Science Guardian

Truth, beauty and paradigm power in science and society

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News, views and reviews measured against professional literature in peer reviewed journals (adjusted for design flaws and bias), well researched books, authoritative encyclopedias (not the bowdlerized Wiki entries on controversial topics) and the investigative reporting and skeptical studies of courageous original thinkers among academics, philosophers, researchers, scholars, authors, filmmakers and journalists.

Supporting the right of exceptional minds to free speech, publication, media coverage and funding against the crowd prejudice, leadership resistance, monetary influences and internal professional politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, HIV(not)AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, information technology, religions and cults, health, medicine, diet and nutrition.

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HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Halton C. Arp wki/obit/txt/vds/txt/txt/bk/bk, Henry Bauer txt/blg/ blg/bks/bk/txt/bk/vd, John Beard bk, Harvey Bialy bk/bk/txt/txt/rdo/vd, John Bockris bio/txt/ltr/bk, Donald W. Braben, Peter Breggin ste/fb/col/bks, Darin Brown txt/txt/txt/txt/txt/vd, Giordano Bruno bk/bio/bio, Frank R. Buianouckas, Stanislav Burzynski mov, Erwin Chargaff bio/bk/bio/prs, James Chin bk/vd, Nicolaus Copernicus bk, Mark Craddock, Francis Crick vd, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw txt/bk, Roger Cunningham, Charles Darwin txts/bk, Erasmus Darwin txt//bk/txt/hse/bks, Peter Duesberg ste/ste/bk/txt/vd/vd, Freeman Dyson, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman bio, John Fewster, Rosalind Franklin, Bernard Forscher tx, Galileo Galilei, Walter Gilbert vd, Goethe bio/bk/bio, Nicolas Gonzalez tlk/rec/stetxt/txt, Patricia Goodson txt/bk/bk, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Etienne de Harven bk/txt/vd, Alfred Hassig intw/txt, Robert G. Houston txt, Steven Jonas vd, Edward Jenner txt, Benjamin Jesty, Adrian Kent vd, Thomas Kuhn, Fred Kummerow, Stefan Lanka txt/txt/vd, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen vd, Paul Lauterbur vd, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, James Lovelock, Andrew Maniotis, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, Christi Meyer vd, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Luc Montagnier txt/txt/vd, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling prs/vd/vd, Eric Penrose, Roger Penrose vd, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick bio/vd/bk, Robert Root-Bernstein vd, Sherwood Rowland, Otto Rossler, Harry Rubin, Marco Ruggiero txt/txt/intw/vd, Bertrand Russell Carl Sagan vd, Erwin Schrodinger, Fred Singer, Barbara Starfield txt, Gordon Stewart txt/txt, Richard Strohman, Thomas Szasz, Nicola Tesla bio/bio, Charles Thomas intw/vd, Frank Tipler, James Watson vd/vd, Alfred Wegener vd, Edward O. Wilson vd.

ACADEMICS, DOCTORS, AUTHORS, FILMMAKERS, REPORTERS AND COMMENTATORS WHO HAVE NOBLY AIDED REVIEW OF THE STATUS QUO

Jad Adams bk, Marci Angell bk/txt/txt/txt, Clark Baker ste/txt/rdo/vd, James Blodgett, Tony Brown vd, Hiram Caton txt/txt/txt/bk/ste, Jonathan Collin ste , Marcus Cohen, David Crowe vd, Margaret Cuomo, Stephen Davis BK/BK,/rdo, Michael Ellner vd, Elizabeth Ely txt/txt/ste, Epicurus, Dean Esmay, Celia Farber bio/txt/txt/txt/vd, Jonathan Fishbein txt/txt/wk, T.C.Fry, Michael Fumento, Max Gerson txt, Charles Geshekter vd, Michael Geiger, Roberto Giraldo, David Healy txt, Bob Herbert, Mike Hersee ste/rdo, Neville Hodgkinson txt /vd, James P. Hogan, Richard Horton bio/vd/vd, Christopher Hitchens, Eric Johnson, Claus Jensen vd, Phillip Johnson, Coleman Jones vds, William Donald Kelley, Ernst T. Krebs Sr txt, Ernst T. Krebs Jr. txt,/bio/txt/txt/ltr, Paul Krugman, Brett Leung MOV/ste/txt/txt/tx+vd/txt, Katie Leishman, Anthony Liversidge blg/intv/intv/txt/txts/txt/intv/txt/vd/vd, Bruce Livesey txt, James W. Loewen, Frank Lusardi, Nathaniel Lehrman vd, Christine Maggiore bk/ste/rec/rdo/vd, Rouben Mamoulian txt/txt/txt/txt/txt/doc/flm/flm, Noreen Martin vd, Robert Maver txt/itw, Eric Merola MOV, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Michael Moore bio/MOV/MOV/MOV, Gordon Moran, Ralph Nader bk, Ralph Moss txt/blg/ste/bks, Gary Null /txt/rdo/vd, Dan Olmsted wki, Toby Ord vd, Charles Ortleb bk/txt/bk/intw/flm, Neenyah Ostrom bk, Dennis Overbye, Mehmet Dr Oz vd, Eleni Papadopulos-Eleopulos ste/vd, Maria Papagiannidou bk, Thomas Piketty bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk/bk, Robert Pollin txt/vd/bk, Jon Rappoport bio/bk/bk/ste/bk/bk/vd, Janine Roberts bk/bk, Luis Sancho vd, Liam Scheff ste/txt/bk/bk/rdio/vd, John Scythes, Casper Schmidt txt/txt, Joan Shenton vd/vd, Joseph Sonnabend vd, John Stauber, David Steele, Joseph Stiglitz bk/txt, Will Storr rdo Wolfgang Streeck, James P. Tankersley ste, Gary Taubes vd, Mwizenge S. Tembo, John Tierney vd, Michael Tracey, Valendar Turner rec, Jesse Ventura bk, Michael Verney-Elliott bio/vds/vd, Voltaire, Walter Wagner, Andrew Weil vd, David Weinberger bio/bk/blg/blg/BK/bk/pds, Robert Willner bk/txt/txt/vd, Howard Zinn.

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I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing that ever interfered with my learning was my education. I am Freeman Dyson, and I approve of this blog, but would warn the author that life as a heretic is a hard one, since the ignorant and the half informed, let alone those who should know better, will automatically trash their betters who try to enlighten them with independent thinking, as I have found to my sorrow in commenting on "global warming" and its cures.
Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

The progress of science is strewn, like an ancient desert trail, with the bleached skeletons of discarded theories which once seemed to possess eternal life. - Arthur Koestler

One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison. – Bertrand Russell

Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it. - Samuel Johnson

A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open. – Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. – John Stuart Mill

Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform. – Mark Twain

Although science has led to the generally high living standards that most of the industrialized world enjoys today, the astounding discoveries underpinning them were made by a tiny number of courageous, out-of-step, visionary, determined, and passionate scientists working to their own agenda and radically challenging the status quo. – Donald W. Braben

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When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself. – Mark Twain

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Man’s mind cannot grasp the causes of events in their completeness, but the desire to find those causes is implanted in man’s soul. And without considering the multiplicity and complexity of the conditions any one of which taken separately may seem to be the cause, he snatches at the first approximation to a cause that seems to him intelligible and says: “This is the cause!” – Leo Tolstoy

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Wonder Full World of Air Travel: IMAX Celebration

A Twin Otter seaplane landing on water over a shallow reef in the Maldives

A Twin Otter seaplane landing on water over a shallow reef in the Maldives

National Geographic Praises Flight Technology With Stunning Pictorial

Reminder of All that Airplanes have Brought, including World Shopping and Families Home for Thanksgiving

But Isn’t This A Poignant Last Look at Earth at its Peak?

With its Smithsonian premiere tomorrow in Washington, New Yorkers will also now have a chance to catch probably the most resolutely positive documentary on air travel and its benefits ever made.

High technology:  A huge GE Jet engine suspended in a factory of the company which financed the film. (Click twice to enlarge fully)

High technology: A huge GE Jet engine suspended in a factory of the company which financed the film.

Living in the Age of Airplanes is a 47 minute IMAX, HD 4K digital, Dolby extravaganza of superb shots of the major scenic spots of the world, together with other benefits of the invention of the airplane, such as the flowers and myriad other household goods from half way round the world in every living room, which cranky passengers squeezed into narrow, unforgiving seats in late arriving aircraft never think of anymore.

Hail to the Airplane: Tourists thrill to an approaching plane landing over their heads on St Maartens.

Probably the gifts of the airplane in this National Geographic special have never looked so good even to those who have actually visited them in person, but no matter. The aim of this all-too-brief, 48 min documentary is to remind us just what a remarkable transformation of human existence has been wrought in a blink of time’s eye by aviation, and it succeeds triumphantly. If anything, it is far too short.

Topurists walking on the sight seeing bridge at Brazil's extensive Iguazu Falls (click to expand to very large size)

Tourists walking on the sight seeing bridge at Brazil’s extensive Iguazu Falls

Covering all seven continents, from Iguazu Falls, the gigantic Brazilian set of waterfalls 1.7 miles long stretching into Argentina, to the Maldive Islands, where some brilliant shots are taken amid fish under the clear water as the floats of a seaplane take off the surface overhead.

The filmmakers are undeterred by remoteness or time. They manage to get a rare visit to the South Pole with cinematographer Doug Allan, the Polar wildlife specialist who had spent 30 summers in Antarctica but never reached the Pole, which demands perfect weather to coincide in three airports.

The DC-3 can land on skids in Antartica, but weather has to be fine in three airports to get you to the South Pole itself.

What they find there, on top of the two mile thick ice sheet, is a decorative pole and other ceremonial trappings from 12 nations that signed the Antarctic Treaty, in force since 1961. The marker is a barber pole with a mirrored sphere on top, and it now lies several hundred feet from true 90° south, since the ice cap shifts 30 feet every year, and moving the pole and the ring of national flags would be too much trouble. (The US station with its record size neutrino hunting IceCube particle detector is discreetly in the background).

Now you’ve got there, you may reflect that the Pole is 300 feet farther south.

But many of the visuals are stunning, new shots of familiar locations and lesser known ones by cinematographer Andrew Waruszewski using the very cinematic, new digital camera Alexa and often accompanied by the overwhelming music typical of IMAX presentations as if vast natural beauty doesn’t speak for itself. Even the platform stretching over the Grand Canyon lends itself to emphasizing the grandeur of the chasm below.

The platform at the Grand Canyon is called the Skywalk

But the point the movie makes best is its basic theme, just how immense an acceleration of human life aviation has brought so quickly.

The timeline is, if you think about it, astonishing. For almost 200,000 years we walked at three miles an hour and most humans traveled less than 20 miles from their birthplace. The wheel arrived 5000 years ago, but the steam engine powered the wheel only 175 years ago, when we were still as separated by time and distance as the ancient Egyptians. On screen the map of the USA is lit up by glowing rail connections which networked the entire country by the end of the 19th Century.

Are you thinking of how overweight your neighbor is, or looking out of the window at more land than your ancestors saw in a lifetime?

Then in only a century of aviation, and sixty years of the jet age, the entire globe is lit up with planes like fireflies – 100,000 takeoffs every day, 250,000 people in the sky at any one time. The cliches praising this transformation are all very true: Aviation is now “the lifeblood of the modern world”. The airport is “portal to the planet”. Now “it’s walking distance to almost anywhere”. “What once demanded migration is now a vacation.”

Somehow the pyramids don’t seem as evocative of the secrets of the past when Mum and kids are towed past on camels

The film conveys the sense of wonderful mastery conveyed by this change, without delving into its other consequences. Some may privately feel that the Sphinx loses her mystery when a camel carrying Mum and children comes into view, and others worry about global warming and global disease, not to mention the original sin introduced by aviation, the civilian mass deaths of bombing. But this is a feel good trip to things we experience now without a second thought, but are really marvels of life in the age of the airplane.

“Since we were all born into a world with airplanes, it’s hard to imagine that jet travel itself is only 60 years old, just a tick on the timeline of human history,” says director Terwilliger. “Yet practically overnight, our perception of crossing continents and oceans at 500 mph has turned from fascination to frustration. I want to reignite people’s wonder for one of the most extraordinary aspects of the modern world.”

In this huge hangar in Amsterdam, flowers from Kenya will arrive and be sent to Alaska via another hub to reach an Alaska living room in a day, with ten days of fresh bloom left.

Plane passion

One reason may be that almost everyone important involved has access to what is now the best benefit of all, the freedom and adventure of flying small planes, for which they feel a personal passion. Funded by GE as the main sponsor, Terwilliger visited 18 countries over several years for this film, a dedication to the topic that arose first from his childhood awe at the performance of the Blue Angels. He made a 2008 film about this team of Navy jet pilots, Flying Full Circle, in which he himself flew in an F-18 Hornet. Filled with enthusiasm Terwilliger soloed at 19 and got his private pilot license a year later, and his first feature film in 2005 was One Six Right, which told of a day in the life of the local Van Nuys airport on Los Angeles.

The Maldives don’t have an airport but one of these pretty seaplanes can get you there directly.

Harrison Ford, also a keen pilot, narrates the film’s expertly written voice over, which compresses great historical trends as skilfully as Eugene Weber (the UCLA professor whose peerless history of Western society, Western Tradition, is still running on CUNY TV). The star keeps a small fleet of airplanes in a Santa Monica hanger, including a Bell 407 helicopter which he has flown to rescue Wyoming hikers. At 72 recently he had to crash land his vintage plane on a golf course, but survived with a gash to the head.

Not so wonderful: Harrison Ford’s engine failure after takeoff recently landed him on a golf course with a nasty gash in his forehead.

The composer, James Horner, who also pilots his own plane, contributes an appropriately stirring score which is only occasionally intrusive (he won two Oscars for Titanic, for the score and a song, ‘My Heart Will Go On’, and the album was the largest-selling instrumental score ever, at 10 million in the US and 27 million worldwide).

The airplane can take you to see the elephants in East Africa, but did anyone ask the elephants if we are welcome?

Living in the Age of Airplanes’ will be showing from April 10 Fri at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, the National Geographic Leroy R. & Rose W. Grumman Dome Theater (Garden City, NY), and the New York Hall of Science in Queens. If busy New Yorkers can be persuaded to lift their eyes from their phones long enough to get their whole family there, it will give them a new appreciation of all that the airplane has brought to our lives, and perhaps inspire them to transcend the inconvenience of modern air travel and visit faraway places themselves before they all are submerged by the banality of mass tourism, or ultimately sink beneath the ocean rise of global warming.

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