Available Energy Decreases Over Time

Another quick one. The reason? I almost agree with it.

This is the part that I agree with, more or less:

There is less available energy today then there was yesterday.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that the entropy of an isolated system, such as the universe, that is not in equilibrium will tend to increase over time, approaching a maximum value at equilibrium. The Third Law of Thermodynamics states that as the temperature approaches absolute zero, the entropy of a system approaches a constant.

Fortunately for us, the temperature of the universe is not zero. It is moving that way each moment, but it is not there yet.

At some prior time, all the energy in the universe was available. Energy must have been created at some finite time in the past; otherwise we would have died long ago.

Interesting that this goes under the heading, The Universe is Stable. Depending on the answers to the problems raised in the previous article, the claims above may well be true. Hurray! But not for long…

The logical conclusion is that an infinite Creator made the universe a finite time ago.

Well, I dunno where the ‘infinite’ creator part comes from, and the whole sentence is a non-sequitur. That is to say, it’s not the logical conclusion. Assuming that the first part is correct and relevant (ie there is no way for energy or matter to enter the universe), we might well be able to say that the universe is of finite age. I’m no steady statesman, and they have their own ways around the problem. But to then say that we need a creator? Far too large a logical jump.

More Turtles on the Menu, Folks!

According to the Law of Conservation of Energy, and now the ICR, Energy Cannot Naturally Be Created Or Destroyed.

You’ll note that they differ from the usual phrase by the word ‘Naturally’. The author contends that the universe contains energy, and energy cannot be created, therefore God (or in this case, “our supernatural Creator”).

This is an interesting point, though more in where you go to answer it than any intrinsic value of it’s own. Leaving aside the whole turtles thing (What created God then? Oh, wait, you’re not supposed to ask that question. My bad), let’s look into it.

The Law of Conservation of Energy only works here by implying that the Universe is a closed, isolated system, where energy and matter cannot leave or enter. This sounds reasonable, but we don’t know that this is true. It might not be. So much for “the [only] logical conclusion”.

Then we have the question of how much energy there is in the universe. It isn’t infinite, it might even be nothing.

Considering we live in a time where we are just discovering dark matter and dark energy, and have not yet fully finished Big Bang theory, we are in no position to say anything concrete on this subject. You can’t prove it either way, at the moment. But it is too soon to jump to supernatural causes.

The Universe Was Created Recently, ish

Many clock-like processes operating in the solar system and beyond indicate that the universe is young. For example, spiral galaxies should not exist if they are billions of years old. The stars near their centers rotate around the galactic cores faster than stars at the perimeters. If a cosmology based on long ages is correct, they should have blended into disk-shaped galaxies by now.

“Spiral galaxies” aren’t in the solar system, but I’m sure I’ve already made worse mistakes. In any case, this is… odd. Unlike with the DpSU’s, there are no references in this article, so I can’t see where it’s coming from here. What makes a spiral galaxy not a disk galaxy also? If he is referring to the Galactic Bulge, this could be formed by cannibalism of other galaxies, and there are spiral galaxies without them. And the winding problem? There are answers, but the author hasn’t bothered to counter them in any way.

Comets pose a similar problem. They lose material each time they pass around the sun. Why would they still exist after vast eons?

There are thought to be billions of comets-in-waiting in the Oort cloud and in the nearer Kuiper Belt. Short period comets like Haley need not have gone round and around for all of the last few billion years.

Saturn’s rings still look new and shiny. And many planets and moons are very geologically active. Surely the energy they continually expend should have been spent long ago if they are as old as they are usually claimed to be.

The current material in Saturn’s rings is not all that old, coming from the break up of a moon. (Edit: or maybe not. Here’s a relevant blog post on the subject.). They are kept fresh by the constituent particles of ice bumping into each other and creating new, clean surfaces for light to reflect on. And I’ve already covered Io, which can be extended further. (As it happens, I’ve been alerted to the existence of a paper from nature on this subject, which very much suggests that the problem has been resolved, and not in favour of the creationists).

Instead, the more astronomers learn about the heavens, the more evidence there is that the universe is young.

Yeah, no… Try again.

Amber and Embryos – DpSU’s, May 30

There have been some rather amusing articles from Mr Thomas in the last few days…

To summarise the first, a CT scan of a 49 million year old spider trapped in amber (video) apparently challenges evolution, largely on the grounds that

  1. The spider’s relatives haven’t noticeably changed over the millennia, and
  2. The amber has rapidly oxidised and turned opaque since being found in 1854 – how can it have been 49 million years old?
  3. The Baltic Amber was caused by the Flood, as “a large deposit [of amber, such as in the Baltic,] implies massive damage to whole forests that was catastrophic enough to trap even “strong, quick animals.” This kind of broad-scale destruction is consistent with the global Flood or its residual catastrophes.”

The first is interesting – how much can you expect the surface of a spider to change over a few millennia, compared to another spider in the same genus? Considering, you understand, that you can’t see the colour and the specimen isn’t complete in all respects. I dunno myself, but I doubt it’s that much. As time passes, major changes in organism groups are decreasingly common, and spiders had been around for nearly 200 million years when the amber here was made. Thomas tried to make a similar argument not too long ago, when he claimed that horsetails hadn’t evolved much since the time of the dinosaurs (150 million years ago, in this case). Again, this isn’t unbelievable. What would be useful here is DNA for comparison, and despite what you might have seen on Jurrassic Park this is unfortunately not possible for either the horsetail or the spider specimen. This hardly “Confirms Creation”. It is also worth noting that the whole “Punctuated Evolution” saga is over the degree to which evolution occurs in bursts, nobody feels that evolution occurs “relentlessly”, even if more the most part mutations do.

As for the second, this is claimed to be a killing blow but in reality is glossed over somewhat. Thomas claims that “there are no known rock types that are able to totally block oxygen from passing through them”, which may well be true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the amount (or lack of) oxygen is sufficient to slow the rate of oxidation by orders of magnitude. Considering that it still took 150 or so years to turn opaque while out in the air, how long would it take under anaerobic conditions? Probably quite a while, I think. Tellingly, a section of a paper that I am unable to access states that “The high content of organic matter in the sediments [which sediments I don’t know] favours the preservation of amber by preventing its oxidation and destruction. Otherwise, in aerobic conditions, during pre-transport exposure to the atmosphere or reworking processes, amber oxidation takes place quickly”. Interesting…

The Flood reference seems a little out of place, or at least poorly backed up. It may well be true that amber appears as a result of catastrophe, but I can’t see how this could be caused by “the global Flood or its residual catastrophes”, the nature of which are not specified by Thomas or the Bible as far as I am aware. Indeed, Thomas provides no challenge to the dating of the amber at 49 million years, nor the insects in other pieces of amber, which are indeed different to their present forms.

As for the second, “Embryonic Tissue Development Needs More than Just DNA“, therefore God. Something like that, anyway…

I can’t claim to be an expert in this (or anything else), so I’ll take it that Thomas has faithfully reported the study that he is using for a source, and is merely adding his own interpretation. What he is claiming the study shows that if you stimulate muscle contractions in roundworms with a needle, you can cause stem cells to differentiate into epithelial cells. Fair enough, but then Thomas goes on to claim that this means that not all embryonic development is caused by DNA, and even further as to say that:

…the fact that specific elements other than DNA—in this case, nearby cells and their contractile motions—are required for proper development removes evolution from contention as a possible origins hypothesis, since evolution supposedly operates by making changes to DNA.[ref to own article] So if something other than DNA is needed to develop and sustain life forms, then evolution is out.

So, what causes these contractions in nature? (I’m assuming they do occur in nature, though it doesn’t necessarily follow). It’s possible that it comes back to DNA. Even if not, Thomas is attacking a straw man of evolution, in which DNA is the only agent of heredity. It doesn’t have to be – Darwin sure didn’t know about DNA or genes, and anything that permits “descent with modification” can be incorporated into the system. After all, why wouldn’t it be? Imagine, for a moment, that we’re talking mammals instead of minute invertebrates, and that the cause of the muscle contractions is the precise chemical composition of the fluids in the womb. Most likely, the make-up of this fluid is determined by the mother’s genes – evolution can still occur. If it comes from the food she eats, that is still determined by genes. Hypothetically it could come from an approximate synthesis of the fluid the mother experienced in the womb herself, but even here evolution can still occur, although DNA is no longer involved to such a degree. Mistakes can still be made, and Natural Selection can still punish them. Thomas needs to show that the only possible explanation of the roundworm muscle contractions is divine – Evolution can still act on anything else, except possibly direct environmental influence, but if this was generally harmful to the organism, it can be evolved away from, or if not the species will simply die off. Will he do it? Lets see…

…He doesn’t. Instead he goes off on a tangent with a dangerously large example of irreducible complexity. I.C is usually invoked for the very small, such as bacterial flagella, not for things as large as roundworms and other multicellular creatures, as it makes it more plausible that the arch really would collapse if one stone was removed. This makes it even more likely that this, like most – if not all – other examples of I.C. raised over the years, simply isn’t irreducibly complex. I couldn’t tell you if that was the case, however, so I’ll assume that the situation is indeed I.C. It would seem likely, then, that instead of a simpler origin to the situation, it began (or at least went through a period of being) far more complex, inefficient and redundant. As time and evolution passed, it became simpler and simpler until it could do so no more, like a mountain eroded down to a single, beautiful rock. As a result, it fits the definition of ‘irreducibly complex’, but has still evolved. As you would expect, Thomas does not mention this, and merely finishes thusly:

So, what does it take to make epithelial tissue in roundworms, and possibly in other creatures? The answer is: precisely the right DNA, the right hemidesmosomes, the right kinds of nearby muscle cells, and the right strength and duration of muscle contractions. Without all these features already in place and fine-tuned to work together, there would be no epithelial tissue, and as a result, no surviving creature.

Skin development could not have evolved by a gradual addition of traits, because this would require a version of the animal that did not already have all the required traits. Such a transitional form would have died, and the animal would not exist today. And since it certainly exists, it must have been created.

*sigh* And to think I thought irreducible complexity was dead…

The Universe Was Created Powerfully – Or, You Can’t Get Something From Nothing

Turtles, anyone?

So the premise of this article is twofold.

  1. You need a lot of ‘power’ to start a universe
  2. The universe is fine tuned for life

You know, the usual.

The argument from fine tuning has already been done to death, so I shan’t cover it here.

As for the power argument, here’s the crux of it:

To create matter and energy can only be done by a Creator who is outside of nature.

Quantum Physics, anyone? Virtual particles? It’s perfectly plausible that suddenly coming into existence is something that universes that contain nothing at all are inclined to do. And at any rate, who created God then?

It’s not uncommon for non-YEC theists to interpret Genesis as God lighting the fuse as it were, as they feel that science can’t explain it. A word for the wise – never stake anything important, like your faith, on the inability of science to explain something. History tells us that someday you’ll have to pay out…

(As an aside, I heard somewhere that the net energy content of the universe could well be zero. Then what’d they say?)

Quick DpSU’s #1

Here’re some quickies:

Self-Cloning Lizards Fit for Survival

So, some lizards can reproduce by a system akin to cloning – parthenogenesis – and this can be created in the lab. Also, “evolution has no useful explanation for the origin of sexual reproduction, let alone unisexual.”

This isn’t useful in itself. Sure, the field is not settled, but what is? Ironically, the article itself gives us an idea for an explanation for why a species could reproduce both sexually and asexually:

It would make sense that a Creator would have endowed these egg-laying vertebrates with the potential to perpetuate themselves even in the event that a male was unavailable.

It would also make sense that a species could have both abilities due to natural selection. And anyway, the actions of a ‘Creator’ can always be made to ‘make sense’ in the light of new evidence. How is this a ‘useful explanation’?

Sounds like another “you can’t explain therefore God” article.

‘Old’ Galaxy Found in ‘Young’ Part of the Universe

According to Mr Brian Thomas, M.S., the author of most of the science related DpSU’s, a distant galaxy imaged via gravitational lensing as it was 800 million years after the Big bang is too modern in appearance to be from that time period, calling the whole Big Bang theory into question, claiming that “In the common conception of stellar evolution, 200 million years is not enough time for the Big Bang’s randomly distributed gases to have coalesced into well-formed stars and galaxies.” That the reference for this is, interestingly enough, from one or Mr Thomas’ own articles from about a year ago, which doesn’t provide any references of its own that would back up Thomas’ present claim. Even more interestingly, the citation has the following statement beside it:

Actually, the addition of time does not make star formation any more feasible. Since a nearby exploding star would be necessary to form a new star naturally, it stands to reason that the first stars—and therefore the galaxies that they inhabit—must have been intentionally created.

I was under the impression that the very earliest stars did not need any stellar shock waves to start off – they coalesced out of the abundant hydrogen and were very large, lasted for only a short while and blew up in a spectacular fashion, providing plenty of energy to get any nearby stars that did need a good jolt moving. It would also make sense if the reason why modern stars need such a shock is that, if they didn’t, the would’ve already have formed. I could be wrong, mind.

Original Study: (pdf)

Thomas’ source articles: here and here

He also seems worried (if that is the right word) about this new galaxy having “well-defined edges”. I’m not sure how he can tell (a more zoomed in picture doesn’t help), and I can’t find his source for that.

Evolutionary Leftovers in DNA? Not So, Says New Study

This is basically about Junk DNA (the titular Evolutionary Leftovers) which other people are covering in far more detalil than I am at the moment, so I’ll defer you to one of them

And finally, T. Rex Toddler Answers Noah’s Ark Questions

What? The whole the-whole-thing-couldn’t-actually-float-if-made-from-contemporary-materials thing? Or what they fed the animals on? How a colony of bees is supposed to recover from a population of a single queen and a useless drone? How small flightless birds such as the kiwi are supposed to have gotten from the far corners of the earth to Mesopotamia in time to catch a boat, and then back again? What all the trees were doing at the time? What the salinity of the water during the flood was, and what all the fish that didn’t like that amount did during that time? How the flood managed to carve out the grand canyon in one go without stripping the topsoil off the entire world at the same time? Where all that water came from, and where it went (without invoking divine intervention)? And for that matter, where did they put all the feces?

Apparently not. The article is trying to counter the old claim that there wouldn’t be enough room for all the animals on the ark, and does so in two ways.

  1. There could have been juveniles on the ark, rather than adults (hence the tying in with a new discovery of a “T. Rex Toddler”), cutting down on the space per animal (never mind infant mortality)
  2. There was only one pair of every kind on board, and so cutting down on the number of animals needed to be taken.

I haven’t done that math, but I doubt number one does anything to help the situation. On a related note, are Dinosaurs ‘clean’, and do they count as birds? (I know bats do). If so, then Noah needed not one but seven pairs of each.

As for number two, this is shaky ground. If only one pair of each kind was on board, then in the intervening period between then and now millions of species would have had to evolve, at a much faster rate than any ‘Evilutionist’ has suggested actually happens. And this from people who reject evolution utterly as having never been observed…

Despite ‘Magma Ocean’ Discovery, Io’s Volcanic Heat Remains a Mystery (Rumour Has It)

Now for some ‘news’, or rather “Daily (pseudo)Science Updates”.

Apparently, adding to the hefty list of evidence against both evolution and the universe having existed for a long time in general, Io gives out too much energy to be “old” (he must be flattered).

A recent creation astronomy video summarized the issue by stating, “If Io is young, it could still be cooling off from its initial formation. But if it’s really billions of years old, that energy would have dissipated long ago.” [What You Aren’t Being Told about Astronomy, Volume 1: Our Created Solar System. 2009. DVD. Directed by Spike Psarris. Creation Astronomy Media.]

Said video isn’t all that recent, mind – as you can see, it came out in ’09. What is, however, is a new study that shows that, as expected, there is a magma ocean beneath the surface of Io that is the source of the raw materials for its eruptions. The article about the study that they link to, however (I can’t see the study itself), has got nothing to say about any troubles when it comes to explaining Ioian heat loss. So where do they get the idea that Io is emitting an “order of magnitude” more radiation than it “should be” if the “long age” models were correct.

The answer to that question is here:

A review paper on the Io heat problem referenced German planet scientist Tilman Spohn, who “acknowledges that there is a gap of about one order of magnitude between the observed heat flow from infrared measurements and the heat flow theoretically determined from tidal [friction] dissipation models.”5 Io’s heat output is therefore around ten timesgreater than the long-age models say it should be.

Well, sort of. You see, the citation that the number ‘5’ refers to is  not anything by Spohn that either confirms or denies this, but a paper from the “Fifth International Conference on Creationism”. After some digging I’ve found that paper here. As there doesn’t seem to be anything new in the article, Let’s take a look…

The paper begins with an explanation of the Orbital mechanics involved. Io, Europa and Ganymede are in an approximate 1:2:4 orbital resonance. That is to say that for every one orbit of Ganymede around Jupiter, Europa goes around twice and Io four times. Also, this resonance apparently causes Io to have a much greater eccentricity than it would otherwise, and also prevents Io from drifting away from Jupiter. So far, this seems legitimate and is largely a paraphrase of one of the papers references (pdf). There is also a reference to the use of Lunar Recession as a creationist argument, but this isn’t the core premise of the paper.

The paper then goes on to talk about tidal heating and Io’s heat output. It first mentions the (accurate) prediction in 1979 (in the above referenced paper) that Io could be “the most intensely heated terrestrial-type body in the solar system ” due to tidal heating. They go on to say:

Though this was an excellent bit of work and the prediction was confirmed by Voyager and other observations, the heat produced by Io and radiated from its surface appears to be greater than the amount of heat generated by tidal dissipation. Of the energy transferred from Jupiter to Io via the tides, some of this energy produces internal heat in Io’s interior and some of it affects the orbit, tending to cause Io to slowly drift outward from Jupiter over time. The orbit resonance with Europa and Ganymede on the other hand tends to prevent Io from drifting away from Jupiter, though it increases Io’s orbital eccentricity and causes certain variations in Io’s orbit. Planetary scientists today generally believe that the tidal dissipation mechanism is an adequate source of heat to drive Io’s volcanism and explain Io’s high surface temperatures.

There are no citations here, so we’re going to have to suspend our disbelief and take the authors word for it that they’re going to back it up eventually. To continue:

Io radiates a great deal of energy; the total heat power given off over its whole surface would be approximately 10^14 Watts

This is backed up by a reference (pdf) which seems all in order. I’ve taken the liberty of using this figure to calculate the total energy output of Io over the last four billion years, assuming that the energy output has remained the same for the entire period (which is unlikely). The answer? 10^31 Joules. According to Wolfram|Alpha, 10^31 Joules is equivalent to:

From Wolfram|Alpha

It’s a lot, but not unbelievably high (for 4 billion years). Also, 10^14 Watts for only the one year comes out as 3.154×10^21 Joules, which is:

From Wolfram|Alpha

Again, not actually that much… An order of magnitude or two more than it receives from the sun, I’ll believe (the area Io exposes to the sun – pi times the square of it’s radius – is 0.08184 of that of the Earth, and Io is a lot further from the sun). To continue on that vein, 10^14 Watts over a mere 24 hours comes in at 8.64×10^18 Joules. The radiation gained by the Earth from the sun in the same period mentioned above appears to be around 1.5×10^22 Joules. Io, therefore, presents .05% of the area to the sun and gets 4% of the radiation for a given area, for  about .002% of the energy as a total. That comes out as 3×10^17 Joules of energy from the sun per day (ignoring Jupiter’s shadow etc), or about an order of magnitude or so less than the amount outputted by the Jovian Moon in a day. Whew… Anyway, where were we?

So this paper is trying to ‘explain’ the descrepancy between the energy output of Io and the amount of energy gained by Io from tidal forces. You will notice, however, that the author has not quantified or qualified the statement “the heat produced by Io and radiated from its surface appears to be greater than the amount of heat generated by tidal dissipation ”. It is also admitted that “Planetary scientists today generally believe that the tidal dissipation mechanism is an adequate source of heat to drive Io’s volcanism and explain Io’s high surface temperatures.”. Therefore, the paper needs to show that there is indeed a discrepancy here, and that the only explanation for this is that Io is exceedingly young – in the order of a few tens of thousands of years.

I’ll skip over the section on the moon’s geology and interaction with Jupiter and go straight to the section entitled “Tidal dissipation and the heat problem ”.

“Tidal dissipation”, you might have gathered by now, is the process by which an object (here Io) gains energy (as heat) from friction in its interior due to Io changing shape because of the differences in gravitational attraction from Jupiter between apojove (furtherest from Jupiter during orbit) and perijove (closest). As you might remember, Io’s orbit is somewhat more eccentric (non-circular) than it could have been due to the aforementioned orbital resonance. Now, as you would expect, energy gained by Io has to come from somewhere, and with regards to Tidal Dissipation it comes from Jupiter. We also have some information about the quality factor, which is:

This information can be used to analyse the models that the paper covers, but isn’t really useful.

Now, here we go:

Can the observations of the heat radiating from Io as well as the orbital observations be explained in a  framework that assumes Io is less than 10,000 years in age? Is tidal dissipation the most significant heat  source in Io?

Interesting that he doesn’t ask if the situation is explainable in a situation where Io is much older. But anyway…

In order to address these questions we must first look at the observational evidence on
how much heat is radiated from Io

What follows is a much more detailed dicussion on how the energy output of Io has been determined, concluding that the average over a 10 year study was 10^14 Watts, as above, which he will use as the standard that “theoretical models of the tidal dissipation need to be tested against ”. Fair enough.

If tidal dissipation is the largest source of heat in Io, then do we have observational evidence of Io
moving farther from Jupiter? Most planetary scientists researching the Io tidal problem seem to assume  that Io’s orbit must slowly expand as a result of the tidal mechanism.

Ok, apparently Io needs to move away from Jupiter for Tidal Dissipation to work. Why? You tell me… I seem to have missed something. Let’s continue on until it becomes clear.

But from observations of Io, any  change in Io’s orbit seems to be too small to measure. This is shown by results published by Lieske [14,  pp 146-158]. This study examined a large amount of data, including 16,000 eclipse observations from  1652 to 1983. Their published value, for the rate of change of the mean motion of Io, is (-.74 ∀ .87) X  10–11 yr–1. They suggest that Io is slowly evolving out from Jupiter and out of resonance with time. But,  when the uncertainty is greater than the measured change how can this be the proper conclusion? I will  take the view that this result indicates Io’s orbit is stable and exhibits no secular change. If tidal  dissipation is the largest heat source it seems we should be able to measure some long-term change in  Io’s orbit. Lieske [14, p 146] comments to this effect: “The modern infra-red measurements of the energy  emitted by Io . . . if interpreted as being due to interactions of Io with Jupiter . . . large secular changes in  the mean motion of the satellite ought to be observable.”

So, we have a reference for this. I’ll go check it out…
It seems to be as reported. The ellipses in the quote are where Lieske’s original citations have been removed, if you’re wondering. What would be nice is that if the author feels he can arbitrarily decide on no change in Io’s orbit for his calculations, can he provide the results using Lieske’s number (-.74 above)? Just to check his working, as it were…

A number of planetary scientists have commented to the effect that the heat produced by tidal dissipation  is less than the amount radiated from Io’s surface from observations. Cassen, Peale, and Reynolds, in  1982 published [5, p 102] that the heat produced by tidal dissipation had an upper limit of 3.3 X 1013 Watts (W). Later in the same article the authors state, “However, the upper bound on Io’s dissipation . . .  is also exceeded by a factor of two. This is a serious discrepancy whose resolution requires further  study.” Pearl and Sinton further comment in a different article in the same volume [5, p 753]:

The observed high value of the heat flux can be obtained by adjusting the tidal energy
dissipation factor (Q) of Io, but the required dissipation is untenable if the current
eccentricity of Io’s orbit is an equilibrium value determined by a balance of the effects
of dissipation in Jupiter and Io . . . . As Cassen et. al. . . . point out, the satellites would
have been pushed farther from Jupiter in 4.6 X 109 yr than their present distances.
Hence the solution of one enigma, the old 10 to 20 :m discrepancies, has led to yet
another enigma: apparent incompatibility with the present orbital configuration. . . .
Complete elucidation of the heat source remains a significant outstanding problem
resulting from the discovery of active volcanism on Io.

Finally, the “citation needed” is not longer. So this is where he’s coming from…Trouble is, I can’t get my hands on said paper.

So maybe there is a problem. What we’re actually after, by the way, is Tilman Spohn’s ideas, which is what started this 2000+ word essay in the first place (see what I mean about it taking longer to analyse and debunk than to make up?). I’ll skip ahead to that part. You miss a discussion on whether if the tidal effect is enough to explain the entirety of Io’s heat loss, then would Europa and Ganymede have volcanoes too? along with some other models of the heat flow on Io, which the author believes to be inferior to Spohn’s for the most part.

The most recent study of the tidal dissipation problem for Io is published by Tilman Spohn in 1997 [19]. I  will refer to this model as the Turbulent Convection Model. Spohn acknowledges that there is a gap of  about one order of magnitude between the observed heat flow from infrared measurements and the heat  flow theoretically determined from tidal dissipation models. Spohn assumes first of all that Io’s core has  at least a molten outer layer and that there is a significant amount of melt in Io’s mantle. He assumes  that Io formed undifferentiated and that initially Io and the other Galilean moons were in orbits different  than today. The Galilean moons Io, Europa, and Ganymede then evolved into resonance by the  influence of gravity over about 2.5 billion years of their early existence. Following this (about 2 billion  years ago) these three satellites settled into the current resonant orbits. Thus in Spohn’s approach, the  orbital interactions of these moons, as well as the tidal-orbit mechanism, have been operating for about 2  billion years. Spohn assumes that the temperature of Io’s core was 2300 Kelvin at the time Io entered  the resonance [19, p 369]. He further assumes a radiogenic heating rate of 10^9 Watts. In Spohn’s  approach the orbital parameters of Io undergo a periodic variation with a period of 10^8 years [9, p 61].  Spohn relates thermal parameter variations to the orbital parameters in a manner different from other  researchers (he does not use the Q parameter). Spohn’s model is a disequilibrium model.

N.B. The author has defined a disequilibrium model as one that rejects “either or both of”

1) any long-term change in Io’s orbit is due to the  effects of the tides and
2) there are no thermal effects in Io more significant than those produced by the

As it happens, Spohn’s model (I can’t find his paper, unfortunately) involves a structure of Io similar to that which has been announced in the article that makes this “news”, hence his reference there.

Now, the paper quotes this from Spohn’s paper:

The time required to generate the lava is about 10^4 years accounting only for the
latent heat. The hot-spots in the mantle would thus use about 10% of the tidal
dissipation power and store the energy in magma for about 10^4 years. This energy
can then be released at an average rate of 10^14 W from the surface in about a
century after the lava has erupted.

So, problem solved, right? The author disagrees:

Some potential weaknesses of Spohn’s analysis are the following. In Spohn’s approach, the turbulent  convection would have taken place in Io’s interior for over two billion years. In this time, Io’s interior  properties would be likely to change due to the heat transferred to the surface and the amount of sulfur  and silicate compounds deposited on the surface. It seems doubtful that the interior properties could  support this type of convection for such a long time. Secondly, the time scale of the build up of the  mantle hot spots, (or magma chambers) from Spohn’s model is only 10,000 years, yet the time frame of  the orbital oscillations is on the order of 100 million years. These two phenomena should be related in  some realistic way if tidal dissipation is the primary heat source in Io. Spohn also assumed a high  temperature value at the beginning of the resonance period in Io’s history (2300 K). This high  temperature would stem from radioactive decay in Io’s early history and a proposed period of greater  tidal dissipation in the past as Io’s orbit was evolving into resonance. Considering other studies of heat from radioactive decay, from an evolutionary viewpoint, this temperature may be unrealistic. Most other studies of Io’s interior use temperatures of approximately 1500 or 1600 K.

Sounds like “more research is needed” – that is, business as usual for science. The author, being a creationist, disagrees, it seems. He feels, in a classic “god of the gaps” way, that because the normal scientific way has failed, that means that Io must have been created relatively recently by God, with an initial heat source that is comparatively rapidly dissipating. In other words, the entire article can be summed up as: you can’t explain it right now, therefore God.

Interestingly, the authors model could potentially make predictions about the situation, not just conveniently explain it via divine intervention, the usual situation when it comes to creationism. If Io is losing energy at such a fast rate, could it be shrinking as it cools? What would that mean for the Galilean system? All this was 8 years ago, so what’s the situation now?
(and for that matter, how badly is this post written?)

To conclude with the paper, while it does successfully demonstrate that there is a problem, dismisses Spohn’s model too easily, and prematurely jumps to the conclusion that Io must have been created. But this is what you’d expect, considering….

As for the ICR article, what’s new? Nothing much. It’s just another Daily (pseudo)Science update.

The Universe Has a Centre (apparently)

I shall begin with their existing “Evidence for Creation”. I’ll skip “Evidence for God” and “Truth”, as I’m not interested in that kind of argument (it should be evident that the ICR, unlike the Discovery Institute, make no attempt to hide their fundamental reliance on scripture) and I’ll leave “from Nature” for later. First and foremost are their (rather amusing) articles about evidence from Science that apparently back them up. Let’s bore down the tree and see what we get…

We find ourselves at an article announcing that The Universe Has a Centre. Now, you may think that I’ve given myself an easy one to do, but I assure you that it’s a direct drop from Evidence from Science, via The Physical Sciences and The Universe was Created. And no, it’s not the shortest article there, amazingly.

The article begins:

Our solar system appears to be near the center of the universe. Galaxies look the same, and are moving away from us in the same way, in all directions. The cosmic microwave background radiation comes to us very uniformly from all directions. These and other data strongly indicate we are located at a very special location by design.

There are a lot of problems with even this opening paragraph. Ignoring the statement that “Galaxies look the same” (if so, I wouldn’t be able to purloin nearly as good desktop backgrounds from Phil Plait’s blog), we come to the claim that everything is “moving away from us”, like the big bang happened right where we are standing, or thereabouts. While it is true that everything appears to be moving away from us, with the things that are further away moving faster than the closer ones, the inference from this that we are therefore at the centre of the universe is flawed. Imagine that the space time continuum is, rather than a trampoline, the surface of a balloon. “In the beginning”, as it were, said balloon was not inflated. Imagine the balloon has random dots on it, which represent places that you could stand and observe the universe from. As the balloon is inflated, keep your eye on one of the dots (if you’re going to do this for real, I recommend a pump, or alternatively a friend – I am not responsible for any eye strain caused by this little demonstration. Indeed, considering that it comes from Simon Singh’s Big Bang even the demonstration isn’t mine. Preform at your own risk). You will see all the other dots nearby retreat from it, with the further away dots moving the fastest. But this doesn’t mean that the point you put your eye on is the centre of this pocket universe. Rather, if you consider the universe to only include the rubber, it has no centre. Taking this to the real universe, we see all the galaxies rushing apart as a consequence of the expansion of the universe, and all the other galaxies see the same thing.

As for the microwave background radiation, it can be said that if the Big Bang happened anywhere, it happened everywhere. Because of this and the inflationary expansion of the universe, we see the CMB radiation coming at us from all directions, more or less uniformly, as they say. But this doesn’t show that we’re in a “very special location by design”.

You will remember that they say that we are near the centre of the universe. An interesting point is that by near, we are talking tens, if not hundreds of thousands of light years. If their little non sequitur was correct, our galaxy might be “near” the centre of the universe, but we are not at the centre of the galaxy. Not even close. Therefore, it might be assumed that the universe was created not for us, but for Trantorian aliens. A sobering thought…

Next Paragraph: (2 of 3)

Instead of accepting the obvious, recent models of physical cosmology assume the earth is not special and that everywhere in the universe the exact same observation of receding objects would be seen. Instead of a universe with an age measured in thousands of years, this assumption leads to billions of years.

Are they really trying to use Occam’s Razor on science? To continue a little from above, here is why having the earth (or Milky Way) not be the centre of the galaxy is the simplest choice: If we were really at the centre, and everything they say is true, somebody standing in the Virgo cluster of galaxies (say) would still see everything rushing away from them, in the same way that while a car may appear to you to be rushing away from you, to the occupants of the car, you’re travelling away form them. In short, “recent models of physical cosmology” are only assuming that you too are driving a car.

 In contrast, creation cosmologies explain the data better by starting from biblically-based axioms: the cosmos has a unique center and a boundary for its matter, beyond which there is at least some empty space; and on a cosmic scale of distances, the earth is near the center.

As you may have noticed, the ICR are basing their ideas on the bible, and are bending scientific observations to fit. A word to the wise – you’re supposed to do things the other way around.

Next up (in the archives series), a slightly longer article on… lots of things. Fine Tuning features prominently, for some reason. We’ll demolish that bridge when we come to it, as they say…

Only one eye, you understand

I don’t have that much spare time…

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) is an organisation that, apparently, does research on creationism as if it was science. What they actually do, it seems, is interpret actual science according to their own world view, and then declare that that’s what everyone else is doing when they come up with something different. Some day I’ll make an entire entry for that little fallacy

As many of you may be aware, it takes a lot longer to rebut a statement than to make one. Imagine, if you will, that somebody accuses you, completely out of the blue, of cheating on your significant other (I’m assuming you’re monogamous, or more to the point, said significant other thinks you are. Bear with me, in any case). You can deny this, but you look bad, even though I just made it up. Now, imagine they say instead that they saw you cheating, last night. Once again they’re making it up (I certainly hope so, at least), but what can you do? You could ignore them, but if the situation was important (eg politics, office or otherwise), it’s just going to keep dogging you. And if you don’t, what do you say? Even after you collect all the facts, you still look bad. Lose-lose. At least they didn’t say “I can confirm that my opponent doesn’t beat his wife”

Now, for several decades Evolution has been attacked with a plethora of claims of contravening evidence, which has largely focused on quantity, and not quality. That is to say, it can’t take very long to come up with your average bunk claim, whether it be irreducible complexity or Lunar Recession (which it seems I might have to cover some day). It takes a much longer time to counter them, however, which is the problem.

The hope here, then, is that (should you have internet access or the complete archives of WordPress on you the next time you find yourself on the defensive against a creationist of some kind) that (should the claim originate from the ICR) you might just find it here some day. Just correct my grammar and you’re away! And no, I don’t mean over the fence…