Orbit Around Sun Shrinking?

draft – under construction – jan 21, 2010, 12:25 am

it turns out that this discussion requires an assumption about how the earth got formed.  although i can’t find a source for it, i seem to remember from school or somewhere the idea that the sun’s turbulence sent out hot stuff that cooled when it got out into space and into orbit.  that’s fine, but, to consider how such an orbit is formed and whether and when orbits perpetuate or fall, and why, there’s another level of detail needed about location within the sun of the origin of the hot stuff and the direction it started out in when the storm or explosion or disturbance or eruption or whatever sent it flying out of the sun and eventually into orbit.  as our amateur thinking-it-through proceeded,  the following expression showed up way down deep in this page.  this expression turns out to be a very good interim assumption and description to use for the rest of the discussion …

…  ah, and this picture of the gas/dust/earth cloud being set in cross-solar-radius motion from an off-solar-radius and outside-solar-center position within the sun also explains why the earth’s orbit is an ellipse and not a circle …

… but that’s getting ahead of ourselves …  where this page began was …


Could global warming be, in part, due to the earth’s orbit contracting very slowly?


The earth revolves — orbits — around the sun every year.

Every year, at latitudes above and below the equator, summers are hotter and winters are colder.

Is summer hotter than winter because of the varying distance between the earth and the sun?

If so, is that difference in distance due to the tilt of the earth’s axis?  or due to the elliptical vs. circular shape of the earth’s orbit?  or both?

Is the earth’s orbit elliptical?

If it’s elliptical and not circular, do the temperatures along the equator vary over the course of the year too?

If the earth’s orbit is elliptical and not circular, and if the temperatures at the equator do vary with time of year, that would suggest the distance from the sun matters for temperature of the earth.

Why wouldn’t distance from the sun mattering to temperature be obvious?  Maybe it is.  Does it matter we’re dealing with radiant heat, not conductive heat … not sure …



Ice Ages

Nice timeline

That NOAA/NCDC government site has a chart that suggests people have been on earth for at least 300,000 years.  It also says the most recent ice ages happened around 18,000 years ago but have been happening on and off for much longer.  What they mean by ice age is that the glacial coverage increases to some maximum before receding.

How does that fit with global warming?  Maybe it doesn’t.  Let’s see … if earth was formed from hot gases that cooled, cooled some more, cooled some more, kept cooling until it reached the point of ice ages coming and going, and now hasn’t had another ice age for 18,000 years.  And the glacial sheets not only aren’t increasing, they’re receding so far that the north pole melts and doesn’t refreeze like it used to …

… on the other hand, the cooling maybe was due to being in cold outer space … is outer space cold?  … assume it is … to swirling gases flying away from hot sun … the outer space around it is cold … the radiant heat from the sun gets lower as distance increases?  i think that’s right.  linearly with distance or with square of distance? … check it …

so two things are happening when the earth is being created and pulled into orbit …

one is the swirling gases flying away from the sun slow down due to sun’s gravity

second is the swirling gases get additional heat from sun’s radiation while being cooled by the cold of outer space …


one problem is that assumes the swirling gases came flying out of the sun … not sure that’s what the “accretion” of gases and dust and planetoids and stuff of big bang theory are saying … where did i get the impression the dust and gases that became earth came from the sun?


stationary sun necessary for earth to go into orbit?

yes.  um, wait … no.  not necessary for sun to be stationary, especially since it’s SO big compared to the dust, gas, and eventual solid/liquid that (according to one possible view of how earth was created) became earth

also, for the earth to go into orbit *around* the sun and not simply go away and come right back *into* the sun, the sun itself would probobly have to be  moving, not stationary, when the swirling gas and dust that becomes the earth went flying away from the sun … jmdp, ac, rs, and rs pal, plus jb, ng, and others, but not ja and wb … agree … hm.. but all these amateur astronomic physicists then consider the possibility the direction of the vector, of the motion of the gas and dust version of earth, caused by the storm or eruption or explosion that, according to one possible view of  how earth created, sent gaseous dusty earth out from sun, might be, not from the absolute center of the sun and along the lines of the radius of the sun, but from some place outside the center of the sun and not on a radius of the sun, sent/accelerated with a vector component  *across* the sun’s radius, which, when combined with the gravitational force of the sun, which would, at first, when still inside or still near the sun, be in direction from all the points of the sun’s mass, that gravitational force being overcome by the force of the storm/eruption/explosion that creates the dust/gas/earth cloud, but, with increasing distance, the direction of the sun’s gravitational force would aggregate to being in vector direction in line with the sun’s radius, would begin to pull the gas/dust/earth mass *across* that radius and not just back down along that radius, all of which would allow the gas/dust/cooling/solidifying earth mass to start to curve *around* the sun into an orbit, even if the sun were not moving, even if the sun were stationary …  ah, and this picture of the gas/dust/earth cloud being set in cross-solar-radius motion from an off-solar-radius and outside-solar-center position within the sun also explains why the earth’s orbit is an ellipse and not a circle … the huge mass of the sun’s points of mass all around the gas/dust/earth cloud is all around it as it initially makes its way toward the edge of the circle, and when it gets outside the circle (it’s more a gradient than a sharp crisp line, but thinking of it as a line works for purposes of this discussion), it’s still close to all that mass of the sun, and, since gravitational force is proportional to the square of the distance between the two bodies in question, the gravitational force is HUGE, which pulls the dust/gas/earth ball into a tight initial half-circle, no, not that much, but into a tight initial short arc, around the sun, which becomes the short loop of the dust/gas/earth’s first transit of its elliptical orbit, and, as distance from the sun increases linearly and the gravitational force falls off as the square of distance, the dust/gas/earth ball is able to keep flying away from the sun to create the long portion of its first transit of its elliptical orbit, and, since the gravitational force keeps dropping but isn’t zero, that force keeps chipping away at the gas/dust/earth’s velocity, slowing it’s vector speed in the direction away from the sun but not slowing the speed across the radial line between the earth and sun, eventually bringing the now cooling dust/gas/liquid/earth back along the inbound leg of the long elliptical loop of its first orbital transit around the sun, and, as distance decreases, gravitational force increases as a square of distance change, and the dust/gas/liquid/earth gets pulled up closer to the sun to complete the short elliptical side of its first orbital transit around the sun and to begin the short loop of its second elliptical orbital transit of the sun, and then repeat, cool down some more, repeat, cool down some more, repeat, gas/dust/liquid/solid, repeat, cool down some more, …

… and here’s the big question … does the elliptical orbit get established with close-to-sun and far-from-sun ellipse radii that are constant? … or do those near miniumum and far maximum elliptical distances from the sun get larger for a while, as elliptical cycles of decreasing and increasing gravitational force somehow slow the increase in elliptical size? .. and then, after reaching peak size, begin to contract the ellipse? … and does anything else, like atmospheric-to-outer-space friction, or earth-ether friction, slow the velocity that keeps the orbiting mass away from the orbited mass … can’t quite visualize the impact of the vector math along the various portions of the elliptical path, and how that math might slow “overall” velocity needed to stay in orbit and not fall out of orbit, that, of course, assuming “vector math”, that is such an excellent, accurate, and even precise and complete approximation for many and most and almost all things we think about in physical reality, but maybe even “vector math” and “force as vector equals mass times acceleration as a vector” have their validity ranges? …

…  also, the gaseous and dust mixture at that point in time in that area of the sun’s own gaseous/dust mass was different from the mix in the areas that created the other planets, which is why our particular mix of elements gave rise to our kind of life and the other planets have other elements that don’t support our kind of life … the other possibility is that the speed of our planet’s exit from the sun placed us into an orbit far enough away to not be too hot for creating or sustaining our kind of life, and not too far away to be too cold for creating and sustaining our kind of life, even if the mix of elements in all the expelled solar dust and gas clouds were the same …

here’s a site that gets into the issue of ellipses and elliptical orbits.  turns out, according to this site, the earth’s orbit is an ellipse, but it’s the type of ellipse that’s almost a circle

… acSez xprts … vector and ellipse math say, if velocity is less than escape velocity (remembering that, in physics and unlike in everyday talk, velocity is not just speed, but a combination of speed and direction), and if friction (from atmosphere or space/ether) is zero, the orbit should be perpetual … the orbit shape, gravitational force, and velocity of the orbiting item will reach an equilibrium and the orbit go on forever … but these are all concepts, approximations of reality, with ranges of validity … if, in fact, earth’s near-circular elliptical orbit is very very very very slowly contracting, that would mean one or more of the assumptions or concepts is outside its validity range in this situation … oh, and another assumption so far in this discussion is that the only gravitational and vector math and ellipse math actors involved here are the sun and the earth … standard gravitational theory holds that everything in space exerts mutual mass-and-distance-related gravitational force on everything else in space, and the motions and positions we see are the combination of all those mutual attractions … so, if earth’s ellipse is contracting, the “real reason” is “because it is” … 🙂 … true, actually … think about it … but, the “reason” in the sense of our concepts of “cause” and “effect”, and our math and astrophysics concepts will be, not outside-validity range vector math, ellipse math, or gravitational theory, but “because” either (a) outer space “ether” does present a friction or (b) gravitational forces from inside or outside our solar system make very very small differences.

… and back to orginal question … the why of global warming … man-made hydrocarbon atmospheric effects might be small, but, if the earth’s elliptical orbit is contracting even a little, or even if it’s not contracting but earth has always been on some sort of fragile edge of a delicate thermal balance, then the small effect of man-made emissions … and maybe also … i wonder how much man-made heat our energy use and existence creates … plus any gradual convection/conduction heating from the interior of the earth …

… we’re back to the idea that, of all the factors, there’s only one we can have an effect on, actually, two now, hydorcarbon emissions and generation of heat by man, and the possibility that the man-made element is the critical increment that tips things, or the orbit contraction and heating from interior were already tipping or just about to tip, and our man-made contribution added to the tip or was the straw that broke the camel’s back precipitation of the tip …


… “net net”, as the bottom-line businesspeople like to say (profits that remain after or “net” of expense and after or “net” of taxes) … or “at the end of the day”, as others like to say to introduce extracting the essence of the argument … since there were a lot of ice ages, and then none for 18,000 years — and, not only no ice age, but, quite the contrary, north pole melting much much further than normal each summer, in fact, reportedly, if i’m not mistaken, melting completely away and not refreezing as much, and maybe in a few years, not refreezing at all (adding to santa claus’ troubles … a little dark comedy as we pass thru this argument), and with glaciers going away and not coming back, and hotter temps in a lot of places, and ocean hurricane energy levels up — i’d be inclined to consider a combination of slow orbital contraction, slow heating from the earth’s interior, and slight, but important, man-made atmospheric alterations trapping natural and man-made heat and slight, but important, man-generated heat to be the most useful concept for thinking about and explaining the global warming situation.

silvershoes ( that’s not part of the discussion/analysis/argument here … just a location tag for Ctrl-F searching)

ss1.  why do we think the force of the sun pulling the earth out of its inertial tangential straight line path into all the arcs and curves of the elliptical path doesn’t have some sort of effect that decreases the earth’s velocity? … maybe because we don’t see it, can’t measure it, in our normal everyday situations … but, if the earth’s ellipse *is* contracting very slowly, and if there is no earth&atmosphere/outerSpaceEther friction, and if gravitational effects from all the other stuff in space coming and going don’t cause the contraction, then maybe there’s a very very small speed reduction effect that occurs when a force causes a change in an orbiting object’s direction … that’s one …

ss2.  the above link about ellipses and elliptical orbits says the eccentricity measure of the earth’s elliptical orbit is very small, less than .02, which means the earth’s elliptical orbit is almost a perfect circle.  so what’s that mean for the winter/summer seasonal effects? … let’s see … that’s opens up another discussion of the distance-from-sun effect on earth temperatures … but first …

ss3.  that opens a new question of how the tilt of the earth’s rotation axis is oriented with respect to the plane of the earth’s revolutional/orbital plane, which part of earth is facing sun at various points around the orbital loop, whether those same sides of earth are facing sun at the same points in all loops/transits/orbits made around sun, what means about north/south hemisphere distances at various points in the orbit …

ss4.  the idea is to try to see how much difference in distance from the sun creates the familiar winter/spring/summer/fall seasonal temperature differences each year, see if that difference in distance is small, and, if it is, take note that small changes/decreases in distance from the sun can cause rather interesting temperature differences, not only annually due to earth revolution around the sun, but maybe also to any very slow contraction of the earth’s orbital ellipse …

ss5.  so what do we think we already know about the tilt of the earth’s rotational axis?  well, aren’t we told that the north pole points to polaris, the north star?  (and we’re told the stars on the outer edge of the big dipper constellation point at it too:) … although from some theoretical viewpoints, the faraway stars are always in motion like the rest of the universe, from more everyday viewpoints, and for ship navigation, and probobly ok for this discussion of earth’s axis tilt, we can assume the faraway Polaris north star is a fixed point in space.  if we’re using that perspective, may as well at least start out considering sun to be stationary as well …  use that assumption until and unless it creates problems … and further assume polaris is SO far away that its distance from, not only the earth, but from the earth, sun, and entire solar system is SO great that even the size of the sun and our solar system are insignificantly small in comparison (that “seeming to approach being infinitely large vs. , by comparison, seeming to approach being infinitely or infinitesimally small” relationship and assumption is the basis of celestial navigation used by seafarers from earliest times and even in modern computerized satellite navigation systems … the night sky above us looks like a sphere, a “celestial sphere,” like a large domed room with stars painted on it, like in a planetarium, but we know, not because we can see it, but because we’ve been told,  that some of those stars, those points of light, are far away, some are very far away, some are very very far away, and some are so VERY FAR AWAY it would take millions of years travelling at the speed of light to get there … anyway, when things are far enough way compared to the sizes and distances that we’re dealing with closer to home, the far away stuff behaves like fixed points in space, so, for all practical purposes, we assume they’re fixed in locations and treat them and use them as such …) … which brings us back to the tilt of the earth’s axis …

the tilt of the earth’s rotational axis …

ss6.  actually, though the “fixed point in spaced” and “north star-pointing axis of rotation” issues were interesting to revisit, we actually don’t need them for the question of “does much earth temperature change result from a small change in earth-to-sun distance?” … why? … because we already know the two reasons for sun-earth distance changes are (a) the axis tilt and (2) the ellliptical orbit radius difference and we already know those two differences are pretty small.  … oh, man … wait a minute …

been assuming winter/summer temp diff caused by axis tilt (which is right) and that it’s the diff in earth-sun distance of the tilt that makes the temp difference … actually, angle of sun (more or less directly overhead), effect of that angle on length of day, length of time area gets any sun, and effect of angle on how much radiation-attenuating atmosphere the sunlight has to go through, might be much  more important than the distance diff caused by the axis tilt.  this possibility is supported by the fact (we’re assuming it’s a fact) that north/south winters and north/south hemisphere summers are similar vs. north hem being more or less severe than south hem every year, …. aaah … too many variables again … let’s google around and see if anything persuasive exists about where in the eccentricity < .02 elliptical orbit path the earth is in for winter, summer, etc, and whether it’s always that way every year … maybe we’ll find that or maybe we’ll find something good we weren’t looking for and didn’t know was there …

yep, kepler’s laws, perihelion, aphelion … all look interesting in this site, same site as above … who provides this site, anyway? … ucar, ncar … two high-powered, university-supported not-for-profit organizations, one is university formed from combining support from other universities … both funded by National Science Foundation … pretty good source we stumbled into via googling …


anyway, this perihelion/aphelion page has good next stuff to consider …


“You might guess that Earth is warmer at perihelion because it is closer to the hot Sun. You might think that our seasons are caused by Earth moving closer to the Sun and further away, but that is NOT true! Perihelion, when Earth is closest to the Sun, happens in January. That is the middle of winter in the Northern Hemisphere! The real reason for our seasons is that Earth is tilted a bit.”   Ok.  That’s the data point we were looking for.

here’s the ucar’s “reason for our seasons” page

that was the “elementary” version.  here’s the “advanced” version with  more detail:

ss7.  ok, so i think that blows up the “if the orbital ellipse is slowly contracting it may be a contributing cause of global warming” idea … or does it? … [ss sez it does not.  sez, if ellipse is slowly collapsing, then both hemispheres get more radiant heat to absorb all year round, so there! ok :)] let’s see … let’s slow down here a moment … it says perihelion, earth closest to sun, happens in January, middle of northern hemisphere winter, north tilted away from sun … aphelion, greatest distance from sun, presumably 6 months later, july, is north hem’s summer, north tilted toward sun …

ss8.  well, one thing that says, one previous question that answers, one unknown variable that removes, one VERY interesting coincidence … wonder if it’s right … the coincidence is almost too good … is that the extreme close position comes at same time as one of the max north/south tilts toward/away from the sun… i mean, instead of being north/south tilted away from or toward the sun when earth is closest and furthest to and from the sun, it could have been earth tilted crossways  across sun (axis tilt in plane perpendicular to the sun radial plane that’s, in turn, perpendicular to the earth’s orbital plane … ) at the nearest/furthest points …

(those last few points would be more clear with a simple picture, but not now … not that big a point … but picture the orbit of the earth on a flat table, a big flat piece of cardboard slicing vertically through the sun, through the earth, and including the line between the centers of the earth and sun … then picture another piece of cardboard slicing vertically through the earth perpendicular to the first piece, then tilt the earth’s axis along the second piece of cardboard, that way neither the north or south pole are tilting toward or away from the sun … right, like turning vs. tilting a steering wheel of a car … tilting tips it toward/away from dashboard, turning wheel tilts toward /away from driver side and passenger side windows … having said all that, the ucar site is saying, at the near/far points, the steering wheel/earth tilts toward/away from sun … i’m saying, that’s remarkable coincidence, because it could just as well been, when earth’s at closest points, tilt crossways, like tilt toward/away from passenger/driver side windows … 🙂 … right … a picture’s worth a thousand words, at least … )

ss9.  so we’ll accept the interesting coincidence.  must be right.  ucar/ncar/nsf/usa high-powered source says so.  maybe later wonder if something about the mechanics/physics makes that less surprising … later for that … for now, well, says the different distances from nearest-to-sun to closest-to-sun don’t seem to make northern hemisphere seasons have different temps than the same seasons in the southern hemisphere … if the distance difference made a difference to temperatures, why aren’t northern winters warmer than southern hem winters, and why aren’t southern hemisphere summers hotter than north hem summers?  answer me that, ss … wonder if they are …

ss10.  sssez very slow contractions in elliptical distances could still very slowly increase solar radiant heating of earth, even if we don’t find both warmer winters in northern than southern hemisphere or warmer summers in southern than northern hemisphere, because lots of other things effect that, like amount of glacial reflective white stuff, amount of darker absorbent water and land surface, moderating water effects, gulf stream, deserts, and high elevation.  so there!  hmm …

ss11.  temperature data

googling around for some temp data

here’s one that says south pole is the clear winner of the coldest temps race.  that fits our search for evidence of warmer northern/perihelion than southern/apihelion winters, but it also sez coldest is at poles and high elevations and hottest in deserts and low elevations, which says local things, not hemisphere and tilt are dominant.

Abstract: This video segment adapted from NOVA visualizes how Earth’s rotation and uneven heating from the Sun cause prevailing winds and influence ocean surface currents. An animation and infrared satellite image illustrate the shape and direction of the Gulf Stream System in the Atlantic Ocean. Recommended for: Grades 6-12

ok … i think that’s enough … it all seems to say that the local factors all over the world, not just perihelion/aphelion closest/furthest distances from sun are determining temps … if there is such thing as average northern and southern hemisphere temps, it probobly wouldn’t be meaningful … question is, i guess, whether temps all over world are generally rising … and the answer must be, of course, or else why all the hullabaloo about global warming?

—————          save next point for later … ————-

And here’s another related to another of our points:  “A planet moves at different speeds as it goes around its orbit. It moves fastest at perihelion. It moves slowest at aphelion.”

another – jan 5, 11

Old satellites are said to eventually fall out of orbit and burn up in the thicker parts of the earth’s atmosphere, but I think some say maybe that’s because there’s a little bit of “friction” up there from thinner parts of the earth’s atmosphere, or because there’s a friction in the “ether” of the “void”of space.  But maybe — and here we go again with the speculative stuff — maybe satellites  just fall because gravity keeps working on orbiting things and slowly very slowly somehow slows them down (which would reduce the size of the orbit since they don’t fly past the gravitational center of the orbit as quickly and, therefore, don’t go as far away when going away before coming back).  If satellite do “just fall” — and there’s no “friction” in the sense of very thin atmospheric air or ether “drag” operating in the direction opposite of the object’s motion — then why do they fall?  If Mother Nature says (in other words, if what we observe is) “satellites eventually just slowly slow down and draw closer to the orbital gravitational center” and man-made concepts of orbital science and vector math and F=ma motion physics say “satellites don’t just fall if there’s no friction”, then why do they fall anyway when there’s no friction?  Maybe there’s a “friction”-like thing that’s so small it’s never been noticed in science [not likely, of course, just working from my limited knowledge base, not the knowledge base of knowledgeable orbital and astrophysical scientists] that, whenever an object in motion gets pulled (“accelerated” by gravitational force … physics says any change in velocity, speed or direction, is positive or negative “acceleration” … in everyday life, we only think of “positive acceleration” or “going faster”) from it’s “inertial” constant speed and constant direction , it loses a little bit of its momentum, its kinetic energy, and slows down a little.  A very small loss of energy that comes from being continually “accelerated” into a circle — vs. continuing “unaccelerated” off in a straight line — all the time.  Knowledgeable scientists probably already know the right ways to think about all these things as basic info in their fields.  I’m just having the usual bit of fun wrestling with trying to organize thinking about a complex issue I don’t know much about.

Another take:

Scientists and mathematicians create a combined conceptual and mathematical “model” of orbital motion.

What’s a conceptual and mathematical model?  Well, things that orbit do what they do.  The things that orbit and the things they orbit around don’t know anything about “physics” or “math.”  They just do what they do.  Meanwhile, physicists and mathematicians try to invent concepts and math relationships that come as close as possible to describing, explaining, and predicting the orbital behavior.  The orbiting object and the thing it orbits around just do what they do whether the physics and math “model” is really really bad or not too bad or pretty good or really good or seems almost perfect for the situations it’s been used for.  That’s what a conceptual and mathematical model is:  an approximation of the actual physical situation that proves useful sometimes, often, or seemingly all of the time.  The “seemingly” is important there.

The science concepts for motion starts with the theoretical (ie, useful fictional) ideas of a “frictionless environment” and of “inertia.”  The “inertia” idea is that “an object in motion will remain in that motion unless acted upon by an outside force, and an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an outside force.”  In this context, the gravitational force between the orbiting body and the thing it orbits around is an outside force.  So is friction (i.e., frictional force).

I think the physics model for orbital behavior predicts that, in a “frictionless” environment, an orbiting object will stay in orbit forever.  By “friction,” it normally means a force operating in a direction opposite to the direction of motion.  That force would operate on an object moving in a straight line or one that was being pulled by gravity into a curved circular or elliptical path.  Suppose, in a frictionless environment, the object moving in a straight line lost no speed or momentum or kinetic energy, but, in the same environment, the object being pulled into a curved path by gravitational force did lose some energy, speed, and momentum?  (By the way, this is speculation.  I don’t know if there’s an official science concept for this part of the discussion.  Probably not.  I’m just thinking … It doesn’t seem totally unreasonable that being pulled into a circular path could have a cost, not just require a force, does it?  Not unreasonable, but unlikely to be valid since we haven’t heard of it before.  Good preparation to listen and read from.  Something somewhere will address the issue of ideal frictionless orbital travel and whether, in that ideal model, satellites theoretically stay up forever.)

Another little bit:

About the ice ages.

There, apparently, were a lot of ice ages that took place over a few million years, with the most recent being from 60,000 years ago to 20,000 years ago.  Does that support or conflict with the idea that the earth’s orbit might have been shrinking very very very very slowly since it was created and initially went into orbit?  Let’s have a look.

Here’s a scenario, a storyline.  The Sun is just sitting there burning away for a gazillion years.  It’s a swirling ball of gases and explosions happen from time to time at various distances from the Sun’s center.  Some of those explosions just explode and nothing goes anywhere.  Bill Cosby would like this line of thinking.  Anyway, some of the explosions send fiery balls of gas and dust flying out from the sun at various speeds and angles.  Most get pulled by the sun’s gravity back toward the center (like when we throw a baseball in any direction on Earth, it always comes back to the ground somewhere, no matter what angle of throw we use).  A few fiery balls of gas and dust fly out so fast they hit “escape velocity” and just keep going away from the Sun.  Maybe that’s what “comets” are.  So that happens a lot.  A lot.  A lot.  A lot.  Most are too slow to just keep going and fall back into the sun.  A few are so fast they just keep on going.  But, one day, an explosion happens that sends just the right mass of gas and dust, in just the right angle, at just the right speed, that it looks at first like it’s going to just keep going away from the sun, but, this time, this one gets pulled back by the Sun’s gravity and goes into orbit around the Sun.  In it’s initial flight away from the Sun, the ball of hot gases and dust that will become Planet Earth goes the furthest it will ever get away from the Sun.  That first trip around the Sun will be the furthest away it will get.  In its second trip around the Sun, it maybe gets just a little bit closer to the Sun, but such a tiny bit, it’s impossible to notice.

What now?

Well, at this point, we have a fiery ball of gas and dust flying around the Sun at the rate of one time around each year.  Yeah, I know.  That’s funny.  Year.  Anyway, it’s cold out in space, so the ball of super-heated gas and dust starts to cool down.  Those gases, by the way, are really hot and the way to know that is that the gases aren’t just “air,” they’re gaseous versions of rocks and metals.  That’s really hot.  As times goes by, some of the gases become swirling and then not-swirling liquid molten metals.  So this second stage is we have a ball of molten metal, hot gases, and dust revolving around the Sun.

No ice ages yet.  Still too hot.  But, every year, maybe it gets a very very little bit closer to the Sun.

But it’s really cold in outer space and the ball of gases keeps cooling down.  The gases on the outside (colder side) of the ball cool into metals and settle because they’re heavy into the center.  Eventually, most or all of the heavy metals in the gas and dust cloud have cooled and what’s left on the outside is stuff that cools into the earth’s crust and atmosphere.  The Earth is still revolving around the Sun, but, at this point, it looks less like a gas ball and more like a planet.

It’s still very cold in outer space.  At some point, it gets cool enough on the earth’s surface that the water vapor in the atmosphere condense into water everywhere.  As things keep cooling, ice happens and grows.  The first ice age.

What turns the first ice back?

Hm … That was going so well, but I think I’m stuck here now.

Trying stuff … radiant heat from sun?  not land mass effect, because the white ice absorbs less heat, reflects it … possible heat from earth’s center via conduction through insulating crust and/or volcanic activity … possible radiant sun heating in oceans that are non-reflective and are heat-absorbing …

I don’t think this is going to prove what I thought it was going to prove, or at least support … : ) … that the ice ages coming and going supported the idea that the orbital radii got larger for a while, reached a maximum, and are now in contraction mode (by the way, that’s not a mis-spelling.  a circle has a radius.  an ellipse has two radii.  so there.).  Was interesting, though.

Looking back over it, I could have known I was getting into trouble when one of my edits put the phrases about reaching maximum size of orbit on the first orbit into the first part of the scenario.  I didn’t notice that my playing out the Earth creation process had cancelled out my initial assumption about expanding and contracting orbital size.  The story was just so good I didn’t notice that the logic of what the verbalization had intended to confirm had been obliterated, expurgated, replaced, blown up, exploded, invalidated, … what?  ok.

That’s one of the things to know about verbalization, by the way.  About “verbalizing your intuition.”  You do it (verbalize your intuition) and then go back over what you did (within the Joyce-ian stream of words) to see what you actually did (from a logic structure viewpoint).  Works equally well for the various types of verbalization — writing or talk, solo or group — if you know what you’re looking at and for.

A few new (to me) things came out in that verbalization/storyline.  One is a correction to my picture of how the size of the Earth’s orbit changed, if at all, during the earlier stages of the orbiting behavior.  My thinking changed from “the Earth’s orbit gets bigger and then smaller” “which creates the effects we see that ice ages came for a while and then stopped coming again” to “the Earth’s orbit gets established at its maximum size on the first orbit and either stays that size or gets smaller.”  This left me realizing that my idea about why Earth was first hot gases, then was ice ages coming and going for a few millions of years, and lately, not only no new ice ages, but loss of “permanent” “year-round” glacial ice and even the polar ice cap — wasn’t valid.

The last time I thought about this, I had this idea … not sure why … oh, i know why, but later for why … last time, last year, i had this idea that the orbit got established, got bigger for a while, then reached maximum, and then got smaller — all due to Sun’s gravity slowing down its outward expansion, stopping the expansion, and then starting a contraction.  I got that idea from not making a distinction between (a) something that succeeds in getting into orbit and (b) the “giant rubber bands” joke and image from the earlier pages, and the associated common experience that, when we throw a ball up in the air at any angle, gravity gradually slows its speed away from earth, it peaks (zero velocity up and down, though the left-right component of velocity might be non-zero), and then the ball accelerates in vertical aspect as it comes back to the ground.  Without thinking too precisely about it, that seemed to correlate with the idea of Earth being a ball of hot gases at first, then cooling by being away from the Sun in outer space at all, then continuing to have bigger orbit and have less heat from sun offsetting cold of outer space, bigger orbit and even less sun heat with still cold of space, orbit getting bigger and less sun heat and more cooling so far that ice ages started happening, but gravity stops expansion of orbit and starts shrinking it and reversing the process and now still cold in space but now also more heating from being closer to sun, then no more ice ages like we’ve seen and now global warming and loss of glacial ice and north pole ice cap like we’re seeing.  That was my incorrect view.  I noticed it was incorrect after I did yesterday’s storyline verbalization and said to myself something like, “why was it I was thinking the ice ages coming and going was possible evidence for expanding and contracting orbit?”

The verbalization just now shows that the cause entity (entity being a little box with words in it and entity also being the aspect of the reality the words are supposed to be referring to), “orbit got bigger then smaller over millions of years as gravity of the sun continued to work on the earth,” doesn’t pass, as TOC thinking tools guru, Lisa, would confirm, the Categories of Legitimate Reservations (CLR) test of “does it [the entity] exist?, i.e., is the entity, the aspect of reality supposedly pointed to by the words in the little cause-effect diagram’s cause box, correct?  In our case, does it happen the way the words in the box, which were reflecting my thinking last year, are saying it happens (Don’t look for any boxes.  I was, as almost all the time for me, just thinking, thinking/writing/verbalizing — there’s thinking and then there’s thinking — but if TOC tools were to be used to describe and analyze that thinking, there would be two boxes, a cause box with words in it at the bottom, an effect box/entity at the top with words in it, and a cause-effect arrow going from the bottom one to the top box.

Digression: Re-expressing what happened in TOC terms

For TOC fans (in other words, everybody, right … : ) … yeah, wishful thinking springs eternal …), the process of analyzing the difference between last year’s thinking and this year’s was the process of reading over and checking the logic of the entities and cause-effect links, boxes and cause-effect arrows (there’s an Eli G. TOC jargon word for this reviewing and checking process … it’s not coming to mind right away … oh, here it is … scrutiny … “the scrutiny process” … ) of the trunk of a an implicit (i.e., in my head, not written down) TOC explanation cause-and-effect logic tree (what I have called, “an explanation logic tree” is essentially a current reality or future reality tree used as an explanation tool vs. as a planning tool, like Bob Mitchell’s presentation at one of the Apics CM symposia that explained a complex past event.  It’s a timing question across/between the standard logic trees.  current reality logic tree is time = now.  future reality logic tree is time = later, when the project is done.  explanation tree is time = whenever it was, or is, or could be and some of the links can be happening over time.

A Systems Dynamics digression off the TOC digression

On this time thing within a logic tree diagram.  Eli was smart to keep his system simple and focused on thinking.  the very tiny step I just took timing within individual logic tree diagrams (vs. between  current and future, or current/future vs. explanation) is getting close to taking a small step away from mainstream canonical TOC and just a little bit toward the “systems dynamics” knowledge area where one can quickly get caught up in the details of modelling nuances of timing differences and especially feedback loops and one risks losing sight of the more important aspects of the logic and experience of a situation.  not that the extra levels of detail of “systems dynamics” is bad or wrong.  quite the contrary.  it’s very good, in its place.  range of validity.  range of validity.  range of validity.  the way out of so many conundrums and arguments.  timing issues exist and feedback loops aren’t bad and wrong.  they are everywhere in nature and man-made systems.  in nature, an example is the loss of glacial ice means there’s less sun heat-reflective white ice which means more heat absorbed dark earth which means more heat absorbed vs reflected which — and here’s the feedback “loop” — means more glacial ice melting and round and round and round goes the feedback loop.  more heat begets less ice, begets more heat, begets less ice, more heat, less ice, and so on.  that’s one kind of feedback loop.  the find that just keeps going in a direction.  there’s another kind that stabilizes.  what’s an example.  they’re everywhere in life.  how about temperature control on a frig, a/c unit, heat?  thermostat says frig is too warm, turns on cooling unit, gets colder, thermostat senses it, thermostat input (the feedback loop) shuts down cooling unit.  same for car or home or office heat and a/c.  hot water heater.  electronics and electronic control systems are full of these things.  here’s another one:  guitar feedback is a feedback loop: sound of guitar or microphone comes out of amplifier into the microphone or guitar pickups and amplified again and round and round to make that big sound.

so timing issues and feedback loops are everywhere.  that’s why MIT’s jay forrester created the first best “systems dynamics” knowledge area in the 60s.  but, when you learn and use TOC, you find that the real value of sound thinking doesn’t require modelling these timing issues and feedback loops so explicitly or precisely.  i’m not sure why it’s true.  i’d have to do a few examples to discern why, in all the circumstances i’ve seen, it’s losing strategic or fundamental or correct perspective and focus to go beyond a certain level of detail of that sort.  i’m sure there’s an intrinsic reason in reality for why that’s true, but that’s one of the meta issues surrounding mainstream canonical Goldratt TOC I never thought through.  I knew there must be at least one.  : )

for designing an electronic system, or a computer weather model, you need it the little timing models and feedback loop models.  for most thinking situations, you don’t.  there are probably situation description variables that could be figured out that show three zones — “TOC clearly right”, “grey area where need to adjust both TOC and systems dynamics”, and “places where systems dynamics feedback loop modelling is necessary.”  but i digress.  what?  I never digress?  smart ass …

Systems Analysis, Systems Dynamics, and Systems Thinking

“systems dynamics”can be a lot of people in a lot of places these days because after the US Air Force and the McNamara Dept of Defense got into “systems analysis” in the 50s and 60s, and Jay forester pioneered “systems dynamics” in the 60s, the 60s generation and environmental movement espoused “think globally, act locally”, and Goldratt emphasized “system, goals, measurements” in the 80s thru today in the book The Goal, and H. Edwards Deming and the Quality movement (not to be confused with Pirsig’s maybe overlapping, but still very different, Quality idea … actually, I don’t know, maybe they’re just different expressions of the same basic idea and experience … anyway, moving on …), and Margaret Wheatly and other Chaos Theory gurus focused on systems, and I think Senge’s Fifth Discipline sort of consolidated a lot of it — after all that 50s thru 90s activity, “systems thinking” has become not the “new thing”, but the expected standard way to approach situations.  That’s “systems thinking.”

Peter Senge, Fifth Discipline, Learning Organization

As for “systems dynamics”, and the modelling on diagrams of timing differences and feedback loops, that’s MIT jay forrester in the 60s (full scale modelling, useful in many circumstances of technology and other systems), MIT peter senge in I think the 90s, maybe some 80s (sort of a mid-position between forrester and TOC, I think shows signs, in timing of publication and nature of concept system, of being influenced by TOC … his, what was it, “learning organization” maybe … yes, also “the fifth discipline” which was good, pulling a lot of traditional business management and even intuitive new age philosophy into a very strong system with texts and workbooks, etc … a humanized version of the original systems dynamics little feedback loops diagrams …

Back to the TOC digression

all those systems thinking disciplines are real good, but they’re still not the concise essence of the generic effective thinking system that is Goldratt TOC … or, if it or others also at least arguably overlap with TOC and have that concise essence too, that’s fine … that’s what we wanted, TOC used along with everything else to make everything else work better … still, the Goldratt version I espoused and used is still the best focus, leadership, and advice on maintaining strong thinking in any context … It’s like, ok, letters are used in this book and that magazine and that internet page, but it’s still useful to separate out the alphabet as a separate study …

what?  still selling TOC?  sure.  here’s some …


Pretty Good Management System (top)


Pretty Good Stuff (bottom)

A Pretty Good TOC Logic Tree

Errata:  looking at this TOC logic tree from a book that … what?  did I spell what wrong?  no, thank you very much.  if I had meant to write, “erotica”, I would have written “erotica.”  clean minds, please … anyway, looking at this TOC logic tree from a book I wrote 12 years ago, i can see it’s a little not correct on its left side.  without spending too much time fussing over it, i can see entity 15 should have been a separate injection and not an intermediate effect.  the toc version of a 5-step system improvement process (ie, Identify the Constraint, Exploit, Subordinate, Break Constraint, Go back to Step 1) is another thing the management has to decide to add to their management system, not something that inevitably follows from implementing injections 13 and 14a.  What was I thinking during the summer of 97?  Thinking of getting to the beach probably.  Then injections 13, 14a, 15, and 16a all then combine as contributing causes to the effect entity at 17a.  all five entity boxes might need a little minor rewording as might downstream effect entity boxes.  to take just one, 17a would become something like “effective process of ongoing improvement is in use with TVA measurements and TVA world importance scale.”  Or something like that.  Need Dale and Tracey to keep me in line here.  : )  it’s yet another example that using logic trees at all can give rise to a lot of clarity and both individual and group effectiveness even if they’re not absolutely perfect.  to be sure, it’s better that they be right, but, also to be sure, it’s better to have everybody having the same understanding of how they’re going to get going in roughly the right direction than to just be stuck with not plan or not understanding each other or be going in totally the wrong direction.  the other side of the coin is, sometimes, a minor shift in the logic of a situation (marketing policy, financial policy, service policy, human resource policy, etc) can have a big impact on things which is why, sometimes, it’s important to have the “knit-picking” discussions over the reality referred to in the words of the entities and the links.  optimally, it’s best to start early enough to think about the right problems in the right way and get things right.  but, when an emergency pops up, or procrastination has happened, it’s also good to have a good process to use to come up with a pretty good basic direction pretty darn quick.  But sometimes the greater fussing over the words and links is a waste of time.  but sometimes emergencies require the most careful thinking before making the first move.  different situations, different ways of using logic trees, and different levels of being fussy about their “correctness” of the entities and links.  There’s where the judgement and intuition of the people involved has to come in.  The logic tree processes give a basis for sound thinking and consensus, but smart people still have to use them intelligently together.  In this case, the left side being linked up wrong and benefiting from some better wording wasn’t really getting in the way much because it’s just explaining how the pieces of TOC work together.  If you’re going to use TOC, you know you’re going to use all those pieces, so you might not even look to check on the linkages.  In another situation, say selecting a customer market segment to focus on, the causality among the entities is crucial.  For example, if some injections are some product or service characteristics, plus some for marketing actions, and incorrect assumptions underlie the links/arrows connecting these actions to the expected benefits to and perceptions of the customers, their reactions to pricing, sales volumes, and profitability, effect on use of production capacity, then important mistakes can be made.  that’s using the TOC logic tree processes and diagrams to verbalize and fine-tune knowledge, intuition, and experience — and using knowledge, judgment, intuition, and experience to know when to stop fussing over the logic tree processes and diagrams. “_)

Enough selling?  Sale’s Already Made? ” )

back to the “still selling TOC?” question … there are sales gurus who say, don’t keep selling after the sale’s already made … sanders and z and andy and alex and johnnyp and ken and keith and tim and marizio and bob and karen and zig would, at this point, say “range of validity for everything, big guy, even for that” … and they would be right.  it’s true at point of initial closing, but then there’s more to the overall satisfaction than just the close … but I digress … what?  but I never digress?  smart ass …).

APICS TOC courseware.  Cool.

hey, great … apics has toc thinking processes courseware now… as part of a “theory of constraints: concepts and principles” series … great … really great … ♥

takes me back to 1995.  plugging toc and apics on my humble little corner of the web.


Jan 5, 2011 – It’s been a year since I raced through these bits and pieces of issues and arguments related to the possibility that the earth’s orbit may be shrinking very very slowly and that this may, along with other factors, be a part of what’s creating the global warming symptoms we hear about and see.

I returned to the page today for, I think, the first time since writing it.  I just scanned through it.  It’s too long and detailed for the mood I’m in right now.  I noticed some pretty good questions, facts, and arguments.  And I noticed some passages that I would have to read carefully again to see what they were trying to verbalize and explore.  As I recall, it was just a one-pass-through thinking-it-through activity, not a revise-and-reorganize-until-it’s-logical-clear-and-easy-to-read thinking-it-through activity.  It never got the benefit of a second or later re-start, reorganization, or revision.  At the time, I think I just left it there since it had some interesting angles on the question and some useful notes about issues to explore further and better.  I’ll leave it there again today for the same reason.

Has the Earth’s orbit around the Sun actually been contracting very very very slowly ever since the Earth was created from (presumably) hot gases flying out from the Sun, and ever since its first orbital loop was established?  After looking for a little while, at not enough things, for not enough time, with not enough information, my conclusion is:  I don’t know.  Maybe. : )

If the orbit has been shrinking, it adds to the effects of the other potential causes.

If it has been shrinking, it’s been shrinking really really REALLY REALLY slowly.

If it has been shrinking, it’s because the ideal vector math model of a perpetual elliptical orbit in a frictionless environment is a less-then-perfect description of what happens, or — if the basic motion model is right, but the “frictionless” assumption is wrong — then because (1) there’s “friction” in the normal sense in non-void space, or (2) because there’s “friction” in the normal sense in the “ether” of void space, or (3) because there’s a “friction”-like energy-and-speed reduction effect caused by pulling an object from its inertial straight line into a curved path.

In other words:  How should I know?  : )  Fun stuff.


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