|Physics and sex - of all the things that make life awesome, they might be my favorite.|
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
I don't have a ton of time to post this morning, as I'm about to walk out the door for my Level 1 Krav Maga test (nothing like 4 hours of getting your ass kicked to start a weekend). But I wanted to get some pictures put up real quick that I grabbed Friday afternoon, in downtown Tampa. These were taken about 72 hours before the start of the Republican National Convention (and the arrival of most of the protesters).
|First roadside barricades I came across were at Madison and Twiggs, probably about 1/4 mile from the actual convention.|
|Some more barricades as you head down Twiggs. These ones are specifically designed to allow the police to stand above the protesters on the other side of them.|
|No actual officers in sight. I saw this numerous times in the area. Where vehicles had been staged but there was no sign of actual officers nearby.|
|Wells Fargo bank. While there is a large number of banks represented in downtown Tampa, this was the only one I saw which had found it necessary to place barricades in front of their entrance.|
|The front of the convention center. Nothing too special going on here. You will notice that the fences here are far less "menacing" than those throughout the rest of town. My guess is that the other fences make a less positive PR image.|
|Is the Tampa Municipal building a target for some reason? One would think so from this looks of things.|
Update: Ended up not having enough time to finish it before Krav Maga, hence why this is being posted on Sunday morning instead.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Today I want to write about a little gem-of-ignorance over at Conservapedia.com I was introduced to today.
|Even their logo is ridiculous|
If you've never heard of Conservapedia before, they are a fundamentalist run, Christian-right biased, version of Wikipedia. Anti-intellectual would also be a fair label to attach to their website. As should be obvious from that description - I'm not a fan of their site. In any number of ways, they are the antithesis to many of the very values that I hold in high regard. Hence my surprise when my opinion of conservapedia was lowered even further.
How they managed to accomplish such a feat was through the truly stunning piece of anti-intellectual garbage (even by their standards) that is their page on E=mc². I don't recommend actually visiting the page, so as to spare your brain from the trauma that it would have to endure. I have copied the first paragraph here (it does a pretty good job of outlining the rest of the page's "information"):
E=mc² is Einstein's famous formula which asserts that the energy (E) which makes up the matter in any body is equal to the square of the speed of light (c²) times the mass (m) of that body. It is a meaningless, almost nonsensical, statement that purports to relate all matter to light. In fact, no theory has successfully unified the laws governing mass (i.e., gravity) with the laws governing light (i.e., electromagnetism), and numerous attempts to derive E=mc² in general from first principles have failed. Political pressure, however, has since made it impossible for anyone pursuing an academic career in science to even question the validity of this nonsensical equation. Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap.
For anyone who has even the most basic understanding of the statement E=mc² and physics, it should be plainly obvious that the above statement is almost pure fiction. The only points in it which aren't the apparent result of some fundy's wet dream are:
E=mc²Or, cleaned up:
is Einstein 's famous formula whichasserts that the energy (E) which makes up the matter in any bodyis equal to the square of the speed of light (c²) times the mass (m) of that body. It is a meaningless, almost nonsensical, statement that purports to relate all matter to light . In fact, no theory has successfully unified the laws governing mass (i.e., gravity) with the laws governing light (i.e., electromagnetism), and numerous attempts to derive E=mc² in general from first principles have failed. Political pressure, however, has since made it impossible for anyone pursuing an academic career in science to even question the validity of this nonsensical equation. Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap.
E=mc²... asserts that the energy (E)... is equal to the square of the speed of light (c²) times the mass (m) of that body.Lets look at the original statement's falsities, piece-by-piece; Because that is really just too much garbage to handle all at once.
Einstein's Famous Formula?
Einstein's famous formula
While it is common to hear people refer to it as his, Einstein was not the first to publish the equation E=mc². This is something which takes all of about five seconds worth of research to find out and is a sign as to how much effort the ideologues at conservapedia actually put into checking pesky things like "facts".
Einstein is certainly responsible for much of the work behind the current understanding of E=mc², which he called mass-energy equivalence and outlined in his 1905 paper Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?. He was hardly the first scientist to propose such a relationship though and is not the only one to contribute to its modern understanding:
Contributors to Equation E=mc²
Before Einstein, among other physicists, Isaac Newton, English S. T. Preston in 1875, French Poincaré in 1900, Italian De Pretto in 1903, German F. Hasenöhrl made significant contributions in speculations and derivations of E=mc². After Einstein Planck has also derived E=mc² independently. J J Thomson in 1888 is also believed to have anticipated E=mc² from Maxwell’s equations.
In total, finding that information probably took all of about 30 seconds. It is readily available and there is no way that someone searching for information on E=mc² wouldn't come across it. The only sensible explanation for conservapedia getting it wrong is that they are a) either too lazy to bother with basic research before writing or b) are purposefully misleading their audience in order to push their ideological viewpoint - I'll let you decide which it actually is.
Energy Makes Up the Matter in Any Body?
energy (E) which makes up the matter in any body
Stanford University has published a great piece titled The Equivalence of Mass and Energy, I'll let it do the heavy lifting here:
Although it is far less common today, one still sometimes hears of Einstein's equation entailing that matter can be converted into energy. Strictly speaking, this constitutes an elementary category mistake. In relativistic physics, as in classical physics, mass and energy are both regarded as properties of physical systems or properties of the constituents of physical systems. ... we can assert that whatever sense of “conversion” seems compelling between mass and energy, it will have to be a “conversion” between mass and energy, and not between matter and energy.
As the author, Francisco Fernflores, implies - it could be that this is an honest mistake on the part of conservapedia - but, based on the wealth of dishonest material which they publish with such seemingly little regard for accuracy, I doubt it.
It Relates All Matter to Light
It is a meaningless, almost nonsensical, statement that purports to relate all matter to light.First: It is a mathematically derived equation, so by its very nature it has meaning.
Second: It is a mathematically derived equation, which makes complete logical sense. A simple explanation of where the equation comes from, in this case using Einstein's method, can be achieved in about two minutes and eleven seconds:
Theory of Everything
In fact, no theory has successfully unified the laws governing mass (i.e., gravity) with the laws governing light (i.e., electromagnetism)...I'm not sure why the idiots over at conservapedia didn't use the words "general relativity" and "quantum mechanics" here. Perhaps such phrases are beyond the grasp of their normal audience. Regardless, the words that they use result in yet another false statement.
While there is not yet an experimentally verified theory relating General Theory of Relativity and Quantum Theory, each of these theories does successfully predict the behavior of light and mass, within their areas of application. Also, there is no singular set of "laws governing mass" or "laws governing light", in the case of
E=mc², m is referring to relativistic mass.
True, sort of
...numerous attempts to derive E=mc² in general from first principles have failed.In physics, first principles refers to established, basic laws of physics. This statement is actually true but what it implies is not. Often within physics, assumptions are made about different aspects of reality in order to develop valid proofs and theories. E=mc² is not unique in this way, despite what the above statement would lead someone to believe. The reason that these assumptions are accepted is because they result in proofs and theories which accurately predict experimental data, such as in the case of E=mc². Some of these fundamental assumptions can be found here.
Crap Cherry on a Crap Sundae
Political pressure, however, has since made it impossible for anyone pursuing an academic career in science to even question the validity of this nonsensical equation. Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap.This here is the least surprising of all the statements within this opening paragraph. It is an example of the typical reasons that I have nothing but disdain for conservapedia, its authors, and those who believe it is a valid source of information. It is the typical kind of anti-intellectual, science-is-a-liberal-conspiracy bullshit that politically motivated assholes love to spew all over the place, just hoping some of it will stick.
Typically, this type of attack is targeted towards that Theory of Evolution or Theory of the Big Bang, where it is ultimately just as ridiculous and unfounded. Disproving the major theories is where the "money" is in science. There is no faster way in the Universe for a scientist to ensure herself unlimited grant money and a permanent place in history then by disproving one of these core theories.
As it turns out though, this is a particularly bad time to be making a claim that it is impossible to question the validity of E=mc², or Einstein in general, since the majority of the scientific community was doing just that only a matter of months ago, Has a Speeding Neutrino Really Overturned Einstein?
Conservapedia: Zero Minus 1?
Like I said at the start of this, I wasn't a fan of conservapedia before today and I'm certainly not one now. That said, it isn't every day that an organization for which I had zero respect for in the first place, is actually able to lower my estimation of them either further. Maybe there's a scientific hypothesis in all of this somewhere:
Monday, August 13, 2012
Monday, August 6, 2012
For over four thousand years of recorded history humans have stared at a distant red dot in the night skies; We have wondered what it might be and what it could tell us of our lives here on Earth.
Starting today, a car sized, one tonne, engineering marvel will enable us to explore Mars in ways that were never before possible. We will learn more about the composition of the Red-planet, in the next two years, than in all previous human history combined; All of which is the result of astounding scientific ingenuity and engineering genius. The Curiosity rover required 10 years of direct work and 3.4 million years of accumulated scientific knowledge to become reality. It traveled a total of 352 million miles, in eight months, and landed completely autonomously - with its final landing stages requiring it be lowered to the surface of Mars by a sky-crane!
This morning I find myself filled with absolute wonder about the world and Universe - I want to know what we will learn tomorrow and to see humans push even further past our current limits of understanding. Will we some day be seeing, not a rover, but a manned mission being lowered onto the Martian surface? Will Curiosity lead to new clues as to how life arose here on Earth? What implications will the scientific discoveries of Curiosity have on daily life here on Earth? I don't know the answer to any of these questions yet but I can not wait to find out!