Faster Than Light Neutrinos, the Permian Event, and our new novel


View 701 Friday, November 18, 2011


I have been working furiously on Lucifer’s Anvil, having had a major breakthrough in my understanding of how to tell this story. I worked a lot of it out in my head during my walk this morning, and I have an outline of a new character who will make things a lot easier in the story telling.

Then I came home and went through my mail, and found this.


atomNow here is exciting news:

Neutrino experiment affirms faster-than-light claim

Hope remains!

“Physicists have replicated the finding that the subatomic particles called neutrinos seem to travel faster than light. It is a remarkable confirmation of a stunning result, yet most in the field remain sceptical that the ultimate cosmic speed limit has truly been broken.”

Chuck Ruthroff

It all looks good. Now we need to think about the implications. As Descartes said (and Carl Sagan often repeated) extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. FTL anything pretty well makes hash out of a lot of relativity theory, so it’s an extraordinary claim; now the evidence is slowly accumulating. As Mr. Ruthroff says, Hope Remain!


Then as I dug through my mail I found this:


Subject: Volcanoes don’t affect the atmosphere?

Jerry, as you know, the AGW fanatics claim that volcanoes don’t put enough greenhouse gases into the air to affect the climate. Well, paleontologists in Southern China seem to have evidence to contradict them: 

It looks like the Permian Extinction, 252 million years ago, was caused by a series of massive volcanic eruptions in what’s now Siberia that poisoned the air and killed off 2/3 of all life.

Joe Zeff

Roberta had noticed this one in the daily paper this morning, and passed it to me. The great Permian die off has worried geophysicists for a generation, but it doesn’t get much press now, probably because there is no conceivable way that the Permian event could have been caused by man-made global warming, and nothing else excites the Great Consensus Science Grant Grabbers Association.

As it happens, one theory of the Permian was that in addition to volcanism there was a large impact event. All grist for the mill in our new novel. Now I need to go have lunch and think about all this. The fact is that we live in a dangerous universe.

One thing seems clear on climate: in historical times the Earth has been both warmer and colder than it is now.

I’ll be back with more later this afternoon. Lunch time now. We live in interesting times…


1400: I discover I have a medical appointment this afternoon so I won’t catch up after all.


1700: Back, exhausted, with instructions to give up my daily walk for a few days to let my knee ligament recover from being stretched. Which is going to make it hard to get my exercises but I’ll manage. I’m considered in miraculous shape for a former brain cancer patient. Looks like you’ll have Pournelle to kick around for a while, so it’s safe to subscribe…

The good news is that the problem under my bathroom is not mold. The bad news is that we’ve got some termites.  The good news is that they aren’t threatening anything structural. And USAA is handling the situation nicely. If USAA is an option for you, it’s one you want seriously to consider. For anything they offer.


Then there’s this:

On to Syria

It looks like the AQ connected Anglo-American intelligence operation popularly called "The Arab Spring" is off to Syria:


Most Respectfully,

Joshua Jordan, KSC

I note that an Islamist coalition holds a majority in Tunisia after the election. What’s going on in Egypt is not clear, but it’s certainly not as friendly to the west as Mubarak was.

George Washington told us to avoid entangling alliances and not to get involved in the territorial disputes of Europe. Jefferson and Monroe sent the Navy to the shores of Tripoli, but not to build democracy or even to stay. The Marines did deliver the message: millions for defense and not one cent for tribute. The best  Near East policy for the US would be US energy independence. Invest in developing US energy resources, rebuild the Navy, and let the Arabs sort out their own governments. We are the friends of liberty everywhere, but the guardians only of our own; but we can be a very generous people to those who are our friends. Peoples can have friends. Nations have interests.

But we’ve said all this before.






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