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.