Comments of the Week #58: The Coldest Cold Spot Of All

“The heart can get really cold if all you've known is winter.” -Benjamin Alire Sáenz

If you didn't read everything this week on Starts With A Bang, it's hard to blame you. Each week, on practically a daily basis, we've got new pieces coming at you, sharing the wonders of the Universe in our own unique fashion. The past seven days alone saw the following:

In addition to all that, I had a couple of new pieces appear over at Forbes:

There were some excellent conversations that took place, but one comment was the most important and informative of all. So for the first time, we'll have a one-comment-dominated edition (with the rest following the big one) of our Comments of the Week!

Image credit: Andrew Fruchter (STScI) et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA; digitally reprocessed by Al Kelly, via http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100620.html. Image credit: Andrew Fruchter (STScI) et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA; digitally reprocessed by Al Kelly, via http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100620.html.

From Seshadri Nadathur on the topic of the "cold spot" in the CMB: "I quite like your blog, and I appreciate the lengths you go to to ensure that the science you present is correct. This is why I am disappointed to see that you are in this instance giving credence to ridiculous hype."

I'm going to separate this comment up into seven major chunks, so that we give each one of the major points the attention it deserves. To start, in the original article I wrote, I talked about three things that happen in the Universe that make what we see as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and its fluctuations today different from what the initial fluctuations that were left over after inflation ended:

Image credit: NASA / WMAP science team, via http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/mission/sgoals_parameters_spect.html. Image credit: NASA / WMAP science team, via http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/mission/sgoals_parameters_spect.html.

First, the density fluctuations grow-and-shrink as matter and radiation interact after the Hot Big Bang takes place. This leads to an initially scale-invariant spectrum of density fluctuations (solid lines, above) becoming a "wiggly" spectrum of CMB imperfections.

Image credit: Frank Bertoldi of University of Bonn, via https://astro.uni-bonn.de/~bertoldi/projects/sz/ringberg/img1.html. Image credit: Frank Bertoldi of University of Bonn, via https://astro.uni-bonn.de/~bertoldi/projects/sz/ringberg/img1.html.

Second, there is material -- both hot and fast-moving -- in between the CMB and our eyes, for the CMB photons to interact with. When the photons pass through this material, their energy spectrum shifts, due to the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect. This will result in spots appearing to be the wrong temperature, particularly on quite small scales, unless we account for it.

Image credit: E. Siegel. Image credit: E. Siegel.

And third, when structure forms in the Universe, and CMB photons enter that gravitational well, oftentimes the well that they're leaving is either deeper (for clusters) or shallower (for voids) than the well they entered, making the temperature warmer where there's more structure and colder where there's less. This is the Integrated Sachs-Wolfe (ISW) effect.

This is all correct, and no one disputes this. The question is, can this picture -- scale-invariant spectrum of fluctuations from inflation, matter-radiation interactions, the SZ effect and the ISW effect -- account for everything we see?

Let's go.

Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration. Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.

Let me summarise some facts regarding this supervoid “explanation” of the Cold Spot:

1. In November last year, a detailed study of the possible ISW effect due to exactly such a supervoid was published (by me and others) in Physical Review D, explicitly showing that this supervoid fails to account for more than 10% of the total temperature discrepancy at the centre of the Cold Spot unless all of GR is wrong. This reference is here: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2014PhRvD..90j3510N [Link fixed.]

I agree with what's stated in the paper almost certainly. The void is just under 300 Megaparsecs (or nearly a billion light years) in size, which is huge! The authors (including Seshadri, who commented here) claim that this is a 10% less-dense region of space, although judging by galaxy counts, I find that it's a 20% less-dense-than-average region of space. That's a small detail, however. They (correctly) claim that a void of this size and density is nothing special; one that was the same size and 20% less dense than normal would also be expected in the Universe, albeit there should only (by my calculations) be about two-to-three of them in the local Universe, not twenty.

But they are correct with the possible exception of the numbers: they claim entire fluctuation is an extra "coldness" of about ~150 microKelvin, and the ISW for a supervoid of 10% lower density on that scale only contributed about ~20 microKelvin of that. (If it turns out to be 20% lower density, that's a contribution more than ~20 microKelvin, but somewhat less than ~40 microKelvin, according to their paper.) Regardless, without the supervoid effect, this is approximately a five-sigma fluctuation: a rarity where we'd only expect one in the Universe at most, but not an impossibility.

Image credit: S. Nadathur et al., 2014, via http://arxiv.org/pdf/1408.4720v2.pdf. Image credit: S. Nadathur et al., 2014, via http://arxiv.org/pdf/1408.4720v2.pdf.

2. We also showed that in order to explain all of temperature discrepancy at the centre of the Cold Spot one would require a void that is so large and so empty that the chance of it existing in our Universe would be less than 1 in 1 million. The comparable probability of the Cold Spot just being a random fluctuation that requires no special explanation is roughly 1 in 1000, even according to the most pessimistic estimates (and likely much larger).

This part is important, because there was a paper by Istvan Szapudi and his collaborators that claimed that 100% of this effect could be caused not by the ISW, but by a second-order term known as the Rees-Sciama effect. After looking at the Nadathur et al. paper and Szapudi's paper, I am well convinced that the second order effect is much, much smaller and negligible, and that the Szapudi analysis is incorrect. This means that the cold spot is actually there, and actually quite cold. It's not catastrophically cold for the scale-invariant fluctuations, just unlikely. What's ridiculously unlikely, however, is that a supervoid accounts for 100% of this cold spot.

The temperature contours for a given region size, a given density contrast and the number of regions expected per-local-Universe is given below, by Nadathur's figure 5.

Image credit: S. Nadathur et al., 2014, via http://arxiv.org/pdf/1408.4720v2.pdf. Image credit: S. Nadathur et al., 2014, via http://arxiv.org/pdf/1408.4720v2.pdf.

3. The Cold Spot is not unusually cold at the centre. If one selects the coldest spot in the CMB map, naturally it is cold compared to the average point in the same map. This is just a selection effect. The question is whether it is cold compared to the coldest spot in CMB maps in alternative versions of the Universe. The answer is it is not: 100% of the coldness of the Cold Spot at the centre can be explained by the selection effect (Figure 6 in the paper above), compared to just 10% from the supervoid.

When they say "selection effect", by the way, they mean -- and here's what I think they mean -- the coldest spot in any Universe (mock Universe or real Universe) is always going to be much colder than average. Well, so what? Unless it's so cold that it would be like a one-in-a-huge-huge-HUGE-number chance of such a spot existing, then that's just the Universe we're given. In our Universe, according to the Nadathur paper, that happens to be on a relatively large (~15 degree) scale, and happens to be a ~150 microKelvin fluctuation, possibly some (but not a lot) of which is due to this supervoid's presence.

What they propose looking at as an "interesting" thing, however, is what the temperature from the nearby regions around it are doing, and how they differ from the "coldness" of the region we're examining. That's what figure 6, below, shows.

Image credit: S. Nadathur et al., 2014, via http://arxiv.org/pdf/1408.4720v2.pdf. Image credit: S. Nadathur et al., 2014, via http://arxiv.org/pdf/1408.4720v2.pdf.

4. What is unusual about the Cold Spot is that there is a hot ring surrounding the central cold region, which does not happen in random CMB maps. The supervoid in no way accounts for this, because supervoids do not produce hot rings, unless all of GR is wrong.

This is unusual, I agree, but not important. The ring is... well, it's not really a ring. I mean, look for yourself at the Planck data: do you see a ring?

Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration. Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.

No; you see a region where it's hotter around a region that's very, very cold. Although this is unusual in the sense that it's rare, I don't think it's significant in that I don't believe it means anything other than, "yup, this is what the temperature patterns around this spot look like."

5. This “supervoid” is not particularly super. It’s rare, but not so very rare: theory predicts roughly 20 or so such voids should exist in our local Universe, and simulations agree. Several such voids have already been seen in other parts of the sky, some of which are larger than this “supervoid” and all of which are emptier. Yet we do not see 20 Cold Spots! Can it be that GR fails only in one region of the sky? Or is it more likely that the supervoid and the Cold Spot are unrelated?

Basically, the point that Seshadri is hammering on is this: the authors of the study that claimed this cold spot was entirely due to the supervoid were in gross error; the supervoid is not really super in any sense, and only contributes at the 10-to-30% (at most) level. Most of the "coldness" of this cold spot is due to the actual density fluctuations in the CMB itself.

But I think the thing the commenter says next is the most damning and accurate thing about the entire episode, and this is really where I blame myself the most.

Image credit: István Szapudi et al., of how voids chill the CMB and clusters warm it, thanks to the Integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect. Via http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/35368/1/DMmap2. Image credit: István Szapudi et al., of how voids chill the CMB and clusters warm it, thanks to the Integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect. Via http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/35368/1/DMmap2.

To be honest the most disappointing thing about this whole episode is that these results were published months in advance of the current press release, and the authors of this paper and the press release are well aware of them. I’m sorry to say that in my opinion the fact that they went ahead with demonstrably incorrect and over-hyped claims reflects very poorly on them. Publicity in news media who know nothing about physics is one thing, but it is much more worrying that such pseudo-scientific claims receive prominence on your own well-informed blog too.

The whole science-communication-by-press-release business is one of the things I'm most strident in my opposition to. They're often sensationalized, and I often take the short-cut of my own professional assessment of the author(s) in figuring out how closely to scrutinize a claim. I almost went to grad school at the University of Hawaii, and -- if I had, based on my interests -- Istvan Szapudi likely would have been my Ph.D. supervisor. So I've always thought well of him professionally (in addition to his works that I knew about), and that bias that I had prevented me from digging in more deeply and finding the (rather large) flaws in the study.

So while I do think I don't have anything to apologize for when it comes to the general explanation of the CMB fluctuation, the SZ and the ISW effects or any of that, I did not do as good a job as I ought to have when it came to the scrutiny of the results as respects the cold spot/supervoid issue. The cold spot really is very cold, and almost all of the coldness has nothing to do with the supervoid or the ISW (or the Rees-Sciama effect, for that matter) at all.

And finally, some (brief) other comments.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/CXC/STScI, via http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA12348. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/CXC/STScI, via http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA12348.

From magnocrat on the multiwavelength Milky Way center: "It is mindboggling in the extreme but we must remember these are not true visual pictures. We could never , however close see things that way."

Your eyes will never be this awesome, not unless you had panchromatic EM receptors hooked up to your eyes. But that's kind of the point about coloration in astronomy and data visualization of all types: if you want to see what's there, you need to present it in a way that maximizes both the information presented and the ease of processing it. When you look at this image, the data -- from the X-rays (hot gas) to stars (points) to gas and dust (IR) -- is easy to take in, simply through your eyes.

It's not a "true visual" picture; it's much better.

Image credit: Larry McNish of RASC Calgary Center, via http://calgary.rasc.ca/redshift.htm. Image credit: Larry McNish of RASC Calgary Center, via http://calgary.rasc.ca/redshift.htm.

From Sean T on photons traveling through the Universe: "Actually, what Denier says is true, but is only true because space is expanding. The photon’s wavelength increases because of this spatial expansion. In a static universe, light does not lose energy as it propagates through the vacuum."

And this is important when we consider light traveling to us from locations -- like globular clusters, stars within the Milky Way or, honestly, anything in our local group -- that aren't caught up in the expansion of the Universe. Since the space between ourselves and these locations isn't expanding, there's no stretching of the wavelength of photons, and hence, no loss of energy. The only redshift/blueshift effects are from doppler (motion) shifts and changes in the gravitational properties of space from the emitter to the observer.

Image credit: MacLeod / Union of Concerned Scientists. Image credit: MacLeod / Union of Concerned Scientists.

From David Helson on "scientific consensus" and expertise: "What sort of degree do you need to understand what it means when ‘scientists’ are caught rigging the peer review process? What does it suggest when a ‘scientist’ refuses to share his data and refuses to obey legal FOI requests? What sort of degree does it take to recognize that the mathematical weather models have all been wrong for several decades? Is it really uneducated to recognize which side of the grant process is unfairly weighted? Does human nature count for nothing? How much power is in it for the UN, and how much profit? What kind of scientist isn’t disturbed by a rigged peer review process and what kind of scientist leaves that out of his discussion?"

This is what we call "a slew of conspiracy theories." If you have a problem with the science, then go and learn the science and expose it. The problem with your idea of what's going on is that everyone who's gone and done it -- even extreme skeptics like Richard Mueller -- wind up reaching the same conclusion, independently, as the scientific consensus you decry.

If you're not going to do that work yourself, you're just some guy on the internet with an inadequately informed opinion. Honestly, that's most of who weighs in on climate change on the internet.

Do better.

Image credit: Sports Science by FOX, of Padraig Harrington. Image credit: Sports Science by FOX, of Padraig Harrington.

And finally, from John H on the physics of Happy Gilmore: "This is definitely fun to try, but Padraig who, in addition to his incredible golf skills, also trained as a dancer when younger, makes it look a lot easier than it is. Even long drive competitors don’t use the technique, because it’s near impossible to master consistently and they still have to keep the ball in a target grid used to determine legal attempts. For regular play it just doesn’t add anything useful. Closer is always better than further."

Here's the thing: I imagine it's all about practice. Golfers practice their swing... what, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of times, before they're ready to compete professionally at the highest levels? What if, instead of stationary drives (iron and putter play is different), golfers simply learned how to hit tee shots with a running start? Could that just up the risk/reward game? I'd like to see. Hell, if I didn't find golf so dull, maybe -- since I have practically no experience being a golf-ball-whacker-guy -- I'd do the experiment myself! Maybe someday... maybe someday.

Thanks for a great week of comments, and see you back here soon for more about the Universe!

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In defense of David Helson,
A person does not need to know how to read music to appreciate if a song is pleasing to the ears and soothing to the soul.
Nor does one need a mind of Sherlock Holmes to smell the stench in Denmark.

Human beings are finite creatures and as each one realizes this their nature has often rhymed through out time.

With regard to climate change fear mongering there is a plethora of data readily available that totally discredits end of world doom and gloom scenarios which only leads one to a conclusion that the person or group touting said events at the time were at least misinformed.
Much as the rebellious end of timers or the govt spends to much we will be bankrupting our grand kids.

The climate scare one has been around a long time and this blog site:
https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/
has 1000's of very well documented newspaper clippings and magazine articles from over the past 150 years of doom and gloom planet is freezing planet is burning we are all going to die sensationalizing of the climate. Some of it out of ignorance, but some also out of self profiteering.

So again in defense of David H here, a LOT of people have exposed the climate fear mongering for what it is. It is just that the topic has moved to the political realm now where money and fiance play a much larger role so the "Science" get's pushed to the back of the bus and only called upon if it will suit the narrative of the speaker holding the mike.

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

"With regard to climate change fear mongering "

The only fearmongers are you alarmists running around screaming "New World Order! New World Order!".

"Human beings are finite creatures and as each one realizes this their nature has often rhymed through out time."

A pointless claim of no merit or consequence.

"The climate scare one has been around a long time and this blog site:"

So what makes you think that you're right about this? You've never shown any qualm about being wrong before when it comes to something that jars against your faith.

"a LOT of people have exposed the climate fear mongering for what it is"

I bet you don't know that you're the fearmonger, though, do you.

"It is just that the topic has moved to the political realm now where money and fiance play a much larger role "

Yeah, which is why despite AGW being damn well understood and proven for the last 20 or more years, still nothing has been done about it. Because there are multi-trillion-dollar industries that want to pay out this quarter, and not give a fig about when a problem won't be seen for 5 years, never mind 50. Those industries are fighting with every trick in the book to stop any change that will impact their profits.

And they are the fossil fuel industries.

"The only fearmongers are you alarmists running around screaming “New World Order! New World Order!”.
Well it is pretty obvious that there is always a new world order trying to establish itself is it not?
Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Greeks, Romans etc..
Why should now be any different, has human nature suddenly changed?

“Human beings are finite creatures and as each one realizes this their nature has often rhymed through out time.”

“A pointless claim of no merit or consequence.”

OH!! Very relevant because we can look to our past as a reference for guidance about how human beings interact socially.

"So what makes you think that you’re right about this? You’ve never shown any qualm about being wrong before when it comes to something that jars against your faith."

Being right or wrong in this situation is not the premise of my dissension and disagreement but having the freedom to choose where my resources (My capital, taxes, labor) is put to use.
As a society, we are governed by laws and these laws come at a price. I feel that I should have a say in the cost and implementation of these laws.

Example:
When a society at one time encourages things like development of suburban and rural areas of the land and one takes advantage of that encouragement and plants his homestead and said individual commutes to the city for work and burns firewood for his heating and pays his taxes to develop the local area and then after a time a new wave of political thought comes around and says.. OH!! We need to tax you more because you drive more and you use more fossil fuels in your flat ect ect
It can really irk a person because political whims of the time have new interest at hand (prodded by new money interest).
So you see right, wrong or indifferent from the individuals point of view, he now feels slighted and his excess available resources are now being squeezed so it can tend to piss a person off.

Create a way where individuals are free to choose where they can spend their excess capital on saving the planet from what ever perceived boogie man they may fear. But to mandate that we all must purchase this product or that and buy this carbon credit on this exchange or that because it's “settled Science” when in fact it's not is rubbish.

“I bet you don’t know that you’re the fearmonger, though, do you. “

No I don't, but since your the house “know it all” I am certainly open if you would like to enlighten me

“Yeah, which is why despite AGW being damn well understood and proven for the last 20 or more years, still nothing has been done about it.
So you conclude a point with out actually crediting the plethora of facts that ther are things done to promote decent planet husbandry.. Arbor day, clean coal technologies, myriads of recycle programs.. Your simply full of shit on this one.

“Because there are multi-trillion-dollar industries that want to pay out this quarter, and not give a fig about when a problem won’t be seen for 5 years, never mind 50. Those industries are fighting with every trick in the book to stop any change that will impact their profits.
And they are the fossil fuel industries.”
Why your bitch about the fossil fuel industry?
Would you rather us living in caves and wiping our asses with leaves?
Man's use of fossil fuels has propelled us far above the animal kingdom and now you propose we head back to the dark ages?
No Thanks, and you accuse believers of being anti-enlightenment. You my fine foolish friend are the one still in the dark ages.

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

Being right or wrong in this situation is not the premise of my dissension and disagreement but having the freedom to choose where my resources (My capital, taxes, labor) is put to use.
As a society, we are governed by laws and these laws come at a price. I feel that I should have a say in the cost and implementation of these laws."

Aaah, , the ignorant screed of a libertarian, philosophy of those who don't wish to think hard and don't have use for facts. That explains your repeated substance free assertions.

Where are your facts Fuck Face?

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

"Aaah, , the ignorant screed of a libertarian, philosophy of those who don’t wish to think hard and don’t have use for facts. That explains your repeated substance free assertions."

BRILLIANT SUMMATION From An Idiot who half the time does not even know if his own "proper" name should be capitalized.
And you have the audacity to lecture me?? Fool....

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 02 May 2015 #permalink

but having the freedom to choose where my resources (My capital, taxes, labor) is put to use.

So you're an anarchist, then, right? You hate employment contracts and laws and the justice system, yes?

Because all those require you give up your choice in how your resources (capital, taxes, labour) is put to.

Moreover, that has nothing to do with whether reality CARES if the solution is not one to your liking. You are denying the problem solely because you don't like the solutions and won't come up with others yourself. Other than do nothing, because you are acclimatised to the restrictions you have and think they are "correct".

Well it is pretty obvious that there is always a new world order trying to establish itself is it not?

Conspiracy ideation, persecution complex and alarmism all tied up in one simple statement, Rag.

Thank you for proving my point.

OH!! Very relevant because we can look to our past as a reference for guidance about how human beings interact socially.

No we can't. Because you claim we are and must and always will be fallible, therefore we cannot do a damn thing. It has NO CONNECTION as to whether AGW exists.

It even skewers your denialism: you claim all of us are fallible, therefore we should do nothing, but if you're wrong, we're fucking ourselves up. If we do something, we can always stop doing it if it turns out bad.

Like burning fossil fuels. We should stop it. It's bad.

But by your insistence that your way must be had, you are ignoring your very statement as though it doesn't apply to you.

Your denial is not logical and reasoned, it's a dogmatic principle based on pure feelings and desires of yourself wrapped up in your faith as an unimpeachable whole.

because it’s “settled Science” when in fact it’s not is rubbish.

It is "settled science". As far as "Is AGW bad?" "Is it happening?" "Should we stop?", the science is as settled as the science over "Do things fall down when we drop them?" is settled science.

YOU want nothing done until it's 100% settled, because that means SOMEONE ELSE will get fucked over, not you, whilst you live on in happy bliss, with the TERRIFIED FEAR of change because you MIGHT end up poorer off. When you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT know that.

It's entirely possible that moving to renewables and away from fossil fuels VERY quickly will benefit us monetarily and technologically. We won't be spending trillions on stuff to burn in places where they hate anyone not of their religion and are willing to blow them up.

You could end up richer and with more free time.

But it's change, and you FEAR it.

Because you think you know how the world works.

Hint: you don't.

why your bitch about the fossil fuel industry?
Would you rather us living in caves and wiping our asses with leaves?

Thank you again for proving my point that you are the alarmist with your "We'd go back to the caves!!!!!"

Sorry, the fossil fuel industry was a lot later than our move out of the caves, and later even than lavatory paper. The fossil fuel industries do not provide us with them, and we do not require them or face a live without housing or lavatory paper.

The fact that your "best shot" was so crap (ironic) indicates you cannot, nay, WILL NOT, place any thought into it in case you find yourself unable to continue with your comforting, convenient lies.

From An Idiot who half the time does not even know if his own “proper” name should be capitalized.

Wow, what irony. My meter has 'sploded.

You moronic fuckwit, you don't seem to know that capitalisation is of no importance. But that was all you could manage, so you went with it. THAT is how dumb you are.

We also have several people with the name Dean. I know six personally off the top of my head.

And you don't use your name. Only a fake one, one that only denigrates and belittles.

Quite why you feel that doesn't make you ineligible to complain or label others "IDIOT" for THEIR internet handle is yet another indication of your wanton stupidity.

"BRILLIANT SUMMATION"

Yea it was, as your response demonstrates.

"Wow, what irony. My meter has ‘sploded."

The splosion was self inflicted then because the statement was not pulling at your marionette strings.
haha

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

"The fossil fuel industries do not provide us with them, and we do not require them or face a live without housing or lavatory paper."

ROTFLMFAO!!!
Wowzer, just when I think you peaked the scales in buffoonery you manage to tilt them even more.
You progressive are such frauds, your feign concerns are so transparent.
Like you really care for these people in India that eke out a days wage from scavenging the pits:
http://www.businessinsider.com/photos-indias-illegal-coal-mines-2012-10…

So you don't think fossil fuels industries contribute to a better life for Billions of people on the planet?
Well, when I worked for 3M company, I can tell you that I personally used Millions of gallons of refined fossil fuel derivatives to manufacture 100's of products that made peoples lives safer and better, I made crash protective films, miles and miles of medical adhesive strips and billions and billions of glucose test strips for diabetes testing.
I could go on but see here:
http://www-tc.pbs.org/independentlens/classroom/wwo/petroleum.pdf
Just a small list but I would hope you get the point into your thick head how important fossil fuels are in our everyday lives.

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

"Just a small list but I would hope you get the point into your thick head how important fossil fuels are in our everyday lives."
It's not the fossil fuels that are important to these products, it's the energy. Yes, without so much energy we wouldn't be able to lead the lifestyles we do today, but that doesn't need to be dependent on fossil fuels. There are so many cleaner sources of energy out there, and already almost 10% of the U.S.'s energy comes from renewable sources. So how does the question "Would you rather us living in caves and wiping our asses with leaves?" even come into this? Yes, for the present we mainly rely on fossil fuels, but that can and needs to be changed.

Kim,
Google "Methane hydrates" and then get back to me if you wish with your thoughts.

And I have no issues with alternatives, I was using solar panels long before most people even heard of them. As a matter of fact I recall using one of these:
http://www.arborsci.com/solar-spark-lighter?gclid=CjwKEAjwjpeqBRCDiKqli…

To light my grand parents cigarettes back in the early 70's on a farm in Texas.
The issue with renewable's is that they are not scaleable yet at a price that is feasible to the conman folks.

And there are other issues as well. I live in the Midwest where the wind farms have been a big thing. there are light flicker issues, dead bird issues many more, see here:
http://www.aweo.org/problemwithwind.html

Now, do I think alternatives have a place ABSOLUTELY, But they need to be done on a commercial grade where it make sense like Arizona, Nevada, Southern/Baja California deserts
However, I have issues (even with my own political party) over using our food source for car fuels like Ethanol.
Ethanol is nothing more than another democrat farm subsidy that drives up the cost of food.

There are things we can and should do, but the first has to be we let reason and facts have a seat at the table and even hold the gavel over big money and politics.

And NO I no longer work for a chemical company and yes I do have a child that will soon earn his degree as a petroleum engineer
And Yes as a native Texan I probably have favored slant towards Texas tea..
But I think I can be reasonable with regards to using all our available resources wisely.

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

Like you really care for these people in India, Rag.

You don't care about them when your corporations take risks there and kill thousands at Bhopal. You don't care about them when you're undercutting food prices to keep your farmers profitable. You don't care about them when AGW is making them worse now, because you're all right now.

You don't give a shit for them, you're all right.

You only care about how you can use them.

Kim made good points on your assinine false dichotomy of alarmist propoganda. We need energy, and we don't need as much as the US uses.

Scandanavian countries, despite being much colder and darker much of the time use around a quarter the US per capita average.

They don't live in caves.

@ Wow 15
Actually and Honestly No I don't but I can admit it publicly, can you (I doubt it)? As the saying goes a person with a tooth ache cares little if 10,000 people just perished in Nepal But that's not to say I wish ill will on them, I don't. However, I don't make the rules I just enjoy the benefits of them.
Now with that does it come responsibility? Well yes from my upbringing and all but I feel that I alone should be held responsible to a higher authority than mankind for how I choose to utilize the resources of which I am blessed to have authority over.

As far as we here in The United States Which IS The Greatest Country On Gods Green Earth see it... Well
Yes We Consume 20- 24% of the world's energy but we return what 17-20% In Global GDP
Compare the United States To The Scandinavian Country's contribution to the World let alone "Europe". Ids quite frankly an insult..(slap across the face with my golf glove, Off which I am off to the executive nine at the local before the sun goes down) tata..

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 03 May 2015 #permalink

Actually and Honestly No I don’t but I can admit it publicly, can you (I doubt it)?

Ah, then why did you bring their plight up? Taking the immoral high ground? Yup.

And what's with that "can you?"? Yes, I could admit that I didn't care about them. If I did. I don't pretend to care so as to make out that someone else is wrong. Unlike yourself, who will use and abuse the least protected and worst affected to prop up their religious and political position.

As the saying goes a person with a tooth ache cares little if 10,000 people just perished in Nepal

Nope, never heard that saying.

And I, as can many others, care without caring EVERY SINGLE SECOND. You're either wanting the impossible or you are making shit up to pretend that your misanthropy is "normal". It isn't.

to utilize the resources of which I am blessed to have authority over.

Hitler used the resources with which he was blessed to have authority over to kill 6 million people in gas chambers.

Pol Pot, Stalin, Mau, North Korea's dictators all do what they are blessed with to do as they do. Yet you decry them and disclaim god's actions there.

Your god doesn't exist. You only use it to defend your wealth because of your greed, and discard it when someone else you don't like has it. So not even you believe your bullshit.

And if it did, it doesn't "bless you" with resources. Any more than Pol Pot, Stalin, Hitler.

If a god exists, it gives nothing other than consequences.

The United States Which IS The Greatest Country On Gods Green Earth

No, it isn't. It's definitely worse than any Scandanavian country. Worse than all the entire civilised "Western World", bar a very few places, such as Turkey.

What happens is when your failures are pointed out, you go "But $OTHER_DESPOTIC_COUNTRY is worse!".

Yes We Consume 20- 24% of the world’s energy but we return what 17-20% In Global GDP

r
Pfft. Yeah, 17-20%. Right, that high. Sure.

EVEN IF it were true, that means you're far less efficient than the global average at making do with your energy. THAT INCLUDES the most deprived areas of the world.

If you were MERELY AVERAGE, not "Greatest Country on God's Green Earth", you'd be returning 20-24% ROEI.

The USA is the "Can't Do Country". Can't even manage a very poor "runner up".

Netherlands. Produces 0.8% GDP, 0.23% world population.

USA. Produces 17% GDP, 2.4% population.

Twice as productive per GDP output as the USA.

Despite all those "Socialist ideals", high taxes and all that anti-USA-RWNut stuff of being told what to do with your resources.

If the USA really IS peopled by "The best people in the best country on god's green earth", then your capitalist system is broken MIGHTILY.

Or you're less than average by quite a bit.

The explosion of your head trying to figure out which it is, being able to accept neither, will be audible for miles, Rag.

Hi Ethan - thanks for this. I enjoyed reading it, it lays out the issues clearly and I think it's a pretty fair summary.

(I have some minor quibbles with your quibbles about the density numbers we used - I think we're talking about slightly different measures of density in different places, and it also doesn't help that Szapudi's two papers give slightly different numbers from each other as well - and I also think 20 supervoids will likely turn out to be a better estimate than 2-3. But although my original comment might sound different, my co-authors and I do agree with you regarding the hot ring!)

Look forward to reading more excellent stuff on here :)

By Seshadri Nadathur (not verified) on 04 May 2015 #permalink

Seshadri,

My pleasure. I always appreciate the opportunity to get something right, even if I didn't get it 100% right the first time. Looking forward to many, many chances to not only tell more (accurate!) stories in the future, but to follow all the new discoveries out there that come along.

"Look at it and weep me’boy:"

Why should I? What insanity prompted that?

And what vacation of your intellect made you think that that has anything to do with my post at #19?