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Neil Rieck
Kitchener - Waterloo - Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.
Hi-tech Community of Laptops and Lederhosen (Leather Pants)
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Current Items of Interest
  1. Nuclear Fusion
    1. Fusion research is typically done in one of two designs: tokamak (easy to build; hard to control) or stellarator (harder to build; easier to control)
    2. First proposed by Lyman Spitzer in 1950, the stellarator was simulate conditions found in stars.
    3. German universities began work in the mid 1980s on a device named the Wendelstein 7-AS (advanced stellarator)
    4. Advances in computer technology in the early 2000s allowed them to develop computer models of how the plasma should flow. This allowed them to tune their design further until they began building the Wendelstein 7-X in 2005 which concluded in 2014
    5. recent news:
  2. quote: “Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else.”
    Albert Einstein
  3. quote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    comment: people unable to do this will be overwhelmed by cognitive dissonance to dream up a cockamamie alternative
  4. Andrew Dressler (Texas A&M) on Satellite Temperature Measurement Errors
    Is it really a matter of "models vs. data" as some claim, or is is more an example of "models vs. models" because raw satellite data must first be run through a model-derived algorithm in order to infer the temperature.
    Now read this: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Satellite-record-vs-thermometers.htm
    Then this: http://www.remss.com/research/climate
  5. While recently reading a book about Erwin Schrödinger I stumbled across this paragraph about the German philosopher Schopenhauer which (I thought) helps to explain the actions of modern-day ideologues (both political and religious).
    In The World as Will and Representation and other works, Schopenhauer offered an explanation for the driving force of emotions that can lead to calamity. Drawing from the Hindu notion of karma and the Buddhist concept of suffering, he described how "will" is a universal force that compels people to carry out tasks. It is the desire that generates the action that brings out the inevitable. Just like other natural forces, it leads to predictable outcomes. However, the agents experiencing such compulsion fully believe it is their own volition producing the results. Neurotically, they can become immersed in their own longings, constantly unfilled, because whenever a goal is reached, a new desire bubbles up.

    NSR Comment: if new desires were acted upon, this would be and example of an unattenuated positive feedback loop. Could this be the source of violence associated with political and religious extremism?
  6. With all due respect to the well minded people involved in COP21, I do not believe it is possible to get governments of capitalistic economies to ratify any international agreement to make carbon more expensive. Why? There is too large an incentive to cheat, and too much of a political lobby to retain the status quo. Most technical people have heard the old adage "if you can't raise the bridge then try lowering the river". Applying this to humanity's current dilemma means we need an international agreement to eliminate all government subsidies on carbon. At the same time the G20 or G7 (at the very least) should agree to subsidize the development of renewable energy technology. Someday soon the price of renewable energy would be lower than the price of carbon which (from a capitalistic perspective) means this problem would take care of itself.
  7. First a little Star Wars movie history. The first three movies (SW1-3 :: 1977-1983) are about episodes 4-6. The second three movies (SW4-SW6 :: 1999-2005) are about episodes 1-3. Got that? In my world sci-fi fans are split down the middle: some prefer the first three movies while others prefer the second three. There is no right or wrong here it's just a matter of preference (eg. some people hate Jar Jar Binks while others hate the Ewoks; some loved watching Yoda training Luke on Dagobah while others preferred the martial arts of Darth Maul; some thought the first three were targeted at kids while others thought the politics of the second three made them more appropriate for adults). SW7 (2015) follows the story SW1 (1977) and was co-written with Lawrence Kasdan (also co-wrote SW2 + SW3) so I suspect that half the audience will love it while the other half may only like it. May your Midi-chlorian count grow!

    Okay so I just saw the film in 3D and can tell you all that SW7 is better than the first three and at least on par with the second three.
  8. Facts, Theory, Hypothesis, Law: Explained!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqk3TKuGNBA
    1. Facts are observations
      • the Sun rises in the morning then sets in the evening
    2. Hypothesis is a proposed explanation
      1. the Sun moves around the Earth (jump to step 3a)
      2. the Earth moves around the Sun (jump to step 3b)
    3. Theory is a tested Hypothesis
      1. test of hypothesis 2a...
        • passes (until the era of precision measurements) so jump to step 4 to build models (mathematical, mechanical, computer-based)
        • fails during the era of precision measurements (Tycho Brahe) so go back to step 2 to develop hypothesis 2b
      2. test of hypothesis 2b passes (we have a theoretical understanding of the issue) so jump to step 4
    4. Law is a detailed mathematical description
      • develop a model to test the hypothesis with greater precision (early physical models were machines; modern models employ computers)
      • a successful theory produces yet-unobserved predictions (eg. Atomic Theory, Theory of Gravitation)
      • improved observations (new facts) through newer instrumentation may force us back to step 2 (eg. General Relativity)
  9. The latest issue of Skeptic Magazine ( http://www.skeptic.com/magazine/archives/20.3/ ) contains a story about a contest Alfred Russel Wallace entered in 1870 to prove the Earth was round. (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Russel_Wallace#Flat_Earth_wager for a less detailed version of the story)

    Every citizen today should read this story paying special attention to the reactions of his opponent, John Hampden, who believed data from Wallace’s experiment proved the Earth was flat. Wallace was declared the winner and so won 500 pounds but lost it all in court costs when Hampden would not stop personal attacks while refusing to acknowledge the evidence. Why would the courts allow this? Remember that this occurred in Victorian England at a time where many respectable people were séance-attending spiritualists. I find it difficult to understand that this could happen in the country of Newton approximately 150 years after his death.

    The point I am trying to make is this: today’s climate change deniers claim to be on the side of Galileo but they are really Flat Earthers
  10. Canada sees reason - time for others to follow
  11. Proof of Climate Change (without conspiracy theories about "urban island heat effects", or "UAH datasets", or "Climategate Emails")

    More than 200 years ago at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, scientific explorers like Alexander Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland (to only name two of many) made detailed observations of flora and fauna throughout the world. It was Humboldt who first noticed biological similarities between "increases in latitude" and "increases in elevation" which now goes by the name Elevational Diversity Gradient.
    Description: As you move up the side of any sufficiently high mountain you will encounter biological changes previously thought possible only by moving closer to either planetary pole. You will first encounter tree lines, then shrubs, then mosses and lichens, then snow lines.
    So it should be no surprise that all these lines in all locations have moved higher in the past 200 years. Here is one recent publication of many:

    Upslope migration of tropical plants due to climate change
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150914215603.htm - quote: The plants on the highest mountain in Ecuador have migrated more than 500 meters (1640 feet) higher during the last two centuries. This is determined in a new study, in which researchers compared Humboldt's data from 1802 with current conditions.

    1. So you don't trust the observations of a dozen similarly minded scientific explorers from 200 years ago? It seems that drawings, paintings, then finally photography (decades later) by tens of thousands of observers around the world recorded similar lines. All you need to do is to compare what was recorded back then with what you see now.
    2. While the Industrial Revolution brought countless benefits to humanity, it was power by fossil fuels which released CO2. This was not a problem as long as humanity was planting as many trees as they burned (the original definition of "green energy"). But coal and oil are forms of carbon-based bio-accumulated solar energy collected over tens of millions of years but released in only 200 years.

    But it gets worse
    World-wide tide gauges from numerous sea-faring nations indicate that the rate of sea-level-rise from 1870 to 2004 was 1.7 mm per year (22.7 cm or 9 inches). Normally this would not be of limited concern except for this fact: the current rate of sea-level-rise is 3.4 mm as measured by satellites. A recent doubling is one reason why most people think the current round of global climate warming is both recent and man made (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level_rise ).

    Okay so what could we expect over the next 50 years?
    Answer: 3.4 mm x 50 y = 170 mm (17 cm or 6.7 in) and that assumes the rate-of-rise will hold steady at 3.4 mm per year
  12. A short video on Scientific Consensus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTJQPyTVtNA
  13. Science under Siege is a three part radio program aired on CBC Radio's Ideas with Paul Kennedy (this should be required learning for all citizens in the western world; it applies to Americans as well as Canadians). Here are the mp3 downloads: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/podcasts/documentaries/the-best-of-ideas/
    while science does not appear to be under siege in mother Britain, the story is much different out in the colonies (America, Canada, and Australia). While I am not certain of the reasons, this chart may shed some light on the situation
  14. What are the  Blue Zones  ?
  15. I have recently been surprised by the quality of fan-created Star Trek episodes (alphabetically):
    • Star Trek Axanar (prelude is available now; the full movie will be available late 2015 or early 2016)
    • Star Trek Continues
    • Star Trek New Voyages
    • Star Trek Renegades
  16. Science is an endless search for truth. Any representation of reality we develop can be only partial. There is no finality, sometimes no single best representation. There is only deeper understanding, more revealing and enveloping representations. Scientific advance, then, is a succession of newer representations superseding older ones, either because an older one has run its course and is no longer a reliable guide for a field or because the newer one is more powerful, encompassing, and productive than its predecessor(s).
    Carl R. Woese
    source: http://mmbr.asm.org/content/68/2/173.full
  17.  Climate Change is all about Melting Ice:
    • By definition: "one calorie of heat is required to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius"
      • alternatively: one BTU is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit
    • Most secondary school students have forgotten that 80 calories of heat are required to melt one gram of ice without raising the temperature
    • So as long as there is ice to melt, rising environmental heat does not (directly) raise environmental temperature
    • But everything changes after the ice has melted (80 calories of heat will raise the temperature of one gram of water by 80 degrees)
  18. A.I. has been shifting from an "engineering discipline" ("expert systems" was their most visible practical success before IBM's Watson) to a "cognitive science" discipline for a while now. This shift has forced researchers to view the human mind from a different perspective. Recent observations separate the human mind into two abstractly labeled modules colloquially referred to as system-1 and system-2 (or S1 and S2). S1 is a high-speed parallel processor evolved for avoiding lions but also handles wrote intelligence (what is "2 plus 2" ?) while S2 is a serial processor which deals with higher level procedural intelligence (what is "19 x 21" ?).
    S2 requires a lot of energy and concentration (not something you want to be doing while being chased by a lion) so idles until activated by S1. In example #1 below, "S1 engages S2 but fails to pass accurate information to it". In examples 2-5, "S1 will answer incorrectly without ever engaging S2".
    1. algebra with fruitThis graphical algebra problem employs picture symbols rather than x and y. Calculate the answer.
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
    2. "All flowers need water. All roses need water. Therefore, all roses are flowers". Is this logically true?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
    3. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
    4. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)

    5. A patch of lily pads are found in a lake. Every day the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of it?
      (hover your mouse here to reveal the answer)
  19. Science is a way of thinking by Carl Sagan
    • www.sciencefriday.com/segment/12/27/2013/carl-sagan-science-is-a-way-of-thinking.html
    • www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iyFw8UF85A (clip - 2:33)
    • www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8HEwO-2L4w (full - 20:27)
    • Food for thought: I recently stumbled across this quote:
      "Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people." — Admiral Hyman G. Rickover
      which got me thinking about sectarian conflicts brewing throughout the world where just engaging in an open minded religion discussion can get you charged with apostasy then put to death. If Rickover's assertion is true then people who constantly refer to events or people "in their holy books" choose to be "not great minds"
    • It is a sad fact that the funding of the National Science Foundation is ten times smaller than the tax breaks given to religion in the USA
  20. CO2 moleculeAt first glance it seems impossible that one U.S. gallon (3.8 L) of gasoline (C8H18), which weighs approximately 6 pounds (2.7 Kg), could produce 18 pounds (8.16 Kg) of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. However, most of the weight of the CO2 does not come from the gasoline itself, but the oxygen in the air. When gasoline burns, the carbon and hydrogen separate. The hydrogen combines with oxygen to form water vapor (H2O), and carbon combines with oxygen to form carbon dioxide (CO2). A carbon atom has an atomic weight of 12, and each oxygen atom has an atomic weight of 16, giving each single molecule of CO2 an atomic weight of 44 (12 from carbon and 32 from oxygen). It now appears that that Carbon Capture and Storage (CSS) technology will never be practical since the required amount of energy to compress-store this volume of gas would be too large. 
    • Burn Equation: 2 C8H18 + 25 O2 → 16 CO2 + 18 H2O (reference)
    • Atomic Masses from the Periodic Table:
      Element Mass
      Hydrogen   1
      Carbon 12
      Oxygen 16
    • Gasoline Mass Calculation
      • Total Gasoline mass (from the left-hand side of the equation):
        • 2 x ((C x 8) + (H x 18))
        • 2 x ((12 x 8) + (1 x 18))
        • 2 x (96 + 18)
        • 2 x 114 = 228
    • Carbon Dioxide Mass Calculation
      • Total Carbon Dioxide mass (from the right-hand side equation):
        • 16 x ((C x 1) + (O x 2))
        • 16 x ((12 x 1) + (16 x 2))
        • 16 x (12 + 32)
        • 16 x 44 = 704
      • Ratio: 704 / 228 = 3.09 (resultant CO2 is ~ 3 times heavier than gasoline)
    • Water Vapor Mass Calculation
      • Total Water Vapor mass (from the right-hand side equation):
        • 18 x ((H x 2) + (O x 1))
        • 18 x ((1 x 2) + (16 x 1))
        • 18 x (2 + 16)
        • 18 x 18 = 324
      • Ratio: 324 / 228 = 1.42 (resultant water vapor is ~ 1.4 times heavier than gasoline)
  21. Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677)
    A 17th century lens grinder known for his precision optical work. But it was his philosophy that made this Dutch-Jewish thinker famous, then and now. IDEAS host Paul Kennedy explores how Spinoza's thoughts on God, the universe, ethics and politics helped ignite the flame what became known as the Enlightenment.
    http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2013/08/02/spinoza-3/ - Audio: 53:59
  22. Enlightenment: Science in Sonnet Form

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQr9UE37GCs (a 90 second inspirational video)
    That knowledge, once a gem which few did see,
    in ignorant mystery lay neglected,
    'till hard won by thoughtful curiosity,
    and reasoned methodology perfected.

    Then, each new discovered jewel did catch the light,
    Illuminating treasures in cascade,
    and from each shinning fragment polished bright,
    a glittering crown of knowledge we have made.

    A crown for all to wear, that brings its bearer all;
    astronaut-astronomer, conqueror of disease,
    monarch of the quantum realm and more,
    tireless swimmer of genetic seas.

    Yet, after all these glories we have won,
    doubt not that still, the best is yet to come.
  23. chloroplastThe computed World Human Population Limit
    Simple math proves the current human population is already too large at 7.0 billion (other new numbers indicate an optimum number of 4.42 billion). Anything higher (humanity adds 1 billion every 12 years) is certainly out of the question. Why?

    Higher temperatures reduce the efficiency of photosynthesis resulting in a loss of agricultural productivity (biologists estimate a 10% drop for every degree increase). This is a shift in the direction of famine, disease (due to compromised immune systems), war (due to food and water shortages), and death. Since photosynthesis is required to replenish atmospheric O2 (oxygen), then we can expect O2 to drop as well. So I guess it should be no surprise that...

    Atmospheric oxygen levels have been dropping ever since measurements began in 1990. While CCS (carbon capture and storage) technologies promise to limit some CO2 releases, any burning of fuel will continue to consume atmospheric oxygen. So when calculating the optimum human population we also need to include the number of large internal combustion engines. (for now, just think about the number of ocean-going boats, jet airplanes, locomotive engines, and one billion functional automobiles). Now for one additional thought...

    Many people mistakenly believe higher CO2 levels "are good for plants" and "will trigger plant growth" (some people call CO2 the gas of life). First off, atmospheric CO2 levels have risen from 315 to 395 ppm (an increase of 25.3%) ever since direct annual measurement began in 1958 but humanity has not noticed any explosion of plant life to compensate for the increase (if we did, we might not have seen an increase in CO2 levels). Secondly, this schematic diagram of photosynthesis shows the first stage involves the photolysis of water by sunlight (this is the only place where oxygen is released to the atmosphere). This diagram is proof that sunlight (input 1) and H2O (input 2) are more important than CO2 (input 3) but each ingredient is considered a limiting factor to maximum photosynthetic productivity (it goes without saying that there is no release of oxygen on short days, cloudy days, or at night). The majority of plant life acquires water through roots rather than the atmosphere. Higher temperatures will evaporate a greater volume of water into the atmosphere making it bio-unavailable to plants. While more evaporation usually translates into more rain fall, higher temperatures will send it back into the atmosphere sooner.
  24. "Global Warming" is an observational fact. In this controversy, evidence falls into two categories: direct measurements (which started with the invention and distribution of inexpensive, yet accurate, thermometers in the mid 1860s) and proxy measurements. Proxy measurements require quite a bit of interpretation (because they cross many scientific disciplines -and- are spotty so do not necessarily represent world wide events) and so should only be left to the experts in the court of peer reviewed science. Direct measurements require very little interpretation provided you understand a very small amount of science. So here are observational facts from reputable science organizations:
    1. Average global temperatures have risen 0.8 C (1.44 F) degrees since measurements began in 1880
      Direct Measurement: http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2011/
      and: http://climate.nasa.gov
    2. CO2 levels have risen 27% since annual measurements began in 1958
      Direct Measurement: CO2 levels have risen from 315 ppm to 400 ppm
      Computed Rate of Increase: ((400-315) / (2015-1958)) = (85 / 57) = 1.5 ppm per year
    3. Oxygen levels have fallen 106 ppm since annual measurements began in 1990
      Direct Measurement: http://scrippso2.ucsd.edu/
      Measured Annual Rate of Decrease: 19 molecules "per meg of oxygen" (or 5.8 ppm of atmosphere per year)
      Current Total Decrease: (2011-1990) x 19 = 399 "per meg of oxygen" (or 106 ppm of atmosphere)
      http://ossfoundation.us/projects/environment/global-warming/the-keeling-curves ("O2 Curve" vs. "CO2 Curve")
      Comment: Since O2 production by the biosphere is not able to compensate for all the "unnatural" fossil fuel burning by humanity, it appears that the biosphere is slowly dying.
    4. Ocean levels have been rising at a rate of 1.7 mm per year between 1870 and 2004 for a total of 22.7 cm (9 in). However new satellite data has shown the new rate of increase to be 3.4 mm or double.
      Direct Measurements: This is primarily due to:
      • melting glaciers as well as polar ice which directly contributes directly to level rise
      • warmer water occupying a slightly larger volume (the rise will continue after all the ice is melted)
    My climate science resources can now be found here while my introduction to climate modeling can now be found here.
  25. Near Earth Objects (comets and asteroids) are a clear and present danger to all human culture as well as Earth's current biosphere.
    1. If dinosaurs had developed technology then they could have protected themselves from the asteroid strike associated with Chicxulub Crater on the coast of Yucatan, Mexico.
    2. Humanity has developed the necessary technology but political-ideological pressures have neutered NASA's ability to proceed beyond primitive NEO detection.
    3. Developing and implementing planetary protection technology just may be an evolutionarily survival prerequisite (so Tea Party thinking will doom us all). Think of this as a protective immune system for the whole planet.
    4. NASA NEO links
    5. Mark your calendars for February 15, 2013 when Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass under the orbit of Earth's geosynchronous satellites.
      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwidzVHvbGI (NASA video)
      • It is expected to pass over Indonesia at 14:30 EST
      • If it were to impact the Earth (but it will not), the estimated energy release would be 3.5 megatons tons of TNT (220 times bigger than the Little Boy bomb dropped on Japan at the end of WW2)
      While this rock is only 50 m (~150 ft) wide, remember that similarly sized rocks were responsible for:
      1. the 1908 Tunguska Event in Russia
      2. as well as Meteor Crater approximately 43 miles (69 km) east of Flagstaff, Arizona.
    6. Oops, on the morning of February 15, 2013 while we were waiting for the approach of 2012 DA14, an asteroid approximately 15m in size became an air-bursting meteor in an event now known as 2013 Russian meteor event. More than 1,200 people were injured by shock waves to buildings.
    7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceguard quote: Arthur C. Clarke coined the term in his novel Rendezvous with Rama where SPACEGUARD was the name of an early warning system created following a catastrophic asteroid impact.
    8. B612 Foundation (who are looking for private donations so they can launch their own NEO monitoring satellite)
    9. Near Earth Objects and Planetary Defense documentary videos
  26. An optimal CO2 level is required for complex life but too much may be as dangerous as too little.
    To see what I mean, consider the Wikipedia-sourced data in the following table (last column is derived from calculations):
    Object Temperature Distance
    from Sun
    Notes Mean
    2-d Area
    Min Mean Max
    100 K
    -46 C
    220 K

    390 K
    150 million ~ 10-7 Same distance from the Sun as Earth
    Atmosphere is very close zero
    Temperature extremes would kill all life
    1,737 9.48
    Earth -89 C
    184 K
    14 C
    287 K
    57 C
    331 K
    150 million 101 Same distance from the Sun as our moon
    Percentage of CO2: 0.039
    ~ 9% greater atmospheric pressure than Venus
    6,371 127.52
    Venus - 462 C
    735 K
    - 108 million 93 Hotter than Mercury while further from the sun
    Percentage of CO2: 95
    ~ 9% less atmospheric pressure than Earth
    6,051 115.03
    100 K
    67 C
    340 K

    700 K
    46 million
    70 million
    0 Cooler than Venus while closer to the sun
    No atmosphere to speak of
    2,439 18.69

    Initial Observations:

    • Comparing Venus to Mercury
      • Because Venus' atmosphere limits radiative loss, Venus (with an atmosphere) is hotter than Mercury (no atmosphere) even though Venus is almost twice as far from the sun as Mercury's average distance.
    • Comparing Earth to Moon
      • Because Earth's atmosphere limits radiative loss, Earth's mean temperature is 60 Celsius degrees higher relative to the Moon.
      • Because the Earth and Moon are the same distance from the sun (on average) we can ignore solar distance and directly compare solar energy and mean temperatures:
        • We start by calculating their apparent two-dimensional area (they appear as flat disks when viewed from the Sun) to determine how much solar energy is intercepted and can see that the Earth is intercepting ~ 13 times more solar energy than the moon.
        • But computing the surface area (4 x PI x r2) of both bodies reveals that Earth is ~ 13 times larger so everything cancels out (sort of).
        • The Moon rotates only once every 27.3 days so the sun side gets really hot (think of a very slow barbeque) while the dark side gets really cold.
        • If the moon rotated as fast as Earth (once a day) then the solar energy would be more evenly distributed across the whole surface.
        • If the moon had any real atmosphere it would act as a radiative buffer to "disperse/distribute inbound energy" while "retarding outbound energy loss"
        • Lack of a atmospheric buffering aside, temperature swings on the Moon are larger because the Moon only rotates once every 27.3 days

    We can see CO2 in action (as a warming blanket) by comparing Earth to Venus:

     0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000011111111111111111111111111 }
     0    1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    0    1    2    3    4    5 } - million km
     0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0    0 }
     |                        |                           |                     |
    Sun                    Mercury                      Venus                 Earth
                           50 M-km                    108 M-km              150 M-km
    • If we were being very simplistic then we would just compare the solar distances of Venus to Earth (notice that the first three planets are almost at one-third points from the sun). Since the ratio of 108/150 would indicate relative coolness, then the inverse ratio of 150/108 would indicate relative hotness; and that value is 1.39 (Venus should be 1.39 times hotter than Earth)
    • But anyone familiar with radiation knows that simple inverse ratios must be replaced with the inverse-square law. This calculation then becomes (1502 / 1082) = (22500 / 11664) = 1.93 (Venus should be 1.93 times hotter than Earth).
    • But this comparison is still a bit too simplistic since Venus is ~ 5% smaller than Earth so would intercept a little less solar radiation at the closer position. Here it makes sense to use the radius of the (almost) spherical body to compute the area of an apparent two-dimensional disk as viewed from the sun. Repeating our relative calculations using "squared distances" multiplied by "apparent areas" yields a slightly lower solar collection factor of 1.74 (Venus should be 1.74 times hotter than Earth).
    A B C D E F G H I J
    Planet Mean
    2-d Area
    (for solar
    M sq-km
    M km
    Dst Sq
    Relative Solar
    (E x H)
    Earth 287 K 1.000 6,371 127.5 150 22500 4.44e-5 0.0056673 1.0000
    Venus 735 K 2.606 6,051 115.0 108 11664 8.57e-5 0.0098618 1.7401
    • Even though Venus is ~ 5% smaller than Earth, being ~ 28% closer to the Sun results in Venus collecting 1.74 times more solar energy.
    • Comparisons:
      • If Venus had an atmosphere similar to Earth's then you would expect Venus' mean temperature to be 499 K (1.74 x 287) rather than 735 K which is 1.47 (735 / 499) times hotter than it should be. Since the atmospheric pressures are similar (Earth's is 9% greater but let's ignore that for a moment) the only conclusion we can make is that Venus' mostly CO2 atmosphere is the cause of higher temperatures. (note: if the atmospheric pressure of Venus were 9% greater, the resultant mean temperature would be a little higher due to Boyle's Law)
      • If Earth were 1.47 times hotter then our mean temperature would be 422 K (1.47 x 287) or 147 C which is too hot for complex life.
    • Caveats:
      • Remember that water boils at 373.1 K (100 C) and most complex forms of life cannot survive 323 K (50 C) which is only 1.13 (323 / 287) times warmer than now.
      • Earth's maximum surface temperature is already at 53 C which is already 3 C degrees too hot.
      • Earth cannot be allowed to warm any further, no no matter if the current levels are natural, man-made, or a combination of both.
  27. The guy in the office next to me is convinced that 398 ppm of CO2 is a tiny fraction of gas and is of no concern to life on Earth. Well, almost anyone with a basic knowledge of biology already knows that placing a plastic bag over the head will cause problems (headaches) due to a slightly elevated CO2 level long before the O2 level drops (unconsciousness). This is the main reason why CO2 scrubbers are required technology on aircraft and submarines. Simply adding additional O2 is not enough, you must remove the CO2
    Getting back to tiny numbers for a moment, doing the math shows us that 398 ppm of CO2 is equivalent to an atmospheric concentration of 0.0398 percent. This doesn't sound like much until you recall that a blood alcohol level of anywhere between 0.05 and 0.08 percent (depending upon your geographical location) means that society considers you legally intoxicated. Point Zero Five is the colloquial phrase for 0.050 percent which is only 0.011 percent above 0.039 percent.
    calculation result calculation description
         398 / 1,000,000 0.000398 398 ppm expressed as a decimal
    0.000398 * 100 0.0398 % 398 ppm expressed as a percent
         400 / 1,000,000 0.000400
    400 ppm expressed as a decimal
    400 ppm expressed as a decimal (alternate form)
    0.000400 * 100 0.0400 %
    0.04   %
    400 ppm expressed as a percent
    400 ppm expressed as a percent (alternate form)

    I must point out that "atmospheric CO2 concentrations" and "blood alcohol ratios" do not have the same effect on the human body. Publications by the U.S. Navy indicate that atmospheric CO2 levels of 0.5% will induce physiological changes such as nausea and headaches. This ad-hoc comparison seems to indicate that humans tolerate CO2 approximately ten times better than alcohol (0.50 / 0.05 = 10). Nevertheless, you cannot dismiss numbers just because you consider them small. For example, compounds like LSD have their effect in parts per billion (denominator has nine zeros) while dioxins like "agent-orange" are dangerous in parts per trillion (denominator has twelve zeros)
  28. Attention Computer Technologists: George Dyson just published a book titled Turing's Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe which appears to be a must-own gem.
  29. Isaac Asimov on PBS
    Isaac Asimov PhD
    "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

    -- Isaac Asimov (Column in Newsweek, 21 January 1980)

    Excerpt from Wikipedia: Isaac Asimov was an atheist, a humanist, and a rationalist. He did not oppose religious conviction in others, but he frequently railed against superstitious and pseudoscientific beliefs that tried to pass themselves off as genuine science. During his childhood, his father and mother observed Orthodox Jewish traditions, though not as stringently as they had in Petrovichi, Russia; they did not, however, force their beliefs upon young Isaac. Thus he grew up without strong religious influences, coming to believe that the Torah represented Hebrew mythology in the same way that the Iliad recorded Greek mythology

    NSR Comment: read more Asimovian quotes here
  30. Carl Sagan
    Carl Sagan PhD
    (Astronomy and
    "We have designed a civilization based on science and technology and at the same time have arranged things so that almost no one understands anything at all about science and technology. This is a clear prescription for disaster. We may, for a while, get away with this mix of ignorance and power but sooner or later it is bound to blow up in our face."

    -- Carl Sagan

    "Science is a way of thinking"

    -- Carl Sagan

    "An extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof"

    -- Carl Sagan

    NSR Comment: this last quote also applies to religious assertions so maybe fundamentalists need to calm down a bit.
  31. Arthur C ClarkeIn 1974 Arthur C. Clarke told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that every household in 2001 will have a computer and be connected all over the world


    (sounds like the internet to me)
  32. Today it appears that religious, political, and economic extremists are actively cultivating ignorance.

    For this reason, I hope the following 7-minute video will help end the madness.
    This video is based upon Isaac Asimov's rebuttal to a letter he received from an "English literature" student who was critical of science and progress. The original letter can be found here

    --- xxx ---

    While on this topic, here is an essay titled The “Threat” of Creationism published in the 1984 book Science and Creationism. Quote: Scientists thought it was settled. The universe, they had decided, is about 20 billion years old (now refined to be 13.7), and Earth itself is 4.5 billion years old. Simple forms of life came into being more than three billion years ago, having formed spontaneously from nonliving matter. They grew more complex through slow evolutionary processes and the first hominid ancestors of humanity appeared more than four million years ago. Homo sapiens itself—the present human species, people like you and me—have walked the earth for at least 50,000 years. But apparently it isn't settled. There are Americans who believe that the earth is only about 6,000 years old; that human beings and all other species were brought into existence by a divine Creator as eternally separate variations of beings; and that there has been no evolutionary process.
  33. An alternative explanation for the bizarre claims of "science deniers" involves a "creative injection" solution to the problem of “Cognitive Dissonance". What is "CD"? Briefly, it is the sensation of a "potential difference" between conflicting ideas which, under normal circumstances, compels you to change your behavior.
    Consider this example:
    • you want to live a long healthy life
    • you enjoy smoking tobacco
    • you have been told smoking is bad for your health
    • these facts cause an internal thought-conflict (dissonance) in your brain. To minimize this dissonance:
      • most people will stop smoking (the pleasure of smoking is replaced with the pleasure associated with removed dissonance)
      • but a smaller group of people will find it easier to inject one, or more, creative counter-balancing thoughts like "the science is wrong", "the science is not 100% certain", "scientists are part of a global conspiracy theory to confuse the public while reducing my personal freedoms", etc.
        (by the way, although the science may not be 100% correct, it is often "correct enough" to make a good decision)
    Citizens who have spent large amounts of money on SUVs or multiple family vehicles will create a dissonance if they now accept climate change so will find it easier to pick from a cornucopia of creative alternatives like: "Earth's climate is not changing", "climate change is happening but this instance is just part of a natural cycle", "climate change can not be affected by 6.9 billion humans", "the science is uncertain", "god will intervene before things get too bad", etc. Introducing other unknowns like a carbon-tax only increases dissonance. But in the end they are just like the people who think they can continue smoking with no consequences.

    Literary Observation: two technicians discuss "the conflict of positronic potentials" in chapter 2 of the book "I, Robot". Since this story was written in the 1940's, is it possible it was the germ idea for Cognitive Dissonance which first appears in the literature in 1956?

    A possible reinforcing effect to Cognitive Dissonance is something known as the Dunning-Kruger effect after the publication of their 1999 paper titled: "Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One's Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments"
  34. Not only is North America's slow 30-year (starting in 1981 with Reagan and Thatcher) shift toward conservatism destroying the middle class, it has resulted in a shift toward ignorance and stupidity. Don't believe me? Peruse the excerpts from these publications:
    • The Republican War on Science
    • Unscientific America
    • How does the anti-science view get traction?
      Excerpt from: Deja vu All Over Again (2004-09-13)

      This is how it begins: Proponents of a fringe or non-mainstream scientific viewpoint seek added credibility. They're sick of being taunted for having few (if any) peer reviewed publications in their favor. Fed up, they decide to do something about it.
      These “skeptics” find what they consider to be a weak point in the mainstream theory and critique it. Not by conducting original research; they simply review previous work. Then they find a little-known, not particularly influential journal where an editor sympathetic to their viewpoint hangs his hat.
      They get their paper through the peer review process and into print. They publicize the hell out of it. Activists get excited by the study, which has considerable political implications.
      Before long, mainstream scientists catch on to what’s happening. They shake their heads. Some slam the article and the journal that published it, questioning the review process and the editor’s ideological leanings. In published critiques, they tear the paper to scientific shreds.
      Embarrassed, the journal’s publisher backs away from the work. But it’s too late for that. The press has gotten involved, and though the work in question has been discredited in the world of science, partisans who favor its conclusions for ideological reasons will champion it for years to come.
      The scientific waters are muddied. The damage is done. (read more...)
  35. Two world-views for modern humans:
    1. faith-based
      • Dictionary definition of Faith: belief that is not based on proof
      • Dictionary definitions of Sectarian:
        1. narrowly confined or devoted to a particular sect.
        2. a bigoted or narrow-minded adherent of a sect.
      • Dictionary definition of Theocracy: a system of government by priests claiming a divine commission.
      • Question(s):
        1. Does it make any sense to kill in the name of religion (sectarian violence)?
        2. Does it make any sense to organize government around religion? You might be okay with this as long as YOUR SECT in in charge, but how will you feel when a different sect legally supplants yours? Perhaps it is better for all if we keep our religious practices private and personal.
    2. evidence-based
      • Dictionary definition of Evidence: that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
      • Dictionary definition of Secular: of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred.
        comment: If sectarian is "narrowly confined or bigoted" then secular is "more broadly encompassing and flexible"

    More food for thought:
    1. Quote: "Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army" -- Edward Everett (1794 - 1865)
    2. European Enlightenment (1650-1800)
    3. American Enlightenment (1715–1789)
    4. Baruch Spinoza a.k.a. Benedict de Spinoza (24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Jewish-Dutch philosopher. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza's work was not fully realized until years after his death. By laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism, he came to be considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy. His magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, in which he opposed Descartes's mind–body dualism, has earned him recognition as one of Western philosophy's most important contributors. In the Ethics, "Spinoza wrote the last indisputable Latin masterpiece, and one in which the refined conceptions of medieval philosophy are finally turned against themselves and destroyed entirely." Philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel said of all contemporary philosophers, "You are either a Spinozist or not a philosopher at all."
    5. Age of Reason (1650-present)
    6. If you value The Enlightenment as much as I do then you might enjoy this new book titled "Enlightenment 2.0"
  36. Question: Why Do Americans Continue to Deny Climate Change? Answer: ... well, I'm so glad that you emphasized that it is really only in the United States that this is happening. And its not even happening in most of the Unites States [and parts of western Canada]. The deniers have a large megaphone and its called FOX NEWS and the rest of the right-wing media machine. But if you look at the numbers, really look at the numbers, its just a minority of people who believe this [stuff]. Now. Why. Its a sizeable minority so I don't mean to say its not, so why in the United States and not elsewhere. I think two basic reasons. One. Is that the United States historically, and today, has had a much stronger fossil fuel industry than any other advanced industrial nation. Look at Europe. They don't have, and haven't had, historically major oil companies. In Britain there was British Petroleum. That was their company. In the Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell. But the big oil companies historically have been US based, and, most of their money originally came from here, in the United States. Drilling in Texas, Oklahoma and here in California. And they became, the oil industry in particular, became the single richest business enterprise in human history. Let me emphasize that "the single richest business enterprise EVER". They know perfectly well that if we take climate science seriously that they will have to sell less product. And so, they have, as has been well reported and I talk a bit in the book, they've spent literally millions of dollars on a very calculated disinformation campaign for twenty years that is torn out of the playbook by the tobacco industry. And in fact, used the very same scientist, [physicist] Fredrick Seitz [founding chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, a tobacco industry consultant and a prominent skeptic on the issue of global warming] as their top guy to basically say, in the immortal words of the tobacco industry P.R. memo in 1970, "doubt is our product". "Doubt is our product". Not to prove, the point has not been, and is not today, to prove that climate science is wrong. The point is to simply raise enough doubt in the minds of journalists, politicians, the business class, and the general public. To raise enough doubt so that you can blunt the urge and the calls for political reform.
  37. Despite data being collected for over half a century, despite a President (Lyndon Johnson) being warned about the looming threat of a changing climate in the mid 1960s, and despite plants and animals now changing their behavior to fast altering conditions, a few scientists continue to raise doubts regarding climate science and its findings. Naomi Oreskes sees a pattern. The pattern repeats itself in a string of issues including controversy over tobacco smoke, the dangers of acid rain, and DDT.

    UCSD (University of California at San Diego) Professor of History and Science Studies Naomi Oreskes Ph.D. presented this 58 minute lecture on the History of Global Warming Science titled The American Denial of Global Warming
    39-second extract from the December-2014 movie MERCHANTS OF DOUBT https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpbZCPvCEjQ
    quote: Asbestos, Global Warming, DDT, Acid Rain, Tobacco, Ozone. There is a bit of a mystery [as] to what all these things have in common. All these issues are issues that involve the need for government action. That's when the penny dropped {euphemism} because then I began to realize that none of this is about the science. All of this is a political debate about the roll of government. So in a number of places we actually found these people saying: they see environmentalists as creeping communists, they see them as reds under the bed, they call them watermelons; green on the outside and red on the inside. And they worry that environmental regulation will be a slippery slope to socialism.
    NSR Comment: Just as a non-trivial fraction of 1950’s North America willfully fell under the spell of McCarthyism, the same thing has been happening over the past 30-years with the environment. Carl Sagan was correct when he said “Science is a way of thinking” so let me add this: “Politics is a way of not thinking” and adding religion to the mix only makes things worse. I wonder how much permanent damage will occur before the majority wakes up from “this madness”
  38. My Climate Science resources were moved here.
    • My Climate Modeling for newbies
    • An introduction to climate-change science for the citizen/layperson.
    • Climategate 2009 - The truth about the 2009 email thefts from the University of East Anglia (CRU)
      • this publicity stunt occurred just before the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark.
      • www.youtube.com/watch?v=P70SlEqX7oY - part 1
      • www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJFZ88EH6i4 - part 2
      • http://climatecrocks.com/2011/04/28/unwinding-hide-the-decline/
      • While reading through the Climategate 2009 emails, I stumbled upon some damning information about two climate-change denying scientists, Roy Spencer and John Christy
        • NASA publishes satellite data free-of-charge to the world from their websites
        • In the 1990s, Spence and Christy (S&C) continually published their own analysis of NASA's satellite data which indicated slight global cooling but would not publish their mathematical model.
        • In the early 2000s another group working at RSS got a look at the S&C mathematical model and noticed some algebraic errors including one term with the wrong sign. This appeared in peer-reviewed literature in the summer of 2003. S&C were aware of this error at this time.
        • The peer-reviewed information is published by the AAAS publication Science in the summer of 2005. S&C publically acknowledge their errors in the letters section of Science in September of 2005.
        • After 2005, S&C both continue to assert publically (newspapers, TV, internet) that their is no global warming which is not what you would expect from a scientist.
        • Comment: No scientist should ever be embarrassed by making mathematical errors and neither should S&C. However, the ramp-up to peer-reviewed publishing, including full disclosure of data and mathematics, is supposed to prevent something false from being published. Had S&C been less secret about their mathematical model then this whole situation could have been avoided. What they publically said and did after 2005 is puzzling. 
    • Climategate 2011 - Wow, I can't believe it. Some of the emails stolen in 2009 were withheld then rereleased in 2011 (just before the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Durban, South Africa) but this publicity stunt fizzled almost immediately. Rather than proving a conspiracy of legitimate climate scientists, the emails cast more doubt on climate denier scientists including Roy Spencer and John Christy.
      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4OB2prBtVFo
        (the "John Christy" email can be seen at video time marker "4:42") and can also be found on database page 3707. Here's another one from database page 124965205
      • Speculation: I wonder if a similar stunt is planned for the next conference
      • I used to think that Roy Spencer and John Christy were honorable but misguided.
        • I changed my opinion of Roy Spencer when he joined the board of a so-called think-tank which goes by the name George C. Marshall Institute (an industry lobbyist organization which denies any science limiting corporate profits including the dangers associated with smoking tobacco)
        • I changed my opinion of John Christy after I recently stumbled across this Record of U.S.A. Congressional Testimony from 2006 where John Christy is caught lying (I do not know if he was under oath)
          • 109th Congress House Hearings
            From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
            DOCID: f:31362.wais
          • https://bulk.resource.org/gpo.gov/hearings/109h/31362.txt <<<---*** download it here
          • then locate the phrase "I want to ask Dr. Christy"
    • Climategate 2012 - Like most citizens of planet Earth, I did not expect anything to come out of the political negotiations at the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Doha, Qatar. However, it seems that more politically-minded people (some scientists, mostly reporters and lobbyists) become agitated before these events which triggers unexpected behavior. Up until now, I used to think that Judith Curry was a scientist with nothing more than an opposing interpretation of the available data but that changed recently when she thrice helped the climate-denier community believe in very questionable information published in a British newspaper with a large internet following.
      I could not provide better text then what you will read here: Now to be fair to Ms. Curry, she has posted on numerous blogs that she has been misquoted by David Rose numerous times over the years which makes me wonder why she continues to have any contact with him at all. (fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me). She should also set the record straight about her view of BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature). Does she stand with her scientific colleagues or non-scientists like Anthony Watts?
  39. Superstition: A belief, not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, that future events may be influenced by one's behavior in some magical or mystical way (Wiktionary). In 1947, the psychologist B. F. Skinner reported a series of experiments in which pigeons could push a lever that would randomly either give them a food pellet, or nothing. Think of it as a sort of one-armed bandit that the pigeons played for free. Skinner found, after a while, that some of the pigeons started acting oddly before pushing the lever. One moved in counterclockwise circles, one repeatedly stuck its head into the upper corner of the cage, and two others would swing their heads back and forth in a sort of pendulum motion. He suggested that the birds had developed "superstitious behaviors" by associating "getting the food" with something they happened to be doing when they actually got it -- and they had wrongly concluded that if they did it again, they were more likely to get the pellet. Essentially, they were doing a sort of food-pellet dance to better their odds. This has got to be one explanation for human behavior in the 21st century.
  40. I am always bewildered by the confusion intentionally introduced by retail marketing of electronics equipment (including information from the Consumer Electronics Association).
    This is nothing new in retail electronics. Anyone who remembers the transition of home entertainment audio gear from "vacuum tubes" to "solid state" in the 1970s would be familiar with the terms: "RMS Power" (the only true metric), "Peak Power", "Peak-to-Peak Power", "Music Power" (which I recall was the maximum output power measured just before the electronics caught on fire). How many times did a fast-talking stereo salesman tell us about "Total Harmonic Distortion" with no real understanding of the underlying numbers? I never met a single one who could properly define "dB". 
    Currently, everyone is buzzing about 4k TV when actually referencing UHD TV (Ultra High Definition). 
    Here are a few facts:
    • 2k means 2048 (2^11) in the world of binary computers but can sometimes mean 2000 colloquially (as in $2k)
    • 4k means 4096 (2^12) in the world of binary computers but can sometimes mean 4000 colloquially (as in $4k)
    • HD TV is defined as:
      • 1280 x 720 (aspect ratio: 16x9) but most consumers have never heard of 1280 x 720 even though most el-cheapo flat-screen TVs default to this resolution. Most consumers will have heard of it by its other name: 720p.
      • It is also defined as 1920 x 1080 (aspect ratio: 16x9) when operated as in 1080i (interlaced) mode where only 540 lines are available per each frame. Non-technical people find this second wrinkle too confusing until you break it down to pixel-rates:
        • 1280 x 720 =    921,600 pixels per second
        • 1920 x 540 = 1,036,800 pixels per second (12% more detail when content doesn't change too quickly)
    • FHD TV (Full High Definition) refers to a maximum screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 (aspect ratio: 16x9)
      • The smaller number, 1080, represents the number of lines and was previously marketed as 1080p
      • The larger number, 1920, represents the number of pixels per line. Notice that 1920 doesn't meet either definition of 2k although retailers (including the Consumer Electronics Association) refer to it as 2k
      • In 2015, most cable providers do not transmit a signal with this resolution so TV manufacturers provide built-in "signal upscalers". We can also supply our own signals with "Blu-ray players" and Game Consoles (PS3, PS4, XBOX-360, and XBOX-One)
    • UHD (Ultra High Definition) doubles FHD to get 3840 x 2160 which many call 4k.
      • If 1920 isn't 2K then 3840 certainly isn't 4k as this article confirms: 4k resolution.
      • In 2015, most cable providers are unable to transmit a signal with this resolution so TV manufacturers provide built-in "signal upscalers". We can also provide our own signals with "4k-compatible Blu-ray players" (here, the Blu-ray player can upscale so-called 2k content or play so-called 4k content) and high-end PC-based gaming rigs with video-cards usually costing more than game consoles
    • UHD+ (Ultra High Definition Plus) increases resolution to 5120 x 2880 which Apple correctly markets 5k ( Retina 5k )
    • FUHD (Full Ultra High Definition) doubles UHD to get 7680 x 4320 which some retailers are already calling 8k (which it is not). Many people scoff at the idea of 8k technology but here are some facts:
      • The Las Vegas consumer electronics show is usually held before Super Bowl for obvious marketing reasons. Some companies previewed their so-called 8k sets this year (Jan-2015) while dropping the prices of their so-called 4k sets which are now flying off the shelves as Super Bowl approaches (Feb-1, 2015).
      • Full UHD is necessary to fully reproduce IMAX-quality content which is not yet available to the retail consumer
      • Some vendors are already referring to 8k as QUHD (Quad Ultra High Definition) because it is four times larger than FHD
    • QHD (Quad Ultra High Definition) quadruples UHD to get 15360 x 8640 and I am assuming retailers will call it 16k (which it is not)
    • Click this link to see a more complete list of graphics display technologies which include true 4k and true 8k formats

    Question: Why Should Anyone Care?
    • because true 2k (2048 x 1080) and true 4k (4096 x 2160) technologies were developed for commercial use as part of Digital Cinema Initiatives (which is what you are viewing in a traditional movie theatre. Many patrons are unaware of the fact that celluloid film projectors have been gone for a long while)
    • These aspect ratios are published 2.39:1 and 1.85:1
    • Different screen geometries were chosen for commercial use in order to combat piracy. Commercial interests did not want stolen commercial content directly playable on retail equipment (since 16x9 = 1.78:1 then these other formats could not be properly displayed without some preprocessing)

    New Cable Confusion on the Horizon?
    • Just as most consumers were getting comfortable saying/buying HDMI the move to UHD and above requires a shift to DisplayPort (thankfully many retailers already sell HDMI-to-DisplayPort conversion dongles)
    • Your new laptop may already be configured with a mini-DisplayPort ports but you just didn't know it (I noticed one on my new Lenovo Laptop back in 2011)
  41. Gaia's Evil Twin: Is life its own worst enemy?
    Comment: When I first read James Lovelock's "Gaia Hypothesis" more than 20 years ago, I thought the idea sounded flaky and suspected it would never be anything more than a teaching tool targeted at students who lack the underlying scientific prerequisites. After reading numerous books on climate change from the perspective of a systems analyst, I think we all need to take this hypothesis a little more seriously. Now I don't think any rational person believes the Earth is a self-aware living entity. And yet we all know that every living cell in our bodies is composed of life-like organelles which, at some point, are composed of non-living chemicals. Just as the living cell is a system which both acts and reacts to external events, a very good case could be made to consider Earth a living system with humans, animals, and plants acting as the organelles.
  42. Microsoft's Project Tuva - a multimedia homage to the lectures of Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman. For example, check out Video Lecture 1: The Messenger Lecture Series: The Law of Gravitation (55 minute BBC video from Cornell in 1964)
  43. In 1873, while investigating infrared radiation and the element thallium, the eminent Victorian experimenter Sir William Crookes developed a special kind of radiometer, an instrument for measuring radiant energy of heat and light. Crookes's Radiometer is today marketed as a conversation piece called a light-mill or solar engine. It consists of four vanes each of which is blackened on one side and silvered on the other. These are attached to the arms of a rotor which is balanced on a vertical support in such a way that it can turn with very little friction. The mechanism is encased inside a clear glass bulb which has been pumped out to a high, but not perfect, vacuum.
    • When sunlight falls on the light-mill, the vanes turn with the black surfaces apparently being pushed away by the light. But there is a problem with this explanation. Light falling on the black side should be absorbed, while light falling on the silver side of the vanes should be reflected. In that case the mill is turning the wrong way.
    • In 1901, with a better vacuum pump, Pyotr Lebedev showed that the radiometer only works when there is low pressure gas in the bulb but the vanes stay motionless in a hard vacuum. This is proof that the thermal properties of the low pressure gas are responsible for the motion, not the direct action of photons. Climate-Warming Food-for-thought: too much gas traps too much heat causing the machine to stop working.
    • The radiometer can also be made to rotate backwards in a refrigerator.
    • Other mistaken explanations for the radiometer: Since the black side of each vane would absorb heat from infrared radiation more than the silver side, then this would cause the rarefied gas to be heated on the black side.  In that case, the obvious explanation is that the pressure of the gas on the darker side increases with its temperature, creating a higher force on the dark side of the vane which thus pushes the rotor around.  Maxwell analyzed this theory carefully and discovered that, in fact, the warmer gas would simply expand in such a way that there would be no net force from this effect, just a steady flow of heat across the vanes.  So this explanation in terms of warm gas is wrong, but even the Encyclopedia Britannica gives this false explanation today.  A variation on this theme is that the motion of the hot molecules on the black side of the vane provide the push.  Again this is not correct, and could only work if the mean free path between molecular collisions were as large as the container, instead of its actual value of typically less than a millimeter.
    • The correct solution to the problem was provided qualitatively by Osborne Reynolds in 1879 in a paper to the Royal Society in which he considered what he called "thermal transpiration". To explain the radiometer, therefore, one must focus attention not on the faces of the vanes, but on their edges.  The faster molecules from the warmer side strike the edges obliquely and impart a higher force than the colder molecules.  Again, these are the same thermo-molecular forces responsible for Reynolds' thermal transpiration.  The effect is also known as thermal creep, since it causes gases to creep along a surface that has a temperature gradient.  The net movement of the vane due to the tangential forces around the edges is away from the warmer gas and towards the cooler gas, with the gas passing around the edge in the opposite direction.  The behavior is just as if there were a greater force on the blackened side of the vane (which as Maxwell showed is not the case); but the explanation must be in terms of what happens not at the faces of the vanes, but near their edges.
  44. Humanity's Coming Dark Age
    Humanity's Coming Dark Age - The rise and fall of empires
    The Rise and Fall of Empires (published: 2003-01-29)
    Symptoms before each collapse: ignorance, superstition, religious fundamentalism, xenophobia, intolerance, rejection of science
    1. Download a free PDF copy of the 418-page 2002 publication: The Phoenix Principle and the Coming Dark Age by Marc Widdowson (British military analyst and educator) 
      • subtitled: Social catastrophes – human progress 3000 BC to AD 3000
      • http://www.bellics.com/remote-link/The_Coming_Dark_Age.pdf
      • Marc Widdowson's original web site at www.darkage.fsnet.co.uk appears to have fallen into the bit-bucket sometime after 2008 but you can still access much of the original material (including charts and diagrams which are not in the current PDF) via the Way Back Machine
      • The chart above (first published in 2003) illustrates the rise-and-fall of six major empires. The only good thing I noticed in this chart are that the amplitude and length of each period are decreasing
      • The associated tables, which were published 5-years before the 2008 American-caused world-wide financial debacle, seem shockingly accurate
    2. Download ($10) an eBook of The Coming Dark Age by Roberto Vacca - 153 pages in PDF format
      • This book was first published in 1973 then updated in 2000
      • Click here for a free view "Contents, Foreword, Introduction and the First Chapter"
      • "I read this book in a palsied fascination of horror. I have never read a book that was at the same time so convincing and so frightening." - Isaac Asimov
    3. While there are many complicated and interacting reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire, I am now convinced that Edward Gibbon was correct when he stated that the primary reason was due to the the effects of organized religion. Today's world might collapse for nothing more that the reasons of religious intolerance or greed (materialism is another form of religion).
    4. Additionally, we know from the writings of Roman historians (Pliny the Elder is one of many) that Ancient Rome began its decline not long after Romans began to replace "observational science given to them by the Greeks" with so-called "common sense". Roman civilization stagnated then decayed from within.
    5. Today it is no different. Earlier in my life, people were fond of this expression: "If we can go to the moon then why cant we ... ?". To be clear, it was only the Americans who were able to send 12 men to the moon between 1969 and 1972 then return them safely to the Earth. The rest of of humanity was merely sharing in their triumph. But after Richard Nixon gutted the American manned space program to help keep America solvent while it fought a ridiculous war in Vietnam, and Ronald Reagan cozied up to Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" to win the presidential election of 1980, America has barely been able to put humans into orbit and now must hitch a ride to the ISS (International Space Station) with their former cold-war enemy, Russia. Many Americans now joke "If we can go to the moon then why can't we go to the moon?" while ignoring shame or embarrassment. But will they change when astronauts from another country decide to plant a flag up there? Probably not. Just as the Ming emperor of China burned his fleet while claiming there is nothing in the world worth exploring, block-headed Americans of all stripes have lost their {space} fleet.
    6. But it has gotten much worse: this side of y2k, North Americans with a Sunday-school understanding of the Christian bible actually think they are doing society a service when they stand up and argue with highly educated scientists about such topics like: evolution, the age of the earth, the importance of vaccines to only name three of many
    7. Religious Method (dogma): Fiction, Assertion, Suppression
      Scientific Method (pragma): Observation, Hypothesis, Experiment (test), Debate. Then publish and repeat.
    8. So now I urge you to return to the chart above and ask yourself "am I confortable living on the decline of the last bump?". If the answer is "no" then I suggest you suppress your personal expressions of: ignorance, superstition, religious fundamentalism, xenophobia, intolerance, rejection of science
  45. Isaac Asimov PhD
    Dr. Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov = Hari Seldon?
    Back in 2004, Isaac Asimov (already dead for 12 years) sent all of humanity a message from 1988. Does this remind you of the posthumous messages sent by Hari Seldon to all of humanity? Click here for more information.
    p.s. this has nothing to do with the occult (nothing at this web site does)
  46. Folding@Home and BOINC. Learn how YOU can utilize spare resources on YOUR computer to cure human diseases by helping scientists discover how protein molecules fold and misfold. Isaac Asimov would have loved this.
  47. Guaranteed Human Life Extension - quantity as well as quality. This is not a joke or scam but it will cost you $6.00 per month and you must act now.

"2001: A Space Odyssey"
A mysterious monolith awakens the imagination of humanity's distant ancestors;
A second one awaits humanity's giant leap to the moon;
And in orbit around Jupiter, a third beckons humanity to transcend beyond the limits of of body and machine.
Click: 2001: A Space Odyssey @ Wikipedia

Feynman Diagram (animated) Feynman Diagram (static)
"All forces in the universe are mediated by particle exchange"
This "Feynman Diagram" (of electron repulsion) depicts the movement of two electrons (1 to 3 and 2 to 4) in space and time.
A virtual photon transfers energy between them (5 to 6) causing them to repel each other.
To learn more:
1) brief explanation
2) detailed explanation
Legend: Y-Axis (up-down) is time while X-Axis (left-right) is space

Science etc... Science Fiction... Engineering... Government and Community... Online Tools... About Me...
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Personal e-mail: Neil Rieck

Spirits In The Material World

There is no political solution
To our troubled evolution
Have no faith in constitution
There is no bloody revolution

We are spirits in the material world

Our so-called leaders speak
With words they try to jail you
They subjugate the meek
But it's the rhetoric of failure

We are spirits in the material world

Where does the answer lie?
Living from day to day
If it's something we can't buy
There must be another way

We are spirits in the material world

The Police (Ghosts in the Machine)

"Ask ten different scientists about the environment, population control, genetics... and you'll get ten different answers. But there's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on. Whether it happens in a hundred years, a thousand years or a million years eventually our Sun will go cold and will go out. When that happens it won't just take us -- it will take Marilyn Monroe, Lau Tzu, Einstein and Buddy Holly and Aristophanes -- all of this, all of this was for nothing. Unless we go to the stars."

Commander Jeffrey Sinclair -- Babylon 5