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More press release journalism,
this time about sunspots

Did you hear the news? Scientists have solved the mystery of the missing sunspots!

You didn’t? Well, here’s some headlines and stories that surely prove it:

The trouble is that every one of these headlines is 100 percent wrong. The research, based on computer models, only found that when the plasma flow from the equator to the poles beneath the Sun’s surface slows down, the number of sunspots declines.

Unfortunately, no one knows why the speed in this meridional flow changes. As the article above admitted, “It remains uncertain what induced these meridional flows to change speeds that caused the sunspot drought.”

Moreover, there remains significant disagreement among solar scientists about the conclusions of this research. Back about five years ago, when the last solar maximum was ramping down, other researchers measured the meridional flow and found it to be faster than expected, In fact, their data was exactly the opposite of what the above computer model predicted they should find. These scientists then predicted — using the actual data — that the next solar maximum would be short, and that the next maximum would be very active and violent. Unfortunately for them, their predictions turned out wrong. However, their data is correct, which raises significant questions about the model itself.

Thus, any journalist who claims that this research has “solved” the mystery of the missing sunspots is writing total bunkum.

If you look at the list of articles above closely, you will note that the first four are by journalists, while the last three are press releases from the various research organizations that did the research. Though it makes perfect sense for the press releases to tout and oversell the results of their researchers, it is quite sad that four major news organizations were so willing to accept these claims, without question. (In fairness to Wired, its headline at least framed the story in a more skeptical manner, and the article itself actually gave considerable room to the questions and doubts that still remain.)

Only one article published in response to the above press releases captured the real story behind the press releases, and that article was written by Ron Cowan at Science News: Sun’s doldrums likely to last. Cowan’s article not only focused properly on the disagreements between scientists over these most recent results, he also noted that despite these disagreements the scientists all generally believe that the next solar maximum will be very weak, possibly the weakest in centuries.

And that is really the heart of the matter, as a weak maximum probably means a dimmer Sun, which for us here on Earth could mean colder weather.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • A few things i have observed in terms of personal computer memory is that often there are specifications such as SDRAM, DDR and so forth, that must fit in with the requirements of the motherboard. If the pc’s motherboard is very current and there are no computer OS issues, replacing the ram literally usually takes under an hour or so. It’s on the list of easiest computer system upgrade treatments one can consider. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

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