Archive for Science

Fascinating Film About Life In Israel Today.. And Continuing Jew Hatred In Britain

Tal ben Shahar taught the most popular course at Harvard, a psychology course about happiness. Born in Israel, educated there, in Europe and in the US, a few years ago he decided to return. He narrates a 9 minute clip about the changes that took place in the 14 years in which he lived in the diaspora. I am posting the link, but youtube seems to open to sound automatically, a big No-No on this site. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDqo8mu5u8U&x-yt-ts=1422579428&x-yt-cl=85114404

The video is excellent. Did you know that Israel is the nation that has the 3rd most companies on the stock exchange? The US is number 1, China 2, Israel 3. The European nations are in the dust somewhere, no one seems to be able to locate them. There are brief clips with Warren Buffet, Steve Balmer, and others. There is some very moving footage of a scientist who is confined to a wheel chair whose lab developed a gizmo which allows paraplegics to walk, including interviews with the people using the device. And there is footage of the guy who developed the agricultural drip system in the 60s, and how it is used in arid parts of the world today. Israel is able to produce 40% more food with half the usual water, meaning that we can all buy Israeli peppers and tomatoes and dates!

On the other hand, we can all watch the British journalist and anti-Semite, Adam Boulton, interview the Chief Rabbi of Britain on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Go to the link and listen as he blames the Jews for Jew hatred.

I put these together because it is amusing that Europe is on such a steep decline as Israel prospers.

– Aggie

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When the Hottest Year Ever Isn’t…Probably

Can’t stand the heat? Get out of the tabloids:

The news is ablaze with a report that 2014 was the “hottest year.” But there’s no reason to be excited. The story the global warming alarmists are trying to tell isn’t the only one out there.

‘For the third time in a decade,” shouted the AP, “the globe sizzled to the hottest year on record, federal scientists announced Friday.”

The Washington Post reported that “the year 2014 was the hottest ever measured, based on records going back to the year 1880.” Bloomberg News challenged readers to “deny this” and directed them to “animation below” that documents “2014: The Hottest Year.”

Hysteria also reigned at the BBC in Britain, the New Era in Africa, Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald and all points in between.

In one sense, the breathless stories are correct: 2014 was the hottest year on record — by no more than four-hundredths of a degree. But that’s based on surface thermometer records, which are not reliable.

Better measurement is done by satellites, and they indicate 2014 was the third-warmest in the 36 years that satellites have been used to document temperatures.

John Christy, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, says the satellite data show that temperature changes since 2001 are “statistically insignificant.”

As expected, though, some scientists — a few of whom are considered “distinguished” — take the hottest-ever report as confirmation that man is dangerously warming his planet due to fossil-fuel use.

But a few have kept their heads. Roger Pielke, professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, told the Post that “there remain significant uncertainties in the accuracy of the land portion of the surface temperature data, where we have found a significant warm bias.”

Judith Curry, professor at Georgia Tech’s school of earth and atmospheric sciences, said that “with 2014 essentially tied with 2005 and 2010 for hottest year,” the implication is “that there has been essentially no trend in warming over the past decade.”

“This ‘almost’ record year does not help the growing discrepancy between the climate model projections and the surface temperature observations,” she added.

Another take:

Dr. John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center at UAH is quoted by the UAH press release issued today as saying: “2014 was warm, but not special. The 0.01oC difference between 2014 and 2005, or the 0.02 difference with 2013 are not statistically different from zero. That might not be a very satisfying conclusion, but it is at least accurate”.

Not satisfying? Since when is not frying not satisfying?

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Cheer Up

Don’t worry, little fella. Things are looking up!

Canadian Arctic sea-ice levels for the first week of January 2015 are higher than during the early 1980s, according to data from the Canadian Ice Service (CIS). Official data shows that Arctic sea ice coverage in Canadian waters so far in 2015 is well over 90 percent.

For years, scientists and environmentalists have been predicting the Arctic would be ice free by now, but the North Pole continues to defy such predictions and has stabilized in recent years. Though some scientists are still predicting the Arctic could be ice-free in coming decades.

Climate scientists have already declared 2014 the hottest year on record, globally. The Japan Meteorological Agency found that 2014 was the warmest year on record by 0.05 degrees Celsius, beating out 1998 for hottest year.

But the so-called hottest year on record has seen another anomaly– record levels of global sea ice-coverage. Antarctic sea ice hit record levels last year, reaching more than nine million square kilometers by Dec. 31– the highest level since records began in 1978. The only year to come even close to seeing the same level of South Pole ice coverage for that time was 2007.

December is the middle of the summer in the South Pole. During the southern hemisphere’s winter, Antarctica also shattered records, reaching more than 20 million square kilometers in September 2014, according to government data.

Arctic sea ice levels have also been much more stable than scientists previously predicted. Europe’s CryoSat-2 satellite found that sea-ice volumes during fall 2014 were above the average extent for the last five years, and only slightly lower than 2013 levels. But 2013 Arctic sea-ice levels were some 50 percent higher than 2012 levels by the end of the melting season.

“The Antarctic is actually growing and all the evidence in the last few months suggests many assumptions about the poles was wrong,” Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told the U.K. Express.

“Global sea ice is at a record high, another key indicator that something is working in the opposite direction of what was predicted,” Peiser said. “Most people think the poles are melting… they’re not. This is a huge inconvenience that reality is now catching up with climate alarmists, who were predicting that the poles would be melting fairly soon.”

“This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow…”

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Eat Oatmeal, Live Longer

More oatmeal. More!

Over time, regularly eating whole wheat bread, oatmeal or other whole grains may add years to your lifespan, a new Harvard-led study concludes.

Whole grains are so healthy that a person’s risk of an early death drops with every serving added to a daily diet, according to findings published online Jan. 5 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“We saw clear evidence that the more whole grain intake, the lower the mortality rate is,” said Dr. Qi Sun, an assistant professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “When we looked at risk of death from heart disease, there was an even stronger association.”

The researchers estimate that every one-ounce serving of whole grains reduced a person’s overall risk of an early death by 5 percent, and their risk of death from heart disease by 9 percent.

So, if I eat 20 ounces of whole grains, I’ll live forever? Is that “settled science”?

You want a good oatmeal tip? Cook it with a little low-fat or skim milk; it comes out creamier. Also, put the raisins in early and they’ll plump up like raisins. And if you like bananas, slice one razor-thin into the gruel while its cooking; it just melts into the mixture. Yum.

See you in eternity!

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On A Lighter Note, Is “Science” Dead?

We don’t need no stinkin’ 95% confidence level..

Harvard has been taking it on the chin lately, and I kinda hate to pile on, but here we have a Harvard prof, historian of science, who explains that we don’t need to prove climate change, we just need to believe. Question: Isn’t that religion?

Science is conservative, and new claims of knowledge are greeted with high degrees of skepticism. When Copernicus said the Earth orbited the sun, when Wegener said the continents drifted, and when Darwin said species evolved by natural selection, the burden of proof was on them to show that it was so. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this conservatism generally took the form of a demand for a large amount of evidence; in the 20th century, it took on the form of a demand for statistical significance.

We’ve all heard the slogan “correlation is not causation,” but that’s a misleading way to think about the issue. It would be better to say that correlation is not necessarily causation, because we need to rule out the possibility that we are just observing a coincidence. Typically, scientists apply a 95 percent confidence limit, meaning that they will accept a causal claim only if they can show that the odds of the relationship’s occurring by chance are no more than one in 20. But it also means that if there’s more than even a scant 5 percent possibility that an event occurred by chance, scientists will reject the causal claim. It’s like not gambling in Las Vegas even though you had a nearly 95 percent chance of winning.

See how she undermines science as we know it? Wouldn’t you gamble in Las Vegas if you had a 94% chance of winning? Of course you would!

Where does this severe standard come from? The 95 percent confidence level is generally credited to the British statistician R. A. Fisher, who was interested in the problem of how to be sure an observed effect of an experiment was not just the result of chance. While there have been enormous arguments among statisticians about what a 95 percent confidence level really means, working scientists routinely use it.

But the 95 percent level has no actual basis in nature. It is a convention, a value judgment. The value it reflects is one that says that the worst mistake a scientist can make is to think an effect is real when it is not. This is the familiar “Type 1 error.” You can think of it as being gullible, fooling yourself, or having undue faith in your own ideas. To avoid it, scientists place the burden of proof on the person making an affirmative claim. But this means that science is prone to “Type 2 errors”: being too conservative and missing causes and effects that are really there.

So, the 95% confidence level is imperfect; we miss some good stuff. Let’s dump it for religion.

Is a Type 1 error worse than a Type 2? It depends on your point of view, and on the risks inherent in getting the answer wrong. The fear of the Type 1 error asks us to play dumb; in effect, to start from scratch and act as if we know nothing. That makes sense when we really don’t know what’s going on, as in the early stages of a scientific investigation. It also makes sense in a court of law, where we presume innocence to protect ourselves from government tyranny and overzealous prosecutors — but there are no doubt prosecutors who would argue for a lower standard to protect society from crime.

When applied to evaluating environmental hazards, the fear of gullibility can lead us to understate threats. It places the burden of proof on the victim rather than, for example, on the manufacturer of a harmful product. The consequence is that we may fail to protect people who are really getting hurt.

And don’t you really want to save the children?

OK, if you’re still with me, she is now making the case for religion to replace science as we know it:

WHY don’t scientists pick the standard that is appropriate to the case at hand, instead of adhering to an absolutist one? The answer can be found in a surprising place: the history of science in relation to religion. The 95 percent confidence limit reflects a long tradition in the history of science that valorizes skepticism as an antidote to religious faith.

Even as scientists consciously rejected religion as a basis of natural knowledge, they held on to certain cultural presumptions about what kind of person had access to reliable knowledge. One of these presumptions involved the value of ascetic practices. Nowadays scientists do not live monastic lives, but they do practice a form of self-denial, denying themselves the right to believe anything that has not passed very high intellectual hurdles.

Are they denying themselves “the right to believe”? Why I thought that climate change was “settled science”! And most scientists believe in it. I’m surprised they can’t prove it to the 95% confidence level, to be honest, because I thought that was necessary in science. So… let’s change science to accommodate climate change.

Ok, Everyone, Time To Panic About Climate Change!!!

– Aggie

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Save the Rain Forests!

Burn coal:

A new research study led by NASA has reversed commonly held theories about carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, finding that the emissions in fact are absorbed by tropical forests at a higher rate than they are released by them, leading to a boost in growth in the forests.

The study found tropical forests absorb 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually, using it to grow. Overall the forests and other vegetation absorb around 2.7 billion tons of CO2, about 30% of the amount emitted by humans, reports the British Daily Mail.

“This is good news, because uptake in boreal forests is already slowing, while tropical forests may continue to take up carbon for many years,” said Dr. David Schimel, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California who headed the study.

Data until now had been interpreted to suggest tropical forests were releasing more CO2 than they absorb. But the new study finds the opposite is true – tropical forests use much more CO2 to grow at faster rates than previously thought.

Settled science takes it on the chin! Again!!!

They tried to reach Bill McKibben for comment, but his line was down. The string broke.

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That Plucky Ice

The BBC can’t just report that Arctic sea ice is stable:

While global warming seems to have set the polar north on a path to floe-free summers, the latest data from Europe’s Cryosat mission suggests it may take a while yet to reach those conditions.

The spacecraft observed 7,500 cu km of ice cover in October when the Arctic traditionally starts its post-summer freeze-up.

This was only slightly down on 2013 when 8,800 cu km were recorded.

Two cool summers in a row have now allowed the pack to increase and then hold on to a good deal of its volume.

It leads the story by crediting ice for a property I don’t think it has:

Arctic sea ice may be more resilient than many observers recognise.

Ice resilient? How about temperatures low? How about warming halted?

In the three years following its launch in 2010, the satellite saw a steady decline in autumn volume at the end of the summer melt.

The deep lows in this short series were 5,300 and 5,400 cubic km in 2011 and 2012, respectively. But then came the bounce back, with colder weather over the following two years resetting the minimum.

Indeed, Cryosat’s five-year October average now shows pretty stable volume – even modest growth (2014 is 12% above the five year-average).

To be sure, there has been much more Arctic ice in the past:

And while the ice is still much reduced compared with the 20,000 cu km that used to stick around in the Octobers of the early 1980s, there is no evidence to indicate a collapse is imminent.

And NASA is unimpressed:

2014 Arctic Sea Ice Minimum Sixth Lowest on Record

They’ve been monitoring ice from space since 1978, so why not say this year was the 31st highest? And 37 years hardly counts as a long-term sample size.

I also note also that NASA’s data comes from two satellites; Europe’s makes a third. Any chance that some of the difference is due to the different instruments used? Or that modern measuring technology is more accurate than late 1970s technology, the same way an iPhone 3 has more technology than a warehouse full if Commodore 64s?

PS: As we’ve noted before, the Great Lakes have found all the ice the Arctic may have lost.

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The Sounds of Settled Science

Real scientists reserve the right to change their minds:

Scientists have dealt a blow to the theory that most water on Earth came from comets.

Results from Europe’s Rosetta mission, which made history by landing on Comet 67P in November, shows the water on the icy mass is unlike that on our planet.

The results are published in the journal Science.

The authors conclude it is more likely that the water came from asteroids, but other scientists say more data is needed before comets can be ruled out.

Water on Earth has a distinctive signature. While the vast majority of liquid on our planet is made up of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, very occasionally a hydrogen atom will be replaced with a deuterium atom.

On Earth, for every 10,000 water molecules, three deuterium atoms can be found. This water has the same physical properties as H2O, but it is heavier in mass.

Prof Kathrin Altwegg, from the University of Bern in Switzerland, who is Rosina’s principal investigator, said: “This ratio between heavy and light water is very characteristic. You cannot easily change it and it stays for a long time.

“If we compare the water in comets with the water we have on Earth, we can definitely say if the water on Earth is compatible with the water on comets.”

The team found that there was far more heavy water on Comet 67P than on Earth.

Oops.

On to the asteroids!

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The End is Nigher

I don’t know about the temperature, but the hypocrisy is sure rising!

Hundreds of United Nations-backed projects to help the world’s poorest countries cope with the most urgent impacts of climate change have not been acted upon, the BBC has learnt.

Many of these were proposed years ago and may have to be abandoned.

Experts and officials from the world’s 48 least developed countries say lack of funding is the main reason.

They warn that a new long-term global climate defence plan may kick these projects further into the long grass.

“Long grass”. That would be from all the rainfall. And we can’t have that.

But help is on the way, paupers, and has been for more than 18 years!

Since October 1996 there has been no global warming at all (Fig. 1). This month’s RSS temperature plot pushes up the period without any global warming from 18 years 1 month to 18 years 2 months (indeed, very nearly 18 years 3 months).

The hiatus period of 18 years 2 months, or 218 months, is the farthest back one can go in the RSS satellite temperature record and still show a sub-zero trend.

No heat? Where’d it go?

New research shows that ocean heat uptake across three oceans is the likely cause of the ‘warming hiatus’ – the current decade-long slowdown in global surface warming.

Using data from a range of state-of-the-art ocean and atmosphere models, the research shows that the increased oceanic heat drawdown in the equatorial Pacific, North Atlantic and Southern Ocean basins has played a significant role in the hiatus.

This is important as current climate models have been unable to simulate the hiatus.

And some of you folks ask us to accept this so-called “settled science”.

There have been droughts and floods (and many other natural disasters) as long as there has been an earth. If you want to pay for flood prevention or water reservoirs, you have my blessing; you don’t need an unproved theory to do so. But if you stopped holding conferences and commissioning reports, you might have enough money to actually accomplish something.

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Philae of Soul

You might think even a Europhobe like BTL would have a hard time finding fault with the European Space Agency’s succès fou landing on the comet.

O, ye of little faith.

Credit where it’s due: they got there. And the pictures were spectacular. But we already knew Europe made great cameras.

I’m even underwhelmed by the getting there. Scientists have already successfully rendezvoused with almost every celestial body they’ve aimed for, including asteroids and comets. If the Mayans and other ancient civilizations could predict eclipses, the movement of objects around the sun is rocket science, but only barely. It would have been a humiliation, in space exploration terms, to have missed.

But to done in by battery power—the bane of every cell phone user—seems lame to me. Fine, they thought recharging by solar power would be straightforward on a comet, and what are the odds that the lander would to rest in one of the few “shady” spots? Better than none, it turns out. The lander bounced from its intended site a few times before coming to rest where it did, and they had almost ability to move it once it landed. That’s leaving a lot to chance.

Where I think they ultimately failed was in imagination. They thought the comet would be vaguely spherical, therefore predictable.

They didn’t know it was shaped like a rubber ducky.

With cliffs, chasms, and crevasses.

Again, what are the odds? High enough, as it turned out.

The effort might also have been undone by the failure of the anchoring mechanism. You can’t very well drill into something if you have the weight of a feather. Newton’s Third Law of Motion is hardly cutting edge science. But that’s a mechanical failure. The failure I hold them responsible for is the failure to ask what’s the worst that could happen. And the failure to prepare for it. They got the easy things right (or the previously accomplished things), but when it came to what they didn’t know, they didn’t know sh*t.

Too harsh?

PS: And if the insinuation that science can get lost in its own modeling and lose sight of how things really are isn’t obvious enough to you, yes, I mean global warming.

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Settled Science Update

Ha! Made you look. Betcha thought I was talking about global warming.

I am, kinda:

The doubters have spoken.

A group of independent experts — who prodded authorities to release satellite data on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — says it thinks it knows the approximate location of the missing aircraft.

Five separate computer models all place the plane in a tight cluster of spots in the south Indian Ocean — hundreds of miles southwest of the previous search site.

“We recommend that the search for MH370 be focused in this area,” the group said in a statement late Tuesday.

Doubters, experts, computer models—it sounds like the global warming fracas, doesn’t it? We’re months removed from the original…event…and no closer to discovering what happened.

No, wait. We are closer. We’re closer because by trial and a whole lotta error, we’ve eliminated thousands of square miles. So these “experts” may be on to something. The plane may be where they say it is because it isn’t anywhere else.

The group believes that after the Boeing 777 circumnavigated Indonesia, for reasons that are still unknown, the plane traveled south at an average speed of 470 knots, probably at a consistent altitude and constant heading, Exner said. All five computer models developed by the experts place the aircraft in a “pretty tight cluster…plus or minus 50 miles of each other,” he said.

The plane and its 239 occupants vanished March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

In a blog post, group member Tim Farrar called the recommended search site “our best estimate — but not the only possible — location for a potential search.”

Give these experts credit: unlike the global warm mongers, they admit doubt. They confess uncertainty. They grant you that their theories are only educated guesses. My takeaway is that it’s still a big world out there, and it can still mess with us. If the missing plane doesn’t freak you out, look up the Yellowstone caldera. Gaia could snuff us out with Australia and Madagascar tied behind her back.

Keep a few virgins handy for emergency sacrifice. Borrowing from President Obama, if you don’t believe in an earth goddess, you think the moon is made of cheese.

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When the Banana Gets Soft, the Tough Get Going

Some look at the impending banana extinction and shrug:

The fruit is under assault again from a disease that threatens the popular variety that Americans slice into their cereal or slather with chocolate and whipped cream in their banana splits. But aside from its culinary delight, the banana is the eighth most important food crop in the world, and the fourth most important one for developing nations, where millions of people rely on the $8.9 billion industry for their livelihood.

“It’s a very serious situation,” said Randy Ploetz, a professor of plant pathology at the University of Florida. In 1989 Ploetz discovered a strain of Panama disease, called TR4, that may be growing into a serious threat to U.S. supplies of the fruit and Latin American producers.

“There’s nothing at this point that really keeps the fungus from spreading,” he said in an interview with CNBC.

Oh really?

A super-enriched banana genetically engineered to improve the lives of millions of people in Africa will soon have its first human trial, which will test its effect on vitamin A levels, Australian researchers said Monday.

The project plans to have the special banana varieties — enriched with alpha and beta carotene which the body converts to vitamin A — growing in Uganda by 2020. …

“Good science can make a massive difference here by enriching staple crops such as Ugandan bananas with pro-vitamin A and providing poor and subsistence-farming populations with nutritionally rewarding food,” said project leader Professor James Dale. …

“The consequences of vitamin A deficiency are dire with 650,000-700,000 children world-wide dying … each year and at least another 300,000 going blind,” he said.

The GMO bananas have been around for about 12 years, but the eco-activists wouldn’t let them go to market. What if one of those dead or blind children ate one? Thank goodness we saved twelve million children (about a million a year) from such a fate.

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