Rant of the Year, So Far

Questions For Tim Flannery

Andrew Bolt has up a thread asking for suggestions of what he should ask Tim Flannery next time they meet. There are some great suggestions on that thread, some of which are paraphrased below.

From Andrew’s readers:

  • Are you as stupid as you appear to be on the tele?
  • Scared any children this week, Tim?
  • What measurable statement would you be prepared to stake your reputation on and if wrong, would you ‘retire’?
  • Why aren’t you taking the stairs [instead of the lift]?
  • Have any of your predictions come true yet?
  • Have you measured the emissions produced by this hotel yet?
  • Did your arms get tired flying here?
  • How are the fossilised marsupials coming along, mate?
  • Where is all the water coming from for sea levels to rise by 80m?
  • Did you request a room on the top floor?

The comment that made me laugh (and I’ll warn you, lime cordial coming out of my nose is not fun) was from Boonarga in Queensland. Their observation about Flannery’s reliability?

Ask him for a prediction for the Cup. Then I will know at least one horse to rule out.

I have three questions for Flannery of my own, one of which Margo’s Maid also asked. That question is “At what point did you change your position on nuclear power, and was it influenced by changes in your income stream?”. My other two questions would be “Other than an understanding of scientific research techniques, how does a degree in paleontology qualify you to consider yourself an expert in climatology?” and “What personal sacrifices and life changes have you made to ensure that your predictions regarding climate change are not proven correct?”

I’d bet that he’s stumped on answering all of these questions, and probably many more.


A good summary of what has gone wrong and is going wrong with science.

Posted in Temp. Tags: , , . 4 Comments »

Was Einstein wrong?

I love space mysteries like this.

Being the Trekkie-indoctrinated geek that I am, I’ve often speculated that someday someone will discover a way around Einstein’s theory of relativity (the one that says you can’t travel faster than the speed of light, which pretty much puts the kibosh on ever visiting other galaxies or even solar systems). Things like this, calling into question our admittedly rudimentary human understanding of the universe, gives me hope.

Beyond the edge of the solar system, something has gradually dragged two of America’s oldest space probes — Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 — a quarter-million miles off course. Astrophysicists have struggled 15 years in vain to identify the infinitesimal force at play. The Pioneer anomaly, as it is called, throws a monkey wrench into celestial mechanics.

What could it be? Gravity from an unknown source? Lack of gravity where it would have been expecgted? Expansion of the universe?

Not everything in the solar system adds up, of course. The moon’s actual orbit is off its calculated course by about six millimeters a year. No one knows why. The standard yardstick for length on an interplanetary scale, the Astronomical Unit, grows by about seven centimeters a year. Scientists have yet to agree on an explanation. At least four recent planetary probes experienced such unaccountable changes in velocity as they passed Earth, Dr. Anderson and his colleagues reported this past March in Physical Review Letters.

Or could it be just our imperfect human understanding? After all, who is this Turyeshev?

“We would expect the two spacecraft to follow Newton’s law of gravity,” Dr. Turyshev said, “but they in fact fail to confirm Newton’s law. If Newton is wrong, Einstein is wrong too.”

Now I understand that they might, eventually, find a mundane answer for these questions, something entirely within the realms of Newtonian/Einsteinian physics. After all, if you don’t keep your hand on the steering wheel, your car will drift off-center within a few dozen feet. Photon pressure from the sun, weak gravity from nearby stars, Martian machinations, lack of mother love, all these things might explain the anomaly.

But wait. There’s more.

Then, at JPL in 2002, he discovered 400 computer tapes of Pioneer data gathering dust under a stairwell. In 2005, he intercepted 70 filing cabinets of Pioneer engineering data on their way to the junk heap at the NASA Ames Research Center, at Moffett Field, Calif. The computer files held all of the Pioneer mission data, but they were unreadable.

With no formal NASA funding, almost 6,000 members of The Planetary Society, a space-exploration advocacy group based in Pasadena, Calif., donated $220,000 to translate the antiquated data into a digital format that a modern computer can read. “This is not something that should be brushed away just because it is old data,” said society Executive Director Louis Friedman. Victor Toth, a noted Canadian computer expert, donated his time.

Should NASA be dumping archived information just because it’s old? Isn’t space exploration part of our history, not only America’s but all of mankind’s? Even if it’s routine, unexceptional stuff, shouldn’t some way be found to preserve it, in case someone in the distant future finds a nugget of golden information we never thought of?

Posted in Opinion, WTF. Tags: , . 8 Comments »

Bearfaced lies

The myth of the desolate bear reveals two things about the politics of environmentalism: first, that it’s underpinned by a simplistic, anthropomorphic view of good vs evil, which most of us grew out of before we hit our teens; second, that it frequently bends the facts to fit the fable.
Brendan O’Neill: Bearfaced lies

The article pretty much says it all. I have nothing to add 😉

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