"Life is not a miracle. It is a natural phenomenon, and can be expected to appear whenever there is a planet whose conditions duplicate those of the Earth." ―Harold Urey
It's been yet another fascinating week of scientific stories here at Starts With A Bang! But as of the last 48 hours, there's something I absolutely have to talk about: the "Unite The Right" hate rally in Virginia, accompanied by violence and murder. They say that in order for evil to triumph, all that you need is for good people to stand by and do nothing. When I was a kid -- small, young, weak, inexperienced -- I saw lots of people get beaten up, taken advantage of, mugged, robbed... and I didn't do anything. Why? Because I was afraid for myself, for what would happen to me if I did. But I look at the world now, and I see it differently: what happens to us all if I don't do anything? What happens if none of us stop this madness? It's time to stand up alongside one another and demand equal treatment, legally, for everyone.
We live in a country where a black man will be criticized and even blacklisted from his job for taking a knee during the national anthem because he's making a statement about equal rights and protections under the law, but the rights of neo-nazi murderers to hatch terrorism plots and violently attack counter-protesters (two pretty illegal things, by the way) are not even addressed by our country's leadership. In 2017, more than 70 years after the world united to defeat fascism and white supremacy and oppression, actions like these are not condemned by the president. My grandfathers fought those Nazis, alongside the rest of the free world. It is up to every one of us -- whether we're white or persons of color; whether we're men, women, or non-binary; whether we're Christian or not; whether we're cis or straight or citizens or not -- to recognize that we're all human beings, and that we have every right to demand those same human rights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is what America is about.
Virginia, you have the most hateful state flag in the entire country. You changed it in 1861, after you seceded, to make it about murdering what you perceived as a tyrannical leader, in a Shakespearian scene. Four years later, theatre actor John Wilkes Booth did exactly this, acting out a scene from his favorite play in a way, murdering Lincoln the same way Brutus and Cassius murdered Caesar. Those three infamous words, sic semper tyrannis, are from Shakespeare, are emblazoned on the Virginia flag, and were shouted by Booth as he shot Lincoln in the head. We have a long heritage of hate, slavery, and murder in this country, and it is up to all of us to renounce rather than celebrate these awful parts of our nation's past. We are moving forward, and no amount of hatred or demonization or violence is going to solve any of our nation's problems. We will fight this hate with our words, with our bodies, and if necessary, with our lives. And in the end, just like always, hate will lose.
I had to say that. I cannot stand by and only talk about science when there are these other atrocities happening right here. It's time to make a difference. It's time to get involved. And it's time to speak out. Nazis cannot make us afraid, and everyone needs to know that all of America is united against this hate. Even if the President is silent about it.
With that said, let's get into the science. There's been a lot to explore, question, and go over, despite all the things we disagree with one another on. Thankfully, there are scientific truths that, whether we agree with one another or not, are all true nonetheless. (And thank you to those who left positive comments over the last week. I came, I saw, I appreciated!) Here are the six stories we've told that have given you plenty to think about over the past week:
- What's the quantum reason that sodium and water react? (for Ask Ethan),
- Wildfires are peaking as the solar eclipse nears; here's what you need to know (in lieu of Mostly Mute Monday),
- NASA's Planetary Protection Officer protects other worlds from Earth,
- Milky Way houses up to 100 million black holes, with big implications for LIGO,
- Humans can't tell legitimate science from junk science, and
- The comet that created the Perseids might bring an end to humanity.
I'll tell you all that there are at least three new podcasts coming out where I'm a guest -- all related to Treknology, as far as I know -- and for those of you who'll be down at Brooks Winery in Salem next Sunday and Monday for the total solar eclipse, I'll see you there! With all that said and done, let's get right into our comments of the week!
32 images of the 2016 eclipse were combined in order to produce this composite, showcasing not only the corona and the plasma loops above the photosphere with stars in the background, but also with the Moon's surface illuminated by Earthshine. Image credit: Don Sabers, Ron Royer, Miloslav Druckmuller.
From Michael Hutson on why eclipse science is still important: "Why is ground observation of total eclipses still so important when we have had manned and unmanned observation from orbit for decades?"
It's absolutely true that we have space-based observation of the Sun and its corona; we've used radio astronomy to measure the shifting positions of stars over the course of a year; we've used gravitational lenses to better test and constrain relativity; and it's things like stereographic satellite imagery and lunar laser ranging that have enabled us to determine the shape of the Moon's shadow on Earth. Yes, the vast majority of scientifically useful eclipse data is historic, from validating relativity to measuring the coronal temperature and nature to the discovery of plasma loops to coronal mass ejections.
But there are still things we can do from the ground that have advantages, particularly the ones that are Earth-related. The uninterrupted land mass that this eclipse will pass over allows for the opportunity to understand atmospheric and temperature changes, the relationship between the Moon's shadow and phenomena here on Earth's surface, and the short-term but continuous variation in the Sun's luminosity. Yes, we can do many things better from space, but we live here on Earth, and there's still more science to be done!
A room where the walls, even if completely covered with mirrors, would never have every location illuminated, was a mathematically interesting conjecture that was only solved recently. Image credit: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) / Numberphile / Brady Haran / Howard Masur.
From dean on how certain problems in math have incremental progress made towards them: "More directly, a slightly simpler version may be attacked first, with interest as much on the process used to solve it as the solution. As restrictions on the problem statement are weakened work (often) goes to modifying what worked earlier in hopes on the more general problem."
This is true, and is quite a precise and laudable statement. We do this in physics, too, except in physics we simplify deliberately. Think about what you'd need to know to successfully model a physical system accurately: the physical properties of all the particles in the Universe, relative to one another, their interrelationships and entanglements, and all the forces between them, as well as how it all evolves over time in a well-defined, relativistic and quantum context. Sounds like a tall order, doesn't it?
The big strength of physics is its ability to simplify. The strength of physicists is in modeling: in knowing how to chew on the meat and throw away the bones of the problem. If you can boil down a problem to its key essence and solve that simplified version, that's huge. If you could take the entire Universe and simulate all the physical interactions taking place, it would be interesting, too, but it would take a computer with the computing power of the entire Universe to do it, and it wouldn't teach you anything new. Relating equations, theories, and models to physical phenomena is where it's at.
The fabric of spacetime, illustrated, with ripples and deformations due to mass. A new theory must be more than identical to General Relativity; it must make novel, distinct predictions. Image credit: European Gravitational Observatory, Lionel BRET/EUROLIOS.
From CFT on a perceived weakness in relativity: "...there is no known solution to even TWO masses (much less more than two) in the same space time matrix. That’s not a little thing to gloss over like a minor typo."
Nope; it's a testament to how complicated and intricate a theory like General Relativity is. But just because we can model a system that is too difficult to solve exactly (or analytically) doesn't mean it's any less valid. Reread that last sentence a few times; if you can absorb the information in it, you'll understand why your argument for the "wrongness" of relativity (or the Navier-Stokes equation, or pretty much any complex physical system) holds no water.
Signs and protesters from the 2013 March Against Monsanto in Vancouver, BC. While there may be legitimate complaints over our modern agricultural system, GMOs are not the evil technology that people make them out to be. Image credit: Rosalee Yagihara of Wikimedia Commons.
From John on making a difference in science: "The subjective portion is deciding what parts of Science are “fringe”."
This is true, and I fully admit that I have my own opinions on that matter. I am aware that although there are objective criteria in there, all of the ones I use are not (and cannot be, by their nature) objective. The danger comes when we present a subjective criterion as an objective one, and that's something we're all at risk for. I hope you enjoyed my review of the Little Black Book of Junk Science, whose authors have a right-wing bias, but that doesn't make the science they present any less valid. It's important to consider views that challenge our own, otherwise we'll never learn anything new or be open to possibilities that are foreign to us.
In warm-weather years, which are statistically more likely with global warming, large, more powerful hurricanes, like 1985's Hurricane Elena, are more likely, but there will be fewer of them. Image credit: Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center.
From Paul Dekous on Hurricane Elena: "Damn, I thought you were using that Hurricane Elena image on top of the page to answer how ‘Black Holes’ at the center of large galaxies could be voids."
Nope, just to talk about hurricanes and other weather-based natural disasters. Black holes can't really be "voids" in any meaningful sense, but the similarities between an "eye" of a storm and the cloud bands and an event horizon of a black hole and its accretion disk can be visualized in an analogous fashion. I'd say that's fair!
The stars within and beyond the Pillars of Creation are revealed in the infrared. While Hubble extends its view out to 1.6 microns, more than twice the limit of visible light, James Webb will go out to 30 microns: nearly 20 times as far again. Image credit: NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team.
From Brian K. Grimm on why we can't all just get along: " I do not understand the type of people that can look at a suite of scientific data, then pull specific corner cases from that data and say ‘all these hundreds of other analyses can’t be right, because of this one.’ I don’t just see it in physics either. I see it in finance/economics, politics, history, and religious discussions. Why is it so hard to agree on what reality is?"
I'm not a psychologist, and I don't know that psychologists -- even the ones that study bias and the Culture Wars -- have the answer, so what you're getting from me is a guess. My guess is that, for some people, particularly when it comes to some topics, getting a specific answer or reaching a specific conclusion is more important than those other things. If it's part of your very identity that the world be flat, then your options are either to accept a round Earth and deny your core identity, or to hold onto your core identity and insist that the world is flat... and that's when the logical and rhetorical gymnastics enter.
Some people love that game: the arguing and the argument-crafting, but I'm not one of them. I'd rather just earnestly ask after the truth, find the best answers we can arrive at, and share those results. Those of you who find your core identity in disagreement with my own (or what you perceive my own to be) will find an avenue to attack that too, but don't worry. By this time next year, I'll be 40, which, according to Mike Gundy, means I'll be able to take the heat.
An artist's impression of the three LISA spacecraft shows that the ripples in space generated by longer-period gravitational wave sources should provide an interesting new window on the Universe. LISA was scrapped by NASA years ago, and will now be built by the European Space Agency, with only partial, supporting contributions from NASA. Image credit: EADS Astrium.
From Michael Mooney on the ridiculousness of relativity: "I pointed out how totally ridiculous that claim is."
Well, to someone who's unwilling to accept the Universe as it is, the Universe is ridiculous. Electricity is ridiculous; gravitation is ridiculous; motion is ridiculous; and just wait until you get to quantum physics. It is not up to the Universe to bow to your claims of what makes sense and what doesn't; the Universe does what it does and it's up to us to decode how that works, and what predictions we can make in a variety of physical scenarios. Relativity has been doing that, correctly, for over 100 years. You are an onlooker, pointing and laughing, all the while reaping the benefits of relativity. Try using a GPS device (if you can find one) that doesn't use relativity, and see how that works for you; you won't like it.
This artist’s impression shows the magnetar in the very rich and young star cluster Westerlund 1. Image credit: ESO / L. Calçada.
From eric on the "z" of a neutron star: "Unless that neutron star is in a *very* empty region of space, there will be a constant infallinng of particles. If the stuff falling in has protons (and it probably will), there will be some time required for those protons to be converted."
Oh, you don't need to go there! A neutron star only has about 90% of its mass in the form of neutrons; the outer 10% of its mass is more like a mix of protons, neutrons and even electrons. There ought to be atoms on a neutron star's surface. Without those charged particles, you'd never be able to get a magnetic field in your neutron star, and yet they have the strongest magnetic fields in the Universe! The question, though, is whether it's fair to consider the entire star as a single nucleus, or only a fraction of the core, and I think it's the latter. But I am uncertain that the matter has been scientifically settled.
The increased emission of greenhouse gases, notably CO2, can have a massive impact on Earth's climate in just a few hundred years. We're witnessing that happen today. Image credit: U.S. National Parks Service.
From Another Commenter on a challenge to the climate consensus: "Herer’s (sic) an interesting news item about of reliable the data is from the signatories to Paris Climate Accord.
That is interesting. What it says, for those who won't read it, is that a number of nations may be lying about what their actual emissions are versus their reported emissions. Veritas, my friends.
A remote camera captures a close-up view of a Space Shuttle Main Engine during a test firing at the John C. Stennis Space Center. Hydrogen is preferred as a fuel source in rockets due to its low molecular weight and the great abundance of oxygen in the atmosphere for it to react with. Image credit: NASA.
From Alan G. on calling out my rocket fuel caption: "The rocket engine photo caption is curious. Rocket engines don’t use atmospheric gaseous oxygen when running. They have to carry all of their own oxidizer with them also, along with their fuel."
I'm impressed at how diligent you were to catch this! Yes, in principle, there's a great abundance of oxygen in the atmosphere, and if you had O2 intake, you could react it with the hydrogen fuel inside.
But in practice, the act of taking in oxygen to react with the hydrogen will cost you more in terms of air resistance and the collisions of particles at those high relative speeds (plus your lack of ability to control the reaction rate as you went to low-oxygen elevations) means that it's better to bring your oxygen liquid fuel with you, too. Well spotted, and thanks for coaxing me to go the extra mile!
A plume of smoke from wildfires burning rises over Fort McMurray in this aerial photograph taken in Alberta, Canada. The entire Pacific Northwest region of North America is suffering from severe wildfires, and the season hasn't even peaked yet. Image credit: Darryl Dyck/Bloomberg.
From PJ on wildfires in Oregon: "Would need to get the good words of warning out to the general public and overseas travelers who may not be aware of the local conditions."
Between the fires, the unpredictable winds, and cloud cover -- including the haze cover from smoke in the copious Canada wildfires -- a great many locations in the three westernmost states to see the 2017 eclipse will be at risk of having the Sun obscured during totality. Going to the coast may not solve the issue, either. Like over a million others, I'll be rolling the dice a week from Monday!
Relic microbes revealed by a scanning electron microscope in the ALH84001 meteorite, which originated on Mars. It is unknown whether the microbes are of Martian origin or not. Image credit: NASA, 1996.
From jvj on wanting to be NASA's planetary protection officer: "I’m perfect for the job. Have seen all the Star Trek TV shows & movies. I enjoy giving orders to menials. Our motto: “We come in Peace.” We can enslave any life forms we find & dig up all the diamonds & gold & drill for oil everywhere on each planet we take over."
The great danger of contamination is a real one, and it may have already taken place naturally. Do you see this image above? That's a fragment of a meteor that came from Mars, but it was found on Earth. When you get a massive impact from space on a rocky world -- planet, asteroid, moon, or Kuiper belt object -- it kicks up debris that can sometimes go back into space and travel to another world. If we find Mars rocks on Earth, does it not stand to reason that Earth rocks made their way to other worlds in the Solar System, too?
It's worth thinking about, because despite our best efforts to decontaminate our spacecraft before we send them out exploring (and we may have failed at that with our earlier missions to Mars, for example), it may already be too late.
Correctly calibrated satellite data, as well as the more recent temperature data up through 2016, shows that climate predictions and observations are perfectly in line with one another. Image credit: HadCRUT4.5, Cowtan & Way, NASA GISTEMP, NOAA GlobalTemp, BEST, via Ed Hawkins at Climate Lab Book.
From Denier on a nice try: "First of all, you should at least be honest about what you are trying to do. You are trying to de-platform scientific evidence that fails your personal political litmus test. It has nothing to do with ‘good’ science. Santer (2017) is good science. Nature thinks so. You summarily dismissed it without reason. You simply didn’t like what it said. It didn’t support your political narrative so you wished it into the corn field."
It is a nice try. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the argument you made, because it's a well-crafted narrative and it's very compelling. And yes, I agree that Santer et al. (2017) is good science; Santer is one of the top scientists in the field of climate science. But, as always, what I've urged you to do in climate arguments is to be quantitative. Yes, the paper itself says that near-term, recent warming has been overestimated, elucidated why, and quantified by how much. It seems we're in agreement there.
So tell me, then, how much has the warming been overestimated by the models? What percentage of the models overestimated the warming, before the Santer paper came out? (Hint: it's less than the 95% that Heartland and UAH claimed, which is a claim that you defended, and which is data that you referenced, repeatedly, claimed was accurate, and never backed down from.) How well do the models do now that they have this improvement?
Yes, I didn't address it, because it was a small contribution that has only mild relevance to a much larger story. You are crafting a narrative of "Ethan is dismissing evidence because he doesn't like what it says" when in fact that is what I have witnessed not only you but literally everyone saying the same things as you doing for more than two decades now. (History tells me it may be longer than that, but I wasn't really aware of the basic scientific story until the mid-1990s.) This is the Trump strategy -- accuse your opponents of doing the exact thing you're guilty of -- and it worked for him. You add in the strategy of "focusing on the one factual detail where you are correct, exaggerate its importance, and try to derail the rest of the argument."
I feel like Daffy Duck in this situation. You know those old Warner Bros. cartoons with Bugs, Daffy, and Elmer Fudd? Elmer Fudd is not only unable to control the situation, but he's unable to comprehend it, and always comes out on the losing side. Bugs understands the situation, and is able to manipulate the situation to his advantage; he controls it. Daffy is a tragicomic figure, though, who understands the situation but finds himself unable to control it, even though he sees how Bugs is manipulating it and hates the unfairness of it all. Who knows? You're fighting your battle in the court of public opinion, and you're a lawyer. Maybe it'll work for you, too?
But irrespective of that, I will give you mad props for reading Gavin Schmidt and Ben Santer; their work is top notch. You and I may always disagree on policy, but if you're reading their work, we may someday wind up agreeing on the facts.
This illustration of a black hole, surrounded by X-ray emitting gas, showcases one of the major ways black holes are identified and found. Based on recent research, there may be as many as 100 million black holes in the Milky Way galaxy alone. Image credit: ESA.
From Omega Centauri on black holes in the Milky Way: "Those are remarkably large numbers. I would think the dwarf galaxies would resemble (in terms of metalicity and BH mass spectrum), the early larger galaxies. In the later category, have enough non-so-low metalicity stars formed to overwhelm the initial distribution?"
That's part of what's so exciting; dwarf galaxies aren't similar to the Milky Way. Bigger galaxies have:
- larger gas fractions (because the gas doesn't get ejected during star formation),
- more generations of stars (because of more major and minor mergers),
- higher mass stars (because of more mass available, on average),
- but higher metallicity (because of more generations and more mass),
- so their high-mass stars shed more mass during their lives,
leading to smaller but far more numerous black holes. There are, if you're curious, about ten times as many neutron stars as black holes in each galaxy.
From Christopher Winter on Junk Science and ideology: "Having read Science Left Behind, of which Alex [Berezow] is co-author with Hank Campbell, I would be very reluctant to put credence in this book. The negative review on Amazon calls it “A pseudoscientific attempt to debunk pseudoscience.” That’s about what I’d expect."
People with different ideologies than you will, in fact, take the same facts, the same data, and pick out different points to highlight that are still true. That's what I saw in Science Left Behind, and also what I saw in the Little Black Book of Junk Science. Yes, not all of their contentions are the full story; for example, Agent Orange and DDT are dangerous, but not for the reasons that many (on the left!) claim they are. Organic food may represent one step towards more sustainable agricultural practices, but it's also a flawed and limited scheme with what it can accomplish. (And yes, many of its effects are negative.)
There's a lot to think about, and listening to someone who challenges the way you think has a lot to say for it. But I'm happy to share your thoughtful review; personally I agree with you about much of what's in there, particularly about false equivalence.
From Anonymous Coward on the banana-radioactivity scale: "A single banana is slightly radioactive due to the presence of radioactive Potassium-40. As Sinisa Lazarek points out, an x-ray scanner’s intensity is around 0.1 µSv, which is roughly the same amount of radiation exposure as you would get from eating a single banana."
Looks like I need to start eating bigger bananas if I want to take that trip to Iran!
And finally, from Denier on cometary orbits: "The thing that amazes me is that an impact is possible at all. The solar system is 5 billions years old. Swift-Tuttle has had to make this loop hundreds of millions of times."
This is actually a lot more fun than that; the data tells us the Swift-Tuttle is young as a comet! Remember when, a couple of years ago, we got the "Camelopardalids" for the first time? These gravitational interactions in the outer solar system (or the asteroid belt) happen relatively frequently, and comets don't last long. Swift-Tuttle has likely been doing its dance for thousands of years, but probably not more than tens of thousands. And after the 4479 interaction, we can't predict its motion well at all! That's why it may get ejected, it may get hurled into the Sun, but it may (less likely, but still possible) collide with Earth. 1-in-a-million odds aren't very high, but when you're talking about human extinction, I'd be a lot happier with lower odds for sure!
If we get that long-term asteroid deflection program up and running, maybe giving Swift-Tuttle a nudge in the "get away from Earth" direction might not be the worst idea!
Thanks for a great week, folks, and see you back here for more science starting tomorrow!
On the banana thing and airport x-ray scanners, an issue is not the total dose but the distribution. TSA seems to divide by the whole body, but the dose is concentrated at the skin so the dose there is many times higher. Its probably still low and not to be worried about. Maybe, as Ethan posted about radiation on Mars, the scanners will improve our radiation tolerance!
From Michael Mooney on the ridiculousness of relativity: “I pointed out how totally ridiculous that claim is.”
I pointed out to Sean T. that his claim that a fast flying observer can change the spin and orbit of Earth "like any other clock" is ridiculous. Your original reply defended his claim and then went on an irrelevant rant.
"Well, to someone who’s unwilling to accept the Universe as it is, the Universe is ridiculous."
The universe as it is remains unaffected by differences in observational perspectives. It has been in existence over 13 billion years before the advent of the philosophy, as you stated it, that its properties "all depends on whom you ask."
Then you go on a rant about ridiculous.things, which don't "bow to your claims of what makes sense and what doesn’t"
Yet you refuse to disambiguate the difference between apparent and physical length contraction. (Long trains in short tunnels, flattened Earth, shortened distances between stars, muons' frames of reference making our atmosphere thinner, etc.)
And you repeat the standard malleable- properties- of - "spacetime" doctrine one week and call in "nothingness itself" elsewhere.
" Try using a GPS device (if you can find one) that doesn’t use relativity, and see how that works for you; you won’t like it."
Strawman! Everyone knows that clocks keep time differently after acceleration to different velocities or at different altitudes. Insisting that clocks measure a variable entity "time" (half of "spacetime") is what I and many others criticize.
You are very dishonest and self serving in defense of your worldview, the universe according to Ethan the instrumentalist, while disavowing that as a "belief."
What percentage of the models overestimated the warming, before the Santer paper came out? (Hint: it’s less than the 95% that Heartland and UAH claimed, which is a claim that you defended, and which is data that you referenced, repeatedly, claimed was accurate, and never backed down from.)
No Ethan. I didn’t defend it because I recognized it for the Strawman that it was. As you well know because it was you who cut the quote in three parts, omitted the middle, and presented it out of context to make it imply something that it did not. Heartland, who I honestly have no use for, quoted Roy Spencer who in 2014 said “greater than 95 percent of the climate models through 2013 over-forecast the warming trend since 1979”.
You cut the middle part containing the “through 2013” limitation out to falsely imply that both Heartland AND Dr. Roy Spencer were claiming 95% of present day models were over-forecasting warming relative to observations. With your Strawman set in place, you then falsified it with the 2016-2017 El Nino temperature spike.
If you’re asking me if I’ll agree with your statement of ‘ less than 95% of models were out of bounds in 2017 when Santer released his study on climate model accuracy’, the answer is yes. It was less than 95% failure in 2017. You are safe to beat on that strawman to your heart’s content without my objection.
The boiled down core of what I’m driving at is I felt you wanted a win so bad that you decided hitting below the belt was justified. It wasn’t just Spencer making that observation about 2013. Schmidt(2014) noted it, and it is even reflected in the Climate Lab Book alteration of the IPCC AR5 graph you posted in the article. Heartland made a cherry-picked but accurate statement, and rather than calling it out for what it was, you straw-manned them and made your own counter-factual statement that was not supported by the best science we have on the subject.
A little lower in the article, Heartland did the same thing with a statistical decline in the strength of hurricanes making landfall in the US. 100% Accurate –and- 100% cherry picked. There again you failed to call it out for what it was and went with the cheap Ad Hominem about how the scientist citing the true statistic was biologically related to someone at Heartland.
There is so much good science to support your viewpoint that you don’t need to stoop to these tactics. You don’t need to Straw-man. You don’t need to deny good science. You don’t need to resort to Ad Hominem attacks. I was disappointed in your tactics and felt they were beneath you. That uncharacteristic behavior combined with your talk of de-platforming certain ideas made me think we were losing you to tribalism.
One quick final note that has nothing to do with anything really: I’m not a lawyer. I do have direct experience with civil litigation but I can see that has been misinterpreted. That said, on to other science.
“I hope you enjoyed my review of the Little Black Book of Junk Science, …”
I did, very much, and thanks again!
“… whose authors have a right-wing bias, but that doesn’t make the science they present any less valid. “
That is true.
“It’s important to consider views that challenge our own, otherwise we’ll never learn anything new or be open to possibilities that are foreign to us.”
I couldn’t agree with you more, and I hope everyone here reflects upon this concept and acts accordingly.
And in the end, just like always, hate will lose.
Hate will lose???
Perhaps you should try glancing towards the other side of the crumbling American Empire’s borders, now and then. The news sources you trust appear to be doing a very poor job.
Tossing such pablum of in the direction of the near nonexistent Jewish communities, the disappearing Christian, Buddhist, Jainist and Zoroastrian communities in the Islamic controlled world would be good for provoking a bitter laugh, if nothing else.
If you guys want to slay the giant monster of Relativity, using a horse and spear wont help I'm afraid.
But there is still hope:
Each one of you just get close to a LIGO facility as much as you can. Wait until a chosen time and start jumping! :-)
Denier, #3: " You don’t need to resort to Ad Hominem attacks."
I can relate, no "friendship" intended. And he sets the tone for that among his dedicated followers ( or fellow believers in Einstein's philosophy anyway.)
I may be banned (et again) for my criticism. I've been very direct in that recently, and he does eliminate his opposition like all biased scientists who run a blog... but i don't care,
As I said, I am committed to the ideal of seeking truth in science and being honest, without bias, in reporting the results of each experimental investigation... according to the empirical evidence... Not based on subjective bias or theoretical "prophecy fulfillment" (selective interpretation), if that was not clear enough.
@Alan L. wrote:
Tossing such pablum of in the direction of the near nonexistent Jewish communities, the disappearing Christian, Buddhist, Jainist and Zoroastrian communities in the Islamic controlled world would be good for provoking a bitter laugh, if nothing else.
Are you equating Islam with Hate?
"We live in a country where a black man will be criticized and even blacklisted from his job for taking a knee during the national anthem"
We live in a country where a white man gets fired from his job (at Google) for free speech..
So what's with all the righteous indignation?
Well, with the NFL and Google it's really about MONEY.
Google's old motto was "Don't be Evil".
Now the parent company Alphabet has changed it to "Do The Right Thing"
This shows an extreme lack of wisdom because the former is birthed out of the latter.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.Hitler thought he was doing the right thing.
The flaw here is the thinking that evil is something external to the human and not internal to his nature.
Do the right thing now from Googles point of view is squashing free speech in the name of diversity.
How perverse is that form of logic? Diversity has become Perversity and has blinded their culture unable to see it.
Ethan, you are also falling victim to your own narcissism
when you set out satisfying your own righteous indignation with "hate will lose." and "I cannot stand by...."
How do you know what is good with out there being a bad?
You can't have one without the other, The whole Ying/Yang thingy..
Or rather in a concept you can relate,
If Ethan get's his way, there will be no antiparticles, only particles.no antimatter only matter. And that's the matter with this whole paradox called life..
If you trying to imply evil always necessary to provide balance against good, I would disagree. A world w/o any kind of evil would be the perfect world to live inside.
Sooo, Ethan trashes my state flag, Our country's elected president, and wants to lecture us all about evil from his PC pulpit while showing the monocultural limitations of his knowledge about the civil war.
You must have flunked American history Ethan. Please try to dig a little deeper into actual historical context and causes.
" We have a long heritage of hate, slavery, and murder in this country, and it is up to all of us to renounce rather than celebrate these awful parts of our nation’s past."
History is not whitewashing the past the way you do for PR science. For history to work, it has to include the good and the bad, to keep perspective. Isn't that the entire idea of remembering the holocaust? Would you prefer Germany to expunge all historical evidence of whatever past offends their current sensibilities? Should modern day Egypt raze the pyramids because they were built with slave labor and offends the present religious beliefs? I would hope not.
Ethan, child, would you by any chance know of ANY country which does not have an even longer list of such transgressions in their history? America is relatively young, want to stack our historical record up against anyone else's? England perhaps? Nope. Germany, NEIN!, Spain? Nope nada. Holland? Are you kidding? France? Non. Italy? sheesh. Greece? yeah right. Anywhere in Africa...? Hah! India, Russia, China, Japan, Egypt, even Israel, oh hell, I'm running out of places on the damn globe. If any country has been around longer than fifteen minutes, their sheets aren't exactly clean. Please come down from your lofty ivory tower of ideological purity and context free virtue signaling.
History is the memory of humankind. I don't think anybody arguing that bad parts of history should be erased and forgotten. Because obviously any forgotten lesson would create a risk of repeat.
Also I don't think anybody really claims one country is worse than any other either.
I think guessing like many people I have many memories of different kinds of pain, which was felt at different times over my life. But would I want any of those memories deleted from my mind? Absolutely not.
But what if a person has some really bad memories and there is no risk of repeat, if those memories are erased?
I think being a person with missing memories would be being an incomplete person, in a way. So it should be avoided, even if we have tech someday to erase any of our memories, unless it seems like the last option to fix a mental problem of somebody.
Of course I meant even to fix a mental problem, erase of any memory would require fully valid medical reason and consent.
I want to go a little out of subject here if anyone don't mind:
I had said "would require fully valid medical reason and consent".
Is this really an obviously moral guidance principle to whether apply a medical procedure to a person or not?
What if we apply it to North Korea situation currently going forward?
I think it maybe argued that there is enough medical reason to apply a procedure but obviously there is no consent.
(Let's go more out of subject if it is still okay:
If North Korea is offered a deal like, give up your nuke and long range missile programs and we take away your trade restrictions and leave you alone?)
If you want to watch a movie that talks about selective memory editing, checkout "Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind".
Memory editing is a bad idea even when treated as comedy, bordering on evil looking for an excuse to happen. How would you even know you had given consent when your very memory of such an even is entirely questionable? (The movie 'Payday' revolves around this premise). Much like a sweater, you start cutting and pulling at memories and everything begins to unravel. The Development of the technology of selective memory alteration is an even worse idea when combined with a government who would use such a thing, as they could also generate false memories to control entire populations. Memory is who you are. The movie "A Clockwork Orange" is about what happens when a progressively enlightened government decides to play god with altering personal memory, behavior, and identity for 'the betterment of society'.
"A world w/o any kind of evil would be the perfect world to live inside."
Are you aware of there ever having been a human society without evil?
Are you equating Islam with Hate?
Did I say that?
I have read most of the koran, the 200+ verses of abrogation (plus all abrogated verses), many of the canonical hadiths (Bukhari, et al), and much of : The Reliance of the Traveller.
Frank, ragtag cited evil because he is an evil man: racist, misogynistic, and bigoted.
@CFT #12, I second what you said about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The film is about a couple (played by Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet) who have their memories of their failed relationship wiped. At the end of the film, they start dating again.
I understand your frustration and feeling of powerlessness in the face of hatred and bigotry.
But this is not the forum. Keep this a science blog, please, so i don't have to troll through all these folks e-shouting at each other.
There are plenty of political blogs and societies you could get involved with, political groups, action movements etc if you really want to get involved - and you will be more effective there - you can do so much more than rhetoric.
Starts with a Bang is one of my favorite blogs. Please please keep it hardcore science - that is where your skill and training is.
The question, though, is whether it’s fair to consider the entire star as a single nucleus, or only a fraction of the core, and I think it’s the latter. But I am uncertain that the matter has been scientifically settled.
Ah. I was considering everything in the solid mass to be part of the star. I agree the core won't have protons. But an argument for my position: if for atomic number you're only going to count the core and not the surface, then when it comes to charge and magnetic field you should only count the core and not the surface too, right? Otherwise you're arriving at your conclusion that a neutron star has a magnetic field but Z=0 only by flipping back and forth between two different definitions of "neutron star" - one that only counts the core, and one that includes the surface.
So I'd say that if we're going to use a consistent definition of neutron star, then it has a Z>0 and a magnetic field (if the definition includes the "impure" surface), or it has neither (if the definition does not include the surface).
Ah, and my use of the word "solid" is probably misplaced. Suffice to say I was counting the outer layer Ethan wasn't counting. :)
Absolutely correct. Scientists, a kind of people who are smart and educated, should leave politics to others. Because obviously others are more qualified. :-)
Junk Science book truly is JUNK!
Ive been telling everyone that this book taught me that hexavalent chromium isn't cancerous, or causes other disease, and that the Erin Brockervich lawsuit was misguided. When I click the link from the book it doesn't work (quack watch says it doesn't exist.
So again i have to verify.
There was a paper linking HC to cancer - a few years later a follow-up paper said it didn't, but was retracted.
Check out wiki
"In July 2014 California became the first state to acknowledge that ingested chromium-6 is linked to cancer and as a result has established a maximum Chromium-6 contaminant level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb).  "
Now I don't trust a darned thing in this little black book!!!
I swore I would be done with you, but you continue to repeat the same garbage. I NEVER said that any traveler would change the rotation of the earth or its revolution. I did say, and quite correctly, that a traveler moving at near light speed relative to the earth would give a VERY different value for the periods of the earth's rotation and revolution. You measure the period of the rotation as 24 hours, for instance. A traveler moving at sufficiently high velocity might measure that same period at say 120 hours.
Now, two questions: who's right, and why is the person who's right actually correct? You could very well claim that you are measuring the period correctly because you're not moving relative to the earth. That's fine; what you measure is in fact known as a proper time. Despite the perhaps unfortunate name, this does not indicate that your measurement is right and anyone else's is not. Our traveler is equally right; the measurement is of a quantity that is relative, not absolute. As has been repeatedly pointed out to you and you've agreed to, were we measuring velocities instead of times, you'd have no problem with the idea that both observers are right.
Maybe this will help. If one is speeding in a rocket ship past the earth, you would claim that they are moving and you are not. That claim does not stand up to scientific scrutiny, however. There is no experiment you can do that shows that you are stationary and the person in the rocket is not. The physics is perfectly consistent with a description where the person in the rocket is stationary and all other bodies in the universe are moving. You shouldn't object to this; you've already agreed that velocity is relative. The rocket ship traveler is indeed stationary in his reference frame.
It becomes less clear if instead of a rocket ship, the observer is on another planet and is somehow measuring the earth's rotational period. Assuming a large enough relative velocity, his measurement will disagree with yours. How do you now claim that he's "really" moving and you are not? Why is the earth special? Why is it not the rotational period of that other observer that is the "real" time standard rather than that of the earth? Note that the situation regarding that other planet's rotational period is symmetrical; if the other observer measures a period of 10 hours, you will measure 50. Are you now saying that your time measurement is correct and his is wrong?
Oh now I see whats going on.
Any link in the book that is broken uo (by the next line) doesn't work because of the line break - you have to copy and paste.
A little more on the stupidity of defending the stuff that the men's rights loon Damore put in his "manifesto".
Sean T.: " I NEVER said that any traveler would change the rotation of the earth or its revolution."
So you can't even remember your own bogus claims.
Sean T., Week 170, #56:
" The earth’s rotation and the earth’s revolution around the sun both qualify as clocks. They also are both affected by the motion of the observer, just like any other clock."
Also: " If one is speeding in a rocket ship past the earth, you would claim that they are moving and you are not."
Don't put words in my mouth. I have always agreed that velocity is relative.
And, regarding spin and rotation of planets as standardized clocks, I have said that other worlds will have their own time standards based on their own spin and orbit.
Let's get down to the basics of criticism of relativity. Do you agree or not with my recent statement, addressed to Ethan:
The universe as it is remains unaffected by differences in observational perspectives. It has been in existence over 13 billion years before the advent of the philosophy, as you stated it, that its properties “all depends on whom you ask.”
Is that "garbage?" If so, PLEASE "be done with me!
Evil people often draw attention to themselves by the abuse they heap on others.
@dean#20, you forgot homophobic.
And to that a larger point, I really don't care for the gay pride fag parades but I don't go to protest them and cause trouble because I think they have a right to march for their perverted cause provided they have a legal permit and follow the rules of decorum.
Just as the white nationalist, black nationalist, Hispanic nationalist ect.. Has the same right to have their march or parade or what ever provided they follow the proper protocol of public assembly prescribed by law.
People should check their emotions at the door when it comes to free speech and the right to assembly.
@26 Steve Blackband
You wrote: "Ive been telling everyone that this book taught me that hexavalent chromium isn’t cancerous"
I explained in my book: "If inhaled, chromium-6 can cause lung cancer, but there is no reason it causes cancer when ingested."
Steve, I'm going to be as magnanimous as I can be: You have a problem with reading comprehension. Or you have a very bad memory. Because the only other alternative is that you're lying about what I wrote.
"People should check their emotions at the door when it comes to free speech …"
People should consider other people's emotions when it comes to free speech. What you say can resonate and fire people up, with the intent to …
@dean #29 and Ethan
Pretty good ongoing compilation of research here with regards to the male/female difference that impact the whole STEM debate:
Yes MM, the TIME that someone in relative motion with respect to the earth would measure based on the earth's rotation or revolution is indeed affected. The TIME measured by you as you sit stationary with respect to the earth is not affected by the motion of the observer. The rotation, angular momentum, energy, etc. measured by you is not affected. The moving observer might well measure different values for these quantities however.
How much kinetic energy does a baseball have if you are just sitting next to it? Answer - zero. How much kinetic energy does that same baseball have if I am driving toward it in my car at 80 mph? Quite a lot, as I would find out if I drove into it and it broke my windshield. How can I affect the energy of that baseball just by driving toward it? I can do it because kinetic energy is a relative quantity. That is the same as time.
As I've gone back and forth with you, I have realized that you seem to agree totally with the observations of relativity. SR does NOT state that time slows down or that lengths contract. It states what will be observed when moving observers make measurements of lengths and times. Observers in motion with respect to the event whose duration they are measuring will measure longer times than observers stationary with respect to the same event. Observers in motion with respect to a body whose length is being measured will measure that length to have a lower value than a stationary observer measuring the same length. That's the content of SR.
The simplest interpretation of these statements is that time actually is slower for moving observers and that lengths actually do contract for moving observers. If you maintain an alternate interpretation, then it is incumbent on you to explain why ALL clocks (including the rotation and revolution of the earth) are affected by the motion of the clock. You must also explain why ANY length measuring device is also so affected. It's not impossible to come up with such explanations, but the simpler explanation is that time and length change with motion. That way we don't have to explain how clocks and length measuring devices are affected by motion; they are not so affected.
If you want to continue to maintain an alternate interpretation, fine. From a scientific point of view, I cannot claim that you are wrong, so long as your interpretation leads to the same experimental results. You still haven't answered the fundamental question though. How do you know that your measurements are correct and those of someone on another planet travelling at a high speed toward (or away) from earth are wrong? What's so special about your measurements that they are absolutely correct and all others are wrong?
History revolves around inflammatory speech that 'fires people up', for good or bad. Consider: The Declaration of Independence was pretty inflammatory language in King George's opinion, as it amounted to what he considered his personal property giving him the middle finger.
Good to hear from you!
I explained in my book: “If inhaled, chromium-6 can cause lung cancer, but there is no reason it causes cancer when ingested.”
The 1987 paper by Zhang and Li was on chromium solution in soil and water. I haven't read their original paper (my Chinese sucks) but last I heard soil and water are usually ingested, not inhaled. Their supposed 1997 paper contradicting that claim was retracted since it was not written by them, but by a science-for-hire consulting firm.This is all I have from the link below:-
"....an earlier study by Zhang that found a significant association between chromium pollution of drinking water and higher rates of stomach cancer in villages in rural northeast China.".
It says stomach cancer.
If you have something to add i will be glad to hear it, and will of course apologies if I have been wrong, or at least misled by the inter web. It happens. A lot!!.
Steve, I’m going to be as magnanimous as I can be: You have a problem with reading comprehension. Or you have a very bad memory. Because the only other alternative is that you’re lying about what I wrote.
I do have a bad memory - how did you know?!
I dont (well, try not to) lie. You wrote, and this is copy and pasted
"If inhaled, chromium-6 can cause lung cancer, but there is no reason it causes cancer when ingested."
Wheres my lie?
Please sir, we are scientists. Keep this discussion to science and not insults and lets have a respectful, scientific, discussion.
Reading some of your other, mostly excellent works, i think you can do MUCH better than this little black book and I challenge you to do so. You are in the right place and have the background and expertise.
I will respond to your other comments on Ethans other post line soon.
Sean T.. #36: " SR does NOT state that time slows down or that lengths contract."
SR does in fact claim that time "dilates" (slows down) and that lengths contract (too many examples to mention in a short reply.)
You are wasting my time. Enough. I am "done with you."
You are too dense to realize that I'm actually trying to somewhat agree with you. SR does NOT state that time dilates. SR states that an observer moving with velocity v relative to an event will measure the duration of that event to be t/sqrt(1-v^2/c^2), where t is the duration of the event measured by an observer stationary relative to it. That is the only mathematical content of SR. The notion that "time dilates" is the accepted standard interpretation of this phenomenon. It is so accepted for the very reasons I have outlined earlier, namely that this interpretation does not require an explanation of how each of the many possible types of clock is affected by the motion of the clock.
So long as you are okay with the notion that an observer moving toward the earth at speed v will measure the length of the earth's day as 24/sqrt(1-v^2/c^2) hours, then you are in agreement with relativity and your interpretation is your own. If your interpretation agrees with experimental evidence, then on a scientific basis, it can't be questioned. However, on the basis of simplicity it can. How does the motion of any type of clock affect its reading? How do you know which measurement is correct, since your interpretation is that there is one correct measurement and many differences that are only apparent?
To get more deeply into the last point, you have proposed the earth's motions to be a time standard. Suppose there is an alien on a planet rushing toward the earth. He picks out a point on the earth's surface and starts his clock. He stops the clock when he sees this same point on the earth's surface appear at the same position in his sky. His clock reads 12 hours between these events. Your clock, if you measure the same duration, reads 24 hours. Now, assume you do the same for his planet. You find that 15 hours pass between the time that the same spot on his planet appears at the same place twice. He measures his planet's rotational period at 30 hours.
Who's right? You have already agreed that these are in fact (given the right velocities) the measurements that the observers would make. You only disagree with the mainstream scientific view in the sense that you call some of these measurement "real" and some "apparent". How do you distinguish? Without too much risk of putting words into your mouth, I would assume that the 24 hours measured by you for the earth's rotational period would be classified as "real" and the 12 hours measured by the alien would be "apparent", but how do you classify the measurements of the alien's planet, and more importantly, on what basis do you make that classification?
@ Sean T
Distance also seems to comes into play changing the angle of time, Funny, I was just watching a NOVA video on this with an Alien.
Check out the the way individuals "now" time is sliced depending on the direction towards or away from:
Starts @ about the 23:30 mark
@Ragtag Media #40: That's just the usual Minkowski spacetime diagram. If you compress spacetime to two dimensions (x and t), then the Poincare transformation (x,t) -> (x',t') is equivalent to placing the x' and t' axes both in quadrant 1, and each at the same angle with respect to their unrotated x and t axes.
That angle is given by arctan(gamma)/2, where gamma is the Lorentz boost factor. At rest (gamma=0), the angle is zero, and just as you'd expect, (x',t') is coincident with (x,t). At the speed of light (gamma=infinity), and both the x' and t' axes collapse along the 45-degree line (i.e., the light cone).
This simple geometry makes it really easy to visually and diagrammatically work out different "moving observer" situations in relativity. An "event" is some specific point in spacetime, and that point (a "dot" on your page) is independent of which coordinate system you look at. So by drawing the rotated axes and their parallels, you can work out the (x',t') coordinates in the moving frame for any event in the (x,t) rest frame. Work with multiple dots (events) that way, and you can see visually how simultaneity, and time ordering of separated events depends on the observer's motion.
Concept of "now" being relative implies unchanging 4D "Block Universe" (so future is predictable) and it comes from Relativity. But QM says the opposite (future is unpredictable (only there is a certain probability for any future event)).
As we look at the Universe/reality starting at microscale (particle size) and go to macroscale, future events become more and more certain. For example, think of how certain things you plan to do tomorrow: Can't we say they are not perfectly certain but close? But also think of how certain motion of Earth in its orbit tomorrow. Isn't it much more certain (but still not perfectly certain)?
Future being unpredictable in microscale and later becoming more and more predictable at higher and higher scales also happens in Cellular Automata (which used for fluid simulation).
I think one clear implication of future becoming more and more predictable at higher and higher scales is that, time must be an emergent property. Which in turn implies spacetime must be an emergent property. Which in turn implies Relativity must be an emergent property.
I think I had read somewhere that equations of GR is similar to equations of some kind of (non-viscous?) fluid. If so it would make sense considering Cellular Automata used for fluid simulation shows similar behavior to GR.
Other than the fact that we have a word for event duration (time) as things move through space ("It takes time")... and the fact that timekeeping instruments slow down after exposure to the force of acceleration to higher speeds (or exposure to more powerful gravity fields)... what is time?
A 4-D block universe in which past , present and future all exist now in the "timescape" of "spacetime?? So now science fiction puts on the robes of real science, and "opens up the possibilities" of visiting living dinosaurs and thriving human colonies on other planets. Just orbit a black hole for awhile as your clock slows way down and then pretend your visiting the future when you come back to whatever civilization.
The past is dead and gone. The future isn't here/now yet. The present is perpetually now, everywhere. Just a reality check for those not in awe of the credentials and beliefs of those in the NOVA video above.
A master clock on the equator at sea level would standardize "time" on Earth better than the present system.
The US Naval Observatory Master Clock in Georgetown WA DC requires the addition of a "leap second" every so often to keep in synch with the changing rotation time of Earth due to gravitational drag from the Moon. Why not standardize the gravitational influence of altitude and surface velocity too?
Still, Earth's rotation and orbit define the true day and year... not extremely variable clocks in various force fields (acceleration and gravity.)
If you are traveling to the Alpha Centauri system on a very fast ship and your clock slows down, check the orbits of Earth for how many years have passed for the trip. It still takes that starlight 4.2 years to reach Earth, and no ship can reach lighspeed.
Just another reality check for believers in length contraction (the star gets closer too, they say!) and" time dilation."
Then what's "Space Time"?
No two observers see the same experience so who is correct?
Space time intervals have a positive, neutral (0) and a negative.
I just came across a part of an article from Scientific American September 2015 that says something very similar to what I had said about nature of time:
"Whenever people talk about a dichotomy, though, they usu-
ally aim to expose it as false. Indeed, many philosophers think it is meaningless to say whether the universe is deterministic or indeterministic. It can be either, depending on how big or complex your object of study is: particles, atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, minds, communities. “The distinction between determinism and indeterminism is a level-specific distinction,” says Christian List, a philosopher at the London School of Economics
and Political Science. “If you have determinism at one particular level, it is fully compatible with indeterminism, both at higher levels and at lower levels.” The atoms in our brain can behave in a completely deterministic way while still giving us freedom of action because atoms and agency operate on different levels. Likewise, Einstein sought a deterministic subquantum level without denying that the quantum level was probabilistic."
Objective science is not based on differences in subjective experience. That is all about the philosophy, "It depends on whom you ask,"... relativity.
Check out Ethan's post from last January, "What is spacetime?" Also see my challenge and his reply.
The "weaving together" of space and time was Minkowski's invention, which Einstein adopted to replace gravity as a force acting at a distance.
Now the "spacetime interval" is "like a loaf of bread." It all depends on who is slicing it, at what angle and from what frame of reference. No "real world" aka objective cosmos.
Here is a link to a scholarly paper on the ontology of non-Euclidean geometry and the history of its conceptual development. (Way over most folks heads.)
Great points Frank, thanks for adding to the discussion..Also,
All you do is bitch about what is 'real' when you know well enough that you can put different measurements on what's real depending from your POV. You have even acknowledged it regarding speed. Please stop whining.