Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Scute reblog 67P comet sinkhole delamination part 32

67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. A Single Body That’s Been Stretched- Part 32

Photo 2- the ESA comet regions map to help with locating the regions referred to below. 

Part 31 presented the lattice of stretch vectors in the so-called slab A extension and the red triangle. The stretching of 67P was due to the ‘centrifugal’ force brought about by the comet spinning up to somewhere around a two- to 3-hour rotation period. The spin-up would have occurred via asymmetrical outgassing. Alternatively a close pass at Jupiter some way under the 220,000 km Roche limit would supply the stretching force via differential g accelerations instead of spin-up. 
Part 31 stated, “there are other areas nearby that show similar stretch vector signatures that are orientated at a slightly different angle from this lattice.”
If we trek across Ash from the red triangle and round the perimeter of the slab A extension, we cross through the lattice and end up in an area behind the three sink holes. Here, we find an area with lines that resemble the lattice but they are fainter, broken and further apart. Also, their aggregate direction seems to be at a slightly different angle from the lattice orientation around the red triangle. It all looks a bit woolly. 
Photo 3- the smudged lattice lines in Ash (larger dots). 

But let’s look at those lines in detail.
Photo 4 – the Ash matches behind the three sink holes. Includes unannotated version.
Photos 4 and 6 have narrative keys so the end of the key is denoted by the symbol ‘/////’. 
Fuchsia- the fuchsia circle is the large sink hole at one end of the flat area of Site A. The two horseshoe arcs below it depict the other two sink holes set in line behind it and towards the back of Site A. They are smaller, shallower and joined to the main one. The three together form a trench with bulbous sides. 
Long terracotta line- the shear line for orientation purposes. The terracotta L-shapes in Ash are stretch matches (see below). 
Yellow next to shear line- the beginning of the Site A ‘crater’ perimeter. The rest is left out so as not to clutter the photo. 
Orange- missing slab B (Babi-Part 9).
Bright green- on the right running away from the shear line- this is the right hand perimeter of the slab A extension. It’s contiguous with one long side of the red triangle. Bright green is also used for the triad of matching bright green dots (see below) because when nested they sit almost at the opposite end of the slab A extension.
All other coloured dots, which are all below Site A and sitting in the Ash region, depict specific features that are repeated on the three recoiled layers. 
Red arrows- these depict the directions in which the matches flare out across Ash and therefore betray the the direction of the stretching forces acting on them. 
We can see the matches flaring out wider as they extend down Ash, away from the Site A crater rim and sink holes. If we replay the stretch movie backwards, the bottom layer of matches moves up Ash, contracting slightly along its length (horizontally in this view) as it does so. It scoops up the second line as it passes it and then the two nested lines move further up Ash. Again, they contract across their length as they approach the third line of matches and nest with them. This time, the horizontal contraction is more marked and means that the red, blue and dark green matches get lost in the squeeze, leaving just the outside two to join together: the terracotta L-shape and the bright green triad. The focus of the contraction is the third sink hole which is the second one from the main, large sink hole. This means that:
1) The stretch vector lattice does extend further across Ash and all the way to site A. 
2) The whole of Ash is one giant recoil area. That at last explains why the back rim of Site A continues on in a perfect arc along the back rim of the slab A extension- all the way to the red triangle (see photo 5, below). Both areas were subjected to the same stretching and recoil event. Ash is simply an onion layer that slid back under the influence of the stretch vector after decoupling from its counterpart a long way further up the body and somewhere on site A (and the slab A extension). That beautifully smooth arc betrays the subtly changing orientation of the stretch vectors across Site A, the slab A extension and Ash. This may be the reason that Ash looks a bit like a crumpled blanket. It didn’t lose material and in fact consists of excess, flaccid folds as a result of material that slid back. For regular readers who can stitch together all the references to the Slab A extension morphology since Part 22, this has now almost fully explained its morphology: the scalped skin split in two. Half is plastered against Anuket and the other half recoiled back to this curved line and is now part of Ash. The tear was about midway across. It was acknowledged as not being fully understood back in Part 22 and said to be a work in progress. It was stated that it must have been subjected to the same process as site A but what that process was remained a mystery. The answer is recoil and in retrospect, it looks rather obvious. All those references regarding the demise of the slab A extension will be collated into one post fairly soon, along with some extra evidence.
3) The three sink holes are orientated in line with the average direction of these newly discovered stretch vectors that flare out down Ash. Since all the matches converge on the third sink hole, it means that this sink hole and the second one behind it had to have at least been under tension along this vector. Since the vector is in line with the alignment of the holes, it’s reasonable to suggest that the holes delaminated along that line, from one big hole into three holes. Indeed, all delaminated strata either side of the sink holes is delaminated in this same stretch direction (see photo 6, lower down).
4) The stretch vector change betrayed by the Ash recoil curve is radial, meaning the vectors are focussed (nearly) on one point, right next to the north pole. That’s a huge clue for stretching via the centrifugal force of spin-up.
Photo 5- the Ash recoil showing the neat curve where the Ash onion layer recoiled to. 
Yellow- portion of Site A (the missing slab A crater) up to where its back rim merges with the slab A extension back rim. 
Bright green- the slab A extension back rim that continues on from where it merges with the Site A back rim. 
Photo 6- the delaminated layers next to the three sink holes. 
Fuchsia- the three sink holes. The main one is nearest to us and the delaminated ones are shown as horseshoe arcs beyond it. Looking at the floor level of the second hole, it’s on the same level as the large, flat expanse of Site A to the right as well as the smaller expanse to the left (at the bottom of the dotted terraces). This is a strong clue that the side walls of the main sink hole slid back along this fracture plane thus revealing the floor of the second sink hole which was previously sitting under the slid-back strata. It is therefore not a sink hole at all but the sliced top of the main sink hole, sitting on a newly exposed flat expanse. The same process would apply to the third sink hole, the only difference being that the revealed floor of that hole was another stratum or sub stratum further up from the second hole. Despite not being sink holes, after all, we’ll continue to call all three “sink holes” for the time being because they are called that by everyone who is interested in 67P. Even the main hole will eventually be shown not to be a sink hole- at least not in any conventional definition of the term whereby a cavity slowly forms and the roof collapses. 
Red arrows- the upper pair show the direction of travel of the fanning-out matches, thus betraying the stretch vector that pulled them along those two  paths. They point upwards because we’re looking from the opposite direction to photo 4 where they were pointing downwards. The single, lower arrow is pointing at the large sink hole. More importantly, it’s pointing in the direction along which the line of three sink holes is arranged. And this direction is in the average direction of the other two arrows. Hence the three sink holes were under a tensile stress force in this direction while everything around them was actually moving back down the comet under that same tensile force (proven by the matches). It’s therefore reasonable to suggest that the holes were also delaminating in that direction. 
Bright green, blue, dark green and terracotta- these are the same features as in photo 4 but viewed from the exact opposite direction and from lower down. So they are converging towards us in a foreshortened perspective. The yellow and red dots are left out because they’re whited out here. Also the ‘lower’ dark green dip in the other photo is invisible here. The ‘lowest’ terracotta feature (highest here) is almost unrecognisable due to foreshortening so it’s left unannotated for fear of obliterating it. It continues beyond the second terracotta match in a zig zag. 
Light orange- this and the first terracotta L-shape match that touches it were depicted as one terracotta L-shape in photo 4. That’s because it was fuzzier and in shadow in that photo. Here, it’s divided into the initial seating area, which is the pale orange dots, and the first terracotta match that slid back from it. You can see that the first terracotta match is a right angle with a thick finger of material. If you reverse the stretch movie, the finger slides towards us and clicks into place over the finger depicted by the pale orange dots. Its right angled part then clicks into place by curving round the back of the third hole but it may have just gone straight across the back of the bright green dots. 
Pale green- strata that delaminated in the same direction as the average tensile force (stretch) vector. That would be the same direction as the delaminating holes. There are terraces of multiple matches fanning out on either side of the holes. 
Photo 6 basically shows everything in the vicinity of the sink holes getting yanked back, away from our viewpoint towards and across Ash. All this material would have originally been nested together with the three holes themselves also nested together. 

Photo 7- the crater in Ash. It has a light blue dot in its centre. Its twin in the ‘flared matches’ second tier is beyond it, also dotted light blue. Photo 4 also gives a good view of it. In that photo it’s got the dark blue matches either side.
There’s a match in photo 4 that wasn’t annotated. It would have cluttered up the image too much. That strangely isolated crater in the middle of Ash is sitting right in the middle of the matches. It’s the only large, circular crater on the comet with a completely intact rim. It’s also absolutely constrained to rise up Ash with the matches around it. And when we look at photo 4 again we can see that there’s a big circle right above it, in the correct direction of movement. It’s not just sited anywhere further up and in the right direction but it’s shadowing its L-shaped terracotta match on the other side of the flared set. In other words, the layer it delaminated from is the same as the the one from which its partner L-shape delaminated from before they both slid and flared another level down. The same principle should work with the next layer up. The L-shape has already been matched to the side of the third sink hole. If the crater behaved as it seems it did, sliding with the L-shape from the second to the third level, then it must surely have slid with the L-shape from the first to the second level. That means it was crammed right against the L-shape at ‘level 1’ and that in turn suggests it was sitting right on top of the third sink hole (presumably when it was an incipient sink hole). It would seem remarkable for a crater to move that far and stay intact. But the matches already constrain it to move from its circular, level 2 twin to its current position so if it had to move from there it’s not so implausible for it to have moved the whole way. And since we are saying that the three sink holes delaminated and that crater in Ash has now been traced to the third hole, it’s just as conceivable that it originally sat over the main sink hole before it delaminated into three. 
As a check, one can look at the unannotated version of photo 5. If you concentrate on that smooth curve forming the back rim of the slab A extension, that betrays the stretch vector or tensile force vector because that’s the curve along which it found its equilibrium after springing back. The tensile stretch force would be at 90° to the curve. If you draw a line between the crater and the main sink hole, whether it’s straight or via its slightly kinked matched path, it crosses the curve at 90°. If you replayed the stretch movie in reverse, the crater would always be headed for the large sink hole.
Copyright ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0
To view a copy of this licence please visit:
All dotted annotations by Scute1133.
-Original image provided as .IMG file in the archive delivery from : ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA
-Original image processed by ESA/Rosetta/SGS/PSA&ESDC to create image for Archive Image Browser
All dotted annotations by scute1133.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Stretch theory Abstract and links


 Comets are widely thought to be pristine remnants of the solar system's formation, and thus their study has been historically interpreted in that context. Evidence to date suggests that comets are far from pristine and the surfaces are heavily processed in very recent geological timescales.

 Evidence presented here points to the overall shape of 67P Churyumov Geramisenko also being from a stretch event in very recent geological time scales rather than being from either directly from the surface processing or from its initial accretion from the solar system's formation.

This evidence falls into broad categories of:

 1) Matching large scale mirrored features from head to body around virtually the whole circumference of the nucleus.

 2) Mini matches and 3D matches within high resolution images constrained by the position of the large scale matches.

 3)  Evidence of the removal of slabs due to the forces at play during stretch.

 4) Cracks perpendicular to and crossing the rotation plane.

 5) Monoliths matching their initial seating points.

 6) Evidence of the head lobe stretching before breaking away.

 7) Evidence of Dykes, slurry piles and related outgassing.

 8) Evidence that would falsify Contact Binary and Erosion theories.

 Thus while still being extremely relevant to the understanding the history of the solar system, the extreme recent processing would mask any relevant evidence from the initial formation of the solar system, and asteroids are more likely to hold more clues in that direction, especially with impact crater records to verify age of surface.

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Case for Continuing Stretch of 67P

There are a number of points of evidence on the neck of 67P which is telling us the evolution of the shape of the nucleus, and perhaps of comets in general. The swept back nature of Hapi, along with the roughly circular cross section of the centre of the neck is a pointer that the neck has evolved from stretching. The case is strong that the bilobed shape of 67P is from a stretch event that has kept the evidence from initial fracture in the matching shear lines of the lobes. That enables us as modellers to piece backwards that the original shape was roughly ellipsoid. However, the interpolation of the intermediate neck stage, and the timescale between intermediate stages is not able to be determined based just on the mechanisms hypothesised to be acting on the nucleus.

Next we can look at the formations on the neck and see if they can be connected to ongoing phenomena, which would allow us to extrapolate back a little bit. Cracks are ubiquitous on Anuket. Anuket is otherwise *not* covered in dust or rocks, but has the texture of quick dry cement. A lot of formations perpendicular to the neck give the impression of an evolving process related to the cracks. Cracks are notionally perpendicular to the rotation plane, cross the equator and appear open wider at around the equator. Outbursts are also seen to happen at Anuket which are likely related to the cracks.

A continuing stretch hypothesis is that the cracks open up at Anuket due to the nucleus rocking on the neck due to asymmetrical outgassing torque. The cracks then get filled from below by a slurry, which quickly hardens on exposure to vacuum. As the head rocks back, cracks open up at the neck on Bastet at the opposite side of the equator, which also gets filled in. The cycle has a net effect of lengthening the neck, absorbing the torque (and precession) which would otherwise accelerate the rotation even more, with the conservation of Angular Momentum and increased gravitational potential absorbing the torque energy. Each rotation may have the width of a crack lengthening of the neck, and the resultant neck feature would appear like a ridge or paired ridges either side of the crack, still notionally perpendicular to the neck. That would explain the myriad perpendicular ridges and valleys on Anuket and perhaps Bastet. This would mean that this process would have been happening steadily for quite some time, and that the original stretch event perhaps only travelled half way from an Ellipsoid to the current duck shape, and the rest has been happening over many perihelions since.

Accurate measurement of neck length evolution (or lack of evolution) will illuminate this situation.

Monday, April 06, 2015

The Growth Problem

As far as I can see, the "growth problem" with respect to comets is that without growth, there is no life cycle, and I accept that. That begs the question, however, that if I did not believe comets could grow, I would not believe that there could be a life cycle.

What it comes down to is that comets must have grown, otherwise they wouldn't exist. The scientific consensus is also that their active life is very finite - ie. That within a few million years of having reached the sun's neighbourhood it would either collide with a planet or the sun, or lose all its volatiles, or be ejected. This presumes that the movements, and thus the destiny of individual comets are completely determined by essentially random factors. The trivially nonrandom influences, such as outgassing, spin rate and YORP accelerations can in no way mitigate against this to have comets with features that allow for its continued survival. Essentially it is an "antidarwinist" philosophy. All comets are equally destined to die, regardless of their underlying differences and trivial nonrandomness. 

If we are looking at the comet for a life cycle, we are looking at a tiny slow motion sub segment. If we didn't know what a seed pod for a Brasil nut tree was, it looks lifeless and incapable of growing. Imagine if we could only see different pods at different times after being dropped from a tree, and never be able to see the tree, or even inside the pod. There is hints that the seed pod could break up into smaller seed pods. Clearly seeing where the seed may grow is crucial to working out whether we are looking at a rock, a living thing, a dead part of a living thing, or something which living things could be inside. Failing seeing growth, we could look at the chemistry of its surface, try to see what is inside. However, the two basics of life - reproduction and metabolism are the most crucial. 

Noting that brasil nut seed pods are similar to each other, and different to more obviously lifeless rocks around it is an important technique. Also the porosity of the exterior substance, the evidence that it has a shell and an interior that may have different properties.

This may indicate that if comets are living, it is the internal payload that is the most crucial, and that the only stage that we are seeing is the dissemination of panspermia comet seeds, and that we are seeing it in extreme slow motion. Maybe a molecular cloud passes by every few million years, and the cometary seeds that are lucky enough to find themselves in that cloud get a chance to grow, hence the importance of spreading the comet seeds widely, so that some get a chance to grow to keep the life cycle going.

This is highly speculative, of course, and it has nothing to do with the evidence that can falsify or fit with reproduction and metabolism.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Letting Go of Abiogenesis

In an earlier post in regards to standard evolutionary synthesis, my point was that simple "natural selection" on "random" mutations fails for the very Darwinian reasons the idea originated from. If it ever was the primary mechanism, it would have died out quite quickly from obviously superior mechanisms (that are, nevertheless adaptive in the same intuitive sense for reproductive success). At least, that is my conclusion and thesis.

Looking at a particular *new* *beneficial* mutation that one time or another has to happen on a path to some species to another more adapted to a particular environment, the probablistic difficulties are similar in scope to what is envisaged in abiogenesis, but of course, having working and sophisticated superior mechanisms already in play is different from something where you really only have the laws of physics, chemistry and probability as envisaged with abiogenesis.

All efforts to demonstrate in principle either backwards from the simplest life we know, or forward from the most complex non-living carbon based systems we can imagine, have come up with a blank. It reminded me of the difficulties and paradoxes with Euclid's fifth Axiom, and also the paradox with measurements of the speed of light being constant at different relative speeds. Most who research abiogenesis in some way or another don't perceive the paradox so much as it being difficult to conceive and not having evidence to lead you in any way or another to point in the right direction.

My idea was to, like mathematicians in their time, presuming Euclids fifth axiom false, or Einstein in his time, presuming the speed of light to be constant at all relative velocities. If one presumes abiogenesis as currently framed to be not just difficult, but actually impossible, where does that leave us with naturalistic possibilities with the origin of life?

My idea was to make this a bold falsifiable theory, and hope that some evidence would actually bear on it to rule it out or not. Certainly it makes perfect sense to me, but I want to give all support and aid anyone who thinks it can be proven wrong by some experiment or new observation.

My alternative to a process of abiogenesis to go from no life to chemical life, is instead that chemical life is designed (in an evolutionary process of design) by a life form which is not directly chemical based. I was thinking along the lines of Hoyle's dust cloud life as something at a similar place in idea space. My other thought was that the proximal antecedent to chemical life would use its own life cycle as a kind of template for the first independent living cell, which would have to be something like an amoeba.

When I first saw the image of Hartley 103P with these abiogenesis ideas in my head, I felt that comets were the only real candidate for life's proximal antecedent. Over spans of thousands to millions of years, they use the interplanetary superhighway to move from orbit to orbit expending very little relative fuel. To reproduce, they expend a great deal of energy speeding up their spin in a controlled way, stretching into a bilobed shape then continuing the spin up and stretch until it is two almost independent bodies tethered by a long skinny neck, which tidal alignment would easily sever "the umbilical cord" and the two separate comets would go their separate ways.

In light of this, for most of their lifespan, comets would be completely "dormant" and essentially invisible. Thus dark "asteroids" like Bennu, which is likely to be visited soon enough should have almost all the same features as comets, bar the outgassing. The distinction between live/dormant comets and 
dead asteroids would come down to colour - the lighter they are, the less likely they are to be just dormant, and features dominated by impacts rather than cometary flaking/stretching/outgassing would be a "dead" giveaway.

Anything opposite to this, I would feel would easily falsify my hypothesis. It being based on assuming abiogenesis as currently framed impossible, and comets being the proximal biological precedent. The former being broadly "M life theory" and the latter "living comet theory"

Quite frankly, I'd be very satisfied if they were falsified - my investment in the theories is based on an unshakeable hunch that they are right. I want to find evidence that they are wrong - please help me.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The collisional Problem (reblogged from Scute1133)

original post


“The Collisional Problem”. I might have dreamt that up as an apt subtitle for this post because by the time we’re done it will surely be merited but, too bad, I was beaten to it. Those words were already taken as the subtitle for a poster accompanying a talk on 67P’s status as a contact binary. The venue was the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting in December 2014 and the verdict on that binary status remains equivocal.

The abstract for the presentation was entitled,”The Nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko : a New Case of Contact Binary?”

It acknowledged that:

“A contact-binary among the Jupiter family comets (JFC) such as 67P would have profound implications since it must be primordial and the comet must have survived a possible history of collisions in the Kuiper belt. The present cumulative distribution function of size of nuclei of JFC comets indeed suggests a collisionally-relaxed population.”

In other words, there is countervailing evidence that militates against the existence of contact binaries in such a “collisionaly relaxed” population.

The collisional problem is, however, just the first of many for the CB theorists. They might be able to attempt an explanation of the rotation plane head-tip and fractures but not without jumping through flaming hoops in the process. They seem up to the task though. The AGU abstract considered the “unlikely…scenario of a re-accumulated body following a catastrophic collision” (because it really ought to have been blown to smithereens by now), as if it was a last resort to explain the two-lobed shape as a contact binary.

True to say, everything should be considered. Asymmetrical erosion (carving out the lobes via lopsided outgassing) was given a fair hearing too. But it seems the notion of ditching both theories altogether and contemplating stretch theory was just one step too far. 

At least one of those authors presented again two weeks later, at the American Astronomical Society’s 225th meeting (AAS 225, 4th to 8th January 2015), still referring to 67P as a contact binary or possibly a single, eroded body. Again, the phrase “a new case of contact binary?” was used, along with the poster, still reminding us of the collisional problem.

But the answer to the collisional problem was on the poster itself! It had a picture of the comet, looking straight down the z axis of rotation. The visible perimeter, the horizon, was therefore the xy rotation plane and the lower-right horizon was where the fractures happen to straddle the neck at 90 degrees. Furthermore, the uppermost tipping of the head kisses that horizon line too, right above the fractures.

That poster was what made me twig the relationship between rotation plane, spin-up, head tip and fractures that lead to this twinned pair of posts. So the answer to the collisional problem is what it was telling us all along- that 67P can’t be a contact binary. But you had to let go of CB theory fully, if only momentarily so, in order to see the hallmarks of stretch theory depicted on that poster. They are crying out at us: rotation plane, head-tip, fractures.

Here’s a tweet of “the collisional problem” poster:

Not much AAS 225 or AGU 14 material is available so we had to rely on tweets. I believe that at least two tweeters quoted here were present at the talks and the third, possibly so, or an astronomer with a live feed of some sort. I can’t be certain of this but they all seemed informed and genuine. 

Respondents to the above tweet and elsewhere on the #AGU14 hashtag, some from respected institutions, were happy to support CB theory. One suggested tidal friction leading to tidal locking (of head and body) and then settling against each other. Another supported the asymmetrical erosion tack but no one considered stretching. 

Incidentally, I can’t imagine a secondary with one side as flat as that shown in the photo below, offering that side up to the primary in an attempt to lock tidally. It would be inherently unstable. If it ever locked at all it would only be stable if it was the other way round with the topmost ‘crater’ facing into the neck. The reason it’s stable in stretch theory is because it always had a supporting neck to attenuate excessive tipping via compressive resistance to any downward vector on any side. This would even have been the case when it was ‘weightless’ during the stretch because the ‘locking’ referred to above is in two of the three rotational axes of the head, not its translational stretch. There are signs this compressive resistance did indeed happen because the head tip only went so far. Here’s the photo:

2015/01/img_22231.jpgPhoto from Part 10. Blue dots: xy rotation plane; yellow dots: ends of one fracture among several. 

Of course, this remarkably flat underside of the head can now be seen for what it is. It’s simply the extension of the now well-documented cliff, reemerging on the other side of the neck. This was the first photo to come out that showed it, proving the head lobe has a flat underside all the way across and overhangs the neck evenly on both sides. The entire plane seats itself back down neatly all round the currently visible portion of the comet body and will doubtless prove to do so on the dark side when it comes into view.

At another AAS 225 presentation, 67P was presented as a contact binary, plain and simple. The presenter pointed out that while several other comets had rocks joined end-to-end, this one had one on top of the other so it looked like a sphinx. That’s actually a far from fatuous distinction, though I’m not so sure anyone was aware of the fact. It should immediately point to the reason the head is tipped up at the back and lead on to the underlying mechanism at play: spin-up, leading to head-tip, stretch and transverse fractures. The head was thrown forward during spin-up due to the very fact that it’s “on top” and not at the axis extremity. But this fact becomes clear only if the rotation plane is considered. 

So, yes it does look like a sphinx but the contact binary assumption made on the way to that conclusion is troubling. The “on top” reference was unwittingly portentous but it became just an interesting observation in the absence of any willingness to loosen the grip on CB theory. Here are the relevant tweets:

The presenter went on to say that the fractures in the neck were due to the head rocking against the neck. That’s true up to a point. It’s due to the head tipping forward during the stretch, among other things, but “rocking against” (the tweeter’s words) suggests random movement with no known cause. Here’s the tweet:

As if this succession of respected presentations wasn’t enough to leave stretch theory buried for good another American Geophysical Union presentation, on December 18th 2015, managed to take all the evidence as presented in Part 10, which proves the comet stretched and use it, in error, to prove the exact opposite: that 67P’s shape resulted from the head lobe crashing in from the opposite direction. A sure case of a contact binary. Here’s an article from Wired magazine that reported on that presentation:

The reasoning went that, seeing as the strata in the head lobe and the body lobe don’t align, they can’t be related and so they must be two different bodies that drifted together. But the only reason they don’t align is the simple fact that the head has tipped up, taking them out of alignment. The Wired article explained that using new images taken with Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera, the presenter and his colleagues found “terrace-like layers” on the comet’s body and that:

“The layering aligns perfectly with parallel lines seen on the opposite side of the body, suggesting that these layers extend through the body as part of its internal structure. Although the head also has layers, they don’t align with those in the body, which implies that the two lobes were once two separate pieces. If the head and body were made from one piece, the layers should extend through both lobes in the same direction.”

This line of thinking presupposes that the only alternative to contact binary theory is asymmetrical erosion gouging a scoop out of a single rock. The only way the presenter could envisage the strata lining up through both lobes was in the scenario where a single body started out with its strata intact all the way across and then this scoop was removed, leaving the two separate lobes but with their strata still in alignment. 

That assumption is what steered the presenter away from the most obvious solution- that the head had tipped up, taking the strata out of alignment. If it was tipped back down by 30-40 degrees and seated onto the body, the strata lines would align perfectly, as demonstrated in part 6 of this series.

But it was the head-tip itself that led him to believe that that strata had always been out of alignment so this crucial piece of evidence that so strongly points to stretch theory was used unwittingly and in error to ‘prove’ instead that contact binary theory is correct.

That is a perfect example of the adherence to a cherished theory blocking out even the very thought processes that might lead to the correct theory- a case of fitting new data to an old way of thinking, rather than letting new information speak for itself.

It is also of note that this hypothesing around the finer points of CB theory is based on the highest resolution photos from the OSIRIS camera on the Rosetta orbiter. Just a few scientists are privy to this data at the time of writing (including those with the collisional problem) and it was my honest opinion that they could not help but alight on stretch theory with the abundance of evidence before them, much of it still to come in the next few parts of this series. 

However, the Wired article went still further:

“The neck of the comet also shows signs of a collision between the head and the body. The region is covered in big fractures, [the ones straddling the xy rotation plane in the photo above] which would have been created by shockwaves that blasted through the comet during a crash. Some of the fractures are also misaligned, suggesting that they belonged to what were separate, smaller chunks that were floating around when the head merged with the body.”

I have never seen a compressive force cause fractures in a concave surface without it resulting in an explosive shearing event. There’s simply nowhere else for the material to go. Witness compression-testing of concrete pillars that aren’t even concave. They explode dramatically. If further compression of the comet’s neck material is invoked to counter that claim, it is self-contradictory because if it can compress still further it won’t fracture. Indeed, with a porosity of 74%, the neck would have plenty of give in compression and at most it would simply bulge out in folds. But it would not fracture under compression unless it sheared violently as well. 

The fractures have clearly resulted from tensile, flexion and torsional forces none of which are compressive (except where flexion compresses the opposite side of the neck). 

Incidentally, the mention that the fractures are ‘misaligned’ is interesting. Their average direction is distinctly at right angles to the rotation plane and in successive parallel lines. Yes, they do make noticeable excursions from that simple large-scale picture, presumably due to structural anomalies, but the overall impression is as presented in the photo above and the others in Part 10 (reproduced below). 

So, according to this second AGU presentation, as well as the head rocking against the neck (on the sphinx), it had first of all collided with the neck, which was apparently ready-formed, protruding into empty space and pointing in exactly the right direction to make the catch. Once captured, the head ended up perfectly centred with its flat plane conveniently facing downwards, allowing it to overhanging evenly all the way round the neck. That’s quite an impressive claim, provoking at least four tough questions.

Moreover, even if the idea of the colliding head causing the fractures appeared to have some merit at first glance, it wouldn’t explain why those fractures are clustered in parallel lines, at one end of the comet, exactly straddling the rotation plane, at 90 degrees to it, sitting right under the most tipped-up part of the head, and found nowhere else on the neck.

That’s six more really tough questions, ten in total, for the CB adherents to answer regarding the collision of head and body- and that’s the real collisonal problem here, the one that truly merits the subtitle.

The simple answer is that this is where the neck stretched the most and the head tipped forward. Stretch theory would not only answer those 10 questions with ease, it would also predict all ten outcomes as being highly likely.

If they did somehow manage to jump through all ten hoops, the CB theorists would then have to go on to explain why the plan-view matches between head and body were irrelevant- along with their corroborating 3D matches (Parts 1-5). Then explain away the ridges that straddle head and body, followed by the matching strata layers (Part 6). After that, the 30-metre uplifted ‘gull wings’ and slurry piles arising, apparently, from gentle sublimation (Part 7). Then the dykes (Part 8), and the missing slabs (Part 9) -of which there are several more to come- and at least three more as yet unpublished pieces of compelling evidence. That’s eleven more hoops, twenty-one in total to date and counting.

Sorry, twenty-two, I forgot the the original “collisional problem”.

In conclusion, stretch theory answers a multitude of questions that contact binary theory cannot hope to address. Yet on January 8th 2015, the day that AAS 225 closed for business, and astronomers and reporters tweeted views of Seattle en route to the airport, stretch theory had yet to see the light of day.

Copyright ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0
Here are the other two photos from part 10:



Tuesday, March 03, 2015

What is wrong with standard evolutionary synthesis

With this explanation, I will use terms that may normally be associated with informatics. This is strictly in use for shorthand in the same way that "running the program" is expressing the genes that are associated with DNA that may or may not have mutated. It should be in no way taken to mean that it is scientifically accepted to use the arguments made of a Turing machine or computer science to come to conclusions in regards to Dna mechanisms. 
Also, I am not big on citations. I may mention people like Popper, Wickramasinge, Lennox, etc. but not based on their authority on any subject or another. My thoughts are to be considered based on first principles, and perhaps more abstract like in a mathematical argument rather than a debate scored by a selected audience.

Looking at the synthesis in historical terms, it has evolved from Darwinism, where the main thrust is the origin of species. Life on earth, when exposed to a different environment will adapt to that environment over generations. This was documented and well observed in the Galapagos. Extrapolating from the changes in observed Galapagos species from mainland ones, to the length of time of the age of the earth, it is quite logical to extend that process to all known species. Naively, the process was seen to extrapolate back past the Last common ancestor, and Darwinism included abiogenesis in a kind of continuum from no life to the variety we see today. Now, in maths as in science, interpolation is always a safer bet than extrapolation, thus two species which are closely related in time, genetics and space can confidently have intermediates placed in there, and have a rough idea of smaller changes over time leading from one to another. Extrapolation beyond the last common ancestor is a completely different kettle of fish, because we have no evidence to go on at all, but at any rate, in a philosophical sense, belief in evolution is highly correlated to a belief in abiogenesis.
This leads on to the hypothesis of "how" adaptation happens. In the case where a beneficial mutation reflects a particular environmental "selection", I will use the shortcut that the environment "programs" that particular mutation. As said in the first paragraph, this is just a shortcut, in no way am I ascribing informatics to the process. In this sense it just means that selective pressures are colluding to give differential advantage to individuals and/or groups and/or populations that end up with that mutation. For the individual that first gets this mutation, this is like winning at the roulette wheel. Blind watchmaker analogies and the use of the word random imply that there need not, and probably is not any direct or indirect, partial or even trace causal interaction between the environment and the beneficial mutation. It is like the roulette wheels are assumed to be perfectly balanced, the programming is strictly done, and only done by selective pressures, which involves more successful reproduction and survival with than without.
Clearly the "goal" of a beneficial mutation is one which better enables survival in a (perhaps changed) environment, and of course the environment will have the final say, but Darwinially speaking, a more (even trivially more) efficient programming technique than that envisaged, by a "blind watchmaker" will *always* win over the completely causally unconnected technique. Thus just as "fitter" organisms will win over the less fit even at the cost of extinctions of some of the less fit species, so too fitter "programming systems" will win over "blind watchmaker" programming systems.

This is perhaps like saying that roulette wheels are trivially non-level, but professional gamblers that measure the level in secret, and know exactly how to win will consistently end up in front while everybody else will lose to the house.

The "environment" is replete with symbiotic organisms that are both part of the environment, react to environmental cues, cause trivially non-random mutations in other organisms (eg through causing stress, horizontal gene transfer, activity of viruses, transport of mutagens, etc.) and thus can allow organisms to "beat the house" of the blind watchmaker. Species that do not or cannot have these "programmer helpers" will have much less chance to thrive under new environmental stresses. 

This is the crux of my argument that natural selection on random mutations *cannot* explain adaptation that is as efficient as observed in, for example resistance to pesticides, because more efficient adaptations win against naive randomness and brute force selection any day.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Revisiting Ockhams Razor and broader ramifications

 A few years ago, back when I was at a loss as to why panspermia was given such a wide berth from conventional science, especially in concern with abiogenesis, my digging through Wikipedia led me to the conclusion that in choosing between Geogenesis and (other plausible theories that lead to) panspermia, parsimony was said to be invoked. Parsimony was interrelated with Ockhams razor. My perception was and still is that Geogenesis has been given no case to answer in terms of requirement for evidence. Ie. There is no evidence that abiogenesis has happened on Earth or for that matter any Earthlike planet. At the same time, the main case against panspermia is that there is "no convincing evidence" for it, and certainly no evidence for an "alternative mechanism" for abiogenesis (other than perhaps another planet with a mechanism essentially the same as what it would be on Earth) 
I thought it a bit strange that an alternative theory is sidelined completely from mainstream scientific research for the exact kind of lack of evidence that the incumbent mechanism has. No effort to Differentially tally "circumstantial" evidence between what could be a large number of plausible mechanisms and accompanying theories is ever encouraged in a scientific context. When I specifically studied the philosophy behind parsimony and Ockhams razor I came across a descriptive phrase "parsimony would usually imply a shift in the burden of proof". This described precisely what I perceived was happening in many questions between incumbent abiogenesis, evolution, astrobiology, and even astronomical object origins and any alternatives; many of which had some circumstantial evidence in their favour. 

These incumbent ideas implicitly become "new axioms" ie. They are treated as "obviously true" and quite crucially are used to come to conclusions critically dependent on these ideas. Remembering that these axioms have no evidence (any more than other ideas that are rejected) the result is that conclusions become "science" equal to that science that is constantly tested through repeatable observable phenomena.

This has been my basis of rejecting Ockhams razor, particularly for the historical sciences, which are not as subject to constant repeatable observable phenomena. 

Of course, it is not as simple as that and it has been pointed out to me that Ockhams razor is functional. Without it, one cannot reasonably perform science or engineering. Surely, if a theory is falsifiable, false theories will reveal themselves, and we can, for a time, use any plausible theory as a basis for knowledge in a field until the very moment it can be falsified. The problem to me, is that there is a great discrepancy between aspects of science that are verifiable and aspects that aren't. Aspects that are verifiable deserve no doubt to their validity. The probability that they may be completely wrong is negligible to nil. For aspects of science that are not verifiable, these are determined by a number of different philosophical techniques that may be called a great number of things - syntheses, choosing the simplest explanation that fits the data, generalising a principle from convincing anecdotes, consensus of the peer of scientists who have most deeply studied the subject, etc. the truth is, one way or another, they all amount to Ockhams razor, and they all implicitly shift the burden of proof away from the chosen theory where all other plausible theories cannot be verified  including the chosen one. The probability that the chosen theory can be completely wrong, or even impossible, is not calculable by the very nature of the phenomenon that it is explaining, but the thing that is certain is that the probability is many orders of magnitude greater than that which is verifiable.

This is the basis of my thesis that to be of better predictive value, science has to let go of Ockhams razor, and periodically shift the burden of proof back on to incumbent theories. This thesis is based on looking at science from "the outside". That is, it doesn't use one particular branch of science, to show evidence against a theory from another branch. It doesn't use observations (or amassed evidence) interpreted in the context of current incumbent theories to seed doubt on a high profile incumbent theory.

In fact, it takes an intelligent audience of outside observers who are not invested in the historical sciences, especially the status quo, to notice anything awry. Unfortunately, that limits the philosophical counter check to "Ockham razor science" to theistic philosophies with their own chosen "parsimony" which involves or invokes a God explanation explicitly or implicitly. Thus, the "negative" arguments against historical sciences, should be studied safe in the knowledge that the "positive" arguments as to  theistic explanations are doubly "Ockham razor science" and can be safely ignored.

The explanation of why it is scientifically valid, is based on "usefulness". Now if simplifications allows us predictive power, or if the maths works out better or more correctly more often that is one thing. If one is to say that heliocentricity is a "simplification" over geocentricity, this is not what I am talking about. 
If the explanation is that a simplification "works" so should be kept until proven wrong, then well it depends on the nature of the falsifiability of the synthesis in question.
Comparing different examples in history, the scientific and philosophical standard that God's omnipotence can explain one or another phenomena is at one extreme which is not generally falsifiable. Pre-tectonic plate theory geology stuck despite statistically damning evidence that continents thousands of kilometres apart were once connected. I don't see why continuing to think that places like the East Coast of South America and the West coast of Africa were "statistically independent" could possibly be "useful" in a geological sense. A theory without a verifiable mechanism that gives statistically useful results ought to be better than a (wrong) theory with an accepted mechanism that does not give those statistically useful results (also assuming that the synthesis is also not predictive or mathematical in nature), thus the former should be considered the best science can offer rather than the latter.
One question I ask of standard evolutionary synthesis is "how is it useful?", how does it "work" would a similar but importantly different statement be just as "useful" and "work" in the same way? My perception is that the mechanism's usefulness is basically self-serving to the naturist philosophy. And if you add that evolution demonstrates and clarifies the inter-relationship between all the species on Earth, mechanism independent statements are just as useful and work in the same way.