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Saturday, April 02, 2011


   An American media personality Ann Coulter has spoken out on the LNT/hormesis strongly supporting hormesis.

   Her shtick is to go OTT and thereby court notoriety, for example by pointing out that the Democrat majority depends on women's votes and that thus votes for women may have been a bad idea, so lets not take this as total victory so much as the arrival of reinforcements.

   It is a sign of how controlled our media is that she would never get on air here. I don't think anybody could dispute that she would get the ratings of 10 O'Clock Live up if that were ever the primary concern.

   I first saw this on one of those eco-fascist blogs which pretend to scientific standards and posted this reply
Despite the word count you make no attempt to produce any actual evidence for LNT. That is because there is none. None whatsoever.

It was invented by bureaucrats because it gave them a simple and overcautious rule but it is not and never has been science.

Without going through everything - I will show the fault and clear bias in the attempted refutation of the Taiwan case. It refers to having found a positive correlation with leukemia & then points out that it is only among people under 30. Out of a population of 7000 the number who are both under 30 and cancerous must be less than the fingers of one hand. If we are talking of 1 or 2 cases it it is not statistically viable and anybody basing their case on it must know that.

The evidence for hormesis, on the other hand, comes from a large number of unrelated sources, some them using very large populations (the whole US population and the level of radon in homes), some repeatable (laboratory examination of plants and cultures); some over immense times (natural radiation in part of Iran and of India is 200 times normal background and has been since we lived in the trees); and some thoroughly studied accidents where exposure can be fully known (Taiwan & the radium watch dial cases). All of them strongly support hormesis.

This is a collection of links to evidence on the subject. I offered to do a collection of links proving LNT but nobody had any. Perhaps the writer of this article can do so - the offer remains open.

LNT is the basis of the entire anti-nuclear scare movement. If has deprived the human race of inexpensive nuclear electricity and probably thereby cut our wealth by about 60% and allowed millions to die in cold and poverty. If it is not scientifically proven this makes the global warming scam and perhaps even the DDT one look as small as the medieval witchburning one.
  I look forward to the vituperative writer being the first in the world to produce actual evidence for the official theory, or acknowledging it it isn't science ;-)

  Which induces me to make an estimate of how many people, worldwide, LNT and the anti-nuclear scare story has killed.
Some studies have suggested that as many as 50 000 people die annually because they cannot afford to heat their homes properly.

I don't want to go OTT so lets settle on 25,000 preventable deaths annually in the UK.
The UK is 1/30th of the world economy. I could assume lives saved would be proportional to world population (roughly 3/4%) and an estimate between the 2 would be justified but I intend to make this a conservative calculation.

The unambiguous fall off in the progress of nuclear power began in 1985 (it taking at least 10 years to plan and build a plant) so that is 26 years.

Total deaths 25,000 X 30 X 26 = 19.5 million minimum, 750,000 annually

Not numerically comparable with the 70 million from the false eco-fascist DDT scare story over a longer period, but since that was mainly among African children while this is mainly among old people in the developed world, arguably of more importance here. Since this scare has not only caused death but impoverished the entire society (we would be about 2.4 times wealthier had we kept building nuclear plants) the deaths are only a minor part of the overall cultural effect. . Indeed that impoverishment will have caused secondary deaths of at least equal numbers but this contains so many imponderables I am ignpring it here.


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Friday, April 01, 2011


 This is cool
Alberta-based private company Aviation Capital Enterprises says it has inked a deal with US aerospace colossus Lockheed, builder of the P-791, to "design, develop, build, flight test and Federal Aviation Administration certify a family of hybrid aircraft". The first ship, dubbed "SkyTug" and able to lift 20 tons, is to be delivered in 2012. Further versions are to scale up to "several hundred tons", apparently.
A hybrid air vehicle isn't a conventional lighter-than-air dirigible, whose weight is entirely supported by the buoyancy of its lifting gas. A hybrid's gas only counteracts part of its weight: in order to get airborne, the SkyTug will swivel its propellers downwards for vertical thrust. Once it starts flying forward its hull will generate dynamic lift just as an aeroplane's wing does, allowing the props to be swivelled horizontal for greater cruising speed.

  Good video as well. There are good reasons why fixed wing aircraft were developed and Zeppelins weren't but there are many things the latter can do well. This is, in fact, much bettercontrolled than the original ones were. In almost all technology manufacturing costs drop rapidly when you have long production lines so the difficult bit is selling the first few, after which costs drop.

    A world where it is possible to commercially transport hundred ton units is one where we are free to do many more things.are practical. For example I have previously written about mass produced off site houses, but they have been constrained by having to be road transportable units and thus fit the dimensions of 1, or more, container lorries. We can see that day ending.
   I always imagined this was how the SHIELD helicarrier worked.

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Thursday, March 31, 2011


A very sombre post from Jerry Pournelle on what the attack on Libya means. I am editing but strongly reccomend the full article:
The President has abandoned the principles of the Laws of War and Peace that began with Hugo Grotius publishing his book of that title in 1625....One principle of International Law is sovereignty. It is a difficult concept and particularly difficult to reconcile with the notion of natural law. Which sovereign powers are legitimate and which are not? ....Over time his views took root and there did develop something called "International Law" and the Laws of Nations. There were even recognized principles sort of regulating war.

The long tradition of development of International Law was supposed to come to a triumphant conclusion with the creation of the United Nations: but the UN seems now to be a popular mechanism for interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations...My tentative conclusion is that we have a new definition of "sovereign". Sovereign nations have nukes. Those who do not have nukes are not sovereign and may be judged by the UN Security Council, and possibly by American Intellectuals, and deposed by Great Powers acting in concert, or even by UN "Peace Keeping" forces depending on the military strength of the non-sovereign. Non-sovereign states may be overthrown.... have no brief for the governments of Iran, Burma, Syria and such. Under the old International Law those were sovereign entities. As of today, they are not, and they are on notice that they are not. Sovereigns are those who have nukes. Those who do not have nukes can find themselves under fire from rebels armed and aided by the Great Powers, even when the Great Powers have not the foggiest notion of who those rebels are. It is not important who takes charge: it is important that the old rulers go. No safe place for them to go will be provided and the World Court waits with its prisons. Sun Tzu said we should build golden bridges for our enemies, but we are not taking that advice: we are burning the bridges for Gaddafi and his sons. ....He has few choices: he faces death for himself and his sons and much of his clan. He is not sovereign. Unlike Dear Leader in North Korea, who faces the same fate, but who is sovereign under the new rules. I suspect this is all being closely followed in Syria. And perhaps in Saudi Arabia as well?

It's a matter of sovereignty.
   This is very much my view but it is frightening to have it confirmed.

  A world where de facto sovereignty depends on having nukes is one where lots more countries are going to have them. The more there are the more the likelihood they will be used. This is not just an arithmetic growth function but a geometric one because when everybody has them and one is used who will be sure where it came from. If that doesn't frighten you??

   It is not the first time that technology has determined political culture. Under the feudal syatem the sovereign had only limited powers because his nobles had castles which could not, without a long and doubtful siege, be captured. Then cannon came along. Only kings could afford to keep a permanet artillery train which meant they, alone, could easily destroy their subject's fortifications and the modern definition of sovereignty, Grotius's, arose.

    I do not see this new soverignty being limited to nuclear weapons. During WW2 the Germans developed the nerve gas Sarin - one bomb of which could have killed an area similar to Hiroshima. Indeed nerve gas has been described as the poor nation's atom bomb. The same applies to biological warfare. Possibly even more important than the weapon is the delivery system, but even there they need not be ICBMs but can be cruise missiles. Even a suicide squadron of Censna's will be very difficult to stop.

   Almost any country can regain its sovereignty by such means. At one time the SNP had a defence spokesman who said that Scotland's defence policy should be to buy some missiles and gas and declare ourselves a major power. When the leadership noticed they fired him.

   Which is why western policy has been so disasterous. During the cold war both sides stuck, fairly closely to the leter of international law (both sides denounced each other for breaking the spirit but law is about law not "spirit"). After the west won our leaders showed a total contempt for international law. Our war against Yugoslavia broke soverignty, the law, human decency and our most solemn treaty commitments. Yugoslavia had been the 4th country in the world to develop a nuclear pile and made a deliberate decision, in the 1970s, not to develop a Bomb because it would have destabilised Europe. That was a noble decision but, with hindsight, overly trusting. Equally (well not quite equally because Yugoslavia was a law respecting democracy an Libya isn't) a few years ago Gaddafi made the deliberate decision to exit the "Axis of Evil" and receive western friendship in return for giving up his nuclear ambitions and the missiles he did have, which were, at least theoretically, capable of bringing weapons of mass destruction to most of Europe's cities. Clearly one of Gaddafi's failures has been being overly trusting of the integrity of our political leaders. What chance now any other nation will make the same mistake?

     If we want a world where the next SNP leader will not feel compelled to accept the advice mentioned above. The UN's alleged "authorisation" of bombing Libya is unlawful because the UN Charter is absolutely clear that it does not have authority to interfere within national sovereignty. We have to start respecting that. At the very least we should not support Libyan rebels by bombing anywhere to the west of rebel occupied territory, rather than encouraging them to kill Gaddaffi, his children, his grandchildren, relatives and pets. We should either get rid of the ICC or prove it is a serious attempt at strengthening international law by bringing those western leaders against whom there is an indisputable case, or even one little stronger than the case we brought against Milosvic, of the war crime of pursuing a criminal war against Yugoslavia and perhaps also Iraq and Libya. Nothing less can produce political pressure towards the rule of law and against everybody who can going armed.

  A technical semi-answer would be revamping SDI but the probelm with that remains that if it is done by a single nation others allowing it would be consenting to world sovereignty being in that nation's hands (USA or China and currently China is the more credible space power). It also doesn't work 100% or against cruise missiles, short range missiles or the Cesna Suicide Squadron. An SDI in the UN hands, or some other international body, would only work if the UN etc was visibly a supporter of international, law and could be trusted - which Libya proves is not the case.

  I have previously proposed the creation of an open access computer programme to act as judge of international law. I think that would earn far more trust than Obama, the UN, Nato, or indeed the Chinese Praesidium combined.

   As normal Heinlein had the last word decades ago.

  A worse point is that a commercial space craft is a potential commercial ICBM. We may see pressure to prevent them existing. A world government that could do that could stop all human progress as Professor John McCarthy has said. In the 1980s Dr Pournelle warned that we might be in a race between
 technological progress and exhaustion of Earth's resources leaving us stuck here. That did not happen because both the resources and human inginuity proved greater. However we may now be in a race between everybody having WMDs and consequent wars; a capricious world government smothering freedom and progress; & the technological future we know is possible.


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Wednesday, March 30, 2011


   I have a Google news alert for "LNT" the Linear No Threshold theory of radioactivity. I had a previous one for the "scientific consensus" of global warming, which is now more often mentioned by those saying it is bull than supporters. Recently I recognised the words of a news item flagged - It comes from, is acknowledged as a letter from me (which I previously thought had gone unpublished) and is used as one hook for a full article  in the Hong Kong based East Asia Times
We see the "environmentalists" are eager to talk about the Japanese catastrophe. Not the earthquake and tsunami which looks to have killed 10,000 people, but the consequent reactor failure which has caused neither death not injury to anybody. This ten thousandfold lack of balance is typical of the way the word "nuclear" is reported as if it were a form of black magic ... The LNT hypothesis has never been anything but an evidence free scare story. Despite its "official" acceptance by government apparatchiks in both the Soviet and "democratic" worlds it has never had any scientific evidence whatsoever behind it.

  The article is not purely about LNT/hormosis but about how risk is calculated, particularly by government, but it certainly supports my opinion, concluding
This is the reason why in an earthquake-prone area, government officials and people tend to act in a fashion that suggest an underestimation of risks; while with respect to nuclear power plants they behave in a fashion that suggests an overestimation of risks. The fault is not with them; rather it lies in what they think the rest of us expect from them.
  There are

By a curious coincidence Spiked have also done an article written by Bill Durodie, a journalist in Singapore which covers the fact that LNT is clearly false
Those who suggest that thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, of fatal cancers are linked to the Chernobyl disaster are basing these estimates on extrapolations from the effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. These estimates are derived using a linear extrapolation from the effects of high levels of radiation received in an instant as the bombs exploded. But most researchers recognise that the circumstances in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were very different to those in Chernobyl. Such estimates are, therefore, based on rather shaky evidence. It is like suggesting that because a temperature of 200 degrees Celsius would kill 100 per cent of human beings, so a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius should kill 10 per cent of them. In reality, our bodies are able to tolerate radiation up to a certain threshold. Low levels of radiation are almost certainly harmless.

   The East Asia Yimes have also published some previous letters from me.

 This follows a letter of mine they published which I have previously mentioned. I did not mention that I had postscripted the letter with a suggestion that the virtual impossibility of getting the MSM to mention LNT/hormesis made it something which Spiked should be interested in. I even volunteered to write it but heard nothing.
the linear no threshold theory of mass would say that since the chances that an elephant falling on you will kill you are roughly 100 per cent, the chance that putting on a hat will kill you must be must be about 0.1 per cent and multiplying that by the hat-wearing population of London would mean hundreds of deaths daily

   I am very pleased to say that there have been a number of articles mentioning LNT over the last few months and the balance has been very strongly that the no lower threshold series is largely or totally wrong. Of course it is a very small number compared to all news and since that theory has been responsible for preventing the human race getting inexpensive power for the last 40 years, I consider it far to little coverage. But it is real movement.

Congress blog, Council on Science & Health, blog common sense, depleted cranium, mounting body of evidence, history, Prof Wade Allison, history, LNT inconsistent with the data, Ted Rockwell, Society of Nuclear Medicine

More Technical
A list of links paper giving some more recent evidence, pdf, beneficial effects on small animals, therapeutic radon, British Journal of Radiology paper, Spas - where people think it works, Ramsar the world's highest natural, paper, Prof John McCarthy, Professor Bernard Cohen, radon mine results show hormesis

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011


IT IS unfortunate that Tim Flinn (Letters, 28 March), while regaling us with the spectacular claim that each kwh of nuclear electricity costs more in disposal than "the number of particles in the universe", didn't say how this figure, incredible even by the normal unexacting standards of Luddite scare stories, was calculated.

I invite anybody promoting anti-nuclear fears, from Scottish Renewables to the SNP, to at least dissociate themselves from such nonsense if they ever want anything else they may say, on any subject, to be treated as credible.

On the one point where he gives a figure - that reactor radiation remains dangerous for 150,000 years - he is wrong. The most radioactive isotopes decay the fastest. (That's what being most radioactive amounts to). About one cubic metre of waste per year is generated by a power plant. It needs to be kept away from people. After ten years, the fission products are 1,000 times less radioactive, and after 500 years, they will be less radioactive than the uranium ore they are originally derived from
  The original letter was indeed stupid. If the anti-nuclear movement were remotely interested in facts its members would jump on idiots like this from a great height. The fact that they don't proves they are a religious rather than intellectual movement, and a religion fit only for the congenitally stupid at that. I doubt if any newspaper would print a letter saying that the Greens are wrong because allowing a Green party member to go unhung anywhere within quatter of a million miles of here creates a 99.7% chance chldren will die of cancer within the week, though, arithmetically, that is a much more sensible claim.

    I would like to acknowledge that the last few sentences, in bold, were lifted verbatim from Professor John McCarthy's excellent website debunking the Luddites and promoting human progress.

  Online comments are 1 from a numerically literate source who estimates "Between 10^72 and 10^87" and 2 from Luddites. one an ad hom attack the other bringing in another, false, claim. Neither, as would be statisticaly expected if the entire Luddite movement consists of people with no slightest trace of honesty or even any shame about it, have a single word of criicsm for Flinn's lies. I will send this to the SNP, LudDims and Greens. We will see if  they make any attempt to ensure that "anything else they may say, on any subject, [ought] to be treated as credible."

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Monday, March 28, 2011


   I sent copies of the broadcast debates proposal to all the main broadcasting companies and some individuals saying that if they there was no commercial reason why broadcasting debates were not permitted and if my low estimate of costs was valid it would strongly suggest that the only other reason suggested, deliberate censorship, was correct.

   Channel 4 sent an acknowledgement promising somebody would reply within 7 days but nobody did and the BBC explained "I can assure you we are guided by viewer feedback and your points have been fully registered on our audience log".

   One individual in the industry did reply and while describing trying to get anything new in Scottish broadcasting as energy poured down the drain, did give a useful estimate for what such a programme would cost, assuming the broadcaster already has a couple of cameramen with free time and a venue, as major broadcasters always have.
It wouldn’t cost much more than a couple of thousand pounds to research and do travel expenses of punters and pay for guests
  Well under what I had been willing to estimate and what the BBC, with its £3.5 billion budget, spends every 18 seconds. I suspect that is well under 1% of what 10 O'clock Live, now on under 700,000 viewers, costs. Effectively dissected by Delingpole as "like attending one of those Maoist re-education lectures the Chinese used to impose on captured British and American prisoners during the Korean war. Only without the levity, rapier wit and penetrating intellectual sophistication" and more importantly, for commercial comparisons, still running. By comparison my poll on this question suggests a possible regular audience for serious debates would be 50% above Question Time's at 5 million.


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Sunday, March 27, 2011


  Jerry Pournelle has published 2 comments of mine together. The first is a reply to a suggestion that US government funding of BBC development of new broadcasting technology was US aid to a bankrupt Britain. I used it as an opportunity to publicise the SR53 mark 2 rocket plane.

The 2nd was a reply to his assessment of how to define victory in war and taking WW2 as an example of the US not achieving victory and the USSR achieving it. This is one of very few points on which I & he disagree. His reply in bold. I think both sides have put the case adequately.
Wars don't really begin until the fighting starts, and they certainly don't end when the battles are over. Sometimes it takes a long time to determine who actually won the war, particularly if you define "win" as being better off after the war ends than you were before you entered it. Under that definition the United States clearly won the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, although in the latter case it took a while for that to become clear. After all, one of the unstated objectives of the War of 1812 was the conquest of all or at least part of Canada, that we clearly failed to achieve that; it took a while for the upside of this war to manifest themselves. The Mexican War looked to be a clear victory. World War One was probably a defeat under this definition, and World War Two had only one clear winner, the Soviet Union. Whether Japan was winner or loser depends on how long a view you take. The Japanese Empire was a clear loser, but by 1960 the nation of Japan was probably better off than it had been in 1941. And so forth.
U.S. is now funding the British propaganda effort?

Looking at the original article the funding is going not for the propaganda but to develop technology that will mitigate Chinese jamming. Assuming & I admit it is an assumption, that when developed the technology will be available to both Britain and the US, this is joint research not US aid.

If anybody is looking for a candidate for US aid, not because Britain can't afford it but because our government is too Luddite to try without pushing, may I suggest this proposal put by Dr Patrick Collins to Parliament's Science and Technology Committee

"To give an example about how easy it can be to make getting into space cheaper, this is a picture of the SR53, a British supersonic rocket plane which flew in Britain 50 years ago this May. There is a British company, Bristol Spaceplanes, which has a design of a passenger space plane, drawing very much on that technology, which could make suborbital flights at a cost of £3,000 a head. There is simply no difficulty at all. The technology was already there 50 years ago, and materials and so on have advanced a great deal since then.... for a tiny investment and a modern version of this for £50 million, a one-off investment, in three years you would have a prototype which would be flying, within five years it could be certified for carrying passengers, and within 10 years it would be down to £3,000 a head. Suborbital flight is a very straight forward low cost investment"

I suspect a US government /Air Force/Bill Gates offer to put up half the money ($40 mill) would shame our government into investing the other half. If they had sense they would refuse it, spend the full lot and get all the credit.

Neil Craig

winner of WW2

I would dispute that the USSR was, by that definition, the winner of WW2 - they lost approx 24 million people, had half their country not merely occupied by flattened and at the end, while Germany was no longer in a position to threaten to exterminate them the US was, if anything more thoroughly because of the Bomb.

On the other hand if you look at GNP as a measure of success the US came out of WW2 with its GNP doubled & it being half the world's total for 250,000 casualties. That is victory on a standard with Alexander and Genghiz Khan.

I think this is something we are going to have to agree to disagree on because I tend to believe the Soviets were, mostly, more worried about defending themselves than attacking anybody else.

Neil Craig

"a lone wolf howling in despair in the intellectual wilderness of Scots politics"

They went from being just another power threatened with encirclement and in danger of overthrow to being one of two superpowers. The US came out with a world enemy and the Cold War. From Stalin's view it was a win. Khrushchev believed it when he said "We will bury you." The Cold War was long and for a while dangerous.

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