Sunday, February 20, 2011

Understanding Science

Understanding Science

Physical laws are described by mathematical relationships. Newton's laws of orbital mechanics apply well to objects at planetary distances, even galactic distances, but now that we can resolve intergalactic distances, the math no longer works. Physics has responded by pretending that there is a force, they call it "dark matter" that adds the necessary gravitational force needed to make their equations work. Then they noticed, as their power to resolve details became better, that their math was out of whack again, so they invented "dark energy," which is a magic force that acts opposite to gravity.

Now that the physics establishment has made it look like they know what is happening, they are acting exactly the same way the climate group acts. The establishment has their orthodoxy, and grad students and academic staff either parrots the party line or they starve. Just try to get a position or a grant if you have ever written a paper that says that string theory is unsupported by experiment or observation and that thought, even though it is entirely true, will garner a failing grade.

Science is entirely political, with the older established deans and heads of labs sticking to party lines. The students in the field that are gathering the data know that they had better find data that supports their professor's well established viewpoint. That's the way it has always been, that's the way it is, and so it goes.

Climate science is only the most visible of the sciences where interest groups have tried to leverage their position of authority into massive political power. Here are the facts - temperatures are well within normal range, CO2 is higher today that the last few centuries, but low by long term standards - it has been many times higher than it is now, and the flora and fauna flourished. We can detect more global weather now, and as we can see finer detail we enter a situation where we have no historical comparison. The question is no longer about warming, since that stopped in 1998, it is about increased weather variability. There is a debate about that, with one side saying "Yes, now give us more money and power" and the other side saying "well now, we can resolve these things on a finer scale that ever before, so we do not know if the weather is getting more erratic, so let us pursue further research before we continue to pretend that we know these answers."