Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

March For Science, Humanity, Sawing From Saturn.

April 23, 2017

Nietzsche “made philosophy with a hammer”. Yet science was always made with a saw, literally cutting, and not just through crap:

Today is “Earth Day”, in the USA, the most significant country, at least in the sense of most polluting, per capita (except for critters such as some emirates, Canada and Australia). Self-admiring herds of hollier-than-thou posers proclaimed the “March For Science”. Those herds marching around the US, with herbivorous intelligence, claim science is in danger. I agree, there is never enough science. 

Ironically, it is the ability to make distinctions which is in primordial danger. The inability to make distinctions proliferates in the rabidly anti-Trump, and PC crowd which tends to be marching quite a bit these days, flaunting its rage, and lack of foresight. Yet the “March for Science” is not per se anti-Trump (although the censoring, manipulative and partisan New York Times claimed it was).

Political Correctness certainly rests on the false pretense of not making distinction between being right, and feeling good. PC is driven by moods, not careful, painstaking analysis, and this is fundamentally anti-science. No distinctions, no science. (But certainly plenty of racism, tribalism, nationalism, fanaticism.) As we will see.

Marching is good, science even better. Without science there is no humanity. Literally and figuratively. Science is not a choice humanity makes, but its essence..

Humanity colonized the planet, and is now colonizing the Solar System. Colonizing: that’s what humanity not just does, but is. Starting 50,000 years ago, humanity colonized Oceania. Actually all of planet Earth, and its oceans were conquered from very small human populations. (In a very complicated spatio-temporal pattern, with select interbreeding of long isolated populations.)


Forecasts are that, thanks to automation, robots, Artificial Intelligence, 60 million jobs will be lost in the USA within 20 years. The solution? More science. More scientists, and artists. More high level science and other high level creative jobs. As robots crawl all over, creative thinking will be needed more than ever. For example, the mathematician of the future will coach her office AI into producing thousands of theorems, after tweaking some axiom(s). And then she will ponder how useful, or pretty, those theorems produced by the AI, look.

Homo SAPIENS, comes from Latin sapientem (nominative sapiens), present participle of sapere “to taste, have taste, be wise”. Homo Sapiens is a creature of wealth and taste. Wealth from capital, even simple obsidian blades and fire cages. 

Very pale tiny blueish dot: Earth as seen from between Saturn Mighty Rings. Shot By Cassini, April 12, 2017

Cassini/Huygens is the NASA/ESA robot sent to the Saturn system, nearly 20 years ago. It established the nature of Titan’s atmosphere and surface, and that life could exist on Enceladus. Enceladus has plenty of water and hydrocarbon molecules. Now, after using Titan to change its orbit completely, thanks to five close encounter with the mighty satellite, from various position, Cassini has switched to a semi polar orbit which allows it to squeeze between the giant planet and her rings.  In case it would collide with a grain of sand, or ice, the nuclear-powered spacecraft is advancing antenna first, using it as a shield.

Cassini was a Savoy-Italian-French astronomer, born in Nice (where now Islamist immigrants kill people by the dozens, in the name of the “Islamist State”). Cassini was first to find the Cassini division of Saturn rings and was the first to measure (using a 220 feet high church roof to set-up a camera obscura, with agreement of clerics) the diameter of the Sun. The diameter of the Sun was found to vary on the ground of the church during the year, as predicted by Kepler’s ellipse theory of planetary orbits. Cassini helped set-up the Paris observatory, and worked as an astronomer under a Louis XIV grant, for the last 43 years of his life. His son succeeded him as astronomer and geodesist (measuring the Earth).


Why does humanity need taste? To be able to distinguish: The word “Science” appears in mid fourteenth century English meaning “what is known, knowledge (of something) acquired by study; information;” also “assurance of knowledge, certitude, certainty,” from Old French science “knowledge, learning, application; corpus of human knowledge“.

In the twelfth century, the French, having the taste for simplifying the lives of their lips, transformed the Latin scientia “knowledge, a knowing; expertness,” from sciens (genitive scientis) “intelligent, skilled,” into something easier to pronounce (most of French is simplified Latin pronunciation… and grammar).

The original Latin “scientia” is the present participle of scire “to know,” probably originally “to separate one thing from another, to distinguish,” related to scindere “to cut, divide,” from Proto Indo-European root *skei- “to cut, to split”. In French : “scier” (to saw). This is the source also of Greek skhizein “to split, rend, cleave,” Gothic skaidan, Old English sceadan “to divide, separate;” itself related to schizo…


Want to Save The Earth? Institute a Carbon Tax!

Trump came out with a pro-science and pro-Earth statements, so the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd will punch the air, once again. Right Trump at some point was one way, and at other points, the other. Trump and three of his children signed a  2009 letter to President Barack Obama calling for a global climate deal. “We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today,” That was before Trump discovered, as I did to my sorrow, that Obama’s aspiring mood seems to have bee that of one of these Kenyan boys helping the big white masters of international finance, in a typical picture of colonial Kenya.

Later the weather got cold when Trump was trying to golf, or enjoy balmy weather in Los Angeles, and he called global warming a hoax. Nobody seems to have shown him the graph of the deep ocean temperature, steadily going up.

“My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.” Trump’s statement added that environmental protection should not come at a cost to working families, and that the White House was focused on “reducing unnecessary burdens” on American workers while working to protect the environment.

Trump insisted that his administration would work to achieve the “twin goals” of environmental health and American economic growth, noting that “we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate… Today on Earth Day, we celebrate our beautiful forests, lakes and land. We stand committed to preserving the natural beauty of our nation.”

Beauty of Earth too. Earth Moon from Saturn: We Are Nothing Much! We Are Nothing Much! Hanging onto precious little! Care for our small blue home by making the Solar System into a more human park, there is lots of space!

Thus the usual sea of words from the US government, same as all the ones before. For 24 years, three US administrations, preciously nothing important has been done to reduce the CO2 crisis, at the US government level (whereas all European government, including fossil fuel wealthy Norway, put a 400% tax on fossil fuels).

So far, for the USA, it has been mostly words (the gasoline tax established by Eisenhower, as many good, effective, progressive things, was not really indexed on inflation, and has become ever more irrelevant). All most of the significant progress done in the US was from scientific and technological advances to which the government contributed only indirectly. For example the government contributed to PhotoVoltaic (PV) research. PV is changing the world: by 2020, the total Earth PV production will be at least 500 Gigawatts (500 standard nuclear reactors).

Human technology is improving ever more. The tech found in the 20-year-old  Cassini/Huyghens is already amazing. And we are much further. But weneed to accelerate, lest we perish. Here are the “Grand Finale” orbits of Cassini, after having used Titan’s attraction to get a completely different set of orbits.

Beauty of Earth too. Earth Moon from Saturn: We Are Nothing Much! We Are Nothing Much! Hanging onto precious little! Care for our small blue home by making the Solar System into a more human park, there is lots of space!

There is only one policy which can seriously help: a carbon tax. Or more exactly a GreenHouse Gas tax, a GHG tax. It does not have to be punitive, vengeful. Just compute the damage particular emissions cause to the Earth, consider those to be part of their cost, and require the perpetrator to pay for that damage they cause. Those who march together, bleating together about supporting Earth, are finding all too much comfort in their lack of data gathering, thought, and will. If they want to save earth that much, they should campaign for a GreenHouse Gas tax. A GHG tax. The more GHG is used in making a product, including produce, flowers, air travel and  ship transport, the more it should be taxed (the WTO authorizes this sort of tax, at any level… while limiting other taxes at 3%. So a 35% GHG tax is WTO, and UN legal! Installing it would dramatically favor the non-carbon energy production, from PV to electric hydrogen cargo ships pulled by sails or kites…)


Of The Ecological Hypocrisy Of The Obamas, Oprah, Springsteen, and their ilk:

Obama is great leader of the hollier-than-thou, we-don’t-need-to-think-too-hard, as long as it looks good on TV, crowd. Obama is widely and wildly admired, by the PC throngs. Although my flesh and blood friend, he was captured by the establishment, even before he became president. Much of the rage against Trump is actually subconsciously displaced from a severely suppressed, denied rage, against Obama, changing mirage! This all needs some fresh air.

Obama sold Federal coal, one of the highest quality low sulfur coal on the entire Earth, for 20% of its real environmental cost. That in turn depressed coal prices everywhere. But don’t worry: last week, the Obamas were in Tahiti, and Moorea, on a plutocrat’s 140 meter super yacht, celebrating the sucking dummies who vote “democratic”, and want to save the Earth. The Obamas were celebrating Earth Day their way, polluting massively, for all to see, with Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, David Geffen. After an incredible performance in not appearing to be what they really are, the Obamas have revealed to be some of the greatest stage artists, and deserve to share in the .001% lifestyle. 

What will Trump do about the climate disaster? We don’t know (all the noisy measures he took so far are devoid of much impact, they satisfy the deniers, but that’s it). I advise a massive carbon tax, as usual.


One has to take decisions, to make distinctions: Considering the danger of Earth’s microbes spreading to Enceladus’ water ocean, or Titan hydrocarbon atmosphere, the decision was taken to crash Cassini into Saturn, where it will burn up. (Maybe Earthly microbes will survive and thrive in Saturn clouds, oops, haha…)

Yes, there is a dark side to colonization, including space colonization, and there is a dark side even to cognition itself. But not to worry: our species is fully equipped to handle the Dark Side, with a determined smile! That’s part of our charm.

Patrice Ayme’


December 24, 2016

The notion of truth is central to the human condition. “Belief”, “Faith” claim to solve it. But there is a better way: dynamics.


Popper’s Error: Science Is Not Just About Falsification. Science Is Construction First, Falsification Later:

Abstract: ‘Falsification’ ruled 20th-century science. However, falsification was always second to construction. First construct, only then falsify. Why? As simple as it gets: One cannot falsify something that one has not constructed.

So what is truth? For a hint: look at biological evolution: in a way evolution is a truth, any species solves a number of problems it is confronted to. (It could be the Ebola virus: the virus solves the problem of its own survival.) I will show truths are also denizens of an evolutionary process. (Leaving the Bible’s Logos in the dust…)i


Detailed Examples Show That Falsification Is Always Second To Construction: the heliocentric theory jumps to mind.

Heliocentrism (Earth rotates around the Sun) was first proposed by the astronomer Aristarchus (320 BCE). At least so said Archimedes. The arguments were lost. However, Aristotelian physics was in the way. PPP Carefully Looking At The Phases Of Venus Falsified The Ptolemaic Model of the Solar System

Buridan (~ 1345 CE) demolished Aristotelian physics (no, islamophiles, Buridan was indeed first). Armed with his correct inertial theory, Buridan proposed that Earth turned around the sun. But he could not prove it. Copernicus said more of the same two centuries later: yet it could not be proven.

The philosophical argument had been known for 18 centuries: the Sun was the bigger thing, so the smaller thing, Earth, should rotate around the bigger thing. (Maybe some Ancient Greeks thought about another argument, relative to speed: if the Sun turned around, in just a day, its speed had got to be enormous; enormous speeds were unfriendly; if Earth rotated around, it needed to rotate on itself: would the clouds fly away? Aristotle’s erroneous physics said so, but Buridan explained  that Aristotle’s arrow experiment was false, by introducing rotary inertia.

Kepler came out with his laws, a stupendous achievement. Still one could not prove heliocentrism definitively. It had become the simpler description, though, by a long shot. 

Falsification Of The Egocentric Ptolemaic System Was Only Provided By The Goddess Venus

Falsification Of The Egocentric Ptolemaic System Was Only Provided By The Goddess Venus; By The Way, I Protest Against The Adjective “Copernican”. Aristarchus, and Even More, Buridan, Were The Main Architects of Building The Truth About The Heliocentric System. Buridan threw Down Aristotelian Physics, Something Even Archimedes Did Not Do (that we know of!)

[In the Ptolemaic System, Venus Was Always Between Earth And Sol, Thus, Venus Always Appeared As A Crescent. Seeing Venus fully lighted by Sol showed Ptolemaic astronomers were full of it. Now, OK, they had to wait for the progress of European optics in the middle Middle Ages… Reading glasses and all that…]

And then Galileo found that the little things, the four satellites of Jupiter, were rotating around the big thing (Jupiter). Another indice.

At this point, there were several independent lines of arguments each pointing at heliocentrism as the most economical, most likely explanation (size, speed, lesser overall rotational inertia (rotational “impetus”, to speak as Buridan did), Kepler’s Laws, Jupiter’s satellites).

It was a “beast in the forest approach”: it sounded like a lion, it smelled like a lion, it had the color of a lion, it looked as if it had the ears of a lion. So what of Popper’s “falsification” approach in this? Suppose that it did not have the color of a lion. Does that prove it’s not a lion? No. It could be bright red, because it’s covered with blood, and it’s still a lion. Or all black, because it’s in the shade, yet, still a lion.

By 1613, though, Galileo’s telescope had enough power to resolve the phases of Venus (and dare to publish the result). Only then was the heliocentric theory definitively proven, and the Ptolemaic system ruled out. If the way the phases behaved had not come out right, heliocentrism would have been wrong. PPP Venus provided with the Popper Falsification. However, even before that, all astronomers had come to the conclusion that it was certain that the Earth turned around the Sun.


Of The Bad Influence Of Popper & The Primacy Of Falsification:

Falsification is not fun and cuts down the impulse of imagination. Putting falsification from cognition first kills imagination. Imagination is more important than cognition. Imagination is the definition of the human condition.

To realize that only the phases of Venus were an incontrovertible proof, one had to have derived the heliocentric theory far enough to come to that conclusion. By the time it became clear that the Venus phases were the incontrovertible proof could be, 99% of the theory of heliocentrism was established. 

It was a question of mental chicken and egg: neither came first, the theory had to evolve. Actually, the phases of Venus can be resolved by exceptional observers with fantastic eyes, and special atmospheric conditions (the human eye can resolve a minute of arc, Venus apparent size is around two-third of that).

If one had been guided by only finding a definitive proof of heliocentrism, one would have invented no science. For example Buridan and his students invented graphs. They also demonstrated early calculus theorems, but without any of the sophisticated formalism, equation, analytic geometry, which those theorems would push to discover…

By considering that only the last step of an inquiry makes that inquiry scientific, Popper and his falsification obsession make science impossible. (Down with Popper; make no mistake, I like Popper, but then I also “like” Ivanka Trump’s mien in the coach cabin of a Jetblue sardine can, when she kept calm in the middle seat, while being “harassed” by two PC college professor idiots… They were thrown out of the plane, came to regret their actions, and then deleted their Tweeter accounts where they wrote about the deedd they planned. Both the martyrized Ivanka and one of the cruel college professors of barbarity were with small children, including two infants…)

As Buridan pointed out, one could not tell the difference, experimentally , between the heliocentrism he proposed and Scripture (so one may as well believe scripture, he added insolently). But that impossibility to falsify did not prevent him to think about it, and to think about it as a science.


Evolution theory is even more constructivist: 

The Greek philosopher Anaximander of Miletus, before the Persian fascist annihilated Miletus, proposed that people descended from fishes. Later, Aristotle, baffled by fossils, ordered his students to go out, observe and establish a registry of living forms.

By then evolution theory by mixed artificial and natural means was well-known in Greece, as related methods produced superlative cattle sold around the Mediterranean. Nobody can know how much was explicitly in writing about evolution (out of 700 Greco-Roman classics we know of, only 150 survived… through the Frankish controlled monasteries).

Evolutionary ideas were revived in the Eighteenth Century, until Lamarck proposed the theory of evolution in 1800 CE. Lamarck became quickly an object of hatred from the dictator Napoleon and the Christian Church. A bedrock of his conclusions were microscopic studies of fossils of mollusks (decades behind the microscope destroyed his eyesight). Lamarck was a research professor, not a falsification professor: he invented ideas, and even words: he used neologisms such as biology, mollusk, invertebrate, etc.

Lamarck also proposed a non-selective mechanism to explain evolution (as I said above, the Greeks were thoroughly familiar with natural and artificial selection). That obviously could not be disproven, and the mechanism was completely unfathomable. It is only now that epigenetics has been demonstrated to exist, and some mechanisms explaining it have been made explicit.

Methinks there is much more to come (because DNA is a Quantum machine in a Quantum environment, and all interactions are non-local…


Those Who Don’t Want To Build, Don’t Want to Know:

We build theories, first. Then we test them, always. First build.

Those who don’t want to build, don’t want to falsify.



To assuage and pacify the Neoplatonist leadership of the Roman empire, the evangel of John proclaims in its first few sentences that the “logos” was God, and God was the “logos”. In other words, logic, the discourse, ruled the universe.

Now the “logos” itself is its own truth: any logic defines a propositional truth from its axioms: well-formed propositions are “true” in a sense. HOWEVER, propositional truth is not ALL the truth in a logical system. That observation is the key to the problem of truth.   

Moreover, there is the problem of meta-truth. Meta-truth evolves out of truth (Godel famously proved that meta-truth existed). Logicians have been struggling with both non-propositional truth and metatruth (Godel’s proofs were proofs of existence, and did not provide with an explicit mechanism to build metatruths; later Godel and Cohen rolled out axioms which were independent of others, and thus could be considered true or not).

The preceding shows that building a scientific theory is a built-up of truth: Popper’s work was naive, removed from reality.

A scientific theory’s formation is an evolution of truth: it defines truth as it goes. Science is the best state of formal knowledge we have: thus truth is an evolution

Still, although truth evolves, that does not mean there is no absolute formal truth. There is: planes fly, don’t they? For a plane to fly one million formal truths need indeed to be true, at the same time, or the plane would crash.

Thus one can see that truth does not evolve like a species: metatruth evolves like an ecology does, generating on its way perfect species, local truths. An ecology evolves perfect species, such as sharks and oysters, which barreled, same as they always were, through massive extinction waves in the last few hundreds of millions of years. Evolution also produced species whose main business is to evolve, such as hominins (ourselves and all those cousins of us we used for dinner, in the past).

So, in the evolution of logic and metalogic, perfect truths are produced, so perfect they become part of the logos themselves (truths such as realizing that love is the engine of all things human!).

God is truth, and we make it up, as we debate reality with our imagination.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: The essay is better appreciated if one is familiar with 20th century philosophy of science (and it penetrated the exercise of science itself, especially physics). Karl Popper claimed that, if a theory is falsifiable, then it is scientific. However, if I say, tomorrow the sky is blue, that’s falsifiable, but not necessarily scientific. The Popperian criterion excludes from the domain of science not unfalsifiable statements but only whole theories that contain no falsifiable statements. That’s silly, because Popper wanted to ‘prove’ that Marxism was not scientific… Yet clearly the work of Marx contains falsifiable statements. Moreover, Pauperism leaves one with the Duhemian problem of what constitutes a ‘whole theory’ as well as the problem of what makes a proposition ‘meaningful’.

My approach above pretty much throws the whole thing through the window. Science has to do with truth, and metatruth, which have architectures of truth, just as a building or a plane have them.


The Chinese Riddle, & How To Keep It Nice

July 18, 2016

China is the other great civilizational center. The primary one being the Indo-European ensemble (which crucially incorporated Egypt, where a lot of what came to be known as Greek mathematics, was discovered).

To understand Europe, the last 500,000 years have proved necessary (Neanderthals started to burn coal, 80,000 years ago, foe example, and explored immensely deep caves, 165,000 years). In the case of China, the evolution of the last 5,000 years are crucial to understand how China became China.


China: A World Within The World, But Not Quite The Center Of Everything

China: A World Within The World, But Not Quite The Center Of Everything

China is the other great civilizational center. Much of what China uses as civilizational instruments was developed in situ, from writing, to the number system, to much philosophy. However, that philosophy was unbalanced, too much under the influence of Confucius (whose works have been under care from the same family inside the same city for 60 generations or more).

China developed an examination system which, in theory, enabled the most cognitively qualified to rule. Thus Mandarins and not aristocrats were in command. At least in theory.

This system, admirable in principle, was flawed in practice, as China got terminally invaded at least twice. The Mongol invasion came close to annihilation, when some of Genghis Khan’s generals proposed to exterminate the Chinese and change the ecology! (The generals knew they could turn much of China into a steppe similar to much of Mongolia, by cutting the forests and bringing massive herds of cattle, goats, sheep…)

The primary civilization center is the Indo-European ensemble (which crucially incorporated Egypt, where a lot of what came to be known as Greek mathematics, was discovered).

Now we have basically just one civilization, worldwide, so the misadventures of China are highly  instructive.

To understand Europe, the last 500,000 years have proved necessary (Neanderthals started to burn coal, 80,000 years ago). In the case of China, the last 5,000 years are crucial.

Now, granted all and any explanation can only be incomplete. What is important is to introduce new ideas, and that includes new hierarchy in what is more important, and what is not.

Right now, China seems severely influenced by the Germany of the Second Reich, and its incredible fast scientific, technological, mercantilist, and economic expansion… At the cost of a more general, more pacific mood. That uncanny comparison is quite a bit spooky. An evidence is the madness about the south of the South China Sea.

As in Germany, starting 165 years ago, increasing aggressiveness towards foreign powers seems to be the glue which increasingly keeps the dictatorship together. In the case of Germany, the increasing aggressiveness, which had started by attacking Denmark in 1853, went on with the catastrophic apotheosis, encouraged by the US presidency. of the savage surprise attack on the world of August 1914. Naturally enough, it was followed by the encore of Nazism. Yes, it’s not a reassuring comparison. But the same psychohistorical forces are in play. Psychohistory rules national moods and the actions they lead to (Isaac Asimov wrote a book on this; the real, live, historical case was the second foundation of the Roman Empire, the “Renovation of the Roman Empire made official by Roman emperor Charlemagne…). 

On the reassuring side, China adopted, and accepted to be guided, by a huge chunk of Western philosophy, a Franco-German contraption sensitive to the nastiness of great capital. That was a huge philosophical revolution, but it was made possible only by a great openness of mind (in part learned in Paris by the top leader of Communist China, such as Chou En Lai and Deng Tsiao Ping)

China used to rile against capital. Yet, who has the most capital under command in the world, after the USA? China.

Nevertheless, to accept a distant philosophy, extremely alien to China, China had to open its collective mind and eyes gigantically. And intelligence itself is something one can learn to acquire.

The kindest attitude with China right now may well be to show to it that its aggressiveness in the south of the South China sea can only lead to war, even a world war. And that China cannot win it. Australia has started to do just that by acquiring, with US help, a fleet of the best submarines in the world, made in France. (In World War Two, after the Americans learned to make torpedoes which actually exploded, their submarines were one of the main factors in closing the Pacific to the fascist Japanese military.)

The Han are dominating the Middle Kingdom as never before. One hundred nations are now submitted to them. Their languages are even disappearing. (My own daughter is learning Mandarin, BTW.) That’s all very good for the Han. They are now very much richer than before, not just from their considerable industry and genius, and change of philosophy, adopting instead European philosophy. Those increased riches also come from occupying Tibet and Xinjiang.

The Han should not push their luck with aggressive military and imperialistic distractions. Adopting just a piece of European philosophy and history, while ignoring the rest, plenty of Dark Side in full evidence and how to control it, can only lead to an unbalanced mind. And, from there, dangerous, irreversible courses of action… Of the sort Europe is all too familiar with.    

Patrice Ayme’


Science: Discovery Or Construction? Discovery Of Construction!

April 13, 2016

In his book “To Explain The World: The Discovery Of Modern Science”, Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg asserts that modern science was DISCOVERED. Modern science was out there, under a bush, and a couple of physicists Weinberg esteem (Galileo, Newton), lifted the bush, and uncovered “modern science”.

This may not look like it, but that subtitle itself, that science was discovered, is a speculation on what reality is. In other words, it is a piece of bold philosophy… which, thanks to modern scientific advances in biology, can be philosophically shown to be, most probably, erroneous.

Indeed: is not the mind constructed? Modern experiments in neurobiology have shown this.

The Eye Is Only All-Seeing Because It Is Full Of Ideas And Theories About What It Sees

The Eye Is Only All-Seeing Because It Is Full Of Ideas And Theories About What It Sees

A kitten shown only a very distorted version of the world does not learn to see correctly.

(In an interesting case of cecity, Weinberg disparages the inventor of analytic geometry, Descartes, who made modern mathematics possible, including infinitesimal calculus, and Newton’s little activities: no Descartes, no Newton. However, once Descartes had invented analytic geometry, and another Frenchman deduced the correct universal attraction law, the work made by Newton was a matter of at most a couple of decades, since Kepler’s laws were already known. Kepler erroneously thought the attraction was 1/distance, when it’s actually 1/square of distance…)

Weinberg tried to clarify the subtitle of his book (‘the discovery of modern science’): science was not just ‘constructed’ but actually ‘discovered’. In truth, one should be careful. Take agriculture. Was it discovered, or invented? Both. Most agricultural products were not just discovered, but also literally engineered, through domestication. (A process which is still poorly understood: how can one get from a wild tree which could poison a human to death by eating twenty nuts, to a nutritious modern almond tree? Is not that an achievement more awesome than Newton’s? And the fact is, millions, nowadays, know how Newton did it, but none how Neolithic farmers made what was deadly, edible.)

Our apparent discoveries modify our brains, so, in a sense, they are constructions. Neurological constructions.

Now let’s ponder this: when something which has been constructed “discovers” something else, has that something else been uncovered, or constructed?

Are then what we think of the things of our world and the architecture our minds are made of, discovered or constructed?

No doubt, some will say, a bridge is constructed. Clearly so, when it is made by hand (as even Heidegger will understand). But, animating these hands are minds. Not just the ones of the builders, but the minds of those who made the minds of the builders. Because cultures, transmitted by languages, make minds.

Furthermore, what is the difference between a bridge made of stones, and a bridge between two neurons, or two systems of neurons? Philosophically speaking, not much.

The point is that we feel, or think we observed,  that things of the world are some way, and from that, we build bridges between neurons, or systems thereof.

Appearances are not just deceiving. Appearances we perceive lead to constructions of, and in, our minds. Shallow makes deep.

The process cannot be any different with “science”. From appearances, that we call “experiences”, we build explanations, connections between neurons, or systems thereof. So what did we truly discover, when we made a scientific discovery?

What we discovered is that we can build a mind in ways not suspected before. And that, somehow, it fits the real world better, meaning we can increase our powers on matter. This is all what modern science is. The same old same old which has made us evolve ever closer to the gods we are becoming at an accelerating pace. For better or worse.

Patrice Ayme

Tribal Preferences Everywhere

December 18, 2015

Even In Science, Tribal Effects Dominate:

Human beings are tribal animals. A tribe is a small group of individuals, helping each other, cemented by deep emotions. Don’t say it’s over. A recent study demonstrates what some have guessed all along, namely that it flourished in science.

Max Planck — the Nobel Prize–winning physicist who launched quantum theory by discovering that energy radiation was quantized  — once made the cynical observation that science progressed “one funeral at a time”. Said he:

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

(When Hitler started to devastate Germany, Planck visited the madman, and told that imbecile that his institute and university had been destroyed by Hitler’s racial policies. Hitler later had Planck’s son killed.)

Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) released a working paper — titled, “Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?” Yes it does:

Even In Science Baboons Follow The Leader Profitably

Even In Science Baboons Follow The Leader Profitably

Mining citations in the PubMed database, the researchers found evidence that when a prominent researcher suddenly dies in an academic subfield, a blooming of new ideas and innovation follow. They identified 12,935 “elite” scientists — based on the amount of funding they received, how many times they’ve published, how many patents they invented, or whether they were members of elite groups, such as the National Academies of Sciences or the Institute of Medicine. They found 452 of these elite researchers died before retirement. As science leaves a dense trail of citations, publish dates, and authors’ hierarchies, it’s possible to track changes in publishing patterns after the permanent eclipse of a prominent star.

After the death of a rock-star scientist, their frequent collaborators and tag-alongs — the junior researchers who authored papers with them, often enslaved to them — suddenly see a drop in publications. At the same time, there is a marked increase in published work by other newcomers to the field.

Verily, a PhD is mostly a tribal rite. (Warning: Elites will scream!)


So Why Should Nations, Those Super-Tribes Of Europe, Vanish Under A Flood Of Invaders?

Plutocrats all over loudly clamoring that Syrian refugees should get preference over Natives so destitutes, they can’t even reproduce: contemplate Germany, with the world’s worst reproduction rate, and now one million mostly Muslim refugees admitted in eleven months (the European Union accepted hundreds of thousands more, including three whose calling was to kill as many people in Paris as they could).

It seems only natural that Natives would get preferential treatment above Non-Natives.

Some claim that open borders, the open society, welcoming invaders, is so superior in all ways, that it should be embraced at all costs. The argument was rolled out first by Pericles. However, within 30 years, half of the Athenian population was dead, the city occupied, and only Sparta saved Athens for eradication.

Opening up a country to the max works, as a complement. But, throughout the West, we observe decay, to the point the Natives cannot afford to reproduce. Instead, it is proposed to generously import millions of Middle Easterners… Many armed with a version of a religion which hates the West (9/11, the Paris and San Bernardino massacres were fully, or partly organized by such imports).

Who wins from importing invaders and weakening the Natives? International plutocracy, as above local laws as it is above decency, and the nations it crushes. Unsurprisingly, the same international plutocracy owns the Main Stream Media of the West. A tycoon such as Murdoch could move from Australia, colonize Britain, and then take over the USA (where he owns plenty, including Fox News and the WSJ…) And then the MSM tells the little people, and persuade them that, the worse their condition gets, the better, as long as they are generous to strangers from far-away lands (such as the aforesaid plutocrats).

The more the fate of the Natives of the West looks ominous, the more they will revolt against their oppressors. Hopefully.

And those oppressors are those who have molded minds in the West. Thus the minds of the people have to fight themselves.

This is why a site about cuddly kittens will get thousands of “likes” a day, and an enormous readership, whereas a serious site such as this one has generally to make do with none. Let the force be with you, and direct it first towards those poisonous moods and thoughts which have brought your stealthy demise.

Well, it could be worse: you could believe, as the Pope’s government does, that Mother Teresa cured cancer, because someone’s cancer supposedly went away after touching a medal of Teresa. (After that, you may want to chop off head of Shiites, should you be a Saudi prince! Because if one miracle can happen, so could any.)

Teresa was somebody who accused tens of millions of women to be murderesses, among other exploits:

Christian Morality: Cruel & Demented Sado-Masochism, All Too Often

Christian Morality: Cruel & Demented Sado-Masochism, All Too Often

Following the leader materially helps, but can be entirely nefarious, morally speaking. By condoning the Catholic Church often monstrous morality, and the exploitation of women, the Catholic church has found another diabolical leader to make a saint of.

Mother Teresa was mostly a self-interested ambition sucker, anxious to make Pope John-Paul II feel good about himself (she was hanging around the Pope’s ear in the Vatican, a plushy place if there is any!). But she is a saint says the same tribal organization which promptly made “Saint” Louis (IX), who wrote that nothing would please him more than torturing to death “unbelievers” and Jews.

What’s the main reason for tribes? Death. Giving death, avoiding death. Just study Saint Louis. Just study Teresa, and her pain and death obsessions. And tribal effect can cause death to new ideas, not just people, all over, not just science.

Plutocracy is its own tribe, and its survival depends upon free markets, open borders, tini tiny local laws which big plutocrats can fly over, and the general world order the 99% suffer from in the West.

Planck and the economic researchers we quoted above push us towards the following conclusion. You want innovation, and a blooming of art, thought, ideas, and justice, and a young world? Please help visit upon plutocracy an early demise!

Patrice Ayme’

Solar Roads

October 15, 2015

Solar Roads Versus Objection Mars:

Long ago, when the sun had not set yet on the will of the West to progress, a poet was visiting my home. He read some of his poetry. Humanity had just reached the Moon. The poet loftily declared that we did not need the Moon, we needed to fight hunger.

Later, the malaria parasite mutated, becoming resistant to standard treatment. Now it kills more than 1.2 million people a year. A typical objection to colonizing the Solar System is this:

“as I see it – Scott’s movie (even if I’m a sci-fi fan and I love some movies of him as well: Blade Runner is definitely a masterpiece) is a mere conservative propaganda aiming for people to agree that these extremely expensive missions to Mars are more important than saving African children from ebola, helping Syrian refugees, letting Europe be democratic yet or supporting laws against free guns in the US … Save the “american” astronaut, guys!” The answer is crushing, it holds in one picture:

French Truck On Solar Photo-Voltaic Road: the Future Has Arrived

French Truck On Solar Photo-Voltaic Road: the Future Has Arrived

There is nothing “conservative” about missions to Mars. Quite the opposite: such missions are fully progressive. They force humanity to progress.

Disease in Africa has to do with lack of governance. Lack of hospital has to do with lack of governance. In the Ebola epidemic, the countries that were struck were struck from lack of organized health care.

Senegal got one, just one, imported Ebola case. The patient got cured, and that was it. Even Mali, with better governance, in spite of a Jihadist invasion, was able to contain a few imported cases. Meanwhile, several countries next door, which are intrinsically much richer (Sierra Leone, Guinea. Liberia) saw thousands of deaths, and containment came from the efforts of NGOs, France and the USA (mostly).

When France pulled out of Africa, some particularly smart critic told a senior French government minister that the argument of “freeing” Africa from alleged colonialism made no humanitarian sense: there was no “colonialism” to speak of, and who was going to pay for one hospital every 100 kilometers in the world’s second largest continent? The minister smiled, and said: “this is precisely the point, we will not incur that expense anymore.”

Two capabilities save children in general: a) good governance. b) science.

When considering a Mars mission in this connection, one has to answer if the Mars mission will improve governance and science. Governance itself is a science. A mission to Mars is “expensive”. How much? 100 million dollars? 200 millions? How much would a Mars colonization program cost to launch? Two trillion dollars?

According to the International Monetary Fund, subsidies for fossil fuels are more than 5.5 trillion dollars a year. Enough to set-up a village on Mars, with existing technology.

Now going to Mars would force drastic progress in, say, fuel cells. The technology of fuel cells was invented for the Moon mission. After Obama became president, the research funding on this field was yanked out (probably to send money to businessmen such as Elon Musk).

Mars colonization would force enormously innovative research in energy technology, for example fuel cells, and nuclear energy (both fission and fusion).

Nothing else will.

Syrian refugees? Mars will not save Syrians? Nothing is more removed from the truth. Mars, the god of war, is what is needed in Syria, fighting for Goodness, instead of having Mars fight in the name of the devil Assad, as was mostly done so far.

The 300,000 dead in Syria, the eleven million refugees, have been caused by the rule of a single, cornered man, Assad, son of Assad, and the clique surrounding him. To solve the Syrian refugees crisis, Assad’s rule ought to be terminated, so that he could be replaced by generals open to enough democracy to keep Syrians in Syria.

Unfortunately the Franco-American decapitation strike against Assad was called off by Obama, for reasons so far unexplained. So the massacre keeps on going, with forces under the orders of Assad killing at least ten times as much what the Islamist State kills.

Fossil fuels consumption, should it go on for a few more decades, will bring the global temperature up five degrees Celsius, and massacre the biosphere. It has to stop, but can be stopped only with plentiful, cheap, new energy sources.

That, or massive war (killing billions).

How? Science to the rescue. Without evoking the spectrum of nuclear energy (fission and fusion), Solar Photo-Voltaic (SPV) is here. Normal solar panels were developed for space missions. Without space colonization, they would not have been developed. Yet, solar panels are fragile. Or, more exactly, were fragile until now.

A giant French construction company (Bouygues) deposed patents to cover-up solar cells with various materials to make them tough. Glass can be made as hard as steel. Then Bouygues engineers drove more than a million vehicles above the toughened-up panels in a few test cities (Chambery, Grenoble). Now the first solar road is under construction. Four meters of said road can satisfy a house’s needs. 100 square meters (twenty meters of the linear road depicted) are enough to drive 100,000 kilometers with an electric vehicle. If 25% of French roads were covered, 100% of French electric needs would be covered.

The future, the good future, is here: it’s enough to let science roll. But science needs challenges. Such as Mars colonization. If (very serious) scientists and mathematicians need bananas, such as the Fields Medal and the Nobel Prize, certainly humanity needs bigger motivation, and bigger prizes than that!

You want morality? More morality? Then you need a bigger science. And the way to get a better science is by setting higher objectives, greater passions, more exacting thoughts. Progress, the Will to Progress, is a mood. It cannot be confined to moral progress, because the universe juggles with evil. Moral progress means technological progress.  Mars colonization is no moral objection. Objective Mars is a moral imperative.

Patrice Ayme’

Science, Mars, Or Moral Bust

October 14, 2015

In the first democratic debate, Hillary Clinton said she was “a progressive who likes to get things done.” Let’s hope they will be less plutocratic than the “things” done by her husband. Meanwhile the question came up from others that going to Mars, or similar colossal techno-scientific progress had no humanitarian value. Before a more organized rebuttal, here goes my poetical opinion:


Science, Mars, Or Moral Bust

Many are the passions

Many are the tragedies

Against tragedies goodness,

All too often contend in vain.

Lest emotions move men and fate

Out of complacency, indifference,

Careers, self-admiring seriousness,

And obey the call of love for mind, sentience..

Yet, even when passions move us,

Towards the noblest goals, with the best intentions

All too often we find there is nothing

We can do at all, against pain and suffering:

When our magic, our science, come short..

To feel right and think right,

Does not mean we can do right.

For enabling goodness we need the powers,

The very powers which feed from,

By, and with, the Dark Side.

Power itself is dark.

Yet noble, and fundamentally us.

So yes, by any means,

Go to Mars.

It will nurture new emotions,

Wealth of transcendent emotions,

Not just lofty and intricate thoughts,

Humanity define.

We have always gone to Mars,

Ever since we left leafy trees.

We will stop,

Only when our fundamental lust,

What defines us,


Dies with us.


Non-Linear Cold Blob Rising Over North Atlantic

October 9, 2015

The reason life survived on Earth for so long, and blossomed into animals, and now mind, is that the planet is equipped with homeostatic mechanisms (homeo means similar in Greek, and stasis, standing still). However, those mechanisms tend to be geological.

Human civilization is now having an impact on the biosphere of a violence probably never seen before. The changes are faster than what geology, or even life, can accommodate.

Some will brandish the impact of the Yucatan asteroid, and claim that was worse; however that’s just a theory: the biosphere was clearly under stress at the time from the Deccan Traps eruptions, and had been under that stress for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions. At its worst, the Asteroid was just the straw which broke the Camel’s back.

2015 will be the warmest year since the end of the Eemian, 115,000 years ago. So why are record low temperatures appearing just south of Iceland? Yes, record lows, lower than ever recorded.

While The Rest Of Planet Is At Record Warmth, Off Iceland, Record Colds Are Achieved!

While The Rest Of Planet Is At Record Warmth, Off Iceland, Record Colds Are Achieved!

That was fully expected, and a demonstration of Non-Linearity of the incipient global warming. A phenomenon is linear when it looks like a line. Global warming is not going up like a line, as some places are warming at a rate ten times higher than the average, and some regions are cooling (and some are cooling spectacularly, off Iceland and some seas around Antarctica, for reasons related to warming).

The Dryas events were extremely fast and pronounced cooling events which happened several times during the period 10,000 years to 15,000 Before Present. Some lasted around a millennium, others, just a century. They vanished as fast as they came. They are named after a tundra flower, the Dryas. In Scandinavia forests were replaced by tundra graced with Dryas (hence the name). In Britain, average temperature collapsed to minus 5 degree Celsius, and glaciers formed at elevation.

These spastic events of drastic cooling, while, overall, de-glaciation was going on, long remained a mystery. Overall, the great glaciation which had brought glaciers down to New York, was on its way out, the planet was globally, irresistibly warming. So why would temperatures collapse in some places around Greenland by 15 degrees Celsius? The solution to the Dryas events’ spastic glaciation riddle? The same as always! Warming is non-linear.

What’s the theory? The details are uncertain, but we know that the Gulf Stream (aka the North Atlantic “Conveyor”) shorted, literally: analyses of deep sea sediments have shown this. The conveyor sends an enormous current of warm tropical waters northward.

When the warm tropical waters become very cold between Iceland and Spitzbergen, they sink to the bottom of the sea, and head south. This sinking, plus the pushing by trade winds in the tropics, is what provides the energy of the Gulf Stream.

However, if the warm tropical waters are capped by a very cold, but light sweet(er) water lid, they will get cold early, and sink before Iceland. This is what happened in the Dryas events.

 And It Is Happening Again, Albeit On A Smaller Scale

And It Is Happening Again, Albeit On A Smaller Scale

Was it in response to a sudden influx of fresh water from Lake Agassiz and deglaciation in North America, and Greenland? Sudden freezing there would have removed the freshwater lid, hence the brutal switchback to warming after the brutal cooling. By the way, the sea level rising speed responded quickly, by a factor of three. After the typical Dryas cooling, oceanic rise rebounded to 18 millimeter per year right away (this shows that those who expect a slow rise of sea level rise are deluding themselves, or, more to the point, are trying to delude us!)

Nowadays a Dryas-like mechanism would have to rest on the melting of Greenland alone (that’s the only place with significant ice). This is, of course, insufficient, but summer 2015, cool and rainy over the northern North Atlantic is evidence that the effect is on. Scientific analysis confirms it. See: “Exceptional Twentieth Century Slow Down of Atlantic Ocean Overturning Circulation” (Nature, 23 March, 2015).

The exact nature of what is going on at this point is a matter of debate among experts. What is sure is that something is going on.

The Atlantic Conveyor Is A Subtle Thing, Yet Dominates Glaciation In The Arctic

The Atlantic Conveyor Is A Subtle Thing, Yet Dominates Glaciation In The Arctic

A similar situation beckons in Antarctica, where ice shield melting creates a freshwater lid all around which in turn freeze, extending the ice cap in the Austral winter.

When considering nonlinearity, subtlety and surprises are of the essence. This is true in physics, as it is in psychology, history, or politics.

And the morality in all this? The USA has played god. The European Union made a honest to goodness effort to reduce CO2 emission, while the USA, paying lip service to the opposite of what it was doing went right ahead, with its factory, the Plutocratic Republic of China, to use and abuse fossil fuels as never before.

So now what? Is god still American, as usual? At first it seems so: the USA started to frack massively and massive amounts of fossil fuels were extracted from the USA’s generous soil. When American companies tried the same in Poland, it failed: the underground god (Pluto?) did not cooperate: Polish soil is adverse to fracking.

Here comes the punchline: sea level has been rising fast along the Eastern seashore of the USA.  Actually, three to four times faster than the world average. That’s more than one centimeter per year.

Why? Imagine a traffic jam. Or rather a crash ahead: things come to a halt, cars, water piles up behind. Maybe the Washington politicians will soon have to learn to swim, and not just against the tide of world public opinion.

The USA is going to be punished with its own instruments. Meanwhile 20 countries formed the V20, a group of twenty countries whose existence is immediately threatened by global warming, although they caused it not.

A Two Degree Celsius rise of temperature is indeed way too much: nonlinearity is upon us. Evil is always nonlinear.

Patrice Ayme’

The Folly Of Big Science Prizes

October 6, 2015

The New York Times published an article with that idea, a recurring theme on this site. It had very interesting content, adding to my general position, which the Times had the unusual kindness to publish. Here it is:

Why science prizes? To create celebrities in science, and thus, to make science famous, some point out.

But surely the reason for science ought not to be fame, but the search for truth? Therein the problem: using the celebrity principle, that fame matters most, one overwhelms the very reason for science, which is that truth matters most.

Prizes in science teach the identification of fame with truth.

We Are Far From Understanding Sun’s Thermonuclear Physics. Coronal Mass Ejection, Aug. 31, 2012. Such a CME Would Wreck Civilization, If Pointed At Earth

We Are Far From Understanding Sun’s Thermonuclear Physics. Coronal Mass Ejection, Aug. 31, 2012. Such a CME Would Wreck Civilization, If Pointed At Earth

Civilization depends upon truth, thus science. The confusion between fame and truth brought the near-collapse of civilization before.

Aristotle (320 BCE) taught physics which was obviously false (Aristotle taught that a force had to be continually applied for continuous motion; Buridan overturned this in 1320 CE). I have argued that the very fact that Aristotle’s physics was obviously false taught the suspension of common sense (and that was exactly what the powers that be wanted!)

However, because Aristotle was immensely famous, his false physics was viewed as the obvious truth. In turn, because Aristotle’s physics was so stupendous, Aristotle’s erroneous ideas in politics (that monarchy, thus dictatorship, was the best political system) were viewed as obviously true, too. In turn, these false ideas were used to demolish the idea of the Republic for more than two millennia.

Hence we can see who confusing fame with science advantages: those who view fame as the end all, be all. Naturally enough, celebrities set-up prizes to celebrate celebrity. In turn, such people are the best and most obsequious servants to the established order. And this is exactly why, throughout history, some of the worst tyrants have heaped praise on the few (and especially those they made famous).

There are more huge prizes in science nowadays, because some of the most influential people in the world today have a very dark, sinister and troubling relationship with science.

In turn a reader, “RamS”, had the kindness to offer the following compliment: “This is the best comment, and this is the real issue the author is worried about. It is not the prize but the fame that comes with…”

Here is how The Folly of Big Science Awards, by VINAY PRASADOCT started:

“On Monday, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine will go to a few scientists for work that untangles the intricacies of the human body and may advance treatments for cancer, heart disease or other major illnesses. The prize comes with a sizable check and virtually ensures that the winners’ research will be well funded for the rest of their careers.

Every recent recipient has undoubtedly deserved the honor. But that doesn’t mean that prizes for medical research are a good idea.

The Nobel, along with the Dickson, Lasker-DeBakey, Canada Gairdner and other major awards, honors the scientists who are usually in the least need of recognition and funding, which squeezes out opportunities for other scientists.

More important, by emphasizing the importance of scientific breakthroughs — serendipitous occurrences that rely on decades of research — these prizes play down, and diminish, the way that great medical advances build on one another.

All scholarship is, to some extent, built on prior work — but this is especially true in scientific research.”

This is exactly why I have fought the hyper celebrity status of Copernicus and Newton. Copernicus’ work, viewed on a historical scale, is little more than plagiarism from Buridan (who was madatorily taught at the university where Copernicus was an undergraduate). Similarly, although Newton was giant, he invented neither his so-called first nor second law (that was Buridan again), nor the universal attraction law (as he himself insisted he did not).

Mis-attributing discoveries is not just a question of justice. It is a question of falsifying the causality chain of evidence, and the very way the human mind works. Thus it undermines science, by giving the impression “excellence” is just a matter of the solitary genius. In truth, “excellence” is a matter of civilization.

Actually Ms. Tu, who just got the Nobel in Medicine, pointed this out. By reading a two thousand year old treaty, she had realized that her method of preparation — boiling the wormwood — damaged the active ingredient. She then prepared it using an ether-based solvent, which boils at 35 degrees Celsius. When tested on mice and monkeys, it proved 100 percent effective.

Dr. Tu, with two colleagues, were the first human subjects. Suffering no ill effects, she conducted clinical trials with patients.

“We had just cured drug-resistant malaria,” Dr. Tu told New Scientist in an interview in 2011,“we were very excited.”

In spite of her very important success, Dr. Tu was later shunned by the Chinese scientific establishment, for her lack of a PhD. The “PhD” is a stamp certifying one belongs to a tribe.

However, researchers who are truly extremely original tend to not have a network, or less of a network (“scientists” and “thinkers” always exist; simply, in some periods of history, lasting centuries or more, they can all be wrong, in no small part from pleasing the oligarchies above… When the oligarchies themselves do not think that they think enough for all of society… As seems to be happening in the West presently, from lack of a dissenting intellectual class!)

Prasad gives a detailed example of how celebritism masks the thinking process:

“Consider James P. Allison, the winner of this year’s Lasker-DeBakey prize in clinical medical research. His work helped clarify one way cancer cells hide from the immune system.

Around 1990, a team of scientists found a protein on the surface of immune cells and proposed that it stimulated the immune system. Dr. Allison’s lab and a third group suggested that the protein put the brakes on immune responses. A fourth group confirmed that it halted the immune system, rather than stimulating it. Dr. Allison later showed that blocking this protein with an antibody could unleash an immune response in animals that could lead not only to rejection of but also immunity to many kinds of cancers. A decade later, similar antibodies to this protein and other related ones were found to prevail against several types of human cancers.

Dr. Allison’s work is surely impressive. But it occurred alongside and in dialogue with a number of related findings. Researchers analyzed the citations that led to Dr. Allison’s drug and concluded that it relied on work conducted by 7,000 scientists at 5,700 institutions over a hundred-year period. Yet only he was recognized.”

People are social primates, they are ambitious. The most meditative and contemplative ones tend to produce the breakthroughs, those who are more ambitious tend to exploit them.

Prasad: “The prize industry contributes to a deeper problem in scientific research: We throw resources at a privileged few who have already achieved enormous fame.

…80 percent of research funds in basic medical sciences are concentrated among the top fifth of researchers… We especially need to dispel this myth now because the scientific community is in the midst of a replication crisis. Nearly all published medical papers report significant or positive results, but many efforts to duplicate the findings failed… The regular occurrence of false leads also hints at the enormous role serendipity plays in discoveries, which some Nobel Prize winners have acknowledged in their acceptance speeches. In one study of 101 basic science discoveries published in top journals that claimed a drug had promise, just five led to approved drugs.

… science is hard. It’s like exploring an unknown land; we’ll never know whether over the next hill lies an expansive vista or just another hill. A finding that seems mundane or trivial may become immensely important years later… Or we could break up big prizes and give out many smaller awards. This may be more effective in supporting science, a view shared by Terence Tao, a mathematician who won $3 million from the inaugural Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics but tried to talk the man who gave it to him into spreading it around to more people. Alternately, instead of giving out big science awards, let’s use the prize money to study better ways to fund science.”

I have excoriated the Breakthrough Prize (although Tao himself is a great mathematician competing with computers… Some of the “discoveries” that prize celebrated are probably… errors).

Prize money is not about science. It’s about celebrating the oligarchic principle. If we want a great scientific society, we need a great scientific mood, all over the land. And that means, first of all, no BS.

Today the physics Nobel was given for the oscillation of neutrinos. For the reason that authorities (of physics) had proclaimed neutrinos had no mass (that augmented the authorities of the authorities, as they were talking as if they were gods), it had been decided neutrinos could not oscillate (until major discrepancies were found in the Sun’s output).

Can we colonize Mars? Interestingly, there is a connection with a refined knowledge of neutrino physics. At least, so I think.

We do not just like science, because our species evolved into truth machines. Truth has always been necessary to, although not sufficient for, survival. With existing technology, and the eight billion humans we enjoy, we can neither quite colonize Mars, nor survive on Earth (except as a much more reduced population).

Science is not a call, it’s a life raft. The one and only. And thus less folly in its financing is not just a question of reason, but of morality. Pure and simple.

Patrice Ayme’

Science Too Mighty For Its Own Good?

June 16, 2015

The science section of the NYT has its cover article lauding a full professor at Harvard for spending her time demonstrating that the fossil fuel industry has influenced prestigious scientists who have “become merchants of doubt”. In other words, paid liars.

That the fossil fuel industry tells Americans how to think is an obvious, and therefore uninteresting, fact. The USA is completely in the grip of plutocracy, which spent handsomely to influence minds (although even Exxon admits human guilt on climate change). Saint Bill Gates can invest in the dirtiest things, including $1.4 billion in fossil fuels, and it does not make a dent in the reverence Bill gates’ gets. Worrying about Gates of hell does not put bacon on the table, indeed.

Shale Fracking Revolution: Sky The Limit, Watch Those Poles Melt

Shale Fracking Revolution: Sky The Limit, Watch Those Poles Melt

[This graph is pretty, but a bit old: 2006. If anything, thanks to the USA’s Shale Revolution, the production of fossil fuels has augmented, although the USA is now lowering its CO2, thanks to… CH4… from fracking. The graph above ought to be interpreted RELATIVELY: the true CO2 emissions according to Wikipedia are four times greater (34 Gt), and according to me, even the CO2 EQUIVALENT TOTAL is six times greater, up to 50 Gigatons per year.]

However the fossil fuel industry in Europe has admitted that fossil fuels are slowly cooking the biosphere. Some of these European companies which admits human guilt about fossil fuel are major investors in carbon free energy generation. France is scrambling to finish by September the world’s largest Solar PhotoVoltaic plant. Machines install 7,000 panels, each day. In the end the plant will have one million panels, on 250 hectares, and produce 300 Megawatts (a third of a big nuclear reactor). The real cost is as cheap as the (subsidized) fossil fuel industry.

On the way to a nuclear future, Solar PhotoVoltaic happened…Polls show 69% of Americans are worried about climate change, a rise. Maybe people are more anxious doing away with the threat of climate change, now that a clean, cheap solution is at hand. Thus they allow themselves to get more worried about it.

The same Science section has an article on scientific fraud: it’s on the rise. Or, at least observation of it as on the rise. Science, Now Under Scrutiny Itself:

“The crimes and misdemeanors of science used to be handled mostly in-house, with a private word at the faculty club, barbed questions at a conference, maybe a quiet dismissal. On the rare occasion when a journal publicly retracted a study, it typically did so in a cryptic footnote. Few were the wiser; many retracted studies have been cited as legitimate evidence by others years after the fact…”

So scientific fraud, as I have long said, is a problem with science itself. That Copernic, rather than Buridan, is attributed the heliocentric revolution, is a problem with how we think that the mind works. Buridan’s main insight, impetus, was attributed to Newton, thus messing up what is the proper epistemology.

“…an increase in retractions that has alarmed many journal editors and authors. Scientists in fields as diverse as neurobiology, anesthesia and economics are debating how to reduce misconduct, without creating a police-state mentality that undermines creativity and collaboration.

“It’s an extraordinary time,” said Brian Nosek, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, and a founder of the Center for Open Science, which provides a free service through which labs can share data and protocols. “We are now seeing a number of efforts to push for data repositories to facilitate direct replications of findings.”

But that push is not universally welcomed. Some senior scientists have argued that replication often wastes resources. “Isn’t reproducibility the bedrock of science? Yes, up to a point,” the cancer biologist Mina Bissell wrote in a widely circulated blog post. “But it is sometimes much easier not to replicate than to replicate studies,” especially when the group trying to replicate does not have the specialized knowledge or skill to do so.”

Indeed. It’s the difference between correcting an already written text, and starting from scratch.

What we believe to be really true, and demonstrably so, is science. However that’s now very important, so important that it gets polluted by politics, big time. And it did not start yesterday. As the “New Horizon” probe is approaching Pluto, it does this thank to… Plutonium, naturally enough. However, space exploration is stalling in part because such Plutonium generators are not made anymore (the last one was used by the Franco-American Curiosity rover). Just because of Plutonium-phobia (not to be confused by highly desirable plutophobia).

Meanwhile, probably what is the USA’s most prominent characteristic that made it the world’s richest nation is again revealed: the USA is (again!) the world’s greatest oil producer, surpassing both Russia and Saudi Arabia. The graph is striking: the old oil production peaked at 9.1 million barrels a day, and now it has barreled through the old record, to average 11 million barrels a day in 2015. Is Pluto generous with its servants?

Patrice Ayme’