Energy-efficient traffic lights can’t melt snow

By Dinesh Ramde (AP)

 MILWAUKEE — Cities around the country that have installed energy-efficient traffic lights are discovering a hazardous downside: The bulbs don’t burn hot enough to melt snow and can become crusted over in a storm — a problem blamed for dozens of accidents and at least one death.

 “I’ve never had to put up with this in the past,” said Duane Kassens, a driver from West Bend who got into a fender-bender recently because he couldn’t see the lights. “The police officer told me the new lights weren’t melting the snow. How is that safe?”

Many communities have switched to LED bulbs in their traffic lights because they use 90 percent less energy than the old incandescent variety, last far longer and save money. Their great advantage is also their drawback: They do not waste energy by producing heat.

Authorities in several states are testing possible solutions, including installing weather shields, adding heating elements like those used in airport runway lights, or coating the lights with water-repellent substances.

Short of some kind of technological fix, “as far as I’m aware, all that can be done is to have crews clean off the snow by hand,” said Green Bay, Wis., police Lt. Jim Runge. “It’s a bit labor-intensive.”

In St. Paul, Minn., for example, city crews use air compressors to blow snow and ice off blocked lights.

Some communities began installing cool-burning LEDs more than a decade ago, and it wasn’t long before drivers started complaining about the problem.

Illinois authorities said that during a storm in April, 34-year-old Lisa Richter could see she had a green light and began making a left turn. A driver coming from the opposite direction did not realize the stoplight was obscured by snow and plowed into Richter’s vehicle, killing her.

“Would the accident have occurred if the lights had been clear? I would be willing to bet not,” Oswego police Detective Rob Sherwood said.

Authorities said dozens of similar collisions have been reported in other cold-weather states, including Iowa and Minnesota.

Not every storm causes snow to stick to the lights, but when the wind is right and the snow is wet, drivers should beware, said Gary Fox, a traffic engineer for the city of Des Moines, Iowa.

Exactly how much a technological fix will cost is unclear, but it will surely cut into the savings and the energy efficiency many cities are enjoying.

Wisconsin, which has put LED bulbs at hundreds of intersections, saves about $750,000 per year in energy costs, said Dave Vieth of the state Transportation Department. LEDs installed seven years ago are still burning, while most incandescent bulbs have to be replaced every 12 to 18 months, he said.

“With LEDs we have energy savings in excess of 80 percent, and we don’t have to have crews replacing them as often,” Vieth said. “So it’s clear the overall savings are pretty significant.”

In Minnesota, where authorities have upgraded hundreds of traffic lights to LEDs, the Transportation Department occasionally gets reports of an obstructed light. But by the time a highway crew arrives, the wind has often knocked out the snow and ice, said traffic systems specialist Jerry Kotzenmacher. Minnesota is experimenting with weather shields.

One reason there have been so few deaths is that drivers know they should treat a traffic signal with obstructed lights as a stop sign, traffic experts say.


“It’s the same as if the power is out,” said Dave Hansen, a traffic engineer with the Green Bay Department of Public Works. “If there’s any question, you err on the side of caution.”

 See post here.

Orwellian Nightmare: Science Is Whatever ‘the Party’ Says It Is

by Frank J. Tipler

Last week I was on a university panel formed to debate the issue of science and religion. My argument was the same one I’ve been making for years: given the known laws of physics — in particular, general relativity (Einstein’s theory of gravity) and quantum mechanics — we have no choice but to conclude that God exists.

I defined “God” as the “uncaused first cause,” which is the definition used by St. Thomas Aquinas in his “second way” (Aquinas’ second of five proofs of God’s existence). Aquinas took his proof from Moses Maimonides, who in turn took it from the Kalam Muslim theologians. That is, these leading theologians of the three leading monotheist religions all defined “God” the same way, so I thought this would be an acceptable definition. Knowing what is meant by the word “God,” we can now use physics to see if there is indeed “God” out there.

There is. The laws of physics tell us that the universe began about 14 billion years ago at the initial (or big bang) singularity. What is this “singularity”? Looking at its properties, one sees that it is the uncaused first cause. Something that is the cause of all causes, but Himself without a cause. Given the laws of physics, the existence of the initial singularity follows necessarily from the mathematics. Now of course we cannot be certain that the laws of physics are correct. We learn about nature via experiment, and new experiments may tell us tomorrow that general relativity and quantum mechanics are just limits of more fundamental laws, which do not possess an initial singularity.

I doubt this, since general relativity and quantum mechanics can themselves be shown mathematically to be special cases of the classical mechanics as developed in the nineteenth century. So there is no evidence, experimental or theoretical, that there are any laws of physics more fundamental than general relativity or quantum mechanics. But I can’t rule it out. In science we can only say that the truth of these two theories is highly probable, not certain.

But given these laws of physics, the singularity is certain. It is certain because His existence follows of necessity, from the mathematical analysis of the equations of relativity and quantum mechanics. Given the laws of physics, the existence of the singularity is as certain as 2 + 2 = 4.

I made this point on the panel. No one challenged the laws. No one challenged my calculations. What they challenged was my statement that 2 + 2 = 4!

I was told that 2 + 2 = 4 is merely a matter of opinion. I was told that Gödel showed mathematics could be inconsistent, so anything goes. (Actually, 2 + 2 = 4 is a theorem of Presburger arithmetic, which is arithmetic with addition and subtraction only, and Presburger arithmetic is, and has been proven to be, decidable, complete, and consistent.)

I’ve had this experience several times now. University faculties now teach that truth is whatever the consensus of the faculty says it is (this was made explicit is the Berkeley faculty handbook a few years ago). This idea that the ruling group of faculty can establish truth by authority, even over the truths of mathematics like 2 + 2 = 4, has a chilling Orwellian flavor.


George Orwell’s classic 1984 ends with the hero Winston, who believes that truth is something external to mankind and unalterable by any human agency, being tortured by O’Brien, the head of the ruling party’s secret police. In Orwell’s own words:

O’Brien held up his left hand, its back toward Winston, with the thumb hidden and the four fingers extended.

“How many fingers am I holding up, Winston.”


“And if the Party says it is not four but five — then how many?”


The word ended in a gasp of pain [as O’Brien sent a strong electric current through Winston]. …

“How many fingers, Winston?”

“Four.” [Again O’Brien applied the current] …

“You are a slow learner, Winston,” said O’Brien gently.

“How can I help it?” he blubbered. “How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.”

“Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once.”

The Party — the political class of the world — does not want God to exist. Therefore, if the laws of physics and the laws of mathematics say He does, then the laws of physics and the laws of mathematics must be changed to whatever the Party wants.

Therefore, God does not exist. He must not be mentioned, must not be prayed to in class.

The Party wants the Earth to be warming, so that its members can establish their power over every aspect of our lives. The Earth has not warmed in a decade, in fact it has gotten colder. But the Party says warmer, and further, says that the warming is due to human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere.

For years, as we have learned from Climategate, climate “scientists” have been fudging the data to obtain the result wanted by the Party. Today, following the decree of the Party, the EPA announces that the Earth is indeed getting warmer, and that indeed, CO2 is responsible for the warming.

God help us.

See post here.

Repealing a Law of Physics

Subject: Automotive Industry Challenge… Dr. David Cole
From a senior level Chrysler person

Monday morning I attended a breakfast meeting where the speaker/guest was Dr. David E. Cole, Chairman, Center for Automotive Research, (CAR and Professor at the University of Michigan ). You have all likely heard CAR quoted, or referred to in the auto industry news lately.

Dr. Cole, who is an engineer by training, told many stories of the difficulty of working with the folks that the Obama administration has sent to save the auto industry. There have been many meetings where a 30+ year experience automotive expert has to listen to a newcomer to the industry, someone with zero manufacturing experience, zero auto industry experience, zero business experience, zero finance experience, and zero engineering experience, tell them how to run their business.

Dr. Cole’s favorite story is as follows:

There was a team of Obama people speaking to Dr. Cole (Graduate Engineer, automotive experience 40+ years, Chairman of CAR). They were explaining to Dr. Cole that the auto companies needed to make a car that was electric and utilized liquid natural gas (LNG) with enough combined fuel to go 500 miles so we wouldn’t “need” so many gas stations, (a whole other topic). They were quoting the BTU’s of LNG and battery life that they had looked up on some website.

Dr. Cole explained that to do this you would need a trunk FULL of batteries and a LNG tank at big as the car to make it happen and that there were problems related to the basic laws of physics that prevented them from…

The Obama person interrupted and said (and I am quoting here): “These laws of physics? Who’s rules are those? We need to change that. (Some of the others diligently wrote down the law name so they could look it up). We have both the congress and the administration. We can repeal that law, amend it, or use an executive order to get rid of that problem. That’s why we are here, to fix these sort of issues”.

This country is in big trouble…

See post here. Another here.