Space and Science Party – Dragon Con 2014


Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls.
1) It is a fun game
2) Its gonna be a great party.

Folks, I’m awesome, but I could use some help. If you are at Dragon Con 2014, if you are working Space & Science in particular, I could use some stuff:
Food, Booze, A good music list (on a good interface, God knows I don’t want to run it from my laptop.), some tails and ears, an appropriate handstamp, appropriate games and prizes.

I’ve got a lot of plans and I’d like it if you felt you could contribute. We can shift this to a private facebook page if it works better, but contact me.

Global Warming – Status Update

Just to avoid the usual Straw Man, I believe that the world is warmer today than it was in the late 1800’s. Heck, it may be warmer today than in the 1200’s, though that is unproven. I do believe that CO2 has environmental effects, however, I see no link between increasing CO2 content and increased temperature. Further, given that the global and local temperatures have changed several times in the past, I see no link between human activity and increasing temperature. (AGW) Finally, there is zero evidence of a “tipping point,” after which the rate of global warming will jump and the feedback will lead to a 5 – 9 degree C increase in temperature. (ACGW)


But hey, it really isn’t just about a bad theory, it is about a bad theory that dug itself into the political might of the UN, USA, and Europe. The political elite can buy themselves votes by spending other people’s money on their friends projects. Millions flow into other people’s pockets and everyone feels morally superior.

As a friend of mine said, “Green projects are ones they should be doing anyway, so what is the harm in calling it global warming?”

1) It hurts science. The review boards of scientific journals are filled with political hacks who know very little about the field they are supposed to be reviewing. They approve crap into the knowledge base which will take decades to scrub out, they deny good papers which advance science because it doesn’t fit their limited world view.

2) It hurts people. Many people have trouble paying their power bills, many people are hurt by the increased costs on fuel. It increases costs on food and goods. Look, the economy isn’t going up and the costs are increasing. Every year it squeezes us tighter and tighter. The Money Isn’t Free

3) It funds the wrong projects. Good scientists compete for funding. Their work shows solid, repeatable, results. They make predictions and provide evidence. The limited funds should go to real science and real improvements. 

    Political Funding often goes to “showpiece” projects that waste a few millions of dollars and are usually embarrassments – corrected after some boondoggle trips and goofy “demonstration of concept” shows. The politicians behind them are shamed and lose votes, often their office in the wake. People get fired, learning occurs.
    When these Green projects are revealed to be hundred million dollar mistakes, the morality police say something like “They meant well, it needed to be done anyway, no real harm was done.” 
    Harm was done and those who did it should be shamed out of the house. Since they are blessed by the morality police, they continue with their bad choices and continue wasting our money, our science.

4) Green morality needs to be exposed as a fraud. It lets small countries feel morally superior to the bigger countries while taking their money. It lets small men feel superior to their betters while demeaning their science for political reasons they call Truth. It protects those men when they perform immoral and occasionally criminal acts. It isn’t scientific, it is a B grade religion with delusions of Greater Good. The delusional followers are responsible for the harm done in its name. So far, no one has forced them to see the lives ruined by their horrible little god.

Physics is Hard – or you don’t know what you think you know.

I got pinged on three interesting Physics Today articles this week.

1)   Focus: Electrons Not the Cause of Charged Grains
2)   Synopsis: Unexpected Impact from Medium-Sized Solar Flare
3)   Synopsis: Asymmetric Reconnections

There are actually interesting connections between these three papers, which only shows how weird my brain works.

1) We don’t actually know why rubbing a balloon on your head makes it charge up. SERIOUSLY. I’d assumed, as most people did, that it was something to do with electrons being pushed around… somehow. Ok, I gave it some serious thought some years ago when I was working lightning and found the theory lacking, but never had a good reason to push back. Raindrops do gather electricity, there are some good experiments to generate a charge.

The Kelvin Water dropper will generate a spark gap  – Wikipedia
 Drawing of a typical setup for the Kelvin Water Dropper

But water itself responds to positive and negative charge.

Seriously, the real effect in a thunderstorm isn’t a bunch of electrons jumping from raindrop to raindrop, but large electric fields generated by alignment of water molecules. So, in general, when talking about climate and 100 year models – people didn’t even have a good model for lightning.

2) Since we’re on the subject of Global Warming. The Human-Caused folks haven’t really dealt with how much influence the sun’s cycles have on the atmosphere. Major increases in ionization from even a relatively small event. I was expecting – around the auroral oval – that we’d see higher levels of heating and ionizing, but this paper seems to indicate strong charging as far south as England (I’d like better numbers here) as well as a significant influence in cloud formation. (At 20 km?) Well, I’ll take their word for it until I see their data.

Source – – gallery of images

3) What it the connection between the two papers? Electron Dynamics

The real problem with electrons is that they interact with everything, so they’re a buggar to study. One long-standing problem is assuming that they are tiny. Electrons are as large as their interaction width, which (according the the scientist at TRIUMF) he’s gotten to a mile wide in a superconductor.

This lets them do all kind of “spooky action at a distance” things, when we assume they can’t be in two places at once. They also generate magnetic fields, which influences group actions. Looking at electrons in space, we can start to see how they interact with magnetic fields, how groups of them interact with each other, etc. Seems easy enough, but it turns out we had it wrong all the time.

SO: In conclusion, Physics is hard. We learn a lot each year, but the hardest part is un-learning what we’re sure we knew last year.