Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, November 17, 2012

His politics are no better researched than his science

Well, duh, you say. But some folk don't get it. Take Benjamin Kerstein, whom long-standing readers may remember as the guy who described me as a "pathetic little neo-Nazi cunt" for having the temerity to pick him up on an egregious piece of scientific ignorance in what purported to be an SF story.*** He being a Jew, any such criticism, however well-founded in the Second Law of Thermodynamics or the physical properties of nitrogen, could only arise from neo-Nazi sympathies. Anyway, the self-important fool has left wicked liberal America (where he was so unappreciated he flunked his college degree: more antisemitism!) and lives in Tel Aviv, where the political and racial climate is obviously far more suited to one of his undoubted (by himself) talent. The right-wing Jerusalem Post gave him a platform recently to explain why all criticism of Israel, whatever its source, is anti-semitic.

If anyone can find a single argument in Kerstein's rambling tirade which goes beyond "Because I say so" please explain it in a comment.

*** As the original link to our exchange on the Kesher Talk blog is not longer active, here is a link to the SF story "Josef6" which Kerstein published online. Note the following extract (emphases mine):

The blueprints showed an oblong object in three sections, each divided from the other. The front section, which sat at the top of the sketch, was the cockpit or a variation thereof. The second contained the two micro-singularity generators and the plutonium based power source which was divided from the cockpit section by a lead barrier of considerable width and stamina. The back section was an exhaust chamber or sorts, but rather than venting the radioactive waste from the vessel the chamber apparently stored it in isometric tubes at a temperature of negative 562 degrees Celsius so as to avoid any possible contamination. The notes at the bottom of the image claimed that the vessel’s waste product was slight in comparison to its output and the material was reused when the vessel returned to its initial time period. The entire structure was roughly the size of an average four-door automobile.

The blueprints were, of course, largely unintelligible to the layman and thus caused only a slight consternation among those who were eagerly awaiting new revelations. The possibility of micro-singularity generators and the practical implications of liquid nitrogen storage tubes for plutonium byproducts were issues of interest only to specialists and the professionally skeptical.

When I read that (don't bother with the rest of the story, it really is no better) I suggested to Ben that he might like to make a couple of corrections to the obvious scientific errors therein, to wit:

(1) The absolute zero of temperature (set by the Second Law of Thermodynamics) is -273.15 degrees Celsius, meaning that the temperature at which the radioactive waste in his story was stored is not merely practically impossible but theoretically meaningless.

(2) Liquid nitrogen boils at -196 degrees Celsius, ie some 77 degrees above actual absolute zero. So while thermodynamics would stop his purported cooling system some 289 degrees short of the temperature he claims it reached, the mechanism he proposes in his story would stop it a whole 366 degrees above it.

Apologies to my readers for the wicked neo-Nazi science contained in the foregoing footnote.