Saturday, August 27, 2011

Miscellaeous News: Adam & Eve, Creationism in the classroom

I've been a little distracted of late, with either prep and/or cleanup from earthquakes (Wow!  My first earthquake where it was clearly an earthquake!) and hurricanes along the U.S. east coast, so here's a post of some creation/evolution news items of relevance.

I like posting the slashdot link to many of these despite the rather low signal-to-noise ratio of the comment.  The slashdot audience is sufficiently technically and scientifically savvy that the comments often include interesting and relevant side-links not included in the main story.

Slashdot: Evangelical Scientists Debate Creation Story
Evangelicals Question The Existence Of Adam And Eve
by Barbara Bradley Hagerty

Some interesting quotes from the article:
Venema is part of a growing cadre of Christian scholars who say they want their faith to come into the 21st century.
This must happen, or Christians risk scientific and technological illiteracy vital to maintaining a growing a modern society.  Many of the creationists who comment in this blog have no idea of how many of the technologies they use depend on science which they wish to deny.
“From my viewpoint, a historical Adam and Eve is absolutely central to the truth claims of the Christian faith,“ says Fazale Rana, vice president of Reasons To Believe
I'm a bit disappointed in this as I do follow some of RTBs content.  Their astronomy is pretty good but I often disagree with some of their theological content.  I find it interesting that as more extrasolar planets are discovered, their position seems to be slowly migrating away from a doctrine that humans must be the only intelligent life in the cosmos.

BioLogos and the June 2011 “Christianity Today” Cover Story

Slashdot: Teacher Cannot be Sued for Denying Creationism

NCSE: A final victory in Texas
Creationists loose big in a case over science textbooks.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Setterfield, SED (Stochastic Electrodynamics), and NASA

I recently received an e-mail query in regards to Barry Setterfield's activities. I've been a little slack keeping up on that front as Mr. Setterfield began attaching many of his claims to the Electric Universe and I've had a lot of activity there.

The query reported that a Dutch site was suggesting that NASA was using a theory called SED for futuristic propulsion and that SED was related to Barry Setterfield's zero-point energy (ZPE) driver for his theory of c-decay (for more details on the problems with Setterfield's work, see additional links).

After a few searches, I found an English translation that was probably the original source of the information, which turned out to be the Zero Point Energy page on Setterfield's site.

Setterfield's page is largely a combination of quotations from more legitimate work spun together with Setterfield's own claims to make them appear consistent.  Setterfield often tries to connect his work to other, more legitimate work, probably in an attempt to raise his own credibility.  Most of it is pure nonsense that fails numerous other tests as documented in many other analyses.

Setterfield spends a lot of time trying to connect his use of the Zero-Point Energy (ZPE) to Stochastic Electrodynamics (SED), and then makes the NASA connection:
Setterfield: “On the positive side, NASA and other organizations have hired SED physicists in order to discover a power source for spacecraft and earth-bound applications utilizing the ZPE.”

Just What Is SED?

SED is Stochastic Electrodynamics (wikipedia), basically an idea to explain quantum mechanical principles by incorporating some randomness in electrodynamics through an interaction with the zero-point energy (wikipedia).

SED is NOT Setterfield's idea.

SED's origin can be traced back to the 1960s.  While SED has enjoyed some successes in matching predictions of some quantum phenomena, it has not been uniformly successful.  Even one of its original proponents regards it as something of a failure.  From Trevor Marshall, one of the developers of SED:
“While achieving some notable successes, for example with the Casimir effect, SED must overall be judged a failure.“
Not everyone has given up on SED and are exploring other variants:
Contribution from stochastic electrodynamics to the understanding of quantum mechanics

Zero-point energy has often been invoked to support a number of pseudo-scientific claims, such as various types of 'free-energy' devices.  I've yet to find any demonstration of one of these devices that can conclusively produce more energy than goes into it from other sources.  Bob Park has written about some of these devices in his book, "Voodoo Science" (wikipedia).

Setterfield's statement that NASA is hiring SED physicists is a bit dated.  The group was chartered to explore possible advanced propulsion techniques and there was some examination of possible applications of ZPE.  However, the group was shut down some years ago due to budget cuts (NASA: Breakthrough Propulsion Physics).  I've not seen any evidence that the ZPE explorations by this group used any of Setterfield's 'ideas'.

The bottom line is that NASA is NOT using any of Setterfield's ideas related to the ZPE or even the SED methodology.

The Electric Universe Connection

Towards the end of Setterfield's ZPE page, Setterfield appears to be actively courting the Electric Universe advocates.
Setterfield: “It is interesting that some of the Thunderbolts group of correspondents do not accept the ZPE. In this context I might point out that there are a diverse group of correspondents there and not everyone has the same views. Furthermore, I presented a major paper about the ZPE and the redshift at a science conference in June, and Dave Talbott of Thunderbolts was there to hear it!”
The presentation in question is apparently based on Setterfield's ZPE paper: “Zero Point Energy and the Redshift“, PROCEEDINGS of the NPA 6(2):1-10, 2010.  This is apparently a follow-on to material I've written about before:
Update May 13, 2014: fixed broken link.

    Saturday, August 13, 2011

    Geocentrism: Laser Ranging Experiments

    Mr. Martin responds to "Stupid Geocentrist Tricks" with In Response to Dr Bridgmans "Stupid Geocentrist Tricks". I've already made some reply in the comments to the previous article.

    Mr. Martin's response is a collection of nonsense that can only be maintained if one is never required to test their claims against real physical measurements.
    Martin: "2. Science has demonstrated physical phenomena occur relative to earth as though the earth was stationary relative to the rest of the universe. As such, the geocentric model alone is the correct model."
    All of Mr. Martins 'proofs' of Geocentrism rely exclusively on experiments done on the Earth, while ignoring similar experiments elsewhere in space.
    Martin: "If Dr Bridgman denies this problem exists then let him have a look at a similar situation with the lunar laser ranging experiment. According to Dr Tom Murphy the experiment works by the mirror deforming according to relativity theory, causing the laser to bounce back in the mirror frame along a different line from which it entered, thereby the laser returns safely back to the moving earth. A clear indication of the mirror deformation is shown here figure 2, page 2 -"
    Here's an upper-level link to a larger collection of Dr. Murphy's documentation of Lunar Retro-Reflector (LRR) experiments.

    The Murphy paper discusses the aberration effect that must be considered in lunar ranging. I have already demonstrated that aberration effects have been measured and utilized for navigation purposes by satellites around the solar system (see Geocentrism: Ubiquitous aberrations) so Mr. Martin's claim that this is evidence for a motionless Earth are moot.

    The LRR is not the only laser ranging experiment.   I can think of three that have operated, or are operating, around the solar system:
    • MOLA was in orbit around Mars, 
    • LOLA is currently in lunar orbit, 
    • Messenger is at Mercury 
    (see Planetary Laser Altimetry). All these instruments operate by bouncing laser signals off the surface of the planet. All operate around the particular planet they orbit as if that planet were the center of the universe, or even as if the instrument itself were the center of the universe. The lasers use the exact same value of 'c' in computing their range from timing even though they are in motion relative to the Earth.  This is as expected from relativity.

    If the Earth were truly a distinguished coordinate system as Mr. Martin claims, then you would expect these laser altimeters to operate differently when orbiting another planet. Mr. Martin evades specifying what would be different in their operation. The simple fact is the laser altimeters operate exactly like they do when based the Earth, or Earth orbit, as predicted/expected by relativity.

    This is not an idle question.  If there were a way to distinguish a frame of absolute motion, it would be possible to build an actual 'speedometer' to ride aboard a spacecraft, instead of using the complex combination of spacecraft orientation and remote Doppler measurements currently required.  If Geocentrists are correct, they should be able to prove their case by the invention of such a device.

    Mr. Martin whines that Dr. Murphy won't respond to him. That is no mystery. People doing real work don't enjoy wasting their work time with Mr. Martin's type of silliness, whereas I do this as a hobby outside my day job.

    Mr. Martin cannot produce an experiment operating around the other planets, or in the space between them, that suggests Geocentrism is true. There are many experiments operating in these regions providing evidence that Geocentrism is false.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Goodies from my Recent Excursions

    Misconceptions in Sun-Earth Science

    From the education group for the IBEX mission, there's some plasma-science based Games & Activities. Of particular interest is Magnetic Pinball.

    Other plasma simulation explorations:

    I've written about the IBEX results and implications for claims of an electrically-powered Sun (and stars)