As a friend of mine in Florida says:
You can’t kill stupid, but you can dull it with a 4×2
Some ideas are so comically stupid that I thought there was no point writing about them. And yet, one after another, people who can type are putting forward these ideas on this blog.. At first I wondered if I was the object of a practical joke. Some kind of parody. Perhaps the joke is on me. But, just in case I was wrong about the practical joke..
If you pick up a textbook on heat transfer that includes a treatment of radiative heat transfer you find no mention of Arrhenius.
If you pick up a textbook on atmospheric physics none of the equations come from Arrhenius.
Yet there is a steady stream of entertaining “papers” which describe “where Arrhenius went wrong”, “Arrhenius and his debates with Fourier”. Who cares?
Likewise, if you study equations of motion in a rotating frame there is no discussion of where Newton went wrong, or where he got it right, or debates he got right or wrong with contemporaries. Who knows? Who cares?
History is fascinating. But if you want to study physics you can study it pretty well without reading about obscure debates between people who were in the formulation stages of the field.
Here are the building blocks of atmospheric radiation:
- The emission of radiation – described by Nobel prize winner Max Planck’s equation and modified by the material property called emissivity (this is wavelength dependent)
- The absorption of radiation by a surface – described by the material property called absorptivity (this is wavelength dependent and equal at the same wavelength and direction to emissivity)
- The Beer-Lambert law of absorption of radiation by a gas
- The spectral absorption characteristics of gases – currently contained in the HITRAN database – and based on work carried out over many decades and written up in journals like Journal of Quantitative Spectroscopy and Radiative Transfer
- The theory of radiative transfer – the Schwarzschild equation – which was well documented by Nobel prize winner Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar in his 1952 book Radiative Transfer (and by many physicists since)
The steady stream of stupidity will undoubtedly continue, but if you are interested in learning about science then you can rule out blogs that promote papers which earnestly explain “where Arrhenius went wrong”.
Hit them with a 4 by 2.
Or, ask the writer where Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar went wrong in his 1952 work Radiative Transfer. Ask the writer where Richard M. Goody went wrong. He wrote the seminal Atmospheric Radiation: Theoretical Basis in 1964.
They won’t even know these books exist and will have never read them. These books contain equations that are thoroughly proven over the last 100 years. There is no debate about them in the world of physics. In the world of fantasy blogs, maybe.
There is also a steady stream of people who believe an idea yet more amazing. Somehow basic atmospheric physics is proven wrong because of the last 15 years of temperature history.
The idea seems to be:
More CO2 is believed to have some radiative effect in the climate because of the last 100 years of temperature history, climate scientists saw some link and tried to explain it using CO2, but now there has been no significant temperature increase for the last x years this obviously demonstrates the original idea was false..
If you think this, please go and find a piece of 4×2 and ask a friend to hit you across the forehead with it. Repeat. I can’t account for this level of stupidity but I have seen that it exists.
An alternative idea, that I will put forward, one that has evidence, is that scientists discovered that they can reliably predict:
- emission of radiation from a surface
- emission of radiation from a gas
- absorption of radiation by a surface
- absorption of radiation by a gas
- how to add up, subtract, divide and multiply, raise numbers to the power of, and other ninja mathematics
The question I have for the people with these comical ideas:
Do you think that decades of spectroscopy professionals have just failed to measure absorption? Their experiments were some kind of farce? No one noticed they made up all the results?
Do you think Max Planck was wrong?
It is possible that climate is slightly complicated and temperature history relies upon more than one variable?
Did someone teach you that the absorption and emission of radiation was only “developed” by someone analyzing temperature vs CO2 since 1970 and not a single scientist thought to do any other measurements? Why did you believe them?
Bring out the 4×2.
Note – this article is a placeholder so I don’t have to bother typing out a subset of these points for the next entertaining commenter..
Update July 10th with the story of Fred the Charlatan
Let’s take the analogy of a small boat crossing the Atlantic.
Analogies don’t prove anything, they are for illustration. For proof, please review Theory and Experiment – Atmospheric Radiation.
We’ve done a few crossings and it’s taken 45 days, 42 days and 46 days (I have no idea what the right time is, I’m not a nautical person).
We measure the engine output – the torque of the propellors. We want to get across quicker. So Fred the engine guy makes a few adjustments and we remeasure the torque at 5% higher. We also do Fred’s standardized test, which is to zip across a local sheltered bay with no currents, no waves and no wind – the time taken for Fred’s standarized test is 4% faster. Nice.
So we all set out on our journey across the Atlantic. Winds, rain, waves, ocean currents. We have our books to read, Belgian beer and red wine and the time flies. Oh no, when we get to our final destination, it’s actually taken 47 days.
Clearly Fred is some kind of charlatan! No need to check his measurements or review the time across the bay. We didn’t make it across the Atlantic in less time and clearly the ONLY variable involved in that expedition was the output of the propellor.
Well, there’s no point trying to use more powerful engines to get across the Atlantic (or any ocean) faster. Torque has no relationship to speed. Case closed.