The still widespread (but waning) respect for academic degrees
tempt some scientists to try to arouse attention with pseudo-scientific ideas.
On the occasion of the 5th Chert Workshop (2006) at the
Naturkunde-Museum Chemnitz, I had warned against two graduated
physicists who had turned to esoterics in the early 90s. Their
presentation could not easily be judged by the
citizen and even could mislead some scientists into accepting it, with partially fatal effect (Sächs.
No fear of earth
healers, whose success is based on the belief in their abilities, are
encountered in any cultural tradition. Some people are eager to
believe, follow the advice to move the bed out of the reach of earth
rays, even if there are no such, and feel better afterwards.
Nowadays, this and similar options are turned into
business ideas by scientists, too. Their academic degree and
fumbling with equipment make them appear trustworthy. On this
esoterics of several shades can prosper in the disguise of science. For example, three contributions
by Dr. habil. Hans-Dieter
Langer, published at the
Naturkunde-Museum Chemnitz, concern damage on trees allegedly due to neutron beams coming off the ground. It is easy, with the help of
some knowledge in physics, to declare these claims absurd.
Langer's pompous strings of words,
as "physical-radiaesthetic structures with 24h- fluctuation
range" und "polygonally touching closely stacked multiple array of
neutron modes" (Veröff. Mus. Naturk.
Chemnitz, Band 21) can justly raise suspicions.
According to Langer
the neutrons are guided upward by multiple grazing reflection between
parallel crack faces in the rock, like light between two mirrors.
This is worth considering. A face serves as a mirror only if its
roughness is smaller than the size of the impinging object or the
wavelength of the incident wave. Since the neutron is 105
times smaller than the atoms of the mirror, it cannot be reflected like
a ball at a wall. What remains to be considered is a posssible
reflection as a wave. The wavelength related to every particle is
simply obtained from Planck's
constant divided by the momentum of the particle. The average velocity
of the neutrons could not be smaller than the thermal velocity related
to the temperature of the rock, which provides
a lower boundary for the average momentum. This implies an upper
boundary for the average wavelength, 10-8cm,
which is so small that the neutron wave would not be reflected at
fracture faces in the rock but would be scattered into all directions.
Hence the formation of neutron beams along faults is impossible.
Finally it can be stated that Langer's publications
on neutron beams lack any scientific basis.
Rößler still sells old issues with esoterics. He justifies this with the intention to nurture a
multitude of opinions at the museum
and with the freedom of opinon guaranteed by the constitution. Contrary
to his declared aim to launch a discussion on esoterics, he stubbornly
refuses to publish
the above comment in "Veröffentlichungen des Museums für
Naturkunde Chemnitz" under the pretense that it is an individual
opinion for which there is no right of publication.
A multitude of opinions, including esoterics, nurtured at a Museum of
History is not a bright idea since it promotes arbitrariness and is
contrary to science.
Concerning the sponsoring of esoterics disguised as science,
following statement has been issued by the parliament of Saxony:
"This dispute can only be pursued within the realm of science and
hence is subjected to the Basic Constitutional Law and the Constitution
the fraudulent nonsense is elevated to science, and since there is a
constitutional guarantee for the freedom of science, there is the same
for nonsense in the disguise of science. Such attitude has led to the
inacceptable situation that several professional scientists, who are
to expand and spread knowledge and therefore are
paid by the public, evidently tolerate the
promotion of pseudo-scientific rubbish at
Chemnitz. So it is easy to raise fear of the harmless
natural radiation among the populace.
Annotation 2020: This text is a slightly modified and shortened version
of the first one from 2009. See also Neutronotropy and reality.