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bachfiend's Avatar Joined about 6 years ago
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Latest Discussions Started by bachfiend

Which book do you think will win the Royal Society's best science book of 2009? - last commented 22 October 2010 12:11 AM

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Go to: "Global Warming Has Stopped"? How to Fool People Using "Cherry-Picked" Climate Data

bachfiend's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by bachfiend

The clearest proof that atmospheric CO2 levels have nothing to do with global temperatures is clearly shown in the recordings of atmospheric CO2 levels from Hawaii for the past 52 years.

It shows a clear cut sawtooth graph with increased CO2 levels in the Northern hemisphere Winter and decreased CO2 levels in the Northern hemisphere Summer.

If CO2 levels are driving climate, then it should be colder in Summer and warmer in Winter!

I don't know if any AGW denialist is stupid enough to make such a claim. It wouldn't surprise me if someone did.

But the curve also gives lie to that other denialist claim. The Earth is warming up for some other reason, perhaps as part of a cyclical process, perhaps as a result of the Earth coming out of the Little Ice Age, and as the oceans warm, there's a degassing of CO2 resulting in the increasing CO2 levels being the result and not the cause of the global warming.

If that were the explanation, atmospheric CO2 levels should increase in Summer and decrease in Winter.

Tue, 07 Feb 2012 10:51:00 UTC | #915252

Go to: Science is about facts, not ideology

bachfiend's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by bachfiend

Ian Plimer was reported as saying that school science teachers should be 'ashamed for producing such poor quality kids who come to university with fixed views about a number of things'.

Rather ironic, after Plimer produced in 2009 'Heaven and Earth', a poor quality book, with fixed views about a number of things, not just AGW.

It was badly written and almost unreadable. I suspect he had a pile of some 2,000 references, which he wanted to discuss, and proceeded to do so, one after the other.

Unfortunately, his discussion was often irrelevant, inaccurate or just plain wrong. His errors are too numerous to list here. For example, he asserted that the Sun is a pulsar, in two places in the book (a pulsar is a rapidly rotating neutron star).

He also doesn't seem to have much of a clue regarding climate science. He asserted for example that with a new glaciation, as sea levels fall, exposing the continental shelves, this will lead to compensatory warming. Actually wrong. Land reflects more of the Sun's heat than ocean, so it would actually increase cooling.

Actually, the trouble with Plimer is that he impresses those without much knowledge of science, including unfortunately the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, who has described AGW as crap.

Fri, 16 Dec 2011 10:48:59 UTC | #899633

Go to: Higgs boson hunters scent their elusive quarry at the LHC

bachfiend's Avatar Jump to comment 8 by bachfiend


I don't think that the exact masses of the elementary particles were ever predicted. They're just a brute fact. The mass of the Higg's boson is also a question of the energies achievable by the particle colliders. As the energies achieved increase, lower masses are progressively eliminated.

A good account of particle physics for the ignorant (which alas includes me) is Lisa Randall's book 'Knocking on Heaven's Door' which I intend to reread soon, along with Brian Cox' book 'the Quantum Universe'.

Sat, 10 Dec 2011 21:02:36 UTC | #897623

Go to: The nature of nothingness

bachfiend's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by bachfiend


Humans just didn't evolve to appreciate events and objects at quantum level, where everything appears counterintuitive.

To give you another example, nucleons (protons and neutrons) consist of 3 quarks, 2 up quarks and 1 down quark in the case of the proton, the reverse in the neutron, held together by almost massless gluons. Most of the volume of the nucleon is 'empty' space (the quarks make up around a millionth of the space). The empty space within the nucleon is filled with a sea of virtual particles, quark/antiquark pairs, etc, which flash in and out of existence. It's the virtual particles that give the nucleons their mass (if you add together the rest masses of the quarks, there's not nearly enough).

When the Large Hadron Collider smashes together two beams of protons traveling at almost light speed in opposite directions, the collisions the physicists are interested in are those between one virtual particle in one proton and another virtual particle in the other, because the virtual particles have the mass and hence energy of the proton and are therefore capable of generating novel high energy particles.

After the collision, the rest of each proton, with its quarks and sea of virtual particles, continues on its way.

It's an astounding way of looking at reality. When I was at school, neutrons and protons were taught to be like hard solid billiard balls.

Tue, 29 Nov 2011 21:49:41 UTC | #894202

Go to: Top Ten Myths About the Brain

bachfiend's Avatar Jump to comment 7 by bachfiend

I find it odd that the list doesn't include "We have free will". The brain makes all our decisions and then presents them to our minds. The best that can be said is that we don't have "free will" but we have "free won't", and are able to veto some decisions.

Mon, 28 Nov 2011 10:11:43 UTC | #893806

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