Greenspan, Einstein and Reich

shrekI often receive letters that range from amusing claims that we are overlooking changes in the magnetic field, to tales about how the “weight” of carbon dioxide keeps it “near the ground”. If the writer sounds serious, then I treat them seriously, and do my best to provide a helpful reply. Often, though, I find myself in a pointless debate of the most basic, well-established physical principles. I generally cut off the discussion at this point, because I simply don’t have the time. This can result in a hostile response accusing me of “having an agenda”. Most would call me naïve for bothering to respond in the first place.

But it is possible, after all, that somewhere in that barrage of letters lies a brilliant idea that ought to be heard, and could change the course of scientific history. How to tell the difference? Well, there is a story that we tell in our family that might provide some perspective on this.

The story is about Wilhelm Reich, the controversial Freudian psychoanalyist (1897-1957). Reich was a personal acquaintance of my great uncle, William Steig, creator of Shrek, and illustrator of ones of Reich’s books. Reich thought he had made a major discovery in physics that proved the existence of a previously unrecognized form of energy, which he called “orgone energy”. He had built an “orgone energy accumulator” (basically a box whose walls were comprised of alternating layers of organic material and metal). He had done some careful experiments that demonstrated that the temperature inside the box increased above the ambient outside temperature. He made calculations that (he thought) demonstrated that the increase was greater than could be explained by thermodynamics, thereby proving the existence of an extra source of heat, which he attributed to the mysterious “orgone energy”. He sent these calculations to Albert Einstein, who graciously wrote back to him, showing where his calculations were wrong. Reich then wrote again, allegedly showing where Einstein had made an error. Einstein never wrote back. Some in my family took this as evidence that Einstein was stumped. But most people would conclude that Einstein decided he had better things to do than continue an argument that wasn’t going anywhere. This story has all the more poignancy to my family because my grandfather Henry, William’s brother, died of cancer while trying to cure himself by sitting in an orgone accumulator. I don’t of course, believe that Wilhelm Reich is responsible for my grandfather’s death. But clearly, Reich was wrong, and Einstein was right.

“But wait a minute,” you might say. “You guys at RealClimate are no Albert Einstein.” True enough. But like Einstein, we’re constantly subject to criticism from our fellow scientists. That’s what the process of peer review is all about. It’s not a perfect process, but it does provide an efficient means to separate ideas that have traction from ideas that are going nowhere. Greenspan’s pronouncements about the economy, on the other hand, were not subject to any such process. There might be a lesson in that.

237 comments on this post.
  1. Lance Olsen:

    After the tech bubble burst back in 2000, Greenspan also claimed that central bankers can’t foresee the bursting of bubbles. But if The Economist is any guide, he did get some peer review, and it wasn’t supportive. In a rare move for the Bank of International Settlements — the central bank for central bankers — BIS openly stated during a high-profile meeting at Jackson Hole that yes, central bankers can indeed see burstings coming, which was apparently a diplomatic way of saying that Greenspan should have.

    My take is that he’s done it twice now, and I’m willing to suppose that a little searching might turn up a psychoanalyst willing to diagnosis it as a repetition compulsion :)

    [Response: Of course, this is my fault by bringing up Greenspan, but I actually don’t want to encourage discussion of Alan Greenspan here at RealClimate. The real point of my post had to do with clarifying what ‘theory’ really means, in response to those strange letters I get. My point in bringing him up is that Greenspan used the word “theory” in reference to his own views on the ways markets work. But this is very different than scientific theory (since the former doesn’t rest on anything truly fundamental, like F=ma). A good scientific theory is, consequently, much more resilient to individual events that appear (at face value) to conflict with it.–eric]

  2. Marc Hudson:

    Nice post.
    Reminds me of the well-worn quote (Sagan, I thought, but wikipedia, font of all reliable information tells me that it is Richard Feynman “Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. * From lecture “What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society”, given at the Galileo Symposium in Italy, 1964

    On Reich, I recently read an excellent essay by Martin Gardner, in his collection “The Night is Large” (St Martin’s Press, 1996) on Reich and his battles with the FBI.

    [Response: Thanks for that quote from Feynman. Very appropriate. Regarding Reich, unfortunately for him, he not only was disliked by the pychoanalysis establishment, he was also caught up in the web of McCarthy-ism.-eric]

  3. Neuroskeptic:

    Speaking of Sagan, he did say this, which is rather appropriate :

    “The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

    Wilhelm Reich was an excellent example of someone who was ignored, suppressed and banned by the establishment – and was in fact completely wrong. Something to bear in mind whenever climate change skeptics try to compare themselves to Galileo or other suppressed geniuses.

    I blog about this here for what it’s worth…

    [Response: I like what you wrote, so I thought I’d give it a boost by linking to it again: here.–eric]

  4. David Wilson:

    Zephaniah, not often read … chapter 3, verse 9: For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.

    don’t take this the wrong way – the key phrase is “pure language,” which obviously is something beyond simply gramatically correct :-) and maybe has something to do with your line of thought

    I do appreciate it when you stray from between the lines a bit, thanks.

  5. David Wilson:

    by the way – your site interacts badly with IE – crashes twice and on the third refresh displays properly – that is IE version 7.0.5730

    [Response: I would beg to differ. I think IE interacts badly with our site. Come on Microsoft, get with the program!–eric]

  6. Chris McGrath:

    I found this a useful and timely post and have used it today to respond to a man writing to me with the argument that CO2 is not a pollutant but a fertilizer. As a classic indicator of the modern climate skeptic, he cited the IPCC’s conclusions as authority for the points that he believed supported his arguments, but dismissed the IPCC’s conclusions for points that did not support his arguments.

    It is hard to hold a rational discussion with people who:

    (a) do not listen to what you say; and

    (b) only consider evidence credible if it supports the conclusion they have already reached.

  7. Ray Ladbury:

    Chris McGrath, the fertilizer is to be found in your correspondent’s argument, not in any particular gas. One should never mistake fetid for fertile–a mistake anyone who has hacked their way through tropical rainforest would not make.

    It seems that whenever I’m at a party, if someone finds out that I am a physicist, I wind up explaining that, no, Einstein was not wrong about relativity. People don’t like being told that they can’t go faster than the speed of light it seems, just as they don’t like to be told that they can’t spew greenhouse gasses indefinitely without consequences.

  8. Lawrence Brown:

    In part of Eric’s leading post there’s a statement “You guys at RealClimate are no Albert Einstein.”

    Even Albert Einstein was no Einstein when it came to quantum mechanics. Neils Bohr turned back Einstein’s skepticism several times on certain aspects. Which ought to give all of us pause. If Einstein can be wrong what can anyone expect from the rest of us?!

    However if you’re going to challenge an Einstein you’d better have the goods. Reich didn’t, Bohr did. The same holds true of climate science. If you want to challenge someone with the stature of say a James Hansen, you’d do well to have an excellent grounding on all aspects of this discipline.

    [Response: Very nicely put. -eric]

  9. Tim Curtin:

    Re 6. Chris McGrath

    Well, that really takes the biscuit. I am the one referred to as arguing that “CO2 is not a pollutant but a fertilizer”.

    Readers should know that McGrath refused to respond to any of my detailed notes on his paper “Will we leave the Great Barrier Reef for our children?” or to my accompanying Seminar paper delivered on Tuesday at the Australian National University (covered by WIN TV News), but then pillories me here.

    1. I can cite hundreds of papers demonstrating the CO2 fertilizer effect, including most recently Lloyd & Farquhar (Royal Society, 2008)*. All McGrath does is display his ignorance. It is not necessary for him or me to agree with everything the IPCC says, or disagree. I cited the IPCC favourably when it showed evidence, not when it made false assumptions. Is that a crime against humanity?
    2. I had read his paper very carefully and made very specific comments. He simply rejects out of hand the well-established CO2 fertilizer effect without evidence. He certainly exemplified his own final comment, but offered no evidence to reject mine, that CO2 uptakes are important and should be recognized.
    3. Ironically, Australia’s Garnaut Report does accept there is a CO2 biospheric Uptake and that reforestation etc would absorb CO2, but in his modelling abstracts from this effect, which last year accounted for 5.78 GtC of the 10 GtC of global emissions. The Report admits upfront that CO2 emissions need only be reduced to the level of these natural uptakes of CO2, but in practice the Wigley MAGICC model that the Report (and IPCC AR4, WG1, Chapter 8 ) rely on, ignores them, and thereby produces much more stringent emission reduction targets than are needed. That exaggeration materially reduces the likelihood of acceptance of any targets at Copenhagen next year. McGrath should be grateful for my work which is actually intended to be constructive, by showing that natural uptakes are important and should be allowed to continue, not curtailed, as would result from the 80% reduction of emissions from the 2000 level enacted by the UK Parliament yesterday, to about 2GTC, instead of the 5.78 GtC observed in 2007. My Seminar paper (ppt slides) is at my website (

    Finally it is questionable ethically that McGrath’s paper did not once mention that the 1998 bleaching of corals was due to an El Nino, not CO2 event – but that was not of course to his purpose. In my comments to him I had noted merely that AR4 WG1 admits there is no evidence that atmospheric CO2 levels are directly responsible for the frequency and intensity of the ENSO.

    *Lloyd, J. and G.D Farquhar 2008. Effects of rising temperatures and [CO2] on the physiology of forest trees. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B.

    [Response: With all due respect, having taken a look at your website, it is really easy for me to see why someone might not bother responding to you! The first couple of lines on your web page read “Carbon dioxide is NOT a Pollutant” and “The increase in atmospheric concentration from 280 ppm in 1750 to 384 ppm at end 2007 is trivial”. Both of these are incredibly misleading statements. It is really hard for me to see how you can characterize this as “constructive”. By the way, no one has said that CO2 is *not* a fertilizer. It is well known that there a modest fertilization effect. But the idea that it is significant enough to meaningful counteract anthropogenic emissions is not well accepted, because the evidence isn’t there. –eric]

  10. Mark A. York:

    Wow! Interesting family story Eric. I’m from Maine and my friends lived in Rangely, Maine where Reich lived and died. The estate is a museum, I think is called the Orgone Institute. The plot thickens. A girl friend ca. 1978-81 was what she called, a Reichian. She believed in this stuff, but I just sloughed it off at the time as the BS it obviously is and was. Like many purveyors of failed theories followers of Reich went straight for persecution. He died because he was right and no one would listen. This is age old, but ideas have to be vetted. Einstein knew.

    [Response: For the record, Reich didn’t die for his crazy theories, but rather for his link to communism during the McCarthy era. It’s an especially black mark on the madness of that era, when one considers that Reich was actually very early to quit the communist party when he saw what was happening in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Indeed, I believe it was Reich that coined the term “red fascist.”–eric]

  11. Thomas:

    I wonder if a second defensive line, i.e. smart motivated, former, climate researchers or even laymen like myself could be useful here. At least for those members of the public who are sincere about their belief that they found a hole -as opposed to those that will never see past their own version of ideology. Then rather than totally ignoring the second/third email, they could still get a couple of more iterations of patient explaining from someone who more-or-less knows the issues.

    I don’t know how many times, I’ve carefully explained why CO2 can be a feedback on geologic time, but a driver on anthropomorphic change time scales. It is tiring (usually it is a new person, rather than an old one who will never give up).

    In any case, if you are game to set up some sort of clearing house of second rate explainers, perhaps some of us might volunteer to participate.

  12. Paul Middents:

    I have been experiencing the same problem David #5 reports, with periodic crashes on IE. No other site does this. I thought it was my labtop which uses IE. I’m using Firefox on my desktop with no problems.

  13. SCM:

    Sorry to veer off topic slightly but this is a request that the good folk of realclimate consider offering their perspective on the news about increasing methane levels. The AGU teaser is here: and the paper is out on halloween!

  14. Jim Redden:

    Unique post for Real Climate….

    While his concepts of orgone energy accumulation prove to be personal fantasy and fallacy, Reich is onto something with his systematic concepts of memory linked to emotionally mediated body states. The idea of the transduction of memory into the physical of the body is often observed by practitioners of body work such as yoga. I have experienced vivid memory recall during practice myself that seems to be triggered by physical states of the body.

    In kind, while Ivan Pavlov is well known for classical conditioning, his lesser known field theory of psychic function–in the abstract and different geospatial scales–resembles to the geophysical dynamic processes of weather and chaos theory.

    It should come at no surprise that physics and system thinking has revealing consideration to economics, climate, and mind.

  15. SCM:

    Whoops! I sent a comment encouraging Real Climate to blog on the increasing methane levels papet that seems to be getting a bit of press but I supplied the wrong link. here is the correct one:
    The paper is by Rigby & Prinn in GRL this week.

  16. Tim Curtin:

    Eric: please explain (1) why uptakes of CO2 emissions by the biosphere amounting to 5.7 GtC in 2007, or over 57% of emissions of 10 GtC is not “meaningful”, (2) how much food production would there be with no atmospheric CO2? and (3) why is there such strong correlation between enhanced atmospheric CO2 and food production?

    [Response: I’m sure Eric won’t mind me stepping in with some questions for you instead – 1) why do you keep insinuating that terrestrial and ocean uptake of anthropogenic CO2 is somehow not accepted by mainstream scientists? Indeed it was obvious to Keeling and Revelle 40 years ago. 2) why throw in obvious absurdities? and 3) why do you only selectively apply the phrase ‘correlation is not causation’? and 4) why do you continue to ignore the fact that CO2 is in fact a greenhouse gas, and that if it wasn’t none of this fuss would have ever arisen? – gavin]

  17. Sam Vilain:

    Hi, interesting piece. I’ve recently been challenged to argue against the proposition that CO2 is heavier than air and therefore “falls down” into the oceans. I see you mention that. I’d guess that this is already a pretty well known phenomenon, the extent to which it happens, anyway – and already built into the models. Either that, or there already exist measurements of the relative level of CO2 up into the atmosphere (and CFCs, a much larger molecule which presumably would see more of an effect). Can you point me towards some clue?


    [Response: There are of course plenty of measurements showing that CO2 is well mixed throughout the atmosphere. Google is a wonderful thing. I found an example in Nature after about 2 minutes of searching (click here for the abstract). There is actually some interesting structure to it — CO2 goes UP as you go up in the troposphere, and then down again in the stratosphere. But the variations are small compared with the mean change through time. Why? Well, you’re forgetting about convection! Air goes up precisely as much as it goes down, and it takes whatever it is made of (N2, O2, and yes, CO2) along with it. The only place you can see CO2 “fall” relative to the rest of the molecules is in a perfectly still column in a laboratory. My old advisor used to set things up to get CO2 to diffuse downwards to enrich the 14C content in a sample used for radiocarbon measurements. It took about 6 months to wind up with anything measureably greater at the bottom than at the top. Homework question: so why is the CO2 concentration lower near the ground than it is aloft?–eric]

  18. Aaron:

    The Feynman quote is excellent.

    Greenspan knew about “irrational exuberance”; and, he knew that the executives that he trusted to protect shareholders had succumbed to irrational exuberance in the past. He failed to compare his model with available observations. He had years to make that comparison, and yet he never went back and validated his model. He fooled himself.

    Climate models make assumptions that we know to be false, and yet we continue to use them. Consider the assumptions about the Greenland Ice Sheet in the climate models used as a basis for the IPCC reports. For example, Is the GIS sitting in a bowl or a colander? How much heat is the onshore wind delivering to the lower flanks of the ice sheet? What are the mechanical loads and stress on the foundation ice? And, What heat fluxes over what time span are required to weaken the ice enough for it to move significantly? The models’ assumptions about these factors are not realistic. We are fooling ourselves with climate models and the GIS.

  19. Wynand Dednam:

    While we’re also on the topic of corresponce with Real Climate,

    I’m decidedly a believer in anthropogenic climate change, because even my meager experience of first and second year Physics, as a student of Chemistry and Physics, leads me to that logical conclusion after having read a bit about the subject from experts, like here at RC.

    So, I was rather disappointed when I wrote a letter to RC a couple of months ago and nobody got back to me. I was asking whether someone could comment on climate change in terms of Entropy, and if that were not possible, if they could at least suggest any other sources I could consult.

    I have to admit, I feel even a little more disappointed now that I have seen you guys at RC take time to respond to letters by skeptics who do not even wish to engage you in serious debate.

    I know that you are very busy and my question may seem trivial, but I’m considering a career in Thermodynamics and in particular, its role for Renewable energy technologies and possibly even Economics. I would be very grateful if you could at least point me in the right direction.

    Thank you very much,

    Wynand Dednam.

    [Response: Wynand. Our apologies. We’ll try to take a stab at this. However, I recall your original query, and I didn’t really understand the question. Can you rephrase it?–eric]

  20. Gareth:

    Worth a click – trust me, it has Reichian overtones

  21. Barton Paul Levenson:

    On the CO2-fertilizer effect: This works only when CO2 is the nutrient present in least amount (Liebig’s Law of the Minimum). The lab experiments showing a big CO2-fertilizer effect provided the plants with all the sunlight, water, fixed nitrogen, etc. that they needed. The natural world won’t do that. For most plants, the nutrient available in least supply is water, and with global warming causing more droughts in continental interiors, we can expect biosphere growth to be severely slowed down.

  22. Tim Curtin:

    Thanks, Gavin, for your comment at #16 However I hope you will allow me to say your comments are of the strawman variety.

    [Response: Kettle, meet pot. – gavin]

    1. I am well aware that Keeling & co knew about Uptakes. But the IPCC consistently fails either to report them or to model them accurately. AR4 WG1 at Table 7.1 admits they exist, but as they have NEVER been measured, of necessity reports them as a residual (from Emissions minus change in atmospheric CO2 concentration). But in reality the atmospheric concentration is the residual (or dump, what is left up there after Uptakes). Regrettably ALL IPCC modelling,and in particular its MAGICC model, project Uptakes as the residual between its usually fanciful projections of Emissions and the Atmospheric Concentration. But Uptakes are in reality an Independent Variable, even if NEVER modelled as such. That is why ALL IPCC projections are devoid of value.

    [Response: I’m flabbergasted that you can be so insistent and yet so wrong. Not one of your claims here is correct. Look up the C4MIP experiments for dozens of models that explicitly calculate all these terms. – gavin]

    In particular the IPCC relies on unfounded claims by most of its authors of its AR4 WG1 Chap. 7 (Canadell et al. PNAS 2007) that the “terrestrial sink” is or soon will be “saturated”. They have never explained what would stop the ongoing increasing uptakes of CO2 by agriculture and growing livestock numbers. Each new variety of crops or improved pasture increases the uptake of atmospheric CO2 (and dare I say it, as does switching from moribund old growth timber to dynamic new oil palm). Why did this stop in 2007 as claimed by Canadell?

    I do not deny as you allege that CO2 could be a greenhouse gas, but I do assert that CO2 is demonstrably a fertilizer, as hundreds of papers reporting both actual greenhouse and open field (FACE) experiments with elevated CO2 have shown. The outcome is that every year since the Keeling measurements began in 1958, it is evident that 57% of emissions have on average been UPtaken by the terrestrial and oceanic biospheres (Canadell et al. 2007, Table 1).

    [Response: You keep stating this as if any one was arguing with the fact that the airbourne fraction is about 40%. No one is. You claim (incredibly – in its original sense) that no-one takes this into account and by implication there can be no carbon cycle feedbacks to temperature. Yet the paleo record clearly demonstrates there is. If your participation in blog comment threads is simply to provoke people into calling you names so that you can claim you’re being persecuted, it will work fine. – gavin]

    BTW, McGrath who began this is clearly unaware that without carbonic acid there never would have been any coral reefs.

    [Response: And if there was no carbon, there’d be no-one around to argue about. This is simply juvenile. – gavin]

  23. Tim Curtin:

    #21 Barton Paul L. As ever you are wrong. Check the literature on FACE etc. starting with the latest, Ainsworth et al. Plant, Cell and Environment 2008.

  24. Kevin McKinney:

    Re 22:

    The abstract of the Ainsworth et al seems to provide some support for both TC and BPL: “Rising atmospheric [CO2] is altering global temperature and precipitation patterns, which challenges agricultural productivity,” yet “rising [CO2] provides a unique opportunity to increase the productivity of C3 crops. . .”

    What I am not clear on is the point of the debate. Is TC saying that increased fertilization due to CO2 is going to act as a negative feedback of sufficient magnitude that the problem of anthropogenic emissions is smaller than generally believed? Or just that there is a potential to increase food production, which would be helpful in managing all the other challenges that we are going to face?

    The abstract seems to support the second position, but not the first–that is, the point of the paper seems to be that significant yield increases are *possible*, but require serious agricultural management, including breeding programs, to be realized. By definition, this won’t be relevant to the overall biosphere.

  25. Ray Ladbury:

    Tim Curtin:
    Poison ivy LOVES higher CO2 levels:

    Don’t confuse fetid with fertile. Plants that take up CO2 do not sequester it for very long unless they are hardwood trees, and what matters for us is our ability to grow CROPS more efficiently than weeds. I guess you don’t garden much.

  26. Richard C:

    The Tim Curtin argument is strangely ironic given the nature of the original story.

    [Response:*Sigh*. Yes indeed. To quote myself from the post above, “Often, though, I find myself in a pointless debate of the most basic, well-established physical principles.” I think we’ve arrived there.–eric]]

  27. Michael Le Page:

    #21 and #23

    Barton Paul Levenson is not wrong, though he only mentions only one of the many factors that limit the fertiliser effect.

    Others include the fact that many plants have evolved a trick for concentrating CO2, called C4 photosynthesis, so higher levels make little difference to them, and that in the tropics very high temperatures can impede growth.

    The paper you mention ( ) does not contradict BPL’s point: yes, we can create/breed some crops that will grow better under higher CO2, but only with sufficient irrigation.

    You can read my brief summary of the issues here:

  28. Wynand Dednam:

    Thank you Eric.

    I’ve had arguments with many a climate skeptic, with and without scientific backgrounds alike (arguing with those from the Engineering community can be especially difficult)

    Since my knowledge of Physics and how you guys model climate change is limited for the same reasons you mention in your post (science today is just too complex for a single person to work with all by him-/herself), I’ve not been very successful at convincing people that CC is real. Instead I’ve been “agnostic” about it, usually saying that I accept the consensus (based on my limited knowledge), and also refer people to your website. Many laypeople then dismiss what I’m saying because I can’t “explain” it properly and also dismiss looking it up on the internet.

    We both know that people like that probably fear science because of bad experiences at school or because they were just never interested and prefer to believe what they want to.

    That was one hell of a preamble, sorry… I’ll get to the point:

    I’m looking for a simpler explanation and thought that if I framed CC in terms of Entropy I could at least get some of the engineers to accept its reality. I “think” I explain it better this way:

    Carbon dioxide has been deposited in the Earth’s crust in a very concentrated form via fossilisation over hundreds of millions of years in essentially one direction (correct me if I’m wrong please) unlike the ocean where an equilibrium was more or less established, with the exception of the deep ocean CO2? So isn’t rapidly extracting and burning all that concentrated form of carbon and turning it into dispersed carbon dioxide increasing the planet’s entropy very quickly, thus taking us very quickly closer to thermodynamic equilibrium and ultimately the planet’s death?

    From my limited experience it makes “sense”, but I would prefer the experts to weigh in on it.:)

    Thank you very much,


    [Response: Hmm. I must admit that I don’t understand that article you link to. They are using entropy as a metaphor, not as anything quantitatively useful, as far as I can tell. This is a bit like “chaos” — people in economics talk about it, but they don’t mean what scientists mean by it. And I don’t think the concept of “entropy” is useful in the global warming context at all. For starters, the earth isn’t a closed system, as the commenter below notes, so it isn’t subject to the well known constraint that the entropy of a [closed] system is always >0. But more important than that, thinking of entropy as the “tendency to disorder” doesn’t apply very well to anything except the chemical thermodynamics theory from which it arises. Entropy is really just a theoretical construct (albiet a powerful and important one) that says how these things relate to one another: for example dQ=TdS for a reversible process (say, a piston pushing on a compressible gas). (Here dS = change in entropy, T = temperature, dQ is the change in heat context). None of this is to say you shouldn’t study thermodynamics (or better yet, modern statistical mechanics, which relates classical thermodynamics with quantum mechanics).–eric]

  29. Richard C:

    Wynand #28

    My limited take on planetary entropy.

    I don’t think you can use this argument, because the Earth is not a closed system. Entropic “death” cannot happen whilst the planet receives and emits radiation.

  30. Joseph O'Sullivan:

    This was an interesting post and so are some of the threads in the comments because they demonstrate what science is and how it works. Both Greenspan and Reich had ideas that they believed in, but where not based in science. They didn’t apply the rigorous tests that makes science reliable.

    On the CO2 as pollutant vs fertilizer discussion, roughly half of the photosynthesis on earth occurs in the oceans where CO2 is not a limiting factor. Increasing CO2 emissions are causing acidification of the oceans which in turn is causing serious ecological ramifications.

    This is a bigger issue than some people disagreeing with the scientific community. There are ongoing actions to get CO2 listed as a pollutant in the US regulatory system because of the acidification of marine waters.

  31. Alexander Ač:

    Sorry for beeing off-topic. But regarding the Tim Curtin’s cited paper –
    Lloyd, J. and G.D Farquhar 2008. Effects of rising temperatures and [CO2] on the physiology of forest trees. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B.
    It is quite strange that this paper seems to review future of tropical rainforest in the face of rising CO2 and rising temperature – unfortunately, it completely lacks to mention change in precipitation, which is just-another-very-important (climate change) metric – and it completely fails to mention modelling work of Peter Cox group – that predicts decline in rain forest productivity and growth due to decline in precipitation.
    Put it differently – why should plant physiologists think of positive effect of rising temperature and elevated CO2, without regarding change in preciupitation (which is going to be more and more disrupted)? At least they should mention, that in their review they did not take into account (guite possible) decline in precipitation. But then they would have to admit, that their conclusions are ittelevant.

  32. Christopher Hogan:

    To comment #16, your confusion is that the estimated 5.7GT carbon uptake is not out of this year’s emissions, it’s out of the entire (roughly) 200GT of excess carbon that has built up in the atmosphere since the start of the industrial revolution. So the “57% of emissions” phrase is just misleading. The uptake is about 2.5% of the total amount of “excess” or “disequilibrium” atmospheric carbon. And, totally by chance, this equals 57% of a year’s emissions, this year. If emissions went to zero tomorrow, or doubled tomorrow, you’d still see that 5.7GT uptake, more or less.

  33. Christopher Hogan:

    Economics is a social science, and as such, you can be fairly precisely say why it is different from the physical sciences. First, there are no conservation laws in economics. Second, there are no true experiments, at least in macroeconomics. Third, there are no unchanging underlying relationships between economic quantities. Economic relationships evolve in (largely) unpredictable ways.

    Given that — no conservation laws, no experiments, and a constantly moving target — the real wonder is that economists can sometimes say something useful, not that some political hack like Greenspan claims to have been shocked by the collapse of the credit bubble.

    [Response: Yes, of course a stronger point than “Greenspan wasn’t peer reviewed” might be that “economics isn’t science”. But of course, then one gets into a debate about exactly what science is. For a good take on that, see Gavin’s earlier post on climate modeling.–eric]

  34. Rod B:

    Ray, a quick non sequitur. You said that hardwood trees are the only flora that [significantly, I assume you meant] sequesters CO2/carbon. Is this a timing thing? Corn sequestering carbon in its leaf, stalk and root mass is the thing that makes ethanol less CO2 emitting than gasoline.

  35. Rod B:

    Christopher (32), I can’t follow your math. If in a year 10Gt is emitted and 5.7Gt is uptaken, on an equivalency basis that’s 57% of one years emission going into uptake that same year and it does not matter if precisely one or more of those CO2 molecules was actually emitted from a smokestack 5 years earlier. True?

  36. Jim Galasyn:

    No discussion of Wilhelm Reich is complete without linking to Kate Bush’s “Cloudbusting”:

    (1985, Starring Donald Sutherland!)

  37. Wynand D:

    Richard C. #29

    Thanks for humouring me.:)

    I obviously did not come up with this argument all on my own, but found my inspiration in an article at Encyclopedia of the Earth,, a while ago that discusses entropy and its ramifications for Economics and in particular, indefinite economic growth.

    The article, Energy and economic myths, was written by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen and can be found here.

    It could make the discussion here even more interesting, since we’re on the topics of economics and science. That is, if people are interested.

  38. Richard:

    Has there already been a good explanation of why the temperature in recent years has not increased in the way predicted in the IPCC GCM simulations while the CO2 has continued to increase?

    Figure 3.2, page 46:

    I expect this has already been explained thoroughly elsewhere so maybe someone can just point me to the explanation.

    [Response: Your interpretation of what IPCC projected is incorrect. Interannual and interdecadal variability does not disappear because there is a long term trend. The envelope of model projections for the recent years (discussed here) is easily wide enough to encompass what has actually happened – it has very little relevance to longer term trends. – gavin]

  39. Mike G:

    “I do not deny as you allege that CO2 could be a greenhouse gas, but I do assert that CO2 is demonstrably a fertilizer, as hundreds of papers reporting both actual greenhouse and open field (FACE) experiments with elevated CO2 have shown.” – Tim Curtin – note 22.

    H2O is a “fertilizer” in the same way as is CO2 – both are essential components in plant growth, so if you increase the input of either, you may get an increase in yields. Too much hydrogen monoxide – as in inundation, or simple soil leaching or saturation, however, will result in declining yields. Hydrogen monoxide itself is of course a greenhouse gas. That it, like carbon dioxide, is essential for plant growth is surely utterly irrelevant to the issue of anthropogenic global warming.

  40. forrest curo:

    Reich had made some real discoveries in pyschology, and suffered a great deal because they were utterly unacceptable to his contemporaries. This probably had him functioning in a mode close to delusional.

    As a result (I think) he was interpreting his findings metaphorically without fully understanding that his explanations were metaphorical. Since “science”–mathematical descrptions of physical reality–were what was respected in that time, he had a strong attraction to such metaphors, and believed in them strongly himself. (In this, he was more typical than he could have imagined!)

    If he could have seen the phenomena he witnessed, not as some ‘undiscovered form of energy’–but as effects of his belief in them, he might have made a lot more sense, and needed fewer arguments about fields other people knew better! (Aside from the Power of Denial, do you suppose that some of your opponents here might be motivated by similar confusions?)

  41. Sven Türpe:

    I think you are slightly overstating the role and capabilities of peer review. By no means peer review is supposed to “separate ideas that have traction from ideas that are going nowhere”. Only science as a whole, in the long run, can do so.

    The limitations of peer review as a means of verifying ideas become obvious when we consider contemporary scientific experiements such as those to be conducted with the Large Hadron Collider. Any sufficiently large project will do as an example. There is no way for a small group of reviewers to verify results that are submitted for publication out of such projects. They would need resources in the same order of magnitude.

    What peer review really does is filter spam, which is much more feasible. Reviewers can and should evaluate for each publication how suitable it is as a contribution to the overall scientific process. Is the subject relevant? Are there original and novel aspects? Is the contents presented in a clear and understandable manner? Is there a sound rationale for the choice of methods? Does it make interesting points?

    It is perfectly legitimate for peer review to let pass a paper that contains nothing but wild speculation, which later turns out to be all wrong, if it is properly presented and interesting. It is also perfectly legitimate for peer review to reject hard data that have been produced with all due care, if the data seems utterly irrelevant to the progress of science.

    The implication is twofold: a) what has been published may still be wrong, but not in any obvious way; and b) if done right, peer review does not act as an evil conspiracy to keep unorthodox ideas from being published. Ideally, peer review should catch (simple) calculation errors but let pass a description of a hypothetical orgone accumulator if the description is sufficiently clear and complete for such a device to be built and tested.

  42. Scott Robertson:


    Great post, and subsequent demonstration in comments. I wonder if Tim was brought in by invitation? Surely not. I have stopped having these type of discussions with my rabidly conservative brother-in-law. It was simply fruitless and as someone mentioned earlier he is an engineer.

  43. Steve:

    Wow – I never knew the Kate Bush song was about Reich – Thanks.

    But just as importantly, no discussion is complete without the song “Orgone Accumulator” by Hawkwind (from the brilliant album Space Ritual)
    (you have to turn it up loud, and it helps if you smoke something first. Or at least that’s how I remember it. They were amazing live)

  44. Hank Roberts:

    Eric, a nitpick — very small scale local CO2 variations do occur. Just one cite, plenty more:

    I asked a related question here:
    “… would higher and lower CO2 measurements in a forest, compared to a polar icecap, suggest an actual flow of CO2 going on, out of or into the soil in which the trees are growing?” (re the oak leaf stomatal measurements; authors are participating in that thread, worth a visit).

    Re Tim Curtin, perspective helps“Tim+Curtin”+”Letter+to+Nature”


    Tim Curtin | June 24, 2006 9:00 AM. #48. … what do you understand by “parts per million”? Lesser earthlings like me think it means that …

  45. Kevin McKinney:

    Re 35, I think that the main points are:

    1) Everybody agrees that biological factors are indeed significant to the carbon cycle (every diagram or summary I’ve seen certainly includes them);

    2) The 5.7 GT taken up by the biosphere is better compared to the total carbon cycled annually, not to human emissions which are independent of this uptake. It is not demonstrated that increasing the CO2 will result in anything like a proportionate increase in the uptake when the biosphere as a whole is considered.

    3) Something can be both a pollutant and a fertilizer–dung, for instance. (How far you want to extend this metaphorically, I don’t know. :-) )

  46. Hank Roberts:

    Specific pointer; see this and following comments.
    I hope Tim Curtin has retracted this somewhere, if so I’ll quit asking if it’s still what Tim believes.

  47. SecularAnimist:

    Lawrence Brown wrote: “Even Albert Einstein was no Einstein when it came to quantum mechanics. Neils Bohr turned back Einstein’s skepticism several times on certain aspects. Which ought to give all of us pause. If Einstein can be wrong what can anyone expect from the rest of us?!”

    It is worth noting how and why Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics: it was not because quantum theory failed any empirical test or lacked explanatory value. It was because quantum theory contradicted Einstein’s deeply felt sense of how the world must be (e.g. “God does not play dice with the universe”). Einstein simply could not accept that the world could possibly be the way quantum theory described it.

    This is an attitude that some sincere climate change “skeptics” (as opposed to ExxonMobil-funded deliberate frauds) exhibit: their so-called “skepticism” arises from an a priori sense that human activities cannot possibly affect the Earth system in the way that the theory of anthropogenic global warming describes.

    It is also illuminating to read Charles Fort’s writings on the attitude of some scientists who, as late as the 19th century, refused to believe that meteorites came from outer space, and came up with all sorts of bizarre “rational explanations” for them (including fraud). Their world-view simply precluded the idea that solid objects from space could fall upon the Earth.

    Jim Galasyn wrote: “No discussion of Wilhelm Reich is complete without linking to Kate Bush’s ‘Cloudbusting'”

    Ha! I was going to say that myself. I can’t encounter a mention of Reich without thinking of that beautiful and moving song. I am grateful for this article on RealClimate just for giving me a reason to listen to it again today.

  48. pete best:

    The jury is ultimately out on the nature of quantum mechanics. The Cophenhagen interpretation has been found to be wanting in recent years although the philosophy does not contradict the evidence. It is as Richard Feynman once said, no one understand quantum mechanics/theory.

    As for being plagued by people sending you endless correspondence on perpetual motion machines and pseudo science just ask them if they have their work published in any relevant journal. It works for George Monbiot apparently.

  49. Richard C:

    Wynand #37

    Sorry mate. I tried reading that article by Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen, but had to give up when I realised I didn’t have a bloody clue what he was saying.

  50. Ray Ladbury:

    It is also worth pointing out that while Einstein was wrong about quantum theory, he was at least wrong in an interesting way that advanced the state of understanding of the microworld. Einstein sharpened Bohr’s thinking, and was instrumental in his ideas on complementarity. Bohr once told Heisenberg that when he was trying to sharpen his thinking, he would engage in an imaginary dialogue with Einstein.

    On the other hand, we have the denialists, who have contributed nothing to the understanding of climate. To paraphrase Pauli, their arguments are so bad they’re not even wrong.

  51. Marc Hudson:

    Further to the Feynman quote, and since Monbiot appears in the mix (48), I dug this out of a booklet I put together called “The Great Global Warming Swindle Swindle”- the egregious Channel 4 ‘documentary’ last year.

    Were it not for dissent, science, like politics, would have stayed in the dark ages. All the great heroes of the discipline – Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein – took tremendous risks in confronting mainstream opinion. Today’s crank has often proved to be tomorrow’s visionary.
    But the syllogism does not apply. Being a crank does not automatically make you a visionary. There is little prospect, for example, that Dr Mantombazana Tshabalala-Msimang, the South African health minister who has claimed Aids can be treated with garlic, lemon and beetroot, will be hailed as a genius. But the point is often confused. Professor David Bellamy, for example, while making the incorrect claim that wind farms do not have “any measurable effect” on total emissions of carbon dioxide, has compared himself to Galileo.
    George Monbiot, 13 March 2007

    The front page of that had a cartoon by Marc Roberts, erstwhile Real Climate cartoonist of a man wresting a pig. “Never wrestle with a pig- you both get muddy, but the pig enjoys it.” And don’t feed the trolls etc etc.

  52. Ray Ladbury:

    #48 Pete Best, Exactly how has the Copenhagen Interpretation been found wanting? I know of no experimental result that contradicts it, nor of any theoretical difficulty the suggests it may be wrong. Do you know something I don’t?

  53. Gareth:

    Re Jim G & Ms Bush @ #36

    Been there, done that (at #20)… ;-)

    (Bush talks about making the video, here.

  54. pete best:

    Re #52, Afshar experiment seems to indicate a note of caution on the issue. This experiment caused a big stir at the time a few years ago and seems to demonstrate that the principle of complementarity (wave and particle not at the same time) was not all it seemed as until recently no one at thought of a experiment that demonstrated wave particle duality at the same time. Jury may still be out though on this experiment. WikePedia has a big article on the experiment.

  55. Hank Roberts:

    Ray, “found wanting” = room for debate.“many+worlds”+experimental+test

  56. Mark:

    Ray, #52. The problem with the Copenhagen interpretation is that it is sophistry. The cat isn’t in any sort of state of alive or dead. It’s a cat. Changing the cat with an electron isn’t explaining anything either because there IS no cat. The photon isn’t in a ghost form, it is and always will be a photon.

    The copenhagen interpretation didn’t explain anything.

    Not a refutation, per se, but it was a refutation of it explaining anything.

    The problem may be the reification. A photon isn’t a corpuscle of light, it’s a photon. Light isn’t a waveform, it’s light. The selection of experiment teases out the form we’re looking for because it isn’t, really, any one of them. It is itself.

    IIRC the current best explanation is that the two-slit experiment isn’t changing the photon, it’s changing the probable paths of any photon in the system. A photon is just doing its thing. The Universe is doing its own thing. And the reaction of the two makes or removes the interference pattern *because you’ve changed the universe*.

    I would like to see if there could be an experiment to see if this probability has a real existence (or as real as any quantum effect is). E.g. does the change of state propagate as information at the speed of light or is it instantaneous? If it is instantaneous, then there’s either some weird stuff going on (FTL) or the probability wave is a result of our model and of no more truth than the supply/demand curve is a force that changes people’s economic habit.

    If you can get hold of a copy of “The Science of Discworld” it has quite a good layman version of the issues.

    The short form is: the Copenhagen Interpretation isn’t really explaining anything. It’s just a way of explaining why you will ignore certain aspects.

  57. Wynand Dednam:

    Richard C #49,

    I had to read that article at least 4 times to get some idea of what the author was trying to say.

    He was basically proposing that economics should take real-world entropy effects into account if modern economies are ever to become “sustainable”.

    There is another related article at, Approaching the world’s environmental problems through the Second Law (Entropy Law) of Thermodynamics, that makes for much easier reading, and which you’ll find here

    Neither of these articles deal specifically with Climate Change and it’s the reason why I was motivated to ask the experts here at RC.

  58. Mark:

    Pete, #48. You’re right in the discarded nature of the Copenhagen interpretation. However, that doesn’t mean there’s a hole in quantum mechanics.

    There isn’t a replacement, but the holes the CI waved away are being filled in instead.

    You have the actions correct but the implications dead wrong.

  59. Mark:

    Sven, #41. Peer review is because a theory that cannot stand up to first contact with other people is no theory of science.

    Peer review is a good way to have someone say “you forgot to add the 1”.

    Heck, even when the critique is wrong, you can get worth from it (the original “hockey stick is wrong” meme WAS good. It improved the science and helped the science keep true. It’s continued use is wrong, it’s just part truth, or wholly a lie).

    Even if it’s wrong, it may teach others some new way of approaching the problem. See, “The cosmological constant was my greatest mistake”. Einstein. However, we now suspect there IS a cosmological constant. The biggest problem with it is that it is far too finely tuned. But it was an idea that may not yet have appeared above the parapet if Einstein hadn’t already thought of it and put it up for peer review.

  60. SecularAnimist:

    To Pete Best and Ray Ladbury: The Copenhagen Interpretation is a philosophical interpretation — specifically, an epistemological interpretation — of quantum theory, and as such it is not subject to being proved “right” or “wrong”, but it can certainly be “found wanting” by anyone who feels that it is unsatisfactory.

    Personally, I find it not only satisfactory but revelatory in its emphasis that the subject matter of physics is not some postulated “objective reality” that exists independently of our observations, but our observations themselves.

    “Physics is to be regarded not so much as the study of something a priori given, but rather as the development of methods of ordering and surveying human experience. In this respect our task must be to account for such experience in a manner independent of individual subjective judgment and therefore objective in the sense that it can be unambiguously communicated in ordinary human language.”
    — Neils Bohr, The Unity of Human Knowledge (October 1960)

    “There is no quantum world. There is only an abstract physical description. It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about nature.”
    — Quoted in “The Philosophy of Niels Bohr” by Aage Petersen, in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Vol. 19, No. 7 (September 1963)

  61. Hank Roberts:

    Richard, re the last few years, see also:
    It’s a Sure Bet – by Josh Willis

    “… Like the recreational gam-bler, we often find it more fun to focus on the ups and downs: a short-term cooling period, a warm year during a big El Niño.

    But for climate change and cas-ino owners, it’s important to remember the big picture.”

  62. Hank Roberts:

    Ray (and Pete), see also:

    The Copenhagen Interpretation:

    Neils Bohr, Nature 121, 580 (1928).

    Neils Bohr, in: Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist, P. A. Schlipp, Ed. (Library of Living Philosophers, Evanston, Illinois, 1949).

    The Transactional Interpretation:
    John G. Cramer, Reviews of Modern Physics 58, 647 (1986);

    The Afshar Experiment
    Shariar S. Afshar, (submitted to Physical Review Letters, July, 2004); See also

  63. William Hyde:

    CO2 fertilization does not always work in the field as it does in the lab.

    Briefly, soybean plants produce a chemical which is mildly poisonous to their predators. It doesn’t save the plants from predation, but by limiting the lifespan and reproductive success of the predators, it favours the plants. However, in an elevated CO2 environment the plant does not produce much of this defensive chemical. The predators live longer, eat more, and have more young. Thus the fertilization effect is largely negated by increased predation. How many other plants experience a similar problem remains to be seen.

    William Hyde

  64. jcbmack:

    Yes this reminds me of the misquotes and distortions of Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth,” like when so called experts in the UK make claim that global warming (and rising humidity) have nothing to do with the spread of malaria (more Anopholes vector)or that the sea level rising he quotes has no plausability. The citations he (Gore) uses are from ligitimate and peer reviewed sources. It amazes me that non scientists, people with one year of science courses and “political enegineers,” debate seasoned experienced scientists with the data right in front of them.

    Peer reveiew is of vast importance to the scientific process, however, imperfect, it may be, it always weeds out errors more effectively than any other method we have: repeatability, validity, more review even after the aforementioned process for publication in peer reviewed journals. We ceratinaly all make mistakes, however, saying a definitive causal relationship between GHG and and global warming has not been established is akin to going back to Descartes and the question of existence itself; it splits hairs on a philosophical basis, not empirical or evidence based in the modern sense of scientific inquiry, analysis and data application

  65. jcbmack:

    #41 Turpe I think you may be missing the point of using peer review. Peer review not only filters spam, but also holds up the most plausible hypotheses to greater scrutiny, and as new data is collected and experiments performed (amidst discussion) the findings will eihter be validated, amended, or discarded as a result of being properly published in peer reviewed journals. As already stated, the peer review process is not perfect or without necessary amendments.

  66. shopa:

    I have invented two things that will fight climate change. Maybe they are crazy ideas. Maybe they are very good ways to fight climate change.
    Too bad it is so difficult to get any “experts” to look at my ideas. They are “too busy”.

    Please help me and the planet if you can.

  67. Lawrence Brown:

    47 Secular and 50 Ray;

    I definitely agree that Einstein’s attitude toward’s uncertainty advanced the thinking of the Copenhagen school of thought which Bohr called complementarity,by forcing proponents of this school to counter Einstein’s “gedanken experiments”. In fact if I remember correctly Einstein’s 1905 paper, for which he won a Nobel,on the photoelectric effect, confirmed Planck’s formula that E=hf,making him one of the founding father’s of early quantum physics, along with Planck and Bohr.

    Einstein took exception to the later interpretations most likely because he believed that that physics should be based on measurable quantities(uncertainty states that you can’t measure with precision both position and momentum with perfect accuracy).
    His belief in measurable relationships surely ought to be true in the macro world which includes climate science.

    Einstein once stated words to the effect that he couldn’t believe that the Moon was not there unless you looked at it. Yet it seems to be true that Schrodinger’s cat is in a state of being both dead and alive, until someone looks in the box.

    BTW, I believe that William Steig was doing drawings and cartoons for the “New Yorker” since the 1930s or at least the 40s and for many decades thereafter. I didn’t know he was still active. He must be pushing 100.

  68. Alastair McDonald:


    Thomas Kuhn, writing about the period during a pardigm shift wrote
    “Though each may hope to convert the other to his way of seeing science and its problems, neither may hope to prove his case. The competition between paradigms is not the sort of battle that can be resolved by proof.” (SSR, p. 148).

    So even though the models are failing to predict the tropical lapse rate, the rapid melting of the Arctic sea ice, and the strong water feedback, the climate modellers are still insisting that the greenhouse effect works by back radiation; and despite the CO2 bands being almost completely saturated you will be unable to comprehend what I am saying.

    The absorption of IR radiation by the air was shown by de Saussure in a box 1′ by 9″ by 9″”, reported by Fourier, and measured by Tyndall. The greenhouse effect happens in the air at the surface of the earth, not high in the troposphere.

    But as Max Planck observed:

    “a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    I wonder what happens when an old truth is lost. Can it ever be recovered?


    Alastair (an amateur with an unhealthy amount of spare time.)

    PS You are using the wrong temperature in the Schwarzschild equation. Carbon dioxide radiates at its vibrational temperature not at its kinetic temperature.

    [Response: Alastair.. You are a prime candidate for re-reading my post a few times. In any case if you really think that the mainstream community is doing it’s calculations wrong, write a paper about it. If you are right, you will be famous. You say you have time on your hands, so go for it.–eric]

  69. Hank Roberts:

    Alastair, did you ever suggest an experiment that could distinguish your theory of how radiation works from the other one? I recall suggesting an infrared photograph of the limb of the Earth from space should show whether or not the top of the atmosphere is bright in the infrared, wasn’t that a way to check your idea?

  70. Ray Ladbury:

    Lawrence Brown, Actually Einstein’s objections had to do with the nonlocality of quantum mechanics–as he put it “…spooky action at a distance…”. This is the idea that the collapse of the wave function is instantaneous even if the “object” is extended over space (look up “entanglement” and Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiments). Not only did this run counter to Einstein’s intuition, it is incompatible with general relativity, which is inherently a local theory. Either quantum theory or general relativity can be right–not both. (Of course, both could also be wrong.) This paradox has not yet been resolved, but it is is a driver of the push for things like string theory, quantum-loop gravity, etc.
    Also to contend that quantum theory is not based on observables is incorrect–you can’t simultaneously measure momentum and position to arbitrary accuracy because they don’t exist simultaneously.

  71. David Pursglove:

    The OBRL To-T Experiments: Thermal Anomaly in the Reich Orgone Accumulator

    Reich was only Bravo-Sierra filled to those wedded to the narrowest Newtonian-Cartesian scientism. If you go to the site above and read Jim DeMeo’s careful research into the thermal anomaly over a number of years, I think you’ll see some conclusive results, photos, detailed descriptions of the experimental conditions and all. Like science is usually done. From what I see there, the experiment is eminently replicable.

    If you surf around on the site for a bit, you’ll also read about Jim’s and others’ work with the Reichian “cloudbuster” apparatus, a term I’m sure brings snorts of derision around these parts. I bring it up here due to its relevance to climatology and more particularly, meteorology. The thing does make rain, and Jim has been hired by Namibia, Israel, and Eritrea among others to help with their severe drought conditions. The five year project in Eritrea, conducted during the periods when rain was least likely, is remarkably persuasive — nay almost bulletproof, IMO. Read all the careful reporting, charts, tables, testimonials by government folks and so on starting on p.183 – 211 of Jim’s anthology *Pulse of the Planet #5*, Orgone Biophysical research Laboratory, Ashland, OR, 2002. (Offered for sale on the website above.)

    Jim’s also very careful about the ethics of the use of this tech to modify a climate. Very delicate matter.

    And just to put a personal capper on this: Surely we don’t yet know what Reich named “orgone” might actually be in Newtonian/Cartesian physics or even if it is an entity/force/whatever that falls inside those limits. But hey, place two identical jars of dampened mung bean sprouts, one in a closed cu.’ sized orgone accumulator, one in a same size closed cardboard box right next to the accumulator. Let them sit for a couple of days and check ’em out. The ones in the accumulator will usually grow 50% or better more than the ones in the cardboard box.

    Yep, ‘strue, and you can do that experiment over and over in different rooms, different conditions, etcetc., with the same result. Shouldn’t work at all, but it does. (See Sprouting Mung Bean Experiment starting p. 168, Ibid.)

    There’s far more than enough evidence to say safely that the word “orgone” refers to *something*, we just don’t know what yet. Might be of some use in climate work which is why I went into some detail here.

    [Response: What? Huh??–eric[]

  72. Lynn Vincentnathan:

    Greenspan in an irrationally exuberant way erred on the side of avoiding the false positive, while as a policy-maker he should have been striving to avoid the false negative. Someone on TV said his basic world view was flawed, akin to the physics being wrong, akin to climate denialist arguments. Scientists, OTOH, only in a more pedestrian way err on the side of avoiding the false positive. So the studies keep coming out, “it’s worse than we thought.”

  73. Ray Ladbury:

    Pete Best, You can count me among those skeptical of Afshar’s claims. To me it appears that he just doesn’t understand complementarity–at no point in his experiment does he simultaneously measure both the wave and particle properties. Ruth Kastner has it right. Frankly, I don’t even see why it was published.

    Mark, The Copenhagen Interpretation is hardly sophistry. Certainly the cat qualifies as an observer, so, yes, it is either alive or dead. As to what the Copenhagen Interpretation is explaining–it is concerned with how you preserve the concept of physical reality (along with free will and causality) when it is clear that our perceptions do not describe that reality. Look up “entanglement,” and let me suggest a book: “The philosophy of Niels Bohr,” by H. J. Folse. You really have not understood Bohr, and not to do so would be a pity for you. He truly was one of the most subtle minds of the last century.

  74. jcbmack:

    The pragamtists certainly make some important points. Karl Popper’s work on bias in the experiment is certainly relevant as well; Kuhn as a philosopher of science has certainly helped mankind understand the actual process of paradigm shifts. However,it should be noted we do still work with the best evidence available (as a rule) in science and that there are laws both evidenced by countless qualitative data as well as quantitative. Think of thermodynamics (zero law and the three well known laws) and those ‘theories,’ that are evidenced by everyday occurences as well as numerous data collected supporting the non-quantitified concept; think of the “theory of evolution.” Of course non-linear mathematics may be applied to evolution, such is being applied at Harvard at this time. Old ideas do come back into the scientific mainstream, think about substance and forms that was debated thousands of years ago in the time of Aristotle and Plato. We now are looking at dark energy, dark matter, and a so called “God particle,” and a big bounce and a big crunch leading to a big bang of the universe, which was postulated in some science fiction before evidence pointed in this direction.

    Look, the process of science and development is just as non-linear as true to life in real time, occurences are. Global warming and anthropogenic positive feedbacks are rarely disputed in the peer reviewed literature, however, a volcano could erupt leading to global climate changes; rate of change, quality of change and let us not forget the recent discussion on chaos theory.

    Getting to the bottom line science is traditionally taught as: hypothesis, experiment, observations, results, analysis of results, (data)professional review, published, repeated (or not) validated, (or not)and in general this is how results become interwoven into or become long standing theories, but of course in the real world scientists squabble, have bias, and compare results amongst themselves.

  75. Peter Winters:

    Eric, If you will allow me, I’d like to comment on your previous post where you write “Getting serious about climate policy is no longer a partisan issue in the U.S.: both John McCain and Barak Obama are on record for supporting cap and trade carbon markets.”

    It may be that Democratic and Republican delegates at the event you went to were both active in tackling climate change – but it is not true in the general population. Earlier this month we ran an international study, in Canada, England and the USA, on the public’s attitudes & feelings towards climate change and the low-carbon economy. Really, one of the most striking findings we came across was in terms of how differences in attitudes towards climate change was correlated with political affiliation – especially between Democrats and Republicans in the US. Indeed, your comment prompted me to write a press release about it – see

    Hope you find it interesting!

    Peter Winters

  76. mndean:

    67: Lawrence, FYI my Complete New Yorker indicates William Steig was drawing there from late 1935.

  77. Tim Curtin:

    Gavin said (at #22): “You keep stating this as if any one was arguing with the fact that the airbourne fraction is about 40%. No one is.”

    What about Hansen & Sato, PNAS 2004, Fig5A showing airborne fraction at 60%!!! or Hansen Sato et al 2008: “AF averages 56% over the period of accurate data, which began with the CO2
    measurements of Keeling in 1957, with no discernable trend. The fact that 44% of fossil fuel emissions seemingly “disappears” immediately provides a hint of optimism with regard to the
    possibility of stabilizing, or reducing, atmospheric CO2 amount”.

    Yet Canadell et al 2007 Table 1 show an AF of only 43% since 1958, i.e. 57% “disappearance”. I think it is you Hansen & Canadell who need to get your acts together!

    Gavin also cited the C4MIP models. They do make an effort to model the full carbon cycle, but achieve no consensus. It is as if the exponent in Einstein’s E=mc^2 was stated +/-4 or as an average of 10 models’ outputs, with some even restating the equation as M=ec^2. Thus Friedlingstein et al. in their report on C4MIP find that while all models as of 2005 simulated a “negative sensitivity for the carbon cycle to future climate” (for which the observations in 2006, 2007 and this year to date show the opposite, with the Uptakes of 5.78 GtC in 2007 an all-time high), eight models attributed most of the reduced uptakes to land, and three to the land. More Einstein!
    Gavin again: “You claim … that no-one takes this into account and by implication there can be no carbon cycle feedbacks to temperature”. No, the issue is whether such feedbacks are positive or negative. Models are not evidence, and observations do not accord with the models’ claim that feedbacks are already positive.

  78. David B. Benson:

    Off-topic, but I want to alert the RealClimate community to

    “DSCOVR Mission May Be Gutted”:

    and the first comment to the thread.

  79. jcbmack:

    Einstein was indeed a rarity. Figuring out truths about the universe first from his imagination and thought experiments and then taking years proving them through computation and observation, is a little counter intuitive. Now keeping with the tone of the current discussions, yes proving may be a strong word, but nothing in physics can legitimately refute general and special relatvity. Whether it is quantum gravity, string theory or super position theory; even if these “paradigms,” become more plausible as they become evidenced by data and not just a lot of algebra, (yes I said algebra; all math boils down to just being arithemtic and alegebra no matter how complex) truths or proofs tend to lay in the reference frame. I say reference frame both literally to the observer and generically in the sense that GR is not superior, say to Newtonian mechanics any more than quantum mechanics does away with classial mechanics of macro objects.

    Now, statistical mechanics and thermodynamics (physical chemistry) does offer insights into how the subatomic world effects the macro world, but vibrations and entropy analysis gets nasty and are merely approximations. Science, or “to know,” is a evidence based discipline (empirical) which utilizes the best logic available.

  80. Sam Vilain:

    Thanks eric, but I think the answer to your homework question is obvious: the CO2 near the surface is falling down into the oceans! Clearly you’ve made a mistake ;-)

    Erm. Perhaps it’s because the air at the surface has some diurnal uptake1, and the troposphere levels are based on upwelling from excess CO2 in the tropics2, and a complex system of eddies and boreals3.

    Well, hopefully the state of that homework should show the difficulties poor plebs like me have in answering supposedly simple questions like I had. Thanks a lot, and thanks for not just pointing me to [] ;-)

  81. Mark:

    RAy, I think secular analyst had the right way of expressing the CI.

    And you missed the other interpretations of the meaning of the oddities about quantum physics that for many (most, now?) people who work in it are a better framework to work out the implications with.

    That was a horrible sentence, sorry.

    You also missed the rest of the post apparently. It shows one popular explanation why the interference of the double slit experiment doesn’t NEED the CI.

    And Niels was a terrible explainer of physics. It’s great being a super-genius but if you can’t pass that on, your genius dies with you. A standard grade genius who can leave the rest of the world more informed by good writing is far more effective, since their intelligence lives on beyond them.

    Anyway, back to the CI, since it isn’t actually an explanation but sophistry, someone will either find it worthwhile or not. And there’s not a lot of chance of changing someone’s thoughts on the subject (unless you’re a genius who can explain the alternative well enough).

  82. jcbmack:

    # 39 Mike G. Study more chemistry and a little ecology and you will see that is not the case.

  83. pete best:

    Re #58, I have said no such thing. I just cited a note of caution regarding CI in that a experiment has been performed that seems to demonstrate wave particle duality simultaneously. However physicists are arguing over the which way information of the experiment.

    Quantum theory has not been proved incorrect in 100 years, this experiment does not invalidate QM per se, only its philisophical aspect. I believe that there is still the notion of non locality to deal with to.

  84. pete best:

    Re #73, come off it Ray, Schrodinger had it right. The quantum natire of reality as enshrined in the CI is a little counter intuitive and somewhat absurd. Entanglement and non locality are the deeper principles of QM and not the CI, or so the latest work on QM seems to indicate.

    Afshar maybe at fault but the jury is still seemingly out on whether he has found something in relation to CI. Well that is how I currently see it anyway. Maybe I have not read around enough on the subject as yet though.

  85. member of the public:

    Climate scientists reacted with shocked disbelief when the Larsen Ice Shelf collapsed.

    Greenspan acted with shocked disbelief when financial capitalism collapsed.

    Einstein acted with shocked disbelief when the atomic bombs were dropped.

    When it comes to weapons of mass destruction, whether they are greenhouse gas WMDs, financial WMDs, atomic bombs, or other sorts of WMDs, there seems to be a common reaction: shocked disbelief.

    And why is shocked disbelief so common? That’s stems from a failure in communication, which comes about through reticence.

    Climate scientists know all about reticence.

    Turn the clock forward by 20 years. How is everyone reacting to the changed climate?

    Shocked disbelief.

  86. prianikoff:

    #33 “.. a stronger point than “Greenspan wasn’t peer reviewed” might be that “economics isn’t science”.

    I don’t think the problem is lack of peer review, so much as lack of data.

    A lot of what passes for economic theory is ideological.
    This is because it’s not in the interests of all the participants in the economy for their transactions to be part of the knowledge domain.

    Someone who attempted to deal with this problem was Anthony Stafford Beer, an influential pioneer of Management Cybernetics.
    He analysed the economy from the point of view of Systems theory, as a dynamic homeostatic system, consisting of a large number of interlocking elements.

    Viable systems can respond to a changing environment because they’re adaptable. Beer realised that, if there was sufficient real time data about the workings of an economy, it would be possible to produce a relatively simple computer model as a decision-making aid.

    This would consist of :-

    * A system model
    * Analysis of the real-life systems at each level of the model, implemented recursively
    * Representation of the interlocking homeostats
    * A national communications network
    * A program suite capable of monitoring inputs
    * Calculations, regulation, short-term forecasting by Bayesian probability theory, exception reporting, and feedbacks.

    Such a system, Project Cybersyn”, was actually developed in Chile in the early 1970’s, “by a mulinational team of scientists.
    They used what, by today’s standards, was incredibly primitive technology, such as telex machines and a single central computer.
    But the system was never fully implemented because of the coup there in 1973. After which, it was dismantled and forgotten.
    The world moved on to the ideas of the Chicago School.

    Modern “Just in time” production makes extensive use of computers for its sucessful working.
    Not just to control industrial robots, but the flow of parts around the factory, inventory control and matching production to customer demand.
    This is now standard practice within individual corporations.
    But the same thing can’t be said for the whole economy.

    For all the physics graduates employed to calculate loss risks on debt swaps, or dabble in chaos theory, there was very little sucessful forecasting of the current financial meltdown.
    Even hurricane forecasters had a better success rate.

    Which is more due to what they were paid to focus on than any inherent impossibility of using scientific methods to regulate the production and consumption of things.

  87. Barton Paul Levenson:

    I think William Steig died a couple of years ago, at an advanced age.

    Guys, thanks for getting my back on the Law of the Minimum. On quantum mechanics:

    “Here, kitty, kitty, kitty…”
    –attributed to Erwin Schrodinger

  88. pete best:

    Global Warming now demonstrated for the first time to be human made.

    This is a joke right RC ? Surely this cannot be the first time that scientists have pinned down polar warming to humans. It seems to be that this report is going to cause controversy because of what it is saying. Makes me think that ordinary people are going to think that scientists so not know what they are talking about.

    [Response: Yes and no. People have found the fingerprints of anthropogenic forcings in many parts of the system, but it is a function the signal to noise ratio. In the Arctic and Antarctica the natural variability is large, and so it’s harder to see a signal especially when there are large data gaps (though in sea ice extent in the north it’s easier than for temperature). So this paper is the first time that a particular detection&attribution method has shown clearly the human effect is detectable in both poles. But you are correct in thinking that the northern patterns in particular have been seen being impacted by the human-caused signal for many years. – gavin]

  89. Fred Staples:

    Speaking as a Physicist, Ray,7, your examples are not well chosen.

    We can believe Einstein because (inter alia) the large Hadron collider, like its predecessor will try really really hard to accelerate particles beyond the speed of light, and they will fail.

    On the other hand we continue to spew out “greenhouse” gasses at an accelerating rate, and the global temperature (insofar as we can measure it) obstinately refuses to increase.

  90. Lawrence Brown:

    Re:70:by Ladbury
    “spooky action at a distance…”. This is the idea that the collapse of the wave function is instantaneous even if the “object” is extended over space (look up “entanglement” and Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiments). Not only did this run counter to Einstein’s intuition, it is incompatible with general relativity, which is inherently a local theory.”

    Einstein objected because it ran counter to his proposition that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. Instantaneous action due to entanglement would invalidate this.
    Ladbury also says:
    “This paradox has not yet been resolved,”
    (Say what!?) Alain Aspect ran an experiment proposed by John Bell and found that EPR is wrong and the existence of entanglement was found to rule in the world of the quantum.

    John Gribbin who I believe visits this site on occasion, has written extensively and with clarity on this may weigh in and help out.He says in part in
    “Schrodinger’s Kittens and the Search for Reality”
    “They(Aspect and his colleagues)demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that common sense(and Einstein) is wrong and that non-locality really does rule in the quantum world.”(first Am edition p.23)

    I didn’t mean to get into a discussion of quantum theory when I made by first post in #8. Check out John Gribbin’s work or N.David Merman in “Boojums All The Way Through”. They know much more about this topic than we do.

    Getting back to the original post, I believe that Einstein didn’t answer Reich the second time because he saw no point in being repetitive. He,no doubt had more productive things to do. The same should hold and at often does at Realclimate. There’s no point in encouraging cranks.

  91. Ray Ladbury:

    Pete Best, If you are to say “Schroedinger had it right,” you have to specify when–his writings on quantum mechanics become decidedly more ambivalent in later life. As to Afshar, I know of no physicists personally who take his experiment seriously (unless they, too, have an axe to grind wrt the Copenhagen Interpretation). The fact of the matter is that at no point does the photon simultaneously exhibit wave and particle properties, so the experiment just isn’t doing what Afshar says it is. He is merely exploiting ambiguities in the quantum theory of measurement–e.g. what constitutes an observer.
    I agree that Bohr was not a good expositor. His prose is about as dense and impenetrable as any I have read. He tried to achieve mathematical precision with language, and it didn’t work. However, one should not mistake subtlety for sophistry. Quantum mechanics poses some very strange and disturbing philosophical dilemmas, and every interpretation of quantum mechanics posits some pretty strange ideas for dealing with them. I prefer the epistemological approach of the Copenhagen School to, say, the metaphysics of the Many Worlds interpretation and other rivals. I have yet to see any experimental result or theoretical difficulty that poses insuperable difficulties for Bohr’s approach.
    I would also contend that if you haven’t had at least a couple of semesters of graduate level quantum mechanics, you might not be in a position to appreciate the subtlety of complementarity. Even with a background in physics, it is not something most people devote a lot of thought to.

    ReCAPTCHA is either dyslexic or an animal lover after my own heart:
    praise dog

  92. Aaron:

    RE: 9 Tim Curtin

    You cite a recent article concerning the longterm health of the Great barrier reef and then go on to dismiss the article with your CO2 fertilization topic. For this specific situation, all the fertilization by CO2 is downright minuscule to effects of increased temperature, decreased ocean pH, and subsequently slowed calcification rates of corals which will all be present when CO2 rises. Yes there are bound to be exceptions to the negative effects of GW, but to focus on those exceptions is misleading to those who don’t know any better. All the fertilizing effects of CO2 (which by the way won’t help corals in the least…look up bleaching and O2 toxicity) won’t help a coral grow faster if its already dead or can’t get at the proper calcium ions need for growth because of decreased ocean pH.

    Sorry to be off topic…

  93. Florifulgurator:

    Wynand, do you know this book? “Into the Cool: Energy Flow, Thermodynamics and Life” by Eric D. Schneider and Dorion Sagan

    Re 28, I (layman) guess there’s no need to talk about entropy in order to make plausible that burning fossil fuel is bad: That stuff had been accumulated and locked away by Mother Biosphere during many millions of years of hard work optimizing climate and atmosphere for Life to prosper. If we dig it out and burn it en masse, we undo that work. Then, climate catastrophe shouldn’t come as a shocking surprise.

    The problem with that argument is that it runs counter to creationist beliefs…

  94. Jason:

    Dear Wynand (#28 and onwards),
    You have brought something up of great value. The human economy is obviously a subset of the Earth system. The properties of the Earth system we have, or inherited, are the products of billions of years of planetary evolution. During this time, vast stocks of fertile soils, species, forests, mineral ores, fossil fuel deposits, etc., were accumulated away from thermodynamic equilibrium through the energy released by the sun and radioactive decay on Earth.

    In the simplest of terms, the articles you cite are explaining how the second law dictates that economic activities that consume those stocks will eventually run their course. Any civilization that assumes those stocks are infinite, or that substitutes always exist, is bound to fail. Both first and second laws of thermodynamics are essentially ignored by modern economic theory. (They also ignore much behavioral science, which is more to the point of Greenspan’s flaw).

    Climate change science is in a huge conundrum, not because the physics is incorrect on the part of scientists, but because economics as currently theorized doesn’t include physics.

    Climate models, e.g., General Circulation Models, receive inputs from economists in the form of “emissions scenarios,” e.g., SRES reports as in the IPCC. Unfortunately, climate scientists have taken these at face value because they come from the “experts” on the human economy. It’s a sort of professional courtesy. But these economic models have about as much foundation as the notions of Reich! Greenspan’s admissions are but the tip of the proverbial melting ice berg.

    To learn more start searching on Ecological Economics. I have personally explored this subject for several years now and would gladly discuss further. My radio programs on economics frequently cover this topic:

  95. Hank Roberts:

    Mrs. Schroedinger to Mr. Schroedinger:
    What the hell did you do to the cat?
    It looks half dead!
    “branches watershed”
    ReCaptcha Oracle favors “Many Worlds” ….

  96. SecularAnimist:

    Just a couple of further comments about the Copenhagen Interpretation.

    It is worth noting a couple of points from Wikipedia’s article:

    “The work of relating the experiments and the abstract mathematical and theoretical formulations that constitute quantum physics to the experience that all of us share in the world of everyday life fell first to Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in the course of their collaboration in Copenhagen around 1927 … the Copenhagen Interpretation was a composite statement about what could and could not be legitimately stated in common language to complement the statements and predictions that could be made in the language of instrument readings and mathematical operations. In other words, it attempted to answer the question, ‘What do these amazing experimental results really mean?’ … There is no definitive statement of the Copenhagen Interpretation since it consists of the views developed by a number of scientists and philosophers at the turn of the 20th Century. Thus, there are a number of ideas that have been associated with the Copenhagen interpretation … very different, sometimes opposite, views are presented as the Copenhagen interpretation by different authors … In fact Bohr and Heisenberg never totally agreed on how to understand the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics, and none of them ever used the term ‘the Copenhagen interpretation’ as a joint name for their ideas.”

    I think that in essence, the Copenhagen Interpretation says that physics is not fundamentally about “what is real” but about “what we can observe”. The point of the “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment isn’t that an unobserved cat is in some strange superposition of living and dead states. The point is simply that until we observe the cat, all that we know is the probabilities of what we will observe when we do observe the cat. Ultimately, the Copenhagen Interpretation is telling us that the equations of quantum physics don’t describe “reality” but rather our knowledge of reality — what we can observe and unambiguously communicate. Quantum physics, according to CI, is telling us that objectively, unobserved reality can only be described in terms of the probabilities of what we will observe when we look at it.

    To some people this seems like a radical epistemological stance, to others it seems to suggest that “observation creates reality”. In fact, the only “reality” we can ever know is our actual experience — or in terms of science, our observations and measurements. CI in effect answers the question “What is a photon, really?” by saying “A photon IS a measurement.”

    I think this is simply the fundamental empirical principle of science itself coming full circle to bite us in the rear: the question “What is ‘real’ and ‘true’?” means to science “What can we observe and measure?”. When Bohr said “no phenomenon is a real phenomenon until it is an observed phenomenon” some people took this as meaning that “observation” — and therefore “mind” — creates “reality”. But if someone made the same statement in reference to, for example, Riech’s hypothesized “orgone”, or the existence of Bigfoot or UFOs or psi phenomena or continental drift or global warming, it would simply be seen as an uncontroversial insistence on empirical evidence for the existence of such phenomena before counting them as “real”.

    Einstein insisted that the moon is there whether you observe it or not. Bohr’s reply — the Copenhagen Interpretation — was essentially that the moon may well be there whether you observe it or not, but by definition, you cannot subject that claim to the test of empirical observation, so it is by definition not a scientific claim.

  97. Jeffrey Davis:

    It’s tough to model a system like Credit Swaps and associated derivatives without data. The gaping hole in Greenspan’s economics was the fact that it couldn’t imagine that people would be willing to function with a shadow economy (credit swaps, exotic dertivatives, etc.) ~3 times the size of the visible one. Huge numbers of our brokers and investment banking houses were willing to risk vast amounts of money without anything like sufficient information.

    I don’t know about academic economists, but few of those who have a political brief pointed out that such activity undercut the very premise of “rational actors” and Economics. It’s going to be tough to put that genie back in the bottle.

    captcha: shell Hearst

  98. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #74

    JCB Mack,

    Thanks for responding. It seems that it is a courtesy that neither Eric or Gavin is willing, or is that able, to make :-)

    I am not claiming that my ideas overturn the whole of established science, or even large parts of it in the way that Darwin and Einstein did. What I am claiming is that the reaction by the established scientists to my pointing out an error in their theories is similar to that described by Kuhn to that received by anyone with a new paradigm. Of course it may just be that of anyone who tells a man he is wrong. It is not something you should do to a relation, your best friend or a stranger. But in this case it is important. The future of the world is at stake!

    What has goaded me into posting is that what Eric has written is not only illogical, I find it insulting. He is claiming, because a friend of his grandfather pestered Einstein with a harebrained idea, anyone with a new idea who is not a professional scientist is a complete idiot.

    Of course exchanging insults will not help me get a paper published, but I would like to point out this is very like the situation of the Boy who cried Wolf. Every time an amateur claims he has a new answer it proves false. The one time the amateur is correct he is ignored and the result is disaster.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  99. Tenney Naumer:

    This post is so funny — and just yesterday I had this comment posted on my blog where I only post serious climate articles:

    “The global collapse of world economies and or global war with Russia over energy is occuring right before our eyes-when will you wake to what is the foundation of any civilized industrialized country- ENERGY- I HAVE SOLVED IT- pressure Princeton university to replicate my experiment to verify- over 17 months i still wait- Lets see how long it takes to uncover
    —my name is [edit]-born on the 13th January-1965. I have combined the century old ideas of Tesla and Einstein to produce safe nuclear fusion of heavy water in order to end the energy crisis- When the scientific community has found this and understands -the energy crisis will be over along with talks of greenhouse gases-I have been guided to this discovery by [edit]”

  100. Christopher Hogan:

    Rod B (35): Answer, not true. This isn’t a matter of long division between two static quantities, its a matter of correctly describing the mechanism at work.

    If the point is that we could begin to slow down the buildup by increasing uptake, I get it. Sure, if there were a plausible way to increase the biosphere’s uptake of carbon, do that, great.

    But you don’t want to give people the impression that excess carbon cycles rapidly out of the atmosphere. That’s all I’m complaining about. If that were true, we never could have built up the current 200GT excess in the first place. In other words, if it were literally true that half of this year’s emissions were immediately re-absorbed — if manmade C02 emissions cycled permanently out of the atmosphere at that rate — if the half-life of anthropogenic C02 really were on the order of a year — then we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place.

    So when I see phrases on the order or “half this year’s C02 output is immediately reabsorbed”, I think that’s a) not true, and b) misleading. As I said before, the correct way to state this is that about 2.5% of the total excess is currently reabsorbed each year.

    And sure, if you could double the net uptake by the biosphere, permanently, this problem would go away. Because the uptake, at the moment, happens to be about half of a year’s C02 output. But that shouldn’t be phrased in a way that suggests that the residence time of excess atmospheric C02 is short.

  101. Ray Ladbury:

    Fred Staples, I would suggest that you do some research into the difference between weather and climate–or just stick to the Weather channel if that’s what floats your boat.

  102. Ray Ladbury:

    Lawrence Brown, The paradox I was referring to was not the existence of entanglement–I don’t think Aspect’s results really surprised any physicist. The paradox is that entanglement is the norm–and yet, to very high accuracy, general relativity describes gravitation.
    BTW, just so you know, I am a physicist with more than 20 years professional experience. I’ve solved the Dirac equation a time or two. It is kind of surprising to me how much talk there is about falsification of the Copenhagen Interpretation–in the physics community nobody talks seriously about this.

  103. Mark:

    Ray, #102: Actually, we KNOW that general relativity gravity is wrong. It can’t explain quantum gravity effects.

    We also know that quantum gravity can’t be right either: it can’t explain general relativity effects.

    These problems are accepted and the search is on for how a new theory that devolves to either case under the right conditions.

  104. Hank Roberts:

    Alastair, did you ever suggest an experiment that could distinguish your theory of how radiation works from the other one?

  105. SecularAnimist:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “It is kind of surprising to me how much talk there is about falsification of the Copenhagen Interpretation–in the physics community nobody talks seriously about this.”

    Which is as it should be since, as I have noted, the “Copenhagen Interpretation” is a name given to an informal aggregation of philosophical interpretations of the “meaning” of quantum theory. It is not itself a scientific theory nor does it make any testable predictions that could be subject to “falsification”.

  106. Mark:

    Fred, #89. If you’re speaking as a physicist there, you are no physicist.

    We have a theory that says the LHC will not accellerate particles beyond the speed of light.

    “As a physicist” where’s the theory that says that the temperature won’t go up?

    And as to the actual wording, that is terrible for “as a physicist”: are you saying that summer won’t come around because the temperature refuses to rise?

    Now there have been many “ideas” about why there won’t be any new climate warming. Two problems:

    a) They don’t hold up to scrutiny. If, as the denialists^Wskeptics say, a segment of scientists disagreeing means an idea is wrong, these ideas are VERY wrong

    b) When it comes to AGW and heating, fifty years data means we must wait until it’s enough data to be CERTAIN. Yet when it comes to “there’s no GW”, ten years is plenty.

  107. Kevin McKinney:

    “Greenspan’s economics . . . couldn’t imagine that people would be willing to function with a shadow economy (credit swaps, exotic dertivatives, etc.) ~3 times the size of the visible one.”

    Shall we call it financial dark matter?

  108. Rod B:

    Christopher (100), I understand your position, but that doesn’t alter simple math. If the uptake this year, say, is 2.5% of all of the total “excess” (CO2 not uptaken — probably not a word, but ought to be…) or 57% of just this year’s total CO2 emissions, it’s all the same. It might be misleading as you say. For instance some might infer that 57% of next year’s CO2 emissions will also be absorbed. That inference would likely be incorrect, but it’s not what was said. Your concern is valid but can’t change arithmetic.

  109. member of the public:

    that shadow economy is interesting, being at least 3 times the size of the physical economy. there does seem to be a sort of amplification going on: estimates of the resources being consumed by developed economies are at such a rate that 3 or more planet earth’s are required to sustain the consumption.

    as that shadow economy annihilates itself, maybe the overbearing demands on the planetary resources may subside somewhat.

  110. Lawrence Brown:

    102 Ray
    I do respect your background and experience.I regret that I underestimated it. If I sounded exasperated above it’s likely due to my frustration at trying to understand the quantum world at a depth greater than a superficial level. My hat is off to anyone who can understand the Dirac equation, let alone solve it.

    I’m only grateful that in the climatological world,we can,in principle, to acceptably accurate precision, define both the location and velocity of say the Petermann or Jacobshavn glacier, and other elements of climatology.

  111. jcbmack:

    Free trade versus strict regulation, well, economics is an art and has a little math.:) No system is fool proof. Greenspan made long term judgments, some positive, (good) some negative,(bad) many coupled sytsems which are of course loops of positive and neagive feedback.

    Free trade is not to blame alone; look at the finance draining Iraqi occupation, bailouts, (not in tradition of the new deal) and high taxes on the middle class. That was not for the most part resulting from Greenspan, now then again, housing values are low and payments are high due to lack of Greenspan’s lack of forsight.

  112. jcbmack:

    Ray Ladbury, I enjoy your posts!

  113. jcbmack:

    Just a couple of further comments about the Copenhagen Interpretation.

    It is worth noting a couple of points from Wikipedia’s article

    Unnacceptable! Wikipedia is not academic or thorough.

  114. jcbmack:

    Mark # 103 we need more data not just math. They nay be not reconciled, but GR works for what is applied to, not wrong.

  115. jcbmack:

    We need to find those particles in the accelerator!

  116. Mark:

    Trying to understand what the clucking bell you’re saying, RodB.

    If over the last 100 years 100trillion has been put up at a rate of 1 trillion a year, removing 500 million is 50% of a years worth, but that’s a lot different from saying “50% of our annual emissions have been removed”. The implication being made available is that 50% of emissions have been removed when it’s only 1/2%.

  117. Mark:

    Greenspan should have mentioned that the use of debt as an asset and the creation of the “dark economy” from its use is not modeled by ANY theory he’s aware of.

    Not having done so, he retains the blame for allowing it to continue. If he’d said something, people would not have thought of relying on the economy to obey the rules that told them everything was just peachy.

  118. Mark:

    Jobmak, #114. No, more data won’t work. The theory of gravity in the two areas WILL NOT WORK in the realm of the other.

    Just like “the earth is flat” is good enough for walking on it, but doesn’t fit when you’re shooting a missile 100 miles. There’s a “better” model for gravity that isn’t either, though it reduces to the same thing (exactly like special relativity reduces to simple newtonian motion if you are slow enough) if you make the assumptions that place it in one realm or the other.

    Data is not missing to make one or the other work.

    Data may help find out WHICH of the new candidates for gravity to ***replace*** both models is the best, but it won’t make either of the two old workhorses (quantum and relativistic gravity theories) true outside their application.

  119. Mark:

    Rereading your post you misunderstand “wrong”. The explanation is wrong in the same way as “the pond is flat” is wrong. Or “my desk is flat” is wrong. For the sufficiently appropriate use, they are right. However, they are wrong.

    “flat” is wrong. But not wrong enough to matter.

    Similarly, newtonian gravity is wrong, but not wrong enough to matter if you’re talking about landing a probe on Mars. Its wrongness was fixed with general relativity.

    And now GR (or quantum gravity) are wrong and will be replaced by a new theory.

    And, just as GR reduces to Newtonian if your masses are not too big, the new theory will have to be able to explain both GR and QG if you are sufficiently massive or sufficiently small.

    But they are as wrong as Newtonian Gravity is wrong. Or my table is flat.

  120. jcbmack:

    It is only data that will work Mark.True application is all we can consider in these two models, but they both work in their respective applications. In the future the understandings we have will have amendments and additions, and perhaps omissions, however, we are not seeking to replace either, but fit in new statements as new data is validated. I am not sure what you mean with the flat earth analogy precisely, perhaps that there is no duality of thinking is credible, only one answer will do? Just as the Earth is not flat, our current models, do not tell the whole story, with the precision or accuracy needed? Well, that is certainly true to a point. There will never be a complete replavcement, becasue each model does accurately and succintly tell the story quite clearly up to the point that we cannot combine or reconcile such models.
    Data, however, is the ONLY thing that we have regarding knowing anything new or even ‘replacing,’ any model. No math alone, no postulate alone, no intelligent logic or argument can be incorporated confidently without data. There is data to support Einstein’s greatest contributions, the Schrodinger equation, global warming trends and what ester compound a particular flower uses to create a scent:)

    No data, no validation, no peer review process, no amendments based upon evidence, not a good scinetific theory in the sense of having ample explanatory power or any potential predictive qualities.

    Now it may be some legitimate geniuses are working on x,y, z, however, they all unaminously state “we need more data,” like in the major progenitors and perpetuators of super position theory and st ring theory:)

    Unsure of your background exactly, I can make a few general recommendations: Scientific Amercian, (last months issue on big bounce theory, four months ago, I believe on super position theory)PBS specials online and on DVD on string theory, relevant articles on quantum mechanics in Encyclopedia Britannica and the best Pchem book in publication; in my humble opinion: Peter Atkins Physical Chemistry,

  121. member of the public:

    Interesting that there isn’t a Plunge Protection Team (PPT) for the climate … yet. Once the PPT has finished its work on the collapsing financial system it could offer some advice on operating a PPT for a climate tipping into dangerous change. It is really is all about phase transitions. The financial system going from liquid to solid (“the liquidity crisis”) and the ice caps going from solid to liquid.

  122. jcbmack:

    The IF spectroscopy data is pretty clear/: The satellite data supports models even if they have margins of error +- some value. CO2 absorbs radiation. It is used to put out forest fires. Let is not forget the NOAA data on ocean acidification through CO2 absorption (but only about 33%, where does the rest go folks?)Carbonic acid anyone? And keep in mind there are set points and upper limits the sea life can adapt to, further changing 02 and CO2 interfaces. Biochemical systems themselves can only buffer so much before acidity has a marked effect and some species of various life forms die out. When I have more time I will present the relevant data to this CO2 issue. I highly recommend Environmental Organic Chemistry second edition to all of your libraries, by Schwarzenbach, Gschwed and Imboden:) Happy readings:)

  123. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #104


    I did explain that no new experiments are needed but my post has not appeared. I fear that my views did not meet with Gavin’s approval :-(

    Anyway, William Connolley has a web page which describes an experiment performed by Prof. R.W. Wood which shows that a greenhouse does not work by the glass reflecting or absorbing the IR radiation. It operates by the absorption of IR radiation by the greenhouse gases in the air – no big surprise there then. See

    I daren’t explain more for fear of this post not appearing either, but I will be expanding on it in my blog.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  124. jcbmack:

    Mrk # 119: Then perhaps ‘wrong,’ is not the operative word then. Yes depending upon the reference frame, depending upon the application, a given theory and set of frameworks will better work or will only work under specified conditions. What I take issue with is when lay persons or some early undergrduates wrongly assert GR ‘superior,’ to Newtonian mechanics. This is not the case. Corrections are needed to make predictions work under a different set of principles, no doubt about it. We can also say the same of SR versus classical physics, again no argument.

    It is like when we look at atmospheric chemistry or solar physics and forcing issues: what is the acid, or the base? The greater forcing agent or feedback loop… the ice, earth, or different altitude clouds, the data collection is ongoing, the models made more accurate and tools better calibrated. The same can be said of our understanding of gravity, light’s properties and velocity etc… As science advances newer advances will change past ones, but only insofar as the past data and long standing theories and discoveries guide us. There will never be a complete abolishment of Einstein or Newton and this is the common misconception in undergraduate circles and sensationalized in the media. What we know or will know is based upon what we knew and what we believed in the past; two pronged, facts versus understandings of facts.

  125. jcbmack:

    Eric response to #1 Well, that is certainly the point, a theory in science that holds long term, with continued evidence, plausability, and even facts (or a series of predictable outcomes) is far more grounded in reality than a theory of a layperson or professional non-scientist. Theories in science are atleast two fold in this manner: they have no mathematical formula to neatly quantify them, and they are the best explanation for a given set of phenomena. The theory of relativity, the theory of evolution and the so forth even in light of new findinfs do not get overthrown no matter what the ‘paradigm shift.’

  126. Geoff Wexler:

    re :#98

    “Thanks for responding. It seems that it is a courtesy that neither Eric or Gavin is willing, or is that able, to make”

    It may be worth checking that a response or something relevant to your comments is not already there .. somewhere in Realclimate’s pages. For example the postcript to your #68 asserts that

    “Carbon dioxide radiates at its vibrational temperature not at its kinetic temperature.”

    I think I read in RC, that the probability of intermolecular collisions at most pressures is fairly high. This would mean that the two temperatures would be essentially the same. Have you estimated the mean time between collisions and compared it with the lifetime of the vibrational state concerned? If not then you cannot assert that Realclimate is wrong.

    It would of course be true that a CO2 molecule cannot emit infra-red unless it is in an excited vibrational state but it would still belong to an equilibrium distribution with the one common temperature, the temperature of the air. This remark does not apply at very low pressures. Does this not answer the main assertion before the postcript i.e. :

    “The greenhouse effect happens in the air at the surface of the earth, not high in the troposphere.”

    Since the assertion is a bit unclear , it may be worth clarifying it with a thought experiment. Suppose first that the mixture of greenhouse gases and air is characterised by a single temperature (in contradiction to your postcript) at each point and that that all of the greenhouse gas were to be concentrated in a thin layer (a) close to the ground or (b) at a single high altitude. What do you think would happen to the greenhouse effect in the two extreme cases? (I apologise if you consider this question to be too elementary).

    Re #123 . Since glass greenhouses are a false analogy it is logically dodgy to appeal to them when trying to understand the way that greenhouse gases operate.

  127. David B. Benson:

    Off-topic, I suppose. I thought I would try to understand more about aerosols and the effects on climate. I immediately found

    and want to heartily commend to authors for a most clear introduction!

  128. jcbmack:

    So will have a ‘law,’ of global warming? Doubtful, the Earth is quite a large system indeed. Sometimes I think the theoretical consoderations get lost in abstract forms of physics and we forget about the chemistry and physical chemistry. We dismiss the equations and properties of gases, forget about calculating partial pressures and the like due to the complex dyamics, well, yes, these dynamics are enormous and contain so much variance (sorry about the vagie modifiers as that is the best under these generalized circumstances one can get:))

    CO2 cannot be good for the biosphere, atmosphere and water bodies indefinitley, this pre supposition scoffs in the face of Organic and Physical chemistry and the data collected. I will get around to posting the data, but I have students tonight…($)Refuting claims that CO2 and water vapor are not greenhouse gases is very easy… no one in the Chemistry, Phyics or Biology fields for any length of time disputes this. Most climatologists know better as well, as a matter of fact they all do, the extent is of course still being worked out, there is your variance, need of empirical, longitudinal data, and ever better models/: Do not confuse uncertainty with ignorance or with being ‘wrong.’ Lest we forget the Pauli exclusion principle, butterfly effect, and nuances in the system that can only be approximated.

  129. Fred Jorgensen:

    Re 106 Mark:
    We have had 15 years of good temperature vs CO2 tracking (1985-2000), and
    the last 8 years of ‘not so much’!
    Reality says the jury is still out!

  130. mlandis:

    There is a wonderful film directed by Dušan Makavejev called WR: Mysteries of the Organism ( It addresses some of the scepticism that Reich faced during the rise of communist power, both because of the claims his research made and political pressure.

    Wonderful post. First time I’ve visited.

  131. infopractical:

    Perhaps somebody said this already and I didn’t read all 125 comments, but your response to post #1, but economics is considered a science by many, and its ideas are often subjected to hypothesis testing with quantifiable results.

  132. One Salient Oversight:

    The real problem is that Economics is social science, not real science. As a result, just as there are different schools of thought amongst psychiatrists or social workers, there are also different schools of thought amongst economists.

    I’m an econ-blogger, despite the fact that my economics is self-taught. I have discovered that my lack of maths training is not as bad as I would have thought since economics can be discussed and understood outside all the strange equations that some economists use.

    The sad thing is, though, that economics can be pushed very much by a person’s pre-existing presumptions – their ideology, if you like. Because ideology often drives economists, they can become blind to empirical data that refutes their position, often arguing strenuously that the data doesn’t refute their position or was badly gathered (which, of course, reminds us of climate skeptics).

    The peer review process, therefore, has more to do with fitting into a certain ideology (whether left wing or right wing) rather than whether their research is legitimate.

    My experience of economics (and for me it is a fascinating subject) has led me to my particular ideological position. Hopefully I will be objective enough to change my mind on things when the data contradicts me.

  133. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Fred Staples posts:

    We can believe Einstein because (inter alia) the large Hadron collider, like its predecessor will try really really hard to accelerate particles beyond the speed of light, and they will fail.

    There are no plans to use the LHC to do any such thing. It didn’t even come up. No physicist in his right mind thinks the LHC can make particles break the speed of light.

    On the other hand we continue to spew out “greenhouse” gasses at an accelerating rate, and the global temperature (insofar as we can measure it) obstinately refuses to increase.

    As I have told you before, apparently to no avail, temperatures are still increasing. Eliminate the dashes and read the pages this time:

  134. Geoff Wexler:

    (Footnote to #126)

    * The term vibrational temperature can be interpreted in more than one way. This comment is concerned with “hot CO2” ,analogous to hot electrons in solids. This might exist if all or some of the CO2 could form a thermally insulated sub-system. It would require a pressure so low that collisions can be ignored. Of course the vibrational degrees of freedom of the CO2 will affect the common temperature of the mixture by altering its specific heat but only by a tiny (negligible) amount.

  135. Julian Flood:

    [Response: I would beg to differ. I think IE interacts badly with our site. Come on Microsoft, get with the program!–eric]

    Sounds curiously like ‘the data doesn’t agree with the models! Change the data!’

    (Sorry, sorry, just teasing, I’ve been reading the blog by He Who Must Not Be Named.)

    While I’m here — you don’t, by any chance know where I can find a simple graph of C isotopic response to volcanoes? I’m particularly interested in C12/13 changes after high chromium and/or nickel leachate eruptions.



  136. Barton Paul Levenson:

    jcbmack posts:

    Theories in science are atleast two fold in this manner: they have no mathematical formula to neatly quantify them, and they are the best explanation for a given set of phenomena.

    Did you mean “they have mathematical formulae?” Because I can assure you they do.

  137. Fred Staples:

    What I am suggesting, Ray, 101, is that it is the experiment that establishes the theory, not the other way round. The Lorenz transformations which demonstrated the relativistic effects years before Einstein were based on the consequences IF the speed of light were constant. At the time, a big IF. The Michelson-Morley experiment established relativity, many years later..

    I do not claim that the last decade disproves AGW theory, although the falling temperatures do not add support.

    What I do claim is that there would be no IPCC based consensus today, and no political acceptance of the theory, without the increase in temperatures between 1999 and 2002.

    Can I ask anyone who doubts this to have a look at Taminos chart (first “this” comment 29, ‘Tropical tropospheric trends again (again)’.

    It is also worth commenting on the temperature measurements themselves. If you were trying to record the changes in temperature a few meters above the surface in an open field, miles from anywhere, over the next 50 years, give some though to the quality control procedures you would need. Precise definition and control of the measurement times and records, maintenance and re-calibration of the equipment and above all, precise control of the environment:

    No change in the surface, no tarmac, no development, no air conditioning outlets or waste disposal plants, no roads etc etc.

    Then have a look at Anthony Watts web-site, or record the temperatures as you drive into any town (Anthony Watts has a brilliant example driving acoss Reno).

    Then reflect that you have to do this everywhere in stable environments without political upheavals etc.

    Then reflect that you will still have covered less than 25% of the planet, and see how they took sea temperatures in the 20th century – buckets over the side of ships, measured with thermometers.

    Have a look at Tamino’s chart again, and ask yourself if the certainty about AGW on this web-site is justified.

    Incidentally contributors who thaink they understand wave-particle duality should look at Wikipedia – The Dual Slit Experiment.

    “Any modification of the apparatus that can determine which slit a photon passes through destroys the interference pattern,[3] illustrating the complementarity principle; that the light can demonstrate both particle and wave characteristics, but not both at the same time.”

    At the infrared end of the spectrum we are dealing with waves, not particles.

  138. Martin Vermeer:

    #16 Eric’s

    Homework question: so why is the CO2 concentration lower near the ground than it is aloft?–eric

    is quite a nut to crack: I tried googling, following Hank’s motto “you can look this up”, but no luck.

    Let me hazard a guess: it has to do with the interaction of global circulation with sea surface temperature. In the tropics the ocean surface is at 27 degs C, which drives out the CO2 to the air, where the equatorial updraft takes it aloft. There it spreads with air currents to higher latitudes.

    In the extratropics sea water is cool and absorbs CO2 (with the help of rainfall?), depleting the lower troposphere. Surface winds carry this depleted air to land and to the tropics.

    This does require ocean currents to take CO2 rich water to depth at high latitudes and bring it up again in the tropics.

  139. Mark:

    Fred, the Michelson-Morely experiment proved the non-existence of the aether.

    And in the infrared, they photons are still photons just like they are in the visible spectrum and act like a particle or wave just like them and under the same conditions.

    You are NOT a physicist.

  140. Mark:

    re #132.

    No, peer review means that, as is a prime directive of science says, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.

    And for papers that only state “what everyone knows” they get neither interest nor attacked because they don’t really increase the value of science, so you don’t hear about them in peer review.

    However, if a theory can withstand the counters by the current system, then it WILL be accepted.

    The Denialists can’t make anything that stands up to scrutiny by those skeptical of their claims.

    The reverse is not true: the Denialists can’t create consistent counters to the current known theories that can deflate that theory.

  141. Mark:

    re 129

    We’ve had 150 years of VERY GOOD information about both CO2 concentrations and temperatures. Those temperatures have gone up as would be expected given CO2’s effects. CO2’s concentrations are known from fossil records (ice) for thousands upon thousands of years and temperature records (trees and such) for as long.

    Moreover, we have measurements NOW of how much of the CO2 in the atmosphere is from fossil fuels and we have two or more centuries experience in measuring and confirming CO2’s effects on LW radiation.

    You don’t have to measure my height for 30 years to know how tall I am.

  142. Hank Roberts:

    > lower near the ground … aloft?
    Um. I can’t even find the source for Eric’s fact, in the mass of information about all sorts of scales, kinds of ground cover and soil, latitude, and diurnal and seasonal variability, even assuming “near the ground” means dirt as compared to ice or water. Near could mean within meters, or within the troposphere … ya got me on looking it up, I need a better idea of what the meaning of “it” is (grin).

    Purely speculation on my part, is ultraviolet-pumped dissociation of methane more common in the upper atmosphere, producing CO2 excess there?

  143. Ray Ladbury:

    Fred, Even excluding the warming from 1999-2002, we’re looking at significant warming from really the 1800s to the present–perhaps half of which was anthropogenic. We’re looking at collapse of polar ice in the North, of ice shelves in the South, glaciers everywhere. It now appears we have evidence in the Antarctic as well:

    And then we have the fact that we can’t explain the amount of greenhouse warming we see sans a substantial contribution from CO2–coupled with the fact that we have no reason to expect the physics to change magically at 280 ppmv. We got us a whole bunch o’ evidence, Fred, which is why most climate scientists believed we were warming prior to the turn of the century. If I were you, I’d ask for my money back from that University where you studied revisionist history.

  144. wayne davidson:

    Fred Staples takes advantage of surface temperature variability as any run of the mill contrarian:

    “do not claim that the last decade disproves AGW theory, although the falling temperatures do not add support.”

    Fred should try crunching Density Weighted Temperatures of the entire troposphere instead of using misleading well known temperature variability as the ultimate boogyman dispelling AGW… One region may be cloudier than another, it gets colder in summer, warmer in winter when cloudier the reverse is also true, variability is the norm, surface temperature trends must be judged long term. Reducing the atmosphere to one layer reveals far less variability.

  145. David B. Benson:

    The Michelson–Morley experiment, one of the most important and famous experiments in the history of physics, was performed in 1887 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley at what is now Case Western Reserve University.


    Einsteins Wunderjahr 1905

  146. David B. Benson:

    Hank Roberts (142) — There is an unexplained excess of water vapor in the stratosphere, too much AFAIK, to be explained by methane breakdown.

  147. jcbmack:

    Theories in science are atleast two fold in this manner: they have no mathematical formula to neatly quantify them, and they are the best explanation for a given set of phenomena.

    Did you mean “they have mathematical formulae?” Because I can assure you they do.

    Not in the way a law does, like the laws of thermodynamics. Gravity really is a law and GR and SR are quite established theories, but they do not have one formula that behaves as a proof in the way thermodynamics does, though no one seriously dipsutes GR and SR in the physics community, thet merely add new possibilities under differemt circumstances.

    Try neatly quantifying evolution.

  148. jcbmack:

    Mark # 141. Absolutely.

  149. jcbmack:

    Fred, what are you talking about?

  150. jcbmack:

    No theory has one mathematical equation that neatly describes the whole of the theory. Check out this site for further clarification:

  151. Rod B:

    Mark, by “VERY GOOD” do you mean the reliability, variances and error bars of measuring average global mean temperatures and CO2 mixing ratios over the past 150 years is about as good as measuring your height over the past 30 years? Most would say not even in the same ballpark I would think. What is your definition of “VERY GOOD” (your caps) in this area?

  152. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #126 and #134


    You are correct. There are other posts of mine on RealClimate where I have recieved responses to my ideas – and telling me to shut up and warning me that they would stop publishing my posts!

    Since, like my first reply to Hank, this one may not appear I am not going to spend too much time on my reply to you, sorry :-(

    On a University of Texas website they write “We conclude that the vibrational degrees of freedom of HCl, or any other small molecule, are frozen out at room temperature.”
    CO2 is also a small molecule and its vibrations are also frozen out at room temperature and below, typical of tropospheric temperatures.

    All the models, not just those of RealClimate, assume that CO2 (and H2O) are in local thermodynamic equilibrium (LTE) and radiate at the kinetic temperature of the air, in which case they would effectively emit all the radiation the absorb. This would be certainly be true near the surface of the earth where the surface and air temperature are the same. If this were true then the air in a greenhouse would not warm.

    You wrote that:

    Re #123 . Since glass greenhouses are a false analogy it is logically dodgy to appeal to them when trying to understand the way that greenhouse gases operate.

    But the IPCC write:
    “The glass walls in a greenhouse reduce airflow and increase the temperature of the air inside. Analogously, but through a different physical process, the Earth’s greenhouse effect warms the surface of the planet.” FAQ 3 AR4
    Should they have written “By a false anaology, the Earth’s greenhouse warms the surface”?

    No! In both cases the air is warmed by the absorption of IR radiation by greenhouse gases. It is not an anology. It is the same thing.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  153. Pekka Kostamo:

    RE#146. It just might be that there is more or stronger convection. In the tropics, convection at times breaks the barrier that is formed by the tropopause, and transports a pulse of humid air to higher altitudes. (A comment I got from someone doing forecasting work in the area.)

    Many tend to see the tropopause as a permanent and rather perfect barrier to mixing. It is just another approximation. There also exist things like double tropopauses, quite frequent in some areas. There are also tropopause folding events at high latitudes that introduce packets of extremely dry stratospheric air flowing down to the ground level (as witnessed by their specific volcanic or nuclear dust signatures).

    More active dynamics might increase such mixing. They used to be once-per-month type events of short duration, but were identifiable in sounding records.

  154. Rod B:

    Wayne (144), Wouldn’t relying on Density Weighted Temperatures to validate a case really put Mark’s “very good” 150 years of measurement in dire jeopardy?

    Do we have 5, 10, 15 or so years of Density Weighted Temperatures for the entire troposphere? What is the granularity of the measurements and how much was extrapolated?

  155. jcbmack:

    DU = U final – U initial= q-w. The first law. U is the energy, q is the heat absorbed buy the system and w os the work done by the system on the surroundings. Work is defined as the force times the distance moved under its influence.
    Now E= MC squared does nicely represent the first law of thermodynamics, but relativity (sr or gr) is not a law, and they both contain many equations to explain in totality what they actually meanm even when one tries to describe it succinctly.

    For the second law one might state: Delta S = q/t or delta s greater than or equal to dQ/s. Entropy increases in a closed system, is the point here.

    the state functions are very useful as all we need is initial and final values to find an answer. The path functions on the other hand help assist us on how a system actually gets to a particular state, or atleast we have a good approximation.

  156. jcbmack:

    Or if you prefer, the engineers: e2-e1= q-w or E2-E1= Q-W, where E,e represents the internal energy of the gas and q and w are the familiar path functions. In the lower case example an aerospace engineer may use this, to utilize intensive or specific variables.

  157. Geoff Wexler:

    Re peer review and #137

    One benefit of peer review which is not often mentioned, is that it often makes the authors more careful if they know that their work will be scrutinised at once. Without it scientific remarks can degenerate into gossip or letters to the local mayor.

    Here is an example which I shall apply to myself. I have just read #137’s remark

    “At the infrared end of the spectrum we are dealing with waves, not particles”

    My immediate reaction is to assert that infra-red can be detected by a digital camera so it could probably be used to photograph an interference pattern demonstrating waves and by turning down the intensity individual pixels might be detected firing off one at a time demonstrating the particle nature of the I.R. Have I checked this remark? No, because I am not submitting this proposed (or reported?) experiment to a peer reviewed journal (although someone on this web site might reject it).

    Incidentally, here is a more theoretical response to the same quotation. Instead of a pixel consider a CO2 molecule. According to quantum theory this can be reasonably well localised because of its relatively high mass. Now try to describe the excitation of a vibrational state. This will involve the absorption of one IR photon and also the measurement of the position of that photon at the time of absorption (which would have been located at the CO2 molecule). As the quantum people would say, the photon’s wave function will have collapsed. Summary: I disagree with the quotation.

  158. Hank Roberts:

    David B, pointer please on excess water vapor in the stratosphere?
    (And how this relates to the homework assignment about CO2?)
    I found this, which doesn’t describe the problem you mention, it’s fairly new:

    Stratospheric dryness: model simulations and satellite observations

    Author(s): Lelieveld J (Lelieveld, J.), Bruhl C (Bruehl, C.), Jockel P (Joeckel, P.), Steil B (Steil, B.), Crutzen PJ (Crutzen, P. J.), Fischer H (Fischer, H.), Giorgetta MA (Giorgetta, M. A.), Hoor P (Hoor, P.), Lawrence MG (Lawrence, M. G.), Sausen R (Sausen, R.), Tost H (Tost, H.)
    Source: ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS Volume: 7 Pages: 1313-1332 Published: FEB 27 2007

  159. jcbmack:

    Anthony Watts is not qualified to make the statements he does and his photos are very misleading.

  160. jcbmack:

    Ok to those to argue that GR is ‘wrong, argue against the field equations mathematically and show data side by side with the data supporting GR and explain how GR should be or is or will be overturned. Let’s do some algebra:)

    Guv=8 piTuv (sorry about the laziness with the symnbols, word is down and I do not see a symbol button:)

    Now, some do argue against the singularity, some real world physicists and mathematicians have amendments, however, no math or data has overturned Einstein;)

    The four forces are not unified for a reason. Oh and just so you know basic newtonian physics exaplains a lot about both weather and climate, momentum, vectors, summations, and so forth, and Newton knew his explanations had limitations; and the math is just fine, it is the consoderations, or slight corrections in the behaviors at velicities close to C and how time passes that he did not fully consider;)

  161. Ray Ladbury:

    jcbmack, thanks. Personally, I think Bohr’s achievement is quite underrated, in part because he was such a poor communicator of his own ideas–at least to nonphysicists. We have to realize the context. The Machians, while somewhat cowed by Einstein’s work on Brownian Motion were still influential, and the positivists were at the pinnacle of their influence. Many physicists felt that quantum theory spelled the death knell for the concept of physical reality in the atomic realm. Heisenberg even found these arguments tempting. Yet, Bohr managed to assert the reality of objects in the subatomic world, even if they could never truly know them in the absence of measurement devices that distort that reality. It was an achievement as subtle in philosophy of physics as was Kierkegaard’s in the realm of faith and meaning.

    You said, “Try neatly quantifying evolution.”

    Actually in some ways, many aspects of genetics and evolution have been neatly quantified–e.g. genetic clocks, etc. There is also the neat work of William Hamilton:

    Evolution is getting there–rapidly.

  162. jcbmack:

    Ray Ladbury, thank you for your response, and yes we certainly can calculate the probability of crossing over. With the applciation of both Mendhelian and post Mendhelian genetics, molecular clocks, statistics (chi square mean,mode and median, ratios, etc…) and the fine work witten out in Oxford’s Genes 8.

    Well as we know nowadays,both random diffusion processes and directed processes (advetcion) coexist, just as the randomness of the quantum world leads to laws of the macro world, albeit our understanding is still developing. Most descriptions or models, of natural processes are made up of a mixture of deterministic and random elements.

    I am reminded of the “random walk of an object through an infinite array of discrete boxex… Bernouli coefficients and so forth. When one considers the random motions of gases and the directed processes in the environmental system, like advection and the complex dynamics, we cannot have just determined or quanitified values, nor can we have only randomness.

    Keep up the good posts, as I fear this thread is lacking in several regards at this time.
    Yes Bohr is overrated is deserves his due… happy threading.

  163. jcbmack:

    Yet evolution still has randomness despite the work at Harvard in non-linear mathematics. We have ideas, but predictability is still quite limited.

  164. wayne davidson:

    #154, Rod, DWT’s are rare to find out there, it is a relatively easy calculation to do, especially having access to a super computer and huge Upper Air data base. I do them myself two ways, one while using the sun as a fixed sphere of reference, the other by taking all of upper air radiosonde data, condensating them to one readable number in degrees Kelvin. I know of no one else who does this work. Yet the results are very promising. All while there may be a cooling or warming on the surface
    the true temperature of the entire atmosphere varies very little compared to a surface average.
    I was able to foresee an Arctic Ocean great ice melt for 2008, despite cooler surface temperatures which have occurred. It turned out that the air aloft was -as a whole- just as warm as last year despite extensive cloudiness. I encourage anyone with access to a super computer to make the calculations, and come up with a graph going as far back as with Radiosonde data. Surface temperatures are very vulnerable to misinterpretation, they offer a great deal of fodder for those
    who deny AGW. Its up to the contrarians to disprove the surface temperature trend by other means,
    the more they will look the more they will confirm the warming trend.

  165. Fred Jorgensen:

    Re: 143: Ray Bradbury,
    If, in 1985, anyone had predicted apocalyptic AGW based on data up to that
    time, they would have preached in the wilderness.
    It’s only because of the warming trend 1985-2000 that the extreme predictions gained
    popular traction.
    The proof of destructive AGW is in longer term global warming – the current

  166. jcbmack:

    Well, Donald Hamilton was a giant in evolutionary biology, however, there is a lot of math and social theories related to evolution, as natural selection and artificial selection work both antagonsitically and synergistically, and many evolutionary biologists come to see artificial selection as another process of the ongoing, transforming natural selection pressures of the species.

    Drifts, shifts, alternative splicing RNA editing, niches and so forth, have been all well established, and all, except alternative splicing,have been well documented historically in the oldy, but goody Biology textbooks of Biology since the 1960’s, however, evolution is far too vast a process to be all measured out and quantified. Math is a tool, nothing more, it ties up loose ends or assists in making predictions or presenting probability or understanding how much how far, how fast, what angle, etc… When I read all of Gould’s books, I realized how enormous evolution really is; punctuated equilibrium, endosymbiotic theory, etc… What I was referring to in regards to a quantity, is like looking at Henry’s law, or Fick’s law, Grahams law etc…

    I think that although thermodynamics and spontaneous processes apply in the vast system of the earth and as such bioenergetics, energy coupling, and genetic ratios of progeny all apply to biological and environmental systems, far more observations, data, and time are needed to really consider the change in the frequency of alleles over time can all be numbered through laws that creates, too finite a sense of what the outcomes might be as life keeps moving forward.

  167. jcbmack:

    I take issue with the assunption that equilibrium is reached. As earlier noted miscibility factors, advection, convection, and fluxes in the radiation spectrum, and coupling have such drastic influences.
    Still the denial is not made regarding CO2 and heating being related. Here is a great site!

  168. jcbmack:

    Great site!

  169. Ron Smith:

    But economists have predicted 9 of the last 5 recessions!

  170. Martin Vermeer:

    Hank #142:

    > lower near the ground … aloft?
    Um. I can’t even find the source for Eric’s fact,

    Hank, try David Archer’s Modtran calculator (google for david archer forecast modtran). It shows CO2 going up from below 400 ppm to over 500 in the tropics at 18 km height, where also the temperature gradient inverts. In the subarctic, CO2 increases less and reaches a plateau at 10 km, like temperature.

    The phenomenon is real.

  171. Mark:

    Re 160. The four forces are not unified for a reason: we don’t know what theory could unify them.

    We have several ideas but in order to work out which one explains the universe (it knows what it is, no matter that we have no flipping idea, and it doesn’t have a problem with quantum/classical/relativistic gravity: it has gravity as what it is and our MODELS have problems with describing it).

    Data will teach us which one is rightest but we have to find out what experiment will tease out the differences and disambiguate the theories. If none turn out true (LHC doesn’t find the Higgs Boson, for example), then we know to look for another theory.

    That last paragraph is why the denialists are not scientists (especially Fred who claims to be a scientist but ignores the rigour of being one): the denialists say “it could be X instead” and when asked “well what mechanism is it? How do we quantify it? How do we add this into the models”, the denialist hasn’t done that work. Their only response is “I’ve given you the theory, you have to prove it’s NOT true!!!”. No. That’s not how it’s done. If it’s cosmic rays, how do they change climate, what mechanism could make it do it. When you have that, you have an idea of what variables you need to measure to see its effect. Now do the measurements. Do they match? No? Can you change the theory to fit? If they do match, put it up for review. They may find out that it could be just as easily explained by “stuff happens”. I.e. it is of low statistical confidence and could just be random “luck” it fits.

    But at that point, you NOW have a theory. It can be tested.

    And with GR, it can be tested. It doesn’t work at the quantum scale. Therefore, it’s wrong, gravity ISN’T a geometric distortion of space-time. Another indicator is the infinities. The relativistic mass of a photon is, because it is travelling at the speed of light, a value divided by 0. Which is an infinity. However, the method of GETTING to that zero divisor, along with the number above (zero) means that you actually don’t have an infinity. Whatever theory better fits the reality of gravity ought to be able to handle the maths and give, rather than a real infinity, a number that is limited to non-infinite value.

    We have the same (or similar deal) with quantum gravity. Which, rather like the wave description of light gave us an infinity when applied to emission spectra (the UV breakdown catastrophe), has infinities when applied outside the quantum realm. It also doesn’t explain how you get light to bend around masses, since there’s no time in the photon frame of reference to swap gravitons.

  172. Mark:

    Rod #154.

    You can measure temperature today with a digital thermometer to about 0.1C. 30 years ago, a mercury thermometer to 0.5C.

    In the late 19thC, mercury thermometers could be read to about 0.5C.

    I would call that “very good recording” for 150 years.

  173. Mark:

    RodB, the crude measurement LOCALISATION techniques of the recent past have been accurate but poorly placed.

    Rather like measuring the world temperature by only sampling India.

    You will still SEE an increase in temperatures, but because of the poor localisation the variability is much higher and the effect of small-scale (compared to global) forcings that affect only the region you have measurements for mean that to get the signal from the noise requires more time. E.g. picking India you need to ensure that you haven’t just picked out four heavy monsoons because of a temporary increase in the NAO over the past twelve years. You do this by getting measurements for 50 years and you may include monsoons with a sampling of the real monsoon strength.

    This does not mean you have only had 15 years of measurements. You still have 150 years. The implication being projected by the denialist is that there’s no information to say whether the climate is changing.

    We KNOW the climate is changing.

    I note that you missed the “in any case” section. Quite convenient for you.

    If you know that a bridge will span only 100ft gap, you don’t have to do more than one or two measurements to prove it.

    Likewise, we KNOW that CO2 from fossil fuel burning is up in the atmosphere. We KNOW how much. We KNOW that it blankets IR emission from the ~300K earth and not from the ~6000K sun.

    The models and so on are to quantify HOW MUCH heating will be the result when all feedbacks are complete. The models are to quantify WHERE climate changes will occur and HOW they will manifest. They aren’t to *prove* that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and they aren’t there to *prove* we put CO2 up there. We can measure that now, this instant, in exactly the same way as we can measure my height right now, this instant and get a result that is my height.

  174. Barton Paul Levenson:

    Fred Staples writese:

    I do not claim that the last decade disproves AGW theory, although the falling temperatures do not add support.

    No matter how many times you write that temperatures are falling, they still aren’t. Lose the hyphens and read:

  175. Barton Paul Levenson:

    jcbmack writes:

    Did you mean “they have mathematical formulae?” Because I can assure you they do.

    Not in the way a law does, like the laws of thermodynamics. Gravity really is a law and GR and SR are quite established theories, but they do not have one formula that behaves as a proof in the way thermodynamics does, though no one seriously dipsutes GR and SR in the physics community, thet merely add new possibilities under differemt circumstances.

    Try neatly quantifying evolution.

    The division you are using between “theory” and “law” originated with creationists and is not valid. Gravitation, SR and GR are considered theories. A law usually refers to one specific equation.

    To quantify evolution, you can either use the statistical analyses of R.A. Fisher and T. Sewall Wright, or measure a particular evolutionary development in darwins, the unit of evolutionary change (google it).

  176. Barton Paul Levenson:

    jcbmack writes:

    Now E= MC squared does nicely represent the first law of thermodynamics

    No it doesn’t. It’s the Einstein mass-energy relation for an object stationary in a given inertial frame of reference. Thermodynamics doesn’t come into it.

  177. Mark:

    Martin, #165.

    I don’t know what’s going on either, but one possibility is this: Scale Heights.

    If you have a lot of one gas that has a short scale height, you may have at four levels:


    of that gas.

    If your CO2 is less prevalent but has a huge scale height, it may go


    which would make the percent concentration go up as follows:


    This has the concentration of CO2 going up with height (since the rest of the atmosphere goes down with height quicker, meaning that for every million other atoms, more of them are CO2). And nothing other than static equilibrium needed. Is this what’s happening here?

    Since you don’t know either, how do we know whether this phenomena is of any use whatsoever?

  178. Martin Vermeer:

    Mark #177: yes, I know about scale height. Two problems:
    1) CO2 is heavier than the rest of dry air, molar mass 44 against 29. So this explanation might work for the stratosphere (though I rather suspect that’s a delayed response to the anthropogenic increase there)
    2) The troposphere is undergoing active mixing. Read Eric’s article. It takes quite some time in a stagnant air column for molecular species to settle out according to their individual scale heights.

    BTW the gradients in the Archer model are very large… I know the phenomenon is real, but are we looking at some artefact there? Still unable to find any references. Bummer.

  179. Ray Ladbury:

    Fred Jorgensen, Jim Hansen was hardly a voice in the wilderness when he predicted significant warming in the mid to late ’80s. His prediction was well within the realm of accepted scientific opinion.
    The fact is if you increase CO2 concentrations, the globe must warm unless the physics changes dramatically at 280 ppmv or current temperatures. There is no evidence for such changes. Aerosols may retard the temperature rise for awhile, but given that CO2 persists on the order of 10x linter than aerosols in the atmosphere, CO2 eventually wins.

  180. Hank Roberts:

    > how do we know (Mark and Martin)

    We’re testing the limits to “you can look it up.”

    Back when the speed of thought was still 1200 baud, I once had a memorable long discussion at a party that people still remind me of occasionally, with an expert professional library search expert. She had mastered all the pro tools and all the new online tools like “ftp” and “gopher” and had accounts on the many commercial firewalled data sets, knew all the ways to write queries, and wrote books on searching.

    I acknowledged that — still do, “ask a reference librarian” is always good advice — but I elaborated on my favorite tool, Usenet: find the relevant newsgroups, and ask a clear, well phrased, and interesting question, catch the eye of someone who knew something not findable online, and tickle her or his fancy sufficiently that the answer would trickle down from the brain to the fingers through the keyboard and become findable thereafter, by searching in News.

    That often worked for me, still does — people share pre-publication or unpublished/unpublishable data that might cast light on some dark area, when they see a somewhat intelligent question being asked. It’s basic human kindness in action.

    I’m just summing up Eric Raymond’s “how to ask questions the smart way” — and the answer to Mark’s “how do we know …?” is “eventually someone will accomplish the homework, or our Eric here will tell us how to look up the answer.”

    The depth of information researchers have does go way beyond what we amateurs get. It’s important to remember this, humbling as it is.

  181. Dennis Baker:

    You have 2 wishes left…………

    “But it is possible, after all, that somewhere in that barrage of letters lies a brilliant idea that ought to be heard”

    Human Excrement + Nuclear Waste = Hydrogen

    Yours Sincerely
    Dennis Baker

  182. foodtube:

    Isn’t it common practice in a green house to raise CO2 to 500-800ppm? From what I could find on the web it appears most plants are CO2 starved below 200ppm and do quite well with elevated levels.

    Before I get beat up, I’m not suggesting this implies society can go on belching CO2 into the atmosphere. Rather I’m confused as to why this is controversial.

    [Response: It’s not controversial. It only ever becomes an issue if someone insists that this trumps all greenhouse gas effects – which it does not. -gavin]

  183. Diversity:

    My experience is as a policy adviser, not a scientist. I offer the following as a general and basic answer to those who deny the need to act on climate change as the scientific evidence suggests. If you feel it useful, please use it. If it needs amendment, please amend it.

    The Basis of Science.

    Each and every scientific theory is formed on the basis of incomplete information. It is therefore presumptively true that all scientific theories can be expected to be found to be wrong and/or incomplete. Sometimes we have already detected some of the wrongness/incompleteness. Gravity is a current example: we have imcompatible theories of macro and quantum gravity. In other cases we have not yet detected it.

    To detect wrongness or incompleteness in a theory, it is sufficient to find data it fails to explain. To challenge a theory with a new theory, you require a new theory which explains the available data more fully.

    Action on a Basis of Scientific Theory

    If policy makers have to decide to act or not act in a field to which scientific theory may be relevant, they must take a judgemental bet on whether their decision will be improved by taking account of the scientific theory. That bet should be informed by the explanatory power of the theory in the area affected by the decision. If they decide to not take account of a relevant theory with high explanatory power, they will be betting very much against the odds.

    Policy makers should not expect the scientific theory to explain all the data. It is to be expected for any scientific theory that some data will be found that it can not or can not yet explain.

    Global Warming

    The generally accepted body of theory relating to global warming explains a very large part of the available data, but not all of it. The theory is therefore patently incomplete – like our theories of gravity. However, unlike the case of gravity, we have no competing theories of the evolution of our climate with anything approaching the explanatory power of the generally accepted theory. It is therefore the best currently available basis for decision on whether and how to act or not to act on climate change. To decide on any other basis yet offered is to bet against high odds.

    In challenging the generally accepted theory as a basis for policy action, it is beside the point to show isolated data that the theory does not explain. It is to be expected that there will be some such data. To challenge a theory as a basis for action, you need to demonstrate that it is inconsistent in itself, or with other accepted theory, or that the theory produces predictions incompatible with observed reality, or that another theory explains the existing data at least as fully. None of these requirements for a challenge have yet been met.

    It follows that policy decisions on climate change are best based on the generally accepted scientific theory.

  184. jcbmack:

    Bartton # 175. You are in error. We have statistical techniques and other tools of measurememnt to gain insights into evolution, not neatly quantify it. Also I have no arguments against evolution, perhaps you misunderstood me? I have extensive background in genetics, cell-molecular and evolutionary biology, no need to google it, evolution as far as theories go, is a fact, that gets amended as new data and observations are validated, so do not misunderstand what I am saying, but most evolutionary biologists would not say that evolution is quantified.

  185. jcbmack:

    Barton # 176, again you partially right… E=MC2 is used in mathematics, chemistry and physics and applies more openly to sytstems than just “mass-energy relation for an object stationary in a given inertial frame of reference.” The mass mass energy relation holds other implications, oh and for the record I am not a creationist, my background includes Biochemistry and physical chemistry, evo biology, and all the trimmings:)

  186. jcbmack:

    Mark # 171 Well Mark you miss one important point: the experiments you speak of will give us data, so no argument on that point. And regarding AGW I am not a denialist, I look at all the available data, but NASA’s and the NOAA data is very clear. The rigours of science are very important and take years of training to implement, but your reply still confirms we need more data, whether it is in the form of a particle and how it behaves, mathematical equations that uphold or are upheld by dicovery and validation by other scientists. This will not change.

  187. jcbmack:

    Bartn, on a final notr, we did not disagree on a law usually having a neat mathematical equation, which was what I precisely stated. Some creationists do use thermodynamics to argue against evolution, but that is not what I am doing here; as an expert on evolutionary processes I would never do that.

  188. jcbmack:

    I suggest you guys read: Title: On Relativistic Thermodynamics. Enrico Fermi Institute for Nuclear Studies, University of Chicago.
    Authors: Balazs, N. L.
    Journal: Astrophysical Journal, vol. 128, p.398

    Even back in trigonmetry we played around with E=MC2 and explosions.

  189. Mark:

    Martin, #178. You shouldn’t use molar masses. Use density.

    That works out somewhat similar in the case of N2/O2 mixture (the air is mostly N1 and that’s quite a bit less dense than O2), but by not using the right metrics, you are either opening yourself up to being dismissed as ignorant or explaining why you don’t know what’s going on.

    Then again, what’s the point of answering that question?

  190. jcbmack:

    Another outstanding site! This makes it easy to understand:)

  191. jcbmack:

    The laws of thermodynamics never change:) No matter what the conditions.

  192. jcbmack:

    Barton Paul take a course covering statistical thermodynamics.

  193. jcbmack:

    I fear the moderators are not around to chat with:) Realizing this is a blog, however, I would like to chat with the experts:)

  194. jcbmack:

    Gravity is observed in all the known universe as far as we see how stars behave and billions of light years through spectral and various telescopes. Gravity is a law, GR SR very well upheld, quantum theory is really law, string theory is more of a hypothesis that probably will be mostly correct, but until we have more data, however, it seems reasonable.

  195. jcbmack:

    Ok Homework questions: Derive analytical epressions for the flux F and the temporal concetrations change using partial derivatives @c/@t for the following one dimensional conectrations distrubutions: (a) C(x)=a+bx; (b)C(x)= a-bx-cx squared;(c)C(x)= c0 exp(-ax);m(d)C(x)=a sin(bx). The parameters a,b,c, and diffusity D are connstant and positive.

    Expand Fick’s law and Gauss’ theorem to three dimensional and derive Fick’s second law for the general situation that the diffusivities Dx, Dy, and Dz are not equal (anisotropic diffusion) and vary in space. Show the result can then be reduced to this using the Bernoulli coefficient (look it up) provided that D is isotropic (Dx= Dy =Dz) and spatially constant.

    Oh and define, explain and write out the Stokes-Einstein relation, this one is easy. it is a gift:)

  196. Richard C:

    Hmm, the jcbmack blog. Thanks, I’ll pass.

  197. jcbmack:

    Why does everyone disagree with NASA and Einstein?

  198. Philip Machanick:

    For those who want a mathematical basis for all science: Rutherford once said something like all science is either physics or stamp collecting. I’ve never seen this interpreted but my best guess is that he regarded science that had no mathematical foundation as little more than arbitrary classification. Evolutionary biology would be an example in Rutherford’s time, but modern genome analysis is starting to provide a model. You may argue it has a statistical component, but so has quantum physics. Biologists today calculate splits in the evolutionary tree using tools like random mutation rates. Some of the theory like the notion that there is “junk DNA” is hotly contested but this is all pretty new, and a rapidly developing field.

    Back on topic: my congratulations to Tim Curtin for so ably demonstrating the exact point of the main article.

  199. jcbmack:

    Could not resist:

    Quote: “Frame dragging is one of the last frontiers in relativity. More familiar and already proven are the conversion of mass into energy (as seen in atomic bombs and stars) and back, the Lorentz transformations that make objects near the speed of light grow thinner and heavier and stretch time, and the warping of space by gravity.” (as seen when light is bent by a massive object).

  200. Hank Roberts:

    Mark wrote:
    “… (the air is mostly N1 and that’s quite a bit less dense than O2)”

    Check your source, that’s wrong.

  201. jcbmack:

    Richard C, one less vegetable in the stew, good just the same if it’s too hot, stay out.

  202. jcbmack:

    # 198, not a bad point, but we have known about introns since the nineties and introns, or “junk DNA,” is pretty well established nowadays. Evoultionary biological trends cannot be predicted, only understood in hidnsight and and some aspects of genetics utilize quite well, probability, but evolutionary biology is far more qualitative than quantum mechanics and broad as well.

  203. jcbmack:

    One correction, my microbiology txtbook from the seventies discussed introns in quite elegant detail, just like centrioles are not necessary in mitosis:)This economy based upon green span economics and quasi reganomics has given me alot of free time as you can see:)

  204. Martin Vermeer:

    Diversity #183, could be useful but the problem with “the generally accepted body of theory relating to global warming” is not that it is either wrong or incomplete, but that operational results based on it will suffer from uncertainty, i.e., imprecision, due to the way that in the theoretical framework, precision is propagated from data to results. I.e., it explains all of the available data, but some of it poorly. You could call this incompleteness, but it is of a different kind (to illustrate, replacing Newtonian by Einsteinian gravitation in the global circulation models wouldn’t be helpful; that’s not where the problem lies.)

    Otherwise your logic of how to properly use scientific knowledge under uncertainty for policy making is impeccable.

  205. Mark:

    Hank, 200, “N2”. However, the quick google turned up different units, so I may have divvied the wrong way.

    Supply the answers. It would be far more useful than beeing sarky.

  206. Mark:

    #194. No. Gravty is a fact. Not Law. g=GMm/r^2 is a law. It’s also a wrong description of the fact of gravity. It’s close enough a model of gravity to work at slow speeds, “small” masses (planetary) and macro scales.

  207. Mark:

    191. The real universe doesn’t follow thermodynamic laws. It’s called “Ideal Gas Law” for a reason.

    Both describe the universe sufficiently to be useful. But only within the realms that the law is appliccable and for which the errors from realities version are ignorable. E.g. a gas that is not too dense to break the ideal gas assumption that the molecules are point particles and cold enough to avoid light speed travel.

    Heck, it breaks down when you shoot a supersonic bullet through the gas.

  208. Dennis Baker:

    Lost in the volume of responces that were highly intelligent yet off topic.

    go figure
    dennis baker

  209. Ed Beroset:

    For what it’s worth, I found that David Archer’s book, _Global Warming: Understanding the Forecast_ was quite readable and enlightening. If you find yourself having difficulty explaining some of this stuff to engineers, perhaps you could recommend this book. Because it proceeds step by step and includes the math and increasingly complex modeling, I think it does a good job of explaining both the fundamental physical aspects of climate change and the inherent complexity. Perhaps you’ve been shy about recommending it since it’s featured on these pages, but I don’t have such restrictions — I’m just an engineer who bought a copy of the book and found it interesting and useful.

  210. Barton Paul Levenson:

    jcbmack writes:

    Barton # 176, again you partially right… E=MC2 is used in mathematics, chemistry and physics and applies more openly to sytstems than just “mass-energy relation for an object stationary in a given inertial frame of reference.” The mass mass energy relation holds other implications, oh and for the record I am not a creationist, my background includes Biochemistry and physical chemistry, evo biology, and all the trimmings:)

    Super. My degree is in physics. The Einstein mass-energy relation has nothing to do with thermodynamics. I’ll derive it for you.

    The general equation is:

    E^2 = m^2 c^4 + p^2 c^2

    where E is energy, m mass, c the velocity of light in a vacuum, and p relativistic momentum. For an object stationary in the inertial frame of reference under discussion, p = 0 and the equation becomes

    E^2 = m^2 c^4

    Taking the square root of both sides:

    E = m c^2.

  211. Barton Paul Levenson:

    jcbmack writes:

    Barton Paul take a course covering statistical thermodynamics.

    What makes you think I haven’t?

  212. Barton Paul Levenson:

    jcbmack writes:

    Why does everyone disagree with NASA and Einstein?

    We don’t. We disagree with your idiosyncratic ideas about what they said.

  213. Barton Paul Levenson:

    jcbmack writes:

    Quote: “Frame dragging is one of the last frontiers in relativity. More familiar and already proven are the conversion of mass into energy (as seen in atomic bombs and stars) and back, the Lorentz transformations that make objects near the speed of light grow thinner and heavier and stretch time, and the warping of space by gravity.” (as seen when light is bent by a massive object).

    Don’t know who you’re quoting, but it doesn’t sound like a contemporary physicist. Physicists nowadays do not say that mass increases with velocity, only momentum; mass is taken as an invariant. This is because momentum, like velocity, is a vector quantity and mass is a scalar. If you use the old “mass increases with velocity” scheme you have to specify at what angle you’re measuring the mass, and deal with “radial mass” and “transverse mass.” Thus the change in scheme.

  214. Barton Paul Levenson:

    I just want to commend Hank for the footwork he’s been doing in this and other forums. Most of us (i.e. me) are usually too lazy to go search the ‘net for relevant references unless we’re involved in some kind of argument.

    Mark, thanks for posting. I don’t deny that there’s a “Law of Gravity,” but I deny jcbmack’s contention that “the Law of Gravity” is somehow higher than “the Theory of Gravitation.” He may be a scientist, as he claims, but I feel fairly confident in saying he’s never studied philosophy of science. “Theory” is as good as it gets in a science, a theory is the working model for an entire field or subfield.

  215. Chris Schoneveld:

    In response to foodtube # 182 Gavin says: “It’s not controversial. It only ever becomes an issue if someone insists that this trumps all greenhouse gas effects – which it does not”.

    Maybe it does, Gavin. How can you be so sure? With all due respect you are a well known (be it controversial) climate scientist but you are not the most qualified person to make that claim. Stick to you own expertise (or give some peer reviewed papers to back your claim) but don’t pretend to have in depth biological and geological knowledge to outright dismiss the possibility that by emitting CO2 in the atmosphere mankind may (for a change) do something good for life on earth. With an ever increasing world population maybe the benefits of increased food production thanks to higher CO2 levels (as well as the increase of the surface area fit for agriculture) outweigh the risks?

    Why do we hear so little of the benefits of a warmer climate? Climate change cannot be all bad, surely there are benefits to be had. Isn’t it true that the pre-industrial CO2 levels of 280 ppm were the lowest in geological history and that life on earth (including coral reefs, for those who claim that the Great Barrier Reef will be doomed) thrived with CO2 levels between 1000 and 2000 ppm in the Cretaceous period? Only in the Late Carboneferous/Early Permian CO2 levels were as low as they are now.

    [Response: I am neither well known nor controversial. But as to your main point – take sea level rise – who benefits from that? Sure there are some areas that will gain from small climate changes – vineyards in the UK for instance, perhaps wheat in Canada. But everyone who has looked at the costs vs benefits comes up with a net negative, and increasingly so as climate change gets worse. Tropical agriculture in particular is very sensitive to the projected temperature changes and associated changes in rainfall patterns. The issue has never been that the climate is today ideal – only that it is the climate we are adapted to (however imperfectly). Note that Cretaceous sea levels where ~100m higher than today. – gavin]

  216. Hank Roberts:

    Mark, nitrogen and oxygen are both diatomic molecules in the atmosphere. Was “N1” just a typo?
    Still haven’t got an answser for Eric.

    [Response: I’ll get back to this when I can. Busy.
    Meanwhile, I’m closing comments, because with election day tomorrow there will be too much temptation for people to inject their political views into the comments section of the blog!–eric]

  217. James Staples:

    From the (‘lay-scientist’, real scientist wanna-be) guy who you Honored by re-enforcing my – much decried by the other bloggers – observation that, by using SO2 to ‘Geoengineer’ our way out of having to use Good Sense to solve our Most Pressing of Planetary Issues, would only lead to more Acid Rain, Ocean Acidification, and – ultimately, or so I conjectured – the loss of our Primary source of the Oxygen that we all need to Breathe – Phytoplankton; I must say that I TRULY APPRECIATE what you do!
    Somewhere out there are an Army of Einsteins and – perhaps more pertinently, as he had only a 10th Grade education – Farradays, who – like me – got screwed over by Bad Teachers, Bad Schools, and/or our own Bad Teenaged Selves; all of who can – and should bve allowed to – take part in the Scientific Process, even if we do not (yet) have ‘some letters after our names’.
    The sad fact is that I’ve met more Very Intelligent People – who’ve been sidelined in Life, by our TOO Fascististic System – in Homeless Feed-Stations, than I’ve seen on T.V.!!!
    Thank You for giving ME a Voice! I promise to Keep Fighting the Good Fight (in my case, with Christians in the S.S.A. who’ve wronged me Badly), and – when I win – to get my Ambitions to get those ‘Letters’ (like: PhD, for example) after my name!
    I’m only 43 years young; and I know a Woman who did just that – at 69!!!

  218. Diversity:

    Martin 204
    Thanks. I take inference under uncertainty for granted. I forget that many others do not. Amended text below.

    The following is offered as a general and basic answer to those who deny the need to act on climate change as the scientific evidence suggests. If you feel it useful, please use it. If it needs amendment, please amend it.

    The Basis of Science.

    Each and every scientific theory is formed on the basis of incomplete information. It is therefore presumptively true that all scientific theories can be expected to be found to be wrong and/or incomplete. Sometimes we have already detected some of the wrongness/incompleteness. Gravity is a current example: we have imcompatible theories of macro and quantum gravity. In other cases we have not yet detected it.

    To detect wrongness or incompleteness in a theory, it is sufficient to find data it fails to explain. To challenge a theory with a new theory, you require a new theory which explains the available data more fully.

    Action on a Basis of Scientific Theory

    If policy makers have to decide to act or not act in a field to which scientific theory may be relevant, they must take a judgemental bet on whether their decision will be improved by taking account of the scientific theory. That bet should be informed by the explanatory power of the theory in the area affected by the decision. If they decide to not take account of a relevant theory with high explanatory power, they will be betting very much against the odds.

    Policy makers should not expect the scientific theory to explain all the data. It is to be expected for any scientific theory that some data will be found that it can not or can not yet explain.

    Global Warming

    The generally accepted body of theory relating to global warming explains a very large part of the available data, but not all of it. The theory is therefore patently incomplete – like our theories of gravity. However, unlike the case of gravity, we have no competing theories of the evolution of our climate with anything approaching the explanatory power of the generally accepted theory. It is therefore the best currently available basis for decision on whether and how to act or not to act on climate change. To decide on any other basis yet offered is to bet against high odds.

    The fact that many quantative estimates for variables in the generally accepted theory are and will be subject to substantial margins of uncertainty qualifies conclusions to be drawn from the theory. However, these margins are not and cannot be a basis for refusing to accept the theory as the best available basis for policy.

    In challenging the generally accepted theory as a basis for policy action, it is also beside the point to show isolated data that the theory does not explain. It is to be expected that there will be some such data. To challenge a theory as a basis for action, you need to demonstrate that it is inconsistent in itself, or with other accepted theory, or that the theory produces predictions incompatible with observed reality, or that another theory explains the existing data at least as fully. None of these requirements for a challenge have yet been met.

    It follows that policy decisions on climate change are best based on the generally accepted scientific theory.

  219. Mark:

    Hank, #215, yes.

    BPL, #214, I would say that “the Law Of Gravity” is there, but it isn’t gravity. It’s an explanation of what you can predict gravity to do. jcb hasn’t taken philosophy of science, I agree. Neither have I but I like to read and I’ve read lots. I say

    a) there is Gravity. It isn’t a law or a theory. It is itself.
    b) newton created a gravitational law. It exists but isn’t gravity. As an explanation of what gravity does, it has some use. Quite a lot for us humans, really, but not for knowing what is REALLY going on
    c) GR or QG are like newton’s gravitational laws a mathematical model that tries to explain what gravity will do. They work where newton’s laws are too inaccurate but they don’t work in each others playground and so we know they are wrong as an explanation of how gravity itself works.

    Martin, #204. Congratulations. You took all you’ve learned and then applied them where they don’t apply.

    There is no “model” of CO2 being a greenhouse gas. There is the FACT of it. It does it. How is answered by models but the fact of it is that CO2 traps IR and lets VR pass.


    In exactly the same way as we KNOW that if you drop a ball, it will fall down. Fact. It does it. How it does it and why is a model, but even if your model is “intelligent falling” the ball still falls, no matter how wrong your model.

    So how does a model being wrong in some way stop CO2 being a GG? Why is it that a model that says it will do X is wrong in *just such a way* as to make it actually less than X or even nonexistent? The universe doesn’t know what you want, it does what it does, irrespective of your needs or desires.

    It doesn’t.

    CO2 being a GG is a fact of the sun being much hotter than the earth.

    And no error in any model used to explain how it does it changes that fact.

  220. Alastair McDonald:

    Re #215

    Hank, you still have not given a proper reply. :-(

    Mark wrote

    Martin, #178. You shouldn’t use molar masses. Use density.

    That works out somewhat similar in the case of N2/O2 mixture (the air is mostly N1 and that’s quite a bit less dense than O2), but by not using the right metrics, you are either opening yourself up to being dismissed as ignorant or explaining why you don’t know what’s going on.

    Then again, what’s the point of answering that question?

    1) Molar masses and density give the same results because one mole of all ideal gasses have the same volume.

    2) The air is 78% N2 not N1.

    3) N2 has a molecular weight of 28 and O2 has a molecular weight of 32, so air has a molecular weight of 29 as already mentioned by Martin.

    4) CO2 has a molecular weight of 12 + O2 = 44 so it 50% heavier than air but that is not enough to cause it separate out, particularly in the turbulent conditions of the troposphere.

    Surely you knew all this. Why so coy?

    Cheers, Alastair.

  221. jcbmack:

    Physical chemistry is a combination of chemistry and physics,it is fine that you derived the equation, but it relates to thermodynamics just the same; chemists make those lasers work, those DVD’s play, and I have taken calculus physics, modern physics,(multi variable calculus physics)which means technically I too have a degree in physics, but my focus has been chemistry, biology, and I took a few graduate courses dealing with meteorology, ocean dynamics,geology, atmospheric science and my undergraduate courses were filled with earth science related material and after all the math needed for Pchem engineering mathematics is not difficult nor is graduate physics:)so the derivation you just made is discussed in math classes before, even calculus one, so I am not sure what you are trying to prove.

    Barton, the quote is from NASA’s site, sorry, I should have left the reference, I will leave next time I post. I acknowledge your comment on vector versus scalar quantities.
    And no my ideas are not idiosyncratic, they are consistent with the raw data, the math which supports it and reasonable implications they hold.

    Oh and Mark, be careful, thermodynamics laws are never broken, no matter what the situation. Mark study the real gas laws. Thermodynamics always holds. Some considerations are kinetic as opposed to thermodynamic, but these laws have never been broken by any observed phenomena or plausible calculation. In p chem we really got into real gases, no more ideal, though yes,under many situations an ideal gas model will suffice.

    Also I left plenty of references to show my points, if you have time, read them. Engineers utilize the ideal gas laws as it is easier to work with and provides as a tool to get good approximations of real gas behavior. Any real gas condenses to a liquid or a solid at some temperature higher than absolute zero, and this is why ideal gas laws are only approximations, albeit useful ones.

    At sufficiently low pressures: Pv = nrt (absolute pressure times volume equals number of moles times ideal gas constant times absolute temperature)
    Now a real gas equation, Van der waals: (p+a /VM2) (Vm-b)= RT. Vm is molar volume. Or represented as: P+a divided by V2 (v-b)= nRT. This is just a small example, however, keep in mind that aerodynamics, Mark is a very nasty science, a bullet propelled through the air does nothing to dispute thermodynamics, and the way in which thrust, drag, lift and weight effect the moving body, all obeys the laws of physics and is described nicely by aerodynamics. For example, for airplanes it is all newtonian mechanics anyways, not relativity, and 1/2 rho v squared gives the air density at a particular altitude. We have the balancing and unbalancing forces, the friction, heat production, local conditions; temperature itself just being the average kinetic energy.

    Physics can all be explained by physical chemistry, in a very practical way.

    When I say law for gravity, well, it has been around (theory of gravity) long enough validated, and observed long enough that under the appropriate conditions it is always true and complete and it is quantifed neatly in the math itself. I do not dispute that quantum gravity and string theory are going to as they are amended and data provided, provide further insight. Even then gravity is pretty well in tact, that apple will not stop falling on your head:) Even laws sometimes are refuted, theories are not laws in the making per se, laws are neatly quantified usually by one equation and have been upheld for a very long time. Evolution on the other hand, has been upheld for a long time, but lacks a neat equation to sum it up AND though it is accepted as a scientific explanation with over a hundred years of evidence to support it, we do have key missing points and we cannot predict future niche trends like we can calculate the position of a moving body at a particular time.
    In physics we most certainly played around with E= MC2, anyone care to tell me what the original equation looked like before it became E=MC2? (M=e/c squared) It still represents mass and energy conservation. Of course the laws of physics are the same in all inertial frames and the speed of light is constant in all inertial frames.

    B meson deacy: E= (pc)2 + mc (mc22 Where p equals momentum the product of mass and velocity. Energy and momentum conservation tell us that the motion of things before decay and the motion of things after decay have to add up to equal.

    So E= MC2 only works for masses that are rest all by itself, but in a branch of physics, particle physics, nothing is ever at rest, however, E=MC2 forms a basis for other calculations do be made and without it, many of them would be impossible. When forming anti-electrons for example, for use in collisions, the equivalence of mass and energy is the explanation of how they are produced.

    Also the C2 aspect of the equation acts as a symbol of an enormous amount of energy that can be produced from a small amount of matter which is traveling at the speed of light; we then get into interesting paradoxes like: an object approaching the speed of light would have infinite mass, but an object traveling at the speed of light has no mass. (photons, and light duality)

    E= MC2 also tells us that the mass of the reactants is the same as the mass of the products in a chemical reaction (Lavoisier 1770’s)and law of conservation of energy in that particular reaction are not right. When water is formed from hydrogen and oxygen, the weight is a little bit less than would be expected. Now the change is so small, that it is not really noticeable until you see the data from nuclear reactors and particle accelerators.

    Think of it this way a few grams of any substance if completely converted to energy would be equal to the power of an atomic bomb.Of course these converesions do not occur readily or under normal circumstances. and this is a good thing, as we would not be able to sustain life if it did.

    All the laws do connect and as we know matter cannot be created or destroyed, their is no violation by any other law in this regard.

  222. jcbmack:

    On that note, I am going to look at this new blog with great interest on the Global Climate Models, and refrain from rhetoric:)

  223. Conservative Pessimist:

    The total energy content of the world is constant and the total entropy is continually increasing.

    First and second laws of thermodynamics.

    [Response: … which apply for a closed system only. The climate is however open. Ice ages anyone? – gavin]

  224. Hank Roberts:

    It’s a typo or from some source; don’t see how it helps with the CO2 question. There’s so much physics being asserted without sources now I’m just admiringly confused.

  225. jcbmack:

    Absolutely right Gavin:) if it were closed we would be in big trouble:)

    On another note on the speed of light, quantum mechanical tunneling assists in explaining why the emission slows down from the initial velocity from the sun:) So when we say the speed of light in a vaccum it is not that light slows in velocity, literally, but emissions do slow, final versus initial.

    The isotopic data(e.g. carbon and strontium)along with the various other proxy data and even the little ice age in the 1800’s make it quite clear, that heat levels (absorbance, transfer, etc…) do change. Entropy does increase, but into the universe, also active processes protect objects from immediate effects of entropy. (cloud formations, or in the body, anabolic processes, and energy coupling)The sun supplies energy and not all of the energy remains, only a portion does, without it, it would pretty cold.

    The earth is a system that does have natural responses to artificial insults, just the limits are becoming teased.

  226. jcbmack:

    So the laws of thermodynamics are not violated, they just need to be understood. The earth is still warming and some heat and some escapes. Entropy is certainly not theoretical, people need to read and learn what it is all about. For the non scientist there comes a point where they can no further without schooling or reading from the basics of theory, law, math and connecting the dots and working through the problems and finding the real answers.

  227. jcbmack:

    Mark, the Scientia Media and Monlinism: scientia media was a ky term used in the theology of Luis de Molina (1535-1600)Jesuits, later on instructed using variants of his teaching, by such persons as: Robert Bellarmine, Leonard Lessius, Francisco Suarez, and Gabriel Vasquez, which attempted to resolve the apparent conflict between the doctrines of grace and free will.

    Scientific method: “method,” means “following a way,” from Greek, which meant along way. Descartes wrote an important work titled: Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting the Reason and Seeking Truths in the Sciences. By the time of Newton the concerns narrowed to natural philosophy. Rules of Reasoning in philosophy, Newton’s own work sums this up nicely. Newtom himself claimed to not make hypotheses, but he in fact had notions that seemed very hypothetical:) We should find greater reward in seeing what the scientist does as opposed to what he says about it, an objectied stance on a subjective person in a “paradigm,” or school of thought that attempts to be objective.

    Of course the Greeks long before attempted to explain the laws and natue of the univers long before anything like the modern ideology of science developed, which by the way was not a continuous process (medival times, Salem witch trials, etc…) Then again the Egyptians had mathematical and scientific methods that we still do not understand to this day. (pyramid building the exacting measurements of the stones cut) The Hebrews also forged weapons of such high tensile strength that we still have difficulties in archaeological metalurgy to this day replicating such swords. The development of the sickle sword has some interesting history.

  228. jcbmack:

    the understanding of what constitutes reality, cause and effect and this epic debate are also captured well by David Hume and Immanuel Kant. And again to reitterate I mentioned Kuhn and Popper.

  229. jcbmack:

    I own the Encyclopedia of Philosphy, Complete and unabridged, entire set from Macmillan Publishing Co., & The Free Press. Great tool, the books are a little dusty, but they do an excellent job in elucidating minutia in esotetic matters, as well as telling the background story in a really detailed manner.

  230. Mark:

    Tried understanding it jcb?

  231. jcbmack:

    Ask me a question Mark and you will see… Took formal classes and I have had students in the subject matter.

  232. jcbmack:

    Ethics courses served me well also. Within science, however, we do not think of things in exactly the same wey, we are busy answering difficult questions that only science can answer, where philosophy is only the bearing: how is the discovery going to be appllied, ethically.

  233. jcbmack:

    Mark,you are like a cookie for the cookie monster… and I have not had a cookie in quite some time:)

  234. Rod B:

    Careful how the cookie crumbles… ;-)

  235. mndean:

    I must apologize for trusting the New Yorker’s index system. I found that William Steig was drawing covers for them even as far back as 1932, if not farther.

  236. jcbmack:

    Cookies can get messy:)

  237. Mark:

    jcb you’ll notice that the cookie monster never actually EATS the cookies. He just makes a mess.

    An Analogy Time production.

    Thank you.

    Now, two people here really don’t feel you’re thinking of the philosophy of science. One could be just a difference of opinion. Two is an indicator that either

    a) you don’t understand it
    b) you aren’t able to indicate your understanding

    Bohr had a problem with (b) so don’t feel bad.