots of gold plating on the various electronic components, to eliminate oxidation yet maintain excellent conductivity while the telescope and instruments are still here on Earth. I sent this question off to a project scientist I know who works for Northrup Grumman, and they didn’t know they answer either. So my guess would be no, because I can’t imagine that the surface area of all the exposed internal wiring is anywhere near what the surface area is for the mirrors themselves, but that’s a guess, not a calculation.

A simulation of what the next Pale Blue Dot would look like through this newly proposed telescope around Alpha Centauri A or B. Image credit: Project Blue Mission Team.

A simulation of what the next Pale Blue Dot would look like through this newly proposed telescope around Alpha Centauri A or B. Image credit: Project Blue Mission Team.

From MobiusKlein on Project Blue for more stars: “For the notion of ‘one shot’, as in there is only one reasonable target to observe given the size of the scope, how much bigger and expensive would it have to be to get useful results from 100 stars?”

This is a good question! If you want to make the measurements Project Blue does for even a third Sun-like star, you need to go up by a factor of 2.5 in diameter: from 45 cm to about 1.3 meters. If you want to get 100 Sun-like stars, you’re talking about going out to about 10 parsecs, which is about 8 times as far as Alpha Centauri A and B. So 8 times a 0.45 meter mirror is about a 4-meter mirror. At present, that would be the largest space telescope ever launched. I would imagine we would be talking in the multi-billion dollar range for a mission like that. Sadly, to get 50 times as many stars would, indeed, be about 50 times as expensive.

Image credit: ESO / L.Calçada.

Gravitational radiation, illustrated here, clearly occurs along more than one axis. Image credit: ESO / L.Calçada.

From Denier on the number of axes in forces: “We have a 1 axis force that is super long range but wimpy in gravity. Then we have a more powerful but shorter range 2 axis force in electromagnetism. Lastly we have a 3 axis color force that is so powerful it can literally pull matter into existence from nothing but is super short range. There is a weak force but it is really just an offshoot of the 3 axis color force. There is no 4 axis force.”

I’m sorry, but this is not how the fundamental forces work. Gravity is not a one-axis force at all, since it exerts tidal forces, shear forces, and gravitational radiation is a quadrupolar effect. If you want to learn about how the weak, electromagnetic and strong forces work as far as degrees of freedom go, the route you need to go down is group theory. The strong force obeys the rules of the SU(3) group; the electromagnetic obeys the rules of the U(1) group and the weak force obeys the rules of a chiral SU(2) group. Gravitation? Good luck there… whatever group you’re interested in is going to get way bigger than anything with the number “3” in it.

The production of a cosmic ray shower, produced by an incredibly energetic particle from far outside our Solar System. Image credit: Pierre Auger Observatory, via http://apcauger.in2p3.fr/Public/Presentation/.

The production of a cosmic ray shower, produced by an incredibly energetic particle from far outside our Solar System. Image credit: Pierre Auger Observatory, via http://apcauger.in2p3.fr/Public/Presentation/.

And finally, from Frank on cosmic ray muons: “How about using natural muons coming from sky?”

The hard problem with muons is collimation, which is why the MICE collaboration’s advances are so important. Cosmic ray muons occur at an approximate rate of one muon per human-hand (about 0.01 square meters) per second. We are looking for bunches of muons at the same energy, the same speed and the same trajectory that are produced in a consistent, controllable fashion. We will someday — for high enough energies — be forced to go back to cosmic rays. But for muons, that day has not arrived just yet!

Thanks for a great week, everyone; welcome back to the un-banned user(s) and looking forward to another great week ahead!

Comments

  1. #1 Michael Mooney
    April 9, 2017

    From Michael Mooney (
    http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2017/04/02/comments-of-the-week-155-from-pure-energy-to-earths-twin/#comment-579308
    ) on relativity and apparent versus real shapes: “You forget again that a
    contracted Earth is only “apparent,” i,e., that fast moving frames of reference do
    not change the physical shape of planets and stars. There is no physics to support
    shrinking planets and stars.”

    On the contrary, Michael, it is only physics that supports a real length
    contraction. You see, the principle of relativity (and I’m oversimplifying by
    leaving out caveats here) is that the laws of physics are the same for all
    observers. If you move fast relative to anything else in the Universe, the laws of
    physics are the same for you as they are for anyone else. If you see an electron, it
    has an electric field with a total amount of field energy that’s identical to any
    other observer.

    That is a very clear statement, speaking as an instrumentalist (as you claim for your philosophy.)
    I have asked you many times to consider the possibility that, contrary to Einstein’s philosophy, there is a “real world” which exists in and of itself, independent of observational differences (the constant “frame of reference” recital.)
    Of course all observers will see things differently, especially at very high speeds (reasonably expected image distortion at near light speeds) .

    If you honestly accept as factual that, for instance, Earth’s diameter physically changes as a result of variations in observation, please just say so, and I will leave this forum.

    Thanks for dialogue before you “pegged” me as just “telling stories.” Also, please cite the physics for flattened planets. (They are pretty solid!) Physics is the same for all physical bodies. Observation does not change the physical world. (Not just “my philosophy.”)

  2. #2 CFT
    April 9, 2017

    Ethan,
    You say:
    “Because they selectively ignore evidence. That’s it. There is no good reason for disagreeing with the idea. ”
    .
    “There is no good reason…” And you talk about selective ignorance…now that is ironic coming from a man who calls himself a scientist.
    How would you even know? You don’t even pretend to try to understand their reasons, that would require some effort and actual investigation and research which you didn’t do, as it would most likely expose you to people who question instead of parroting, and bring you to ridicule in front of your true believing peers. You certainly didn’t try to understand Dr. Judith Curry’s reasons, which she has published in numerous scientific publications…but somehow researching even that eluded you. Sad.
    .
    On the brighter side of reality, the EPA now has been given a mandate they can actually accomplish, monitoring the weather instead of pretending they can predict the climate.

  3. #3 CFT
    April 9, 2017

    @Michael Mooney,
    Strange that everyone likes to throw GR and SR around while talking profoundly about ‘frames of reference’ when the guy who invented it asked the very good question:
    .
    “Do you really believe that the moon isn’t there when nobody looks?”

    ― Albert Einstein
    .
    Reality is a precondition for the perception of reality by an observer, or else what the hell are you measuring? Causality goes out the window when you confuse heuristics with cause.

  4. #4 dean
    United States
    April 9, 2017

    “Dr. Judith Curry’s reasons”

    Are money, and her analyses have been shown to be worthless (at best).

  5. #5 Denier
    United States
    April 10, 2017

    @Ethan wrote:

    Why not become a climate scientist yourself and make sure the field gets it right?

    I’m happy with my choice of profession. I wouldn’t change it. I do have interests outside of what I do to provide for my family, but I’m glad I didn’t choose to make my living in any of them. Being a professional climate scientist sounds awful , but speaking of career changes you are making good progress toward your own goal of getting out of academia.

    @Ethan wrote:

    Why sit here and argue with an astrophysicist who sees extraordinary competence, scientific integrity and all the hallmarks of it being done right

    Because I don’t think you are critical enough of some information. The Greenland Ice Sheet melting is a good example. When you left out that at the current rate of melt it is going to take 13,000 years to melt the Greenland Ice Sheet I don’t think it was a purposeful omission. I could be wrong, but I genuinely believe you didn’t know. It was a scary statistic and had may have had some nice maps so you threw it in there without investigating. So long as your filter for this particular subject is more tribal and less scientist, I’m going to continue to banter with an astrophysicist.

    @Ethan wrote:

    If you truly contend to care about your kids and grandkids, and I believe you, why should I not hold you responsible for your actions and advocacies that damage the lives and livelihoods and destroy the homes and cities of the adults, children and grandchildren of others?

    You should. I look at the evidence. I put my stick in the sand and I stand by it. If I’ve done something wrong then I take responsibility for it. When sea levels rises 3 meters and Earth loses 1.5% of its land mass you can say “I told you so”. Where we are going to have an issue is if you are going to try to hold me responsible for things that haven’t happened but you think might happen someday.

  6. #6 MobiusKlein
    April 10, 2017

    Ah crap, sucks that there is no economy of scale for the planet watching telescope. Would seem a bit extravagant to make the largest space telescope to only look at 100 star systems. I can see the appeal of general purpose instruments here.

    Makes the standalone star shade device seem more reasonable.

  7. #7 MobiusKlein
    April 10, 2017

    “When you left out that at the current rate of melt it is going to take 13,000 years to melt the Greenland Ice Sheet I don’t think it was a purposeful omission.”

    The problem with your statement there is the assumption that current melt rates will prevail. If the planet warms, melt rates go up.

    As for the joy of being able to say “I told you so!”, count me out. Better to prepare for the worst that wait for 100% certainty.

  8. #8 Sean T
    April 10, 2017

    CFT,

    As I’ve explained to Mooney, relativity most certainly does not do away with the idea of an objective reality. It merely changes what we think of as being invariant and unchangeable from observer to observer. Pre-relativity, we believed that spatial distances and times were such invariants. Relativity merely has shown that this was incorrect; spatial distances and times behave in a way similar to velocities. Different observers measure different spatial distances and times for the same events. Relativity has replaced the invariance of space and time with the spacetime interval, which is invariant for all observers. All of the “paradoxical” results of relativity are consequences of this new recognition of what constitutes objective reality.

    The quote you referenced is regarding certain interpretations of quantum mechanics that Einstein found to be problematic. It had nothing to do with reference frames and relativity. The quote dealt with some QM interpretations that really do imply that nothing exists until it is measured. This need not imply consciousness, however. Interaction with the environment can cause decoherence, so Einstein’s quote was somewhat misleading.

    Whether this interpretation has merit or not is questionable. It does agree with all available experimental evidence. There are other interpretations that likewise agree with experiment, though, so the question is not decideable given the current state of scientific knowledge. Many of the other interpretations are equally troublesome. For instance, the Many Worlds interpretation insists that whole new universes are formed any time a measurement is made. For example, if you measure the spin of an electron in a given direction, it can have one of two values. The MWI insists that making the measurement creates two new universes, one in which the “up” spin is measured on this occasion and one in which the “down” spin is measured.

    The real problem is the QM seems to be VERY counterintuitive, much more so than relativity. With a bit of adjustment in how we think, we can learn to grasp relativity; it’s not really all that foreign to the way our brains work. QM is different. The “only” thing QM really has going for it is (to date) perfect agreement with experiment. It gets everything right, so we believe it even if we aren’t really all that comfortable with it.

  9. #9 Michael Mooney
    April 10, 2017

    CFT (#3): “Reality is a precondition for the perception of reality by an observer, or else what the hell are you measuring? Causality goes out the window when you confuse heuristics with cause.”

    Well said. (This is an endorsement of your philosophy, not your science.)

  10. #10 dean
    United States
    April 10, 2017

    “Because they selectively ignore evidence.”

    Selectively might be kind, as it implies ignoring bits and pieces, but the magnitude of denial from those folks means they have to have chosen to refuse to believe much of the research. “They choose to ignore evidence by the bucketfull” would be better wording.

    “Being a professional climate scientist sounds awful ,”

    Given your repeated demonstrations that you lack any talent for numerical calculations, or honesty, I can see why you say that.

    ” I look at the evidence. ”

    That was a good laugh.

    “But if you think that means that all climate science is garbage — or that a denialist model like Curry’s, Lindzen’s, or Easterbrook’s is just as good as the consensus model — then you have failed to understand some very basic principles of science”

    True, but there is also the point that the real scientists are always working to improve models, and develop newer, more accurate models. Talking about the level of improvement in these models is boring, and typically not accessible outside specialists. It’s easy for the denial community to target “old models and point out (exaggerate really) the “flaws” from those models. Once again, the science is behind the communications eight ball.

    ““No one has a model that perfectly predicts Earth’s atmosphere.”

    We build some amazingly good statistical models for a variety of things with modern software and statistical learning methods, but none of them work perfectly. A statement like the one above for climate models could only come from someone who doesn’t understand any of the process or is interested in raising a red herring, nothing more.

  11. #11 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    April 10, 2017

    @denier, there is one huge omission from your comment #5.
    You have omitted the fact that sea level rise is not and will not be the only negative consequence of climate change.
    In South Africa, we are experiencing a severe drought. Cape Town has less than 100 days of water left and the municipality has had to reduce tight restrictions to bring water usage down. There is still the possibility that they could run out before the rains come, with all that entails.
    The Great Barrier Reef off Australia has experienced unprecedented bleaching, thanks to rising temperatures. Even if the heat rise is reversed, biologists fear the damage done may be permanent.
    Last year, Gauteng Province suffered four heatwaves.
    Four.
    Unless we do something to halt and reverse Anthropogenic Global Warming, the consequences for us will be devastating.

  12. #12 Michael Mooney
    April 11, 2017

    My comment #1 replied to Ethan’s insistence that “… it is only physics that supports a real length contraction.” This contradicts his previous reply to me about whether physical length contraction is real. (“We don’t think so.”) Then he went on to claim that contraction of distances between stars is “real.” (I failed to find the reference… not good at such a search.)
    He never replied to my repeated appeals to clarify.

    I forgot to reply to his next comment:
    ” When you say this: “I have never challenged the “big difference between what people see” in SR. I (and many other SR critics) only challenge the claim that those differences reflect actual physical variations in objects and distances. Yet no SR theorist will admit, “Yes, the differences are only apparent.””

    I am puzzled as to what you’re contending. Are you saying that if you switch reference frames, or if you go to the rest frame of the object, then that’s the “true” physical size? That’s nonsense; all reference frames are equally valid. Are you claiming that physical objects aren’t really contracted in their direction of motion? They absolutely are, just like you and I are with respect to an incoming comet. It doesn’t change how we perceive ourselves or the measurements we make, but it’s a real, physical effect that occurs uniquely for every unique observer in the Universe.”

    I am (still) saying that appearances might change via relativistic effects but that physical bodies and distances are not affected by different frames of reference.
    You parrot the SR phrase, “all reference frames are equally valid,” but refuse to consider the fact that “real world” exists prior to and independent of observational frames of reference. You now refuse to consider the fact that images of objects, as they *appear* are not the actual physical objects themselves. So a measuring device in contact with an object will yield its “proper length,” while an observer approaching at high speed will measure a contracted image of the object, requiring the Lorentz transform to correct for the difference between the image and the object.
    I have asked if anyone here understands that difference. It appears that you do not.
    Which is it… objects don’t shrink, but distances do … or only *images appear to shrink?*
    A clear direct answer would be very much appreciated.

  13. #13 dean
    April 11, 2017

    “I have asked if anyone here understands that difference.”

    The answer has been explained to you multiple times. You simply refuse to acknowledge it.

  14. #14 Denier
    United States
    April 11, 2017

    @Julian Frost wrote:

    Unless we do something to halt and reverse Anthropogenic Global Warming, the consequences for us will be devastating.

    We already are doing something. You just don’t realize it. Most of those banging this Anthropogenic Global Warming drum don’t realize it. Take for example the following line authored by Ethan.

    Ethan wrote:

    we will hit 900 parts per million around the year 2300, give or take about 50 years.

    Now here is a quick question for you: How many people will there be in the year 2300? We are talking about Anthropogenic Global Warming so the number of anthropoids is an important detail, don’t you think? I’d be stunned if Ethan put any thought into it before making the prediction. I’d bet he just extended a trend line or parroted a source who did.

    Back in the late 1960’s demographers did that same thing and came to the conclusion that human society was going to collapse by 1985. This wasn’t the product of fringe lunatics. It was the scientific consensus at the time that by 1985 the Earth would not be able to grow enough food to feed its population. The scientific consensus was wrong. From a percentage standpoint there are fewer starving people on Earth now than there have ever been in human history and we’re actually paying farmers to NOT grow food to boost prices.

    It is not that math changed or scientists in the 1960’s were idiots. Population growth wasn’t true to the trend line and neither was food production. Ethan and the scientists he’s drawing from are making the exact same error. They are extending trend lines without any thought to changes in the conditions that drive the actual numbers.

    The population in Western nations is collapsing. In just the three years from 2007 to 2010 the birth rate in the US declined 8%. Birthrates among US born women declined 6%, foreign born women birthrates declined 14%, and Mexican immigrant women birthrates declined 23%. That happened in only THREE years. Europe is much worse off than the US, and Far East Asia makes Europe look good.

    It is not going to get better any time soon. There is a demonstrable reverse-relationship correlation between the size of a nation’s social welfare state and birth rates. Many Western Nations are on the cusp of rolling out a lavish social welfare state called Universal Basic Income. The calls for a Basic Income program will be deafening as automation makes unskilled citizens unemployable. Birthrates are going to plunge. Because of longevity, Earth’s total population will continue to climb for 2-3 decades but after that it will be a race to the bottom.

    Ethan is making a prediction about carbon emissions 283 years from now by extending a trend line of data from the past few decades. It is fantasy. It is worse that he believe that fantasy to be ‘robust science’. Between technological advancements and population collapse, this is a problem that is solving itself as we speak. For those who don’t understand irony, a prime example is when climate screechers accuse others of selectively ignoring evidence.

  15. #15 dean
    April 11, 2017

    Denier, thank you for confirming what has long been suspected: you are just as big a racist as you are a science denier.

    Your ignorant drivel about birthrates is disgusting.

  16. #16 Denier
    United States
    April 11, 2017

    To be fair, it isn’t my ignorant drivel. It is the ignorant drivel from Pew Research.

    http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/11/29/u-s-birth-rate-falls-to-a-record-low-decline-is-greatest-among-immigrants/

  17. #17 Julian Frost
    Gauteng North
    April 11, 2017

    Denier, you talk about the population falling, but you overlook something.
    We are already seeing severe consequences as I mentioned in my earlier comment. By 2050, even if the rate of population growth comes to a halt, the consequences of Anthropogenic Global Warming will be devastating.
    2300 is too late. We need to take action now.

  18. #18 dean
    April 12, 2017

    “To be fair, it isn’t my ignorant drivel. ”

    Most of it is (to be fair).

    You conveniently leave out that that data was from pre 2012. You leave out Pew’s point that their own research shows the declines like this occur in times of economic distress. You show concern that the correct people aren’t reproducing enough to offset the (in your mind) dirty people.

    “There is a demonstrable reverse-relationship correlation between the size of a nation’s social welfare state and birth rates. Many Western Nations are on the cusp of rolling out a lavish social welfare state called Universal Basic Income.”

    This is, of course, only your opinion. The research on social welfare and birthrates is all over the board (reverse-relationship correlation? You really don’t know anything about statistics do you?). There was a study from Sweden addressing this that indicated a type of spending is positively associated with birth rate, but it was from 1993 and hardly addresses the type of spending loonatarians like you back:

    The theme of this article is that the dramatic increase during the last decade, at least partly, is an effect of the Swedish family policy. This policy is characterized by publicly run services for children, support for mothers’ employment, support for father involvement, and support for single mothers. According to the empirical evidence, the model works: children do well in subsidized child care, they do not suffer from mother’s work involvement, fathers are becoming more involved in child care with beneficial effects on children, and children of single mothers also do well, most certainly if father contact is maintained. Because the stresses of combining employment and par enthood have been reduced, Swedish parents want more children.

    That isn’t a description of a bad thing (to decent people it isn’t, that is).

    “Ethan is making a prediction about carbon emissions 283 years from now by extending a trend line of data from the past few decades. It is fantasy. It is worse that he believe that fantasy to be ‘robust science’.”

    Yeah, you’ve demonstrated repeatedly you don’t have a clue about science or statistics, so your opinion doesn’t count for anything. And your ignorant assertions about “population collapse” are laughable.

    Just to straighten things out: the ignorant drivel was your bigoted interpretation of the numbers.

  19. #19 Denier
    United States
    April 12, 2017

    @dean wrote:

    There was a study from Sweden addressing this that indicated a type of spending is positively associated with birth rate

    children do well in subsidized child care

    The study addresses child health, which is an important subject on its own but irrelevant and off topic here. It is worth noting that in the 5 years following the study the birth rate in Sweden declined by almost 20%. Like every other member of the EU without exception, Sweden’s birth rate is below replacement rate. Seeing as it has been declining since the 60’s, it isn’t due to a time of economic hardship.

    @dean wrote:

    This is, of course, only your opinion. The research on social welfare and birthrates is all over the board

    I can’t take credit for that one either. It is beyond my field of expertise so I rely heavily upon the work of others.

    Median ages are highest in advanced economies with large social welfare states. Among the 45 major countries, Japan has the highest median age (44.7), while the Philippines has the lowest (22.2). Advanced economies tend to have higher median ages than emerging ones because they provide more social welfare, which boosts longevity and depresses fertility.

    http://blog.yardeni.com/2012/06/socialism-demography.html

    Despite all your hand waving and name calling, you have yet to address the main point. The number of humans on this planet spewing CO2 in the atmosphere is going to drop. Ethan’s prediction made from simply extending a trend line is worthless.

  20. #20 Denier
    April 12, 2017

    @Julian Frost wrote:

    We need to take action now.

    What action do you propose? How many people are you willing to kill to bring about your great leap forward? Give me some specifics please. What are the things you would like to see implemented, how long will they take to implement, how much will those implementations cost, and quantify the delta in climate that your proposed changes bring about over what time frame. Have you thought this through beyond spouting generic platitudes?

  21. #21 dean
    April 12, 2017

    denier, you point was addressed – as usual, you either ignore it or are lying.

    Your “population collapse” statement is the epitome of “just drawing the trendline” stuff – you are either too dishonest or too uninformed to realize it.

    Your interpretations of the numbers are completely bogus, brought on by your biases and lack of understanding.

  22. #22 Michael Mooney
    April 12, 2017

    Ethan, quoted in #12, regarding length contraction:

    “… it’s a real, physical effect that occurs uniquely for every unique observer in the Universe.”

    This confusion between “real physical effects” and observational differences is now so engrained in the minds of SR theorists that they, including you, Ethan, don’t give a second thought to the factual difference between images observed and the physical objects themselves.

    Like CFT said in #3, “Reality is a precondition for the perception of reality by an observer, or else what the hell are you measuring? Causality goes out the window when you confuse heuristics with cause.”

    How does your instrumentalist philosophy deal with that, Ethan? Seriously.

  23. #23 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    April 12, 2017

    @denier:

    What action do you propose?

    I propose several actions. First, no new coal fired plants. In South Africa, power from wind and solar is now cheaper than that of coal. Second, develop public transport. I ride the Gautrain to work every day instead of using my car. Third, use incentives to encourage people to buy more efficient vehicles and make new buildings more energy efficient.

    How many people are you willing to kill to bring about your great leap forward?

    Um, what?
    I said nothing about killing anybody to lower carbon rates. Your question is a total nonsequitor and a sign that you are arguing in bad faith. In fact, if we do nothing, the environment will collapse and the death toll will be in the hundreds of millions.

  24. #24 Denier
    United States
    April 12, 2017

    @Julian Frost wrote:

    How many people are you willing to kill to bring about your great leap forward?

    Um, what?
    I said nothing about killing anybody to lower carbon rates. Your question is a total nonsequitor and a sign that you are arguing in bad faith.

    Actually I was pointing out the peril of unintended consequences that accompany massive economic upheaval by referencing China’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ as implemented by Mao Zedong who as a result is now considered the mass murderer with the highest body count in human history. I can see the reference was missed.

    You did not say anything about killing anyone to bring about your goal, but funny enough after you posted there was another poster in the newest thread who did suggest change needed to be implemented at gunpoint via the military. Your proposals are all reasonable, but not everyone on your side of the picket line rules out violence to bring about the changes they’d like to see.

  25. #25 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    April 13, 2017

    Denier, your referencing of the Great Leap Forward is still a non sequitor.
    1) What mass deaths would result from quickly decarbonising using the steps I have suggested?
    2) If we fail to decarbonise and the climate continues to heat up, environmental collapse will result, and millions will die.
    We have to decarbonise.

  26. #26 Michael Mooney
    April 13, 2017

    There is a very serious blind spot in SR theory. I have summarized it in #22 with a little help from CFT, yet Ethan refuses to address it. Rather he just wrote a piece on how to tie our shoes?
    Major avoidance of the issue, Ethan?

  27. #27 Denier
    United States
    April 13, 2017

    @Julian Frost wrote:

    1) What mass deaths would result from quickly decarbonising using the steps I have suggested?

    My reference was written prior to your posting your suggest steps and so was not a repose to them. Furthermore your steps don’t exactly ‘decarbonize’, but I’m all for a reduction on coal fired power plants. Research has suggested much of the melting of the Polar Ice Cap and Greenland Ice Sheet is due to soot from coal fired power plants ‘dirtying’ the ice and the resulting change in albedo is causing the ice to melt. The main problem there is that China is currently the largest source of expansion in the segment -AND- has the dirtiest plants. We can suggest to them that they stop but no one is going to back war over it. Stopping coal is a nice sentiment even if unrealistic.

    @Julian Frost wrote:

    2) If we fail to decarbonise and the climate continues to heat up, environmental collapse will result, and millions will die.

    Yeah…I don’t believe that at all and haven’t read any credible research that convinces me otherwise. Generally speaking the biosphere likes it warmer. There has never been a mass extinction in Earth’s history due to warming climate. Shock cooling via meteor strike or flood basalt eruptions are blamed for most. Snowball Earth gets another one. Cold kills and warm means it is time to break out the margaritas.

  28. #28 dean
    April 13, 2017

    “Yeah…I don’t believe that at all and haven’t read any credible research that convinces me otherwise. ”

    That isn’t the fault of the scientists, or a lack of evidence — it is your pre-determined mindset that says “they are all liars”.

    You have yet to give an objection that is based on evidence rather than your opinion.

  29. #29 Denier
    United States
    April 13, 2017

    Furthermore to post on coal soot changing the albedo of ice sheets, here is a great pic of the Greenland Ice Sheet as taken by a National Geographic photographer.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/content/dam/news/photos/000/805/80585.adapt.1190.1.jpg

    It is carbon, not CO2, that is killing that ice sheet.

    ‘http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ngeo2180.html

  30. #30 eric
    April 13, 2017

    MM:

    There is a very serious blind spot in SR theory.

    The blind spot is yours. I have explained to you that SR recognizes an objective reality. Sinisa has explained the same thing to you. You have never actually replied to what we’ve said, so here it is again:

    The objective, agreed-upon, conserved, non-frame-relative characteristic of any object is its spacetime interval.

    Do you disagree? If so, explain why it’s wrong. If not, please stop with all this ‘relativity is subjective’ baloney, because it isn’t.

  31. #31 Julian Frost
    Gauteng East Rand
    April 14, 2017

    @denier #27:

    If we fail to decarbonise and the climate continues to heat up, environmental collapse will result, and millions will die.

    Yeah…I don’t believe that at all and haven’t read any credible research that convinces me otherwise.

    Methinks that nothing saying that would be credible enough for you.
    The evidence is against you. Saying you don’t believe it won’t change it, nor will it diminish the consequences when they occur.

  32. #32 Denier
    United States
    April 14, 2017

    @Julian Frost wrote:

    Methinks that nothing saying that would be credible enough for you.

    Maybe, but that may not be true for anyone else causally reading through the comments who would like to see some support for your apocalyptic vision. That you are unable or unwilling to share your “evidence” of the future is quite telling.

  33. #33 Michael Mooney
    April 14, 2017

    Eric (#30): “The objective, agreed-upon, conserved, non-frame-relative characteristic of any object is its spacetime interval.”

    Objective? Like the pancaked Earth as theoretically observed from high speed? Agreed upon? By whom besides thoroughly indoctrinated mainstream SR theorists who tolerate absolutely no criticism?

    “The spacetime interval” is another of relativity’s concepts without an ontology of what space IS (but empty volume), what time IS, (but the variable ticking of clocks), or what spacetime IS (as a supposed malleable medium distorted by mass) as a substitute for gravity, which Einstein denied as a force. (“Spooky action at a distance,” you know!)

    I have addressed this at length in my comments on Ethan’s post,” What Is Spacetime.”

    Then I am accused of repetition if I explain it all again. Enough!

  34. #34 dean
    April 14, 2017

    Yeah…I don’t believe that at all and haven’t read any credible research that convinces me otherwise.

    Given that you’ve stated all the research is bogus, without supplying any intelligent reason for your assertion, it isn’t surprising that you haven’t been convinced otherwise: you simply refuse to look at any evidence with an honest eye.

  35. #35 eric
    April 15, 2017

    Objective? Like the pancaked Earth as theoretically observed from high speed?

    It’s exactly as objective as momentum. Consider again the example of a pitcher by the side of a moving train throwing a ball at someone on the train. Is the momentum of the ball an objective quantity? Yes. Does the momentum of the ball experienced by the guy on the train change with how fast the train is moving? Yes. Likewise with “the shape of the ball” and “the rate of time of the ball” will be experienced differently by that guy on the train.

    So my follow-up to you: is momentum an objective quantity for people on trains?

  36. #36 Michael Mooney
    April 15, 2017

    Brief answer, but to the gist of it:
    “… will be experienced differently…”

    No doubt, but how things are “experienced” does not change the physical objects themselves (or the distances between in space.)

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