Thursday, January 12, 2017

Maurice Cotterell is wrong about everything

        Maurice Cotterell is the dude who made me giggle back in 2011 by saying that if you lined up all the elements in the periodic table, in a row in little containers, you'd get "all the energy you'd ever need." Well, it turns out that this anti-science clown can be catastrophically wrong about more than just the periodic table. He was on Coast to Coast AM last night, and the station published a kind of cheat-sheet to help us all follow along.

        A thorough critical review of this hilarious nonsense would be fun to do but ultimately boring, so I'm just going to pick out two simple elements to mock. First, look at the text at the bottom of page 1:
"[T]here's also a problem with Newton's equation that is just too embarrassing for modern Science to talk about. It goes like this: Galileo showed that all objects fall to the ground at exactly the same acceleration and speed—which is not what Newton's equation says; for example, if we change the apple [m1] with a cannonball [M3], then his equation says that the Force must go up. And if the Force goes up then—given that Force = Mass × Acceleration—the acceleration, and the speed, must increase. Newton couldn't answer this question because he never understood how gravity works."
        So a self-taught engineer with a humanities degree thinks he knows more about gravity than Isaac Newton? Many quite young schoolboys and girls would see the flaw in this argument quite quickly. Cotterell increases the mass in his imaginary experiment from m1 to M3, then says that the force of attraction between the mass and the planet we stand on increases pro rata, and that the equation F = ma then requires that a increase. But you see, dear Maurice, since you've increased the value of m, there is no requirement for a to increase as well.

        Expressed mathematically, the force of attraction of a mass m by a planet of mass M and radius r is:

F = GmM/r2 where G is Newton's gravitational constant

        The acceleration of that mass toward the planet, when any support is removed, is given by:

a = F/m
a = GmM/mr2
a = GM/r2

        Since the m's cancel out, a is independent of the mass you're dropping off the leaning tower of Pisa in  the case of a cannonball, or your kitchen table in the case of a falling jam butty. It's a different law that dictates that a jam butty lands jammy side down.

Gyros
        Cotterell is awfully wrong about gravity, but last night he went even one step more wrong than that, declaring that "when you spin an object, it becomes weightless." He cited the renowned engineer Eric Laithwaite who, according to Cotterell, demonstrated that a spinning gyroscope levitates. However, that's not what Laithwaite showed at all. He showed that if you apply a twisting force to a gyroscope, the reaction is offset by 90°. That's what gyroscopes do. Here's Laithwaite's demo, and here's a very simple confirmation that a gyro doesn't get any lighter when you spin it up. Never mind that Laithwaite himself was fooled by this phenomenon for a while—he understood it eventually. Note that if he had twisted the gyro in the other direction it would have reacted by going down, not up.

        I don't expect George Noory to be a genius at physics, but when a guest on his show makes a statement like that which is so obviously in error, I think we might at least expect something like "Are you sure about that Maurice?"

23 comments:

astroguy said...

I've been planning for years to do a thorough take-down of his crap. Still haven't gotten to it, but it's in the queue.

Graham said...

Someone posted this comment describing a mindset I've seen amongst conspiracy theorists, and members of both left and right wing political groups, it seems to fit Cotterell as well:

1. This person has opinions that contradict some of mine.

2. My opinions are unassailable facts that are obvious to everyone.

3. Therefore this person must hold those opinions not because he actually believes them, but solely to troll me.

Anonymous said...

How come in the movie Passengers, they rip off Stanley Kubrick's film of Arthur C Clarke's book, 2001 Space Odyssey, by having a rotating section of a Spaceship, to create an artificial gravity? Does a rotating body create gravity only in a zero gravity environment, and zero gravity where there already is a significant gravity field?

Adrian

Anonymous said...

[quote]
I don't expect George Noory to be a genius at physics, but when a guest on his show makes a statement like that which is so obviously in error, I think we might at least expect something like "Are you sure about that Maurice?"
[/quote]

I'm pretty sure George Noory is the "go along to get along" sort.

If he has ever challenged a guest's claims, no matter how specious (or just plain silly), I've yet to hear of it.

expat said...

He did once challenge Mike Bara over the "Brookings Report" but it was "beat him with a powder puff" time.

Anonymous said...

George doesn't listen. He reads a list of questions, irrespective of elaborations which anticipate further investigation. If you've listened, you've heard guests reply: "As I already mentioned..."

Barry Soetero

Anonymous said...

We Are Anonymous, and we don't appreciate you dipshits impersonating us, one little bit.

Adrian

expat said...

Four trivial comments disallowed.

David Evans said...

"Does a rotating body create gravity only in a zero gravity environment?"

No. Rotation does not create gravity, it creates centripetal acceleration which has similar effects to gravity - for instance, it makes the "floor" push upwards on one's feet. It can do so in a gravitational field - see, for instance, the Wall of Death in a carnival.

Anonymous said...

Zero gravity has been found to cause blindness in astronauts who've spent extended time in Space. Would rotating Spacecraft and stations, creating centripetal acceleration, prevent the deformation in their eyes?

http://www.sciencealert.com/we-finally-know-why-astronauts-lose-their-vision-in-space-and-it-s-bad-news-for-mars-missions

Asstrogay

George Benkel said...

Have youze seen any plans for a spinning Space Station?
Well, there you go...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vonmazur said...

EXPAT: I am surprised that you did not do the show the day before with Marshal Masters. It was worth some criticism...I tried to get on to ask about how the Nibiru system is now in a "Matching Orbit" in the plane of the ecliptic, after coming in from the south, but they would not let me on..Apparently he is having second thought about planet x, and is now selling survivalist bunk.

expat said...

I heard some of Marshall Masters, and considered making blog, but then realized that Stuart Robbins has already covered it like a tent.

Anonymous said...

What is the difference in effects on human physiology, between Earth gravity and equivalent force of centripetal acceleration?

Enterprise Nocturnal O'Mission

vonmazur said...

Thanks for the link..Good info there.

expat said...

« What is the difference in effects on human physiology, between Earth gravity and equivalent force of centripetal acceleration? »

I'll allow this, since spinning and gravity are on topic. The experiment has not been done yet, so we don't know for sure. Theoretically it should completely do away with the problems of bone loss and dehydration. It'll be interesting to see whether disorientation/nausea is still a problem. Common sense says it will be.

Chris Lopes said...

For more on the math and science involved in spinning to simulate gravity, you can go here. It's part of the atomic rocket web site. If you want to know how to actually use the rocket equation, or just want to get the science right for your best selling novel that will become a movie starring Matt Damon, this is the place to go.

expat said...

Chris: Try again with that link, please. It's not working.

Chris Lopes said...

Try again. here

Chris Lopes said...

The url is www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/artificialgrav.php

expat said...

Why is this link so difficult? here.

Ansil Babariya said...

UAE wants to build a City on mars