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just trying to figure things out.


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Comments for Sunday, February 17, 2019, thru Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019:

February 20, 2019 - This afternoon, while driving around doing chores, I finished listening to CD #4 of the 4 CD audio book set for "The Order of Time" by Carlo Rovelli.

The Order of Time
 
While it was generally worthwhile, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend the book.  Too much of it is philosophy instead of science.  But Rovelli does make some good scientific points.  For example, he says this on page 43:
For millennia before clocks, our only regular way of measuring time had been the alternation of day and night. The rhythm of day followed by night also regulates the lives of plants and animals. Diurnal rhythms are ubiquitous in the natural world. They are essential to life, and it seems to me probable that they played a key role in the very origin of life on Earth, since an oscillation is required to set a mechanism in motion. Living organisms are full of clocks of various kinds—molecular, neuronal, chemical, hormonal—each of them more or less in tune with the others. There are chemical mechanisms that keep to a twenty-four-hour rhythm even in the biochemistry of single cells.
Later on the same page, Rovelli says,  
Aristotle is the first we are aware of to have asked himself the question “What is time?,” and he came to the following conclusion: time is the measurement of change. Things change continually. We call “time” the measurement, the counting of this change.
and
So if nothing changes, if nothing moves, does time therefore cease to pass?

Aristotle believed that it did. If nothing changes, time does not pass — because time is our way of situating ourselves in relation to the changing of things: the placing of ourselves in relation to the counting of days. Time is the measure of change: if nothing changes, there is no time.
I agree with that, although I wouldn't phrase things that way.  Its a philosophical view, not a scientific view where (in my view) time is simply particle spin.  Change and other effects of particle spin are measurements of time, not time itself.

Quantum Mechanics, of course, looks at time differently.  It quantizes time.  It requires that time consist of multiples of a specific unit ("quanta").  On page 54, Rovelli writes this about how time is viewed in Quantum Mechanics:
The time measured by a clock is “quantified,” that is to say, it acquires only certain values and not others. It is as if time were granular rather than continuous.
and
The “quantization” of time implies that almost all values of time t do not exist. If we could measure the duration of an interval with the most precise clock imaginable, we should find that the time measured takes only certain discrete, special values. It is not possible to think of duration as continuous. We must think of it as discontinuous: not as something that flows uniformly but as something that in a certain sense jumps, kangaroo-like, from one value to another.

In other words, a minimum interval of time exists. Below this, the notion of time does not exist—even in its most basic meaning.
It's difficult for me to make any sense of that, and Rovelli doesn't try to.  He just describes it as another way for a philosopher to view time.

The books provides a lot to think about, particularly about how entropy relates to time, but the net result of spending 4 hours and 23 minutes listening to the book while two weeks went by is more akin to confusion than enlightenment.

February 18, 2019
- I my February 16 comment I mentioned that I had accessed some podcasts for the first time.  It was the first time I found podcasts that didn't require joining something and paying a fee.  The podcasts were on a web site titled Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, and there are currently 348 podcasts available.

I began by listening to episode #348 in which the host of the show, David Barr Kirtley, interviews astrophysicist and science fiction writer Gregory Benford.  While the whole interview was enjoyable and worthwhile, I
found something very interesting near the end, at about the 1 hour, 2 minutes and 40 seconds mark.  At that point Benford says,
I'm always trying to use my unconscious as much as possible in order to avoid extra labor. I think one of the great [mumble] about people is whether they've learned to use their unconscious to solve problems.  I use it every day.

I review all the things I'm working on just before I go to sleep, and when I wake up in the morning I do not open my eyes, I lie there and recall what I was working on.  And about one time in three there is an idea there - for free - and it almost always works!  And it's been produced by your unconscious, which has still been working while you were asleep.
That's exactly what I do!  I've mentioned it in comments I've written here many times.  Recently, I've been thinking about photons just before going to sleep, hoping that my unconscious mind will figure out something while I'm asleep.  I think it needs more information.  So, I'm going to have to do more research.

In the Interview, Benford also mentions discussing the unconscious mind with another scientist, and together they wondered:  

We evolved with an unconscious.  Why?  Why did we evolve with an unconscious mind?
They had no answer to that.  Maybe they need to think about it just before going to sleep.  Or maybe I do.

After finishing Episode #348, I started on Episode #347.  In it,
David Barr Kirtley interviews three different science fiction writers about a science fiction anthology TV series titled "Dimension 404."  The series is on Hulu, and I'm not a subscriber, so I've never seen it.  I don't even know how to access Hulu.

But, very little of the show was about "Dimension 404."  Mostly it was about other things.  They talked past TV anthology series such as "The Twilight Zone," "The Outer Limits," "One Step Beyond" and "Amazing Stories."  And there is also a series titled "Black Mirror" on Netflix, which I've also never seen.  They also talked about a book called "The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos," which I had never heard of before.

I was probably ten minutes into the show when I had to grab a pen and a piece of paper so I could start making notes.  I didn't know Jeff Bezos had a company called "Blue Origin" which is involved with space exploration.  I may have read about it or heard about it before, but it never registered the way it did while I was listening to that podcast.  

I listened to all or parts of about 6 other episodes, working backward through the list, and while they weren't all as interesting as the first two I'd heard, they sometimes caused me to grab that paper and pen again to make notes.  In one episode they mentioned other podcasts, such as Hardcore History, and shows by Joe Rogan.  I downloaded samples of those to check out.  I think I've just sampled a tiny tiny fraction of all the podcasts that are available.  Just prowling around this morning, I found that Science magazine has a web site of podcasts.  I downloaded a couple samples to check out when I find the time.  Meanwhile, someone sent me a link to a talk by an American doctor who was asked to fly to India in 1989 to treat Mother Teresa, who appeared to be dying.  I could only listen to it on my computer, but I'd like to save it as an MP3 file.  It's fascinating and funny, while at the same time being very serious and bizarre.

It appears that I'm going to be listening to a lot of podcasts in the future.  I might even start taking my MP3 player with me again when I go to the gym.


February 17, 2019
- Sometimes when I'm researching how photons and light waves work, I just feel like just giving up.
  Things make no sense.

Last week I researched the size of various atoms.  The books and articles and web sites all seem to generally agree on these sizes for various atoms:
Barium (Ba) has a radius of 0.253 nanometers (253 picometers)
Strontium (Sr) has a radius of 0.215 nanometers (215 picometers)

Calcium (Ca) has a radius of 0.197 nanometers (197 picometers)
Sodium (Na) has a radius of 0.190 nanometers (190 picometers)
Lithium (Li) has a radius of 0.167 nanometers (167 picometers)
Silver (Ag) has a radius of 0.165 nanometers (165 picometers)
Copper (Cu) has a radius of 0.145 nanometers (145 picometers)
And they also seem to generally agree that wavelengths have these sizes:

table of color wavelengths
And they all seem to agree that light is created this way:

How light is created

So, a photon hits an atom and is absorbed, which causes the outermost electron in the atom to jump to a higher, unstable energy level. The electron then falls back to its original energy level and the atom releases the extra energy in the form of a new light photon.  According to an on-line source:

During the fall from high energy to normal energy, the electron emits a photon -- a packet of energy -- with very specific characteristics. The photon has a frequency, or color, that exactly matches the distance the electron falls.

You can see this phenomenon quite clearly in gas-discharge lamps. Fluorescent lamps, neon signs and sodium-vapor lamps are common examples of this kind of electric lighting, which passes an electric current through a gas to make the gas emit light. The colors of gas-discharge lamps vary widely depending on the identity of the gas and the construction of the lamp.
A frequency that matches a distance?  What does that mean?
 
You can also cause light to be emitted by applying heat to an atom.  Heat will cause the electron to jump to a higher level and then back down again to emit a photon.  The type of atom being heated will determine the color of the light that is emitted.  According to an on-line source,

Sodium Na produces yellow color,
Copper Cu gives blue.
Barium Ba emits green and
Strontium salts and lithium salts produce:
Lithium carbonate, Li2CO3 emits red
Strontium carbonate, SrCO3 emits bright red.
Okay, so a sodium atom that is 0.38 nanometers in diameter will emit a yellow light wave that has a length of 580 nanometers - or a photon that is 290 nanometers in diameter.  And if that wave or photon hits a silver atom that has a diameter of 0.33 nm, it will be fully absorbed, and the silver atom will then emit a totally new 290 nm photon or new wave that is 580 nanometers long.

How does an atom that is 0.33 nanometers in diameter absorb a light photon that is 879 times larger than the atom?   Or how does an atom absorb a wave that is 1,758 times the size of the atom? 

Someone on Quora.com asked the question "How big is a photon?" and the general consensus seems to be that there is no answer to that question.  The answer that received twice as many "up votes" than everyone else put together was from a
Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of British Columbia who wrote:

I’m pretty sure there is no possible answer to that question. A photon is a wave — usually a wave packet, which limits and fuzzily defines its net “length”, but it can occupy any number of different volumes and still be the same quantum.

What is the size or volume of a shout?

How can such a basic question have no possible answer?  Is it because no one is looking for an answer?  Because no one cares?

While trying to find an answer (because I care) I found a link to a book that says this on pages 21 and 22:
Physicists had known for nearly three decades that something was wrong, that a change was desperately needed to understand what was happening in the world of the very small—the world of atoms. But they were working blind. Atoms are simply too small to see through any normal microscope, no matter the magnification. The wavelength of visible light is thousands of times larger than the size of an individual atom.
That's exactly what I just wrote.  Going back to the start of the book, I found this on pages 5 and 6:
Despite the fact that every physicist agrees that quantum physics works, a bitter debate has raged over its meaning for the past ninety years, since the theory was first developed. And one position in that debate—held by the majority of physicists and purportedly by Bohr—has continually denied the very terms of the debate itself. These physicists claim that it is somehow inappropriate or unscientific to ask what is going on in the quantum realm, despite the phenomenal success of the theory. To them, the theory needs no interpretation, because the things that the theory describes aren’t truly real. Indeed, the strangeness of quantum phenomena has led some prominent physicists to state flatly that there is no alternative, that quantum physics proves that small objects simply do not exist in the same objectively real way as the objects in our everyday lives do. Therefore, they claim, it is impossible to talk about reality in quantum physics. There is not, nor could there be, any story of the world that goes along with the theory.
The book (published in 2018) is "What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics" by Adam Becker.  The book goes on to say,
The popularity of this attitude to quantum physics is surprising. Physics is about the world around us. It aims to understand the fundamental constituents of the universe and how they behave. Many physicists are driven to enter the field out of a desire to understand the most basic properties of nature, to see how the puzzle fits together. Yet, when it comes to quantum physics, the majority of physicists are perfectly willing to abandon this quest and instead merely “shut up and calculate,” in the words of physicist David Mermin. 
and,
This is an astonishing state of affairs, and hardly anyone outside of physics knows about it. But why should anyone else care? After all, quantum physics certainly works. For that matter, why should physicists care? Their mathematics makes accurate predictions; isn’t that enough? 
No, it is not enough.  I could quote endlessly from the book, even though I've only read the first 22 pages so far.  The point seems to be that Quantum Mechanics is not about the real world, it is about calculating probabilities.  And the book doesn't seem to provide any answers, it seems to just describe the reason no one is even looking for answers: Physicists are fully satisfied with calculating probabilities.  As long as they can calculate probabilities and get good results, no one cares what is actually going on at the atomic level.

When looking at the book on Amazon's web site, they displayed another book published in June of 2018 that looks interesting and similar: "Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray Hardcover" by Sabine Hossenfelder.  I mentioned that book in my June 2, 2018 comment, when it first came out. 

And that book led me to another book published in 2018: "Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew about Quantum Physics Is Different" by Philip Ball.  It has this famous Richard Feynman quote on page 6:
“I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”
And then it goes on to explain what Prof. Feynman meant:
In case we didn’t get the point, Feynman drove it home in his artful Everyman style. ‘I was born not understanding quantum mechanics,’ he exclaimed merrily, ‘[and] I still don’t understand quantum mechanics!’ Here was the man who had just been anointed one of the foremost experts on the topic, declaring his ignorance of it.
The book goes on to say,
Feynman’s much-quoted words help to seal the reputation of quantum mechanics as one of the most obscure and difficult subjects in all of science. Quantum mechanics has become symbolic of ‘impenetrable science’, in the same way that the name of Albert Einstein (who played a key role in its inception) acts as shorthand for scientific genius.

Feynman clearly didn’t mean that he couldn’t do quantum theory. He meant that this was all he could do. He could work through the math just fine – he invented some of it, after all. That wasn’t the problem. Sure, there’s no point in pretending that the math is easy, and if you never got on with numbers then a career in quantum mechanics isn’t for you. But neither, in that case, would be a career in fluid mechanics, population dynamics, or economics, which are equally inscrutable to the numerically challenged.

No, the equations aren’t why quantum mechanics is perceived to be so hard. It’s the ideas. We just can’t get our heads around them. Neither could Richard Feynman. His failure, Feynman admitted, was to understand what the math was saying. It provided numbers: predictions of quantities that could be tested against experiments, and which invariably survived those tests. But Feynman couldn’t figure out what these numbers and equations were really about: what they said about the ‘real world’.
The existence of these three books, all published in 2018, tells me that others are bothered by the problem.  And they aren't afraid of writing about it.  So, I'm not alone.  But it sometimes seems like I'm the only one who is trying to make sense of it all.  They write about the problem, not about attempts to solve the problem.

No one is saying that it is impossible for an atom to absorb and emit a photon that is a thousand times larger than the atom.  It is just not something that happens in the visible universe.  Or does it?

snake can surprise  


Comments for Sunday, February 10, 2019, thru Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019:

February 16, 2019 - At 9:23 p.m. last night, I finished listening to the audio book version of "Time for the Stars" by Robert A. Heinlein.  It's generally considered to be a "juvenile science-fiction novel," which means it was written for teenagers.  The central character is a teenager. 

Time for the Stars

I decided to listen to it because, as Wikipedia says, "The basic plot line is derived from a 1911 thought experiment in special relativity, commonly called the twin paradox, proposed by French physicist Paul Langevin."  It also seemed to have some interesting similarities to "Variable Star," which I enjoyed very much and which was supposedly co-authored by Heinlein. 

The plot involves a pair of identical twins who are telepathic in that they can communicate with each other telepathically.  And, just as in "Variable Star," such telepathic communications are instantaneous and are not limited by the speed of light.  Thus, when one twin boards a space ship headed to explore planets around nearby stars, he and his brother can communicate instantly, even when they are trillions of miles apart.  They and a dozen other twins with the same abilities are used for communications as part of 14 different exploration missions to seek planets that can be colonized.  

While the traveling twin (who narrates the story) explores other planets, the Earthbound twin ages at a much faster rate, aging 60 years while his brother ages 1 or 2 years.  There are problems with other planets, including diseases and vicious creatures, but the most interesting part is the same as happened in "Variable Star": while the traveling twin doesn't age as fast as his Earthbound brother, science advances much faster on Earth than it does on the spaceship.  In 70 years on Earth, they develop spaceships that can travel faster than light, and soon the new spaceships catch up with the original ship, and the original ship and the traveling twin are sent back home.  It's a home where nearly everything has changed.  It's like someone from the 1800s returning to the world of 2019.  Their space ship is now a museum piece.  That's an angle I had never though about or seen written about before.

It was an enjoyable book.  Interestingly, this morning when I checked the news, I saw a link to an on-line Wired Magazine article titled, "Sci-Fi Author Robert Heinlein was basically MacGiver."  The article begins with this:

Robert Heinlein is the legendary author of such classic works as Starship Troopers, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Stranger in a Strange Land. His books have influenced generations of artists and scientists, including physicist and science fiction writer Gregory Benford.

“He was one of the people who propelled me forward to go into the sciences,” Benford says in Episode 348 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Because his depiction of the prospect of the future of science, engineering—everything—was so enticing. He was my favorite science fiction writer.”

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the second link and found a whole bunch of potentially interesting podcasts on the Geek's Guide to the Galaxy.  I downloaded the last half dozen into my MP3 player.  I don't know how, but I'm going to try to find the time to listen to at least some of them.  Believe it or not, they are the first podcasts I've ever downloaded.  I never found free podcasts before.  Other podcasts always involved subscribing to something and paying a fee.  And these podcasts appear more interesting than any others I've seen.  Time will tell.  (The first three minutes of Episode 348 is a commercial for some video game.)

February 14, 2019 - Groan.  I spent much of this morning trying to find some college text book I can quote as saying that light gets absorbed and re-emitted from atom to atom as it makes its way through glass (or water) as described in the first on-line source I used in yesterday's comment.  That web site (physicsclassroom.com) was created by a high-school physics teacher.  The first two college text books I found do not seem to even address the issue.  Mostly they are just about the mathematics.

However, one of the books mentioned something I hadn't thought about before.  It described how binoculars produce upright images.  With ordinary telescopes (like the first one created by Galileo) the image is you see is magnified but upside down. 

telescope principles

In order to view the target object right-side up, you have to add another lens or a set of prisms.  Binoculars use two prisms for each eye to flip the image upright.

binoculars using prisms 

Note what this says about prisms.  Light hitting the surface of a prism at a 90 degree angle passes into the prism unaltered.  There is no separation of different wavelengths (or photon sizes).  100% of the light then reflects off the inside of the prism that is angled at 45 degrees.  That surface has no mirror coating.  Light simply reflects off of a flat surface when that surface is angled at 45 degrees.  The light then exits the first prism at a 90 degree angle to the surface and enters a second prism at a 90 degree angle.  That second prism then reflects the image again and sends it to the eyepiece lenses.

Even though there are four prisms inside the binoculars, none of the prisms separates light by wavelength, and they all reflect light nearly perfectly without being silver coated.

When you take another look at how a prism is generally explained to work:

prism separating light    

you see that the light is always made to hit surfaces at angles other than 90 degrees and 45 degrees.

The problem I now have is to understand (and explain) how a photon hitting a glass surface at a 90 degree angle does not disperse or refract (except for maybe about 4%), how a photon hitting a glass surface at a 45 degree angle reflects perfectly as if the surface was a mirror, how photons hitting a glass surface at less or greater than a 45 degree angle will be refracted at different angles depending upon the size of the photon.

Clearly, a 45 degree angle has great significance in understanding light.  (I think I read somewhere that it is actually 43 point something to 46 point something).  It is also the angle used when explaining polarization: 

polarizing light and 45 degree
                                angles
Half the light from the source in the above diagram will pass through the horizontal filter, half of that light will pass through the 45 degree angle filter, and half of that light will pass through the vertical 90 degree angle filter.  So, 12.5 percent of the original light reaches the meter.  However, if the 45 degree angle filter is removed, half the light from the source will pass through horizontal filter just as before, but NONE of that light will pass through the vertical 90 degree angle filter.  NONE will reach the meter.

Books explain how things work by using waves and mathematics, but how does that all work using photons and logic?  That is what I have to figure out and understand.   

February 13, 2019
- I spent all day yesterday working on a scientific paper about "Visualizing Photons," and I thought I was making excellent progress.  Then, this morning, it was time for me to check on the actual sizes of things.  Specifically, I wondered about the size of a photon of red color and the size of silicon oxide molecules in a prism (or in a glass window pane). 
I knew that an atom consists mostly of empty space, and I was trying to visualize a photon passing through the empty spaces within a cluster of atoms. 

On a web page HERE I found this drawing of a silicon dioxide molecule:

silicon dioxide molecule

Hmm.  So there is about a quarter of a nanometer (nm) between any two oxygen atoms in the molecule and much less space than that between the silicon atom and each of the four oxygen atoms.

And what is the size of a red color photon?  Here's a table of wavelengths:

table of color wavelengths

Uh oh.   The wavelength of red light is about 3,000 times the distance between atoms in a silicon dioxide molecule. And if my view of photons is correct, that means that a photon is about 1,000 times larger than a silicon dioxide molecule! 

So much for the idea of photons traveling through the empty spaces inside atoms.

And that means that when a photon of red light touches the surface of a prism or glass window, fitting it between atoms would be like trying to fit a beach ball through a keyhole.

Yet, somehow light does go through glass.  How?  I did a Google search for "how does light pass through glass" and found a web site HERE which says, 
The mechanism by which a light wave is transported through a medium occurs in a manner that is similar to the way that any other wave is transported - by particle-to-particle interaction.    
Huh?  The article goes on to explain, but in terms too long to quote.  Basically, it says that light travels through glass the same way electricity travels through a wire.  The energy gets transmitted from atom to atom, each atom first absorbing the energy and then re-emitting it as a new photon to the next atom in line.

And, if it does that with glass, it must also do it with air.  So, a photon emitted from an atom in a tree across the street gets passed from atom to atom about a kazillion times to reach my eye.  And even when there is a window in the way, it still travels straight as an arrow.

That brought my thinking to a halt.  How can something that is 3,000 times larger than an atom get passed from atom to atom in a straight line?  I couldn't make any sense of it.

So, I researched further.

The next source I found was on Quora.com, where someone asked, "If light is made of particles, how does it pass through glass?"  There were dozens of answers, and I started going through them.

A response from June 2017 says that light passes through glass like sound passes through air.  Atoms push against atoms in a wavelike manner.  Bullshit!  That would mean that light cannot travel in a vacuum.

The next response says,
Particles can pass though objects. For example, right now there are 100 billion solar neutrinos per second passing through every square centimeter of your body. The neutrinos are particles that only have VERY weak interactions with the matter that our bodies are made of so almost all of them pass through without interacting. So, in general, there is no problem with particles passing through matter if they do not interact with the matter - there is lots of space between the nuclei of atoms.
That somewhat matches my original thinking.  It ignores the differences in size.  A neutrino is about as small a particle as there is, so it CAN pass through atoms.  But that doesn't mean that a light photon can.
 
Another response is very long and complex and doesn't really supply an answer, but it does say this:

The separation between atoms in glass is measured in picometers. The wavelength of visible light is measured in nanometers. That should tell you something. Yep. The wavelength of that passing electric field disturbance covers hundreds if not thousands of atoms. Think about that when you start to talk about “interactions”.
Okay, so I'm not the only person in the world to have noticed the difference in the size of a photon versus a molecule of glass.

Another response says basically the same thing as was stated in the first web site I checked, just worded differently:
When light falls on glass, the photons are absorbed by the electrons of the atoms on the surface of glass. But then then almost immediately these electrons transmit this photon by giving out the same energy it had previously absorbed and returns to the ground state.

With a series of these absorption-transmission steps, the light photons exit on the other side of the glass. 
Someone who claims to have been head of DARPA at one time responded with this:

Light (photons) actually pass through a-lot of things. Air for instance. In fact there is one and only one thing in the entire universe that can stop a light wave or particle. Without this one thing a photon will fly off to the edge of the universe and/or a black hole, whichever happens first. You are bathed daily in ancient photons born at the universe’s creation.

Intrigued? Ready? The only thing “powerful” enough to stop [absorb] a light beam is a charged particle. In everyday practical terms this will be an electron. Further not every electron will do, the electron needs to be “special” in that it is in a special state that allows it to effect the photon. Specifically: the photon’s energy [i.e. the light’s color] must be within the range of energy that the electron is allowed to absorb. This range is governed by the wacky laws of quantum theory.

There are dozens of responses to the question, so I could go on and on, but the response above seems to be the best answer.  Light photons are not stopped by the glass because the glass contains no electrons that have the right amount of energy to affect red color photons.  That means the light passes through and around the glass atoms and molecules as if the glass wasn't there - EXCEPT for the fact that the glass is more dense than air or a vacuum, which causes the photon to travel slower as it goes through the glass, speeding up again when it enters the air on the other side, and perhaps speeding up even more when it passes out of the air and into the vacuum of space.  As long as there isn't a tree in the way, or a bird, or some other object containing atoms and electrons of the right size, there is nothing to stop the photon.

Live and learn.  That wasn't how I pictured things before, but it is now.

And I've also seen that there are many different theories out there about something that is so fundamental that it is difficult to believe that there can be any disagreement.  It appears many physics teachers aren't teaching physics, they are teaching their own mistaken beliefs about physics.    

February 11, 2019
- At about 7 p.m. last night, I finished listening to the audio book version of the science-fiction novel "Into The Storm" by Taylor Anderson.

Into The Storm (Destroyermen #1)

The book is 400 pages long in hardcover, and as an audio book it consists of 20 MP3 files with a total listening time of 16 hours and 13 minutes.  I didn't really expect to finish it.  But I did, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I found it on Friday when I wondered if my local library had any science fiction novels in audio book form that might be as enjoyable as "Variable Star" was for me.  I found that my library has 712 science fiction books in audio book format, and 293 of those were available for immediate downloading.  Browsing through them, I found many "Star Wars" adventures and many other books that were part of a series.  I wasn't looking for any series books, but one series caught my eye.  The series was titled "Destroyermen," and the first book in the series was "Into The Storm," which was available.  

"Into the Storm" is about an old World War I destroyer, the USS Walker, that is fighting in World War II when it is chased out of the Philippines by the Japanese and down into the area of Indonesia and Bali and into the Battle of the Java Sea in March of 1942.  That was a period of history of great interest to me at one time.  The story becomes science fiction when the Walker and another old "four- stacker" destroyer, the USS Mahan, are chased by a Japanese ship into a strange tropical storm.  When they escape from the storm they are in the same area in the same year but in an alternate timeline.  They are on Earth in 1942, but it is an Earth which was never hit by the comet or asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.  So, humans never developed.  Instead, other species formed.  And they evolved and developed.

The Japanese ship sinks, and the Walker is separated from the Mahan when they find themselves in the middle of a different war.  It's a war between peaceful furry beings that evidently developed from Meercats and rampaging feathered or scaly creatures that developed from raptors.  What's most interesting, though, is that neither species has yet developed gun powder or steam power, much less radio or electric lights.  They still fight with spears and crossbows and wooden ships, technology that they evidently learned from humans on other ships that crossed over into their timeline centuries ago.  Plus, the Walker is nearly out of fuel in a world which has no oil refineries. And, there are only four human women in this world, four nurses who were evacuated from the Philippines, two on the Walker and two on the missing Mahan.  So, you can see how thirteen books have been written in the series.  There are plenty of problems to overcome.

I really enjoyed "Into the Storm," but I have absolutely no interest in reading any other books in the series. 

Right now, all I can think about is refraction.  How does refraction work if light consists of photons and there are no rays or waves to bend?

February 10, 2019
- It's another one of those Sunday mornings when I have absolutely nothing prepared for my Sunday comment.  So, I'm writing this comment from scratch.

I don't know if I'm making progress on my paper about photons or not.  I'm not getting anything written, but I keep thinking about it.  Last week I thought about prisms and how they separate light into its different component colors.

prism

Here's how one web site describes what a prism does:
White light is composed of all the visible colors in the electromagnetic spectrum, a fact that can be easily proven through the use of a prism. As light passes through a prism, it is bent, or refracted, by the angles and plane faces of the prism and each wavelength of light is refracted by a slightly different amount. Violet has the highest frequency and is refracted the most. Red has the lowest frequency and is refracted the least. Because each color is refracted differently, each bends at a different angle, resulting in a fanning out and separation of white light into the colors of the spectrum.
Okay, but light consists of photons, not waves, so there is no "wavelength" and light cannot be separated by wavelength.  What you have instead is size.  A prism separates light photons by size.  Violet has the smallest size photon and is refracted the most.  Red has the largest photon size and is refracted the least.

That poses a question that neither theory answers: Why?  Why is the higher frequency or smallest photon affected the most?  I haven't been able to find any solid answer to that question.  Mostly the sources just say that is the way refraction works.

When light traveling through air hits the surface of the prism it enters a different and thicker medium in which light travels at a slower speed.  All the waves and/or photons slow down.  I have no problem with that.

If the light hits the surface of the prism at a right angle, everything still slows down, but the light is not refracted.  All the photons and waves are still mixed up.  In order to separate different waves or different photon sizes, the light has to hit the surface at an angle.  I have no problem with that, either.  

What I have a problems with is this:

When light hits the surface of a prism at an angle, the smaller photons (the waves with the shortest wavelength) are supposedly slowed down more than larger photons and longer wavelengths.  Here's how one typical source describes the phenomenon:
The explanation for the colours separating out is that the light is made of waves. Red light has a longer wavelength than violet light. The refractive index for red light in glass is slightly different than for violet light. Violet light slows down even more than red light, so it is refracted at a slightly greater angle.
And here's what another source says,
The amount of refraction increases as the wavelength of light decreases. Shorter wavelengths of light (violet and blue) are slowed more and consequently experience more bending than do the longer wavelengths (orange and red).
I cannot make any sense of that.  If violet light slows down more than red light, then the different colors of light are traveling at different speeds.  The "speed of light" then means nothing, since every color travels at a different speed.

Things make sense to me if you view light as a photon and say that smaller photons are deflected at a sharper angle than larger photons.  Why are small photons deflected at a sharper angle?  It must be because smaller photons are more affected by the electromagnetic fields of the molecules and atoms that constitute the outer surface of the prism.

I think I need to create an illustration to show what I mean by that.  The illustration would show how the atoms in the prism have electromagnetic fields that are very shallow.  As a result, they can can easily grab entire small photons and deflect them at sharper angles, while larger photons are less affected because most of the photon passes outside of the pull of the atomic fields of the prism. 
 
Hmm.  I'll have to work on that idea.  It might be what I have been looking for.  One problem will be to properly show the relative sizes of the different photons and the atoms.  Another problem will be to use the right terminology.  I want to have people read and understand the paper without getting upset because I used a wrong word here or there.

Still another problem will be to get my daily routines back on track.  On Friday I downloaded the audio book version of an interesting science fiction novel.  It's 16 hours and 13 minutes long.  I've been listening to it on my MP3 player for about 5 hours a day.  I'm going to try to finish it today.  That won't give me time to do much of anything else.


Comments for Sunday, February 3, 2019, thru Saturday, February 9, 2019:

February 7, 2019 - While I keep thinking about the scientific paper I'm trying to write on the topic of "What is a Photon?," this morning I just had to sit down and spend a couple hours finishing a book I've been reading on my Kindle.  The book is "The Shadow President: The Truth about Mike Pence," by Michael D'Antonio and Peter Eisner. 

The Shadow President

I didn't want to finish it because I was enjoying reading it, I wanted to finish it so I could start reading something else.  The book was well-written, so it wasn't difficult to get through (I've got 33 pages of notes), but it gets very tedious just reading more and more sickening things about someone you totally detest.  Reading about Donald Trump is more enjoyable, because Trump's screwball actions can be stupid and hilarious, but Pence is just plain creepy and scary.

The first chapter in the book is titled "Sycophant," and the whole book shows Mike Pence to be an ass-kisser who agrees with Trump on almost everything, even though Trump's personal actions constantly go against Pence's religious beliefs and morals.  Pence gets what he wants by boot licking.  Here's a passage from the first chapter:
Throughout his first year at Trump’s side, Pence would be a constant, attentive presence who generally spoke only when the president requested it. For weeks at a time, he seemed to have just one major public assignment: admiring Donald Trump. He performed this duty consistently despite the fact that the bellicose and chaotic Trump—he of the infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” videotape—was so personally objectionable that Pence had considered trying to replace him at the top of the ticket as the 2016 election neared. 3 (A Pence aide denied that he had considered doing that.)
And here's another about comments Pence made during the first Cabinet meeting after Trump's election:
Pence offered about three minutes of impromptu praise in which The Washington Post discovered one expression of gratitude or admiration every twelve seconds. Among them were: “I’m deeply humbled, as your vice president, to be able to be here.” “You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage.” “You’ve unleashed American energy.” “You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records.” When Pence concluded his praise, President Trump offered up a verbal pat on the head, saying, “Thank you, Mike. That’s very nice. I appreciate that.” Pence replied, “Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.” 5 The vice president’s cringeworthy display, broadcast live on television, prompted an avalanche of mockery. The nonpolitical website Dictionary.com used Pence’s remarks in a tweet to illustrate the definition of the word sycophant.
Pence evidently justifies his sycophant actions by believing they will eventually get him into the Presidency, which he believes was ordained by God.  Here's another quote from early in the book:
James Carville and Paul Begala once observed that “you never stand so tall as when you stoop to kiss an ass.” If that’s the case, then Mike Pence is a giant among men. 6 Lewis’s analysis overlooked a significant signal in the final phrase—“and God bless you”—offered by the vice president when he spoke at the cabinet meeting. Easy to regard as a kind of rhetorical tic, like the “God bless America” that presidents tack on to the end of formal addresses, Pence’s call to the deity reminded conservative Christians that their champion was alert to his duty. In fact, as one of Pence’s closest aides would explain, the vice president actually believed he could bring Trump to Jesus and, like Jesus, he was willing to do whatever was necessary to help save Trump’s soul.
Pence is also someone who is willing to sacrifice people for money and political goals.  He was governor of Indiana before becoming Vice-President, and in that role he had a long list of occasions where he chose monetary goals over people, even leaving an innocent man rot in prison for 3 years because pardoning him might cost Indiana some money if the guy sued for wrongful imprisonment.  (Pence's successor pardoned the man.)  Plus he allowed corporations to pollute water sources, endangering people, because the polluters were big donors to his campaigns. 

Pence also justifies all sorts of wrongful acts because he feels his religious beliefs justify them.  Another quote:
In this way, faith became a substitute for facts and permitted believers to assert their superiority even as they proclaimed their humility. In the same way that President Trump insisted his genes made him better than others, this type of Christian assumed extra insights on an ontological basis: faith, rather than might, makes right. Such a belief permitted the faithful to claim humility in the shadow of God’s grace while also feeling just a little (or a lot) superior to others.    
I could go on and on, but it's just as tedious to write about Pence as it is to read about him.  Trump may be incompetent, but Pence is just plain evil.  That is part of what I meant in the poster I created a few weeks ago:
Warning about impeaching Donald
                              Trump.

February 5, 2019
- As I write this comment, I still have 10 minutes left on CD #8 of the 8-CD audio book set I burned for "Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life" by Helen Czerski.  I'm listening to it in my car, so I'll finish it this afternoon when I'm driving either to or back from the gym. (Added note: I finished it on my way home.)

Storm in a Teacup

It's a thoroughly enjoyable book, and I may listen to it again sometime.  I particularly enjoyed the narration by Chloe Massey, who speaks with a cute and charming British accent.  I truly enjoy listening to her talk.  I could do it all day without really hearing to a word she says.  "Storm in a Teacup" is pronounced "Stawm in a Teacop."  When she asks, "Isn't it?" she asks "Isn't eh?"  But it all loses something when viewed in print.  You have to listen to it.

The book has lots of interesting things in it, like the fact that an electromagnet is used to hold down the toast tray in a pop-up toaster.  I would have it assumed it was some kind of lever.  But an electromagnet is more reliable.  You can test it by trying to push down the lever on the side of the toaster when the toaster is not plugged it.  The lever won't stay down.  I recall doing that and wondering about it when I was a kid.  The author also discusses at length how water gets from the roots of a tall tree to the leaves on the topmost branches, and I found it very interesting, but I don't remember enough of it to explain it.  Part of the problem is that, unlike most non-fiction books, this one tends to be told like a story, which means the story gets interrupted when I turn off the ignition in my car.  While that might be annoying for another book, for this one it just means I want to listen to this book again sometime.

I don't even mind that the word "photon" is used only twice in the book.  Both times in the same paragraph at the top of page 236, a paragraph which also says that light consists of waves and rays:
The light rays hitting our retina may have travelled from the Moon or from our fingers, but they have the same effect. A single photon is absorbed by a single opsin molecule, twisting the molecule around to start a chain of dominoes that sends an electronic signal into our control systems. As our thirsty body walks into the kitchen, photons that have bounced off a sink, a tap and a kettle stream into our eyes, and our brain processes that information in the blink of an eye to tell us what to pick up first. If it’s slightly dark in the kitchen, we turn on a lightbulb, releasing a fountain of light waves. They radiate outwards, and as soon as their journey starts they’re being modified by the world, reflected, refracted and absorbed until perhaps our eyes pick up what’s left.
Note that the author talks about rays and waves (or "wehves") when talking about how light is transmitted ("the wehve model"), but she talks about photons when talking about how light interacts with molecules and solid objects (the photon model).  Plus, I suppose people just aren't accustomed to someone saying, "we turn on a lightbulb, releasing a fountain of photons."  But that is what happens.  And the reason I am writing this comment about finishing a book before I actually finish it is because I want to get to work on a paper about photons.  That's easier to do if I know I won't have to stop working on it to write this comment later today.

February 4, 2019
- I've probably seen a dozen detective shows where the detective is looking around in some house or some other location and someone asks him what he is looking for.  And the detective responds, "I don't know, but I'll recognize it when I find it."  That happened to me yesterday.

I was reading and studying an article titled "Evolution of the modern photon" when I came across this passage near the bottom of the first page:
Bohr rejected the existence of quanta for many years. In 1923, he had referred to the "insuperable difficulties" of the lightquantum hypothesis in accounting for interference phenomena and asserted that "the picture ... which lies at the foundation of the hypothesis of lightquanta ... excludes, in principle, the possibility of a rational definition of the conception of a frequency which plays a principal part in this theory."11
Ah!  Of course!  Bohr rejected the idea of photons because photons are generally incompatible with the idea of a frequency.  Only waves have a frequency:

light wave frequency  
With waves, if you know how many waves pass a given point in one second, you can compute the wave length.  And vice versa, if you know the wave length, you can compute the frequency at which waves will pass a given point.

With photons, frequency has no meaning, since photons are emitted randomly and thus arrive randomly.  And wave length is not really the length of a wave, since there are no waves.

The article then goes on to say that Bohr co-wrote a paper in which he attempted to dispose of the idea of photons (light quanta) by developing a mathematical theory where photons were only statistical flukes.  But that didn't work.
The theory was eventually refuted on experimental grounds, and, in 1927, Bohr final­ly accepted the photon at the price of espousing complementarity13 and, thus, enshrining the wave-particle duality of light as a permanent feature of the Copenhagen interpretation, a denouement that has been described as "a case in which competing views, found unresolvable, were simply combined-perhaps a singular event in the development of science"14 and one that it must be said has caused dissension ever since (see, e.g., Park 15).
So, "wave-particle duality" is simply a case of "competing views," with Bohr believing in mathematics, and others believing in the results of experiments.

Today the whole science of spectroscopy is based upon wavelengths and frequencies.  And the Doppler shift of light is viewed as a change in wavelength. A whole new scientific language would have to be developed to discuss the properties of light if light consists of photons, i.e., specific quantities of energy which have nothing to do with waves or anything wavelike.    

I tried to find the references the quotes use, but the only one that provides interesting details is "(see, e.g., Park 15)"  at the end of the second quote.  That reference provides this information:
Maxwell’s theory explains certain experiments well, but the same is true of the photon concept. Do we then have to conclude that light is both a wave and a particle? That would be too bad, since it would not make any sense. But think for a minute: What is a physical experiment and what does it actually tell us? We prepare a piece of apparatus, we turn it on, something happens, a measurement is made. The experiment tells us what happened, and a good theory tells what will happen before any one does the experiment. The crucial point is this: An experiment or a theory tells what happens, not what is.

Experiments in the old days usually involved things one could touch and see, and it is from experience of touching and seeing that we get our firm ideas of what is; therefore, if one deduced what was from what happened, things rarely went wrong. You can see light but you cannot see a light wave; you cannot touch a photon, and it is obvious from the experiments just described that a light wave is not just a scaled-down version of waves in a duck pond, nor is a quantum particle a scaled-down version of a baseball. In fact, the nature of light cannot be represented as a scaled-down version of anything we are familiar with. It has its own nature, whatever that may be, and what we know about it is what happens in different experiments. Luckily for us, the situation is not entirely strange. What happens in some experiments can be modeled by a wave; in others, by a particle. Often, as when we have to deal with the electron cloud surrounding an atom, neither of those models is very helpful in understanding what happens and we trust the model whose root is in mathematics. It may not satisfy all our desires, but at least it works.
A Google Scholar search for Bohr and "light frequency" gets about 1,890 results, but little that looks interesting.  A search for Bohr and "insuperable difficulties" finds about 200 results, some of which look worth examining further.  But I'm not sure what I'd be looking for.  More details and better quotes, perhaps.  The question then becomes: When do I stop the research and get back to writing a paper about photons?  Pretty soon, I think.   

February 3, 2019
- I awoke this morning realizing something that I should have realized long ago: Mathematicians cannot replace their two model versions of light with a single model without acknowledging that at least one (or maybe both) of the mathematical models they have been using for over a hundred years is nonsense.

To people who view mathematics as being infallible and virtually the Word of God, admitting that a mathematical equation you have been using all your life is total crap is about the same as admitting that you cannot tell the difference between the truth and total crap.  It took mathematicians about a thousand years to admit that their mathematical model of the universe which placed the earth at the center was just crap.  

What's most frustrating for me is that I realized all this back in August of 2018.  I wrote comment after comment about what Carver Mead had to say on the subject.  And some of those comments were just repeats of things I had quoted in August of 2016.  Here's a Carver Mead quote I used in August of 2016 and 2018:
"Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with mathematics--it's the language we use to express the precise relations of physical law. But there is an increasing tendency to mistake the language for the physics itself. Once we lose the conceptual foundations, the whole thing becomes a shell game."  
The problem is: Carver Mead only talks about the general problem with the way mathematicians think. He doesn't specifically address the way mathematicians use two different models for light and do not seem to care that the models are incompatible. 

Another problem is that I do not agree with Carver Mead's view on the nature of a photon.  In his paper from 2000, "The Nature of Light: What are Photons?," Mead provides his view of what a photon looks like.  To him a photon is just a "transaction" between atoms.  As I stated in my August 2016 comments, to me, a photon is excess energy looking for a home.  A photon cannot be a "transaction between atoms" if an atom absorbs a photon and does not re-emit it again to another atom.  And that happens when photon energy is converted into chemical energy via photosynthesis. 

I don't think the question of "What is a photon?" is going to be resolved until everyone agrees on the shape and size of photon.  And it's rare to find anyone who even seems to address that issue.

This morning, I used Google Scholar to search for articles about photons versus waves and mathematical models, and I found another article that I had previously found and filed.  It's titled "Evolution of the modern photon." Unfortunately, it is not searchable, which also means I cannot copy and paste quotes from it until after I run it through a converter program.  Until then, I have to retype passages I want to quote, such as:
One of the most puzzling features of standard quantum mechanics, especially to undergraduate students, has been the wave-particle duality.  The duality of light, coupled with the corpuscular photon model, has been given many conflicting interpretations and has promoted almost universal confusion among nonexperts.
I certainly cannot disagree with that.  Later the paper says,
Elementary survey course textbooks usually leave the impression that the photon is a small, spherical entity along the lines suggested by Lewis and is the ultimate constituent of electric current.
If a photon is spherical, how can it be polarized?  Is the sphere supposed to be spinning, like the Earth, with a North Pole and South Pole?  I have a problem viewing anything that spins to also travel at the speed of light.  Time stops at the speed of light, but a spinning object would allow time to be measured by the rate of spin.  If you accept a photon as being a spinning sphere, you are also saying that time does NOT stop at the speed of light.

The paper then goes on to describe three different models of photons.  I'm going to have to study the paper to see if I can figure out the differences between the models.  They seem to be mostly mathematical differences.  A search for a searchable version of that paper brought me to another paper titled "Arguments Concerning Photon Concepts" that also looks interesting.  I'm going to have to study that one, too.

Last week, I also browsed through the two books titled "Fundamentals of Photonics" that I mentioned in my February 1 comment
Basically, they are both about Quantum Mechanics, and that means that all answers are found via mathematical equations.  I didn't see anything in either book that clarified anything for me. 

So, I looked for other sources.  I entered "What is a photon?' into Google Scholar and it provided a link to a book titled "The Nature of Light: What is a Photon?" edited by Chandra Roychoudhuri, A.F. Kracklauer, and Kathy Creath.  Browsing through the book, I saw the first part was a paper titled "Light Reconsidered" by Arthur Zajonc, which I could also access independently via Google Scholar.  It looks like an interesting article, but it ends with this:
To my mind, Einstein was right to caution us concerning light. Our understanding of it has increased enormously in the 100 years since Planck, but I suspect light will continue to confound us, while simultaneously luring us to inquire ceaselessly into its nature.
I hesitate to sit down and study any article about photons that ends by saying the subject "will continue to confound us."  But, I put it in my reading queue.  I also noticed that the paper used another paper with an interesting title as a reference: “Single Photons Stick Together” by Philippe Grangier.  Since my impression was that photons do NOT "stick together," I searched for and found a copy of that article via Google Scholar.  It begins with this sentence:
Can two photons that have never met know something about each other? 
What kind of question is that?  Who would ask such a question?  It would have to be someone whose mind is already set on some fantasy about distant photons being connected even when there is no possible way for them to be connected. The article seems to start with a belief developed from Quantum Mechanics, and then sets about confirming that belief without any real evidence whatsoever.  Just mathematics.

What am I looking for?  I'm looking for some article or book that will say that my understanding of photons cannot possibly be true because ________.  (Fill in the blank.)  Mostly, what I'm finding instead is article after article with someone else's notion of how light works, but with the understanding that they do not know if light is a wave or a photons, since they do not care.  As long as they can mathematically model their beliefs one way or another, that's all the care about.

But, I also found a few articles that might contain something that will help me get out of this endless search for an answer that no one else in the world has been able to find, an answer to the question "What is a Photon?"
 

Comments for Friday, February 1, 2019, thru Saturday, February 2, 2019:

February 2, 2019 - I had to stop at a grocery store this afternoon to pick up some supplies, and while I was unloading my basket onto the conveyor belt I realized there was an argument going on between the elderly black man in front of me and the big beefy white guy in front of him.  The elderly black guy was chuckling, so it wasn't a heated argument.  But the two men didn't seem to know each other, so you couldn't call it a "friendly argument."  The white guy was ranting about building a wall along the border with Mexico, and how it would stop all the drugs that were illegally coming into this country.  The black guy was just shaking his head, chuckling, and saying it was a waste of money.

It looked like it was safe for me to agree with the black guy when they both glanced at me, so I did so.  A wall isn't going to stop drug smugglers.  Drug smugglers dig tunnels under walls when there is a wall to get past.  Mostly, though, they smuggle drugs in by boat, by plane and by hiding them inside trucks and other vehicles that pass through the customs check points.

I didn't get a chance to argue that point before the white guy picked up his groceries and left.  But, I wish I had been there to see how the argument started.  It had to have been started by the white guy.  What kind of person would start a political argument in a line at a grocery store?  I imagine it is the same kind of guy who would yell at the TVs at the gym, like the guy I saw do that at my gym last week.  It's the type of guy who is accustomed to getting his way by force

How do you argue with someone who gets his way by force, instead of by logic and reasoning?  The white guy in the grocery line and the guy at the gym were obviously driven by hate of some kind.  There is no way to reason with people who are driven by hate and who use force to get their way.  Luckily we can still out-vote them.  


February 1, 2019
- Yesterday, I was browsing through a couple papers related to the article
titled "Physicists Have Built a Machine That Actually Breaks Two Rules of Light" that I mentioned in my January 30 comment.  Somewhere, while doing research, I saw mention of a book titled "Fundamentals of Photonics."  Hmm.  The word "photonics" is defined this way:
Photonics is the physical science of light (photon) generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and sensing.
So, photonics is about photons!  I've been searching for information about how photons work!  It seems that instead of looking for articles about photons, I should have been looking for articles about photonics!  When I searched for the book "Fundamentals of Photonics," I found two books with that title.

Fundamentals of Photonics #1
Fundamentals of Photonics #2

The first one, by B.E.A. Saleh and M.C. Teich, is the one mentioned in the source I found.  It says this on page vi of the Forward:
The theories of light are presented at progressively increasing levels of difficulty.  Thus light is described first as rays, then scalar waves, then electromagnetic waves, and, finally, photons.
The photon theory of light is the most difficult!?!?   As I see it, looking at light purely as photons would greatly simplify everything.

The book's Table of Contents shows these chapters:
1. Ray Optics
2. Wave Optics
3. Beam Optics
4. Fourier Optics
5. Electromagnetic Optics
6. Polarization and Crystal Optics
7. Guided Wave Optics
8. Fiber Optics
9. Resonator Optics
10. Statistical Optics
11. Photon Optics
12. Photons and Atoms
13. Laser Amplifiers
14. Lasers
15. Photons in Semiconductors
16. Semiconductor Photon Sources
17. Semiconductor Photon Detectors
18. Electro-optics
19. Nonlinear Optics
20. Acousto-optics
21. Photonic Switching and Computing
22. Fiber-Optic Communications
Chapter 11 begins on page 386 with this:
Light consists of particles called photons.  A photon has zero rest mass and carries electromagnetic energy and momentum.  It also carries an intrinsic angular momentum (or spin) that governs its polarization properties.  The photon travels at the speed of light in a vacuum (c0); its speed is retarded in matter.  Photons also have a wavelike character that determines their localization properties in space and the rules by which they interfere and diffract.
If light photons spin, how can 3D movies work?  In theaters, TWO projectors produce a double image on the screen.  The 3D glasses let you see one image though your left eye and the second image through your right eye.  If the photons coming from the screen were spinning, how could they be oriented correctly when they reach your eyes?

And I think the idea that photons interact and interfere with each other is nonsense because photons have no "wavelike character."  So, it seems the author of the book is going to force photons to behave like waves because waves are understood and photons are not. 

But, it looks like the book has a few chapters that are definitely worth studying.

The second book, edited by Chandrasekhar Roychoudhuri, consists of "10 modules written by experts in the photonics field" and has this on page 6:
Scientists have observed that light energy can behave like a wave as it moves through space, or it can behave like a discrete particle with a discrete amount of energy (quantum) that can be absorbed and emitted. As we study and use light, both models are helpful.

Concept of a photon

The particle-like nature of light is modeled with photons. A photon has no mass and no charge. It is a carrier of electromagnetic energy and interacts with other discrete particles (e.g., electrons, atoms, and molecules).
A beam of light is modeled as a stream of photons, each carrying a well-defined energy that is dependent upon the wavelength of the light.
Groan!  I'm trying to find a source that describes light as photons without any mention of waves or beams.  Any source that uses two different models for light is a source that does not understand light.  As I see it, light consists of photons - PERIOD - and photons have a disk shape, which physicists mistakenly think makes it "wavelike."

The second book might contain something worthwhile, but I'll definitely be focusing on chapters 11 and 12 of the first book.  And it looks like the definition of the word "photonics" needs to be changed to:

Photonics is the physical science of light generation, detection, and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and sensing, in which photon models are used when the particle properties of light can be accurately modeled using mathematics, and wave models of light are used when the wavelike properties of light can be accurately modeled using mathematics.  No one has any idea how light really works.
I was thinking of adding an additional sentence: "It's like the blind leading the blind."  But, I decided that would be a bit much.
 
Comments for Sunday, January 27, 2019, thru Thursday, January 31, 2019:

January 30, 2019 - Hmm.  It's about 10:30 a.m. as I start this comment, and the thermometer on my balcony still says it is 20 below zero.  Officially, it is 19 below, and the temperature is supposed to get all the way up to 8 below later today.  Maybe I'll go outside then and check on how photons get polarized and bounce off snow horizontally to produce glare. 

Thermometer on my balcony showing
                                20 below

It seems I've got nothing better to do than think about photons.

Yesterday and this morning, I exchanged some emails about an article titled "Physicists Have Built a Machine That Actually Breaks Two Rules of Light."  One of the two "rules" that physicists think they have broken is the rule that
there's no difference to a light wave that runs forward or backward in time.
It seems like a pretty silly rule to me.  Why not just say that a photon or light wave looks the same whether going forward or backward?  They're just making a point that sound waves do sound different when received backwards, but, in theory, light "waves" would not show any difference.  In a related article, a physicist implies that there is a difference:
Francois Copie, scientist on the project explains: "When seeding the ring resonator with short pulses, the circulating pulses within the resonator will either arrive before or after the seed pulse but never at the same time."
Unfortunately, there is no detailed description for laymen of exactly how a ring resonator works.  But it seems to involve optical fibers.  Evidently, you send photons (or light waves) into a coil of optical fibers that eventually sends the photons back toward the source.  Then you compare what you emitted to what you received back.  Nothing goes backwards in time.  But the photons are evidently not received back in the order emitted. It's probably because the photons that moved through fibers on the outside of the coil had to travel farther than photons that moved through fibers on the inside of the coil.  And the experiment shows that two photons are never combined.  

Or I could just be misunderstanding the experiment.

The second "rule" the physicists claim to have broken is called "
polarisation symmetry."  The article explains,
Light waves wiggle perpendicular to the direction of their movement, just like a plucked string. The orientation of this wiggle is called its polarisation, and whether we're talking guitar strings or light waves, it tends to remain fixed as the wave moves.

Not so here. As the wave toured around the optical fibre, its orientation described a corkscrew 'elliptical' shape, breaking its usual rule of sticking to a single plane.
All that seems to indicate is that when light photons are forced to change their direction of travel inside an optical fiber, they change their orientation.  That probably means that, regardless of its orientation when it entered an optical fiber, a photon will be horizontally oriented when it comes back out. 

Or the forces that cause the photons to change directions as the photons are forced to travel in circles also cause the photons inside the fibers to travel in a corkscrew pattern - possibly as a result of outside forces (like gravity) affecting what happens inside a fiber.

Dammit!!  Life would be so much simpler if physicists just stopped writing about light as if it consisted of waves.  It doesn't.  It consists of photons.  And photons do not "wiggle perpendicular to the direction of their movement."  They are disk shaped, and the disks are oriented perpendicular to their direction of movement.  The up and down motion that physicists fantasize as waves is just the difference in the shape of a disk as it arrives traveling edge-on.  It starts as a dot, then gets bigger and bigger, and then gets small and smaller until it is a dot again. Then there is nothing, and you have to wait for the next photon to arrive.

Here's an image I created a couple days ago to show how disks set up end to end can be viewed as producing a wave pattern:

disks acting like waves

Light waves do not arrive end to end.  And neither do photons.  But if you lack imagination and idiotically insist on viewing light as consisting of waves, then you simply fantasize that light waves arrive end to end. 

Physics would be so much simpler if light was viewed as individual photons without any of the imaginary fantasies that make light seem like waves!   

January 29, 2019
- I spent all day yesterday working on a scientific paper about "The Importance of Understanding Photons."  Writing such a paper would probably be a lot easier if I understood photons.  I'm hoping that writing the paper will help me with that understanding.  I'm going through what is known about photons step by step to see where it leads me.

The problem is, I cannot make sense of many of the articles I'm reading as I do my research.  The process of polarization is almost always shown this way:
 
polarizing light

It's a confusing illustration since it shows many different waves (or photons) approaching the first polarizer, all at the same time.  And only the waves that are oriented perfectly vertical get through.  That's what the text says, too.  Here's part of the text that accompanies and explains the illustration:
The polarizers illustrated above are actually filters containing long-chain polymer molecules that are oriented in a single direction. Only the incident light that is vibrating in the same plane as the oriented polymer molecules is absorbed, while light vibrating at right angles to the plane is passed through the first polarizing filter. In Figure 1, polarizer 1 is oriented vertically to the incident beam so it will pass only the waves that are vertical in the incident beam. The wave passing through polarizer 1 is subsequently blocked by polarizer 2 because the second polarizer is oriented horizontally with respect to the electric field vector in the light wave.
But that is NOT TRUE.  Vertically oriented waves AND waves that are less than 45 degrees off of vertical will get through.  If only waves that were vibrating vertically could get through the first filter, that would be only a tiny fraction of the light that hit the first filter.  But about 1/2 of the randomly oriented light that hits the filter gets through. 

That suggests that the light photons (or waves) that hit the first filter can pass through if they are oriented vertically or less than 45 degrees off of vertical.  (Photons (or waves) that are horizontally oriented or less than 45 degrees off of horizontal are absorbed by the filter.) That poses the question:  Are the photons that are less than 45 degrees off of vertical adjusted to be vertical as they pass through the filter?  Or do they pass though just as they arrived. 

The answer seems to be that they are adjusted to be vertical. 

But how is that accomplished?  What is the cause of that effect?  I haven't been able to find any paper or textbook that even mentions that question, much less answers it.  It seems physicists can work it out mathematically without knowing cause and effect, so no one cares how it actually works.

I care. 

The answer seems to be in the quoted text above.  Here is that part again:
The polarizers illustrated above are actually filters containing long-chain polymer molecules that are oriented in a single direction. 
Hmm.  So, the polarizers are nothing like what the illustration shows.  An explanation in a video I watched says that you create a polarizing filter by stretching a piece of transparent plastic (a polymer).  That evidently orients the molecules in the direction the plastic was pulled, like picking up strands of cooked spaghetti or a bunch of pearl necklaces.  The space between the spaghetti strands or strands of pearls will not be as even as shown in the illustration above.  They should be more like the illustration below:

hanging pasta     

And that seems to say it isn't the width of the spaces between the barriers that determines how much light gets through, and how that light is oriented, it is the electromagnetic properties of the strands that orients the photons (or waves).   It's like the photons are passing through a waterfall.  Only photons that are vertical or nearly so can get through the waterfall.  Photons that are hit by the water while in a horizontal position (or near horizontal) are destroyed.

Another
problem is "circular polarization."  Some sources say it relates to the problem I discussed in my December 24 comment

light through a 45 degree
                                      filter
50% of the light from the source on the left gets through the first filter, which is oriented vertically.  50% of that light gets through the filter oriented at 45 degrees, and 50% of that light gets through the filter that is oriented vertically.  But, if you removed the 45 degree filter, NO light gets through to the meter.  It's all stopped by the vertical filter.

Some explanations of "circular polarization" say that putting the 45 degree filter between the horizontal filter and the vertical filter somehow gives the photons (or waves) some "spin."  And that is why some light passes through the horizontal filter.  It is "circularly polarized."  To me, "circularly polarized" seems like an oxymoron.  It's like saying a line can be "vertically horizontal."

So, I just spent the whole morning writing this comment, instead of working on my paper.  And I spent all of yesterday afternoon working on the illustration below, which was intended to show photons of different orientations hitting the strands of a vertical filter.

photons hitting a vertical filter
 
The problem is that the illustration seems too complicated to explain, particularly since it shows one vertical photon hitting a filter strand head on and being destroyed.  I think I need to show one photon at a time as it hits the filter.  Plus, the leftmost photon seems like it isn't moving edge-forward as the others are.  It's a bit flat side forward.

Sigh.  As this comment shows and demonstrates, I still have a lot to figure out, and I can spend all day writing something that just rambles without saying anything important.  But, I didn't know that would be the case when I started.

January 27, 2019
-
It's another one of those Sunday mornings when I have absolutely nothing prepared for this Sunday comment.  So, I'm going to have to write something totally from scratch.

I tried to get started on writing something yesterday afternoon, but I just stared at the computer screen for about an hour before giving up and going into the living room to read for awhile and then to listen to some old time radio shows I had put on my MP3 player.  Here's what my MP3 player looks like next to a cigarette lighter for size comparison (although I never smoked, I was given the cigarette lighter as an award for "Airman of the Month" in the Air Force long long ago):

My MP3 player   
I bought the MP3 player from Best Buy in 2015 and then immediately bought two different sets of speakers from Amazon to use when it isn't necessary to use headphones.  (I only use headphones when I listen to my MP3 player while on a treadmill or Exercycle at the gym.)  The first set of speakers looks like this:

MP3 player speakers - set #1
 
These speakers work fine, but the the actual speakers are made of metal and are fairly small, so the sound is a little tinny.  I used these speakers for years because they connect to an electrical outlet for power, and the other set of speakers I bought only uses batteries.  I didn't want to be buying batteries all the time.  That second set of speakers looks like this:

MP3 player speakers, set #2

These speakers are about 5 inches tall by 4½ inches wide.  The picture above shows the speakers closed.  They can be sealed shut with a zipper. There is another speaker on the other side, but one side definitely produces more sound than the other side.  Below is a shot of the speakers open, but with the speakers on the opposite sides so that the interior can be seen. 

MP3 player speakers, interior view

The batteries fit in a plastic box behind the lettering on the left, and the MP3 player usually goes into the net covered pocket on the right.  Carrying these MP3 speakers is about like carrying a paperback book, only lighter.  The great thing about these speakers is that they sound like a regular table-top radio, with fairly good bass sounds.  And I can easily carry the speakers with me if I move from room to room for some reason.  There is no electrical cord to worry about. 

It is these speakers that I've been using for the past month or so to listen to old time radio shows and audio books.  The speakers run on 2 AAA batteries, and the set still contains the batteries that came with the speakers when I bought them in 2015.  So, my concern about constantly draining the batteries was baseless.  I've probably had to recharge the lithium battery in the MP3 player at least five times in the past month, but the speakers' two AAA batteries keep working fine.

An interesting thing about listening to audio books and old time radio shows is that your subconscious can still be working on other things.  It can be figuring out problems, and your conscious mind can occasionally join in briefly.  But when reading a book on my Kindle or in paper form, my mind is totally occupied with converting printed words into ideas and images.  I cannot be thinking about something else at the same time.  That probably explains why it is so enjoyable to listen to audio books while driving.  My Right Brain can be focused on searching for visual signs of danger while my left brain listens to someone reading a book to me.  And, unlike having some actual person talking to me while I'm driving, I can hit pause on the CD player if I get into a driving situation that requires full focus.

While listening to old time radio detective shows I've been thinking about how radio signals bounce off the ionosphere to reach distant locations beyond the horizon - even on the other side of the globe.  Exactly how does that work?  The only descriptions I see in books describe the radio signals as waves.  I can find no book which describes radio signals as photons.  And the books do not really explain much.  Wikipedia says this about radio photons:
According to quantum mechanics, electromagnetic waves can also be viewed as streams of particles called photons. When viewed in this way, the polarization of an electromagnetic wave is determined by a quantum mechanical property of photons called their spin[citation needed]. A photon has one of two possible spins: it can either spin in a right hand sense or a left hand sense about its direction of travel. Circularly polarized electromagnetic waves are composed of photons with only one type of spin, either right- or left-hand. Linearly polarized waves consist of equal numbers of right and left hand spinning photons, with their phase synchronized so they superpose to give oscillation in a plane.
Is a radio signal really a "stream of photons"?  The transmitter transmitted photons in all directions.  Like so:

Radio transmission

The descriptions also show the situation depicted below:

radio signals
 
Either way, the antenna just receives photons in the same order they were transmitted.  There is no "stream."

Does a photon really spin "
about its direction of travel" as the Wikipedia article says?  That suggests that the photon is coming at you like a flat trashcan cover coming face-on, but spinning as it travels.  So, the flat side hits you like a wave.  But polarization says that the signal is coming at you edgewise, either polarized horizontally or vertically.  IF it is not polarized, it can be coming at you in any orientation, but it is still coming edgewise.

The last part of the Wikipedia quote is just gibberish.  "
Linearly polarized waves consist of equal numbers of right and left hand spinning photons"?  Waves consist of photons?  "With their phase synchronized so they superpose to give oscillation in a plane"?  That seems to be saying that the "top" of their spin will be coordinated to be in the same place whether spinning to the left or to the right. That causes the photon to act like a wave.

To me it is just forcing a photon to act like a wave in a way that agrees with some mathematics.  You get the same results if a photon is disk shaped.  The disk appears very small when it first arrives, it then grows in size as more of it arrives, until it reaches its full diameter, and then it decreases in size down to nothing as the rest of it arrives.  There is nothing oscillating, nor is there anything spinning.

Unfortunately, I need to create some complicated illustrations to make the differences clear.  But how would I know for certain that my illustration of two counter-rotating trashcan covers coming at a detector face-on is really what is meant by this part of the Wikipedia quote?
Linearly polarized waves consist of equal numbers of right and left hand spinning photons, with their phase synchronized so they superpose to give oscillation in a plane.      
And if they mean something else, what do they mean?

It seems to me that something I see as very simple is being explained as something incredibly complicated in order to give photons some "wave-like" properties.  The spin is required in order to give a "frequency" to the waves. 

With coin shaped photons, the diameter of the photon is the frequency.  Radio receivers are tuned to receive photons of a particular diameter, and it is simply fantasized that the coin-shaped photons are being received edge to edge, which provides their imaginary "wave frequency."  Like the red wave below:

edge to edge coins viewed as a wave

Groan!  It's after lunch time, and that means I've reached the end of today's comment.  I've basically just been rambling (something like a Spider Robinson story), writing down my thoughts as they occur to me.  And there is something in what I wrote that I never even thought about before.  Is that really how mathematician physicists view radio signals?  As spinning and coordinated trashcan covers arriving face-on.  It's crazy! 

Or maybe it is just how I visualize what Wikipedia says, and the actual explanation is something that no one has yet been able to illustrate - or intelligently describe in words, but which makes perfect sense as a mathematical equation.   


Comments for Sunday, January 20, 2019, thru Saturday, January 26, 2019:

January 25, 2019 - Either Monday or Tuesday, while I was at the gym, I sat down on an Excercycle next to a beefy middle-aged guy who was talking with someone on the other side of him.  I didn't like the look of the guy, but there was only one Exercycle that wasn't being used, and that was the one I took.  While I peddled and watched the latest news about Trump on CNN, the guy started watching the news, too.  And suddenly he barked at the TV, "Why do you just talk about it, why don't you do something about it?!"  Then he looked at me, but I just continued to look at the TV and said nothing.

I wanted to ask, "Who are you talking about?" and "What do you want them to do?"  But, I felt that anything I said would start an argument, and he didn't look like someone I wanted to argue with.

He left while I still had about 10 minutes remaining in my 20 minute session.

Then, yesterday morning, when I turned on the TV to listen to CNN Headline News while preparing breakfast, I couldn't get CNN.  I couldn't get anything except local stations.   No Turner Classic Movies, no Smithsonian Channel, nothing except Milwaukee stations.  I assumed it was some kind of temporary glitch and didn't think any more about it.  I just turned off the TV.

Then, when I went to the gym in the afternoon, the gym's TVs which normally show CNN were showing some ESPN channel.  And the TVs which normally show the FOX channel and FOX News were both showing a CBS show.  I had to wonder if it was connected to the problem I had with getting CNN at home.

Could Trump have declared that CNN and news shows were the "enemy of the people" and shut them down?  How could that happen without the local channels talking about it?  Whatever was happening, it was a permanent thing at the gym.  They wouldn't be showing CNN or FOX anymore.  It was a major operation for them to change networks on their TVs.  I knew that from past experiences.  They still haven't figured out how to stop their cable system from using the "energy saver" option to turn off most of their TVs every 24 hours, often while I am there.  Then gym employees have to run around turning them all back on again.  And that has been going on for over a year.  (Check my October 27, 2017 comment.) It happened while I was on the Exercycle yesterday. 

The alternative explanation was that that guy who yelled at the TV and others like him had caused the gym's management to stop showing news channels out of fear that those guys might start fights.

When I got home from the gym, CNN was available on my TV once again.  And so were all the other channels I watch.  Whew!  So, it was just a coincidence that the problem I had that morning had happened the same day that the gym stopped showing news channels.

I guess the moral of this story is that when the President is angry, it can make a lot of other people angry, and angry people don't think straight.  They can be very scary, and that affects a lot more people who just don't want trouble.

I'm looking forward to seeing what Mueller's investigation comes up with.  And I'm looking forward to the 2020 elections.  


January 24, 2019
- I'm still trying to focus on writing a scientific paper about understanding how photons work, but when I have a lot of unclear thoughts to sort through, I'm easily distracted by other things.  On Monday, I browsed through the audio books that were currently available for downloading from my local library, and I found a "book" called "Sounding Off! Garrison Keillor’s Classic Sound Effect Sketches featuring Fred Newman."

Sounding Off!

I was curious as to what it was all about, so I listened to the 4-minute sample the library provided.  The first bit was hilarious, about a radio sound effects expert telling his son what he does for a living.  So, I downloaded the entire audio "book" (which consists of only 1 hour and 12 minutes) into my computer.   I then listened to the whole thing, enjoying all the silly stuff involving sound effects very much, and I returned the "book" less than 2 hours after I borrowed it.  I spent the rest of the day thinking about photons.

The next morning, Tuesday morning, I was notified that an audio book I had on reserve at the library had become available.  It was "Variable Star," by Spider Robinson and Robert Heinlein.  It's 11 hours and 11 minutes long.  That's 352 pages in print format, a fairly long book. 

Variable Star

I immediately downloaded it, put it into my MP3 player.  As soon as my morning chores were done, I started listening to it.  I listened to about 5 hours worth on Tuesday, mostly in the evening.  On Wednesday, I listened to the rest, finishing it at about 5 p.m.  Like Robinson's short stories that I read last week, Variable Star is told in "first person" and seems to ramble endlessly.  It's like someone telling you a story over drinks in a bar. 

Variable Star takes place several hundred years in the future, when man has colonized the moon and Pluto, has terraformed Mars and some moons of Jupiter, and is in the process of sending colonists to planets around other stars.  The main character, 18-year-old Joel, has a fight with his billionaire girlfriend, Jinny, whose grandfather is one of the richest humans in solar system, and Joel hops aboard a space ship headed to colonize a planet around a star that is 85 light years away. 
We were making a jump of about eighty-five light-years—at such a hair-raising fraction of c that the trip would seem to us to take twenty years, total. But back in the normal universe, clocks run faster, thanks to Dr. Einstein’s Paradox. To an observer at, say, Tombaugh Station around Pluto, our voyage would appear to take roughly ninety and one-half Standard years.      
The book has a lot of descriptions of how time dilation works, and how the space ship Sheffield works.  The ship accelerates constantly to give the 500 passengers 1G of gravity.  And, thus its speed gets greater and greater until it reaches about 99.794% of c midway to its destination.  At that point the ship will turn around, and decelerate at 1G.  Here's the plan for the first 10 years of the journey:
By that point in our voyage, six months out, we were already beginning to use Dr. Einstein’s Clock instead of Sol.  [I.e., ship-board clocks instead of the Sun.] Lorentz contraction had set in, and we were aging just measurably slower than the people we had left behind.

How much slower? Not a lot—yet. At the instant when those of us in the Sheffield passed the six-month mark of the trip, residents of the Solar System were only about seventeen and a half hours older than we were.

But it would get steadily worse as our velocity mounted up. And constant boost mounts up fast.

At the one-year mark, the differential would be about seven days and seven hours.

At two years, it would be more than fifty-eight days.

By the five-year mark, the divergence of our clocks and mankind’s would surge up to almost three years. We would be traveling at more than 0.938c.

And when I had been traveling for ten years, and was twenty-eight years old, more than forty-five years would have elapsed on Terra. Behind me Jinny would be closing in on sixty-four.

And receding at 99.794 percent of the speed of light.
In a normal sci-fi novel, you have some kind of crisis and you keep on reading because you want to know what happens next.  The way Robinson writes, there is no initial crisis, and you keep waiting for something to happen. And when it does, it is something totally unexpected that changes the whole direction of the story.  Then you wait for something else to happen, and when it does it again changes the whole direction of the story.

I won't summarize the whole book here, but the first crisis is when the engine quits and everyone floats in zero gravity for awhile until they get the engine working again.  That doesn't really change the direction of the story, but it keeps you reading.  (And it sets you up for the next time the engine stops and can't be restarted, which means they cannot slow down.)

Then comes the BIG event.  Behind them, the sun goes nova when the Sheffield has been traveling for only about six years.  The sun, Earth and the other planets are all obliterated and there is a wave of lethal gamma rays chasing the Sheffield, traveling at c while the Sheffield travels at about 99.5% of c

It is virtually impossible for a star the size of the sun to go nova.  Plus, there were no prior indications of anything being wrong.  That means something or someone must have caused the sun to go nova. 

That should be enough to make clear why I kept reading.  The book also has a real Earthly quote of some kind at the start of every chapter.  Here's the quote that starts Chapter 16:  
During this period, Tesla spoke out vehemently against the new theories of Albert Einstein, insisting that energy is not contained in matter, but in the space between the particles of an atom.
—Tesla, Master of Lightning PBS-TV documentary, Dec. 12, 2000
Hmm.  I think I understand what Tesla was saying.  In a sense, photons exist between particles of an atom.  I'm going to have to mull that over.

Variable Star was an enjoyable book to listen to.  I have no way of knowing if it would be as enjoyable to read, but I thank the reader of this web site who mentioned it to me.    


January 21, 2019
- I learned a little history lesson this morning.  Mostly, it is a lesson I taught myself.  (Those are usually the lessons you never forget.) 

On January 18, I created a poster that said:

Remember:
If you impeach
Donald Trump
you will make
Mike Pence
President.
And Pence is even
worse than Trump!

In order to show that poster as part of my January 18 comment, I had to put it on some web site, so that I can use the link.  I put it on Imgur.com.  It's easier than putting it on my own web site.  I've been putting images on Imgur.com for the past 8 months.  On the 18th, however, I did something I had never done before.  Instead of putting the poster on Imgur for just my own use, I put it there as a public posting so that others could use it, too.

The instant I did that, I started getting comments about it.  The first comments advised me that impeaching a President doesn't automatically mean he will be removed from office. 

So, I quickly created a new poster that said, "you may make" instead of "you will make" Mike Pence President.  That also started a whole new discussion that is still going on.  As part of that discussion, I had to do some research today, and I learned that Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached by the House of Representatives, but the impeachments were not confirmed by the Senate.  So, neither was removed from office.  (Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.)  I probably knew all that, but just forgot the details.  Now I will never forget them.

The second Imgur discussion was mostly about whether Pence would or could be worse than Trump.  Someone argued that no one could be worse than Trump.  I think Pence could be worse, but it would be a different kind of worse.  Pence is not dumber than Trump, but Pence shows all the signs of being a religious fanatic.  (I'm currently reading "The Shadow President -  The Truth about Mike Pence" on my Kindle.)  The conversation then turned to whether Trump would resign if impeached by the House, or would he wait around to have his impeachment confirmed by the Senate and be officially removed.  I tend to think that Trump's ego would never allow him admit to doing anything seriously wrong, so he'd never resign.  If he was removed, he'd just argue that it was a "witch hunt" and that his removal was unjustified.  He'd fight it. 

The key point is that, if Trump was impeached and removed, it would probably be a process that could take a long time.  And Mike Pence would only be President for a short period (unless he is subsequently elected to a full term).

Either way, the whole situation is scary to think about. 

January 20, 2019
-
While eating lunch on January 18, I finished reading the Kindle version of Stephen Hawking's last book, "Brief Answer to the Big Questions."  (Hawking died on March 14, 2018.) The "Big Questions" in the title are things like, "Is there a God?," "How did it all begin?," "Is there other intelligent life in the universe?," "What is inside a black hole?," "Is time travel possible?," "Will artificial Intelligence outsmart us?," etc.

Here's a quote from page 37 that provides Hawking's answers to a couple of those questions:
And just as with modern-day black holes, floating around in space, the laws of nature dictate something quite extraordinary. They tell us that here too time itself must come to a stop. You can’t get to a time before the Big Bang because there was no time before the Big Bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.
He's relating black holes to the Big Bang.  And he's saying that time stops inside a black hole.  I fully agree.  Just as traveling at the speed of light stops time, so does gravity when it reaches some critical point.  As I see it, time is particle spin, and particles cannot spin when gravity is too intense.  The "Big Question" that I have that Hawking didn't answer is "What is Time?"  I think it is particle spin, but I'd certainly like to have someone with Hawking's expertise agree with me.  

The parts of the book that interested me the most were the part about black holes and the part about problems with getting people interested in science.  Science is vastly more important to people today than it was in bygone days.  He says we need more and better teachers, and we need to avoid alienating students by requiring that they do "rote learning" (memorizing), particularly of mathematical equations.  From page 202:
Most people respond to a qualitative, rather than a quantitative, understanding, without the need for complicated equations.
In other words, most people respond to good and simple explanations rather than long and complex explanations.  I agree.  I think a lot of scientific explanations are much more complicated than they need to be.  When I ask, "What is Time?", I want to know what the facts and evidence say.  I'm not interested in what someone in 435 BC believed the answer to be.

What Hawking wrote about black holes is mostly just what everyone else writes.  Of particular interest to me is the belief that light cannot escape from a black hole.  I think I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that light cannot be created in a black hole.  Gravity slows time by slowing particle spin and atomic processes.  Inside a black hole, time stops because the atoms and their particles have stopped all movement.  Thus the atoms cannot emit or create light.
  And that is why a black hole is black.  The atoms and particles within it have stopped moving and cannot create light.  So, light escaping from a black hole is not an issue.

That also means that the center of a black hole is NOT a singularity (which is just another mathematical absurdity).  It is a different form of matter - possibly "dark matter."  Hawking says that heat can escape from a black hole, although he doesn't phrase it that way.  He wrote on page 113:
My calculations predicted that a black hole creates and emits particles and radiation, just as if it were an ordinary hot body, with a temperature that is proportional to the surface gravity and inversely proportional to the mass. This made the problematic suggestion of Jacob Bekenstein, that a black hole had a finite entropy, fully consistent, since it implied that a black hole could be in thermal equilibrium at some finite temperature other than zero. Since that time, the mathematical evidence that black holes emit thermal radiation has been confirmed by a number of other people with various different approaches.    
The implication is that heat emitted from a black hole is not in the form of photons. But, I need to study and think about that a lot more.

On page 78, Hawking says that people today are no stronger nor inherently more intelligent than cavemen were.  What makes us so different is that we now have books and can pass information down to future generations.  And he says this on
page 208
I believe the future of learning and education is the internet. People can answer back and interact. In a way, the internet connects us all together like the neurons in a giant brain. And with such an IQ, what cannot we be capable of?
The problem is that we still have the instincts and aggressive impulses that we had in cavemen days.  On page 80 Hawking says,
Aggression, in the form of subjugating or killing other men and taking their women and food, has had definite survival advantage up to the present time. But now it could destroy the entire human race and much of the rest of life on Earth.
Hawking has also worked with Elon Musk to warn people of the dangers of relying too much on artificial intelligence.  Hawking ends his chapter on artificial intelligence this way:
Why are we so worried about artificial intelligence? Surely humans are always able to pull the plug? People asked a computer, “Is there a God?” And the computer said, “There is now,” and fused the plug.
This is from page 147:
The Earth is becoming too small for us. Our physical resources are being drained at an alarming rate. Mankind has presented our planet with the disastrous gifts of climate change, pollution, rising temperatures, reduction of the polar ice caps, deforestation and decimation of animal species. Our population, too, is increasing at an alarming rate. Faced with these figures, it is clear this near-exponential population growth cannot continue into the next millennium.
Hawking believed it is clear we will someday have to move to other planets.  We just have to avoid killing ourselves before that becomes possible.


Comments for Sunday, January 13, 2019, thru Saturday, January 19, 2019:

January 19, 2019
- Yesterday evening, using my MP3 player, I listened to the remaining tracks of the audio book version of "Callahan's Secret," which is the final volume in "The Callahan Chronicals," three collections of short stories by Spider Robinson.

Callahan's Secret
The Callahan Chronicals

While I enjoyed listening to the audio book, I don't know if I can recommend it.  Spider Robinson's short stories are mostly rambling philosophical discussions which take place in a bar on Long Island in the 1970's.  It's a friendly bar inhabited by humans and aliens.  The discussions are generally enjoyable and loaded with puns.  However, a lot of the discussions mention things that happened in previous stories.  So, you need to read or listen to them in the order they were written (which I did).  I don't plan to listen to any more of Robinson's short stories, but I might listen to the audio book version of a time-travel novel he wrote based upon an idea by Robert Heinlein.  I have it on reserve at my local library.


January 18, 2019
- Yesterday morning, after I finished writing my comment about the phone conversation I had with a TV producer about the anthrax attacks of 2001, I sat down on my couch and read from my Kindle for awhile.  I wanted to stop thinking about the anthrax case and get back to thinking about science.  Later, during lunch, I finished reading "Brief Answers to the Big Questions" by Stephen Hawking.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions

It was a very enjoyable and interested read.  I was tempted to wait until Sunday to write about it, but I can write something now and write more on Sunday. 

I'll comment on the science in my Sunday comment.  Today I'll comment on other things in the book. 
It's a science book, of course, but, interestingly, Hawking also mentions Donald Trump four times.  Three mentions are worth repeating.  On page 146, Hawking writes about the "Doomsday Clock" which supposedly tells us how close humanity is to destroying itself and bringing and the end of the world, and he says,
It is now closer to Doomsday than at any time since then, save in the early 1950s at the start of the Cold War. The clock and its movements are, of course, entirely symbolic but I feel compelled to point out that such an alarming warning from other scientists, prompted at least in part by the election of Donald Trump, must be taken seriously.
Later, on page 175, Hawking writes about how long it takes "information" or light to travel from place to place, and he says,
Forty years on, our most intrepid explorer, Voyager, has just made it to interstellar space. Its speed, eleven miles a second, means it would take about 70,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri. This constellation is 4.37 light years away, twenty-five trillion miles. If there are beings alive on Alpha Centauri today, they remain blissfully ignorant of the rise of Donald Trump.
And, lastly, on page 202 he says this about today's students learning about science:
Unfortunately, we cannot go back in time. With Brexit and Trump now exerting new forces in relation to immigration and the development of education, we are witnessing a global revolt against experts, which includes scientists.
That fits with what I wrote yesterday about people who make decisions based upon facts and evidence (like most scientists) versus people who only care about opinions and beliefs (like Trump).   If you are being driven by your emotions to impeach Donald Trump, consider the facts and evidence.  You might change your mind.
Warning about impeaching Donald Trump.
January 17, 2019 - Yesterday, I talked on the phone for about 25 minutes with the TV producer who sent me an email on January 9 about possibly doing an interview about the anthrax attacks of 2001.  Before the phone call, I combed my hair and put on a nice shirt in case he might also want to also talk via Skype.  That didn't happen.  It was just a phone call.  It was about a possible 4-part TV series that he was thinking of pitching to various networks.  If some network likes the idea, the network would then pay to have it produced - probably for the fall season.  Filming (and Skyping) would take place this summer. 

It occurred to me that if someone wanted to do a different kind of TV show about the anthrax attacks, they could do a show about how some people look at facts and evidence, while others are only concerned with opinions and beliefs.  That was how I got interested in the case.  I was looking at the facts and evidence (and putting them onto my web site about the case), because I had gotten into endless arguments with people who only had opinions and beliefs.

And now we have a President who is only interested in his own opinions and beliefs, and who has no interest in (or understanding of) facts and evidence.  He was elected by people who were evidently thinking emotionally, not logically.  I'd definitely like to see a documentary TV series titled "The Dangers of Thinking Emotionally Instead of Logically."  One danger: You might blame an innocent person for a crime he didn't commit (like those who pointed at Steven Hatfill in the anthrax case).  Another danger: You might elect a President who is totally unfit for the office.   

“When I think I’m right, nothing bothers me.” - Donald Trump

January 16, 2019 - Yesterday evening, I did something I think I've only done once before in my life (and that was the previous evening): I listened to parts of an audio book instead of doing what I "normally" do in the evening, like watching TV.  Using my MP3 player, I listened to a couple short stories from Spider Robinson's book "The Callahan Chronicles."  I thought the book contained three complete volumes of Robinson's sci-fi stories.  But suddenly and unexpectedly I finished the second volume, titled "Time Travelers Strictly Cash."  It contained only 4 stories.  That was much shorter than the first volume.  Too much shorter.

This morning did some research and I compared the indexes of "The Callahan Chronicles" and "Time Travelers Strictly Cash."  I found that "Chronicles" only contains four of the twelve stories that are in "Cash."  And I saw the index for "Chronicles" has these as the entries for the 3 volumes/parts:
PART I: Callahan's Crosstime Saloon                                        1
PART II: From Time Travelers Strictly Cash                          153 
PART III: Callahan's Secret                                                    227
So, the book has the complete volumes for two books and just four out of twelve stories from one book.  Does that mean I can say I read "Time Travelers Strictly Cash"?  No.  But, I can still show the cover:

Time Travelers Strictly Cash

The four stories were enjoyable, but, if I could do things over again, I would have listened to the 12 stories instead of just the 4.  However, my library doesn't have the audio book or Kindle or paper version of "Time Travelers Strictly  Cash," so I'm just going to mark it down as one of Life's minor disappointments.

January 15, 2019
- I don't know if that TV interview about the anthrax attacks of 2001 that I mentioned in my January 9 comment will happen or not, but I'll probably know by Thursday.  It won't be like any other TV interview I've ever done.  Previous interviews were done by camera crews and an interviewer who came to my home, or by me going to their studio.  If this one happens, it will be done via Skype.

I've never used Skype.  It's in my laptop because my laptop uses Windows 10 which contains Skype, but I always turn off Skype whenever I start or restart my computer.  For the past couple days I'd been researching Skype and puttering around with the laptop camera.  I took the picture below using my regular camera.   

Me at my compter using the computer
                                camera

Normally, I use the large screen in back and turn off the laptop's screen.  It is better for my eyes and neck if I look straight ahead at a screen instead of looking down at the laptop screen. When I just use the large screen, the laptop screen is pushed all the way back as far as it will go to get it out of the way, which means the camera is pointed upward and you can only see the very top of my head.

Here's a shot of me taking a photo of the two screens using my regular camera:

Taking a picture of a picture of
                                myself

I found it interesting how the laptop camera finds faces in the image and puts white or blue boxes around them.  You can see a white box around Audrey Hepburn's face and a blue box around my face.  It seems the laptop camera is all set up to do facial recognition.

It occurred to me that there might be a copyrights problem with showing Audrey Hepburn's image on a TV program.  So, after I took the photo above I switched that poster with a poster of the cover of my book "A Crime Unlike Any Other."  The last time someone asked me to do a TV interview, it was going to be done with a TV camera crew, and they would be shooting toward the wall with the window, so I switched the Audrey Hepburn poster that was on that wall with the book poster to get my book cover in the TV interview, and I never switched them back - until today.  (The Audrey Hepburn picture came with the frame.  I was going to put a photo of the cover of another one of my books into the frame, but I just never got around to doing that.)

So, even if the TV interview doesn't happen for some reason, I've learned a lot about Skype and my computer's camera.  I also know that others with expertise about the anthrax attacks have been disinclined to do TV interviews via Skype.  They told me it was because they would have no control over what would end up in the program.  But you never have that kind of control anyway, when doing TV interviews.  Plus, it is easier to turn off Skype than to throw a whole crew of people out of your home if you don't like the questions they ask.  I think their refusal may also be because they never used Skype and just didn't feel like learning how to use it.  Any day you learn something new is a good day.

January 14, 2019 (C)
- This morning, at around 7 a.m. as I lay in bed waiting for it to be 7:25 and time for me to get up, a bunch of ideas suddenly came together.

I was thinking about the time dilation situation I mentioned in my January 3 comment.  It's the situation where you have a mirror one light year away from Earth and you send a pulse of light to it.  It takes a year for the light pulse to get to the mirror and another year for the pulse to return to Earth.  According to Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, if you travel at 99.995% of the speed of light to that mirror and back, instead of taking you 365 days get there, it will appear to take just 3.65 days, and another 3.65 days to get back.  When you return, you will have aged 7.3 days, but everyone on Earth will have aged 2 years and 7.3 days.

I been thinking for the past 10 days that I should incorporate that example into one of my papers, but I wasn't sure which one to add it to.  Then, this morning, I thought maybe I should turn it into a new and separate paper titled "The Ultimate Twin Paradox."

As I thought about it, I wondered what the space traveler would see if he looked back at the Earth.  Would he see the Earth spinning once every .24 hours?  No, that would require light to travel instantly.  Looking back while on his way to the mirror the traveler would see the Earth hardly spinning at all because he would be almost outrunning the photons traveling from the Earth.  On the way back, the photons would be arriving at almost twice the speed of light, and he'd see the Earth spinning almost a hundred times a day.

Then it hit me: On the way back to Earth, the photons traveling at the speed of light would be reaching the traveler at c+v, where v is the traveler's speed.  It is also what my paper "An Analysis of Einstein's Second Postulate to his Theory of Relativity" is all about.  But what I hadn't been thinking about was how the photons would appear to the traveler at that speed.  While traveling away from the Earth, the photons would appear red shifted - in the harmless infrared range.  However, when going toward the Earth, the photons would appear extremely blue shifted. If a photon of yellow light is normally 600 nano-meters long, when you hit that photon while traveling toward it at 99.995% percent of the speed of light, the photon will appear 6 nano-meters long. That puts it in the X-ray range.  Its energy combines with your kinetic energy just as is done when a photon from a radar gun hits a photon in the front end of an approaching car.  If you look at the Earth while traveling toward it at 99.995% of the speed of light, it would be like looking into an X-ray machine.  Will the front end of your space craft be receiving light photons from Earth and emitting X-rays back toward Earth?  What happens to a space craft that is bombarded with so many X-rays?  

Another question: If a photon is coin shaped, a normal yellow light photon will have a diameter of 600 nano-meters and a normal X-ray photon would have a diameter of 6 nano-meters.   But, if you hit a yellow light photon while traveling at 99.995% of the speed of light, it's length might appear to be 6 nano-meters, but it will still have a height of 600 nano-meters.  So, it could be 100 times more powerful than a normal X-ray photon.

There might be something in this that I'm not understanding or don't know about, and it all might all be nonsense, but at the moment it seems right.  I definitely need to start writing it down and thinking it through.  It seems to have all kinds of implications I have never seen in any scientific paper.  And it really requires some understanding of: What is a photon?  


January 14, 2019 (B)
- This morning I received another email order from one of the companies that sells my books.  It's the first such order I've received from them since December 3.  The email is an exact duplicate of the one they sent on December 3 except for the order number.  And, except for the order number, that email was an exact duplicate of the emails they sent me on October 15th, 22nd and 29th, plus November 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th. 

As usual, there is no way for me to respond without joining a program they offer that will cost me $99 per year.  I cannot even ask which book they are ordering. 

I think I need to visit Callahan's Place and tell the guys there about my problem:  Robots are already taking over parts of the Earth.    


January 14, 2019 (A)
- Yesterday afternoon, I finished listening to an audio book version of Spider Robinson's collection of short stories titled "Callahan's Crosstime Saloon."

Calahan's Crosstime Saloon

Technically, I'm listening to "The Callahan Chronicles," which combines three volumes of Robinson's short stories into one.  I finished the first volume and started on the second.

It was a truly enjoyable listening experience, since the person reading the book was able to mimic different voices for the different people (and aliens) in Callahan's Place, a fictional bar on Long Island in New York state.  All the stories are told by patrons of Callahan's Place during the 1970s.  The patrons are all friendly and talkative, even the aliens.  The philosophy is "shared pain is lessened and shared joy is increased." Anyone who gets belligerent when drunk is not allowed in the place.  And they all love puns.  Tuesday is "Punday" at Callahan's, a day when everyone tries to out-pun everyone else.  Here's a sample:
This one night in particular had used up an awful lot of alcohol, and one hell of a lot of spiritual fortitude. The topic was one of those naturals that can be milked for hours: “electricity.” It was about one-fifteen that the trouble started.

By this point in a harrowing evening, the competition was down to the Doc, Noah Gonzalez and me. I was feeling decidedly pun-chy.

“I have a feeling this is going to be a good round Fermi,” the Doc mused, and sent a few ounces of Scotch past an angelic smile.

“You’ve galvanized us all once again, Doc,” said Noah immediately.

“Socket to me,” I agreed enthusiastically.     
The stories are about things like time travel, telekinesis, mind reading, living for thousands of years, and alien visitors.  There are no visits to other worlds, unless it is someone at Callahan's telling the rest of gang about such a visit.  It is a fast paced book, since most of it is dialog.  I really enjoyed listening to the audio book version and highly recommend it.  I don't know if reading it would be as enjoyable.  I may try reading one of the short stories just to find out.

January 13, 2019
-
I'm not currently working on any scientific papers because I think I need some kind of new idea to get me motivated.  The easiest way for me to get a new idea, of course, is to work on a paper about some unsolved problem.  So, I need to work on a paper to get an idea and I need an idea to motivate me to work on a paper.  Meanwhile, I'm doing nothing - except enjoying reading and listening to some very good books and arguing with people about other things.

One of the audio books I'm listening to has a chapter about how gravity works, and by coincidence on the same day I listened to that chapter someone posted an interesting question to the Astrophysics and Physics Facebook group.  The question was in the form of an illustration:
Physics problem about gravity
About 50 percent of the people responding said the answer was zero.  About 30 percent said the answer was 200 N (Newtons).  The remaining 20 percent said the answer was 100 N.  Most people didn't explain their reasoning.  The first person to claim the answer was zero and give his reasoning was obviously a mathematician, since he stated:
The two forces are in opposite direction.which gives the total force,f,as f1-f2=200-200=0N
The first person to claim the answer was 200 N and give his reasoning explained:
200 N cause the weight on the right further pulls the scale apart.
The first two people who claimed the answer was 100 N and who also provided explanations wrote:
Sridhar Ambati Its 100..u can imagine a situation where spring blance is hung vertically with 100N weight. the rigid support which is attached to the hook will offer 100N reaction force. But spring balnce will show only 100N
Mohamed Ahmed 100 N, one mass acts as a support and the scale only reads the weight of the other one. This situation is similar to mass hanging vertically from a spring attached to a scale hanging on the wall.
I agreed that 100 N is the right answer, but I thought a longer and clearer explanation was needed, so I wrote:
The answer is 100 N, but the problem is describing WHY it is 100 N.

It is 100 N because gravity is being measured, and you cannot measure gravity unless you have something to measure gravity against.

If the scale was nailed to the table, only the weight on the left side would be measured. It is the one pulling on the hook that measures weight.

In the illustration, the weight on the right takes the place of the nail. It holds the scale in place while the scale weighs the weight on the left.

If you added a gram to the weight on the left, the gram would pull the scale over to rest against the pulley, and the scale would measure 100 N and 1 gram. Add a gram to the weight on the right, and the scale would still show 1 N plus 1 gram, but you would be able to position the scale back in the center of the table again.

The only way the scale would measure 200 N is if the scale was nailed to the underside of the table and both weights were hanging from the hook.

The only way the scale would measure zero is if it had hooks on both ends and zero was in the center of the scale.
I immediately started getting people "liking" my post.  But I felt I needed to explain further.  I also felt that the illustrated question needed to have some scale readings.  So, I created this version of the question:
Gravity test version 2
And I wrote,
The question still is: Why would the scale register zero or 200 N?
That got an immediate response that I put the zero on the wrong end of the scale.  And then someone else complained that I should use more numbers and not put 100 N in the middle, because that would make some people think equal weights would give the middle number.

They were both right.  So, I created this version of the illustrated question:
gravity question -
                                              version 3

And I wrote this:

Here's a new version of the illustration. The question is: What will the scale show? zero, 100 N or 200 N?

The question is NOT how much weight is the table holding up. That would be 200 N plus the weight of the scale, ropes and pulleys.

The question is NOT whether the weight on the left side is equal to the weight on the right side. Obviously it is.

The scale will show 100 N.

The scale would show 200 N if the scale was nailed to the table and both weights were hanging from the hook on the scale. But that isn't what the illustration shows.

The scale CANNOT show zero, since it is obviously holding up some weight.

The scale shows 100 N because the 100 N on the right side is keeping the 100 N on the left side from falling to the floor and taking the scale with it.

It takes 100 N of lift to keep 100 N from falling. The scale just measures the lift required to overcome gravity and keep the weight from falling.
My explanation didn't stop the debate.  They are still arguing.  There were at least 37 posts overnight, and most of them are just posting answers without explanations.  And one person is posting a video over and over, at least ten times so far.  Here's the video:



The video shows the experiment being performed in a classroom, and it shows the answer would be 100 N.  (In the video, the teacher uses 10 N weights.) (You can view part 1 of the lesson HERE and part 2 HERE.)

I also see one responder in the thread complaining that the answers should just be a number without any explanation, because no one has time to read long explanations.  His comment is in response to a multiple part, long winded answer that doesn't say whether the answer is zero, 100 N or 200 N.

In response to my answer and final illustration, I had a conversation with someone named "James Quick" that went like this:

QUICK: I have a problem trying to figure out why so many people are having a problem with basic physics I mean BASIC !
LAKE: That's a psychology question. My answer would be that some people think logically with the left side of their brain while others think visually and emotionally with the right side of their brain. The weights in the illustration LOOK equal, so they seem to balance each other out. The two weights are both pulling on the scale, so they LOOK like the scale should weigh them both.

You need to know how gravity works and how it is measured to understand the logic of the problem. To measure gravity you need to pull AGAINST something. The left weight is pulling against the scale which is held in place by the right weight.
QUICK: That being said, this is a physics group right?
LAKE: Right, it's a physics group. But people who are interested in physics do not always think logically. Many physics students are taught to think mathematically. They claim that mathematics IS logic or that logic can be replaced by mathematics. If you try to get them to explain something, they can only explain with mathematical equations. They only understand math. What is actually PHYSICALLY happening is of absolutely no interest to them.

The illustration looks like a mathematical equation with equal weights on both sides. So, mathematically, the answer should be zero.
QUICK: So if you're a physicist you have to abandon all logic? 
LAKE: They don't think that way. They just think about the math and don't think about the logic. They also believe that "cause and effect" is no longer part of physics. Physics is just math. Period. If you argue logic with them, they just think you are stupid because you aren't phrasing things in mathematical terms.
Quick responded to that last post by just indicating that he "liked" my answer.  That was the end of the discussion except for a post by someone who I assume is a mathematician, since he wrote:
Mahima Romanoff: Remember there questions come with important info like--"weight of strings, pulleys, and spring is 0". The whole concept of these type of questions is the equilibrium. The only way this will work is if the pointer scale null is in the middle of the scale. Suppose the distance between 0 and 100N is 'x' and distance from middle of scale to weights is 'y' then , the left side length is y+x while the right side length is 'y'. Whoa.

Your math is blowing my mind. 
After that, the thread is just more arguing between other people, plus a lot of people just giving their answers in the form of a number.  As of this moment, there are 167 posts and 126 individuals have indicated that they like, love or are amazed by the thread.  I just added my name as someone loving the thread. 

I think I might create a version of it for my Facebook group on Time and Time Dilation.  It would be off topic, but it's my group, so I can break the rules if I have a good reason.  I might also start a thread about "What is a Photon?"  Maybe someone will give me an idea that will get me going on writing about that subject again.








Other interests:

fake picture of snow on
                    the pyramids
 Click HERE for an analysis of this fake photo.

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