|Comments for Sunday, May 17, 2020,
thru Saturday, May 23, 2020:
May 22, 2020 - Last night, I spent the entire evening listening to podcasts. First I listened to two 50-minute-long "Stuff to Blow Your Mind" podcasts, "Split Brain - Part 1" and "Split Brain - Part 2," from February 22 and 29, 2020. Needless to say, they were about how the two different sides of our brains operate. The discussions were somewhat muddled, but the second part was definitely more clear and more interesting than the first part.
They explained that speech comes from the left brain, and the center for articulate speech is in the front of the left brain. They also claimed that the right brain generally believes in God, but the left brain does not. The most interesting part for me, however, was their discussion of "moral intentions." They gave examples where one person opens a door and accidentally knocks over a tray of 12 glasses that someone had mistakenly placed behind the door, and a second person deliberately knocks a glass off of a table and breaks it. The accident did far more damage than the deliberate act. Tests show that children typically assign guilt based upon the amount of damage done. The person who accidentally broke 12 glasses is more "bad" than the person who deliberately broke 1 glass.
Evidently, a lot of that kind of thinking carries over into adulthood for some people - particularly those who think primarily with their right brains (like Donald Trump). People who think primarily with their left brains see things more logically, and they can more easily see things as others would see them. An outsider would see one as an accident and the other as intentional. The person who deliberately broke the single glass, however, might see his deed as less bad than what the person who accidentally broke 12 glasses did. I'm probably not explaining it well. You really need to listen to the podcast to get the total gist of things.
After finishing those two podcasts, I started listening to some podcasts from "The Infinite Monkey Cage," my favorite podcast site. The first podcast I listened to was from Dec. 10, 2013, and is titled "To Infinity and Beyond." The description says,
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedy producer John Lloyd, mathematician Colva Roney Dougal and writer Simon Singh, to explore the universality of mathematics, the nature of infinity and the role of numbers in everyday life.It was an absolutely fascinating discussion for me, really showing how math seems to be a favorite game for some mathematicians. They really and truly enjoy playing around with numbers and making "patterns" with them, i.e, creating equations that look "beautiful" but are otherwise totally useless. Over and over they say that "mathematics is the language of physics," BUT "math does not necessarily represent reality." What is greater than infinity? Infinity plus 1, of course.
The second TIMC podcast I listened to was from July 8, 2014, and is titled "Numbers Numbers Everywhere." The description is:
Brian Cox and Robin Ince are joined by comedian Dave Gorman and maths author Alex Bellos to discuss the joy of numbers and why we are all closet mathematicians at heart.I am definitely NOT a "closet mathematician at heart." The podcast was more of the same thing, only it was made more clear that what mathematicians really love about math is totally meaningless to non-mathematicians and a total waste of time. Math is a favorite game for mathematicians. And they do not care what use their "games" have.
The third TIMC podcast I listened to was from Dec. 10, 2012, and is titled "Brain Science." It was another excellent show, mostly about how we need to keep the body healthy in order to keep the brain functioning properly. "The brain is more complicated than physics." The show was also about making rats laugh.
The fourth TIMC podcast I listened to was from Dec. 18, 2012, and is titled "Creating Life." It was another fascinating show, even though it wasn't about any of my favorite topics. It was partly about "spider goats," which I don't think I'd ever heard of before. If I did, it certainly wasn't this memorable. According to the BBC:
Prof Randy Lewis shows Adam Rutherford genetically modified goats at a farm at Utah State University, US, which produce large quantities of a spider silk that is among the strongest substances known to man.That's one of the most interesting things about listening to podcasts. They constantly bring up things that I never heard of before. And The Infinite Monkey Cage does it with comedians asking questions, so you laugh while you learn.
They do not number their shows, and I haven't actually counted them. All I know is that I've downloaded 70, and I've listened to more than half of those. But now I think I'm going to download nearly every other show they have.
May 21, 2020 (B) - After finishing today's (A) comment, I sat down on an easy chair in my living room and finished listening to the 5-hour 49-minute audio book version of "The Essential Lewis and Clark," narrated by Peter Friedman and Tom Wopat, and edited by Landon Y. Jones:
I'd listen to all but about 50 minutes of it last night before it was bed time. It's a very interesting book mostly written by Lewis and Clark themselves as they wrote journals while traveling. That means it is in the syntax of 1805, which is interesting by itself. If you read the journals, you see endless misspellings and strange terms, particularly Clark's journals. Here's William Clark's entry for "Friday 16th May 1806":
The Indians of this country seldom kill the bear they are very much afraid of them and the killing of a White or Grizly bear, is as great a feet as two of their enimey. the fiew of those animals which they chance to kill is found in the leavel open lands and pursued on horses & killed with their Arrows. they are fond of the flesh of this animal and eate imoderately of it when they have a sufficiency to indulge themselves. The men who were complaining of the head ake and cholick yesterday and last night are much better to day. Shabonos Squar gathered a quantity of fenel roots which we find very paliatiable and nurushing food. the onion we also find in abundance and boil it with our meat."Squar" is how "squaw" is most often written by all parties, and often it also appears to be how "square" is spelled. Toussaint Charbonneau's teen-age wife was Sacagawea, who is mostly referred to as Shabonos wife in the book. (Lewis spelled her name "Sahcargarmeah.") The passage above was picked because it is where White bears are explained to be grizzly bears, which are not white but a dirty brown and very different from and bigger than black bears. The travelers were attacked by "white bears" many times during their trek. (While listening to the book I kept wondering if some kind of Polar bear roamed the plains in that era.) The travelers ate a lot of bears, horses, buffalo and dogs during the trip.
Most interesting, however, is how Lewis and Clark managed to get from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back without getting killed or even losing anyone in their party to Indian attacks. Their problems with Indians seemed mostly to be like walking through parts of New York City and interacting with street gangs. Some Indians would steal things, others would not. The ones who would steal did not fight to keep what they stole. If caught, they'd just give up their loot, possibly because the travelers had rifles and pistols. The Indians tried to steal the guns Lewis and Clark carried, and sometimes they stole horses. There were no battles between the travelers and the Indians. It was mostly like trying to make your way through a foreign country where you didn't know the language, and if you do not bother other people, they won't bother you. But if you sleep in the open, they'll rob you blind while you sleep. Communication was done with hand gestures, or "sign language," which was the same everywhere.
It was definitely an interesting audio book and well worth the time I spent on it.
May 21, 2020 (A) - All the late-night talk shows have been talking about President Trump's claim that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a protection against COVID-19. Generally, the attitude seemed to be that no one believes Trump's claim. It certainly seemed like Trump was lying. He looked like he was lying. But, what bothered me was the fact that no one asked the obvious question:
Mr. President, since hydroxychloroquine is a prescription drug, are you saying that your doctor prescribed it for you, or that you obtained it from somewhere without a prescription?Researching the topic this morning, I found that someone did ask the question yesterday. The Hill reported on it:
President Trump's physician prescribed hydroxychloroquine for him as a preventative measure against the coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed Wednesday amid criticism and questions about whether Trump is actually taking the drug....
McEnany has in recent days defended the president's decision to take the drug while at the same time attempting to make clear that average Americans should not do the same without a prescription from their doctor.So, Trump is considered to be "terminally ill"? Hmm. Okay, that makes sense.
May 20, 2020 - A few days ago, I decided it was time for a haircut. I was long overdue for a haircut when the pandemic started, so I was really beyond overdue. But, since the barber shops are closed, and because I live alone, I would have to give myself a haircut. I have scissors, of course, but I needed inexpensive hair clippers to trim the back of my neck and around my ears. Walmart was out of stock on the item I wanted, so I tried on-line. I found that my local Farm & Fleet store had what I was looking for at the price I was looking for, plus they also had face masks. The front of the store was closed, but they had a drive-thru pickup service. I placed an order on-line, and less than an hour later my order was ready for pickup. It was the first time I'd done a drive-thru pickup during the pandemic. It was also odd, because the pickup location was a side door on a loading dock where people normally pick up lumber and lawn mowers and other large objects. They had employees running out to you and then back into the warehouse part of the store to get the small bag of stuff I bought.
Later it was also the first time I'd given myself a haircut. I'm not sure how it looks from the back, but it certainly feels cooler. And KN95 face masks are certainly easier to use and fit a lot better than my hand-made mask.
Meanwhile, I'm still listening to a lot of podcasts. But, there is a finite number of podcasts that seem of interest to me, so I'll probably be shifting to audio books before long. One podcast I listened to a couple days ago on the Stuff You Should Know web site was about the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1803. I'd recently borrowed an audio book about that expedition from my library, and it was on my mind and on my things-to-do list, so I listened. It was a fascinating discussion, and this morning I moved the audio book to my MP3 player. It's only 5 hours and 49 minutes long, so I might try listening to it this afternoon.
After listening to the podcast about Lewis and Clark, I listened to a very interesting and funny discussion about comedian Rodney Dangerfield. During the discussion, they talked about YouTube videos of Dangerfield on various TV shows. Later, when I did a search for those videos, Google and YouTube knew I was also interested in science, so they showed me links to some science videos. The science videos seemed even more interesting than the Dangerfield videos, particularly a YouTube video of theoretical physicist Freeman Dyson discussing "Why General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics can't be unified."
Dyson makes it about a simple as it can be. He stated that Relativity is about the past and how things are known to work. Quantum Mechanics, on the other hand, is about predicting the future. It's about the probability that something will happen. That's why they cannot be combined. They're about totally different things! I had never looked at the subject quite that way before, although I've been arguing for years that they cannot be combined under Quantum Mechanics, yet mathematicians insist on claiming they can be.
Dyson also stated that gravity cannot be quantified, i.e., there is no particle of gravity. He said that would be like quantifying temperature. So, if you cannot have a temperaton, you cannot have a graviton. I'd never before thought about comparing gravity to temperature, but it also makes a certain amount of sense.
I also listened to an excellent The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast from March 14, 2009, about Quantum Physics. Surprisingly, they also talked about astrology during the podcast and about how Einstein was born on March 14, which put him under the Pisces sign, which goes from about February 19 to March 20. The people on the show thought that was interesting, because three of the people on the show were also "Pisceans," including the host, physicist Brian Cox. I found it interesting because I was also born under the sign of Pisces. While they talked about astrology for a bit, the rest of the show was about Quantum Physics and was even more interesting.
It's like interesting stuff is falling from the sky. There's so much of it, that you can't possibly listen to or watch it all. And that is definitely a good thing in this pandemic-focused time in history.
May 18, 2020 - Yesterday afternoon, I listened to those two Sky News podcasts about Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that I mentioned in yesterday's comment. While the podcasts were interesting, they weren't as worthwhile as the two January 2020 episodes on the "Stuff You Should Know" podcast. Both sites agreed that facts and evidence made it a virtual certainty that MH370 crashed in the Southern Indian Ocean as a result of a murder suicide plan orchestrated and carried out by the plane's pilot. The conspiracy theories arguing otherwise are not supported by any meaningful facts or evidence.
Although I watched two movies last night, when not doing that, my mind still drifted to things I had heard on science podcasts. My favorite science podcast is probably "The Infinite Monkey Cage" from BBC5, which features physicist Brian Cox. It is both funny and informative. I'm keep wanting to mention the podcast from Nov. 27, 2012, about "improbable science." I listened to that episode last week sometime, and made a note to myself to look up The Ig Nobel Prize, which was mentioned on the podcast. This morning I finally looked it up. It seems like a joke, but it's not. The theme of the award is "research that makes people laugh and then think." An example:
While this award seems totally relevant today, it was actually "the public health" prize awarded in 2009, and is about a patent issued in 2007. The caption for the above picture is:
Ig Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Elena Bodnar demonstrates her invention (a brassiere that can quickly convert into a pair of protective face masks) assisted by Nobel laureates Wolfgang Ketterle (left), Orhan Pamuk, and Paul Krugman (right).The prizes for 2020 have not yet been awarded, but here are some of the prizes from 2019:
MEDICINE PRIZE: Silvano Gallus, for collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy.They've been awarding the prizes since 1991, and Nature magazine calls them "the highlight of the scientific calendar."
It makes me think about a book I discussed with someone last week. The book was "Serendipity: Accidental Discoveries in Science" by Royston M. Roberts. In a way, all "discoveries" are accidental. If you set out to find something and then find it, that is not a "discovery," it is confirmation of a theory. Columbus set out to find a shorter way to India and China by going East instead of West, and he "discovered" that there were two continents blocking the way. He had no idea what he had "discovered," and went to his grave thinking he'd reached someplace in the Far East, but just didn't know where. So, my point is: you can do an experiment that might seem kind of silly, but you could discover something unexpected and important while doing that "silly" experiment.
May 17, 2020 - Groan! I received an email in my inbox this morning informing me that the gym where I had been exercising four times a week for many years is now permanently closed. So, when gyms open up again and I decide it is safe enough for me to go to one, I'll have to join a different gym.
Meanwhile, this morning I once again have nothing prepared for my Sunday morning comment. So, once again I'll have to write something from scratch.
A couple days ago, a physicist from Brazil sent me a message that began with this:
I have seen your article on "Radar Guns and Einstein's Theories". Congratulations for the clearest view about Einstein's Fundamental Postulates in the TR, I ever have seen. I fully agree that the textbooks for scholars present absurdities that turn the STR arcane and very confusing.We exchanged a couple more emails, and he asked how I got into that subject and into time dilation. That made me think about the trail I left behind as I discussed physics in various places on the Internet, while at the same time leaving links to those places on this site and to my anthraxinvestigation.com site. When did I first start discussing and talking about time dilation? I wasn't sure, but I remembered arguing about it with Bill Gaede and his disciples, so I did a search through the anthrax site for "Bill Gaede" to see where I first mentioned his name there. Evidently, I never did. The first time I mentioned that name was on this site in my July 2, 2015 comment. That comment mentions the Rational Scientific Method Facebook group, which I think may have been started by Mr. Gaede. A check of that Facebook group shows that it is still active.
Then further searching showed that in June 2015 I had just put my first science paper onto vixra.org. It was my paper on "Time Dilation Re-visualized." As I recall things, I had tried to get that article published in some science journal first. That means I was arguing about time dilation long before I ever heard of Bill Gaede or the Rational Scientific Method. When I searched for "time dilation" on my anthrax site, I found I first mentioned that term on March 16, 2014 when I'd just finished an on-line college physics course I'd taken. Ah! So that is what got me started arguing about the subject. I'd always been interested in science and in time dilation, but Brian Greene's course woke me up to the fact that college professors are teaching something different from what I learned by reading many different books on the subject.
Interestingly (for me at least), March 2014 was also the time when I was discussing and arguing with conspiracy theorists about the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. It had just happened on March 8, 2014. And yesterday, I just happened to listen to a very interesting 2-part science podcast about MH370. They were on a podcast site I'd just discovered, "Stuff You Should Know." The episodes are their January 7th and January 9th episodes for 2020, but I can't find a way to provide a direct link to them. And, while looking for those links this morning, I found two more recent podcasts about MH370 on the Sky News site from Australia. I'll have to listen to them as soon as I find the time.
That's one of the most interesting things about podcasts. They constantly bring up things I haven't thought about in years, things I'd totally forgotten about, and things that I never even thought about before.
And, it is almost lunch time, so that is my comment for this Sunday morning.
|Comments for Sunday, May 10, 2020,
thru Saturday, May 16, 2020:
May 14, 2020 - While I was returning home from getting groceries yesterday afternoon, I finished listening to CD #8 in the 8 CD set for the audio book version of "Pandora's Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong" by Paul A. Offit MD.
It's a book about all the times that inventors and scientists have discovered things that seem to be "miracle cures," but turn out to do more harm than good. The story begins with opium, which was discovered 6,000 years ago, became the miracle pain reliever of the 19th century, and then became the cause of countless deaths in the 20th century.
Then there was heroin:
In 1900, Eli Lilly, working in collaboration with Bayer, began distributing heroin without prescription in the United States, promoting it side by side with aspirin as a treatment for colds and the flu. Lilly claimed that the drug could be given safely not only to children, but also to infants and pregnant women.And oxycodone:
In the early 1950s, oxycodone made its American debut. Initial preparations were combined with a variety of other drugs. For example, there was Percodan, a combination of oxycodone and aspirin; Combunox, a combination of oxycodone and ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory; and Percocet, a combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol). But the single most powerful, and eventually most addictive and most abused preparation, was OxyContin, pure oxycodone uncut by other drugs. OxyContin’s manufacturer, Purdue Pharma, marketed the drug as a first-line agent for arthritis. In OxyContin, Purdue Pharma had struck gold—the drug would eventually account for more than 80 percent of its business.There's a lot in the book about lobotomies, and how the inventor went around with an ice pick which he used to perform a lobotomy every 6 minutes.
One invention that I never knew the importance of is ammonia and its use in the making of fertilizers.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon crossed “the bamboo curtain” and visited China. With him was James Finneran, a senior executive from the M. W. Kellogg Company. At the time, China was the most extensive recycler of human and animal waste in the world. Every ounce of natural nitrogen was put onto every piece of cultivable land. It was simply not possible for China to produce more food than it was producing. But it wasn’t enough. Peasants began eating their livestock, wild vegetables, soup made from grass, and bark stripped from trees; in some regions, cannibalism was reported. By 1961, an estimated 30 million Chinese had died from starvation. Those who had survived ate rice and a few vegetables; meat was rare; food was rationed. Worse, the population in China was increasing at a rate of ten million a year.A major part of the book is about "eugenics" and how for almost a hundred years there were major efforts to purify the human race and get rid of inferior people. Millions were killed.
And then there's DDT:
In 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, an angry, raging, no-holds-barred polemic against pesticides—especially one called DDT....
Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture had placed some restrictions on DDT a few years before the publication of Silent Spring (because of stream pollution), Carson’s book ignited a movement that would eventually eliminate the pesticide from the face of the earth.The problem was that DDT was saving millions of lives.
In the early 1900s, more than a million Americans were infected with malaria every year. Although improvements in housing, better standards of living, and control of mosquito breeding sites had clearly lessened the incidence of the disease, DDT spraying was enormously beneficial, especially in rural areas. Between January 1945 and September 1947—as part of a program run by the MCWA (Malaria Control in War Areas)—more than three million houses were sprayed in the Southeast. In 1952, the United States was finally declared free of malaria. (Located in Atlanta, Georgia, the MCWA later changed its name to the Centers for Disease Control.)and
Since 1972, when the Environmental Protection Agency banned DDT from the United States, about 50 million people have died from malaria: Most have been children less than five years old.and
In the end, 99 countries eliminated malaria; most used DDT to do it. “Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in twentieth century America,” wrote author Michael Crichton. “We knew better and we did it anyway and we let people around the world die, and we didn’t give a damn.”and
Despite Carson’s warnings in Silent Spring, studies in Europe, Canada, and the United States showed that DDT didn’t cause liver disease, premature births, congenital defects, leukemia, or any of the other diseases she had claimed. Indeed, the only type of cancer that had increased in the United States during the DDT era was lung cancer, which was caused by cigarette smoking. DDT was arguably the safest insect repellent ever invented—far safer than many of the other pesticides that have since taken its place.Needless to say, it was a very interesting book.
May 13, 2020 - Yesterday afternoon went out to have the oil changed in my car and to have some other regular maintenance tasks performed. The car dealer's garage is a big and busy place, with about 20 employees and about 8 customers, and I was surprised to be the only person in the entire building who wore a mask. I'm not sure how to compute that. In addition, social distancing was done by customers in the waiting room, who would probably maintain their distance even in normal times, but not by the people who worked in the place.
I listened to podcasts while I waited, but nothing worth mentioning here. This morning I did something I'd been thinking about doing for a week or more. I researched Carl Sagan's take on time dilation. I had searched through some of his books without finding anything worth quoting. Then, this morning I went through my own library. I found a paperback copy of "The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective." I don't know if I've ever read it. It seems unlikely, since no passages were underlined. But there are definitely things worth quoting in arguments with mathematicians. I found this passage starting at the bottom of page 246:
There is a third consequence of special relativity, a bizarre effect important only close to the speed of light: The phenomenon called time dilation. Were we to travel close to the speed of light, time, as measured by our wristwatch or by our heartbeat, would pass more slowly than a comparable but stationary clock. Again, this is not an experience of our everyday life, but it is an experience of nuclear particles, which have clocks built into them (their decay times) when they travel close to the speed of light. Time dilation is a measured and authenticated reality of the universe in which we live.I just posted that quote to the sci.physics.relativity forum to see what the reaction will be. I've found quotes by Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman and Carl Sagan that agree with my understanding of time dilation. I'll have to do a search to see what Stephen Hawking had so say about it.
May 12, 2020 - I'm still listening to a lot of podcasts in the afternoons and evenings, instead of my regular practice of reading books or watching movies. I even had to develop a system for keeping track of which podcasts I have listened to. First, I download the podcasts that look like they might be interesting into my computer (except for Joe Rogan's podcasts, which I watch on my TV). Then I copy a bunch of them over to my MP3 player, and I mark which ones I copied by putting an X- in front of the file name used in my computer. When I finish listening to a podcast on my MP3 player, I delete it. When I run low on podcasts in my MP3 player, I download some more, again marking the ones I downloaded so that I don't download them a second time. I can't just delete them because I only downloaded some podcasts that seem interesting from each web site, and I might want to go back to the source and download some more. When I'm certain that I'm up-to-date with a specific podcast site, then I'll delete those from my computer -- maybe saving some that seem particularly interesting.
I just filled up my MP3 player again this morning (a lot of space in my MP3 player is occupied by audio books). I have an appointment to have my car's oil changed this afternoon, plus they'll do a lube job and rotate the tires, so that seems like a good time to listen to podcasts while waiting. Normally I'd read a book on my Kindle, but podcasts seem more interesting right now.
Last night I finished listening to a discussion between philosopher Sam Harris and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson that took place four years ago. They talked a bit about Carl Sagan and how Sagan upset many scientists. That was something I'd never heard before. Evidently, many scientists were angry that Sagan was explaining things in layman's terms. The scientists didn't want their work to be accessible to ordinary people. Plus, they got upset when Carl Sagan said anything that conflicted with what the scientists themselves believed. His Cosmos shows on PBS would often support one side in some endless conflict, and that would greatly upset the scientists on the other side.
That certainly fits with my endless conflicts on the sci.physics.relativity forum. I was involved in an interesting discussion there, until yesterday, when it became clear that they just wanted to endlessly argue with one another.
Last night, I also listened to a podcast discussion between Sam Harris and history professor and author Yuval Noah Harari. I've gotten into the habit of making notes when I hear something interesting. I made a lot of notes from that show. Here are some of them:
The U.S. is not a leader in the pandemic crisis, we are anti-cooperation.I'm not sure what was meant by that last comment. But it certainly seems like it might be a good time for people with money to buy failing companies that were previously competitors or which have assets that will later be very valuable.
That's one of the most interesting things about listening to podcasts. They very often bring up things that I never even thought about before.
May 11, 2020 - I keep thinking about those Right Brain vs Left Brain color tests. While researching it, I found something that seems to show very clearly how the brain interprets (or misinterprets) colors - specifically colors in shadows. The dress test and the sneaker test were both tests about objects in shadows. Then I found a demonstration involving Object-A below:
In Object-A, the center square on top is clearly a different color than the center square of the left side, which is in a shadow. The top square is dark brown, the square on the side seems to be some shade of orange, and that square in the shadow is definitely a lighter color than the top square.
However, when I erase the shadow and all the squares around the center square on the left side..... PRESTO! I did not touch that center left square, yet it seems to have changed colors. It now looks to be the same color as the center top square.
I cannot be certain, but I don't think this has anything to do with Left Brain or Right Brain dominance. I think it is about what the Right Brain sees and how the Left and Right Brains interpret things. I am assuming everyone will see what I see. But, I could be wrong.
May 10, 2020 - Groan! This is another one of those Sunday mornings when I have absolutely nothing prepared for my regular Sunday comment. So, I'll have to write everything from scratch. But, what is there to write about?
On Friday, I lost track of what day it was, and thus I forgot to do my laundry. I always do my laundry on Friday afternoons, right after I return home from the gym. But the gym is closed these days, so Fridays are just like every other day of the week. I did my laundry on Saturday morning. Then, on Saturday morning I used a razor for the 8th time. I normally toss out the old razor and start on a new one when I shave on Saturday morning. But, I forgot. (I was probably just thinking about how I needed to do my laundry that morning.)
The world is coming to an end!!!! Or maybe not.
The only time I encounter other people is when I go grocery shopping, and then I always wear a mask and practice "social distancing." If the checkout line is short, which it usually is in mid-afternoons, I'm typically in and out in less than 10 minutes. I shop every 6 days, since that is how long my salads last. I buy two packages of garden salad, and each package contains 3 servings. And while I'm at the store I also pick up milk, orange juice, yogurt, plus maybe apples and a few other things. I try to eat an apple a day. The slogan "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is not just a slogan, it's good advice that really works. Other than my annual wellness exams, I've only had to go to the doctor once in the past 30 years, when I got pneumonia in December 2016 because I failed to get a flu shot. I had a bad cough and a fever, but nothing that prevented me from my doing my daily routines. Antibiotics cured it in 8 days. Now I always get a flu shot when I get my annual wellness exam.
So, what else is there to write about? Hmm. I'm still watching and listening to podcasts when I'd normally be reading, listening to audio books, or watching TV. The "problem" with podcasts is that the podcasters are always mentioning other podcasts, So, I have to check out the podcasts they mention to see if they are also something I also might want to listen to. And, if so, that means I have even more podcasts waiting in the queue. Yesterday, I downloaded 30 episodes of "Making Sense" with Sam Harris into my computer. There are 201 episodes available, but I just went through the list to find those about subjects of interest to me. I then moved 3 of those episodes from my computer into my MP3 player.
Last night I listened to episode #87, in which Harris and Scott Adams discuss Donald Trump, from July 19, 2017. It was fascinating, because cartoonist Scott Adams endlessly appeared to defend Trump. But Adams did not defend Trump in a way that a typical Right Winger might. Adams defends Trump as being a "master persuader." It's as if the only question about Trump is whether or not he is good at convincing others to believe as he believes. To me, it was like listening to a Quantum Mechanics mathematician argue that it is not necessary for the universe to make sense to you, you just need to understand what the mathematics say. I found Scott Adams' arguments to be near lunacy, and so did the host, Sam Harris.
I then listened to episode #65, in which Sam Harris and David Frum discuss Donald Trump. The episode is from Feb. 20, 2017. It was another very interesting discussion, but this time between two people who both think Trump is a dangerous lunatic.
Then I tried episode #164, in which Harris "speaks with [philosopher and computer scientist] Judea Pearl about his work on the mathematics of causality and artificial intelligence. They discuss how science has generally failed to understand causation, different levels of causal inference, counterfactuals, the foundations of knowledge, the nature of possibility, the illusion of free will, artificial intelligence, the nature of consciousness, and other topics." Unfortunately, it was too difficult or me to decipher things through Pearl's heavy accent and his soft way of speaking, so I quickly gave up on it.
Since those were the only 3 Sam Harris podcasts I'd put into my MP3 player, I then turned on my TV and watched Joe Rogan's podcast with Elon Musk until it was time to go to bed. Elon Musk is a very odd guy to listen to, but what he says can be very thought provoking. He's not so much concerned about artificial intelligence becoming a threat where robots try to take over the world. He's more concerned about humans using artificial intelligence to fight one another. Hmm. Yes, that is scary and a lot more likely to happen in the foreseeable future.
And it is now lunch time, so that is my comment for this Sunday morning.
|Comments for Friday, May 1, 2020,
thru Saturday, May 9, 2020:
May 8, 2020 - While doing some research yesterday, I stumbled across an article about this picture:
The article is about the colors you see. The article says,
Left-brained people (those who are more logical, since the regions of the brain that handle language, analytical thinking, and number are on the left side) see grey and teal [green], while right-brained people (those who are more creative, since the regions of the brain that handle expression, emotional intelligence, and imagination are on the right side) see white and pink.In spite of what the above quote says, the article actually argues against the idea that what colors you see has to do with which side of your brain is doing the interpreting.
It's a fun theory to think about—that you may use one side more than another, and it influences your personality—but brain dominance is ultimately a pop psychology myth.And that article cites another article that also suggests it isn't necessarily so:
So does one side of the brain control specific functions? Are people either left-brained or right-brained? Like many popular psychology myths, this one grew out of observations of the human brain that were then dramatically distorted and exaggerated.Perhaps the observations have been "distorted and exaggerated, but that does not mean that there isn't some truth to them. And the more you dig into it, the more interesting it becomes. I found a test that can be performed to see which side of your brain is dominant. Click HERE for the YouTube video. It's interesting because, in addition to how you see colors, which side of your brain is dominant also determines such things as how you cross your legs, how you clap your hands, how you lace your fingers, and how you turn around. The key test as I see it, however, is one where you extend your arm out and hold up a finger, aligning the finger with some object in the distance, like a book on a shelf or the side of a door. Then you close your left eye. Does the finger remain aligned? Then try the same test with your right eye. Does the finger remain aligned?
When I close my left eye, my finger remains aligned. When I close my right eye, my finger seems to jump to the right and is totally unaligned. That says I am a left-brain guy. Most of the other tests say the same thing, although they are less certain because when you think about it, you don't always do things the same way as when you do them without thinking.
Of course, I then had to search through the Internet for pictures of Donald Trump with his hand folded, his arms folded, clapping and sitting with his legs crossed. Nearly all such pictures (say 90%) show that Trump's right brain is dominant. An example:
May 6, 2020 - Hmm. I posted an abbreviated version of the comment I wrote here yesterday to the sci.physics.relativity discussion forum and it generated some reactions, even though my post wasn't addressed to anyone specifically. The first response was via my web site log file. This morning there were 4 or 5 copies of each of the following entries in the log:
184.108.40.206 - - [05/May/2020:18:08:15 -0500] "GET /And_this_is_why_you_are_incredibly_STUPID HTTP/1.1" 404 - "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 10.0; rv:68.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/68.0"Of course, in my post I wrote absolutely nothing about anything being "proven." The entire comment was about thought experiments, not lab experiments. I discussed the logic behind what Einstein and Feynman wrote.
Later, when I looked at the thread on sci.physics.relativity, I found 3 more messages there. The first was from "Odd Bodkin" simply complaining that, because he is at the top of my "Do Not Reply" list, I responded to his post with a general post to everyone, instead of replying directly to him. He merely wrote:
LOL.I'll just assume that means he can't think of any counter-argument to what I wrote.
The second post was from "Ufonaut" who wrote:
So Space Ship guy always measures the speed of light pulses passing him to be c. Great, we agree. So what if we simply replace "space ship guy" by "detector on car", what speed would that detector record as the speed of light hitting it ?I'll respond to that comment as soon as I finish writing this comment. It's the experiment I want to do with a "Type-1" radar gun. It really doesn't have anything to do with the Feynman/Einstein thought experiment. It's about measuring vehicle speeds relative to the speed of light. The thought experiment was only about measuring the speed of light.
The third post was from someone else who asked about things related to measuring vehicle speeds relative to the speed of light.
I had planned to get into that subject in yesterday's comment, but it took me nearly all day to write what I wrote about the speed of light, and I couldn't figure out how to segue into the topic of measuring the speed of objects relative to the speed of light. It occurred to me that writing about the two topics together might be worthy of a scientific paper. I'll have to think about that.
May 5, 2020 - A couple days ago, as I was browsing through podcasts, I came across a podcast that had a link to a pdf copy of a 1955 article by physicist Richard Feynman that I couldn't recall seeing before. A search through the 1,646 science papers and books I have in my files showed that I had never saved a copy. So, I saved it. Unfortunately, it was not in a format that can be used to copy and paste - or to search for words. So, I looked for a searchable copy and found one. I saved that copy, too. It even had a 1988 comment by Feynman that was added at the top of the original article. And the original version had a subtitle that wasn't on the searchable version. The paper is titled "The Value of Science" and the subtitle is "Of all its many values, the greatest must be the freedom to doubt."
Wow! What a terrific article! And it's only 2 pages long! I'm going to have to create a 3rd copy of it, a copy where can make notes and I highlight quotes in different colors. For example, here's a good quote:
When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty darn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt. We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty - some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain.That certainly hits home when I argue with the folks on the sci.physics.relativity forum. They have NO doubts about anything. And they attack anyone who disagrees with them. To them, if you have doubts, that means you are ignorant.
Finding and reading that article made me wonder what Richard Feynman had to say about time dilation. At some time in the past, I'd undoubtedly read what he had to say, but I couldn't specifically recall how what he had to say compares to what Albert Einstein said and wrote. I searched through Feynman's book "QED" but couldn't find anything related to time dilation. Then I searched through "Six Not So Easy Pieces." I found this at the bottom of page 77 and into page 78:
To continue our discussion of the Lorentz transformation and relativistic effects, we consider a famous so-called paradox of Peter and Paul, who are supposed to be twins, born at the same time. When they are old enough to drive a spaceship, Paul flies away at very high speed. Because Peter, who is left on the ground, sees Paul going so fast, all of Paul’s clocks appear to go slower, his heartbeats go slower, his thoughts go slower, everything goes slower, from Peter’s point of view. Of course, Paul notices nothing unusual, but if he travels around and about for a while and then comes back, he will be younger than Peter, the man on the ground! That is actually right; it is one of the consequences of the theory of relativity which has been clearly demonstrated.There is plenty in that quote that the mathematicians on sci.physics.relativity would disagree with, but it's not a good quote for starting an argument.
I then found this on pages 85 and 86 of my hardcover copy of Richard Feynman's book "The Character of Physical Law":
One of the consequences of the laws of electricity was thatA version of that "thought experiment" is also on pages 3 through 6 in "The Principle Ideas of the Theory of Relativity, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (Volume 7), The Berlin Years: Writings 1918-1921." I reference it and described the thought experiment on pages 9 and 10 of my paper "Simplifying Einstein's Thought Experiments."
I decided it might be worth mentioning on the sci.physics.relativity forum, so I did so, adding it to the thread I'd created about science podcasts. This morning there was a response from "Odd Bodkin," one of the first members to make it onto my "Do Not Reply" list. He inserted this comment between the first and second paragraphs of the Feynman quote:
I think it’s a riot that you seized on something in the paragraph below and completely missed the key point in the paragraph above, namely that the light does not go past you at 86,000 miles per second, no matter what makes sense to you.
It's hard to say exactly what point he's trying to make, but the light does go past space-ship-guy at 86,000 miles PER SECOND as GROUND-guy would measure it. However, space-ship-guy measures it going past at 186,000 miles PER SECOND because his clock is ticking slower and therefore more miles pass in one second. That also means that when space-ship-guy measures the speed of light on his ship, he is using longer seconds to measure the number of miles traveled. So, on his ship, he also measures the speed of light as 186,000 miles per HIS SECOND.
Unfortunately, Prof. Feynman created a bit of confusion with his wording of the last sentence in his first paragraph:
But it turns out that if you do this experiment it looks to you as if it is going at 186,000 miles a second past you, and to me as if it is going 186,000 miles a second past me!I would have phrased that differently. I would have written:
But it turns out that if you do this experiment, it will look to you as if the light is going past you at 186,000 miles per second, and to me it looked like I emitted the light at 186,000 miles per second.Either way, just as Prof. Feynman wrote in his first paragraph above, it looks to ground-guy like the photons are passing by the ship at only 86,000 miles per second. But on board the ship, where the seconds are longer but miles are of the same length, the space-ship-guy measures the photons as passing at 186,000 miles per second.
It's simple -- in a very complicated way.
May 4, 2020 - While eating lunch today, I finished reading another library book on my Kindle. The book was "A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America" by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.
Philip Rucker is the Washington Post's White House bureau chief, and Carol Leonnig is a Washington Post investigative reporter.
While it was definitely an excellent book, I think it might be the last book I will read about Trump, even though I have several others in the queue. I feel I know all about Trump that I want to know. Some key passages from early in the book explain what I mean. This passage is from page 4:
Trump’s ego prevented him from making sound, well-informed judgments. He stepped into the presidency so certain that his knowledge was the most complete and his facts supreme that he turned away the expertise of career professionals upon whom previous presidents had relied. This amounted to a wholesale rejection of America’s model of governing, which some of his advisers concluded was born of a deep insecurity. “Instead of his pride being built on making a good decision, it’s built on knowing the right answer from the onset,” a senior administration official said.and this is from page 7:
“He is a transgressive personality, so he likes to attack and destroy and unsettle people,” [Peter] Wehner said. “If he sees an institution that he thinks is not doing his bidding, not protecting him like he wants or is a threat to him, he’ll go after it. The intelligence community because they didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. The Justice Department because it wasn’t doing what he wanted to do. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization because he doesn’t think they pay enough. . . . The press is ‘the enemy of the people.’ So he doesn’t have any regard for institutions, the role they play, why they’re important, and he delights in tearing them down.”The book is all about Trump's moronic treatment of America's friends, his admiration of dictators and despots, his fanatical obsession with building building a wall along our border with Mexico, and his moronic breaking of laws when he tried to manipulate the Ukraine to do his personal bidding.
Here's an interesting passage from near the end of the book:
When Alexander Hamilton wrote the two essays in The Federalist devoted to the idea of impeachment, Trump was the kind of president he had in mind—a populist demagogue who would foment frenzy, pander to prejudices, feed off chaos, and secretly betray the American people in the accumulation of power—according to Hamilton’s biographer Ron Chernow. Two hundred thirty-two years after Hamilton put pen to paper, Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine forced a reckoning. Would the system the Founding Fathers imagined withstand the pressures of this moment? Or would Trump prevail yet again, another pursuit of justice stymied by his sheer political force and the fealty of his followers?The book ends in mid-2019, just as Trump is about to get impeached. The picture you get is that Trump has the temperament and attention span of a spoiled 5-year-old. That is something I've read and heard many times before. Yet, there is still a chance that he might be re-elected. Even his endless bungling of the coronavirus pandemic won't change that. He's got all the bigots and closed-minded people on his side, and they might be a majority. Hopefully not, but elections aren't about how people feel, its about how people who vote feel.
May 3, 2020 - Yesterday, I tried to get a head-start on writing this Sunday morning comment, but, when I couldn't think of what to write about, I'd just start searching the Internet for science podcasts. I didn't have time to listen to any of the podcasts I found, of course, so I just browsed through what they had available and then I'd download a sampling of what appeared to be their most interesting podcasts (mostly based upon titles).
I found Science Talk, which is presented by Scientific American magazine, and I downloaded 9 podcasts on various scientific subjects. I found "Astronomy Cast," which is about astronomy, so I downloaded 5 episodes, including ones about Time and "Everyday Relativity." I found "Science Rules!" which is Bill Nye's podcast, and I downloaded 5 episodes. I found a podcast called "The Science of Everything" and I downloaded 15 episodes. I found "Tech Stuff," which is mostly about computers, and I downloaded 4 podcasts, including ones about the history of podcasting and Wikipedia. And I found "You are not so smart," which looked like it might be about science, and I downloaded 3 episodes which seem to be about how some people are totally closed-minded when it comes to science.
And, of course, I already had 70 episodes of "The Infinite Monkey Cage," which is Physicist Brian Cox's podcast, and I've only had time to listen to 9 of them. I listened to 3 of them last night. One was on Space Exploration, and the featured guest was Patrick Stewart from "Star Trek: The Next Generation." I made one note, which was a quote from when they were talking about how many people still believe the moon landings were faked:
The difference in cost between doing the moon landing and faking the moon landing is the cost of catering.That's basically been my argument, too. I usually argued that, since there were countless photos and hours and hours of videos, it would cost more to fake the moon landings than to actually do them.
Another episode that I listened to was titled "An Infinite Monkey's Guide to General Relativity," and it was mostly about how General Relativity is still the main theory of astronomy. But, somewhere in the podcast, Professor Sean Carroll appears and talks about how Quantum Mechanics is more important than Relativity.
The main reason I haven't had time to listen to more of those podcasts is because I've been listening to Marc Maron's podcasts where Maron mostly interviews comedians and actors, and I've been watching Joe Rogan's podcasts where Rogan interviews scientists and comedians and others in shows that go on for 2 to 3 hours. Rogan has done 1,468 podcasts (more than 10 times the number of "Infinite Monkey Cage podcasts). Maron has done 1,119 podcasts.
On April 29, I posted a comment to the sci.physics.relativity discussion forum about Brian Cox's statements to Joe Rogan on how time dilation works, since Cox's statements directly conflict with what the people there believe. I expected to get some argument attacking Professor Cox or claiming Cox didn't really mean what he said. Instead, I got nothing. So, yesterday I posted another comment where I quoted Sean Carroll on Rogan's podcast saying, "In Quantum Mechanics, what we perceive is different from what it really is," and similar screwball things about Quantum Mechanics. This morning I see I got one response that says,
You DO know that Joe Rogan is a comedian, right? He may know more physics than you do, Ed, but then, I've got a mud fence in the back yard that knows more physics than you do... and that's a fact...That's a typical response. On that forum they endlessly claim that clocks always tick at the same rate, so when a science magazine article says that clocks tick at different rates at different altitudes and at different speeds, the writers of the articles are LYING, because ordinary people are just too dumb to understand physics. The Joe Rogan episode with Brian Cox had Cox explaining to Rogan how clocks tick at different rates when traveling at different speeds. So, I asked if they believe that Professor Cox was lying to Rogan, and, if so, why? Instead of answering my question, they did what they nearly always do: they launched a personal attack and changed the subject. What is their actual argument? That physicists always lie to comedians? Why? To get laughs?
I'm amazed at how popular podcasts are, yet it seems that the average person doesn't even know what the term means, much less listens to them. When I talk with them, they look at me blankly, seemingly wondering why anyone would want to listen to something that is just like listening to a radio. Who listens to the radio in this day and age -- unless they are in their car and are listening to music? I know that people listen to music in their cars, because you can sometimes hear the music throbbing from a block away.
I listen to audio books in my car. And during the pandemic I rarely drive, so it's taking me a long long time to get through "Pandora's Lab."
May 1, 2020 - This morning, someone sent me a link to a very interesting article titled "Pandemic Science Out of Control." It's about the COVID-19 pandemic, of course and it's from Arizona State University's web site "Issues in Science and Technology." Here are the first two paragraphs from the article (with my highlighting in bold):
On September 14, 1918, in the midst of the worst pandemic in modern history, an article in the New York Times quoted Dr. Rupert Blue, then surgeon general of the US Public Health Service. Blue reported that doctors in many countries were treating their influenza patients with digitalis and the antimalaria drug quinine. There was no evidence that the two drugs were any more effective than folk remedies being used by patients, including cinnamon, goose grease poultices, and salt stuffed up the nose, but doctors were desperate and willing to try just about anything. They would eventually abandon quinine and digitalis as treatments for flu when studies showed they were not only ineffective but caused serious and sometimes deadly side effects.Hmm. So, we have humans acting like humans once again. If they don't know the answer, they guess. They cannot just wait for the scientific process to come up with an official solution, so, if they have no cure, they experiment. And they not only perform their improvised experiments in an unscientific way, they report their incomplete findings as if they had fully solved the problem.
It all comes back to the issue I mentioned several times before: Right brain thinking vs left brain thinking. Some people think mostly emotionally, while others think mostly logically. Those who think mostly emotionally will easily panic and try anything and everything, because they cannot wait for the logical and official processes to resolve the issue. And they have no patience for things that are not absolute: If it is not a 100% perfect solution, what good is it?
The issue that really puzzled me was the mask issue. Is there any way that wearing a mask can do more harm than good? I don't think so. So, why didn't they just recommend that everyone wear a mask? They seemed to say that they didn't recommend it because it would cause panic-buying of masks and the professionals who really need them wouldn't be able to get any. But, I think it may also have been because it might be interpreted as a "perfect solution," which would mean that social distancing wasn't needed as long as everyone wears a mask.
I keep waiting for someone to just explain things logically and simply:
1. If we wear masks and practice social distancing, that makes it much more difficult for the disease to spread.Easy peasy -- except for when step-1 becomes matter of Sam's job versus Pete's life. Then we see that many humans tend to act emotionally, not logically.