The mad ramblings of a scientist
September 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

There is no such thing as a "relativity drive"

Here is a really bad article in the New Scientist, pointed out by slashdot, which describes a thrust free drive.

Here is the scoop. Relatively theory does not allow you to violate conservation of momentum in any form. Thus, without even seeing the design or reading the paper, I know from first principles that this engine simply can not work. End of story.

I feel sorry for the inventor, who appears to really think he discovered something novel, and has spent a lot of time and effort on it. Presumably there is an effect he does not understand that is influencing tests of his prototype. For example, some force being transfered from his power source, or some resonant force being applied to something in the laboratory environment. Unfortunately, there is nothing to press against in deep space, and so this engine will simply fail if installed in a space craft.

Posted at: 11:33 PM
Categories: Physics in the news

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Nah, there's no face on mars

Here is the scoop from the ESA (as pointed out by Digg contributors).

It's quite natural that some people are so convinced that the original image includes a face. After all, as humans, we have a whole region of our brain designed specifically to recognize faces. And humans are so very good at finding patterns where none exist.

Of course, that doesn't prevent people from going overboard. Which is harmless fun I suppose. Until psuedo-intellectuals go overboard, as in this site from metaresearch claiming "Proof that the ... face on Mars is artificial." Oh boy, how long will it take for the embarrassed authors to take down their web site once the new images get distributed around the net? Or will they modify their "proof" accordingly? I can hardly wait to see!

Another web site I found is so comical, I really have to wonder if they are serious. But, yeah, it looks like they are. Hee hee.

Posted at: 10:15 PM
Categories: Physics in the news

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Philip Morris and Exxon, partners in misinformation

Here is something that was picked up by slashdot: if you are an evil cigarette company faced with overwhelming scientific evidence that your product is harmful, what do you do? Discredit the scientists of course, with gross misinformation. But how do you try to convince the public? Well, you invent a bunch of "grass roots" organizations whose sole purpose is to discredit the science you don't like. But you can't have these organizations just attack the science behind the ill effects of secondhand smoke, that would look suspicious. So toss in all sorts of other scientific findings, like global warming.

And why should Philip Morris pay for all of this disinformation by itself? Heck, get help from Exxon. After all, you are trying to discredit reports of global warming, right?

Even better! Get your republican friends at Fox News involved, and they will even present the views of your lackeys on their news show. Fox News can even pretend that the fictitious "grass roots" organizations you created are authentic and neglect to announce their connections with your company.

Play your cards right and even the dolts in the White house will go along. Anything to stay in power.

I mean, what the heck? It's not like we are talking about the future well being of the entire planet, are we?

Posted at: 10:59 PM
Categories: Diary, Physics in the news

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Why do people buy these things?

I bumped into an infomercial for the most comical device, the "light relief".

Get this. Someone attaches a few, very ordinary, one dollar `LED <>`_s to a simple flashing circuit and some batteries, puts it in a cheap plastic case, and then sells it as a wonderful new form of pain therapy. I bet the people behind this will make a small fortune. The ignorant are such suckers for these scam artists, and we have a limitless supply in this country.

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Posted at: 2:53 PM
Categories: Diary

Friday, September 08, 2006

Senator Inhofe, idiot of the year

Heh, well, I couldn't even make this stuff up. Here are some quotes from the distinguished senator from Oklahoma (I feel so embarassed for the good people of that state).

On morality:

As you see here, and I think this is maybe the most important prop weÙll have during the entire debate, my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. IÙm really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, weÙve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship. (from

Concerning Abu Ghraib:

The idea that these prisoners -- you know, they're not there for traffic violations. If they're in cell block 1A or 1B, these prisoners -- they're murderers, they're terrorists, they're insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands. And here we're so concerned about the treatment of those individuals. (from

On global warming:

Put simply, man induced global warming is an article of religious faith to the radical far left alarmists. (NOW transcript from

It kind of reminds ... I could use the Third Reich, the big lie ... You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that's their strategy. (Tulsa World excerpt from

Posted at: 12:14 AM
Categories: Diary