Grandiose Crackpottery Proves Pi=4

Nov 16 2010 Published by under Bad Geometry, Bad Logic, Bad Math, Bad Physics

Someone recently sent me a link to a really terrific crank. This guy really takes the cake. Seriously, no joke, this guy is the most grandiose crank that I've ever seen, and I doubt that it's possible to top him. He claims, among other things, to have:

  1. Demonstrated that every mathematician since (and including) Euclid was wrong;
  2. Corrected the problems with relativity;
  3. Turned relativity into a unification theory by proving that magnetism is part of the relativistic gravitational field;
  4. Shown that all of gravitational/orbital dynamics is completely, utterly wrong; and, last but not least:
  5. proved that the one true correct value of \pi is exactly 4.

I'm going to focus on the last one - because it's the simplest illustration of both his own comical insanity, of of the fundamental error underlying all of his rubbish.

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86 responses so far

Too Crazy to Be Fun: Pi Crackpottery

Nov 04 2010 Published by under Bad Geometry, Bad Math

I always appreciate it when readers send me links to good crackpottery. But one of the big problems with a lot of the links that I get is that a lot of them are just too crazy. When you've got someone going off on a time-cube style rant, there's just no good way to make fun of them - the stuff just doesn't make enough sense to make fun of.

For example, someone sent me a really... interesting link recently, to a book by a guy who claims to have proved that \pi=3.125. Let me quote the beginning of his book, to give you an idea of what I mean. I've attempted to reproduce the formatting as well as I can, but it's frankly worse that I can figure out how to reproduce with HTML.

CONCEPTIONS OF π

One conception of π is the value 3.141... that is used for calculations, involving geometrical figures containing circles.

Another conception is that the number 3.141... is only an approximation. I interpret

π in this book as the relationship between a circle and its diameter, and not as the irrational number 3.141...

I have attempted to find a value that will result in exact calculations of circles.


SQUARING

The word “squaring” is used for the following:

A. The square with side of 4 u.l. so-called square squaring form

B. A circle with the diameter of 4 u.l., the circle squaring form

C. The only cylinder that has been produced by a square and two circles, from which come the cylinder squaring form

I identify the characteristics found in figures that I call square squaring, circle squaring and cylinder squaring and the principles behind these figures. I refer to three figures:

1. Square

2. Circle

3. Cylinder

It's not particularly easy to make fun of that, because it's so utterly and bizarrely nonsensical.

It's pretty hard to get through his drek... But he's got this way of characterizing different kinds of squares, and then different kinds of circles based on the different kinds of squares. The ways of characterizing the squares are based on screwing up units. There are three kinds of squares: squares where the number of length units in the perimeter are larger than the number of area units in the area; squares where the number of length units in the perimeter are smaller than the number of area units in the area; and squares where they're equal.

That last group contains only one element: the square who's sides have length 4. He concludes that this is a profoundly important square, and says that a square whose side-length is four of some unit is the "square squaring form" of the square. This is a really important idea to him: he goes out of his way to write a special note in extra large font:

N.B.

Squares with sides of 4 u.l. have a perimeter of 16 u.l. and an area of 16 u.a. Perimeter = 16 u.l. and area = 16 u.a. What I immediately observed was the common number for the perimeter and the area.

As you can see, we're dealing with a real genius here.

From there, he launches into a description of circles. According to him, every circle is defined by a square, where the circle is inscribed in the square. It makes no sense at all; this section, I can't even attempt to mock. It's just so damned incoherent that it's not even funny. The conclusion is that for magical reasons to be explained later, the circle with diameter 4 is special.

Then we get to the heart of the matter: what he calls "the circle squaring form". This continues to make no sense. But it's got some interesting typography. It starts with:

ln

of

the logarithm e

For no apparent reason. Then he goes on to start presenting the notation he's going to use... And to call it insane is kind. In includes two distinct definitions: "Logarithm e = log e" and "Logarithm ln of e = log ln". I have no clue what this is supposed to mean.

From there, he goes through a bunch of definitions, leading up to a set of purported equations describing the special circle related to the special square whose sides are 4 units long. What are the equations going to show us?

The formulae will define a circle that shows relation to;

  • Its diameter to its circumference and area.
  • Circles relation to its square.
  • Its relation of the shaded area that is not covered by the
    circle.
  • Finally, how many per cent a circle cover its square’s
    area and perimeter.
  • Also relations to the cylinder.

So he gets to the equations, which are defined in terms of "ln of logarithm e". His first equation, presented without explanation, is:

Q = (ln \sqrt{(e^{ln s})^2}/ln e^{ln s})^2/2

What in the hell that's supposed to mean, I don't know. He doesn't define Q. s is the length of the side of a square. Where eln s comes from, I have no idea... but he gets rid of it, replacing it with s. Apparently, this is supposed to be a meaningful step - we're supposed to learn something really important from it! He goes through a bunch of steps, ending up with "Relevant Formula: ⇒ 4Q = ( ln \sqrt{s^2 *2}/ln s)^2*2", which supposedly defines "the relationship between area, circumference, and diameter of a circle".

I'll stop here. I think by now you can see my problem. How can you make fun of this in an entertaining way? There's just nothing that I can say about this stuff beyond "huh? what in the bloody hell is he trying to say here?"

He offers a cash prize to anyone who can prove him wrong. I think he's pretty safe in not needing to worry about paying that prize out; you can't prove that something nonsensical is wrong. Yeah, sure, π=3.2 or whatever in his universe: after all, for any statement S, \bot \Rightarrow S. Hell, 4Q = ( ln \sqrt{s^2 *2}/ln s)^2*2, therefore the moon is made of green cheese!

What kills me about this is how utterly, insanely, ridiculously wrong it is... My daughter, who is in fifth grade, did experiments last year in math class where they roll a circle along a piece of paper to get its diameter, and then compare that to its length. A bunch of fourth graders can easily do this accurately enough to show that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter is around 22/7. Any attempt to actually verify his number totally fails. But it would seem that in his world, when reality conflicts with theory, reality is the one that's wrong.

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Return of a Classic: The Electromagnetic Gravity Revolution!

Sep 30 2010 Published by under Bad Math, Bad Physics

Between work, trying to finish my AppEngine book, and doing all of the technical work getting Scientopia running smoothly on the new hosting service, I haven’t had a lot of time for writing new blog posts. So, once again, I'm recycling some old stuff.

It's that time again - yes, we have yet another wacko reinvention of physics that pretends to have math on its side. This time, it's "The Electro-Magnetic Radiation Pressure Gravity Theory", by "Engineer Xavier Borg". (Yes, he signs all of his papers that way - it's always with the title "Engineer".) This one is as wacky as Neal Adams and his PMPs, except that the author seems to be less clueless.

At first I wondered if this were a hoax - I mean, "Engineer Borg"? It seems like a deliberately goofy name for someone with a crackpot theory of physics... But on reading through his web-pages, the quantity and depth of his writing has me leaning towards believing that this stuff is legit. (And as several commenters pointed out the first time I posted this, in Germany, you need a special license to be an engineer, and as a result, "Engineer" is actually really used as a title. Still seems pompous to me - I mean, technically, I'm entitled to go around calling myself Dr. Mark Chu-Carroll, PhD., but I don't generally do that.)

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The Return of a Classic: Neal Adams' Bad Physics

Sep 21 2010 Published by under Bad Physics

Between work, trying to finish my AppEngine book, and doing all of the technical work getting Scientopia running smoothly on the new hosting service, I haven't had a lot of time for writing new blog posts.

But in the process of doing my technical work around here, I was browsing through some archives, and seeing some of my old posts that I'd forgotten about. And odds are, if I forgot about it, then there are a lot of readers who've never seen it. So I'm going to bring back some of the classic old material.

For example, Neal Adams. Comic book fans will know about Neal: he's a comic book artist who worked on some of the most famous comics in the 1970s: he drew Batman, Superman, Deadman, Green Lantern, the Spectre, the X-men. More recently, he's done a lot of work in general commercial art - for example, he did the animated nasonex bee commercials a few years ago.

Adams' PMP image But he's not just an artist. No, he's so much more than that! He's also a brilliant scientist. He's much smarter than all of those eggheads with college degrees. They're struggling to build giant particle accelerators to help understand things like mass. But Neal - he's got them beat. He's figured out exactly how things work!

According to Neal, there is no such thing as gravity - it's all just pressure. People trying to figure out stuff about how gravity works are just wasting time. The earth (and all other planets) is actually a matter factory - matter is constantly created in the hollow center of the earth, and the pressure of all the new matter forces the earth to constantly expand. The constant expansion creates pressure on the surface as things expand - and that constant expansion is what creates gravity! You're standing on a point on the surface of the earth. And the earth is expanding - the ground is pushing up on you because of that expansion. You're not being pulled down towards the earth: the earth is pushing up on you.

And according to Neal, the best part is the math works!. In the original version of this post, I had a link to Neal's page with his explanation of how the math works - but he has, since then, moved most of his science stuff behind a paywall - you now need to pay Neal $20 to get to see his material, so I can't provide a direct link. But it's in a video here, and you can see the original using the Wayback Machine.

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