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  1. After reading the House Science Committee’s investigation, I was surprised that the DOE people interviewed were unaware of the effects the research could have for other government regulatory agencies (EPA, NRC, etc).

    This article by you gives the impression that they were well aware though (although I’m having a tough time keeping all the players straight in my head).

    So who is telling the truth? Did someone lie to congress?

    1. The report on the misconduct makes it clear people within the DOE only considered the impact on the EPA, and the EPA made it clear that no new scientific data would make it reconsider the use of LNT in favor of another model :
      https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/Staff%20Report%20-%20DOE%20Misconduct%20-%20Related%20to%20the%20Low%20Dose%20Radiation%20Research%20Program_0.pdf

      I don’t know if you saw the report Rod ?

    2. If you are reading the same report as me it says on page 13 :
      “But in terms of our program priorities, we feel we have accumulated sufficient research results to inform EPA’s regulatory process. EPA has indicated that they do not require additional research information that would cause them to overturn their current regulatory limits, which are based on the extremely conservative Linear No Threshold (LNT) theory”

      So it seems they only considered the effect on EPA which had no intent to review LNT whatever the result of the research.

  2. I sincerely hope you have made Stacey aware of this essay and accounting, Rod. I’d love to see him explain why a concerned and informed questioner was treated adversarily and insulted.

    As a lay person, even I can understand the extreme importance of an ongoing study into the effects of low dose radiation. Stacey’s evasive BS telegraphs an intention to conceal pertinent history of what led up to the cancellation. Not for a moment would I trust the minutes of a meeting, when those minutes are based on “notes” instead of transcription.

    Good luck. He’s already dug in his heels, and his email correspondence with you doesn’t show much character, or backbone. Whatever you find out, or any resolution you might arrive at, won’t come from him, or his office. Attempt to contact Perry, with your usual tenacious resolve.

    1. As usual, poa doesn’t ask for much 🙂

      My reading of their exchange suggests Rod’s final reply only confirmed Dr. Stacey’s suspicion as one “that has an agenda and are searching for anything that will support your prejudice.”

      Which is too bad, but it’s likely Dr. Stacey arrived there well before then. On the other hand, Dr. Stacey (or any of his researchers or secretaries) could easily browse this site and reach the same conclusion. So Rod wasn’t leaking any secrets.

      One of my favorite things about Atomic Insights is the quality and utility of it’s search engine. I suspect that is more than fortuitous.

      Another favorite is the quality of writing and tenacity of research, even when (or particularly when) I have my own doubts about possible fruitfulness of its direction.

      Although I can sympathize with how Dr. Stacey might have reached his conclusion, I do take exception:

      We *all* have an agenda. Save those who lack accomplishment. That does not pre-ordain uncritical bias; it is indeed one basis of scientific method: “I suspect something. Let’s develop a theory, run some tests, and find out.”

      I think I’ve read enough on Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Health Physics Society, and RERF to conclude Rod’s agenda is not based on “prejudice”.

      But wording like “…I was excited that there was finally an effort being made to show that the “no safe dose” assumption that is costing hundreds of millions to billions of dollars per year is an incorrect model.” could make it seem that way.

      One assumes LDRRP had no institutional bias to show LNT is incorrect. Only to investigate and, to the extent possible, find out.

      Proving these negatives is difficult. But as example Dr. Conca and colleagues appear to have done so for two representative strains of bacteria, see Is radiation necessary for life?. I’m certain Rod has, and there is no <a a priori reason to suspect such studies might not, with sufficient patience, be extended to higher organisms.

      As in most things biologic, we might expect an extended period of inconclusive results. These things are very complicated, and become more so for more complicated life forms. More modes of failure, and many more modes for repair.

      When checking the aforementioned Conca reference, I was bemused by Forbes’ rather fitting Quote of the Day:

      “This is just a part of my nature and everyone’s nature, to offer oneself to serve at the critical moment when the emergency becomes articulate.” -Leonard Cohen

    2. Well, Ed, I suspect that Rod IS reaching out to the Perry camp, with or without my goading. Considering Rod’s stated mission, his optimism, and his tenaciousness, I would expect nothing less. If he isn’t, I’m reading him completely and utterly wrong.

    3. @poa

      In this case, I need to contact both Perry and Pruitt – or at least work with the right people in their respective agencies. The DOE needs to continue the research, but the research that has already been completed should be sufficiently compelling to inform the EPA regulatory process to recognize that their current standards are ridiculously restrictive and not based on modern scientific knowledge.

      1. Good luck with that, Rod. While you’ve got their ears, ya might wanna tell them both that……well….science matters. Not that I expect they’ll care. So, after they finish laughing at you, maybe you can talk a stock tip or two outta them.

        1. @poa

          One of the divisive and often incorrect labels applied in political conflicts is “anti-science.”

          It is often used against those who ask questions about the established narrative about topics like effects of atmospheric CO2 and the mechanisms that drive species to change over time.

          Those are complex, intriguing subjects that people who are deeply interested in science should feel free to study, observe, investigate, hypothesize, experiment and debate.

          Instead, they are often shouted down with words that are more about scientific suppression than about learning and knowledge building. They might be asked “What, you don’t believe in evolution?” or “Are you a climate change denier?”

          As this post attempts to illustrate, politicians and bureaucrats often take actions that are aimed at suppressing disagreement or searches for truth in areas where they have already decided on an acceptable answer. It’s not a technique that is limited to one side of the political fence or another.

          (By the way, I’m on neither “side.” I think of political views on most topics as a spectrum with as many different points as their are people. Since each topic has its own spectrum, every person has a unique side made up of the collection of positions they hold on each issue.)

          1. Rod…. I recognize that really, you gotta work with what you have, whether its your field resources, your lab equipment, your shipboard equipment, your superiors, or your legislators. So it makes no sense for you to throw out usable assets, whether it be equipment, or sympathetic ears. Alienating this incoming administration can only work against you. Particularly when the top of the chain of command seems to lose control of himself everytime anyone lodges a criticism at him. So, I get it. But I’m watching with interest, to see what your breaking point is. Even if these guys prove to be a boon for NE, it cannot erase what else they are, and what they may do. I believe they will take you to that breaking point, and your sense of morality, ethics, and concern for your fellows will become stronger than your current mission, and your ability to ignore the gnawing doubt and pangs of conscience that are intruding on your optimism. There comes a point when one has to man up, and call a spade a spade, or carry regrets to his grave.

            You have grandkids, doncha? What will we leave them? What SHOULD we leave them?

            1. @poa

              Where I come from the phrase ‘call a spade a spade’ isn’t about shovels. In fact, someone who takes that advice would also be a likely user of the ‘N’ word and a closet wearer of white sheets.

              Please rest assured, I retain my strong sense of morality and ethics and will not violate them.

              On the other hand, I judge people on actions, not words or tweets. I often find it amusing to see the reactions to what I would consider to be quite brief, innocuous, and often understandable reactions to criticism. It seems to me that the greatest offense that “The Donald” has committed in the eyes of the establishment media is that he has found ways to by-pass their filters/gatekeeping.

              He also has successfully conned them out of a lot of advertising revenue by obtaining an incredible amount of free press coverage that provides name recognition.

          2. Well, I grew up in Cal, but raised by a mother who was from the deep south, so “eenie meenie miney moe…” included the N word. Took me a while, as a young adult, to look back and marvel at how easily those words were instilled, and how ingrained racism was in our society. But, like Rick, I always thought, calling a spade a spade was refering to cards.

          3. “They might be asked “What, you don’t believe in evolution?” or “Are you a climate change denier?””

            Well, in answer, Ben Carson has said that evolution is “satanic”, and His Majesty Trump has declared climate change as a hoax, and a chinese conspiracy theory. So which are you suggesting we ignore, the questions, or the answers? Or both?

            1. @poa

              Would you have remembered those statements if they had not been endlessly repeated?

              Was there more context associated with the actual comment that was lost in the game of “telephone” as the story was passed from journo to incredulous journo?

          4. “Any idea for what phrase should be substituted?
            “Call it what it is” seems so bland”

            When I lived on Paramount Ranch, the old Paramount movie studio’s property, an old Texas cowboy, Dee Cooper, was leasing it. Whenever he stated the obvious, his favorite saying as a follow-up was “Doesn’t take me all day to look at a horseshoe”.

          5. “Would you have remembered those statements if they had not been endlessly repeated?”

            Yes. Hearing them just once would have been plenty for me to retain the statements, retain who made them, and retain my opinion about the statements and the men that made the statements.

            As far as Carson goes, I have no doubt his statement is based on religious zealotry, and conviction. So, in effect, he’s just being honest about what he believes in. Frankly, I find those beliefs a disqualifier for a person tasked to serve the people’s, (all people’s), interests.

            But Trump? His statement isn’t based in science, or belief. He panders to whatever interests serve his momentary purposes. He’ll say anything, at anytime, to advance his own interests. It doesn’t matter to him whether climate change is real, or not. What matters to him is which position, on any given matter, is most capable of advancing his own interests. Truth, science, ethics, morality, are all irrelevent to the man. I know that you know, in your gut, that that is the true nature of Donald Trump. For you to admit it, though, is uncomfortable, because you have to admit to the very lessening of personal values that you want so hard to believe are uncompromised.

            1. @poa

              What matters to him is which position, on any given matter, is most capable of advancing his own interests. Truth, science, ethics, morality, are all irrelevant to the man.

              The key to using such a person to advance an agenda that really is beneficial to almost anyone is to show him how it advances his selfish interests.

              I’d have a harder time if he was in bed with the Saudis. It’s a little tricky with American and Russian big business, but they have more than just accidental control of natural resources going for them.

            2. @poa

              What if I told you that I have serious questions about the theory of evolution as taught in what is apparently most schools in the US?

              My questions do not original in religious dogma; they originate in the second law of thermodynamics that says entropy of an isolated system always increases over time. That is often extended to recognize that the natural state of any system is disorder unless there is an organizing force applied.

              It is hard to look closely at leaves, tree branches, the insides of a lizard, the sweep of a landscape, or any of an infinite number of examples to conclude that the Earth on which we live is the result of happenstance, even if you add in an ingrained desire to survive and thrive.

              Sure, species change over time and sure, many structures are common across many species. Similar observations can be made about machinery if you excavate a dump that has been in operation for the past few hundred years.

              The missing piece in the Darwinist view of evolution is denial that there needs to be some kind of organizing force or creator(s) if you will. I have absolutely no comprehension of how that works, but there are times when I feel a glimmer of understanding by the Christian teaching of “made in God’s image.”

              If, indeed there is some kind of creator, humans are a species that appears to have been endowed with some of that drive and ability to make things that never existed before, to improve on things that do exist, or to change things just out of pure curiosity or boredom.

              I’m pretty sure that if you study history, you will find that the majority of US presidents have been people with at least some kind of understanding or believe in a God or creator.

              On the other topic, I also believe that there is a lot of propaganda associated with the loaded term “climate change.” It is certainly not scientific to ever ask anyone if they “believe” in something or to shout epithets at people just because they have a few questions. There is no doubt that human activities are adding CO2 to the atmosphere at a high enough rate to overcome natural CO2 removal processes. We have changed the balance in the preexisting carbon cycle. It is affecting our climate and changing ocean chemistry.

              Those are the facts. It is legitimate, though to argue vociferously about the prescribed treatments, even if you agree with the diagnosis. It is even legitimate to point out conflicts of interest in the discussion. For example, petroleum companies that extract both oil and natural gas have been huge beneficiaries of actions to reduce CO2 by demonizing coal. How much of the media coverage and the political conversation is amped up because some in the gas industry recognize that “clean energy” is a marketing strategy that is most effective if people are taught that your competitor is causing a deadly crisis?

          6. Frankly Rod, I don’t believe evolution disproves the existence of a God. In fact, the miracle of it, to me, does the exact opposite.

            But belief in a higher power, a God, does not rationalize a belief that our planet is a mere thousands of years old, or that a rib bone made woman. I think you probably do have questions about evolution, as do I. But are you a “creationist”, in the strict sense of the word? Do you believe carbon dating is just some sort of witchcraft, a satanical deception waged by a demonic entity? Somehow I doubt it.

            And you pretzling again, Rod. Of course, you can pick apart a definitive and absolute presentation of climate change. There are holes in the science, and those holes can serve, very well, a narrative that places doubt on the severity of the problem, or the immediate necessity to deal with it. While employing the tools by which to sow that doubt, I hope you consider, as you push your grandkids on the swingset, what it means to them if you are wrong.

          7. His Majesty Trump has declared climate change as a hoax

            Puh-LEEESE!

            The correct term is “God-Emperor Trump”. 😉

          8. “Please rest assured, I retain my strong sense of morality and ethics and will not violate them.”

            Hmmmm. Then it will be interesting to see how you react if it is established, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there was a direct line of communication between the Trump camp and the Kremlin during the campaign, as is now being reported as being a real possibility.

            1. @poa

              Being reported by whom, the people that were shocked that their influence didn’t provide a victory for their chosen candidate?

              As a guy who spent 33 years in uniform and has the medals to support my claim to having been a Cold Warrior, I’m mystified by the people who seem to pine for the days before the wall fell.

              This is not the 1950s. “The Kremlin” is no bogeyman. Putin leads his country differently than we would like, but the Russians elected him and they seem to support his efforts.

              I’ve studied the history of US-Russia relations; it’s been one of my many interest areas since the time I wrote a paper in my plebe history course titled “American Intervention in the Russian Revolution.” My conclusion then was that we picked the wrong side to support. There are many in the US who loved and miss the idea of having a large demon on the other side of the world that can justify the expenditure of hundreds of billions of dollars per year in “defense” purchases.

          9. “One of the divisive and often incorrect labels applied in political conflicts is “anti-science.””

            Chuckling. So, uh, the fact that Trump just asked an anti-vaxxer to head the commission on vaccine safety, should be just shrugged off, eh??

            Ya know, you just can’t make this stuff up. Its as though Trump is acting out a satire.

            I used to think it would be two years before this clown is impeached. Now, I wonder, will he even make it to two years. Try to picture your grandkids with the measels, Rod. Pretty sight, eh?

          10. “Being reported by whom, the people that were shocked that their influence didn’t provide a victory for their chosen candidate?”

            Its my understanding that it is the intelligence community, including the FBI, that is advancing this assertion. So, uh, would you consider Clinton to be Comey’s “chosen candidate”?

            It will be interesting to watch this unfold. Almost as interesting, will be seeing how many knots make up a true pretzel. Hang in there, Rod, I ain’t breaking out the mustard yet. But the ‘frigerator door is cracked open a hair, and the condiment tray is fully stocked.

            1. @poa

              As you might suspect, there are more than a couple of ex military people who work in “the intelligence community.” The politically appointed heads of three agencies (CIA, FBI and NSA) have provided a report that should be read, including the front matter that describes what certain fudge terms mean, with the realization of who nominated them and the “side” that is most likely to provide them entry into lucrative employment after their term of office is over.

              My contacts at working levels don’t necessarily agree with the way their report is being read and interpreted.

          11. “He also has successfully conned them out of a lot of advertising revenue by obtaining an incredible amount of free press coverage that provides name recognition.”

            Yes, he defnitely has name recognition. By the majority.

            Trump is set to begin his presidency with a historically low approval rating….

            President-elect Donald Trump’s approval rating is the lowest for any presidential transition Gallup has measured, the polling firm said on Friday…..

            http://www.businessinsider.com/gallup-trump-approval-rating-2017-1

            The part that amszes me is his constant tweeting about “fake news”. Averaging at least a couple of lies a day, and as the loudest screamer about Obama not being an american, millions of illegals voted…blahblahblah….ad nauseum…plus his DAILY LIES… he’s the absolute KING of “fake news”. He will be impeached, Rod, you might as well face it. Any squeeks he makes about NE cannot be believed, because his credibility has sunk to zero in the minds of anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together. Defending him, at this point, can only be done with disingenuous argument. When do you intend to get real?

      2. Rod – there is a very active community of space-geeks that could be allies in pushing for reviving research in to low dose effects, given how important it is to any significant human presence in space.

        When I worked for Florida Power & Light, it was made clear pretty early on that you never, ever hang up on a customer. As I understood it, doing so was grounds for termination along with the other usual stuff.

  3. I also saw the childhood leukemia story in your twitter feed Rod. What a disaster radiation fear has been. Russia is making a killing now in Germany because of the cold weather and Germany is also on track for a very significant increase in emissions last year. Of course they have some of the highest electricity prices and worst air pollution in western Europe as well. The cold weather here is also driving down NG supplies and prices are going up. It is an incredibly bad time to be closing NPPs.

    Ref-
    ( http://www.reuters.com/article/us-gazprom-exports-record-idUSKBN14R0DD )
    ( http://aqicn.org/map/europe/#@g/43.1894/5.3174/4z )
    ( http://www.iea.org/media/statistics/surveys/electricity/mes.pdf )
    ( http://ir.eia.gov/ngs/ngs.html )

  4. What if I told you that I have serious questions about the theory of evolution as taught in what is apparently most schools in the US?

    My questions do not original in religious dogma; they originate in the second law of thermodynamics that says entropy of an isolated system always increases over time. That is often extended to recognize that the natural state of any system is disorder unless there is an organizing force applied.

    AYFKM?

    Because
    (a) the Earth is not an energetically or entropically closed system, and
    (b) I can give you an example which demolishes that faulty argument in the form of an experiment that’s regularly done in elementary-school classrooms; you may well have performed yourself.

    1. @E-P

      It’s not enough to add random energy to a system to reduce entropy. It has to be “work” in the engineering sense that does not randomly move in any old direction.

      However, I’d love to hear about an elementary school experiment that “demolishes” the argument that I have been musing about since about that time in my life.

      1. I’d love to hear about an elementary school experiment that “demolishes” the argument that I have been musing about since about that time in my life.

        The simplest one is making rock candy.  From a highly-disordered liquid solution, you get highly-ordered crystals.  This change is reversible and can be driven between states by a fairly small difference in temperature.  There is no free lunch, of course; the entropy lost by the crystallizing sugar (and then some) is gained by the environment.

        The more complex one is your basic terrarium.  Add sunlight, water and CO2 and the plants convert the high-entropy material inputs to low-entropy carbohydrates.  There is still no free lunch; the entropy lost by the converted water and CO2 is far less than the entropy gained by the conversion of sunlight at 1/5700 J/K to ambient heat at perhaps 1/290 J/K.  But the Earth radiates that entropy away at about 1/250 J/K so the system can continue to work so long as Sun keeps shining.

        It’s not enough to add random energy to a system to reduce entropy. It has to be “work” in the engineering sense that does not randomly move in any old direction.

        But things don’t randomly move in any old direction.  Things move according to Gibbs free energy.  Your basic steam power plant takes or makes low-entropy heat, converts part of it to work and dumps the rest as high-entropy heat.  The net entropy of the plant doesn’t go up because it is not a closed system; it dumps all the entropy it creates to the environment, where it winds up as part of Earth’s 1/250 J/K radiation into the 1/2.7 J/K depths of space.

        There are plenty of such energy/entropy flows in nature.  For example, hydrothermal reactions in freshly-formed rocks create free hydrogen and/or H2S.  Every step of the process is entropically “downhill”, but you still wind up with a highly energetic chemical species as an output.  What most people don’t see is all the entropy created as hot rock at over 1000 K loses its energy to cold water at perhaps 278 K.  There are entire ecosystems living on these energy/entropy flows; merrily chemosynthesizing away in pitch blackness.

        I trust I’ve made my point, that things can and do go locally “uphill” even as they go globally “down”?

        If you want an interesting number, calculate the entropy of all the CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere.  Figure the entropy of fixed carbon at 0, and calculate just how long it takes for the Sun to deliver that much anti-entropy as the delta between 1/5700 J/K light and 1/290 J/K ambient heat.

        1. @E-P

          Perhaps I was being a bit too obtuse or poetic. The “order” that I was talking about in living creatures includes the systems that function to do things like convert energy into metabolic fuel, find and eliminate waste products, sustain the organism, protect it from its environment within certain bounds, and reproduce the organism.

          Crystals are certainly “ordered” in a sense, but they have none of the properties of living organisms. They are not functioning systems by any reasonable definition of a system.

          1. The “order” that I was talking about in living creatures includes the systems that function to do things like convert energy into metabolic fuel, find and eliminate waste products, sustain the organism, protect it from its environment within certain bounds, and reproduce the organism.

            I am frankly flabbergasted.  Vitalism has been progressively discredited for going on 2 centuries now, and here you are treating it as axiomatic.

            Are you not aware that both peptides and nucleotides polymerize spontaneously, and arise by abiotic chemistry?  That you get organic chemistry going on in systems as elementary as frozen solutions of ammonium cyanide (which may have been ubiquitous when the Sun was 40% dimmer than today, and Earth’s interior much hotter)?  That the smallest, simplest organisms get by on diffusion (there’s that Gibbs free energy again)?

            Come to think of it, you treat other questionable (albeit much more popular) dogmas as axiomatic too, which is strange coming from someone who so vigorously bucks the reigning narrative on nuclear power.  It’s Orwellian, in this sense:

            “CRIMESTOP means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. CRIMESTOP, in short, means protective stupidity… orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one’s own mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body.”

            Crystals are certainly “ordered” in a sense, but they have none of the properties of living organisms.

            And what about the terrarium?

            Untold millions of years ago, some bug (itself many millions of years removed from abiogenesis) developed the first functional bacteriorhodopsin.  Instead of depending on chemical energy from outside, it was able to harvest the energy from light photons.  It no longer had to compete around hydrothermal vents or scavenge now-depleted active molecules falling out of the atmosphere.  It didn’t even have to capture photons very well, because it had no competition in the niches it opened up.  Those improvements would come as the population exploded (and genetic variation with it), and competition became real once more.

            Some bacteria can have a greater population in a cubic centimeter than the human population of Earth.

            Bacteriorhodopsin is part of the archaea lineage.  They use a slightly different DNA code than both true bacteria and eukaryotes.  Curiously enough, so do chloroplasts… and mitochondria.  They are literally cells within cells.

            You appear to be looking at the profusion of life around you and thinking, “how could all of this have come about?”  I think back to what I know of the Eocene, and Cretacious, and Carboniferous, and how they ALL had profusions of life that were nevertheless quite different from today’s, and think “how couldn’t it?”

            1. @E-P

              Let’s end this discussion here and perhaps seek another venue. It is interesting, but way off topic for Atomic Insights.

              As for your question “What about the terrarium?” you introduced ordered life as part of the system.

              As far as the profusion of life goes in earlier eras, how does that disprove the notion that there must be some kind of creative force that humans are still incapable of understanding? Mind you, I am not rooting this in any particular theology, book, set of teachings, etc. I’m not just amazed by the profusion of life, but by the incredible examples of marvelous system engineering refinements that life exhibits. (Yes, I know I threw in way too many adjectives, but words fail me.)

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