Thursday, May 31, 2007

Defeated By Pornography

I have been hinting around about what our Grand Strategy should be in the War On Islamic Fascism. Some of the hints can be found at: Islam vs American Morality and In The Long Run Their Struggle Will Be Hopeless and The New Middle East. So what should our strategy be in plainer terms? We should be undermining Islamic fascist culture. How? There in lies a tail.

Let us start with the BBC.

Up to 70% of files exchanged between Saudi teenagers' mobile phones contain pornography, according to a study in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom.

The study quoted in Arab News focussed on the phones of teenagers detained by religious police for harassing girls.
So who is winning the battle of mobiles?
"The flash memory of mobile phones taken from teenagers showed 69.7% of 1,470 files saved in them were pornographic and 8.6% were related to violence," said report author Professor Abdullah al-Rasheed.
So sex is more popular than violence by a factor of better than 8 to 1. Excellent.

The Opinion Journal has some early news from the battle for Iraq.
In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today.

What, the man was asked, did he hope to see now that the Baath Party had been driven from power in his town? What would the Americans bring?

"Democracy," the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. "Whiskey. And sexy!"

Around him, the crowd roared its approval.
That was a definite vote of confidence for my proposed strategy.

Ralph Peters takes a look at strategy in information warfare.
For the world masses, devastated by information they cannot manage or effectively interpret, life is "nasty, brutish . . . and short-circuited." The general pace of change is overwhelming, and information is both the motor and signifier of change. Those humans, in every country and region, who cannot understand the new world, or who cannot profit from its uncertainties, or who cannot reconcile themselves to its dynamics, will become the violent enemies of their inadequate governments, of their more fortunate neighbors, and ultimately of the United States. We are entering a new American century, in which we will become still wealthier, culturally more lethal, and increasingly powerful. We will excite hatreds without precedent.

We live in an age of multiple truths. He who warns of the "clash of civilizations" is incontestably right; simultaneously, we shall see higher levels of constructive trafficking between civilizations than ever before. The future is bright--and it is also very dark. More men and women will enjoy health and prosperity than ever before, yet more will live in poverty or tumult, if only because of the ferocity of demographics. There will be more democracy--that deft liberal form of imperialism--and greater popular refusal of democracy. One of the defining bifurcations of the future will be the conflict between information masters and information victims.
We can already see who the victims are. They are the people whose information on every subject has been restricted. The people who have no immunity to the torrent.
The contemporary expansion of available information is immeasurable, uncontainable, and destructive to individuals and entire cultures unable to master it. The radical fundamentalists--the bomber in Jerusalem or Oklahoma City, the moral terrorist on the right or the dictatorial multiculturalist on the left--are all brothers and sisters, all threatened by change, terrified of the future, and alienated by information they cannot reconcile with their lives or ambitions. They ache to return to a golden age that never existed, or to create a paradise of their own restrictive design. They no longer understand the world, and their fear is volatile.

Information destroys traditional jobs and traditional cultures; it seduces, betrays, yet remains invulnerable. How can you counterattack the information others have turned upon you? There is no effective option other than competitive performance. For those individuals and cultures that cannot join or compete with our information empire, there is only inevitable failure (of note, the internet is to the techno-capable disaffected what the United Nations is to marginal states: it offers the illusion of empowerment and community). The attempt of the Iranian mullahs to secede from modernity has failed, although a turbaned corpse still stumbles about the neighborhood. Information, from the internet to rock videos, will not be contained, and fundamentalism cannot control its children. Our victims volunteer.
I think that is one of the real keys. Our victims volunteer. My original idea was to have our government print up a bunch of pornoraphy and distribute it in the Middle East. I thought that there was no way this could become a government program. Too many Americans with loud voices would object. Fortunately with the advent of computers and mobile phones we do not have to print anything. Nor does our government have to have its fingerprints on the job. There is more than enough free porno on line to satisfy the immediate demand. In other words Open Source Pornography to the rescue.
Secular and religious revolutionaries in our century have made the identical mistake, imagining that the workers of the world or the faithful just can't wait to go home at night to study Marx or the Koran. Well, Joe Sixpack, Ivan Tipichni, and Ali Quat would rather "Baywatch." America has figured it out, and we are brilliant at operationalizing our knowledge, and our cultural power will hinder even those cultures we do not undermine. There is no "peer competitor" in the cultural (or military) department. Our cultural empire has the addicted--men and women everywhere--clamoring for more. And they pay for the privilege of their disillusionment.
We are addicted to their oil, it is the engine of our prosperity. They are addicted to our culture, the engine of their defeat. Strategy Page looks at the turmoil our communication technology is causing among the Arab/Persian masses:
May 3, 2007: One reason for Islamic terrorism is there are too many Moslems. At least in the sense that the economies of Islamic countries cannot create enough jobs for all the young people coming of age. Consider that for the last fifty years, the population of all Moslem countries has tripled. That's population growth that is more than double the rate of the world as a whole, and about ten times the rate of Europe. It's about five times the rate in the United States.

Many of those unemployed young men are angry, and making war is a typical activity of angry young men. But the women are not too happy either, and this is becoming one a major threat to Islamic terrorists. In Islamic societies, women's activities are greatly restricted. One thing they are encouraged to do is have lots of children. Many women in Islamic countries are rebelling against this. You don't hear much about this, because women don't rebel in the same loud, headline grabbing way that men do. What unhappy women often do is stop having children. Not so easy to do, you think? Well, think again.
That is the wind up. How about the pitch?
While Islamic countries tend to have very low levels of education, especially for women, the introduction of satellite television and DVDs has enabled even illiterate women to learn that there are other options. Ignorance is an excellent form of control, but when the ignorance is lost, so is the control.

Thus in most Islamic countries, the women are having fewer children, and making more noise about economic and educational opportunities. This resonates with some of the better informed Islamic men. One reason the West, and other parts of the world, have enjoyed much better economic growth than the Moslem countries, is that they have added large number of educated women to their work force.

Losing control of the women is something that makes Islamic conservatives very angry. Murderously angry. This is a vicious, lethal battle taking place largely out of the media spotlight. But, long term, it is destroying the source of Islamic terrorism.
Yep. I think the Saudi statistics bear that out.

Matthew Parris discusses the end of the End of the American Empire. He says that it is premature to blow taps for America.
Writing in The Spectator two weeks ago (‘Why there will be no future Pax Americana’), the distinguished essayist, author and thinker had sniffed the wind and concluded that it is all up for what he calls the US ‘imperium’. Islam has been Washington’s undoing, he believes, and after six short decades as top dog of the world, America is already stumbling and set to lose her predominance.
So does Islam really have the appeal its adherents claim? I don't think so and neither does Mr. Parris.
Have we not noticed how incompetent are Islamic governments and organisations the world over? Has it not occurred to us that if al-Qa’eda really were as wily and resourceful as we tell ourselves they are, and if their tentacles really did extend as wide and deep as some say, they would be on the advance — not battled into a stalemate by Western security and intelligence? If I were an al-Qa’eda activist I could have blown up Parliament or shot at least one of a range of prime ministers by now. Al-Qa’eda’s failure to infiltrate or penetrate Western structures has been complete.

There is a reason for this. Islam, in its more fundamentalist form, doesn’t work. Serious, committed Islamists are most unlikely to succeed within any structures but their own. Their own, meanwhile, are notoriously inefficient and corrupt. Only by lucky coincidence have much of the world’s known petrocarbons been found beneath Islamic nations, giving them what temporary influence they wield. How can any culture which despises modernity, hates mobility, distrusts individual liberty and autonomy, persecutes those who deviate from cultural or ideological norms, imposes a kind of brutal conformity on the way people live, love and work, and at a stroke disempowers 50 per cent of its people (women) from proper education and from all career opportunity so that every boy-child it produces is being brought up by a person who knows little of the world and only a fraction of what the boy must learn — how can such a culture bestride the 21st century, as Selbourne fears Islamism will do?
Which is not to say that Islam can't cause a lot of trouble. It can, but is it something with appeal to the Western World? I don't think so. Islam prescribes the most minute details of a person's life. The West says: tear down the Walls. Minimize the restrictions. Enlarge the limits. Which will ultimately be more popular?

Wretchard at the Belmont Club takes a look at the issue and our secret weapon:
And that, come right down to it, is why some Muslims believe in the power of Allah. Allah strengthens the will of his adherents past any breaking point. They are willing to go past death itself. And they say to us: with our rifle and our belief in Allah we can defeat you with your laser guided weaponry and your belief in Harry Reid. Come to prayer. Come to Islam.
We have a secret weapon. Come to Brittany. This is a weapon more fearsome than any 20 divisions of soldiers backed up by 10 CBGs.

The munitions are delivered at the speed of light. The targeting precice and once a target is located follow on rounds are almost automatic.
We are making them desire and pay for the liquifaction of their culture. Every dollar we pay for oil, not only buys physical weapons to be used against us but aso buys them our best weapon to be used against themselves and our weapons have better targeting and a negative cost for delivery. We profit from their desires. How much more American than that can you get? It tuns out much more.

Memri TV has a video clip from the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International about Saudi women stripping for Web Cams. They also have a transcript of the show.
Reporter: Behind closed doors and far from any supervising eyes, they remove their shame and turn their backs on all customs and traditions. Girls display their bodies in chat rooms on the Internet, in most cases, free of charge. As soon as one of these girls places the camera in front of her, she begins to strip, displaying her seductive charms to more than 300 young men of different ages. Some believe that the phenomenon of stripping over the Internet may be understood within the framework of social hypocrisy, especially since they believe that our religious and educational discourse does not attribute importance to the strengthening of self-restraint, and prefers the appearance over the essence. This drives some people to play several roles and wear several masks.
The liquifaction is well underway.
Reporter: On the other hand, many believe that web stripping has not reached the proportions of a phenomenon, and that these are merely isolated cases. They emphasize that the vast majority of our girls protect their modesty and respect the customs, and traditions. These people believe that web cams can be useful tools. They can be used to maintain family ties, and can have educational applications, in lectures and conferences, for example.

Many young men and women believe that the endless prohibitions drive them to hide behind closed doors, and surf in relations that rebel against all costumes and traditions, in search of love, in some cases, and in order to satisfy their urges, in other cases, especially since the Internet gives them the opportunity to openly declare their repressed desires without fear.

Young Saudi woman in shopping mall: The girls misuse the web cams. They take them into their rooms, and even their families do not know that they have cameras, or what the girls use their laptops or web cams for.

Young Saudi man in shopping mall: A girl can buy a web cam for a very cheap price, 70-75 riyals. She takes it to her room, closes the door, and begins the show.
As one of my favorite bands has said, "On with the show".

Yep it is just a few isolated incidents and outside agitators causing all the trouble. Sure it is. The subject is well known and yet no one knows who is involved. I believe that. Sure I do. Hasn't any one explained that when family members surf the 'net supervision is required?

I'm going to let Dr. Sanity have the last word.
If there was ever in history a better example of the paranoid fear of female sexuality, I can't think of it. You don't have to be much of an expert on Islam or Muslim culture to be able to observe that it has evolved into a societal structure whose primary purpose is to contain and manage female sexuality.

This containment has not only become a key aspect of the worship of their god; but it also is a key factor in individual personality development; as well as the main pollutant of all possible social interactions within the culture.

The men of Islam are obsessed with sex beyond even the wildest imaginings of the Western male's mind. And the obsession is far from healthy and even further from reality.

We frequently joke about men's preoccupation with sex and female body parts in the West, but our fascination with "T&A" is nothing when you consider that the Muslim world is literally consumed by female sexuality and with their fear of it. It is ironic that both Muslim men and women are under the mistaken impression that Western society is oversexualized compared to them, when in fact, it is practically impossible to be more obsessed with sexual matters than they are in Muslim communities.
It is unhealthy. However, in an information resticted society such obsession is inevitable.

It looks to me that their defeat by pornagraphy is inevitable. I might also add that I have been doing some field research for this article (yeah, right) and it appears that pornography by Arabs are increasingly frequent on the free amateur pornography sites. A sub theme in all this is that American music is popular as background on about half the videos that have any music. It is not just sex. Democracy, whiskey, sexy is more popular than Islam. Which means that what ever military action we take is just a holding action while our culture does a number on them.

H/T Little Green Footballs, and Instapundit, and The Daily Brief, and Instapundit again.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Welcome Instapundit readers. If you want to get educated as well as titilated (nice word eh?) check out: Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion

Thompson Will Run

I'm heartened by this. Thompson is a communicator. A skill sorely lacking in the current White House.

STAMFORD, Conn. — Politician-turned-actor Fred Thompson plans an unconventional campaign for president using blogs, video posts and other Internet innovations to reach voters repelled by politics-as-usual in both parties, he told USA Today.

Thompson, a former U.S. Senator from Tennessee, has been coy about his intentions with audiences, but made clear in an interview that he plans to run.

"I can't remember exactly the point that I said, 'I'm going to do this,' " Thompson says, his 6-foot, 6-inch frame sprawled comfortably across a couch in a hotel suite. "But when I did, the thing that occurred to me: 'I'm going to tell people that I am thinking about it and see what kind of reaction I get to it.' "
Actually telling people what he is thinking. A novel approach to politics to ne sure.

Well Fred was thinking about Michael Moore a while back. And told people what he was thinking.

H/T Instapundit

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Polywell - Making The Well

I have come across some interesting research by Kiyoshi Yoshikawaa,of the Institute of Advanced Energy, Kyoto University, and others proving the formation of the Polywell.

For those of you who have not been following along here is how my understanding has been evolving.

Polywell As I Currently Understand It

Polywell - Adding Details

A schematic of the evolution of the Polywell design can be found in slides 8 and 11 in this Power Point slide show (link at bottom of page).

In the Hirsh/Farnsworth machine in slide 8 the reacting positive ions (like charged Deuterium particles for one kind of operation) are attracted to the center to collide and produce fusions.

In the Elmore/Tuck/Watson machine in slide 11 electrons are accelerated to the center of the machine where they form a grid sort of like what happens in a beam power tube. In the beam power tube the virtual grid is called a space charge. These negative electrons attract the positive fuel ions and fusion reactions take place. The advantage is that there is no grid near the reaction space so losses are reduced.

That is the theory any way. However, in any person's mind who has a little understanding of the physics involved the question is: is that really happening? Are we fooling ourselves? Which brings us back to the Yoshikawa paper. What is the evidence?

Yoshikawaa correctly states the central issue: is essential to clarify the mechanism of potential well formation (see Fig. 5) predicted to develop in the central plasma core within the cathode, since potential well formation due to space charge associated with spherically converging ion beams plays a key and essential role in the beam-beam colliding fusion, i.e., the major mechanism of the IECF devices. Actually, this has been the central key issue for IECF researchers for the past 30 years, until the first successful direct measurement of the double-well potential profile in the IECF device through the laser- induced fluorescence (LIF) method at Kyoto University [6] in 1999 with an approximately 200 V dip at the center in the helium plasma core as will be described below.
So they have proved the formation of the Polywell. Outstanding!
Many theoretical results so far predicted strongly localized potential well formation, and actually for the past 30 years, many experiments were dedicated to clarify this mechanism using, such as, electron beam reflection method [7], spatially collimated neutron [4] or proton [8,9] profile measurements, or an emissive probe [10], as is seen in Table 2, but, neither seems to be perfectly conclusive in convincing that well does form.
He again hits the nail on the head. Lots of results that could have more than one interpretation. He then gives a list of past attempts at verification of the Polywell. Now let us get to how what he claims was the definitive experiment was done.
...we have adopted optical diagnostics by using the Stark effects, sensitive to the local electric fields, to the IECF device with a hollow cathode. Also to enhance S/N (signal to noise) ratio as well as to specify radial potential profile, we introduced the LIF method. Consequently, we could have finally measured the double-well potential profile (see Fig. 11) with an approximately 200 V dip at the center for the first time in the helium plasma core (Fig. 7) in the IECF device.
He goes on in even more technical detail. The end result? The dual (cathode and anode) potential well forms.

In any future experimental regimes such a measuring system should be used to verify machine operation and to provide machine diagnostics.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lubos Motl Looks At Sun Spots

Lubos sent me an e-mail thanking me for Clouds In Chambers and suggesting I have a look at Sunspots. He shows the correlations between sunspots and global temperatures.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Harmonica Joe

Last night I had a blogger meet up with Eric of Classical Values at the Irish Rose Saloon in Rockford. My first mate was there and so was Harmonica Joe.

Needless to say a very good time was had by all.

When Eric returns to Philly he will be posting pictures of the usual suspects.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

The Last Full Measure

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Sunday, May 27, 2007

CO2 - Its In The Air

China is set to becone the #1 CO2 producer in the world. China's rapid industrialization along with its low economic productivity is causing its energy demands to rise at a furious rate.

China is on course to overtake the United States this year as the world's biggest carbon dioxide producer, according to estimates based on Chinese energy data.

The finding might pressure Beijing to take more action on climate change.

China's emissions rose by about 10 percent in 2005, a senior U.S. scientist estimated, while Beijing data shows fuel consumption rose more than 9 percent in 2006, suggesting China would easily outstrip the United States this year, long before a forecast.

Taking the top spot would put pressure on China to do more to slow emissions as part of world talks on extending the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol on global warming beyond 2012.
The nations signed on to Kyoto aren't doing too well on the CO2 front either. Germans in particular are balking at further price increases and other restrictions on their energy supplies.

In the mean time how is the USA, which did not sign on to Kyoto, doing? As it turns out not too bad.
U.S. carbon dioxide emissions dropped slightly last year even as the economy grew, according to an initial estimate released yesterday by the Energy Information Administration.

The 1.3 percent drop in CO{-2} emissions marks the first time that U.S. pollution linked to global warming has declined in absolute terms since 2001 and the first time it has gone down since 1990 while the economy was thriving. Carbon dioxide emissions declined in both 2001 and 1991, in large part because of economic slowdowns during those years.

In 2006 the U.S. economy grew 3.3 percent, a fact President Bush touted yesterday as he hailed the government's "flash estimate" that the country's carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 78 million metric tons last year.

"We are effectively confronting the important challenge of global climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong economic investment," Bush said in a statement. "New policies at the federal, state, and local levels -- such as my initiative to reduce by 20 percent our projected use of gasoline within 10 years -- promise even more progress." A number of factors helped reduce emissions last year, according to the government, including weather conditions that reduced heating and air-conditioning use, higher gasoline prices that caused consumers to conserve, and a greater overall reliance on natural gas.
Well what do you know. Market forces, which is just another way of saying voluntary cooperation, are doing a pretty good job. In fact a better job than command and control.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Latest Fusion News

Tom Ligon, an engineer who worked with Dr. Robert Bussard, is giving a talk on fusion powered rockets at the International Space Development Conference in Dallas. Here is a link to Tom's Power Point Presentation at ISDC. Scroll down the page and click on the button in the lower right.

In other news Tri Alpha Energy has just raised $40 million in venture capital for nuclear fusion.

Tri Alpha Energy, which hopes to commercialize nuclear fusion technology, has raised $40 million from Venrock Associates and others, according to VentureWire.

The company, which grew out of the University of California at Irvine, says its advanced plasma fusion technologies could be used to generate electricity as well as eliminate waste from nuclear power plants. A plant based on its technology would cost less than a conventional nuclear plant. Tri Alpha was founded in 1998 and has raised funds in the past.

Tri Alpha is working on a generator in which hydrogen chases boron, according to literature from UC Irvine. These atoms then form a helium atom, which is placed in a particle accelerator. Slowing down the helium generates electricity.
I have some links to their proposed design at Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion. Scroll down and look for the Hendrik J. Monkhorst information.

Here are some more details on the venture capital deal from UC Irvine.
Norman Rostoker, research professor of physics and astronomy, received $5.2 million from Tri Alpha Energy Inc. to research a plasma electric generator that will use as fuel a mixture of hydrogen and boron. In this generator, hydrogen will chase boron in a cylinder, eventually resulting in helium nuclei that will be made to escape into a particle accelerator. The backwards-running accelerator will slow down the nuclei, turning the energy released into electricity.
Here is the patent for the Monkhorst/Rostoker design.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Ron Paul For President

In '88.

For further details.

H/T Instapundit

Friday, May 25, 2007

Clouds In Chambers

a cloud chamber in action

What do you do when you want to study clouds and all you have is balloons because airplanes are not very reliable and they are expensive? Like any good scientist you try to make clouds in your lab. Which is exactly what C. T. R. Wilson did in 1912.
The study of high energy particles was greatly aided in 1912 when C. T. R. Wilson, a Scottish physicist, devised the cloud chamber. The general procedure was to allow water to evaporate in an enclosed container to the point of saturation and then lower the pressure, producing a super-saturated volume of air. Then the passage of a charged particle would condense the vapor into tiny droplets, producing a visible trail marking the particle's path.

The device came to be called the Wilson cloud chamber and was used widely in the study of radioactivity. An alpha particle left a broad, straight path of definite length while an electron produced a light path with bends due to collisions. Gamma rays did not produce a visible track since they produce very few ions in air. The Wilson cloud chamber led to the discovery of recoil electrons from x-ray and gamma ray collisions, the Compton-scattered electrons, and was used to discover the first intermediate mass particle, the muon. Wilson was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1927 for the development of the cloud chamber.
Why did Wilson invent the cloud chamber? It certainly wasn't to study nuclear physics which was in its infancy at the time. It really was the case that he wanted to study clouds.
Inspired by sightings of the Brocken spectre while working on the summit of Ben Nevis in 1894, he began to develop expansion chambers for studying cloud formation and optical phenomena in moist air.
So how did all this interest by people studying nuclear physics come about?
Very rapidly he discovered that ions could act as centres for water droplet formation in such chambers. He pursued the application of this discovery and perfected the first cloud chamber in 1911. In Wilson's original chamber the air inside the sealed device was saturated with water vapor, then a diaphragm is used to expand the air inside the chamber (adiabatic expansion). This cools the air and water vapor starts to condense. When an ionizing particle passes through the chamber, water vapor condenses on the resulting ions and the trail of the particle is visible in the vapor cloud.
Fun stuff. In fact it is so much fun that improved chambers have been developed that can make the required clouds continuously so that you do not have to keep re-pumping the chamber to get the required conditions for cloud formation. Mad Physics has a nice diagram of Wilson's original design and instructions on how to build a more modern version using methanol (wood alcohol), pure ethanol (the drinking kind), or pure isopropyl alcohol (used in diluted form in rubbing alcohol)and dry ice. Cornell University also has similar instructions along with a trouble shooting guide.

OK, so men have been making clouds in chambers since 1912. Since not long after that time we have understood that high energy nuclear particles can help clouds to form.

Which leads us to the question of climate and how our sun's magnetic field can affect climate. I wrote some about that in Clouds and More Clouds. As usual with any "new" science there are sceptics and deniers (you know who you are). So let us follow this along, look at some really big cloud chambers, and see if we can shed some light instead of just generating heat.

Let us start with the experiment that triggered off the whole brouha. An experiment done under the auspices of the Danish Space Agency first reported in the summer of 2006.
An essential role for remote stars in everyday weather on Earth has been revealed by an experiment at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen.

It is already well-established that when cosmic rays, which are high-speed atomic particles originating in exploded stars far away in the Milky Way, penetrate Earth's atmosphere they produce substantial amounts of ions and release free electrons.

Now, results from the Danish experiment show that the released electrons significantly promote the formation of building blocks for cloud condensation nuclei on which water vapour condenses to make clouds.

Hence, a causal mechanism by which cosmic rays can facilitate the production of clouds in Earth's atmosphere has been experimentally identified for the first time.
Well that is just one experiment you say. I suppose that is true if you don't count all the millions of cloud chamber experiments done since 1912. However, there are sceptics and deniers among us and we need evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. I'm all for that! Now there will always be a few flat earthers, however we want to satisfy the reasonable sceptics. The way to do that? Why get another team to to perform the same experiment to see if they get the same results. So will this be done? Yep. And by whom? Well atomic scietists to the rescue.
Geneva, 19 October 2006. A novel experiment, known as CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets), begins taking its first data today with a prototype detector in a particle beam at CERN[1], the world�s largest laboratory for particle physics. The goal of the experiment is to investigate the possible influence of galactic cosmic rays on Earth's clouds and climate. This represents the first time a high energy physics accelerator has been used for atmospheric and climate science.

The CLOUD experiment is designed to explore the microphysical interactions between cosmic rays and clouds. Cosmic rays are charged particles that bombard the Earth's atmosphere from outer space. Studies suggest that cosmic rays may influence the amount of cloud cover through the formation of new aerosols (tiny particles suspended in the air that seed cloud droplets). Clouds exert a strong influence on the Earth's energy balance, and changes of only a few per cent have an important effect on the climate. The CLOUD prototype experiment aims to investigate the effect of cosmic rays on the formation of new aerosols.

Understanding the microphysics in controlled laboratory conditions is a key to unravelling the connection between cosmic rays and clouds. CLOUD will reproduce these interactions for the first time by sending a beam of particles � the �cosmic rays� - from CERN�s Proton Synchrotron into a reaction chamber. The effect of the beam on aerosol production will be recorded and analysed.

The collaboration comprises an interdisciplinary team from 18 institutes and 9 countries in Europe, the United States and Russia. It brings together atmospheric physicists, solar physicists, and cosmic ray and particle physicists to address a key question in the understanding of clouds and climate change. "The experiment has attracted the leading aerosol, cloud and solar-terrestrial physicists from Europe; Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are especially strong in this area" says the CLOUD spokesperson, Jasper Kirkby of CERN.
Data from this experiment will be out around 2010. So we have to wait a while.

In the mean time the BBC reports on some other experiments going on.
A three-week experiment to resolve the biggest riddle in climate science begins in Australia on Thursday.

Scientists will use radar, aeroplanes, weather balloons and a ship to study the life cycle of tropical clouds.

They are searching for details of how clouds form and carry heat high up into the atmosphere.

A better understanding of these crucial processes should lead to computer models that can predict the extent of global climate warming more accurately.
Just how bad is the cloud problem? I cover some of that in More Uncertainty. However, let us see what the above linked BBC report has to say:
Tropical clouds carry heat and moisture from the Earth's surface high up in the atmosphere, a key process in driving heat around the globe.

"You have these 'hot towers', tropical storm clouds acting like chimneys to carry heat to the upper atmosphere," said Peter May from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, co-chair of the project's organising committee.

"Also, you've got large areas of cirrus clouds which are reflecting a lot of incoming sunlight back away from the Earth; but they're also absorbing infra-red radiation coming back from below," he told the BBC News website.

"So you've got competing processes going on; and that balance depends on how big the ice crystals are and what the density is, how high they are and so on."

Existing computer models did not reflect these processes accurately, said Tom Ackerman of the University of Washington in Seattle, US, because they typically treated convection and cloud formation as separate processes.
So even without the nuclear particle (cosmic ray) connection to cloud production there is a lot of uncertainty.

Obviously more information is needed. One of the things we need is an understanding of how the sun affects the cosmic ray intensity on earth.

So let us look into it. First off let us look into Dr. Nir Shaviv's review of the Danish experiment.
After a long embargo, results from the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) Sky experiment were finally published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. These results will probably we overshadowed with today's announcement of this years' physics nobel prize winner (for the COBE microwave background experiment), but they are very important nonetheless.

This is the Royal Society's press release on the publication of Svensmark et al.:
�Using a box of air in a Copenhagen lab, physicists trace the growth of clusters of molecules of the kind that build cloud condensation nuclei. These are specks of sulphuric acid on which cloud droplets form. High-energy particles driven through the laboratory ceiling by exploded stars far away in the Galaxy - the cosmic rays - liberate electrons in the air, which help the molecular clusters to form much faster than atmospheric scientists have predicted. That may explain the link proposed by members of the Danish team, between cosmic rays, cloudiness and climate change.�
Nir is kind enough to provide the pertinent graph, pictures of the experiment and the scientists involved, and some more discussion at the previous link.

Now what does all this have to do with the sun?

Nir again provides us with a connection
The activity of the sun manifests its self in many ways. One of them is through a variable solar wind. This flux of energetic particles and entangled magnetic field flows outwards from the sun, and impedes on a flux of more energetic particles, the cosmic rays, which come from outside the solar system. Namely, a more active sun with a stronger solar wind will attenuate the flux of cosmic rays reaching Earth. The key point in this picture is that the cosmic rays are the main physical mechanism controlling the amount of ionization in the troposphere (the bottom 10 kms or so). Thus, a more active sun will reduce the flux of cosmic rays, and with it, the amount of tropospheric ionization. As it turns out, this amount of ionization affects the formation of condensation nuclei required for the formation of clouds in clean marine environment. A more active sun will therefore inhibit the formation of cloud condensation nuclei, and the resulting low altitude marine clouds will have larger drops, which are less white and live shorter, thereby warming Earth.

Today, there is ample evidence to support this picture (a succinct introduction can be found here). For example, it was found that independent galactic induced variations in the cosmic ray flux, which have nothing to do with solar activity do too affect climate as one should expect from such a link. There are many more examples.
Ah, but Dr. Shaviv has more:
So why is this link important for global warming? As previously mentioned, solar activity has been increasing over the 20th century. This can be seen in fig. 5. Thus, we expect warming from the reduced flux of cosmic rays. Moreover, since the cosmic ray flux actually had a small increase between the 1940's and 1970's (as can be seen in the ion chamber data in fig. 6), this mechanism also naturally explains the global temperature decrease which took place during the same period.

Using historic variations in climate and the cosmic ray flux, one can actually quantify empirically the relation between cosmic ray flux variations and global temperature change, and estimate the solar contribution to the 20th century warming. This contribution comes out to be 0.5�0.2�C out of the observed 0.6�0.2�C global warming (Shaviv, 2005).
Naturally you will have to visit Dr. Shaviv's site to see the figures. However, if what he says is correct then CO2 is an amplifying mechanism and not the driver. In fact if his numbers are correct solar variation amplified by the cosmic ray effect accounts for 80% of the global warming we have seen.

Dr. Shaviv has a paper that originally appeared in PhysicaPlus that has more on the cosmic ray/climate connection over geological time. You can read it here along with some interesting pictures.

But wait. That is not all. Let us take another look at Dr. Svensmark's research.
For more than a decade, Henrik Svensmark of the Danish National Space Center has been pursuing an explanation for why Earth cools and warms. His findings -- published in October in the Proceedings of the Royal Society -- the mathematical, physical sciences and engineering journal of the Royal Society of London -- are now in, and they don't point to us. The sun and the stars could explain most if not all of the warming this century, and he has laboratory results to demonstrate it. Dr. Svensmark's study had its origins in 1996, when he and a colleague presented findings at a scientific conference indicating that changes in the sun's magnetic field -- quite apart from greenhouse gases -- could be related to the recent rise in global temperatures. The chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, the chief agency investigating global warming, then castigated them in the press, saying, "I find the move from this pair scientifically extremely naive and irresponsible." Others accused them of denouncing the greenhouse theory, something they had not done.

Svensmark and his colleague had arrived at their theory after examining data that showed a surprisingly strong correlation between cosmic rays --highspeed atomic particles originating in exploded stars in the Milky Way -- and low-altitude clouds. Earth's cloud cover increased when the intensity of cosmic rays grew and decreased when the intensity declined.

Low-altitude clouds are significant because they especially shield the Earth from the sun to keep us cool. Low cloud cover can vary by 2% in five years, affecting the Earth's surface by as much as 1.2 watts per square metre during that same period. "That figure can be compared with about 1.4 watts per square metre estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the greenhouse effect of all the increase in carbon dioxide in the air since the Industrial Revolution," Dr. Svensmark explained.

The Danish scientists put together several well-established scientific phenomena to arrive at their novel 1996 theory. The sun's magnetic field deflects some of the cosmic rays that penetrate the Earth's atmosphere, and in so doing it also limits the immense amounts of ions and free electrons that the cosmic rays produce. But something had changed in the 20th century: The sun's magnetic field more than doubled in strength, deflecting an extraordinary number of rays.
Well that should be more than enough to keep the deniers and sceptics busy for a while.


A paper by Dr. Svensmark. This appears to be one of his earlier papers on the subject (no date given) and not the results published in 2006.

Another Svensmark paper [pdf] Dec. 2006

A paper by Jan Veizer [pdf] on climate over geological time.

More updates:

Empirical evidence for a nonlinear effect of galactic cosmic rays on clouds [pdf]

The possible connection between ionization in the atmosphere by cosmic rays and low level clouds [pdf]

Cosmic Rays and the Evolution of Earths Climate During the Last 4.6 Billion Years

Low cloud properties influenced by cosmic rays

The Sun is More Active Now than Over the Last 8000 Years

Solar Resonant Diffusion Waves as a Driver of Terrestrial Climate Change

Galactic Cosmic Rays and Insolation are the Main Drivers of Global Climate of the Earth

Reader linearthinker has a post up on his blog about the politics behind the science with reference to the IPCC and Dr. Svensmark.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

More Uncertain

Here is a nice bit about Michael Mann of the climate hockey stick graph fame. [bolding is mine]

Perhaps the most damage to Michael Mann's credibility came from Michael Mann himself in his 2006 testimony before a congressional oversight committee where he stated, "Hundreds of scientists work in this field and we are a competitive bunch. We compete for scarce research dollars, academic recognition and professional standing." He further testified that the word "likely" only carried a "65% probability" and that his work in 1998 that was accepted by the IPCC was temperature reconstruction in its infancy. If anything in his 2006 testimony is valid, it is that most studies in the seven years since "...using different data and different statistical methods have re-affirmed...Northern Hemisphere warmth appears to be unprecedented over at least the past 1,000 years."

What Michael Mann and his supporters never mentioned is that solar activity is also unprecedented for the past 1,000 years and this was known to science at that time. What was not known to science at that time is that solar activity is actually unprecedented for the last 11,000 years. (Solanki et al. 2006)
So who else comes up with that 65% number? Nir Shaviv.
Evidently, we do not know the total Anthropogenic forcing. We don't know its sign. We also don't know its magnitude. All we can say is that it should be somewhere between -1 to +2 W/m�. Sounds strange, but we may have actually been cooling Earth (though less likely than warming). It is for this reason that in the 1970's, concerns were raised that humanity is cooling the global temperature. The global temperature appeared to drop between the 1940's and 1970's, and some thought that anthropogenic aerosols could be the cause of the observed global cooling, and that we may be triggering a new ice-age.
Let's see. A forcing range of 3. A likely positive value of 2 (at most). Two divided by 3 in percent is 66.7%. Hey! That looks a lot like 65%.

So why all the uncertainty? My crystal ball is cloudy. However, Nir to the rescue.
There is however one HUGE drawback, because of which GCMs are not suited for predicting future change in the global temperature. The sensitivity obtained by running different GCMs can vary by more than a factor of 3 between different climate models!

The above figure explains why this large uncertainty exists. Plotted are the sensitivities obtained in different GCMs (in 1989, but the situations today is very similar), as a function of the contribution of the changed cloud cover to the energy budget, as quantified using ΔQcloud/ΔT.

One can clearly see from fig. 1 that the cloud cover contribution is the primary variable which determines the overall sensitivity of the models. Moreover, because the value of this feedback mechanism varies from model to model, so does the prediction of the overall climate sensitivity. Clearly, if we were to know ΔQcloud/ΔT to higher accuracy, the sensitivity would have been known much better. But this is not the case.

The problem with clouds is really an Achilles heel for GCMs. The reason is that cloud physics takes place on relatively small spatial and temporal scales (km's and mins), and thus cannot be resolved by GCMs. This implies that clouds in GCMs are parameterized and dealt with empirically, that is, with recipes for how their average characteristics depend on the local temperature and water vapor content. Different recipes give different cloud cover feedbacks and consequently different overall climate sensitivities.
So what does he mean by small spatial scales? It is on the order of kilometers. Pretty big and hard to miss? Well no. The models are based on chunks 250 kms on a side. I don't know what temporal scales the models operate on but it is probably a similar situation to allow the simulations to be computed in a reasonable amount of time.

Supposedly, despite all this uncertainty, the models can be made to predict the past. How can this be? Simple, you adjust other parameters and feedbacks and lags until with your chosen number for the cloud effect you get outputs that look like the past. How relevant is this for the future? Not very. Because there is no way to tell if you got things right and the further in the future you look the more likely the model is to diverge from reality.

Commenter Froblyx on this post at Classical Values has an interesting point about determining the value of models.

The way to establish that the system of equations really does describe reality is to compare its results with reality. The better the match, the more confidence we have in the results.

That is a valid point if we KNOW all the parameters involved and include them all.

Then you test it by introducing peturbations in the real world and see if the results follow the model.

Since we can't disturb just one element of the real climate system and follow the results we have to assign values to the various sensitivities and see if the what happens in the future is correct. Yet we are not sure of our models because of ALL the interactions involved. We may have assigned incorrect values to the interactions let alone the things we think we know well.

We currently have models that do not include the solar variation of about .5% over 300 years and the cloud/solar magnetism/cosmic ray effect. We know apriori that the values assigned to various interactions that simulate past behavior are WRONG since they do not include these effects. In addition the latest better models (much better than 10 years ago we are told) have not been around long, so we can't be sure that they model the future well because we do not have much future to test them against.

So to be sure the models are correct we should wait a while.

BTW frob, global temperatures have been declining since 1998. Do the models tell us why? Do they expain the anamolous year of 2004 when temperatures spiked? In other words do the models produce noisy data the way the real world does? Or is it all averaged and smoothed? i.e. a rough approximation?

To get the models to run in a reasonable amount of time we have chunked the earth's surface into segments 250 kms on a side. Is this good enough to get the required accuracy? As Nir points out above. Not likely.

An excellent model of an engineered servo system where all the inputs and outputs can be measured to within .1% can come within +/- 1% of real world behavior. Can the climate modelers with their much more complex system come within that range of error? They claim a model error band of .5% from a measurement series where at best (at least until recently) the error band is around .2% for at around 70% of the data and possibly worse since I have seen no reports on how instrument calibrations might affect the measurements over the last 100 years.

Even in the best case of .2% data error that hardly gives much confidence in the .5% model error band (+1.5 to +4.5 deg C change predicted to a roughly 300 deg K base). Normally you want data that is at least 3X as good as the signal you are looking for and the preference for reliable results is 10X the signal to make sure you are not measuring noise. Basically what all this means is that the estimated signal is not far from the noise level of the data. In fact if you look at the figure referenced above it is not impossible that the estimated signal is equal to the noise level.

Pick a number is not science. Science is when you have real data of the required accuracy and known relations between inputs and outputs. i.e. the equations are fixed by scientific understanding, thus known in advance of any predictions (even of the past) and they make reliable predictions without having to adjust the models.

Let me touch on the servo question again. You do not have 13 models of a servo system all making varying predictions. The science of servo systems is well understood. There is one model.

As I have shown we have no such apriori model for clouds. Heck, we are not even sure of the sign let alone the magnitude. Plus we know for sure that the solar magnetic influence on clouds is not in the models because that understanding was only made public within the last year.

And that is only one of many problems in the models. Take this one mentioned by Dr Theodor Landscheidt of the Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity with reference to the global mean temperature:
The cyclic variation in the data cannot be explained by general circulation models in spite of the entailing great expense. There is not even an attempt to model such complex climate details, as GCMs are too coarse for such purposes. When K. Hasselmann (a leading greenhouse protagonist) was asked why GCMs do not allow for the stratosphere's warming by the sun's ultraviolet radation and its impact on the circulation in the troposphere, he answered: "This aspect is too complex to incorporate it into models"
You have to wonder what else they are leaving out.



Tuesday, May 22, 2007

It Is Uncertain has an interesting report on the variability of the solar constant (them scientists are really good with the non-sequiturs).

In what could be the simplest explanation for one component of global warming, a new study shows the Sun's radiation has increased by .05 percent per decade since the late 1970s.

The increase would only be significant to Earth's climate if it has been going on for a century or more, said study leader Richard Willson, a Columbia University researcher also affiliated with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The Sun's increasing output has only been monitored with precision since satellite technology allowed necessary observations. Willson is not sure if the trend extends further back in time, but other studies suggest it does.

"This trend is important because, if sustained over many decades, it could cause significant climate change," Willson said.

In a NASA-funded study recently published in Geophysical Research Letters, Willson and his colleagues speculate on the possible history of the trend based on data collected in the pre-satellite era.

"Solar activity has apparently been going upward for a century or more," Willson told today.

Significant component

Further satellite observations may eventually show the trend to be short-term. But if the change has indeed persisted at the present rate through the 20th Century, "it would have provided a significant component of the global warming the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports to have occurred over the past 100 years," he said.

That does not mean industrial pollution has not been a significant factor, Willson cautioned.

Scientists, industry leaders and environmentalists have argued for years whether humans have contributed to global warming, and to what extent. The average surface temperature around the globe has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit since 1880. Some scientists say the increase could be part of natural climate cycles. Others argue that greenhouse gases produced by automobiles and industry are largely to blame.

Willson said the Sun's possible influence has been largely ignored because it is so difficult to quantify over long periods.
Difficult to quantify. I think that represents the current state of climate science in a nut shell. There are a lot of things difficult to quantify given the current state of climate science. Like cloud feedback for instance. We do not know whether clouds are a positive or negative feedback element in the climate equation. Convieniently it is assumed positive and a value is assigned which makes the effect of CO2 more intense.
A separate recent study of Sun-induced magnetic activity near Earth, going back to 1868, provides compelling evidence that the Sun's current increase in output goes back more than a century, Willson said.
So if we have no data or poor data an effect is ignored.


It then means you have to increase your uncertainty bands. By how much?

Well that is uncertain.

Now all this would be academic except we are basing policy decisions on where to spend real money extracted by force by governments based on models that are clearly inadequate.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Monday, May 21, 2007

Bio Fuels - Starve The Poor So The Rich Can Feel Good

Bio Fuels may be good for corn growers, but they are bad for corn eaters.

Policymakers and legislators often fail to consider the law of unintended consequences. The latest example is their attempt to reduce the United States' dependence on imported oil by shifting a big share of the nation's largest crop – corn – to the production of ethanol for fueling automobiles.

Good goal, bad policy. In fact, ethanol will do little to reduce the large percentage of our fuel that is imported (more than 60 percent), and the ethanol policy will have ripple effects on other markets. Corn farmers and ethanol refiners are ecstatic about the ethanol boom and are enjoying the windfall of artificially enhanced demand. But it will be an expensive and dangerous experiment for the rest of us.
Which is always a danger when you use command and control methods (government) to solve what is essentially a market problem. Balance is lost.

Markets are organic. Command and control is like adding fertilizer to the soil. The right amount can help. Too much and the plant dies.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate is debating legislation that would further expand corn ethanol production. A 2005 law already mandates production of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012, about 5 percent of the projected gasoline use at that time. These biofuel goals are propped up by a generous federal subsidy of 51 cents a gallon for blending ethanol into gasoline and a tariff of 54 cents a gallon on most imported ethanol to help keep out cheap imports from Brazil.

President Bush has set a target of replacing 15 percent of domestic gasoline use with biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) during the next 10 years, which would require almost a fivefold increase in mandatory biofuel use, to about 35 billion gallons. With current technology, almost all of this biofuel would have to come from corn because there is no feasible alternative. However, achieving the 15 percent goal would require the entire current US corn crop, which represents a whopping 40 percent of the world's corn supply. This would do more than create mere market distortions; the irresistible pressure to divert corn from food to fuel would create unprecedented turmoil.
How about that! It amounts to taking better than 35% of the world's corn supply out of the human food chain.
Thus, it is no surprise that the price of corn has doubled in the past year – from $2 to $4 a bushel. We are already seeing upward pressure on food prices as the demand for ethanol boosts the demand for corn. Until the recent ethanol boom, more than 60 percent of the annual US corn harvest was fed domestically to cattle, hogs, and chickens or used in food or beverages. Thousands of food items contain corn or corn byproducts. In Mexico, where corn is a staple food, the price of tortillas has skyrocketed because US corn has been diverted to ethanol production.
Mexicans are going hungry so American Greens can feel good about their oil consumption. I wonder what effect that will have on our illegal immigration problem? We all want to help the environment. The moral question is: should we make the poor of the world suffer so greenies can feel good?

What we need is some alternative crop such as switch grass or even trees that will not take crops out of production. The problem with such non food crops is that at the present time there is no good way to convert cellulose to ethanol. There are micro-organisms that scientist are working on to make the process economically viable. We are not there yet. In the mean time what should be done?
American legislators and policy­makers seem oblivious to the scientific and economic realities of ethanol production. Brazil and other major sugar cane-producing nations enjoy significant advantages over the US in producing ethanol, including ample agricultural land, warm climates amenable to vast plantations, and on-site distilleries that can process cane immediately after harvest.

Thus, in the absence of cost-effective, domestically available sources for producing ethanol, rather than using corn, it would make far more sense to import ethanol from Brazil and other countries that can produce it efficiently.
However there is a domestic tariff of 54¢ a gallon on imported ethanol to prop up American corn prices and corn producers. What we are seeing is what happens when governments interfere with the organic adaptations that markets provide. If we are going to mandate ethanol fuels we should at least allow all suppliers into the market on an equal footing. Then the low cost producer wins the day, rather than the most politically connected producer.

Oh, well.

We see this so often. When two government agents get together you can figure the intelligence of their proposal by subtracting the IQ of the less smart from the IQ of the most smart. Once you get three or more of them together you are in negative territory. We have 535 Congress critters in America. It is not hard to figure out the intelligence behind any proposals or laws coming from that body. Just do the math.

H/T Instapundit

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Al Be Doh!

Terrible pun. About what you ask? Al Gore and the Climate Menace. It is my way of saying - Al is not too smart, but saying it in a way that segues into the topic at hand. Which is: what is the maximum possible temperature of the earth and are we near it? Which is all tied up with Maxwellian thermal distributions, the Stephan-Boltzman Law, Planck's Law, and albedo (get it? al be do). Which will all be explained shortly.

My friend Eric sent me this interesting piece that asks an important question. What is the maximum temperature of the earth? Which is why the above science comes into play.

Black bodies

A black body absorbs all of the light that reaches it. It has an absorptivity of 1. Thermodynamics states that objects at thermodynamic equilibrium radiate as much energy as they receive. The Stefan-Boltzmann equation describes the energy flux as it relates to temperature for a body in thermodynamic equilibrium:

S= σ T4
Simplified the energy radiated by a perfect radiating body goes up as the fourth power of the temperature of the body. An interesting and important point is that a perfect radiator is also a perfect absorber. An absorbtivity of 1 is equal to an albedo of 0. Conversely an absorbtivity of 0 is equal to an albedo of 1. (1 - absorbtivity = albedo)

Which brings us to the next point:
Postulate 1: The average temperature of a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with an external energy source can never exceed the temperature of a black body in the same environment.
This is true for a number of reasons. One of which is the conservation of energy. If you have two black bodies in the same environment and one was hotter than the other you could get energy out of such a system by absorbing heat at the higher temperature and rejecting it at the lower temperature. Now if you took that energy and re-injected it into the black body you should be able to make the temperature of the black body rise thus getting even more energy out of the system. Perpetual motion. i.e. it can't happen. So a black body in thermal equilibrium with a source is going to have a temperature defined by the source and its distance from the black body.
Postulate 2: The maximum temperature of a body in thermodynamic equilibrium with an external energy source can never exceed the temperature of black body in the same environment.
So neither the average nor the maximum can exceed the black body temperature. Other wise you could get perpetual motion from black bodies. So you think a perfect reflector would help? Nope. Perfect reflectors do not radiate energy. You can't pump energy into a perfect reflector in thermal equilibrium. Because if such a thing was possible the temperature would rise without limit. Then you could extract thermal energy from it by rejecting the heat to a black body. You could take the energy extracted and use it to raise the temperature of the white body making even more energy available. i.e. perpetual motion. Not going to happen.

One other important point. A perfect white body couldn't absorb ANY heat because its temperature would become infinite if you continued to pump heat into it. Another little stumbling block.
Postulate 3: The greenhouse effect can never produce a temperature that is higher than the temperature of a black body in the same environment
If it could it would violate thermodynamics principles and we could in theory have a perpetual motion machine. Not going to happen.

So there is a maximum temperature that the earth can reach no matter how many zillions of tons of green house gasses are pumped into the atmosphere.

So the question is what is that temperature?
It should now be clear that the maximum temperature of Earth can be no higher than the maximum temperature of an equivalent black body. We will now try to evaluate what that maximum is. For simplicity, all values and graphs have been obtained from Wikipedia unless otherwise stated.

The moon is quite close to a black body. It is estimated to have an absorptivity of 0.88. Conveniently the moon is nearly in the same environment in space as the Earth. The maximum temperature found on the moon is approximately 390° K. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann equation described earlier the maximum flux on the moon is

αS = σ T4

which for our values gives a flux of 1491 w/m2. Already we have a problem. The flux on Earth from the sun as measured by satellites is widely reported to be around 1366 w/m2, or significantly lower. Why the discrepancy? It is interesting to note that even with only these three elements, moon data, sun data, and the Stefan-Boltzmann equation, we end up with slightly inconsistent results, which may give us some insight into the level of uncertainty in the data that still remains in this area. Since we are interested in the maximum temperature we will take the maximum value of 1491 w/m2.

The earth is approximately spherical and receives light from the sun on a cross-sectional area of a circle, but radiates thermal energy from the area of a sphere. The ratio of the spherical area to the circular area is 4. Dividing the incoming energy flux by 4 gives the Earth an approximate maximum temperature of 285° K. Again we have another inconsistency as this maximum temperature is below the widely reported global average temperature of 288° K. Also the earth has an uneven distribution of temperatures and therefore an uneven distribution of flux, the end result of which would be to lower the average temperature even more. Still the result is quite close and it suggests that the Earth is behaving very closely to a black body and is operating very close to its maximum possible temperature.
Which leads to a restatement of the last bit as a postulate:
Postulate 4: The earth is operating very close to its maximum possible temperature.

Again, this will cause many to pause as it goes against the conventional wisdom. However we will attempt to provide two pieces of evidence to support this case:

- ice ages and the runaway greenhouse effect

- climate variability/stability
So let us look at the ice age data. Specifically the interglacial periods (like now) when the earth warms up after an ice age. What is postulated is that when an ice age ends the earth's temperature rises rapidly to a maximum (due to positive feed backs) and stays there with very little fluctuation in termperature while during the ice age phases the fluctuations are significant. Which would mean that the earth's albedo (reflectivity) varies a lot during ice ages, and not very much during warm periods.
The most likely cause of the ice ages is due to fluctuations in the intensity and the distribution of solar radiation caused by changes in the tilt in the Earth's axis. This theory was first described by the Serbian scientist, Milutin Milankovitch, in 1938. There are three major cyclical components of the Earth's orbit about the sun that contribute to these fluctuations: the procession (tilt of the Earth's axis), as well as Earth's orbital eccentricity and orbital tilt. The exact cause and effect relationship between orbital forcing and ice ages is still a matter of great debate, however the match of glacial/interglacial frequencies to the Milankovitch orbital forcing periods is so close that orbital forcing is generally accepted. Other theories include greenhouse gas forcing, changes in the Earth's plate tectonics, changes in solar variation, and changes in absorptivity due to dust and gases spewed by volcanoes.

The exact cause of the ice ages is not critical to our discussion other than to note that the Earth appears to have two metastable states: an ice age period and a warm period.
I refer to the metastable states as "strange attractors" from chaos theory. What that says is that you have a local maximum or minimum in an unstable system and once you are far enough from the "strange attractor" the system will tend to rapidly switch states. When a system oscillates between two such states it is said to be bifructed. Which is just a fancy way of saying two stable states. In electronics we have a circuit that does that. It has positive feedback in both directions once you are far enough from a stable input. The circuit is called a Schmidt trigger. Once the input gets out of the stable region it switches rapidly to the alternate stable state. Positive feedback all the way.
Postulate 5: The transition from Ice Age to warm period and back to Ice Age is achieved through a runaway greenhouse effect and its opposite

Another remarkable feature is the relative stability of the climate at the peak of the warming cycle. The variability of temperatures during an ice age is relatively high compared to periods of warming. However this makes perfect sense if one considers the climate as being "pinned" to the upper limit during the warm periods and therefore remaining stable due to strong positive feedback. At the upper limit, the major driver of upper temperatures becomes solar input as this is the only thing remaining that can effectively increase temperatures.
Once your effective albedo is close to zero the temperature is only determined by black body considerations. No amount of additional radiation capture within the body is going to change the temperature. There is no kind of heat trap we can devise which will increase the temperature above the black body limit. In fact we can only raise the temperature locally on such a black body by concentrating the energy from a given area on a smaller area. However that will increase the radiation from the hotter area and the average temperature of the body will in fact decline, because radiation goes up as the fourth power of temperature. You can't beat mother nature. In fact here is a good point to give the three laws of thermodynamics in laymans terms:

1. You can't win - there is no way to beat the system, energy is conserved
2. You can't break even - there will always be losses
3. You can't get out of the game - the rules always apply

When it comes to thermal systems there can never be any such thing as perpetual motion. There is always a maximum of work that can be extracted from two bodies at different temperatures. Sadi Carnot figured that one out. The work out can only be equal to the heat energy in if the cold body that the heat is rejected to is at absolute zero. Otherwise there will be a certain amount of heat that must flow into the cold body. That heat is unavailable for work.
Postulate 6: The runaway greenhouse effect ends when the Earth has achieved a effective absorptivity as close to unity as it can get after which the earth becomes insensitive to further positive feedback changes.

Can there be a tipping point or a runaway greenhouse effect from a sudden injection of CO2/methane or the melting of ice?

No there can not. The Earth has already experienced a runaway greenhouse effect thousands of times during its lifetime. Each time it is run to the maximum possible level that it can, bringing us the much more habitable climate that we have today. It is not possible for there to be a tipping point to spiral us into a third metastable climate state that has not been shown to exist during the entire history of Earth. Barring a sudden change in input from the sun, changes in climate upwards can only occur in a smooth, slow and limited fashion. A tipping point is possible, however, towards another ice age as has happened thousands of times before.
So there you have it. The green house gasses (mainly water vapor) have done their job in changing the albedo of the earth to close to zero. The albedo can never go below zero no matter how much CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere.

Ian Schumacher, the author of the bits quoted above, follows a little different argument than I do on the matter of thermodynamics. The results are the same. Which means you should compare what I said to what Ian has written. In other words - read the whole thing.

H/T Eric of Classical Values

Nuke Plant Data Storm

Instapundit links to a story about a Nuke Plant going offline due to a data storm.

The device responsible for flooding the network with data appears to be a programmable logic controller (PLC) connected to the plant's Ethernet network, according to an NRC information notice on the incident. The PLC controlled Unit 3's condensate demineralizer -- essentially a water softener for nuclear plants. The flood of data spewed out by the malfunctioning controller caused the variable frequency drive (VFD) controllers for the recirculation pumps to hang.
It is what you get when you use a non-deterministic (crash) protocol like Ethernet instead of a time division protocol like MilStd 1553 or an arbitrated protocol like CAN Bus. The fundamental problem is Einstenian. What is simultaneous when signals only travel at the speed of light? Unless you provide each unit on the bus with its own time slot (1553) or arbitrate addresses as they go down the bus (CAN) you will have problems when two transmitters try to start at the same time (which assumes absolute time at a certain level - a problem that need ony concern engineers)

Crash buses are not allowed in critical systems in aircraft design.

In a nuke plant all systems are critical. Three Mile Island started with a valve malfunction and a burnt out lightbulb in a relatively non-critical part of the plant.

So why don't people stick with the more deterministic buses? There is a lot of design and documentation overhead with such an approach. Every time a new element is added to the bus the bus control software must be at minimum inspected and at most totally reconfigured. In addition the peak data handling capacity of such busses is not as good as Ethernet especially over longer distances. The alternative of course is to continue on with the plug and pray approach. I might note that all wireless busses are essentially crash busses. They will not help much.

BTW I have nuke plant operational experience (US Navy) and aircraft electrical systems design experience (Sundstrand Aerospace).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Oil Companies Run By Crooks

I hate the oil companies.

They were selling gasoline last year for less than they are selling it for this year. Why? Obviously they could have gotten a higher price since we are paying it now. They need to be investigated for cheating their shareholders.

The crooks.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Reynolds Likes Murders, I Like Sex

Glenn Reynolds seems to like to do tabloid bits (who doesn't?) and today he is featuring the CHANNON CHRISTIAN / CHRISTOPHER NEWSOME KILLING, a particularly gruesome job, with black criminals and white victims. BTW note how important it must be to be ALL CAPS. Well at least he didn't go the extra step and BOLD IT as well.

Murders are so ugly, so instead I'm going to do a non-rape of strippers case with home video of nude strippers toying with college kids. Lots of alcohol. And two completely different views of the events of the fateful evening. One view is the stripper's point of view. The other point of view is of the pledge master (did I forget to mention fraternities? - yep, two of them are involved) who hired the strippers. Yep. Two of them. Sorta like the Duke case, except the strippers are white. Plus lots of geeky frat boys. With that particular insolent affectation that some youth (boys especially) of that age have. Did I mention that there is video? Which is NOT WORK SAFE. OK? Raw Deal: A Question of Consent - 20 minute preview - NOT WORK SAFE. Oh yeah. You get to meet the mother and grandmother of the stripper who claimed to be raped.

Rape is a serious crime and not to be taken lightly. However, there are a lot of false rape claims. Plus, it is a sad but true fact of life that the level of protection for women in that line of work is reduced. Because it blurs the lines of consent/non-consent.

I have watched the preview and I must say that the story is a strong one. Besides which would you rather do for your tabloid fix today? Read about gruesome murders or watch some strippers in action?

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Palestinian Civil War Watch - 16

I haven't been keeping up with the Palestinian Civil War of late. It would seem that an update is in order. It seems that Palestinian National Unity is insufficiently united. Lets start with early yesterday.

Associated Press - May 16, 2007 12:23 AM ET

There's been more factional violence in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian security officials in Gaza City say Hamas gunmen stormed the home of a top Fatah official early Wednesday, killing five bodyguards inside.

Officials say Hamas militants fired mortars at the house of a Fatah security chief (Rashid Abu Shbak) before storming it and planting pipe bombs inside.

The attack comes after a brutal day of factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah rivals in Gaza that killed 15 people. The fighting has forced terrified residents to huddle in their homes.
Evidently among the Palestinians governmental succession is handled the old fashioned way. First you vote. If the vote tallies are incorrect you fight. Obviously some one made a mistake counting. Happens.

I'm not sure how this report meshes with the previous one but it does give some definition to the local color.
Hamas gunmen riddled a Fatah police jeep with gunfire at close range Tuesday, killing eight policemen in the most ruthless round yet of factional fighting, pushing the fragile Palestinian unity government closer to collapse.

Thirteen people were killed on Tuesday. Gunmen in black ski masks controlled the streets and terrified residents huddled in their homes. Israel, too, was briefly drawn into the battle.
I'll get back to the Israelis shortly. In the mean time we have the umpteenth call for a cease fire, a new and improved security plan, plus some minor unresolved issues. Like who will govern.
In the West Bank, Abbas called for the immediate implementation of a security plan that would put all rival forces under one command. However, his call is unlikely to be heeded: the fighting made it clear that the Hamas-Fatah power struggle was never really resolved, despite the formation of the unity government in March.
I said it was a joke then. It is a disaster now.

In other news it looks like general fighting is not the only answer to determining the nature of the next Palestinian Government. Attempted murder on the leadership seems to be a popular sport.
An alleged plot by Hamas militants to assassinate Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was revealed on Thursday as deadly factional fighting resumed in Gaza and Israeli air strikes targeted the violence-wracked territory.

The plot was claimed hours after Abbas called off a trip to Gaza for talks aimed at reaching a definitive ceasefire between fighters from his Fatah party and Hamas that has left nearly 50 people dead and 100 wounded since Sunday.

"Abu Mazen's (Abbas's) visit to Gaza was cancelled after the discovery of a tunnel under Salaheddine Road full of explosives placed by the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades to blow up (his) convoy," said a senior security official, referring to Hamas's military wing.
If he dies who will replace him? Who will the Euros be able to visit when they come to the great nation of Palestine?
An official in Abbas's office confirmed the report but Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Hamas armed wing, told AFP "these reports are aimed at poisoning the atmosphere in Gaza. We deny them completely."
That is so much better than the incomplete denials we get so often from the Palestinians. Or in other word: "It is totally true, but honor demands we deny it. Other wise we would have to admit that we were lying when we invited Abbas for peace talks. Which would be a grevious stain on our honor. After all, we are all honorable men here."

The Israelis who for months have been complaining of rocket attacks coming from Gaza have decided on some active diplomacy to convince the Palestinians that further attacks are not in their best interests.
As the Palestinian crisis worsened, Israeli aircraft carried out four air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, killing six people in retaliation for rockets being fired on Israel from the territory.

The first attack hit the headquarters of a Hamas paramilitary force, killing one person and wounding 30. Barely two hours later, a Hamas fighter was killed when Israel fired on a car in Gaza City.

A house was targeted in another strike that left another Hamas militant dead and a fourth strike on a car in the Sufa area, one of the crossing points between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, killed another three people.

About 15 Israeli tanks also advanced into Gaza near the former settlement of Dugit, a Palestinian security official said.

"Israeli tanks moved about two kilometres (1.2 miles) into the Gaza Strip, near the former (Jewish) settlement of Dugit, and east of Jabaliya" southeast of Dugit and four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the border at its closest point, the source said.

An Israeli military spokesman said only that "some tanks entered the northern Gaza Strip in a defensive move, without going far from the barrier" separating the territory from Israel.

The army also deployed a battery of 155mm artillery facing the Gaza Strip.

Israel's actions threatened to further exacerbate tensions in Gaza, turned into a warzone by five days of battles between rival Fatah and Hamas fighters that has driven the coalition cabinet to the brink of collapse.
The movement of the 155s signals Israely willingness to use counter battery fire on those launching rockets at Israel.

Personally I think the Palestinian National Unity Government is in the same condition as it ever was. DOA.

Here is another little bit about Israeli artillery in the Gaza area.
The decision to return the cannons to Gaza was made on Wednesday, and within less than 12 hours the regiment troops arrived at the area and began setting up a camp in the Gaza Strip.

At this stage, it is still unclear whether the batteries are being used only in order to deter the Palestinians, and whether the soldiers would be allowed to fire shells only after receiving approval from a major-general.
In other words the rules of engagement are fairly restrictive at this time.

Former and perhaps soon to be Israely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a few suggestions on how to deal with the Palestinians. Full siege warfare.
Chairman of the Israeli Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, on Thursday called for cutting the water and electricity supplies of the Gaza Strip, and depriving it of services. He said that fundamental services, basics of human life, should be controlled by the Israeli authorities, in response to the continuation of the launching of homemade projectiles towards Israeli targets.

Netanyahu also expressed his support to a limited Israeli ground invasion into the Gaza Strip; to a limit of around four kilometers from the northern border, aimed at stopping the launch of projectiles toward Sderot and Ashkelon cities.
So far the ground incursions have already happened. I wonder if he is telegraphing Israel's further moves?

I Have Been Designing

I have forgotten politics for the last day or so to focus on designing high voltage power supplies for amateur fusion experiments.

The supplies I'm woking on are based on using common mateials such as transformers from defunct microwave ovens to build Crockoft Walton voltage multipliers using home made high voltage capacitors. I have come up with a fairly simple way to use SCRs to control the ouput voltage and current. Well you know me. I'm a power and control kind of guy.

BTW for those of you who might want to build such stuff. It is extremely dangerous. So be careful out there. Design a set of safety proceedures and stick to them. The life you save may be your own.

Your regularly scheduled entertainment will resume shortly.

I did run across some really fine pictures of giant Tesla Coils in operation. Thrilling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Burn Or Starve

It looks like the biofuels guys have plans for our future. Biofuels are supposed to be the great panacea for the burning problem of the day - man made global warming. Hey not so fast. It turns out biofuels could cause food shortages.

Climate Feedback tells us of the new threat.

Warnings that switching to biofuels as a ‘clean’ energy source could threaten food security and increase deforestation have become increasingly stark this week.

A UN report, released last Monday concluded that, despite offering considerable benefits such as clean energy for millions and the creation of wealth and jobs in poorer countries, biofuel production also has the ability to cause real destruction.

The report warned that increasing production of liquid biofuels, such as ethanol and biodiesel, could increase the price of agricultural commodities with negative economic and social impacts, especially for the world’s poor who spend a large proportion of income on food. It also raised the issue that, where forests are cleared to make way for energy crops, GHG emissions may actually be higher overall from biofuels than from fossil fuels.
Uh oh. Biofuels could make things worse. You mean the answers to our problems may provide more problems than answers?

Some one is going to have to answer for this.

Cross Posted at Classical Values and at The Astute Bloggers