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Comments by plasma-engineer

Go to: Update - Podcast June 5 Interview with Peter Boghossian - "Faith: Pretending to know things you don't know"

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 95 by plasma-engineer

Nobody has mentioned yet (as far as I could spot) that the link to the web site for The Good Atheist is not working on the first page. Here it is. (Or maybe my newly downloaded version of firefox is upsetting things for me - in which case apologies to those not afflicted with the same problem.)

Thu, 07 Jun 2012 21:53:10 UTC | #946220

Go to: Nobel laureate joins anti-vaccination crowd at Autism One

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by plasma-engineer

There are several interesting aspects in the physics of the measurement. Most importantly, it is actually rather difficult to transmit and measure these low frequencies, and indeed on this scale it is doubtful whether the measurements are even physically meaningful. Part of the problem is that 7Hz electromagnetic waves have a wavelength of around 42,000 km. Normally, in order to transmit any frequency you might aim for an antenna of quarter of a wavelength, or in this case 10,000km in length. Even strands of DNA are not this long, and anyway they are somewhat folded and therefore self cancelling.

Detection of low frequencies can be managed with small coils as long as they have enough turns, (e.g. 5000 to 10,000) so in principle their equipment might be able to make the measurement, if the DNA had a mechanism to transmit it - which it doesn't.

On top of that, there is very little detail about the equipment used, except a kindergarten-level sketch of a coil, an amplifier and a computer to measure something inside a test tube. They do happen to mention the impedance of the coil, which is a start. However, unless that impedance is well matched to the amplifier it means nothing. The connecting cable is incredibly important too. How well is it shielded and what is its impedance and does it match? Then the bandwidth of the amplifier matters. Does it work at all in the frequency range in question, and what is its gain? After that we have to ask how the analogue to digital conversion is carried out. What type of D/A converter is used? What frequency range does it cover? How many bits deep are the data?

But of course the controls that they adopt make all this inconvient physics irrelevant don't they. It must be true after all! This measurement is not at all like the famous measurement of the faster-than-light neutrinos is it? The two are comparable in the surprising nature of their results, but it has taken many months of professional research for the neutrino problem to have something close to an explanation.

The sentence that I liked best in the paper was "At this point the most critical step was undertaken, namely to investigate the specificity of the induced water nanostructures by recreating from them the DNA sequence".

I can't help but crack a smile!

They make a big thing of Schumann Resonances. They, at least, are a real phenomenon. The lowest frequency Schumann resonance is 7.83Hz, and its wavelength corresponds to the circumference of the earth (See first paragraph.) For interest, this link shows the sort of equipment that might be used to measure Schumann frequencies. This paper also demonstrates the measurement difficulties. On page 1 there is a graph of the Schumann frequency peaks. They are dwarfed by an interference signal from the Deutsche Bahn (railway). The nearest railway is 30km from the place where the measurement was made!

Mon, 04 Jun 2012 11:24:26 UTC | #945450

Go to: Queen 'should remain Defender of the Faith' - BBC poll

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 41 by plasma-engineer

Comment 40 by strangebrew

I think this time you are far from wrong. :)

Tue, 15 May 2012 21:15:02 UTC | #941692

Go to: Queen 'should remain Defender of the Faith' - BBC poll

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 39 by plasma-engineer

Q3 - Do you think that the monarchy should be head of the Church of England, or not? 31% Yes. 55% No - Wow - the opposite of the report!

Is the BBC being deliberately selective in its use of data as propaganda, or is it just incompetent in its reporting?

Well, OK, that is actually from different COMRES poll, but a recent one. You could spin the whole story in a different way like this.

Tue, 15 May 2012 20:01:35 UTC | #941678

Go to: Belief in God found in decline

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by plasma-engineer

But just a minute folks. Which god is being talked about? Is it some generic god or one in particular?

I find it generally encouraging that belief in god(s) is diminishing, but I'm rather disappointed to see (if I read the report correctly) that there was a bigger change between 1991 and 1998 than between 1998 and 2008. I'm a little bit disappointed at the lack of statistical backup data too. What were the sample sizes and what are the estimated errors?

It is all a bit pseudo-scientific and anecdotal. Perhaps I only believe it because I like the message that it seems to send. Certainly it is not up to the standard of the excellent RDFRS/IPSOS Mori survey.

It will be interesting to see whether the proliferation of New Atheism's publications in the last 5 or 6 years has much effect on the next set of data. That's the main area of hope for me.

Wed, 18 Apr 2012 22:21:52 UTC | #935574

Go to: Melvyn Bragg attacks Richard Dawkins' 'atheist fundamentalism'

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 25 by plasma-engineer

What a pathetic rag the Telegraph has become! That story is completely lacking in substance.

Its a shame that the dreaded Alain de Botton has (in my opinion wrongly) become associated with the sensible side of rationalism though. I can't imagine that we will easily get rid of him. It is too easy to ridicule the things that he has been reported saying, and by association ridicule the sensible things that are said.

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 14:27:53 UTC | #926947

Go to: The Sins of the Fathers [Also in Polish]

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 63 by plasma-engineer

I went to the same school as William Wilberforce but I have never been allowed any credit for his work to end slavery.

On the other hand, somehow, as a British subject, apparently I do inherit the blame for what Cromwell did in Ireland and for all sorts of crimes committed against humanity in the name of the British Empire.

No justice! But the past is a foreign country and I think we share much less with our ancestors of a century ago than we do with the ordinary people in most foreign countries of the world today.

Sat, 18 Feb 2012 16:56:57 UTC | #919283

Go to: Secularism v Religion in national affairs - post-Warsi discussion on BBC Newsnight 14/2/12

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 15 by plasma-engineer

Comment 8 by Steve Zara

I'd like to know what people like the Bishop mean

Thank g*d there are not very many people like this bishop. Otherwise, as usual, it is hard to disagree with what you say.

Thu, 16 Feb 2012 01:15:09 UTC | #918302

Go to: Richard Dawkins: 2 live TV appearances later today

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 44 by plasma-engineer

Transcript for @bubbub (Comment 36)

N-A: This is not about bishops and priests, but I'm amazed at what your survey shows. 44% of people believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the saviour of the world. 50% go to church. These are your survey figures. 62% believe in heaven . . .

RD: Yes. Those figures that you quote are not percentages of the population. Those percentages are of people who said they were Christian.

N-A: Which is 70 % or so

RD: It is not. It has now dropped to - or at least if our survey is right - to 54%.

N-A: We'll see. We will see.

I think the bishop is almost qualified to be the next Archbishop of York!

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 23:42:59 UTC | #917885

Go to: Richard Dawkins: 2 live TV appearances later today

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 31 by plasma-engineer

Is Bishop Nazir-Ali an archetypal Christian? I think he is always surprisingly aggressive.

There's little doubt that he hadn't taken the time to read the survey properly when he spoke on Newsnight. That's the first time he has ever made me smile!

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 23:20:41 UTC | #917871

Go to: Freedom of speech for street preachers

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 82 by plasma-engineer

Isn't this one of the most valuable and pertinent discussions that we have seen for a while? Richard's comment was audacious and fair. I only read this thread today because Steve Zara was sufficiently fair-minded to post it on Facebook.

The trouble is that I'm white and middle-class and male and not gay, and yet I still feel that sometimes the world discriminates against me.

The big issue is that, by saying that, I could upset almost everyone else.

Preachers in the street would find another way to upset me. We do often say that we have a right to speak freely but no right 'not to be offended' and this thread demonstrates the tolerance of almost all the contributors.

Fri, 10 Feb 2012 22:34:04 UTC | #916443

Go to: "Great Dying" Lasted 200,000 Years

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 10 by plasma-engineer

The time span of 'two millennia' might have been a typo - or else it might be the aspiration of the oil barons for the current round of extinctions. Let's hope they are not intent on (or successful in) achieving a world record (even if this is a secularly-pious hope).

Tue, 29 Nov 2011 23:24:31 UTC | #894235

Go to: 'Harry Potter and yoga are evil', says Catholic Church exorcist

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 42 by plasma-engineer

Nobody has considered the possibility that Father Amorth is right and that the devil has aimed right at the top of the organisation.

As RD has sometimes suggested, the RC Church is possibly the greatest force for evil in the world.

Oh . . . and have you noticed that Father Amorth has just published a book? Is it a coincidence that the publicity machine has engaged warp drive just at this very moment? After all, it is perfectly clear to most of us that the Vatican has not been free from evil for many centuries, so why make a fuss about it at this particular moment?

Sat, 26 Nov 2011 23:00:04 UTC | #893429

Go to: UPDATED: Richard on Radio 4 Start the Week - Monday 17 October 2011

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 23 by plasma-engineer

Sacks was right in one way though. Without hope there is no hope for supernatural.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 11:08:29 UTC | #881443

Go to: UPDATED: Richard on Radio 4 Start the Week - Monday 17 October 2011

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 19 by plasma-engineer

Sometimes I'm glad of late shifts as I can listen to things like this live. I'm even more glad that I didn't notice a single thought-provoking comment from the rabbi. Both Lisa and Richard were a pleasure to listen to, as always, although I felt that the programme was a little bit flat thanks to the uninteresting presenter. (I think I'm agreeing with Quine in comment 17, but I'm not sure what he meant.)

Perhaps the best laugh was from the rabbi accusing Richard of being tone-deaf when it came to religion, and Richard replying that has wasn't sure that there was anything to listen to.

Mon, 17 Oct 2011 08:59:42 UTC | #881415

Go to: LHC results put supersymmetry theory 'on the spot'

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 9 by plasma-engineer

Keeping theoreticians on their toes is the day job of the experimentalists! I agree with Daniel Williams - its a great day for science (even if this is 'trial by BBC' rather than 'real' science).

Mon, 29 Aug 2011 23:27:43 UTC | #865352

Go to: Most Beautiful National Parks Seen From Space

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by plasma-engineer

The Read More link isn't working (in UK at least). Happy for you to delete this if you fix it.

Tue, 23 Aug 2011 18:52:32 UTC | #863448

Go to: OLFA Report on Far-Right, Sharia-controlled zones, and Australia tour

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 3 by plasma-engineer

I absolutely agree with both the previous comments. What a sensible idea. Well worth some further investigation and from what I have seen so far some support. The main question for me is how it fits with the activities of the well established National Secular Society. It would be a shame to fragment the secular community into too many factions. It would make us look (dare I say it) like a christian church which splits every time there is a minor disagreement.

Mon, 15 Aug 2011 09:41:23 UTC | #861215

Go to: Professor Richard Dawkins' Seminar at Science World 2011

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 20 by plasma-engineer

Generally familiar and yet absolutely fascinating stuff and I enjoyed it a lot - except the gaps between the videos. I found the Thermo (aka Fischer Scientific, part of Thermo) adverts so irritating that I would have given up for any lesser speaker than RD.

But I should not be surprised. Thermo was the company that took over a highly respected world leader in a specialised technology - namely Vacuum Generators (universally known as VG) - and proceeded to expect the world to forget that world-leading brand and think of Thermo. Even now, many years later, everyone in the vacuum industry remembers the name VG and Thermo has finally noticed and started to recant. In the meantime they have forgotten how to achieve the quality that we used to expect from VG.

So much for the morons who think that brands can be manipulated, while forgetting that their customers like familiarity and value quality. This is a classic case of a company that went from 'market leader' to 'led by marketing' and that feature shows in their editing of this video.

Sorry for the rant. The talk was GREAT!

Fri, 05 Aug 2011 20:56:55 UTC | #858376

Go to: Epigenetic 'Memory' Key to Nature Versus Nurture

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by plasma-engineer

Please could a kind and expert biologist explain this article to those of us who are (more or less) intelligent but ignorant of where non-Lamarkian epigenetics fits into today's view of evolutionary biology? I for one would appreciate it.

Mon, 25 Jul 2011 22:46:23 UTC | #854007

Go to: Myth of Dawkins as an intolerant, atheist crusader is just that -- myth

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by plasma-engineer

It might not be a perfect article, but at least it demonstrates that there is a way for people - even journalists - to be brought round to a rational way of thinking. It does seem to describe the real not-so-strident Richard Dawkins in a way that I recognise from the brief discussions I have had with him face to face. I will be bringing this article to the attention of a LOT of my more critical friends.

Thu, 09 Jun 2011 10:44:42 UTC | #636315

Go to: [UPDATE] Priest sex abuse scandal was temporary problem, study finds

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 1 by plasma-engineer

So - if a bank robbery was a "was a temporary problem caused by poorly trained" bank robbers, that would make it alright?

Let's just have the (alleged) criminals in court and let the court decide.

Thu, 19 May 2011 00:10:15 UTC | #628236

Go to: My sister wanted a godless funeral. But still invited God

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by plasma-engineer

Last Friday I attended my first ever humanist funeral. Nobody that I spoke to seemed to mind the absence of a religious feel. In the same way, nobody seemed to mind that the glorious In Paradisium from Faure's requiem (with its religious implications) was played as an introduction. The ceremony was conducted by a very skillful lady from the BHA. (By coincidence I blogged about it (rather briefly) yesterday.)

Wed, 11 May 2011 08:38:34 UTC | #625711

Go to: Pope: Humanity isn't random product of evolution

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 6 by plasma-engineer

I wonder whether anyone has any evidence to suggest that we should expect anything more rational from Ratzinger. I don't think I have seen any yet!

I would like to issue a challenge to photographers too. Has anyone ever seen a photo of him were he does not look like the embodiment of all evil?

Mon, 25 Apr 2011 13:06:34 UTC | #619185

Go to: Catholic Church reverses course on bill to eliminate statute of limitations on sex abuse of minors

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 13 by plasma-engineer

Its very easy to get around this. Set the limit for the statute of limitations at, say, a nice round 100 years. (I could be persuaded to compromise at 'three score years and ten' if pushed.)

Then everyone is happy! Oh - except the paedophiles and child abusers of course. We wouldn't want to breach THEIR human rights would we?

Well actually . . . maybe we would.

(Of course having spotted that the p word appeared to be a spelling mistake on this comment because I tend to use UK English, I expect I am now on the register of official suspects for having looked up the spelling with Google. And me saying this is now my cover story. And I'm being recursively paranoid now.)

The point of the last paragraph was that the police are out looking for paedophiles and accusing innocent parents of taking illegal photos of their children, but they ought to go for the priests who are being protected by the Vatican, and then for the Vatican for protecting them.

Tue, 05 Apr 2011 21:46:51 UTC | #612332

Go to: Do we have the right to burn the Koran?

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 92 by plasma-engineer

It seems obvious to me. Reading the Koran in English 'doesn't count'. Therefore burning an English copy doesn't matter either (aside from being deliberately inflammatory of course).

Sat, 02 Apr 2011 14:55:59 UTC | #610792


plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 103 by plasma-engineer

Phew - this morning's utter disappointed now rectified! I did wonder how that many tickets could have been sold in such a short time when it was obvious that almost nobody could actually get one.

Fri, 01 Apr 2011 17:24:55 UTC | #610405


plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 18 by plasma-engineer

Just wondering whether the release date for the tickets should set off any alarm bells? :) Still - I'm prepared to risk an April Fool to try to get a ticket. :)

Wed, 30 Mar 2011 20:19:15 UTC | #609291

Go to: God and Disaster

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 2 by plasma-engineer

Perfect - just as expected! I know just the friend to send this link to!

Sun, 13 Mar 2011 11:25:32 UTC | #602216

Go to: FOURTH UPDATE: RD on Revelation TV

plasma-engineer's Avatar Jump to comment 290 by plasma-engineer

Comment 293 by ceeb2

one more question. As an atheist are you scared of death?

Absolutely not!!! We leave that to people who have something to be scared of!! Gentle Jesus is the one teaching about hell.

Sat, 12 Mar 2011 15:31:43 UTC | #601990