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Bruce Tai

Secrets in the wood (Stradivari's maple)

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@Don Noon

There is no doubt that violins change a lot over time, including changes in the physical/chemical properties of the wood. Many times these changes require the violin to be physically adjusted or repaired. The point that I am trying to make is that there is no proof that the aging of the wood (the micro-changes in the physical/chemical properties) has any independent perceptible effect on the quality of the tone produced by the violin. But we can prove that the macro-changes (sound post adjustments, bridge replacements, repairs, etc.) do have very large perceptible effects on the quality of the tone.

Because there is no proof that the aging of the wood alone has any independent perceptible effect on the quality of the tone, there is no proof whatsoever that centuries-old violins have a sound that cannot be duplicated in new violins exclusively because the wood is old.

@Bruce Tai

Thank you for your reply. I never questioned whether or not cellulose degraded or changed over time. Of course it does. So your discussion of wood degradation is interesting, but offers no proof that wood aging in violins over long periods has any independent perceptible effect on the quality of the tone produced by the violin. 

Your statement that “mechanical energy from playing will likely accelerate this breakdown by injecting more energy” is highly unlikely to be true. Unless the mechanical energy from playing generates enough heat in the wood to increase the rate of cellulose degradation measurably, it is unlikely that “mechanical energy from playing” accelerates the chemical reaction. Leaving a violin in a warm case in the sun would likely have a much greater effect on cellulose degradation than the minuscule amounts of heat generated by playing. 

I do not know the reaction kinetics for cellulose degradation, but perhaps you do. If so, you should be able to show the relationship of temperature to the reaction rate and determine if “mechanical energy from playing” would generate enough heat to have any measurable effect at all on cellulose degradation rates. Then you would know, and you would not have to speculate.

Not that it matters, because you have not offered any measurable proof that the aging of the wood (including cellulose degradation) has any independent perceptible effect on the quality of the tone, or that old violins sound different (or better) simply because they are old. 

Citing Chinese folklore of as some kind of proof that wood aging improves violin tone is simply funny. Lei had as much proof that wood aging improves the sound of guqins after 500 years as you do that it improves the sound of violins after 300 years, which is none. But I am guessing that Lei's claim kept the price of ancient guqins going up!

Finally, I know exactly what I am talking about when I talk about entropy and statistics, and it isn’t pseudoscience. Cellulose degradation does increase a violin’s entropy over time, but you knew that. And the statistical tests you used in your last paper to claim statistical significance were, in fact, incorrectly applied and misleading. I am not the person making extraordinary claims with no evidence to support them. 

@Violadamore

So you “get a distinct feeling” that have a “fixed agenda”? What does that mean? Is that good or bad?

Look, if True Believers want to stand around admiring and discussing the emperor’s new clothes, that is fine. But it is also fine when “vociferous doubters” like me point out that there isn’t a thread of evidence that he is wearing any.

The rest of your reply to Don I pretty much agree with, except the part about ignoring “vociferous doubters”. Skepticism is essential for good science, and it is good to doubt the doubters, too

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18 hours ago, Bruce Tai said:

We now have Cl, Si, and S measurements set up on ICP-MS. We will have to see how reliable they are. 

Boron is a really interesting element. It is generally 5 ppm  or so on natural spruce and maple, old or new.  In all Cremona samples, including repeated sampling of the same instrument, it is  20-60 ppm. This is remarkably consistent considering how heterogeneous wood can be (heart wood, sap wood, close to vessels, porous areas, etc.). I believe that borax was thoroughly soaked into the wood. We have now several hints that at least some of the minerals were applied by soaking. Others may be applied at the surface. I don't think wood preservatives are applied at the varnishing step.  They are probably applied before long-term storage.Wood stain may carry one or two unusual elements, but we have absolutely no idea what this stain is.  Brandmair's  photos  show very shallow penetration of wood stains. So I don't think it can be detected from internal scrapings. We will never know the exact procedure, though, no matter how much chemical analysis is done.       

Bruce, perhaps I should have been more direct in what I was trying to convey in my earlier post...

I have seen what I think is varnish penetrate through a maple back.  My best guess is that the upper bout region would have been at least 2mm thick.  (If this is the case, then my next best guess would be that a stain or thin free flowing treatment might have the potential to penetrate even further.)

Re material from soundpost patch beds, this could have come from an area very close to the outer surface, or even virtually at the outer surface; i.e., next to the varnished outer surface.

I agree with your interpretation of Brandmair's photos.  However there could well be significantly greater depth staining effects if exposed surface end grain was involved.

It is good to hear that you now are able to measure for Cl, Si and S.  As I have mentioned, these elements feature in other studies involving Strad maple.

Have you tried thoroughly soaking spruce or maple in a borax solution?  In my experience long term thorough soaking in a borax solution seems to change appearance in a way contrary to what I have seen in Strads.

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I think some people here probably haven't heard any guqin live performance. 

Guqin is a very quiet instrument. I doubt playing ten guqins together can not make a louder sound than a acoustic guitar.

Look at the system of a guqin. How the string tied on a guqin make it sound quiet too. That's why I think guqin is a string dinner table that the wood is really important. 

How the strings put on a violin is another interesting method to make things work like a violin. And also makes lots of variable elements to make a good violin.

Another thing is what Harte has said. When I apply something by brush on maple rib, it is easy to go though a 1.5-2mm maple rib since maple has lots of endgrain. If the wood is remove for the post patch or edge,  the minerals may come from inner seal by brush. 

 

 

Edited by SFTong

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5 hours ago, John Harte said:

In my experience long term thorough soaking in a borax solution seems to change appearance in a way contrary to what I have seen in Strads.

I have tried this, and the initial result appears to be a modest gray-ish tint and later a more brown after thermal processing.  I don't think the difference is distinctive enough to say one way or another whether it is more or less Strad-like.  Then there's the issue of what happens over 300 years to borax-treated wood, which we can't really know.

If boron is being used as a big clue, I think we need to rule out the possibility that the trees grew in a high-boron soil, and just got absorbed by the tree naturally.  I don't know enough to say anything about this, but I vaguely recall somebody somewhere mentioning buying wood only from the Dolomite region for the mineral content.

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13 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

So you “get a distinct feeling” that have a “fixed agenda”? What does that mean? Is that good or bad?

Look, if True Believers want to stand around admiring and discussing the emperor’s new clothes, that is fine. But it is also fine when “vociferous doubters” like me point out that there isn’t a thread of evidence that he is wearing any.

The rest of your reply to Don I pretty much agree with, except the part about ignoring “vociferous doubters”. Skepticism is essential for good science, and it is good to doubt the doubters, too

Your position seems inflexible, and I'd strongly suspect that it's determined by pre-existing bias.  I accuse you of merely being another variety of "True Believer".  I've seen this sort of thing before, and don't have to sample it to know to step around it. 

I suggested, many posts previously, in kinder terms more vague, that if their posted views were going to involve matters beyond proof themselves, such as political convictions, adherence to a secular religion, etc., or spurred by a interest in provoking controversy for it's own sake, that posters wishing to indulge in such things take it to another thread for the sake of good manners.  You are perfectly free to post a new topic arguing your conviction that Bruce is a pseudoscientific charlatan a priori, and I'll leave reading it to Jeffrey and other interested parties.

Curiosity and a devotion to enhancing Humanity's storehouse of useful and trustworthy knowledge no matter where the facts may lead, are, IMHO, essential to good science.  "Skepticism" is a secular religion devoted to debunking the views of others without regard to, or serious investigation of, whether the reported observations are real, and, frequently, without regard for decorum.  I feel that your posts have been generating more heat than light. 

Bruce Tai started this thread to report some factual observations he'd made in his laboratory.  I probably question some parts of his interpretation as much as any here, but I'm not going to pelt him with dung and vitriol for kindly sharing his lab data with us.  He really didn't have to, and I hope he continues to do so. :P

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28 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

...

Bruce Tai started this thread to report some factual observations he'd made in his laboratory.  ... I'm not going to pelt him with dung and vitriol for kindly sharing his lab data with us.  He really didn't have to, and I hope he continues to do so. :P

Well said!  

I'd like to thank Bruce for sharing his information so willingly when he didn't have to too.

I think it's rather funny that we will defend the 'mystery' of the violin to the death, but try and kill potential facts on sight.

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38 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Your position seems inflexible, and I'd strongly suspect that it's determined by pre-existing bias.  I accuse you of merely being another variety of "True Believer".  I've seen this sort of thing before, and don't have to sample it to know to step around it. 

I suggested, many posts previously, in kinder terms more vague, that if their posted views were going to involve matters beyond proof themselves, such as political convictions, adherence to a secular religion, etc., or spurred by a interest in provoking controversy for it's own sake, that posters wishing to indulge in such things take it to another thread for the sake of good manners.  You are perfectly free to post a new topic arguing your conviction that Bruce is a pseudoscientific charlatan a priori, and I'll leave reading it to Jeffrey and other interested parties.

Curiosity and a devotion to enhancing Humanity's storehouse of useful and trustworthy knowledge no matter where the facts may lead, are, IMHO, essential to good science.  "Skepticism" is a secular religion devoted to debunking the views of others without regard to, or serious investigation of, whether the reported observations are real, and, frequently, without regard for decorum.  I feel that your posts have been generating more heat than light. 

Bruce Tai started this thread to report some factual observations he'd made in his laboratory.  I probably question some parts of his interpretation as much as any here, but I'm not going to pelt him with dung and vitriol for kindly sharing his lab data with us.  He really didn't have to, and I hope he continues to do so. :P

Respect.

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4 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Your position seems inflexible, and I'd strongly suspect that it's determined by pre-existing bias.  I accuse you of merely being another variety of "True Believer".  I've seen this sort of thing before, and don't have to sample it to know to step around it. 

I suggested, many posts previously, in kinder terms more vague, that if their posted views were going to involve matters beyond proof themselves, such as political convictions, adherence to a secular religion, etc., or spurred by a interest in provoking controversy for it's own sake, that posters wishing to indulge in such things take it to another thread for the sake of good manners.  You are perfectly free to post a new topic arguing your conviction that Bruce is a pseudoscientific charlatan a priori, and I'll leave reading it to Jeffrey and other interested parties.

Curiosity and a devotion to enhancing Humanity's storehouse of useful and trustworthy knowledge no matter where the facts may lead, are, IMHO, essential to good science.  "Skepticism" is a secular religion devoted to debunking the views of others without regard to, or serious investigation of, whether the reported observations are real, and, frequently, without regard for decorum.  I feel that your posts have been generating more heat than light. 

Bruce Tai started this thread to report some factual observations he'd made in his laboratory.  I probably question some parts of his interpretation as much as any here, but I'm not going to pelt him with dung and vitriol for kindly sharing his lab data with us.  He really didn't have to, and I hope he continues to do so. :P

Amen.  Well said.

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@Violadamore

Your criticisms of my “inflexible position,” “pre-determined bias,” and of skepticism as a “secular religion,” however amusing, are totally irrelevant to the crux of the points that others and I have been making in this thread. But since you seem interested, my “inflexible position” and “pre-determined bias” are that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

Extraordinary claims of scientific discovery that are not supported by verifiable proof are pseudoscience. History is littered with examples of this, and it is a plague on real science, particularly in health sciences.

Tai has made some extraordinary claims in this thread and in his last paper without verifiable evidence or analyses to support them. I don’t think that it is wrong to point this out, or to ask for verifiable proof, or to discuss faulty data or statistical analyses, or to apply Occam’s razor to offer simpler explanations that fit a given set of facts. 

I do understand that you and others disagree with this approach, but it is certainly aligned with your wish to enhance “Humanity's storehouse of useful and trustworthy knowledge no matter where the facts may lead.” 

Information presented as factual without proof and without question is not trustworthy.

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1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

@Violadamore

Your criticisms of my “inflexible position,” “pre-determined bias,” and of skepticism as a “secular religion,” however amusing, are totally irrelevant to the crux of the points that others and I have been making in this thread. But since you seem interested, my “inflexible position” and “pre-determined bias” are that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

Extraordinary claims of scientific discovery that are not supported by verifiable proof are pseudoscience. History is littered with examples of this, and it is a plague on real science, particularly in health sciences.

Tai has made some extraordinary claims in this thread and in his last paper without verifiable evidence or analyses to support them. I don’t think that it is wrong to point this out, or to ask for verifiable proof, or to discuss faulty data or statistical analyses, or to apply Occam’s razor to offer simpler explanations that fit a given set of facts. 

I do understand that you and others disagree with this approach, but it is certainly aligned with your wish to enhance “Humanity's storehouse of useful and trustworthy knowledge no matter where the facts may lead.” 

Information presented as factual without proof and without question is not trustworthy.

Dear heavens!  He told you what he found, where he looked, and how he measured it.  That's all that's required.  It's your professional responsibility to go out and verify reproducibility, in the laboratory, and to propose an alternative explanation if you find the same thing, but disagree with his interpretation.  You can't start shouting "Liar, liar, pants on fire", until you've thoroughly and seriously tried to reproduce his results, and been unable to do so.  I am not in full accord with his interpretation and his opinions, (though I could be persuaded by sufficient supporting references, or further original work) but without extraordinary evidence to the contrary, I would never accuse a colleague of faking his results, which is what you are doing.  Even UFO photos deserve being gone over by an experienced photointerpreter, and Bruce's work is immensely far above that standard.  You seem to argue that any finding that offends your personal interpretation of reality deserves automatic suppression.   That certainly isn't science. :P

 

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, Don Noon said:

I have tried this, and the initial result appears to be a modest gray-ish tint and later a more brown after thermal processing.  I don't think the difference is distinctive enough to say one way or another whether it is more or less Strad-like.  Then there's the issue of what happens over 300 years to borax-treated wood, which we can't really know.

If boron is being used as a big clue, I think we need to rule out the possibility that the trees grew in a high-boron soil, and just got absorbed by the tree naturally.  I don't know enough to say anything about this, but I vaguely recall somebody somewhere mentioning buying wood only from the Dolomite region for the mineral content.

I agree regarding time effects.  We don't know.

I should also mention that my comment relates to spruce only.  (From my notes it seems that I did treat some maple but would have to find that...)  Re spruce, I wouldn't describe my result as a modest grey.  It was somewhat more pronounced.  There are several respects in which this wood changed as a consequence of treatment and appears to differ from what I have generally seen in Strad belly wood.  Your results and experience could well be different from mine; i.e., different wood, different concentration and length of treatment, different viewing conditions etc..  And then there is the question of what we are each actually noticing.

It would be interesting to know what different growing conditions can contribute.

In terms of treating wood, it would be interesting to know the extent of soaking in borax required to lift levels to 20-60ppm from 5ppm.  It may be considerably less than what thorough long term soaking might produce.  It could also be that a relatively homogeneous soaking may not reflect the reality of Bruce's sample material.  (I suspect that his data represents an overall reading for a particular weight of sample material and will not reflect any variation that might exist within that material as could result from surface treatment versus thorough soaking.  It would be interesting to hear comment from Bruce on this.)

 

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@Violadamore

No, despite your plea to the heavens, we actually don’t know “what he found, where he looked, and how he measured it.” Or perhaps you can explain it to me:

- Can you prove that the “Brancaccio” neck is from an authentic Stradivarius violin? If the extraordinary claim that it is from a long lost Strad cannot be proven (and it hasn't been yet) then any data from it cannot be claimed to be from a Stradivarius or even a Cremonese violin.

- Do you know what specific instruments the other samples came from, and the authenticity and history of those instruments? You don’t know because they are deliberately being kept secret. If we don’t know what instruments were sampled, then it is impossible to independently verify the results, even in theory.

- Do you know the sampling processes for each instrument, including location, procedures, and storage containers and conditions?  If we don’t know this, then we don’t know where the samples came from, or the possibility of contamination, or other sample or sampling anomalies.

- Can you describe how the samples were stored and for how long? Small samples of wood will have large and varying surface-area-to-volume ratios and will adsorb water in different amounts. Different quantities of water adsorbed within milligram samples can skew analytical results.

- Can you describe what analytical standards were used to calibrate the instruments for these types of samples? What controls were used? Limits of quantification? These are unusual samples. If analytical standards and controls are not used and/or disclosed, then the analytical results are certainly open to question.

- Do you know what the inherent experimental errors are for the test methods and equipment (accuracy and precision)? If the accuracy and precision of the test methods and instrumentation are not determined and disclosed, then we can’t tell if the sample test results are, in fact, different from each other or if the differences between samples are within the experimental error. 

And that is just the beginning...

I have not called anybody a "liar," or claimed that Tai is “faking his results.” I certainly don’t believe “that any finding that offends [my]  personal interpretation of reality deserves automatic suppression.” I never said or implied that. Your insinuations about me are both irrelevant and absurd. I have valid and explicitly stated questions about the origin of the samples and quality of the data. You may not think these questions are important or even understand them, but I do. 

What I am pointing out is that the scientific evidence and analyses offered by Tai in this thread and in his last paper are woefully insufficient to support his extraordinary claims that Stradivarius treated his wood, or that it is a “historical fact” that “all Cremonese makers used unnatural wood,” or that mineral treatments may effect tone quality, or that the tone of old Cremonese instruments cannot possibly be reproduced by the newer instruments because of the natural aging and/or mineral treatments of the old wood. 

None of these claims are supported by any scientific, biographic, or historical data, which is why I call them pseudoscience. The most that can be concluded from Tai’s work is that some Cremonese instruments may show unusual concentrations of minerals of the types that are associated with wood preservative treatments at the time, and this deserves further investigation. That’s all. 

I am not going to speculate here on the possible reasons that Tai may have for making his extraordinary claims about discovering lost secrets of Stradivarius, but you might want think about some of them yourself before you start casting aspersions about my motivations in questioning those claims.

Finally, since you believe that all pseudoscientific claims, like pictures of UFOs, are worthy of serious investigation by experienced investigators, I'd like it invite you to come see the fire-breathing dragon that lives in my garage. She'll even cook us dinner. :D

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1 hour ago, GeorgeH said:

[...] The most that can be concluded from Tai’s work is that some Cremonese instruments may show unusual concentrations of minerals of the types that are associated with wood preservative treatments at the time, and this deserves further investigation. That’s all. 

[..]

And that's enough to be interesting, and to get my thanks.   I agree that speculations offered beyond that are just speculations, and shouldn't be given anymore credit than that.

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3 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

@Violadamore

No, despite your plea to the heavens, we actually don’t know “what he found, where he looked, and how he measured it.” Or perhaps you can explain it to me:

- Can you prove that the “Brancaccio” neck is from an authentic Stradivarius violin? If the extraordinary claim that it is from a long lost Strad cannot be proven (and it hasn't been yet) then any data from it cannot be claimed to be from a Stradivarius or even a Cremonese violin.

- Do you know what specific instruments the other samples came from, and the authenticity and history of those instruments? You don’t know because they are deliberately being kept secret. If we don’t know what instruments were sampled, then it is impossible to independently verify the results, even in theory.

- Do you know the sampling processes for each instrument, including location, procedures, and storage containers and conditions?  If we don’t know this, then we don’t know where the samples came from, or the possibility of contamination, or other sample or sampling anomalies.

- Can you describe how the samples were stored and for how long? Small samples of wood will have large and varying surface-area-to-volume ratios and will adsorb water in different amounts. Different quantities of water adsorbed within milligram samples can skew analytical results.

- Can you describe what analytical standards were used to calibrate the instruments for these types of samples? What controls were used? Limits of quantification? These are unusual samples. If analytical standards and controls are not used and/or disclosed, then the analytical results are certainly open to question.

- Do you know what the inherent experimental errors are for the test methods and equipment (accuracy and precision)? If the accuracy and precision of the test methods and instrumentation are not determined and disclosed, then we can’t tell if the sample test results are, in fact, different from each other or if the differences between samples are within the experimental error. 

And that is just the beginning...

I have not called anybody a "liar," or claimed that Tai is “faking his results.” I certainly don’t believe “that any finding that offends [my]  personal interpretation of reality deserves automatic suppression.” I never said or implied that. Your insinuations about me are both irrelevant and absurd. I have valid and explicitly stated questions about the origin of the samples and quality of the data. You may not think these questions are important or even understand them, but I do. 

What I am pointing out is that the scientific evidence and analyses offered by Tai in this thread and in his last paper are woefully insufficient to support his extraordinary claims that Stradivarius treated his wood, or that it is a “historical fact” that “all Cremonese makers used unnatural wood,” or that mineral treatments may effect tone quality, or that the tone of old Cremonese instruments cannot possibly be reproduced by the newer instruments because of the natural aging and/or mineral treatments of the old wood. 

None of these claims are supported by any scientific, biographic, or historical data, which is why I call them pseudoscience. The most that can be concluded from Tai’s work is that some Cremonese instruments may show unusual concentrations of minerals of the types that are associated with wood preservative treatments at the time, and this deserves further investigation. That’s all. 

I am not going to speculate here on the possible reasons that Tai may have for making his extraordinary claims about discovering lost secrets of Stradivarius, but you might want think about some of them yourself before you start casting aspersions about my motivations in questioning those claims.

Finally, since you believe that all pseudoscientific claims, like pictures of UFOs, are worthy of serious investigation by experienced investigators, I'd like it invite you to come see the fire-breathing dragon that lives in my garage. She'll even cook us dinner. :D

Nice rant.  If you aren't throwing aspersions on Bruce, what the Hell are you doing?

In my own home fields, there have been a number of "pseudoscientific" claims which were eventually rammed down the throats of "skeptics" with a great deal of sustained effort, decades after they should have been seriously investigated, accepted, and used to extend our reach and our grasp. 

As is well known hereabouts, I've been involved in the aerospace industry, all of which was a subject for jokes in my grandfather's youth.  When I was growing up, I still got in lots of trouble by being interested in what my father called "that Buck Rogers crap".  While making an excellent living out of said "crap" I delighted in rubbing some noses in it.  Getting space research funded and taken seriously is still an uphill battle.  Enough said.

In geology and geophysics, Wegener's Continental Drift Hypothesis is probably the poster child.  While some would give the supporters of various now-extinct tectonic theories a sop to their pride, and say that it couldn't be proved until the magnetic stripes paralleling the oceanic ridges were discovered, that's largely crap.  Stratigraphic units that disappear on one side of an ocean and reappear on the other should have shown anyone with eyes and imagination what the situation had to be in the 1930's.  Some authors, such as Lake and Rastall, were devoting some space in their textbooks to Wegener's hypothesis in the 1940's, though still discussing more conventional theories.  I remember the revolution that occurred when plate tectonics began to be too solid to ignore, and the old guard did not yield with much grace.  If you want to read pseudoscience in all it's glory, take a look at the remarkable farrago of ridiculous theories that were invented (and some of them respectably taught at the college level!) to explain glacial moraines at the Equator, tropical fossils in the Arctic, fossils of the same non-flying, non-swimming species on either side of an ocean (ever heard of Lemuria?), and a number of other paleontological, petrological, and structural phenomena that are easily explained today without globe-shifting catastrophes, long, skinny sunken land bridges, widespread metamorphic granitization, geosynclines, or any of that hooey (oh, where was Occam's Razor then?:lol:).  And we can easily and simply explain matters of vulcanism and orogeny that mystified the finest minds in the business 70 years ago.  Yet when Wegener first proposed that continents slowly moved around, he was literally derided in speeches before geological societies as a liar and a madman.

Besides Wegener, there's been the crap the Alvarezes caught when they first advanced the asteroidal Cretaceous extinction hypothesis, which wasn't as bad as it might have been, mainly due to the fact that admitting the existence of any astroblemes whatsoever had only recently been fought out between conservative volcanic and innovative meteoritic factions.  When I was a kid, it was reliably and trustworthily stated in all the best textbooks that the craters of the Moon were volcanic, as was "Meteor Crater" in Arizona, and that people who thought otherwise were just silly.  That argument was still going on when I hit college, though, by that time, the truth (and who the winners would be) was obvious.

Even now, there are controversial areas such as EQL's, and other periseismic phenomena which could possibly be used as warning signs, that are complicated by investigators who refuse to go look for something until they have a theory to explain it. 

So please forgive me if I have minimal love for "skeptics".  I've seen very little good come from them, and a great deal come from ideas that they tried at one time, to kill. 

Oh, BTW, this ain't the cafeteria at NASA, and you ain't Carl Sagan.................... :P

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On 10/6/2017 at 5:02 AM, Bruce Tai said:

Boron is a really interesting element. It is generally 5 ppm  or so on natural spruce and maple, old or new.  In all Cremona samples, including repeated sampling of the same instrument, it is  20-60 ppm. This is remarkably consistent considering how heterogeneous wood can be (heart wood, sap wood, close to vessels, porous areas, etc.). I believe that borax was thoroughly soaked into the wood.  

I ran some rough numbers on what I tried, fully saturating spruce (with multiple cycles of vacuum and pressure, which was necessary to get the solution into the wood completely) with a 1.5% solution of borax.  The solution doesn't just drip out again... it stays in there and needs a long time to air dry.  Anyway, I estimate my  treated wood to have a boron content of ~720 ppm.  If that's right, then the solution to get to 40 ppm would be very weak, assuming they could even get it fully into the spruce.  Maple is a lot easier.  My 720 ppm spruce didn't turn out any different from untreated spruce except for a slight color difference.  And it totally screwed up the readings from a pin-type moisture meter.

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1 hour ago, Don Noon said:

I ran some rough numbers on what I tried, fully saturating spruce (with multiple cycles of vacuum and pressure, which was necessary to get the solution into the wood completely) with a 1.5% solution of borax.  The solution doesn't just drip out again... it stays in there and needs a long time to air dry.  Anyway, I estimate my  treated wood to have a boron content of ~720 ppm.  If that's right, then the solution to get to 40 ppm would be very weak, assuming they could even get it fully into the spruce.  Maple is a lot easier.  My 720 ppm spruce didn't turn out any different from untreated spruce except for a slight color difference.  And it totally screwed up the readings from a pin-type moisture meter.

Thank you Don.  This is very interesting.

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8 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Nice rant.  If you aren't throwing aspersions on Bruce, what the Hell are you doing?

Really, really, really, I have been trying to tell you. I am pointing out that his extraordinary claims and conclusions are not supported by the data and analyses he presents. I believe that the claims regarding "secrets of Stradivarius" are in the realm of pseudoscience. Perhaps some discovery in the future by him or someone else will support his claims (although some I believe are unprovable). Perhaps the “Brancaccio” neck will be proven to be from an authentic Stradivarius violin. 

I have been wrong in the past and I am sure that I will be wrong in the future, but neither you nor I can predict the future. At least I believe that.

I don’t know why you keep accusing me of attacking Tai personally. I am offering the same critiques that I would offer if I was a pre-publication referee on his paper. There are good reasons that peer-review is used, even though it is far far from perfect. There are also very good reasons that journals often discourage or prohibit public discussions of papers and data by authors prior to publication. Since he has chosen to discuss bits and pieces here, I am not sure why you are so upset that some readers have contrary opinions, and with good reasons.

Some journals are also becoming much savvier around the claims of “statistical significance,” and and misuse of statistics, including banning the use of p-values as a measure of statistical significance. 

Your broad-brush condemnation of skeptics and skepticism is misplaced. Skepticism is a tool that can be misused like any tool. For example, the skeptics of anthropomorphic global warming are making policies that could be leading the planet to a mass extinction event. But I have seen lots of good come from skeptics (example: preventing thalidomide from being approved in the U.S.), and lots of bad happen when skeptics have been silenced or ignored (example: skepticism about WMDs in Iraq). Don’t blame the saw for cutting down the wrong tree.

I agree with @David Beard  that the research that Tai is doing is interesting, worthwhile by itself, and should be continued, but I and others also have many valid critiques about his materials, methods, analytical tests, and statistics, some of which I outlined in this thread. I do think that the extraordinary claims and conclusions he makes regarding "secrets of Stradivarius" are just not currently supported by the data and analyses he presents, and there is nothing wrong in stating that.

Hitting the road for a while now.

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10 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

 The most that can be concluded from Tai’s work is that some Cremonese instruments may show unusual concentrations of minerals of the types that are associated with wood preservative treatments at the time, and this deserves further investigation. That’s all. 

 

Well said and bears repeating. 

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23 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

I don’t know why you keep accusing me of attacking Tai personally.

................... Don’t blame the saw for cutting down the wrong tree.

I agree with @David Beard  that the research that Tai is doing is interesting, worthwhile by itself, and should be continued, but I and others also have many valid critiques about his materials, methods, analytical tests, and statistics, some of which I outlined in this thread. I do think that the extraordinary claims and conclusions he makes regarding "secrets of Stradivarius" are just not currently supported by the data and analyses he presents, and there is nothing wrong in stating that.

Hitting the road for a while now.

1.  Maybe it's your hectoring tone?  And the public nature of the forum?

2.  I don't, I blame the nut behind the saw.

3.  If you'd limited your comments to something like that, we wouldn't be having this exchange.

4.  "Thank God and Greyhound.............."  :P

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3 minutes ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Well said and bears repeating. 

Yup, but he said so much else:)

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12 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

 

The most that can be concluded from Tai’s work is that some Cremonese instruments may show unusual concentrations of minerals of the types that are associated with wood preservative treatments at the time, and this deserves further investigation. That’s all. 

As said by Cockburn, Harte, Molnar et al - Like 

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GeorgeH, you have repeatedly denounced Bruce Tai's arguments even before you have seen the data, or at least all the data.  You have denounced him as a pseudoscientist, even though he has posted most of the world's data on some extremely rare samples.  You have adopted a persistent accusatory tone that many of us find unacceptable.  I was going to warn you away from this behavior, but it's too late.  I have already written you off as a crank with an agenda, and others have too.

When Tai's papers are published, and only then, you will have an opportunity to submit a comment to the journals.  That will be considered by the editors, possibly with the advice of referees or an editorial board.  It might help your case if you have any credibility of your own as a scientist or luthier.  You will have one and only one shot at making a carefully-written, carefully-reasoned argument.  Unfortunately, this is the Internet, and you are allowed to filibuster.

The rest of us will have a scientific exchange of ideas and arguments in the spirit of learning something about old instruments.  You, on the other hand, seem determined to continue with an unhelpful, accusatory tone.  Have a good trip, and take your time while the rest of us discuss the subject impassionately.

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13 hours ago, GeorgeH said:

The most that can be concluded from Tai’s work is that some Cremonese instruments may show unusual concentrations of minerals of the types that are associated with wood preservative treatments at the time, and this deserves further investigation. That’s all. 

2 hours ago, Michael_Molnar said:

Well said and bears repeating. 

2 hours ago, Violadamore said:

Yup, but he said so much else:)

That's not really "all"... and, in my mind, not even the most important.

worth repeating:  40% reduction in EMC due to normal hemicellulose degradation associated with age.

 

 

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