Friday, November 30, 2012

Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 12

Quantum Physics Review
One thing that separates people who are trying to be honest from deliberately dishonest folk is the way they handle facts that counter their belief or knowledge.

Sometimes those challenging facts are new but then again sometimes those challenging facts are old news that has been around for a long time.

This week we had an example of both scenarios from both "sides of the aisle", that is, both a scientist who studies quantum mechanics and a clergy member of a Creationist religion acknowledged relevant facts, and therefore changed their past positions accordingly.

In the religious realm it was TV Evangelist Pat Robertson who shocked some of the fundamentalists he hangs with regarding his statements about the age of the Earth:
Pat Robertson, the controversial televangelist and host of the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club," is said to have stunned many of his viewers on Tuesday when he dispelled the idea -- held dear by many Bibical creationists -- that Earth is only 6,000 years old.


Look, I know that people will probably try to lynch me when I say this, but Bishop [James] Ussher wasn't inspired by the Lord when he said that it all took 6,000 years. It just didn't. You go back in time, you've got radiocarbon dating. You got all these things and you've got the carcasses of dinosaurs frozen in time out in the Dakotas.

They're out there. So, there was a time when these giant reptiles were on the Earth and it was before the time of the Bible. So, don't try and cover it up and make like everything was 6,000 years. That's not the Bible.
(Pat Robertson - Earth's Age). Mr. Robertson's statement is used to help illustrate the purpose of today's post, which is to show examples of how some individuals handle our dynamic human learning process, and handle it well.

Mr. Robertson decided that the evidence should not be denied or ignored, even though he is a member of a group which contains many people who feel that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old.

The import of his honesty is highlighted by the statement that he "stunned many of his viewers" of his TV program by his comments.

That is matched in the scientific community by the statements this week by a well known physicist who indicated that some current theories in quantum physics have been decidely shown to have been quite wrong:
As a young theorist in Moscow in 1982, Mikhail Shifman became enthralled with an elegant new theory called supersymmetry that attempted to incorporate the known elementary particles into a more complete inventory of the universe.

“My papers from that time really radiate enthusiasm,” said Shifman, now a 63-year-old professor at the University of Minnesota. Over the decades, he and thousands of other physicists developed the supersymmetry hypothesis, confident that experiments would confirm it. “But nature apparently doesn’t want it,” he said. “At least not in its original simple form.”

With the world’s largest supercollider unable to find any of the particles the theory says must exist, Shifman is joining a growing chorus of researchers urging their peers to change course.

In an essay [PDF] posted last month on the physics website, Shifman called on his colleagues to abandon the path of “developing contrived baroque-like aesthetically unappealing modifications” of supersymmetry to get around the fact that more straightforward versions of the theory have failed experimental tests. The time has come, he wrote, to “start thinking and developing new ideas.”
(Scientific American, Supersymmetry Fail). What Dr. Shifman said about the pretzel like contortions scientists where having to go through to support an erroneous position (“developing contrived baroque-like aesthetically unappealing modifications”) also goes for those clergy who think and teach that Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs.

It became clear to scientists awhile back that dinosaurs were destroyed by an asteroid some 65 million years ago, well before the time of Adam and Eve set forth even by fundamentalists (see State Crimes Against Democracy).

Like some political science struggles (e.g. "Fiscal Cliff" debates), scientists had to go through some similar gut wrenching "science friction" to arrive at a consensus that challenged and did away with old theories about the extinction of dinosaurs.

The good news is that once those struggles for consensus are in the past, what tends to remain after the dust settles is better politics, better religion, and better scientific data to work with from then on.

Somewhat similar posts on today's issues:  Heretics Deny the Dark Matter of Faith - 3, Message of Science & Religion - Western.

Have a nice weekend.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post is here.

Don't judge too quickly.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Doha, Qatar UN Word Wide Machine

International gatherings are beginning to function like "Going Over The Cliff" gatherings in Washington, D.C. in terms of solving big problems.

The current implementation of meetings to display the heights of human intelligence are being held by The United Nations at a city named Doha in the nation of Qatar (UN Conference Info).

Lots of wide words, reports, books, and speeches will come out of this international conference, dedicated to avoiding:
More than 100 million people will die ... by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.
(Peak Agriculture, quoting The World Bank). So why is that harder than setting the price for a billion barrels of oil, the substance which is causing the problem in the first place?

If you are going over there for the meetings (Meeting Schedule, PDF) be sure to also visit the USCENTCOM HQ, put there in Qatar along with the largest naval base to protect oil resources so as to insure these UN meetings can continue year after year.

Visit Halliburton too, their HQ is just down the street.

No agreement was made between the endangered nations. Some people are and were in agreement with Dredd Blog (COP18 Failed).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Peak Agriculture

Buffalo skulls & buffalo hunters
Does it ever stop?

In addition to global warming induced climate change and rising sea levels, now it looks like we have to also start worrying about "peak everything."

One has to wonder about the sanity of civilization sometimes.

Especially when overpopulation, overuse, and waste begins to put every nation and every person at risk of having to suffer because there is not enough to go around as a result of a century of pure criminal foolishness. 

In an ongoing Dredd Blog series, in one post in that series, we briefly passed over the issue:
In his book "Peak Everything", author Richard Heinberg points out that civilization is effectively running out of all fundamental resources, not just oil.
(The Peak of Sanity). In that series we calculated that civilization reached the peak sanity when it addicted itself to finite resources, even as it accelerated overpopulation, thereby diminishing the finite resources needed for industrial life to continue.

What makes resources renewable are the cycles of the Earth's ecosystem that break down what we have left over following the use of resources, then place them back into the cycle for use again.

But that can't happen once we damage a cycle to the point it cannot recover:
Humanity may soon be approaching the boundaries for global freshwater use, change in land use, ocean acidification and interference with the global phosphorous cycle (see Fig. 1). Our analysis suggests that three of the Earth-system processes — climate change, rate of biodiversity loss and interference with the nitrogen cycle — have already transgressed their boundaries. For the latter two of these, the control variables are the rate of species loss and the rate at which N2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to reactive nitrogen for human use, respectively. These are rates of change that cannot continue without significantly eroding the resilience of major components of Earth-system functioning. Here we describe these three processes.


... biodiversity loss in the Anthropocene has accelerated massively. Species are becoming extinct at a rate that has not been seen since the last global mass-extinction event.


Modern agriculture is a major cause of environmental pollution, including large-scale nitrogen- and phosphorus-induced environmental change. At the planetary scale, the additional amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus activated by humans are now so large that they significantly perturb the global cycles of these two important elements.
(The Damage Cannot Be Undone?). New information is indicating that the phosphate problem is increasingly dangerous:
If you wanted to really mess with the world’s food production, a good place to start would be Bou Craa, located in the desert miles from anywhere in the Western Sahara. They don’t grow much here, but Bou Craa is a mine containing one of the world’s largest reserves of phosphate rock. Most of us, most days, will eat some food grown on fields fertilized by phosphate rock from this mine. And there is no substitute.

The Western Sahara is an occupied territory. In 1976, when Spanish colonialists left, its neighbor Morocco invaded, and has held it ever since. Most observers believe the vast phosphate deposits were the major reason that Morocco took an interest. Whatever the truth, the Polisario Front, a rebel movement the UN recognizes as the rightful representatives of the territory, would like it back.

Not many people would call phosphate a critical issue or one with serious environmental consequences. But even leaving aside the resource politics of the Sahara, it is an absolutely vital resource for feeding the world. It is also a resource that could start running low within a couple of decades — and one we grossly misuse, pouring it across the planet and recycling virtually none of it.
(Phosphate: A Critical Resource Misused and Now Running Low). Militants have control of a critical resource, therefore it is not unlikely that a larger nation will invade to "stabilize" access to the resource.

The nitrogen cycle has not doing very well for a long time either:
Of 80 million tons spread onto fields in fertilizer each year, only 17 million tons gets into food. The rest goes missing. This is partly because the fertilizer is wastefully applied, and partly because the new green-revolution crops developed to grow fat on nitrogen fertilizer are also wasteful of the nutrient. The nitrogen efficiency of the world’s cereals has fallen from 80 percent in 1960 to just 30 percent today.

Artificial nitrogen washes in drainage water from almost every field in the world. It is as ubiquitous in water as man-made carbon dioxide is in the air. It is accumulating in the world’s rivers and underground water reserves, choking waterways with algae and making water reserves unfit to drink without expensive clean-up.

Most of the man-made nitrogen fertilizer ever produced has been applied to fields in the last quarter-century.
(The Nitrogen Fix). The cost for paying the piper should this abuse continue is millions of deaths:
More than 100 million people will die and global economic growth will be cut by 3.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030 if the world fails to tackle climate change, a report commissioned by 20 governments said on Wednesday.
(Reuters, emphasis added). This is as serious as a 100 million heart attacks.

The Doha, Qatar climate change talks need to get real and do it fast.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Politics Makes Strange Duplicities - 2

Will the real Sarah please stand up?
On this date in 2009 Dredd Blog noted an interesting bit of trivia.

Sarah Palin met a person who could have passed for her twin sister.

String theory anyone?

Anyway here is the text of that post on this date in 2009:

There is a story out that Sarah Palin met a look-alike (not Tina Fey) during her book tour.

It was purported to have happened near a town in the Appalachians, where two fans were waiting in line to purchase a copy of her book.

Is there a possibility that the Sarah Palin twin and Sarah Palin also have similar looking twin fans?

She asked the two fans, pictured below, why they were only buying one copy of the book.

They told her they could not read but had heard a lot of good things about her.

The two fans of Palin are "clean coal" lobby activists who were also seeking to find out if Palin's "spill baby spill" environmental policy would be compatible with their "flatten baby flatten" mountain top coal mining policy.

It is not clear whether or not the story is just a rumor, but evidently the two fans of Palin are also birther / tea baggers who were asking Palin if she would read her book to them, since they are such avid supporters of her presidency.

They were startled when the "other Palin" came into the store, surmising that either there were now two Palins or their moonshine still had become contaminated.

So, being extremely superstitious, they both ran from the store yelling something mavericky, while heading straight to the local church.

At the church they swore off moonshine and were saved, then hit the rogue campaign trail looking for Joe / Joe the Plumber, who wants Sarah's look alike to run as Vice Sarah.

Now if Paul Ryan would just do the same thing ...

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Government of MOMCOM: Wartocracy - 3

"The Fiscal Cliff" is Wartocracy Propaganda
In this series Dredd Blog has been focusing on the evolution of the government and the nation from once being generally a peaceful, helpful nation into being a Wartocracy, that is, a warmonger nation.

In the first post of this series we used the word "wartocracy" to indicate a type of government.

In the second post we looked at the many forms of government, adding "Wartocracy" to the list, pointing out that the U.S. did 78% of global arms sales in 2011, and that this is so because the U.S. government is subservient to The International Private Empire, a global plutocracy:
Simply put, a wartocracy is a form of government where an elite are in the business of making weapons and all manner of "goods" and "services" that depend on a large military complex in order to financially survive, in order to maintain and increase the wealth of that elite.

Not only that, the vast military complex must "grow" continually to satiate the increasing greed and increasing lust of the wartocracy.
(The Government of MOMCOM: Wartocracy). The U.S. spends more on imperialism and militarism than the other industrialized nations combined (see e.g. Worldwide Network of US Military).

In another series Dredd Blog pointed out the worldwide scope of military operations, and the growing ideology of military intervention in other nations without U.N. or congressional debate:
Somewhere on this planet an American commando is carrying out a mission. Now, say that 70 times and you’re done ... for the day. Without the knowledge of the American public, a secret force within the U.S. military is undertaking operations in a majority of the world’s countries. This new Pentagon power elite is waging a global war whose size and scope has never been revealed, until now ... One of its key components is the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC, a clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. Reporting to the president and acting under his authority, JSOC maintains a global hit list that includes American citizens. It has been operating an extra-legal “kill/capture” campaign that John Nagl, a past counterinsurgency adviser to four-star general and soon-to-be CIA Director David Petraeus, calls "an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine."
(The Virgin MOMCOM - 4). The warmonger infection is slowly moving its way into every department of government.

This morph is depicted symbolically by the appointment of men in military uniforms to traditionally civilian positions, such as General Petraeus to the C.I.A., which is becoming paramilitary:
“I would not say that CIA has been taken over by the military, but I would say that the CIA has become more militarized,” Philip Giraldi, a retired career CIA case officer, told The Nation. “A considerable part of the CIA budget is now no longer spying; it’s supporting paramilitaries who work closely with JSOC to kill terrorists, and to run the drone program.” The CIA, he added, “is a killing machine now.”
(The Petraeus Legacy: A Paramilitary CIA?, emphasis added). This is now warmongering on steroids which is bankrupting the American people even as the Plutocracy is being enriched at unprecedented rates.

The current "debate" (actually a propaganda campaign by McTell News) about the phantom fiscal cliff is nothing more than an effort to program the minds of Americans into plundering the treasury by taking the people's money then putting it into the bank accounts of the plunder barons:
These are difficult times for the deficit scolds who have dominated policy discussion for almost three years. One could almost feel sorry for them, if it weren’t for their role in diverting attention from the ongoing problem of inadequate recovery, and thereby helping to perpetuate catastrophically high unemployment.
But the deficit scolds aren’t giving up. Now yet another organization, Fix the Debt, is campaigning for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, even while making lower tax rates a “core principle.” That last part makes no sense in terms of the group’s ostensible mission, but makes perfect sense if you look at the array of big corporations, from Goldman Sachs to the UnitedHealth Group, that are involved in the effort and would benefit from tax cuts. Hey, sacrifice is for the little people.
(Fighting Fiscal Phantoms, Paul Krugman). The fiscal scolds who happen to also be psychopaths, started out their fiasco by claiming that Health Care is the number one enemy of the military (Your Health Is Their Number 1 Enemy?! - 2).

Their madness will not go quietly into the night, so keep up the good fight.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.