Archive for
November 2023

Comments for Sunday, November 26, 2023, thru Thur., Nov. 30, 2023:

November 26, 2023 - I'm still spending a lot of time nearly every day listening to podcasts.  And it appears that a lot of other people are doing the same thing.  Lately, the hosts on late night talk shows have been talking about podcasts quite a bit.  And when they do, they generally talk about podcasts I've never heard of, so I may have to check them out.  It appears that most late night TV talk shows are also put out as podcasts.

Unlike nearly everyone else in the world, I don't listen to podcasts directly from some web site, I download the podcasts into an MP3 player and then listen to the podcasts on a speaker.  I download hundreds of podcasts per session, filling up the MP3 player, and then I listen to the podcasts until I've heard them all.  Then I download a new batch.  I think it takes over a week to get through a typical downloaded batch.

Yesterday, I listened to a very interesting episode of the "Why This Universe?" podcast.  The episode is titled "Life Beyond Earth (Ft. Avi Loeb and Garrett Graff at the Chicago Humanities Festival)."

Among other interesting topics, they discussed the 'Oumuamua interstellar object which was first spotted on October 19, 2017, as it was heading away from the sun, about 40 days after it passed at it closest point to the sun.  Here's a picture of what it is believed to look like:


Its angle and its speed indicated it was an object from outside our solar system.  Some observations found it to be shaped like a cigar, as seen in the image above.  Other observations indicated that it was flat, like pancake, and shiny on one side.  It was definitely unlike any other object ever observed in space.  Some speculated that it was a piece of flat metal from a super-civilization that had the capability to enclose its sun in a sphere of photo-electric cells that allowed that civilization to capture and utilize ALL of its sun's energy.    

Most of the episode was about arguments about astronomy and how many astronomers argue opinions against opinions, while the best course toward understanding is just to examine the known facts.  You can speculate on what the facts mean, but you shouldn't argue opinions against opinions.

It was a truly interesting episode.

Comments for Sunday, November 19, 2023, thru Sat., Nov. 25, 2023:

November 23, 2023 - I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving!

November 19, 2023
- Every morning I go through a list of 87 different podcasts to see if they have anything interesting for me to download.  While some podcasts only produce new episodes once per week, others produce as many as five a week.

I enjoy learning new things about science, technology and politics.  Listening to podcasts is similar to watching the Science Channel or the National Geographic Channel on TV.  The main difference is that the TV shows are all 1 hour in length, while podcasts range in length from 5 minutes to 3½ hours.

The problem is: Not every podcast episode contains something new and interesting.  I download the episodes that look like they might be interesting, and when I go through them I may turn some of them off after just a few minutes because they turned out to be uninteresting.   

My full list of podcasts consists of 175 different shows.  #1 to #49 are my favorites, #50 to #87 are okay, and #88 to #175 are no good, I just keep them on the list so that I know I've already checked them out and found them to be no good. 

What I need to do is keep better track of things.  Instead of just trying to remember what I liked and didn't like, I need to make notes about which podcast episodes I liked and don't like.  For example, yesterday I listened to several episodes of Business Wars Daily.  I listened to episodes about cryptocurrency, the merger of some theme parks, and how fried mushrooms might replace potato chips as a top snack.  The episodes were all surprisingly interesting.  So was an episode of Curiosity Daily about how buildings might soon have the ability to change colors.  White buildings reflect sunlight, reducing the need for air conditioning, and dark buildings absorb sunlight, reducing the need for furnaces.  Here's the blurb for another interesting episode I listened to:

Today, you’ll learn about a new way to turn saltwater into drinking water, research that suggests stuffing your bad feelings deep down might actually be a good thing, and an amazing 500,000 year old discovery in Tanzania.
Neither Business Wars nor Curiosity Daily are on my favorites list.  They're on the "Okay" list.  I think I may need to take notes while listening to podcasts in order to keep better track of which podcasts are truly my favorites.

Comments for Sunday, November 12, 2023, thru Sat., Nov. 18, 2023:

November 17, 2023 - For the past few days I've been in an argument with someone named David Thomson on my Time and Time Dilation Facebook page.  It's been a long time since I last argued about Time Dilation, but Thomson doesn't believe in it.  Here's his basic argument:
Without proof of physical matter existing in time frames other than the present moment, there is no evidence to support a physical linear timeline.
Physical matter doesn't exist in different time frames.  It's all here and now in "the present moment."  Physical matter just ages at different rates depending upon its altitude and speed.

I've been trying to explain that in various ways, but he cannot accept the idea that time can tick at different rates in the "present moment."  The "present moment" is HIS view of time, which has nothing to do with how time passes for everything else in the universe. 

November 13, 2023
- Yesterday I spent $179 on a new radio that also includes a record player and a CD player.  So, for the first time in about 20 years, I was able to play and listen to some of my vinyl LP records.  I listened to records by Cher, Barbara Streisand and The Modern Jazz Quartet.  They're still great records from great artists.

In the picture below, the new radio/record player is in the upper left corner next to the Brook Benton album.   My collection of 84 pop music albums is on the floor propped against the cabinet door.  I also have a collection of classical music records that is inside the cabinet.

My new record player
Now I need to decide if, when I finish writing this comment, I should listen to podcasts or to some more records.  I think I'll listen to some records.  Listening to music while also trying to listen to a podcast will probably turn the music into noise.

November 12, 2023
- A couple days ago, my office stereo system stopped working.  It simply wore out.  Here's a picture I took years ago, showing the tuner/amplifier next to the tape player.  The tuner/amplifier simply stopped working.  And without it, the tape player was useless.  The two huge speakers on the other side of the room are useless, too.

                        stereo system

You can see part of my tape collection on the shelf below the player.  There's another shelf of tapes under that one.  Nearly all of the 210 tapes are recordings I made from radio jazz broadcasts years ago.

Atop the stereo is an MP3 player that contains copies of all of my tapes plus a Bluetooth speaker that replaces the stereo speakers.  When I took the photo, I thought the MP3 player would eventually replace the big stereo system.  It never did.  There were problems with both.  

The main problem with the stereo system is that everything is connected by wires.  And no modern equipment uses wires or the same connectors.

I think it's illegal to toss this kind of electronic equipment into a trash bin, so, I hauled the stereo, the tape player, a record player (not shown) and the two huge speakers to an electronics store nearby that accepts old electronic equipment.  And I moved my front-room stereo system into my office to replace the equipment I had given away.  I'm listening to the CD player as I'm typing these words.

However, I now have no stereo system in my front room, and a big empty shelf where the moved equipment was located.  I don't really need a second stereo system.  What I need is a record player for my collection of vinyl records.  The player I used decades ago cannot connect to anything I now have.  That's why I gave it away, too.

So, I'm pondering whether I should buy the $140 or the $170 dollar vinyl record system they have for sale at Target.  I haven't listened to any of my vinyl records in 20 years or more.  I'm looking forward to it.

And it gave me something to write about as my Sunday comment.

Comments for Sunday, November 5, 2023, thru Sat., Nov. 11, 2023:

November 8, 2023 - Yesterday, I finished reading very interesting book titled "The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel."

The Mysterious Case of Rudolf

Rudolf Diesel was the inventor of the diesel engine.  He mysteriously vanished on September 29, 1913, while traveling on the steamship Dresden from Belgium to England.  At the time, he was one of the most famous men in the world, on par with Thomas Edison, who was a friend of Diesel's.  But Diesel also had powerful enemies, such as Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Standard Oil and the richest man in the world.

Prior to reading this book, I really hadn't thought much about how the diesel engine changed the world.  Virtually all ocean going vessels are now powered by diesel engines, instead of steam engines, and so are most railroad and truck engines.  A diesel engine is vastly more efficient than steam engines and require less fuel per mile than gasoline engines.  It was also the only engine that was used in submarines prior to the invention of the nuclear engine.

In 1913, Germany had more submarines than any other nation in the world, and they were preparing to take over Europe.  World War 1 would begin in 1914.  When Diesel disappeared from the Dresden, he left his coat and some personal belongings on the deck.  There's some thinking that his death may have been a staged hoax to keep Germany from trying to hunt him down and kill him, but Diesel was never seen again.

It's a very interesting book, and I highly recommend it.

November 5, 2023
- Yesterday's comment reminded me of something else that mathematicians seem wrong about: The point of the Big Bang.

Mathematicians seem in unanimous agreement that the Big Bang began at a point of "infinite density."  If all the matter in the expanding universe is traced back to its point of origin, that point must have been an actual point.  And if it was a "point," that point must have been of infinite density, because a point has no dimensions.  A point can have no width, because it would then be a spot or sphere of some diameter. 

Because I am not a mathematician, I can easily imagine a point with no dimensions, it's simply a location where two lines intersect,  But I cannot imagine a point that contains matter and still has no dimensions.  Therefore, when the subject of the originating point for the Big Bang comes up, I envision a sphere of incredible density (but NOT of infinite density) which has been compressed (by gravity) to the point where its components can no longer withstand the gravitational forces that are being applied to it.  So, it explodes.  And we have a Big Bang.

This model of the universe also implies that the expanding universe will eventually stop expanding due to the forces of gravity, and it will collapse via "The Big Crunch" back into a new sphere of incredible density, which will again explode in a new Big Bang.  It's called the Oscillating Universes Theory.  Einstein first proposed the idea in the 1920s, and there are many different versions of it, but none is fully accepted.  That doesn't mean it is invalid, it just means it hasn't been proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

Maybe someday it will be, but until then I view it as the best theory for explaining how the universe works. 

Comments for Wednesday, November 1, 2023, thru Sat., Nov. 4, 2023:

November 4, 2023 - A couple days ago, I listened to the latest episode of my favorite podcast "The Infinite Monkey Cage."  The episode is titled "The Infinite Monkey Cage's Guide to Infinity."  This morning I listened to it again, because there were things said in the episode that just didn't seem right to me.  And then I listened to it a third time.  (The episode is only 18 minutes long.)  And I wrote down some interesting quotes:
Our brains are big enough to fit in the simple symbol for infinity, but when it comes to the actually contemplating the infinite infinitynessness of infinity, then we do start to get into a little bit of cosmological vertigo.

Infinity is a word that belongs to the wordy people, not to the numbery people. 

You cannot place a numerical value on infinity, therefore you cannot have infinity plus 1.
What those three quotes seem to me to be saying is that mathematicians cannot cope with infinity.  A non-mathematician, like myself, has no problem with the idea that our universe is expanding into an infinite universe.  Here's an image I created years ago:


The universe beyond the Big Bang Universe must be infinite.  If it wasn't infinite, how would it end ... with a wall of such gigantic size that it should be visible across the universe?  If we cannot see the wall because it is black and does not produce light, what would be beyond that wall?

An infinite universe is perfectly logical and fits all known facts.  It's also quite possible that there are countless other Big Bang universes out there, expanding and then collapsing due to gravity, and then a new Big Bang causes it to expand again. 
It's just sad that mathematicians cannot cope with such a thing.  

November 1, 2023 - I'm still struggling to find something to write about on this web site.  There is a lot going on, particularly with all the trials the Trumps will be attending, and the testimony that they will be giving.  It should be interesting to see Donald Trump on a witness stand.  Can he say anything without lying about something?  Time will tell. 

© 2023 by Ed Lake