“No, you mustn’t say what it means!”


Climate Change: News and Comments

CERN chief forbids “interpretation” of CLOUD results

Although still very busy with other work, I keep looking out for results from the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva, which is testing Henrik Svensmark’s hypothesis that cosmic rays help to make clouds. They are due for publication this summer. All I have just now is a startling remark by Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN, in an interview by Welt Online a few days ago.

Here is a tidied-up Google Translate version of the relevant exchange.

Welt Online: The results of the so-called CLOUD experiment, exploring the formation of clouds, are awaited with great excitement. Could these results still be important for understanding global climate change?
Heuer: This is indeed a matter of understanding better the formation of clouds. In nature there are many parameters at work – including temperature, humidity, impurities and also cosmic radiation. In the experiment, CLOUD investigates the influence of cosmic rays on cloud formation, using radiation [meaning particles] coming from the accelerator. And in an experimental chamber one can study, under controlled conditions, how the formation of droplets depends on the radiation and particulate matter. The results will be published shortly. I have asked the colleagues to present the results clearly, but not to interpret them. That would go immediately into the highly political arena of the climate change debate. One has to make clear that cosmic radiation is only one of many parameters.

Four quick inferences:

1) The results must be favourable for Svensmark or there would be no such anxiety about them.

2) CERN has joined a long line of lesser institutions obliged to remain politically correct about the man-made global warming hypothesis. It’s OK to enter “the highly political arena of the climate change debate” provided your results endorse man-made warming, but not if they support Svensmark’s heresy that the Sun alters the climate by influencing the cosmic ray influx and cloud formation.

3) The once illustrious CERN laboratory ceases to be a truly scientific institute when its Director General forbids its physicists and visiting experimenters to draw the obvious scientific conclusions from their results.

4) The resulting publication may be rather boring.

The interview with Welt Online (in German) is here:


For earlier posts on this blog about “waiting for CERN” see:



UPDATE 23 July:  see this Higgs story from the Institute of Physics. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/46636

Yes, as we always knew, everyone is free to say what particle physics results at CERN seem to mean, even when they’re far from conclusive. If the Director General’s edict about CLOUD results were followed in this case, they’d have to say, “We must make clear that the Higgs boson is only one of many possible particles in the Universe so please don’t take these indications seriously.”

Roll up, roll up, for the paradigm shift


Climate Change News and Comments

The dawn of the cosmic ray era in climate science?

Roy Spencer, formerly of NASA, is an outstanding investigator of climate change using satellites. Yesterday he posted on his website this article about cosmic rays: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2011/05/indirect-solar-forcing-of-climate-by-galactic-cosmic-rays-an-observational-estimate/ It starts:

“While I have been skeptical of Svensmark’s cosmic ray theory up until now, it looks like the evidence is becoming too strong for me to ignore.” And he concludes:

“The results, I must admit, are enough for me to now place at least one foot solidly in the cosmic ray theory camp.”

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, nor one Spencer a scientific revolution. But as I recall real revolutions during my lifetime as a science reporter – black holes, plate tectonics, etc, etc. — I recognise this as a sample of what a paradigm shift looks like. One by one, prominent experts and daring young researchers begin to join a new club. At first they’re counted on fingers, but eventually by faculties.

Consensus” is a dirty word for climate sceptics, because of its misuse for 20 years by warmist scientists and their political and journalistic chums to try to stifle research and public debate. In that regard, the lack of agreement among sceptical physicists about what’s really going on has been virtuous. But the time for free-ranging and competitive hypotheses about natural climate change is drawing to an end. Some widely accepted theory of the mechanisms has to replace the computer games of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Since Henrik Svensmark explained his hypothesis concerning cosmic rays and clouds, over a lunch of marinated herrings and lager in Copenhagen in 1996, I’ve written two books about it and helped Lars Oxfeldt Mortensen with TV films featuring Henrik. But the three of us have now waited 15 years for some kind of denouement. Ten to twenty years is a typical timescale for a paradigm shift, so maybe Henrik’s breakthrough is coming at last.

Accelerator results on cloud nucleation (2)


Climate Change News and Comments

Did you get the message?

I’m not sure that the significance of my 15 May post, about the accelerator experiment in Aarhus, has been fully grasped. Following my 13 May post, the blogosphere seems to be still in a “waiting for CLOUD” mode. Yes, it will indeed be fascinating to see the first results from CERN’s CLOUD experiment in two or three months’ time, but meanwhile we have the results from Denmark. Perhaps I was negligent in not giving a little history.

The first laboratory test of the Svensmark hypothesis was the SKY experiment in Copenhagen, the outcome of which was published by the Royal Society of London in 2007. The positive results were of course politically incorrect, because Henrik Svensmark’s discovery of the effect of cosmic rays on clouds gave the Sun a much larger role in climate change than supporters of the man-made global warming hypothesis would like to admit.

The warmists were offered a delaying tactic by physicists who said, “Ah, but the SKY people used only natural cosmic rays and radioactive sources. Don’t believe them unless the CLOUD experiment in Geneva, simulating the cosmic rays with a fully controllable beam of accelerated particles, gets similar results.”

Conveniently for the warmists, CLOUD was very slow to get going. Meanwhile the Danes continued with their own experiments, including the one using an accelerator at Aarhus, as reported in Geophysical Research Letters a few days ago. The most important points are:

  • The effect of cosmic rays in helping to seed cloud formation is verified with a particle accelerator, just as critics of SKY were demanding four years ago.
  • A simple radioactive gamma-ray source gave just the same results in the Aarhus set-up so the earlier insistence, that only an accelerator experiment would do, was unwarranted.

Nevertheless, let’s say good luck to the CLOUD team. Their big chamber should be able to trace the growth of aerosol seeds much farther than in the small chamber used at Aarhus. And they have a large programme of future work, simulating atmospheric conditions at different altitudes.

See the Aarhus University press release that came out yesterday evening: http://science.au.dk/en/news-and-events/news-article/artikel/forskere-fra-au-og-dtu-viser-at-partikler-fra-rummet-skaber-skydaekke/

For references and other links, see my previous post: https://calderup.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/accelerator-results-on-cloud-nucleation/

For a video interview with Jasper Kirkby of CLOUD see: http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/multimedia/45950

Added 18 May: Ah, now the word is spreading. See

Anthony Watts: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/17/new-study-links-cosmic-rays-to-aerosolscloud-formation-via-solar-magnetic-activity-modulation/

David Whitehouse: http://thegwpf.org/the-observatory/3016-new-evidence-that-cosmic-rays-seed-clouds.html

The second item quotes me directly, and at the end of the second paragraph I should really have said ionizing “gamma rays” instead of “particles” — I amended it on this blog a few hours after posting it.

Added 20 May: Friendly words from The Scientific Alliance


Accelerator results on cloud nucleation


Aarhus beats Geneva

Climate Change News and Comments

 While the world waits for the report due soon from the CLOUD experiment at CERN in Geneva, as noted in my previous post, a team working in Denmark has published the results of a cheaper and quicker experiment done last year with a particle accelerator at the University of Aarhus. They fully confirm the support for the Svensmark hypothesis (that cosmic rays help to make clouds) which came from earlier Danish experiments using natural cosmic rays and radioactive sources of ionizing gamma rays.

The paper, published on 12 May 2011, is by M.B. Enghoff, J. O. Pepke Pedersen, U. I. Uggerhøj, S. M. Paling, and H. Svensmark, “Aerosol nucleation induced by a high energy particle beam,” Geophysical Research Letters, 38, L09805, doi:10.1029/2011GL047036.

The abstract is available here: http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2011GL047036.shtml

Press releases from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the University of Aarhus are expected very soon and will be added here when available in English.

(Added 17 May) Aarhus press release in English: http://science.au.dk/en/news-and-events/news-article/artikel/forskere-fra-au-og-dtu-viser-at-partikler-fra-rummet-skaber-skydaekke/

In Danish see, from DTU: http://science.au.dk/nyheder-og-arrangementer/nyhed/artikel/forskere-fra-au-og-dtu-viser-at-partikler-fra-rummet-skaber-skydaekke/ and from Aarhus: http://science.au.dk/nyheder-og-arrangementer/nyhed/artikel/forskere-fra-au-og-dtu-viser-at-partikler-fra-rummet-skaber-skydaekke/

Meanwhile, the following article in English is on the website of the Institute of Physics (London): http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/45982

Briefly, some news


Climate Change News and Comments and a pending update for Einstein’s Universe and Magic Universe

After a New Year deadline evolved into urgent  recycling,  I’ve been blogless much longer than I had hoped. But now  I interrupt my silence to draw attention to three current items of news,  for more detailed attention later.

1. CERN’s CLOUD experiment (testing Svensmarks’s cosmic-ray theory) shows a large enhancement of aerosol production and the  results are due for release in 2 or 3 months’ time. See this Physics World interview with Jasper Kirkby, who is kind enough to recall a lecture I gave at CERN in 1997 outlining the Svensmark hypothesis. http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/multimedia/45950

2. Cambridge Conference on climate science and economic on 10 May 2011, where Svensmark’s contribution was well received. It’s also worth following the link in this report to the cartoons.  http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100087415/climate-change-an-emetic-fallacy/

3. Satellite test of General Relativity bears fruit after many, many years. http://einstein.stanford.edu/highlights/status1.html

Hal Lewis quits APS


Climate Change – News & Comments

Prof. Hal Lewis resigns from the American Physical Society

Going along with Anthony Watts’ suggestion that this should be posted on every science blog, I have merely added a photo,  some emphasis, and some bulleting.

From: Hal Lewis, University of California, Santa Barbara

To: Curtis G. Callan, Jr., Princeton University, President of the American Physical Society

6 October 2010

Dear Curt:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago).

Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

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Sun cools? How daft!


Climate Change – News and Comments

An active Sun cools the world? How daft!

Valiant efforts of British physicists to deny that the Sun is important in climate change have always been good for a laugh. Names like Mike Lockwood and Arnold Wolfendale spring to mind. But with what she’s published in today’s Nature a professor at Imperial College London, Joanna Haigh, wins the my Gag of the Year prize.

The 200-year-old problem for solar-terrestrial physicists is to explain why the historical record shows strong and persistent links between solar activity and climate change over decades, centuries and millennia. Variations in visible light won’t do the job. The only mechanism powerful enough is Svensmark’s hypothesis about cosmic rays governing low cloud cover – see https://calderup.wordpress.com/category/3b-the-svensmark-hypothesis/ .

Haigh has never gone along with Svensmark, preferring instead to focus on ultraviolet light from the Sun, which does vary more than the visible light, and generally to minimize solar effects on climate. But in her new paper she offers to tear everything up and scatter it to the wind, because a satellite measured an increase in the intensity of visible light between 2004 and 2007, when solar activity was in decline. From the paper:

Daily measurements of the solar spectrum between 0.2 mm and 2.4 mm, made by the Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SIM) instrument on the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE) satellite3 since April 2004, have revealed that over this declining phase of the solar cycle there was a four to six times larger decline in ultraviolet than would have been predicted on the basis of our previous understanding. This reduction was partially compensated in the total solar output by an increase in radiation at visible wavelengths.

As summarized in an ICL press release:

The researchers used satellite data and computer modelling to analyse how the spectrum of radiation and the amount of energy from the Sun has been changing since 2004. Instruments on the SORCE satellite have been measuring the Sun’s energy output at many different wavelengths. The researchers fed the data from SORCE into an existing computer model of the Earth’s atmosphere and compared their results with the results obtained using earlier, less comprehensive, data on the solar spectrum.

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Guided hurricanes


Predictions revisited and Climate Change: News and Comments

Guided hurricanes

When speculating four decades ago about the military uses of geophysics, Gordon J.F. MacDonald of UCLA contemplated the triggering of earthquakes or tsunamis, or melting polar ice with nuclear weapons. And he didn’t overlook the idea of steering hurricanes to ravage the enemy’s coasts. Reminding me of that prediction is a report now in press in Geophysical Research Letters, about how natural variations in the colour of the sea help to guide cyclones in the Pacific. A cyclone, remember, is a loosely used generic term that includes the major storms called hurricanes (Atlantic), typhoons (Pacific) or tropical cyclones (Indian Ocean and Australia).

Contributing to Unless Peace Comes, (1968), in a chapter entitled “How to Wreck the Environment”, MacDonald wrote:

… preliminary experiments have been carried out on the seeding of hurricanes. The dynamics of hurricanes and the mechanism by which energy is transferred from the ocean into the atmosphere supporting the hurricane are poorly understood. Yet various schemes for both dissipation and steering can be imagined. Although hurricanes originate in tropical regions, they can travel into temperate latitudes, as the residents of New England know only too well. A controlled hurricane could be used as a weapon to terrorize opponents over substantial parts of the populated world.

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Greenland bedrock


Pick of the Pics and Climate Change: News and Comments

A drill reaches bedrock under the Greenland Ice Sheet

Dorthe Dahl-Jensen of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen holds up in triumph the last ice core drilled to a depth of 2537.36 metres at the deep drilling site NEEM on the Greenland Ice Sheet. The core contains rocky debris from a land surface corresponding with the Eemian interglacial period, which was warmer than now about 120,000 years ago. Clues in the ice and the bedrock are expected to give new information about climate change during that warm time, the extent of the residual ice sheet, and in the onset of cold conditions that led to the growth of the present ice sheet. The bedrock material may also include traces of much older life and associated climatic events. Credit: NEEM

Bedrock was reached on 27July, but in company with the American media I’ve just caught up with the news today. Under Danish-US leadership, the North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling project, NEEM, has kept 300 scientists from 14 countries busy over the past five years. The drilling itself started in June 2009 and proceeded rapidly to its conclusion. It’s striking that they know the depth to within a centimetre.

The first results may be published later this year. Meanwhile you can see more pictures and information at http://neem.nbi.ku.dk/

Monsoon 2010


Climate change: News and Comments

Floods in Pakistan, Relief in India

Harrowing news of lives lost in unusual monsoon floods in NW Pakistan, close to the Afghan border, doesn’t mean that this year’s rains have been exceptional across the subcontinent. On the contrary, the Indians were worried by a shortfall in early July.Their rains have now perked up.

Strong La Niña conditions (the opposite of El Niño) now showing in the Pacific are historically favourable for the Asian monsoon, and the India Meteorological Department seems to be sticking to an earlier forecast that this season’s total rains will be close to normal. See this Reuters interview with D. Sivananda Pai, director of the National Climate Center in Pune. http://in.reuters.com/article/idINSGE66K0IL20100721?loomia_ow=t0:s0:a54:g12:r3:c0.638402:b36099434:z3

For earlier posts here about the Asian monsoons, see https://calderup.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/monsoons-and-the-sun/ and https://calderup.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/maps-of-monsoon-history/