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Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Australian's War on Science

From July, 2006, to January, 2013, Australian blogger, Tim Lambert posted 81 articles in a series he named, "The Australian's War on Science".  The name commemorates the cherry picked, distorted and at time egregiously false reporting of science, especially climate science in The Australian newspaper.  This biased, and often factually incorrect attack on climate science by the Australian was also noted by Robert Manne in his Quarterly Essay on the Murdoch press.  As a fairly long term reader of The Australian, I have notice the shocking standards of reporting on climate science in The Australian independently.

Being fair, the standards of reporting have improved slightly under the current environment editor, but not much.  And the Australian still offers space on its opinion pages to those whose knowledge and understanding of climate science has all the virtue of Flat Eartherism.  
If the quality of their reporting of Climate Science is any indication, The Australian fails abysmally to uphold journalistic integrity, sacrificing fair reporting in favour of pushing a political line against any effective policy to tackle climate change.  Curiously, their tactics in this respect change.  When the ALP was proposing an emissions trading scheme, they ran frequent commentaries arguing against any climate policy, or in favour of a carbon tax.  When the ALP proposed a carbon tax, suddenly emissions trading schemes were the flavour of the month.  The Australian's policy on climate policy appears to be to weakly support any policy not currently on offer, and to vehemently oppose any policy currently being proposed or enacted within Australia.

Today (March 3rd, 2017) The Australian ran an article which neatly illustrates the quality of their science reporting.  Because it is unrelated to climate science, even died in the wool 'skeptics' should have not difficulty in recognizing that this article is not up to the standards that should be expected of a newspaper that lauds itself as Australia's finest.

The article ("Isaac Newton's Law Sunk by Time Crystals") is about the recent synthesis of atomic structures that regularly return to the same state.  That is, they repeat themselves in time just as regular crystals repeat themselves in space.

In the article, the author states:
"Atoms in a time crystal never settle down into what is known as thermal equilibrium, a state in which they will all have the same amount of heat.  Rather, they pulse to a regular beat without the need for any external energy source.  

This makes them atomic scale versions of perpetual motion machines - mythical gadgets that break two of the physical world's cardinal rules:  Newtons first and second law of thermodynamics, which state that energy cannot be created from nothing, and that energetic things naturally drift into a state of 'entropy' or disorder."

The glaring error that will strike everyone with any knowledge of science is that Newton did not discover the Laws of Thermodynamics.  Indeed, he is notorious for his dispute with Leibniz, who claimed that 'Vis Visa' (an early formulation, equivalent to twice the kinetic energy of a system) was conserved.  Newton himself claimed that it was not  Leibniz' 'Vis Visa' that was conserved, but momentum.

Newton was dead 98 years when the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (curiously the first law of thermodynamics discovered) was discovered by Carnot in 1824.  The first law was established in the 36 years after that by Rudolf Clausius and William Thomson (Lord Kelvin).

For those who do not know anything of the history of science, I cannot stress enough how completely incompetent this error is.

Nor does it end there.  Time crystals do not violate  the first law of thermodynamics (conservation of energy), or even the second, which states merely that entropy will not decrease - not that it will increase.

How can a paper capable of this level of incompetence in reporting pretend to be capable of accurately reporting a science as subtle and complex as climate science?  

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