Friday, December 27, 2013

Sexy Physics Sells

If you are in a bookstore such as Barnes and Nobles (or maybe imagine it since lots of folks browse books online such as at Amazon), or a public library, go to the science section then look for physics type books.  Most of the books you will see on physics are about the wowwy, gee-whizzy type things.  I'm talking the Higgs Particle (from a theory published in 1964), dubbed the "God Particle" by Leon Lederman who was a nobel prize winner in physics for experimental particle physics research.  Books about String Theory, Parallel Universes, Quantum Mechanics, Inflationary Universes.  All really cool and neat stuff and on material that has won Nobel Prizes.  What you don't see are books on important areas of physics research that aren't as awe inspiring and cool to talk about with friends, and yet are very important.  Look at the Nobel prizes given in physics for the last few years as listed on the noble prize page:

Hopefully you can read what I have pasted from that site.

The books you will see as you browse may not contain in the titles what areas of physics the Noble Prizes were given for but their subjects are in most of those books.  Books about the Higgs boson will also be discussing areas in which previous Nobel winners work has contributed to the science that the Higgs boson is part of.  Remember Einstein did not win his Nobel prize for relativity, he won it for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, or how remote controls work.  By the way Einstein never got the Nobel prize money his ex-wife did since it was in their divorce settlement that if he were to ever win the Nobel prize she would get the money.

So what you don't know when you purchase or check out that sexy sounding physics or astronomy book you are going to hopefully learn about research that you might not have known about but hopefully the author will explain how they are all related.

Somehow, Condensed-Matter scientists need to come up with sexy titles to explain their work such as in high temperature superconductors.  I guess its because Ug for thousands of years has wondered about the universe around him and material physics and such just isn't as cool to talk and think about as wondering what its all about.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

What's Next?

When I was growing up in the 60's in middle class America dads went to work, moms stayed home, kids went to schools.  The "Leave it to Beaver" America.  Then somehow it evolved into both moms and dads had to to go to work to keep families going. To keep the America dream going both dads and moms have to go to work.  If there is a divorce, there still has to be ways found to continue that two incomes coming into the house.  Somewhere along the way people started to then use credit cards more and more.  When I was a kid you saw cash, people didn't pay for things with credits cards.  Now you have dads and moms working with the extra debt of credit cards, then maybe having to have a second mortgage.   What's next?

When I was a kid College was cheaper and families could afford to send their kids to College.  Kids weren't taking out student loans to go to College. Most college kids didn't have a car  Students could make enough money in the summer and with their parents help kids could go to college with no student debt.  Somewhere along the line college started to became more and more expensive.  Kids take out student loans to get a College education so as to get a good job to live the American dream.  A College degree now is like what a high school degree was back in the 50-60's.  No College degree, we don't want you in the white collar working world.  Now the problem is that in many fields there are no good jobs.  If you are a student in science and engineering fields you will have no problem.  Many other fields good luck.  So then its onto getting a Master degree and then hoping to get a job.    Hoping that those jobs are out there instead of having to take a job in the service industry and getting stuck there when in fact you really want to do something else but can't  since there are no opportunities.  What Obama called a "deficit of opportunity".

Economists can say more about this and I will get my numbers slightly wrong but the overall idea I hope to get through.  Over the last 15 to 20 years salaries for most Americans have been stagnant.  The wealth being generated especially after this great recession is going to the top 10% and more of it really going to the top 1%.  Most Americans are not seeing the recovery from the recession.  The rich are getting richer and the middle class is not.  We have heard that for years, now we are really seeing it in the middle and upper middle class.  Some Economists worry that we will become a society of  folks centered around a lower yearly salary with the top 1% getting most of the wealth.  Look at income distribution data in the US with numbers of households  versus income.  This distribution is flat out to about $40,000 per year in household income then it  starts an exponential decay.  Half way down that exponential decay are families that make around $80,000 per year per household.  It then keeps dropping away from that.  I'm going to guess that if current social and economic trends continue  these numbers are not going to get better.  This means  there will not be much in terms of upward mobility of these numbers adjusted for inflation.   The area under this curve is constant.  There  is only so much income.   What we would like to see of course is that $40,000 and $80,000 move higher and that the exponential decay is quicker.  Not so many households in the $1,000,000 and up but more in the middle and lower income brackets. Ideally one would  like to see more of a Gaussian distribution.  In fact that's what I naively thought that's what the data would show not the actually distribution we have.  Will this happen?  No, but then this begs the question.

What's next?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Humans have created another Universe!

If you think about all of the information out in cyberspace its almost like another universe.  What do I mean?  We as humans live inside our physical universe that we observe with our senses and equipment we have developed to augment our senses, such as a telescope.  From this we have developed science that tries to interpret this data to tell us something about the space that we live in.  Think of Newton's three laws of motion or his theory of gravity.  By observing phenomenon we have developed theories and laws that help explain the universe. The domains examined define the various branches of science.  Gee sounds like a lecture to liberal arts students about science.  Anyways, the information out in cyberspace can be thought of in a similar manner.  The real problem is trying to understand what all of this data is telling us.  This information space is huge, recently we are storing over an exabytes of data (1 X10^18).  That's a 1 with 18 zeros behind it.  I remember when a megabyte, Mb (1 X 10^6, 1,000,000) was a large amount of data. Remember a CD  holds 650 Mb, so getting into the exabyte realm is like a trillion CD's.  Now we are trying to process and understand  this huge amount of data.  As I posted yesterday the potential of this data is astounding.  The problem is how to understand this data and what is it telling us.  This is exactly what science does in trying to understand the physical universe.  Only now I'm thinking that all the data in cyberland is like another universe and we need to learn how to interpret this data and understand it in a manner possibly similar to what science does.

This nothing new.  There are faculty positions at universities in the US advertising for positions in Big Data.  Obama has announced a Big Data Research and Development Initiative.  I hope that one of the goals is to try and understand what this cyberland universe is telling us about ourselves.

As a concrete example one goal of the Large Hardon Collider (LHC) at CERN was to hopefully discover the Higgs Boson.  Which it did, as announced at CERN on July 4, 2012.  Two large multipurpose detectors where built and installed at the lab.  These detectors, each are the size of a multistory home, collect a huge amount of data.  Physicists have developed ways to analyze the data to look for events in the data that tell them that a Higg boson was created.  In analyzing their data the events expected from a Higgs particle production were observed!  Thus confirming a theory developed back in the 1964.  Two theoretical physicists, Francois Englert and Peter Higgs were awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics.  However and this is a big however, in that data collected by the two detectors there are a huge number of events recorded.  What is in all those events that might possibly be telling us something that was not looked for in the Higgs search?  This is assuming of course that they didn't throw away too much data in their hard wire triggers before the data was stored. There maybe in that data something telling us about dark matter or dark energy but that we just don't understand what to look for in the data.  What kind of patterns are there in that amount of data?  How do we go about sifting through all that data?  This is one example of how Big Data can be used.  Think of all the other possibilities!  Humans have created another universe!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"So Much Data, so Little Time" Data Mining and what to do with the Data

This is a topic that I have thought on and off about for 20 years or so, but with the released of material from Edward Snowden about NSA spying on us I thought I would comment on data mining.  Particularly BIG data mining and what to do with the data obtained.

What is data mining?  Its where some person or group collects large amounts of data from the internet.  Then they  search this data for whatever information they are wanting to study.  I first became aware of this around 1992-93 when I was involved with my first webpage.  This was when the web was first starting to run, (I only knew of the browser Mosaic, which later evolved to Netscape).  What was happening was that search engines (Yahoo, Google didn't exit then) sent out little programs, I can't remember what they where called, that looked for websites and collected information from those websites so that particular websites came up when you did a web search. If you ask yourself  when you search on a topic "how does the search engine know what sites are out in internet land that are related to my topic?"  Well its because the search engine did data mining of the internet to locate websites and obtain information from them  This was then analyzed so that  you got websites that were related to the topic you were curious about.  So the search engines were mining the internet looking for information that it could present you when you did a search.  How it went about sorting through all of this information to find you the websites you wanted is what made Jerry Yang, and other  founders of Yahoo, very wealthy men.

If you think about sorting through all of the information that the internet has and then presenting you with the information you want, that is a very difficult problem.  Nowadays this is what big data mining is all about.  It took the release of what the NSA was doing in data mining that brought data mining to everyone's attention.  The NSA was and is doing huge sweeping collections of data located in the net.  They say they were interested in collecting information about terrorists but in doing so they were and are collecting data on everyone and everything (maybe why the Supreme Court gives corporations and other nonhuman entities the rights that humans have).  The problem is sorting through all that information to get the information that you want.  Imagine wanting to catch a particular fish, yet you collect everything in the lake.  You now have to sort through it all to get the fish.  Now the sorter is a computer, not a human, so the programmer has to figure out how to get the computer to locate that particular fish.  Tough problem, but the results are incredibly valuable, both intellectually and monetarily.

What you look at online can be very valuable to people selling stuff. Advertisers can decide who to buy ads from  by how many hits a site gets.  I remember when the web first started everyone was putting webcounters at the bottom of their webpage that counted how many times their site was viewed.  You can think of all the possibilities this led to in selling to people information about how people used the web and for what.  Now the scary thing comes in.  What about knowing what individuals do on the web?  Imagine someone knowing all the sites that you visit and trying to figure out what you are doing.?  Someone knowing all the phone numbers that you call, the content of all your text messaging?  Knowing about your banking?  Knowing all your medical history even down to obtaining your MRI,  and X-ray images?  How would you like it if everything that you do on the web and every thing known about you electronically stored is available for someone to look at?  Remember everything attached to the web, even remotely can be accessed.  It isn't just computers and the information that they store, its also all the sensors, monitors, etc.,all equipment.  Recently a person hacked into another persons microwave.  Think about it.

However, with all the  negative reporting about data mining there is also a lot of wonderful things that can be done with data obtained from the web.  This has not been publicized as much. Data from cities such as street  lights, cab locations, police and fire stations, anything attached to the web can be analyzed.  The use of this data to more efficiently and effectively operate large cities has been written in a variety of articles (I will learn to put links into my posts soon).  An institute in Manhattan, I believe in cooperation with NYU, headed by physicist Steven Kooin, former provost of Caltech has been established to use the data collected in cities, particularly New York City to continue and extend such work to make cities operate better. There are a variety of models that can use such data to better predict future needs of a city.  With all of your medical data available on the web programs can be used to help  doctors understand and diagnosed  the problem  that prompted you to visit them. Better yet be able to help cut off problems before they start by understanding all your medical data including genetic information.

The availability of all of this data and how to effectively mine it and then interpret it is a new area of study with tremendous possibilities. Think of all the data and what can be done with it.  As we used to say years ago at one of the labs where  I worked "so much data, so little time".

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Why Does the World Exist by Jim Holt

Why is there Something rather than Nothing?December 6, 2013
By Jerry
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story (Paperback)
A truly wonderful book to read. Almost every time in reading it I ended up putting it down because I wanted to think about what the author was saying. The book is about trying to answer the question of "why is there something rather than nothing?" He goes about trying to answer this question partly by interviewing some of the most respected people who think such a topic (Steven Weinberg, David Deutsch, Richard Swinburne, Adolf Grunbaum and others). Partly by educating us about various existential writers, mathematics, science, and philosophy. All of this is done in a way that is enjoyable to read and gives one a feeling of adventure as he travels to such places as Oxford, Paris and other towns. He also gives us an emotional feeling along the way of a partial autobiography in writing about his personal dealings with the deaths of his mother and his dog while writing this book. If you would like to read about what some of the worlds authorities have to say about the question the title of the book presents and learn some philosophy, science and mathematics along the way this is a wonderful book to read.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Your Life as a Movie

What does the title mean?  In movies what you are physically watching are still photographs (frames) being projected at 24 frames per sec (fps).  So what you are viewing are 24 pictures each second that makes up the movie and gives the appearance of motion in the movie you are watching.  Well your life is lived in a similar manner of frames per second.  However instead of 24 fps your life is in 1 X 10^43 fps, that a 1 followed by 43 zeros.  Yeah thats a pretty big (I know I shouldn't use that word since its not well defined) or as I like to say a gazillion.  Your life is not continuous but broken up into individual frames as far as present physics can tell us.  This is the limiting factor imposed by quantum mechanics relating to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle about how well we can measure the physical universe.  The 1X10^43 fps is related to the smallest time interval which we can measure and that is the Planch time of 5X10^-44 seconds.  A decimal point followed by forty-three 0's then a 5.  This is what quantum mechanics tells us and I might add that quantum mechanics is by far as I know the most successful theory presented by Physicists.  What quantum mechanics really means is another story...... But your life is lived as a movie.  How each frame advances is the goal of physics,and physics has a good grip on that.  Unfortunately what it has to say is based on probabilities and as far I can tell there are various ways of examining probabilities.

So you can say that your life is a movie only that there are no cuts in the filming and no mulligans as the movie progresses along.  There may be no Mulligans or do it over again since physics says if you traveled back in time you cannot change what happens.  What we do have however is the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics that says there is a universe where you are wearing that other shirt you thought about wearing today.  A universe where instead of of being in the profession you are in now,  you are in a different profession you thought about.  Basically there is a universe that exists for every different decision you have made. Woulda, shoulda, coulda universes. They are there.  You won't be able to communicate with them but they are there.  Parallel universes.  If you think this is science fiction, its not.  In the community of professional folks (physicists, philosophers, mathematicians etc.) that think about the foundations and understanding of quantum mechanics the Many Worlds Interpretation is thought to be the correct way to understand quantum mechanics by around a third of these folks.  Its basis comes from the PhD dissertation of Hugh Everitt III at Princeton around 1956.  This interpretation is studied worldwide in conferences, books, papers, BBC documentaries, all sorts of stuff.

Interesting stuff to think about as head hits pillow, pillow hits head.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Putting it all Together

Another mind wondering post

What I'm thinking about is putting together and understanding all the broad knowledge that we have in a wide variety of subjects and seeing if we can understand for lack of a better phrasing the "human condition".  I thinking about a single individual or small group of folks getting together and understanding in a general way the results, trends and anything else appropriate to understanding , its hard to put down in words for me, I guess in a whimsical way the status of the question "what do we know about life , the universe and everything?"    I'm just not phrasing what I really mean and as we all know to really study and understand something we have to have a definitive question.  Like the whole point of existence. What is science, literature, art, philosophy, mathematics telling us?  Putting it all together with no bias, agendas or anything like that at all.  I mean none. What is all of our knowledge saying to us as humans?

Sort of having a true polymath understanding human existence. I'm frustrated in that I don't know how to phrase the feeling that I have about this subject.  A person or group not to get lost in the trees but to truly understand the whole forest.  Stupid cliche.

Its unclear to me if this can be done at the present time.  But an attempt at it should be made.

I'm not talking about colleges, think tanks , research centers and such.  I'm thinking about putting it all together.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Another mind wondering dialectic.

The title to this post is the answer to the question: Why do we do what we do?  Seems like a simple question.   Most really interesting questions I suppose are simple questions.  But why do we do what we do?  My answer on a deep down level is: survival.  Why is that? My posts are free thinking so lets see where this goes.

In our society if you ask someone "why do you do what you do?" They will probably look at you funny and maybe say "what do you mean?" You know why are you doing what you do?  It will then come down to what do they do for a living or why they are in a relationship or what they are doing at the present time.  But this is getting lost in the trees in the overall forest.  Main goal is to survive. That means to eat and then safe shelter.  I'm talking about at the basic level  Since we don't think about it since its very depressing.  But in  our society most middle class folks are only a few pay checks away from being poor again. If you lost your job how long can you last on your savings?  Credit card living and then you can end up bankrupt.  Its depressing so let's not go there.  But that the main goal is survival.  We do what we do so that we can eat and have a roof over our heads.  That's the answer at the most basic level.

We tend to not think about that since most of us have a job or a source of income.  This provides us with food and a place to live.  But this is why people do what they do, eat and shelter.  Its just how different folks go about doing this that leads to interesting scenarios, some good, some bad. I think as young children we are all born with that state of child wonderment.  Just staring around bringing it all in.  Psychologist study this stuff all the time.  All kids are natural born explorers. They ask questions like: "why is that?","how's does that work?"  Hopefully they are given answers or are encouraged to explore more and to figure it out for themselves.  This assumes caring parents or caregivers at an early age.  Hopefully this will continue on in school.  I think that one of the best forms of education is to ask questions and hopefully in some way the child can through coaching or direction figure this out for themselves.  It is important that they get speaking listening and reading skills at a very early age.  Again lots of studies have been done on this.  But this unfortunately is not really happening in our society as a whole because we don't emphasis this enough.  I'm sure every parent looking down at their child wants the very best in life for their child.  Unfortunately in our society that life doesn't always happen.  In the richest country on this planet that just doesn't happen.  Education of children is not the number one priority.  If you ask people I'm sure they would say it should be and it is in their hearts and minds and in the best of a society it would be.  In America today we do not allocate our resources to make this happen.  Our economy is not based on making this happen for our children and for ourselves.

Let me talk in a broad sense based from a 57 year old male point of view as I see it.  Notice the word I, its my opinion hopefully I will not offend anyone but I probably will.  Why do we do what we do?  In our society that means work.  Why do we work?  To pay the bills.  Hopefully we have the option of having a job that we feel interesting.  So that the job to pay the bills is fulfilling so much so that we don't even think about doing it so as to pay the bills even comes into our minds.  Our parents encourage us to do well in school.  As kids we want to do things to make our parents happy and the teachers happy and we are curious.  I'll come back to our education system later.  When I was asked "what do you want to do when you grow up?"  I remember answering I want to be a dump truck driver.  I'm sure my parents were really excited about that since they all think that we will be the president or rich or famous but mainly be better off than them.  (Nothing against dump truck drivers if they are happy with what they are doing).  Did Ug and Ugess want their kids to be head of the group, have all the furs and food or be known to all the other cavemen?   Whatever that all really means to cavemen. Basically be better than them.  But even at an early age in the society I grew up in and I suppose its still true today, its what you are going to do when you grow up?  Grow up get that job I was talking about.  Job to pay the bills that is interesting.  Back in my day at least for me it was go to school and learn.  School was fun.  Classes and recess.  Learning was fun and playing was fun. In the third or fourth grade we had a learning program where we taught ourselves and learned to read at our own rate, take tests on subjects we just read then move on to a more difficult topic.  This was self learning of subjects at our own rate that I really enjoyed.  You can tell I never really learned how to write very well.  This worked for me, how it worked for other kids I don't know.  But the goal is to get a good education so as to get a good job with a good income to pay the bills and to do what you want to do when you grow up.  (A really long sentence full of really small words).  The word good and how it is used in the previous sentence is interesting. What is a good education? What is a good job?  What is a good income?  Each one is a huge topic. Every human deserves the best education.  This should be one goal for humanity.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Holiday Food Decision in the Past

While I try not to dwell on the past, this time of year makes me think about the two meals we used to have at either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  We would decide between two meals, one for Thanksgiving the other for Christmas.  One meal was the traditional turkey dinner (which has made an interesting evolution over the 22 years I've lived in Louisiana), the other was steak and lobster.  I say the decision was made, really it came down to Bernie and what she wanted to do since she did all the cooking.
The turkey dinner involved baking a stuffed (yes which people here termed "yankee stuffing") turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, lots and lots of gravy, steamed broccoli with cheese, small green bean casserole for Bernie (I started to eat a little more of it as time evolved, time does that you know), cranberry dressing for Bernie, that I didn't eat as time evolved. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.  This meal was amazing!!!! She made the best turkey dinners I've ever had in my life they were awesome.  The turkey was moist, the stuffing was just right (yes there was just the right amount of sage), cornbread dressing, I wanted to write stuffing but that's not right, perfect mashed potatoes and lots and lots of good thick gravy, and some broccoli for some green and good for you.  Truly awesome!!,  Bernie would later use the turkey carcass to make a big pot of turkey and sausage gumbo.  We ate turkey dinners for about two to three days after, then made turkey dinner plates, which were turkey meals which we then froze to make homemade turkey tv dinners.  A true feast.
Steak and lobster dinner sounds extravagant and I guess it is but you need to treat yourself every now and then.  You can find good steak on sale or in the old meat bin and the lobster were small lobsters in the meat counter that were like 5 dollars or so apiece.  Both the steak and lobster were grilled over charcoal.  Bernie said the lobster was done when the tail split open.  We would also have a baked potato with fake butter, sour cream and lots of pepper (which reminds me I really need to find a fresh pepper grinder, I've been looking for years, maybe Goodwill  will have one, ha interesting last few words), maybe broccoli also (broccoli is one of the few vegetables I like).  Of all the things you say as a kid that you will do when you get older, I hated vegetables as a kid and said I can't wait till I'm older.  Well when I left home I stopped eating the vegetables I hated as a kid.  I wanted to fly radio controlled airplanes as a kid either big gliders or gas powered airplanes.  When I had the income to do that I didn't.  I should have but didn't. Damn ol woulda, shoulda, coulda. Well maybe I will do that instead of playing golf.  Man I miss playing golf!!!! Damned don't have the $$$ to do airplanes now anyways. Well I listed myself on CraigsList as a Quantum Mechanic so who knows.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Do We Still have Wargasm?

With all the talk about Iran and its nuclear program the media does not widely report on the question of, what is the US currently doing to reduce our nuclear weapons and their delivery systems?  Last summer President Obama proposed to negotiate with Russia further reductions in each sides nuclear weapons (  What are the current status of such talks?  In talking about Iran's nuclear ambitions it would be good to show the world what the US is currently doing to reduce nuclear weapons in the US and Russia.
Even with the new START treaty (see below) is the US still basically using the cold war concept of Wargasm?   From the book "The Many Worlds of Hugh Everitt III" author Peter Bynes defines Wargasm as "Cold War operations researchers often used sexualized language to describe the doctrine of launching the entire arsenal of nuclear weapons in a first or second strike".  This is the old 1950-60's doctrine known as MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction).  There is a good reason I guess that this conversation is not being discussed publicly  in that annihilation from nuclear weapons is no longer in the minds of people as it was in the 60's and it is nice to keep it that way.  The question is what is currently happening in further START negotiations?  What we have in place with Russia now is New START which is:

New START as defined in Wikipedia:
 (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) (Russian: СНВ-III, SNV-III) is a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation with the formal name of Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. It was signed on 8 April 2010 in Prague,[3][4] and, after ratification,[5][6] entered into force on 5 February 2011.[1] It is expected to last at least until 2021.
New START replaced the Treaty of Moscow (SORT), which was due to expire in December 2012. In terms of name, it is a follow-up to the START I treaty, which expired in December 2009, the proposed START II treaty, which never entered into force, and theSTART III treaty, for which negotiations were never concluded.

Under terms of the treaty, the number of strategic nuclear missile launchers will be reduced by half. A new inspection and verification regime will be established, replacing the SORT mechanism. It does not limit the number of operationally inactivestockpiled nuclear warheads that remain in the high thousands in both the Russian and American inventories.[7]

I guess this goes along with START I:

START I as defined in Wikipedia:
 START(Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) was a bilateral treaty between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms. The treaty was signed on 31 July 1991 and entered into force on 5 December 1994.[1] The treaty barred its signatories from deploying more than 6,000 nuclear warheads atop a total of 1,600 ICBMssubmarine-launched ballistic missiles, and bombers. START negotiated the largest and most complex arms control treaty in history, and its final implementation in late 2001 resulted in the removal of about 80 percent of all strategic nuclear weapons then in existence. Proposed by United States President Ronald Reagan, it was renamed START I after negotiations began on the second START treaty.

The START I treaty expired 5 December 2009. On 8 April 2010, the replacement New START treaty was signed in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev. Following ratification by the U.S. Senate and the Federal Assembly of Russia, it went into force on 26 January 2011.

New START is with the Russian Federation while START I is with the USSR.  So I guess they both go together.  These have dramatically reduced our nuclear arsenals.  But is our nuclear weapon policy still Wargasm?  What is currently happening in arms reduction negotiations?

One avenue for arms reduction so to stop producing tritium in both countries.  Is it possible to verify production of tritium by both sides?  Since tritium is necessary in thermonuclear weapons a ban on tritium production would be arms reduction by physics since tritium has a half life of about 10 years.  The question is: Would it be difficult to verify the complete stopping of the production of tritium at reactors or accelerators?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Infinity, Multiverse, String Theory and other stuff

Thinking about infinities lately.  The infinities I’m thinking of are:

1).  The number of universes that could be contained in the multiverse.  This assumes the multiverse is infinite in its extent in spacetime.
2).  Infinite number of universes of me from the many worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics.  Actually, from me, is there an infinite number of universes of me based upon each universe could only be created after a time span of one Planck time (1 X 10^44 sec)?  No.  Our lives are like a movie with each frame separated by a Planck time. (Calculate frames in my lifetime). 
3).  Number of solutions to string theory is put at 10^500.  Not infinity but quite large.
4).  The various sizes of infinities.  Such as the whole numbers (1,2,3,4….) are infinite.  
Contained in the whole numbers are the even and odd numbers, each is infinite in number but are they smaller infinities than the whole numbers? Questions of sets of infinities.

I’ve been watching the Fabric of the Cosmos series and the last show was on the multiverse.  The multiverse arises in the inflation model which explains the expansion of the universe, among other problems.  The inflation model  predicted the patterns that have been observed in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB).  How close is the prediction to the data? The program says inflation theory predictions are borne out by CMB data.  Alan Guth and others will get Nobel prizes in physics.  One interpretation of inflation from some Russians (Linde and Velelin (I know this name is spelled wrong)) says that if this inflation was non uniform then you have big bangs happening in many places in this expansion.  Then you have many universes forming, thus you have the multiverse.  You can then have an infinite number of these multiverses?  Each one of these could have its own laws of physics.  Now remember there is infinity of them so somewhere there is a universe with me in it but I’m a Baptist minister, one where I’m a republican, one where I stayed in Idaho.   From this interpretation there is a universe then than represents all the different paths that my life could have taken.  Is this related to the universes created from the many worlds interpreatation of QM?  Are these the same universes?  Where is the infinity of universes made from the many worlds?   An infinite number of universes of me that represent all the possible branches that I could have followed?  My paths.  Now this is then true for every individual.  They also have an infinite number of universes.  Each individual has an infinite number.  So just now an infinite for me and all other we have a set of infinites just for us humans now on this planet.  Does this set then sits inside a bigger set that contains all the other universes that are out there?  Infinite sets that sit inside of other infinite sets. 
I know I’m not expressing this very well since I never could write.  Is it possible to to test such comments? These observations have to occur in our observable universe.  These other infinite number of universes do they exist outside our observable universe?  If so we will never observe them.  So do they exist inside our observable universe?  If they did what experimental signature would they leave?
String theory has something like 10^500 versions with each version describing its own universe.  How each version describes its own universe I’d like to see this explained in more detail.  Are these versions of string theory related to all the universes created in the multiverse?  Does each of the solutions of string theory correspond to a universe created in the multiverse?  Susskind seemed to think they do.  If there are 10^500 universes from string theory does that limit the number made by the multiverse?  Or does the multiverse make more?  Or is this all just metaphysics since these universes are located outside our observable universe?
The program mentions that the multiverse is highly debated.  I hope so!  Any model with an infinite number of universes works.  Still no solution to why something from nothing. The best answer to this question I read today in the comments section of an article in Huffington post  reviewing Jim Holts book “Why Does the World Exits?” The post was from Sandalwood 29Aug2012 10:31 AM, it stated:
“nothing” in the QM context replaced with “immeasurable” so ‘something from nothing’ becomes the measurable emerges from the immeasurable.

This is the best answer I have seen yet that resolves this age old question.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Quantum Mechanics

Just watched for about the third or fourth time the third DVD in the Fabric of the Cosmos series that was on PBS and done by Brian Greene along his book,  This series is similar to that which was done by PBS on Greene's book The Elegant Universe which is on string theory.  The third program is on quantum mechanics and I thought I'd write some comments about the program and general comments about quantum mechanics.

I wish I could write better.

I have been exposed to quantum mechanics more than the random person im pretty sure.  First off as I used to say to my students in an undergraduate physics course on quantum mechanics (QM), no one really understands quantum mechanics, if they tell you that they do understand it, they really don't understand it.  This is one of the really big questions in physics.  What does quantum mechanics really mean?  There are people both physicists, mathematicians, philosophers and others who study this question.  In an international meeting of such folks a survey was done on which interpretation  of QM these people believe. There was a variety of opinions, with the most folks (42%) there agreeing with the Copenhagen interpretation (that taught to most undergraduates). The Many Worlds interpretation I think got around 20%.  Plus there are other interpretations.  All of modern physics is based on quantum mechanics and relativity. Yet we really don't understand OM on a fundamental level, think Schrodinger's cat..  You really don't hear much discussion on the fundamental understanding of relativity.

Big problem.

The interesting thing about QM is that you can calculate a large variety of phenomenon from it and in all instances it agrees with experiment.  Every experiment, down to the last decimal point in the measurement that the experimental uncertainties allow.  That is amazing.  I used to tell students that I have read and heard in a variety of places about QM, just calculate, don't think about the deep meaning, just calculate. Maybe this is similar to the situation in the late 1600's with Newton and his law gravity.  As far as I know Newton was never happy about gravity in that he didn't understand how the force acted without the two bodies touching.  He had a problem with action at a distance.  I don't know if they called it that back in his time, but the idea of how gravity worked bothered him.  But still just go ahead and calculate with his Universal Law of Gravity and his three laws of motion and you have classical mechanics which explains almost all motion in our everyday day experience.  That is incredible if you really think about it.  I hope that's why he was Knighted.  Classical mechanics is now the first subject taught in introductory physics classes in college.  It is the subject of a year long class for physics students at the undergraduate level.  In my time it was also a year long class at the graduate level, I don't know if it still is that way now.  But still Newton didn't understand why gravity worked.  Commenting on his understanding of his laws of motion could be another post.

Einstein never liked QM and is suppose to have said that "God does not play dice with the universe".   The wave function is the all important thing that you calculate in the Schrodinger equation.  The wave function was describing a wave of probability and Einstein didn't like that physics now was based on probabilities.  I'm wondering however, in his time didn't statistical mechanics also have probabilities?  Quantum mechanics is the physics describing the atomic and smaller world.  Applying classical mechanics didn't work in that realm. Up until QM when physics calculated  quantities such as position and velocity of a particle the results were exact  Not probabilities.  Classical physics calculated exact positions not probable positions.  Einstein didn't like QM.  He thought that something was wrong with QM.   In 1935 he and two other guys (a nicer way would be to say collaborators), Podolsky and Rosen published a paper known as EPR on what they thought were problems with QM.  I don't know all the details about such paper.  John Bell published a paper (need to look up when) looking at QM, in which we have something called Bell's inequalities (which I really don't know much about).

An interesting phenomenon in QM is the concept of entanglement which Einstein called spooky action at a distance.  Remember Newton never liked the idea of action at a distance his law of gravity implied.    The NOVA program then talked about implications of entanglement like teleportation, which has been done in the lab. I've read about such stuff years ago and really didn't understand what they were doing. More on this subject later.  Especially,when a person is teleported using quantum entanglement would that person have the same consciousness?.

A question about QM is the measurement problem.  What really happens when we measure something about say an individual electron in the laboratory.  The collapse of the wave function?  What does the Many World interpretation of QM say about this type of measurement?  What does the Path Integral approach to QM have to say? Are the Many World interpretation and the Path Integral approach similar?

Quantum Mechanics, the stuff that you can lie in bed late at night and wonder about. A tad different than: head hits pillow, pillow hits head.

Universal Health Care

As usual more noise from the republicans about ACA. is not the ACA (Obamacare).  Why are people against against health care insurance for people?  Surely they want people to have access to healthcare when needed, don't they?  Surely they want people to be able to have annual or semi-annual for some, health check ups by their primary care doctor, don't they?  Why against a benefit for people?

I know the republicans don't want government in the health care business. They want private business to do this sort of thing. We tried that and it didn't work for the elderly.  That's why we have Medicare.  If left to business they do what all successful business do and that is make a profit.  I'm not against profit, just the size of the profit. The implementation of medicare was before my time time but I'm guess ing medical insurance for the elderly was so expensive that most of them could not afford that insurance. Basically, the elderly were not profitable except at the highest rate.  Therefore the government stepped in and brought us Medicare.  I know Medicare has problems and I can write about that another day.

Why not Universal health care for all like all the industrialized countries on this planet have?  I know were America and have to do things our way.  But universal health care makes so much more sense and you think everyone would be for this program.  Companies should love it since they won't have to pay for medical benefits for its employees. States should love it for the same reason.  In fact I think some states like Montana are setting up there own health care systems for state employees. I read something about that online.  I should try to get back my old HTML skills so that I can have links.  Universal Health Care would be wonderful in the United States.  In all the years I lived in Canada I never heard people complaining about health insurance or even talking about it.  Going to the doctor was taken for granted and that's the way it was.  People didn't go bankrupt when they got cancer or other major medical problems.  You didn't lose everything you had if you got sick.  You got taken care of, it just wasn't thought about.

The people in the United States deserve as much.

But its the good versus the evil. I'm not sure how to put this into simple words but it like: those who only think of themselves versus those who think about us all.  Colleges teach courses on ethics that cover such thoughts.  In fact, I used to joke about business ethic classes, in that the class was one sentence "there are none".  Philosophy departments teach ethics classes.  I never took such classes, they are probably fascinating.  My parents had it right in saying "treat people the way you want to be treated". Or as that best seller said, everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.  I still think kindergarten and grade school teachers, hell all teachers should be very highly paid, but that's another topic.

All people deserve the best their society has to offer.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Oct. 30, 2013   MONEY

People say its all about the money, its not.  In our society money is a tool or means to obtaining a larger issue.  Reproduction.  All living things have a basic goal of reproduction (I am sure biologists have much more to say about this).  Money is a way to help one reproduce in our society.  Humans want a safe secure environment in which to reproduce.    That means that humans must have a secure source of money to have a safe environment for the foreseeable future.  The more money the safer the environment.  This is on the basic level.  This is also in generalities.  I leave it to the reader to think of situations this doesn't pertain to, and that's a bunch.

Love fits in here somewhere.

Then, of course the human also wants that person to be compatible (not an asshole). 

Also this can led to the situation of wanting more money to attract the best possible mate.

 Reproduction is the basis of our society as a whole, not money.   

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Even if it hurts the country, they want to make Obama fail

Article today in the Washington Post (Oct. 29) about that some of the hardest hit areas in the country are those that have a Tea Party person as their Representative in the House.  The area mentioned was in the south just north of Atlanta.  People were complaining that the economy wasn't going well.  Well duhh, every attempt by Obama was met by the right in opposition.  Their argument was spending money would raise the debt.  Where were these people when the debt was raised to fund a ridiculous war in Iraq?  Obama stimulus attempts were blocked all along.  The only one that passed many economists said was too small.  If the economy is going slow look at the cause.  Money is not being spent like it should so the government has to stimulate the economy by infusing it.  Infrastructure programs would make a world of good.  I bet there are roads, bridges, sewer and water systems in that area that need repairing and new ones build.  Such programs would employ folks and also add to the infrastructure of that area.  Such roads, schools and the like are good for attracting outside business, but to build these the government needs to spend money to do such projects.  But all such programs were blocked by the Republicans saying they would raise the deficit.  When money was at an all time bargain to borrow with low interest rates it makes sense for the government to spend money to build projects that would also create jobs.  It would work.  The stimulus that did pass was shown to generate around a million jobs nationwide.  More should have been done.  But the Republicans tried their hardest to make all attempts to help the economy fail..  They didn't want Obama to look good at any cost,  Even if it hurt the country, and if businesses shutting down.

They talked to a man whose business of high end meat selling for Barbecuing was going out of business since he couldn't get loans from the bank to continue. The bank was saying that some banking legislation passed (something like Dodd-Frank or the some such) hindered them from loaning him money so he was going out of business so he was blaming Obama for his failure.  Well lets see where to start. Did this person really think that such a specialty store would actually be a success in the long run?  He was having to take loans out to continue his business.  Regulations or not no bank would lend you money if you needed cash to continue to operate when your business is failing.   Very few specialty stores make it these days and that's even in a large city, not like in a smaller town where his business was operated. A large chain store opened in his area, he was doomed. Welcome to the world of Walmart taking over.  Don't blame Obama.

The slow growth in the economy is partially due to the government not spending money that they should be to stimulate the economy..  Cuts in the government are hurting all areas.  When business is not spending to generate new job growth or even to continue present jobs the government need to step in and start to spend.  This has been blocked by Republicans.To create and sustain jobs someone has to spend money to do that.  There has to be a demand for the private sector to spend money to make money.  So who is left to generate jobs?  The government.

Both democrats and republicans need to work together to spend money on infrastructure to generate jobs.

Yes I know I ramble.

Monday, October 28, 2013

why not make it work?

Haven't posted since 2005 so lets see.

Getting ready to watch game 5 of the world series.  I'm getting tire of the wingnuts complaining about the ACA website not working properly.  Maybe once this law was pasted by both houses of congress, signed by the president and being upheld by the SCOTUS you might have helped this program to work.  After all its your plan, thought up by the wingnut Heritage Foundation.  We liberals wanted a nice simple single payer health plan like the rest of the civilized world.  BUT no, the health care plan that could got pasted was ACA, so live with and help make it work.  BUT no,just like everything the Kenyan socialist puts forward you say NO.  You have tried to sabotage everything that Obama proposes.