Wednesday, November 06, 2013

comets flying in formation in the main belt

Fragmented main belt comet is a tough one to explain given standard explanations of where comets come from and why they "fragment". Standard theory is that close encounters with the sun or planets cause excessive tidal forces which break comets apart. My theory is that the comets are already fragmented, and tidal forces from close encounters just separate the cometary "fragments" into new comets in their own right.

Get your meats at the strand

Strand Gourmet Meats

Would someone let me know when this is googleable?


Monday, November 04, 2013

Bushfires, Climate change and carbon tax
Interesting stats on people's views on the carbon tax, related to demography and voting intentions.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Carbon Tax vs emissions trading vs direct action

It is hard to discuss tax policy, or indeed anything without agreeing on premises.
There is an equivalence between a carbon tax and emissions trading with a fixed price. There is also an equivalence between a carbon tax with a variable price that is set to match the market price of emissions in an international emissions trading scheme, and being part of that emissions trading scheme.

Any scheme can be "gamed" in the sense that the European scheme allocated or grandfathered too many credits, to appease emitters and to bribe them to get in the scheme, and then allowed financial pressures of the debt crisis to further water down the scheme.

In Australia, the scheme seems scheduled to be gamed by lobbying from industrials for the tax to be scrapped. Either way, instead of acceptance, and long term plans to avoid the price efficiently by moving away from carbon intensive industries, plans are on hold on a wait and see with the hedge on what one can bet the future scheme to be. Hold back plans for renewables in the hope of a fat grant from the new "direct action" plan, rather than do what makes sense now, with the energy prices as they are with the carbon tax and assuming they will stay at the relative level.

Avoid the tax by switching to low carbon, or avoid the tax by switching the Government? I prefer the first. Grudging acceptance that the tax may effectively be there for a while. Even the thought that it will be gone soon changes the behaviour of industrials to bet on a low effective carbon price.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Whatever You do, don't copy Germany

results of naive energy policy

We have already gone a dangerous step into German territory by having super long agreements on price-fixing of feed-in tarriffs for a large enough chunk of electricity to distort the market. Reading the linked article, the embarrassing thing is that Germany still has a large carbon footprint and a much higher carbon intensity than neighbouring France. A negative price for a commodity is not a sign of achievement, it is a sign of a dysfunctional market structure. There is a perverse incentive to keep fossil fuel powered stations going because of the market necessity of the utilities to not go broke keeping a reasonably steady power supply.

If you want to understand my seemingly contrarian views on feed-in tariffs, read the link in its entirity. For a functional market, wholesale cost of a commodity needs to asymptote to the marginal cost of production. Thus solar electricity needs to be set up that - sure, generate your electricity for your own use first, saving you the retail price, but your excess needs to go to the grid for free. If that doesn't pay back the cost of investment quick enough, subsidies should be to reduce the capital investment, not to artificially increase the return for eternity.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Deal of the Century

Dear reader(s), My proposal for the generation of electricity at our commercial place of business involves selling the electricity excess to our daytime needs back to the grid. Our price is not the exorbitant feed-in prices that the evil Bligh government set at 44c/KWh I would refuse on principle to partake in any such outrageous out of market contract. Our price is not the 1:1 favoured by the ignorant majority - After all that would be selling the electricity back at around 21c/KWh which is about as much as the utility can get retail and doesn't allow for the costs of upgrading, maintaining etc. required on the grid, which far outweighs the marginal cost of generating a unit of electricity. Our price is not 8c/KWh which is the fallback wholesale cost estimated to be the cost of a utility purchasing electricity on the wholesale market. The excess electricity is fed back into the grid at ZERO cost to the utitilility. That's right Zip Zilch Gratis. It is unclear whether this is still a better deal for me than the utility, but certainly, if electricity prices do not drop from their current level, our solar plant will pay itself off within 3 years. Our use is virtually all daytime, and greater in summer and less when it is cloudy/rainy or dark. 30 KW ought to do it, plus a 2 KW off grid unit for emergencies. Regards

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Where I'm at with evolution and science

First of all science - To me the gold standard on science and scientific theories is "the prediction of new facts". Not to be confused with model fitting the data, this predicts what future data will be. If a climate model predicts global temperatures correctly in advance, then it is of a gold standard compared to if it would have predicted current temperatures correctly given past data.

The basis of modern technology is this ability to know that a design will work before going to the effort of building it. 

Modern evolutionary synthesis of itself does not predict new facts. It has been built from a consensus of scientists to explain how evolution works, but is not a basis in itself for predicting new facts. It does show that surviving species will be more adapted to an environment than species in which the environment causes them to become extinct or depleted. However, a teleological approach to genetic variation will lead to the same new facts, ie. species, than an approach based on random variation. Thus, the modern evolutionary synthesis has not reached the gold standard by me. This makes me very impatient with some types of evolutionary articles and theses.

Astrobiology - ie. the research and study of organics and biology in space allows us a unique opportunity to test competing theories on abiogenesis and evolution. The "strong" version of panspermia espoused by Wickramasinghe etc. will predict different future facts than geogenesis or other alternative theories on the origin and distribution of life. Whether a prediction about what a robotic spaceship's experiments will show in advance of that experiment being made will give credence to the narrative behind that prediction.

Predictions about what spacecraft would find looking at comets up close have been very wrong based on the narrative that they are pristine and unchanged from the birth of the solar system. The narrative won't change, however, as it is too entrenched. It is more convenient to fit unexpected facts into the same narrative than to think of a new narrative that would have predicted these facts. The narrative is very vague on details anyway. Virtually any new discovery can be fitted into it - It is, for the most part unfalsifiable. I can see why Wickramasinghe prefers to be on the fringe, and outside of the consensus. He is not disputing any of the data from say NASA scientists. For the most part, other scientists are not  disputing his data and rigour. It is a battle of narratives, and the prediction of future facts should be the gold standard in the battle of narratives.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Has Alien Life Been Found in Earth's Atmosphere?

Unlike the bad astronomy blog

I'm going to go with yes. The main arguments against Wickramasinghe's panspermia related "science", "research" and "discoveries" are essentially that the detection of alien life in various papers submitted to the Journal of Cosmology are "false positives". This assumes "a priori" that alien life is very rare (almost certainly non-existent), and Earthly life is extremely flexible at getting anywhere it wants to, including into the Stratosphere at any time. Thus, the statistical calculations to work out a false positive depend on how prevalent alien life is in the first place. I don't think it is helpful for NASA to collect dust from the Stratosphere, and assume that if there is life that also exists on Earth, that it must have come from Earth. Don't bother - just go to planets, asteroids and comets and bring back samples. Otherwise you just can never rule out contamination.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

I've Turned

Back in 07, I was all for Kevin. I was not disappointed in the Government that ensued, nor the policies it came up with. In 2010, I supported Labor primarily on the NBN policy. I was happy with most policy of the Gillard Government, and satisfied with all policy bar one particular policy decision regarding live export. 

The policy advantages of Labor that I have leant towards have been virtually neutralised. For one, the NBN is going to happen, and it is hard to believe that the LNP could make a mess of it now. 

Secondly, the economic cycle has shifted enough that conservative instincts are likely to be the most beneficial to the country.

Friday, May 17, 2013

DNA is a substrate storing an algorithm for a Turing machine

I'm not really sure why this is controversial and I'm not sure why it is routinely "denied" by biologists. It is not much of a stretch to go from saying that DNA is a blueprint for an organism's form, function and reproduction, to saying it is an algorithm encompassing all that and doing a whole lot more, which is what the whole point of "decoding" it is all about.

I think the issues around higher level functions, self modifying code, debugging, the creative process of new programs, etc. is deniable to the extent that these things are only recognisable from the point of view of the programmer being separate from the program, rather than one part of the software as they appear to be in DNA of living things. Just the fact that it "sounds" like it implies outside intelligence, is enough to make any naturalist worth their salt to deny any such analogy with a Turing machine, regardless of the evidence.

Given enough Caffeine, I could rule the world!

Caffeine is the key to therapeutic cloning.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

2014 will be the year of the comet

I can't believe "my" luck. First there is the Rosetta mission, which is perfectly designed to test "my" admittedly ridicule-worthy theories. Then in October 2014 a nearly hyperbolic comet makes a perilously close encounter to Mars within the telescopic range of not one but several Mars robotic craft. See Comet 2013 A1 Siding Spring

I have more predictions (I won't call them prophecies) about this one. There will be multiple nuclei, they will be black like the observed periodic comets - They will separate due to tidal forces and result in new comets, some of which will be periodic.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Six impossible things before breakfast

Occam's razor is involved in the following assertions being protected from the burden of proof:

1) Random mutations and natural selection is necessary and sufficient to explain the origin of species from other species.

2) Abiogenesis occurred on Earth

3) Abiogenesis requires the conditions of a Planet (We don't know how abiogenesis happens, we haven't demonstrated it happening, so how can we presume what it needs?)

4) Pre-life is more fragile than life

5) pre life has been extincted by life because life is superior ( we don't yet know what came before life and see 2 through 4 we have no gnosis of where that might be, so we cannot possibly know the results of the two coexisting)

6) pre life has an x need for mass flux/energy flux/reproduction.....  We do not know of the process, so we certainly cannot know quantitatively of the need for any particular feature of the process.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Definition of Marcomony

Marcomony is the replacement of parsimony in science, where the burden of proof would normally be shifted away from a solution deemed as "simpler", by simply *not* shifting the burden of proof.

Thus competing hypotheses given the same evidence are on essentially a level playing field. A multitude of makhO's disposable razors rather than Okham' s individual razor.

I have listed in my head every case I could think of where parsimony is used in science, and I cannot think of a single one (yet), where I believe parsimony has benefitted science.

I believe models *must* necessarily be simpler than reality - eg Newtonian mechanics doesn't take into account relativistic effects. It is not true that the simplest solution is the most likely to be true. The point of simpler models is to fit better into our (perhaps prejudiced) world view, and to be able to be explained to a lay or more naive public.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Show me the metabolism, marconomics, part 3

"Kauffman is chiefly concerned with reproduction as the defining feature of life. He makes only a superficial discussion of metabolism that does not consider its central thermodynamic requirements. But ultimately, metabolism is what is most important."

This reminded me of an "alien life" forum that was discussing, among other things, how we would recognise life as we don't know it. There was a consensus that at a minimum, reproduction AND metabolism would need to be observed. However, when we are talking about abiogenesis, the conundrum is more about how they have to simultaneously come about. Meaningful reproduction is impossible without metabolism to generate the work energy that reproduces something. Metabolism is pretty useless if the system that metabolises is a one off that cannot be reproduced faithfully and it's important features "locked away" for future use. The blueprint of "the system" doesn't need metabolism to exist, it needs metabolism to perform work and reproduce.

"Without petrol, the most splendidly engineered automobile will just sit there. Without a plausible metabolism, the most elegant net of autocatalytic reactions is an empty exercise in symbol manipulation."

Why can't a car be considered a living thing for the purpose of this exercise? For that matter why can't a primitive stone axe head? They perform work and can be reproduced. The system graph and energy transfers is what is important in defining what metabolism and reproduction is, not our experience of how extremely complex things that we have studied intimately perform these same system graph characteristics. Thus things like, "mass flux", "high energy flux", "vesicles", "Proto-metabolism" etc. are not particular requirements when talking about the "system" before life as we know it. The energy graph is important for when metabolism is occurring, and that the system is locked away with reproducible features when the energy/reactants source is depleted. Thus if an axe head lies in the ground undisturbed for millions of years, it would be easy to reproduce. If it was being constantly bombarded by energy flux, ie. people using it, it would just wear away until it was no longer useful. Thus, an extremely encapsulated system, with persistent, naturally reproducible features is more relevant than looking at the amount of energy flux a motorcar needs to keep going, and applying it to the needs of an axe head.

"(1) Through a long and complicated process of prebiotic development containing all the most interesting parts of the story of the origin of life.

(2) As a system created by someone or something.

I don’t intend this as an argument in favour of intelligent design [see definition 1], still less of Intelligent Design [see definition 2]. Ockham’s razor suggests we should stick with explanation (1) unless we should find some very compelling evidence for (2). At any rate, the essential requirements of the pre-biotic processes leading to life based on the chemistry we know are going to be the same as the requirements of pre-biotic processes leading to life based on different chemistry."

Ockham s razor is a lie perpetrated by scientists to make out they have gnosis when they have none. Anyway, have you considered dust cloud life? Or plasma physics life?

We don't know that life that could create chemical life is based on chemistry. We have no gnosis on the requirements of life that may have generated biochemical life through an evolutionary prebiotic process of design. All we have is human experience of design as an evolutionary process with intelligent input. The intelligence is not enough to design something complicated from scratch, and thus the sequence of precedents from transistor to computer may be accessible to historians a million years into the future. Equally, whether intelligently designed or not, we should have confidence in the possibility of precedent biological life "designs" for us to discover.

"What I am arguing is that both the ‘RNA world’ and the ‘Protein world’ are historically late phenomena, and that the critical events for the origin of life lie much deeper."

I absolutely agree with this.

"There is no reason to expect that living systems today preserve the same chemistry of the first living systems. "

I absolutely *disagree* with this. Evolution and evolutionary design processes build on what is known to work. No point changing from silicon to something else.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Show me the Metabolism, Marcomony Part 2.

"What are the requirements a catalytic system of complex polymers (CSCP) must have in order to be relevant to the origin of life?
The CSCP must be secured from the overwhelming tendency of matter and energy to become more randomly distributed in the universe. "

Already here we can see the erosive characteristics of parsimony in action starting to create poisoned fruit. Having rejected Kauffman's model of the origin of life based on CSCP due to not being able to demonstrate metabolism or how it would self generate, it becomes the assumed system for the rest of the post. I would change it to thus: The CSCP or whatever other system relevant to the start of life, must be secured...

In fact when I read it, I had automatically added that to the sentence because a CSCP has a vanishingly small chance of being a descriptive model of what actually hapened. Thus, I agreed with the sentence with a proviso that it does not validate CSCP in any way as a transitionary proto life form.

Thus Marcomony would dictate that we look this as a systems problem rather than as a CSCP problem.

The minimum requirement from a systems perspective is that energy finds its way in, and that the inside can be made less random by making the outside more random. Although that does require at least some "food" or reactants matter to get in and some "waste" or products matter to get out, the minimalist in me is saying that the in could be mainly light, and the out mainly heat, as something non-living that could exist in nature.

Thus a CSCP may or may not be something that comes between non-life and life, or may have been skipped for something that could actually happen, rather than being a wish myth.

When I saw the diagram, I got all excited. When I read about specific chemistry, I got all confused. Not because I didn't understand, but because I was thinking purely in abstract terms of the following.

Condition 1: An Edge.
Condition 2:A Proto-metabolism.
Condition 3: A Selectively Permeable Edge.
Condition 4: A Complexifiable Proto-Metabolism.

Systems we have designed ourselves with a great deal of effort.

 in all this, all it had proved to me that CSCP to do all this is impossible in terms of all the pieces that are required to just come together for no reason.

This is why, about this time last year, I had decided that a comet could provide the required edge to the system, and a catalytic species X would be the resultant more complex, less random thing being generated within the comet(s). The comet surface makes a natural, non-living edge.

Of course, we will have opportunities to see what is in comets now, as an indication of what may have been happening 4 billion years ago.

Show Me the Metabolism, Marcomony! Part one

This is in response to History of life posts by my arch nemesis Herr Fellows of Parsimony fame.

"My thesis is that the network of catalytic polymers and substrates that Kauffman postulates as an initial self-organising complex system which can give rise to more lifelike systems is so inordinately complex and unlikely that it in no way addresses the crucial problem of the origin of life."

Completely agree. I would even extend that to say that it is probably impossible.

"Any chemist would ask: 'What is driving this cycle of reactions? Where is the energy coming from? What is preventing this system from dissipating?'
There is no such thing as 'Order for Free'. That is the Law. If you want order at point A, you need to dump your disorder at points not-A. Should anyone claim there is such a thing as 'Order for Free', let them be unto you even as the homeopaths and the creationists."
Absolutely. It is a very contrived system that is required, and a plausible natural mechanism is required that would probably  generate it (Not *possibly* generate it - it needs a contrived repeatable mechanism that we would think hah! that just could work if I could repeat the conditions precisely)
Metabolism is the key. My thought is that any systems which generates copies of something is showing metabolism anyway. You can see energy being burned in the suns in the sky and emanating from the hot cores of planets and dumped randomly into the rest of the universe. There are not just a few planets and suns - They have imperfect copies of themselves all over the universe. It is a loose use of metabolism and reproduction, but the universe is full of things that make their outside more random and are reproduced somehow.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Food Nazi's gone nuts

I did some research on my own diet and possible deficiencies and I decided that I probably was a little deficient in Selenium. Selenium is required in trace amounts, especially to help remove heavy metals, such as mercury from the body. It is also toxic in larger, non-natural quantities. Knowing I was on the low side, and wanting to get my selenium from natural sources. The best natural source of Selenium is Brasil nuts. But there is a twist, as I found out that un-shelled brasil nuts come from a part of South America that has a very high soil Selenium content, and thus unshelled nuts that you can buy are up to 10 times higher in Selenium than than shelled nuts. I figured I could buy nuts in shell on the Internet. Ironically, I bought some from a parrot food and toy specialist.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Comet origins

Assertion 1 - A broad section of "science" needs a complete overhaul due to unecessary assumptions. These assumptions poison entire scientific narratives and lines of research.

The main crux of this assertion is that certain scientific narratives (eg.evolution) implicitly rely on assumptions (eg. about mutations) which rely on Occam's razor to *shift the burden of proof*. Alternative non-scientific narratives (eg. creation) more explicitly rely on assumptions (about God) in a way doubly damaging to science, because it affirms the faulty method (to use Occam's razor) while dismissing rock solid observations (the transformation over time of species from simpler species)

Thus the overhaul of science that I'm proposing involves accross the board  reversal of incorrect usage of Occam's razor and a distancing of science from the narratives that rely on this incorrect usage. They can be kept on as disposable narratives, no more special than alternative narratives that match observations and experiments.

  From wikepedia Occam's razor In practice, the application of the principle often shifts the burden of proof in a discussion.[a] The razor states that one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power. The simplest available theory need not be most accurate. Philosophers point out also that the exact meaning of simplest may be nuanced.

Assertion 2 - The usage of Occam's razor in science is pernicious - ie. Scientists who propogate a narrative or engage in research will deny that it relies on a shifting of the burden of proof. They will deny that science is biased against narratives and research that takes opposing razors. They will, however imply that opposing razors require proof, which they will freely accept if presented, while ignoring the unprovability of the razors, and ignoring the possibility that the consensus razor may have been simplified to something that is in fact impossible.

Occam's razor is involved in the following assertions being protected from the burden of proof:

1) Random mutations and natural selection is necessary and sufficient to explain the origin of species from other species.

2) Abiogenesis occurred on Earth, or an earth like planet.

3) Abiogenesis was the origin of life on Earth, rather than biotic life being designed by a completely different life form, which could have formed through abiogenesis, in a more provable way , and with intermediate forms.

4) Comets are pristine and relatively unchanged from when they were formed in a molecular cloud.

5) Comets originate from the Oort Cloud.

6) Randomly occurring non-gravitational forces and close planetary fly-bies account for the evolution of cometary orbits from semi-stable orbit eg. Kepler, eventually to other semi-stable orbits, eg. Sun grazer.

7) Natural non living processes account for the observed features of comets, even though, in the main, the observed features were substantially different to that predicted before observation.

Excerpt from Wickramasinghe's book - regarding role of comets in abiogenesis.

Though the presence of a sentient cloud of gas may seem unlikely, the story is grounded in hard science

My assertion is that there is sentient life in forms completely different to life on Earth, in a similar way to the black cloud, that had a hand in the design of life as we know it. The only reason scientists stick to the assertion that life started from non-life with random natural processes is purely because of Occam's razor. Asserting forms of life we have not seen, nor have any direct evidence for, is generating more entities that need explanation, and also plays into the hands of Intelligent Design. However, what is wrong in believing in intelligent design where the designer evolved through natural processes not involving magic? It seems to me to expain why there is so little evidence of abiogenesis, better than the explanation starting from Darwin, that life is so superior to its predecessors that all evidence has been absorbed into life. Abiogenesis appears to be a singularity in the fossil record. Generally, that should always imply that life transferred from somewhere else, rather than evolving here to that stage, much like when a species is found in a particular geographic location without obvious precedents in that location.

In a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker on February 1, 1871,[9] Charles Darwin addressed the question, suggesting that the original spark of life may have begun in a "warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, lights, heat, electricity, etc. present, so that a protein compound was chemically formed ready to undergo still more complex changes". He went on to explain that "at the present day such matter would be instantly devoured or absorbed, which would not have been the case before living creatures were formed."[10] In other words, the presence of life itself makes the search for the origin of life dependent on the sterile conditions of the laboratory.

From this, it appears prebiotic evolution has been imbued with particular properties that do not exist with postbiotic evolution. ie. that intermediate forms are destroyed. I find that intermediate forms being hypothesised without any evidence of them existing, with a "just so" story, such as Darwin's as being completely unscientific.

A hypothesis with no evidence has a vanishingly small probability of being correct.

If we were looking for life on other bodies, one of the techniques suggested is to look at the night side and see if there is light.

This has mainly been put forward looking at planets. However, I don't see why we shouldn't apply the same argument to asteroids and comets. The only comet that has been photographed up close while in its active state, appears to have emissions emanating from both the sun side and the other side.

Not much has been mentioned about discrete jets, but although ostensibly powered by direct solar radiation, the jets on comets are not a predictable function of solar radiation. There appears to be jets emanating light as well as matter, from looking at the night side of the comet. This could be the reflective emissions when they get past the shadow, but it is plausible that radiation is also emanating.

Non-gravitational forces on comets are quite substantial, and the biggest in magnitude are due to rotation of the comet and are heavily dependent on the shape of the comet. In turn the rotation of the comet is influenced by the jets. Thus a fairly small amount of energy from the jets, can give a non-gravitational force many orders of magnitude greater than what a jet could. Also, the topography of comets, unlike asteroids, are not determined by impact craters, but are also apparently determined by internal forces, probably jets. Thus both the rotation and shape, thus total thrust is potentially determined by jet emissions.

NASA mission OSIRIS-REX - Mission to go to an "asteroid". This is classed as a caronaceous and has very low Albedo. It may have a lot of properties similar to comets, and thus possibly jets, outgassing, etc. Dependig on the results in 2014 of ROSETTA, it may add some information about whether there is life on comets.

Rosetta mission link.

Conclusion: biotic life was designed in comets' image, by comets.