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Friday, April 10, 2015

Correcting History: Dyson and Einstein

World-renowned mathematical physicist Freeman Dyson recently did an interview with The Vancouver Sun regarding his views on climate change. After this interview appeared on various skeptic websites, a highly suspicious story began showing up in the comment sections regarding his interaction with Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
"I found this story about Dyson online earlier. When Dyson came to Princeton in 1947 he was dying to meet Einstein, so he went to Einstein's secretary, Helen Dukas, to make an appointment. In order to have something relevant to discuss, he got copies of Einstein's papers on unified field theory. Reading them that evening, Dyson decided the papers were crap. He couldn't face the great Einstein and tell him his papers were junk, so he said he cancelled the meeting and spent the next eight years avoiding Einstein."
I initially believed this story to be completely unsubstantiated but surprisingly it appears to have originated in a 2007 book, The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next by theoretical physicist Lee Smolin. Being unable to find anything else to substantiate this story and instead only finding contradictory evidence, I decided to contact Dyson himself. As I initially suspected this story is completely false.
"This story is a flat lie. Nothing like it ever happened. I never asked for an appointment with Einstein, never cancelled any appointment, and never avoided him. Whoever invented the story should be ashamed of himself."
- Freeman Dyson (Source: Email Correspondence)
I later notified Professor Dyson of the source and he was grateful to know who originated this myth.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Who is …and Then There's Physics?

Meet Kenny
In the beginning, a British academic with an anonymous political blog that no one read attempted to call anyone who mocked climate model validations using "retrospective predictions" as "ignorant" at the world's most viewed climate website - Watts Up With That. After crying about how the honorable Richard S. Courtney treated him, he went back to whine about it on his political blog. But since no one reads it and seeing how he had become "Addicted to Watt" he needed a new strategy. Using his extensive research education and experience he setup a new WUWT troll blog with the original idea to plagiarize the name of another WUWT troll blog.

On April 13, 2013 and only three days out from his pummeling at WUWT by Mr. Courtney the "Wotts Up With That Blog" was born! Yet, after less than 9 months of intense trolling and having the same dismal impact he did with his left-wing political blog, he changed the name of his troll blog to the oh-so-clever, "...and Then There's Physics".

So who is this anonymous academic blogger?

Meet Ken Rice, a Reader of Astronomy and Public Relations Director at the Institute for Astronomy, within the School of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh (UK).

When not trolling WUWT or whining about posting there, Ken enjoys following, "skeptics are like holocaust deniers" Caroline Lucas and the "Gay-shaded author of romantic M/M short stories and novels" Nick Thiwerspoon.

While after only 20 years as a physicist he finally took off the training wheels and published a review paper all by himself, having it accepted on September 3, 2014. Who would have believed his undoing would be linked to such an accomplishment?

Ken also appears highly obsessed with Dr. Richard Tol, likely due to the fact that Dr. Tol has over 16,000 more citations than he does.

For all those banned and trolled by Ken please feel free to contact him, as I am sure he would love to hear from you.

W. Kenneth M. Rice
Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh,
Blackford Hill, Edinburgh, UK EH9 3HJ
Phone : +44 131 6688384
Fax : +44 131 6688416
Email : wkmr@roe.ac.uk

To the left of centre
Wotts Up With That Blog
...and Then There's Physics

Twitter Accounts:
Ken Rice @wikimir
totheleftofcentre @leftofc
There's Physics @theresphysics

Ken Rice - Home Page
Ken Rice - Institute for Astronomy
Ken Rice - School of Physics & Astronomy

Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Anthony Watts and Richard Tol for their assistance.

Update: There has been some confusion about who is largely responsible for this article likely due to the acknowledgements of assistance (now reworded) from Anthony Watts and Richard Tol. Without question I am the one almost entirely responsible for all of this, as both will surely attest to (Anthony did on Twitter). Neither one had any remote idea who Ken was until after I posted my article and both had spent some time trying to find out.

Before this information was released there had been many people online guessing about who Ken was but no one had verifiable evidence to support any of their conjecture. Ken had commented using various aliases and IP addresses including from different UK universities to multiple skeptic websites, meaning it was impossible to determine who he was using just that information.

I was able to locate verifiable evidence that narrowed him down to Scotland then Edinburgh within a few days of starting this project. After a request from me, Anthony provided the most assistance saving me probably a few days of work and Richard provided an additional tip allowing for further confirmation used in this article but neither was how I uncovered who he was, which was using personal identifiable information not provided here (I have more personal information about Ken that I am withholding for privacy reasons).

In other words, I found out who he was by another method and had to come up with a way to identify him using his professional background which took much longer. Regardless, I am very grateful to both Anthony and Richard for their assistance.