“Ant colony optimisation” for wind farms

“Ant colony optimisation” for wind farms. (May 4, 2011) Anthony Watts makes another ‘thinking is stupid’ blog post and his free-thinking readers scramble to match his wit.

Anthony found a University of Adelaide press release about increasing wind farm productivity using evolutionary modeling. The researcher happens to mention ant colonies as natural example of achieving efficiency that we can emulate with incrementally optimized simulations.

Here’s the hilarious trigger for Anthony’s derision:

“Ant colony optimisation” uses the principle of ants finding the shortest way to a source of food from their nest.

“You can observe them in nature, they do it very efficiently communicating between each other using pheromone trails,” says Dr Neumann. “After a certain amount of time, they will have found the best route to the food – problem solved. We can also solve human problems using the same principles through computer algorithms.”

Isn’t improving a technology, any technology, a worthwhile thing? This kind of gleeful ignorance, and the vapid enthusiasm with Anthony’s readers join in, reveals a disheartening narrow-mindedness.

Environmentalist marries Gaia in E-ceremony

Environmentalist marries Gaia in E-ceremony“. As reported in the Huffington Post, someone has staged a mock “wedding” with the Earth. A perfect target for Anthony Watts’ searing scientific mind! “There’s no mention at HuffPo if Earth was a willing partner or if it was a shotgun wedding.

Good one, Anthony!


What really goes on at COP16 in Cancun

What really goes on at COP16 in Cancun“. Hey, there are amateur environmentalist PR events at the COP16 UN climate conference in Cancun! I though amateurs were the best scientists around. Why is Anthony sneering now?

Of course its politics that really motivate Anthony Watts’ readers, so they dig in with gusto.

Tempest in a teapot: International team of scientists describes swirling natural phenomena

Tempest in a teapot: International team of scientists describes swirling natural phenomena“. There’s nothing as quite as fun as making ignorant fun of scientists, is there Anthony? In this post Anthony Watts draws attention to scientists using swirling fluids to model vortices. How crazy is that?

Anthony only refers to a press release and chooses to illustrate his post with a photo of a tea-cup. His commenters continue the downward intellectual journey.

The actual paper in Physical Review Letters, titled Finite-Size Effects Lead to Supercritical Bifurcations in Turbulent Rotating Rayleigh-Bénard Convection, used laboratory cylinders to model circulation. From the press release:

Ahlers and his team discovered a new unexpected phenomenon that was not known before for turbulent flows like this.

The authors showed that their experimental findings are in keeping with a theoretical model similar to the one first developed by Vitaly Lazarevich Ginzburg and Lev Landau in the theory of superconductivity. That same model is also applicable to other areas of physics such as pattern formation and critical phenomena.

Oh Anthony, so quick to mock knowledge!