As if we didn't know: SIDC issues "all quiet alert" for the sun

From SIDC (Solar Influences Data analysis Center):


Belgium expects quiet Space Weather conditions for the next 48 hours or until further notice. This implies that: * the solar X-ray output is expected to remain below C-class level, * the K_p index is expected to remain below 5, * the high-energy proton fluxes are expected to remain below the event threshold.

They should have also added…”Have a nice weekend!”

The monthly sunspot numbers are low, really low:

200801  2008.041     3.4 *   4.2 *

200802  2008.123     2.1 *

200803  2008.205     9.3 *

200804  2008.287     2.9 *

200805  2008.372     2.9 *

200806  2008.454     3.1 *

200807  2008.539     0.5 *

And the 10.7CM radio flux is holding below 67.

h/t to Barry Hearn

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Leon Brozyna
August 1, 2008 5:48 pm

One teensy SC23 event for three days for the entire month and SC24 still a no-show. Things are getting a tad interesting. But I believe this is still within a ±6 month window for the predicted minimum. Now if the very undistinguished face of the sun continues for another year, NOAA/SWPC may find themselves tweaking their SC24 forecast. Time will tell…

August 1, 2008 5:59 pm

“And the 10.7CM radio flux is holding below 67”
When comparing the radio flux, you must use the ‘noon’ value [at 20UT] and, more importantly, the flux value ‘adjusted’ to 1 AU distance:
20080801 200000 2454680.322 2072.950 0066.1 0068.1 0061.3
The low value 66.1 is just because we are close to the Sun right now and is not intrinsic to solar activity,
REPLY: I mentioned the earth to sun distance as the reason for the lower than 67 flux last time I made a post on the solar flux. Perhaps you missed it.

August 1, 2008 6:11 pm

I just asked Leif over at CA how long it’s been since a cycle 24 spot has been seen and he said 87 days.
REPLY: As I understand it, the tiny tim spot on May 14th was not “official” and Leif confirmed that here.
So that puts the last official cycle 24 sunspot at April 13th, which is longer than 87 days, at 110 days from today.
87 days from now would be May 6th, 2008, so I’m confused where the 87 day figure comes from. – Anthony

August 1, 2008 6:23 pm

What does the 0.5 mean? Is that a weak sunspot — about half the intensity of a “regular” sunspot? — John M Reynolds

August 1, 2008 6:25 pm

REPLY: I mentioned the earth to sun distance as the reason for the lower than 67 flux last time I made a post on the solar flux. Perhaps you missed it.
No, I didn’t miss it, but I felt that you have to always use the adjusted value when talking about solar activity flux. Please.
REPLY: Not trying to be argumentative, simply curious. Why “but I felt that you have to always use the adjusted value when talking about solar activity flux.”
What is the rationale?

David L. Hagen
August 1, 2008 6:28 pm

Solar Cycle 24 website has interesting comparisons of sunspots against predictions. In 2008, five months have been below predictions and one month above.
e.g., June actual 3.1 vs predicted 5.7. The sunspots appear to still be trending lower.

August 1, 2008 6:30 pm

jmrSudbury: The sunspot number reported is a monthly mean, so if there was one day in a month with a single spot, the mean would be SSN = (30*0 + 1*11)/31 = 0.355. There are no fractional sunspots. The 11 comes from the sunspot definition formula 10*g+s, where g is the number of ‘groups’ and s is the number of spots, so with 1 spot in 1 group you get 11. On top of that there is a calibration factor to compensate for different size telescopes, personal acuity, and such.

August 1, 2008 6:37 pm

REPLY: Not trying to be argumentative, simply curious. Why “but I felt that you have to always use the adjusted value when talking about solar activity flux.” What is the rationale?
The rationale is that we are [presumably] talking about solar activity, not just a peculiarity of the observing platform [the Earth]. Imagine, that the Earth had a very eccentric orbit with the closest distance being only half of the farthest distance, then the observed solar radio flux would vary by a factor of four [twice more than the solar cycle variation]. Clearly, for that case, you would [should!] correct for the distance, so why not for any and all orbits, e.g. for the one we actually have, thus ‘always’.
REPLY: Ok thanks, that makes sense. When referencing “adjusted” data, it tends to make me cautious about it since we’ve seen so many seemingly biased adjustments from GISS. I just needed an explanation that I could reconcile and understand. Thank you for providing it.
So to clarify, the current recent observed values have been below 67, while the adjusted values have been above it. Interested readers should check the referenced 10.7 cm flux data set. -Anthony

David L. Hagen
August 1, 2008 6:38 pm

SolarCycle24 compares
Zero sunspot days by month for the current vs previous minimum. This is showing longer periods without sunspots now vs the previous minimum.

August 1, 2008 6:46 pm

Anthony: yes, I understand that ‘adjusted’ has acquired a bad ring, but in this case, the adjustment is for the better – actually necessary IMO, and is rational and not at the whim of anybody’s selection bias.
REPLY: I concur.

Robert Wood
August 1, 2008 7:50 pm

There are, beside the sunspot numbers, two other measures that I have seen recently.
1. Canadian (I think) measurements of 10.7MHz emissions are at an all time low.
2. The “conveyor belt” velocity has dropped (Can’t remember where I saw that but it was during the past week). (Hey, sorry, I surf at work, vey intermitently (please note boss), and post at home)

August 1, 2008 7:51 pm

There was a numbered SC 24 spot (10993) on the sun until May 4:
REPLY: Hmmm my mistake, I reported on its emergence in the SH, but not classification. I must have missed it becoming an official spot since I have no follow up post on it as being “official”.

Robert Wood
August 1, 2008 7:53 pm

Sorry Anthony, I should have read your post first. That’s 10.7cm wavelength, not MHz frequency.

Robert Wood
August 1, 2008 7:58 pm

You said:
The low value 66.1 is just because we are close to the Sun right now and is not intrinsic to solar activity,
So are you suggesting that the strength of the 10.7 cm signal would be greater if the Earth was further away? Inverse square law anyone???
I think you are encouraging me to be impolite, which I refuse to do.

Tom Klein
August 1, 2008 8:10 pm

I think that the length of Solar Cycle 23 -still ongoing – is probably better correlated to the climate, at least according to Friis -Christensen. Lack of sunspots – especially Solar Cycle 24 sunspots – indicate a slow transition to SC 24, or in other words a longer SC 23. Considering that the transition takes typically 12 to 18 months, we can be reasonably certain that SC 23 will be at least 12.5 years long, possibly longer. While 12.5 to 13.0 years is not an all time record for the Solar Cycle length, it is considerably longer than the average of 11 years, or the previous three cycles that were even shorter. With more attention focussed on the climate and better tools to measure it, we will be in a good position to evaluate the validity of Friis Christensen’s observation. However, I would not argue with anybody who would postulate that both lack of sunspots and long Solar Cycle are manifestations of reduced solar activity levels.

Robert Wood
August 1, 2008 8:14 pm

Sorry, just have to pass a meta-comment here.
The SIDC has just announced that the Sun is quiet.
Like, WOW, we didn’t already know? As Anthony’s headline headlines.
I think this web site has caused more people to watch every glytch, wobble and glimmer of the Sun than ever before. There are even possibly more people making direct observations of the Sun due to this site.
Thing is, with all us amateurs on the heels of the professionals, we can keep them honest.

August 1, 2008 8:22 pm

So, this is now officially the same smoothed length as Solar Cycle 20 (11 years, 8 months). One more smoothed month and it becomes the longest since Solar Cycle 13 (March 1890-February 1902). Four more smoothed months and it becomes the longest since Solar Cycle 9 (July 1843-December 1855). 10 more smoothed months and it is the longest since Solar Cycle 4 (September 1784-May 1798).
But of course, we all know Solar Cycle 24 will be a monster, all the more reason to repent. The sun being strong is a sign that it is more important than ever that we pay Al Gore due respect and do what he and his friends say, or else…..

August 1, 2008 8:34 pm

Robert Wood: Yeah, in my haste I had it backwards; we are farthest, not closest to the sun in July. My bad, a senior moment. The point still stands, that we should adjust for the varying distance.
REPLY: Hey Leif, don’t feel bad, I missed a counted SC24 sunspot event tonight! 😉 – Anthony

August 1, 2008 8:44 pm

And in other news….water is found to be wet….

Leon Brozyna
August 1, 2008 9:02 pm

Kudos to Leif and Anthony for demonstrating why this site has become so popular. No posturing, a clear and transparent demonstration of criteria used to make an adjustment, no flaunting of precarious egos.
As for the meaning of an increasingly quiescent star wobbling at the center of the solar system – only time will tell.

August 1, 2008 9:33 pm

Speaking of wobbles, Jennifer Marohasy contributor, Dr. Ian Wilson of the University of Southern Queensland, has written up a study of the Sun’s orbit around the solar system’s center of gravity, and makes a case for it being in direct control of Pacific Decadal Oscillation. (PDF here)
Should we be compensating the flux value for that wiggle also?

August 1, 2008 9:37 pm

I should have included a link to Jen’s place “An Alternative Explanation of Climate Change” – just in case you want to chew it over with Dr. Ian in the comments over there.

August 1, 2008 9:52 pm

That count of 0.5 smoothed spots for this month makes it the quietest month for solar activity since June 1954 (yeah yeah I know, Cycle 19 came). It is the quietest July for solar activity since July 1878. (I know that last one is less remarkable because this is only historical Julys and solar minimums are more selective and in shorter duration.)

August 1, 2008 10:02 pm

It’s quiescent, but we have a wobbly view of it.

August 1, 2008 10:13 pm

I look fwd every month or so to the latest updates from Jan Janssen’s spotless days evolution. It’s been very educational watching the discussion evolve.
The problem I have is that if temperatures stay more or less stable, but the sun dims more, then CO2 could be implicated more, not less. Same goes for a strong cosmic ray effect. Just b/c it’s there, or its effect might be larger than known, doesn’t mean it’s all good news. Average multi-month TSI has already fallen the equivalent of -0.1 degr C since circa 1992.
I think Lief made a glancing pass at this point last round, with respect to using climate as a proxy for all net solar effects. I get the same gist from Bruce West’s views on this.
Having said that, my reading of the current climate signature suggests to me a +0.135 degrC from CO2, which is being offset & kept zero sum by ongoing solar and aerosol dimming.

Tom Klein
August 2, 2008 12:25 am

you do not make clear it over what time frame did the+0.135 degree CO2 caused heating took place. You quoted TSI of -0.1 since 1992 My guess is – correct me if I am wrong, – that you covered the same time period. This works out 0.085 degree/ decade, or 0.85 degree/century. I have no problem with this number It could hardly be called catastrophic and certainly will not justify the drastic steps proposed. It will keep the climate nice and toasty – it is my preference anyway – and it will not cause significant sea level rise. As a side benefit it would delay or eliminate the threat of the next Ice Age. The problem with this scenario that it will not shut up the AGW crowd and they may be able to go ahead with their disastrous agenda. However, it is Pollyannish to think that the decrease of solar activity will save our society from making some bad decisions. If we do not want the AGW agenda to be implemented, we should use the tools at our disposal of which there are many. This website is doing an excellent job of scientific education, which is very important, but by no means the only tool that we should be using.

Jack Simmons
August 2, 2008 1:42 am

I didn’t know how to get this link to you, so I’m posting it here.
Perhaps you can start another thread dealing with the economic impacts we are already seeing from the CO2 hysteria.
I was up in Vail earlier this week when I ran across the above story in the print edition of the Aspen Weekly.
Now we have coal plant cancellations based on the premise the CO2 must be stopped at all costs. This is going to start having some big economic impacts on everyone as electricity costs go up.

August 2, 2008 1:57 am

Jack Simmons,
You can contact Anthony at info (at)

August 2, 2008 2:29 am

Anthony wrote:
“87 days from now would be May 6th, 2008, so I’m confused where the 87 day figure comes from. – Anthony”
Remember there was a tiny, tiny SC24 spot on May 4. So that may be the same one. I imaged that spot from my backyard:

Pierre Gosselin
August 2, 2008 5:34 am

Brauer et al. An abrupt wind shift in western Europe at the onset of the Younger Dryas cold period. Nature Geoscience, 2008; 1 (8): 520 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo263
One excerpt:
“At the same time, these new results show that the climate system is still not well understood, and that especially the mechanisms of short-term change and the time of occurrence still hold many puzzles.”

Pierre Gosselin
August 2, 2008 5:44 am
August 2, 2008 5:48 am

Tom Klein:
Ahhh, yes. It was midnight typing that did it…
Right, I get -0.0625/decade or there abouts for the solar dimming component. Ramanathan & Carmichael cite roughly a -0.07/decade for aerosols (longterm – without air-heating tropospheric soot). The two offsets come to -0.133/decade or -1.33/century. If temperatures remain steady then the CO2 signal might be the inverse sign of that figure.
Which, as you said, would hardly be catastrophic.
Seeing how the seas & air are *both* in a slight cooling trend – and *NOT* the case where the seas warm from sponging up heat from the air – while the sun has been slacking, I’d say it might even be a correlation worth considering. 🙂
Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Hansen’s “smoking gun” of an oceanic “pipeline” (also, “heat bucket”) was smoking in 1998. But was it from GHG or the sun? The ’98 el Nino would have reflected well-described 10-year lag of sea temperatures behind solar activity Prior to the ’98 el Nino the sun was at its most brilliant in millenia during the period of 1965 – 1990.
Although Lief suggests the solar flux during that period may not have been as great relative to the previous period (derived from proxy data), even his historical TSI shows the latter half of the 20th century as having higher TSI than before (see: ), and with the seas & air cooling what this suggests is a more sensitive climate overall.

August 2, 2008 6:30 am

It has been quiet for months to maybe a year!

August 2, 2008 7:05 am

papertiger: the Sun’s orbit around the solar system’s center of gravity, and makes a case for it being in direct control of Pacific Decadal Oscillation.
Should we be compensating the flux value for that wiggle also?

No, as the wiggle is purely fictive. It is not the Sun that moves, but the center of gravity that moves as the planets move around. So the distance between the Sun and the Earth stays what it is no matter where the other planets are [to very high precision – there are very, very tiny gravitational perturbations]. The easiest way to observationally [because I have found that many people cannot or won’t understand the theory] verify that is simply to measure the distance. The relative changes in TSI can be measured with amazing precision [0.007 W/m2 against a TSI value of 1361 W/m2 – that is 1 in 200,000], and measurements of TSI by SORCE shows that the observed values of TSI vary just as they should as if the distance between the Sun and the Earth stays what it is no matter where the other planets are. Here is a plot of the observed variation of TSI [black line] and what TSI should have been according to the barycenter people [e.g. here]. And here is their Figure 10 showing some predicted values of TSI if the Sun wiggled around. The red dots on the previous Figure show their predicted values. They do not match at all.

Evan Jones
August 2, 2008 7:29 am

Cold as stone, no contact known
You’re feeling it too, as thoughts decay.
The summer’s gone, the colour’s gone,
The sun has gone away

Evan Jones
August 2, 2008 7:32 am

The low value 66.1 is just because we are close to the Sun right now and is not intrinsic to solar activity,
I’m hooked on aphelion.

Robert Wood
August 2, 2008 8:46 am

Leebert, the argument that the global warming is happening but being countered by natural cooling perturbations works both ways.
I can just as well state that the warming we have seen is a natural phenomenon.

August 2, 2008 8:51 am

Anthony: yes, I understand that ‘adjusted’ has acquired a bad ring, but in this case, the adjustment is for the better – actually necessary IMO, and is rational and not at the whim of anybody’s selection bias.
Given the connotation of ‘adjusted’ here, I suggest using something like ‘normalized’ to make the point that the values have been adjusted due to the varying distances.

August 2, 2008 11:34 am

Robert Wood:
> I can just as well state that the warming we have seen is a
> natural phenomenon.
That’s completely true. I’d state it as a choice, so people can see: Here’s a case for a moderate CO2 signal, now here’s a case for a solar/ocean dominated signal. For me the jury’s still out either way, but the reason I cite the aerosol/TSI effect only is to demonstrate a far-less scary GHG-driven scenario.
I like to pose some what if’s here as well. The AGWers like to discount the GCR theory. But this would be an interesting what if: What if GCR flux really would contribute -3 watts/m-2 (about -0.75 degrC), but the temperature trendline only decreases by half that? It neither exculpates CO2 nor confirms the current AGWer belief that CGR effect is negligible.
Or how about the post-Pinatubo ozone layer damage, where the stratosphere cooled by almost -0.6 degrees Celsius (due to sulfates reacting with CFC’s)? That’s letting in 2 w/m-2 more UV-b than before – penetrating into the lower atmosphere – which will form both more surface ozone as well as driving extra warming of surface ozone. Large clouds of surface ozone (from human sources) notably accumulate in the Arctic: Wouldn’t it cause an enhanced warming effect in the springtime as when the seasonal hole in the ozone layer is greatest? Combined with sootfall in the Arctic, the two combined already exceed the effect from GHG. There are recent studies looking into surface ozone’s effect in the Arctic, but a post-Pinatubo UV-b increase effect hasn’t, AFAIK, been studied.
This is where the science should be more equivocal, IMO. There’s more at play than just CO2 although it’s certainly more persistent than other warming agents. But the hockey stick predictions have been premised on simplified models that just happened to match the accelerated warming of the 1990’s. It wasn’t like the alarmists modeled a system based on proven science that left the extra warming unexplained, they leapt right up to filling in the “unknown” with CO2.
Filtering out contributing variables via hiearchical linear regression modeling makes the most sense to me. Proxy the effect by the degree of correlation (sun, PDO, AMO, GHG), assign it a reasonable strength parameter, subtract the effects of the extraneous sources and look at the remaining signal.

August 2, 2008 11:37 am

Leif Svalgaard:
“No, as the wiggle is purely fictive. It is not the Sun that moves, but the center of gravity that moves as the planets move around.”
Can you clarify this please. I think this is wrong, byt there might be something I have missed.
If the solar system was alone in the universe, the solar system centre of mass would move in a straight line. The sun would wiggle around that. This is one of the methods of detecting extrasolar planets (using astrometry).
The sun clearly wiggles….

August 2, 2008 11:54 am

I once thought a very weak Cycle 24, like a hybrid between Cycle 5 and Cycle 14 would be a slam dunk, but now I am very skeptical. I think the sun has had a very weak month for solar activity, and it did it too soon. If you look at the cycles before the three minimums of the last 250 years (Cycle 4, Cycle 11, Cycle 13), they all had unusuallly long downturn periods and unusual shapes. This cycle just isn’t having that, although it is flattening out in an extended way. The Cycle 23 spots have gone AWOL, and if they don’t get cranked up again this month and last for the rest of the year, the minimum may not hit the 12 year mark, or even go past the 11 years and 9 months mark. To cap it off, there is a large Cycle 24 plage region in the Northern Hemisphere now, no spot, yet…. 11 years and 8 months is long, but that is not long enough to bring a strong minimum. There is only little question in my mind that this cycle will be lower than Cycle 23 by at least 20-30 spots, but lower than that is something I am not banking on. Until then, the prediction I made in April remains: smoothed minimum August 2008 (12 years 3 months) maximum of 65 spots (5 extra spots is due to advanced tech) in mid-2013 and minimum in July 2020, giving total length of 11 years and 11 months.

Ron Horvath
August 2, 2008 12:06 pm

Would any of the sunspots over the last year have been detected by the tools used during the 17th century? Has anyone tried replicating those tools to determine what intensity of a sunspot it would have taken for detection during that period?

David L. Hagen
August 2, 2008 1:34 pm

For those wanting to dig in further, see:
SORCE’s Past, Present, and Future Role in Earth Science Research
2008 Science Meeting
Some interesting items:
Beisecker gives an interesting review: “Predictions of the Solar Cycle, Past and Present”

Fundamental determination that the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) is ~1361 W/m2, not 1366 W/m2

Downward trend of the TSI by 0.02% from last cycle minimum

Infrared (IR) irradiance is out of phase with solar cycle
– New, unexpected result from SORCE SIM – still preliminary
• SIM IR channels have not shown any degradation, so don’t suspect instrument effect

NASA / NOAA predictions for next
solar cycle are uncertain with +/- 40%
variation from current cycle
– Dikpati and Gilman (Ap. J., 2006)
predicts higher cycle
– Schatten (GRL, 2005) predicts lower

IR is in phase with the TSI for short-term variations (solar rotation)

But IR irradiance is out of phase with solar cycle

Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) composites indicate a ~0.02% decline since the last minimum in 1996

Mark Miesch discussed “Processes that Cause Solar Irradiance Variability” Wednesday.
David Hathaway in “Estimating the Next Solar Cycle” Wednesday:

However, we are currently faced with a dilemma: one dynamo prediction (Dikpati, deToma, & Gilman, 2006) and one statistical precursor (geomagnetic activity – Hathaway & Wilson, 2006) suggest a very strong cycle while another dynamo prediction (Jiang, Chatterjee, & Choudhuri 2007) and another statistical precursor (polar field strength – Svalgaard, Cliver, & Kamide, 2005) suggest a very weak cycle.

<•Rise is cubic in time
•Decay is exponential in time

•Flux Transport Dynamo models dominated by the meridional flow and with assimilated surface fields from sunspots “predict” the last 12 cycles and both hemispheres with unprecedented accuracy and indicate an amplitude of 140±20 for cycle 24 (consistent with geomagnetic indicators).
•Flux Transport Dynamo models dominated by diffusion and with assimilated polar fields at minima “predict” the last three cycles reliably and indicate an amplitude of 75±30 for cycle 24 (consistent with polar field strength indicators).

Sami Solanki (Invited), Solar Irradiance and Activity Reconstructions on Timescales up to Millennia

estimates of secular rise in total solar irradiance since Maunder minimum ≈0.9-1.5 W/m2 from Krivovaet al. 2007

See: Preliminary: irradiance over11 kyr slide 14

Dennis Sharp
August 2, 2008 1:43 pm

Ok, so the sun has been quiet going on 3 years, and yet we just broke the longest number of days record for continuous daily highs over 90 degrees in Colorado. It seems to me that once scientists really believe that the tacholine solar region has come to a crawl and there are very weak solar cycles to come, that they would try to make some models to tell us the heat latency of the earth’s oceans and atmosphere so we could plan for when things will get cooler. I have heard the earth’s climate will reflect what the sun is doing after 3 years. Another source said 5 years, and another said 10 years. Is this really the state of our knowledge right now?

August 2, 2008 1:49 pm

Yes…and no.

David L. Hagen
August 2, 2008 1:58 pm

At 2008 Science meeting See: Dave Young on CLARREO Overview
Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory
Especially slides 20-23 on the challenge of reducing Climate Sensitivity Uncertainty in the Climate Feedback System.

August 2, 2008 2:28 pm

I feel like stepping in it. Since photons (which have no mass) are “deflected” by mass then as Einstein said space itself is warped by mass. Thus a mass moving through the “warped” space would be unaware of that effect except for tidal effects which could be explained by the differing curvature of that space between the objects.
Anyone care to correct my thinking?

Dennis Sharp
August 2, 2008 2:34 pm

I just read about the CLARREO satelite, and I approve of the approach. I was quite impressed when I read David Archibald’s “Solar Cycle 24: Implications for the United States” article. On page 21 he shows a graph showing the projected global temperature profile to 2030. It seems to me now that he may have used too linear of an approach. However, it may be broadly true.
I know why the IPCCs predictions on AGW are wrong, but during a hot day like today, all logic goes ot the window. I think I’ll wait till January to sell my friends on global cooling.
On the other hand, I’ve always said that people have the tendency to focus on a single event rather than understand the processes. And, oh, I see that science is just at the point of gathering the data to try to answer my question on when we cool down. Anybody intuitive enough to guess at what some canaries in a cage we may look for?

August 2, 2008 2:36 pm

Carsten Arnholm: When one says that something moves one must also say in relation to what. As the question was if the radio flux would have to be adjusted because of the Sun’s ‘movement’, the reference point was clearly the Earth. I gave an observational test that shows that the Earth also moves such that the distance between the Sun and the Earth is that corresponding to no other planets present [the Sun and the Earth moving around ‘their’ center of mass – to high precision, if we take the barycenter to be the arbitrary reference point], hence no ‘jerking around’ of the Sun by the other planets. Did you take the trouble to go check the Figures? Or the SORCE TSI? So, just as TSI is observed not to be influenced by the wiggle, so is the f10.7 flux also not affected, as that was the answer I gave. It is utterly amazing that people still don’t get this.
Ron Horwath: yes, because we adjust [there is that word again 🙂 ] the count such as being compatible with the old instruments. Well, maybe not quite back to the 17th century, but to the 18th and 19th for sure. But, there is still some doubt as whether that adjustment is correct. This is being researched. See f.ex. here.
David Hagen: Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) composites indicate a ~0.02% decline since the last minimum in 1996
This claim is mainly from the PMOD composite. If you compare PMOD with SORCE [e.g. here] you’ll find that assuming [as I do because of its good calibration] that SORCE is correct, that it is PMOD that has been drifting and that there very likely is no decrease since last minimum [or any minimum for that matter].
The Krivova et al. reconstruction of TSI is based on an assumed doubling of the solar open magnetic flux [its ‘background field’ – if you will] between 1900 and 1985]. This doubling did not happen and hence there is no increase of the minimum values of TSI, or put differently: the Maunder minimum was not 1 W/m2 lover than recent minima. Admittedly, this result is still controversial: people don’t like to retract old conclusions that are past their ‘sell by data’.

August 2, 2008 2:54 pm

statePoet1775: you are correct on the first part. The tidal effect is muddled. The tides are due to the gravitational field [‘curvature’] being different on either side of the body, not between the bodies. Take the Moon as an example; the gravitational force at the point on the Earth’s surface that is just ‘under’ the Moon is larger [being closer] than the force at the opposite point on the Earth’s surface [facing away from the Moon]. But, I’ll tell you that I have tried many, many times to explain that the Sun [and the Earth] do not feel any forces going around in their orbits [they are in ‘free fall’], but it has absolutely no effect. I cannot remember a single person responding with “oh, I see now that there are no barycentric effects, thank you”. Not a single one.

August 2, 2008 3:01 pm

Dennis Sharp:
Colorado has had a colder than normal start to the year:
I recall seeing many record low temperatures in your state so far this year, especially in the mountains. Take a look at the data:
Denver’s hottest temperature ever is 105 degrees, set in 1878 (a year of solar minimum) and 2005.
The three year lag “rule” for solar activity only applies to the “global warming” cycles. It has been shown, such as in 1996 and 1902 for just a few examples, that a solar minimum brings more immediate effects, and behaves differently from the strong cycles. In the early 1900s, many states in the West, such as Arizona, recorded all-time record high temperatures and record warm months that still stand to this day. Don’t worry, when a record low temperature hits Denver again, you can convert your friends to our all-holy global cooling cult!

August 2, 2008 3:43 pm

Leif Svalgard: Well I am trying to understand, that’s the amazing part. Most people are not. I realise your referenced TSI observations, I am trying to understand *why*. For how many years do we have 1 in 200,000 precision TSI measurements?
The Sun’s movements around the barycenter are quite complex, so for the Sun-Earth distances to stay the same as when corresponding to no other planets present, the observations seem to imply the perturbations to the Earths orbit must be matching the Sun’s orbit almost exactly.
I presume then the same goes for the other planets (assuming same precision TSI observations from those other planets), and our solar system N-body problem is then reduced to N-1 2-body problems then…? hmm.
This might be a limit of my imagination, but I appreciate the argument that the observed TSI variation is too small. Thanks for your reply.

August 2, 2008 3:44 pm

Thanks for the reply. Here is my shot at what i think you are saying:
The sun is moving in space that is constantly being warped by the orbiting planets. As far as the sun is concerned (neglecting tidal effects) it is just moving smoothly through space but because that space is warped it appears to wobble to a distant observer. It is not the sun that is being jerked around by the planets but the space the sun moves in?

John Blackburn
August 2, 2008 3:51 pm

Leif Svalgaard:
‘It is not the Sun that moves, but the center of gravity that moves as the planets move around.’
As an interested non-scientist, I may well be missing something here, but it sounds as if you are saying the sun’s position is unaffected by the gravitational fields of the planets. The image I am getting is of all the bodies in the Solar System moving around, thus shifting their common center of gravity, but without perturbing one another. Surely that can’t be right unless Mr Newton was seriously mistaken? My naive understanding is that gravity acts between bodies with mass, rather than between a body and a ‘center of gravity’ which may not contain any mass. Apologies if I have completely misunderstood you.

Mike Bryant
August 2, 2008 3:55 pm

Leif, I do believe that the barycentric effects do not affect earth temperature. Thanks for the many explanations. I’ve never seen the sun wobble.

August 2, 2008 4:01 pm

Carsten: the 1:200,000 is for the SORCE instrument. For earlier, the precision was less, but still way beyond needed [1:1000] to show that the distance behaves as it should [no jerking].
statePoet: you are basically correct.
We had a discussion of this problem a while ago on this blog. I had a thought experiment with moving a pea around in the solar system and showed that I could put the barycenter where I wanted to by simply placing the pea sufficiently far away.

August 2, 2008 4:16 pm

John and others: Let me try a different tack: It is often said that Jupiter pulls the Sun towards it and that that displaces the Sun at times by up to more than a solar radius, but Jupiter also pulls the Earth in almost the same direction as the Earth is so close to the Sun [27 times closer than Jupiter – in gravitational terms – square of distance] so maybe it is not so surprising that the distance between the Sun and the Earth does not change by the distance between the Sun and the barycenter, but is almost unaffected by the position of the barycenter. This is an invalid argument, but somehow seems to have appeal to people believing in the equally invalid barycenter effect.

August 2, 2008 4:32 pm

I really should not have used that invalid argument, but sometimes I get really frustrated by the resilience of the barycenter crowd. Nothing sticks and even an observational demonstration that the idea does notwork has no effect.

August 2, 2008 4:52 pm

You said that Statepoet was basically correct.
Why should it matter that the Solar System is moving through space?
The Sun and planets, all mass in the System, resides within the gravity well of the Sun. Doesn’t the gravity of each body affect the others? Say if Jupiter is one one side of the System and Earth on the other, that Jupiter would pull the Sun some distance from Earth reference?

August 2, 2008 4:56 pm

Let me try another thought experiment: imagine a double star. Two identical stars at a fair distance from each other. Let each star have its own planetary system [assume circular orbits], where the planets surely revolve around ‘their’ star. We can place to two stars far enough from each other that this is true. Now, the center of mass will be very close to the point halfway between the stars. The two stars will seen from afar seem to ‘wiggle’ around each other as the whole system [traced out by the center of mass] moves through the universe and the planets will also trace out even more complicated wiggles, but that does not mean that inhabitants of one of the planets would see everything [their sun and its planets] wiggle along above their heads. No, the distance to their sun would stay constant and the other planets would be observed to have nice circular orbits, no wiggling. We can always move the other star far enough away so that the above holds true to any degree of accuracy. The barycenter will still be halfway between the two stars, way outside the surface of the stars, even way outside the individual star systems. No brutal jerking around of stars and planets. And, BTW, no sunspots generated, and no climate effects either.

August 2, 2008 5:17 pm

Glenn: That would be the same problem as tides on the Earth caused by the Moon: wouldn’t the gravity of the Moon pull more on the ocean facing the Moon than on the center of the Earth? Yes it will. One can calculate the height of the tidal bulge to be 0.38 meter. The same calculation on the analogous situation with Jupiter taking the place of the Moon and the Sun taking the place of the moon-facing ocean. The result is 625 meter.

Patrick Henry
August 2, 2008 5:40 pm

The Denver NWS weather article was hilarious The link below shows the official temperature set generated for Fort Collins by the State Climatologist.
It has been a picture perfect summer along the Front Range – with cool to cold nights and warm afternoons. Fort Collins is geographically very similar to Denver, but is a much smaller Urban heat island.
The “normal” high in Denver this time of year is 88 degrees, so having a couple of weeks of 90 degree weather is hardly newsworthy. We normally break 100 once or twice every summer.
P.S. I’m in London this weekend, and everyone is complaining about the second straight year without a summer in the UK. No doubt The Met Office will find some statistic to make it appear unusually warm.

August 2, 2008 5:41 pm

Anthony, I’m quite amazed at the fact that just about every discussion of the Sun eventually ends up with the same silly barycenter arguments. That idea seems to have enormous ‘legs’ and just won’t lie down. Over at CA, we have finally instituted a policy of not getting into barycentric/tidal solar activity theories and associated climate repercussions, so perhaps I should shut up now. If only the rest of you would too…

Patrick Henry
August 2, 2008 6:03 pm

NSIDC just whacked half a million km2 of ice off the Arctic Ice extent during the last few hours. Must be having a really hot day (politically) up there.

August 2, 2008 6:06 pm

Leif, thanks for your explanation. The best way for me to understand it is that both the Sun and the Earth [and the other planets] are in free fall. That explains the situation clearly [to me, anyway], and why the frame of reference of each one appears to be stationary. Your binary star explanation helped, too.
Problem is, I can’t remember why we were having this conversation.

August 2, 2008 6:36 pm

Patrick Henry,
It looks like the last few days have been warm in the Arctic. The ground stations have been reporting warmer temps and clearer skies, the bouys are showing warmer water, the Igloo webcam shows above freezing and clear skies…but the NSIDC looks more like a one million Km drop to me. Of course, that is more than half the size of Alaska (1.7 Mil). And I sure don’t eyeball that big a loss here:
I predict an eventual partial Northwest Passage, low of a little over 5 M km2 and an early winter recovery. Now if I could just get 2 cents for that.

August 2, 2008 6:39 pm

Would it be fair to summarize your position to say that the sun is in free fall in an odd looking constantly changing orbit without experiencing the effects of it’s acceleration (ignoring tides)? BTW, does anyone have diagram of how the sun wobbles?

August 2, 2008 6:48 pm

Stellar wobble is detected by Doppler redshift. Astronomers
find planets by observing the effect that their orbits have on their sun.
Seems the same would apply to an alien observing our system.
This appears to be evidence that the Sun would “wobble” depending on
the orbits and configuration of the planets. Perhaps this is not relative to what is under discussion with respect to the “barycenter” thing.

Dennis Sharp
August 2, 2008 7:03 pm

Patrick Henry
I’m guessing that the north atlantic current is transferring so much heat from lower latitudes that once the winds carry it over western Europe, it’s raining almost all the time. Of course, the winds are fickle. I hear that Greece is in drought.
Actually, it was 104 in Denver yesterday and 103 today. Both temperatures broke all time time records going back to the turn of the century. This when the longest day of the year was over a month ago and the earth is at aphelion with the sun. Impressive global warming for the front range of Colorado. The forcast is for high 80’s next week, so I’m not too worried.
On a global scale, I would surmise we should watch to see if arctic ice increases in the next 5 years. There may also be some news stories about Canadian wheat farmers not getting the growing season they need. Or, maybe, just maybe it only gets to 95 next summer in my home town of Fort Collins.

Dennis Sharp
August 2, 2008 7:06 pm

I buy your argument on the barycenter not affecting sunspots, so what is your explanation for the sun’s conveyor belt slowing to a crawl?

David L. Hagen
August 2, 2008 7:09 pm

Thanks for the clarification on the 0.02% “. . .that assuming [as I do because of its good calibration] that SORCE is correct, that it is PMOD that has been drifting and that there very likely is no decrease since last minimum. . .”
Look forward to seeing that confirmed by the future Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory.

August 2, 2008 7:22 pm

Thanks for the reply. I don’t think the question is whether the sun wobbles; it is, I think, whether the sun is “aware” it is wobbling. In another words, an accelerometer at the center of the sun would not detect any acceleration no matter how violent the sun’s orbit might be. If I am wrong, someone please correct me.

August 2, 2008 7:25 pm

I’m reading all this and remembering my physicist Dad trying to explain barycenters to me when I was in school. This is a different take so I’ll try it. The first analogy I had in mind back then was a ball on a string swinging around my head. But you can feel the force of that, and that force is not what gravity is like. Next analogy was two magnets pulling on one another, and you can feel that, too. But that’s also a different force than gravity.
What clarified it for me was the classic analogy of a bowling ball on a rubber sheet, making a huge wide dent into which you roll a marble. The marble makes a little dent also, which maybe has a very tiny effect on the bowling ball’s space, but they don’t “feel” each other, even though the marble is circling the bowling ball. They don’t even “feel” their space-time dents in the rubber sheet, even if those dents influence their paths through space. There is no tugging or pulling going on at all, its an entirely different ‘force’ at work.
If I’ve had this analogy wrong all these years, I’m willing to be corrected. But I’ve never had an issue with Leif’s take on barycenters when thinking of orbital relationships in this way.

August 2, 2008 7:28 pm

Dr. Svalgaard would really appreciate it if all mentions, explanations, theories, or opinions about barycenters ceased once and for all.

Ken Westerman
August 2, 2008 7:41 pm

Okay, so we’re at the solar minimum between SC 23 & 24.
Now, here are a few questions.
1. How long will it be until SC 23 is 13 years long?
2. How many days since a SC 24 spot will it be for people to really take notice?
3. Is it out of the question that a prolonged SC 23 will lead to a continued flat or decreasing global temperature?

Patrick Henry
August 2, 2008 7:47 pm

Dennis Sharp,
According to NCAR, Boulder temperatures are slightly above normal, with no readings over 100.
According to USHCN, Boulder is about two degrees cooler than it was in 1934, even after USHCN adjustments and a likely upwards data error starting in 2000.
Fort Collins temperatures are slightly above normal, with no readings over 100.
Denver has turned into a massive heat island. High temperature records there are essentially meaningless. If you look at less urban areas surrounding Denver, like Boulder and Fort Collins, you get a more accurate picture of the climate.
It is going to be difficult to make a case for a lot of “global warming” in Colorado.
It has generally been a dry summer in London, just unusually cool.

Patrick Henry
August 2, 2008 7:57 pm

As you can see from the CT side by side you posted, there is no way that the Arctic lost 1 million km2 of ice in the last 24 hours. The AO is negative and temperatures at the NOAA buoy near the north pole have been close to freezing or below.
Something looks really odd about the NSIDC graph. I captured an image of the same graph on August 1 – and it was turning upwards, heading back to normal. They changed the graph at 23:20 GMT August 2 and knocked nearly 1M km2 off the extent.

August 2, 2008 8:01 pm

If Leif doesn’t want to discuss them, he doesn’t have to. It is not his blog. If Anthony doesn’t want it discussed, it’s his blog, his rules. I have no dog in this fight, but to tell people not to discuss something just because Leif doesn’t want it discussed bothers me. If I can read about it here:
then it seems to me rather improper to say it cannot be discussed. It may well be that most of the variations of this theory are nonsense, and Leif’s frustration with the arguments for it are justified. But to declare a topic off-limits like this just on the say so of someone who doesn’t like it is what I expect from the AGW (the science is settled) crowd.
I also suspect this is not what Leif was asking. I think he’d rather hear from Anthony that he’s not interested in supporting these discussions because he agrees with Leif that they are nonsense. Or he was just expressing frustration that Anthony lets the discussions go on without saying anything. I don’t think Leif was asking for censorship. He’s a little too classy for that.
If Anthony wants to take sides, or not, let him do so. But on a blog like this, these discussions die out rather quickly, and saying nothing would have brought that about soon enough. If anything, Leif is partly responsible for giving it life. If he’d left the subject alone, the barycenter crowd would just be preaching to the choir, and soon everyone would get bored and move on.

August 2, 2008 8:03 pm

Noted, and for the record, it wasn’t a prohibition. He’s just tired of it and I was making that known.
BTW, your link above is session sensitive.

August 2, 2008 8:29 pm

Jeez, you can post this if you think this adds to conversation. I’m not just trying to get in the last word, but if it’s beating a dead horse & you’d rather not approve it, I’ll understand — leebert
In the 1970’s the Voyager craft revealed gravity wave cords in Saturn’s rings. Similar phenomena occur in galactic spiral arm structures. So if a planetary system had any inherent orbital wobbles, it could be the product of the star itself that has evolved and settled in over the life of the solar system, with additional perturbations piled up from lunar inertial effects, comet & asteroid sling shot effects, etc.
We know the tidal forces of the moon on the Earth itself, but it’s been said that the Earth-moon pair is almost functionally a binary planetary system. But our sun is several magnitudes more massive than even its largest planet, Jupiter. To me the dominance of the sun’s internal “weather” is far more plausible than some very slight tidal forces that are far less than the functional effect of Titan on Saturn or Ganymede on Jupiter.
Looking at Jupiter I think reveals a great deal about the sun, in terms of internal convective layers, etc. Jupiter demonstrates very well how an energetic fluid system follows a stable pattern of cycles in its internally generated weather system (the effect of solar radiance is slight, IIRC).
Imagine then the same convective banding phenomenon in the sun. I can surmise there are perfectly good reasons why the sun’s “weather” is internally driven given the vast magnetic fields and energy burbling up from within, compounding the natural banding effect of a massive self-contained & free-standing fluid dynamo.
The magnetic dynamo of the sun gets twirled around the sun like a spun ball of cotton candy that can then twist & writhe to release some of the pent up tension. But a system as structured and self-generating as the sun would almost certainly inhere regular cycles as various parameters with their own schedules that cycle in and out of phase, leading to higher peaks and deeper troughs depending on inter-frequency overlaps and advective amplitude transfers.
Hope that helps.

August 2, 2008 8:33 pm

Does anyone know what the running number is so far for the solar dimming since circa 1992? Last I heard it was around -0.1 degrC.

August 2, 2008 8:41 pm

I’ve checked a couple times with a straightedge to determine whether the graph is updated daily, and appears not to be the case. For example, the latest update today is set to the left of the line dividing July from Aug, and it is Aug 2. I suspect this is normalized data that lags real time (2,3 days?). Which is the reason for the dates I used for my Igloo reference.
Oh, I’m looking at ARGOS bouy data from

August 2, 2008 8:45 pm

What’s the correlation between sun spot numbers and global temperature anyhow? Yeah, I know that lower solar activity is supposed to mean cooler temperatures, but what is the numerical correlation between monthly sun spot numbers and temperature anomaly? I’m sure that I could figure it out for myself, but it has been 10 years since college stats for me, I’m lazy and would just as soon get some one smarter than me do my homework.
An interesting test might be to subtract the trend, then test the correlation. I know that I know how to do this, but I need a review. Unfortunately, I sold that text book a long time ago. Anyhow, thanks for your insight and your time.

August 2, 2008 8:53 pm

Somebody dropped a decimal place. The melt is just over 100000 sq km according to IARC-JAXA

August 2, 2008 9:27 pm

I agree with Leif that solar system barycentric variations do not directly affect our planet, but I still don’t accept the premise it would not affect solar output which in turn does drive our climate.
BTW, since Relativity has crept into the discussion, I do wonder if the acceleration of the pea as it was moved to ever increasing distances from the sun would affect the solar barycenter do to an increase in the pea’s mass as its velocity approached C? Also how would this affect the shelf-life of the pea considering relativistic time dilation?

anna v
August 2, 2008 9:30 pm

Fun moments :).
” Leif Svalgaard (20:34:13) :
Robert Wood: Yeah, in my haste I had it backwards; we are farthest, not closest to the sun in July. My bad, a senior moment. The point still stands, that we should adjust for the varying distance.
REPLY: Hey Leif, don’t feel bad, I missed a counted SC24 sunspot event tonight! 😉 – Anthony ”
Leif, I think this is the point to tell once more my Feynman story, which would make any scientist that has put a foot in the mouth feel in good company.
This is in the 1980s, after Feynman had his first operations and when he was feeling well enough to go to conferences, in Crete, at a theoretical workshop. It is the second day he is in Greece, the first being spent going around the “must sees” of Athens with yours truly, so definitely jet lagged.
It is after sunset, and many eminent physicists are having a drink on a veranda overlooking the Aegean, and several greek ones from other disciplines attracted by the pole of Feynman (as yours truly).
There is small talk and a lull in conversation and suddenly the full moon draws the attention on the horizon in all its glory, reflected in the waters. Feynman looks and observes: ” that must be the West then”.
The interest in the story is not the slip of Feynman, it is the reaction of the physicists. Feynman said it after all, so that must be the west. I do not remember if T’Hooft was there at the time, he sure was at the workshop. It remained for yours truly, youngest and most irrelevant in the company to sputter: “but,but, but….”.
I was reminded of this, because my first reaction to these posts was ” Leif said it so it must be ok” :). Age gets skeptics too.

F Rasmin
August 2, 2008 9:55 pm

Leif Please! I realise that you are possessed of great knowledge, but you do not seemed to be endowed with much tolerance. Cannot you appreciate that some posters here do not have your knowledge- a lack they admit- but are really trying to understand by putting forward ideas, ideas that I am sure they know will be shown by others to require some ‘adjustments’ (A word I use in the nicest way!). We try and should not be scorned for our efforts. I know that you are a better person than that Leif. By the way, I am setting myself up here by saying that when we have the Sun, the Earth, and Jupiter lined up in that order, this differs in pull on the Earth by Jupiter for when we have the Earth, the Sun , and Jupiter lined up in that order.Square of distance etc. One scenario has the Earth pulled away from the sun, and the other scenario has the Earth pulled towards the sun. The sun and Jupiter in these circumstances – ignoring the other planets – would maintain the same distance between each other. I am just working on the numbers and will get back to you.

Leon Brozyna
August 2, 2008 10:29 pm

Patrick Henry (19:57:06)
I also noticed that strange turn in the daily update at the NSIDC. I left a comment earlier on Saturday 2 Aug at the Polar Ice Check – still a lot of ice up there post about how the melt rate seemed to be slowing. A few hours later, that uptick, which had been happening for a few days, vanished and suddenly is headed in the opposite direction – towards last year’s record melt.
That’s a huge one day change. Hope you saved that captured image of the graph and can share it with Anthony and the rest of his horde here.

August 2, 2008 11:13 pm

statePoet1775 (18:39:48) :
“BTW, does anyone have diagram of how the sun wobbles?”
Yes, I have gone through the calculations. You can find the diagrams at

anna v
August 2, 2008 11:18 pm

OK, here I may be stepping on toes, but let me give my view on this barycenter business.
It is all about coordinate systems. I.e. who is sitting at (0,0,0) and who is moving with respect to (0,0,0).
And it is all about natural coordinate systems. Motions appear simpler in the natural coordinate systems, i.e. the one where the forces that give rise to motions are expressed simply.
Ancient Greeks (and the Persians before them) had their (0,0,0) on the stationary earth, and were observing the planets and stars. They saw plenty of wobbles in their coordinate system. They knew nothing about gravity as a force. They organized their observations into the ecliptic, i.e. the path the sun traces every day against the immovable (to them) stars, and the dance of the planets during the year around the ecliptic in cycles called epicycles . Retrograde mercury ( astrology) comes from this coordinate system, when mercury is moving on the celestial sphere against the motion of the sun on the ecliptic. Every time a new planet was observed an epicycle was added. This works , except it is like a series of complicated yoga positions.
Then came Copernicus and the sun centered theory of the cosmos ( incidentally there was a Byzantine named Chionides who proposed it first during the middle ages, and is referred in the manuscripts of Copernicus) and it made everything mathematically simpler.Then Kepler then Newton who gave a reason WHY this coordinate system was the natural coordinate system: it is gravity.
The barycenter is another coordinate system , like the epicycles are another coordinate system, except the other way: it mathematically explains the motions better. IT DOES NOT AFFECT THE FORCES as the epicycles do not affect the forces. They are both a mathematical description, the only one for the ancients (epicycles) and a sometimes convenient one for the moderns (barycernter).

August 2, 2008 11:56 pm

As Basil points out, I’m partly to blame, because I speak up when I see nonsense be peddled. But if one does not do that, the nonsense may be repeated often enough that it acquires a life of its own, and especially in these ‘internet days’ may be spread widely enough that people begin to believe it, and THAT must be resisted.

Ted Annonson
August 3, 2008 1:07 am

Since there is a loose correlation between the sunspot cycle and Jupiter’s orbit (near 11 years), and between Saturn’s orbit and the PDO (near 30 years), should w e consult the Astrologers for our next weather report? LOL

Ted Annonson
August 3, 2008 1:26 am

According to Space, an Aug 2 SOHO magnetogram shows a magnetic dipole in the Northern hemisphere that may develop into a cycle 24 sunspot.

Pierre Gosselin
August 3, 2008 2:17 am

Sorry for being off topic,
but checking sea ice extent this morning I noticed conflicting data.
Here, a big dip in arctic sea ice is shown:
But here, the ice shows the opposite trend:
How can they both be correct?

Robert Wood
August 3, 2008 5:24 am

Aristarchus of Samos was first to propose the heliocentric view of teh Solar system

August 3, 2008 5:38 am

At Dr. Tony Phillips’ excellent and absolutely essential website this morning
there is a magnificent photograph of Friday’s total solar eclipse at totality.
A fellow named Hartwig Luethen went to Kochenovo, west of Novosibirsk, Russia to capture this image, and he outdid himself.
As Dr. Tony describes it, “The resulting composite [24 exposures varying in length from 1/500 to 2 seconds] shows the ghostly corona, a magnetic prominence surging over the lunar limb, and the Earthlit surface of the Moon itself.”
If you don’t get to it today, go to the website and load the archives [upper right corner of the page] and load the archive of today, August 3.

Arthur Glass
August 3, 2008 6:24 am

I am confused. According to the Solar Terrestrial Activity site, Cycle 23 began in May of 1996. or 12 years and two months ago (146 months), which would, according to the archives on that site, make it longer than any cycle since the middle of the 19th c.

Bill Illis
August 3, 2008 6:37 am

NSIDC is known for not making their data public (graphs is all you get) and for adjusting the data without any explanation.
Look at the change they made to the historical sea ice index figures in 2007 (and no explanation was ever provided) – a Before and After animation gif. It is clear why, all of a sudden, there was a dramatic increase in melt in 2007.
And the hourly weather data for the NorthPole Webcam bouy (NPEO 2008) is graphed here.
And the hourly data is here (one day old.) It looks like there was a dramatic increase in temps on August 2nd because it was -3.78C on August 1st and has not broke the 0.0C mark since mid-July.

August 3, 2008 6:47 am

Re Pierre Gosselin (02:17:11) :
As I said in an earlier post, the sea ice index seems to be wrong.
Here’s a graph of the last 30 days for 2003,2007, and 2008 from
IARC-JAXA data. The last melt for 2008 was just over 100,000 km2.

Arthur Glass
August 3, 2008 6:48 am

The three longest cycles appear to have been 4, 5 and 6. Cycles 5 and 6, of course, constitute the Dalton Minimum; the smoothed sunspot number ‘peaked’ at solar maximum at 50 in both cycles. Cycle 4, on the other hand, was quite robust–just as 23 has been– with a maximum sunspot number of 120+
For the layman new to this subject, it is all ve-r-r-ry interesting. It’s gotten so the third thing I do of a morning is check out the suspot number–after checking the SOI and global SST’s.

Bill Illis
August 3, 2008 6:55 am

And the NorthWest Passage is nearly open but you would have to take the treacherous route south of King William Island that Roald Amundsen took when he became the first the make it through (only a small yacht-sized boat can navigate these waters.)
The main straight-through passage has opened up more on the eastern side but the western side has been accumulating more ice lately due to icepack drifting from the east and north. So the straight-through passage will be at least 3 weeks yet (don’t know why any ship would want to wait for a two week opening in late August to use the Passage.)

August 3, 2008 6:58 am

I wouldn’t be so quick to discount your previous prediction. Watching for sunspots is like the old cold war sport of “Kremlin watching”….
I think a great service is given via Jan Jannsen’s ‘spotless days” evolution graph
IOW, just b/c SC23 spots aren’t to be seen doesn’t mean the SC24 cycle is picking up. The # of cumulative spotless days says more about the general state of the dynamo.
Sunspot Groups (SSG) have slowed to a relative crawl. Based on this Hathaway predicts a *strong* SC24 based on his conveyor model, but a *weak* SC25 based on the same model that inheres a 1-cycle lag from observation to outcome. Their track record on predicting SC’s from SSG movement looks pretty good (heh – but we have climate models that claim the same ability). I also surmise there are some things they can’t model, like the fact that since circa 1992 the sun has already *dimmed* on avg by -0.1 degrC. It doesn’t have to go stone quiet for there to be an effect.
Were I to take both SSG rate of motion *and* cumulative spotless days evolution I’d say both reflect a regime change in the sun *and* the ongoing slackening of -0.1 degrC *AND* magnetic field being unusually low, I’d say we have a trend. Solanki (IIRC) cites it as a “boom-bust” system, and it boomed brilliantly in the mid- to late-20th C. Now we get indicators that it’s showing signs of hangover, which again reinforces the idea that there’ll be a longer-term slowdown.
I’d say “wait and see.” Missing SC23 sunspots may not actually mean that SC24 is ready to pick up. We need SC24 sunspots first. 🙂

August 3, 2008 7:10 am

Thanks for the link. It looks interesting.

August 3, 2008 7:38 am

anna v
I once programed a solar system simulator just using f = (G*m1*m2)/(r*r) between the planets and the sun and some iterative integration. I used the sun as the origin and it worked beautifully.
Then just for fun, I set the origin to earth. And there it was. The epicycles were there but more importantly for me, I saw that the sun does orbit the earth if one’s reference point is the earth. The orbit appeared to be a perfect circle outside all the planets in my simple simulation, if I remember correctly. One objection to the Bible instantly disappeared from my mind. Oh, BTW, pi does equal 3 to one significant digit.
Being male, it was also fun to send large objects into the solar system and watch planets being ejected from the solar system.
I had a lot of fun with that simulator. Too bad I lost it.

August 3, 2008 8:23 am

Rasmin: you are correct that I have little tolerance for ideas that are wrong. Most of the time people do not get these ideas by them selves but by finding stuff on the internet and by being taking in by the simplistic scenario. As a scientist I feel that I have an obligation to set things straight, as quiescence is often mistaken for acceptance. So, what I lack in tolerance [another way of putting it is, that I do not believe in relativism – that any idea is as good as any other idea] I may make up for with patience. I take the time to respond to people, such as you, for instance.
The situation you describe is akin to the standard tidal problem. One can actually calculate the displacements due to these alignments and they turn out to be real [as you correctly surmise], but small – of the order of 1 km and hence totally insignificant compared to planetary distances that are hundred of millions times larger. The main reason for the smallness of this effect is that differences between gravitational forces do not fall off with the square of the distance, but with the cube of the distance.

August 3, 2008 9:02 am

Arthur Glass: When Rudolf Wolf first put his sunspot series together he had cycles 5 and 6 to be 50% larger than in his later [and still surviving] sunspot series. So the Dalton minimum values were adjusted downwards by a factor of ~1.5. Adjustments are all over the place. In actual fact, we are still not sure of exactly how strong those cycles were.

August 3, 2008 10:00 am

“But, I’ll tell you that I have tried many, many times to explain that the Sun [and the Earth] do not feel any forces going around in their orbits [they are in ‘free fall’], but it has absolutely no effect. I cannot remember a single person responding with “oh, I see now that there are no barycentric effects, thank you”. Not a single one.”
That’s for a reason, Lief: Consider what happened when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 tried to orbit its barycenter with Jupiter.

David Corcoran
August 3, 2008 10:25 am

Arthur Glass (06:24:46) : Cycle 23 began in May of 1996. or 12 years and two months ago (146 months), which would, according to the archives on that site, make it longer than any cycle since the middle of the 19th c.
You are correct. Surprising that it’s not bigger news, eh?

August 3, 2008 11:28 am

Arthur Glass (06:24:46) :
These things are counted on the basis of a 13 month moving average, with the first and last months being given weights of .5, with the effect that it is a centered 12 month smoothing. We don’t know when the bottom comes until six months after the fact. For a 12 year cycle, it will have to end in a smoothed number that bottoms out in May 2008. But we have to wait until December to know what the May number was.

August 3, 2008 11:32 am

> As a scientist I feel that I have an obligation to set things
> straight, as quiescence is often mistaken for acceptance.
> So, what I lack in tolerance [another way of putting it is,
> that I do not believe in relativism – that any idea is as good
> as any other idea] I may make up for with patience.
The casual appeal of science is to throw some stuff against the wall & see what sticks, but to get past pseudoscience or flimsy speculation we need solid reality-testing while digging into some pretty far-fetched ideas.
I suppose you heard recently of the neutron-neutron attraction discovery, blieeve I read it applies to all nucleons. Who would’ve known? But it took rigorous testing to find it.
I can propose extra dimensions to explain entanglement & superpositioning, and suggest whatever extra-dimensional fields serve to scaffold the Higgs field are teleconnect shortcuts under the right circumstances, but I know darn well I’m just shootin sci-fi into the air….
> gravitational forces do not fall off with the square of the distance
> , but with the cube of the distance.
Must be those extraspatial trans-Higgs thingees sponging off gravitons….
So is there a credible challenge to the idea that solar neutrinos evaporate before they get to the Earth? How about the solar metal core theory? Is this way-out, or do the proponents have hope of gaining broader interest?

August 3, 2008 11:36 am

Yes, we do need SC 24 spots to say the sun is getting ready for a new cycle shortly. However, there have been many SC 23 plage and magnetic regions that have been very weak and seem incapable of forming spots. On the other hand, there have been increasing amounts of SC 24 magnetic regions of light, and this plage region that is on the sun now is something worth mentioning, considering the AWOL SC 23. The smoothed number for the 11 years and 8 months checkpoint, 4.2, is pretty low. I do think it will dip lower, but I believe the chances of a Dalton Minimum are continuing to decrease, and the only way that will happen is if the smoothed number goes back up before going back down, a lot like what SC 11 did in its last few years:
As for my “hybrid” prediction, it is probably chickens*** for me to quit on that one now, and I think it is a done deal it will be weaker than SC 23 by a significant margin, but I am getting antsy with those SC 24 magnetic regions. Irrational? Maybe. But the sun is REALLY quiet now; low flux, low wind, low spots. Anyway, what is your prediction? Are you with the Maunder cult, the Dalton cult, the hybrid cult, the Svalgaard cult, the normal cult, the Hathaway cult, or the Dikpati cult? (or are some of them sects? ;-))

August 3, 2008 12:03 pm

Bill Illis (06:37:39) says:
“NSIDC is known for not making their data public (graphs is all you get) and for adjusting the data without any explanation. ”
NSIDC uses data from the Numbus-7 SMMR satellite, the DMSP defence agency data set, and the SMM/I data set. They are all available online, 2 of them from links within the NSIDC web site. Registration is requested but not required – there are links to bypas registration when accessing the data.
Nimbus-7 SMMR and SMM/I brightness data are available here:
DMSP data is available here:
SMM/I data is available here:
This page discusses interpretation of the image data, and the links at the upper left give access to the processing steps used to convert the satellite data into images and area/extent values.
It is simply not true to say that they don’t give access to the data. It is poor practice to say such things without being sure one is correct.

August 3, 2008 12:14 pm

pochas: You are conflating the ‘barycenter’ theory and tidal effects. The former have nothing to do with tides but with [mis-applied] torques and angular momentum. Tidal effects can be very strong [as the comet showed] when you get close enough. So, the ‘reason’ is simply that people have not thought this out.
leebert: So is there a credible challenge to the idea that solar neutrinos evaporate before they get to the Earth?
The neutrinos change ‘type’ and this is well-established. One can see this effect by observing neutrinos from nuclear power stations propagating through the Earth.
How about the solar metal core theory? Is this way-out, or do the proponents have hope of gaining broader interest?
This is quackery of highest carat [up there with the ‘electric universe’]. There is kind of a ‘discussion’ over at [and next next 4 or 5 pages]. This is almost fun to read, if it weren’t so sad, that in this day and age people are at each others throat over such drivel.

Patrick Henry
August 3, 2008 12:20 pm

NSIDC can give any explanation of methodology that they want, but the imagery in their maps don’t jibe with the interpretation shown in their Arctic trend map over the last two days.
Being verbose is not an excuse for being wrong.

Bill Illis
August 3, 2008 12:25 pm

AskQuestions – can you give us a link to actual data.
I’ve clicked around those links a dozen times before and you never get to any data – just more links saying there is data here and data there.

August 3, 2008 12:43 pm

> Anyway, what is your prediction? Are you with the Maunder cult,
> the Dalton cult, the hybrid cult, the Svalgaard cult, the normal
> cult, the Hathaway cult, or the Dikpati cult? (or are some of
> them sects? ;-))
They’re all safe sects, AFAIK. 🙂
Being far less knowledgeable in the topic than most people posting here, I look at how some experts find certain data striking. The unusual low magnetic field, the ongoing dimming since ’91.
I guess there are two notable predictions that follow along with the sun having already slowed down since the early 1990’s: Hathaway’s SC25 & SODA/Lief’s SC24.
Seeing how they agree & disagree, both, my gut instinct surmises there’s some kind of hybrid answer. The upper conveyance of sunspot groups has slowed a great deal (regardless of whether there’s a convective layer conveyor belt or not…), the magnetic output is low, SC23 is going long, the cumulative spotless days is in a steep ascent, etc. Whether SC24 turns out as a 90 or 70, the beast is slowing down, and the SSG (per Hathaway) movement suggests SC25 to be even lower.
When I look at Janssens’ spotless days evolution it looks more like a 19th C. SC transit. Janssens is great b/c he concedes its only trend stats, but he’s showing us something, no doubt.
So when experts agree by disagreeing in what seem rather telling ways I think: “Ahah! Something’s really up!”
That would make me… ecumenical.

August 3, 2008 1:40 pm


gravitational forces do not fall off with the square of the distance, but with the cube of the distance.
Must be those extraspatial trans-Higgs thingees sponging off gravitons….

No, already Newton knew this. Trivial to deduce: try to differentiate the function 1/r^2 …

Dennis Sharp
August 3, 2008 1:54 pm

Leif or anyone else,
I’ll try one more time. I know pretty much what has happened with the Sun in the last couple of years, I’m just trying to see if anyone knows why.
My first question is why has the Sun’s conveyor belt slowed down?
What would make it speed up again?

August 3, 2008 2:19 pm

I get 1/r^2 = r^-2. The differential would then be r^-3 = 1/r^3 or inversely proportional to the cube of the distance. Oh, I get it. F = (G*m1*m2)/ r^2. dF/dr = (G*m1*m2)/ r^3.
You seem to be a hot stove that people can’t resist touching. Hang in there, please. You are an acquired taste.

August 3, 2008 2:23 pm

drat! insuffficient spacing in my previous post. The result is:
dF/dr = (G*m1*m2)/ r^3.
Wow! It must be fun to have a brain. But maybe lonely too.

Robert Wood
August 3, 2008 4:00 pm

Actually, wouldn’t that be -2 *etc.
d/dx x^n = n x^n-1

Robert Wood
August 3, 2008 4:05 pm

Lief is being clever here 🙂 the rate of change of gravitational force is indeed proportional to r^3.
Hey, I have a question that’s always bugging me:
What is the gravitational potential of an object at the center of the Earth? Is it zero, just as if it were removed at an infinite distance (mathematically)? For a ray of light falling to the centre of the Earth from the surface, is it red-shifted or blue-shifted?
OK, two questions, and a little O/T, sorry.

August 3, 2008 4:38 pm

Leif Svalgaard:
You need to edit the Wikipedia page on “Center of Mass”
to clear up the misstatements there, such as,
“The Sun orbits a barycenter just above its surface” due to the mass of Jupiter.
The animations on the page are very misleading, as they clearly show objects “in freefall” orbiting around a common barycenter.
So if you can edit this Wikipedia page, you can probably help prevent some misunderstandings.
But I don’t suppose you can do anything about this guy and his “Gravity Simulator” program, which clearly shows the discredited “Barycenter” idea, with the sun moving all around systematically in that crazy “trefoil” pattern.

August 3, 2008 4:59 pm

Robert Wood,
Yes, my mistake. So how about:
dF/dr = (-2.*G*m1*m2)/ r^3?

August 3, 2008 9:04 pm

John-X: I have no desire to rewrite the Wikipedia entry. It is OK as it is. What is wrong is how people interpret what they read. Let us go through some simplified exercises.
Imagine a solar system with a Sun and a Jupiter in a perfectly circular orbit [same masses and almost same distance as our real solar system such that the Jupiter revolution takes 12 years] and for the time being, no other bodies. This is actually a fair approximation to our real system because Jupiter’s mass is greater than all the other planets together.
In this system, the center of mass [CM] will be on the Sun-Jupiter line always at the same distance [1,000,000 km or so – I didn’t calculate it precisely, because it doesn’t matter much] from the center of the Sun, a bit outside of the Sun. Seen from the Sun, Jupiter will complete one full revolution every 12 years and the CM will also, because it is on the Sun-Jupiter line, always right in front of Jupiter. So, the CM orbits the Sun, as seen from the Sun.
Seen from Jupiter, the Sun completes one full revolution in 12 years, and the CM also, as it is on the Jupiter-Sun line, right in front of the Sun, just a tad closer to Jupiter than the solar surface. Neither the Sun nor Jupiter will feel any forces because the gravitational force is precisely balanced by the centrifugal force of the orbital movement [I here refrain from sophisticated General Relativity, and use only concepts that would have been familiar to Newton, and perhaps to most of you as well]. At all times, the distance between the Sun and Jupiter would be the same.
Seen from the CM [it is actually impossible to put a free observer there, not because the Sun is too hot, but because at the distance of only a million km from the center of the Sun, the orbital period would be very short rather than 12 years – but let that slide, this is a thought experiment after all, and as I have said in earlier posts, it is allowed to not follow the laws of Nature]
The Sun would be observed by that observer to revolve about the CM in precisely 12 years and Jupiter would too, located at the opposite point in the sky. Because an observer on the Sun already does not feel any forces [we are ignoring the already calculated minute tidal forces that raise the surface by a hard to measure one thousandth of a meter], us placing an imagined observer at the CM seeing the Sun compete a very tight orbit about the CM would not suddenly cause the observer on the Sun to feel anything.
I could now add another planet [or my little pea from a previous discussion] to displace the CM somewhat. That would still not affect the motion of Jupiter and the Sun [except from very, very small gravitational perturbations], nor, all the sudden cause the observer on the Sun to begin to feel any forces. The CM would now not move in the neat circles from before, but in a more complicated path because of the new planet. Seen from the Sun, the two planets would still move in their perfectly circular orbits with their distances being constant. But, as the CM now moves in a complicated path, the Sun [and the planets] will seen from the gyrating CM move in correspondingly complicated orbit[s]. But this is only because we have chosen to view the Sun from a wildly moving point, just like the trees on a downhill mountain side seem to weave left and right seen by a slalom skier completing her run.
This is about as clear as I can make it. If this does not work, I don’t know what else to say.

August 3, 2008 9:48 pm

Dennis Sharp: why has the Sun’s conveyor belt slowed down? What would make it speed up again?
First, we don’t know yet what the ‘belt’ is doing at depth in the convection zone, we have only observed it close to the surface. Second, the ‘belt’ is like any other circulation, e.g. in the Earth’s atmosphere. There are internally driven waves, changes associated with changing temperature gradients, etc, so there could be many reasons that we eventually will figure out. Third, it is not certain that the belt has anything to do with the solar cycle because some models postulate that.
Robert Wood: What is the gravitational potential of an object at the center of the Earth?
The potential is V = -GM(r)/r. If M(r) = 4pi/3 * density* r^3, then V = – 4piG/3 * density * r^2, hence zero for r=0. The redshift is proportional to the potential hence goes to zero as well. I’m not quite sure what you mean by light ‘falling’, but since it is OT,maybe no need to dwell on that.

August 3, 2008 10:05 pm

Robert Wood: leebert forgot the whole quote: The main reason for the smallness of this effect is that differences between gravitational forces do not fall off with the square of the distance, but with the cube of the distance but I took the whole quote to be understood, so no cleverness.

Jerker Andersson
August 4, 2008 2:01 am

There is no doubt that SC23 is longer and SC24 is later than predicted.
NASA had a prediction that said SC24 would start March 08 but where split in the question if SC24 would be strong or weak.
Those who said that SC24 would be strong would change their minds and go for a small SC24 if it started after March 08 which should result in consensus that SC24 will be small. While it is a fact that SC24 now is really late, have NASA changed their mind towards a weak SC24 yet?
2nd question I have, are we able to predict a new Maunder minimum or will it strike us by surprise without any notice? Looking back in history those minimums seems to happen a few times every millenium and since it is about 350 years last one started it is not impossible that the next one is on the way. That is just my personal reflection about the frequency of Maunder type of solar minimums though.
But the question still remains, IF we can’t predict a new Maunder Minimum, how can we know that a new one isn’t on the way?
If a new MM will have the same impact on Europe as the last one, severe crop failures will once again hit us for decades. So imo it is important to know what causes such minimums and be able to predict them.
We have allready seen what food shortage can do to the world the last year, adding a possible solar driven cold period would be even worse.

August 4, 2008 4:28 am

Jerker A:
NASA has not changed their mind yet [they should].
MMs seem to occur at random:
Grand minima and maxima of solar activity: new observational constraints
Usoskin, I. G.; Solanki, S. K.; Kovaltsov, G. A.
Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 471, Issue 1, August III 2007, pp.301-309
Aims.Using a reconstruction of sunspot numbers stretching over multiple millennia, we analyze the statistics of the occurrence of grand minima and maxima and set new observational constraints on long-term solar and stellar dynamo models. Methods: We present an updated reconstruction of sunspot number over multiple millennia, from 14C data by means of a physics-based model, using an updated model of the evolution of the solar open magnetic flux. A list of grand minima and maxima of solar activity is presented for the Holocene (since 9500 BC) and the statistics of both the length of individual events as well as the waiting time between them are analyzed. Results: The occurrence of grand minima/maxima is driven not by long-term cyclic variability, but by a stochastic/chaotic process. The waiting time distribution of the occurrence of grand minima/maxima deviates from an exponential distribution, implying that these events tend to cluster together with long event-free periods between the clusters. Two different types of grand minima are observed: short (30-90 years) minima of Maunder type and long (>110 years) minima of Spörer type, implying that a deterministic behaviour of the dynamo during a grand minimum defines its length. The duration of grand maxima follows an exponential distribution, suggesting that the duration of a grand maximum is determined by a random process. Conclusions: These results set new observational constraints upon the long-term behaviour of the solar dynamo.

Arthur Glass
August 4, 2008 6:05 am

‘…Are you with the Maunder cult, the Dalton cult, the hybrid cult, the Svalgaard cult, the normal cult, the Hathaway cult, or the Dikpati cult? (or are some of them sects? ;-))
How about the Blue Oyster Cult.
Thanks for the clarifications on determining the length of a solar cycle. Now if anyone wants to explain to me slo-o-owly the 88 year cycle with enharmonics, you will have my rapt attention.
That Cycle 24 plage seems to have been yet another damp squib.

August 4, 2008 8:43 am

Arthur Glass: I don’t think there is a 88-year cycle. There does seem to be a slow variation of sunspots over a time span of about 100 years, but this is not really a ‘cycle’, and we don’t have any good explanation for why there are those ‘heaves’ in solar activity, just like we don’t really know what causes the ~60-year ‘cycle’ in the PDO. Some internal wave or oscillation may be the cause of both.

August 4, 2008 10:46 am

Your discussion on barycenters reminds me of the first time I was told that magnetic field lines do not exist. It took me months of discussion before I realized they were indeed mathematical constructs and don’t exist in reality.
Unless I am missing something, the same is true of barycenters. Something which does not exist in reality cannot cause real effects. Ergo, no barycenter effects.

August 4, 2008 12:06 pm

Well, with regards to an observed object affected by the observer, maybe we shold stop all this activity.
After all, we are dramatically changing the climate of our world – why not etrapolate that to our sun?

August 4, 2008 1:01 pm

hmmm – so much of interest on barycentres and cycles, predictive powers and correlations to climate here on Earth – as a general ecologist (and policy analyst) with advisory roles on land-use management and occasionally a little bit on energy policy, I try to keep myself up to date with all the relevant fields of discussion – its not easy!
Firstly – why no mention of Theodore Landscheidt’s work on correlating the movement of the barycentre with Gleissberg cycles of solar activity – or am I way out of date and Gleissberg cycles don’t exist. In his 2004 paper in Energy and Environment, Landscheidt generated a wave-form from the Newtonian physics of the barycentre movement – and articulated a theory of transfer of angular momentum as a potential driver of solar activity – whatever the soundness of this conjecture, he was able to predict both ENSO peaks and the amplitude of the sunspot cycle (to the apparent irritation of NASA, with whom he appears to have worked – and who couldn’t do either).
i couldn’t follow his further reasoning – that the wave form shifted phase and the lower amplitudes touched a threshold which triggered a following minimum – he gave a Dalton type for cycle 24 onwards as 15% and a Maunder type as 85%.
As far as I know, that might be entirely discredited – I haven’t seen it discussed, but one thing I do recall is that he talked of an 8 year time lag between solar and ocean cycles (to which his methodology was applied) and he predicted that the last major El Nino would be in 2002 – and lower than the 1998 high (which he also predicted in advance would follow from the 1990 solar maximum) – and he said that this last El Nino would obscure the effects of the lower solar 2000 maximum (which he predicted) until the end of 2007, when global cooling would become obvious!
I asked the Danish Space Centre (might have been Henrik Svensmark, certainly him or one of his colleagues) why they had not replicated Landscheidt’s work and the reply was they hadn’t thought about doing that and maybe they should. Is there anyone who has?
And meanwhile, back in Blighty, I asked our Hadley Centre if they could tell me whether the jetstream had shifted again – it did so in June 2007 and washed out our summer. We’ve had the same June experience – torrential rain and flooding in 2008. They couldn’t tell me as they don’t have anyone studying it – and referred me to a US aviation website that provides wonderful real-time graphics but no history.
As there are paleo-ecological studies that suggest the jetstream shifted south during the Maunder Minimum, and NASA has a team that is working on high level atmospheric winds shifting due to solar maximum/minimums probably driven by UV photochemical heating – I would have expected one of the foremost climate labs to at least have somebody studying the situation!
And finally, US hyrdo-geologist Charles Perry, will be giving a paper at the upcoming meeting of the Intl Geophysical Congress showing statistical correlations between solar cycles, the PDO, and shifts in the jetstream – all with time-lags that at first obscure the connections.
I am away from my office right now and can’t provide the links – but glad to if anyone wants to follow this up.

August 4, 2008 1:04 pm

PS – missed adding ‘probability’ after 15% Dalton and 85% Maunder……

Ted Annonson
August 4, 2008 1:39 pm

Magnetic lines may be just a mathematical construct, however the existence of the field remains. When using dip meters and a compass to locate geologic anomilies I always had to draw magnetic lines to illustrate my findings.
There are also gravitational anomilies where a line from head to toe through your center of gravity does not point toward the exact cente of the earth.

David Gladstone
August 4, 2008 1:59 pm

I understand what you’re saying, Leif, re: freefall. Ideed, if we look at the reported flight characteristics of UFOs, we see that unless the passengers were in free fall, they would be killed by the tidal forces and if that was true, we wouldn’t be seeing UFOs stopping on a dime and doing 180 degree turns instantly. Gravity is curvature.

Jeff Alberts
August 4, 2008 2:26 pm

I understand what you’re saying, Leif, re: freefall. Ideed, if we look at the reported flight characteristics of UFOs, we see that unless the passengers were in free fall, they would be killed by the tidal forces and if that was true, we wouldn’t be seeing UFOs stopping on a dime and doing 180 degree turns instantly. Gravity is curvature.

I didn’t realize we were seeing that, except in flights of fancy.

August 4, 2008 3:15 pm

David and Jeff: apart from the UFO nonsense, you can be in free fall and yet be killed by tidal forces: if you are falling freely feet-first into a black hole [or a neutron star] the difference between gravity between your feet and your head will kill you. Free fall and tides are two different things but are always experienced together. The tides on the Sun raised by Jupiter are one millimeter high [1/25th of an inch].

August 4, 2008 3:32 pm

peter taylor: again an example of that my explanation of why there is no barycentric effect was totally in vain. Landscheidt’s ideas are pseudo-astrology of the worst kind [I know by saying this that Landscheidt-supporters will be crawling out of the woodwork in droves, but so be it].
As to his predictions: here is one:
J. interdiscipl. Cycle Res., 1981, vol. 12, number 1, pp. 3-19.
ABSTRACT. The secular cycle of solar activity is related to the sun’s oscillatory motion about the center of mass of the solar system. […] The next minimum in the 79-year cycle will occur in 1990. It will be more pronounced than the minimum in 1811.
The observed maximum in 1990 was one of the largest three or four ever observed…
As an example of the Landscheidt’s style you may consider this:
CREATIVE FUNCTIONS OF CYCLES: Predictable Phase-Shift in Solar-Terrestrial Cycles [PDF 269K]
Foundation for the Study of Cycles, May/June 1989
ABSTRACT. Recent research has shown that cycles are at the core of creativity. They form antagonistic centers of polar tension, the competing realms of which generate fractal boundaries, sites of instability where new forms emerge. This knowledge, when applied to cycles and boundaries in the solar system, makes it possible to predict phases of instability, phase-shift, and emergence of new patterns in solar-terrestrial cycles.
We do best by leaving all this well alone.

David Gladstone
August 4, 2008 3:54 pm

Whether or not *you’ve* seen them, we’re just using their empirically reported flight characteristics to illustrate an idea. Leif, by dismissing UFOs with a word, nonsense, you are showing ignorance and your objection does not represent a serous problem at all for any ‘alleged’ UFO crew.
g force is zero at center of mass of the free-falling frame
tidal force is the spatial derivative of g
no problem- differential calculus.
I know this is OT, but just a final word.
This issue, like climate skepticism, cannot just be dealt with by hand-waving.
Perhaps also, you missed Dr. Edgar Mitchell’s announcement that indeed the Gov’t, has been involved with all this ‘nonsense’ for years. I don’t think you or anyone else has the standing to refute him with a hand wave.
Reply: REEEAAAALLLYYYY off topic. Please let’s not expound on this any further~charles the moderator.

David Gladstone
August 4, 2008 4:14 pm

A reply to Leif was required, his objection needed to be dealt with, so, I think it’s only fair to let Leif consider what I wrote here, which is not irrelevant to our solar topic, Charles.
g force is zero at center of mass of the free-falling frame tidal force is the spatial derivative of g
no problem.

August 4, 2008 4:23 pm

David Gladstone: unless passengers were in free fall, they would be killed by the tidal forces and if that was true, we wouldn’t be seeing UFOs stopping on a dime and doing 180 degree turns instantly
Although UFOs and my ignorance about them is OT, the free-fall/tidal-force things are not. The 180 turns on a dime does not generate any tidal forces or gravitational forces, but centrifugal forces [and those will kill you and them as well].

David Gladstone
August 4, 2008 4:34 pm

Leif, ok…
The radii of curvature at the center of mass of the ufo must be very large compared to its size in order that tidal forces not damage the crew and equipment. They feel no g-forces in sharp turns in warp drive.
if they fall into a black hole they will be killed, of course.
differential tidal force ~ (gradient of the g-force)(size of object)

August 4, 2008 4:42 pm

Ted Annonson,
Yep, the magnetic field exists, and field lines are useful for illustration when because they correspond with something that exists. If they did not, the illustration would be meaningless.
The Gravitational field (or more properly the curvature of spacetime) exists, and the barycenter is useful for illustration, when they correspond with something that exists. When they do not, the illustration is meaningless.
Leif used an thought experiment where he moves a pea some great distance from the sun in order to change the location of the sun-pea barycenter. But this new location does not correspond with the warping of spacetime, and the barycenter illustration is meaningless.

August 4, 2008 4:49 pm

David Gladstone: assuming that the turn is in a horizontal plane, g-force is constant, thus gradient of g is zero, thus tidal force is also 0. No tidal forces from turns, no matter how small or large the ‘radii of curvature’ are. When you talk about warp-drives you are leaving me and science as we know it behind in the dust. I’ll gladly assent to ignorance in that regard, and with warp being brought in, solar topics take leave.

August 4, 2008 5:07 pm

Raphael: “The Gravitational field (or more properly the curvature of spacetime) exists, and the barycenter is useful for illustration, when they correspond with something that exists. When they do not, the illustration is meaningless”
is somewhat muddled. The gravitational field exists [provided there is some mass]. The barycenter exists [in our head] because it is a computed quantity.
Leif used an thought experiment where he moves a pea some great distance from the sun in order to change the location of the sun-pea barycenter. But this new location does not correspond with the warping of spacetime, and the barycenter illustration is meaningless
the pea exists [in the experiment] and changes the barycenter of the Solar System [which now includes the pea]. This new barycenter exists [in our head] just as much as the old one, because it is now computed with the pea included.
In either case, the two barycenters do not warp spacetime, but the pea certainly does. The meaning associated with the barycenters [before and after the pea] is the same; the central issue is that the Sun does not feel any force by us moving the barycenter around [with the pea] or by the planets revolving in their orbits, and that therefore the solar cycle is not due to the Sun moving in a tight and jerky orbit as seen from the moving barycenter. And this provides our link back to the topic of the blog.

August 4, 2008 5:12 pm

Just one simple question? Would observers above the plane of the Solar System see the Sun wobble as the planets orbited it? I understand that the Sun will perceive no acceleration and I am not asking about tidal effects.
Thanks in advance.

August 4, 2008 5:15 pm

Ooops! I waited too long to post my previous comment. I hope I have not just asked a redundant question. Sorry If I have.

August 4, 2008 5:30 pm

statePoet: asks “Would observers above the plane of the Solar System see the Sun wobble as the planets orbited it?
A good illustration can be found at the Wikipedia site for barycenter
here showing two bodies with unequal mass orbiting each other. You can see their orbits as the red circles. Note that the distance between the two bodies stays constant = the sun of the two radii. And that was the original question that started all this: should we adjust the f10.7 radio flux for the barycenter distance rather than the Sun distance?

August 4, 2008 5:34 pm

the ‘sum’, not the ‘sun’ of the two radii. moderator: fix and remove if not against policy.

August 4, 2008 7:54 pm

Thank you very much. I’ll press my luck and ask another. What if the curvature of space the Sun orbits in is not uniform across the diameter of the Sun as it moves through that space? Is this just another way to think of tides?
Thanks for your patience.

August 4, 2008 9:04 pm

statepoet: yes that gives rise to tides. A more ‘classical’ explanation would be that the force between, say Jupiter, and a parcel of the Sun’s atmosphere just ‘under’ Jupiter is larger than between Jupiter and a parcel of the Sun at the center, simply because the former parcel is closer to Jupiter. The reverse is true for a parcel on the ‘anti-Jupiter’ side. The result is a one-half millimeter high tidal bulge on the Sun.

August 4, 2008 9:26 pm

Now I’ll risk your wrath. Is it possible that the periodic occurrence of tides might cause a resonance that might amplify their size? Don’t hit me, I’m just curious. (Still, I mustn’t forget what happened to that cat.)
You’ve probably covered this before but I either wasn’t here or not paying attention.

August 4, 2008 9:44 pm

statepoet: this does not happen in the Earth’s oceans and in the Sun there are tides from all the planets at different times. The tide due to Venus is almost as big as that due to Jupiter. So, no, the tides do not add up and up and up…
Furthermore, people have investigated if sunspots occur in concert with these individual tides and found that they do not.

August 4, 2008 10:51 pm

If the curvature of the space that the Sun orbits in is not uniform across the Sun’s diameter as the Sun moves through that space wouldn’t the Sun’s movement in its orbit impart a spin to the Sun because one side of the Sun (facing the center of the Sun’s orbit) would be traveling in a more warped space than the opposite side?
Thanks for indulging my idle curiosity.

August 4, 2008 10:54 pm

Oops, I posted before I checked to see if you replied. OK, so much for tidal resonance. This is so much fun for me. May God bless you.

August 4, 2008 11:05 pm

actually, I should have just said “a differently warped space” instead of “a more warped space”.

August 4, 2008 11:20 pm

That muddled paragraph was actually intentional, I was outlining an easy to understand parallel between a magnetic field line and a barycenter. If someone understands why a magnetic field line does not exist in reality, the parallel is obvious.
If you can teach someone that a barycenter is a mental construct, it is a simple matter to show why there is no effect.
Since the barycenter issue keeps popping up, I’d recommend refining your reply to my comments to teach someone who has a limitted understanding of science. Then you can simply paste it (or link to it) as a reply when some says, “Barycenter effect!”
Best wishes

August 5, 2008 12:02 am

Raphael: The puzzling question is why the barycenter comes up all the time? Where do people get this [non-obvious – with a difficult word even] idea from? Maybe it is one of Richard Dawkins’ memes that somehow has strong survival skill.

August 5, 2008 12:28 am

I have said nothing about them barywhatevers. I just trying to get a grip on the implications of warped space.

August 5, 2008 1:28 am

I looked within my heart
and saw that it was dark.
“Methinks I am a fright;
myself I cannot fight!”
And then I saw a light.

August 5, 2008 3:59 am

Lief (cc: Robert Wood):
> I took the whole quote to be understood, so no cleverness.
My bad.
What of Hathaway’s predictions for SC #25? Does this help us understand the longer-term magnitude of change in overall solar behavior?
We’ve touched on this before. I understand your view on the conveyor theory (vs. percolation in the superadiabatic plasma (and my poor layman’s brain just about burst, but I soldiered on…), but there is some kind of poleward motion, and it has slowed.
Can the observation of slowed sunspot groups be explained via the percolation/magnetic model? That is, if the overall conveyor theory were wrong could it only be because the convective layer isn’t structured quite as described? What else would drive the poleward motion (both speed & direction)?
Or would inter-model ecumenicalism be too far back in the rear pews of either sect? 🙂
IAC, this’ll be my last post for a time, we’re relocating across the USA, but not first without rambling about the continent in our motor home.
Lief, it’s been very enjoyable discussing the sun & Earth with you! I’ll check in to see if you have a chance to reply. You’re a great sport for putting up with so many hopelessly earnest but horribly naive questions. You deserve the Fred Rogers prize for equanimity and feigned aplomb or something! — Lee

anna v
August 5, 2008 6:31 am

As an outside physicist observer, i.e. not at all related to solar and astronomy, I would like to add my two lepta of the euro.
1) Of course Leif is right and the barycenter is a mathematical construct created for convenience of calculations.
2) The tides in planetary systems are correlated with the motion of the barycenter. Take the earth moon system, where the barycenter is on the line connecting to the moon and you can see the correlation.
I have not done the calculations but accept that the tides due to Jupiter etc on the sun are of the order of a millimeter.
On the other hand, the calculations of the tide on earth from the moon give something around 37 cm. Everybody knows though that there are tides in the sea that can be ten meter high. Why and how? the floor of the ocean and the funneling and the turbulence that is created combine to amplify by more than ten times the effect.
Thus I would not exclude the possibility of such amplifications in the flows of plasma and what nots that the sun is composed of, if the “surfaces”/interfaces” are not uniform and smooth , which they are not as the sunspots and other outcroppings show.
In addition I would keep an open mind because gravity is much stronger on the sun, and a mm tide on earth carries much less energy than a mm tide on the sun.
I am not saying that it must be so. I am saying that we should have an open mind that a sun model may come up that might explain correlations that some people see in the data and the motion of the sun about the barycenter. ( which is the reason barycenters come up again and again. Correlations are sexy)
And then again it might not be possible to create such a model.

August 5, 2008 7:52 am

leebert: On Earth, the meridional circulation is driven by the temperature difference between equator and pole, same on the Sun. A slight variation [a few degrees] of temperature is all that is needed. Now, what drives the temperature difference? We still have a lot to learn. So your questions don’t have easy answers.
anna: “a mm tide on earth carries much less energy than a mm tide on the sun“, but on the Sun, that energy is spread over a vastly greater mass and volume, to the energy density is much less. Because the Sun has a deep convection zone, the outer layers are is well mixed [‘boiling pot’], so ‘structure’ is hard to come by. “Open mind” can be driven too far. As a heckler once shouted at a conference where the speaker extolled the virtue of an open mind: “but not so open that your brain falls out!”.

August 5, 2008 8:03 am

Anna V.
My take on this is that any marginal tidal effect would have such a minuscule effect were the sun only a gas giant (with plenty of internal turbulence). But the sun is far larger and with energy levels and turbulence so immense I think the case becomes even weaker.
This might be a chicken & egg quandary. The correlations aren’t quite on, as Lief showed, they’re offset a bit. If they’re offset, but consistently offset, it could suggest a lag effect going either way. That is, the correlation is there, but maybe the sun has driven the pattern to settle into a neatly stable system.
The heliophysicists who study the problem seem to be onto something in understanding the chaotic system. All chaotic systems are prone to cyclic behaviors, so we would expect overlapping phase peaks & troughs as the various subsystems come in and out of phase, resulting in solar weather trends. IOW, can we explain what the sun’s doing without using the dreaded “b” word?
Also, the percolative nature of sun spots seems dramatic enough to us, but in terms of net energy flux, it’s less than a percent. Enough to get our attention here on Earth, but a fart in a hurricane to the sun.
Wouldn’t a lonely star without any planets go through energy cycles? Just a guess, but I’d reckon so.

August 5, 2008 8:27 am

leebert: “Wouldn’t a lonely star without any planets go through energy cycles? Just a guess, but I’d reckon so
I think so too. There is just one problem: how do you create such a star? all [low-mass] stars must have planets as they condense out of their circumstellar disk.

August 5, 2008 8:51 am

“many hopelessly earnest but horribly naive questions.” leebert
OK, I don’t know General Relativity. Just let me pose just one more question?
1) Space is warped by mass, correct?
2) It is very unlikely that space is uniformly warped, also correct?
3) Then how can a body with a significant diameter move through space without experiencing some real or virtual torque on it since opposite sides of the object will be going through differently warped space?
But short of an answer to number 3) can anyone recommend a good primer on General Relativity?
Thanks in advance.

August 5, 2008 9:05 am

statePoet: there will be effects from the differently warped space, the point is that these effects are very, very small. Like the effect on the truck of an 18-wheeler running over an ant at 100 mph [actually, much smaller]. Google G.R. books and ye shall find. But the effects we are talking about are the same in good ole’ Newtonian Mechanics. In fact, Newton himself explained the tidal phenomenon. No need for G.R. to understand this.

August 5, 2008 9:13 am

thanks Leif for alerting me to Landscheidt’s not so perfect record of predictions – I will revisit his material where he claims his methodology has proven accurate. I didn’t pick up any references in his papers to astrology – so if he indulged in that art privately, it would be no reason to dismiss his work – Newton was rather fond of the practice too.
So, what now is the take on Gleissberg cycles? Are they not derived from paleontological studies of ice, sediments and the like? They have short and long cycles, rather like the Schwabe and Halle cycles. Are we to consider that anything longer than these two latter is, as Ilya Usoskin seems to be arguing, chaotic phenomena? Chaos may simply be the label for everything that lies outside of our predictive methodology.
Am I the only one beginning to feel distinctly uncomfortable at these last minute data changes – as with carbon dioxide and the sea-ice extent (not to mention James Hansen’s predelections). In my admittedly skimping reviews of other fields, I note that Hansen also held that satellite data showing increased SW radiation fluxes to the surface 1980-2000 – quite enough to drive all the global warming, plus sudden losses of LW to space at about the time the oceans recorded sudden cooling, were all subject to doubt because of calibration issues on the instruments. I could add the same doubts about the ISCCP cloud data showing 4% thinning over the same time period. The expression of doubt by such a senior figure may account for this data being given less than adequate attention by the IPCC.
Yet another instant was the withdrawal, also due to instrument re-calibration of all the oceanographic data that showed a 20% fall in ocean heat content between 2003-2005 – which happened only a few months after publication.
perhaps it is simply that any data that runs counter to expectations receives a lot more scrutiny…..

Pamela Gray
August 5, 2008 9:51 am

I have always thought that whatever the Sun and Universe are putting out and beaming to planets should be measured on each planet as well as measured objectively. Each planet comes with its own atmosphere, gravity, and chemical mixes that I believe interact with the Sun. A smooth surface may interact differently. A solid color planet may interact differently. A water planet, gas planet, land planet, far away planet, close planet, all have different ways of responding to the Sun and the Universe.
So I prefer to think about measures of the Sun/Universe “stuff” from here on Earth, through our atmosphere down to about head level, where the temperature makes me freeze or sweat, or makes wheat freeze or grow, or makes tomatoes red or green (or not at all) at the end of the growing season. I know it sounds selfish, but so many rules and regulations are being made based on, or ignorant of, what is out there and how it affects my head and my crops.
Is this an unreasonable view of data? So if the Sun is further away, whatever flux is at that time from our view here on Earth is to me more practicable than what it is from a space craft above our atmosphere.
Its all about me ;>)

August 5, 2008 10:19 am

Thank you. But G.R. is sexy and if i am going to revisit my poorly learned physics then I need all the excitement I can get. Perhaps with the hopefully 60 remaining years of my life and a 40 day fast or two ala Pythagoras, I can digest it.

August 5, 2008 10:41 am

“Its all about me ;>)” Pam
Of course, only conscious beings are of any consequence since we are the only things capable of suffering. When people speak of “saving the earth” I wish to tell them “The earth doesn’t care whether it is ‘saved’ or not; it is the people and higher animals that are important.” Once, this was obvious knowledge, but these days I am not too sure.
It’s all about you,
but it’s also about me,
and if any others care,
it’s also about ye.

August 5, 2008 10:41 am

(taking a break from packing)
On open minds & relativity.
I have a Buddhist analogy on these things that I wrote for my kids. Experience is a fixed thing, like a cartoon character being drawn going extremely fast through a movie. The Road Runner’s watch slows down relative to the clocks in the movie (Wiley E. Coyote becomes old, dies & turns to dust…) but the Road Runner’s “rate” of experience is the same, just the information around him becomes ever more impermanent.
But what is the experience and what is the information? The movie screen is like Self, with an audience eager to see something happening on it. But we are looking at the wrong thing, the projector is the source of the movie, not the screen. The lamp, well… don’t look to the finger pointing to the moon. 🙂
We can suspend disbelief too much in some ways, but discernment is part of being open to experience. Ego defends self from surrendering experiences.
W. E. Coyote is too full of ego, however & is reborn in his constant clinging to catching the RR who has become relativistic. W.E. Coyote is our paragon of suffering, clinging to impermanence. The RR is the proverbial Buddha being met on the road & poor W.E. Coyote is always trying to kill him.
( I doubt Warner Brothers would approve…. 😉
OK, here’s a little thought experiment I pose to my kids:
How much of the universe can you fit on the head of a pin?
And Is there a difference if the pin head were smaller?

August 5, 2008 10:49 am


I think so too. There is just one problem: how do you create such a star? all [low-mass] stars must have planets as they condense out of their circumstellar disk.

Have Darth Competent disintegrate them with his Dearth Sta?

August 5, 2008 2:46 pm

statePoet: if you are serious about G.R. then I can recommend :
General Relativity: A Geometric Approach
By Malcolm Ludvigsen
Published by Cambridge University Press, 1999
ISBN 052163976X, 9780521639767
217 pages
leebert: A modern treatment of the dancing angels problem can be found here

August 5, 2008 3:53 pm

It is not primarily the tidal effects which causes the changes in the Sun’s output, but it is the extreme points in the variations of the solar angular momentum which causes the changes according to Landscheidt and others. In other words it’s the wobbles of the Sun’s trajectory, the Sun is a rotating gyro, which results in variation in the forces on the plasma with the strongest forces at the equator and successive lower forces at higher latitudes.
Therefore the angular rotation of the plasma near the equator is higher near the equator than near the poles and higher near the surface then in the interior of the Sun.
These changes are considerably in its scale. The orbital angular momentum varies from -0.1•10E+47 to 4.3• 10E+47 g cm2 s-1
I have the barycentric values for the Sun from JPL and I just looked at the low extreme values during the solar minima which causes the low temperatures.
Here is the year and values
1632 -0.04e+47
1656 0.51e+47
1671 0.08e+47
1694 0.63e+47
1772 0.23e+47
1795 0.93e+47
1811 -0.09e+47
1835 0.66e+47
1951 0.12e+47
1990 -0.08e+47
2029 0.16e+47
As you can see the extreme value during 1990 was deeper than during the first and deepest extreme point during the Maunder minimum in 1632, but almost of the same size as in 1811 during the Dalton minimum. The extreme points seem to occur 15-20 years before the temperature drops on Earth.

August 5, 2008 4:38 pm

Thanks. I ordered the book. I prefer to read the old fashioned way from a book . The books looks good. And now for dancing angels.

August 5, 2008 4:43 pm

Per: “In other words it’s the wobbles of the Sun’s trajectory, the Sun is a rotating gyro, which results in variation in the forces on the plasma with the strongest forces at the equator and successive lower forces at higher latitudes.
Therefore the angular rotation of the plasma near the equator is higher near the equator than near the poles and higher near the surface then in the interior of the Sun.

What you describe is physically muddled, for a correct description of the rotation and flows in the Sun see f.ex. here
In any event, if there are so large variations in the angular momentum of the Sun, the rotation rate should vary a lot with time. No such variation has been securely observed over hundreds of years of observation. Very subtle changes have been claimed from time to time, but no generally accepted picture has been established, so it is not clear what effect the non-existent changes in the rotation rate will have on the temperature of the Earth or any other quantity.

August 5, 2008 5:16 pm

Per dancing angels, what a waste of brilliant minds. Would you kindly ask a friend or two to apply their minds to why we may be heading into an economic depression? I am just so sure that it is a high priority of God that dancing angels be considered when millions may end up unemployed or worse. Just as sure as I am that He wants us to be concerned about global climate when instead of trying to win over the heathens, we are killing them! We haven’t got 10 simple Commandments down but He expects us to control the Earth’s climate?
And what about those pure mathematicians who want nothing to do with real applications? Should their jobs be spared in a depression?
But on the other hand, it might be safer for the world if they just stay in their abstract world. Still, it is their world too. They should at least be a little concerned about it. Let them develop a decent economic simulator. Somebody has clearly screwed up.
/rant off

August 5, 2008 7:03 pm

I think the reason it is a common question is obvious. Teachers tell students, “This is how it works.” The students infer that this is an accurate depiction of reality, while it was only “a depiction good enough for our purposes.” When taught the basics of gravity, the barycenter is either stationary or moving smoothly between two bodies. The students infer these are “real” rather than “good enough.”
End formal education.
If they later consider a many body problem, It is rather obvious that the barycenter will behave in a new fashion. If they believe their understanding is real, it is logical for them to conclude that this new behavior requires additional forces to explain. Further, it is natural to wonder what effect those forces have.

August 5, 2008 7:16 pm

Rapharel: We can put your theory to the test by asking the readers here who are ‘barycenter enthusiasts’ if they disagree with your assessment.

August 5, 2008 9:30 pm

All we need now are some enthusiasts to speak up.

Evan Jones
August 5, 2008 11:49 pm

And I think it’s gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

anna v
August 6, 2008 2:02 am

Raphael (19:03:52) :
Terry Prachett and co authors in one of the three books “the science of Discworld” do a very good job in describing “lies we tell children as we educate them”, i.e. your “good enough”, and how this carries on all through the educational edifice. Example: mechanics is good enough for engineering, quantum mechanics for electronic engineering, … And the question is, our scientific knowledge limits are what is good enough at our level, or are they the ultimate limits? I would suspect the first, which is what I call keeping an open mind for a next generation of scientific creativity . After all, right before quantum mechanics upset the cart the physicists of that generation believed they had the theory of everything after Newton and Maxwell.
There is a greek word accompanying the word ‘hubris” which has not come through to the latin derived languages “Oiesis”, it means pride that leads to hubris. I find climatologists particularly are full of it, and possibly all scientists who are passionate about their research, as they should be, have some of it: you need to usurp fire from the gods.
And this pride leads people astray on a tangent from their level of “good enough”, from people believing in astrology and UFOs to climatologists believing the lies they tell all of us.
On the other hand this pride is what advances the frontiers of knowledge; the incessant push to see over the next mountain. As people, as a culture, we cover the whole phase space of possible and probable routes, until some of us hit on the current jackpot, or minimum Action line ( take your pick).

August 6, 2008 7:47 am

“As people, as a culture, we cover the whole phase space of possible and probable routes, until some of us hit on the current jackpot, or minimum Action line ( take your pick).” anna v
I was thinking something along those lines yesterday. Spooky action at a distance? But more along the lines of moral investigation. I do love western science. While other cultures can speculate about ultimate questions, the West is closing in on some answers. ETs for instance, where are they? What if we are the only intelligent life in the Universe? Doesn’t that put us back at the center of the universe? (Not literally, but in terms of importance.) I disagree with much that people believe, but i do appreciate, in many cases, that they are exploring the territory. SETI is NOT a waste of time even though I am almost certain that the only answer it will ever give is negative.

August 6, 2008 2:00 pm

> A modern treatment of the dancing angels problem can be found here
Hah. Saved for further musings.
After all, what observer made the first waves collapse into form? As the Diamond Sutra says, Form is Emptiness; Emptiness, Form. Or is the “Great Electron” just superposed in fractalesque splendor, reified by observation.
In Robert Sawyer’s amusing book “Calculating God,” he quotes the space alien saying “God observes, wavefronts collapse.”
Enter the (ahem) “quantum consciousness” speculations. Here’s one that cites Vajrayanist theology’s assertion that primordial mind in non-material realms counts as primordial wave-collapsing observers of the early cosmos. This writer claims “sentience” is the litmus, but that reifies mind as “consciousness” as representing quintessential “mind.” If this is a valid interpretation of of Vajrayanist theology, doesn’t this also introduce a God/creator concept?
“… quantum theory and sunyata suggest that as soon as an observer’s mind makes contact with a superposed system, all the numerous possibilities collapse into one actuality…
“…the evolving multiverse was thus always destined to resolve itself into a sufficiently ordered state to allow itself to be observed…
“…But where did the observing mind come from? Buddhist philosophers claim that minds are primordial and exist before entering their physical environment. In the early stages of its evolution the universe was, of course, uninhabitable for animals and humans.”
“…highly advanced … contemplatives speak of experiencing
… Rupadhatu, a form realm .. unperturbed by … the gross
physical cosmos. And beyond this is the arupyadhatu, a
formless realm … When the gross physical dimension of a
cosmos is uninhabitable, sentient beings reside in the
rupadhatu and arupyadhatu or in other inhabitable cosmoses.
Humans cannot dwell in the rupadhatu and arupyadhatu, though
these realms are accessible to a human mind that has been
highly refined through meditation….”
“…The bottom line of the participatory anthropic principle
is that minds can exist independently of matter, and they
create their actual environments from the potentialities
around them.”

Quoting myself from elsewhen….

I think “mind” needn’t be sentient, but even more primordial, and still the theology can hold together. Why would sentience be required? Couldn’t the self-evolving system of the early cosmos served as its own observer?
n his brief musings, he doesn’t define the limits of what’s
“OUTSIDE,” b/c every “next” parallel universe is just part of a
greater, higher-level universe. So when he infers that these are akin
to immaterial, formless realms, he’s looking to take a metaphysical
experience and plant it firmly in some unconfirmed, but amusing to
speculate, parallel universe that may or may not actually exist. He
also requires the observer to be OUTSIDE this universe, just like the
formless realm he assumes is as well. But this isn’t even required.
Nor is sentience. The extra-dimensional spaces could be the “great
It’s no surprise we want an anthropic, wave-collapsing, super-posing
eyeball watching our little petri dish in n-space & then succeed in
speculating accordingly. Makes for cool theosophical sci-fi, but
that’s about as far as I can take it. It doesn’t mean much otherwise,
it’s just ego-seducing fun that beckons us with a siren call of
beatific fractalesque wonders… ” If *I* can just attain that higher
realm …. ” But the extra-dimensional observers aren’t a-karmic,
they’re just in another part of a greater universe … so if you wan
the “real god,” you still have to go up yet another level … and
another, and another, and another & pretty soon it’s an infinity
mirrored stack of Great Turtles that vanishes into a haze of sweet
beatific speculative bliss … Owa, Tagu, Siam.

God: An anthropic, wave-collapsing, super-posing eyeball watching our little petri dish in n-space who intercedes in ways unseen, unknown and untested.
Reply:This may get deleted later as it is bait for a religious discussion WHICH WE DO NOT WANT, so please, please, no one take the bait~charles the moderator.

August 6, 2008 2:16 pm

I don’t like sushi to borrow someone else’s joke. Plus, pick your battles well is a motto I’m learning.

August 6, 2008 2:18 pm

Forget last post of mine, I may actually agree somewhat!

August 6, 2008 2:28 pm

Except I used the word correctly.

August 6, 2008 2:36 pm

Please abate from taking the bait.
Don’t be pushy, avoid the sushi.

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