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Key Global Warming Study May Have Bad Mathematics 77

Posted by timothy
from the taking-a-cold-hard-look dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Berkeley physics professor Richard A. Muller writes that a key study showing a sudden 'hockey stick shape' increase in global temperature may be flawed from bad mathematics. Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick say that Michael Mann's computer program handled data normalization incorrectly and exaggerated data with a hockey stick shape." Update: 10/18 18:26 GMT by J : Alas for the environment, it looks like McKitrick and McIntyre have been refuted. "In previous rounds of the debate, Lambert has shown that McKitrick messed up an analysis of the number of weather stations, showed he knew almost nothing about climate, flunked basic thermodynamics, couldn't handle missing values correctly and invented his own temperature scale. But Tim's latest discovery really takes the cake."
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Key Global Warming Study May Have Bad Mathematics

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  • by ahknight (128958) *
    Changing the climate, one FDIV at a time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 2004 @08:51AM (#10549868)
    For a group of techno-nerds who supposedly present themselves as independent thinkers, cynics, and skeptics, I see a lot of you buying into these environmental reports from the government, and the various international agencies.

    The facts are quite clear. There is no proof for man-made global warming. Between solar cycles, the cycles of ice-ages, and other complex atmospheric and land-based occurrences, it would appear that we have very little to do with any of it. There were times of extreme heat and extreme cold long before we were here. Temperatures have been on a slow, and natural climb, since the last ice age, as you would expect. Most of the increases in the 20th century occurred before we even had any big industry. One cannot dismiss volcanoes and other natural forces that created the atmosphere in the first place.

    There is a long history of anti-American, anti-technology fanaticism that works to destroy successful enterprises and nations. The enviro extremists fall into that category quite nicely. Did you ever notice how they never mention one shred of evidence that they might have miscalculated, or might be wrong altogether? It rarely happens in real science that your theories are perfectly accurate throughout your experimentation, especially when the real evidence shows contrary results. Maybe that's because they're not presenting real science.

    It just so happens that the very small, agenda driven, socialized, government-paid scientific community is the only one that buys into the extremist theories. 19,000 independent scientists and engineers came forward two years ago to show that the evidence being presented for global warming was not science, but rather pseudoscience and rhetoric. These were people who were the best in their fields from all over the world and their concerns were understandably focused on the bogus Kyoto Treaty. They sucessfully debunked the enviro theories and showed quite a bit of evidence that described the exact opposite of the "Chicken Little" doomsday theories.

    Even many liberals are leaving the ranks of the extremist environmentalist groups. Largely because the groups have shown themselves to be fraudulent. The scare tactics from those groups are created to keep the money rolling in, so they can promise to present a solution that is waiting for a problem. If everything is OK, as is the case, we don't need them, and that's their greatest fear. Let's not forget that they focus all their attentions on the big metropolitan areas for their supposed research and completely ignore the outlying areas, the weather balloon tests, and the satellite results, all of which show a slight cooling trend lately. Sure, we can create heat islands, but that is not global, and certainly should not require punitive actions. And why is it that it's always the US that gets the blame? We produce more than any other country, support a good portion of the world through foreign aid, and follow some of the strictest standards for emissions. It's cowardly to point the finger at us and ignore countries like China, India, and the third world nations who live in heavily polluted, heavily populated areas where no research is being done to clean things up.

    I would suggest that everybody follow the money trail and where ultimate power is being created. Follow your instincts of skepticism and dig deeper to find the real facts. Figure out what it is that concerns you the most about the future and why so many people seem to ignore our sovereignty and Constitutional rights to freedom and are so quick to buy into junk science. Remember what our forefathers were insinuating when they stated: "He who sacrifices a little freedom to gain a little security, will lose both, and deserves neither". Don't fall into the trap of allowing bogus results determine what we're all allowed to do and not do for the remainder of human civilization.
    • by whoda (569082)
      The Little Ice Age in Europe from 1400-1850 is now thought to have been caused by an abnormal lack of SUNSPOTS.
      Sunspots cause the sun to give off alot more heat/energy than a nicely uniformed surface sun does.

      Conversely, a couple hundred years of above average sunspots would seem to cause global temps to increase. Too bad we only have about 1,000 years of data on sunspots.
      We have no idea what the average is. What if we are coming off of a 5,000 year low cycle?

      It's amazing what humans don't always ca
      • by jerkface (177812)
        I have to reply, because there are too many things wrong in this post for it to have such a high score.

        The Little Ice Age in Europe from 1400-1850 is now thought to have been caused by an abnormal lack of SUNSPOTS. Sunspots cause the sun to give off alot more heat/energy than a nicely uniformed surface sun does.

        Sunspots don't cause more energy to come from the sun - the fact is that sunspots are cooler than the rest of the sun's surface. Sunspots are, however, symptoms of an active sun. Just as low lev

        • by mc6809e (214243) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @07:41PM (#10553087)
          There is a nice graph here [noaa.gov] showing the slight increase in the sun's average output during periods of high sunspot activity.

          It appears there is an increase of 2 watts/m^2 at the earth's distance from the sun.

          • In other words, relatively insignificant - right?

            • In other words, relatively insignificant - right?

              +0.4 kelvin increase in temperature is considered significant evidense of global warming.

              Why should +2 watts/m^2 of extra radiation be considered insignificant?

              The applet here [umass.edu] suggests that a +2 watts/m^2 would raise the temperature +0.11 kelvin. That more than 25% of the +0.4 kelvin increase. That's hardly insignificant.

              Consider also that the applet given doesn't take into account a multiplier effect due to the extra heating of water which increases wat
      • We have no idea what the average is. What if we are coming off of a 5,000 year low cycle?

        Um, then the predictions are wrong, and we'll find out. That's science!

        Now, if you're trying to use this to justify policy, that's a different point. After all:
        • We have to reduce CO2 emissions eventually anyway - we can't simply continue to do it. We'll run out of fossil fuels, or if we're really stupid and find a way to continue emitting CO2 at current levels, we'll kill ourselves in 10,000-20,000 years or so from
        • we'll kill ourselves in 10,000-20,000 years or so from too high CO2 concentration

          ...

          If you approach the problem logically, we're fools not to start cutting down on CO2 usage now and start phasing in newer, cleaner technologies (mandating hybrid cars, pushing towards non-fossil fuel power plants, etc.).

          Actually, your proposal is as illogical as it gets. By your own numbers, we will begin facing dangers 10000-20000 years from now -- that is, roughly, the length of the known history.

          Why mandate anything

          • Why mandate anything now, when both the technology is still expensive, and the need is far from obvious? By your estimates, we can safely wait another 3-7 thousand years, and if our kin does not have the right technology by that time, than may be they deserve to die out.

            It's utterly amazing that you read everything that I wrote, and missed the point entirely.

            We can't wait 3 to 7 thousand years. I never said that. I simply said that it's insane to even consider that we can continue pumping out CO2 indefin
            • We can't wait 3 to 7 thousand years. I never said that. I simply said that it's insane to even consider that we can continue pumping out CO2 indefinitely. We can't. No one could possibly suggest that we could. 10,000 years is still less than infinity. That's all that I meant.

              I said, we can wait 3 to 7 thousand years before working on avoiding suffocation based on your figure of 10 thousand years before we begin to suffocate.

              You are right, the problem can not be put off infinitely, but even 3 thousand ye

              • We currently are raising CO2 levels in the atmosphere by 2 parts per million per year.

                We eventually have to be raising CO2 levels in the atmosphere by 0 parts per million per year.

                That was the entire point of the statement regarding suffocation. Many people say "we shouldn't cut back on CO2 emissions - it's too costly." My point is that fundamentally, we have to.

                Aha, now we are switching the subject slightly from CO2 emissions to oil shortage.

                No - I included oil burning because oil burning is a major
                • Basing policy decisions on the possibility of future breakthroughs is not a solid long-term plan. It is far more efficient, and prudent, to begin the change gradually, and then, if the change is later deemed unnecessary, roll back the changes.

                  If the term is long enough to cover several millenia, a plan for it, that begins with a few centuries of mere discussions, is a perfectly good one. Aggressive even...

                  • If the term is long enough to cover several millenia, a plan for it, that begins with a few centuries of mere discussions, is a perfectly good one. Aggressive even...

                    OK, the whole "multi-millenia" thing was just to point out that even if you throw out running out of fossil fuels, and any possibility of global warming or environmental effects, you still have to cut down on CO2 emissions eventually, so, in the long run, it's still a good thing.

                    The end of fossil fuels and environmental effects are not multi
                    • What you keep advocating is heavy government meddling with markets. This sort of intrusion can only be justified by emergency situations -- like wars, or the onset of the predicted suffocation.

                      Long term, free market works best -- oil goes up in price, everyone starts buying economical cars, volunteerly.

                      The sooner it's done, the cheaper it is.

                      Why so? The technology is not quite here yet, forceful introduction of it will be expensive and wasteful -- as is everything done by a government.

    • I think this man suffers from his own empiricism.

      "19,000 independent scientists and engineers came forward two years ago to show that the evidence being presented for global warming was not science, but rather pseudoscience and rhetoric".

      Yes, it is difficult to prove anything. But the rhetoric involved is enlightening. Do you think the study they do is a waste of corporate dollars? Everything learnt and SHARED in rhetoric helps us to decifier the truth in situations. To silence any opinion would be to hin
    • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @10:07AM (#10550135)
      There is a long history of anti-American, anti-technology fanaticism that works to destroy successful enterprises and nations.

      Nobody complains about a country that is the most kind, most efficient, least belligerent, most enlightened, etc. They complain when a country rides high atop the shoulders of the poor and pretends its success is due entirely to its morally superior system of Capitalism.

      It's not success, progress, or technology that riles the world, it's the subjugation of the morality of the human to the morality of the dollar. You and your philosophical brethren like to claim that the concerned citizens of the world want to throw the world back to the stone-age, but in fact they want to make sure that human progress is both fairly distributed, and that it doesn't consume the resources of the world at an unsustainable rate.

      Right now, the US is the worst offender. In a few decades it will likely be China. How would you like it if China polluted the air (imagine smog warnings in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and LA being subject to the whim of China's industrial sector) and claimed anyone who complains is an "anti-Chinese", anti-technology fanatic?

      Progress is good, we all love it, but it must be sustainable, rational, and equitable.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        They complain when a country rides high atop the shoulders of the poor and pretends its success is due entirely to its morally superior system of Capitalism.

        It's not success, progress, or technology that riles the world, it's the subjugation of the morality of the human to the morality of the dollar.


        Do people still talk this way?

        You sound like like someone living in 1968.

        • then one of the millions of idiots steps in, with sarcasm on something he cant even start to comprehend.

          Can you even try to digest what he is saying? Then do you recognize the seriousness in what he is saying? Of course not, you're american. the government and corps have done plenty to seal your ears, and to be on your own, AND THAT YOU MUST SURVIVE, AND ONLY listen to 'friends'.
    • has it never occured to you that your thoughts could be also wrong?

      humans do pollute atmosphere, and quite heavily at that. this is a fact and it doesn't need to be proven again and again. acid rains are also there, again a fact. lots of forests are dying because of acid rains.

      now explain how these facts are antiamerican? is trying to preserve nature somehow antiamerican? or trying keep air we and our children will breathe more or less clean antiamerican?

      so what is pro american then? consume and pollute
    • by squiggleslash (241428) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @11:20AM (#10550481) Homepage Journal
      Let me see if I understand this correctly.

      You're dismissing the entire global warming issue, something backed up by study after study, by independent scientists, on the basis of two arguments:

      1. Independent scientists (scientists who are not working for a particular agenda) tend to work in government funded institutions (eg universities) and are therefore, by being funded by government, part of some "agenda driven, socialized, government driven" conspiracy.

      2. ONE study has turned out to have a mathematical flaw in its model.

      This argument makes sense to you why?

      I'd also say that comments like

      Even many liberals are leaving the ranks of the extremist environmentalist groups.
      show that by and large it is people like you, so keen to discredit global warming, who have the extremist agenda driven views. So what if some liberals do not like Greenpeace? What on Earth does this have to do with anything? If Al Gore makes a speech at the Sierra Club, do CO2 emissions decrease signficantly? If Ralph Nader rips up his Green Party Membership card, does this act as a catalyst, increasing the degree to which CO2 traps heat on Earth?

      The case for global warming is solid and backed up by the figures. The case for the mechanics of greenhouse effects is also solid. The case that CO2 levels are higher in the atmosphere today than they were 50 years ago is also solid. The case that human activity is resulting in a greater amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere than would otherwise happen would appear to be self-evident - we're taking carbon stocks that would otherwise lie under the ground and we're literally burning them up, and we're replacing natural carbon sinks with deserts of tarmac and concrete.

      What we're still trying to work out is the degree of the link between the first (global warming), and the last (our excessive CO2 production.) We're trying to work out what the affects of the first (global warming) will be on the weather (we're getting closer and closer all the time.) All of these are subjects that require research. But we can safely say that anyone who says, right now, on the basis of the evidence available, that there is simply no link whatsoever from the latter to the former is a kook. We may or may not be the primary cause of global warming, but to argue that we're having no affect would be to argue that either the concept of a greenhouse effect is flawed or that we're simply not increasing the overall amount of CO2 in the air despite all the logical evidence that we are.

      And those who dismiss the concept rarely if ever address either issue, instead they point to problems with computer models predicting future temperature increases, or they complain that other factors may also be affecting the temperature, as if to say that because other factors are affecting it, we can't possibly be.

      • Come on, the co2 level a hundred years ago was solidly less than fifty years ago, but few claim that there was an antropogenic temperature increase in the early half of the twenthieth century. Oops, I am wrong. There was an antropogenic temperature change at about the turn of the century because people were switching to steam ships and this "caused" a change in temperature.

        The real junk science issue is that the villian will not release his raw data so it can be done right, which makes a reasonable perso
      • The case for global warming is solid and backed up by the figures.

        True; temperatures have been rising for 300 years or so.

        The case for the mechanics of greenhouse effects is also solid.

        Largely true; we know that CO2 and water vapor in the atmosphere hold in heat, and that water vapor holds in much more. We also know that this effect is critical for keeping our planet from freezing solid.

        We also know that increasing CO2 levels have a minor impact as a greenhouse gas, but may cause a domino effect

          • Not really true. Sure, we're taking carbon out of the ground and releasing it into the atmosphere, but only 2/3 of it seems to stay there; reabsorption occurs, and may be able to hold more than we know.

          Then again, they might be more limited, or at least slower, than we hope for...

          Besides, even "only" 1/3 of the carbon we dig out of the earth ending up as extre CO2 in the atmosphere doesn't sound very reassuring.

          • Furthermore, our contribution may be insignificant compared to what the earth is releasin
          • The amount of CO2 we release is measureable, but fairly insignificant compared to the total amount that exchanged between the atmostphere and carbon sinks naturally. It's kind of like worrying that you might cause a flood by running your garden hose during a heavy thunderstorm.

            We just don't know what are the dynamics of the atmosphere and biosphere as CO2 levels and temperatures increase. At the very least we should be prepared for ocean level rising, hurricanes increasing and all that. The nature will t

              • Actually, we have a pretty good idea of the dynamics: increased temperatures and CO2 lead to more vigourous plant growth, which leads to more plant-eating animals, which leads to more animal-eating animals. Biodiversity increases, and the ecosystem improves. Even humans will do better; there will be more food for us, and less hardship during winters (which will reduce our need for fuel, btw.)

              Plant growth increases only if the other necessary componentes are there. Good growth also needs
              - water
              - good soi

    • Whether or not global warming is a consequence of human folly, the point remains that humans have the power to cause drastic changes.

      With great power comes great responsibility... that should be obvious.
    • Quite frankly, even if human activities are COMPLETELY blameless for global warming changes, which I highly doubt, our actions may well have harmed the ability of many ecosystems to cope with significant changes.
      Quite frankly, the US only follows strict emission standards because of the effort of concerned environmentalists.
      And, those standards are NOT nearly or usually the world's strictest.

      But, even when they are, the standards were adopted from other countries, most of whom are working to further re
    • Was this some sort of ironic post? All your blames against the enviro-extremists, can be equally repeated. Negate through your own post and you have pretty much what can be said about the ignorant american techno fanatism that works to destroy the world for its own benefit claiming that if you can earn money then it must be good.

      America has about 4% of the world population, yet consumes more than 25% of world energy production according to this statistics http://energy.cr.usgs.gov/energy/stats_ctry/Stat1. [usgs.gov]
    • Temperatures have been on a slow, and natural climb, since the last ice age

      Which is more than enough reason for concern in itself. Spewing out extra CO2 that might accellerate it (even if the chance was slight, which it is not) just because it is not proven to be harmful is basically playing russian roulette.

      It just so happens that the very small, agenda driven, socialized, government-paid scientific community is the only one that buys into the extremist theories.

      First of all, you try to make it soun

    • Didn't you read _Propaganda_ by Edward Bernays? Or Chomsky's work? Or been at a lowly municipal debate?

      It's quite possible all of Kyoto was flooded with junk science hype encouraged (but not manufactured) by polluting companies/governments for the express purpose of making the global warming science look like total junk.

      There is no shortage of loonies on any side of any issue, and a reportage or a government summit meeting can easily make any side they want filled with only the worst nutcases they can fin
  • by node 3 (115640) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @09:48AM (#10550057)
    It would have been nice had they caught this error earlier. Then maybe we could have avoided this year's barrage of hurricanes.

    Oh well, at least they caught it well before winter sets in. This should help prevent any severe snow storms and blizzards this season.
  • by hey! (33014) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @10:04AM (#10550118) Homepage Journal
    or not.

    This is how science works. You make your best arguments, they look unimpeachable to you or your reviewers, then somebody comes up with a way to impeach them.

    It doesn't mean that your conclusions are wrong or that the challenger is right. It means that we have to look more closely.

    Currently the scientific consensus seems to be for anthropogenic climate change, but it is not beyond scientific apporach. The attitude of "GOTCHA" is not appropriate for skeptics here, nor will that attitude be appropriate when the original authors of the study rebut the criticism.

    It takes time to establish consensus, and time to change it. Latching on to an individual argument in this process is like latching onto a minute by minute trend in the stock market. Smart investors look at longer term trends, and we should evaluate scientific evidence this way.
  • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @10:20AM (#10550186) Homepage
    The problem with some people who worry about global warming is that they have a tendency to say that severely reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the only way to prevent disaster- and while that's a lovely sentiment, it is excessively impractical. But what of alternative solutions [reason.com] to the problem?

    A mere 0.5 percent change in Earth's net reflectivity, or albedo, would solve the greenhouse problem completely. ... About 1 percent of the United States is covered by human constructions, mostly paving, suggesting that we may already control enough of the land to get at the job.
    It's a whole lot more likely than cutting emissions 30% or more.
    • The problem with some people who worry about global warming is that they have a tendency to say that severely reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the only way to prevent disaster- and while that's a lovely sentiment, it is excessively impractical.

      Fundamentally, humans must cut back severely on carbon dioxide emissions eventually. We're obviously pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere than plants can handle (hence the reason that the CO2 level is going up at all). If we continue at the current rate of emiss
  • Note that Mueller's article was based on a study that was rejected when it was peer-reviewed [davidappell.com]

    • by crmartin (98227) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @11:18AM (#10550471)
      No, Mueller's article is based on several studies, which includes one short article that was rejected for space reasons, and a previous article (December 2003) that examines McIntyre and McKittrick's original, peer-reviewed and published article. Go read the referenced web sites.

      Anyone who has done real science for any length of time knows that the perr-review process is not without flaws. In this particular case, though, McIntyre and McKittrick have identified flaws in the original hockey-stick paper that have already been the subject of a major correction in Nature and have published several peer-reviewed papers on the errors in the original Mann et al paper.

      Note also that Mann et al. don't seem to be able to settle on which data series they used, and refuse to make their source data and codes available to other researchers.

      It's also interesting that the models of Mann et al. deny the Little Climatic Optimum, which is otherwise awfully well supported, eg, by the historical records of the Vikings in the New World and the rather clear records of conditions in Europe.

      As with most things of this sort, you should read the actual sources and draw your own conclusions.
    • Note that Mueller's article was based on a study that was rejected when it was peer-reviewed

      Yeah, and you can read all about it here [uoguelph.ca], including the actual reviewer comments.

  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @12:22PM (#10550777)


    Mathematics aside, it's a bit late to be asking whether global warming is happening or not. The question for us now is whether we can stop the ongoing meltdown. The arctic, Antartica, the Greenland ice sheet, Glacier National Park, the Alps - all melting before our eyes.

    • Of course its happening, but it is still a logic debate upon the causes. Many could argue it would have happend anyways as its simply a natural cycle. I don't know if I agree either way, but acting as if there is no other conclusion is silly.
    • The question of whether it's anthropogenic -- that is, caused by humans -- is increasingly looking like it must be answered in the negative, though.

      (My favorite recent one is the suggestion that Mars has been experiencing global warming in the recent past too.)

      If it's not anthropogenic, there's real reason to question whether we can do anything about it, even neglecting the question of whether we should Björn Lomberg makes a pretty good argument that we'd do a lot more good spending the money it wou
      • I haven't made up my mind about Lomborg's statistics
        but providing safe water supplies to Africa and Asia
        won't be as easy as it sounds, especially in Africa.

        Political instability and wars there have destroyed repeated attempts to build better infrastructure over several decades.

        Also, the cost of doing business in many of those countries is magnified
        by who has to be paid off and whether agreements with those in power will be honored
        in the long term.
        Tens of billions of dollars in aid have been
        siphoned off ov
        • God knows you're right. (Can you say "Oil for Food"?)

          But then the overall cost of Kyoto is amazingly large, and the effects are pretty small too.

          But if the anthropogenic model of global warming is wrong then the cost-benefit ratio for Kyoto is infinitely bad: lim n->0 lots of money/n .

      • > If it's not anthropogenic, there's real reason to question whether we can do anything about it

        So what should we do? Shrug our shoulders and watch our garden paradise go to hell in a handbasket while we try to maximize short-term profits?

        • If a volcano erupted in your backyard, what would you do to try and save your house?
        • Re: So? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by crmartin (98227)
          Wow. That's possibly the stupidest comment, with the most logical fallacies per sentence, that I've ever seen on Slashdot.

          First off, seeing as we're arguably at the end of an ice age (one of the interpretations of the warming data), the result may well be that we start growing wine grapes in Canada and England -- they didn't call the last stretch like that the "Little Climatic Optimum" for nothing. So we could be heading toward a "garden paradise".

          (More like, we're heading for a time in which things Wil
        • So what should we do? Shrug our shoulders and watch our garden paradise go to hell in a handbasket while we try to maximize short-term profits?

          If we are not the cause, we may not be able to be the cure. Destroying our economic (semi)paradise on a fool's quest to "fix" the climate isn't going to help anybody...

  • Nemesis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @01:35PM (#10551176) Homepage
    Interesting to see this coming from Rich Muller, who was my favorite prof as an undergraduate at Berkeley. At that time (1983), he was working on an idea that there was a periodicity to mass extinctions caused by comet impacts. He thought the sun might actually be a double star, and its companion might be too dim and far away to have been detected. This star, which he called Nemesis, would come close to the Oort cloud every 30 Myr (?) as it approached the sun in its elliptical orbit, and knock a bunch of comets out of their normal orbits. The whole thing was based on a statistical analysis of the dates of impacts, and the problem was that some impacts were more accurately dated than others, so he threw out the ones with inaccurate dates. Skeptics argued that he had produced the periodicity by throwing out certain data. They searched for the companion star with IR astronomy (?), but never found it. Muller wrote a very entertaining popular science book about the whole thing.

    So anyway, one of the biggest episodes in Muller's scientific career was built on a controversial statistical analysis. He dealt with a lot of the same issues he's talking about now with respect to the hockey stick graph: doing Monte Carlo simulations, worrying about biases in the data, etc. Probably a case of once burned, twice wary.

  • I've had a class with Mann for Atmosphere and Weather, and I'm not suprised that there was a computer messup. When I had him, he couldn't even get the overhead projector to work and couldn't get powerpoint to work. However, I'm putting money on some grad student under Mann having made the error. But Mann's name is on the research, so he gets the flak.
  • by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Sunday October 17, 2004 @04:50PM (#10552278)
    When I was seventeen I read Muller's Nemesis: the Death Star. I suspect that title was foisted on him by his publisher; it's too sensationalistic for Dr. Muller, I think. Anyway, yes, Rich Muller is the guy who came up with the Nemesis hypothesis.

    I loved the book. It wasn't a one-sided argument in favor of his theory. Rather, the book was more about the history of his hypothesis rather than "look at me, I'm so cool". (For all that I love Linus Pauling, he did a lot of the latter in his writing.) The book made mention of some experiments which could disprove the Nemesis hypothesis, and I waited for the results of the Hipparcos sat... and didn't hear anything in the media.

    So, with the simple wisdom of a seventeen-year-old, I decided to write Rich Muller and ask him the results of Hipparcos. I mentioned how I'd found his book, that I was going to college next year to pursue an engineering degree, the usual stuff a seventeen-year-old talks about.

    Three weeks later, I had a two-page letter back from him. He explained the Hipparcos results; he wished me luck in my undergraduate career; and asked me to drop him a line in a couple of years to let him know how my engineering studies were going.

    I never got around to responding to Rich, because by the time I got to my undergraduate career I'd become infected with the common wisdom of adults: "of course he's got better things to do than hear from me." When I was seventeen I knew better; when I was twenty, I was an idiot.

    Well, now I'm looking at 30 in a couple of months. So. Rich, if you're reading this?

    The 17-year-old from the early '90s who wrote you asking about Hipparcos? That's me. I'm now 29 and working towards a Ph.D. in Computer Science. It's been a helluva ride, let me tell you. I'm basically doing applied math, and some of the ways the math gets applied take my breath away.

    Thanks for taking me seriously when I was seventeen. Only a couple of people did.
  • This is funny... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Even though there is no science, data, and very very few experts who believe that global warming is taking place due to man (or that it is even taking place), so many /.'ers get on here and scream and say it is!

    Look, there is no proof of global warming. If you think there is, you don't know what you are talking about. We just don't have the data yet.

    And there is even LESS proof that man is causing the climate to change. All of you trying to say otherwise are either just playing politics with the science f

  • If this guy [imdb.com] was in any way responsible for getting Don Henley back together with Glenn Frey [imdb.com], he's tha man(n)! When he says "The Heat is on", I believe him!

  • Increase in CO2 actually linked to overfishing [fisherycrisis.com]?

    An increase in atmospheric CO2 is an expected consequence of removal of the marine biota. It is demonstrated that the progressive fishing-induced biomass depletion of the world's ocean is a more plausible explanation for what has triggered the rising CO2 in the atmosphere, than is our more recent history of burning fossil fuels. The time frame of the effect (rising CO2) fits more closely to the proposed cause (fishing). Proof for the long-term trend in biomas


  • ... but the least they could've done is show us the corrected graph!!!

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