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Typhoon Haiyan: similar unspectacular cyclones arrive every 2-3 years

Posted at 08:09:10 on 11/12/13

Today in the morning, I was stunned by the dishonesty of the professional climate alarmists again. Their moral defects are just shocking. It seems completely obvious to me that they must know that they are lying 24 hours a day.

This controversy is about the claim that the typhoon Haiyan was the strongest tropical cyclone that ever made a landfall, and so on. You can see this preposterous misinformation almost everywhere. For example, start with the first sentence of the Wikipedia article on Typhoon Haiyan (update November 14th: this stuff was thankfully removed from the first sentences). The original source of this "verbal meme" is arguably Jeff Masters of Weather Underground. Steven Goddard tries to argue that this lie was very important.

All the mistakes are completely obvious and demonstrable, as I will argue below, but it is impossible to even fix basic errors on the Wikipedia page, or elsewhere. Such pages are being controlled by obsessed hardcore climate alarmist trolls and crackpots. They are just completely blind and deaf to any evidence and they revert any edit that would try to fix the basic mistakes.

So let's look at some real numbers and the origin of the flawed numbers.

Haiyan has killed 10,000 people or so (I am told that this number may have been just made up as well and according to Marc Morano's guess, it could be lowered to 2,000 when casualties are [more] properly counted; UPDATE: wow, Morano's guess was totally accurate) which is sad but neither its strength nor the number of casualties were unusual in that region. Some cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The casualties depend on the trajectory and the good or bad luck (and the population density and the resilience of the buildings in the relevant places, and so on). The physical strength of the strongest tropical cyclones is most naturally measured by the minimum central pressure.

The normal atmospheric pressure is 1,013.25 hPa (hectopascals), OK, around one thousand. The more the pressure drops beneath 1,000 hPa, the stronger tropical cyclone you deal with. So have a look at the list of the most intense tropical cyclones ever.

They are geographically divided to 8 regions ("basins"). Starting from the lowest pressure (strongest cyclones), they are (the minimum pressure of the strongest cyclone is added):

  • 870 hPa: Western North Pacific Ocean (Tip 1979)
  • 882 hPa: North Atlantic Ocean (Wilma 2005)
  • 890 hPa: South Pacific Ocean (Zoe 2002-03)
  • 895 hPa: South-West Indian Ocean (Gafilo 2003-04)
  • 900 hPa: Australian region (Gwenda 1998-99)
  • 902 hPa: Eastern Pacific Ocean (Linda 1997)
  • 912 hPa: North Indian Ocean (BOB 07 1999)
  • 972 hPa: South Atlantic Ocean (Catarina 2004)
Most of the basins are dominated by cyclones in recent decades because reliable and continuous measurements of the pressure only began recently. Some oceans tend to bring us stronger cyclones because there's more room for the depressions to grow and the geographic conditions are simply more or less favorable in different regions.

I wrote the strongest basin in the bold face because that's the region in which Haiyan belongs. If you focus on the table for that basin, you will see than Haiyan is between 21st and 35th strongest cyclone in that region since the 1950s or so. In 60 years or so, one gets 21-35 cyclones just in that region that are equally strong or stronger. In other words, every 2-3 years, one gets a cyclone of the equivalent or greater magnitude. The Pacific Ocean has already witnessed something like 1-3 billion of similar or stronger typhoons.

Fine. With the minimum central pressure of 895 hPa, the cyclone was clearly very far from being extraordinary, very far from the record-holder at 870 hPa (the decrease of the pressure from the normal atmospheric pressure was really over 20% smaller than it was for the record-holder).

Some people love to spread the misinformation that the greatest cyclone just occurred somewhere (the same people who are silent about the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season now because it's the weakest one in more than a decade; except for Alexander Ač who has already informed me that he will write a text about the winter catastrophes that will be caused by the lack of the Atlantic hurricanes in 2013, no kidding!). But where did they get the "data" to back the claim that this average strong cyclone was a record-breaker?

CNN wrote (via Pielke Jr) that the storm surge was 40-50 feet; the actual figure from the meteorologists was 13-18 feet. CNN probably had no sensible source for the huge (doubled or tripled) figure at all. But what about the exaggerated speed?

Well, I can show you the exact page. It was a speedy alert page that NOAA reprinted after getting some news from JTWC, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center of the U.S. military:
Archived text file from November 8th (at webcitation.org)
This file is an archived old version of this NOAA page (which now offers a newer advisory with more current, lower figures) which contains the following sentence about the speed:
It's not the only possible mistake but I think it's likely that this figure "170 knots" (which is meant to report some estimates using the satellites) is a typo; the units should have probably been mph. Note that the "huge speed" indicated, 170 knots, translates to 196 mph or 315 kph (km/h).

I believe that the correct reading should have been 170 mph which translates to 148 knots or 274 kph. This seems consistent with media's (e.g. BBC's) newer claims of "gusts up to 275 km/h" (see also The Washington Post, "up to 170 mph"). It is also consistent with the "gustiness of up to 275 kph" at this page of the Philippines Met Agency:

If this maximum speed at 275 km/h is right, Haiyan/Yolanda is clearly unspectacular according to this particular criterion, too. Only the original text file claimed "170 knots" i.e. "315 km/h" while other sources have apparently fixed the mistake and replaced it by "170 mph" i.e. "275 km/h". It's obvious that alarmists will prefer to believe the figure 315 while skeptics are somewhat more likely to pick 275 km/h.

But even if they have really meant 170 knots i.e. 315 km/h, the very high figure, it is still too small to justify the claims e.g. on the Wikipedia page about Haiyan. It says
Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda) is unofficially the strongest recorded tropical cyclone to make landfall, with wind speeds up to 315 km/h (195 mph).
However, it's trivial to find hurricanes with higher speeds in the same region of the world. Typhoon Tip that made landfall on southern Japan in 1979 had the record-breaking minimum central pressure of 870 hPa but "only" 305 km/h of the maximum pressure. However, we may pick another example, Typhoon Ida that made landfall in Japan in 1958. Its maximum 1-minute sustained winds were 325 km/h, higher than even the "highest" figure associated with Haiyan. Kit in 1967 and Joan 1959 tied those 315 km/h, and so on.

Fine. So I wrote this to the "chronic reverter" of the corrections on the Wikipedia page on Typhoon Haiyan. Even if we accept that the deleted text file that used to sit on the NOAA server is a legitimate source backing dozens of claims on this page that Haiyan was the strongest cyclone that made a landfall ever, and all this stuff, it's still wrong because we may still find higher speeds of hurricanes that made landfall.

So you can imagine what this "editor" began to claim. He began to claim that the Haiyan Wikipedia page talks about the "speed during the landfall". There are three main problems with this assertion: First, the archived NOAA page doesn't say that this was the speed measured at the moment of the landfall (and at the right place, a beach). Second, the Wikipedia page doesn't say that it measures the strength of the cyclone according to this criterion. Third, even if it were saying, it is such a contrived criterion that you may find a similarly contrived criterion to make pretty much any cyclone in the top ten "the record-breaker".

When one chooses a criterion that isn't contrived or artificially fudged to make someone look stronger, and when one isn't obsessed by the belief that every sentence must be interpreted in the "strong way", he must see that Haiyan wasn't extraordinary in any way. There is no reason whatsoever to think that 2013 should see stronger cyclones than those that have been decorating our blue, not green planet for billions of years. All these claims about permanent "record-breakers" are extraordinary claims that deserve extraordinary evidence and all the people who fail to demand such extraordinary evidence are either corrupt ideologues or brainwashed gullible morons.

On the other hand, even though there is no detectable influence of the humans etc., some old records are bound to be broken almost every year. The laws of statistics won't allow you exemptions forever. If you define 50 different "disciplines" in which new records may be set and if the historical record is only 50 years old, one breaks 1 record per year in average. People who try to derive far-reaching consequences from these events that are almost inevitable are just not thinking rationally.

Roy Spencer talked about related things on CNN Piers Morgan Live show. It was as sensible and balanced as you may expect from a lukewarmer like Spencer. Still, it was not enough for their "environmental correspondent", a breathtakingly arrogant asshole – with apologies to all genuine assholes that at least play a constructive role in some activities – Mark Hertsgaard of the Nation. Like a fanatic member of the Inquisition, this inkspiller began to bombard Spencer with repetitive "denier" libels and just ignored Spencer's rocksolid and insanely diplomatic proofs that all Hertsgaard's claims were plain lies.

The only meaningful language ready to speak to the likes of Mr Hertsgaard is the language of the firearms. Ratatatatah.

Yesterday, a rally of 50,000 Poles was warned against the climate alarmist Nazis and Stalinists.

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snail feedback (44) :

reader Otter said...

Linked your article into mine http://kajm.deviantart.com/journal/Super-Typhoon-Haiyan-NOT-climate-change-413049282
Thanks for posting this.

reader Arjan said...

The 170 kt (with 205 kt gusts) is not a typo, the JTWC only presents 1 min wind speeds and gusts in kt (knots). The surrounding bulletins (3 hours before and after) had 165 kt with 200 kt gusts. However, this is estimated from the satellite, so I assume it to be very uncertain. The JMA and PAGASA always report much lower wind speeds, because they use a 10 minute average (like in normal synoptic scale weather systems) instead of a one minute average (the latter is roughly a factor 1.14 higher). However, this still does not explain the large difference between JMA/PAGASA and the NOAA/JTWC. Central pressure is also estimated, I have seen various numbers, so it is also quite uncertain. The typhoons/hurricanes you quote as being stronger were not at peak intensity when they made landfall (like this one). Jolanda/Haiyan is likely one of the strongest landfalling typhoons in recorded history (typhoon strengths before 1970 were overestimated), and one of the top ten or something strongest typhoons overall. I agree that the central pressure is a reasonable indicator of the typhoon intensity, but not necessarily of the peak winds, because of the diameter of the eye (Jolanda had a relatively small eye compared to its surface pressure, and thus more extreme winds than could be judged from its surface pressure alone (note that wind speed is caused by pressure gradients). The actual wind speeds which occurred at first landfall in the Philippines will probably be estimated from the damage. I would be wary of calling people lying as long as these issues are not resolved. However, the connection between "global warming" and hurricane frequency and intensity is somewhat uncertain (sea surface temperature versus vertical wind shear), and sea surface temperatures along the path of Haiyan were not anomalously high, so I don't think that it is reasonable to assume that this super typhoon is caused by or can be attributed to global warming.

reader Luboš Motl said...

The most important problem with these figures - that reach fantastic values such as 200 knots - isn't that they're "uncertain". The problem is that they measure a different quantity, using a different methodology, than the usual measures for the pressure. So they have a different idea about the altitude where the pressure is measured, a different way to incorporate spatial and temporal fluctuations, and so on.

All these numbers show that numbers obtained in this way are in no way equivalent to the values of pressure obtained by the usual methodologies. So the comparisons just can't be made while ignoring different origins of the numbers. With a consistent choice of the methodology, the typhoon is one of the size that arrives every 2-3 years. Everything else is just due to "deliberate" errors, jumping in between methodologies, and so on.

reader anna v said...

Lubos, you are underestimating the power of the anthropic principle.

/tongue in cheek/ :

Where humans gather, CO2 rises because humans pollute with CO2. Where humans gather is an attractor, It attracts low pressure cyclones because of the existence of the CO2 pollution . CO2 heats the land, air rises, pressure falls. Thats all. Effectively it is a fifth force organizing randomness about human habitations /end tongue in cheek.

Like Katrina, the problem is not with the strength of the storm but with the random misfortune of hitting Phillipines in its path.

reader Meteodan said...

I'm a research meteorologist. Arjan is quite right. 170 kts is not a typo. Also, the central pressure is only an approximate guide to intensity as it's the horizontal pressure gradient that generates winds, and so what matters is the difference between the pressure outside the cyclone and the center. It's not just media hype or climate alarmism this time that says that Haiyan is likely the strongest land falling TC on record. To the best of our knowledge it's the truth and there's no need to bring global warming into it; it's simply a red herring (no matter what side does it).

I myself have only seen a handful of TCs that had the satellite appearance at any point in their life cycle that Haiyan showed at landfall. Finally, you are right that direct measurements of pressure and wind are preferable to satellite estimates, but the latter work reasonably well and are far easier to obtain (unfortunately west PAC typhoons no longer have regular scheduled aircraft recon like Atlantic hurricanes).

reader Meteodan said...

A quick follow up. Arjan is also correct that the eye diameter matters because all else being equal, a smaller eye will have a tighter pressure gradient and stronger winds according to cyclostrophic balance. Second, I meant Lubos was right about pressure and wind measurements. He's also right that there are issues with the historical record, but that's another matter.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Meteodan, too bad for any impression of your impartiality that the domain that you have registered is http://www.scary-clouds.net/ ...

The minimum central pressure has been the most frequently used and solid benchmark to measure the intensity of cyclones. Claiming it is irrelevant means changing the rules of the game during the game.

What's the biggest problem is the comparison of numbers obtained by totally different methods - numbers meaning different things.

There's absolutely no valid observational basis for claims that this cyclone was in the top 5 in intensity.

reader Meteodan said...

Woah! Let me set the record straight here:

1) Scary-clouds.net is my stormchasing website (which I haven't set back up yet; it used to be at www.scaryclouds.net but I lost the domain name and the backup; long story). The name comes from a quote from a Kansas stormspotter that I met on one of my stormchases. He said, "What you are looking at there is just a bunch of scary clouds.", implying that nothing would happen. 10 minutes later a tornado formed. So the name is something of a joke, yet you have extrapolated needlessly from it.

2) I am not affiliated with PSU, nor have I ever been. I'm not sure where you got that info...

3) I didn't say the central pressure was irrelevant. I said that what really mattered in a physical since was the pressure gradient. Do you deny this is true?

4) Haiyan would most definitely have been a Category 5 in the Atlantic, I'm not sure what you are saying here.

5) I already conceded that there is a lot of inconsistencies and uncertainties with how TC intensity is measured. No real argument there.

reader Luboš Motl said...

1) Good to know about the origin of the quote. I just assure you that other readers of the website will be ignorant about the "opposite than obvious" content of the name of the website, too.

2) Sorry for the PSU link, I got it by overinterpreting the URL below - one where I see you're in Oklahoma


3) What I deny is that the pressure gradient "matters" for the physical definition of "intensity" of a cyclone. The pressure gradient is just a different quantity, one in which the cyclones have never really been sorted. It is different from the wind speed, too. There's no simple theoretical relationship between any pair of these quantities. The same central pressure may produce greater pressure gradients for smaller-radius cyclones and smaller pressure gradients for larger-radius cyclones. However, the maximum wind speed is neither a simple monotonic function of the central pressure nor a simple monotonic function of the maximum pressure gradient.

4) Haiyan would be a category 4 in the Atlantic. See e.g.


"Weather officials said Haiyan had sustained winds of 235 kph (147 mph) with gusts of 275 kph (170 mph) when it made landfall. By those measurements, Haiyan would be comparable to a strong Category 4 hurricane in the U.S., nearly in the top category, a 5."

5) There *is* an argument here because my point was really the opposite. When one carefully formulates the propositions about the cyclones, there aren't any "huge" inconsistencies about them such as misclassifying a category-4 storm as a record-breaker. Even the debates about the radius-dependence above etc. are inconsequential in most cases. All the "apparent inconsistencies" are being artificially fabricated with the goal of making it look "possible" that this storm - and more generally, any recent weather event - was a record holder. But in the case of Haiyan and in most cases of weather events, it's just not possible that they were record-breakers. All the inconsistencies are just artificially planted lies, a confusion deliberately fabricated by the fearmongers.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks, Otter, for your writeup, too!

reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, your explanation involving CO2 is so close to what I read elsewhere - meant seriously - that even my laughter is limited. ;-)

Just to be sure, any excess CO2 is almost instantly - within weeks - spreading all over the globe.

Exactly concerning the misfortune. The losses and casualties caused by similar natural catastrophes are mostly about the luck.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Meteodan, concerning 3), you are still confused.

Your cyclostrophic equation implies the *same* parameteric relationship between the wind speed and the central pressure as Bernoulli's principle.

It only differs from Bernoulli's equation by the extra factor of 1/R on both sides - which is of the same order as d/dn.

So your equation *does* mean that the wind speed and the central pressure are largely interchangeable while the pressure gradient is *not* interchangeable with them!

reader Luboš Motl said...

There is no evidence supporting 195 mph landfall speeds, 1-minute or otherwise . Even if the 170 knots in that JTWC alert is meant seriously, it is not the speed at landfall.

reader Werdna said...

Tip was a real monster of a storm. Not only was it stronger than any other storm anywhere that has been recorded, it was and still is the largest recorded tropical cyclone at 1,380 mi (2,220 km) in diameter, about half the size of the continental US. Even if there was a stronger storm, the total amount of energy dissipated by it couldn't possibly compare if it was only Haiyan's size.

I would never try to directly compare intensity estimates for WPAC cyclones before about 1987 to after, since they ceased aircraft reconnaissance. That's why, among many other reasons, I never believed the claim that Haiyan could have been stronger than Tip.

reader Scott Scarborough said...

The Phillipean Metrology service recoded the max sustain wind speeds of Yolanda at land fall, by anenometer, as 235 KPH which is 148 MPH... a strong catagory 4 at land fall by Atlantic Basin terminology. That is where he is getting Cat 4 from!

reader Luboš Motl said...

True, Werdna. Did you notice how the radii of the storms are being treated? Whenever there is a storm of a large radius, everyone is being told how remarkable it is if there is a large radius.

This Haiyan had a rather small diameter, like 500 km, so they're trying to "exploit" the small diameter in the opposite way. So this Meteodan has already told us that we should look at the "pressure gradient", Of course that pressure gradient scales like "pressure over radius" so it's larger for a smaller radius.

The only problem is that "pressure radius" doesn't physically matter to anything we call the intensity. His own equation is equivalent to Bernoulli's equation which links the decrease of the pressure and rho*velocity^2/2 - no "pressure gradient" or "radius" influences this relationship! That's why the categorifization of cyclones could have always been done either by maximum wind speeds *or* by the central pressure, they're highly correlated.

The maximum pressure gradient is much less correlated with them because one has to divide quantities above by the radius to get the gradient. The very fact that these folks are trying to make you think about irrelevant quantities like the pressure gradient is circumstantial evidence that they're trying to exploit the fact that this storm was small (by the radius).

But it was not only small by the radius; it also had a far-from-record-breaking central pressure i.e. far-from-record-breaking maximum wind speed.

reader Curious George said...

Let me remark that JTWC stands for "Joint Typhoon Warning Center". As any institution producing warnings, they prefer to err on the side of caution - their estimated wind speed will always be the on the high side. Remember the Italian seismologists jailed because they underestimated the earthquake danger for the city of L'Aquila?

reader Meteodan said...

No, I don't think I'm confused. Bernoulli's equation is valid up to a constant of integration, which depends on the given fluid flow system. So you can't just solve for a unique v given an absolute pressure value. It's derivation still comes from integrating a pressure gradient. They cyclostrophic balance equation comes from making certain assumptions about the governing differential equation (from which Bernoulli's equation can also be derived). One can easily construct a situation where the balance equation holds for different absolute values of the central pressure of the TC, but with the same -(1/rho)*dp/dn.

reader Meteodan said...

Good info. Thanks.

reader Luboš Motl said...

You clearly don't understand the concept of dimensional analysis.

Of course that you can solve those differential equations if one of the fields is known. The speed at the center is zero, at some radius, the speed is maximized, and this jump of the speed adds some kinetic energy that is matching the energy stored in the pressure decrease. So one may calculate the pressure decrease between the place of the maximum speed and the center.

At any rate, there is a clear argument why the central pressure is highly correlated (nearly a function of) the maximum wind speed but there is no argument that would link the pressure gradient to any of the two. That's also why the central pressure and the wind speeds have been used to categorize cyclones interchangeably but the pressure gradient couldn't have been used. The pressure gradient doesn't matter for the intensity in any useful or common sense of of the world.

The more you deny these basic things of aerodynamics, the more you prove you inadequacy as a researcher into physics of these phenomena.

reader Rehbock said...

My sympathy to the many victims suffering and pleading for help. The scope of this tragedy is not consequent anything extraordinary about this storm. Their poverty, poor location, ignorance and lack of opportunity is a big factor.
No sympathy for the many reporting, lying and pretending to help. The scope of this travesty is wholly consequent the extraordinary stupidity of the reporting. Their wealth, good location, stupidity and venal opportunism is a big factor.
I would not wish to kill those who see this as a climate change event. I would like to see them try and survive without lying. They would not.

reader Meteodan said...

"You clearly don't understand the concept of dimensional analysis.
Of course that you can solve those differential equations if one of the fields is known. The speed at the center is zero, at some radius, the speed is maximized, and this jump of the speed adds some kinetic energy that is matching the energy stored in the pressure decrease. So one may calculate the pressure decrease between the place of the maximum speed and the center which is pretty much a fixed fraction of the total pressure decrease."

I'm saying precisely the same thing as you, just using different language. The pressure drop across the vortex can be computed in the manner you are stating, but what is missing is the absolute values of the pressure. What am I missing here?

"At any rate, there is a clear argument why the central pressure is highly correlated (nearly a function of) the maximum wind speed but there is no argument that would link the pressure gradient to any of the two (the pressure gradient is inversely proportional to the radius which is a much stronger dependence on the radius than the dependence between the wind speed and the central pressure).
That's also why the central pressure and the wind speeds have been used to categorize cyclones interchangeably but the pressure gradient couldn't have been used. The pressure gradient doesn't matter for the intensity in any useful or common sense of of the world.
The more you deny these basic things of aerodynamics, the more you prove you inadequacy as a researcher into physics of these phenomena."

I'm sorry, but I'm not denying anything. What I've stated previously is still true. The pressure gradient force is the single most important force in the atmosphere for generating wind by providing a nonzero positive acceleration that can have a component in the direction of the flow. When you integrate the pressure gradient force over a streamline, you can get the total wind speed. When this streamline is curved toward the center of the cyclone and you reach a state of approximate cyclostrophic balance, that pressure gradient becomes normal to the streamline and now you have the cyclostrophic balance equation. The absolute value of the pressure at no point matters anywhere for the purposes of calculating the wind speed, except that you must choose a pressure at the initial point, which fixes your constant of integration (and what the final pressure will be at the other end). But, the whole point I'm trying to make is that mathematically speaking the choice of this initial pressure is *arbitrary*. The reason pressure gradient isn't used as a proxy for intensity is because it is difficult to calculate as you need to know the pressure field anyway. That's one reason why central pressure is used as a proxy for intensity, and nowhere did I deny this. For Earth's atmosphere, there is a limited physical range of central pressures that could be plausibly associated with a given wind speed. We are talking past each other, it would seem. At any rate, I have no wish for this to turn into a further, uglier, argument, so I think that I'll bow out of this discussion (which I thank you for, by the way).

reader Luboš Motl said...

The pressure drop across the vortex can be computed in the manner you are stating, but what is missing is the absolute values of the pressure. What am I missing here?

What you're apparently missing is the simple fact that the (averaged) pressure outside the cyclone is 1,010 hPa. Yes, it sounds like I am saying you are completely stupid but I really don't have any other explanation for your continuing and utterly irrational denial of the fact that the central pressure and the maximum wind speed are parametrically linked by any idealized theory of the cyclone.

reader Meteodan said...

Now we're on the same page. I wasn't missing that fact at all. I am well aware that the fact that in general, there is an absolute scale of pressure surrounding the TC that determines, given a pressure gradient, what the central pressure will be (in other words, I'm not stupid!). That's why I said in my last reply, "For Earth's atmosphere, there is a limited physical range of central pressures that could be plausibly associated with a given wind speed." That fixes the reasonable range of an absolute scale for pressure. So I completely agree with your last statement. I never denied that there was a correlation between the central pressure and wind speed. I did deny that there was a unique one, because the background environment of any given TC can vary from the 1010 hPA you quote.

reader Uncle Al said...

1) O-rings are not dynamic seals, asbestos-filled zinc chromate putty has no "ecological equivalent" - one piece booster shells. 2) Use once and toss. Entropy exploits opportunity. 3) A Saturn 5 boosts mass to low Earth orbit for a third its mass in gold; a Space Scuttle for twice mass' mass in gold. Know arithmetic.

Low Earth orbiting coal requires its enthalpy of combustion, 3x10^7 J/kg (gee = 8.4 m/sec^2 at 300 miles altitude), 1% of Space Scuttle fuel energy. Why NASA fails - the only trusted employee is one whose sole marketable asset is loyalty.

reader papertiger0 said...

Remember when Bush was president, how the media would comment on the physical presence of American Military assets on the scene at a natural disaster, how fast they appeared, assistence provided,, and what not.

As if it were part of the mandated duty of the Bush WH.

And woe be unto him if they hadn't been provided.

No such obligation applies to the Obama admin, it appears.

Maybe if there were a Fed workers Union with a large Philipino contengient, the O would notice, but there'll be no media arm twisting to make Obama move.

But he'll exploit the situation to push EPA mandates on CO2 emissions. That's a given.

reader Manfred said...

It may just be coincidental (perhaps due to the Warsaw lobbyist fair), but cold blooded, plain, brute lying when the opposite is evident had also been used in connection with the Rosenthal 2013 paper.

That paper shows, that ocean heat content is near the absolute minimum of the last 10000 years and that at current rates, it would take hundreds of years just to recapture the heat content of the Medieval Warm Period. Instead, media reported the totally false claim, that OHC had increased 15 times faster than ever before in the last 10000 years.

That picture should have replaced the Hockey Stick !



reader Rehbock said...

I got. You are a machine trying to pass the Turing test, right?

reader Rathnakumar said...

Watch the full video here, Dr. Motl! :-)


reader W.A. Zajc said...

Thanks for the complete link. Assuming this if the final cut(?), I already see a problem 29 seconds in (right after "This is a true story" flashes on the screen): The next text on the screen states that the video

"... is based on the book 'What Do You Care What Other People Think?" by Richard and Gweneth Feynman and Ralph Leighton."

Well, the book is by Richard Feynman, as told to Ralph Leighton. It is true that Gweneth Feynman and Ralph Leighton hold the copyright, but that is not the same as authorship.

OK, that is picking at a nit. I suppose I will watch the whole thing, but anticipate that it will be difficult. I am surprised by the extent that makeup and clothing can make William Hurt look like a 0-th order approximation to RPF. I am much more surprised that a good actor like Hurt doesn't capture ANY of RPF's striking verbal intonations which were a big part of his 'stage presence', as I've noted elsewhere in TRF ( http://motls.blogspot.com/2013/01/feynmans-ode-to-flower-animation.html ).

I put 'stage presence' in quotes because as far as I could tell from my personal exposure to Feynman, he was always on stage. I don't mean that as a negative, but rather to indicate that his (much much) larger-than-life personality came through at all times.

reader Luboš Motl said...

After 15 minutes, I find the film's RPF boring, somewhat resigned, arrogant in an unbacked way, and the comment about the path integral way to find the component that malfunctioned as a downright crackpottery. Did he really say such a thing?

reader lucretius said...

Feynman in the film is completely unlike the person I saw on television at that time (I was living and teaching in the US at the time of the Challenger disaster) and even less like the character that comes across from reading "What do you care what other people think". I was also interested to see how they portrayed general Kutyna, who comes out as quite a character in Feynman's book and it seems to me they have done a better job on him, but I guess that is probably because film directors and actors are more used to portraying generals than physicists (and also because I know nothing about Kutyna except what Feynman wrote about him).

reader AngularMan said...

When the actor used the concept of the path integral in such a strange manner I had to stop watching the movie, I can't believe Feynman would have said such a thing.

In fact, I just let a program search a pdf of the book and I found no mention of the path integral, so I very much doubt this is an original quote, but some crackpot felt the need to put his own "wisdom" in Feynman's mouth.

reader lucretius said...

I have not watched the film (except for a few fragments) so I don’t know how it all looks in the film, but in the book Feynman certainly did not suggest that Kutyna was “dishonest” by trying to make the “independent professor” the discoverer of the truth rather than himself. This is how Feynman explains it:

But General Kutyna had the career of that astronaut to worry about, so the real question the General was thinking about while he was working on his carburetor was, "How can I get this information out without jeopardizing my astronaut friend?" His solution was to get the professor excited about it, and his plan worked perfectly.

Kutyna acted to protect his friend who was the real source of key information and Feynman went along with it even though he quickly understood what is going on (although he leaves it until the end for the reader to guess himself ). In fact he clearly understood essentially everything at this point:

Kutyna says, "Hello, Professor, I just wanted to tell you that I think you're doing very well. But I've been given the job of trying to talk you out of it, so I'm going to give you the arguments."
"Fear not!" I said. "I'm not gonna change my mind. Just give me the arguments, and fear not."

I think the story in the book is a pretty subtle one, not just that usually American TV tale about dishonest politicians and bureaucrats. It’s also a very well written and gripping story which cleverly leaves the reader to guess various things for himself before being told.
I did not feel the same way about the film. Also, the Feynman character lacked all the charm of that you can see in any film in which the real one is starring, and which is also very noticeable in the conversations and thoughts throughout the book.

reader Luboš Motl said...

This was sort of the story I understood from the film, too.

reader Michael said...

No, he is a machine miserably failing the Touring test.

reader howardb said...

You're right, the journalist in the interview is a breathtakingly arrogant asshole.

reader fred said...

that is hilarious to see a guy in the "97%" interviewed and told he disagrees with the 97% and challenged on the science when he is a scientist. These alarmists will always say its a done deal and shout down the scientists who disagree.
Its clearly become a joke now

reader TomVonk said...

Dear Lubos
An extract of your post quoting you was also published here :http://www.enquete-debat.fr/archives/sur-la-propagande-mediatique-typhon-et-rechauffement-climatique-49971

I don't remember if you understand French (but you translated once a Bogdanoffs' book, didn't you ?) so a short summary.
Actually the theme of the article is not really atmospheric physics but the non reliability of the media (J.Robin is a journalist).
The author argues that in cases like the Typhon Hyian, gullible people are brainwashed by a kind of mediatc tsunami which only amplifies uncontrolled and quasi hysterical initial statements.
He further advices the media consumers to systematically distrust ANY statement in the media if it is unanimous, too strong and loud (abusing words like unprecedented) and especially if the satement is followed by an interview with Greenpeace, an EU Political Komissar, a soccer player or an actor.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Tom, you're confused. It's my book that was translated to French by someone else.

reader Eugene S said...

An official US briefing document obtained by the Guardian reveals that the country is worried the UN negotiations, currently under way in Warsaw, will "focus increasingly on blame and liability" and poor nations will be "seeking redress for climate damages from sea level rise, droughts, powerful storms and other adverse impacts".

At last year's climate talks in Doha, the US fought off calls from African nations, the Pacific Islands and less developed nations for a "loss and damage mechanism" to channel finance to help nations cope with losses resulting from climate change, such as reduced crop production due to higher temperatures.

The member nations of the G77+China, which includes most African and some Latin American countries, cannot leave Warsaw without agreement on a loss and damage mechanism, said G77 lead negotiator Juan Hoffmaister.

"We can't only rely on ad-hoc humanitarian aid given the reality that major climate-related disasters are becoming the new normal," Hoffmaister said.


reader W.A. Zajc said...

Lubos, I found time to watch the entire thing, and my opinion is not too different from yours. I would give it a weak “OK”, if only because it might interest a new generation in Feynman and his physics. At the same time, I thought the film was very depressing and dark (both literally and figuratively). The first YouTube video I found of the real Feynman on the Challenger disaster shows that even very late in his life he was still energetic with his sense of humor intact, rather different from the film’s portrayal of a depressed and dying man. I am willing to grant some dramatic license to such silliness as Feynman typing on a primitive word processor or PC in his hotel room (never happened, I am quite sure), but the gratuitous and profoundly stupid reference to path integrals is just loopy.

I learned some things I did not know. General Kutyna really did take Feynman to the Pentagon for a briefing, but Feynman insisted that it not contain any classified information, as he always wanted to be able to speak freely (this from Kutyna’s own account in “No Ordinary Genius”, by Christopher Sykes). In that compilation Kutyna also relates that he did not tell Feynman that Kutnya's source was Sally Ride until Feynman’s final days, at which point Feynman became very angry with him. Kutyna writes “I think he probably understood in the end, although he gave me a hard time for quite a while because of it!”

The film had the expected evil big business conspiracy theory melodrama. I suppose this makes it more interesting to the average viewer, but it undermines the real “banality of bureaucracy” aspect that Feynman uncovered, which didn’t require active evil but instead was enabled by the passive stupidity of multiple layer of management, with each level “improving” on the failure probabilities provided by the engineers.

I did not know about the very interesting story of Allan McDonald, who desperately tried to prevent launching in the very cold weather. His book on the topic “Truth, Lies and O-Rings” has been well-reviewed on Amazon.

As for the actual mechanics of the disaster, I have always thought that strapping humans to solid fuel boosters was a profoundly bad idea. Compounding this was NASA’s emphasis on selling the shuttle as a low cost “space truck” with a heavy emphasis on re-usability. Again, I am not an expert, but re-usable solid fuel boosters for human missions seems like an even worse idea. It’s not too hard to find arguments supporting this view; here is one: http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/archive/general/ethics/boosters.html

reader lucretius said...

I agree with every word. Thanks for mentioning "No Ordinary Genius" which I had somehow missed. I just watched this

and although it essentially confirmed everything that I had believed, it's still was fascinating. Everybody who watches the new film should also watch this video as a kind of "anti-dote".

reader Dimension10 (Abhimanyu PS) said...


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