News from Soudan Minnesota

Some evidence pointing to the existence of dark matter was recently detected at the Soudan mine in Soudan Minnesota. I can't say much about this report. I am pretty sure this would have interested me when I was younger, but for whatever reason I really don't care one way or the other now that I am older. Shape of the universe? Fun to ponder, but what difference does it really make?

However, I have been to the Soudan mine. I went there once with a friend on a camping trip. It was a blast! The site is run by a the Minnesota State Park Service. We rode down into the mine using the elevator that the miners used. It was scary fun. Completely dark, loud and seemingly very fast, the elevator plunged us straight down into the mine.

Visitors are lowered in an 80-year-old electric mine hoist to level 27, the mine's lowest level at 2,341 feet (713.5 m) below ground.

It was like a ride at an amusement park. There we saw a gigantic cave where the miners had dug out the valuable hematite ore. Our tour guide was excellent, telling us fascinating stories about the history of the mine and the mining process.

If you are ever up there in northern Minnesota, be sure to visit. You won't be disappointed.

Obama is Right

President Obama is right:
Mr Obama met Wen Jiabao, the Chinese Prime Minister, tonight in attempt to repair relations after Mr Wen had taken offence at his insistence on the need for reliable monitoring of every country’s emissions. In his speech Mr Obama said: “Without any accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page.”

Mr Wen apparently interpreted this as an attempt to subject China to external scrutiny, despite Mr Obama’s insistence that the monitoring system would respect national sovereignty.

Our president recognizes the obvious. China will cheat. Allow me to quote myself about how China would meet its emission targets:
No real actions to reduce emissions are taken. The day before the annual report is due, a bureaucrat somewhere within the Chinese government fills out a form showing that China not only met its goal, but exceeded the goal by 5%. Meanwhile, a statement by the propaganda minister is prepared for publication in China's government run newspapers heralding this great success and scolding the corrupt West for falling short.

Boo hoo if the Chinese official is offended. I fully expect the USA's leadership to cave on this point, but at least someone made it.

Steam Power

In a park near our home there is a steam engine on display. It was built in the 1940s, and so was one of the last of its kind. It's enormous

the wheels being as tall as I am. There is a sign nearby that says that the engine weighs 675000 pounds, and had 55000 pounds of pull. It's very impressive. Most amazing of all to me is the size of the piston that is positioned between the lead wheels. It seems so tiny! You can just make it out in the picture above (click to zoom). Here is a schematic of a steam engine in more detail:

which I obtained here. Amazingly, the entire 55000 pounds of thrust are generated by that piston (or half of that? Do the pistons on each side work together or in sequence?). The sign near the engine said that the steam pressure was 250 pounds per square inch, so a piston with a diameter of 17 inches might theoretically be big enough. Maybe you had to be there, but seeing the enormousness of the engine in comparison to size of the piston left me dumbfounded. The piston didn't even look like it was attached well enough to take that kind of force.

In any case, the power of steam is amazing.

Waiter Secrets

From a list of 20 secrets your waiter won't tell you:
12. My biggest pet peeve? When I walk up to a table of six or seven people and one person decides everyone needs water. I’m making a trip to deliver seven waters, and four or five of them never get touched.
—Judi Santana, a server for ten years

My pet peave? Waiters who don't bring water unless I ask for it.

Best product ever

Click here, and make sure you click on the user-added images.

Just click and look. It needs no further explanation.


I've been trying to find the evidence for the widely-accepted theory of anthropogenic global warming. This is the part of the climate change debate that is supposed to be really settled. Even skeptics admit that humans are having an effect, they only argue about the scale of that effect.

As far as I can tell the evidence amounts to co-incidence--that is, two things happening at the same time. Here is the argument in a nutshell:
  1. The greenhouse effect is real.
  2. Greenhouse gasses cause the greenhouse effect.
  3. Carbon Dioxide is a greenhouse gas.
  4. Humans produce carbon dioxide.
  5. Ergo, humans, by releasing CO2, are causing the warming.
I'd point out that coincidence does not mean causality.

The more that comes out about the science of global warming, the more convinced I am that climate science is at its heart non-rigorous, lazy, and sloppy. Or, that climate science relates to hard science about the way that brie relates to parmesan.
I've seen a number of posts out there referring to this bit of code in the CRU program as a smoking gun, because of the comment within the code that says "Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!"

; Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL correction for decline!!
2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor
if n_elements(yrloc) ne n_elements(valadj) then message,'Oooops!'

However, if you look closely at the code, this isn't really the case. You can see that there are 3 variables created: "yrloc," "valadj" and "yearlyadj." The first two are used only to calculate the third. However, the third variable is not used at all. You can see that the line

begins with a semi-colon, and thus has been commented out, so is not an active part of the program.

There are no other references to these 3 variables in the code. So the bottom line is that this seems like much ado about nothing. The adjustment is calculated, but not applied anywhere.

Ann says: Isn't this a subroutine, though? Three variables get defined: yrloc, valadj and yearlyadj. Maybe they get used elsewhere.