Radiation, Mistakes, and Assumptions

first_imgThree news items about atomic radiation should cause us to beware of academic overstatement.Atomic Bomb EffectsNobody feels “good” about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even those who support Truman’s decision to drop two atomic bombs in 1945 to end World War II in the Pacific groan at the immensity of suffering for those who survived the blasts. What is rarely acknowledged, however, is that many scientific prophets of doom at the time were wrong; they exaggerated the risks of cancer and radiation disease. Science Daily brings this aspect to light with the headline, “Long-term health effects of Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs not as dire as perceived: Mismatch between public perception and decades of research on nearly 200,000 survivors and their children.” We saw something similar on the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster: effects were bad, but not as bad as the experts had predicted (4/21/16). None of these considerations rationalize these disasters or mitigate the suffering. The point is that experts can be prone to overstate what they know.Tree RingsPhysOrg reports on new findings that promise something previously unknown about tree ring dating method — one of the most trusted radiometric dating methods in use today: “Tree-rings reveal secret clocks that could reset key dates across the ancient world.” In short, Oxford scientists found that solar bursts are capable of increasing radiocarbon levels in organic material.Scholars believe that intense solar storms caused major bursts of radiation to strike the Earth in 775 and 994AD, which resulted in distinct spikes in the concentration of radiocarbon in trees growing at that time. The events are precisely datable because the tree-rings belong to archives in which the growth year of each tree-ring is exactly known. In the new research, the authors outline how they could detect similar spikes elsewhere within the thousands of years of available tree-ring material from across the world.While the scientists can calibrate the radiocarbon with the two known dates of 775 and 994 AD, they believe earlier bursts could be detected. By implication, though, if radiocarbon concentrations are not uniform, what does this do to the accuracy of dates calculated?Lead author Dr Michael Dee, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Variations in atmospheric radiocarbon concentration are largely the result of carbon dioxide emissions from activity from volcanoes and the ocean, but they are also influenced by changes in solar activity. The spikes in 775 and 994AD were almost vertical and of comparable magnitude all around the Earth. Such markers can be easily identified in known-age tree-rings and are fixed in time. In the past, we have had floating estimates of when things may have happened, but these secret clocks could reset chronologies concerning important world civilisations with the potential to date events that happened many thousands of years ago to the exact year.’To be sure, the scientists believe their work will refine existing dates. The important observation here, though, is that after over 50 years of radiocarbon dating, scientists just now found “secret clocks” that were previously unknown, and therefore not included in prior confidently-announced dates. The Oxford team thinks that their new knowledge has the potential to reset clocks. The next question to ask is, what other unknowns may surface in the future to cast doubt on today’s confident scientific claims about the past? It’s already happened before in radiocarbon dating. For instance, early on it was discovered that above-ground atomic bomb tests had altered atmospheric ratios of carbon-14. This had to be taken into account in subsequent calculations.(Note: because of its relatively short half-life of 5,730 years, radiocarbon cannot be used to calculate dates older than 100,000 years maximum. The millions-of-years calculations come from longer-lived isotopes, such as uranium).Full Fathom FiveA paper in PNAS is confident to the point of being intimidating to the layman. German and Austrian scientists claim to have proven that the Earth was bathed in radiation from a supernova 2.7 million years ago. The radiation left its signature on seashells for a million years, then vanished. The signature is in the form of iron-60 (60Fe) that has a long half-life and can only be produced by exploding stars, they assert. They even think they have located the supernova 300 light-years away. Science Daily shares the gist of the claim with similar levels of confidence, but without the intimidating pages of equations and graphs. It looks certain; their “time-resolved 2-million-year-old supernova activity discovered in Earth’s microfossil record” seems to offer irrefutable proof of long ages. Seashells were deposited slowly in ocean sediments, carrying the signature of 60Fe, as the solar system spent a million years passing through the supernova’s radiation field.Only a careful look at the Materials & Methods shows possible points of weakness. First, consider that they only studied small samples from two drill cores from the Pacific. Can these speak to the whole earth and its history in interstellar space? Moreover, these cores were already dated by evolutionary biostratigraphy to be Pleistocene in age. The scientists did not question that. Then, we see that the levels detected are extremely tiny. 60Fe isotopes detected were on the order of one ten-quadrillionth the level of normal 56Fe (~10-16 to one). The error bars on both axes are large for all the data points. The scientists still feel that the data exceed the one-sigma confidence level, and they can correlate it with 60Fe in moon dust. But moon rocks were not made from living creatures deposited in water. For these and other reasons, how confident can they really be? Are they overstating their case?The history of science teaches that the most confident claims of any era are often wrong. Always look for the assumptions. Never take a scientist’s appearance of certitude as a substitute for data and logic. Look for the underlying worldview.The discovery of soft tissue in dinosaur bones flies in the face of long-age claims. Bob Enyart lists scientific papers showing dinosaur soft tissue that no scientist believed could possibly last longer than a few centuries or millennia. He also lists evidence of radiocarbon everywhere it shouldn’t be, even in diamonds, the world’s hardest material (and therefore impermeable to contamination). These are large, serious anomalies that should cause major doubts about millions-of-years claims, but they are routinely ignored by the secular media. Why? They worship Darwin, who needs the time.Exercise: Apply what you have learned from this entry to claims in PhysOrg about stalactites in China. Do they infallibly show a record of 640,000 years of monsoons?(Visited 115 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Alice Walker to explore Biko ties

first_imgProf Alice Walker, who’s currently in SouthAfrica to deliver the annual Steve BikoMemorial Lecture, is best known for heraward-winning novel The Colour Purple.(Image: Nicky Rehbock) Portraits of individuals who have deliveredpast lectures hang in hall of fame at theSteve Biko Foundation in Johannesburg.Artworks of former presidents NelsonMandela and Thabo Mbeki are amongthem.(Image: Janine Erasmus) MEDIA CONTACTS • Steve Biko Foundation +27 11 403 0310RELATED ARTICLES• Biko’s legacy lives on • Canada, asylum and the sprinkler salesman• Food security starts at home • South African literatureNicky RehbockProf Alice Walker has arrived in South Africa to deliver the 11th annual lecture honouring the late Stephen Bantu Biko, an anti-apartheid activist and leader who founded the Black Consciousness Movement.Walker, best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Colour Purple, was invited to the country by the Steve Biko Foundation, which was set up in his memory. Biko died while in police custody on 12 September 1977.“The Steve Biko Foundation is honoured to be hosting Professor Alice Walker on her first visit to South Africa. In short, she embodies everything that Bantu Stephen Biko stood for during his life,” said Nkosinathi Biko, CEO of the foundation, and son of Stephen.This will be the first time the lecture is delivered by someone from outside Africa, and only the second time it’s been delivered by a woman – the first being Dr Mamphela Ramphele, an internationally respected South African activist, academic, author, businesswoman and medical doctor. Ramphele and Biko had two children, although he was married to someone else at the time.“It’s because of Professor Walker’s eloquent articulation of the link between identity, activism and social change that the foundation asked her to deliver the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture this year,” said the younger Biko.The lecture will take place at the University of Cape Town on 9 September 2010 and is titled Coming to see you since I was five years old: An American Poet’s Connection to the South African soul.According to the foundation, the Steve Biko Memorial Lecture was initiated to examine the relationship between individuals and society, to explore triumphs over inequality, and to speak to challenges and opportunities facing people of African descent.Ties that bindWhen asked at a recent press conference what South Africans can expect from the lecture, Walker said: “You perhaps know my poem, Expect Nothing – Live Frugally on Surprise. I prefer to be spontaneous and live in the moment.”Although this response is cryptic, the author did disclose that she would “address issues of my life and how Steve Biko and I are definitely sister and brother in our love for people”.She added, “For me this journey is an exploration of how close I feel to Steve Biko in his legacy of caring.”Walker explained that her link with Biko is based on a “determination to always tell the truth” and the fact that both lived during times of intense political turmoil in the mid-1960s and 1970s.“Biko lived in dangerous places – and so did I. In the 1960s I was living in Mississippi state, after graduating from college in New York city, and I was trying to bring literacy to people who had little or none. There were fire-bombings, and people were lynched and killed. It was bloody and dangerous in the way that South Africans lived for a very long time during apartheid.“I will talk about the legacy of Steve Biko and connect our struggles, the paths we’ve crossed and the desire for freedom and growth.“It boils down to humanity – Biko had a joy of life. It’s my love, respect and admiration for Stephen Biko that drew me here to South Africa.”At the conference a member of the press asked Walker how it felt to be the first non-African to deliver the lecture. “I take the long view in that there are no non-Africans,” she said.“Everyone has been inspired by his life over the decades. There are places where I feel called to because of sincere work, and I am honoured to go wherever that may be.“I love Biko’s fearlessness. He was someone with such integrity – he was a whole being. He fought for his existence with the very last of his energy.“In this love of people and hope for humanity’s advancement we must acknowledge we have it all within us – it’s just a matter of how we use it,” she added.Warrior for peaceWalker is also a poet, short-story writer, essayist, anthologist, teacher, editor, publisher and activist, with a deep interest in race and gender. She was born in 1944 in Georgia, US.She’s a self-described “daughter of rural peasantry”, growing up in the American south in the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930s.After completing high school in 1961 she became involved in the civil rights movement, taking depositions from black Americans who had been evicted from their homes for attempting to register to vote.Published in 1982, The Colour Purple focuses on the struggle of black American women in rural Georgia in the first half of the 20th century, particularly the life of Celie, who writes a series of unburdening letters to God after being repeatedly raped and beaten by her father.The book became a bestseller and was soon made into a critically acclaimed film directed by Steven Spielberg. The stellar cast included Oprah Winfrey as well as Hollywood greats like Danny Glover and Whoopi Goldberg. In 2005 it was adapted into a Broadway musical play.The Colour Purple won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983, making Walker the first black American woman to receive such an honour.Her writings have been have been translated into more than 24 languages and her books have sold over 10-million copies.last_img read more

Magic stun reeling Cavs as LeBron says he’s staying put

first_imgNEXT BLOCK ASIA 2.0 introduces GURUS AWARDS to recognize and reward industry influencers The Cavaliers scored 43 points in the first quarter, but then went almost 6½ minutes without scoring in the fourth. They played the second half without coach Tyronn Lue, who went to the locker room in the second quarter with what the team said was an illness.“It’s like right now, when we hit adversity, we go our separate ways,” guard Isaiah Thomas said. “And that’s just how I feel and it looks like that as well.”The Magic made their first 10 shots of the second half and won consecutive games for the first time since Nov. 8-10.James did not have a rebound or an assist in a foul-plagued second half.“I gave my teammates some opportunities to knock ’em down, but they just didn’t go. You can’t get assists when they don’t go down, but that doesn’t stop me from finding my guys on the floor,” he said. “At this point it’s not what you say, it’s what you do. We’ve got to go out and play well as a collective group, everyone hitting at the right time on all cylinders, and right now we’re not doing that.”ADVERTISEMENT John Lloyd Cruz a dashing guest at Vhong Navarro’s wedding Ingram, Randle lead Lakers over Suns Globe Business launches leading cloud-enabled and hardware-agnostic conferencing platform in PH Read Next The Cavaliers fell apart in the second half and lost for the 14th time in 21 games. They have given up an average of 122.4 points in their last five losses.“I couldn’t give up on my teammates like that. I just couldn’t do it,” James said after scoring 25 points. “We put too much into the game every single day.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“This is no time to be ashamed about our season,” he added. “We’ve got quite a few games left. If we’re still serious about the season, then we’ve got to play some good ball at some point.”Jonathon Simmons scored 22 of his career-high 34 points in the third quarter for the Magic, who broke a nine-game home-court losing streak against Cleveland. Simmons made seven of eight shots in his 22-point quarter, finishing the period with a 3-point buzzer shot in a game in which he almost did not play because of a sprained right ankle.“To be honest, adrenaline was just going and I didn’t even realize what was going on,” Simmons said. “I was just trying to play hard and trying not to have another setback.”J.R. Smith made three 3-pointers in the first four minutes to help the Cavaliers (30-22) take a 15-4 lead, and they led by 21 points late in the first half.Jeff Green dunked to put the Cavaliers up 61-40 with 4:50 left in the half, but they went scoreless for almost four minutes while the Magic (17-36) sliced nine points off the lead.James opened the second half with a couple of 3-pointers to regain a 16-point lead for Cleveland, but Simmons scored 12 points during the Magic’s 19-2 run that gave them their first lead of the game at 78-77 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.James was called for his fourth foul just 17 seconds later and sat for more than seven minutes.When he re-entered the game with 10:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Magic ran off 14 straight points to lead 108-92.Dwyane Wade banked in a 3-pointer for Cleveland’s only points in the first 7:25 of the fourth quarter.TIP-INSCavaliers: Wade missed the morning shootaround with an illness but played 22 minutes.Magic: Simmons’ 22-point quarter was three points short of the franchise record set by Tracy McGrady in 2003. … F Aaron Gordon missed a fifth straight game with a strained left hip flexor and has withdrawn from the Slam Dunk Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend.UP NEXT Cavaliers: Host Minnesota on Wednesday.Magic: Host Atlanta on Thursday. MOST READ Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon Citycenter_img LATEST STORIES Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Slow and steady hope for near-extinct Bangladesh tortoises Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, rear, and center Tristan Thompson defend against Orlando Magic forward Jonathon Simmons during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, in Orlando, Fla. The Magic won 116-98. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)ORLANDO, Fla. — After another embarrassing defeat and two days before the trade deadline, LeBron James let it be known he’s not going anywhere, at least for now.“I’m here for this season right now to try and figure out a way we can still compete,” James said after his Cleveland Cavaliers blew a 21-point lead in a 116-98 loss to the Orlando Magic. “I owe it to my teammates to finish this season out no matter how it ends up. I would never waive my no-trade clause.”ADVERTISEMENT Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. AFP official booed out of forum 2 ‘newbie’ drug pushers fall in Lucena sting View commentslast_img read more