Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Ring

"Very pretty!" said Gandalf. "But I have no time to blow smoke-rings this morning. I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone."
~~The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My aim was to take a different look at the model for the atom. I came up with the "donutom". I modelled the donutom on, well, erm ... a donut, a ring donut to be precise. The shape of a ring donut is known as a vortex ring. The donutom is based very much on the vortex ring model proposed for the atom by Lord Kelvin. His inspiration came after observing some of the experiments in fluid dynamics, namely smoke rings, being carried out by Helmholtz. Lord Kelvin was greatly impressed, and in 1867, he wrote:

“After noticing Helmholtz's admirable discovery of the law of vortex motion in a perfect liquid -- that is, in a fluid perfectly destitute of viscosity (or fluid friction) -- the author said that this discovery inevitably suggests the idea that Helmholtz's rings are the only true atoms."

There's something not quite right with my model for the donutom, mind. I was working with the idea that the electrion is the same size as the proton but that it has a charge 1800 times greater. If you bring the two together, it's unlikely that the charge of the proton and the electrion will cancel one another out to form a neutral donutom; it might be seen that that the electrion now has a negative charge that is not 1800, but 1799 times greater than the proton! This being the case - what has happened to the neutrality so characteristic of atoms?

In the current textbook theory, the proton has a MASS that is 1800 times greater than that of the electron. This tiny electron then circles the big fat proton. In this model, the electron has a negative charge, and the proton a positive charge, and both charges having the same value, cancel one another-out. The combined atom now has a neutral charge. Is it possible then to return to the donutom theory where the electrion and the proton are the same size? I think it is possible and it has everything to do with DENSITY.

If the electrion and the proton are vortices in the fluid of the aether, where these vortices are found to be roughly the same size, and it is true that the proton has a mass which is 1800 times greater than the electrion, then it remains to say that the proton is 1800 times more DENSE than the electrion. Thus, the proton emerges as the high pressure system, and the electrion as the "empty" cyclonic vessel. This scenario certainly feels better.

The proton is one of the guises of hydrogen. It's nice that the symbol "H" is used to not only describe high pressure weather systems, but also hydrogen - making the two rather more synonymous. Hydrogen, at least in terms of density, is restored to its rightful place as the "element" closest to the aether field.

What does this mean for the alpha-particle, though? I think that the alpha-particle is a formation of two protons. This would now mean that it is a formation of two anticyclones. To describe the formation of the alpha-particle, I would use the Fujiwhara effect. The Fujiwhara effect or Fujiwara interaction is a type of interaction between two nearby cyclonic vortices, causing them to appear to “orbit” each other. When the cyclones approach each other, their centres will begin orbiting cyclonically about a point between the two systems.

The Fujiwhara effect normally describes two cyclonic vortices. I'm not sure I can apply the effect to a formation of two anticyclones. However, in trying to spot an example of such a formation in nature, I found a nice article where two anticyclone vortices were observed coexisting in the Black Sea, so perhaps there is every chance that anticyclones can act in pairs without mixing:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very-High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) imagery (1993, 1998), along with attendant daily meteorological information from seaports and available hydrographic information from different years, was used to investigate the structure and evolution of mesoscale anticyclonic eddies in the northwestern Black Sea, and their role in shelf/deep basin water exchange. In the summer of 1993, two anticyclonic eddies with diameters of 90 and 55 km coexisted without coalescence for 1.5 months over a wide and relatively gentle part of the northwestern continental slope.

One of the most obvious reasons as to why I might have previously dismissed hydrogen as not being particularly dense, is that if you fill a balloon with the stuff, it floats off into space. You never hear stories of hydrogen gas being dropped on people's toes (unless of course it's in a cannister!) Nope, hydrogen, and for that matter helium, just want to go UP. Why on earth would they want to do that?

Friday, 19 March 2010

Gimme Shelter

Earth's Magnetic Field Shields Moon From Space Radiation

By Sabrina Richards

n late summer 1859, spectacular light shows astounded the world, the likes of which have never been witnessed since. Telegraph communications were disrupted for hours while crimson lights bathed the night sky. Contemporary spectators attributed these phenomena to volcanic eruptions or reflections off polar ice caps.

Little did anyone recognize the true source of the disturbances, or how lucky they were to be watching from Earth. Even under quiet space weather conditions, the solar wind, comprised of hot ionized gas called plasma, buffets Earth with dangerous radiation. When it contacts Earth's magnetic field, known as the magnetosphere, its particles interact with the ionosphere and emit light, giving rise to the aurora. The marvelous light shows of 1859 were caused by possibly the largest solar flare ever recorded. It would have carried a massive amount of radiation. We on Earth can revel in these light displays because of Earth's magnetic field, which deflects the radiation even as it stimulates the aurora.

Without the Earth's magnetosphere, the radiation exposure caused by the flare of 1859 would probably have been lethal. Normal solar wind conditions would expose anyone outside the magnetosphere to unusually high doses. Radiation causes biological damage, increasing the risk of diseases such as cataracts and cancer. Exploration beyond the protective bubble of our magnetosphere is a risky proposition. But new initiatives aimed at sending men to the moon and beyond propose just that. How will the astronauts be protected?

Exciting new research by University of Washington scientists suggests that the intrepid lunar explorers will not be left out in the hot plasma alone. In the November 2007 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, Erika Harnett and Robert Winglee in the UW Department of Earth and Space Sciences demonstrated that Earth's magnetosphere can protect the moon from space radiation.

In 2004, President Bush outlined his Vision for Space Exploration. Included in the Vision is the goal of returning men to the moon by 2020. NASA plans to construct a permanent lunar base, allowing for continued human presence on the moon. Lunar missions offer scientists the opportunity to conduct research directly on the moon, rather than relying on data collected from satellite observation. Space exploration, it is hoped, will also stimulate the development of important new technologies that we can utilize on Earth. But first scientists need to characterize the environment the explorers will encounter.

That is where the simulations conducted by Harnett and Winglee come in. "There's this push to send people back to the moon, to do it a little bit more long term, rather than have them hop around for a day and then come back,” says Harnett. The ability of Earth's magnetosphere to protect the moon will have a direct impact on the habitability of the lunar environment.

The previous manned Apollo missions were brief, and they were conducted during a quiet period in space weather. No major solar events, such as the 1859 solar flare, occurred. Extended lunar missions would increase not only the radiation exposure, but also the risk that a solar event would occur during the mission. The particles in the solar wind carry energy ranging from thousands to billions of electron volts. Harnett and Winglee used computer models to calculate the amount of shielding the moon could expect while inside Earth's magnetosphere, as well as which areas on the moon were best protected. They hope that mission designers will be able to use this information when planning exploratory lunar missions.

The researchers caution that the initial calculations used very general models for solar wind conditions and particle trajectories. Further work examining more accurate solar wind conditions and particle tracking is under way.

"I thought it was very interesting work, and it was nice to see someone take some very theoretical work and have it make a direct application to space exploration,” says Timothy Stubbs, of the Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The moon, unlike Earth, generates no magnetic field to protect it from the solar wind's charged particles, or the radiation pummeling it from beyond our solar system. The ability of Earth's magnetosphere to confer shielding is heartening, but even so the moon only spends about seven days of its twenty-eight day orbit within this zone of protection. This is due to the extreme asymmetry of Earth's magnetosphere, caused by interaction with the solar wind.

In the absence of the solar wind, Earth's magnetosphere would "extend to infinity in all directions,” explains Nicola Richmond of University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. "But the solar wind from the sun consists of charged particles, and because they're charged, and the sun has a magnetic field, the solar wind carries with it a magnetic field.” This magnetic field is called the interplanetary magnetic field, or IMF, because it extends past all the planets in our solar system. When the solar wind crashes into Earth's magnetosphere, the magnetosphere is pushed toward Earth. On the day side the magnetosphere is compressed, while the night side magnetosphere is elongated by the solar wind. It stretches for hundreds of Earth radii into space, creating the magnetotail. The moon spends about a week of its orbit in this magnetotail; during the other three weeks, the radius of the magnetosphere is too small to reach the moon, and the moon is utterly exposed to space weather.

So why go to the moon? What can we learn from such a desolate environment, so unlike our own, so dangerous? To some, the vulnerability of the moon is its selling point. "The great thing about the moon is that it doesn't have much atmosphere, so it interacts directly with the surrounding space environment,” explains Stubbs. Understanding how plasma interacts with the moon could be applied to other bodies in the solar system. Before astronauts set up camp back on the moon, scientists first need to characterize the obstacles they would encounter.

Astronauts hoping to spend long periods in space face two radiation threats: energetic particles originating from the sun and galactic cosmic radiation from outside our solar system. Harnett explains, ”The galactic cosmic radiation is always there. It's just sort of a back-ground rain-drizzle coming at you. So energetic particles from the sun, called SEPs, solar energetic particles, those are not, those are transient. And we can't really predict when those happen.” It is this unpredictability of the SEPs that worried Harnett and Winglee. While a lunar base could be protected by thick walls, or by being buried beneath the moon's surface, astronauts on extended missions beyond base would have little recourse against a sudden gust of radiation.

The researchers used computer models to predict how much shielding Earth's magnetosphere might offer the moon under different solar wind conditions. One character of a magnetic field is its direction. If the IMF's direction aligns with our magnetosphere's direction, the magnetosphere is strengthened and better shields the moon. But even when magnetic fields do not align, the researchers were pleasantly surprised to see significant shielding of the moon.

"I think everybody assumed that it would be inconsequential—either offer no protection, or not add much to the radiation hazard,” says Harnett.

But their models predicted that the moon could be shielded from particles with energies up to billions of electron volts, encompassing both solar and galactic cosmic radiation. Harnett and Winglee hope this information can be used to advantage. While astronauts inside a base could expect shielding from the base itself, astronauts on lengthy excursions away from the base would benefit from planning the excursions for the week the moon spends in the magnetotail.

Different locations within the magnetosphere were tested for their possible shielding ability. The researchers were able to use their simulations to identify locations on the moon where a lunar base would receive the most protection from the magnetosphere.

Stubbs points out that new data will soon be available to validate the models generated at the University of Washington. The first step in NASA's mission to return men to the moon is the launch in late 2008 of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). LRO Spacecraft will map the moon's surface, sending back crucial data for planning landing missions and choosing the lunar base location. One of its instruments was designed with the express goal of measuring the lunar radiation environment. Called CRaTER, for Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation, this instrument will measure the effects of different types of radiation on tissue-equivalent plastics. This will help NASA evaluate the effect that longer-term radiation exposure will have on astronauts based on the moon.

Sabrina Richards is a graduate student in the Department of Immunology at the University of Washington

Saturday, 6 March 2010

NASA Admits Solar Variability ties to Climate Change

Timothy Birdnow

Well, it’s finally happened; NASA has admitted that the sun is a variable star, and that changes in solar irradiance may well effect the Earth’s climate.

This excerpt from NASA.gov:


For some years now, an unorthodox idea has been gaining favor among astronomers. It contradicts old teachings and unsettles thoughtful observers, especially climatologists.

“The sun,” explains Lika Guhathakurta of NASA headquarters in Washington DC, “is a variable star.”

But it looks so constant…

That’s only a limitation of the human eye. Modern telescopes and spacecraft have penetrated the sun’s blinding glare and found a maelstrom of unpredictable turmoil. Solar flares explode with the power of a billion atomic bombs. Clouds of magnetized gas (CMEs) big enough to swallow planets break away from the stellar surface. Holes in the sun’s atmosphere spew million mile-per-hour gusts of solar wind.

And those are the things that can happen in just one day.

Over longer periods of decades to centuries, solar activity waxes and wanes with a complex rhythm that researchers are still sorting out. The most famous “beat” is the 11-year sunspot cycle, described in many texts as a regular, clockwork process. In fact, it seems to have a mind of its own.

“It’s not even 11 years,” says Guhathakurtha. “The cycle ranges in length from 9 to 12 years. Some cycles are intense, with many sunspots and solar flares; others are mild, with relatively little solar activity. In the 17th century, during a period called the ‘Maunder Minimum,’ the cycle appeared to stop altogether for about 70 years and no one knows why.”
There is no need to go so far back in time, however, to find an example of the cycle’s unpredictability. Right now the sun is climbing out of a century-class solar minimum that almost no one anticipated.

“The depth of the solar minimum in 2008-2009 really took us by surprise,” says sunspot expert David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “It highlights how far we still have to go to successfully forecast solar activity.”

That’s a problem, because human society is increasingly vulnerable to solar flare ups. Modern people depend on a network of interconnected high-tech systems for the basics of daily life. Smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services, emergency radio communications—they can all be knocked out by intense solar activity. According to a 2008 study by the National Academy of Sciences, a century-class solar storm could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.

Right: Areas of the USA vulnerable to power system collapse in response to an extreme geomagnetic storm. Source: National Academy of Sciences. [more]

“Understanding solar variability is crucial,” says space scientist Judith Lean of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC. “Our modern way of life depends upon it.”


Astronomers were once so convinced of the sun’s constancy, they called the irradiance of the sun “the solar constant,” and they set out to measure it as they would any constant of Nature. By definition, the solar constant is the amount of solar energy deposited at the top of Earth’s atmosphere in units of watts per meter-squared. All wavelengths of radiation are included—radio, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays and so on. The approximate value of the solar constant is 1361 W/m2.

Clouds, atmospheric absorption and other factors complicate measurements from Earth’s surface, so NASA has taken the measuring devices to space. Today, VIRGO, ACRIM and SORCE are making measurements with precisions approaching 10 parts per million per year. Future instruments scheduled for flight on NASA’s Glory and NOAA’s NPOESS spacecraft aim for even higher precisions.

To the amazement of many researchers, the solar constant has turned out to be not constant.

“‘Solar constant’ is an oxymoron,” says Judith Lean of the Naval Research Lab. “Satellite data show that the sun’s total irradiance rises and falls with the sunspot cycle by a significant amount.”

At solar maximum, the sun is about 0.1% brighter than it is at solar minimum. That may not sound like much, but consider the following: A 0.1% change in 1361 W/m2 equals 1.4 Watts/m2. Averaging this number over the spherical Earth and correcting for Earth’s reflectivity yields 0.24 Watts for every square meter of our planet.

“Add it all up and you get a lot of energy,” says Lean. “How this might affect weather and climate is a matter of—at times passionate—debate.”

End excerpt

The claim that this is a new idea that is just gaining ground is untrue, however; astronomers have known about this variability for decades, first being postulated in the the late 19th century and gaining major traction in the 1960’s. According to an article by the AGU

“This long search reached a turning point in the 1960s, when convincing evidence of solar variability and of correlation between solar variation and climate change first became available. In 1961 Minze Stuiver found evidence of solar variability in 14C variations in the tree-ring record over the past millenium [Stuiver, 1961]: at times of greater solar activity the solar wind and its magnetic field shield the earth from 14C-generating cosmic rays, resulting in lower 14C absorption by living organisms. Later studies of the preceding 7.5 millennia revealed fluctuations in 14C concentration implying that variations in solar activity comparable to Maunder Minimum are commonplace over scales of 100 to 1000 years. Studies of 10Be have established proxy records of longer-term solar variability. [Hoyt and Schatten, 1997.]

Secondly, in the late ’60s the first measurements of solar irradiation were made from above the atmosphere. These and subsequent space-based measurements, far more sensitive than had been possible from ground-based platforms and relying on the most advanced instrumentation, showed that the solar “constant” did indeed vary. However, the time scale involved was too short to support conclusions about long-term climatic change. [Hufbauer, 1991]

John Eddy tied all these threads together in a now-famous paper of 1976. Examining the historical record, he argued that the current patterns of solar regularity and reliability — an 11-year solar cycle and a constant level of radiation — may likely be ephemeral phenomena amid a longer-term record of solar variability. Records of 14C and of naked-eye sightings of auroras, sunspots, and the solar corona all point to earlier minimums and at least one maximum of solar activity in the past 2000 years. These maxima and minima, Eddy claimed, coincide with periods of climatic extreme — the Little Ice Age of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the Medieval Climatic Optimum of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries.

Eddy’s claims met with considerable scepticism, but evidence for solar variability and its influence on climate has become firmer over the last two decades. While Vladimir K–ppen had attempted a determination of global temperature in the early decades of this century, the first reliable estimates appeared in the early 1960s. In the mid-1980s P.D. Jones, T.M.L. Wigley and others made available the first global syntheses of surface-temperature measurements over both land and oceans. [Jones, et al., 1986; T.M.L. Wigley, 1986] These last estimates all agreed in showing global warming from the late nineteenth century to around 1940, a cooling to the mid-1960s, and substantial warming since then.

Anxiety over the contribution of greenhouse gases to global warming had motivated these calculations of global temperature. But Eddy’s line of argument suggested that part of the temperature change might result from solar variation. By the beginning of our own decade satellite measurements offered continuous, longer-term datasets than had been earlier available. The variations in solar luminosity they reported are sufficient to account for significant climate change, especially if linked to solar cycles on 100-year time scales [Reid, 1988 and 1992; Friis-Christiansen and K. Lassen, 1992; Ardanuy, 1992]. Studies of sun-like stars also point to eras of cyclic magnetic activity punctuated by periods, like our Maunder Minimum, of magnetic quiet. [Baliunas, 1992.]”

End excerpt

So now we see backtracking by the mainstream science community over the whole notion of Anthropogenic global Warming; Willie Soon was excoriated for making the claim that the sun was the dominant forcing in global warming, yet now he has been vindicated (assuming that there actually WAS any planetary warming, something in doubt given the fudging of data by CRU and GISS.)

NASA intends to study solar variability, and we should all welcome it; a large solar flare could crash the world’s communication network or worse. In 1859 an enormous solar flare - called the Carrington Event - blew out telegraph lines and damaged what meager electronic devices that existed. Aurora were visible in the Caribbean! Were such a flare to occur today, it would crash our satellite system, and the resulting EMP would likely blow out all of our finer computer and other electronic devices. Given that everthing we use today has some sort of sophisticated electronic devices - microchips, microcomputers, GPS systems, etc. we would find ourselves in serious trouble. Water stations would not pump water, no vehicles would be on the roads and those that were hardened would find getting gas difficult since pumps would be out, there would be no lights, food would not get to the public. It would be as if the world were suddenly thrown back to 1859, without the old infrastructure to support the much larger population. Chaos would ensue.

We need to know if such an event is coming.

We have wasted a large amount of time with the Global Warming issue, time that could have been better used to address real dangers. How much money has been wasted on computer models of CO2 armageddon that could have been used, say, to help Haiti improve their infrastructure? AGW has been catastrophic to the poor, who have been neglected in favor of Western Guilt and fashionable doomstay scenarios.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

"Burning the Alexandrian Library, Again and Again

The year is 1906. Bernard Shaw’s comedy Caesar and Cleopatra is playing in Berlin. It is the world premier, directed by Max Reindhardt. Julius Caesar stands on the stage, a stage made to look like Egypt. A Greek scholar enters and reports to Caesar that the Alexandrian library is burning. Caesar: “I am an author myself; and I tell you it is better that the Egyptians should live their lives than dream them away with the help of books.” The scholar says, “What is burning there is the memory of mankind.” Caesar replies, “A shameful memory. Let it burn.”

In legend the Library had to be burned three times. Once was not enough. Its collection of papyruses was the largest in antiquity, a wonder of the world. There was no ancient book that could not be found there, or so tradition says. It may have contained four hundred thousand volumes. The human imagination found it hard to accept that something so large and grand could completely disappear at one go.

The great library had the unusual distinction of being burned in turn by Pagans, Christians, and Muslims. The destruction was thus a multicultural event. However suspect its basis in fact, the imagined record of destructions does divide the blame, and so demonstrates a measure of political correctness.

Borges dislikes Shaw’s turning Caesar into a leader who makes the burning of the Alexandrian library into a “sacrilegious joke.” The burning of libraries does not amuse Borges. In the concluding lines of his “Poem of the Gifts,” the blind librarian intones,“In vain the day/Squanders on these same eyes its infinite tomes,/As distant as the inaccessible volumes/Which perished in Alexandria.” “The Library of Babel,” one of his most famous parables, allegorizes the cosmos as a vast confusing library, as indecipherable as the world itself. Yet it allows Borges to define man as the “imperfect librarian.” Thus, to destroy libraries is to destroy our humanity. Elsewhere, Borges confesses he “ had always thought of Paradise/In form and image as a library.”