Thursday 10 March 2016

133) “In direct sunlight a thermometer will read higher than another thermometer placed in the shade, but in full, direct moonlight a thermometer will read lower than another placed in the shade. If the Sun’s light is collected in a large lens and thrown to a focus point it can create significant heat, while the Moon’s light collected similarly creates no heat. In the "Lancet Medical Journal,” from March 14th, 1856, particulars are given of several experiments which proved the Moon's rays when concentrated can actually reduce the temperature upon a thermometer more than eight degrees. So sunlight and moonlight clearly have altogether different properties.”

And the fact that somebody  unnamed wrote a letter (point 133) to the Lancet (a medical journal, not astronomical) claiming to have measured a cooling effect is not evidence. It’s just a letter to a paper, the kind that anyone could send. It’s not a peer-reviewed scientific finding, it’s some crank sounding off. If you disagree, Mr Dubay, provide sound evidence.

I did wonder whether the letter to the Lancet was from another complete crank, or just from someone who didn’t know enough about experiments to control for possible confounding variables. 

For instance, did they take account of the possibility that a spot in the moonlight might be less sheltered than one in shadow, perhaps under a wall or trees? And so we would expect the temperature to be lower out in the open, where the moon also shines, without and causal connection.

In any case, in the 160 years since nobody has managed to repeat that alleged experiment. What a surprise!

If you would like to see more about ways to test his idea; read this:

Claim: water in moonlight cools faster than water not in moonlight [False]

Afterword: Daimonie tracked down the source of the letter. It was a complete crank; it was Rowbotham yet again!

1 comment:

  1. I can find no evidence of a Lancet issued "March 14th, 1856"

    It was 22nd March 1856. Maybe 1846? I see no evidence for the claim in the record.


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