I Am Not a Fan of Chaos Theory or Uncertainty (as it is applied)

I was just looking into a book called “Chaos or Complexity in Economic Systems” by one Fernando Alcoforado, and it appears that it will be a real slog.  Quickly I ran across the following:

Efforts of Poincare and Lorenz were added to the contributions of Benoit Mandelbrot(communications engineer), Edward Feigenbaum (math), Libchaber (physical), Winfree (biologist), Mandell (psychiatrist) and others. Chaos Theory or the new Science of Complexity suggests that the world should not strictly follow the deterministic Newtonian model, predictable and certain, because it has chaotic aspects. The observer is not who creates instability or unpredictability due to their ignorance because they exist in nature.

A typical example is the weather. The processes of reality depend on a huge set of uncertain circumstances that determine, for example, that any small change in one part of the planet, there will be in the coming days or weeks a considerable effect on the other part of the Earth. This condition also applies to the economic system. According to Chaos Theory or Complexity Science, chaos is a “mixture” of disorder and order that born of new structures, structures called “dissipative”. Chaos theory suggeststhat the Universe has a cycle of order, disorder, order, and so on. So that one leads the other and so on, perhaps indefinitely. One of the main implications of Chaos Theory hasto do with the return generated in chaotic situations. While closed systems have a negative feedback, open systems evolve chaotically by positive feedback… [emphasis added by me]

See, this is where I disagree.  The bold part is an assertion that the author fully accepts at face value.

I don’t.  Those “uncertain circumstances” are NOT uncertain, not to the real, physical atoms and molecules.  Each of them is being affected by forces and processes and conditions acting upon them.  And each, in its turn, passes on some portion to other atoms and molecules.

The fact that HUMAN SCIENTISTS are uncertain about those “circumstances” does not make the physical circumstances uncertain; those circumstances are REAL, whether the scientists can measure them or not. Continue reading

Something Just Phor Phun and Let You All Sort It Out or Scratch Your Heads…

You can all label me as certifiable now if you want…

This is about ice ages.  Some portions about the ice age theory – as presented – have holes in them.  So, I am arguing those points and you see if my points are valid in your own minds. . .

Two years ago, over at WattsUpWithThat.com, my friend Canadian climatologist Rodney Chilton posted an article on the Younger Dryas and the Thermohaline Conveyor shutdown that is supposed to have happened.  I was one of the people who vetted and edited Rodney’s paper, so it is something I had a little hand in. Rodney duly gave me credit in the Acknowledgements, even. I was quite pleased to see how many commenters at WUWT had positive comments.

Especially this one:

Mike M. says:

thank you very much for posting. i have a scientifically minded teen and have used this article to demonstrate “the way science is done”.

I am not going to comment directly on either of the topics, but will instead disuss a comment by a guy named commieBob, which was replied to by a handful of people, with a couple of them actually not having any idea what they were talking about or what science’s take was on the point of commieBob’s comment.

commieBob says:

Ice age – What ice age?

Here’s a link to a really skeptical article:http://www.blavatsky.net/science/atlantis/emails/ice_age.htm There is ‘evidence’ that the ice ages, as we understand them, did not happen.

The first thing that attracted my attention when I found the above link was the name Blavatsky. “Verrry interesting” The new age movement might be termed “Blavatsky for dummies”. In other words, although I do not personally have the knowledge and skill to refute the information and conclusions in the above linked article, I’m darn sure it’s garbage. It is, isn’t it? Help …

I did myself read the linked article, which had some valid points and some mish-mash in it.  I will pass on the mish-mash and address what I think are valid points.

To this, one comment was the following. I will comment here on the bolded parts of davidmhoffer’s comment:


I’m darn sure it’s garbage.

It is worse than garbage. The article rests upon this argument:

[Quoted improperly from the article:]

“A first and perhaps prime fact you need to know is that ice does not go uphill. Water doesn’t and ice doesn’t and glaciers don’t. Even over level ground ice doesn’t go very far. Specifically it goes up to 7 miles on level ground. Ice just can’t push ice further than that. If pressure is applied to push more than 7 miles worth of ice then it gets crushed or melts instead.

A look at the map shows that the ice would have to be pushed much farther than 7 miles.
With just this info you can see, the ice-age didn’t happen!”

An “ice age” happens when the total amount of snow that falls in winter exceeds the amount that melts in summer.

If that happens over a large area, you get a large ice sheet, it doesn’t have to “travel” to get anywhere. As for the 7 mile limitation, it all depends on speed. If the ice only moves a small amount year over year, then no crushing or melting occurrs [sic]. FAIL on the first two points of the article, no further reading required to conclude that it is drivel.

So what am I going to write about this?….

Hoffer cheated a bit on his quote of the article, by leaving out the middle paragraph of what he pasted in.   Continue reading

A Change of Pace – 3D Body Parts

Move over Captain Kirk!  Or take a bow, Gene Roddenberry!  Your Replicators are developing almost as fast as they are printing out “stuff.”


You knew this was coming:  3d printed body parts.  Main blood vessels would seem to be made to order for 3D printers.  They don’t have permeable walls – all they are is tubes to move the blood from one part of the body to another.  As long as the material is not rejected by the body and does not break down, it would seem that aortas would be a perfect application of 3D printing.  And if they can make it out of our own cells, the rejection problem should be completely eliminated – and breakdown should pretty much gone, as well: The 3D printed one should last as long as the original, perhaps the rest of our lives.

Will they be able to make new livers and kidneys and pancreases, complex organic factories?  Certainly not at this stage, but given time, it seems possible, if not altogether doable.


About 15 years ago or so, I first heard of 3D printers, and the first thought in my mind was Star Trek transporters.  Don’t laugh!  We are well on our way!

To transport, the Star Trek idea was to disassemble an object or organism by full body scanning and disassembling the body molecule by molecule, and then transmitting the pattern to another location and re-assembling it.  It was similar to replicating, but had the extra steps at the transmitting end of identifying every molecule in the body and, one-by-one, removing them from the object or organism.  From that point on, the two are pretty identical. (Except for how to deal with the consciousness/personality/memories.)

But ten years ago, where was the scanner?

Aha! THAT, dear reader, had been invented LONG before – around 1980-ish – with NMR, nuclear magnetic resonance.  NMR is now usually called MRIs. MRIs display IN 3D and only display (usually).

Enter CNCs for a moment, just for illustrative purposes:

Computer Numerically Controlled machining centers are the current way that metal parts are made these days. A CNC takes a computer generated “model” of a part – that is EXACTLY the same size and shape as the finished part needs to be.  That model LOOKS like the real 3-dimensional part – with holes and notches and chamfers and shoulders and hubs and bosses and all sorts of shapes.  There was a transition period for CNC machines, when a person would have to take a 2-dimenional drawing and, using proper commands, create the 3D model for the machinist.  But at this point in tech history the 2D drawing is done away with.  The designer now creates the object’s shape in 3D exactly as he wants it.  That is the “model” – the cyber-equivalent to the real thing.  There is no extra step anymore – software now directly takes that cyber model and from it generates all the steps needed by the machining center (the CNC).  And the parts come out super accurate.

THAT tech has been with us now for a long time.  CNC tech, like all machining, is basically a SUBTRACTIVE process – you start with a chunk of metal slightly too big, and then you start removing metal until the shape is 100% correct. 100% of the unneeded material is taken away, leaving only what you want, in the shape you want.  What is NEW is that the 3D printer is not subtractive but is instead ADDITIVE.  And THAT is pretty cool.  You start with nothing, and then keep adding the material layer by layer until you’ve got the finished part.

And that is EXACTLY what a replicator or a transporter needs to do at the “building” end – keep putting more material in until the thing is 100% built – 100% of the needed material has been ADDED.

It is, I found, very apropos to call it “printing,” by the way.  Watching a 3D printer is like watching now-obsolete large format ink printers for technical drawings.  But it is also like watching the really old teletype type printers from the 1950s.  And it right now is just about that slow, at least for some of the current printers.  It is also a bit like watching fax machines print out.  But as teletypes and faxes got faster and faster, and as new innards are developed, the 3D printers of 10 years from now will probably be 10 times faster.  Perhaps 100 or 1,000 times faster.


The Star Trek shows usually used the term “Pattern Buffer.”  Basically, and perhaps literally, that is the same thing as saying a “3D computer model.”  Once the model is created, it is stored in a computer file, and many copies of the object can be made from that one cyber model.  Making copies does not degrade the file in any way – it is just a template.  Template, model, pattern buffer – same thing.

So now, we have had the two main rudimentary elements of Star Trek transporters around for over 10 years.  The early “builder” elements, however were only capable of dealing with one material at a time – the early 3D printers. (It was called stereolithography then.)   I could see that at the time, and that that would change.  I figured that in time people would ask if a second and third material could be added.  After all, how many different elements are in a human body?  How many different molecule types?  I guessed that someone was already thinking about those other materials and how to incorporate them into the 3D printers.

It turns out that I was right to expect that.  I see these articles now, and I smile. We are on our way, Captain Kirk!

As far as body parts go, we may be able to – SHOULD be able to – repair many or most or maybe someday ALL of our organs this way. We may be able to pre-print them and keep them in cry-stasis, waiting for the day when we need them.  Just thinking about what all this might do for human longevity makes my head spin.  We may be close to 200-year-old people – perhaps 1,000 year old people.

We may not be able to transport ourselves, though.  Doing that will mean transferring the consciousness to the new body location.  Can we do that? That will have to be proven before I will believe it.  But it MIGHT HAPPEN!  I honestly do not know. But at the same time, just replacing body PARTS is something FAR beyond what Mary Shelley could have envisioned in “Frankenstein.”  Is it better to re-animate dead tissue or to keep the tissue alive in the first place?

What do you think?

More on that Clovis-Mammoth Discussion

In my previous post, Mapping Clovis Man vs Mammoths – Just Asking, I’d asked about the apparent blind spot in Clovis-Mammoth studies.  The maps there showed Clovis artifacts VERY predominantly in the Eastern USA, yet amazingly, the only “Clovis sites” chosen for study in Waguespack & Surovell 2003 were sites specifically showing mammoth kills.

Later, in Surovell & Waguespack 2007, the authors say

Using the most lenient and problematic standard of Proboscidean use, simple presence in zooarcheological assemblages, we previously estimated that at least 91 individual mammoths and mastodons are known from a total of 26 Clovis sites (Waguespack and Surovell, 2003, Table 2). Based on available data, no other taxon is present in as many sites or is represented by as many individuals.

My initial problem here has to be their amazing definition of a “Clovis site.” Here, is a different map of artifacts in the USA:


Now, when we read about the Leakeys finding pre-human artifacts in the Olduvai Gorge, the places they are found are normally called “sites” or “digs”. Now maybe Surovell defines sites as some activity, not just a Clovis point.  I would heartily disagree.  But let’s not quibble too much, because we don’t have to.  Look at the map of Clovis artifacts here.  Let’s also assume that the website’s authors weren’t stupid enough to just make that map up out of their imaginations.  If we go with Surovell’s idea of a “site”, then a stray Clovis point may have been dropped somewhere along a trail, not at a campsite.  Still, in a world where all travel is on foot, that dropped point is not going to be more than 20 miles from whatever campsites might be used.  By point population alone, it is clear from the map that the careless Clovis hunters were hunting in the regions shown – in both the East and the West. Continue reading

Mapping Clovis Man vs Mammoths – Just Asking

I’ve been reading a paper, Wagespack and Surovell 2003, as a starting point to see what Surovell’s other papers are about.  His paper attempting to shoot down the Younger Dryas Impact hypothesis was pretty bad science, since he was incapable of following test protocols, so when I got a line on some of his other papers, I decided to see what kind of work he normally does.

In this paper I am seeing that he makes an awful lot of assumptions, ones he thinks are reasonable.  But his selection of data is dumbfounding.  He seems to just make shit up, too, such as a table on what the average density of mammals large and small over the whole of the USA.  With the vast array of ecosystems slash environments in the USA, it is unfathomable that anyone would make up ONE table and give ONE average density and think it could or would apply to the entire country.  One of the oddest things about it is that it includes both Asian elephants and African elephants – but does NOT include mammoths – the subject of his paper.

To cut to the chase, let’s show some maps…

PIDBA Figure 01

I LOVE this map! Except for a few regions (which may be a long term sampling problem) you might match this up quite well with maps of population density in North America in modern times. Does this mean, I wonder, if Paleo-Indians were as bright as we are in terms of livable land? Also, note the quite dense artifact density in the Southeastern and Appalachian regions.  (source: http://pidba.org/content/PIDBA%20Figure%2001.jpg)


Note here, in particular, the lack of mammoths and mastodons in the SE USA and Tennessee valley and southern Mississippi valley. Basically next to no mastodons and mammoths. (source: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-es4V_24PSA8/UEknF8fpF5I/AAAAAAAAErY/som51D_p0V0/s1600/Mammoths-North-America-map.jpg)

Clovis sites used in Waguespack & Surovell 2003

And here, Surovell’s/Waguespack’s map, discussing the hunting preferences of Clovis Man, which purportedly is discussing how Clovis Man might have hunted other game than mammoths and mastodons. Note that ewre the most PEOPLE (artifacts) are found, Surovell and Waguespack don’t show ANY sites studied. They ONLY show them in the regions where mammoth bones and mastodon bones have been found.

Continue reading

Quotes That Say Something to Me

This is intended to be an ongoing blog post and will be updated and re-posted to bring near the top from time to time.  If possible comments will be brought forward, too.  If I could “Sticky Post” it at the top, I might try that and see how it works out.  Some of the quotes are my own.

The list is necessarily short at first.  I did not scheme and plan to do this list.  It is an inspiration of the moment.

John Steinbeck: “I believe one thing powerfully—that the only creative thing our species has is the individual, lonely mind…. The group ungoverned by individual thinking is a horrible destructive principle.”

J Robert Oppenheimer:  “We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”.

Steve Garcia:  “All institutions are destructive of the individual.”


“Committees achieve things, now and again

And groups of three, discuss now and then,

But most things are done, by committees of one.”

The Future Is Not Here Yet, But It Is Coming

Thanks. Maybe one thing I am saying is that we ALL have some blessings on ourselves. Ones we have in increasingly larger quantity. Lives in Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Italy, England, places all over the world, are so much more lives of ease than when I first traveled overseas 42 years ago. Nations in every corner of the world are more prosperous and are catching up and passing the U.S.

And time is the area of prosperity that is the biggest blessing. It is the most fundamental thing, I think, that we are living longer. Second is that we are having far less babies. Third would be that infant mortality is down – and that is to a large part responsible for longer life expectancy.

DO go see Hans Rosling’s TED Talks videos on YouTube. They are terrific. Continue reading