Climate denial codswallop

To all my friends posting and sharing climate denial codswallop on socal media, I love you but please consider spending those late night hours looking up the real climate science first, before believing Mike Hosking or some other clueless twit on the telly or the internet.

Start here, at Skeptical Science – a list of all the myths, misconceptions and outright nonsense, sorted by popularity, with their rebuttals and counter-arguments, and as much actual scientific detail you could possibly need.

If you want to build a bridge, consult an engineer. Do not consult the aromatherapist who thinks engineers are conspiring to build fake bridges. Ditto vaccinations, flat earth theory and all the other anti-intellectual bullshit that seems to be circulating these days.

I spent three years studying climate science at university, and I can tell you that it is complicated and resistant to summary, which is why it doesn’t do well in the US media, so if you want to understand it you’ll need to spend some time. Let me assure you though, it does all add up; multiple otherwise unrelated datasets all say the same thing: that climate warming is happening, human civilisation caused it, and it won’t end well for us unless we do something about it. But don’t take my word for it, go see for yourself, start here. And no, I do not care about rebuttals, I’ve heard it all before. This is not a discussion. This is also not a matter of opinion, like your favourite restaurant. In scientific matters, you are not entitled to your opinion unless you can successfully defend it in the appropriate forum (published journals), so good luck with that.

I’m probably going to regret posting this later, but I’m so fed up with it, and it’s doubly frustrating because it’s such a difficult topic to try and explain properly, and endlessly refuting the same old tired long-debunked arguments over and over again is EXTREMELY tiresome. Please understand that I’m just trying to help, and this is a good place to start. You’re welcome.

See also:

Stokes, P. “No, you’re not entitled to your opinion” in The Conversation, 5 October 2012.

Clicker Training

After a a few weeks of settling in, I thought I’d give some clicker training a go with Lucy, Destroyer of (Laptop) Mice.

In a word, astounding.

I’m only peripherally familiar with operand conditioning, but I bought and am following Karen Pryor‘s Clicker Training for Cats book. I started on Sunday with loading the click with chicken liver treats. After 5 clicks she had cottoned on and 10 clicks later she was targetting a biro with her nose and I could lead her around the room with it. 5 more clicks and she was giving me high fives in the air with her paws. This all took less than five minutes!

Now it’s Wednesday and she’s quite reliably giving high fives, coming when called, sitting and staying on her spot and getting down from the table on command.

For some obscure reason teaching her to switch the light off on command and to play the piano are high on the list…

General Relativity

Why is General Relativity so damned difficult and inaccessible? Because of tensor fields.

So what’s this about tensors? Well, caclulus might be abstruse enough already, but tensor calculus takes abstrusity (?) to a whole new level. A tensor is a multidimensional generalisation of scalars and vectors, to n-dimensions. So, a scalar quantity such as mass, having one dimension, can also be thought of as a tensor of rank zero. A vector quantity such as velocity can be thought of as a rank one tensor. Things become complicated when dealing with more complex quantities, such as elasticity, a rank four tensor in materials science.

Performing calculus with tensors becomes useful when considering quantities with two or more dimensions. The great benefit is that it allows you to treat quantities with as many dimensions as you need with the same notational convenience.

A tensor field is a tensor quantity that varies across all points in space. A magnetic field, denoted B, is a vector field, and so can be treated as a tensor field of rank one. The space in which the field is mapped may be the standard Euclidiean 3-space, but might well be some other space, like gee, how about a 4-dimensional spacetime? And I haven’t even mentioned Riemannian manifolds yet.