Friday, 10 July 2009

Robert William Wood, Physicist.

Was lurking on the Wattsupwiththat comment thread, having a read of all the comments and trying to understand the implications of the articles when my attention was taken by a name and a web reference. The name was of an American Physicist, Robert William Wood; quite famous in the early 20th century for being a fakebuster extraordinary. A sort of early 20th century cross between Richard Feynman and James Randi.

One of his most famous exposures was exposing the inventor of 'N-Rays' Blondlet, but in another experiment, written up in 1909, held the following passage;
The following article was published in the Philosophical
Magazine in 1909 (Vol. 17, pp. 319−320): XXIV.
Note on the Theory of the Greenhouse By Professor R. W. Wood (Communicated by the Author)
THERE appears to be a widespread belief that the comparatively high temperature produced within a closed space covered with glass, and exposed to solar radiation, results from a transformation of wave−length, that is, that the heat waves from the sun, which are able to penetrate the glass, fall upon the walls of the enclosure and raise its temperature: the heat energy is re−emitted by the walls in the form of much longer waves, which are unable to penetrate the glass, the greenhouse acting as a radiation trap. I have always felt some doubt as to whether this action played any very large part in the elevation of temperature. It appeared much more probable that the part played by the glass was the prevention of the escape of the warm air heated by the ground within the enclosure. If we open the doors of a greenhouse on a cold and windy day, the trapping of radiation appears to lose much of its efficacy.
Which led me to this academic conversation between a person calling him (Or her) self 'Tadchem' and a gentleman by the name of Edward Green. The key phrase being; "A CO2 molecule doesn't know up from down."

Now forgive me for being terribly thick if my understanding of the physics is imperfect, but this would mean that any reflection of electromagnetic radiation of sunlight by CO2 molecules (Or any 'greenhouse gas') would go all over the place, (Mostly sideways or back into space) not just reflected down to the surface of the Earth. Once past the frequency saturation point of any molecule, the net effect would surely be for any such gases to reflect as much energy from the Earth's atmosphere as they absorb. Result; no net warming effect. Huzzah! We're saved! We're not all going to boil to death!

Man made Climate Change is averted. Good grief Moriarty. Stick another steak on that Barbecue and fill up the pickup. I've suddenly gone all warm and fuzzy.

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