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Video: Tour of the Moon in 4K

Take a virtual tour of the Moon in all-new 4K resolution, thanks to data provided by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As the visualization moves around the near side, far side, north and south poles, we highlight interesting features, sites, and information gathered on the lunar terrain.

Crawford and Epstein on “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress”

Jason Crawford has written an positive summary of Steven Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress over at his blog Roots of Progress:

Enlightenment Now is just what the world needs right now. It is a defense of the ideas and values that have created the modern world, and a defense of that world itself. I don’t agree with every word of it, but I agree with its theme and essence. The weakest aspect of the book, to me, is its morality. “Humanism” is a great start, because it sets the right standard: human life and everything that helps people thrive and prosper. But Pinker largely ignores issues of individualism vs. collectivism, and egoism vs. altruism, that I see as core to the ideological struggles of the modern world. And closely related, Pinker falls short of painting a truly inspiring, motivating picture, a heroic ideal to strive for. He himself indicates this in the final pages of the book, when he writes: “The case for Enlightenment Now is not just a matter of debunking fallacies or disseminating data. It may be cast as a stirring narrative, and I hope that people with more artistic flair and rhetorical power than I can tell it better and spread it farther.” I hope they do, as well. But overall, this is a great book, full of profound truths, meticulously researched, lucidly argued, and entertainingly written. Everyone who cares about the big issues of human life, society, politics and culture should read it. [Enlightenment Now: A summary]

One problem with Pinker’s book, according to energy expert Alex Epstein — author of the Moral Case For Fossil Fuels, is his analysis of climate and energy. Writes Epstein:

I am generally very excited about Steven Pinker’s new book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Unfortunately, the book’s treatment of climate and energy is deeply problematic. A few nights ago I recorded a 20 minute analysis of the climate section of the book. You don’t need a copy of the book to follow along since the text of the book is in the video. I hope you find my analysis useful. I think the principles involved apply to many smart people who get this issue wrong. Bonus: At the end of the video I defend “the Koch Brothers” from Pinker’s smearing. I haven’t spoken much about them publicly so I was glad to get the opportunity. [What’s wrong with Steven Pinker’s analysis of climate and energy | Center for Industrial Progress]

Epstein’s particular analysis and Crawford’s overall review are both important reading on this vital topic.

 

The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal

Dr. Edwin Locke has just released a new book defending volition, called “The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal.”

According to Dr. Locke, “Determinism is the doctrine that everything we think, feel, believe, and do is caused by factors outside our control—that we have no choice regarding our character, our thoughts, our actions, our lives. There have been many forms of determinism but the one that is most popular today is based on neuroscience, with the enthusiastic support of many psychologists, philosophers, and physical scientists (e.g., physicists). This version argues that we are controlled by our physical brains with the brain being which are set in motion by environmental factors. The debate continues because many people disagree with determinism and assert that they have, in some form, free will. Determinists insist that such a belief represents “folk psychology,” an illusion held by people who are ignorant of what science has allegedly proved.”

“Determinists typically believe that:

  • Consciousness is the same thing as brain activity (as opposed to requiring a brain)
  • The conscious mind, though real, plays no significant role in human life
  • The human mind is not significantly different from that of the lower animals such as chimpanzees
  • All causes are material (or mechanical)
  • Goal-directed action applies equally to people and machines
  • The concept of a self or the self as a causal agent has no intelligible meaning
  • Key neuroscience experiments have proven that the intention to act appears after the brain has already decided what to do
  • Determinism is not only compatible with objective knowledge but is also the only guarantee of objective knowledge, because it is based on scientific truth
  • Determinism has to be either proved or disproved based on philosophical and/or scientific arguments
  • Free will, at best, is a necessary illusion

“On the other side of the coin, various free will advocates typically believe that:

  • Elementary particles which make up our brain act at random, thus refuting causal necessity
  • Free will and determinism are compatible
  • Religion validates free will

In The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal, Dr. Locke shows that all of the above beliefs are mistaken, and that free will is, as many have claimed, self-evident, even though most people have not validated it or correctly identified what it consists of—what it is, and what it isn’t.”

 

Order the book on Amazon

New Book: The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal by Edwin Locke

Dr. Edwin Locke has just released a new book defending volition, called “The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal.”

According to Dr. Locke, “Determinism is the doctrine that everything we think, feel, believe, and do is caused by factors outside our control—that we have no choice regarding our character, our thoughts, our actions, our lives. There have been many forms of determinism but the one that is most popular today is based on neuroscience, with the enthusiastic support of many psychologists, philosophers, and physical scientists (e.g., physicists). This version argues that we are controlled by our physical brains with the brain being which are set in motion by environmental factors. The debate continues because many people disagree with determinism and assert that they have, in some form, free will. Determinists insist that such a belief represents “folk psychology,” an illusion held by people who are ignorant of what science has allegedly proved.”

“Determinists typically believe that:

  • Consciousness is the same thing as brain activity (as opposed to requiring a brain)
  • The conscious mind, though real, plays no significant role in human life
  • The human mind is not significantly different from that of the lower animals such as chimpanzees
  • All causes are material (or mechanical)
  • Goal-directed action applies equally to people and machines
  • The concept of a self or the self as a causal agent has no intelligible meaning
  • Key neuroscience experiments have proven that the intention to act appears after the brain has already decided what to do
  • Determinism is not only compatible with objective knowledge but is also the only guarantee of objective knowledge, because it is based on scientific truth
  • Determinism has to be either proved or disproved based on philosophical and/or scientific arguments
  • Free will, at best, is a necessary illusion

“On the other side of the coin, various free will advocates typically believe that:

  • Elementary particles which make up our brain act at random, thus refuting causal necessity
  • Free will and determinism are compatible
  • Religion validates free will

In The Illusion of Determinism: Why Free Will is Real and Causal, Dr. Locke shows that all of the above beliefs are mistaken, and that free will is, as many have claimed, self-evident, even though most people have not validated it or correctly identified what it consists of—what it is, and what it isn’t.”

Order the book on Amazon

Total Solar Eclipse 2017

From NASA:

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Salem, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017 Path USA Map

This unique map from NASA shows the path of the moon’s umbral shadow – in which the sun will be completely obscured by the moon – during the total solar eclipse of Aug. 21, 2017, as well as the fraction of the sun’s area covered by the moon outside the path of totality.

The lunar shadow enters the United States near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins in the United States in Lincoln City, Oregon, at 10:16 a.m. PDT. The total eclipse will end in Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:48 p.m. EDT. The lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 p.m. EDT. A partial eclipse will be visible throughout the United States.

NASA has created a website to provide a guide to this amazing event with activities, events, broadcasts, and links to other resources.

 

How to View the 2017 Solar Eclipse Safely

Looking directly at the sun is unsafe except during the brief total phase of a solar eclipse (“totality”), when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face, which will happen only within the narrow path of totality (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe (link is external)).

The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as “eclipse glasses” (example shown at left) or hand-held solar viewers. Homemade filters or ordinary sunglasses, even very dark ones, are not safe for looking at the sun; they transmit thousands of times too much sunlight. Refer to the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers (link is external) page for a list of manufacturers and authorized dealers of eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers verified to be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for such products.
  • Always inspect your solar filter before use; if scratched or damaged, discard it. Read and follow any instructions printed on or packaged with the filter.
  • Always supervise children using solar filters.
  • Stand still and cover your eyes with your eclipse glasses or solar viewer before looking up at the bright sun. After looking at the sun, turn away and remove your filter — do not remove it while looking at the sun.
  • Do not look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or other optical device.
  • Similarly, do not look at the sun through a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device while using your eclipse glasses or hand-held solar viewer — the concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury.
  • Seek expert advice from an astronomer before using a solar filter with a camera, a telescope, binoculars, or any other optical device. Note that solar filters must be attached to the front of any telescope, binoculars, camera lens, or other optics.
  • If you are within the path of totality (https://go.nasa.gov/2pC0lhe (link is external)), remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark. Experience totality, then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to look at the remaining partial phases.
  • Outside the path of totality, you must always use a safe solar filter to view the sun directly.
  • If you normally wear eyeglasses, keep them on. Put your eclipse glasses on over them, or hold your handheld viewer in front of them.

Note: If your eclipse glasses or viewers are compliant with the ISO 12312-2 safety standard, you may look at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed Sun through them for as long as you wish. Furthermore, if the filters aren’t scratched, punctured, or torn, you may reuse them indefinitely. Some glasses/viewers are printed with warnings stating that you shouldn’t look through them for more than 3 minutes at a time and that you should discard them if they are more than 3 years old. Such warnings are outdated and do not apply to eclipse viewers compliant with the ISO 12312-2 standard adopted in 2015. To make sure you get (or got) your eclipse glasses/viewers from a supplier of ISO-compliant products, see the American Astronomical Society (AAS) Reputable Vendors of Solar Filters & Viewers (link is external) page.

An alternative method for safe viewing of the partially eclipsed sun is pinhole projection. For example, cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other, creating a waffle pattern. With your back to the sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground, showing the sun as a crescent during the partial phases of the eclipse. Or just look at the shadow of a leafy tree during the partial eclipse; you’ll see the ground dappled with crescent Suns projected by the tiny spaces between the leaves.

A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime. More information: eclipse.aas.org (link is external)


This document does not constitute medical advice. Readers with questions should contact a qualified eye-care professional.

Al Gore, Bill Nye, and Leonardo DeCaprio Fear The Moral Case For Fossil Fuels

What do Climate Fortune Tellers — Al Gore, Bill Nye, and Leonardo DeCaprio — fear more than “climate change” and “global warming”?

Apparently debating Alex Epstein.

Writes the author of the best-selling The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels:

I just learned this morning that the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, who was supposed to debate me next Tuesday at the 20,000 person Collision Conf, has withdrawn.

He gave no explanation to the organizers and certainly did not give me the courtesy of an apology–even though my team has been preparing for this event for weeks.

This is just the latest example of the bankruptcy of the opponents of fossil fuels.

Since the publication of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, not one person has written a remotely plausible fundamental critique of the book.

Why? Because it’s not reputable?

Impossible.

The Moral Case has been reviewed favorably by dozens of publications (including the WSJ), it has a 4.7 rating across hundreds of reviews on Amazon (very unusual for a book this controversial), it was an NYT and WSJ bestseller, and one of the most respected political commentators of the last 25 years named me “most original thinker of the year” because of my reframing of the climate issue.

Almost no opponents challenge *The Moral Case* because they don’t want to *confront a good argument*. Their interest is not the discovery of the policies that will advance human flourishing, it is the status/approval they get by being leaders of a mainstream crusade.

Since the publication of The Moral Case, whenever opponents have tried to refute me in live situations, whether through debates or hostile interviews, it has gone badly for them.

It’s getting harder and harder for me to find anyone prominent to debate me. Al Gore won’t take my $100,000 offer, Bill Nye The Science Guy is the Silent Guy when it comes to debating, and now Leonardo DiCaprio‘s man is evading debating.

I have no idea what happened in this latest case (because he didn’t have the character to tell me) but it wouldn’t surprise me if some YouTube browsing made him conclude that he would be better off attending to “urgent” business far away from the debate hall.

There is still an empty slot to debate me at Collision Conf next Tuesday–if we can fill it with a big name. (Otherwise I will do a full event on the moral case). If Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Nye The Science Guy, or (the latest “scientific” fossil fuel attacker) Neil deGrasse Tyson is willing to step up, I will happily pay for their First-Class fare. Leo, since I know you prefer to fly private jet when it’s time to go attack fossil fuels, I will pay $2000 of your (fossil) fuel.

You can reach me at alex@industrialprogress.net.

Related: Why We Should Celebrate Fossil Fuels on Earth Day (video)
Book: The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels at Amazon

 

MIT Professor Richard Lindzen On the Corruption of Climate Science

MIT Professor Emeritus of Meteorology Richard Lindzen talks about the inextricably intertwined link between the body politic and climate scientists with respect to promoting the climate alarmist narrative, arguing “I don’t think any field survives this degree of corruption without losing if nothing else its self-respect,” during an in-depth interview for The New Criterion by Ben Weingarten, commentator and Founder & CEO of ChangeUp Media.

Matt Ridley on How Fossil Fuels are Greening the Planet

“[H]alf of that greening comes from carbon dioxide itself. In other words, the fact that we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air means there’s more fuel to grow plants and when a plant has more carbon dioxide in yet doesn’t have to open its pores so much so it doesn’t lose so much water in absorbing the carbon dioxide that it needs to grow and so there’s tons of experiments now showing that plants grow faster if there’s more carbon dioxide in the air; roughly speaking on average for a 200 parts per million increase in carbon dioxide in the air you get a 30% improvement in plant growth. That’s experiments both in the field and in the laboratory. So it’s really quite a remarkable phenomenon here because of the burning of fossil fuels we’re making the planet greener. It’s an astonishing discovery I think. I think it’s rather amazing and of course it’s an incredibly unwelcome discovery for the environmental movement. They don’t want to hear this at all and how is it possible…” – Matt Ridley

NASA Telescope Reveals Seven Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone. This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, in the constellation Aquarius. Because they are located outside of our solar system, these planets are scientifically known as exoplanets.

This exoplanet system is called TRAPPIST-1, named for The Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope (TRAPPIST) in Chile. In May 2016, researchers using TRAPPIST announced they had discovered three planets in the system. Assisted by several ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, Spitzer confirmed the existence of two of these planets and discovered five additional ones, increasing the number of known planets in the system to seven.

The new results were published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and announced at a news briefing at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

This artist's concept shows what each of the TRAPPIST-1 planets may look like, based on available data about their sizes, masses and orbital distances. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

This artist’s concept shows what each of the TRAPPIST-1 planets may look like, based on available data about their sizes, masses and orbital distances. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured the sizes of the seven planets and developed first estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing their density to be estimated. Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations will not only help determine whether they are rich in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been estimated – scientists believe it could be an icy, “snowball-like” world, but further observations are needed.

“The seven wonders of TRAPPIST-1 are the first Earth-size planets that have been found orbiting this kind of star,” said Michael Gillon, lead author of the paper and the principal investigator of the TRAPPIST exoplanet survey at the University of Liege, Belgium. “It is also the best target yet for studying the atmospheres of potentially habitable, Earth-size worlds.”

In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star – classified as an ultra-cool dwarf – is so cool that liquid water could survive on planets orbiting very close to it, closer than is possible on planets in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 planetary orbits are closer to their host star than Mercury is to our sun. The planets also are very close to each other. If a person was standing on one of the planet’s surface, they could gaze up and potentially see geological features or clouds of neighboring worlds, which would sometimes appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.

The planets may also be tidally locked to their star, which means the same side of the planet is always facing the star, therefore each side is either perpetual day or night. This could mean they have weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, such as strong winds blowing from the day side to the night side, and extreme temperature changes.

Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than the eye can see. In the fall of 2016, Spitzer observed TRAPPIST-1 nearly continuously for 500 hours. Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to observe enough crossing – transits – of the planets in front of the host star to reveal the complex architecture of the system. Engineers optimized Spitzer’s ability to observe transiting planets during Spitzer’s “warm mission,” which began after the spacecraft’s coolant ran out as planned after the first five years of operations.

“This is the most exciting result I have seen in the 14 years of Spitzer operations,” said Sean Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at Caltech/IPAC in Pasadena, California. “Spitzer will follow up in the fall to further refine our understanding of these planets so that the James Webb Space Telescope can follow up. More observations of the system are sure to reveal more secrets.”

Following up on the Spitzer discovery, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has initiated the screening of four of the planets, including the three inside the habitable zone. These observations aim at assessing the presence of puffy, hydrogen-dominated atmospheres, typical for gaseous worlds like Neptune, around these planets.

In May 2016, the Hubble team observed the two innermost planets, and found no evidence for such puffy atmospheres. This strengthened the case that the planets closest to the star are rocky in nature.

“The TRAPPIST-1 system provides one of the best opportunities in the next decade to study the atmospheres around Earth-size planets,” said Nikole Lewis, co-leader of the Hubble study and astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler space telescope also is studying the TRAPPIST-1 system, making measurements of the star’s minuscule changes in brightness due to transiting planets. Operating as the K2 mission, the spacecraft’s observations will allow astronomers to refine the properties of the known planets, as well as search for additional planets in the system. The K2 observations conclude in early March and will be made available

Spitzer, Hubble, and Kepler will help astronomers plan for follow-up studies using NASA’s upcoming James Webb Space Telescope, launching in 2018. With much greater sensitivity, Webb will be able to detect the chemical fingerprints of water, methane, oxygen, ozone, and other components of a planet’s atmosphere. Webb also will analyze planets’ temperatures and surface pressures – key factors in assessing their habitability.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the Spitzer Space Telescope mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center, at Caltech, in Pasadena, California. Spacecraft operations are based at Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, Littleton, Colorado. Data are archived at the Infrared Science Archive housed at Caltech/IPAC. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

Source: NASA Telescope Reveals Record-Breaking Exoplanet Discovery | NASA

Whistleblowers of Corrupted Climate Science Speak out

Lawrence Solomon: Finally it’s safe for the whistleblowers of corrupted climate science to speak out | Financial Post

Whistleblowers at the U.S. government’s official keeper of the global warming stats, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), claim their agency doctored temperature data to hide the fact that global temperatures plateaued almost 20 years ago.

[…]

None of the billions spent on research amounted to anything — none of the models proved reliable, none of the predictions were borne out, none of the expected effects materialized. The Arctic ice cap hasn’t disappeared, polar bear populations haven’t declined, hurricanes haven’t become more common, malaria hasn’t spread, temperatures haven’t continued to climb. What did materialize was fraud after fraud.

[…]

Likewise, a much heralded claim that 97 per cent of scientists believed the planet was overheating came from a 2008 master’s thesis by a student at the University of Illinois who obtained her results by conducting a survey of 10,257 earth scientists, then discarding the views of all but 77 of them. Of those 77 scientists, 75 thought humans contributed to climate change. The ratio 75/77 produced the 97-per-cent figure that global warming activists then touted.

Video: Islam and the Future of Tolerance

Is Islam a religion of peace or war? Is it amenable to reform? Why do so many Muslims seem drawn to extremism?

***

On September 10, 2001, Sam Harris was studying neuroscience in California, and Maajid Nawaz was in Egypt working as a top recruiter for one of the biggest Islamist organisations in the world. The next day sent them down paths that would converge 15 years later in an unlikely collaboration.

Harris entered life as a public intellectual after 9/11 and soon found himself regarded as a leading voice of the “New Atheist” movement, along with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. He spent much of the next decade writing books such as The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The Moral Landscape and publicly engaging religious scholars and apologists in highly contentious conversations.  Meanwhile, Nawaz was arrested and thrown into an Egyptian prison, where he spent four years before beginning his slow journey out of radical Islamism. By the time he emerged, he had decided to dedicate his life’s work to reforming Islam from within. He started Quilliam, a counter-extremism organisation.  Islam and the Future of Tolerance tells the story of an unlikely conversation on a topic of grave importance, and how it changed two foes into friends.

Link: Islam and the Future of Tolerance

Video: John Searle – Toward a Science of Consciousness

How can consciousness be addressed scientifically? The Tucson conference, founded in 1994 and celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2014, exemplifies the quest. What are the range of theories? Where do participants position themselves? Meet the founders, early visionaries, new scientists and thinkers. Progress is being made, but what does this really mean?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ccy2r8JvPdk