president and other pontificating politicians - particularly, it seems, those who hold college degrees in
non-science realms - have recently taken to referring to anyone who does not hold their points of view as "Flat
Earthers" and anti-science. BTW, these are the same people who regularly chastise their opponents for name-calling
and uncivil discourse. So, if to them others are anti-science, then they obviously deem themselves to be
pro-science. Would you consider a person who laments the invention of the ATM machine because it replaces bank
tellers or a ticket kiosk at the airport for robbing counter clerks pro- or anti-science? What about people who
prefer to cripple society with a blinders-on approach to energy production by insisting on using "renewable"
sources while ignoring advances in fossil and nuclear power sources? Excuse me for getting all sciency[sic] on
them, but how is any form of energy production "renewable?" Once energy is extracted from wind, sunlight, or
water, can that spent energy be used again for something else? Of course not; that energy is converted into
electrical energy so it NOT RENEWABLE!!! Unless a wind generator has 0% efficiency (i.e., no electricity
produced), its blades slow the air by robbing it of kinetic energy. Air exits the blades at a lower speed,
possessing less energy.
Yes, you might be able to argue that the energy in the wind is "renewed" in the
form of electricity, but so also is the energy in the nucleus of an atom renewed in the form of electricity when
fissioned or fused, and the latent energy in coal is renewed in the form of electricity when burned. Call it
"clean energy," but it is NOT renewable - that is clear ignorance and/or denial of science.
popular proof of evidence of anti-science-ness is not bowing to the altar of algae. I do a lot of reading on
alternative energy production forms, and wholeheartedly support the research into all of it (yes ALL of it),
including the use of taxpayer money to help fund it... as long as it is not clearly a scam. In fact, I support
most forms of pure research into everything (especially by students since it teaches experimentation skills) even
if it is something I have no interest in so long as it is legitimate. I do not, for example, condone governments
funding research with an agenda, like paying for junk science in order to support an argument against law-abiding
citizens owing firearms when unbiased studies show that society is actually safer and freer when those same
citizens keep and bear arms. Alas, though, I digress. The argument made by the scientifically ignorant is that
holy algae is a great way to reduce or eliminate the need for fossil fuels; i.e., oil. The morons don't seem to
realize that algae also produces the byproducts of petroleum refineries only in a matter of days rather than
millennia. That's right, the stuff that comes out the the tailpipe of an algae machine is oil. In order to use
that oil to produce energy, it has to be burned. Burning produces hydrocarbons in the air - the same kind as
processed petroleum! If you want to produce electricity or move a car with it, you still have to murder the air.
Today, a break-even process has not been found, but we're close. You have to get a lot of energy out to offset the
energy and pollution caused in growing, reaping, and transporting all the switch grass, corn stalks, animal offal,
etc., used in processing.
I doubt any amount of true scientific evidence for or against Global Warming will
ever convince the religiously devout adherent of either side's well-established dogma. It probably is
insignificant, but a few years ago after a marked decrease in solar activity, when the temperatures across the
Earth began declining, the name was conveniently changed to "Climate Change," a phrase totally devoid of meaning
since climate is always changing. Yes, climate is a long-term trend versus weather being a short-term phenomenon,
but since records have been kept, cyclic cooling and warming has always followed the 11-year sunspot cycle. But
hey, that's just my pro-science side talking. Personally, I think that local temperatures are undeniably affected
by human activity (i.e., anthropogenic) in high density population centers, but the Earth as a whole seems to have
a way of evening it all out over the long term. Volcanoes have nasty habit of spewing crap into the upper
atmosphere, blanketing the Earth from some sunlight with an attendant drop in global temps for a while - sometimes
for many years. Oceans warm and evaporate at higher rates creating more cloud cover with a resulting reflection of
sunlight back into space.
Self-proclaimed pro-science types (as opposed to those dangerous anti-science
types) like to champion the upside of their chosen cause célèbre while ignoring the downside ramifications. One of
the best examples is the proliferation and ubiquity of electronic devices - from cellphones to plasma TVs to
electric vehicles to LED light bulbs. I appreciate all of the great stuff, but also acknowledge the consequences
of having it all, like the poor souls worldwide who labor in extremely hazardous environments in order to produce
the raw materials that go into the production of all these things, and then the many other men, women and children
that expose themselves to toxic smoke and chemicals in the process of reclaiming components and metals in trade
for a bowl of rice or a handful of wheat. The hypocrites are the same ones who launch boycotts against clothing
manufacturers that exploit workers in third-world countries while having a closet full of the company's products.
Recall all the OWS'ers with trendy garb (albeit filthy) and the latest iPhone.
Science extends beyond the
physical sciences to including social science, economic science, behavioral science, etc. If you choose to ignore
or dismiss any type of science, even that which studies and reports on the human condition, does not that make you
anti-science? The worst kinds of pro-science grandstanders are those who denigrate others as anti-science while
they themselves are as guilty as those being accused. It's called hypocrisy - like regularly wolfing down greasy
hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes while being in bed with others who tell everyone else to eat carrots.
International Flat Earth Research Society (aka
Flat Earth Society) founder Samuel Shenton famously
dismissed direct observational proof of a spherical Earth by arguing, "Would sailing round the Isle of Wight prove
that it were spherical? It is just the same for those satellites." Those who so regularly impugn dissenting voices
as Flat Earthers have a lot more in common with Mr. Shenton than they might imagine.
These items are an archive of past Topical Smorgasbord items that have appeared on the RF Cafe homepage. In keeping with
the "cafe" genre, these tidbits of information are truly a smorgasbord of topics. They all pertain to topics
that are related to the general engineering and science theme of RF Cafe.
Please send me an e-mail
if you have
a good subject.