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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Infrared Radiation, Black-bodies, and Temperature

This post is part of a primer on infrared spectroscopy and global warming. The previous post discusses the nature of  infrared radiation. This post starts the process of looking at the interaction between infrared radiation and matter and discusses black-bodies and the relationship between temperature and infrared radiation.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

What is Infrared Radiation (IR)?

This post is part of a primer on infrared spectroscopy and global warming. The  main post gives an overview of the topic and provides links to each of  the sections. This post examines what infrared radiation (IR) is, a necessary first step to understanding the importance of IR in discussions about global warming.

Figure source

IR is a type of electromagnetic radiation; so the starting place is to understand electromagnetic radiation.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Glacier-Gate" and Healthy Skepticism

The last report of the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contained the claim that there was a probability that the glaciers in the Himalayas would melt by 2035.  It now appears that such a claim never should have been made.  It is instructive to review the bidding to see how this claim appeared in the report.

The claim stated:

Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).
First, I provide some background on the IPCC. Second, I discuss the source of this claim, and  third,  I  discuss what this error means. My conclusion is a discussion of healthy skepticism and what it means. Those who claim that the IPCC made an error and therefore climate science is a hoax, are not healthy skeptics of the sort I mean.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Voltaire's Poem on the Lisbon Disaster (1756)

The link below has the poem and also some discussion of its context. the poem is a reply to those like Pope and Leibniz who proclaimed that all is well. 

"UNHAPPY mortals! Dark and mourning earth!
Affrighted gathering of human kind!
Eternal lingering of useless pain!
Come, ye philosophers, who cry, "All’s well,"
And contemplate this ruin of a world."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Beer-Lambert Law


This post is part of a primer on infrared spectroscopy and global warming. The previous post  looks at the features of the spectra of molecules of interest molecules and radiation and discusses how molecules give rise to infrared spectra.  This post looks at the question of how much radiation is absorbed by gas phase molecules in a laboratory setting and examines some of the differences between the laboratory gas cell and the earth's atmosphere.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Please Consider Donating to Help the Haitian People

By now everyone is aware of the devastating earthquake it Haiti and its aftermath.  10s or perhaps 100s of thousand of people have died.  More will die without aid.  The Haitian people need your help, not just now, but in the weeks and months to come.  There are many options to help.

You can donate to the American Red Cross International fund online.  You can even make your payment through Amazon.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Past Tense of To Be

The past tense of the verb to be is not conjugated as follows:

I was
you was
it was
we was
you was
they was

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Primer on Infrared Spectroscopy and Global Warming


This post and the posts linked to it through section headers together form a primer on infrared spectroscopy and how it relates to global warming.  The purpose of the primer is not be to convince skeptics that global warming is real, but rather to explain some of the terms and issues being discussed in climate science.  My goal is not to write a super technical explanation of infrared spectroscopy.  That's been done so many times that it is hardly worth doing again.

Rather, my intent is to write something that clearly describes infrared spectroscopy and relates it to global warming that tries to explain some fairly technical concepts in reasonably plain language.  As such there is an inevitable loss of fidelity about some of the fine points of infrared spectroscopy.  Anyone interested in such detail can follow some of the sources that I will provide.  At some point one has to compromise between accessibility and technical accuracy.  I hope that the choices made in this primer are helpful to some people trying to understand this topic.  This post is an outline of the topics addressed in the linked entries.

What is Infrared Radiation (IR)?

Figure source

This first post starts with the basics.  It discusses the electromagnetic spectrum and where infrared radiation fits into it.  It discusses waves and their measures.  It introduces the idea of electric dipole radiation.  It discusses the units of radiation wavelength, frequency. It ends by discussing photons and energy quantization.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Getting the Blog into Shape

Just a note to say that I am getting this new blog into shape.  I welcome any advice on format, readability etc. Please let me know if you like the look and feel and whether you find it easy to read.  Also, if there are any topics you'd like me to get into, I'd welcome suggestions.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Chemistry of Holocaust Denial

This post is an opportunity to collect in one place some of the articles I've written on Holocaust Denial. I have not been actively involved with this topic in years. The deniers may have additional pseudo-arguments of which I am not aware, but I think as a whole the articles stand.

In 2001, I wrote an Expert Report to support the defense of Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books against the libel accusations of David Irving.

David Irving had sued Deborah Lipstadt in the UK for libel because of the fact that she identified him as a Holocaust denier, Hitler apologist, distorter of history, antisemite and racist in her book Denying the Holocaust. It should be noted that Lipstadt did not choose the legal system as the place to fight this battle. By suing her for libel, Irving threatened her right of free speech as well as the accuracy of the historical record. As a US citizen, Lipstadt could have conveniently ignored the suit and relied on the protections of the US First Amendment. Instead, she courageously rose to the challenge, deciding that UK legal precedent is of historical importance. She defended herself using the defense of justification. Her book was not libel because it was true. She won the suit, Mr. Justice Gray found that the defense of justification was in fact a valid one.

Irving appealed the decision and Lipstadt won again.

The Claim of a Warming Pause


There are many claims that global warming has stopped. Such claims look at the average of the surface temperature record over the past few years and conclude that ever since 1998 temperatures have cooled.

The trick is that 1998 was a particularly warm year. In one of the commonly used data sets, 1998 was the hottest year ever recorded. If 1998 was so hot and all of the years since 1998 have been cooler, does that mean that the earth has cooled since 1998?

The fact is that one cannot demonstrate a trend by starting with one year and comparing each year since that year individually. There are two problems with such an analysis. First, if the analysis always starts with 1998, the data are being cherry-picked.

 Why start with 1998? Why not start with 2000, or 1995? If someone starts with 1998, it is because he or she is trying to use the data to support a pre-determined conclusion. If one is interested in understanding what information is really embedded in the data, one cannot pick and choose where to start. Of course one has to work with the data that are available. It would be nice to go back to the Medieval Warm Period and plant sensors all over the earth, but one cannot do such a thing.

How It Looks From Here

I am going to experiment with setting up my own blog. I am motivated to do so because of my experience with Facebook. I only recently joined Facebook and have enjoyed catching up with friends, family and associates. I seem to have two different goals when I am on Facebook. The first is personal: I want to interact with my friends and share personal tidbits.

Facebook is well suited for this type interaction. Secondly, I like to share my perspective on numerous topics of interest to me. Facebook is not so well suited for this usage. I often have more to say than is conveniently displayed in a Facebook note. Moreover some of my friends and associates probably are more interested in what is going on with me personally than my views on such topics. So I am going to experiment with blog posting for a little while. Whether I continue this exercise will depend on how much of a time sink it is, and whether anyone is actually interested in reading it.

Topics that I will probably discuss include thoughts on Antisemitism, Acquisition Reform, Climate Science, Evolution, The Final Solution, Holocaust Denial, Human Rights, Humanism, Humor, Infrared Spectroscopy, Judaism, Management, Math, Military, News, Public Policy, etc.

At the moment, I am interested in Climate Science, its popularization, and its mis-characterization. Some of my initial posts will probably relate to this topic. I am an unapologetic fan of Real Climate. Some of the content there is a bit technical and I hope that I can help make it accessible. Additionally, I have a bit of experience with passive infrared spectroscopy. It seems to me that climate science presents a teachable moment on infrared spectroscopy and I'm interested in pursuing that possibility.

In the past I have been very interested in Holocaust Denial and I have been a contributor to The Holocaust History Project. From time to time I will probably post on the topic.