A very cool union of Astrophysics and Particle Physics


A new discovery by the IceCube is discussed in this

BBC link to the article in Nature

Besides being a very cool (pun intended) way of using the environment without misusing the environment (a big hunk of ice captures neutrinos) the discovery also raised new question about the origins of cosmic rays. To most astronomers, cosmic rays are a nuisance. They interfere with my data, creating spikes and tracks across images, which I then have to remove
(they also create hype in the UFO field as some people are determined to show these are evidence of alien spacecraft). Scientifically, it is vital to learn more about their origin as we worry about astronaut and satellite safety). These ‘little’ bursts of light may only last a few seconds but can do a lot of damage. In this article they show that the cosmic rays do not originate from gamma-ray bursts and hence most likely originate in supermassive black holes.

Of course there sample size is only 8, and possibly the neutrinos they fail to detect in these 8 events may be undetectable. But as it stands, this cool piece of particle physics is opening a new understanding of the streaks in my data.

The Sun and Global Warming

The Sun and Global Warming

Sun Earth

Sun Earth

So is the Sun’s cycle linked to global warming? The key line is this entire article is that “Milligan, like most scientists, enters many caveats and warns that specific weather predictions are very difficult to make and that this form of study is in its relative infancy”. We may have a tentative correlation, but what does a correlation tell us? It is well-known that the global temperature is inversely correlated to the number of pirates in the Sea (*) . But one does not cause the other, i.e, causality is missing. Causality differs from correlation in a key manner in that causality does not only say A is linked by B, by it predicts how much A will change if B changes. In this case we can model global temperature changes from the burning of fossil fuels and predict how much this temperature change will be. But when we try to model the link to solar changes it turns out to be very small, if it exists at all. Correlation without causality will disappear when faced with lots of data.

(*) In this case, the causality is the rise of the global population and technology. As our society is now larger and more advanced than the 19th century, we no longer do everything by sea and so the number of pirates has plummeted. As our society is now larger and more advanced than the 19th century, we burn more fossil fuels and hence global temperatures has risen. Hence the correlation occurs through a common causal mechanism.

The Philosophy of Science

This is an old video, but it does a pretty good job.

So, when did philosophy break away from Science? What makes them so different today? Or are they still the same. To me, they both deal with the same basic short question – “Why?” The difference is that as scientists we think we can answer this question with observations and experiments. But philosophers see this approach of depending on observables as a little vulgar. Instead the answer comes from within.