måndagen den 31:e augusti 2009

Illusions of Theories of Everything

The ultimate dream of theoretical physicists is a Grand Unified Theory GUT or a Theory Of Everything TOE  as a mathematical equation in the form of a system of partial differential equations, the solutions of which would represent all there is in the World. We find this dream partially realized in specific areas of mechanics and physics identified by a specific system of partial differential equations, such as 
  • fluid mechanics: Navier-Stokes equations 
  • quantum mechanics: Schrödinger's equation
  • celestial mechanics: Newton's equations of motion/gravitation.
One can argue that in a certain sense all of celestial mechanics including the motion of the planets, comets, asteroids et cet in our Solar system, is represented as solutions to Newton's equations of motion/gravitation, that all of quantum mechanics is represented as solutions of Schrödinger's equation, and that all of fluid mechanics is represented as solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations. 

We can thus view Newton's equations, Navier-Stokes equations and Schrödinger's equation as different forms of TOE with Everything representing the totality of a certain part of the World, like a continent of the Earth. 

Newton seemed to be able to describe all of celestial mechanics by his equations of motion and gravitation in his TOE,  which made Newton immensly famous attributed with godlike power. 

Similarly one can argue that all of fluid mechanics can be described by the Navier-Stokes equations, and all of quantum mechanics by Schrödinger's equation as different forms of TOE. 

This can give a physicist in control of a TOE the illusion of superhuman power, but there is a hook: Even if the equations can be written down in a couple of lines, like the Navier-Stokes equations, they can be impossible to solve by analytical mathematics representing solutions in terms of elementary functions such as polynomials and trigonometric functions: Analytical solutions of Newton's equations are known only for the two-body problem of one small body like the Earth orbiting a big body like the Sun. Already three bodies is beyond analytical representation, not to speak of the turbulent solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations. 

If we stop here, a TOE in the form of Navier-Stokes equations instead of a theory of everything, would seem to be rather a theory of nothing. This would be like a jeweler with diamonds still to be captured from the rock. Is a  jeweler without jewels, still a jeweler?

However, one can compute digital solutions of the Navier-Stokes equations using computers, for specific choices of data, and in this way gain insight case by case using a Computational Theory of Everything. Some diamonds thus can be brought to the surface and put into rings to be admired. But we cannot get full insight in one shot. We cannot capture all diamonds in one day in a true TOE.

One can argue that specific knowledge of e.g. fluid mechanics comes form specific computational solutions to the Navier-Stokes equations for specific data, and fluid mechanics is the totality of such specific knowledge. I give examples in my knols on fluid mechanics. See also

So even if a GUT or TOE unifying quantum mechanics and gravitation in the form of one set of equations, e.g. in the form of string theory, the main task of computing and studying specific solutions would remain.

We can make a parallel with Darwin's theory of evolution based on an equation expressing genetic variability + selection by survival of the fittest. Anybody can formulate this equation and the non-trivial part of evolution theory is the study of specific solutions. Still 150 years after Darwin,  Richard Dawkins struggles hard to compute specific solutions of Darwin's equation...

One can even argue that Darwins TOE of evolution as variability + selection, is trivial in the sense that it can be written down in one line, while the determination of specific solutions such as amoebas and human beings is highly non-trivial.

We often hear physicists claim that the atomic electron structure of the periodic table of elements is a consequence of quantum mechanics, but at a closer examination we find the electron structure for atoms with more than one electron, that is all elements except Hydrogen, is unknown as a solution to the Schrödinger equation, see my knols on quantum mechanics.

Likewise, one can argue that the secret of turbulence is hidden as solutions to the Navier-Stokes equations, a secret closed to analytical solution but open to exploration by computation, as well as the n-body problem of celestial mechanics.

The basic differential equations of celestial, fluid and quantum mechanics express basic physical laws of balance or conservation, such as Newton's 2nd law, conservation of mass, momentum and energy. These physical laws are what a blind Nature obeys in its evolution from one moment of time to the next in some form of analog computation, which can be mimicked by digital computation. To evolve according to physical laws does not require any intelligence, just work. In rare cases human intelligence allows shortcuts to analytical solutions, but in general only brute force computation is effective. This is what makes the world go round, whether it is understood by someone or not.

torsdagen den 27:e augusti 2009

Will Mathematicians Save the World, Again?

The free world was saved from the threat of both nazism, fascism and communism, because of free world mathematicians were able to compute both how to make nuclear bombs and run Star Wars. 

Today we are told that mathematical climate models predict catastrophical global warming by CO2 emission from burning of fossil fuels, which represent 75% of the total energy production in the World. Based on these mathematical predictions US President Obama stated the G8 meeting in Aquila in July:
  • The G8 nations agreed that by 2050, we'll reduce our emissions by 80 percent and that we'll work with all nations to cut global emissions in half. 
Realization of these goals will require a major reorganization of the industrial world and threatens to keep the developing world from development. The necessity of the drastic actions required come from predictions of mathematical climate models, and the question that the leaders of the world must pose concerns the reliability of these predictions. 

This is a question for mathematicians. Are mathematicians ready to once again save the World from catastrophy, by once again focussing on the most urgent question facing mankind?

Let us see what the International Union of Mathematicians IMU has to say about global warming? Nothing it seems. Strange! Are mathematicians not willing to save the World this time? The last International Congress of Mathematicians ICM organized by IMU in Madrid in 2006, had no section on mathematical climate modeling, and the upcoming IMC in Hyderabad, India, in 2010 seems no better. Why?

To Limit or Not to Limit Global Warming to 2 degrees C?

Swedish Minister for the Environment Andreas Carlgren leading the EU delegation to Washington DC, USA, on 23–26 August for climate negotiations started out optimistically with the following message to the US:
  • It is vital that the US is involved in the next climate agreement if we are to manage climate issues. 
  • The EU and the US have a common interest and task in helping to fund adaptation measures and technology transfer to developing countries. This is crucial in order to enable the countries of the world to conclude an agreement in Copenhagen in December
  • The right conclusions must now be drawn for how the temperature rise is to be kept below 2 degrees Celsius.
However, today Carlgren reports pessimistically: 
  • Some wine some water...the pace of the negotiations is slow, and they need a kick-start at political level if they are going to be concluded in Copenhagen.
EU led by Sweden wants to save the world from overheating, but the US, China and India are are slow to jump on the wagon. Why? Is it because they are not convinced by IPCC? Or are they convinced, but nevertheless choose to march on towards catastrophy? Is Obama stepping back from his bold plans for his presidency and his promise at the meeting in Aquila in July:
  • The G8 nations agreed that by 2050, we'll reduce our emissions by 80 percent and that we'll work with all nations to cut global emissions in half. 
Is the Copenhagen meeting collapsing even before starting? Sweden and Carlgren has a tough job to do...Maybe it is not so easy to convince rich people that the have get poorer and poor people that they have to stay poor...

Listen to Roy Spencer Testimony to the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

onsdagen den 26:e augusti 2009

tisdagen den 25:e augusti 2009

New Flight Theory is Taking Off

Our new theory of flight is starting to get appreciated: Diego Gugliotta, professional teacher of aerodynamics to pilot students, expresses
  • I had a look to your Mathematical Theory of Flight, which indeed is very interesting. In my leisure time I'm a glider pilot and I also teach pilot students in aerodynamic. Professionally I'm an engineer educated at Aalborg University (thermodynamics, and a M.Sc. in system engineering).
  • After reading your paper I really don't know what to do with my teaching. It is my impression that it is very difficult to know what to rely on when explaining why gliders fly at all , and it's obvious that lesson number one shall be by definition "why does it fly". The last two years I adopted the Newton-Bernoulli approach, combined with Kutta-Zhukovsky's circulation theory, without really knowing how to explain such a circulation. I also experienced, like you also mentioned in your paper, that not even NASA explained the theory of lift.
  • Your theory gives sense, and I'm looking to adopt it as the right theory of lift in my teaching, but now to the 1 million question: How do I explain a 17 year old glider pilot student with only basic school education the theory of lift? any good idea?
The reaction of Diego Gugliotta supports our experience that not even NASA can explain why it is possible to fly, as illustrated on my blogs listed under theory of flight including interviews with NASA Glenn Research Center and my flight expert collegues at KTH.

An answer to the question by Diego can be:
  • Redirection of the incoming flow down will give a reaction up = lift. The flow gets redirected if it does not separate on the top of the wing before the trailing edge. Separation is only possible at a stagnation point. Since the flow is only slightly viscous and thus slides along the wing surface with small friction, stagnation cannot occur before the trailing edge. Hence there is lift. OK? Note that it is crucial that the flow has small viscosity: You cannot glide in syrup.
Diego answers:
  • As a further comment you may note that I don't believe aerodynamics are anything for pilots. I believe I should adopt to explain how, and not why:-HOW: It's a fact that there is a differential pressure between the upper and the lower part of a wing. It's a fact, and it's very easy to demonstrate even in a classroom, that differential pressure times area ends up with a force. 
  • -WHY: It's a fact as well, that Bernoulli holds, and that Newton's 3rd law also holds. However, at least for me, circulation is not a fact, and there is where all my "whys" ends up in nonsense. It doesn't necessarily mean that it doesn't hold. It's just not me the one to disclose this eventual fact, as it requires time, dedication and research; exactly the three parameters you and Johan utilize in your work. You tried to disclose the circulation fact,but in your well documented paper, you ended up rejecting this theory. Yourwork gives sense, and I hope to see soon the reaction of other researchersworking in this field, so they can explain to some one that indeed can work out Euler's equations, the theory of lift. Thank you for your work.
Thanks Diego. I think our new theory can be presented to pilots and can also be understood and appreciated by pilots, because it is a correct understandable theory, and nothing is more practically useful than a correct understandable theory. Right?

Obama and Reinfelt Saving the World

Obama announced his presidency plans in New Direction on Climate Change:
  • Few challenges facing America and the World are more urgent than combatting climate change.
  • The science is beyond dispute, the facts are clear:
  • Sea levels are rising, coast lines are shrinking, record drought, spreading famine and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.
  • Climate change and our dependence of foreign oil if left unaddressed will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.
  • We will invest $15 billion each year to catalyze private sector effort to build a clean energy future: We will invest in solar power, wind power and next generation of biofuels.
  • This investment will not only help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, making the US more secure, and will not only help us bring about a clean energy future saving the planet,  but it will also help us transform our industry and steer our country out of the economic crisis by creating 5 million new green jobs that pay well a cannot be outsourced.
Obama seems to believe that the science beyond dispute is represented by chief climate activist James Hansen, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies,  stating in a presentation in DC in 2007
  • Why should I be speaking out? 
  • I think there is a huge gap between what is understood about global warming by the relevent scientific community and what is known about global warming by those who need to know, the public and policy makers.
  • There is an urgency in the problem because of the large inertia in the systems. We have had in the last 30 years 0.5 degree C of global warming. But there is another half degree in the pipeline because gases that are already in the atmosphere, and another half degree because of energy infrastructure which is place.
  • Even though the climate change so far is just beginning to be noticable, there is a lot more in the pipeline.
  • If we follow the present course for another 10 years, we will have a different planet: No ice in the arctic, sea level rise of 6 meter and extermination of species. It's an urgent problem to begin to address.
  • Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet decreasing. Sea level is now rising 35 cm per century but the concern is that it is a very nonlinear process which could cause a sea level rise of 5 - 6  meters over a century. If we continue with business as usual we will get global warming of 2-3 degrees C.  We need to get on a different track within the next few years.
  • We cannot burn fossil fuels unless we capture the CO2.
Our Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfelt also believes in James Hansen, and Obama, as he prepares for the Copenhagen Climate Council in December:
  • I have on the behalf of the EU wellcomed the new signals and leadership now shown on climate change from the US adminstration. We are following very closely what they are intending to do and hoping to come together in our efforts. I think it is extremely important with the incoming EU presidency of Sweden to be very active in talks and in working together between the EU and US on this issue.
But the science of global warming is not beyond dispute, as I have discussed on previous blogs.
Suppose Obama gets to know that the science is disputed and that the facts are not clear. What would he then say? And what would Reinfelt then say? Would that change the subject of the talks?

But Obamas idea of saving at the same time the US from both the economical crisis and energy security threats, and the World from burning up, is clever, maybe even too clever...

måndagen den 24:e augusti 2009

Reality of the Virtual vs Virtual Reality

Slavoj Zizek suggests to complement the concept of virtual reality as reproduction of reality, with the concept of 
Zizek compares virtuality of the real with reality of the virtual with examples from politics, sociology, psychoanalysis and also physics, which connects to my knols Simulation TechnologySimulations of Wittgenstein and Hyperreality in physics

In his discussion of the concept of reality of the virtual, Zizek uses the Lacanian triad of imaginary-symbolic-real applied to the concepts of virtual and real:
  • imaginary virtual
  • symbolic virtual
  • real virtual  
  • imaginary real
  • symbolic real
  • real real
which Zizek characterizes, in short, as: 
  • imaginary virtual: filtered virtual image of e.g. other people 
  • symbolic virtual: beliefs which have to be virtual to be operative, like paternal authority, Santa Claus, democracy. 
  • real virtual: to be defined, the jewel of the collection
and, recalling the Lacanian definition of real  = that which resists symbolization,
  • imaginary real: images too strong to be directly confronted
  • symbolic real: scientific formulas like quantum physics, which work but which appear to be meaningless with regard to our ordinary notion of reality
  • real real: core of real, obscene shadow of symbolic real, undertext of e.g. Sound of Music:and and  Shortcuts. 
Zizek recalls the decomposition of Donald Rumsfeld of knowledge into known- knowns, known-unknowns and unknown-unknowns. Zizek then completes with unknown- knowns = things we don't know that we know = unconscious, which he seems to view as a form reality of the virtual. 

To explore the relation between reality of the virtual and virtuality of the real,  Zizek considers Einstein's theory of gravitation connecting mass to curvature of space which can be viewed in two ways: 
  • mass defines curved space = real defines virtual = virtual reality
  • curved space defines mass = virtual defines real = reality of the virtual
Similarly, Newtonian theory of gravitation connecting mass to gravitational potential, can be viewed in two ways:
  • mass defines potential = real defines virtual = virtual reality
  • potential defines mass =  virtual defines real = reality of the virtual
as discussed in the The Hen and the Egg of Gravitation with the message that it is not so clear what is most real: mass or gravitational potential. It may depend on our senses.

In psychoanalytic terms the connection between trauma and symbolic space can be viewed as
  • trauma deforms symbolic space = virtual reality
  • deformed symbolic space generates trauma = reality of the virtual
or in fascism/antisemitism
  • Jews deform social space into social antagonism = virtual reality
  • social antagonism deforms social space into antisemitism = reality of the virtual
Evidently,  a relation of cause - effect is represented by the order of real - virtual, with the usual way of thinking being that the real preceeds the virtual. But Zizek says that the cause - effect can be turned around, as in the theory of gravitation, in which case the virtual preceeds the real.  Finally, if the cause - effect relation is unclear or irrelevant, virtual reality = reality of the virtual. 

Of course there is a connection to body - soul with
The soul is not only a representation of reality, but the soul lives its own life and generates its own reality. Further, there seems to be a connection between reality of the virtual and hyperreality = image without real origin.

In the context of a mathematical model like the Navier-Stokes equations expressing physical laws of balance,
  • digital computational solutions of the NS equations are representations of reality = virtual reality
  • reality is created by analog computational solution of balance laws = reality of the virtual.

lördagen den 22:e augusti 2009

Penguin Logic of IPCC

Vincent Gray summaries his experience as expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC in The Triumph of Double-Speak as follows:
  • Despite over 20 years’ of effort and four major Reports, the IPCC has not succeeded in providing any evidence that increases in  greenhouse gases are having a measurable effect on the climate. Why is it, then, that so many people believe that they have done so. The answer lies in their subtle use of  doublespeak, the technique of creating confusion by manipulation of language. This newsletter shows how they have confused and twisted the meanings of words in such a way as to create triumph out of failure.  
If what Gray claims is true, then the Copenhagen Climate Council based on the IPCC reports does not have to open, and the leaders of the world can foucs on solving real problems instead of creating real problems by inventing imaginary problems. 

Let's see if Gray's analysis is correct by going to the documents and then focus on the Fourth Assessment Report AR4 from 2007. In particular let's check if it respresents a form of  Science of Penguin Logic or pseudo-science. AR4 states in Technical Summary:
  • While this report provides new and important policy-relevant information on the scientifi c understanding of  climate change, the complexity of the climate system  and the multiple interactions that determine its behaviour impose limitations on our ability to understand fully the  future course of Earth’s global climate. 
  • There is still an incomplete physical understanding of many components of the climate system and their role in climate change. Key uncertainties include aspects of the roles played by  clouds, the cryosphere, the oceans, land use and couplings  between climate and biogeochemical cycles. 
  • The areas of  science covered in this report continue to undergo rapid  progress and it should be recognised that the present  assessment reflects scientifi c understanding based on the  peer-reviewed literature available in mid-2006.  
  • Models differ considerably in their estimates of the  strength of different feedbacks in the climate system. 
  • Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely to be in the range  2°C to 4.5°C with a most likely value of about 3°C, based upon multiple observational and modelling constraints. There is a good understanding of the origin of differences in equilibrium climate sensitivity found in different  models. Cloud feedbacks are the primary source of inter-model differences in equilibrium climate sensitivity.
  • The overall response of global climate to radiative  forcing is complex due to a number of positive and negative feedbacks that can have a strong influence on the climate  system radiative balance. 
The key quantity is climate sensitivity measuring global warming vs doubling of the CO2 level in the atmosphere: IPCC states that it is likely to be in the range  2° to 4.5° C, with according to the IPCC Uncertainty Guidance likely = probability > 66%. To help interpretation of this statement IPCC informs us 
  • Finally we come to the most difficult question of when the detection and attribution of human­induced climate change is likely to occur. The answer to this question must be subjective, particularly in the light of the very large signal and noise uncertainties discussed in this chapter. Some scientists maintain that these uncertainties currently preclude any answer to the question posed above. Other scientists would and have claimed...that confident detection of a significant anthropogenic climate change has already occurred...
This can be interpreted as a reservation that convincing scientific support of the IPCC climate sensitivity estimate is lacking. But using doublespeak it is also interpreted by IPCC as something close to a truth:
  • Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperature since the mid 20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas   concentrations’.   
We see that IPCC oscillates between not-knowingthe most difficult question is if human induced climate change is likely to occur? and knowing: is very likely due to...anthropogenic greenhouse gas.  This is an extreme form of doublespeak, which is also practiced by modern theoretical physicists in search of a Theory Of Everything saying nothing about the physics of the world we live in. Knowing everything and nothing at the same time! 

Let us analyze the logic of the key statement of IPCC:
  • Climate sensitivity between 2° and 4.5° C with probability > 66% = likely.
Suppose we compare with the following possible statement by IPCC: 
  • Climate sensitivity between 1° and 10° C with probability > 95% = extremely likely.
This statement could seem more alarming by threatening with an extreme of 10° C combined with extremely likely. IPCC could take one step further to 
  • Climate sensitivity between -10°  and  +20° C with probability > 99% = virtually certain.
which could seem even more alarming. We seem to be led to the conclusion that IPCC uses Penguin Logic. What do you think? Compare also Sheep Herd Accuracy.

fredagen den 21:e augusti 2009

Feedback, Sensitivity, Cancellation and Duality

The sensitivity of a mathematical model is a measure of the effect on a certain model output from variation of certain model input data. The sensitivity to errors in data, modeling and computation directly connects to the accuracy of a model. 

Climate sensitivity is primarily concerned with the effect on the global mean temperature from increasing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. 

Concerning the climate sensitivity of current climate models, IPCC states:
  • Spread in model climate  sensitivity is a major factor contributing to the range in  projections of future climate changes. 
  • Consequently, differences in climate  sensitivity between models have received close scrutiny in all  four IPCC reports.
  • Climate sensitivity is largely determined  by internal feedback processes that amplify or dampen  the influence of radiative forcing on climate. 
  • (A) To assess the  reliability of model estimates of climate sensitivity, the ability  of climate models to reproduce different climate changes  induced by specific forcings may be evaluated. 
  • (B) An alternative approach, which is followed here,  is to assess the reliability of key climate feedback processes  known to play a critical role in the models’ estimate of climate  sensitivity. 
Here (A) is a reasonable way of testing climate sensitivity, and gives a large spread shown in Fig 10.2, while (B) boils down to 
  • To assess the reliability of model estimates of climate sensitivity, we assess the reliability of key climate feedback processes  known to play a critical role in the models’ estimate of climate sensitivity. 
In other words, assessment of climate model sensitivities, is replaced by assessment of the feedback processes built into the model. But this is an internal check which appears to be circular: You build in a certain feedback process into the model and you then test model sensitivity by testing the validity of the feedback process you have put in. But in most cases you cannot isolate and experimentally test the validity of the feedback process you have put in: If you could directly observe climate sensitivity experimentally, then climate models would serve no purpose. 

But some sensitivities can be observed experimentally, and thus can serve as reliability tests of climate models. This is done in a recent article by Richard Lindzen showing that the radiation sensitivity of current climate models with respect to surface temperature, does not fit with observations, as shown in the above figure with ERBE radiation measurements: Climate models show too small radiation. Something is apparently wrong with the climate models, and there are many things that could be wrong...

In our exploration of the secret of turbulence by computation, we have studied output sensitivity by duality techniques based on solving associated dual linearized problems, and we have found that local exponential turbulent perturbation growth is controled by effects of cancellation. 

In turbulent flow, an important charcteristic of climate atmosphere/ocean circulation,  cancellation means that the worst combination of effects does not occur: Increase in space-time is balanced by decrease in space-time so that the net effect is smaller than worst case. Duality techniques should be able to offer important information on sensitivity also in climate models, but current models lack this capability and there seems to be room for improvement...will cancellation and duality help save humanity?

torsdagen den 20:e augusti 2009

Malthus is Back Again

Mathematics can be a powerful tool:  In his famous treatise An Essay on the Principle of Population first published in 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus presented a mathematical analysis predicting exponential population growth in time, while food supply would have a much slower linear growth  in time, later referred to as Malthus' Principle of Population.

Malthus thus predicted mathematically an inevitable collapse of human civilization if actions were not taken to limit population growth. 

But the mathematics of Malthus was wrong: populations did not grow exponentially and food supply not linearly: human civilization did not collapse. Not yet at least...

Nevertheless, Malthus is today back again: Based on mathematical climate models the UN International Panel of Climate Change IPCC predicts exponential growth of the global temperature caused by burning of carbonbased fuels, which will lead to a collapse of human civilization on an overheated Earth, if actions are not taken to limit CO2 emission, now. 

Exponential growth is thus feared, but our capitalistic society is driven by dreams of exponential growth at x% per year of
  • GNP 
  • investments 
  • income
  • house prices...
But steady exponential growth is not possible, because it will surpass any limit in finite time: The exponential growth of a financial bubble is eventually followed by a financial crisis until the next bubble can start to grow, exponentially. The overall growth is not exponential because of negative feed-back: The bubble is follwed by a compensating crisis.

Exponential growth represents positive feed-back: The more it grows the more rapidly it grows. A dynamical system with positive feed-back exponential growth is unstable and in order to survive without explosion has to develop a different dynamics somehow curbing the growth by stabilizing negative feed-back. This is the nature of turbulence which is a fundamental aspect of climate. Also compare with the climate feed-back analysis by Richard Lindzen:
  • The earth’s climate (in contrast to the climate in current climate mocdels) is dominated by a strong net negative feed-back. Climate sensitivity is on the order of 0.3°C, and such warming as may arise from increasing greenhouse gases will be indistinguishable from the fluctuations in climate that occur naturally from processes internal to the climate system itself.
The mathematics of exponential growth can be captured analytically and thus is attractive to a mathematical theoretical mind, but it is too simplistic to capture the dynamics of complex systems such as human populations or turbulence. 

Similarly, the IPCC mathematical climate models are most likely too simplistic to capture the dynamics of a the complex system of global climate. Malthus' Principle of Population and the IPCC mathematical models seem to have the same degree of realism. 

In the previous blog I noted that global climate and human population now connect on the agenda of the Optimum Population Trust endorsed by Sir David Attenborough:
  • World population is projected to rise from today's 6.8 billion to 9.15 billion in 2050. The World Population Clock is ticking.  We are rapidly destabilising our climate and destroying the natural world on which we depend for future life.
  • The West should provide money to promote contraception in the Third World and poor countries would be denied 'carbon allowances' unless they control their numbers. 
  • Progress on climate change is being seriously hampered by the widespread refusal to acknowledge the link between total greenhouse emissions and the sheer numbers of emitters. 
  • It is time we abandoned this crazy taboo.
Is this also the agenda of the upcoming UN Copenhagen Climate Council? To limit the number of emitters according to Malthus' Principle of Population? To deny poor people carbon allowances unless they control their numbers. Is Malthus back again?  What do you think?

onsdagen den 19:e augusti 2009

Authority vs Science: Unreason vs Reason

Leading MIT atmospheric physicist and climatologist Richard Lindzen in a talk on The Politics of  Global Warming at the International Conference of Climate Change, New York City, March 8 2009, reminds us about a few simple truths concerning science in general and the science of climate modeling in particular:
  • Endorsing global warming as scientist, just makes life easier.
  • Most arguments about global warming boil down to science vs authority. For much of the public authority will win, since they do not want to deal with science.
  • The climate alarm movement has control of carrots and sticks; most funding for climate would not be there without alarm.
  • What can be done is to better understand science, in particular the logic of science. Actually, science and logic is often not that hard to understand. 
  • Current climate models have large positive feed-backs with thermal radiation decreasing under increasing seasurface temperature, while Nature most likely has negative feed-back.  Getting people including many scientistst to understand this, is crucial. 
  • The Global warming issue has done much to set back climate science, in particular the notion that climate is one-dimensional totally described by some fictitious global mean temperature and some single gross forcing a la CO2 level, is grotesque in its oversimplification.
Lindzen tells us something  important: Good science and scientific logic can be understood by many. Authority cannot win against science in the long run. 

However, in the short run it can, as is illustrated in the previous blog: Evidently Sir David Attenborough has little understanding of the mathematics of climate models, and thus easily can be convinced that predictions of climate models is the truth: If climate models show global warming up to 10 degrees Celsius over the next hundred years, because the accuracy is not better than 10 degrees, then we have to take action to prevent a certainly dangerous increase of 10 degrees. But is it reasonable to keep poor people from increasing their standard of living because climate models are inaccurate? Is it?

Note that Sir David Attenborough has joined the Optimum Population Trust with the following modest proposal on its agenda:
  • The West should provide money to promote contraception in the Third World and poor countries would be denied 'carbon allowances' unless they control their numbers. 
  • Progress on climate change is being seriously hampered by the widespread refusal to acknowledge the link between total greenhouse emissions and the sheer numbers of emitters. 
  • It is time we abandoned this crazy taboo.
The idea to limit energy consumption of poor people until they have become rich enough to have few children is amazing in its inhuman Moment22 stupidity. Is this also a result of climate models? What does Sir David Attenborough say? Maybe it is time for an interview...

måndagen den 17:e augusti 2009

Sir David Attenborough: The Truth About Climate Change

The science of climate modeling predicting global warming by anhropogenic emission of CO2 from carbonbased fuels is nicely summarized by the legendary Sir David Attenborough in the Truth About Global Warming:
  • The key question is: How can we distinguish between climate variations induced by natural causes and by CO2 emission?
  • The key thing that convinced me was a temperature graph prepared by climate scientist Professor Peter Cox showing that a climate model with CO2 emission included can reproduce the temperature during the 20th century better than without.
  • So there you have it: It seems little doubt that this recent rise, this steep rise in temperature, is due to human activity.
  • It is clear that without the action of human beings there would have been far less temperature change since the 1970s.
The science of climate change is the science of climate modeling. Sir Attenborough became convinced by looking at a graph produced by running a certain mathematical climate model with and without a certain greenhouse effect included. But Sir Attenborough did not ask the natural question: 
  • How reliable and accurate are climate models?  
Suppose Sir Attenborough was informed that climate models are not reliable, that their accuracy is unknown, would that change his conviction based on a single graph being the output of a climate model? Suppose he was informed that climate models are constructed so as to give the result of the graphs, a graph which is the result of modeling activity of human beings. What would Sir Attenborough then say?

Compare previous blogs on climate simulation.

lördagen den 15:e augusti 2009

Swedes in the Lead of Climate Control

Swedish scientists have played a leading role in global climate modeling: Svante Arrhenius studied the greenhouse effects of CO2. Carl-Gustaf Rossby pioneered computational weather forecasting sharing Arrhenius concern about CO2. His student Bert Bolin took the issue one step further in a 500 page report of a 1985 conference leading up to the following warning:
  • In the first half of the next century a rise of global mean temperature could occur which is greater than any in man's history.
Bert Bolin was the first chairman of the UN International Panel on Climate Change IPCC 1988-1998 forming the basis of the Kyoto Protocol on control of CO2 emission negociated in December 1997.

Bert Bolin passed away in January 2008, at 82. His successor is Erland Källen.

Al Gore told Bert Bolin in a written statement in December 2007: 
  • Bert, you set up the framework for the IPCC and without your contributions we would not have come to where we are today. Thank you for starting the process.

fredagen den 14:e augusti 2009

Al Gore in the Kingdom of Denmark

  • 150 years ago the scientist John Tyndall in UK discovered for the first time that CO2 intercepts infrared radiation/heat.
  • From his discovery followed a great deal of work that led to growing concern that from the rapid accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere, the build up of heat in the atmosphere and ocean would reach dangerous levels.
  • This year an important event will take place in this hall in this city, in this Kingdom. All nations will gather in an effort to secure a treaty limiting the accumultation of greenhouse gases and the emissions that lead to this accumulation.
  • We are now facing three interrelated crisis: climate, financial and energy security, all three linked by a common thread to an absurd overdependence on carbonbased fuels. If we grab hold of that thread and pull it, these crisis begin to unravel and we hold in our hands the answer to all three:
  • A historic shift from expensive vulnerable polluting carbonbased to new sources of energy that are free for ever: wind, solar and earth. In Denmark now 1/4 comes from wind
  • CO2 is tasteless, odorless, colorless and has no price tag. It does trap heat.
  • More increases are in store because the heat built up in the oceans that will be released into the atmosphere.
  • We must put top urgent priority on preventing the catastrophy that would befall us if we did not act.
  • The changes that are now needed will require participation and leadership from all parts of civilization.
  • It is critically important that we get the rules of the market place correct and that the signals we derive from the market, are ones that accurately reflect human values, so that we can make decisions... that will allow us to live our lives in ways that are in keeping with what we know to be right.
  • There is a very simple test of what is right where the climate is concerned: If the next generation looks back at this year and sees around them the worsening catastrophies that were foretold if the world did not act....If they look back on us and ask: What were they thinking, why did they sit on their hands, why did they choose not to take action to avoid the horrendous catastrophy that the scientific community spelled out to them, and told them would happen if they did not act.
  • If they instead see around them in their world millions of good green jobs, a spirit of renewal, a sense of optimism and hope, a feeling that, yes we can deal with the problems. If they look back with gratitude, this means we have done our job.
  • But it is not much time; we have to do it this year, not next year. The clock is ticking, beacuse mother Nature does not do bail-outs: 
  • We have already as predicted seen increasing droughts, destructive fires, stronger storms, record flooding, spread of tropical diseases...
  • But there is good news: The worlds business community and leaders are beginning to respond.
  • Our policies in the US are changing: President Obama within on one month passed the largest green renewable energy stimulus bill in history. 
  • Every nation and business has a leadership role to play.
In short, Gore first claims that scientists have shown that:
  • CO2 emission causes global warming, which will cause horrendous catastrophy,
and then makes a political call:
  • The Leaders of the World have to act and limit CO2 emissions.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon backs up Al Gore's message in his address to the Global Environment Forum sending the scaring message:
  • droughts, floods and other natural disasters... as well as mass social unrest and violence... human suffering will be incalculable... if the world’s leaders do not seal a deal  on climate change... in Copenhagen...
  • We have just four months. Four months to secure the future of our planet.
But  scientists do not seem to agree on answers to the basic questions:
  • How much global warming is caused by CO2 emission?
  • What will be the effects of global warming?
  • What will be the effects of limits of CO2 emission, for the developing world?
In order for the December meeting in Copenhagen to be meaningful, some answers seem to be required...unless everything is just politics for the Leaders of the World...

One question naturally presents itself: Does the ambition of the World Leaders of industrial countries to limit the use of carbonbased fuels, come from self-interest to guarantee continued access to these fuels?

Modernity in Physics, Arts and Music

In the previous blog I observed that modern physics is based on assumptions which cannot be directly verified experimentally. It appears that this aspect of modernity has a parallel in non-figurative arts and atonal music, which together with modern physics emerged in the beginning of the 20th century, in what can be viewed as a preparation to the collapse of classical Western culture in the 1st World War followed by the 2nd. 

An aspect of the modernity of non-figurative art is that it is impossible to compare the painting with what is supposed to be depicted. A non-figurative painting does not depict something explicitely, if anything only implicitely, as in the above painting. 

An aspect of the modernity of atonal music is that it is impossible to decide what the key is. Atonal music does not show tonality directly,  if any only indirectly. 

The modernity of modern physics is that it is impossible to experimentally verify basic assumptions. The basic assumptions thus do not reveal their character directly,  only indirectly through traces as shown in the above picture from a particle experiment. In classical physics basic assumptions such as Hooke's law, Fourier's law and Coulomb's law, can be directly checked in experiments. But the quanta, photons and quarks of modern physics cannot be observed directly. 

Modern physics, art and music thus share a common quality of hiding to inspection, or
impliciteness and indirectness, like the shades of Platon which only vaugely indicate their origin, if any.

We can compare with the life in the modern city with the qualities of the people we meet in the street hidden to direct inspection, only available indirectly by clothing and appearance, while in the classical village everybody directly knows everything about everybody.

onsdagen den 12:e augusti 2009

Logic of Penguin Science = ??

The statement A implies B means that if A is true, then B is also true. An elementary mistake in logical scientific reasoning is to conclude that if A implies B and B is observed to be true, then A is true. But this is to confuse A implies B with B implies A

We illustrate: Let 
  • A= You bang your head into a wall. 
  • B = You have a headache.
We could probably agree that there is theoretical evidence that A implies B: Head bang leads to head ache, in theory at least. Suppose now that B is true, that is suppose that you have a headache. Can we then conclude that A is true, that is that you bang your head into a wall? Not necessarily: You may get a headache from other causes, like drinking to much alcohol. It can even be that the implication that you get a headache from head bang is incorrect, so that there is no connection at all; you may have an unusually solid skull.

Yet this type of logic is a trademark of modern physics/science: 
  • If we assume that a gas is in a state of molecular chaos with the velocities of two molecules before collision being statistically independent, then we can theoretically derive Boltzmann's equation, which has certain solutions which agree with certain observations. Hence the gas in a state of molecular chaos.
  • If we assume that there is a smallest quantum of energy, then we can theoretically derive a formula for the spectrum of black-body radiation, which agrees with observation. Hence there is a smallest quantum of energy.
  • If we assume that light consists of particles named photons, then we can theoretically derive a formula for photoelectricity, which agrees with certain observations. Hence light consists of photon particles. 
  • If we assume Pauli's exclusion principle, then we can explain certain observed atomic electron configurations.  Hence electrons obey Pauli's exclusion principle.
  • If we assume that the wave function collapses at observation, then we can theoretically explain an certain observed blips on a screen. Hence the wave function collapses at observation.
  • If we assume Heisenberg's uncertainty principle for elementary particles, then we can theoretically explain an observed interaction between observer and observed particle. Hence elementary particles obey Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. 
  • If we assume that a proton consists of three quarks, then we can theoretically derive a formula for the observed mass of a proton. Hence a proton consists of three quarks.
  • If we assume that spacetime observations of different observers are connected by the Lorentz transformation of special relativity, then we can theoretically explain the observation that the speed of light is the same for all observers. Hence spacetime observations of different observers are connected by the Lorentz transformation.
  • If we assume that spacetime is curved, then we can theoretically explain observed gravitation. Hence spacetime is curved.
  • If we assume there was a Big Bang, then we can theoretically explain the observed expansion of the Universe. Hence there was a Big Bang.
  • If we assume there is a black hole at the center of a galaxy, then we can theoretically explain the observed shape of a galaxy. Hence there is a black hole in the center of a galaxy.
  • If string theory would predict an observable phenomenon, it would follow that matter consists of tiny vibrating strings.
  • If we assume that the Earth rests on four invisible tortoises, then we can theoretically explain why the Earth does not fall down. Hence the Earth rests on four invisible tortoises.
  • If we assume that CO2 is a critical greenhouse gas, then we can theoretically explain observed global warming. Hence CO2 is a critical greenhouse gas.
Do you see the possibly incorrect logic in these statements? If so, do you see the potential danger of such possibly incorrect logic? Do you think such possibly incorrect logic represents science or pseudo-science? 

Notice that in all the above cases, the fact that a certain phenomenon is observed, which can be theoretically explained from a certain assumption, is used to motivate that the assumption is not just an assumption but a true fact: There is molecular chaos and a smallest quantum of energy, electrons do respect the exclusion principle, the Lorentz transformation must connect different observations, spacetime is curved, light is photons, there was a Big Bang, there is a black hole in the center of a galaxy, a proton is three quarks, the Earth is resting on four tortoises, CO2 is a critical greenhouse gas. 

Notice also that in all cases, it is impossible to directly check if the assumption is valid, which is part of the beauty. The assumption is hidden to inspection and can only be tested indirectly: It is impossible to directly observe molecular chaos, a smallest quantum of energy, photon, electron, particle exclusion, wavefunction collapse, uncertainty, quark, spacetime curvature, black hole, tortoise, string...or that CO2 is a critical greenhouse gas. It is therefore impossible to directly disprove their existence...Clever, but there is an obvious drawback, since the existence is also impossible to verify...science or pseudo-science?

The argument is that the assumption must be true, because this is the only way a theoretical explanation seems to be possible. Our inability to come up with an alternative explanation thus is used as evidence: The more we restrict our creativity and perspective, the more sure we get that we are right. Convincing or penguin science?

Compare the same logic in a trial: If we assume X had a reason to kill Y, then we can theoretically explain the observed murder of Y. Hence X had a reason to kill Y. And thus probably did it! What if you were X?

Notice in particular that present climate politics is based on the idea that CO2 is the cause of the observed global warming, with the motivation that certain theoretical climate models show global warming from CO2. But the observed modest global warming during the 20th century of 0.7 degrees Celsius may have natural causes rather than anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels. What do you think? What does a penguin in the Antarctic think? Compare e.g. EIKE.

tisdagen den 11:e augusti 2009

Interview with Erland Källen: Meteorologist

Interview with Erland Källen, Professor of Dynamic Meteorology at Stockholm University.

CJ: What is the accuracy of the climate models used in the IPCC predictions of the effects of greenhouse gases on the global climate?

EK: The error margins are pretty big. The scenario showing 2 degrees warming has an error margin between 1 and nearly 4 degrees, with the upper margin bigger than the lower. All scenarios thus give a warming with the worst scenario over 6 degrees... 

CJ: Do you really mean that if the upper error margin was 10 degrees, then the worst scenario would be more than 12 degrees, so that a bigger error margin would indicate more warming?
Or do we use the term error margin differently?

EK: ??

EK:  Over a longer time period there is a connection between increase of CO2 and global temperature....It is impossible that natural variations only, could explain the warming the last 50 years....From a moral point of view it is very difficult to understand, why we in the rich part of the World have a right to demand birth control in developing countries, if we don't at the same time open to an increased standard of living...To explain the warming the last 50 years it is difficult to see another main reason than increase of CO2...From computer simulations we draw the conclusion that increased CO2 is the most plausible explanation of observed temperature change..

CJ: Are you gradually changing from impossible...to difficult to see...to most plausible...to...?

EK: ??

Erland Källen does not seem to be willing to be interviewed by me. But the questions remain.

Chill-Out: Climate Change??

Chill-Out -- The Truth about the Climate Bubble (in Swedish) by Lars Bern and Maggie Thauersköld,  is an important contribution to the Swedish debate on Anthropogenic Global Warming AGW. Read and think!

The key question is if the global warming of 0.7 degrees Celsius during the 20th century, is due to an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere from 0.028% to 0.038% due to anthropogenic burning of fossil fuels, and if therefore strict limitations on CO2 emissions must be imposed to save the World? 

Al Gore says YES! based on the following key statements in the 2007 Synthesis Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change IPCC:
  • Continued green-house-gas/CO2 emissions at or above current rates  would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that  would very likely be larger than those observed during  the 20th century. 
  • Anthropogenic warming could lead to some impacts  that are abrupt or irreversible, depending upon the rate  and magnitude of the climate change. 

Chill-Out puts these statements into perspective and in particular points to the fact that the predictions of IPCC are based on computer simulations showing a better fit to measured temperature with anthropogenic warming included than without. 

Note that the IPCC statements are very cautious, which reflects a generally accepted view that the accuracy/reliability of current climate models is questionable, which I have discussed in previous blogs on climate simulation.

The next UN Climate Conference will take place in Copenhagen in December under Swedish chairmanship of EU. UN Climate chief Yvo de Boer hopes the conference will in particular reach agreements to limit the growth of emissions in developing countries, required to be necessary by predictions of catastrophical global warming.

The key question is if poor people will have to remain poor because of the scientifically vague predictions of IPCC based on certain computer simulations generally viewed to be unreliable?Fredrik Reinfeldt, Swedish prime minister and current EU president, says YES! calling for immediate global action on climate change at the opening of Nordic Climate Solutions, in Copenhagen November 27 2008:
  • We must act today, in order to save tomorrow.
Chill-Out helps you to understand the background and meaning of this statement.
Also compare A man-made mortality tale: How the IPCC’s fairly sober summary of climate science has been spun to tell a story of Fate, Doom and human folly. Read and think!

måndagen den 10:e augusti 2009

Role of Mathematics Education in Society??

Can we learn something about the role of mathematics education in our society, from how mathematics departments present their educational programs?  The following statements are typical: 
  • Princeton University: The mathematician's best work is ART, a high perfect art, as daring as the most secret dreams of imagination. Mathematical genius and artistic genius touch one another. (Gösta Mittag-Leffler).
  • MITMathematics provides a language and tools for understanding the physical world around us and the abstract world within us. 
  • University of ChicagoOne of the wonderful things about the University of Chicago is that EVERYONE has to take mathematics. Most students complete this requirement by taking one of our calculus sequences. 
  • Chalmers University of Technology: The mathematical sciences are fundamental and indispensable to a large part of modern science and engineering. Progress in other disciplines is often linked to an increased use of mathematics. Mathematics is however also a subject in itself, and fundamental research is a necessary condition for its many applications.
  • University of Washington: Mathematics is both a science and an art. Like any great art, mathematics has an intrinsic beauty and coherence that has attracted practitioners for centuries. Yet, unlike other arts, mathematics is a surprisingly effective tool for describing the natural world. Indeed, mathematics has come to serve as the foundation of modern science, through its language and results. Some mathematical results were initially developed in order to solve internally generated mathematical problems and only later found application in other disciplines; other mathematical results were inspired by the needs of these other disciplines. The two facets of mathematics - tool of science and subject of inquiry for its own sake - have come to be interwoven into a complex fabric. 
  • University of OxfordMathematics plays a pivotal role in the progress of society and its continued growth relies on the exchange and development of research ideas, the encouragement and teaching of the next generation of mathematical thinkers, and outreach to the public and schools. 
We  summarize:
  • Mathematics is a form of sublime art, which miraculously has shown to be very useful in science and engineering. EVERYBODY needs to learn mathematics in order to understand the physical world outside and abstract world inside ourselves.
We observe that the existence of the computer is not visible. 

The message is that mathematics primarily is a form of art which by developing according to its own inner principles, to which computing does not belong, best serves the needs of society. In this scenario there is little incentive to reform motivated by the computer now changing the society outside mathematics departments and their educational programs.