• Lovelock and emergentism

    In James Lovelock’s 2006 work, The Revenge of Gaia, he concludes the chapter entitled What is Gaia? with a description of the regulator in James Watt’s steam engine, and the following argument:

    “Simple working regulators, the physiological systems in our bodies that regulate our temperature, blood pressure and chemical composition…are all outside the sharply-defined boundary of Cartesian cause-and-effect thinking. Whenever an engineer like Watt ‘closes the loop’ linking the parts of his regulator and sets the engine running, there is no linear way to explain its working. The logic becomes circular; more importantly, the whole thing has become more than the sum of its parts. From the collection of elements now in operation, a new property, self-regulation, emerges – a property shared by all living things, mechanisms like thermostats, automatic pilots, and the Earth itself.

    “The philosopher Mary Midgley in her pellucid writing reminds us that the twentieth century was the time when Cartesian science triumphed…Life, the universe, consciousness, and even simpler things like riding a bicycle, are inexplicable in words. We are only just beginning to tackle these emergent phenomena, and in Gaia they are as difficult as the near magic of the quantum physics of entanglement.”

    Now Lovelock is an elegant and fascinating author, but here his thought is lazy, sloganistic and poorly-informed. There are multiple confusions here, and such confusions are endemic amongst a number of writers and journalists who take an interest in science, so let’s try and clear them up.

    Firstly, we encounter the slogan that a system can be ‘more than the sum of its parts’. Unfortunately, the authors who make this statement never seem to conjoin the assertion with a definition of what they mean by the phrase ‘sum of its parts’. Most scientists would say that the sum of the parts of a system comprises the parts of the system, their properties, and all the relationships and interactions between the parts. If you think that there is more to a whole system than its parts, their properties and the relationships between the parts, then that amounts to a modern form of vitalism and/or dualism, the notion that living things and/or conscious things depend upon non-physical elements. Calling it ’emergentism’ is simply a way of trying to dress up a disreputable idea in different language, rather in the manner than creationism was re-marketed as ‘intelligent design’.

    Assertions that a system can be more than the sum of its parts are frequently combined with attacks on so-called ‘reductionistic’ science. Anti-reductionistic authors can often be found pointing out that whole systems possess properties which are not possessed by any of the parts of which that system is composed. However, if such authors think this is somehow anti-reductionistic, then they have profoundly mis-understood what reductionistic science does. Scientists understand that whole systems possess properties which are not possessed by any of the parts; that’s precisely because the parts engage in various relationships and interactions. A primary objective of reductionistic science is to try and understand the properties of a whole system in terms of its parts, and the relationships between the parts: diamond and graphite, for example, are both composed of the same parts, (carbon atoms), but what gives diamond and graphite their different properties are the different arrangements of the carbon atoms. Explaining the different properties of carbon and diamond in terms of the different relationships between the parts of which they are composed is a triumph of so-called ‘reductionistic’ science.

    The next confusion we find in Lovelock’s argument is the notion that twentieth-century science was somehow linear, or Cartesian, and non-linear systems with feedback somehow lie outside the domain of this world-view. Given the huge body of twentieth-century science devoted to non-linear systems, this will come as something of surprise to many scientists. For example, in General Relativity, (that exemplar of twentieth-century science), the field equations are non-linear. Lovelock might even have heard the phrase ‘matter tells space how to curve, and space tells matter how to move’; a feedback cycle, in other words! Yet General Relativity is also a prime exemplar of determinism: the state of the universe at one moment in time uniquely determines its state at all other moments in time. There is clearly no reason to accept the implication that cause-and-effect must be confined to linear chains; non-linear systems with feedback are causal systems just as much as linear systems.

    It is amusing the note that Lovelock concludes his attack on so-called ‘Cartesian’ science with an allusion to quantum entanglement. Clearly, quantum entanglement is a product of quantum physics, that other exemplar of twentieth century physics. So, in one and same breath, twentieth century science is accused of being incapable of dealing with emergentism, yet also somehow yields the primary example of emergentism!

    Authors such as Lovelock, Midgley, and their journalistic brethren, are culpable here of insufficient curiosity and insufficient understanding. The arguments they raise against twentieth-century science merely indicate that they have failed to fully understand twentieth-century science and physics.

    Source: mccabism

  • Want To Make Your Car Go Faster? 10 Ways To Enhance A Cars Performance

    We love cars, hence why we have this cool cars blog to share our passion.

    One of the most popular questions we are often asked is what can you do to make your car go faster. Well, to help answer this, here are 10 tips to enhance you cars performance:

    1. Install An Air Induction System

    Your car gets its power by mixing air with fuel, and then burning it to produce horsepower. The more cool and dense air that your engine can pull in, the more power it will produce, and the faster your car will drive. An air induction system allows the engine to pull in more cool air. This system is bolted directly onto the car and can be installed in one afternoon.

    2. Upgrade To An Electric Fan

    The fan is needed to draw air through the radiator to keep your vehicle’s engine cool. Most older cars come with a mechanical fan that uses the engine’s power and a fan belt to run. These fans draw in a significantly large amount of horsepower from the engine, which will prevent your vehicle from driving faster. Replace the mechanical fan with an aftermarket electric fan to free up some of that horsepower so you can drive your car faster.

    3. Upgrade Your Carburetor

    A carburetor mixes gasoline and air together so it becomes a vapor that can be burned inside the engine. It’s typically found on older vehicles. Newer cars and trucks are equipped with fuel injection, and don’t have a carburetor under the hood. A great way to increase the speed of your vehicle is to upgrade from a 2-barrel carburetor to a 4-barrel carburetor. When you make this upgrade, you’ll also have to install a new intake manifold. It can be a little expensive to make this upgrade, but the increase in speed will be very noticeable.

    4. Convert To An Electric Fuel Pump

    Mechanical fuel pumps are known to rob power from a car’s engine, thus not allowing a vehicle to reach it’s optimum speed. When you convert to an electric fuel pump, more power will reach your drive wheels and your car will go faster. Keep in mind that an electric fuel pump and fan will draw extra power from your batter and alternator, so you’ll want to upgrade those also.

    5. Tune the Racechip

    Tuning the racechip in your vehicle will make it accelerate faster, provide safer overtaking, and has a more direct response as you maneuver your car. When the Racechip is removed, all the software remains in place but there is no evidence left behind.

    6. Convert To Fuel Injection

    If you have a 4-barrel carburetor but your car still isn’t fast enough, you can always upgrade to fuel injection. Since fuel injection is electronic and not mechanical, it is more precise. Your car will have better fuel economy and your car’s engine will have more horsepower.

    7. Improve Exhaust System Efficiency

    The way exhaust leaves your vehicle’s engine is just as important as getting more air and fuel into the engine, when you’re looking at ways to increase performance and speed. One thing you can do is replace the exhaust manifolds with “Headers” to improve the weakest link in the exhaust system. Don’t install a second tail pipe on your car unless you also install a second catalytic converter. The only way to see better performance is to have a true dual exhaust system. Just make sure you check with the local laws because most areas have rules governing the amount of noise a vehicle can produce. These laws include specific information about removing catalytic converters.

    8. Install A Turbo Charger

    Turbo chargers are stock on most diesel engines, but they can also be used on gasoline engines to improve performance. This upgrade will also require you to modify the exhaust system and air intake system, so it can get pricey and can be time consuming.

    9. Add Nitrous Oxide To Your Air And Fuel

    Adding nitrous oxide to the air and fuel mixture inside your car’s engine makes it more explosive and significantly increases horsepower. You can get a NOS system for any type of car or truck. If you’re looking a big punch, then choose a NOS system that has several different points that inject nitrous oxide into the intake manifold. Make sure you are familiar with the laws surrounding nitrous oxide in your state.

    10. Install A Supercharger

    A supercharger compresses the air fuel mixture to make it denser, and then basically shoves it down the engine’s throat. The installation of a supercharger will instantly add a huge amount of power to your engine in an instant. They also look pretty impressive, since traditional superchargers stick out of the hood. There are several different types of superchargers to fit all types of engines. Some are so powerful, they can only be used on V-8 engines. Today, there are even low-profile superchargers that stay nicely tucked away under the hood. There are many laws surrounding superchargers, so make sure you can legally install one in your vehicle before you buy one.

    Continue Reading…

  • Adrian Newey and unsteady CFD

    The September 2014 issue of Motorsport Magazine contains an interesting article in which Adrian Newey discusses his favourite F1 cars. For disciples of modern F1 aero design, however, two statements catch the attention.

    With respect to the 2009 Red Bull RB5, Adrian remarks that “we had a really great design group. We did some good research, understood the flow physics and the packaging.” Then, recalling the research conducted for the exhaust-blown area around the spat on the 2011 RB7, Newey states that “it was very clear that the area around the rear tyres was critical…Then the whole research started developing…from steady-state CFD to tyre-dependent CFD and we worked with Renault to understand how the pulsing and acoustics of the exhaust worked.”

    This suggests that the recent aerodynamic success of the Red Bull has been based upon using unsteady CFD to understand the flow physics in that complex area around the spat. When the car pitches and rolls, not only does the rear ride-height change, but the rear tyre sidewall deforms, and given the sensitivity of the flow in the spat area, this sidewall deflection can crucially affect the performance of the diffuser.

    The phrase ‘tyre-dependent CFD’ could, in isolation, merely imply that a set of steady CFD simulations were conducted, each representing a different degree of roll. However, by placing this phrase in opposition to ‘steady-state CFD’, it implies that Red Bull conducted unsteady CFD simulations which represented the roll of the car, including the time-evolution of the tyre sidewall profile.

    Having said that, even if the solid geometry remains fixed, there is ample reason to believe that unsteady CFD simulations are indispensable for understanding the flow physics of a Formula 1 car.

    Steady-state CFD generates time-averaged images of the flow, and these can be misleading, both because they smear away time-dependent fluctuations in the flow, but also because the time-averaging procedure sometimes generates fictional flow structures which don’t actually exist in the any of the instantaneous flow fields.

    The image on the left, taken from Jacques Heyder-Bruckner‘s PhD research on wing-wheel interaction, vividly illustrates how the time-averaged image (top) smears away much of the structure associated with the breakdown of a front-wing endplate vortex (bottom).

    The fictional potential of steady-state CFD is exemplified by the common wisdom used to explain the function of a Gurney flap. This claims that there is a stable, counter-rotating vortex pair formed behind the Gurney. As a case in point, the All-American Racers website proffers the following explanation:

    “At the trailing edge, the airflow immediately beneath the wing rolls into a small anti-clockwise vortex behind the Gurney. Immediately above this, a second small vortex, rotating in the opposite direction, is formed by the airflow traveling above the wing as it passes over the gurney’s lip. together these two vortices form a small separation bubble – a rotating mass of air removed from the main flow – which is somewhat taller overall than the gurney itself.

    In clearing this separation bubble, the airflow’s vertical deflection is increased and hence downforce increases. Additionally, separation of airflow from the wing’s lower surface is postponed, allowing a higher angle of attack to be used before stall, which further enhances the wing’s effectiveness.”

    In reality, there is no such stable vortex pair. Research conducted by David Jeffrey and David Hurst at the turn of the century established that the flow behind a Gurney is intrinsically unsteady, consisting of the continual alternate shedding of discrete vortices, which convect downstream (see the PIV images below, obtained by Jonathan Zerihan, which depict the vorticity contours associated with a Gurney flap in ground-effect at four different ride-heights). The process is not dissimilar to that associated with the von Karman vortex street behind a bluff body:

    “The first stage in this shedding cycle begins as the separating shear layer on one side of the body rolls up to form a vortex. As it does so, it draws the separating shear layer over from the other side of the body. This second shear layer contains vorticity of opposing sign, and as it crosses the wake centerline it cuts off the supply of vorticity to the shear layer that is rolling up. At this point, the vortex is shed and moves downstream, while the shear layer on the opposite side starts to roll up, repeating the process.

    With the Gurney flap the offsurface edge provides a fixed separation point for the pressure-surface shear layer, and this interacts with that separating from the suction surface to form a vortex street, in a manner similar to other bluff bodies.

    To understand the flow physics in such circumstances, it necessary to compile a sequence of instantaneous flow images, (a storyboard, if you will). Studying the frozen and often fictional images generated by steady-state CFD simply doesn’t cut the mustard.

    Source: mccabism

  • All eyes on Austin as MotoGP touches down in the USA

    All eyes on Austin as MotoGP touches down in the USA

    When the fans arrived at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas last year, little did they know that they were about to play host to what would become a hatrick of victories in the USA for Marc Marquez in his rookie MotoGP season with the superfast Spaniard securing his first victory on American soil from his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa. Fast forward to 2014 and reigning MotoGP Champion comes to Austin on the back of a thrilling victory against Movistar Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi.

    While Marquez will be reliving his winning strategy from last year, Rossi will aim to improve on his sixth place finish and back up his stunning pace under the floodlights in Qatar three weeks ago. Pedrosa also comes into the race off a third place finish in the first round and the Spaniard was unlucky not to have won the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas last year after leading the race for 12 laps last year.

    Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing

    Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing

    Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

    Jorge Lorenzo will be focused on getting points on the board after crashing out of the first round while in the lead for the Movistar Yamaha team. Lorenzo has an improved YZR-M1 this year but the two-time MotoGP Champion is still struggling to get to grips with the 2014 Bridgestone rubber but despite this a third place finish here last year will give him something positive to focus on.

    Continue Reading…

  • Yamaha heads to the USA for the GP of the Americas

    After a two-week break, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP is on its way for the second round of the season: the Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, on the 13th of April.

    The 2014 season may have only just started, but the GP riders have already displayed some intense racing at the Losail circuit in Qatar. The first race of the season was full of action and drama, a preview of what is … Keep reading

    Special thanks to: motorsport.com