"I think the $1 coin is a bad idea. Instead, why not totally illuminate the penny and nickel?"
-- Cyndi

Galileo was wrong?

On a whim, I decided to poke around the Internet for serious defenders of geocentrism. And, behold, galileowaswrong.com from one Robert Sugenis!

He has written a 1000-page treatise explaining the accuracy of geocentrism. No, I haven’t read it, and until his website addresses a couple of shortcomings, it is not worth the time. Sugenis asserts that retrograde motion and parallax are handled in the geocentric model, but with little or no explanation as to why we would accept these claims (I looked).

An important aspect of a scientific model is that it should be able to make predictions.* As an example of heliocentrism’s strength, we can observe the retrograde motion of planets. Normally, planets move from east to west relative to the stars. But once in a while, they slow down and then start moving eastward! Then, they start their normal westward motion again.

Retrograde motion

This is difficult to explain in a geocentric model…why would the planets sometimes move backwards? The ancient Greeks settled on a system of “epicircles” to explain this motion. As the planets orbit the Earth, they would also orbit a point in space, like so:

Mars orbiting Earth, the epicircle model

But you now need another explanation…WHY would the planets orbit these points? (Plus, you’d need to demonstrate that the motions of all the solar system’s bodies can be explained with this model.)

With the heliocentric model, just add the Theory of Gravity and a little more physics, and you’re almost done. Even if you weren’t aware of retrograde motion, the heliocentric predicts it. The inner planets orbit the sun at faster than outer planets, so there is a period of time when the inner planet is passing the outer planet. During that time, the outer planet appears to be going backward, much like a slower car appears to be going backward looking out a side window.

And just for fun, a quote from the website:

Before I begin my scientific critique of Alec MacAndrew, I think it should be stated that he admits to being an atheist. Because of that, he would no sooner entertain the possibility of a geocentric system than he would accept six-day creationism over evolution.

Yep, he thinks that atheism implies heliocentrism. It’s hard not to guess why he thinks that, and it’s a sad example of tribalism trumping logic.


*The ability to make predictions is a sticking point for intelligent design. It doesn’t tell us anything about life. If the Creator can make anything that is possible, then it might exist. Literally any piece of evidence needs no further explanation than “the Creator made it that way”.

Evolution, however, makes falsifiable claims. If we ever discover a Pegasus or find trilobite and human fossils together, there is some serious splainin’ to do, Lucy!

August 18th, 2013 5 comments
Posted by Filed under Patently Ineffective, Science/Technology

Security Fail

So for this particular website, 70% of the users did not bother to change their passwords from the default.

On top of that, the default password is featured on those “most hackable passwords” lists.

The good news? All the passwords are stored in plain text, so it doesn’t matter too much anyway.

March 1st, 2012 2 comments
Posted by Filed under Patently Ineffective, Science/Technology

Leonard of Quirm is responsible for naming Earth’s telescopes

You have a chance to become somewhat immortalized.

The Very Large Array, which is a very large array of radio telescopes in New Mexico, is about to complete a major set of upgrades. To celebrate, they want to rename it to something a bit more creative. Can’t imagine why.

Telescopes seem to have a tradition of rather uncreative names, such as the Very Large Telescope, the European Extremely Large Telescope and Overwhelmingly Large Telescope.

You can suggest a new name at http://www.nrao.edu/namethearray/, although it doesn’t look like they will provide any prizes for your trouble if your name is selected.

October 15th, 2011 8 comments
Posted by Filed under Science/Technology

S. E. Cupp is able to utilize meaningless statistics

And what about global warming and melting polar ice caps? A study by the National Snow and Ice Data Center indicates that in the last three years alone, summer sea ice has increased by a staggering 409,000 square miles.

– From Let the polar bears die, liberals: It’s only your beloved evolution at work

To Ms. Cupp’s credit (?), I doubt she actually researched this statistic herself. She probably relied on some source who should know better, but is more interested in spouting conservative propaganda.

If you readers care for an exercise, please explain why this statistic is completely worthless in determining whether the polar ice caps are melting are not.

For bonus points, link to more useful statistics, and briefly explain what is most probably occurring with the Arctic Sea’s ice.

December 23rd, 2010 5 comments
Posted by Filed under In the News, Patently Ineffective, Science/Technology

Wildcrafting

Yesterday during lunch, I was talking a stroll through the neighborhood and looked at the plants, trees, and bushes around me. Probably since I’ve started dabbling in survivalist websites, I idly wondered whether any of them would be useful for food or medicine. Then realization struck: despite seeing many of these plants frequently, almost all of them I couldn’t put a name to.

This is completely unacceptable.

So, I have decided to learn about the plant life in the area. The plan is to photograph, identify and catalog 3 plants a week. Additionally, any utility useful for humans will be researched and recorded.

The “annoying” dandelion can be consumed as food. The greens can be used much like spinach, either cooked or as a raw salad green. The roots can also be eaten, or used to make a sort of tea. And IIRC, the flower itself also makes an acceptable tea.

Anyone want to try it? Unfortunately, I have no nearby source of dandelions to consume.

September 22nd, 2010 7 comments
Posted by Filed under Science/Technology

The universe

Mainstream science holds that our universe originated with the Big Bang. A fundamentalist from one of the monotheistic faiths believes we were directly created by God. A number of people dip from both science and religion, believing God initiated the Big Bang.

If you think about it, these explanations can’t really “make sense”. They’re so far out of the realm of everyday reality, it’s impossible to have a good intuitive feel about what explanation is most likely to be right.

This is why we have to make the best possible judgment with the incomplete information we have. If someone thinks they can apply Occam’s Razor to the origins of the universe, they are dogmatic, don’t understand what Occam’s Razor is, or both.

July 21st, 2010 9 comments
Posted by Filed under Religion, Science/Technology

The food industry is playing tricks with your mind

In the United States, we have to be so careful about the foods we shop for. Below is an aggregation of deceptive or tricky food labels I’ve encountered. If you have any to add, let me know in the comments. I’ll try to update this list from time to time.

Red Flags

Juice: The label should say 100% juice. If it doesn’t, you’re getting mostly sugar water. “Juice drink”, “juice beverage”, “made with real juice” and the like are guarantees there’s not much real fruit.

Even if it’s 100% juice, it’s still a little tricky. If you see something like “Cranberry Juice with another juice”, that other juice is apple juice, always. And apple juice will be the greatest percentage of the juice mix, because it’s inexpensive. Unfortunately, it’s not much healthier than sugar water. (Most other juices have greater health benefits.)

Made with [healthy ingredient]: It contains a pitiful amount of the healthy ingredient, just enough so it can legally put on the label. A specific example is bread (which is REALLY confusing); you don’t want “made with whole wheat”, you want “100% whole wheat”.

Reduced Fat: The sugar and/or salt have been increased. Similarly, reduced sugar or salt likely means an increase in something else bad. Compare the nutrition labels to the regular version of the product to see what changed.

No trans fats: Almost always an unhealthy food that’s high in fat, sugar and/or salt.

Electrolytes: Salt.

Deceptive ingredient labels: The ingredient label must be listed in order of descending composition (so the product contains the highest percentage of the first ingredient). A Smuckers strawberry jelly label had “strawberries” as the first ingredient. Sounds good, right? Problem is that the next 4 ingredients were simply different forms of sugar (corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and something else). In reality, there’s much more sugar than fruit, but the label is deceptive.

Made with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup: Somehow, the food industry has turned sugar into a health food. In terms of calories, sugar is equal to high fructose corn syrup. If you actually prefer sugar to HFCS, that’s fine, but the change won’t help you shed pounds. And the food itself is probably not that healthy.

Yellow Flags

Diet: Read the label to make sure you’re getting what you’re expecting. Sometimes it’s OK, but sometimes there are nasty surprises. A low calorie, but high sodium food is a common offender.

Organic: It does not mean “healthy”. Regular rules apply.

Natural: It also does not mean “healthy”. Regular rules apply.

July 13th, 2010 6 comments
Posted by Filed under Bad Ads, Patently Ineffective, Science/Technology, Weaksauce Losers

Why isn’t reducing oil use a rallying point for the Right?

This is something that has mystified me about conservative thinking in the United States.

The Right is in love with drilling more oil in the United States to reduce our dependency on foreign sources. But even if there is enough domestic oil to satiate our thirst, it will be many years before the production can actually come on line.

Meanwhile, because of the United States’ great oil consumption:
* The United States economy is dependent on potentially unstable regions
* American money is flowing into places like Venezuela and Islamic Middle Eastern countries, some of the Right’s favorite foils

It seems that advocating reduction in oil use and developing oil alternatives would be a natural fit for a mindset that highly values national security. But I’ve never heard a conservative talking head say “Those gas-guzzlers are helping us give Chavez more money”. It’s more like “Hybrids LOL” or “The government can’t tell me what to drive; I have my rights.”

(Alternative energy sources are routinely derided by some conservatives as well, even ones who say they have faith in the ability of humans to make great technological advances. I can’t help but think some on the Right belittle alternative energy simply because the Left likes it.)

January 25th, 2010 4 comments
Posted by Filed under Science/Technology

Irony

Irony is people who complain about how useless science is while typing their opinion on the Internet.

Then when someone points out the Internet required science to be created, they will counter “that’s not science, that’s technology”.

September 16th, 2009 no comments
Posted by Filed under Burning Agony, Science/Technology

The Writings of Mascotdamus

mascotdamus

That picture is of the great seer Mascotdamus who lived back in the 1500′s. (Yes, my parents named me after him.) He made all these prophecies in the form of “quatrains”, four-line poems. He was in competition with some human named Nostradamus, but while Nostradamus has been pretty much debunked, no one seems to have challenged Mascotdamus. Here are some of the few that have been translated from Eggish to English:

Half and half, this is a leader
Not how one augments morning drink.
He is limited by his birthright.
Half and half is the support of his people.

This is obviously talking about Obama, how he is half-white/half-black, and his approval rating is about 50%. The morning drink part was to make sure no one confused the “half and half” with the stuff you put in coffee. Compared with that poser Nostradamus, Mascotdamus was very specific.

The northern men were always strong
Until the scarlet-clad rose in anger
And won four victories
Before the north drank from a new goblet.

Amazingly, Mascotdamus even made predictions about Major League Baseball! The Red Sox will win two more World Series while George Steinbrenner owns the Yankees (“the northern men”). And a goblet is a type of cup, and so is a stein. So drinking from a new goblet means the younger Steinbrenner will take over.

One of my own name
From a land of milk and grain
Will use the universal flame.
If [he is] not heeded, there will be needless death.

I was named after him and I was born near Battle Creek, Michigan. That’s where Kellogg’s is located (they make cereal, and you pour milk on cereal.) So the prophecy refers to me. And the universal flame must be the Internet, because everyone can access it. So if you don’t do what I say, you’re all going to die.

September 10th, 2009 15 comments
Posted by Filed under History, Science/Technology