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Thursday, October 06, 2011

Climate change and the velocity of light

"Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein's theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth's atmosphere." Robert Bryce, "Five Truths About Climate Change," Wall Street Journal, October 6, 2011.

I am not a climatologist. Neither is Mr. Bryce, according to the Wikipedia article on him. But, like him, I want to enter the discussion on global climate change.


Bryce refers to a recent experimental result, which may mean that some neutrinos travel may travel faster than the velocity of light. Bryce correctly notes that this result has not been confirmed. But I believe that he has compared apples and oranges.

The theory of relativity (actually, there are two of these, both due to Einstein) is a theory. That is, it is a group of ideas that attempts to explain the way things are. As I understand it, the evidence for global climate change is not theoretical, but, rather, is data, collected over a number of years, and Bryce is questioning the evidence -- the data, not a theory.

Scientists have frequently made mistakes. One kind of mistake is working with an inadequate theory. Another is experimental errors -- equipment malfunctions, for example. Usually, science is self-correcting. A better theory is proposed. Someone tries to repeat the data collection, and finds experimental errors. I don't think that either of these has occurred as relates to global climate change, at least not on a large scale. I think Bryce is wrong.

Thanks for reading.

2 comments:

atlibertytosay said...

Would you not agree that some global warming data is derived from improperly compared cyclical weather patterns and sun activity?

Would you also agree that there could be some effects from our orbit both in our solar system and through the Milky Way AND travel through the universe?

From what I've read solar activity has dramatically increased in the last 2 years and will climax next year - some time around the December solstice ~ coincidentally ( and only coincidentally I believe) in line with the Mayan calendar hoopla.

I attribute a lot of global warming to cycles.

I attribute man with ruining the environment during this same cycle.

Martin LaBar said...

I'm not sure about your first question -- I'm not a climatologist.

There could be.

The data show that CO2 has increased quite a bit lately, almost certainly at least in part due to human activity. When Rick Perry was asked about this matter, he said he doubted the scientific evidence, but could not name a single scientist that supported his doubt.

Yes, we've ruined the environment. (As you indicate, on a small scale, in your other comment.)

Thanks.