Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

11 February 2016

NOAA Fudges Temperatures in My Backyard to Bolster Failed Man-Made Warming Hypothesis

Tony Heller at Real Science has once again shown how our federal government through NOAA has provided a faked data plausibility for the failed catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis.  This example of NOAA data fudging is from my own backyard.  It is amazing what can be done to take advantage of very local urban heat island (UHI) effects.  Having taken advantage of UHI, NOAA then adds further corrections to temperature measurements to lower those of the past, when population densities were generally lower, instead of lowering recent measurements to compensate for increasing UHI contributions to present temperatures.  I wrote a post long ago showing that rural temperature measurements showed no significant temperature increase for a long time.

Of course, since the "settled", "consensus" physics said to cause carbon dioxide to warm the surface of the Earth is wrong, it is hardly surprising that the many special interests dependent upon the catastrophic man-made global warming fraud are manufacturing data to hide the lack of warming in the last 18 years.  It is disgusting that many scientists are active participants in this fraud.

Unconstitutional Rule by Bureaucracy

There is an excellent article by John Yoo and Dean Reuter at AEI on this subject.  I think it is instructive, but not surprising given the general incompetence of our federal government, that there is no authoritative list of all the rule-producing government agencies.  This fits in very well with the fact that the federal government has no authoritative accounting of its assets.  It is not even clear that it knows who it employs.  Yet this unaccountable government expects individuals and companies to be much more accountable than it is.  It is the old "Do as I say, not as I do." rule.  This is the unaccountable, unconstitutional power that adds 80,000 pages of rules and regulations a year that everyone of us is expected to read, study, interpret, check on court interpretations, and find ways to obey in our lives.

Did you do your duty as a peon under this system of governance?  If not, wouldn't you be better off if you required the legislative body, our Congress, to be the sole source of binding rules which we must obey.  Of course, that would not be sufficient either given that our elected representatives cannot be bothered to read the laws they vote for.  We must make them pass a law that no legislative representative may vote for a law they have not read.

10 February 2016

Educating Students Around the World in Materials Analysis and Characterization

In addition to my writings on this blog, I have written most of the content for my materials analysis laboratory, Anderson Materials Evaluation, Inc.  That website consists of nearly 80 pages of information about the laboratory, materials analysis techniques, applications of materials characterization to a wide range of materials to make better use of materials and better products, information about the industries, companies, universities, and governmental agencies we support, and background and specialization information about our scientists.

AME's Dr. Kevin Wepasnick is a home brew-master. He recently collaborated with C&EN, a publication of the American Chemical Society, to make a helium beer. Helium actually is soluble in beer, gives it a very fine head, and maintains a very rich and creamy taste. But it has a much lower solubility than carbon dioxide does and does not create the carbonic acid that CO2 does. Carbonic acid gives beer a sharper taste.  Consequently, helium beer is quite flat.  Because the solubility of helium is very low, Kevin used a much higher pressure of helium in the brewing process. Due to that high pressure, much of the brewing was performed in our laboratory at Anderson Materials Evaluation using higher pressure hardware than is used for the usual carbon dioxide beer. See the C&EN video at www.andersonmaterials.com/beer.  Note the remark that our AME logo is Tight!



An incredible number of students are coming to our website to learn about analytical techniques and materials characterization. In just the last week, about 100 university internet users came to our website. Visitors came from Stanford, Cal Tech, MIT, Yale, Dartmouth, Cornell, the Universities of Massachusetts, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, Wisconsin, Colorado, Ohio State, Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, Cal Poly, UCLA, UC at Davis, Oregon State, Michigan State, U. of Rochester, RIT, Case Western Reserve U., Georgia Tech, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Kent State, SUNY at Potsdam, Lehigh, Arizona State, Missouri U. of Sci. & Tech., Carnegie Mellon, U. of Pittsburgh, Northeastern U., UMBC, George Mason U., Purdue U., Washington State, and many more have visited in the last week.  Visitors from McGill, U. of Toronto, U. of Alberta, U. of Calgary, and other colleges in Canada visited the AME website.

In the United Kingdom, Oxford, Cambridge, and the Universities of Strathclyde, Sheffield, Southhampton, Northhampton, Windsor, Reading, Bath, Leeds, and Birmingham have provided visitors. In the rest of Europe: Uppsala U., Ecole de technologie superieure, U. of Ulm, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz U. Hannover, Picardie U., U. of Mons, Flinders U., U. College of Dublin, Waterloo U., U. Libre de Bruxelles, and others have visited. Many South American, Middle Eastern, African, Indian, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese university visitors have also been to our website in the last week. AME is certainly doing its part to educate the world in materials science and engineering!

05 February 2016

The Aggressive Maryland Ban on "Assault" Firearms Must Defend Itself Again

The Maryland law banning 45 types of firearms as assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was ruled constitutional in a lower court ruling, despite the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.  The U. S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has now ruled in a 2-1 decision written by Chief Judge William B. Traxler Jr. that the lower court ruling must be based on a more stringent legal standard.  The Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, Democrat, helped to pass the law when he was a state senator.  He remains an ardent supporter of the arms ban.  He claims it is just common sense that the 2nd Amendment does not give people a right to own military-style assault weapons.

Assault weapons by name imply an intention to use the weapon in an offensive, rather than a defensive, manner.  Yet, in any fight for one's life, the fight will tend to oscillate back and forth between defense and offense.  Yes, one may be defending one's home and family, but to do so one cannot simply block blow after blow and expect that one will be forever successful in blocking the next blow.  At some point, one has to find an instant to move to the offensive and deliver a knock-out blow to end the contest.  The sooner this is accomplished, the less the threat to one's loved ones and values.  The Democrats never seem to understand this.

There is no clear distinction between an assault and a defensive weapon.  There is also no clear distinction between a military weapon and a defensive weapon.  The dissenting judge on the Appeals Court decision, Robert B. King, claimed the Maryland law banning assault weapons banned "exceptionally lethal weapons of war."  Now I ask you, what other kind of weapon would you want to have while defending your family and home?  A pocket knife with a 3-inch blade is not sufficient to the task of protecting one's values.  Morally, how can it be wrong to defend your family and home with the best tools available for doing so?

When the 2nd Amendment was approved by the states of the new Republic and became effective on 15 December 1791, many Americans lived on the frontier and were under frequent threat of attack by Indians or even the British who still occupied Canada and various forts in the Midwest (then the Northwest), despite the Ohio Territory having been ceded to the Americans by the 1783 Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolutionary War.  The Northwest Indian War, also called Little Turtle's War, lasted from 1785 - 1795, with the British supplying weapons to the Indians.  Not so long after, the British and their Indian allies launched a brutal attack upon the Americans in the War of 1812.  Throughout this period, it was clearly a common sense necessity that many an American must arm himself with the best weapons of war he could afford.  Those weapons were not necessarily any different than those used by the meager official armed forces of the federal government.  The common American could own the best musket and the best rifle available.  A few even owned cannons.  Some shipowners owned rather heavily armed sailing ships.  The right to do so was then protected by the 2nd Amendment.

The Maryland law banning so-called assault weapons was opposed in court by a group of gun store owners and individuals who claim the prohibited firearms are not military weapons.  I consider this a concession that should not be made.  The military and individuals use weapons, and may do so on a moral basis, to protect persons and property.  There is no rational reason to deny individuals a weapon simply because it might be used by the military.  The only reason to deny an individual the use of a weapon is if the individual has used a weapon to initiate harm to others, has threatened others with initiated force, or has shown a well-established inability to act rationally.

Yes, there are weapons that one may not be likely to need to defend one's home and family.  Bazookas and tanks are not likely to be useful, unless one lives very near the Mexican border and has to protect one's ranch from drug and human traffickers.  Some individuals may simply think it is cool to restore a WWII tank.  That seems a very reasonable hobby to me.  There is surely nothing in the 2nd Amendment, the conditions of the period when it was added to the Constitution by the people, or in basic rational morality that argues against individuals arming themselves with the best weapons they may choose to own.

There are some weapons which may be prohibited to individuals.  For instance, weaponized anthrax or corrosive nerve gases are simply be too dangerous for even well-intended people to handle and preserve without endangering others.  They are dangerous enough that anyone who did want to own them would fall into the category of being unable to behave rationally and in so doing, posing a threat to others. It is very difficult for even a large organization, such as the military, to handle such weapons safely.  In fact, the U.S. military does not even use them when they have them because they are too dangerous to use.



03 February 2016

Prof. Walter E. Williams on Education and Guns

Prof. Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University, has written two thoughtful columns this month.  One is on education, with some emphasis on the education of black Americans, and one is on guns, which are treated as though they are evil, though bombers are treated as the source of evil rather than bombs.  These columns may be read here.

30 January 2016

Supporting the Open Evaluation of NOAA Scientists' Scientific Claims of Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming


I am one of the scientists who has signed the following letter to Representative Lamar Smith, Chairman of the Science, Space and Technology Committee of Congress.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency of the federal government, has refused to share the scientific data which NOAA scientists have used to adjust the surface temperature records of the Earth.  This is a clear violation of federal law and it is a clear thumbing of the noise by NOAA of representative government.  Rep. Lamar Smith is simply trying to perform due diligence in evaluating data and scientific methods being used to justify drastic governmental regulations.  There is very substantial evidence that much of the surface temperature record has been fudged to support the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis.  NOAA is unwilling to submit its scientific claims to critical and rational scientific evaluation.

The letter in support of exposing this NOAA data and scientific methodology to open examination was signed by 300 scientists and follows:






January 8, 2016

Chairman Lamar Smith
Committee on Science, Space and Technology
House of Representatives
Congress of the United States

Dear Chairman Smith,

We, the undersigned, scientists, engineers, economists and others, who have looked carefully into the effects of carbon dioxide released by human activities, wish to record our support for the efforts of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology to ensure that OMB and NOAA guidelines for Peer Review for Influential Scientific Information and Highly Influential Scientific Assessment are followed by federal agencies.

We remind you that controversy previously arose over EPA’s apparent failure to comply with these guidelines in connection with its Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding, which was the subject of a report by the EPA Office of the Inspector General in 2011, see http://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/20110926-11-p-0702.pdf and contemporary discussion http://climateaudit.org/2011/10/04/epa-the-endangerment-finding-was-not-a-highly-influential-scientific-assessment/.  In that case, EPA had not complied with peer review requirements for a “highly influential scientific assessment” and argued that the Greenhouse Gas Endangerment Finding was not a “highly influential” scientific assessment.  If it wasn’t, then it’s hard to imagine what would be.

In our opinion, NOAA ought to have observed the OMB (and its own) guidelines for peer review of “influential scientific information” and “highly influential scientific assessments” in respect to  Karl et al 2015 and its associated data.  But NOAA seems not to have done this.

We urge you to focus on these important compliance issues. For your consideration we attach a draft letter which directly connects these issues to your committee’s prior request for documents.

Sincerely,


More context for this letter is provided in this Daily Caller article.



12 December 2015

One Person, One Vote?

The Supreme Court just heard a case on Tuesday, Evenwel v. Abbott, over whether state legislative districts must equalize the number of voters or the number of people.  The particular state in this case is Texas, where districts are apportioned by number of people and where the number of voters per district then differs greatly in some cases.

One person, one vote sounds nice -- until you give it some thought.  Of course children are persons, but we exclude them from voting.  Non-citizens are also not supposed to vote, though many do in some districts, especially those controlled by the Democratic Party.  Many people though eligible to become voters do not register to vote.  Many people who are registered to vote skip many or some elections.  There simply is no sense in which one person gets one vote and one share of representation.  There is no feasible way to achieve any such outcome in the future.

The Constitution originally handled the problem this way:
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and Excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
Consequently, districts for the House of Representatives were equalized for the total number of people, excluding untaxed Indians and two-fifths of slaves.  The free Persons included non-citizens.  The idea at the time was that those men eligible to vote would represent all men with insufficient property to vote, children, women, non-citizens, those bound to service for a term of years, and all slaves.

The 14th Amendment changed the apportionment for the House Districts by only excluding Indians not taxed.  It went on to punish states that denied the right to vote to male citizens of 21 years of age or older by reducing the House representation in proportion to their numbers in ratio to the total number of male citizens 21 years of age and older.  The idea was still clearly that male citizens of 21 years or older would represent all women and all non-citizens.

But how should the House Districts properly be set up?  By extension, how should state legislative districts be set up?  Is it reasonable to assume that those who vote are trying and able to represent the good of those who cannot or will not vote when they cast their vote?  These are substantive questions.  It is not unreasonable for fairly reasonable people to disagree on the answers.

At the time the 14th Amendment was written, it was considered that House Districts should be apportioned in accordance with the number of voters or eligible voters.  That idea was shot down immediately when Representative James Blaine, Republican of Maine, examined the census data and found that since the ratio of men to women was much higher in Western states than in the Eastern states, the Eastern states would lose massive representation if it were based on the number of voters or eligible voters.  Women could not vote, but they were valuable for inflating the numbers of persons for representation, much as slaves had been in the South in the past.

It is now easy for all citizens of age to vote.  Despite this, in many areas very low fractions of the citizens chose to vote.  They are either not sufficiently interested or they are so infused with a sense of futility that they see no point in voting.  Should uninterested people or those so infused with a sense of doom and futility be given representation that they will not use? 

In most cases, such uninterested or futility-bound voters especially occupy highly Democrat districts.  So many Progressive Elitist Democrats believe such non-participating voters or potential voters should be represented because they, the Progressive Elitists, will cast their votes in the interest of the apathetic or doomed-in-futility persons.  Yet these same Progressive Elitists have long claimed to be doing this, especially to minimize economic inequality.  Nonetheless, the Congressional Districts with the worst economic inequality are almost exclusively Democratic and have been for decades.  Clearly, the Progressive Elitist voters, who do vote in high percentages, either do not actually vote to reduce economic inequality or they do so with a complete misunderstanding of the consequences of their votes.  They are clearly horrible at representing the interests of the less educated and less inclined to vote people in their districts.

In general, people who vote either vote their own interest or they vote for the interests of others without actually understanding their interests.  Let us be realists and recognize the facts and human nature.  People barely able to motivate themselves to vote rarely have any understanding of the legitimate role of government, the important political issues of the time, the principles of the candidates, and the manner in which new laws and regulations will affect our futures.  In the era of
Big Government these issues are often much more complex than they were in the past in America.

We should also note that it is clear that people are not good at representing the interests of children.  We see this in the miserable public education system we have, in the huge national debt, in the terrible future liabilities of Social Security and Medicare, and the complete disregard for the effect of compounded economic growth rates on the standard of living of Americans 30 or 40 years from now.  Few voters weigh the future enough to look to future outcomes.  Consequently, they are nearly worthless as representatives of the interests of today's children.

House districts, both federal and state, should simply be apportioned on the basis of the number of voters in the last several elections, assuming they do not exceed the number of eligible voters as they do in some Democrat districts.  This apportions representation according to the numbers of citizens of age to vote who actually have an interest in government.  Yes, many of them will not understand the issues and the consequences of their votes either, but this is the one form in which One Person, One Vote is actually achievable in the form of One Voter, One Vote.

Adding to the weight on political outcomes of those districts with higher voter turn-out is likely to raise the quality of the People's Voice about as high as one can accomplish by any means except an improved education system or other educational efforts.  If the reward in political outcomes is greater for those who already care enough to vote, perhaps they will make a greater effort in the future to think about their votes.  These more thoughtful voters then may even realize a bit greater responsibility not to do harm to others, including those others who do not care to vote.  But realistically, one will be giving a greater voting weight to those who are voting for the interests of those they know best, themselves and perhaps their immediate family and friends.  That is not a bad thing.  Most great wrongs are done when people vote or act for others they do not even know, or when they pretend to do so.

How might one determine the number of voters for these district apportionment purposes?  How about the last four elections in the previous decade with re-apportionment occurring once a decade?  It would be nice if one could just make this the last four elections, but the re-districting effort and battles would be too much.  As for why four elections, the fluctuations in voter turn-out are great, especially the differences between Presidential elections and those when voting on the President does not occur.  The last four elections will include two presidential and two non-presidential elections.  It will include elections when no vote was up in the state for Senator in Congress.  It is a good number to average out, though it may slightly lag overall population shifts.  I would gladly live with that population shift lag for the many benefits of One Voter, One Vote, One Share of Representation.

As for state legislative districts, a variety of formulas are fairly reasonable and determining what formula to use should be left up to the states.  Only very unreasonable state decisions should be corrected by the Supreme Court.  Among the unreasonable apportionments would be those that count non-citizens.  Perhaps counting citizen children should also be considered unreasonable, though I am less adamant about this than about the non-citizen count.

Which brings up the need to also tackle the problem of ineligible voters casting ballots as another aspect of the voter representation problem.

08 December 2015

On Prohibiting Guns to Those on the No Fly List

The No Fly List is an often incompetently compiled list which does not follow the judicial procedures that are a necessary protection of individual rights.  It denies individuals the right to travel by air with the false claim that one does not have a right to travel by air.  It is claimed that travel is just a privilege which government can revoke at its whim.

This is not true.  The right to travel is a very fundamental right.  Just as no one has the obligation to provide us with happiness, no one is obliged to enable our travel.  But, no one is justified in preventing our traveling with the use of force or the threat of force so long as we do so without hurting anyone else.  Before one's right to travel can be abridged, there must be a judicial determination that one has a history of initiating the use of force or that one has plans to do so. 

The right to bear arms is an explicitly guaranteed right in our Bill of Rights.  The Second Amendment to the Constitution specifically recognizes this right to own arms.  Obama's call to prevent the sale of arms and the possession of arms to those on the No Fly List is highly irrational.  I am sure it seems to make sense to many Americans, but it does not.

Only those who have established felony histories can be denied their Second Amendment right to bear arms.  This means those who are deprived of their gun rights have been first evaluated by our judiciary as a reasonable threat to others should they be allowed to own a gun.  But note what Obama is doing to undermine this basic right guaranteed in our Bill of Rights:  He is denying this right on the basis of a list made in denial of a travel right without a proper judicial review of those denied this right.  In his own terms, he is using the revocation of what he calls a privilege to justify the revocation of an individual right protected in our Bill of Rights.  The downgrade of our travel rights is being used as a basis to downgrade a right protected in our Constitution.

Even in the Articles of Confederation, the right to travel from one state to another was recognized.  Many court cases decided under the Constitution have also recognized this right to travel.  Yet since 9/11, this right has been denied, especially in air travel.  Now we see once again how the violation of one right is used to justify the violation of another individual right.


Obama Nonsense on Islam and Its Claim to Freedom of Religion

In his speech Sunday night, Obama claimed that those who use violence as a means to advance Islam are practicing a perverted form of Islam.  Since Islam is essentially a religion that obligates its believers to emulate Mohammad's life practices and Mohammad used violence and terror to advance his religion, it is nonsense to claim that people who believe they are using violence and terror to advance Islam are practicing a perverted form of Islam.  In the context of Islam, they are not radical, however radical they are as human beings.

Yes, most people who think of themselves as Muslims are not themselves violent in their practice of the religion.  Many are good people.  Nonetheless, those of us who are not practicing Islam have often observed that far too few Muslims are openly critical of those who use violence or terror to advance the religion.  Well, there is a very logical reason why Muslims do not offer such criticism as much as good people should.  They cannot criticize the present-day advocates of violence against non-Muslims without making an implied criticism of Mohammad himself for using violence and terror to spread his religion.  They must be silent.  Their silence is in some part due to fear, but it is also due to the fundamental beliefs of the religion itself.  Many of those Muslims who do not themselves use force to make others observe Islam make "charitable" contributions to organizations that advocate or actually use force for that purpose.

Contrary to Obama's claim that we owe Muslims all of the rights we usually allow people under the freedom of religion, we do not owe this religious freedom to any religion that advocates the use of force to make others practice that religion.  Freedom of religion, as with all freedom of conscience, has to have a foundation in the prohibition of the use of force against others as a means to practice the religion.   Given that prohibition of force, we can and should allow others their freedom of conscience, even as we claim the exercise of our own freedom of conscience.

Given that Islam is in essence the emulation of Mohammad, we can very reasonably ask if Mohammad were alive today, would we allow him to enter the United States?  I would not allow him in.  He is much too dangerous, too violent, and too committed to terrorism.  Neither would I allow those who followed his commands to commit violence against non-believers to enter the U.S.  In doing so, I would not be in violation of anyone's legitimate claim of freedom of religion.  I would be protecting most Americans from violence.

13 November 2015

An Ignorant Petition to Further Impoverish the Poor

With the international conference on Man-Induced Global Warming coming up soon in Paris, there is a petition circulating to support government efforts to suppress the use of inexpensive and reliable fossil fuels.  Here is the petition with my comments in blue added to it:

World leaders are coming together this year for climate talks in Paris. Their decisions affect all of us.  Darned, pesky nuisances these interfering world leaders are.  With most of the nations of the world having weak economies and too little respect for individual rights, these leaders are looking for ways to divert our attention from the many ways they get in our way, by getting in our way in the name of a scare based on a failed catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis.
Climate change is dramatically changing the world we love. It’s putting our homes, our land and our food at risk. For nearly a billion people in poverty, more extreme weather and more disasters mean more hunger.  Climate has always changed.  Sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse.  But, the world climate has actually been relatively stable for the last 10,000 years and there is evidence that that has yet changed.  Man minimizes the consequences of climate change by using such resources as fossil fuels to make his home comfortable, manufacture products, and travel about to do productive work and transport his production to markets where people live better because of those products.  These private sector activities help us all to cope with the ancient vagaries of weather and climate.

Make 2015 the year leaders put the world’s most vulnerable people first in the battle against climate change.  So let them have the least expensive energy for transportation, light, and heat.  They will only become more vulnerable with skyrocketing energy prices, such as those advocated by Obama, his chief science advisor Holdren, and his Secr. of Energy.

If governments and big businesses are serious about fighting poverty, we need heads of state to make decisions in Paris that show support for the people whose lives and livelihoods are most at risk. These leaders have the power to start taking bold action on emissions, and to start to fix the damage that’s already been done.  Only there is no evidence that any damage has been done.  Rising CO2 concentrations do seem to be making plants grow better, which is only bad to these people because they think there are too many people on Earth and some of these Progressive Elitists want to see many of the poor die, because they believe man is the enemy of nature.  Their war to save nature is their war against man.

Millions of people across the world are already doing incredible things to protect the world we love. The fight against climate change won’t end this year but together we can win some important battles.  People in the most advanced societies that use the most fossil fuels are the ones who do the most to protect the world we love.

Show our governments and big business that they’ve got to take urgent action to tackle climate change, and stand with those hit first and worst by extreme weather and disasters.  Yes, tell them to leave private companies alone, so they can concentration on delivering inexpensive energy which is available when people need it.
 Make 2015 the year leaders stand with those hardest hit by climate change.  Yes, convince these leaders to stop meddling with our energy.

World leaders are playing mercilessly on the ignorance of the people with their tireless media, education, and political campaigns to convince them that any weather change is a fundamental threat to their existence and well-being caused by those bad human beings.  What I see are bad politicians, bad educators, and misleading and wrongheaded media.

03 November 2015

Helium-Pressurized Homebrew Beer at AME Featured in C&EN Article

Our own Anderson Materials Evaluation (AME) chemist Dr. Kevin Wepasnick guided a Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN) investigation of the properties of a helium-pressurized beer in an article entitled Helium Beer, From Prank to Tank in its 2 November 2015 issue written by Craig Bettenhausen.  C&EN is a publication of the American Chemical Society.  Kevin brewed a 5-gallon batch of a cream stout beer for C&EN over a two-week fermentation period at Anderson Materials Evaluation, Inc. with writers from C&EN visiting our laboratory at the start and the end of the process.  He used a kegging process, but instead of pressurizing the keg with carbon dioxide, he pressurized it with helium.  The experiment was set up to test the claims that drinking a helium-pressurized beer would cause the drinker to speak with a high-pitched voice, as demonstrated in some on-line videos.

Scientifically, issues are to be expected.  Foremost is the difference between a polar molecule with excellent solvent properties such as carbon dioxide and the inert gas helium.  Carbon dioxide has a solubility in water of 1.7 g/kg, while helium has a solubility of merely 0.0015 g/kg in water!  It would be a challenge to dissolve enough helium in a beer to turn a drinker's voice squeaky!  Kevin pressurized the keg at 50 psi in a chilled keg, which is a much higher pressure than is used with carbon dioxide, and he held it at this pressure for five days.

The resulting beer had an excellent head of very fine bubbles, which it maintained as the visiting three writers from C&EN and the scientists of Anderson Materials Evaluation, Lorrie, Kevin, and Charles, sampled the beer at our laboratory.  Because the beer had little carbonic acid in it, it was a mellow beer.  The alcohol by volume was measured to be 6.2%, so it had a kick.  Yet, the beer was definitely flat and no one developed a high-pitched voice.  The Internet videos claiming such a result are fabricated!  Can you imagine that?



Well, yes, thinking as a scientist, the more than a thousand times lower solubility of inert helium in water compared to the highly polar carbon dioxide molecule, told us those videos were faked prior to doing the experiment.  Nonetheless, the experiment was fun for all, which is more the natural state of science than is the gloom and doom associated with much environmental science of our times.


01 November 2015

NASA Finally Agrees that Antarctic Ice has Long been Increasing

A NASA paper published in the Journal of Glaciology found that Antarctic ice has long been increasing in agreement with many other studies, but in disagreement with the UN IPCC report of 2013.  Its main conclusions are:
  • The Antarctic ice sheet had net gains in ice of 112 billion tons per year from 1992 to 2001.
  • Antarctic ice from 2003 to 2008 had a net gain of 82 billion tons per year.
  • Extra snowfall in East Antarctica began about 10,000 years ago as the Earth warmed after the last Ice Age and this snowfall thickened the East Antarctic and the interior regions of the West Antarctic by 1.7 cm/year.  This accumulation over vast expanses more than offsets the melting of ice on the West Antarctic peninsula which gets so much publicity.
  • The increased ice in Antarctica is now acting to reduce sea levels by 0.23 mm/year.
One of the more interesting observations on this data is that the global warming due to the end of the last Ice Age caused more snowfall in Antarctica, which serves to counterbalance the rise in sea level due to the thermal expansion of water in a warmer world.  This is one of many ways in which the Earth moderates climate changes.

The findings of this study were the result of more accurate measurements of the small thickening of the ice in most of Antarctica from satellite measurements, with the exception of the ice core investigations by others that indicated the increase in snowfall beginning 10,000 years ago.  It would not be surprising if the application of these satellite analysis methods to Greenland were to find that previous claims of large ice losses there were also wrong.  It is easy to observe large glaciers calving into the ocean while missing the slow increases of ice thickness over much larger areas.