[EAS] Divining Rods and Magnets
Peter J. Kindlmann
pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Sat Nov 7 00:21:32 EST 2009
Dear Colleagues -
I couldn't resist sending you the latest missive from physicist Bob
Park. I admire his staunch energy in affirmation of scientific
reasoning. Much of the world, even the affluent parts, seems to be
losing its immune response to charlatans, even in life-threatening
situations. Maybe it's part of a Spenglerian cycle, maybe a slide
toward medieval gullibility creates more room for innovation and
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Date: Fri, 6 Nov 2009 18:06:10 -0500
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WHAT'S NEW Robert L. Park Friday, 6 Nov 09 Washington, DC
1. DIVINING: THIS TIME, IT'S A BOMB DETECTOR.
There it was, on the front page of the New York Times; the Iraqi government
has purchased more than 1500 devices known as the ADE 651 to use at
checkpoints. That stands for Advanced Detection of Explosives. The 651 is
the latest detection device marketed by ATSC (UK) Ltd. It consists of a
thin rod mounted on a swivel held by pistol grip, and is said to point to
explosives. That's all it is, there are no sensors. According to Rod
Nordland who wrote the article, a retired USAF officer said the device is
nothing more than an explosives divining rod,. The stupid Iraqis don't
know this and paid $16,500-$60,000 each for them, even though American
officers told them the devices are worthless. Boy, are they dumb! Wait,
the NYT failed mention that the US Department of Defense was sold on these
devices back in the 90s Although it was classified, they tipped off their
favorite novelist, Tom Clancy, that the incredible device could detect
people through thick walls by sensing their heartbeats. It was the basis
of "Rainbow Six," http://bobpark.physics.umd.edu/WN98/wn092598.html . It
was a scam. Thousands of similar devices are still in use by local police
around the country to satisfy "probable cause" requirements for a property
search. ATSC also sells a narcotic detector, but it's exactly the same
device with a different number.
2. MEMORY: WHY IS IT NECESSARY TO KEEP DEBUNKING THIS STUFF?
Is there no memory? Where I grew up in Texas no one would think of digging
a well until the local dowser using a willow fork approved the spot. Since
then, dowsing for water has been debunked over and over, most thoroughly by
James Randi. But dowsing is now used for everything. Last year, the power
company needed to find a buried power cable on our road. I watched the
lineman reach under the seat of his truck, pull out a stiff wire bent in
the shape of a fork, and start dousing for the cable. If it works for
everything, there is no physical cause and it's not science.
3. MAGNETS: NEVER PAY ANOTHER ELECTRIC BILL.
The first time I heard that promise it was made by Joseph W. Newman on the
CBS Evening News with Dan Rather in 1987. A Mississippi backwoods-mechanic
with a grade-school education, Newman took a course in electricity. When
he heard that doubling the number of turns in a coil would double the
magnetic field, he left to wind a mighty coil that would generate more
energy than it took. Newman never got to Lenz's law, and CBS did not
bother to check with a scientist. About every five years since, that
machine is reinvented. You can now build your own "energy machine" with a
kit from Magnets4Energy, but it still won't work.
4. PRAYER: SHOULD PRAYER TREATMENTS BE COVERED?
Some powerful members of the Senate propose language in the healthcare bill
would prohibit discrimination against "religious and spiritual health
care." The unstated purpose is to cover the cost of Christian Science
prayer treatments in the healthcare bill. This shouldn't be a problem.
The church, says the treatments are effective; if so these people will not
need real medical care. If, on the other hand, prayer treatments are not
effective, they are a subsidy to the Church of Christ, Scientist and the
program should be reimbursed by that amount.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND.
Opinions are the author's and not necessarily shared by the
University of Maryland, but they should be.
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