Saturday, December 31, 2011

Physics Throws New Doubt on CERN's Superluminal Neutrinos

From today's Science News Online, a few top-notch physicists, in two independent studies, have raised doubt (if not actually yelling "NO, YOU'RE WRONG"!!) about the CERN OPERA results that reported faster than light speed neutrinos. In the December 06 issues of Physical Review Letters, Xiaojun Bi, a particle astrophysicist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing, cries foul. Not only would superluminal particles slap Einstein in the face, they would also break the sacred Laws of Conservation of Energy and Momentum. Direct link to APS article. Membership required. Direct link to Cornell Archives PDF - FREE.

See, the CERN neutrinos had parents. Like most of us, these were unstable parents. However, unlike my dysfunctional Mother, the neutrinos from CERN were born from unstable pions. Turns out, these pions had an energy of about 3.5 times that of the resulting daughter neutrinos they decayed into. The energy and momentum laws dictate the resulting particles had to have subluminal (slower than light) speeds. This was reported by physicist Ramanath Cowsik of Washington University in St. Louis and colleagues in the Dec. 16 Physical Review Letters. Direct link to Cornell Archive PDF - FREE.

So, what does this all mean? "Achieving the mind-boggling velocities measured by OPERA would have required pions with energies 20 times greater than their offspring, Cowsik’s team calculates. At such energies, though, the lifetimes of pions would be six times longer, which has been ruled out by measurements from OPERA and other experiments."

For Cowsik and other researchers, these problems and contradictions suggest that the laws of physics as currently understood are correct. But physicists will still be watching other neutrino experiments that can check OPERA’s result, which may be clouded by some unknown source of error. “No one is saying that the OPERA result is impossible, even though it would require extreme revisions to what we know about physics,” says Sheldon Glashow, a Nobel Prize-winning theoretical physicist at Boston University. “But if it turns out to be true, I would say to Nature, ‘You win.’ Then I’d give up, and I’d retire.”

Stay tuned. Same Bat Time. Same Bat Channel.

COLD Meteor Shower Tuesday Night!

Bundle up warmly and head on outside between 1AM and 5AM Wednesday January 04 2012! The annual Quadratid Meteor shower promises to be a great show this year. This shower, although much briefer than some of its more famous cousins like the Leonids and Perceids, this one is bold and loud. Predictions range from 60 to 200 meteor streaks per hour during peak. Even the average of 120/hr yields a breathtraking 2 streaks per minute! WOWZERS!

Here are a few factoids and tips for watching:
1. BUNDLE UP! According to AccuWeather.com, Tuesday night/Wednesday morning is going to be bone-chillingly cold! Low temps are to be around 13oF. However, Weather.org claims it'll be serious Three Dog Night at only 9oF! Yes, that's cold enough to freeze your coffee and your little toes. So, be prepared! Lots of proverbial layers and a few "heat packs" wouldn't hurt.
2. The peak hour is expected to be 2-3AM. However, the waxing gibbous moon (what the heck is it waxing?) won't set till right around 3AM. The Moon's light will inhibit some viewing in areas where optimal conditions (See #3) don't exist.
3. Optimal Viewing? Find a spot away from bright lights. The darker the area, the better. Make it a family adventure. Pack a warm drink and several dozen good buffalo wings and head out to a park or secluded area.
4. The shower’s radiant (its apparent perspective point of origin) is in the not-well-known constellation Quadrans Muralis about halfway from the end of the Big Dipper handle to the head of Draco, as shown above. Quadrans Muralis is not one of the "modern" 88 constellations recognized by the IUA; it's an older However, if you aren't in my Astrology class, who'd know where the heck Draco is? So, I look for both Dippers; Big and Little. Make an imaginary line between them and then complete an imaginary equilateral triangle downwards so the third vertx is UNDER the Dippers. That 3rd vertex is the radiant. It’s fairly high up in the northeast after about 1 AM local time and keeps rising higher until dawn. The higher a shower’s radiant, the more meteors appear all over the sky. Watch whatever part of your sky is darkest, probably straight up.
5. The Quads are the result of an asteroid, not specifically from a comet like most other showers; Asteroid 2003 EH1.

So, bundle up and lead out to a dark place and have some fun with this! Next major metweor shower isn't till April's Lyrids.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Earth's Twin Found?

This news from NASA' Kepler Planet-finding Mission: Kepler Mission has confirmed the existence of an "earth-like" planet in our Galactic Backyard. This is just one of many possible planets they have found within the "habitable zone," or "Goldilocks Zone", the region around a star where liquid water could easily exist on a rocky planet's surface. Kepler has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling the previously known count. Ten of these candidates are "near-Earth-size" and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets and not just balls of gas or dwarfs.

According to Science News 12/05/2011 ; "The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets. Kepler-22b is located 600 light-years away. While the planet is larger than Earth, its orbit of 290 days around a sun-like star resembles that of our world. The planet's host star belongs to the same class as our sun, called G-type, although it is slightly smaller and cooler."

So, it seems less and less likely every day that we are alone in this hugely huge vastly vast Universe...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Comet Shower Seen in Distant Star System!

Oct. 19, 2011: NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has detected signs of icy bodies raining down in an alien solar system. The downpour resembles our own solar system several billion years ago during a period known as the "Late Heavy Bombardment," which may have brought water and other life-forming ingredients to Earth.

So, what does this mean? It adds another feather to the proverbial hat of the current theory of where the earth got so much water; comet bombardment in its early life. Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md, found a star system (meaning it has planets!) that is experiencing a huge bombardment of icy comets just like we think the earth did some 4 Billion yrs ago. So, we are seeing it in action around Eta Corvi which lies in our galactic back yard at only 59 light years! Cool stuff!

See NASA Science News for more info and links for further readings.

Weekend Meteor Shower!

Not a major deal, but a nice little meteor shower is happening right now. This is the annual Orionids shower. It occurs when the earth passes through the trail of debris and particles left behind by Halley's Comet. Yes, THAT Halley's Comet. It's not a major shower like the earlier Perseids, but at an estimated 15 visible meteors per hour, it's worth a look-see.

So, head on out and look for Orion. That's where the earth is headed toward and it looks like all the meteors are coming from that direction, hence the name Orionids. Have patience. I took a look last night around 2AM and waited a good 30 minutes before seeing my 1st one, but then BAM! Saw about 10 within a few minutes; one was big enough to leave a visible smoke trail behind that lingered for a few moments.

See NASA's Science News site for more info.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

From a NY Times article this morning (and a very early morning radio report...), three US Fizzicists won the Nobel for their work on the expansion of the Universe! Quite cool stuff!

These guys (U.S.-Australian Brian Schmidt and U.S. scientists Adam Riess & Saul Perlmutter), who also won the prestigious Shaw Prize in Astronomy in 2006, won for their work in the early '90's studying distant supernovae. Now, Hubble, back in 1929, discovered the Universe was indeed expanding. However, till these guys came along, that expansion was believed to be slowing down due to gravitational attraction over time. They studied a specific kind of supernova, essentially an exploding large star, Type IA. This discovery lead to the conclusion that gravity was losing the battle and some other mysterious force was causing the Universe to grow faster and faster as time went by. This mysterious force was dubbed Dark Energy; not to be confused with Dark Matter.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fabulous Northern Lights Vid!

You've got to see this!

Aurora Borealis in Finnish Lapland 2011 from Flatlight Films on Vimeo.

Make full screen for full effect! Thanks to Universe Today & Phil Plait for posting this.

Well, lots of science news to catch you up on; Neutrinos faster than light, Michelle Bachman abuses science yet again, and sadly, the Tevatron shuts down. Lets do the Neutrino thing here and tackle those others later.

You've probably heard that the good physicists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, arguably the biggest and baddest lab on the planet, reported last month that they measured a batch of neutrinos (weird little buggers) moving faster than light. Well, this would certainly put a damper on our understanding of the Universe, because a basic tenant of modern physics and cosmology is that nothing can go faster than light. Not neutrinos. Not Jeff Gordon. Not the USS Enterprise. Nothing.

See CERN FINDS faster than light particles for more info. And here is the CERN press release.

Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail after realizing that the entire mess was a bad media interpretation of a CERN press release stating "Speed of Light Exceeded by Neutrinos"! Seems the "Neutrinos" were the winning relay race team at CERN's annual picnic. Speed of Light came in 3rd...

Seriously, lets hold our collective hats on this. Even the authors of the paper claim the results are crazy and they are not claiming that the speed of light has been broken. They are simply asking for help from the scientific community in finding an error or omission in their results that would explain this wacky thing.

Basically, they shot neutrinos in a straight line through the earth to another lab. The experiment is called OPERA (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus), and lies 1,400 meters underground in the Gran Sasso National Laboratory in Italy. Neutrinos are weird little sub-atomic particles that virtually never interact with matter since they are electrically neutral and have an incredibly idiodically small mass if any, so they basically "don't see" all that rock and stuff in the way; just go zipping through unimpeded. Some of them got to their target in France 730 km away 60 nano-seconds faster than light would have. Seems crazy. Probably is. My money is on someone somewhere finding an error or two in the data or assumptions made. Some of the basic measurements, like the exact distance to the target, were based on other folks' data. If they were wrong, then this result is wrong.

It's also not the 1st time this type of thing has made the news. Seems that every few years, someone "finds" something that they say might indicate Einstein was wrong. Only to be shot down upon scrutiny of peers. In 2007, the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) experiment in Minnesota saw neutrinos from the particle-physics facility Fermilab in Illinois arriving slightly ahead of schedule. At the time, the MINOS team downplayed the result, in part because there was too much uncertainty in the detector's exact position to be sure of its significance, says Jenny Thomas, a spokeswoman for the experiment. Also, astrophysics argues with the CERN results. If this is correct, then the most studied supernova in history, 1987A, would have shown neutrinos streaming in from the supernova, some 168,000 light years away, years before the light got here. However, the light got here and then the neutrinos got here a few hrs later...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

TEXAS IS AT IT AGAIN!!! AAAHHHRRRGGGGHHHH!!!

This just came across my desk from Dr. Kevin McLin of NASA at Sonoma State U in sunny Calif; arguably the 5th or 6th smartest guy I've ever met. (I'm the 1st, of course...) It is to weep. I thought I was done picking on the stupidity and closed mindedness of Texas educational system, but guess not. Seems the state of Texas has decided to cut 60% of the physics programs in the Texas state university system. I'll let that sink in for you, my gentle flowers... Yes, this is decidedly anti-education. Here's my take on this... Since G. Dubbya, we have been "striving for mediocrity" in this country educationally. No Child Left Behind, NCLB, is the single most dangerous legislation ever placed on the public's plate. It has seriously wounded the pursuit of excellence. As much as the politicians and the politically oriented and appointed Secretaries of Ed have tried to tell us that NCLB does not put more emphasis on a single test, it does. Simply as that. Anyone who tells you differently is either totally ignorant of the inner workings of NCLB AND the educational system or he/she is a politician; meaning he/she is clueless. Every state, every district, every individual school is evaluated on a single "one-size-fits-all" test. In CT, it's the CAPT. In NJ, it's the HSPA. In W VA, it's a sobriety test. In CT, GHS is compared to other schools in our "DRG", DemoGraphicGroup. We fair so-so on the CAPT in some areas. We fair not-so-so in some areas. THAT is what the public sees; the lack of our school population attaining a 100% mastery on every single part of the CAPT. Mind you, the CAPT here at GHS is not, I repeat, NOT a graduation requirement. At most of the other schools, it is. Now, it shouldn't matter, but it does; Duh! Kids know it's not required for them to pass this poorly written test. So, the kids who couldn't possibly care less don't. (Care less, that is...) Since they don't care, they do poorly. I've proctored exams where a kid or two close the exam booklets within 3 minutes after starting a 60 minute exam. Duh! However, if anyone is interested in looking, GHS beats the snot out of just about everyone else in CT on the advanced exams that actually get kids into colleges. The Texas decision bites right into that "advanced" group of kids that we as a nation point to as evidence that we as a nation actually do something right! Get rid of the options for the highest level kids, what do they have left? When I started college back in 1971, yes there were colleges that long ago, there were 96 physics majors in the Freshman class. By the time I graduated, there were 4 of us. Yes, it's a tough major. Yes, it's challenging. Yes, there are easier majors if you want to go that route. However, just because there are only 10 Seniors left at UT as physics majors does not mean the money spent on them (THEIR OWN FRIKKIN' TUITION MONEY, by the way) was a waste. Those 10 kids will go on to grad school and invent something that will help us or find the Higgs Boson or be the first human standing on Mars or be a drag on the welfare system because he's a lazy no good for nothin... Oh, sorry. I digress... Advanced kids NEED us! As far as I'm concerned, there is no more important issue facing American education than this. We are cheating our bright kids out of a truly challenging worthwhile education. C'mon, Obama. Do the right thing and help these bright kids! Secede Texas! Original article.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane IRENE...

Well, now, isn't this special... Now, instead of hitting the Carolinas, Irene has taken a liking to my part of CT! Latest track, here and here, has it shooting right up Rt 8 from Bridgeport to my house...
So, guess I'll baton down the hatches and make sure my battery and beer supplies are fully stocked...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

NEW Moon Theory!

Well, I guess my Astro kids can call me a liar! I've been preaching for years about the "Big Crash" moon theory where a Mars-sized planet(oid) did a demolition derby thing with the earth long ago and the ejecta formed the moon. Well, there's a slightly new theory in town.

In Nature Magazine this month, comes an explanation on why the two "sides" of the moon are so different. The near-side, the one we see from earth, is mostly smooth while the far-side, the daunted "dark" side, is rough and mountainous and cratered and icky.










Following are images of near and far sides:




So, according to these guys, a Mars-sized panetoid did hit the earth, but formed TWO moons; one larger than the other. After a long time of gravity tugs at Lagrange points, the little guy smashed into the big guy and formed the back side. Also explains, differently than conventional theory, the tidal lock and why it faces us all the time. The little guy hit the big guy "slowly" so not much rock melted and no huge crater was formed. Just sorta covered one side with a thick layer of rock. This agrees with observation that the moon's crust is thicker on the back side.

Something to ponder.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Another Cause Of Asthma?

You may have seen a recent study in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, doesn't everyone read that?, about a link between asthma in children and the mother's exposure to magnetic fields. Synopsis report is at ScienceDaily.com. Study found 20% of their subject kids developed asthma versus 13% of general population kids.

What I found amazing is, on the same page as this report, under "Related Stories" were the following:

Use of Acetaminophen in Pregnancy Associated With Increased Asthma Symptoms in Children (Feb. 4, 2010)

Evidence of Link Between Acetaminophen Use in Pregnancy and Childhood Asthma, Researchers Say (Nov. 11, 2010)

Low Vitamin E Intake During Pregnancy Can Lead To Childhood Asthma (Sep. 4, 2006)

Obese Moms, Asthmatic Kids (May 21, 2009)

So, if your Mom is an overweight Tylenol-popper who lacks Vitamin E and lives under high-voltage wires and stood in front of the microwave over when pregnant with you, you have a 7 Bajillion% chance of having asthma.

Another Abstruse Goose Comic




Click comic to embiggenate and warp drive to Abstuse Goose website.

Abstruse Goose!

Great online usually science-based comic. Here's an example.



Click comic to embiggenate and link to website...

Vesta Up Close



From Phil Plait's BA Blog, NASA's Dawn mission released new photos and a video of the approach to the 2nd largest asteroid, Vesta. It's a main belt member 500km, that's 300 miles, wide. According to Phil, that's the size of Colorado. Big rock. Note the cool "Snowman" crater system on left side.



Dawn will, after orbiting and probing Vesta for a while, head on over to the BIGGEST asteroid in the solar system, Ceres. At almost 1000km (600 miles) wide, it's quite large; like maybe two Coloradoes (Colorados? Coloradii?). Can't wait!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Current Debt Crisis Seems To Be A Hype! Maybe Even A Sham?

While trying to research details on the proposed agreement over the debt crisis thing this morning because I'm kinda interested in what it means to me and why I should care, I was surprised to find almost nothing readable by the mere non-political mortal other than the typical news outlet word bites. However, while perusing the plethora of paperwork and reports and talking head reviews, I did stumble upon an official report from the Congressional Research Service. Wow, what an eye opener!
This report details the history of the Debt Ceiling and the increases that have been made to it. In a nutshell, the ceiling has been raised TEN TIMES (7 under Bush) since 2000! Let me repeat that for you, my dear snowflakes, the ceiling was raised 10 times from 2000-2010! This last one makes ELEVEN! It's been raised 75 times since 1969! Two times by Obama in his 1st year; Feb 17 2009 raised by $789 Billion and Dec 28 2009 for $290 Billion! So, why the big deal now? Why is this one Armageddon?
If you follow the above link, look at pg 17. Table shows all the ceiling increases since 2000. Ceiling was $5.9 Trillion (converted to today's $$) in 2000. Today it's $14.7 Trillion... sigh...
A side note on the politicians involved with this recent Bru-Ha-Ha; Senator Harry Reid (D-NV, Senate Majority Leader), who has repeatedly scolded John Boehner (R-OH, House Speaker) for not "compromising or accepting my plan", has voted on all debt ceiling increases exactly along party lines! When Repubs are in charge, Reid voted 'no, when Dems are in charge, Reid voted 'yes'. Every time. Can you say, "Pot calling kettle black"? I knew that you could. (Apologies to Mr. Rogers)

So, why is this one making all the headlines and causing such angst? No clue. I have my thoughts, though. It started, I think, when Obama tried to bully Congress by claiming he'd veto any plan that wasn't what he called "permanent". No "temporary" fixes. Did he offer a plan? Did he assist in the negotiations or details? No. Did he walk out of a meeting with Boehner and it didn't make much news? Yes. Did he whine publicly and point fingers and wave his arms in a press conference about the one time Boehner walked out on him later? Yes.

I don't get it. It's easier understanding Dark Matter and the expanding Universe than all this political crap...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Hate to do this, but...

More news on AGW... From Science Daily, it seems that only 20% of the world's actual climate data is accessible even to the climatologists. SAY WHAT?

Well, according to the lead author, Manola Brunet of the URV's Centre for Climate Change, published July 20 2011 in Climate Research, "Some climate data in Europe go back to the 17th Century, but not even 20% of the information recorded in the past is available to the scientific community." Now, what does that mean?

It means to me that the climatologists and computer geeks who program the climate change computer models that all this AGW Bru-Ha-Ha is based on only have about 20% of the data to use... I'd never accept a LAB report in Fizzix or Astro class from one of my students who only used 20% of the available data. DUH!

"If we had access to all the historical data recorded, we would be able to evaluate the frequency with which these phenomena are likely to occur in the future with a higher degree of certainty," the expert explains.

Dramatic Climate Change is Unpredictable...


Just to back up two recent posts so you don't think I'm that whacky, this study from Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen shows climate change is due to a series of chaotic parameters and as such is almost impossible to predict. It was published in Geophysical Research Letters in October 2010.
Two interesting statements from the study:

"For millions of years the Earth's climate has alternated between about 100,000 years of ice age and approximately 10-15,000 years of a warm climate like we have today." Hmm. So, do you think that the stuff that happened 100,000 years ago has anything to do with what is happening today? If you don't, you are ignoring a Bajillion years of paleoclimatology. Most folks just don't get it that the earth is "old" and it has done this heating and cooling thing way before we were even little splotches of gooey slime on a beach front somewhere. There are astronomical factors (Milankovitch Cycles and Hale (Sun) Cycles to name two big ones), localized earth based cycles (El Nino/Nina/Nota Oscillations, Pacific decadal oscillation, Arctic Oscillation, and both the North Atlantic & North Pacific Oscillations) and plenty of positive/negative feedbacks that the climatologists themselves argue about which comes first.

"The most pronounced climate shifts besides the end of the ice age is a series of climate changes during the ice age where the temperature suddenly rose 10-15 degrees in less than 10 years. The climate change lasted perhaps 1000 years, then -- bang -- the temperature fell drastically and the climate changed again. This happened several times during the ice age and these climate shifts are called the Dansgaard-Oeschger events after the researchers who discovered and described them. Such a sudden, dramatic shift in climate from one state to another is called a tipping point. However, the cause of the rapid climate change is not known and researchers have been unable to reproduce them in modern climate models."
Wow. Nice summary of real paleoclimatology. Let me emphasize a few individual points from this one paragraph...
1. The most pronounced climate shifts besides the end of the ice age is a series of climate changes during the ice age where the temperature suddenly rose 10-15 degrees in less than 10 years. So, in the past, temps suddenly rose 10-15 whole degrees within 10 years! And the AGW alarmists have been hand-waving and pounding their fists on the floor in tantrums over the mere 0.7 (+-0.4) degrees since 1880! C'mon. When are we going to stop blindly believing these 22 or so computer models that can't even fit the CURRENT climate data. It is to weep. 10-15 degrees within 10 years is a drastic life-altering change, to be sure. However, we really shouldn't get our panties in a bind over this current questionable 0.7 degrees in 130 years...
2. "...the cause of the rapid climate change is not known and researchers have been unable to reproduce them in modern climate models." What did I say in the preceding paragraph? These past dramatic climate change shifts are caused by something and the 22 or so computer models can't shed any light on them! One reason? ALL, let me repeat that just in case you went to the bathroom for a minute, ALL the computer models are stuck on inputs of man-made CO2 as the culprit and they won't even LOOK in other places... sigh...

The researchers, via he image above, explained the two scenarios they investigated. One was the "tipping point" scenario where some external factor (Yes, like increased CO2) would cause the climate to seesaw back and forth and finally tip over into a different climate. The other scenario - the climate is like a ball in a trench, which represents one climate state. The ball will be continuously pushed by chaos-dynamical fluctuations such as storms, heat waves, heavy rainfall and the melting of ice sheets, which affect ocean currents and so on. The turmoil in the climate system may finally push the ball over into the other trench, which represents a different climate state. What was their conclusion?

"Peter Ditlevsen's (a climate researcher at the Niels Bohr Institute) research shows that you can actually distinguish between the two scenarios and it was the chaos-dynamical fluctuations that were the triggering cause of the dramatic climate changes during the ice age. This means that they are very difficult to predict."

Ta Da...

Absolutely Gorgeous ALL Sky Photo Mosaic


From APOD (Astronomy Picture Of the Day). This is a great composite image of both the northern and southern skies. Cool stuff!

Friday, July 29, 2011

AMATEUR Astronomy Finds a New Nebula!


I saw this image of a newly discovered nebula a week or so ago. What I didn't know was that it was discovered back in January by an AMATEUR, not a PRO! That is SO KEWL!

According to Space.com and Sky & Telescope Mag, this "Soccer Ball" nebula "Kronberger 61, 'Kn 61' for short, is named after its discoverer, Austrian amateur astronomer Matthias Kronberger, who found the object after poring over data provided by the Digital Sky Survey. Kronberger and other amateur skywatchers were encouraged by professional astronomers to look specifically in the star field covered by Kepler [NASA's planet-seeking satellite]." It was found near Cygnus, The Swan, if that's interesting to you.

Ain't Astronomy grand!

Another Body Blow To AGW Alarmists

Oh, wait! You mean we need real observable DATA when we make a scientific claim? What a novel approach to science! In still another gaping hole blown into the Global Warming Machine, NASA's own data shows the computer models that all the AGW hype is based on and keep screaming doom and gloom and we're all gonna die are... well... how should I say?... terribly wrong!

Roy Spencer, principal research scientist in the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, and colleague Dr. Danny Braswell "...oompared what a half dozen climate models say the atmosphere should do to real honest-ta-goodness NASA satellite data showing what the atmosphere actually did during the 18 months before and after warming events between 2000 and 2011." [Quote from Science Daily] Emphasis added mine. Notice this scientific paper dares actually compare the computer model predicted "what should happen" to actual NASA satellite "what really happens". How dare anyone question the powerful computer models? Well, I've been screaming of this for years...

Spencer's original paper (a good read is you have nothing to do with a few billion neurons today), available here, points to a much more efficient heat release mechanism our atmosphere has than the mechanism proposed and predicted by the computer models. Why such a huge difference? Well, according to Spencer, the computer models treat the atmosphere as a closed system where the Ideal Gas Law (PV=nRT, beloved equation for all high school Chem kids) holds dominion. As any high school Chem kid knows, the atmosphere first is NOT A CLOSED SYSTEM and the Ideal Gas Law is ONLY TRUE for... ready?... IDEAL gases! The atmosphere is anything but 'ideal'.

Along with the aerosol problem research I posted earlier this weak, AGW has a couple black eyes and a few cracked ribs now... What's missing in the computer models? Aerosols, cloud formation, THE SUN, real science data, and the LAWS of Thermodynamics. Yeah, good model...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Yet Another Cellphone Study Says "NO"!

When Will People Get It? Cellphone use DOES NOT cause any physical harm to humans or any other known carboniferous life form! In yet another of a Bajillion real scientific studies, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel reports, "We did not find that young mobile phone users have an increased risk for brain tumors when regularly using mobile phones..." and "We did not see that the risk increased after five years or more since the first use of mobile phones."
The study is published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.


There have been no, let me repeat that for the slow readers, NO scientific link found between cellphone use and cancer. None. Nota. Zilch. Goose Egg. Empty Set. There's a huge difference between 12 idiots on a jury awarding BIG $$$ to a grieving widow of a guy who dies from brain cancer who just happened to also use a cellphone and having a real scientific conclusion. A jury decision is usually not indicative of scientific thought; as seen recently in the Casey Anthony trial. Sheeze! Remember what the forman of the OJ trial said after they let him go? "I never heard of this DNA stuff before and I'm not sure I believe in it." BELIEVE in DNA?

Meanwhile, back on planet earth...

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Aerosols & Anthropogenic Global Warming




Paper in Science Magazine finally addresses the atmospheric aerosol problem in global warming, GW. It's been known for a long time that the predictions made by the GW alarmists are based solely on computer models and not on any reliable scientific data. This is the primary reason I'm a semi=proud AGW skeptic. Not "denier". Skeptic. These computer models do not include parameters like aerosols (dust and large molecules) and cloud formation and have minimal sun effects.

According to the authors, "Climate model projections neglecting these changes would continue to overestimate the radiative forcing and global warming in coming decades if these aerosols remain present at current values or increase."

So, paraphrasing, the computer models have been and will continue to exaggerate any AGW effects because they simply do not include enough parameters. Climate change, yes, climate changes, is so complex it simply cannot be accounted for yet. Paper is a nice read if you want your head to hurt.

Hubble Bubble Popped!




According to PhysicsWorld.com, cosmologists from US and China have dispelled the Hubble Bubble alternative to Dark Energy.

This "Hubble Bubble" was proposed to explain away the strange teeth-grinding hair-pulling Tums-popping world of Dark Energy, DE. DE is the mysterious force that is causing the Universe to expand at an accelerated rate, beating up on the better understood gravity. The Bubble was a supposed large "area" around the earth that was proposed to be expanding at a constant rate, but slightly slower than the rest of the Universe was expanding. This would give the appearance that the far away parts of the U were moving away faster thus the illusion of an accelerating expansion overall.

So, RIP Hubble Bubble.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Taxing the "wealthy" more


I just took an online "poll" at my local ABC TV affiliate, WTNH Ch8. I usually don't participate in these mindless "polls". Especially when there's usually 100 folks who participate. Question: "Do you think the wealthy should be taxed more to help balance the current budget"?

First, it's what I call a "stacked" question. It's actually leading a typical person to the answer they apparently want and then will report on at 11PM; long after I'm involved in a silly DTV movie or am long asleep, just waiting for my bladder to wake me up for the first time of three or four. A better question would be, "Are the wealthy, who constitute a mere 2% of the population yet pay 58% of personal tax revenue, paying enough"?

I voted "No" to the original TV question, but would vote "Yes" to my 'better' question. Here in CT, 45% of all state income tax comes from the county I teach in, Fairfield. Even though it constitutes 13% by land area (625/4845 sq mi) and 25% by state population (916K/3575K). So, roughly 1/4 of CT's population are paying 1/2 CT's tax revenue. Doesn't seem mathematically fair to me. However, wait till you see the National numbers! Oh, what a ride this is!

Before you attack me, I don't live in Fairfield County. I can't afford it. I'm only a retired teacher, not a businessman or a debutanter, the male version of debutante. I always WANTED to grow up to be an astronaut or a Debutanter, but the military had other ideas in the early 70's... sigh...

If we look at anecdotes, I have a good one for you. Tax year 2010, we (Mrs Daryl & I) paid over $26,000 just in Fed/State taxes. This does not count SS and Medicare and other 'mandatory deductions' (bringing total tax liability to $31,000) and this on a salary of under $100,000. We are hardly "wealthy". A neighbor, a nice guy for sure, boasted more than once that he paid less than $1000 in Fed/State taxes and got back a whopping $4500.00. What? Huh? Eh? Err...? Yet, they makes about the same as we do. Why? He works in a union trade where he is paid cash under the table and his wife is on long-term unemployment benefits. Inequitable? Yep. (If he ever ticks me off enough, I'm calling my friendly local IRS guy...)

If we look at the pure numbers (Who needs numbers? We don't have no numbers! We don't need to show you no stinking numbers!) it's the same old story. In my tax bracket, ~28%, I paid more taxes and claimed less deductions than the others in my bracket, according to Intuit.com, the makers of TurboTax. Average taxes paid by couples who made between 85K and 110K was a mere $11,000. Now, why are they paying less than 1/2 of the amount I pay? No clue. Better accountants, I guess.

You don't subscribe to anecdotes as scientific proof? Good! How 'bout some numbers from the actual IRS:(http://www.taxfoundation.org/news/show/250.html#table8)
1. Folks who make more than 250K (top 5%) per year pay an AVERAGE of 23% of their income in Fed taxes alone. Roughly, each pays $58,000 in Fed taxes!!! That's a full 59% of the TOTAL IRS REVENUE!
2. Folks who make less than 33K (bottom 50%, YES 50%, not 5%) per year pay an AVERAGE of 2% of their income in Fed taxes. Roughly $660 each. That's a full 2% of the TOTAL IRS REVENUE!
3. Notice, the Top 5% are paying more than 1/2 the personal taxes while the Bottom 50% are paying less than 2%. Can you say "WTF?"
If these numbers don't scare you, I'll have to write an post on Advanced Calculus For Engineers and Astrophysicists.



Summary: What the hell ever happened to the American Dream where you study hard, you work hard, and you earn hard. Hard work is supposed to pay off! Not being lazy and entitled. We've worked hard our entire frakkin' life. We've finally reached a point where our income is enough where we don't have to worry about our bank balance before paying for something while away on vacation or in Philly at Citizen's Park. We've finally reached the point where all that hard work is supposed to have paid off; all those extra club advisorships and coaching jobs, all those college courses to earn 4 advanced degrees, all those workshops attended and given in order to step to the front of the teacher "class", all those long hours sitting in the basement "office" (breathing mold and watching mice have sex... YUCK!) trying to perfect lessons and make a better connection with students, all those long overtime hours as a retail manager (at least that's what Mrs T said she was doing...). All that. Now what?

So, what's fair? Each of us pays our fair share. Period. Let's say a fair share is 20%. I'm OK with that. It actually saves me a few $$$. For me, that's about $20,000 a year. For someone making $33K, it's about $6600. Yes, the bottom pays more in $$$. I'm sorry, but that's the way percentages work! Someone making $2 MILLION would pay $400,000. It's a percentage, Kids. This ain't Rocket Surgery... Can you even calculate what Bill Gates would pay? The debt ceiling would be a crap-load easier to figure out!

By the way, the original TV poll is currently 87% agree that the "wealthy" should be taxed more... Of course, 87% of the people in USA don't understand percentages, so I could say anything...

Why do scientists do what we do?

This guy is nuts! Watch till the end... YIKES!



Stolen from Phil Plait's BadAstronomy Blog.

Legal Irritations...

Nafissatou Diallo, the chambermaid who accused the ex-IMF head of sexual assault, has made a move that convinces me she's a schemer instead of a victim. ABC News has hit a new low, in my humble correct opinion, by even entertaining an interview with her. Since when does the news machine publicly interview either side of a criminal case before the authorities even finalize their actions? Talk about the cart before the horseshit...

Ms. Diallo, in my view, started weeks ago as a sad victim of yet another man in power thinking he was above the rest of us; it happens all too often. She accused a powerful world leader of a heinous crime.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF Chair and shoe-in for the French Presidency, was arrested and held in jail on the accusations. However, over the next few days, it became apparent to the investigators that the accuser was less than forthcoming with the truth. Her "inconsistencies" quickly became outright lies. She lied about a previous rape in Guinea, West Africa. She lied about what she did after the alleged assault; changing her story no less than four times. She lied to the Grand Jury. It now seems that, upon entering the USA, she lived in a Bronx housing project exclusively for people with HIV/AIDS and has a history of prostitution [NY Post]. New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who has not yet officially dropped the case, he let DSK go. The most troubling accusation in all this is, according to her lawyers, prosecutors said they had found a recorded telephone conversation after the incident between her and a man detained in an Arizona jail in which she said that "this guy has a lot of money. I know what I am doing."

Someone near and dear to me is a survivor of a violent rape. When these stories come out, I'm always inclined to shed a tear or two toward the victim knowing the consequences this cowardly act can wreak on the victim for the rest of her life. However, when the preponderance of evidence points to a false or misleading accusation, my anger gland explodes. It's a serious slap in the face of all the valiant rape victims out there; using this as an excuse to profit. How much has she made already? Don't know. She's not believable to me. Reminds me a little of Casey Anthony. Lie so many times about so many things and change your story one too many times and NOTHING you say can be deemed credible.

Hmm... Makes one think twice about being rich and famous and allowing maids into the room, eh? OK, I thought about it twice...

Like Dennis Miller states, "This is just my opinion. I may be wrong."

1st Rant - 07/26/2011

I'm bothered by a few things and, surprisingly, gladdened by a few other things lately. Some are science-related, some not. Most of them, however, are stupidity-related. Legally, Casey Anthony & Nafissatou Diallo head my list of "Things I Know About But Wish I Didn't". Politically, Obama & Congress are starting to tick me off. Scientifically, however, it's been a good couple weeks for "reality".

I'll address just the science in this post; other topics listed above will be attacked later after I have a few beers and calm down... The Texas State Board of Education has been in the news these past few years. If you recall, back in April '09, the Texas STATE Board, 15 members, actually VOTED the age of the Universe out of existence in textbooks for their state. Yes, I typed that correctly. They VOTED on the age of the Universe! Quoting Board President Don McLeroy, about the scientific experts who argued the age is well-known to be approx 13.7 BILLION +-0.12 Billion yrs , "I disagree with these experts. Someone has got to stand up to experts." WTFFF? This is the PRESIDENT of the State Bd of ED! He wants to stand up to the astronomers, astrophysicists, physicists, and cosmologists who base their statements on observations and years and years of study? Why not? Why let facts and experts stand in the way when you have Intelligent Design on your side. Jeez... See http://io9.com/5192678/texas-officially-makes-the-universe-ageless

This was all caused by an actual vote, which was brought by Board member Barbara Cargill, on whether the age of the Universe was 14 Billion or 6000 yrs! Yep, the 15 members voted that one 11-3 approving that the Universe is a mere 6000 years old! That shows there were only 3 of them who had any concept of reality whatsoever! See further info and video at Phil Plait's fabulous blog:
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/05/06/texas-is-only-6000-years-old/
They had already voted evolution, the cornerstone of modern bio, out of the textbooks unless equal time was spent on ID.

Well, last week, thank Einstein, the Bd voted "unanimously" to NOT include creationist supplements to the state science textbooks. Sounds like a great victory for science literacy. Not that good. The unanimous vote, as pointed out by a Plait poster, was 8-0; the Board has 15 members. As this poster claims, the 7 creationists (referred to as "creationtards") abstained to vote; 6 were in attendance at the meeting.

Small victories. I'll take them.

Why this Blog?

Based on the conditions of the scientific community and society's understanding of it, I'm here to help. Well, at least in my mind, I am...

I'll take a look at Science & Society as topics pop up and either just share my meager info or actually rant and rave about something I find exceptionally stupid and harmful; for the herd-IQ.

See you next time. Same Bat-Time. Same Bat-Channel. (Aging myself there...)