What is Markowski’s Motive?


In an attempt to find participants in an experiment to test the convection notions underlying tornadogenesis I had the following conversation with Paul Markowski, a severe weather researcher with Penn State.  I think the conversation is very revealing about why there is such a lack of progress in the discipline.

From Jim McGinn:
Paul, Is it not true that the convection model of storm theory maintains the assumption that moist air (all other factors being equal) is lighter than dry air?

From Paul Markowski:
Jim, I’ve never heard of the “convection model of storm theory,” but yes, a sample of humid air is lighter than a sample of dry air, all else being equal (i.e., if pressure and temperature are the same in both samples).  It’s simply because by increasing the # of H2O molecules, you’re necessarily decreasing the # of N2 and O2 molecules.  The molecular weight of H2O is 18, whereas it’s 32 for O2 and 28 for N2.

From Jim McGinn:
Would you be interested in participating in an experiment to verify empirically whether or not moist air actually (not just theoretically) is lighter than dry air?  Your participation would be very light.  Mostly you would provide verification of procedures/results.  Your reputation is the value you would add.  Your name would be included in any journal submissions that may (or may not) result.

Procedures of experiment are fairly straightforward.  The only technical hurdles we foresee might involve finding measuring equipment sensitive enough to distinguish small number of molecules.  But you don’t have to get involved with this if you don’t want to.  Like I said, mostly you would provide verification of procedures/results.  Your reputation is the value you would add.  The goal is to produce procedures that can be easily reproduced by anybody interested.

BTW, I agree with the theoretical thinking you present above (based on ideal gas laws, Avogadro’s law, etc.).  But physicists have been clamoring along the lines that replacement of N2 and O2 may not be on a one to one basis but might actually be on a 6 to 1, 10 to 1 (or even more) basis, due to clumping of H2O molecules at the molecular level.  The basis for these claims has to do with H2O’s hydrogen bond–very obscure theoretical thinking.  But microscopes aren’t powerful enough (or flexible enough) to resolve the issue.

If you are not interested would you be able to suggest somebody else?  We are especially interested in somebody with name recognition in the discipline of Meteorology.  But even graduate students would be considered.

From Paul Markowski:
No thanks.  I’m overcommitted by about 10 projects right now.  You might try Josh Wurman at CSWR.

From Jim McGinn:
Wurman has already stated publicly that he believes Meteorology to be a discipline that has no use/need for empiricism/experimentation.

Lastly, what title would you suggest other than “convection model of storm theory,” to distinguish it from competing models?

From Paul Markowski:
I’m not even sure what “model” refers to in this context, so I’m afraid I can’t.  Sorry!

From Jim McGinn:
LOL.  I think I’d better stop asking you questions or you may forget the whole english language.


Why, you might wonder, would he be so reluctant to play a nominal role in such an experiment?  What is his motive?

The answer, I submit, can be ascertained by looking at these webpages:


You see, if the experiment doesn’t go the way he assumes (and, as somebody that has an explicit understanding of water’s hydrogen bond, I assure you it won’t) then just about everything on these two webpages must be disregarded as being part of a faulty scientific paradigm.  It all becomes irrelevant.

How would you feel if you had lost a relative in a tornado and you found out that the people who are being paid to study the phenomena had more of an interest in maintaining the illusion of expertise than they do in actually understanding and resolving the problem?

Jim McGinn

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