The Ignoble Professor Brian Koberlein


Stephen J. Crothers

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Brian Koberlein is a professor of physics at Rochester Institute of Technology. He has taken it upon himself, by means of dedicated webpages and related blogs, to ridicule people who do not agree with his science dogmas. In the course of his vendetta against free-thought he made a webpage where he mocks Professor Pierre-Marie Robitaille on account of the latter's proofs that the so-called 'Cosmic Microwave Background' ('CMB') is not cosmic, that the constitution of the Sun is not gaseous but condensed matter, and that Kirchhoff's Law of Thermal Emission is false so that Planck's equation for thermal spectra is not universal and applies only to truly black materials, such as lampblack, inside a cavity at thermal equilibrium.

Koberlein uses typical cosmologist derisive and misleading language, and also lies, in order to inflict his allegations upon his readers. When his webpage came to my attention I posted some comments to his blog. Koberlein is the Moderator of his blog and so all comments must pass his scrutiny before being made public. My first set of comments, on 3rd March 2015, included citations, with links, of the papers of Professor Robitaille, since Koberlein ridiculed Professor Robitaille without providing his readers with any citation whatsoever of Professor Robitaille's papers so that they could check Koberlein's claims against the actual sources. I also pointed out that his assertion that Professor Robitaille argues that the 'CMB' is due to reflection of microwaves from the oceans of Earth is patently false, and requested him to provide citations and quotes from the papers and videos of Professor Robitaille in evidence of his allegations. Here is what Koberlein says on his webpage about Professor Robitaille:

" He claims that the cosmic microwave background isn't due to the thermal remnant of the big bang, but rather due to microwaves reflected off the surface of Earth's oceans. ... "

"We could point out that the CMB has been observed by satellites millions of miles away from Earth, and aimed away from Earth's surface, or that reflected microwaves wouldn't give a blackbody curve due to absorption bands in both water and Earth's atmosphere. "

Koberlein allowed my comments to appear, but it is clear from his response that he allowed them, not to discuss science, but in order to further insult Professor Robitaille, and also to attack me for challenging him on his unscientific methods. In his reply to me, Koberlein once again did not provide any citations of any papers by Professor Robitaille in evidence of any of his claims about Professor Robitaille. He did provide a link to Professor Robitaille's recorded conference presentation on the actual source of the so-called 'CMB'. In that video Professor Robitaille does not assign the source of the 'CMB' to reflection of microwaves from the oceans. Although caught red-handed, Koberlein would not admit that his assignment to Professor Robitaille of reflection of microwaves from the oceans as the source of the 'CMB' is patently false. This is not surprising, because it is patently false, as anybody who reads Professor Robitaille's papers, and mine too for that matter, can easily affirm. And as for the 'CMB' being "observed by satellites millions of miles away from Earth", that is not true either, as Professor Robitaille has explained in his relevant papers and recorded conference presentations.

Not content with levelling allegations against Professor Robitaille without citation of sources for the latter, before his reply to me, Koberlein also sneered at the journal in which Professor Robitaille's papers have been published. Here is what he said:

" His work hasn't been published in refereed astrophysics journals, but has appeared in vixra (created to counter the elitist arxiv) and Progress in Physics, which is an alternative science journal. "

First, although Professor Robitaille's papers were not published in an astrophysics journal, they were published in a physics journal, and there reviewed and refereed in accordance with the editorial policy of that journal. Second, the words "alternative science journal" are ambiguous. What does Koberlein imply; alternative 'science journal' or 'alternative science' journal? As I remarked to Koberlein,

" Professor Koberlein, your derisive talk about a journal in which a paper is published is not a scientific argument against a scientific argument. It does not matter where a paper is published. What matters is its content. And by the way, Professor Robitaille’s papers did in fact undergo peer review (that is the policy of the editors of Progress in Physics). Papers need not be published in journals which you prefer. Your journal preference has no bearing on scientific arguments and experimental facts. "

In his response to me Koberlein said,

" One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with fringe science ideas is the constant bombardment of accusations and false claims. "

Apparently he claims that Professor Robitaille's work is "fringe science", and that he (Koberlein) has made no false claims. That's false! He has made false claims, the most obvious being that Professor Robitaille assigned the 'CMB' to reflection of microwaves from the oceans.

I posted a second set of comments to Koberlein's blog on 4th March 2015. He did not let them reach his audience (they disappeared). I made seven points in my second posting, and closed it with the following,

" The source of the so-called CMB is the Earth, specifically its oceans. Neither Professor Robitaille nor I have ever said that microwaves reflected from the Earth or from its oceans are the source of the 'CMB', contrary to your allegations. Yet again, please adduce citations and quotations from the works of Professor Robitaille, and also me if you must, upon which you rely for your allegation of reflection of microwaves from Earth or its oceans. Your reflected microwaves is not due to Professor Robitaille or me, so from where did you get it? "

Of course, Koberlein did not respond to my seven points and ignored repeated request for his evidence on reflected microwaves from Earth or its oceans (that's because he has none; he conjured up that false argument himself and hitched it to Professor Robitaille). So where are my seven points to Koberlein on 4th March 2015? Here they are, signed by Koberlein in evidence.


Koberlein has referred to my webpage about him in his reply to a query sent him by one David Sadler, by posting additional comments on his webpage, but again without including my second set of comments. Despite keeping the latter from his readers once again, he quoted from them, but deliberately omitted the first part of the sentence he quoted. He said this:

' I didn't allow the second comment for several reasons: it was more of the same in terms of links, it continued with more ad hominem, it added additional claims that are in error (such as the claim that "signal of the 'CMB' has not been observed by any satellites beyond ~900km of Earth" when in fact the WMAP and Planck satellites collected data at L2 which is 1.5 million km from Earth). '

Here is what I actually wrote him,

" It is a scientific fact that the so-called monopole signal of the 'CMB' has not been observed by any satellites beyond ~900km of Earth. "

So where is the monopole signal beyond ~900 km of Earth? Where is the monopole signal at L2? It has never been detected there either; so I am not "in error". As for the WMAP and Planck satellites, neither can discern any supposed signal from galactic noise. The alleged anisotropies are ~1000 times weaker than the galactic foreground. This is the same problem that made a laughing stock of BICEP 2. Without a monopole signal at L2 all talk of a 'CMB' and associated 'anisotropies' is just wishful thinking.

Astonishingly, Koberlein complained to Sadler that it is my fault that he falsely attributed to Professor Robitaille and me reflection of microwaves. Here is what he said:

" Crothers' first comment was a bit of a judgement call. Link-spammy, but the links were fairly relevant, makes personal attacks against me and my intentions (which I tend to me more lenient on), and calls me out demanding I prove him wrong (i.e. trolling). I allowed it largely for the purpose of being a rebuttal to my claims. My response was a bit sarcastic, but made clear that both Crothers and Robitaille claim a terrestrial origin to the CMB. Crothers could have simply noted that their claim is an emitted microwave rather than a reflected one, simply noting that my statement on reflection vs emission was in error, and my response would have been to acknowledge that and re-emphasize that reflected or emitted, it is the terrestrial origin that is soundly contradicted by the evidence. "

No; the irrefutable fact is that Koberlein falsely attributed reflection of microwaves from the oceans as the source of the so-called 'CMB' to both Professor Robitaille and me. Koberlein himself conjured up microwave reflections in order to try to discredit Professor Robitaille and myself, and to emphasize it to his readers he said it twice on his webpage. As documented here I gave Koberlein several opportunities to correct his false assertions and requested him several times to present his evidence for his allegations. He ignored all requests for evidence. He now admits his claim is false, but insists that it is my fault that he continued until now with his falsehoods. His admission comes only now because I have reported his misinformation here, and let his colleagues know about it too. Since Koberlein at all times had at his disposal all the relevant papers and video recordings, it's remarkable that he could not tell the difference between reflection and emission. He's a professor; surely he knows the difference between reflection and emission, especially when it is written in the relevant papers and stated in the relevant video recordings. Koberlein knew exactly what he was doing, that's why I have said above that he resorted to lies. Why? Because he lied, and so he is indeed a liar, a blatant liar who has been caught with his hand in the cookie-jar. As for my alleged demands, I never demanded him to prove me wrong at all; I only requested him to present his evidence for his claims and to reveal from where he got reflected microwaves, since they didn't come from Professor Robitaille or me. Being a professor, Koberlein's behaviour amounts to academic misconduct. What really irks him is that he has been caught in the act and exposed for all to see.

Koberlein also said:

" In short, Crothers had the opportunity to discuss facts and evidence, but chose to make it a personal attack. He therefore lost the opportunity to discuss the matter on my blog. He's free to continue the discussion elsewhere, and clearly has. "

This claim too is patently false; as documented here I challenged Koberlein on his blatantly false assertions and requested his evidence for them. It was he who first levelled ad hominem, against Professor Robitaille, and subsequently against me. Consequently, I called him for what he has revealed of himself. That is not ad hominem, rather statements supported by evidence. There is a big difference between the two.

Koberlein closed his post with the following gem:

" One more thing. Both you and Crothers have accused me of censorship for not allowing unmoderated comments on my website. Neither your site nor that of Crothers allows for comments, moderated or otherwise." "

Once again, Koberlein, ever the tricky Dicky, misleads his readers. First, this is not just an issue of 'moderation' of my comments, because I am also the subject of Koberlein's accusations. By blocking my comments he deliberately stopped the accused from answering the accusations in situ. Second, his webpage is a blog, designed and intended for posting comments; comments he openly invites from the public. My website is not a blog and never has been. I do not solicit comments here or anywhere else on my website; ipso facto my website does not allow for comments and is therefore without need of moderation, as designed and intended, as Koberlein actually knows. Applying Koberlein's methods, one might just as well complain that a watch is wretched because it does not allow for pedestrians.

Update: Gerardus 't Hooft joins heads with Koberlein

If you have a headache you can take an aspirin, but a whole packet of aspirin is not going to do you any good. When one wooden head will do, two wooden heads are unnecessary. Even so, Gerardus 't Hooft, Nobel Laureate for Physics, has now joined heads with Koberlein, (see here).

Here is what Mr. 't Hooft said to Koberlein about Professor Robitaille:

"He doesn't understand the most basic laws of thermodynamics, and that, if you have a cavity with the same temperature T everywhere, then the radiation intensity inside the cavity will be in equilibrium with that, or, the radiation curve will show the unique black-body distribution corresponding to that temperature, regardless of the material the walls of the cavity are made of. That's how you derive Kirchhoff's law, but of course you know that."

No, not even for King Leopold II, that's not how Kirchhoff's erroneous Law of Thermal Emission is 'derived'. All Mr. 't Hooft has done above is restate Kirchhoff's demonstrably false Law. To see how Kirchhoff's Law is derived one needs to go to Max Planck, who, in his 'derivation' of Kirchhoff's Law, flagrantly violated the laws of physics. Planck's abuse of Brewster's Law and his concomitant use of polarised radiation when black radiation is never polarised, is a thoroughgoing farce. What 't Hooft doesn't understand, despite his Nobel Prize (which are nowadays like lollies to compliant children), is that radiation within an arbitrary cavity at thermal equilibrium is never black unless a truly black material such as soot is present therein. Planck always placed a carbon particle within his arbitrary cavities, claiming that his carbon particle is a 'catalyst' that (miraculously) induces black radiation inside an enclosure at thermal equilibrium, no matter what material the enclosure is made of and no matter its size and shape. However, Planck's carbon particle is not a catalyst - it is a blackbody and so it flooded his cavities with black radiation. Blackbodies in the laboratory are always made from materials with a low reflectivity because highly reflecting materials do not emit sufficient photons to produce a blackbody spectrum. Pumping heat into the walls of a highly reflecting cavity in order to produce additional photons in an attempt to achieve black radiation within it never works, because the cavity walls will increase in temperature rather than emit sufficient photons, so that the radiation field within the cavity never reaches the intensity of a blackbody at the temperature of the cavity walls. This is why Planck's equation for thermal spectra is not universal - it applies only to a truly black material such as soot, within an enclosure at thermal equilibrium. No matter what 't Hooft and Koberlein plead, Planck's setting of ρ = ρ', making the reflectivity of all materials the same, is patently absurd. Where has their much revered 'peer-review' been? Out to lunch indefinitely? It has had since 1859 to expose Kirchhoff's fallacy, and since 1901 to expose Planck's sublime comedy, but dismally failed to do so. So much for 'peer-review' and its lunch breaks. Physics must now be held accountable for letting Planck get away with his disgraceful deception.

Mr. 't Hooft said of me:

"Robitaille had criticised CMB observations, and since Crothers wanted to argue away the CMB for his own purposes, he became an admirer of Robitaille."

There is nothing in Mr. 't Hooft's remark that even remotely constitutes a scientific argument. Any thinking person must surely expect an attempt at a scientific argument, especially from a Nobel Laureate. Alas, Mr. 't Hooft is habitually light on science and heavy-handed with irrelevancies and divergencies, as revealed in detail here:

Crothers, S. J., General Relativity: In Acknowledgement Of Professor Gerardus ‘t Hooft, Nobel Laureate, (2014)

and again here in summary.

Mr. Koberlein has added another misconception to his growing list thereof, in total ignorance of the facts (the wood is getting thicker). Here is what he said after Mr. 't Hooft joined him and his windmills:

"Robitaille's main rebuttal seems to be that the blackbody radiation law is wrong. We have tons of evidence to say that it's right, but Robitaille and his fans disagree.

But neither Professor Robitaille nor I have ever made such an unconditional claim. As I have already said above, Kirchhoff's Law of Thermal Emission is false and so Planck's equation for thermal spectra is not universal; the latter applies only to a truly black material such as soot, at thermal equilibrium within an enclosure. Arbitrary cavities never contain black radiation unless a black material, such as soot, is present. All has been explained in this paper:

Robitaille P.-M., Crothers S. J. "The Theory of Heat Radiation" Revisited: A Commentary on the Validity of Kirchhoff's Law of Thermal Emission and Max Planck's Claim of Universality, Progress in Physics, v. 11, p.120-132, (2015).

But such things are beyond the ken of wooden heads.

Update: Koberlein the disingenuous

On 15th August 2015 Koberlien wrote this on his website:

"If Robitaile thinks he's right, he is free to submit his work for peer review. He hasn't done that. Unless and until he does that, there is no debate to be had on an academic level."

Koberlein again utters falsehoods. Professor Robitaille has published numerous papers in the peer-reviewed journal Progress in Physics. What Koberlien doesn't like is that Robitaille did not chose to submit his papers to any journal Koberlein prefers with reviewers Koberlein prefers and so was not prevented from publishing. Note that Koberliein deludes himself that because of this he and the cosmologists do not have to do any science to defend their phantasmagoria against the sober analyses adduced by Professor Robitaille. Science does not care for what journals Koberlein prefers or what reviewers he prefers.

A foolish fellow commented on Koberlein's webpage about Professor Robitaille,

"If he's not a crank, how come he hasn't cashed in on his radical discovery re thermodynamics, the one which permits the extraction of unlimited free energy? If you don't understand what I'm referring to, then you have not read his works (or, perhaps, do not understand them)."

Anybody who thinks that the invalidity of Kirchhoff's Law of Thermal Emission and the non-universal character of Planck's equation for thermal spectra permits extraction of unlimited energy and the production of a perpetual mobile has no understanding of thermodynamics. And Koberlein does not mind and indeed allows his supporters to post to his webpage an odd ad hominem against Professor Robitaille yet whines because I called him a liar for actually lying about Professor Robitaille.

Page established: 5th March 2015

Page updated: 24th August 2015

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