This post will eventually be about how two Anglican priests of the 18th and 19th centuries demolish one of the principle claims of the global warming alarmists, but it will take a while to get there.
Last night, I want to a lecture by Garrett Lisi at Maikalani. I was curious to see whether he is, indeed, the crackpot that some theoretical physicists say he is. He isn’t, although C.P. Snow would have had something to say about the overflow crowd he drew to the monthly lecture at the Institute for Astronomy. I saw lots of people there from East Maui who have never appeared for the more conventional lectures.
(Note to off-island readers: Most Maui institutions with “institute” in their titles are fringist, but the IfA is fo’ real: It’s the most prestigious part of the U. of Hawaii.)
Although I could not follow Lisi’s argument, it is clear enough what he is trying to do: He said he is trying, like Einstein, to geometrize the fundamental forces, of which gravity has been the most reluctant to be subsumed into a more inclusive description.
It goes back further than Einstein. Newton was attempting the same thing. Newton is always credited with inventing calculus, but it is not usually added that for him, calculus was a kludge, a way to hammer out results he was unable to get to geometrically. He worked on the Greek assumption that geometry was more pure or more fundamental than arithmetic.
According to Gale Christianson’s “In the Presence of the Creator: Isaac Newton and His Times,” after working out his theorems arithmetically, Newton expended tremendous energy in working out geometric proofs. “Principia Mathematica” presents the geometric proofs. (“In the Presence of the Creator,” one of the best biographies of Newton, is unaccountably out of print. Christianson is also author of a pro-global warming book, “Greenhouse: The 200-year History of Global Warming.” As RtO has said before, it isn’t easy to be right about everything all the time.)
So, while I do not understand Lisi’s argument, I now know what he is trying to do.
It isn’t silly.
I bring this up because, as RtO has said often before, there can be more than one way to work out a critique to a scientific assertion. And you don’t need more and more powerful computers.
One favorite assertion of the doommongers is that over the last few generations, spring has come weeks and weeks earlier in England, which they blame on greenhouse gases.
This is a simple assertion, and when made about England, a place with a long written record of detailed observations of natural history, one that if accurate should carry some weight. Without using any mathematics, I can show it is not accurate.
Gilbert White was the vicar of Selborne, a parish in Hampshire on the south coast of England, and author of “The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.” This is considered the first work of ecological science in English, or perhaps in any language. White died in 1793, after recording his surroundings for 25 years.
Like the “Principia Mathematica,” “The Natural History” is largely free of arithmetic. White knew the thermometer, but he did not report (in this book, or in his letters) what the thermometer read (I think he did record the numbers in his diary, but I have not read that). He preferred homely observations, as in winter, whether water froze in a bowl overnight or whether Timothy the tortoise was out in the garden.
His observations were, for all that, precise.
The hawthorn is the earliest flowering tree of the English spring, equivalent to the redbud in the American South. We can say that the definition of spring is, when the hawthorn blooms.
Henry Ellacombe was another Anglican priest/ecologist, vicar of Bitton in Glouchestershire, who wrote a book called “The Plant-lore and Garden-craft of Shakespeare.” In the second edition (1884) under “hawthorns,” he writes:
“”It is essentially the May tree, the tree that tells that winter is really past,” and quotes Edmund Spenser’s verses for May in “The Shepherd’s Calendar” about how “younghes folke now flocken in everywhere” to gather “Hawthorne-buds.” But Ellacombe adds:
“In spite of the pretty name, and in spite of the poets, the hawthorn now seldom flowers until June” -- for all that Spenser wrote in the 16th century, when England was about to enter its Little Ice Age, and Ellacombe in Victoria’s time, when the world had gotten as warm as the alarmists think it should be allowed to get.
Glouchestershire is one county north of Hampshire, on the warmer western edge of England, while Suffolk is much farther north on the cold North Sea. Ellacombe quotes another local antiquarian that “it was an old custom in Suffolk, in most of the farmhouses, that any servant who could bring in a branch of hawthorn in full blossom on the 1st of May was entitled to a dish of cream for breakfast. This custom is now disused, not so much from the reluctance of the masters to give the reward, as from the inability of the servants to find the hawthorn in flower.”
And, in a footnote, he quotes Milner’s “Country Pleasures”: “Gilbert White in his ‘Naturalists’ Calendar’ as the result of observations taken from 1768 to 1793 puts down the flowering of the hawthorn as occurring in different years upon dates so widely apart as the twentieth of April and the eleventh of June.”
Clearly, it is not possible to say that England ever had a usual or typical starting date for spring, and so-called scientists who claim they can tell that it is coming weeks and weeks earlier are talking through their hats.
Source Link: mauinews.com