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Saturday, February 03, 2007


The media are full of it - the release of the IPCC repord on Global Warming. In fact what has been released is the Summary for Policymakers. This is being described by David Minibrain & others as "another nail in the coffin of the climate change deniers" & the debate is "now over" - where have I heard that before - could it have been last week or continuously for the last 10 years. Yes I think it could.

So lets try to take this seriously. Firstly the IPCC have reduced, yet again, their estimate of sea level rise by 2100 from between 9 & 17 inches. This is "catastrophic"? Will we be seeing the BBC apologising for claiming most of Norfolk under water in 19 years? The obvious answer is No in both cases. 10 years ago these same media were cheerfully predicting rises of anything up to 300 feet.

Secondly what is carefully not being reported is that this is not actually the latest "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report" - this is the Summary for Policymakers. The real report won't be out till May because the science isn't done yet. Fortunately they are able to promise that the completed report will confirm to this - this being the sort of science where the results are known before the research is finished.

And those were some of the more tame circus acts.

Al Gore was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar for his global warming alarmism. Paris officials announced that the Eiffel Tower would shutdown its 20,000 flashing light bulbs and go dark for five minutes on the eve of the release of the UN report.{note that since France is 85% nuclear & 15% hydro switching off the Eiffel Tower for 5 minutes has absolutely no effect on release of CO2 it is pure showbiz & obviously the French government know this- Neil} The National Football League announced that it would plant 3,000 trees to offset carbon dioxide emissions caused by this week's Super Bowl. A California state legislator introduced a bill to ban regular (incandescent) light bulbs and to mandate fluorescent lighting in homes and businesses by 2012. The bill is called the "How Many Legislators Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb Act."

These hijinks also extended into the science community.

First, the UN isn't releasing its full report this week just the curiously edited Summary for Policy Makers. The detailed report on the science won't be issued until May or so because it's not finished.

If you're wondering how the UN can issue a summary of a report that's not even finished, fear not. The UN has announced that changes to the full report shall be made "to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policy Makers." The UN process is akin to shooting first and asking questions later - is the exact opposite of the traditional scientific method....

The unanimity with which this is being reported by the MSM would be funny if it were not yet more proof of how easily & continuously we are lied to.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


The Grauniad has an article from Michael Moore (Lib Dem shadow Foreign Sec & an unrepentent supporter of illegal wars & genocide) on how we should bring about the "independence" of Kosovo.
For most people in Kosovo that has to mean independence, supervised or otherwise. And once announced, they will be watching carefully to see that the European Union and the United States do not blink in the face of Serbian and Russian hostility. We must make sure of that here in Britain as well.
I have put up a comment & follow up
A very carefully constructed article from Mr Moore.

No mention of the 350,000 Serbs, Gypsies, Jews etc ethnically cleansed under out rule. No mention of the genocide of 6,000 people under our rule. No mention of the way we still allow our KLA allies to kidnap thousands of schoolgirls to sell to western brothels. He needn't worry reporting of this doesn't make it to the BBC or MSM either. No mention that half of Kosovo had a multiethnic majority before we cleansed it (& obviously these people would not want to be delivered to a regime of racist drug dealers).

No mention that the claims made by all party leaders, including his own, about Milsoevic's genocide have been proven to be total racist lies. No mention that the largest mass grave in Kosovo was of the 210 Serbs etc. in the Dragodan mass grave in the UK sector filled under our, not Milosevic's rule (to be fair this is not an official mass grave but merely 210 separate graves all in the same place - to continue being fair only a wholly corrupt "court" & NATO cold make that distinction. Again no worries - we can rely on our media to wholly censor the existence of such massacres - this is not America of the time of My Lai.

No mention that not only in the occupation agreement did we undertake to respect the sovereignty of Yugoslavia but that it was also part of our most solemn guarantee in the Helsinki Treaty. No mention that it has thus been impossible for any UK or NATO politician with the most remote shred of integrity or decency to have supported our pro-Nazi government over the last 17 years.

No mention that the KLA now the NATO police are a gang of genocidal Nazi thugs, drug dealers, pimps & ex-secret police torturers mostly not from Kosovo but from Albania, Berlin & New York. No mention that our government knew exactly what they were up to when, in furtherence of The War In Support of Terror (TWIST) they armed & organised these genocidal Nazis.

Fortunately we can rely on the BBC, ITN & MSM (firmly including the Guardian) to exercise similar censorship.

Amazingly has it not only not yet been removed but the vast majority of comments, even in this openly pro-Nazi Guardian have been very supportive of the Serb case.

Monday, January 29, 2007


Occam's (or Ockham's) razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar; William of Occam. Ockham was the village in the English county of Surrey where he was born.

The principle states that "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily."

Many scientists have adopted or reinvented Occam's Razor as in Leibniz's "identity of observables" and Isaac Newton stated the rule: "We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances."

The most useful statement of the principle for scientists is,

"when you have two competing theories which make exactly the same predictions, the one that is simpler is the better."

For those who are wondering why the words of a medieval theologian are important the answer is that he had put his finger on the final rule of the scientific method.

The main rules are
Observe, experiment & measure
Think up a theory that covers observations
Test the theory with further measurements, observations & experiments
If new measurements don't, at some point fit, amend the theory
Repeat until it fits.

Where this falls down is that sometimes 2 or more theories fit. Not only in evolution but in almost everything you can use the theory that God dunnit. Galileo's theory that the Earth moved round the sun fitted only marginally better than the previous theory that Rarth moved round the sun & all the planets moved round us too but also moved in epicycles within epicycles ad nauseam but it was simpler (incidentally this is a case where the original simple Sun round Earth theory had quite properly been modified with these endless cycles but eventually had to be junked). Global warming is a theory that requires a number of assumptions about the future which are more complicated than the one that things will go on pretty much as before.

In all these cases the proper response is to go with Occam. It doesn't prove Darwin right but it does prove this to be the most sensible & thus only reasonable working hypothesis. Politics is full of people trying to sell their own theory (conspiracy or economic or 'ism) which within their own terms cannot be disproved (eg all the countries which called themselves socialist weren't & if I get to establish real socialism here everything will be wonderful & nobody can prove it won't work - perhaps not but the simplest assumption is that the 99th person selling this line isn't going to do much better than the previous 98).

Maybe someday somebody will come direct to the right conclusion by making a whole bunch of assumptions/guesses & being right but even then those who use science will get there a bit latter by making a few more experiments & ruling out the wrong guesses.

Then sometimes you get the disagreement as to which is the simpler assumption. I have mentioned before that I tend to treat the Everett Many Universe Theory as probable. There are reasons for this - the 2 slit experiment, i am informed cosmologists say it fits better - but it does not create a simpler universe. However it does not involve more assumptions which is the point (since it explains 2 slit & nothing else does, it involves, in my view, slightly less unknown assumptions than the classic position. However I accept it is not clearcut & I don't know everything but William of Ockham makes a very good guide.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


The Fermi Paradox is "why, if we are soon going to be able to go out into the galaxy & the number of stars similar to our own is so great have aliens not already come here".

They certainly have not come in any noticeable way. Whatever Von Daniken says any visitor's effects left in hard vacuum, such as orbit or the Moon, would last billions of years & clearly noting sizeable exists.

I you take the popular analogy of the history of the planet being a month long & Jesus being born at 2 seconds to midnight & assume that we can populate the galaxy in between about 20,000 & 200,000 years you will see that the aliens have between 2o seconds & 2 minutes to find us. If they haven't managed it in a "month" it seems unlikely & therefore unlikely they will.

This is part of a discussion on in which I participated
New Scientist article which says if we keep exploring at a couple of stars every 50 years we & putative aliens, would never find each other
- Roland Dobbins

It's all in the numbers. But suppose we set out to settle the galaxy with generation ships traveling at 1% of the speed of light. Build two generation ships. It takes 1,000 years to go from star to star. When you get there, it takes 1,000 years to build a civilization capable of building two more star ships. That's 2,000 years doubling time, with each generation ship building two more. I leave the resolution of this exponential to the readers, but you can see why Freeman Dyson says there is only one intelligent race per galaxy.

FRIDAY I think you're an optimist. Although recent astronomical discoveries say that many stars are likely to have planets, the likelihood of a suitable Sol-like star having a suitable Terra-like planet and lying within ten LY is pretty small. You might have to extend your sphere to 100 LY and your travel time to 10,000 years to reach a really good planet. Even then, and even assuming that the generation ship survives such a journey, many apparently suitable Sol-like stars would turn out for one reason or another to be unsuitable, although in many cases that could not be determined until the generation ship had already arrived. Scratch one generation ship.

Furthermore, some proportion of the generation ships, presumably a relatively large proportion, would encounter disasters during the trip or soon after arrival that would kill most or all of their passengers. Even if everything went as planned, the number of people that would fit on a generation ship are a pretty fragile start for a new civilization. If they run into stobor, they might be wiped out or have their skill sets reduced to the point that it would take them far, far longer than 1,000 years to develop to the point that they'd be ready to produce generation ships of their own.

I guess I just think the galaxy is a much larger and deadlier place than you and Dr. Dyson do.

-- Robert Bruce Thompson

Fiddle with the numbers as you will, exponentials are exponentials: in a billion years the galaxy will be populated under the most pessimistic assumptions. It isn't, so there were no intelligent species a billion years ago. Probably none 100 million years ago. Unlikely even a million years ago...


Subject: Populating the galaxy

Dr Pournelle

Robert Bruce Thompson finds fault in the argument on the technical side: likelihood of each ship finding a Terra-like planet smaller than expected; radius of required flight greater than expected; time required for each colony to achieve industrial capacity to replicate the adventure greater than expected. As you point out, this merely protracts the outcome: the curve will still go asymptotic.

The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves. What race has the will to maintain a policy of populating the galaxy for millions of generations? Ain't gonna happen.

Time is the great leveller. When we go to the stars -- I believe -- we are unlikely to find another race to share the galaxy with. But -- I believe -- we are very likely to find the artifacts of races long, long dead.

BTW 1% C is fast! At 1% C a ship would fly from the Earth to the Moon in under 13 seconds.

Sincerely h lynn keith ....

SATURDAY Casual reflections on the Fermi Paradox:

Why is nobody here?

1. We're alone. Also means we're unique. I have violent objections (call them religious; Mr. Heinlein did) to this possibility. I could be wrong; I'm not uncertain.

2. The Einstein limit is absolute and cannot be circumvented economically (or even as a desperate last-gasp effort). Every intelligence civilization that arises eats itself to death unable to cross the stars to salvation. This assumption is unfortunately far too plausible. Maybe our information will travel between the stars, but we never will.

2.1. Note that every "practical" system for interstellar travel presumes some sort of widget (warp drive, whatever) that has the net effect of assuming a threshold power level (typically on the order of 100 kilotons/second per vehicle, or about 4E14 Wts) at which the Einstein limit breaks down and interstellar travel becomes effortless. Note that 4E14 J is the kinetic energy of 1 kg of mass traveling at 9,145 km/s or 3% of c, and note again that I said the power assumed is per vehicle and not per kg mass of vehicle.The two derived scenarios are:

2.1.1. The "trick" is so difficult to identify few or no species ever develop the capability. 2.1.2. The "trick" is so easy that everyone gets it in time, which reduces to the same solution set as 3.

3. We're quarantined (either totally, or a few select people are in the "know.") Need not assume the possibility of FTL travel, though that does make things easier. Not implausible, but there are several corollaries:

3.1. The "classic" UFO/aliens scenario. The aliens who have us quarantined are not much in advance of us; enough to get here, but not enough to offer a serious military threat at the end of an interstellar logistics chain even with advanced technology. So they try to get whatever they want by subterfuge and manipulation. Note that this covers all of the possibilities from benign intervention to "they want us to worship their gods" to clandestine conquest.

3.2. The "galactic punctuated equilibrium" scenario. Probably most dramatically exemplified by Stephen Baxter in Manifold Space: Every "X" years (Baxter seems to equate X to the mean time between mass extinctions), intelligent species pop up everywhere simultaneously (with perhaps a technological development dispersion equivalent to a few hundred years -- a lot, if you're considering Moore's Law). Everything goes to pot for a few hundred years, after which the colliding expansion waves have decimated our corner of the galaxy, and everything stays quiet for a another sixty million years until the next wave simultaneously evolves.

3.3. The "Pax Organia/Prime Directive" scenario. One race gets far enough out on the power (literally) curve to dominate all the others in their corner of the galaxy, and are benign and confident enough in their own self-preservation to impose a "peace of the greater guns" on all the less nobly inclined species in their neighborhoods, and leave developing civilizations alone

3.4 The "Planetary Defense" scenario. They're eventually coming to eat us -- if not literally (though that can't be ruled out), then at least metaphorically by taking our materials and means of production for their own racial preservation. Nobody will protect us (3.3 fails) so when they finally arrive we're on our own.


I guess you'd call Janissaries -- what? A classical UFO/aliens scenario?
Or that the race between physical expansion & any intelligent race's ability to destroy itself also inherently involves faster geometric growth for destruction (60 years ago we could destroy 2 cities, now we could probably manage every city in the world, possibly by chemical & bacteriological means too.. In which case probably all we can do is build Dr Asimov's law abiding robots & send them as far away from us as possible.

On that basis I find emergence of the Rare Earths hypothesis, since it suggests that the bottlenecks in survival have mostly been passed, a happy development.

Your assessment of expansion is clearly right in general terms since it works by compound growth whereas the New Scientist article assumes human society will grow at an arthmetic rate taking as long to reach our 50,001st after the 50,000th star as to get from here to Centauri. Living systems don't do arithmetic growth for long.

Neil Craig

Which has sent my hitmeter soring.

The Rare Earths hypothesis is that various sorts of accidents must be so statistically common that it is a very very lucky planet indeed (ours) that doesn't get knocked back to the microbial level far faster than intelligent life can develop - being hit by comets, solar variablity or lack of variability (our sun is about 40% warmer than it used to be & we have managed to escape both freezing & a greenhouse effect under both by being lucky in the make up of the atmosphere both times) etc. The arithmetic that life is rarer than previously thought is compelling. Beyond that the effect of our Moon (a moon this comparative size must be rare because the experts can't explain it) may have produced a tidal effect that got life onto land.

A really off the wall suggestion I would like to make is to make use of the Everett multiple universe theory, that every possible outcome on the atomic level actually takes place & that a new universe is created each time, though they tend to fold back into themselves if the turn out to be exactly the same as another infinitude of universes. As a concept this is mind boggling which doesn't in any way prevent it being true.

If you add to this that the theoretical chance of a molecule with enough links to self replicate seems to be orders of magnitude more than the number of number of molecules formed in the history of the universe & we get the possibility that life is so unusual that its creation branched off into a whole new universe. If this were so then no life not related to us would exist. Alternately the branch point might be the development of self aware or even intelligent life. This is one reason why I would like to find if there is microbial life on Mars where conditions about as severe as the Antarctic seem to exist. If there was no life it would suggest our uniqueness, if there were some clearly unrelated to ours it would suggest life is common. If we found life which might have travelled from (or to Earth) by meteor or light pressure it would prove ...?

The counter to this, which is probably really more likely is that there are some reasons that make the formation of self replicating which we just don't understand yet. Some molecular affinity or some simpler self replication that was viable in an empty Earth but has died out since. One thing in favour of this is that we know that life appeared almost as soon as the earth had cooled but if it was a once only rare event there is no particular likelihood of this. Complex life & life broadly self aware made MUCH later appearances which is why it would also be possible that they are the improbable occurences.

Or God, or the Time Experiment Committee of 50,000AD in which case all bets are off.

One this case everybody is in a position of trying to deduce the location of a black cat in the Carlsbad caverns while wearing blindfolds, never having seen a cat, & not sure if such a creature exists.


On January 19th I attempted to poston the Guardian's comments online & found I had been forbidden access. It turns out that has been restored & indeed the restoration has lasted a few days so far. I don't know if somebody passed on my statement or what.

I am therefore putting up links to items I have commented on. I am registered as 9percentgrowth if anybody wants to see my words of wisdom.

Comparative growth,,1996549,00.html


Sunbsidy anybody?,,1999791,00.html

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