Tilting at Windmills | by Brian Koberlein



30 December 2014

Pseudoscientific nonsense.
Pierre-Marie Robitaille
Pseudoscientific nonsense.

Just a few years in the past I began running a blog about astronomy and astrophysics. My objective was two-fold. First, to speak as clearly as doable among the superb issues we all know concerning the universe. Previously few many years we’ve gained a deep understanding of astrophysics, and I needed to carry that to the final inhabitants. Second, to counter the hype and misconceptions always within the information. With the rise of ad-driven web sites, hottest science websites deal with outrageous headlines and copy-pasta press releases. Over time my effort has targeted on writing an unique publish on a regular basis, which I’ve been doing for greater than two years. By the top of this week I’ll have written 800 posts. Regardless of that, there are a lot of days the place it looks like I’m tilting at windmills.

Contemplate, for instance, the case of 1 Pierre-Marie Robitaille. Robitaille is a radiologist who round 2000 turned satisfied that physicists and astrophysicists have been significantly incorrect about fundamental physics. He believes that Kirchoff’s blackbody radiation regulation is incorrect, and in 2002 he took out a full web page advert within the New York Instances to advertise his concepts, as a result of his concept is “each too easy and surprising to face any likelihood of publication within the peer reviewed physics literature.”

Robitaille makes a number of wild claims about astrophysics. He claims that the cosmic microwave background isn’t because of the thermal remnant of the large bang, however reasonably as a result of microwaves mirrored off the floor of Earth’s oceans. He claims the Solar isn’t powered by nuclear fusion in its core, however is as a substitute a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen at 7 million levels. His work hasn’t been printed in refereed astrophysics journals, however has appeared in vixra (created to counter the elitist arxiv) and Progress in Physics, which is an alternate science journal.

Blackbody curve of the CMB.
Ned Wright
Blackbody curve of the CMB.

How do you start to counter such concepts? Properly, we might begin with the truth that the blackbody regulation has been confirmed experimentally in quite a few methods, or that the cosmic microwave background matches a thermal blackbody to excessive precision, or that stellar temperatures derived from the blackbody regulation match temperatures discovered by atomic line spectra. We might level out that the CMB has been noticed by satellites thousands and thousands of miles away from Earth, and aimed away from Earth’s floor, or that mirrored microwaves wouldn’t give a blackbody curve as a result of absorption bands in each water and Earth’s environment. You could possibly level out that his liquid-metal Solar mannequin depends upon thermal blackbodies to be unattainable, that his argument in favor of a liquid photosphere is that it appears liquid, and that his essential argument towards gravity-driven photo voltaic fusion is that the mannequin makes use of arithmetic.

A lot of you studying this may determine that Robitaille is so wildly incorrect that I shouldn’t even hassle making an attempt to counter his claims. I ought to simply reply with Eppur si muove! and get on with actual science. However then for many of you I’m preaching to the choir. I’m tilting at windmills, as a result of the nice debate isn’t occurring on blogs or within the refereed journals.

It’s occurring on YouTube.

An appealing video can be very convincing.YouTube
An interesting video could be very convincing.

Robitaille has been espousing his concepts for greater than a decade, however I began getting requests to think about his clearly great work when a chat of his was posted on YouTube. Followers of the electrical universe, for instance, flood my inbox with hyperlinks and calls for primarily based upon YouTube movies. The most important proponent of the electrical universe is the Thunderbolts Venture, which has over 200 movies, with thousands and thousands of views. The movies are clear, and argue in easy phrases that they’re proper, and hundreds of educated scientists are incorrect. And so they’re successful hearts and minds.

Making movies will not be one thing that’s been on the prime of my record. It’s a lot simpler to easily write weblog posts and hyperlink to refereed sources. But when anybody desires to assist make some movies, I’m able to get busy. I’ll do what I can to make issues extra interesting and accessible, as a result of the scientific positive factors we’ve made are too treasured to be drowned within the noise of slick pseudoscience.

And I’m uninterested in tilting at windmills.

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