In the New York Times:
For science that’s accessible but credible, steer clear of polarizing hatefests like atheist or eco-apocalypse blogs. Instead, check out scientificamerican.com, discovermagazine.com and Anthony Watts’s blog, Watts Up With That?
Of course, we can’t have that, now the howling begins. Some context below.
More from the New York Times Virginia Heffernan:
Clearly I’ve been out of some loop for too long, but does everyone take for granted now that science sites are where graduate students, researchers, doctors and the “skeptical community” go not to interpret data or review experiments but to chip off one-liners, promote their books and jeer at smokers, fat people and churchgoers? And can anyone who still enjoys this class-inflected bloodsport tell me why it has to happen under the banner of science?
Hammering away at an ideology, substituting stridency for contemplation, pummeling its enemies in absentia: ScienceBlogs has become Fox News for the religion-baiting, peak-oil crowd. Though Myers and other science bloggers boast that they can be jerky in the service of anti-charlatanism, that’s not what’s bothersome about them. What’s bothersome is that the site is misleading. It’s not science by scientists, not even remotely; it’s science blogging by science bloggers. And science blogging, apparently, is a form of redundant and effortfully incendiary rhetoric that draws bad-faith moral authority from the word “science” and from occasional invocations of “peer-reviewed” thises and thats.
Under cover of intellectual rigor, the science bloggers — or many of the most visible ones, anyway — prosecute agendas so charged with bigotry that it doesn’t take a pun-happy French critic or a rapier-witted Cambridge atheist to call this whole ScienceBlogs enterprise what it is, or has become: class-war claptrap.
h/t to Tim Lambert of Deltoid, hosted by Scienceblogs who couldn’t bring himself to reference anything else here at WUWT with his collection of supposed gotchas, only the one point where he was sure he could get a dig in:
Heffernan reckons that Whats Up With That presents credible science. This is a blog that argues that Venus is hot, not because of the greenhouse effect, but because of the high pressure in the atmosphere (so hence Jupiter and Saturn are the hottest planets right?) . Look:
If there were no Sun (or other external energy source) atmospheric temperature would approach absolute zero. As a result there would be almost no atmospheric pressure on any planet -> PV = nRT
Only if there was no such thing as gravity.
Umm, Tim, can you tell me what gases on Venus remain in a non-solid state at temperatures approaching absolute zero? What happens to solidified gases like dry ice (Frozen Carbon Dioxide) in a (planetary) gravitational field? Here’s an experiment to help you get the answer:
1. Acquire some dry ice
2. Go outside
3. Toss it upwards into the atmosphere
The point that was being made in that article by Goddard is that with no external energy source (the Sun) Venusian atmospheric gases would contract and eventually freeze at near absolute zero and cling to the surface of the planet, thanks to gravity.
What will happen to the gas at absolute zero temperature (0 K)?
Asked by: Rohit
First of all, the gas will no longer be a gas at absolute zero, but rather a solid. As the gas is cooled, it will make a phase transition from gas into liquid, and upon further cooling from liquid to solid (ie. freezing). Some gases, such as carbon dioxide, skip the liquid phase altogether and go directly from gas to solid.
First off, 0K can never be achieved, since the amount of entropy in a system can never be equal to zero, which is the statement of the second law of thermodynamics. This can be nicely illustrated by your question:
Using the state equation for an ideal gas:
PV = nRT
T, the thermodynamic temperature will be equal to 0, so the product of the molar gas constant R (8.31 J/mol/K) and the amount of moles n, will also be zero.
Therefore the product of PV must be zero also. the pressure of the gas must be zero or volume of the gas must be zero
As an example, look at the Ice Caps of Mars, still well above absolute zero but below the freezing point of Carbon Dioxide:
The polar caps at both poles consist primarily of water ice. Frozen carbon dioxide accumulates as a thin layer about one metre thick on the north cap in the northern winter only, while the south cap has a permanent dry ice cover about eight metres thick.
As we see in the Physlink description, a planetary wide near absolute zero temperature (if the sun blinked off), all the rest of Mars atmosphere would be bound to the surface as a solid too. The result: no atmosphere and no atmospheric pressure.
UPDATE: As is typical anytime somebody not on the team that gets a voice or mention, those who deal in mudslinging and angry rhetoric swarm in to squash it and convince the writer of the “wrongness” of it all.
Here’s a comment from Virginia Heffernan after she’s had the treatment here. Note the number of angry labels preceding her response.
July 31st, 2010 at 12:00 am
I’m grateful for all the replies. Nice to meet you here, David.
I get the sense that Pepsigate was the last straw – or not the first, anyway – for at least some of the dissenters from ScienceBlogs. Out of curiosity: Did no one quietly resign over PZ Myers’s Mohammad cartoons? Or question whether they wanted to be part of a network to which he’s the main draw?
In my experience, legacy media types, who do kick up furors over stuff like Mohammad cartoons, nonetheless see *debate* over ad-ed breaches as common, especially now because of the confusion what old-media road rules mean in digital times.
With notable exceptions, blogging, as a form, seems to me to have calcified. Many bloggers who started strong 3-5 years ago have gotten stuck in grudge matches. This is even more evident on political blogs than on science blogs. In fact, after being surprised to find the same cycles of invective on ScienceBlogs that appear on political blogs (where they’re well documented), I started to think the problem might be with the form itself. Like many literary and art forms before it (New Yorker poetry, jazz, manifestos) blogs may have had a heyday – when huge numbers of people were inspired to make original contributions – before, seemingly all at once, the moment is gone. Some people keep doing it, and doing it well, but the wave of innovation passes, and the form itself needs new life. (Twitter? Tumblr?)
I have no training in science. My surprise at ScienceBlogs was akin to the surprise a scientist who might feel if he audited a PhD seminar on Wallace Stevens. Why aren’t they talking about “Anecdote of the Jar”?! Why are they talking about how “misogyny intrinsic to the modernist project”? I saw political axe-grinding bring the humanities almost to a standstill in the 1990s. I thought science was supposed to be above that!
One regret: the Watts blog. Virtually everyone who emailed me pointed out that it’s as axe-grinding as anything out there. I linked to it because has a lively voice; it’s detail-oriented and seemingly not snide; and, above all, it has some beautiful images I’d never seen before. I’m a stranger to the debates on science blogs, so I frankly didn’t recognize the weatherspeak on the blog as “denialist”; I didn’t even know about denialism. I’m don’t endorse the views on the Watts blog, and I’m extremely sorry the recommendation seemed ideological.