The DDP Conference

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

I had the great pleasure of being invited to give a presentation at the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) conference this weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a very interesting and professionally run conference, and I offer my thanks to Dr. Jane Orient knox co2 meterfor her invitation, and to her team for the doing endless logistic work that such a conference entails in a most efficient and nearly invisible manner.

The conference featured a host of fascinating speakers, and the city itself was most pleasant and interesting. I came with a stack of Powerpoint slides and a presentation on climate science. But then I thought “Wait a minute, these are doctors, not climate scientists”, and I ended up putting them aside and speaking for an hour with the main theme being the ancient medical admonition, “First do no harm”.

One of the first people I met carried around a portable CO2 meter. We were indoors at the reception dinner in a large banquet hall, and here is the CO2 concentration:

knox co2 meter

About 800 ppmv … it gave me a better understanding of why ground level CO2 is not necessarily a good measure of the background levels.

One of the best parts for me of such conferences is that I get a chance to meet my heroes. When I began studying climate science I soon identified the scientists that I thought were doing interesting and outstanding work … but I never imagined that I would meet them, much less get a chance to speak at a conference with them. Dr. Fred Singer, the dean of skeptics, was at the conference, and paid me the compliment of quoting some of my scientific results in his speech. I’ve met him several times before, he’ll be 90 this year, still sharp, still funny. I also got a chance to share a meal with Dr. Art Robinson, the originator of the Oregon Petition. He turns out to be a most interesting man, a PhD biochemist who is doing fascinating research on the diagnosis of the state of a persons health by using mass spectrometry to analyze the trace molecules in their urine. He was most complimentary, and said that my presentation was “absolutely perfect”. I felt quite honored.

It was a very eclectic collection of speakers, including a man whose work is the identification of the various types of ebola viruses, and the kinds of precautions necessary for dealing with the disease. He showed slides of him in Africa in a full moon suit, and spoke of how the hospitals often deal with the ebola patients without even gloves, because the hospitals are too poor to buy them and their stocks have run out in the current medical emergency. Given the recent and continuing ebola outbreak in Africa, it was most timely.

And unlike the ICCC9 conference where I spoke a few weeks ago and the talks were limited to twelve minutes (and unavoidably so given the number of noted speakers), we each got an hour to talk about our subject, which was a great boon.

I ended up speaking on how increases in the cost of energy for any reason are the most regressive tax imaginable. If you make very little money, for example, you pay no income tax. But the poorer you are, the larger a percentage of your expenses goes to energy costs (primarily heating, cooling, and transportation), and there is no exemption for those at the bottom of the heap. My message was, if you think CO2 is a problem, fine, but when you fight it first do no harm … and while increasing the price of energy is an inconvenience for many people, for the poorest of the poor it can mean impoverishment, sickness and death. So fight CO2 if you must, but if you increase energy prices to do it, you are actively harming the poor. I’ve requested the video of the speech, I’ll post it up on youtube when I get it. My speech stole shamelessly from my writings, and it’s nothing I haven’t said before, but it was the first time I’d put it into a one-hour speech. It was very well received.

In between sessions, I wandered around downtown Knoxville. It’s an old city, with a marvelous “Market Square”. Ironically, the huge building across the street is the offices of the TVA, the “Tennessee Valley Authority” which did so much to relieve poverty in the area by providing cheap electricity for the local people. The TVA building, fittingly, has a long lovely fountain symbolic of the renewable hydropower that the Authority provides …

tva fountain 1tva fountain 2

There is also a display of old machinery in the foyer of the TVA building which you can see from outside. It’s all from the time when such machines were works of art. One that caught my eye was a “flyball governor”, first invented by James Watt of steam engine fame. As someone who holds that the climate is regulated not by feedback but by a governor system, it was of great interest, and is a stunning example of the genre:

tva flyball

When the pulley-driven wheel turns, the vertical shaft with the four steel balls (one unseen behind) suspended on flexible spring steel blades spins as well, and the balls are driven outwards by centripetal centrifugal force. This pulls the upper brass ring downwards against the adjustable tension of the spring at the upper right, and controls a valve which regulates the amount of energy entering the system … a most elegant version of an ancient design.

The Market Center is the showpiece and heart of the city. It’s a long open space, and every time I went there it was full of people and something was going on—jugglers, Shakespeare plays in an outdoor theatre …

knox shakespeare

.. a magician, people break dancing, newspaper sellers, a variety of street musicians, it went on and on. Outdoor cafes ring the Market Square, and the people of Knoxville have turned the outdoor cafe into an art form … now that’s outdoor eating in comfort.

knox cafe

There is only one statue in the square, and contrary to my expectation when I saw it from a distance, that it would be something honoring Civil War heroes, to my surprise it honors heroes of an entirely different kind:

knox suffrage

One of the inscriptions on the pedestal was particularly moving …

knox suffrage 3

” … the monstrous injustice of including educated women with felons and lunatics as persons denied the right of suffrage”, indeed. We forget the cost it took to purchase the rights and freedoms we take for granted.

Knowing that if you build a fountain kids will want to play in it, the Market Square also has a fountain specifically designed for kids, with benches nearby for the parents to watch the joy …

knox kids play fountain

There is a museum on the corner of the square, featuring a complete reproduction of an apothecary shop, with reminders of how far medicine has advanced in the last 150 years.

knox magnetic oil

The maids in the hotel who came in to clean my room were great. One was a very large black woman. When I told her I was there to give a speech, she said proudly “I just gave my very first speech myself”. I asked for the details, and she said it was at the drug rehab center where she used to live. I asked her what she’d told them. She said “I told them you can’t just sit around for the rest of your lives drawing government money and using it to buy drugs. You have to get up and stand up and make something out of your lives” … words to live by. She said the management of the rehab center wanted her to go speak to other groups, and I applauded her resolution to do so.

The next day another maid told me she’d been upset when she saw the word “Climate” on some paperwork in another guest’s room, she was all upset about the idea of a climate conference … but then she read a bit more and realized it was skeptics, not alarmists, and after that everything was fine again. So I guess the word is getting out.

One of the best parts of the conference was after it was all over. Everyone was eating dinner, when a loud buzzing went off all around the room, including on my hip. I looked at my phone … tornado alert, take shelter now. I’ve never lived in tornado country, so I followed the example of the locals in the hotel who did … well … nothing. It started pouring down rain, a torrential downpour, lots of wind. When that cleared, I went outside to look for the tornado. I walked up on the hill behind the hotel to get a good view. It’s part of a long ridge, and a sign said that during the war the Union troops (locally called “Federal troops”, I noted) erected ten forts with batteries of artillery during the siege of the town. I could see why, it overlooks the whole city. The sky was chaotic …

knox chaotic sky

… but no sign of a tornado. As soon as I got back to the hotel, the rain and wind started up again, and in a half an hour it was dark, and the sky was full of lightning. I watched the storm from my 11th floor hotel window, I could see the window glass flexing in and out with the force of the gusts. And the lightning was everywhere, cloud to cloud, cloud to ground …

knox chaotic sky 2

From the news tonight:

Tornadoes were also reported in Tennessee and West Virginia Sunday afternoon and evening. Just north of Knoxville, Tenn., near the Kentucky border, the Claiborne County emergency manager reported that 10 homes had been “completely destroyed.”

A most fitting end to a most diverse and interesting conference. Lightning and wind have picked up again as I write this, here’s the radar from my phone. Knoxville is the blue ball in the middle, the storm is moving southwards, and the lighting is getting amazing again.

knox radar

Anyhow, that was my weekend. My thanks again to the DDP for putting on a good show. After three hours sleep I’ll fly out tomorrow at 4:35 AM, home for one day to see the good lady, and then off again Wednesday to Vancouver Island, where I’m signed on as first mate on a fishing boat delivery to southern Oregon.

My best to all, keep up the struggle, I’ll post when and as I can.

w.

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149 thoughts on “The DDP Conference

  1. An excellent write-up as usual, Willis, thanks. While you were doing your speech, I was traveling in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia, looking at plant species suited to landscaping and horticulture. Very cold nights around 1 or 2C, led to the first day in years where I had to keep my hoodie on all day. The vegetation was in fantastic condition, what with all the extra CO2 and that. The area should be named Great Sandy Gardens, is part of the untapped, gas rich, Canning Basin.

  2. Good my friend, I have a picture of my son sitting between two stock men (farmers) outside our pub with two tanks of CO2 behind them. Taken about 30 years ago. Labelled Beer. CO2 is used to add to beer in a keg before it is tapped. If they wanted to lower the CO2 in Oz, the Greens would become immediately unpopular and most probably ….. dunked in a stream or tar and feathered. One had to turn off the CO2 every night or you would end up with froth the next day.
    LOL. Have a good time on the fishing boat.

  3. I like the approach of your talk.
    First do no harm.
    Make sure any cure is no worse than the disease — if there is a disease.

    EPA fictions about lives saved and enhanced in support of their regulations will probably be received well by doctors, too. They get enough of that in FDA cancer and toxicity studies. Same chapter and verse, different singers.

  4. Thanks Willis. Agree with your cost of energy topic. Good choice too.
    —————-
    I’ve seen many storms as you describe, and others too. I was with a group working on trails a few years ago and we camped for a week in a cirque; water, and snow to keep food cold, came with the site. A storm set up over us and the lightning hit the ridges above us. The sound bounced around the rocky amphitheatre and then went down slope and faded in the distant forested valley. The near-constant noise and lightning lasted about 30 minutes. A grand and spectacular show!

  5. I’ve driven through a dangerous thunderstorm, I couldn’t stop, but as there was lightening crashing all around us, my friend said ‘Stop under a tree’. No way. Then we emerged in sunshine, and there was hail banked up along the road. I’ve never been so frightened in my life!

  6. I have found in Australia, that the change of seasons seems to herald worse storms. Has anyone else noticed this?

  7. It has been forty years since I visited Knoxville. Its great to hear the square is even better. Yeah. As for the DDP, it is strong group with great conferences. It has been a decade since I had my turn. I am very glad to hear they are continuing the battle. As for Dr. Singer, he is my ultimate climate skeptic hero and is wonderful that he is still sharp and fighting the battle at 90. And, you Willis; you have style and great brain power. That is a neat combination. Thanks for the update.

  8. Willis,
    Great report, thanks.
    Was a little confused on your comment about TVA, here is a link to their 2012 fuel mix: http://www.tva.com/power/nuclear/pdf/Nuclear_White_Paper.pdf

    Hydro was 10%, with coal and nuclear handling the majority of the load.

    Also, 800PPM in a banquet hall is very acceptable. Indoor CO2 levels have little correlation to ambient levels, being controlled by the HVAC system.
    I too, carry a CO2 meter everywhere I go, it’s part of my toolkit for analyzing building operations.
    I have been in 3 energy conservation seminars recently where the conference rooms were above 1,200PPM. Their HVAC systems had airside economizers and should have been pulling 100% OSA into the building for free cooling. While 1,200 is above normal acceptable limits, it is not dangerous. However, with full stomachs and bad speakers, it can still put you to sleep…

  9. A bit off topic, congrats Willis anyway. But the USA embraces different climate zones, from Alpine to subtropical and desert. Oh and Alaska too of course. The larger the land mass, you will get this anyway. Look at Australia. Most of our land mass is thought to be desert. Then we have a monsoon region up North. Usually if you see the map, the only green parts are within 50 miles of the ocean. The precipitation does reduce inland in areas till we get to the red centre. We are lucky on the Northern Tablelands, we are higher up than the NW plains. We do get four seasons too. Anyway, enjoy your trip. I’ve only stopped in America, transit, New York, San Fran and Hawaii, but you being Northern Hemisphere, we sometimes get a view of what our winters might be too.

  10. I loved Hawaii. But the immigration guard was very rude to us in New York. My 15 month old ran under the rail and he said sternly. “Retrieve your kid, hasn’t been cleared yet.” Likely terrorist eh? That was in 1965.

  11. I spent the better part of ten years of my life laboring in that “…huge building across the street” from the Knoxville Mall (TVA’s “Twin Towers”). I made my bones over some ten years in that building as an electrical engineer designing hydro, pumped storage, fossil-fired and nuclear power generating plants. It’s a small world after all.

  12. “When the pulley-driven wheel turns, the vertical shaft with the four steel balls (one unseen behind) suspended on flexible spring steel blades spins as well, and the balls are driven outwards by centripetal force. This pulls the upper brass ring downwards against the adjustable tension of the spring at the upper right, and controls a valve which regulates the amount of energy entering the system … a most elegant version of an ancient design.”

    rpm of engine proportional to energy input.
    F = m w^2 r
    displacement of brass ring proportion to force
    energy input (negatively) proportional to postisiton of brass ring.

    A classic case of negative feedback control.

    With the exception of the square law in the centripetal most of it linear. The square law will mean postitive excursions are more tightly controlled than negative ones.

    When the boiler pressure is higher the control variable ( rpm ) will stabalise at a slightly higher value in order to effect a change in the control value. This is also a typical feature of feedback control system.

    This is something that I pointed out when you intitial wrote about you “governor” hypthesis.

    “As someone who holds that the climate is regulated not by feedback but by a governor system, it was of great interest.”

    A governor is a feedback controller, what is the distinction that you are trying to make?

  13. As someone who holds that the climate is regulated not by feedback but by a governor system

    A governor (like Watts’) IS a feedback system. You might want to investigate control theory as the Watt governor is often given as an example of a feedback system. Dam EE thinking anyway, eh?

    I did some work at the Robert Shaw plant in Knoxville. Designing self tuning PID controllers.

  14. Greg Goodman says:
    July 27, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    This is something that I pointed out when you intitial wrote about you “governor” hypthesis.

    “As someone who holds that the climate is regulated not by feedback but by a governor system, it was of great interest.”

    A governor is a feedback controller, what is the distinction that you are trying to make?

    Actually, you make the distinction quite neatly. A governor is not feedback. It is a system which controls the amount of feedback, which can be either positive or negative as needed … or in your words, a governor is not feedback, it is a feedback controller

    Thanks,

    w.

  15. Ah wow, co-incidence or what= I’ve just helped myself to a new toy in the shape of a ‘handheld’ CO2 meter.
    One thing you quickly learn is that the very last thing you do with one is to actually ‘hold it in your hand’. Unless you’ve got arms at least 10ft long.
    Simply holding it in front of you and whispering the words “testing testing 123′, as you might do with a microphone, will send it off the scale and it’ll need at least 5 minutes (all on its lonesome) and in a stiff breeze to re-stabilize its reading.
    If possible, attach it to your lappy, walk well away and let the machine take the readings.

  16. “But the poorer you are, the larger a percentage of your expenses goes to energy costs (primarily heating, cooling, and transportation)”

    And more fundamentally, artificial light … which allows an extension of the productive day.

  17. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/06/01/obamas-big-epa-announcement-tomorrow-translates-directly-to-higher-electricity-prices/#comment-1652143

    “The President thinks his plan will “boost the economy by $43 billion to $74 billion” – he’s living in a fantasy world.”
    – TRUE

    My American friends – I am deeply sorry for your misfortune.

    No good can come when idiot politicians fool with energy policy.

    Like atmospheric CO2, cheap abundant energy is essential for life.

  18. climatereason:

    At July 28, 2014 at 12:55 am you rightly say the Newcomen predates the steam engine.

    However, the Newcomen engine was not a steam engine. It was an air-pressure engine which condensed steam to generate partial vacuum in its large, vertical cylinder.

    Steam was fed into the cylinder below the piston, and cold water was then added below the piston. The cold water cooled the steam which condensed to water. The condensed water has about a thousandth of the volume of the steam from which it condensed and, therefore, a partial vacuum was obtained in the cylinder beneath the piston. Air pressure pushed the piston down to equalise pressure above and below the piston.

    The piston was connected to a rocker beam and a ‘balance box’ which swung like a pendulum. So, when the piston reached the end of its down-stroke it was pulled back up by the swing of the ‘balance box’.

    The cylinder was emptied of water and filled with steam during the piston’s up-stroke so the cycle was repeated.

    But this is not a steam engine which uses the power of high pressure steam. It was an air engine which condensed steam to enable use of air pressure.

    Materials capable of being used as pressure vessels were needed before piston-driven steam engines were possible.

    However, nearly two thousand years ago Hero of Alexandria devised and built a steam engine which was used to ‘magically’ operate a temple door. A modern version of his ‘aeolipile’ is shown and explained e.g. here. His steam engine is also the earliest known steam turbine and the earliest known jet engine.

    Richard

  19. MSimon: “I did some work at the Robert Shaw plant in Knoxville. Designing self tuning PID controllers.”

    It’s not my idea but the idea of a PID controller may be more applicable to tropical climate than a simple feedback. I did a series of plots showing how tropical climate manages not only to stabalise temperature but also maintain the degree.day produce ( P in PID ).

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=312

  20. The next day another maid told me she’d been upset when she saw the word “Climate” on some paperwork in another guest’s room, she was all upset about the idea of a climate conference … but then she read a bit more and realized it was skeptics, not alarmists, and after that everything was fine again.

    I find it sad that any gathering to discuss any field of science should be considered upsetting.

  21. Maybe somebody should bring those carbon dioxde meters to ipcc meetings to give the delegates real world meanings to the data. You could add the airplanes conveying the delegates.i hope they will not jump out of the airplanes.

  22. Richard

    Yes, I know and have written of this Alexandria example. I should have said a working example from the ‘modern’ age.

    Mind you I could never actually find any evidence that the ancient one was actually built and worked-a bit like some of Galileo’s ahead of their time inventions. There were some very interesting Greek and Roman inventions that seem to have then disappeared for a thousand years. Did you see that programme about the ‘computer’ found on the sea bed dating from the Greeks?

    Hope its not been too hot for you. Thankfully, it seems to have cooled off somewhat today.
    tonyb

  23. Hi Willis,
    As Pete in Cumbria points out, a handheld CO2 meter will over-read if several people are looking at it, as they are also likely to be exhaling towards it. I use the same machine as in the picture mostly for checking indoor airflows and confined workspaces, but they can be useful outside as well, eg picking up the CO2 surge that occurs after sunset when photosynthesis shuts down. I had mine on a discussion table once when I was being dressed down by a hyperventilating warmista. I cheated a bit by setting the alarm to trigger at 1000 instead of the usual 2000, as I couldn’t place it directly in front of the person. It wasn’t long before it went off. Exhaled breath is about 4% CO2 eg 40,000 ppm.
    Probably more if you are physically fit, have a high metabolic rate, or (as in this case) are steamed up.
    You can buy an AZ-0001 from http://www.co2meter.com (CO2Meter Inc in Florida).

  24. In a mid-1980s visit to Knoxville, I did business at Oak Ridge, which had a magnificent Science museum where you could buy a graphite brick souvenir from one of the early nuclear reactors. They also had a copy of the Great Scientific American Paper Airplane Book, an example of which is now with a grandchild.
    The joy seems to have gone from advanced engineers toying around with paper airplanes. The importance of peaceful nuclear power is declining. Scientific fun, in general, no longer seems as fashionable as I recall from those times. I used to have a one inch metal cube containing an isotope of plutonium, for use as a paperweight and for scaring Greens, until some Government killjoy took it from me.
    So, Willis, it was good to hear of your speech because I suspect that it had the ability to bring some salient points back to the limelight.
    But did you visit ORNL?
    Geoff

  25. Willis said:
    ” … and while increasing the price of energy is an inconvenience for many people, for the poorest of the poor it can mean impoverishment, sickness and death. So fight CO2 if you must, but if you increase energy prices to do it, you are actively harming the poor.”
    ______________________
    Many could say that you have just spotlighted the hidden agenda of the chief architects of the concept of cAGW.

  26. Wilis wrote, ” [ … ]the hospitals often deal with the ebola patients without even gloves, because the hospitals are too poor to buy them and their stocks have run out in the current medical emergency.”

    There is no shortage of gloves in the US food service/restaurant industry. Make one $5 sub sandwich and send another pair of gloves to the landfill. Mis-allocation of resources.

  27. Willis: “Actually, you make the distinction quite neatly. A governor is not feedback. It is a system which controls the amount of feedback, which can be either positive or negative as needed … or in your words, a governor is not feedback, it is a feedback controller …”

    You are now descending into semantics. When I say feedback controller, I mean it is a controller that works via a feedback mechanism not that it is a controller of feedback and there not the feedback itself.

    As I understand your proposition, the emergent phenomena, tropical storms, is triggered by local hotspots and cause local cooling. The timing and number of TS are a response to local SST and provide a negative feedback to any changes in SST ” either positive or negative as needed “.

    There is nothing in that descriptions which indicates whether the regional effect is linear or non-linear feedback but it is a negative feedback. I suspect that, like the Watt’s governor, it may well be a non-linear negative feedback.

    That seems a reasonable proposition.

    What I still don’t see is what point you are trying to make and why tropical climate should be thought of as being controlled by a governor and not a feedback.

    Is it because you are ( incorrectly ) interpreting “a feedback” to mean linear feedback and you want to say that TS are stronger than a linear feedback?

    PS don’t confuse the internal processes of TS which contain strong _positive_ feedbacks, bounded by negative feedbacks, with the net regional effect of TS on SST which is certainly a negative feedback.

    The non-linearity of TS processes opens the possibility that they may have an overall non-linear effect but does not guarantee that is the case. I think my volcano stacks do indicate a non-linear negative feedback, perhaps better modelled as a PID controller, as I said above.

  28. Joe Born,

    “Centripetal” is correct. More correctly it would be “Centripetal Acceleration,” not centripetal force. It means “away from the center.” If you swing a rock on a string, your hand experiences this centripetal acceleration as a pull, stronger as you swing the rock faster. Acceleration is how anything moves in a circle! Gravity is also an acceleration, not a force.

    A governor is a feedback controller. “Feedback” is such an imprecise word, most should research carefully before using it. Climate models assume that rising temperatures produce more atmospheric water vapor, which then produces more atmospheric heat, which would them produce even more atmospheric water vapor. In other words, a little CO2 makes water vapor increase itself! Pretty dubious reasoning, easily disproved by eons of CO2 concentration an order of magnitude above present-day, with no runaway water-vapor-driven heating.

    Our tax dollars at work…

  29. climatereason:

    Tony:

    Thankyou for your reply to me at July 28, 2014 at 3:12 am.

    I was aware of the Antikythera device before the good TV program. Derek de Solla Price at Yale studied the device in the 1950s and I have tried to follow the matter since then.

    A few years after the Antikythera ship sank, Cicero (106-43 BC, a Roman lawyer) wrote saying Poseidonus (a philosopher) who was his teacher and his friend had “recently made a globe which in its revolutions shows the movements of the Sun, the planets, and the stars as they appear in the sky by day and by night”. And Cicero noted that Archimedes had developed an earlier model that “imitated the movements of heavenly bodies”. There have been suggestions that the Antikythera device is actually that of Archimedes.

    Returning to the many inventions of Hero of Alexandria. I am astonished that this great genius is known to so few. His many inventions were made in the first century AD and include
    the hypodermic syringe,
    the fire engine,
    the coin operated slot machine
    the automatic door,
    the steam turbine,
    the suspension of a ball in a flow of gas (steam) by using Bernoulli’s principle,
    many automata including automatic theaters,
    a variety of surveying instruments,
    and much more.

    Richard

  30. Brad says:
    July 27, 2014 at 10:51 pm
    Willis,
    Great report, thanks.
    Was a little confused on your comment about TVA, here is a link to their 2012 fuel mix: http://www.tva.com/power/nuclear/pdf/Nuclear_White_Paper.pdf

    This is a good example of the basic problem with all renewables. You have to have a power supply when your source doesn’t cooperate with you. Too much or too little wind, sun light or water to meet your current demand is a major problem. Hydropower does have one advantage over the others. You can store your power source when you don’t need it and dump it when you have too much. However, there is a limit to both of these options and it can get quit tricky and expensive either way. I worked with TVA River Scheduling for years and could sense their anguish whenever they had to spill water rather than passing it through the turbines. It’s kind of like throwing money away because you don’t have room for it in your wallet.

  31. It’s so simple and almost everyone has heard it and knows what it means. First, do no harm.

    Not only does this apply to necessarily skyrocketing energy prices but also to bird and bat chopping windmills. First do no harm.

    I think I’ll start every conversation with warmists with this concept from now on.

  32. Michael Moon says:
    “Centripetal” is correct. Willis: “and the balls are driven outwards by centripetal force. It means “away from the center.”

    Duh. Centrifugal ( fuge mean flight : fleeing from the centre ) centripetal means towards the centre. So Willis’ phrase saying ” driven outwards by centripetal force” is a clear contradiction in terms. That is a bit of knit-pick, which Joe quietly flagged, but you are flat out wrong.

    The inertial reaction to the centripetal force of the rods constraining the balls to a circular motion is the centrifugal force. It is the cosine of the centrifugal force that pulls against the spring and which displaces the control valve.

    It is the centripetal force ( resultant force of the tension in the upper and lower rods ) that constrains the balls to a circular motion, despite their heartfelt wish to carry on in a straight line in due obedience of Newton’s laws of motion.

  33. I think centrifugal force drives the balls out and the springs on the balls provide the centripetal force.

    [Thanks, fixed. -w.]

  34. MMoon: “Pretty dubious reasoning, easily disproved by eons of CO2 concentration an order of magnitude above present-day, with no runaway water-vapor-driven heating.”

    Wrong again. There is no reason why one component of the system cannot be a positive feedback, that does not mean the whole system is unstable. There is a mixture of +/ve and -/ve feedbacks, the dominant one being the Plank feedback.

    The relative magnitude of the others determines just _how_ negative the overall result is and _how_ stable/unstable ie. sensitive the system is.

    Large water vapour feedbacks would increase the sensitivity and reduce the stability.

    That is what the debate is about. It is not a black and white / positive vs negative issue.

    Equally you can have +ve f/b once a TS is triggered, that keep it going even once the initial heat that triggered it is removed. That means that it could be a non linear negative f/b on SST.

    That makes tropical climate _less_ sensitive to radiative forcing and ( potentiall ) more stable than a linear neg. f/b

  35. Greg Goodman says:
    July 28, 2014 at 3:48 am

    If one takes the aggregate effect of the individual T-storms around the Intertroptical Convergence Zone, the result is certainly a governing function. A lot like multiple changes in the flexible mirror telescopes which continually compensate for atmospheric fluctuations. Willis has stated repeatedly regarding emergent phenomina, they are definitely non-linear. A dust devil is just rising air, but maybe not…

  36. Brad says:
    ” Was a little confused on your comment about TVA”

    The TVA started out primarily hydroelectric:

    http://www.tva.com/abouttva/history.htm

    Watauga Lake (A TVA Reservoir) is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I’ve pulled a 6 pound smallmouth out of that lake and a friend of mine (RIP) still holds the state lake trout record that he caught there. I don’t get there near often enough but it tops the charts for best vacation destinations for me. The lake still generates electricity as it has since the late 1940’s when it brought much needed power to the area.

  37. Richard

    The Antikythera is fascinating, thanks f9or the additional insights.

    It just makes you wonder where the Ancients might have ended up with their technology if;

    1) They were’nt continually fighting wars, sickness etc
    2) They had more time to develop the materials and parallel technologies that many inventions need.

    When I was in Pakistan years ago I bought in a shop something roughly similar to the Antikythera that had been made locally and they were churning out for the tourist trade.

    I had no idea of its likely provenance at the time and whilst I had it for years it seems to have got lost after a number of house moves.
    tonyb

  38. An acoustic guitar man and not even a mention of Bristol, “Birthplace of Country Music”??? Jimmy Rodgers, Uncle Charlie Osborne, the Carter Family and Tennessee Ernie Ford.
    Thunder Valley, Bristol Motor Speedway night race is next month, party!!! You can always find a non scalped, sometimes even reduced ticket somewhere.

  39. Goodman,

    Touchy, touchy. Center Fly, Center Pull, what does it all mean? So you suggest that water vapor could indeed increase itself in the atmosphere? You will never be MY financial advisor…

  40. Greg Goodman, please take this as gentle admonition: your numerous posts are bordering on trolling. You know a lot, but it’s not necessary to nit-pick details in the comments of others. Please dial it back a little. At this point I just have to skip over you comments. I’d like to read and learn from them but it’s too much. And no need for a reply, I won’t respond.

  41. “But the poorer you are, the larger a percentage of your expenses goes to energy costs (primarily heating, cooling, and transportation), and there is no exemption for those at the bottom of the heap.”

    There is a rule of thumb that serves as a guide to social behaviour:

    If the cost of energy reaches 20% of a low income family’s expenditure, they start to switch fuels. (That may apply across the board regardless of income – maybe worth investigating.)

    If it reaches 40% desperation measures are implemented – anything will do if it saves money – even burning tires to keep warm or breathing vile emissions from whatever is available to cook the food they can scrounge. In highland Lesotho students are sometimes fed undercooked meals if the fuel runs out – what brush and bushes they can find the day before. That is a bit different – there is literally nothing available to burn. Otherwise the 20-40 rule seems to apply pretty consistently around the world.

  42. Willis, when you introduced the idea of governors in climate, the image you use here was exactly what came to mind for me. Your account remains convincing.

    But as to the force involved, Scott Scarborough is right, it’s actually centrifugal. It happens I was quite recently reading up on it. The word comes from “fugere” which is Latin for “flee”; hence such English words as “fugitive”.

  43. M Courtney says:
    July 28, 2014 at 3:04 am

    The next day another maid told me she’d been upset when she saw the word “Climate” on some paperwork in another guest’s room, she was all upset about the idea of a climate conference … but then she read a bit more and realized it was skeptics, not alarmists, and after that everything was fine again.

    I find it sad that any gathering to discuss any field of science should be considered upsetting.

    True … but then climate alarmism has nothing to do with science …

    w.

  44. Alan Robertson says:
    July 28, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Willis said:

    ” … and while increasing the price of energy is an inconvenience for many people, for the poorest of the poor it can mean impoverishment, sickness and death. So fight CO2 if you must, but if you increase energy prices to do it, you are actively harming the poor.”

    ______________________
    Many could say that you have just spotlighted the hidden agenda of the chief architects of the concept of cAGW.

    While this may be true for certain individuals, by and large I hold to my maxim, “Never ascribe to malice what is adequately explained by error and ignorance” …

    w.

  45. Willis,

    I’ve never lived in tornado country, so I followed the example of the locals in the hotel who did … well … nothing.

    This took some getting used to for me. I moved to Huntsville AL some years back, and the first summer I was here the tornado sirens seemed incessant. They’d go off several times a week. After a bit I became desensitized like everybody else and just took it as a warning to pay attention to the radio. But if people took shelter every time those darn sirens went off, there’d be summers when nothing got done.

  46. Willis: A governor EMPLOYS feedback to affect a change in the output of said governor, based upon some combination of input signals. Input – speed signal. Output – throttle position. Input – temperature; output – cloud cover.

    I’m just a dumb engineer who had to endure control systems theory (and practice) in about second year. I understand your position and perception, but ask that you just leave this one alone, as it detracts from the main issue – it’s just a difference of definitions which becomes a red herring.

  47. climatereason:

    Tony:

    Thanks for your post at July 28, 2014 at 5:52 am which I think provides a powerful illustration of why Conferences such as the DPP are important.

    You begin by saying to me

    The Antikythera is fascinating, thanks f9or the additional insights.

    It just makes you wonder where the Ancients might have ended up with their technology if;

    1) They were’nt continually fighting wars, sickness etc
    2) They had more time to develop the materials and parallel technologies that many inventions need.

    In fact they had all the technology needed to develop steam-powered transportation and steam-powered machinery by adopting Hero’s ‘aeolipile’ as a power source. For example, railways, saw mills and flour mills were in widespread use.

    However, their society was completely based on the use of slavery. Displacing slaves with machines would have induced a societal revolution with unpredictable effects. There were not, for example, automated looms to form factories which could mop-up displaced workers (i.e. displaced slaves). I think it shoild be noted that despite the inventions of factory systems, the eventual industrial revolution had Luddites, Rebeccas and etc..

    Today, our ‘slaves’ are machines. Ending or significantly reducing human slavery two thousand years ago would have caused total societal collapse with all the horrors that provides: first do no harm.

    Richard

  48. mrmethane says:
    July 28, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Willis: A governor EMPLOYS feedback to affect a change in the output of said governor, based upon some combination of input signals. Input – speed signal. Output – throttle position. Input – temperature; output – cloud cover.

    Duh …

    I said quite clearly that a governor controls feedback to affect a change in the output, viz:

    A governor is not feedback. It is a system which controls the amount of feedback, which can be either positive or negative as needed

    I have had to make this distinction repeatedly because many folks don’t understand the difference between a governor and simple feedback, so they think the emergent climate phenomena are just simple feedback. They are not.

    You come along to tell me quite paternalistically to “leave this one alone” because in your infinite wisdom you know that a governor doesn’t control feedback, it EMPLOYS feedback to affect a change in the output … man, you nit-pickers are out in force today.

    What on earth is the difference between me saying a governor controls the feedback and you saying it EMPLOYS feedback, to use your term?

    I’m sick of folks like you and Greg Goodman blithely assuming I don’t know what I’m talking about. I know exactly how a governor works. I’ve worked on and calibrated and adjusted and repaired actual flyball governors of the type shown above … have you?

    My point is that simple feedback doth not a governor make.

    This is particularly true in a lagged system such as the climate, because to control such a system a governor not only needs to control the feedback, it needs to produce overshoot (hysteresis). Emergent climate phenomena exhibit hysteresis, which shows that they are not feedbacks, they are a governor system.

    Happy now? OK … then go away and nit-pick someone else. I got three hours sleep last nite, I got no time for you and Greg’s attempt to show how smart you are. I know you’re both smart, but your pathetic attempts to prove it at my expense just make you both look dumb.

    w.

  49. Gary says:
    July 28, 2014 at 6:07 am
    Greg Goodman, please take this as gentle admonition: your numerous posts are bordering on trolling. You know a lot, but it’s not necessary to nit-pick details in the comments of others. Please dial it back a little. . .

    To the contrary, I appreciate Greg Goodman’s comments, as not being an engineer, I generally learn something. That’s one of the reasons I come here.

    /Mr Lynn

  50. Willis – yeah, I have. Ball weight (assuming no dimensional changes) is analogous to the amount of (negative) feedback produced at any given rotational speed. More weight, more neg feedback.

  51. Why didn’t I know about this?! I live in Knoxville, and would have loved to have attended. And to meet Willis and others.

  52. “First, do no harm.” This is an elegant hook for your particular audience and, if it isn’t a recognized ‘must’ element for oral presentations, it should be. It was an inspiration and I look forward to the video.

    I visited Knoxville almost 30 years ago when I heard that the famous Tennesee Pink marble quarry and plant was up for sale. A large number of classy old buildings in North America are graced with this stone that is characterized by zig zag stylolite seams that look a bit like the temperature record.

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

    I hoped I could interest some partners in it who were interested in investing in a pure white crystalline dolomite marble that I owned in Ontario. I was hand quarrying blocks and eventually bought a scrap wire saw in Vermont and rebuilt it – alas, recession starting in 1991 killed all my plans although there are a number of marble floors, fireplaces, tombstones, and split ashlar as sad monuments to my enterprise.

    I had the best BBQed ribs in my life in Knoxville and I attended a fine bluegrass concert. Nice to see some pics. The pink marble underlies the ridge you mention and I had the opposite view: a beautiful panorama of the city from the Tennessee Pink quarry.

  53. mrmethane says:
    July 28, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Willis – yeah, I have. Ball weight (assuming no dimensional changes) is analogous to the amount of (negative) feedback produced at any given rotational speed. More weight, more neg feedback.

    Great, so then you can explain why you are busting me for saying a governor controls the feedback instead of saying that it employs feedback. As a practical man with field experience, surely you can point out the critical difference that led to your paternalistic admonition telling me to “leave this one alone” … and if not, how about YOU leave it alone instead?

    w.

  54. OK, now that I’m on the verge of being bullied into silence, I’ll try again. Input signal, speed, actually centripetal force acting on the balls to raise them against the force of gravity. Output signal, throttle position. Feedback – the change in throttle position in response to ball height (speed). The amount of (negative, in this case) feedback is determined by the physical properties of the weights, arm length, leverage on the throttle components etc. We can adjust the speed limit by adjusting physical things. So yes, the governor provides a negative signal to the throttle, but that signal is a function of the feedback loop defined by the mechanics. And no, I am not trying to make you look stupid or me look smart, and would much rather this exchange took place offline.

  55. Many people believe the term “balls to the wall” came from aviation, from pushing the ball-capped throttles forward to the firewall, but the term actually was first coined in the era of the steam engine. As a steam engine gains RPMs, the governor’s balls fly out toward the walls!

  56. A governor is not feedback. It is a system which controls the amount of feedback, which can be either positive or negative as needed … or in your words, a governor is not feedback, it is a feedback controller …

    The steam flow rate (controlled by valve position) is the feedback. The control is the steam valve. The Watts governor turns the sensed speed into feedback (steam flow rate).

    I must say though you are not using the terms in a way engineers normally use them. And BTW the governor does not control the feedback. It controls the steam valve. Which controls steam flow. The steam flow rate (controlled by valve position) is the feedback. If we are to be semantically correct valve position is the feedback.

    And in addition the feedback need not be negative. Valve position is usually designated as 0 to 100% open. But if you nominate 1/2 open as zero…. then less than half open is negative. But that is all a matter of convention. One of the things I did at Robert Shaw was design the software of the controller to conform to different conventions. Each industry has its own depending on historical accident.

    But that is all semantics and barely useful. What I want to know is what are the climate controllers and how does their behavior become emergent?

  57. Greg Goodman says:
    July 28, 2014 at 3:48 am

    I agree with you that integrals are not given near enough weight in climate science. Degree days is probably more important than degrees. Similarly with solar. TSI days. I think it was Vukovic who has said that it is the integral of days with SSNs above or below 40 that determines Earth heating or cooling. And that is integrated by the oceans with something like a 10 to 20 year lag.

    Habibullo Abdussamatov likes an 11 year lag from 2003. 2003 being the year a number of people have determined as as the date of solar drop off. Lagged 11 years gives 2014. A number of people think we are headed for a Dalton type minimum. de Vries cycle.

    http://notrickszone.com/2013/12/03/german-scientists-show-climate-driven-by-natural-cycles-global-temperature-to-drop-to-1870-levels-by-2100/

    Personally from my limited study I give CO2 zero weight in controlling climate. My rationale is that arid deserts cool rapidly at night and to my knowledge no one has shown that the rate of cooling has changed with increased CO2.

    I wonder if Willis is predicting any such thing (cooling)?

  58. bushbunny says:
    July 27, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    “Good my friend, I have a picture of my son sitting between two stock men (farmers) outside our pub with two tanks of CO2 behind them. Taken about 30 years ago. Labelled Beer. CO2 is used to add to beer in a keg before it is tapped.”

    Off topic, I know, but over here in England a small dedicated minority of us still stick to the view that if you have to pump CO2 into it, it can’t be “real” beer.

  59. Wonderful story, as usual. Going completely off topic, I’ve been trying to introduce my daughter to some of your writing. I’ve found the index, but I can’t seem to find the story I’m looking for. It’s the one where you’re trying to educate some Pacific Islanders about what the logging companies are really doing. Any assistance in locating that post would be appreciated.

  60. Greg Goodman (28 Jul, 5.34 A.M.) is 97.1% correct. (Please don’t ask how I calculated this figure!) When I used to teach this stuff I would start out by asking the class “who has heard of centrifugal force?” After all the hands went up I would say “Well forget about it. There’s no such thing”
    If you get a college level text on Newtonian mechanics and check out the worked problems on circular motion, you will find there is no centrifugal force or resulting acceleration, and no need for it.

  61. mrmethane says:
    July 28, 2014 at 9:06 am

    OK, now that I’m on the verge of being bullied into silence, I’ll try again. Input signal, speed, actually centripetal force acting on the balls to raise them against the force of gravity. Output signal, throttle position. Feedback – the change in throttle position in response to ball height (speed). The amount of (negative, in this case) feedback is determined by the physical properties of the weights, arm length, leverage on the throttle components etc. We can adjust the speed limit by adjusting physical things. So yes, the governor provides a negative signal to the throttle, but that signal is a function of the feedback loop defined by the mechanics. And no, I am not trying to make you look stupid or me look smart, and would much rather this exchange took place offline.

    So now I’m a “bully”? You can say whatever you please, for as long as you please, in whatever way you please, and I can’t do a one single thing about it. Your claim of “bullying” is a pathetic joke. And you still have not said one single word about how you saying that a governor EMPLOYS feedback is different from me saying a governor controls feedback.

    Go whimper about being “bullied” somewhere else, my anonymous friend. It doesn’t work with me.

    w.

  62. M Simon says:
    July 28, 2014 at 9:56 am

    A governor is not feedback. It is a system which controls the amount of feedback, which can be either positive or negative as needed … or in your words, a governor is not feedback, it is a feedback controller …

    The steam flow rate (controlled by valve position) is the feedback. The control is the steam valve. The Watts governor turns the sensed speed into feedback (steam flow rate).

    I must say though you are not using the terms in a way engineers normally use them. And BTW the governor does not control the feedback. It controls the steam valve. Which controls steam flow. The steam flow rate (controlled by valve position) is the feedback. If we are to be semantically correct valve position is the feedback.

    And in addition the feedback need not be negative. Valve position is usually designated as 0 to 100% open. But if you nominate 1/2 open as zero…. then less than half open is negative. But that is all a matter of convention. One of the things I did at Robert Shaw was design the software of the controller to conform to different conventions. Each industry has its own depending on historical accident.

    M. Simon, I have no clue why you are talking about a steam engine. I said a governor controlled the feedback. You said it is a feedback controller, so I thought we were in agreement … and now you want to lecture me about steam engines, and change your mind and tell me that the governor is NOT controlling the feedback, it’s controlling the valve position which controls the steam flow rate? Make up your mind.

    But that is all semantics and barely useful. What I want to know is what are the climate controllers and how does their behavior become emergent?

    The main emergent phenomena controlling the global temperature are the tropical cumulus and thunderstorms. In addition various parts are played by the El Niño pump moving warm water from the equator to the poles, and by dust devils, tornadoes, hurricanes, squall lines, and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. See Emergent Climate Phenomena, and “It’s Not About Feedback” for a detailed discussion.

    Best regards,

    w.

  63. TomB says:
    July 28, 2014 at 11:43 am

    Wonderful story, as usual. Going completely off topic, I’ve been trying to introduce my daughter to some of your writing. I’ve found the index, but I can’t seem to find the story I’m looking for. It’s the one where you’re trying to educate some Pacific Islanders about what the logging companies are really doing. Any assistance in locating that post would be appreciated.

    Thanks for the kind words, Tom. I often can’t find my own work, not surprising since I’m over 500 posts at this point. After much experimentation, I realized that all of my posts have the exact phrase “Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach” at the top. So now I search for that (in quotes) plus whatever keywords come to mind.

    In this case, the post is called How Environmental Organizations are Destroying The Environment.

    Best to you and your daughter,

    w.

  64. Wes Spiers says:
    “there is no centrifugal force”

    Tell that to a coffee cup sitting on a dash when a curve is taken a little too fast.

  65. Learn something new every day !

    So James Watt’s “flyball” governor. is NOT a feedback system ?

    Well then that is great; so it can never go into oscillation, since the input is not influenced by a delayed output.

    Amazing !

  66. M Simon says:
    July 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I wonder if Willis is predicting any such thing (cooling)?

    I don’t do predictions of that sort, but since I hold that the temperature of the planet is thermostatically controlled, I doubt greatly if we will see either large warming or large cooling.

    To date I’ve seen no solid evidence that minor variations in the sun do anything. They are claimed to cause the temperature drops in the Maunder and Dalton minima, but since the temperature started rising in both instances long before the sunspots/TSI started to rise, this seems doubtful … particularly when you add in the fact that for such a cumulative effect we’d expect a significant lag time, which makes the temperature/sunspot mismatch even worse.

    Regards,

    w.

  67. I don’t believe Dr. Robinson is a medical doctor. Rather, his PhD is in Biochemistry.

    [Thanks, Michael, fixed. -w.]

  68. “””””…..Michael Moon says:

    July 28, 2014 at 4:48 am

    Joe Born,

    “Centripetal” is correct. More correctly it would be “Centripetal Acceleration,” not centripetal force. It means “away from the center.” If you swing a rock on a string, your hand experiences this centripetal acceleration as a pull, stronger as you swing the rock faster. Acceleration is how anything moves in a circle! Gravity is also an acceleration, not a force……”””””

    So instead of me swinging the rock on the string, I am holding in my hand the little battery motor, which is rotating a wheel that the string is tied to. So my hand is held rigidly and is not perceptibly moving.

    Damn ! Something is surely pulling on my hand and it is always pulling my hand in the direction the string is pointing.

    My hand resists moving (or accelerating), by pulling equally hard on that electric motor in my hand.

    When I stand on my bathroom scales, I don’t go anywhere; well except around the earth polar axis in 24 hours; that’s the only accelerating I am doing.

    When I calculate that acceleration, and the required “nonforce”, I don’t get anything like the 170 pounds, the scale says I weigh; what gives??

    Funny thing, is when I rest the scale on my chest, and then put the earth on my bathroom scale; the scale says that the earth also weighs exactly the same 170 pounds as I do.

    A little awkward weighing the earth; I have to put a mirror between the scale and the earth, in order
    for me to read the scale. If the scale had wifi, then I wouldn’t need the mirror, to weigh the earth.

  69. John West sounds like one of my old students who pays $100 for a textbook and then insists on watching TV instead of studying the book. Do your homework or you won’t pass the course!
    I’ll get you started: the coffee cup is obeying Newton’s first law and continuing “in a state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line”. It’s the car that is sliding from under the cup as it obeys the second law and accelerates towards the centre of the circle due to the centripetal force produced by the friction of the tires on the road.

  70. P.S. It’s not safe to drive a car with a cup of hot coffee on the dashboard. Buy a cup-holder!

  71. Willis, you should really consider writing a book about the practical realities of economic and social development. You’ve obviously had a lot of experience on the front line and you’ve told us stories about it on WUWT. But these scattered anecdotes could be combined into something bigger. They could be turned into a series of case studies that illustrate general principles of development, what works and what doesn’t, and the gap that often exists between official policy and what happens in practice.

    You could frame it as a series of tall stories about adventures in exotic places to appeal to the widest possible audience, but those stories could then be used to make serious points about how development really works. It would be a way of summarising all the most important things you’ve learned about the subject in the most accessible form.

  72. Thank you Anthony. Knoxville is a great town with great people. Don’t you love those old steam machines. Being from the Midweat and having experience with tornados here is what we do. When the sirens go off the women, children and pets ate told to go downstairs. The guys grab a beer and we go outside to watch. We don’t want to miss anything. Perhaps the folks down south do things differently.

  73. bushbunny says:
    July 27, 2014 at 10:53 pm. . .

    BB, I’m not sure how much of Australia this really applies to but . . . Australia is a really old continent. My ecology prof explained, decades ago now, that some parts of the continent are “desert” in terms of ground cover but get considerably more rain than a proper desert like the Sahara or Atacama. The real constraint is that the land and soils are so old that essential trace minerals and iron are in short supply locally and some times regionally. At the time he talked of experimental work with before and after pictures of a large spread that had been converted from “desert” by the application of iron, magnesium (IIRC) and some other minerals. The results were dramatic.

  74. M Simon says:
    July 28, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Greg Goodman says:
    July 28, 2014 at 3:48 am

    I agree with you that integrals are not given near enough weight in climate science. Degree days is probably more important than degrees. Similarly with solar. TSI days. I think it was Vukovic who has said that it is the integral of days with SSNs above or below 40 that determines Earth heating or cooling. And that is integrated by the oceans with something like a 10 to 20 year lag.

    ====

    I think all the talk of “lags” ie a fixed shift in time are not physically meaningful. More likely is the most obvious reaction of relaxation to equilibrium. This is a form of integral but with decaying influence as time goes on. Using a time-const of 20y is quite similar to a 11y low-pass filter plus an 11y lag. It is interesting to compare that to David Evan’s “Big News”.

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=998

  75. Thanks to the pedants for pointing out that the rotating set of balls experience centripetal acceleration resulting in a centrifugal force that causes the yoked balls to move away from their mutual axis. Glad that’s out of the way.

    • Crispin in Waterloo says:
      28 Jul 2014, 5.28 P.M.
      Thanks to the pedants for pointing out that the rotating set of balls experience centripetal acceleration resulting in a centrifugal force that causes the yoked balls to move away from their mutual axis. Glad that’s out of the way.

      Pedantry is necessary in physics and often required for stubborn students who refuse to open their text book. Acceleration never results in force, centrifugal or otherwise. It’s force that results in acceleration.
      And besides, in rotational motion, there is no centrifugal force or acceleration.
      Glad that’s out of the way.

  76. Willis says:

    “I’m sick of folks like you and Greg Goodman blithely assuming I don’t know what I’m talking about. I know exactly how a governor works. I’ve worked on and calibrated and adjusted and repaired actual flyball governors of the type shown above … have you?

    My point is that simple feedback doth not a governor make.

    This is particularly true in a lagged system such as the climate, because to control such a system a governor not only needs to control the feedback, it needs to produce overshoot (hysteresis). Emergent climate phenomena exhibit hysteresis, which shows that they are not feedbacks, they are a governor system.”

    ====

    And I’m sick if you getting the arse every time I try improve your basically good idea into something makes sense in engineering and scientific terms that may get a bit further than “Willis thinks that…”

    You keep going on about a governor not being a feedback but you seem totally incapable to saying what this key difference is. The Watts’ governor is a classic example of mechanical feedback controller yet you insist “climate is regulated not by feedback but by a governor system”.

    Now you are talking about hysteresis. ( No, over-shoot is not the same thing as hysteresis ).

    “Emergent climate phenomena exhibit hysteresis, which shows that they are not feedbacks,”

    Er, sorry. Hysteresis is the result of a positive feedback bounded by a stronger negative feedback. It causes latching to one state or another. You rightly say TS exhibit hysteresis but that does not mean they are not exhibiting feedbacks themselves (they are) and it tells us nothing , one way or the other, as to whether they are acting as a feedback on regional climate.

    I suspect (though have not checked for empirical confirmation) that this latching (hysteresis) in TS not only removes the local hotspot in SST but drives immediate area lower than the local average. That would make it a non-linear feedback and provide overshoot in the immediate area.

    This tells us that it will produce a negative feedback on a regional level. There is no way from that simple description to say whether that regional effect will be linear or non-linear -ve feedback or whether there will be an overshoot on the regional scale ( I suspect not ).

    Now if you could stop being vexed every time I try to support your hypothesis, you may be able to get beyond : “As someone who holds that the climate is regulated not by feedback but by a governor system” without being able to explain what the difference is.

    The Watts’ governor is a control system that works via a feedback. The non-linearity of the centrifugal force is incidental, it could be linear and work pretty much the same.

    The incidence and timing of TS will produce a negative f/b on regional SST.

    As SST returns towards what would be an equilibrium state, the spacial density and timing of TS will also drop back to average. This is a basic description of relaxation to equilibrium that is a linear response.

    To go beyond that and suggest non-linear regional response, over-shoot or hysteresis is going to need some detailed physical evidence, I suspect.

    It seems from the many comments you have made over the years that this what you are trying to get at. You object to the IPCC notion that TS is “just” a linear negative f/b on tropical climate and that by use of the word ‘governor’ you are trying to state that it is a non-linear f/b , possibly with hysteresis and or overshoot.

    To establish that is going to require some pretty detailed data that I suspect does not exist ( though I have not dug into it ). But I’m really not sure that it matters.

    What does matter is how strong the feedback is , even if it is non-linear and crudely approximated as linear. The key thing that is going wrong in climate models is the sensitivity and this is all about the strength of the ‘parametrisations’ of the feedbacks, which are mostly, fairly crude guesswork.

    Now there I think something can be gained from some data that we do have:

    http://climategrog.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=884

    There I show that volcanic forcing is being deliberately under-estimated in order to maintain high climate sensitivity in the tropics.

    That analysis was possible because of ideas that Willis has introduced me to over the years and got me thinking about volcanoes and their impact ( or lack thereof ) on climate. Many of his articles have been inspirational and enlightening.

    Thanks W.

  77. Looking at the date on the Oregon Petition (1997) and its original “purpose” (Kyoto) says perhaps to counter the 97% “Consensus” argument, we need a new similar petition? It would give CAGW’ers a target with something to discredit and burn off some of their energy in the process?

  78. Greg Goodman says:
    July 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Willis says:

    I’m sick of folks like you and Greg Goodman blithely assuming I don’t know what I’m talking about. I know exactly how a governor works. I’ve worked on and calibrated and adjusted and repaired actual flyball governors of the type shown above … have you?

    My point is that simple feedback doth not a governor make.

    This is particularly true in a lagged system such as the climate, because to control such a system a governor not only needs to control the feedback, it needs to produce overshoot (hysteresis). Emergent climate phenomena exhibit hysteresis, which shows that they are not feedbacks, they are a governor system.”

    ====

    And I’m sick if you getting the arse every time I try improve your basically good idea into something makes sense in engineering and scientific terms that may get a bit further than “Willis thinks that…”

    That’s extremely good news, Greg, glad to hear it, because that means if you just stop trying to convince me that you know what you’re talking about regarding a governor, we’ll both be much happier, which is a win-win situation if I ever heard one.

    For example, you say:

    You keep going on about a governor not being a feedback but you seem totally incapable to saying what this key difference is.

    Hogwash. I did exactly that above, that is a total fabrication on your part. Here’s the distinction which this discussion started out with. You said:

    A governor is a feedback controller, what is the distinction that you are trying to make?

    To which I replied:

    Actually, you make the distinction quite neatly. A governor is not feedback. It is a system which controls the amount of feedback, which can be either positive or negative as needed … or in your words, a governor is not feedback, it is a feedback controller …

    So I AGREED WITH YOU ENTIRELY. I said yes, I agree, the difference is a governor is something that controls a feedbak, and yet here you still are, endlessly ragging on about how you know all about this and I’m an idiot… and now you’re claim I haven’t given you the “key distinction” that YOU gave when we started the discussion and that I AGREED WITH AND CLARIFIED … say what?

    So please, yes, if you’re sick of the response you get to your paternalistic didactic attempts to endlessly attack me in the guise of teaching, even attacking me for not doing things I’ve already done, I invite you to give up those attempts to teach me any dang thing at all, and give them up root, stalk, and branch.

    You’re sick of it, I’m sick of it … so how’s about you stop trying to play teacher and attempting to “correct” me? It’s not working, so stop it. How hard can it be? We can talk science, we can talk climate, but stop trying to school me, that’s a non-starter.

    And a governor is a system that controls the feedback, usually in the form of regulating the setting of the throttle, to maintain a system at a certain level.

    w.

  79. @Willis

    I have something to offer that you might consider an extension of your hypothesized tropical thunderstorm thermostatic control mechanism™ which I find very convincing. All of what follows is from the science of viscoelasticity.

    Suppose we experience a change in global or regional temperature, which, let’s suppose, has the form of a sine wave. There is a delayed cooling response by the atmosphere to an increase in temperature through the mechanism of thunderstorms and an increase in cloud cover, which I recall you showed kicks in about 8 months later. Let’s assume this is correct. It is a system with characteristics of a damped, governed response that shows evidence of hysteresis, overshoot and recovery. No problem so far.

    It is a fundamental property of the responses of materials, which includes just about everything, in that the effectiveness of the response by the governing mechanism is strongly affected by the temperature of the material (atmosphere, water and water vapour) and the frequency of the applied change applied. This capacity to respond differently with a change in frequency is not obvious by studying the system, even in detail, in what appears to be a steady an equilibrium state. It is a dynamic property of all materials. It is a response, at a certain frequency characteristic of the material, providing, suddenly, a much stronger governing response.

    A change in effectiveness is evident at all frequencies, though material scientists are often looking at things on the order of a few Hz to a few hundred Hz. Large, slow, gaseous and highly elastic systems like the atmosphere respond at much lower frequencies than, say, rubber. But respond it will.

    There are spring-and-dash-pot models of how systems respond to a change made at a given frequency or temperature and they can be quite accurately modeled and projected across temperature-space or frequency-space. Using super-position, frequency-space responses can be projected across temperature-space and vice-versa. Two major model types are the Kelvin and Voigt spring and dashpot models and, among others, there is a combo called the 4-element model. These are used to predict the reaction of materials to an input (disturbance) at a given frequency at a particular temperature. Creep testing uses the same models since creep is a property that manifests at a very low frequency.

    It is well known that the effectiveness of the damping response to a change in input for any given frequency can be suddenly stronger at a temperature, but only in a particular and narrow range. Outside that temperature and narrow frequency range, the response delay time (called Tau) is pretty constant at two different levels on either side of the critical temperature level. For a given frequency, this means that the delay time (called Tau) which can correspond to a number of degrees ‘out of phase’ is pretty much one value constant across a low temperature range, then suddenly experiences a sharp, extremely efficient damping effect, followed by a different, almost constant delay at all temperatures above that critical point. The implications for the climate are significant because this could explain both the initiation of ice ages and Bond Events. Your study showed a dramatic increase in the effectiveness of damping when the sea temperature reached 31 degrees. Your observations and data plots are consistent with this analysis.

    The ratio of the input signal frequency (the frequency of the disturbance of the temperature) to the damping effect response to the magnitude of the input the governing mechanism spikes strongly at a particular combination of temperature and frequency. In other words, the cloud-mediated cooling suddenly, dramatically, increases in effectiveness and maybe even overshoots once a critical temperature is reached. At a different temperature, the same spike can be observed but only if a different frequency of the disturbance is ‘matched’ to the new temperature. The ratio E* of input returned energy E” to response lost energy E’ is denoted Tan Delta (δ).

    If you make one the X and the other the Y axis of a right triangle, Tanδ = E”/E’ and is maximized when the governing (damping) effect is suddenly, dramatically enhanced. It is a latent property of the material. An common example of this is a rubber ball that when dropped from a height at room temperature has virtually no bounce. The material is tuned so the impact and temperature are ‘just right’ to absorb the energy with virtually no ‘return’. If dropped on a really cold day, it will bounce far higher.

    The obvious conclusion is that such a tropical thunderstorm governing system as you have proposed for the auto-regulation of global temperature will operate on the same principles of effect-response as viscoelastic materials and will appear as inexplicable, chaotic, even mysterious responses. In fact such a ‘tuned response’ is a fundamental property of all materials including the atmosphere. Even steel can be made to behave like a liquid at room temperature at just the right frequency. To some this is known as the ‘resonant frequency’.

    My postulation is that the atmosphere behaves as a viscoelastic material, and that there are multiple inputs to the temperature forcing that are cyclical in nature, including ocean currents, solar cycles and orbital movements which all combine to provide different temperature forcing rates, which is to day, frequencies. These cycles combine to stimulate the ‘governor’ in such a way that there is a maximum average temperature for the planet, or the ocean, possibly 31°C, at which the dominant frequencies kick into life demonstrating a huge increase in the effectiveness of the thunderstorm governor, something already known to exist. To a lesser extent, these limits may be tangible at today’s lower temperatures.

    If the frequency of the input perturbation were to change, or if the temperature were to change (up or down, we don’t know yet), the response by the thunderstorm and cloud cover mechanism might hit the sweet spot and dramatically over-cool the planet.

    Some evidence for this latent property is that no matter what the CO2 level, no matter what the solar output historically, the average temperature of the planet never rose above 24°C. This is evidence of a governing mechanism with a non-linear relationship, spiking the ratio of the E” Input Loss modulus to the E’ Return Storage modulus creating a huge increase in cooling capacity, that to an uninformed observer, would be completely unexpected, impossible to anticipate. However, many materials are tested and selected (using a ‘DMA’) to find exactly these response points – hence the room-temperature ball that won’t bounce.

    Although it is not immediately obvious, a single ball-drop impact can be viewed as having a ‘frequency’ equal to half a sine wave. This is normally calculated and thus a single impact, a single ‘forcing event’ can provoke the manifestation of the Maximum Tan Delta response. If you consider the ‘speed of the change forced upon the temperature of the atmosphere’ by the AO, AMO and PDO all conspiring to drop the atmospheric temperature at the same time, the delayed ‘warming effect’ allowed by the governor would be much stronger than normal (even though the governing mechanism is an evident characteristic of the system) resulting in a step up in temperature, something noted by Bob Tisdale. Similarly, a ‘just-right frequency’ of warming at the just-right-temperature could provoke an unusually strong cooling ‘overshoot’ depending on what the temperature was at the time. These responses are not chaotic nor random. They are just hard to find.

    To date, the thunderstorm hypothesis has been presented as an approximately linear delayed governing response to a change of input. Very reasonable. But, natural ‘materials’ do not respond ‘about linearly’ at all frequencies, only ‘most frequencies’. At a given temperature and frequency of forcing (the variation in temperature) the governing mechanism pops some steroids and dramatically increases in effectiveness under the condition known as Max Tan Delta.

    My prediction is that such a mechanism of damping enhancement will be shown to exist in Earth’s atmosphere. Under most frequency and temperature conditions the climate dampens perturbing influences thus maintaining a near-equilibrium temperature. It is is a characteristic of the atmospheric climate system and it has prevented the average 24°C level from being breached, at least not for the past couple of billion years, in spite of huge changes in GHG levels and a large increase in TSI. I further predict that the thunderstorm and cloud temperature-governing mechanism operates most effectively (with very large over-shoot) at a number of combinations of temperature and frequency of input. If only one of them could be known, the others can be inferred by calculation. All planets with atmospheres are likely to be in their own equilibrium states and susceptible to similar frequency/temperature dampening effects with trigger points that overwhelm even large changes in forcing creating generally stable conditions over the long term.

  80. This thing needs a name. I dub it the Viscoelastic Max Tan Delta of the atmosphere – VMTD.

  81. “”””””……Crispin in Waterloo says:

    July 28, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    @Willis

    I have something to offer that you might consider an extension of your hypothesized tropical thunderstorm thermostatic control mechanism™ which I find very convincing. All of what follows is from the science of viscoelasticity…….”””””‘

    When I went to school, visco-elasticity, was something else; and it wasn’t a property of ALL materials.

    It was confined to “visco-elastic” materials, which are materials; some common like tar, which are fluids, rather than solids, so they have a “viscosity”, which of course can, and might be a function of temperature; but more importantly, the viscosity AT CONSTANT TEMPERATURE varies with the shear velocity, so they appear soft, if you press on them with your finger; but may appear rock hard, if you whack them with a hammer, (and could even shatter)

    Well I believe the “Posturepedic” bed mattress is made of a visco-elastic material. You lie on it, and all your barnacles, press into thematerial till they reach a stable position. But if you squirm around at night, well all the bumps just move to somewhere else, but the bed still feels firm; unlike a jelly like water bed.

    Wow ! Kevlar is a well known visco-elastic material. you can push it around like denim, but you shoot a bullet at it, and it stops it like steel would.

    Which is why Kevlar makes truly lousy fishing rods; well unless you know where to put it, and where to not put it.

    It also has lousy creep.

    Regular Hooke’s law materials are not visco-elastic.

  82. @George e

    Thanks for reading through that. I know it was a bowl and a half but it needed to be complete as it is probably novel.

    The definition you provide is somehow not used as far as I am aware. Steel, which is a ‘Hooke’s law material’ certainly has viscoelastic properties so I can’t see how to separate them into two groups.

    What you describe as a push v.s. a thump is actually a change in frequency, viewing the pressure rise as half a sine (or other) wave. In other words you don’t have to ‘shake it’ repeatedly to find the interesting Max Tan Delta conditions.

    There are some very interesting materials made, tuned to room temperature, offering amazing properties such as sudden rigidity if struck with a hammer but otherwise are very pliable and rubbery. I don’t think Kevlar is one of them. It is just a really strong fibre.

    For some materials T is approximately equal to 1/Frequency. The high school version of viscoelastic demo is probably a liquid that changes to almost solid if shaken hard – or a plunger is moved rapidly in it. Cool to watch for students. If a material was utterly rigid one might find it would not exhibit any viscoelastic properties but I don’t think we have one yet. Did you know that marble, under very, very high pressures, can be moulded like putty? Just by increasing the (atmospheric) pressure on it. Common materials are strange.

    The interesting aspect about this idea of VMTD is that Willis identified what appears to be an upper limit for sea temperature (about 31.5 or so) and VMTD could explain why it hits a wall. It might be possible using existing data to show that there is a frequency involved in the response both on a daily and multi-annual basis. For example Rossby ‘waves’ have a frequency, no? What are the properties of the system that respond to that frequency and temperature (and at what height) invoking a Max Tan Delta condition? Bob Tisdale has identified long ‘waves’ in ocean heat. There does not have to be a ‘cycle’ involved, just a ‘frequency of ‘half-a-cycle’ of the appropriate duration in order to trigger the Max Tan Delta enhanced response which might be cooling or heating. The beginnings and ends of ice ages are particularly mysterious as they probably have nothing to do with CO2 which lags temperature.

    Something not shown in the high school demonstration is that if the frequency of agitation rises more and more, the ‘tar’ returns again to a fluid state. The ‘solid’ condition is only seen during the Max Tan Delta condition which shows in the E':F chart as a spike. Changing the temperature changes the frequency at which the effect is seen, up or down. Thus an 11 year cycle (famously missing) might be entirely absorbed or ‘disappeared’ but a 22 year cycle might not. You get the idea? The sun has many different half-cycle lengths.

    Suppose the characteristic frequency that invokes a substantial cooling effect in the atmosphere is 13 or 14 years long. It is not because the ‘sun went quiet’ it would be just that the small resonance was just the right length to trigger the enhanced cooling response. People are running around looking for solar output changes (too constant) and ‘amplification mechanisms’ which they understand. Maybe none of that applies. It could be an inherent viscoelastic property of the atmosphere as a whole, or an important part of it that regulates temperature.

    If the Max Tan Delta condition arises with a forcing frequency of 13 years, it only needs to happen once, not a bunch of times in a row. If the response delay (Tau) is 13 years, so the forcing matches the delay, the spike is invoked. That should be easy to show, I think.

  83. “””””….. Greg Goodman says:

    July 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm
    …………………………………..
    “Emergent climate phenomena exhibit hysteresis, which shows that they are not feedbacks,”

    Er, sorry. Hysteresis is the result of a positive feedback bounded by a stronger negative feedback. It causes latching to one state or another. You rightly say TS exhibit hysteresis but that does not mean they are not exhibiting feedbacks themselves (they are) and it tells us nothing , one way or the other, as to whether they are acting as a feedback on regional climate……..””””””

    Well hysteresis is used to describe quite a few things; but I can’t say I have encountered it with regard to “feedback systems.”

    The classic case of “Hysteresis” is the normal B-H loop of magnetic materials, as encountered in transformers and motors (any ferromagnetic machinery.

    If a previously quite demagnetized ferro-magnetic material has an H field applied to it, by means of coils or windings, carrying a current, the magnetic flux density B (tesla) increases roughly proportional to the magnetic field strength H (A/m), and H = B /mu (permeability).

    Eventually the relation becomes non-linear and B only increases slowly with increased H (mu drops).

    If the current and H is now reduced, down to zero, B does not go to zero again, but remains at some high value (permanent magnet).

    Ithe current and H is reversed, the “remanence” B value will stay high,until some negative H is reached, and B starts to decrease again rapidly., and eventually B goes to zero, and then increases in the opposite direction, repeating the above in reverse. A repeating cycle like this, drives the B-H values around a “hysteresis” envelope (curve), and the area of that hysteresis envelope directly represents an energy loss , which will manifest itself as a heating of the material.

    Well that’s a very Rube Goldberg description of “magnetic Hysteresis”, which is more a case of the retrace lagging (B-H wise) behind the forward trace trajectory)

    Mechanical engineers, will recognize that elastic materials (like steel), will also exhibit a hysteresis in their Hooke’s law forward and reverse cyclic behavior, when subjected to strains above the “linear range”

    The material can still recover (slowly) its former dimensions, so long as you don’t go past the “elastic limit”. Well once again a cheapie explanation, but MEs will know what I’m talking about .

    NO feedback, is involved, in either of these examples of hysteresis.

    I suspect that chem ees (I ain’t one) could tell us about hysteresis in some “reversible” chemical processes. (No I can’t).

    The governator (fly-ball) Willis described is likely non-linear; but nobody said control systems need to be linear. Often quite high end point non linearity, might be deliberately designed in, to ensure the regulator is always exerting control, even if weakly.

    “Bang-bang” systems, where the regulator loses positive control, at the end points can be nasty; and maybe not nice to be around either.

  84. The governor is an excellent example of a component of a feedback system. It isn’t the feedback. That is gotten by comparing the reference, input, and comparator output. You really have to consider the complete loop, gain, phase shifts, damping, hysteresis, etc.

    There are also first, second, third order feedback loops to consider. Specific characteristics might include anticipation, hard response limits (tumbling guards in a gyro), rate sensors. Spend a couple hours with a maritime gyro – or more than one since the Anschutes gyro, a free-floating ball, works nothing like a Sperry which typically was a gimballed gyro (there are solid state gyros now), and yet they are nearly identical, mathematically.

    Speaking of gyros – usage comes in to play. Autopilots on ships, my particular specialty, not only control rate of course change over the ground (ideally holding it to zero above a great circle), they hold a heading. On a 250K DWT oil tanker any rudder movement shows up in the fuel needed for a passage. The systems I worked with had nearly imperceptible rudder movement over several days sailing over a great circle track. Rhumb lines were not a consideration. A lesson learned from sailing ships’ captain’s disdainful command: “steer light, damn your eyes!”

    When I first moved to Seattle I often had occasion to go down to Ballard’s fish harbor and help fish boat crews repair autopilots, radios, radar, etc. (when I lived in California I spent summers in Acapulco doing the same). Some of these were stump simple commercial devices that had cat’s whisker wires in the gimballed oil-filled autopilot compass that would actuate a solenoid rocker device that would alternately cause opposing mercury switches to turn on which caused the autopilot rudder drive motor to spin up. A cable similar to a speedometer cable would provide negative feedback when the motor spun, and it in turn spun the compass, breaking the circuit for left and actuating the circuit for right rudder. Very non-linear, it had a dead-band 5 – 10 degrees wide, depending on how hard you wished the motor to work, and the motor was almost always turning one way or the other. Not a bad helmsman for a 100 year old crabber but pretty exciting when the speedo cable broke or wires to the mercury switches broke. It was augmented with LORAN and 10kHz Omega receivers and the occasional human hand on the wheel to correct tracking errors. Google Wood Freeman autopilot for a look at really basic non-linear feedback systems. The company I worked for in California used turn rate sensors and the used the gain of the rudder to establish the feedback phase and rate of change of rudder angle. Ours were critically damped to ensure least overshoot for heading recovery.

    My last autopilot project was for my Ercoupe airplane and was a marvel.

    All feedback systems need a reference and an error sensor (comparator) as well as input and output. Locating them without considering the entire feedback loop can be confusing. In the case of flyweights you need to consider pitch and roll for non-stationary systems, the non-linearity (cos error) and useful range before they hit the rail. This is critical in cruise crontrols where the engine has enormous HP for holding speed under load (up hill, into the wind, curves in the road), but nearly nothing under engine braking (down hill, trailing wind). Add in multi-speed auto transmissions and you have an exciting control system.

    Bleh – rambling, but fun to recall projects more than half my lifetime ago.

  85. Willis Eschenbach says:
    One that caught my eye was a “flyball governor”,

    Mark A says:
    Many people believe the term “balls to the wall” came from aviation,

    Yes, the term did come from aviation and it means full throttle. It did not come from the flyball governor.

    The term “balls to the wall” (the knobs on the throttle pushed all the way forward to the bulkhead or wall) should not be confused with the term “Balls out”, which did come from the flyball governor. When the weights or flyballs or “balls” are horizontal, (the balls are as far out as they can get), the engine is going as fast as it can, hence the term “balls out” means going as fast as possible.

    One has to do with throttle position, while the other has to do with speed.

  86. “””””…..Crispin in Waterloo says:

    July 28, 2014 at 8:43 pm

    @George e

    Thanks for reading through that. I know it was a bowl and a half but it needed to be complete as it is probably novel.

    The definition you provide is somehow not used as far as I am aware. Steel, which is a ‘Hooke’s law material’ certainly has viscoelastic properties so I can’t see how to separate them into two groups……”””””

    Well I’m not going to start WW-III over it. But if I hit a piece or steel (ordinary battleship plate) with a steel hammer, but not hard enough to deflect either beyond the region where Hooke’s law applies, both surfaces recover immediately, to their pristine original condition, just as they do if I apply the strain and remove it in a 10 minute sinusoidal cycle.

    And I said strain deliberately, because I can measure that; but I don’t know how to measure stress. Well I can calculate what I think it is, from the load applied.

    Kevlar fibers, are very strong in tension, but miserably weak in compression. If you try to use it for the longitudinal fibers in a fly rod (because it is very light for its tensile strength), the rod will break under modest load, due to failure in compression on the underside of the blank (while lifting that fish of a lifetime to the surface) Very high modulus carbon fibers do also, but not as bad as Kevlar.

    Boron fibers, on the other hand, are actually stronger in compression than in tension; something like 1M PSI versus 800 KSI in tension.

    I have always guessed this was due to the tungsten substrate in the boron fiber, which prevents the 45 degree shear failure in compression. That’s just a WAG, so I’m not advertising that yet.

    Me, I prefer S-glass fly rods.

    But I’ll take your word on visco-elasticity Crispin, since I ain’t an ME either. I’m just a first rung physicist.

  87. Greg in someways right, but its precipitation that dictates what grows where. Without that natural H20, nothing lives long. But in the dry outback, red soil denotes iron content. Some regions do not get any rain for years, and then big down pours, it is amazing. Seeds of plants and some amphibians come to life, germinate, flower and seed, in just a few weeks. The frogs lay spawn, and some live long enough to grow, then burrow down in the mud until the next downpour. Admittedly our soils suited native fauna and plants. Without a cloven hoofed native animal, unlike in America and other parts of the world, pastures have been improved or destroyed in some areas as some don’t suit the environment where there is heavy rainfall. That’s why you see most dairy lactating cattle nearer the coast. Sheep don’t suit coastal areas, they tend to get more worms and foot rot. They are lacking in Lime in some areas, and to add fertilizers such as Super phosphate, is a short term band aid. (Rock phosphate is natural) In fact, it kills micro soil bacteria, so natural fertilizers are now the in thing. Including adding more organic material, that feeds the micro-organisms, and helps to retain moisture. (Plough back stalks and roots after harvesting) Soil tests are now the thing, and one has to keep the ratio of calcium (lime or dolomite) and magnesium balanced. And the p.H slightly acid. Where I live on the Northern Tablelands, was once a huge volcano or volcanoes, and the lava extent was massive giving us basalt soils. But with heavy tillage, and no ground cover, these soils have become very thin top soils and eroded. We can’t be complacent in Australia because of our precipitation erratic patterns. Lamb is very dear to buy, considering we grow it here. I branched out and bought 6 lamb cutlets the other day. $17.00. They were on special too. Usually something like 32.00 a kilo.

  88. When the weights or flyballs or “balls” are horizontal, (the balls are as far out as they can get), the engine is going as fast as it can, hence the term “balls out” means going as fast as possible.

    Actually, balls out only indicates the limit of controlled speed has been reached. The engine can certainly go faster and that in fact often lead to going off the rails, another common term with roots in railroad history. A common cause for this is overloading a train for the route ahead. If load on all cars exceeds total braking power of all cars needed over the terrain profile expected the train will not be able to keep its balls tucked in. This kind of going off the rails happens even with Diesl/Electric trains as happened in San Bernadino, California some years ago.

    In the High Okanogan of Washington state there was a small town called Circle City that was a layover for trains coming down the grade from Molson, Washington. It was here on a 360º circle of tracks, that trains would stop to let their brakes cool before descending into Oroville, and continuing up the Similkameen River to Cawston, BC, or Wenatchee, Washington and beyond. The rail bed of the circle is still there (from Oroville to Molson, in fact) but the buildings (bars, hotel, school) and rails are long gone. Molson, once a ghost town, is seeing a renewal of population growth. It is said that the wheels would glow in the night as trains braked hard coming down the zig zag route from Molson. There was not enough engine braking to control the speed, rendering the flyball governor useless.

  89. “Bang-bang” systems, where the regulator loses positive control, at the end points can be nasty; and maybe not nice to be around either.

    This is actually what we called the Wood Freeman autopilot design.

    Electric blankets and home thermostats are examples of control systems are are not or are barely closed circuit systems. Electric blankets are not because there is no sensor in the blanket – it is in the controller and is a best guess of what the blanket is doing. There is a simple anticipation pre-heater in there to take advantage of the excess heat in the blanket.

    Thermostats (before digital) had anticipation built in in the form of a heat source that would heat the bi-metal temperature sensor. This allowed for efficient furnace operation where a great deal of heat is stored in the furnace while the burner is on and which would go up the chimney if the pre-heater in the thermostat didn’t cut off the burner well before the room air temperature accomplished the same. Digital systems like I worked with at Johnson Controls learn about building temperature response to energy input and outside/inside air temperature. The information is used to determine when to turn on the system prior to workers beginning their work day. It also anticipates when it can back off at end of shift.

  90. Forgot to mention in the case of the furnace the fan is controlled separately from the burner so that chest heat can be moved into the living space well after the burner has been extinguished.

  91. In all this back and forth over “speed governors”, I saw no mention of the fundamental controls concept of governor “droop”. If you have a single prime mover/generator supplying load, “droop” is set to zero. That means any variation in system speed will result in a throttle response necessary to restore that system speed. Add load to a synchronous electric power system and the prime mover slows, indicating “under generation”. The governor detects that slowdown and kicks up the throttle to restore (in the case of a U.S. system) 60 hz. In doing so, the generator matches generation to load.

    But what if you have a dozen prime mover/generators supplying that load? If their governors are all set to “zero droop”, at the first disturbance, they will all attempt to single-handedly restore synchronous speed and the result will be over-correction and instability. The system will swing wildly over and under-frequency until the prime movers are forced to shut down on over or under speed.

    The trick is to set all the governors but one in this hypothetical case to relatively high “droop”. Those machines are said to be “base loaded”. That means they will only respond slightly to speed variations. The one governor that is set at “zero droop” is called “the open governor” and the machine to which it is attached is the one that will “chase load”.

    The dance electric utilities perform each day is to bring up and shut down “base loaded” machines incrementally as anticipated load builds and wanes while simultaneously keeping enough “open generators” on line to handle short term load swings automatically. It’s a beautifully complex dance and every time you turn on a light or start up an electric motor, the music for that dance changes.

    The addition of unpredictable wind and solar generation horrendously complicates that utility dance because the utility must now chase not only varying customer load. It must also chase varying “renewable generation”.

  92. But what if you have a dozen prime mover/generators supplying that load?

    If you don’t have well defined scope of service areas and multiple responders can come on line simultaneously you have what we call a bad design. Well designed redundancy senses demand and commands appropriate response. Anything else is like the Bad News Bears where every kid is playing the ball and moving like a mob. Doesn’t happen with properly intelligent control systems.

  93. @George e

    “But if I hit a piece or steel (ordinary battleship plate) with a steel hammer, but not hard enough to deflect either beyond the region where Hooke’s law applies, both surfaces recover immediately, to their pristine original condition, just as they do if I apply the strain and remove it in a 10 minute sinusoidal cycle.”

    I have an example of the hammer and steel that is well known: the sinking of the Titanic. The direct cause was the ship hitting an iceberg and ripping open like a zipper along the riveted joints. The background explanation was that the rivets were made from steel slag and had wonderful and appropriate properties at room temperature. An impact of a high frequency (being hit by a hammer just as you describe) had a response (energy lost v.s. energy returned) with a low ratio (Tan Delta). However dropping the temperature of the rivet to 4 Deg C produced a completely different operating paradigm, something you did not anticipate in your example. That is the point of the climate response comparison.

    At 4 Deg C the energy returned by the rivet dropped dramatically because the material fractured when impacted. The concept of a steel rivet behaving very differently with a change of only 25 degrees was not yet developed. As you will know from reading, the climate is considered to respond in a predictable manner across a range of conditions, whether that response to forcing is logarithmic or linear of something else, it is assumed to be a continuum. Materials science shows this is almost never the case. In spite of the fact the atmosphere is made of ‘materials’ it is assumed not to have a property other materials do, namely a large change in the response to forcing that manifests only at a certain frequency of that applied forcing, in other words, a dynamic property related to frequency.

    Examine the assumptions behind arguments favouring a temperature response to an increase in forcing from GHG’s. They all assume some form of continuum with no exploration of dynamic phenomena. Yet the history of temperature, so far as we have been able to describe it, is replete with examples of highly discontinuous behaviours characteristic of a Max Tan Delta point of ‘the material’. We have no reason to assume that an atmosphere will not behaving as other materials do just because we breathe it or because it is big. Specialised knowledge of how ‘air’ behaves dynamically allows the creation of remarkable machines. For example 60% of the thrust of an SR71 Blackbird comes from the design of the intake of the engine, not the burning of fuel, as it captures and re-directs the sonic boom efficiently towards the rear. Such a feature is not discernible by examining at all levels, the physical properties and composition of air. It is a dynamic property.

    Global circulation models are based on ‘stationary physics’. So is the thunderstorm thermostat model, really. While explaining this to my wife over coffee at Timmy’s this morning, she immediately recognized that the atmosphere was a ‘material’ before I said so taking the wind out of my Big Insight sail. She said it was obvious. I think it is a mistake of omission to consider that the atmosphere will behave in the same manner under all conditions and frequencies of input, with the main modeling challenge being to get a handle on all of the ‘inputs’. It is not. The nature of physical reality is different from this simplistic expectation. The interesting Tan Delta points of extensive pieces of squishy materials come at very low frequencies, but come they do.

  94. Uffff. Fantastic piece by Willis. came to the comments section with the idea of congratulating him for it. Here I go:

    Thank you very much Willis, for an excellent article, very interesting and entertaining and which I fully support, entirely.

    But then I read the comments that were already here, and I need to add something more.

    I fully agree with your governor hypothesis, but like to many here, it took me long to actually understand what you meant by the difference between a governor and a feedback, despite I am a Telecom Engineer. And because I didn’t really understand what you meant, I disagreed with you in the beginning, And I know, after reading lots of absolutely excellent essays from you, that you are a brilliant fellow, with a logical mind and very methodical reasoning who are very rarely wrong about anything, especially if it is something close to your personal experience. So when I find myself in disagreement with you, I know it is very possible and probable that it is me who is wrong. But how can I find out what is it that I got wrong, unless I expose here my opinion, different from yours, for you or others to reply and perhaps learn from the exchange, or allow the corresponding clarifications? The fact that I have a different opinion does not mean that I am trying to lecture anyone, or that I consider myself superior in any way to the person I am disagreeing with. And if this is true for me, it is probably true for others. There’s no need to take it personal.

    Willis, if only you could understand some day that someone who disagrees with you and exposes his disagreement is not necessarily, and I cite several of your sentences in this thread, telling things “quite paternalistically”, or pretending to have “infinite wisdom”, and do not deserve some of your comments like “nit-pickers are out in force today”, “sick of folks blithely assuming”, “your pathetic attempts to prove it at my expense”, “busting me”, “pathernalistic admonition”, “go whimper about”, “want to lecture me”, “paternalistic didactic attempts to endlessly attack me in the guise of”. It is, in 90% of the cases, just people who need things to be clarified to them, because what one says is always clear for himself but not necesarily so for his readers and there are always better ways to express ideas.

    Someone here considered that he was being “bullied out” by the use of that language, and that was exactly my impression when I read the responses that you gave. Nobody here who has disagreed with your concept of what a governor is, has addresssed you in the way that you have replied to them, let’s just keep things calm and relax a bit. If you think that a guy doesn’t merit a response, don’t respond or respond with a link to previous explanations and that’s all that is needed.

    Sorry for the pathernalistic attempt to lecture you.

  95. Nylo says: “I fully agree with your governor hypothesis, but like to many here, it took me long to actually understand what you meant by the difference between a governor and a feedback, despite I am a Telecom Engineer.”

    Great, maybe you can explain what I’m missing. W seems very sure there is some fundamentally important difference that needs to be recognised but I don’t get what it is. If you have a better understanding maybe your explanation will click where Willis’ doesn’t.

  96. Willis: “And a governor is a system that controls the feedback, usually in the form of regulating the setting of the throttle, to maintain a system at a certain level.”

    So what is this “system” in climate? In Watts’ device it is a human machine constructed to achieve control of the control variable by applying a feedback to the energy input.

    Now I assume you are making a creationist argument, so what is it in climate?

    I would have thought that anything that happens as a climate reaction to a change in energy input and in turn affects the energy input, has to be a feedback in engineering terms. There is no governor “system”, just physical effects changing other physical variables. Whether it’s linear , non-linear, or inverse srq law, +ve or -ve, all physical effects can be expressed as a function or the “forcing” causing them. If they then turn round and modify the forcing that causes them ( directly or indirectly ) this is a feedback.

    I’m not trying to “school” you or take you for a fool. I think your personal experience and knowledge of tropical climate has brought up a significant and relevant point and I’m trying to reconcile scientific/engineering language with the way you are using the terms and understand the distinction you are trying to make when you say it is not a feedback.

    If it just boils down to saying that evaporation and convection are feedbacks and TS is a “governor” that uses those feedbacks, I don’t see that as being anything more than semantics and does not really change anything in the understanding of how TS stabilise tropical SST.

    Is your point that a governor “clamps” SST to a fixed value whereas feedbacks just reduce changes?

    What is it in the way TS affect SST that you see as NOT being a feedback? What are the essential TS effects that proves it is NOT a feedback but something else ( whatever we then call it ) ?

  97. Greg Goodman: “Great, maybe you can explain what I’m missing.”

    After observing one of the many such “governor” sessions I used mentally reducing his description to math, i.e., to something less impressionistic, as a subject to think about during a two-hour bike ride. That doesn’t mean I thought we had achieved a mind meld, but it seemed the attempt might move the ball forward. By the time the ride was over I concluded, perhaps erroneously, that any model of the system to be controlled, which would need to be part of the demonstration, would cause too much controversy to make the results a worthwhile contribution to the community. So I didn’t put anything on paper.

    I say “perhaps erroneously” because if Nylo does have the math in mind maybe sharing it would help other readers.

  98. George E Smith ; “Well hysteresis is used to describe quite a few things; but I can’t say I have encountered it with regard to “feedback systems.”

    One example I had in mind is positive feedback applied to a op-amp or comparator circuit.

    This will cause it latch up to one extreme or the other until the input drops significantly below the point at which the comparator would normally flip. This introduces a hysteresis into the response to the input.

    Another is Willis’ tropical storms. It takes a certain SST to trigger but once started, positive f/b amplify the effect running it up to a self continuing system, ultimately bounded by the stronger -ve feedbacks that prevent it reaching explosive proportions.

    Once underway SST will be cooled by the storm but can drop below the triggering level without the storm abating because of the +ve f/b. The latching and hysteresis is analogous to electronic cct.

  99. Joe: “I say “perhaps erroneously” because if Nylo does have the math in mind maybe sharing it would help other readers.”

    I’m not after some heavy maths derivation, just a verbal explanation of why the physics of TS is NOT a feedback. It looks like feedbacks to me. It seems that this must just be a case of different use of terminology. It is that difference that I’m trying to understand and clarify.

  100. Greg Goodman: “It seems that this must just be a case of different use of terminology.”

    Oh, I’ve taken it as given that what he means is something you or I would consider feedback. That’s why I see little point in discussing this at the terminology level. Everyone thinks his own definition is the correct one.

  101. Joe Born and Greg Goodman:

    I hope this helps.

    I understand Willis’ ‘governor’ to be a trip-switch. Normal feedbacks occur but when some criteria are reached then the ‘switch’ operates and an additional mechanism starts so the total system is altered. And the ‘switch’ may not be tripped back to cease the additional mechanism at the same settings as it operated.

    So, there are two systems; one with the additional mechanism and one without it.
    And each system has its own feedbacks.

    Anyway, that is what I understand.

    Richard

  102. @Wes Spiers

    This is great! And I thought no one was reading…

    “Pedantry is necessary in physics and often required for stubborn students who refuse to open their text book. Acceleration never results in force, centrifugal or otherwise. It’s force that results in acceleration.”

    The motion imparted by the rotation of the link causes the ball to accelerate away from the vertical axle. This is centripetal acceleration, yes? The link is mechanically attached to the ball so there is a pull exerted on the link by the ball as it is forced to change direction and remain ‘in orbit’. The pull opposes tendency of the ball to continue on its original tangent. I don’t think there is any doubt there is a force involved and it is centrifugal in nature; the function of a centrifuge takes advantage of this force which arises from centripetal acceleration.

    ” And besides, in rotational motion, there is no centrifugal force or acceleration.”

    There is both centrifugal force and acceleration involved in the elements of a system which rotates about a centre which can be witnessed by spinning up a flywheel until it explodes. The strain that causes this is the result of forces which are centrifugal in nature and which are induced by centripetal acceleration on its elements.

    Were this not so, it would not be possible to calculate the exact orbital velocity of a satellite whereby the acceleration due to gravity is exactly balanced by the centrifugal force ‘outward’ of the orbiting object. If the object were not travelling as quickly, say, stationary, it would be necessary to apply an upward force on it with, say, your hand, exactly equal to the force provided by the acceleration of gravity at that altitude (called the weight). The now stationary object, attracted by the acceleration of gravity, would continuously exert a force on your hand. If you throw it forward fast enough (horizontally) the centrifugal force substitutes the force provided by your hand. It the velocity is just right, the object will remain at the same altitude indefinitely as the centripetal acceleration provides the centrifugal force necessary to hold the object aloft.

    This generalization does not apply to Bizarro World which is cube-shaped and where different physics applies. (That is an anti-CAGW hint.)

  103. Crispin in Waterloo says:
    July 28, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    @Willis

    I have something to offer that you might consider an extension of your hypothesized tropical thunderstorm thermostatic control mechanism™ which I find very convincing. All of what follows is from the science of viscoelasticity.

    Suppose we experience a change in global or regional temperature, which, let’s suppose, has the form of a sine wave. There is a delayed cooling response by the atmosphere to an increase in temperature through the mechanism of thunderstorms and an increase in cloud cover, which I recall you showed kicks in about 8 months later.

    Thanks for that, Crispin. Let me stop you there because I think you’ve misunderstood me, and I’d like to clarify it..

    Emergent phenomena only operate in the here and now. They don’t operate on a daily or hourly basis. They are born out of current conditions, minute by minute, and when those conditions no longer hold, they dissipate and disappear.

    The main emergent phenomena involved are the tropical cumulus and buoyant thunderstorms. It is the timing of the emergence of first the cumulus and then the thunderstorms in the daily cycle that regulates the temperature. If the cumulus form an hour earlier, that makes a difference on the order of 400 W/m2 over that hour.

    So no, there’s nothing that “kicks in about 8 months later”. The action of those temperature control mechanisms is immediate.

    All the best,

    w.

  104. If SST is higher, TS starts (say) an hour earlier in the day and reduce the solar input 400 W/m2 over that hour. Less solar input reduces SST.

    In what way is that NOT a negative feedback?

  105. @richardscourtney

    “Normal feedbacks occur but when some criteria are reached then the ‘switch’ operates and an additional mechanism starts so the total system is altered. And the ‘switch’ may not be tripped back to cease the additional mechanism at the same settings as it operated.”

    I agree conceptually. My explanation above about inherent properties of a system (which I treated as a ‘material’) tries to show that there are special circumstances in which the switch is tripped, after which the return to baseline conditions (as we experience them) does not switch it back because the ‘frequency’ of the perturbing force is not exactly correct. This leads to a system temperature that can increase or decrease in steps, which can have an enthalpy change that is measurable and ‘permanent’. This very much goes against the radiative greenhouse gas argument where everything is seen to be taking place in an unaltering continuum of ‘smooth feedbacks’. Not only are step changes observed, both in heat content and temperature, there is really no physical justification for claiming they are forced by CO2, let along anthropogenic CO2 because they are not following the CO2 level. The correlation coefficient is terrible.

    Pumped at the ‘right’ frequency, a system becomes resonant and ‘flips a switch’ either up or down. Until the system is pumped (up or down) again at the right frequency, it remains in the flipped state. Maybe there are dozens of flipped stable states.

    The debate becomes literally a static v.s. dynamic view of the system’s properties. GCM’s calculate the change in a small volume per small unit of time, iteratively, based on the known physics. Fine, but doing that will not reproduce and frequency-based changes that are induced dynamically in the system as such changes do not arise from incremental change based on what happened a few minutes ago.

    There is a material called “D30″ which is rubbery and becomes hard if it is hit at the right frequency (half-wave speed of deformation). Calculating the position of and stress on each molecule each microsecond over a period of time during an impact will not reveal this Max Tan Delta property because it is not manifested except under particular E”/E’ ratios. A computer simulation would say it always acts like foam rubber which is not true. I now realize the modelers have a very, very long way to go before they can given us useful predictions of climate.

  106. Nylo says:
    July 29, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Uffff. Fantastic piece by Willis. came to the comments section with the idea of congratulating him for it. Here I go:

    Thank you very much Willis, for an excellent article, very interesting and entertaining and which I fully support, entirely.

    But then I read the comments that were already here, and I need to add something more.

    I fully agree with your governor hypothesis, but like to many here, it took me long to actually understand what you meant by the difference between a governor and a feedback, despite I am a Telecom Engineer. And because I didn’t really understand what you meant, I disagreed with you in the beginning, And I know, after reading lots of absolutely excellent essays from you, that you are a brilliant fellow, with a logical mind and very methodical reasoning who are very rarely wrong about anything, especially if it is something close to your personal experience. So when I find myself in disagreement with you, I know it is very possible and probable that it is me who is wrong. But how can I find out what is it that I got wrong, unless I expose here my opinion, different from yours, for you or others to reply and perhaps learn from the exchange, or allow the corresponding clarifications? The fact that I have a different opinion does not mean that I am trying to lecture anyone, or that I consider myself superior in any way to the person I am disagreeing with. And if this is true for me, it is probably true for others. There’s no need to take it personal.

    Nylo, Greg continues to bust me for not doing something that I’ve already done. There is no satisfying him. It is not that he has a different opinion. I’ve dealt with lots of folks with different opinions, I expect that and I have no problem with it … but if you think that’s Greg’s game, I invite you to reconsider that opinion.

    Let me review the bidding. Greg said:

    You keep going on about a governor not being a feedback but you seem totally incapable to saying what this key difference is.

    “Totally incapable” … that is not a “difference of opinion”, Nylo. That is an attack combined with a total misrepresentation.

    Now, to open the bidding, Greg had said

    A governor is a feedback controller, what is the distinction that you are trying to make?

    OK, fair question. To which I replied:

    Actually, you make the distinction quite neatly. A governor is not feedback. It is a system which controls the amount of feedback, which can be either positive or negative as needed … or in your words, a governor is not feedback, it is a feedback controller …

    Now, recall that this is Greg’s distinction, one with which I publicly agreed. A governor is not feedback. It is a specialized system which controls the amount of feedback, in Greg’s terminology a “feedback controller”, which provides either negative or positive feedback as needed.

    So I said yes, I agree, the difference is a governor is something that controls a feedback.

    Ignoring the fact that I’ve agreed with him, Greg has gone on and on, and now, all this way down the line, up jumps Greg and starts attacking me with the accusation that I’m “totally incapable” of giving him the “key distinction” between a feedback and a governor.

    I’m sorry, Nylo, but that’s not what you called a “different opinion”. That’s an ugly attack and a total misrepresentation, and it gets old real fast. Nor is this the first time I’ve gone through this kind of endless claims and accusations with Greg, without learning anything of value.

    You continue:

    Willis, if only you could understand some day that someone who disagrees with you and exposes his disagreement is not necessarily, and I cite several of your sentences in this thread, telling things “quite paternalistically”, or pretending to have “infinite wisdom”, and do not deserve some of your comments like “nit-pickers are out in force today”, “sick of folks blithely assuming”, “your pathetic attempts to prove it at my expense”, “busting me”, “pathernalistic admonition”, “go whimper about”, “want to lecture me”, “paternalistic didactic attempts to endlessly attack me in the guise of”. It is, in 90% of the cases, just people who need things to be clarified to them, because what one says is always clear for himself but not necesarily so for his readers and there are always better ways to express ideas.

    I agree wholeheartedly that in 90% of the cases that is true. And if you look at my responses, in those 90% of the cases I respond in kind.

    In this case, as I clearly show above, it is not true. In fact it is paternalistic nit-picking and an attempt to bust me and the other things I said. So no, I’m not going to pretend it’s a scientific exchange. When a man asks me a question and I agree with him, I don’t expect further accusations. When that happens, it means he’s one of the other 10%, that not-so-pleasant 10% which you yourself admit are NOT simply asking for a scientific discussion of the issues, but have an entire other agenda.

    Someone here considered that he was being “bullied out” by the use of that language, and that was exactly my impression when I read the responses that you gave.

    To “bully” someone you have to have some way to threaten them. “Give me your lunch money or I’ll do nothing” doesn’t work, you have to have a threat. But I cannot threaten anyone in any way. Not only can I not threaten them, I cannot interfere with them in any way either. I can’t stop them from saying whatever they want, whenever they want, and in as much detail as they want. No threat, no bullying.

    So when someone claims that I’m “bullying” them, in my book that is very revealing. It means they’re out of actual scientific arguments, so to try gain sympathy they’re claiming I’m threatening and bullying … and yes, you’re right in quoting me, I do call that pathetic whimpering a tactic to try to gain support. And given your response, it is a successful tactic …

    Nobody here who has disagreed with your concept of what a governor is, has addresssed you in the way that you have replied to them, let’s just keep things calm and relax a bit. If you think that a guy doesn’t merit a response, don’t respond or respond with a link to previous explanations and that’s all that is needed.

    Here’s my problem, and if you have a solution I’m all ears. If I do what you say, if I let Greg get away with his accusations, people believe him. And if he repeats them enough, people start believing that I’m, in his words, “totally incapable” and all the rest.

    But when I stand up to that kind of attack, folks like you don’t like me calling a spade a spade. I kinda like your idea to just answer with a link, but that’s both vague and kinda wimpy. So I just tell the truth as best I know it, and I have to accept that not everyone will like it.

    I’m not sure if you can understand what it’s like to live a life out loud as I find myself doing these days. I’ve grown much more mellow over the time I’ve been doing it, but I won’t put up with attacks disguised as science.

    Finally, I do my best to try to discourage unpleasant behavior. Not always successfully. If you try this game, you soon find what I’ve found … I have no power. I can’t stop anyone from having their say. It’s the ultimate democracy, anyone is free to attack my intelligence, my morals, my ethics, my ideas, my past actions … and they do. I do my best to encourage people to attack my ideas, that’s the heart of science. And I do my best to discourage personal attacks on my intelligence, past actions, and the like.

    All I have to defend myself and discourage the personal attacks are my words. And so I will, for example, describe a person who claims that I’m “bullying” them as whimpering to try to gain sympathy. I’m not a bully in any sense, NOR CAN I BE, because I have no threats that would make it possible to bully anyone. So I use my wit and my words instead. If you have a better way to discourage that kind of pathetic play for sympathy, or those kinds of personal attacks, let me know.

    You may not like the way I do that. But I learned early on, no matter what position I take, someone will tell me I’m wrong. Heck, some positions that I take, half the commenters tell me I’m wrong … and the other half just as strongly say I’m right. So all I can do is tell the truth as I see it.

    Nylo, I regret that Greg has fooled you in this, but I assure you that I can tell the difference between a “different opinion” and an attack based on a misrepresentation. I’m happy to discuss the former, and not interested in people who tell me that I’m “totally incapable”.

    Finally, my thanks to you for your comment regarding the head post. Knoxville was a good and interesting place to visit, I wanted to do it justice. Please bear in mind that the man who wrote the head post is the same man who told someone to stop whimpering about being “bullied”… I’m a complex man, neither good nor bad. I’m not politically correct, I don’t bow to the consensus, and if someone attacks me, I tend to defend myself.

    And if you read over my work, you will find that I give like for like. People who put out scientific ideas and questions and comments and reasonable objections get the same in return. People coming in to attack me get the same in return. Perhaps someday I’ll be totally enlightened and just let people attack me … until then all I can do is call it as it happens.

    Your comment, as always, is appreciated.

    w.

  107. I apologize for using the word “bullied”. “Blustered” would have been more appropriate.

  108. Disaster preparedness is something critical, but in a bit of irony another blog suggested people move to the Pacific Northwest since global warming will affect it the least. Perhaps, but you have the 9.0 earthquake about due (which will lower the coastal land more than the sea might be raised), and some volcanoes – Ranier will pull a St. Helens some day. After the megaquake it should be safe enough to rebuild on the new coastline away from the volcanoes.

  109. “””””…..Crispin in Waterloo says:

    July 29, 2014 at 7:39 am

    @George e

    “But if I hit a piece or steel (ordinary battleship plate) with a steel hammer, but not hard enough to deflect either beyond the region where Hooke’s law applies, both surfaces recover immediately, to their pristine original condition, just as they do if I apply the strain and remove it in a 10 minute sinusoidal cycle.”

    I have an example of the hammer and steel that is well known: the sinking of the Titanic. The direct cause was the ship hitting an iceberg and ripping open like a zipper along the riveted joints. The background explanation was that the rivets were made from steel slag and had wonderful and appropriate properties at room temperature. An impact of a high frequency (being hit by a hammer just as you describe) had a response (energy lost v.s. energy returned) with a low ratio (Tan Delta). However dropping the temperature of the rivet to 4 Deg C produced a completely different operating paradigm, something you did not anticipate in your example. That is the point of the climate response comparison……”””””

    Well, I would caution against asserting “what I did not anticipate” in anything I write.

    One thing I have learned, is that no matter how much detail, I put in ANY writing, I can always anticipate, that somebody will “assume” that I did not anticipate whatever is bugging them, since that is not included in my writing. But no, I didn’t think it worth mentioning that the Titanic was sunk by bad climate; whether true or not. And my example of hammer and steel, was nothing more than applying a compressive force to both surfaces, well within the limits of Hooke’s law linear elasticity, but doing so in a fraction of a second. The fact that it rings like a bell, is prima facie evidence, that the materials are operating completely within the linear elastic range.

    Now with a lead plate, it wouldn’t ring as nicely.

    I could simply just state my position, and leave everyone to falsify it on whatever ground (s)he wants to.

    But back at your Titanic; a correct cause, but an incorrect analysis.

    The failure of the Titanic steel plates, had nothing to do with anyone hitting a rivet at 4 deg. C. As I recall, the ship’s rivets were all in place before the ship left port; so nobody was doing any riveting when the ship struck the iceberg.

    The Temperature induced failure of the steel plates, was entirely a consequence of the binary alloy phase diagram. That would be the Iron (Fe) / carbon (C) binary phase diagram.

    You can look for it in : ” The Constitution of Binary Alloys.’ Volume one, on pages 353-365.McGraw Hill. It is by far the longest entry in the entire set, as the Fe-C phase diagram, is just about the most complex one that exists. Certainly the most studied.

  110. As someone who has designed and worked with highly sensitive control systems I have no problem with the way Willis has described the process. I don’t expect lay people to get their heads around the minutia of open loop let along closed loop systems while avoiding unarguably benign discrepancies in esoteric terms. It might be best for folks to think of feedback in terms of sign, magnitude, and phase rather than trying to pinpoint a specific mechanism. Unless you can intelligently discuss poles and zeros on a Nyquist diagram a bickerfest regarding system response is probably best avoided. The flyball description was completely adequate for the purpose of the article.

  111. @ Crispin in Waterloo
    “Centifugists” are in good company. Newton himself, in his 20’s, started out thinking that way. It was only after he was older (and wiser?) that he realised his mistake. Some say Hooke tipped him off, but Newton denied this, vehemently. In fact, it was Newton who coined the term “centripetal”. You can read all about it in Newton’s book “Philosophae Naturalis Principia Mathematica”. If your Latin is up to it, you can read it in the original. My Latin is a tad rusty, so my copy is an English translation.
    To save time, I again urge “centrifugists” to get hold of their kids’ physics textbook. Halliday, Resnick and Walker have nice coloured diagrams in their treatment, and Giancolli issues the following Caution: “There is no real centrifugal force” and shows a diagram of what happens “when the string breaks” and also mentions that sparks fly tangentially from the edge of a grinding wheel.
    Then there is the magnificent “khancademy.org” which is doing it’s best to put all science teachers out of work.

  112. dp: ” Digital systems like I worked with at Johnson Controls learn about building temperature response to energy input and outside/inside air temperature. The information is used to determine when to turn on the system prior to workers beginning their work day. It also anticipates when it can back off at end of shift.”

    Apropos the the nomenclature discussion: There are no doubt circles in which the feature described in the just-quoted passage, too, would be called “feedback.” Yet I had clients who referred to the analogous approach in disk drives as “feed-forward.” I find that nomenclature prejudices depend heavily on the context in which the user first heard the term. Although nomenclature matters, it is more important that people define the way in which they use terms than that they choose terms others may consider correct.

    This difficulty doesn’t just afflict discussions of feedback, of course. A not-insignificant contributor to the errors Robert G. Brown made here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/01/24/refutation-of-stable-thermal-equilibrium-lapse-rates/, for instance, arose from a failure to keep track of the “temperature” definition he was using.

  113. @Crispin in Waterloo
    “I” before “E”, except after “C”.
    Spiers, not Speirs. :-)
    Greetings from Toronto

    [Except in “Caneida”, as in “neighbor” and “weigh”. 8<) .mod]

  114. @George e

    >Well, I would caution against asserting “what I did not anticipate” in anything I write.

    I agree with you there. Sorry if brevity and the need to earn a living weakens my thoughts though usually I am not accused of brevity.

    >One thing I have learned, is that no matter how much detail, I put in ANY writing, I can always anticipate, that somebody will “assume” that I did not anticipate whatever is bugging them, since that is not included in my writing. But no, I didn’t think it worth mentioning that the Titanic was sunk by bad climate; whether true or not. And my example of hammer and steel, was nothing more than applying a compressive force to both surfaces, well within the limits of Hooke’s law linear elasticity, but doing so in a fraction of a second. The fact that it rings like a bell, is prima facie evidence, that the materials are operating completely within the linear elastic range.

    Yes it is. Something I had trouble with conceptually when looking into this (and I am sure as heck no expert on materials except maybe how to cut them) was the idea that an impact has a ‘frequency’. That was not intuitive. Fortunately I have a genius standing by to assist and one of the white boards in my office is covered with charts of T plotted on E':F axes with little notes and arrows. It is interesting that when a metal, vibrated at a particular frequency starts to operate in a non-elastic manner, across a narrow band. Apparently this is not a very predictable phenomenon and that is why the DMA was invented to look for them. I also did not know that a creep test demonstrates the same effect. I think these materials guys want to take over the world.

    >Now with a lead plate, it wouldn’t ring as nicely.

    Well, perhaps at a certain frequency it would ring really well – even if you demonstrated a tendency to dampen vibration, there are frequencies at which it suddenly stiffens and refuses to cooperate/behave. The ‘property’ of dampening ‘naturally’ disappears for a while.

    >But back at your Titanic; a correct cause, but an incorrect analysis.

    Great – I love to read alternative ideas.

    >The failure of the Titanic steel plates, had nothing to do with anyone hitting a rivet at 4 deg. C. As I recall, the ship’s rivets were all in place before the ship left port; so nobody was doing any riveting when the ship struck the iceberg.

    Well that is certainly not what I saw in the programme dedicated to examining the rivets. These things were new at the time, made from slag. They quickly became unpopular. To our great fortune, one of the original rivets was sitting for a century on a desk in the USA and analysis showed that it had exactly the properties anticipated by the metallurgists: it changed in just the way they described when cooled, resulting in a very different behaviour compared with the ‘test conditions’.

    I have not researched the failure of the plates – didn’t hear of it – and while it certainly may have been an additive cause, the reports of survivors and the photos of the ship on the bottom do show the rivets ripped open ‘sounding like a zipper’. Can you tell from the pictures if that is true?

    >The Temperature induced failure of the steel plates, was entirely a consequence of the binary alloy phase diagram. That would be the Iron (Fe) / carbon (C) binary phase diagram.

    >You can look for it in : ” The Constitution of Binary Alloys.’ Volume one, on pages 353-365.McGraw Hill. It is by far the longest entry in the entire set, as the Fe-C phase diagram, is just about the most complex one that exists. Certainly the most studied.

    That is well known, I agree. As it happens, I have a First Edition McGraw Hill Mechanical Engineering Handbook which contains thousands of lost items such as the telegraph wire sizes stated in “Ohms per ton-mile”. I have a son with a Masters degree in using phase diagrammes to create new allows, in particular bulk glassy alloys – metals with no crystal structure – based on Yt, Bo and Fe. He predicted several and created one with a working temperature range of 111 C which was at the time more than 50% wider a range than any discovered to date. In that range they are machinable. My point is that even for the single property of being a bulk glassy alloy, having a good phase diagramme doesn’t give reliable results. As for latent properties that will appear under dynamic conditions, it is virtually hopeless. Even so there are many complicated diagrammes plotting all sorts of things to try to make the search easier. There are those who claim there is no such thing as a crystal-free metal! Skeptics are everywhere. Because they have no crystal joints they have tensile strengths of 3-5 GPa and very non-typical dead straight stress-strain plots. Like shape memory alloys, they find their way onto space craft.

    Can we get to the topic of something in the atmosphere being influenced by particular resonant frequencies that would cause a large jump in the effectiveness of a heat vent? I am trying to raise the point in principle and to provide enough info to stimulate thinking about it. I may fail of course.

    There is a centuries-long suggested relationship between solar activity and global temperature. A causal mechanism has proven elusive. Willis looked hard. If the solar cycle is long, happening to coincide with or directly caused by the decrease in activity, perhaps the atmosphere’s response to a 13-15 year ‘push’ is to open wide the parasol of cooling known as clouds. When pushed every 8-11 years the response may be to fold it away or just ‘do nothing’.

    I don’t mind being wrong – most paths do not lead to a viable light bulb. Inventors gotta try a lotta stuff. The solar system is full of resonances. Maybe the climate control knob has one too.

  115. @Wes

    @Crispin in Waterloo
    “I” before “E”, except after “C”.
    Spiers, not Speirs. :-)
    Greetings from Toronto

    Obviously not noted. I am trying too hard to get George e or anyone else to discuss frequencies. Maybe I can convince Tallbloke a frequency is a cycle.

    >[Except in “Caneida”, as in “neighbor” and “weigh”. 8<) .mod]

    OK that was funny.

    Do you know how Canada got its name?

    Explorer: "Greetings O native person!"
    Original resident: "How's it goin' eh?"
    Explorer: "What is this place, your great country that stretches from sea to shining sea, called?"
    Original resident: "Cnd."
    Explorer: "Huh? Cnd? How to you spell that?"
    Original resident: "Well, you just write, C eh? N eh? D eh?"
    Explorer: "Got it. Thanks."

  116. Having specified and purchased numerous “speed governors” over the years, mostly provided by the premier governor manufacturer in the world, Woodward Governor Company (Woodward, Inc), the package generally accepted in the industry as “the governor” includes a speed sensor (mechanical or electronic), a feedback package (either mechanical, pneumatic, hydraulic or electronic) that enables the user to adjust “droop” (feedback sensitivity) and an actuator to automatically effect throttle, steam valve, wicket gate or blade pitch movement in response to speed variations.

    That’s the package and that is what is generally referred to as “the governor”. Exotic enhancements can include overrides in the feedback loop to mitigate system upsets and instability of various defined origins. But the fundamental elements of a speed governor as defined by the industry include a speed sensor, a feedback mechanism and an actuator to effect speed correction.

  117. Willis says: “Now, recall that this is Greg’s distinction, one with which I publicly agreed. A governor is not feedback. It is a specialized system which controls the amount of feedback, in Greg’s terminology a “feedback controller”, which provides either negative or positive feedback as needed. ”

    I commented on how that last phrase was not what is meant in engineering and science by feedback and you reiterate it. So perhaps that’s where the problem lies.

    In control system a feedback is a proportion of an error signal that is applied back to the input. In a natural system, that I will assume has not been ‘designed’ it is a deviation in some physical parameter that produces a knock-on effect that in turn has an effect on the cause of that change.

    A negative feedback is one which opposes the change in the output or “control” variable.

    A positive feedback is one which acts to exaggerate the deviation or error.

    The former leads to stable, controlled systems, the latter (if unbounded) is inherently unstable and will lead to catastrophic change.

    So a control system will NOT apply “either negative or positive feedback as needed. ” It will always apply a negative feedback. The negative feedback will be a positive or negative correction, but it is always a negative feedback if it opposes the error signal.

    It seems that Willis’ governor is no different than anyone else’s governor which is a feedback control system. Apparently we are all agreed on that.

    The difference is that Willis uses the term feedback to refer to the actual instantaneous correction ( instantly positive or negative as needed ) rather than the conventional sense of a feedback: a linear or non-linear function of the error signal, which is a generalised property of the system, independent of any instantaneous values.

    So when Willis says he is “someone who holds that the climate is regulated not by feedback but by a governor system” it is simply that he is using those terms differently.

    He means that climate is controlled by what most people in engineering, science and climate modelling would call being controlled by a feedback.

    Tropical storms are “NOT a feedback” because what Willis calls a feedback is “either negative or positive feedback as needed” and is different from what most other people in engineering, science and climate modelling mean by the term.

    In conventional usage of the term, tropical storms provide a negative feedback that acts like a governor to stabilise tropical SST..

    Phew, it’s taken about two years to get there but at least we got there in the end.

    Now we’ve got that out of the way, perhaps we can concentrate on whether its effect on a regional scale is linear or non-linear and what this implies about sensitivity.

    I think it can be approximated as a strong linear negative feedback or possibly more accurately a non-linear negative feedback. The idea of a PID controller would be worth investigating in view of the apparent stability of the degree.days cumulative integral.

  118. @Greg, let’s just say, from my limited understanding, that when Willis says that it is not feedback, he means that it is something more complex than ordinary feedback. It is a kind of feedback that you cannot express with a simple ecuation or a simple factor. To describe it, you would actually need to describe it using different ecuations, that correspond to different “modes” of operation, the correct mode depending on the value of the signal, yes, but not in a linear, nor polinomial, nor logarithmic or exponential way, but perhaps in any of them depending on the circumstances. No matter the circumstance, there is always feedback, which is why I didn’t understand in the beginning Willis’ claim of it not being feedback. But the way the feedback operates, actually changes, and there are lots of thresholds affecting the “mode of operation” of the feedback. It is not one single feedback to apply to the signal no matter what. You cannot describe the feedback with one number or one expression as the IPCC tries to do. It is quite more complicated than that. This is what makes it a governor. The governor is made of the elements in the system that decide in which mode the feedback will operate at any one time.

    I hope Willis agrees with this descritpion, otherwise it would mean that I still have not understood the issue ;D

    @Willis, thank you very much for your kind words. it is for me a big honor coming from you. I see your point, but I still think that there was some kind of overreaction. As for a suggestion about how to respond to what one perceives as attacks, if anything, I would tell you to look at the way Leif Svalgaard deals with it, for an example. You will agree with me that he gets far worse attacks here than you do, his opinions are not exactly well received by the broad spectrum of the skeptics’ side of the debate. Yet, he seems totally unaffected by those attacks. All he will normally answer is something like “and you are still totally wrong”.

  119. Nylo says:
    July 30, 2014 at 6:10 am

    … @Willis, thank you very much for your kind words. it is for me a big honor coming from you. I see your point, but I still think that there was some kind of overreaction. As for a suggestion about how to respond to what one perceives as attacks, if anything, I would tell you to look at the way Leif Svalgaard deals with it, for an example. You will agree with me that he gets far worse attacks here than you do, his opinions are not exactly well received by the broad spectrum of the skeptics’ side of the debate. Yet, he seems totally unaffected by those attacks. All he will normally answer is something like “and you are still totally wrong”.

    Nylo, I do appreciate your most sage advice, along with your lucid explanation of my view on governors. I’ll study the manner of my good friend Leif as you suggest, he does have a manner about him. However, the idea that Leif gets attacked “far worse” that I do? I haven’t seen that. I get attacked for stuff I did a half century ago, I get attacked for my views on a host of non-scientific subjects … haven’t seen Leif subjected to that, although I could have missed it.

    Finally, I see Greg going on again just above about how a governor is simply a feedback … so if he is right, why is James Watts “flyball governor” not called a “flyball feedback”? Surely we have two names because they are not the same thing as Greg continues to insist, viz:

    So when Willis says he is “someone who holds that the climate is regulated not by feedback but by a governor system” it is simply that he is using those terms differently.

    He means that climate is controlled by what most people in engineering, science and climate modelling would call being controlled by a feedback.

    Greg was 100% correct, in my view, when he called a governor a “feedback controller”. A governor is a system which controls the feedback, and as such it is NOT the feedback itself. But now Greg appears to be disowning his own definition, and is giving us a new one, claiming that a governor IS a feedback, and what I call “controlled by a governor” should properly be called “controlled by a feedback” … James Watt would laugh to think that the governor controlling the speed of his steam engine actually wasn’t controlling it at all, it was “controlled by a feedback”.

    That propensity to move the goalposts is one reason why discussing science with Greg is generally somewhat less useful than discussing it with my cat …

    Best regards, and thanks for your comments, always interesting.

    w.

  120. Greg you are being a pedantic ass. The conversational use of many esoteric terms is looser than we might use in our engineering notes where ambiguity is not allowed. I don’t think anyone is confused by Willis’ choice of words, including you, and your putting a fine line on things is not improving the conversation. Not to mention you are being quite loose with your daffynitions. It simplifies to error detection and correction. It applies to the most sophicated inertial nav system and to the simplest meat-based system where the loop includes a teen-age driver on their first outing. That is what Willis correctly implies even if he leaves out the boring details.

  121. Nylo says : “But the way the feedback operates, actually changes, and there are lots of thresholds affecting the “mode of operation” of the feedback.”

    Thanks Nylo. Modelling individual storms from first principals would probably be near impossible with the current level of understanding. In particular cloud formation and precipitation are very poorly understood.

    What may be possible is a more accurate model of their effects en masse.

    If Willis is correct, timing is an important factor. This should be a function of SST and the geographic variability of STT ( hotspots large enough and hot enough to trigger a storm. ).

    There are several ways in which TS apply a negative f/b to SST: evaporation, convection and blocking incoming solar.

    Willis has suggested timing of onset as a key factor. I think spacial density is also important. It may be possible to find some datasets that could inform on those aspects. Willis did a fairly convincing proof of concept using satellite photographs of equatorial cloud formation about 2y ago IIRC.

  122. dp says:

    “Greg you are being a pedantic ass. The conversational use of many esoteric terms is looser than we might use in our engineering notes where ambiguity is not allowed. I don’t think anyone is confused by Willis’ choice of words, including you”

    Well if Willis wants to stand up and say in a fairly loud voice that climate modellers are missing some fundamental point about the effects of tropical storms ( which may very well be the case ) then I think it is rather important to clearly state in well-defined terms what he means.

    Willis seems pretty strong on “schooling ” everyone else , especially Phds and professional scientists but objects vehemently when someone dares to question what he is saying.

    I’m sorry but you have to be pedantic in science. Using “feedback” and “governor” colloquially so that no one knows what he actually means is not going to get anything except laughs and instant dismissal. That is why I have been trying to get to the bottom of what Willis means by all this.

    At one stage Willis was complaining that he did not accept that is was a _linear_ feedback per IPCC because TS were non linear emergent phenomena. Now it’s that a governor is not a feedback but a system which uses a feedback, but what “feedback” means seems to have become rather unclear.

    Perhaps part of the problem is using English to describe it. Maybe a few equations would make it explicit what he is proposing.

  123. “Greg was 100% correct, in my view, when he called a governor a “feedback controller”. A governor is a system which controls the feedback”

    Just saying TS is NOT a feedback , its’ a “system” using a feedback does not seem to add anything useful to the discussion nor does it increase understanding nor indicate what is wrong that should be done otherwise and what that may look like.

    What is it that you see as being wrong and how would that be changed by calling it a governor?

  124. Another example of natural emerging phenomena (it is all around us in varying forms) can be seen in any river with a natural bed. In a flood the river will carve a new path which changes the length of the river. River length is not an accident, and the river will immediately begin carving meanders to restore the length to a natural state. Meanders are a natural emergent phenomena to control rate of flow for a given grade. Another is seen in various life forms converging on Fibonacci’s number. Not all emergent phenomena become components in a feedback loop outside the evolutionary path those life forms follow.

  125. Perhaps part of the problem is using English to describe it. Maybe a few equations would make it explicit what he is proposing.

    The problem is you are both describing certain components (and not necessarily the same components) of the system and not the complete system and so the entire conversation is incomplete. Accept that as best effort in a constrained conversational venue and move on.

  126. @dp

    >Another example of natural emerging phenomena (it is all around us in varying forms) can be seen in any river with a natural bed.

    I recall reading about the physics of that in the 60’s IIRC. The energy needed to straighten and maintain straight a serpentine path comes from the fall of the water.

    My mathematician friend the late David R Garcia told me that when something looks chaotic and or unpredictable, it may reveal itself to be, upon close inspection, simply following a ‘lower level of order’. The (I think premature) conclusion that El Nino’s and La Ninas are basically unpredictable seems to be based on the fact no one can demonstrate a cycle in them, nor a causal (coincidental) mechanism that holds up for extended periods of time.

    Using FFT or SFT cannot, in principle, find a Max Tan Delta unless you first a) suspect there is one and b) look for it in a way that is able to find it. It is not by testing various frequencies against the feedback or cause. It is by testing a single input frequencies, one at a time, against the outcome and separating things according to temperature because the manifestation of the effect (Max Tan Delta) only occurs at unique Temp/Freq combinations. I was surprised to learn that materials that will be used at room temperature can be tested at -80 C and the effect predicted for a different temperature, with an accurate frequency given (at a temperature super position). That didn’t make intuitive sense as I am aware that materials change a lot when cooled that much. Anyway, that is what they do with DMA’s.

    If the atmosphere as a whole (in combination with the oceans) is operating in a viscoelastic manner, using one Temp/Freq combination (and a description of the effect) one can predict other temperatures and frequencies at which it will also emerge. Solar input varies over a range of frequencies, and because there is a general claim made repeatedly that ‘it’s the sun wot dunnit’ it is a strong candidate to examine first for a sign of a VMTD. There are hints throughout the literature that tend to support such a leap.

  127. “That propensity to move the goalposts is one reason why discussing science with Greg is generally somewhat less useful than discussing it with my cat …”

    That must make you cat a perfect peer review recommendation for you hypothesis.

    Funny you should mention goal-posts. Perhaps you should look back at the various morphs of ‘its not a feedback it’s a governor” has gone through.

  128. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/21/dehumidifying-the-tropics/

    “Clouds are not just simple feedback, they act as governors, applying both positive and negative feedback in response to different situations. ”

    Seems the misunderstanding of what feedback means goes way back. I did not notice before.

    “And other research of mine has shown that in general clouds cool the earth in the summer and warm it in the winter. ” Yes, Wiilis, that is what is called a negative feedback. One that opposes the change whichever direction it takes.

    “Again, the clouds are not a feedback but act as a governor, tending towards a homeostatic state.” Yes Willis, that is what happens in the presence of a negative feedback. -ve f/b can go up as well as down depending upon the direction of the change that is causing them.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/28/tao-rain-sea-and-air-data/

    • This ability to drive the surface temperature well below the normal temperature is the sign that the thunderstorms function as a governor, rather than as a feedback.

    Here it is the overshoot that is claimed to prove it’s not a feedback but a governor. So this is different from the current claim that a governor is a “system” that controls a feedback. There go the goalposts again.

    To which I remarked:
    March 28, 2013 at 2:10 am
    More interesting finds Willis. Nice digging.

    “thunderstorms function as a governor, rather than as a feedback.”
    You may or may not be right about this but in order to have any meaningful discussion or for that conclusion to mean anything and be useful you need to define what you mean by both terms.

    To which Willis replied:
    “Interesting point, thank, Greg. Yeah, I have a post half written on this question.
    ….
    With simple linear negative feedback, a system can never be driven past its starting point. ….With a governor, the system can be driven past its starting point. To control a lagged system like a house or the climate, where things take time to heat up or cool down, such “overshoot” is necessary.”

    So now it’s the overshoot and the non linearity that defines the difference. Not that a governor is a “system controlling a feedback”.

    My concluding comment at that time was:
    “So in conclusion, I think Willis is correct with his tropical air-con governor as far as tropics are concerned. On the face of it I don’t see this as being incompatible with that mechanism being a simpler negative feedback on a global scale.”

    That did not solicit any further comment and seems to be the last time we had a civil exchange on the subject.

  129. The governor got its name from how it was used. One was instructed to adjust the governor as needed because it was the obvious device to govern the speed error of a steam engine (the course speed being set by the throttle position, steam pressure, and load and then the governor flyballs being set to about mid-range). One did not speak of adjusting the loop gain and phase angle because they didn’t think in those terms. The result of adjusting the governor is not different than adjusting the loop gain. Railroad engines actually had a control to adjust the steam valve timing relative to the piston which was a form of optimizing the phase of the feedback loop. It compensated for standing waves and friction in the steam path. The governor compensated for changing speed about a point caused by e.g. varying load (grade) and steam pressure (low water, fireman falling asleep, blowing the whistle).

    On steam ships and particularly side and stern wheel vessels the governor would govern engine speed when the wheels were tormented by storm-tossed seas. On airplanes they are used in pitch control systems for the propellers. Other feedback systems keep propellers in synch to eliminate the engines throbbing out of synch. There was a time when speed controllers in cars had a sensitivity control as well as a speed control. The sensitivity control allowed the system to keep a light foot on the throttle on twisty roads or to dial up the gain to hold perfect speed on long flat stretches of road. That is equivalent to adjusting the ball height in a flyball governor.

    In electronic devices the governor et al is known as automatic volume control, or automatic frequency control and are not far removed mathematically from Willis’ handsome flyball governor. In audio it would be a mic compressor and in single-sideband radio transmitters it would be AGC, or automatic gain control. All so named by usage and not by what comprises them. It is said marriage has a taming effect on men causing them to live longer than their single counterparts. That is a domestic closed loop system.

    They all work the same. There is input, there is output, there is a reference, and there is an error signal. There is a variable gain component, and there is a phase relationship. In domestic closed loop systems be cautious of relationships regards loop stability. Pragmatically, there is also dynamic range beyond which control is lost. Don’t be too hung up on terms.

  130. @dp, in climate, in the “thunderstorms acting like a governor”, the signals are the incoming solar radiation and the temperature, but the feedback of the system (which acts by affecting both of them, the incoming radiation by the creation of clouds, and the temperature by the evaporation rate) depends on several other things as well, like wind speed, or the integral of the temperature (how much time it has been having a temperature over some range, i.e. for how much time clouds have been growing).

    I’ve never liked the comparison of this governor with the speed control of modern cars. This speed control is IMO not worth calling a governor, the feedback is a simple function of just one parameter, the speed: more speed, less gas, and less speed, more gas. Simple negative feedback. I prefer to compare it more to the gear control in automatic cars. The car will select the gear not based only on your speed, but also on how strong you put your foot on the gas pedal (i.e. how much power the central unit thinks that you want to have), whether you are going uphill or downhill, and even if you are not touching the gas pedal, it will use one gear or another based on whether you have recently used the brakes or not. There are lots of conditions that affect the output, the power delivered and/or the wheels retention by the engine, through gear selection.

  131. Sorry, sent the message too early, let me continue.

    My point is that if you tried to guess how much power I have had delivered by my car’s engine based solely on what was the average speed that I kept, you would not be able to. It depends on many more things. Using one driving style or another, I can get quite different mileages per gallon of fuel from my car for the same average speed. It can change up to 20%, I repeat, for the SAME AVERAGE SPEED and the same circuit. So making up a parameter that supposedly tells me how much mileage my car will get in the future based on its speed, is absurd. The feedback is more complex than that. And in a similar way, trying to get at a parameter that tells me how many clouds there will be in the future blocking sunlight based on average temperatures is equally nonsense. For roughly the same average temperature, you can have totally different cloud covers.

  132. My point is that if you tried to guess how much power I have had delivered by my car’s engine based solely on what was the average speed that I kept, you would not be able to.

    I have questioned the energy budget of Willis’ emergent phenomena but that is an entirely different question vs his usage of terms discussed here. That issue brings us back to closed loop system analysis where accidents don’t happen, and where absolute numbers matter. I don’t recall from reading Willis’ paper any supporting data so I accepted his paper as being a notion of what may be at work and not a claim of what is at work. It is a valid concept that needs a proper energy analysis. I’ve lived in the tropics and I know about the weather cycle. I’m even willing to accept it is plausible that cloud generation can limit insolation at the surface because I’ve experienced it. A tropical downpour can be damn cole. Whether or not that affects albedo enough to not just negate but reverse insolation heating I can’t say.

    Your statement above has put the cart adjacent to the horse. We don’t design closed loop systems first and then use their performance metrics to calculate the drivers. It isn’t impossible to solve your power riddle by going backward in design evolution from a successful design, but it is necessary to have more information than you offer and it is unnecessarily ugly to do so. In fact designing forward requires knowing more than you offer. Your point is invalid.

  133. dp

    Your comment provides the appropriate analogy.

    “It isn’t impossible to solve your power riddle by going backward in design evolution from a successful design, but it is necessary to have more information than you offer and it is unnecessarily ugly to do so”

    In a car the automatic transmission controller uses not only the foot throttle position, but its rate of change in order to interpret how and when to kick back a gear to increase acceleration. Pushing it incrementally gives a different response compared with pushing it suddenly half-way to the floor – at least it does in cars with computer-controlled drive-by-wire systems. In other words, the engineers ‘thought of that’.

    If you were trying to work out how the computer controlled the transmission by examining the input-response curve, you would not get the whole picture by pressing it slowly and watching the response for the simple reason that the rate of input change is a parameter that affects the result.

    This is getting easier to explain as the conversation continues. A high rate of change (for example) from a forcing (from any source) can drive emergent phenomena that will not appear at a low rate of change.

    Another example is trying to inflate a tire loosely on a rim with a hand pump. After watching someone huff an puff, an observer might conclude that the tire is not inflatable. But if the tire is inflated rapidly, it inflates a little and then self-seals to the rim and thereafter will inflate fully with a small hand pump. An impact of sufficient force and rapidity (frequency) will break the seal and the tire will return to its former deflated condition. These are two step changes that are not always apparent by examining at and even testing the system under controlled conditions.

  134. @dp, it is necessary to have more information than you offer and it is unnecessarily ugly to do so. In fact designing forward requires knowing more than you offer. Your point is invalid.

    DP, you have used a long post to explain how you cannot solve my power riddle, and then say that my point is invalid. How can it be invalid, when what I have said is precisely that the power riddle cannot be solved? Of course I know that you cannot simplify the way it works as if it were through some feedback parameter which is a function of some data in particular (temperature in the case of climate, or avg speed for my example), because the feedback depends on more parameters and in a more complex way. There was no riddle, I wasn’t trying to compel anyone to solve a difficult problem, I was asserting that it is not possible to resolve it. That’s what the analogy pretended to reflect, that you cannot “solve” the climate feedback as a function of the average temperature alone either.

  135. If that was your point regards climate then I missed it. I’ll re-read it again. I would limit my agreement with that to it being highly improbable that the climate problem can be exactly solved rather than saying it is impossible to solve. We don’t know (yet) the unknown unknowns. That may change and in any case the answer will be a probability though a more refined probability than anything we have today.

  136. willis: If you’re coming via the inside passage, and aren’t yet South of the 49th, wave as you pass by Salt Spring Island. Please have a safe trip! Enjoy!

  137. John West says:
    July 28, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    Wes Spiers says:
    “there is no centrifugal force”

    Tell that to a coffee cup sitting on a dash when a curve is taken a little too fast.

    The cup is trying to continue in a straight line. You and your car are trying to change its vector. Is inertia centrifugal?

    • “Inertia” is a rather old-fashioned term that has no place in the analysis of Newtonian motion. It is not a force, nor an acceleration. So it is neither centrifugal nor centripetal. It is really only a one-word statement of Newton’s first law viz: “a body continues in a state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless acted on by an external force.” Or poetically: “A body’s inclined to rest all the time, or travel with uniform motion, ’til due to a force of external source, it’s given a different notion”
      The first part i.e. a body stays at rest unless acted on by a force, seems obvious. Why else would it move?
      The second part, however, was a stroke of genius. Nowhere on Earth had anyone ever witnessed a body continuing to move at a steady speed without eventually slowing down and stopping. It took Newton to realize, that if it were not for the invisible force of friction, it would never stop.
      This discussion is making me relive the years I spent trying to teach students how to solve dynamics problems. I thought I was retired!
      Read your textbook!

  138. Knoxville, like East Tennessee generally, was pro-Union during the Late Unpleasantness, as was East Kentucky, NE Alabama, of course West Virginia and Appalachia overall. As such, it would be less likely to feature Civil War (a misnomer) heroes on its square. Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s second Veep, on the pro-Union fusion ticket, was the only Southern senator to remain loyal to the Union, hailed from Greeneville, where a convention was held to form the state of East Tennessee and secede from the CSA.

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