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Comment: Orwellian (Score 1) 199

So this week Gohmert, the chair of the oversight and investigations subpanel of the U.S. House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing to explore "the consequences of politically driven science."

You have to understand that when he says things like "politically driven science" he is intending, not to communicate, but to bamboozle and deceive. This has been pointed out before:

"The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies “something not desirable.” The words democ- racy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. "

(Politics and the English Language, 1946.)

Comment: Re:Excommunicate the liars (Score 2) 700

by mbone (#49577535) Attached to: Pope Attacked By Climate Change Skeptics

I strongly suspect that you will find most American and British conservatives are Protestants. Excommunicating them from the Catholic church would be a non-concept for them.

Well, maybe. Of the Republicans running or widely considered to be possibly running for President, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal
Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum are all Catholic. That's a pretty good chunk of the people considered to be actual contenders.

Comment: The Pope has a good intelligence service (Score 1) 700

by mbone (#49577269) Attached to: Pope Attacked By Climate Change Skeptics

The Pope has always had access to excellent advice from more-or-less anyone he wants (invitations to join the Pontifical Academy of Sciences are rarely turned down, and are by no means restricted to Catholic men). I may or may not agree with him, but I would never assume that he is being mislead by, or even has to rely on, outside advisors.

Comment: Here is a case for the Internet of things (Score 2) 533

by mbone (#49505153) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

But the rooftop systems are "essentially invisible to us," says Ching, "because they sit behind a customer's meter and we don't have a means to directly measure them."

Yes, you do.

Here is a business model for you: pay a low rate for electricity from sources you can't monitor, pay full* rate for electricity where you put a little Internet of Things gizomo on the line to measure (or even control) output from the source. You could even get the homeowners to pay for the gizmo out of future revenue.

* Yes, I know "full rate" also has its problems, but it'll get set somehow and the point is only IoT installed houses will get that rate.

Comment: Re:Errors versus public debate (Score 1) 117

by mbone (#49479159) Attached to: Hubble and the VLT Uncover Evidence For Self-Interacting Dark Matter

You should look into MOND.

"Dark matter" as an effect is very well established. It is a sign of a failure in our models of physics. That failure could be in the microphysics (thus, various particle models, such as WIMPs), or in the macrophysics (i.e., in general relativity, the model for gravity, which is modified by theories such as MOND).

Now, as it happens, these sorts of galaxy cluster collision observations are probably the strongest test of MOND type theories - it is hard to see how a failure of gravity would get separated from the matter causing the gravity. MOND is not yet firmly ruled out, but it does look a lot less plausible.

Comment: Re:Property of Dark Matter (Score 1) 117

by mbone (#49478927) Attached to: Hubble and the VLT Uncover Evidence For Self-Interacting Dark Matter

WIMPs are actually an old explanation of dark matter, probably on the way out unless LHC can pull out a supersymmetric particle in their new run.

In any case, WIMPs only interact through the weak interaction, so it is generally assumed that these "self-interacting" particles are not WIMPs, but some new form of SIDM.

Comment: Re:20 years late (Score 1) 47

by mbone (#49427231) Attached to: Distance of a Microlensing Event Measured For the First Time

I broke the rules and RTFA, this is the first time that they have managed to combine an Earth-based observation and a space-based one separated by far enough from each other to give a reasonably accurate baseline for an accurate measurement of both distance and mass. From the article:

Calculations estimated it to be 10,200 (+/- 1,300) light-years away. . . These observations also allowed the mass of the object to be measured — around 0.23 solar masses

Not quite. If you read further, you see that the key word is that it is first for a "isolated" (i.e., single) star. Dong et al. did this in 2007, but for a binary star.

I must sat that I dislike "firstitis," both in science and on Slashdot. However, these are not easy measurements and this is still quite an accomplishment.

Comment: 20 years late (Score 3, Interesting) 47

by mbone (#49424233) Attached to: Distance of a Microlensing Event Measured For the First Time

This is known as microlensing parallax, and was first done 1995. Parallax breaks lensing degeneracies, enabling the determination of distance,

Now, you may quibble about this particular distance measurement, but it's been done for 20 years now. Routinely. And, yes, its been done from space before too.

My guess is that some needed qualifiers were lost between the astronomer's mouth and the headline writers keyboard, but it ain't first.

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