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She burns like the sun...

6th January 2011 (15:27)

... I can't look away

[BPSBD] There's some idiot who started a thread (edit: like this) at badscience.net called pathological science in astronomy - Stellar Fusion I in which he was wrong about just about everything. This post won't make much sense unless you've read all that, but posting a compilation of responses here will hopefully make it easier to find as that thread descends into Bickering.

The gist of the original poster's argument seems to be that since the ideal gas law PV = nRT says that volume goes down as temperature goes down, that balls of gas cannot possibly contract while heating up as they would have to in order to ignite fusion and become a star. But Boyle's law has been extended to include gravity and it demonstrates that a ball of gas can collapse.1 Whether the ideal gas law applies to the sun is another matter.2

His misunderstand of the behaviour of gases comes from typical school textbook sentences such as “gases expand to uniformly fill the container they are in” but this isn't even true in something like a gas centrifuge, which is able to set up a pressure gradient in a gas and indeed cause two gases two separate by density. This isn't something which normally happens in the Earth's gravitational field on a laboratory scale, unless you have a very heavy gas such as (I'm guessing) sulphur hexafluoride, but of course the pressure of the atmosphere drops with altitude.

It gets worse, though, when we get to the subject of plasmas. Maybe it's not a coincidence, but it was Irving Langmuir who coined the term “pathological science” as well as the term “plasma” for an ionized gas. The equations which describe plasmas are of course dominated by the electromagnetic forces between the ions and the free electrons, which means again that gravity usually does not need to be taken into account in laboratory scale plasmas, but he seems to think (it gets hard to tell) that since gravity is negligible in laboratory plasmas that gravity no longer applies anywhere that there is a plasma. Plasmas, which are partially ionized gases, have just about the same mass as the same amount of neutral gas, and of course they don't actually screen gravity or anything like that. In fact, the Debye length in space is of the order of 10 metres (and much shorter in the sun). This gives you an idea of the maximum length scale over which electromagnetic forces can act before they get screened by mobile charge. Gravity is always attractive though, which is why it wins out over astronomical scales.

Anyway, solid objects (such as the sample) very obviously obey gravity's rules despite the plasma in my growth system, if they aren't mounted properly or if they break and fall off the heater.

Gravity is a very good explanation as regards the solar system anyway: the orbits of all the planets can be described, to an extremely good degree of accuracy, by

where μ is 1.32712440018 × 1020 m3 s-2 and a is the length of each orbit's semi-major axis.

Maybe the worst part, though, is the claim that the sun has a solid rock surface (although he also says that all stars are plasma) based on images such as this which show the emission from iron vapour in the corona (from TRACE.

The sun is too hot to have any solids in it, for a start. The solar spectrum corresponds to black body radiation at about 5500-6000 K, the temperature of the photosphere. The light from the hotter solar core is not seen since it does not easily pass through such a dense plasma; heat from the core actually propagates up to the photosphere by convection.

The corona is at a much higher temperature (and lower density) such that the emission from highly ionized iron can be used to visualize it. The main purpose of the TRACE mission is to explore the relation between diffusion of the surface magnetic fields and the changes in heating and structure throughout the transition region and corona. The iron is only a small fraction of the sun's composition, and its high degree of ionization means it must be at around 106-107 K in the corona.

As for nuclear fusion itself, which he doesn't seem to believe in, both high temperatures and confinement are needed to induce it, but it has been demonstrated on Earth with electric currents or radiation and adiabatic compression. So it all makes sense to the rest of us. More sense than the sun being a solid rock which keeps the Earth in orbit by electromagnetic forces transmitted through plasma anyway.

Thanks to the other members at badscience.net for support, by the way. Especially as expressed in this thread or this post...

  1. W. B. Bonnor. Boyle's Law and Gravitational Instability. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 116 351-359 (1956) [ http ]
  2. David B. Clark. The ideal gas law at the center of the sun. J. Chem. Educ. 66 (10) 826 (1989) [ http ]

Comments

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 6th January 2011 21:50 (UTC)
simple falsification of stellar fusion models

You make a number of very serious errors in your portrayal of the thread, presumably in the hopes of misleading anyone who doesn't take the time to read the entire thread to know its contents. I suspect most of the people who read your blog will ignore the link to the thread and wholesale accept your cartoonish version of it.

"idiot who started a thread"

That's your first mistake, hoping I'm an idiot like you seem to be. Also wrong is your complaint that everything I said was in error. You in no way demonstrated that with your comments or any of the data you presented. In fact of the data you presented, much of it supported my claims and falsified your own. You further go on to completely misrepresent what I said about the known properties of gases:

"since the ideal gas law PV = nRT says that volume goes down as temperature goes down, that balls of gas cannot possibly contract while heating up as they would have to in order to ignite fusion"

Despite the fact that I didn't present an "argument", I presented facts, your misunderstanding here causes you to misrepresent what I said. What I said was that all gases have known properties, one of those properties is that they do not gravitationally constrain themselves under any known circumstances. Any conjecture that they might if only there were enough of it is completely baseless wishful thinking. Nobody doubts this known property of all gases, except when they refuse to apply it to stellar fusion models. This is special pleading and quite frankly stupid in light of the evidence.

That's the basis of the falsification of stellar fusion that I presented, and nobody has offered any significant rebuttal to this, only their bald assurance that it must certainly be wrong because most people think otherwise. It's a pathetically weak argument against obvious fact made in complete ignorance. And this is just one of the many shadows of doubt I validly cast on stellar fusion, I've ignored the rest of your errors because quite frankly if you can't demonstrate gases gravitationally compressing themselves stellar fusion models are all wrong, there's no reason to go any further than that until you can overturn the known laws of physics that govern all gases everywhere at all times.

I have no doubt you won't publish this comment, but I just wanted you to know that I see what a fraud you are. Other people see it, too, the ones that don't are the readers of your blog. How many is that? haha

Posted by: shpalman (shpalman)
Posted at: 6th January 2011 21:55 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

“I have no doubt you won't publish this comment”

Not the only thing you're wrong about.

Posted by: calcinations (calcinations)
Posted at: 6th January 2011 23:36 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

I note he still hasn't presented any facts, arguments or anything else.
I wonder how many other topics he is cranky on?

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 7th January 2011 01:18 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

Great, get me unbanned from the site, I read the little troll tea party thread after I got permanently banned, I saw most people saying there was no reason to ban me that the mods were overreacting and they all want me back. I think if you're honest with yourself there's no reason I should be banned except the desire of some people to be able to post whatever they want without anyone questioning it.

Posted by: shpalman (shpalman)
Posted at: 7th January 2011 06:29 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

Those were after your short bans for being mildly abusive. The permanent ban is also for your offensive and unpleasant comments regarding
vaccination
. Since you had obviously run out of new things to say regarding stellar fusion there is no sense in unbanning you until you can learn to play nicely.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 7th January 2011 07:31 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

You're fucking delusional, I wasn't abusive to anyone, I just consistently showed what a bunch of fucking idiots you all are. Show one instance of this "abuse" you lying little cocksucker. And post the rest of my rebuttals if you've got the fucking balls.

Posted by: shpalman (shpalman)
Posted at: 7th January 2011 17:14 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

How about this?

You will notice that the mods did step in against this at the time, so your response to it was not a helpful one.

Posted by: shpalman (shpalman)
Posted at: 7th January 2011 17:18 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

Oh and this, for example.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 7th January 2011 07:34 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

You fucking ignorant bitch, are you really this stupid, the thread you linked to shows a bunch of people trying to insult and abuse me, you're out of your mother fucking mind, how could you be so stupid as to tell lies about me then link to proof that what you suggest I was doing was actually being done to me on a mass scale by all you troll faggots. Eat my ass, you lying son of a bitch.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: 7th January 2011 08:00 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

Post this, dicksucker, this proves your lies, I was banned for refusing to obey orders from a fascist prick defending a gang of trolls from having their butthurt from being proven wrong:

"Mod stompy boots ON
MMEA, you have a thread in Bickering where you may continue to discuss vaccination. You may not discuss vaccination on any other threads. If you do so, your posts will be deleted, and you may be banned.
The rest of you, please take it to Bickering if you wish to further discuss MMEA's comments.
Thanks, Duck."

Posted by: shpalman (shpalman)
Posted at: 7th January 2011 09:55 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

Sorry I wasn't around to unscreen these earlier. Thanks for your patience.

Posted by: plentyofants (plentyofants)
Posted at: 7th January 2011 11:29 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

You should keep him. He's great. I particularly like:

Show one instance of this "abuse" you lying little cocksucker.

Posted by: shpalman (shpalman)
Posted at: 7th January 2011 17:06 (UTC)
Re: simple falsification of stellar fusion models

Actually I think the final ban was for him repeatedly pasting the same post (this stuff) after many warnings, rather than answering any questions, such that the mods lost patience. (Questions such as “how is a gas centrifuge able to separate gases by density if all gases expand to uniformly fill the container they're in?” or “does a plasma have mass?”)

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