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Q & A: mad meta baloney

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Most recent answer: 06/02/2011
Q:
http://www.madsci.org/
When I was moderator om MadSci website, I was asked "How is Liquid Air Made?" I explained the Tompson expansion-at-a nozzle method as used my Linde and other manufacturers My answer was rejected by a lady - one of the FOUNDERS of Mad Sci - and she told me "Liquid air is just air under prssure" I directed her to the excellent Wikipedia article and she sais "It is wrong" I resigned and they STILL write asking me to answer questions! (To which I say "OK, just send me a password!") The Uk magazine New Scientist used to fill its last pages with "questions sent in" One month an innocent soul asked "In a microwave oven why do things thin and smaller than one cm not heat up" Their "Expert" carefully explained that the microwaves were centimetres long and thus the current could not circulate to heat things that small" I wrote giving the correct facts that microwaves that penetrate heat ubiformly throughout the volume and thus the temperature reaxhed is small when the surface area per volume is very large. I was of course ignored.
- john (age 70)
Surrey, UK
A:
John- Thanks for the inside info. As you know, Madsci is far from the worst site. Usually they're pretty good. A quick search suggests that if their baloney about liquid air made it to the external site, it seems to have been removed. I also couldn't find the New Scientist quote, but that would be hard to find.

One major reason (other than plain psychopathology) that we continue to frequently update our site is that the alternatives don't look good enough. The sorts of answers you describe (whether or not they are currently on-line) are fairly typical for the sorts of mistakes that often crop up. We make mistakes like that too, but usually we catch each other, and if anybody finds the error later we fix it immediately.

Mike W.

(published on 06/02/2011)

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