Photography Contest XIV coming up

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Box camera
BOX SCOUT/No. 2/ SENECA CAMERA MANUFACTURING COMPANY/Rochester New York USA. The camera has what looks like a landscape lens and precisely 2 shutter speeds: 1/30 s or thereabouts, and time. It uses Kodak 120 roll film with a 2-1/4 by 3-1/4 in format. Roll film, for the uninitiated, is a layer of film and a layer of paper wrapped around a cylinder of wood or metal. The layer of paper is still in the camera and advises the user to use Kodak Velox paper "for quality." According to a not necessarily reliable source, model 2A was manufactured between 1913 and 1920. The 2A, to my surprise, had an achromatic lens. I do not know when the model 2 was manufactured.

Last year, I had major surgery in early July and elected not to run the XIII-th photography contest. I think we can manage one this year. It will begin Monday, June 19, at noon Mountain Daylight Time. I will post the rules then, but they will be substantially the same as two years ago, which means we will accept entries until July 5. We will limit you to 3 photos per person, and I think we will have no special themes or categories, unless I get an inspiration in the next couple of weeks. We will display the finalists and open voting for the winner on July 10, close voting on July 21, and announce the winner on July 24. More on June 19!

Streptopelia decaocto

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Eurasian collared dove
Streptopelia decaocto – Eurasian collared dove, Elmer's Two-Mile Creek, Boulder, Colorado, 27 April 2023. It seemed kind of late in the season, but these doves were acting kind of, well, lovey-dovey, so I pruriently snapped their picture. The collared doves have colonized the city, and (as I have noted earlier) I no longer see nor hear mourning doves, Zenaida macroura, within the city limits.

Creationist Paper on Heat Problems Associated with Genesis Flood

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Noah's Ark
And the Ark floated on the face of the waters. Wikimedia Commons, detail from Stamp of Israel – Festivals 5730, 13 August 1969, http://israelphilately.org.il/he/catalog/stamps/871, Asher Kalderon and Davis Grebu for Israel Post. Public domain.

Answers in Genesis (AiG) published a new paper yesterday in their Answers Research Journal discussing how life on earth survived the massive amount of heat produced in volcanic eruptions and intrusions during “The Flood.” The paper was authored by Dr. William Worraker, a British creationist with a doctorate in mathematics and a BS in physics. To their credit, the creationists realize having the Paleozoic-to-Recent igneous rock record go from molten to crystallizing in the last few thousand years presents a big problem for Young Earth Creationism.

As usual for Answers Research Journal, it is difficult to determine who the paper is aimed at or how it was peer reviewed by any competent scientist in the fields the paper discusses. Lots of technical articles from real journals and several mathematical appendices are cited, but then there is a section of definitions taken from Encyclopedia Britannica that include basic information that an undergraduate chemistry student should be aware of, as well as descriptions of minerals at an undergraduate mineralogy class level. This paper doesn’t appear to be written with the intent of convincing a geophysicist or geoscientist studying tectonics. In reality, it seems written to impress non-scientists, including potential donors to AiG, by being “sciencey.” Much of what is put out by AiG, the Institute for Creation Research, and other creationists that looks technical is really just a parody of science, meant to impress their followers/donors.

The abstract mentions supernatural explanations, but most of the paper doesn’t do so until the concluding portion. After paragraphs of rather questionable reasoning, special pleading, attempts at physics, and creation “science,” the author finally comes clean with this total bullshit by claiming the Bible says it and God did it:

However, it is important to appreciate that our inability to identify an acknowledged mechanism for removing the excess heat deposited during and after the Flood, an issue first identified over 35 years ago (Baumgardner 1986), is only a problem in the sense that it represents the limited nature of our human understanding. In a biblical context there is no fundamental problem because God purposely brought about the Flood (Genesis 6:17) as a judgment on the wicked human race of Noah’s day and covenanted with Noah to preserve human and animal life through the cataclysm (Genesis 6:18). He sovereignly accomplished both objectives, implying that environmental temperatures could not have risen beyond biological endurance limits. The only real problem is our current lack of understanding of how this was accomplished; the Flood account in Genesis 6–9 does not tell us directly whether supernatural processes were involved, though it seems very likely that they were. The same basic issue arises in connection with the topics to be covered in Parts 5 (heat due to Accelerated Nuclear Decay) and 6 (heat due to bombardments from space) of this series, and will be considered at greater length in Part 7.

The author could have saved a great deal of time if he had just said a miracle occurred rather than subjecting the reader to all of the arm waving and special pleading.

Existential Physics: Book review

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Book cover

Sabine Hossenfelder is fearless. Though she would allow you to believe anything you want to, as long as your belief is at least consistent with what we know about science, she will remind you whenever there is no evidence in favor of your belief. Indeed, she says,

If your belief conflicts with empirically confirmed knowledge, then you are not seeking meaning; you are delusional.

If you want to hold onto your delusions, she avers, then this book is not for you. She treats beliefs that do not conflict with what we know as harmless and indeed thinks that “scientists should acknowledge that science is compatible with many traditional sacred beliefs.” Thus, she (indirectly) criticizes Richard Dawkins and the “new atheists” for being too rigid in their beliefs: we have no evidence to distinguish between a Big Bang that was created by God and one that was not. She is right.