Category Archives: Mathematics

Climate Change

What we don’t know:

We shouldn’t worry, we should just accept that this will happen and we should adapt to it and regard it as a business opportunity.

Its arrogant to assume that climate will remain static.

The whole language of climate change is designed to confuse the public and policy makers

Bob Carter says the IPCC has accomplished the inversion of the null hypothesis, where the onus is now on disproving dangerous anthropogenic climate change

We should focus on protecting people from natural hazards, and not worrying about what is causing them

It makes sense to encourage alternative energy and see what happens.

Bob Carter closed with this: no scientist can tell you whether it will be warmer or cooler in 2020, so we should prepare for both.

Yes. We don’t know much more than we do know.

And as she notes, the people speaking sensibly are independent or retired, not those receiving government funding.

A Path To Nowhere

There’s an essay over at America Space worth a read, but a couple paragraphs are misleading:

Although President Obama inherited the decision to retire the space shuttle by the previous administration, he also inherited the rest of the Constellation program as well. The newly appointed President chose to terminate both programs, however, while apparently failing or not caring to properly take into account the U.S. dependency on Russia that would result by this decision for launching American astronauts to the ISS for many years in a row until new replacement vehicles could be developed. Since the retirement of the shuttle was tied to the development of the Constellation program, a cancellation of the latter should prompt a re-thinking of the decision for the former, something that ultimately didn’t happen. The space shuttles were finally decommissioned following the STS-135 flight in July 2011.

With the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the only way for U.S. astronauts to get to and from the International Space Station is currently onboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. That point was also stressed by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) during a debate with NASA’s Administrator Charles Bolden at the recent hearing for the NASA Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request, held by the House of Representative’s Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. “When the Space Shuttle was mothballed, President Obama was President of the United States. He could have made the decision to have continued to use the Space Shuttle, or he could have made the decision to keep it available in the event of an emergency. He chose not to,” said Brooks.

Obama didn’t choose to terminate the Shuttle. There was no choice, because that decision had been made years before, and production of key components and facilities needed to make them started to be shut down before he took office. It would have taken years and billions to restart that capability. In fact, he extended the program to the summer of 2011, past the original planned retirement in 2010.

The retirement of the Shuttle wasn’t tied to the development of Constellation. Even in 2004, before the ruinous Constellation project even began, the plan was for a three-year gap, because the so-called Crew Exploration Vehicle (which later morphed into Orion) wasn’t expected to be available until 2014. When Constellation was canceled, Shuttle’s retirement already being a fait accompli, the Obama administration planned to get Commercial Crew going by 2015, but as the author notes, continuous underfunding by Congress has slipped that out to 2017 (officially, anyway, on NASA’s business-as-usual snail-like development schedule). So Brooks is either lying, or doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You can’t keep something like the Shuttle “available in the event of an emergency.” That’s a demonstration of profound ignorance of how it worked. It would have cost billions per year, even if we hadn’t shut down the production lines, and it would have been unsafe to fly it with no regular tempo, a point I make in my book:

It should be noted that NASA currently plans only two flights for the SLS—one in 2017 to demonstrate the 70-ton capability, and one with a crew in 2021, to . . . somewhere. They have said that, when operational, it may only fly every couple of years. What are the implications of that, in terms of both cost and safety?

Cost wise, it means that each flight will cost several billion dollars, at least for those first two flights. If, once in operation, it has a two- or three-billion-dollar annual budget (a reasonable guess based on Shuttle history), and it only flies every couple of years, that means that each subsequent flight will cost anywhere from four to six billion dollars.

From a safety standpoint, it means that its operating tempo will be far too slow, and its flights far too infrequent, to safely and reliably operate the system. The launch crews will be sitting around for months with little to do, and by the time the next launch occurs they’ll have forgotten how to do it, if they haven’t left from sheer boredom to seek another job.

As a last-ditch effort to try to preserve the Shuttle in 2010, some suggested that it be maintained until we had a replacement, but to fly it only once per year to save money.[11] The worst part of such a proposal would have been the degree to which the system would have been even less safe, given that it was designed for a launch rate of at least four flights per year. It was unsafe to fly it too often (as NASA learned in the 80s as it ramped up the flight rate before Challenger), and it would be equally so to fly it too rarely. NASA’s nominal plans for SLS compound this folly, which is magnified by the fact that both internal NASA studies and independent industry ones have demonstrated that there is no need for such a vehicle to explore beyond earth orbit (existing launchers could do that job just fine, with orbital mating and operations), and it is eating up all the funding for systems, such as landers and orbital propellant storage facilities, that are necessary. All of this is just more indication that actually accomplishing things in space is the lowest priority for Congress (and unfortunately, the space agency itself, otherwise, the administrator would be more honest with the appropriators on the Hill).

There another point in the essay to be addressed:

Even if Commercial Crew was fully funded tomorrow, the participating private companies would still have to go through the same development and certification process for their spacecraft, and their launch date would still be two years into the future, at the very least. “Engineering is engineering,” said Kelly O. Humphries, News Chief at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Texas, during an interview for Motherboard earlier last week. “We’re working with commercial companies to make sure everything is done properly so the spacecraft will interact properly with the International Space Station. You’ve got to do things the right way, to make sure things are safe for people.”

Note that the spacecraft (at least the Dragon) already “interacts properly with the ISS.” That was proven out with commercial crewcargo. What they’re doing now is “certifying” that it is “safe” to carry crew to and from it. But as I note in my book, “safe” and “unsafe” are not meaningful words, absent quantification. If Congress told NASA they had to put up crew on a Dragon on Monday, they’d figure out a way to do it. If we had to get American crew into space on American vehicles this year, we could do it.

What would the probability of loss of crew be? Who knows? If you look at the Falcon 9 over all (eight successful flights with no failures), it now has a Bayesian reliability approaching 90%. NASA flew to the moon on Apollo 8 on the very first manned Saturn V flight, when the previous flight test had been a disaster. That NASA chooses to continue business as usual in ending its reliance on the Russians shows just how unimportant the issue is.

Asteroid Strikes

New sensor data indicates that they’re from three to ten times more common than previously thought:

“The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’-sized asteroid is blind luck.”

…The Sentinel Infrared Space Telescope Mission is currently due for launch in mid-2018, with an estimated mission cost of $400 million.

But we spend billions in trying to reduce the amount of plant food in the atmosphere.

Steve Goddard Explains

Why I do this”:

I have been an active environmentalist for almost my entire life. At age 16 I testified before a Congressional hearing in support of a proposed wilderness area in Utah. I worked to get the Clean Air Act passed, and worked for two summers as a wilderness ranger in New Mexico. I do all of my local transport and shopping by bicycle, and buy almost exclusively organic and free range food.

The reason I blog is because catastrophic global warming is junk science, used by unscrupulous people for unscrupulous political and financial purposes. It keeps environmentalists from doing anything useful, and provides progressives an excuse to push toward totalitarianism.

The global warming scam needs to be stopped. It has spiraled completely out of control, and no longer has any pretense of science behind the lies.

Pretty much, yeah.


Chad Orzell has some problems with the reboot. So do I and while it’s not his main concern, he puts his finger on it:

The bit where he called out young-Earth creationism for the impoverished scale of its vision was cute, too, though I’m not sure it was all that necessary or useful (in that the people who believe that won’t be watching, and wouldn’t be convinced), but then the show has clearly established a pattern of throwing red meat to the anti-religious from time to time.

Yes, if by “from time to time” he means every episode so far. I’m not traditionally religious, but I find it gratuitous and off putting. The writers and Tyson seem to get some sort of righteous satisfaction from putting a rhetorical thumb in the eyes of believers. It does not advance science, or their own secular religious cause.

A Climate Skeptic

The thought experiment that made him one:

I think any physical scientist should be extremely skeptical that a long-term stable system is dominated by positive feedback. Systems dominated by positive feedback — and we are talking about incredibly high implied feedback percentages to get to these catastrophic forecasts — don’t tend to be very stable, but it is Michael Mann himself who has argued over and over with his hockey stick chart that past temperatures have only varied in very narrow ranges for thousands of years. Not the behavior one would expect of a system dominated by strong positive feedbacks.

To me, this thought experiment demonstrated that it was more likely that net climate feedbacks were zero or even negative (if only half of past warming was due to man, and half due to nature, it would imply a sensitivity around 0.7C). In either case, the resultant warming would be far from catastrophic. To believe the IPCC forecasts, one would have to believe there were either really long time delays, or natural and manmade cooling factors off-setting the warming. These have all been debated and I won’t go into them today, but I didn’t find the higher forecasts of 5-10C to be at all credible.

I don’t, either.

The Tree-Ring Circus

…may be the costliest show on earth.

A good review of the “investigations” that have “exonerated” climate scientists.

[Update a few minutes later]

Related thoughts from Mark Steyn on the projection of the True Believers, and devotees to “the cause.”

“A debate where none should exist”. Why shouldn’t it exist? And, if it’s “infected” the national legislature of the global superpower and leading media outlets, what makes it the view of “a fringe minority” other than that you label it as such? Why does Mann’s definition of “anti-science” now embrace not just know-nothing blowhards like yours truly but also scientists such as Judith Curry, Richard Muller, Richard Lindzen, etc? Garth Paltridge was Australia’s chief atmospheric research scientist but because he disagrees with Big Climate alarmism, a man who has devoted his life to science is suddenly “anti-science”? And to enforcers like Dr Mann this is all so obvious that no debate “should exist” – or be permitted to exist.

You should always listen carefully when someone is telling you to shut up – whether it’s the Organization for Islamic Co-Operation demanding an international law against “blasphemy”, or Michael Mann demanding that his own cult can likewise not be questioned.


Unprecedented Non-Warming

A new global temperature index:

What we see is that the halt in warming is without precedent in the recent warming period. As such, something *is* amiss with predictions of not only continued, but *accelerated* warming. The something that is amiss appears to be that:

  1. Sensitivity has been very significantly over estimated and

  2. Natural climate variability, whatever the cause, has been under estimated.

The former undermines the claim of drastic future warming, the latter undermines the claim that recent warming was uniquely attributable to anthropogenic forcing.

Let’s be absolutely clear: that represents a complete vindication of the skeptical position and a refutation of the alarmed position.

Anyone who disagrees is obviously a denier.

Football Intelligence

This is one of the reasons that I like football:

More than any other position, playing quarterback requires mastering a farrago of detail, and then sifting through it while staring at eleven large people eager to break your face. The best N.F.L. quarterbacks, like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Peyton Manning, have reputations as keen, obsessive students of opposing defenses, whose schemes they decode in real time. And yet, what does it say that the great model of lethally consistent play, Peyton, scored a twenty-eight on the Wonderlic while his more erratic brother, Eli, scored a thirty-nine?

One theory some in the N.F.L. hold is that the highest-scoring quarterbacks are too rigidly scholarly, prisoners of research who don’t handle in-game adjustments well, while those whose scores are very low simply can’t handle a high volume of preparation.

Oliver Luck was twice an Academic All-American quarterback at West Virginia University, spent five years in the N.F.L., went on to law school, and is now the athletic director at his alma mater. His son, Andrew, (Stanford Class of 2012, architectural design; Wonderlic, thirty-seven) is the Indianapolis Colts’ excellent second-year quarterback. “Football intelligence to me is situational awareness,” Oliver Luck told me. “The variables in football are so many. Every play is a decision and you do it at full speed. Life involves more thought.” (If there is a dark undercurrent to a discussion of bright football players, it has to do with life after the scrum and the long-term effects that hits to the head can have on the brain.)

That said, Oliver Luck thinks that there have been certain moments post-football when his aptitude for the game has been helpful to him. “I remember distinctly sitting for the Texas bar exam after I finished law school,” he recalled. “There were maybe five hundred people in there. People were sighing and groaning. A guy one table away from me suddenly lost it. I wanted to tell him, ‘Suck it up! You can do it!’ The way I would in the huddle. I was focussed. I knew how to work through that test.”

But the other positions require intelligence as well. It’s not just a brute-force game, despite the heavy contact. It’s much more cerebral than continuous-motion sports (like hockey, basketball, soccer), which I hate. As Camille Paglia has noted, it’s more like battle planning and warfare, and it’s quintessentially American.