18 Nov 2009

Al Gore: Not So Good At Science

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Al Gore received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for giving mankind scientific advice about the earth’s climate, but how good a scientific authority is he really?

Here he is a few days ago talking with Conan O’Brian about geothermal energy.

1:24 video

Quote the Goracle:

two kilometers or so down in most places there are these incredibly hot rocks, ’cause the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees

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John Derbyshire (who majored in mathematics at University College, London) corrects the Nobel laureate.

The geothermal gradient is usually quoted as 25–50 degrees Celsius per mile of depth in normal terrain (not, e.g., in the crater of Kilauea). Two kilometers down, therefore, (that’s a mile and a quarter if you’re not as science-y as Al) you’ll have an average gain of 30–60 degrees — exploitable for things like home heating, though not hot enough to make a nice pot of tea. The temperature at the earth’s core, 4,000 miles down, is usually quoted as 5,000 degrees Celsius, though these guys claim it’s much less, while some contrarian geophysicists have posted claims up to 9,000 degrees. The temperature at the surface of the Sun is around 6,000 degrees Celsius, while at the center, where nuclear fusion is going on bigtime, things get up over 10 million degrees.

If the temperature anywhere inside the earth was “several million degrees,” we’d be a star.

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Of course, there is no real reason for surprise. The Washington Post once looked up Albert Gore’s Harvard record, and reported:

For all of Gore’s later fascination with science and technology, he often struggled academically in those subjects. The political champion of the natural world received that sophomore D in Natural Sciences 6 (Man’s Place in Nature) and then got a C-plus in Natural Sciences 118 his senior year. The self-proclaimed inventor of the Internet avoided all courses in mathematics and logic throughout college, despite his outstanding score on the math portion of the SAT (730). As was the case with many of his classmates, his high school math grades had dropped from A’s to C’s as he advanced from trigonometry to calculus in his senior year.

When John C. Davis, a retired teacher and assistant headmaster at St. Albans, was recently shown his illustrious former pupil’s college board achievement test scores, he inspected them closely with a magnifier and shook his head, chuckling quietly at the science results.

“Four eighty-eight! Terrible” Davis declared upon inspecting the future vice president’s 488 score (out of a possible 800) in physics.

“Hmmmm. Chemistry. Five-nineteen. He didn’t do too well in chemistry.”

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2 Feedbacks on "Al Gore: Not So Good At Science"

Really

what were your grades at Harvard?



JDZ

I went to Yale.



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