Sunday 31 July 2022

That is, and always has been, your actual job.

From Sky News:

A UK-French taskforce is to tackle Channel travel chaos after gridlocked traffic caused hours of hold-ups last weekend - with rail strikes on Saturday and holiday traffic expected to add to the misery.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Supply and demand has a function which shows the lowest petrol/diesel prices within a certain radius of a chosen postcode.

It told me that the garage a few miles up the road had dropped it to 169.9p/litre, so I whizzed over there.

The 169.9p/litre was correct, but inevitably...
a) They had sold out "an hour ago, but we should be getting more in today".
b) The forecourt was full of new arrivals and recent arrivals manoeuvring around the pumps to find one that was still in service.
c) I thought sod it, I'm here now, I'll just fill up with the closest thing to proper petrol i.e. super for 184.9p/litre.

Saturday 23 July 2022

Why "Climate Science" isn't really science (2)

Follow-up to Bayard's post of Wednesday. For sure, some Climate Scientists exaggerate or make false claims, but that doesn't invalidate anything.

For example, nuclear power stations 'work'. They use uranium etc to produce electricity, fact. They also appear to be profitable. We can argue - quite reasonably - about the risks and costs of pollution, safety, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, decommissioning and long term storage etc, but those are not nuclear science issues. Just because some politicians make outlandish claims like them producing "electricity too cheap to meter" does not invalidate the science.

My big bugbear with Climate Science is that it is based on the bald claim that Earth's surface is 33 degrees warmer than it should be based on incoming sunlight.

Therefore, they say, something must be 'trapping' thermal energy in the atmosphere; and that something is Greenhouse Gases (which sometimes includes water vapour and sometimes doesn't, depending what point they are trying to make).

And therefore, if Greenhouse Gases at 'pre-industrial levels' cause 33 degrees of warming, any increase in them must cause more warming (whether linear, logarithmic of geometric). And as a matter of fact, things have warmed up a bit since the end of the Little Ice Age.

The 33 degree claim was originally made, and the calculation explained by Hansen back in the late 1980s and has been Climate Gospel ever since, completely unquestioned, even by many Climate Deniers. Some Climate Deniers have put forward other explanations, some with good pointers, none watertight and some pretty flaky.

So how do they calculate the 33 degrees? By comparing half an apple with an imaginary pear is how. Here are the workings (refer to Stefan-Boltzmann equation to convert between temperature and W/m2):
What are the obvious flaws here?
- They take clouds into account when calculating weighted average albedo of Earth's effective surface (which means that part of the surface that can absorb radiation FROM and emit it directly TO space - oceans/land under cloud cover simply can't, so can be ignored here) , which reduces solar radiation IN to 238 W/m2, but then just ignore clouds from there on.
- They then assume that solar radiation IN is all absorbed by oceans/land. Nonsense, over half is absorbed by clouds, less than half by oceans/land.
- The actual question is: is the effective surface at the right temperature to emit this much (238 W/m2 on average) back to space?
- They skip these this question, come in at a tangent and say that a black body (an imaginary pear) would have to be 255K to emit as much radiation as the effective surface absorbs in solar radiation IN (this is true).
- They compare this with part of the effective surface (half an apple) which has an average temp of 288K (also true), discrepancy = 33 degrees (mathematically correct).
- They then put forward an explanation for the 33 degree difference - it's Greenhouse Gases, and the rest is all built on that - all the pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo like "radiative forcing" and "fluxes" and "effective emitting altitude" and "atmospheric windows" and "computer models" and "positive feedbacks" until your head spins (I know what these all mean. They are all dead ends or working backwards from the wrong answer).

Why not compare a whole apple with a whole apple, and take all its physical properties into account, in particular the low temperature and emissivity of clouds? That seems to be a lot more rigorous to me, so you should consider clouds and cloud-free oceans/land separately when looking at solar radiation IN and LW emissions OUT.

This is the more scientific approach. For sure, it's all rounded and mid-points of estimates and so on, but it follows the general idea based on what information I can glean. I could keep digging and add more and more lines and home in ever closer to an even more robust answer: If you do it properly, you find that Earth's oceans/land and the clouds above them are the right temperature to emit as much LW radiation as they absorb in solar radiation. Sure, the sea level surface is warmer than in the pseudo-scientific calculation, but so what? An aluminium frying pan in the sunshine gets warmer than the pavement it is resting on, that has largely to do with aluminium's lower emissivity (plus/minus dozens of other adjustments). Look at the whole of the real apple and all its physical properties, not just a part of it/them!

[Completely different sets of rules apply when considering the temperature difference between sea level and clouds - the gravity-induced lapse rate; latent heat of evaporation; reflection and re-emittance of of LW between the two; dew points at different absolute humidity, temperature, density and pressure etc etc. I can't cover all that here, but it is irrelevant to the actual topic of 'what gets to space'].

Therefore, I conclude, unless somebody can show why their approach is better than mine, I refuse to believe anything based on the 33 degree Greenhouse Effect, because there simply ISN'T ONE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

Bonus: the above approach neatly explains the alleged Greenhouse Effect (or absence thereof) on Venus and Mars, regardless of the fact that their atmospheres are nearly 100% CO2 - it's the clouds (or absence thereof) wot dunnit.

- I have only been looking into this for two-and-a-half years and 'only' did O-level physics forty years ago, so clearly have plenty more to learn.
- Has the climate changed in many areas over the last century? It would appear so. Has it remained surprisingly stable in other areas? It would appear so. If the clever scientists with their millions of measurements say it has changed, then probably it has. Just because nobody is sure of the real reason doesn't mean that we should latch on to one particular explanation, especially if it based on pseudo-science.
- There are lots environmental, economic and political reasons for using less fossil fuels, sure, but those are quite different topics. For example, I'm against nuclear weapons, but that does NOT mean that I don't accept the science of nuclear fission. I am, in fact, broadly in favour of reducing fossil fuel use for precisely those reasons, but that does NOT mean that I just blindly accept their pseudo-science. We bribe our kids with the promise of Xmas presents for good behaviour; we don't waffle on about Santa's Naughty List. Treat people like adults and they might just behave like adults.

Wednesday 20 July 2022

Why Climate "Science" isn't really science.

Ferreting around on my hard disk, looking for an old document, I found this: The People Versus the Climate Research Unit (CRU) by Willis Eschenbach*, which dates back to 2009. The author describes himself as

an amateur scientist with a lifelong interest in the weather and climate. I’m not "directed" by anyone, I’m not a member of a right-wing conspiracy. I’m just a guy trying to move science forwards.

Back in 2004 Warwick Hughes, an Australian climate researcher who had previously been in cordial contact with Phil Jones, the director of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (UEA, where the whole AGW scam started, emailed Phil Jones, asking to see copies of the dataset that was used to create the CRU temperature record. Phil Jones famously replied:

Subject: Re: WMO non respondo … Even if WMO agrees, I will still not pass on the data. We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it. … Cheers Phil

Now this might seem a reasonable response, but, as Willis Eschenbach points out, can only progress if there is a free exchange of scientific data. The scientific model works like this:
• A scientist makes claims, and reveals the data and methods he used to come to his conclusions.
• Other scientists who don’t agree attack the claim by (inter alia) seeing if they can replicate the result, using the first scientist’s data and methods.
• If the claims cannot be replicated, the claim is adjudged to be false.
Obviously, if the data or the methods are kept secret, the claims cannot be verified. Attacking other scientist’s claims is what what scientists do, that's their job description. This adversarial system is the heart of science.

The importance of the Scientific Method is obvious: if other scientists can't see the original data on which a theory is based, the author of the theory can claim any old tosh and it would be very difficult to prove it wrong, as recent history has shown.

*Sadly, I did not keep a record of where I found this on the internet, but if anyone woud like a copy, I would be happy to email it to them.

Edit: Sobers has provided me with a link.

Friday 15 July 2022

The other side of the UK house price/credit bubble

The papers are full of articles suggesting that the house price bubble might be about to burst soon. Experience tells us that they are jumping the gun and the next bust is due in 2025 or 2026.

What nobody is talking about yet, but will be from 2025 or 2026 onwards is the next financial crisis. I've found a chart here showing that UK banks' balance sheets have expanded by one-third over the past six years (I tried clicking 25 years, but it won't go further back than 2010). That is about 2.5 times GDP, about £65,000 per capita for every UK resident, entirely unrelated to economic growth and highly correlated with house price increases. You can't say which causes which, they are two sides of the same coin:

Wednesday 13 July 2022

Coping with a heatwave

1. Leave all upstairs windows open when you go to bed.
2. When you wake up bathed in sweat at some ungodly hour in the morning, open the curtains and windows downstairs as well.
3. When you finally get up and go downstairs, open front and back doors.
4. If you work from home with fairly flexible hours, learn from the Spanish. Start as early as you can and clock off around midday.
5. Check every hour or so whether it's now warmer outside than inside.
6. As soon as it is (about 10.30 am), close all doors, windows and curtains again.
7. Remain indoors until it's bearable outside (5 or 6 in the afternoon). Apply sun cream before venturing into the garden, the shops, the pub etc, remaining in the shade where possible.
8. Drink plenty of fluids. Don't forget that your body cannot synthesise its own alcohol and you need regular supplements!
9. Open all windows, curtains and back door in the afternoon/evening, front door optional.
10. Shut downstairs windows and doors when you go to bed, because burglars, stray cats etc.

Monday 11 July 2022

Light passing through a pane, a prism and two prisms

Follow up to this post to illustrate the contradictions.

Light going through a pane is easy enough. All colours are bent by the same amount on entering and on leaving, and what goes in = what goes out, which is parallel to the original ray. We also know that light takes the fastest route from source to image (like the "dog crossing a canal diagonally to chase prey some way from the canal bank" problem in maths):
Light going through a prism is easy enough as well. For some reason, longer wavelengths (red) are bent less than shorter ones (blue). You can read this one in either direction - either white light source on left being split into colours, or different colours coming in from the right to merge to white light on the way out (left):
If you add a second prism flipped upside down with a gap between them, the second prism reverses everything back into a single white beam on the way out - the two prisms act much like a single pane with an air gap in it.

But what if the two prisms are polished so perfectly that they are flat on a molecular level, and you move the two prisms closer and closer together until they are 100% touching (forming a single pane). We know what goes in, we know what comes out.
- Do the different colours take different paths (as shown in my rather badly drawn picture below), or do they "realise" that they are being tricked and "decide" that they are actually dealing with a single pane and then all follow the same path (as in the first picture)?
- They can't "know" what to do on entering until they leave again. Or does the fact that light, in its own reference frame, travels instantaneously (if something is travelling at the speed of light, then time slows to zero), play a part here?
- The assumption that they all take the fastest route (in our frame of reference) from source to image breaks down, as the red light (being least bent) must have travelled a shorter distance through the glass than green and blue.
- Or, as I asked last time, is there some mysterious quantum mechanics effect happening on the tiniest level incomprehensible to humans, which means that each photon takes every possible path, has a "think" when it's got there and then "chooses" the best one?

Saturday 9 July 2022

Just Stop Oil... price hikes?

The Just Stop Oil/ XR people don't understand science, but fair enough, they are at least intellectually consistent from there on in. They do shit like gluing themselves to road surfaces to piss off motorists.

For some reason, some people whose interests are diametrically opposite have adopted a similar rolling roadblock tactic.

If you were stuck in the queue behind all this, how would you know whom to rail against? The climate idiots or the tax idiots? (The recent price rises are apparently due to lack of refining capacity, which in turn are partly due to 'green' policies, and little to do with changes in fuel duty?)

Also, I'm looking forward to the day when the climate idiots and the tax idiots organise a joint protest; the rolling road block can slow the cars to a halt, and then the Just Stop Oil/XR people can then sit down across the carriageway and refuse to move afterwards.
The choice of The Haywain for a recent stunt is particularly ironic. In their apocalyptic version, the trees are all dying. In truth, the amount of tree cover in that region has steadily increased over the past two centuries (as anybody who's actually been there will attest), broadly in line with increases in temperatures/CO2 levels. Trees - like most plants - thrive where it's warm and wet (hence 'tree lines').

The climate people flip flop on whether warmer temperatures mean more or less rain - but whichever it is, it is BAD. A dried out river bed is the last place you should build a new road, it will still flood occasionally. There's an old car dumped in the background - so what? That's just fly tipping and wrong anyway. And commercial planes would never be allowed to fly that close together on the same path. Deliciously wrong on so many levels...

Thursday 7 July 2022

"Refraction of Light through Rectangular Glass Slab and Glass Prism"

Here is a great explanation of how to work out what comes out of the other side of the slab/prism. I'm sure he'd get top marks in an exam, and on the basis of 'what goes in and what comes out' we know the result is correct.

But what nobody can explain - a proper physics prof. explains the head scratching in this video - are the striking differences, which appear to be down to weird quantum stuff and the wave/particle duality. And he's just talking about light travelling more slowly through a pane, he doesn't mention prisms (I don't think).

The different behaviour through a pane vs through a prism struck me a couple of days ago. The unanswered questions are:

1. UPDATE. Following Mark In Mayenne's comment, I rethought this one, there is no contradication here.

2. Why is light at all wavelengths bent in the same direction when it enters and leaves the pane (so barring reflections and imperfections in the glass, the image is the same on the other side), but is split by frequency when it enters and leaves the prism (so the image is quite different on the other side)?

3. What would an observer see if he were inside the pane/prism, looking towards the light source? At that stage, the light hasn't been bent again on leaving and the light doesn't 'know' if it's in a pane or in a prism? Would the light be split by frequency or not?

4. With a pane of glass, you can assume that the light behaves as a wave. When waves in water reach shallower or deeper water, they change direction in predictable fashion (regardless of frequency - all light travels at the same speed). Does light behave as particles in a prism? Does that go some way towards explaining the differences?

5. It's a like the 'dog running from A to B via swimming a canal diagonally' problem in maths. The actual calculation is heinously complicated (simplified version here, and even that one stumped a lot of people), but somehow dogs seem to be able to do this calculation by instinct and choose the fastest route.

With a pane of glass, the light (which travels more slowly through glass) takes the route from source to end point along the route that takes the shortest possible time, almost as if it 'knows', or as if takes every single possible route and then 'chooses' the fastest. So does the light somehow already 'know' whether it's entered a pane or a prism as soon as it enters?

The joy of all this is that nobody seems to know and probably never will, least of all me. I guess that's quantum mechanics for you. Light is inanimate, it surely can't 'know' anything, can it..?

Something to think about when you're at a boring event or you can't get to sleep.