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Saturday, January 16, 2010


This letter went out on Thursday to the world's newspapers & has been published by the Scotsman. They have edited it significantly to take out the specific evidence for hormesis which is a pity (highlighted) but nonetheless it is only the 2nd time any western newspaper has been willing to publish any letter on the subject.
Oxford Professor of Physics Wade Allison has had the courage to state publicly that the alleged "scientific consensus" about low level radiation being harmful is wrong. He is right to do so. Since climategate media & political assertions of scientific consensii (changed to assertions of scientific consensus) are, rightly, coming under increased examination. This one, by preventing the world having sufficient inexpensive, safe & reliable nuclear power has greatly & unnecessarily impoverished the entire human race for the last 30 years.

Not only is there absolutely no evidence to support the claim that low level radiation is harmful, there is a vast amount for the contrary theory, known as hormesis, that it is beneficial. There are many places in the world such as Kerala in India or Yellowstone Park in the USA where natural background radiation is far above the level the "official consensus" says is dangerous, without any measurable ill effects over many thousands of years. Studies of Radon in homes have been done repeatedly because they repeatedly find the "official" wrong answer - that high levels of Radon correlate with good health. There is other evidence but the most indisputable, because it is almost a classic experiment, albeit accidental, occurred in Taiwan. A block of 180 flats were built there in 1983 with steel contaminated by radioactive cobalt 60 which has a half life of 5.5 years. When this was discovered, 20 years & 10,000 inhabitants, later, the radiation was largely gone but the records of who had lived there & how much they must have been exposed to were easily calculable. According to the no lower threshold "consensus" there should have been a massive increase in cancers. In fact cancers were down to 3.6% of prevailing Taiwanese rates.

The alleged "consensus" has only been maintained by a blanket refusal to notice this & other conclusive proofs. I can say from personal experience that newspapers eager to push any sort of scare story from the global ice age to breast enhancements without any evidence, have overwhelmingly refused to report this clear & unambiguous proof. That may make a consensus but certainly not a scientific one.

Reference - detailed article on hormesis

I would have much preferred some of the evidence to also have been published but this is a move in the right direction. I have also given myself a Google News alert on mentions of the no threshold theory & will keep sending out variants of this when they occur. The original variant of it went to the Guardian when they rubbished Professor Allison as not being on message with the "consensus" but though they published other letters none as supportive, unsurprisingly, were used.

Perhaps some anti-nuclearist will write to the Scotsman saying I am wrong - in which case I will reply using the evidence in the last half of my letter. However experience shows such people reticient about getting into a fact based discussion.

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Friday, January 15, 2010


This issue can be traced back to the 1950s and a researcher named Ancel Keys whose "Seven Countries Study" became the basis for his contention that cardiovascular disease was largely the result of high serum cholesterol levels brought on by a diet high in saturated fat.

However, Ancel Keys and his "lipid hypothesis" is a perfect example of strong bias affecting research results. Keys was, in fact, determined to "prove" his lipid hypothesis by pretty much any means, even if that included selecting only data that supported it.

This is precisely what happened with the lipid hypothesis.

Ancel Keys had put forth that a high fat diet, particularly a diet high in saturated fat, was a major contributor to high cholesterol which in turn leads to heart disease in the form of arteriosclerosis (arterial plaque build-up).

Subsequent and independent analysis of the data that were available to Keys shows that he "cherry picked" only those countries with numbers that supported his hypothesis and omitted a significant amount of data that showed there was actually no correlation between dietary fat, cholesterol, and arteriosclerosis. But this information has been largely ignored.

Part of this can be explained by powerful industry groups with a vested interest in having his theory accepted as fact. Part of it can also be attributed to Keys’ strong and persuasive personality...

Gary Taubes fascinating, and meticulously researched book, Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, when the government made it official policy to tell Americans what they should and should not be eating through Senator George McGovern's 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States, we were being led by biased research, bad science, naive and biased writers, and the powerful influence of various factions of the food industry. YET AGAIN WE SEE GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRATS SEEKING TO EMPIRE BUILD & SEIZING ON ANY USEFUL SCARE STORY TO DO SO - Neil...

When subsequent researchers reviewed the entire data that were available to Keys, they were astonished to learn that there was no correlation in the data to support Keys hypothesis.

Indeed when analyzing data from all countries from which data were available (data that Keys had access to) there was no correlation in the data.

In spite of this, that initial report has been used over and over to prove that fat, particularly saturated fat, is a major contributing factor in arteriosclerosis, and that a low fat diet is important to control cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

Article in full

Another article

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Thursday, January 14, 2010


An article at Next Big Future on the risk of the Sun producing anything from a large enough flare to wipe us out to a full blown Nova. This could be natural but since it hasn't happened so far looks infinitely more likely to occur by human intervention. I am credits by the author Joseph Friedlander with giving a name to this regrettable possibility
This is your occasional guest correspondent, Joseph Friedlander, writing about the possibility of the least welcome kind of ‘anthropogenic global warming’ imaginable—a human caused detonation of the Sun we all depend upon.

At the request of Professor Alexander A. Bolonkin, I have compiled a re-translation of the Russian-language interview concerning the Professor’s 2007 investigation of the danger of a man-triggered detonation of the Sun. As Next Big Future is an alert mechanism of the Lifeboat Society, we should appreciate that a solar detonation of any magnitude could destroy any free-flying colony buildable soon in the inner Solar System—and total Solar detonation could do far more than that.

A term to describe this has been invented by Neil Craig -- ‘novaing’ the Sun. Note that this does not necessarily connote the entire destruction of the physical order of the Solar System—even quite minor changes in solar luminosity and regularity could be fatal for the Earth as an inhabitable planet. Even if temporary, what comfort if we will not be around when the Sun recovers?
I said this on an external comment where I had been discussing the race run by humanity between Godhood & extinction. As technology has advanced it has become possible for 1 government to wipe out the planet. That is part of why we need to get a spacegoing civilisation. If novaing becomes possible & bearing in mind how puny our H-Bombs are compared to the surface of the Sun I personally think we are a very long way from such a possibility, it would mean we had to settle other star systems too. or deep underground on various planets. The latter would not protect us from a full nova but would for the worst imaginable flare.

Professor Alexander Bolonkin in the interview is less sanguine about the difficulty
Here you (like most people) are gravely mistaken. This "match" may be a specially constructed nuclear bomb. And the firebug -- a dying dictator of a totalitarian state that has nuclear bomb and missiles. People are already convinced that the world is full of suicide terrorists, who sincerely believe that the more they kill "infidels", the sooner they get into heaven.

Astronomers often observe an explosion of so-called "new" stars, when they explode, all around the world. Many of the astronomers explain the explosions from natural causes. But these explosions (or at least part of them) may be artificial - caused by war within civilizations which have mastered nuclear technology.

It is unfortunate that one answer to the Fermi Question of why haven't aliens landed yet is that the growth in destructive power may be inherently greater than that in the ability to survive it in which case disaster for any advanced civilisation becomes inevitable. I tend towards the other view that this is not inevitable & that the answer to Fermi is that we are alone, as an intelligent lifeform. I certainly intend to act as if that is true. Acting otherwise, whatever the truth, is not constructive.

I have also invented the word "fakenewspaper" like fakecharity & some looney on wikipedia invented "Croatiaphobia" (I would never have invented such a clumsy term) as an excuse to put up a wiki entry being rude about me & my views on Yugoslavia. Neither have reached the OED or anywhere else but they do seem fairly escapist compared to "novaing".

UPDATE I forgot I also invented the term Snek (or $NEK)[June 13th-17th] acronym for dollars for exch liowatt - being a measure of the relationship of GNP & electricity production. World average Snekm is about 4, we are just over 6, China 2 1/2. No that hasn't been picked up by the OED either.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010


We constantly get told that this or that new ban or health scare put about by the government is sincerely meant, not just parasitic empire building bureaucrats looking for something else to do. I have my doubts. I have previously demonstrated that the deaths due to reduced national wealth are over 100 times greater than the 100 lives allegedly saved. I have also shown that the number of deaths caused by people having to stand outside pubs on a winters night to smoke is likely to be far higher than alleged from passive smoking )though actually it is unlikely that there are any deaths from passive smoking.

Here is a more general finding:
Researchers from Norway and the United Kingdom found that mortality rates for people suffering from depression are similar to those who smoke.

The joint study, conducted by research teams at the University of Bergen, Norway, and the Institute of Psychology at King's College in London, compared results from a 60,000-person survey with a mortality database. Scientists found that smoking and depression increased the risk of death by a similar margin.
And does getting pushed about by these little Hitlers tend to make us happier or more depressed.

Specifically then these parasites are as deadly as smoking is. Considering how many smoking kills that is a very significant threat & used as the basis of much public policy. If only government nannying was recognised as equally culpable & were also as socially unacceptable.

Incidentally this puts in perspective the pure evil of government making asylums conform to the smoking ban. Prisons, which are full of people rather less helpless were excused the ban but some of the most helpless people in society are being literally tortured in the name of political correctness fascism. I did right to my local MSP Patricia Ferguson but the evil bitch didn't think her torture was something worth putting finger to keyboard to defend.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I have had an original idea, at least I haven't seen it anywhere else. I cannot say that I understand the engineering well enough to be certain it is feasible but here goes. I welcome comments.

It has always been assumed that a Space Elevator would have to go from a geosynchronous satellite exactly to the equator because if the ground base were off the equator it would exert a force which, however slight, would be unbalanced by any counter force, on the orbiting satellite. In particular I said that though Ascension Island would make a good conventional spaceport being 7.5 degrees south of the equator would make it impractical.

However assume 2 cables from the same orbiting station - each going to the same longitude but one to the northern & one to the southern hemispheres. Then each exercises a countervailing pressure balancing the other, the triangle is stable & so is the orbiting satellite.

There would be some lateral stress on the cable & it would have to be a bit longer but because Geopstationary is 22,300 miles up the angle is very narrow. Therefore the lateral stresses are very small & as Pythagoras proved the extension of length minor.

Here are some examples:

Ascension Island cable length (root 22,300^2 + 500^2) is 22,306 miles.

New York (41 degrees = 2500 miles north) cable length (root {22300 + 400)^2 +2500^2) is 22,837 miles. (I have added 400 miles to account for New York being, due to the curvature of the Earth, "lower" than the equator)

Glasgow (56 degrees & 3,400 miles north) cable length (root (22300 + 700)^2 + (3400^2) is 23,250 miles.

North pole (4000 miles north) has cable length (root {22300 + 4000(^2 + 4000^2) of 26,600 miles.

In fact such is the distance to geosynchronous orbit that the angle to a non-equatorial spot is tiny & the main extension is just because any non equatorial spot is "lower" towards the Earth's axis than a point on the equator. Even if we assume the difficulty & expense of a cable going up with the cube of its length the increase in cost is trivial compared with the advantage of being able to ship to orbit directly, by "cable car" from any major city on the planet.

Note that I do not propose this for the first Elevator - lets keep everything as simple as possible. However once 1 elevator exists shipping up enough material to build another cable is very much easier & cheaper & their growth can be exponential. If they doubled annually then in a decade we would have 1,000 cables or 500 pairs connecting directly to the 500 biggest cities in the northern hemisphere & a lot of very small places in the southern.

Note that in the interview with Dr Brad Edwards of Black Line Ascension he said that the base of an Elevator would need to be mobile at sea because it would have to be regularly moved to avoid other orbiting objects. However with an angled Elevator there are lateral forces acting & it might be possible, either by using placement of lifts to bend the cable a few metres to the side or by letting out or in a little more cable for the same effect to keep a fixed tether site. I have neither the mathematical knowledge nor the understanding of the qualities of the materials to know if this is possible or practical but I put the idea up.

I can even imagine enough spare capacity to use them to take suborbital craft up 1,000 miles & let them glide to anywhere in the world, though this, even though it takes little energy, may not be cost effective.

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Monday, January 11, 2010


Iain Dale has this somewhat surprising, particularly for a leading Conservative assessment of the likely state of the parties after the next election
Over the last few days I have been going through every single parliamentary seat with the aim of trying to predict which party will win it at the next election. As you can imagine, it has been quite a task. Why have I done this? For one reason - that I do not believe in national swings, or to be honest, even regional swings. The days of uniform swings have gone and for that reason, it is difficult to put much faith in the predictions of national opinion polls...

Conservative 331
Labour 216
LibDem 69
Plaid Cymru 5
Green 1
Others 3
Northern Ireland 18

This gives the Conservatives a majority of just twelve seats.
That is certainly not gospel. It could vary substantially either with a 1% swing nationally either way or even if 50 voters each in 12 seats the Conservatives are tipped for goes the other way (ie 600 people). It would be astonishing if between now & the next election opinion did not swing, one way or another, by more than 1%.

However the underlying trend is something we can more easily speculate on. I am surprised at his assessment of how well the LibDems will do & how badly the SNP but these sort of cancel each other. Beyond all that is the likelihood that there will be about 100 seats held by parties agreed, if on nothing else, that we should have a democratic, proportional electoral system.

Add to that that Gordon Brown would have to be replaced & the only person I can see on the Labour horizon who isn't an idiot or the Prince of Darkness is Alan Johnson, whose main claim to electability is that he wants a referendum on PR.

That would mean something very close to a Parliamentary majority for PR. It is something, perhaps the only thing, on which all the opposition parties could unite.

It could be that even if Johnson takes the post & stands by his word a number of Labourites might refuse to vote for it, or even that the party would fracture, though if it fractured both portions would then have to rely on PR to survive.

So a small but significant number of Conservative MPs who are favourable to PR would have to make up their minds. Or else the party as a whole would have to bow to the inevitable.

While PR is not on the political agenda & both major parties want it so, the fact that the large majority of individuals, if only in a generalised way, support it can be ignored. If it becomes the political issue in Parliament it cannot be.

The Conservatives would find themselves not only facing a united opposition directly representing 60% of the voters but probably in reality a much larger proportion of voters since First Past the Post is difficult to defend in any democratic way.

The Tories supporting PR should look at what is the best interest of their party. Would it be holding the line & keeping FPTP at the cost of uniting both Parliament & people against them? Or would it be to defy the whips & produce a massive defeat for their party but a defeat which would end the opposition unity & allow them to fight the next election on equal terms rather than as the bad guys.

Cameron's cabinet should also look at this question from the same viewpoint. He could, seeing reform as inevitable, choose to lead it. If so he gets much of the credit & since there are various sorts of PR, get to make the choice. After all the current system, because Labour constituencies tend to be shrinking & have lower turnouts. A proportional system would mean the break up of the party monopoly into a range of parties including UKIP to the right of the Conservatives & some sort of looney leftists to the left of mainstream Labour. Though party labels might change it would be likely to benefit the free market interest.

Though this may not be a party consideration it is a reform which is generations overdue inn Britain. Our whole concept of politics is immensely stultified by the fact that party political debate is trapped within 2 centralised [parties both of which are scared stiff of any member having any "new ideas" in case they are "controversial" & might turn a few people off. Consequently new ideas is something we do without, which, in an era of daily technological progress, dooms us to be always behind the times.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010


This is an extract from the last part of Peggy Noonan's piece in the Wall Street Journal (via Jerry Pournelle). It is written about the expectation that Obama is sufficiently disastrous that the Republicans are heading back to power. I am quoting it because it seems to also inadvertently apply to Cameron's Conservatives too. In both countries the party machines seem to be united in their contempt for the voters.
The question isn't whether they'll win seats in the House and Senate this year, and the question isn't even how many. The question is whether the party will be worthy of victory, whether it learned from its losses in 2006 and '08, whether it deserves leadership. Whether Republicans are a worthy alternative. Whether, in short, they are serious.

I spoke a few weeks ago with a respected Republican congressman who told me with some excitement of a bill he's put forward to address the growth of entitlements and long-term government spending. We only have three or four years to get it right, he said. He made a strong case. I asked if his party was doing anything to get behind the bill, and he got the blanched look people get when they're trying to keep their faces from betraying anything. Not really, he said. Then he shrugged. "They're waiting for the Democrats to destroy themselves."

This isn't news, really, but it was startling to hear a successful Republican political practitioner say it.

Republican political professionals in Washington assume a coming victory. They do not see that 2010 could be a catastrophic victory for them. If they seize back power without clear purpose, if they are not serious, if they do the lazy and cynical thing by just sitting back and letting the Democrats lose, three bad things will happen. They will contribute to the air of cynicism in which our citizens marinate. Their lack of seriousness will be discerned by the Republican base, whose enthusiasm and generosity will be blunted. And the Republicans themselves will be left unable to lead when their time comes, because operating cynically will allow the public to view them cynically, which will lessen the chance they will be able to do anything constructive.

In this sense, the cynical view—we can sit back and wait—is naive. The idealistic view—we must stand for things and move on them now—is shrewder.

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