Cosmology Faces More Chaos

first_imgMost of us have experience with orderly things going to chaos: an unkept room, the garden, our list of things to do.  We all work hard to overcome that universal tendency.  Clara Moskowitz reported on two cosmologists who think the universe went the other way.  She wrote in, “The universe was in chaos after the Big Bang kick-started the cosmos, a new study suggests.”  That means that all the order we see came out of chaos.    It’s probably not a surprise to think that a colossal explosion like a big bang would be pretty chaotic, but actually, cosmologists have worried about the “entropy problem” for a long time.  Entropy is a measure of the disorder of a system.  For our universe to have the low entropy it has now (organized into stars, galaxies, and planets), it would have had to have incredibly low entropy at the start – where incredibly low means unfathomably low.  Can Adilson Motter (Northwestern U) and Katrin Gelfert (Federal U, Rio de Janeiro) really propose chaos after the big bang?    The article tries to explain that they are defining chaos differently than lay people do in common experience – “small changes can cause large-scale effects.”  Yet in chaos theory, one cannot predict what will happen – and getting a highly ordered system as a result would seem most improbable.  After all, “our universe is no longer chaotic” according to the article.  But then the article speculates that the universe could return to chaos in a big crunch – a big bang in reverse.  Most cosmologists and astronomers think that the acceleration of the universe rules out such a possibility.  It doesn’t help explain the order we see now, anyway.    Suffice it to say, that before one can believe their ideas about the origin and fate of the universe, one should take to heart a disclaimer by Moskowitz, “This period of the early universe is not well understood.”    According to New Scientist in its “Cosmic Accidents” series, the big bang was all a – well, a cosmic accident.  Believe it or not, “most physicists regard the quantum fluctuations that created it as having no cause at all,” Stephen Battersby wrote.  “Of all happy accidents, this one might be the most accidental.”  As to the low-entropy whatever before the bang, he admitted, “What cosmic coincidences preceded our universe’s birth are in the realms of speculation.”Good grief; Moskowitz titled her display of nonsense, “After Big Bang Came Moment of Pure Chaos, Study Finds.”  It found nothing of the sort.  It found nothing, only sordid hubris pretending to be science.  Be sure to read the 10/03/2010 commentary as a preface to this one.  Since Battersby and Moskowitz, Motter and Gelfert have surrendered all credibility and lowered themselves to shaman status, their speculations can be safely disregarded as no better than anyone else’s, and decidedly worse.  For they present themselves as scientists – you know, those who know.    If you’re thinking, “Well, the Bible states that things started without form and void, and that sounds like chaos,” consider that chaos can be molded by intelligent design.  The creation account is top-down, like a potter taking a formless mass of clay and designing art or dishware out of it.  Take the secularist, materialist, evolutionary bottom-up approach on clay without a potter, and try getting the palace of Louis XIV out of it, all orderly and furnished to the hilt.  That would be far more credible than getting our universe out of impersonal chaos.    Not only that, the materialist has to account for the origin of the clay out of hydrogen, and the hydrogen out the chaos, and the chaos out of some undefined, unobservable, fantastically-low entropy nothingness that is “not well understood” and “in the realms of speculation.”  It’s all speculation.  None of it is well understood.  Genesis 1:1 sounds downright scientific by comparison.Suggested Reading:  For a scholarly introduction to some of the problems with modern cosmological speculations, read “Was there a big bang?” by David Berlinski (1998), posted at the Discovery Institute.  Other apropos essays in his book The Deniable Darwin and Other Essays (Discovery Institute, 2009) include “God, Man, and Physics” (2002) and “The State of the Matter” (2009).  These penetrating essays will not convince someone of God, since Berlinski is a non-practicing Jew, but his deftness at exposing the pretensions of the self-acclaimed wise will surely confront the reader with the deep and enduring problems of trying to bring a universe into existence without Him.(Visited 24 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Backsberg’s ‘green’ wine

first_imgThe first step in Backsberg’s green wineinitiative was a carbon audit, whichassessed the amount of CO2 producedfrom all winery activities, from vineyardto bottle. Michael Back, proprietor of BacksbergWine Cellars and environment nut. Vineyard planting systems have beenadapted to reduce the number of woodenpoles needed. A selection of carbon-neutral Backsbergwines.(Images: Backsberg)Susan de BruinRed or white wine? At South Africa’s Backsberg Wine Cellars there’s another choice: green. That’s because Backsberg has become one of only five wine producers in the world making carbon-neutral wines.Carbon neutrality means all the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere in the wine-making process is balanced by planting trees to absorb the equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. The other four carbon-neutral estates are Grove Mill Winery in New Zealand, Parducci Winery in California, ConoSur in Chile and Elderton Wines in Australia.Backsberg, which lies between Paarl and Stellenbosch in the Western Cape, is owned by Michael Back. Known as something of an “environment nut” on the estate, Back began his green wine initiative in 2004.“Care for the environment means care and concern for succeeding generations,” he says. “As custodians of the land, it is our duty to understand and recognise potential threats, and to mitigate against them for the benefit of the next generation.”The first step was a carbon audit, to assess the amount of CO2 produced from all winery activities, from vineyard to bottle – its “carbon footprint”.A carbon technician measured everything from electricity and fuel consumption to grape fermentation and transport of wine bottles to local and international destinations. Each activity was then calculated to produce a specific amount of CO2. The entire process followed the strict guidelines set out by the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission.From the audit results, the carbon technician calculated the number of trees that should be planted every year to absorb the same amount of CO2 Backsberg produced in that year. This is known as “offsetting”.Backsberg then enlisted the help of South African non-profit organisation Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA). In 2006 FTFA was honoured with the Chevron Conservation Award in California for improving the quality of life for disadvantaged South Africans by planting 2.5-million trees.FTFA and the estate began a village greening programme in nearby Klapmust, an impoverished village that is home to the surrounding wine farms’ seasonal workers. The Klapmust community took the more than 900 trees on a voluntary basis, trees the estate continually monitors to ensure they remain alive and continue to keep Backsberg’s carbon offset in balance. On the estate itself, 3 442 additional trees have been planted over the last 10 years.All these trees finally won Backsberg classification as a Carbon Neutral Estate in 2006, with the right to display the “Carbon Neutral Approved” logo on its bottles. To keep its classification, Backsberg is required to submit a carbon audit every year.Package of green ideasBut Back wanted to do more than simply get a logo on his bottles. A committed environmentalist, he was determined to reduce the estate’s carbon footprint as much as possible. The estate now employs a fulltime environmental consultant to look at all aspects of the business and assess how they could be done in a more environment-friendly way.The estate now has a package of creative green ideas. All farm vehicles and tractors are run on biofuels made from recycled vegetable oil, and the large fuel-guzzling tractors have been traded for smaller ones. The estate now generates its own energy from solar power, and is looking at wind power. Energy demand has been reduced by implementing timers, low-energy bulbs and skylights.The old hot-water “donkey” system, last used over a half a century ago, has been reintroduced, using waste wood to heat the water for washing barrels. Vineyard planting systems have been adapted to reduce the number of wooden poles needed.Back has also reserved 10% of the estate for conservation of the natural habitat, some 40 hectares of Swartland alluvium fynbos. This delicate fynbos environment, one of only a few left in the area, will never be cultivated, even though it might hold soils suitable for more vines.Good economic senseBacksberg remains the only carbon-neutral wine producer in South Africa. But according to John Spiers, chief executive of the estate, other South African winemakers are increasingly interested in environment-friendly production. He said Backsberg’s green initiatives were fairly inexpensive, and will save money in the long term. “It makes good economic sense if you look at where the fuel and energy prices are going,” he says.More than this, Backsberg exports 35% to 40% of its wine to the US, UK and Europe. Recent market feedback from Wines of South Africa (Wosa), which markets South African wine internationally, indicated that the British, American and especially the German markets seek environmentally responsible products. “These three destinations want products that are not only linked to social issues, but also environmentally responsible,” says Andre Morgenthal, Wosa communications manager.Spiers believes it is still early days for the carbon neutral logo to play a deciding role in the minds of the international consumer. But he adds: “In future it will become very important, and then we will definitely benefit from it.”Useful linksBacksberg Wine CellarsFood and Trees for AfricaWines of South Africalast_img read more

SA ranked 5th in Africa for governance

first_img12 October 2011 South Africa is ranked fifth out of 53 African countries in the 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, sustaining its top five ranking for the third year running, behind Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana and Seychelles. The country maintained its scores on three of the index’s main groupings, holding steady at 3rd for participation and human rights, and 7th for both sustainable economic opportunity and safety and rule of law. However, it slipped from 5th to 8th place for human development. Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola welcomed the results, which were released on Monday, saying in a statement: “Steady as she goes, is one’s first impression of this vital index’s ranking of South Africa’s performance. This is an important message in the light of such turbulence in the world.” Matola said it was encouraging to see African leaders being recognised for their effort in reshaping the reputations and governance infrastructure of their countries and, in consequence, the reputation of brand Africa.2011 Ibrahim Prize winner Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Pires, winner of the 2011 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, was honoured for his human rights record and governance achievements, including increasing the island’s prosperity while making it stable and democratic – and for refusing to stand for president for a third term. “Honouring President Pires underscores a vital fact – that there is a strong correlation between countries that have positive reputations and those that are globally competitive,” Matola said. The Ibrahim leadership prize as well as the country rankings are an important backdrop against which the continent’s progress – and that of individual countries – can be measured.Economic growth ‘must benefit citizens’ One of the major trends is the evident economic growth across Africa, although this had to be viewed against “the stagnation, and in many cases the reversal, in the rule of law and citizens’ rights”, said Mo Ibrahim, the foundation’s founder and chair. “We sounded alarm bells last year concerning this issue. If economic progress is not translated into better quality of life and respect for citizens’ rights, we will witness more Tahrir Squares in Africa.” Established in 2007, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation gathered a comprehensive collection of quantitative data, making an annual assessment of governance performance in every African country possible. The Ibrahim Index is currently compiled in partnership with an advisory council and a technical committee that include experts from a range of African institutions. It also works with Afrobarometer and Global Integrity South Africa, aiming to provide a framework for citizens, public authorities and partners to assess progress in governance on the continent. SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Connecting farmers and consumers with country music

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The best compliment I can receive is when someone tells me that they can see that I have a passion for what I do through my work. Nothing could be truer. I wake every morning chomping at the bit to head to a farm for a “Cab Cam” video or call up an agronomist to get an update on crops or meet the young superstars of Ohio agriculture at livestock shows.10 years ago when I was a country music DJ in Columbus, if you would have told me that I would be back doing the type of radio that I started doing when I was 17 as a farm broadcaster, I would have told you that you were crazy. But, here I am and I couldn’t be happier.Do I miss my days on country radio? Not as much as you might think. Sure I love country music and meeting the stars and getting free concert tickets was pretty alright, but I wouldn’t trade all that stuff for what I am doing now. Not for a second.A few years ago at the St. Louis airport, the owner of the Ohio Ag Net and I were talking about my old radio days and my experience of almost 15 years of playing Toby Keith, George Strait, Martina McBride and others. I’m pretty sure that I jumped out of my chair a little bit when I had a thought about a project that would intertwine my two career passions.That is when the idea of Farm & Country Radio came to be. A weekly show that I would put together to highlight country music and the country life. After over a year of good ideas and some bad ones, the first weekly, one hour show debuted in April of 2015. Recently, the 71st episode was sent out to affiliate radio stations from Tennessee, to southern Minnesota and all states in between.The response has been humbling and it has made producing over 70  shows feel like I am still just getting started and hope that I am.Farm & Country Radio is a vessel that I use to do something that is becoming more and more important as farmers continue to reach out to those that enjoy the fruits of farm labor. I have had farmers on from just about every state, including the world record pumpkin growers from New Jersey and a teenager from Alabama who just struck a business deal with his grandpa to raise bison. These “Featured Farmers” share the stories behind their farms, the work that is currently being done and their hopes and dreams for the years to come. It doesn’t get any more real than that.You don’t have to search very far to find farmers that have intriguing stories to tell. Some have raced dragsters to multiple championships, some have donated their entire produce crop to the local school’s food pantry and others have helped veterans returning home start career transitions from the battlefield to the corn field. Those stories are what make farmers a little more like ordinary people. That is when real conversations about farming and food can begin.Find out more about Farm & Country Radio and how you can listen to the show on one of our affiliate radio stations at (and be sure to like us on Facebook too). Thank you for allowing me to be a representative of an industry that I admire so much. I truly enjoy it.last_img read more