Reply to the Venus-Young article on the Ediacara WWW server

Ted Holden

No WWW page for catastrophism would be complete without some sort of a response to Tim Thompson's treatise on the age of Venus found on the Ediacara page. The problem centers around F.W. Taylors article concerning albedo readings on Venus, and what that implies for the question of atmospheric thermal balance on Venus and, hence, for Carl Sagan's super-greenhouse theory, which is the standard explaination for the 1000 degree F. surface temperature of Venus. Super-greenhouse requires that the planet's atmosphere be in thermal balance, i.e. that energy taken in from the sun equal energy radiated off into space, since solar energy is given as the cause for the 1000 F temperature.

Catastrophists generally scoff at the entire notion of super-greenhouse for a number of reasons; in any real sort of a greenhouse, for instance, there is some sort of a glass roof to prevent the heated air from somehow RISING and dispersing the heat, before it ever gets to 1000 degrees fahrenheit. There is no glass roof over Venus...

Nothing more than a good mind and 12'th-grade reading skills is required to understand this one.


There are two possible explainations for the 1000 F surface temperature of Venus: Velikovsky's, which is that Venus is in a process of cooling either from a recent creation or from heat generated during recent catastrophic events (i.e. is natively hot), and Carl Sagan's "super greenhouse" theory, which is standard doctrine amongst astronomers, despite being ridiculous.

Sagan's theory would require that Venus' atmosphere be in thermal balance, i.e. since all the heat would be derived from the sun, heat taken in and given out should equal eachother.

I have noted that this is in sharp disagreement with with actual findings, and that astronomers have made a habit of doctoring the findings and have actually found themselves in the position of having to explain AWAY 100% of the raw data. All of the probes which carried infra-red flux (upward vs. downward readings) meters to the surface measured a sharp upward ir flux, which is in keeping with Velikovsky's version, but not that of Sagan. Astronomers have posted oficial position papers (Revercomb/Suomi et. al) explaining the manner in which each and every such probe "failed", without bothering to try to explain why they should not all be fired for failing to oversee the proper manufacture of so simple an instrument in even one case out of at least four (instruments were not all the same).

And then there is the question of F.W. Taylor's description of massive thermal imbalance as measured from outside the atmosphere (from the article on thermal balance by F.W. Taylor in "VENUS", Hunton, Colin, Donahue, Moroz, Univ. of Ariz. Press, 1983, ISBN 0-8165-0788-0, pp 657-658).

"Measurements of albedo are more difficult to calibrate than those of thermal flux, because of the problem of obtaining an accurate reference source. Using earth-based measurements, Irvine (1968) calculated a value for A [albedo] of 0.77 0.07, which was later revised upward to 0.80 0.07 by Travis (1975). The Pioneer Venus infrared radiometer had a 0.4 to 4.0 m channel calibrated by a lamp from which Tomasko et al. (1980b) obtained a preliminary albedo for Venus of 0.80 0.02.

"Another approach to determining the albedo is simply to assume that the atmosphere is in net radiative balance, whence the equation:


                         (1-A)E
                    4          0
       sigma * theta   = ---------
                    b      a^2

    should apply.  Here E  is the solar constant, and a the distance
                         0

from the sun. This expression allows the albedo to be calculated from thermal measurements alone.

"In this way, a value of 0.79 + 0.02 - 0.01 has been obtained from Venera radiometry (Ksanfomality, 1977, 1980b) and [a value] of 0.76 0.006 [has been obtained] from Pioneer Venus emission measurements (Schofield et al., 1982).

"Clearly the Pioneer measurements of emission and reflection are not consistent with each other if net radiative balance applies. (Emphasis added.) A source inside Venus equal in magnitude to 20% of the solar input (i.e., accounting for the difference between A = 0.76 and A = 0.80) is very unlikely, since Venus is thought to have an Earth-like makeup, which would imply internal heat sources several orders of magnitude less than this. Also, even if such sources were postulated, it is difficult to construct a model in which these fairly large amounts of heat can be transported from the core to the atmosphere via a rocky crust without the latter becoming sufficiently plastic to collapse of the observed surface relief. This could be avoided if the transport was very localized, i.e., via a relatively small number of giant volcanoes. Although large, fresh-looking volcanoes do appear to exist on Venus...and the composition of the atmosphere is consistent with vigorous output from these, a simple comparison with terrestrial volcanism shows that the volcanic activity on Venus would have to be on an awesome scale to account for the missing 5 X 1015 W [watts], or so, of power. A more acceptable alternative is that the preliminary estimate of 0.80 0.2 for the albedo from the P. V. [Pioneer Venus] measurements is too high, since the uncertainty limit is now known from further work to be too conservative. (J. V. Martonchik, personal communication.) A fuller analysis of the P. V. [Pioneer Venus] albedo data--still the best, in terms of wavelength, spacial and phase coverage, and radiometric precision, which is likely to be obtained for the foreseeable future--is likely to resolve this puzzle. In conclusion, then, the best thermal measurements of Venus WITH THE ASSUMPTION OF GLOBAL ENERGY BALANCE yield a value for the albedo of 0.76 0.1; this is the most probable value."


Let's examine what Taylor is saying. The term "albedo", stripped of the four-syllable adjectives, is a measure of reflectivity, the percentage of light which bounces back from something.

Taylor is saying that there are two ways to measure this albedo, a direct method, and an indirect method involving a formula which relates albedo to thermal emissions, assuming thermal balance holds. The direct method:

"The Pioneer Venus infrared radiometer had a 0.4 to 4.0 m channel calibrated by a lamp from which Tomasko et al. (1980b) obtained a preliminary albedo for Venus of 0.80 0.02."
doesn't go into detail, but makes it clear that they either did one of the following things, or something entirely like one of them:

a. Brought the satellite to the dark side of Venus, beamed a light towards Venus, and measured how much of that light returned.

b. Brought the satellite to the light side of Venus, and simply turned the instrument towards the sun, and then towards Venus, and computed a ratio of the light intensities.

Taylor also mentions the indirect method:

"Another approach to determining the albedo is simply to assume that the atmosphere is in net radiative balance, whence the equation:
                         (1-A)E
                    4          0
       sigma * theta   = ---------
                    b      a^2

    should apply.  Here E  is the solar constant, and a the distance
                         0
from the sun. This expression allows the albedo to be calculated from thermal measurements alone.
He notes that, if thermal balance does hold, the two techniques should produce the same number, but that they don't, and that the difference is so great, that a massive heat source on Venus would be needed to explain it, entirely in keeping with Velikovsky's version of the entire thing.

He notes that further study is needed, since he sees no way for Venus to have such a heat source given standard versions of solar-system history, and that the .76 value derived for albedo is therefore the "most probable" value.

He notes that the Pioneer Venus readings are the best we've had and the best we're likely to get for a long time:

A fuller analysis of the P. V. [Pioneer Venus] albedo data--still the best, in terms of wavelength, spacial and phase coverage, and radiometric precision, which is likely to be obtained for the foreseeable future--is likely to resolve this puzzle.
In particular, he notes that:
"Measurements of albedo are more difficult to calibrate than those of thermal flux, because of the problem of obtaining an accurate reference source.
and:
The Pioneer Venus infrared radiometer had a 0.4 to 4.0 m channel calibrated by a lamp from which Tomasko et al. (1980b) obtained a preliminary albedo for Venus of 0.80 0.02.
That means that people trying to measure albedo from Earth always had to estimate reference sources anywhere near Venus, whereas the lamp mentioned was right there; again, ample reason for tossing all prior albedo measurements.

Thus between the infra-red flux meters of the descender probes and the phenomena Taylor describes, all of the raw data flatly contradict Sagan and "super-greenhouse", and scientists are left having to explain away 100% of the raw data.

I've noted this on talk.origins, and here the fun begins.

Tim Thompson, the astronomical guru of talk.origins, claims that I'm a moron, and that problem vanishes if we simply average the all such values together or somehow regard them as jointly telling an incomplete story:

>    On January 9, 1994, in a response to Mark Isaak, Ted Holden said:
>"Neither you, nor anyone else on t.o has been able to refute my clear
>demonstration that all available evidence indicates Venus being badly
>out of thermal balance, and this includes the IR flux readings from the
>low level probes as well as the PV reflection and emission readings,
>which a number of t.o regulars used to claim showed Venus 'within error
>bounds'  of thermal balance. I mean, we've cleared that up now, haven't
>we?"

>    This statement is massively false in many ways, but I will not
>quibble over Mr. Holdens view of events. I will now provide conclusive
>refutation of Mr. Holden's claim. Save this post, and any time in the
>future, when Mr. Holden repeats this claim, then you can just re-submit
>this post.

>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>TABLE 1:  VENUS ALBEDO DATA
>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>1  ~0.80 +/- 0.07     P. 657 Derived from stellar optical comparison
>2   0.80 +/- 0.02     P. 658 "Preliminary" from PV 0.4-4.0 micron IR
>3   0.79 +0.02 -0.01  P. 658 From Venera assuming thermal balance
>4   0.76 +/- 0.006    P. 658 From PV assuming thermal balance
>5   0.836 +/- 0.017   P.  30 Ave. of 4 at 55 microns non-integrated
>6   0.74 +/- 0.04     P.  30 #5 converted to integrated by empirical fit
>7   0.76 +0.02 -0.03  P.  30 From PV assuming thermal balance (?)
>------------------------------------------------------------------------

>    In table 1 above I reproduce all of the independent albedo
>measurements or calculations I found in "Venus", chapters 3 & 20, except
>Irvine's 1968 data, which was later revised to become #1 in the table.
>I have given the mean of 4 albedos, reported over a 75 year span (#5),
>as does Moroz ("Venus, ch.3), rather than the 4 individual reports.
>This average (#5) does not appear in the graph below, because it is
>a narrow band, visual albedo (at 55 microns), and we need integrated
>albedo in order to discuss thermal balance. Table 1, #6 is the visual
>data in #5 converted to an integrated value, by empirical fit using
>a color function, and this does appear in the graph

>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>FIGURE 1: GRAPHICAL REPRESENTATION OF DATA IN TABLE 1
>------------------------------------------------------------------------

> 0.70 1   2   3   4  0.75 6   7   8   9  0.80 1   2   3   4  0.85 6   7
>  +---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+
>1             |-------------------------- * --------------------------| (S)
>2                                 |------ * ------|                     (IR)
>3                                 |-- * ------|                         (Th)
>4                      |- * -|                                          (Th)
>6 |-------------- * --------------|                                     (Fit)
>7             |---------- * ------|                                     (Th)

>------------------------------------------------------------------------
>(S)   = Derived from stellar magnitudes by comparison with Venus
>(IR)  = Derived from IR reflectance/emission
>(Th)  = Derived from radiometry assuming thermal balance
>(Fit) = Empirical fit to stellar magnitude data

>    In the graph above the numbers appear in the same order as they do in
>table 1; each data point is an "*", and the quoted 1-sigma error bars are
>shown graphically.

>    There are 6 data points here, derived in 4 different ways. Although
>the top 3 points are clearly offset from the bottom 3, it should be equally
>clear that the error bars over lap at 0.78, except for #4. Point #1 is not
>very strong, its error bars span the entire data set. The Venera thermal
>balance and PV IR (#2 & #3) agree quite well with each other, but the
>2 PV thermal balance (#4 & #7), along with the empirical fit to the
>stellar magnitude data (#6) also agree with each other, but show a lower
>value. It may be that #4 and #7 are actually the same point, in ch.20
>Taylor et al. do not consider this point, which Moroz credits to Taylor
>(1980) in ch.3, but Taylor et al. give #4 as Schofield (1982). Since
>both are PV, and evidently assuming thermal balance, they may in fact
>represent the same data, I don't know.

>    There is clearly an inconsistency in these data, to which Taylor et
>al. allude on page 658 with the statement "Clearly, the Pioneer
>measurements of emission and reflection are inconsistent with each other
>if net radiative balance applies". Of course, you can see here that they
>are also inconsistent if net radiative balance does not apply.

>    The whole point of this effort id to show that these albedo data do
>not strongly support any arguement concerning net radiative balance.
>It is not at all justified for Mr. Holden to claim that these data show
>Venus to be out of thermal balance, let alone "wildly" so. Conversely,
>it is also not justified to claim thagt these data show Venus to be
>in thermal balance either, the data are just not good enough for any
>strong claims either way. Since neither position is really supported by
>these data, Mr. Holden's claim, that "all available evidence shows Venus
>being badly out of thermal balance" stands refuted.

>------------------------------------------------------------
>Timothy J. Thompson, Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
>Secretary, Los Angeles Astronomical Society.
>Vice President, Mount Wilson Observatory Association.

Thompson is claiming that, aside from the directly measured PV albedo of .80, the book also contains a number of older readings dating from the late 1800's, one other recent value of .80, and the values derived from assuming thermal balance which Taylor mentioned, and that no one of these values is really any better than any other.

If for no other reason than the stated one of avoiding what in mathematics is called assuming a proof, you've GOT to toss the three values derived via assuming thermal balance. Values 5 and 6 represent a non-corrected and a corrected average of visual spectrum readings taken betwen 1893 and 1968, i.e. before we were able to take such readings other than from Earth, and obviously need to be tossed.

That only leaves one entirely accurate (PV), and one other modern value, both .80, i.e. the value which causes the problem for astronomers wishing to believe in thermal balance.

Thompson is, amongst other things, actually using the values derived via assuming thermal balance in an effort to PROVE thermal balance, or at least a null-hypothesis for not rejecting thermal balance.

In higher math courses, in areas involving logical proofs, if you ever use the proposition which you are trying to prove, or anything directly dependant upon it, as an assumption in your proof, then you incur a failing grade and the censure of your professor.

Thus, you would think that Thompson's article would raise howls of protest from the folk which inhabit talk.origins (the "howler-monkey" "crew"). Not so; where Thompson refrains from claiming that you actually need to average the values he notes (to avoid hellfire for too gross a misrepresentation no doubt), the crew jumps straight in:

For instance:

From: howler-monkey 1 Newsgroups: talk.origins Subject: Re: Thermal imbalance on Venus proves Velikovsky's theory Date: 30 Apr 1994 19:16:47 GMT

>...Unless you can find a specific error in the
>math the calculations below prove that a weighted average of the results gives
>more accurate results than just taking one measurement, regardless of the
>precision of the estimates.

For instance:
>From: howler-monkey 2
>Newsgroups: talk.origins
>Subject: Re: Albedo and bolometric temperature: what is being said
>Date: 08 May 1994 17:58:51 GMT

>*THE MORE MEASUREMENTS INCLUDED IN A WEIGHTED AVERAGE, THE BETTER*.

>This statement was *proven* mathematically in an earlier post...

>In the face of a proof, an argument from intuition is worse than
>useless - it's pathetic. The *only* answer to a complete, formal proof
>is to demonstrate that the proof has an error - not to whine
>incessently that the proof is counterintuitive.

>Ted> And as if that weren't bad enough in and of itself, Thompson is
>Ted> including in his average two values derived from an assumption of
>Ted> thermal equilibrium, this in an attempt to prove equilibrium.  Do
>Ted> you really wish to be associated with anything that disingenious?

>You *really* don't have a clue, do you?

For instance:

>From: howler-monkey 3

>>  The albedo of Venus: Dropped after repeatedly displaying that he
>>  doesn't understand observational data reduction. [i.e. averaging]


I counted what seemed like about 100 such posts. Basically, no treatise on the efficacy of weighted averages has anything to say about averaging albedo readings for Venus taken from Earth in the 1890's with values taken with good modern instruments from Venus orbit by the Pioneer probes (which is in fact part of what Thompson is actually doing). That's nonsense.

If Thompson ever had any qualms about the notion of averaging the values derived via assuming thermal balance with the actual direct (.80) value in order to demonstrate thermal balance, he had ample opportunity to tell all of these people they were out of line; he never did.

Worse, this basic article of Thompsons has now been enshrined as some sort of an official position paper on the Ediacara/talk.origins WWW server for people of all nations to read as they surf the net, the assumption being that all such papers on the server are devine truth.

It seems obvious to me that, at some point, intelligent people will begin to notice that sort of thing, and it may well cause embarassment for the internet generally, rather than merely for t.o./Ediacara.