Sunday, August 17, 2014

News from Other Fronts

A little occupied with home projects and responsibilities the past month, so posting has fallen off.  I just realized it's been about three weeks since my last post. 

I've been responding to a fair amount of traffic from my interviews at Exposing PseudoAstronomy.
For the active comment stream, see Electric Universe Interview @ Exposing Pseudo-Astronomy, Part 2

In the meantime, I have collected a few good links to share.

TED: Why we should trust scientists 
A good presentation on what makes scientific opinions of better quality on some issues than the opinion of 'just anyone'.

On several occasions, I have brought attention to how the increased private enterprise presence in space opens opportunities for flying small experiments suitable for college and even high-school science classes.  ArduSats (Wikipedia) are one such opportunity.

In a recent CosmoQuest podcast (July 26: ArduSat), Pamela Gay discusses the implications of this capability with one of the developers.  About 37-40 minutes into the program, Dr. Gay suggests these satellites would provide an easy method for high school students to do their own test of relativity by flying an atomic clock on one of these satellites. 

I've challenged a number of those who claim that the GPS system does not use relativity to perform even simpler experiments, such as building a GPS receiver without relativistic corrections, to demonstrate their claim.  I've found no takers so far, and I assume this new opportunity for relativity-deniers will be evaded as well.

On Conspiracies
Many of the cranks I deal with on this site, when confronted with various observational or experimental evidence, will fall back on the claim that the REAL evidence is being 'covered up' somehow.  Trying to get the entire scientific community to participate in such a 'conspiracy' would probably be about as successful as herding cats (Mythbusters).

Cracked: 5 Ways Every Conspiracy Theory Makes the World Worse

Rosetta & 'Electric Asteroids'
The Rosetta spacecraft (Wikipedia) made it's final approach to comet 69P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and is now in station-keeping maneuvers while a suitable location for the lander is identified.  Considering all the nonsense the Electric Universe (EU) supporters claimed with earlier comet encounters (Electric Comets: Failures of the Electric Comet Model), what's up with the EU crowd?

Well, they haven't been quiet:
Thunderbolts: Rosetta Update

What!?  This is rather tame set of claims compared to some of their previous stuff which I addressed before.  No predictions of bright flashes of 'electric arcs' as the spacecraft approaches?  Why not?  Just claims of electric etching and arcing from past electric arcs.  Of course, EU advocates still have no mechanism of how Nature generates the electric potential differences of the necessary power to do such etching, leaving that to apparently some un-named supernatural agent. 

EUers still have a problem as, in accordance with the standard comet model (which they deny), Rosetta has been detecting water vapor out-gassing from the comet  (ESA: Rosetta detects water).  And as I've documented in the previous electric comet article, comets and asteroids form a continuum of composition, from dominated by icy volatiles to dominated by rocky material and this may actually be an evolutionary sequence as volatiles are depleted with successive close passages to the Sun.  This has been known for some time.

In addition, real scientists who study electric fields are developing more ways to measure the electric fields produced around space bodies due to the bombardment by charged particles in the solar wind and solar ultraviolet radiation. 
NASA: New NASA Model Gives Glimpse into the Invisible World of Electric Asteroids
Here, NASA scientists have developed a computational model that tries to predict electric field build-up around these objects.   Model development which allows you to compare to measurements that let you do REAL things is the real demonstration of a successful theory.  Notice that in these models there is no inclusion of any giant electric currents driving the Sun.  The electric fields top out at about 3 volts/meter and even that is over a very small spatial range (hardly enough to generate a bright arc to a spacecraft!).  I've described how real space physicists use these processes (much to the denial of EU supporters) in earlier posts (Electric Universe: Plasma Modeling vs. 'Mystic Plasma',  365 Days of Astronomy: The Electric Universe).

And More Badly Done Science
And for even more news about how the press gives too much attention to sloppily-done science,
This appears to be yet another case of someone not understanding the sources of possible error and not establishing proper controls (see also PhysicsCentral: NASA's Cold Fusion Folly and Radioactive decay rates depend on Earth-Sun distance?)

Ethan Siegel @ Starts With A Bang, asks
Do the Cosmic Unknowns Cast Doubt on the Big Bang?"

Flat Earth
And Glenn Branch has some fun with Flat Earthers on the NCSE blog:

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