Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Spirals and ice ages

New from the One Thing Leads To Another department, a loyal reader of Skeptophilia recently sent me a link that spells out why we're headed to another ice age, which precipitated my vanishing down the rabbit hole for almost two hours.

The gist of the first website I looked at is that we're headed for an ice age despite everything we're currently doing to send us into the climate change hothouse, because the current model of the Solar System is "not only boring, but incorrect."  This follows the well-known scientific law that if you're bored by a theory, that's evidence that it's wrong.

This startling revelation came from a post on the r/Conspiracy subreddit that could be used as an advertisement about why it's critical to take high school physics.  It starts with a video on YouTube called "The Helical Model: Our Solar System is a Vortex," wherein we find out that because the Sun is traveling in a (more-or-less) circular path around the center of the galaxy, the planets aren't traveling in circles, they travel instead in a "vortex."  "The Sun is like a comet," the video tells us, "dragging planets in its wake."

Because apparently comets do that.  Who knew?

"Rotational motion" and "vortex motion" are, we are told, "completely different things."  Then we're shown all sorts of pretty pictures of spiral stuff like ammonite shells and fern fiddleheads.

But so far, what we've been shown is hardly startling, if you know any physics at all.  Of course the motion of the planets looks different if you're viewing it from a different perspective.  Physicists call this a reference frame, and they know all about them -- the idea of reference frames is what gave Einstein the idea for the Theories of Relativity.  So it's not some kind of earthshattering idea to point out that if you're traveling with the Sun, the planets move in ellipses, and if you're not -- if you're at a fixed point above the center of the Milky Way, watching the stars zoom around in circles -- the planets will travel in a spiral-ish fashion.  The motion isn't different; what has changed is your reference frame.

But that's only the beginning.  We're then shown two drawings of "energy fields," one around a human and one around... um, something.  I'm not sure what.  The first one is marked "copyrighted," so out of respect for intellectual property rights (although this may be stretching the definition of the word "intellectual"), I'll just post a link to it.  The second, though, I'll reproduce here:

The original poster on r/Conspiracy called these "Taurus fields."  And I sat there for some time, wondering, "Why Taurus?  Why not Scorpio or Aquarius, or, for that matter, Camelopardalis?"  And then it came to me: he means "torus."  As in, a donut-shaped thing.  Although I do think that "Taurus" is correct in one sense, in that this seems to me to be a lot of bull.

In any case, this sets us up for the punch line, which I present here in toto:
...we are just on the outside of the Iron Age (the shaded in cone), and entering the Bronze Age.  Being we are still in the cone, this is causing us to travel in a spiral, but the spiral is widening.  This is causing us to gain speed, like a sling. 
This gain in speed is causing our sun to produce longer solar flares.  This will cause our planet to rise in temperature, causing our polar caps to melt.  This, of course, will cause major flooding.  We've yet to see the worst, and the worst will last about a month to a month and a half.  This will flood most of the world. 
And the sun progresses to increase, the planets will pull away (think of gravity like a bungee cord), and this will then cause global cooling, which will introduce us into a new ice age. 
The ice age will take about 300 years to fully manifest, but it will last between 12,000 - 16,000 years. 
This explains all the black projects costing trillions of dollars.  This explains all the underground bunkers being built.  This explains all the camps, all the militarization of police, all the crack down on rights.  This explains why people that seem to have all the money they need seem to need more money.
Wowza.  This may be one of the most concentrated samples of bullshit I've ever seen.  We have: a total lack of understanding of basic physics, apocalyptic stuff, "global cooling," government conspiracy theories, and underground bunkers, all in the space of just five short paragraphs.

We are then directed to two websites for further information.  The first is Half Past Human, which seems to be some kind of conspiracy site (although I did see references to "swirlies in the sky" and "spacegoat farts" as I scrolled down the entries, both of which I would prefer not to investigate, rabbit hole notwithstanding).  The second is, which is a blog with lots of videos and articles about how everything we know about physics is wrong.  Oh, and chemtrails and Cliven Bundy and music and pyramids.

It's a general rule of thumb that whenever some n00b comes down the pike, without any scientific training whatsoever, and claims to have discovered a Grand Theory of Life, the Universe, and Everything, (s)he is (1) probably insane, and (2) definitely wrong.  Scientists do make mistakes; as British science historian James Burke put it, in the episode "Worlds Without End" from his amazing series The Day the Universe Changed, "The so-called voyage of discovery has, as often as not, made landfall for reasons little to do with the search for knowledge."  Science sometimes backtracks, makes missteps, pursues what ultimately turn out to be dead ends.

But scientists do understand the method by which you achieve understanding, and because of that, the overall body of science becomes better refined, and closer to grasping the actual truth, as time goes on.  The bottom line: we may not understand everything, but we have a pretty good idea of how to explain a lot of what we see.  The likelihood of anyone finding anything that completely overturns our understanding of any branch of science is slim indeed.

And that includes vortex motion, Taurus fields and "spacegoat farts."


Finding a person who is both an expert in an arcane field like quantum physics, and is also able to write lucidly about it for the interested layperson, is rare indeed.  Such a person is Sean Carroll, whose books From Eternity to Here, The Particle at the End of the Universe, and The Big Picture explore such ideas as the Big Bang, the Higgs boson, and what exactly time is -- and why it seems to flow in only one direction.

In his latest book, Something Deeply Hidden, Carroll looks not only at the non-intuitive world of quantum physics, but at the problem at the heart of it -- the "collapse of the wave function," how a reality that is a field of probabilities (experimental data agrees with quantum theory to an astonishing degree on this point) somehow converts to a reality with definitive outcomes when it's observed.  None of the solutions thus proposed, Carroll claims, are really satisfying -- so physicists are left with a dilemma, a theory that has been experimentally verified to a fare-thee-well but still has a giant gaping unexplained hole at its center.

Something Deeply Hidden is an amazing read, and will fascinate you from page 1 until you close the back cover.  It will also repeatedly blow your mind in its description of a universe that doesn't behave at all like what common sense says it should.  And Sean Carroll is exactly the author to navigate these shark-infested waters.  This is a book you don't want to miss.

[Note: if you purchase this book using the image/link below, part of the proceeds goes to support Skeptophilia!]

1 comment:

  1. Hell, the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's “The Ultimate Answer to Life, The Universe and Everything is...42!” makes more sense then some of these conspiracy theory websites. And the further you get into those particular rabbit holes, the weirder the shit gets. I usually feel like I lost a few IQ points whenever I find myself in some of those odd corners of the Internet.

    Give me some facts with reputable sources to back your theory up, and maybe I would be willing to give it a critical ear. Otherwise, I group your theories with the last episode of Family Guy. For Entertainment Purposes Only.

    This is why I love your blog. You present information and back it up with well known, reputable sources.