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Iceberg takes on global warming

Of course, satellite coverage is so recent that we have no reasonable historical baseline for how long it takes for an iceberg to reach Macquarie Island:

Australian Antarctic Division researchers working on Macquarie Island, about 930 miles southeast of Tasmania, first saw the iceberg last Thursday [November 5, 2009] about 5 miles off the northwest coast of the island.

The iceberg, about 160 feet high and 1,640 feet long, is probably part of one of several larger icebergs that broke off Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf between 2000 and 2002, Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young said.


In 2000, several massive icebergs broke off from Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf and the Ronne Ice Shelf. The first iceberg was about 190 miles long and 23 miles wide. Those icebergs are now drifting away from Antarctica.
Was the tracking really so bad that it's not known when this iceberg launched?


I hear rumours the world has been getting colder for over a decade, just not in the right places. Is anyone actually talking about this in the USA?

No. The 2004 NASA simulation extrapolating empirical trends, documenting that increasing CO2 concentration in the troposphere (weather zone) both reduces stratospheric temperatures in the jet stream regime and generally intensifies the jet stream has been rather solidly suppressed.

I would be very unsurprised if average temperatures in parts of India were going down. The particulate pollution from biofuels is so extreme that it was measurably disrupting the monsoons as far back as 2003. (The reporting on MSNBC was weak, so I'm not clear what "reduction of sunlight intensity at ground level by 20%" means when the reference intensity reduction from free space to ground level is from ~1366W to ~1050W i.e. ~23.1%. )

The implementation of the monsoon disruption is that enough heat is being absorbed about 3-5 miles up to occasionally create a smog zone spanning several western Indian states: the unexpectedly hot air prevents historically normal winds from forming.

Unlike Los Angeles and similar cities in California, no mountains are needed to set this up.

More generally, what gets my attention is that if icebergs that far north are actually rare, one has to wonder how large an ice shelf fragment is needed to get an iceberg there. A sample size of one is not good for generalization.

Speculating...if even half the ice shelf size was required, that would take a lot of wind out of the panicky reaction to the 2000/2002 ice shelf breaks. (The largest one mentioned in the article is also the largest one in that time period. I'm not sure what an appropriate comparison with a U.K. political entity is for "190 miles long and 23 miles wide", but it's far larger than the U.S. state Rhode Island and would be a substantial chunk of either Vermont or New Hampshire.)

The short answer would be that it is almost a quarter the length of the whole British Isles. Sounds like it deserves to have generated its own micro climate!

It's a popular talking point. What people making that argument invariably fail to observe, is that the amount of noise in the temperature record superimposed on the long term trends (30+ years) can easily mask the trend over periods of a decade. If you set your heart to it, you can actually show that the global temperature has been falling for all of the following periods:
1969 - 1979
1980 - 1987
1987 - 1995
1995 - 2001
1998 - 2002
2002 - today
Here's the graph to prove it. I somehow doubt, the above is a proper description of the record ....

Very interesting; thank you.

My own approach would be to say that the earth has shown itself capable of varying more than this in times past for reasons that were clearly nothing to do with mankind. Such as : the mini ice age in the Middle Ages and the fact that during Britain's Roman period the climate in the north of England was Mediterranean - there were vineyards in York, which today would be impossible.

Thus I would ask, when the earth can do more than this all on its own, why should I suppose that it is just not doing something of the kind all over again? Or, even if this is manmade warming, what is the problem when it is within the range of things that the earth does anyhow?

there were vineyards in York, which today would be impossible.
Don't ever underestimate your fellow countrymen, a few Ladies and Gents may disagree with you. ;-) I was surprised myself, when it was pointed out to me for the first time.

  • Mount Pleasant Vineyard
    Mount Pleasant , Bolton Le Sands, Camforth, Lancs. LA5 8AD
  • Holmfirth Vineyard
    Woodhouse Farm, Woodhouse Lane, Holmbridge, Holmfirth HD9 2QR
  • Leventhorpe Vineyard
    Bullerthorpe Lane , Woodlesford, Leeds , West Yorkshire LS26 8AF
  • Ryedale Vineyards
    Farfield Farm, Westow, York YO10 7LS
  • Summerhouse Vineyard
    W J Scott and Sons Ltd, Skellow Mill, Mill Lane, Skellow, Doncaster, DN6 8JU
There are about 400 vineyards in England today and about 100 wineries. I don't think it'll ever rival France or Germany, but it's still there. Here's a short history.

Actually the first question to ask is whether or not vineyards are a good indicator of climate at all. During the middle ages wine usage was mostly confined to church and maybe nobility. Nowadays you can still grow wine, but have to stand up against wines from France and other countries, which have much more favorable climate while cost of transportion is laughable when compared to mediaval times. Given the huge impact of demand and cost of transportation - or even tax policies in recent decades - on wine production in England, I don't think the existance and distribution of vineyards is a good indicator.

I see two weak points in your approach. You equate the local variation of temperature of Europe (which temperature reconstructions indicate were local) to a trend of warming for the entire world, in essence you are unwittingly comparing apples to oranges. Secondly, if climate scientists get their science correct (as represented e.g. in the IPCC reports), we have just seen the beginning of much more warming to come, while being above the upper end of variations for the entire holocene already. The speed at which this change is taking place is one of the major concerns. Of course, there is the position that all of this is based on corruption and/or incompetence of the scientific community, but I'm not going to bet a single penny on that position.

I'd be careful about "impossible" with grapes. Their nutritional requirements are so out of whack it isn't funny. (e.g., their ideal nitrogen level in the soil kills just about every other plant from nitrogen deficiency; likewise, nitrogen levels suitable for other plants render the wine undrinkable).

I'm going to be checking on the tomatoes later today; we're having a very light snow here that isn't going to stick because the ground temperature is still 34F. Nothing less than a genuine hard freeze is going to do them in.

Also: the U.K.'s climate is critically dependent on the Atlantic conveyor belt currents dragging up tropical water for the last-minute heat transfer stage by wind. There's a moderately strong negative correlation between global warming and U.K./northern French/northern German temperatures because of this.

Which mini-ice age?

The Maunder minimum indeed had absolutely nothing to do with man, and I'm pretty sure that the current measured rise in temperatures has a quantitatively significant solar component simply because Pluto and Mars are reacting in synchrony.¹

The one that started the ice cap on Greenland isn't so obvious: Egypt's trading contacts with an African empire in the region of modern Zimbabwe ended about then, and pre-industrialization agriculture was the primary source of greenhouse gases (specifically, methane). We also had a similar climate cooling in the early 1800's driven by the collapse of American Indian civilization eliminating agriculture.

¹ And please note the implications of the albedo calculation of the Moon at Isaiah 30:26 . With the current theory of the lifespan of stars moderately flawed, we really have no idea what the quantitative lifespan of the Sun on the main sequence should be: the remixing of 100% electron neutrinos to 33%/33%/33% electron/pi/tau is a zero-explanation quantitative fact.

My bet is on Weird Science: the only examples we have of warping neutrino balance (Sun to earth proportion change above, and the 50% reduction in solar pi neutrinos from interposing the earth's core) involve very high density plasmas. (Solar core is estimated specific gravity 150-170, while the outer core of the Earth is basically an iron-nickel plasma with contamination by uranium, thorium, and decay products thereof.)

For really weird science, see my novel (now a third of the way through editing).

I think I was referring to this period.

It is not long since the supposed age of various stars was greater than the observed age of the universe. Yes, so the age of the universe was then calculated a new way and now it is older than those stars. But this is just one example of how many things are utterly misunderstood and yet trumpeted as facts until the new facts are trumpeted as better than the old. There is far too much confidence in concepts and supposed measurements that will turn out to have very limited lifespans. Basically there is no sense of proportion and no realisation of just how likely ideas are to be proved wrong in science reporting, and often in science as well.

I have tried googling for details of the 'Great Desert' that was found instead of the expected proof of string theory back in the late 1980s, but no one wants to talk about utter failure once paraded as fact. Do you know where to find anything about that subject?

Little Ice Age:
That is not particularly clear in what they are referencing (1250 corresponds to the Zimbabwean empire collapse, 1650-1750 to the Maunder Minimum, 1770 and 1850 to American Indian civilization collapses).

Great Desert:
The term is still current, actually. While the origin of the term is notably absent, "particle physics great desert" does turn up tangential definitions.

Basically, they've been forced to integrate the Great Desert into their extrapolations.

As usual, when Google is merely sparse Bing can even the odds: this Glashow quote is useful.

"Crustacean's Dream"
What I've seen is doing well (it's clear the English teacher from Hell is doing wonders for building editorial intuition much faster than my self-instruction efforts). It's pretty clear you're working in the moderately hard science fiction sub-genre.

I work slightly softer science fantasy but not much so. Everything is consistent given some metaphysics about the organization of multiple universes, and the first-order theologically consistent [by construction] destruction of ZaimoniHome two centuries before the origin of the first six¹.

¹Which ZaimoniHome natives like the Identist Father O'Brien (featured in this post's icon) refer to as the Undoing of the Constants.

So which came first, 'ZaimoniHome' or your LJ user id?

'sir_dave' was dreamed up by some American ladies when they were reading an early version of 'Aurorielle' on my previous LJ incarnation. Even the pen name 'Dave Knight' comes from that in turn.

Sylvia (the English teacher from hell) has effectively performed a transform on grammar. In short, if you reduce certain key words to rare occurrences, good grammar and readable prose begins to happen as a result.

that - less than two a page
which - less than two a page
it - less than two a page
there / be - almost never

Sentences should not build a stack of things to be 'popped', as this slows the reader down and cuts out the slower readers altogether, reducing the audience you can reach. In general sentences should be shorter than those most intelligent people write. Speech tags must be limited to those that result in sound; so ' "Hello" he smiled ' is just illegal, because the smile does not make the sound. Other than that the rest is mainly about punctuation, which anyone can get sorted out once the above have been dealt with, whereas the above require considerable rewriting.

That's Sylvia's prescription in a nutshell - though there is more, that is most of what she identified as a problem with the way I was writing. The pain involved has been considerable, but I'm getting the idea now. The pain is amply repaid when you see the results. The words fly off the page and into your head.

When you say 'moderately hard' I take it you mean in the sense that the science is near to real and 'hard' rather than 'wishy-washy'; the last thing I want is 'hard to read'. How do you feel it is doing in that regard?

I have reached one third of the way through the edit now, chapter 19, and you'd be welcome to have a look at the rest of what I've done. This is the point where the book begins to be a captive of the decisions already made, thus input is particularly valuable right now.

So which came first, 'ZaimoniHome' or your LJ user id?
ZaimoniHome dates back to when my science fantasy background finally stabilized: 1995. It finally passed theological consistency checks in 1997.
When you say 'moderately hard' I take it you mean in the sense that the science is near to real and 'hard' rather than 'wishy-washy'
Yes, "near to real". I have this checklist in mind.

Since a constructive general-relativistic cosmological model for FTL travel without time travel is trivial to state invariantly (take any space-time manifold with a Big Bang completion, and define the FTL ether space-slices in terms of proper time from the extrapolated Big Bang), that I do not consider FTL travel without time travel proven impossible. I operate at "Plausibly Hard", while the naive would probably say "Firm". What I have seen of your work is "Very Hard".

We speak very different languages, but I am getting the picture. I am developing a concern that people will fail to tell the difference between my musings on real Physics and my imaginary additions. But then that's the mark of writing a story well, I suppose.

Later on I work through the EPR paradox, with the result that the universe becomes real only because God looks at it all the time :) I think that's the nearest thing to a sensible answer I've seen to the choices implied:

1) There is no logic. That doesn't hold out much hope.
2) There is no reality without observation. OK, so how does the universe ever reach the state where it has an observer in it?
3) Information can travel faster than light.

No one seems to have anything useful to say about (3). I am trying to imagine what the universe would be like if (3) was true. As yet I'm not getting it, but there must be ideas that come out of that possibility.

As for (2) given the way that QM keeps getting results, it does seem the most likely, but the key question is 'what is meant by observation?' That's where an all-seeing observer makes the universe real when nothing else could. Personally I think that the universe is real - the alternative is solipsism in which I am effectively God, yet I have forgotten how it was that I created the universe - and because the universe is real, it must be continually observed by something capable of observing it, especially before any observers evolve in the developing universe.

Another thought - since no direct observations can be made from outside a black hole and nothing can survive within it once the singularity is reached, doesn't that mean that the innards of the black hole can never be observed other than intermittently by those falling in, and thus the black hole can only ever be 'real' on a very temporary basis? ;)

EPR paradox...oh that one is fun even at a distance. I think acquiring the proper statement of that would be far less expensive than several other medium-term things on my shopping list.

3) Information can travel faster than light
This is so tantalizingly close — both the normalization identity for the Schrödinger function, and the electrostaticdynamic and magnetostaticdynamic equations, already require FTL information to state correctly. (Thinking in differential-geometric terms; going to Minkowski space coordinates splits these into the usual four sets of equations in physics classes [electrostatic, electrodynamic, magnetostatic, magnetodynamic])
the key question is 'what is meant by observation?'
Indeed. At least the Copenhagen interpretation doesn't have the hubris to assume that all observers are quantum systems.

Are you saying that people are taking (3) seriously? If so the rest of the game falls to pieces.

If we can use faster than light transmission of information, someone out there is already doing it, but as yet we're not able to receive the signals. If the gap between using radio/EM waves and using FTL methods is a small one, then statistically the vast majority of anything ever sent looking for other life forms must be FTL.

The real problem with (3) in EPR is just what makes the two particles know what is happening to each other? How do they stay in contact? What does it mean? It seems to me to suggest that the universe would have to be all knowing regarding its whereabouts in a way that we cannot be. Now if there exists a mechanism for all-knowing that we cannot touch, how does anything large and complex enough to all-know the universe exist without becoming sentient? And if it is sentient, then it is god-like.

Here again we have a more sensible alternative; God makes QM run because he likes playing dice with the universe. I propose that's at least as sensible as the other unknowable options. It means that the universe it God's little bit of amusement that both cannot run without him and on a deep level HINTS that it cannot run without him. Otherwise the universe is behaving very strangely if it never gets any help.

While full EPR has not yet been demonstrated, an on-off switch for FTL correlation from a simpler near-EPR experiment was demonstrated ~1997. It didn't result in FTL information transfer because it was impossible to measure the correlation FTL, and no statistical difference was visible on either end.

The real problem with (3) in EPR is just what makes the two particles know what is happening to each other? How do they stay in contact?
That...is already in my face. They're already related by equations that exist only for space-like related particles/regions of spacetime. The instant you have partial derivatives on the spatial dimensions, you are using FTL constraints. It's a very strong claim to constructively say no information can be propagated along those constraints.

Twenty years ago I think I would have understood that, but I have lost all the jargon. Let me try and sort this out:

1) Quantum entangled particles obey equations that are only valid if they are well behaved things that don't have FTL characteristics.

2) Communication between them FTL would contradict the equations we already know they obey.

Hence or otherwise if they communicate FTL then everything we already thought we knew about them is wrong.

Is that it?

I sometimes think I need to train up again from scratch.

Stating 1) formally, unfortunately, requires cutting through the semantic paradox that there is only one state function no matter how many particles are being described. I'm displeased with the quality of my available textbooks on this point. (The full rant would not fit in 10,000 words.)

In any case, 1) strikes me as false. There's nothing about the Schrödinger equation, or the equations needed to state general relativity, that self-evidently fails for FTL phenomena. (The general relativistic [GR] equations do imply that any and all in-universe FTL effects do not have a well-defined finite FTL speed in any frame of reference valid for measuring FTL phenomena. This does not rule out spacewarps or teleportation. Problem: GR finite-speed tachyons travel orthogonally to the universe, since the square root of a negative number is imaginary.)

2) is very reasonable to induct since we do not observe inbound FTL information. I think the usual intuition is that both electromagnetic radiation and gravity waves travel at speed of light, so what else could be carrying the information?

Imagination deficit, is not constructive demonstration.

Basically if there is any faster than light communication this implies some form of radiation that is as yet completely unobserved.

If it is completely unobserved then it does not interact with anything we have yet used that might observe it.

The only things we can be sure to be able to interact with such radiation are the entangled particles.

The only way that they can communicate with each other over large distances (as we know they can - Gisin) is if they at all times know where the particles entangled with them are, and vice versa. And yet we don't have a means of intercepting whatever is passed between them.

But how can they know where each other are?

They are not so much radiating out comms (in which case they would lose energy anyhow) as connected by invisible wires that carry FTL comms - or, irrespective of spacial separation, they experience being part of the same thing as if that spacial separation was irrelevant - which is much the same.

This rather suggests that the nature of reality on a QM level has nothing to do with the one that we are familiar with, in that it probably has to rely on dimensions and connectivities that we have no experience of, just to work at all. In which case why can't we get access to them by some other means? How can their reality be limited to QM entangled particles?

I can't see how any of this can be stated without implying that the universe is self-knowing.

If it is self-knowing it has had to be self-knowing from the beginning, because the things that are doing the self-knowing are the earliest particles we know of, the simplest ones.

How does a universe come into being self-knowing?

I really do find it easier to suppose that God plays dice with the universe. Literally.

The invisible wires, for my purposes, are simply the already-documented equations (or whatever the next theory's iteration uses that simplifies to them in the "usual case"). Anything more substantial is basically a hidden-variables theory, and those really haven't been having much luck in the past 4+ decades.

This rather suggests that the nature of reality on a QM level has nothing to do with the one that we are familiar with, in that it probably has to rely on dimensions and connectivities that we have no experience of, just to work at all. In which case why can't we get access to them by some other means? How can their reality be limited to QM entangled particles?
Agreed, although part of this is a modeling problem. Strictly speaking, if "only the past" were sufficient to construct a physical model one could get away without using spacelike constraints at all.

Those spatial partial derivatives ruin that approach. For a Minkowski space model, a practical solution usually is taken to be:
  1. Choose a coordinate system where the calculations are clean.
  2. Set up the initial conditions up through the space-slice hyperplane at t=0
  3. Extend the non-interacting solution until an interaction should happen
  4. Apply state collapse to fork the model into quantitatively interesting cases
  5. Repeat third and fourth steps on each model fork until enough detail is present.
Problem is, FTL information is already used at step 2. A true non-FTL solution would use the conditions within (and on the surface of) the past-directed lightcone to set up the problem, then recover the space-like data points. (Of course, when solving for a standing wave then the initial space-slice for t=0 is just a projection from the past-directed lightcone, but for dynamic problems I'm not deeply read enough to have seen anything along these lines.)

Ok...let's sketch how that near-miss EPR experiment worked out.

Idea is to have a "source laser" in the center providing entangled photons. Both sides have an always-on spin measurer; the transmitter also has a switch that controls an intermediate measurement, turning on/off an 85% correlation. [I don't know how close this percentage is to theoretical limits.]

So, on each end, we have a random sequence of say 200 spin measurements (left vs. right). We let 50 photons fly by on the transmitter side, then turn on the correlator, let 100 photons go through, then turn off the correlator, then 50 more photons.

For the 100 correlated photons at the receiver, the spin is 85% likely to be opposite the one measured at the transmitter. For the 100 uncorrelated photons, the spin is 50% likely to the opposite of the one measured at the transmitter.

Unfortunately, no information is transmitted FTL because there is no probability distribution change in the spin at the receiver end. It's only when the two sequences are compared that the correlation is evident.

I have reached one third of the way through the edit now, chapter 19, and you'd be welcome to have a look at the rest of what I've done.
Thanks; I am interested. (I suspect the rewrite is intensive enough that reciprocation would be counterproductive.)

As I've let this LJ lapse from paid status (cashflow weirdness driven by U.S. IRS), it's probably best to use zaimoni@zaimoni.com to coordinate the means for the relay.

Thanks; Sylvia has signed off chapter 16. She should have caught up in a few days time. Chapter 19 is a real turning point that explains much of what has gone before, so it seems to me that that is the point where I can stop and think.