Saturday, January 10, 2015

New Fission Reactor Designs a Hopeful Energy Source for the Future. Case Study: Terrestrial Energy #1

I have had a long interest in alternative energy sources going back to my teen age years, decades ago. And there are so many developments in fields from solar, wind, nuclear etc. that a good summary entry would not be wasted time.  But for now that will wait in the interest of mentioning one specific development.

This blog has been an optimistic observer of developments in the field of Cold Fusion / LENR in particular Andrea Rossi and his E-Cat starting as far back as July 2011 [1].  And I continue to be such although there is little benefit to duplicating the fine information distribution efforts of the e-cat world website which has become something of a clearing house for the latest LENR information.  See http://www.e-catworld.com 

At the same time I have been watching various alternative attempts at hot fusion reactor designs by several private companies.  Most provide little information other than limited conceptual presentations.  There are interesting, even promising, ideas out there but nothing that is remotely real-world ready at this point.

On the other hand, I have ventured only slightly into the world of fission nuclear reactors by way of commenting on the Fukushima disaster [2] and mentioning a German-proposed alternative fission reactor design, the Dual Fluid reactor. [3]

In none of these areas do I claim to be an expert.  I am an electrical engineer with years of general system trouble shooting experience. [4]  Other than that I claim no particular special value to my opinions.  Having said that, I will share another opinion FWIW.

These ongoing alternative energy technology observations along with recent developments in the field of fission has me more optimistic than ever for the future for energy technology development.  I am quite confident that the doom and fear peddlers of Peak-this and Peak-that, who demonstrate on a daily basis their lack of technical or scientific understanding of almost any of these topics, will be shown to be horribly wrong in the long term, even if they manage to make themselves financially successful in selling their message of darkness today.

First, for context, recall the chart given in the Dual Fluid Reactor post, provided by Wikipedia, which pictures the Generations of Fission Nuclear Reactor designs.



The design and regulatory approval cycle for nuclear reactors is very very long and expensive.  Most active commercial nuclear reactors are Gen II designs dating back many decades.[5]  Although the first Gen III reactors were built in the 1990s, there are still only a few Gen III reactors in operation today.  Gen IV reactors are just gleams in the eyes of scientists and engineers at this point.

There are a variety of Gen IV reactor ideas being floated and discussed all over the world.  Bill Gates, for example, is funding research in China for a Gen IV reactor design via the company Terra Power and their Traveling Wave Reactor.[6]  Gen IV reactors have the potential to be much more revolutionary than the moves from Gen III to Gen III+.

One company who is taking an approach that resonates with my general approach toward design is a Canadian company Terrestrial Energy.[7]  They have an idea that follows the conviction that there is fundamental value in the research done by the U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960's and 1970's when they had an alternative nuclear fission reactor design up and running for several years.[8]  This design was abandoned by the U.S. government in favor of the solid fuel designs in operation in all present commercial reactors.  Terrestrial Energy has taken that work and updated it with their own ideas in addition to other recent work done at Oak Ridge regarding smaller nuclear reactors.  They have combined this work into a small uranium nuclear reactor alternative design idea that has many positives in its favor.  In many aspects it is guided by the principle of simplicity and of reducing problems to be overcome in order to minimize hurdles and maximize benefits.  This increases the likelihood of success and minimizes development cost and the time required to reach a successful end.  

The idea is to have reactors built in self-contained vessels able to be moved via rail-car.[9]  There are several companies attempting to make small modular reactor designs like this such as NuScale Power and Babcock and Wilcox.  But Terrestrial Power is mixing this idea with the molten-salt design based upon the research done at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s.  "Molten Salt" means the radio active fuel is dissolved in a liquid salt material.  Thus the nuclear fuel is in liquid form and the cooling functions are performed by the same liquid flowing through heat exchangers.  This is unlike current "solid fuel" designs where the fuel stays in one spot and water is used to carry the heat away from the fuel. This reactor differs from previous molten salt designs, however, in that it is intended to be a uranium based design, at least initially, rather than being thorium based.  There are other aspects of the design which contribute to its simplicity, cost reduction, and regulatory hurdle reduction.  You can get a summary of the technical highlights from videos etc. on TE's website.[10]

Aside from the technical details there are other important aspects to the Terrestrial Energy effort that seems to give them an significant advantage over many competitors.  For one they are based in Canada and thus have a less oppressive regulatory process to deal with to eventually get a design approved compared to the U.S.  In addition, they have a clear and important private national interest supporting them in the oil sands industry which knows that it needs abundant inexpensive future energy sources in order to competitively develop the heavy oil resources found in south central Canada.  Thus Terrestrial Energy has strong private industry backing and as a result are not lacking for funding unlike U.S. companies.  This combination of factors between a private company, other private interests who want and need their proposed product, and a supportive governmental regulatory environment, gives TE some powerful advantages.

In addition to all of this, and the events which actually caught my attention recently, was that Terrestrial Energy have just signed agreements with the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories and with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to work with them on a 2 year product design cycle.  This cooperation with the Canadian and U.S. labs, including some individuals involved in the original Oak Ridge molten salt research, is another big step forward for Terrestrial Energy and is a statement to their being well positioned in many aspects to be successful in their product design.

In the end, technology success depends upon one or more product successes.  And this depends upon having customers for a product that is government certified and is cost competitive in the short and long term with existing technologies.  At this point, TE believes they will have such a product.  Time and the the market will ultimately tell.

In another post, I will summarize the various advantages of such a Gen IV fission reactor over current technologies and why such a development could be a huge step forward in meeting future world demands for energy.

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After 4 1/2 years progress is still being made slowly.  The technology still has no general acceptance as being real, nor any accepted explanation for the phenomenon, but official institutional emotional rejection has started to wane.  Those studying the topics are no longer immediately considered insane or labeled insane as they once were.  I have spent less time providing updates here because of the f I remain optimistic on future of this technology.  But it will not truly fulfill its full destiny until there is a fairly accepted explanation for the phenomenon and efforts can be made to apply optimizing engineering efforts to it.  Rossi may yet field a commercial product as may others and success may be enjoyed and hope buoyed up and research dollars start flowing in the meantime.  But we will not know the full potential until the phenomenon is at least more fully understood.  



4. It is with special satisfaction that I observe Bob Higgins, whom I do not know, but who is a fellow former Motorola engineer taking part in the Open Science efforts to duplicate and understand the Rossi e-cat reactor.  But it is an appropriate reflection of the great collection of scientific and engineering minds once collected within that company that at least one of us should contribute materially to this field of potentially great future importance.  Motorola's demise over the last 20 years is remarkable to those who have watched, my career starting there at the very peak of its final period of success in the 1990's and since then it has fallen victim to the forces of financialization that have torn apart and destroyed so much of the unique American system.

5. Fukushima was a Gen 2 BWR reactor commissioned in 1971.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_Nuclear_Power_Plant

6. http://terrapower.com  Also see news items from 2011 when this activity was started up: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203501304577084450143654704  Terra Power is aiming for a 600MW prototype to be operational in 2022.


8. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten-Salt_Reactor_Experiment   Others have also focused upon the work done by Oak Ridge and have promoted these ideas.  Much of this is based around the idea of Thorium as an alternative fuel.  See here: http://pane-of-science.blogspot.com/2012/11/thorium-progress.html and especially the Weinberg Foundation: http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/

9. See the U.S. Dept of Energy's support of this idea: http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2013/12/13/u-s-dept-of-energy-grants-226-million-to-small-reactor-startup-nuscale/

Also see the Oak Ridge facility preparations for testing such a design:



Monday, October 13, 2014

The Trouble with Physics – Another branch of science captured by groupthink

An essay for consideration:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/10/12/the-trouble-with-physics-another-branch-of-science-captured-by-groupthink/

referring to this Wikipedia entry: The Trouble With Physics

In the human population, no matter the professional field involved, there are relatively few individuals who are truly independent detailed thinkers who come to conclusions with lesser dependence upon the opinions of others.  No one is completely independent of their setting and community.  But a few are more independent than others.

There are actually many more "contrarians", who simply want to be different, than there are independent thinkers.  "Contrarians" identify the largest crowd and simply go with the opposite without really much understanding of what they are saying.

And by the nature of things, independent thinkers can only really be independent and original within a narrow scope.  They can very well be dependent and captured by group think within other fields which they give limited thought or consideration to.  This happens all the time.

In the end we are subject to the limitations of human nature and time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

ECAT #13: Third Party Report Published

A third party test of the e-cat and a report of this testing was published in May 2013.[1]  The report was met with various levels of skepticism.  It was announced not too long afterwards that another test would take place followed by publication of another report.

My last update on the E-cat was given here in Jan 2014.[2]   Shortly after that time it was announced that Industrial Heat had acquired rights to Andrea Rossi's work and hired Rossi to work with them in continuing the work on the e-cat.[3]  Since that time little new information has been available and e-cat followers have had to be satisfied with distractions by other developments while waiting for the second third party test report.  The wait ended today.

The third party test report is published here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8mt4mJOTGvBX1lIMU42UWxyeFk/view

The report is available elsewhere.  It has been submitted for publication from The Journal of Physics D.[4]

PART 1 - POWER IN VS POWER OUT

The first important part of the report is the measurement of power in versus power out.

The reactor was run from Feb 24 to Mar 29, 2014.  The reactor was run in continuously-powered mode.  This means that electrical power was continuously supplied to the reactor to heat the reactor via resistive heating.  The output of the reactor was in the form of heat which was measured and compared to the amount of electrical power used to heat the reactor.

The reactor was started up and run at two different power levels.  First it was run for 10 days with an input power of 800W +/- 10W.  Then it was run for 22 days at about 900W.  In the first case the reactor reached a temperature of about 1250 deg C.  Then in the second phase it reached 1400 deg C. The energy calculations made by the scientists can be summarized as follows (see Table 7 in the report for precise numbers):

Phase 1 (800W in):
Power In: 800W
Net Excess Out-In: 1660W
COP: Appx 3.2

Phase 2 (900 W in):
Power In: 900W
Net Excess Out-In: 2300W
COP: Appx 3.6

The amount of excess energy put out of the e-cat over 32 days using only 1 gram of fuel is remarkable.  It makes the energy density of the fuel 100 to 1000 times higher than a chemical fuel like gasoline.  On the other hand it is about 10 times less energy dense than U235 fuel used in a fission based nuclear reactor.  So it is not beyond all reason.



PART 2 - ANALYSIS OF THE REACTOR FUEL

The second important part of the test was the analysis of the content of the nickel based powder fuel inside the reactor.  The powder was analyzed before the test and after 32 days of running the reactor.

The important results from this part of the experiment comes from the change in the elements within the powder.  Two of the constituent elements are Nickel and Lithium.  The remarkable thing is that the isotope ratios of the Nickel and the Lithium changed dramatically during the experiment:

Original Fuel:

6Li 7 % and 7Li 93 %
58Ni (68.1%), 60Ni (26.2%), 61Ni (1.1%), 62Ni (3.6%), and 64Ni (0.9%)

Both of these represent normal ratios of isotopes found in nature.

Post Experiment Ash:
7Li was reduced to between 7.9% and 42.5% depending on the measurement method

58Ni (0.8.%), 60Ni (0.5%), 61Ni (0%), 62Ni (98.7%), 64Ni (0%) 

The conclusion from this data is that some form of nuclear reaction must be taking place which alters the ratio of the isotopes of Nickel and the isotopes of Lithium during operation of the e-cat.


PART 3 - RADIATION MEASUREMENTS

A specialist in radiation measurement looked for gamma, x-ray, and neutron radiation outside of the reactor before, during, and after the experiment.  Remarkably, no radiation of any of these types was measured by the various instruments used.

REPORT CONCLUSIONS

The report concludes:

In summary, the performance of the E-Cat reactor is remarkable. We have a device giving heat energy compatible with nuclear transformations, but it operates at low energy and gives neither nuclear radioactive waste nor emits radiation. From basic general knowledge in nuclear physics this should not be possible. Nevertheless we have to relate to the fact that the experimental results from our test show heat production beyond chemical burning, and that the E-Cat fuel undergoes nuclear transformations. It is certainly most unsatisfying that these results so far have no convincing theoretical explanation, but the experimental results cannot be dismissed or ignored just because of lack of theoretical understanding. Moreover, the E-Cat results are too conspicuous not to be followed up in detail.

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1. http://pane-of-science.blogspot.com/2013/05/3rd-party-scientific-report-on-hot-e.html

2. http://pane-of-science.blogspot.com/2014/01/ecat-12-jan-2014-e-cat-update.html

3. http://www.e-catworld.com/2014/01/24/press-release-industrial-heat-has-acquired-andrea-rossis-e-cat-technology/

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journal_of_Physics_D

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Climate Talk #13 - IPCC Quietly and only Implicitly Admits Models are Flawed, but the 'consensus' goes on

My last Climate Talk post (#12) was over a year ago from Dec 2012.[1]

That post was about the important note made by Anthony Watts on his blog that in the final draft of the IPCC AR5 report there was an important graph that showed directly how the academic / IPCC computer models were not in agreement with the global temperature anomaly data of the last 15 years.  But nothing in the report really commented on the obvious conclusion from the graph that they themselves had made.

Now that AR5 is public a very important needs to be made that the IPCC at the last moment changed the report in critical points such that without saying it explicitly, the IPCC has for all intents and purposes admitted that their computer models need to be adjusted to account for the last 15 years of data.

In summary, in 1988 James Hansen proclaimed and projected that the world average temperatures would warm 0.5 deg C per decade through 2050, implying 6 deg C warming by the end of the 21st century, if drastic action was not taken to change course.   That would be a significant change.  It is the goal to enact such drastic change to avoid the proposed disaster which launched the current global warming alarmism movement and encouraged it to take on such political / legal characteristics.

Over time the IPCC projections have continued to moderate this original projection.  In the next to the last version of the latest IPCC report, their projection had reduced to 0.13 to 0.33 deg C / decade.  This is consistent with their overall current models.  It should be noted this is only 26% to 66% of the warming originally projected by Hansen in 1988, which started the movement.  This

The big news is that in the final published report, the IPCC significantly lowered their projected warming to 0.10 to 0.23 deg C per decade out to 2050, implying  a warming of only 0.9 to 2.1 deg C by the year 2100 and only 20% to 46% of the original Hansen projection.

What is more important is that by giving such guidance they are not only lowering their guidance but they are implicitly saying that there is a major problem with their computer models in that the range currently given by them is wrong.  This can be seen in Figure 1 by noting that originally the last draft placed the projections basically in the middle of the range of model projections (the thick green arrow).  But now the official projection is at the very low end of the computer model projections.  This can be seen by comparing the length of the thick blue and thick purple lines on the far right of the graph.[2]



FIGURE 1: IPCC model variations  (range of red to green shading) and the IPCC formal projection in the next to last draft (the thick green arrow) versus their final projection (the red / black arrow).


The momentum of declining projections over time is shown by Christopher Monckton in a summary graph as follows:



This is objective fact of just noting projections by the IPCC itself.  Any self-critical scientific thinker would have to take a major pause when viewing that and ask what truly is the basis of the attempted political and legal activism of this movement when their own provided scientific data (the computer models) have been moving so significantly against their original thesis.

The answer is, IMO, this is a fundamental human individual behavior that one sees in all kinds of human activities.  It is group think.  The original idea was proposed, which is fine.  Data was provided to support the idea.  Research has been done to validate or invalidate, which is fine.  But in the meantime, as the original scientific thesis weakened, the political and social aspects of the movement have strengthened.  And at this time the movement is fueled primarily by the political and social aspects, not the scientific.

The scientific basis of the movement, their "95% accurate computer models" were just abandoned with minimum fanfare.  The scientific basis of the global warming movement took a major step backwards and without any explicit notice by the leadership.  In spite of the ever-claimed "consensus" the movement is now left with not much more than professional and political group think.  

But this is how these things happen among us humans.  The dynamic and polished leaders of a movement, who gather a following and then proclaim and enforce the orthodoxy, are the first to disbelieve and quietly intellectually abandon what they have created while letting the 'little people' go on believing the original crude version of the faith.  The institution must go on (surely for the greater good), even if its original justification has vanished.

Finally, the topic of global temperature variation and climate change is and will continue to be a valid one for scientific investigation.  It is still possible, even probable, that there is some climate sensitivity to CO2 produced by human fossil fuel activity.  But all indications are now, even by the IPCC's own implicit admission, that this sensitivity is significantly lower than has been assumed by various modelers over the last 2 decades.  In fact the very idea of a single numeric "sensitivity" could very well be a major over simplification as the global climate system is so complex with many great and small feedback systems, that the reduction of the matter to a computer program written by a grad student or two appears more and more on the face of it to be a very bold intellectual hubris.

See another summary of this topic by Barry Brill here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/09/the-ipcc-discards-its-models/

-------------------

1. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/01/ipcc-silently-slashes-its-global-warming-predictions-in-the-ar5-final-draft/

2.Monckton, Christopher. "IPCC Silently Slashes Its Global Warming Predictions in the AR5 Final Draft | Watts Up With That?" Watts Up With That. January 1, 2014. Accessed January 12, 2014. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/01/ipcc-silently-slashes-its-global-warming-predictions-in-the-ar5-final-draft/.  The graph has been slightly modified by me with new colors to make it easier to discuss.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Defkalion LENR / "Cold Fusion" Update - Jan 2014

In July 2013 I provided an update on Defkalion, a company formerly associated with Rossi.  See it here: http://pane-of-science.blogspot.com/2013/07/defkalion-lenr-demonstration-at-iccf-18.html  Defkalion had just done a live video cast of a demonstration of their LENR product under development at ICCF-18 at the University of Missouri.

They claimed their device would produce around 7 - 10 KW of power with a COP between 6 and 12 at a temperature around 600 deg C.  Their claim to fame over Rossi is that they control their reaction with a spark / plasma generation control system.  Thus they can start and stop their reaction instantly by flipping a switch.

After that time, as with most of the LENR / "Cold Fusion" related companies there was little news.

Now with the new year, Defkalion has announced the following items on their website [1]

They have completed the first phase of R&D for the basic reactor.
They are starting the final stage to prepare the pre-industrial Hyperion product
They have moved their Vancouver offices to another location in the same building

mdn

UPDATE: I updated this post by removing some content that was conflated with content intended for a different post updating activity with yet another LENR company: Brillouin Energy.  This was completely my fault but should be corrected above.  Thanks for the reader comment / feedback.

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1. http://defkalion-energy.com


ECAT #12: Jan 2014 E-Cat Update

Other than incidental related matters there has been little material news regarding the Rossi's E-Cat / HotCat device since the May of 2013 when the 3rd party report on the ECAT was published.  Other LENR related companies have had a few developments, some of which have been recounted here, but Rossi has been quiet for the most part.  And this continues to be the case, as least for official news items.  However, there have been a couple of important items that have developed right at the end of 2013 and into the early part of 2014 that are worthy of recounting.

1. CONTINUED 3RD PARTY AND INTERNAL E-CAT TESTING IN 2013

On the technical front Rossi maintained all the second half of 2013 that testing was continuing.  This related first to a new long 3rd party testing regiment that was kicked off late summer after the report that was published in May 2013.  This testing apparently continues, or perhaps, is recently completed.  Rossi has stated that the report from this testing may be published as soon as March 2014, but possibly later. [1]

2. CONTINUED TECHNICAL IMPROVEMENTS WITH THE HOT-CAT

The Hot-Cat is a 2nd generation of e-cat so to speak.  It's architecture includes a small internal "mouse" also called the "activator" which is a LENR device residing inside a larger "cat" LENR chamber also called the "energy catalyzer" by Rossi.  The mouse is controlled via an unidentified control system which requires external energy, probably electricity.  It generates more or less heat as desired which in turn is used to control the larger LENR cat device.

Rossi continues to work on the validation and improvement of the control of the Hot Cat.  He recently made the comment that at this time they are running extended tests of a Hot Cat running at 1000 degrees C.  The improvements they are testing include trying to raise the stable operational point of the Hot Cat as high as possible.[2]  Rossi indicates that they are running stably at this temperature.  These higher operating temperatures will enable the e-cat to operate much more efficiently in and of itself, that is, generate more and more energy out for a given amount of energy in.  But even more importantly, it will enable the use of the hot-cat to efficiently generate electricity either via super-heated steam or via other methods.  The use of a LENR device to usefully generate electricity is a very important long term goal.

3. RUN AWAY FAILURE TESTING

In addition, Rossi and his team are are performing "run away" destructive tests in order to observe various failure modes and check for any dangerous results. [3]  Rossi explains:

If we give too much energy to the reactor the temperature raises above the controllability limits and the reactor explodes. We must maintain the drive below this limit, and it is what we are learning to do, trying to reach a controllability level at the highest temperature possible, because the COP raises exponentially with the operation temperature. ...  If the Mouse excites the cat too much, the cat gets wild and explodes. We must not risk to reach this level. We have seen explode hunderds of reactors now, this way.[4]

This is no different than safety testing that would be done on any energy generation device.  But it is interesting.  In a post on his journal / blog Rossi described the failures quite vividly as follows:

During the destructive tests we arrived to reach temperatures in the range of 2,000 Celsius degrees, when the “mouse” excited too much the E-Cat, and it is gone out of control, in the sense that we have not been able to stop the raise of the temperature ( we arrived on purpose to that level, because we wanted to study this kind of situation). A nuclear Physicist, analysing the registration of the data, has calculated that the increase of temperature ( from 1000 Celsius to 2,000 Celsius in about 10 seconds), considering the surface that has increased of such temperature, has implied a power of 1 MW, while the Mouse had a mean power of 1.3 kW. Look at the photo you have given the link of, and imagine that the cylinder was cherry red, then in 10 seconds all the cylinder became white-blue, starting from the white dot, where is placed the charge, you see in the photo ( after 1 second) becoming totally white-blue in the following 9 seconds, and then an explosion and the ceramic inside ( which is a ceramic that melts at 2,000 Celsius) turned into a red, brilliant powder made of small stones, like rubys. When we opened the reactor, part of the AISI 310 SS steel was not molten, but sublimated and recondensed in form of microscopic drops of steel.

The photo Rossi references was published in this blog earlier here: http://pane-of-science.blogspot.com/2013/05/rossis-hot-cat-in-operation.html.  After such a failure apparently they must still "open" the reactor.  So what "explodes" is not the outer container which you see in the picture, but basically the internals of the container where ceramics and the steel have melted / exploded due to extreme heat generation.  Obviously Rossi and team have to make sure that such a run away condition can not happen on a commercial product.  But even the mere possibility of it is likely the root cause of great difficulty Rossi repeatedly mentions in regard to getting a certification to produce and sell these things for installation into homes.

Additional developments have come about in relation to whom Rossi is working for and with.  It appears that Rossi's funding partner has been identified through clever web investigative efforts.  I will leave that to the next post.

MDN

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1. This was stated by Rossi on his journal page but reported by E-Cat World on Dec 27. Acland, Frank. "Andrea Rossi Gives Year-End Update Reporting Important E-Cat Progress |." E-Cat World. December 27, 2013. Accessed January 04, 2014. http://www.e-catworld.com/2013/12/andrea-rossi-gives-year-end-update-reporting-important-progress/.

2. There are reasons to believe that 1000 deg C. to maybe 1200 deg C. would be as high as a LENR device could be expected to operate.  Nickel melts at 1455 deg C. for example.

3. The 1000 deg C test is mentioned in the article cited above.  Fortunately this should be more than enough to reach the primary goals of this technology.

4. Rossi, Andrea. "Theoretical Feasibility of Cold Fusion According to the BSM-Supergravitation Unified Theory." Journal of Nuclear Physics. December 27, 2013. Accessed January 04, 2014. http://www.journal-of-nuclear-physics.com/?p=833.

5. Rossi, Andrea. "Theoretical Feasibility of Cold Fusion According to the BSM-Supergravitation Unified Theory." Journal of Nuclear Physics RSS. December 28, 2013. Accessed January 04, 2014. http://www.journal-of-nuclear-physics.com/?p=833.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Comments: "Can We Finally Retire Scientific Superstition?"

Donald Devine recently published an article on the Library of Law and Liberty website titled: Can We Finally Retire Scientific Superstition?[1]  The article is not primarily about theories of origins of life, nor about economics and the financial crisis.  But it contains aspects of both of these along the way of making a larger point about a dominant natural philosophy of our day, Materialism, .

But the article is really about the nature of science itself.  I would (and have) generalize further and say the argument about the word "science" itself and the ways that its positive connotations in the minds of the population are appropriated and used (dare we say: "abused") by various interest groups who want to declare themselves the pure priesthood of a scientific discipline and ordain themselves to be the true scientific curia, the enlightened defenders of truth against all the ignorant hordes of those barbarians who dare disagree with them.

In 2007, I wrote several posts along these lines.[2]  Although these posts started specifically from the perspective of the topic of origins, the argument I made and based those posts on is very similar to Mr. Devine's article.

Essentially, we find it to be repeated human behavior that a theory is formulated, a group forms around the theory, and some proponents of the theory proceed to cloak the theory in the language of orthodoxy and proceed to use the forces of money, politics, and power to persecute opposing view points including threatening the livelihood of those who will not bow down in acquiescence.

Soon the theory becomes the basis for a new creed required to be cited in order to gain admittance to the holy priesthood of defenders of the latest truth, that is, the current pet theory of the power mongers.  Ultimately this basic human behavior is about power, money, control, and prestige.  Indeed, admitted or not, the mongers essentially want to become the gods of their own domain.

And it is an enormous irony that this very same base human behavior which motivated the power structure of the pope to fear and attempt to repress the emerging ideas of men like Galileo, is now used in precisely the same way in the name of protecting the latest intellectual school of thought which deludes itself into thinking it is as essential as science itself, for example: Darwinism, Climate Change, and the current school of economic thought, frequently labeled Keynesian, which now  appears to be transporting us surely towards a third major market / economic crisis in only the last 15 years.  It is also seen the establishment reaction to and denial of the idea of Cold Fusion or LENR, the persecution of the original scientists who announced the results of an experiment in 1989, and the use of professional ridicule and threats of career destruction to any who would entertain such a "stupid" idea.[3]

If we step back and observe the commonalities of these very disparate areas of intellectual activity we see in each a very dominate school of thought which propagates itself professionally by excluding different viewpoints from its profession.  And the professionals busy themselves with the details of investigating and applying the details of their philosophy all the while assuming its correctness, permitting no room for dissent on any point of any substance.  

This is especially demonstrated in several of these disciplines in a disturbing display of circular self-reference in the development and use of computer models to guide the application of the discipline.  These computer models are built with the all the assumptions of the orthodoxy of interest, and then lots of data is thrown into the machine and processed, and the results are touted as "truth", since after all, a computer produced the results.  And these results end up then "proving" the truth of the original assumptions themselves.  This is basic error is especially evident in the current intellectual regimes of economics and climate change.

Mr. Devine's argument makes mention of these things but primarily works with the idea of complexity and complex systems and the basic mistaken arrogant assumptions made by those who long for power and control that they alone actually especially understand such systems.  And on account of this special knowledge, they alone can wield mighty decisions that will lead to a promised land of desired results.[4]

Behind these common errors of different fields, Devine finds the common assumption of the natural philosophy of Materialism, which is in large part supported and defended from an assumption of the correctness of Darwin's description of origins of life.  Devine argues that the now revealed complexity of life and especially of the human mind defies the now ubiquitous Darwinian creed required by the establishment for issuance of a "Legitimate Scientist" badge.  And this main thrust of his article is sympathetic to and supportive of my earlier articles mentioned above.

In the end, all these instances of pseudo-orthodoxies within science have empowered a few individuals at the expense of lost or at least delayed benefit that these scientific would or could have brought to society if they had not lost themselves in a wild lust for the power and money that uniformity and political activeness brings.  Science, or the public's understanding of science, needs to remember (rediscover?) the fundamental importance of duplication by experiment and that a fundamental beauty of science is that it does not matter what your color or creed or gender or belief system is when you execute well designed experiments.  The result is the result nature itself gives in response to the experiment.  And nature, unlike many of us, is not a bigot.  All her laws and rules pertain to everyone equally.

Matt 5:45:
He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
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1.Devine, Donald. "Can We Finally Retire Scientific Superstition?" Online Library of Law and Liberty RSS. November 4, 2013. Accessed November 14, 2013. http://www.libertylawsite.org/2013/11/04/can-we-finally-retire-scientific-superstition/.

2. The series starts here: http://pane-of-science.blogspot.com/2012/11/origins-1-natural-philosophy-and-modern.html

3. The rhetoric of "stupid" is an indispensable tool for the those desiring to wield power and control.  The actual practice of such rhetoric is an interesting topic and one I will have to return to at some other time.

4. And of course this knowledge and power makes them especially worthy of ongoing impressive and ever increasing allotments of money, primarily public government money taken from tax payers, to achieve those results.