Euthanizing Overholt et al.: How bad can a bad paper be?

Last month I visited the U of Washington to give a talk in which I discussed the effects of cosmic rays on climate. At the end of it, not one, but two people independently asked me about Overholt et al., which supposedly ruled out the idea that passages through the galactic spiral arms affect the appearance of glaciations on Earth. I told them that the paper had really stupid mistakes and it should be discarded in the waste bin of history, but given that Overholt et al. is still considered at all, I have no choice but to more openly euthanize it.

Bits of Science / Roundup #1

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Aurorae on Ganymede
Since I look for interesting science bits (mostly astro bits) for the Monday coffee of our astrophysics group, I realized that I could share it with the readers including some interpretation (and hopefully some added value) by your humble servant. So, here’s my try. If it works (and won’t be too much time) I’ll continue! Although for the coffee I bring mostly astrophysics and some planetary science, here I’ll also try to bring interesting results in climate (those that aren't lame...).

Sights from a Field Trip in the Milky Way: From Paleoclimatology to Dark Matter

32 million year oscillation in the paleoclimate data
I was recently asked to write an article to “The Institute Letter” of Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where I am spending a wonderful sabbatical year. It briefly describes a very interesting discovery that my colleagues and I made, which is that the 32 million year oscillation of the solar system perpendicular to the galactic plane can clearly be seen in the paleoclimate data. In the article, I also discuss how the discovery came and some of its implications. I am bringing a slightly expanded version here (with more figures and elaborated caption), and references of course. Enjoy.

Predicting a supernova precursor (on SN2010mc)

A very interesting paper recently appeared in nature. It describes the detection of a precursor eruption of a supernova progenitor more than a month before the supernova explosion itself. It is particularly interesting because this detection was not serendipitous—it was based on my prediction.

The CLOUD is clearing

The CLOUD collaboration from CERN finally had their results published in nature, showing that ionization increases the nucleation rate of condensation nuclei. The results are very beautiful and they demonstrate, yet again, how cosmic rays (which govern the amount of atmospheric ionization) can in principle have an affect on climate.

A Nice Black Hole Merger Simulation

I recently stumbled upon a nice black hole merger simulation.
Since it is not in my habit of just regurgitating stuff I see on the internet, here is my added value. How can one estimate the quadrupole gravitational radiation of a binary? How close does the binary have to be for it to coalesce within the age of the universe?

Earth's magnetic field protecting us from deadly radiation - A common misconception

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From time to time, I hear the statement that Earth's magnetic field is important because it protects earth from "deadly" radiation, and that when the magnetic field will reverse, this lethal radiation will be... very bad. One such example is this promo for a NOVA program called "magnetic storm". Well, I have news. Nothing really bad will happen to us!

No life on Earth either!

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After finding out that Earth is not a planet (it didn't clear out its orbit...), I now learned that Earth's doesn't have life on it. Sounds strange? Well, Navarro-González et la., in a recent paper that appeared in PNAS, showed that the same tests used on the Viking program and that came out negative for life on Mars, showed negative results also in ...

"SKY" experiment demonstrates link between cosmic rays and condensation nuclei!

After a long embargo, results from the Danish National Space Center (DNSC) Sky experiment were finally published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The results demonstrate a clear link between cosmic ray induced atmospheric ionization and the formation of condensation nuclei, thus strengthening the claims that cosmic rays affect cloud cover and climate (and consequently implying that a large fraction of 20th century global warming should be attributed to the increased solar activity).

Comments on nature's "A cosmic connection"

Last week, a report by Jeff Kanipe appeared in nature. In it, Kanipe explains the solar → cosmic-ray → climate connection, and the planned CLOUD experiment in CERN, expected to finally resolve the issue. Given that my work is mentioned in the review, I through I should mention a few relevant points.

The Critique of Knud Jahnke and a New Meteor Exposure Age Analysis

General Remarks

The manuscript submitted by Jahnke is an attempt to repeat analyses previously carried by myself (Shaviv PRL, 2002, New Astronomy, 2003). Although Jahnke raises a few interesting aspects, his analysis excludes several critical problems, because of which he obtains his negative result, that is, that there is no statistically significant periodicity in the data. By far, the most notable problem is that Jahnke's analysis does not consider the measurement errors. In his analysis, poorly dated meteorites were given the same weight as those with better exposure age determinations. As I show below, this has a grave effect on the signal to noise ratio (S/N) and consequently, on the statistical significance of any result.





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