Thursday, August 01, 2013

Blog Science

One of the entertainments of being a physicist is meeting other physicists (yes with doctorates) who have some crazy bug and have piles of school notebooks filled with algebra showing (pick one) relativity, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, atmospheric science, etc are wrong wrong wrong.

Engineers appear to specialize in wanting to build second law perpetual motion machines.

The ENTERTAINMENTNET has made this sort of thing available to everyone.

(Originally posed as an ER Comment at Wottsupwiththatblog)  picture from the Mad Scientist's page

10 comments:

Bryson said...

Years ago I published (as a philosopher) a short letter in Physics Today commenting on the interpretation of quantum mechanics. In return I received, over a few years, long essays from eccentrics arguing against (special) relativity and quantum mechanics, full of detailed mathematics and crazy claims. I suspect publishing physicists must receive far more. But perhaps we're making progress: it's easier to dispose of these things today (hit delete) than it was then (carrying boxes of paper to the recycling centre). And easier to ignore a blog than to ignore personal correspondence...

John Mashey said...

Well, one need not be a physicist or engineer to use high school algebra to disprove relativity to physics professor who teach it.
See Tom Bethell, pp.16-19 in Weird Science..., especially p.17, excerpted from an amazing
Absolutely Clueless About Relativity.
, which starts:

"Tom Bethel has been riding an anti-relativity-theory hobby horse for years. He has recently published an article questioning the theory of relativity in the American Spectator. I have never met Mr. Bethel. I am sure he is a fine fellow; but he should stick to subjects he knows something about. Bethel apparently learned what he knows about physics (obviously very little) from a now-deceased friend of his named Petr Beckmann. Bethel tells us that Beckmann was an engineer. I have enormous respect for engineers—as engineers. But knowledge of engineering in itself no more qualifies a person to talk about fundamental physics than does knowing about baseball or butterfly collecting."

John said...

Over four decades ago, I had a conversation with J. Curry Street, Harvard Physics Professor, who told me that he collected documents from cranks: routine disproofs of relativity, for example. He tossed tem into a carboard box in the corner of his office, which he called "the crank case".

Michael Tobis said...

The Beckman Institute at the Uinversity of Illinois was named after Arnold Beckman, so that was a false alarm.

Petr Beckmann was quite a character though:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petr_Beckmann

"He defected to the United States in 1963 and became a Professor (later, Emeritus) of electrical engineering at the University of Colorado. In the United States, he became acquainted with novelist Ayn Rand, a contributing editor to a publication devoted to her ideas, The Intellectual Activist, and a speaker at The Thomas Jefferson School, an intellectual conference of similar purpose."

" He wrote more than 60 scientific papers and eight technical books. Dr. Beckmann spoke at ISIL's San Francisco Conference in 1990 where he received a standing ovation for his speech in which he attacked "sham environmentalists".

John Mashey said...

T: check pp.4-5 of Weird Anti-Science.

Petr Beckmann was well-connected with Tom Bethell (T), Howard Hayden (V), Fred Singer (W), Art Robinson(X).

Where there's one, there's more.

Martin Vermeer said...

Yep, the "absolutely clueless" piece is golden. Including the comments.

GPS works, bitches.

andrew adams said...

Over four decades ago, I had a conversation with J. Curry Street, Harvard Physics Professor, who told me that he collected documents from cranks: routine disproofs of relativity, for example. He tossed tem into a carboard box in the corner of his office, which he called "the crank case".

...only for another J. Curry to subsequently fish them back out and publish them on her blog.

David B. Benson said...

I've known a few academic charlatans. Hard to cause them to move on but I succeeded once.

rp^2 said...

Petr Beckmann was a major actor in the early days of the antienvironmentalist movement.. In addition to the names mentioned by John Mashey (Tom Bethell, Howard Hayden, S. Fred Singer, Arthur Robinson), his fans included Washington State governor Dixy Lee Ray, science fiction writer James P. Hogan, and physicist Edward Teller. Dixy Lee Ray dedicated her 1994 book "Environmental Overkill" jointly to Beckmann and Teller.

Beckmann was active on usenet in the late 1980's and early 1990s (you can find his posts by trawling through google groups in sci.physics and sci.environment) , but his principal means of communication was his privately published newletter, _Access to Energy_, which is now edited by Arthur Robinson. A few months after Beckmann's death, Robinson devoted an issue of _Access to Energy_ to tributes to Beckmann. Included is a remarkable testimonial from Edward Teller, in which he gently tries to explain to the readers of _AtE_ that even though Einstein was an icky socialist, he was right about physics:
http://www.commentary.net/view/atearchive/s76a2564.htm

"While Einstein was right in physics, he was systematically and thoroughly wrong in his politics...
I'm sorry, I think our friend Petr Beckmann did not see the point that Einstein was clearly right in his ideas of 1905 which he later called special relativity. "

Russell Seitz said...

"Over four decades ago, I had a conversation with J. Curry Street, Harvard Physics Professor, who told me that he collected documents from cranks: routine disproofs of relativity, for example. He tossed tem into a carboard box in the corner of his office, which he called "the crank case"."


This seems to be an example of factoid drift.
there really was a cardboard box into which vanity press volumes and crank papers were tossed , but it was in Tinkham's office, for being a Nobel laureate he caught most of Harvard Physics' junk mail flack.

Though visitors wre invited to help themselves to its occasionally amusing contents, it often overflowed, leading to inquiries as to whether a Jotul book stove was in order.