Wednesday 19th of June 2024

flying high with the scientific method...

flying low

I believe in privileges… That is to say everyone should enjoy privileges. That is to say that everyone should have a good life and you should own as much as everyone else. Thus privileges should not be exclusive but inclusive —and privileges would be eradicated like squashed colourful bugs… Things don't work as simply as this because we feel we have a distinct role to play, in accordance with what we know — or think we know...

Privileges should not destroy the planet. This is where sciences come in — to evaluate how much energy one uses to live… But sciences are always under attack from pseudo-scientistic analysis and religions. Even today, a friend of mine emailed me an image of a "female scientist" wearing a hijab demanding cash for what should be a secular scientific organisation. It stink despite the very tasteful picture THAT DOES NOT MAKE any SENSE, by trying to be "inclusive". As I have expressed many times on this site, sciences and religions DO NOT MIX. I know scientists who are Christians and they are the pits of confused bods, even if they are efficient at whatever. 

The scientific method has been under strain. I know there has been many “philosophical” articles about the rotten value of "the scientific method":

It’s probably best to get the bad news out of the way first. The so-called scientific method is a myth. That is not to say that scientists don’t do things that can be described and are unique to their fields of study. But to squeeze a diverse set of practices that span cultural anthropology, paleobotany, and theoretical physics into a handful of steps is an inevitable distortion and, to be blunt, displays a serious poverty of imagination. Easy to grasp, pocket-guide versions of the scientific method usually reduce to critical thinking, checking facts, or letting “nature speak for itself,” none of which is really all that uniquely scientific. If typical formulations were accurate, the only location true science would be taking place in would be grade-school classrooms.

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But this bullshit is to be expected. Sciences are not a dogma. Understood. Dogmas are ridiculous. Capiche? We have to accept the flux of scientific exploration and reject the ignorance of religious beliefs. Do I repeat myself often enough?

This problem is nor recent:

In August 1948 through the initiative of the Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) a "World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace" was held in Wroclaw, Poland.[1] This gathering established a permanent organisation called the International Liaison Committee of Intellectuals for Peace—a group which joined with another international Communist organisation, the Women's International Democratic Federation to convene a second international conclave in Paris in April 1949, a meeting designated the World Congress of Partisans for Peace (Congrès Mondial des Partisans de la Paix).[1] Some 2,000 delegates from 75 countries were in attendance at this foundation gathering in the French capital.[1]

A new permanent organization emerged from the April 1949 conclave, the World Committee of Partisans for Peace.[1] At a Second World Congress held in Warsaw in November 1950, this group adopted the new name World Peace Council (WPC).[1] The origins of the WPC lay in the Cominform's doctrine that the world was divided between "peace-loving" progressive forces led by the Soviet Union and "warmongering" capitalist countries led by the United States, declaring that peace "should now become the pivot of the entire activity of the Communist Parties", and most western Communist parties followed this policy.[2]

In 1950, Cominform adopted the report of Mikhail Suslov, a senior Soviet official, praising the Partisans for Peace and resolving that, "The Communist and Workers' Parties must utilize all means of struggle to secure a stable and lasting peace, subordinating their entire activity to this" and that "Particular attention should be devoted to drawing into the peace movement trade unions, women's, youth, cooperative, sport, cultural, education, religious and other organizations, and also scientists, writers, journalists, cultural workers, parliamentary and other political and public leaders who act in defense of peace and against war."[3]

Lawrence Wittner, a historian of the post-war peace movement, argues that the Soviet Union devoted great efforts to the promotion of the WPC in the early post-war years because it feared an American attack and American superiority of arms[4] at a time when the USA possessed the atom bomb but the Soviet Union had not yet developed it.[5] This was in opposition to the theory that America had no plans to attack anyone, and the purpose of the WPC was to disarm the US and the NATO alliance for a future Soviet attack

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Still going on and on and on...

See also:

The CIA (barely formed, 50 U.S.C. § 403a — 1949) was soon placing its boot on it:

At this stage we don’t care if this sausage is longer than the salami. What we’re about is dunking religions in the toilet bowl and flushing, while using sciences relatively properly to manage a hairy situation which is the human condition on planet earth: evolution and change. 

So how about using the scientific method?

Amid the turbulence of the 20th century's civil rights movement and sexual revolution, the philosophy of science was undergoing its own radical transformation. Suspecting that the scientific method was less straightforward than scientists claimed, philosophers had started challenging the idea that deductive logic was the best way to reveal truths about the world. Against Method (1975), by philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, played a key role in bringing such arguments to maturity. Forty-five years after its publication, the book continues to offer valuable insights to scientists confused by the public's ambivalence toward hard scientific truths.

Most modern scientists would agree that the scientific method provides the best route toward an ever more cohesive understanding of the world around us. Feyerabend did not think it was so simple. He believed that within the landscape of all discoverable knowledge, the scientific method offers a path leading to only a fraction of all knowable facts. This is because it encourages researchers to begin where well-established theories leave off, keeping them aligned with existing scientific paradigms. A path set forward by classical physics, he argued, will not lead to quantum mechanics.

Feyerabend thought that new scientific paradigms could only be reached by radical methods. Indeed, given that new paradigms sit outside existing knowledge structures, there cannot be a predefined method on how to discover them. Anarchistic thinking, spiritualism, irrationality—all must remain on the table.

As proof of principle, Feyerabend elegantly demonstrated that a strict adherence to the scientific method would have forced Galileo to give up his hypothesis that Earth orbits the Sun. Not only did the existing evidence support the idea that Earth was stationary, the practice of science in the 17th century was largely entrusted to human perception. This meant that not being able to feel Earth moving would have been considered by many to be sufficient to falsify Galileo's theory. Feyerabend asserted that Galileo needed to break the existing scientific paradigm by presenting a new one and that he only succeeded in doing so by going beyond what rational argument allowed, drawing upon, for example, ad hoc hypotheses and emotional language.

Against Method was divisive. After publication, Feyerabend was called the “worst enemy of science” in Nature (1) and a “breath of fresh air” in Science (2). Many scientists thought that the book presented a type of philosophy that could be easily weaponized (3), not least because it provided a shield for nonexperts promoting unsubstantiated or malicious arguments. Some also worried that by weakening the boundaries of what counts as bona fide scientific research, science itself might come to be considered just another type of cultural practice.

But this is not quite what Feyerabend sought to inspire. Instead, he wanted to generate curiosity about what happens when we try to live within the rules of our current scientific paradigms. Is it always desirable, for example, to treat mathematical harmonies and statistical abstractions as the best reflections of reality? Consider empirical research on the state of American democracy, which largely relies on random sampling and quantitative metrics. By discounting narratives of police injustice as anecdotal, some have argued that political scientists long remained blind to the extent of racial authoritarianism (4).

Against Method hints that there must be a middle ground between one extreme, in which all views are equally valued, and the other, in which the limits of current scientific paradigms are never tested. This casts the role of today's scientist as more ambiguous than perhaps many would like, but such ambiguity could help scientists strengthen their relationship with the public. By loosening the framework within which scientists may operate, Feyerabend gives them permission to enter the political arena, a realm that many researchers have historically deemed outside their jurisdiction, but one in which their participation is sorely needed.
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Moving beyond the paradigm

• Joseph Swift
Against Method Paul Feyerabend New Left Books, 1975. 339 pp.

Science  13 Nov 2020:

Vol. 370, Issue 6518, pp. 771


So… What to make of this? Well, this may point us to improve the scientific method, but mainly preventing it from falling into the cesspool of the arcane and the stupid.

Some people, unscientifically went beyond this curtain and if they did not call science a fraud, it’s because sciences do not claim to be the answer of the lot, while the biggest fraud comes from beliefs and the religious dogmas.

Here comes another dude from a few years ago: Micah Amd… 

A Book Review on
Scientific Method: How Science Works, Fails to Work and Pretends to Work

John Staddon, (Routledge; Taylor & Francis Group, London), 2017, 158 pages, ISBN: 978-1138295353.

This book aims to disinfect egregious practices in social science by illustrating errors commonly made by many social scientists, including some with Nobel prizes. Professor John Staddon (JS) is one of those rare individuals held in equally high regard for his seminal works in experimental and theoretical Psychology (Staddon, 2001), and readers stand to greatly benefit from the litany of suggestions borne of JS's experience. One notable highlight is the author's long-standing criticism of static (time-independent) theorizing in Psychology, which generally requires some “executive control” system to initiate operations (cf., Bandura's self-system—p. 63). The author suggests that psychological scientists incorporate time as a constitutive element within their explanatory models, fortifying his thesis through examples of complex behavioral systems, such as a child's expectation of punishment following a display of aggression (p. 66), without reference to some intervening all-knowing homunculus. Professor JS is among the forerunners of the silent behavioristic renaissance (Staddon, 2014) and readers may be surprised to know how this once maligned science of “muscle twitches” and “glandular squirts” (Bower, 2014) evolved into a compelling alternative to buttress against the excessive “surplus meaning” underlying information processing approaches in Psychology (Amsel, 1992).

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Okay… Okay… F-OFF! Errors have been made, are made and will be made… Psychology is basically a study of human nature which in itself is based on deceit for survival. Thus even someone like Freud could be off course, and Freud knew most of the pitfalls of this craft. Understanding and analysing lies are most difficult because of their own definition. Psychology is a scientific oxymoron, but it has some value in trying to make us see the difference between what is and what we hope to fudge.. 

Meanwhile, if the scientific method was so poor, your plastic smartphone would be a lump of stone. Is this simple enough to understand? 

For example, we’ve already tackled the America’s Cup in an article with more than 7,000 reads by now…  So what has this to do with sciences? Well when sciences are brought into technologies, there is an understanding and manipulation beyond magic. Here, The next AC is about to be played out in Auckland Harbour, New Zealand. So far so good. The Cup will be decided between a challenger out of three boats (UK, US and Italy — they’re the rare syndicates that could afford the privilege) and a defender. Despite the American boat being called American Magic, these sailing boats have nothing magical about them. It’s about smart technologies being scientifically used to the max.
How can such sailing boats go at 50 knots in an 8 to 10 knots breeze? Ridiculous! Well, first we have to understand the concept of differential pumps and speed. That is to say we have to understand the conversion of speed into a different form of speed by using maximum possible energy conversion. 

If your sails are small like a dozen handkerchiefs, you will go at about two knots. Your energy conversion factor is too small. If your sails are about 400 square metres, you will capture a lot more wind energy. So, how do you convert this wind speed (energy) into a much bigger speed while using as much as possible of the energy from the wind? There is a compromise. Should there be no wind, you won’t move. Should there be too much wind, your boat is going to break into bits. In between these extremes there are windows of opportunity to use about 90 per cent of the wind energy to propel your boat faster than the wind. Here comes the mathematics, the sciences and the technologies. No voodoo.

Now, there has been a lot of improvements made to the technology of boats since I first sailed in my small soap box in the 1950s. Bigger and lighter boats have been made possible by the “invention of carbon fibre”. Carbon fibre is a scientific/technological advancement that also allows for the creation of massive wind turbines blades to generate electricity. New devices, including aircrafts’ wings, have also been invented to exploit the amazing lightness and strength of carbon fibres. Sails from AC75 are also designed like aircraft wings to create a “suction” differential.
For the past few years, the America’s cup has been fought between boats that, not only were made of carbon fibre, but were also using “foil” technology. Basically, the idea is to transfer the wind energy which occur in a flexible medium, air, into a different energy in another medium, water. This is not new. This has been used since the first sailing craft were made out of reeds, say 6,000 years ago. By being clever, humans soon observed that some of the resistance of the water can be transferred into a forward momentum if the shape of the boat is specific. If the boat offers no resistance in the water, it will drift sideways like a dead leaf… What’s new in the past few years, has been more efficient resistance of boat hulls by using foils (made of carbon fibre) to increase the amount of energy from the wind, into a better forward momentum, while reducing friction. It works…

At present, the AC75 boats are at the maximum specifics of wind energy conversion without breaking up. I won’t go into the details of the engineering and of the wind energy conversion here, though I could bring you a few equations and diagrams, etc… I build my first foil in the early 1960s as a fishing device. With a couple of ropes attached to its flaps, I could make it go deep or make it surface to trail a lure behind at the depth the fish would hopefully be. At one stage, for fun, we even placed a fake shark fin on top... It scared a few punters... I blame my cousin. He was the wicked one...


For the AC75, the foils are stunning. They are an engineering marvel combining the brute strength of the pedalling crew, mostly sailing novices with plenty of brawn to pump the giant foils into action. Like in most America’s Cup, the boats have been designed to suit the conditions. These AC75 would last 11.7 seconds or less in the Fremantle Doctor (30-35 knots with choppy seas), then break up. In Auckland Harbour, the prevailing wind is at a lovely 8 to 10 knots (except during storms), while the sea is mostly flat. One can be very adventurous with ideas. 
It’s like planet earth, it’s poised at a particular set of conditions: temperature, water and air supply which operate in a range of presently comfortable values. Change some of these parameters and we quickly run into trouble. The scientists can measure trouble before it happens. Like the engineers who devised the nearly 7 tons boats flying on top of giant foils, they can calculate the limits when the boat will capsize or break up. These “tipping points" can happen in a jiffy. And our planet’s global warming is tipping. No matter how you despise the scientific method, you better believe the scientists. The serious scientists are shitting themselves. And this has nothing to do with god’s religious dunnies.

Image at top: The number one New Zealand boat "flying above the water", now superseded with even faster number two. 

and now to the weather...

temperature rises

Heat extremes on Earth have reached a disturbing new level in recent years. The July 2020 temperatures soared across Siberia and reached a record-breaking 38°C inside the Arctic Circle, continuing a line of record heat events globally. “Event attribution” calculations, which are an endeavor to apportion blame for extreme events through quantitative modeling, suggest that some events would have been nearly impossible without human-induced global warming. This includes the recent Siberian summer and the 2018 heat wave in Japan, which killed more than a thousand people (1, 2). Rising heat is creating new challenges for humanity that will require new adaptation and protection measures. Smart implementation requires careful calculation of how further global temperature rises will translate into short-term regional heat events and how these will translate into impacts on human health and activities, food supply, infrastructure, and ecosystems.

These enhanced heat extremes are the result of slightly more than 1°C of global-mean anthropogenic warming since the mid-19th century. The world has set a goal under the Paris Agreement to keep global-mean anthropogenic warming below 2°C in the future, or 1.5°C if possible. Current national commitments, however, could well permit increases of up to 4°C or so by the end of this century, with further increases thereafter (3). Even the ambitious Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 scenario considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013 leaves only a 50% chance of remaining below 2.4°C by 2090, given the latest estimates of climate sensitivity (4). Limiting carbon dioxide to meet the 2°C target will therefore require some combination of substantially stricter emissions-reduction commitments and policies or carbon dioxide removal efforts, each presenting daunting sociopolitical, economic, and technological challenges.

A common saying is that people do not feel the average temperature. However, climate model projections do indicate that in most regions, peak temperatures (see the figure) roughly track the annual mean in the same location (5). In some regions such as Western Europe, extremes are predicted to increase faster than the mean owing to greater variability. Moreover, the mean increases vary around the globe; one reason is that the upwelling of cold water from the deep oceans will cause Southern Hemisphere temperatures to lag behind those in the Northern Hemisphere for decades or centuries. Also, land regions generally warm more than oceans, a result of the difference in background humidity (6).

Although early research focused on maximum temperatures, additional factors have come to the fore. Humidity is crucial to heat stress, for example, because it inhibits evaporative cooling. Humidity is increasing globally along with temperature. Regional variations in these variables tend to compensate, so that areas like Western Europe and South America that become drier also warm more (7). Thus, heat stress will increase relatively more uniformly and predictably, whereas moisture stresses will change more variably, as some regions warm and dry substantially. Animals, including humans, and plants can be subject to either stress independently. Anthropogenic warming has roughly tripled the size of the human population that experiences dangerous humid heat annually (8), and this heat is already approaching the limits of human tolerance in a few locations (9). Humidity increases not only thermal stress outdoors but also the overall energy requirements of cooling systems, which already account for a large fraction of total power consumption in humid climates where air conditioning has become widespread (10).

Another factor to consider is the duration of heat events. More frequent or longer heat events tend to have greater impacts on human health (11), and nighttime temperatures are more strongly correlated to heat-related mortality than daytime ones. These observations show that adequate physiological recovery from heat exposure is important. Wind systems, such as the mid-latitude jet streams and associated weather systems, are expected to slow in a warmer climate, potentially causing longer lasting periods of extreme weather. However, multiple factors are at work such that the net change remains unclear (12).

Because of the “urban heat island” effect, temperatures are higher in urban areas than in surrounding natural areas (13). The relative lack of vegetation means that incoming solar energy goes into heating surfaces rather than canopies aloft, and less goes into evaporating water vapor. Human-made surfaces and urban canyons also retain heat better into the night. In addition, the energy used in cities generates heat, which is negligible on a global scale but often important in urban areas. Urban heat islands are not typically included in climate calculations and are likely to worsen anywhere that urbanizes further, adding to the warming delivered by the climate system.

Although predicting the above factors is challenging enough, quantifying their impacts is even harder. Quantitative models of heat-affected natural and human systems, if used at all, are less advanced relative to the complexity involved than are weather and climate models. Meanwhile, climate change is creating conditions that lie outside the range of past experiences, limiting the reliability of empirical studies. Current impact models diverge substantially in the predicted impacts of climate changes (14) and almost surely suffer from systematic biases (15). Diverse impacts generally depend on the different aspects of heat events, devaluing any one-size-fits-all heat measure. We need to more rigorously quantify the links between meteorological forecasts and practical consequences.



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Adapting to the challenges of warming

Steven C. Sherwood

Science  13 Nov 2020:


Vol. 370, Issue 6518, pp. 782-783



The CCC (complex carbon cycle)...

The CCC (complex carbon cycle).

Rather than burn carbon (coal, gas and petroleum) for energy, carbon can be used in sequestered ways that can be useful, hopefully without destroying the future of the planet. At this stage, scientific research has to crunch numbers on the creation of stable carbon polymers, such as “plastics” and see how far this format of using carbon can also be mechanically (as well as chemically) harmful to life-forms — such as plastic pollution

The main point is to know how much carbon derivatives we can extract and manufacture without endangering nature — and this includes “how many of us” (POPULATION EQUATION). Much of human activities are still in the bronze age (including copper) and the iron age, from cottage to massive industrial scales to which we have added chemical industries which have led to the inventions of electric and electronic ventures. Meanwhile our philosophical understandings have been stagnating in Voodoo religious beliefs and ignorance of elementary constructs. 

The invention of semi-conductors has revolutionised our communications in speed of transmission, but rarely improved our intellectual value. We still waddle in soap opera fiction to satisfy our emotional basic reactivity. This is why we’re still farting around with poor ideas that make Aristotle look like a 21st century genius. Should we blame the Neanderthal in us for our poor philosophical systems such as our democracies which tend to favour the average value of the lowest denominators by trying to fit too many contradictions and conflictions rather than indulge the elite thinkers — some of whom to say the least are as poor on the structural sharing and more in favour of using the system to get richer (or more powerful). At this level, engineers of all kinds are far more clever than our politicians. Scientists have the most important role to play to crunch the tipping points numbers, which as intelligent human beings can themselves create by indulging in one manipulation too many. Since the “industrial revolution” we have been at a critical flux, because we have discovered we are "consuming” more stuff than what the planet can afford. The religious thinking is totally blind to this problem.

We know of the highly complex photosynthesis process of plants which recycle carbon dioxide (CO2) into oxygen and mostly cellulose (wood). This process is estimated at about 6 times the daily energy produced by human activities. Yet we know that the plants natural process is now unable to absorb some of the excess CO2 produced by such human activities, leading to a rise in CO2 and methane in the atmosphere. The extra CO2 in the atmosphere is the main generator of global warming. We know. Ignorance or doubt isn’t an excuse.

Humans have developed chemical processes that use fossil carbon in various ways to create “useful” products, mostly “plastics”, paints and glues. At one stage in the 1960s, Boron was thought to be a possible replacement for carbon in products such as rocket fuels, but the fuel thus created, though more powerful, was far too unstable.

Carbon is a simple element that is essential for life. It binds to other elements to form simple molecules such as carbon dioxide, binds to itself to form “carbon fibres” — or forms complex molecules such as Polyacrylonitrile (PAN), PAH and DNA. We have often discussed DNA on this site.

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are persistent organic compounds. These chemicals come from both natural and man-made sources. PAHs are naturally released in the environment from wildfires, volcanic eruptions, and degradation of biological materials contained in various sediments and fossil fuels (CDC/ATSDR, 1995; White and Lee, 1980)

Man-made sources of PAHs in the environment include the incomplete burning of organic materials (e.g., coal, oil, gas, wood, garbage); vehicle exhaust; asphalt; coal-tar and coal-tar based sealcoats; creosote; and cigarette and tobacco smoke (CDC/ATSDR, 1995; CDC, 2009; EPA, 2009; National Research Council, 2009). Many PAHs are of concern because of their harmful impacts on humans and the environment. They are persistent organic compounds; several PAHs are known or probable human carcinogens and [chemically] toxic to aquatic life (Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), 2014; Scoggins, McClintock, Gosselink, and Bryer, 2007). 

The chemistry of our life (DNA):

The human body is about 60% water (H2O) per weight. The amount of carbon is about 18%...

Oxygen (65%) and hydrogen (10%) are predominantly found in water, which makes up about 60 percent of the body by weight. It's practically impossible to imagine life without water. Carbon (18%) is synonymous with life. Its central role is due to the fact that it has four bonding sites that allow for the building of long, complex chains of molecules. Moreover, carbon bonds can be formed and broken with a modest amount of energy, allowing for the dynamic organic chemistry that goes on in our cells

Yet the CO2 bond is far more difficult to break up. 

Nitrogen (3%) is found in many organic molecules, including the amino acids that make up proteins, and the nucleic acids that make up DNA. Calcium (1.5%) is the most common mineral in the human body — nearly all of it found in bones and teeth. Ironically, calcium's most important role is in bodily functions, such as muscle contraction and protein regulation. In fact, the body will actually pull calcium from bones (causing problems like osteoporosis) if there's not enough of the element in a person's diet. Phosphorus (1%) is found predominantly in bone but also in the molecule ATPwhich provides energy in cells for driving chemical reactions. Potassium (0.25%) is an important electrolyte (meaning it carries a charge in solution). It helps regulate the heartbeat and is vital for electrical signalling in nerves. Sulfur (0.25%) is found in two amino acids that are important for giving proteins their shape. Sodium (0.15%) is another electrolyte that is vital for electrical signalling in nerves. It also regulates the amount of water in the body. Chlorine (0.15%) is usually found in the body as a negative ion, called chloride. This electrolyte is important for maintaining a normal balance of fluids. Magnesium (0.05%) plays an important role in the structure of the skeleton and muscles. It also is necessary in more than 300 essential metabolic reactions. Iron (0.006%) is a key element in the metabolism of almost all living organisms. It is also found in haemoglobin, which is the oxygen carrier in red blood cells. Half of women don't get enough iron in their diet. Fluorine (0.0037%) is found in teeth and bones. Outside of preventing tooth decay, it does not appear to have any importance to bodily health. Zinc (0.0032%) is an essential trace element for all forms of life. Several proteins contain structures called "zinc fingers" help to regulate genes. Zinc deficiency has been known to lead to dwarfism in developing countries. Copper (0.0001%) is important as an electron donor in various biological reactions. Without enough copper, iron won't work properly in the body. Iodine (0.000016%) is required for making of thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolic rate and other cellular functions. Iodine deficiency, which can lead to goiter and brain damage, is an important health problem throughout much of the world. Selenium (0.000019%) is essential for certain enzymes, including several anti-oxidants. Unlike animals, plants do not appear to require selenium for survival, but they do absorb it, so there are several cases of selenium poisoning from eating plants grown in selenium-rich soils. Chromium (0.0000024%) helps regulate sugar levels by interacting with insulin, but the exact mechanism is still not completely understood. Manganese (0.000017%) is essential for certain enzymes, in particular those that protect mitochondria — the place where usable energy is generated inside cells — from dangerous oxidants. Molybdenum (0.000013%) is essential to virtually all life forms. In humans, it is important for transforming sulfur into a usable form. In nitrogen-fixing bacteria, it is important for transforming nitrogen into a usable form. Cobalt (0.0000021%) is contained in vitamin B12, which is important in protein formation and DNA regulation.


The Carbon Fibre process
The process of making carbon fibres is “a trade secret”. That is to say that most industrial makers will explain how the fibres are made but the precise parameters of heat, chemical transfers and mechanical processes are closely guarded (not patented). Thus there will be various grade of carbon composite from Graphene (, which is an atom-thin carbon “film” to various commercially available carbon fibre “styles" used in brooms, vacuum cleaner brushes, street cleaning truck brushes and of course material to build aircrafts and boats.

It is said that carbon fibre is four times stronger than steel and about five times lighter. Say, a square metre 6 mm thick steel sheet weighs about 47.4 kg. The equivalent sheet of aluminium weighs 16.2 kg. An equivalent carbon fibre sheet weighs 9.3 kg.

The raw material used to make carbon fibre is called the precursor. About 90% of the carbon fibres produced are made from polyacrylonitrile (PAN). The remaining 10% are made from rayon or petroleum pitch (based on PAHs). All of these materials are organic polymers, characterised by long strings of molecules bound together by carbon atoms. The exact composition of each precursor varies from one company to another and is generally a trade secret.

During the manufacturing process, a variety of gases and liquids are used. Some of these materials are designed to react with the fibre to achieve a specific effect. Other materials are designed not to react or to prevent certain reactions with the fibre. The exact compositions of many of these process materials are proprietary.

The process for making carbon fibres is part chemical and part mechanical. The precursor is drawn into long strands or fibres and then heated to a very high temperature without allowing it to come in contact with oxygen. Without oxygen, the fibre cannot burn. Instead, the high temperature causes the atoms in the fibre to vibrate violently until most of the non-carbon atoms are expelled. This process is called carbonisation and leaves a fibre composed of long, tightly interlocked chains of carbon atoms with only a few non-carbon atoms remaining.

Further treatments are made to stabilise the surface and make it sticky to various other products such as resin — otherwise it could delaminate readily. Thus the choice of carbon fibre final “style” (gritty/smooth surface) is paramount for the intended usage. 

What is Polyacrylonitrile?

Polyacrylonitrile (PAN), also known as polyvinyl cyanide and Creslan 61, is a synthetic, semicrystalline organic polymer resin, with the linear formula (C3H3N)n. Though it is thermoplastic, it does not melt under normal conditions. It degrades before melting. It melts above 300 °C if the heating rates are 50 degrees per minute or above.[2] Almost all PAN resins are copolymers made from mixtures of monomers with acrylonitrile as the main monomer. 

It is a versatile polymer used to produce large variety of products including ultra filtration membranes, hollow fibers for reverse osmosis, fibers for textiles, oxidized PAN fibers. 

Polyacrylonitrile was first synthesized in 1930 by Hans Fikentscher and Claus Heuck in the Ludwigshafen works of the German chemical conglomerate IG Farben.[3] However, as PAN is non-fusible, and did not dissolve in any of the industrial solvents being used at the time, further research into the material was halted.[4] In 1931, Herbert Rein, head of polymer fiber chemistry at the Bitterfeld plant of IG Farben, obtained a sample of PAN while visiting the Ludwigshafen works.[5] He found that pyridinium benzylchloride, an ionic liquid, would dissolve PAN.[6] He spun the first fibers based on PAN in 1938, using aqueous solutions of quaternary ammonium sodium thiocyanate and aluminium perchlorate for the production process and considered other solvents including DMF. However, commercial introduction was delayed due to the wartime stresses on infrastructure, inability to melt the polymer without degradation, and solvents to allow solution processing were not known yet.[7][8] The first mass production run of PAN fiber was in 1946 by American chemical conglomerate DuPont. The German intellectual property had been stolen in Operation Paperclip. The product, branded as Orlon, was based on a patent filed exactly seven days after a nearly identical German claim.

PAN fibers are the chemical precursor of very high-quality carbon fiber. PAN is first thermally oxidized in air at 230 °C to form an oxidized PAN fiber and then carbonized above 1000 °C in inert atmosphere to make carbon fibers found in a variety of both high-tech and common daily applications such as civil and military aircraft primary and secondary structures, missiles, solid propellant rocket motors, pressure vessels, fishing rods, tennis rackets and bicycle frames. It is a component repeat unit in several important copolymers, such as styrene-acrylonitrile (SAN) and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic.

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So, we now know parts of the complex carbon cycle, in which we can make amazing toys such as the AC75 (the America’s Cup sail boats) and tools such as the massive wind turbines. Light weight versus strength ratio is the key to success. Capturing the natural wind to create motion and electricity is part of the future. Capturing the sunlight energy to produce heat and electricity is also part of this future. Here COAL has a role to play as CARBON, not as being burned. Carbon, silicon and lithium are the immediate elements we know of, to reduce our burning of fossil fuels to nil. WE HAVE TO STOP BURNING FOSSIL FUELS. 

Next come the perovskites (

Perovskites are a class of materials that share a similar structure, which display a myriad of exciting properties like superconductivity, magnetoresistance and more. These easily synthesized materials are considered the future of solar cells, as their distinctive structure makes them perfect for enabling low-cost, efficient photovoltaics. They are also predicted to play a role in next-gen electric vehicle batteries, sensors, lasers and much more.

At this stage Perovskites are still a work in progress.

coal is the future...


Coal is near pure carbon. The purest form of carbon is diamond. Carbon fibre is the next best thing. Why not start to develop industries in Australia that are carbon-based without burning it? Say find ways to turn coal into cheap strong light material that can be used in buildings structures allied with wood, glass and other elegant stuff like stainless steel? Can coal dust be allied with cement, boron and ceramics to make special light fireproof bricks for buildings in bush fire-prone areas? It’s time to become clever about carbon and stop burning it. We know we can provide energy cheaper than “coal and gas" power stations, by using renewables. Australia has also good supplies of Lithium. So what do we do with our large supply of coal, without burning it?

We need to get universities and the CSIRO on the case and break the taboo of “patents” and such via clever designs. The future of this planet could rely on humans sharing carbon technology, not hoarding it for profit — nor burning it. Otherwise we’ll burn ourselves into a sad corner.

And where else but to exploit/develop the new coal technologies than at the old Rozelle Power Station? As a beacon of power in the early 1900s, this amazing building in which coal used to be burned, has to be revived into the avant-garde of thinking about carbon. Clean up? Piece of cake if the intent of doing things properly is there. Beyond this, the chemical industrial processes can be sealed as to have zero emissions of toxic stuff, contrary to the days when I was working in factories, where dust, heat, acids and radioactivity were our companions.

We need clever politicians (is there such thing out there? Too many dud ones...), clever scientists (plenty of them working in bars and restaurants) and engineers (not enough of them in this country). And yes, this could be a dream pipe (I mean a pipe-dream), but at least we have to give it a go, in the country where we can give it a go. And succeed.

Put your thinking cap on and stop burning coal… Turn coal into more useful stuff. Organise Prizes for the best architecture, the best whatever that can use carbon blocks, fibres and derivatives. I can visualise such ideas (I could develop them into the real world but I'm getting too old thus this world is becoming not mine anymore). The new young generations should swiftly adapt to this thinking. It’s their privilege to do so and share.

Now is the time. Stop burning fossil fuels. Coal is the future, not CO2....

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chasing the sun...

Meanwhile from Switzerland: