Sorry for the ridiculously slow pace around here lately; I've been ridiculously busy. I'm changing projects at work; it's the end of the school year for my kids; and I'm getting close to the end-game for my book. Between all of those, I just haven't had much time for blogging lately.
Anyway... I came across this lovely gem, and I couldn't resist commenting on it. (Before I get to it, I have to point out that it's on "viXra.org". viXra is "ViXra.org is an e-print archive set up as an alternative to the popular arXiv.org service owned by Cornell University. It has been founded by scientists who find they are unable to submit their articles to arXiv.org because of Cornell University's policy of endorsements and moderation designed to filter out e-prints that they consider inappropriate.". In other words, it's a site for cranks who can't even post their stuff on arXiv. Considering some of the dreck that's been posted an arXiv, that's pretty damned sad.)
In my experience, when crackpots look at physics, they go after one of two things. Either they pick some piece of modern physics that makes them uncomfortable - like relativity or quantum mechanics - and they try to force some argument that their discomfort with it must mean that it's wrong. The other big one is free energy - whether it's perpetual motion, or vacuum energy, or browns gas - the crackpots claim that they've found some wonderful magical process that defies the laws of thermodynamics in order to make limitless free energy. The cranks rarely (not never, but rarely) go after the kinds of physics that we experience every day.
Well, this is something different. This guy basically wants to claim that gravity doesn't really exist. And along the way, he claims to have solved the problems of dark matter and dark energy. See, we've all got it totally wrong about gravity! Gravity isn't a force where matter attracts other matter. It's a force where warm things attract other warm things! Gravity is actually a force created when things radiate heat.
As evidence of this, the author claims to show how heating a copper sphere changes its apparent mass! The author claims that if you put a 1068 gram copper sphere above a 1000 watt heat element for 400 seconds will increase its mass by 20 grams - almost two percent! And no one has ever noticed this before!
Even better - if you put a copper hemisphere placed concave side up, below two spheres full of ice, and you turn on a 1000W heat element for 500 seconds, the mass will change by nearly 10 percent! And once again, no once noticed it before our intrepid author!
Now, a sane person, looking at this, would immediately say that this is almost certainly an error. I mean, think about what it means: you can, using the burner on your stove, change the mass of an object by nearly 10 percent in five minutes. Mass, which at non-relativistic speeds is effectively constant - can be varied by a huge amount just in your kitchen!
And yet... No one has ever noticed this before! Chemists, doing precise measurements, have never noticed that the mass of their experimental apparatus change when they heat them. Rockets, with precisely calculated thrusts to achieve particular orbits, have actually changed their masses when they're heated, and no one noticed. The space shuttle gets dramatically heavier during re-entry - and no one noticed!.
These things are obvious. The magnitude of the changes that he claims to observe are absolutely staggering. And yet, no one else has every observed them.
So, where's the bad math? It's an issue of magnitude and scale. On the one hand, he's producing absolutely huge numbers about how mass changes with moderate temperature change - heating a piece of copper over your kitchen stove can produce a ten percent change in mass! But he doesn't consider the large-scale impacts that this would have.
He works out, based on his observation of apparent mass changes in his copper spheres, how much heat you need to radiate to create a particular "gravitational" force. And he then uses that to work out how much difference you would need in the amount of heat radiated by the daylight side of the earth versus the night side of the earth to produce the earths orbit - accordingto him, it works out to about 0.08% difference. According to his computations, 8 ten-thousandths difference in the amount of heat being radiated is enough to produce the earths orbit.
And yet - differences of similar or greater magnitude don't make a difference. He treats the entire daylight side of the earth as being completely uniform in heat radiation - when, in fact, it's not. The parts of the earth close to the day-night terminator actually radiate more heat that the parts of the earth close to the night-day line. So shouldn't the earths direction of acceleration be different because of that?
Why does the moon orbit the earth? Why doesn't it show less attraction to the earth when it's on the dark side of the earth? Why doesn't a new moon (where the side radiating significant amounts of heat is faced away from the earth) have less gravitational attraction than a full moon (where the radiating face is full towards us)?
He simply doesn't have a clue of what the numbers he's (mis-)measuring mean. So he's drawing nonsense conclusions that make absolutely no sense. Any attempt to actually understand the meaning of the mathematical results that he's computing would show that they can't possibly be right. But he never does that.